Unlimited Fafnir:Volume 8 Chapter 4

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Chapter 4 - Neun of Blue-Nine[edit]

Part 1[edit]

Iris Freyja already understood. Because it was about herself, she understood what had caused her own transformation.

It was—whenever she sought power. Whenever she wanted to acquire and use stronger power than before.

Long ago, she already had a feeling that using Catastrophe would speed up the changes in her body.

However, for the sake of protecting her comrades—protecting those dear to her—to avenge her teacher, she made full use of the power she had inherited from Basilisk.

"Catastrophe—Actualiiiiiize!!"

Even without using the zoom function of her goggles, she could still see Kraken Zwei's gigantic body, not simply because of the target's large size but also due to the fact that her own vision had improved.

The red flash of light struck as intended, weathering away the shield of mithril.

Also, she was aware that the more she used Catastrophe, the more the hardened parts of her skin—the areas covered by red scales—would spread.

It felt so scary, so repulsive.

But her attack must not stop.

—Because this is the one thing I can do!!

She used her total power, striking down Kraken Zwei, which had escaped into the air, to crash on the ground.

But that was already her limit. The red glow of time-stealing light vanished from her hand.

"...!"

Almost there, just a tiny bit more. She shed tears of chagrin.

'Don't worry, Iris.'

His gentle voice spoke from the communicator.

"Mononobe...?"

'The rest—leave it all to me.'

Leaving these words behind, he headed , but—

'Urgh... Ahhhhhhhhhh!?'

After a while, what she heard was a mournful cry that made her want to cover up her ears. It was his scream.

"Mononobe!? What happened? Mononbe, answer me!!"

Although she cried out desperately, there was no response. Was the communicator broken? Or he did not have the leisure to answer?

But all she knew was that someone important—someone whose existence was more important than anything—was in a crisis.

Iris Freyja's sniping location was a cliff with excellent visibility where Firill had transported her. It was quite far away from the location where he and Kraken Zwei were fighting.

Unable to fly, it was impossible for her to head to the rescue immediately.

Indeed—Precisely because it was impossible, she wished for new power.

—Even though she knew clearly that it would turn herself into something further from human.

Part 2[edit]

—Unable to move.

Using my hazy vision, I looked up at the gradually approaching Kraken Zwei.

Paralyzed by damage and pain, my body could not respond to my will smoothly. But even if I could move, escaping would still be impossible.

"Everyone... Hurry and run... The farther the better."

I called to them over the communicator.

But all I could hear was static. Lisa and the others had not responded after getting attacked by antimatter. Iris did not answer either. The earlier impact seemed to have broken the microphone, so I did not know if my voice was getting through.

Lisa, Firill, Tia and Iris, the four of them had been positioned far away in the area to snipe. Shinomiya-sensei had given instructions for us to flee if the operation failed. I could only hope that the girls would follow instructions if they were safe and sound.

What I wished to see least of all was everyone turning into a dragon.

Standing as the second-generation hybrid dragon, the girl spread ribbons woven from her silver hair towards her surroundings, staring at me with her purple eyes.

Whether using antimatter or a mere hair from her head, killing me would be effortless, but she did not do that. I wondered why then realized—

The girl was looking at my left hand, not my face. The location of my dragon mark.

Perhaps she was puzzled about why she could not mark me. Perhaps she wanted to confirm the reason?

—Actually, I'd like someone to tell me too.

I made a slight smile of wryness.

But that look apparently angered her. Kraken Zwei narrowed her eyes and shaped her silver ribbons into spears.

I silently understood that she wanted to deliver the fatal blow to me. I had no means of resisting. Intense pain was suppressing my thoughts. Trying to concentrate in order to perform transmutation was beyond me.

"Stop it!!"

However, just as she was about to unleash her rising killing intent, Jeanne pushed aside bushes and rushed over.

Her blonde hair was messy and her face was pale. Seeing her like that, my heart was filled with intense anxiety.

Rushing in under such circumstances would be committing suicide. At this rate, Jeanne was going to follow in Shinomiya-sensei's footsteps—

"Don't come over..."

I desperately forced out a voice, but she did not retreat. Instead, she raised the AT Nergal I had given her earlier and said:

"You... stop it! Please remember me!!"

"Gururu!"

However, Kraken Zwei simply growled and generated black particles of dark matter in the surroundings.

"What—"

A sudden gush of raging wind blew Jeanne into the forest. Like when she had flew into the sky, Kraken Zwei must have created a large amount of air.

However, a weak flash of light came from the dim forest. The silver ribbons protecting the girl moved at the same time.

Zzzzt!

The flash of electricity exploded in front of the girl. Jeanne had most likely sniped using AT Nergal, but Kraken Zwei had used her mithril hair to block, preventing the shot from hitting her.

"Even if you forgot me, I beg you... Please think about your own happiness! The way you are right now... Are you happy!?"

Jeanne's voice came from the forest.

"Gahhhh!!"

However, the girl summoned dark matter again. Instead of transmuting it into wind this time, she made flames and shot them out.

Immediately, a explosion was heard with rumbling along the ground. Then Jeanne's voice vanished completely.

"Damn, it..."

I could not do anything. I gnashed my teeth in chagrin at my uselessness.

Glaring at Kraken Zwei who had looked back, I generated dark matter, but my hazy consciousness could not control properly and the dark matter turned into bubbles, dissipating in the air.

I had no recourse. My body could not move. Even my mind could not muster resistance towards her.

Confronted with me, her prey, the girl smiled savagely like a beast.

"———"

At this moment, I heard a faint voice. It was someone calling out from extremely far away.

I thought it was Jeanne, but no, the direction was off.

I shifted my gaze upwards. At the same time, Kraken Zwei also looked up at the sky.

"————Ahhhhhhhhhhh!"

Slicing out a red trail, something fell down. By the time I realized it was a very familiar girl to me—Iris Freyja—she was already using her downward momentum to swing a punch!

CLANG—

A sharp metallic noise resounded all around. Iris' fist was blocked by ribbons woven from mithril hair.

"Get away from Mononobe—Far away——!"

However, Iris' punch continued all the way until her arm straightened, sending Kraken Zwei flying together with her shield.

Flying away in a spiral, the girl smashed into a big tree violently.

However, my gaze did not leave Iris who had landed before me.

"Huff... Huff..."

Iris breathed heavily in disarray. Her clothing had holes all over. The jacket I was lending to her was all tattered. She must have been through quite a lot of hardship to travel here.

On Iris' exposed skin, hard red scales could be seen all over the place, having spread much wider than before. In particular, her entire right arm below the elbow was completely covered by scales.

If these scales were the same as Basilisk's, they would be made of diamond. However, the scales on the right fist, which she had used to punch Kraken Zwei, had shattered and was dripping blood.

"Iris...?"

I called her name hoarsely. Iris immediately turned her head to look at me.

Her eyes were crimson like rubies.

"Don't worry, Mononobe."

She could not have failed to notice her changes, but even so, Iris still smiled at me. The purple glow of the dragon mark on her flank had disappeared completely, proving that she was much closer to a dragon now.

"I said it before, right? No matter what happens, I'll protect you. I absolutely won't let you die, Mononobe, so—"

Iris turned her gaze to Kraken Zwei.

The girl was completely unharmed despite getting punched far away. The impact was probably absorbed entirely by the shield woven from hair.

"I will do everything as long as it's in my power. Just like what you did for me, Mononobe!"

A flash of purple light. Kraken Zwei was firing antimatter.

However, this strongest spear, capable of mutual annihilation with all matter, disappeared in red light.

I did not know what Iris had done because she had her back to me. However, I saw her eyes glowing red when she looked at me again—Then I understood.

She was releasing Catastrophe directly from her eyes, just like Basilisk.

Everything in her view was weathered into dust, but Kraken Zwei had apparently escaped the line of fire at the last moment. She was now glaring at us from a spot ten-odd meters away.

However, her hair had become even shorter than before, probably erased due to Catastrophe's weathering.

"Here I go."

Iris smiled dreamily and kicked the ground.

"Iri—"

I felt an uneasiness in my heart. Just as I called to stop her, Iris had already started a melee brawl with Kraken Zwei. Her footspeed far surpassed that of normal humans, moving so fast that the naked eye failed to capture the process.

Iris' gradually rising physical abilities had already surpassed the human realm entirely.

"Gahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Kraken Zwei roared and swung a spear made from the gathering of silver hair, but Iris slipped through an opening in the attack with astounding movements, circling over to the girl's right where her defense was weak.

"Catastrophe!!"

Iris fired time-stealing red light from her eyes.

However, Kraken Zwei instantly wove her hair to deploy a shield. Powerful as it was, even Catastrophe could not weather mithril away instantly. Thus the red light was blocked.

Kraken Zwei generated dark matter again to create a silver shield. Once reinforced, the shield withstood Iris' attack completely.

"This is—still not enough."

Iris pulled away as a precaution against the enemy's counterattacks while raising her right arm. What gathered in her hand was not red light but pitch-black dark matter.

"Caduceus!"

The dark matter altered its form to become her fictional armament.

However, the fictional armament's outline grew distorted while its surface turned red. Increasing in size like a growing tree, it changed its shape ominously.

"More... More... Give me the greatest firepower, the 'eye' that can unleash Catastrophe all at once—"

Iris murmured emphatically and raised her staff. Her hand was already partially melded with the staff's shaft.

Transmutation... Rather, this was biogenic transmutation!

I knew that Iris was currently making a new organ, most likely for the sake of using Catastrophe's complete form.

But that action would completely deviate from humanity. An active choice to become a dragon.

Stop... now—

I clearly wanted to stop her, but my voice could not come out. My thoughts could not reach her.

"—Third Eye of Catastrophe!"

A gigantic red sphere sprouted from the front end of the transformed staff. An eerie and sinister pupil opened up in the center of the sphere.

"Gahhhhhhhhhhhh!!"

Kraken Zwei wove her hair into a silver spear again. Generating dark matter and glowing purple in her eyes, she prepared to attack.

She fired a deadly attack.

"O catastrophe—Actualize!!"

At the same time, the "Third Eye" sprouted from the end of her staff released a massive volume of red light!

This red would color all creation of this world with destruction.

The green of forests, the blue of the sky, the silver of mithril, the purple eye—Everything became colored red only.

Immediately, time was stolen, finally ending in apocalyptic scenery.

A future where everything had weathered away into tiny particles.

After the red light passed, the land was turned into a vast wasteland of yellow sand.

Nothing with definite form remained.

"Success...?"

Iris stood as though leaning on her staff and looked around. There were no signs of Kraken Zwei.

"Mononobe—"

She faced me and smiled, but behind her, a tiny silver thread moved with a silver flash.

"—!"

I did not even have the time to speak out.

The silver flash bifurcated the "Third Eye" on the end of the staff. Out from the chopped open eyeball, bright red blood gushed out.

"Where—!?"

Covered in a rain of blood, Iris looked around her. Her neck and limbs were entangled with silver threads.

"Kyah!?"

The mithril threads suspended her in midair. Iris screamed. The source of the silver threads was underground.

The desertified ground surface swelled up, then Kraken Zwei reappeared, her body covered in silver threads.

Most likely, she had burrowed deep underground to evade Iris' Catastrophe.

"This, sort, of, level...!"

Iris struggled while her eyes lit up with red light. However, with her neck strangled tightly, the glow of Catastrophe dissipated.

The resilient mithril threads went as far as to suppress Iris' superhuman strength, completely depriving her of her freedom.

Crap—At this rate, Iris will...

In my haziness, I had no means to change the situation despite knowing the crisis she was in.

Damn it... Was there no solution? Some solution—

Anxiety and despair eroded my heart.

Like when facing me earlier, Kraken Zwei did not deliver the killing blow straight away. Instead, she pulled the restrained Iris over to in front of her.

"——"

After staring intently at Iris' left flank, the girl shredded Iris' already tattered jacket. Exposed as a result was her skin that showed red scales all over as well as the dragon mark that had lost its color.

What did she want—to do?

"Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!"

Kraken Zwei covered Iris' dragon mark with her hand and roared. The girl's dragon mark on her forehead glowed purple. Iris' body convulsed.

"Ahhh... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

As though responding to the girl's roar, Iris screamed as well.

Originally recovered in color, Iris' dragon mark started to glow faintly.

"What..."

I watched the scene in a daze. The dragon mark gradually became colored again, turning purple—Kraken Zwei's color.

Iris was already close to a dragon. Rather than being the targeted side, she was gradually turning into the side that targeted others. However, Kraken Zwei was using brute force to make her submit—trying to make Iris her mate.

Out from the depths of my heart surged a different kind of fear from before.

—She was going to be taken away.

Iris... Someone whom I absolutely did not wish to lose, was going to be taken away.

Throb—

My heart pounded intensely. Sparks flew inside my brain

If Iris' dragon mark were to be colored completely, her form would change into the same "species" as Kraken Zwei, becoming her mate.

She was currently headed for a place out of my reach—becoming an existence that could no longer stay by my side.

Throb, throb—

As my heart rate grew faster, my heart was gradually devoured by pure emotion.

Forgetting anxiety, forgetting despair.

Forgetting pain, forgetting sadness.

Forgetting circumstances, forgetting helplessnes.

From an even deeper level than the "Fafnir" sunken in the depths of my subconscious, scorching feelings gushed out from basic instinct.

"Screw, this..."

By the time I realized, I had already stood up.

Feet that should not be able to move were planted on the ground. I stared at Kraken Zwei, the enemy who was trying to take away someone dear to me.

This emotion, driving my body and soul, I knew its name.

—Wrath.

A rising surge of pure emotion, rooted in basic instinct.

"Release... Iris."

I slowly raised my left hand and ordered her. The back of my hand—The dragon mark felt hot.

"Gururururu—"

Kraken Zwei faced me and growled. Iris' dragon mark was already 80% consumed by purple.

Wrong—she should not be marked by that kind of color.

I won't let her be marked by that kind of color!

Because—

"Release her—She's mine."

Throb!

The instant I declared emotionally, heat and light flooded out from the dragon mark on my left hand.

It was shining with clear blue light.

My dragon mark glowed blue while Iris' body also started to give off the same color—

About to be fully tainted with purple, Iris' dragon mark was now repainted blue.

UnlimitedFafnir v08 217.jpg

"Mononobe..."

The restrained Iris called my name with a hazy look on her face.

"Gahhhh!?"

In pain, Kraken Zwei pressed her hand to her forehead. Her silver hair quivered like a wave as she tossed Iris to the ground.

From between Kraken Zwei's fingers, held to her forehead, two colors of light—purple and blue—were leaking out at the same time.

I did not know what had happened.

But I instinctively understood what I had done.

I had marked her—I marked Iris.

Refusing to hand Iris over to anyone, I wished to make her mine.

Hence, I marked her, doing the same thing as what dragons did.

I originally did not know I could do that.

However, once I had done it, I seemed to feel certain of my ability to do so.

"Ahhh... I get it now."

I muttered quietly and looked down at my dragon mark that was glowing blue.

So—I'm a dragon.

With that thought, everything made sense now.

Why was my dragon mark the only one exempt from color change? Why was I able to reject interference from Kraken Zwei, who had attempted to mark me? How could I mark Iris in this manner—

The answer was simple. Because the one closest to being a dragon was me. More than Iris, more than Kraken Zwei, closer to being a dragon than anyone else.

"Guuuuuuuuuuuu!?"

Kraken Zwei held her forehead, still in pain.

Most likely, I had influenced her dragon mark when I marked Iris.

It was proof that Kraken Zwei was also a D, indicating that she was the one getting marked—A brand signifying such a meaning.

She was different from me. Surely, I—did not even count as a D.

Marking their mates, dyeing their targets with their own color, one-sided plunderers.

Solitary monsters without others of the same species.

But even if that were true, it did not matter as long as I could get Iris back!

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!"

Yelling, I rushed out.

I rushed over to Iris, who was lying on the ground, and Kraken Zwei, standing in front of her.

Power surged from the depths of my body. This was different from when I fought as "Fafnir"—It felt like my body had become a different existence.

"——"

Fear surfaced on the girl's face while the glowing dragon mark on her forehead was gradually painted with my color of blue.

Perhaps instinctively fearing contact with me, Kraken Zwei did not attack with her hair. Instead, she jumped back then her purple eye glowed.

She shot antimatter. Without slowing down, I extended my left hand.

I generated dark matter with precision, transmuting it into antigravitational matter, thereby deflecting the antimatter up in the air using the resulting repulsive field.

However, Kraken Zwei had seized that opportunity to generate dark matter. Using biogenic transmutation, she expanded her mithril hair a dozen fold, covering her entire body.

Then she used part of her hair like tentacles to wrap around Iris who was lying on the ground, pulling Iris towards her.

"Ugh... Guh... Mononobe..."

Despite moaning in pain, Iris still reached towards me.

"Iris!"

I called her name and summoned my fictional armament.

Kraken Zwei probably intended to flee with Iris but I was not going to let her succeed.

"Air Bullet!"

Firing a bullet of air underfoot to accelerate rapidly, I chased the receding Kraken Zwei.

Dark matter appeared in front of me. She was trying to intercept me by transmuting matter—But something of that level will not deter me!

"Smoke Bullet!"

I used thick smoke to erase the small particles of dark matter, interfering in her transmutation process. Since I had the same ability too, I knew its weaknesses well.

This alone was not enough to erase all of the dark matter. The projectile of fire created Kraken Zwei approached me.

"Antigravity!"

I used the last of the dark matter in my fictional armament, transmuting it into antigravitational matter, thereby deflecting the flame projectile with a small-scale repulsive field, then rushed past the smoke.

Just a bit before I reach Iris!

"Mononobe!!"

With tears in her eyes, she extended her left hand desperately.

"—Iris!!"

I reached out for Iris' fingertips with my left hand as well. The dragon mark on the back of my hand glowed with dazzling blue light.

Make contact!!

I grasped Iris' hand, which was covered with red scales.

In that instant—The light erupting from the dragon mark colored the entire area blue.

Part 3[edit]

Rustle...

I heard the sound of rustling among vegetation.

I woke up to find myself sprawled on the ground with the taste of soil in my mouth while my left hand—felt something warm.

"!?"

I looked up to see Iris' face next to me. I was holding hands tightly with her.

"Mmm..."

A faint breath escaped from between Iris' soft and tender lips. Her eyes slowly opened and met mine. Blue and clear, her eyes were the same as usual—

I realized suddenly in alarm and looked at her hand that I was holding tightly. The red scales on her skin were already gone.

"Iris! Your body!"

I sat up and checked her entire body. From gaps in the damaged jacket, I could see her delicate skin, the color of milk. I could not see any discoloration in her dragon mark either.

"Mononobe...? My body is—Wahhhhhh!?"

Realizing her chest was almost exposed, she instantly covered up frantically with her arms.

"Jeez... Mononobe, you're such a pervert."

Iris blushed and looked up at me shyly.

"Eh? Oh, no, sorry—I just wanted to say that your body has recovered, Iris."

I shifted my gaze away and hastily explained to her.

"Recovered...? Oh—It's true! The scales are gone!"

Only then did she finally realize her change and cheered.

"By the way, your eye color is also restored. You might not have noticed it yourself... But during the battle, Iris, your eyes were red."

Iris widened her eyes after listening to me, cocking her head in puzzlement.

"Why did I recover...? Say, what happened that? What about Kraken Zwei?"

These words prompted me to think about my situation. Although things had unfolded like a dream, but if this really was reality, then she should still be nearby—

After surveying my surroundings, I saw a pale foot under a tree's shade.

"That's..."

Iris and I exchanged a glance then stood up, supporting each other. My legs were quite weak while my left arm and flank were hurting intensely. After a moment's delay, I also felt pain on my back and the back of my head.

"Gah..."

The pain I had forgotten was attacking all at once. I gritted my teeth and endured. The fact that I could move seemed like a miracle already.

"Mononobe, are you okay? Oh my—Your back is all bloody!"

Lending me support, Iris called hoarsely.

"...I'm okay, although the injuries are not light... But not critical either. Right now, the important thing is to confirm that..."

I motioned with my eyes towards the pale foot I saw over at that giant tree.

"Hmm... Got it, let's go over together."

"Yeah, be careful."

I leaned against Iris' shoulder and walked slowly. We kept our distance from the target and circled around to peer from another side of the tree.

"Eh—"

UnlimitedFafnir v08 225.jpg

Iris and I both gasped at the same time.

There a young girl, all naked, was collapsed in the bushes.

"Kraken Zwei..."

Her face was similar to Shinomiya-sensei's so we could not be mistaken, but one part of her was clearly different from before.

"Mononobe, her... hair—"

Just as Iris pointed out, the dramatic change had occurred in the girl's hair. Originally made of mithril, her hair used to be hard and silver... Now, it had turned into purple hair that seemed quite soft in texture. I bent down and tried to touch the tips of her hair—Her hair did not exhibit the hardness of metal.

Judging from her chest heaving slightly up and down, she was breathing, apparently asleep.

"What happened... She's almost like an ordinary—human's child."

Iris murmured in a daze.

I had a whole mountain of questions on my mind too but after seeing Iris restored to human appearance and Kraken Zwei's loss of mithril hair, I came up with a hypothesis.

"Iris—I think I marked you."

I quietly said to her.

"Huh?"

Iris looked at me, quite perplexed.

"I didn't want you to be taken away... I didn't want to hand you over to anyone. Those thoughts, those impulses overflowed and gushed out. By the time I realized, Iris, your dragon mark had already turned into my color."

I glanced at my left hand's dragon mark and confessed to her what I had done.

Iris immediately showed a little smile and held her hand against her dragon mark.

"I see... So that's what happened."

"—Aren't you shocked? I thought what I said would probably be quite far-fetched."

Seeing Iris accept my explanation so easily, I could not help but feel doubt.

"Because I have faint memories of it. Back then, the moment just before Kraken Zwei would've finished marking me... I heard your voice, Mononobe, then my dragon mark heated up. I felt your extremely strong feelings, Mononobe... It made me really happy."

Iris blushed and stared at me from extremely up close.

"What..."

I felt my face heat up. With my attention drawn to Iris' moist eyes—I forgot what to say.

"Then... Mononobe, you came to save me. The instant you held my hand tightly—the dragon mark grew even hotter and the heat spread throughout my body. It was like you were embracing me... I felt very blissful."

Iris recounted excitedly with joy, lifting her right hand whose scales had disappeared.

"That's as far as I remember. When I woke up again, I was already like this, so I had a faint feeling that you were the one who cured me, Mononobe."

"R-Really...? But you're probably correct."

Feeling very embarrassed, I could not look squarely at Iris' face, so I turned to different direction while I spoke.

"Huh?"

"Someone marked by a dragon, to become its mate—will transform into a dragon of the same kind."

In response to Iris, who was tilting her head in puzzlement, I recited what we had heard countless times during class back in Midgard.

"Is there anything wrong with that?"

"You don't get it? The following is just my speculation—I marked you, Iris, then by touching your body, I turned you into my own kind."

"Eh? Eh...? Eh—"

Iris blinked in confoundment, perhaps because her comprehension rate could not keep up with the conversation, but gradually, her face turned red.

"U-Umm, then in other words—Right now, I... am your mate, Mononobe?"

"Huh—?"

This time, it was my turn to be put in tough spot. Indeed, on further thought, that was true.

"N-No good, Mononobe! So suddenly... I still haven't prepared myself... A-And you still have Mitsuki, Mononobe—"

Iris began to panic but she suddenly stopped her motions. Her gaze went over to Kraken Zwei who was lying in the bush.

"H-Hold on! Come to think of it, this child turning back to a human appearance is—"

Iris went pale and said in astonishment.

"Yeah, probably because I marked her. In the last moment, Kraken Zwei's dragon mark had almost changed color completely, so the phenomenon of 'transforming into the same kind' happened to her in addition to you."

I nodded in affirmation and voiced my hypothesis. In that case, things basically made sense.

The problem was, having become my kind, could the two of them still be considered "ordinary humans"?

Unless I found out what my real identity was, then there was no answer.

"Uh... Umm... Simply stated, that means you immediately had an affair, Mononobe? You clearly turned me into your mate, but you're two-timing with this child!?"

"Huh?"

However, Iris' accusation had nothing to do with my concerns. Angrily, she denounced me.

"A-And she's only a newborn child, you know? M-Mononobe, you pervert!"

"W-Wait! I think Kraken Zwei's dragon mark was affected because she was next to you, Iris... And she turned back to human like this—"

I frantically explained but when I said the words "turned back to human," I shut my mouth because it made me think of something.

Perhaps feeling my emotions, Iris also put on a solemn expression and stared at the sleeping girl.

"Has she really... turned human?"

Iris asked with wariness in her gaze and tone.

"Well—I don't know."

I answered Iris hesitantly. It was also possible she might fire antimatter at us as soon as she woke up. Despite losing her mithril hair, her ability to generate dark matter was most likely intact.

Because her dragon mark, having lost color, could still be seen faintly on her forehead.

And she... had killed Shinomiya-sensei. Having left such a massive gulf to bridge after the battle, to regard her as a target for protection was extremely difficult.

Rustle—!

Just as I was pondering how to handle the girl, the bushes on the side shook—A blonde girl appeared.

"Jeanne! I'm so glad you're okay—"

Although covered in wounds with burns left on parts of her clothing, Jeanne looked like she had no major injuries.

"Oh... Captain~ You are fine—!?"

Jeanne looked at me in relief but gasped when she saw Kraken Zwei, lying on the ground.

"...Are you alright!? Hang in there!"

Jeanne ran towards the girl without any hesitation, picking up the sleeping girl in her arms.

"Wait, it's still very dangerous!"

I hastily warned her but Jeanne was unconcerned. After examining the girl's condition and confirming she was unhurt, Jeanne took off her own jacket to cover up the girl.

"Don't worry—Captain, you two please keep your distance."

Jeanne shook her head with an expression of resolve. She hugged the girl tightly.

"Until the very end, I will continue to be this child's good fortune."

"Jeanne..."

Seeing her determination, I understood it would be a waste of breath to argue.

"Mmm..."

At this moment, Kraken Zwei moaned slightly and her eyelids twitched. Then she slowly opened her eyes.

The images of Jeanne, Iris and I were reflected in those purple eyes.

I gulped and focused my mind so that I could summon my fictional armament instantly in an emergency.

While we watched in concern, tears flowed out of the purple eyes.

"Ooh... Oooooh.... Ooowahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!"

Kraken Zwei began to cry loudly.

The girl clung to Jeanne's bosom, clutching her clothing tightly and bawling like a baby.

"It's okay... You're no longer alone. I will always stay with you from now on."

Stroking the girl's soft hair, Jeanne spoke gently to her.

Kraken Zwei's impulse to seek mates might have disappeared as a result of losing her traits as a dragon. Or perhaps Jeanne's body warmth had reminded her of the precious feelings she had forgotten.

I did not know which was the correct answer but upon witnessing this scene, I understood that there was no longer any enemy here.

"She is... human, right? That child is already—"

Iris smiled and asked me.

"...Yeah."

I nodded deeply in agreement. Then just at that moment, my tense consciousness broke off.

Instantly, my entire body lost strength and my mind went hazy.

"M-Mononobe!??

With Iris propping me up, I fell unconscious.

It had not been easy... but with this, the incident finally came to a close.

This was definitely not the best outcome, because I—we—had lost someone irreplaceable.

However... In the end, we managed to retrieve what Shinomiya-sensei had refused to abandon throughout the whole time.

Hence—

"—Mononobe Yuu, you did very well. Most sincerely... You have my gratitude."

Just before I sank into deep slumber, I seemed to hear a voice, one that could not possibly be heard again—

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