Chapter 4: Battle.
Taisha Literature and History Department - Miko-sama: CENSORED
■■■■ years ago, according to documents of the ■■■■ era, friends that you want to stay
with forever are called BFF .
It's an interesting word somehow, and I liked it. Us three are BFF.
Even now, I feel them close to me.
Hero Record 298.7.10
Nogi household, Sonoko's room.
[I...I really don't think this suits me.]
[That's not true, right Wasshi~?]
[Yes, it suits you very well Gin.] (snap)
[H-Hey! Stop it Sumi. Don't take pictures]
[Aah. Me too me too; a photo session.]
Sonoko quickly took out her terminal.
[Daa~. That's it, this ends now.]
[Ah~, don't take them off, I still haven't taken any.]
[I'll send you the pictures later, Sonocchi.]
[ku~h. I thought I would be able to dress up Sumi as I pleased. How did it turn out like this?]
Sumi and Gin were hanging out at Sonoko's house. And the moment Gin proposed Sumi should try out some of Sonoko's frilly clothes.
[But...Don't you think this would suit Gin as well?]
Sumi countered with her own idea.
[WHATTO? What nonsense are you...]
[I do! Mino-san would look so cute in these.]
[No, No, No, No. I've never even worn something like this. Plus, I'm being sold as the sporty type.]
[Well then, this is your chance to take up the cute-type challenge.]
[I want to see an even cuter side of you, Mino-san.]
[Tch, Sumi was supposed to be the one wearing them, how did it turn out like this. No, there is still a way! Rock, Paper, Scissors. The loser has to wear them.]
[Very well, I will be going with Rock first, then.]
And thus, Gin's pace was broken and as a result lost. She was forced to wear frilly clothes as a penalty.
[Shall we try another one, Sonocchi?]
[Okay, there's still a lot more~]
[No, No, No, my time as a dress-up doll is over.]
[Eeeh...But you looked so cute.]
[Yeah, you looked really cute.]
[S-stop calling me cute.]
Gin's face turned bright red. She took refuge, and rolled down on the bed. Sumi and Sonoko went in for the final blow.
[C U T E!!]
The servants at the Nogi house pleasantly listened to the laughing voices coming out of Sonoko's Room.
The day was over and the students were all nervously getting ready to leave. Their childish side itching to go out and play, and the feeling of responsibility fueled by Shinju-kan's high moral code telling them they have to listen to their teachers, were clashing. At Sumi's class, their homeroom teacher was talking about the school trip. The fresh sea breeze blowing from far away was counteracting July's heat. Sumi had her head held high as she listened. She sometimes gave warning gazes to Sonoko who's spacing out on the seat next to hers.
Sumi was determined to raise Sonoko to be a splendid leader. She would move in and warn her in person if she weren't out of her reach.
(I wonder if Gin's listening to the teacher...)
Sumi quickly looked to Gin's direction. She was sitting properly, eyes wide open. The focus of her eyes however, wasn't stable. She's probably in full image training mode. She still looks like she's listening, so I'll simply give her a slight warning later. Sumi thought to herself.
A little while back, this would have been a full lecture, instead of a warning. Sumi felt herself getting softer.
(Still, I wonder if it's gonna be okay...us going on the trip.)
After all, even if for just a little while, they were still leaving the city. Wouldn't this get in the way of their duty?
After school and training were over, Sumi professed these concerns to her friends.
[Ahaha, you're over thinking it, Sumi.]
After a shower to wash off the sweat, Gin laughed at Sumi's concerns while getting dressed.
[But when I think about what would happen if a Vertex were to show up while we're in the middle of the trip...]
[We're heroes, so even if we're a bit far we can get back to the bridge in no time~]
[It does piss me off that we don't ever know when Vertex might show up, but if you think too much you won't be able to get anything done. For example, if you start thinking they might come right this moment when we're exhausted from training, you won't be able to concentrate on training anymore. Even sleeping at night would become difficult, am I wrong, Washio-chan from the Washio-kun household?]
Sumi nods approvingly.
[...Yes, I understand, Gin.]
[Then relax and let's enjoy the school trip, Wasshi~]
[Yes, relax. Ahaha.]
[Your mental strength is blinding, you two...]
[With that being said, us 3 will be on the same group, right?]
[Are you sure you don't wanna be on Matsui-san's group, Mino-san?]
They're girls Gin sometimes plays soccer with during break time.
[Yep, I've already talked to Mattsun about it. I wanna be in this group.]
Sonoko, who found herself alone a lot, was absolutely overjoyed by Gin's statement.
[I just washed off the sweat; don't cling to me like that...]
A few days later, during lunch break. After eating at the school cafeteria, Sumi invited the other two to her desk.
[I would like you two to have these.]
Sumi took out a chunky pile of printouts with a thud, and handed them to the other two. The cover read "School trip guidebook".
[...Sumi-san, whatever might this be?]
[It is as you can see, Gin, the guidebook for our group. I just sent a digital version over to your terminals.]
[Oho. You went through all the trouble of making this by yourself, Sumi.]
[When i realized it was okay for us to enjoy the trip, I somehow stayed up all night making it, and as result i ended up with a lot more content that i had originally in mind.]
Sumi gestures as if wiping off the sweat.
[I'm starting to think Wasshi~ is not just too strict, but obsessed~]
[Whoever ends up marrying Sumi will be extremely fortunate, but I also feel sorry for him.]
[How did it come to this?]
[If only there were a man just like myself, Minowa Gin.]
[Sumi is pretty stiffened up, so you would need someone to forcibly lead you around.]
[Could you not talk about me as if I were a mushroom?]
[A boy like me would...not be able to handle Wasshi~...Sorry~]
[At any rate, if we follow this guide properly, we'll be fully prepared for the trip. All that's left is to pray to Shinju-sama that it wouldn't rain.]
[Ah. In that case I'll make 3 Teruteru Bouzu~ I'll model them after us~]
[But we'll be hanging them...doesn't that sound too surreal?]
The three kept thinking about the trip as they chatted.
Shinju-kan's trip will be at the prefecture capital, a bit far from the girls' town. It is known for having some of the country's highest grade gardens and athletic facilities. A lot of students have been there already, as it is the biggest touristic region; despite that everyone was excited. Sumi's group was no exception.
As per Gin's request, the Hero party went to the athletic course first.
[Since we're heroes, we should at least be able to clear all the attractions at the playground.]
Gin's mysterious reasoning process aside, this is a good chance to get some exercise since we can't train here, thought Sumi.
[Ehehe. The old me might have been left behind, but I'm different now. This is new bitter me, not old sweet me~]
[Well said, Sonoko. You are such a man.]
[I'm going on ahead, Gin.]
[Ah, you're leaving without a retort? Wait up Sumi.]
The three lightly ran from course to course in their current clothes Thanks to all the battles and their training, the girls' bodies were unbelievably fit. They even cleared all the courses designed for middle-schoolers. Spectators were dazzled by their swift movements.
[Awawa, I'm...I'm swaying~ I'm swaying~!]
Sonoko alone was struggling from time to time.
[You guys are too fast~ wait for me~!]
[What's wrong Sonoko? Where did your enthusiasm go?]
[Uu~ Now that I think about it, even if we're always fighting together Wasshi~ and Mino-san are constantly ahead of me~]
[Stop complaining. Come on, only a little more to go.]
Sonoko let out an "Eeei" as she passed the finishing line; Gin then went and hugged her.
[Good girl, good girl. You did your best.]
Gin patted her head gently.
[Uu~ Next time I'll run side by side with you~]
Witnessing that sight, Sumi shoved herself in between the two.
[What are you doing, Sumi?]
[I wanted in too.]
[What are you a dog?]
[I bet Wasshi~ wants Mino-san to pat her head as well. You're so good at it.]
[You're such a spoiled brat. Come here you.]
Sumi said nothing, as she closed her eyes.
Next, they headed to the hall of encouragement of commerce and industry, as per Sonoko's request. In here, you could try producing all kinds of crafts by yourself. Sonoko and Gin now had their positions completely reversed.
[Ununu. I'm disappointed in my lack of dexterity.]
[That's not true. yours looks fabulous too Mino-san~]
[Sonocchi, your work is just...too good, I can't stop sighing.]
[Eeh~ I'm just making it the way I imagined it~]
[The staff members were all so surprised, they kept staring at your hands as they worked.]
[Give me some of your creative imagination, Sonocchi.]
[Sumi's work looks exactly like the sample after all. Even I went and made some arrangements.]
[That's because you couldn't make it according to the sample, and went and made all those modifications.]
[It's that obvious huh. ahaha!]
Sumi lets out a lively laugh. Still, she thought better of Gin's wild design than her own, which looked exactly like the model. In the end, Sonoko's work was so complete that she was asked by the staff if they could display it.
Lastly, the three visited the Japanese gardens, as Sumi requested.
[What a splendid sight...It completely lifts off the exhaustion from earlier.]
Sumi closed her eyes, as she admired the traditional beauty that lay before her.
[It sure is a neat sight, but for this to be the one thing you were looking forward to the most... As expected of Sumi.]
[Wasshi~ became a lot softer, but this is the kind of thing she will never let go off~]
[Well then, I shall explain to you two just how wonderful of a place this is.]
Sumi smiled as she grabbed both of their hands firmly.
The children, who had been frolicking all day, had fallen asleep on the bus back home. The trained heroes were no exception. The bus eventually safely arrived to Shinju-kan.
The three were on their way back home as the sun was setting.
[Ah~ That was so fun~]
Sonoko was in high-spirits, which was unusual.
[We had plenty of sleep on the bus, so we're fully charged.]
[Tomorrow's our day off~ We'll be spending half of it training, what about the other half?]
Sumi was thinking how they should spend the rest of their day. With these two, anything they did would be fun.
[Alright, I invite you two to my super special Ines full course tour.]
At that moment, the three felt a familiar feeling of uneasiness. Time had stopped; the world had forestized.
[The Vertex is not invited though.]
[Aww~ It was such a fun day~ At the very end this thing comes and ruins everything.]
[At least it came after the trip ended.]
[It hasn't ended yet, not until we're home, Gin.]
[What are you a teacher?]
It was pretty enthusiastic for Sonoko.
At the leader's command, the three took their terminals into their hands, and transformed into their hero forms.
Sumi and the other two stood on the bridge; awaiting the arrival of the enemy. As always, the world was forestized.
[You really do get used to this view.]
Gin nonchalantly commented on the view from the big bridge, as she did some warm-up exercises.
[Don't let your guard down, Gin. That's...]
[The most dangerous of times, right? I know Sumi.]
[Lately, it seems as if Mino-san has been purposefully saying things that would make Wasshi~ warn her about~]
[Ahaha, it kinda became a habit.]
[I would rather you didn't.]
Is what she says, but she herself didn't really mean it. An innocent conversation that helps them all relax; Sumi has become able to tolerate such a thing.
At that moment, the enemy had appeared.
[! It's here~. Eh? EEEEEEH?]
The reason for Sonoko's surprise quickly became apparent. On the other side, "Two" enemies were approaching. Giants with a bizarre shape were standing side by side. Advancing slowly, they looked intimidating.
[Aww man, two of them at the same time...Now that you mention it, they didn't need to be fair and come at us one at a time.]
[We've been told Vertex moved independently though...]
The fourth battle. The experienced Sumi was calm. An unexpected happening, but if they joined their powers they could overcome it.
[That surprised me, but it's fine~. Mino-san and I will take one each, Wasshi~ will support us with her arrows.]
The strategy Sumi was thinking about. Sonoko had already put it into words. What a reliable leader.
[As expected of Sonocchi, understood.]
[Well then, I'll take the disgusting one.]
[Both of them are pretty disgusting though~]
Gin charged at the enemy, and Sonoko immediately follows.
Sumi aimed her bow.
(I'll focus on whoever is having a hard time...but for now, I'll be covering both of them...!)
Gin's enemy had a large pair of scissors for a tail. It swung them down with an immense force, but Gin wasn't overwhelmed.
[This one's pretty simple. It fits me!]
Gin violently swung her two axes, emitting endless sparks as they came in contact with the Vertex. Relying on Sumi's well-timed arrows, she focused on attacking the enemy pushing it back.
Sonoko's foe had a long tail, with a sharp pointy needle at its end. It freely manipulated it to strike thrusting attacks over and over. Sonoko calmly observed its movements, and made it her priority to dodge the pointy tip.
[You really look like you want that to hit~. Well then I'll just make sure that needle doesn't touch me~]
Sonoko's spear had a tip with a special shape in the form of multiple blades. It was wider than a normal spear. She could easily use it to block the enemy's tricky attacks. Sonoko used the chance created by Sumi's arrows to attack, driving the Vertex back.
(They're both so vivid...! At this rate we'll win easily! Even against two enemies!!)
Sumi continued firing, as she was convinced of their victory.
At that moment, came down raining from the sky.
[?! Something's coming from above!!]
The moment Sumi shouted that, thousands of arrows of light came down raining. Aimed at Sumi and the others, they all came down at once.
[The target area is too large! We can't dodge it~!]
Sonoko immediately spun her spear above her head, acting as an umbrella. Sumi rushed to Sonoko's side instantly. That was their emergency plan. Gin joined her axes and used them to block the rain of arrows. However, as they attacked the girls, the arrows hitting the other two Vertex also seemed to be healing them, regenerating at high speed. They relentlessly attacked the heroes. With nowhere to run, they couldn't deal with all the attacks at the same time.
It was unclear whose scream that was. The three girls were sent flying, after taking the Vertex's blow. Their bodies fell scattered on the bridge.
Her entire body was in pain. Sumi couldn't help but groan. She couldn't even tell where she was hit.
Sonoko's pained coughs were being heard.
[C...Can you stand...Sumi, Sonoko...?]
Gin was struggling to get up on her feet. Sumi forced herself to stand up. As she did, the feeling of pain coursing through her body multiplied. She coughed up blood when she tried to answer. Sonoko was in the same state.
As she was looking over to the wounded Sumi, she saw a third Vertex joining the other two. There was another one. It was all three of them from the start. It was the source of the previous attack. Making great use of its regenerative powers, it attacked in a coordinated manner. Vertex might possess a higher degree of intellect than expected. The other two were still being repaired by its arrows.
Sumi braced herself. It would only take a few more seconds for them to be completely healed. They would then resume advancing immediately. If that were to happen, the girls lying in their path would definitely "die". Being heroes, Sumi and others had their regenerative powers enhanced as well. However, compared to the Vertex being healed instantly; theirs were too slow.
[I'm the only one who can still move, huh... That only leaves us one choice.]
Gin, being the most close-ranged fighter of the three, had a higher defense than the others. Thanks to that, she could still move unlike the others two. She carried both of them.
[Here we go...You're heavier than Sonoko, Sumi.]
[What are you....saying, Gin...This isn't the time for...]
[Mino-san, what are you trying to...]
[If us heroes run away, the world would end. We gotta do our best.]
Gin held their hands firmly.
Then, from the top of the bridge...
[Leave this to me. You two rest for a bit.]
She threw them into the ocean.
Just as if they were parting at the end of the school day.
Gin bid farewell to the two.
The two yelled as they fell down. Eventually, They disappeared into the darkness.
Still feeling the warmth of the hands she was holding. She picked up her axes. The Vertexes had already finished regenerating, and were advancing. The girl confronted the three monsters.
[I told them to leave this to me, so if I don't take responsibility I would look really uncool...]
[Let's do this!!!!]
Gin charged at the Scissors Vertex with an immense speed. She had already grasped its weakness from the exchange earlier. The scissors part is pretty solid, but its torso apparently wasn't. She violently slashed at the part Sumi's arrows seemed to be most effective on. The Vertex in the middle started shooting arrows. Gin used the Scissors Vertex as a shield against them. The long-tailed one attacked her from a blind spot. Gin joined her axes and blocked the needle, then charged and started attacking it. The other Vertex was still shooting its arrows.
If she were to pause here, she would be overwhelmed by the three monsters. Gin braced herself, as she limited her dodging to simply twisting her body around so as not to get hit in her vitals. Arrows pierced her all over. Still, she didn't stop her assault. She stayed close to the long tailed Vertex as she mercilessly attacked with her axes. She completely ignored all attacks that wouldn't cause fatal wounds. By abandoning defense, she was able to deal great amounts of damage with her blows.
[You monsters wouldn't understand this kind of strength!]
She kept pushing the three monsters back, while taking their attacks all by herself.
[This here is the will of humans!!]
Thus, she howled. As she swung her two axes. She attacked the three monsters one after another, as if she were dancing. The monsters were faltering in response to Gin's erratic onslaught. Little by little, they were heading back.
[GET..THE HELL OUUUUUUUT!!]
Gin's family's faces flashed through her mind. Her baby brother; he should be sound asleep around this time. She was planning on raising him with love, to be her loyal underling. She wondered if he'd think his sister was super cool, if he ever heard about her accomplishment.
The arrows of light were stuck to Gin's feet, as if stopping her movements. She almost lost her balance, and collapsed, but she stood firm. This is no time to be collapsing. She clenched teeth and continued attacking. Her body, that should have reached its limit long ago, was strangely still able to move. Her vision blurred.
But she couldn't stop her assault.
Sumi, Sonoko, her family, baby brother, school, friends. She was going to protect them all. Swinging her axes as she was absorbed in her own thoughts. Gin's yells echoed through the big bridge.
Eventually, her consciousness faded into a white light.
Sumi and Sonoko climbed back up the bridge. They had healed enough to be able to move again. Uneasiness was coursing through Sumi's whole body.
It was too quiet.
They climbed up to the top, but there was no one there. All there was a blood trail and traces of destruction leading up to the wall. They were proof Gin drove the enemy back.
They dragged their bodies still in pain as they ran ahead.
(Gin...We'll be there in a moment...I can at least provide cover fire.)
(Coming up with your own battle tactic without the leader's approval, prepare yourself for a lecture when we get back.)
The two soon arrived to the wall. The enemy was nowhere to be seen.
Standing there, in front of the giant wall, was Minowa Gin alone still holding her axe in hand.
Sumi and Sonoko felt relieved. They approached their friend with their hands on their chests.
[Mino-san...You drove them away. Amazing, that's so amazing~]
[The world will be back to normal soon. Let's head straight to the hospital when we go back...!]
The two called over.
But Gin didn't answer.
[Gin? What's wrong?]
No response still.
Staring intensely at the wall, as if to make sure no enemy would attempt to come back.
Her crimson outfit, now painted bright red with her own blood.
The girl stood still.
Translator's Notes and References
1. ↑ In the original script, this term is written as ずっ友達 (Zuttomodachi). It is a portmanteau of ずっと (Forever) and 友達 (Friends). This is a slang term in japanese and we used the equivalent english slang BFF (Best Friend Forever) to translate it.
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