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In the morning, after discovering a city was nearing them, the siren sounded in the sky of Zuellni. Someone quickly confirmed from the flag that it was the Academy City Falnir.
Karian was having morning tea. Enjoying the time with a cup of tea was one of his hobbies. Though the siren had interfered with his pastime, it did little to affect his mood.
After announcing the situation, he ordered all Military Artists to gather and that the normal students were to evacuate to the shelters. It was after hearing the name of the other city that he started to feel annoyed. He clearly remembered the results of the past five Military Arts Compet.i.tions, along with the names of the cities. Whether it was Myath or Falnir...
"We haven't fought this city before."
That was strange.
It was common knowledge that Regios wouldn't move too far away from their selenium mines. As Zuellni only had one mine, the area it moved in should be small. Normal speculation would conclude that the other city had had contact with Zuellni. However, Zuellni had yet to fight Falnir. This meant the results of the previous Military Arts Compet.i.tion had caused huge fluctuations in the movement areas. The other possibility was that after the rampage, Zuellni had run across Myath, and was in turn now running across Falnir.
"Is that really the case?"
He wasn't convinced. The city had been moving for a long time twice now. This trip into the summer season took longer time than usual. One could explain that by an error, but no detailed proof was forthcoming. Then one could only conclude the only possible explanation was chance. But was this enough to solve the problem? As the Student President of Zuellni, as the highest authority of this Academy City, how should he respond to this change?
"Anyway, just focus on solving the present problem."
He couldn't ignore the present because of his consideration of the future. Leaving his sister behind, he left the house.
Before the ringing of the siren, Nina was waiting for Layfon at the entrance of his dormitory. She was already awake when the siren sounded. What she was surprised with was that Layfon had apologized to Leerin, and later on, Leerin had asked her to take the Dite from her room and bring it to him.
Nina followed Leerin's instructions. Though it wasn't that good to enter another's room, Leerin had given her permission to do so. The light was dim, but she quickly found the box. She had seen it once, and the box jumped out to her as it stood on the desk.
Once she handed the Dite over to Layfon, he had unwrapped the box and taken out the Dite. A metal Dite with a thread weaving around the handle.
"Yes, this is proof of one having learned all Psyharden skills," he held the handle with nostalgia, walked into the court in the dormitory and restored the Dite.
The beauty of the Katana made her speechless. The length of the blade was as long as Layfon's arm. It was wide, giving off an aura of power. The morning sunlight reflecting off the blade made her squint.
"Amazing," she said with her voice raised, attracted by the light.
"Every part has been set carefully. The technicians have adjusted it again and again for half a year."
"Yeah," he nodded and moved away from her to ready his fighting stance. He swung the blade back and forth.
The feeling of the blade on his hand was different. He confirmed the Katana.
"Should it be heavier? The blade also needs....... It's a bit too long, so I should use the Sapphire Dite as a spare. If the blade can be thicker, then it can sustain the Steel Threads. This setting can be made on the Shim Adamantium Dite, but with the Adamantium Dite......."
It looked like he wanted to change the Dites he had into Katanas.
"..... Aren't you going to use this?" Nina pointed at the Psyharden Katana. It was an excellent Katana, yet Layfon didn't seem satisfied.
"Of course I need adjustments made on this Katana, but when comparing the quality of the materials, white alloy far exceeds that of metal and the green alloy. When I used the Dite in the past, it couldn't sustain my skill in Kei, so I decided to go for the aspect of cutting things apart."
"Is...... Is that so?"
"Yeah, besides, this adjustment was made when I was ten."
Nina was shocked.
"I'm used to wielding bigger Katana. In truth, I can use the Adamantium Dite better if it's heavier. The Shim Adamantium Dite suits me more just based on that."
He continued his explanation, facing a speechless Nina. "Of course, there are inconveniences if I keep using it. The inconvenience brought by Kei flow in a Katana used against a filth monster will cause errors in the swing of the weapon."
A siren cut through the air.
"Emergency? Is a city near?"
"Seems so. This is like training."
Layfon looked at the sky and turned his gaze to the city's legs. A city did appear ahead of Zuellni.
"Time to get ready."
"I'm going to find Harley-senpai to make some adjustments."
"Then I'll be leaving now."
She watched him run off.
".... He's changed."
A sudden change. He had accepted his ident.i.ty as a Military Artist. That should warrant a celebration. Whether it was for Nina or Zuellni, this was good news. But somehow, she didn't feel comfortable.
"He must have talked over this with Leerin."
That must be it.
This was probably a good thing, but on the other hand, she knew it was something she couldn't have affected. Having experienced the setback in Grendan, Layfon's current change did not come about because of Nina or anyone else.
She couldn't do this because she wasn't Leerin? Or because she forced herself too much?
"............" Nina shook her head and breathed out as if to let loose the feelings piling up inside her. Sunlight shone into the court. Today was another hot day.
Layfon ran. His feet were light, so light. In fact, his entire body felt light, as if power had filled him. Looking at the usual streetscape before him, it felt refreshing. Why was that so? He knew the reason behind it lay in the wooden box in his right hand.
He ran on an empty street. He ran, knowing clearly that he hadn't been abandoned and forgotten. He already knew when he was little. The children of his age had all been adopted by other people. Only he and Leerin had stayed in the orphanage. The kids who had been adopted and taken away never did return to visit them. When he grew up and had a talk with father, he knew this was a fact. At the same time, he realized he was still immature. This didn't mean Derek didn't care for the kids who had left the orphanage. In truth, some kids caused trouble for their adopted families and were sent back to the orphanage. When that time came, Derek faced the adopted parents with determination and persistence. And Layfon didn't know that, as he was still little. Though he didn't feel it daily, he felt he had been kept behind when it was time for other kids to be taken away. One after another, the children left. Only he was left behind, and that made him feel lonely. Every time the day for a kid to leave rolled around, Layfon was always holding Leerin's hand. Leerin, usually strong and talented, always turned gentle and weak on that day. Even though he felt uncomfortable with her sweaty hand, he held onto it and never let go. And every time, she would tell him of her trouble. And Layfon would want to become stronger, stronger and stronger, so he could always stay by her side. So he would never let go of that hand. He didn't know when he had forgotten that feeling. The shortage of food in Grendan had shrouded that feeling, leaving it to hide deep in his heart.
He was always with Leerin in Grendan. It was the same when people challenged him for the t.i.tle of the Heaven's Blade successor. Leerin's letters encouraged him when he was confused. And Leerin had come to Zuellni because of him. For that alone, he must not let go of her hand. Hence he must hold it tight. Hence he must win this battle.
The siren was a summons.
Holding the Dite in the box, holding the thoughts of Derek and Leerin, Layfon ran into battle.
It was after midday when Falnir contacted Zuellni. The sound of the edges touching echoed throughout the city. Layfon heard this sound in the building of the Alchemy course.
"........ Made it~~" Harley collapsed on a chair. "Come over and see."
The restored form of the Shim Adamantium Dite lay on the table. Compared to the Katana, the Shim Adamantium Dite was now longer in length. Light sparkled in the dark blade.
"I took the mode of the metal Dite and made it in powdered form. That should raise the sharpness of the blade."
Layfon prepared his stance. He couldn't make any large movements in the narrow room, but he nodded at the feeling of the blade in his hand.
"Perfect," he smiled.
"Re, really?" Harley smiled too.
"Well, this doesn't have much to do with the Military Arts Compet.i.tion since you aren't allowed to hurt your opponent. But I tried merging the aspects of the Dites........"
"Then I'll go ahead. Counting on you for the Sapphire Dite."
Layfon jumped out the window. Felli's flake was already waiting. It flew into his pocket.
"Please hurry and get changed. A plan's already been drawn up."
"What do I do?" he asked as he leaped from building to building.
"........... Instead of that, let's just solve what happened last night. I'm sorry."
"Ah, not at all........ It was my fault. Sorry."
"No...... So you've decided to hold the Katana."
"Yes, you and the Captain are right. I was wrong," he felt fl.u.s.tered at the seeming shadow in her words.
"I don't mean that. I mean your heart. Have you decided to continue fighting as a Military Artist?"
"Ah........." he breathed in deeply and didn't give an instant reply.
"What?" her tone was icy.
"No, I haven't thought of that yet........"
Submerged in the joy of being allowed to use Psyharden, submerged in the feel of the Katana in his hand, he had totally forgotten it. No........ He had forgotten. That probably came about as a burden on his spirit from fighting as a Military Artist. He now held the Katana, but he hadn't resolved his past in Grendan. Still, this had nothing to do with whether he should continue to be a Military Artist or not.
"This feels like your style."
"....... Are you underestimating me?"
"I was just saying the truth."
True. He could only see what was before him. He didn't protest against her words as he arrived at the Training Complex. He took out the flake before entering the changing room. He took up the clothes.
And next, he quickly made his way to the outer area of Zuellni.
"No, it's good that you caught up."
Under Felli's guidance, he had arrived at where Nina was to confirm the situation. The signing of contracts had already begun.
"Eh? That person..........?" He noticed the older man standing beside Falnir's Student President.
"He's the representative of the Academy City Alliance."
"Eh, so it's that person."
That person wore a grey coat. He looked to be in his thirties. The Academy City Alliance. It managed all Academy Cities and exchanged information between cities. It was also responsible in buying and selling information to other Academy Cities.
"It seems he's in Falnir."
"So these people appear in Military Arts Compet.i.tions?"
"Seems so. Last time we had one in Zuellni, probably since there was a roaming bus. Not every city had one."
"I see........" Layfon looked at the man again.
He was a Military Artist that bore no weapon harness. That was probably hidden beneath his uniform. The lumpy part of his left side might hide a Dite. Layfon saw no openings from this person. He looked to hold some strength. Since it was the Academy City Alliance, it must hold several incredible Military Artists.
"Well....... Never mind that."
That had nothing to do with the present Military Arts Compet.i.tion. Layfon turned his gaze to Falnir's Military Artists. They were all students. How would they fare? Though it was difficult to speculate on the strength of a group, he could tell by looking at them that they held confidence. They might have won in other places.
Their aura was frightening. Zuellni did win against Myath, but that was three months ago. Everyone had gradually come to forget the feeling they had in victory.
"Captain, what's our deployment?"
"Uh? Aa, this time we're in the frontline. Gorneo's team will infiltrate the city."
"What is it?" she asked.
"I have something to talk to you about."
"What? About the plan?"
"It isn't really a plan......."
"What is it?"
Dalshena came over too. He told them in a small voice. They both widened their eyes.
"..... Is that good?"
"But that's the basic."
"Well, even so......." Dalshena fiddled with her golden curls.
"But that's still an individual fight."
"It's ok. I think........." he nodded with a smile.
"Even if there's one more person, the feeling in battle won't be much different."
"True, if we do that, we can dampen their spirit........" Nina said after some consideration.
"Can we do that?"
"Though I'm not too good with it, it's just a matter of grabbing the right timing," she nodded. "Ok. Let's decide this then. Dalshena-senpai, please lead the front troop. Layfon and I will rush into the enemy formation afterwards. Is that all right?"
"Ok. Leave it to me," Dalshena nodded.
"Right, next is to win," Nina said with resolve.
Layfon smiled. Yes, next was to win.
At this time, Dixerio finally woke from his long slumber.
"As I thought.......... It takes a long time to heal continuously."
He had been sleeping on a tree branch. He stood up and stretched, confirming his body condition.
The wounds caused by Barmelin had completely healed.
"Aaa, my left leg had become charcoal. One night's sleep wasn't enough to heal that," he laughed lightly in irony. Still, it had been a long time since he was injured.
Many tens of years had pa.s.sed since his body turned into this condition. And the events he had experienced made him feel that time was extremely long and pa.s.sed slowly. The network of Electronic Fairies that was formed inside the Aurora Field, which was called "En", and his fights against the Wolf Faces in recent years.
Just when did he stop growing? When did he stop being human and Military Artist?
Dixerio. He used to be a spoiled and arrogant kid living in the City of Strong Desire – Velzenheim. He had become like the two people that he met on that day.
Who were they? His current purpose was to confirm the answer of this question. However, he had something else to do before that. He must find the man that destroyed his city. That was why he infiltrated Grendan's Inner Court for the second time. He had found a violent welcome waiting for him both times.
He didn't get along with the Heaven's Blade successors. They were different from him, as they had obtained power as normal Military Artists. Though he knew a Heaven's Blade could fully release a wielder's potential, the result of that far exceeded his expectations. Either way, his misconception was formed when he was still a kid.......
"......... In that case, the 'motto' lives there too."
His expression turned sour. The girl he met before did get caught in this whole affair. Through the baptism of the Wolf Faces, her body had an easier time traversing the Aurora Field.
No. He should say that she had become less resistant to it.
This was an urgent matter in this world. He got her involved in his fight without reason, and that saddened him.
"I must do something for her."
Something had happened in that city, so Dixerio had come to visit Zuellni several times. The possibility was high that that girl was the key. Either way, she had obtained the Haikizoku. And that implied....... She had no other choice but to walk the same path as him.
The Student Presidents signed the contract, shook each others' hand and returned to their own city. The representative of the Academy City Alliance returned to Falnir without a word.
The contact point of the cities was the main battlefield. Military Arts students from both cities stood in formation. They faced each other and waited for the signal to begin the battle.
Layfon looked at the opposing formation. He held the restored Shim Adamantium Dite. Blue phosph.o.r.escence reflected off the dark blade. The gazes of the enemy Military Artists gathered to one spot.
The sky was cloudless. Strong sunlight lit up the ground and steam rose in threads. Both Zuellni and Falnir bore the heat. Sweat rolled down Nina's face. Sweat moistened her hands.
"It's ok," he said.
"Don't look everywhere," she scolded.
"Don't worry. I know the timing."
"Stay calm. If this works, we rush straight into the enemy formation."
"You said that so easily."
The flutes sounded at the same time from Falnir and Zuellni, signaling the beginning of the battle. At the same time, Military Artists from both sides shouted. The air vibrated from the impact of internal Kei.
"Go!!" Vance shouted.
Kei exploded from Dalshena. She was leading the front troop and was waiting for Nina's signal.
While studying Falnir's front troop, Layfon took a large breath. Just when he was about to give the signal before Nina gave hers.......
A thunderous voice filled the s.p.a.ce between the two sides. Internal Kei variation – Sound of War.
Layfon had released his breath along with Kei. His voice sent Falnir's troop into confusion and chaos.
"Go!" Nina shouted. Dalshena rushed into the enemy's frontline. Her lance created an opening in the frontline.
"Second team, follow!"
As if to chase after Dalshena, Nina's team moved forward and expanded the opening that Dalshena had made.
Sharnid was waiting on the city's edge, somewhere to the right of the frontline. He was with the cannon team. Naruki was in Nina's team, and Felli had stayed behind for support work.
Layfon didn't have any subordinates. He made a huge leap and landed well ahead of Dalshena's team, right in the midst of Falnir's second team.
"Wa!" A Falnir Military Artist shouted at the sudden landing of Layfon from above. Layfon swung the Katana. External Kei variation – Enreki.
A ma.s.sive amount of Kei flooded out from Layfon, sweeping the Military Artists around him into the air.
"..... Fu," he made a sound as he confirmed his move. He had executed a Psyharden move that he hadn't used for a long time. It appeared his skill hadn't gone rusty. He remembered he was in a battle. No time for him to sigh in nostalgia. He wouldn't underestimate his opponents.
His feelings were more intense and colorful than usual. He held the joy of the time when he boasted of his newly learned skills to Leerin.
Some Falnir Military Artists probably thought Layfon was full of openings. Someone attacked him from behind. He half turned around and hit his opponent's wrist with his elbow, making him drop his weapon. He then fought back the other Military Artists who sought to close in on him. He fought Kei with his Katana. For attacks that he didn't have time to counter with his weapon, he used his fists and kicks. He reserved his strength when he executed a kick, and he also used that chance to sweep up the dust and soil from the ground and create a dust screen. Sometimes, he countered using his enemy's weapon.
The school of Psyharden had never nurtured someone as incredible as Layfon. There was also a saying that said Heaven's Blade successors were nurtured in Grendan. Most of the Military Arts school in Grendan were branch schools that descended from a main school. That main school became famous because it had nurtured Heaven's Blade successors. Those that failed to give birth to any Heaven's Blades faded away with time. With the Psyharden school, no Heaven's Blade was born between its founding and Layfon's birth. Why then didn't it fade away like others? Because people who held Psyharden tended to survive their battles. And that was what Psyharden was like. The Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang became famous thanks to the skills of Psyharden.
It wasn't difficult for Layfon to evade the attacks aimed at him. But he suppressed his Kei and sustained the attacks because of the restrictions placed on him.
To people who knew Layfon in Zuellni, they might have found him "intolerable", but as Heaven's Blade successor who had to keep fighting the same filth monsters, that sense of danger was essential. Hence Layfon always stayed alone in the Training Complex to train his basics.
"What're you waiting for!" Dalshena's team had invaded Falnir's second line of attack. Their team had it easier because of Layfon's action. Next, Nina's team completely suppressed Falnir's second team. Falnir's frontline ended up collapsing.
"Ah, yes," Layfon said and made another leap.
Keep on moving and he should be able to confirm which moves he was more rusty with.
While in midair, he stiffened at a sudden gaze from somewhere.
He cautiously searched for that presence but he couldn't feel it anymore.
(Was that my imagination? But........)
He had always felt someone was watching him since Leerin came to Zuellni. That gaze was sharp, but it always disappeared when he noticed it. He didn't know who it was, but since he didn't feel any hostility from it, he chose to ignore it.
(But why now?)
He had thought that it might be a non-Zuellni Military Artist who was watching him from a distance. He couldn't fathom the reason behind that act, but that was a possibility. Besides, no normal Military Artist could catch up with Layfon's speed with his eyes.
(Who is it?)
Haia.........? But he shouldn't be in Zuellni anymore. The Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang was still in Zuellni, but they had announced that they had exiled Haia. The Student Council and the City Police had done a thorough investigation, and they couldn't find Haia and Myunfa. So it shouldn't be Haia. Then who was it?
"Aa, that was a close call," Savaris cringed on the top of the Student Council building. He was right beside the flag. "As I expected, his sensitivity in this battle is higher than before. Well, he has been a Heaven's Blade successor. Close call. Close call."
No one could tell what he truly meant from his expression. In fact, he was enjoying himself.
"But he's finally picked up the Katana, his favorite weapon. Now this is getting more interesting."
Though he once showed displeasure in Layfon's performance, he was now very happy with his choice of weapon. Because the two of them would one day clash. He had heard of this from the current head of the Gang – Fermaus. Since the Gang aimed to take the Haikizoku, then sooner or later, it'd have to face Layfon. Savaris was disappointed at how relaxed Layfon had become in his peaceful life in Zuellni, but now he was happy to see him change.
Either way, he wanted to fight a strong Layfon. And since he himself also didn't have the Heaven's Blade, then the conditions matched.
"But........ When would that be?"
The Haikizoku wouldn't appear as long as the city was safe. He heard Zuellni had gone on a rampage before and had headed for filth monsters like Grendan, but that was before he arrived here.
He knew the reason. One, this had something to do with Grendan, and two, that person was in the Queen's care.
"......... I don't want to listen to Her Majesty's complaints. What should I do?"
Leerin Marfes. She had interfered with his mission, but he couldn't do anything to her. Because of her, he had been lazing around for three months. That was why he had time to train Gorneo and observe Layfon. Well, he couldn't say the three months were totally wasted.
"It's about time I got tired of this."
He thought of what to do. He could block Layfon's way when filth monsters attacked Zuellni, allowing Zuellni to face extreme danger. He remembered hearing from Gorneo of how Zuellni fought. Though it probably wouldn't face another group attack from larvae, a crisis still existed if a crowd of mature filth monsters came. But Savaris couldn't wait for filth monsters to show up. He had already waited for three months, and the battlefield of Grendan beckoned.
The other way was for him to create a crisis by destroying the city. Though the Haikizoku's hatred was bent on the filth monsters, it might come to possess someone in the face of danger. Either way, the person that the Haikizoku possessed at first did not face the danger of filth monsters at that time.
".......... How about I just do that now?"
What was ironic was that a battle was right before him. This kind of child's play fueled his impatience.
"I say, what do you think?" his gaze slid to that person.
"As expected from a Heaven's Blade successor. I can't hide from you."
A man wearing a grey coat appeared behind Savaris. A moment ago, he was just at the contact point of the cities. As the representative of the Academy City Alliance, he should have already returned to Falnir.
"I thought you might do something. What's going on?" Savaris said.
"Well......" the man shrugged. "I can't meet your expectations on my own."
"But you don't die, right? Nothing would harm you even if you die a hundred times. You give your opponent mental pressure."
"That's not possible. Though our thoughts are separated from our bodies, we are still weak in front of despair," he said simply.
He was one of the Wolf Faces.
"Is it ok to tell me this so easily?"
"Of course. Dying a hundred times is not enough to reach true despair."
"I see, since you have no real body, you can't feel pain."
Savaris remembered the foolish young man he met in Myath. That young man's fear of filth monsters was extreme and unusual. It must be a side effect of becoming a Wolf Face.
(What. As I thought, he can't match Layfon.)
He looked at the sky, bored.
"Then what do you want with me? Let's leave the conversation if you're here to persuade me to surrender. Grendan's battlefield is still the most attractive for me."
"I want to help you return to that battlefield quickly........"
"Aa, you don't believe me?"
"It's not that I don't want to believe. You're Grendan's enemy. Can I trust you like that?"
"Then do you plan to keep waiting?"
Savaris gave a bitter smile. This person knew of his thoughts and had suggested accordingly for the negotiation.
The man continued speaking without fear. "Filth monsters will attack Zuellni today."
A topic that Savaris had been waiting for.
"What's the catch of telling me this?"
"No matter. This is a filth monster with a name," the man said something that only people of Grendan would understand.
"This is becoming more interesting. The Haikizoku will definitely appear. What useful information. As thanks, I won't destroy your body."
"Not at all. I still haven't yet asked for your help," he said.
"Then what do you want me to help with?"
"We'll take the Haikizoku out of its vessel."
"Why? Don't you want the Haikizoku? It'll be troublesome to take it back like that. You can't be thinking of asking us for help when you're at your end?"
True. That made sense. Savaris did not have the tools to capture the Haikizoku. He'd probably use the same method as the Mercenary Gang. Find a random person and let the Haikizoku possess him. That wasn't enough. The Haikizoku would be very unstable because the vessel lacked willpower. In addition, Layfon would be there to interfere.
The Queen knew the Gang would fail in this mission, so she sent a Heaven's Blade over.
But once the Haikizoku had settled in its vessel, next was Savaris's turn to contend against it. He didn't think he would lose. Actually, it'd be interesting if the vessel was Layfon. In that case, he had to make sure he had enough strength left to fight Layfon after contending with the Haikizoku.
"But can your way ensure nothing will happen on the way with delivering the Haikizoku back to Grendan? If it was in a city, I could suppress it with force, but if it was on the roaming bus.........?"
As he thought. This would get troublesome. Besides, that consciousness in Leerin might not take his side.
"We can take the Haikizoku off its vessel and hand it to you in its real form."
"You can do that?"
"Only we can do this."
It sounded like a good trade.
"Then what're you getting out of this? Do you want me to fight that filth monster?"
If that filth monster did have a name, then Layfon himself wasn't enough. This would also be difficult for Savaris as he didn't have his Heaven's Blade. But if they were to cooperate, they might defeat it.
"I want you to protect Zuellni."
Savaris's eyes widened at the unexpected. "You do know how to joke. According to what I saw in Myath, destroying Academy Cities is what you like."
"Yes, Myath doesn't mean much to us, but Zuellni is different. It has something that we want."
"But it takes time to obtain it. We'll be troubled if something is to happen to Zuellni."
Was that the only reason? What were the Wolf Faces planning? Savaris was really curious. In that case, he better collaborate with them so he could return to Grendan earlier.
"Let's do this then."
"Good. Please look after me."
The man nodded and vanished. Speaking of which........ what did that man look like? All he saw was that grey coat.
"Uh, this is troublesome," he said, losing interest in the Wolf Face man.
What he was interested in now was the upcoming battle.
"A filth monster with a name........ I'm really looking forward to it."
How much could he do without a Heaven's Blade? That question made him really anxious.
Feeling the Kei running up her arm, Naruki released her Kei without hesitation.
External Kei variation – Purple Lightning.
Thunder strikes shot from the chain of rope. The Military Artists caught by that rope fell down one by one.
"Fu............" Naruki retrieved the rope and sighed.
In the past three months, she had successfully learned the key points of Karen Kei under Gorneo's instruction. The move she executed was of Karen Kei. The Military Artists she caught did not faint. They just couldn't move as their nervous system was in chaos, leaving Zuellni's Military Artists ample time to deal the final blow. Naruki took back her gaze from the scene.
They didn't have a judge to decide whether a person was out of action in the platoon match even though a safety setting was installed in every Dite. Besides, a safety setting couldn't guarantee safety. A blade could still inflict heavy damage, and that was the same with Nina and Naruki's weapons. Sometimes, Military Artists would sustain severe injuries. They might even die. In truth, a guy the same age as Naruki had sustained a head injury during the match with Myath. She had visited him in the hospital. He didn't look reliable, but he was a good man. Fortunately, it wasn't a life threatening injury. But in the month after he was discharged, he always complained of headache. At present, his head would still hurt occasionally. Even modern medicine failed to completely cure brain and Kei-related injuries. That man might have died. This was what a Military Arts fight was like. No matter how many safety precautions were made, one fought with death.
Naruki couldn't agree with it. She couldn't do it, and that was why she left Joeldem. One had to fight filth monsters in order to survive. But what was a war for? Why should they fight over selenium mines? Why did the cities, the Electronic Fairies have to make humans fight? She didn't understand.
And that, she couldn't agree with.
Once she told her parents of her thought, they decided to allow her to study in Academy City. They thought she would die if she continued to think like that in Joeldem. Only death awaited her if she didn't fight. Her parents' decision was right.
Hence Naruki aimed to join the police force. Police's opponents were people who threatened the peace of the city. Till now, she had never doubted her decision in becoming a policewoman. However, right now she was part of a platoon, and she was fighting in the Military Arts Compet.i.tion. She fought and she learned Karen Kei from Gorneo. What was with the change of heart? Actually, she knew. The event with the 10th platoon had changed her. Dinn had chosen the wrong path for the sake of the city. Did he fail because his choice was wrong? Or was it that even with a wrong decision, one could reach one's goal with a firm belief? Was there any mistake in the justice that she believed in? A closer study yielded the conclusion that one made mistakes because one was too loyal to one's belief. Did the action succeed in the end or fail? Naruki didn't understand, so she now fought in a fight she didn't want to partic.i.p.ate in. What she couldn't accept might not necessarily be wrong. But what about the people who had a hand in changing her thinking?
Naruki's gaze turned to Nina. Holding the iron whips, Nina changed the team's movement according to the enemy's reactions. If the counterattack was strong, she would take the attack. If the counterattack was weak, she would increase her territory. No one needed a Psychokinesist's report to realize Nina was the captain, looking at the way she shouted and gave orders. As naturally, she concentrated on attacking. Naruki and the other Military Artists became Nina's wall to reduce her burden. However, Nina would choose to attack even while defending. As long as she saw an opening, she would rush forward. Even though the strategy was aimed to keep Nina's team not too far away from Dalshena's, Naruki still thought it tactless. If Layfon didn't head alone into the enemy's ranks to cause a commotion, Dalshena's attack wouldn't have worked. Putting it the other way, the connection of the teams had turned harder to maintain because the fight was too smooth. The team led by the 16th platoon would have collapsed if not for their favorite Whirl Kei strategy.
"Captain, please stop for a bit!" Naruki shouted.
"Ah? Uh, yes......." Nina replied reluctantly.
Naruki calmed herself. She must stop her before anyone broke through the defense of Kei in the Captain's Dite.
"Captain!" she called again.
Nina finally halted her steps.
"You're going in too fast. What exactly are you thinking?" It was Felli's voice coming through the flake. "Please also tell Dalshena senpai not to keep moving ahead. You guys are too far away from the third team."
"But........." she looked ahead. "Layfon, he........"
"If I don't first stop you, I can't concentrate on persuading that happy idiot." Reproach filled Felli's voice.
A Psychokinesist could process gathered information all at the same time. Still, it was difficult for her to speak to different people at the same time.
"Sor, sorry........" Nina said and gave an order to Dalshena through the flake. "This is Vance's order. Join with the second wave and turn to defensive formation. Defend the areas we've gained."
"Really........." Felli didn't say anymore. She must be talking to Layfon.
Though they had stopped moving, many Falnir Military Artists still surrounded them. Naruki and the other members had turned to a defensive formation while Nina was giving the order. The team changed into a dense formation with Nina at the center of the circle. Not long after that, Dalshena's team retreated to meet up with Nina's team.
Since she was in the middle of the formation, Nina couldn't fight. She sighed.
She wasn't relaxed at all. She was impatient with Layfon. He wasn't back yet.
"What is it?" Naruki asked. The heavy push forward back then seemed to have been pulled by Layfon.
"Did I think too highly of myself?" Dalshena sighed also. Sweat rolled down her face.
Naruki felt more at ease. No matter how beautiful her senpai was, she could sweat too. This scene didn't mean much, but it helped Naruki breathe.
Dalshena's gaze turned from Nina to her. "What's up with her?"
"Ah, no, it's Layfon. He seems different from usual. That's worrying."
True. Layfon's action was strange. He didn't give off that dark and shadowy feeling. Compared to before, he was happier and more carefree. So carefree that it was hard for her to accept it.
"........ He must have solved that problem with Leerin?"
"I think so too, but somehow, I feel he's really overdoing it........"
Yes. It felt hard to approach him before the intercity match. She also hadn't talked to him during the fight. And today, she got a feeling that he was relaxed up till the signal for the match to begin. Though he looked like he had plenty of room to spare, others couldn't help but think he was being careless.
Was that why Nina was worried? Naruki's instinct told her that wasn't it. Nina was worried......... She was probably using that as an excuse to lie to herself.
(Meishen would have felt down while saying, "That's great".)
Though Nina was happy that Leerin and Layfon had made up, she probably felt down for failing to help him. Naruki was probably feeling the same too. So useless. But perhaps she was dreaming to live such a useless life. She thought she would deceive herself like this.
(Has Leerin noticed?)
That Leerin herself felt something for Layfon. Nina should have known the reason behind Leerin's visit, yet she still chose to live with her. It must be hard for her to see Leerin and Layfon so close together.
Why was Naruki so useless?
The battle continued and Layfon still hadn't returned.
"So slow. Has she not convinced him yet?" Nina stumped her foot.
At this time...... A roar sounded in the air.
As the battlefield was filled with noise, no one noticed something was nearing them. The Psychokinesists were concentrating on gathering information of the battle, so they didn't have spare time to look beyond the cities. The roar became a rumble, and the entire earth shook.
Naruki quickly threw away that speculation. A city's multi-legs being trapped inside a crack was the cause of a city's quake. Falnir and Zuellni had already stopped moving, so this wasn't it. Then what was it?
New rumbling sounded from in front of and behind the two cities. No one had yet to give the signal to stop the battle. However, all Military Artists had ceased fighting.
A shrill siren sounded above the battlefield to announce the attack of filth monsters. The sad wailing of Electronic Fairies. At the same time, countless number of larvae had appeared outside the cities.