Below his eyes, the starry sky bustled and churned.
The town lights.
A symbol of humanity’s prosperity. Fearing the dark and triumphing over it, the lights the human lit were so dazzling, they didn’t fall short of the sea of stars in the heavens.
In the gap between heaven and earth, raising a thunderous roar, a herd of metal sliced through the thin clouds. From the transport chopper, Shouki gazed at the starlight above and below.
“Are you thinking about Suzuran?”
When the helicopter first rose, Clarica romped around having clearly not learned her lesson, but by this point, with nothing to do, it seemed she had calmed down.
“No… that’s not it.”
“You sure? I just hope nothing horrible’s happening to her.”
He shared the sentiment.
His sworn foe, Iori Takase— a man who didn’t see people as humans, taking no heed of man or woman, young or old. It was doubtful whether or not Suzuran was even being treated as the young girl she was. It wouldn’t be strange for him to think of even a girl like her as one of his organization’s assets.
‘Five minutes to landing! Prepare to sortie!’
The order from the control room kicked off dense footsteps inside the carrier.
Compared to the steel crane fly they rode in, the heavily armored warriors within it looked far too behind the times.
But not even rifle rounds could penetrate their steel plating, and it was impossible for even a thousand-degree burner to singe their white mantles. And the long swords hung at their waists could pierce rock like paper.
On the predominantly large shoulder plate on their left shoulders, the holy knight’s seal of crossed swords, along with the mark XI.
This was the eleventh order of holy knights, who had exterminated all pirate activity in the South Asia seas, and made fish food of the pirates under God’s name.
(Holy Knights… huh.)
Was it permitted to kill under the name of light and God? If asked, they would answer in one word.
The knights dragged along thick curtain-like mantles of pure white, standing rank and file with their bodies turned to the disembarking hatch. As close as he was to their black visors, he couldn’t make out the expressions that lay behind them. So lifeless, the sense he had taken command of a machine overwhelmed Shouki.
But shaking his head, the hero corrected his forehead protector.
Even now, there was no hesitation or waver in his resolve to save a single young girl. He carried with him the hilt of the sword that had accompanied him to the verge of death.
‘Three minutes to go!’
As if lifting the lid of a cauldron of hell, the hatch began to swing open. With the explosive noise of the rotor, the high-altitude chill flooded into the aircraft.
“Alright, now then…!”
Shouji stood to shout out his address when Clarica, standing to the side of the hatch let her long skirt and hair grandly flail in the air as she stuck up her fist.
“Listen well, men! You are all dogs of a holy crusade! All that vomit inducing training you undertook was for this day, and this day alone! Now take every evil doer you can find and kill, kill, kill, kill the lot of them! Fear not of sin, for your souls will be purified to his grace, and flown to his foothills!”
The Knights’ audacious roar hailed her.
“Clarica, what the he…”
‘One minute to go! Starting countdown!’
“Don’t lose your nerve! Any bloody degenerate who fails the landing will be seen as suicidal and left behind! Never again shall you partake in the bishop’s gratitude, a cold beer, and the kisses of a cute sister like me!”
‘Five, four, three… over landing point!’
“Alright, go get them! The time is here!!”
Whatever she was so happy about, with a bursting smile, Clarica pointed at the night sky. The knights jumped out with practiced movements, the flowers of their parachutes blossoming out under the moonlight. Heavily armored knights joined from the next chopper, and the next one.
“Go! Go! Go!”
As she spun her arms in circles and cried out, Shouki rested a hand on her shoulder.
Returning to her senses, Clarica bashfully scratched her temple.
“Nah, I always kinda wanted to try it out. Playing marine.”
Just a little. Seriously, it didn’t have to be by much, were there any more proper sisters around?
At that half-resigned thought, Shouki shook his head.
“No… just whatever.”
“Ya think? Then, I’ll be off too! Meet you at the bottom, Mr. Shouki!”
Following the final knight, with a little bunny hop—her jump without the slightest fragment of tension— Clarica was swallowed into the night sky.
Shouki converted his sigh into resolve before taking the dive.
(Wait for me, Agawa…!)
“Hmm. It’s raining idiots.”
In the classroom with the lights turned down, Iori peeked through his binoculars. Also clinging to the window, Suzuran watched the dandelion fluff-like flock of parachutes pour into the forest.
Not long after, the beating sound of a helicopter passed over the mansion.
“By our intel, roughly two hundred holy knights took flight. Their commander is the sham hero, and damn brat of the mortal realm, Hasebe Shouki. Apart from him, they’ve got the mad sister of the inquisition second division, Clarica.”
Returning to the teacher’s desk, Iori flipped on the lights.
A sign labeled ‘Briefing Room’ had been hung at the front of the room.
Suzuran took her seat with a nervous face.
To Iori’s side, Meeko was still looking out into the night anxiously.
Saho absentmindedly gazed into the room’s corners and the like.
Ripple-Rapple was peeling a mikan on her lap.
“Are any of you taking this seriously?”
The only one who reacted was Ripple-Rapple, who shook her head twice.
“It’s Arida mikan”
She held out one section of the fruit to show Iori, and proceeding to eat it herself, she stiffly nodded.
“Why is my company so…! Cursed with personnel!”
Only now did Suzuran end up sympathizing with his rage. Being a rag-tag group was one thing, but this was too much. They were up against the sort of trained soldiers who dropped in with parachutes, what’s more, would they really be able to fend off two hundred?
To add to that, all the members gathered apart from Iori were women (one of them a child of tender years). No, she didn’t get the feeling adding that doctor to the mix would accomplish anything.
“But Taki, you’re the only member of the company. No one else here’s getting paid.”
Meeko looked back at him.
This new truth that came to light didn’t even surprise Suzuran.
Meeko wasn’t human in the first place (she floated), Saho didn’t look like she used money, and Ripple-Rapple by all appearances hadn’t reached legal working age.
Not that she knew if the world of darkness had any labor laws.
“I’m well aware of that. But you can’t tell me you’re here for nothing. As long as you squat in my mansion, I’ll have you cooperate.”
“Well… already on for the ride. What’s going to start… a little amusing.”
Where did she get that confidence? Bold to no end, Ripple-Rapple stuck out her chest as she ate the mikan.
(Master might actually… have his share of troubles.)
“What’s with those pitiful eyes, Suzuran.”
“No, no, it’s nothing.”
“… Hmph. Very well. Then get to your stations. Fulfill the roles we discussed, nothing more.”
Ripple-Rapple left while stuffing her face. Meeko urged on a dazed-out Saho and led her out. And Suzuran remained.
After losing unconsciousness in the operating room, when she opened her eyes, she was sleeping at this desk. She didn’t hear any of the prior discussions to begin with.
No, before that.
“How about it, Suzuran? How does it feel to be reborn?”
At Iori’s words, she half-lamented that the belts and the doctor weren’t just some well-constructed nightmare.
“… Was the surgery a success?”
“Are you hurting anywhere?”
She wasn’t. She had to wonder if she was even cut and stitched up in the first place. No lingering sensation from the anesthetic or any sign of bandages.
“It doesn’t hurt but… was I really operated on?”
Leaning against the teacher’s desk, Iori proudly pushed up his glasses.
“Indeed you were. Your organs were quite a beautiful sight to behold. When the process was over, the doctor was panting heavily with a red face before he fainted in agony.”
Ah. I’ve been dirtied. I—or so, Suzuran felt the urge to take a shower.
“And did it succeed?”
“It was a huge failure.”
Suzuran stood, slamming down on the desk to express her anger. But a sound far greater than she anticipated caused her to look down. Like a collapsed bridge, the desk had broken in two. Right in the center of the two pieces, in the valley, there were cracks running down the floor tiles.
Unintentionally jumping back, Suzuran stared intently at her own palms that had caused this. But nothing was amiss. With the same hopelessly short life-line, they were the same palms she was so used to seeing.
“T-t… this is a failure!?”
“Yeah. The initial plan was to get you able to use one magic so you could understand its workings. But even he wasn’t able to control that demon lord stuff. The power he narrowly drew out won’t teach you jack… in short, he managed to enhance your physical parameters, apparently.”
“A… a hundred horsepower!?”
“Dream smaller. Let’s see. Try recalling that damn brat that’s getting here soon. You saw him fight, right?”
“Ah! So it’s like that?”
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hero she saw in the mist definitely displayed superhuman movements. This just might work out, she thought. It was far better than having a whirring drill attached.
Equipping the slender transceiver she received from Iori… being somewhat off-put by how it felt to wear for the first time, Suzuran exited the front door.
It was the sort of night where the moon sneered down at her. When spring had yet to arrive, the wind rather tepidly coiled around her body.
As she tread into the yard with wary steps, she could make out the ranks of silver armor sealed out by the gate’s lattice. Compared to Suzuran’s physique, they were more than a size longer.
(Schiste… they look strong…)
She had received two orders form Iori. To follow his instruction from time to time, and to stay on the premises without getting caught.
Now then, with their objective, Suzuran appearing before their eyes, they showed a slight fluster. “Sacred Priestess” or otherwise “Saint” or otherwise “Lady Suzuran”… those stately murmurs and whispers weren’t unpleasant by any accounts.
Conflicted by the delight she was being desired, and her misgivings that their numbers would soon be going down, Suzuran managed to maintain her rationality a little away from the gate and stopped in her tracks.
“Dear Saint. We are the knights who Bishop Ferriol has tasked with the mission of welcoming you.”
Outside the gate, the knights lowered their heads and kneeled, not a thread’s breath of dissonance.
“I humbly beg of you to come with us.”
“And… if I don’t… then…”
The one who had been presumably talking to her, a knight in the center raised his head, gazing at her from the depths of his dark visor.
“Then we will have to take rougher means.”
There was no hesitation in his words. But he didn’t share the sort of zeal Shouki brandished. Nor the humanity of the debt collectors. It was eerily cold, so to say.
Inside the armor was a robot… considering their surprise and unrest only a moment ago, that couldn’t be the case. Even if it did turn out so, Suzuran wouldn’t doubt it.
Should she become a saint, wouldn’t a world of nothing but these sorts prove rather irksome?
“But I do not wish to go. My… only desire is to return to a normal lifestyle. Master said I could go back. He made a promise…”
“I am not aware of what they have filled your head with,”
The one in charge of speaking drew his sword as he stood, the others standing with him.
“But no man may hinder the will of the Lord.”
One swing. The gate bars scattered a dazzling bolt of electricity as they were ripped in twain.
Iori did say Shouki was capable of cutting a car in two, but… it was evidently true. That sort of thing was possible in this world of darkness.
“A high voltage current. What pointless artifice.”
He calmly grabbed the still-sparking gate with his gauntlet-clad hand, wrenched it open, and forced his way in. Behind him, clink, clank, the metallic sounds sang in chorus, advancing on the yard in great numbers.
“I presume the plan was to use you to persuade us and send us back. While I must praise this so-called Iori for not fleeing before us, his means are far too vulgar. Now saint. Lady Suzuran. You shouldn’t let evil taint you any longer.”
Perhaps because it reverberated in his helmet and armor, his voice shook sonorously. Walking forth, he held out his hand.
“No, umm, s-seriously, please go home…”
“Do you fear punishment? Then you have no cause for concern. All evil shall be purified.”
“We are the warriors chosen by the lord. On this night, Iori Takase and his cohorts shall be purified by the sword.”
Suzuran could feel her head turn strangely serene.
She hated Iori. But before hate or dislike, these men belonged somewhere far, far away.
A voice from the transceiver. Suzuran reluctantly went along with Iori’s urgings.
“Don’t blame me! For whatever comes next!”
Suzuran turned her back to the men and made a straight dash for the front door.
They were surprisingly fast. Her own feet. It felt almost as if she was running on the wind.
(This is what he drew out… my hidden power…?)
But she could only be moved for an instant. .The knights gave chase. Despite all their grandiose equipment, their speed wasn’t much different from her own.
Excluding herself from the discussion, it was quite an uncanny sight to see a human being racing at such velocity.
It wasn’t just through the gate, there were even those who jumped over the close-to-five-meter-high gate. They must have split their forces beforehand and spread them out to infiltrate. From the left and right of the building, from three sides, the armors rushed in.
(Crap, crap, crap…!)
And Suzuran jumped towards the front door. Had this been the Olympics, her air time would be breaking records.
It was their folly that they had chased in file to give her no point of escape.
A pitfall. What’s more, one dug to surround the front of the house. The three encroaching sides of a square, at practically the same time, a perfect instant, disappeared from sight. Immediately, an explosion as if to surround that hole. Those who had come to a stop having witnessed those ahead of them were either sent flying or joined the sliding sand and dirt into the pit with the rest of them.
The trap’s depth was around twenty meters. Considering how Shouki didn’t die after flying off his bike, they were presumably fine… but escaping would be no easy task.
‘Good girl, Suzuran. Well done.’
‘Get back for now.’
Suzuran entered what Iori called a surveillance room.
There were no lights, the monitors occupying one of the walls serving as illumination. For every familiar place on screen, there was another that made her stop for a moment and wonder where exactly that was supposed to be.
“Kukuh. Those fools who only know how to smash. So much faith in their equipment, they fall to the simplest of hands.”
While she was confronting them, Suzuran had heard the story from Iori.
With their armor that exceeded anything one could imagine from the surface world, they would surround their enemies head-on, walking straight through gunfire as they completed the encirclement and destroyed. In the world of darkness where the holy knight name had spread, there were legends of how enemies would throw their hands up at the sound of just one of them unsheathing their blades. Of course, they never went as far as to detail their fates after the surrender—having actually seen them face to face, Suzuran had her hunches.
Right now, one of the screens projected the lobby. The knights who had escaped the calamity and leapt over the pitfall barged in. Standing stock still right in the center was a single maid wearing the same transceiver as Suzuran. A single sword at her hip. Her right eye was covered in a bandana, while her remaining left was gazing off into a completely irrelevant direction. The girl now surrounded was far too small and slender.
“Umm… should I go and help…?”
“I’m glad you’re on board, but I wouldn’t want you sliced up too.”
“Yes… understood, master.”
Now then, the knights did their best to try questioning Saho, but it wasn’t long before they knew something was off—Pulling their swords, raising them,
“Sergeant. You have permission to cut just their weaponry.”
Iori gave an order into the microphone.
When evil locked blades with the holy knights, there could be only one result—so once more, he raised his swords to retain the truth of those words.
“Understood, my lord.”
Finally waking from a stupor, the girl placed her hand on the hilt of her sword—at the sensation his weapon had slipped, the knight looked at his hands. Their hands that had been left gripping nothing but a stump of a hilt.
By the time he said it, the girl had disappeared from his sight. Only after that did the severed blade stab into the floor. His body wrenched around at a shrill, metallic sound. Another’s blade was severed, just as he thought. There were cuts on that one’s armor, as if the sword had carved out tracks in its wake.
“You’re telling me she can cut through tempered mithril!?”
Only fright remained to form words.
It was far too fast. If someone tried to swing, it happened before they got the chance, tried to brace themselves, it happened before they could even take a stance.
The girl’s curly hair fluttered, with the harsh turns her body took, her skirt flew high enough to expose her thigh. One eye shining gleefully, she sewed her way through the close formation of knights, severing their sword.
“What is she…!?”
The knight cried out. It must have been an hour or two. No. He had been there for less that a minute. In such a short period, the girl who had suddenly started grinning had mangled every blade in eyeshot.
From that moment on, her movements came to a complete stop.
Suzuran got a bad feeling from Iori’s murmur.
“Saho’s an honest good girl but… she gets like that once there’s nothing left to cut.”
“Then— then what do we do!?”
“Suzuran. What are your thoughts on seeing a few bodies cut in…”
Shake, shake, shake, she shook her head so hard the transceiver might fly out.
“Fine. Personally, I wouldn’t want my mansion getting dirty…”
On screen, the knights had perceived the situation, and while cautious, they had begun to approach the absentmindedly standing young girl. Even without swords, they were dealing with a girl. A man’s arm wrapped in sturdy metal armor was a dangerous weapon.
As Suzuran got the chills, Iori cried out with some bitterness.
“Fine, fine, no way around it! Deploy the secret weapon.”
“If you’ve got one, then use it from the st—”
Those were the last words Suzuran left in the surveillance room.
A hole opened up in the floor right below her.
“You’ve wasted our time! You have my pity, but make it proper in your next life!”
The moment before one of the knights could grasp Saho’s throat.
flying out of the atrium’s second-floor wall at a forty-five-degree angle, Suzuran was thrust right into the knights surrounding Saho.
A number of them were knocked over While Suzuran was left practically dying on the wayside, sprawled out and still.
‘Ha ha hah! Did you see that!? The Force of the Suzuran Missile!’
Regaining consciousness to the giddy voice of Iori from the transceiver, she sprung up while enduring pain here and there where the armor collided?
(See what… it was me!? I’m the one who was shot, and I’m the one hurting!)
‘By the way, our Suzuran Missile goes all the way up to Version 4, and it’s our company’s latest and greatest…’
“Stupid!! Stupid!! Taki you super idiot!! Drop dead, damn glasses!!”
Of course, the knights couldn’t hear Iori’s voice across the transceiver. But Suzuran’s exclamation resounded through the lobby. The eccentricities of the saint who suddenly rained down from the heavens had them at a loss for words. They had even forgotten to apprehend her as they rustled left and right.
‘Ahem… Suzuran. Agawa Suzuran. I just thought up the Suzuran Missiles up to Version 9.3. I’ve finished development to boot. Now we’ll have to do some live tests of each version, so how about you get back here?’
That was followed by teeth grinding, and the sound of something breaking with all his strength.
“You’ll never take me alive!!”
‘Then pick up Saho and run, you bloody simpleton!!’
Collecting Saho who was absentmindedly sitting on the floor, Suzuran dashed off. Her speed went without saying, but Saho’s body was as light as if she were carrying a pillow.
Meanwhile, around that time, the holy knights in the pit with their teamwork forged through indomitable fighting spirit and daily training, were steadily on their way to escaping this underhanded trick. Forming a human pyramid like a gymnastics team, they were surmounting the height.
The trap had taken two thirds, a great number out of the running. A deplorable tale, or perhaps fortunate, as they were in no shortage of hands.
“Dammit…! Hey, lieutenant. Don’t you think we should start bringing ropes and survival gear next time?”
“Perchance… nay, perish the thought, Captain Roger. Hup… to equip ourselves with such implements of the earthly realm will tarnish the dignity of… upsy daisy.”
“Indeed, there is sense to that… gnnn.”
But a height of twenty meters, while amazing to fall down, was just as fearsome to climb.
Were they trying to kill we chosen soldiers? Don’t they know the lord says thou shalt not kill? The stamina of the lower levels are also a concern. I must hurry… thought Roger.
“Oy, bottom level! Don’t shake! Alright, Lieutenant, stay there and don’t move…!”
Climbing up to the final level of the… it was too much trouble to even count how many levels there were… pyramid, he got onto the lieutenant’s shoulders and reached for the ground.
“Observe! The Lord’s grace is with me!”
With the general tenets of a chin-up, he stuck his head out of the hole… and there was a small girl. She had to be around five or six, quite an endearing little girl. And for some reason, that girl was dragging along a metal bat.
“… Who are you? You’re in the way, could you move?”
Hey calm down, the girl gestured as if to say, as she came up right to the bridge of his nose.
“You shouldn’t be up at this time of night. Where are your father and mother? To abandon such a small child… they know not that the Lord sees all!”
The girl continued to look down at his helmet, her lips quivering.
“You don’t have any parents? … Don’t tell me, it’s that man called Iori. He picked up an orphan to train her in his evil ways!? How vile! He be lower than a dog!”
“Roger, what are you mumbling about…? Hurry up, it’s getting hard to hold on…!”
“Y-yeah, no… anyways, you’re in the way! Kid, move! If you don’t step aside, you’ll face heavenly retribution!”
Once again, the girl tried calming him down. She gently lifted her metal bat.
“… What’s that?”
Once asked, she held it up to the moonlight as if she had to make sure herself… before turning back to the captain.
“It’s a metal bat.”
“I can tell that just by looking!”
“I didn’t ask.”
“Hit, strike, smack… this one simple tool can… do it all. Amazing, super bargain.”
Staring intently at the bat, expressionless as she was, the girl seemed somewhat satisfied.
“They all mean the same thing… wait, don’t tell me!?”
“Tonight’s Mizuno is a, little different. Good form.”
Fwoosh, she did a practice swing. She displayed a speed a little unbelievable from her young appearance.
“Wait! Give me a minute, we can reach an understanding!”
But… the girl said as she lightly tilted her head.
“No buts! Listen here! There are good things and bad things a human can do! What you’re about to do is the worst possible thing to come to pass since the Lord created the heavens and ea—!”
“Ca- captain…! Hurry…!”
“Stuff it! You call yourself a holy knight!?”
The captain was well aware of how his footing was becoming unsteady. But just one half-step off, and all his effort would pop like a bubble.
What to do… the girl wagged her bat as if to say.
“No, now, just put that thing down and step aside. You don’t have to be scared. We’re…”
“I see! That’s good, then…”
“It’s full force.”
It seems she was mulling over a tap or a smack.
“It’s Randy Johnson.”
“Randy Johnson is a pitcher…!!”
And the noise of armors tumbling down. The noise. The noise.
“… It’s too fun…”
The girl peeked into the depths of the hole as she nodded to herself. Expressionlessly. But as her words implied, enjoying herself quite a bit.
“How… zeh, zeh, what speed…”
The sacred priestess took off at a tremendous pace and disappeared down a corner.
“A-ah… haaah, haah, and how big is this place…”
The two knights out of stamina could only pant as they leaned against the wall.
In the first place, the heavy armor was protection in battle, and not meant for running. Their class-four protectors were heavier than most other knights. When it came to battle, the mithril-steel composite shields fastened onto their shoulders were reliable enough to reflect fifty caliber rifle bullets, but when running, they were nothing more than off-balanced weights.
That being the case, at the present time where it was impossible to measure enemy forces, it was far too dangerous to discard them. The one-eyed girl’s inhuman abilities spoke volumes. The moment her objective changed to carving up human flesh, or the moment an equal threat emerged…
One of them shivered.
He now understood why Bishop Ferriol was so obstinate when the captain asserted there was no need to trouble the hero. Though it was as of yet unknown why that sister with the gun was around.
“That sister called Clarica was cute…”
His partner said, perhaps thinking the same thing.
“I’ll say… if we manage to secure the saint, she might really kiss us.”
Touring nothing but bloodstained battlefields, when they returned to the temple, they inflicted a sharp discipline unto themselves. Surprisingly, she might have been added as a mascot to sooth their bloodthirsty hearts. The gun was surely just self-defense.
Leaving aside what couldn’t be resolved by mere thought, he took a step forward to give chase once more.
At the same time, the door right in front of him swung open.
Having annihilated and destroyed more than they could count, the knight prepared himself without any surprise, slipping his hand into the shields on his shoulders. Pull the emergency short sword or the throwing dagger… but.
Clang. With that sound, his partner crumpled down. Was the door a trap to draw his attention?
When he quickly turned around, a hammer with a long shaft, a bag on her back, a beautiful woman in a maid uniform—was floating.
“Wah! A demon!?”
Those concealing magic powers, inhuman entities taking on human form. They were literal demons. Among the many evils, they were placed on the highest pedestal, their strength rivaling that of the strongest holy knights tasked with guarding the cardinal himself—
While her face that seemed to express great lament made him wonder if she was the actual saint who would save the world… he couldn’t let his guard down. He had heard of this before. Her beautiful appearance, whether an illusion or the truth, was nothing more than the usual deceptive measures these vile fiends took on.
The knight couldn’t suppress his awe at the first demon he was facing. Even so, rather than his shield, he unsheathed his dagger.
“E… eat the blade of heaven!!”
“Err… I don’t want to.”
The knight fell down. Patting her chest in relief, Meeko bound the knights in the handcuffs she took from her rucksack.
“When I don’t want to be so violent…”
‘’But you have a contract with this house.’
She refuted Iori’s voice that came through the transceiver.
‘That’s not the problem. Bad things… are bad.’
‘I see. But it’s an evil organization. You have no choice but to do bad things.’
“Taki, splitting hairs. You used to be so cute.”
A little sullen, Meeko walked off.
‘Sorry, but I don’t remember the past… but strangely enough, I know who you used to be. Want to hear it?’
‘Right. There’s no way you’d want to hear. You erased the past at your own whim. And I don’t want to remember either.’
Meeko breathed a heavy, heavy sigh.
Another meanwhile, around then.
Undeterred, the holy knights were busy constructing their second pyramid. Peering inside when they had stacked up to quite a good point, Ripple-Rapple encouraged the two straining themselves to climbing the stack.
“Give up and… it’s over. Do your best.”
“You don’t get to say that!! Now listen here, don’t take a single step from there! A villain like you is in need of heaven’s spanking!!”
“Roger, what are you even saying… there we go. Heaven’s spanking… hupsy…”
“Shut up, Lieutenant! It’s because we let kids like this roam free that the future is heading towards destruction.”
Ripple-Rapple suddenly jerked her head up at the presence, to see two shadows soaring through the sky. Someone who still remained had cleared it over the trap. She stood and prepared herself to intercept. But one of them, a Sister stepped on her raised bat, kicking it down to perform a spin in the air and land. In that space of time, a young man had landed on the other side to pincer her in.
She ended up letting intruders through—
Driven to reflect on her mistakes, she tapped against her own head.
“Failure. Must express… disappointment.”
To the young girl who expressionlessly expressed her thoughts, the young boy opened his eyes wide.
“Oy, Clarica! You’re telling me this small child is part of Iori’s gang!?”
“Right ya are. She’s most likely a demon. Goes all up against the Lord’s might and all that. Hurry and get rid of her.”
Seeing the sister called Clarica pulled a large handgun, the boy called Shouki stood in her way.
“Wait, Clarica! What do you think you’re doing to such a small—”
After a jump, Ripple-Rapple lowered her metal bat with all her might. The target she silently struck was the boy who stuck up for her, Shouki.
Good grief, Ripple-Rapple shook her head.
“Got a long way to go, kid. Being swept away by temporary, cheap emotion… not good. Regret as you fall to eternal sleep.”
She nodded twice as she stood triumphantly.
“Oh right, umm… she’s right you know, Mr. Shouki.”
What? Ripple-Rapple took a step back out of sheer amazement.
She frantically checked the item in her hand. Did its cutting-edge dull?
No. There was definitely the Mizuno Logo, right as rain. It didn’t look like it had been tampered with… but this boy could eat that and stand? Impossible… no, it couldn’t be!?
“This is the rumored… hero.”
Ripple-Rapple nodded twice.
Shouki turned to her with teary eyes.
“That smarts… what a kid… even up against biker gangs, I’ve never taken one so hard … oww…”
“That’s the third world for you. This kid’s no slouch.”
“… So it seems.”
Seeing Shouki’s hand reach his hilt, Ripple-Rapple prepared herself. The enemy was mighty. It was probably no contest. But she couldn’t pull back here.
“After activating Kikusui number one, the orb breaks. I blow the… breath of God.”
“You’re… a bit of a strange one. But I don’t have the time to deal with you right now. Sorry.”
She held her bat up towards the hero’s sword. Putting all of her body weight into the pivot leg, she lightly raised her remaining foot.
“It’s pendulum swing.”
Not even granted the honor of locking blades, it was bisected right through its sweet spot. Ripple Rapple fell flat as if she struck out in the ninth inning, two down, bases loaded.
Looking into her empty grip, she shook her head twice.
“I lost… but it’s too late.”
She tossed aside her now-shorted bat on the spot.
“Fu fu fu,” she added on, expressionlessly in monotone.
“Say what? Are you talking about Agawa!?”
“By now, I’m sure… she’s already—”
A few minutes passed.
“— and all hot and sticky, panting for more. My slime will join in. It will be a huge panic.”
“Do you think this kid even knows what she’s saying… Mr. Shouki, your nose is bleeding.”
“Shut up!! Curse you, Iori!! I’ll never forgive you!!”
Angrily wiping away a trail of blood, the sword still in his grip, he charged towards the front door.
“He’s… simple head.”
“Wow! As expected of a hero, you consigned that vile weapon to oblivion!”
Finally climbing up, the captain poked his face out of the hole.
“Hey, sister, what are you standing around for!? Come over and help me!”
“… What are ya talking about? This is what you get fer ignoring Mr. Shouki’s orders, and charging straight in. Though I’ve gotta give thanks you were such a good footstool, scoping out all the enemy’s tricks. Oh, not to you, to the Lord.”
“What did you say, wench…?”
The captain’s voice calmed in rage. But in contrast, the sister’s tone was far more tranquil and cold.
“By the decree of Bishop Ferriol, full authority was granted to Mr. Shouki. You ignored that. This is more than enough to take as an act of heresy.”
“W… who do you think you’re…!?”
“Those of the temple who go against His will tick me off more than those who don’t believe to begin with.”
Clarica drew her gun. The captain’s head lay in a straight line of its barrel and sights. At this close range, it was a simple task to weave the bullet in through the gaps in his visor.
“Heaven is calling.”
With a well-wishing smile, the very moment before she pulled the trigger—Ripple-Rapple calmly walked into the line of fire and spread out her arms.
“Well, calm down… he climbed all the way up. His… unceasing effort should be… rewarded a bit.”
“I really will shoot. And wait, don’t forget you’re also a target.”
“Armor piercing and… frangibles and… holy bullets don’t… work on me. Come back with a dragon.”
“… Mr. Shouki went ahead. Can’t waste my time around here. But get in my way and you’re dead.”
Lowering her gun, she took out something like a pager and operated it. Upon seeing it, she ignored the front door, jumped over a trap, and started running along the wall of the building.
Phew, Ripple-Rapple made a gesture of wiping off sweat.
“It was dangerous.”
“I… I’m sorry, you saved me…”
As the captain spoke as if he’d looked death in the eye, Ripple-Rapple shook her head.
“Nothing to… worry about. Just didn’t want her to… take entertainment.”
“Entertainment…? Don’t tell me!?”
“You can’t… lose heart. Your tears make… you stronger.”
“It’s too fun…”
With one kick, Ripple-Rapple collapsed the pyramid once more.