『"Don't make fun of the sword!"』
Four years earlier, Kusanagi Takeru who has been admitted to AntiMagic Academy shouted that when he was given a hard time by the other students.
Ikaruga stared at Takeru who stood at the center of the venue and around whom students gathered.
A sword was hanging by his waist, an anachronistically dressed boy. With his appearance he obviously stood out, but it strangely burned itself into her head.
Of course, after that it was the pattern where he was called out by ten people. The overwhelming number of enemies there originally was, couldn't have been overcome.
『"I won't lose to anyone! Be it guns or magic, I'll cut through all of it!"』
He puffed his chest proudly and declared, provoking them 'come and get it'.
A while later.
Takeru went back to school all beat up, and sprawled out.
During the fight, he didn't draw the sword even once.
『"The sword, why didn't you pull it out?"』
Asked Ikaruga who was watching everything from the window located at the second floor of school building.
『"Ha? Who the hell are ya?"』
『"Just an onlooker. Hey, why didn't you pull it out?"』
Ikaruga suddenly spoke to him in an over familiar manner, in response, Takeru snorted in disgust while not even trying to hide his hostility.
『"I didn't lose my pride to the point of drawing a sword against unarmed opponents."』
『"Hmm. What a weird pride."』
『"No matter how much they harass me. If I throw away my pride and my sword, I won't be myself anymore. It couldn't have been helped right from the start... is it so bad to cling to it?"』
『"Is it bad to be desperate? Is it really that bad?"』
『"That pride, is it really something that noble to make you cling to it?"』
『"...laugh if you want. I won't change no matter what they say to me."』
With a face covered by blue bruises, Takeru glared at Ikaruga.
And then Ikaruga, just as she has been told to, she laughed happily.
『"You're really interesting. I like you. I like sharp people."』
『"What's that... also, who the hell are you?"』
『"Nn? Before you ask someone for their name, you should give yours first right?"』
『"...you're pissing me off."』
As he said she's pissing him off, Ikaruga laughed even more happy causing Takeru to glare at her madly.
『"...it's Kusanagi Takeru. I came here to become an Inquisitor and change the world."』
『"Suginami Ikaruga. I came to this school to sing a song of youth."』
Before the Small Fry Platoon came to be.
They met while both of them were still lonely.
As the cold rain fell, Takeru lied on his back and his consciousness remained between dream and reality.
Although the poison already left his body, the scratches Ikaruga treated have opened, and the fracture was also pretty serious. Even his head, was still wandering in the world of memories.
The encounter with Ikaruga, was an invaluable experience for Takeru.
Takeru grew up in special environment, in seclusion, those whom he could call his friends aside, he didn't even have many opportunities to talk with other people.
Speaking to him without any hostility, Ikaruga was the first to do that. He wasn't grateful for it back then. But now, he was grateful to her for talking to him back then.
If not for Ikaruga, he wouldn't have met his current comrades. And thus a group misfits like them, wouldn't have joined forces.
Takeru put some strength in his muscles.
"...are we really that...unreliable..."
Takeru tried to stand up, but he had quite a few ribs broken. As expected, it couldn't have been helped after being hit by a Dragoon's uppercut. Together with his bleeding shoulder, it caused his consciousness to fade.
A watery sound reached him from nearby, Takeru opened his eyes and looked towards the source of it.
Standing there, completely wet because of the rain was Lapis.
"Host, the permission to use Relic Eater was received from Ootori Sougetsu. Shall we?"
Lapis mentioned it indifferently, and Takeru stared at her in return.
"I, I want to save my comrade."
"Restoration of elves, Alchemist, things like that are too difficult for me and I'm not interested in them. Even the truth about her being Designs Child, it doesn't matter."
"But, if Suginami hates it all, I will crush it with all my strength."
"Your power is necessary... come with me, Lapis."
Lapis didn't answer.
She just reached out to Takeru quietly.
"You don't need to get a permission from me. I will protect you. You are my everything."
"You belong to me, and I belong to you. I am not interested in what you desire. As long as I dwell within you, I will use all my power to fulfill your wishes."
"After all, I am your sword."
Her outstretched hand seemed cold.
Ouka said that a Relic Eater is not an ally.
But for now, that was fine.
That's who swords originally are. They exist in order to kill, they exist to be used.
It would be weird if he refused it.
Takeru took Lapis' hand.
As expected, her hand was as cold as a blade.
Takeru stood up, and the pain roused his consciousness, he glared at the fifth laboratory's tower.
"We're going to crush the laboratory. Let's subjugate them, Lapis."
And with his beaten up body, he held out a hand in front of himself.
"Summis desiderantes affectibus——"
He shook his extended hand as if cutting something.
An azure magic circle appeared beneath his feet.
While clad in light particles, as if she was to hug Takeru from behind, she broke down into particles.
And, at the same time as the magical circle beneath his feet shattered,
Takeru's figure turned into that of a knight in azure armor.
《"Now——let's trample over them."》
Clad in azure particles, Takeru started walking.
His goal was, Alchemist's fifth weapons development laboratory.
To prevent the restoration of the elves and in order to save his comrade, the demon will subjugate them.
Around fifth laboratory outer wall, there were already several hundred Dragoons waiting.
In response to the news of the impending Inquisition's army, mercenaries from who were hired from private companies raised the security, puzzled.
Five Dragoon machines were guarding near the outer wall, and their pilots were chatting while remaining cautious.
《"I wonder if they really started a war, the Alchemist."》
《"We are just hired mercenaries. Shut up and do your duties."》
《"Even so, this is disturbing. Deploying two hundred Dragoons is unheard of. Also, isn't it just a request from fifth laboratory rather than headquarters themselves? Is this really alright?"》
《"Inquisition is useless, I wonder if they will really come."》
No difference even if they do, and with that the surrounding mercenaries laughed together.
All of them were strays raised in the border, veterans who experienced combat many times.
They were requested by fifth laboratory, they all gathered for the sake of profit by acting as their muscles.
The guy in charge of Alchemist's security told them that the Dragoons were paid for by Alchemist, as such they are free to treat them rough, and handle them as they wanted.
It was just what the mercenaries wanted.
《"Still, it's creepy, the guys at fifth laboratory. Even though there were a lot of researchers coming and going before, now it's just a handful of them. Where did they go? The guys who remained have such poor complexion they look like corpses."》
《"Indeed. Also, that nasty smell... they might really be corpses."》
《"Well, as long as they pay us I don't care. After this I won't have to work for my entire life, that's cheap."》
The Dragoon shouldered a gun, the mercenaries continued to guard the outer wall.
That's when, there was a reaction on the radar, it came from the direction of the buildings in Grey City.
He zoomed the camera in, and acquired the target.
Even so, he though it's probably a vagrant or something like that,
《"...eh, what's that."》
It was an unexpected visitor, the mercenary furrowed his brows.
Displayed from the camera, was a person who wore an armour as he walked in the rain. It seemed like his comrades also zoomed their cameras' in and acquired the target.
《"It doesn't seem like he's equipped with a Dragoon. And he's not holding a gun... is that... a sword?"》
《"A sword? Are you joking? Isn't that some pervert with a cosplay hobby?"》
As he said that, the mercenary approached the armored knight while aiming his gum at him.
《"Hey, stop! You cosplay bastard, what are you doing here? If you don't want to die, surrender and discard your weapon. Turn back and go participate in some geek event!"》
He mocked and provoked him, the Dragoons in the back responded with laughter.
A sound as if wind was cut through.
Wondering what was it, the mercenaries stopped laughing, and saw something unbelievable.
A rifle made of orichalcum was lying on the ground, sheared in half.
Although they looked again in a hurry, they could no longer see the armor-clad knight.
《"W-what... where did he go?!"》
He unplugged the handgun from the Dragoon's waist and looked around.
"Kusanagi Double-Edged style——Mantis Slope."
A voice from above.
The mercenaries immediately turned their cameras directly above,
A distorted sound of metal being pierced through rang out.
The Dragoons behind saw all of it.
When they thought the armored knight had disappeared, the barrel fell, and the moment they blinked, the knight fell from the sky.
He pierced the head of the Dragoon with the blade as he dropped, and he landed on the shoulder armor like a leopard. By twisting his sword he cut a few lines in the Dragoon, finishing it.
The armored knight——Takeru, with bright red eyes like that of a beast, he turned towards the remaining Dragoons.
To mercenaries, it looked like an evil spirit straight out of the myths.
But it was too late.
The demon had jumped off the Dragoon's wreckage to eradicate the remaining ones.
《"E-enemy attack! Too fast! What is this guy!"》
Inside the outer wall. The communication reached all the mercenaries who have been making preparations for interception in fifth laboratory.
《"What's the location? That's outside right, report how many of them is there. Are they Dragoons?"》
《"Human? You're joking right?"》
《"An armor-equipped human! I wouldn't use the emergency line for a joke——uwaaaaaa!"》
With a noise, the communication was interrupted.
Unexpectedly, the situation turned into something unbelievable, everyone was stunned.
All of a sudden, the wall in front of the mercenaries who were guarding the inside was cut in a V-shape, causing them to tremble in fear.
The outer wall fell down and a heavy sound rang out, a cloud of dust has risen.
It should have been made out of adamantium, which is an anti-magic material. It wouldn't budge even if it were to be shot with by a tank. That wall shouldn't be destroyed as easily as this.
The mercenaries changed into thermographic camera, and remained cautious.
An enemy stood in the middle without hiding himself. A human——clad in armor.
《"...impossible... I can't believe it."》
Seeing something so unbelievable, he took a step back.
A knight with red eyes, wearing an armor in the middle of the rain, he was indeed there.
Takeru tore down the outer wall and entered, he confirmed the enemy forces inside.
A tremendous amount of forces. Only once has he saw this many Dragoons deployed, and that was on TV.
《"Main forces of Alchemist, "Cyclops" type Dragoons. Although they are highly mobile, the armor is slightly worse than usual. If possible it's best to aim at the joints."》
"Certainly, they are brittle... I cut one's arm off without using witch hunter form before."
《"This time hostiles are not magical. Since they are using an anti-magic armor, the most effective means are physical attacks."》
"Rather than going against that cunning sorcerer, I prefer this, it's simpler."
《"Yes. I'm turning the magic to strengthen the body. Please pull the trigger to change the sword mode. I will match your intentions."》
《"Well then, enjoy yourself."》
At the same time as Takeru appeared in the middle, Dragoons rushed at Takeru all at once, smoke came out from their boosters.
There were ten of them. They turned around and attacked all at once.
Takeru pulled the trigger, and instantly sheathed the sword in the sheath that appeared.
Then, he pulled the sword to the back of his waist and twisted his waist to the limit.
"Kusanagi Double-Edged style——Single Wheel."
Omnidirectional sword technique, Single Wheel.
He slashed drawing a full circle, because the sword extended when he pressed the trigger after pulling it out, it caused damage in a fairly wide range.
The enemy Dragoons had their knees cut all at once and tipped over. As they struggled to move, their upper bodies were unable to take aim.
In just a moment, an entire platoon was wiped out.
But the enemy's attacks didn't end with just this.
《"——Don't approach him! Shoot him with guns! Shoot! Shoot him!"》
Hearing about the situation, the mercenaries from behind the building started shooting at him simultaneously with their assault rifles.
Obviously knocked it all down.
After triggering the Soumatou, he cut down the entire bullet storm with the least movements required.
Seeing an armored knight dancing with the momentum like a tornado, the Dragoon pilots were terrified.
They squeezed their triggers until the magazines were empty, the gun smoke has risen and they no could no longer see the armored knight.
All of them, were plunged into despair. Thinking they already lost.
Alive. The enemy was alive. He wasn't taken down even by a barrage like that.
Indeed, any moment, from that smoke he will——
One of them shouted, and all of them looked at the sky.
There, was a swordsman with a sparkling armor among the rain-clouds——
The middle machine tried to reload a magazine in time before it was cut.
Although it tried to replace it by moving the manipulator in a hurry, that opening was fatal.
Unable to trace him with their eyes, the Dragoons bent down.
With an azure sword's cutting trajectory acting like a lamp, a nightmarish after-image of an armored knight burned itself into pilots memory.
None of them has ever seen Dragoons being trampled over so easily.
Looking again, there was one more machine.
Its operator couldn't even raise a scream, he just shook and trembled while holding the controls.
You're next, as if saying that to the left-over dragoon. The armored knight pointed his sword towards the cockpit.
"Out of my way if you don't want to die! If you seriously want to die, my arm is ready any time!"
"If you still want to fight, I will fight you with my life on the line!"
With a murderous intent, Takeru declared towards the pilot.
*gakun*, like a puppet that lost its strings, the Dragoon dropped to its knees.
Seeing enemy losing the will to fight, Takeru withdrew his sword and took a breath entering a state of relaxed alertness.
"...Lapis, do you know anything about Suginami's whereabouts or the facilities experimenting on elves?"
《"Please wait for a moment. Constructing FM bits——diffusing."》
In response to Takeru's call, Lapis materialized an azure sphere, then diffused it to search the facility.
《"...I couldn't locate Suginami-sama's heat response, however the top floor of the tower is covered in a powerful anti-magic material, it has jamming installed. Probably, that is the elves experiment station, eventually Suginami-sama will arrive at those coordinates."》
"The top floor. That's troublesome... can you give me the shortest route?"
《"If we continue this way, we'll have to make a detour. We can take the straight route towards the tower but the security there is more solid."》
"Understood... by the way, Lapis."
《"What is it."》
"You, can't you fly?"
《"? You mean in a sense, as in flying in the sky?"》
As Takeru came up with a ridiculous request, Lapis went silent for a moment.
Even Takeru thought that no matter how inhuman the force she demonstrates, he asked for the impossible.
《"There are no wings so flight is impossible. However, its possible to glide to some extent after jumping."》
"Really? You're really amazing."
《"............ Host, please refrain from complimenting me during battle."》
《"I'll get embarrassed."》
That was unexpected, Takeru suddenly looked at the sword with his eyes wide open. Embarrassed? A sword is embarrassed?
What, that's new. Lapis who usually clings to him even when he's half-naked without blushing was embarrassed. Although he wondered what that meant, he ended up with a conclusion he took for granted.
Because Lapis is a sword, she wouldn't understand what shame was for humans, she wouldn't be pleased after being called a beautiful woman.
I see. She was embarrassed after being praised as a weapon. Takeru looked at her as if she was his prey and laughed.
"Haha, you're unexpectedly cute. That's quite refreshing——"
《"A turbulence will occur during the operations causing the witch hunter form to be released and if it comes to the worst Host's upper and lower body connection might be undone——"》
"——I will be careful from now on."
Takeru's face turned blue and he lowered his hips.
He bent his knees and put all his strength into his legs.
Armour-clad leg's muscles released a distorted sound, and cracks appeared on the ground.
Releasing his knees like a spring, he kicked off the ground.
After jumping up, Takeru's ascended up to the sky like a swallow.
《"Releasing FM booster, adding propulsion to leap."》
At the same time magic was released from the armor covering Takeru's soles, acting like a booster.
After he rose up to the limit, he started to descend.
He was gliding through the sky relatively slow, and could see the entire facility.
"It's huge... also, the number of Dragoons is..."
《"If you were to go against all of them, even Host and I wouldn't last long."》
"Is that so?"
《"The amount of magic power produced by me is smaller compared to other Relic Eaters. With absorption as a characteristic, I was made under the assumption I will obtain magic from external sources."》
"I see. Even you have weak points."
"N-no, I don't blame you alright? You're doing really well. Please don't go depressed?"
He didn't want to be sheared in half by because of depression. He wanted to believe that the magic booster's power wasn't reduced because of her mood.
After calming himself down, he landed on the roof of a building before leaping again.
Although it wasn't as big as the school that functioned like a city, it was of a size comparable to that. Looking down below, there were a lot of Dragoons moving around restlessly, probably looking for Takeru.
《"Go through the roof of the building, please go north-north-west. By adjusting your body orientation you can adjust the booster."》
If he keeps flying like that, he will eventually arrive at the innermost tower.
The enemies wouldn't think he moves through the sky.
Just when he though that,
《"——A heat source incoming from the front. Host, please avoid."》
Right after she said that, Takeru lightly avoided towards the right, immediately after that,
A huge shell whizzed past right in front of his face.
《"It's an enemy grenade. I believe it is a self-propelled artillery installed on the outer walls."》
"This is bad!"
A sound of bombardment could be heard in a distance, a moment later another bullet approached Takeru.
He triggered Soumatou and slashed the shelling with all his strength.
The shelling divided into two and exploded, the blast hit Takeru.
《"Minor damage. However, if it continues there will be a lot of damage despite the magical armor."》
"It can't be helped, let's fly as low as possible...!"
《"——Enemy shadow behind us."》
Takeru inverted his body right after the warning report, and looked behind him.
There, were two Dragoon machines following Takeru as he flew.
The Dragoons were holding rifles, and started to shoot at him.
"They were adapted for flight...!"
《"A new model of Dragoon, "Byakhee". We're at a disadvantage in aerial combat."》
"Shit... that's a tough customer... Lapis, can you turn into a kusarigama?"
He pulled the trigger and Lapis changed into a kusarigama.
While continuing to escape from the Dragoons, Takeru started to swing the kusarigama's chain.
And when the rotation reached its peak, he flung it towards the rear with all his strength.
But, because Takeru is extremely clumsy, the sickle was blown away in wrong direction.
《"Host, remote attacks——"》
"It's fine, just look!"
Takeru clutched onto the chain that seemed to stretch forever, and then suddenly wielded it moving it sideways.
As if cutting enemy with a sword, the blade affixed to a chain spun.
The sickle changed direction going after them, and the chain twisted like a snake coiling around them.
When Takeru confirmed the chain has captured the enemy, he turned off the boosters and fell straight down.
And, he flung the chain over his shoulder.
"Kusanagi Double-Edged style——Snake Belt Drop!"
And like that, they were slammed into the ground.
The Dragoons hit the ground along with the chain, its limbs were crushed and scattered on the ground.
A moment later, Takeru landed on the ground making a crater.
《"I'm surprised. You can use a kusarigama as well."》
"...I've told you, that the Kusanagi-style doesn't use only swords. If you think of the chain as the swords extension it'll somehow work out. Well, I'm kinda bad with it, but this much is..."
He stood up and exhaled deeply.
After taking care of the enemy somehow, he had to refrain from moving in the air any more than that. Because he couldn't tense himself in the air, he could only wield the sword with his upper body. That's why no matter how much he uses kusarigama, it's not efficient to fight that way.
That is the reason why fighting on the ground was better.
...but even with that said.
"...this is bad."
After noticing where he landed, cold sweat quickly covered him.
It was the main street directly in front of main gate.
In other words——right in the middle of enemy forces.
"Seems like we were guided here."
《"It can't be helped. Let's break through the front."》
"No other way but to do it."
Kusarigama changed form and returned to that of a nodachi, he set it up.
The countless Dragoons around him have turned their muzzles towards him.
It was truly an explosive situation. An individual versus an entire group. At an overwhelming disadvantage, Takeru tried to start up the struggle completely fearless.
《"——Kusanagi! Are you alright?!"》
That's when, a communication via magic resonance sounded in his ear.
That voice, was Ouka's.
Just when Takeru was about to respond, there was an explosion and smoke appeared on the main street in the direction of the gate.
Every few seconds there was more explosions and smoke rising from them, they were gradually approaching him.
The surrounding enemies didn't know what was happening and were confused, he saw a figure of a Dragoon machine moving on a caterpillar from the direction of the main gate.
With the guns blazing, the Dragoon approached Takeru.
《"Inquisition emblem confirmed. They're allies. Seems like a new model."》
The Dragoon identified as an ally slid through the main street with his speed, and slaughtered the enemy Dragoons whose reaction was delayed.
《"——The third brigade is destroyed! All squads are to guard the main gate!"》
《"Shit! Because of the irregular all our defenses has collapsed! The damn attack Inquisition launched rushed at us all at once!"》
《"I've never seen Dragoons like that! New models?! They're too fast...!!"》
The fifth laboratory's mercenaries were completely crushed by Takeru's assault forces. The main gate was breached by Inquisition's Dragoon troops, and the route to the tower turned into a melee combat.
Even the mercenary troops who came after that were immediately destroyed when they entered the main street that was dominated by Inquisition.
As the Dragoons and infantry fought and the main street was filled with blood, screams, and dancing smoke, a white-haired man was comfortably walking together with three members of Dullahan.
Even though bullets and shells were flying around close enough for them to feel the wind pressure, they weren't scared at all. They were walking in a pace as if they were on a stroll in the park under the moonlight.
"This air, how nostalgic. Gun smoke and blood, the smell of burnt iron. Right right, dance, dance. Humans have to be like this."
Sougetsu wasn't surprised even when a bullet grazed his cheek, and continued to walk in a relaxed manner.
"Chairman, ain't this dangerous. Why don't'cha at least go to the back? I'll be killed by captain if something happens to you, Chairman."
A Dullahan who looked like a young boy made a serious request for Sougetsu, causing him to turn to look behind him.
"Don't ask something's stupid. What would happen if the general didn't go first? The people who stand on the top, should be standing in front at all times, it's fine as long as I don't die."
"...geez, that's not really convincing."
In the first place, this isn't the front lines. Is what the Dullahan whispered to himself.
Sougetsu exaggeratedly opened his arms wide, and spoke in secret. He rotated the musket he was holding in his hands once.
At the same time, the enemy Dragoons came from both sides of a crossroad.
"That's why young ones bring me so much trouble. Very well, this Chairman shall teach you what lies at the heart of Inquisition."
Sougetsu without even casting as much as a glance at the Dragoon close behind him, turned his gun.
"First——Inquisition doesn't choose means."
At the same time as he declared that, he pulled the trigger.
The bullet hit Dragoon head-on.
However, even after it hit, there was no sound of impact.
"Second——against witches, and those who cooperate with them, there's no mercy."
The trigger was pulled again, and the enemy was struck for the second time.
After taking a close look, it seemed like the bullet slipped through the Dragoon's armor.
"Third——If it's suspicious, punish it! Whether men or women, young or old, whether it was right or wrong, do it thoroughly!"
In the end, Sougetsu rotated the gun again, and while holding it firmly he shot forward.
A direct hit.
The Dragoon was unscathed. Six machines headed towards them, the sound of caterpillars filled the air as they rushed in and began a shooting spree.
The enemy hasn't lost their will. Even if its flesh and blood humans, they won't be caught off guard in this situation.
If there was one thing they let down, it was their guard
It would be the confidence in the anti-magic armor and not avoiding Sougetsu's bullets.
The moment they tried to follow up with their attack, suddenly, three out of six machines started running berserk and swung blades at their allies and opened rapid fire at them as well.
《"——What the hell are you bastards doing!"》
《"The hell are you fuckers——guwaaah!!"》
《"Stop, I beg you stop it——!!"》
The three Dragoons got wrecked by the allies' attacks.
Three remaining Dragoons that betrayed their allies now stopped running, and pointed muzzles at their own chests.
《"——The hammer of witches."》
《"——Judges the heretics."》
《"——Bringing a rain of death upon the suspects."》
Simultaneously, the three machines started shooting. The armors withstood the first few shots, however the bullets started breaching the insides before the magazine was exhausted. The three Dragoons fell down on their knees, with blood flowing out from the bullet holes.
The mercenaries supporting them from behind showed consternation.
That gun was weird. Even though it looked like a musket, and as such it should be unable to fire at such a fast rate, and yet Sougetsu shot three shots in a row.
No, are those things fired really bullets?
The enemy captain's machine scanned Sougetsu's gun after zooming in.
《The Malleus Maleficarum Prototype "Innocentius"》
That's what the musket Sougetsu held had carved on it.
The captain's unit trembled in fear.
Stepping towards the trembling enemy, Sougetsu aimed the musket's muzzle at them.
As if wrapped in the darkness, with white hair, a grin like that of a cheshire cat on his face, glowing like a moon.
His appearance looked as if he was a grim reaper on a hunt for souls...
"Today, because of a talk I had with a certain female fox, I'm in a really bad mood."
"Heretic gentlemen, I will allow you to choose. For you guys who are not witches, what kind of judgment is your favorite?"
His lips curled up revealing his sharp teeth that seemed like a crescent moon.
"A lenient sentence? Be burned at stake? Or maybe chopped to pieces?"
In response to Sougetsu's words, the gun was filled with magical flint and the hammer automatically rose up.
Together with it, his Cheshire cat grin reached its peak.
"Now, grant them their wishes——Innocentius."
And the evilest Relic Eater, the original witch hunter Innocentius laughed fiercely.
Takeru was stunned seeing the street occupied by friendly Dragoons.
Why did Inquisition intervene in this place?
As he wondered about that,
《"Don't space out! Behind you!"》
He heard Ouka's voice being transmitted again.
After he turned around in a hurry, he saw an enemy Dragoon holding a blade above him.
Takeru immediately readied himself to fight back, but before he could, something that looked like a stake pierced through the Dragoon.
An attack? From where?
Just as he thought that, *tap*, along with a light sound Ouka fell right beside him.
"That was dangerous. Kusanagi, are you alright?"
Takeru's looked at her with both a serious and questioning look on his face, Ouka proudly put a hand on her hip and grimaced.
"That's my line. Why didn't you respond to us? We've been calling out for you this entire time."
"Sorry, the intercom broke."
"...seriously. I thought it was like that so I used Relic Eater resonance."
She said that and threw Takeru a spare intercom.
Takeru caught the intercom and then started telling Ouka everything that happened to him and Ikaruga.
"...so it's like that after all. It's more or less the same as what Saionji said."
About what he said of Ikaruga exchanging them for Lost Matrix, she seemed to intuitively know it already.
The next transmission that came through the intercom was from Usagi.
《"Kusanagi... you're alright? That's really good."》
With a voice that seemed a bit relieved Takeru asked where was she.
《"I'm on the outer wall. I'll safeguard you guys as a sniper from here. I don't know if I'll be useful but, even I..."》
"I'm counting on you, Usagi."
When he said that, she gasped and lively responded with a yes.
"Oh right, what about Mari?"
"She's useless so we left her together with the Chairman. She can't use magic so she has no fighting force. There is no use for her."
Hmph, she snorted and looked away.
Even though she said it like that, probably she didn't want to involve Mari when she couldn't use her magic.
"We need to hurry. If Inquisition knows that Suginami was involved in experiments on elves, she will most likely be arrested. Before that, I want to hear the truth from her.'
"Leave the full story for later. First, we need to rescue Suginami..."
He didn't know where did they learn it from , but Ouka and the others seemed to know that Suginami was a "Designs Child".
Ouka said she won't arrest Suginami until she knows the truth, and will first ascertain the truth.
If it was at the time when she first enlisted in the platoon, she would have captured Ikaruga without asking any questions.
"...why are you looking at me like that."
Ouka gave Takeru a questioning look.
Takeru looked away with a slightly happy smile on his face.
"...for some reason that expression annoys me. Stop that."
"I told you it's nothing."
Ootori's edges also seemed to have slightly dulled, while smiling secretly he shouldered his sword, turned around and pointed at the tower.
"Usagi, are you ready? We leave the support to you."
《"Y-yes, any time!"》
As expected, she was nervous like always, but she responded clearly.
"I'll cut the garrison. Ouka will intercept enemy from behind me, I leave the ones I miss to you."
"Leave it to me."
Ouka poised with two handguns, the Vlad in her hands and squinted.
Takeru also prepared for combat, breathed in deeply and stopped.
"——35th Test Platoon, sortie!"
Together with that declaration, Takeru started to run towards the tower with his comrade.
Fifth laboratory, the top floor of the tower, level 6 barrier walls.
In an open space covered with white walls, Ikaruga and Isuka looked at the incubator.
"Seems like the battle has started outside... seems like hard work."
On one of the monitors the incubator was equipped with, the image from outside was displayed. Multiple Dragoons were engaged in battle, and as far as it could be seen, Inquisition was the one who dominated the battlefield.
"How nostalgic, Ikaruga."
Isuka looked up at the incubator and asked.
"I don't feel any nostalgia from this."
Ikaruga shook her head writing it off as ridiculous.
Isuka expected that response, and didn't mention it anymore.
"I feel it. Those four years, when I look up at this guy. I still remember the hatred from back then."
"Four years, Ikaruga. I waited impatiently for this... if you didn't escape with Lost Matrix I would have been able to proceed further."
"Together with you."
Isuka who didn't possess any feelings of decency, stared at Ikaruga with face full of hatred.
Ikaruga as well, turned towards Isuka.
"Why did you betray me?"
"I didn't intend to betray you. I just wanted to go out."
Ikaruga made a bitter smile and looked at Isuka with sympathy.
"Thanks to that picture book, it became boring. I got tired of being only used to develop weapons for killing people."
"I thought there are a lot more interesting things outside. Things I don't know, interesting things I didn't experience yet... a lot of them."
"...did you find them?"
Isuka asked Ikaruga.
Ikaruga relaxed her face, and narrowed her eyes before she clearly said.
"Yeah. It was a world more shitty than I thought it would be... but I found one. Something very fun."
"Question. What was that?"
"Well, that's... it's hard to describe it, but if you really want to know."
Ikaruga scowled as if she was in front of a very difficult problem, then hit her hand and immediately raised her index finger.
"Youth, or something like that."
And the atmosphere froze.
"——Ridiculous. For something so silly, I have lost a lot of things."
Contrary to her speech, Isuka's face convulsed, she didn't move.
No, to be exact, she didn't move to the point only her cheek convulsed.
As "Designs Children" originally didn't have many emotions, and were dedicated to study, even so, they never restricted their facial expressions.
Ikaruga looked at Isuka's behavior suspiciously.
"You wouldn't know. What kind of treatment I have received because of you."
"After you left, I was subjected to re-education by the higher-ups. It wasn't just my body... even the way of thinking as an "Designs Child" has been forced on me."
"Thanks to that, I'm in this plight. My facial expressions were limited... and severe pain runs through my brain when I embrace an useless emotion."
As Isuka's cheek convulsed, she gently placed a hand on her forehead.
Re-education. It was education only in name, it was a kind of torture.
They caused her pain by executing a special brain treatment. They planted nanomachines in sites in charge of emotions, unbearable pain ran through her the moment she harbored inappropriate emotions. This so-called re-education was inhuman treatment.
Probably, Alchemist didn't want to let go of Isuka's excellence, and forced her into submission by re-educating her.
The uncomfortable feeling Ikaruga had for a while now, was caused by this.
"It's your fault, Ikaruga."
"...wait, this is weird. It was my fault that experiment failed. It wasn't your fault. Even though Alchemist is horrible, however they're reasonable, they wouldn't do something unnecessary like that. You were excellent... and you were obedient as well... so why re-education?"
It was as Ikaruga said, Alchemist only carried out re-education with those who tried to get out like Ikaruga.
A procedure that only people who awakened useless intense emotions and ego was performed on.
Ikaruga looked at the state of Isuka who was peeking out from behind her fingers, and noticed.
"You... you didn't..."
For a moment, Isuka staggered and put her hand on the incubator, and she took out something from the pocket of her red lab coat.
"——It was your fault!"
Isuka threw the item she took out to Ikaruga.
It was, a beaten up old book.
It was from the time she was still in the lab, the book Ikaruga read, and learned morality from.
Isuka covered her face with her hand, and her body shook.
"If you... if you didn't pick up something like this... I...!!"
Ikaruga sighed with guilt and compassion.
She made a mistake when it came to Isuka.
Thinking that she would remain a "Designs Child" she was back then.
But it was wrong. She picked up the book Ikaruga left behind.
Because of that her ego sprouted, her feelings awakened, and longing for outside world was born.
When the higher-ups noticed that.
Originally she would have been killed, but higher-ups didn't want to lose Isuka's talent, and subjected her to re-education.
Same to Ikaruga, if she didn't run away, she would have been subjected to the same treatment.
"If I didn't read that thing... If I didn't learn unnecessary emotions... I would have continued to live happily like back then...! I was satisfied just by aiming ahead with you...! Despite that... because of you... all of it..."
"Because you... you have... changed me...!"
Her expression didn't change, the feelings of hatred welled up, and severe pain ran through Isuka's head.
Definitely she couldn't suppress it in front of Ikaruga who was the main cause, they were unstoppable emotions. Sweat appeared on Isuka's body, and her breath became rough.
...it wasn't just Kanaria, I pushed Isuka down the abyss as well.
Ikaruga hung her head, and regret lodged itself in her chest.
Isuka looked at Ikaruga who was tormented by guilt, and the spasms on her face stopped.
"...however I don't care about that, I'm fine with it. I didn't succumb to those guys' oppression. I will leave this place in my own way. Just like you did..."
"If I succeed with restoration of the elves, Valhalla will release the equipment in my brain with magic and accept me. Finally, with this my hell will end. I will be released from this cage."
Isuka regained her original calmness, and extended both of her hands to Ikaruga.
"Now, give the Lost Matrix to me... I don't know what are you plotting, but it's already too late. Resistance is useless, the sentry guns are already aimed at you."
After looking, she found multiple automatic guns equipped on the edges of the space.
Ikaruga closed her eyes, and took out a small safe containing the Lost Matrix from the bag.
The same material as used in this space, it was something made out of a first class anti-magic material.
Ikaruga passed that to Isuka.
"The password is... kanaria."
That was, the one whom she made in exchange for her freedom, a name of an elf half breed.
"A sentiment. It was too late to embrace such a thing... it's a sin that can no longer be wiped off."
Ikaruga said that, and Isuka entered the password.
After an electronic sound, the sound of lock being released rang out.
Isuka put her hand inside the safe, and then——she spat out a sigh.
"............what are you intending, this is..."
Isuka convulsed while having a headache, she lightly tossed the safe aside, and it dropped down on the ground.
The safe that rolled on the ground was empty.
"You're hiding it even this late into the game. Tell me where have you hidden the Lost Matrix."
"So it's still in the academy?"
"If you're not going to say it. I can just extract the memory by dismantling your brain. In any case, you're going to be killed by my hands anyway."
Isuka took out something that seemed like a needle from the sleeve of her red lab coat.
The needle sticking out was separated, the way it was made reminded of a female insect's leg.
At the same time, the sentry guns deployed on the edge of the space turned there muzzle at Ikaruga.
Ikaruga closed her eyes unfazed.
"Lost Matrix... the cells of the elf, are here."
Hearing the truth being said indifferently, Isuka tilted her head.
Ikaruga narrowed her eyes as she looked at Isuka who didn't understand the meaning of her words.
"Hey, Isuka. Do you know why did I come back here?"
"As you can see, I have no idea."
"There are two reasons. First, is to prevent the restoration of the elves by destroying this place."
Hearing Ikaruga's words, Isuka who was worried, suddenly laughed while continuing to remain expressionless.
"Ahhahahahaha! After all this you're still going to take things away from me! You're so greedy! But this facility, but this space is covered with ultra-hard anti-magic material, the needles in the incubator, and the experimental facilities are the same. It was originally made in the case of having a successful restoration, measures to prevent the elf from running away, it can't be so destroyed normally."
Even with Isuka's provocation, Ikaruga wasn't shaken.
Isuka warned and glared at her.
"The other reason was to... take you away from this place."
Ikaruga said that while staring at Isuka.
Isuka wasn't sure herself what were those feelings that exploded in her, was it frustration, sadness, or anger, but she withstood the immeasurable pain.
"...this late...what are you...!"
"At that time, when I ran away from this place... the fact that I didn't take you with me, I regret that even now. If I took you away the restoration of elves would have surely derailed as well."
"......you...who the hell......"
"That's right. It might be greedy. But if you were on this side, you would understand."
"Even without the Lost Matrix, as long as you are out there, the experiment would continue."
It was her opinion as a scientist, as a researcher, and as an inquisitor.
With such a reason, even Isuka would be convinced. It was indeed reasonable. She could understand that not doing that before would cause her to regret it, she could understand.
"But that's not all."
Ikaruga added more to it.
Not as a researcher, but as a human, a person.
"When I was here, just like your place was together with me, my place was to be together with you. And I ran away leaving it, it's definitely the worst. Even now, I regret it."
"So I, once again——"
"Don't fuck with meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!"
She clenched her fist, and roared into the heavens because of the pain.
"I..! I don't need you anymore! You're my enemy! Now I'm going to break out to the world as an alchemist of Valhalla! As far as I'm concerned the outside world can eat shit! It's because of the outside world I ended up like this! I will, for the sake of saving myself, destroy the world! I don't need you to save me!"
She had a red, hollow face.
It was too late, no matter what she says, Isuka's hatred won't disappear. Ikaruga couldn't wash it away.
"...I see. A shame."
Ikaruga told that to Isuka who resented her, and put a hand on her chest.
"I, I will not allow you to take away the place I belong to. If you destroy the world, the place I belong to will perish as well. If you don't come with me, you are my enemy."
"...the place...you belong to?"
"That's right. There is one in that school, a gathering of clumsy people. That's currently the place I belong to. It's very, very precious, and a more interesting place than anywhere else."
"...in that case——just like you did with mine, I will destroy that place of yours!!"
The moment Isuka shook her arm, a sentry gun fired a bullet which pierced through Ikaruga's thigh.
Ikaruga staggered slightly, and she raised her leg up without letting out a scream.
*clank*, a sound rang out as she thrust the high-heels into the floor.
The blood, stained the pure white.
Even so, Ikaruga kept standing.
Disorderly bangs that looked like silk ran down her cheeks, and black eyes peeped from behind.
"Now! If you still have any more sense of guilt, hand it over! There's no other way you can atone for it!!"
"...you have knotholes for eyes. Can't you see? For a while now, the elven cells were in front of you."
"...?! What are you talking about?"
"Just as I said. Aren't they in front of you? You can't see? ...see."
Ikaruga reached out to her chest again.
She placed her finger on the center, in part of the valley, and said.
"The cells of an elf——are right here."
While touching her chest with her fingertips, she licked her bewitching lips.
Isuka, immediately after raising a questioning voice, understood the meaning of Ikaruga's words.
Looking closely, her breasts... the central portion of it was of a different color.
Ikaruga's skin was horribly white, on the other hand, the color of the skin there was brown.
The skin there, as if it was transplanted in or eroded, merged with Ikaruga's own.
"...as a scientist... you probably know about "Philosopher's Stone", right."
Isuka stepped back in awe.
As for Ikaruga, she closed on Isuka with open arms.
"What ancient alchemists tried to create in the past, the culmination of the magic and science. Minerals, organisms, a ridiculous idea to redesign an object from the very foundation and to create something completely different out if it, the research was tried several times, still, it was just an unreachable pipe dream none were able to create."
As Ikaruga walked while extending her arm, an abnormality occurred.
*biribiri*, suddenly her wavy black hair released electricity.
"What if it was realized by using modern science...?"
"Oh, Isuka... you are disqualified as a scientist."
The brown skin on Ikaruga's chest resonated with her heartbeat.
"——From the moment impossible left your mouth, the road "ahead" closed for you."
That moment, when it seemed like the brown skin was wriggling, it expanded as if attacking Ikaruga's entire body.
The pure white skin turned brown, the eye color was inverted, whites turned black, and black pupils turned white. Beautiful black hair, turned into stunning silver hair. And Ikaruga's small ears, extended and became so visible they were obvious.
That appearance, truly——was just like the weapons that plunged humanity into despair once, the dark elves themselves.
Isuka, in response to Ikaruga's appearance, took a step back in awe.
"I-impossible...! Based on elven cells, using "Philosopher's Stone" to rewrite your genes?!"
"That's how it is. It's more efficient than trying to control the elves. There's no need to bother with something so annoying."
"Rather doing something like that, I turned myself into an elf."
Ikaruga said so, and her mouth distorted
Impossible. Isuka tried to deny Ikaruga's words many times in her head.
It was just like Ikaruga said, a theme anyone dreamed of, scientists and researchers. It was true that there were many alchemists who repeated fruitless research in pursuit of it.
However, if it there was a proposal to attempt at making it in modern times, everyone would laugh at it.
It was just SF. Just a pipe dream. Everyone believe it to be so.
And Ikaruga has done such a thing——
"—...——......ha, hahaha, ahahahahaha."
Isuka looked at Ikaruga and cast a gaze full of awe while hiding her face behind her fingers.
"You——you are crazy! No matter how much you struggle you are a Suginami! You're insane! It's not a concept that can be understood by an ordinary human!"
"You are the same as back then! You tried to mingle with normal people, it was being unreasonable right from the start!"
Isuka pointed at Ikaruga, and showered her with praises as a model mad scientist.
Ikaruga, had a slightly sad expression on her face.
"That may be so. Perhaps I have no right to live an ordinary life."
But you know, Ikaruga made a slight smile as she added that.
"I found a normal place that would accept someone like me. That's why——"
Ikaruga sharply narrowed her eyes.
That moment, under her feet, a white magical circle appeared.
"——I absolutely won't let it be destroyed. If you want to destroy it, I'll destroy you before that happens."
Magic overflowed from Ikaruga's body.
Elves use magic as easily as they breathe.
That saying wasn't a lie. The amount of magic generated by elves, was approximately 200 times the maximum value a witch classified as S-rank risk possessed. It was a top class magic among the fantastical organisms.
Elves had no properties.
It could be adapted to any ancient property, the strongest was the "Lack" of property.
"I'm not interested in magic. I'm not interested in studying operative procedures either, I don't know how to use advanced magic. As expected after refraining from adapting my brain to elves, using magic as easily as I were to breathe is impossible."
"...what... do you intend?!"
"That's why, I have developed my original magic."
As she laughed, her teeth resembled a crescent moon.
【"Constructing a process——formula based on required material magic substitute, the manifested target is "Sky", "Magnetism" fixing the property with magical barrier, assuming harmful radiation "Seal" permanently sealed the property——collapsing cooperative procedure execution——6"demolish→2"menace+e*+Ve+0.78FmeV——"】
After high-speed chanting with a voice that seemed like it was fast forwarded, Ikaruga held it in both of her hands, and made a gesture as if she was scooping water.
That moment, in Ikaruga's hands, a mysterious brilliant light appeared.
It was fierce and intimidating, and caused Isuka to feel cosmic fear.
"Made an antimatter."
With a devilish smile, Ikaruga brought the light in her hands to Isuka and asked her,
"Magic is amazing. The saying that it can be used for anything isn't just for show. With a non-standard magical capacity, even something like this can be made."
"——......!! Stop it! If I come into contact with such a substance——"
"What are you saying. Wasn't Isuka the one who said it can't be destroyed normally. A weapon of mass destruction like a nuke would destroy it? You love these things don't you, Isuka."
Acting like its nothing, Ikaruga said while flickering the matter generated by magic.
Isuka was covered with cold sweat, and headed towards the incubator that was made to restore the elves.
"—...! Do you know how hard was it for me to build this facility?! Even so, you want to take me out of here?! Or do you want to confine me here?!"
Revealing impatience, Isuka tried to block Ikaruga's magic somehow.
"Wrong. I will destroy this place, take you and return to the place I belong to."
"I decided to take you by force. What you think, and what do you want to do doesn't matter. I'll take you. I won't commit the same mistake again."
Straight on, Ikaruga stabbed Isuka with her determination.
"I will destroy this rotten place."
"I will save you."
"No... It's too late... why."
Isuka faced down, and clenched her fist.
She closed her lips tightly, and gritted her teeth to withstand.
But there, it was no longer the "Designs Child" Suginami Isuka.
"Stop this...already...my head...hurts."
"It's alright. Such a thing, I'll remove it."
"...even though you're the culprit... even though you ran away."
"...even though... you left..."
"...even though you took away... the place I belong to...."
Even though Ikaruga took a form of a variant, she gently smiled.
"That's why I——I'll be the place you belong to again."
That was Ikaruga's wish.
It wasn't redemption nor mercy.
It was Ikaruga's selfish wish, a honest conclusion.
Isuka shook her head trying to withstand the pain, and slowly looked up.
Twitching and distorted, but Isuka had a very human expression, it was there.
She absolutely couldn't admit it. The fact that she wanted to go out together, it wouldn't come out of her mouth.
Even so, because of a wave of emotions that couldn't be suppressed, tears flowed out of her eyes.
She no longer had any energy to shake her head.
Don't look at me with such a gentle face.
If this goes on, I will nod.
Her body will surrender.
Like a young child begging its mother with tears in its eyes, it was a timid and faint voice.
"——AaaAAAAAAaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAaauu I can no longer bear it! It's impossible to watch in silence any longer! Isuka-saaan! Why did you hide such a wonderful passion!"
All of a sudden.
A distorted voice sounded in the pure white space. It was a harbinger of tragedy.
The moment Ikaruga and Isuka raised their faces, a black swamp appeared on the ceiling, and flapping black clothes that looked like devil's,
A dull, tinged with moisture sound echoed.
The despair that was falling from the ceiling, swung down a karate chop tinged with magic from Isuka's left shoulder to her chest.
Immediately after she raised a painful voice, blood overflowed from the wound.
But that blood wasn't spilled on the floor, but was sucked into Haunted's hands.
It seemed like he sucked something out.
Isuka's body lost its color in no time, and cracked.
Ikaruga stared dumbfounded with eyes wide open, she could only stare as Isuka's light was stolen.
"Yahoo! It was an inspiring sisterly affection! Isuka-san was a splendid person after all! That devastatingly despairing look was very lovely!"
The despair that controlled Isuka from the shadows, Haunted, pulled his hand out of her with a refreshing smile.
Isuka's body slowly fell down to the ground.
Stretched her hand hoping she might be able to catch her, Ikaruga who pulverized her,
Raised a war cry in rage for the first time in her life, kicked the earth and sprinted.
And aimed the swelling antimatter that appeared in her hands at Haunted, and shot it.
And spoke name of the magic.
The moment antimatter contacted the barrier deployed by Haunted.
——An explosion beyond anyone's imagination struck the facility.
The laboratory made for the sake of restoring elves, turned into a vortex of destruction.
Rampant destruction swallowed many devices, and made them literally disappear. The walls made out of first-class anti-magic material, weiss crystal, attempted to resist the destruction of Catastrophe, but it gradually started turning bright.
And, the experimental field for the restoration of the elves on the top flower of the tower broke down, it was blown away and scattered by the blast.
Nanomachines (ナノマシン) - Written as (賢者の石) meaning "Philosopher's Stone". I use both names depending on the context.
Catastrophe (カタストロフイ) - Written as (対消滅) which means pair annihilation of a particle and an anti-particle.