[GGOV3] SECT.13 - SHINC Running

Well, this chapter kinda answers one of the biggest questions from the previous chapters... but the implications are dire... ZEMAL actually learnt some new words... is the end of the world already upon us?

In other news, as the chapter implies, it's time for some SHINC deban, which will last for several chapters.

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. 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.

Credits

Translation: Gsimenas
Editing: Pryun, ZeHaffen




SECT.13 - SHINC Running


It was almost exactly 1 hour since SJ2 began.

As LLENN sprinted at full speed with a suppressor-equipped P90 in her right hand, she was made aware by the vibration of her wristwatch that only 30 seconds remained till 14:00.

While running, LLENN turned her head sharply in search of the closest hiding place at that moment.

"There!"

Having found a hollow so small that a normal person would probably stick out, LLENN slid into it.

Sliding atop the tender soil, she killed her speed and hid her entire body in the hollow.

Face-up, she stuck just her head out to survey her surroundings and saw the upper portion of the dome, the upper part of the hills in the hilly area, and the snowy mountains about the same distance away. There were no human figures, including that of Fukaziroh, around her.

"LLENN, it's time. You ready?"

As Fukaziroh's voice reached her ears,

"I'm fine. I've hid. We're going according to plan!"

LLENN gave her a reply. Then,

"We're going according to plan."

Repeated the same thing again.



The sixth scan at exactly 14:00,

"Uho! We survived for an hour!"

"Yippie!"

"Bravooo!"

"Aww yeah! Aww yeah!"

"We really can do it if we try!"

Was met with joy-filled shouts from the five members of the Zen-Nihon Machine Gun Lovers.

They had barely moved from the hills they started at. They learnt a lesson from their first battle.That 'there is no need to abandon an advantageous position.'

During the past hour, they lay close to the ground atop the summit of a hill with a good view and, upon spotting an approaching enemy team as they surveyed the area, pulled back a bit,

"Not yet, not yet……"

Somehow resisted their impulses using what little fortitude they had,

"Just a bit more…… Just a bit more……"

And, after waiting for the enemy to cross the hill, enter their range, and descend the hill a bit,

"Now! Fireeee!"

"Uhhyoh!" "Yahoh!" "Douryaaaaa!"

They suddenly leaned forward and launched a long-range machine gun attack from an advantageous position.

Unlike sniper rifles, the precision of machine guns was not that high, thus they required a considerable number of bullets to wipe out the enemy.

However, as far as bullets and, incidentally, spare gun barrels in preparation for overheating and abrasion were concerned, these guys had plenty of them stockpiled. Because they knew very well that machine guns without bullets or spare barrels were useless.

Shoot, bring down an enemy team, then wait, shoot, and bring down another one - that was how they passed an hour. The defeat of three teams was their result, incomparable to that of the previous tournament.

And now was the time of the sixth scan.

It was, once again, an excessively slow one from the north.

All of them, lying on all fours in the confined space of hill's summit as before, stared at the screens of their terminals while keeping watch on their surroundings and confirmed their own position.

Their current position was the northern outskirts of the hilly area. Behind them stood a 60 metre-high rampart, thus it was impossible to advance beyond this point. Naturally, there was no chance of enemies coming from there, thus they thought that it was safe to guard only three directions.

Then, as they looked at the screen for the location of the closest team──

"Huh? What the……is this thing right?"

Further to their north was the tag of another team. Upon this being touched, the name T-S appeared.

In many ways… this was impossible.

"I think the scan is broken."

"Yeah. That's definitely impossible."

There were two reasons for this conclusion.

The first.

Was the fact that a rampart stood to their north and the 150 metres of land leading to it consisted of a gently descending slope that was completely visible to them.

If someone had approached the location indicated by the scan, it was impossible for them not to have been spotted unless they were invisible.

The second.

This team named T-S had been at the north-western tip of the map, in other words, the town, at the time of the last scan. There was at least 5 km distance between the two locations. 'They were able to leave town and run across the land at an average speed of 30 km per hour without being seen?' Impossible.

"What the heck! A system error should be totally impossible during a tournament, right? That's anticlimactic!"

The shocked minimi user said, then the M60E3 user,

"Seeing as the server computer is just a machine, it's not flawless, y'know. Even a machine gun breaks down if you don't show your love for it properly, right? That's why even IRL I sleep embracing my M60E3 air gun. I also place it on a nearby chair during meals and talk to it, and we watch movies on the sofa together."

Said a considerably crazy thing without any hesitation.

"I see!" "You're right." "Well put." "Way to go."

And yet all of them nodded in agreement; that's the kind of team they were.

"The other survivors are── MMTM is to the north of the dome, huh. About 2 km from here. They left the dome and are heading here. Our next contact will most definitely be with these guys. The others… too far."

The M240B user reported the results of the scan,

"The veterans that took third place last time, huh…… Can we really win?"

And an anxious remark slipped out from the man holding the Israeli-made machine gunNegev》.

"No worries!"

The one who replied full of confidence was the prone FN MAG user.

"We did our research by watching videos of the previous tournament, right? The HK21 machine gun is scary, but that's all they have as far as 7 mm class guns go. The others all use 5.56 mm assault rifles. In this open terrain, our firepower is overwhelmingly superior!"

'Yeah!', said the impressed comrades as he faced them and continued his speech.

"We'll defend this place to the last and become the victors! Come at us with arrows or guns or whatever you've got!"

The moment he shouted this, red hit effects began shining throughout his body: his back, legs, shoulders, and head,

"Hebobe?"

After uttering a word not listed in the Japanese dictionary, the man died.


The other four… did not have the time to consider the cause.

Being similarly shot in the back numerous times, their hit points decreased quickly and they died one after another,

"Huh? Hey──. Wha──"

The last of them, the Negev user, was kicked out of SJ2 in just 20 seconds.

The Zen-Nihon Machine Gun Lovers were thus wiped out.

As the scan was still underway, the members of other teams were able to see the moment their white marker turned gray.



"Haah? Those machine gun bastards just vanished."

A member of MMTM watching the 14:00 scan exclaimed in shock.

The team was looking at the terminal screen while keeping watch on their surroundings at the entrance to the hilly area where the slopes began.

North of the hilly area, a team named T-S were in close range, and had undoubtedly been responsible for doing them in.

"What kind of blockhead do you have to be to not notice an enemy right behind you…… And yet I thought that we'd be taking them on next, seeing as they managed to survive this long."

"Before we get to whether they noticed, wouldn't it be weird for them not to have started fighting before the scan when they were so close? Did they settle it just now?

"Could it be……that they were betrayed when they met up to conspire?"

The members exchanged plausible guesses and predictions, but,

"No, that's not it."

The leader, holding his STM-556 in one hand, realised the trick.



"Aww."

The spectators in the bar had long since known that trick.

Because they had seen the entire scene of the battle── or more like a one-sided slaughter, between T-S and ZEMAL.

There were no errors or other problems in Squad Jam's system. The six people of T-S really were 150 metres to the north of ZEMAL.

However, none of the five members of ZEMAL had realised a very important detail. That 〝the scan doesn't distinguish between different altitudes〟.

The screen in the bar showed the cameras overlooking a scene from an unprecedented height. They were streaming from a point even higher than the rampart itself.

At the top of the rampart was a passage approximately 5 metres-wide. This passage had a concrete path and, to prevent falls, an approximately 1 metre-high wall on both sides.

And there were six men with only their gun barrels sticking out from the wall who had fired at a target 150 metres away, and 60 metres down.

These men were soldiers of an SF world.

They had dull-gray protectors made from unknown materials covering their bodies, which did not leave even a single centimetre of their skin exposed. They were wearing full armour not only on their torsos, but also from their thighs to their shins, excluding the mobile parts.

Additionally, there were shields equipped on their weaponless left arms (for left-handed members - their right arms). Rectangular, bullet-proof plates were placed on their upper arms. When holding a gun normally, they would cover the part of the body where the user's heart was located.

Naturally, they were wearing spacesuit-like helmets. There was a sturdy guard even covering their cheeks and they were wearing goggles, thus their faces could not be seen at all. All in all, they were wearing an almost perfect soldier-of-the-future outfit that was feasible in GGO.

Perhaps to help distinguish them by means other than physique, they all had numbers ranging from "001" to "006" written in a scrupulous font on the back of their helmets and on their left arm shields.

The matching team emblems on the backs of their helmets each depicted an orca rising out of the water, baring its sharp fangs.

They usually carried optical guns, but just this once they were using live-ammunition guns. However, they still picked guns that looked as sci-fi as possible.

The machine gun user was wielding a 5.56 mm HK 《GR9》 machine gun. The gun, as well as the scope that came with it, had unique traits featuring a curvy, glistening design.

The other four were carrying 《Steyr AUGs》 and 《SAR21s》.

These 2 guns were both 《bullpupassault rifles. The term bullpup refers to a design where the magazine is located behind the grip. This allowed the gun to have a shorter length than ordinary guns, but empty shells would be launched out right beside the face when held at the shoulder, thus the downside of this design was that the gun could not be fired from the left.

Additionally, there was a member carrying an HK 《XM8》 assault rifle that never went beyond the prototype stage. This gun also looked curvy and bulky from the side, as if it were the silhouette of a fish.


Although their SF outfits were perfectly coordinated──

That did not mean that their respective character abilities and team coordination were all that good.

In fact, they were one of the teams that competed and lost against another nameless team in the preliminaries, but arepechage was enacted. Although they were heavily armoured and thus had high defence, it came at the price of 〝low mobility〟.

However, right after the start of the game, one of the six pointed to the rampart,

"Hey! By any chance…… could there be a way to climb that thing somewhere?"

And said this, thus altering their fate.

"Looking at the field map, the rampart does indeed barely fall within the boundary……"

"Since we've got nothing to worry about for the first 10 minutes and nothing to lose, how's about looking for a spot where we can climb it?"

"Aight!"

After this conversation, the men examined the area while hugging the wall, until,

"There it is……"

They found… a hidden door.

While prodding all around, one of them witnessed the concrete-like wall opening up. It was set such that it was completely unnoticeable from further away, but had faint gaps that could be noticed when straining one's eyes up-close. It seemed that similar entrances were set up every 100 metres.

Entering inside, they found a faintly lit room with a spiral staircase leading upwards.

'Since we've got this far, we have to see how high we can get', was their thought as they climbed, and what they found was the top of the rampart. A 60 metre-high place with a very good view.

"A peerless view, a peerless view!"

Beside the man, who was acting as Ishikawa Gouemon(1) as he overlooked the dome, fields, and town,

"What the heck! The game designers are slacking off!"

His teammate, who was observing the opposite side, said in shock.

'You're right', 'That's terrible', the others agreed. After all, the exterior of the special field consisted solely of a blank space the colour of clouds, stretching out from top to bottom.

In other words, since none of the players participating in SJ2 would see it, no computer graphics were made for it.

'In that case, why were we able to climb up the rampart?'

'Was there no mutual understanding between the designer who created the stairs and the chief designer?'

'No, there probably was, but they didn't think that there would be any idiots to climb it!'

'No, they made this surreal scenery so that only the people who climb up here could see it!'

Thus, their discussion unrelated to SJ2 heated up.

Setting that aside──

"Oi! We don't have time to keep fooling around!"

Coming to their senses that the time of the first scan was upon them, they became concerned. It was nice that they could climb up, but what would they do now?

If they were on top, they could unilaterally shoot whatever was below them, but that only applied if the enemy was within the 400 metre effective range. Would there constantly be enemies in such a convenient place?

The group was split between those thinking that it would be best to go down immediately and fight regularly in the field, and those thinking that, seeing as they had already climbed up, they should use the top of the rampart to escape while shooting any enemies they could from above, until the number of teams decreased to some extent.

The 〝let's go down〟 faction argued that it would be hard to navigate atop the rampart due to the distance involved. At that moment, the 〝let's advance〟 faction noticed something.

That something was items they saw from afar. Using their binoculars, they confirmed that those were, surprisingly, six bikes. They were courteously left behind to allow quick movement around the rampart. Due to this, the 〝let's go down〟 faction gave in.

Thus, they chose to move from place to place atop the rampart as their battle strategy.

The scene of the men clad in SF outfits, carrying stylish guns and riding atop the tall rampart on bikes as if they were being sold there, was a surreal sight.

They continued cycling atop the rampart with a superb view with no real chance to shoot anyone for a while, until they encountered the first enemy that was within their effective range, the Zen-Nihon Machine Gun Lovers.

The moment when they claimed their first victory with a unilateral attack was exactly 1 hour after the start of the tournament.



"Those guys came to them atop the rampart. Since they were in the north-western corner 10 minutes ago, they probably have some method of quick transportation. Those machine gun guys didn't notice this and were flanked from behind."

Said the MMTM leader, and his comrades responded saying 'I see'.

Jake, the HK21 user,

"So, isn't it a pain in the ass for us if they took up position there? If they're lying down, we can't get them from below, y'know?"

Asked a natural question.

And the leader,

"That's why we're attacking from above."

Tapped the grenade launcher on his beloved gun.

*     *     *

Turning the clocks back a bit; at exactly 14:00.

"Scan check, begin!"

Hiding in the hollow, LLENN kept her eyes on the screen of her terminal.

In other places──

Fukaziroh, Boss and co., Pitohui and co., and all the other survivors gazed at the sixth scan.

As did the spectators in the bar.


The slow scan that began from the north──

First displayed T-S and ZEMAL, and informed everyone of the latter's wipeout.

This state of affairs was also displayed on the screens in the bar,

"Awww."

"What a shame……"

"And they were doing so well."

And people let out remarks mourning the Zen-Nihon Machine Gun Lovers, who had been fighting relatively hard thus far.

On the screen displaying the map, the results of the scan continued to appear.

SJ2 was finally approaching the endgame. The teams that had survived until now were either truly powerful, blessed with luck, or both.

After this scan, each team would probably come at the nearest team proactively, and at full force. Since there was no longer any reason to wait.

The battles would probably increase in intensity and most likely end within the next 30 minutes or so, at around the time that the previous tournament ended.

Knowing that, the spectators observed the scan result nearly as closely as the characters actually fighting in order to fully grasp where the surviving teams were.

As the scan went on southward, the veteran MMTM was shown to be located in the vicinity of the hills, about 2 km to the south of T-S.

Since there were no battles going on, the screen displayed them, with their leader tapping the grenade launcher on his STM-556 while smiling refreshingly.

"Those SF guys are in MMTM's sights."

"Will the skilled or the ones on top prevail……"

As the spectators shared their thoughts, the next to emerge on the scan was the position of LLENN's group, LF. They were about 2 km to the north-east (upper-right) of the dome.

The screen displayed a scene of the pink chibi hiding in a hollow and looking at her satelite scan terminal.

"Hmm…… She sure went far to the north-east after leaving the dome….. Does that mean she's trying to avoid running into PM4?"

Someone voiced a question, but, naturally, there was no one who could answer it. As the camera slowly pulled back, LLENN's body continued to shrink.

The surroundings consisted solely of moist soil without grass, and nobody could be seen.

"Her partner, the grenade launcher girl, is nowhere in sight... why?"

Someone voiced another question, but, of course, there was no one who could answer it.

The scan gradually went south from the top of the map, displaying a single dot about 2 km to the right, in other words, the east, of LLENN's position.

The team name is immediately shown in the scan results displayed to people in the bar, thus the four characters of KKHC were displayed. This dot was moving even now. It was running to the north-east, in other words, the snowy mountains.

Just then, a green-haired woman wearing a jacket with camouflage realistically depicting trees was displayed. She was shown at an awfully close camera angle, depicting only her back and the back of her head.

On her back was the unrefined silhouette of a black rifle.

"Ooh! So the woman who survived moments ago hasn't resigned yet!"

"A Blaser R93 Tactical 2; yet another elegant gun she's using."

"Good luck! Get your magnificent revenge!"

With the murder of the majority of her team still fresh in their minds, the spectators were hyped up.

"Though, what's she gonna do by herself……?"

"Indeed…… Moreover, isn't she running in the opposite direction?"

Yet they had such natural questions.

They could not see what was at her feet, but they could tell from the direction of the scenery change. She was currently advancing determinedly towards the top of the snowy mountains, in other words, the direction away from the other teams.

"Her strategy is to run and hide till there's only one team left. And then snipe them to death from the top of the mountain."

"I see…… That's all you can do when you're all alone, I guess."

The scan proceeded south, displaying the position of PM4; the four masked men led by M, and that dangerous woman. They were about 2 km away to the east (right) of the dome. Map-wise, they were around where the valley between the southern and northern mountains began. They were at least 3 km away from LLENN's position.

The visual changed entirely, now displaying six people from the sky.

Short grass grew on the ground. In the field, excluding the interior of the dome, it was the area with the most abundant greenery. It was a spot reminiscent of a nature park, dotted with streams and marshes. If it weren't for the reddish, leaden sky, it would probably have looked very beautiful.

In the midst of the greenery, there was but one building.

It was a full two-storey, 8 metre-tall log house that had a 50 metre frontage.

Although it was not really possible to make a gigantic building out of a log house constructed by assembling logs, this house was quite huge.

The building had a rather stylish appearance, reminiscent of a plateau hotel.

The four masked men were about 300 metres away from the log house.

They were lying beside plants, 10 metres apart, ready to fire their beloved guns at any time as they kept watch on the area.

The small man with the strange-looking UTS-15 shotgun was peeking through his large binoculars.

The tall and thin man acting as the carrier was to the left of the large man armed with an MG3 machine gun, and was entrusted with assisting in loading the ammunition connected to the belt link.

In the middle of the group, M was looking at the terminal in a half-rising posture.

The M107A1 anti-materiel rifle with suppressor that displayed its power some time ago was placed in front of him, in line with his M14 EBR. His posture allowed him to take either gun in hand as needed.

All five of them were wearing camouflage, thus, in the midst of the greenery, it was nigh impossible to spot them.

As for that woman──

She was in her post-transformation, fully equipped state with her prized KTR-09 in hand, facing the opposite direction, behind M, and was, of course, hugging the ground atop the grass. In front of her lay M's backpack with the bulletproof shield.

The woman's right hand was grasping the grip; her index finger was extended, but it was away from the safety device and selector, which was set to full auto.

At her stern expression in a state of complete battle readiness,

"Oh? I figured that Onee-san would be more cocky…… how unexpected."

This remark could be heard in the bar, and a rebuttal came at once.

"She knows that the surviving teams are all formidable. Negligence is naturally a taboo. In this game, even a single stray bullet can kill you."

"I see. A soldier is always alert, huh."

There were six surviving teams, thus the last to be displayed was SHINC's position.

They were in the fields to the south-east of the dome.

They were a little less than 2 km in a straight line to the southwest of M's group. The never-ending fields had a very good line-of-sight, but even an M107A1 obviously could not hit at this distance.

The screen changed to show them.

Anticipating the time of the scan, the amazons were lying on the fields in a circle and keeping watch on their surroundings.

Despite the considerably low likelihood of any enemies being further to the south or west of them based on the previous scan, it was a splendid sight to see them keeping watch in all directions nonetheless.

"It's because those amazons used a truck for high-speed travel last time. They considered the possibility of enemy teams doing that this time too."

"Stop saying that with that smug face of yours. You do know that everyone already knows that?"

"That reminds me, there haven't been any vehicles this time, huh."

"Indeed. It could be that they just haven't appeared or been found by the participants yet."

"Oh? Weren't there bikes, those eco-vehicles?"

"Can you really ride them?"

On the screen, Boss stared at her terminal in a half-rising posture.

As she literally stared at it, the wrinkles on her brow increased. At that moment, she suddenly raised her face.

Her stare was undoubtedly directed towards PM4. A space where fields with a good line-of-sight extended.

The slow scan finally ended──

And the dots of light disappeared from the map in the bar as well.

For the next 9 minutes, it would be impossible to know an opponent's position without finding out in person. How to act, or not to act, was the question in each team's mind.

The spectators in the bar had been voicing their opinions as they pleased, but all of them thought that the battle royale had reached the endgame, and everyone shared the same opinion.

That──

Using their excellent team power and the leader's grenade launcher, MMTM would effortlessly bring down T-S from their position atop the rampart.

As LLENN was running away from a battle with PM4, she would be focused on being on the move until the next scan. Their team consisted of only two people, thus they would wait for their formidable opponents to tire themselves out.

The sole member of KKHC would continue running and avoid entering battle. Like a tiger, she would wait for her chance to somehow snipe down the final team.

As it stood, SHINC and PM4 would confront each other on open ground. Being smart, they would do their best to avoid a direct battle and instead try to flank their opponents.


At that moment, the spectators had absolutely no idea.

That all of their expectations… would be shattered.


*     *     *

Right after the scan, which took a full minute, ended,

"Girls, let's do it! Everyone, get your game face on!"

While putting her terminal into the pocket on her left arm, Boss sharply called out.

"Da!"

Answered the black-haired Tohma with a knit cap, grasping her Dragunov tightly,

"Aww yeah!"

Answered the redhead, freckled Mother Courage Rosa, holding her PKM machine gun,

"Let's do it!"

Answered Sophie, the dwarfess with ammunition boxes beside her,

"Okay!"

Answered Anna, the golden-haired beauty and other Dragunov user,

"Aight!"

Answered the silver-haired, fox-faced Tanya with a Bizon in her hands; all full of determination.

Raising her silent sniper rifle Vintorez, Boss,

"Alright! Our target is PM4! 〝Plan Sweets〟, begin!"


On the screen in the bar, SHINC started to move.

While putting moderate distance between each other, the six women began fast-walking or half-running.

Their formation consisted of Rosa with her PKM machine gun in the middle, Sophie beside her, the two snipers to the left and right accordingly, Boss in the center, and Tanya watching their rear.

Knowing that their enemy was far away, they would divide into two teams, one advancing as the other kept watch… or so one would think. The six of them actually charged on as one group.

Their goal──

"Huh?"

"Oo!"

Based on the position of the dome and snowy mountains on the screen, it was, without a doubt, the place where their greatest enemy, PM4, had taken up position.

Seeing them crossing the fields, consisting merely of plains of great line-of-sight with no cover at all,

"WHA──! What are those women thinking?"

"It's as though they're saying 'please shoot me', ain't it?"

Voices filled with questions came from the spectators in the bar.

Being a little less than 2 km away from them, it did not seem like a good plan to just rush headlong at their opponents.

If they entered the range of PM4's M107A1, boasting an effective range of 1500 metres, and the range where the fangs of the Savage 110BA could reach them, it would end with them being unilaterally sniped.

"What are they doing?"

"Did they fall into despair?"

In the bar engulfed by question marks, someone realised it.

"No! The amazons don't know that PM4 has ultra-high range sniper rifles, right? If they took lessons from the previous tournament…… they should only be wary of M's M14 EBR and that shield, right?"

"Ah, that's right! We're the only one's who know that because we saw it on screen, huh."

"So, they're thinking that it's OK to recklessly close the distance to the 7.62 mm's effective range── about 800 metres!"

'I see I see', the bar was engulfed in a storm of assent, but──

Someone immediately realised.

"Like, they’re done for at any rate! They're gonna get shot!"


14:03.

"They did come."

M made a short report.

He had exposed his large build by standing up to peek through his binoculars. The direction was the south-west.

Through the perfectly circular view of the binoculars, he saw the enemy soldiers advancing towards them.

"Team SHINC── the amazons. One PKM machine gun, two Dragunov sniper rifles, a Vintorez, and Bizon. One other is… support for the machine gun? Not carrying anything. Distance approximately 1600. Also, on foot and heading straight for us."

Hearing the report from M, the fat sniper keeping watch on the opposite site while prone with his Savage 110BA at the ready,

"So they're coming, huh. No movement on the opposite site; coming over to you."

As he said this, he took his black sniper rifle into one hand and crawled on the grass. At the same time, the large man lying prone with his MG3 machine gun at the ready slowly changed the direction of his muzzle at his own position.

Continuing to keep watch on the opposite side was the small man carrying a UTS-15 shotgun and the tall carrier man. Both used binoculars, ready for an attack from the rear.

"We don't know how they'll be attacking yet, but we'll take them out from as large a distance as possible. I'll be the one to shoot with the M107A1 from my shield. I'll set up right away, but just in case, lure them in till about 1300."

At M's words,

"Eeh, what about my showtime?"

Enquired Pitohui, keeping watch on their flanks while lying beside the backpack, and M answered.

"Go down a bit and keep a watch on the rear and flanks from a hollow."

"Eeh? You won't let me fire some bullet-chans? C'mon, c'mon, c'mon."

At Pitohui's tantrum,

"We're not dealing with an easy enemy this time. You really think your sniping skills are better than mine?"

Came M's merciless answer.

"Tsk."

Pouting lightly, Pitohui shrugged right away,

"Well, guess I'll save up my energy and strength for LLENN-chan."

And, muttering this, pulled back as instructed.


The screen in the bar switched to PM4, which had begun to move.

Pitohui moved away from M's backpack to a spot that was sunken even among the flat grassland, and began keeping watch on the opposite side.

M opened the cover of that backpack,

"Here it comes! The shield!"

And took out multiple piled-up, tile-like objects. Each of them was about 50 cm-tall and 30 cm-wide.

M put his strength into expanding it, and the eight plates opened horizontally. After the links at the top and bottom were connected, it formed an approximately 50 cm-tall, 240 cm-long, fan-shaped arc wall that stood obliquely.

It was the impenetrable shield that M used from beyond the waterfall, Pitohui used when sniping the leaders at the bottom of the mountain, and that M would now use again.

"Isn't that…… unfair."

"I think you meant 〝I want one〟?"

"You could say that."

Awfully frank impressions gushed out from the spectators.


"Enemy spotted! M's shield! 1600 forward! Just to the left of the log house!"

Anna shouted sharply as she looked through her binoculars while walking at a quick pace with her Dragunov on her back,

"Everyone, don't stop! Continue charging while pretending not to have noticed that!"

Boss immediately gave instructions in response. And then,

"Anna, fill me in on the situation in as much detail as you can."

"Roger. ──M is currently expanding his shield towards us in a grassland. There's a fat man with a mask and goggles. His gun is… a black sniper rifle that I've never seen."

"He's expanding the shield?"

At Boss's question in surprise,

"No doubts about it."

Anna answered.

"I can confirm that."

The other sniper, Tohma, agreed with the report.

As Boss continued walking, her face turned grim.

"Why……? There's still 1600 metres left, so why……?"

As their leader asked herself, the vice-president of the rhythmic gymnastics club Kana── 's controlled Sophie,

"That is too early, huh, Boss."

Agreed with her and helped her think.

"Yeah…… Considering M's gun, their effective range is 800 metres. Even if they need preparations, it's weird that they're expanding it so soon……"

"Right.They could have still remained unseen by being prone, yet they gave themselves away by taking out that shield."

"In that case…… there's only one logical explanation."

Boss derived her answer through the process of elimination.

And conveyed it to her comrades.

"M's group has a gun that can hit from more than 1 km away!"


"At this point, they've noticed us as well."

The fat sniper told M. The man had mounted his Savage 110BA on a bipod at the right edge of M's shield.

Although not to the extent of M with his M107A1 at the center of the shield, he too was in a position where at least half of his body would be protected by the shield while using his gun at M's right.

M opened the caps at the front and back of his scope. With the magnification at maximum, he held his gun at the ready.

"I don't care. Hereon, we'll keep on firing unilaterally at them to dwindle their numbers. The machine gun will probably scatter bullets. If you see a Line, dodge it at once."

"Roger. But let's take them all out before that!"

"Yeah."

The eyes of the two men saw scenery magnified through the scope.

There were six women walking towards them on the other side of the field. The fat sniper read the rangefinder on his scope.

"1500 metres left."


"1500 metres."

Anna read the remaining distance.

The six SHINC members were still advancing.

"We're facing what seems to be a 12.7 mm anti-materiel rifle. We're already in range, but based on the fact they haven't fired yet, it seems that they're waiting for us to get closer for a sure hit. But they're definitely going to fire before we close in to our own firing range of 800. Whether that'll be 1000 or 1200… I have no clue."

Boss's strained voice reached the 〝six〟 of them.

"M's gonna use his Line-less shooting. Go all out!"

Boss gave them such instructions, but it was impossible to predict Line-less sniping no matter how much effort they put in. If anything, all they could do was to 〝sense his bloodlust〟.

"They're still quite a bit away, but we're going on with the 〝Anti-Shield Plan〟 as planned! Get ready for my command! Tohma, Sophie, Tanya, I'm counting on you!"

That same moment, she heard 〝Roger〟 from the three girls who were named.



"Now then, they're gonna clash, I can't wait……"

"I wonder who's gonna win?"

The spectators in the bar were excited for a long-awaited battle.

It seemed that there were no other battles in progress, thus all the cameras were focused on PM4 and SHINC from various angles.

It was strange that the anticipated MMTM vs T-S battle had not begun, but the spectators no longer cared about it, as they were currently bursting with anticipation for the frontal face-off between two veteran teams.

PM4, lying in wait in their encampment. M's M107A and another man's Savage 110BA ultra-long range sniper rifles, protected by the shield that was set up in the meadow. For support, a 7.62 mm caliber MG3 machine gun.

The amazons of SHINC, coming at them nonchalantly.

"Who's gonna win, you ask? Well, that's gonna be M's guys of course! Those women will end up being unilaterally shot down from long-distance! Same as with those leaders of that alliance! Even if they counterattack, their bullets will just be deflected by that shield!"

"Like, even if they can't see the Bullet Lines, they can dodge the sniping by moving around since they're quite a distance away, right? Because it'll take at least 2 seconds for the bullets to hit. Right now, when they know the position of their opponents, they probably won't just be done in one-sidedly.

Each side brought forth their view on the matter, but,

"Can they shoot down M, hiding behind his shield, while moving around to not get shot themselves? Even if they tried going around the side, his other mates are there, ya know? They could hold out for a while, but I think they'll all end up being shot down eventually.女"

There was no one who could counter this prediction.


"Distance 1300."

At the fat man's report,

"About time we begin."

M gave his answer.

Through their scopes, magnified to their maximum, they could clearly see the six women walking towards them on the withered fields. All that was left was to raise their sights to account for the distance, and pull their triggers.

"How's the rear?"

When M asked this,

"As far as I can see, no signs of any enemies."

An answer came from the short man peeking through his binoculars while prone. And also,

"Since I left it to you, bring them down lickety-split."

An answer from the bored Pitohui.

"Alright."

M shifted his entire focus to the round view of his scope. Without closing his left eye, he brought his focus to his dominant eye.

Six women far away. Among them were women who looked so tough that they did not even look like women, but they were women nonetheless.

He first considered which of the women, spread out and walking towards them, he should snipe first. He had to inform his comrade next to him of this to avoid shooting the same person.

The Savage 110BA-using fat man was an excellent GGO sniper, but lacked practice shooting actual guns. At this long range, he could not hit without the Bullet Circle assist.

Thus, creating the Circle and then Line at the same time as M's own first shot was the best sniping tactic in this case.

M quickly calculated in his mind. At 1200 metres, the M107A1's bullets would take about 2 seconds to hit.

After he put his finger on the trigger, it would take tenths of a second for the Bullet Circle to appear in view. If all went well, he could fire before his target was hit.

He had no idea how good the enemy's reaction speed in hitting the ground after seeing their comrades shot was, but if it were slow enough, the second target would be shot.

"Alright. I'll take the leader. The rough-looking one with braids and carrying a Vintorez. The moment I discharge, you shoot the golden-haired, sunglasses-wearing sniper on the right side."

"Golden-haired, roger."

After hearing the reply, M's eyes focused on the woman with braids.

Her mouth… was saying something.


"It's about to commence……"

Hearing Boss's soliloquy,

"I'm ready any time, y'know?"

Tanya, who was at the end of the line, answered. She had stopped keeping watch on their rear and come right next to Boss at some point.

The members of SHINC were walking with stern expressions.

These 2-3 minutes went by knowing that Bullet Lines could light up from behind the shield at any time, nay, that bullets could come roaring towards them at any time.

To her comrades, who continued walking while bearing this fear as they feigned ignorance,

"Well done. Let's do it! Don't forget the〝3〟 and 〝2〟 seconds! Charge!"

Boss shouted her order.

The order reached all 〝six〟 of them.


The six of them started moving at once.

First, Tanya, who was farthest to the back, grasped her Bizon tightly and began dashing, her silver hair swaying. Just like that, she passed everyone and became the vanguard.

"Yahhouuuuuu!"

In GGO, the full-sprint dash of a character that raised their Agility was already superhuman.

Although not on LLENN's level, Tanya was the fastest on this team. Kicking the ground at an extreme pace, she blew up dust from the dry fields. While leaving a tail of brown smoke, she charged towards her opponents.

Of course, Tanya was not the only one charging.

The other five had also begun their full-speed dashes to close the distance as fast as possible.

However, simply running in a straight line would leave them as open targets, thus they suddenly changed direction every few seconds, running in zigzag.


This situation was reflected through his scope,

"M-san!"

"Yeah, I see that. ──Shit!"

A clear curse coming from M's mouth was a rare sight.

They took the initiative a mere 2 seconds before they could be shot during their walk.

"That leader has good battle sense. ──Change of targets. I'm aiming for that short one up front. You shoot one of those in the rear as you please. machine gun, if they enter range, stop their approach. But do it with the minimum bullet count. Rear, continue your watch."

"Roger!" "Roger!" "Roger!" "Roger!" "Okie dokie."

The moment he received the replies from the others, M discharged his M107A1.

Despite the suppressor, a rather loud gunshot roared and gas expelled from the holes on the sides of the tip, shaking the surrounding grass hard enough to mow it down.


The expelled 12.7 mm bullet came at Tanya in a gentle parabola──

And with a roar, passed 30 cm to her right as she suddenly changed her trajectory.

"Uhyaa! I saw it! That was close!"

Feeling the shockwave on her cheeks, Tanya let out a shriek with a smile.

"If that had hit me, I would have become even more of a runt!"


"It’s started!"

"She dodged!"

The spectators in the bar were so hyped that they were very close to crushing their glasses.

On one screen, the scene of M discharging from behind his shield──

On the other screen, the short body of Tanya, who barely dodged, was displayed.

"A little over 1000 metres left, I guess? Now, I wonder how far they can close in while dodging?"


"Why you……"

The fat Savage 110BA user gradually moved his gun while prone.

Through his scope, he saw women running in zigzag in intervals of 3 seconds. Although there was no need to move his gun by large angles yet, as the enemies were still quite far away, it was still rather hard to lock on.

His finger was on the trigger, thus the Bullet Circle was displayed, and all he had to do was to use it to move it to the place where the woman would be when the bullet reached her, but,

"Tsk!"

She could see the red Bullet Line, thus, naturally, she could dodge it.

Nonetheless, he had to prevent the enemy from closing in. Even if he missed, it would be enough to impede their assault.

With a thunderous roar, the Savage 110BA spouted fire.

The 338 Lapua Magnum bullet flew with multiple shockwaves──


"Whoa!"

And passed right in front of Tohma as she suddenly stopped after seeing the Line.

Holding her Dragunov in both hands, she dodged,

"I'm not done yet!"

And, without shooting, immediately continued charging at the enemy.

They had been practicing the methodology of charging towards an enemy sniper in an open field. Using real bullets; actually shooting at their friends.

And what they grasped from that,

『If you go in the same direction for 3 seconds, you're shot. If you stop for 2 seconds, you're shot.』

Was this iron rule.

"One and two and three."

Tohma ran as she skillfully counted in Japanese, and then abruptly changed her trajectory. This was a sharp move she had cultivated in her rhythmic gymnastics simulations.

A bullet passed where a person was no longer present.


"Craap! M-san, this is really tough. Those guys sure are nimble."

Hearing the fat man's complaints while operating the bolt handle to load the next bullet, and having fired his third bullet at Tanya, M,

"Seems so."

Had no objections. And so,

"Change of plans. We're switching up our individual shooting. You restrain them with your Line and I'll bring them down when they stop."

He instructed without delay.

This was the technique they used to bring down those leaders minutes ago. At that time, shooting with the M107A1 was,

"Let me shoot let me shoot let me shoot bullets if you don't I'll shoot, y'know?"

Pitohui, now throwing such a tantrum.

The fat man,

"Roger! Then, I'll start with the blonde!"

Said this, and locked on to the golden-haired beauty running at the forefront.


"About 900 left! Just a bit more!"

Boss appealed while running.

Continuing to run without a moment to rest and continuing to change one's trajectory all the time were considerably taxing on the mind, but they would be shot if they stopped. If they were shot by an anti-material rifle, it would lead to instant death.

Just a bit more; if they could not reach the 800 metre mark, they could not retaliate.

870 left…… 860 left……

As the six ran, a Line came at Anna, running farthest to the left of the group. Boss, running behind her, saw the Line, and how Anna dodged it.

Then how a bullet came, as the Line disappeared, and pierced the ground with no one there──

"Hahah!"

And at the same time, Anna, who had dodged it, gave a smile.

The next moment──

The body with that smile was blown away and disappeared from view.


"Shit!"

Boss's swear,

"Well done!"

The fat man's cheer,

"She's done for!"

And the shouts from the spectators in the bar were practically synchronised.


While running, Boss moved her eyes to the left corner of her view, at the edge of which she saw the hit point gauge of her teammates. The one for Anna decreased until it eventually reached zero.

"Cra! Anna's dead!"

Unable to even check on the corpse, Boss── and the other four continued their run. While leaping to the left and right.

Right afterwards,

"We're ready! Let's do it! Anna bought us time!"

Hearing Tohma, Boss made a split-second decision. She gave a short command.

"Alright! Do it!"

As 850 metres remained, the five began their plan.


"Who's next?"

The fat man, who succeeded in restraining the golden-haired sniper with his Bullet Line and saw M take her down, said in anticipation as he inserted a new magazine into his gun.

"Next── no…… wait."

M's dubious voice responded.

The fat man also saw it.

When the women, who had been desperately closing the distance just moments ago and were prepared to die to do it, seemed ready to come to a sudden stop, they dropped to the ground forcefully.

Despite focusing on the eye looking through the scope, somehow, all he could see atop the horizon line was the tip of a hat.

It was dubious whether he would be able to successfully snipe them, and they could easily dodge it by just spotting the Line and rolling sideways.

"Distance, 855 metres."

The large MG3 machine gun user reported the data from his binocular's rangefinder.

"Why……?"

The fat man muttered.

'855 metres should still be further than the effective range of their weapons.'

'They could've just advanced a bit further, so why did they come to a sudden stop?'

'Because one of them died?'

No, if one death was enough to stop their charge, they would have probably done so from the start. At this point, they should have continued breaking through even if it meant more casualties.

"M-san, I cannot comprehend their intention."

The fat man told M frankly, as it went beyond his understanding. The fact that he did not lie by saying 'I get it' to show off was the nature of an excellent player.

"I don't get it either. But don't let your guard down."

M also admitted honestly.


Even in the bar, suddenly,

"Why'd they stop? Shouldn't they have continued charging, ignoring several casualties?"

A voice from a spectator broke out.


The only ones who knew the answer,

"Alright! Do it!"

Were Boss, who gave this order, and the other women of SHINC.

The short and stout dwarfess Sophie,

"I'm going for it!"

Waved her left hand in the air while lying face-down on the ground.

An item window that only she could see appeared in front of her, then she quickly chose the item to materialise, and pressed the OK button right away.

During that time, crawling behind Sophie was the black-haired sniper Tohma. As she crawled forward, her Dragunov got stuck in the dirt, thus she left it beside her.

"I'm here!"

The moment Tohma notified Sophie, particles of light gathered between them, and something began to materialise.

And then,

"Everyone! I'm counting on you!"

Sophie shouted with a smile and stood up on the spot.


"Aah?" "Haah?"

'What is she thinking, standing up in the line of sight of the enemy sniper?'

In the bar, everyone had the same doubt──


"Haah?"

In the battlefield too, the fat enemy sniper himself was, likewise, utterly stumped.

The dwarfess who stood up was but a mere target. Just when he thought that she was about to break into a dash, and prepared for it,

"Haaaah?"

The woman flumped to the ground. Sitting down cross-legged, the large woman looked at them with a broad grin.

And then, the woman extended the fingers of her large arms and thrust them into the ground. Just as he thought she was planning to dig, she stopped with her hands pierced through the ground.

"……M-san? What is that? What is that woman trying to achieve?"

As the turn of events still eluded his understanding like before, nay, even more than before, the fat man turned to his leader for help.

"I have no clue at all, but…… I'll just shoot her."

Said M as he aligned the M107A1's scope on the dwarfess; at that moment──

Something even more unbelievable occurred.

A hit effect appeared on the grinning dwarfess's head. With the left side of her head shining red and polygon fragments scattering from it, the large head on her large neck inclined to the right just a bit.

After 3-4 seconds of her hit points decreasing, a 【Dead】marker lit up above the woman. Announcing her instant death. The sitting dwarfess turned into a sitting corpse.

"Wha──"

M, who was about to touch the trigger of his M107A1 with his finger, stopped.

He understood that the instant death was the result of her being shot in the head.

But who was the one who shot her?

Her head was shot to the right side from his perspective and to the left from hers, but it did not seem that there was any other team in that direction.

Nevertheless, M moved his M107A1 to the right to solve the mystery, and there he found the answer.

She dropped to the ground right away, so he could not shoot, but the scene he saw through his scope burned clearly into M's eyes.

The scene of the enemy team's Boss aiming her Vintorez at her comrade.




Notes

1. ^ A Japanese outlaw hero who was like the Japanese equivalent of Robin Hood. He is frequently depicted in popular culture and Kabuki drama. The dialogue line is a quote from a scene in one such Kabuki play.

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