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.11 - Death Game
LLENN clearly saw how the HK45’s large muzzle shone.
And she clearly heard the 45 calibre bullet passing by the side of her right ear.
If she hadn’t acted before she realised the situation——
And if she hadn’t fully demonstrated her agility and twisted her body——
The bullet would have hit her right eye, completely draining the hit points that she went through all the trouble of recovering, resulting in instant death.
M immediately swung his right arm, and continued aiming at LLENN’s head.
To LLENN, it seemed like the world had entered slow motion. She clearly saw the Bullet Line closing in on her face. To avoid that, she twisted her body to the left again.
Another discharge. The bullet once again grazed her head, and this time, it tore off her favourite knit cap. If her movement had been just slightly slower, she would probably have been shot.
She did not understand his reasons at all, but she understood the situation.
She was being shot at by M. It seemed he wanted to kill her. And moreover, there was no use in trying to talk it over.
M, who was trying to fire the third bullet, showed a stern facial expression as always, and his emotions could not be read. However, there was no need to read them.
LLENN had but a single thought.
‘No way I’m going to be killed.’
LLENN’s left foot took hold of the pebbles, which became a foothold for generating repellent force. The 3rd Bullet Line approached her, and the moment it fixed at her right eye,
LLENN jumped to the opposite side. Even if she kept escaping to the left like this, at some point she would undoubtedly be hit by a bullet.
In that case, there was only one course of action.
‘I’m going to turn the tables!’
To make this dangerous gamble and attack him herself using any mistake in timing—— LLENN’s agility won.
After LLENN energetically leaped forward and to the right, a Bullet Line that was 5 cm to the right of her body disappeared, and a bullet passed through. It wasn’t even 1 cm away from the P90 that was hanging by its gun sling.
Having made a large side step, LLENN landed with her right leg. At that point, M wasn’t even 1 metre away, while the HK45 was even closer, merely about 30 cm away. It was a distance she could easily cover if she extended her hand.
LLENN raised her hand towards the HK45 to slap it with her right hand. To prevent his gun from being knocked away, M slipped his hand outwards——
LLENN’s small hand just brushed the HK45’s side and M’s large thumb, and continued swinging upwards.
Having protected his HK45, M once again aimed the muzzle at LLENN’s forehead while overlooking the small body before him,
And after meeting eyes with LLENN who was laughing, he pulled the trigger without hesitation.
He could not pull it.
The HK45’s trigger refused to move. If the trigger did not move, the gun could not fire.
M’s eyes opened wide and saw. That the small lever near his right hand that controlled the safety of his beloved gun had been raised.
What LLENN’s small hands were aiming for wasn’t to knock his HK45 out of his hands——
It was only aimed at activating the safety.
The moment that M realised this, a pain ran through his right hand.
The P90 roared in full auto between the large and small bodies.
The shooting actually only lasted a moment, but a pleasant *barara* sound resounded, and 3 bullets were fired. The small bullets created shining red hit effects on M’s right wrist, and even passed through them entirely, disappearing into the sky.
The HK45 with its safety on fell out of M’s relaxed right hand, and just as half of it sunk into the sand,
The muzzle of the P90 that was thrust up with her right arm pressed into the nape of M’s neck.
“If you move even in the slightest, I’ll pull the trigger with all my strength! M-san!”
LLENN gave a shout that was probably the loudest in her life so far. The wristwatch on her left arm quivered, but she could no longer worry about that.
She planned to completely squeeze the trigger to discharge all 47 remaining bullets in the magazine, showering M from the neck up if any part of his large build moved even 1 mm. M looked like he had high vitality, but he would probably die anyway.
With a muzzle thrusted to the left of his laryngeal prominence, M looked down at her.
His stern face with his eyes and mouth open hardened, as if time had stopped.
“Listen up. Firstly——”
LLENN smiled sweetly,
“I really have to thank you for telling me the location of your safety, thinking that I might need to use it as some point. It was really useful!”
“Moreover, I want to ask—— why?”
“Why did you try to kill me? If you have a proper reason, I’ll hear you out.”
“After all that effort to get here; we fought together, you even saved me, and thus we’re one of the last two teams standing, so why? I have no intention of saying that we absolutely have to win, but I can’t accept that you tried to kill me for unknown reasons. If you couldn’t continue with the match, then you could have just discussed with me first! Am I wrong?”
“If you don’t want to answer, suit yourself. Then, I’ll fight on my own from this point on——”
While saying this, LLENN put more force into pressing the P90.
“Noooooooooooooooo! I don’t want to die! ——Pppp-please…… Ppp-please wait! Please…… I beg of you! Please don’t…… shoot…… Noo! Please stop!”
LLENN understood that this shout and feeble keigo were M’s words, but it still took some time for her to realise that.
While pulling her P90, LLENN immediately back stepped.
With her exceedingly agile jump, she instantly gained distance from M, as if she had warped, placed her P90 on her shoulder, and fixed her aim at M’s face with her sights.
She kept her finger on the trigger, so the Bullet Circle violently pulsated above M’s face, and repeatedly contracted.
M should certainly be seeing dazzling Bullet Lines. His field of vision was probably dyed deep red.
While giving a groan, M slowly dropped his knees. Cautiously watching over him, LLENN continued adjusting her aim to target his head.
His knees made a sound as they sunk into the pebbles, and then, his large build feebly knelt down. It wasn’t like she gave him such an order, but he assumed a seiza(1) pose. The still standing LLENN, and the sitting, but with barely any change in his height, M held their ground about 3 metres away from each other.
“Please…… don’t shoot……”
A feeble voice came from M. With his eyes cast down as he spoke, M’s face was covered by the wide brim of his bush hat, and disappeared from sight.
While aligning her circle with the bush hat head, LLENN said,
“Until I hear your reasons, I definitely won’t shoot. In other words, if you don’t tell me, I’ll shoot.”
“I’ll end up dying……”
“I will die……”
‘Boku?’, LLENN had the chills at the sudden change in M’s first person pronoun.(2)
“Stop using keigo! You’re giving off a weird vibe!”
It seemed that the person that she thought of as a „relative oji-san“ until now suddenly turned into a „younger cousin, who was a primary school student“, which gave her an overly strong sense of discomfort preventing her from calming down.
It was as if the person inside had changed places with someone else. LLENN of course hadn’t done it before, but it was possible to borrow an AmuSphere and control someone else’s character.
“It can’t be—— the player hasn’t changed?”
Without stopping his use of keigo, M said feebly.
“No, I have not changed…… This is the real me…… And, if you…… right now, shoot, me……. I will die…… I will end up dying……”
‘What is this guy saying?’, a question mark flew in LLENN’s head,
“That means that your character dies, you know? But, you’ll only die in GGO, in SJ, you know? There’s no death penalty in this tournament, and there’re no weapon or equipment random drops either——”
“That is not it!”
M immediately raised his head, and LLENN,
Ended up seeing something that she did not really want to see.
Tears pouring out from the eyes of the rough M. His avatar’s appearance was that of a macho guy, so the impact of this scene was quite something.
“„That’s not it“, you say, then…… what is it?”
“If, I, from this point on, die in SJ…… the RL me, will also truly die!!”
“………… Are you, right in the head?”
Shocked, LLENN remembered『Sword Art Online』, which truly became a death game.
If she remembered correctly, it used a device called the ≪NerveGear≫, and if a character died in-game, it was designed to unleash an electric pulse that would burn the player’s brain. It was like a murderous microwave oven had been placed on their heads, so she truly felt fear when she had heard the news.
Of course, the device they were using now, the AmuSphere, did not have such a function.
“This isn’t Sword Art Online, so such a thing won’t happen, right? Are you mistaking something, M-san?”
“Besides, you fought normally moments ago, and you were even shot——”
Having said up to this point, LLENN realised. That only one reason for M’s sudden change came to mind.
“M-san…… I don’t mean to be nosy but, tell me. What was written in that letter?”
*Biku*, M trembled, and tears dripped out from his face. Even nasal mucus oozed out from his nose. ‘They didn’t have to go this far with reproducing it in a game’, LLENN thought.
He did not say anything, instead, he slowly extended his right hand into his sleeve pocket, and took out the writing paper. With his head hanging in shame, he extended his right hand, and presented it to LLENN.
“You mean it’s fine for me to read it?”
*Kokun*, seeing M’s head nodding,
“Then, I’ll take it, but if you make any weird moves, I’ll shoot.”
As she said this, LLENN slowly approached him without letting go of her aim, extended her left arm, quickly took away the writing paper, nimbly back stepped once again, and took her distance.
“I’m going to read it, you know? Okay?”
With just her left hand, LLENN opened the writing paper. It was upside down, so she tried to rotate it, and panicked as it seemed that she would drop it.
Continuing to aim with her P90 using her right arm, she brought the writing paper in front of her with her left hand,
“I’m reading it.”
And began reading the Japanese written on it.
There, written in great handwriting, as if it was an example of penmanship, the letter started off with the following.
『Yahou, M. In the middle of a hard fight, eh? I told you to read this after exactly 1 hour had passed and you didn’t tear it, right? If you did, I’ll kill you, y’know? I’ll do it right away.』
Such unexpectedly unruly words were lined up. And, she now understood why M tried reading it at 15 o’clock.
The composition continued.
『You’re participating in my place, so enjoy it to your heart’s content in my place! This is a game, just something that you play! If you die in a disappointing way within an hour, I’ll kill you. But, if you survive at least an hour with just the two of you, then you really are amazing. I’ll pat you on the head in praise.』
Well, if he died before reading it, then he really would have died.
And so, as for the last part,
『If you die after this point, I will kill you after all. Suicide is out of the question too. Survive no matter what it takes. If there’s no tension in battle, then you really can’t enjoy it! Now then, enjoy it to your heart’s content! Feel what life is! That’s all.』
Just in case, LLENN tried looking at the back, but really was all there was to it.
She skillfully folded it using only her left hand and, for the time being, inserted it in her waist belt. Drawing her left hand back to her P90, she once again aimed firmly,
“Who wrote this? …I don’t even have to ask, do I…… It’s Pito-san, right?”
“Th-that is right……”
“Well, somehow, it does feel like something that person would write.”
Remembering Pitohui’s smiling face with a tattoo, LLENN let out her honest thoughts. And then,
“But you know, „die“ and „kill“ are about the game, aren’t they?”
Having made a completely sensible judgement, she told this to M.
Anyone would commonly use the words „shoot“, „kill“ and „died“, but they were all referring to the in-game events. No one would imagine that it meant „death of an RL person“.
Also, there were no idiots who got reality and the game confused and angrily exclaim, „Do you guys really know what it means to die?“ or something like that.
M lifted the face of his huge bear-like build. His face sopping wet from all the tears and nasal mucus.
And then, he laughed.
“Hahahaha! You don’t know a thing.”
At his exceedingly creepy smile,
For a moment, LLENN was at a loss for words. The contraction Bullet Circle overlapping M’s face sped up.
“What don’t…… I know?”
“How screwed up Pitohui’s head is.”
“When that woman says that she’ll kill, she means that she will really kill in RL. Killing in-game? Ahahahaha! There is no way she would be that soft! I know that she’s talking about killing in RL! And, that woman definitely knew that I would immediately realise this, that’s why she wrote this letter! She says to enjoy the game for an hour, but treats me so badly! She really does adore the death game! Even now, that woman has her heart set on that game! She’s crazy! Ahahahaha, that’s so like that woman. Ahahahahahaha!”
LLENN felt a slight dizziness.
It’s great that RL Pitohui and M are acquaintances but then, just what is the relationship between them?
LLENN previously thought „I don’t need to know“——
But now, she changed it to „I don’t want to know“.
She previously thought „I want to know“ about Pitohui in RL as well——
But now she changed it to „I don’t want to know.“
Be that as it may, she had to continue her conversation with M.
“M-san…… In other words, this is what you want to say? That if you are killed in action in SJ from this point on, the RL you will be killed by the RL Pito-san?”
“That’s what I’ve been saying!”
It was a feeble shout.
The RL M is an actor, and this is a very good performance——
There was still the possibility that this was true, but for the time being, LLENN pulled her finger away from the P90’s trigger. As the Bullet Circle disappeared,
“T-thank you very much…… I was scared…… I don’t want to die……”
She heard these words from M, who no longer saw the Bullet Lines.
“Then, why did you assume that you had to kill me?”
At LLENN’s question,
“I thought…… I’d become the leader……”
M vaguely answered.
After thinking for about 2 seconds, LLENN asked,
“What were you going to do after becoming the leader?”
“I would be able to resign. Since there wasn’t anything about resigning written on the letter, I thought I could use it as an excuse.”
“That’s so quick-witted……”
LLENN was amazed.
“But! I thought I would properly explain myself after resigning……
“Huu! Did you make light of my agility?”
LLENN said jokingly with a smile, but…
“You’re right. I should have kept quiet and thrown a plasma grenade. I really regret it.”
M answered with a serious look.
“………… Well, that aside——”
While saying that, she took the writing paper with her left hand,
“Sorry for returning it to you like this.”
LLENN threw it in front of M. Then, she looked at her wristwatch. 3 and a half minutes past 15:10.
“The scan is probably over by now……”
Just to be sure, she took out the terminal from her left thigh pocket, and tried turning the switch, but…
“As I thought.”
Only the map appeared.
The opponents had realised their position at least 3 minutes ago, and were probably in the middle of heading towards them. If this place provided an unobstructed view, they would have probably sniped at them just like the last time.
Now’s not the time for quarrelling.
LLENN returned the terminal to its original place. And then,
“M-san! Listen up, it’s alright! I’ll be fighting alone from this point on! M-san, hide somewhere so that you won’t die! If I get taken down by the enemy team, the leader mark will move to you, so you can just resign! Thanks for your help until now! Cya!”
She spoke quickly, then turned back and began running.
Being vigilant just in case she was shot from the back, she immediately entered the shadow of a nearby rock, and once again dashed at full-speed.
She was not shot.
After wondering where she should head to for a moment,
“Alright! I’ll go wild with all I have!”
Muttering this, she headed to the east. In other words, the direction that the enemy would be coming from.
Weaving her way through the gap between rocks, and sprinting at full-speed, LLENN touched the communication item on her left ear.
And then, she set the switch that she thought she wouldn’t disable during SJ to off.
M, who was left alone, heard,
“Alright! I’ll go wild with all I have!”
LLENN’s voice in his ears.
＊ ＊ ＊
Going a little back in time, at 15:11.
At the border of the asphalt-road-residential area and the pebble-pathed wilderness, a small military-use truck had stopped. The top of the truck’s load-carrying tray and the side of the cab were covered in armoured plates that seemed to have been added later on.
At its side were six women, wearing matching camouflage clothes.
The first one was the over 180 cm tall woman, Boss.
There was a large backpack placed next to her feet. From the upper part of the bag, a barrel that would not fit in stuck out, but it was impossible to tell the type of gun it was.
To the right of her waist, a black, automatic pistol was placed in a plastic holster. With her braid fluttering, she turned her gaze to the five people who stood in a horizontal line,
“Our last prey is 2 km to the west! Come, let’s bring them down, everyone!”
She shouted in a deep and menacing voice.
“Let’s do it! Boss.”
The first to answer was Tohma, who had sniped LLENN and was carrying a Dragunov. She was a slender and tall, black-haired woman, who had plenty of magazine pouches for her Dragunov attached horizontally along her waist, and only had a bulletproof plate that covered her chest. Her equipment allowed her to lie prone easily, a characteristic of a sniper.
“This is our last battle, right! I’m so psyched!”
And next was Sophie, who held a PKM in front of her body by its wide sling. Among the six, she was the shortest, but because of her large girth, coupled with her stern face, her appearance was like that of a dwarf in a fantasy world. Her long, brown hair was roughly gathered together behind her head.
It seemed that a giant battle axe on her back would suit her, but that of course wasn’t the case. On her back was a large backpack with spare ammunition cases, with spare PKM barrels sticking out from the top.
“We won’t be able to go wild anymore if we beat them! How unfortunate!”
That was the other PKM machine gunner, Rosa. She appeared to be the eldest among them, and was tall with a sturdy build. With her short, red hair and freckled face, she gave the impression of Mother Courage(3). She had a similar rucksack on her back, as well as spare barrels. On the back of this rucksack, were three plasma grenades hanging down to the left and right sides.
“Well, we can worry about that after we win. Ladies.”
The one who responded in a bewitching tone was Anna. She was a member who was roughly in her early twenties, and appeared to be the youngest member in this team. Underneath her green knit cap was shoulder-length, wavy, blonde hair. And, she wore sunglasses that hid her pupils.
She was also a sniper, who carried a Dragunov with a quadruple-magnification scope attached, and had binoculars hanging down on her chest.
“I want to decide the end with my own blow.”
The last one was Tanya. Although she had a short build, she was probably over 160 cm tall, and had very short, silver hair. With her sharp eyes and face, she looked as if she was a fox. Just like Boss, she had a pistol holster on her right waist. Boss and her were the only ones with pistols.
What Tanya was holding in her arms was a Russian-made submachine gun ≪PP-19 Bizon≫. Appearance-wise, it was smaller than the AK series, but its characteristic was a cylindrical „helical magazine“ that was attached under the barrel.
It was a structure that allowed sending in bullets in a spiral, and thus use a lot of bullets. Tanya’s Bizon, which uses 9x19 mm Parabellum bullets, could actually load 53 of them in one magazine. It was capable of continuous fire that surpassed LLENN’s P90.
There was also a cylindrical tube attached in front of the muzzle. This was a suppressor that could suppress the noise of gunshots.
Thus, all the girls were equipped with matching Russian-made guns, but Russian-made small arms all had a common characteristic in GGO.
Which was—— „they were cheap for their firepower“.
If only firepower was taken into consideration, they would lose to American and European-made guns, but if the „cost“ parameter was factored in, they would be much better. It was possible to acquire both the guns, and the bullets with not that many credits needed for the purchase.
GGO players had come up with various reasons for that.
There were opinions that „Russian-made guns were originally cheap“,
And an opinion that „This is an American game, thus Russian guns were unfairly treated as cheap products“.
Among the various opinions, the most realistic one was,
„Russian small arm makers put a low price on their license.“
Although this was in a game, implementing items with their real names, whether it be cars, planes or guns, could not be done without the permission of the makers.
GGO, which was obsessed with perfectly reproducing small arms, from their appearance to their sounds to their firepower, had acquired all the necessary licenses. Even if „guns that were excavated in the future and reproduced“ was the setting.
The license for the Russian-made guns was extremely cheap, thus with the permission acquired, the guns were cheap in GGO, in other words, this was done to increase popularity for the guns; this was the most prominent opinion.
But then, the management company Zaskar has not announced anything, so the truth behind it remains unknown.
Moreover, the most popular weapons in GGO were, nevertheless, American and European-made ones.
“Alright! That’s what I call being psyched!
Hearing the reliable and cheerful voices of her comrades, Boss gave a smile with her braid fluttering.
“Well, let’s go! On a rabbit hunt!”
And then, Anna abruptly began singing.
“I chased after rabbits on that mountain(4)”
Among the other members that joined in, only Tohma asked with a serious look,
“That song…… is it „the rabbit is tasty“?”
The dwarf machine gunner, Sophie replied,
“No! It’s „chase“, so it’s pursuing! But, since they’re being chased, it’s because they’re tasty! People wouldn’t be chasing them if they weren’t tasty!”
“I see! I really do want to eat one!”
Tohma gave a smile, lagging behind everyone else.
Boss then said,
“Well, don’t eat this rabbit even if we catch it. It’s probably not tasty.”
The five others burst into laughter.
“However, hunt with all you have! It’s a rabbit that has survived till now. Make sure you don’t let your guard down!”
Boss caused them to steel their faces in a moment.
“Watch out for its fangs! Let’s go!”
Five voices resounded in the wilderness all together.
＊ ＊ ＊
The pink rabbit,
“What do I do what do I do what do I do? What am I going to do alone? Really, what do I do?”
Ran as she muttered this.
Looking at her wristwatch, she saw that it was past 15:16. Even if they came on foot, it wouldn’t be surprising if they made contact at any moment if they ran at full-speed.
LLENN stopped running for the moment, and hid in the shadow of a large rock.
As she quickly crouched, her short, brown hair touched her cheek,
“Ah, I see……”
LLENN finally realised that her knit cap had been sent flying by M.
‘My favourite!’, slightly angry, ‘Well, I’m glad that it didn’t hit my face’, LLENN untied the bandana wrapped around her neck, and used it to cover her head.
While moving her hands, she recalled that moment, *whew*, sight in relief, and got scared at how dangerous that was.
And then—— was proud of herself.
Of how she was able to avoid being shot from such a close distance.
This body of hers that excelled in agility was wonderful. From this point on, if she clearly saw the Bullet Lines, or muzzles, without losing her concentration, she’d be able to do such an amazing thing again.
Tying the bandana with her hands behind her back,
Obviously, she felt psyched.
“Now then, the last battle! I’m going to show them!”
LLENN encouraged herself.
From this point on, she could only rely on herself, and her weapons.
Her weapons, first of all, included her beloved gun, her P90 P-chan. She had seven magazines that she could use right away. Another in storage. 397 bullets in total remained.
On the left side of her waist, she had 2 plasma grenades. She also had a combat knife held against her back.
First-aid kits—— none.
It was mostly unclear what kind of group her opponents were. However, she was certain that there were snipers and machine gunners, and, naturally, more than one of them. Moreover, they were tough fighters that had survived till now.
“Now then, the last battle! I’m going to show them! Well, as much as I can.”
“What should I do to make the best use of my merits……?”
She began thinking as she muttered.
‘How did I fight until now? How did I survive until now? How did I kill those five people?’
‘What do my opponents think of me? And, how will they attack me?’
Stopping her train of thoughts, LLENN looked at her wristwatch.
“3 more minutes until the satellite scan……”
LLENN grasped her P90 tightly,
“Alrighty…… Let’s run!”
Kicking up the pebbles, and leaving footprints behind, she began sprinting like the wind.
Several broadcast cameras followed that gallant figure from the sky.
“It-it’s not like it’s my fault! I-I’m fine with this!”
A single man shouted in the wilderness of rocks.
“Nobody knows about how scary that woman is! That’s why I can say such a selfish thing! I’m not mistaken! What’s wrong with being scared of death!”
M continued continously saying such self-justifying lines, but there was no one there to listen to him.
Judging that there was no point to record this, there were no cameras in the surroundings either.
There was but a trail of small footprints extending to the distance in front of him.
1. ^ Seiza (正座, literally "proper sitting") is a term for a Japanese traditional way of sitting when a person kneels down with the tops of the feet flat on the floor, and sit on the soles.
2. ^ Until this point, M had been using the first person pronoun 俺 (ore), but as of this point, M begins using 僕 (boku). Both ore and boku are first person pronouns used by males to refer to themselves, though ore is more casual.