Teora 9: Are you an Idiot?
Dylan seemed to recognize the one who appeared as a villain. His eyes met with Manaka’s.
“Yo, Hero. First time I’m seeing you in the flesh, but you sure are cool. What’s up with you? You wearing something? Or did your body transform?”
“Sorry, but I was told not to let you pass.”
On Manaka’s conversational tone, Dylan didn’t react at all. He merely slowly began walking towards the man.
Dylan’s right fist emitted a light.
… I knew that one. I’ve seen it introduced before on the news programs.
A knuckle charged with energy. One of Dylan’s signature moves. Commonly called Justice Hammer. Other Rocks also used similar moves, and that attack that was now known as a sort of trademark of the group possessed enough destructive power to even demolish boulders.
It would be the end if he drew any closer. Manaka held up the rifle in his hand, and immediately discharged it!
At the same time, Dylan began accelerating in his direction. It was faster than a leopard, and sharper than an eagle. If Dylan had gone and done an 100 meter dash, it was most definite he would achieve a speed breaking the world record by a large margin.
… He didn’t even dodge the bullet, he deflected it to the side with a single sweep of his arm.
… To Neito, it only looked as if a flash of light was racing about.
A sound of impact reverberated in the area, and in the next instant, in the outer wall of a storehouse far behind, he confirmed the figure of a beaten Manaka.
“… Manaka… san…?”
Looking closely, the red protectors on his Miscellaneous Battle Uniform were shattered, and after falling from the wall to the floor, Manaka didn’t move in the slightest.
That can’t be.
That can’t be.
That can’t be.
In that single instant? Without the slightest portent? So that thing called the fist of justice really was something that strong?
Enough for a man who’d chosen to walk the path of evil to be demolished in the blink of an eye?
Neito couldn’t move. It wasn’t fear. The truth unfurling before his eyes was going too fast for his mind to catch up.
And Dylan’s simple presence was overwhelming.
Without confirming the result of his actions, Dylan proceeded on. And his form went out of sight.
“…! Hah! Manaka-san!?”
As if he had just been freed from paralysis, Neito ran over to manaka.
He lifted up his collapsed body, and called out.
“… Neito… is it…?”
Manaka’s breath was faint, and his voice sounded as if it would go out at any moment.
“Please get a hold of yourself!! Manaka-san!!”
“… I can’t… be saved…”
He could tell by looking, but still, he didn’t want to admit it.
“You can!! Manaka-san! I’m begging you!! … You said it, didn’t you!? That… that you’d take me out for a drink…!”
“… Sorry for… that…”
“Please don’t die!! Your wife and your kids are… waiting for you!!… So…!!”
Manaka’s wife had, just the other day, ran off with the kids to some other man. Even Neito knew that much, but even so.
He couldn’t remain without letting any words from his mouth.
“… You there. Good… listen…”
The first person he regarded as a senior at work gripped his hand, as he went on.
“… You have talent…”
He didn’t know what Manaka wanted to say. But if he was going to make these words his last, then they had to be heard. Neito clenched his hand as he inclined his ears to Manaka’s words.
“… Aim for Metallica’s summit. And the world…”
Neito could only listen and nod. Metallica’s summit. Could that mean to become the big boss?
So he was to become a lord of evil. Of the numerous organizations, the oldest and most powerful one. To stand at the top truly was to stand where one could demand change in the world.
“… It’s a promise. Alright…? If you see me in hell, then you’ve got to tell me… the word ‘evil’s real…”
Manaka couldn’t lay out words to the end. Power seeped out of the hand he clenched, and his arm hung limp.
He couldn’t talk any longer.
He was dead. He had died. I had practically entered the organization just by going with the floor. The workplace was off from my expectations. And within that, he was the first to properly interact with me, and dim as it may be, the person who to point me onto my path.
I mean, I won’t say he was a good person. Of course he was a villain.
But Neito had liked Manaka. It wasn’t just battle techniques. He felt the man had taught him something precious.
And he had died.
His comrade, a grunt of an evil organization, had been vanquished by the hero protecting society.
What Manaka had left him in the end. Its meaning was one that Neito couldn’t really quite grasp. But…
He could no longer stand still. He could no longer leave things like this. Even if the path before him was too dark to see, he could only feel around for it as he preceded on.
He had wished for the world to change. He had walked forth for it. And when he did, so many things had begun to change around him.
Perhaps he it had been a mistake. But even so…
“… I am…”
Manaka left behind a ridiculously grandiose challenge, and left. I’ll have to think over it for as long as I have to press onwards.
But right now, there’s something more important.
“… Like hell I’d let it go down like this…!”
I’ll take down that Hero of Justice.
This isn’t for vengeance. That’s barking up the wrong tree right there. If I let that one go, then Manaka-san, and the rest of us will have been nothing but meaningless existences in the grand scheme of things. I can’t forgive that.
Neito didn’t actually know the reason for this mission, and he didn’t know what meaning it held in the big picture. Perhaps a day would come for him to take action after learning that reason.
But for now, as a single combatant, he didn’t want things to end this way.
“… I’ll do it. If I’m aiming for the big bad, then this much is…”
I’ll even fight your Hero of Justice.
It was the same sensation as back then. No, even stronger than that. Stronger than when he had threatened Eda into victory.
Neito discarded the uniform and protectors over his body. He was wearing a T-Shirt and khakis below. He tossed his uniform into the ocean, and stuffed the tranquilizer gun he had from the start into the space between his pants and him.
“I’ll be borrowing this, Manaka-san.”
He went on to take the Rifle Manaka had, and…
“Stop!!! Don’t shoot!! Please, spare my life!!”
Neito screamed out in a loud voice, before touching the gunpoint to his own left arm. With an exceedingly calm state of mind, he wrung out wrung out resolve from the whole of his body, and quietly pulled the trigger.
A gunshot resounded in the area.
The round gouged out the flesh of his arm.
It hurt just as much as he had expected. The pain caused him to roll across the ground.
“… Aaaah… Gwaaaaaaah!!”
He hadn’t his a vital. But a vehement pain raced across his body.
It’s no good. Rolling around in pain is good an all. But that should be an act, shouldn’t it?
Contain it. The pain, contain the anguish.
He gritted his teeth hard enough it felt his molars would snap. And he endured.
He’ll come. That guy will come. He’ll surely come. Because that one is a Hero of Justice after all.
The seconds of eternity he spent holding back the pain. Within his fading consciousness, in the corner of his vision, he saw him. Dylan.
A white warrior. He knew he would return. Because the hero would be certain there was no one here but Metallica’s members and himself. And so who was there to scream? Did a civilian wander in by chance? Or so he would think.
“… Hah… hah…”
Conveniently enough, blood had begun to spread out from the spot on his arm, making the wound look more severe than it was.
“!! Why…! Are you alright!? Sir!?”
He came at once. As expected. And Dylan undid his transformation to help Neito up.
Well of course. The transformed state had that much power in its body. There’s no way he’d lift up a heavily injured person with that. If handled poorly, he could fracture bones without the slightest intent. I do believe there was an incident like that quite a while ago.
“Sir!? Get a hold on yourself…! Why did this…”
Hmm. So he’s a cool, hard-boiled old man with the transformation off? I was sure he’d be a young handsome schmuck, but when you think about it, he did become active more than twenty years ago.
“… You can’t remain here. There are… Metallica soldiers… they suddenly shot at me…! I’m sure they’re still around…”
“It’s alright now! I’ll take you to the hospital at once…!”
The arm that lifted his body. It was strong and warm.
Ah, as expected, this guy really is a nice person. Well of course. By himself, he’s been fighting on for the sake of everyone, hasn’t he. But you see.
“The hospital can wait. After you’ve taken a good punch or two.”
His expression suddenly changed as he said that.
Without a moment’s delay, Neito drew the tranquilizer at his waist, and pushed it against Dylan’s chest.
He immediately fired.
A surprise attack at point blank. He had removed his transformation, and he didn’t even take a defensive stance. Metallica’s signature tranquilizer round that could take down large game in a single shot had hit the Hero straight on.
“…! Y…ou…!! Were… Metal..lica…?”
Dylan unsteadily separated form Neito, and with unsteady footing, he breathed his mind.
“Yeah. That’s right. As expected of a hero. You can still move after that?”
“… Damn… you. Underhan… ded…”
“Are you an idiot? I’m a flat out villain here. What’s wrong with me doing bad things?”
Neito himself helt he would pass out from the pain, but he frantically withheld it, and showed off a fearless smile.
“How ‘bout it? Is the medicine working? Now sweet dreams. After you’re down, me and my comrades will leisurely finish you off.”
He always had to show off composure. As an underhanded schemer who’d planned it all out.
Dylan squeezed out his strength, and ran off from the spot. HE had taken something that would knock out an elephant, so I never thought he would be able to run. What’s more, the bugger’s freakin’ fast. His movements, and the speed at which he decided to give up battle and flee.
“… So I couldn’t… bring him down…”
His stamina at its end from his loss of blow, Neito fell onto the ground. The sun had already set.
He instantly relaxed his mind. He was horridly tired.
“… Manaka… san…”
In the desolate quay, Neito whispered, and passed out.
On that day, Metallica’s other detachment was able to promptly suppress the research facility as planned. Without any interference from Dylan.
A single Miscellaneous newbie had confronted Dylan, and let alone surviving, he had even managed to repel him. It didn’t take long for such news to spread around within the company.