Chapter 4: No Villain, No Hero
— You really pushed it there, you know that kid?
— Mia… Mia was… why couldn’t I stop her…
— When I first met you, I remember you were just as reckless. You haven’t matured in the slightest since then. From that moment you made it all the way to me, to avenge Gaimoon’s family…
— Nothing I did got through. The power you gave me… this suite, this mask, none of it… none of it could reach her…
— Don’t be so greedy. That was fine work for your first battle. You confronted Gaimoon’s daughter and returned alive. That’s a heroic feat no alter before you could accomplish. Not even me.
— Are you trying to console me… when you get down to it, this power is…!
— No matter how you swing it, this result was unavoidable. The sinner will one day receive their retribution. Those eight died as they were to die. I presume that this matter will have the Foundation try to restrain Gaimoon’s girl’s power. She won’t go berserk for a while.
— But that just means someday, Mia’s going to kill someone again. If I don’t have more, more power… if I had the same sort of alter power as Mia…!
— I told you. You were born with an antibody to alter cells. Even if you get a transplant, your body will reject it, and you’ll put your own life at risk. We’re not talking about some slim possibility. The probability of you becoming an alter is zero.
— Then how do I…
— An input interface mask, and output unit suit, the synthesis of them grants you the power of ‘absolute evil’, the Alchemuls System, ACM System for short. They activate with the ‘fear’ inside of you as the key. The reason being fear is the most primitive, the strongest impulse.
— How many times have I heard that… now’s not the time to listen to a lecture…!
— Start by taming your own fear. Confront your fear to maintain your ego. Do so, and the ACM system will acknowledge you as the ‘successor of Lord Helvenom’ and grant you power. The power that became why they called me the Alchemuls. You’ve yet to tame that power for your own…
— … You’re saying there’s still something more, with this suit’s power?
— Govern the weak alters. Become the evil of this town, Takeru. No matter what you may lose, as long as you can protect a single precious thing. As long as you wish for it, the possibilities are always open. What will you do?
— … Yeah, I’ll do it. I’ll pull it off. If that’s what’ll save Mia—
I’ll become the Alchemuls of this town.
Kanon absentmindedly sat on her knees.
She had been brought to the Second Lord Helvenom, Okina Takeru’s residence.
After that, once everything was set up and the evidence was cleaned, after Takeru and Kanon slopped out of the back door, Takeru told her.
“If you return to the dorm at this hour, it’ll only make you more suspicious. Let’s return home for the time being. I’ll have to think about your treatment as well.”
Treatment. Hearing that word, Kanon finally came to realize she had learned too much. A secret she must never know. Lord Helvenom’s identity and objective, and the crime he committed.
In the end, would she be killed after all?
Whichever the case, it was clear she had gone where there was no return.
She was brought to a Japanese-style manor in the high-class residential district of the Meshie ward.
An overly sociable, kimono-clad beauty came out to greet her.
“It is a pleasure to be of your acquaintance, I have the honor of looking after this residence. My name is Fuwa Akemi. I’ll contact the dorm, so no need for you to worry. Oh my, just look at those clothes. Come now, please get into the bath at once. I shall prepare a change for you. When something bad happens, getting yourself tidy is always a good start.”
Pushed by Fuwa Akemi’s momentum, Kanon was pressured into a bath, stripped out of her grimy one-piece dress, and by the time she noticed it, she was dressed up in a yukata. It wasn’t as if that put her at ease, but she could feel her rigid heart soften a bit.
And now, Kanon was invited into a vast Japanese-style room. Tea left on a long table. To the side was a single elderly woman in a wheelchair.
“I heard the story from that kid. Pleasure to meet you, I’m Takeru’s grandmother Chiyo. Hope we get along.”
“Ah, good evening… I’m Sakurai Kanon…”
Akami had retreated into the kitchen to prepare tea-cakes. After going to his room on the second floor, Takeru showed no signs of coming out.
Warm steam rose from the teacup. But Kanon couldn’t find it in her to take it in her hands.
The killed Mizumachi Sawako. Those eyes of resentment the moment she died, even now it was burnt into her head, and she couldn’t get it out. Unconsciously, Kanon was gripping her rosario.
“Hmhmm, do alters nowadays offer prayers to the human god?”
When Kanon reeled in surprise, Hmph, Chiyo rung her nose.
“Don’t be so startled. Did I not say it? I heard the story.”
“M-my apologies… umm, is it strange… for an alter to pray to god…”
“Ah, that’s not what I meant. I was simply intrigued. At the very least, none of the first gen ever took an interest in human religion.”
Chiyo said, somewhat nostalgically.
“They believed in but one thing, the Lord of Alters presiding over Leviathan, Lord Helvenom. Only in this town’s incarnation of Alchemuls.”
“Lord Helvenom… Alchemuls…”
Kanon thought back to the question she got when talking with Tsumugi in the morning.
“Ah, umm, if you know it, could you tell me… what does Alchemuls mean? No matter where I searched, the word didn’t come up.”
“… Oh, the meaning?”
Chiyo took a sip of tea.
“There’s no such thing.”
“For the alters who didn’t believe in god, I went and made it up. A new symbol was necessary to gather the alters. A new word worthy of Lord Helvenom. One of those so-called self-produced career things. Going with the tastes of the alters at the time, I even gave myself some grandiose name like Lord Helvenom. Haha, in this day and age, perhaps it’s what you’d call ‘edgy’?”
Aside from a taken-aback Kanon, Chiyo heedlessly sipped her tea.
This elderly woman before her eyes was that legendary existence, the First Lord Helvenom.
Okina Takeru’s claim to be the ‘second’ was no fabrication.
“I-if you’re the first Lord Helvenom, Chiyo-san… then that person’s also a powerful alter and…”
“Nah. He’s just a normal human. He didn’t even know I existed until six years ago, and he barely had any relations with alters. Just the sort of brat you’d find anywhere, that kid.”
“Just a brat…”
The one called himself Lord Helvenom was a young boy practically the same age as herself.
That young boy brought about a serious of incidents, even killing someone dear to save her.
“Why did that person… save me… I mean, to him, she was someone precious…”
“To further his goal.”
Chiyo unempathetically informed her.
“That’s how he’s been trained. Just as Gaimoon is set up to exterminate Malice, that kid’s been trained to sever his emotion and reason for the sake of his goal. Otherwise, he could never serve as the Alchemuls.”
“Goal…” Kanon timidly said. “That’s to save Gaimoon, isn’t it.”
The doctor had said it.
To the Second Lord Helvenom, the Second Gaimoon was a precious person, and someone he needed to protect. For Gaimoon’s sake, Takeru became the enemy of the Hero. Takeru himself conceded it as well.
But at the time, Takeru also said this.
To change Alter society. To bring victory over Gaimoon. That was Takeru’s objective.
“Please tell me… what is he trying to do? Where is he going to lead us?”
“Instead of me, don’t you think you’re better off asking him directly?”
Saying that, Chiyo directed her pure-white eyes at the ceiling.
Takeru presumably on the second floor still hadn’t come down.
Kanon had heard almost every word of his conversation with the doctor.
The emotions Takeru spat out were too distant from some absolute evil. She couldn’t think he was someone who couldn’t feel pain.
“There’s nothing in this world that’s absolute. When there’s no definite definition for evil or justice, there’s no way you could possibly top it off with ‘absolute’; even an elementary schooler knows that”
Chiyo’s words were almost a prayer to god, or so Kanon heard them.
“… Even so, that kid needed it for his goal. To become the illusion of an absolute evil.”
Takeru sat unmoving on the bed, all the while gazing at the television playing in the dark room. The screen showed Sawako’s half-burnt clinic.
‘At 20:00 last night, a clinician with a private practice Mizumachi Sawako was murdered, and her residence was set on fire. From the traces left at the scene, the police see it as an incident perpetrated by an alter, and investigations are underway. Questioning is being carried out on local high school girl who found the body.’
The news was reporting Sawako’s case as a major incident, and it was spreading across the net as well. The name of Lord Helvenom hadn’t come up yet. It appeared they were keeping it under wraps in fear of a panic.
But the first one on the scene, ‘local high school girl’ undoubtedly got the message.
His hand on the bed brushed up against something hard. The Ward Rabbit.
The documents he had seized from Mizumachi Sawako’s house were stacked high on his bed. Gaimoon’s clinical record, prescription drugs, the computer’s HDD, the bugged ward rabbit.
No matter how much time he had, it would never be enough to analyze it all.
Takeru stroked the back of the ward rabbit as he thought.
He wouldn’t have to worry too much about the police. The incendiary device had incinerated the evidence. Leviathan’s unmissable message thrust at them should disturb the investigation.
Therefore, there were three problems he had to consider.
The actions of the Foundation, Ecole/Sakurai Kanon’s treatment, and Gaimoon’s movements.
— She’s got us, hasn’t she? Me and you, we’ll protect Mia together.
Takeru didn’t know the state of affairs of the Foundation.
Still, the other side must surely have noticed the existence of an opposing power. How much did Mia know about it? In yesterday’s day, of at least all he could glean from their conversation, she didn’t seem to know too much.
The hint was hidden within these documents. No choice but to analyze them before the opponent makes a move.
— I’m the same as you. I want to save Mia. Not as a hero, I want her to live as a normal girl. Our wishes are the same.
What would he do about Sakurai Kanon’s treatment.
Naturally, he should let her live. It would be quite troublesome if she wasn’t alive. Takeru had yet to gain the trust of Arachne’s group. In such a situation, if Ecole disappeared, the suspicious levied at Lord Helvenom would become conclusive.
Even so, Kanon couldn’t accept Lord Helvenom’s identity or objective, and if she was to tell everything to her comrades, he’d have to cross that bridge eventually.
— I don’t want you to become Mia’s enemy. Now and here on, I want you two always smiling. Even if it’s just a sweet dream.
And the biggest problem was Gaimoon.
He hadn’t been contacted by Mia. As she was the first to find the body, she was quite likely still in police custody. The incident had become such big news. For at least a while longer, she’d be restrained at the station for police questioning. Was she being crushed by her anxieties right around now? Was she stricken with sadness? Was she seething in rage?
Absence of an enemy, Sawako’s death, how these components would influence Mia, and whether they would pull the trigger to a ‘rampage’ was unknown. But in a sense, there was no better time to defeat Gaimoon than now.
The time had finally come for him to appear before Gaimoon as an enemy.
His actions would have to be chosen with haste.
— No matter what evil you become, no matter what monster Mia becomes, I’ll always be your ally.
His thoughts could never stop. Like a shark that must swim until its breath ceases.
Do nothing but think. Think. Keep thinking.
At this very moment, that was the sole means Takeru had to maintain his self.
A tapping came at the room to the door.
Takeru stopped his hand stroking the ward rabbit.
“Come in,” I called out.
“Umm… it seems the tea is ready… how about it…?”
The one who entered was Kanon. Without turning, Takeru answered in Lord Helvenom’s tone.
“Leave me alone for now. There’s still something I must process.”
“… That’s right, after something like that happened…”
“Henceforth, the situation shall shift greatly. I’ll be having your group move soon.”
For some reason, he sensed Kanon swallow her breath.
Takeru continued to speak as Lord Helvenom.
“With the collaborator killed, Gaimoon’s war potential has been greatly depleted. There is no finer opportunity for an attack. Early tomorrow morning, I shall assemble Arachne and the others. Hurtle and Murtle went off on their own last mission, but this time, to repress them with Terreur, I shall go out onto the front line.”
He stuck an invisible mask of evil of his face.
The mash sunk deep under his skin, all the way to the depths of his heart, trying to assimilate.
The black skull. Carrying an expression of wrath, an evil skull.
“We’ll need some candidates for the perfect stage. I’ll have to search for where the police can’t enter, yet easily catches the peoples’ eye. Let me show you, Ecole. Before long, a new history for the alters shall begin. We will triumph over Gaimoon. Once that happens, I will become evil. An absolute, unwavering evil—”
A gentle warmth suddenly transmitted across Takeru’s back. Black hair like silk draped over his shoulders.
“… Please, just stop.”
Kanon at his back repeated in a sham voice.
“… I’m sorry, I, didn’t know anything… that you were fighting with such wounds… I didn’t know…”
“I’m not wounded in the slightest. Lord Helvenom is the ruler feared by alters. The ruler feels now…”
“In that case, why are you crying?”
At that moment, Takeru finally noticed.
He noticed his knees were terribly soggy. A warp droplet crossed his cheek before falling in succession with another. From when were they flowing? Takeru couldn’t remember.
Sawako’s dead face that would continue to echo in his brain.
He had become self-aware. Of his feelings, his guilt, his weakness as a human.
You cannot show your true face.
You cannot expose your true heart.
A mask. You must reequip the mask on your heart.
Right now, you are not Okina Takeru.
You are Gaimoon’s enemy, Lord Helvenom…
“With that pain you shouldered, my life was saved… it’s because of the choice you took that I’m here alive… that alone is enough…”
Kanon’s hand touched Takeru’s own.
Pale, slender, the soft hand overlapped with Takeru’s own hands that had ended Sawako’s life.
No different from a human like his, a simply pretty hand.
“Truthfully, even now, I can’t accept it… what you’re trying to do, setting us up as evil and dragging us around for your own convenience. It’s selfish, you really are the absolute worse…”
Kanon spoke in a wrung-out voice.
And not as Lord Helvenom, she spoke to him as a single human.
“But still, I must shoulder this pain with you… until these eyes see the new future for alters you promised, and Gaimoon’s defeat, I’ll continue to fight as Leviathan’s ‘evil’ with you…! I mean, that part wasn’t a lie, was it?”
“… If you tell your comrades about me, I’ll be ruined. You can return to a life unconnected to ‘evil’ and live normally. You’re saying you’ll deny yourself that?”
“We’re accomplices. Whatever the reason, we killed Mizumachi Sawako. I’m already ‘evil’. I can’t return to a normal life… I don’t intend to…”
Was all Takeru said.
Accomplices. Not comrades, or friends. Those who shared the same crime.
Takeru was aware of his own weakness. He realized his own weakness in feeling saved by those words.
He turned back.
Right behind him, Kanon’s eyes were red as she opened her elegant lips. She didn’t look the slightest bit evil, to that normal girl the same age as him, Takeru sent a powerless smile.
“… I’m Okina Takeru. I’ve never introduced myself like this, have I?”
This wasn’t a corpse, it was Takeru’s voice.
A time later, Kanon forcibly returned the smile.
“Sakurai Kanon. I finally got to meet your real face. But why are you speaking formally?”
“I’m younger than you, Sakurai-senpai.”
After ruminating, Kanon burst into laughter. She answered while laughing through her tears.
“How strange, to think I’m that Lord Helvenom’s ‘senpai’…”
“When it comes to legends, take off the mask, and that’s what you get.”
Takeru, Mia, and all the alters lived wearing a mask.
Even so, not one person could live wearing it all their life. If they forgot their real face, then surely they’d forget all sorts of other things.
“… I’ll contact Arachne-san and the others tomorrow morning. There’s something I want them to do.”
“… And what’s that?”
To an anxious Kanon, Takeru strongly nodded.
“I wasn’t wallowing in desperation back there. I was simply considering the optimal hand.”
“So let’s put one. One of those battles between justice and evil—”
By the time she noticed it, the morning light streamed in through the reception room window.
When she awoke, Mia was wrapped in a blanket. She must’ve fallen asleep on the sofa at some point. A night had passed since her questioning at the station. She had been held up as the first on the crime scene, and someone who knew the victim well.
Clip, clap, she heard the boisterous sounds of feet from the hallway. The officers raised angry yells as they raced around. But Mia listened to it as someone else’s business as she gazed at her fist.
“… Sawa-chan is… dead.”
That fact didn’t carry a sense of reality.
For the past night and now, nothing but that message stuck to Mia’s brain.
Written on the waiting room wall, that message that could be taken as a declaration of war.
By the police’s words, some clinical records, drugs, the computer’s hard drive, various things had been carried off. Thanks to that, no evidence that Mia was Gaimoon remained, and naturally, the police didn’t notice Gaimoon and Mia, or Sawako’s relation.
Still, when Mia heard those words she reached a conviction.
Sawako wasn’t murdered by some thrill killer or a passing kaijin.
The culprit knew Sawako was Gaimoon’s collaborator. That’s why they killed her.
In that case, it would mean Sawako’s death was unmistakably Mia’s fault.
She held anger towards the alter. Sorrow as well.
But the greatest thing constricting her heart right now was an extraordinary sense of helplessness.
Even with Gaimoon’s power, she could never protect the precious people right beside her. Now, and six years ago.
“What Hero of Justice…”
She couldn’t even shed tears. IT felt like a hole had been left gaping in her chest.
“I can’t protect anything, not a single thing can I…”
Malice would always visit with no forewarning. And with no mercy, it would steal those precious people from Mia. Her maman, and Sawako too. If she was a hero, now was the time to make a stand.
But Mia couldn’t see who she was supposed to fight. She couldn’t know who to swing these fists at.
Mia muttered the name carved into that message.
The founder of Calamity Co. Leviathan, Lord Helvenom.
Once the incarnation of evil in this town, and Gaimoon’s arch-nemesis she had defeated three years ago.
The police seemed to be thinking of it as a means to divert the investigation, but Mia couldn’t help but think of that message as a declaration of war towards her. She felt in it an ominous will to thoroughly crush her.
Mia held up her smartphone as if clinging to it. No contact from her childhood friend either. Had he yet to see the news? For now, she very much wanted to hear Takeru’s voice.
“Take-chan… Sawa-chan died… what am I supposed to do…”
The moment she muttered it, the phone in Mia’s hand vibrated.
A call from a withheld number. Doubt in her mind, Mia took the call.
‘Did you see my message, my beloved hero?’
She heard from the speaker a muddled, cold tone.
Mia couldn’t move as if she was frozen to the spot. She inquired in a shaking voice.
“… Who is this?”
But no response. She couldn’t even hear the sound of breathing. In her panic, Mia asked another question.
“… Answer me. Are you the one who killed Mizumachi Sawako?”
‘Look at the news. That should answer your question.’
Mia hurriedly switched on the TV in the waiting room. When she changed to a local channel, it was playing a relevant news report.
Perhaps reporting at the scene, the reporter stood on a familiar roadway, gripping the microphone with a nervous look on her face. Over the great many onlookers, the camera frantically tried to focus on the building behind the reporter. Something had been scribbled over the surface.
A symbol of two snakes coiled around a crescent moon.
‘Yes, I’m here at the scene. As you can see, graffiti such as these have been sighted on buildings all over Tsukimori City. According to our specialize, this marking is exceedingly close to the crest once used by Calamity Co. Leviathan, and police are investigating if this has any relation to the murder of a private clinician last night in the Teiko Ward…’
Mia now knew the reason the police station was so flurried.
She also knew this was no mischief. The other party across her phone informed her.
‘Tomorrow, Seven pm, I’ll be waiting for you on the rooftop of the Tsukimori MAT Building. Until then, content yourself with imagining. The forms of the children who will cry at Mizumachi Sawako’s death. The forms of the people who shall cower at our terror.’
Mia looked at the TV as she quietly listened to their words.
All the onlookers projected back looked fearful. They feared an encroaching evil.
“What’s your name?”
The other party responded as if singing a song.
‘… You should know it. I’m your enemy, Gaimoon.’
The call was abruptly cut.
Mia tucked her phone away and spat out a great big breath.
The sorrow and the rage hadn’t gone away yet.
But that unremedied helpless alone has faded.
She has an enemy she must fight. An evil she must defeat.
In that case, now is the time to stand. Mia muttered to herself.
“— Gaimoon, go.”
The Tsukimori MAT Building was the name given to a high-rise close to completion.
It was a fifty-story building, and numerous major corporations and business ventures were scheduled to set up offices inside it. Apparently, the idea was to root it as a new center for industry in Tsukimori City.
Perhaps because it was already close to completion, a majority of the construction workers had gone home by sunset.
The full moon in the sky shone white to a terrifying extent.
“Does he really plan on going up against Gaimoon directly, that black skull?”
Lemeo’s eyes shifted nervously as he licked his lips.
At present, Ecole, Lemeo and Hurtle were on standby in the building’s first floor lobby.
Arachne and the others were on a different team, leaving Leviathan’s symbol here and there across town. Ten minutes to the ‘decisive battle’. The plan was to meet up before that.
“In the first place, isn’t this way too sudden? Just messaging us this morning to scribble out Leviathan’s mark. Since when did we turn into mischievous brats?”
“Hurtle… wanted to sleep more… I hate that guy.”
Hurtle discontently tapered her lips.
Ecole attempted to mediate them.
“… Let’s try and believe. At the very least, that person won’t break his word on his goal. His will to defeat Gaimoon is no lie, I think, so…”
“? Ecole-nee-chan, did something happen?”
“… No, nothing.”
Ecole looked up at the dim ceiling.
She thought of Lord Helvenom standing many stories above.
She thought of the figure of the young boy, wearing an evil mask, trying to hold an unreasonable confrontation.
Ecole had ended up learning. Just how brittle the warmth of an everyday is, and how easily it crumbles away. In the time she thought she was to be a victim, before she realized it, she had easily circled around to the side of the assailant.
She was already standing on the stealing side. She would never be able to escape this sin.
The moon continued to shine as dizzying as ever. On justice, on evil, it illuminated them all equally. The time for the battle would soon be upon them.
The roof of Tsukimori MAT Building was made into a helipad.
Takeru stood at the center of the descent point where a giant H was drawn out.
The suit he wore and a crows-wing-colored coat. But he didn’t wear his mask.
The mask and suit he put on were, so to speak, the door to reach Lord Hlevenom. The basis of all of it was Takeru’s will, and the Alchemuls System—the ACM System.
Akutsu Chiyo had developed it, a sacred sword to crown the Lord Helvenoms of generations to come. The means for Lord Helvenom’s power of Alchemuls were all implemented into this set.
‘The ACM System is a sort of self-expanding AI. AI it may be, but it’s not got a will like those ones you see in cheap SF movies. Imagine it like a memory expansion. The memory of the brain called Okina Takeru is linked up to an external network containing my thoughts and memory, does that make it simpler?’
Six years ago. With her crimson hair swaying, her standing form brimming with vitality, Akutsu Chiyo told him so.
‘If you use the ACM System, then perhaps someday, you’ll gain power rivaling my own. But don’t forget. Whenever you utilize the system, the system will be perpetually judging you. When you peer into the abyss, the abyss peers back, they say. If you want your wishes granted, first try and master this one. Otherwise, you’re never going to be able to kill me.’
At first, he intended to kill Chiyo, the First Lord Helvenom.
To take revenge for Mia’s mother, and Mia.
The father he lost at a young age had been a police detective charged with alter investigations, and a few of his memos had been left around Takeru’s house. After Mia left, he relied on those memos to continue the investigation, and arrived at the First Lord Helvenom.
A crossroads in Tsukimori City. It was there that Takeru first came into contact with the red skull.
Of course, an elementary school student had no way of matching the immense power of the lord of alters. And yet the First Lord Helvenom had taken an immense interest in Takeru.
Right around that time Akutsu Chiyo had been searching for someone who carried her own blood.
‘If they want to inherit my power, they’ll need a caliber great enough to inherit my blood, after all.’
The First Lord Helvenom—Akutsu Chiyo said, and happily gave Takeru the suit and the mask, the Alchemuls System.
“If you want to defeat me, you’ll have to tame your own fear. Once you can do that, you might just become someone who surpasses this Alchemuls.”
But in the end, the First Lord Helvenom faced defeat at the hands of Gaimoon.
Takeru looked up at the night sky.
The pure-white glimmer of the moon would soon be hidden by a passing cloud. The coat he wore over the suit made a flapping sound as it fluttered. It seemed the winds were picking up a bit.
With the very power of evil he obtained to avenge Mia, he would be opposing her.
The key that opened the ACM System door, ‘Memories of Fear’.
As he was now, Takeru was in no scarcity.
Attacked by alters, Mia lying unconscious on the bed. Running away from home for revenge, the culprits, the three kaijin he met wandering the city, the First Lord Helvenom who came for them with the form of a red skull, the returned Second Gaimoon and the Meteor Seminar tragedy she brought about, the murdered students, the burning building, himself not able to do a thing. Yesterday, the dead face of Sawako, who he stabbed with his own hand. Sawako’s blood pool, spreading wide across the linoleum floor.
It was all for what he had lost to this moment. And for what he would lose hereon.
Takeru put on the mask with the shape of a black skull.
Sensing him equip it, the startup message displayed over the visor.
I am Alchemuls.
I do not forget.
I do not forgive.
Quiver and wait for my coming.
As if to redefine who it was that put it on.
It was a composition meaningless to the system itself, but that was precisely why it hammered a strong wedge into the wearer’s chest.
Takeru walked down the heliport and stopped by the edge.
The night Tsukimori City he could see across the see-through visor. The streets painted in gaudy neon were now cowering. They were cowering at an approaching shadow of evil.
“… Hurry up, Mia.”
Takeru looked up at the sky. While he wasn’t looking, the moon had been hidden by clouds.
“Your enemy is right here. Come and see the evil you’re supposed to fight.”
Natural enemy of evil, Gaimoon.
Imagining the figure of that white rabbit, Takeru thought.
How might I blow away the moon?
Omou Mia—Gaimoon leapt from building to building as she made for Tsukimori MAT.
The transmission device in her mask had been cut. Usually, Sawako would issue out orders, but now she had no one to support her.
Mia was alone. In the truest sense, she was on her own.
But this was by no means revenge. She wasn’t going to fight for the dead.
It was Justice. She would fight for justice.
Gaimoon stopped. Her destination point, Tsukimori MAT was in sight.
She gazed up at the skyscraper towering over the city. The building she was on at the moment was ten stories. The rooftop of Tsukimori MAT was more than forty floors away.
In the first place, Tsukimori MAT was still under construction. It was hard to imagine the electricity was running. What’s more, there was a possibility of alters lying in wait inside.
So there, Gaimoon thought a moment.
The building’s windows were placed at set intervals, and they were equipped with ledges.
A large deep breath.
Gaimoon leapt straight towards the building.
Shaking off gravity to hurl out her body, Gaimoon collided with the building wall. Her fingers caught the slightest protrusion of a window ledge. Immediately dragging her body up, she rested her legs on the ledge.
Her exquisite sense of balance kept her upright without difficulty.
And immediately came her next action. A fence, a handrail, or perhaps a water pipe as a foothold, Gaimoon nimbly clambered up the high rise building.
The white moon reflected back in her eyes. Watching it hide away behind a passing cloud, Gaimoon placed her hand on the edge of the helipad.
Beyond it, her enemy. An evil to defeat.
Gaimoon shook her body up and down before delivering a powerful kick to the wall.
Her body spun with her hands at the axis. Releasing her grip, Gaimoon shot up in the air, drawing a parabola in the air like a gymnast.
Like that, her body rose onto the pad, landing her right in the center of it.
A single man sat by the edge.
He wore a coat, the color of crows’ wings. With his back directed at her, he didn’t attempt to turn.
“… I presume you’re the one who called me.”
The man wearing the crow-wing suit stood.
In that instant, the scream of the world came to Gaimoon’s ear.
Her eyes couldn’t catch it. It wasn’t as if the man’s form had changed.
But Gaimoon’s nerves perceived the abnormality of the man before her eyes.
Hostility like a sharp blade. Malice that made her hairs stand on end.
As if a ferocious field of fear was being generated with this man at the center.
“Have you ever wondered if we’re a form of symbiosis?”
The man asked back.
No heat, no emotion, the voice of a corpse.
“Both me and you, we can’t live on without someone to fight. Detesting one another, exchanging blows, we exist in this world through dependence on the other. Such is the true identity of our relation. Now what have you to say of such a fate?”
The man’s words held no anger. Sorrow was a dream.
It was as if he wasn’t of this world, an existence like a ghost.
A breath of wind blew.
After a momentary stillness, Gaimoon quietly answered.
“I don’t depend on you. We’re far too different, me and you—that’s why,”
The clouds slowly pass. Without the slightest sliver lost, the full moon peeked out its face.
“I’ll end you here and now.”
The man turns. For the first time, Gaimoon sees his face.
It’s the same as she remembers, an empty skull.
It’s not the red one, a jet-black skull this time.
“Good evening, Gaimoon. I’ve been waiting for you, my beloved hero of justice.”
The black skull calls out. So Gaimoon speaks the name of the black skull.
“Good evening, Lord Helvenom. I’ve been searching for you, the source of evil I must defeat.”
Leader of Calamity Co. Leviathan, a secret order of Alters Gaimoon once defeated.
Was he the same as the one she defeated three years ago? Someone else? She couldn’t tell.
All that was certain was that this black skull was an uncanny existence deserving of the name Lord Helvenom—the absolute evil.
Lord Helvenom bombastically spread out his hand.
As if to welcome his enemy Gaimoon.
“Now, won’t you accompany me, Gaimoon? To the proper conclusion of good and evil.”
A sound roared out as if to tear through the sky.
as if lifted up on cranes, the form of multiple helicopters showing face from below.
Slipping into the backlight of the helicopters, Lord Helvenom’s body disappeared for a moment.
Each craft carried the mark of a television station. They were news copters.
“… Did you blow the whistle?”
“Do you know the ratings they got for the bus jack the other day? To the people, your fight with the alters is the finest show. The more spectators the better, right? Now have a look over there.”
Lord Helvenom indicated the opposite building.
Like a live show was being held, a crowd of audience-like people had gathered.
“You mean to tell me this fight is a show?”
“And this stream of incidents was a buildup to this show?”
“… Who killed Mizumachi Sawako?”
Lord Helvenom placed a hand to his chest in an exaggerated motion.
“Naturally, that was me.”
“… I see.”
Until she came here, there were a mountain of things she wanted to ask.
But those questions didn’t matter anymore.
What she would do was already decided.
“—You alone, here, now…”
Gaimoon clenched her fist.
Electricity released from the cells across her body, contracting muscles, condensing power.
Approximately six meters to Lord Helvenom. He was sufficiently within range.
Gaimoon placed a wish into her fist. She put in a prayer.
“—I’ll bury you!”
The fist was released.
With that momentum, the electromagnetically accelerated cluster of ‘electric bullets’ shot from her fist.
Formed from Alter cells, a total of twelve biological bullets, impossible to follow with the eye.
The speed of the bullets was great enough to breach the atmosphere, even the sturdiest kaijin was helpless. To add to that, the electric shock that came with them. No kaijin had endured a followup attack after taking one of them on.
Even so, Gaimoon remained warry.
As she shot, she was already moving into her second motion.
The greatest chance was the enemy’s stance as they avoided the bullet. Would they duck or jump to the side? Whatever the case, the moment they avoid it births the largest chance. There, she would hammer in a kick with all her might.
No need for unnecessary thought.
Here now, reliable bring down—
The next instant, a sharp something tore into Gaimoon’s cheek.
It took a beat to realized it was a biological bullet hit back.
“Did you think I couldn’t see through your bullets?”
Before she realized it, Lord Helvenom’s had gripped a cylindrical weapon in each hand.
While at a glance they resembled tonfas, they were furnished with bizarre complex mechanisms. Rather than tonfas, they could be seen as black claws.
Her bullets let off smoke rolling across the floor. No way, Gaimoon was taken in shock.
You mean to tell me he hit them all down with those tonfas?
The deviation born in her thoughts. That was the chance.
Lord Helvenom approached before her eyes.
Gaimoon abruptly took on a defensive stance.
Right after she crossed her arms in front of her chest, an explosive impact assailed her, mercilessly blowing her back. No time to even exhibit the strength of her legs, without any course of action, she rolled along the floor.
Gaimoon lifted up her body, short of breath. The pressure coiling about her made it difficult to move her body as she wanted. She was being dragged into her foe’s rhythm.
Lord Helvenom readied his pair of black fangs.
In her eyes, it truly was the huge dragon trying to swallow Tsukimori City that she saw.
“—Bear witness and tremble at my form, people of Tsukimori.”
Lord Helvenom shouted. In the voice of a corpse, as if holding deep-seated resentment.
Perhaps noticing that, the audience on the opposite building began to direct their eyes his way.
“My name is Lord Helvenom, the ruler of this town, the leader of Calamity Co. Leviathan!”
Lit up by news copters, the two opposing figures projected back at them.
Gaimoon slowly stood, having recovered from the impact.
“Don’t make light… of this town’s justice, Lord Helvenom!”
And Gaimoon rushed out. To take down evil. To take revenge. Charing her body with her own mayhem.
Around the time the battle between Gaimoon and Lord Helvenom had begun.
The forms of officers clad in assault suits were infiltrating the MAT Building lobby.
These men field team of the Tsukimori City Police HQ Special Police Force.
Gripping automatic pistols, readied with small bulletproof shields, they cautiously advanced through the floor.
“This is First Unit, indoor evacuation staircase clear.”
“This is Second Unit, outside evacuation staircase clear.”
“This is Third Unit, special evacuation staircase clear.”
Opening the doors to the emergency stairwells, the members rushed up the steps one after the next.
This building had three sets of stairs. With ten member a group, they split into three teams, each aiming for the top floor on their own.
Ten minutes after rushing in.
The first team that had ascended the first emergency stairway had stopped in their tracks.
“What is… this…?”
The way ahead had been knit shut with threads, sealed with a giant spider’s web.
A vigilance raced between them. There were a number of past precidents where an alter used spider silk as a weapon. This was undoubtedly a trap set by the enemy.
“This is First Unit, relaying to all teams. Spotted spider web that is presumably an enemy trap. Now moving to disarm trap. All teams keep wary.”
The platoon chief relayed the message over the radio. There was no response.
“What’s wrong? All teams, someone respond.”
“No one’s listening to you.”
At the voice suddenly raised from behind, he turned around startled.
There was a squid alter, Ikaruga.
“I was following right behind you the whole time. You never noticed?”
“All units, fire!”
“I wouldn’t if I were you,” Ikaruga laughed.
“Watch your head, they say.”
Lured in by those words, a few members looked up.
Right after, an ear-rending ultrasonic wave assailed them.
Stuck fast to the ceiling, Ecole descended with her wings spread wide. Ikaruga stretched out tentacles to bind seven of the members.
With the radio in her hand, Ecole informed her comrades.
“This is Ecole, Ikaruga, indoor emergence stairway suppressed. Report situation.”
“This is Lemeo and Hurtle, outdoor emergency stairway suppressed. Nothing to report.”
“This is Murtle and Arachne. Special emergency stairway suppressed. All hostiles incapacitated.”
Tossing aside the squad members, Ikaruga shifted his gaze like a predator gazing at pray. Ecole spoke without delay.
“The order was to not take their lives. For now, it’s to restrain them, Ikaruga-san.”
“… Yeah, yeah. Orders, orders. Nabbing away the tasty meal, leaving us to get rid of the bothers, he’s a harsh one, that Blackvenom-sama.”
“The fact we won’t be able to accomplish much, even if we get together’s already been proven.”
“And if gathering’s not going to do it, you’re going to tell me Blackcenom-sama will? That’s quite the self-confidence there. It’s a pain, wouldn’t it be faster if we just went and launched a surprise attack on Gaimoon ourselves.”
“Not happening. Our mission is to defend this point.”
“Girly, you’re quite up for it this time. Something on your mind?”
“… Not at all.”
Ecole shook her head. She grasped one of the squad member’s collars.
“… Let’s meet up with the others. We can’t let anyone get in the way of Gaimoon and Lord Helvenom’s fight.”
Mixed in with the new copter, Lord Helvenom’s ear picked up the sound of a different sort of chopper. That was likely a police helicopter. Did they board the snipers to take aim at him? From the start, Tsukimori MAT was the highest construct in the area. If they wanted to secure a vantage point, their only option was to use an aircraft.
But thanks to the crowd of news copters, the police copter shouldn’t be able to approach. Even as they gave an evacuation order, it wasn’t heard out. For they were also under the rule of Terreur.
The precious witnesses of this stage of good and evil must not be removed from the scene.
He had no intent to permit any intruder in this strife.
For this was a stage for Lord Helvenom and Gaimoon alone.
With a single cry, Gaimoon slipped into his bosom. Defending from her outstretched fist with his right Muls Impacter, he used the impact to redirect the blow. The enemy’s stance crumbled. In the motion of pulling the weapon back in, he swiped it in a straight line at the hero’s torso.
But the Muls Impactor swung emptily. Gaimoon took distance once again. Hit and run tactics, for a while now, Gaimoon had repeated this attack pattern.
“If you keep running around, you won’t strike me down, Gaimoon.”
He tried provoking, but Gaimoon showed no reaction.
Keeping her body stooped over, she calmly, carefully examined his movements. If you looked at it the other way, one could say she was fearful of him. Her emotions were functioning. While it seems she was enduring Terreur, the pace of her movements had fallen. As long as she felt emotion, it was impossible to avoid it entirely.
Unlike three years ago. For Gaimoon, and for Lord Helvenom.
In Takeru’s brain, the memories from back then were carved in. In the Alchemuls System—The ACM system as well, the battle data of Gaimoon from back then had been recorded.
At present, Takeru’s consciousness was tuned to the ACM System.
From past to present, it used the vast combat data collected to calculate the optimum action, tactic, reflecting that in the suit’s functionality to support him.
Takeru couldn’t acquire the power of an Alter like Chiyo.
Only through the suit’s inner muscle regulated by the ACM System, ordering around the information sent into his brain through the mask, could Takeru finally compete with Gaimoon. He could become her enemy.
Lord Helvenom readied the Muls Impactor in each hand, thrusting out both fists. Having gained kinetic energy, the tips of the impactors emitted shockwaves.
A stooped over Gaimoon immediately formed a biological shield over her right arm. The surface of the living shield bent, or so she thought, when it fell to pieces in the blink of an eye.
the moment Gaimoon’s upper body staggered, Lord Helvenom leapt.
His leg strength expanded by the suit’s inner muscle closed the gap in an instant.
Without hesitation, he lowered a Muls Impactor at Gaimoon’s stomach, but before that could happen, Gaimoon’s stature was wrenched to face left.
Evading the Muls Impactor, she aimed a kick at his right wrist. Carrying on as he expectedly dodged that, her leg letting off electric sparks stuck into Lord Helvenom’s chest.
Detecting the impact, the suit immediately generated anti-impact gel, dampening the force of Gaimoon’s blow. Even so, it wasn’t as if there was no damage.
Stepping back, Lord Helvenom endured a groan. To make it so the damage wasn’t perceived, he pat against his chest as if to brush off the dirt.
At that moment, At that moment, a loud firing sound resounded from below the building. Continuing on from that, breaking class. Was it a police copter, or the squad breaking in? even now, Ecole and the other alters’ resistance in the building unfolded.
“You sure you don’t have to worry about your comrades, Lord Helvenom?”
Gaimoon asked testingly.
Lord Helvenom endured the pain, forcedly holding out his arms.
“Are those the words of one who’s killed as many alters as yourself?”
“I’m not fighting in order to kill someone.”
Gaimoon declared without hesitation.
“I’m fighting to shake off sorrow. That is Gaimoon’s Justice.”
Inside the mask, Lord Helvenom, Takeru caught a glimpse of Omou Mia.
That’s why Takeru was conscious of it.
Mia’s heart hidden away by the mask. Imagining her emotions, Lord Helvenom strung together his words.
“Meaning that is the limit of your justice, Gaimoon.”
“—What do you mean?”
They exchanged words, their combat stances undeterred.
As a glare was shared, the dialogue continued.
“Your justice is a justice that depends on another. A justice that parasitizes off another’s anger. You are unable to fight on your own emotions.”
“… Justice is a power to save someone threatened by evil. I’ll never let my own anger drive my body. I won’t let rage cloud my eyes.”
“What justice can one who entrusts her own will to others pursue? You simply need others as an excuse for you to fight. Using everyone around you as an excuse, you just want to get revenge on alters.”
Gaimoon’s arm twitched.
More, more. Lord Helvenom pressed on further.
“No, in the first place, even the act of vengeance wasn’t your decision. Even if your dear family, your comrades were to be killed, you wouldn’t swing a single fist at the enemy.”
“Don’t let anger drive your body? You make me laugh. That means you don’t sympathize with the plight of the weak. You’re simply averting your eyes from the monster within you.”
“Your justice can’t save a thing. You destroyed Leviathan, stole hope from a great many alters, and failed to protect the people you hold dear. You’ve done nothing but destroy. Me and you, nothing’s changed at all.”
“I’m saying you’re wrong!”
Gaimoon howled as she raced forward.
Her levelness had been chipped. In that case, it was simple to take her on.
Gaimoon easily brushed aside the impulsive fist she unleashed.
No need to even depend on the ACM System. Lord Helvenom thrust a Muls Impactor into Gaimoon’s shoulder. The shockwave fired from the tip caused her to raise a groan.
“What’s wrong. Your revenge is right here.”
A roar that couldn’t be classed as a voice echoed.
Gaimoon blindly tried to kick Lord Helvenom’s stomach, but without a moment’s delay, he blocked it with crossed arms. Going right on to grasp that locked leg, he tossed Gaimoon aside.
Even as she collapsed to the floor, Gaimoon thrust out her right fist. Surging lightning. This was the unmistakable stance to fire her Lightning Bullet. Only a slight distance to Lord Helvenom, impossible to evade. But, “There’s a limit to how many of those biological bullets you can generate. Did you think I wouldn’t notice?” The shot was a bluff. Her true aim was a chop with her left hand to his right flank.
Reading that, Lord Helvenom defended his own right side with his Muls Impactor.
The vibrating flame deflected her hand. Defending against her real attack, Helvenom launched a consecutive blow into her undefended stomach. With a groan, Gaimoon gasped on the floor.
No matter what mask of justice she wore, it was Omou Mia inside. Actually a crybaby, cowardly, Omou Mia. Her anger and sorrow at Sawako’s death was reliably stealing from Mia her power as Gaimoon.
That was precisely why now was the chance to defeat Gaimoon.
The finest chance to rip the mask away from Omou Mia.
“Gaimoon, have you ever heard something like this”
Lord Helvenom asked, as he poured another blow onto Gaimoon’s shoulder to thwart her attempt to rise. The sensation of striking her childhood friend remained in his hand.
“The transformation one achieves through alter cells is carried out through the transformer’s will. The form of one’s alter cell-formed external organs is a symbol of their own aspirations, and their trauma personified. To summarize, an alter cell form is inseparably linked to our spirit.”
Gaimoon had finally been cornered to the brink of falling off the helipad to the ground below. A followup Muls Impactor thrust to her chest. Gaimoon’s white body collapsed face-up, as everything above her shoulders was thrown into the air.
“Meaning one could call an alter’s external organs their very spirit laid bare. Destroying the external organs amounts to no less than folding their will. Now then, here is the question, if this external organ-clad state is to be torn up by another, their will crushed… what do you think will happen?”
Lord Helvenom approached Gaimoon and spoke.
“—They lose the power to transform.”
Takeru thought back to the First Lord Helvenom, Akutsu Chiyo’s form.
Once the symbol of the Alchemuls Mythos, she had now parted with her transformation ability and become an ordinary human.
She had lost everything to Gaimoon, her will to do evil was broken.
“The external organ and the spirit are deeply tied. Losing in that external organ-clad state, the one whose will has been crushed will henceforth, never be able to transform into an alter. This is not my supposition. There has been numerous precedent in the past. This includes your victims.”
That’s why Takeru decided.
He would become Lord Helvenom, become evil, become Gaimoon’s enemy.
Sweep all other evil out of town, setting himself as the sold evil Gaimoon was to defeat.
And by his hand, he would take down the Hero of Justice.
It was for this reason he couldn’t allow the other alters to lay a hand on her.
To inflict a decisive sense of defeat on Gaimoon’s heart, the form of a decisive battle was befitting. When thoroughly defeated by evil, the hero loses their reason for existence.
“I am your enemy, Gaimoon. The Alchemuls you must defeat, the very reason for your existence. A hero felled by evil has no value. When you lose to me, you will lose our own identity, and your power along with it.”
Sawako was mistaken. Takeru hadn’t burdened himself with evil to be defeated.
A stable status quo, a kind everyday was impossible.
What Takeru wished for was to destroy the hope of this town.
To destroy Omou Mia’s mask of justice this town longed to flock to.
Gaimoon remained collapsed, unmoving.
A crack ran down her external organ. Her will was already on the verge of folding.
“Farewell, Gaimoon. This is the demise of the mask you put on.”
No thought, no hesitation.
This was to release Mia from this town’s curse.
Lord Helvenom lowered his Muls Impactor right at Gaimoon’s mask and—
“… It hurts, Take-chan…”
She heard a voice.
Close to a prayer, close to a cheer.
“Dammit… they’ve completely set their aim on us…”
The fortieth floor. Concealed behind a pillar, Lemeo spilled a complaint.
The window glass had broke, a great many bullets had pounded into the wall. It seemed the police had prepared some exceedingly powerful special rounds. There was a possibility even an alter’s external organs wouldn’t get off unscathed.
Lemeo and Ecole hid by the pillar.
Meanwhile Arachne and Murtle were stuck to the ceiling, a blind spot from outside. Arachne stuck to her thread, while Murtle skillfully hung on it with the claws of her feet. Her hands skillfully readied a rifle. Their timing was bad, was all she could say.
Right after they rendezvoused on this floor to discuss how to handle the hostages, they were spotted by a police copter circling, and rained with gunfire. Thanks to that, they had been rendered immobile.
“’n wait, why’s that copter been aiming at us this whole damn time!? Isn’t the black skull on the roof their prime target?”
“It’s probably because of all the news copters, they can’t get close. Danger of collision and all. At first, I thought they were to relay the state of the battle to us in real time, but… if that was included in the plan, I can only call it splendid…”
“Now’s not the time to be impressed, Arachne! Hell, that’s what’s gotten us into this pinch! Can’t even call old man Ikaruga watchin’ the first floor…”
“I’ll do it.”
Murtle asserted from the ceiling. The safety clicked off from the rifle in her hands.
“… What are you talking about, Murtle. Think you can hit a helicopter with a sudden shot? You’ll just end up becoming a target.”
“No, it might serve as a check. There’s no need to hit them from the start… if I shoot while they’re reloading, I can get off without being a mark…”
“And how do you plan to time that one out!?”
“Ecole’s ears should be able to probe out their situation. How about it, Ecold, can you do it?”
“Y-yes, I won’t say I can’t, but…”
To Ecole’s powerless reply, Lemeo beside her peeked a nervous face.
“What’s wrong, feeling sick?”
“T-that’s not the case, but… umm, you can’t hear it? It’s mixed in with the helicopter noises, but… from outside, someone’s voice, it’s gradually growing louder…”
“Han? Wait, now that you mention it…”
Ecole earnestly concentrated her ears outside.
Someone, what’s more, multiple people were calling something else.
Desperately putting in a wish. Putting in a prayer. It was mixed in with the rotor noises and was difficult to hear, but her hand would soon reach its identity. Ecole carefully peeked her face out from the pillar.
The next instant cane a second shot from the helicopter. A shell assailed them along with strong burst of wind. The bullet made off with Ecole’s ear. Along with the impact, her right ear external organ was blown off.
The threads Arachne spat forcefully pulled back Ecole’s body. A pain ran through her whole body. Confirming the sound was the least of her worries.
“S-sorry… I’m fine, I’m perfectly fine…”
In essence, what was blown off was an external organ. She would regenerate it shortly. As long as the damage didn’t reach her real body inside, this could be considered a light injury.
But perhaps Ecole’s ear being blown off was too great of a shock. Murtle spasmodically jumped down from the ceiling, aimed firmly at the police copter, and fired three shots.
Bullets flew through the broken-glass window, they were intimidation shots that had no way of hitting.
Having landed on the floor, a steam rose from the muzzle of Murtle’s rifle.
“… What do I do?”
She muttered in a daze. As if she feared the result of what she’d done.
Ecole, Lemeo and Arachne swallowed their breath.
A bullet hole in the window glass of the copter’s cockpit. The pilot held his right arm and moaned out.
Just like that, the copter lost its controls and fell away.
Those voices of prayer from before changed to screams. Ecole immediately ran up to the window glass and was at a loss for words.
Having lost its controls, the police copter was about to crash into the roof of the opposite building.
Before it were the spectators who had yet to leave the spot.
A violent storm she felt across her external organs.
Gaimoon tried to stand. She tried to oppose.
But she didn’t know how she was supposed to fight. Her thoughts wouldn’t get in order.
In her fading consciousness, Omou Mia questioned herself.
Why did I become a Hero again? Was it because maman was killed? Because father entrusted it to me? Because I hate kaijin?
… No. A sentiment more precious, I get the feeling I had something like that.
A precious thought.
— You’re here crying again, Mia?
… Yeah, that’s right. That’s it.
That was before I entered Teiko FC.
Because of my blue eyes, I stood out in class, and I was often teased. Left out of the group, my indoor shoes hidden, and each time, I would find myself crying by those nostalgic rabbit shrine grounds.
At times like those, the one who always raced over to me was Take-chan.
— Come on, auntie’s worried for you. Let’s hurry and go home.
With a face as if nothing had happened, Take-chan would always reach out his hand.
His hand covered in dirt and in bruises.
I was happy. That every time I was bullied, Take-chan would put his body on the line to stand against the kids who bullied me.
He rarely ever won, but he would always put on a strong front, and never showed tears before me.
Like that, he would always push away my sadness, he would protect me and fight, wouldn’t he.
That’s why I thought.
I wanted to be like that, I wanted to become a person who could push away someone’s sorrows.
I wanted to wipe away the tears in someone’s heart, and fight for someone’s sake.
I mean, the one who taught me that was Take-chan.
Though in yesterday’s date, I was too embarrassed to say it to the end.
Gaimoon’s body was terribly rattled.
The black skull in her vision. The enemy Gaimoon should defeat. Sawako’s revenge.
And yet, Gaimoon’s body wouldn’t move.
I’ve gone through a lot of painful memories. I’ve gone through a lot of scary memories.
But hiding them all behind the mask, I fought. I fight, and fought, and fought my way through.
For all the times Take-chan saved me back then, I thought that this time, I had to return the favor. And you know, I thought I was managing somehow or another.
… But it was no good.
I couldn’t protect Sawa-chan. I couldn’t save the precious person who fought by my side. It’s my fault. IT’s because I’m Gaimoon that Sawa-chan died.
I couldn’t protect a single thing precious to me.
The tonfa in Lord Helvenom’s hand.
Now, the black fang was coming towards her mask.
… It hurts, it hurts.
I want to take off this mask already. I don’t want to be a hero of justice…!
I just wanted to laugh normally. With Sawa-chan and Take-chan, I wanted to laugh and fight and make up, to be a normal high school student…!
Save me, Take-chan. I’m here, I’m right here.
I don’t want to hurt anyone anymore, I don’t want to hurt anymore.
“… It hurts, Take-chan.”
Time went by, the impact never came.
In Mia’s faint consciousness, she absentmindedly gazed.
The tonfa that should have been lowered stopped right before Gaimoon’s eyes.
Lord Helvenom’s black skull looking down over her was shaking.
As if he was hesitating over something.
Mia felt a doubt at Lord Helvenom’s actions, and then.
“Go get him, Gaimoon!”
At first, she thought it was an auditory hallucination. But Lord Helvenom reacted as well.
Spinning her head, Gaimoon noticed. The spectators on the roof of the opposite building were looking at her, raising their voices.
“Go! Gaimoon! Send him flying!” “Don’t lose! Gaimoon!” “Protect Tsukimori’s peace!” “We’re with you!” “ You’re all we’ve got!” “Don’t let the kaijin do what they want with this town!” “You’re this town’s hope!” “Gaimoon, everyone believes in you!” “So go, Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!”
Mia was dumbfounded.
Those warm, unwavering cheers of hope flowed inside of her.
— Make sure you’re properly cheering from the sidelines.
— Those plain things help out in the long run. You got that?
Yeah, it was true. He was right after all.
I’ve got it. Take-chan. Sawa-chan.
This is my fate. A destiny I should accept. In that case—!
A scream suddenly thundered out. Mia witnessed it across the mask.
Not a news copter. What was a presumably a police copter flew midway around the building.
But something was strange.
As if it had lost its controls, it was about to crash into the roof of the building with the spectators.
— No, you have to stop.
Mia’s pulse heightened.
— Move, move, my body…!
Her emotions chilled over. All her sensations cleared up.
— Why is this… who could have…!
In a separate domain from Mia’s consciousness, the gears of her heart clicked right into place.
— I won’t let anyone die, I won’t let them die!
Alongside the grating throb of pain assailing her head, a cold whisper echoed in Mia’s heart.
Destroy evil, destroy evil, to wipe away sorrow, destroy evil.
— I accept it, I accept it all, so!
So absorbed she didn’t know what was going on, Mia affirmed it.
She affirmed the mindset lurking deep in her depths.
— Save those people, Gaimoon!
The next instant, the restraints over her body were released.
Omou Mia’s mind was swallowed by an ‘absolute’ justice.
… Grasping current situation.
… Identifying victim and threat, clear.
… Now executing justice.
“… This… this light is.”
Lord Helvenom stopped moving.
“… It’s the same as back the”
Faster than he could finished his words, ‘it’ launched its palm at his black chest.
The force was incomparable to before.
Lord Helvenom who’d been bending over her was shot back like a rubber ball.
But ‘it’ did feel any deep emotions about that.
It had no feelings to feel strongly for.
All it had done was remove an obstacle.
“… Wait, wait.”
A collapsed Lord Helvenom called doubt, but ‘it’ didn’t take notice.
Right now, there was another item that took precedence.
Rescuing the people on the roof of the building. Removing whatever had caused this situation.
The optimum thought, the swiftest action, the optimal choice.
To protect the hearts of the weak people. To slay evil. With a turn of its crimson-glowing body, ‘it’ took a leap.
The people cried out at the encroaching police helicopter. While many maintained their position, the impact was unavoidable.
“… What do I do… this isn’t how it was supposed to…”
As Murtle shook at her own deed, Ecole drew close, changing the situation was impossible from their side. It was too late to make a move. Even for Gaimoon.
Neither Arachne or Lemeo knew what to say.
It was then.
The form of ‘it’ entered their vision.
“… The hell’s that?”
Lemeo muttered in a daze. Murtle, and Arachne who climbed down from the ceiling gulped.
To the roof of the building descended the streak of a single red meteorite.
It was fast, faster than the helicopter, something glowing red landed on the edge of the building.
Right after, the s ide-ways-toppled police helicopter swallowed up the red shadow. The craft that lost control would go on to drag the people and red shadow into its midst, that’s how it should have gone down.
“Oy, oy… are you for real…”
Yet what happened was an unthinkable scene. The copter that should have fallen remained stagnant in the air. Eventually, the copter took on a level stance as if carried off by someone, slowly being placed in the space the people had moved out of.
After a while of silence from the dazed spectators, they broke into a grand cheer.
“Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!”
Enveloped in the peoples’ cheers, the red glowing something’s form finally came into sight.
Red blood-vessel-like streaks running along a pure-white skin. Resembling a rabbit, the hero of justice presiding over the moonbeams.
“Is that Gaimoon?”
It was undoubtedly Gaimoon. While its form had changed, that was Gaimoon.
“… Oy, why is it glowing? Why the hell is it glowing!?”
“I don’t know…! I’ve never seen him like that before…”
“Are the people saved…?”
While Murtle made a somewhat relieved face, Ecole felt a terrible chill.
She felt it at the hotel fire as well, an off-sense hard to put in words. When Gaimoon’s act of saving people should be a noble deed, for some reason, Ecole’s eyes ended up seeing it as sinister.
There, she noticed.
Gaimoon’s eyes were directed in their direction.
Pulling back its right fist, it let out a right straight that had no way of reaching them.
The next instant.
A ball of fire emitted from Gaimoon’s right arm.
She couldn’t comprehend what had happened.
Flying at a high speed through the air, an orb the size as a cannon shell. Regardless of her confusion, the spinning, radiating fireball approached the fortieth floor to swallow it whole, and—
The orb burst like a bubble.
Picking up the scattering sparks, the diffusing heat and burnt stench, Ecole finally felt the reality of the crisis approaching them.
“Are you alright?”
Someone descended on a wire. It was Lord Helvenom.
Lowering his feet onto the windowsill, he entered the floor. His coat had been ripped here and there, a crack spread across the surface of his mask. Murtle spoke in a face on the verge of tears.
“U-umm… I wasn’t trying to…”
“You are to retreat. I’ll hold it back.”
“Hold it back…?”
After hesitating whether to say it or not, Lord Helvenom turned and drew his tonfas.
“— Machine of justice.”
A sharp reverberating noise like the clashing of blades.
Gaimoon’s chop met and opposed a tonfa. When it should have been on the opposite building, the crimson Gaimoon had made it all the way behind Lord Helvenom.
From when? From where? Ecole shivered.
Lord Helvenom immediately tried to hammer the other tonfa into Gaimoon’s chest. At that motion with no excess movement, it looked as if Gaimoon would be late to respond.
But the next instant.
Lord Helvenom was sent flying to the side.
The wind swept with a delay.
There was no change in Gaimoon’s stance. Yet on the floor around its left foot, a circle had been scraped out. From that, Ecole could presume what had happened. A roundhouse kick with the left leg as the axis.
In that instant, it had emitted a kick powerful enough to send Lord Helvenom flying.
A certain kill kick she couldn’t grasp with her senses as an alter.
To that point, they had seen various abilities, strengths from Gaimoon far above the norm. But what was before their eyes at this moment was on a different dimension.
Gaimoon took no notice of Lord Helvenom on the floor. Those golden eyes were directed straight at Ecole’s unit. Murtle slumped down on the spot. Lemeo and Arachne couldn’t move either.
At this moment, not in the heads, but their hearts they were coming to know.
The natural enemy of evil, Gaimoon’s true terror.
“… For what might you look away? Your enemy is me.”
All of a sudden, a tremendous gravity was cast on Ecole. A fear the forcefully churned up her head.
Gaimoon’s movements stopped, it looked to the side.
Leaning against a pillar, Lord Helvenom spread out his hand, sticking his right arm towards them.
No doubt about it. This was Lord Helvenom’s Terreur.
“Can you feel it, the quivers of the alters? For their will is my will. I am he who presides over them. If you’re to cleanse away the source, then start by taking me down.”
Gaimoon traced its chest with a fingertip.
Silently, it changed its facing direction, step by step making for Lord Helvenom. Terruer must not have been working, there was no disturbance in Gaimoon’s gait.
With his mask on, Lord Helvenom had no expression. But those arms were shaking.
As if he was enduring pain. Like a howling dog, he shouted out.
“I’ve no need here for a useless tool! I won’t permit you to enter my domain of combat!”
As if lashed on by the force of those words, Ecoles feet began to move. When his Terreur was active, Lord Helvenom’s words were absolute. She couldn’t reject them.
“W-what, this, why are my feet arbitrarily…!”
“It’s Lord Helvenom’s Terreur… don’t tell me he can rule actions too…!”
“That person… to let us escape…!”
Ecole couldn’t turn around. At that very moment, Terreur’s influence had put her body into a full force sprint. Without even the time for a backward glance, she had left the floor.
Unable to do anything. Unable to stand and watch. For that reason, Ecole cried and prayed.
For the safety of the young boy shouldering evil. For the peace of the young boy trying to challenge the myth.
It was the same.
Takeru experienced déjà vu at this situation.
It was as if this was a recreation of that day three years ago, where Gaimoon went berserk, and Takeru turned into Lord Helvenom.
Mosaic-like nose raced across his visor.
The suit, the mask, their collective damage reported close to 70%. He had put his Muls Impactors on their greatest possible output to erase that condensed orb of plasma a moment ago so they barely had any energy to spare. Each had if anything, another sizable shot left. He couldn’t swing them carelessly.
He felt his consciousness might crack from the pain.
His sensations paralyzed by the chips embedded in his brain were on the verge of coming back. It was clear the mask that made a Lord Helvenom out of Takeru was losing its power.
The only system working normally was Terreur.
What’s more, that didn’t work in the slightest on the current Gaimoon.
As she was now, Gaimoon didn’t have the emotions to feel fear.
Omou Mia had lost consciousness.
What was before him was a ‘monster of justice’ that would faithfully obey an embedded mindset.
Confirming the other alters’ retreat, he set Terreur to off. Leaving on a useless feature would just waste stamina and battery.
The red lines stretching around Gaimoon’s entire body pulsed.
The same as three years ago, Gaimoon’s berserk form—no, its true form released from the restraints.
“… What good is a restraint that comes off that easily?”
Lord Helvenom muttered.
The cause of the restraints releasing was, without saying, the police copter’s fall.
But for the restraints to fall off just like that was simply far too convenient.
Gaimoon’s current form was something he had anticipated from the start.
Those bindings were devised to come undone the moment some sort of condition was met. To the Foundation, Gaimoon’s berserk was a function placed in by design. Though Takeru was led to believe Sawako was unaware.
Gaimoon was an evolving justice. Now that Mia’s consciousness was out of the picture, with no discord or hesitation, it would eliminate the evil threatening the people. Once the restraints were off, Gaimoon had no limit.
Three years ago, each side simply drowned in their own power, overheated, and took themselves out. This time probably wouldn’t go the same. The current Gaimoon had stabilized further than that. The difference in power was too great for mutual defeat.
The situation was perpetually hopeless. No reinforcements coming. No prospects of victory.
If that’s what it would come down for, he should have used the other alters as pieces to rush it in an all-out war.
Now that the situation had changed, did he want to bring it to one on one to protect Ecole and the other alters? Or did he still have a fixation on crushing Gaimoon’s mask by his own hand?
Whichever the case, this wasn’t efficient in the slightest. On the rooftop as well, his hand had stopped at the most important part, and he failed to land the finishing blow. He did the name of Alchemuls a shame.
“… Try and stop me, Gaimoon. If you’re so convinced of your own justice.”
The mask alone he wouldn’t take off. To the moment his body crumbled, Takeru would continue to be Gaimoon’s enemy. That bit of pride alone was something he could never concede.
Gaimoon clenched its fist, slowly walking forward. There was no doubt in that overbearing form, no hesitation. Its emotion and impulse had been severed to a perfect extent.
All those golden eyes could see was the form of an evil to erase. Those to protect, those impossible to protect, it would carry out a precise calculation, and use the optimum means to enact justice.
Indiscriminate of human or alter, it would continue just judgment until everything was in ruins.
Gaimoon’s figure suddenly vanished. A movement beyond his dynamic vision.
Lord Helvenom surveyed the area. Left, right, it was nowhere to be seen.
Then that left only one point—right above him.
On practically pure intuition, Lord Helvenom jumped to the side. Right after came Gaimoon’s rapid descent from the ceiling. Its fist stuck into the floor. Fragments of concretes scattered as large cracks ran through it.
That life-or-death dodge only lasted an instant, Gaimoon extracted its fist and kicked the floor.
No time to ready a Muls Impactor.
Lord Helvenom enhanced the inner muscle of the suit’s right femur that was still live.
Without setting an aim, he swung out a kick.
The impact came simultaneously.
The high kicks of justice and evil intersected at Gaimoon and Lord Helvenom stood still. Lord Helvenom’s high kick broke the mask of justice, Gaimoon’s high kick dug into evil’s mask.
The Lord Helvenom mask visor cracked, his left field of vision crushed.
But cracks ran down Gaimoon’s mask as well. With the kick’s recoil and the suits strengthening functioning overheating, a heat came over him that might leave a burn.
Gaimoon maintained its stance, pulling back a fist. Takeru reflexively pulled back his body.
The knuckle that thrust into his chest delivered an impact that made him feel his heart would stop. While his consciousness cut off for a moment, by drawing back his body at the last second, he barely managed to endure it.
Gaimoon slowly returned her leg and fist and walked. It didn’t show those super-speed movements from before. Neither the plasma, nor the breakneck movement whose principles he didn’t even understand to cross from building to building.
Were his intentional provocations bringing a psychological pressure?
No, the current Gaimoon wouldn’t take such unnecessary action.
Blood dripped in clumps from the fissure in Gaimoon’s mask.
It did seem Omou Mia’s body had reached its limit. But Gaimoon didn’t stop. Ignoring Mia’s will, it tried to carry out justice. Truly a machine carrying out a justice program.
Takeru thought. He continued to think. A means to stop Gaimoon’s rampage.
But the more he thought, the more he made clear the despair of this situation.
His arms shook at the Gaimoon coming at him.
Takeru was aware of the emotion welling up, he gave a bitter smile.
This was fear. The source of evil was feeling fear at the Hero of Justice closing in on him.
“… Don’t tell me this is your justice?”
Lord Helvenom said, to shake off his fear.
His frantically shoved an evil mask over his heart as he screamed.
“Justice is supposed to be exhibited with emotion and rationality, both sides working together. A justice of sole emotion is meaningless. A justice of sole rationality is harmful. A justice with no sympathy of others is the vilest thing of all.”
If her rampage didn’t stop now, Mia could never again return as a human being.
So Lord Helvenom continued to cry out. He called to Mia’s consciousness sleeping within Gaimoon.
“What happened to your will, Gaimoon? Was the ‘natural enemy of evil’ you spoke of something so insignificant? Did you lose your family, lose your comrade for such a trifle? Answer me, Gaimoon!”
Gaimoon didn’t answer.
Quitting with his futile screams, Lord Helvenom hung his head and then realized.
The crimson Gaimoon was tracing its chest with its fingertip.
As if an old injury had unconsciously begun to throb.
Lord Helvenom stopped shaking.
He readied his Muls Impactors that had begun to crack. While he didn’t know if he could call it a prospect of victory, he spotted something he could do.
Beneath his mask, he steadied his breath. In a sense, what he was going to do now was more repulsive and unforgivable than any violence.
Even so, he had to do it.
Only a slight distance to Gaimoon. It paid no caution to the Muls Impactor. Perhaps receiving that past attack, it recognized they were not on a level to require attention.
He focused his eyes with half his vision in pieces.
Tame your fear. Cut off your reason and impulse. Don’t stop thinking. Reliably accomplish your goal. For all he had lost. For all he was going to lose.
So as not to lose just one precious thing.
Its body sunk low. Was it a fist, or a kick? He couldn’t guess.
Before he could be attacked, Lord Helvenom took a step in.
He tried to swing the Muls Impactors in each hand. But he noticed his foe’s arms were moving in tandem. Gaimoon’s defensive stance. At this rate, both weapons would reliably be brushed off.
With a sudden change in action, he tossed one hand’s Muls Impactor to the side.
Gaimoon’s gaze turned to the discarded item. The instantaneous gap that was born.
Lord Helvenom stepped into its bosom and stuck the tip of the Muls Impactor into its chest. The spot where Mia had once been stabbed by an alter.
Gaimoon paid no mind to that trained thrust with the Muls Impactor. Its femur throbbed to swing its leg for once more.
With that timing, Lord Helvenom hummed a certain song. A simple, steady, artless rhythm, almost reminiscent of a requiem, a nostalgic melody. The intro to Stand by Me.
Gaimoon’s feet stopped. Its movements stopped.
Lord Helvenom continued to hum the tune.
— The kaijin stabs me as he hums a tune, I’ve never been able to get it out of my ears.
In the past, Mia reacted abnormally to the Stand by Me that played over lunch break. At the time, Takeru put two and two together. The identity of the repeating melody that had become Mia’s nightmare. This song had engraved a deep fear into her.
The pain even Takeru had dragged on since that day, there was no way the one directly involved could recover from it. Even now, that day’s pain stuck deep into Mia’s heart.
The tonfa stuck into Gaimoon’s old wound, the flowing rhythm. The original memory of fear Omou Mia could never wipe form her heart was reproduced.
This was the foulest form of violence. Rubbing his feet on her trauma, to abuse Mia’s sleeping consciousness awake, violence against the soul.
“… No… no…”
Gaimoon’s red radiance darkened.
Even so, Lord Helvenom waited. He measured out the timing for the most dramatic effect.
Gaimoon held her head. Her white fingers dug into the mask. Her body shook. Eventually, she spoke in a voice on the verge of tears.
“… Don’t kill me!”
The moment Mia’s consciousness peeked out, Lord Helvenom activated it. Terreur, alongside a shockwave from his Muls Impactor.
‘ACM-SYSTEM TERREUR MODE ON’
The shockwave rupturing in her chest stole the means of normal thought from her.
The emotion of fear hammered into her on the verge of awakening.
Gaimoon raised a beastly roar as she was blown away.
A tone that couldn’t be placed into either anger or grief reverberated across the floor. Holding her head, she writhed around, shed tears, and shook in anger.
Fear was the most primal emotion humans had. The emotion of fear forcefully stimulated by Terreur called back Mia’s trauma, making each and every form of emotion explode.
And the returning emotion, Mia’s consciousness put a brake on her rampage. The red light disappeared from her body. The ‘Unempathetic Justice’ had crashed. Gaimoon’s rampage was brought to an end.
Lord Helvenom looked down over a writhing Gaimoon as he collected the Muls Impactor he had tossed aside. He still had one shockwave left.
Already, he’d harshly trampled Mia’s heart into the ground. There was no reason to hesitate at this point. To greet the proper conclusion of justice and evil, Lord Helvenom would deliver the final blow.
It was all to decide it.
“… What it takes to be a hero, that’s…”
Lord Helvenom hurriedly raised his stance. While she staggered, Mia, Gaimoon was trying to stand.
“Someone who never gives up…!”
The crimson light had vanished. Dragging along her wound-ridden body, even still she stood.
Her golden eyes let off a radiance.
hero of Justice, Gaimoon hadn’t fallen yet.
Huh? How long have I been here… it’s no good, I can’t remember…
My head is pounding… my body is cold… it’s scary… it hurts… I can’t breathe…
… But… I definitely don’t want to run away…!
I mean, there are people in this town I want to protect. People I need to save.
I can still fight, so I…!
Mia, you’re an idiot. A great big buffoon.
You’re scared. It hurts.
… So why won’t you run away?
This town isn’t worth protecting. It’s not worth saving.
I don’t want to fight anymore.
Being a Hero of Justice is nothing but suffering.
You distance yourself from all sorts of friends, go through so much scary memories, and yet, you never get rewarded for it. But you see, I’m proud that I’m Gaimoon.
There’s got to be some meaning in why this power was granted to me.
It’s quite lonely to be an evil leader.
You fool everyone to get your comrades trust, and then you can’t trust anything anymore.
I’m sure I’ll always detest being Lord Helvenom.
Even so, I can’t let go of this mask.
I’m sorry, Take-chan.
I couldn’t protect Sawa-chan. I couldn’t save her.
Maybe my power is puny. The Justice I believe in might just be my ego.
But there’s something only I can do before my eyes.
Mia, I really am sorry.
I killed Sawa-chan. I did something unforgivable.
I hurt you a lot too. Your body and heart, I hurt you a whole lot.
Even so, I won’t run. I can’t run away.
Gaimoon gripped her fist, she stood sturdily.
To defeat the root of evil, Lord Helvenom.
I accept this fate. I want to protect the people I love.
His fangs in his hand, Lord Hellvenom stood composedly.
To defeat the Hero of Justice, Gaimoon.
I’ll go against this fate. To save the girl I love.
— And so.
“When your heart is touched by sorrow, the white moonbeams shall light out justice.”
Gaimoon, Omou Mia pointed a finger up to the ceiling above.
She proclaimed just who and what she was.
Putting all her will into her white mask, she cried out.
“Here stands the natural enemy of evil, Gaimoon!”
“I am the Leader of Calamity Co. Leviathan, Lord Helvenom.”
Lord Helvenom, Okina Takeru informed her with the voice of a corpse.
In order to redefine who he was.
Putting his resolve into his black mask, he declared.
“I do not forget, I do not forgive, quiver and wait for my coming.”
With introductions over, they glared at one another.
After a moment of stillness.
Each side laid their soul bear before colliding.
Justice and evil exchanged wounds with the other. Indulged in the other.
Their wound-covered bodies with no power remaining throbbed.
What mixed was a storm-like reciprocation of violence.
The boundary between mask and real face disappeared, as each unfolded an intense strife to bring the other to ruin.
Gaimoon hammered kick after kick into Lord Helvenom’s torso. While Lord Helvenom staggered, the tonfa attacks from his hands didn’t slow. Sharp strikes that resounded through her churned up her insides.
Again and again, Lord Helvenom firmly struck his Muls Impactors into Gaimoon’s body. Only one shockwave left. Only one chance. Gaimoon’s kicks rung heavily through his body. His conscience was faint, his sense of pain might soon fade from his head.
At the same time, the two hammered in their fists, Mask fragments scattered along the floor. The impact from each fist caused the other to stagger back.
Both sides had, at the very limit yet to crumble. Their true faces remained hidden.
It was evident they were both close to their limit.
With Takeru and Mia exchanging a glare, they both sensed it.
The battle would be decided in the next instant.
Lord Helvenom swung his Muls Impactor.
To beat down the justice before his eyes.
Gaimoon jumped. To destroy the wickedness before her.
Gaimoon’s right-leg jump kick went off like a missile.
A one-legged kick aimed at Lord Helvenom’s stomach was met by his weapon.
The basis of Gaimoon’s attacks was the kick. If the legs she stood on were sealed, Gaimoon could no longer fight. Her defeat would be decided.
Lord Helvenum fired the Muls Impactor at the highest possible output.
Gaimoon’s exploding right leg. Her external organ was stripped away, her technique sealed. Or so it should be.
Gaimoon twisted her body sideways in the air.
Her leg had been sealed by Lord Helvenom’s exploding tonfa.
But Mia didn’t give up. She wouldn’t give up on victory until the end.
She rested her right leg she could barely get any power in on the tip of the tonfa, and used it to spin in the air.
She slipped past his weapons, her left leg kick burst into her opponent’s chest.
But Lord Helvenom only staggered. The output wasn’t high enough to defeat him.
Having endured the attack, Lord Helvenom’s tonfa approached. There were already cracks running down them. She couldn’t imagine them firing another explosion. Even so, the two fangs coming at her were sufficient threat enough.
So once again, Gaimoon challenged it.
“… Victory comes”
She bent her left leg’s knee. With her foot still resting on Lord Helvenom, she stored up power one last time.
A red-hot left leg. The enhanced muscle contracted, as her power condensed.
What she put in was a will of justice. What she put in was the hopes of the people.
“To those who never give up in thought or action!”
Her left leg released, the condensed energy was hammered into Lord Helvenom’s body.
A crack ran down Helvenom’s black skull mask.
The crevice finally broke the mask of evil, revealing the chin portion.
The moment went by as if played in slow motion.
Lord Helvenom’s exposed lips curled into a smile. As if to sneer at her.
“I shall never fall. As long as you exist, no matter how many times it takes, I’ll come back.”
Those weren’t the testament of the defeated.
That was a promise. An evil promise to the town in its entirety.
“Until we meet again, Gaimoon… my beloved Hero!”
It all went by, neither a dream or reality.
With Gaimoon’s special kick pounded in, Lord Helvenom was blown back, he broke through the window and was shoved outside.
But Lord Helvenom laughed. He continued to laugh.
Leaving behind a maniacal laughter that resounded through the town, his body let off a flash.
He exploded in the air.
Scattering sounds and flames, Lord Helvenom’s figure had vanished. Even so, for a while longer, the laughter echoed, sending shivers down the spines of those around the building.
Slumping down after the kick, eventually, Gaimoon slowly stood. Dragging along her unmoving, tattered right leg, she made for the broken window.
Lord Helvenom was nowhere to be found. His heavy pressure had disappeared with him.
She had won, Mia, Gaimoon.
“Thank you, Gaimoon!”
A child’s voice echoed. There were still people remaining on the roof of that building. As officers were in the process of evacuating them, the people continued to send their cheers.
“Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!” “Gaimoon!”
Mia bit her lip. The cheers of the townspeople wouldn’t stop resounding through her body.
Can you hear me, Sawa-chan?
I did it. I defeated him.
But this probably isn’t the end. I’m sure once more, not too far from right now, I’ll fight him again. I can’t think that was enough to kill Lord Helvenom.
That’s why, I’ll have to try protecting this town on my own.
This town father entrusted to me, the town you spent your life in, the town where Take-chan lives.
I won’t give up again. I’ll fight to the end, and protect everyone.
I mean, I’m the hero who protects Tsukimori City, Gaimoon.
Gaimoon dragged her right leg behind as she turned her body.
To return to a daily life with her real face, without any mask. The hero hurried to return home.
The cheers resounded all the way to the underground sewers.
Lord Helvenom leaned his body against the wall as he crawled forward.
The emergency escape program that still remained in the suit.
After exploding a flash grenade, he used that time lapse to hide his form in optic camouflage and flee. A majority of the camouflage wasn’t functioning, but slipping into the darkness was enough. When he fell, he instantly used a wire to grab onto the building ledge and safely descended. He used a manhole to burrow underground, bringing him to his current situation.
The Muls Impacters were unusable. A majority of his suit had burn out. His mask visor wasn’t displaying any information. It seemed it was out of battery.
Even so, Takeru didn’t give up. He couldn’t collapse here.
“That’s a nasty state you’re in, Lord Blackvenom.”
Lord Helvenom stopped in his tracks. His hazy vision reflected back the figures of the alters.
Ecole, Lemeo, Arachne, Hurtle, Murtle, Ikaruga.
The grotesque forms of those he made obey through fear now stood before him.
“And my oh my, that was quite a victory. Challenging Gaimoon, and at the end, going out with such a flashy defeat. Thanks to that, you’ve added another plaque to hang on Gaimoon’s legend.”
Ikaruga shuffled over. No one tried to stop him. Even Ecole who knew the circumstances stayed silent. Terreur was unusable. He had no means left to fight.
Lord Helvenom held his breath as he evaluated the situation.
“What’s more, look at that face. Don’t tell me you’re not an alter? Haha, to think we were being dragged around by a guy like this. We could’ve just launched an all-out attack and lynched Gaimoon from the start. Good grief, how are you going to take responsibility for this? This is the sort ‘a thing where we’ll have to settle things up a bit, won’t we?”
Ikaruga’s tentacles closed in.
Takeru thought. He continued to think. A means to overcome this situation.
But with him unable to formulate a plan, the tentacles swung.
“… Is what we woulda done in our generation.”
Ikaruga’s tentacles hit not against Takeru, but the ground at his feet.
He purposely missed, apparently. Lord Helvenom blinked twice, three times. The attack wasn’t coming, the moment he thought that, the power left his body and he fell against the wall, almost collapsing down it.
His shoulders were suddenly grasped. First Lemeo on his left shoulder, then Hurtle on his right.
Carrying Lord Helvenom’s confused shoulder, Lemeo spoke.
“… Call me a useless tool, eh. Just you watch. I’ll be the one to defeat that hero you failed to finish off. So you’re gonna have to do just a bit more work to get us there, captain.”
“I’m sorry, I got in the way last time. And thank you, you saved Murtle…”
Speaking in a laudable tone, Hurtle changed her grip, immediately switching over to a hyper voice.
“So, well, it’s that, let’s leave the past behind us and try to get alone, Helvenom-niichin! ‘n Wait, you’re really human? That jaw line… don’t tell me you’re actually a hotty?”
“Y-you can’t, he’s our leader, so that attitude is…”
Lord Helvenom gazed over Murtle and Hurtle’s quibble feeling as if he was seeing an illusion.
Good grief, Ikaruga shrugged his shoulders.
“Seriously, you next gens are all a gathering of softies.”
“Oh, isn’t that just fine? Just make it the new Leviathan policy.”
Arachne sounded amused.
“At the very least, it’s true that he’s the one to come closest to that Gaimoon’s power. You didn’t punish him because you recognize that, right?”
Ikaruga shrugged his shoulders, he didn’t answer.
Lord Helvenom let out a deep sigh. It was just as Ikaruga said.
These alters weren’t cut out for villainy in the slightest.
“You’re going to show us, aren’t you? A new future for alters?”
Lord Helvenom raised his face at Ecole’s words.
Those eyes formed from external organs were filled to the brim with human-like tears.
“… As long as we live we can fight again. We’ll fight as many times it takes.”
“… Yes, precisely.”
Lord Helvenom spat out a breath.
He was still alive. This heart still beat.
What does it take to be a hero?
Someone who continues to win. Who fights, fights, and fights, and piles up victory.
That’s why a hero requires someone to fight. They require an evil to defeat.
In that case, no matter how many times Lord Helvenom was defeated, he would have to stand up each time. Until he defeated Omou Mia upon her seat of stacked victory, and freed her from the fate of a hero. Lord Helvenom would have to be Gaimoon’s enemy.
“Then let us be off.”
A wound-ridden Takeru said, wearing the mask of Lord Helvenom.
“For our good fight. And for our good future.”
Finally back after her wounds healed, Omou Mia popped by the afterschool library for the first in quite a while. But Takeru was nowhere to be found.
“… Okina-kun was injured?”
“Yes. Heard it was a traffic accident or something. God, it really is a dangerous world we live in. I mean, he collapsed and you had to nurse him the other day, right… more importantly! Are you alright Omou-senpai!? I heard you were severely injured, and the police were called in or something, and because of that, you’ve been away for a whole week…”
“Ah, yeah. I’m fine, just fine. A bit jumbled, but I’m already better.”
“Is that… so.”
After her face clouded with anxiety, Nozomi scratched her cheek.
“No, then that’s good. See, haven’t there been too many strange incidents in these parts lately. It’s making me sensitive. Man, seriously, it’s best for there to be nothing going on.”
With a bitter smile, Nozomi mumbled an addition.
“There’s really no guarantee tomorrow will never come as normal, after all.”
She was searching for Takeru to invite him to visit Sawako’s grave.
This past week, Mia’s father’s good friends—the Foundation’s arrangements had her hospitalized, and during that time, Sawako’s funeral and burial had all been carried out without her.
Now, Sawako slept in a grave in Tsukimori City. She heard the funeral was held by the parents of Teiko FC, and a great many people in the neighborhood. The moment Mia was discharged, she knew she had to visit the grave.
According to the chief mourner, Takeru didn’t show at the funeral either. Her phone calls wouldn’t connect. If he was in a traffic incident, did that mean he was hospitalized now? Should she go see him? But she had no idea what to talk to Takeru about these days.
Mia returned from school alone, and made for Sawako’s grave.
Perhaps because summer was close, the blue still remained in the sky. It was a nice clear sky.
She took the public train and bought a bouquet of flowers close to the station she got down on.
Sawako had like them, vibrant assorted hydrangea.
With bouquet in arms, Mia borrowed a bucket and scoop at the cemetery entrance and proceeded towards the grave.
Going down the graveyard that smelled of incense, when she reached the spot she’d been told of Mia’s feet stopped. There was a prior visitor at Sawako’s grave.
It was Takeru.
To Mia’s voice, her childhood friend with his hands together in front of the grave turned with a surprised look on his face. Wearing the same unfashionable glasses as ever, Takeru was in casual clothing. It made her curious that he was wearing a long-sleeve shirt in this weather, but he didn’t seem to be injured anywhere.
“Are you alright? I heard you were out from injury.”
“Yeah, just twisted something a bit. More importantly, how about you…”
Mia mustered all her strength to answer.
“… I’m fine, so…”
Takeru’s nonchalant words sounded terribly kind.
The grave was already lain with flowers. A vibrant assortment of hydrangea.
“… We got the same flowers.”
“Sawa-chan would shout, ‘I don’t need this much!’ Wouldn’t she?”
“She’s at least say ‘Pick something more sensible’.”
“Ahaha, she would! She really would, I can hear it! Really, Take-chan, don’t make me laugh.”
Mia laughed. It was so out of place, her tears were flowing up.
Aw man, I decided not to cry.
But if I’m crying because I’m laughing, then it doesn’t count, right?
“So the tears come out even if I’m not sad… haha…. I really am beat there… no, no… and wait, there’s way too much coming out… haha, haha.”
One after the other, the hot moistness dripped down her cheek.
The momentum of the tears picked up. They began to come accompanied by sobs.
“… Why won’t they stop, why, why… I decided I wouldn’t cry anymore.”
I can’t cry anymore. I’m going to be fighting alone from now on.
This was supposed to be a grave visit to report her resolve. Like this, she wouldn’t be able to look Sawako in the eye—
She was called in a nostalgic voice, a nostalgic name.
Takeru held out a handkerchief. There were damp spots over the pure white handkerchief.
“You can cry if you want to. You don’t have to act tough when you’re with me and Sawa-chan.”
Curtly, in a tone that hadn’t changed from the past.
“You’re Mia. You haven’t changed at all, you’re the crybaby Omou Mia.”
Mia sniffled as she reached for the handkerchief. The warmth that would accept her as she was.
For now, for this moment alone, to remove the mask of a hero.
— I shall never fall. As long as you exist, no matter how many times it takes, I’ll come back.
Mia stopped her hand.
The corpse voice of frozen emotion reverberated in her heart.
— Until we meet again, Gaimoon… my beloved Hero!
“… Thank you, but I’m fine.”
Mia retracted her hand. After forcefully wiping her tears away, she showed a smile.
“I’m not the past me anymore. So you don’t need to worry.”
You can’t get close. You can’t show yourself.
You can’t let that Alchemuls steal anything else away.
“Take-chan, you should save that consideration for your girlfriend. Not a childhood friend like me. Otherwise, you’ll never be popular, you know? … You don’t have to, worry about me anymore.”
So I’ll sever these feelings.
To distance my precious people from that battle. To protect the peace of those dear.
“… Got it.”
Takeru quietly tucked away the handkerchief and picked up his bag.
“… You’re leaving already?”
“I have some business to attend to after this. So, Mia,”
Once again, Takeru called to her. Someone curt, but filled with kindness.
“See you tomorrow.”
Mia’s throat stuffed up.
See you tomorrow. How many times had Mia lost her ‘normal’ tomorrow?
There’s no guarantee tomorrow will come as normal. None at all, so she had to protect it. It was in order to protect it that Mia had become a Hero, become Gaimoon.
So Mia answered. There was her own resolve determination.
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.”
— My beloved Take-chan.
The thin assist suit under his casual clothes drove his fractured limbs.
Mia didn’t doubt it in the slightest. In that case, it looked like he could go to school normally tomorrow.
Today’s meeting was guided by Sawa-chan, or perhaps a curse.
But Mia would likely never find out the antipathy Sawako held towards alters.
He had already made his choice.
The moment he killed Sawako, Takeru had lost the qualifications to ever truly be happy.
An SNS notification came to his tablet terminal. From Ecole—Sakurai Kanon.
‘Everyone’s ready. Can go at any time.’
He immediately tapped in the reply.
‘Understood. Proceed plan as scheduled. I’ll give orders from here.’
Today, once again, evil was squirming in Tsukimori City. The alters were creeping.
A drop of water fell from the tip of Takeru’s nose.
The sky that had been clear up to a moment ago, before he realized it, had been covered in a sheet of gray clouds.
She didn’t take the handkerchief. Mia had already accepted the path to live as a hero. From now on, it would be impossible for Mia and Takeru’s paths to cross.
It was impossible for them to interact as anything other than enemies.
The moment he felt the reality of it, Takeru’s chest hurt so hard it might burst open.
There’s no way to turn back time.
He would need to discard these emotions. We would need to lose these feelings.
So Takeru chanted.
To redefine his own existence.
I am the leader of Calamity Co. Leviathan, Lord Helvenom. And,
I am fear, I am awe, I am shadow,
— I am Alchemuls: The absolute evil for my hero.
This is my first time with Gagaga Bunko. ‘A protagonist who plays the evil part for the hero of justice’ was an idea that was already thought up for the character of a certain other series. But while I thought over it, the concept expanded, and with numerous rejections from my presiding editor, as I kept turning it over, the shape of the main story continued to change. It was originally supposed to be a comedy, but by the time I noticed it, I had taken the active hard route.
this work has been through such changes, but now that I look at it completed, I get the feeling I managed to turn out just the sort of thing I personally like. In that sense, I’m exceedingly satisfied as an author that I managed to write this piece. By the way, ‘Gaimoon’s Song’ goes up to three verses.
While I’m putting it last, to my editor Ebashi-sama, the illustrator Oguchi-sama, the editing department of Gagaga Bunko, and everyone who engaged in the production of this book, you have my sincerest thanks. When no one could ever call this a well-selling work, forget hitting the brakes, you pressed the accel and gave me a push on the back, I really am thankful.
Well then, I pray we’ll all be able to meet again.
The first Hero show I ever saw in real time was Gridman, this is Ooizumi Takashi