Saturday, February 10, 2018

Gate - Thus the JSDF Fought There! Volume 10 Chapter 10

Translator: Nigel
Editor:Deus Ex Machina

The JGSDF Special Region Expeditionary Force began to pull out.
By the time half the troops which remained in Arnus had departed, units dispatched to various other areas finally returned.
“The 2nd Combat Group’s returned.”
“Mm. Send them on to Ginza. Leave as many vehicles and as much weapons and ammunition behind except for what we need to transport the wounded and critical resources.
As the personnel went through the Gate to Ginza one after the other, Hazama and the others gathered up the men who wanted to stay as well as the Arnus townsfolk and had them pile up the dirt inside and outside the dome to help set up wire obstacles. They were preparing to deal with the bugs that would rush out of the Gate when Lelei ran out of strength.
“Everyone from this unit who wants to stay, assemble over here!”
“All returnees, leave your ammo and other stores behind!”
“Prioritize the movement of the wounded! Hurry!”
The members of the various recon teams showed up among the people who were going back.
Sergeant Major Kuwabara ordered Tozu and Azuma to carry Higaki’s stretcher, and as he supervised the construction of the fortifications, he found a plain-clothed Kuribayashi among the workers.
“Oi, Kuribayashi, what are you doing!? You want to stay?”
“I’m bad at giving up.”
“Won’t that  be troublesome for you?”
“It’s fine, besides, there’s nothing interesting waiting for me at home. I want to go wild over here.”
“So the JSDF’s the best place for you, then? Don’t get hurt, you hear.”
“You too, boss.”
Higaki hummed a tune from where he lay on his stretcher. It must have been the morphine at work. Nishina, Katsumoto, Sasagawa… the members of 3rd Recon left Kuribayashi behind and vanished beyond the other side of the Gate.
Kuribayashi, who had stayed behind, gathered several lower-ranking people as temporary subordinates, and together they worked on setting up the barbed wire. Hazama called out from behind her.
“Can we get three rolls of concertina wire here?”
THe person addressing her was Hazama, the commander of the Special Region Expeditionary Force. Kuribayashi saluted and replied:
“Roger. Triple concertina it is… although, will it really work against those bugs?”
“Just install it first. We might not be able to stop the bugs’ assault if we rely solely on the dome’s walls. The dome is our last line of defense. Surely you don’t want to regret it later, no?”
“Also, if you want to stay, you’d best gear up. Do you plan to fight like this?”
After Kuribayashi ran off to change, the officers under Hazama came up to him, their hands full of items to be brought back, and asked:
“General… aren’t you going back?”
“As a commander, I have a duty to complete my task. When we advance I must be the first in, and when we retreat I must be the last out. That is how I feel that a commander ought to act.”
“But, how about your family?”
“My son’s old enough to take care of himself. There’s no need to worry about my wife. More to the point, you’ll have to sort things out after you get back. I’ll leave that to you.”
“Sir! In that case, please excuse us.”
Saying so, the officers saluted Hazama and then vanished through the Gate.

At the same time, Yanagida and Furuta were on a helicopter headed for Arnus.
After sighting Arnus Hill, the pilot adjusted his course and flew straight for it.
A shout of “anyone who wants to stay can stay” rang out over the aircraft radio. It would seem they wanted to gather all the airmen who wanted to remain.
After hearing this, a surprising number of people broke out in cheers.
“Well, a lot of people seem happy.”
“Being allowed to fly around freely here is very attractive, and it feels good to not have weird restrictions on you. But I have family on the other side…”
“Then why not bring your family over?”
“That was the original plan. But dammit, it was so sudden…”
“Lieutenant Yanagida, I wish to stay in the Special Region. Please let me off at Arnus.”
Still immobilized by everyone, Furuta expressed his desire to remain. However, Sherry ― who had been silent all this while ― addressed Furuta like she was chiding a petulant child.
“Is that what Tyuule-sama would want you to do, Furuta-sama? I’m sure that’s not it.”
“What would a kid know?”
“Well, I’m a woman too,” Sherry continued. “Therefore, please go back to Japan and fulfil your dream, Furuta-sama.”
After that, Delilah interrupted in an annoyed tone of voice.
“I should have just killed her on the spot. That way Master Furuta wouldn’t have had any lingering attachments to this place.”
“In any case, I want to stay.”
“You can’t. You still have a duty to fulfil your dream, Furuta-sama.”
“A duty!?”
“Tyuule-sama believed you could fulfil your dream. That was why she looked so happy.”
“What part of Tyuule looked happy? How was she happy!?”
In Furuta’s eyes, Tyuule’s face had been a jumble of emotions.
But Sherry nodded without any hesitation.
“Mm, she had a very happy look on her face. I’m sure she felt happy because she felt you could fulfil your dreams, Furuta-sama.”
“Why is that!? How is there any happiness for Tyuule-san in that!?”
“I’m not quite sure how to explain it to you.”
“...I don’t get it. That’s not normal at all.”
And so, Delilah said, “Maybe, just maybe, I can sort of understand how that woman feels.”
Delilah looked outside as she continued speaking.
“If someone’s been in despair for a long time, then even the thought of “maybe I could be happy” might be enough for them. The fact is that you thought of her, Master Furuta, and you told her, ‘come with me’. And you can do it if it’s you, can’t you, Master Furuta? Therefore, she felt that she could be happy.”
“In that case, why didn’t she reach out and take it!? It’s the same as looking at food and saying, ‘oh, it’s delicious, but I’m full’, isn’t it?”
“Do you understand what it means to be afraid of happiness? Imagine there’s a door, and that going through it would make you happy, but once you think that you might not actually be happy, you start to have doubts. Maybe there’ll be nothing behind that door after you open it. On the contrary, you might be filled with despair instead. Therefore, maybe it’s better not to open the door, but to press your ear to it, listen to the sounds from the other side, and maybe you’ll be happier that way.”
“Can you even do that?”
Furuta did not want to accept Delilah’s words, because they were just too sad. However, his heart understood what she was trying to say.
Furuta fell silent, and Yanagida said to the pilot, “Alright, we don’t have time to land, just fly straight through the Gate.”
The aircraft radio said, “There’s no time, hurry!” If they chose to land and then walk off the helicopter, they would not be able to return.
The pilot nimbly worked the control stick and the collective, then flew into the opening of the dome.
“Watch out! We’re going in!”
The people inside the dome and around the Gate saw a helicopter that was practically scraping the ground flying in at high speed, and they hurriedly dove aside. Others did not dodge, but instead dropped flat to the ground. Yanagida and the others nearly grazed their backs as their helicopter plunged into the Gate.

After entering the Gate and passing through a murky world of whiteness, the scenery of Ginza unfolded before them.
“It’s Ginza!”
After passing through the Gate, the helicopter nearly hit the personnel coming back from the Special Region, and so he pulled up on his stick and raised the helicopter’s nose. However, he nearly struck the dome’s ceiling, so he pushed down on his stick and forced a descent.
After this rollercoaster ride, the helicopter exited the dome and scraped against the ground outside the Ginza garrison.
The helicopter’s fuselage gouged a furrow into the asphalt road and its blades of its rotor bent and broke after they struck the ground. It slid amidst a trail of sparks into an alley between two department store buildings.
If the Ginza Garrison had not been besieged by protesters, if the surrounding traffic had not been diverted away, there would probably have been an accident. But currently, all the cars in the area were gone, and so only the riot police saw as the helicopter expended its momentum in a slide across the tarmac.
It ground to a halt in front of a store window.displaying wedding dresses.
“Hey, everyone alright?”
The smell of iron and aviation fuel filled the air. Amidst all this , the riot police rushed over.
They were closely followed by men from the fire department, which doused the helicopter in water to prevent it from burning
Yanagida was face down on the ground and hosed from head to toe, and he raised his head with a “Pwha!”
“I thought I was going to die…”
“Ah, yes... I saw Father and Mother told me it was too early to join them...”
Sherry s petite frame was stuck between Yanagida and Delilah, and she was flat on her back.
“Is everyone alive?”
“I guess this counts as living.”
“I am fine.”
All the men responded in turn. The pilot silently raised his right arm.
Yanagida and the others had successfully returned to Ginza.

The sweat on Lelei’s forehead was like a waterfall as her body listed to one side.
Keeping the Gate open for several hours had almost depleted Lelei’s strength. In particular, suddenly enlarging the Gate for Yanagida and the others had taken a severe toll on her stamina. After that, the Gate had shrunk to a size where their personnel could only pass through single file and with their heads ducked.
“Lelei, are you alright?”
Lelei nodded weakly in response to Tuka’s question.
Since she was clenching her teeth and focusing her strength, she did not have the energy to speak.
“How much longer can she keep this up?”
Kato answered General Hazama on her behalf.
“About another ten minutes or so.”
“Can’t you take over for her, Kato-sensei?”
“I couldn’t do it!”
Hazama regarded the line of JSDF personnel. The remaining men would not be able to fully pass through the Gate in the next ten minutes.
Hazama waved his hand to hurry them up.
“Everyone who doesn’t need to go back, fall out now!”
“I have a pregnant wife!”
“Alright, you go first.”
“I’m single, I’ll go back later!”
Those people who had pressing reasons to go back were clapped on the back and forced through by the others.
By this time, the Gate had narrowed to the size of a pipe. The servicemen who wanted to go back had to crawl through it.
“Hurry! Hurry!”
They would not be able to go through while carrying things.
Many of the men dropped what they were holding and stuck their arms out while pushing their heads through to let the people on the other side pull them over.
“Lelei-san! Do your best!”
“Come on, it’s just a bit more, so hang in there!”
Lelei responded to everyone’s cheers by sweeping back her sweat-slicked hair and nodding.
“You lot, hurry up!”
But the Gate was gradually shrinking.
“Oh no!”
And then, Lelei finally passed out.
The last man to go through had the toes of his combat boot cut off by the closing hole, and the severed tip rolled around on the ground.
“Ah, dammit!”
After that, there was a small earthquake. However, the soldiers punching the ground in resentment did not feel it.
Isn’t there a way ― everyone looked over to Lelei, but when they saw her in Kato’s arms, nobody could say anything. That was because everyone present understood that her efforts had gone beyond her limits.
The men looked nervously to the piece of combat boot that stood where the Gate had been, and they all breathed a sigh of relief to see that there were no toes in it. Its owner must have been hugging his toes on the other side in relief and going, “That was close!”
Finally, the black sun appeared on top of the dome again. The world began to warp once more, and the flat surface began to sink down.
“Alright, the bugs are coming. Everyone to your positions. Close the doors to the dome.”
Under Hazama’s orders, there was a weighty clang as the steel doors slammed shut, and the servicemen each took their assigned places.
Since many of the people with families had chosen to go back, most of the people who remained were young. The people who had remained here with Hazama were largely single junior officers.
“So, how many people stayed?”
“I estimate around four to five thousand.”
“So a total of four to five thousand people who have something good here and who couldn’t get back, huh? Alright, everyone who stayed, reorganize into new units. It’s okay if it’s a bit messy. Get them outside the dome and prepare for the walls to be breached.”
“What about the Arnus mercenaries?”
“We can count on them in a melee. Have them join the defense.”
The troopers each readied their rifles and pointed the muzzles of their machine guns towards the black hole at the heart of the depression.
Rory levelled her halberd at it, her toes grinding through a bug’s corpse as it slid across the ground and her heel firmly planted on the floor. An air of power radiated from her, like a fully-drawn bow.
Beside her was Kuribayashi, her bayonet-equipped Type 64 rifle in hand. She was in full battle order and was fully loaded, complete with a spare rifle on her back.
“So we’re fighting together again.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
The two women exchanged looks and then smiled to each other.
The mercenaries formed a shield wall around the dome doors. The JSDF troopers pointed their rifles out through the gaps in preparation for the enemy to arrive.
As Hazama checked on his men’s status, he took up a wireless handset and spoke into it.
“This is Hazama. Itami, can you hear me? How’s things on your end?”
“Actually, things are not going too well here.”
“What happened? Do you need assistance? Have you planted the explosives?”
“They’re all set up. Just need to hook up the detonator…”
“Think of a way to deal with it within ten minutes...”
Saying so, Hazama put away his handset. An elephant-sized bug was about to emerge from the abyss.

“Requesting reinforcements. This is Itami. Situation critical, I need backup.”
However the wireless went silent before the crucial request could go through, and there was no response.
“Did something happen?”
“I guess.”
“Deal with it within ten minutes… easier said than done.”
“Of course he’d think that way since you didn’t explain the situation over here to him.”
Itami grumbled and Tomita tried to soothe him from where he was dangling on a rope halfway down the wall to plant explosives.
“So, are we going to find a way around this? After all, if  we’ve got no more tricks up our sleeves, we’ll have to give up.”
Tomita was being lowered himself to the center of the wall to organize the fuses that were connected everywhere. He could not let go of them. If he did, the fuses would be a mess, and sorting them out again would waste valuable time. If he wanted to finish this job, all he could do was wait for Itami to lower the cable for the main detonator to him.
“Well, it’s not like we have a choice, do we? Wait here, Tomita.”
However, a Dar appeared in front of Itami. It was probably a survivor from the group that had caused havoc in town. The Dar bared its fangs and glared at Itami, looking like it was going to lunge at any moment.
“In any case, I need to think of a way to deal with this guy.”
The detonator and its cables were all behind the Dar.
The problem now was Itami’s weapons ― his shotgun was loaded with 12 gauge birdshot (each pellet was 2.75mm across), and he could only load two rounds at a time. He felt uneasy about taking on a monster like the Dar with that.
“If only I had some slug shells…”
“How would a normal person have something like that?”
“Good grief. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have taken that death flag back.”
Itami loaded his shells into the shotgun, then closed the weapon that was folded open in the middle.

Rory and Kuribayashi faced a large bug that looked like a spider.
The bug was incredibly dextrous in a way that did not match its massive body at all, and it stabbed repeatedly with the sharpened tips of its tentacles and limbs. It was bigger than them and it rained a series of stabs at them from above was like a killing storm. Rory’s nimble footwork carried her past the strikes, which barely grazed her.
However, its bladed limbs, which slammed down with tremendous force, could cause incredible damage with just a slight graze.
Her goth lolita’s priestess uniform was ripped, baring great swathes of her skin, and even the demigoddess clicked her tongue in annoyance.
“Nobody asked you lot to come to this world!”
Rory’s sweat beaded on her skin like pearls, and they scattered as she jumped.
As she fell, she raised her halberd and swung it down to add her momentum to the strike.
It plunged down toward the giant bug’s head, which leapt back a considerable distance to evade.
Having missed its mark, the halberd crashed against the concrete floor, and the explosive impact threw up a cloud of dust which briefly obscured her vision. However, Rory easily pulled the half-buried halberd from the ground, then stepped forward with a cry of “over here” and stabbed its body with the spike on its tip.
Her blow struck true. It felt like she had made contact with a heavy slab of metal.
The bug’s exoskeleton was a thick plate of carapace, and while she could not pierce it, she sent it flying and knocked it to the ground. Rory immediately pressed the attack and delivered a blistering combination of strikes.
“Take this take this take this and die!”
It was very difficult to block each and every strike in the savage storm of blows she unleashed. The bug’s massive body quivered, as though it was afraid of her overwhelming destructive power, and its survival instincts sent it scurrying back to its companions.
Kuribayashi kept pulling the trigger, wiping out the smaller bugs in front of Rory. Now that her way was cleared, Rory charged.
“Tremble before me! Cower in fear!”
Rory stomped through the bug horde and suddenly turned, using the force of her rotation to reap a swathe through the bugs
She sent the bugs flying like she was shaking them off her weapon. The massive body of the spider bug was slowly exposed.
“Now! Open fire!”
Under Hazama’s order, flashing tracers lashed out in a rain of bullets as they covered Rory.
“Fire! Fire!”
The heavy machine gun and the tank cannon punched the immobilized bug’s carapace full of holes.
Rory and Kuribayashi backed off to avoid the explosion.
A mantis-type bug spread its wings to pursue them. Kuribayashi showered it in bullets, but the wounds it received were not fatal, and it immediately prepared to attack upon touching down.
Just as the mantis bug was about to bite her, Rory ducked aside, and once she recovered she immediately prepared to intercept an attack.
“Hmph, so you’re smart enough for teamwork. I can’t look down on you, even though you’re a bug.”
Rory turned at the waist and swung her halberd. The mantis bug leapt at her, and Rory waited for the right timing before hacking at it with her halberd.
However, the mantis bug suddenly flared its wings and stopped its advance. Having missed her timing, Rory lost her balance and cleaved nothing but air. Her black goth lolita priestess’ outfit blossomed like a flower with the force of her revolution, and Rory stepped boldly across the ground like she was dancing.
Carried by the weight of the halberd, she spun again, and then she took another step forward and accelerated her spin. From her steady, even steps, one could tell her toes were stably supporting her center of gravity, doubling the force of her spin, and this doubled destructive force clashed with the mantis bug’s scythe arms.
“Still, far too naive!”
There was a sound like metal striking metal, and the impact shattered the scythe-bladed claw which the mantis bug had extended for defense.
A solid hit. Hazama and the others believed Rory would win.
However, a rain of bullet-like interlopers fell from the sky and grazed Rory’s body.
She narrowly managed to avoid them, but the blow had done some damage to Rory.
“My left arm? Hmph, so be it.”
Rory paid her dangling left arm no heed. She might be a demigoddess, but recovering still took some time. She would not be able to fight if she waited for herself to heal. Thus, Rory abandoned the idea that she had ever had a left arm and her mind switched over to only using her right arm to fight.
“Alright! Come and… huh?”
The newly-arrived adversaries had the form of the crawling bane of housewives everywhere.
Both Rory and Kuribayashi blanched as they saw them. Their flesh was covered in goosebumps, and they suddenly broke out in a sweat.
“No, noooooooooooo!”
Rory and Kuribayashi wailed as they hugged each other. They simply could not overcome their biological reaction.
The kitchenbane bugs rushed at the two of them.
Just then, a flaming arrow flew out from nowhere and struck one of the bugs in the eye.
The oily bug was promptly consumed by flame
“Rory, Shino, leave this place to me, now get back!”
After nocking another arrow, the elf maiden Tuka drew the fiberglass compound bow (with mechanical pulley assistance) to full extension. As the most skilled of the three girls with housework, she did not hesitate in exterminating these pests and promptly pressed the attack.”
Acute-hno unjhy Oslash-dh jopo-auml yuml-uya whqolgn! Oh fire, cleanse and purify these vermin!”
Arrows loosed from a pulley-system bow could reach speeds in excess of 270 km/h, After being further boosted by the power of the sylphs, they pierced the verminous bugs like thunderbolts.
To Tuka, this was a recreation of the nigh-divine skill that her father favored. In addition, the power of the flame spirits wreathed her opponents in flame.
The bugs’ cries echoed throughout Arnus.
The bug horde converged on Tuka, possibly considering her a new threat.
However, Tuka pulled away from them with athletic moves.
The smaller bugs crawled all over the ground.
“Defensive stance!”
After that, on Yao’s command, the mercenaries formed their unevenly-shaped shields into a wall on both sides of her, in order to block off the bug horde.
They stabbed the incoming bugs with their swords while the JGSDF members spat fire from their rifles through the gaps, mowing down the bug hordes.
During this time, Tuka finished incanting a spell and released a bolt of bluish-white lightning. The smaller bugs were immediately roasted to a crisp. While it did not harm the larger bugs, the JSDF troopers were now free to focus their fire on the surviving large bugs.
After seeing how Tuka had bravely fought, Rory could not continue to be afraid.
As the cockroach bugs appeared before her, Rory raised her halberd and shouted, “Ahhhh, I’ll have Itami bathe me after this!” and hacked at the bugs.
A sickening sensation ran up her arm and Rory wrinkled her pretty eyebrows and shut her eyes. Perhaps she had anticipated this, but when she gingerly opened her eyes, she found that the bug’s fluids had painted her halberd a gruesome new shade.

The pellets from the shotgun’s muzzle raked the Dar.
Several small sphere’s sank into the creature’s flesh. However, the monster was covered from head to toe in thick fur, and it showed no sign that it had been hurt. After backing off from Itami, it raised its claws and bared its fangs in a threatening display.
“I didn’t expect to step into a post-apocalyptic movie here of all places…”
Itami took out a pair of shells and fed them into the shotgun. However, after seeing the small pellets in the plastic cartridges, Itami sighed.
“The hell am I going to do with birdshot!?”
Cut-down shotguns like these were often used by radical terrorists.
They were both easy to hide and did not require precise aim. They did great damage and performed well in close combat.
But in turn, they had a very short range, and they lacked punch. It was enough for humans, but their firepower was insufficient to take down monsters.
The Dar roared and leapt at Itami.
As Itami ducked the monster’s claws, he pointed his weapon at the monster and pulled the trigger.
There were two gunshots.
The Dar’s hide ripped open, and blood sprayed all over the surroundings.
However, the monster looked like it had merely been tickled.

The battle inside the dome grew steadily more intense.
The bugs pouring out increased in quantity and variety, and the winged bugs in particular seemed to be pouring out like a river.
The wire obstacles they had spent so much effort setting up appeared to be completely useless against the shelled bugs. The JSDF servicemen could no longer aim at individual bugs with their firearms, and could only shoot wildly in the general direction of the bugs. Even so, their bullets were not wasted, because many winged bugs were shot out of the sky and the smaller bugs were pulverized. There were so many bugs crawling around in front of them that they did not need to aim to score a hit.
The mercenaries held their shields in a wall against the shelled bugs that poured down like bullets. However, the bugs’ spear-like sharpened feet pierced the mercenaries’ shields and hit them, gouging chunks out of their chests.
The floor of the dome gradually filled with countless corpses of giant bugs. But the bugs crunched over the corpses as they attacked, and the mercenaries fell one after the other.
The JGSDF casualties outnumbered the mercenaries.
“Uwah, uwaaaaahhh!”
“Someone, get it off me!”
A trooper ran around, covered by countless bugs which then stabbed him, dropping him to the ground as he foamed from the mouth. This was no longer the sound of the troopers encircling the black hole and keeping its contents from spilling out, but the troopers being surrounded by bugs within the dome.
Shelled bugs flew over like bullets, and Tuka neatly shot them out of the air.
However, after bringing down the last one, she was out of arrows.
“Oh, oh no…” As she mumbled to herself while feeling around for an arrow, a winged bug pressed close, intent on impaling Tuka’s body.
“Look out!”
Yao pushed Tuka down to protect her. However, the bug stabbed Yao square in the chest.
Tuka embraced Yao, who had fallen face down.
“It’s just a flesh wound! Hang in there!”
But Yao did not respond to Tuka’s cries.

The mercenaries took a square formation to defend themselves from all directions. The JSDF troopers retreated inside the squares, and continued firing on the bugs that assaulted them. However, as the troopers and the mercenaries on the outside went down one after the other, the square began slowly shrinking.
Elsewhere, the bugs which filled the dome finally reached the outer wall.
They attacked the concrete wall with their sharp legs, chewing away at it like drills. They were breaking apart the dome to open a path to the Special Region.
After making a small hole, the bugs poured out into the air of the Special Region.
“Flamethrowers up! Sweep them!”
The NBC troopers waiting outside sprayed tongues of flame at the hirde, burning away the bugs swarming out of the hole. But the bugs’ insectile instincts made them fly towards fire, and they mauled the troopers even while wreathed in flame.
“Uwah, someone, help…!”
A trooper wearing a flamethrower was grabbed by a burning bug and burned by his own flames.
Under the mercenaries’ testudo formation, Hazama took out his wireless handset and shouted into it.
“Itami, hurry! We can’t hold out much longer!”

The monster’s telephone-pole-sized arm swung at him.
Every time the razor-sharp claws sliced through the air, Itami evaded them by falling flat on his ass.
I can’t kill this monster by keeping my distance and using this shotgun on it. After coming to that conclusion, the only thing Itami could think of was luring it as close as possible. However, Itami only knew enough close combat skills to fake his way through. While he was by no means an amateur combatant, there was no way he could fight a monster to a standstill.
“Cut it up and break its bones! ...As if I could do that! Uwah!”
Itami’s plan was to observe his foe and then rend its flesh. But he was just a little off in misjudging the distance, and the Dar’s claw was suddenly in his face.
He raised his arm to  defend himself, but the shocking impact sent him flying through the air and sprawling to the ground. The shotgun shell he had gone to so much trouble to discharge at point blank range merely dented the monster’s skin.
“Koff, koff! My ar’sm still attached!?”
It hurt so much that he thought his arm had been shredded. Yet strangely enough, Itami had not been harmed.
He wanted to stand up, but his body creaked all over. Still, it was not unbearable.
It hurt badly enough to make him clench his teeth, but Itami wanted to see what had happened to his body.
After that, fresh blood spurted from his arms, like they had been raked by the claws. He wondered what it was, and it turned out to be writing. The scratches took the form of words which appeared on his skin.
“The blood flowing within your body is mine. Therefore, your wounds are also mine.”
“Eh, Rory? Seriously…”
Itami thought back to when Rory had grabbed the same part of herself where blood had been taken from him.
“Try your best not to get hurt. A terrible fate awaits those who scar a maiden’s flesh.”
Itami knew why Rory had done this.
“Now I can’t even die or get hurt! I can’t believe that woman’s taking herself hostage like this!”
“Also: I can only take your wounds. If your head comes off, you’ll die.”
In other words, she was warning him, “don’t get hurt and don’t die.”
After loaded his next round into the shotgun, Itami face the monster. Its eyes seemed to be saying, “you’re a troublesome bastard.”
“Closer. Just a little closer.”
All he could do now was press his shotgun directly against the monster and pull the trigger.
Itami obliqued his body slightly, still staring the Dar in the eye, and waited for it to swing with all its might.
But the Dar moved with speed that could not be seen by the naked eye and ripped open Itami’s chest.
“Crap! Sorry, Rory!”
Itami pressed his chest and moved his legs.
Thinking that Itami was beaten and could not fight any more, the Dar gaped its maw open wide, prepared to crush Itami’s skull between its teeth.
“I was waiting for you to do that!”
Itami jammed the muzzle of his shotgun into the depths of the monster’s throat, and opened fire at point blank range.
The two loads of 12 gauge No. 6 buckshot tore through the Dar’s throat, pulverized its cervical vertebrae and penetrated all the way to its breathing center ― the medulla oblongata.
The monster stiffened up, and Itami kicked it with a great cry, sending it toward a fissure on the ground.

On its way down, the Dar swiped at Tomita, who was still clinging to his rope.
Tomita, who had very nearly followed it, shouted:
“El-tee! Are you trying to kill me!?”
Ah, sorry! Are you alright!?”
That was close. Next time, tell me if you’re going to drop something on top of my head.”
Itami shakily approached the roll of detonation cord and lowered it to Tomita.
After taking hold of the cord, he spliced it together with the fuses.

Countless bugs passed through the holes that led from the inside of the dome to the outside world, and then they spread out.
The troopers waiting outside used flamethrowers to keep the bugs from flowing out, but as more of the bug holes appeared, the men were gradually overwhelmed. As she saw more and more bugs escaping outside, Rory shouted:
“This is bad!”
Rory ran towards the wall, intent on keeping the bug hordes from spilling out. But Rory’s chest immediately gouted fresh blood, and she coughed up blood from her mouth. It was as though an invisible opponent had stabbed her in the chest. It forced even a demigoddess to her knees.
“Guh!” Someone stop them!”
But nobody answered Rory’s cry.
Everyone had their hands full just protecting themselves.
The bugs escaped the dome in incredible numbers. Countless winged bugs, shelled bugs and crawling bugs made their way outside.
However, it was immediately followed by a fearsome roar that drowned out all other noise.
The helicopters of the 4th Combat Group appeared, and they bathed the bugs emerging the dome in a rain of bullets.
“Kill every single one of them!”
Following Kengun’s orders, the UH-1Js harried the escaping shelled and winged bugs all over the place. Their wings and shells filled with holes and they went down immediately.
On top of that, the skies over Arnus filled with Wyverns.
“I have no grudge against you, but since you’re a danger to the world, I shall wipe you all out. Everyone, get them!”
After Giselle’s exhortation, the Wyverns plunged down.
Then, the Wyverns descended in unison upon the bugs leaving the dome, chewing and devouring them. The bugs’ numbers diminished.
“Don’t let a single one escape!”
As others took care of the bugs outside, Giselle ordered her Wyverns to work their way into the dome through the holes.
Giselle’s minions ― the Wyverns ― made it inside and laid into the bug horde.
As the tide turned, a look of relief came over Rory’s face, and she panted heavily while using her halberd to prop herself up.
Giselle walked over to Rory.
“Onee-sama. I trust my debt is cleared now?”
“Mm, that works for me.”
After hearing the answer she craved, Giselle clapped and exclaimed, “Yaaaay!” After that, she addressed Rory again.
“Also, ah, er… I’d like it if you could help cover things up a little. That way Mistress won’t scold me for helping you, Onee-sama.”
“Got it. I’ll take care of it. You’ll be able to return to Belnago with your head held high.”
Upon hearing this, Giselle clapped in delight once more.
“Wonderful! In that case, how about marrying Mistress!”
“No can do.”
“Cheh. How about free food and drink?”
“This is a demigod’s duty, right? Don’t get too greedy just because you did what was expected of you! I won’t ask about why you gathered so many Wyverns, so check yourself.”
“Eh, I guess I was asking for that. Got it. I’ll help take care of the rest around here!”
In order to avoid Rory’s doubtful gaze, Giselle assaulted the bug hordes once more.
Elsewhere, Hazama was helping up his fallen men, and he barked into his handset, “Say again?”
“What? Ten seconds!? Understood!”
He put down his wireless handset and shouted to his subordinates.
“Detonation in ten seconds! Prepare for the black hole to vanish!”
After receiving Hazama’s warning, the troopers did their best to stay away from the black hole. That said, the battle against the bugs still continued. Due to the intervention of the Wyverns, the battle became a deadlock, but it was not over yet.

Tuka did her best to drag Yao as far away from the black hole as she could.
“I, I’ll get a doctor for you right away. Come on, Yao!”
And then, a stream of 500 yen coins poured out of the skirt of Yao’s armor.
“These are… 500 yen coins?”
Her question was answered immediately.
“50 yen coins are better than 5 yen coins, so 500 yen coins ought to be better than 50 yen coins. And having more is better than having one, so I had the blacksmith fuse a few dozen of them together into a big medallion. That saved me.”
Yao looked up to Tuka.
“Don’t worry me. I thought you were dead!”
Tuka sat down hard on the ground, and punched Yao’s plump bosom. After that, Yao went “Guwaaaargh” and passed out from the commotio cordis.
“Hey, hey, hang on! Your wounds aren’t deep!”
Upon hearing Tuka’s voice, the JSDF medics rushed over.
“Her heart… oh no! Alright, get the paddles!”
They began cardiac massage to save Yao.
“What happened, Tuka?”
“Don’t ask questions with obvious answers! Obviously it was those bug bastards!”
“Ah, er, well…”
Tuka could not give a proper reply.

“Counting down from five!”
Itami retreated to a safe distance, then looked at his watch with Tomita and gripped the detonator tightly.
Tomita teased Itami.
“Hey, el-tee, how’s your chest?”
“Er, you mean this?”
Itami tugged at the shreds of his uniform blouse.
“I’ve been cursed.”
“Cursed? Don’t tell me you’ve confused it with a goddess’ blessing?”
“At this point, it’s a curse. It no longer has anything to do with my free will. And because of them, the I’ll miss the Summer Comiket and the Winter Comiket… dammit! But I won’t give up. I will go back! I’ll go back to Akiba and the Comikets!”
“But when I think about things that way, shouldn’t I be feeling happy at this point?”
“Really? Is it like that?”
“That’s how it is. You’ll be punished if you talk too much.”
“But it’s not like you totally refused them, right?”
“Well, I guess. It’s true…”
On the count of “zero”, Itami turned the knob on the detonator.

What would happen if one tied two rubber bands together, stretched them to their maximum extension, and then cut them?
The disappearance of the Gate was like the severance of the bands. In addition, the distortion accumulated from the creation of the Gate until the moment of its closure was discharged into the separated worlds all at once.
However, the earthquake this time was very special.
Regular earthquakes decreased in intensity the further one got from their epicenter. However, this global-scale earthquake’s intensity did not decrease at all, and the entire world shook as one.”
It was a 5(upper) on the JMA Seismic Intensity Scale. Its magnitude was incalculable.
The power of an earthquake was measured by the degree of damage it caused, but in this case it was not applicable.
This was particularly true in places where earthquakes occurred rarely, and whose buildings were not built for sturdiness.
The Japanese might have said, “whoa, that startled me” about the earthquake, but in other places it destroyed many buildings and caused destruction on a massive scale.

Italica, House Formal Manor

The two earthquakes had thoroughly crushed the fighting spirit of the combatants.
The earth had suddenly lurched up and around in all directions, and the soldiers were assailed by a fear not born of bloody battle.
In battle, one feared the enemy. By slaying the enemy and defeating them, one could conquer one’s fear.
However, humans could not do anything about natural disasters such as earthquakes. Thus, they could not conquer their fear with courage. Therefore, the soldiers could not focus on fighting.
Their surging lust for battle and willpower were extinguished as though by water, leaving nothing but emptiness in their hearts.
Once their spirits cooled down, it was very hard to fire them up again. The soldiers recalled the fatigue and pain they had forgotten during their frenzied fighting. And so the soldiers abandoned the thought of fighting, helped their wounded stand or supported them, then began returning to their own lines.
Pina’s knights streamed back to her side.
“Your Highness!”
“Oh, Bozes. Thanks for your hard work.”
The first thing Beefeater said when she returned was to go “Ahhhh, I’m so tired! Water, fetch me water,” before falling on her back in front of Pina.
“For, for you, Beefeater-sama.”
The command staff girls ran over, holding a tumbler of water. The girls’ faces were pale and their lips were trembling, probably because of the earthquake.
“Are you scared?”
“Yes, very scared, Beefeater-sama!”
Beefeater comforted the girl helping her up and patted her head as she surveyed her surroundings.
The knights, soldiers and demihuman warriors had returned. However, not a single one of them was unhurt, and they were like a scattered mob that could not even form up into a unit or take a formation.
“You think we’ve had it?”
“Certainly not!”
However, Pina’s strident voice slashed through Beefeater’s morose pronouncement.
Pina straddled her horse, her sword in her right hand and her left gallantly waving her flag, and everyone’s eyes went to her.
Even after the intense earthquake, Pina was still brimming with confidence, and as the men saw her, they too became brave.
“Your Highness!”
“Everyone, do not panic! A mere tremble like this is nothing for you to be afraid of!”
Of course, she was doing her level best to bear with her fear.
One could say the battle conditions were supremely unfavorable with the occurrence of this sudden earthquake. Pina had broken out in a cold sweat, her feet trembled uncontrollably, and her teeth were chattering since she could not close them completely.
If she could, she would very much like to flee immediately and stick her head under her bed. That was how frightened Pina was.
But Pina had learned. She had gained experience.
During the earthquake in the Imperial Capital. Itami had not shown the slightest bit of fear, and he had even laughed at it. Pina marvelled at how reassuring and heartening that sight had been.
“That’s the attitude a general ought to have in a situation like this.”
If the general showed no fear, her men could rest at ease too.
She ought to pass the reassurance he had given her then on to her own men. Thus, Pina grit her teeth and forced herself to bend her fear-stiffened lips into a smile.

On the other side, Zorzal was trying his best too.
“Fight, all of you! Hurry up and fight!”
However, his efforts were aimed in a different direction from Pina. All Zorzal did was shout at his generals and tell them to “fight, fight” in the hopes of stoking their morale.
“Why aren’t you fighting!?”
“Zorzal-sama. We can’t do battle right now. We ought to let the troops rest.”
“Yes. Even if you drive frightened troops to the battlefield, they won’t be able to fight.”
Helm and Mutra tried to express the fear which the troops were currently experiencing in words. They were not in a state where they could fight.
However, this was a ridiculous request in Zorzal’s eyes. That was because he felt that he had managed to bear with it, so it only made sense that the men ought to be fighting hard.
“Do you think Pina’s troops aren’t cowering in fear too? If the conditions are the same, then the side with greater numbers has the advantage! If we attack now, we’re sure to win!”
“That is true in theory. But when the men are afraid, they might rout because of small things.”
There were countless examples of frightened soldiers breaking and running throughout history. Frightened troops might take flight when they heard the wings of waterfowl or be unable to fight upon seeing an eclipse. In these circumstances, the logic of the more numerous side having the advantage would be very dangerous. Thus, it would be better to let the men rest and calm down before fighting again ― one could say that was a very sensible decision to make.
However, Zorzal could not understand that point.
“What’s that supposed to mean? Do you plan to let this golden opportunity slip past you? If this goes on, the main body of the regular government’s army might return!”
They were so close to a complete victory, but waiting here might result in that victory being denied; that frustration was what drove Zorzal. No, perhaps he had completely ignored the earthquake because the victory he so craved stood in front of him that. His troops might end up being completely immobilized by their fear of the earthquake if they stood still for a moment ― that uneasiness was what impelled him towards a final showdown.
“Silence! We will settle this once and for all, no matter what! Form the men up into units right now! Raise the banners high and order a full advance!”
As they looked at Zorzal, who seemed to be deaf to their pleas, Helm looked to the others and shook his head. We won’t make it ― those unutterable words circulated between them.
General Karasta stepped forward.
“Your Highness, we should at least try to persuade Pina to surrender.”
“Say what?”
“Perhaps your Highness’ valor is such that you have not yet noticed, but if the men are already this afraid, then what of the women? Surely they must be so terrified of the earthquake that they cannot even stand. Perhaps if you urge a surrender now, the foe might obediently comply to avoid having to fight.”
Those words seemed to have struck a chord within Zorzal’s heart.
That was because Zorzal knew that things would go more easily that way.
“...Uh, hm. Although, will Pina surrender?”
Helm stepped up to lend his support to Karasta’s idea.
“It is very likely that she will surrender.”
Mutra added his own support as well.
“It, it is as he says. If Pina-denka will not listen to reason, then all we will need to do is attack again. Until then, we should let our troops calm down.”
Zorzal nodded, a look of understanding on his face.
“I see. In that case, Helm; you will go to Pina and persuade her to surrender. During this time, Mutra, go sort out our formation and make our troops capable of fighting. Understood?”

As Zorzal instructed, Helm went to Pina’s camp in person to parley with her.
He urged his horse forward, and finally saw Pina’s troops.
In his heart, he believed that her men ought to be cowering in fear, but the unexpected fact was that all of Pina’s men were possessed of steely resolve and filled with fighting spirit. The fact that her men were in such high spirits despite their massive disadvantage made Helm feel that Pina was a superior general to himself.
“Marvellously done.”
They could win with their numerical advantage. But there would be many casualties if they brought frightened troops onto the battlefield, and the tables might even turn on them ― such was the morale of the regular government’s troops.
In order to completely triumph over such a foe, his men would need to have no fear of death. But how could he do it? Helm could not think of anything for the moment.
“As I thought, I need to get Pina-denka to surrender.”
Once he approached close enough to see the base of Pina’s banner, Helm called out to Pina.
“Pina-denka, this has been a long, arduous battle. Surely you’ve had enough? I doubt anyone will dare call you a coward now that you’ve fought this hard. They will sing of your Highness’ courage throughout the ages. Now is the time to sheathe your sword. I urge you to surrender.”
Her ranks were silent, and Pina replied:
“No. I will not suffer your existence any longer.”
“Why are you so stubborn? Do you not care for the lives of your people? They are all capable and fair; surely they have a bright future ahead of them. Do you not wish to help them?”
“Of course I do.”
“In that case―”
“It is because I want to help them that I cannot back down here.”
“Why is that? You must know that ahead of you waits certain death.”
“That is because if I let nii-sama escape, he will surely rally more troops for an uprising. When that happens, men will die. If we do not settle things right here and now, the number of dead and injured will only continue to pile p.”
“What are you saying? Can you not see the circumstances? Should you not be considering how to save your men? Why are you considering Zorzal-denka’s escape? In the future, everyone will look up to Zorzal-denka, and he will forge a new Empire, When that happens, who will rise up? Your worries are truly ill-founded. If you are willing to surrender, then the rebellion within the Empire will be at an end.”
“And then you will continue fighting Nihon? And then even more soldiers will be made to die?”
“About that…”
Helm could not deny that point. If Zorzal won, he would surely go on to fight Japan.
Having commanded armies against the Japanese, Helm knew very well what Pina meant when she said, “more soldiers will be made to die.”
“And then countless innocents will be drawn into the fray. All for the sake of a battle you cannot win.”
“Your Highness. No, it is for the sake of winning the battle. This sacrifice must be made for the Empire to triumph.”
“Yes. For victory. I am standing here for the sake of victory. I am driving everyone to the abyss of death and forcing them to fight for the sake of victory.”
“You believe you will win, your Highness?”
“Of course.”

His attempt to persuade Pina had failed. Completely baffled by how these royals did things, Helm returned to Zorzal’s lines with his head in his hands.
“Helm. What did Pina say?”
“Pina-denka seems to be in the grip of a delusion. She seems to believe that she can win if she continues fighting.”
“What did you say!? Has Pina forgotten even the basics of soldiering!?”
“I doubt Pina-denka is that sort of person.”
“She must have been frightened by the earthquake, which shook her and prevented her from thinking clearly. Helm… send Pina on to the afterlife.”
“But, our forces…”
“Are fine. The men are also prepared.”
“Come with me.”
He followed Zorzal out of the tent, where the troops were already in their ranks. Everyone’s faces was stiff, like emotionless puppets. He looked around and saw the corpses of several soldiers on the ground.
“May, may I know what you did, your Highness?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. I simply ordered Upson to strictly discipline the men and execute any soldier without the strength to fight.”
Kobold-helmeted men ran here and there.
“You! Your eyes aren’t shining enough!”
“You! Your back isn’t straight!”
All these flaws might be inconsequential to the people in question, but the oprichniki seized on them to stab the offending soldiers to death. They also shouted, “this is the fate of cowards, slackers and defeatists!” to intimidate the men.
“What do you think? The men are now ready to fight. Alright, Helm. Hurry up and teach Pina what reality is.”
Helm was stunned.
However, if this went on, those kobold-headed idiots would keep on killing the soldiers. That could only result in a defeat for the men.
Abandoning all delusions of control, Helm saluted, then mounted up and drew his sword.
“All forces! Advance!”
As the bugle was played, Zorzal’s troops maintained their neat formation as they marched forward, like a gymnastics team.

Pina gulped as she saw the enemy forces advance.
“So they’re coming, huh.”
“Indeed, your Highness.”
“Don’t worry. I’m with you.”
The staff girls gathered around Pina and drew their daggers. This was not so much to fight the enemy, but to kill themselves before they could be taken prisoner and violated, but Pina had chosen to have these girls fight the enemy instead.
“Emroy will gather the souls of all who die in battle. You must not kill yourselves.”
The girls had tied their daggers to their right hands so they would not slip free.
The knights and the soldiers from the various tribes flocked to her side, awaiting the arrival of Zorzal’s forces.
“It has been an honor to fight with all of you. My thanks.”
And then, Gray laughed.
“I didn’t expect you to talk like it was already over. What a surprise, your Highness. After this, we shall show you our true strength. To me, those words are not enough. We’re going to fight so hard you won’t be able to finish thanking us all in one night!”
“Hm. When the time comes, show me everything you have.”
During this time, Zorzal’s forces had approached until the faces of his men were visible.
Pina raised her sword to order an advance.
“All forces!”
But the other half of her command did not reach anyone’s ears.
There was a sudden roar as two F-4 Phantom fighters slashed through the sky from above Pina’s head.
The napalm bombs they dropped devastated Zorzal’s forces from the frontline onwards.
In their close formation, Zorzal’s troops had no chance to avoid the fires of heaven raining down on them. Until the moment they noticed the hungry flames filling the sky, they had not yet noticed what had happened, and so they died.

“Sorry for the long wait, my future lovers!”
Kamikoda whooped “Yahoooo~” as he pulled his F-4 Phantom into a steep climb.
The shockwave that the fighter-bomber left in its wake seemed like it would soar into the sky, and it pounded the eardrums of the ground-bound troops.

“Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho! “
“Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho! “
“Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho! Ho-jo to-ho! “

And then, the sneers of the Valkyries came from far into the east, accompanied by the beating of helicopter rotors. Things had happened so quickly that everyone was frozen in place, but Pina retained her senses.
“Right now! All forces charge! Do not let onii-sama escape!”
Pina’s order resounded through her forces. Under her command, her troops charged at Zorzal’s dumbfounded army in unison.


The squadron of UH-1J helicopters directed their machineguns at Zorzal’s army and raked them with gunfire.
The JSDF troopers within the aircraft used their own weapons to open fire as well.
Although Zorzal’s troops had clearly had it, Duran and his men alighted from the landed choppers and spread out to wipe out the stragglers from Zorzal’s army.
A soldier grabbed a riderless horse and said, “Your Majesty, I found a horse, please mount up,” and handed the reins over. This was the perfect gift for Duran, who had a bum leg.
“Mm, there’s a good lad.”
“Think nothing of it.”
Duran mounted up and called out to his surrounding men.
“Umu. All of you, gather all the horses without riders you can find, then organize yourselves into a cavalry unit.”  
The Elbe Kingdom’s knights scattered over the battlefield to round up the horses before grouping up again.
Elsewhere, Pina ordered Bozes and Beefeater to chase down the biggest concentration of Zorzal’s fleeing forces.
“Seize Onii-sama! Everyone, with me!”
After that, a UH-1J descended, advancing in line with Pina’s riders.
Behind Pina, Bozes’ golden hair was messed up by the downwash, but she nimbly controlled her horse, and as she saw the faces of Kengun and Tomita, she urged Beefeater to look to the sky.
Beefeater flailed both her arms.
Behind her, Bozes caressed her tummy and said, “Daddy came to save us.”

The Emperor lay on his bed, and Minister Marx and the head maid heard the sound of swords clashing from outside the door.
Due to the intense earthquake, the furniture and other items had fallen to the ground in a mess. However, now was not the time to worry about that. In order to ward off Death, who waited just outside the door, the knights’ heroic battle had decided the fate of these people.
Finally, with a sonorous crash, the door swung open.
The people who entered were a man and woman, both getting on in years.
The man did not close the door behind him. Though they eyed the items on the ground suspiciously, they still shrunk the gap between themselves and the Emperor one step at a time.
Aurea stepped up to intercept them. However, she approached them carelessly and the Givorgeoni woman lopped off her head while saying, “what a pest.”
Myui shouted. The decapitated body collapsed like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
She could see Shandy’s body slumped on the ground. The head maid called out to the head of House Formal, whose eyes were closed.
“Myui-sama. Over here.”
Myui grabbed her dolls and hid behind the head maid.
“Who goes there? This is the Emperor’s bedroom. At least state your name lest you be rebuked for your rudeness.”
And so, the man said, “My apologies,” and bent his knee, while he and the woman bowed their heads decorously.
“Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Haryo warriors and we have business with your Majesty.”
“I have heard of the Haryo before. What business do you have with me?”
The Emperor propped himself up into a sitting position and asked a tired-sounding question.
“Zorzal-sama has given us several orders. The first is to take your Majesty to Zorzal-sama’s side.”
“I cannot do that. Even getting out of bed is difficult for me.”
“Then we are bound to complete our second order.”
“And what would that be?”
“That would be to take your Majesty’s life.”
And so, Count Marx stepped between the Emperor and the Haryo man, his dagger ready.
“Impudence! Depart at once.”
“We cannot. We Haryo have made many sacrifices to come here. If we do not complete our mission, we will be disgracing our fallen comrades.”
“Hmph. As I recall, the Haryo are a race with the blood of many tribes. But they are nothing more than a ragtag bunch of misfits.”
“My, but you are well-informed.”
Saying so, the Haryo warrior tossed his glove at Count Marx.
Marx tilted his head and evaded it.
“What’s the meaning of this? Are you requesting a duel at this stage?”
“Of course not. How could we request a duel after barging our way into his Majesty’s bedchamber by force? We are the Haryo. Ultimately, we use underhanded, yet effective tactics. Fortunately, none of you here are skilled in battle. That will surely allow us to complete our task with a minimum of effort.”
At this point, Marx’s forehead began to glisten with sweat. He rubbed his eyes several times, as though he was dizzy. The way he wobbled suggested that he was having trouble standing up.
“It would seem the drug is about to take effect.
“A… drug?”
The Haryo lightly waved his other glove. A white powder lingered in the air.
“This is not dust. It is a special drug. Inhaling large quantities of it will retard the activities of the brain. When the composition is altered, it makes people more suggestible. A high dose will result in hallucinations and paralysis.”
The man’s explanation indicated that this drug was made from wheat mold.
(TL Note: Most likely ergot or the local equivalent)
By this time, Count Marx had collapsed to one knee.
“Alright… that leaves an old man, a maid, a foreign emissary, and a young girl. I hope you will not make me go to unnecessary effort. If you do not resist, we will not kill the girl as well.”
After warning the head maid, he raised his chin and ordered the woman: “Nora, go.”
However, before Nora could take a step, she collapsed after the sound of a gunshot rang out.
Sugawara, standing by the wall, was holding a pistol.
Perhaps the man was shocked by the sudden development, but his attention was focused on the gun that now pointed at him. In this moment, a scarlet lump fell from the ceiling, covering the man’s head.
It was a Medusa’s head. The man frantically worked his arms to peel off the thing clinging to his head, but Aurea’s hair-tentacles had already wrapped around his limbs.
“What’s this!?”
The man’s body began to swiftly shrivel up.
Using his essence as nutrients, the Medusa grew a body from her head.
As pleasure filled his body, the man had an ecstatic look on his face as he cried out.
Upon seeing him, the Emperor shook his head with a disappointed look on his face.
“I cannot abide the moans of a man in ecstasy. How disgusting.”
And so, the Medusa stopped feeding.
“Please do not stop!”
Looking somewhat deflated, Aurea asked, “What should I do now?” and the head maid replied:
“Aurea, finish him off quickly.”
In the end, the mummified man collapsed. In his place stood Aurea, who now had the body of a 13 to 14 year old.
“...I grew up.”
Myui mumbled, “that’s not fair” as she looked at Aurea. She had been almost the same as herself just now, but after seeing her suddenly grow up, Myui could not help but be envious.
“Aurea, put something on.”
After noticing where the Emperor was looking, the head maid advised her to get dressed.
Aurea did not have a nudity taboo in the usual sense, partially due to racial reasons. There had been cases where she had gone around completely naked if people around her did not tell her not to. She dressed in her maid’s outfit because people had told her that she had to.
“There’s nothing to wear.”
Her previous clothes no longer fit her present size. Looking around, she could not see any clothes to wear. Aurea had a resigned look on her face as she reached toward Nora’s corpse to relieve it of its clothing.
However, the Emperor stopped her.
“I do not mind you remaining in that state. The skin of a beautiful maiden does my eyes a power of good, That said, it is something of a shame to have you show your lovely body to others. Therefore, I permit you to use my dressing gown. Consider it an award for your good work.”
The Emperor personally handed his satin gown to Aurea.

In the manor house, whose ceiling and walls had collapsed due to the earthquake, the Haryo warrior Uxi swung his bastard sword like a madman.
However, the battle maid Persia’s defense was rock solid, and he could not bring her down.
After going several rounds with her, he finally managed to trip Persia, but he failed to mount her and chop her head off.
She evaded his stabs, and she deflected his swings with her tanto.
That was not all; when they connected edge on edge, sparks flew, but it was Uxi’s bastard sword that was damaged.
“Dammit! That’s one hell of a blade!”
Even though Persia’s face, shoulders and head were covered in grazes, she had avoided his blade by the narrowest of margins, or blocked them with the tanto.
In that case, he would make this a contest of strength.
Annoyed by the fact that she had deflected all the attacks he had made so far, Uxi gripped his sword in both hands and added his body weight on top of it.
He wanted to crush his way through Persia’s guard from head-on and finish her off with his blade.
Persia seemed to sense Uxi’s intentions, because she grunted through her gritted teeth and held out against the weight of the man attacking her.
Metal ground against metal, emitting a sound that hurt the teeth to hear.
“Just give up!”
“Like hell I will ~nya!”
Persia frantically pushed back with her arms, but she could no longer support Uxi’s bodyweight. The bastard sword slowly neared Persia’s throat.
“Die and be done with it! Put an end to it! Die so we can finish this!”
“No way ~nya! Ggggghhhhhhhhhh!”
Persia struggled against him as her sweat and tears flowed freely. The her from not long ago might have given up. But as she was now, Persia had a reason she could not die.
However, Uxi’s blade finally touched Persia’s throat.
“Damn youuuuuu!”
Persia gathered her strength and tried to force him back. But Uxi bounced with the blow and pushed back down on her.
Uxi’s blade finally cut into Persia’s neck. The warm, wet sensation of her skin being sliced through filled Persia with despair, and Uxi with a sensation of impending victory.
“Alright, now die!”
He wanted to force the blade further into Persia’s throat.
Persia wailed.
In that moment, there was a very satisfying gunshot, and Uxi’s head exploded like a smashed melon.
His brains oozed from a skull that was cracked open like an eggshell. Uxi’s empty cranium gushed a reddish-white paste all over Persia and he collapsed.
Shocked and frightened by the pinkish substance that covered her face, Persia wiped her face with trembling hands.
“Persia! Are you alright!?”
Kurata ran over. He was trailed by several other JSDF servicemen.
Kurata pushed aside the corpse lying on top of Persia and scooped her up into a hug.
“It’s me! Remember me? Are you alright!?”
“I, I’m alive ~nya… I’m fine ~nya!”
“That’s wonderful!”
After ensuring that Persia was safe, Kurata hugged Persia tightly.

The iron dragonflies dancing overhead disgorged enemies one after the other.
He had to take control of the entire army and withdraw in good order. After returning to his lines, Helm castigated his panicking men and ordered them to immediately take charge of the shaken men and calm them down.
“We’re going to retreat. We’ll fall back to Padbarcalei and regroup there.”
However, Karasta shook his head, a defeated expression on his face.
“Helm! Forget it. We’ve lost.”
“Not yet. As long as our army is fine, we can rise from the ashes! If I accept a defeat like this, how can I face Pina-denka?”
“Pina-denka? Not Zorzal-denka?”
“Oh, yes, Zorzal-denka. Is his Highness alright? Has he retreated safely?”
However, nobody could answer that question. The staff officers and his runners had vanished from the command post, and even the standard-bearers had thrown down their banners and ran away.
“Is, is anyone there? Where’s his Highness!?”
Nobody answered. At some point, the men around Helm had also vanished.
“Your Highness! Zorzal-denka!”
He frantically opened Zorzal’s tent, but there was no sign of the Crown Prince. The chair and military orders there had been cast to the ground. This tragic state of affairs could hardly be considered the orderly retreat that Helm was hoping for. It did not even have the organization one would expect from a military organization.
“W-why, why, your Highness! We need to withdraw in good order in order to rebuild our forces! What do you plan to do without an army!?”
The flames of the napalm bombs were gone by now, and the sound of boots marching in order came from the other side of the billowing smoke. Encouraged by the sound, a look of joy came over Helm’s face.
“Are there friendlies who remained in drill? Good, we’ll retreat right away! Who’s your commander?”
However, the people who emerged from the other side of the smoke were the demihuman soldiers. Beside the Hobbits marched Dark Elves, Six Arms, Dragonmen, Dwarves… it was a unit of many races.
Behind those soldiers was a red rose flag, the color of fresh blood.
He turned back, and saw King Duran of the Elbe Kingdom leading a unit over to him.
Helm shouted at the demihuman soldiers.
“What’s this!? You dare challenge me, a general of the Empire!?”
Helm drew his sword to scare away the soldiers approaching him. But he was completely surrounded, and the noose around him grew tighter and tighter.
“Dammit, in that case, Pina-denka! Fight me! Please fight me!”
Helm swung his sword at the demihumans as he shouted.
He slashed with his blade, he kicked their shields, he rammed them with his body. But he was just one man against many, and soon Helm was relieved of his sword and all his limbs pinned down.
“Pina! I, I challenge―”
A Dwarf warrior smashed Helm in the face with his shield, and his vision went black.
And so, the Elbe Kingdom’s troops faced down Pina’s men. The tense atmosphere in the air did not seem like something that should exist between friends.
“Pina-denka. I’m glad we made it in time.”
Duran greeted her, and Pina replied.
“Umu. We were saved thanks to your Majesty, King Duran.”
The tension in the air immediately evaporated, and the soldiers clasped their arms and patted each other on the back in celebration.

A unit of Zorzal’s army moved swiftly through the forest as they distanced themselves from the battlefield.
It was a small company of several dozen riders and another ten or so footsoldiers. Then there was the wagon, driven by Bouro.
“...Dammit! Why, why did things end up like this!?”
At the heart of his unit, Zorzal scratched at his head.
He ground his teeth on the back of his horse, cursing, “It’s all Helm’s fault” and “if only Pina weren’t there” and so on. Then he went on to “It’s because of those damn traitors. They bowed to the enemy and refused to fight fair”, and then he went back to “Hm, so it ended up like this. How did things end up like this?” He was going around in circles.
The soldiers all eyed Zorzal. They did not intend to rebuke him. They simply watched Zorzal, wondering what he would do next and where he would take them.
Yet, their neutral looks were like a mirror held up to the heart of the man who was receiving them.
Zorzal’s wounded pride made him feel inferior and dejected as the soldiers looked at him. He decided to press the matter.
“What are you looking at!? Do you take me for a fool!?”
“No, we aren’t looking down on you.”
“You’re lying. You’re despising me in your hearts, aren’t you!?”
Zorzal threatened the soldiers around himself.
“Your Highness. We have nothing but the sincerest respect for you, your Highness!”
Upson, wearing his kobold-head helmet, approached Zorzal’s horse and tried to calm the man down.
Since Tyuule was not around, Upson felt a certain obligation ― he felt that only he and his people could cheer Zorzal up.
However, Zorzal did not want words, but warmth. He wanted someone to forgive him, who would cunningly shunt the blame to someone else, who would encourage him and approve wholeheartedly of him. However, nobody could do that for him. Thus, Zorzal was incensed at his own sadness, and he revealed the ugly side of his anger to everyone around him.
The soldiers turned their backs on Zorzal, deliberately averting their gazes from him.
While this course of action was what Zorzal had sought, at the same time it was also a denial of Zorzal’s existence.
There was an indescribable sense of ennui among the soldiers. It was not hatred or resentment, but if one were to put it in words, it would probably sound like, “give me a break”.
Instead, everyone turned their eyes to the Primus Pilus Borhaus. He’s no good ― after seeing Zorzal’s true nature, Borhaus was the only one the men could rely on.
Borhaus ordered the men, “Everyone, let’s go.”
And so, this mass of broken men walked down the road which led them from the battlefield.
“Your Highness. What are you doing in a place like this? Did something happen?”
As he heard the sudden voice, a stunned Zorzal ordered a halt. The woman standing by the road surprised him, and he shouted:
“What, is that you, Tyuule!? Where did you go? I’ve been looking for you all this while!”
Tyuule had run away, so why was she here? Why had she shown herself at this time? Both Bouro and Upson were suspicious, and Borhaus stood in front of Tyuule and addressed her in a voice that nobody else could hear.
“Why did you come back? Didn’t you flee with the chef?”
“Why do I need to flee with someone like a chef?”
“What did you say? What scheme do you have in mind!?”
However, Tyuule did not answer Borhaus’ question. That was because Zorzal had already dismounted and run towards Tyuule, knocking Borhaus aside.
“Ahhh, Tyuule, are you alright?”
Zorzal seemed to have completely forgotten what he had done to Tyuule before as he embraced her.
“Where did you go? I was so worried when I couldn’t find you.”
“I’ve been looking for you all this while too, your Highness.”
Tyuule’s hands gently enfolded Zorzal’s face, and he looked on the familiar Warrior Bunny with a puzzled expression.
“What’s wrong? While I don’t know what’s going on, aren’t you being especially gentle? And you seem prettier than usual.”
“You’re so mean, your Highness. Does that mean I’m not usually pretty?”
“Er, sorry! You’re pretty enough most of the time, but you’re especially pretty today. They say women look prettier than usual because they’re happy or because something good happened to them. Did something good happen?”
“Well, something good did happen, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with your Highness.”
“Cheh, I’m starting to get jealous. So what’s making you glow today, hm?”
“It’s a secret~ Speaking of which, your Highness. What happened? Why do you look so ragged?”
And so, Zorzal explained, with a resentful look on his face.
“That idiot Helm lost. I ordered him to attack right away and fight, but he tried for a surrender and wasted valuable time, and so things ended up like this.”
“I’m certain your Highness was simply unfortunate.”
That offhand remark Tyuule had tossed off was nothing less than high praise for Zorzal, who was so depressed his face was buried in his own chest.
“Really? So it was just bad luck? So it wasn’t my fault. I’m not to blame.”
Tyuule answered Zorzal with a loving smile.
“Your Highness, a momentary setback is no failure at all, is it?”
“Even if I want to go back to the battlefield, I’ll need an army. But I have so few men now that it might be impossible.”
“Really? I don’t think so.”
“You do? Do you think I can rise again?”
“Oh yes. Although, you need to think about why you ended up like this. What else was wrong besides your luck going bad? That would be a problem in the people your Highness kept by your side. You need to remove the bad eggs and find new talents.”
And so, Bouro stepped up to second Tyuule’s words.
“Yes, your Highness. This defeat isn’t certain yet. As long as you’re around, gathering an army won’t be a problem.
Following which, Upson added:
“We oprichniki have been assigned all over the Empire, and we can ensure the compliance of the regional authorities. If you wish it, we can raise an army for you. You can rise again as many times as you like.”
However, Tyuule tilted her head and said, “Oh, really? Your Highness, do you think you can win while being advised by such people?”
“What do you mean?”
“Your Highness. Don’t you feel that you were defeated because of them?”
“Are you saying I was beaten because of Upson and Bouro?”
“Yes. Your Highness always wins his battles. Why should the cause for this defeat lie with you? Yes, this battle was different from your usual ones in only one aspect.”
“And what is that?”
Zorzal hugged Tyuule tightly, and as he gazed at her, Tyuule’s eyes seemed to be full of will as she stared at Zorzal and said:
“That’s because I wasn’t by your Highness’ side.”
Zorzal nodded. “Yes, that’s right. That was certainly true.”
Bouro and Upson held their breath. They felt that even Zorzal would not believe something as illogical and baseless as that. Otherwise, all the effort they had put in towards victory would be meaningless.
However, Zorzal swallowed Tyuule’s poisoned words like he was gulping down sweet wine to relieve his thirst.
“Yes, you’re right.”
“I was not by your Highness’ side when you were fighting. Why was that? Who did this? Was it not Bouro and Upson here?”
That too was a lie. The main culprit was Zorzal. But of course, they could not tell him that. Bouro struggled to find a line of reasoning he could use to plead his case.
“Don’t talk nonsense! You brought it on yourself! It’s because you sold out to the enemy and tried to leak out plans…”
“Oh yes, the traitor. Do you still intend to say you’re not to blame?”
Tyuule ignored Bouro and Upson and continued speaking.
“Your Highness, the two of them bullied me. Please help me.”
Tyuule hugged Zorzal’s head like she was cradling a baby.
Then, she gently patted his head.
She soothed him with sweet, gentle words, restoring his spirits. Zorzal closed his eyes as he soaked in this drug-like pleasure, and ignored every attempt to get him to return to reality.
“Your Highness, these people slandered me and called me a traitor. But if it was as they said, and if I had really betrayed your Highness, then wouldn’t you have won without me? But sadly, that was not the case. The blame lies with the people who called me a traitor and bullied me. Isn’t that so?”
“Hm, indeed. Tyuule, you’re right.”
Zorzal lifted his head and directed a razor-sharp gaze at Upson, as if to say, “where did you get this strength from?”
“All of you, apologize to Tyuule! And then, take responsibility for my defeat!”
But upon hearing this, Upson and Bouro reacted in a surprising way; they protested.
“Your, your Highness! You can’t believe the words of that rabbit woman!”
“Yes. You need to face reality!”
“Your Highness. Those people are actually saying things like that.”
“You pigdogs. Shut your disgusting mouths or I’ll strangle you.”
As their mouths gaped open and closed like goldfish, unable to say anything, Tyuule asked Zorzal:
“Your Highness. Why do you even keep these vile pigdogs by your side?”
Zorzal replied frankly. “I’m sorry. I was too young and headstrong. When I was young, I was obsessed with the brothels. I felt it was better to bed slaves and demihuman girls than arrogant nobles… so I often lied to others while I visited his brothels. But please believe me. Ever since you came to my side, I never once went to his brothels again.”
“Er, well, I did visit… from time to time.”
“And did you attack my hometown because they asked you to?”
“Um, yes. They tricked me and said Warrior Bunnies were special. So, ah, how shall I say this… I attacked your tribe.”
Perhaps spiritually weak people had especially sharp senses, but Zorzal realized that Tyuule’s body and attitude had stiffened slightly. It would seem he had angered her.
“Ah, forgive me, Tyuule! That was when I was young and foolish. I was too innocent and they tricked me, they deceived me with their flowery words. And I did meet you because of that. In that case, isn’t that a good thing?”
“You mean it isn’t a bad thing?”
“Ah. It became a war because I wanted a woman like you. But hasn’t this sort of thing happened throughout history? And it’s also because you were too beautiful.”
“So you’re saying that you wanted me so much that you attacked my tribe, then?”
It would seem that was what Zorzal actually believed.
“In the first place, it was all his fault. He didn’t play on my desire for pure love, or the desire to make the bunnies slaves. There was a deeper plot. Not only could the bunnies not bear Haryo children, but their queens were the purest of their blood. The Haryo could not tolerate that. Their way of life was completely opposed to the Haryo. It would be best to remove such rebels before they actually became a threat… is what he told me.”
“And naming me as a traitor to my tribe was because…?”
“Ah yes, Tyuule. He came up with that scheme so the bunnies wouldn’t unite around you.”
As Zorzal spilled his guts, Bouro broke out in a cold sweat as he stumbled back.
He moved back too much, and fell from the wagon-driver’s seat. He landed on his butt, waving his arms around and backing up as much as he could.
“Your Highness… what should we do with such wicked people?”
Zorzal immediately surmised the meaning behind Tyuule’s smile.
Tyuule glancing at Zorzal and Zorzal speaking her will through his mouth and treating it like his own idea was a very common thing.
“I’ve decided. We ought to rid ourselves of these villains. This is a time-honoured practice.”
As he heard this, Upson and Bouro blanched.
“Please, please wait, your Highness. How will you rise again without us!?”
However, Zorzal addressed the soldiers.
“Gentlemen, the responsibility for this defeat lies with these people. Of course, that implies it was my mistake for once taking their side. For that I must apologize. Therefore, I seek everyone’s help in rectifying this mistake!”
Centurion Borhaus silently drew his sword, and he surrounded Upson and Bouro with the rest of the men before awaiting orders.
“Tyuule. Do what you want with them.”
“In that case, please chop them to pieces.”
The soldiers immediately carried out the order.
“Your Highness! Please wait! Save me!”
Bouro reached out for mercy, but he was surrounded and stabbed repeatedly by swords. He collapsed to the ground, his arm still outstretched.
Borhaus looked at Zorzal and replied:
“Your Highness. The order has been carried out. What shall we do next?”
“Do as you wish. Thank you for your hard work…”
Thus, Borhaus immediately removed his helmet and cast it aside. His brusque attitude seemed to say, “I’ve discharged my duty, it’s no longer my problem.” Yet, nobody moved to stop him.
The soldiers following him cast aside their banners and helmets. They looked like they were done with being soldiers. They glanced one last time at Zorzal, who was clinging to Zorzal’s chest, and then left.
“...Is everyone gone?”
Zorzal, the only one remaining, pressed his ear to her chest as though he was listening for her heartbeat. It looked like he was calming himself down.
“Yes, they’re gone,” Zorzal muttered in a quiet voice. “Surely… surely your revenge… isn’t complete yet, right? There ought to be other villains to get rid of, right?”
“Oh yes. There’s one more person.”
“I, I have a request. No, I know I have no right to ask anything of you. But if that smile of yours is in the slightest way sincere, then please. Let me rest in your bosom… please.”
And so Tyuule said, “alright,” and kissed Zorzal.
Zorzal hungrily embraced Tyuule. But then he suddenly went “ooog!”, a gurgle coming from below his belly, and his mouth separated from Tyuule’s. Delilah’s knife was buried in Zorzal’s belly to the hilt.

There was no telling if the blood he was currently coughing up came from inside his mouth, or internal bleeding caused by being stabbed in the gut. Zorzal clung tightly to Tyuule with a pained look on his face.
His mouth was stained red as he embraced Tyuule’s head in his arms.
“Come, come die with me. You, you truly were the only…”
“No! I’ll never do it! I don’t want to die with you like this! I don’t want to die!”
“No... we…”
Tyuule could not possibly beat Zorzal’s strength.  Knowing she could not resist him, Tyuule slowly closed her eyes to reject the reality before her. And then, in her heart, she imagined the future she had obtained.
In the end, there was a snapping sound from her slender neck as it broke. In that moment, the world was filled with brilliant white light, and a hand extended to Tyuule from within the light.
“I’m here for you, Tyuule-san.”
“Please, come help me in my shop. Let’s start with picking the color of the wallpaper. What color would be best?”
“Light pink is good.”
“Thank you very much. It was really hard to decide.”
Furuta took orders in the kitchen and made food for the customers. Tyuule’s job was to receive customers, show them to their seats, and then bid them farewell. Then she would clear the bowls and plates and prepare to welcome the next customer.
They were busy days. They were also happy days. Tyuule’s joyous days gradually blurred together into a haze of white, and finally vanished.
And then, the eternal silence came. Tyuule’s smiled blissfully. It was beautiful.
“Don’t you love me, Tyuule!? Don’t you love me!?”
Zorzal threw Tyuule’s body aside, and then collapsed on his back.
“Dammit! What, what am I dying for…”

“General Hazama! A report from Colonel Kengun: we have exterminated Zorzal’s army, over.”
After hearing the report from his staff officer, Hazama and the servicemen around him cheered loudly.
“Excellent news.”
“Now, everything is finally over.”
“Umu. Indeed, it’s over. But frankly speaking, there’s a long way to go.”
Hazama looked back.
He saw the dome, so badly damaged that it had collapsed, as well as the wounded being carried away. At the foot of the hill, Arnus Town was completely destroyed.

The residents of Arnus stood dumbly before the rubble-strewn ruins of their town.
The fact that nobody had been hurt by the collapsing buildings was the only silver lining in a very dark cloud. Thanks to the monsters’ rampage, everyone had taken shelter in the garrison. But as they looked upon their wrecked town, they were at a loss for what to do next. Where would they sleep tonight? What about their food? Their jobs? They had lost them all in an instant.
“...It’s all gone.”
“What should we do next?”
“Right, right now, we ought to take stock of the damage. We need information. In any case, we’ll need to check the collapsed buildings, inspect the scene of the damage, budget for rebuilding… we need to meet to discuss things, but what can we discuss…”
As Diabo counted off the tasks which needed to be done on his fingers, he gave everyone instructions.
But by the time he reached his third finger, everyone had turned their backs on Diabo. That was because they did not need his words.
What they really wanted was hope. It was true that Diabo was being very realistic and systematic about the whole situation. However, that list of critical tasks made them seem so much more difficult when they listened to him count them off. As they looked at the great task before them, the wounded people could only sit and watch in silence.
How are we going to overcome this?
It was impossible. Nobody could do it. Those feelings left everyone dumbfounded.
“Oh, so you’re all here? Are you alright? Is anyone hurt?”
Itami and Tomita showed up, waving to everybody.
Everyone silently turned their eyes to Itami.
“What, what’s that for? What happened?”
“There’s no future ahead for all of them.”
Rory had a wicked smile on her face.
Tuka clung to Itami’s arm, as if on purpose, and asked:
“Hey, Father, what should we do? Everyone’s in trouble, how can we help them?”
Lelei rose shakily to her feet, and hugged Itami wordlessly and tightly.
“Huh, are you alright?”
“Not alright. I’m tired.:
Itami gently patted Lelei’s head. Then he considered that she was only 16, and then looked around to everyone.
“It’ll be fine, it’ll be fine. We’ll get through this somehow. You’ll get your previous lives back in no time. Ah, but it’ll be hard if you don’t pitch in and help, though. After all, I can’t do anything by myself. So please, help me out!”
Those words finally eased the worried looks on everyone’s faces.
“In any case, let’s start by clearing the debris and building places to live, even if they’re just little shacks. And we’ll dig out the food and other stuff that got buried.”
And so, the townsfolk began to work, as though they had suddenly remembered what they ought to be doing.
Itami sighed in relief as he watched them go, and then he looked back to Rory, Tuka and Lelei.
“Speaking of which, I noticed something… when it’s time to open the Gate again, you need to make a mark on the other world to find it among all the countless others, right? When did you finish that?”
Rory and Tuka tilted their heads. They did not remember making such preparations.
Naturally, everyone’s eyes went to Lelei. But Lelei buried her face in Itami’s chest, and she showed no sign of wanting to raise her head. Or rather, she had her face in Itami’s chest and was using strength to plaster herself there so she would not have to look up.
“Hey, Lelei. What’s wrong?”
Lelei did not answer. But the very large sweatdrop on the back of her head showed her inner panic.

Four Years Later

“Good evening, this is the 09PM news. During his trip to America, Prime Minister Nagakura began talks early this morning with the President at the White House. The talks concerned the Okinawa base. Prime Minister Nagakura cited the need for cooperation between the two nations and to reduce the strain on the residents of Okinawa in order to maintain the stability of East Asia as he asked to shift the location of the base there. Here we have the relevant data…”
Kuribayashi Nanami was a newscaster for the newly-established online news channel, and in the split second after she finished delivering the financial news and before they went to commercials, her tense expression softened a little.
Whether there was a problem with the recording, or if Sunagawa the cameraman had deliberately captured that moment, that instant of relaxation ended up being aired. However, her natural expression was more charming by far ― at least, that was what the audience comments flowing below her image said.
However, Nanami paid it no heed whatsoever and immediately bit her seductive lip, sitting ramrod straight as she looked straight into the camera and coolly delivered the next piece of news.
She reported all the information she received without editing it in any way. It was the audience who would decide whether it was good or bad. This was why she reported the news ― it permeated Nanami’s style of journalism, and the audience trusted her highly.
Perhaps she could do this because she was broadcasting online. Nanami had released all the news she had collected in an anonymous format. Anyone could question, discuss and refute it. When the information was biased, she would swiftly correct it ― Nanami was very quick to respond to the contents of her reports.
“And today’s hot topic is a discussion of the aftermath of the Ginza Incident, which has been heavily discussed on message boards. It has been four years since the Ginza Incident, and regarding expectations for the reopening of the Gate, there have been no signs that it has been opened thus far. A section of public opinion has expressed grave misgivings over the possibility of the reopening of the Gate.”
As Nanami read that part of her script, the news ticker underneath her displayed the address of the website and said, “Tokyo University Professors postulate that linking two worlds requires a crystal on both sides to serve as a marker. However, the closing of the Gate was apparently very rushed and there was no time to install it” as it scrolled across the screen.
“Indeed. Therefore, tonight we will be presenting testimonies from witnesses at the Ginza Incident and the Ginza Disturbance to verify the possibilities for the future. For that reason, we have Professor Emeritus Urushibata from Tokyo University to join us, as well as Professors Youmei and Hakui.”
In front of Nanami were the three men who had been invited as guest speakers for tonight’s show.
Teasing comments like, “Long time no see prof” and “Time for another brawl” scrolled across the screen.
“We also have Mochizuki Noriko-san, and our special guest Countess Sherry from the Imperial Embassy in Japan.”
This was followed by Sherry ― who had become even more beautiful after growing up ― hurriedly bowing her head.
The screen immediately filled with a blizzard of comments from what seemed to be Sherry fans, completely obscuring the screen. It was soon followed by comments like, “Your love for her is blocking her out.”
As Tozu watched the OLED screen, he said:
“Kuribayashi’s sister is as fierce as always.”
The small establishment was packed full of people.
Although there were several empty seats at the tables, they had “Reserved” signs on them tonight, so the place was already full.
“Katsumoto! I heard your confession crashed and burned!”
As Kuwabara mentioned something that ought to have been hidden, Katsumoto had nothing to say in his defense, only “Where did you hear that from?”
Furuta, who was serving food in small bowls, answered on his behalf.
“I heard it was from Lieutenant Yanagida.”
Katsumoto stared daggers at Yanagida, then shrugged. His eyes seemed to be saying, “Hey, I told you to keep it a secret.”
“Well, it’s a shame he failed, but I heard he worked really hard.”
Delilah was dressed in a beautiful kimono, as she spoke up to try and ease the tension.
The technique with which she put a steaming bowl of tea down in front of Katsumoto was very well-honed. Having worked at Arnus, it was second nature for Delilah. She blended in quickly after working at Furuta’s place.
“Well, maybe it was courageous for Katsumoto, but I doubt that helps with bringing in the star newscasters and assistant professors now, does it?”
“Speaking of which, what’s with you, Tozu? You’re living with your lover, so shouldn’t you be getting married about now?
The Kuwabara who was saying that had retired from the JSDF and now worked for a security firm while taking care of his grandkids every day. Yanagida handed Kuwabara a cup and said, “Here, have one.”
“Good evening.”
Everyone’s eyes went to the door that had suddenly opened. Nishina stood there in his uniform.
“Oh, Nishina, you’re here, and just in time.”
As Kuwabara said so, he hoisted a mug of beer.
“A souvenir from Hokkaido.”
As he said that, Nishina handed a Furuta a styrofoam box that had to be held in both hands. He probably meant that it should be shared with everyone, being food. The smell of the beach wafted out from it; perhaps it had been taken from the sea. Nishina took off his coat and handed it to Delilah, who hung it up on a hanger before carefully smoothing out the creases and then hug it on a wall. Everyone’s uniforms were on the wall.
“Welcome. Nishina-san, where are you stationed now?”
“Kutchan, in Hokkaido.”
“Hokkaido’s a cold place, right?”
“Yes, a very cold place. Furuta… it seems Delilah’s fitting in.”
“Well, it has been three years, after all.”
Saying so, Furuta laughed.
“Hey, Nishina, is it true Sergeant Azuma went to officer school?”
“Yeah, he’s currently in Kurumi. Everyone’s schedules clash, so maybe we won’t be able to gather everyone at once.
“Sasagawa retired and moved to Kanazawa, right?”
“His dad’s a craftsman, he said he wanted to help his dad out.”
“And Kurokawa’s working in the JSDF Central Hospital. They say she’s the head nurse now.”
“I wonder how the el-tee and the others are doing?” Kuwabara said as he poured the beer.
In order to lighten the mood, Furuta said, “this is what Sergeant Major Nishina brought, and then he placed a big gunkan tray of sashimi in front of everybody. This lavish spread was met by cheers of “ohhhh” from everyone.

“Your security’s pretty heavy, is there a hitman after you?”
The first thing Kanou ― who had retired from politics ― did when he got onto Natsume’s car was not to greet him, but poke fun at the amount of guards he had around him. Natsume had become the leader of the conservative party.
“This is quite normal already. After all, Prime Minister Nagakura’s approval rates are dropping fast. The dissolution of parliament is coming soon, and security’s starting to go mental. That’s why it feels so tight.”
“So, what is it today?”
“I want to to fulfil our part of the agreement.”
“That could refer to a lot of things Where will you be going?”
“First, to Ginza.”
In the moment that the Gate joining the Special Region to Ginza had disappeared, it had also triggered an intensity 5 earthquake on Japan’s side.
An intensity 5 earthquake did not affect Japan much. However, it had a grave impact outside Japan.
After all, there were places in the world where earthquakes had never happened before, and while it varied from country to country, there were even some nations which did not even understand the concept of shockproofing. They lived in buildings built of rocks or dried peat blocks, or used bamboo poles to substitute for steel rebar in concrete structures. Those suffered tremendously under an intensity 5 earthquake.
The international community realized something.
The Gate was very dangerous.
Even opening the Gate just once had caused this much energy… distortion to accumulate. In that case, what would happen if it were not closed properly?
“At the time, the whole world was suspicious of Japan for hardly being damaged at all.
“So that’s why things are like this… I heard our ambassador to the United Nations is having a hard time. Apparently, China and Russia are all saying that the Gate is to be jointly managed if it’s opened again.”
They could see the familiar dome in the middle of the Ginza streets.
“We doubled the thickness of the concrete dome to protect against dangerous bugs.”
“Huh, that’s pretty impressive.”
Their car entered the Ginza Garrison, and then the interior of the dome.
The iron doors closed, and the internal lights came on.
There were diamond fragments in the middle of the dome; half of a large diamond which had been broken up. Kanou brought his face near the white objects in the glass case.”
“Itami gave it to his mother’s legal representative.”
“Oh yes. For a moment I was wondering what it was. This is a pure crystal formed of a single element… it ought to be able to serve as a marker. However, the treasurers only think of profit and the rent is expensive.”
“Really now. In that case, all we need to do is wait for them to return.”
“Mm, all we have to do is wait. Then let’s go to the next place.”

Natsume and Kanou took the car to Akihabara next.
“Don’t tell me… it’s in this place?”
“Yes. After all, tomorrow’s the opening day, so if we want to scout it out, we need to come today, otherwise we won’t be able to look in peace.”
Kanou and Natsume entered the back door of this new building in Akihabara. The overnight campers were waiting out in the front for tomorrow’s opening.
“Overnight queuing’s supposed to be banned… well, that’s those guys for you.”
“The media poked fun at the idea of a national manga cafe, but we finished it in the end.”
It was a library of every single doujin that had ever been released. It was treated as an annex of a national library, but it was also a manga and anime culture museum which contained all sorts of anime recordings, anime cels, scripts and many other such articles.
Also, the three days from tomorrow onward would be the anniversary of its foundation, and there would be a comics market held inside the building. The people lining up outside were queuing for that.
“Thank yous. At least he won’t call me a liar when he comes back.”
Kanou smiled to himself as he saw the tightly-packed stalls in the sprawling event hall.
The circles and participants had already moved their wares in and were busy decorating and setting up their stalls in preparation for tomorrow’s opening. After their work was done, they greeted their peers from other circles, read the news, and the overall atmosphere was quite lively.
“Oho… they all seem quite busy.”
“This is my first time seeing this, but they all seem quite energetic.”
Natsume picked up a book in front of him, and opened it.
“Ah, this is…”
Kanou tried to stop him after he noticed, but he was a fraction too late. Natsume froze in place. He had opened a book of steamy man-love drawn for a female audience.
“It’s quite something, right?”
“Well, how shall I put this… I don’t really think I want to understand it.”
“Eh, I guess.”
“Now, Itami would probably like the stuff over on that wall.”
The nearby circle member did not miss Kanou and Natsume’s exchange.
“Ah, are you friends of Itami?”
“Mm, yes. Speaking of which, are you a friend of Itami too?”
“Oh, yes. Wait, are you Taro-kakka? And would that make you Natsume-kakka!?”
“You know us?”
“I’ve heard of you. Although, that would make things difficult…”
“Why do you say that?”
“You’ve come all this way, but we can’t give things out today. I wanted to give you something, though. What should we do?”
“Thank you, but it’s fine. I’ll come again tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow, huh. That’ll be hard on both your Excellencies. After all, the competition will be fierce. Still, I’ll hand it to Itami first.”
“Did you say hand it to Itami!?”
Kanou had no idea how the conversation had developed, and he began to wonder if the Itami being mentioned was the same Itami he knew.
“You mean Itami’s ex-wife, Risa, right?”
“Oh, right. Itami Youji… well, I haven’t seen him in a long time, but I don’t think I’d mistake him for someone else. That said, apparently Risa-san was really mad. When I told her, “we saw Itami,” she shouted about, ‘why didn’t you contact me after coming back!? Where are you, get out here right now!’ and then she ran off.”
“What!? That is to say, Itami Youji is right here?”
He was talking like Itami Youji was present in this very place.
“Of course. It’s not like there are other Youjis around… ah, he’s over there. Look ― hey, Youji~!”
The vendor waved ahead of him.
Of course, even his shout failed to reach its target amidst the hubbub. But thanks to the vendor’s cry, Kanou managed to spot Itami.
Yes, Itami was right there.
And he had with him a black goth lolita, an Elf, a Dark Elf, a silver-haired girl holding a staff and a red-headed princess.
After that, Itami spotted Kanou.
“Oh, wait, you’re―!?”
What are you doing there ― in response to Kanou’s question, Itami fumbled around for an excuse like a boy caught playing a prank.
“Ah, er, you see, we made a lot of mistakes while we tried to find this world, and then we realized that my memories ― or rather, my obsession, or my passion ― could be put to use. And then, I don’t know why, but the Gate opened here. It must be because ah, er, I wanted to go to Akihabara and the Comiket, I guess? I’m so glad that both the conditions were met… although, this might have just been another world that was very similar to the original one, so we just came to scout it out first.”
Natsume grabbed his head and groaned, “Ahhh, we spent four years of preparation and budget…”
After seeing Itami had not changed despite his long absence, Kanou relaxed.
“Is that so? So after trial and error, this place opened up… I see, so that’s how it is. This is the only place and the only time when both conditions would be fulfilled. And you call this a reconnaissance. Does faffing about in this event hall count as reconnaissance…”
How much do you like this sort of thing, anyway ― Kanou muttered.

And so, the story of their battles in the Special Region has come to an end.
Of course, their struggles have not yet ended. Just like in the history textbooks, peace is merely the brief period of stability until the next war.
Therefore, they are still preparing for the storms to come, even now. That said, the record of their activities in the Special Region comes to an end with this story.
“Thus, the JSDF fought here.”

The End

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