Unlimited Fafnir:Volume 1 Chapter 4
Chapter 4 - Roaring Fafnir
"Stay away... Stay away..."
Mitsuki pleaded while her tiny shoulders shook.
She pleaded to the blue giant approaching from afar, the "Blue" Hekatonkheir that was trampling houses, roads, trees, cars, flattening everything underfoot.
And all I could do was watch. Even weaker than Mitsuki, I was unable to do anything.
I wanted power, the power to make Mitsuki's wish come true, the power to eliminate all hardship, the power to pummel that thing which was making Mitsuki sad!
—Neun, demand, confirm—
At this moment, I heard an emotionless voice in my mind. Crack, I saw a tiny sapling, breaking through the asphalt surface of the road to emerge.
—Circuits of omniscience, partial release, consider, aligned interests, proposal, make a deal—
What? Who the heck are you?
Fragmented words poured into my mind directly. The originally intermittent voice gradually gained fluency.
—I, am, Gaia's oldest, dragon species, Zwo. Known as Kiskanu according to Acht, or Yggdrasil—
I could not help but exclaim quietly in surprise.
Seven extraordinary organisms had suddenly appeared on Earth. According to announcements, they were monsters called dragons, the same type as what were recorded in legends. And one of them matched the name the voice just told me.
Could this be... the green dragon, "Green" Yggdrasil?
I looked downwards at the tiny sapling and felt myself shuddering.
What's going on? Is this real?
I had never heard of dragons being able to converse with humans. More importantly, whether dragons possessed that level of intellect was still unknown.
For days on end, the television had been broadcasting news about dragon disasters. They also saw dragons as monsters impossible to communicate with.
—Again, confirmation, demand consideration, make a deal with me—
A deal...? Speaking of which, I had said the same thing earlier.
What the heck are you offering me? And what price do I have to pay?
—Offer is, power. Demand is, extermination—
Extermination? Extermination of what...?
—All dragon species, apart from myself—
What...? Aren't you on the same side? You're a dragon like them, right?
—No, we are different beings. They are guardians whose missions have ended, living on without purpose, existences causing harm, existences who have outlived their usefulness, what the planet seeks is Neun—
Guardians? Harm? Neun?
Because it was too sudden, I could not even understand half of what it had said.
What I got the basic gist was only that Yggdrasil regarded other dragons as enemies. If Hekatonkheir was called our common enemy, then our interests were definitely aligned.
...Will I really obtain power if I made a deal with this thing?
Power capable of driving away that giant—
While I was lost in deep thought, the blue monster continued to lumber towards our town.
Mitsuki fired a full-powered strike with a scream.
Although her attack gouged a massive hole in Hekatonkheir's body, the wound recovered instantly.
No good. Hekatonkheir was immortal. No matter what damage was inflicted, it was pointless.
Even so, Mitsuki still confronted the giant bravely.
"Mitsuki... You just don't give up, do you?"
I said calmly to her.
"How can I possibly... give up?"
Mitsuki answered in a hoarse voice.
"Why? Father and Mother have evacuated already. Everyone else has fled long ago. There's nothing left that needs to be protected at all costs like this—"
"There is! This place has our home! That town is where we were able to become family!!"
Mitsuki yelled, interrupting me.
"...Okay, I see now."
I exhaled lightly and placed my hand on Mitsuki's head.
"Here on—Leave everything to me."
I made my decision.
—I want power. I agree to the deal!
I spoke as loudly as I could in my mind.
No matter who it was, no matter what kind of price, I cared not.
So long as it could change the fate of the town that was about to disappear, it would be enough.
What flowed into me then was a power completely different from what I originally envisioned. With no energy included at all, it was a power that was unable to take effect independently.
It was a vast amount of information regarding power that used to exist in the past.
And at the same time, I lost many things, losing things I needed as Mononobe Yuu.
Hence, I was no longer Mononobe Yuu.
Starting from that point, I had become something different.
I woke up to the siren blaring. Then I immediately saw Iris' face appear before my eyes.
Seeing Iris sound asleep at a distance where we could feel each other's breathing, I instantly became wide awake.
I should have had my back towards her, but unknowingly, I had turned around in my sleep somehow.
Fortunately, she was no longer clinging to me, so I left Iris and got off the bed.
Inside the room where the lights were still switched off, only the monitor glowed brightly.
The siren was not coming from the monitor but the speakers for communications.
This was a warning that Leviathan had approached the alert zone in the waters.
On screen, the battle was finally beginning.
Just outside Midgardsormr, NIFL's battleships were blocking Leviathan's path. A giant silhouette could be seen in the sea. It looked like it was swimming at a shallower depth compared to yesterday.
Pillars of water rose in its surroundings.
Attacks were apparently starting at last.
In the next instant, a hole opened up in the sea.
It was Leviathan's ability—Antigravity. The power to push away and reject everything.
Pushed away, the seawater formed giant waves, striking and sinking many ships.
Judging from the fact that the ships appeared to be pea-sized in comparison, that hole's diameter reached almost ten kilometers. Then a giant creature surfaced from that hole.
"That's... 'White' Leviathan."
Despite having seen it on photographs before, upon seeing a live video feed like now, I could not help but feel shocked by that overwhelming presence.
The screen had switched to an angle as though the camera was on a ship. Using an antigravity field to float into the air, Leviathan's impressive body was being filmed from below. It was so gigantic that it could not fit inside the screen. The surrounding ships looked almost like toys.
According to the speculation of scientists, this dragon might be mutated from a blue whale.
Indeed, with front flippers, tail fins and an air hole on its back, it shared the same characteristics as marine mammals. However, it definitely did not look like the same type of creature.
Covered all over by a white outer shell, it had a giant horn on its head and rows of sharp teeth like a carnivorous predator, not something one could still consider the same species as the blue whale.
The fleet could be seen firing anti-air guns and surface-to-air missiles, but no matter what was fired, they all stopped in midair before being repelled.
Struck directly by missiles that were sent back, the ships exploded and scattered.
—I finally realized what Mitsuki meant by deflecting back.
Looking at the half-wrecked fleet, I began to think at the same time.
If one wanted to breach the repulsive field using projectiles, the only way would be to break through using massive momentum. Since the enemy's ability was already understood, NIFL must have used high-speed shells as much as possible, but to end up with this outcome... It was probably because they had yet to find out the maximum output of Leviathan's repulsive field, right?
"Did lots of people just die in the attack?
I heard a trembling voice behind me. I looked back to see Iris staring at the monitor, having just woken up.
"...It's probably okay. Because the NIFL battleships attacking on the frontlines are almost all unmanned ships controlled remotely through cloud systems."
Anti-dragon battles were essentially battles where sacrifice was inevitable. Hence, NIFL would always send out unmanned fighter jets and fleets. Hopefully, there were no human losses.
At this moment, what appeared from the satellite view was a red marker. The marker was approaching Leviathan at high speed.
Assuming this was a weapon under NIFL's jurisdiction, I had a pretty good idea what it was.
The anti-dragon ICBM, Gáe Bolg, named after the spear used by a Celtic mythological hero, was their latest weapon. Tipped with mithril, it was able to pierce any dragon's skin to cause an explosion inside.
Of all the weapons whose development I participated in, this was supposed to be the most effective.
This was the manner in which I made effective use of the power I had obtained from my deal with Yggdrasil. And now, it was time for it to show results.
Gáe Bolg would use multiple boosters to accelerate during its descent to reach a final speed beyond Mach 40. It was most likely the fastest projectile weapon on Earth.
The strongest spear created by mankind was about to strike Leviathan from the air.
The video image instantly distorted while a violent explosion turned the screen white.
After a slight delay, nearby screens also turned into white images.
"What's the outcome...?"
Iris asked with worry.
"No idea. As long as it hits, any dragon should not be able to come out unscathed but—"
Even after the bright light faded, the screen was still shrouded in smoke, showing nothing.
But after a while when the smoke had dissipated, the giant white body swam out from the smoke.
The repulsive field pushed smoke away while Leviathan emerged completely unharmed.
"Why is it fine despite such a strong explosion?"
Iris groaned with disbelief.
"Whether the missile or the explosion, they were probably pushed back by the repulsive field. Judging from the aftermath with smoke everywhere, the repulsive field contracted momentarily. Just a bit more, and it could have reached the dragon's body."
Ultimately, using my power was still not enough.
Leviathan moved past NIFL's fleet to approach Midgardsormr's first defensive line.
Spread in a circle, 20m-tall cube-shaped units deployed round lens openings.
Immediately, dozens of bright light beams shot at Leviathan.
"This time... Tactical high-energy lasers."
As a laser weapon, delivery was near lightspeed, far surpassing that of Gáe Bolg, striking the instant it was shot. However, the lasers were distorted unnaturally in front of Leviathan and ended up flying past the dragon.
"M-Mononobe! What happened this time?"
Iris got off the bed, crouched down next to me and asked.
"By my guess, it probably used the repulsive field to warp space, how troublesome... It seems to adjust countermeasures depending on the situation. It probably judged the lasers as unblockable."
I had also participated in the development of tactical high-energy lasers.
Because my only friend at NIFL was in the technological development department, I would often visit during my training breaks, passing my knowledge to him discreetly.
One could say that NIFL's technology was raised by many levels using the knowledge of power I had received from Yggdrasil.
However... This weapon was not enough to defeat a dragon either.
"Ahhh... It's breaching the first defensive line."
Iris sighed with disappointment.
"No, the plan is apparently to let it pass. The Dragon Subjugation Squad is already waiting at the second defensive line."
I pointed to another screen.
In the air above the laser units, the girls were wielding their respective weapons. Lisa was in the center of the group. With her fictional armament raised—Gungnir—she said something.
Immediately, the units of the first and second defensive lines all fired lasers simultaneously.
This was a saturation attack executed from two fronts. Using spatial distortion as evasive measures would not be able to handle attacks coming from all directions.
A number of lasers struck Leviathan, causing damage for the first time. Scorching, slicing through its outer shell, the lasers left numerous burns on the surface.
However, the target was far too massive. Perhaps it was not even enough to inflict pain. Although Leviathan was injured to some extent, it still continued to advance unfazed.
Then with Lisa in the lead, the Dragon Subjugation Squad attacked.
The defense offered by spatial distortion had reached a limit. Leviathan could no longer handle all attacks. A thick beam of light released by Lisa pierced Leviathan's left flipper.
At this moment, the white monster bared its sharp teeth, reacting for the first time.
Next to me, Iris suddenly clutched her flank.
"Hey, are you okay?"
"...This is bad, it's angry... Everyone, run away—"
Through the nightgown's sheer fabric, I could see the dragon mark glowing intensely.
Around Leviathan's giant horn, the surrounding scenery became distorted.
Then Leviathan opened its massive jaws. Although I could not hear any sound from the video feed, I knew the dragon was roaring.
The sea—It split apart.
Everything along Leviathan's route of advance was sent flying away. Giant laser units broke and scattered, falling into the surrounding sea.
Originally in formation, the Dragon Subjugation Squad was also scattered in disarray.
BOOM—A low vibration also reached the shelter where we were.
Looking at the satellite view, let alone the second defensive line, even the third and final defensive lines had collapsed in some parts.
It had probably deployed a repulsive field in front of itself then shot it like a cannonball.
"This is... quite bad."
I remarked bitterly.
The attack just now clearly showed the gap in power between humans and dragons.
The Dragon Subjugation Squad gathered and attacked again. Leviathan was still quite far from Midgard.
Lisa's face was seen for an instant on the screen, showing no signs of giving up.
However, if one were to draw early conclusions based on the battle so far—
Just as I was thinking that, the shelter's speakers could be heard.
'Student No. 8 of Brynhildr Class, Mononobe Yuu—Please hurry to the command center in the clock tower. I repeat—'
Iris looked at me in surprise.
"Mononobe, they're calling for you?"
"Yeah... That's right."
An ominous feeling turned into certainty. My fears had evidently turned into reality.
"What's with you? Why are you making such a scary face...?"
"Iris, put on your uniform quickly and come to the command center with me."
I instructed her swiftly. There was probably not much time left.
"Eh? I thought I'm not supposed to leave the shelter...?"
"Ignore that, hurry! If you stay here any longer—You might be killed!"
Holding Iris' hand, I ran along the corridor.
In any case, I must acquire a correct grasp of the situation first. I only hope that a certain person was not the enemy, but—
"Mononobe! Explain to me properly!"
"There's no time. Just put up with it and follow me!"
I yelled forcefully in agitation. Iris went red in the face for some reason.
Iris replied politely and nodded.
Bringing Iris who had suddenly become obedient, I arrived at the clock tower. Since it was currently underground, the clock was not visible but the building had other functions.
The clock tower was currently used as the Dragon Subjugation Squad's command center.
I placed my student ID on the panel sensor in front of the command center. Probably because I was not authorized for entry, the door did not open automatically, but instead, Shinomiya-sensei's voice spoke.
"Yes, I was called here."
'I only summoned you. Why did you bring her along?'
My taking Iris out of the shelter seemed to have been discovered already.
"Because I believe that Iris will be at risk if she's left alone in the shelter."
Getting silence as the response, I concluded that my premonition was correct.
"—I would like to have a word with you, Shinomiya-sensei, could you please come out?"
I said that and waited for a while. Then the command center's door opened and Shinomiya-sensei walked out. With dark circles under her eyes, she probably had not slept.
"I don't have time. Please make it brief."
Shinomiya-sensei had her arms crossed before her chest while she looked at me and Iris next to me.
"Iris, cover your ears for now."
Iris widened her eyes in surprise. With a solemn expression, I said:
"Because I think it's best that you don't listen to this."
Iris obediently covered her ears with her hands. After making sure she had done so, I exchanged gazes with Shinomiya-sensei.
"I'll ask directly. Shinomiya-sensei, did you accept NIFL's request?"
"...What are you talking about?"
After pausing for a while, that was what Shinomiya-sensei asked in return.
"I'm guessing the other side probably issued a one-sided notice that they will deploy troops to prevent the worst-case scenario, right? Deciding it was impossible to stop them, Shinomiya-sensei, to avoid unnecessary sacrifices, you tried to separate me from Iris... Am I wrong?"
"—Looks like there is no point for me to cover it up any further."
Shinomiya shook her head with a solemn expression then said:
"Indeed... I decided not to stop NIFL's action but I did not agree completely with their demands either. My additional condition was that they are forbidden to make a move before the final defensive line is breached. They would have taken forceful measures if I refused their demands outright. With that, we would have no chance of winning because we are not trained in anti-personnel combat. Hence, this is the barely acceptable compromise."
Shinomiya-sensei explained her reasons in a forceful voice.
"At the critical moment, you intend to let NIFL stain their hands, right?"
"...If someone has to do it, that would be a feasible option. Already... I don't want Mononobe Mitsuki to bear another cross."
Shinomiya-sensei lowered her head, nodding with a somber expression. Her voice seemed to carry heavy emotions.
"Bearing a cross—you mean the matter of your younger sister?"
I asked directly.
"...So you know. Indeed, turned into a Kraken, my younger sister was killed by Mononobe Mitsuki. I ordered her to do so."
Shinomiya-sensei looked up and answered with a commander's face.
"What... It was your order? Why—"
"Because I was the Dragon Subjugation Squad's captain at the time and only Mononobe Mitsuki's antimatter projectile could defeat the Kraken."
Shinomiya-sensei spoke without changing expression. I could not read the emotions in the dark depths of her eyes.
Although I had heard during class that there was only one D who could create antimatter, I never expected it would be Mitsuki.
"...Mononobe Mitsuki followed my orders without saying a word. By her own hand, she killed her best friend. And this time, she intends to do the deed again. But if such a heavy burden were to be imposed upon her again... Her mind won't withstand it."
Best friend... This was my first time hearing that Shinomiya Miyako and Mitsuki had that kind of relationship.
"—Shinomiya-sensei, you accepted NIFL's request for Mitsuki's sake as well as to delay killing Iris immediately, right?"
"Although I absolutely do not consider that the best decision."
Shinomiya-sensei nodded bitterly.
"No... It's enough as long as it's not the worst. Anyway, I'm relieved that you don't seem like you're in a hurry to get rid of Iris."
"I used to be a D even though I've lost my powers. I won't treat any of my juniors lightly, no matter whom."
Shinomiya-sensei spoke in a strong and powerful tone of voice.
"I get it. Then just leave the rest to me."
Hearing what I said, Shinomiya-sensei frowned.
"I'll drive away those interfering guys from the army. Letting Iris die as a human was the mission I accepted, so I don't intend to let anyone else have it."
"You'll drive away the army? Don't be ridiculous, what can you do as one person?"
"As long as the opponents are humans, there is nothing I can't do."
I simply said the truth. As for what expression was on my face at the time, I had no idea, but an expression of fear did flash across Shinomiya-sensei's face.
"An ambush is best set up as early as possible. Shinomiya-sensei, please tell me the army's route of invasion."
Iris and I were running together along an underground passage in Midgard.
"Hey Mononobe! We're heading out to defeat the people coming to kill me, is that really true?"
"Yes, the team sent by the enemy is very likely Sleipnir, the special forces under my former commanding officer Major Loki's direct command. I'm gonna drive them all away."
Although there was no concrete evidence, this possibility was the most likely seeing as a D was the target.
"Is it really okay... for me to come along?"
"That's actually the safest way. As long as you stay at my side, Iris, I won't let you die—until the moment I decided to kill you."
"Ooh... You're not allowed to say something like that!"
"Huh? Something like what?"
"What I mean is stop saying such cool things!"
Iris yelled with her face red.
The passage's wall was marked "A-6." Shinomiya-sensei said she opened this passage to the army.
I had memorized Midgard's map for the most part. Suppose the harbor and the beach were considered the front of the island, then this passage should be leading to the cliffs and rocky shore on the back of the island.
That direction happened to be nearer to the side where the final defensive line was partially damaged from Leviathan's attack.
NIFL probably intended to invade through the damaged parts of Midgardsormr. If the final defensive line had remained intact, trying to enter Midgard without permission would have been impossible even for an elite team.
There was a flight of stairs ahead in the passage. Humid wind caressed our cheeks. The partition wall for the ground level entrance had apparently been opened.
"Iris, starting now, keep walking 2m behind me."
Originally following me closely, Iris did as told and kept a bit of distance.
I exhaled greatly, gradually switching away from the consciousness that had grown lax from school life.
Anti-personnel weapon—AT Nergal.
Using the dark matter extracted by my right hand to perform transmutation, I formed my familiar gun.
Holding the grip, I approached the stairs. In front of the stairs, a rectangular blue sky could be seen.
I rushed to the top of the stairs in one breath then peered at the situation outside.
There was a vast open space outside, roughly twenty meters in radius, with tropical plants growing all around, blocking visibility farther ahead. However, faint sounds of waves could be heard, so the sea should be quite close.
Iris climbed up the stairs, panting heavily as she called out my name.
"Don't worry, Iris, just stay there quietly and don't move. I'll take care of them soon."
I stroked Iris' beautiful hair gently then walked to the ground.
Although invisible, there were people present.
Focusing my concentration, I keenly sensed other people's gazes.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. This was murderous intent that I had forgotten for a while now.
Vision, hearing, touch. These senses gradually became clear.
As though waking up from sweet slumber, the world was gradually dyed by the vivid color of danger.
Now that I think back, when I first arrived at this island, my mood felt as though I was having a dream.
That feeling was correct. I had been sleeping, enjoying a happy dream.
But it was impossible to fight in a state of slumber.
Hence, I must wake up briefly from the comfortable dream.
I could not feel fear, because I had already lost the emotion of fear three years ago.
Only now, there was no need for me to adhere to Midgard's ways. This was a familiar battlefield for me.
The corners of my lips naturally rose.
The presences numbered one, two, three...
"...Eight people. Just as expected, it's Sleipnir."
Sleipnir was the name of the eight-legged war horse appearing in Norse mythology. NIFL's Sleipnir team was composed of eight members as the legs and one person as the head.
"I can't believe you guys have the gall to steal my prey. Have you prepared yourselves?"
My tone of voice naturally turned violent.
The pressure of a battlefield quietly made me excited.
No answer. Neither did I hear any unnatural sounds.
Just the way it should be. Because among my subordinates, there were no idiots foolish enough to answer these words.
Only murderous intent gradually grew tense. The instant of gunfire—Now was the moment!
I pointed Nergal's muzzle at the jungle and pulled the trigger without hesitation.
A scream came from the depths of the jungle, accompanied by a popping sound.
The Nergal was a projectile-based electroshock gun.
It did not simply paralyze the target. As long as it hit, the target was almost guaranteed to faint. Even if they could wake up immediately, they would still be unable to walk for several hours. Although it was a non-lethal weapon for subduing people, it was quite a dangerous weapon.
While running towards my next prey, I generated dark matter in the magazine, transmuting bullets.
My dark matter generating capacity was far less than other Ds. Although I could not transmute more than ten kilograms of matter, below that—on the level of bullets for example—as long as my stamina permitted, I could create as many times as I wanted.
Nergal's capacity was nine shots, but as long as I was the user, there was no worry of running out of bullets.
I used Nergal to fire consecutively at enemy presences I sensed in the jungle, but I did not get the feeling I had hit anything.
As though chasing after my trail, shots fired from the right scarred the ground.
I returned fire to pin down the enemy while jumping into the jungle. Then I charged at the enemy who had evaded Nergal.
I saw a man dressed in camouflage gear, bullet vest, helmet and a mask, trying to fire his submachine gun at point blank range.
Before the man could shoot, I kicked the submachine gun's front end upwards.
Rat-at-at-at-at—The stream of bullets struck the leaves in the tree.
I charged in front of the man who was exposing an opening, then pulled Nergal's trigger at point blank range.
The man's entire body convulsed. With eyes rolled up, he fainted.
The other side did not persist in attacking. I took a closer look and saw three Sleipnir members ignoring me to head towards the entrance to the underground passage.
"—I'm really being underestimated here."
I immediately charged those men.
Along my route of advance, a black and round object rolled out..
Anti-explosive armament—Uruk 73E.
Generating dark matter underfoot, I transmuted it into part of the armor plating used by NIFL tanks.
Using guns with infinite ammunition combined with shields created from transmutation, that was my original fighting style. Because Nergal was enough for offense, I essentially used dark matter only for defense and replenishing ammunition.
Siegfried's high firepower technique was not needed against humans.
Boom—The impact and sound of the explosion erupted under the armor plating. Instantly, the world turned upside down.
The grenade's explosion had sent the armor plating into the air with me included.
However, my gaze did not leave the enemy.
While my view was upside down, I fired Nergal consecutively.
Since I was firing from midair, it was impossible to aim precisely, but I managed to hit one of the men. Dropping the gun in his hand, he also collapsed on the ground.
However, the remaining men pointed their muzzles at me while I was still in the air. I could sense five sets of murderous gazes on my body.
There were two mobile enemies in the plaza while the remainder were amidst the trees.
Of the presences in the jungle, one was positioned farther away, most likely a sniper.
Using my low generating capacity to make a shield covering all vectors of enemy attacks would lower the thickness no matter what. Too thin a barrier would get penetrated by rifle bullets.
—In that case, I only needed to defend precisely.
My accelerated consciousness and expanded senses in the battlefield were raised to an even higher level.
Switching modes in my brain, I switched to a certain being that Major Loki wanted to mold me into.
Back then, Major Loki had said:
Your talent is neither the ability to create dark matter as a male, nor making inexplicably appropriate suggestions in weaponry development. Rather—You resemble me greatly.
What he meant by that... I still did not understand, even now.
But that existence, which was gradually constructed inside me, Major Loki called it "Fafnir."
Anti-materiel armor—Damascus 09P.
Multiple gunshots rang out, but I had simultaneously created five small yet thick shields of steel along the firing lines.
The bullets struck the shields exactly as though they were attracted to them.
While descending, I reloaded Nergal's bullets using dark matter transmutation.
Then I fired the instant I landed. Of the two men remaining in the open space, I was aiming at the one on the right, but the other guy rushed out and got hit.
Grunting in pain, the man collapsed.
With that, only one person remained mobile in the plaza with three in the jungle.
I did not shoot but pointed Nergal's muzzle at the last person remaining in the plaza.
Judging from the way someone took a bullet for him, this guy was most likely the team captain. In that case, I might be able to use him as a hostage.
To make sure the three in the jungle heard, I yelled loudly.
The man originally wanted to aim his gun at me, but despite cursing the whole time, he stopped his motions. The attacks from the jungle also stopped.
"Hey, is that the way to speak to the former captain... Hmm? Who the heck... are you?"
His face was obscured by the mask, but the voice did not belong to anyone in Sleipnir.
"W-Who the heck are you!? What is your goal!?"
He did not recognize me...?
On further thought, they were too weak, after all.
I took another look. Their equipment was different too. Members of Sleipnir were supposed to be equipped with MP Nergal, but I coudl not see that kind of gun among these guys' equipment.
It looked like they were not the people sent by Major Loki.
Had he kept his promise to me? No... Judging from the number of people, eight, I could feel that this was his doing.
Most likely, he had abstained from action, instead goading someone else to do it. Major Loki was someone who was capable of doing that nonchalantly.
—However, there was meaning for me to accept Major Loki's request.
Had I refused, the team he sent to Midgard would undoubtedly be Sleipnir. With that, winning would not be this easy.
I exhaled and glared at the man who was trembling from anger.
"—Are you fine with this? If you continue to fight, more of your team will be injured, yes? There are currently four people incapacitated and four unscathed as well. If you intend to retreat with your comrades, now ought to be the limit."
"If anyone else is rendered immobile, that person will have to stay, leaving evidence behind whether dead or alive. Midgard simply decided not to interfere in NIFL's operation but did not grant you permission to come ashore. Are you really fine with letting the outside world know of this?"
Still glaring at me, the man put down his gun and made a gesture with his hand.
With a rustling from the jungle, men emerged and picked up their teammates. The initial spot where I had shot with Nergal also had someone emerge with a teammate on his back.
The man in front of me issued a brief order. Picking up one of his teammates, he also disappeared among the trees.
I stayed on alert until all presences had gone afar.
Amidst the sound of waves, faint engine noises could be heard. They probably used some kind of boat to leave.
I exhaled and relaxed my body, exiting combat mode, sinking the briefly awakened Fafnir into the depths of the subconscious.
"Iris, it's okay now!"
I yelled and Iris poked her head out from the underground passage entrance.
"I-I'm so glad... Mononobe, you're still alive..."
Iris ran over with tears in her eyes.
"I said I'd be fine."
"B-But... I kept hearing gunshots... I was so scared I didn't dare look out... Whenever I thought you might have been shot... I-I—"
Large droplets of tears flowed out of her eyes.
"...You're such a crybaby."
Despite feigning a look of exasperation, I actually felt slightly relieved. If she had seen me earlier, Iris might not have approached me so naturally now.
"Mononobe... Don't die, okay? Absolutely do not die, okay?"
"Come on, you should be worrying about your own life first. Although NIFL's intervention was prevented, unless Leviathan's is stopped, I'll still have to kill you, Iris."
"Yeah... I know, that's fine too. It's so weird... I'm actually not afraid of being killed."
Saying that, Iris wiped her tears away.
"Mononobe, what's left is to observe the battle against Leviathan, right? Then let's return to the shelter."
"—No, returning is useless."
Iris cocked her head in puzzlement.
"You saw Leviathan's powers, right? No matter how deep underground you hide, all it needs to do is approach the ground above would be easily forced apart, so returning to the shelter will only delay things slightly. Compared to doing that, even though it might bring the time limit forward, I'd like to do what I can do."
Holding Iris' hand, I walked over to the path connected to the plaza. The sound of waves became very near. Soon, we would reach a place with open visibility.
This was on a tall cliff, overlooking the sky and the sea. A line of Midgardsormr's laser units could be seen near the horizon, but a portion was broken from Leviathan's attack.
"Although out of sight, Leviathan is over there. If it breaches the final defensive line, we will intercept it here."
I pointed towards the other side of the damaged units and spoke.
"Ehhhh!? Just us? That's too difficult..."
"No, from what I saw before, Iris, your attack is the most effective against Leviathan."
"That's right, Iris, you're able to generate dark matter at specific locations. Just by creating explosives near the enemy's body, you should be able to do definite damage to it."
Causing explosions inside the enemy's body would be even better, but unfortunately, dark matter was very unstable prior to transmutation. As soon as it came into contact with matter apart from the person who generated it, the dark matter would vanish.
Just by transmuting it, dark matter could be used to create material for stopping bullets, but when maintained in the state of dark matter, it was so fragile that even collisions with nitrogen and oxygen molecules would gradually wear it away.
Hence, trying to send dark matter into Leviathan's body was impossible.
"Me... fighting Leviathan..."
"Yes, don't hold back and do it. I will also—do everything I can."
Then at this moment, a voice came from above.
"I remember you mentioning that you do not have the power to defeat Leviathan, Nii-san."
I looked up at the sky in surprise, only to see Mitsuki floating in the air. Holding a glowing fictional armament in the form of an iridescent bow, she was gazing upon us strictly.
I did not feel too surprised when watching from afar or through videos, but it still startled me to see from up close a human hovering in the air like this.
According to what Shinomiya-sensei said in class, flying was possible just by maintaining dark matter in the state of a fictional armament while intermittently transmuting air. Given the lack of dark matter at my disposal, this skill was not possible for me.
"Nii-san, why are you here? The same goes for Iris-san too... Please think about your position."
Iris apologized on reflex whereas I placed my hand on her shoulder.
"Iris, you don't need to apologize. This battle concerns your life. You have the right to try your hardest to survive. We will intercept Leviathan here."
Hearing this, Mitsuki's expression grew even more serious.
"Are you... serious?"
"Of course I'm serious. Rather, why are you here, Mitsuki? Weren't you fighting alongside Lisa and the others?"
Hearing me ask that, Mitsuki clenched her fist and answered gravely.
"...The third defensive line has been breached. There is no turning back."
"What...? Mitsuki, you can shoot antimatter, right? Even that move doesn't work?"
The trump card that had defeated "Purple" Kraken in the past was one of my greatest hopes.
But Mitsuki shook her head.
"It does not. Very regrettably, after using laser attacks to bait Leviathan into distorting space, I finally landed one hit with difficulty... But the explosion was repressed by a repulsive field and could not cause serious damage."
My hopes were easily dashed in an instant. I could not find any words to say.
Mitsuki gazed down at me and explained the situation calmly.
"Whether poison that would spread from a single hit or a chain of attacks, Leviathan would slice off parts of its body to neutralize them. It is most likely using multiple repulsive fields to create spatial discontinuities to gouge it own body. Since its body is so humongous, it only results in trivial scratches."
"No other methods... are effective?"
I asked in a hoarse voice.
"Nothing comes to my mind—No. Defeating it through constant accumulation of small wounds is the only way, I think. We are currently attacking using the Dragon Subjugation Squad's full force... But chances of making it in time are very low, hence I... returned to prevent the worst-case scenario."
Mitsuki spoke in a depressing tone.
"Hey, you don't mean to say—"
"Indeed... When Leviathan breaches the final defensive line, I shall personally kill Iris-san."
Mitsuki stared at Iris with an expression like she was forcibly holding something in.
And as though trying to block her gaze, I stood in front of Iris.
"Sorry, Mitsuki, Iris has already promised me."
"Nii-san... Did you forget the condition I set out?"
Mitsuki's gaze turned sharp.
"I remember but it's Iris who entrusted her life directly to me. Even if my adorable little sister asks me, I can't hand this job to anyone else."
"A-Adorable!? T-This is not the time for saying weird things! Orders must absolutely be followed! Had you not agreed to this condition, I would not have permitted you to be Iris' bodyguard!"
Despite her blushing, Mitsuki still glared at me solemnly.
"In that case, I'll just have to do my own thing. If you're going to kill Iris, Mitsuki, I'll protect her."
"Stop saying such willful things! This is what I must do! Because my hands are already tainted!"
Mitsuki said the same thing as before but now, I already knew the reason.
"—About Shinomiya Miyako?"
"I heard you were best friends."
Mitsuki bit her lip hard and did not answer. Although it was heartbreaking to see the suffering on Mitsuki's face, I still continued:
"What feelings you had when you killed your friend who had turned into a dragon... To be honest, it's impossible for me to imagine. But... You want to shoulder Iris' matter as well just because you killed that girl? I can't accept this kind of reason. Don't mix Shinomiya Miyako and Iris together as the same matter!"
Listening to me, Mitsuki gritted her teeth. But finally reaching the limit of her endurance, she spoke up:
"In that case... Who else should do it apart from me? This is the method I cannot accept. More importantly, Nii-san, I do not want you to be the one to kill Iris-san!"
Despite her trembling voice, that was how Mitsuki responded to me.
"I absolutely won't let you do it either, Mitsuki."
"...I have already decided, never to have regrets again like three years ago. I shall not leave anything to you again, Nii-san!"
Mitsuki and I glared at each other.
"...We're saying the same thing."
"Indeed... Viewpoints on parallel lines."
We both realized that further words were meaningless.
"Now this hasn't happened for a long time...Wanna fight?"
I tossed the Nergal in my hand to the ground and formed a weightless ornamental gun of dark matter. Mitsuki also raised her iridescent bow.
I could not use Nergal in a fight against Mitsuki because she probably would not want to see me like that.
Hence, I was going to confront her as Mononobe Yuu of Midgard, as Mitsuki's older brother. I knew very well that Siegfried was not suitable for combat against humans, but I had no choice but to go the whole way with it.
Feeling a fight about to break out, Iris panicked.
"Mononobe and Mitsuki-chan, you can't fight! Now's not the time for that—"
"No, now's exactly the time for that."
"No, now is exactly the time for that."
Mitsuki's words and mine overlapped.
"This stubborn little sister won't be persuaded by words alone."
"Obstinate beyond hope, Nii-san refuses to listen unless I do this."
I aimed Siegfried's muzzle at Mitsuki.
Mitsuki also nocked a black arrow of dark matter on her bow.
"What is the matter, Nii-san?"
"I've been wanting to tell you this... Your panties are showing, you know?"
Going red in the face, Mitsuki frantically held down the hem of her skirt.
I could not possibly miss that opening.
Siegfried was limited to a maximum of three shots of dark matter bullets. Once depleted, the fictional armament would disappear. Attacking again required Siegfried to be recreated, which would present a massive opening, hence bullets must not be wasted, however—
While building the picture in my mind, I fired a bullet filled with two shots worth of dark matter.
The black bullet transmuted in front of Mitsuki, forming a small metal cage. Due to my low generating capacity, the iron bars were quite slim but at least I managed to make a cage large enough to surround Mitsuki.
Weighed down by the metal cage in addition to her own weight, Mitsuki fell to the ground, but using the wind enveloping her body, Mitsuki landed gently just as she was about to contact the ground.
"Not only staring at other's panties but also conducting a sneak attack... Your methods are truly underhanded, Nii-san. But this is not enough to catch me, you know?"
Readying her bow from inside the cage, Mitsuki called out sharply:
The instant the small arrows struck the cage, the iron bars cracked and fell apart in pieces.
"That was a spear imbued with matter with the concept of destruction, capable of forcibly altering the state of any object it strikes. A high-level skill, but Leviathan handled it using the method of amputation."
Mitsuki explained calmly while nocking the next arrow to the bow.
In a contest of abilities as a D, I had no chance of winning.
But from the very start, I never expected the metal cage to trap Mitsuki. The point of the earlier attack was to drag her down to ground level. Because I could not do anything to her while she was flying in the air, I had to do this as the initial step of attacking, even if it meant consuming two shots worth of dark matter.
Just as I predicted, Mitsuki landed on the ground. I dashed towards her.
Mitsuki simply narrowed her eyes and spoke briefly.
The fired arrow turned translucent orange mid-flight before spreading out explosively. She had most likely transmuted dark matter into an adhesive net.
Deciding it was too late to evade, I raised Siegfried.
This was the last shot.
Mitsuki was not going to give me the time to create my fictional armament again. Hence, this transmutation was going to decide the victor.
I pulled the trigger, transmuting all the dark matter remaining in the fictional armament. Although Siegfried vanished, taking its place was something hard gripped in my right hand.
What I had transmuted was air that had been compressed into the shape of a knife. By raising the compression ratio, the knife's tip gave off high heat, producing a red afterimage.
This principle was the same as the air bullet I used during the test, but did not require the same difficult tuning. All I needed was heat sufficient to melt through the adhesive substance.
Using the high-temperature blade of air, I sliced Mitsuki's net.
Almost virtually unimpeded, I ripped apart the net before me that was about to cover me.
Mitsuki's expression turned even more solemn.
"Nii-san, you will get hurt if you continue to resist. First arrow—Forked Wind!"
Probably deciding it was impossible to capture me without causing injury, Mitsuki's gaze changed. She looked like she intended to use her prided technique.
While Mitsuki shot the arrow, the atmosphere's flow changed. The air gradually contracted. I tried to judge their number through wind currents, but the number of contraction points were too many for me to grasp completely.
Mitsuki's move was most likely the same as mine, an attack based on compressed air.
But the difference in level was too great. Her volume of transmutation could be described as horrifying.
Countless arrows of wind approached me.
It was virtually impossible to evade attacks that were invisible in the first place. Besides, they were too numerous, there were no gaps for dodging.
Impossible for a human, but if it was Fafnir—
—Just this one instant!
I gritted my teeth and switched modes again. My consciousness accelerated while the air currents read by my skin were added to my visual data.
This time, I understood.
The fired arrows of air—I could see them.
They numbered roughly a hundred.
I dodged and squeezed past those arrows. Those I could not dodge, I severed them with my high-temperature blade.
Breaking through the curtain of projectiles head on, I approached Mitsuki.
Meanwhile, she was staring in wide-eyed surprise.
I swung the knife of air. Just as it was about to touch her, I made the knife gasify and dissipate—
—Then I applied a light chop on Mitsuki's head.
"First person to touch the other's head wins. That's the rule we agreed for our fights. Noncompliance means severing our relationship, even as siblings, do you still remember?"
Mitsuki rubbed her forehead and nodded.
"Leave the matter of Iris to me."
However, she did not nod this time. Judging from Mitsuki's eyes, she was even prepared to break this fighting rule between siblings.
"It's fine if you still can't accept things. But through the fight just now, I'm sure you understand, right? Mitsuki, you can't stop me."
"There's no point arguing further about who's going to kill Iris. Instead, why don't we struggle and fight back to the bitter end?"
Just as I asked that, Iris exclaimed in surprise while looking in the sea's direction.
Mitsuki and I followed Iris' gaze.
On the other end of the destroyed laser units, the horizon was shaking nonstop. A giant silhouette was floating there like a mirage.
Small explosions happened there with bright flashes.
"Leviathan... has finally invaded to here—"
Mitsuki groaned with a grave expression.
Perhaps it was advancing quite quickly. The figure grew huge in the blink of an eye.
Because it was too massive, it was hard to judge the distance. Its outer shell of pure white was dotted with red, probably bleeding from the wounds caused by Midgardsormr and the Dragon Subjugation Squad.
A deep and sonorous cry reverberated everywhere. Iris was holding her flank. Even through her clothing, one could see her dragon mark glowing brightly.
"It's calling me... It's crying that it wants me—"
Perhaps resonating with Leviathan's consciousness, Iris murmured as though in a trance.
"So the theory of seeking a mate is correct."
"Yeah... Looks like it."
Iris nodded, her body trembling.
"So, what are your plans?"
"Men are idiots. If you stay silent, they'll take it as a hint of acceptance and go further, you know?"
Originally distracted, Iris suddenly regained vigor in her eyes.
"...I won't forgive dragons. I can't tolerate that thing taking away all the people dear to me, even wanting to take me as well!"
Iris yelled loudly, creating her fictional armament in her right hand—Caduceus.
"Can you hit it from here?"
"Although it's quite far, I'll try! I will bombard with my maximum generating capacity!"
Pointing the staff's tip at Leviathan, Iris concentrated while chanting her usual incantation.
"Mitsuki, just to be safe, could you contact the Dragon Subjugation Squad nearby and tell them to keep their distance?"
I could only see small dots from here but numerous Ds were flying in Leviathan's surroundings. As soon as Iris attacked, they might get caught in the blast by accident.
Mitsuki nodded in agreement despite looking like she had something to say. She pressed a button on the communicator on her neck.
"—This is B3. All units retreat to Hypothetical Level A blast proximity and continue attacking from a distance."
Mitsuki issued the command. The Dragon Subjugation Squad in the distance instantly changed their movements and left Leviathan.
"Okay, Iris, do it!"
"Great! O holy silver! Explode!"
Silver-white explosions suddenly appeared near the giant body swimming in the sky afar.
Pushed by the explosive blasts, Leviathan's body tilted slightly.
Mitsuki asked through the communicator.
'—Widespread damage caused to target's left side, but apparently did not reach deep.'
I heard the voice responding on the communicator.
Mitsuki exhaled and disconnected.
"Sure enough... This happened. Leviathan can create repulsive fields inside its own body. Even explosions could detonate near the skin, the damage will not reach the important internal organs. That type of ability is truly too omnipotent."
"But this is better than attacks that don't hit. And it definitely wears down its stamina. Iris, continue attacking. As for me—I won't hold back anymore."
Saying that, I extended my left hand to Mitsuki.
"...What is it, Nii-san?"
"Lend me your power, Mitsuki. If I have to do the same thing I did three years ago, I need to borrow dark matter from another D."
"I knew it was this requirement... Three years ago, you were able to perform such a massive transmutation only because I was at your side."
While talking about this subject yesterday, Mitsuki had already guessed the requirement. She made a look as though it was all expected.
"Yes, because I can't extract enough dark matter on my own."
"Against Leviathan... It is useless, right?"
"...Probably. Even so, it's far better than giving up without trying."
I gazed into Mitsuki's eyes while I spoke.
"Nii-san... You are so unfair. You are making the same face as back then... the time when you enacted a miracle. Now you are making me want to believe you, are you not...?"
Smiling wryly, Mitsuki held my hand.
"Thank you, Mitsuki."
I thanked her then shifted somewhere slightly farther from Iris. Closing my eyes, out of all the blueprints in my mind, I picked out the one I had used three years ago.
No, calling it a blueprint would not be accurate, because this contained all sorts of information including materials and methods of usage.
—The most sharpened power, in other words, data on weapons.
That was the truth of the power I had obtained in the deal with "Green" Yggdrasil three years ago. My ability to materialize Nergal and other firearms was not the result of training but because the correct data was engraved in my mind.
But because the volume of information was far too great, it could not all fit into my memory.
Back when I was about to lose this personality of Mononobe Yuu, I had cut the link to Yggdrasil halfway through.
However—Even so, severing the link was still too late.
Scrubbed by the turbulent flow of information, I had lost several key elements as Mononobe Yuu.
I lacked the emotion of fear and lost part of my memories.
The day I arrived at Midgard, Mitsuki had advised me to contact my parents and friends, but I must not talk to them. Because as soon as we conversed, my memory loss would come to light and this would reach Mitsuki's ears eventually.
With that, Mitsuki would surely blame herself very much.
Hence, I absolutely must not let the truth come to light.
The only memories kept intact in my heart were just the ones with Mitsuki.
Hence, Mitsuki was the one person I must not allow sorrow to come to her.
I constructed the weapon I had shot Hekatonkheir three years ago. The blueprint was burning in my mind. Borrowing dark matter flowing into my body from Mitsuki, the giant barrow gradually took form.
Rather than cutting-edge weaponry of the modern era, this was a lost weapon from a pre-civilization that existed long ago.
I only learned after receiving this power that there once existed an era with even more advanced science and technology than the current civilization. All the weaponry data I received from Yggdrasil, including Nergal, were things that had existed in the distant past.
Hence, I participated in NIFL's weapons development. The ones adopted were the mass production models of Nergal and Ishtar, the ICBM Gáe Bolg and the tactical laser. These all made use of pre-civilization technology.
However—This Marduk was an exception, a weapon that could not be reproduced with modern science and technology no matter what.
Originally attacking continually, Iris stared in wide-eyed amazement in my direction.
The barrow, ten-odd meters long, a base with circuits and wires exposed. Even by borrowing Mitsuki's power, it was impossible to recreate completely, so only the minimum necessary components were constructed. Hence, it could only fire one shot. Because no cooling functionality was installed, the barrow would melt.
The fatigue caused by the transmutation was unprecedented. My entire body felt heavy. My vision blurred. If I could still transmute again, it would be once more at most.
Connecting the the control system to my consciousness, I glared at Leviathan. The barrow shifted slightly on its own and adjusted its aim.
"—Nii-san, please wait! To prevent it from rebounding the attack, I will bait Leviathan into distorting space first!"
Mitsuki was stunned just now too, but she suddenly came to her senses and called to the Dragon Subjugation Squad through her communicator.
"All units, pull back from the target again! B5, B6, dump matter downwards from the air with maximum generating capacity! Apply pressure to the target's handling capacity!"
Hearing brief responses, I realized those were Ariella and Ren's voices.
Then giant blocks of rock and ice fell towards Leviathan but they were caught by a repulsive field, stopping in the air motionlessly.
"Spread out. B1 to the right, B2 to the left. Aim for the target's head with long-distance non-projectile attacks!"
This time, those were Lisa and Firill's voices. A thick laser beam appeared from the right side while an electrical attack appeared from the left, attacking Leviathan at the same time.
Although these attacks deviated due to spatial distortion, of course, Mitsuki discerned the laser and electrical attack's trail and said to me:
"Nii-san, now an attack from the front should not be deflected back. Please fire!"
I yelled forcefully from the bottom of my lungs.
The atmosphere was distorted by the heavy cannon's rumbling. A bullet of blue-white light was fired. It was a weapon of annihilation that caused everything caught in its blast to disintegrate on the atomic level.
In the past, Hekatonkheir had instantly turned into dust after being struck by this bullet.
Due to Hekatonkheir's trait of immortality, even though it revived several hundred kilometers away afterwards, this weapon's firepower was guaranteed.
The blue bullet flew towards Leviathan in a straight line, but the instant before striking—Its path was altered from spatial distortion, deviating to the lower left.
In that very instant, blinding blue light erupted. This was because I had adjusted the energy compression ratio while firing. Even if it failed to strike, it would still explode next to Leviathan.
The pillar of blue light devoured Leviathan.
The blocks of rock and ice made by Ariella and Ren also disappeared in the light.
Making contact with the light, a large piece of the sea surface was gouged away. The surrounding seawater evaporated from the high temperature. Like cumulonimbus clouds, thick water vapor rose upwards.
—Please, let it work!
I squinted, praying that it had destroyed Leviathan successfully.
Angry roar was heard from the light, making me realize I had failed just when victory was in sight again.
The white monster emerged, breaking through the blue light and the cloud of water vapor. The left side of its outer shell was almost completely blown away, exposing muscle. Even so, its movements did not seem impeded. Swaying its body, Leviathan swam in the air, approaching the final defensive line.
No longer concerned with the intercepting lasers, it headed straight for here, where Iris was.
The lost weapon that stood as my trump card had already melted from the heat of firing into a distorted and ordinary lump of scrap metal. Although it seemed like it had damaged Leviathan to some extent, who knew how many dozens of additional shot were needed if one wanted to defeat the dragon in this manner, also... I had neither that much time nor energy.
"So in the end... It is no good."
Mitsuki murmured in despair.
Her face no longer showed the fortitude from three years ago that could be called recklessness.
Simply staring at reality, she silently gave up resistance.
If standing from the Dragon Subjugation Squad's perspective, it was necessary to recognize the current situation correctly, but the expression on Mitsuki's face filled me with sorrow.
I hoped Mitsuki could say it.
That she did not want this type of outcome.
With that, I would be able to—
"Go away... Go away! I hate... guys like you!"
At this moment, Iris' voice reached my ears.
Under despairing conditions, she was facing forward alone, continuing to fight as hard as she could.
Not giving up at all, she continued to resist.
"O holy silver! Explode! Explode! Explode—!!"
Silver-white explosions kept detonating in Leviathan's surroundings.
But it did not stop. No matter how much the surface of its body was blasted, as long as the repulsive field was present, it would not receive a lethal wound.
The image of Iris screaming and resisting desperately overlapped with my memory of Mitsuki three years ago.
Badump, I felt the depths of my heart shake.
"Ahhh... I guess there's no way I can leave her alone."
I smiled wryly and said, letting go of Mitsuki's hand.
Mitsuki looked at me uneasily.
"—Mitsuki, no matter what happens, I will still be your brother."
I told her that, as though trying to carve these words into my heart.
"Nii-san, what on earth are you talking about...? Why are you mentioning something so obvious?"
"You're right, this is obvious. Because it's obvious, that's why I... must never forget."
Despite having lost the feeling of fear, my body was trembling.
I smiled at Mitsuki then walked over to Iris' side.
Iris stopped moving her hand to attack relentlessly then looked at me with tears brimming in her eyes.
"Iris, can I borrow your power this time?"
"Mononobe... You're still not killing me?"
"Yes, according to our promise, even if I really have to kill you, Iris, it's when all else fails, right?"
"Right now... Isn't that time yet?"
Iris asked with a tearful smile.
"No, not yet, I still have things I can do!"
I held Iris' right hand tightly with my left hand.
Then I glared at Leviathan which had arrived above the final defensive line.
I searched for the circuits I had severed in the past, the circuits I had severed to protect myself.
Continue the deal, Yggdrasil, we must defeat the dragon this time!
I heard a faint voice. It was Yggdrasil's emotionless voice from three years ago.
Hence, I followed the voice and connected the threads of my consciousness to that place.
Then the interrupted flow of information started up again and I searched it for weapons to break out of the current predicament.
I felt a splitting headache.
A massive amount of information was devouring my consciousness.
I had no idea what I would lose this time, what I would forget, and whether I would remain as myself.
Even so, possibilities only existed inside this information!
The burgeoning volume of information poured into my brain. My head felt as though it was about to explode.
But amidst all that, I was able to catch glimpses of what I sought.
It was information that could supplement the data of Marduk, the anti-dragon armament. Only then did I find out that the cannon I had materialized was merely one part of it.
So Marduk was incomplete—
But I was at my limit. My consciousness started to grow hazy.
I severed the circuits before I lost consciousness. Although it was impossible to contain all of Marduk's information, I managed to secure the necessary portion.
I began to ask myself, in exchange for the obtained information, what have I lost?
I remember about Iris beside me. I was fighting to protect her.
I remember about Mitsuki, standing slightly farther from us. My real sister beyond a doubt. Ever since the past which I could not recall, we grew up together. Separated for the past three years, we finally reunited here at Midgard.
Then hovering in the sky, the white dragon—Leviathan—was the enemy that must be defeated.
No problem, I remembered everything essential right now.
I had not lost the reason for fighting.
Then extending my right arm sideways, I called out the name of what I wanted to create.
"Marduk, main cannon—Babel!!"
Using the dark matter flowing to me from Iris, I constructed a giant turret again.
But the shape was different from earlier. The transmutation performed this time was another part from the supplemented blueprint of Marduk. The barrel was split into two with a lens-like device in the middle. Considering my remaining stamina, this was my last transmutation. Failure would be the end.
Perhaps seeing the pre-civilization weapon aimed at it, Leviathan roared deeply.
"This must succeed no matter what—FIRE!!"
A black torrent was shot out, seeming as though it would push the target into darkness, this endless darkness expanded drastically, even to the point of enveloping Leviathan's gigantic body.
The black-looking portion was not matter but a spatial discontinuity that even light was devoured, a supergravitational singularity.
Babel was a weapon that tore space to crush everything existing within the range of its attack.
However, the realm of darkness, which was meant to devour the target instantly to lock it away, still remained in an open state.
It was using antigravity to oppose supergravity.
Insufficient output. Overloaded, the barrel was suffering small-scale explosions all over the place.
—I knew it already. Even this would still be unable to succeed.
If this weapon could defeat dragons, then the old civilization would have persisted to the present day. But in the modern era, they did not exist anywhere, most likely destroyed by dragons.
Hence, it was impossible to prevail over dragon through my power.
The objective would not by achieved by this strike of mine.
Mitsuki nodded in acknowledgement, creating her fictional armament in her hand.
On the brightly iridescent bow, Mitsuki nocked an arrow of dark matter.
Indeed, it would hit given the current situation. Only when supergravity and antigravity were locked in a struggle!
"Terminating Arrow—Last Quark!"
This was surely the antimatter that only Mitsuki could generate, the arrow that had slain two Krakens.
While firing that arrow, Mitsuki yelled through the communicator.
The Dragon Subjugation Squad fired dozens of attacks, piercing Leviathan from the sides.
Then Mitsuki's arrow penetrated from the front.
Instantly, with a blinding explosion of pure white, Leviathan's entire body bulged from within.
"Just a bit more, Iris!!"
Although Iris should be trying her hardest already, she delivered even more dark matter to me.
Using her dark matter, I patched up Babel which was nearing destruction. Prepared for the possibility that the barrel might overheat, I forced it to bring out firepower beyond its limit.
Leviathan's gigantic body, which was originally expanding, now contracted.
Compressed by the surrounding supergravity, it contracted smaller and smaller, accompanied by explosions.
Even its roaring deathcry was dragged into the spatial discontinuity, its voice growing progressively weaker.
After devouring the giant dragon and the antimatter explosions, the space closed up.
Almost at the same time, Babel reached its limit and collapsed with a small explosion.
Originally blotting the sky, the giant body disappeared. The vast blue sky reappeared over our heads.
"Did we... succeed?"
The first to speak was Iris.
With an expression of disbelief, she stared at the spot where Leviathan had just occupied.
Still in her arrow firing posture, Mitsuki was frozen.
A warm southerly wind blew between us.
"R-Right, Iris! Show me what's under your clothing!"
Brought back to reality, I thought of a way to confirm the victory, so I set about lifting Iris' shirt.
"Kyawah!? M-Mononobe, what are you suddenly doing!? Oh, no... not somewhere so bright... Mitsuki-chan's looking too..."
"Hey, no—I just want to see your flank..."
Because Iris resisted inexplicably, twisting her body, we wrestled together, falling to the ground in a tangle.
Because Iris' shirt was lifted while she fell, the snow-white complexion of her flank became exposed.
The dragon mark, there to begin with, had returned to a flesh tone slightly darker than the surrounding skin.
"The dragon mark whose color changed has reverted... We succeeded, we really succeeded!"
I cried out with joy but suddenly realized my right hand was holding something soft.
"Umm, Mononobe... It's very embarrassing for me, don't... grope so hard."
Reeling back in surprise, I unintentionally moved my hand, causing Iris to cry out in an inexplicably sexy manner.
Then I felt someone patting my shoulder from behind.
I looked back in trepidation, only to see Mitsuki smiling, looking at me.
"—Nii-san, how unbelievable that you dare to openly engage in inappropriate interactions between the genders, right in front of me, the student council president."
"No, it was an accident just now..."
"Accident? What I saw was you lunging at Iris-san, removing her clothing forcibly then groping her chest, did you not?"
"Somehow... It feels like you're making me out to be a vile irredeemable pervert by describing things that way."
"Precisely indeed, pervert Nii-san."
Dragging me by the ear, Mitsuki separated me from Iris.
Blushing to her ears, Iris fixed up her clothing while watching me.
"Umm, uh... Sorry, Mononobe, if it's somewhere without other people seeing, I... Oh, right! Next time, let me help you scrub your back again!"
Hearing what Iris said, Mitsuki glared at me with eyes of ice.
"Uh, this is a long story—"
"I see, then I shall listen to you properly afterwards, Nii-san. I still have plenty to say regarding your insubordination just now. Nii-san, you would do best to prepare yourself. A hundred repentance essays are inescapable."
Making a terrifying declaration with a smile, Mitsuki held my hand with a tight grip.
"I absolutely will not allow you to escape, got that—Nii-san?"
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