Both Erde and Akira noticed that something had changed inside their respective opponent. The aura seeping off from the other person gave a sense of an unknown. It was as if everything that they had learned during their last exchange was all meaningless. It was as if they were challenging each other, two skilled fighters, into melee combat without any prior information. Even so, they were not as sheepish enough to show hesitation. As a matter of fact, both thought that they might use that situation for their benefit.
In the next moment, Erde made his move. With the speed that was way above what he showed up till now, he closed his distance to Akira as if he was a bullet. The force from propelling his body cracked the floor, but even before the cracked pieces that he sent flying by his sprint could reach the wall and ceiling, he had closed his distance to Akira. They were now within arm’s reach. Using the forward momentum, he threw out a straight at the same time.
Due to his speed, the fist activated the speed filter effect. If it was a bullet, it would have lost its momentum and fallen to the ground. But unlike a bullet, that fist was backed by superhuman strength. As that fist broke through the invisible walls with pure brute force, it sent shock waves in all directions as if it was a warhead shot by a powered suit.
Receiving that fist would be fatal, even the shock waves alone could easily crush rubble. Akira barely evaded that fist and used the forcefield armour of his augmented suit. It was concentrated to the side of that fist. This was done by Alpha to dampen the shock wave. At the same time, the output of Akira’s augmented suit was increased to its utmost limit to launch a counterattack.
Akira’s fist connected with Erde. Even for Erde, evading a quick counter right after his own attack while leaping forward with that speed was impossible. However, evading was not a choice. He could only defend against that attack. Erde received that fist with his arm in order to avoid the full brunt of that fist. The damage was minimal, and he was not blown back. As a matter of fact, the kickback from that punch created a huge crack on the floor under Akira’s foot. It showed the difference in their physical strength.
That was when Erde noticed something strange.
Akira’s LEO multi-rifles were nowhere to be found although they were on his hands in the last exchange and before this confrontation. Akira had pulled out his fist and moved to throw another punch. Seeing that, Erde instantly knew that his attack would reach Akira first, but the moment he shifted his stance to strike Akira, an ominous feeling assaulted him, he immediately jumped back.
At the same time Erde retreated, Akira threw both of his rifles upward. The 2 LEO multi-rifles rotated freely in the air. With the help of their advanced kickback compensator system and aiming system, they stabilized themselves in mid-air even without anyone holding onto them. Right after that, both released the C bullets that have been charged full of energy during the idle conversation from before.
But Erde perfectly avoided the hailstorm of bullets from above him. The bullets flew straight to the floor and sent pieces of it flying around. Eventually, the rifles hit the limit and were unable to stabilize themselves as they started shooting indiscriminately. Since that move was done due to a pre-set setting instead of long-range control, Akira had to reach for them again in order to stop them. And that was exactly what Akira did.
Before Akira could reach for his rifles, Erde released two punches from afar. The shock wave propagated through the air. But Akira quickly jumped sideways. Since he was not able to retrieve his rifles before that, only the rifles were blown away from the long-range punches.
Erde immediately released a series of punches. The punches ignored their physical reach and propagated through the air. But Akira who was running through the room evaded all of them. The distance between Erde and Akira grew further.
[He even evaded this too, huh!? Wait, no, I guess it’s only to be expected if it’s against an escort for an old-world connector from Sakashita Heavy Industry? That augmented suit is either a custom-tuned augmented suit or a completely different augmented suit but with a fake appearance. I’ve seen that augmented suit in the catalogue before, it should not be able to produce that much output with its spec. And a normal human body would not be able to withstand that kickback as well. In the first place, what he did was not something even a Rank 50 Hunter could do. As I thought. He must be an agent from the city disguising as a normal Hunter so that no one would notice that he is escorting an old-world connector.]
Erde’s guess was partially correct. Akira’s equipment was further enhanced due to Alpha’s upgrades. Moreover, its original software which prioritized safety had also been rewritten. The LEO rifles’ firepower was increased to its breaking point. The augmented suit was moving so fast that it was breaking down Akira’s body. With the safety feature tossed aside in exchange for power, even the slightest mistake would kill its user.
Akira’s augmented suit was not moving along with his will. Instead, he was trying his best to match its movement so that his limbs would not be torn off. Since the augmented suit was originally performant, with its safety restriction off, Akira was not able to keep up with it. Normally, his limbs should have already torn off by now.
It was the same for the attacks from Erde. Under normal circumstances, Akira would not have been able to evade them. Although the shock waves from the punches were slower than bullets, they were far more difficult to evade. Bullets only flew in the direction of the muzzle. Akira could get a rough estimation of where that muzzle was pointing at and that helped him in determining the projectile of the bullets. However, that was not the case for Erde’s punches. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that the shock wave would propagate in a straight line. The shock wave propagated depending on the way he launched his attack. He could manipulate such a phenomenon thanks to his superior skill. If Akira had not granted permission to Alpha, he would have been hit by those shockwaves.
The exchange between attacks and evasions inside his compressed time perception was extremely intense. One small misstep guaranteed death. It was completely out of what Akira could handle, so he asked for Alpha’s help. But the backlash was in no way light.
Akira wafted in between the shock waves from Erde’s punches, trying to survive against Erde, who had superhuman physical strength and skill. The only reason why Akira could withstand the assault was thanks to Alpha.
At the moment, Alpha was not only controlling Akira’s augmented suit but also his body. She inserted herself in Akira’s mind to do the detailed adjustments to his movements. Thanks to that, his augmented suit could move around as if it was trying to kill its user.
Akira had gone through harsh training before. Training so harsh that it made others misunderstand him, believing he was trying to be superhuman. Now that Alpha was actively adjusting his movements as well, he had become even stronger. Strong enough to fight against an actual superhuman.
Akira noticed that his body was moving much better than before. He was not surprised by that, as a matter of fact, he was more surprised by the fact that Erde was still fending off his attacks.
“This guy is really strong! This is just crazy!”
“I bet it’s from some kind of trump card. Personally speaking, I didn’t expect his trump card to boost his fighting power by this much.”
“You didn’t expect that?! Alpha, are we really going to be okay?”
“Of course. Akira, if you have the time to complain, it’s better to use that leeway to focus on the fight, you know? You still have a long way to go, seeing that things make you waver when you know that it doesn’t work right away.”
“I know, I know!”
Exchanging words like that in the middle of an intense battle helped Akira to regain some calmness. That helped boost his chance of winning. His mental state was built from a world where life and death battles were normal. It had turned into strength to help him survive. While he was dodging the shock waves, Akira readied his AF anti-material cannon.
Akira understood that it was not a weapon to be used in a closed space. In the worst-case scenario, it might even destroy the transport vehicle, which he would have to pay for later. Even so, he did not hesitate as he pulled the trigger.
A blinding ray of light engulfed the room and struck Erde. However, that pillar of light was deflected by his right hand. It drilled a hole through the ceiling. This outcome was something Akira did not expect at all.
“You got to be kidding me!? He even blocked that too!? Even the white powered suits outside could not block that, you know!?”
“Unfortunately, the enhanced dust particle significantly lowered its firepower. If it was under normal circumstances, that would have killed him.”
“Give me a break already. Alpha, what’s the plan? I have nothing stronger than this cannon.”
“Don’t worry. It’s not like he was able to fully block it. Although it was not enough to kill him right away, it did damage his arm. Look. He hasn’t moved from that place, right?”
Akira knitted his eyebrows and looked at Erde. It was true that Erde’s stance had not changed. He remained unmoving from when he blocked the annihilating light with his right hand. He had a stern look on his face, but he did not seem to be wavering and his right hand seemed completely undamaged.
“To be honest, it’s not all that great to hear that I was finally able to stop him in place for just a moment with that attack, you know? Also, he doesn’t seem injured at all!”
“That’s not true. Anyways, here he comes.”
Erde shifted his stance, his right hand fell limply down. He then started throwing punches again but this time, only with his left arm.
Akira jumped sideways to avoid the incoming shock wave. Moreover, this time, it was Akira who took the initiative to close the distance. He slipped through the repeating shock wave from the only arm swinging. In the meantime, he used his dual LEO multi-rifles to shoot at Erde. The bullets and the shockwave collided and ricocheted inside the room.
Erde’s face twitched.
[We’re evenly matched even in this situation!? Sakashita Heavy Industry has an excellent escort!]
Erde was an enhanced human. Although he did not replace his body parts with mechanical parts like cyborgs, he used nanomachines to enhance his cells to the level of those cyborgs. His physical strength is already well within the realm of beings considered to be superhuman. And with the help of forcefield armour technology, he could easily rip through powered suits and tanks with only just his body. That was also the reason why he was able to block Akira’s AF anti-material cannon.
To top it off, he used all of his trump cards. By sacrificing the cells that were assimilated with the nanomachines, he was able to boost his physical strength even further past his limit. In exchange for that boost, he was only able to keep that up for at most 5 minutes. In short, after that, he would have completely sacrificed his own body and died.
Using this even for 10 seconds was enough to put his body under intense stress. His physical strength would diminish greatly afterwards. The reason why he used his trump card even knowing the risks involved was because he recognised Akira’s skill. At the same time, it was also because he thought that it would be enough to kill Akira right away.
His guess was wrong. Erde was surprised at how powerful Akira was since he thought that Akira had run out of trump cards. Akira suddenly moved like a completely different person. If Akira fought like how he did during their initial exchange, he would not even have had the chance to use his AF anti-material cannon.
[Dammit! I misjudged the time to use my trump card! But I can’t afford to lose here!]
In such a short span of time, both sides rampaged around with their superhuman strength. The room could not contain their rampage and was turned into a mess. The decorations on the floor and on the ceiling were all destroyed and the frames of the transport vehicle were in full view.
A part of the room was filled with the holes from Akira’s C bullets. To top it off, Erde’s kicks and punches left craters within the room. The transport vehicle was already greatly damaged because of their battle. A battle between these 2 people started to cause the chassis of the transport vehicle to bend outwards.
The overwhelming forcefrom Erde’s attacks was enough to bend the isolation room out of its original shape. Akira managed to survive that battle using technical skills.
Erde’s technical skill was in no way inferior. He was a skilled close-range fighter with superhuman strength. The combination of his power and skill was enough to ensure victory against multiple powered suits in close combat. The only thing one could criticize him for his skill was that he was more used to fighting in his normal state rather than his current enhanced state.
Naturally, Alpha did not let that side, she used the opening caused by that unfamiliarity and allowed Akira to withstand the battle despite his disadvantage.
The expensive medicine that Akira had been excessively using ever since he started working as a Hunter, was pumped full of old-world healing technology. Especially the one that he had taken from the Kuzusuhara ruin. It was medicine made by old-world doctors. That caused all his injuries up until now to heal under old-world standards. Compared to the current world’s standard that was filled with holes, the old-world standard could be considered as a full-body renovation. Thanks to that, Akira was turned into a superhuman, bit by bit.
That was also the reason why Alpha did not recommend Akira sell those medicines to get better equipment during the beginning of his career. She decided that using them was more beneficial in the long run compared to just selling them for equipment.
Moreover, even after obtaining a strengthened body, he also spent his days under gruelling training. The augmented suits that he used were always set to ignore the safety limit. They were always pushed to the point where it was just enough not to get him killed, allowing its output to be increased to its utmost limit. This further pushed Akira’s strength into the area of the superhuman.
But even so, that alone was still not enough against Erde. It was only with the conscious intervention permission that Akira gave to Alpha, that he was able to execute techniques that no normal human could do. It allowed Akira to acquire superhuman skills on top of his superhuman strength. He barely managed to hold out against Erde using the power that he was not used to.
Unfortunately, even after going that far, it was still not enough. Erde, who was getting more familiar with his enhanced strength bit by bit during the battle, tilted the scale little by little. Eventually, his chance came. Erde’s intense kick threw Akira’s rifles off his hands.
Erde saw that as an opportunity, and he quickly closed the distance between them. The 2 LEO rifles that were thrown out of Akira’s hand spun and went behind him. But they suddenly stopped and fixed their aims toward Erde’s back.
Erde had fully expected that to happen.
[Knew it! He did that deliberately! He’s trying to force me to evade the shots!]
Erde believed that Akira was planning to use his AF anti-material cannon once he attempted to evade it. This time, Akira would be shooting from a closer distance. Even so, Erde made his resolve and pushed forward.
As he predicted, the LEO rifles behind him released shots. Erde blocked the bullets using the projecting forcefield armour on his back. Meanwhile, from the front, he could see Akira preparing his AF anti-material cannon. However, Erde did not show any signs of evading. Instead, he leapt forward, not giving Akira enough time to fix his aim.
Out of his expectation, even before Akira was able to lock his aim, he had already pulled down the trigger. He released a ray of light from his AF anti-material cannon. Although it was unable to get a straight hit, it was still better than nothing. Moreover, it should be enough to stop his opponent in their tracks. In the middle of a high-speed battle where even blinking was fatal, in a situation when it was possible to see the opponent’s rifle, veterans tend to get away from the muzzle by pure reflex.
But Erde had also expected that as well. He focused his forcefield armour to his left hand, completely identified where the AF anti-material cannon was aiming and released a punch that blocked that beam of annihilation and aimed at Akira at the same time.
The punch was packed with the power of a superhuman. It deflected the beam and pushed forward with enough power that could easily destroy even powered suits.
In the middle of that do-or-die intense exchange, Erde was surprised. That beam felt abnormally light. In order to break through the AF anti-material cannon’s attack and deal a killing blow to Akira, Erde continued to push his fist with everything he had. However, because the resistance was far lighter than he had assumed, he got a little off balance.
Right at the next moment, Erde’s attack completely destroyed Akira’s AF anti-material cannon. Rather than breaking through the forcefield armour protecting the barrel of the cannon, the shock wave threw the cannon off Akira’s hand, peeled it off from his augmented suit, and blew it back.
At the same time, Akira evaded Erde’s punch and stepped forward. He readied his stance and drove a straight punch toward Erde. It was a beautifully executed punch thanks to Alpha’s support. At that moment, Akira did not have a strike stronger than this.
Even so, that attack should not have been enough to break through Erde’s defences. Unfortunately for Erde, the forcefield armour that he projected behind his back to defend himself from the bullets and his left hand to deflect the AF anti-material cannon caused the forcefield armour in other places to be thinner than usual. To top it off, he was still moving forward thanks to momentum. His momentum would have been lost if the shot that he deflected back then was the normal AF anti-material cannon’s output.
In truth, Akira had already run out of AF anti-material ammo. That ray of light was nothing more than dense light created using leftover energy.
But that was the key that granted Akira victory, allowing him to slip through Erde’s attack and hit him with a counter punch.
Akira was the first to fall, he had squeezed everything he had. The backlash caused his knees to buckle. He first leaned forward, kneeled, and then fell forward.
As Akira was lying on the ground, his eyes were fixed on Erde, who was still standing there. Finally, Erde smiled and congratulated him.
Akira could see from his back that there was a large hole that went through Erde’s chest. It was a hole created by Akira’s punch. Erde’s smile was one that was filled with appreciation toward Akira, which also had a tinge of remorse.
“…Torpa… Salza…Forgive me, I lost…”
Erde could only use his final words to plead for forgiveness before he crashed onto the ground and remained motionless.
Akira was still vigilant. He managed to push himself up and checked on Erde. That was when Alpha spoke to him.
“Akira, it’s okay. We won.”
“…With only that injury?”
Even after he was declared victorious, Akira still had a stern look on his face. Although Erde had a hole in his body, he still had his head and four limbs. So, it did not feel like he had won.
After all, there were people who could still laugh only with a head left. There were also people who still could fight without a head. Akira had already experienced both situations, so he was still doubtful that he had won.
Alpha once again said.
“Don’t worry, he’s dead. Or at least, he’s in no condition to continue fighting.”
“…Is that so?”
Akira understood that at least Erde no longer posed any threat to him. But he still looked tense. He tried to stand up but tripped over. Therefore, he decided to crawl to pick up his LEO multi rifles.
“…Alpha, how’s the situation?”
“There is no enemy signal in the area.”
“…I guess that’s it for now, huh…”
After that, Akira managed to return to where Hikaru was locked and lightly knocked on the door.
“Hikaru, are you still alive?”
Even Hikaru, who was locked inside the large strong locker, could feel the room tremble, and hear the sound of the intense battle outside. It was easy to imagine just how damaged the room was. It greatly frightened her but she then somehow managed to return a reply.
“Y-Yeah, somehow. H-how is it over there?”
Akira looked around the room. It looked as if a swarm of monsters just rampaged here.
“…Anyway, those 3 guys that were trying to kidnap you are already dead. Though, I don’t know if there are more out there or not. I’m sorry, but I’m already at my limit. If another one comes, I don’t think I can fight anymore.”
Alpha suddenly interjected.
“Akira, don’t move, it’s dangerous.”
“No, but it’s still dangerous.”
Alpha pointed toward the ceiling. Right at that moment, a huge finger broke through the ceiling followed by another finger, they grabbed the ceiling and tore it off. Akira squinted his eyes on the scene of the sky that was laid in front of him. At the same time, the powered suit that owned those fingers showed itself. It was Tatsukawa.
An amused voice could be heard from the powered suit’s speaker.
“Oh, it’s already over, huh… Hm? You’re… Akira, right? So, it was you, huh?”
Akira was really surprised.
“Whoah there, what the heck are you doing?”
“I detected someone fighting intensely inside the room, so I decided to check it. The escort team said that it was fine to damage the transport vehicle if it’s only little and since I thought that it was too much work to walk around, I was thinking of joining the fight with my powered suit.”
Akira’s surprised face was mixed with exasperation.
The ripped-off ceiling allowed the enhanced dust particle to quickly disperse, lowering its density in a short time. Thanks to that, the jamming also weakened. Hikaru, who noticed that, immediately contacted the escort team and shouted.
“Akira! The connection is back! We need to call for help…”
“Ah, yes, it’s already here.”
Tatsukawa’s voice echoed.
“Is there someone inside that locker? If you can’t open the door, I can help you.”
“Ah, yes, please.”
Akira knew that he had exhausted the energy pack for his augmented suit, so he just stepped aside so as to not get in the way. The powered suit then reached for the locker’s door and ripped it off.
Hikaru, who was only in her underwear, was finally let out. She stood frozen from the scene in front of her, but Tatsukawa’s apologetic voice pulled her back to reality.
Hikaru turned to Akira. Akira did not say anything and just turned around.
Inside the half-destroyed room, Hikaru shrieked and tried to find something to hide her skin.
The battle between Akira and Erde plus Tatsukawa, who ripped off a part of the room, caused considerable damage to the transport vehicle. However, considering that it was because there were some people who were aiming to kidnap an old-world connector from Sakashta Heavy Industry, the damage was considered to only be superficial. That was because the squad sent to kidnap Hikaru was a relatively small squad.
In reality, Erde and his team thought that Hikaru was only a decoy. But they did not expect Akira to be that strong, because of that, they thought that Hikaru was really an old-world connector. They originally planned to just kidnap her and check if she was really an old-world connector before bringing her to the main squad.
Meanwhile, the main squad was aiming for the one that they thought to be the real one. Shirou was in the transport truck number 8. Just like Akira, Shirou’s room was also an isolation room, as matter of fact, his room was built to be even sturdier. That room was also located deep in the middle of the transport vehicle. At the moment, the area around that isolation room was completely destroyed, leaving only the isolation room intact. It was as if the isolation room was thrown from the sky to the top of a pile of rubble.
Hammerz, who just finished his job, was standing in the middle of that rubble and sighed.
“…Good grief. In the end, I’m the only one who had to work hard, huh?”
The area was littered with dead corpses. It was the main squad from Erde’s team. Many of them were enhanced superhumans like Erde. Some of them were even armed with heavy armour. But Hammerz, Shirou’s only bodyguard, took all of them out all by himself.
Superhuman — Hammerz demonstrated the true meaning behind that word.
Although the special armour on his back was badly damaged, Hammerz himself had only light injuries, he could just replace his armour later. He did not seem like someone who was responsible for that carnage. Although he looked tired, he was still standing straight. There also was no sign of fatigue from an intense battle.
Hammerz banged the door to the isolation room and Shirou replied from inside.
“Oh, are you done?”
Shirou said so casually, due to the fatigue, it really annoyed Hammerz.
“Don’t give me that! Didn’t I tell you to call for help!? Why did you not do so?!”
“I did call for help, but the jamming prevent me from making a connection.”
“Jamming? Like hell jamming would work on an old-world connector like you!”
In contrast to Hammerz’s irritated voice, Shirou replied with a mix of exasperation.
“I’ll remind you here, just because I’m an old-world connector, that doesn’t mean I can do everything. The help request just wouldn’t get through. It’s not like I can do anything about that, you know? Ah, by the way, since I couldn’t send the help request to the escort team’s HQ, I sent one to Sakashita Heavy Industry.”
“Just how did you connect to a facility that is so far away from here when you can’t contact the escort team’s HQ which is nearby?”
“That’s because I was using an old-world line connect to the facility while I can only use a normal line to contact HQ. So, the effect of the jamming particle is different.”
Hammerz accepted that excuse and sighed to help himself calm down.
“…I see, so then, how’s the jamming right now?”
“I’m still trying. Maybe it will work after we wait for a while. But still, as expected, the escort team should have noticed it after making this much ruckus, no?”
“Probably. I don’t know who these people are and where they came from, but since the escort team doesn’t seem to have noticed them even after they made this much of a mess, I bet they did something. In the worst-case scenario, they might never notice unless we inform them first. So, hurry up with the connection.”
“I’m on it already. Oh! It’s back.”
“Why did it return at this time?”
“That’s just how the world works. Just like how you never find the thing that you’re looking for but can easily find it when you’re not looking for it.”
In reaction to Shirou’s casual excuse, Hammerz heaved a heavy sigh.
Silavin: Patreon drops back down the 2 chapters a week.