P.S. A manga version of this series by Tamori Tadadi will begin on the 27th of October on the Dengeki Maoh magazine.
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.
Editing: Pryun, Kumo
SECT.10 - LLENN and M
“M-san! I brought him down!”
After finishing her prayer for the man, LLENN faced M with a refreshing smile and voice. Such a smile after killing the man herself and then even praying for him. As is usual for a game.
“Yeah, well done.”
As M answered, he began folding up the shield that protected him. He performed a move that was the opposite of extending it, in other words, he spread his arms, then brought them together to flatten the shield. Finally, the shield was returned to its layered state, and M put it in his backpack.
LLENN looked for the monocle that she had dropped, picked it up, and returned it to her pocket.
Then, approaching at a half-run, she arrived in front of M, who had put the backpack on his back and taken the M14 EBR into his arms.
“But still, M-san, that was amazing! You sniped them that easily!”
After she said that much, she came up with another thought,
“But…… Why… didn’t they avoid M-san’s Bullet Lines?”
And voiced it.
“That’s because they couldn’t see them.”
She heard M’s words that were neither prideful nor boastful.
“Eeh? They couldn’t see them? Why?”
“Because, I didn’t create them.”
“Eeh? Eeh? How? After all, they appear whenever you put your finger on the trigger, right?”
“That’s why I didn’t put my finger on it.”
“Hah? Then, what about the Bullet Circle?”
“Naturally, it didn’t appear.”
“Hee? Then—— how did you aim?”
To LLENN’s last consecutive question,
M gave a short answer.
LLENN remembered Pitohui’s words.
“There are good things, LLENN-chan. You see, since GGO is a game, a lot of things can be done in simple way. Which is strikingly obvious in shooting.”
If she wasn’t mistaken, that took place in the ruins of a subway station.
It was conversation that took place after they wiped out about three dozen cleaning robots, whose AI had went mad and started attacking people, while they drank tea from a thermos flask in front of a pile of scrap that was illuminated by an eerie-coloured LED.
“Shooting is simple? What do you mean?”
“Yeah. For example, if we tried giving the real LLENN-chan a real P90. Well, let’s forget about the Japanese Swords and Firearms Control Law for this. If we do, you’d be able to smoothly insert the magazine, pull the cocking handle to load the bullets, and even get into a proper stance with the gun, right?”
“But, do you think you’d be able to shoot a human-size target 100 metres in front of you, like you can in GGO?”
“Eeh? Well…… I’m not really sure……?”
“Although there’s a small chance that you’d be able to do it, it would probably be impossible. There’s but one reason for that - there’s no assistance.”
“In GGO, you see, if you aim your gun to some extent towards a target, and it falls into the area of the Bullet Circle, the game system will make the decision to „help adjust the aiming for you to hit the target“.”
“The-then……, that means that we’re „not actually aiming accurately“?”
“Right. GGO players think that they can hit the target with their violent shooting skills, but actually, they’re being helped tremendously by the game system. As the characters playing the game level up and acquire guns with high accuracy and power, this assistance becomes more and more pronounced. In other words, you don’t need to aim properly for the hit to be registered. It’s something like ≪Sword Skills≫. GGO players „can shoot more easily“, so they become stronger.”
“I see…… It’s something like my speed, huh.”
“I’ve tried it out before; I took and steadied a high-precision sniper rifle, and seized the moment when the target was at the centre of the Bullet Circle seen through the scope—— and then, I pulled the trigger violently, with the gun shaking, no matter how you look at it. Now, what do you think could have happened to the bullet I fired?”
“It hit……. the target?”
“Correct, right in the middle, just as the Bullet Circle showed. That’s how I confirmed. That GGO’s gun triggers are „bluntly put, kinda like the manipulation of a controller’s button“.”
“I see…… So, that’s what you meant that „they’re being considerably helped“, huh. Then, Pito-san, what would happen if GGO truly reproduced severely real shooting?”
“Let’s see. In that case, it would probably either be an Everest-like difficulty shit game, where even after tens of hours of shooting practice on the level of actual soldiers, people would only be beginners, or a laugh-inducing shit game where almost everyone would be firing with assault rifles 100 metres away from each other.”
“A game’s a game. It can’t be helped even if you take reality too seriously. GGO’s fine as it is.”
“I see…… Then, Pito-san, a question.”
“Yeah, this proactive attitude of yours is a very good thing about you. Expect this to be reflected on your school report.”
“Thank you very much! ——What would happen if a person who was sufficiently good at real shooting played this game?”
“That’s a really good question. I give you a perfect mark.”
“Thanks! ——So, what about the answer?”
“I’ve harboured the exact same question, and decided to test it. I invited an acquaintance of mine who’s a gun maniac and good at shooting with live ammunition.”
“He was a bit bewildered at first, but once he grasped it, he instantly became able to hit the target by shooting violently. „As I expected, it’s reproduced well precisely because it’s an American game“, that’s what he said.”
“Hoo! It’s a thing that you mentioned earlier - what a person can do with their player ability rather than their character ability.”
“Right, that’s exactly that. However, that guy added this. „The Bullet Circle assistance is a two-edged sword“, that’s what he said.”
“The answer is that it tells you where the bullet will fly before you fire. That’s why, „Even if you don’t aim properly, you can still fire, thus this game cannot be used to practice RL shooting. On the contrary, it would probably dull your skills. It could probably only be used for practicing to grasp the timing of firing.“ The observable difference is disgustingly wide”.
“I see…… But, well, I wouldn’t be able to play without it. ——So, what’s the good point?”
“Yeah. „Because of this, long-distance sniping becomes overwhelmingly easy.“ You see, shooting at a far away enemy with a gun is absurdly difficult. You know why you can’t just aim at the centre of the scope?”
“I learnt that from the NPC demon sergeant’s sniping tutorial. Bullets are pulled by gravity and fly in a parabola, so you have to aim upwards, accounting for how much the bullet would fall based on the distance.”
“That’s not all. When aiming at a target who is above or below you, the descent of the bullet decreases in proportion to the angle; if the temperature and altitude are high, the air becomes thin, and so the bullet can fly better; if there is wind, it, naturally, blows the bullet; the bullet also drifts in the direction that it rotates; and if you’re aiming for super-long-distance sniping at a target 1 km or farther away, you also have to consider the „Coriolis force“, caused by the rotation of the Earth.
“Sensei, I don’t get it anymore.”
“Well, the point is, a lot of calculations and experience is required for long-distance sniping. Real snipers get familiar with all of this by shooting hundreds of bullets to practice, observing how their bullets fly from their guns. But——”
“I get it! The Bullet Circle does the calculations completely automatically like a computer. The system tells you ‘right now, you will hit here’. It becomes super simple.”
Hearing M’s short answer, LLENN immediately remembered her conversation with Pitohui and,
“I get it! M-san is the acquaintance of Pito-san who is good at shooting IRL!”
“Huh? …… Yeah. That’s right.”
With that, all the questions in LLENN’s head were answered one after another.
“By „aiming directly“, you mean that you didn’t use the Bullet Circle assistance; you fired even though you didn’t use it, right? In other words, M-san, you peeked through the scope, calculated where you needed to aim with your effort alone, and fired!”
“Hence, M-san, you didn’t put your finger on the trigger until just before firing! That is why the Bullet Lines weren’t created either, and even though they could have appeared for a moment just as you fired, they didn’t notice them because it was too short!”
M continued nodding, as if this was a very easy thing to do.
“That’s amazing M-san! That is…… absurdly advantageous!”
LLENN did not hide her excitement.
GGO’s Bullet Circle and Bullet Lines are similarly advantageous to both attackers and defenders.
However, if one could shoot without needing the Bullet Circle like M, wouldn’t it be a one-sided advantage to the attacker? Moreover, it wasn’t really a cheat that tampered with the system. It was an advantage that depended on one’s player skill.
With that shield and M’s shooting abilities, he could calmly continue shooting continuously no matter how much he was under fire. And if she also counted herself, who could run around as a decoy with her nimble and tiny body——
“We can win this! One team to go! We can beat them! We can get the gold medal!”
“That would be nice. The scan is starting soon.”
At that moment, LLENN’s wristwatch began vibrating. It was 14:59:30.
At last, an hour had passed.
“It’s only been an hour……”
LLENN seriously thought that this hour was the longest in her life.
That was because she had never experienced running from place to place, running around and hiding, and being showered with over several hundreds of bullets in her life, even if this was an incident in a virtual world.
LLENN took out the satellite scan terminal from her left breast pocket.
The terminal had been hit numerous times when she suddenly dropped to the ground, but if it was broken, it would be impossible to continue with SJ, thus it was an indestructible object. She pressed the switch, and the map appeared before her.
The scan would begin in 20 seconds.
The aimlessly wandering team in the southern desert-wilderness region being still alive was undoubtedly the reason they did not hear the victory fanfare moments ago.
10 minutes ago, the group was at the southern tip of the map, but it was obvious that they would be coming here. Well, there was also the possibility that they would be running from place to place for some strange reason. For example, if the remaining team got tired of fighting and are planning to continue running away until they drop out, or something like that.
While having such thoughts, LLENN looked at M, and noticed that M took something out from his left upper arm pocket.
LLENN wondered if it was some new weapon, but it was a very ordinary and folded writing paper.
Before he expanded and read it, M looked at the terminal. She did not know what that writing paper was for, but the scan was obviously more important.
This time, it was a considerably slow scan from the north-west.
Firstly, the annihilated-resigned teams in the prairie and swamp were shown as grey dots.
“Come on come on!”
LLENN let out her thoughts at the irritating scan.
Finally, at the spot where their own light dot was displayed, a grey dot was shown, almost overlapping with their position——
“Now then, the moment of truth……”
LLENN closely observed the map. The scan should now display the whereabouts of the sole remaining enemy team.
‘Where are they? How many km away are they? Considering their position 10 minutes ago and the speed of a human, they should be in the desert, but where exactly?’
‘If they’re in the desert-wilderness area, we can come to them’, LLENN enthusiastically thought. ‘In that case, my pink camouflage will be of use, so we can make another ambush. Or, I could start running magnificently at full-speed and be the decoy for M’s „no Bullet Line sniping.“’
Engulfed in excitement and fighting spirit,
“So, where are they? How far away are they?”
LLENN muttered and saw.
The light dot aside from their own shining on the map.
It was in the square 1 km to the west of their current position, right next to them. About 600 metres in distance.
Before LLENN could come to realise the meaning behind this, bullets came flying at her.
LLENN did not hear the sound of the bullets flying.
Because she was hit.
A dull pain ran down her right flank, as if she was suddenly grabbed, and the world began revolving.
The map that she had been looking at flew away into a corner of her vision, she then saw the red sky, then the cracked asphalt, then the lake and, finally, a species of grass that she did not even know the name of came into view.
‘I was shot!’
‘And sent flying!’
Just as she realised this, she saw that her hit points displayed in the corner of her vision began decreasing with a *guun* sound. The speed was frighteningly high; the gauge immediately became yellow, and still wasn’t stopping——
‘Ah? This…… is probably…… instant death……’
The moment that she had that thought, the gauge became red, and the gauge stopped decreasing, leaving only a sliver.
Barely, truly by the skin of her teeth, LLENN survived, but——
She could not calm her thoughts after the sudden shock. The fact that she was sent flying and the world was shaken up, rather than the pain of being shot, dealt great damage. Her head was spinning as if she had motion sickness.
The next moment, LLENN floated into the air.
Her body suddenly floated up, the grass that she saw 3 metres ahead of her disappeared, and she saw the red sky.
“Don’t go wild! Let’s run away!”
Hearing M’s voice and, at the same time, feeling the acceleration in her movement, LLENN understood what happened. She was being carried by M. And M began running.
*Byun* *byun*, the sound of bullets flying could be heard close and far. *Tan* *tan*, the sound of a gun firing from afar could be heard as well. They were still under fire.
And, *bishi*, with the sound of something being pierced,
M let out a short sound.
‘M was also shot. Our opponent is a sniper. This is a relatively open area. There aren’t many places where we can hide. And most of all, I’ll be dead even if I’m just grazed by a bullet.’
‘Are we done for?’
‘Is it over for us?’
‘Are we going to lose? Were we only able to come this far?’
The moment that these thoughts overwhelmed her,
M gave a short apology. Without even the time to consider the meaning of it, LLENN was thrown. After a short fall, LLENN had a rough landing on her bottom.
In most VR games, there would be damage caused by falling from high altitude. She was worried that her hit points would be completely drained by falling on her behind like this, but this did not happen.
And then, in LLENN’s vision,
The gaudy green camouflage pattern that M used spread out. She couldn’t see anything else.
‘Where and in what state am I——’
*Byun*. *Byun*. *Byun*.
She only knew that she was still somewhere where she was under fire and right behind M.
*Byun*, *byun*, *biiiiiiiiin*.
The next moment, following the sound of bullets flying, a high-pitched engine could be heard, and she felt acceleration pushing her body further to the back, as well as a wind flowing at the back of her head.
Turning her head to the right and freeing her vision from the camouflage pattern, she saw the red surface of the lake that was reflecting the red sky. It was flowing from the left to the right.
LLENN finally understood.
That she was currently riding in a hovercraft. M, who threw her into the back seat, was operating it from the front seat. The camouflage pattern that initially filled her vision was his backpack.
“We’re getting out of here!”
“Apply it while you have the time.”
Although the sound was the same, what was used wasn’t a gun, but a first aid kit.
LLENN took out a cylindrical kit from her pouch, and, since she no longer needed to worry about her position on the shaking hovercraft, she applied it to her cheek, and pressed the button on the opposite side. Her body was momentarily enveloped in a red healing effect.
LLENN’s almost completely drained hit points would now finally recover by thirty percent, but it would take 180 seconds to finish.
She heard the sound of bullets flying at them increasing, unyielding against the noise of the engine.
“A machine gun huh. Well, they can hardly hit us at this range.”
‘Were M’s words meant to calm me down, or himself?’
While unable to determine this, LLENN was rocked by the hovercraft for several tens of seconds.
“We’re safe now. We’re at least 1 km away.”
Alongside M’s voice, the hovercraft’s speed decreased slightly. The sound of flying bullets could no longer be heard.
With a blank expression, she gazed at the surface of the flowing lake.
“LLENN, you asleep?”
“No, I am fine…… Thank you very much for saving me.”
“Were you half asleep? You started using keigo.”
“Wha? Ah, yeah…… but, I’m sorry—— sorry. For doing nothing……”
“No need to apologise. I was negligent in observing our surroundings as well. Well, even if we were vigilant, it wouldn’t be that easy to see what’s 600 metres ahead of us. More so when our opponent is hiding.”
The hovercraft continued moving.
Based on the position of the sun, all she knew was that they were heading south-west.
“M-san, what’re we going to do?”
“For the time being, we’ll put some distance between us and them until the next scan. And fully recover our hit points.”
LLENN moved her eyes, and gazed at the upper-left corner of her vision. Currently, her hit points were still recovering, just a bit away from 10 percent. Still red.
As for M, his decreased by a bit and were probably at eighty percent. Was it because of his sturdy body, or that he wasn’t shot at any critical points, or both?
“I’ll apply it on you too, M-san.”
“Thanks. It’s in the penholder on my left arm.”
LLENN applied it to the nape of M’s neck in his stead, who was using his right hand for driving. She got a short expression of gratitude in return.
“I can’t believe that they were that close……”
As LLENN muttered, she remembered the shock of the sniping she had endured just moments ago,
And shivered slightly. While admiring that even the chills were reproduced in the VR game,
“Even though they were far away 10 minutes ago……”
She let out her honest impression.
“I was negligent as well. It’s the same as with this hovercraft. Those guys got their hands on some vehicle as well.”
“Ahh! So that’s it……”
“It’s only my guess, but when the game enters the final stage, they become easy to get in various spots to increase the speed of the teams. It’s probably either a four-wheel-drive car that can be used even in deserts and wastelands, or a truck. And, they are players that are skilled at driving them.”
“Uugh…… we’ve been negligent……”
“Don’t feel down. You really are a lucky girl after all.”
“You didn’t die because of that sniper, right? 10 cm more, and it would be recognised as a hit to the heart or lungs and would have led to instant death.”
“Well, that’s true……”
“The enemy sniper was barely in range as well. He was at a range where he could only hit a still target.”
“But, M-san, you were hit too, right?”
“That was a fluke. Because I’m huge. I saw the Bullet Line, but it was aimed at my thigh, so I ignored it. It was also fortunate that the hovercraft with the two corpses had just come to shore.”
‘I see, M’s talking about the guys that were the most to the right when he sniped them’, LLENN understood.
“That sniper’s gun is a 7.62 mm class, and the interval between firing was narrow, so it must be automatic, with a magazine that has at least 10 bullets. It’s more bothersome than a bolt-action, so don’t let your guard down.”
“Gotcha…… I absolutely won’t let my guard down until the end of the game anymore! I won’t be prideful either!”
“Yeah. That’s a reliable answer.”
‘What’s reliable is you, M-san.’
LLENN began to say and stopped. No matter how many words of gratitude she offered, it wouldn’t be enough for M. She decided to hold on to it until SJ ended before saying it.
Instead, she enquired about his plan.
“Where are we headed now?”
“The south-west. We’ll be landing at the wilderness that you can see on the left-hand side right now.”
LLENN turned her head to the left, and saw the landscape. She discovered a wilderness of rocks and sand stretching about 300 metres away from surface of the red lake.
“Why? Wouldn’t it be better to head to the north-east and cross the lake and swamp? Our opponents are using a car, right? Won’t they come chasing after us?”
“That’s right, but we can’t. We don’t have much fuel left. There’s no guarantee that we’d be able to cross the lake and swamp.”
‘Even a useful tool becomes a mere ornament if it runs out of fuel, huh’, LLENN gazed up at the sky.
＊ ＊ ＊
Roughly 4 minutes ago——
In the residential area, there was a gorgeous house far away from the houses on the ground. Atop the wide balcony on the third floor of the house,
“Found them! Tohma, get over here!”
A woman that was holding binoculars while lying on the ground shouted in a menacing, deep voice.
Her height was at least 180 cm, she had developed muscles, and her chest was bulky - she was a woman that looked like a female pro wrestler. If it wasn’t for her braided, brown hair hanging down to her left and right, it would probably be hard to even determine her gender. As for her age, she seemed to be easily past her mid-thirties.
She was wearing camouflage clothes, dotted in several shades of green.She had equipped a vest with several magazine pouches.
“Where are they? Boss.”
A voice rang out from behind, and another woman crawled out into the balcony.
This one was slightly shorter, but even so, she was easily over 175 cm tall. Based on her appearance, she was slightly younger, but nonetheless she was a fine adult. She had the same camouflage and equipment on her slender body. Underneath her green knit cap was her black short cut hair.
A Russian-made sniper ≪Dragunov≫ was held in the hands of the woman named Tohma. It was a sniper which represented the old Eastern Bloc, and had a characteristic silhouette that looked slender and elegant. Its ammunition were 7.62x54 mmR(1) rounds. A semi-auto gun that could fire every time the trigger was pulled. As for its scope, it didn’t use the quadruple magnification one that is typically used on a Dragunov, but a larger and rougher looking one that could magnify three-fold to nine-fold. It came with an exclusive bipod in front of its magazine.
While pointing to the north-west over the balcony’s guardrail with her left hand, the woman called ‘Boss’ said,
“Do you see the point where the lake shore turns to a road? One minute to the left of the silhouette of the crashed spaceship.”
Tohma nimbly unfolded the bipod of her Dragunov, and assumed a prone posture on the floorboard of the balcony.
“Two people sighted. A chibi in dusky-pink, and a giant in a camouflage pattern.”
Boss used the rangefinder of her binoculars and,
“That’s them. 623 metres to the chibi. ——It’s far, can you do it?”
“I can! It’s our chance!”
“Alright! Begin with the small target.”
Tohma turned the dial on the right side of her scope, and raised her magnification to the maximum. In the magnified, circular field of vision, the playful pink-coloured enemy became bigger.
Boss’s voice could be heard.
“Everyone, listen up. Tohma will snipe the chibi. Rosa and Sophie, prepare your machine guns. They’re on the north-west lake shore. On my command, fire like crazy. Anna, search for other enemy members and, if possible, shoot them. Tanya, check the satellite scan.”
‘Roger’, four female voices answered over the communication item. This was proof that there were still six members remaining, in other words, it was a full member squad, and that all of them were female characters.
And so, the clock struck 15 o’clock.
In the field of vision of Boss’s binoculars, the pink chibi and camouflage-patterned giant man became bigger, and a map was displayed from the satellite scan terminal.
The fact that they expanded a large map in front of them was proof that they weren’t watching out for approaching enemies.
Boss’s mouth opened widely to the side, exposing her canines.
“Those guys sure will be surprised. ——Tohma?”
Tohma aligned the Bullet Circle in the lower-right part of her scope with the pink target. The circle contracted based on her heartbeats, but the flickering was really gradual, and at its largest, it almost entirely covered the pink chibi’s body.
Right after the command was given, before her heart began beating faster in excitement, Tohma waited for the timing when the circle was at its smallest, and then squeezed the trigger.
The Dragunov roared, and its long and narrow body sprang up sharply, as if it was hit by a whip. An empty shell was expelled to the right.
The fired bullet flew, piercing the wall of air and——
And flung up the small pink body 3 metres into the air.
“Bullseye! Nice skill you have Tohma! After the game, I’ll treat you to a piece of purin(2)!”
Boss’s cheerful voice reached all her party members, and Tohma replied,
“If possible, I want a second!”
And fired for the second time.
It was a bullet aimed for the giant man. The Bullet Circle was perfectly focused on his body, but the bullet missed. Because the giant man rushed over to the chibi with nimble movements.
Tohma continued firing as she aligned her the Bullet Circle with the moving giant man. However, her pulse rose in excitement, consequently increasing the speed of contraction and size of the circle, thus the bullets continued missing.
The giant man suddenly grabbed the chibi with his right hand, put her on his right shoulder, and proceeded to the lake. There was a drifting hovercraft there.
“Like hell I’m letting you!”
Tohma continued firing. 1 bullet somehow hit the giant man’s right thigh, and created a red hit effect.
However, that did not stop the giant man’s movement. He mercilessly kicked away the two corpses on the hovercraft, threw the chibi to the back seat, and took the driver’s seat himself.
Tohma’s 10th bullet raised a waterspout on the side of the hovercraft. The fact that the bolt that would move back and forth each time she fired stopped at the lower position indicated that her remaining bullets numbered zero. At the same moment,
“Boss. Their position is the lake shore. One of the two is the leader.”
Came the voice of Tanya, who had been looking at the scan. Boss immediately gave the order.
“Machine guns, fire.”
The next moment, a roar sprung forth from two windows of the third floor of a mansion.
From a child’s bedroom, and a back room.
At the windows of the two rooms were two women, who had set up ≪PKM≫ machine guns on bipods, and their atrocious muzzles continued emitting fire towards the lake.
These were also Russian-made machine guns that used the same bullets as the Dragunov. They were masterpieces designed by Mikhail Kalashinikov-shi, the person who created the AK assault rifle series; PK were the initials for „Kalashinikov machine gun“(3), while M was the initial for “modernised”.
The PKMs continued firing several bullets at a time. From the case attached under the gun, ammunition tied to a belt flowed from right to left, the bullets went forwards, while the empty shells and empty belt were spit out to the left.
The bullets flew towards the escaping hovercraft. In the field of vision of her binoculars, Boss saw numerous waterspouts in the surroundings of the hovercraft, but there weren’t any bullets that hit the target.
“Hold your fire! ——It’s unfortunate, but it seems we let them get away.”
The two machine guns stopped roaring, and the world suddenly turned silent.
“Boss. The scan position is moving atop the lake.”
Came Tanya’s voice. While peeking through her binoculars, Boss asked,
“Anna, did you see any other enemies?”
“No, Boss. I could not spot any.”
“Me neither. ——So, the odds that that group only has two members left is high, huh.”
Boss continued following the hovercraft, which was raising white-crested waves and going into the distance, until it disappeared.
“Those guys escaped to the south-west. There is a possibility that this is a trick, but the lack of fuel is a more likely case.”
As Boss put her binoculars to her waist pouch, she said in a calm tone.
“From this point, we’ll be heading to the north-western part of the wilderness. Everyone, gather at the truck.”
The team that was given the name „foxtrot“ some time ago——
Boarded the large truck stopped at the back of the mansion one by one.
To go after and take down their last prey.
＊ ＊ ＊
The place that LLENN and M landed at after finishing their seemingly elegant cruise on the lake was the south-western area, a wilderness of rock and sand.
Light brown ground already began with the bank of the lake, and it suddenly turned rugged. Naturally, it wasn’t something that the hovercraft could traverse through. Even if it could, there was barely any fuel left.
On the water, LLENN applied a second first-aid kit on herself. Her hit point recovery seemed to be nearly over. And yet, she only had sixty percent of her full state. She would probably need to use another one. Having abandoned their hovercraft at the bank, LLENN and M surveyed their surroundings vigilantly.
The wilderness was almost flat. There were oval rocks of various sizes throughout it. Starting with rocks that were 1 metre large in every direction, to large ones that were likely 5 metres tall. Because of this, there were plenty of places to hide in.
There weren’t any hilly areas, on the contrary, if they climbed on a rock, they would be able to see reasonably far away.
It depended on the height of the rock that one would climb, and the height of other rocks in the surroundings, but it seemed that they could be used to see about 300 metres away. The ground full of pebbles lost to the paved road in terms of hardness, but it was better as a foothold.
“It’s not bad as a place to fight. We can defend here, and we can snipe from atop a rock. The same applies to the enemy team, but we have LLENN’s agility for that.”
“And cars can’t pass through here, right.”
LLENN answered in agreement. She searched the surroundings as far as her monocle allowed, but she could not see any enemy figures for the time being.
As the healing of the second first-aid kit was over, LLENN applied the last one to the nape of her neck. LLENN no longer had any more of them, but their enemy probably wasn’t that kind to let them use any more of them anyway.
“Let’s head west. We’ll get away from the hovercraft a bit, and wait for the scan with our backs facing the water.”
Agreeing with M’s proposal, LLENN began slowly walking. There was the possibility that their opponents were chasing them by using the remaining hovercrafts, thus she constantly looked at the lake surface, but she could not see anything.
And so, it was 15:08.
The two hid in the shadow of a large rock, and decided to wait out the remaining 2 minutes.
‘My hit points aren’t full, but I recovered most of them. And, I won’t let my guard down next time!’
“Ah! That reminds me……”
LLENN remembered. That before the 15 o’clock scan, M had taken out a writing paper and tried reading it. Since they were under fire, he should have left it unsettled.
LLENN turned around towards M, who was crouching at a place about 10 metres away from here,
“Like, didn’t you try reading something like a letter some time ago? Are you sure it’s okay?”
Based on M’s seriously surprised face, it seemed that he had completely forgotten about it.
“Thanks for reminding me. I was told to read it at exactly 15 o’clock.”
M took out the writing paper from his arm pocket, opened it, and began reading.
Feeling relieved, LLENN returned her glance from M’s face to watching the surroundings. She had to protect M while he was reading the letter.
She was interested in who the letter was from, and what was written on it, but since it was a breach of manners to peek at someone else’s letter, even if this was a virtual world. LLENN only admired that someone would write a letter and carry it even in a VR game.
What stretched out in her field of vision was a wilderness of rocks and pebbles. The P90 in her hands was ready to fire at any time.
She took out two new magazines from her storage, thus, including the one equipped on her gun, she was back to seven on her body.
Using the opportunity, she materialised the two plasma grenades that she had added to her storage just in case, and hung them at the back of her left waist.
During the next battle, she’ll definitely shoot them up. Even if she died, she’d take down one or two, as many as she could. If she realised that she was done for, she’d press the switch of the grenades on her waist and charge at them.
While calmly building up her war spirit, and sharpening her five senses, LLENN waited for the scan, when she heard the sound of M putting away the letter behind her.
And she heard the sound of footsteps.
LLENN realised again that there were pebbles underneath them, and that footsteps were clearly audible. They could probably be heard even if they were several metres away. She’d better not carelessly move around when ambushing at this place.
*Saku*, *saku*, M’s footsteps could be heard. They were coming towards her. The time on her wristwatch was 15:09.
‘Does he want to have a strategy meeting and show the map? Or is this about the letter?’
While having these thoughts, LLENN suddenly turned around——
M’s stood 2 metres ahead of her, held his HK45 with just his right hand, and was aiming the muzzle directly at her face.
LLENN clearly saw how the HK45’s large muzzle shone.
1. ^ 7.62×54mmR is a rimmed rifle cartridge developed by the Russian Empire for the bolt-action Mosin-Nagant rifle, and is still used nowadays for sniper rifles like the Dragunov, and some other guns. The R in mmR stands for "rimmed".
2. ^ Japanese name for creme caramel or custard pudding.
3. ^ In Russian, Пулемёт Калашникова (Pulemyot Kalashnikova). Technically, it means “Kalashinikov’s (possessive case) machine gun”.