Wings of Unity
We utilized our jump-packs and boosted downwards onto the streets below, after running through the city streets and coming to the end of a highway. The Blue Team followed behind me, and I could hear the engines of the Frames from Dagger 3-1 also behind us.
The darkness of the night began to shroud over Urasaki, but the beam of light emerging from the Core brought light into the city.
“What’s the plan now, sir?” Nobu asked as we soared down.
“Strategic Command ordered us to get to the Core as fast as we can, but it won’t be possible without support,” I said. “There’s a Rhino Tank column from the 1st Armored Division ahead, and they’re pinned down by Harvesters.”
“So many delays...” Yusa muttered. “I still can’t believe all of this is happening...”
“I know...” I whispered to her before looking up to see the ASC Dawn continuing to rain down support from above with the ship’s weaponry. “But we made it this far. We won't give up now.”
We landed on the streets, which were littered with way more bodies than before as we neared the heart of Urasaki. I looked ahead and nearby I could see flashes of gunfire and the sound of explosions sounded in my ears.
“Radar is detecting a friendly force up ahead,” one of the Frame pilots, known as Pilot Jinto, said as his Frame boosted forward. “They’re swarmed.”
“I can't believe we get to work with Frames and Rhinos today! This is… too much for me to handle,” Nobu said.
“It’s scary, I know...” Yukino said back to him.
“Oh, no, I love it!” Nobu chuckled heartily. “Steel power and sheer amounts of weaponry – the Harvesters can’t compare!”
We took off towards the distress call from the Rhinos, using our jump-packs to soar through the air. As we arrived, we analyzed the situation at hand. Harvesters had broken through the defenses of the Troopers and Military Police as they were clashing within the debris and tanks at close quarters. With haste, we moved towards the nearest group of Troopers, stopping dead in our tracks as we shot at the Harvesters.
“Who’s in command!?” I asked amid the chaos. A Trooper waved downwards towards one of the Rhinos.
“When they said they were sending reinforcements… I didn’t think it’d be a bunch of Cadets!” he shouted back before pointing at one of the tanks. “Sergeant Eizo is! We’re just infantry from Echo Detachment to support them!”
I looked ahead and saw the emergence of dozens of Raiders from beyond. With Runners approaching and mingling amongst the defenses of the Troopers, we took off with speed to assist.
I ran up to the lead tank, seeing Sergeant Eizo fire an H45 Pistol from above. His yellow-colored armor signified his position as a member of an armored division.
“Sergeant Eizo!?” I shouted amidst the chaos.
He turned to me and nodded his head. “Kitaru Ozaki! Good to finally see you, wish we didn’t meet under the circumstances of this hellhole! We need your assistance right away – get these undead bastards away from my column!”
“Will do!” I looked behind me. “Blue Team, let’s move!”
We moved forward with the other Troopers, gunning down every Harvester in sight. I could feel a pinch in my wrists but shrugged off the pain, continuing to advance.
I witnessed a Runner pierce a Trooper through his chest before being gunned down by other Troopers. A group of Runners isolated a female Trooper and began to devour her on the spot, her screams piercing our ears.
A Stalker ripped the arm of a Trooper off his body and proceeded to stab the Trooper to death. A Trooper jumped onto the Stalkers back and stabbed it multiple times with his combat knife to kill it.
The Military Police weren’t as well equipped with their armor as the standard Trooper, and were easily torn apart in combat with the Harvesters.
The Harvesters had broken through their line of defense, engaging in close quarters combat with Troopers as Runners littered in between the Rhinos and debris. One jumped out from the front of a Rhino and surprised me with its claws ready to strike.
As I was about to gun it down, I felt the same pain in my wrist and I couldn’t press the trigger. Before I knew it, the Runner was killed and Yusa shuffled past me, looking back at me.
“What are you doing, Ozaki!? Daydreaming?” she yelled. “You’re going to get yourself killed by acting like that!”
What… what’s happening?
A tank moved forward, crushing the Runners underneath its massive chassis. It turned its turret towards the horde and fired, decimating the Runners as limbs and blood flew around.
A Raider wildly ran towards the Rhino, with black drool pooling from its mouth. It aimed its cannon at the Rhino and fired, destroying the Rhino instantaneously with a gigantic explosion that also killed the surrounding Troopers and Harvesters.
“SHIT!” Sergeant Eizo shouted as he slammed the top of his Rhino. “ALL RHINOS, BACK UP! GET AWAY FROM THE RAIDERS!”
More Raiders emerged and fired their cannons wildly, destroying another Rhino that killed more Troopers. The tanks shifted gears and immediately began to reverse backwards with haste. The other Troopers moved upwards, firing their M22 Assault Rifles to gun down the Raiders.
“Blue Team, give them some support!” I shouted. I sent majutsu blasts towards the Raiders that annihilated them and watched as Blue Team pushed up with the other Troopers to finish off the invading Harvesters.
Out of nowhere a sound that resembled that of a jet engine came to my ears. I looked up and saw someone with a pair of blue flame wings zoom by us towards the Harvesters and with a swipe of his sword made of blue flames, sent the remaining Harvesters to oblivion.
He landed onto the streets, with his sword and wings vanishing into thin air – revealing himself to be Lieutenant Zenko.
“Sensei!” Yusa said.
“Sorry I’m late,” Zenko said. “Sergeant Eizo, casualty report?”
“I’m down to only four remaining Rhinos, sir!” Sergeant Eizo shouted back as he saluted from the top of his Rhino. “We’ve lost over two dozen Troopers. We’re severely crippled here, sir.”
“Roger that, take a breath before we move up,” Zenko said as he began walking towards us. “Dagger 3-1, good to see you in action.”
“Likewise, Lieutenant,” Pilot Jinto said.
“Blue Team, status?” he asked us as he stood in front of us.
I nodded my head. “We’re all good to go, sensei. Zero casualties.”
“Good work,” he returned the nod. “By the way… I heard what you all did earlier with Corporal Saori and the civilians… I just want to let you know I’m very proud of you.”
“Thank you, sensei,” Yusa said.
The rest of the Blue Team nodded their heads. Zenko looked around at the destruction of the previous engagement – the countless bodies of Harvesters and Troopers, along with the burning wreckage of what used to be the Rhinos.
“Those Raiders… they did all of that...” Nobu said.
“Raiders fire a deadly beam that destroys anything and everything in its path,” Zenko sighed. “We need to move up, make sure that there’s a clear path so that the Rhinos are as safe as possible – we need as much fire support as we can.”
“Fire support, sensei?” Sayaka asked.
“With this being something that nobody has seen before, the five Harvester Cores, we don’t know what we’re dealing with here,” he replied. “If Kitaru’s Danketsu isn’t able to do much against them… we’re firing everything we have at the main Core.”
“Will… will that work, sensei?” Yukino asked.
“Take a look,” Zenko pointed to the ground. “The Core’s feeding off the ground – giving energy to create more Harvesters. It’s geographically reshaping Urasaki to resemble the hollowness of the Void. We don’t have much choice.”
The ground was now more cracked than before, it was a surprise that the Earth hadn’t torn itself apart yet.
“Sensei, wouldn’t it make more sense to move up with the Rhinos? What if we encounter more hordes than we can handle?” I asked.
“There is no way I’m risking anymore of my Rhinos until a path is cleared, Cadet,” Sergeant Eizo said. “Take a few squads of Troopers and push up, we’ll be right behind you as soon as it’s cleared.”
“He’s right, Kitaru,” Zenko added with a small nod. “We don't have much left to sacrifice. The frontlines are moving slowly as everyone else is pushing towards the Core, we don’t have much time.”
“What if we need support?” I asked him.
“We’ll be right behind you,” Pilot Jinto said as his Frame and the other two took a step towards us. “We’re as vulnerable to the blasts of Raiders as you are, but we’re more mobile.”
“Pilot… are you sure?” Zenko asked.
“Our job is to get Kitaru to the Core,” he replied. “And we’re going to make sure it’s done.”
“Very well,” Zenko nodded. “Echo squads 1, 3, and 5 are to move with Blue Team and Dagger 3-1 to clear the way of any Harvester Raiders! The rest of you, safeguard the Rhinos.”
A sudden static tingled into my ears.
“This is Delta Detachment! We’re severely overrun by Harvester forces along the East side of Urasaki! Requesting immediate assistance!” a voice over the radio said. I looked up towards my right and saw gunfire and fog, indicating a large horde. “We’ve lost all of our armor! Please, somebody help us!”
“Kitaru, they’re going to need my help. Unfortunately, with the way the Harvesters invaded Urasaki, it caused our forces to be scattered almost five blocks away from each other. I doubt anyone else will be able to help them. Stick with Sergeant Eizo and his column, they’ll get you to the Core,” Zenko said with a nod.
“Roger that,” I nodded before turning towards Blue Team and ushering for them to follow me. “Let’s go, guys.”
The other Troopers began to follow after us as well, giving us a manpower of nearly thirty Troopers total.
“Kitaru, wait,” Zenko called out to me. I turned around to face him. “You’re in charge of this one.”
“Yes, sir,” I nodded. I felt my heart sink, knowing Danketsu still wasn’t functional. I glanced behind me at the Blue Team and sighed. “Let’s hope it’s not as bad as we think it’ll be.”
“RAIDERS! INCOMING!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, seeing dozens of blasts spread throughout a wide radius heading towards us. I dived for cover behind a concrete wall, hearing the explosions of the devastating Raider blasts landing around me.
I heard screams from fellow Troopers sound as they were torn apart by the blasts from the Raiders. I looked around, seeing them being killed before my eyes.
“ANOTHER VOLLEY! LOOK OUT!” one Trooper screamed. More blasts flew by and I could hear additional screams of death around me.
I glanced around, trying to find the rest of Blue Team to see if they were caught in any of the Raider’s volleys.
“Nobu?” I called out.
“Still in one piece, sir!” I heard his husky voice shout.
“Yukino?” I called out.
“He-here, senpai!” Yukino’s voice quivered. I saw her hiding behind another concrete wall, with the body of a deceased Trooper next to her.
“There’s… there’s a lot of dead… I don’t know how to treat their injuries, senpai!” Sayaka yelled.
“Erika, Shadow, are you guys good!?” I shouted over to them. Erika popped her head out of cover and nodded before going back down, and I saw Shadow pop his hand out with a thumbs-up.
“All Echo callsigns?” I called over the radio.
“Echo 1 is good!” a Trooper said.
“Echo 5 has lost half of our squad!” another voice said.
“Echo 3?” I asked.
“Echo 3 was completely wiped out… they were caught in the initial volley,” Pilot Jinto said. “We’re unable to move up to assist, our targeting systems are detecting we have an eighty-percent chance of being caught in their volleys. You have to eliminate them, Blue Team.”
“Damn it… so much for being right behind us...” I gritted my teeth. “Yusa was near them… wait...”
“Yusa!?” I shouted. “YUSA!”
“O… Ozaki...” I heard her softly say.
I looked around and found her stuck under the weight of a couple dead Troopers. I ran out from my cover, evading more blasts from the Raiders. I picked up my speed and slid down, hearing the armor of my knees scrape against the concrete.
I moved the bodies of the bloodied and dead Troopers to the side, hearing Yusa groan in pain.
“Sayaka! We need you over here!” I shouted.
In less than seconds, Sayaka was already by our side, tending to the injured Yusa. She examined Yusa, checking her entire body for any wounds.
“She’s just a bit dazed, senpai,” Sayaka said. “The wind was knocked out of her.”
I could hear more screams of deaths from the Troopers around us, fearing that one of the voices may soon be a cry coming from someone on the Blue Team. I felt anger surge through my veins, fueling my majutsu powers reactivation.
“Protect her, Kitaru-dono. Protect them,” I heard Itsuko’s voice say.
With a surge of energy coursing through my body, I let out a scream.
“GAHHHHH!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, seeing blue flames light up around my body. I jumped on top of the barrier and saw dozens of Raiders begin to move towards us and I brought my fists up, dropping my M22 to the ground.
With swift movements, I shot my arms forward, seeing the blue flames move with my arms. “CERULEAN ILLUMINATION!” I screamed, and a high-powered beam of majutsu shot out from the end of my fists.
The beam disintegrated everything in front of me, turning the battlefield ahead into nothing but craters and rubble – eliminating every Raider that was gunning us down.
“Sen-senpai...” Sayaka whispered behind me.
I looked behind me, finally seeing the many casualties we had. From our force of nearly fifty Troopers supporting us, we were now down to nearly half in a matter of minutes. Troopers were treating those that hadn’t died by the Raider’s blasts, but without the necessary equipment needed to treat a Raider blast, it was mere moments before they would succumb to their injuries.
The rest of the Blue Team ran up to us and Sayaka helped Yusa to her feet.
“That was incredible, sir,” Nobu said as he huffed.
“You took them all out in one blast… Are you okay, senpai?” Yukino asked me.
Coming with the tremendous power of majutsu, it does take a toll on the user’s body if more than enough energy is used in one sitting. I could feel my head begin to ache and I shook it, trying to get rid of the aching.
“I’m… I’m okay, Akiyama-san...” I nodded as I panted heavily.
“Senpai,” Erika said as she pointed at me. “Your body isn’t used to the power of majutsu yet, you need to be more careful when casting your powers, especially new ones...”
“Where did that even come from, Ozaki?” Yusa asked, back to normal as if nothing had happened to her. “Danketsu?”
“N-no...” I shook my head. “It was from Itsuko.”
“Uh.... who?” Sayaka asked.
“It’s the voice inside Ozaki’s head,” Yusa explained calmly.
“Kitaru-senpai has a voice inside his head?” Yukino asked.
“Sounds like he’s gone crazy,” Erika retorted.
“You tell me,” Yusa remarked. “Crazy and stupid apparently. Ozaki, you don’t put that type of stress on your body, you got that? Takimoto-san, please check him.”
The Troopers from Echo Detachment began to move up to cover the area ahead of us while we took a moment to reassess ourselves. Sayaka began scanning me with one of her medical devices and I looked at Yusa.
“The whole reason why I...” I felt an ache in my chest. “Was to save everyone...”
“At the cost of your own self? Are you stupid?” Yusa’s eyes lit up with anger. “What’s the whole point of this mission if you’re going to throw yourself out there to be killed!?”
Sayaka finished scanning me and she slowly shook her head as she took a step back.
“Senpai… I don’t think your body can handle another one of those majutsu techniques...” she muttered gravely. “Your blood pressure has drastically increased and your heart rate has lowered significantly… I highly advise you don’t put that amount of stress on your body again until we can get your properly treated… you can die, senpai.”
I grabbed my chest and I sighed, finally being able to catch my breath.
I can die...
“If… I use majutsu… I can die?” I asked.
“Only for now because of how your body is,” Sayaka nodded. “Anything as severe as you just recently did, that’s for sure. Small majutsu powers should be… less threatening.”
“Ozaki,” Yusa spoke up. “I’m telling you now, let us handle what’s to come. You can’t put yourself at risk like this.”
No… I can’t let you...
“She’s right, senpai,” Erika added. “Trust me, I’ve seen people who aren’t able to harness their powers correctly. It’s an excruciatingly painful way to die.”
“Who… said anything about dying?” I said as I took a step forward. “Nobody’s going to die today. Not if I can help it.”
But if it comes down to it… I’ll sacrifice myself for any one of you...
Yusa looked at me and shook her head.
It’s like she knows what I’m thinking...
“Sir… are you sure you don’t need to rest for a moment?” Nobu asked.
“We have no time!” I replied in a loud voice as I looked at the cracked earth below us. The ground was beginning to turn into a dark gray. “The more time we waste, the less likely chance we have of winning this! We need to move.”
“Senpai’s right,” Yukino spoke in a soft voice.
Shadow nodded along in agreement.
I began walking away to regroup with the other Troopers and I heard the Blue Team follow behind me.
“Sergeant Eizo!” I said over the radio. “Area has been secured. Your Rhinos are safe to move up. Please maintain a firing distance and send an additional Echo squad up to us, we need all the help we can get.”
“Copy that, Kitaru,” Sergeant Eizo replied. “Rhinos are moving up and Echo 7 has been reassigned with you.”
We need all the help we can get...
“Pilot Jinto, are you with us?” I asked.
“On your tail, Kitaru,” Pilot Jinto announced and I heard the Frames boost up behind us. We continued walking down the street and I could see the Core right in front of us in the distance – we were almost there.
“Senpai… I’m detecting something...” Sayaka said as she looked at the radar device in her hands. “Way more Harvesters than before… and they’re in the air!” she shouted.
I looked ahead towards the distance, I saw a massive horde of Runners and Stalkers running toward us, with a fog trailing behind them from the Core. At the head of their horde, a taller Stalker with a longer spear-like arm and an armored back led the charge.
From the top of the fog, black enigmas in the shape of spheres emerged – the Harvester’s aircraft, the Harvester Shade.
I gritted my teeth and glanced behind me to see the ASC forces of Troopers, Frames, and Rhinos in the distance. I grabbed Danketsu off my back and held tightly onto the handle of the blade.
The taller Stalker noticed I was carrying Danketsu, and its red eyes turned blue. It let out a tremendous roar, louder than any Brute, and it picked up its pace towards me.
“What is that thing? A new Stalker?” Yusa asked.
“With the way it’s acting, it’s like a predator,” Nobu said. “It’s targeting Danketsu, sir.”
“The Harvester Predator...” I mumbled. “Good name, Nobu.”
“Thank you, sir,” he chuckled. “I’ve always been the smartest one out of my siblings. Then again, I’m an only child.”
“What do we do, senpai?” Yukino asked. “They’re blocking the way to the Core.”
“We fight, everyone,” I affirmed with a nod.
“More blood for my blade,” Erika coolly commented.
Shadow cocked his SR1 Sniper Rifle and took a knee in front of us. He aimed down and fired a shot towards the Predator. The Predator dodged the bullet in an instant and the bullet killed a Runner behind it, and the Predator let out another tremendous roar.
“Did… did it just dodge your bullet?” Nobu asked Shadow, who glanced over his shoulder and nodded.
“It’s smart,” Erika mentioned. “... That’s going to be a treasure on my blade...”
“Dagger 3-1, engage all hostile aircraft! Clear the skies! Sergeant Eizo, have your tanks open fire onto the horde – we're going to need to knock down as many as possible!” I ordered them over the radio. “All Troopers with available Defense Constructs, set up barricades and dig in!”
“Copy that, Kitaru,” Pilot Jinto said as he and the other two Frames took a step past us. “Dagger 3-1, on me. Target’s locked, we’re in the grid.”
The three Frames ignited their jets and soared to the sky – heading straight for the dozen Harvester Shades. Gunfire and explosions soon erupted over us as they began their battle in the air. I watched as Pilot Jinto’s Frame grabbed a Shade and threw it up against the building wall to destroy it – sending rubble into the streets below them.
“Opening fire!” Sergeant Eizo’s voice shouted into the radio. The booming sound of the Rhinos behind us firing rocked the Earth, sending vibrations into our veins as the missiles soared past us and impacted the ranks of the Runners and Stalkers, eliminating as many of them as possible with every shell fired.
“Defenses are set up!” a Trooper shouted to me.
I looked around and saw the Troopers and the Blue Team dig into cover – either behind the Constructs that were created or finding any type of cover.
“Ozaki, I’m dangerously low on energy for my Constructs...” Yusa said. “The battle earlier with Corporal Saori took a toll on my energy...”
“Damn it,” I shook my head before looking around. “Status report!”
“Multiple reports of low energy for Constructs and we’re running low on ammunition,” Sayaka said to me over the radio. “What’s the plan with this new information, senpai?”
“We still fight!” I pointed at the Core. “Everyone, we’re almost there! I know we’re tired, but trust me! We can put an end to this the moment we get to the Core – everybody is counting on us!”
“Blue Team, do you copy?” an unknown voice said over the radio.
I looked at Yusa and she shrugged. “Blue Team copies, over.”
“This is Captain Higona of the 112th Rapid Response Forces, we’ve successfully evacuated the city of all noncombatants. Lieutenant Zenko has put me into contact with you. I’m able to provide available assets to your location to assist in your advance on the Core,” Captain Higona replied.
“Thank you, Captain. Who do you have for us?”
“Three Cranes are on the way to drop off five squads from my Lima Detachment to assist. I have a flight of three Fang Zeroes about to enter airspace to provide available gun runs, designation is Hawkeye 4-5,” he replied. “One heavy weapons team under the name Squad Sasaki is foot mobile towards your position along with a Frame.”
“Is he talking about Ayano-chan?” Sayaka asked.
“Huh… looks like they didn’t get to miss out at all!” Nobu huffed.
“Sasaki… that means she’s in charge of her own squad?” Erika shook her head. “Who put that numbskull in charge of a squadron?”
“Captain, are your Cranes able to evacuate our wounded?” I asked, thinking of the Troopers from before who were injured by the Raider’s blasts.
“Only if your Frames can keep the Shades off my Cranes, that’s all that matters,” Captain Higona replied. “These are my only Cranes and Fang Zeroes left, please use them wisely.”
Soon enough, the engines of three Cranes landing sounded. I looked behind me and saw a few dozen Troopers quickly shuffle out of their Cranes to join our ranks in defending against the incoming horde.
“Sayaka and Nobu, get the wounded onboard!” I shouted to her. “Dagger 3-1, keep those Shades off the Cranes while we get the wounded out of here!”
“Yes, senpai!” Sayaka exclaimed as she and Nobu, along with a dozen Troopers, began to help load the wounded onboard the dropships.
“We’ll do our best, but we’re severely outnumbered here!” Pilot Jinto said in a rough voice. “Dagger 3-1, disengage thrusters and hover above the Cranes. Set your guidance level to defensive!”
The three Frames’ engines were cut and they hovered above the Cranes, engaging the passing Shades with their long-range weaponry.
Sergeant Eizo’s Rhinos continued to provide fire, with the sound of their thundering cannons resonating through the streets. The Trooper around me began to open fire at the humongous horde of Runners.
“Hawkeye 4-5, standby for gun run. Please advise, danger close. Repeat, danger close,” a voice over the radio spoke up.
“Danger close!?” Sayaka shouted in confusion.
“It means they’re going to fire close to us!” Nobu shouted in return as he fired his minigun.
The sound of approaching engines echoed through the night sky. I looked up and saw the Frames begin to move out of the way.
Three Fang Zeroes zoomed by over us, unleashing their weapons and dropping bombs into the hordes. They waved off after their passing gun run, and I saw that they decimated the horde into nothing but smoke and debris flying about.
From the smoke, the Predator emerged without a scratch. More Runners trailed the Predator and they neared our lines. I heard the engines of the Frames let out a whistle and they joined us on the ground – in order to help advance.
Gunfire erupted all around me as the Troopers began to open fire. The Blue Team did the same thing and began to fire their weapons at the horde. Blood and limbs littered the Harvesters' advance as we killed as many of them as possible.
The Predator’s eyes glowed and I looked down at Danketsu, who I held in my hands. I tightly gripped onto the Divine Weapon and the Predator howled.
“Senpai!?” Yukino’s voice shouted.
“OZAKI!” Yusa screamed. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”
“GAAAAH! I’M KILLING THIS THING!” I shouted as I charged towards the Predator, cutting down as many Runners with Danketsu as I could.
The Predator charged towards me, pushing a group of Troopers out of the way into the hungry arms of the Runners who began to claw and bite into their armor. The Predator stabbed another Trooper and lifted her up before using its other arm to rip her into two pieces, her screams quickly silenced.
“It’s going for Danketsu!” I heard someone shout.
The Predator swung at me and I dodged it with a swift roll, hearing its spear-like arm crash into the ground. Since I was out of length to swipe Danketsu at the Predator, I quickly unholstered my H45 Pistol and fired a few rounds at the Predator.
As my bullets did nothing but anger the Predator, it let out a roar and slapped the H45 Pistol out of my hands before I could react. It’s skeletal and disfigured face looked at me for a second, before letting out another vicious howl.
The Predator grabbed me and took total control over me, slamming me into a nearby wall. I felt the wind get knocked out of me and my vision went completely black as my body ached with pain. The Predator dropped me to the ground, and I heard Danketsu clank as it landed a few feet away from me.
“Ugh...” I groaned in pain.
I opened my eyes to see the blurry vision of the Predator hovering above me. It brought up its spear-like arm and aimed straight for me. Gunfire pierced its armored back and it turned around, huffing heavily to see who attacked it.
I saw the blurry black and white armor that belonged to Yusa as she fired her M22 Assault Rifle. As she neared the Predator, she unleashed her electric Construct attack that knocked the Predator away but failed in killing it.
“Ozaki!” Yusa’s mumbled voice sounded in my ears. She ran up to me and kneeled by my side, looking at me. My hearing returned to normal and my eyes readjusted. I blinked and saw the Predator return, ready to kill the two of us.
It took a step towards us and before we knew it, it exploded into dozens of pieces and its blood flew everywhere. I looked up and saw a rocket soar by us and I tracked it with my eyes, seeing it collide with a group of Runners that destroyed multiple of the undead.
As more Runners emerged into view, I brought myself up to my knees with Yusa’s help. The Runners in front of us suddenly froze, gripping onto their ears and letting out shrieks as if there was something in their heads.
Erika, Shadow, Yukino, Sayaka, and Nobu had made their way to us to assist as well. They wiped out the Runners around us that were seemingly paralyzed.
“Reinforcements are here!” I heard Ayano’s voice shout. As soon as she said that, her, Tatsuharu, Mika, and Tomoko landed with the help of their jump-packs. “Squad Sasaki, here to kick some Harvester ass!”
“Kicking Harvester butt!” Tomoko cheered.
Guys… you’re here...
A Frame landed next to us, engaging the other Runners with its wrist-mounted weapon to gun them down. “Pilot Morita of Dagger 3-1, engaging enemy forces!” The Frame then boosted forward, with the other three Frames following after her.
“Take a look at this, senpai!” Tatsuharu exclaimed as he held a sound device in his hands. “It’s high-frequency noise is able to commit Harvesters into a temporary stasis, allowing us to eliminate them in moments! It’s a new weapon – the V500 Resounder!”
“What!?” I asked. “What does that mean!?”
“Less technical terms, Watanabe!” Yusa yelled as she helped me to my feet.
“It’ll stun Harvesters for a moment, which gives us a window of opportunity to kill them!” Mika shouted as she fired her M22 Assault Rifle.
“Missed us, senpai?” Ayano asked with a chuckle.
Tomoko took a knee and fired a rocket towards the Runners that killed nearly over a dozen of them. “Senpai, look! I found more rockets for my launcher!”
“Yeah...” I nodded. “I did miss you guys...”
ASC Troopers began to push forward with the rest of Blue Team, with Tatsuharu continuing to use the V500 Resounder to disable the Harvesters.
We’re doing this...
I noticed that we were now near the Core enough to the point where our tanks and heavy weapons could start dealing maximum damage.
“Open fire on the Core! Infantry, protect the tanks!” I shouted into the radio.
“This is it! All Rhinos, open fire!” Sergeant Eizo ordered, and the thundering sound of cannons began to erupt in our ears.
“Dagger 3-1, fire all anti-vehicle weapons!” Pilot Jinto ordered. The Frames took a step forward and small missiles from their backs began deploying – heading straight for the Core.
I watched as the Core was beginning to be covered in explosions by the nonstop bombardment from the Frames and Rhinos. The Fang Zeroes of Hawkeye 4-5 flew by once more, engaging in another gun run to assault the Core.
The ASC Dawn flew over us and the batteries on the ship began to pound into the Core below it.
I looked around and saw the other Cores in the distance begin to become enveloped in gunfire as well – meaning the other ASC units had reached their objective as well. My heart began to pound rapidly, feeling a sense of victory within our grasp.
We did it...
“Ozaki! This is it!” Yusa exclaimed.
I began walking faster towards the Core, clenching onto Danketsu.
Okay, this is it! Let’s destroy this thing, Danketsu!
Danketsu began to shake violently in my hands, enveloping itself in a blue hue that began to cover the Divine Weapon. As it vibrated wildly, it suddenly came to a stop – the blue hue disappearing.
The ground began to shake violently and I looked at the Core in front of us, whose beam doubled in size. As it seemingly began to grow larger without control, the Core exploded right before our very eyes.
That… that was it? Did we win? I didn’t even get to use Danketsu!
I looked down at the ground and saw that the concrete had cracked to the point where it was about to tear itself apart. In between the cracks, a blue light glowed. I looked back up to the Core and black flakes flew past us.
The powerful wind moved the flakes towards where the Core once was, and it began to form into the shape of something.
It’s… it’s building something...
The black flakes formed into that of a black, gigantic creature in the shape of a twisted dragon. It towered over every other building in the city, and its eyes lit up with a blue hue. Like the sound of an engine, steam escaped its back and flames emerged.
Screams and shouts of confusion erupted around me, causing panic among the ASC ranks.
“What the hell is that!?” Ayano shouted.
“That… that does not look friendly at all!” Tomoko said with worry.
“I don’t think we have enough bullets for that one, sir!” Nobu shouted.
“Ozaki...” I felt someone grab my arm and I looked over and saw Yusa, fear written among her face. “What’s… happening?”
“I don’t know...” I put my hand over hers and held her tightly.
“Unknown entity spotted! Detecting high amounts of concentrated majutsu coming from it… what is this!?” Captain Nakajima said. “This is the ASC Dawn, we’re engaging!”
The multiple batteries of the frigate opened fire on the shadowy beast, raining heavy fire down upon the monster. After seconds of non-stop firing that enveloped the beast in smoke, they ceased fire. The beast stood in the same spot it was, unaffected.
“N-no...” I muttered.
The beast opened its mouth, and a beam of flames shot out that struck the ASC Dawn, causing massive explosions on the ship that hindered it useless.
“This is the ASC Dawn, we’re going down! I repeat, we have lost all control and are going down!” Captain Nakajima screamed over the radio.
We watched in helpless silence as the ASC Dawn descended into the mountains past Urasaki, crashing in a fiery explosion that sent a thunderous quake. We all stood silently shocked at what had just happened, and I could feel everyone grow with fear and worry.
The monstrous being let out a roar that echoed throughout the entire city. It looked up into the night sky and opened its mouth – sending a volley of flames high into the sky. The fireballs then descended back to the ground – heading straight for us.
“Wh-what...” my eyes widened.
The Headmistress walked into the room of an ASC command center, where Strategic Command took station. Akane and Toyosaki followed in behind her, seeing the business of the room as officers ran around in haste and voices overlapped one another.
“The ASC Dawn has been wiped out,” an officer said. “We need to send reinforcements as soon as possible.”
“Reinforcements are already on the way,” a man standing at the center of the room said in his gruff voice.
“ASC Dawn’s been destroyed...” Toyosaki whispered to the Headmistress and Akane.
“We’ve been called here for a reason,” the Headmistress replied. “Don’t expect any good news.”
The man that stood in the center of the room by a holographic board that displayed the entire city of Urasaki turned around – his dark-gray, slicked-back hair and beard, along with a noticeable scar that traced from above his right eye to his left cheek brought attention to Akane.
“Dad...” Akane said.
“Akane,” Colonel Kyosuke Ozaki nodded. “I’m glad that you all showed up. We have a problem.”
“Every time I see you, there always seems to be a problem,” the Headmistress remarked with a faint smile. “Well, what’s the situation?”
“We’ve successfully evacuated the suburbs of Urasaki with minimal losses,” Colonel Ozaki said. “The Blue Team was headed towards the Harvester Cores in downtown Urasaki and everyone is accounted for so far. It was wise to send the Blue Team with Kitaru.”
“Sounds like great news,” Akane said. “What’s exactly the situation, dad?”
“Well… with the ASC Dawn being destroyed...” Colonel Ozaki stepped aside and revealed the holographic board, the city of Urasaki was being towered over by a monstrous being. “We were wrong about the Harvester Cores… they weren’t being used as energy for the Harvesters...”
“They were being used to summon that...” the Headmistress leaned in closer and she gasped, her eyes widening with surprise. “It’s… it’s unbelievable.”
“I know,” Colonel Ozaki sighed before being tapped on the shoulder by an officer. “What is it?”
“Commander Katō would like to have a word with you… in private, sir.”
“Very well,” Colonel Ozaki nodded.
The three women looked at the holographic map, specifically at the beast that had just appeared.
“What is it?” Toyosaki asked in a worried tone.
“It’s a Leviathan.”
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