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Full Metal Panic! - Volume 10 - Chapter 5



Chapter 5: Shooter of Magic Bullets 
 
 
The interior of the underground institution was being influenced by the expansion of enemy soldiers and Sousuke headed to the deepest part. 
If Kaname had safely evaded the enemy she would be heading to the deepest part and would emerge from the opposite exit. It would be the same for Tessa. Heading in the same direction himself, the probability of the two of meeting was not low. 
It was difficult to proceed in the underground maze without a map. All he could depend on was his compass and intuition. And his enemies were not stupid; they would eventually discover Kaname and Tessa. No, they might already have been captured. 
He had to hurry. 
Also, because he was in danger of being discovered by the enemy himself, Sousuke made double time and proceeded on through the complex passages and stairs. The footsteps and light of the Maglight no longer mattered. He had to push it and look for the girls. 
Proceeding in such manner, having not bumped into the enemy in a place like that was really good luck. 
Then he came into what seemed to be a hall in the deepest part of the underground institution. A wide space. 
While walking a few meters, he discovered a man leaning on the wall. 
“Lemon....?” 
Without taking notice of the surroundings he rushed over to Lemon. Shaking his shoulders, he made a groan. 
“Sousuke....” 
“Lemon. Why are you in a place like this?” 
“I should also ask that. Well....a lot of things happened. Kaname-san and Testarossa-san are together. Aah...my head hurts. I want to throw up.” 
An indistinct voice. He looked like he was suffering from a hangover. 
“Together? Those two are also safe?” 
“Aah. They’re right over there-” 
In the stretch of the center of the hall was a giant dome-like installation. 
“-They’re in there. I don’t know why. I was also with them, but the inside of my head went crazy.... and I wasn’t able to go forward. How shameful.” 
“Wait. Look.” 
Kaname would soon be beside him. With only those thoughts, he stared. But when he tried to rush to the dome, Lemon was grabbing his arm restraining him. 
“Don’t, Sousuke.” 
Another déjà vu came. How many times was it that time? Sousuke, feeling irritated, shook off his arm, but Lemon was grabbing his arm firmly and wouldn’t let go. 
“Over there is.... strange. If you go near your head would become strange.” 
“What was that?” 
“I don’t understand the full details, but only those girls can. Probably, if you’re not a Whispered…” 
“If not a Whispered....?” 
Sousuke felt a chill looking at the dome the two went into. The arrangement of the block unit’s form had the feeling of supernatural drifting. 
It was a godsend that no enemies were present, but it was unknown up to when such luck should be depended upon. 
In that giant hall they might eventually be happened upon by the enemy. They couldn’t be slow. 
“Chidori! Are you there!?” Sousuke called at the dome. “Did you hear me!? This place is dangerous! Come out!” 
Even then, there was no reply. Because that was a silent place there was no way that it was not heard. Of course there was worry that the enemy might have heard his voice- 
No, there was movement. 
Sousuke grew impatient and rushed off to the dome; from the entrance the shadows of two people could be seen. It was Kaname and Tessa. They were close together, and heading his way. 
Thank goodness, they’re alright- he let out a sigh of relief. 
It had been roughly nine months since he had seen Kaname, and there seemed to be no change. She was wearing tight jeans and a turtle neck sweater. She had impressive long black hair. Although she was a little skinny, there was no mistake. It was her. 
They finally met. Finally made it that far. 
There were many things he wanted to say. All of those restrained feelings were exploding without limits. What would be his first words when they re-united? He was angry at himself for not thinking of it. He would say everything that he couldn’t say. No, more than those words, first he would run swiftly and embrace her. He strongly thought of that. 
He put his foot forward. 
He was dangerously close to the dome, up to where he could jump to it. It would be alright if it was only a little… He couldn’t wait any longer-- 
“Chidori....” he muttered, running forward. 
But at that time, Chidori pointed the gun in her hand at him, a fired without an ounce of hesitation. 
“Wha....” 
What was happening at that moment, Sousuke could not fully understand. 
He was not hit himself. The bullet fired by Kaname hit right in front of Sousuke’s foot. A sharp echo and sparks remained and disappeared. 
Even then, it was the truth that she had fired on him. 
“Chidori. It’s me, look carefully!” 
Standing to a halt, he called on her with bewilderment. That place was gloomy. Did she misunderstand something and fire? That must have been it. 
“Put down that gun. It’s already alright-” 
Interrupting his words, Kaname fired again. This time the bullet landed much closer to his foot. 
“Don’t move” Kaname said. With a gentle voice. 
“.....?” 
He finally noticed. Kaname and Tessa were not cuddled together. She was threatening Tessa with a gun, holder her arm behind her back, handling her like a prisoner or a hostage. 
“What are you doing, Chidori? What exactly-” 
“I told you not to move. If you get any closer, I’ll kill Tessa first. That’s why I want you not to come close.” 
“Sorry, Sagara-san....” a hazy Tessa muttered.  
Her lips were swelling and bleeding. Was she hit? Impossible, Kaname did? 
“I too don’t understand much....but, Kaname-san is probably....” 
“Don’t, Tessa. Don’t speak indiscreetly.” 
“Ah....!” 
Twisting her wrist, Tessa made a small shriek. 
“What’s the meaning of this? It’s me, Chidori. Don’t you know?” 
“Of course I know. It’s been a long time, Sousuke.” 
It was not another person after all. There was no mistake it was Chidori. 
“I wanted to meet you. Even now, I have the feeling that I want to run into your arms.” 
“...then, why are you behaving this way?” 
“I have something I have to do, I have important work. Important work requested by Sophia. That’s why I have to go. I love you, but if you get in my way I will have to kill you.” 
Sophia? Work? What were those? 
“Chidori, stop joking. This is not the place for it.” 
“Yeah, I know. It would be good if it was a joke- such emotions, right now you’re desperately clinging, right? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be bewildered. But show some courage, I want you to accept this. Because, I’m going to take the power to make this world good” 
With Kaname’s violent way of doing it, she pointed the muzzle at the temple of Tessa, and with moist eyes she was begging Sousuke. 
“Please, Sousuke. Believe me. Let me go. If you don’t, Tessa is going to be killed and you’re going to be killed. I don’t want that....!” 
“Don’t say something you don’t understand. Put the gun down and let her go!” 
“Why don’t you understand!?” 
Kaname suddenly hit the side of Tessa’s head with the butt of the gun. Staggering and seemingly fainting she brought her up grabbing on her braids, then she said. 
“No! I will decide what I will do! I won’t let anyone control me! Even if it’s Sousuke, only that is unforgivable!” 
“Chidori....!?” 
 
 
There’s something I have to do, it’s important work. I mean, because doing so will lead to the power to make this world better 
 
It was inconsistent. 
She had been feeling it the other day, something hot inside her chest disappearing. What captured her in its place was a chill that she had never felt before- an ominous feeling that was no imagination. That voice, that vocabulary, that manner of speaking. 
Even though it was indeed said to be Kaname, the behavior was really contradicting. It felt like it was some sort of machine imitating her. After hitting a non-resisting Tessa, why disgorge such language? 
Dragging along Tessa, Kaname walked towards the exit. There was no way to shoot her to stop her in her tracks. 
“Wait, where are you going?” 
“You like me right? Then don’t come after.” 
“Could you at least explain!? Do you know what you’re doing!?” 
“Of course! So don’t come nearer!” 
“Return to your sanity, Chidori-” 
Sousuke made a long stride heading towards her. 
It was no joke. After going that far would he see her off just like that? Would she shoot Tessa? Would she shoot him? It was a bluff. She couldn’t possibly do those things. Jumping off towards her like that, he should seize her. It may be a little violent, but it was in a situation like that. It couldn’t be helped. If he did that they could escape immediately, then talk about the circumstance slowly later- 
“Sousuke....!!” 
Gunshot. 
Kaname shot Tessa in the head. 
The 9mm bullet opened a big hole in her temples, scattering her brains on the other side of her head. Tessa’s body, in an instant, made a crumpling motion and collapsed. 
A large amount of blood was spreading on the floor. There was not even the sound of her crying out. It was an instant death. 
“Te.....” 
Tessa. Impossible. 
Aiming at a frozen Sousuke, again she aimed the muzzle. 
“I told you! You can’t come!? That much- I told you that much not to come! You killed her! Why did it turn out like this!?” 
How can this be? Do you understand? You have to make her stop....! 
No more thinking. Inside his head was completely white. At any rate, he had to capture Kaname. Sousuke rushed full force towards her. 
“It’s your fault!” 
Kaname shot. There was no hesitation. 
He felt a heavy impact on his chest. Shortness of breath. Again she shot. Two shots, three shots, one after another. The bullet proof function of the AS pilot suit barely managed to defend against the bullets. 
“Chidori....” 
Unbelievable. 
Staggering to a halt, she firmly held the pistol with her two hands, and aimed at his defenseless head. 
“Sto-” 
“Good bye, Sousuke.” 
She smiled. Discharge. 
The flame of the muzzle was the last thing he saw. The bullet hit immediately above his forehead. With part of his brain blown off Sousuke instantly died in that place. He didn’t even have the chance to shout one last expletive.  
There was a long silence in the darkness, and nothingness. Aside from that, an empty world arrived. 
No- 
There was a voice from somewhere. 
Don’t worry. But, don’t be reckless. 
I’ll definitely wait for you, so don’t worry. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
He could see a small light in the darkness. 
“U...Uaaaah!” 
One point of his narrow field of vision suddenly expanded, he let out a scream and raised his body. A terrible growling sound leaked out from his throat. He was angry, sad, and miserable, and his heart was being gripped by a fear like an eagle’s claw. All his muscles experienced a violent mental strain. 
“Sousuke!?” 
Lemon looked at him with an expression mixed with dread and weariness. 
That place was the hall. When did he collapse? Lemon was squatting by his side. Five meters away Tessa way lying down. No wounds could be seen in her head. 
She was not shot...? Did she only faint? 
In that place there was no trace of Kaname. 
“Not....dead?” 
He touched his forehead. No injury. 
He patted his chest and stomach that were supposedly shot. There were no traces of being shot. 
“What happened....? Also....where’s Kaname?” 
“She....went away. When you rushed over to her, you suddenly lost consciousness and fainted.” 
“Me...?” 
“She thrust away Testarossa-san and ran away. With this foot I couldn’t chase after her, I couldn’t do anything....probably.” 
Why the pathetic confidence in his voice? He also seemed to be in disorder. Sousuke took a breath and stood up, and rushed over to the collapsed Tessa. 
Aside from being knocked out there were no other injuries. Of course it was the same for traces of being shot. Although it was a blessing that she was safe- 
“Just now you said ‘Probably’. What do you mean?” 
“I saw you being shot to death. Testarossa-san and you.... by her. But it was a hallucination. Possibly....damn, that déjà vu. Thinking of what we have talked about so far, that may have been the ‘possible future’. Kaname-san happening to be violent, that was what we saw. Even though the déjà vu has been quickly disappearing as of late. Why is that?” 
He was right. Sometime ago, that déjà vu was gone. Just before, when he entered the hall, it should have been attacking them like raging waves breaking into the shore. 
“Chidori....” 
Sousuke unsteadily walked toward the exit of the hall where Kaname supposedly disappeared to. He had to chase her right away. 
Something’s wrong with her. If not, she wouldn’t have shot me. 
“Wait, Sousuke. It’s already been three minutes. It’s useless to chase after her.” 
“Let go....!” 
Lemon was restraining his leg with his hands, Sousuke shook it off. 
“Be calm! We have to control the scattered pieces here.” 
“S...she’s sick. She must have lost her sanity-” 
“Look out!” 
Lemon jumped at Sousuke. The two of them tangled and fell, at the same time bullets burst open from their surroundings. 
“.....!!” 
Violent bullets echoed into the hall. Enemy soldiers were firing from the exit at the south side. Their distance was roughly around 100 meters. Their numbers were unknown. 
“They finally found us.” 
Being upset, their vigilance was sluggish to the lowest level. Sousuke smacked his lips at his own foolishness and returned fire with the carbine gun. It was not difficult. From his position, it was dark and distant. A state the enemy could not define from their positions. 
“Let’s run away.” 
Firing with one hand he made covering fire, releasing an incendiary grenade. There was a flash and an explosion. Obstructing their space, it created a strong wall of flame and smoke. With that the night vision apparatuses and infrared would be useless. 
Going through with his injured leg, Lemon helped raise Tessa. Sousuke rushed to the two of them, carrying Tessa on his shoulders, and headed to the nearest exit of the hall. 
“Hurry!” 
There came shots from another direction. The hall was encircled. 
“Lemon, do you know the direction?” 
“Here.” 
Getting out from the hall Lemon guided them into a passage. Reaching a “T” junction Lemon hurried to the north. Standing to a halt, he called to a hesitating Sousuke. 
“What are you doing!? The enemy’s coming!” 
Sousuke was looking in the opposite direction from Lemon. Illuminating with the Maglight, there were footprints in the newly dust-covered floor. Kaname’s footprints. If he went immediately, alone, he might be able to chase after her with full speed. 
“Sousuke!?” 
Leaving Tessa and Lemon, and chasing after Kaname? In the direction that she disappeared, there was no mistake that there would be enemies deployed. Chasing after her from there would be reckless. From the way that Leonard spoke, at least he would not kill Kaname. Then only for Tessa and Lemon, it might be impossible for them to escape. Tessa was useful for information, but there was no mistake that Lemon would be killed. 
However, Kaname. Finally meeting her- 
“Damn!” 
Reason had a narrow victory over emotions. 
Sousuke shook off his strong lingering affection, turned his heel, and ran towards Lemon. 
Going on like that, unreasonable chasing would only result in dying in vain. At that moment he had to think about the escape of the three of them as a priority. There would be another chance to rescue Kaname, it would definitely come- he kept telling himself. 
“Would it be alright here?” 
“Probably. Above the stairs at the north, looks like we will exit on the other side of the plant.” 
From the corner of the passage he scattered bullets, aiming at the enemy whose face appeared. As much as possible he tried to restrict them from going forward, Sousuke and the others headed to the backdoor of the underground institution. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Whatever she did, Kaname intended to know what it was. 
Sousuke had been killed. Tessa had also been killed. 
Surely she shot them herself- was what she thought. 
Poor Sousuke and Tessa. Thinking about them, her chest hurt. 
That itself was a hard sadness, but there was no longer the need for those two. A very thin friendship, and a fated lover, what would come about in its continuation? After all, their world, in the not so distant future, would be restarted. 
What happened or whoever died no longer needed to be worried about. Ultimately, it would be fine as long as she herself lived. 
First she had to know the situation. 
Amalgam’s Leonard Testarossa. That man would surely accept things. He would definitely make preparations to proceed. If it was her previous self, or merely ten percent of her former self, she would have outright refused, with all her strength, any request for that man’s collaboration. 
However, right then it was different. 
She finally understood. It was a really simple method of solution. And errand was entrusted to her by Sophia. Being the only person who could save the world, she finally comprehended. Thinking only of the mission’s supremacy and magnificence filled her chest with hotness. 
Walking alone in the wide passage, a man was waiting. 
It was Leonard. In an old pipe chair left behind in the middle of the passage, he sat with both his legs together. 
“Did you wait?” 
“No, not really.” 
Leonard made a complacent smile. 
“You’re finally awake.” 
“Un. Sorry to have kept you waiting.” 
She returned the smile. Stepping forward with elegance, she stood and grabbed his nape with both her hands. 
“Did you make the preparations?” 
“Just a little more. It was proceeding for half a year.” 
“Then let’s go.” 
“Where to, my lady?” 
“I’m a little cold.” 
Leonard took of his red coat, and hung in on Kaname’s shoulders. 
“Thank you. You’re kind. You won’t be violent anymore?” 
“Since there is no longer the need. Isn’t that right?” 
“Yes. I won’t say anything selfish anymore.” 
There was no need for a quarrel. 
The two of them walked towards the passage where the subordinate soldiers were waiting. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Due to the rough carrying, Tessa regained consciousness earlier than expected. At first she looked uncertain to be on her feet, but she completely rethought and insisted on walking on her own. 
“Are you alright?” Lemon pushed his concern. 
“Yes. Your injuries are much worse than mine. Anyway, Kaname-san....” 
“She went away. She left us behind” Sousuke said, hastening towards the exit. “I don’t know the reason but she’s not in her right mind. Exactly what happened?” 
“About that...” Tessa hesitated. 
“Explain! What happened to her!?” 
She felt a strong irritation. Raising his voice on her while holding her thin shoulders, Tessa was suddenly surprised. He was looking with an expression mixed with regret and resentment. 
“....I’m sorry, Captain. That.... I’m confused.” 
“It’s alright. I’m also the same.” 
“Before coming here I met Leonard. It seems that he knows something. Even if he gives his hand, Chidori naturally went to that deepest part- and then met with the ghost.” 
“That’s right. ....he has that conviction.” 
“About what?” 
“Her doing such things. I did not expect it. Besides, even now I still can’t explain well. Inside the center of that institution, was the ‘Shadow’ of the test subject of TAROS that was involved in an accident 18 years ago. The psychic wave that travels from the future and the past created a crystal that passes the consciousness of the Omni Sphere. That crystal is the true form of the Whispering. The existing relay antenna that relays information to us. In order for me to destroy that Antenna, I came to these ruins. If it were not for the Whispering, at this rate, there would be stoppage of the influx of Black Technology from the future that should exist.” 
“Leonard called Chidori the Whispering” 
“That is so at the moment. I don’t know what kind of method, or what kind of work- I really don’t know. Even as to why her...” 
Listening to that harsh reality, Sousuke already understood the meaning in her words. Although he didn’t know the detailed theory, whatever happened, he imagined what she would be doing. 
“Was her mind possessed? By that Whispering?” 
Tessa did not affirm or negate. She only walked forward, shaking her shoulders. A voice was trying to squeeze out of her throat. 
“I’m sorry...” 
Regret and shame, and then a deep feeling of guilt. Those seemed to be tormenting her at the same time. 
“I didn’t take notice. If I had know this would happen, I would not have let her near, by any means.... all of it, is all my fault.” 
There were no words of comfort. 
Even then, what can happen? 
If you didn’t follow, she wouldn’t. 
Right then Sousuke was trying his best to suppress the impulse to blame Tessa. That was already known. Tessa no longer said anything. Coming like that, she already knew that excuses or apologies would be useless. 
Unable to bear the awkward silence, Lemon comforted her. 
“You’re mistaken, Testarossa-san. Not noticing and being useless would be me. Besides, it was inevitable that nobody could expect.” 
“Thank you. But, we can’t put it together” Tessa answered with a hollow voice. 
I’m the worst, Sousuke thought. Why did he not encourage her? Why didn’t he say “it’s not your fault” like Lemon? Even though he committed countless mistakes, he could not stop his anger. 
I know. 
It was all about her. 
Understanding that much, he couldn’t cut off his attachment. 
Proceeding in the dark passage, Sousuke muttered in a small voice that nobody heard. 
“Chidori....” 
Just a little more. 
The next time we meet, at that time what shall I do? 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Wireless communication entered into the ears of Kalinin. 
“This is Alpha Leader. Three enemies spotted at limits F3. Two males, one female. We lost visual upon combat. No dead. One injured. Currently in pursuit.” 
From the subordinates who finally reached the deepest area, it was a report about failing to catch Sousuke and the others. The “one female” was most likely Teletha Testarossa. 
“Continue pursuing. Don’t suppress them unreasonably. You can go slowly. If possible do not kill the girl. She is information.” 
“Alpha, roger.” 
The wireless communication mixed with the sound of gunfire was cut. 
Even with the use of a relay device the communications was bad. Moving a ten odd men squad under the underground maze was an operation that could break bones. Additionally, for a while, it was mixed with the difficulty of the soldiers when they got nearer to the deepest area. 
There was no other, it was because of that unknown déjà vu. 
Aside from the soldiers losing their minds there were no injuries. The hindrance of the communication and cooperation of every unit had enough problems. Once an order was issued they would continue on, and those who were not able to understand their place and situation were always at the back. Such confusion, the more they proceed to the inside of the institution the more frequently it occurred. In the end there were teams that had nearly 
killed each other; there was one act that they were on the verge of if not for Kalinin’s warning. 
That déjà vu had disappeared a while ago. 
In the deepest part of the institution, was there something that occurred? That was the conjecture in the corner of Kalinin’s thoughts. Most probably, something that he heard from Leonard happened. Chidori was safe from that helicopter crash after all, with such fate being led into the deepest area by her own effort, and then she was there with the Whispering too- 
No, don’t think too deeply… 
Whatever happened, because of that the mutual understanding, each and every team became smooth. Although it was forgivable for the preceding team to let Sousuke and the others escape, the neighboring exit of the underground was already controlled by another team. No matter what kind of skill he excelled in, there was no means for Sousuke to escape alone. 
The subordinates would shoot him to death without hesitation. And if Teletha Testarossa resisted, she would meet the same fate. 
Will you be alright dying? 
No matter how many times he repeatedly asked himself that it was like raising a gooseneck. 
It didn’t matter. If he died there, that was the end of it. There was no hesitation in his heart; that would be more convenient. 
During the raid on Merida Island, his previous characteristics to prepare the location data of emergency supplies in the event of the “worst situation” had surfaced. He had not been able to delete that from the data bank of the de Danaan. Leonard’s prediction, having knowledge of using the Solar Flare to execute the attack, he was still half in doubt. 
The result of that hesitation gave the de Danaan the necessary resupply materials, letting them live on thus far. 
However, now was different. There was not one ounce of mercy. 
Approving the objective of Leonard himself, he decided to work for him, simultaneously erasing his physical unease. 
This world shouldn’t be like this, that was what he felt. 
Andrei Kalinin strongly felt that. 
That was why, from there on, whatever happened, he would execute anyone who tried to interfere with their objectives. Even if they were his former allies. 
And then Sousuke- you are no exception. If you die here then that is your fate. But if that is not so, if you want to stop me on top of that, you will need resolution. Any humans make confrontations with ultimate resolution and sacrifices. 
“Stop!” one of the subordinates beside him shouted, with gun in hand. 
From the hanging dust and direction of the darkness, a pair of a man and a woman appeared. It was Leonard Testarossa and Chidori Kaname. 
“Don’t shoot.” 
There was no strong inhibition. When the form of the two could clearly be distinguished, the subordinate immediately put down his gun. Leonard was in an AS pilot suit, Kaname had a red coat on. They were slowly walking forward. It seemed the confluence had been successful. 
However- 
What was it, the unnatural composure of Chidori? Was it not like a walk of a monarch that controls the world? For a mere seventeen-year-old girl… 
No, it was the truth. She was the monarch. 
 
 
 
 
Fowler and himself took charge of the leftovers of their power like a servant. 
“It’s is good that you are safe.” 
“Aah. You guys too” Leonard shrugged his shoulders. 
“It seems that Sagara and the others intend to escape to the emergency path on the north side. They will be immediately encircled.” 
“Sagara?” 
Chidori Kaname raised her brow. 
“Kalinin-san, You’re mistaken. Sousuke and Tessa were killed by me.” 
“What was that?” 
“It’s true. Right before my eyes, I shot them in the head.” 
This was entirely different from the reports of his subordinates. He was perplexed as to how calmly she would relay Sousuke and the other’s deaths. 
“But, my subordinates just now-” Kalinin beginning to say, Leonard brought up his hand. 
“No matter, whatever that is.” 
“But-” 
“It’s alright. Mister Kalium.” 
Keeping silent, he abided. Kalinin did not object further. 
“....the three unknown enemies are currently being pursued. They will be suppressed soon.” 
“Is that so? Then.... do what you wish.” 
“Yes.” 
“In these irritating ruins there is no longer anything we need. Prepare to withdraw immediately” 
“Roger.” 
“See you, Kalinin-san.” 
Walking calmly from that place he escorted them from behind, Kalinin could feel an unknown omen. 
No, not only that, but also a feeling of forfeit. 
Kalinin contacted Casper who was standing by above ground. 
“Mister Tin. Situation.” 
“Still in control. Weber still hasn’t been seen.” 
“They will eventually come to rescue Sagara and the others. Next time you see them, remove them.” 
“Of course—” 
Casper laughed from the communications device. 
“—this will be fun.” 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
<Gunshots of small arms detected. 11 o’clock. Recognized in E4 (Echo 4).> 
After receiving the report of the AI, Kurz muttered in the cockpit. 
“There’s activity.” 
His M9 was concealed at a site three kilometers Northeast of Yamsk 11. For more than two hours, they had not been detected by the enemy, and were slowly creeping forward and getting closer. By using the ECS and usual camouflage, and suppressing the Data link to the lowest range they were deeply careful to the utmost limits. 
Barely getting near the site, Kurz stopped the unit, fixing both arms of the M9 on the exposed rock, measuring the noise from the radius with the Super Sensitive vibration sensors. 
There was a reaction. 
There were intermittent gunshots in the underground plant. Although footsteps were not detected, there was no mistake that there were hostilities with a difference in power. 
There was a specific firing sound- he drew from the mark E4, amplifying the playback. 
It was not clear because of the echo, but it was the sound of the Carbine gun that Sousuke had. And the firing rhythm. Although it was unknown to most people, Kurz knew it. That was Sousuke’s rhythm. 
“That bastard, he’s alive after all.” 
Snickering, Kurz turned on the voice input. 
“Details and distance of E4, estimate the vector.” 
<Roger. ...complete. Estimating, direction 261. Distance 1800. Vector 73-10.> 
The data was projected on the digital map that was magnified on the screen. 
The depth was unknown, but Sousuke was moving towards there. He was running double time, firing at the enemy. If he was alone then he would be running faster, it was natural to think that he was with an injured person or a girl. It would be good to think that he was with Tessa. 
They were coming out from the opposite side of the plant. 
But that was bad. One squad of enemy had already surround from the underground institution of Yamsk 11 to the neighboring exits in the mountain ridges. If there was no support from Kurz, it would be impossible to escape. The enemy also predicted that, it was natural— Casper was moving somewhere on his own, waiting. 
He captured the weak electromagnetic wave of his allies. 
“Ur...to..z6. ....ruz7 to.....6” 
Because of the bad electromagnetic wave, digital noise was coming in; but there was no mistake that voice belonged to Sousuke. 
“...this is Uruz 7. Can you hear me?” 
“This is Uruz 6. Situation.” 
Dispensing of frivolous talk, he responded concisely. There were no pass codes or concealment of the transmission sources. Then again, the electromagnetic wave coming from there was in the lowest range. 
“Escaping from the under.... of the plant. Curre... passageway in 32a-71a. Engaging....enemy heading to West Northwest. With Tessa (Ansuz) and Lemon..... Lemon is injured. What’s the situation above ground?” 
He must have been talking while moving. The next electromagnetic wave was stronger. 
“Expect enemy at the perimeter 33c-70a. Roughly one squadron.” 
“Can support be made?” Sousuke asked immediately.  
If he could observe, he judged that he could attack. 
“Possible, but the Lambda Driver equipped AS is hiding somewhere. A sniper. There is a need to take care of it first.” 
To start the support of Sousuke and the other’s escape, Kurz would compromise his position and fall prey to Casper. In other words, if Kurz did not take care of Casper, Sousuke and the others could not escape. 
“Not only the sniper. There is the possibility of Leonard’s unit coming out.” 
The unit that had so heavily damaged the Arbalest in Tokyo might be there. Somehow Tessa’s brother was alive. No matter how you looked at it that was a harsh situation. 
“I understand. But the first threat is that sniper. If we can at least destroy him, we can somehow send the Laevatein to you.” 
That would put Gebo 6 into danger. First, he had to stop Casper’s AS; then, he had to completely remove the enemy that was ready to ambush Sousuke. At the same time, Gebo 6, in invisible mode of the ECS, would drop the Laevatein in front of Sousuke. Just before Leonard reacted. 
It was unknown whether Leonard’s unit could be defeated or not, but as long as the Laevatein moved an escape path might open up. 
“Roger. We will hold in the exits as much as possible. Good luck.” 
“Aah. Just wait.” 
After replying, Kurz could feel his heart palpitating. 
Me? That Casper? 
Can this be done? 
But, if he did not, Sousuke and the others might end up in the other world.... 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
In that one day, it couldn’t be guessed as to how many stairs they went up and down. 
He was adding fire to the enemy that were chasing them, lending a shoulder to a suffering Lemon, and climbing up the stairs and firing. And then repeating that. 
“Kurz and the others seem to be safe. For the meantime.” 
“Eeh” 
Opening the digital map from the handheld computer terminal, Tessa nodded. 
“There are data coming from his unit right now. It’s the situation of the enemy soldiers waiting above. What can be discovered is one squadron.” 
Tessa looked at the optimum magnification in the digital map. As far as he could confirm there were eleven. At any rate it revealed the enemy soldiers captured by Kurz’s passive sensor. 
Sousuke objectively judged. 
If they went up the stairs like that, they would eventually reach the emergency exit constructed at the slope of the hill. Outside that emergency exit were numerous residences, and those soldiers were scattered to such residences. 
They were in a fan formation enveloping the emergency exit where Sousuke and the others were supposedly coming out. 
With the weight of their own injury, if possible they would capture them alive. If not, the enemy from the outside would simultaneously come in and make a pincer attack. 
In any case, it was certain that if they went out there would be concentrated firing from ten people the moment they showed their heads. 
Additionally, their opponents were Kalinin’s subordinates. Their aim was accurate, and there was no mistake that it was controlled. 
“It’s impossible to break through.” 
Tessa and Lemon were no amateurs. They were not distracted from Sousuke informing them of the situation. 
As long as there was support from the M9 standing by above, escape was possible. Kurz would drive bullets into the surrounding residences, more than half of the enemy would be powerless. And then smoke and dust would restrict their field of vision. Riding on that confusion the Pave Mare would close in at full speed, dropping the Laevatein. It would not take more than 
twenty seconds for Sousuke to get on. With the Laevatein’s current power, he could at least gain a few moments if Leonard was his opponent- possibly. 
There was only one method for an ordinary AS like the M9 to defeat a Lambda Driver equipped unit, to abruptly attack the enemy. To stop him on the first shot, then it would be over. In a manner of speaking, the Lambda Driver equipped unit was rather strong. 
“How long will the ammunition last?” Tessa asked.  
Even her voice was tired. 
“In economy mode, about five minutes.” Sousuke answered, switching the selector of the carbine gun from rapid-fire to single shots. He then took the out pistol from his holster, turned it, and handed it over to Lemon. Even though he was exhausted, his shot was better than Tessa’s. 
“It’s a pistol I’ve used for a long time. Be careful using it.” 
“I know.” 
“Captain you observe the communications.” 
“....eeh” 
Tessa didn’t even give a single sound of discontent. 
They continued through the long and narrow ascending tunnel. There were no more stairs ahead. The three of them staggered, proceeding down the passage in the darkness. Sousuke sometimes would look behind and fire, at that moment Tessa would lend her shoulder to Lemon and hurriedly proceeded forward. 
They reached a dead end. Confirming that there were no traps, they kicked open some rotten iron doors. Ahead was a small humid room. It was a room filled with air conditioning devices and a cleaning materials locker. Meeting them was a bulky door, beyond that was above-ground. 
“Let’s hold here. Lemon behind.” 
“Aah” 
The door to the outside could easily be opened. Fresh open air leaked in from the crack. Time had passed from sunset, the outside was completely dark. 
“!” 
Suddenly there was an impact. The enemy, in battle formation outside the emergency exit, shot. Blinding sparks scattered and attacks fiercely buzzed in their ears. The shooters were shooting from about fifty meters beyond the houses. 
They returned fire, preserving ammunition. The enemies were not trying to kill them. 
“They’re coming from the rear too!” Lemon sharply shouted, pushing through the passage where they had come from. 
“Stall some time! As long as possible-” 
Lemon jumped from the bullets flying from the passage, jumping into a small room. 
“Damn!” 
Lemon fired. Sousuke shot. Tessa crouched in the corner of the small room. There were fierce gunshots and roaring sounds; the tearing sound of metal enveloped the three of them. 
The succession of the enemy was high. They could see that they were stalling for time. At that rate, they would run out of patience and their ammunitions would run out. Then they would be suppressed. 
“We’re being pincer attacked! Kurz, you done yet!?” 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
The demand from Uruz 7 passed through right to left. 
Even the report from Gebo 4 and 6, and the message from his own unit’s AI, Yukari, all of it was passing through his head. 
In a battle between snipers, discovering the enemy first was the decisive factor. 
As fellows who concentrated in careful camouflage, it was a battle of the nerves that pitted wit against wit, concentration against concentration. There was no allowance to have other problems taking up the consciousness. 
In the night vision image and neighboring map in the screen, electrical information, climate condition, all of the data could be seen, conjecturing the location of the enemy. 
Where- 
What about a heat source? 
Even if Casper’s unit was equipped with ECS, minimum generator exhaust heat was still present. In the ruins, where there was absolutely no human activity, there was no mistake that there were unignorable traces left. But the images of the infra-red sensors were complexly mixed from blue to yellow, unable to clearly show the location of the enemy. 
How about sound? 
In the silent ruins, the cooling refrigerant of the Palladium Reactor’s engine could be perceived. But all the High Sensitive Directivity Microphones could catch were the gun fires of Sousuke and the others. If the enemy was equally silent like that, it was impossible to detect the sound source after all. 
Electrical means? 
That was also impossible. It was an obvious story, but the enemy was also not using Radar. Using an active type of anti ECS Radar, it was like turning on a searchlight in the middle of the darkness. And then the “fairy eyes” could not detect the gravitational field of the Lambda Driver. In order to avoid 
discovery it was stopped. In other words, if he could finish it with the first shot then it would be a victory. 
Where is he- 
With the difference in terrain and altitude he couldn’t read the enemy. Even Scientific Technology was fucked up. 
Think about Casper’s location. 
He would obviously know about the occurrence of the battle with Sousuke in the Northeast of the ruins. It was the same as him; there was a position where he could give the necessary support firing. That was why he was in the position that would give him a blind spot of Sousuke and the others. Not in the opposite position of the hills. 
If that was the case, he would take position at a high altitude as much as possible. There was no mistake. If it was not at a high position, he would not be able to detect Kurz’s own position. 
Inside the building of the ruins? East side of the plant, in the crevice of the pipes or silos? 
There were 10-odd places that he could think of. The elements to be considered were not enough. 
The enemy would not observe himself, but also the approach of the transport helicopter. And the possibility of other hidden M9s. That was why he was thinking of taking position in the depths of the plant. That eliminated half of the choices. But it was still not enough. 
What about the weight and foothold of the unit? What about the movement route after the attack? 
Shooting from a large caliber sniping cannon, the surrounding dust would be swirled up, and it will be difficult to align a second shot. He thought he might be inside a building, but there was the problem of the building construction being brittle and falling apart. 
Listing up the other details of the elements thoroughly in his head, Kurz made an estimate. 
“Three spots, huh?” 
The rooftop of the administration building in the ruins. The giant Lenin Statue in the center. And then the steel pylon rising in the north side of the plant. There were no other options than those. 
Next would be his character. 
He didn’t like to be showy. Concerning that kind of action, Casper had a steady shooting hand, even from the old days. Hiding in the most obvious places, shooting from the easiest positions. Even if he used the equipped Lambda Driver, he didn’t rely on pressure or luck. 
If that were so, he would be on the rooftop of that administration building right? 
The foothold was firm, not inconvenient in shielding from the surrounding, and it was a position that could guarantee a wide field of vision. He could immediately react from attacks in a different direction, and it had the easiest supporting position for allied transport helicopters taking off. 
However… was he a man that would take a position in a predictable place like that? 
“Maximum sight.” 
<Roger.> 
He magnified the projection of said building. Infra-red rays, Light amplification, Passive electromagnetic wave, he observed with all of the modes, but he still didn’t have confidence. It could be seen if he was there, and it could be seen if he was not there. He observed the other two places with the passive sensor, but it was pretty much the same. If he observed just a little more, he would know- 
Which one among the three? Assuming such, it was a battle of intuition from the start. 
Casper’s a rational sniper- there’s no mistake about it. And has a complete knowledge about me. Following the process of thinking thus far, it’s naturally predictable. 
Then, is he in another place? No, would he even read that? 
“Uruz 6, done yet!? It will be bad for Sousuke and the others.”  
It was the urgent sound of Gebo 6. They were standing by, hidden in the mountain ridge. If Kurz ignored the request then it would be a failure. In some way or another the feeling of impatience once again became big in his heart. 
“Just wait. Just a little more.” 
What the enemy had that he did not was an element that would decide victory or defeat. 
That was time. 
“They’re slowly searching for us. There is no need to feel the danger of your allies.” But for Kurz it was different. No matter how skilful Sousuke was there was a limit to ammunition. It was only a matter of minutes until they could no longer resist. Until that time- no, he had to defeat the enemy now. 
He had to hurry. 
Building in the center, or steel pylon of the plant? 
Kurz now pressed those two places as choices. Casper was in one of those two. 
In the infrared image of the rooftop of the building, there was an area with a mere temperature that was pea-green high. Even in the summit of the pylon there seemed to be a different pattern. Both concurred to the size of an AS. 
Which one? Where is he? 
“Uruz 6, hurry!” Gebo 6 demanded.  
It was inviting impatience. 
The one that had the higher temperature was on the building. In addition, only there did the wind blow unnaturally. Didn’t the invisibility of the AS avoid the dance of the dust in the wind? Even the distribution of heat could be seen like a humanoid ready to shoot. No, that must have been it. There was no mistake- 
He made a decision. Alignment occurred in an instant. 
Infrared mode. 24 times. Manual Control. Range, 3390 meters. Wind speed is 5 knots from the Southeast. Calculation error within 30 percent. 
He aimed two meters to the right of the center of the distributed temperature. That was most probably the cockpit. 
Casper. I got you, he muttered inside his heart.  
He pulled the trigger. 
There was a miniature and heavy impact. The 76mm Cannon spout out fire from Kurz’s unit, making concentric circles in the surrounding shrubbery. Before his eyes the firearm pipe blew off and dart-like armor piercing bullets cut though the darkness, plunging forward. 
Hit. 
No- 
He could only see concrete smash to pieces. Large amounts of rubble and clouds of dust danced around in the explosion. But there was no AS. The shell only blew off the building. 
Then that meant- 
“......!” 
Immediately there was an aim from the pylon, it was too late. 
What he saw, hanging from the summit of the pylon, was a red unit that had already fired. Awfully slow, heading his way, was the enemy shell. 
It had shot. 
Casper had immediately discovered his location from Kurz’s shot and fired, accurately hitting his unit. 
His M9 was in a lying down position. That was why the enemy bullet first entered the M9’s head, for humans that would be the forehead. It penetrated the radar, tearing up the engine system and drive transmission system in the back of the head, penetrating from the armor on the upper torso to the cockpit block in the chest. The explosive motion energy and shockwave destroyed the interior electrical machinery and the shock absorption system and spread to the pilot inside. It then advanced to the back of the unit, flying out from the hips, scattering in the air. 
Kurz did not even have the time to move his brow and smack his lips. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Cancelling the ECS, and deploying the gravitational field of the Lambda Driver, he was cautious of an attack from another enemy. Confirming that there were no other enemy ASes, Casper reported to Kalinin. 
“Mister Kalium. Weber has been brought down.” 
“Is that for certain?” 
“He was destroyed. That kind of damage would result in instant death.” 
“....is that so? Then suppress the resisting enemy on the Northeastern side.” 
“Capture the girl alive, right?” 
“As much as possible. I don’t care if the others are killed.” 
“Roger.” 
After the exchange of communication, Casper’s Eligor kicked the Pylon and jumped to the Northeast. 
Even after hearing that his former subordinate was killed there was no sentimentality in Kalinin’s voice. Even Casper himself, after saying it, felt no guilt. Rather, he was stimulated with an exaltation without any recklessness. 
Weber. How regrettable. 
Certainly that central building would be the No 1 choice. If I didn’t know that the opponent would be you, I would have also positioned there. But I avoided it. It’s because I thought that you would stick your eyes on it. The rooftop of that building, I asked a subordinate to light a small gas burner. In that minimum heat, you’re doubt would have been enough. 
As was expected, you fell for it. 
You didn’t have time, right? You were impatient, right? 
But it was your miss. Firing a second shot, that must be what you expected in the corner of your heart, right? The most necessary in that instant, did you not have enough concentration? That’s right, you decided too early. You should have scrutinized it at least one more minute. Then even I might have turned my head. 
How unfortunate, my student. But it was fun. 
They say that you have natural talents. 
Five years ago, one of the employers brought you along and said you were an “interesting kid”. Surely, was it a former Japanese Red Army terrorist? You said you killed him in revenge for your murdered family. Thrown into real battle as a trial, you only saw a portion of it. Observation skill and powers of concentration, and then the power of imagination to project the image of ballistics, you were a rare genius. 
That’s why you were allowed to enter. 
I see, you were a genius. You carefully absorbed the art and wits that were handed down from 200 years of us snipers. In one year— in just one year, you became a shooter that was not comparable in your unit. 
However, you were not called “Ghost”. 
Operations draft, map comprehension, communication, camouflage, surveillance.... learning the various know-how, rifle and bullets, and then learning the mysteries of ballistics. 
But my student. You were not called the “Ghost”. 
An instant where all of it unified. The whole creation, confirming the grasping of all things material, the context of time flowing, a moment where you can move the air molecules one by one, before you knew it, it ends. You can say that you have seen God. That happens when it happens. 
But ultimately, this has nothing to do with tactics. You would not know that. Because you are like that, the Ghost did not come. 
I lent you a hand in your revenge. Instructing you in all of the arts. But, you can only go so far as to walk behind your teacher. Kurz Weber. You are such a blockhead. 
My student. How unfortunate. 
Casper’s Eligor jumped two, three times, hurrying to the battlefield at the Northeastern part of the ruins. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
On the South side Sousuke could hear the consecutive sounds of explosion from somewhere far away. There were two shots of large caliber Sniping cannons used by an AS. 
And then- the sound of a unit exploding. 
It couldn’t be seen from Sousuke’s position; if he peeked outside shots were immediately fired. That was why he could only guess, it seemed that the sniping battle ended in an instant, and it looked like one AS was destroyed. 
“Uruz 6. Situation.” 
No response. 
“Kurz, respond-” 
“The link of the ADM (Advance Data Modem) has been interrupted” Tessa muttered operating the computer terminal. “All the data transfers have been stopped. There is no rescue signal. This indicates the function of the M9 suspended....” 
“Was he killed?” Lemon shouted, returning fire in the back. 
“I don’t know. But, most probably.... he was destroyed....” 
“He can’t be killed that easily” Sousuke said, shooting at the outside of the small room. “This happens many times. Don’t worry” 
There was almost no ammunition left. Twenty shots more. After that, it was impossible to suppress the enemy attack. 
“Eeh. But, this situation-” 
“Don’t give up Tessa.” 
“...........” 
“There is still something that can be done. He will definitely come get us. Don’t whine.” 
“.....yes.” 
But to crush the patience of Sousuke, the red enemy AS attacked. Right in front of their fort, it landed in the open passage right in front of them. A Lambda Driver equipped unit. An enhanced improved model of a Codarl, an AS that was called Eligor. 
It can’t be.... 
Equipped with a 76mm large caliber cannon, it was a sniping type. The sniper that Kurz warned about had majestically showed its presence like that- 
“Kurz-” 
“Weber-san. It can’t be....” 
“Duck!” 
The red Eligor brandished its arm, sweeping the small room where Sousuke and the others were hiding. With the worn out concrete wall, the rusted roof shattered to pieces. The form of Sousuke and the others, who barely got away from ducking, was completely visible from the outside. 
“Uh....” 
Being covered in the fragments of the concrete, Lemon made a weak moaning sound. 
“Rescue will not come.” 
A man’s voice was coming from the exterior speakers of the AS. 
“Kurz Weber is dead. Give up.” 
There was no reason to doubt the man’s words. Above all, that sniper had shown himself. That meant that their battle was over. 
“Impossible....” 
“We’ll save the girl. Hand her over. If you do not follow, it would be unavoidable. You will all get killed.” 
Tessa’s eye came together. She had already forcibly suppressed her mental shock. Together with a strong will she made a faint shake of her head with her lips in the shape of “No”. 
She would not give up information about her allies; Tessa had already made such things clear to her followers. She herself also wished that. However, if she lived, she would someday be rescued by her allies and had a chance to opposed Amalgam, right? 
And then, in some ridiculous way she might somehow end up with Kaname? 
With mostly blind hope moving his heart, Sousuke hesitated. 
At that time, there was a whisper on the FM band in the wireless portable radio in his ear. 
“Sousuke.... can you hear me....” 
It was an intermittent weak voice. 
It was Kurz. He was alive. 
“Aah, I can hear you.” 
“What a blunder. The unit is in ruins. Me too.... probably, won’t have long to live.” 
His eyes were darkening. That was what he was trying to say about his own body. That must have been it. The M9 was destroyed, and he was fatally injured. 
“But.... I can at least make one shot. ....listen, Sousuke. The pilot of that red AS, somehow....get him outside.” 
“Outside? How do I-” 
“Do whatever it takes, just do it.” 
“...........” 
The red AS was looking down. The infantry behind it did not release their caution, but stopped shooting. His carbine gun only had fifteen shots left. And he only had one smoke grenade. What kind of bluff could he make? That sniper whose face or name he didn’t know, how could he make him get outside? That sniper was- 
Sniper. That was it- 
“...I’ll try.” 
Whispering in the wireless radio, Sousuke threw his carbine gun on the ground. Then he took out the knife from his 
hips, quickly pulled Tessa by the chest, and pushed her in front as a shield. 
“Sousuke!?” 
To a surprised Lemon, Sousuke informed him sharply “don’t move”. Behind the remaining building materials, putting Tessa in front of the enemy as a shield, he skillfully hid his body. 
Tessa did not make any visible resistance. She had an appearance of looking attentively at the development. 
“Hmmm. What are you planning?” the pilot of the red AS asked. 
“I want to negotiate.” 
“Negotiate?” 
“If you want the girl then I’ll give her. But you have to guarantee my safety. If you can’t do that, then I will kill her first.” 
“I told you. I was told to capture that girl ‘if possible’. If you resist, killing you together would be unavoidable. That’s your worth.” 
“Even then, you can still have her alive. Let me go. If you do so I will hand her over unharmed.” 
“Are you an idiot?” 
The red AS shook its shoulders, responding to the sarcastic laugh of the pilot. 
“Sagara Sousuke, right? I’ve heard of you. Just to save yourself, you will not kill that girl. Stop with the stupid bluff.” 
“Whether it’s a bluff or not is not the problem” Sousuke informed them, closely sticking to the body of Tessa. “I still can’t die. I still have to finish what I have to do. Open a path now.” 
“And then let you go like that?” 
“If you can’t, then just blow us up. Then that’s it.” 
How about it....? 
Of course you have no intention of letting us go. Just as what was said, you think that it’s alright to just blow us up. With that AS it would just be an instant. There’s nothing simpler than that. 
That’s right. It’s indeed simple. 
That’s why you’d hate that choice. Especially this overwhelmingly advantageous situation. 
You don’t need to give in to the challenge of “through a human shield, in an attempt to only hit me, you can’t possibly do that”. That is an excessive challenge. Something to stimulate you, this kind of movement would be enough. 
Well, What now? With your unit and equipment, you can’t kill only me. 
“Hmmm....” 
Here it comes. 
“Oh well. I have heard stubbornness before...” 
Here it comes. 
A long few seconds passed, the chest block of the red AS made a sharp slide. It was the sound of the cockpit hatch opening. The standing unit was in rigor, the hatch in the back of the head opened. 
It was there. 
The pilot could be seen inside the hatch carrying a rifle. He was a sunburned Aryan man. With just one look it could be discerned that he was a soldier with a face of long military service. He had big eyes, a wide forehead, and a hooked nose. 
“Sagara, was it? Doing such mischief, don’t you think this is too much?” the man said from the shoulder of the AS. 
“Say what you want. I will absolutely live.” 
Tessa also had guessed his intention. With the man showing himself, she could feel another kind of nervousness run past her body. All that was left was to wait- 
That’s right. That was all that he could do. 
He no longer had a gun. Only one knife and a smoke grenade. There was no meaning in throwing the knife towards that man on the shoulder of the AS. Before that it would become a bee’s nest, that man would become prey to precision marksmanship. Which one would it be? 
There was a dull light on the rifle on the man’s hand. That was the intention of shooting. Not injuring Tessa as a shield. There was no mistake he would shoot at Sousuke’s forehead. 
The man made a stance. With ruthless eyes. There were no means of escape. 
Kurz. 
I did what you said. 
But the place where you are at should be very far from here… 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
1650 meters. 
The distance from the target calculated by Kurz Weber from the scope gradations was roughly 1650 meters. Even without the convenience of Laser range finder, or calculations from observation tools, that number should be right. 
His body was worn out. 
His right foot would not do as he said; his left foot from the knee down was twisted in a strange direction. On the contrary, he did not know how the lower half of his body was still connected. Metal fragments had torn up his back, his ribs were broken and his 
internal organs were in disorder. Blood was still flowing from his head; his right ear could not hear anything. 
There’s nothing that can be done. I will die here. 
He already knew that. 
However, he was not dead yet. Was there something he had to do? There was only one thing he could do. 
That was already decided. The rifle. 
Using his two hands that could still move he crawled out of the destroyed M9. Every time he moved his body intense pain attacked him. How far could he go? 
Crawling with the weapons rack on the ground, he took out the rifle inside with difficulty. An old Bolt Action Rifle. That thing was also still alive. 
Removing the buffer materials, he took out the rifle. And then measured the distance from the scope. 
1650 meters. 
He couldn’t. It was unreachable. If he advanced 400 meters more he could somehow do it. 
Inside the scope, Casper appeared from the cockpit of the red AS. Sousuke had done well. But the distance was too far.... 
He couldn’t do it. That was the end. 
Sousuke. Sorry. You do something about this later. I can’t do it. 
Tessa. Give up on that moody man, and find a good man. 
Mao, the really lonely Melissa. I wanted to be more affectionate. Will a girl like you cry? What about it? Will I want you to cry, would I want you not to cry? Not embracing you is better after all. 
And then Casper. 
Surely I’m a repeat student. And a half assed person. Practically, in the end I can’t beat you. I wasn’t called a “Ghost”, and was not able to become a true sniper. 
But Casper. 
The one shot of that revenge- in the battlefield in South Lebanon, capturing in the scope for my family’s revenge- I was not able to shoot. Behind that man, standing on the stairs, there was Lana, who had no relation whatsoever. A girl merely 8 years old. It was clear that if I pierced that man, Lana would get hurt. 
You said shoot. It was the first and last chance. But it was impossible for me. 
And then you shot. 
Aah, that’s right. Because of that my prey was dead. The revenge was over. However, it was in exchange for Lana’s life. You’re “Accurate Ballistics” not only blew off the man’s head, it took along her spinal cord and other internal organs. 
Even now she is still in the hospital. If it were an ordinary hospital, she would have already died. 
You shot knowing everything. 
That was why I left. If that is the “true sniper”, then I wouldn’t want to become a monster like that. That’s right, you are a monster. Freak. 
Then- 
Kurz thought. 
Would he leave his comrades like that to him? To that monster? Would he give up and abandon them? 
Why don’t we try.... 
There was only one shot. As for the time he would remain conscious, only a little remained. Ten more seconds, or thirty more seconds. The disappearing fire of his candle. Right then, even if he 
peeked at the scope, he had a feeling of being swooped down by the deep darkness drawing nearer. 
He setup the rifle in the most stable firing position. At most, he couldn’t do it in such a posture. He couldn’t move his feet. 
1650 meters. 
A distance that 308 caliber rifle could not reach. In the sniping records, he had never heard of it. 
That was even 130 meters beyond the sniping record of Casper. 
He glued the stock to his shoulders. Handling the grip, he sunk the lower part of the stock to the ground, stabilizing it. Left hand clinging to the right shoulder, he painstakingly put his upper body into position. He fixed his right cheekbone into the frame, positioning his right eye in a straight line to the scope. 
He read the wind. Before it was 15 knots from the Northwest. From the interior was 10 knots North-Northwest. There was also turbulence. He was calculating everything necessary to send in the bullet. 
Of course even the temperature and humidity. Air resistance, Combustion speed of the gunpowder, dilation of the gun and bullet, the many connected elements that would greatly influence the ballistics. 
How many degrees for the bullet’s barrel roll/forward roll? There was also the phenomenon called Tumbling, multiplying it greatly with the distance. Even with the faint barrel roll, there was no mistake that that distance would have great influence. 
Then there was a large element. He had to think about the Coriolis that occurred in the earth’s rotation. Especially that place was close to 60 degrees north latitude. The effects of the high latitude Coriolis was great. In that situation then there would be 30 centimeters to the east. 
And there were many others, and the existence of the detailed problems. Taking all of it into consideration he decided on the final alignment. That was a complex calculation that current computers are unable to perform. Only a human could accomplish that risky attempt. 
Kurz entered all the elements into his head, then he clearly forgot it once. What remained was the image of the ballistic. 
Being guided only by intuition it was the image of super calculation, super mathematics. 
The necessary point- to connect the target who was a number of meters away from the crosshair. 
But, that was not enough. 
Because of his irregular breathing, the crosshair in the scope rubbed sideways. The mere miscalculation would be fatal. The required concentration was not to put a thread into the hole of a needle. But how the eye perceived a needle drawing the image of a dragon. 
There was no reason that aim was possible. 
Ordinarily that was how one thought, but floating in the mind of Kurz was another story. 
Aah, I can do it.... 
No surprise nor delight, he was just silently feeling that. 
Even reading what cannot be seen. Moving the muscles that had lost their strength. The burning of one’s own blood that had already disappeared. He could see the colors of the wind. The image of the ballistic was vivid. He grasped the energy of the surrounding molecules one by one, he could now understand. 
He was no longer thinking of the safety of Sousuke and the others. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
He was not thinking of Mao. Not even Lana who was in the hospital, nor his dead family, nor the teacher who was his first love during his high school days, of course he forgot everything. On the contrary, he did not even know what kind of person the target was. 
Who was that? 
No, it didn’t really matter. Only to send a bullet there. 
That moment would soon come. The supreme instant that would drive the target, the whole life of one’s self. 
Aah, I don’t like this. 
Aiming at a farther distance- 
What was falling on top of him? The other side of the materials, something unseen. He distorted the surrounding air; the context of time became ambiguous. 
Before he knew it, he pulled the trigger. 
He shot. 
Everything was in accordance to the image. The firing needle falling as followed, the gunpowder burned as assumed, the bullet swelled as expected, revolving in the gun barrel advancing. 
The magic bullet flew. 
It cut through the air, completely reading the wind, drawing a parabola, like it was being sucked in the fixed position and converging on it. 
1650 meters. 
He already knew that it hit. 
Kurz Weber, with his last thought, “serves you right”, was holding the rifle tight and fell into the nothingness of darkness. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
 
 
It struck- 
The moment that Sousuke thought it, blood was dripping from the enemy’s chest. 
From the back to the chest. The bullet had come from nowhere and had actually shot the man’s heart. 
“Imp....” 
He opened his two eyes in surprise. He did not see Sousuke. Turning his shoulder barely with the remaining strength of his muscles, from a long distance, he looked at the distance to where Kurz was crushed. 
“......” 
It shouldn’t have reached. The man was flapping his mouth, trying to mutter it. 
But it reached. Kurz’s shot- 
The man lost his strength in both legs, falling from the shoulder of the AS. 
Kurz- 
At the same time, Sousuke moved. With the last remaining weapons he threw the only remaining smoke grenade, holding down the nape of Tessa’s neck, he shouted. 
“Gebo 6, the sniper has been dealt with! Send Al!!” 
“Roger...!” Gebo 6’s Captain, Fisher, responded from the wireless radio.  
He had already understood the situation. From the side of the mountain ridge he had used ECS and silent mode and was standing by. He was already getting closer to the detecting distance. 
If the sniper had become powerless, it was not impossible to drop the Laevatein in a forceful penetration, immediately taking refuge behind it. But within the ten seconds, there was the premise that Leonard’s AS would appear- 
“Tessa, the Beacon-” 
“Yes...!” 
In the swirling smoke, there was a need for the allies to pinpoint their location. Tessa crawled and operated the computer terminal, sending a wireless signal of their location. 
Recovering from the shot of the AS’s pilot, the enemy infantry fired. Bullets were jumping from above their heads. With the firing from the original underground path, Lemon shouted. 
“They’re coming from the rear! I’m also out of ammo!” 
“Do something!” 
Without further responding Sousuke crawled forward in the rubble, taking up the carbine gun which he had dropped earlier. It had no more than fifteen shots. The shadows of the enemy charged in the smoke. He shot. One shot did not hit. Another shot made a kill. Then there was an intimidating shot to the succeeding enemy. 
“Gebo 6, is it there yet!?” Tessa called.  
Then, faster than Gebo 6, a synthesized voice of a man responded on the wireless radio. 
<Just a little more, Captain. ETA, Five Seconds.> 
“What’s this? The cargo hatch on its own—” 
<Descending.> 
With the sound of the rotor and the roar of the engine, the sound of the AS detaching from the hydraulic bolt echoed at the same time. From Gebo 6 rushing in the air, the Laevatein descended with the best timing. It fired the head machine gun in Full Auto and immediately landed before Sousuke. 
<Sergeant, please hurry.> 
“Al!” 
Leaving the carbine gun, Sousuke jumped from the thunderous roar and burst of smoke. The Laevatein opened the cockpit hatch and held out his right hand. It may not have been more than a second. The Laevatein seated him with the hand, with 
a manner of throwing him in the rear of his head block with his right arm. 
In some way it had protected the position, sliding him into the cockpit. Without orders the hatch closed. Al proceeded with the start up process on his own. Super Express. Omitting all the check data. The usual setup, the usual master mode, the usual enemy search mode. Like the unit itself was hurrying. 
<Alignment wave detected! Two, one....!> 
“.......!” 
He jumped. 
He had barely avoided the 40mm shell attack from the Southwest. A 40mm shell backed up with Lambda Driver. Leonard’s attack. He must have been attacking from somewhere in the ruins. If Al hadn’t forcibly proceeded with the startup process, they might have been destroyed. 
<Enemy AS, 2 O’clock, distance 8. It’s that bastard.> 
“Aah, it’s Leonard.” 
Twisting his body in the air, he looked at the enemy infantry on the ground with his head machine gun. He had to protect Tessa and Lemon. He poured the 50 caliber shells overhead the enemy squad, with smoke rolling up from the impact. 
“Pick up the two.” 
<Roger.> 
He leaned over to the front of the small room where Tessa was hiding. From the side of the Laevatein the support arms extended, picking up an exhausted Lemon and a confused Tessa. It was too late to call Gebo 6 that had escaped towards the mountain ridge. There was little time to have Tessa get onboard. 
Another attack drew near. There were several 40mm bullets. As expected, he had no intention of giving mercy. Leonard was serious. 
Carrying the two he evaded the first bullet, taking shelter in the Lambda Driver protective wall from the following bullets. He was just barely able to turn away. 
He couldn’t have defended if it was nearer. Additionally he didn’t have an anti ECS sensor. Leonard’s AS was already translucent, and there were no means to detect him- 
“Can we use the ‘fairy’s feather’!?” 
<Another risky performance.> 
“Just do it!” 
<Roger....!> 
The two extension units equipped in the Laevatein, also named “fairy’s feather”, were deployed with a short slide. The unit’s generator was roaring, giving maximum output. Large electric charges flowed to both shoulders, distorting the exhausted heat in the surrounding. 
<Full Power Line maintained. LDC, Charge rising. LBS, contact. First round, startup success. Second round, startup success. Interference radius enlarging. 50, 100, 200....> 
On the contrary of its so-called name, the “fairy’s feather” was not a device for flight. 
On the basis of the information left on the hard disk Kaname had left in the Mansion in Nickelo, the extension unit that Miller and the others produced was originally called “Lambda Driver Canceller”. All the functioning Lambda Drivers in the surrounding area of the Laevatein would be rendered inoperative, temporarily. 
It was a detailed theory Sousuke absolutely could not understand. The “fairy’s feather” used a larger amount of electrical energy than the Lambda Driver, it was also explained that the Laevatein itself would not be able to use the Lambda Driver. 
And then there was another thing. 
To finally utilize the effects of the “fairy’s feather” was related to the consciousness of Sousuke. It was the same as an image of a shield defending bullets or as the image of an arrow piercing that gravitational field; he needed to have an image in his head of a “super phenomenon not occurring”. 
Such an image could not be imagined at first, but finally Sousuke understood. He only needed to imagine how he used to think. 
In other words, “Cheating, such things do not exist”. 
Disappear- 
In that instant, the “fairy’s feather” reacted to Sousuke’s thoughts. A hundred meters surrounding the area were already invoked by the canceller’s interruption area. In just an instant all the space dimly distorted. 
That was the only abnormality. 
Nothing occurred after that. Rather, it spoke as the proof of its success. Because the power of the unit was to “not make anything happen”- 
“Was it effective....?” 
In the front of the Laevatein, roughly in the ruins about 300 meters ahead, swirled a giant cloud of dust. The translucent flying black AS of Leonard came crashing and fell into the building. 
It was effective. The enemy had lost the power of his Lambda Driver- 
“!” 
An alarm sounded. Something from the sky was falling to the ground. Leonard’s unit recovered its position and landed successfully. It stopped its ECS and immediately fired from the ground. He had read that he also could not use the Lambda Driver. 
Sousuke made evasive maneuvers, but because Tessa and Lemon were being gripped with the support arms he couldn’t move 
recklessly. He didn’t have enough power. Because the electrical charge of the unit was being taken by the “fairy’s feather”, he only had minimum mobility. 
“Damn....!” 
Sousuke took out the Boxer shot cannon from the Hard Point in his back and returned fire. 
He couldn’t use the Demolition Gun. It was not an article that could fire the Large Caliber cannon without the assistance of the Lambda Driver. 
Additionally, even without the Lambda Driver, Leonard’s AS was quick-witted. Moving from shelter to shelter he was adding fire bit by bit. Being cautious from his fire, he would not try to get close and was pressing him with shots. 
What now- 
<Warning. Abnormal temperature rising in LDC-1. Interruption area decreasing.> 
The left shoulder “fairy’s feather” could not stand the burden and was overheating. In the heat of the large electrical power, the cooling mechanism could not catch up. 
It would break down soon. It was only a matter of time before the second unit on the right shoulder met the same fate. 
If the Lambda Driver Canceller stopped, it would be over. There were currently no means to compete with and overcome Leonard’s unit. There was nothing that could be done except to withdraw. Everyone would be killed. Everyone. 
<Sergeant. I think you already understand....> 
“Aah” Sousuke responded while a returning fire. 
If they were to escape, it had to be then. 
He should give Leonard’s unit diversionary fire and escape with full power, then find Gebo 6 that was currently waiting in the mountain ridge, and escape with full speed- 
<There is no means to recover Uruz 6. If we conjecture the situation from the data of the last ADM----> 
“Stop it.” 
<----He is already dead.> 
“Stop it!!” 
Nobody would understand. Even now, he may still be alive with a faint breath. If treated immediately, something may be done. He may be saved. Even if I were there sustaining heavy injury I may still live. Who’s to say that stubborn idiot, that Kurz, died in a place like this? 
Leaving him behind and escaping like that… 
How could such a thing possibly be done? 
What would he say to Mao when they get back? 
<LDC-1, function stopped. LDC-2’s temperature is also rising.> 
The fuse of the left shoulder finally burned out, losing its function. 
There was no time. With the connected position of the digital map on the screen it was ruthless no matter what. All the elements were trying to tell him that nothing could be done. 
What Al said was true. 
It was the truth. 
<Decide. Sergeant.> 
Al no longer pressed after that. 
He was patiently waiting for Sousuke’s reply. 
“....withdraw.” 
<Roger.> 
He made diversionary shots with the Shot cannon on full auto. Scattering all the grenades that he had, he blew them in mid air with his head machine gun. Taking the opportunity from the 
enemy, the Laevatein used all its remaining surplus power to leap, crossing the mountain ridge. 
Gebo 6, who was waiting at a low altitude, started to accelerate and rise. 
Ignoring the usual recovery sequence, Sousuke made the Laevatein grab the bottom emergency hook of the Pave Mare. The Captain of Gebo 6 said nothing and accelerated with maximum power. 
Hanging on to the helicopter with one arm, the Laevatein withdrew to the East, away from Yamsk 11. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
“They escaped huh....” 
After being confident that the interruption to the Lambda Driver had completely disappeared, the withdrawal of Sagara Sousuke with the helicopter far away had ended. 
Deciding that it was useless to pursue, Leonard turned his unit. 
Although it was possible for him to fly and follow the high speed of the helicopter, he didn’t want to risk being affected by that canceller again. His Belial was not a convenient unit that could stand a fall from 1000 meters without a Lambda Driver. 
But, a canceller? 
Surely the theory behind it was possible, but Tessa being able to complete it was an utter surprise. Even that white and red AS… He had a feeling that he would be at a loss even compared to that Arbalest that he fought before. Speaking from a long distance attack, an attack backed up by a Lambda Driver, that unit barely managed to turn away. 
Of course, his predominance had not changed. 
He only noticed on route, but that unit might not have been equipped with an anti-ECS sensor. Even with a third generation opponent that used ECS with minimal effectiveness translucency could be cancelled- 
Well, whatever. 
He would be more prudent in the next battle, perfecting the preparations, and certainly crush him. 
“Nevertheless-” 
Casper. Making a mistake… 
Leonard muttered inside, rubbing his nose and looking at the corpse of Wilhelm Casper collapsed beside the small cabin. Even the red Eligor that he piloted had been destroyed. In the confusion of the battle with Sagara Sousuke the pilotless Eligor had been torn from the bullets. 
Losing Casper had dealt a severe hand to him. Fowler and Sabina had suitable skills as pilots, but there was no one who could exceed the shooting of Casper. Doing what he had done up until then, he must have been a capable person who longed for fierce battle. 
There was a communication from Kalinin coming out from the ground. 
“Airborne troops of the Soviets coming from the Southwest. Most probably around two squads. Shall we engage?” 
The Soviets drew near. He didn’t know how the Soviets had sensed the battle in the ruins, but that was unnatural. At any rate, it was their territory. 
“No. There is nothing we need here. Hurry and withdraw.” 
“Roger.” 
“Aah. Also Casper is dead. However it seems the sniper from Mithril’s side was killed. It was your former subordinate, right?” 
In quite a small moment, Kalinin fell silent. 
“If that is so, it was a serious blow to them. Weber’s talent, it is a bigger threat than Sagara Sousuke’s AS.” 
“Does your heart hurt?” 
“If it’s a grieving heart, I have already thrown all of it away.” 
Leonard and his subordinates quickly recovered the surviving squads into the helicopter and left the abandoned city. 
 


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