When they saw the purple lightning streaking across the corner of their vision, all of them jumped back.
Immediately afterward, the area surrounding the impostor, roughly where they had been just moments ago, was filled with lightning.
One look at that was enough to know that that wasn’t something that the automatic barrier produced by the foster could have defended against.
“Good judgment. Did you back off while attacking?”
“You deflected it all, though!”
In that moment, everyone reflexively used their weapons, but they were repelled by a layer of something akin to a barrier, and their weapons failed to so much as graze the impostor’s clothes.
“I see you’ve considered the possibility of a fight and have covered the room with barriers. Such arrangements to mitigate damage are certainly appreciated.”
The impostor appraised them highly, but the atmosphere around him had already changed.
What was once a calm air was now a tempestuous air that could prick one’s skin.
By instinct, everyone in the room knew that this was not a situation that could be resolved peacefully.
“…And you went out of your way to use lightning that wouldn’t break those barriers.”
“Yes, so allow me to make it clear in advance. I won’t be using an attack that can destroy those barriers. That will be my handicap. Good luck.”
“Will you be satisfied with a thank you, you bastard!?” Ryou said.
In response to the clear act of contempt, Ryou spat those words out and lunged forward as though unwilling to stand for such mockery.
He swung his photon-powered blade of light in an attempt to cleave through, only for it to come to a halt.
The impostor had deftly caught the tip of his blade between his fingertips, then a smug grin surfaced on that face that resembled Shinichi’s, sending shivers down Ryou’s spine.
He had expected that the enemy before him would be able to stop or avoid his blade, but he didn’t think that he would actually be able to use just the fingers off one hand to stop it. On top of that, he even managed to stop him dead in his tracks.
However, Ryou did not freeze, and instead he instinctively released his grip on his sword, then switched to the gun of his foster.
It was curious if Ryou had intended for his attack to be a counterattack or an interception, but regardless, a beam of light shot out to shoot down the ball of fire that had suddenly appeared between them, giving rise to a small explosion that ended up blowing Ryou away.
A net-like material created by someone’s skill cushioned his fall, but the impostor just seemed to ride on the blast wave before rotating his body and unleashing a sharp kick that resembled a slash behind.
Sounds of metal clashing rose as that leg and a blade collided.
Because of their positions, Frire’s attack with her one-handed sword became a surprise attack from behind.
The white of her solid blade clashed with the black of the pants-covered leg of the impostor.
“Gu, I can’t push him back!?”
“I figured you wouldn’t move until after your students made theirs.”
The impostor wore a confident smile while Frire displayed an expression of anguish.
She was taken aback by how much resistance she was getting from her opponent while her full-force strike was locked in a deadlock with his roundhouse kick.
However, because she was accustomed to sparring with the real one, she quickly recovered from her shock.
Frire freed herself from their deadlock and crouched, while the impostor’s kick sliced through the air above her head.
Seizing the opportunity, she swept her supporting leg and, for a moment, the impostor floated in mid-air.
As though she had been waiting for just that, a petite figure holding a conical lance leaped in.
It was none other than Myuhi dressed in an armor from another world.
Though it had not been fully deployed and was only activated on her limbs, back thrusters, and a helmet, that armor that was of the same color as her hair nonetheless enhanced all her physical abilities.
When coupled with the thrust from the propulsion system, the power she wielded was immeasurable, and the resulting charge could pierce through even the multi-layered barriers they had prepared to protect the building.
It was curious what the impostor thought of that, for he was still floating in the air and seemed torn between stopping the attack or crossing his arms to block.
” 『Delay Lock』!”
Then Aristel’s debuff skill, “Delay Lock,” wrapped around the impostor’s limbs and weighed him down, slowing down his movements just enough to allow him to take on the full force of the exoskeleton-powered charge.
Without any mercy and with every intent to kill, Myuhi unloaded that attack right on the impostor’s face.
Alas, the opponent was no pushover, and just before her attack could land, the tip of her spear collided with some sort of energy that transformed into particles of light and scattered into the surroundings.
A great power accompanied the scattering of that flash, and everyone else other than Myuhi was forced to defend themselves.
All of that happened before Myuhi’s attack could land, so there was no way for anyone to know whether she actually made contact.
The visual obstruction from the light lasted for but a moment, mostly because it was light, but also because there were barriers, so no smoke or debris were created in its wake.
And that’s also why what they saw left them in shock despite whatever resistance they might have formed from Shinichi’s antics.
Myuhi was straddled over the impostor on the floor. She had extender her arm fully, but the spear that should have pierced through the impostor was now crushed.
Myuhi was in shock as she looked alternatingly between the impostor and her partially shattered lance.
If she hadn’t mistaken what she saw in that moment, then it was indeed only the tip of the spear that had been directly bitten.
However, the resulting shock proved too great for the rest of the spear to bear, so it shattered.
“…Just now, you seriously went for my face, didn’t you, little girl?”
For the first time, the impostor spoke unhappily toward the yet shaken Myuhi. However, the clear hostility in his voice brought Myuhi back to her senses, only to see a clenched fist.
She instinctively shielded her face with both of her arms, but the resulting impact still went through, and she found herself flying without regard for the weight of her armor or its impact-absorbing mechanisms.
She crashed straight into the ceiling up above, then bounced back down, but even then, there was no stopping her momentum, and she continued to tumble.
Aristel cried out Myuhi’s name as she pulled the trigger. She knew it wouldn’t work, as her attack had already once been nullified when she’d jumped back earlier, but she just wanted to divert the enemy’s attention.
Unfortunately, the impostor stood up in an instant and deflected her light bullet with the swing of her arm, sending it back where it came from.
Despite her shock from seeing that technique, she tried to shoot back nonetheless, but a figure appeared in front of her.
The figure traced an arc as she swung her beautiful blade and cut through the light bullet. Split in half by the spiritual sword, the bullet of light scattered into the air.
“Yay! I did it! And before anyone says it, I know it’s not the time to be celebrating, sheesh!”
In the end, perhaps Aristel’s plan did succeed, for the enemy’s attention was now turned to them.
Tomoe threw several spirit talismans with her other hand, and the impostor leaped back to avoid them.
“I knew it! She knows me! Wait, why do I know that?”
The words that inadvertently slipped from her lips made Tomoe inwardly tilt her head.
It was as if the impostor knew her well enough to anticipate her actions, and it left her wondering what was going on as she prepared the next spirit talismans in an attempt to restrain the impostor.
The impostor was clearly more focused on Tomoe’s movements and talismans more than anything else right now.
However, to that, Tomoe merely smiled.
“…Are you sure it’s alright to be focusing only on me?”