Chapter 253: Effort To Capture An Old-World Connector
The powered suits that Olivia had cut down worked together with the drones, which were attempting to encapsulate her in forcefield armour. The closer they got; the faster Olivia cut them down. However, they forced their way through with sheer numbers and finally got Olivia within their range.
The thick spear-like rods expanded the forcefield armour. The normally thin plate-shaped forcefield turned into a thick wall with energy supplied from the powered suits. They only became thicker as they put layers on top of layers of forcefield armour. By doing so, the air suddenly turned stiff as if it was suddenly turned into glass, thus, capturing Olivia inside of it.
Shirou was able to get away from that trap but only barely. Before Olivia got herself trapped inside, she threw Shirou off. But the other drones took that opportunity to quickly surround Shirou and trapped him inside another forcefield box.
As Shirou hit the forcefield wall, producing a scowl, a voice could be heard coming from a nearby drone.
"Please wait for a bit there. We’ll pick you up immediately. We don’t recommend trying to break the forcefield box from the inside. There is a risk that the shrapnel might hit you."
Shirou frowned and rubbed his head, he looked up at the flying drone and smiled at it.
"…In that case, you should have changed it to a forcefield type that won’t create shrapnel. I know this device can at least do that much. Just consider what might happen if I run out of patience. If it’s too much work to change the settings, I can help you, you know?"
A weirdly mocking tone replied to that suggestion,
"No, thank you. There’s a chance that you would hack the device instead. If I may add one more thing, this drone is already adjusted for external communication in order to capture you, so you can go ahead and try your best, though I don’t think it’ll give you any satisfying results."
Shirou’s expression once again turns dark. He was actually trying to hack the drones using an external connection just like what he did back in the inter-city transport vehicle.
"And also, just be patient. If you can’t stay calm, we’ll narrow the box to crush your legs and arms. After all, that is safer for you instead of having you hit by shrapnel. So just stay put."
Shirou started to feel desperate as he looked for a way to get out of that situation. He did feel a bit of regret telling Olivia to be careful with the pursuers, but it was already too late to think about that now. He placed such thoughts aside while desperately looking for a way to get out. Unfortunately, nothing good came up.
The rescue team that had already secured Olivia and Shirou moved on to removing their next worry. With Shirou separated from Olivia, they now could use their full power to destroy Olivia. The drones and the powered suits changed their weapons from the ones to capture Shirou to their normal weapons and aimed their huge cannons at Olivia. They opened up some distance from Olivia and readied their weapons. They made it such that they could shoot her down at the same time the forcefield armour disengaged.
Although some of the pilots there were curious about the real identity of that maid, none of them suggested capturing her alive. Everyone there understood that their first priority was to disarm the maid. The pilots of the powered suits that were using their forcefield armour to trap Olivia escaped from their powered suits and left the area to get away from the prepared simultaneous barrage.
Seeing those pilots leaving their powered suits, Shirou thought that it might be his chance to hijack those powered suits, but he was not able to. All of them were already under full lockdown, so they no longer accept any connection from the outside. Shirou hit the transparent wall and shouted at Olivia.
"…Dammit! Hey!! I’ve paid you 5 million Chrome, you know?! Do something about this!"
It was close to a desperate whine. With his voice not able to propagate through the forcefield armour, what he was doing was in vain.
Or so it should have been, but Olivia replied through the old-world domain connection.
"Even if you tell me so. I’ve done enough for what I’ve been paid already. It is equal to only this much, you see."
Shirou raised his eyebrows. He did not expect Olivia to reply. But his expression quickly turned stern as he hopefully asked a question.
"…So, the problem is only money, huh? Is it okay if I interpret it as such?"
"Indeed, it also means that I’m willing to work more if you’re willing to pay me more."
Olivia’s casual answer gave Shirou a glimmer of hope. He hesitated for a bit but eventually, he annoyedly said to Olivia.
"…Alright, I get it already!! I’ll pay you 10 million Chrome more!! That’s all I have and you can have all of it! There! I’ve transferred the extra payment!!"
Inside the forcefield trap that should not allow any movement, Olivia smiled. Right at the next moment, the sound of crackling occurred. It was like glass was breaking and it would be loud enough to echo through the area.
Olivia caused the drones to maximize its power output to forcefully break through the forcefield trap. The drones that were too close got trapped inside and started to slowly move as if they were breaking through a fragile glass case.
The powered suits that were already aiming at Olivia quickly reacted. They were in the middle of adjusting their timing to simultaneously lower the forcefield armour and shoot at Olivia, but since Olivia suddenly made her move, they quickly started shooting at her. Although their firepower was lowered since they were in the middle of adjustment, the cannons that they released were by no means weak. Cannon fire combined into a very bright high intensity pillar of light that evaporates everything in its way, headed straight at Olivia.
As expected, Olivia did not have the chance to evade that attack. The powered suits surrounding her already had their ray cannons aimed at her the moment she broke away from the forcefield trap. So, she did not have the opportunity to get away right from the start.
But that did not mean she could not react to it. At the same time the powered suits opened fire, Olivia swung her light blade forward. With that one swing, she split the pillar of light that was coming at her. The light blade supplied by Olivia’s old-world generator was easily able to overwhelm that beam of light, which had been powered by multiple powered suits’ generators.
When the blade and the laser clashed. The laser beam broke into multiple streams, which spread indiscriminately. They hit the buildings and the rubbles around the area, evaporating them. Although the light blade weakened from that clash, it still extended forward until it eventually reached the powered suits and destroyed them.
Olivia then used the path opened by that slash to escape.
She used forcefield armour to create footing, which allowed her to run in the air as she quickly closed the distance to the powered suits. She then swung her blade with inhuman masterful precision to cut the powered suits’ weapons and limbs in a blink of an eye.
Seeing the powered suits in front of them easily cut down, the still surviving powered suits increase the output of their forcefield armour. They used the data from the sliced powered suits to adjust their forcefield armour so that it would be able to withstand Olivia’s blade. But even so, just like the previous powered suits, Olivia’s blade cut through their hard forcefield armour with ease. With the extra payment that she had received, Olivia pumped more energy into her blade, allowing her to easily cut through her enemies.
Olivia once again swung her blade and easily broke through the forcefield box that trapped Shirou. She then quickly snatched Shirou who was still dazzled by what just happened and tucked him under her arm before leaving the area.
The damage to the area from that short exchange was enough to completely change the contour of the area. But even so, no one was killed. Olivia obeyed Shirou’s request to hold back so as not to kill anyone. Though it ended up costing Shirou a lot more money, Olivia did not seem bothered at all.
The pilots managed to get out from the half-destroyed bent, stuck door. After they looked around and understood what was going on, they looked in the direction where Olivia and Shirou went.
"What in the world is she!? Don’t tell me that she’s from the eastern front line or something?!"
Another pilot replied through the communication device.
"That might as well be the case. Although we were not told, I heard that the one we’re pursuing is an old-world connector from Sakashita Heavy Industry. It seems that he somehow managed to run away from them, seriously though, running away from Sakashita might as well mean picking a fight with Sakashita. It wouldn’t be weird if he had prepared something like this. They might have agreed to meet up here."
"Geez… No one ever told me that we were going to fight something like that."
"The commander gave us the order, so it’s not that hard to predict something like this would occur, you know."
Their sighs could be heard overlapping from the communication device.
"Well. What can I say… We did well to slow them down, we can just leave the rest to them."
"…You’re right. If she is really from the eastern front line, there’s no way we can stop them. It’ll at least be a good excuse as to why they got away."
The pilots exchanged light jokes in reaction to their plan, which ended up with a rather disappointing result.
Akira and the rest escaped the building in a hurry. They jumped onto the bike that came to pick them up on autopilot as they quickly left the area. Although Akira’s bike had only a seat for one person, they did not have any other choice but to fit it for 5. Akira and Reina took the seat while Carol, Shiori, and Kanae perched on the bike’s arms that were originally for weapons.
Originally, they were planning to watch the situation from inside the building for a bit before carefully returning back. However, Akira suggested with a solemn expression to leave that place immediately.
Since Akira even said that as Carol’s bodyguard, he would take her by force if needed, the rest knew that there was no time to even ask for the reason and immediately abide by Akira’s plan. It did not take long for them to head for the exit, they already started moving just a moment after Olivia and Shirou jumped off from the hole Olivia made. They then hopped on Akira’s bike without even asking where it was heading to.
The area around the building was already well inside the conflict zone. The huge multi-legged tank monsters that had disengaged their camouflaging were already in the middle of an intense fight with the powered suits. When they were passing close to those monsters, Reina and the others were about to attack them, but Akira told them not to. They had already taken a long detour to avoid them. Thanks to that, the monsters placed Akira as their lowest priority and they just ignored Akira’s group and headed toward the incoming powered suits.
Although they encountered those tank monsters numerous times, their group prioritized leaving the area first. And finally, they got away from the war zone.
Kanae looked at the ensuing battle behind them with an amused smile.
"Ohh, they’re going at it pretty hard. Not bad."
Kanae was watching the powered suits that were locked in an intense battle with the old-world mechanical monsters. The warheads, energy bullets, and the mini-missiles that they were exchanging exceeded what was the norm in Mihazono ruin. The explosions from that battle were enough to blow away several buildings.
If it was a matter of firepower, the powered suits had the upper hand. But the multi-legged tank monsters with the other security drones of the ruin had the numerical advantage. At the moment, the powered suits still had control of the fight thanks to their firepower, but with more and more monster reinforcement slowly gathering, the powered suits could not afford to lower their guards.
"Ah, the building that we were in just got blown off. It was the right choice to leave right away. Akira-boy, how did you know that we should leave without delay back then?"
"I just felt so. Basically, my intuition."
Akira casually said so, but Kanae instead deliberately and teasingly pursued the subject.
"Eh? Really? Are you sure you’re not lying there?"
"I don’t really care if you don’t believe me. Even if I have another reason, we’re not that close as to warrant me to tell the rest of the story anyway. I know you think so too, right?"
"Well, you have a point."
Seeing Akria trying to casually end the subject, Kanae only giggled and decided not to continue.
In truth, Akira was lying. The reason why he decided to leave that building right away was because of Alpha, Akira was only following what Alpha had told him.
Carol watched the ongoing battle and mumbled.
"…They… They would go that far, huh?"
The meaning behind those words struck her heart as her face turned pale.
Shirou once again returned under Olivia’s arm as they headed outside the ruin. If the pursuers did not care about the damage that they did to the ruin, then it was easier to get away from them out in the wasteland. With that being said, Shirou still needed to make a plan on what to do next depending on how far Olivia would help in his escape. Because of that, he had a frown on his face as he was tucked under Olivia’s arm.
"Say, just how much did that battle cost me?"
Olivia looked at Shirou with a business smile and replied.
"My apologies. In order to avoid trouble, we decline questions regarding the details such as how much each small action costs while we’re in the middle of the contract."
"I can understand that it might cause trouble during the calculation of the total payment if you give me a bad answer, but to be honest, it would be troublesome for me if you suddenly throw me in the middle of nowhere while saying that you did enough for what you were already paid."
"We’re open to extra payment anytime. Rather than paying it in smaller portions later, it’s cheaper if you pay the whole sum beforehand. If you’re not sure, please consider this as well."
Shirou laughed bitterly. The 15 Million Chrome that he had spent on Olivia was all the savings he had. He literally had no more money that he could offer. In the first place, he never planned to use his Chrome savings. So it would definitely cause him more trouble in the future.
"If you’re okay with Aurum, I can pay you 10 billion Aurum right away though? Is that not good enough?"
"Unfortunately, we are not equipped to accept that currency."
"Yeah… thought so…"
For Shirou, that answer was exactly what he had expected when he made that suggestion. As he continued to ponder, he just made a bitter smile and did not make any counteroffer.
"Although Aurum is a corporation-issued currency, the caretaker AI in Kuzusuhara ruin is accepting that currency, so like, with that in mind, can you at least find a way to accept it?"
"I was indeed already informed regarding that matter. But regarding that currency, we have not received any guarantee on its value from the sector 844 high-level management division. Thus, we have no plan to review that currency. If you’re insisting on paying with that currency, please receive the sign of guarantee for that currency’s value from the aforementioned division and show it to me first."
"Yup, I knew that would be the answer."
There was a big difference in meaning between a government AI accepting a corporation-issued currency and guaranteeing the value of that currency. If one of those government AI guaranteed the value of that currency, there was a good chance that other AIs would accept that currency. If there was an AI that would accept Aurum instead of Chrome for their trade, the value of Aurum would greatly go up. This was also the reason why Sugadome was willing to let Shirou roam free as long as he would create a negotiation route with Tsubaki.
Although his own goal was getting a bit further, it might be a good idea to at least start doing something for it. Shirou, who thought so, felt frustrated.
Olivia blazed through the ruin at a relatively high speed, but she suddenly came to a sudden halt right around the boundary between the ruin and the wasteland. Shirou could not help but grunt from the pain because of the sudden stop.
"Don’t stop so suddenly like that! Although I’m holding it in, it’s actually pretty painful, you know!?"
Olivia ignored Shirou’s complaint and just dropped him. Once again, Shirou could not help but grunt from the pain when he landed. He then looked at Olivia with a stern face.
"…Whoah, wait for a sec, don’t tell me that this is as far as you’re going, right?"
"No, it’s just that it seems that this will take the rest of the payment."
"You gotta be kidding me, right!? I’ve even added 10 million Chrome, you know!? Isn’t this a bit too short!?"
"It’s not like I can do anything about it considering the opponent that we have to face. I can certainly fight while protecting you, but as expected, that would cost way too much. As such, I’ll stop carrying you from here on out. The rest is up to you."
As Shirou pushed himself up with a confused look on his face, the voice of another person came.
"Oh, you found out, huh? This is actually a camouflaging coat from the front line though."
Shirou inadvertently looked in the direction of that voice’s source. A part of his views suddenly distorted and a figure of a man appeared when he disengaged his camouflaging coat, seeing that man’s face, Shirou exclaimed.
That man was obviously angry although he was also somehow smiling amusedly at Shirou.
"That reaction was uncalled for, you know. Long time no see, Shirou."
Shirou replied with a stiff expression.
"Y-yo there Hammerz, long time no see… So, why are you here?"
"Why, you ask? There’s no need for me to even explain it to you, right? I’m here to pick you up."
Hammerz smiled and slowly approached Shirou, who inadvertently stepped back.
"Well, uhh, that’s not what I meant, it’s just that, shouldn’t you be staying near Kugamayama city? Even if you only come here after those guys told you, it’s way too fast no matter how you look at it, right?"
Shirou came to Mihazono ruin only after he investigated where Hammerz was. Had he known that Hammerz was nearby, he would never have thought of coming there.
Hammerz’s smile deepened as he took another step closer.
"Oh, about that, huh. I asked that Yanagisawa guy to fake my location. To be honest, since it’s you we’re talking about, I didn’t expect much result from that, but seeing your reaction, it seems like it did work out, huh? I honestly didn’t expect that at all. That guy is pretty good. I heard not only Sakashita, but Tatsumori and Tsukida are also trying to recruit him. I guess this explains why that is the case."
Shirou cursed under his breath. He thought that he might have been a bit too arrogant with his skill that he could not see through that trickery, but when he saw Hammerz’s smile disappear, he thought that was not the time to think of such trivialities.
"Now then, shall we go back now? Don’t fight back, okay? I have no wish to hurt you, but I also think that it’ll be fine as long as I leave your head intact. Don’t worry, we’ll properly fix you up after that. And I guarantee there won’t be any long-lasting effect."
"…After that, huh? How long after are we talking here?"
"No idea. I bet it’s after you paid for all the commotion that you’ve caused."
Shirou could not help but cower when he imagined being left with only his head and forced to work while being connected to a life support system. Though he already made his resolve when he escaped, it was still a scary scene to imagine.
Olivia stepped in front of Shirou as if to cover him. But that did not hamper Hammerz at all as he kept stepping closer and closer to Shirou. Shirou’s gaze darted between Olivia and Hammerz, He then stepped aside and said with a rather frightened face.
"Uh, d-don’t kill anyone, pretty please?"
"That would depend on the opponent."
"That would depend on her."
Olivia and Hammerz gave the same reply at the same time and lightly smiled. After all, they both thought if anyone would die here, it would be their respective opponent. And that thought was transmitted clearly to each other.
Shirou made his resolve and ran away. His destination was out of the ruin and into the wasteland, which meant that he would have to get past Hammerz.
But Hammerz quickly stepped in to block him and Olivia quickly reacted to stop Hammerz from doing so. As both reacted simultaneously, it became the trigger to start the fight between the two. A fight between someone who could be called superhuman against another being that was made similar to a superhuman.
The exchanged punches created shock waves that blew away buildings without even touching them. The blade that was swung down melted anything that it touched. The kicks that missed their target created a huge crater when they landed, the waves of sharp light were lightly deflected and cut whatever they hit. Shock waves and blows that could easily obliterate normal monsters were exchanged between them.
The blows that those two exchanged in such a short time already turned the area into a huge mess. The damage to the area easily surpassed the damages that the powered suits had done to Mihazono ruin.
Shirou kept on running desperately, hoping that the intense battle behind him would further conceal his footsteps.
After Akira and the others left Mihazono ruin on Akira’s bike, they boarded Carol’s camping car and head back to Kugamayama city. The camping car was already moving away from the ruin the moment it detected a large-scale battle back in the ruin, thanks to that, they were able to safely leave the ruin.
Reina, Shiori, and Kanae were watching the ruin from the top of the camping car. Due to the colourless mist, even the long-range image capture function of their expensive information-gathering devices could not get a clear image. They could not even produce a high enough resolution image to know how badly damaged the ruin got due to the battle.
Kanae had a rare bitter smile on her face as she said.
"Well, that looks exactly like when a kaijuu rampages through, doesn’t it?"
Some of the mountain-like huge powerful monsters in the front line were often called kaijuu. Similarly, when someone created a similar level of mess as those beasts, they were also often called kaijuu.
Even a battle-crazed person such as Kanae would rather avoid having to fight a kaijuu. Though she did enjoy having to fight a powerful opponent, that was only when it could at least be considered a fight. There was nothing fun about getting obliterated by overwhelming power, without a chance of victory.
"Ane-san, I know that we were told to handle the situation since we’re already present, but as expected, it’s better to let Milady off fro-"
Reina suddenly interjected with a serious face.
Shiori and Kanae quickly turned to Reina. Kanae had a surprised look on her face while Shiori looked utterly worried.
"Before that, explain everything to me first…"
"Milady, that is…"
"Shiori, I know that it’s better for me to stay as an outsider until this reaches its conclusion. But tell me. If you’re saying that you can’t tell me because I’m still inexperienced, then I’ll back off. But as long as I don’t know anything, I won’t accept anything, after all, I do not deserve any help."
Reina said so while looking straight at Shiori.
Reina understood that Shiori had gone through a lot of ordeals, she had crossed many dangerous bridges in place of Reina’s older sister or even her parents. Reina herself knew that she was still relying on Shiori. As a matter of fact, she was certain that she would still rely on Shiori in the future due to her lack of strength.
But it was only a matter of time before she needed to grow independent. Even if she kept using her lack of strength as an excuse to continue burdening Shiori, it might one day crush the two of them. Although it might just be an excuse to her, Reina was trying to be a master worthy of Shiori before she ended up putting too much burden on Shiori and before Shiori decides to sacrifice herself.
Shiori was a bit overwhelmed by Reina’s resolve. Although she was still worried, she smiled. She could feel the person that she had always looked over and protected, the person who she had always been supporting, was trying her best to take on her role as the master. Shiori felt both lonely and happy from Reina’s growth.
"Very well. But since it also contains corporation secrets, I can’t do it here. But I shall tell Milady everything once we’re back."
"Alright… And I’m sorry, I know it might be too late."
"Please don’t be."
Toward Reina, who was smiling bitterly, Shiori gracefully bowed.
Kanae could hardly hold back her lips from curving up. Reina, who noticed that, threw a rather presumptuous irritated smile at Kanae. Nonetheless, Kanae just raised her eyebrows in shock and only giggled after that.