Chapter 188, Friend for Today
The contour of the area was changed completely from the huge monsters barrage. With most of the abandoned buildings blown to smithereens, the cityscape was turned into a clear open plain. Both the roads and the buildings were equally buried under debris of various sizes, it was completely impossible to differentiate where the road was. It was not something that Hunters normally came across in a ruin.
Akira looked over his surroundings while hiding under one of the relatively bigger rubble in the area.
“I guess this is how ruins slowly change into a wasteland, huh… Alpha, how is the monster”
“Its approaching slowly. Though it has stopped shooting, I dont think its because it ran out of ammo.”
“Seriously though, how the hell does it still have some ammo left after shooting that many huge warheads around”
In contrast to Akira who was frowning in concern, Alpha was smiling like usual.
“Oh my, isnt it the same with your rifle”
Akira was completely convinced by that argument and smiled wryly.
“Ahhh… You have a point there. And here I thought Im already used to using the extended magazine made with old-world technology, but now that you mention it, the monsters are also made with old-world technology too. So it wont be strange if they have extended magazine too.”
It was something that would surprise him in the past, but after using it for some time, Akira had more or less already gotten used to how convenient it was. This time, he understood the enemy might be using the same technology and how that convenience turned into trouble. At the same time, Akira was reminded of how his extended magazine was using old-world technology that he did not fully understand. He then turned to look at his patron who was created with a technology far more complex than the extended magazine.
“Akira, whats wrong”
“Is that so I understand that you cant really relax in this situation, but just stay there, okay The monster might notice you if you make a single move.”
Akira pushed aside any hesitation inside his mind that might cause him to blunder, he then once again confirmed his surroundings and sighed.
Alpha pursed her lips and asked.
“What is with that big sigh after you look at me”
“No, its not you. Its that over there.”
Akira pointed straight past Alphas body, at his half-broken bike behind her. Its trunk was badly bent, its front wheel and rifle arm were gone. Even his A4WM automatic grenade launcher that was originally fixed on that arm was already buried deep under the rubbles.
“Well, things happened, just think of it as a necessary sacrifice.”
“Thats true, but still, even the truck is also gone along with the ammo that I had left on it. So at least let me sigh, will you”
The truck with his reserve ammo was blown by one of the monsters warheads, its driver seat was completely blown off by that shot. Its tray was crushed under the rubble, scattering his reserve ammo all over the place. But even so, Akira somehow survived that and managed to scrape the scattered supply enough to complete his last ammo refill.
Akira shifted his gaze to the monster, although there was a large rubble blocking his sight, he was able to clearly see that monster thanks to his enhanced vision. It seemed to be moving slowly thanks to its size and the distance between them. But in reality, it was actually moving relatively fast thanks to its long stride. There was no question that it would be even faster if it ran.
“With my bike and truck gone, I dont think it would be possible to escape from it if it started running.”
“Lets hide for now. We might have been able to blend in with the rain and run away, but unfortunately, the rain has already stopped. Judging from the clouds, it might rain again though.”
Akira looked up at the sky. Although it was blanketed in thick clouds as if the rain would pour down anytime, it was not raining.
“…It rained when I didnt want it to and it stopped when I wanted it to rain, what kind of bullying is this”
“Well, I promised to help you against your bad luck with my support the best I can, but as expected, I cant win against the weather, you know.”
“My bad luck even reaches the sky, huh”
Akira mixed some jokes in his reply, Alpha smiled in response to that.
A call from Nelia reached Akiras information terminal. He was not sure whether to pick it or not and glanced at Alpha.
“Akira Are you alive”
“Yeah, somehow, what about you”
“No problem at all. I immediately ran away from its sight, it had its eyes fixed on you after all. It seems that its running out of ammo so I will be going for its head. Give me some support if youre still alive.”
“Wait for a sec, are you going to fight that thing”
Nelia replied as if it was a given fact, Akira could not help but get surprised by that. All the questions inside his head were compressed into one word.
“Why, you ask Thats given, its our job, right”
“Oh my, it kind of hurts when you say it like that, do you think that Im someone who would abandon my job Although I look like this, Im pretty serious when it comes to my job, okay”
“…If youre really that upright, why would you be stealing relics then”
“That was my job back then. Well, that aside, Ill leave the support to you.”
Nelia ended the call. Akira was shocked, he did not expect her to be actually that earnest, but at the same time, he could understand it too.
Alpha found Akiras reaction interesting, but she still prompted him to start moving.
“I dont know what you find weird about it, but since it seems that she will be taking that monsters attention, lets use this chance to move out.”
Alpha was urging Akira to run away. He understood that very well as he readied his SSB multi-weapon rifle, steeled his resolve, and jumped out from behind the rubble.
Nelia used the full power of her powered suit to close the distance with the monster. The monster could not shoot its large cannon behind itself, so Nelia used that blind spot to draw the shortest route to the monster while utilizing the cover of the rubbles. The moment the monster noticed her, it quickly turned around and changed its priority from Akira to Nelia. Nelia was able to close more than half of the distance while it was preparing the cannon on its left arm.
Nelia believed that the monster still had some ammo left. But after shooting around that many warheads, she was sure it would not have enough ammo left to demolish all the buildings in the area. Her guess was correct, as a matter of fact, it was no longer able to maintain its original rate of fire. Now that it started shooting in intervals instead of continuous fire, she was able to skillfully avoid the falling warheads with the precise control of her powered suit while she approached the monster.
Nelia used the advantage of her cyborg body to connect directly to her powered suit. As she was able to control the powered suit as if it was a part of her body, Nelia was able to execute complex manoeuvres with high agility. Not to mention that the powered suit had extra limbs and a propulsion system that originally did not exist on the human body and the additional sensors on the powered suit provided Nelia with extra information on top of her usual 5 senses.
It was a matter of the riders skill on how much a cyborg could take in the discrepancy coming from a real body and a cyborg body. And in the case of Nelia, her skills were not something to be taken lightly.
An ordinary person might go mad if he or she was connected to a tank or a non-humanoid machine. But Nelia did not show any difficulty at all in controlling her powered suit. It demonstrated her talent as well as her distorted mind.
As someone who was accomplished both as a close combat fighter and cyborg body user, Nelia was able to evade the high-speed warhead coming at her. She quickly slipped under the monster and slashed its legs with the blades on both of her arms. The moment her blades touched the monsters legs, fire sparked followed by a blinding light. It was the light from the monsters force field armour exchanging kinetic energy into photons.
Nelia turned and confirmed the monsters legs, she was sure that she could not sever those legs based on the sensation from that slash. But from that light flash, it should have shaved most of the force field armours energy. Unfortunately, what Nelia had hoped for was completely off. The monster was unscathed, its force field armour was able to completely disperse the force from that slash.
“Whoah, that was pretty hard. Well then, it just means I will have to keep slashing you.”
While Nelia was mumbling as if she was mocking it, the monster brought down the blade on its right arm. The light blade crushed the rubble and buried itself deep. Rubble flew left and right from that impact as the blade melted its contact point, releasing steam into the air. But Nelia quickly jumped into the monsters blind spot and immediately assaulted the monster with her blade.
Every time her blade struck the monsters body, a blinding flash of light was released, and every time the monster swung its light blade, rubble was thrown into the air. Although it was a battle between giants, the difference in their sizes made it look as if it was a battle between an adult and a kid as both of them swung around blades unsuitable for their respective sizes.
If it was a simple contest of swordsmanship, Nelia would have the upper hand. The monster was swinging its blade-like it was a beginner, its blade was not even able to touch the opponent who was smaller and darting around it. But in contrast to that, Nelia was able to strike the monsters legs multiple times.
But Nelia did not believe that she was winning. Although the monster was like a beginner, it was still a powerful monster.
Nelias blades were not able to reach the monsters legs, the momentum of those blades was completely killed by the monsters force field armour. Although each swing shaved more energy from the force field armour compared to her powered suit, there was no guarantee that the monster would run out of energy faster than her powered suit.
If it was not thanks to the enemys beginner-like swordsmanship, Nelia would have been dead by now. Even if she did not receive a single strike, she would lose the moment her powered suit ran out of energy first. And as she kept consuming energy, her powered suit would eventually slow down which would make it harder for her to evade the monsters attack. She understood that her force field armour would not be able to receive the monsters attack, so she turned that off as well as the other parts of the powered suit that she did not need for high-speed manoeuvring. But even so, there was still a good chance she would run out of energy first before the monster. Thus, she judged that she was losing that battle.
The monster kept swinging its blade without paying attention to its defence. And the strength behind its amateurish swing after getting interrupted by a powerful blow greatly surpassed her prediction.
Nelia understood she would not be able to evade the light blade coming down at her, so she quickly shifted her stance to maximize her survival, which was to receive that blow with both of her blades, but she also understood that it was futile. Although she was not scared, she knew that she was going to lose the fight.
But at the next moment, a barrage of anti-forcefield bullets riddled the monsters head. Although the barrage was completely nullified by the monsters forcefield armour, it was enough to throw it off balance.
Nelia used that opening to completely evade the incoming blade and jumped back, opening some distance between her and the monster. She then checked the area where that barrage came from and found Akira aiming his SSB multi-weapon rifle from quite a distance away.
Akira had a stern look on his face, his SSB rifle ejected its empty magazine and empty energy packs.
“…I emptied an extended magazine full of anti-forcefield armour bullets in 5 seconds, you know And that was not enough”
Alpha was frowning deeply.
“It seems that its head is protected by a strong forcefield armour. Even after factoring in the loss of momentum from the sniping distance, its still an impressively strong forcefield armour.”
“Im sure I did that pretty up close though, should I get closer next time”
The big monster noticed Akira from that barrage and aimed its cannon. But before it could release a shot, Nelia slashed at it, throwing its aim off. Although the shot landed far away from Akira, it had enough power to blow rubble sky high. Akira could not help but frown seeing that.
“…I take that back.”
Alpha smiled bitterly.
“Yep, I dont recommend you to do it either. Now that it knows your location, lets change our location and hide.”
Akira moved as fast as possible towards another location while hiding between the rubbles, that was when Nelia suddenly made a one-sided call.
“And here I thought you already ran away since I didnt get any support.”
“… Although I hate it, were allies for now. Moreover, if you get defeated without my support, I wont be able to move around without a decoy.“
Akira sounded as if he really did not like the situation that he was in, but at the same time, it also sounded as if he was making excuses to keep the temporary alliance. But Nelia replied with a rather happy voice.
“I see, but I would really hope you wouldve helped me sooner, you know”
“Im not even inside a powered suit and my bike is gone, you know. I also dont have that much ammo left, but even so, Im still doing my best to help you here. So if you keep complaining, I will just leave you behind.”
“Geez, calm down. That one just now was a close call, thank you.”
“By the way, Ill be counting on you to be the decoy. Ah, it wont be of any use even if you say no, after all, for some reason, that thing really wants to kill you. Its basically coming at you while completely ignoring me.”
Akira inadvertently glanced at the monster, his enhanced vision helped him see through the rubble and straight at the big monster that was running in his direction. His face turned grim.
“For some reason, seeing how its running at you, I can feel some kind of hatred or deep grudge against you though. Akira, what did you do to that monster Did you do something bad to it This is only a womans intuition but… Did you mess with its girlfriend or something”
“Like hell if I did! Its my first time meeting that monster, you know! And also, I dont have any monster acquaintances!!”
Akira replied back to Nelias joke while shouting. Nelia only laughed at his reaction before ending the call.
The large monsters mind was in a mess, the system was telling it to take care of the black powered suit first, but its hatred caused it to prioritize Akira instead. In order to make sure that his consciousness would not be swallowed back to the system, Tiol followed his hatred.
The huge monster ignored Nelia and went straight for Akira. All of its intentions were skewed toward offence, it ignored its defence and poured all of its energy toward its light blade. Its ammo producing organ burned through its last energy reserve to manufacture ammo. Thanks to that, its forcefield armour strength was greatly lowered.
Nelia did not let that chance slide as she swung the blade on both of her hands in a flurry of attacks. Finally, she broke through the forcefield armour and damaged the monsters actual armour. Moreover, Nelia aimed her slashes to slow down and prevent that monster from attacking.
Akira kept running as fast as he could. He blazed and leapt through the sea of rubble under him using the full power of his augmented suit and pushing her body to the limit. He was moving extremely fast for someone with two legs instead of wheels.
The monster started shooting while running, but its aiming was badly interrupted by Nelia. Although it could not fire in continuous succession, each of its warheads packed enough power to compensate for its interrupted aim. It blasted more ruble into the sky. Every time Akira saw that, he could not help but shed cold sweat.
“Alpha! Its not like it would hit me with that aim, right! It should be okay, right!”
“We cant do anything other than relying on that girl to keep interrupting its aim. To be honest, it would be great if she can take out the cannon too, but I think that would be impossible given how powerful the forcefield armour thats protecting that cannon is.”
“Is she doing okay”
“That monster is fully committed to you, though Im still not sure why. But if its attention gets divided again, it might be dangerous. Thats why, lets do that again here, Akira.”
Akira took as much cover as possible using the rubble while moving around. But he suddenly jumped out from his cover and quickly aimed his SSB multi-weapon rifle. He then stomped his legs hard on a large wreckage, enough to crack it and planted his legs into it before emptied his magazine in a short time.
The kickback from that barrage pushed Akiras body to its limit. The kickback was transmitted to the larger wreckage under his feet, eventually breaking it.
Due to their distance and speed, the bullets reached the monsters face almost in an instant. The first few bullets that landed almost at the same time were dispersed in a blinding flash of light, but the following bullets were able to break through the forcefield armour that was weakened after that light discharge, thus throwing the big monster off-balance.
At the same time Akiras SSB multi-weapon rifle ejected its empty magazine, the blinding light finally died down, exposing the monster and a part of its body that was crumbling down.
The barrage this time dealt more damage than the last time. Akira thought so and smiled, but before he could express his happiness, the monster howled and its face twitched.
The big monster once again turned at Akira and ran towards him. The extensive movement that it made when it ran caused its already crumbling body to crumble even faster. Its armour was falling down piece by piece to the ground, exposing its inner parts. It was a mix of flesh and machine, fur and scale, skin and metal, as if it was a human trying to disguise as a monster.
Akira did not waste any seconds before he started running again.
“Is it just me or that thing is actually running faster than before!”
“It shed most of its heavy armour, so its lighter now. Run faster or itll catch you. Also, reload a new magazine and energy pack to your rifle.”
“So many things to do in so little time.”
Akira ran as fast as he could while finishing reloading his SSB rifle. Once he was done, he turned around and released another barrage. This time, since the enemy was closer and the target was bigger, all of his shots hit their targets. They pierced through the outer shell and scattered blood and metallic parts into the air.
But it was far from over, it was not even enough to stop the monster. Due to its tough flesh, they could not deal that much damage to the monster. And Alpha deliberately reduced the rate of fire too.
“Why did you slow it down by that much I still should have plenty of ammo left, you know!”
“Ammo, yes. But not enough energy packs. High-speed shooting causes a strong kickback which in turn consumes more energy. Moreover, its not like it was enough to fully kill the kickback too. Your rifle is also hitting its limit. You only have enough energy packs for one more high-speed barrage, after that, youll run out of energy packs and the rifle itself will break. Thats why youll have to save it for the best chance when you can be sure to kill it. Its really unfortunate that we lost the rest of our energy packs together with the truck.”
Not only his rifle, but Akiras augmented suit also needed an energy pack to operate, which meant he was basically at his limit too.
Nelia kept slashing at the monster while chasing it. Now that it had no forcefield armour and was just protected by its metal armour, her blades easily slashed through the monsters flesh, opening a wound that bled green shining blood. But such wounds immediately closed up as if the monster was using a powerful medicine. So the monster was not even bothered by Nelias slashing.
But there was a limit on how many times it could regenerate its wounds. Since it consumed energy every time it regenerated itself, Nelias attack was not completely useless. Although she understood that, she still felt intimidated by the monsters incredible vitality.
After finding out that the monster did not slow down at all after all of that slashing, Nelia decided to shift her target to its cannon. She focused her attack on the big cannon on the monsters left arm as well as the reloading machine that coiled around its body like a belt. Eventually, she was able to cut off the belt.
Nelia thought that with this, it would at least stop shooting at Akira as she focused her attack back to its legs, but she was mistaken there. The monster quickly threw away the gigantic magazine on its back and the cannon on its left arm; now that it had become even lighter, it was able to run faster and quickly got away from Nelias blades.
Nelia rushed to that monster and tried to slash at it again, but once again, it missed. Her powered suit had considerably slowed down after all the fighting, so she was no longer able to catch up to that monster.
Nelia cursed her own decision and regretted not having prioritized its legs first, as she chased the monster.
The ceasing of gunshots was nothing more than a short respite since the monster was running even faster now towards Akira. Akira frowned since he understood that the monster would be able to catch up with him for sure this time and it would be meaningless to hide now. If the huge monster swung around its light blade to sweep all the locations where he might be, even if that did not hit him directly, it would be enough to blow him away along with all the rubble, and that would definitely kill him.
Akira stopped and slowly turned. He locked his gaze with the incoming huge monster and heaved a big sigh as if he had given up. He then took a long deep breath to steel his resolve.
Alpha stood next to Akira and smiled.
“Just to confirm it, you didnt resolve yourself to die, right”
“Something that stupid doesnt need resolve.”
“I see, thats good then. Lets get yourself ready before it catches up with you.”
Akira calmed himself down for one last stand and started preparing for it. He loaded a new magazine to replace the half-empty magazine and placed in a new energy pack to his augmented suit and SSB rifle. That was the last of his remaining supply reserves.
Akira held his SSB multi-weapon rifle tightly, made sure that he was standing on a hard surface, and squatted down as if he was preparing to jump. He then took a deep breath, as he maximized his time perception compression, the scene around him started to distort into slow motion.
“Alpha, I leave the countdown to you.”
“Roger that… 5… 4… 3…”
Inside the slow-moving world, the huge monster closed its distance and raised its ginormous blade. It focused all of its hatred, grudge and energy to its blade, expanding it even longer and brighter.
“… 2… 1…”
Right at the next moment, it swung its huge light blade down at Akira.
At the same time, Akira leapt toward that huge monster like a bullet.
That single jump consumed all the energy pack inside Akiras augmented suit, boosting its power output way outside the safe limit. The platform that he was using broke into pieces from the kickback alone, while his legs were barely able to receive the kickback thanks to his augmented suit.
The light blade was brought down with such speed, but Akira, who jumped straight at it, was even faster. He could feel the intensity of that blade as he went past it. The heat from the blade that was enough to melt rubble singed his protective coat before he landed on that monsters face.
The light blade landed on the ground, throwing all the rubbles up into the sky behind Akira as he pointed his SSB rifle straight at the big monsters face.
“Just die already!!”
Since Akira screamed those words under his compressed time perception, no one could understand him. But the huge amount of bullets that he released in that short time, which ignored the kickback and the stress on both the rifle and his body, conveyed his words very well.
Even if the head had the ability to regenerate itself, the storm of bullets was numerous enough and powerful enough to crush that regeneration. It took an instant for the bullets to rip through the monsters head.
Right after that, Akira fainted. The last barrage had pushed him past his limit which gave the last push to throw off his consciousness. Now that he had lost his consciousness as well as his footing, gravity took over and pulled his body down. But he was saved from crashing straight into the ground. Nelia, who was chasing the monster, was able to catch him. Not too long after that, the monster that had lost its head fell down to the ground, making a loud bang.
Nelia got out of her powered suit. She then came to Akira who was still on the powered suits clutch, she placed her hand on Akiras cheek and smiled bewitchingly.
“…Hmm, what should I do with you now”
Although those words contained a lot of different meanings behind them, it did not take that long for Nelia to make her decision as she smiled rather disappointedly.
“Well, were allies for today, right”
Nelia gently lifted him up and returned back to her powered suit with Akira in her arm. After that, she headed back to the forward base.-