Part 82: Hunting Party

How do you think? People are dying out here, without accomplishing anything.

Sorry, who is this?

Of course we're dying. We're all just a bunch of grunts, except Sho. None of us... none of us know...

Is this someone I should know?

...It's fine. I don't have the right to tell them what to do. Let them do what they want.

When I die and go to hell, I'm going to smack your brother across the mouth for allowing these kinds of ideas to fester like this.

...The call went down.

Genji's gotta be rolling in his grave by this point.

No, really. Who was that?

Izumi Sakuraba. Current head of SECT11 following her brother's sacrifice during the Diet Building invasion.

Oh, so he was on the bulkhead team?

Ohhh! Was he that guy with the blue hair and the goggles?


Right, that jerk. He and Emille teamed up on me saying I'd be worse than useless if I went.

...Er, sorry?

"When I said volunteers, I didn't mean you," the brat tells me. And this Sakuraba guy, he goes, "Yeah, I don't wanna drag some scientist's carcass around after she chokes up and dies right when we get out there."

And I tried to tell him I was a whiz with these and this Black Bloom doesn't really bother me, but noooo.

And the brat says, "No, I mean that I'd be a terrible friend if I let someone like you go out like a martyr." What's that supposed to mean?!

Oh, screw you!


I thought it was weird you tried to go with us! You're seriously just trying to get yourself killed?!

What? N-No, I'm just trying to help!

I can't believe you! How do you manage to get more infuriating?!

But... but I...

If I may interrupt this conversation about Dr. Akaneno's worrying priorities, there's an electrolaser in our path.

Ugh. Fine.

There's a Dragon coming in soon here. Be careful.

Uh... I, uh—

It's fine! It's fine, I got this!

...Think she's beginning to get it out of her system?

I hope so.

You okay, kiddo?

...I just don't get how someone can be so dense. I don't get it. How can she even stand living like this?

...Well, I don't like her, but it seems to me like she can't. We just need to make sure she doesn't get killed before she figures that out.

Haha! Hahaha! Yeah! Pow! Eat it! Whoo!

It's charging its laser!


Past me I swear to god please look at the enemy data they'd take more damage from Aerial or Neutral please I swear to GOD

Hey buddy, you mind missing?

I'm not fixing her.

We do need fixing, though. Here, we've got a moment.

Just die!

Guys, it's coming in hot!

Tch. Can we defeat the laser in time?

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASP oh god I hate that. I hate that a lot.

Dr. Akaneno, please stay back for a moment.


What did he just say?!

Here it comes!

C'mon, ya big galoot! I'll blast you outta the sky!

Here. You okay?

I'm alright, yes.

Can you please just stop?

Aww, thanks, little buddy!

Owww! What the hell, that hurt!

Yes, it's almost like they're trying to kill you! Just get out of the—

Shit! Argh!

Oh that looked like it hurt.


It's alright! Dr. Akaneno, allow me to handle this!

You got it, buddy!

Having a bit of trouble?


How do you just stay standing after taking so many of these?!

I have a duty to my friends.

Ignite Mode, activate!

Koron leapt back up.

Ah, but it's always so satisfying when you manage that.

I try.

For you and I, as well, Doctor.

Now, please take out the electrolaser!

I can do you one better, pa—

Oh it's not dead


Dr. Akaneno, I asked you to please take out the electrolaser. Why did you not focus fire on the electrolaser?

Here, I've got it.

Ugh, shit. You okay, Richter?


Piece of shit!

...Whoa, that's incredible. You can just get people up like that?

Dr. Akaneno, please do exactly what I ask you to do and no more, if I ask something of you—

Alright, alright, I got it!

I wasn't done!



Uh, uh, uh, what do I do?!

Take this crystal and hurry it over to Richter so he can get up!

Uh, like that, right?

Yes, thank you.

Now, I'm sorry to ask this, but please attempt to take its next attack!

Ow ow ow


Sorry, but you haven't bit deeply enough!

Ignite Mode! Get the two of them up!

Man, this guy's something else, isn't he?

You're only just now realizing that, huh?

Dr. Akaneno, focus fire on the Dragon! We can take it down if we concentrate a burst of fire!

Okay, got it!

Once again, you fail to bite deeply enough!


And with that, we've managed a victory.

You aren't incapable if you attempt to synergize with your allies, Dr. Akaneno. In a battle, you need to ensure you're truly fighting with your teammates, not just next to them.

Oh. Uh. Yeah?

Not to say there isn't a place for intuition, of course, but we didn't get this far by simply all doing our own thing.

If you want to fight beside us on this sortie, you need to listen to the people around you.

Uh... yeah. Got it.

Alright, that should handle it. Now try not to give me any more work than I already do.

This stuff you guys do is pretty hard, huh?

Gee, you think?

Wolverines have been upgraded again to appear here. They're sturdier magically than physically, but with only 630 HP they're really not all that sturdy either way. They're fairly quick, but this team has no problem with them.

Ah, good. This will help.

Hey, so... uh, Fudoji. How long did it take you to get so good at fighting?


Huh. So you're not just a natural at it?

What, did you think I got this buff by just working at it for a month or so? No. I might have some kinda natural talent, I don't know, but I worked for a long time, and it's not like I ever just 'peaked'. That's not how working at something works.

Yeah? Uh, what about you?

I first used YUUHI when I was fifteen, and studied it for roughly a decade after until I received my position at Murakumo.

I trained in the katana from the time I was about eight years old.

I spent roughly eight years figuring out the limitations of my own powers by the time of the Dragons' arrival.

...Really? None of you just picked this stuff up? I mean... I-I donno. I just thought—

You thought everyone got to be a genius. You thought everyone had it as easy as you. That's what you thought.

I... I guess, yeah.

But people fight tooth and nail to get where they want to be. All the time. Before the Dragons and after, nobody just gets where they want to by just... deciding to do it.


Maybe I need to find something like that. Something I can work at.

That might be nice. Working at something for a change. Seems like it makes you guys happy.

But, uh, Dragons! Right! Gotta kill some Dragons!

Yeah, it's definitely out of her system by this point.

Thank god.

Heads up, we've got a digger.

Mans gets hacked and sauced into the dirt


It's a burnt Murakumo armband, yeah?

...Shit, this managed to survive here all this time?


We owe it to him to take it with us.

And you can't have it!

Oh, uh, okay.

!! Up ahead!

Will, Fred, Gary, and Lucy were locked in battle with the main railgun.

Will: This is nuts, Fred! Let's take a minute and regroup—we're just gonna lose more people this way!

Gary: Yeah, that's right, Will! This one's for Shouji and Tony! We're going in loud and proud!

Will: Can we at least come up with a plan?

Will: Hey, well—t-there's Izumi!

Fred: Without a leader, all we can do is force our way through and hope it works. So let's roll!

Fred: Hey! Over here, blockhead!

Lucy: Hah!

The railgun was engulfed in a storm of fire, both gun and psychic...

...but when the haze cleared, Lucy was on the floor, her energy spent.

Hold on! We're here!

Will: And—uh, who's the—

Damn, she doesn't look good. Neither does this guy. How much has she been doing without stopping? Her temperature's low.

Fred: Shut up, you floozy! W-we... we can still do this!

Will: Guys—

No, you shut up! Even if the rest of you weren't clearly screwed up, I'm literally Dr. Akaneno of "Akaneno's Syndrome"! This lady needs an IV and some nutrient paste or something or her body's gonna kill itself!

Fred: Every "doctor" in Japan... dress like you? W-what's your doctorate... sociology?

...It's honorary, okay? When they instated the infophysics courses in colleges, they gave me an honorary degree for my achievements in the field. My degree's honorary. I didn't actually go to college! I got the positions to do work through family connections! I'm a doctor in a field that I never formally studied in! But you know what? I know enough! Now can it, musclehead! Let's go!

I concur. Let's head back to the Diet Building.

Will: Unit 13, I'm counting on you guys.

You can. I assure you, we will keep them safe.

Will: ...You're a good guy, Richter.

You were already Dr. Akaneno when I met you for the first time. Your degree is honoris causa?

I was pretty proud of you when you went to college, y'know. Seems pretty hard.

Yeah, I suppose so.

We returned to the Diet Building, three troops in tow. Yuki and Nami were already on their way out to greet us.

Fred: Uh, haha, hey. Gonna need you to take a look at this...

Gary: Don't get so angry, lady.

Yuki: Unit 13, please leave them to us. But we're seeing more and more wounded—we can hardly keep up.

Hey, uh... you mind if I help?

Yuki: Really?

Yeah. I mean, you guys aren't specifically trained in caring for high-level psychic exertion, are you? At least a few of these goons are—look, point is, I wanna help. I know the basics of first aid, too.

Nami: Oh, that would be a huge help! You're right, we don't have any psychic specialists on call.

Yuki: Wait, why were you out there with Unit 13, Dr. Akaneno?

Hey, don't worry about it. Okay, lead the way.

Homura headed off with them to work on caring for SECT11, and we all collectively breathed a sigh of relief.

I'm so glad that's over.

Hopefully, she won't get any further ideas about heading out into combat.

Perhaps she'll take this as a learning experience?

We can only hope.

—Then, it was broken.

E-emergency call from the Medical Ward to Unit 13! Are you—

What's wrong?

Sumie's condition has suddenly taken a turn for the worse! Sh-she's—!

Wait, wha—

Sumie's—hold on! I'm coming!

Next time...

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