Where Eryn had been floating only a moment ago, a large mecha slammed right into her. Somehow, I thought that I had been knocked out and been swept into a delusion. But a booming voice from the flying machine broke me out of that trance.
“It’s the ‘Kou Train’, baby! Here to save the day!”
I would have liked to think that dumb declarations such as those didn’t exist in my mind, but that would be an obvious lie. However, the voice behind those words exuberated a giddy excitement that only someone with an obsessive preference for giant robots would emit. That was, of course, not me.
Another look at the mecha made me think twice. It was not the massive ones found in popular anime, but one that was a bit more reasonable in size. By reasonable, I meant that it only stood around 8 meters tall. Still monstrous by the standards of this world, like a dragon.
If the voice before hadn’t already clued me in on the pilot, then the tacky colors and the ‘Seven-Island Emblem’ that was strangely placed in the pattern of the big dipper would be enough to tell anyone.
‘Leave it to Koujiro to place the emblem NOT geographically, but in reference to a certain anime technique…’
Though the relief of his bombastic entrance coming to aid me finally sank it, I couldn’t help but wonder if it could even compare to Eryn. As expected, a dark ball of miasma flitted around Koujiro, seemingly unharmed by even that kind of surprise attack.
“How rude! To interrupt a battle between combatants by crashing into me with your oversized toy! Are you a child?!”
Eryn’s sword shone brightly with mana, even within the dark miasma that protected her. Who knew if the scowl on her face was due to Koujiro intruding upon the fight? Or if Eryn personally hated the man himself for his past annoyances.
But Koujiro, being his normal, flippant self, simply brushed it off with a flirtatious tone.
“Hey, Sexy Lady… care for a dance? I got myself a brand-new suit, so how about we do this ‘G*ndam Style’?”
‘If only I could warp into the cockpit and deck him for that pun…,’ I thought as I shook my head. Predictably, that joke was lost on someone of this world.
“As if I know what gibberish you speak of! Don’t think something big and bulky will give you an edge in a fight!”
Eryn dodged around Koujiro’s suit and tried to make a beeline for me, only to be intercepted once again. Despite how big the mecha was, it spun around like it was part of himself, with the speed and might of Koujiro’s own body.
Eryn sent a wave of miasma swords at the meddlesome pest, only to be surprised as all of them bounced right off the armor. It shone in the sun like a divine aura was cast around it.
“How?! Not a single scratch?!” Eryn gawked at the result with her arm still extended forward. She unleashed a massive fireball at the mecha, which also bounced right off.
Given Eryn’s massive attack and magic power, it was hard to believe that she wouldn’t make a single dent on the metal plating. Even before being demonized, she could slice through thick, metal shields effortlessly and melt them down with the heat of her fire, even those made from the hardiest materials.
“Ha ha, surprised? I’ll have you know that I’m not simply riding in this machine. It is ‘equipped’ to my body through the skill ‘Champion’s Cowl’!”
That statement revealed the mystery behind his armor’s durability. Inside of the mecha, Koujiro was attached to his machine. Not only were his movements synchronized with the mecha, but also his stats. Using his ‘Champion’s Cowl’ skill, he could extend his mana to encompass whatever was physically controlled by him, creating a giant Koujiro as an opponent.
Layering armor upon armor, Koujiro housed himself deep inside an impenetrable fortress. The numbered stats displayed in his status menu was now extended to the full extent of the mobile suit, making it every bit as tough as the man himself. They were enough to resist the might of a demon that had nearly maxed out her Attack and Magic even before accounting for the boost of power from miasma.
Koujiro was currently the only one with the sheer might to take Eryn down.
After a few more exchanges that made it look like Koujiro now dominated the field, it suddenly stopped before an invisible impact caused its head to swing to the side. His loss of balance made it look like someone had smacked the mecha in the face, even though no sign of any attack was seen.
Ignoring that, the robot suddenly turned to me.
“Oh right, I got a little bit too into the battle and forgot all about you, Queenie. Don’t worry, I’ll cover you so that you can go join your crush.”
My eyebrow arched as that was his nickname for Katalina. She mentioned before that she had grabbed some help for the battle, so I assumed that Koujiro’s entrance was her doing. I would bet a hefty chunk of coinage that she had been involved with making the dang thing. But recalling what she said… where was she hiding then?
Just then, the front of the robot made a hissing noise. A hatch swung open from the chest, possibly where the cockpit was located. Not long after, a portal zoomed right up to me, and out from it, a blue-haired girl popped right through.
My statement never finished as her body crashed right into mine. The familiar sensation of an endowed chest smacked against my face as I tipped right over. Being glomped suddenly from Katalina jumping out of a portal was not how I thought she would arrive.
But given the dangerous situation of the battlefield, my body reacted automatically by pivoting on my feet and redistributing the weight. With arms wrapped around her royal gown, I spun in one smooth motion to gently place her on the ground, feet first. It was quite a wonder how basic martial arts training helped so much with not falling on my butt on this occasion.
“What are you doing here?!” I asked. Even if she had been safely riding inside of Koujiro’s mecha, there was no reason for her to jump out and expose herself to danger.
“Getting you to where you need to be! Now, come on! We need to check in on Lady Kaguya and the others.”
Katalina shot a spear of Ice magic past me, stabbing a random demon that had tried to sneak up on us. With Eryn occupied by Koujiro elsewhere, the demon army started to fill in the void where combat had stopped.
I nodded quickly and sliced another demon with my mana blade. There was no time to be merciful in this chaos, so I aimed straight for the cores. Smashing them was the surefire way to turn a demon into dust. Katalina did the same, aiming right for where the cores were located.
At least against these low-level minions, we didn’t need to slow down. The power of our attacks pierced through the miasma that surrounded them, and with a burst of purple flame, they incinerated out of existence.
The two of us broke into a run, Katalina firing a set of portals to cut the distance traversed. Any enemy that got in the way was quickly gunned or cut down by our attacks. I wouldn’t let a single one come anywhere close to Katalina. My knives became a flurry of strikes that opened up a path between each set of portals, and soon enough, we arrived at the barrier around the city.
Crowded around the weakest part of the barrier, a swarm of demons were clawing all around, trying to squeeze through any opening they could find. With my enhanced vision, several tears could be seen, forcibly kept open as demons filtered in. The few that slipped inside were soon engaged by several warriors, who managed to hold back those trickling in.
In particular, one person stood out, as he could take on single demons by himself. The long polearm that he possessed sliced deep into the side of one, nearly bisecting it. Drawing the weapon back, he swung around and aimed at the wound again, this time cutting deep enough to destroy the core.
“Wen Zhi!” I shouted, recognizing the more brutish technique of the younger sibling.
His head popped up and looked towards us on the other side. With a smile, he waved his weapon to greet us.
“About time y’all showed up! My Master has been expecting you! So you better get your butts in here and see what she wants!”
That… was going to take a bit of effort…
My shout caused the demons raiding the barrier to turn around, all at once. With ten or so of them charging forward, Katalina shot a set of portals next to us and above the barrier. Jumping in first, I watched as she passed right through the barrier and landed safely inside of the city. I hopped in next, feeling nothing but the wind brushing against me as I fell.
But then, I collided on the surface of the barrier, virtually sliding right off it like I had landed on a glass dome.
“Shit! I forgot that miasma lingers in my body!”
The last time I was here, my powers hadn’t gone rampant. My miasma was still contained enough for the barrier to let me pass through willingly. But now, sparks of miasma were leaking around me. I used its power to fight. And the barrier had decided to keep me out because of it.
As I slid down it, back toward the team of demons, I braced myself for another fight. My knives charged up with mana, aiming right for their cores.
“Soul Rending Strike!”
Two arcs of mana sliced the air in front of me, catching two demons. I watched as those two were thrown off guard by my attack before regaining their composure.
“Gah, these ones are tougher than the rest!”
I wanted to strike at them again. However, there wouldn’t be enough time to refocus my mana before landing. I bit my lip as my eyes looked left and right for an opening.
A spear stabbed right into one demon with such force that it sent the demon spiraling back. Even after it landed, it convulsed as electricity crackled through its body. Wen Zhi had exited the barrier with a ‘Spear of the Thunder Dragon’ for one unlucky enemy. With half of the demons’ eyes turning to him instead, I found the opening I needed.
Dialing down the mana I collected, I formed long blades with it to cut down the nearest foe in a close-up match. My knives collided with swords that were coated in miasma. A quick glance told me that they were remnants of the Thunder Phoenix Clan before their demise. It was no wonder that they could defend against my strikes a bit better.
After blocking the first few, one of my strikes broke his defense and cut right into his torso. The demon tried to shrug it off, as they were warriors that expected to endure a few blows from normal opponents. However, the demon before me suddenly burst into purple flames as his face lit up in surprise.
Unlike a normal opponent, my cut could slice his core without needing to break skin. The false sense of security when my mana blade didn’t meet any resistance or cause any pain was his mistake.
I looked over and saw that another demon brought its club down on Wen Zhi, only to find that it bounced right off before shattering. Like the demon had been counterattacked with its own blow, it was sent flying backwards. With a confident grin, Wen Zhi started to glow white before launching another flash of lightning from his spear.
‘Wait, Wen Zhi too!’
The characteristic white glow of what we deemed as ‘Ascended’ shone brightly within him as well. And just like the others, it seemed to greatly boost his abilities.
I turned back and cut down another two demons with my dual knives, further thinning out the enemies around. In a few minutes, the two of us had turned them all into dust.
Wen Zhi approached me, thumping the pole end of his spear on the ground and extending his arm out for a fist bump. Grateful for his help, I obliged.
But then, my fist was forcibly pushed back. Each time that I tried, my hand was just batted away by some unknown force.
“Ah! Oops, I forgot to turn off the skill ‘Total Rebound’. My bad…”
I resisted smacking him while he was still shining and smiling like an idiot.