Italic text is Engrish (English written in katakana). In cases when I needed to emphasise that the word is Japanese (or when the text specifically commented about it being Japanese), I added the Japanese version as furigana.
Feel free to point out any errors, give suggestions or just talk about the story itself in the comments.
SECT.5 - The Beginning of the Tournament
1st of February, 2026. Sunday.
Beginning around noon, a corner of SBC Glocken, the central city in Gun Gale Online, began bustling with activity.
It was a large bar on a broad main street.
Although it was called a bar, it also included a restaurant, a coffee shop, with a shopping mall adjacent to it, alongside having a game corner, a casino and even an indoor shooting range.
Even on a regular Sunday, this establishment would be reasonably crowded with players who liked it, but it was more crowded than usual today.
There was just one reason for this. It was because this venue became the base for the „first Squad Jam“.
It differed from a major tournament that raised the profile of GGO like the BoB, and thus this bar, rather than the central institution called the «Governor's Office», was used for the tournament.
The participants temporarily gathered here and, when the time came, would be transported to a small ≪standby area≫ for each team to prepare.
While there, within the 10 minute countdown, team members could take out equipment from their storage, and hold a strategy meeting. Then, at exactly 14:00, they would be transported to the battlefield without knowing which terrain they would be on.
The battle scene would be broadcasted by a great number of cameras.
If it were a tournament on the level of the BoB, the situation would be broadcast via the net broadcasting station ≪MMO Stream≫, so people connected to the Internet could watch anywhere, but the SJ did not go so far.
People could either watch it in this bar while clamorously enjoying themselves via the large monitors hanging on the walls and ceiling, watch the broadcast inside GGO, or watch the video recording on another day.
According to the digital wristwatch on her left wrist, LLENN, who was dressed in a robe, entered the establishment at 12:45.
As the appointed meeting time for players participating in SJ was 13:40, the appointment with M was at 13:30, so she had a lot of time to spare.
After LLENN entered the crowded establishment, she looked for a vacant private room. This was to quickly hide herself and not give any information to the opponents she would be facing.
There were quite a few players showing off their beloved guns in the bar, but it was all just a foolish act that helped their enemies come up with counter-measures, thus she was warned never to do such a thing by M. Of course, there was also the possibility of someone intentionally showing off a weak gun, then using a powerful rare gun in the real battle.
LLENN entered a private room and closed the curtains. She then mailed the number of the room to M as promised.
Without even having to wait a few minutes and before she finished her first ice tea, M turned up. As ever a mountain-like giant, though LLENN no longer feared it.
“Yo. Let’s do our best today.”
Excitement within the establishment reached the ears of the pair, who decided to wait leisurely until it was time.
On the screen of the monitor, a middle-aged man, the novelist who became the sponsor for this tournament, took the role of covering the event as his RL self, rather than his avatar.
The filthy man with a beard seemed to be rather euphoric as he said things like ‘well, this will be fun’ or ‘everyone, shoot each other in the game to your heart’s content’.
“So, the guy who brought up the idea for the tournament isn’t participating himself!”
One of the audience retorted, and immediately afterwards, someone else,
“Well, although the guy’s RL identity is exposed, his avatar isn’t, so ain’t he gonna participate sneakily after this coverage is over?”
“That’s right! It’s the opposite of normal, right!”
“It is an unusual pattern……”
“Then, do we get a bonus if we kill that guy?”
“I wonder, how much did he spend to organise a tournament of this size?”
Such conversations could be heard.
LLENN and M saw a list of participating teams on a window that floated right in front of them.
In total, twenty three teams. Considering that BoB had several hundreds in the preliminaries narrowed down to thirty people, it had to be said that this tournament without preliminaries was really of a small scale.
However, taking into account the fact that each team could register up to six people, the maximum number of participants is one hundred and thirty eight, thus it was true that the game taking place in a field of the same size as the one used for the BoB would be considerably „packed“.
“It would be nice if the bar won’t become empty right after the tournament begins.”
M said. Having imagined that, LLENN unintentionally chuckled.
However, as one after another player intruded on LLENN and M after they entered the private room, that worry was unnecessary. The first Squad Jam was unexpectedly thriving.
As for the names of the teams on the participation list, LLENN and M’s was ≪LM≫.
LLENN and M, it was actually just that. LLENN being first was either simply because of the alphabetical order, or to show respect to the leader.
The other team names, like ≪DDL≫, ≪ZEAMAL≫, ≪SYOJI≫, ≪CHBYS≫, ≪DanG≫, ≪SHINC≫ and so on, were all short and simple as well.
A lot of them looked like abbreviations, so they probably came up with their name during the registration by abbreviating their own names. Considering this, LLENN thought that LM was fine as a simple name.
What’s important was that the number of people in a team was not written anywhere.
With this, they could only fight under the assumption that every team had six people. On the contrary, the fact that LLENN and M were just a two-people party could be used to provoke their opponents’ negligence.
It was impossible to have a sport(1) gamble about who would win like in the BoB. Instead,
『Let’s predict how many bullets will be fired until the conclusion of the tournament is reached! 500 credits per guess.』
There were such prediction games that weren’t present in the BoB, and people were considerably excited.
Since this was a game world, the system could accurately tell the number of times the participating characters had fired. The plan was to guess the number of bullets expended by everyone by the time the conclusion was reached.
In the case of someone guessing correctly up to the last digit—— the person would get the same number of one’s desired bullets. However, the upper limit for the bullet size was 7.62 mm.
In GGO, one could buy ammunition themselves (or buy the materials and craft the ammunition), thus if one obtained a large number of bullets, they could play without worrying about the bullet cost for a while after the tournament. Of course, one could also give them to squadron comrades or sell them at a store.
In the case where no one guessed correctly, the prize would be given to five people that were the closest to the number, but the prize would be ranked based on whether the guess was accurate to the tens or hundreds.
Even so, it seems that most people used sub-machine guns and dozens of hand grenades. It wasn’t surprising that it was so lively.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t that simple to predict how many bullets would be discharged. The participants were entering random numbers from tens to tens of thousands by hitting the window of their competition terminal with the palm of their hands.
Outside this clamour,
“I wonder if Pito-san is in a dress right now.”
LLENN said, thinking about Pitohui who was currently attending a wedding and,
“Probably. She’s most likely grinding her teeth in regret that she couldn’t participate in the SJ. Hopefully she won’t come up with weird ideas about her surroundings, like „Why is it that my friend the bride looks so depressed? Could it be?“”
M replied indifferently, causing LLENN to burst into laughter.
After laughing, LLENN brought her knees together and straightened her back,
“M-san, I look forward to working with you today. For a long time, I was troubled about whether or not I should participate, but I think I’ll try playing GGO seriously for a bit more.
And conveyed these polite words to him.
“Gotcha. But, enough with the keigo.”
M, with his rough face and body, said in a gentle tone.
“I was told by that Pitohui. „Make sure you win this“”
“Ah, that sounds like Pito-san.”
“My answer was ‘We’ll do as much as we can. But at any rate, we’re just two people. In the first place, we’ll be at a disadvantage right from the start.’ I also said ‘If LLENN is killed in action and there are a lot of opponents, we may have to surrender.’ ‘Well, it can’t be helped’, was how Pito replied.”
“Yeah. That’s fine isn’t it? I did say that we should seriously do our best a moment ago, but a game is a game. Besides, in a real war, if we were no match for our opponents, it would be fine to surrender. I think that if I become the only one standing in our team, I’d end up surrendering quickly.”
“Nevertheless, we should aim for the top as much as we can. It would be fun to find out how far can just one person go.”
At M’s words that seemed like he was instructing himself,
Just as LLENN cheerfully answered, an announcement by a girl began to be streamed in the bar.
『Participating players of the Squad Jam! Thank you for waiting! In one minute, the transfer to the standby area will begin. Are all your comrades pre-sent?』
The place that LLENN and M were transferred to at 13:50 was a dim and small room.
Right in front of them was a countdown watch 『Waiting time: 09:59』. Decreasing in intervals of 1 second. When it reaches 00:00, they will be transferred to some place in an unknown field and the battle will begin.
LLENN said, as her excitement grew.
Whether she liked it or not, she could no longer escape from the match. Shouldn’t she go wild without restraint to vent her anger from RL?
For that, she needed to make preparations.
Firstly, right in front of her, a screen, denoting that the satellite scan terminal had been distributed, appeared.
LLENN touched the screen with her hand and a terminal that was like a largish smartphone appeared right in front of her.
The instructions for how to use it were also displayed. By pressing the two main buttons, a large map would appear either from the screen in one’s hand, or right in front of them. When one wants to see it stealthily - via the screen; when one had time to spare and wanted to see it with their comrades - in front of them; it seemed that those were the possible choices. The scale of the map could be changed by pinching and spreading one’s fingers, just like with a smartphone.
The map of the real stage was still unknown, so right now a large „sample” was displayed.
During the satellite scan once every 10 minutes, white light dots would be displayed. It would be the location of the participating team’s leader. The dull grey dots would be the last position of a team that was wiped out or surrendered. The way to use it was very simple. It seemed that she would not have problems with it.
Placing the terminal at her feet for the time being, LLENN changed to her pink combat uniform under her robe. On her head she of course wore a pink knit cap. On the nape of her neck - a pink bandana. As for the unnecessary robe, she put it in her storage.
Next up was her equipment. Her beloved gun P-chan, a P90 dyed in pink, appeared in her hands. On the sides of her thighs, a pouch with three spare magazines each.
LLENN liked the fact that her clothes changing instantly with just the operation of the window screen was like the transformation scene of a magical girl anime that she saw in the past.
She believed that pretty much no one would be using optical guns in a battle against people like SJ, but there were eccentrics everywhere. For peace of mind, LLENN also equipped a large brooch-like item, a defence field generating device.
There was room to spare on her waist belt, so she equipped a cylindrical first-aid kit pouch on the side of her magazine pouch. A first aid kit was a recovery item that, if tapped on the skin, would restore 30 percent of one’s lost hit points. However, it would actually take 180 seconds for it to finish, so it was awfully useless in the midst of a battle.
The satellite scan terminal placed at her feet completely fit in the large chest pocket of her combat uniform.
With this, LLENN’s preparations were complete.
M, who had materialised his M14 EBR and placed it at his feet, presented something to LLENN.
While tilting her head to the side, she accepted it; a combat knife in a scabbard.
The green scabbard was made of plastic with a black cover made of nylon, while a knife with a black grip was sheathed in it. Its overall length was approximately 30 cm. The length of its blade alone was probably a little less than 20 cm.
LLENN timidly unfastened the flap, drew the knife from the scabbard and a very very evil-looking, matte black blade that did not reflect light appeared.
Although she used a kitchen knife for cooking, it was her first time holding such a large knife. Coupled with the smallness of LLENN’s hands, it looked as if she was holding a nata knife(2).
Although it was the same blade as a kitchen knife, it was a more immediate „weapon“ than a gun, so it made LLENN feel considerably scared,
She ended up immediately returning it to the scabbard. After fastening the flap as well, LLENN faced M.
“M-san, what am I…… supposed to do with this?”
“Your strength value should still allow it, so have it as an additional armament. Otherwise, when you run out of bullets for your P90, you won’t be able to do anything.”
“But, I’ve equipped seven magazines, so that’s 350 bullets, you know?”
Three in each pouch on her thighs and one equipped on the P90. That was a considerably large number of bullets that could be carried by one person. That was the result of the P90’s large quantity of bullets per magazine.
Because of that unique layout, changing the magazine for the P90 takes quite some time compared to other guns, but considering LLENN’s tempered agility and dexterity, she could easily and quickly handle it even while flying in mid-air.
Additionally, she had another three in her storage, so she could equip new magazines in-between battles.
LLENN had never had trouble with running out of bullets for her P90 so far. For that reason, she did not equip a side arm.
However, M did not yield.
“Although GGO is about gunfights, in considerably close combat in narrow rooms, it is possible to encounter hand-to-hand combat occasionally. All the more so in SJ as there are a lot of people. It is possible that I’ll give you the instruction „use a knife that doesn’t make any sound“”
Even LLENN could not deny that.
Even during monster farming, there were plenty of cases of her coming too close to her opponent and unleashing her bullets at point blank range. If she had a knife in those cases, she could indeed use slash and stab attacks. Moreover, it wouldn't make a sound.
“In close-quarter combat, knives are often stronger than guns. More so when a person’s agility is as high as yours, LLENN. Equip it horizontally on the back of your waist. When you need to use it, draw it with your right hand in a backhand grip——”
While saying this, M moved his own right hand and lectured her.
“Your opponents should be bigger than you LLENN——”
Well, there wasn’t any chance of her opponent being smaller than her.
“If you are confronting them directly, assault them, pass under the enemy’s groin, and cut at either the left or right inner thigh. A femoral artery runs there, so it will cause considerable damage. Sometimes, greater than when hit with a bullet.”
It was an unpleasant lecture which was far too realistic.
GGO’s damage setting reproduces human vitals quite well.
If the centre of the head or the medulla oblongata is shot, even if the bullet is small, an instant death with one bullet was possible. Even if that didn't happen, spots that could cause great bleeding and spots that could lead to the person being unable to move one’s body if injured lead to far greater decrease of one’s hit points when hit.
LLENN thought, ‘With a gun, there wouldn’t be that much resistance, but with a knife, you’d really want to avoid using it’. But she felt a bit relieved that no matter how long someone was engulfed in playing GGO or how many times one shot someone, they definitely wouldn’t be able to commit murder in RL.
But then, aside from magic attacks, ALO, the game that LLENN first tried playing with Miyu, was a meatgrinder(3) game where everyone would cut each other with swords.
M’s „murder technique“ lecture continued.
“Additionally, if your opponent comes pointing his gun at you, cut at the interior of his upper arm from below with an uppercut. That also leads to a lot of damage, and the person may drop his gun because of pain and numbness.”
In VR games, when someone gets hit, cut, struck with magic, shot and, on top of that, bitten by a monster— „receive damage“ in any way, they would feel pain.
How much pain—— or rather, a „feeling that simulates pain“, that a player felt depended on the game, but in GGO, the pain was considerable.
It is said that the feeling of being shot was close to the feeling of „an acupressure point being pressed“.
In shiatsu(4) and other therapies, when a painful acupressure point is pressed, the surrounding area becomes numb with a throb and the energy in the vicinity is released; it was a feeling like that. When shiatsu is over, the pain is immediately allieved, and no injuries remain on the skin, so it was quite similar.
The hands and arms were especially sensitive to the pain of being shot, so dropping whatever was in one’s hands in such a situation was quite common.
“Even if the opponent drops their gun, there’s no need to pick it up. Follow up by aiming and slicing the interior part of the thighs or the hands. Humans who came to fight with just their guns won’t be expecting hand-to-hand combat.”
M’s lecture still continued. The fact that he was saying all of that indifferently was considerably scary.
“If an opponent that you hadn’t noticed comes attacking from behind, aim to strike the Achilles tendon slightly above the boots on the side while lowering your back. Then, even if the opponent is downed, there will be a protective plate on their abdomen and chest, so your blade won’t go through much. In that case, the first thing you should aim for is the neck. Make a cut as long as you can along the nape of the neck. It should be like brushing the neck in a semicircle.”
While giving a half-hearted reply, LLENN
‘M-san, what kind of person are you!’
Had such an idea in her mind.
He was excessively knowledgable. Nothing but eagerly desiring in-game knowledge.
“If aiming for the head, go for the eyes. Human bones are surprisingly sturdy, so even if you thrust violently at them, the blade won’t go through easily. The exception is the eye socket. If an eye is stabbed, the damage even reaches the brain. In GGO, when aiming for an instant death with one blow in a knife battle, the neck and this are probably the only viable options.”
While shouting ‘ugee’ in her mind, LLENN listened to what her lecturer said and put it all in her head. She was serious at heart, thus her common sense lost out at times like this. She gained a lot of knowledge that an ordinary female university student could do without.
In the end, LLENN could not get M to take back the knife, so she reluctantly equipped it at the back of her waist. As she was in-game, through operating the window screen, she equipped a beautiful belt.
LLENN held her P90 on her left shoulder via the gun's sling and extended her right hand towards the knife.
With her thumb, the well-made strap was unfastened without a sound, and the knife was drawn out smoothly. While holding it in a backhand grip, she tried lightly swinging it in front of her. She hadn’t felt such heaviness.
LLENN was a character with high agility, so if brandished it while making serious effort, she would probably be able to slash considerably quickly.
M said a short phrase in approval——
While returning the knife to its scabbard, LLENN thought that she definitely wouldn’t need to use it.
When the remaining time was less the 3 minutes, M’s exciting dress-up was completed.
Just like the other day, gaudy green camouflage from top to bottom. He had a bush hat on his head, but this time there were multiple layers of rectangle-shaped camouflage cloth hanging down from it. It was a disguise for obscuring the most conspicuous silhouette that was his head.
On the upper half of his body, there was a vest with a massive bulletproof plate and with plenty of magazine pouches attached. This time, plasma grenades were hanging down from his side, or more like they were mostly hanging down from his back.
As for these plasma grenades, compared to usual grenades that scattered fragments upon the explosion of gunpowder, they were far more powerful.
Once it exploded, a torrent of bluish-white energy would spread in a spherical area of approximately 4 metres in diameter, and everything in it, aside from objects of massive weight, would be blown away.
If there’s a human within the effective range, it depended on their defensive power, should their bodies suffered sixty-eighty percent of the damage or more - instant death. If it was less than that, a great deal of damage depending on the amount.
They were lightweight and cheap in contrast to their power, so it was a popular offensive item in the world of GGO. There were also cases of people throwing these at each other with all they have at close range with cover in-between, like an extreme snowball fight.
On M’s back, a greatly swelled out backpack that LLENN still did not know the contents of.
On his right thigh, a holster with his HK45. On his left thigh, a pouch with M14 EBR and HK45 magazines.
The giant who had fully equipped and was holding his large gun, the M14 EBR, was like a robot from SF movies.
‘It seems it would be fun if he’d let me ride on his shoulders.’
LLENN thought, but left it unsaid.
The digit denoting the minutes of remaining waiting time had already reached zero.
Only the digits representing seconds, 43, 42, 41, 40, 39—— relentlessly continued to decrease.
“All right…… Let’s do this, shall we.”
M’s composed voice reached her both directly, and through the communication item in her left ear. Hereafter, the switch would not be turned off until the game ended.
LLENN pulled and released the loading handle, and with a dry metallic sound, a bullet was loaded in the gun chamber.
M also pulled the loading handle of his M14 EBR, and a thick metallic sound resounded farther than the P90’s.
This sound of loading the chamber was not a sound that would rouse LLENN’s will to fight.
Along with the feeling of excitement, the countdown continued——,
The moment all digits displayed zero, the two were engulfed in light.
LLENN’s whited out field of vision regained its colour and form.
Where are we?
The first thing that should be confirmed was the kind of terrain she was on.
Just as LLENN visually confirmed her whereabouts,
“It’s a forest. Not good, huh.”
M’s voice could be heard at the same time.
“It’s a forest……”
The location of LLENN, who muttered that regretfully, was a woodland zone.
They were in a forest with many tall trees growing right in front of them. It was not a thick and luxuriant forest, but made her recall the forests on the continent of North America she had seen on TV.
The probably 3 metre-thick trunks overlapped one another, so the field of vision was poor, and she could not see beyond 100 metres. As for the ground, a species of knee-length fern grew on the moist soil, and looking in the other direction, she noticed that there was a bit of an incline.
Looking up, LLENN noticed that the branches of the many trees had formed a dark roof, and the always red sky could only be seen faintly seen through the gaps.
LLENN immediately understood the reason why M said „not good“.
“There are two problems right? M-san. The first, is that we can’t make the best use of M-san’s sniping. The other is that I stand out.”
With so many trees lined up, the range for battling against enemies would be dozens of metres at the longest. It was an advantageous distance for LLENN’s P90, but a bad distance for M’s support.
Even for LLENN, to have her pink camouflage display its effect, she needed a desert or wilderness illuminated by the always red sun. This place that was just dim was very disadvantageous.
M with his green camouflage, on the other hand, ominously blended in. If he stood still, it seemed he was one with the forest.
“That’s right. This place is disadvantageous.”
While responding, M turned his left hand towards his back, and put it inside the side pocket of his backpack. Just when LLENN wondered what could he be taking out, what appeared between them was a large poncho. With gaudy camouflage patterns that were the same as M’s.
M grasped it with his left hand, *basa*, threw it to LLENN.
“Until we come out of the forest, put this on. When it’s important to do so, you may drop it. I don’t mind if you end up shooting through the poncho with the P90.”
‘I see, this will definitely be less conspicuous than pink.’ LLENN though after confirming one of M’s „secret tools“. In this situation, he seemed to be carrying camouflage ponchos matched for various terrain.
LLENN put on the poncho beginning from her head.
It hid her hands and weapon, but it was fine to shoot through this poncho if they encountered an enemy. If this was a battle in RL, such a thing would probably be quite difficult, but, in GGO, there was the Bullet Circle feature that showed the trajectory of the bullets.
Even if one could not peek through the sights of their gun, just by placing one’s finger on the trigger, a circle would appear so there was no need for a proper stance at close range. Of course, in the case of precise shooting, if one did not assume a proper stance, the gun would move chaotically, and the circle would similarly move chaotically.
„In the case of a close range gunfight, it’s fine to aim the circle at the enemy quickly without taking up a proper stance“ as a shooting technique in GGO was LLENN’s forte in battle.
At the same time, it was one of the reasons why the dot sight (a sight attached with a red dot that showed the bullet trajectory on a lens that did not magnify) and the laser sight (using an emitted laser to aim) were completely unpopular. The dots and laser would overlap with the circle, conversely making it hard to aim.
“After we see the map, let’s move.”
Were M’s words. This location was disadvantageous, so his strategy was probably to quickly move out.
“Gotcha! Where to?”
LLENN, who was like a green monster, with the overly long poncho covering her entire body, asked. M operated the satellite scan terminal and a map image appeared at the space in front of the two. For both of them to view it at the same time, this way was more convenient.
What appeared in the image was a map with north as the top cardinal direction.
It was coloured, and the terrain was reproduced as a three-dimensional image; so it was really easy to understand. Naturally, just like with a smartphone or tablet, they could freely change the scale and angle.
For the first time, LLENN checked out the stage, the geography of where she would be fighting hereafter.
The battlefield was surrounded by deep gorges running down the left and right ends of the map, in other words, towards the east and west, as well as mountains at the top and cliffs at the bottom.
The gorges in the east and west, as geographical features, marking the boundary of the field where movement was possible, were common in other fields as well. If someone fell off the cliff which was over 100 metre-high, they would die.
Possibly because players retorted that this was far too convenient, an actually plausible setting: „It is a scar made by robust fin-stabilisers from the lower of the hull of a giant spaceship, when it performed an emergency landing“ was established.
On the north side - a mountain that quickly grew steep. On the south side - a cliff that was so high that it seemed like the earth’s crust had formed a gap. Of course, no matter how much effort one put it, or what kind of skills one used, both of them were areas where passage was impossible.
From top to bottom, the width of the zone where movement was possible was around 10 km, just like in the BoB. At regular intervals, eleven vertical and horizontal grid lines ran through the map, thus the width of one square was 1 km.
Roughly grasping the area where movement was possible——,
The south side (under 3 km in width) was an open area, dotted with rocks, wildernesses and deserts. Here and there, rocky mountains, ruins and other places where one could hide themselves could be seen.
The central part of the east side was filled by the ruins of a large city. Large streets and still standing skyscrapers were depicted. „It’s facing the gorge on the east side, but the buildings are still standing after the spaceship’s emergency landing?“, such a question was ignored on this occasion.
The central part of the map seemed to be an old residential district lined with low-class houses. The roads and buildings were finely depicted, and it looked like a maze. A vast extent of blue could be seen, but it was proof that this area was submerged.
There was a river flowing in the vicinity from the upper-right to the bottom-left, so this is probably where the water was flowing from. If it was shallow, one could of course walk through it, but if it was deep, the action of „swimming“ would become necessary.
In this case, if one did not temporarily put their heavy equipment, like guns, into storage, one would sink unless swimming was their forte. Also, underwater, one’s hit points would gradually decrease, thus it wasn’t really a place that one would want to go through.
The northeast was filled by a green woodland area, and a marker denoting their own location shone faintly. This was in the SJ rule book. It was an assistance measure that, for just a minute after the beginning, would allow players to know their own position. After that minute, they would have to wait until the satellite scan.
Based on their observation, LLENN and M seemed to be positioned nearly at the upper-rightmost corner of the map. There was a rule that each team would be at least 1 km away from others at the start of the game, thus no enemy would be more to the north and east than them.
On the west side of the forest, in other words, the north-west area - a gently-sloping prairie. It was an area with unobstructed view and with nowhere to hide.
The west side below it was a circle-shaped wetland with poor footholds. There, a large spaceship-like giant structure had pierced the ground in an almost perpendicular manner. Like the buildings, it should be possible to enter and climb it. The swamp had likely formed after this spaceship crashed.
LLENN, who had been looking at the map for around 10 seconds, looked up, while M continued glaring at the map for another 15 seconds. He was standing without quivering and, moreover, with a serious expression she had never seen before, so LLENN kept quiet and waited. Well, it’s not like she knew him that well.
M pressed the button of the satellite scan terminal, the map disappeared, and M whispered the following order,
“In any case, we’re leaving the disadvantageous forest. We’ll probably won’t make it there until the first scan, but I want to use the city as much as possible. We’re heading due south. Follow me at a 10 metre interval.”
His natural voice was barely audible, but due to the communication item that automatically adjusted the volume, she could hear it very clearly. With this, even if they weren’t able to hear each other at all if an enemy was right next to them, there was no need for hand signs, in other words, gestures, to understand each other
“Roger. I’ll follow.”
After LLENN answered, M immediately began running towards the centre of the forest. There was no hesitation in his actions at all. Facing the urban area in the south, he descended down the slope.
There shouldn’t be any enemies close by yet, but M did not show any negligence, and was carrying his EBR in front of his body so that he could immediately shoot if he happened to see anyone and continued running while examining the surroundings.
With her body covered by a camouflaging poncho, once M was the aforementioned 10 metres away, LLENN began following him. Not getting too close was to avoid the 1 in 10,000 chance of being wiped out by a full auto rapid fire or grenade explosions in case enemies ambushed them.
LLENN continued running, while instructing herself „a bit more slowly“, as she had high agility and would outrun him if she ran too fast.
Just as they had travelled towards the dark centre of the forest for around 200 metres by eye-measurement,
Abruptly, they heard a sound like the beating of a small drum from afar.
With these sharp words, M stopped moving, and quickly crouched. At times like this, his reaction was truly fast. LLENN followed suit, and though a bit confused, bent down 10 metres behind him.
*Tatatatan*, such a light sound of gunfire repeatedly overlapped, creating a disordered rhythm. It was like some unskilled person was randomly and repeatedly hitting a small drum. Unmistakably, a team was exchanging gunfire with another team somewhere.
The long, followed by short, sounds continued without a break for 2 seconds or more. It seemed that a considerable number of bullets were disseminated.
“A 5.56 mm-class assault rifle, huh. There’s a guy firing with a submachine gun too.”
M’s calm analysis reached LLENN’s ears.
“You can tell? M-san.”
In GGO, sounds from real guns were recorded where possible, so the level of reproduction was high.
Be that as it may, she did not know if guessing even the type of gun used was a character skill, or player knowledge.
LLENN was amazed by how good M’s ears were. Following that, the next question came to her mind.
“They’re already fighting? Isn’t it too early?”
“They probably wanted an advantageous position, dashed recklessly with all they had, and met someone due to bad luck. The location is somewhere further to the west. It isn’t really early.”
Just as M said, there were still 7 minutes until the first satellite scan, so it probably really was a chance meeting.
Considering the guys in question, they were awfully unlucky. That before they could obtain the advantageous position they desired, they ended up in a gaudy melee fight. There will probably be characters who would end up in a game over death 3 minutes after SJ started
While the loud sounds continued,
“Move slowly beyond this point, LLENN, you stand first. This way. I’ll indicate if you deviate from it.”
M slowly moved his left hand and indicated the direction in which she should proceed.
“If in the 1 in 10,000 chance we encounter an enemy inside the forest, firstly, crouch on the spot. After that, I’ll instruct you according to the situation.”
To be honest, in the current situation, when she did not know when she would encounter enemies, and moreover, with an obstructed view, taking the role of the vanguard was quite scary, but if she was ordered to do so by a player who likely excelled over her, she had no other choice.
While being careful to advance as straightly as possible, avoiding thick trunks and keeping a close watch on the point that she was advancing towards, LLENN advanced at the speed of a fast walk.
She advanced and advanced, but inside the forest, it was as if the scenery did not change. This was a location where one would even be uncertain whether they were really moving.
‘Just don’t suddenly encounter enemies, just don’t encounter them——’
While wishing for that in her mind, she resisted the desire to put her left hand’s index finger on the P90’s trigger. Moving while having one’s finger on the trigger risked accidental discharge when the person fell, so she absolutely had to refrain from doing that.
Soon, the gunfire that they could hear in the distance suddenly disappeared. She did not know whether one of the teams won, or both ran away.
‘Just don’t let there be enemies just don’t let there be enemies just don’t let there be enemies just don’t let there be enemies don’t be there don’t be there——’
With her fear putting her on edge, LLENN descended the slope of the forest. ‘There could be someone hiding on the other side of that trunk. We could be shot from the side when we pass through it.’
There would be no end to such thoughts, so, eventually,
‘„Oh enough! If you do come, then come at me! Even if we stab at each other, I’ll turn you into P-chan’s rust!“’
She marched on while having such a thought in mind.
However, it seemed that the goddess of good luck smiled on LLENN. Even 9 minutes after the game started, they did not come into contact with any enemy.
“All right, stop. Crouch. Vigilant standby.”
In order to check on the satellite scan, she got an instruction to stop marching from M.
LLENN crouched on the spot in the forest.
Even if he had said that a bit later, LLENN planned to stop her march without being ordered to.
This was because, the forest would end in about 10 metres in front of her. From that point on, below the slope covered in just grass, was a city that was turned to ruins.
A large street, perhaps a highway, with six or so traffic lanes, stretched out right in front of LLENN. It wasn’t an overhead structure, it was at the same height as the surrounding ground. Thinking about its position, the river was probably flowing through a culvert below the highway.
It was a paved road that looked easy to move through. In several places, some cars had toppled over, and some were scorched. Compared to the forest they were currently in, the field of vision was overwhelmingly open, but at the same time, the amount of cover, in other words, places where one could hide, had diminished.
At that point, there were a lot of small mountains of rubble, and also, a great number of towering ruined buildings of ten to thirty floors.
LLENN carefully examined what she saw ahead. Within her current range of vision, there were no human figures. The city should extend to the south for 1 km or more for certain, so the enemies that could be positioned in the south side would be coming from the south or west.
LLENN exhaled deeply, ‘now then, where is M’, as she tried turning around,
“I’m 300 metres behind you.”
M’s voice reached her ears.
“Wha? That far?”
M’s calm response reached LLENN, who unintentionally said that in surprise.
“A scan will be made soon. LLENN’s position, will be exposed. So I'm keeping my distance.”
“If we’re unlucky and there’s an enemy in the vicinity, they’ll certainly rush to LLENN’s position right after the scan.”
LLENN understood that too. But in that case, she would have to take on a maximum of six people by herself. She had no hope of winning.
“A-and then……? If that happens, what, should I do?”
LLENN questioned, as she completely did not understand what M was thinking, and had no choice but to ask.
“In that case, you don’t have to aim, so walk along the trees and retreat while shooting away in a flashy manner. I’ll snipe the people chasing you as I go around the left side.”
‘I see, in short I’ll be a decoy, while M goes around the east side which should not have enemies as it’s the field boundary’, LLENN now understood .
She understood but——
‘Turning the leader into a decoy is such an awful plan!’
She was a bit angry.
When the clock hit 14:09:30, the wrist watch on LLENN’s left arm began to vibrate bit by bit . An alarm was set to ring 30 seconds before each satellite scan.
“LLENN, you don’t need to look at the scan terminal, keep an eye on your surroundings.”
He did not have to tell her that enemies might be rushing towards her, so she could not leisurely look at the terminal. Under her camouflage poncho, LLENN checked whether she had disengaged the safety for the P90 with her finger once more.
And at the next moment,
She observed moving figures.
1. ^ Betting which team would win, similarly to how people do so for for sport events.
2. ^ A wide blade knife (similar to a machete, but not so large).
3. ^ The original text uses the word 肉弾戦 (nikudansen), which means “warfare in which enemies fling themselves at the enemy”. The closest expression I could come up with was “meatgrinder”, in the meaning of “a slaughterhouse for soldiers”.
4. ^ Shiatsu (指圧, lit. “finger pressure”) is the name of a finger pressure massage/therapy in Japanese.