Princess Riznah, the pilot of Kishin Saika, requested to reopen the communication channel. Her voice resumed on the speakers after reopening the channel.
[Shall we see the conclusion of our battle, pilot of the Federation? I am the Harakal of the Asa, Princess Riznah Ereshikigal! What is your name?]
“Pilot of Dawnbringer Minor, Lezirth Dawnbringer.”
[Lezirth? Hm, a common name. I have no clue how you are managing to use Kishin Arts from such a weak model, but I assume it is already at its limits? Do you wish to surrender peacefully?]
[Unfortunate. Someone like you should have some highly desirable genes.]
“What was that, a marriage proposal?”
If it was a proposal, it was probably the world’s most casual, least acceptable proposal in history. I could almost blush after hearing such a direct request for my partnership.
[Unfortunately for you, we have no tradition for marriages like Humans do. But, once I have Kiske’s child, I could consider having yours.]
For a moment, I tried to imagine Kiske and her being together, but my mind drew a blank.
Sergeant Aroha interrupted, unable to sit quietly. “I don’t imagine someone like Kiske could have had any accomplishments to serve a Harakal. Why don’t you surrender to us instead? We have a freedom of relationships over here. Isn’t it beautiful, being able to romance anyone without barriers of social class?”
[How impudent, Umea! I...]
“Weren’t you just crying to return Kiske to you a few moments ago? It was recorded too, if you want to hear it,” I added.
Princess Riznah became bright red. [I... no, I cannot. An Asa will forever remain an Asa. But I am a Harakal!]
She... must have honestly loved Kiske, and she had to do all she could to give military decorations to Kiske. However, pushing Kiske into opportunities for earning military honours meant that he was also constantly brought to death’s doorstep. Now that Kiske was taken prisoner by us, her enemies, she must have been writhing in guilt and despair.
“If only you dropped your worthless pride as a Harakal sooner, Kiske would have never been held prisoner by us, don’t you think?” Sergeant Aroha used this to taunt her.
As she was with William Mayer, too, Sergeant Aroha sometimes had shown a surprisingly cruel side of her, and it had surfaced once again. Even after a Smart Bomb blasted off Princess Riznah’s eye and arm, she had maintained her courageous stance; and then, she was struck with great pain by immaterial, harmless words.
[Shut up! I just... no, any more words will only slow down your death, so I will end this chatter now.]
“How troublesome.” Sergeant Aroha sighed, and looked back at me. “So, do you have a plan, Lezirth?”
At that time, I recalled the cockpit next to Dawnbringer Minor. It was found back at the stadium-- the cockpit that ejected off of the Alliance Alter-Armour when I drove it to the stadium, and inside was a seat full of energy gels from the Chinatown’s supermarket. I had teleported it away as soon as I had discovered it, and then I teleported it back to me for this time of need.
I grabbed the cockpit, ripped it apart, and brought the energy gels into my cockpit.
“I was wondering what your plan was, and it’s this again? What is this, some sort of dictatorship country where you get a stretch break for every thousand times that you shovel?” Sergeant Aroha sighed, unfolding the army shovel.
“If you please, Aroha.”
“Hmph... fine, Lezirth.” Sergeant Aroha leaned forward, but turned back around after a thought. “B-by the way, this pose is a little too dirty, isn’t it? If you and I were naked right now, then...”
“D-don’t say anything like that! I finally started focusing my mind elsewhere! Did you really have to remind me before a big fight?” I grumbled, moving Dawnbringer Minor.
Kishin Saika approached from the front, spreading the Skirt Bits in all directions.
[Here I come!]
“Bring it on, lovestruck girl!”
Taking my bait, Saika reacted, opening its right hand. Bright, white rays of light shot from its palm. Though the attack was at lightspeed, I easily dodged it beforehand.
When in a one-on-one fight, even before the opponent begins pulling the trigger, my mind says “this is when my opponent will pull it.” When in a close-quarter battle, even as I frantically beat on the opponent’s defenses, there are moments that my mind says “this is when my opponent will begin to retaliate.” Combat Insight, I believe it was called.
Asa Princess Riznah Ereshikigal was definitely proficient at controlling a Kishin, able to use highly complex Kishin Arts that Prince Tenseron couldn’t, and she had perfectly understood the extent of her abilities.
Yet, she was no match for me.
Cleverness and experience! There was no one who could possibly match me in those qualities. I am Lezirth Dawnbringer! I am the legendary soldier who lived in the battlefield ever since the age of space began!
The Skirt Bits reflected the rays of light, aiming for my backside. Saika’s main plan of attack appeared to be trapping Dawnbringer Minor and bombarding it with deadly beams reflecting all around by the Skirt Bits. I quickly dashed forward to escape the Skirt Bits’ encirclement.
Kishin Saika moved back. Thundergod Saika was not a melee-centric Kishin, but a controller-type Kishin designed for mid-range combat. She could not have desired to get in close range with a ground combat Alter-Armour like Dawnbringer Minor.
[Get out of here!]
A ray of light flared from Saika’s chest.
A blast of deadly light!
But Dawnbringer Minor was already in motion to dodge any attacks. Whatever couldn’t be dodged was deflected by the Black Barrier, and then it swung behind Saika.
And a powerful kick to its back!
But suddenly, Saika jumped away at an unbelievably fast speed. It had warped away in place of one of the Skirt Bits, using one of Saika’s special abilities.
--Kishin Arts! Shining Planar Emporio!
And that was not the end of it. One of the Skirt Bits shot away and accelerated to near-lightspeed, flying around erratically. In the blink of an eye, Dawnbringer Minor and Saika were both trapped within blinding lights caused within the flying Skirt Bit’s wake.
--No. For Saika, the area was now her own territory.
Dawnbringer Minor was the prey that fell into her territory!
[Here it comes, Lezirth!]
[Gah! That snarky attitude of yours! We’ll see how long that’ll last! Hiiiiyaaaah!]
Kishin Saika clasped its hands in front of its chest. Between its fingers, bright, luminous spots appeared. It began with one point, then ten, and then a hundred.
[Warning! High energy output detected!]
Its energy levels spiked up, prompting my pilot assistance program to begin throwing warnings.
“Waaah! L-Lezirth! What are we gonna do about that thing?!” Sergeant Aroha panicked, hugging my head in fear. I briefly went back to being smothered to death by her chest.
“Hpfh... ffh... s-stop it, Sergeant! We’re going to be fine, just fine! Ack--!”
S-something went in my mouth just now!
I quickly shoved the panicking Sergeant Aroha away. Quite so, if Saika had released all of its energy from those gatherings of light, they would ceaselessly chase down Dawnbringer Minor as they bounce in every direction by jumping off of the reflective sphere created by the Skirt Bit. Sergeant Aroha was right to be scared!
[You have no need to try and prolong your life by using some useless Kishin Art! This is the end, Lezirth!]
“Is that so?! I never lose to little lovestruck girls!”
And then, Saika disappeared.
Saika switched its place around with the near-lightspeed Skirt Bit in succession, almost appearing to move as Dawnbringer moves with the Dance of Discord, and releasing the rays of light. A shower of deadly beams approached Dawnbringer Minor for a kill from every direction.
--Kishin Arts! Dark Spiral! Palm of Seven Chains!
Dawnbringer Minor struck with the Dark Spiral in a full circle, seven times. Reviving the old black holes that were once created by Dawnbringer in the past, linked together with the Ergosphere, the Dark Spirals twisted the space to grip onto the bombardment of beams.
Dawnbringer Minor hopped back and approached the encircling ring of light. It pulled out the ground combat blade in preparation.
Though I used the Dance of Discord myself, such an ability was an extremely difficult thing for me to control. Then, Thundergod Saika’s Shining Planar Emporio must have been difficult for it to control, too!
With that prediction, I quantized the blade to transform it into a great sword of light.
Saika was afraid of my approach, so it had scattered the Skirt Bits to erratically move itself away from my attacks. If anyone were to try to shoot or cut it down, then they couldn’t even scratch the edge of its armour. That was the true meaning behind the name of Discordant Thundergod!
But what if I were to try this?
I raised the Sacred Sword and stabbed into the shimmering, twisting light. Eventually, Saika’s pilot would throw the armour into the blade on her own, unable to consciously control its movement accurately.
And, of course!
Princess Riznah screamed. Even if Saika could control the quantum field, it wasn’t easy for it to control its movement in near-lightspeed!
The Shining Planar Emporio was stopped, and Saika appeared at a distance very far away from Dawnbringer Minor. Even as the special technique got broken, she was careful to put her a distance away from the melee-specialized Armour. How very practiced.
I gripped onto the Sacred Sword and spun around.
--Sacred Sword! Void Slash!
Dawnbringer Minor slashed upon the beams of light, held from escaping by the Dark Spiral. As the Dark Spiral shattered, the lights bounced away from the Dark Spiral at lightspeed. At the end of the beams was Saika.
The Skirt Bit created a defensive formation around Saika. The beams struck against the shielding and exploded, and then exploded again. Even in the soundless space, I could feel the shockwaves and energy radiating, giving a very dramatic feel of a silent film.
At the same time, Dawnbringer Minor was blinking on and off. It had the looks of a student in a lazy afternoon, dozing off in the middle of a class after a big lunch. Dawnbringer Minor had been pushed to its limit!
“Lezirth! We’re out of energy gels!”
As expected, the shovel had made the gel feeding extremely quick. Thanks to that, Dawnbringer Minor was able to use all manner of high-intensity techniques, but was it really it? I had hoped that the Void Slash would have been the end of Saika...
But there was no way that a Kishin would fold that easily.
[Argh! What are you, a monster?!]
Despite the heavy damage done by the Void Slash, Saika was still fully operational. It was the difference between a proper Kishin and a Minor-class. Even after such a one-sided beating, my side was dangerously close to depleting all energy, and the Kishin was making a quick recovery from all damages. Saika was at the height of its rage and fear, retaliating back immediately. Even as Dawnbringer Minor was becoming unoperational!
I jumped out of Dawnbringer Minor, teleporting in front of Saika’s chest-- the cockpit. Jumping through the Hyperspace and into complete vacuum with my unprotected body made my insides cry, but I endured it, swinging Colorado and slicing Saika’s cockpit. Colorado quantized, cutting inside the cockpit and splattering the seat with blood.
[Gah!] Prinzess Riznah cried.
I had aimed for her arm-- the one that was mostly intact. Saika normally would have been able to protect its pilot from even the Sacred Sword, but my repeated strikes must have caused lasting damage.
Saika suddenly became inoperational. Princess Riznah could operate Saika remotely, but as long as she was within the cockpit, she had to have been manually piloting. As her remaining arm was cut, Saika had briefly lost control.
I shoved Colorado inside the cockpit, placing it under Princess Riznah’s chin. As she grabbed at her wound, I phase shifted through the cockpit glass to enter inside.
“Haah... haah...” Princess Riznah hugged onto her cut arm and glared at me. Her eyes were full of hostility, but she also bore the expression of admiration.
“You could kill me from the outside, had you wanted to... why have you come inside? Are you intending to hold me prisoner? Or... perhaps?” She rolled up her body, eyeing me. She was trying to hide her body away, but her breasts were looking like they were about to burst out of her tight pilot suit.
“Is this your arm?” I held the dismembered arm up. It was so cleanly cut by the Sacred Sword, that a Portable Medic could reattach it right back with a quick operation. The real problem was whether or not her body could take any more operations...
I used telekinesis to gather up the splattered blood around the cockpit, injecting it back down her wounds, so that she wouldn’t suffer from blood loss. “Use that Medic to put it back on. And, also...” I deactivated the quantized sword and used Colorado’s edge to wound my arm. Blood dripped out, combining with her blood.
With medical nanomachines in my blood, I could transfuse to anybody else. On top of that, my blood repaired the oxidization that occurred in her blood during its time splattering around the cockpit. She could survive the surgery just fine.
“What... are you doing? Are you pitying me?”
“No, let’s call it appeasement. I might have to stay on friendly terms with the Alliance in the future.” I answered, putting the cut arm against her wound. The Portable Medic began reattaching the arm to her body.
I produced the first aid kit from below the pilot seat and handed over antibiotics and painkillers to her. She stared at me like a distrusting wild animal for a moment, but Princess Riznah soon took the medicines and swallowed them down.
“Make your return soon. We’ve run out of time. The Federation fleet will be here.”
“What about Kiske?”
“I’ll return him to you without a single scratch. It’ll be difficult to do that now.”
There really was no time. The Federation fleet was within the Critik system, and they were soon going to be in communication range with Critik-4. At that point, I could make no excuses about the happenings here.
Princess Riznah looked a little better, probably because of the painkiller. I had noticed now that her eyes were a bluish-gray.
“Why are you leaving me alive? Am I not a war criminal from your side’s perspective? And would it not come with a great reward to capture Saika and I?”
“Do I have any duty to answer that?” I shook my head. Even if I told the full truth, this girl wouldn’t understand any of it. So, I backed away. “I’ll be off, then.”
I shifted out of Saika to return to Dawnbringer Minor. As I made my return, Sergeant Aroha was sitting in the pilot’s seat in my place, glancing at me with crossed arms.
“Hmm? What’s happening, Sergeant?”
“Hm. Lezirth, your... clothes smell like some other woman!” She dug into my chest with her face, grumbling.
I grinned. “You also smell blood and medicine, right?”
Then, Sergeant Aroha put her arms around my waist. As she quietly pressed her body against mine, I gently combed down her hair.
“It’s my turn now, right?” Sergeant Aroha looked back at Critik-4. The spreading corruption from the center of the stadium was impossible to see from simple radar. And a camera zooming into the stadium saw... the cracks growing larger and larger.
“Yep. Anytime you want, Sergeant.”
“I really don’t want to be using the power of the Asa...”
As she grew up, she never received her family’s love and became confused by her identity, denying her existence as an Asa. She was, however, needed to end the situation in Critik.
I held both of her hands, and Sergeant Aroha looked up.
“But... Lezirth will protect me, right?”
“That’s right, Aroha. You can do it.”
Those were the only words I could say.
I brought Dawnbringer Minor into the atmosphere of Critik-4. Behind me was Saika, attempting to teleport away with the captured cruiser.
She was still taking the cruiser after all that?! But it wasn’t the time to get caught up on that. The Hyperspace corruption had to be taken care of before the Federation fleet’s arrival.
“Dammit! It’s always the same: a Harakal starting crap, and a Black Sister cleaning up the mess that’s left behind! Lezirth! The start of the cataclysm! Fly me to the stadium!”
Thankfully, there were no more eldritch beings appearing from the cracks. Thanks to the Archdemon consuming a huge number of the Hyperspace creatures, there weren’t too many left over. It was a good thing to remove the Archdemon after all.
[Lezirth! Are you okay?! You only have thirty seconds!]
[That’s just the time needed for the Federation fleet to get into viewing range! We’ll have a bit more time for them to detect the Hyperspace corruption in the area! Should I try to slow the fleet down?]
“Yes, please, Luise! Just a little more time!” I shouted, standing in the middle of the stadium. Sergeant Aroha walked out of the cockpit and into the warped world, standing on the palm of Dawnbringer Minor.
“I only did this once when I was young, so I have no idea how well this is going to work.”
She inspected the stadium-- what used to be the stadium, and raised her arms towards the cracks. And then she began singing.
It was a foreign song that I couldn’t understand.
It was a very solemn, yet beautiful song.
I couldn’t believe that she was the same girl who’d joke around most of the time. As she sung, her body began glowing as silver tattoos appeared all over her body.
The Black Sisters of Asa, they called them. Would it not have been more appropriate to call them the Silver Sisters?
With that thought, the world began changing.
The air resonated around us.
And suddenly, a black circle appeared on Sergeant Aroha’s hand.
It was the source of the cataclysm! Even though I had no way of knowing that, I somehow felt it to be true. The ominous feeling and power that crept out of the circle was the same as the atmosphere around the stadium.
At that moment, Sergeant Aroha screamed in pain..
“No!” I jumped out of the cockpit. “Are you okay?! Sergeant?!”
“Lezirth?! What about Dawnbringer Minor?”
“I can control it remotely too! That’s not important! What happened to you?!”
“...Heh heh. It’s been a long time since I’ve done this, so it’s not working out so well. It’s my first time trying it with something this big, and I guess it’s too tough starting with a big one right away.”
“...What?” I was at a loss for words. “So it’s hurting you?”
“... ...That was a joke, Lezirth.”
“No, I... just don’t know how to react to such a pan-dimensional sexual harassment.”
She collected herself and resumed her singing. The dark crack crept up her wrist, and climbed up her arm.
I looked at Sergeant Aroha. She was sweating profusely. She was obviously in huge pain, but she held her ground and continued her song.
[The Federation fleet arrived in the Critik system! I’m going to create an artificial storm over the area, so don’t be surprised if it gets cloudy!] Ensign Meihowa warned. As she announced, it began raining quite soon.
The Archdemon had previously flash-frozen the atmosphere around the stadium, so the area was covered with rain clouds. So the plan was to cover the planet with rain clouds to prevent visual inspections?
The black ring had almost reached Sergeant Aroha’s shoulders. She raised that arm. Her sweat was now replaced with the raindrops, but I could still see that she was in great pain.
She was definitely putting her life at risk.
I should have realized before with a little more thought. It wasn’t normal for a single person to stop a Hyperspace corruption on a planet’s scale. Why did Sergeant Aroha accept such a task so quickly?
If I had realized that this task would have put her life to a test, I wouldn’t have been quick to ask her to do this in the first place. Right. Even if I knew that her life was at stake, this action could save millions of lives, so I still may have asked her to perform this. Still... I couldn’t help but feel powerless.
Sergeant Aroha gestured at me.
I approached behind her.
Her father was taken by the Asa, and she herself was appreciated by neither the Federation nor the Alliance due to her half-Asa identity.
And she was still singing out of a sense of duty and the goodness of her heart.
I watched over her, afraid of her falling down after spending her energy.
‘I promised that I’d protect her... and I can’t do anything but watch her in silence.’
I would be glad to endure the harm in her place, but only the Black Sister of the Asa could accomplish this task.
And finally... the black ring escaped Sergeant Aroha’s hand. She stopped her singing, and slowly collapsed down. I quickly supported her in surprise, hugging her.
She had such a womanly body, and there was not a single part of her that wasn’t attractive that I could lay my hands upon. But my desires were quelled by an even stronger feeling of guilt.
“You really did your best, Sergeant.”
“Yep. I put in my hundred percent this time, Lezirth.”
Rainfall blanketed the earth. I picked the Sergeant up, and looked at the ground through the rain. The cracks around the stadium were disappearing, and the demolished city reappeared. The ruined stadium and the parking lot aside, the place was returning back to normal.
“Heh... I still got it after all this time. Damn, I’m... good...”
[The corruption is cleansed! You’re pushing it now, Lezirth! Get back in Dawnbringer Minor!]
[Tell them Sergeant Aroha piloted it! Hurry! Fly above the atmosphere!]
Listening to Admiral Luise and Ensign Meihowa, I walked back inside the cockpit of Dawnbringer Minor with Sergeant Aroha in my arms. She was limp without strength and nearly rested on my body.
“Are you okay, Sergeant?”
“Mmh. I’m... as fine as ever.” Sergeant Aroha resumed sitting on my knees. I had to report this situation as Sergeant Aroha having been the pilot of Dawnbringer Minor, but she was too tired for that to be convincing. How was I supposed to ride Dawnbringer Minor?
But when Sergeant Aroha took over the controls for Dawnbringer Minor... it stabilized its energy levels.
‘Huh? She’s still pretty good, even in this state!’
I had worried that the synchronization level might be low with Sergeant, but she was as good as any other high-ranking officer. In retrospect, she was an elite among elites within the Asa. Her decision making skills and abilities were way above average.
“Are you really okay, Sergeant?”
“Yeah. Phew, our vacation’s over just like that, huh?” Sergeant Aroha rested her head on me. I let her use my shoulder as her pillow and smiled.
“It was fun, though.”
“Yeah, it was.” Sergeant Aroha caressed my face gently.
I spaced out as rainclouds dispersed. The sun was burning bright red as it sunk down the Southern horizon. Above the red sky were the Federation cruisers and destroyers entering the planet’s atmosphere. Sergeant Aroha noticed them, waving Dawnbringer Minor’s hands to signal to them.
It was... very close. If we were even slightly late, Sergeant Aroha’s identity would have been revealed, and she might have been forced to clean corrupted planets like some vacuum cleaner. Even later, and this entire planet may have been burned down by a storm of quantum torpedoes.
I guess, even though Sergeant Aroha got extra weight on her shoulders, everything worked out pretty well.
I blankly stared at the beautiful dusk in the horizon, and nodded.
Yep, everything worked out pretty well.