Frire wielded her sword and glared at the infiltrator with anger and hostility.
A normal person would have long fallen on their back in the face of the pressure she emanated, but the person before her just laughed.
“Aha! So being too greedy and trying to run a Mind skill experiment was a bad idea. Not only did you name the kids I played with, you even know the organization I’m from! Wow! What kind of magic trick is that?”
“Sorry, but I’m not telling you anything. I do sympathize with your bad luck, though.”
Frire slipped out a chuckle as though she’d remembered something, then she knitted her brows.
The infiltrator was frustrated that she’d been found out because of some seemingly funny reason, but she pretended to be calm.
One thing she strangely got right was that the skill experiment was a bad idea.
The army was more or less the only one in the know about the matters regarding the Mind skill experiments, so it was a clear hint that soldiers had been involved.
Moreover, it brought to mind the names of the organizations that could get past the city’s defenses and come up with and execute such thorough plans without getting caught. There weren’t many such terrorist organizations.
However, the person who figured everything out didn’t actually have much confidence in his guess since it was based purely off of circumstantial evidence.
“…Is that so? Unfortunately, the real one isn’t around anymore, so even if you ask me to return her identity, well, I can’t help you there.”
“Even then,” Frire said.
The infiltrator’s words implied that the real Lesca was no longer in this world, but Frire likely expected that. ‘Despite that’, she still asked her to give back what she’d taken and glared at her with her golden eyes.
In the face of that pressure emanating from Frire, the infiltrator exhaled and made an exasperated face.
“…Fuu, I see you’re as stupidly serious as ever. What a boring woman.”
A wave of faint agitation washed over Frire’s face.
The infiltrator felt a sense of superiority at that. All she’d done was to restore her voice, and yet she’d already connected the dots.
‘So she still remembers me,’ she smiled.
“So, you found out, did you? Well, fine. I never liked this face in the first place. Screen cancel,” the infiltrator said.
“What!?” Frire said.
Without a hint of guilt from taking another person’s life, the face the infiltrator wore disappeared and her face returned to its original state.
From that blue hair that was relatively common in Garesto and that late thirties face to a pink-haired bob cut and a face that was around Frire’s age.
“Lieutenant Aria Banslet? Right, faking identities was your specialty!”
“That’s former lieutenant to you, Lieutenant Colonel Saint-chan. But yes, it’s been a while. I didn’t think you’d actually remember me. That makes me quite happy,” she said insincerely as a fearless smile appeared on her face.
A former lieutenant of the Garesto Special Forces.
Frire could’ve never dreamed that the person who infiltrated the academy would be her.
In fact, even her being alive was a surprise.
The two were old friends and have known each since their recruitment exams. They were even assigned to the same first unit.
Because of that and how sociable Aria was, they got to know each other, and they were frequently assigned together because the weapons they first specialized at worked well together. After getting through many life-threatening situations, they became comrade-in-arms.
But after that they were moved to different units and became estranged. When they reunited 9 years ago, they were already enemies.
“Of course, I remember. Who do you think caught you!?” Frire said.
“That’s right. I was done in by you that time, wasn’t I?” Aria said.
Aria slipped out a chuckle as she thought back to that time, but Frire wasn’t laughing.
Although they had only been together for a short time, she was still the first friend she made after enlisting – and in fact in whole her life too – so one could only imagine how hard it was for her to arrest her with her own hands.
When Aria was still being transferred around, she mainly entered units that dealt with terrorists and large-scale crimes and was mostly entrusted with missions that investigated people or missions to infiltrate illegal organizations.
It was then that her ability to perfectly imitate other people’s voice, gestures, and way of talking bloomed, but she was also exposed to Anti-Garesto army and anti-government thoughts and ideals for a long time there.
It wasn’t known if she’d always had knowledge regarding imitating people, but she devoted herself to it.
In the end, she joined the movement that was against a more serious interaction with Earth, and caused a rebellion with her like-minded colleagues. They took control of a military base and tried to overthrow the government, but they were stopped by Frire.
“I knew you were strong, but I didn’t think you’d be that annoying as an enemy. I still can’t believe you destroyed 300 drones in 20 seconds. They may have been old units, but still… It was really like a bad joke,” she said.
She smiled, but not a whiff of such emotion could be seen on her eyes, only the dark and deep-rooted emotions that she held for Frire.
“…After that you and your friends were able to escape the death penalty because of your high abilities, and were instead made to fight raybeasts for 60 years,” Frire said.
“Fu fu, that was a punishment worse than the death penalty. Despite the time limit, it was essentially the same thing as being told to fight to the death,” Aria said.
A person with high Status who has committed a serious crime, especially those with a career in the military, would usually be given an extremely harsh labor work as punishment.
People with ability, achievements, and the accumulated experience needed to fight were simply too precious to Garesto to dispose of so simply.
After all, Garesto’s human resources were simply too lacking..
So people who’ve received the aforementioned punishment would be thrown outside of the cities to fight in the front lines against the raybeast until their term was up.
They would spend their days fighting with the minimum equipment and under heavy observation.
That’s why Aria wasn’t wrong when she said that it was a punishment worse than the death penalty.
But that also went to show just how grave their crime of trying to overthrow the government was.
“But I heard that half a year after your punishment, you were caught in an outbreak and died, and yet…”
Aria was alive and was standing right in front of her.
Even with the standard equipment of the military, getting caught in an outbreak was already fatal, so all the more so when someone equipped with nothing but the minimum equipment.
“I was originally planning on making my escape by pretending to be killed by a raybeast. An outbreak was unexpected, but it turned out well.”
“I should’ve been more suspicious when you accepted your punishment so obediently.”
“You got that right, fu fu.”
Frire bit her lips, and Aria laughed. She wasn’t one bit guilty.
Aria had never been an exemplary person, but the fact that she held so little remorse made it hard for Frire to hide her disappointment.
“But you know, Frire? Why do you think I showed my real face to an enemy like you and started running my mouth?”
Aria casually asked.
Though they may have been friends once, they were enemies right now.
“It’s because I’ve been waiting for them to finish preparing! ‘Thunder Blade’!”
Then in one fell swoop, that casual atmosphere shattered and turned hostile.
Aria jumped back and
In the next instant, lightning appeared in midair and transformed into a great sword that shot out toward Frire.
It shot out as fast as lightning, but Frire dodged it.
But then something came out from the ground and caught her legs.
When she looked down, she saw that steel arms had wrapped themselves around her legs several times over.
They were illegally modified underground scout drones.
“Tsk, as if something like this could stop me!”
But those only stopped her for a moment, as she forcefully lifted her legs and brought the drones out from under the ground, then she kicked them away and turned them into junk.
“Tsk, where is she!?”
But Aria just wanted to buy herself that brief moment, so that she could make herself vanish from Frire’s sight, and move away from Frire’s range.
“I’ll have you stop moving for awhile,” Aria said from over 100 meters above the ground.
She had put on the Volunteer Army-use exoskeleton, and was now holding a sniper rifle.
She aimed that gun at her old friend and pulled the trigger without any hesitation.
A vast amount of photon gathered together and, in the next moment, unleashed a powerful beam at Frire.
The highest grade of paralysis effect had been added into that beam, so even with her high Resistance stat, a direct hit would leave her incapacitated.
But Frire wasn’t so dull that she wouldn’t notice that attack.
She realized that an attack was coming from above her, but it was too close to dodge, so she used her sword as a shield instead.
When Aria saw that through her scope, she laughed.
“Hah! It’s not so weak that you could just block it like that!”
As she laughed, her attack landed, and a violent flash accompanied by a roaring sound and powerful impact covered the surrounding area, wiping out the tent and the equipments, leaving nothing but the fine particles fluttering in the air.
After the flash had dissipated, a crater had been gouged out of the land and none of nature’s traces was left nearby.
Already, that attack was less a sniper shot, and more an artillery hit.
“The fact that you’re still in perfectly good health after that really goes to show how ridiculous your Resistance stat is. As expected of the heir of the prestigious Doneju Family that’s known for their martial arts.”
When the smoke had cleared and Frire appeared without a single scratch on her, Aria was understandably shocked, but she had succeeded nonetheless, so she let out a breath of relief.
Aria was confident in being able to endure the same attack with a simple exoskeleton, but taking it on with nothing but one’s flesh and yet not have to worry about one’s life?
Even among the Garesto military, that level of Resistance was monstrous.
“I’d love to finish you off here, but then we’d be completely antagonizing the Garesto public and military, and be on the receiving end of a full-scale attack, so let’s leave that for later.”
They’ve been showing so much weakness just with this operation already, so it was definitely too early for them to escalate the situation with Garesto’s military.
But of course…
“—I don’t need your concern, Aria.”
As Frire’s voice resounded and a flash of light filled her vision, she didn’t even have the leisure to freeze up.
Her intuition told her that a grave threat was at her.
So she threw her sniper rifle at the direction of the voice and immediately bolted for the opposite direction as fast as she could.
In the next moment, a silver stroke split her sniper rifle in two and it exploded.
“Ku, what’s going on!?”
She had merely moved according to her intuition, and had yet to process what was happening.
That’s why she immediately froze when she realized what was there in the direction her weapon had exploded.
An exoskeleton unlike the exoskeletons used in the school.
A polished sharpness and a beautiful lean figure that had shaved off everything unnecessary, all in the form of a full silver armor.
It was perfectly fitted to its user and the womanly contours were in full display.
When her beautiful face was coupled with the blaze of photons illuminating from the large wing boosters behind and the skirt armor’s wings, she looked just like the Valkyrie spoken of in the legends, and she gave off a divine aura that struck fear into any and all who beheld her.
“To think that even my return battle with this guy would be you. I sure have ended up with a strange fate since those test run battles.”