Outside of the school's premises, city centre's backstreet beside the venture company buildings that had recruitment posters on it, in the corner of the street was a seemingly deserted building.
The 35th Platoon's members were already set up on their positions.
An unfinished building from 10 years ago that lacked any special features which used to be a trading site. Currently no companies have used it and rooms on all floors were vacant.
The objective was seizure of a D-rank Magical Heritage, "Trackless Psalms".
In the end Ouka had joined them and as four they started the mission as planned.
『"For the time being, wouldn't it be better to be on standby together with me on your first day?"』
During the briefing, when Ouka had gone as far as to dismantle a gun that was already after maintenance, Ikaruga asked her.
『"...no. It's not a problem, I'll participate."』
『"Is that so? Fine by me. Aren't you quite motivated here?"』
『"No matter the mission, it's my principle to take it on at full force. Don't worry. I have no intention of getting in your way. I'll try my best to move accordingly to Captain's orders."』
As she assembled her gun quickly, Ouka moved her gaze towards Takeru.
Takeru who was doing practice swings and such with a special baton noticed the stare, and started blinking in surprise.
『"Show me what you've got... Kusanagi Takeru."』
These words Ouka said were enough to put heavy pressure on Takeru.
Unable to completely get rid of anxiety, he sighed.
Ikaruga remained in the platoon's room and through wireless she was in charge of communication. In change of sniping, Usagi was waiting on the roof of the opposite building. Ouka went through the front to sneak in.
Takeru was going to charge in through the back door.
"...doesn't seem like anybody's guarding the back door... how's your side, Ootori?"
《"........ No sign of enemy here either."》
"O-okay, let's go."
The communication switched over and Ikaruga, the operator cut in.
《"The trading organization shouldn't be that great, at most they're just be about size of a small gang."》
"How can you tell?"
《"Think like the thug that had fled with "Trackless Psalms". He knows how the connections between organizations work, the bigger the organization the bigger the risk."》
Certainly, Ikaruga's speculation was convincing.
If their enemy was a small group, it was the best for them.
And the target Magical Heritage's class was high too, if the enemy organization was too strong their authorization for dispatch from Inquisition would have been revoked. Since they have accepted their application, it meant the Inquisition had speculated it was on the level students can deal with.
But, it was still dangerous. The number of deaths among the students every year was by no means small. While it has been identified as a low risk mission, thinks do happen by chance. On alert by the back door, he entered the building and joined Ouka
"They're quite a careless bunch... is the trade really going to happen here?"
"I'll go first. I leave my back to you Captain. Permission?"
Covering each other, they moved forward gradually.
That being said, Takeru didn't bring a gun with him having only a baton and a sword by his waist, he didn't look the part. Using a baton in closed spaces was advantageous, but in majority of the situation a gun has had the advantage.
Ouka on the other hand, had a handgun and a baton as well. The handgun was an automatic one, even though it was the same model as the one used by the police of this city, it was made by Alchemist for Inquisition so it had been improved and modified into an anti-magic firearm. It prided itself of its compact size and stable hit rate. It's handle was structured so that it fits well even in a woman's or a child's hands. Instead, the low firepower of the handgun was its drawback.
Currently it was loaded with anesthesia bullets.Normally, test platoons can only carry anesthesia and processed mithril ammunition with them. Mithril bullets' usage was limited to fighting against enemy witches and people armed with a Magical Heritage. In any other case than that they weren't allowed to use lethal bullets.
While it was an excellent sub-weapon, but clearly, it was lacking in firepower. Since they couldn't determine what was the organization purchasing the Magical Heritage, it would be better to be well prepared but...
Ouka chose the handgun she was familiar with.
She embodied calmness itself, and didn't make any unnecessary moves. Ouka walked up to the cover point, she had killed all the sounds of her footsteps and did not have a single opening. As expected of an ex-inquisitor, she gave an impression of someone trained.
Ouka gestured him that it's clear.
Takeru showed her a signal for "wait" and spoke to the intercom.
"Usagi, how is it there?"
《"S-s-sev-seventh floor, office. L-light is on, The number... thr-t-two people."》
Usagi seemed to be nervous like usual.
"Okay, seventh floor it is."
《"——I-I am not really impatient, I am not nervous e-either! Do not think I am! I-I am just c-c-ca-careful."》
"Who even asked you about that, I just wanted to know the situation inside...?"
After saying that much, Takeru noticed something odd.
"Two people? Is the other party alone?"
《"It would appear so. I can only see through the window so they might be hidden. H-have I messed up?"》
The client was alone. It couldn't be, maybe the organization had the object passed through a collector without direct contact. In that case it would be a convincing reason as for why there's only two... but was that really possible?
《"...wh-what are we going to do? C-can I take them down already? I-I shall do it, I shall! I-i-it's a piece of ca-ca-cake!"》
It wasn't convincing when said by someone as they bite their tongue.
"Wait wait. We have to get to the office first."
When it came to Usagi's sniping, the only thing that could be trusted completely was her hit rate, but they couldn't be careless as there could be more enemies inside.
"Ootori, go around from the other side of the passage. We'll rush in after the signal."
Ouka was squat down in the cover point and looked at the ceiling. Ahead of her line of sight was just a ventilation outlet, nothing else.
What is she doing...?
Just when he thought she dazed off, she had gestured towards him instead of using the intercom.
A moment later, she signaled with her hand and disappeared.
So far so good, it would be good if it ended without a hitch like this.
Takeru went up the stairs while maintaining vigilance and arrived at the seventh floor.
He had confirmed the entrance to the target room.
A human figure, just one. The enemy held a handgun and let out smoke from his cigarette.
"Enemy found... one person at the room's entrance.
He reported to other members and waited for Ouka to arrive at the opposite side of the passage.
If they defeat the lookout and rush in, the guys inside the office will most likely notice it. Considering the risk of a shoot-out beginning the moment they rush in, it was better to rush in in conjunction with Usagi's sniping.
"Th-then, we'll go at more or less the same time. Usagi will take out the two people inside after making count to three for a signal. I'll rush in to become a decoy as the signal comes, when the lookout directs his attention to me Ootori will shoot him from behind. Meanwhile I'll rush inside... something like that... is that fine?"
《"T-that is quite a reasonable strategy from you. I u-un-understand? I-it is a-alright there's no problem I shall do it. B-by the way d-do I shoot after counting to zero? O-o-or maybe I d-don't count to zero and shoot? W-wh-which is i——"》
《"You're the one counting so it doesn't matter〜. Well, do your best〜."》
The person saying it was extremely motivated despite the fact she wasn't involved in the operation, he pretended not to hear that voice.
Takeru waited for Ouka to appear on the other side.
Meanwhile, although it was faint, he was able to hear the voice from the transaction site.
"...I hope you weren't followed, were you?"
"Don't worry. We have won over the person in charge of this office before we borrowed it. There won't be any troubles for you. I'd prefer not to use this one here."
"I don't mind if you think of it as of an optional reward. You can use or sell it. Rather than that, I've heard your organization was crushed by Inquisition, is it really all right?"
"I told you there's no problem dammit."
Because the wall was thin, the voices carried over.
Judging by the content there was no doubt. The information Ikaruga had stolen was correct.
"...so, have you brought it?"
"It's as you see."
A sound of clothes rustling.
"...indeed. Well done. The reward has been already left in the specified location."
"What are you going to do with something like this? Isn't it just fragments?"
Takeru furrowed his brows as he stood with his ear against the wall
Fragments? It's not "Trackless Psalms"?
"That has nothing to do with you. Don't try to stick your nose into our reasons."
"...what a creepy woman... by the way, there's something else I want you to buy."
"Hey, show her."
"One of the "Trackless Psalms" first edition books. I sneaked it out during confusion. It's definitely better stuff than that crap. How about it, you can name your own price."
"..really, how boundlessly stupid you guys are."
It could be felt that the atmosphere has turned tense inside.
"There are limits to how much you can underestimate Inquisition. Did you bunch think they wouldn't notice?"
"The reason your organization was destroyed was because of that book. As long as one book is missing they're going to chase you in a frenzy, to the ends of hell."
When he heard the disturbing development inside, sweat had ran down Takeru's cheek
They'll notice the assault. It would be very bad if they noticed and were on alert.
《"Reached appointed position. Your orders.》
Ouka reported to him at the very last moment. Takeru picked up the the baton he held against his waist, holding it firmly he switched on the button for electric current.
As he heard the replies, he put strength into his legs.
And the moment his eyes narrowed sharply
Takeru jumped out from the corner to draw the enemy's attention.
Of course, the enemy noticed him and tried to point his gun's muzzle towards him.
Holding the baton poised to the left, Takeru rushed straight towards the enemy without stopping.
A suicide attack. Of course, a fake one though.
Two shots from the rear. The enemy had collapsed instantly after the gunfire.
Ouka must have done everything according to the plan
At the same time,
《"I-I have done it! I have taken down the two! As expected of me, have you seen it, Kusanagi??"》
Because of Usagi's impatience the sniping's timing was little off, but there was no problem. Takeru passed through the fallen enemy and rushed towards the office, then stood with his back against the wall by the door.
When Ouka had quickly nodded in his direction, Takeru kicked down the door and rushed into the office.
Everything ended smoothly, Takeru felt happy inside.
They've gotten their first points. While it was still far from promotion's quota, with this, there was still hope...
Seeing the scene spreading on the other side of the door, Takeru was shocked.
Certainly, he confirmed it. He confirmed it with Usagi through radio before rushing in. Two people, both taken down, she said. He definitely hasn't misheard.
For some reason, in front of him there were seven Onii-sans pointing the black guns' muzzles in his direction.
《"What is it. Did you see it already, the dumbasses I took down! Amazing isn't it, I hit them both in their brains! Oooho hoho ho!!"》
"Uhh, right now in front of me... rather than two, I have seven Onii-sans surrounding me.."
《"...that's impossible! I have certainly taken them down?! Two men in security guard uniforms!"》
Without even thinking about it, Takeru understood what happened
"You... ain't that the building on the opposite side."
"Didn't ya just shoot two security guards?! Why would you shoot security guards, can't you tell by looking?!"
《".....................t-t-th-these things.........happen sometimes."》
As if!! It would be no joke if these weren't anesthesia bullets!!
While Takeru wanted to retort, this too was a captain's error. He knew right from the start that Usagi's hopeless syndrome could cause her to take actions normally impossible.
To be exact, there were nine enemies. Seven of them were mafia-like men, they wore coats and hats so that their faces weren't visible——and a silhouette by the window that was probably a woman's.
And, one more.
Seeing the most unexpected presence, Takeru was unable to rid himself of the haunting question. Why was such a thing there.
A humanoid covered in clunky armor. A round silhouette much bigger than a human.
There was no doubt. It was yet-unmanned, but that was truly a heavily-armored infantry reinforcing exoskeleton Inquisition was using in the past... a "Dragoon".
What the hell! I haven't heard about an organization that could bring out one of these...!
No matter how you think about it, it's not something a group of thugs would have. It seemed like both Ikaruga's and Inquisition's judgment was in the wrong. This was too dangerous for a mere D-rank Magical Heritage trade. Unlike the seven men upset by the sudden intervention, the coated woman had already opened the window and put a foot on its edge.
"Isn't it just like I told you, I'll be going back. I leave the clean-up to you."
After saying that, the woman kicked off the window. She looked at Takeru right before she jumped off.
Takeru tried to rush to her, but the woman had jumped before that. This was the building's seventh floor. For a normal human it wouldn't end with just an injury.
But, before Takeru could run up to the window, the leader-like man aimed this gun at him.
"Don't you move..."
"Th-this guy said he's an inquisitor. Isn't this bad?!"
"Don't panic. We've got a Dragoon here. Also, look well at the guy, he's not from regular inquisition, just the test platoon, right? You're AntiMagic Academy's student aren't you? What is a newbie like you doing, coming to a place like this."
A man that was the leader and five men that followed him. In addition to that, in the corner of the room there was a man looking like a thug who was holding "Trackless Psalms" and continued to grumble something.
The situation was hopeless. Although he had confidence to win one against one even if he used a baton, but he couldn't stand against seven people with a Dragoon.
"Ootori... don't come in."
So as not to let enemy hear it Takeru spoke in a voice so quiet it seemed like he was exhaling.
If they noticed there was one more person behind him, Ouka would end up being involved.
The enemy leader was smiling fearlessly. He had a smile of a someone certain of his victory. Takeru saw that smile many time, it was a smile that didn't hide the person's nature. Were it be Takeru from the past, he would give priority to his pride and rush right at him.
"Ha-haha...um... I-I got lost a little on my way home from school."
However, the current Takeru didn't do any reckless things. Rather, he couldn't.
He made a forced smile and told an excuse.
"I see, you got lost huh. That's troubling isn't it."
"Y-yeah. Well... ha-hahaha"
"What the hell you're laughing for——it's already a checkmate for you, bastard."
Next moment, their leader stuck out his tongue and put his finger on the trigger.
Takeru followed that movement with his eyes.
What to do? Give it a shot?
He dropped the baton and touched the sword's handle he had by his waist with his fingertips.
Laughter welled up in his chest as he thought of it. It wasn't realistic. A sword winning against a gun, how foolish. If it was him from a few years ago, he would have rushed in, but now he knew his own standing.
I can take out two... three people at best. And I'll probably get hit by few rounds by then.
The close quarters were good, but their numbers were bad. It was a literally a "desperate" attack.
There wasn't a single method left to him that would allow survival through combat
There was one, a way out for Takeru.'
No... that's no good. That would end up disastrous to me anyway...!
Having only one way out, Takeru was distressed.
A "technique" prohibited by the laws of Kusanagi Swordsmanship school that was available to him was his only way to break out through this situation.
Takeru shook his head and his fingertips let go of the sword.
Most likely Ikaruga realized in what situation was he in and has contacted the Inquisition, requesting a Spriggan's dispatch.
Until the Spriggans come he'll stall by talkin——
"? Hey, look at that guy, is he carrying a sword there? He has no gun but is equipped with a sword instead! Gahahaha, seriously? Unbelievable, is friggin right in the head?"
One of the enemy's comrades insulted Takeru and pointed at him.
Prompted by that, the bunch around him started laughing.
"Aren't inquisitors old-fashioned these days!! It's a terrifying, great samurai!"
"Even the general police is obligated to carry a mobile and a gun, he sure's got guts! Are you even sane, brat?!"
Gyahahahaha. As the laughter full of contempt echoed, Takeru stopped the movement of his hand, opening his eyes wide.
He's crazy. Outdated. Say -degozaru for us.
A flurry of insults. The voices he had heard many times before.
In response to these voices, a shadow was slowly cast on Takeru's face.
Probably since she noticed the situation, Ikaruga's voice had come from the intercom.
《"This is bad... Kusanagi, don't listen to them. I can somehow tell what's happening, if you get angry here it'll turn into the worst situation."》
"............I get it......!!"
《"Try to convince them. Prolong the conversation. You're no longer your past self, are you. I admit that my investigation was lacking for this mission, please——"》
"I get it...!!"
Starting with Takeru's toes, hot air like flames had crawled up slowly. Takeru himself felt his body and head heat up, clenching his teeth.
In this worst-case scenario Takeru's bad nature had started to reappear.
Bear it... bear with it...! I'm different from my past self, I can't snap at this happening these days...!! It's obvious that sword is inferior to the gun and you know it, Takeru! Let go of this outdated pride! You can bear with something like this, it'll all turn out well...
He bit his lips strong enough to have blood flow from them and tried to calm down his spirit through pain.
It's not like it started now... endure this... endure, endure, endure endure endure...!
Takeru desperately endured the anger.
If he snaps here, he won't only make trouble for himself but also for others. That alone has to be avoided, Takeru swallowed the anger.
"Swordsmanship, huh. What's it useful for? You and that scrap iron can't win against neither guns nor magic. Enough of this, writhe, you scrap iron bastard."
With these words the leader had spoke.
There was a sound of something snapping inside of Takeru's head.
《"Aaahh... it's over. Do whatever you want."》
Ikaruga's sigh no longer reached Takeru.
"Worry not, we won't kill you right away. Not until we sell your organs, bastard. What, we'll just put some holes in your legs. Since yer a samurai you can endure that much can't ya, eh?"
The enemy's voice had no longer reached him and the situation had continued to proceed, unstoppable.
The leader had put strength to the finger on the trigger.
At the same time, Takeru's fingers slowly had touched the sword again.
Along with the muzzle's flash, the bullet popped out of it, aiming to pierce through Takeru.
The bullet, just like in a slow motion video,
Sloo...wly continued to drop its speed.
It wasn't just the bullet. Everything reflected in Takeru's field of vision had its speed decrease, uniformly entering slow motion.
The spark from the muzzle. Hair swaying from the impact, dust dancing in the air, the voice of the crowd outside the building, everything.
Takeru's body was no exception, the hand pulling out the sword from its sheath had its speed heavily drop, as if he struggled in the cement.
The world had become stagnant. The world had become slow.
However, what was happening now was complete opposite of that.
The world surrounding him hasn't changed its speed, the time flowed normally.
What has sped up——
Leaving everything behind——
Was Takeru's brain.
That was all.
In the past, in order to obtain strength Takeru had received the teachings of a certain "Monster".
That Monster, an "ex-" human, was in the modern times the only person who had completely mastered the swordsmanship called Kusanagi Double-Edged style.
Two schools had existed in the Kusanagi style. One known to the public was Kusanagi True-Light style that was handed down in Takeru's household, it was a sword of murder of which purpose was to kill other people.
In contrast to it, Double-Edged style was something for killing monsters that were rampant approximately a thousand years ago. They were techniques for opposing things that weren't human.
In the modern times there were very few who knew the latter one.
In order to learn that Double-Edged style, Takeru had come in front of the Monster and requested.
——I want win against a gun with a sword.
——What should I do to win against a gun with a sword?
『...Takeru, that's impossible. Human body can't move as fast as a bullet. No matter how much you train, no matter how much swordsmanship you learn, you can't keep up with the bullet's speed."』
——Why can't the sword win?
『"That's cuz' its too fast for you to see. If you're skilled and have great luck, you might be able to block one bullet, but that's it. Give up."』
......even so, I want to win.
『"Impossible I said. You'll just die"』
——Even so, I want to win.
『"Give up on that. Sword can't do it."』
——Even so, I want to win!
『"Don't you get it. It's absolutely impossible.』
——Even so, I want to win!!
『"There's only one method. In exchange, if you continue to use it you'll regret this. Not only yourself, but you'll also hurt the ones important to you."』
——I don't care, teach me!
『"...very well, I will acknowledge your resolve. Listen Takeru, the thing you have to train the most is not your body."』
『"You see, to surpass your limitations... it's here, Takeru."』
『"Inside your head your flea-sized brain. "』
Hearing a loud metallic sound, everyone in the location revealed astonishment.
They didn't believe the scene in front of them, that's the kind of expression they made.
The leader had definitely shot with his gun. Without doubt he shot straight at Takeru. At this distance he wouldn't miss. Even a complete amateur, a child would have trouble missing from this distance.
And yet, Takeru was unscathed.
He didn't fall. He didn't bleed. He had no hole in him anywhere.
What was there, was a bullet sheared in half rolling on the floor and Takeru's silent figure standing there with a sword drawn.
The leader's expression twitched and he fired a second bullet in rapid succession.
That too, let out a metallic sound and didn't hit the target.
It took them a while to acknowledge the fact that Takeru had stopped the bullets with a sword.
Everything was shrouded in heavy silence.
"...you said it..."
Takeru's voice tore through the silence. Heavy, deep, an arrogant voice one wouldn't imagine could come from the cowardly boy from a moment earlier.
"...you said 'scrap iron'... prepare yourself, bastards."
He raised his face slightly, the peeking out from behind the long bangs, looking like a demon.
Everyone on spot cringed with fear.
Because a single demon holding a sword stood in front of them.
Takeru shouted. Quietly yet wild, like a demon's roar.
"Kusanagi Double-Edged style initiate, Kusanagi Takeru.
Neither average nor shit——one-sidedly, I'll cut you up ."
So powerfully, not one person could move.
Takeru was completely prepared for battle; his fighting instincts took over. Poised with his sword horizontally, he exuded a force that made people think they'd get slashed the moment they moved or took a breathe.
The seven men solidified.
Poising his sword horizontally, Takeru was in full battle readiness. His fighting instincts have surfaced and were they to move even a little, it seemed he would slash them just as he powerfully declared.
The seven men have froze on spot.
They still were unable to believe Takeru had cut down the bullets.
It was natural. there was no way there was a human could pull of a skill straight out of a manga.
However, Kusanagi-style was an absurd swordsmanship school. that mastered techniques like those in the manga.
What Takeru had triggered was a fully-fledged swordsmanship technique, "Soumatou". The origin of Kusanagi True-Light style was the aberrant Kusanagi Double-Edged style swordsmanship. A heretical sword, made to allow destroying the fantastical creatures called demons that are confirmed to have died out several hundred years ago, by using a human's own body.
That, was the "Soumatou".
Simply put, it temporarily releases the limiter in user's brain, accelerating it's processing capability. A person placed on the border of life and death, falling into extreme conditions, notes an increase in utilization of their brain.
They say, like a revolving lantern their memory flows through their mind.
They say, the world starts to look like it's in slow motion.
They say, the conflagration causes them to use incredible strength.
These phenomena result from the emergency activation of the brain, there are also theories that it can activate from a malfunction. But all of it, is power provided by the survival instinct.
The Soumatou which activates that instinct can be called a forbidden move of Kusanagi-style.
The men of the Kusanagi family have devised this technique to fight demons.
The leader lifted his lowered handgun, poised it and fired again.
He continued to pull the trigger until his magazine was empty.
It didn't reach——nothing reached.
Only a loud metallic sound of bullets ricocheting could be heard.
In the middle of gun smoke filling the room, Kusanagi Takeru was alive and well.
Takeru smiled, showing no sign of being troubled.
At a glance, the battle had turned around, but while Takeru looked like he could afford much more, it wasn't like it appeared to be for his body.
This Soumatou's activation's physical drive causes the body to bear a ridiculous burden. If he moves too forcibly the meat will be cut apart and the bones will break. Since bodily performance hasn't improved, it was a move that led to self-destruction.
The body couldn't keep up with brain being "serious".
So far Takeru had a several muscle fibres torn in his leg. His bones were aching, at this rate they would crack and be crushed.
"...this is nothing."
As he was now, Takeru left reasonable thinking like that behind.
Takeru who had an extraordinary pride ever since young, ended up having blood rushing into his head whenever swordsmanship was being ridiculed. Since he was very small, he was known as a problem child in the neighborhood.
Starting with his defeat in the second year of middle school, Takeru had finally re-examined his own behavior and was able to change himself. His personality changed for a calm one and he himself looked like a timid boy to others.
However, after he reaches the limits of his patience, blood rushes to his head and his original violent personality surfaces.
"I'll prove to you now whether it's scrap iron or not. It ain't necessary for you to come at me one by one. Come at me all together."
"Don't think it'll rust. I'll show you a slash from which not even blood will remain on the blade."
Showing a glimpse of canines, Takeru laughed with a furious expression.
After he's become like this, no one could stop him.
Even if all seven thugs lower their heads on spot, even if they start up the Dragoon or the Spriggans arrive he probably would be unable to suppress his anger.
If there was someone who could stop Takeru,
If there was someone, that would be——
《"Onii-chan, don't make... such scary face."》
Just one person. Takeru's only close relative, his little sister.
Hearing voice from the intercom, Takeru raised hysteric voice.
With such simple words, the anger welling up inside of Takeru was blown away somewhere.
What decided of it was "Onii-chan".
《"...have you calmed down? Kusanagi."》
"Eh?! Uh?! Just now, e-eh?!"
《"It was my voice, you siscon. How was it? Was it similar?"》
Being told that, Takeru thought that the tone of voice was considerably different from his little sister's. In the first place, it was absolutely impossible for his little sister to be with Ikaruga.
Takeru sighed with relief. Were he to remain like that, surely it would have become irreversible. Not in a meaning where he would kill the enemy, but rather that Takeru's body would have become irreparable. Thinking normally, even with Soumatou activated he wouldn't be able to win against seven people with guns. If they all fired at the same time there would be nothing he could do and would self-destruct before cutting everything down. Kusanagi's swordsmanship wasn't so convenient in usage.
Grateful for being stopped, Takeru attempted to lower his sword.
《"So, what are you going to do with this situation?"》
Being told that, he looked around him and saw seven thugs aim their guns at Takeru with frightened expressions on their faces.
Since he had threatened them with a frightening expression, they all thought of taking him down before he could take get to them and already had their fingers on the triggers.
Now I've done it. He concluded.
"A-aha, that before was a joke! Ittsu a jyouku! The thing about cutting so that there's no blood was obviously a joke. See, I've got that certain disease specific to people in puberty where I blurt out things wanting to act cool, aha-ahahaha."
After showing them a scene of bullets being cut in mid-air, it just wouldn't pass as a joke.
Being shown a power beyond what an ordinary person can use, it was natural they would attack in a group.
W-what do I do? Drop my weapon and raise my hands? Or maybe I should prostrate? I'm good at that but I think it's too late to apologize.
As thoughts rotated in Takeru's head at high speed,
Suddenly, the only fluorescent lamp attached at the ceiling broke.
Because the visibility had suddenly darkened, everyone's thinking in the location stopped for an instant.
That's when Takeru saw it.
Over the seven's heads, from the vent the ceiling was equipped with.
Something sunset-colored fell down.
It landed on enemy's head.
There, was a single girl, as her skirt and sunset hair had floated softly, she kicked kicked the man.
An incredibly out-of-place beautiful girl.
Her long hair that was floating in the air had slowly fallen in accordance to gravity.
From between the hair, a deep blue pair of eyes glowed sharply like a jewelry.
Takeru called her name.
One person tried to move the muzzle from Takeru to Ouka.
But she moved faster than that.
Using the recoil after landing she kicked off the man below him and leaped towards the man who was attempting to point the muzzle at her.
And using her left hand she pressed down enemy's handgun.
Barely touched, the enemy's gun had rolled on the ground.
Ouka did not stop. At the same time she neutralized the weapon of one person, using her comparatively high reaction speed she shoot another two. Anesthesia bullets have hit the two targets in the chest and sent them to land of dreams.
Her movements were like a rapid stream. In a split second her elbow burst into the chin of the man who dropped a gun in surprise and she jumped inverting her body.
With flexibility like that of a leopard she had danced in the air, deliver a powerful jumping kick to another person's face.
Suddenly, the last remaining person who had lost all his comrades could only stand still, confused.
Helpless, he was swept off his feet by Ouka and fell on his back
Uwahh, he screamed. Feeling the pain in his back, in the last moment after he opened his eyes.
An unbelievable beautiful girl——had entered his field of vision.
Seeing the girl look down on him, the man was dazed. His absent-mindedness looked very similar to what Takeru had experienced in the death-match in middle school.
Too beautiful, too strong, he was unable to speak up.
As he felt such trivial impression, the muzzle was pressed against his belly and hit by anesthesia bullet from zero distance, regrettably he lost his consciousness.
All of it happened in a blink of an eye.
Ouka stood up with a cool expression and swept her hair aside.
——However, it wasn't over yet.
Number one presence that couldn't be ignored. A huge shadow behind Ouka.
Takeru shouted instinctively.
It should have been unmanned, but the man holding "Trackless Psalms" and muttering something had boarded it in the middle of commotion.
The Dragoon swung its huge arm. Ouka remained turned in Takeru's direction, the cool expression still on her face.
"——Get down. Don't interfere."
So she told Takeru.
The next moment, just when he saw her lower her waist, Ouka has disappeared.
Cutting through the air, a huge fist broke the office's floor.
《"Damn, I missed?!"》
An upset voice had come from inside the Dragoon's armor. Ouka jumped very low, rolled on the ground and then took a posture on her knee, she changed her ammunition loading a magazine with live bullet instead of anesthesia ones.
The Dragoon pulled its fist backwards, attempting to capture her.
Ouka moved faster than the Dragoon and lightly, she fired three shots towards enemy's right arm's joint. Of course, even with live ammunition it hadn't enough power to damage it.
《"I won't let myself get caught in a place like thiiiiissssss."》
Along with a frightened cry, the minigun's barrel attached to the Dragoon's left arm let out an eerie sound of rotation.
Takeru instantly lied down on the ground, protecting his head.
Ouka kicked off the floor and at the same time as she had begun to run through the office, from the rotating barrel bullets have scattered with a momentum of a storm.
A loud sound of gunfire and breaking. The minigun not only destroyed the desks and chairs, but also marked the wall with holes in the trajectory following Ouka.
Ouka ran through along the wall of the office and even though it could be said that powerful impact was grazing her, she had calmly pulled the trigger aiming the muzzle at the Dragoon's right arm.
As pieces of wood scattered and dust rose up, the girl was sprinting in front of the bullet inferno. As she ran her bright hair trailing behind her had shone radiantly as if fluttered behind her. Ouka had curved when she reached the office room's corner and kicking off the floor, she jumped towards the Dragoon this time.
She slid, the bullets flew over her head almost reaching her as she passed through.
After sliding on the ground Ouka had crawled right under the Dragon.
It was very large, once one moved closer to the Dragoon, the minigun was nothing to be afraid of any longer. However, in close combat the Dragoon's knuckle was waiting.
The huge right fist was swung up. Ouka, remained on the floor looking upwards.
Thinking that it would crush her at this rate, Takeru reflexively was about to trigger the "Soumatou", that's when.
From the Dragoon's right arm, squeaky sounds could be heard.
The raised arm did not lower, it has stopped in the air. It only let out creaking and did not budge.
The man piloting it screamed.
Takeru concentrated, looking at the dragoon's right arm.
In a small gap between the joints, three bullets have bit into the worm gear's mechanism.
With them inside, it was impossible for it to move. There was no other way but to manually remove them during maintenance.
"The drawback of the old-style Dragoons is it's joint drive's exposure and vulnerability. Also, it's not one made for close combat."
《"E-even so... it's not something you can stop with a handgun, right?!""》
What the man said was reasonable.
God-like marksmanship. The gap was merely 3 centimeters big. It was possible for a normal human to hit there. Even if the low-powered gun had good accuracy, there was a limit. And above all, pulling off something like that in the middle of tense combat was not normal.
《"Dammit, Move! Come on, move!"》
Although the operator swayed the Dragoon's body, the swung up arm remained there, cutting through the air.
At that time, the pilot had already lost the sight of Ouka.
Where? Before he could think that,
*bam*... the pilot felt a slight vibration and something on the back.
On the Dragoon's back as it was in a kneeling position, on top of the armor stood the powerful girl with hair that had color of sunset.
Her cold gaze and her gun's muzzle were both aimed at the bottom of the Dragoon's neck, where it was equipped with an exhaust port.
Monster. The moment he tried to say that.
Pressing the gun's muzzle against the exhaust's small opening, Ouka squeezed the trigger.
A scream had come from inside the Dragoon and it's huge body swayed attempting to shake her off, but Ouka firmly held onto the Dragoon's head and wasn't thrown off. Even as her body and hair were shaken vigorously, she continued to fire bullets towards the interior through the exhaust port until ammunition had ran out.
The bullets that had entered the exhaust port have ricocheted inside violently, breaking the instruments and piercing through the pilot's body.
When she exhausted everything by firing, the Dragoon finally stopped and smoke had raised from inside.
The cockpit's hatch opened, spilling smoke violently.
The pilot showed himself. His shoulder and leg were shot by one bullet each and his flesh was torn off.
She really defeated it, a Dragoon, using just her own body.
Ouka had eliminated an opponent that normally would require an anti-tank weapon to beat, using a handgun that was a sub-weapon. He wondered whether there was a precedent of such thing.
He already knew it but,
Even though he knew it from the start,
...she's on a way different level.
As Takeru was speechless, elsewhere the pilot breathed faintly and was pointed a gun's muzzle at by Ouka who put a leg in the cockpit.
"...that's how it ends up when an amateur uses a Dragoon, did you learn something?"
"It might be outdated scrap, but it's against the law to operate a Dragoon without a permit. In case the operator is hostile, we're allowed to shoot to kill the pilot."
"He...hehehe...do it...I dare you, y...you can't do it anyway."
"You bastards won't shoot people who don't resist. I know that well."
As the man talked back to her in an insulting manner, Ouka fell silent. In response to which the man got even more full of himself.
"See. You ain't shootin'."
"Even if I kill a kid in of ya bastards, you just continue to stare like th——"
"Gaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh, ahh! It hrdss! It hurddsssssst!"
The man held his left leg that should have been intact.
Takeru was stunned, unable to move but he immediately noticed Ouka had pulled the trigger.
Takeru tried to rush over, but his legs immediately stopped
With her cobalt-blue eyes wide open Ouka looked down at the man as he suffered.
In her pupils, there was something very, very dangerous.
"Zo-sorry! F-forgive me, don't shoot me any more! I'll give this back! Take it back!"
The man took out "Trackless Psalms" from his pocket and offered it weakly.
Ouka saw it and her expression slowly darkened, becoming steeper.
"You're the one who told me to try it."
"I thought you wanted to get killed, was I wrong? That's really convenient. It's a great help."
"I-it was a joke! A joke I tell you...I apologize, s-save me!"
As the man howled miserably in front of her, Ouka narrowed her eyes sharply. What resounded in the office were just the man's screams and crying.
Meanwhile, Ouka's mouth trembled.
Takeru had certainly heard a quiet, bell-like voice.
"Trash... garbage... despite having a great strength they won't use it righteously. Whether you bastards have power or not you hurt others for your own profit... it makes me sick."
He felt clear hatred and cold murderous intent. Takeru didn't know what had angered her to such an extent.
Takeru intuitively understood that the anger coming from deep inside her and overtook her hadn't come from something ordinary.
It could be called a foreboding.
The suddenly-springing up murderous intent caused Takeru to recall faint dread.
"...I'll exterminate you. You bastards, witches too... everything...!"
Ouka moved the gun's muzzle from the man's leg to his head, when she had set up the gun Takeru shouted.
"W-what the hell are you doing! That's enough isn't it?!"
"The opponent is armed with a reinforced exoskeleton. This treatment is legitimate, Captain."
"Armed with... ain't he powerless now!"
"I see. You're right. But what he's holding now is a Magical Heritage. Ohh... I found a reason to kill him."
"That's too far-fetched! He's holding it out to you! So, what reason you're gonna use now?!"
"Silence. It's already up to me. If I hadn't come you would have been defeated. Since you know that, just stand there and look."
Ouka didn't accept the words of Takeru, the captain.
It clearly wasn't something a professional would do. Even inquisitors were allowed to shoot to kill under limited circumstances. If the opponent doesn't resist, it turns into a huge problem.
He clearly said she was in the wrong. It wasn't that Takeru wanted to cover for the man. In fact, Takeru didn't care what happens to that kind of scum.
Was this man to be killed, it would end up with a bad result for Ouka and the platoon. Right now, as the captain he had to stop it no matter what.
"Now... let's start the witch-hunt."
As if looking at a dying ant, Ouka's mouth distorted.
——Make it in time!!
Takeru triggered "Soumatou" in a split second. His body moved before he could make a decision in his head.
Feeling pressure with his entire body as if he was moving in the cement, he rushed in the slow-motion world.
Ouka displayed astonishment. Takeru who was supposed to be behind her had imperceptibly appeared in front of her to protect the man and grasper her arm.
Holding Ouka's wrist, Takeru was about to admonish her with a serious look.
Because "Soumatou's" momentum was too strong, his posture was disturbed, and he fell on the floor together with Ouka.
He raised his body while rubbing his head, then opened his eyes.
In a posture looking like he pushed her down, Takeru hung over Ouka. His hand that should have been on the floor felt an indescribable sensation. A water balloon? A marshmallow? A rubber ball? None of it seemed like it, it was a warm and soft bulge.
Just from feeling it, his heart rate had accelerated.
No words came out. All inside his head was a honest impression saying "pretty big".
There wasn't any change in Ouka's expression. Just, he could tell her face faintly reddened.
Desperate, Takeru said so. He himself had no idea why was it okay, but he searched for the words that would allow him to survive through this situation.
"I'm——in small breasts faction!"
"Sorry, I lied! That's not the problem! It's an excuse, I lost control, please forgive me!"
Having a muzzle put against his forehead, Takeru made a posture raising his both hands in surrender.
With a bright red face Ouka raised her body and ground the muzzle against him.
She growled in embarrassment. Although it would be rude to say it was unexpected, but she was unexpectedly maidenly. Since all he had seen of her was how she fought back in the middle school, he was under the impression that she was a female terminator. He was sure that she would either coldly slap him or just say "could you move?" in response.
Her eyes have become watery. She has cute parts too, he ended up thinking.
And that he'd be shot. He'll definitely be shot.
"Wait! Calm down Ootori!"
"Hurry up——and get off meeeeeee!!"
She put strength in pulling the trigger. Takeru prepared himself to die.
Even though he should have been shot through forehead, for some reason pain had come from the back of his head.
Takeru tried to take a look back, but failed.
Strength left his body, just like that his face was buried in Ouka's chest with a *boing*. Although it seemed like his head was being beaten and turned into a total mess, he could no longer feel the pain.
《"Th-this time, I-I to-took them out? I took them out haven't I?! Y-yay! I did it!!"》
A joyful voice had come from the intercom. As his consciousness turned ambiguous, Takeru understood.
The one who shot him wasn't Ouka, but Usagi. Surely she had no grasp on what was happening and in a rush she had erroneously mistaken Takeru for the enemy. The fact it was an anaesthesia bullet was a blessing in disguise.
This was the result of failing to report the situation.
"In the end...it ends up...like this...huh."
You reap what you sow, before he could say that Takeru had lost consciousness.
Ouka roughly pushed Takeru away, who had fainted in her chest with a happy expression. Throwing the noisy intercom she had on her ear, then raised her sunset hair in annoyance.
"Small fries, small fries... is what I heard, but I didn't expect it to be this bad."
With appalled expression she put her hand on her forehead.
After rolling down to the floor, Takeru seemed to have a nightmare about being chased by debt collectors. Ouka had furrowed her eyebrows in anger.
This time's mission would probably, definitely fail if not for Ouka being here. With just thugs as their opponents 35th platoon would probably somehow manage, but it was a different story with the Dragoon in it.
It had clearly exceeded the student level. If not for Ouka, they would have been wiped out.
Ouka squinted as she looked at the broken Dragoon.
''These guys shouldn't have something like a Dragoon. It's strange to bring it out for a Magical Heritage on the level of "Trackless Psalms"... in that case there was something else...''
There was something happening behind the scenes.
The moment Ouka though that,
"Mmm, mm, I'm s-sorry, next week for sure... I'll pay for suree... ahh, stop, don't destroy the furniture. Mm, mmm...."
Her thoughts were hindered by the sleep talk coming from the side, Ouka's cheek twitched.
"Of all things this is the captain..."
She heaved a sigh.
"Haa, why is the chairman considering giving a Relic Eater to a bunch like this?"
Ouka muttered to herself with a tired expression, her pupils displaying disappointment were directed to Takeru.
She stared in a daze at Takeru's appearance as he made a unhappy expression.
Can't do anything but close quarters combat, spineless, his leadership is bad.. there's nothing good about him. As a bonus, his defect is that he easily snaps.
The more she looked at him, the more disappointed she was.
But... as my impulses have taken over, this man's the first one to come to stop me.
Even though she gave him one point more in evaluation for it, she didn't feel any gratitude.
Ouka was aware of her own shortcomings. This critical tendency was just an obstacle in the way of her goal.
The single point of them both snapping easily was where she and Takeru might have resembled each other.
When she thought so, an ironic smile had appeared on Ouka's face.
As she looked at sleeping Takeru's expression, Ouka felt an illusion as if her shoulders have become a little lighter.
What had emerged in her heart was a slight hope.
The loneliness in her heart had slightly faded away.
That's why Ouka dared to,
——She dared to,
"...after all this time."
She discarded her expectations and moved her line of sight away from Takeru, looked at the night sky outside the window.
The sky had was lit up by the city's neon lights and not a single star could be seen.
On the roof of a distant building.
From there, an azure girl has seen it all.
Above the water tank, her legs were in mid-air and unmoving, her hair fluttered in the wind.
The girl alone, stood in the night sky.
The hair of the girl who spoke his name floated, disobeying gravity.
Like sand that raised from the ground and reflected moonlight,
Surrounding the girl, dancing like fireflies were glittering azure particles.
Soumatou (そうまとう) - It's written as "Magic-Sweeping Sword" (掃魔刀) and read as "Soumatou" (そうまとう). The "Soumatou" is a reference to "Revolving Lantern" (走馬灯) and how it's sometimes associated with the phenomenon of "life flashing before your eyes" during the near-death experiences.