Kurisu giggled at Maihime in ecstasy. Maihime was clearly frustrated with her hands tied up and her vision stolen. Two Tokyo students stood guard off to her side.
They were in a hidden dorm inside Kanagawa, but it didn’t matter to her since she couldn’t see anything. The only thing visible to her was Kurisu and Kurisu alone.
Kurisu’s <World> toyed around with the prospect of object recognition. She wasn’t just limited to inanimate objects, though… With just a touch, she also had the ability to completely disable people’s ability to recognize the things around them.
Of course, the people in the room made sure to cover their scent. There was no way Ginko was going to find this place no matter how hard she tried. What’s left was just for them to wait until Kanagawa’s inevitable demise and for them to swoop in and save the day. They would then mix in with the Tokyo forces and sneak away undetected.
“I’m sorry for that, but I had to take you in quickly,” laughed Kurisu. “Ginko’s nose is quite scary, you know?”
In any case, seeing how Maihime couldn’t recognize her surroundings, it didn’t matter where she was. She could be in her favorite café for all she knew.
Maihime glared back at Kurisu.
“Oh my, don’t make such a scary face at me,” Kurisu said sarcastically. “Make use of your cute face, okay? It’s come to this, but you really are my favorite person.”
In order to cause Maihime’s downfall, Kurisu inconspicuously clawed her way up to become a Divine Pillar. Using her <World>, she focused on monitoring Maihime’s every move… yet it would be a lie to say that she wasn’t drawn in to her after all this time. Maihime Tenkawa was the real deal, after all. No one else in the world possessed her strength and leadership abilities. All the students in Kanagawa, including the other Divine Pillars, slowly realized this fact as they got to know her better.
That’s exactly why she was in such ecstasy. Kurisu wasn’t more powerful than the other Divine Pillars, but right now she had complete control over Maihime and of the situation.
“You know, once this mission is over, I’m going to graduate early and head inland,” she said, once again running her fingers gently along Maihime’s cheeks. “I’m getting the head’s approval for even more special rewards, of course. Let’s get along well inland, Hime-sama.”
“Shut your mouth!” snapped Maihime.
But that only caused Kurisu to laugh even harder, this time laughing so hard her back started twitching. Unable to bear the sight of her madness, the Tokyo students around her awkwardly looked away.
“You can’t be saying that,” said Kurisu. “With you under my <World>, you can’t see or hear anything but me, right? Of course, that includes Aoi’s telepathy as well. So, if I’m in a bad mood, I can put you in solitary confinement… forever. I wonder how long you’ll stay sane? Did you know? A death from solitude is far worse than a physical death. Maybe you should experience it for yourself!”
She gently raised Maihime’s chin before continuing. “That’s why… just say this to me: Kurisu owns me; I’m her property. With someone as innocent and as pure as you are… say these words to me. These humiliating words you’ve never once said in your life. Swear to me… or else, you know what’s going to happen, right?”
Maihime scowled. “Don’t fuck with me, you degenerate. Kill me? You think I can get taken down by some trash like you?”
“Well then,” said Kurisu gleefully. “I guess you asked for it.” She went to touch Maihime’s forehead with her index finger.
At that moment, however, there was a tremendous explosion in the sky.
“What?” Kurisu’s voice trailed off. Her head was suddenly throbbing with pain… she felt like her brain was turning into mush. She had to take a moment to compose herself through the pain before she finally understood what was going on. Someone had forcibly detonated all her bombs, since she felt the intense feedback of having that many objects in her <World> destroyed at once.
The sharp pain made her lose concentration, causing her <World> to fade away. And when it did…
“……………!” Maihime suddenly looked around. Her senses were starting to come back to her, and she got an idea of what had happened.
Seeing this, Kurisu’s face turned pale. Perhaps she had just realized what was about to happen. “H-Hey!” she said trembling as she retreated backwards. “T-Take care of— ”
It was too late. Maihime, who had been passive until now, suddenly thrusted her arms out. As she did, the metal handcuffs on her just ripped apart like paper. Her hands hit the nearby wall, brushing against Kurisu’s face in the process.
“Ughh….” A second later, the students finally reacted to her moves. They brought out their weapons in a futile attempt to try to take her down.
“Take this!!” screamed Maihime. Using her bare hands, she took down the students around her. Her movements weren’t actually too different from a child during its tantrum, but she was certainly no child.
As wild as she was, Maihime easily took care of the students. From having their jaws broken or their ribs cracked, the students were dropping like flies. One student was even hit so hard that he flew out the window and slammed into the ground.
Maihime didn’t even break a sweat. With the sun shining down on her through the window, she stood calmly in the midst of the carnage she just caused.
Kurisu, on the other hand, trembled at the sight of her, though she quickly composed herself and began to think of a way out. The handcuffs had been destroyed… Taking her to Tokyo would be near impossible… All the explosions she had planted had been taken care of… But, if it’s Maihime, then there may be a way to trick⸺
Before she could think any further, someone thrusted a blade at her neck, almost as if to cut her thoughts away. The death god had come for her life.
“You’ve gone and done it haven’t you Kurisu do you want to die or do you want to die in the most paintful way possible I’ll actually let you choose.”
Zakuro suddenly appeared behind Kurisu, forcing her raise her arms up in defeat.
It hadn’t even been two minutes before they were able to neutralize all the bombs. Zakuro returned with Maihime in her arms⸺ it was all thanks to Ginko that she was able to find her.
“Hime-sama!” shouted Ginko. She was half crying at the sight of seeing her.
Aoi joined in as well as the two made a mad dash for her. “Tenkawa!”
“Sorry I made you all worry…”
“No way!” said Ginko. “That’s not something you should apologize for!”
“Exactly!” shouted Aoi. Looking at Zakuro, she suddenly thought of something. “Ah, Otonashi, where’s Nabariya?”
Zakuro averted her eyes from Aoi. “I wanted to destroy her but Hime-sama stopped me so for now I just tied her up and stashed her in the barracks real quick we can decide on what to do with her later but more importantly…” In the midst of her sentence, Zakuro disappeared.
About ten seconds later, she returned holding a large sword in her right hand and a bag containing Maihime’s uniform in her left.
“… There are things we must take care of.”
Zakuro stared out to the horizon upon saying that.
“Yeah… Exactly. Thanks, Zakuro,” said Maihime. She took out her large overcoat from the bag and flung it around her shoulders. She too looked out as she took her sword.
In the meantime, Ginko had already transformed. “Well then, let’s go too,” she said, nodding.
“As a leader it’s too shameful for me not to be on the battlefield,” agreed Zakuro.
Maihime nodded as well. “Take care. I’ll be out there soon enough.”
Ginko and Zakuro quickly spoke to Shino before leaving.
“It hurts me to say this, but take care of Hime-sama, Shino.”
“Yeah it really hurts me too but I see that you are quite skilled so please don’t let anyone lay a finger on her.”
“You two…” said Shino halfheartedly, but it was too late. Ginko had already leapt out and Zakuro vanished into thin air.
“Yeah, take care of me, please,” joked Maihime.
Shino reluctantly sighed. She just unknowingly asked the person who came to kill her to take care of her. Well, of course she wouldn’t have known that.
“Aoi… Let me talk to them?”
“Sure,” replied Aoi, reaching out her hand.
Maihime grabbed onto her hand, took a deep breath, and shouted, “WE ARE THE SWORDS OF THIS CITY!”
Shino heard her voice from both his ears and inside his head. In response, the students in the front lines and in the city yelled out to hype themselves up.
“We are in perilous times, my friends,” she continued. “There’s a lot of those <Unknowns> out there. However, we will neither falter nor retreat, for we have no place to go but forward. There will be madness… And there will not be cowardliness⸺ We will not fall back.”
At the end of her speech, Maihime gave a little grin. “Okay? How’s that? Sounds fun, right?”
The students all cheered once more.
“Alright! Let’s show them what we’ve got! In this fight, they’ll come to understand our pride! Our power! And our resolve!”
The student’s cheers were so loud this time it shook the air around them, just like how the <Unknown’s> roar did earlier. The very same students who had been frightened by them and the random explosion were now more pumped than ever to charge into battle.
Maihime, now satisfied with her little speech, nodded as she turned her attention to the Triton class, who seemed to split the ocean apart with just its presence.
“Let’s go too, Shino.”
“Hmph! Fine. I’ll accompany you just this one time.”
Maihime smiled. “Alright, nice. Let’s go save the world one more time today.”
The two leapt off the roof towards the battlefield.
It was now 2:40 PM. The battle between the humans and the <Unknowns> was about to begin near what was once Yokohama. Shino stood a bit behind the predetermined intercept point where Kraken class <Unknowns> came into view.
From the looks of it, the Kraken class <Unknowns> were about twenty meters tall, with its overall size similar to that of a cruiser. Their backs were filled with disfigured and swelled lumps, which seemed to move around before being fired off. Soon, the lumps quickly took on their humanoid forms.
They were similar to the others in that it was hard to tell if they were biological or mechanical. However, from the looks of it, they did seem to be the mothers of the <Unknowns>, or maybe just their transport carriers, depending on what they were viewed as.
The forward unit of the <Unknowns> consisted of ten Kraken classes and 400 Ogre classes. Ginko and Zakuro’s units combined had about 200 students, so they were at a disadvantage strictly from a numbers point of view.
But the students were able to see something that the previous generations could not… their <Worlds>. Without it, they could hardly put up a fight. With it, they could win.
Ginko and Zakuro’s units began the attack. Some students were riding on blocks floating above the sea, while others were straight up running on water. The students went for flanks around the Kraken classes.
Of course, the <Unknowns> didn’t just sit idly by while the students approached. The Kraken classes released their arm-like things that expanded at the tips as they went to crush the students buzzing around the ocean. Furthermore, more and more humanoid <Unknowns> dispersed from their backs just as the students got close enough for hand-to-hand combat.
In an instant, the calm ocean had turned into a violent battlefield. The various auras from the students brightly illuminated the ocean, while the <Unknowns> shot out their bullet-like things with a thunderous roar.
“Hey, Shino,” said Maihime. She stood a bit off to the side of Ginko’s troops, and like many others, she was using a block to traverse the ocean.
“What is it?”
“It just came to me that I forgot to thank you… I heard everything from Zakuro. Shino… you led the others to help save me, right?”
Shino gazed out at the <Unknowns>. “I just happened to come across the situation,” he said, unsheathing his sword. Far off in the distance, the very front liners had already began lopping off the heads of the <Unknowns>.
As he peered out, an image of the entire ocean battlefield suddenly popped into his head. From it, he was able to know the positions of both the students and the <Unknowns>. It was probably from Aoi… she must have returned back to headquarters and shared the state of the battle with everyone.
“So? What’d you think about my city?” asked Mahime.
“… It’s not bad,” he replied. “The forward units bravely dashed into battle, and from the back Yaegaki shared some important information. Kanagawa is quite powerful.”
Shino didn’t know how many people Aoi could communicate with at once, but even if she was limited to just a handful of people, that in itself was a huge advantage in the field of battle. Both Ginko and Zakuro fully abused that power. Ginko went all out jumping to spots with the highest density of <Unknowns>, and Zakuro did the same with her speed and quickness. It must have been quite difficult for the <Unknowns> just to fight the two of them.
“Exactly! Everyone… I’m so proud of them. They’re all my trusted friends.”
“Ah, but…” Shino focused on the image in his head. Everything was going smoothly so far… but in the far back, a one hundred meter Triton class <Unknown> approached ominously. It’s body was so extraordinarily large that it reminded Shino of a destroyer. Its size easily dwarfed the already large Kraken classes, and it had lumps in its skin as well, presumably humanoid <Unknowns>.
The Triton class was just on a whole new level in terms of strength. There really weren’t any efficient ways of killing it, and it seemed like the outcome of this battle relied solely on whether or not they could take it down, but that’s exactly why Shino and Maihime were positioned where they were.
“I’ll give you your space. You should have no problems with that, right?” said Shino.
“Of course not!”
“Alright, then go wild,” said Shino. “Just do your thing— you don’t have to worry about anything other than that. I’ll back you up.”
“Okay!” nodded Maihime.
Shino took a good look at the humanoid <Unknowns> packed tightly in front of him. Tsk. He drew up his aura and his sword began to light up. A single swing of his sword sent out over a hundred slashes at once, and he instantly cut down the <Unknowns> in his field of view.
Despite the many <Unknowns> in the sky, Shino was successful in clearing out a path. Maihime took this opportunity and slipped right into the newly created empty space. Shino did the same, following her by jumping on both the blocks and the bodies of the dead <Unknowns>.
Soon, the two pulled ahead of the front lines and stood face to face with what had to be the enemy’s general… the Triton class. Even worse, there was a field of <Unknowns> next to it. There were so many Shino didn’t even bother counting them. Despite that, and the fact that he was only with Maihime, Shino surprisingly felt no fear at all.
He felt confident in not only his own power, but in Maihime’s as well. In that moment, he felt invincible with her.
Tsk. Shino suddenly frowned. Maihime Tenkawa was supposed to be the person he was going to kill. He knew this, but he had grown fond of her presence. Before he knew it, he no longer felt any malice towards her, and he certainly didn’t want to hurt, much less kill, her.
“Shino!” Maihime felt invincible as well. She grinned and jumped towards the Triton class. Countless <Unknowns> quickly dashed in front of her.
“Don’t even try, you monsters. You fools don’t even have the right to go against her.” Shino took another good look at them. With his sword once again glowing brightly, he sent slashes to both the Ogre classes and the Triton class <Unknown> simultaneously.
A bunch of <Unknowns> were once again instantly killed, and their dead bodies dropped into the ocean. However, Shino’s attack did at most minimal damage to the Triton class, who just seemed to brush it off. Even if Shino’s Utsuhami could reach it, he knew that it was lacking power to do any significant damage.
The Triton class’s armor was too tough. There was no way he could take it down alone. From the moment he felt his attack hit though, Shino knew… He knew that there was someone else around that could break through it.
“TAKE THIS!!!!!!!!!!” Because of Shino’s support, Maihime got a clear shot to it. She tore off a chunk of its armor with a swing of her big sword. However, even she wasn’t powerful enough to take it down in one hit. It shot out multiple arms from its body in response and went for its own attack.
Maihime quickly jumped out of the way and defended herself against the incoming arms. Shino anticipated her movements and supported her with strikes of his own. They continued to put on the pressure like this, and after a while, they were slowly but surely damaging it.
Of course, this was the first time that Shino and Maihime actually fought together like this. They both had the same information sent over from Aoi, but not once did they plan their attacks out with each other. Usually, this would never end well, but somehow their movements were perfectly synchronized. They were like long lost twins, or maybe even friends who had not seen each other for over ten years…
“You’re amazing, Shino! This is the first time I’ve done such a thing!” Maihime shouted cheerfully after their many attacks.
“That’s a given,” said Shino. How long do you think I’ve observed you for? Shino had been observing Maihime so much that she even appeared regularly in his dreams. It was no surprise that Shino could predict Maihime’s every move.
“Alright, going one more time!” Maihime kicked off and swung at the Triton class once again. Her attack tore off another large portion of its armor, revealing weird mixes of both metal and organic matter inside.
Needless to say, it let out a wild shriek. Some gas-like substances began to emit from its wound that went straight for Maihime.
“What the—” she shouted. She didn’t have time to fully react as she frantically tried to cover her face. She could feel her energy slip away, and she soon tumbled down into the ocean.
“Tenkawa!” Shino’s heart sank. Without thinking, he made a mad leap towards her, but an <Unknown> got in his way. It didn’t matter much though, as he quickly crushed it with one hand.
Luckily, Maihime had dropped onto a block instead of straight into the water, but the Triton class wasn’t done with her yet. This time, a single gigantic armored arm stretched out from its body.
“Damn!” shouted Shino. His eyebrows twitched unconsciously. With his strength, there was no way he could cut down the arm in time. He hesitated, and in that moment, the arm went straight for the kill. It seemed that the Triton class had its sights on Maihime all along.
Shino cursed in anger. He sheathed his sword back before jumping straight at it. He had to use it, but it was the only move he didn’t want to use. It was his trump card to end all trump cards… his final move that was meant to kill Maihime.
Speaking of which, the whole situation was pretty messed up. Shino didn’t even need to move a muscle. If he just let this Triton class do its thing, he would be able to accomplish his mission without casting any suspicion to himself.
But, what was this feeling? His body instinctively jumped towards the Triton class the moment he saw Maihime in trouble. He was ready to use it.
“Art of the Longsword 3: Chigasane,” he whispered. He pulled out his sword in one swift motion for an attack. This was his ultimate move, but what he did was just a regular slash. Its power didn’t increase, and as expected, it only did a minimal amount of damage to the Triton class.
With that being said, his technique wasn’t just limited to one slash.
“HAHHHHHHHHHHH!” Shino’s sword began to glow brighter and brighter. It was true that a single slash didn’t have much effect on its armor. However, if he repeated that slash for a thousand or more times in the exact same spot and at the exact same time, then clearly the result would be different. Chigasane… there was no one in the world who could stop it. It was, quite literally, an unstoppable attack.
The Triton class’s armor broke away in an instant. Shino aimed for the root of the arm, or the bow if it was a ship, and cleanly sliced it off. When he was done, his sword couldn’t handle the burden of the attack, so it crumbled into little pieces.
Tsk. Shino had anticipated this. He tossed what was remaining of his weapon and swooped up Maihime just in time. If he had jumped out a split second later, the portion he had just cut off would have crushed them. Instead, it dropped into the ocean with an explosive splash.
“Tenkawa! Are you okay?” he shouted.
“Yeah… sorry about this,” she said with a weak smile. “It’s my bad…” She wasn’t wounded, but her eyes were swelled to the point where she couldn’t even open them.
Despite Shino’s ultimate move, the fight was far from over. Even though he had sliced what looked to be its head straight off, it screamed from somewhere in its body and began to go wild.
Shino’s eyes widened just looking at it. Even though the <Unknowns> were truly mysterious, he didn’t think that there was anything out there that could still live without its head.
Without his weapon and Maihime’s ability to see, the two were truly in a dire situation. There was only one thing left he could do.
“…Tenkawa. Can you still use your weapon?” he asked.
“Yeah I can…” she said warily. “It’s just that my eyes won’t open, so it’ll be hard to hit anything…”
“Don’t worry. I’ll lend you my eyes… they’re special.”
“It’s okay,” said Shino, grabbing onto both of her shoulders. “All you have to do is to swing that sword. Everything beyond that is on me… If it can be seen, it can be hit.”
Like always, Shino focused on seeing the target. He could touch whatever he saw… but his <World> wasn’t just limited to himself.
“Go for it, Tenkawa.”
“Got it!” said Maihime. Using her aura, she started to draw massive amounts power into her sword. In fact, it was so much power that her sword started to crack. Just like Shino’s sword earlier, her sword seemed like it couldn’t handle the power she was putting into it, causing it to break down.
Actually, no. The pieces of her sword didn’t crumble and break away. Instead, her ridiculous aura forcibly held all the pieces together. Her aura even caused the sword to grow even larger, creating the largest blade Shino had ever seen. On top of that, it didn’t just stop at the blade. It stretched out so far that even Shino was engulfed in it.
Maihime’s power was so overwhelming that Shino was struggling to stay conscious just by being near her. However, he didn’t lose his grip on her shoulders, nor did he waver. He knew that he just had to keep his eyes on the enemy… Maihime would handle the rest.
“TAKE THIS!!!!!!” screamed Maihime, slamming her sword down with intensity.
In the blink of an eye, the towering Triton class in front of them split straight down the middle.
In the end, the students of Kanagawa successfully repealed the two large waves of <Unknowns>. News of Maihime and Shino taking down the Triton class quickly spread to headquarters, where Aoi had relayed that information to everyone in the city. Upon hearing their heroic deed, the students cheered and fought harder in battle.
The <Unknown’s> formation relied heavily on the Triton class. When it was taken down, the remaining Kraken and Ogre classes quickly retreated back to the gate where they came through.
“Yo!” said Maihime. She still couldn’t see anything with her swelled up eyes.
Shino didn’t respond. He was on his way back to the city with her in his hands. When he got back, the students waiting for their return were shocked to see him carrying her, but quickly greeted them as if they were heroes after a successful raid.
Within those students, Ginko and Zakuro dashed up to the front.
“S-Shino, what’re you doing? What’s going on?” shouted Ginko. “What happened to her?”
“I thought I told you to keep her safe!” blurted Zakuro.
Maihime was having none of it, however. “Stop it, you two. Shino saved my life. Right, Shino?”
“Not really…” he muttered. “I just happened to come across her…”
“Thanks, Shino,” she said giggling. She wrapped her arms around his neck.
Shino stayed expressionless; The people around him were not.
“Damn it…!” said Ginko as her face turned red.
Zakuro’s face blushed as well. “T-That’s not fair Shino please switch with me please please.”
Even though they had all risked their lives in battle minutes earlier, it was a surprisingly cheerful scene. Not all of the students were in a good mood, however. There was one person watching from afar with her cold eyes. She scowled at the sight of Shino holding Maihime in his arms.
“You can’t be doing that, Shino… You ruined the perfect chance,” she grumbled to herself. “Though, you’ll be dead soon, Hime… I’ll be sure of it.”
She headed off without saying another word.