Awaiting Taiga's return to the real world was his little sister who rolled around groaning, he wasn't sure if it couldn't be classified as cute——probably. He guessed.
"...just when did this place turn into demon world?"
If it had to be explained why he said that, it was because the room's appearance changed completely from how it was in the morning.
The number of windows floating in mid-air could already be counted in hundreds. Holograms were deployed in every direction, on every wall, and even on the ceiling.
Reality and cyber intermingled, it looked quite chaotic.
"Fuyuki〜, are you alright—?"
He hesitated to get closer to the motionless Fuyuki, and called out to her. He wa s afraid of compromising and causing holograms to disappear in response to his movement. She was lying down on the floor fatigued and her glossy black hair was scattered on it, the pretty girl feeling she usually had was ruined because of that.
When he placed a hand on her forehead but it was considerably hot, but she seemed alright. It wasn't a cold, it was something like intelligence heat, caused by overworking her brain.
"...seriously, so reckless."
He sighed, then he crouched and picked up Fuyuki's body.
After that, he carried her to bedroom surprised about how small and light she was, and laid her down on the huge bed. Fuyuki curled up like a cat.
She was in a state where she would need to keep her eyes open with small sticks. But she somehow shook off sleepiness and rubbed her eyes.
"My head......it's so heavy..."
"Keep lying down like you are now, I'll bring you something to drink."
Taiga was familiar with how it felt to use the brain to its limit. Although he wanted to let her go sleep as soon as possible, it couldn't be helped this time.
He passed her a cup of coffee he brewed as a cure for drowsiness, he also added milk and gum syrup to it. Although it should still be quite bitter, bitterness should increase the effect and wake her up.
"Uuhh... it's been a while since I did my best like this..."
Fuyuki continued to process vast amounts of information in her head ever since yesterday, except for a moment she took to eat and take a shower. Also, she was thinking at an exceptionally fast rate.
While Taiga's weapon was physical speed, Fuyuki's weapon was the speed she was thinking at.
A capability of processing many things in parallel, ability to deal with multiple events that was far beyond a normal person's, and an intuition, a sixth sense when it came to cyber-related things.
On par with Taiga's 『Eye』 in reality, she had a 『Eye』 for the Elysion."
It wasn't some kind of supernatural power, it was just using the human brain to its very limits.
But it didn't change the fact that it was quite absurd.
If her brain was used for a long time, she could collapse and wake up only three day after.
"Good job, Fuyuki. Thanks."
Taiga knew just how tired she was, so he stroked her head.
Funya〜, she enjoyed the feeling with a charming expression on her face for a moment, and shortly after she corrected her posture. The look in her eyes became serious.
"...well then, let's get down to the main issue."
Taiga retracted his hand and looked at her, Fuyuki operated the terminal, opening a window that projected a crystal.
The mysterious crystal changed its colour depending on his viewing angle as it floated in front of Taiga's eyes, and a small window emerged from its body.
《"Submit permission to install program 《 Synchro Infinity 》 sent from Tenryo Fuyuki. 『 YES 』 or 『 NO 』?"》
"Let me say this first. This program will definitely be of help to Brother during his fight with the Reaper. It perfectly fixes the malfunctions with Brother's body."
Even though fatigue obscured her thinking as she spoke. Fuyuki had to tell that much, she formed words while forcing her own mind.
"The studies Little Sister was involved in while at Karasuba was 『Synchronization of virtual and real body』 and she helped to make this application. But because of the high risk research has been frozen. 《Synchro Infinity》 is without a doubt a dangerous program a researcher should never create."
"...dangerous, and more specifically?"
"Life-threatening level dangerous."
His little sister answered instantly as she stared right at him.
——It was not a domain he should step into with half-assed determination.
"When it comes to risk, it probably exceeds 《Jail》. One wrong move and you will become a cripple."
Fuyuki looked completely serious, and it seemed like she was not exaggerating.
"This program, 《Synchro Infinity》 is a high risk no return for a normal person, completely pointless for them to use. But Elysion specific mechanism works in a way that has a negative effect on Brother."
"Half of Elysion was made for entertainment purposes, factors that induce negative feelings have been eliminated as much as possible. They are either cut off or restricted, pain is a prime example."
"Well, no one would like to feel pain in a structure like 《Aries》 ."
You can get cut, crushed, burned, and so on. If those feelings were left unchanged people would not be able to stand pain.
"《Aries》 provides physical ability assistance according to rank, although it's a system original to the structure that helps you enjoy it, at the same time it tunes the virtual body making it deviate from original."
It wasn't reality, so they dropped what was unnecessary.
That's why it was impossible to tune a virtual body to be exactly same as a real one.
"In the first place, a normal person doesn't use their body's full performance, so a slight difference does not affect them... but it's different when it comes to Brother's physical ability that was trained to the limit, and when it comes to our 『Eyes』."
For someone who has reflexes and dynamic vision far beyond a normal person, extra processing is nothing but an obstruction. An error appears when the movement intended and actual movement of the body differ, expanding little by little and eventually ends up disconnecting them.
"So that's why I lost feeling in my arm."
"Yes. That's how it is, the effect this program has is simple. In order to disable the program that creates that difference, it will continue to hack you."
"Full explanation would take three hours, but I'll omit that. There are two main risks. One, the blocked pain is released and the damage dealt to the electronic body is transferred to you. If your arm is cut off, you will receive mental damage as if it really was cut off. If you receive a horrible amount of damage, your spirit might collapse."
Even though it has no effect on his real body if his virtual body is damaged, the pain itself will still damage his spirit.
A wound someone received in the past and the phantom pain unexpectedly appearing afterwards is a perfect example.
"Also the other one. Because it continues to hack so that it can trigger the effect, the burden on the brain is tremendous. Little Sister tried it but only withstood five minutes——that was as long as it went on until my brain started overheating. In Brother's and Little Sister's case, because of our 『Eyes』 the time limit is shorter than usual."
"Another thing that's restricting in various ways, huh."
Receiving attacks is bad on the time limit, and the time is further shortened if it goes through.
"...I'm sorry, Brother."
Fuyuki apologized and bowed her head.
"I tried to reduce the risk somehow, but in the end I couldn't do it. Having Brother fight while using such a flawed program, Little Sister is the worst. I am really sorry..."
Painfully aware of her own shortcoming, Fuyuki continued with her head bowed down.
If she was the one who used the defective crystal, it wouldn't matter because she would only risk herself.
However, this time the one who will be using the program was Taiga. The one risks and the one who is exposed to danger is the person was front of her.
That's why, she had to say it.
"...whether you accept it or not, I leave the decision to Brother. If you don't trust this program, and decide it's too risky——"
*click* ——he interrupted his little sister's speech by tapping 『 YES 』. Fuyuki was surprised, but Taiga didn't hesitate.
"I swore. That I would definitely save her. Life-threatening? I am here thanks to Rui, I won't hesitate with just this much."
If he was unable to save her, Tenryo Taiga wouldn't be able to ever forgive himself. If he broke his promise, he wouldn't be able to live anymore. It was no different from dying.
"Also, I believe in Fuyuki."
"...haa, geez, Brother is really hard to handle."
Fuyuki sighed, but she continued somewhat happily.
The crystal shattered turning into small particles and was sucked into Taiga's terminal.
《Install started. Three minutes left.》
That's what was displayed in the window, it switched into a status screen that displayed progress. They could only wait.
And, Fuyuki's body suddenly tilted. He wondered if it was because she has done everything she had to do. It looked like she could no longer fight back against fatigue, and it surged all at once. Her eyelids started to close.
Thanking his little sister for the hard work she has done, he gently pat her head.
"...leave the rest to me. I will definitely save Rui."
Calmed down by his words, her drowsiness increased as he pat her head——and Fuyuki smiled faintly before she entered the dream world.
"I believe in you. Brother."
Saying just that much, Fuyuki closed her eyes, and started to breathe sleepily a few seconds later. He covered her looking at her relieved expression, and left the bedroom.
He entered the dive room again, and contacted Haya through the terminal as he prepared to log in.
"I'm prepared on this side."
〈"Okay. Then please come to the school's structure at once. The place will be that classroom. I'm going to break the locks so you can come from the front."〉
All of his senses gradually switched over as he signalized the dive start.
After logging in safely, he confirmed the school's structure as his target and——he stepped into the compartment that was as deserted as in reality.
Come to think of it, the first time I met Iora was here.
At that time, on a whim he just turned on a hologram projector. She didn't appear properly back then and her figure only flashed for a moment.
...if that didn't happen, I wouldn't be acquainted with Haya now.
If he didn't meet Iora back then, he wondered what would be happening now——useless thoughts filled his head as he tried to escape from reality.
Maybe nothing would be happening now. Such a convenient illusion came to him, but it faded away soon after.
The privatized classroom has become a weird space where a lot of windows floated all over.
Haya was immersed in work while sitting on the sofa like usual, she still wore the suit he saw the other day.
Because she had the appearance of a Japanese-style beauty, it didn't fit her.
"A little longer and I'll be done. Just wait for a moment."
Haya continued to work while operating at dozens of windows at once, at an incredible pace without looking his way. The fact that she completely concentrated on her work was obvious.
He sat on an edge of the sofa as to not to get in the way. Taiga looked around daydreaming as he had nothing to do in particular. And, as he looked around he saw something that made him feel uncomfortable.
A lot of windows repeatedly appeared and disappeared——between them, he noticed that one didn't change. He leaned towards it curiously, for some reason it wasn't operated.
It was a picture. And on it, there were two girls.
Haya and... Iora? No, but why is she wearing Kiritou uniform?
It looked like Haya was younger, he wondered if it was taken one or two years ago. But it didn't matter. What he was curious about, was what they were wearing.
Haya aside, it was weird that Iora was wearing a uniform. Also the quality of Iora who was captured in this photo, felt like she wasn't a hologram. It was as if, she was a living human.
What did that mean——he wanted to look closer, but the photo suddenly disappeared.
"Peeping is not good."
Haya was staring at him. Apparently she finished her work, all the windows she used for development disappeared the same way.
"Did you finish?"
"We don't have time to test it, there's no choice but to check if during the battle. Theoretically it should delete Iora's 《Jail》 if she's damaged enough."
As opposed to blood-like crimson, the crystal she had was sky blue.
Though Taiga received it on reflex, it was sucked into his body the instant he touched the crystal. And with that, the installation was complete.
"I see. Then... next, is my job."
With that, everything was ready.
Taiga manipulated the inventory window of 《Aries》 and changed into a long coat, at the same time he checked if his nodachi showed up by his waist.
"...about the picture, don't you want to know?"
Haya asked cautiously as he was preparing for battle. After looking back at her, Taiga honestly answered.
"I won't say I'm not curious about it, but it seems that even if I asked, I wouldn't get an answer."
Just by looking at her, he could tell that she was depressed and in a bad state. He wasn't that insensitive to probe any further in that direction.
"You too are suffering because of something. I think you want to help Iora no matter what... that's enough for you to cooperate with us. So both of us have something we want from the other."
They are partners who had just met a few days earlier. There was no reason to trust each other.
"One of us uses the other. That's the relationship between us right now, right?'
He simplified it, no, he simplified it too much, even Haya was surprised by what he said.
"...that's surprising. Looking at you your relationship with your little sister and Saionji-san , I thought you easily trust people and pushing an idea on you would be piss easy. You're more of a realistic person than I thought you were."
"If it's to save Rui, I won't care about what you are really thinking."
In these words, Haya noticed a glimpse of a similar nature to hers.
Probably, in order to save Saionji Rui, this boy will act without hesitation. Just like her, who didn't care if she was to make the entire company into her enemy if it was to save Iora.
Both of them had similar thoughts and determination.
...why is she that attached to Iora, I think I can understand a little.
Part of the wall changed as Haya snapped her fingers, it changed into a shining white door. It was big enough for one person to pass through it, and he couldn't see what's inside.
"This place and 《Aries》 are temporarily connected. As soon as you go through, I'll disconnect it. You'll be able to contact me from the other side, when you're done, call me."
"Yeah, got it."
Taiga took a step towards the gate he couldn't see anything through. And he heard a voice from behind his back.
"...Taiga, it's an order. You must definitely rescue Iora. If all my effort goes to waste, I won't forgive you."
"I get it. It's not just yours, I also carry Fuyuki's share over here."
Taiga entered the transfer door, setting his foot into 《Aries》 once again.
"——I decided long time ago. That I won't lose ever again."
*rustle* ——He felt hard soil with his feet. Apparently it was daytime in 《Aries》, the sun overhead was shining fiercely.
Here and there on the plains, huge swords were stuck in it. Even though they fought with the Reaper in this place the previous day, it felt like it was a long time ago. The darkness was much more dense in this place before.
...the date, it was really fun.
It was the first time for him to spend his time like that with a girl of the same age. In between the memories of his brutal daily life, it was a memory that shined brightly.
Living together with his little sister, playing with a friend, everyone laughing together.
Such a normal, every day life was extremely precious, he understood that. That's why——
"...I won't forgive you bastard"
In the direction he looked to, was someone with long blood-red hair. The large sickle almost as long as her dress was lowered, an existence that looked like a girl.
He received no answer.
Dead——her eyes had no light in them, no intent, and her hair colour was also in harmony with that word. There, was a Grim Reaper in front of him.
〈"Virtual body confirmed."〉
Her head rotated to face his way, an inorganic cold sound was emitted.
That figure, that sound, they caused a tremendous anger to well up inside of him.
That thing robbed him of it.
The daily life he recovered after waiting for eight years, her bright and warm smile that reminded him of the sun.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
3, 2, 1... together with the countdown he roused all the cells in his body.
〈"Assessment of situation, experiment re——"〉
"——A thank you gift, for what happened when we first met!!!"
In an instant, he jumped right in front of the Reaper and dealt an explosively powerful blow to her with his left fist.
He ignored her unnecessary operation and stopped it with his fist, the Reaper barely reacted to it. As her shoulder was hit her delicate body was blown over twenty meters away.
If it was the real world, that blow would have crushed her shoulder bone.
Whether it was caused by 《Jail》, or whether it was Iora's original characteristic, the Reaper was more durable and the blow wasn't that effective. There wasn't a single scratch on her, not to mention it being fatal.
The Reaper tried to stand up, but was bound at a furious speed,
"And one more blow!!!"
And with his tremendous speed he drilled his fist into her body, and slammed her into the ground.
Her back was nailed to the ground, and a loud impact echoed, in the middle of which was the Reaper. But, even with that she barely sustained any damage.
〈"Resistance confirmed. Rendering target harmless recommended."〉
Taiga intuitively realized that it didn't work, and he half-turned his body while clicking his tongue, and looked for the sickle's strike. While trying to cut her neck at the same time, he blocked the sickle.
That's as far as the first move can get me.
After receiving the strike with his sword, he moved his left leg and kicked the Reaper's right leg from the flank.
Because her posture was not too good a light hit was enough. As she was standing up, Taiga held his nodachi vigilant and kicked off the ground.
*CLANG*!! Both of them jumped at the same time at their prey, and a high pitched metallic sound rang out. It was just slightly, but the nodachi had less power behind it and was pushed back, the cutting edge of the sickle grazed Taiga's clothes and hit the ground.
——He knew. That as he is right now he couldn't win against Reaper.
Rather than to say he was weaker, it was that he couldn't use his greatest strength.
There was no significant difference between their speed, which was his greatest weapon. If he received a blow from the front it was obvious he would be pushed back.
The time limit of his trump card, 《Synchro Infinity》 was five minutes. It could be shorter depending on usage.
Which meant, if he uses it carelessly the risk would be too high.
There's no other way than to endure it for now...!
If he makes a mistake with timing, it will be Taiga's defeat.
The sickle and nodachi met many, many times, and Taiga was forced back every time.
Even so, Taiga parried the sharp sickle strikes without wasteful movements, deflecting them, and attacked Reaper again.
Rather than to win, it was offensive to make sure he won't lose.
Although she couldn't have guessed Taiga's intention, Reaper's attacks continued to gain momentum, and Taiga paid full attention as well.
"Nh...this brute force, where does it come from...!"
In response to the sickle's slash from the front, he retreated ten meters away from her.
They had exchanged around thirty blows already, yet neither of them even grazed each other. While the Reaper pushed him back with her bodily ability, Taiga competed with his skills and experience.
No matter how strong the Reaper is, her attacks were simple. When it came to defending himself it was not difficult.
It might be called a stalemate, but the fact that it continued was because he devoted himself to defence. He didn't use any tricks or skills to breakthrough.
Taiga opened his endlessly sky blue eyes wide,
"It's my turn from now on!!!!"
He threw over a meter long nodachi with all his strength.
If the opponent was a human who had feelings, their face would be dyed with shock.
Because the blade rotated at a high speed like a deep blue bullet. Even if it was Elysion there should be a limit.
Less than a second before it reached her neck——the sickle reacted just in time to flick away the sword.
Even though the Reaper was amazing to be able react to the blade flying at a high speed intercepting it while maintaining a posture she can't use much force in. It wasn't a feat a human could possibly pull off.
"Haaa! You're full of openings standing like that——!!!"
And, using that opening the boy delivered a blow with his fist to her.
As if the flow of time was completely different, as if he knew the reaction of the opponent beforehand, Taiga launched at her and sunk his fist deep into the Reaper's unprotected belly like it was an artillery shell.
The posture the Reaper was standing in wasn't fit for defending herself, and she rotated three times——
As she rotated, and together with his loud voice, she was hit by an uppercut and blown away into the sky.
It wasn't just muscle strength. It was also strength derived from using his legs like a spring, amplified after passing through the muscles of his entire body, and a twisting the punch hit her internal organs, crushing her.
〈"Body damage percentage, 10%."〉
The Reaper's body bent and was thrown up ten meters above the ground, *crackle*, and an electromagnetic wave rippled through her.
The Reaper emitted a sound, a scream from her mouth. It seemed like the damage she accumulated was recognized as pain. But he didn't intend to go easy on her.
He bent his knees lightly, and kicked off the ground, jumping.
Taiga easily overcame gravity and grasped his nodachi that was flying in the air with perfect timing, and hit the girl's body with the speed of sound.
〈"Body damage percentage, 15%."〉
The supersonic slash caused a shockwave, and the Reaper screamed once again. While she tried to raise her sickle and resist, Taiga grabbed her hand not allowing it.
"It's the first aerial fight, Reaper!!!"
He twisted his entire body, and slashed with all his strength at the Reaper's small body, aiming for the shoulder.
The Reaper had no way to resist, and was knocked straight into the ground head on like lightning.
The continuous attacks would kill a normal human ten times already.
Taiga landed after finishing the chain of inhuman techniques, and stared at the ground as dust has risen from the shockwave after Reaper's fall.
His, swordsmanship——it wasn't just techniques that only used the sword.
His entire body was a weapon, at times he used solid slashes, but his swordsmanship specialized single-mindedly in destruction. Originally, it was just human opponents, so using the sword was enough, but in modern times there were many mechanical dolls to fight. And as such inhuman opponents appeared the swordsmanship techniques changed.
I don't know if I'll defeat her with this...
He didn't think she would come intact from that. There should be some damage dealt.
He looked at the other side of the dust cloud vigilant——and stood up all at once.
Find her, if he doesn't, he'll die.
As a split second alarm bell rang in his head warning him of the threat, he jumped to the side. A crimson slash cleaved with enough force to blow away the dust, and engraved itself into the ground on the plain ahead.
〈"Body damage percentage, 20%. Experiment interrupted, target extermination recommended."〉
The Reaper rose up like a ghost while holding a sickle that swayed like a flame.
《Jail》 that was confined within the sickle leaked out, looking like a crimson flame.
Seeing the red sickle slowly rise up, Taiga shouted.
"...flying slashes, give me a break with such an outrageous thing——!!"
While spitting curses, he kicked off the ground and accelerated.
The two slashes released just that moment cut into the earth where Taiga was earlier and left deep scars in the ground.
Without stopping his legs, he ran in a circle around the Reaper while maintaining a certain distance. The Reaper casually continued to release a storm of slashes while aiming at Taiga.
"If I'm hit by this I'll be eaten by a virus and it'll be the end! This is so messed up damn it!"
The Reaper's attack was unusual enough to cause Taiga to lose his composure. Even so, he still continued to observe the attack and analyse it in his head.
The speed of the slashes, the interval between two blows, the time required to rotate and how proportional it was to distance... he continued to cram it all into his head, and instinctively devised tactics.
He wasn't stupid enough to think about slowing down even for an moment, he instinctively knew that.
As he was getting closer to her, she thrust at his belly
Taiga obstructed the thrust with the sheath, and as he dashed she released another slash. He avoided it in the very last moment as it almost grazed his cheek, and jumped to the side with all his strength avoiding the next two slashes.
The Reaper tried to fix the direction of her attacks, and continuous strikes stopped for a moment. He closed the distance aiming at that opening in an instant.
With a sheath in his hand, he stopped after reaching her and intended to cut her in two. But then, in a distance just a step away, it appeared.
From the sickle the Reaper was holding, the crimson substance that covered it bubbled violently. And pebbles small enough to fit in the palm of a hand emerged one after another.
He could never forget that. That's what Rui was using——
As Taiga was stunned and showed an opening, multiple stones turned into blades, and his visibility was dyed white.
Suddenly struck with an unpleasant sensation, Tenryo Fuyuki woke up.
She raised her drowsy body up, and squinted as the sunset burned her eyes. She rubbed her eyes and stretched as drowsiness weighed on her shoulders, probably because she didn't sleep long.
Half of her consciousness looked for warmth.
Fuyuki left the bedroom while walking barely conscious and unsteadily and headed towards the dive room. She found her brother sitting on the arclight unmoving, she sat comfortably on his lap.
But as she woke up little by little, she remembered what the current situation was.
"...Brother is probably in the middle of battle."
If he was sitting in the arclight like that, there was no doubt he was in Elysion. Even though she really wanted to go and assist him, she overused her eyes, was too dizzy, and was unable to use much strength.
After starting up the terminal, she contacted the other party that was registered just the day before. She called a few times, before the other person picked up and she appeared in a window.
"Hello Student Council President. Is everything alright?"
〈"Ah, it's Fuyuki-san. Did something happen?"〉
The other person was the student council president, Kiritou Haya. She had the usual graceful smile on her face.
To be honest, Fuyuki wanted to ask this woman a lot of things.
Like, how and when did she meet her brother, why do they get along so well, or why does she change her atmosphere and tone as if she was hiding behind a façade.
But, she didn't care about it right now.
"I was wondering how is it on that end. Is brother in 《Aries》 already?"
〈"Yes, he probably engaged in combat with the Reaper already. In case he loses, there's no way to check on him, since I cannot connect to him from here I don't know any details."〉
"Is that so. So there's no use."
Just like Fuyuki, Haya was clearly worried as well. Although she didn't know much about her, it was obvious that she held sincere feelings towards Taiga.
〈"That's surprising. Aren't you worried about your brother?"〉
"I am worried. I want to rush over there right away."
She said that and ended the call.
"...Little Sister's feelings, even if I told her, she wouldn't understand."
With her brain exhausted like that, she would only be a nuisance to him. Because she knew that, she could only suppress these feelings and wait.
Ever since that day eight years ago, when rather than her life her heart was saved, Tenryo Fuyuki could only think of him.
She wanted to support him, she wanted to live together with him, hoping for just that. Having to suppress those feelings——she definitely wouldn't understand.
Gently, she held her unconscious brother's hand.
Since electrical signals conveying to his senses were cut off, no matter what happened in reality, it wasn't transmitted to her brother who was in Elysion.
"...please, you must absolutely win."
Even so, Fuyuki continued to hold his hand.
Right now, her brother was fighting in a distant place, fighting for her best friend's life that was held captive.
She continued to pray for him.
This is... seriously bad.
Tenryo Taiga looked up at the pure white sky, and calmly grasped his own state. As dozen of swords pierced the ground around him and exploded, even though he was seriously injured he felt weird, his mouth formed a smile.
"...she got me there... I didn't think, that she could use Rui's creative stones..."
He should have known. Iora had a high level learning ability. She probably imitated Rui's creative stones after seeing them in the previous battle.
Fortunately, since he wasn't hit with 《Jail》, his mental structure wasn't affected. However, the blades exploded at a close distance and buried his body, he avoided collapsing but his body interference dropped to nearly 20%, and he was immobile.
〈"Target immobile, resuming experiment."〉
*rustle*, he heard footsteps through the sand, and he saw a shadow in his field of view.
Attempting to stab Taiga who was lying on the ground, she swung the crimson scythe high up.
He knew that it will be all over once he's hit by that, but his body wouldn't move. He could only look at it.
...again, will I fail to save someone?
Together with that thought, he saw a flashback of what happened a long time ago.
——Long time ago, to the day he cursed himself.
It was an unusual day, where both of his parents had a day off together. Feeling it was a good idea, thought that they should take a picture together, and unlike his indoor little sister, he thought of going out together with their father 『"Let's all go out together as a family"』, she said.
It was the first time in few years that all four of them went out together.
While their mother was a famous painter, their father was a man who devoted himself to work and couldn't spend too much time with them.
They were in high spirits because it was the first time they went out like that in a while. He walked together with his little sister and parents. He also remembered the happy, smiling faces of his parents as they looked at them.
Because they didn't have a car, they were limited to using public transport. Unfortunately, there was an accident on the road to the station.
He was in a position that only allowed him to save his little sister in time, he decided it couldn't be helped and left them to die.
——Fuyuki knew everything up to that point.
What happened after that, even Fuyuki didn't know. An episode that shaped Tenryo Taiga as he was.
A heavy truck rushed ignoring the signal, and he jumped away while holding his little sister.
He embraced Fuyuki as to not show her what happened afterwards.
But he continued to look at his parents, because he was responsible.
And, the world has stopped.
He could not believe his eyes. It wasn't something a child should see.
Shouldering the deaths of two people, he accepted the consequences of his choice.
Even though he hated himself and resented himself for it, he believed in his choice.
The parents that were left behind to die by their son 『We're glad that you are safe』, and smiled from the bottom of their hearts.
Seeing that smile, something cracked inside his mind.
Don't fuck with me.
Why are you smiling.
Why are you smiling at someone who left you to die.
I beg you, resent me. Curse me. Hate me. If you don't——these feelings, won't ever leave me.
While looking at their smile as they were squashed, he felt like his heart was covered with something black.
It was hatred he had for himself, for being relieved from seeing his mother smile. His thinking circuitry was overloaded with hatred for himself, unable to forgive himself for leaving them to die.
He couldn't forgive it.
His heart screamed, demanding punishment.
He hated himself, the one who couldn't save his parents, who was relieved seeing them smile as he left them to die. He hated himself more than anything else in the world.
That's why he pursued strength.
So that next time he could save everyone, in order to change himself, in order to punish himself.
Together with that curse he continued to pursue strength, a commandment he wasn't allowed to forget even for a moment.
Aiming for a height that a human could never reach, and yet putting absolute effort into it.
——Never again, he will allow this body of his to lose.
And with that, his thinking came back to reality.
He clenched his teeth strong enough to break his teeth. You are not allowed to be defeated, as long as you are alive, put some strength in those muscles and continue walking.
But, he wouldn't make it in time.
The blade was swung down on him.
If he's pierced, it will all be over, his mental structure will be eaten out, he won't save Rui, and he won't be able to save Iora. He will betray the trust of Fuyuki and Haya who bestowed him with their programs.
《"Scanning off, connection on."》
He won't allow such a thing, he will cut through reality.
Whether it's reality or a theory, Tenryo Taiga was not allowed to lose.
No matter how hopeless the situation was. That was the punishment Tenryo Taiga imposed on himself.
That's why, it didn't matter if it wasn't reality. It didn't matter who is his opponent. He will take it all down by force.
What awaited him was going beyond the limits, an area no one should ever step in.
Sound, light, time, all of it was left behind——
"———I PROMISED THAT I WILL SAVE HER... DON'T GET IN MY WAYYYYYYYYYY!!!"
《"Synchro Infinity ———!!!"》
Together with the severe pain of his brain circuits burning out, 《Synchro Infinity》 activated in response to his call.
At the same time he kicked up at the Reaper who held the sickle, bounced from the ground pushing himself out with a single hand, and twisted his body avoiding the blade which only cut his clothing.
All of that, in a split of a second.
Without stopping, he carried through striking back at the Reaper. But once again without any hesitation the sickle was swung at his body.
There was no skill, no technique in it, it was just a strike with superhuman brute force.
But, it was an attack that Taiga could easily see through and avoid by moving his neck lightly. And, a flash of his nodachi cut Reaper the once again, after that followed a roundhouse kick.
Now that the difference issue was resolved, both Taiga's 《Eye》, and his body could demonstrate their full performance.
The overwhelming dynamic vision that could capture rifle bullets in slow motion, instantly saw through the Reaper's attacks, and made it possible to avoid them just by using small movements.
〈"Body damage percentage, 30%. target's complete annihilation recommended."〉
The Reaper retreated and her red sickle's luster increased gradually. It was more vivid, and the density eerily increased. And she tried to launch slashes at him from long distance.
In an instant, Taiga closed the distance between them and pierced her shoulder with his sword, and sealed the movement of her shoulder using it as a wedge. The Reaper's arm stopped momentarily.
"Renjou Sword Technique, fifth form——— 《Hien》!"
Not missing the opportunity, the nodachi's blade was gradually covered in blue flames as he said that.
Cutting her and deeply penetrating her shoulder with brute force, he went behind her at the same time slashing her open back.
The Reaper tried to counter-attack after turning around and cutting his neck, but that motion was sealed as he grabbed her arm. He upset her posture by driving his knee into her abdomen, and cut her body again.
Fifth form 《Hien》 wasn't a fixed type technique.
To describe it simply, it would be fluent continuous attacks.
It didn't allow the enemy to find an opportunity to fight back, it was a swordsmanship skill that tightly combined both swordplay and hand-to-hand combat.
The surging anger was released together with the roar.
Reaper wielded her scythe as she tried to resist, but it was deflected away by the nodachi. It never reached Taiga's body, it was as if he saw the future.
The nodachi clad in blue flames delivered slashes at the speed of sound as he danced wildly like a demon.
Whenever the sickle moved, it was intercepted, and the cuts were continuously engraved on the Reaper's body.
〈"Body damage percentage, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%———————————————————————————!!!!!!"〉
He was forced to retreat because of the acoustic bomb he was hit with before, but this time at close range. At the same time the Reaper emitted creative stones which became blades.
It would be possible to cut someone's throat to prevent that in the real world, but it wouldn't work in Elysion. It was a movement that could not be stopped even if he noticed it with his 《Eye》, an unstoppable voice.
Now that Taiga was in a state of full synchronization, the sound attack that could break a glass window, was felt by him as if it was reality.
"I...it hurts, does this bastard intend to tear my eardrums...?"
He couldn't block his ears because he used both of his hands to block the blades, his head shook and vibrated.
That's when, *clank*, pain assaulted his head as if his skull was cracked.
A massive headache hit his head, he felt like his nerves were directly assaulted inside of it. His visibility was impaired because of pain, and he felt so weak he almost fell on the ground.
"Hurry up... I don't have time..."
It was probably an indication of the 『Time limit』. Even though it was only activated for a minute, the usage of 《Eye》 seemed like it was a bigger burden than expected.
He faced the Reaper while suffering a continuous headache. He faced his opponent while enduring the pain. Around thirty creative stones were prepared.
"...just a little more. I beg you, just a little more!"
He kicked off the ground and flew like a bullet.
All creative stones simultaneously turned into swords, axes, and spears. Taiga intercepted a minimum of them and left his body to deal with the others. He bisected four linked spears in front of him, and approached the enemy.
He should be easily able to fend off the sickle now.
Convinced of his victory, he clenched the sword.
A moment later, he realized his blunder.
He heard a sound of metal rubbing against metal behind him, and something entangled with both of his arms.
What he saw, were iron chains that constricted his arms.
He saw it the other day, one of Rui's Creative Stones variant. He knew it.
Just when, when did she throw that thing, how did I overlook it——
His enemy didn't have much time. There's no way he could have overlooked it with his eyes. He should have seen it.
There was only a moment. Only a fraction of a second, a time when his visibility became zero.
That time. She threw it the moment I closed my eyes because of pain.
The binds weren't strong, he could tear them off if he put some strength in it.
In front of him, the Reaper raised her sickle. At this rate if he tries to break the chains and avoid it he won't make it in time. And he couldn't completely deflect it without both of his arms. He could only release one of them.
He might have been able block it a little while ago with one arm, but not anymore.
——— The blocked pain is released, the damage dealt to the electronic body is transferred to you. If your arm is cut off, you will receive mental damage as if it really was cut off ———
He recalled Fuyuki's words.
Now that he was in a full synchro state he is more sensitive then a normal person, if his arm were cut, it will become unusable without a doubt.
And that wasn't an enemy he could win against with one arm.
But if it was the body that experienced being cut, there was hope.
He prepared himself for it long ago in order to win. Taiga laughed fearlessly, and he received the sickle's blow directly from the front.
The cutting edge tore into him from the shoulder and crushed his lung, and cut aiming for his heart.
He felt his body falling apart. He felt pain as if he was skewered with burning rods and a nausea welling up from his internal organs. Gritting his teeth trying not to lose consciousness because of pain, he grabbed the sickle deep in his belly with his right hand.
He will definitely not let it go——the sickle suppressed by force didn't even budge.
After he made a half step, it sank into his waist.
On his palm appeared the antibody program he received from Haya, he clenched his fist.
"Just how long, are you going to hide in someone else's body——!!!!!"
Together with a shout he drove his fist that was shining with blue light into the Reaper's belly. With all the strength he had in his virtual body and soul, he directly attacked the program data that mutated her.
〈"Foreign matter entering confirmed. Searching for countermeasure. Searching searching searching searching searching searching searching searching searching."〉
Blue light was crawling all over the Reaper's body.
First it started with a mad voice. And it started to become a noise like a broken radio's, one big sound that couldn't be called a voice.
Next, it was hair. The vibrant crimson colour disappeared little by little and went back to it's original colour. The blue light purified the foreign matter and eroded the sickle which was the symbol of madness, destroying the bond.
The scythe turned into small fragments, invisible for the naked eye.
When all of the crimson disappeared, instead of a Reaper, there was a mysterious girl who looked like a fairy.
"...it feels like it's been a while since I last saw you."
He caught her as she was falling down.
With just that the location he was slashed at ached, and he felt pain as if his entire body was burning, he contacted Haya while bearing with it somehow.
"I retrieved Iora. Collect us."
〈"Well done Taiga! I'll restore the connection immediately!"〉
"...no, before that how's Rui? Did she go back to normal properly?"
He certainly carved the program deep into Iora's body and it was able to process 《Jail》. But the unpleasant feeling didn't go away.
It's not over yet, there's still something that has to be done——that thought didn't disappear from his head
〈"Please wait a second. I'll check now... no way, there's no change?! Was the program properly implanted in her?!"〉
"Yeah, I should have beat it into her properly. ...?!!"
Suddenly. He saw crimson. A piece of crimson fell on the ground and gathered at one point. A huge lump of crimson light substance bashed violently deforming and trashing about.
"...Haya, cut the connection after you recover Iora. I'll contact you after all is finished."
〈"All is finished you mean——"〉
He ended the call after saying that much. A mass of crimson changed into a definite shape at the same time.
The figure that appeared on the end of the never-changing scythe, was of a stature twice as big as Taiga. It had a black hood covering its face, and it gave off a creepy cold feeling. Truly a Grim Reaper.
It was Aries's original nature, identification of viruses and their immobilization by manifestating them.
It didn't work until now because it was embedded into a virtual body, but now that it's been expelled from it, it has materialized.
He stood up halfway by using all of his strength, but just that caused him to make a big cough.
The pain that came from his insides was strong enough to make it seem like his entire body became a complete mess, severe pain ran amok making him feel as if he would be better off dead.
"Zuaa... gah... haa..."
His visibility was dyed white. His eyes were at their limits. His entire body screamed. It was impossible. He couldn't fight in such a body——
Immediately after he gripped his sword, the Reaper began to move. It's scream shakes the air and slashes at Taiga with it's scythe!
The blow was heavier than that of the girl's, it has blown away his defence.
He rotated two, three times on the ground. And although he rebuilt his posture after rotating, the Reaper closed the distance by gliding through the air while holding a huge scythe matching its current physique.
Nodachi and scythe clash and a flurry of sparks appear between them. A heavy impact hits his arms with every blow and is transmitted into his body, a dull pain runs through his wounds.
His mind was being disturbed.
His body was barely standing.
His awareness barely endured.
It was the limit.
His brain was overused by 《Synchro Infinity》, severe pain assaulted his abdomen. A normal person would have gone mad a long time ago. It was an abnormal, suicidal act to fight in such a condition.
Somewhere in his mind he heard a whisper.
You did well. You saved Iora didn't you. It's okay to leave the rest to someone else.
"——Don't fuck with me."
The sounds of heavy strikes drowned the auditory hallucinations. His bones, lungs, internal organs, cells throughout his body screamed.
It's okay to leave the rest to someone else?
That girl, she was laughing until the very end, she believed in you, and that she will not disappear.
With that trust, with those feelings, are you going to betray that vow? You can still move. You can still fight.
If it hurts, withstand it. If you're losing consciousness hold on to it. It's fine to exceed the limit.
He took a deep breath while parrying an attack.
3, 2, 1 ——together with the countdown he roused all the cells in his body.
An imaged flashed in his mind. A lightning ran through his entire body sharpening it.
——— I believe in you. Brother ———
Burning out until the last drop of his fuel is left. Charging until there is no energy left, running the engine called mind at full horsepower.
——— Yup. I will be waiting, my Prince ———
That moment, the world stopped.
Feeling as if time flowed differently for him, with brute force he broke through the scythe and slashed the Reaper. The scream echoed.
Crimson light peeped from the tear he engraved on it, he placed the blue sphere inside of it.
"Finally... I got you out..."
Mental structures trapped in jail overflowed.
The souls were released and started to wander in search of their original bodies.
But, there was no time to be relieved because the tear he made started to recover, and in a few short seconds it was completely blocked.
"You really don't know when to die... Gu... guoh..."
——One more blow, if he delivers one more blow his body will really break.
He sheathed the nodachi slowly.
"..... “Secret Technique” first form———"
No tricks. There was no room for that. Purely smashing the enemy with the single strongest blow he had. His legs used all its strength to kick off, and he gathered his arms while in front of his prey.
The Reaper continuously slashed with his scythe. But the long range slashes released could not reach Taiga who ran at full speed and carved deep tears in the ground behind him.
Ten meters away from him his step collapsed, and Taiga's body sank.
It was a godspeed sword-drawing technique that didn't even leave an after-image after slashing.
A supreme slash that had speed and power beyond the limit of humans has released a shockwave that seemed like it would tear the earth apart, and bisected the Reaper together with his scythe.
From the cut, a torrent of souls overflowed like a muddy stream.
Mental structures flew around looking for their bodies, and he sensed a girl that reminded him of sun,
"...sorry for the wait, Princess."
Taiga's consciousness sank into darkness.
At the same time, a single tear flowed on the cheek of a girl who was sleeping in a hospital room.
Translator's Notes and References
- ↑ Hien used here means Flying Swallow, however if you write it differently it can also mean scarlet flame.