”But we turned off the switch earlier, so we shouldn’t be in any more danger— On second thought, there’s no way everything would be safe with just that, is there?”
When Daigo said that out loud, he realized that they might not actually be safe just yet.
“Right. There’s no way to know for sure if the other three have a switch on them too. Had we all escaped together, they would have probably pressed their switch instead of giving chase. We might know where the bombs are, but if those bombs were to go off, we’re still bound to get hurt. That’s why he had to stay,” the girl said.
“Because they won’t have time to press the switch if they have to fight, right? I get that, but fighting an armed opponent from Garesto is just way too…” Daigo replied.
“That’s why we’re running. That way he can fight without having to worry about us.”
So long as he doesn’t have to mind the people behind him or worry about eyewitnesses, then he’ll be able to fight at his full strength.
For some reason, the girl’s eyes were brimming with trust and conviction as she said that. Knowing him, those opponents won’t be a problem.
But Daigo couldn’t understand it.
“Didn’t you guys just meet today? Why do you trust him so much?”
Daigo no longer doubted Shinichi’s combat abilities.
He knew that Shinichi had gotten so strong that if they were to fight seriously, he wouldn’t even last a second against him.
But that was only if they were barehanded. If the enemy had brought simple exoskeletons with them, the situation will immediately become too dangerous.
The girl should know that, and yet…
“…Didn’t you think anything from the way he spoke?”
But in response, the girl brought up a new topic that left Daigo confused.
The girl placed her hand on her chest as if deeply reflecting on a memory.
“The way he spoke reminded me of something I once admired when I was still young. It was because of that that I trained so much, but somewhere along the way, I lost sight of it, and I started acting the way everyone else wanted me to.
…The person I admired rebelled against the Garesto government.”
That was a shocking day both for Garesto and for the young her.
The hero that defended their country suddenly turned his blade against their government.
That certainly had an influence to her losing her dream and acting as everyone else wanted her to.
“But this and that have nothing to do with each other. What I admired wasn’t the person himself but his actions. What I admired was his back which he showed to us. The way he stood in front of others even though he said he was weak!”
That was the beginning of the girl’s dream: ‘I want to be someone who can protect others with that same back.’
“That person is the same as the person I once admired. He’s someone who can do that naturally. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything without any equipment. As I am, I’ll just end up dragging him down…”
She should have considered situations without armor better.
Her expression turned bitter as she regretted her powerlessness.
Garesto’s teachings say that fighting unarmored should be avoided as much as possible.
After all, criminals always come armed and raybeasts can’t be defeated unarmored.
That’s why Garestonians always took their armor with them, and that’s also why they always had weapons that were portable in some way on them.
She had her foster stolen from her, but had she been in Garesto, everyone else would have had a foster on them too.
Even if she was rendered unable to fight, the others around her would have surely covered for her.
“I never knew it could be so frustrating not being able to fight. Even though I’ve finally found my dream again…”
“I can kind of understand your feelings, I guess. Dragging others down too… But even then, this is still way too dangerous for him!”
Both Daigo and the girl had remembered what they once yearned for, so there was a common point for them to understand each other. Daigo also knew that he wasn’t capable of fighting.
But even then he wanted to be near him. He wanted to be beside him who said he was proud to be his friend.
When Daigo laid bare his emotions so honestly, the girl smiled.
There was a hint of envy in her, but she still said that everything will turn out alright.
“Don’t worry. That person is someone who was able to observe everything while enduring all of that abuse. Even though he couldn’t run or fight because I couldn’t move, he continued to provoke everyone to protect us. The person you’re worrying about is someone who was able to think of something like that on the fly, you know?”
No matter how much they cursed and beat him, he was able to remain courageous and calm.
Such a person couldn’t have possibly mistaken when to run.
What’s more is that he was strong enough to instantly take down three dog-type drones unarmed.
With that, it was doubtful if even those simple exoskeletons that Daigo worried about so much could pose a threat to him. At the very least, the girl didn’t think so.
Besides, such tales weren’t so strange as far as the strong of Garesto were concerned.
Although it was indeed strange that he was unarmed, but that didn’t matter since what she needed to do now wasn’t to analyze his strength but to lead everyone out.
“Of course, no matter how strong or smart someone is, there’s always that one-in-a-million chance for them to mess up. But regardless, please don’t insist on coming back now. The reason I went out of my way to explain all this to you is to prevent you from going back.”
Why did Shinichi have to stay? What was the real objective of the criminals? What was the danger lurking behind this building? And their powerlessness.
She said all of that just to make him understand. Everything was to prevent someone like him who cared too much for his friend from going back.
“But if you still insist on going back, then I’ll have to bring you out even if I have to use force. As someone who was protected by that person, I have a duty to respond to his noble actions!”
She hoped that Daigo would let her fulfill her duty without having to hurt him.
There was a pleading tone in her voice, and Daigo couldn’t find the words to respond anymore.
The girl in front of him wasn’t that girl the boy played with at the store.
This was someone who carried with her the pride of a warrior to a warrior, a guardian to a guardian.
The protected had a duty to the person fighting to allow him to carry out his duty without obstruction.
This girl who wanted to fight more than anyone else firmly said that.
“So this is how the Garestonians really are…” Daigo muttered.
It’s been 8 years since Earth began interacting with Garesto, but when Daigo and the others heard the girl’s words, they felt as if they were meeting a Garestonian for the first time.