The signal from the stealth fighter piloted by ‘Noah’ of the Bravers vanished. The army that had lent the fighter to the Bravers passed this information onto the special forces members who were on standby, surrounding the Eighth Guidance’s base, and it was devastating news for them.
To the ordinary people, the Bravers were heroes, but to soldiers, they were more than just that. To the soldiers, Amemiya Hiroto and the others were cheats… ‘unfair’ beings.
One hundred geniuses that normally appeared very rarely were all born in the same generation, and most of them had been born on an island nation to the far east. And all of them possessed at least one non-magic ‘ability’ that worked on unknown principles.
Partially due to these ‘abilities,’ each of them had the power to shake entire nations.
The ‘fallen hero’ Kanata had possessed Gungnir, which allowed him to snipe and kill any target through any obstacles.
The ‘Metamorph’ Shihouin Mari, who had killed Kanata, was a master of disguise beyond what was seen in spy movies. She could change her race and physique instantly, rendering scanners for fingerprints, retinas, and voice signatures useless, and there was a high possibility that she could fool sensors that identified the Mana wavelengths of individuals as well.
The Oracle Endou Kouya, Machida Aran with Calculation, Shimada Izumi with Inspection. All of them broke the rules.
The most fearsome of the Bravers was Amemiya Hiroto. If he had been born before the World War, it would likely have been the eastern island nation, not the American-European alliance, that ruled the world.
“So, did the stealth fighter’s signal disappear because of an attack by the Eighth Guidance? Are the Bravers still alive?” asked a commanding officer of the special forces of one of the nations.
“Unknown,” his subordinate immediately replied. “However, the vital signals of ‘Noah,’ Mao Smith, have ceased.”
“I see, so that troublesome woman has disappeared.”
Mao had been marked among the Bravers as someone who needed to be under significant surveillance. That wasn’t because her behavior was often problematic, but because her Noah ability was troublesome.
Things stored inside Noah could never be detected from the outside. Precious metals, firearms, drugs, she could transport them as she liked. Of course, that included people.
What if she were to transport a dangerous biological weapon inside Noah? The thought was enough to terrify the high officials in every nation.
The Bravers had possessed society’s trust up until now, but there were Murakami Junpei and the others who were now working with the Eighth Guidance.
No matter how noble they were, there was no saying for sure that they would never stain their hands with crime.
That was why it wasn’t bad if the Bravers died. It would be best if they were to work for the nation and find permanent employment, but them dying was far better than them joining other nations or criminal organizations.
“First, we should confirm how many losses the Bravers have sustained, and wait for contact from them to hear whether they’re in a state to participate in the operation. In theory, we would take this option. However, it’s highly likely that the Eighth Guidance has already detected our operation,” the commanding officer said.
If that wasn’t the case, there was no way a latest-model stealth fighter would go missing with its young and healthy pilot dead.
How had the Eighth Guidance, who shouldn’t have been in possession of any radar equipment, detected the approach of a stealth fighter? It was possible that it was the doing of Murakami Junpei or one of the others with their abilities, but it was a known fact that all of the members of the Eighth Guidance were able to use one death-attribute spell in exchange for not being able to use magic of the normal attributes.
Both possibilities were feasible.
“Commanding officer, there are none among Murakami Junpei and the others who possess a suitable ability for this,” said the subordinate. “Is it not the doing of the Eighth Guidance?”
The abilities of Murakami Junpei and his followers were already well-known.
Murakami had Chronos, an ability that delayed the activation of other Bravers’ abilities and magic cast by others that were nearby. He also had incredible Mana regeneration that was always active.
His companion Tsuchiya Kanako had Venus, which charmed others. However, this didn’t work on other Bravers.
There was Death Scythe that caused instant death by looking at the target’s face, Super Sense that strengthened the user’s five senses, Sylphid that transformed the user’s body into gas, Marionette that allowed the manipulation of others by touching them, Hecatoncheir that was telekinesis… they were users of all kinds of abilities.
Gazer, who could see the future, had been a particularly problematic one, but she had apparently been in a mostly vegetative state when Murakami kidnapped her, so it was unclear whether she could use her ability.
However, the commanding officer did not trust this information. The source of this information was the Bravers, after all. Sometimes the information from his own nation’s intelligence service was wrong; he couldn’t just blindly accept information from outside sources.
“If the ability-users work together, they may be able to use their abilities in ways that aren’t in our intel. And there is no saying that they won’t have a trump card hidden up their sleeves. Don’t let your guard down,” he said. “We have been given top-secret orders. As we have been ordered, we will begin our operation!”
And then, without knowing the fate of the Bravers, and without making any communications to the other squads, the squad began moving.
“We will definitely acquire the members of the Eighth Guidance, whose bodies contain death-attribute Mana, for our nation! It doesn’t matter if they’re corpses, kill them and take them with us!” the commanding officer shouted.
“Yes, sir!” his men responded.
Knowing how much the military nation had benefited after discovering the death attribute, the high officials of every nation couldn’t help but to want that glory for their own nations.
Most importantly, that magic would allow the realization of humanity’s dream, immortality, would it not? Considering that, and considering that the other nations would think the same, they couldn’t help themselves.
The members of the Eighth Guidance, who could only use one type of death-attribute magic each, wielded this much power. If one nation monopolized the death attribute, how powerful would it become? Thus, it was justice for our nation to ‘control’ it.
This squad was not the only one to have received special orders from the upper echelons of their nation that had these thoughts.
The soldiers of the special forces possessed carefully-trained bodies and were studied users of advanced magic. In addition, they were outfitted with the latest equipment.
Active camouflage Magic Items that used light-attribute magic, the thermal sensor Magic Items that used fire-attribute magic, and the anti-infrared Magic Items were flawless as well.
And they were equipped with firearms, knives, all kinds of chemicals, state-of-the-art internal ‘staff’ gloves and communications equipment that could communicate both technologically and magically.
Each individual soldier was a superhuman with more fighting power than a tank. Squads of sizes varying from a dozen to thirty men had been sent by ten different nations.
They had confidence that they would fulfil their mission. They were also conceited in themselves for being highly-trained soldiers.
They certainly wouldn’t lose to amateurs who relied on unknown powers… the Bravers who couldn’t escape their image of seeming like civilians, and guinea pigs who hadn’t undergone any training, as long as the situation was kept under control. They couldn’t lose.
That was what they thought.
Amemiya Hiroto had deliberately made the Bravers’ abilities open knowledge so that they wouldn’t be persecuted by others. However, no matter what he did, he had not been able to reduce the number of people opposing them to zero.
Anti-personnel landmines and booby traps. The work of an amateur, the commanding officer thought.
The soldiers of the special forces proceeded through the subway tunnels that were the Eighth Guidance’s base, disarming the traps that had been set one after another. Things might have been different if they were normal police officers or soldiers that were sent on ordinary missions, but for these men, this was no different from going on a stroll.
Is this the Eighth Guidance? They’re quite –
As the commanding officer heard consecutive gunshots, his thoughts stopped permanently.
Dozens of gun barrels had appeared out of thin air and opened fire on the special forces.
“An enemy attack?!”
“Let there be a stone wall!” the commanding officer shouted immediately, conjuring a stone wall with earth-attribute magic to hide his body behind.
The commanding officer of this squad thought that this was a surprise attack by the special forces of another nation to dispose of a competitor.
If that wasn’t the case, the enemies wouldn’t be using the latest active camouflage.
“Eizam, use Napalm! Beck, Tyler, oxygen!” the commanding officer ordered, knowing that the stone wall would be broken through by magic within the next ten seconds and deciding that the all of the special forces members from the other nation should be exterminated.
Under his orders, his subordinates recited incantations for an advanced fire-attribute spell and a wind-attribute spell that produced a membrane of breathable air to protect their allies.
With this signal, a hole opened in a part of the stone wall, and the fire-attribute spell was fired through that hole. At the same time, the defensive membrane of air enveloped all of the soldiers.
There was a thunderous roar. It was likely that all of the oxygen on the other side of the wall had been combusted by now, leaving the enemy unable to breathe and suffering in the burning air.
“Life signals?” the commanding officer asked.
“None. Enemy casualties confirmed,” said one of his subordinates, confirming the enemies’ annihilation with a sensor that contained a life-attribute Magic Item.
Just as the men were checking that everyone was accounted for and began moving to quickly administer first-aid treatment… the stone wall crumbled to pieces.
“Impossible! The enemy should have been dead!”
As a rain of bullets descended upon him and his men once more, the commanding officer figured out who the enemy was.
The enemy were armed Undead soldiers with loose, burnt faces, letting out harsh groans. Lifeless, dead soldiers that didn’t need oxygen.
“HAHAHAHAHA! Overwhelming, aren’t they, my brave warriors!” Valkyrie, the tall, beautiful woman with waist-long silver-blonde hair, laughed loudly as she watched the special forces soldiers fall one by one to the Undead under her command.
“You’re right about that,” said the ‘Death Scythe,’ Konoe Kyuuji, as he looked on. “Aren’t Zombies normally small fries?”
“How rude, calling them small fries! My brave warriors are true heroes who fight on without fearing even death!” Valkyrie protested.
“Well, they’re already dead, so there’s no need for them to be scared of it now.”
Undead existed in Origin, but they were just treated as a kind of monster, corpses that moved on their own because of Mana that had remained in the body for whatever reason. In many cases, they simply rampaged like beasts; they did not possess the intelligence or skills that they had in life. The only exception was the ‘Undead’ who had used magic.
That was why the special forces soldiers would never be defeated no matter how many Zombies tried to swarm them. The most they would be able to do was buy some time.
However, the brave Zombie warriors that Valkyrie commanded could handle firearms as they had done while alive, and they could even cast simple spells.
“Of course, it’s thanks to our comrades who gathered all of the corpses for me, and Isis’s power. I’m only giving them commands, nothing else,” Valkyrie said.
The brave Zombie warriors could exhibit the same abilities that they had possessed while alive due to the power of Isis, the black woman with dreadlocks.
Just like the goddess who once joined together the separated remains of her husband to resurrect him, Isis was able to turn corpses into Undead that possessed the same abilities they had while alive. She needed between an hour to half a day to create a single one, so she couldn’t add the currently-dying special forces soldiers to her Undead, however.
And Valkyrie’s power was manipulating Undead, who were normally impossible to control. That was all.
“Therefore, my brave warriors and I will not accept criticism! We shall make full use of the equipment that we have been capturing from research facilities and criminal organizations up until now!” Valkyrie declared.
“I don’t want to go along with this, but…”
“Konoe, to your right, there are some guys trying to blow up the subway system with high explosive devices. Kill them,” ordered a voice coming from Konoe’s communications device.
“Yes sir, Murakami-danna.” Obeying these orders, Konoe released ultrasonic waves with wind-attribute magic. Sensors picked up the ultrasonic waves and projected the faces of his targets. “Death Scythe.”
With just that, the targeted soldiers went into cardiac arrest, convulsing a few times before dying.
“Did you think that you could feel at ease because you’re wearing helmets?”
It was true that Death Scythe could only cause instant death… cardiac arrest, in targets that he had seen with his bare eyes. However, he had embedded sensors into his eyeballs and could see the faces of his targets with the echoes of the ultrasonic waves that went through helmets and masks, and he could kill his targets using this method.
It was a method developed after he had accepted Murakami’s offer, so the special forces, who had acquired their information from the Bravers, were unaware of this trump card.
“Are you done? If you are, we’re marching forward! The appetizer will be devoured by I, Valkyrie, and Izanami and Berserker as well, before the fake heroes arrive!” the beautiful, brave-looking Valkyrie declared to the men.
Konoe made a displeasured expression. “Why are you going out of your way to go on the frontlines? The commander is usually at the back, right?”
“It’s because my power is only effective within a one-kilometer radius from me! If the brave warriors march alone, they will stop obeying my orders once they are out of range. You can just hide behind me!”
In a place separate from Valkyrie and Konoe, Izanami’s fury was being unleashed on the elite soldiers.
“A-a monster! It’s a monster! Why doesn’t light-attribute magic work?!”
“Silver bullets, holy water, salt, anti-Undead equipment, nothing works! We never heard about this!”
The Eighth Guidance had crushed several top-secret death-attribute research facilities in the nation that had dispatched this squad of special forces, and the nation had been aware that the Eighth Guidance had been taking away the corpses of the guards at these facilities.
Thus, the nation had provided their soldiers with large quantities of anti-Undead equipment, having guessed that the Eighth Guidance might turn these corpses into Undead and use them to guard their base.
However, the one stationed there was not the Undead under Valkyrie’s command, but Izanami.
Ferocious roars filled the air.
Yomotsushikome, masses of flesh about the size of medium-sized dogs, each with four short limbs with sharp claws and a mouth filled with fangs that looked as if it had been pasted onto the body. And Yomotsuikusa, which had the appearances of apes that had their muscle fibers exposed.
Izanami’s ability created these two types of monsters, whose heads were filled with nothing but a desire to feed.
“Ugufuh! … Go, go and eat, then come back.” Izanami used a knife to cut out one of the protuberances that covered his body, right from the base. The tumor made graphic-sounding noises as it transformed into a monster.
At the same time, the wound left behind on Izanami’s body closed rapidly.
“Kufuh, now then, kill them. They are not the ones who killed the ‘Undead,’ the one who gave meaning to this unsightly monster, but they are the allies of those who killed him. Now, dig in,” Izanami murmured.
All of the cells in Izanami’s body, not just the protuberances but its internal organs as well, had transformed into something resembling cancer cells that repeatedly underwent endless cell division. Thus, it was suspected that Izanami would not die unless over 70% of its brain was destroyed.
However, in the military nation’s research facility, Izanami had been nothing more than a useless guinea pig that simply didn’t die. But thanks to the death-attribute Mana gained when the Undead rescued it, due to the size of the protuberances, it had become able to create two types of monsters from the tumors cut away from its main body.
Right before Izanami’s eyes, these two types of monsters, Yomotsushikome and Yomotsuikusa, were forcing the special forces, who were supposed to be elite soldiers, into a disadvantageous situation.
But the price that Izanami paid was that its tumors expanded rapidly. Its cells were on a rampage to try and recover from the repeated injuries its body had sustained within a short period of time.
“Kukuh, at this rate, the pressure from the tumors will crush my organs… my brain.” Now that Izanami had become unable to even walk due to the size and weight of the tumors, it had started to see the finish line, and whispered into its communications device. “I’m going to make my body light now,” it said.
“Won’t you last any longer?” asked the voice of Baba Yaga, who was waiting for her own turn to step up.
A bitter smile appeared on Izanami’s face. “I’ll probably last another few minutes, but soon, I won’t even be able to speak.”
“I see… Then leave the rest to me. Good night, Izanami,” said Baba Yaga.
“Let us meet again, comrade!” said Valkyrie’s voice.
“I’ll go soon as well, so wait for me,” said Pluto.
Izanami listened to the farewells from Pluto and the others. “Yeah, I’ll be waiting on the other side,” it replied, and then took out the switch that it had received from Isis.
Now that Izanami thought about it, Isis hadn’t said farewell, but… it was probably because of Murakami and the others, so it was fine.
“This body of mine, devour as many of them as possible.” Izanami pressed the switch, and an explosive Magic Item implanted inside its skull was activated. The explosion itself was small, but it was enough to destroy Izanami’s brain.
With the paste-like mixture of blood and what was once its brain pouring out of the hole where its face was, Izanami collapsed.
A deep growl filled the air.
Izanami’s body stood up with a creaking noise, rising as an enormous Yomotsuikusa.
With its beast-like roar filling the subway tunnels, the enormous Yomotsuikusa charged at the special forces soldiers that were still resisting, desiring more prey.
A beast was roaring in other passageways as well.
“Lee! Get a hold of yourself, Lee!”
But the beast was Sergeant Lee Jian of the special forces squad sent by an Asian nation, who had been fighting against a member of the Eighth Guidance until just a moment ago.
That member of the Eighth Guidance was a large, fat man wearing the fur of a bear, but he was a fearsome fighter who possessed both the agility of a carnivorous, feline beast and the superhuman strength of a bear.
If he was allowed to close the distance, he would take the limbs, head or organs of the enemy with a single blow.
Normally, he would not be allowed to get close, but the special forces soldiers couldn’t prevent him from closing in due to the traitor Bravers, the ‘Hecatoncheir’ Doug Atlas and the ‘Aegis’ Melissa J. Sautome, who were supporting the enemy from behind.
And so, ten of the thirty soldiers of the special forces squad had fallen and finally defeated the beast, but for some reason, Sergeant Lee, who had dealt the fatal blow, had begun killing his companions as a new beast.
“Lee, it’s me, it’s Chen! GYAH!”
Lee, who had been a specialist in close-quarters combat with his knife, was using that skill to its fullest as a beast. He cut the throat of the comrade who was sorrowfully calling his name.
“That’s no longer Sergeant Lee! Exterminate him along with the enemy!”
Though it was already too late, the soldiers saw this, changed their way of thinking and began a full-blown attack on Sergeant Lee.
Bullets and spells cast with their incantations shortened by portable magical mediums flooded in towards Sergeant Lee.
“Don’t let up on your attacks! Think of the enemy as a monster that will continue moving until you completely destroy its arms and legs!” a soldier shouted.
But this also meant that the enemy was a monster that could be stopped if its arms and legs were completely destroyed… if its entire body was turned into mincemeat. The surviving special forces soldiers had the skill and equipment to make that happen.
However, this was only true if their attacks landed.
Sergeant Lee roared, and a white, fog-like shield appeared in front of him, deflecting all of the bullets and spells. Seeing this, the soldiers’ faces turned pale.
“That damn Aegis! What are Park and Xiaolee doing?!” shouted the man who appeared to be the commanding officer.
The response to this question came from one of the two people behind Sergeant Lee, a man with an afro. “Do you mean these two that I just crushed with my bare hands?” he said, pointing at a corpse that had become compacted and thin with all of its bones crushed, as if it had been gripped by a giant, and another whose head had been pulverized.
Nobody responded to him.
“They won’t hear you if you speak with your normal voice, will they, Atlas?”
“Oi, don’t call me Atorasu!*”
“Ah, yes, yes. Doug, I just have to call you Doug, right? … Ah, how bothersome.”
“Melissa, how can you speak like that when I’m protecting – whoops!”
Behind Melissa, a half-white, half-Asian woman, the harsh sound of bullets being deflected echoed out.
“One more rat!”
The terrible sound of bones being broken and flesh being crushed came from thin air, and then a mass of mincemeat the size of a soldier, covered in an active camouflage robe, appeared there.
“Thank you for your hard work.”
“Wow, that’s such an unsexy way to say thanks.”
“I have my hands full with looking after that beast… Berserk.”
The woman’s name was Melissa J. Sautome. She was a reincarnated individual with the ability to conjure an ‘Aegis,’ a shield of ultimate defense. Her Aegis was capable of blocking any physical or magical attacks. However, she could only conjure it around herself or somewhere a short distance away from her, not both at once.
When she conjured the Aegis as she had done earlier to protect the beast… Berserk of the Eighth Guidance, she herself became defenseless.
It was the ‘Hecatoncheir,’ Doug Atlas, that covered her. This was the role of the man who had been named Shirai Atorasu by his parents on Earth, as they had wanted him to become a man who supported the world.
He possessed three abilities – a powerful ‘Telekinesis,’ ‘Omnidirectional Perception’ and ‘Force Vision,’ an ability that allowed him to switch between infrared, ultraviolet and Mana-detecting vision. He had been given the codename ‘Hecatoncheir,’ named after the giants that possessed a hundred hands and numerous heads.
Now, he was making mincemeat out of the men who were using active camouflage to try and dispose of Melissa before Berserk, one by one.
“Still, that Berserk guy is enjoying himself on his rampage, isn’t he? That failure, isn’t he getting carried away?” said Doug.
“There’s no such thing as getting carried away when you have the intelligence of a beast, is there?” said Melissa.
As the two of them watched from behind while Berserk killed the soldiers one after another, they heard contact from Murakami.
“Izanami is dead. It’s about time.”
“Okay,” Melissa replied briefly, undoing Aegis from Berserk, who had finished killing the last soldier.
“See you, bear,” said Doug, unleashing his telekinesis.
But Berserk leapt sideways, avoiding what was supposed to be a surprise attack of betrayal, an invisible telekinetic one at that.
And then it roared as it demonstrated surprising physical capabilities, gaining speed by launching itself off the walls and leaping at Doug and Melissa.
“It’s been a while since that’s been avoided. But –”
The knife attack, swung with the strength of a beast and the technique of a human, was deflected by Melissa’s broad Aegis.
Berserk roared again in anger.
“And Hecatoncheir’s codename isn’t just for show,” Melissa murmured.
Not letting the momentary opening slip past him, Doug gripped and crushed Berserk’s entire body with careful use of his telekinesis.
“Alright, we’re done… or not? What a tenacious bear,” Doug muttered.
The bear fur, which had been torn to pieces, detached itself from the mincemeat that had once been Sergeant Lee’s body. And then it began crawling towards a relatively intact corpse.
This bear fur was Berserk’s real body.
It was a byproduct of the numerous animal experiments that had been conducted in order to acquire death-attribute magic. It infested corpses and living humans, adding a beast’s power to their battle techniques.
The infested human, if still alive, had a part of their brain destroyed instantly, and they turned into a rampaging berserker as their body’s nutrients were absorbed by Berserk.
It had been named ‘Berserk’ after the berserkers of Norse mythology, and research had been conducted to determine whether it could be used as a biological weapon, but it had been branded as a failed product.
It had been produced by accident, so it was impossible to create new Berserks, and because the only Berserk in existence was a parasitic organism living only inside a fur, it was impossible to reconstruct its brain in order to control it.
They could let it go on indiscriminate rampages in urban areas, but it would be weak in the face of squads of trained soldiers. That was what had been thought.
Soldiers possessed firearms, weapons that would destroy the human bodies taken over by Berserk, and more importantly, unlike the soldiers of Earth, they had command over magic.
Even if Berserk switched infestation targets from one human to the next, it would quickly be seen that the fur was the main body, and be burned by fire or light-attribute magic, or frozen and trapped inside ice conjured by water-attribute magic.
It was better to put large budgets, effort and time into other research than try to find an effective use for Berserk. That was the decision that had been made.
The reason Berserk had been able to defeat special forces soldiers, who had received far more advanced training than average soldiers, was because it obediently followed the instructions of other Eighth Guidance members for some reason, and because of the protection of the Aegis.
“But this is the end. I’ll take a piece of that fur, though.” Doug tore apart Berserk’s glossy fur until it stopped moving.
Why were these men, who were equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and first-rate when it came to magic, unarmed fighting and using firearms, being cornered so one-sidedly? They had thoroughly planned their operation to counter the Eighth Guidance’s crimes.
There were three main reasons. First, the Eighth Guidance had kept Isis and Valkyrie’s brave Zombie warriors, Izanami’s monsters and Berserk a complete secret up until now. Thus, nobody had information about these, so there had been no way to come up with countermeasures for them.
Next, the objective of the special forces had been to capture the members of the Eighth Guidance, dead or alive, and take them back to their nations.
Since there was no need to make the effort of capturing them alive, every special forces squad had been aiming to kill them and acquire the Eighth Guidance’s corpses, but it still meant that they were unable to use attacks that wouldn’t leave corpses behind or put the bodies in a state that it would take too long to retrieve them.
And the base that the Eighth Guidance had chosen was a ruined subway system. The special forces were hesitant to use attacks that might cause the narrow passageways to collapse. If they managed to kill the members of the Eighth Guidance but took too long to retrieve the corpses, it was highly likely that the other special forces squads would obstruct them or the Bravers would intervene.
There were some squads that had collapsed the passageways deliberately, having given up on retrieving Valkyrie, Izanami and Berserk and prioritized the capture of Pluto and the others instead, but they were obstructed by the final reason.
It was the fortunes possessed by Murakami and the other former Bravers.
Pluto and her companions didn’t know that the Bravers and the Undead had been reincarnated from another world. Murakami and his followers hadn’t given them that much information.
However, the Eighth Guidance had noticed while targeting the Bravers that they had unusually good luck.
Bullets missed their vital areas and they gained information on terrorist organizations through coincidence. They survived in incredibly lucky ways, like protagonists of comics and dramas, and were helped by all kinds of coincidences as they achieved their objectives.
Was it really just good luck?
“At first, I thought what Pluto said was impossible, but it seems I was wrong,” said Isis, the beautiful black woman with dreadlocks, speaking to the ‘Marionette’ Inui Hajime, who was standing right in front of her.
“Really? Isn’t it just a coincidence?” Hajime asked, speaking in a sticky tone.
“No,” said Isis. “The moment we joined forces with you people, everything started to go well. We managed to dispose of the Calculation and Inspection that were getting in the way of our plans, and even the Oracle. We managed to dispose of Noah, delaying the arrival of the other Bravers. Even now, the special forces of every nation are being overwhelmed by Izanami, Valkyrie and Berserk, none of whom have experience in real battles. It’s all because of you people.”
The Eighth Guidance had welcomed Murakami and the others into their ranks not only to make the Bravers begin killing each other, but also to make use of their fortunes and destinies.
The reincarnated individuals were protected by the fortunes and destinies given to them by Rodcorte. That was why they could ‘luckily’ survive and act as they had been acting.
However, when the reincarnated individuals fought each other, those fortunes and destinies did not function well. Pluto hadn’t known this, but noticing that Kaitou Kanata had been caught in Shihouin Mari’s trap, somehow managed to narrowly escape and then died three days later, she had deduced that this might be the case.
And she had been right.
“That’s why we’re thankful to you people. I got to give Berserk some good exercise in the end, too. And Jack in particular. Thanks to you, he had a reason to go together with Hitomi.” Isis cut her words off there.
Hajime gave a broad smirk. “… Aren’t you going to ask why? Why we betrayed you?” he asked Isis, who couldn’t move a single finger due to Marionette’s ability. But although he asked this question, he continued speaking, as if not interested in an answer. “Well, it seems that you’d predicted that we would betray you, right from the beginning. Indeed, from the moment we joined Murakami-sensei and left that group of good kids, the Bravers, we planned to betray you. To be more precise, we’d become reemployed at the intelligence agency of a federal state. Joining you was part of our work for that agency.”
Hajime spoke proudly, smiling. He was like the foolish villain in a comic book, but he had only one opponent, Isis. All of the Undead were with Valkyrie, Berserk had been released somewhere else, and Isis was a woman who couldn’t use guns or magic of any attribute.
And because Marionette already had control of her body from the neck down, she couldn’t move a single finger.
Hajime’s Marionette ability allowed him to take over and control the nerves of anyone he touched. However, direct skin-to-skin contact wasn’t necessary.
By ‘connecting’ himself to his target with a weak electrical current produced by wind-attribute magic for just a moment, the requirements were met.
I’ve been working on this dirty infiltration mission for over a year, so it’s alright for me to enjoy some benefits on the side, isn’t it?
Tormenting someone who couldn’t resist was an irresistible pleasure. Even more so when that person was a good woman.
But even after having control over her body taken from her and hearing Hajime’s confession, the calm smile didn’t disappear from Isis’s face.
“Composed, aren’t you? … I’ll let you in on something good,” Hajime continued. “Murakami-sensei and the others are going to retrieve your corpses. They’re not going to capture you alive; other than you, it’s difficult to capture you guys alive. What about the ones that have already died? Izanami has probably turned his corpse into a monster, and Shade had no body to begin with. Jack might have helped you guys escape, so it was better to have him die first.”
Everything was in the palm of their hands. Hajime seemed elated as he spoke, but there was no change to Isis’s smile.
Feeling irritated by that, Hajime began ridiculing her companions in an even louder voice.
“What about Gazer? It’s fine, she was never one of our allies anyway. We just kidnapped her under Murakami-sensei’s orders so that she could be used on this mission; she was just a disposable tool. But I didn’t think that she’d get along so well with you guys. She got so close to that creepy pumpkin-head, she did quite well for herself, didn’t she, that slut!” Hajime spat.
Finally, Isis frowned. “Could you keep your voice down a little? Your voice is glossy and unpleasant to listen to.”
“I don’t care about that, you shitty woman! Stop pretending to be calm!” Hajime was enraged by the fact that he was getting a completely different reaction from the one he desired. “Do you understand the position you’re in?! If I wanted to, I could make you strip and behave like a dog! By being captured alive by me, you’ve become a guinea pig again! If you don’t like that, how about you try crying and sucking up to me?!” he shouted.
Isis’s frowned turned back into a smile as she spoke in a tone that sounded as if she was pitying Hajime. “You can’t do anything without threatening a woman whose body you’ve taken control over. Maybe you haven’t even held a girl’s hand before?”
Hajime could almost hear the blood draining from his face. “Enough, shut up.”
Having snapped, he extended Marionette’s effects to Isis’s brain. With that, she was no different from a wooden puppet, and he couldn’t enjoy her reactions, but she was no longer something for him to enjoy.
“Hmph, with the money I get from selling you to the federal state, I’ll find a better woman… how can you still be smiling?!”
When Hajime controlled someone’s brain, he controlled their expression and even their eyeballs. However, Isis continued smiling, against Hajime’s will.
Impossible, Hajime thought in surprise.
Isis’s smile grew wider. “Your Marionette is an ability that takes over a person’s nerves, isn’t it? Then it’s simple. Medically speaking, I’ve undergone brain death. The researchers kept me alive in that state, and then the Undead made me so that I am able to control my body directly with my soul.”
It was a miracle performed by the Undead, Vandalieu, for a reason as simple as, “It’s troublesome if you don’t move on your own.”
“Brain death?! Impossible, no human can be alive when their brain isn’t functioning…!”
“Before you act surprised, you should think about this first. What is inside my skull instead of a brain that doesn’t function? I wonder what it is that Izanami gave me?” Isis said.
“Eh?” Hajime gave a scream and tried to turn his body aside.
Isis gazed at his back and pressed the switch implanted inside her mouth. “I’m truly grateful to you. That’s why I’ll take you along with me. You’re so fortunate that you are able to die with a good woman like me,” she said.
A thunderous explosion sent Inui Hajime flying, and he fell onto the railway tracks of the subway system, along with a broken fragment of the operating room’s door. He bounced multiple times as he rolled across the tracks.
Hajime gasped in pain. He was barely alive. Perhaps because the bomb implanted inside Isis’s skull was weak, or perhaps because he had managed to put a little distance between them, he had just managed to use the door as a shield.
And thanks to the portable staff… the miniature, internalized magical medium that he was equipped with, he had been able to shorten the incantation for a basic defensive spell, managing to cast it in time.
Thanks to all of these, Hajime had managed to ‘luckily’ survive.
However, at this rate, he would die in less than ten minutes. With the pain he felt all over his body and the blood drenching his clothes, he couldn’t help but be aware of that. “Help…?!”
As Hajime tried to crawl in search of help, he saw a woman holding a gun. For a moment, he held his breath, and then he exhaled in relief when he saw that it was an ally.
“Kana… ko… help…”
Tsuchiya Kanako. Unlike Hajime, who could only use wind-attribute magic, she could cast healing spells of the water attribute. If she applied first-aid treatment with that, he’d be saved.
As Hajime looked at Kanako with his eyes shining in hope, she holstered the gun she was holding and held a hand towards him.
“I’ll put you to rest now,” she said. “Strong Acid Bullets.”
She cast a spell that released projectiles of powerful acid that could melt through anything.
“What?! GYAAAAAAH! W-why…”
Hajime screamed, but that scream was cut short and he melted away along with the rubble and railway tracks around him.
Kanako watched this happen, erased the irritating odor with a spell and then used her communications device.
“Murakami-sensei, I’ve disposed of Marionette as we planned. It looks like he failed to capture Isis after all. He was just a creepy guy who was useless right until the very end.”
Tsuchiya Kanako had disposed of the ‘Marionette’ Inui Hajime. Having received this news from Murakami, Konoe Kyuuji, the Death Scythe, smiled.
He might have considered himself to be one of us ‘eight’ companions, but we planned to dispose of him right from the beginning.
What Inui Hajime had told Isis was largely true. The difference was that Murakami and the others had been ordered by the federal nation to dispose of Marionette during the mission.
When Murakami had first revealed this, Kyuuji had felt quite shaken, but he was convinced by Murakami’s persuasion.
Hajime had gone too far.
His ability is too dangerous. Despite that, he showed that power off too much. He got what he deserved for making the important people of the federal nation so scared!
Marionette, the ability to manipulate those the user was in contact with, which had evolved so that momentary contact via a weak electrical current was enough to control the target’s body. The important people among Hajime’s employers had decided that this ability was too dangerous.
And he had been a dangerous person in terms of personality. He often got carried away, couldn’t resist his desires and he was hot-tempered as well. He wasn’t trustworthy at all.
And now that they had disposed of Marionette, the rest of them could expect to be treated better for having shown loyalty to their employers.
Now all I have to do is kill the huge woman who’s gotten carried away in front of me, and collect her corpse.
Kyuuji looked at the chest of Valkyrie, who had almost completely exterminated the special forces that were the enemy, with a sharp glint in his eye as he activated his ability.
“With this, the enemy are almost exterminated! Though less than a third of my brave warriors remain… What is it, Death Scythe? Do you want a hug to celebrate our victory or…”
Valkyrie’s speech was cut short unnaturally. Clutching her abundant chest as if she was trying to tear the flesh off, she bent over.
This is my victory!
Kyuuji’s Death Scythe, technically speaking, was not a power that caused instant death in living creatures. It was a power that stopped the target’s ‘movement.’
However, he needed to concentrate for a long time to stop large movements, and this consumed a large amount of Mana as well. That was why the ‘movements’ that Kyuuji stopped were limited to heartbeats.
Thus, he could kill his target in an instant as long as his condition of knowing the target’s face was fulfilled.
Since I told them that it’s a power that causes instant death, I just needed to use magic for rescue work in disasters and accidents, and act as a trump card for finishing off terrorists. And I got to act big in front of my allies. Now, I’ll get to act big in front of the federal state!
Now, Kyuuji just needed to ignore the Zombies who had lost their commander, pick up Valkyrie’s corpse and bring her back to where Murakami and the others were.
“It was a pity to kill a woman like you, but it’s all for the big payout. Don’t think badly of me,” he murmured.
Valkyrie was on her knees, facing down, and she had stopped moving in this position. Kyuuji leaned over in front of her to pick her up from the shoulders.
At that moment, Valkyrie, who was supposed to be dead, moved her arm.
Kyuuji gave a shout as he was flipped onto his back. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing; Valkyrie was getting up, holding a stun gun in her hand.
“You’re curious as to why I’m alive, aren’t you, Death Scythe? But unfortunately, I don’t understand why your Death Scythe doesn’t work on me either, so I can’t explain it to you. I don’t know what principle your ability uses to cause instant death in its targets, you see!” Valkyrie said spiritedly, putting the stun gun into an inside pocket of her coat. “But Hitomi’s Gazer apparently saw me ‘lying on the ground, being looked down at by you,’ so I thought that it probably wouldn’t work. I can give a guess as to the reason, too. Isn’t it because my heart is already completely non-functional?”
Kyuuji inhaled sharply upon learning that Valkyrie’s heart didn’t beat, even without him using Death Scythe to stop it.
Valkyrie saw his reaction and nodded in satisfaction. “My heart was surgically removed while I was an experimental subject. A Mana-powered pump implanted into a different part of my body circulates my blood instead. They said something about wanting to prove that the Mana itself hadn’t been erased, even if the properties of its attributes were removed. Well, I don’t care about those details, though.” She stopped her explanation short and took out a small-caliber firearm from another pocket.
Kyuuji let out a muffled scream.
“It’s true that we intend to die in the end. And we don’t care about what happens after we die. But we don’t want to have even our corpses used as guinea pigs. Judging from your look, it doesn’t seem like you can use magic, does it? As you know, I can’t use magic, either. Sorry, but I’ll shoot you with this unreliable small-caliber gun, which might even be able to pierce your skull, until you’re dead!” Valkyrie squeezed the trigger numerous times, just as she said she would.
Damn it! How could her heart have been stopped from the beginning; this isn’t how it was supposed to be!
Kyuuji desperately unleashed his Death Scythe, trying to stop the pump that was maintaining Valkyrie’s life. But since he didn’t know where it was, he was completely relying on luck.
Fortunately, it seemed that Valkyrie wasn’t skilled at shooting. She was aiming for Kyuuji’s head, grazing his scalp, ears and shoulders, but she hadn’t landed a direct hit yet.
But at this rate, eventually –
At that moment, something rolled out from between Valkyrie’s legs.
In the next, there was a small explosion, and Kyuuji was blinded by a violent light that burned his retinas.
There was a scream. And then, after a few gunshots, there was the sound of something collapsing.
“Don’t let your guard down. Your over-reliance on your ability caused more work for me,” said Murakami’s voice.
Kyuuji let out a triumphant cheer in his mind. I’m saved. As expected of Sensei.
But then, he suddenly had a bad feeling.
Why did he use a flashbang? Firing a gun would have been enough to kill Valkyrie while she was separated from her Zombies, and even if there were Zombies nearby, flashbangs are useless against them… Could it be?!
Kyuuji was startled as he realized this, but his body was still paralyzed by the stun gun, and he was unable to do anything.
“It doesn’t look like it’s that much effort, though,” Murakami sighed as he fired the assault rifle that he had picked up at Kyuuji. A poor former student, he thought. “Disposing of you was part of the plan from the beginning, too. By blinding you with the flashbang I just used, in order to remove the threat of Death Scythe while you were carrying Valkyrie’s corpse. It’s the same reason as Marionette. There’s no way we can let someone with such a dangerous ability as causing instant death by looking at someone’s face live, right?”
Throwing aside the empty assault rifle, Murakami Junpei looked not at Konoe Kyuuji, who was now riddled with bullet holes, but at the corpse of Valkyrie, who had blood flowing from her head.
“This is Murakami,” he said into his communications device. “The rest of the work is up to us seven. Tsuchiya, secure Isis’s fragments. If it’s impossible, head around towards the others. I’m going to move Valkyrie’s corpse. The other five of you, avoid Baba Yaga and Izanami, who has become a monster, and aim for the others. Don’t touch Ereshkigal; Pluto is the top priority.”
Outside of a few unexpected events, Murakami’s plan was generally going as planned. It seemed that the Eighth Guidance had noticed the betrayal of Murakami and his companions, but in the end, they were just a group of individuals each capable of using only a single death-attribute spell each. It seemed that they weren’t worthy of being on guard against.
Amemiya Hiroto was too foolish, having his companions killed by these people.
As Murakami thought this, he heard his companions’ voices through his communications device.
“Murakami-sensei, Sylphid’s been done in by Baba Yaga! I’m running; send someone to back me up!”
“S-sensei, this is Gotouta! There’s a member of the Eighth Guidance that we didn’t know about! For even my Super Sense to not be able to perceive them, it’s like they’re a Ghos… HYIH! H-HEEELP –”
“Huh?! Why are you suddenly dying?!” Murakami demanded.
Despite Sylphid having been ordered, “Don’t go near Baba Yaga at any costs; it’s too dangerous for you in particular,” he had been killed by Baba Yaga, and the ‘Super Sense’ Gotouta was now unresponsive after the scream on the communications device was cut off unnaturally.
The seven companions had become five the moment their real work was about to begin.
What did this mean? Had their luck suddenly turned on them?
“Sensei, I heard on the enemy’s communications devices… It seems that the Bravers have reached the ground now. Ah, it seems impossible to retrieve the fragments of Isis’s corpse,” Kanako reported.
Hearing this, Murakami understood what was happening.
The arrival of Amemiya Hiroto, who wanted to save the Eighth Guidance, as well as Minami Asagi and the others who wanted to capture Murakami and his companions, had changed the flow of events.
Murakami clicked his tongue. “These ‘fortunes’ and ‘destinies’ are really troublesome. Those of you who are safe except for Tsuchiya, regroup with the Aegis! The Bravers have the ‘Clairvoyance’ Tendou! If you’re outside of Aegis’s area of effect, they’ll know where you are! Tsuchiya, move as we planned!”
Murakami felt his words stabbing back into him like a boomerang as he spoke them, and his face twisted in hatred. Deciding that he didn’t have time to recover Valkyrie’s corpse, he collected a little of her blood that was flowing out, and then he hastily started running.
“Lead the brave warriors and kill everyone except for my comrades… me,” Valkyrie whispered hoarsely. Murakami was unaware that she had begun moving, though her breathing had really stopped this time.
Special forces: Almost annihilated.
Eighth Guidance: Izanami, Berserk, Isis, Valkyrie, deceased.
Murakami’s group: The ‘Marionette’ Inui Hajime, the ‘Death Scythe’ Konoe Kyuuji, ‘Sylphid,’ deceased. The ‘Super Sense’ Gotouta, status unknown. Five surviving members.
Bravers: Have landed on the ground surface.