Chapter 4: Part 5
The atmosphere around us almost made me think that we were doing a test of courage (1). We had arrived at the place where the reform faction vampire ninjas were staying. The night sky was eerie, and somewhat thanks to the cold wind blowing and the close-to-crumbling outer wall of the building we were in front of, there was quite an ominous mood in the air.
We made nary a sound, and even made sure that our footsteps were inaudible.
We headed for the entrance, where we saw a girl wearing a black mantle, collapsed onto the ground.
“Ayumu.” Sera whispered my name.
“Yeah, I see it.” I gave back a short response.
Something had happened here.
I regretted not bringing my chainsaw with me. But if I walked through town with that thing, I would probably get immediately arrested, so I didn’t want to.
“Are you alright?”
I tried calling to the collapsed girl, but I got no response. Although, she didn’t seem dead either.
Certainly, if you touched someone around the neck, you should be able to tell if they were alive or not, right?
Relying on the knowledge I had gained from watching dramas, I softly touched her neck.
If she were conscious, then she would probably resist once she sensed that someone she didn’t know was about to touch her neck, so I gathered that she was unconscious. I felt her pulse, and concluded that she was still alive. I smacked her on the cheek.
“Hey you. Are you alright?”
It would probably be better if I spoke a bit louder here, but our surroundings were so quiet that it was hard for me to get myself to do that.
The girl still didn’t respond, and I felt lost as to what to do, but in the end I decided to just leave her be.
If I called the police and an ambulance, the vampire ninja would probably not be too grateful for it. After all, I would think the same way.
“Let’s go in.”
I followed Sera into the building. We slowly and silently proceeded inwards, but right then I let out a small groan.
There were a number of vampire ninjas collapsed in front of us.
It wasn’t like they were all dead. They just all seemed to be unconscious.
“This is… this is the workings of the hypnosis gas that we vampire ninjas sometimes use. Ayumu, please try not to breathe in the air too much.”
I see. It would definitely be hard to fight all these vampire ninjas, especially if some of them were stronger than Sera. So it would be a better method to just use hypnosis gas. But I wonder why a vampire ninja would want to put all these other vampire ninjas to sleep.
I sped up, trying my utmost to be careful not to make a sound. We passed by those vampire ninjas sitting on the floor or lying down, and headed for that wide room where they were keeping that machine.
In front of that room, we found… Tomonori!
I almost shouted out from the shock, but I restrained myself. Because I could feel a wave of killing intent, a feeling I was getting quite used to, coming from behind me.
“I was wondering who had come, but it’s Seraphim. Why are you here?”
When I turned around, I saw… the girl who had passed me the black-rimmed glasses at school. It was Sera’s old friend, who was holding a transparent sword made of water.
“I came to destroy that machine that can control the weather.”
What was good about Sera was that she was always honest. What was bad about Sera was that she was always honest.
“Well, that’s not good.”
“Because that machine is necessary to ensure that our plan to turn mankind into vampire ninjas proceeds smoothly.”
“What did you just say right now?”
They both sent each other firm, piercing glares. They really were two of the same kind.
I see. This was the assassin! That girl was the assassin who was coming to destroy the machine. The conservative faction as trying to take this machine that the reform faction was trying to use and… so the plan to change mankind into vampire ninjas was the plan of the conservative faction?
“Wasn’t that person a conservative faction vampire ninja like you?
“Yes. To think that that ridiculous plan came out of the same faction I belong to…”
Sera ground her inner teeth together, and leaves danced around her. Her jade-colored eyes turned crimson, and her mantled fluttered around her.
“Hey hey, do you plan to fight with me? We’re from the same faction, aren’t we?”
“Welcome talk is exchanged over drinks, unwelcome talk… is exchanged over swords!”
Sera took out a sword. Her green sword clashed with the blue sword of the other girl.
What should I do here? Should I back her up?
Sword met sword and clangs rang through the air. A second time, and then a third time. But there was no sound the fourth time.
Fresh blood flew from Sera’s chest. She had been cut down with a single sword stroke.
… That easily?
I see. If this was an opponent who was strong enough to overwhelm Sera, then I could understand how the situation here could have gotten like this.
I hid in the shadow of a pillar, and couldn’t even poke my head out.
“Seraphim, you certainly got stronger. I didn’t expect you to be able to withstand three of my attacks.”
“… Do you not have any doubts about all this?”
“When did you become the type of idiot who would doubt your mission?”
Should I go and try to do something about that machine? Or should I try to help Sera and beat that girl?
“Protecting humans by changing them into vampire ninjas… why can’t you see how much of a contradiction that is?”
“It does not matter what I think. I was given that mission, so I will carry out that mission.”
There really wasn’t much time to think here. I had to take some action, and quickly.
I stuck my hands in my pocket, and discovered a single pencil.
My pencil-shaped bomb. How do I use it… ah, gotcha.
“Even so, you’re wrong.”
I flew out from behind the pillar, and the other girl threw a blue sword at me. It was thrown at a speed I couldn’t even follow, and the sword pierced through my neck.
What the hell was this? This sword looked like water…
“Hm? He’s still not dead? What kind of trickery is this?”
The girl’s eyes thinned. I pulled the sword out and massaged my neck.
“Trying to make it rain tonkotsu soup, trying to change mankind into vampire ninjas, trying to kill Yuu… why are vampire ninjas so damn jumbled up?”
“If you’ve thought it out that much, then you should already know. Right now, we vampire ninjas do not have a definite leader, a person who can make decisions for all of us.”
The girl answered like that and flicked her hand at me. Instinctively, I dodged to the side, and I saw a hole appear in the wall, almost as if it had been shot by a gun. Taking a closer look, I saw that the girl’s hand was wet. Did she just fling water droplets at me?
“I see, so that’s why you want to use Yuu to revive your leader.”
“Ayumu! Run! This is not an opponent you can-“
Like a pitcher, I reared back and hurled the pencil.
“Did you really think that would hit me?”
The girl just leaned her head to the side, and the pencil slipped by her.
“Nah, I hit exactly what I wanted.”
The corners of my mouth turned upwards. I hadn’t been aiming for her. I was aiming for something deeper inside.
The girl turned around. And then, an explosion reverberated through the room.
A hole had opened… on the wall.
That completely failed! I thought I was completely on the mark too!!
I had thrown it right at the machine, but before it could reach the machine it had been repelled.
To think she could make it in time… dammit! I felt ashamed for having tried to look cool back there.
“Sorry about that. I won’t let you destroy that machine. I’ll be taking it with me.”
The girl held a ball of water in her hands. It was a ball around the size of a volleyball.
And then, after she threw the ball into the air, the water scattered in all directions.
“Taste my blade… Hiken, Hyakki Zensatsu.” (2)
The water that had spread through the room, as if shot out by a sprinkler, all came and attacked me. It was a torrential downpour of blades. I took a step back and started to run, but I realized that I had hit a wall.
Was this skill like that one that Sera had?
There was no way I could dodge the rain… crap. I was going to be torn to pieces.
Well, even if I was going to be torn to pieces, I would avenge Tomonori. I really should have brought my chainsaw with me today.
The blades of water bit into my shoulders and my rear.
But even then, I continued to move forwards… and right at that moment…
”Final chant confirmed. The target area’s gravity will be changed to 10G.”
I heard a man’s voice, low yet clear, and suddenly the water droplets, along with my own body, fell and crashed into the floor.
It was a boy… no, a girl, standing in front of me with our school’s designated skirt waving back and forth and with eyes that seemed out of focus.
“Oh? There was someone who wasn’t asleep? How bothersome.”
So it was like that. The vampire ninjas who were collapsed weren’t beaten, they were just asleep.
Tomonori held out her right hand. And then, a suspicious man appeared in front of her.
The right half of his body was human-looking. A two-meter tall, burly man. However, the left half of his body flickered and waved like flames. The words that I had heard earlier had come from this man, hadn’t they?
That man left behind a white afterimage, almost like a jet trail, and went to strike the girl.
The girl waved her blue sword. However, the sword passed right through the man, and the girl was sent flying after getting punched by a tightly-gripped right fist.
The man made out of flames flickered and disappeared.
“These are the crossroads of life.” ”First chant confirmed. Technique activated.”
A chant flowed out of Tomonori’s mouth, quietly and clearly. In response, a transparent heat wave began to form into the shape of a person.
The girl with the blue sword quickly ran over.
“I proceed on the road of life, whilst you proceed on the road of death.” ”Second chant confirmed. Attack wave being prepared.”
Tomonori was sliced from the tip of her shoulder to her side, but she didn’t seem the least bit perturbed. The half-man passed through Tomonori’s body and wedged his fist into the girl’s stomach.
“Be bitten to pieces. Masticore.” ”Final chant confirmed. Attack wave will be launched forwards.”
I heard the sound of flapping wings, and the outer walls were all blown away at once. Sera was able to manage by hiding behind the machine, but the girl collapsed, and stayed down.
What? What was that just now?
Moonlight streamed in from the exploded portion of the wall. In one second, the room had gone from four walls to three. To think you could just destroy a wall so easily like that…
“Aikawa, Ayumu.” Tomonori stared at me with cold eyes.
“Tomonori? What’s wrong with you?”
Tomonori did not respond to my words, but just stood there paralyzed. She then spun her body around, and gazed at that machine that was supposed to make it rain tonkotsu soup.
Tomonori held her left hand out in front of her chest, and I saw yet another ghost riding on top of her arm. Sera suddenly flew to the side and got away from the machine.
It was about the size of a baseball, and looked like a balled-up tissue on fire. It whizzed through the air in a spiral pattern and headed for the machine.
And then, the machine exploded. Or no, that’s not right. The machine didn’t explode. That little fireball exploded. White flames spread and burned the machine.
”Target has been destroyed. Now eliminating remaining enemies.”
The man who stood behind Tomonori spoke with a harsh tone. It was a plain, steady tone without any hint of emotion.
Tomonori turned and held out her arm at me next. The ghost-like man with only half a body that stood behind Tomonori watched me. I instantly knew what was going to happen, and I flew to the side, trying to escape.
The man came up to me without making a sound. I tried to punch him in the face, but I just hit thin air. Even if I touched him, I couldn’t feel any warmth. He was like smoke.
His half-transparent right arm, which had enough muscle that it could have come from a bodybuilder, made contact with my cheek.
It didn’t really hurt, but it was enough that I cried out a bit in response. However, it wasn’t going to kill me.
I wanted to counter, but I couldn’t do anything.
What exactly was I supposed to do here?
“Why are you crying?”
“A… Ai… kawa… Hel…” ”Abnormality detected in host body. Removing all restrictions on weapons.“
Balls of fire flew all around Tomonori. Three… four… maybe five of them? From how powerful that other explosion was, I knew this was enough to destroy this entire room.
Clang! I heard the sound of metal on metal, and a green sword cut through one of the balls of fire that had just appeared. The fireball split into two and began burning up, after which it vanished. So you could actually attack those balls?
“Ayumu, why aren’t you helping?!”
Sera swung her sword while her left hand put pressure on her chest wound. Tomonori didn’t move a muscle, and the balls of fire flew at Sera. Sera dodged with dance-like steps, but it was impossible to dodge all of those balls of fire, especially considering the weird path they took when they flew.
I heard an explosion. Sera’s legs were dyed in red.
There was no way out. I had to just do it! I closed the distance between me and Tomonori, and sent my fist pummeling into the man behind her. 200%! The man didn’t even try to dodge, and my fist made contact. This time, I definitely felt something. I felt like I had punched right into an iron plate.
At that moment, signs of life returned to Tomonori’s eyes.
“Aikawa… what happened to me?! What is this… what happened to me?! Don’t come in! Don’t come inside me!”
Was she conscious again? Tomonori didn’t seem to understand what exactly was happening to her. The man standing behind Tomonori was connected through Tomonori from behind.
One of the balls of fire came straight at my chest… did I get too close?
Boom. The ball of flame exploded loudly, and I was sent flying. It was enough of an impact to break my body right into two.
And then, when I separated from Tomonori, the light once again vanished from her eyes.
“Liberate your frozen heart.” ”First chant confirmed. Technique activated.”
What? Was she planning on doing the same thing she did before?
“Change even the breaths of Gods into blizzards.” ”Second chant confirmed. Preparations for cooling complete.”
“Sera, let’s get out of here!”
I reattached my bottom half and desperately tried to get up. At the same time I called out to Sera…
“Rush through, Absolute Fenrir.” ”Final chant confirmed. Commence freezing.”
In just a second, the room froze over.
This was the same phenomenon I had seen back during that time at the arcade.
And then, I remembered Kyouko’s words when she witnessed the same phenomenon.
“Ahah… so you did have it. Ariel-sensei’s masou weapon!”
And then, I remembered what Dai-sensei had said.
“Where is it~? I don’t see it anywhere~. My my, Ayumu-san~~.”
She had said that the thing she had given me wasn’t there, in the sense that a person wasn’t there. (3)
Could it be that the vampire ninja Tomonori herself was the item that Dai-sensei had entrusted to me?
And that wasn’t all. That girl vampire ninja had that ridiculous plan to use that machine to turn mankind into vampire ninjas. In other words, she didn’t intend on destroying the machine.
”Target has been destroyed. Now eliminating remaining enemies.”
Could it be… that the assassin who was aiming to destroy the machine… was Tomonori?
No, to be precise, it was the weapon that was inside of Tomonori. Or rather, maybe that half-man half-flame entity was the masou weapon?
My legs were frozen. The walls and the hallway were already covered in ice. It also seemed that Sera hadn’t been able to escape. However, only Tomonori… only Tomonori had not been touched by the ice.
It was like this that time as well. The ground around the collapsed form of Tomonori was already frozen.
The ground around her.
I couldn’t even move the lower half of my body anymore, but Tomonori seemed completely fine.
Tomonori turned to face me and took a single step towards me.
I heard the sound of ice breaking, and Tomonori slowly approached.
“Hold a blue flame on the right.” ”First chant confirmed. Technique activated.
Again? She was doing this again? I got out of my frozen shoes and stood on top of the ice.
“Carry a red flame on the left.” ”Second chant confirmed. Preparations for flame dispersion complete.”
I closed the distance between Tomonori and me one more time. The fireball from before headed for me, but Sera threw what looked like a red, autumn leaf at Tomonori’s arm, and her arm went off track. The fireball crashed into the wall and exploded.
How should I stop her? What should I do?
I have no idea. Did I have to kill her?
… as if I could do that!!
She was my friend!
I pulled Tomonori’s body towards my own in an embrace. I didn’t even think to strike her.
“Stop it! Stop it, Tomonori!”
At that moment, certainly… signs of life returned to Tomonori’s eyes.
“D-Don’t call me Tomonori!”
Tomonori yelled out, and as if a string had been cut, she immediately lost consciousness.
And as if blown away by Tomonori’s fierce yell, the flame-like half man and the exploding balls of fire vanished into thin air.
(1) One of those things you often see in slice of life anime, where students go into an empty building or some other “scary” place to test their courage and promote teamwork or some shit.
(2) Roughly translates to “Flying Blade, Hundred Demon Gradual Death.”
(3) In Japanese, there are two different words for something existing – one that is used to refer to animate objects (iru), and one that is used to refer to inanimate objects (aru). Dai-sensei used the former, which is suspicious if what she gave to Ayumu had been something that wasn’t alive.