On the highway, the battle of two Dullahans against three Heroes has finally come to an end.
The convoy cars Hayato and the others were protecting were the main enclosure that had Kusanagi Kiseki within. At the moment, all convoy cars that acted as dummies were reported to have been attacked by Heroes.
After shooting the Magical Dragoons' heads off with Caligula, Hayato looked at Kyouya with a cool expression.
Kyouya, supported his body with Nero and kicked the Hero's wreckage provokingly after defeating it.
He seemed to have reasonably struggled with it, the armor on his right shoulder was blown off and his shoulder was bleeding.
"...what happened, your arm's regeneration is being slow."
"Or is it not being healed at all?"
"I've told you to shaddup...!"
As Kyouya tried to intimidate him with bravado, Hayato snorted.
"You boasted of being able to deal with three of them, and now your in this state. Don't show yourself so beat up."
Despite clicking his tongue, Kyouya didn't respond and remained silent.
Hayato put an intercom into his ear and sent a report to his subordinates.
"This is Kurogane, we have removed all obstacles. Enemy forces have surpassed our expectations by far. All members, what's the situation on your side?"
There weren't many replies. Most of EXE members seemed still be in combat and a few that were injured.
Only one out of three transport aircrafts was sunk. Although it seemed like Oonogi Kanata earned time by struggling, but she had currently slammed into the ground and could not move until she recovered from the damage taken.
The enemies were Heroes. During the attack on the school a few months earlier, there was data on it after it was repulsed by Kusanagi Takeru, but the truth was that none of the EXE members had any combat experience against them. Information that there was mass production of Magical Dragoons came, but there was no documentation left in the Alchemist. Fighting in a condition where they didn't know its strong or weak points, it was understandable to struggle.
For Valhalla to send this much force was unusual. If the existence of Kusanagi Kiseki was that important for them, it might turn into a bottleneck for the war to start. Moreover, on Inquisition's side they had another deterrent force in Twilight-Type.
Kusanagi Kiseki's existence cannot be left in enemy hands at all cost, if the balance of their forces is lost, some forces would defect to Valhalla's side and the war would be inevitable.
"...plan change. The enclosure and escort are the top priority. We will be going to head to the destination in advance, those who have finished eradicating the enemy at hand are to catch up and join us."
Hayato conveyed a change of plan to his subordinates and went back to the convoy vehicles.
However, he stopped and turned around on his heel.
He looked behind, facing the opposite direction of where were the convoy vehicles traveling to. Kyouya also followed his gaze.
In the distance, far ahead on the road——stood a figure that looked like a ghost.
Wearing an out-of-season kimono, with long hair reminiscent of a kabuki play. With both eyes firmly closed which indicated he was blind and horizontal scar running through his eyes. He was hitting the ground with a slender cane he held in one hand to ascertain the ground.
The man put a pipe in his mouth and started walking in their direction unsteadily.
"...hoooh, so it's here after all. It gives off a different sound from the other ones... as expected of my greatness."
With a strong tone of voice the man muttered to himself.
Hayato's instinct was tingling and warning him.
Intimidation could be felt just by having him nearby. It felt as if he was in a cave with everlasting darkness, he felt fear as if he was seeing an illusion of a non-existent monster staring at him.
That man, was a living being of a different quality.
"I'm the Valhalla's executive, Orochi. Nice to meet ya, Dullahan brats."
"What, naming oneself is a courtesy of an adult——"
Hayato didn't speak, instead he slowly released a blow from Caligula.
The magic bullet that had the power of a tank closed onto the man.
However, on the verge of hitting the man the bullet momentarily released a spark and was blown away in a different direction. The bullet which changed the trajectory hit the building and penetrated it well.
Then he shoot once again in rapid succession. The result was the same, trajectory changed on the verge of hitting the man.
...before he realized, the man was holding a cane in both of his hands.
"...a sword cane."
"Hohou, a greeting ain't that. Two shots before saying anything. Ain't that a rude thing to do against someone with disability for a handicap... well, I understand yer not a man of words, yeah."
Yeah yeah, he nodded as he continued. The man called Orochi started to walk comfortably in his direction.
After hearing 'handicap' Hayato snorted, wanting to laugh. It was ridiculous to hear 'handicap' when the enemy had such precise defense. His unseeing pupils seemed to be more like something that gave him advantage. Hayato perceived that the Caligula's bullets were parried in an instant by the man with his slender sword cane.
He raised his voice speaking to Kyouya.
"You take the escort target and go ahead to the destination."
"That's far beyond your league."
While still looking at the enemy, Hayato issued a command gravely.
Kyouya looked grumpy, but when he moved his line of sight at Hayato who was staring at the enemy, he clicked his tongue and obediently headed towards the convoy car.
Hayato called Kyouya's name while facing his back to him.
"Don't lose control of yourself. In this world immortal monsters exist."
"Fulfill your duty, that's enough."
Saying that, he warned Kyouya. Kyouya stopped moving for a moment, then he boarded the vehicle without saying anything.
He grasped the handle and pressed the accelerator with abandon.
When the convoy vehicle left, Hayato and Orochi confronted each other.
"You fine with that? I'm super strong you know? Ya might have guts to go against me alone, but I've already seen through that Relic Eater of yours, there's no way you can stand against the greatness of my sword with that, you would need at least two Relic Eater users to be my opponent okay?"
With calm and composed appearance, Orochi laughed, raising his hands in a 'good grief' gesture.
In meantime, Hayato took out a single-action rotary handgun from the holster on his left hip in silence, he pulled it out while making a gunspin.
On the barrel there was an inscription saying "The Malleus MaleficarumII “Maximilien”".
"I admit, you are strong. Therefore, I will end it quickly."
Along with that declaration, he aimed the two handguns he gripped in each hand at Orochi.
Unlike Ouka's Vlad which was originally a pair, Hayato's Relic Eaters were two separate existences. Orochi's relaxed smile stiffened and sweat started flowing down his cheek.
"A h-hybrid?! Isn't that kinda unfair, even against me?!"
"Summis desiderantes affectibus——"
"Gahh dammit, I got the short end of the stick! Ain't this kind of thing more like Diluted's opponent!"
The impatient man, and Hayato who activated double Witch Hunter Form.
As not to allow Hayato clad himself in armor any more than that, Orochi attacked him in frustration.
On an empty highway, Kyouya was driving the convoy vehicle.
Uninterrupted by the wind that entered through the window, Kyouya laughed. Currently, Valhalla and Inquisition were scrambling over a single creature.
A fantastical organism that had top priority for extermination, "Hyakki Yakou".
Also known as Kusanagi Kiseki. An endlessly evolving life form that released a mysterious substance of an undefined "demon" ancient property. The only existence embodying entire chaos in this world. If it were to be left untreated and went rampant, this incarnation of bloodshed would toy with and devour all the people.
Such a fairy tail-like existence was currently being carried in the vehicle driven by Kyouya.
He was carrying a weapon that could destroy the world.
How unrealistic it was. How absurd. How——ridiculous.
Kyouya released the handle and stepped on brakes. The vehicle tilted sideways and the tire slipped while smoking. As a recoil, piece of the convoy vehicles wheel flew away, it was nearly overturned but it has noisily rebuilt its posture.
He put his forehead to the handle, and his wide-opened eyes glared.
"No matter how I think 'bout this... ain't it weird... isn't Inquisition protecting a heretic putting a cart before the horse...?"
Kyouya jumped down from the driver's seat and opened the hatch of the convoy vehicles by using Witch Hunter Form.
"Do you duties seriously, that's what you said right? Captain."
What appeared in front of his eyes was a huge coffin.
He inserted the identification card and input emergency security code, unlocking it.
At the same time as the door's locks were disengaged, white steam overflowed from inside. The door opened automatically, and Kiseki's figure restrained by belt restraints appeared from the inside.
She was sleeping. Sleeping while not seeing any dreams. No matter how heinous monster she was, she slept after being administered by sleeping drugs. He started thinking whether she was really an immortal monster or not.
"How about we check it... whether it's really immortal or not...!"
He pressed the gun's muzzle that was merged with his arm against Kiseki's chest and made an insane smile.
Kyouya didn't tolerate magic. He didn't tolerate witches. He didn't tolerate fantastic organisms. He didn't allow any kinds of heresy.
If concept of magic didn't exist, Kyouya would have lost this many things. No matter what people said, 15th test platoon was the only place he belonged to. For Kyouya, his comrades were something he would give his everything for.
For Kyouya, Yoshimizu Akira——his childhood friend, was his only salvation.
He was raised by his parents who were scum, his environment was full of scum, and he himself grew up to be scum, it was Akira who made him take the correct path. His comrades were all small-time folks similar to him, without any special abilities, their performance was very ordinary, if anything only their pride was high.
And yet, they still joined hands and did their best. As to be acknowledged by ordinary people, they worked hard together. Although they quarreled a lot, they never did anything underhanded.
Everyone followed a small-time captain like him.
He was happy, he wanted to protect those guys.
And despite saying that, although he intended to do so,
A heretic stole all of it———!
"It's your fault... you stole everything from me...!"
It wouldn't leave his head. His chest was pierced and he fell on the ground not knowing what happened, when he looked up faintly conscious... Akira's figure shattered... whether he was awake or asleep it didn't disappear from his head. He couldn't stretch his hand out. He couldn't even roar in anger.
While making an insane chagrin, Kyouya covered his face with his left hand, the blood vessels inside his body were pulsing.
"If something like you didn't exist...!"
He couldn't do anything. That's why Kyouya was roaring now. Even though he knew it's too late, he still roared. One day, this howl of his will turn into a song of revenge, that was his wish.
Kyouya laughed angry and insane.
Kiseki who had a gun's muzzle pressed against her chest woke up faintly.
It wasn't the coma drugs that wore off. Hyakki Yakou woke up without fail whenever her life was in danger.
Seeing Kyouya in front and pressing his gun's muzzle against her, Kiseki's face stretched out in fear.
It was an expression of someone not understanding anything, a scared one.
Kyouya looked at that appearance of hers, and laughed fiercely.
"Good night, monster...!"
——Once again inviting the demon to enter world of dreams, the cannon's roar was incredibly violent.
"——Lapis! Can't you raise the speed any more than that!?"
《"Any more than this would be too reckless. There will be no magic power left to use in battle."》
"I don't care! It's fine just send me flying!"
Takeru was traveling from a building to a building by using Lapis who transformed into Kusarigama and pulling himself with it like a spider. Magic particles overflowed from the armor and strengthened his leaps.
It was no time to be bothered with appearances. The city was being noisy and people were running for their lives towards the shelter entrances.
The city was crowded with people.
It was as if the city itself was frightened by something and bound by impatience.
《"Straight ahead——120 meters away."》
Takeru hooked the kusarigama on the last building and jumped over the building by pulling it with abandon. The scenery has opened in front of him, and highway has entered his field of vision.
He his line of sight ran through the road looking for the convoy vehicles.
——There it is!
After following a trail of tires that broke off because of sudden braking, he found the convoy vehicle which stopped in its tracks.
Takeru turned the booster off and vigorously closed onto the convoy vehicle. A mechanical sound resounded as he crushed asphalt by his landing.
The surroundings were silent, there was nobody else near the convoy vehicle.
There was no evidence of an enemy attack, it didn't seem likely that the accident was caused by that.
However, the Inquisitor that was supposed to escort it nor the driver could be found.
《"There is a reaction coming from the car."》
While being embraced by a touch of uncertainty, Takeru manually opened the hatch of the convoy vehicle.
The inside was dim, it took him a few seconds for his eyes to get used to it.
It seemed like the Iron Maiden was already opened.
Takeru approached it fearfully.
He called out. At the same time, a sound of something wet came from under his feet.
He lowered his line of sight. Under his foot. Under his foot, there was a pool of blood. Starting from the place Takeru stepped into, it stirred.
Takeru looked up. His face was expressionless and stiff, he raised his head.
There, was something that was Kiseki.
His beloved sister was certainly there. Both her hands and feet were restrained in cross, she was wrapped in a copious amount of belts and chains, an exaggerated device was attached to hear head, and——there was a gaping hole in her chest, despite having a hole in her chest, it was certainly his little sister.
Through the empty hole the other side could be seen. Her limbs and head were connected only by skin.
Shedding blood, without stopping, seeing her life bleeding out Takeru has——
"——It can't be..."
He refused to accept it.
"Accept the reality."
A voice came from behind. Takeru didn't look back. He looked directly at Kiseki, and didn't turn around.
Kyouya held up the hatch with his right hand and chuckled while looking at Takeru.
"This was originally your everything, right?"
"If you did that at the very beginning, it would have all turned out better. No one would have died five years ago, and she wouldn't have had to kill anyone. She would die without making anyone unhappy."
"It's your fault that it turned out like this you know? It's because you protected her that I had to do it in your stead."
"Be grateful to me, Onii-chan."
Momentarily, from the convoy vehicle two demons jumped out with a momentum like a cannonball.
Takeru was grasping Kyouya's head, below him, Kyouya was holding Takeru's neck.
While crushing the highway's asphalt, Takeru crushed Kyouya by injecting magic into his entire body. Allowing himself to reveal his anger for the first time, Takeru roared.
"It's your turn next! Kusanagiiii!"
Towards the head of Takeru who tried to crush him, Kyouya aimed the muzzle of his right hand.
Takeru leaped away from Kyouya the moment trigger was pulled.
Although the cannon's roar sounded beside his ear, the magical buckshot hasn't grazed him.
After rotating in the air, Takeru landed like a leopard. After immediately kicking off the ground, he rushed to Kyouya again.
The moment it was commanded, Kyouya's right hand which formed a gun let out a clunky sound.
The shotgun fired. From in front of Takeru, his left and right side, pieces of magic power have assaulted him.
Undaunted, Takeru twisted his body at low attitude during leap and plunged into the middle of buckshot's slugs. There was a small distance between multiple slugs. If shot from a distance like that, the buckshot naturally diffuses and scatters over a wide range. Takeru used the gap before it scattered to avoid.
However, it didn't end with a single shot. Two shots, three shots. Same shotgun fire continued to be released in front of him.
Getting hit inevitable, and so Takeru gave up on avoiding.
He received a slug in his shoulder and belly which caused his body to sway. His armor was peeled off, but even as he was being swung around, Takeru arrived in front of Kyouya with his sword. With an opponent using a shotgun, there was no better way to fight other than this. Of all the firearms, it had the worst compatibility with Soumatou.
Kyouya sank down and raised his gun barrel, when he was about to let out his fourth shot, Takeru's blade has finally arrived at him.
When his gun barrel released a shot, green particles splashed into the sky.
Immediately closing the distance, Takeru swung his sword down.
The nodachi has clashed with the huge gun. An azure armored knight and the dark green demon once again locked against each other.
Takeru faced towards Kyouya who had his eyes stained red and shouted while barring his fangs.
"Do you even understand what you did, Kyouya!"
"Hhahahaha it's just as you saw it! I've slaughtered your little sisterrr!!"
Kyouya laughed, it was as if he couldn't help but have fun during this fight.
"You seee! For a long time now I didn't like you! Despite being despised by people, you continued to laugh like an idiot! I've always knew it's just a disguise! You've always had something seething deep in your belly but wouldn't fucking spit it outttt... I knew you'll expose your real nature someday! I can finally see it, Kusanagi Takeru!"
"I don't care about what you think about me...! But Kiseki...! What has Kiseki done to you! Kiseki wasn't the one you had to take revenge against was she?!"
"That has nothing to do with it! I just despise all the heretics living in this world! I'll massacre all of them, that's all!"
The two Relic Eaters repelled each other, bringing destruction to the surrounding substances by releasing magic power all around. When it came to amount of magic released by Relic Eater's, Kyouya's Nero released an overwhelmingly higher amount.
Kyouya's eyes were bloodshot, blood vessels were visible on his face and even armor have pulsated.
This fighting spirit wasn't just thanks to his Witch Hunter Form. Much less, it was a reason for him to be able to follow Takeru's Soumatou.
It was some kind of body strengthening magic, it was abnormal no matter how he looked at it.
《"KYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That's right my master! You just have to despise everything! I'll grant everything to you... let's fulfill your revenge together! Bam bam bam bam bam bam bam let's shoot, let's continue until it's all dyed white! Nero will grant it all, all of it to you!"》
A shrill voice echoed in his head. Nero, using Yoshimizu Akira's voice mocked Kyouya.
Takeru understood everything.
"It's you... you're the one who made Kyouya like that!"
《"That's what Master desired okay? Nero is just a machine granting his desires! My job is to instigate, fuel, rouse his heroism endlessly! His revenge is my reward after all!"》
The Relic Eater "Nero" used the desire for revenge in exchange for power. In order to receive passion from its contractor, as not to let that revenge be depleted it kept instigating them.
It reproduced the voice of his dear comrades, it reproduced the grief and chagrin of his dying comrades, it mimicked the appearance of his childhood friend who was always beside him.
And those who were lost, like a ghost of those people, Nero continued to whisper into his ears.
Come on, stand up. And have your revenge. It won't be tolerated like this. It's disappointing. Hey, captain—...my Kyouya. Bet all you have and take revenge for me.
"...this isn't Yoshimizu! Yoshimizu wouldn't... your comrades wouldn't want something like this!"
"Don't talk about my comrades you fucker!"
Kyouya pushed back Takeru's sword with his gun barrel.
It looked like Kyouya far above him when it came to power after all.
"Don't misunderstand. I know well that this thing isn't Akira...! I accepted it despite knowing that!"
"Neither this guy nor Chairman are using mee! ——I am the one using theem!"
Kyouya deflected Takeru's sword and aimed the muzzle at his waist.
On the verge of the shot being released, Takeru jumped up and to the right.
*zrshh*——The shotgun scrapped his toe. Leaving the highway, he vigorously tread with his feet on the building right beside.
Right before his fall began——Takeru ran on the wall.
"Long barrel——Frag Shot!"
Kyouya instructed the Nero, and his right hand gun deformed loudly taking shape a long cylindrical barrel and shoot.
It wasn't slugs——it was a grenade.
《"Host, please continue running as you are."》
Hearing a warning from Lapis who judged it to be dangerous, Takeru continued to run on the wall.
The speed of the bullet Kyouya released wasn't great, however——the moment it hit the building, it caused a magical explosion similar to that of napalm. It wasn't just one shot, Kyouya predicted locations Takeru was running to on the wall and landed them accurately.
Even being fueled by the blasts, Takeru ran on the building. The walls were smashed, glass was scattered; the green blasts charred both Takeru's armor and skin.
Before Takeru reached the end of the building, he was swallowed by the rubble and flames.
"Hha! I'll aim for where you're going to be dropping down...!"
While aiming at the middle point of the building from which a cloud of smoke raised, Kyouya pulled the lever on his right arm once again.
After a moment of loading, Kyouya pressed down his right hand with his left one.
And waited. Clad in the green flames and smoke, Takeru's figure was falling from the building in tatters.
He appeared, but not dropping down, but leaping towards Kyouya.
Takeru tore up explosion, cut apart the flames. The azure armored knight jumped straight at Kyouya while holding an enormous greatsword.
Surprised Kyouya raised his gaze higher, and tried to take aim at Takeru and shoot.
Two shots. A magic bullet about a size of a human head approached Takeru while spinning violently.
The one astonished was Kyouya. The two bullets released by him were torn apart on the verge of reaching Takeru. Despite the fact they were magic bullets of ultra-high density, seeing them bisected surprised Kyouya.
It was Takeru's maximum speed. Soumatou's limit. While in mid-air, with intention to sacrifice all the muscles in his arm he swung the great sword to prevent the bullets from reaching.
The region near Takeru's right eye has lost its functionality because of the brain abuse, but there was no time to be bothered about that.
《"FM Booster, full throttle."》
Magic roared behind him as instructed by Lapis, and Takeru's figure closed on Kyouya all at once.
Kyouya couldn't move. He couldn't keep up with that speed of Takeru's.
Because he was using a long barrel, there was a moment of delay as he was aiming the muzzle at Takeru.
——I got you!
Takeru entered the range and already started to swing his sword.
I have no intention of killing him——but I'll at least take an arm!
"Kusanagi Double-Edged style——"
Possible to use only when Soumatou is fully unleashed, in order to trigger the fastest among all skills possessed by Takeru, he put everything in. For Kiseki's sake, he was obsessed by the thought of not losing.
However, Kyouya's obsession not to lose was no inferior to his.
Blood vessels were running through Kyouya's body and swelled up to the brink of rupturing.
It should be speed impossible for anyone to catch up on. It was world of sonic speed.
Inside of it, Kyouya's body moved.
Blood vessels on his temple burst, while blood moistened his eyeball, Kyouya's line of sight caught Takeru.
The long barrel disassembled in an instant from the root and was cut short. The muzzle aimed at Takeru's abdomen. Neither of them could stop. Both of them prepared themselves for the other's blow——
"——Yamata no Orochi!"
A shot was released.
In Takeru's abdomen a magic raised to its peak exploded.
Takeru put all the strength in his body into swinging the sword down.
That moment——the sword Takeru was holding disappeared.
Leaving him no time to act surprised, magic burst into Takeru's abdomen.
A roar sounded and Takeru's body was thrown into the building once again by the shock in his abdomen.
His ribs were crushed and he vomited blood after having his internal organs pierced.
While remaining in the building, Takeru moaned in pain.
However, there was no damage he assumed there would be. With that much power, his lower body and head should have been disconnected.
《"I prioritized sustaining Host's life. I used the magic power the blade was constructed with and converted it into abdomen armor. I beg forgiveness."》
《"At that rate, Host would have been inevitably defeated."》
Lapis explained indifferently. Even if she didn't say it, he knew that. Nevertheless, he still couldn't forgive it. It was a fact that blood rushed to his head too much. If he were calm, he would have done it differently.
However, Kyouya hurt Kiseki——
"...it's no time to be doing this...! Lapis, how's Kiseki...?!"
《"Host, first give priority to Kirigaya Kyouya and Nero. Focus on the imminent threat."》
"...tch, even though there's no time...!"
《"Please do not worry. We have sustained severe damage——but the damage the opponent suffered was larger."》
For a moment, he didn't know what was she talking about. Takeru still hasn't delivered a single attack to Kyouya, so how the enemy could be wounded more severely?
Takeru checked on Kyouya's current status and couldn't believe what he saw.
He saw Kyouya's figure stumble while supporting the cannon on his right arm.
Kyouya was violently vomiting blood. Somehow, his entire body was bloody. All muscles and blood vessels in his body seemed to be ruptured.
As Takeru muttered, Lapis answered coldly.
《"Nero's magic power's property is 『Poison』. That Relic Eater's intrinsic magic is to remove magic from witch's body through usage of poison, it's very efficient. However, Host is not a witch, against me and Host it's meaningless. Therefore——"》
Lapis continued with slight despise Towards Kyouya in her words.
《"In order to fight with Host on equal terms, the contractor was poured the 『Poison』 property into him temporarily raising his reflexes and physical abilities."》
Certainly, the pain Kyouya was suffering was abnormal. His face was deathly pale, his eyes fully engorged, his breathing unstable. Even during battle, he was like a drug addict.
《"Even if converted into medicine, poison is still poison. If one continues to use it, it'll turn out as you can see. It cannot be compared with Host's skill, it's just a mere pretense."》
Takeru fell silent.
A pretense... certainly, it might have been so, but it was impossible for him to laugh at Kyouya's obsession.
The reason for that was because even now, Kyouya was standing. He just stood and glared at him, his lips formed a smile and once again the muzzle——once again, has been turned towards him.
The barrel changed shape into an enormous one. Nails appeared on Kyouya's heels and affixed him into the asphalt supporting him. The muzzle further separated into three and started to rotate round and round.
Standing there, was Kyouya's figure which looked as if it turned into a stationary battery.
"...not yet...it's not....over...!"
Takeru stood in spot, as if taking in some of Kyouya's spirit.
He could feel sympathy for him. He could understand him. He could relate to how he felt.
But he couldn't agree with Kyouya's thinking. Just because he was deprived of something important to him he despised all heresy, it was selfish.
Takeru denied Kyouya at full force.
"Lapis, let's finish this."
While Takeru remained there affixed to the wall Lapis made the blade appear, he held the handle and stabbed the sword's tip into the building's wall.
《"Yes. However, the amount of magic remaining is not too high."》
"For only once, can you create a huge sword?"
《"? If it's just that."》
"...match the timing. There's only one chance."
As if to look through Kyouya, Takeru squinted while remaining on the wall. Kyouya poured the leftover magic into the barrel.
Glittering dark green particles started overflowing and turned into something that could be truly called a mass of violence.
He aimed at Takeru, in order to blow his body into smithereens.
On the verge of the blow being released, Takeru cried out.
When he gave the order, the nodachi stabbed into the building turned huge and ruptured it. It's length was thirty meters. The blade entered the building and protruded from the other side.
Furthermore Takeru put all the strength he had into the huge sword stabbing in the building and——swung it.
The building that was originally nearly destroyed by Kyouya's magic grenades tilted. The large sword loudly took down the building's pillars, and finally, the huge building was bisected.
The building lost its support from inside,
And inevitably——it fell over on Kyouya.
One step away from starting the bombardment, Kyouya looked away from Takeru and aimed the muzzle above him.
Aiming for the ultra weight that attacked him, he released all the power he had in his body.
The three shells splendidly crushed the building's wreckage.
But even after turning into debris, it didn't disappear.
Without a way out, Kyouya was buried under the rubble as he was.
Takeru disabled the magic booster and slowly landed on the highway.
The road looked terrible, the place the building has fell down on has caved in.
Barely maintaining its form, it was likely to completely collapse at any moment.
"It's over huh. I need to hurry up and find Kiseki... Lapis, do you know the vehicle's current location?!"
Takeru asked Lapis in a hurry, it was then.
The wreckage of the building in front of him rose up with a strong momentum.
From beneath it, lifting rubble all covered in blood was Kyouya's figure.
His right hand was completely bent, his left hand was also battered, his muscle torn and blood vessels ruptured.
What was in front him was the very limit of tremendous tenacity. Kyouya threw the rubble beside him and stood opposite of Takeru.
"Kyouya...! Stop this already! At this rate you'll die!"
"Sha...ddup...! If I wasn't prepared to die... I wouldn't be... able to do something like this...!"
The bent gun barrel was unreliable lifted and turned towards Takeru.
However, magic hasn't accumulated and the barrel fell sloppily.
《"...this is weird. Even among Relic Eaters, Nero's healing ability should be one of the highest. Aside from consumption of poison, he shouldn't have suffered that much injuries."》
It was unusual for Lapis to be wondering about something like that, another magic resonance rang out.
《"Caaa〜ausee, Maste〜er... I've told you haven't I. You should have abandoned that replica and devote the healing performance to yourself."》
Nero's voice sounded as if provoking Kyouya.
That probably meant Kyouya didn't have a healing performance at all right from the beginning.
"Shut up... you shitty gun! It's your fault for not putting up a decent fight so stop acting so full of yourself!"
《"Since it's the contract's condition I'm drinking too you know? Right from the beginning there was no room to spare for someone else though? In the first place, it's too late to prolong her life, it's a waste. Pointless, or rather, do you really think you can achieve your revenge with just this much?"》
"Don't ya get it when I tell you to shut up!?"
His figure yelling to his own gun made it seem like he was desperately trying to hide something.
Kyouya already had wounds all over his body. Takeru determined he was no longer a threat and approached him.
Although Kyouya he tried to swing his arm again, he just staggered.
Nero said 'that replica'.
And when she said 'prolong her life' Takeru opened his eyes widely, thinking 'it can't be'.
"...you, it can't be that you're using your healing ability on Yoshimizu..."
With revenge as a payment for Nero, Kyouya presented Yoshimizu Akira's life extension as condition for the contract, he made all heresy indiscriminately as subject of his revenge... in order to continue prolonging her life, he continued to feed it...
Seeing Takeru's facial expression, Kyouya clenched his teeth strongly enough for his back teeth to crack.
"Shut up... don't just make guesses by yourself... I'm just sacrificing myself for revenge, that's all!"
"...stop this already. If you continue contracting that Relic Eater any longer, your body will not hold out... I can understand wanting to save Yoshimizu. But——"
"———, shut the fuck upppppppppp!"
Kyouya shook his left arm in anger, Takeru immediately put a guard up, however.
From the side, a bullet which looked like a red stake pierced through Kyouya's arm.
Momentarily, with a sound of breaking glass Kyouya's Witch Hunter Form was released.
As if losing the body support, he stepped back.
Takeru was familiar with that stake. There was no way he would forget. Just recently, he also received that blow.
After passing through the target object, it forces the Relic Eater to release.
It's user could be only one person.
"Sorry, I'm late."
As Takeru called her name, Ouka landed on top of the rubble next to him.
"Saionji is on top of the building and has this guy on her aim... it's all right now."
Ouka put a hand on Takeru's shoulder and immediately aimed Vlad's muzzle at Kyouya.
Kyouya, with his entire body covered in wounds laughed as if he had a room to spare.
"...ku...fuhahahaha... all of you... what a joke..."
He spat out a curse while bleeding from his mouth.
"You'll regret this... not killing her here... all mankind will be put at disadvantage... remember this, you puppets who don't know anything...!"
Mouthing something cryptic, Kyouya staggered backwards and fell down. The squashed guardrail was his destination, since the road was running above the city, there was nothing beyond the rail.
Kyouya leaned his waist against the guardrail and bent backwards grandly.
Takeru reached out to him in a hurry, but Kyouya refused his help and showed him middle finger.
"It ain't over... I will definitely kill you off...! Do your best and despair, Kusanagi...!"
He spat that out and fell down. After a few seconds, an empty sound of water splashing came from below.
"...there's a river below. Normally we would go save him first but... a Relic Eater contractor will survive."
While saying so, Ouka holstered Vlad. Something unbearable embraced Takeru's chest as he stared down at the location Kyouya fell to. If he was caught by the Relic Eater of revenge and yet still tried to fight to protect something, Takeru couldn't blame him.
Takeru thought that much and shook his head.
At the moment, there was something else that was the priority. He had to sort out his own problems.
"Let's hurry and confirm the little sister's safety. There's still a high possibility of combat against other EXE members. Let's use this opportunity to take her and go back to school."
"...? What is it?"
Seeing Takeru not reacting, she called out to him louder. Takeru strongly clenched his fist.
"Ootori... you shouldn't come. I'll do something about Kiseki."
"Don't be stupid. Two is better than one. That's what you said haven't you."
"...even if you refuse, I'll still come after you."
With a dissatisfied look, Ouka puffed her chest proudly.
Takeru strongly gripped Lapis' handle and turned a sharp gaze towards Ouka.
"............fine. But prepare yourself. Kiseki is no longer the Kiseki you know of."
"For now, I don't want you putting hand on her. Leave it to me."
Saying just that, Takeru moved over the rubble and started walking towards the convoy vehicle Kiseki was contained inside of.
Ouka too, followed him while embracing uncertainty.
On top of a building's roof, Usagi was looking down through a scope and monitoring the area around Takeru and Ouka, waiting for the next move.
《"Usagi, can you hear me?"》
"I hear you. There's no enemy figures in the surroundings... what happened? The road is all battered. Is this... all your doing Kusanagi...?"
《"...before that, listen well."》
She started to listen carefully to his serious voice.
《"You're absolutely not to come over here."》
"Why is that?"
《"No matter what. I want you to tell the same to Suginami and Mari. Take everyone... and run away from here."》
"Run away you say..."
《"I want you to listen to it, it's captain's order. Please, run away as far as possible."》
Being compelled like that, Usagi was troubled not knowing how to react. Certainly, Takeru held the captain's authority, and it was something important.
When Usagi was wondering whether she should comply with it. At that time, in the corner of her vision something jumped in.
She looked through the scope and involuntarily raised a voice.
On the right edge of the highway. The convoy vehicle has slanted because of the building's collapse and squashed in an ugly manner——from within, it seemed like something strange was overflowing. It looked as if a red, deep red flower was blooming——
"Kusanagi...? Please respond! Kusanagi!"
She tried communicating with Kusanagi by screaming into the intercom, but he already switched his own off.
Mari who heard from Usagi about Takeru's order to run away jumped down from the passenger seat of the car operated by Ikaruga.
"Nikaido, where are you going."
Ikaruga called out to her from behind.
"It's obvious right! To where Takeru is!"
Mari just turned her neck around and yelled towards Ikaruga. In order to stop her, Ikaruga leaned out of the window.
"We can't do anything. We should do as Kusanagi said and get away from here."
"...I misjudged you Suginami! Despite all you said, I always thought you were the one thinking about Takeru the most!"
"That's not what I'm saying. We should leave everything to here, I——"
She spoke up until then, but Mari ignored it and started running.
Ikaruga spat out a sigh.
"Wait. Nikaido, how are you going to pass through the highway to get there?"
"Where, you ask. Of course the shortest possible route right. Every minute counts."
"That's fine, but on foot?"
"In the first place, the shortest route there should be through highway, but you can't just fly there now. Unless you get there from the inlet, you won't get to Kusanagi you know?"
"So, are you going to go on foot until you reach the inlet? I won't stop you any more, how about you start going there?"
The entrance to highway was five kilometers away.
Mari turned around to look behind her, then she came back silence and sat down on the car's passenger seat.
With a sullen expression, she looked away outside the window and supported her chin with a hand.
"...〜〜〜!! Hurry up and spit it outtt!"
Her face bright red, Mari hit the dashboard.
Looking reluctant, Ikaruga started the engine.
"...even if we head there now, we'll only become a burden to him. He's worried about us, and he doesn't want to lose sight of what he should do..."
While staring far in the distance, Ikaruga put her foot on the accelerator.
Mari looked at her sideways, folded her arms and snorted.
"We won't become a burden to him. As if we would."
Just a little surprised, Ikaruga looked at Mari.
"Since we've been told to go back by Takeru, it means he's definitely shouldering some burden... just as he has done it with ours."
"I definitely won't him let shoulder anything else. This time we will be the ones shouldering Takeru's burden. He... made it so that I could properly choose."
Mari frowned and closed her lips tightly.
Ikaruga's hair swayed, and she stared into Mari's eyes who was beside her displaying her bravado.
"...scales have dropped from my eyes, I wonder if that's what it is? I thought Nikaido is more of a heroine type, but unexpectedly, are you the hero-type?"
"...what's that, what do you mean?"
"I wonder if it's Kusanagi's influence... how troubling."
The moment Mari saw Ikaruga slightly dissatisfied, she opened her eyes widely.
For just a moment, Ikaruga smiled. But when she blinked, Ikaruga's sleepy expression was already back on her face.
"Don't complain if you die. What's going to happen ahead of now, even I do not know."
"You think I would be shaken by what lies ahead? Let me tell you this, what you guys think about me, I think of everyone as——"
"Yes yes, comrades comrades. You too are a member of 35th Test Platoon〜 congrats miss dropout〜."
"Somehow what you're saying really pisses me off?!"
Ignoring Mari's outrage, Ikaruga stepped on the accelerator.
The two headed out, in order to help their comrade.
Kusanagi Kiseki——Hyakki Yakou's activation happened when there was a risk of her dying.
Her condition was similar to Overflow Complex. Just like magic overflowing from a damaged Phantom Instrument, Kiseki's power too was going wild if left alone.
When she was young, it was not much of a threat. Takeru's father used a box-shaped hut made of anti-magic material, he shouldered a large amount of debt so that he could repair it and confine her.
But that too, has reached the limit as Kiseki continued to grow.
Likewise, Inquisition's facility was unable to suppress her any longer.
Once it goes out of control, the demon body will continue granting Kiseki's wishes.
Kiseki hates the world. It hurts her, confines her, from the bottom of her heart she hates the world that refuses to acknowledge her existence.
And that is why, the demon power grants her this wish.
Standing on the ground, Takeru witnessed that sight.
He wasn't surprised. Although he wasn't familiar with it, he was prepared for it. Takeru knew right from the beginning that a simple hole in her body is not enough to kill her.
The surface around her has been eroded. Kiseki's body was said to be a crystallization of demon body cells, an aggregation of a special magic property. Once the demon power is unleashed, it will not stop until it devours everything.
The earth, the air, until she overruns all the living beings, it will not end.
The highway's surface, guardrails, even telephone poles, they have all become a part of Kiseki. The convoy vehicle was squashed from the inside, ruptured starting with the container and dyed red in response to the erosion just like a peony.
In the center, there was Kiseki.
"Ootori, watch it from here."
"...ngh, no can do. I won't let you go alone."
As expected, even Ouka was horrified by the sight in front of her.
It was obvious. Seeing such a foreign presence, it was her first time.
"It's all right. I alone, am safe. I'll speak with Kiseki... if Kiseki's power runs out of control any more than this, I'll somehow hold down the demon part of her."
"Don't touch the red substance. Just by touching it... you will be incorporated in it. If you judge it to be impossible... run away as far as possible."
"It's an order."
He said so, and without looking at Ouka, Takeru proceeded.
The flower stood up as if trying to hide the center that was in the middle of convoy vehicle, in there stood Kiseki who distorted her face in pain of being restrained. The restraint on her head was leaking out flashes of lightning.
A Gleipnir made with the technology brought together and dedicated for Kiseki. Although wearing it barely suppressed the mutation of her body, it being destroyed was only a matter of time.
Takeru wore the complete Witch Hunter Form, and closed onto Kiseki at brisk pace.
"Kiseki... it's Nii-chan..."
As not to stimulate her, he put a hand on Kiseki's cheek.
Under Kiseki's feet, the demon's crystallization spread out like a skirt, a foreign red light shoot out from the horn extending from her forehead. It's shape was the same as five years ago.
After going this far, it was no longer impossible to put her into coma by using drugs.
If there was any possibility, it would be having Takeru speak with her.
The demon inside of Kiseki only showed signs of stability when Takeru was beside her, that's what Sougetsu said before.
Although it was impossible to hold it down completely... but if he touched her like this, there was a chance... that he could appease Kiseki's power.
Kiseki's face distorted in pain, and she opened her eyes wide.
Her eyes stained with red and looked like rubies saw Takeru.
His little sister cried weakly seeing her brother.
"I'm sorry... I can't hold it any more."
"...no such thing. I came, it's all right now."
Responding to Takeru's words, Kiseki shook her head.
"I can tell... even if Onii-chan is beside me... I can no longer stop."
"...Kiseki... look into my eyes, here, this way."
He held her cheeks with both his hands and faced her towards him.
While shedding tears, Takeru made a desperate smile.
"I will definitely protect you. That's why... you no longer need to despise anything."
"I will definitely make a place for you to stay in this world. So that there will be no need for oyu to hate, I will change this world."
He had no basis for that. But the current Takeru was determined to change the world in order to stop Kiseki.
Takeru has been always thinking of what to do to save Kiseki. He met a lot of people, learned, obtained a human heart... for Kiseki, he continued to proceed in order to become the best older brother there is.
It might have been slow, but Takeru found comrades.
Ones carrying the same burden, he found comrades.
That why surely, there was nothing impossible.
I will definitely save you. He held out those feelings and displayed them to Kiseki.
However, Kiseki downcast her eyes and shed tears of pain.
"...stop...don't show...it to Onii-chan..."
Gasping in pain, she muttered.
She had no intention of saying it towards Takeru, he didn't notice that she was directing it to her power.
Takeru's feet, was surrounded crystallization of the demons before he realized.
"Stoop... d-don't show him such... filthy memory...!"
The variant swelled up along with Kiseki's lament and wrapped around Takeru.
Unable to resist, Takeru closed his eyes inside of the variant.
However, it was strange.
The variant which wrapped around him had no intention to kill him. No intention of eroding him.
From the portion that touched him, something has been passed onto him. At first there was sadness, then there was an unbearable pain. And in the end——a memory has flowed into him.
It was a memory of the past. A memory from the box. Kiseki's memory. In front of her, there was the harsh appearance of her father.
Her father swung a sword along with an apology, the memory of... Kiseki being beheaded.
The power resuscitated Kiseki's body in an instant and pounced on her father.
『"Kusanagi Double-Edged style, Heavenly Evil Spirit"』
Her father used the swordsmanship passed down the generations of Kusanagi household and slaughtered the power of demons.
Despite being scratched up, despite being close to dying, without shedding a single tear, time and time again. Those fights continued until morning, and they repeated until the day Kiseki killed her father.
A blackout. The memory which flowed next was that of her being in Inquisition's facilities.
Her body was bound, her eyes were wandering without shedding a single tear.
——Where is this place...? I'm scaredd.
Kiseki's feelings flowed. Watching her from the ceiling was a device akin to a surveillance camera. What was different from camera, was the fact that it had a something which seemed like a barrel attached to it.
——No! I don't want to die!
At the same time as she screamed, bullet was fired from the device.
A tremendous pain assaulted her, her consciousness has been interrupted.
Blackout. When she woke up, a wall was approaching her from the front.
The wall approached her slowly.
Kiseki screamed in horror as it drew near, and it slowly crushed her.
Blackout. When she woke up, from the sprinklers on the ceiling a rain of sulfuric acid poured down and dissolved her skin.
In the middle of pain which continued forever, Kiseki called her brother.
Blackout. When she woke up, flames wrapped around her body.
Blackout. When she woke up, the teeth of multiple saws chopped her body up.
Blackout. When she woke up, multiple tubes connected to her body drew out all the blood from her body.
Blackout. Blackout. Blackout.
Kiseki opened her eyes. In the deep darkness she couldn't feel anything, a single wish was conceived inside of her chest.
Ever since she's been continued to be killed by her father, she always held it in the corner of her heart.
But she could no longer stand it. Kiseki let her wish be heard.
——A world like this should just perish.
Before long, Kiseki's power began to try fulfilling her wish.
However, every time she sincerely hoped for that, her brother's face appeared in her head.
His smile and his words appeared in her head.
『"I will definitely protect you."』 『"I will definitely save you."』 『"I will definitely make it so that you'll be able to live normal life."』 『"I will definitely show how I change the world."』
Those words she heard many times, she believed in them. Believed and believed and believing, she continued to wait.
But her brother didn't come to save her. Once, she wished to be killed by her brother. However, when she was taken in by Inquisition, she hoped that they'll be able to hold her power down. The result was her being killed every day just like she was killed by her father, it was terrible. And thus, it led her to hold this wish.
——...kill me. I want to be killed by Onii-chan.
What lied ahead of her, was only death by the hand of her brother's.
In order to fulfill this wish of Kiseki's, the demon power flapped its wings and took her outside.
The red meat wrapping around Takeru's body moved away and his gaze started wandering in shock.
Kiseki's memories that flowed inside of him showed something unimaginable to Takeru. Was he qualified to cry out?
The answer was obvious. No. Not knowing can't be an excuse. This was something he should have known earlier.
He should have thought better about what it takes to hold down Kiseki's power. Her demon power was something similar to Overflow Complex, if it reached the limit, it started flooding out despite intention of the person herself. There was a need of allowing it leak outside on regular basis. Kiseki wouldn't release it by her own will.
Then what to do in that case?
Just grant her death.
It was the quickest way to draw out the demon power.
If I just thought about it a little... I would realize... and yet... I...
He despaired at himself for spending time not knowing anything.
What 'I'll continue visiting you' damn it. What 'I'll definitely protect you', damn it.
What family. What big brother. I'm not qualified to say such thing.
Letting her hear about his own school life, not knowing how was Kiseki suffering, he acted carefree...
He held his head, fell on his knees and screamed.
Kiseki who was bowing down looked up. Her tired face smiled weakly.
"See...Kiseki did her best...really really...did her best...?"
Towards Takeru who tortured himself and had whose eyes were flooded with tears, Kiseki said.
"That's why...it's enough already...right...?"
Hearing her wish, Takeru stopped wailing.
Even without her saying it, he understood her wish. Takeru looked up with his eyes wet from tears.
He reached out. Putting in all the atonement there was in him.
Putting in all the feelings he had of being unable to save her.
He reached out to Kiseki's cheek.
"Target acquired——Lævateinn, partial release."
Takeru's didn't have in his heart to hurt the surprise attacker coming from the sky.
Directly from above, the surprise attacker appeared while rotating and landed a blow to Takeru's head. After eating a hit to the head, Takeru's body was blown away and rammed into the debris fifty meters away on the highway.
The attacker was a girl wearing a full body suit and a helmet covering her face. After confirming where the blown-away Takeru landed she housed the huge double-handed sword in the sheath.
Ouka who was in daze hearing Takeru's scream rushed to repel the attacker.
She immediately turned the muzzle to the girl in body suit.
The girl too, held the handle of the sword on her back once again and made a posture to fight back.
"...another Relic Eater. Forgive me Orochi. There are signs of the capture target going berserk. In order to avoid prolonging combat, I'll pull out the Lævateinn again."
"What gibberish are saying...! Do you understand what did you just do?!"
Leaving everything to anger, Ouka placed a finger on the trigger. The girl tilted her neck.
"I do. You will die. And I will complete the mission."
"...prepare yourself, Valhalla!"
Ouka's murderous intent exploded, the battle was about to truly begin.
That moment, the variant whose movement has been suspended has stirred.
Both Ouka and the girl noticed the anomaly, and moved their line of sight to Kiseki.
Kiseki suddenly lost the happiness that was right in front of her and held her head stunned.
"O...Onii-chan? Where? Onii-chan?"
Shivering from cold and loneliness, Kiseki's teeth chattered.
"He died...Onii-chan has...left Kiseki...and died on his own..."
Convinced that her brother has died, Kiseki shook her head scattering tears.
Perceiving the danger, Ouka tried to speak to Kiseki.
She didn't make it in time, from inside of Kiseki——demons overflowed.
The Gleipnir on her head that was suppressing the power violently leaked out electricity, let out smoke and fractured.
Kusanagi Kiseki's power was completely released. The crystallization of demons overflowed and streamed on the highway like an explosive tsunami, spreading without stopping.
"——! I was too late!"
The girl in body suit leaped from the spot and took distance from Kiseki.
Ouka wanted to stop Kiseki somehow, but she immediately realized that her words won't reach her.
The girl's figure was no longer there. While biting her lips, Ouka too has disengaged herself from Kiseki.
Kiseki's screams continued.
The variant wriggled as she screamed, the multiple mouths raised the same scream.
Unending lamentation spread throughout the city along with the crystallization of demons.
The variant has plunged into the town. Those who aimed for shelters were swallowed by the red tsunami approaching from behind before they could even raise a scream.
Members of the Spriggan and Dragoons rushed urgently to intercept it, but it was in vain.
The variant tsunami approached mercilessly and there was no way to oppose it.
People, buildings, ground, all material has been swallowed.
As it crept, the city was becoming part of Kiseki.
Ouka who moved away from Kiseki dexterously jumped on top of the rubble to where Takeru was.
The variant flowed out momentarily and spread, it immediately eliminated the scaffolding.
Moreover, tentacles formed which tried multiple times to swallow Ouka.
Even when she intercepted it with Vlad, she could only kill one part of it.
A variant tried to stab her after taking a form of a needle, Ouka managed to avoid it in the very last moment.
She could see Takeru's figure. He was thrown into the rubble of a building's wall and fainted.
Of course, around him too, the variant has begun to flock.
Ouka concentrated and triggered Vlad's intrinsic magic in exchange for blood.
A crimson magical circle appeared under her feet, and Ouka shouted the magic name.
Aiming to the sky with the gun in her right hand, and aiming to the ground with the gun in her left, she fired.
Along with unique gunshot, huge piles poured down from the sky and grown vigorously from the ground. The variant surrounding Takeru and herself faded away, screaming.
It was only makeshift solution. Ouka used the opportunity and rushed over to Takeru.
"Kusanagi! You okay?!"
There was no reply. In his half-opened eyes, pupils couldn't be seen.
Blood was coming out of his head. To have been dealt this much damage despite being in Witch Hunt form, it must have been a considerably strong blow. Mistilteinn would perform treatment, but an injury to the head was time-consuming. As for brain damage, it was impossible for a Relic Eater to restore it.
Ouka admonished herself for not noticing the surprise attack, and hung Takeru's arm on her shoulders.
When she decided to withdraw and raised her face... she witnessed the despair.
The city... spreading in front of her was sight of entire city turning into red meat.
It was as if the entire groups of buildings were sinking into a swamp, they tilted and were buried in the red wriggling meat, cars, telephone poles, everything was eventually swallowed and deformed in the same way.
It seemed like she was looking at a nightmare.
As if to oppose the threat, she clenched her teeth and poised the Vlad with one hand.
Momentarily, the variant crawling on the ground jumped and attacked Ouka like a wave.
Ouka didn't give up. She tried to struggle until the end in order to protect Takeru.
A voice called her from behind.
A gunshot and a fierce sound of wind echoed. Five bullets fired from behind her blew away the variant which tried to swallow her and saved her in the nick of time.
After suddenly braking, a car stopped in front of Ouka.
From inside of the car parked in front of Ouka who tried to hold back the waves of variant came out Mari and Ikaruga, and Usagi who was been sniping from above came jumping down.
The three enclosed Takeru and Ouka to protect them.
"You guys——why did you come when you were told to run away!"
"Shaddup, because we were bored!"
Usagi said so not wanting to have a bothersome quarrel and shot the variant with an anti-material rifle.
"Telling us to run away and abandon you is unreasonable right?! Don't act so high and mighty when you're in a pinch!"
Mari put both of her hands on the ground and triggered magic.
A magical circle appeared enclosing around her comrades, it wrapped around all the members like a barrier film.
Ouka spat out a sigh with irritation and laid Takeru down on the ground.
And, holding the gun in the same was as her comrades she started to fire.
"...to think Suginami has come as well. I thought you were more composed."
"Don't just measure me by yourself. Even I am not that mature."
"But even if you come, you're useless aren't you."
"I was driving the car?"
"We're already being swallowed! We can't escape like this!"
"The road behind has already been swallowed... we can't escape with the car, it's a huge pinch."
Although she said it indifferently, Ikaruga downcast her eyes as she looked at the variant.
"...so this is the little sister's power. I've heard about it, but I didn't think it was this atrocious."
"So you heard about it from Kusanagi after all..."
"Oh, jealous at a time like this? Aren't you relaxed."
"Stop mocking. If there's something else to know, say it. Somehow, we need to stop that girl...!"
While shooting with Vlad, Ouka waited for Ikaruga's reply.
Ikaruga looked at the middle of variant, at wailing Kiseki's figure and shook her head.
"...to suppress it, we can only continue to kill that girl's overflowing and going out of control power until she snaps out of it. Only her main body is immortal, so the parts leaking out can be killed."
"...continue this? How long?"
"I don't know. Perhaps a few hours, maybe a few days... or maybe it will continue endlessly until the world perishes."
Without looking at Ouka who was at loss for words, Ikaruga closed her eyes.
"The device does react to it right... the substance spilling out gives off the same reaction as magic. Apparently, the things that are eroded by it's touch are being converted into the same substance."
"...in other words..."
"It increases as much as it erodes. Depleting it is difficult. If you want to temporarily deplete the content in that girl's body, then you need to kill it faster than it continues to erode."
The situation was hopeless.
"Fortunately, anti-magic material slows the progress of erosion, but it's only a matter of time. How long will the city's partition walls hold out... if they're breached, it could spread to entire world."
"Killing the person herself is impossible... as long as she doesn't wish for death from others, the power will continue to reject death. If there's anything that could possibly kill her..."
As Ikaruga spoke, Ouka moved her neck and looked at Takeru.
Mistilteinn has probably healed his wounds already, he just had his eyes closed as if sleeping.
"——ngh, let's destroy as much as possible! If EXE's reinforcements come it's still possible to do it!"
Trying to shake off the thought, she started rapid fire from Vlad towards the variant.
Usagi too, was shooting with her rifle. Mari devoted herself to defense.
All of them were aware that they were stuck in the current state.
The highway was being looked at by a figure standing on the roof of a building, far far away.
A man with shining white hair fluttering in the wind, Ootori Sougetsu had seen everything.
"...Kirigaya-kun did something really interesting. Even though he was told she was dangerous so many times, he still tried to kill her, he truly has a heart that indiscriminately looks for revenge on everyone. Well, I don't hate that."
While placing a hand on his chin, the man who could be called the ringleader behind it all looked at the street buried in the red meat.
Probably accompanying him, a figure approached from behind taking loud footsteps.
That person was a tall woman clothed in conflicting black lab coat.
Her cloudy gray hair shook, on her face she had a smile which could be called a lump of curiosity.
Hearing the footsteps Sougetsu sighed, and beckoned her to come over with his back turned.
"...it has unfolded just as you requested it. Alchemist's representative director, Suginami Suzaku-san."
Called over, the woman called Suzaku moved right beside Sougetsu at brisk pace all excited. Her belly hit the railing with a strong momentum and she leaned forward.
Her eyes were shining like that of a child, and Suzaku rejoiced at the sight of red meat swallowing the city.
"——Ahha♪ how nice, really nice! What's that, to think such a living being exists?! Wonderful!"
She seemed thrilled and started wiggling her body with a blush on her cheeks.
"That thing's nice! Chairman Ootori! Can that be replicated?!"
Sougetsu looked at her as if looking at a snob and shook his head unnaturally at the city's devastation.
"It's impossible. Even if the genes are collected and a replica is made, the characteristics won't dwell inside of it. Because it's a curse allegedly cast by ancient Onmyouji, it cannot be replicated by neither science nor alchemy."
"Is that is how it is? Whaat a shaame, it seems like it would be fun if there were a lot of those."
"We're suffering large amounts of damage on our side. Because you said 『I want to see Kusanagi Kiseki's power』, so I satisfied your curiosity at expanse of a single section. Concealing that fact is tough too."
"Ara ara, so it's a bet where you will have to take responsibility if you lose? Putting that green boy as part of the Hyakki Yakou's escort, acting all frantic... the one who it proposed was you."
Ufu, Suzaku twisted her waist and faced him with a cat-like expression.
Sougetsu showed no interest and snorted.
"In exchange for conceding the total control over Kusanagi Kiseki's research you will stop providing technology to Valhalla, immediately stop trading and become a company doing business exclusively with Inquisition. I'll have you keep your promise."
"Of course. This Suzaku will create, and create, and continue creating for your sake♪."
She hid one of her hands behind her waist and cutely saluted, annoyed by Sougetsu remaining expressionless she continued.
"We will cooperate with the clean up this time. If we use the latest weapons, we should be able to destroy the erosion if it's limited to just this section. We have already finished preparations so be at ease♪."
"...no, as for the clean up, it's possible that assistance won't be necessary."
"What does that mean?"
Once again looking curious, Suzaku leaned out and stuck out her face to him.
Sougetsu pushed Suzaku back, and raised up his long white hair.
"We'll see if it'll be carried out well... it's much faster than expected, but it's not bad considering the circumstances. The problem is which side it will roll over to afterwards."
"? What are you talking about?"
"About our ultimate weapon."
Sougetsu smiled and turned around to Suzaku.
"President, how about making another bet with me?"
This time, it was him who started the negotiations.
He lightly opened his eyes and smiled like a Cheshire cat. Suzaku knew well that Sougetsu is more dreadful than anything else when he makes that smile.
"Will Kusanagi Takeru kill his little sister, or not... let's bet on that."
The corners of his mouth distorted and overlapped with the crescent moon behind him, at the same time a power outage happened in the city.
Usagi and Ouka stood back to back and while following up one after another they showered the outside of the barrier with storm of projectiles.
"I have no more bullets! Ootori, please lend me a gun!"
"My hands are busy! Take it out of the holster!"
Just as she was told to, Usagi pulled out two pistols from the holsters on Ouka's waist, looked back immediately and started shooting.
Although their cooperation was perfect, on top of running out of bullets, the power of Vlad's stakes was clearly going down.
Ouka's breath turned rough and her complexion paled. She didn't have enough blood. Using intrinsic magic has been a considerable burden on her.
And on top of that,
Mari's defensive barrier gradually narrowed its range.
Because she's been restrained by Gleipnir, her inability to use everything was leading to catastrophe. Although she repeatedly built operative procedure in order to improve the efficiency of magic power's circulation as much as it was possible, the operative procedure was disturbed every time the variant tried to destroy the barrier. Those were not simple attacks, the variant had without doubt special effect. It was possible for it to erode even magic.
"No good... I can no longer maintain the barrier...! Takeru... please wake up...!"
Mari continued to appeal to Takeru.
To run away or do something, they needed Takeru's power. Although she vowed not to be a burden to him, having to rely on Takeru in the end made Mari feel worthless.
If this goes on, everyone will fall together.
"Come onn!! If not for this collar I could protect everyone alone...!"
Feeling like crying, yelled out in frustration.
The variant was approaching. Ouka and Usagi couldn't keep up with intercepting it. Some of the variants hardened and sharpened, again and again piercing through the barrier.
Every time the variant touched it, the barrier was peeled away.
She tried to persist somehow, but it was her limit.
The enemy broke through the barrier, thinking it's already over Mari tried to use attack magic in a suicide attack to protect her comrades.
Just before that, Ikaruga who has finished treating Takeru's injuries and put him down, has swallowed something that seemed like white ore.
"Conversion material input, assumed mutation shape, barrier. Forceful rewriting process complete——execute."
After chanting; reciting words at high speed, Ikaruga pounded into the ground with the palm of her hand.
The asphalt on the ground suddenly started undulating, it's color changed from black to white. Following that, it changed shape as to protect the comrades and prevented the variant's tentacles attack in the nick of time.
Not knowing what happened, the three people other than Ikaruga were astonished.
"What... is this?"
"...Weiss Crystal? M-magic? But, a magic changing asphalt into Weiss Crystal is..."
Usagi and Mari stared in daze at the clear white wall surrounding them.
Ouka knitted her eyebrows and looked at Ikaruga.
"...spare me the questions now please. When we're out of danger, I'll tell you everything."
After hearing Ikaruga promise that, Ouka swallowed the question she was about to ask.
Ikaruga has soundly hit the wall she herself has built.
"Just as you guessed, it's Weiss Crystal. It's the ore with the best anti-magical effect there is... but its strength is too imperfect. Since there are impurities mixed in, it cannot demonstrate the anti-magic effect of a real gemstone."
"............how long can it withstand this?"
"...even if I make a long-winded estimate, maybe five minutes... by then, we need to decide what to do."
As Ikaruga said that, everyone fell silent.
They looked down, and although they considered a solution, they didn't have bullets remaining to let them either fight or escape.
Takeru was unconscious. According to Ikaruga's diagnosis, his head has received quite a lot of damage and it was unknown when exactly will he wake up. Mistilteinn was still being held by Takeru but there was no reaction from it at all.
Ouka looked up at the sky and narrowed her eyes bitterly.
The situation, was hopeless. At this rate they would be all swallowed up by Kiseki, the reinforcements from EXE were also unlikely to come.
Possibly, they believe they would be wiped out if they were to be swallowed up by the variant.
In the distress like wide and distant seas Ouka stared at the gaping open space, and grit her back teeth.
There was only one way to break through in this situation.
For Takeru to... kill Kiseki.
For an older brother to kill his little sister. With that, everyone would be saved.
"............that's the only thing............"
With a hoarse voice, Ouka muttered towards the heavens.
What passed through her head, was the trauma from her past. Despite not wanting to kill, she was forced to kill... despair she didn't want to remember. Thinking of the moment she killed her little sister made her feel sense of emptiness strong enough to make her unable to breathe.
The warmth of her little sister reverberated through her hands which were wet with her little sister's blood.
The life she had been entrusted with by her father and mother had been robbed by her own hands, leaving only her behind.
The day her family was killed, was peaceful as any other. It was the same living room, they looked at the TV as usual, and they planned to go for a family picnic tomorrow. For the first time... they were supposed to go out together as family.
At that time, next to the corpses of her family, she saw an illusion of her family's gathering.
I want to be there, she reached out to the illusion, but the illusion has suddenly disappeared like smoke.
Only reality was left in front of her. The clean living room has turned into sea of blood and there were incredibly cold bodies of the ones she loved.
Even though she called her father and mother, their usual smiles wouldn't come back. Even though she called the name of her little sister, she didn't hear her voice calling her 'onee-chan' in response.
It was all over, the morning has descended, but no matter how long she waited the nightmare wouldn't pass.
——Can I let Takeru feel something like that?
——Can I use my comrades, and civilians lives as a reason to kill his beloved little sister?
——Can I do this to the benefactor who has saved me from the brink of despair?
"That's the only thing——I won't let happen!!!!"
Ouka bent her knees and kicked off the ground, she landed on the edge of the wall constructed by Ikaruga.
"Ootori?! What are you doing?!"
"You, what do you intend to do?!"
Mari and Usagi questioned her, and Ouka answered with her back turned to them.
"I will drive off as much of the variant as possible until the support arrives. If that happens, It'll all turn out well."
Hearing Ouka's words, Mari thought of those words as absurd and tried to stop her.
However, with the strength that remained in her, she thought of something and took a deep breath.
She called Mari.
"I leave those two, and Kusanagi to you."
To that request, Mari opened her eyes wide and was too disturbed to even reply.
Ouka quietly crossed the guns in front of her chest.
"...Vlad, can you hear me."
She called the product of magic she owned.
《"...what is it, my provisional Master."》
As always, a solemn voice responded her.
It was the exchange they repeated many times over. She only asked Vlad bare minimum of questions, and without accepting she only let him drink blood.
And that too, has ended today. Ouka looked up.
"——Contract with me."
She could hear her comrades take breath.
《"...ohh, is that fine?"》
"...I don't mind."
《"'Thou art contracting for more than revenge art thou not? Have you not said thou won't accept any more before meeting the perpetrator?"》
As if to provoke her, Vlad laughed. Ouka closed her eyes silently.
"It's all right already. I realized, that this is the time during which I should use this power."
"I have no intention of stopping to fight in order to dispel the chagrin and despair of my family."
Ouka's blue eyes were harboring a flame and opened wide.
"However——if those living together with me are in a crisis, I will bet everything and fight! I am willing to accept you!"
Releasing the cross, Ouka greatly stretched out both of her hands.
Vlad listened to Ouka's words, and instead of laughing, responded with a serious voice.
《"If you want to change the pledge from a silly sideshow like revenge, I thought of drinking everything until I leave thou dry but... it did sound quite noble. It has resounded within me well."》
Vlad spoke with an exalted tone.
《"Very well, it's a contract! I shalt give thee everything. As consideration, entertain me well."》
Vlad's barrels started shining, and a crimson magical circle appeared under Ouka's feet.
"Summis desiderantes affectibus——"
The words of power she spoke countless times shook the air surrounding her with a much greater force.
That moment, particles of blood-red magic enveloped Ouka's body.
Her sunset-colored hair was bristled. Blood overflowed, sewing her armor.
The existence called Ootori Ouka has been completed and stood there.
Worthy of the name, the crimson demon of domination.
Vlad was no longer in the shape of a gun. It was fused directly into her arms, her upper arms had huge piles created from magic growing from it. On top of the armor her body was clad in, there was a crimson cloak.
That appearance, was reminiscent of the legendary king of vampires.
Sweeping the cloak away, Ouka crossed her arms.
"I'll protect them. My comrades, Kusanagi, and his little sister too...!"
The piles protruding from her upper arm vigorously slid to the vicinity of her elbow and released steam.
In the middle of the steam's howl, Ouka's bright blue eyes were directed towards the variant.