Chapter 29 [Death Match]
TL : Cnine
ED/PF : akshaythedon
When everyone was taking refuge, Souji was standing alone with the spear in his hand just before the regulation pond at the crossroads.
The blazing flame that was still burning in front of the city was swelling from inside.
The thing appeared from inside was swarms of shining hexagonal prisms which had no soot on them.
「Around 25 huh.」
The CE that escaped from the bombing were slowly approaching toward Souji, towards where a large number of humans are present.
『WHAT ARE YOU DOING, SORACHI-KUN!?』
Kyoko, who had no spare time for each individual as she was busy with the instructions for evacuation, finally sent a transmission to Souji when she realized his intention.
「I’ll hold this line, I’ll be the rear guard.」
『Please stop this at once, you have no need to do something like this――』
「So that there won’t be any victim？」
The answer to that question was nothing but silence. When push comes to shove, the young people with good physical fitness can run away easily.
But, the younger children and elderly won’t have a such chance.
Though some of them were being carried inside the armored vehicle, not all of them can be carried as there were too many at the moment.
Moreover, the shortest road was overflowing with numerous people walking on them, and it’ll take too long to travel through that route. Therefore, they can do nothing but take a detour.
Though the movement speed of CE is slow, it’s still around 100 metres/minutes, which is around the same speed as an adult male.
Moreover, on taking into consideration the fact that they never get tired, the chance of catching up to the weakened group walking away in fear was too high and easy.
『But, you alone without anyone is―』
「Those who still have some leeway, how many are remaining？」
For the second question, her answer was also silence. That means, except for Souji, no one has any leeway to fight.
Though there’s two of them if it’s comes to the one who remained uninjured, it was a person who didn’t have ability to solo CE, a shield user like Kanna.
Everyone in the shooting unit had reached their limits, and with the close combat unit having their emotional power and stamina in dire states, the ones who could fight was only around 20 people ――.
「There are five CEs who separated from the main body, they’ll go toward the direction of the civilians by travelling along the small road.」
「Some of them might have escaped in the missile bombing, gather the students to fight ！」
The helicopter had no leeway to come back and hunt down the remaining to counterattack the escaped CE.
「Even so, there’s no need for you to become a sacrifice alone. Even if you’re putting an air of hero, please don’t get carried away！ 」
Kyoko severely rebuked him, so harsh as if urging him to escape. But, Souji refused her order by slowly shaking his head.
「You’re wrong, sensei」
「Reika-senpai said to us, “We can’t become a hero“」
「It was right, I do not possess the qualifications to become a hero.」
A great personage who saves many lives.
The image of hero dearly embraced by Souji was this kind of hero of justice. [TL : Call me Emiya]
Besides, it’ll be a lie if he said that he didn’t yearn to be that kind of hero.
But, if he felt that he was someone so special and became conceited, he could only be termed childish.
「And then, I couldn’t even become a soldier」
He was unable to take any independent action as his hands and feet were completely tied by the order of the superior officer.
He knew that orders were the most important thing for an organization.
But, he couldn’t even act more mature and become a warrior of selfless devotion to his duty. [TL : Superior officer dog]
「In the end, I am just a martial artist, I’m nothing but a spear user.」
『……What are you talking about』
Kyoko became anxious on seeing such a calm and disappointed demeanor from the taciturn figure before her.
But, the concern was out of place, he continued with his sentence.
「I understood something when I fought CE a while ago」
The thing that burned inside Souji’s heart was neither a sense of duty nor his aspiration to be a hero.
「I’m fine with being alone in the battlefield, pitching forward without being burdened by anything.」
His feeling of wanting to protect people wasn’t a lie, and he was happy of the fact that he had reliable comrades. However, when fighting, he wanted to feel his spear in solitude and it was only possible in battle during the moment where an exchange of life would occur. That was the true face of Sorachi Souji that was hidden behind his mature mask.
Whatever was said to anyone else, it’s the true face of a man who had continuously wielded his spear for more than a decade.
「Thus, this is a part of my own selfishness too.」
After telling that to the speechless Kyoko, he unfastened his headset and put it on the ground.
He did it because the line of communication and the display on his left eye were nothing but a hindrance.
「Sorry, I kept you waiting.」
Facing the CE’s who would soon pass the 100 meter mark, he set his spear ready after apologizing.
Beyond this point, words were unnecessary.
He became one with the spear, competing to take each other’s life.
The CE advanced with unchanging speed towards Souji who was waiting in silence.
50 meters, 40 meters, 35………. 30.
Simultaneously, red beams were being fired from the core of the vanguard CE.
But, in that moment, Souji was already running with a low posture like a beast. [TL : Ehm, like Lancer….. Let’s pray that he didn’t suffer from the same ending]
Passing through under the beam, he rushed directly towards the front row CE. The stab, along with his charge, easily pierced through the crystal and destroyed the red sphere.
When exactly 5 seconds had elapsed, he made a big jump to his right expecting the next attack.
Friendlies became a hindrance and hence only three CE shot the beam.
Souji had reacted to that with the wide spearhead of Tonbogiri.
「Way too accurate.」
The attack of CE is always focussed towards the center of the human body, and concentrated at the pit of the human stomach. It was something he learnt from the previous battle.
He killed two of them with two consecutive thrusts. For the sake of not allowing any attack from behind, he circled to the other side of the enemy to use it as a shield.
He just repeated the same moves over and over again.
Stab, avoid, stab stab, avoid stab.
These movements were just like a program, even more elaborate and precise than a CE.
It was at the juncture when he had almost reached the end of the battle by defeating the 25th one. Suddenly, a red beam materialized from the blazing flame behind the CE.
Without even a chance to raise a surprised voice, it pierced Souji’s body that had stiffened after using his skill.
The remaining beams were targeting his 4 limbs and he jumped back.
Though he avoided it by jumping to his right, at the place where he was about to land, another red light arrived from behind the smoke. Judging that it’ll be dangerous if it went this way, Souji retreated rapidly to open more than 30 metres distance so that the attacks won’t reach him.
「What is it？」
An attack at an impossible distance with an impossible timing.
Cold sweat started appearing on Souji’s forehead, THAT slowly came into sight from behind the blazing flame.
It had transparent crystal-like body, with it’s core shining red at it’s center.
THAT was truly similar with the CE that he had met until now.
But, it had a completely different form than the one he used to see.
It possessed a shape close to a circle consisting of twenty precise triangles – a regular icosahedron CE. [ED: Icosahedron is basically a polyhedron with twenty faces. Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icosahedron]
「A new species.」
As far as what they had learned in the class, CE had none but one variant since six years ago. The one coming out from this place had a completely different behavioral pattern and appearance from the usual ones.
Heading towards an alert and silent Souji, that icosahedral-shaped CE approached slowly using the hexagonal-shaped CE as its shield.
（Based on the feeling from the previous attack, it has an effective range of more than 100 metres）
But, even if he entered that range, those icosahedral ones aren’t emitting light from their core, it won’t launch an attack.
（That beam was certainly shot at the moment of my stiffness.）
It is inevitable that a momentary gap will be created at the end of each attack, defense, and evasion. The interval of attack until now was long and ridiculously accurate, even if there was a gap of action, they performed it safely without making any mistake in timing.
That advantage was smashed due to this one with the new type of attack.
（How advanced is this new guy？）
Souji’s brain processed at full speed while he was slowly retreating.
The height of intelligence for this icosahedral one might not have reached the human or animal level.
It was because they showed no intention to adopt a tactic such as to use the other hexagonal CE to surround him so that all his escape routes were cut down.
（Around an advanced program, huh）
Maybe around the level of CPU of a fighting game, moreover the so called hard mode. Though it performed techniques with an inhuman reflex speed, after all, it is being decided by an algorithm, beating them will become easy if an analysis of their pattern is done.
The problem was whether his Phantom Material Armor could withstand until he unraveled its pattern.
「……I shall do it huh」
As he planned his action and resolved himself, Souji kicked his foot on the ground to propel ahead.
And instantly entering the 30 metres line, and the beam of the whole body being fired off, he keep running ahead while defending with the spearhead of Tonbogiri that he hold in rather short grip.
The beam of the icosahedral was inching towards him.
The place it was aiming at was his left shoulder, not the pit of his stomach, the new type was smart enough to see through the place where the defense was thin.
He keep running while ignoring the shock toward his shoulder while stabbing at the hexagonal vanguards. The attack of the icosahedral CE did not come towards Souji as its body hardened after attacking with the core.
（It seems the charging time isn’t that fast）
But, the remaining 3 hexagonal types were shining at their cores for the second time. Though he was already used to the method to evade them, the continuous pursuit of the icosahedral one made it difficult for him to avoid their attack.
（First is severing the source of anxiety.）
Ignoring the footsteps of the creeping God of Death, he thrust his Tonbogiri towards the 3 hexagonal ones in front of him. His lightning thrust instantly pierced the core of the three, and as he expected, the beam fired by the icosahedral one followed after his attack.
That beam pierced through Souji chest, and the Phantom Converter on his arm let out the warning alarm.
（NOT YET, I CAN STILL FIGHT！）
It finally came to close combat, Souji was charging towards the icosahedral with a smile floating on his face. Just like that he released a full powered stab backed by his running speed.
But, just before his attack hit it’s target, the icosahedral started revolving at an high speed.
Tonbogiri that was thrusted was repelled before hitting the target. When Souji’s stance was destroyed due to repulsion of the spear, the icosahedral stopped revolving and immediately fired its red beam.
His chest got hit again, the Phantom Converter made an even more annoying sound.
But, his path of retreat was already no more.
For the sake of his survival, Souji started his last attack without any thoughts of retreat.
The stab with his Tonbogiri was repelled again by the revolution of the icosahedral.
But, now he separated his hand from his spear and leapt forward as it is.
With the icosahedral crystal revolving in the air, it was a suicidal act just like throwing himself into a mixer.
But, Souji’s aim was below, it was the slight gap between the ground and the floating crystal.
He entered an upturned position with his back behind him and he punched with his right first towards the weak point of revolution skill―― the center of revolution.
Sorachi Style – KoiRyuu [TL : Carp and Dragon]
It’s a counter skill using by turning of the whole body when being hold down in emergency situation to slip through the spear. In that punch, he fired a Phantom Material Punch by gathering the remaining Phantom Material Armor.
With the pointed end of his fist spinning like a drill, it produced sparks in the gap between his fist and the crystal.
And then, the crystal, making a high pitched sound, cracked.
The icosahedral slowly stopped it’s revolution but its core was still intact and let out an even stronger shine as if informing “I let you to do it your way“.
Even then, Souji wouldn’t get himself killed so easily.
He reformed the vanished Tonbogiri that had been flicked from his hand, following with a stab using his rising momentum.
Almost simultaneously, the core of the icosahedral also fired the last beam.
Tonbogiri traveled along that light of red destruction that approached Souji, and tore it into pieces just by touching it.
And then, it pierced through the body and stabbed right at the center of the red sphere.
The CE who had no intellect didn’t mutter anything and just crumbled. But, as for Souji, it was as if he noticed the voice of the icosahedral.
――You win, but, it’s our victory.
Light extended from inside the blazing flame for the second time, it piercing through Souji who was mustering with his whole soul.
Without even managing to avoid that, Souji fell on his knees as the beam pierced right through the center of his body.
The unceasing warning sound was the evidence that he was at his limit.
But, ignoring that sound, Souji’s actually felt that one of his foot was already inside the grave.
His whole body started to feel sluggish, his head felt as if it would be disconnected at any moment. It became hazy and he was unable to think properly.
His Phantom Material Armor vanished. Since, the Phantom Material Interference ability was the origin of that power―― it seemed as if he had completely dried up his willpower.
Losing the power to keep its form, even Tonbogiri in his right hand was slowly disappearing.
A partially destroyed icosahedral CE appeared from inside the scorching flame and came in front of Souji who had, somehow or another, retreated by mustering his remaining willpower. It should have received a direct hit from the anti-tank missile – hellfire.
The crack had reached till it’s core, though it became considerably slower both in attack and movement speed, the red light didn’t vanish, it still possessed the power to deliver a finishing blow to the boy at the throes of death.
「This is the end huh……」
In front of the death that was quickly approaching, his feeling was unexpectedly not that of fear. But, it was just disappointment about the fact that he was unable to stand once again in the place where he could finally feel alive.
Souji, on the verge of death, was facing the CE as he raised his fist and pitched forward till the bitter end. The partially destroyed crystal body didn’t show any change, and simply just shortened the distance, and fired its soul-stealing beam――