But very quickly he shook his head and realized that he had fallen into this bad habit of his.
“Seriously, when it comes down to it, I don’t worry at all, but as soon as an incident comes to a close, I start mumbling to myself again. Sigh… What a sorry excuse for a man I am.”
During any incident, Shinichi’s resolve would be unwavering regardless of what is done or said to him, but as soon as it comes to a close, he starts needlessly worrying over everything and becomes depressed.
He’s somehow just able to keep his heart in check by mocking and laughing at himself.
“Stella scolded me a lot too…”
—Stop laughing at yourself and do your job.
When he remembered that sharp gaze and that scolding tone of hers, he couldn’t help but smile wryly.
It was a psychological issue on his part, though, so he actually hoped that she would just let the matter drop, but alas…
‘How unsightly’, he mocked himself one more time before picking himself back up and focusing his senses on his surroundings.
When he confirmed that most of the people had left the premises, he heaved a sigh of relief.
He was at the third floor and there were walls everywhere, so he actually wasn’t using his senses to figure out where everyone was.
Rather he was using something akin to Spirit Sight which allowed him to see the soul of all things. It wasn’t very detailed, though.
At most he could confirm the number and location of people, but he couldn’t check their stats.
Despite that it was still a convenient technique that allowed him to more or less grasp the movements of people within range.
That’s why if you want to blame him for being careless, you definitely could.
It’s curious though which tipped him first.
Was it the sound of bombs exploding from outside?
Was it the thick killing intent pervading the third floor?
Regardless, a new enemy has arrived.
The moment he realized it, Shinichi reflexively donned the mask and shrouded himself in black.
He had to whether he wanted to or not.
This was not an opponent he could afford to reveal his identity to.
Moreover, this might not be an opponent he could afford to fight unless he was in this form.
There was a sharpness and harshness to the killing intent that filled the floor.
As soon as he covered himself in those black garments, the sound of explosion resounded and the walls broke apart.
“Damn it! Just when I thought it was all over, this happens!? As expected of me!”
Shinichi cursed at this all-too-common turn of events as he turned to the direction where the dust was coming from.
The view from 15 meters ahead was partially obstructed, so it was hard to see the whole thing, but at the place where smoke erupted could be seen a conspicuous crimson power suit.
As the smoke cleared, black and crimson met each other’s gaze.
A doll covered in thick crimson armor appeared before him. Its head seemed to be fixed into place, which prevented outsiders from peering inside.
Even telling where it was looking at was difficult, but Shinichi could feel the eyes behind that doll boring into him.
It was a first for Shinichi to have someone see him as Masquerade without him attacking first.
He had just barely donned the mask in time, so he wasn’t sure if the figure saw his face, but he decided to put off that question for later.
After all, though it was strange how the red figure was carrying several spears on its back, it could still be inferred from that that it was the reason behind the thick killing intent pervading the area.
From the way it stood there imposingly with composure the person inside was clearly an experienced warrior.
But what Shinichi really found surprising was that even with Spirit Sight, he still couldn’t see the soul inside the armor clearly.
Not only could he not see the stats of the figure, he couldn’t even see the gender or age.
This was a first for him, so he became especially wary.
“Who are you?”
“…I’d throw that question back at you…”
Because the figure asked him first, he was able to confirm it.
The voice that came out from the crimson spear soldier was just like the mask’s. It wasn’t possible to tell whether it belonged to a man or a woman or to an elderly or a youth.
One thing different compared to the mask was that the crimson soldier’s voice had evidently been artificially altered.
Be that as it may, the red soldier still couldn’t hide the confusion in its voice.
Moreover, its soul wasn’t completely obstructed from view. Shinichi could at least tell that there was a person’s soul inside, which is why he could declare without a doubt that the person inside was a human.
“…Doesn’t seem like you’re friends with these guys. Did you come here to silence them? Unfortunately, you’re too late. Most of the circumstances here have already leaked outside. Even that incident you wanted to hide will soon be discovered by the Countermeasure Department.”
That’s why even though it was a bit troublesome, Shinichi suggested in a roundabout manner that the crimson soldier should retreat.
Besides, the Countermeasure Department will probably be sending people in soon once Daigo and the others make it out.
That would be troublesome both for him and the crimson soldier.
But then it turned out that that was apparently only a problem for him.
The crimson soldier took one of the spears on its back and raised it up toward the sky with one hand. He had many different spears on him, but the spear he took out this time somewhat resembled a naginata.
Strictly speaking, it wasn’t a spear, but that was the most appropriate term based on the shape of the spearhead.
Either way it was a weapon with a long handle. But regardless, with about 15 meters of distance between them, even that long weapon shouldn’t be able to immediately close the gap between them.
Shinichi couldn’t see the face behind the crimson soldier, so he focused his attention on the limbs, but he noted that even those weren’t moving.
The crimson soldier swung down with the spear in his arms.
Immediately, a cold chill crept up Shinichi’s back.
Before Shinichi could understand what was going on, the experience he had accumulated moved his body.
Immediately, he invoked the Magic Raiment Battle Law, and a great amount of mana coursed into his limbs to stop that ‘something’ that attacked him from above.
A dull pain and an impact much heavier than he expected ran through his arms.
Shinichi could feel that an invisible blade had descended on his arms.
That attack that could pass even through Shinichi’s mana-reinforced arms was sharp and powerful, causing his legs to bore a foot-shaped depression 10cm into the ground.
Shinichi didn’t know what this crimson soldier did, but he still made his move.
Shinichi forcefully shook free his arms and the invisible blade that had been caught between his crossed arms shattered as if it wasn’t there in the first place.
The crimson soldier was evidently shocked by his actions, but Shinichi spared no glance for him or for what seemed to be the smashed up fragments of the invisible blade as he opened his right hand and covered his fingers with mana.
Shinichi raised that up and aimed it at the crimson soldier.
Given that the distance between them hadn’t changed, his arms couldn’t have possibly reached the crimson soldier, but regardless, there was no doubting that this was Shinichi’s counterattack. What’s more is that he unconsciously served his vengeance in a manner similar to the Crimson Soldier’s earlier attack.
In the next moment, the crimson soldier was being pushed away as if something had been flicked against him.
Two track marks appeared on the ground, stopping only when the crimson soldier had barely hit the wall.
It was here that crimson finally gave out a shocked voice.
“That attack just now— W-What is this!?”
The head inside the power suit couldn’t be seen, so it wasn’t possible to tell what he was looking at, but given that the body was facing the wall, it was likely it was the sight of that that shocked him.
On the wall was carved five cylindrical lines. That was evidently a deep scratch left behind by a claw of some sort.
A part of the marks had been cut off, but a look at the crimson armor would show that the same mark was on it.
The crimson soldier was so disturbed that even that altered voice failed to hide his gasp.
Meanwhile, Shinichi was sweating as he inwardly cursed himself.
He had been planning to use this sparingly, but he ended up using it already.
Magic Raiment Battle Law is a strengthening technique. As such, it originally did not have the ability to perform long-range attacks, but by putting together the knowledge of the evil god and Shinichi’s imagination as an otherworlder, he was able to modify it.
—Can’t I make the mana wrapped on my body fly?
It was a simple question like that that allowed him to perform an attack with pure mana that normally only members of the demon tribe could execute.
The resulting technique was much stronger compared to other methods when using the same amount of mana. At least, if destruction was the only criteria.
This made it perfect for dealing the final blow against enemies whose mana could not be seen.
“I can’t believe he produced such a heavy blow with just that…”
“…What’s going on? Just what kind of weapon did this guy use?”
Shinichi’s attack not only failed to send this crimson soldier flying, it only managed to scrape off a little of the armor’s surface.
As a result, the two of them had both showed each other one move, but Shinichi didn’t move again because he was wary of this enemy.
Evidently, be it equipment or the person inside, this crimson soldier was in a realm of his own compared to the earlier criminals.
What’s more is that it’s possible that the countermeasure department just might spot him if he were to spend too much time here.
But unless this crimson soldier leaves, Shinichi can’t leave either.
This was not the kind of opponent he could afford to let his guard down against.
The crimson soldier seemed to share his sentiments as he drew two spears from his back, then had the remaining four spears float in the air; all of them pointed at Shinichi.
“Independent Floating Type Guidance Weapons, huh. How very sci-fi even though those are spears you’re waving around.”
Shinichi was amazed that they had the technology to pull that stunt off on personal equipment.
But even then, he was an assassin from a fantasy world, there was no way he could lose here.
As he relaxed, his body naturally assumed posture to ward off the scattered killing intent that had gathered into a single point.
The crimson soldier wielded his two spears with a spear on each hand and made his other spears float. Clearly, this crimson soldier was intent on fighting him.
When Shinichi realized that, he inadvertently smiled behind his mask.
He was probably the only one between them who understood just how important this battle was.
Away from the eyes or knowing of others, an historical battle was unfolding.
When Shinichi thought of how such an historic moment was being done inside a department store of all places, he couldn’t help but laugh.
This was a battle between a warrior from a science world and an assassin from a fantasy world.
This was a battle that should normally be impossible.
But against all odds, it was taking place right now in a department store.