The Eighth Guidance’s bombing of the Bravers’ headquarters.
This bombing incident caused great damage to the Bravers’ reputation, which still hadn’t recovered from the ‘Fallen hero incident,’ where the crimes of Kaidou Kanata, one of the Bravers, were revealed.
Up until then, the Bravers had been literal heroes to the people of Origin.
All of the Bravers’ members possessed genius-level talent for magic and tremendous physical capabilities, and each of them had non-magic, special superpowers that had only existed in fictional works.
They came running to help when accidents and disasters happened. They had done many deeds that put them at the forefront of the war against terrorism.
There had even been people worshipping the Bravers as angels sent by a god.
However, once the crimes committed by Kaidou Kanata were made public, it revealed that the Bravers were just humans like the rest.
As the Bravers had been trying to restore their fallen image, the bombing incident had occurred.
Among the casualties were two of the Bravers’ members, Shimada Izumi and Machida Aran, and several staff were also injured.
The world expressed sympathy for the Bravers and anger towards the Eighth Guidance. However, this was a defeat that was difficult to erase for the Bravers as an anti-terrorist organization.
Most importantly, two of their companions had been killed.
The loss of Shimada Izumi with ‘Inspection,’ which allowed her to see through all kinds of falsehoods, and Machida Aran with ‘Calculation’ that made him a living supercomputer, was a hard blow for the organization, and their companions from Earth of which there had only been a hundred were now two fewer. And these two hadn’t died because they were paying for their mistakes like Kaidou Kanata, who had been killed by Shihouin Mari because he had been illegally selling her mother’s organs.
The Bravers had been able to act the way they did up until now because these two had been working behind the scenes.
“We’ll definitely avenge those three!” exclaimed Minami Asagi, who had been a part of sports clubs on Earth.
There were many like him who raised their fists in fierce anger, advocating that they should punish the Eighth Guidance, and the traitors like Murakami Junpei, with their own hands.
All of the Bravers, including Minami Asagi, knew that all of the members of the Eighth Guidance had been victims of death-attribute research and then been handed over to another research institution while under the Bravers’ protection.
Indeed, if the Bravers had acted properly back then, it was possible that these victims wouldn’t have become terrorists.
However, the murder of the Bravers’ companions couldn’t be forgiven.
“Shimada and Machida were our companions who saved our lives countless times! And Mari… she killed Kanata, but she was supposed to atone for her crime! There was no reason for her to be killed by terrorists! Isn’t that right?!” shouted Asagi, seeking the agreement of his companions in this space that was completely white, from the floor to the ceiling.
Amemiya Hiroto, and Amemiya Narumi, whose surname had changed from Naruse after marriage, were present. There were over a dozen other Bravers gathered here as well.
All of them were armed with military body armor, knives of all kinds, and the latest gloves that had the functions of a staff built-in internally.
“We’ll make them regret it!”
Over half of the Bravers were in agreement with Asagi. It seemed that the impact of having their companions killed wasn’t one that the Bravers could accept calmly.
Though the reincarnated individuals had been trained to fight terrorists and engaged in battle with them many times, they had never been defeated. Due to the talent for magic, fortunes and cheat-like abilities that had been given to them, they had been able to emerge victorious continuously.
Some had suffered serious injuries, and even nearly died. However, these wounds were healed by magic and cheat-like abilities, and they had managed to slip through the battlefield alive.
The exception was Kaidou Kanata, who had been killed by another reincarnated individual.
This was why the reincarnated individuals were not accustomed to the deaths of their companions.
Not good. This is headed in a bad direction.
Hiroto grimaced at Asagi and his companions, who were getting more and more spirited. Being the only one other than the ‘Oracle’ Endou Kouya who knew that the Undead was actually another reincarnated individual, he wanted to capture the members of the Eighth Guidance as quietly as possible, as they were those who had been saved by his ‘companion.’
The Eighth Guidance was committing crimes repeatedly all over the world, in developed nations in particular, so it would be impossible to acquit them. Hiroto had intended to secure them in a facility where their human rights would be respected as much as possible, or if it was possible to convince them, secretly sneak them out into a third-world country.
However, the members of the Eighth Guidance were more stubborn, and more serious, than Hiroto or Kouya had expected.
After killing the logistical support members, Shimada Izumi and Machida Aran, they had gone on to kill the captive Shihouin Mari, the ‘Metamorph,’ with another bomb in the same way.
It was possible that their actions had become more radical under the influence of Murakami and the others joining them, but it was now a situation where they couldn’t be brought in quietly.
“I understand how you feel. But our mission is only to capture the Eighth Guidance. Not erase them. Don’t forget that,” Hiroto said, trying to calm his companions down.
But Asagi and the others began to object.
“I know. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fight back if they resist. Right?” Asagi asked.
“That’s right,” was the only response that Hiroto could give.
He wanted to save the Eighth Guidance. However, he couldn’t do that at the cost of Asagi and his other companions.
“Hiroto, I know how you feel. You want to save Pluto and the others because they were victims, right? But this is the result of their choices… it can’t be helped,” said Narumi.
“Narumi, that’s… that’s right. For now, let’s focus on our mission.” Unable to tell his wife the truth, that the Eighth Guidance worshipped the one who had once tried to save her, the one she had later mistaken Hiroto to be, Hiroto could only nod with a bitter feeling in his chest.
And this was a choice that he had made to save the Eighth Guidance.
With the Oracle, Endou Kouya had finally determined the whereabouts of the Eighth Guidance base where Murakami and the others were hiding. In order to save as many of the Eighth Guidance members as possible while minimizing the losses his companions suffered, the Bravers had to attack the base quickly.
Having received this news on a private Bravers line, he had gathered as many members as he could and taken action. The Bravers couldn’t act alone, so the special forces of every nation were joining the mission, but this was part of the instructions that Kouya had given as well.
Thus, this situation had been produced by the choice given by the Oracle. There wasn’t anything to be anxious about.
Or at least, that should be the case, but… I can believe you, right, Kouya?
Kouya was his close friend, but Hiroto felt some unease at the fact that the Oracle’s instructions had been delivered in a written message.
“Amemiya, you have quite the unhappy face,” someone called out to him. “If the leader makes a face like that, it’ll affect the morale of the whole squad.”
The one who was speaking to him was the ‘Avalon,’ Rikudou Akira. He was an unusual man among the Bravers; he was a finesse-type person with magic that was superior to his special ability.
He was someone who had been a class representative of a different class to Narumi and Asagi’s.
“Akira-kun, I’m sorry. But right now –” Narumi began.
“I know how you feel, but it’s not just the Eighth Guidance. We’ll be fighting Murakami and the others… Chronos, Venus, Marionette, Death Scythe, Odin, Hecatoncheir… Ten traitors who knows our plans, with dangerous abilities. It seems that the blood has risen to Asagi’s head, but this fight will be harsher and more dangerous than any mission we’ve faced before,” Rikudou said.
“Sorry, you’re absolutely right,” Hiroto said.
As Rikudou said, they would be fighting those with abilities on the same level as themselves, including the ‘Chronos’ Murakami, as enemies. There was no telling how many casualties would be suffered if everyone focused only on the Eighth Guidance.
Rikudou exhaled and loosened the muscles around his mouth, as if he was satisfied with Amemiya’s reply. “As long you understand.” He turned to Narumi. “Mrs. Amemiya, as a wife, you have the right to say some harsh things to your husband from time to time.”
“You’re right, I’ll take care to do that from now on. But I didn’t think that I’d be told that by you. Considering how your wife spoils you,” Narumi said.
“That’s because I’m perfect as a husband,” said Rikudou. “In terms of experience as a husband, I’m above you, Amemiya-kun.”
“Indeed. I can’t overcome someone so full of experience who has married three times and divorced twice,” said Hiroto.
“Hey, we weren’t supposed to talk about that!” Rikudou said, laughing.
With some of his tension relieved, Amemiya said some brief words to Narumi and Rikudou to excuse himself and went to cool off Asagi’s heading, thinking that it was his turn to make a speech now.
“… That Asagi, noisy as usual, isn’t he?” muttered Mao Smith, who was operating a special stealth craft, clicking her tongue.
On Earth, she had been a ferry crewman by the name of Nagano Mao, and she had been reincarnated in Origin’s equivalent of Europe.
She had been going back and forth across the sea in a boat on Earth, but in Origin, she was a fighter pilot.
She had been influenced by the family she had been born into in Origin, a family who had been military officers for generations, and before long, she had started flying.
“Going on and on as he likes inside someone’s ability, jeez. It’s distracting,” Mao muttered, checking a crystal meter to make sure that her anti-magic and anti-radar stealth barrier was online.
Her cheat-like ability was ‘Noah.’ It was an ability that allowed her to maintain a special subspace and transport living things and items inside it.
It was, so to speak, an ability possessed by the player character of any game. It had a maximum limit, but fit about a tanker ship’s worth of objects or even people inside that special space and transport them freely, ignoring their weight.
She had utilized this to transport large quantities of supplies to the sites of disasters and to seize large amounts of evidence from terrorist bases and bring them back swiftly.
This time, she was transporting her allies. Mao could have used a transport helicopter, but flying a fighter on her own while transporting them allowed her to deliver them to the Eighth Guidance’s base far more quickly.
“Still, these were strange orders, weren’t they?”
Mao was concerned about Endou Kouya’s orders. There was one more seat in this stealth fighter, but instead of a co-pilot, a small box had been placed there.
“Do not tell any of the other Bravers about the existence of this box’s contents, and then hand its contents to Amemiya Hiroto after you arrive at the destination.” Those were her orders.
Why did she have to transport it outside of Noah, and why did she have to keep its existence a secret? It was too mysterious.
“But they’re the Oracle’s orders, right? Even if I asked Endou directly, he probably wouldn’t answer me.”
There was no explanation for the results produced by the Oracle. Even Endou Kouya himself, the one who possessed the ability, was unlikely to know why things had to be like this.
But the reality was that the Oracle’s strange instructions had saved the lives of the Bravers many times.
“It’s a small price to pay if I have to keep the existence of one small box secret to save my allies’ lives. Now then, I suppose we’re arriving soon.”
And then, just as Mao began switching the stealth fighter from flight mode to vertical movement mode –
“It’s just as Murakami and Shade said, isn’t it?” an unfamiliar, high-pitched voice came from behind her without warning.
Before she could react, a knife held by a white hand extending from behind was thrust into her neck.
“With this, she can’t recite incantations, can she? Isn’t this a great victory for Jack?”
In the corner of her vision, Mao saw the member of the Eighth Guidance who possessed a swollen head that appeared as if he was wearing a pumpkin over his face, Jack o’ Lantern.
“Yeah, that’s amazing, Jack. With this, everyone can die.”
And then a lifeless-looking, ghost-like girl appeared, as if this were a horror movie. It was the ‘Gazer,’ Minuma Hitomi, who had joined the Eighth Guidance along with Murakami and the others, or rather, kidnapped and taken with them.
These guys, an Eighth Guidance member and Gazer?! Why are they here?! This aircraft hasn’t decelerated yet; we’re still traveling at the speed of sound!
If they had used space-attribute magic, teleporting would have been possible. However, that would require accurate coordinates of the destination point.
It was absolutely impossible, even for a master of space-attribute magic, to teleport inside the cockpit of an aircraft flying at the speed of sound.
If their timing was even a little off, they would collide with the aircraft or be left falling, thousands of meters above the ground.
How did these guys even know this stealth fighter’s flight path in the first place… this is bad, I don’t have time to think!
Mao’s head was filled with questions, but she had no time to address them. Unfortunately, she had been adjusting the meters and disabled the autopilot, so she couldn’t let go of the joystick. She couldn’t use her proficient wind-attribute magic inside the tiny cockpit, and she couldn’t raise her voice to recite any incantations anyway.
“Does this make Jack the first to arrive, Hitomi-chan?” said Jack.
“Not yet, Jack. You have to thrust that knife in more deeply or pull it strongly. These guys have magic items for life support in times of emergency, so if you don’t kill them, they have a chance to survive!”
“I see! Thanks, Hitomi-chan.”
Obeying the Gazer’s instructions, Jack gripped his knife forcefully to sever Mao’s head.
Fortunately for Mao, Jack wasn’t accustomed to killing, and he didn’t have much physical strength. However, at this rate, she wouldn’t last more than ten seconds.
What do I do?! Gazer can just use magic if she wants to, so if I let go of the joystick and resist, in the worst-case scenario, she might just blow us all up, including herself! I can’t die yet!
The reason was that her companions were inside Noah. If Mao died, there was no telling what would happen to them.
If Noah’s user died, its effects would likely be undone. Amemiya Hiroto and the others who were inside would likely be thrown out.
And this was an aircraft flying above the clouds at the speed of sound. Of course, even if the Bravers were thrown out here, they were all first-rate users of magic, so they might survive.
But what if they crashed into this stealth aircraft that was traveling at the speed of sound the moment they were thrown out? What if they immediately lost consciousness due to the change in atmospheric pressure?
Even with their Magic Items, the situation was not very optimistic. Gazer was overvaluing them; the function of those Magic Items was only to buy a little time before death when their users were fatally wounded.
To think that I was the passionate type who would give her life to save her allies!
“Jack, hurry and kill that woman –!”
“Hitomi-chan, you’ll hurt your face.”
The moment Gazer and Jack spoke, the cockpit flew open as if exploding. And then the seat that Mao was sitting in was ejected.
Escape successful. It looks like I was able to avenge myself, too.
Mao had activated the aircraft’s escape mechanism, launching herself into the sky, and now she began falling. In her field of vision, she could see her aircraft that was more expensive than her entire lifetime’s income, becoming rapidly more distant, as well as Jack and Gazer, who were falling towards the ground.
The moment Mao ejected, Jack had protected Gazer. Because of this, there was a large dent in his swollen head. He had likely died instantly.
Gazer was falling, embracing the dead Jack.
She went and found a single man. How can she do such a suicidal thing when she’s got someone she loves…
Because the knife had come out of her throat, she was bleeding more violently. And because she had forcibly activated the escape mechanism during sonic-speed flight, her bones were broken in several places, too. Her organs seemed to be in bad shape as well.
With this, even her Magic Item wouldn’t know which fatal wound to heal.
At this rate, I won’t have time to let everyone out of Noah and save them… I’m rapidly accelerating towards the ground, anyway.
Perhaps because of the attack that Gazer performed before dying, Mao’s parachute wouldn’t open.
And I suppose I’m losing consciousness… now…
If you all survive being thrown out, make my funeral a grand one, Mao thought as she parted with her consciousness.
“I suppose Jack and Gazer should have gone ahead by now,” Endou Kouya said as he worked on his PC. “If I do this here, then this… how complicated. This is why I hate machines.” He went through numerous complex procedures, putting a program into the computer. “And I’m done. With this, everything has become your crime. I’ve made the reason for your crime, ‘because you heard a demon’s voice,’ and all of the Oracle’s predictions were the predictions of a demon. Not that I know what a demon is, though.”
Kouya was in a room alone, talking to himself in the mirror. Of course, the mirror’s reflection of him was also alone.
However, his face was unusually stiff. The muscles of his face were spasming, and his mouth and cheeks were crooked.
“Don’t be so angry, Oracle Endou Kouya. It’s your fault for being so focused on finding Murakami and the rest of us, neglecting your own protection. That’s why your body was taken over by an evil spirit… by ‘Shade.’”
The one manipulating Endou Kouya’s body was one of the Eighth Guidance’s members, Shade, who had lost his physical body but gained the ability to possess corpses.
Normally, he could only possess dead bodies, but he could actually possess a living human, just once, taking over their body. Murakami and the others had been used as bait, and then Shade had used this power to take over Endou Kouya’s body.
And then he had set a trap for Amemiya Hiroto and the others, saying that these were the instructions of the Oracle. He had ordered for a box containing an almost-dead mouse to be placed in the stealth fighter’s cockpit, so that Jack could be sent in, as he was able to teleport near any almost-dead person… or to be more precise, any almost-dead creature.
“It’s easy, isn’t it? If I just say that it’s the result given by the Oracle, everyone moves about in interesting ways. Everyone carries out your orders, no matter how strange they are. Like, ‘Pretend to show no hostility towards the Undead.’”
The moment Shade spoke these words, his face’s convulsions stopped.
“Surprised? Murakami heard from Gazer, so he knows it. That’s why I’ve decided that I’m definitely going to kill you,” Shade said, picking up a hand grenade that he had acquired beforehand by saying that it was needed for the Oracle’s orders. “Even if I take your body, it’s not like I can use your abilities or magic. So, I’ll be using a method that will definitely kill you. Ah, if you don’t have a body of your own, killing yourself takes some time, too.”
The reason Shade could only take over a living human’s body once was because once he did so, he would fuse with that body and never be able to leave it.
In other words, if Endou Kouya died, Shade would die as well.
He could die. He didn’t have a physical body, but he could die just like everyone else!
“I could wait three hours for the false information that I created using Endou Kouya’s body to spread across the world, but… I don’t want to be the only one left alive when everyone else has died.”
Shade pulled the pin from the hand grenade, held it in his mouth and closed his eyes.
“Jack, Gazer, Mao Smith, Endou Kouya and Shade have gone,” Enma announced to his companions.
He was a boy whose entire eyes were black, even the parts that were supposed to be white.
The Eighth Guidance’s base… or to be more precise, the battlefield that Pluto and the others had prepared for the decisive battle, was a ruin in Northern Europe.
It was a historical ruin in the middle of what had been turned into a barren wasteland filled with rocks by an ultimate weapon that had been used in a previous great war.
The infrastructure and everything else was dead, and staying here for extended periods of time would normally be impossible. Pluto and the others were using the subway system beneath this desert as their base.
The remaining members of the Eighth Guidance, who surrounded a large table that they had found in the ruins, all directed their gazes towards Pluto simultaneously.
“So, have the others died?” Pluto asked, not moving a single eyebrow despite the gazes of her companions.
Enma, who possessed an ability that told him the names and faces of those who had died, closed his eyes in concentration for a few moments before replying. “No, the names of Amemiya Hiroto and the others aren’t there. The others aren’t there, either, so they’re all still alive.”
“Maybe they’re fatally wounded but just haven’t died yet,” said Isis, a black woman.
But Enma shook his head. “They possess advanced magic of all attributes, and are the users of more powerful abilities than ours. They have Magic Items, too. If a few of them are unharmed, the rest of them will recover. Only instant death is certain.”
“I see, then I suppose they’ll be headed this way right about now,” said Valkyrie, crossing her arms.
She was a tall, beautiful woman with long, platinum-blonde hair.
The Bravers couldn’t turn back just because one of their allies had been killed. The special forces of every nation were already spreading out around this area.
More importantly, they would take action to avenge their companions. The leader, Amemiya Hiroto, seemed to want to save the Eighth Guidance, which made things complicated, but that wouldn’t make him change the plan.
Even if Amemiya Hiroto stopped the plan now, the special forces were already moving. If they ran into Murakami and the others, they would be annihilated. That would mean that the Bravers had canceled the plan that they themselves had suggested, leaving the special forces to die.
Of course, even if that didn’t happen, Shade’s handiwork would cause the Bravers’ reputation to plummet regardless.
Causing the Bravers’ reputation to plummet was little more than harassment; it meant nothing in particular to Pluto and the others. Either way, they would be dying soon, and they didn’t care about what happened after they died.
However, they thought that it would be good if, after they died, the surviving Bravers suffered. But that was all they thought about it.
“Well then, Murakami and the others will be betraying us soon,” said Izanami, a barely human-shaped creature whose sex couldn’t be determined, with protuberances the size of babies’ heads growing all over its body.
But nobody denied those words. They had already established that Murakami and the others, who had betrayed the Bravers, would betray them as well.
“So, what are we going to do, Pluto?” asked the sweet-looking Baba Yaga, who had her hair in braids.
“Let’s see. For now, let’s finish eating,” said Pluto, pointing at the numerous onigiri on the plates lined up on the table.
They were in the middle of a meal.
They were upholding the Eighth Guidance’s rule of all sharing a meal together at least once a day.
However, as Shade had no physical body, he had always just passed some food through the stomach of whatever corpse he possessed, and several days ago, he had gone off to act separately from the rest. And because Mao’s stealth fighter had departed earlier than expected today, Jack and Gazer had disappeared partway through the meal.
“Good night, Jack, Shade, Gazer. Let us meet on the other side,” Pluto said.
“I wonder about that, maybe Shade is sleeping right about now. At night, he always complained that he couldn’t sleep because he didn’t have a physical body.”
“I wonder what Jack and Gazer are doing? Do you think they managed to say hello to the Undead?”
“Hmm, knowing those two, I’m sure they would be too nervous to be able to say anything.”
“Well then, Shade won’t have any time to sleep, either. He’ll have to introduce those two to the Undead.”
The members of the Eighth Guidance ate the onigiri that contained various different ingredients as they shared this conversation.
The onigiri made with the rice that the Undead had apparently said that he wanted to eat while he was alive.
And once they finished eating, they stood up and left the table.
“Well then, may we meet again on the other side.”
The final meal together had ended. Now, their lives in this world would come to an end.
Pluto, who was the last to finish eating her onigiri, turned her gaze to the seat in which Hitomi had been sitting. Hitomi’s final prediction bothered her.
“Pluto. You will turn a blind eye to two of them,” Hitomi had said.
“I’ll turn a blind eye to two of them… not spare them, but turn a blind eye to them, which means either the Bravers or the soldiers, right? It’s definitely the latter, isn’t it?” Pluto murmured.
Pluto would probably turn a blind eye to two soldiers who would say that they had a fiancé in their hometown, or that they had young children and a pregnant wife waiting for them to return, or simply cry pathetically for their mothers.
Pluto having a long-lost sibling among the special forces… such a situation wouldn’t happen.
But it would certainly not be the Bravers.
“Because I would never turn a blind eye to those guys,” Pluto said.
Bravers: Endou Kouya, Mao Smith, deceased. Two casualties.
Eighth Guidance: Jack o’ Lantern, Shade, Minuma Hitomi the Gazer, deceased. Three casualties.
The anti-Bravers led by Murakami: All nine members still alive.