Anyway, the tournament starts as of this chapter and what better way to start it than the main character beating the crud out of some random team? Poor Guy #4...
Full-width text (Ｌｉｋｅ ｔｈｉｓ) is emphasising that the original text is written using the Latin alphabet. Note that most abbreviations that are not in italics are written using the Latin alphabet as well. Italic text is Engrish (English written in katakana). Abbreviations in italics means that the Japanese version used some shorter form of an English word, but in katakana. Comic sans font is used to indicate an unusual way of writing a word (like writing English in hiragana or Japanese 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.
Any feedback is appreciated.
Editing: Pryun, ZeHaffen, Thommy
SECT.6 - Booby Trap
At exactly 13:00, they were enveloped in white light, and when they once again regained their vision,
“So this is…… a town, huh……”
LLENN found herself standing on a road in a town.
She looked around her surroundings at once. Fukaziroh was about 2 metres away, and, of course, was likewise looking around restlessly.
The start point was at least 1 km away from every other team, thus there was no possibility of a face-to-face encounter right away.
However, if their enemies had a powerful sniper that used 338 lapua magnum bullets, or an anti-materiel rifle that used 12.7 mm bullets, 1000 metres was still well within their effective range. So, if they were in a clear area, they would have had to drop to the ground immediately.
Confirming that they were surrounded by houses,
“For now, we’re safe!”
LLENN sent her instructions to Fukaziroh.
Thanks to the convenient communication item that automatically adjusted the volume, the user’s voice, be it a whisper or a shout, would reach their partners’ ears being neither too silent nor too loud.
Although the mechanisms for it were unknown, this item did not have any limit to its connectivity range and could be used to communicate anywhere within SJ, even when inside a building or underground.
After confirming the safety of their surroundings, the next step was to confirm one’s whereabouts.
LLENN’s location was a foreign town.
Most of the buildings were unfamiliar, single-storeyed, though some were two-storeyed, low-class residences, with simplistic designs and lined up emotionlessly. She had once seen such a residential area in a Hollywood movie.
The street-facing portion of each house was closed off with shutters like private stores. Further along the road were residences.
The lawns of each house were not very wide, as all the buildings were packed tightly together.
Of course, the stage was Earth after the last war, thus it was a ghost town with absolutely no signs of life.
The roofs and walls of the houses were damaged, and some of their glass windows were broken. There were several slanted utility poles with dangling cables, and the grass growing in the chasms on the rough pavement had withered.
LLENN looked up to the sky and saw that it was cloudy.
The gray, tinged slightly red by the characteristic sky of the world of GGO, was an eerie colour.
On rather clear days── under the eternal setting sun-like mad-red sky, LLENN’s pink was quite effective.
It seemed that the effectiveness of her camouflage was negligible here. She probably could not carry out an ambush.
And, this time, the wind was blowing. On the ground, it felt like a light breeze, though sometimes stronger, but the clouds in the sky were flowing and at quite a high speed. ‘Couldn’t it have been clear during the tournament’, LLENN thought.
The temperature felt in VR games could be adjusted to some extent to be able to enjoy the game in any outfit. Hence, she did not feel freezing cold, but judging by the dreary sky and withered plants, it appeared that the setting for the season was winter. It seemed like snow would start falling at any moment.
“LLENN, come over here and look!”
Doing as Fukaziroh asked, LLENN came out from the side of a house,
There was an unfamiliar object there.
Several hundred metres away from her position, she could see a towering rampart through the house roofs and openings.
It was around the height of a twenty-storey building, perhaps a little over 60 metres. She could not tell its width from her position.
It was cold gray, probably made out of concrete. Height-wise, the buildings in Tokyo were far taller, but the fact that the wall stretched out endlessly to both sides gave it a considerably intimidating aura.
“It looks like a dam.”
“I see, so there’s water on the other side? We’d drown if it broke, huh.”
And Fukaziroh shared her impression.
Imagining a muddy stream descending on her mercilessly, LLENN said,
“Fuka…… don’t shoot grenades at that, okay.”
“Okay. But, I could knock it down with 1 punch, ya know?”
The rampart stretched straight ahead, then turned ninety degrees, and ran straight ahead again. The rest of it was blurry, so she could not make it out. It seemed to continue on for quite some distance.
The slightly strange thing was the design of the rampart. With the bend as the boundary, the left side consisted of vertical stripes. Conversely, the concrete on the right side was patterned with horizontal stripes.
“I get it…… that’s the field boundary.”
Both the BoB and SJ used special, 10-km-in-every-direction sized fields, and the management had put in great effort to mark the boundaries.
For example, during the third BoB, the field was an island. In the previous SJ, mysterious chasms and mountains restricted the players’ movements.
“I see. So, absolutely no one could possibly cross that, huh. The people of this world can’t fly, huh.”
Fukaziroh understood as well.
“The rampart probably encloses the field into a square, I think. And that’s one of its corners.”
“So…… we are at a corner of the map, huh. But, which one?”
All the maps in GGO so far had been set in the northern hemisphere, and this area was probably not an exception.
Knowing that it was currently 13:00, it would be possible to make a general assumption as to which directions were east, west, south and north by looking at the sun, but the thick clouds obstructed it.
‘Based on the angle, could it be the northeast of the map? Or southeast? Or the opposite?’
“I’ll confirm that now.”
LLENN took out a satellite scan terminal from her breast pocket, and pressed on one of the two switches.
Instantly, a map, with the terrain and structures reproduced as three-dimensional images, rose in front of them.
The special field for this tournament really was a space surrounded by a square rampart.
Assuming that the top was north according to the rules of maps──
First, about 3 km-wide on the left side was a town. Mapwise, the town was vertically spacious as it continued from north to south.
The road, at times wide, at times narrow, systematically extended in all directions, dividing the town into a grid-shape. The town looked like Karen and Miyu’s hometown.
A railway ran from south to north roughly at the centre of the town. Slightly to the north of the central part of the town was a small station with two roofless platforms.
There was a rather spacious rotary in front of the station, but there was not a single multi-storeyed building there. Pretty much all of the buildings were single-storeyed.
Compared to the town from the previous tournament which was dotted with skyscraper ruins extending to the sky like a comb, this town felt quite different. It seems this town did not really get to prosper.
“GGO has vehicles, right? Can we ride the choo-choo train?”
Fukaziroh asked this question, not quite making it clear whether she was joking or being serious.
The previous SJ had trucks and hovercrafts, thus it wasn’t wrong to assume that there would be some this time as well, but LLENN did not know how to operate railroad vehicles.
Even if she did,
“So, where do we go?”
“To a bigger town….. Yeah, let’s go shopping for clo……”
“We can do that after we kill Pito-san.”
At a point near the very north-west of both the map and town was a single shining dot. This dot, displayed on the map for only the first minute, denoted their own positions.
SJ used an unfriendly design in that one’s own position could only be checked during the scan. This system was tough on those who had no sense of direction.
We are currently here. In other words…… We’re at the edge of the northwestern part of the map.”
LLENN pointed at the three-dimensional image as she said that. Fukaziroh nodded.
“Hoh, I see. So── that means the vertical stripes are for the western wall and the horizontal stripes are for the north wall.”
“Right. Vertical is west! You got it! Also, there’s no one further to the north or west than us!”
“Okay okay! That means the enemies are either south or east! Alrighty! Which way do we go?”
“Wait wait wait.”
She had not looked over the rest of the map well. Calming down Fukaziroh, who was full of vigour, LLENN stared at the map.
After this, battles would be severe, and they might not even have the time to look at the terminal during scan time. So, she had to grasp the general terrain while she had the time.
The centre of the northern part of the map was a lightly hilly area.
This too was a common sight in her hometown of Hokkaido, an open land with one hill extending after another.
There were no graphics of trees, thus it was probably mostly a grassland. It seemed suitable for sheep and other such animals.
And it was certainly a place offering a good field of vision.
Standing at the top of a hill, one could probably see the valley and opposite slope clearly. The opposite was also true. It was a place where it was easy to find enemies, and be found by enemies.
“An area where you really need to keep an eye out for snipers…… We should avoid going there if possible.”
“Roger. They’d hit us from several hundred metres away, right? Yeesh.”
There was no one as hated as snipers in both the real world and GGO.
They were gods of death that could unleash their one-hit-certain-kill bullets at their enemies from a faraway place where weapons used by regular soldiers or players could not reach. And also, they had the terrifying ability to not create Bullet Lines if their positions were unknown.
The experience from the previous tournament of being sniped by Tohma, a Dragunov sniper rifle user and that team’s highly skilled sniper, had indelibly ingrained fear into LLENN’s body.
And M possessed enough skill to surpass Tohma, a player like that.
‘Please let Pito-san not be here not be here not be here……”
Reciting this in her mind, LLENN looked further down.
Below the hilly area on the map, in other words, to the south,
“What’s this? LLENN, do you know?”
There was a round dome-shaped building.
“A baseball stadium, perhaps?”
“A baseball stadium, it seems.”
Fukaziroh’s and LLENN’s opinions were identical. Its appearance looked very much like the domed baseball stadium in Sapporo. However──
“But… were baseball stadiums always this big?”
As LLENN said, it was excessively oversized. The circle taking up pretty much the centre of the field was at least 2 km in diameter. Wouldn’t it be hundreds of metres high as well?
“Since it’s Earth in the future, I guess it’s okay for it to be this big? Baseball had a scale up too.”
Fukaziroh gave a completely senseless reason, but… well, deciding that it did not matter at the moment, LLENN stopped worrying.
They would not know what was inside without going there in person. Such a large area was probably not entirely closed off.
Under the dome, south from the centre of the map, the colours of greenery and soil stretched out. It seemed like a field(1) or forest that fell to ruin. It seemed mostly flat, thus it was also a place to be wary of snipers, even if the field of vision there was probably worse than that of the hilly areas.
And lastly the east side; where stretching from the north to the south, was a range of mountains.
Based on the graphics, the mountains at upper-right corner of the map, in other words, the northeast, were probably not so rugged. As they were depicted as being white, it seemed that they were gently-sloping snowy mountains. It was reminiscent of a skiing area.
“We can probably slide from here, huh. LLENN, have any tickets for the lift?”
“So we have no choice but to climb, huh……”
Fukaziroh said, probably joking like always, but LLENN seriously considered the possibility of there being skis for six hidden there. No, maybe snowmobiles.
On the other hand, the mountains in the bottom-right part of the map, in other words, the south-eastern sector, were all steep.
It seemed to be a rugged, rocky mountain range with plenty of trees, thus it was coloured in a blend of grey rocks and green trees. It probably wasn’t unclimbable, but it did seem like an area which would be difficult to navigate on foot.
A slanted highway ran from mountain to mountain, in other words, above the valley. There was a bridge about 2 km in length depicted on the map. It was a rather gigantic bridge. It might also be at least 100 metres above the valley
Judging from its appearance, it did not seem like a suspension bridge, but an arch bridge with a bow-like structure underneath. It seemed impossible to support such a bridge for 2 km without piers, but this was a future Earth, and even more importantly, it was a game.
The highway itself turned into a tunnel once it reached the mountain, but the exit could not be seen on the opposite side, thus it was probably outside the field. Naturally, this tunnel should not be traversable. There was probably a barrier around the entrance.
“This bridge is crossable. But, we should avoid it.”
LLENN said as she pointed at it,
“Gotcha. Waste of money.”
Fukaziroh answered with a serious look.
On the right side, in other words, to the east of the dome in the middle of the map, there was a valley that gradually became narrower in-between the mountains.
There was a single large building there. The details couldn’t be identified from the map, but it was a rather large building.
And its surroundings were rich in green and blue. Based on the map, it was impossible to tell why this was the only area abundant with green while its surroundings consisted of gloomy wastelands.
Additionally, there were spots of blue among the greenery of the plants. Blue was a colour that denoted water, thus it seemed to be an area dotted with brooks, marshes, and ponds.
Rivers, wetlands and other such wet areas could be traversed normally if they were shallow, but if they were deep, it was necessary to put one’s items into one’s storage and swim through it.
Moreover, ones hit points slowly but continuously decreased just by going underwater, as if all the water in this world was poisonous. Thus, the theory in GGO is to avoid touching water as much as possible.
“What could this be……? Based on the greenery and water, it looks like a park…… Could that kinda large building over there be…… a school?”
LLENN whispered her thoughts.
Having finished looking over the whole map for the time being,
LLENN raised her head.
“I can’t memorise the entirety of such complex and mysterious terrain! In ALO, we flew in the sky! There was no need for maps!”
“Don’t worry. I did.”
After her lost child-like experience in the residential area during the previous tournament, the importance of a geographical sense had sunk into LLENN more than sufficiently. She did not neglect practicing to learn maps upon seeing them in both GGO and RL.
As a result of this, she had such a grasp on the terrain that she could even dash at full speed without looking at a map and she still would not get lost.
This time, M wasn’t an ally. She had to manage on her own somehow.
If she hadn’t played GGO and SJ, she probably wouldn’t have acquired this ability. But with this, nobody could tell her that 〝women can’t read maps〟.
“Besides, we can always just look at the map itself, so no worries. Just don’t lose sight of where you currently are. If you get lost by yourself, call me without going anywhere.
LLENN looked at the wristwatch on the inner side of her left wrist, and saw the digital numerals 13:03.
The first thing they had to do was to find a place where they could safely check the first satellite scan at 13:10.
Until then, there was no need to go unreasonably far. The possibility of the team they would end up clashing with being Pitohui’s was, simply put, one out of twenty-nine. No, considering M’s prudence, the possibility should be much much lower.
‘We’d start by finding out Pitohui’s position via the first scan. If it’s close, great. If they’re right next to us, awesome. Either way, we’d go kill them with all we had. ‘
‘If they were far away, our goal would be to reach that place through any means necessary.’
‘I want to avoid making contact with other enemies as much as possible, but it would be counterproductive if this ended up coming back to bite us, thus we’ll bring down the enemies that we have to.’
“Alright! For now, let’s hide beside a large house. Follow me.”
Just like LLENN’s group, the participating players all around the field were looking for a place to safely check the first scan.
Everyone remembered well that there were two teams in the previous SJ that recklessly charged out just as the tournament started, and ended up clashing with each other.
This occurred in the northern forest that was also LLENN’s start point.
The two teams immediately engaged in battle and ended up losing half of their members, then, as a consequence of the resulting stubborn staredown between the remaining halves, they were attacked by MMTM from the side and were wiped out.
〝Make sure you don’t do anything reckless during the first 10 minutes〟── this was the established tactic in SJ.
Only a single man among the participating players realised something.
He called his mates to a halt,
“Hey! Could it be…… that we can climb that somewhere?”
Said this, and aimed for the oblique-patterned rampart.
＊ ＊ ＊
Small wristwatches on LLENN’s and Fukaziroh’s left wrists vibrated. This was the work of an alarm function that was set to go off 30 seconds before each scan.
Their current position was at the side of a house facing the large road.
LLENN was lying in the shadow of an upside down truck that had lost all of its tyres, while Fukaziroh was doing the same alongside the wall of a house about 10 metres away while keeping a lookout on the opposite side of the road.
It was a position that allowed them to easily notice anyone who nonchalantly tried to travel along it, but as could be expected, there were no such blockheaded teams.
LLENN took her eye away from the monocle that she had been using to keep a lookout on her environment, and,
“No signs of enemies here.”
“None here either. Boring.”
“Well then, look at the scan via the terminal screen. As planned, if anyone’s too close, we’re running away at full speed.”
“Roger. I only need to touch every single dot to see the names. Leave it to me. The alphabet is easy enough.”
The satellite scan was literally a surface scan from an artificial satellite.
Until the satellite flew away, surviving team leader positions would be indicated on the map as white dots, and the last position of the teams that were wiped out or had resigned would be indicated as gray dots.
The problematic part about it was that the direction the satellite would take, and the altitude of its orbit, in other words, the time until it flew away, was different each time.
If a slow scan came from the opposite side of the map, they would have the advantage of being able to find their opponents first, and vice versa. This was entirely up to luck, thus it was impossible to tell how it would work out until the scan began.
As it was necessary to confirm the opponent’s name by touching the light dot, it would probably be hectic if it was a fast scan.
LLENN and Fukaziroh turned the terminal’s switch to the on position. A map appeared on its screen.
And then, as the clock struck 13:10, the first satellite scan began.
It began from the north. It was a teasingly slow scan from the map’s top to bottom and from the left to the right. Since this was the first scan, perhaps it was slow out of concern not to make the players rush?
LLENN touched every single dot that lit up. Looking for the PM4 tag.
The dot at the top-left corner was definitely them. LF. And, there were no other dots in the near vicinity.
LLENN sighed in relief. At least there was little chance for them to be attacked during the scan.
Out of the noteworthy teams, she saw that MMTM was located in the top-right corner, in other words, the north-east. They were directly to the east on the opposite side of the map from LLENN, in the snowy mountains near the north-eastern rampart corner.
And, as the scan steadily continued south, more and more dots lit up, but no matter which she touched, it was not PM4. She could not find them.
Finally, 30 dots lit up.
‘Where are they? Where where where?’
Feeling impatient, LLENN continued touching the dots, and found SHINC in the south-western corner. Due south from their current position.
As she continued touching every single dot to the right of it,
At the last moment, she finally found PM4. Fukaziroh seemed to have found them at almost simultaneously,
“〝4 P.M.〟, found ‘em! The one farthest to the bottom-right!”
As she heard her saying this.
“Wha……. What the hell……”
It was understandable for LLENN to mutter this.
Pitohui’s team was in the south-eastern corner of the map.
In other words, the farthest place from LLENN’s team.
The moment when LLENN yelled so loudly that it felt like it would be heard throughout the field,
“What a shame. LLENN-chan’s team is the farthest away.”
Pitohui, who was sitting on one of the rocks dotting the slope, muttered carefreely.
M silently glared at the terminal.
At the same time,
“LLENN’s team is at the north-western end. At least 8 km to the north.”
Boss said with a complicated expression. The girls were on alert in a corner of the residential district.
“What do we do?”
Asked Rosa, who was a prone position with her PKM and could not see the scan as she was keeping watch over the wide road,
“Unfortunately, it seems we’ll have to go for a closer fight. For now, we’ll strike the closest team to the north-east.”
Boss instantly made the decision to postpone their match with LLENN.
At the same time,
“Looks like they intentionally scattered the favourites to the four corners of the map.”
MMTM’s leader, who had been looking at the terminal screen, realised the sponsor’s goal.
They were looking at the terminal in the shelter of the large trees sparsely growing on the gentle slope of a ski area-like snowy mountain.
A cross-patterned rampart ran along the mountain’s slope, like the Great Wall of China, behind them.
‘Is there no God or Buddha in the world of GGO? Were they all destroyed along with the beautiful blue sky during the last war? Or did they abandon a world like this and move out?’
In response to LLENN, who lamented as she looked up at the cloudy sky,
“Young lassie……, life does not just, go as ye pleases, like that.”(2)
Fukaziroh addressed her ineloquently.
“And yet ye have cometh this far, haven’t ye……? I’ve been watching, ye know? Am I wrong?”
“That’s right…… You’re right.”
‘In that case, there’s only one thing to do!’
LLENN forcibly put her feelings behind her, put away her terminal into her breast pocket, and rushed over to Fukaziroh at superhuman speed.
“Our goal is the south-east! Crush anyone who gets in the way of our charge one by one!”
LLENN and Fukaziroh ran through the town.
The closest team confirmed by the scan was about 1500 metres along the road to the south.
Luckily, it seemed that all the other teams went to the centre of the map from their starting points, thus this group was the only one on their route.
‘These guys are in the way! We’ll wipe them all out before the next scan. And then, we’re getting out of the town at once and heading for the dome!’
Although in ruins, it was still a highway. It provided the perfect footing for LLENN’s sprint.
First, LLENN ran about 200 metres in an extreme dash, then crouched behind some cover.
And then gave instructions to Fukaziroh behind her.
She lowered her MGL-140s, keeping them at her sides so they would not get in the way, and ran after LLENN.
And once she caught up, LLENN once again made an extreme dash.
If LLENN encountered an enemy along the way, she would── not attack immediately.
There was no need for that. She would lie prone, roll into the shadow of a cover, and avoid being shot.
At that moment, if LLENN had not been discovered by the enemy, they would be in the palms of her team's hands. She would quietly call over Fukaziroh, and make the first move by attacking simultaneously.
Even if they were found, it wouldn’t change anything as long as they did not get hit. She would quickly retreat, reevaluate the situation, and still make an assault with Fukaziroh.
At any rate, 〝not knowing where your opponents are〟 was the scary, and most tense part of a battle.
Of course, the same applied to the other party.
The tension felt while awaiting contact with the enemy was completely different from tension felt during a gun battle. Since one could fire their guns at the enemy during battle, it actually felt good.
To make things worse, their current location was the downtown area which offered plenty of spots to hide.
‘Could they be hiding in the shade of that house? Could it be that they were being targeted from the window of that house?’
Once one began having such doubts, there would be no end to them. And, it would result in being unable to move forward any further.
‘Hey hey where are you? I’ll find you!’
Concealing her fear with confidence, LLENN continued advancing, relying on her eyes and speed.
As time, which felt like walking on a tightrope over pincushions, continued ticking, and she had travelled about half the distance to the target, about 800 metres, it happened.
Luck was on LLENN’s side.
Just as she stopped at the corner of a crossroad to look around, and peeked around it, she found the enemy team 150 metres away.
They had taken up position at the crossroad. The four people that she could see were lying on the ground behind broken vehicles and garbage cans, with their assault rifles ready, and were trying to ambush anyone that came into the alley.
At the current moment when there were still plenty of teams remaining, such defensive behaviour was reasonable. Bringing down an enemy caught in their web rather than carelessly moving around.
Actually, if LLENN had crossed the road, she would have been discovered and attacked. Whether she would have been hit is a different question.
“Found them. Come here slowly.”
Reporting this, LLENN retreated slowly. Of course, in a posture that allowed her to immediately return fire with her P90 if she saw anything moving.
She regrouped with Fukaziroh── they kept a safe distance of 10 metres so as not to be seen by them from their ambush spot and avoid a wipe-out by grenades and full-auto rapid-fire as they gradually approached their enemies.
The time was nearly 13:16. She wanted to wipe them out before the next scan.
Not even 4 minutes remained, but it was normal for gun battles to be quick to start and quick to end, thus they would probably make it if things went according to plan.
Pointing at a one-storey house across a narrow road, LLENN,
“That house over there! Turn left at the road behind it, and you’ll find the enemy camp at the intersection of the wide road about 50 metres away.”
“Roger. Hohho~, this is exciting. The grenade fairy will beat the crud out of those ambush fairy bastards.”
LLENN heard Fukaziroh’s excited voice.
At this point, she did not need to explain the plan.
LLENN stealthily approached the target from the other side of the house, and Fukaziroh prepared to fire from a somewhat safe spot. Upon LLENN’s order, she would hit them hard with her grenades. It was a combination that they had used many times over against monsters.
It would be impossible to drastically miss the targets at this range, thus the 6 grenades fired in succession should explode in their surroundings. Taking advantage of the chaos, LLENN would snipe them with her P90, as tens of metres was a good distance for her to be sufficiently accurate.
If the number of enemies decreased, or they started running away, she would assault them and bring them down.
Of course, there was the danger of being shot by desperate opponents. If a random bullet managed to hit her brain stem or spinal cord, she could suffer instant death due to the heavy damage.
But, one could not win a gunfight by avoiding it because of the danger. It wasn’t wise to confuse recklessness and boldness, but there was no chance of winning without attacking.
“Okay, leave it to me.”
Keeping an eye on her surroundings, LLENN waited in the back for Fukaziroh to slowly approach the house and reach a firing position at the street corner. This was in consideration of the small possibility that the enemy team had split up or another team had arrived at lightning speed.
However, that was not the case,
“Just a bit more.”
Fukaziroh continued tiptoeing along the wall, and just as she was about to reach the perfect spot,
And the moment LLENN raised her head at the curious sound, a grenade exploded at Fukaziroh’s feet.
Hearing the muffled sound of an explosion,
As well as Fukaziroh’s hysteric voice, LLENN saw.
How Fukaziroh, who had been advancing along the wall, toppled backwards as if she had tripped over something.
The reason for that was obvious to LLENN.
A thin wire was stretched across the corner of the house, and if someone carelessly crossed it, it would activate a trap that rigged a small grenade to explode. It was a simple but effective technique that she herself had used time and time again during monster hunts.
The team that had taken a defensive position had of course considered the possibility of being attacked from the other side of the buildings, and thus they had set up traps close to the intersection.
Realising her mistake, LLENN cursed herself.
She had forgotten to tell Fukaziroh something that M had once told her.
To be on the lookout for grenade booby traps.
Fukaziroh, who had fallen on the ground with her backpack, was missing the legs below her shins.
A red hit effect gleamed dazzlingly below her her black tights. Due to the power of the explosion, both of her feet had been torn off.
LLENN could see the hit point gauge that belong to her, and another than belonged to her partner, in the upper-left corner of her vision.
LLENN’s was of course still in green, but Fukaziroh’s decreased with a *gūn* sound, and stopped after dropping by three quarters.
Although she had lost her legs, LLENN was impressed at Fukaziroh’s sturdiness, as she survived such a degree of damage, but she had no time to be immersed in her feelings.
LLENN went into an extreme dash to the apologising Fukaziroh.
She had two options.
One was to leave Fukaziroh, who was unable to move, behind, run away at full speed, and continue SJ2 all by herself.
The other was to do everything she could to save the girl who wielded excellent supporting firepower.
LLENN chose the latter. There was no hesitation.
In VR games, a character’s state of having their fingers or limbs torn off wasn’t a permanent status. After about 2 minutes, they would return to normal. If it wasn’t like that, it would become entirely impossible to play after losing one’s legs due to bad luck.
However, the enemy team, about 50 metres away on the other side,
“Woow! The trap sprung!”
Who cheered like that, would definitely not continue with their ambush for 2 minutes or more.
They should be taking the opportunity to come out of their encampment and head to where they had confirmed a threat, although it was possible that not every one of them would come.
Watching out for other traps, LLENN rushed over to Fukaziroh, and pulled open the door the to the entranceway of a nearby house.
Having looked inside and confirmed that there were no traps in there,
She grabbed the apologetic Fukaziroh’s backpack with her hands,
And dragged her body into the house using all her strength, while shouting. And then, she closed the door with the highest level of agility.
During that very short moment, she noticed that red markers, indicating the position of cameras that were prowling for battle to broadcast, had been overlooking them.
As the curtains were closed, it was dark in the house, and all she could confirm was that there seemed to be a kitchen and living room inside.
Even so, LLENN continued forcibly dragging Fukaziroh until they reached the centre of the room. The cameras did not follow them inside.
And several seconds later, she heard numerous footsteps. They came from outside, and there was no need to question who they belonged to.
Based on the frequency of the footsteps, there were at least three people there, though it seemed there were more.
“I’m sorry! Leave me and run away!”
Fukaziroh, sitting with her footless legs thrown out in front, said with a twisted expression, but,
“If you die.”
LLENN only gave such a reply.
“Not here! They’re not dead!”
“So they ran away?”
She could even hear the tense voices of the men while indoors. It seemed that the house was a cheap structure. Because of that, it was considerably helpful to LLENN.
“No, they should have completely fallen for the trap! There’s no way they can walk!”
She could not see them, but she understood. That the men had surrounded the house a short distance away. With their guns at the ready and aiming their weapons in the same direction as their glances.
“Did they carry their mate across the street and run away?”
“Nope, didn’t see them!”
“Like they’d have the time for that!”
“Yeah, can’t think of anything else!”
‘So they’ve realised it, huh.’
Strangely feeling calm, LLENN thought.
“They’re inside the house!”
“LLENN, go go. I’ll manage somehow.”
Fukaziroh said in a whisper, but it was probably impossible. In her current state of being unable to stand and walk, even if she said she would manage somehow, all she could do was to shoot from here.
However, grenades launched by Fukaziroh’s grenade launcher would not explode if they had not flown at least 20 metres after being fired, to prevent the shooter and his comrades from being hurt. And the inside of this house wasn’t even 10 metres long.
‘What if she shot outside?’ The glass window might be smashed, but she could not aim then.
‘Then what if she fought with her sidearm pistol?’, the odds were not zero, but they were quite low for someone who could not move.
“Fuka…… stay here. Keep your head down as much as you can.”
LLENN said, putting more force into the hand holding her P90.
“As I’ll be going to kill off the guys in the vicinity.
In response to Fukaziroh, whom she could not see as it was dark, but assumed was giving a blank stare, LLENN said,
“I’ll show them a glimpse of the strength of the champion of SJ.”
There was quite some excitement in the bar.
The situation was perfectly clear to the audience watching the broadcast.
The team that included the previous champion LLENN had been thoroughly caught in a simple booby trap, and were confined in a small house.
The cameras commanding a view of the house from the sky were relaying the desperate situation the two were in.
A single worn-out house. Surrounding it were six men that had rushed there from their ambush position.
Their weapons were 4 matching 5.56 mm 《M16A3》assault rifles.
An 《UZI》submachine gun that used 9 mm pistol bullets.
And, a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun 《Ithaca M37》.
“Oi oi, the favourite is going to lose here? No way!”
Someone shouted at the broadcast screen. He spoke on behalf of the entire audience.
The six men were about 3 metres apart from each other, and surrounded the house in a fan shape. They did not deploy any of their team to the other side. Because there was the possibility that glass- and wall-piercing bullets could hit their allies.
“Those guys aren’t dumb. Were they one of those debuting repechaged teams? It’d be such an upset victory(3) if they succeed here.”
“Battles are heartless. There’s a fundamental limit to what two people can do. If they were a six-man team, the other four would now be shooting at them.”
“So they’re done for already……”
“No, there’s no way my LLENN-chan would lose like this, don’t you think?”
“Uh huh, since when has she been yours?”
It was hard to tell whether or not the audience was tense, but on the large monitor screen in front of them──
The six men readied their guns. And completed the preparations for firing a volley.
The man who seemed like the leader and wielded the UZI, raised his left arm high. And, the moment that he swung it down, fire spouted from the six muzzles, and the gunfire resounded through the speakers,
Quelling the scream-like commotion in the audience.
How before the bullets could tear through the glass, it burst open from inside, and a pink object jumped out from it.
LLENN, who had used the entire length of the room for her approach run, used her speed to jump, and slam through the curtains. While using her P90 to protect her face.
Smashing the glass and tearing the curtain, LLENN came out to the bright outside world. And while still in the air, searched for the prey she had picked while inside,
And first targeted the man firing an UZI to her lower left.
On screen, the pink lump turned into a human figure. And then, it extended its right hand, and the pink object held in it spouted fire.
The mid-air discharge hit the head of the man who had been pounding away with his UZI held at his waist, and created numerous red hit effects.
The man’s face and head got hit by 5 5.7 mm bullets, and collapsed to the right.
He continued firing even while falling, but soon stopped as he ran out of bullets, and a 【Ｄｅａｄ】marker lit up over his body with a *pikon* sound.
Just as she landed, LLENN quickly went into a forward ukemi(4), and did not lose any of her speed. After making three rolls, she stood up, and saw a man with an M16A3 1 metre ahead who was just about to turn towards her.
‘No need for that.’
LLENN extended her right arm that held her P90, and pressed the P90’s hot muzzle into the profile of the man as he was turning.
A count had begun in the bar.
The pink chibi, no, the previous champion LLENN, was rampaging at a speed that could barely be caught by the eyes of humans.
After slaughtering the second man with her shooting that was barely different from stabbing, she immediately fixed her aim on the man in her immediate vicinity, and discharged while using the second man’s body as cover.
After about 0.5 seconds of firing, hit effects began shining from the man’s chest, face and head.
The fourth target was right behind the third one that she had just killed.
The tall man panicked as he attempted to point his long M16A3 gun barrel at her.
‘I don’t need to shoot when I’m this close, huh.’
With this thought, LLENN closed the 3 metre distance in an instant.
The players in the bar,
“Huh?” “Wha?” “Oh?”
Saw that LLENN did not shoot.
The pink chibi closed the distance so quickly that it could be called godspeed, then slid on her legs. She slipped under the man’s muzzle, and then between his legs, to the opposite side.
‘Why didn’t she shoot? Is she going to shoot now?’
The audience’s doubt was cleared up right away.
Because the M16A3 separated from its owner’s hands, and fell down.
The tall man made an expression that was similar to the one made by the person in 『Munch’s Scream』(5), however, rather than covering his ears, he covered his groin instead.
“Huh?” “Uugh” “Geh!”
The bar’s audience finally understood what had happened after the view quickly zoomed up.
Wasn’t that a bright red hit effect shining on his groin under his hands?’
And then, the camera went slightly down, and there they saw LLENN supporting herself with her P90 in her left hand, and a black knife held in a backhand grip in her right hand.
LLENN had pulled out her knife as she passed through, and using that force, she made a vertical cut.
The moment they realised what the exceedingly fast action that they could not see was,
All the men in the bar had their eyes opened wide in terror and the chills went down their spine. There were even some who covered their groins.
No matter how far GGO went, it was still a VR game, so although it had some sensations, they were all fake. Naturally, the pain was quite different from the real world equivalent.
For example, even if the player was shot, they would only feel that spot becoming numb. It was often compared to the pain felt when an acupressure point was pressed by needles or fingers.
There probably were no practitioners in either world who would tap a man’s most vital area with fingers or needles
Nobody knew what the tall man on the screen was feeling now.
There was a safety device in the AmuSphere, thus it should not be unendurably painful, but even so, it should be uncharted territory.
Based on his expression, he was probably experiencing such a sensation for the first time in his life. No, being forced to experience it.
LLENN sprung up behind the man who was pressing on his shining groin with his hands, and thrust her knife at his defenceless nape.
The knife with a 20 cm-long blade pierced through the man’s neck, and its tip peeked out on the other side.
She immediately pulled it out, and returned it behind her waist, then took the P90 that was hanging by its sling into her right hand──
Finishing all of this in a moment as if the video was on fast-forward, LLENN broke into a dash towards her next target.
After LLENN disappeared off-screen, the man collapsed forward. As he fell down like a pole, he hit his head, but he probably did not feel pain. As the 【Ｄｅａｄ】marker lit up,
Someone in the now-quiet bar somehow managed to utter this.
LLENN ran along the wall of the house. The tattered wall on the left side of her field of vision was flowing at a terrifying speed.
She could no longer see any enemies in her vicinity. Thus, they should be on the other side of the upcoming turn.
Just as she worried whether to jump out or stop──
He came to her himself.
As she saw solely the muzzle of an M16A3 sticking out of the corner of the house, LLENN
“No matter the place, don’t end up having solely your muzzle sticking out, LLENN-chan.”
Had a flashback to Pitohui’s words in her mind.
Pulling the emergency brake, LLENN extended her left hand which was not grasping her P90.
The man had gone through the trouble of readying his weapon on his left shoulder again, but sticking his muzzle out from the corner of the house was an absolute mistake. This was quite clear to the audience in the bar based on the point of view of the video.
As if being dragged into hell, his muzzle was seized, and he was pulled, breaking his posture,
“So that’s five……”
And in front of him was the muzzle of the P90.
*Barara*, dry rapid fire sounds resounded. It was impossible to tell whether the man saw that light, or closed his eyes in terror, from the screen.
Knocking down the man with a 【Ｄｅａｄ】marker who had been shot throughout his face, the pink slaughter machine jumped out.
The next moment, a heavy gunshot resounded, and several bullets bounced away from the surface of the paved road in front of the house.
The last man’s weapon was an M37 shotgun.
The bullets it used, called 《double O-buck》, were buckshots for deer hunting, and the gun could simultaneously fire 9 lead balls, each 8 mm in diameter. These, as well as large 《slugs》, were standard practice for shotguns in battles against people.
As he used buckshots, the gun scattered a group of shots, but the first group all ended up missing LLENN.
The M37-wielding man, *jakon!*, made a pumping action, shooting a shotshell downward, and loading the next round. He turned towards the pink chibi rushing away to the side and fixed his aim on her──
But the moment he shot, she was no longer there.
Having crossed the approximately 5 metre wide road in an instant, LLENN hid away in the shadow of a house on the other side. At a speed that could even be called a warp. The buckshots that were fired tore open numerous holes in the wall of the house.
Another pumping sound.
And the dry sound of a shotshell falling and rolling on the ground.
“That shotgun guy…… ain’t half bad.”
Said someone among the audience in the bar. Some people in the surrounding area nodded in agreement.
A shotgun was a considerably powerful gun at short range in both RL and GGO. The reason for that goes without saying; it was because it launched multiple shots that spread out.
A shotgun’s Bullet Circle looked like a collection of small circles that were spread out in a large circle, just like a magic square. Conversely, the Bullet Line looked like multiple lines that assailed the target simultaneously.
The damage dealt by one pellet was identical to the damage of a pistol bullet, and although they were not large, the trait of 〝hitting at almost the same time〟 was the terrifying part. A person struck by them would suffer pressure throughout their body at the same time, greatly breaking their posture.
If they continued to be struck by a rain of buckshots one after another while taken aback, it was possible that they would die without being able to make any counterattack.
The effective range of the pellets was poor; it depended on the type, but it was generally a short range of about 50 metres. However, the man was confronting LLENN at a much shorter distance.
The man’s M37 was the type that had a tube-shaped magazine below the barrel extending to the muzzle. If it was fully loaded, it should be able to fire 8 rounds. He had shot once at the house, so he had 5 left.
Furthermore, the M37 allowed rapid fire by 〝repeating the pumping action with the trigger pulled〟. In the sense of a merciless hail of bullets, it did not lose to LLENN’s P90. He still had a chance of winning.
The man probably understood that as well. That is why he continued aiming towards the place where LLENN had hidden without bothering to hide himself.
As he wielded the M37 with its stock close to his cheek, an expression of the dread and tension of a real match, as well as an expression of happiness and having fun, showed on his face.
“This is…… interesting.”
“Which is it gonna be? Which one will win?”
The several second-long frenzy that had been going on until just now had instantly turned into a quiet confrontation. The audience in the bar watched attentively, gulping down their saliva.
‘Will the pink chibi jump out, and slaughter the last member of the team?’
‘Or will this shotgun-wielder retaliate and pull off a totally unexpected result?’
1 second after another that felt painfully long passed──
As a strange sound could be heard, the angle of the man’s neck suddenly changed. And, the M37 fired towards the sky, and fell out of his right hand due to its recoil.
The man tottered, *boten*, and collapsed sideways.
At the same moment, LLENN appeared from the other side of the house, and approached the man in a half-run──
And thrust her knife violently into his nape while crouching, which turned him into a corpse. It was a carefree and light move, as if she was raising the flag on an Okosama Lunch(6).
Returning her knife to the back of her waist, and saying something, LLENN gave a smile── and the cameras changed their focus to where she smiled to.
There, through the slightly opened window on the wall, Fukaziroh’s smile and an atrocious, 40 mm in diameter muzzle peeked out.
“So…… what happened?”
As if in consideration of the audience that did not understand the circumstances, the screen showed a replay.
Footage from a different angle was shown, and everyone understood what had happened well.
Fukaziroh, who had crawled up to the window, had fired a grenade just after she silently and slowly opened the window.
The distance was merely 5 metres or so.
As it was too close, the 40 mm grenade did not explode, but the kinetic energy that was employed by the grenade’s weight knocked into the shotgun-wielder’s head diagonally from behind. The grenade fell at the man’s feet, and rolled around.
Someone’s words spoke for the audience.
Being shot by a gun or stabbed with a blade should definitely be more brutal, but, strangely, 〝being struck by something heavy〟 was what looked more painful.
LLENN went into the house, thus the scene changed to a different battle, but the excitement in the bar was focused on LLENN’s group.
“Awesome! They really are the favourites! If there was a betting pool, I definitely would’ve bet on her!”
“That partner girl of hers…… has nice guts! That was exciting!”
“That casualness of LLENN’s moves as she stabbed the guy’s neck sure was scary. Even more so when she looks like a girl!”
“You saw that! That’s the power of my LLENN-chan and her partner!”
“Yeah, that was awesome. ──But neither of them are yours.”
1. ^ In this case, the word “field” (畑) refers to a cultivated land used for agriculture. Not to be confused with the Engrish “field” (フィールド) which is used in the sense of “battlefield” or a “game map”. Since the latter is Engrish, it will be italicised in the text, while the former will not.
2. ^ Fukaziroh starts speaking like a stereotypical old man here. And she’s making intentional breaks in this sentence.
3. ^ In the original text, the expression “daikinboshi” (大金星) is used. It’s apparently a sumo term for when a rank-and-file wrestler wins against the truly great grand champion.
4. ^ Ukemi (受け身, lit. “receiving body”) is a defensive posture in martial arts to reduce fall damage.
6. ^ Okosama lunch (お子様ランチ, kid’s lunch) is a kid’s menu invented in 1930 by a chief manager of Mitsukoshi food department, Andou Tarou, that involves a nicely decorated plate of kids’ favourite foods. The plate usually has molded rice with a flag of a country thrust on top.