“Why? Why is this happening?! This is too much―”
In this town, old-fashioned buildings like churches and temples stood alongside modern skyscrapers. The sight of happy tourists sightseeing, churchgoers attending morning worship, and people joyfully going about their daily activities gave off the most peaceful feeling.
The blinding flash of a brilliant beam coupled with a jarring, concussive blast transformed this idyllic scene into a bloody, nightmarish hell.
Nor was it over. The beam heedlessly, ceaselessly raked the area over, and explosive sounds continued without interruption.
The innards of the buildings in the area were exposed. They hardly had a chance to serve their intended purpose; construction had only just recently finished. Now that work was wasted; they were practically unrecognizable in their current state, all hint of their original forms was but a memory.
Those were the lucky ones. The majority of buildings had been reduced to a state worse than rubble—swirling whirlwinds of dust which collected on the fallen ruins of their brethren.
Explosion followed explosion, never pausing.
“Wh-What?! Wh-What’s going on?! What the hell is going on?!” a boy screamed, crouching slightly.
What’s happening to this town?! I don’t understand!
Nor was he alone in his ignorance and incomprehension; all around people pondered the same questions. ‘Is it terrorists? An accident? Or maybe―’ their terrified imaginations filling in the blanks. Screaming, panicking, and running to and fro, the townspeople sought salvation.
An explosion rocked the area the boy was in.
A gust of air, displaced by the impact of the blast, struck the boy, sending him flying.
Why?! Why is this…?!
But seconds later, the boy, struggling to rise to his feet amidst the fallen rubble, caught sight of huge monsters covered in shining, yellow patterns.
“No way, are they―”
A memory rose; unbidden in his mind. Three years ago, along with a number of tiny meteorites from some distant corner of the universe, a mysterious, heterogeneous life-form had made their way to Earth—the ‘Savage’.
Utterly unlike humanity in that their skin was tough as steel and covered in shining, yellow patterns, they nevertheless possessed the ability to communicate with one another. They boasted long antennae, sharp, glaring eyes, blade-like talons on their feet, and enormous, pincered limbs in place of hands—bearing overall, a strange resemblance to insects. The monsters before his eyes were none other than these selfsame Savage.
Because of the Savage, humanity had finally reconciled, and the UN had formed an alliance. In cooperation with the PMCs of the world, they had ‘annihilated’ the Savage in the Antarctic.
――So, how could they possibly be here?
His body trembled in fear.
He’d heard many times from many people—his teachers, his parents, everyone, really—of the terror and dread of the Savage.
It was truly terrifying. Fear was the only possible response. His legs threatened to give way at any moment.
Nevertheless, he shook off his fear, and began to run.
He had, after all, made a most important promise.
He needed to go there.
He finally arrived at the park located at the heart of the town.
It had always been a lively and crowded place; today, it was empty. More than likely, everyone had fled to safety in the wake of the Savage attack. Silence now reigned here.
The park’s sole occupant was a beautiful girl, with silver hair and a lovely dress. There she waited on the promised bench as if nothing had happened.
She was fast asleep, breathing lightly.
The locale was more than suitable for an afternoon nap; perhaps she had dozed off?
Her sleeping visage was both serene and charming. He wanted nothing more than to sit down beside her and watch her sleep, but now was not the time for such things.
The boy raced to the girl’s side, shook her body, and called out to her.
“Ah, you finally made it…”
The girl stirred, smiling gently. She quickly sensed something awry in the boy’s expression.
“We’ve got a huge problem! The Savage have appeared!”
Suddenly, they were enveloped in darkness: shadows. The Savage!
“We need to move!”
The boy took the perplexed girl’s hand in his own and began to run.
One airborne Savage suddenly landed immediately in front of them.
The ground quaked and water overflowed from the park’s pond.
Enemies both in front and behind.
Furthermore, these Savage were enormous—their size comparable to that of a house. Some measured three, even four meters in height.
The oppressive feeling threatened to overwhelm them.
As the boy and the girl picked themselves back up, the creature before them glared at the sight. Raising its pincers high above its head, it prepared to attack.
――We need to get out of here, now!
The boy pulled the girl’s hand, drawing her to him and kicking up dirt.
The Savage missed.
Its attack pierced through the ground instead, throwing up a violent cloud of dust. Suddenly the boy’s arm was jerked from behind.
As the grip on his hand was released, a scream filled his ears. He turned to see the girl collapsed on the ground.
Her leg had gotten caught on the rubble, and she’d tripped.
“Are you alright―?”
“Y-Yeah… I’m okay…” she answered, trying to pull herself up.
The boy noticed the head of a Savage popping up over the tops of the foliage behind them. White light began to gather there.
This is bad!
The boy knew that the Savage could fire some kind of beam from their head. The explosions ringing out until now had all been caused by this, after all.
He threw himself to the ground alongside the girl. Seconds later, the beam fired, dyeing the world in white.
A roar sounded, and the resulting shockwave kicked up fragments of rubble, clouds of dust, and other things into a vicious swirl.
The boy was blown away.
His body crashed into a piece of rubble and came to a hard stop.
The girl had also been blown away. Her body rolled and rolled until it came to rest at the feet of another Savage.
The Savage became aware of the girl’s existence, and targeted its new prey. Its pincered claws extended in length. The boy realized it was reaching out to grab the girl.
A heart-rending scream tore itself free of the boy’s throat.
He knew that humans were but prey before the Savage.
Caught in the Savage’s grip, the girl’s feet were lifted clean off the ground as her body was lifted into the air.
The girl’s body hung suspended in the air as the Savage’s mouth gaped wide.
What do I do?!
Suddenly, the sound of artillery fire could be heard. An explosion rocked the approaching Savage’s head. The line of fire could be traced to a tank belonging to the Good Morning Army. The military had come!
The girl fell out of the hands of the targeted Savage.
He raced to the side of the girl, who’d fallen atop a pile of rubble. Blood drained from his face as he caught sight of her.
She gasped painfully for air. Her dress was torn where the Savage’s pincers had cut her. The opening allowed him to see a single line of red running down her skin. The pincered hands of her attacker had scarred her lovely white skin.
“Hey, are you alright?!”
Calling out to her in vain, he received no reply. The girl continued to cry out in pain, the hazy sounds of her voice leaked from her throat.
Dark, polluted blood seeped fresh from her wound.
Shit, I’ve gotta stop the bleeding, or else…
His first priority, however, was to escape the current situation. Now that the Savage’s attention was on the army, they had forgotten about the boy and the girl. If there was a time to escape, it was now.
The boy took the girl in his arms and ran from the scene with all his might.
“Things should be alright now that we’re this far…”
The boy’s legs had given out about five minutes after leaving the Savage behind. The surrounding buildings had been left in ruin and there was nary a soul in sight.
“Sorry, this might hurt a little…”
With those words, he sat down on a large slab of concrete. He carefully laid the girl down on as smooth and flat a spot as he could find.
“Uuuh, ha… nnnaaah…”
A pained voice leaked from her mouth.
Her breathing was shallow and her forehead drenched in sweat.
“…What… What is this…?”
The boy had noticed something strange. His gaze froze on the area where had dress had torn and revealed the wound on her chest. With the wound as a focal point, the surrounding skin had darkened noticeably. It felt to him as if the darkness was even now spreading, encroaching upon her body.
Is it… some kind of poison…?
He recalled a time when he had been stung by a bee. His mother had given him the following treatment: tying off the circulation to his arm, she’d proceeded to suck the poison out with her mouth.
This time, however, the wound was on her chest; he couldn’t exactly follow the same process. He nevertheless decided that the poison, at least, must be drawn from the wound.
From the wound, he’d…
From someone else’s―― More importantly, how could he touch his lips to a girl’s body? Such a thing was well beyond his experience.
The mere thought had thrown off his breathing, sped up his heart rate, and dried out his mouth.
This was the boy’s first time experiencing such feelings. Was it really okay to do this of his own volition? He briefly entertained such thoughts before he concluded that circumstances did not allow him the luxury of inaction.
Apologizing in his mind, the boy lowered his lips to the girl’s wounded chest and began to suck.
“Nnn… fuuaa… nnn…”
Desperately, he drew the poison out with his pursed lips.
The taste of iron ran strongly in his mouth, but it was coupled with a strange, lighter taste.
He spat the darkened blood out of his mouth. It stuck firmly to the concrete.
Having cast aside his anxiety with the first go, he determined there was no need for fear. Once more he drew the blood from the girl’s body, and once more he spat it out. Twice, thrice he repeated this simple action.
“Kaha, keho… Nnn, keho…”
On the third try, the boy choked as he spat out the tainted blood he held in his mouth.
The girl in his arms smiled at him, and he smiled at her in turn, showing his relief.
Suddenly, things changed.
What’s going on? What’s…
What had been clear to his eyes mere moments prior suddenly faded into a hazy blur as his head began to spin.
Squinting didn’t fix it.
Damn it; what’s going on?!
His head grew heavy, and his body was unwilling drawn to the ground.
His consciousness slipped for a brief moment. As with his vision, his thoughts began to cloud over.
Is this… the poison…?
Despite his failing consciousness, the boy’s face yet expressed his frustration.
The Savage’s poison had been far more potent than he’d expected.
There was a silver lining in this cloud, however; the girl’s symptoms seemed to have ceased.
At least she’d make it, or so he desperately hoped.
But as for himself? The boy readied himself for death. A distant voice echoed in his ears. A hallucination, this was not.
No, it was unmistakably a man’s voice. He heard the sound of approaching footsteps.
Someone… came to help…?
In that case, not just the girl, but possibly he himself might yet be saved.
That’d be great. Just as he dared to hope for salvation――
He felt a dull sense of pain on the back of his head; his brain rattled in his skull.
A forceful impact ran throughout his body shortly thereafter.
What… was… that… just… now…?
It seemed as if he’d been struck from behind with some kind of blunt weapon.
That said, he had no way of knowing what it truly was.
…But, no… Why…?
A voice screamed his name—the voice of the girl, which slowly faded into oblivion.
The boy’s consciousness had long since faded.
Translator notes and references