Dead silence filled the room.
Even though sunlight was pouring down brilliantly, there wasn’t any brightness at all in the mood here. Rather all the people here couldn’t stop from being enveloped with thick despair like a heavy mist.
The first one to open his mouth was Hajime.
「When will the army arrive?」
He sat cross-legged, folded his arms, and scowled while asking. His voice was steady without any shaking. His sitting posture was also displaying a solidness that was immovable.
Seeing that, the other people who were shaken with turmoil also managed to recover their composure a little.
Even G10 who was the one seized with the greatest despair slowly blinked while landing on the iron bridge. It rolled until arriving in front of Hajime. Its figure with its single eye turned up was showing resignation.
「They will arrive in around six more hours.」
「Are they coming here from the holy land Shaia?」
「No. The holy land is located around 12000 kilometers to the west from here.」
「……So what does that mean? The factory of the heaven soldiers is located near Coltran?」
「That’s the case.」
It seemed the holy land that was Mother’s stronghold was far away from here. The distance was the same like crossing the west Pacific Ocean from Japan and then going even further to cross America continent until the east coast.
In addition, it seemed that 400 kilometers to the west of Coltran, there was a mountain district where a factory that manufactured the heaven soldier was located. That factory was also the base where the heaven soldiers were standing by.
Apparently the invadersheaven soldiers that attacked Coltran periodically to sell the lie that Mother invented were sent from there.
The factory was placed in a distance that was totally impossible to reach by mankind without any mechanical travel method. The location originally was also a natural fortress that protected Coltrain, so it was easy to use.
「Six……hours……haha, is that our remaining “life span”?」
Jasper hanged his head down powerlessly, however only his two hands that were dangling down limply were clenching their fists so tightly they were bleeding.
「There is no way I’ll let that happen-. That’s right, evacuation! Let’s just evacuate everyone to another world……G10! How goes the electricity!?」
Kouki yelled with an impatient expression.
If the troops that were dispatched here weren’t ordinary machine soldiers but a troops of heaven soldiers that were considered as invader by mankind, then the words “taking back” that Mother mentioned sounded really sinister. If it just wanted to take back this place, it should dispatch ordinary machine soldiers to here. It was unthinkable that it was trying to “take back” the people here by sending the invaders.
Then……this was that AI who only saw human life as a part of its paradise that it could control and mass produce. It might be capable to do a massacre casually. And then just like what it did in the past, it would capture only a few of the humans and modified their memory again to remake a convenient paradise for itself.
There was also the possibility that it was storing some spare humans who were put into cold sleep in another place. In that case, it was also possible that none of the humans in this Coltran would be left alive.
However, if only they had electricity, they should be able to temporarily evacuate to another world using Hajime’s gate. That was the faint hope that Kouki harbored……
「……As I reported just now, the power generation facility’s system and its spare has been destroyed. Based from the program that I had taken a look at, even the internal condenser of the machine soldiers were given self-destruct order. ……Currently the only storage of electricity that is still working in this Coltran is only the condenser inside myself and Hajime-sama’s “Elemagia”……」
「What about repair!? You could even create a summoning device from some scraps with your own effort. You should be able to at least repair them!」
「Correct, Kouki-sama. It most likely is possible to do repair.」
「However, even if I used the facility here, I estimate that it will take ten days at the very least.」
Expression vanished from Kouki’s face. He was wracking his brain so hard that he couldn’t even make any expression. Something, was there something else, wasn’t there a way to save the people, there should be one! Such thought kept repeating inside his head.
「G10. Is the underground train still functioning even now? It’s connected to the seven cities right?」
Hajime who was pondering with a glum expression asked while narrowing his eyes.
「No, Hajime-sama. It seems that several points in the route between Shaia and Coltran are severed.」
「How can you assert that? Isn’t Mother maintaining the line that is connecting the holy land and Coltran?」
「Just before Coltran’s system was disintegrated, I downloaded several data files. I had only little time, so I only managed to download very few parts though.」
The system disintegration couldn’t be prevented. The instant G10 judged that, it took advantage of the system’s disintegration instead to slip through the defense and snatched away the files that were secretly stored at the deepest part. Of course it had no time so it could only secure a little part of the files and it also couldn’t confirm the content before downloading them.
It seemed there was a record among those files. It showed that the undersea line was damaged in the previous great war, destroying the underground route that connected the holy land and Coltran. Because it would take too much effort, it hadn’t been repaired even now.
「But, if it’s the sky route instead of the underground route then it exists.」
「Sky? Is there an aircraft here?」
「Affirmative. It seems there is a shuttle for emergency escape. Although it’s intended for escape, it’s also for transporting some machine soldiers and supplies. It’s an improved large type cargo transport aircraft. The aircraft has the capability to cruise at high altitude.」
「Can it move? What about its cruising range and speed?」
G10’s tone slightly dropped at Hajime’s question. It was as though it wanted to say that there was no meaning in answering that.
「……It can also fly with liquid fuel. It’s possible to repair its internal machinery if I have one hour. From its catalogue specs, its cruising range is about 40000 kilometers. Its cruising speed is 5500 km/hour, but considering that I’ll need to repair its electrical system in hurry, please expect that it will only have half of its original spec.」
As expected from an aircraft of an SF world. Even though it only had half of its original spec, it could fly as fast as earth’s fighter aircraft with several times the cruising range.
Surely Mother also wanted to completely destroy it originally, but it didn’t have the leeway for that. As expected it was because Hajime and Kouki’s strength surpassed its calculation.
Color returned to Kouki’s expression. But……
「But, it’ll be impossible to defeat Mother even if we arrive at the holy land.」
Kouki almost objected right away, but G10 activated a hologram projection with terrifying indifference.
The sight that was projected in the air forced Kouki to swallow back his words.
It was Jasper who was unconsciously speaking with trembling voice. Beside him, Mindy’s waist lost strength and she sat down on the floor. The children were only looking up stupefied at that sight.
It couldn’t be helped.
Even Kouki and the others were speechless. For them who only knew the world at very limited scope until now, the sight before them was like it came straight from another world or perhaps even the myth.
「……I see. That’s certainly Mother’s holy land.」
There was a giant iron colored structure. At the center, countless battleships were floating. Many layers of bulwarks were surrounding it. Iron towers were jutting out from the surface like it was a needle mountain. Numerous brutal large weapons were installed on those iron towers. Then there was an army of machine soldiers in the amount that would instantly make anyone give up counting them. Even though it was a holy land, there wasn’t a single nature that could be seen from it. It was a sight of machine city that should be called as a boorish and inhuman fortress.
An overwhelming battle force.
Even the battle in Coltran could be called as nothing more than a preliminary skirmish. The force arrayed before them was something intended for war.
It didn’t matter how much strength Hajime and others possessed, even if they could resist for a short time, anyone could see that they would be crushed with the violence of number in the end.
Listy’s small hand clutched tightly at Hajime’s sleeve in fear.
G10 spoke with a quiet voice.
At the very least Hajime and the others had to escape, it said.
Kouki tried to say something, however, he didn’t know what he should say here. His mouth opened and closed like fish that was seeking oxygen. He strongly grasped his chest as though his heart inside was wrapped in pain.
Amidst that, there was a voice that tore apart the air.
「Ain’t no way we’re running away.」
Everyone turned toward Hajime who was folding his arms with closed eyes.
「Did you forget? I got a reason why I can’t let that thing live.」
「……That’s right. We have to do something about the summoning device.」
He should be aware of that. Kouki scratched his head awkwardly. He realized that he was losing his composure.
「However, against such force――」
「How long do you think it will take that thing to recreate the summoning device at the holy land?」
Hajime opened his eyes and interrupted G10’s words with his question. It seemed he had finished thinking and decided their course from here. A strong light dwelled within his eyes. Not a shred of despair could be found there. G10’s eye blinked from the pressure he emitted.
「……There is no way Mother forgot to transfer the blueprint. Most likely it will take one day if it wanted to create the device. No, nine out of ten, it’s possible to recreate it if there is half a day.」
「What if you’re the one making it using the facility here?」
「Even if I gather the necessary parts in a hurry, the manufacturing facility itself is dead right now. I’ll have to make it by hand, so it will take two days at the very least.」
Hajime replied shortly 「I see」 at G10’s explanation. A beat later he raised his gaze up. His expression was like he had bitten a sour grape.
Hajime suddenly held the Elemagia while his other hand took out the compass from his pocket. He took a deep breath.
Crimson sparks surged. The vast magic power overflowing from Elemagia passed through Hajime and flowed into the compass.
The light of the magic power was so vivid it even pushed away the sunlight. While Jasper and others were watching in amazement,
Kouki groaned. There was no way he wouldn’t realize what Hajime was doing after seeing how the compass’s needle was rotating so fast like it was broken.
Yes, Hajime was pinpointing the location of another world. That was a way to evacuate from this world.
That meant, they would abandon Coltran……
Kouki looked like he wanted to say something, but he shut his mouth hardly and endured so to not disturb Hajime’s concentration.
The short time that felt both like several seconds and several hours finally ended. The crimson light vanished as though it was melting into empty air. After a while, Hajime’s rough breathing echoed. Listy’s small hand wiped the sweat that was flowing on his forehead.
Hajime patted Listy’s head a little before he let out a long sight.
「With the remaining magic power, it seems that there is only Tortus within range.」
No matter how much magic power Hajime had, it wouldn’t be enough to pinpoint the location of the known other worlds one by one. And so he activated the compass to search for “other world within distance that could be reached by Elemagiathe remaining magic power”. The result displayed was only Tortus and some unknown worlds.
He also got curious by the unknown worlds but right now wasn’t the time to feel adventurous. He couldn’t possibly teleport to such place without knowing what could possibly exist at the other side.
「I thought that the desert world will be closer but……」
「No, I was summoned from Tortus you know?」
Kousuke replied to Kouki’s mutter. Everyone was taken aback. It looked like they only noticed Kousuke’s existence for the first time right now. Especially the shock of Jasper family was astounding. They backed away with perfectly coordinated movement while making a face that said 「Who the hell are you!?」.
「……It’s alright. I’m used to it. But let me just say this. I’m the guy who saved all of you just now you know? I’m already here from the start okay? Also, Nagumo and Amanogawa, it’s plainly irritating that you guys are also startled.」
Well, setting that aside……Hajime ignored Kousuke’s blank stare.
「I often mentioned distance when talking about the necessary magic power requirement for teleporting, but to be more accurate, the required amount is actually in proportion to the strength of the “world’s gap”. The physical distance doesn’t really matter.」
「In other words, the gap between Tortus and this world is thinner than with the desert world?」
「Well, something like that. Though it’s really hard to express the position between worlds using words.」
「And then you guys ignored me like nothing has happened huh……」
He was ignored. Listy-chan trotted toward Kousuke and kindly patted him. Kousuke’s expression broke into a smile at the little girl’s kindness……right after that, when Listy-chan put her index finger in front of her mouth and said 「Shh~~」, his eyes died.
To be admonished 「They’re having important talk right now so be quiet please, bad kid!」 by a little girl, Kousuke crumpled down on the ground and sat down while hugging his knees saying 「Yes……I’m sorry」. He grumbled inside his heart 「Small kids are always treating me like this……isn’t there a little kid somewhere who will be kind to me……」.
Hajime ignored Kousuke even now and let out a sigh.
「It’ll be the best if I can return to earth in one go though……well, it can’t be helped.」
He could secure electricity if he went to earth. With that, he could also secure his parents that were left behind at earth and put them under his protection. From there he could teleport to both Tortus and the desert world within a short time.
That would be the smoothest way to secure enough magic power and enough war preparation.
But if he was going to Tortus, first he would need a bit of time to secure enough magic power to teleport to earth. If he sought for other people’s cooperation to give him their magic power, it would be possible to shorten the required time somewhat, but the time limit would be severe until Mother finished its reconstruction of the summoning device and for him to secure all the protection targets on earth.
(Mother has learned the effectiveness of taking hostage against us. After all we went to destroy the summoning device as the first thing we did. But……)
In this world there was no external enemy that opposed Mother. And yet it put its true body at another place while calling this place as its paradise. The truth of its confidence laid there. Then would it really do another summoning to where its true body was without any hesitation?
The possibility was low. Mother had witnessed the strength of Hajime and others that surpassed its expectation. Bluntly speaking, summoning would be a very dangerous bet for Mother. It would be like rolling for gacha where it didn’t know what would come out.
Even so, although the possibility was low, it wasn’t zero.
Therefore he had to hurry. To go where those he should protect were at, as soon as possible. And then he had to prepare a fighting strength that could completely seal Mother’s every move.
「Nagumo……as I thought, you want to go with your plan at first huh?」
「Is there any other way than that?」
Kouki looked down. He kept grasping at his chest.
The first plan――for Hajime to go to another world with only Jasper’s family. And then Kouki would buy time with guerilla war until Hajime returned with enough preparation.
However, the premise for that plan had crumbled right now. A big army of heaven soldiers was baring its fang to Coltran itself.
Mother’s attention was turned toward him. At first Kouki planned to save only humans who were about to be disposed because their “life span” was about to run out, but now the situation had changed greatly. Even if he remained behind, he would be crushed by number. Certainly there was no other way left now.
「It’s already impossible to take action with no risk to save other people. I even have to “pray” for the safety of my own family now, it make me want to beat up myself.」
Hajime’s bitter expression was because of that. There was nothing he could do except “praying” even for the safety of his own family, so he couldn’t possibly be considerate to the fate of a great number of unknown people from other world who he didn’t even know. The time where he could do that had already passed.
Haijme’s gaze turned toward Kouki whose head was hanged down. Kouki was gritting his teeth so hard the grinding sound could be heard.
「Amanogawa. The situation has changed. Do you understand?」
Hajime implicitly said “You go back too with us for now”, however Kouki’s eyes met Hajime’s gaze straightforwardly and he shook his head.
「No, I’ll stay behind.」
Hajime and Kouki’s gazes met.
「You can’t protect everything anymore you know?」
「But, I can at least protect a few.」
「I’ll evacuate as many people as I can to the heaven. I’ll gather those who can fight. Even if it’s impossible to obtain laser weapons, it’ll be possible to steal firearms from the machine soldiers to arm the people here right?」
「The possibility of it going well is low.」
「I have a scenario. Well, I’ll manage somehow because I have a real live example nearby, a crafty agitator acquaintance. I’ll use that as reference.」
「That’s not the words of hero. ……I’ll leave after my body recover for a bit more. Try to write a speech draft before that. I’ll edit it without mercy.」
「As expected from the number one guy in making use of god’s name. Your words are in different level.」
「Should I make you a god instead?」
「Are you telling me to die?」
G10 and Jasper family’s gazes were darting around at that conversation, while Kousuke was watching with a warm gaze.
「What are you looking at huh, Endou? I’ll shoot you.」
「Don’t look at me with that strange gaze, Endou. I’ll cut you.」
「Can you two stop threatening to kill me every single time!? Also enough with this exchange, it’s annoying! I’m not gonna let you two make this exchange into something standard!」
Kousuke stamped on the ground and made a sullen face. But, he immediately shrugged and spoke to Kouki.
「And, it’s fine for me to stay behind too right?」
「……Is that alright? This place will literally become a killing field.」
「Too late to say that. Or are you saying that you don’t need my strength, hero?」
Kousuke asked that with folded arms. Kouki couldn’t stop himself from chuckling.
「No, I want you to lend me your strength no matter what. Lord Abyss.」
「Yep, I called you “hero” to sound cool but, can you stop with that Lord Abyss?」
「I get it, Abyssgate.」
「No, that’s why――」
「G10. That’s how it is. We’re going with this plan.
「Right, here it is. The sudden treatment like I’m just empty air. I know, I know. No one is listening to my words anymore isn’t it? It’s not like I’m sad or anything……ah, wait a second you. Listy-chan is it? Don’t pat me. Don’t console me with that pitying gaze. It’s just making me plainly sad……」
Setting aside the person with thin shadow who was starting to hug his knees again, Hajime turned his eyes that were shining strongly toward G10.
「And, what are you going to do? Are you going to end here? I’m fine with burying you under the mountain of scraps if your heart is broken already you know?」
「……Those words are really harsh.」
「I don’t think it’s even worth one bullet in front of your obstinacy that has lasted for 200 years though.」
「Fufu, indeed. Yes, it’s exactly as you said.」
G10 floated even while sparks were scattered from its body. It then headed toward a console.
「I’ll try investigating if there is a function of Coltran that can still be used. I don’t know how far I can go using my own electricity though……also, I’ll scrutinize the data I stole too. I’ll do everything within my power to be of help for the attack and defense.」
Its floating was unstable, but G10’s back figure had no resignation anymore. Hajime and co looked at each other with a small smile seeing that.
Hajime laid down once more. In order to heal his body as soon as possible so he could head to Tortus as quickly as possible.
It would be no problem to depart even in his current state. But he would have to handle magic power in the amount that it would be presumptuous even if it was call colossal. He intended to be in as good state as possible just in case anything untoward happened.
Listy laid down spread-eagled beside him for some reason. Seeing that, several children also started to lie down around Hajime.
It was a time of rest that would only last briefly.
Hajime told Jasper who was still standing to take a rest while telling him the important points to remember when teleporting.
「Jasper, we’re going to cross to other world right after taking a little rest. There isn’t really anything necessary to prepare, but don’t take your eyes off from the kids.」
「That’s, of course I’ll do so…….」
For some reason Jasper’s words sounded evasive. He was frowning with a conflicted expression. Mindy and the children were looking strangely at Jasper, but he didn’t even notice that.
「With my remaining magic power――the energy can only open the path to other world for five seconds. The older kids should carry the others as many as they can. If they don’t hurry when the gate is opened, they’ll be left behind.」
「……Mindy, I’ll count on you too.」
The answer from Jasper who sat down on the spot still sounded somewhat sluggish. Hajime’s eyes squinted and he looked questioningly at the very uneasy Mindy.
Mindy also thought that Jasper’s behavior was strange and she kept sending glances at him, but she was like the big sister or even the mother of the children. She swiftly made the children sat down and caught the children who were driven by curiosity and wanted to explore.
Kouki who was also lying down like Hajime opened his mouth to call at the strangely behaving Jasper with concern.
「Jasper? Is there something bothering you――」
He tried to ask what was bothering Jasper, but right after that, *gichi gichi, gasha gasha* the sound of metals scraping each other resounded.
「Don’t tell me-」
「Is it another remotely controlled enemy!?」
Hajime, Kouki, and Kousuke reacted and took a fighting stance. They leaped to their feet and turned their gazes toward the sound……
There, Mother’s base body was making a familiar voice. It stood up like a crudely crated marionette and its two eyes were flickering.
「Impossible. There isn’t any sign of remote controlling!」
G10 yelled loudly.
Kouki tried to unsheathe his holy sword while his face frowned from pain. He intended to bisect the body before it could do anything.
Although it was a tough metal body, it was only the base body. If it was cut before it could cover itself with the metal liquid――
His hand reflexively stopped just before he could cut the body.
Because, Mother’s base body was raising its hands in banzai posture. Kouki could somehow guess that it wasn’t a surrender posture. At the same time, that hard to describe cry and the banzai style were very familiar to him.
「D-don’t tell me……」
No way……Hajime muttered. Kouki and Kousuke were also making similar expression.
Mother’s base body stumbled because of its stiff movement. It got on all four, crawled, and then stood up. Its movement while approaching them was like a certain Sadako-san in a horror movie.
The body was heading to Hajime.
Then, at the next moment,
It screamed with a repulsive voice that would make even a crying kid to stop crying and started dashing in full speed that would make even a sprinter to go pale. Listy screamed 「Kyaaa―――」 with a very girly voice. The other children were also screaming in great panic.
Then at the end the body performed a Lup○n Dive――
It ate Hajime’s arm chop and fell on the ground. But right away it immediately sat on its knees in seiza posture and raised both its hands 「Iiii!」 in banzai. For Hajime and others who had watched Mother’s atrocity, this sight was really nightmarish.
Hajime massaged his forehead to endure his headache while asking.
「Aa~, could it be, you are……Netemp?」
It seemed it was Netemp-san.
「Seriously……no really, seriously?」
「Nagumo, thinking carefully, this isn’t that strange isn’t it? Netemp-san, it easily possessed Etemp-san’s body after it self-exploded.」
「W-well, it’s a bit shocking but, thinking carefully, Nagumo’s Grim Reaper series also often got possessed by mysterious existence before anyone know it.」
「And so you hijacked Mother’s base body huh……」
「Ii――! I~II I I♪」
「Aa? The humanoid body you dearly wished for? The performance is also the best? You have been waiting for this? ……Ah, yeah.」
Hajime was gradually getting annoyed to think further about it. He wondered why it couldn’t talk normally even though it now had Mother’s base body. If it could hijack Mother’s body, they should hijack the other machine soldiers too more quickly. He wanted to say a lot of things, but he sat down tiredly.
「Err, Hajime-sama? Is that person, Netemp-sama?」
「Seems so. Come to think of it, Etemp is――」
「A, aa. You went to pick up Donner and Schlag for me huh. Thanks a lot.」
「I~I? I! I!!」
It felt like it was saying something like 「Rather than praise please give me a humanoid body, masterrr! It’s unfair that only Netemp has one!」. It was desperately pointing its leg to Netemp. Netemp too was taking a pose toward Etemp like a certain pirate empress when looking down too much on other people.
「Well, we are safe for now. ……Their existences are safe, I think.」
「I-Is that so……」
「Or rather, if this body is usable, won’t it be better for you G10 to be the one moving into it?」
The instant Hajime said that, Netemp skillfully slithered away while still maintaining its seiza posture. In addition it was hugging itself while wriggling as though to plead 「Don’t do anything horrible to my body-」.
「Err, it’s alright you know? The core of us AI cannot be transferred that easily. With that body’s condenser destroyed, it will be impossible for me to move that body even if I use remote control……??? Err, how is that body moving? No, in the first place its system should have been wiped clean too, and yet how are you cracking it……」
「Stop it, G10. These guys are mysterious beings. Just accept that. If you think about it too deeply, you will fall into madness.」
A very awkward atmosphere filled the area.
The gutsy little girl Listy slowly approached Netemp and poked at it. While Etemp was poking at Hajime as though to pester him 「Hey, masteerr! My body tooo~」, Hajime pulled himself together and observed Netemp with close scrutiny.
「It seems that body’s system and condenser are destroyed, but can you control the optional equipments with your power?」
「As I thought, it’s impossible huh……」
「What? The access function to external weaponry is working? You’re taking over the calculation and the like by yourself? I see, so you can act like replacement PC in it.」
「Hee, you already possessed that body even while Mother was still remote controlling it? You tried to stop Mother immediately and somehow prevented just that function from self-destructing huh. Great job. Then you help G10.」
「What? You want upgrade as the reward? …………Fumu. A robot, what’s more a super high spec robot that can even play god……female body……magic puppet that combined artifact and SF tech……I am the master……servant………………maid? Super maid robot?」
Hajime started to mutter something.
Kouki and Kousuke looked at each other’s face. How could he converse normally with the robot……though they understood that it was too late already to start questioning it now, they still couldn’t stop themselves from thinking it. At the same time, the worry that this might be the moment of a dangerous guy getting his hand on a dangerous technology crossed their mind.
Also, Listy was conversing normally with Netemp & Etemp at the corner of their sight. They could also see Mindy whose eyes were rolling in confusion seeing that sight, but it wasn’t desirable for the chaos to deepen further than this, so they wordlessly reached an understanding with each other to ignore it.
Like that, around ten minutes passed.
After finishing the scenario to guide the people of Coltran and the effect of the recovery medicine had appeared enough, although there was only little remaining amount of magic power inside the body and there was strong lethargy that was felt until his core, Hajime confirmed that his external wounds and willpower had healed to a certain degree and stood up.
「Now then, I’m going now. Etemp and Netemp, you two give support to Amanogawa and Endou. I’m also leaving behind the Grim Turtle here under the command of you two.」
「Nagumo, I’m looking forward to an astounding reinforcement.」
「Then perhaps you should bring along Hauria clan too. They’re going to rampage madly against mere machine soldiers.」
「I can go father and bring alone the manly women who are recently propagating even more.」
「「Don’t do that!」」
Even while making such frivolous talk, Kousuke held up his fist forward like what he did before. Kouki smiled and touched his fist to it. Hajime too brought up his fist even while frowning slightly.
「Jasper, Mindy, start preparing.」
When Hajime called out, Mindy immediately gathered the children. She held up the younger children and made the older children held her hands.
But, Jasper kept sitting down……
「Oi, Jasper. What are you――」
「I’m……, I’m staying too-」
The man who longed for the paradise more than anyone yelled that. He sat down heavily to show his intention of not moving even a step from there.
「What are you saying?」
「Please take care of my family. Bring only Mindy and the children with you. I’ll stay here……and fight.」
Jasper’s eyes were serious. He looked straight at Hajime and entrusted his family to him, then he turned his gaze to Kouki and spoke his determination.
It was Mindy who panicked.
「Nii-san!? Don’t say something stupid!」
「So what if it’s stupid!!」
His loud voice was filled with emotion as though to crush the voice Mindy raised. That voice was filled with a drive that made everyone shut up without intending to.
Mindy took a deep breath, then she asked with a quiet voice.
「What’s the matter, Nii-san? Why are you suddenly……」
「Because I realized……」
Jasper looked up to the sky.
「I thought this world is shitty. I wanted to get out right away from this place that is like a garbage can. But you know, look.」
He squinted his eyes at the dazzling sunlight that was showering them down.
――Even this world, is actually this beautiful
Drawn by his gaze, Hajime and others, and also Mindy and the children, they all looked up to the sky. Even if it was a different world, the light that illuminated the ground was equally, beautiful.
「Humans from another world, they are still going to fight even after becoming this battered. There is also someone here that has kept fighting for two hundred years even alone.」
Every single one of them had their own circumstance. Even so, the future of this world would be decided at the end of this battle.
「And yet, is it okay for me to run away? Even though I’m the big bro of these kids, even though I’m an adult older than all of you guys, could I just piggyback on others till the end? Even though this world isn’t just an ugly thing that should be abandoned, is it really alright for me to abandon all those humans down there who are also shouldering the same fate like me and go off by myself to an unknown world claiming that it’s paradise over there? Or perhaps I should return here after everything has ended and the laugh while saying that everything is already fine? If front of the guys who are actually fighting?」
Jasper listed words that sounded like questioning and answering himself. Most likely he had been repeating these questions inside his heart while Hajime and others were resting.
「When I still didn’t know anything, I thought that I should just run away. That it’ll be fine doing that as long as my own family is alright. I still think that my family’s safety is number one even now, but, even so, now that I’ve learned about the truth of this world, about the guys fighting, about the pretty things, about what is important for human……I can’t just pretend to not know them! I don’t wanna to do that!」
Even though it was painful, even though he hated the absurdity of this world, even so he was a human who had survived in this world. He had seen with his own eyes the radiance of the world, of human, and also of AI that was no different from human.
He had understood the meaning of “living” in its truest sense.
That was why,
「I wanna live with my head hold highhh!!」
He didn’t want to avert his eyes from that sun shining brilliantly above him because of something like regret or guilt.
Jasper yelled his heart out. His face was indeed slightly different from a little while ago. So to speak, it was a “manly face”, the face of a warrior that was filled with both resolve and sincerity toward living.
His voice echoed with dignity. No one opened their mouth for a little while. They simply stared at Jasper wordlessly.
「Come to think of it, you’re a man that G10 chose.」
「Yes, that’s right. This is why, I chose him.」
Hajime smiled wryly at this event that happened right before he left. At the same time he spoke with a comprehending face. G10 agreed with a trembling voice.
This world was beautiful. He wanted to hold his head high as a human of this world. Just how happy G10 was to hear those words? Its eye that was flickering intensely from investigating the files it stole was stopping temporarily. It showed just how emotionally moved it was right now.
Kouki looked troubled. He also felt a sense of familiarity from strong sympathy to Jasper while he said.
「Jasper, it’s highly possibly you’re going to die you know?」
「I know. But still, that ain’t any reason at all to not fight. Ain’t that right?」
「Yeah, that’s right.」
「I’m alone not going to be that much of a help with the battle. No, I’ll be a hindrance instead. But, there should be something that I can do. It will take the longest time to evacuate those residences of the underworld like me to here right? I’m quite well known down there, so I should be a little bit useful to evacuate them. I might also be able to find some more guys who will fight here.」
Those were indeed reasonable advantages that Jasper could bring to the table. Hajime grinned in amusement.
「Amanogawa, the scenario, I’ll change the cast distribution a little bit.」
「What a coincidence. Actually I too am also thinking the same thing.」
Both of them were making an evil grin. Kousuke muttered 「Aa, the hero is falling……」 with an expression of lamentation.
Jasper turned his gaze to his little sister.
「Mindy. Sorry to trouble you but, take care of the kids.」
Jasper lowered his eyebrows. He was ashamed that even though he said that he wanted to live with his head held high, he wanted to evacuate his own family away.
Mindy’s expression distorted. She wanted him to run away together with them. There wouldn’t be another chance for their whole family to survive. This was literally the single string of salvation that was dangled down into hell for their family’s salvation.
However, the scream of her big brother’s soul had also echoed inside Mindy’s heart. Her big brother looked very radiant. The guilt toward other people that she had tried to ignore until now was also welling up inside, but she wanted to lead the children to a safe place……
Agitation and uneasiness and confusion took away Mindy’s words.
Then, at that timing,
「I’ll also fight.」
Listy stood in front of Jasper. She made a fighting pose with both her hands while her nose huffed roughly.
「No, you, something like that is――」
Jasper almost said that it was no good right away, but he was interrupted.
「I, I’ll also fight!」
「I’m also staying!!」
「We absolutely won’t leave Jas-nii behind alone!」
「Kouki-nii is also staying right? Then it’ll be alright!」
「Look, err, that person……there is also that strange person with thin presence!」
「We’ll win when Hajime-nii return right!? Then we’ll protect the neighborhood until then!」
The other children also gathered behind Listy and started saying that kind of things.
「N-no! You guys don’t get it――」
「No, Nii-san. Everyone understand. They’re the same like Nii-san.」
Mindy smiled. Her uneasy look just now was like a lie. Her cheeks blushed as though she was ashamed that the children had spoken before she could. However her gaze was straight and strong.
「We also want to live with our head hold high.」
Jasper’s argument was broken before the concentrated fire of his family’s strong gaze that looked the most radiant until now.
He looked at Hajime for help, but that Hajime only shrugged while saying 「Now I’ve got more reason to go back here fast」.
「Otou-san’s daughter won’t step back, won’t flatter, and won’t look back!」
「Where did you learn that kind of words――」
「Ah, yeah. You two are the culprit huh. I’m not gonna tsukkomi right now how you guys can converse normally but……anyway, I’m telling you I ain’t your dad.」
「To live is to fight. Obtain what you want by fighting!」
「Why are you that warlike even though you’re just a little girl. ……Perhaps it’ll be better to not let you meet Myuu……」
The incarnation of energy to take action――Listy-chan. Hajime had a troubled look while watching her shadow boxing in enthusiasm to protect her family, survive, and also win a seat as his daughter. The atmosphere of the place lightened.
「My bad, Hajime-san. I’m really sorry that I keep changing my mind like this, but we’re going to stay behind.」
「I see. Well, use Amanogawa as a shield to at least survive. If you guys work hard, I’ll beat up that Mother for you as reward.」
「Haha, I’m looking forward to that.」
Haijme smiled wryly because he would teleport to Tortus by himself in the end.
Like that, just before he teleported, he was about to ask G10 if there was some kind of useful information to defeat Mother……
「G10. How is it? If you’re still needing more time for the investigation, I’ll leave first.」
「Please wait just a little bit more. I discovered even more data cluster hidden deep inside the files. There is a special protection defending it so I’m trying to unlock it but, I’ll need just a bit more time……」
「You’re having that much difficulty, looks like it’s a really important data huh.」
G10 was able to crack the security of the heaven that was under the control of Mother, though admittedly there was also the help from Kousuke’s diversion. But now it was unable to open a data even after taking nearly ten minutes.
Hajime got a bit interested and decided to wait.
In the end that was the correct decision.
「I opened it. This is……」
G10 began to scrutinize the content. Less than ten seconds later.
「A, aa……no way……how in the world……」
It made a stunned voice. It naturally attracted everyone’s gaze.
「What’s wrong? Did you find some kind of Mother’s weak point?」
Hajime asked with slight expectation. G10 replied with a quiet voice to him. That voice didn’t sound despairing. Its voice sounded like it believed in Hajime, but it was desperately holding on after getting cornered toward the edge of a cliff.
「It’s the opposite. This data……is regarding Mother’s greatest strong point.」
「Strong point? What do you mean?」
「It’s energy. The vast energy that Stole Harden obtained in the past. This information is regarding the true identity of that energy and its control and management.」
According to the report, that energy was named as “Star Energy” by Harden.
Of course the energy was unknown by the world. Because Stole Harden was the only one who succeeded in observing this unknown energy that was flowing in the planet itself.
Harden continued to secretly research that star energy. And then, it seemed he discovered that the energy was going around the planet like blood vessel inside human body and also how there were spots where that energy was concentrated and burst out to the surface.
The former was named “Star Vein”, while the later was named “Star Point”.
「That was why the very first thing Harden targeted was the holy land. It was in order to obtain the world’s greatest Star Point that is the holy land, no, the “sacred tree” that made the holy land called as holy land.」
「……Sacred tree, you say?」
Hajime’s mutter didn’t reach G10 who was desperately trying to hold back its despair. In exchange shudder ran through Kouki and Kousuke’s expression.
「Don’t tell me……」
「It’s exactly as you think, Kouki-sama. Mother killed Harden and obtained it at the same time.」
There was no meaning of the star energy in itself. In order to make use of that energy meaningfully, first it had to be converted into other form like electricity or heat energy that would act as the fuel for existing weaponry.
「The “Element Arrangement Equal Conversion System”. It can freely convert the star energy into any form of known energy.」
With that, Mother could use the energy that was running through this very planet itself.
「Mother is in the possession of an inexhaustible energy. To challenge Mother, means to challenge this planet itself……. No wonder……that Mother has never run out of resource.」
G10 recalled the great war in the psat and frustration oozed into its voice.
Silence was ruling the place. The thing they had to do hadn’t changed. However, they realized once more just how powerful Mother was. It didn’t matter how vast the amount of magic power Hajime could stockpile, with the magic power dispersion effect in this planet, they were placed in too great of a disadvantage. Everyone felt like they wanted to grind their teeth.
But, just before that happened,
「Sacred tree……unknown energy……equal conversion, you said?」
When the place fell completely silent, a small voice finally entered their ears. Hajime was muttering something to himself in whisper.
But right away, he raised his head in a flash and grabbed at G10.
「G10! What is this sacred tree!? What kind of tree is it!?」
「Eh, ah, that, it’s the ancient tree that is growing at the center of the holy land. It has a gigantic size that has no compare……」
「Image!? Do you have its image!? The conspicuously big iron colored structure in the holy land’s image just now! Is that thing covering the sacred tree inside it!?」
「Y-yhess! That’s right! T-the image, it’s, here!」
Hajime’s eyes were bloodshot. The pressure made Kouki and others hesitated to hold Hajime back and they backed away instead. G10’s voice was wavering with its body within Hajime’s grasp.
Then, the image of sacred tree was projected in the air with hologram……
「T-the grand tree Ua Altoo!?」
Kouki and Kousuke’s voices resounded.
It was the sacred land before it was turned into fortress. The gigantic tree that was towering at the center and the great tree that was towering in sea of trees Haltina were certainly like two peas in a pod.
「I see……as I thought that’s how it is. The worlds are connected……but, magic power is an unknown energy……the energy that is characteristic in every world we visited until now is……no, wait, “element”? Element? Arrangement conversion? ……Tsu!! G-TENNNNNNN!!!」
「Hand over the detaiilll!! The details of the conversion systeeemmm!!」
A strange pressure was whirling around Hajime.
There wasn’t that much time remaining. However, Hajime kept his tight hold at G10 while staring hard at the hologram data and questioning G10 thoroughly.
No one dared to ask 「Is it okay that you aren’t going to Tortus already?」 in this atmosphere. It felt like anyone who dared to get closer would be treated to a bullet on the face.
Kouki was going ‘awa awa’ while moving his hands in flustered state. The time kept passing even now……
Around ten minutes later.
They heard something. An awfully horrible chuckle.
Again. The chuckling sound became even more horrible.
Then at the next moment after everyone thought that,
「HAA――――HA-HA- HA-HA- HA-HA- HA!!!」
An intensely loud laughter reverberated!! The source was of course Hajime. His hand covered his face. His mouth was splitting into a smile that looked like a demon who was immersing himself in the pleasure of grinding the weak to dust!
「Shh! Listy-chan, you mustn’t look!」
「Nice job Amanogawa! I don’t know why but Nagumo that guy-, he has completely transformed into a mad transmutation master! His eyes have completely snapped! Little kids mustn’t watch this!」
「HAAA~~~~DEE~~~NNN!! I SHALL ACKNOWLEDGE IT WITHOUT ANY OBJECTION! YOU’RE UNDOUBTEDLY A GENIUSSSS!! HAA――――HA-HA- HA-HA- HA-HA- HA!!」
「Hiih, what happened to him!?」
Jasper and Mindy, followed by the children were also falling into panic and cried and screamed. That was just how terrifying Hajime had snapped right now. It was a horror beyond any description.
But right after that, Hajime stopped laughing with a ‘fuh’ and began to ponder with a serious face.
「H-he is too emotionally unstable it’s just scarryy. Amanogawa, try calling out at him!」
「M-me!? Tsu, got it. ……Na, Nagumooo~? Have you calmed doown~?」
「Wait a second.」
Both Kouki and Kousuke harmoniously held up their hands together and fell silent.
Jasper and others were watching Hajime in trepidation as though they were looking at a person with a screw loose in their head. Meanwhile Hajime faced G10 once more and began to talk calmly for some reason this time.
「G10. Give me your opinion as a tactical support AI.」
「Y-yes. What is it?」
「Eh? Is such thing possible? Certainly theoretically――」
「In this situation, if it’s you――」
「Wha-, however Hajime-sama. For that, we have to clear at the very least fifteen obstacles――」
「But it shouldn’t be impossible. Endou――」
「Certainly if it’s Abyssgate-sama……however, in that case――」
「Can this be cleared? The problem is, your ability――」
「……Then how about Netemp-sama? If there is no problem with her connection ability――」
「The analysis itself――」
「A virus together with the data――」
Even G10 was gradually getting absorbed into the conversation. Kouki and others were starting to run out of patience already and just when they were about to raise their voice.
「Oi, Nagumo. Just what are you――」
「Amanogawa, Endou. Change of plan.」
It seemed the talk was finally over.
It was like his bout of insanity that made everyone stepped back while cringing just now was just a lie. Hajime calmly but boldly turned toward them with a fierce fearless smile on his face.
Kouki and others reflexively held their breath in front of that. Then Hajime let out a shocking sentence.
「I found a third plan.」
AN: Thank you very much for reading this every time.
Thank you very much too for the thoughts, opinions, and reports about misspelling and omitted words.
I’m sorry that the story doesn’t really progress even though the chapter is so long (sweat)
Next chapter, the last chapter of demon king & hero arc (perhaps). I think I’ll be able to update at Saturday next week. Best regards!
– Wait a second It goes without saying, it’s a joke material from Nichijou. It’s Shirakome’s favorite.
– Supersonic transport aircraft When I was browsing the internet, it seemed there is a supersonic airliner that can fly in 5 or 6 mach (still idea stage?) in the middle of development. This thing is really overflowing with romance, so I want to write it.
– Won’t step back, won’t faltter, won’t look back By Listy It went without saying, this is the famous line from Hokuto○ no Ken.If you find any errors ( broken links, non-standard content, etc.. ), Please let us know so we can fix it as soon as possible.