Latis, who rode the mini-missile, returned back to Chloe’s APC. He let go of the missile while in mid-air and landed inside the APC, dropping through its opened ceiling door. He then gave Chloe a bow as she stood up from her seat to welcome Latis.
“…I am really sorry for my failure, I will accept any punishment.”
Chloe squinted her eyes.
“Just to confirm. That apology is for failing to kill Akira, right? Not because you ignored my order again, right?”
Latis felt a slight tinge of fear from her as he replied with a serious expression.
“My apology for failing to kill Akira. It has brought great shame to me for not being able to keep my words before returning back. Unable to deliver any good news.”
“In that case, just to make it clear, did you ignore my order again? Or did you not?”
“…I did my best to follow Milady’s order.”
Latis kept getting anxious with every reply. Finally, Chloe’s expression loosened.
“In that case, there’s no need to apologize. You were not able to kill that Hunter partly because of my order too. You did well out there. I’m sure you’re tired, you can leave guarding the APC to Pamela and take a rest.”
Instead of scolding Latis, Chloe looked amusedly at him. Unfortunately, that only made Latis even more confused.
“O-of course. Thank you very much for your kind words despite my failure…”
“Hm? Sure. Don’t worry about that, I’m pretty happy with the result, after all.”
“M-Milady, how should I interpret your words…?”
Chloe did not say anything and just returned back to her seat and sunk into it. She then smiled happily as she started to think about her next plan.
Latis threw a confused look at Pamela, seeking help. But Pamela just shook her head as if to say that she was as confused as he was.
The monstrous wasp kept shooting the weapons on its legs at its target. The unmanned augmented suit shot countless missiles from its missile pods and kept shooting its guns at that monster. While they were exchanging fire, Akira kept running around, trying to not get involved.
If they were fighting each other head-on. They would be locked in a 3-way fight. But Akira understood that he was no match against the monster. Meanwhile, the unmanned augmented suit was engaging the monster while chasing after Akira. Thus, they were running around with Akira and the unmanned augmented suit orbiting around the wasp monster.
The reason why Akira did not just leave and chase after Chloe’s APC was because he wanted to avoid getting stuck between the APC, the unmanned augmented suit and the monster. At least, until the unmanned augmented suit got destroyed, he could not afford to simply chase after the APC.
The unmanned augmented suit and the wasp monster were exchanging attacks head-on.
The wasp monster did not have the dexterity to evade the heavy augmented suit’s attacks. The cluster missiles coming from the unmanned augmented suit went straight and broke off into countless mini-missiles. Every single one of them managed to land on the wasp monster, enveloping its huge bodies in a fiery of explosions. Meanwhile, it kept shooting huge warheads repeatedly at the wasp’s abdomen. Each warhead could obliterate Akira in one shot.
In front of such an assault, even a monster from the upper region could not get away unscathed. The armour plating covering the wasp’s body crumbled along with the flesh attached to it. However, what laid under them was another layer of armour plating. Moreover, the liquid that oozed out from its open wound quickly hardened, thus rapidly closing its open wounds. Although the barrage from the unmanned augmented suit shaved off its life force, it was still far from being dead.
Of course, the unmanned augmented suit was also damaged from that intense exchange. The lasers and the beams coming from the wasp devoured the remaining energy of that augmented suit.
Compared to the wasp monster, the unmanned augmented suit was relatively small, flying around at a high speed. Moreover, the weapons that the monster was equipped with were designed to fight against an opponent of the same size. In exchange for high firepower, its accuracy was mediocre. Because of that, it was difficult for it to accurately aim at the unmanned augmented suit.
However, the wasp only needed to land a few hits with its firepower. Thus, it kept shooting. With the unmanned augmented suit running on autopilot, it was moving less dexterously compared to when Latis was in control. It could only evade half of the onslaught and took half of the attacks head-on, sustaining severe damage with each hit. The parts that could not be fully protected with its forcefield armour produced a blinding light, leaving a dent in its chassis.
Of course, the augmented suit was also trying to shoot at Akira, but since Akira kept positioning himself so that the monster would be located in between them, all its attention was on the monster wasp. With the monster being focused on attacking the unmanned augmented suit, the battle was mainly between them. Akira, who kept on running away from that battle, looked back and frowned.
“With that monster roaming the sky, it’s no wonder why people are usually not allowed to fly.”
“But with that being said, that monster is normally only in the upper region, you see. Normally, it would never come down like this.”
“I see, so why is it here?”
“No idea. One of the stray bullets might have hit it. It would not be strange for a gun like that to be able to hit a monster up that high. Especially when shot straight up.”
“Seriously… give me a break already…”
Akira could not help but frown. Alpha, who saw that, smiled and tried to cheer him up.
“But if that’s really the case, it might just return back up once it destroys that heavy augmented suit.”
It was not clear whether the monster was also aiming to eliminate Akira as well. That was exactly why Akira was only running around without attacking it. Even if it was by pure accident, if he hit the monster, there was no doubt that it would target Akira as well.
“Abandoning the option to return back, without any fear of getting that APC involved, that amour suit can now use all its firepower. It’s fighting pretty hard although it’s only on autopilot. It would be great if they kill each other.”
“Well, true. If that’s indeed the case.”
But that faint hope was immediately crushed. After the wasp finished recharging the laser cannon on its stinger, the wasp then directed it towards the unmanned suit. Right at the next moment, the suit was swallowed by a pillar of light, destroying it without even leaving a trace.
In order to make sure its target got destroyed, the laser was shot with a wide range and at a short distance. Thanks to that, it was not able to reach that far, but it was more than enough to envelop the area in front of the wasp in blinding light. The shockwave even reached Akira, who was positioned behind the wasp. Once the flash died down, a claw-like mark was left on top of the ground, greatly changing the contour of the land. Especially since the cannon evaporated a large chunk of it.
The heavy augmented suit that was completely unfettered after all those attacks from Akira was blown away to nothingness in just one simple attack. Seeing that, Akira could not help but knit his eyebrows and made a stern expression as he said.
“…Even that hard augmented suit has no traces left, huh? That thing is no joke.”
“Well, I bet that its forcefield armour has also been weakened after losing so much energy during that fight. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that it got annihilated. Now then, it would be great if that thing would just leave, but…”
Akira was anxiously looking at the wasp, waiting for its response with a glimmer of hope. But, that puny ray of hope was completely crushed at the very next moment.
Instead of returning up, the wasp that had completely eliminated one of its targets turned around to face its remaining target. Although it had lost some of its weapons from fighting against that unmanned augmented suit, it still had enough fighting capability to continue its mission. With the weapons on its legs aimed at Akira, it was obvious that it was going to engage with Akira next.
Right after Akira accelerated his bike away, the wasp started its assault. Although its lasers and its beams were not anti-forcefield armour, they were powerful enough to be able to crush through forcefield armour as if they were non-existent. The increase in temperature caused the air in their trajectories to form plasma and explosions soared the moment they made contact with the ground.
Alpha protected Akira by executing a complex maneuver with her amazing driving skill. While at the same time, she warned Akira.
“Akira! We have no other choice! We need to shoot it down!”
“Roger! But, with that augmented suit out of the picture, we can first catch up to that APC, right?”
With that much firepower, if he could bring that monster to the APC, even the APC would not be able to get out from an attack completely unscathed. That unmanned augmented suit stayed behind to make sure that would not happen, but now that it was gone, Akira thought that he was free to do that now. Furthermore, the APC should get desperate and try to shoot the monster down as well. But outside of his expectation, Alpha rejected his idea.
Alpha looked at Akira with a solemn expression which caused Akira’s frown to deepen.
“We’re approaching Kugamayama city. If we try to chase that APC with that monster following us, City Management would see it as us bringing that monster over to the city. If that happens, they will never allow you to return to Kugamayama city.”
Those who brought swarms of monsters back to the city were often eliminated together with the swarm. The decision to kill them with the monsters relied not on the number of monsters, but on the strength of the monster they brought with them.
If it was only a handful of weak monsters, they would not dispatch their main defence squad and just let the guards stationed in the slums to handle them. But that was only because they would cause minimal damage to the city’s lower district.
This meant that if it was a powerful monster, even if it was only a single monster, they would dispatch the defence squad. After all, a powerful monster would cause considerable damage to the lower district, in the worst-case scenario, they might even damage the area close to the wall.
If Akira brought this flying monster to the city, it might even cause damage to the inner district. So, there was no doubt that the defence squad would use whatever they had to prevent the worst from happening. They would dispatch the powered suit squad equipped with powerful weapons to intercept Akira. It was not clear when they would start the dispatch with Akira already being close to the outskirts of the city.
“Moreover, they might have predicted this situation right from the start. That is why they are not trying to attack us from the APC. It is to avoid ending up as the monster’s target.”
“Dammit, so that’s what is going on, huh!?”
Alpha explained to Akira, that in the worst-case scenario, the reason why Chloe left the Lion Steel facility near Mihazono ruin and headed to the city was to lure him to chase after her. There was a good chance that all of this was a trap for him. Since they were already trapped, it would not be strange if they prepared another trap for him.
Akira frowned. If that was indeed the case, then what Chloe said back in Mihazono ruin might as well be to lure him as well. Back then, he ended up taking that bait and almost got killed. But the fact that he was still alive now might be because they had predicted he would retaliate and had intentionally spared him back then.
With both his life and death basically in the palm of their hands. That fact hit something deep inside Akira, causing an ominous dark emotion to rise up from deep inside his heart.
But before that emotion completely devoured him, Akira was able to somehow manage to put a lid on it. To keep his own emotions from making him do something rash, which might lead to him killing himself, Akira managed to keep his cool.
“…Alpha, we can kill that thing, right? In that case, we just need to do it quickly and turn our attention to that APC, right?”
Alpha raised her eyebrows in surprise, but she quickly smiled confidently and said.
“Yup, that’s fine. It’s a simple thing to do with my support. Just leave it to me.”
“Alright, I’m counting on you, let’s go!”
Akira then aimed his rifle at the huge wasp with an exhilarated smile.
Back in the APC, Chloe was smiling while thinking about her plan. After she looked at the information from the radar that was scanning the area around the APC, she went into deep thought.
“…Hmmm, it might be a bit too fast.”
After she mumbled, she called the driver and gave her order. The driver was not sure why Chloe would give such an order, but he decided to abide by it.
Latis, who had already changed from his augmented suit to his original butler outfit, frowned with a confused look. He hesitated for a bit before finally deciding to ask Chloe.
“Milady, although it’s true that there is some distance between us, it’s no doubt safer to stay away from them. I’m sure that Milady also knows this. So, may I inquire the reason why Milady would take on such a risk and ask the driver to slow down?”
Chloe stared at Latis. There were times when Latis asked questions like this. Although he had an inkling of the answer, he still did so to lighten the mood. However, this time, Latis asked because he really had no clue. Since Chloe knew as much, she smiled and simply gave a rather vague answer.
“Hm? Well, I just thought that we were going too fast.”
Although that did not resolve Latis’ confusion, he did not pursue it any further.
Akira paced his bike, circling the wasp, avoiding its attacks.
The energy bullets released by the wasp scattered around the area and exploded the moment they made contact with the ground. It left behind huge craters. Even a common tank would be blown to bits with a single hit from those bullets. Akira kept driving around while looking at the destruction that those bullets caused, as they were raining down.
Drones that came out from the wasp’s abdomen flew and sourced Akira. The flying disk that had a mirror-like surface swarmed at him. Although they did not directly harm him, They bounced the laser shot by the main body’s laser cannon toward him. Furthermore, they surrounded Akira as they envelop him inside a storm of energy bullets.
Of course, Akira did not just stay silent, he desperately tried to counter them. With the help of Alpha’s advanced driving skill, the bike slipped through the opening between the barrage of energy bullets. Meanwhile, Akira would shoot at the drones to change the direction of their reflective surfaces. He did not stop shooting even as the scene of the energy bullets rampaging around him made him knit his eyebrows.
Once Akira charged his charge bullet to its max, he quickly aimed it at the wasp and released a barrage of C bullets that engulfed it. Given how large the wasp was, none of the bullets missed their target.
However, it hardly damaged the wasp. It quickly replaced any of its armour tiles that were shot down. It could do the same for its weapons that Akira had managed to destroy. Its flying device was protected by layers of forcefield armour, which projected a layer of light all the time. Thus, Akira’s bullets could not reach it.
“Alpha! That thing seems completely fine even after taking that barrage! How are we going to take it down!?”
“Well, it’s a monster from the upper region, after all. No surprise that it is this resilient. But don’t worry, we can defeat it. Also, it’s about time it finishes charging its main cannon.”
Akira was reminded of the laser cannon that evaporated Latis’ heavy augmented suit. It was so powerful and covered such a wide area that it seemed impossible to evade. Because of that, Akira could not help but frown.
“Alright, I’ll be careful.”
“Okay then, get yourself ready.”
Akira noticed from that exchange that it sounded like they were talking about something different. But since the wasp moved to aim its main cannon, Akira quickly dropped that thought and focused on what to do next. The wasp started to fly higher to open distance between them, focusing on getting Akira within its main cannon’s range.
In order to get away from the main cannon’s range, Akira could not afford to let it fly away. Thus, when Alpha told him to get ready, Akira thought that she meant for him to get ready to do something reckless again. Something to stay away from the main cannon’s range.
But that was not the case. Instead of going up, chasing after the wasp, Alpha controlled the bike to make a sharp U-turn, as if heading straight to the centre of where the main cannon would cover.
“Alpha!? What are you doing!?”
Akira increased his time perception compression by pure reflex. Inside that extremely slow-moving world, Alpha smiled confidently at him and replied.
“I did tell you to get ready, no? The more flustered you are, the less likely we will be able to pull this off, you know? So, make sure to get your resolve ready.”
“…Alright alright, I get it already!”
Akira still had a stern look and his mouth curved into a confident smile. He quickly changed gear and did as Alpha instructed. He put back his LEO multi rifle and took the AF anti-material cannon off from the bike’s arm before aiming it at the wasp’s main cannon.
The AF anti-material cannon took a huge chunk of energy from the bike’s energy tank. Alpha completely deactivated its safety lock, as it took in as much energy as it could to its breaking limit. The only reason it did not self-destruct was because Alpha had precisely calculated its limit.
The reason why Akira took the cannon himself instead of leaving it on the bike’s arm was because there was a limit on how accurate the bike’s arm can be. With Akira carrying the cannon himself, Alpha could give her full support to increase the accuracy.
The wasp had mostly completed its preparation to shoot, but it still needed a few more seconds. It also needed time to remove its forcefield armour layers protecting its muzzle before shooting out the laser. Normally, it should have enough time to do so while getting away from Akira, but since Akira was rushing straight at it, the wasp did not have the chance to do so.
Because of that, even after Akira went straight in front of its cannon, it still could not shoot. Akira and the wasp had their respective cannons aimed straight at each other.
Right at the next moment, Akira’s AF anti-material cannon released a lance of light which pierced through the wasp. Because it was right before the wasp shot its main cannon, it was right at the moment its forcefield armour was down. Akira’s shot destroyed the fully charged main cannon, went straight through the abdomen, and pierced through the wasp’s entire body.
Since it was fully charged and right before the cannon released its shot, there was a huge release of energy. Intense light rapidly leaked from the large wasp’s body. It quickly spread to the wasp’s weapons, flying device, and armour tiles. Although it was an unbelievably powerful monster, it could not withstand an explosion coming from the inside. Despite still mostly maintaining its original shape, it was completely dead as gravity took full control of its humongous body.
Akira flusteredly drove away the moment he saw that huge wasp free-falling right on top of him. Large chunks of wreckage fell around him, they made loud crashes the moment they landed, which were accompanied by minor explosions. Seeing that, Akira inadvertently looked at Alpha with widened eyes.
“See, it’ll be fine if you just leave it to me.”
Akira somehow managed to smile in response.
“You’re right. By the way, how close was that from killing me?”
“Hmmm, well, if you ask me that, I guess it was a few milli-seconds from you being dead?”
Akira smiled bitterly.
“…Hm, what can I say? Why does it always come down to something so dangerous every single time?”
“Hm, I wonder about that. But I guess it’s too late to be complaining about that now, no?”
“Isn’t it always like that ever since you met me?”
Seeing Alpha smile as she said so, Akira’s bitter smile turned into a sweeter one.
“You’re right, it’s way too late to be complaining about that now, huh… alright then! Let’s go chase that APC!”
Akira’s face turned serious as he turned the bike around and sped toward Chloe’s APC.
During his fight with the huge wasp, the APC was quite away from the battle and was already pretty close to Kugamayama city. If the APC had kept its original speed, it would have arrived in Kugamayama city by now.
The moment Pamela noticed Akira’s signal moving toward the APC, she quickly told the driver to go at full speed toward the city.
“Milady, he started moving towards us. He has defeated the monster and is heading this way at this very moment. At this rate, he will catch up to us.”
“Let the APC go at its current speed. There’s also no need to try to engage with him. Just use the APC’s defences to withstand his attacks.”
“B-But, in that case…”
Chloe stared at Pamela, and with that, Pamela could no longer argue back.
“B-by your command!”
Chloe lightly nodded as her expression turned slightly stern. She then mumbled.
“…What’s taking them so long? They should have been here by now. Those guys in Kugamayam city are slower than I thought.”
Pamela and the others did not understand why Chloe said so. Likewise, they did not know what her mumbling meant. But even so, they still abide by her order. Though, with a stern look on their faces.
Akira quickly closed the distance to Chloe’s APC. But due to Chloe’s order, they did not make any attempts to repel him. Right when Pamela was considering ignoring Chloe’s order for the sake of her master’s safety, she suddenly noticed another blip appeared on the radar.
Chloe, who noticed that, smiled and said.
“Whatever happens, keep going toward the city at this speed. Start broadcasting that message again, saying that I’m in this APC.”
Pamela and the others looked at each other with confusion, but they quickly followed her order.
Akira, who could be seen from Chloe’s APC, was looking at the vehicle with extreme intensity to kill. Seeing that, Alpha warned him.
“Akira, keep your calm, okay?”
The reason why Akira gave a small pause was because he knew he was not calm. He took deep breaths to calm his nerves and then frowned as he looked at the APC, confused.
“They’re not attacking back… Is this another trap?”
“Even if it is indeed a trap, if you’re going to kill them, it’s best to do it while we’re still in the middle of the wasteland. After all, if one of their stray bullets went and damage the city, the city defence squad would attack them as well.”
“You have a point. I guess we have no time to waste then. Let’s go.”
Akira accelerated the bike even quicker. The APC was not even trying to repel him. So, he was free to go as fast as he could to catch up to the APC. Akira felt extremely suspicious since he was not facing any resistance. Nonetheless, he kept chasing after the APC.
At this rate, Akira would be able to get on top of the APC and would be free to start slaughtering them. He knew that it would be a matter of time before the defence squad arrived. There did not seem to be some kind of change within the APC. Thus, Akira could not help but get more cautious and suspicious.
That was when Alpha’s made a stern expression and warned.
“Akira! Be careful!”
Right at the same time, suddenly, the area around him was rained down with explosive warheads. Large, countless warheads were falling like rain, wiping out everything in the area. The barrage was accompanied by a warning broadcasted through the general communication line.
“This is Kugamayama city defence squad! Lower your weapon! Any form of resistance will be seen as hostile action towards City Management! Repeat! Lower your weapon! Any form of resistance will be seen as hostile action towards City Management!”
The source of the broadcast as well as the explosive warheads were the powered suits dispatched by City Management. The barrages were to serve as a warning to Akira, as well as Chloe’s group.
A large battle near Kugamayama city was enough of a reason for the City Management to dispatch its defence squad. Due to the scale of the battle just now, it had sent heavily armed powered suits to suppress the battle, instead of first scouting.
The analysis of the signal by City Management showed that there was a good chance a powerful monster was involved in that battle. Once the gigantic blip vanished, they noticed two signals moving away from that battle. The city defence squad thought that there was a good chance they were the ones responsible for bringing that powerful monster this close to the city. Thus, they went to suppress and arrest them.
However, there was an issue regarding one of the signals. To be more precise, the ones in the APC. The APC that ignored their warning to surrender was broadcasting a message saying that it was carrying an officer from the Lion Steel company. As such, they needed to be extra careful with them. If they somehow killed her by mistake, it might cause a full-blown war between Lion Steel company and Kugamayama city. Thus, they had to be careful when trying to suppress Akira and Chloe.
Even so, the APC ignored them and kept on going. They went past the powered suits, towards Kugamayama city.
The commander of the squad told some of his men to go ahead.
“Unit 7, 8, and 9, chase after that APC! Try to minimize the damage on the APC while you try to stop them!”
The 3 units that received the order, went to chase after Chloe’s APC.
“Unit 6, go check the battleground, unit 1 to unit 5, surround the guy on the bike! Don’t let him get away!”
The 5 units obeyed that order and went to surround Akira.
After facing that barrage, Akira immediately directed the bike toward the ground, landed, and parked. Although Akira understood that they were not trying to kill him, since the barrage close to him was obviously much more intense than the one close to Chloe’s group, he knew that it was impossible to force his way through all those explosives.
After he stopped, the powered suits surrounded him. Akira frowned and looked at the APC that was trailing away from him. At this distance, the APC already seemed like a blip to him.
Since his sight was zoomed in with the help of his augmented vision, he could see Chloe smiling while waving at him. Normally, they would not be able to look at each other from that distance. However, it was obvious that Chloe was looking at him and knew that he was also looking at her.
Akira went to reach his AF anti-material cannon by pure reflex. However, he reminded himself.
[Doing this while being surrounded by the city defence squad is stupid.] As he gritted his teeth and held himself back. Chloe was looking at him with her eyebrows raised. She smirked exasperatedly and shook her head before returning into the APC. The backdoor of the APC then closed.
The captain of the squad once again warned Akira.
“Lower your weapon! Any form of resistance will be seen as hostile action towards City Management!”
Akira shouted back.
The calm part of his mind reminded Akira that putting down his guns and letting them arrest him would not fix the situation at all. Meanwhile, the emotional part inside him was telling him that anyone who got in his way was an enemy. Akira tried his best to calm down while he obeyed the logical voice inside of him and refused to lower his gun.
The powered suits aimed their weapons at Akira this time.
“Lower your weapon! Any form of resistance will be seen as hostile action towards City Management!”
Akira’s voice was harsher this time and he still had his AF anti-material cannon in hand.