The final battle form. The peak of growth lying at the nd for those elemarians who do not waver from their training, it is exactly as it sounds - an acquired final body meant for fighting. But instead of something so brusque, what stood there lied at the very opposite end of the spectrum. What the elemarian had attained was an oldworld beauty, the form of a goddess from the faraway heavens that demanded worship.
That was the rebel, Phoenix Guildy.
The traitor who had withdrawn from the organization known as Ultimaguil had ironically achieved what none of its great commanders could... No, they probably were not even aware of what they could truly achieve - the transformation into the those that could be called their parents, the ones that they were born from, humans.
The world the twin princesses Loel and Ryruna lived, the battle was over and the twintails have left. There, three warriors still stand stock still in place. Ultimaguil's executioner in the dark, Dark Grasper along with her partner Mega Neptune Mk. II and lastly the one reborn into the form of a ponytailed girl, Phoenix Guildy. Her dazzling body was wreathed in flames turned into a dress, dyed the same crimson as her prided hair. That ponytail hung on the air as she stared at Dark Grasper.
"Tail Red... is a man!? That's absurd! Why would I believe such poppycock!?"
The transformation into that female body was enough to send her into shock but the truthful revelation that accompanied it bolstered it further. The girl in before her had lost her cool and was giving into its vanishing.
"Wait! Are you sure you aren't confusing her with Blue!? It wouldn't be hard to believe at all to hear that she's actually a man!!"
There was a crossdressing boy, Girls Boy, affinity warrior who once made the same misunderstanding. That too was also probably a falsehood that lied down the road of desire. Phoenix Guildy just brushes off Dark Grasper and her glare aloofly.
"I'm the one who should be asking you why you find it so unbelievable instead! Just like how the primordial life you descended down from found a way on land that was jsut gas and magma, there's been plenty of miraculous coincidences that have happened right? Elemera's the same! With all those ever expanding parallel worlds out there, there's just bound to be one heck of an irregular out there!!"
There are rules binding the evolution of one's genealogy though. Elemera has such rules unto itself too. And even then, there are limits to irregulars. There can't be any that go beyond them.
"Someone with all that elemera should be able to discern the rational within the absurdities! Men simply cannot possess enough elemera to become twintail warriors! There's no way one could exist!"
Dark Grasper swings down her fist across at the terrifying vision rising up in her.
"If there were then things would already be...!"
"...I know right! Ain't it just the best!? That's why I fell for him!!"
Hearing that overly exhilarated declaration cum confession, Dark Grasper begins exuding malice. Those boyish lively eyes, that evenly porcelain white skin - they truly did bring out an enchantingly beautiful contrast between them. Her wholesome voluptuousness. The mystery peeking out of her pure integrity. Just how troublingly seductive could this form be?
It was on that point that Dark Grasper found herself so very firmly agitated by her. She... Phoenix Guildy was far too lovely. Even as she flaunted that dazzlingly sublime body to the entire world, and without outright saying so about the rest that came with it, her ponytail itself had an absolute presence to it. The people she's fallen for may just have happened to have been Twoearle and Tail Red but it wasn't like she had awakened a preference for other women. But even she couldn't stop herself from gazing upon Phoenix Guildy in wonderment at her beauty. It bordered on stealing away souls. Just like her own favorite phrase spoke off, the "rose tinted glasses" were out. It was Phoenix Guildy's renewed confession of her feelings for Tail Red that brought Dark Grasper to the reality of things whose cheeks were flushed crimson.
"L-Let's just say for a moment that it's t-true! If she really is a man... Then that means she's seen me bare naked...! And we even kissed... ah, AAAHHHHHH...!!"
Not having changed at all with her exaggerated actions from her elemarian form, Phoenix Guildy thrusts a finger out at the anguishing girl.
"Dark Grasper! You've fallen for Tail Red too haven't you!? What kind of a reaction is that at learning his true identity as a man!?"
"No, isn't the difficulty level a bit too high to keep on feeling that way after learning something like that this late in the game!?"
Mega Ne had been listening to their exchange quietly but she had to cut in with the treasured heirloom sword passed down to her that was her retort.
"Or could it be that you're just afraid of men!? You really are just a kid huh!!"
It was just a teasing bit of provocation but Dark Grasper jumps right on it.
"What did you just say to me!? Watch your mouth you damnable roast bird! I, I've been preparing for what I should do for when the man I promise myself to with my porn games shows up! I know that much at least! There is nothing for me to be afraid of!!"
"Listen up! You fell for Tail Red! Tail Red has seen you nude and you even kissed! Tail Red's true identity may be a man but if he's the man that you'll promise yourself to then that sort of stuff is also okay! When it comes down to it, that just means you're making smooth progress!!"
"...ohhh, you're right! In that case, good! There's no problem at all is there!!"
And just like that, Dark Grasper was convinced.
"I do think that the part of you that can put so much faith into things is a good thing but... It does worry me yanno, Acena-chan."
The noise of Mega Ne's running drives rang out with an audible clanking, foot bellows that would instill one with a bout of dizziness. Phoenix Guildy makes a suggestion to the now relieved Dark Grasper.
"Right, instead of going on about that kinda thing how about do this somewhere else? There's way too little land in this world. This place is way too cramped to be our battlefield ain't it!?"
Taking her up on that, Dark Grasper warps the space around them. This was one utility of Chaosic Infinite. The atmosphere twists into a dark gray and the three of them move between dimensions as the abyss of elemera slips away.
"Hoou, that's a pretty useful trick you got there. You can even use that other dimension to teleport at your expense too huh!"
"Acena-chan! It's dangerous to use it like that!!"
Both Phoenix Guildy and Mega Ne are surprised at her as she should be the one who understand just how dangerous the technique she used was. Her face contorts in pain, probably backlash from her reckless usage of it.
"I gave my word to Tail Red that we'd keep our hands off that world. It wouldn't do for me to let even a single elemarian remain there. Even if they're faking human forms like you are!!"
"That's a promise you made with the girl you fell for right? You got shook up pretty bad once you found out Tail Red was a guy but you're still going to keep that promise either way?"
She questions the flipside of what had been asked only just before. Dark Grasper takes on that testing gaze head on.
"For me, the truth is made up of the things that these glasses see through! Until I ascertain the truth of the matter, Tail Red is the girl who will become my bride! I will absolutely keep the promise I made to her!!"
"Huh.... I really just can't not like you, Dark Grasper-san. That clumsy justice of yours downright toasty!!"
The land they appeared on was an endlessly flat one covered in sand and rocks stretching out to the horizon. A dead world, the same as the surface of the moon. The stage for their showdown was set.
"Here we go Mega Ne!!"
"OK! Let's go all out Acena-chan!!"
The starting pistol for the true battle between the executioner and the rebel had just fired off.
Within the cafe "Adolescencia" that we run out of my house, colorful decorations have hung up all around inside.
"..I'm good with celebrating inside the cafe at Souji's house but..."
Aika, our star of the day, looks around her from the round table that we moved into the middle of the cafe.
"Why are these people here too!?"
She throws up that retort with no reservations at all towards our store's regulars who had pointy hats on and crackers in their hands.
"If had to say why, it'd be that I found myself guided to do so in a way..."
So says one of the regulars, the tall uncle smiling cooly at us that I think was the reincarnation of a demon king.
"Who the heck are you even!?"
"...who you ask? Huh... Just who am I? That's something I'd like to know myself..."
There's a truckload of feeling put into that. Our regulars really have enough acting ability to spare that you'd think they were actually actors... Well not so much as acting ability as they are just playing themselves. And we're just getting more and more of these types.
Our world continues to be just as sluggish hot as ever. It's only been a few days since we came back from our training camp and the intense battle we had in that other world where the winds blew by as soft gentle breezes.
Today is the 8th of August - Aika's birthday.
Ultimaguil said they'd be on break till the sixth so we've been keeping our heads up for them but there hasn't been a single trace of them in these past two days. If it stays that way we'll be able to fully enjoy the rest of our summer breaks. And as such that brings us to today, Aika's birthday party.
The years before I'd intrude in on Aika's house to celbrate it but this year her parents were overseas on business so I figured that we could do it with the whole Twintail club this year. My suggestion was met unanimous approval.
At first we thought we'd do it in the living room but when mom heard about our plans we ended up doing it in our cafe instead. With our regulars for some reason.
We closed up for the afternoon and hung up a sign saying "Reserved for today" on our foor in the evening but looking around now it's really no different than business as usual.
Everywhere from the windows to the ceiling, the counters and tables were decorated with rings, curtains and even ornamental balls. It seems that the regulars were the ones who helped put them up.
On the receiving end of a roaring applause, Aika smiles bitterly as if it were some awful punishment. I know better though. Her twintails are very clearly happy to be in this situation.
Seated at the the two round tables set out for our main guests were me, Aika, Twoearle, Erina, Sakuragawa-sensei and also Aika's older sister, Renka. Everyone else seated around us were our regulars.
I was worried that Renka-san might not have gotten used to things around here. Renka-san must have caught me looking at her with that on my mind because she shrugs her shoulders and says,
"Sorry that you had to invite me as well. Is this really okay?"
"What are you even saying? You're her sester, of course you have to be here! On top of that Renka-san, you've become one of our regulars again too lately haven't you?"
"Thank you, Sou-kun."
Renka-san meets my trifiling response with an angelic smile. Even the regulars are healed by that smile.
Mom brings over the cake to the main guest table.
"Now we just need to light up the candkes! Take it away Sou-chan."
I ask her reflexively since I was expecting her to light the candles herself.
"I mean after all you're a flame user aren't you Sou-chan?"
I close her mouth with my hands in a panic but the people around us just grin and smile. Among them is a silver-gray haired man looking sharp in a tuxedo who nodded approvingly and says,
"Hoho? So Souji-kun uses flames as well then? The same goes for me too. Back in my time it was light or whatever else that was considered powerful that got all the attention but I guess these days with Tail Red around flame users are all the rage now."
Is that seriously trending? I really hope that the notion that playing with fire is bad is also pervasive throughout society.
Another man with naturally permed hair seated next to him tosses something my way. I almost drop it but as I take a close at it I realize that it's a classy styled oil lighter.
"I'll pass that on to you, young flame user. My wife said to me, "Stop smoking or else I'll turn that perm of yours into a campfire!" you see so I've graduated from being a flame user."
"Th-thank you. I don't plan on smoking when I'm adult though. Other peoples' twintails would... I mean their hair would smell of smoke and I just can't let that happen."
It's not that I'm against smokers but second hand smoke is bad for the body and for twintails so I have to be careful.
Aika's body suddenly goes stiff and her face gets red enough for steam to be coming off from it.
"Souji... Do-does that mean even once we're adults that I'll have to..."
Twoearle jumps forth as if to interrupt Aika's words and lights up all the candles in a flash. The guests give a round of a applause at the impromptu illusion. Even Erina who sat next to me was smiling and applauding at it.
"Come to think of it, when's your birthday Erina?"
I ask her out incidental curiosity. Erina faces me and gives a graceful smile.
"My birthday will be in December so it is still quite some time from now."
"Is that so. In that case we'll all have to celebrate it just like this. We'll... oh wait... Since it's your birthday you'd be having a grand party wouldn't you?"
This is just my own image of it but rich young ladies would be renting out whole hotel floors so that their associate companies and big wigs would gather in big numbers in party dresses and whatnot. I might be a bother if I were to ask to be invited to something like that.
"Of course it's important to me that father and mother celebrate it with me but this year I would also like to celebrate with you all. And..."
Mom turns the lights off. The sun was just setting too so the store went dark. Another one of the uncles among the regulars who's a skilled tenor starts singing the birthday song. In this dim darkness lit up only by the light of the candlefire, I can make out Erina's reddened face. And when the song comes to its final verse she says.
"...and the next year... the next one after that... and every single year after... I want to spend my birthdays with Mitsuka-kun..."
Aika blows all the candles out in just one breath. Serving as an answer song, nay, an answer illusion to the earlier Twoearle Fire, she let loose the Aika Typhoon. Having used what you could call heroic girl power to counter it with that single breath, the store greets her with a wave of clapping even more clamorous than when the candles were lit up.
What lung power she has. If you can do this before transforming are you sure you wouldn't be blowing out laser beams after?
"Ufufu~ Quite right, Souji-sama~."
Sounding almost as if she read my thoughts, even in this darkness I see what is unmistakably a knowing smile forming on Twoearle's face.
When the lights come back on we all shout out "Happy Birthday!".
Erina's got a teary eyed smile on her face now... Come to think what was she saying just now?
Sakuragawa-sensei's been walking about helping mom out but she's not letting the opportunity slip and is keenly searching out targets among the regulars. I was thinking that she was being unusually quiet today but it looks like she was doing her marriage hunting silently.
"That reminds me... Mikoto's birthday is coming next month as welll so why don't we all celebrate it together when it does!"
Sakuragawa-sensei's been standing up all this time so Erina was probably trying to have her be at ease and take a seat by bringing up that topic but it had the opposite effect instead.
"Birth... day...? M-my bir..."
Sakuragawa-sensei suddenly falls to her knees in terror. She might just black out from it.
"Calm down, Sakuragawa-sensei!!"
Frantic, Sakuragawa-sensei rushes over to me crying, grabs hold my shoulders and shrieks.
"I-I-I... I... I'm still going to be single when I turn 29 next month...! It's over! It's all over for me!!"
She's cowering down holding her head in horror. If a meteor were about to hit Earth next month and thereby make everything go extinct, this would probably be how the civilians would be react when the government announces it to them.
"My days are numbered... I've only got 40 more to go..."
So says the maid in self-derision. The light has gone from her eyes.
"Young mistress... Please find it in your heart to forgive this Mikoto who was unable to protect to her dying breath..."
That did not sound like a joke at all. Did she make some sort of pact with the reaper where it'd come for her soul if she didn't get married by the time she turned 30 or something?
I hold out my hand to help her but she grabs hold of it with the deathgrip of a tiger.
"...Mitsuka... Marry me, please."
It was the same line as always but hearing it while looking down at her looking back up at me with her half tearful eyes makes my heart skip a beat on its own.
"This is bad! The terror she's in has caused the hag to awaken and release her dormant ability! This is the power of a woman who's almost let 30 years slip her her by at its maximum output!!"
Sakuragawa's twintails curl up at Twoearle's words and she moves in closer to my face.
"Mitsuka, you're a warrior that safeguards the peace of the world aren't you! ?If you can't protect the marriage window of a woman right in front of you then how do you expect protect the world!?"
"Shhh!! Not so loud!!"
I look around the store for any change of expressions. Mom is one thing but our backup member's lips are way too loose!!
Thankfully it seems that the people around ous didn't hear that and were just smiling contently at us. That said with these customers I'm sure we could cover things up pretty easily.
I move towards the base of her ear and quietly whisper my response to Sakuragawa-sensei so that only she could hear it.
"I'm really just fighting to protect the twintails of the world so..."
"Then protect these twintails here! If I have to live through my next birthday single then I'll undo my twintails in sorrow!!"
She's not holding people hostage, she's holding twintails. This is as painful of a demand as she can make of me.
Erina obviously wouldn't just let this pass and chides her.
"Mikoto, today is Tsube-san's birthday! We should be showing smiles! Let us save redoubling efforts with your marriage tomorrow!"
Sakuragawa collects herself at once apologizing to Erina before moving to Aika and bowing her head down to her.
"Sorry about that Tsube. It's your birthday today and I went and put a damper on things."
"You say that but honestly it didn't really feel like anything out of the usual..."
That's right. She's like this in front of complete strangers as well after all.
"Yes, I will think positively. I still have more than a month left. I'll find a way to make it happen!"
Sakuragawa-sensei fixes her outlook and the hostage twintails are released. The incident has resolved itself.
Or so I thought. It hits me like an after-credits twist for this two hour drama.
"But if I'm down to 7 days left I don't know what I'll do. I counting on you for that Mitsuka."
I see the light blink out of her eyes for an instant as she slaps me on the shoulder.
I cower down holding my head in horror. If a meteor were about to hit Earth next month and thereby make everything go extinct, this would probably be how the civilians would react when the government announces it to them.
"Don't worry Souji! I'll be sure to keep you safe!"
"Don't think a little 16 year old girl with a future ahead of her is going to be able to take on a woman nearing her 30's without one!!"
With a line like that wouldn't it end up becoming your one liner?
Aika and Sakuragawa-sensei take their stances for this unscheduled birthday match. As the gong sounds off, Erina takes this chance to get up and walk over to Renka-san who was three seats over to exchange greetings. She must have been looking out for the right timing to do so.
"I do apologize for the late introduction, Tsube-san's older sister. I am the student council president of Yougetsu Highschool Academy, Shindou Erina. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
"Nice to meet you too Shindou-san. I am the elder Tsube sister, Tsube Renka. I'm a secound year in Yougetsu's university division."
Renka-san and Erina exchange pleasant handshakes with each other using both their own hands. These two are the most well mannered people I know. I could just paint a picture of this.
"Shindou-san. Aika is a little bit of a tomboy in some places so I do worry about her... Does she have any trouble at school because of that?"
...a little bit... of a tomboy...
This filter of theirs that goes by the name of sisterly love is far too powerful. I'd say it's on the same level as filtering out fresh water from crude oil.
"Nothing comes to mind really. I'm actually the one who's always being helped out by Aika-san."
"Is that so? I'm relieved to know that she has such good friends around her."
Renka smiles ever so cheerfully. It's true that she does in battle but it's the other way around normally... I'm always getting helped by her in both aspects though.
Aika puffs up her cheeks after overhearing Renka-san's mischievious little questions.
Of course however, Twoearle who'd have the most to object to that little bout of diplomacy just couldn't let that slide.
"That might be how it is for Erina-san but I have been lethally wounded by that tomboy more than 300 times now! You're her sister so please do reprimand her harshly about that!!"
"Oh you're just exaggerating now Twoearle... For her to reach 300 times in four months, she'd have to beat you to the brink of death at least three times a day and tha- I'm sorry, that's exactly what happened isn't it!?"
As I do the calculations in my head I come upon the truth and amend myself with an apology halfway through.
"Twoearle-san, I believe you were a relative of Sou-kun's. Is that correct?"
Taking that disturbing confession as a part of their friendship all too easily, Renka-san begins questioning Twoearle.
"I am if you consider the nuance behind the word "relatives"! I am presently imposing on and cohabitating with Souji-sama beneath this one roof!!"
When she says beneath this roof, she means 1000 meters under it. It's still literally correct isn't it...
Seemingly baffled at the way Twoearle refers to me, Renka-san raises and eyebrow repeats it herself.
"Oh my, the way I refer to him would draw attention wouldn't it? Ufufu, ever since the day we met I hav-"
Twoearle approaches Renka-san whose body was bending loosely back and forth in a strange fashion. Erina also cuts in midsentence literally with her twintails aflutter.
"I-I forgot to mention this but I also happen to refer to Mitsuka-kun as my master!!"
OOOOHHHHHH... so go the regulars as they stand up all at once in a commotion.
"...is that how it is."
Odd, Renka-san's expression just went dark... cold even... I must be imagining it.
"But I find it a little bit curious. Sou-kun and Aika were just about so small until a little while ago."
Renka-san suddenly switches topic. She lowers her hand to hip level to exeplify just how short she means.
"That takes me back, Sou-kun. Do you still remember from when you were kids? You see when Sou-kun wasn't around Aika came to me and said "Oneechan, don't wear twintails"..."
"Oneechan! I told you not telll anyone!!"
I glance at the sisters playing around and I close my eyes as I zone in on the memory.
"I do. I remember every single day since the day Aika wore twintails for the first time."
No matter how much time passes my memories of Aika's twintails won't ever fade away.
"Mitsuka-kun... You say you remember but before this didn't you also say that that Tsube-san's twintails have always been that way!?"
Erina pulls on the sleeve of my shirt fidgeting.
"They are the same but the were times when they grew out a little, times where she trimmed the front a little too much and all sort of other things etched into my memory. I remember every signle thing about Aika's twintals."
"Ah Ah Oooooooooooooo~~~~~~"
Aika's face turns completely red for some reason as she grabs hold of the vacant seat right next to her.
"Aika-chan, just how are you twisting the legs of that chair!? It's like they've turned from steel to clay!"
Ever the lovers of the flashy and the fantastic, Aika wins over our awed regulars with that realistic display of super strength. Their reaction to her seems to be helping calm her down.
"My, my! I also remember everything about Souji-sama as well! I don't mean just with my brain but with this body as well!!"
Twoearle takes her stance as if to appeal in front of Renka-san with her chest.
"...but Sou-kun seems to remember girls by their twintails so I'm very sure that he's memorized Aika even more thoroughly Twoearle-san."
Renka-san faintly narrows her eyes and flashes an adult-like smile. There was something different from usual about it though.
"And of course, Aika's not the only one who's been watching Sou-kun since he was little. I know allll about him too. Like the way he looks at Aika's twintails and even the kinds of twintails that he just can't tear his eyes away from. I remember every single last detail of allll that."
All the friendly chat in the store instantly comes to halt at. Everyone, including the customers, had their eyes all on Renka-san. Twoearle, Erina and Sakuragawa-sensei in particular were all stiff as they stared at her unblinkingly.
Well, even I would feel a little embarassed by having someone who's like my actual older sister say such ticklish things. It might just be that other people don't know how to react to hearing someone reminisce like that. I look at Aika and see that she's just as perplexed about it as I am. I guess that really must be the case here then.
Twoearle stands on her tiptoes... and takes small mincing steps away from Renka-san and approaches Aika. She whispers something into her ear.
"Aika-san, Aika-san! About your sister..."
"Twoearle, don't you dare do anything strange to my sister! You got that!? She definitely can't handle things from our usual routine!!"
"...I can't help but wonder if your insight functions properly with those close to you Aika-san. You are familiar with the phrase "wolf in sheep's clothing" are you not?"
For some reason Twoearle's expression had a rare shadow fall over it.
"Hm? What's wrong Erina? Are you okay?"
"Mmm~... Nothing is wrong! Nothing at al!!"
Erina responds back in a rare tone as well. I don't give it too much thought and just nod.
"Wonderful! This is just wonderful Master! To think we'd get to see such a scene in the real world!!"
"I know right! I really been wanting to show you all this wonderful love comedy Shangri-la...!!"
One by one, our regulars come to shake hands with mom. Tears were streaming down as they did so.
Scenes like this... They're normal, right? I'm pretty sure that seeing a schoolgirl twist chair legs isn't something you'd come across everyday though.
The birthday festivities kept on getting even more festive after that. I'll have to thank mom and the regulars for that. It's been a while since we had such peaceful days. It'd be great if the ceasefire keeps up for the rest of the summer break.
Still, just what exactly are those Ultimaguil guys getting up to these days...
"Page 24's done being penned! Please move it up for filling!!"
"Got it! Leave it to me!!"
"I need a quick check! How do I finish up a concetrating look with three dotted eyes!?"
"How do I get this to go from bawumph to a kablam kind of feel!?"
Answering out from behind those steeled muscles were the incomparably delicate trains of creativity.
This was the mothership of the unit that was invading Souji's world... and in its halls, the men were spewing out sighs and sweat. Communications of work raced and bulleted through its interiors in roars. The sturdy monsters fervently blazed across the surfaces of their LCD tablets with their huge muscley fingers, pens tight in their grip. It was a bizzare sight to be sure but one could not miss the sincere beauty in it. Foisting the defeat of Tail Blue as their flag, they were all under the guidance of Bee Tiful Heart's chief Beetle Guildy and were now undergoing training all together and saw it fit to suspend their invasion until they were done.
Yes. While the twintails were off in another world facing an escalating deathmatch against No Bul Club, they who had put for the ceasefire did not spend that time simply playing around.
They had been drawing manga.
Continue drawing illustrations of Tail Blue until your heart is clear. What lay beyond that mind and body destroying ascetic was a journey filled with even more carnage than what came before, "Raise your art sjukk higher and draw manga".
By this point it was a situation that demanded someone to have already said, "No, wait. What are we even doing?", with a serious face and a scolding tone but as expected, this was due to Beetle Guildy being the chief commander in charge of one of the units directly supervised by the leader. Brainwashing... He was steadfastly aware that things called for a carrot and stick.
After they endure pain enough to destroy their arms from drawing illustrations of Tail Blue he would kindly tell them, "Let's draw some manga next. You can do Tail Red in exchange," and that would serve as their reward would it not?
Curiously enough, today happened to that very same Tail Blue's, Tsube Aika's, birthday - the 8th of August. It also happened to be the day before the copies for Comic Market were due, smack dab right in the middle of the weeklong death match that creators called Death Week. No matter how much they'd have to pay in premiums, not beiong able to send in their manuscripts to the copiers was completely out of the question. It spelled out "DEATH" for them to do so.
"All of you, you have done well to endure this much."
With his right hand Stag Guildy standing right beside him, Beetle Guildy puts on his trustworthy facade for his suboordinates as he looks at them and imparts some grateful words to them. He had a grimly face more stern than even his own single horn for his suboordinates but today he hid away the sharpness in his eyes and covered them up in kindness.
<i>"Split up and make your own groups. You will be making 40 page B5 sized doujinshi."</i>
Beetle Guildy had actually ordered his suboordinates thus on the 1st of August. That had somehow lined up right in time for them to have gotten used to drawing Tail Blue's illustration. The days that had followed it to today's deadline had been merciless ones that left them no spare time to even breathe. And now, all the groups were finally ready to greet the completion of their manuscripts.
"It's taken care of. The manuscript data is done being sent to the presses. We just have to bring them to the event later on."
"Since we'll be taking the completed goods straight to the grounds we can look forward to when they're done."
Beetle Guildy, followed up by Stag Guildy, declare their work over. Looks of relief rise up to all the faces at the hall's desks and each one of them give their comrade neighbours hard firm handshakes.
Beetle Guildy lifts up the booklets left on his table up for them to see and says,
"There may only be two chosen to step on event grounds but we are still all participants nevertheless. I think that we ahould all make our checks through the event catalogues today in anticipation of the event."
Sitting on their desks already were stacks of massively thick books to be distributed to them. Stag Guildy added further on with regards to the books.
"You can actually access the catalogues online too but we had heard that those of you who aren't in Bee Tiful Heart and are of the unit that was originally here would be participating in the event for the very first time, hence the physical versions. I thought it be a better way leave behind memories of this."
Stag Guildy lets out a boyishly embarassed smile as he says so. The superior officer's consideration spread through their chests. The warriors express their gratitude in words and they head off to flip through said catalogues.
"Oooh!? Isn't this!?"
It didn't take long for a surprised shout to rise up and neither did the chain of further shouts that followed it. The doujin event catalogue had exits, schedules and warnings all written inside... There were all sorts of vital information mentioned in there but it was all the single cuts of drawn art featured inside by the groups participating that took up most of the pages. And in those cuts there were many that featured the characters that would be appearing in the books they had prepared.
Games, Anime, Manga and the like would see some individual works boasting great holds over these pages through the trends of the times or universal popularity so it wasn't rare to see several pages go by featuring the same work. Lining up the same works and those of genre across a set of paged was naturally done for solidarity.
However... This year's event saw an unprecendentedly huge shift. Artworks of Tail Red ran for several dozen pages. If one were to sort the all of the circles involved in that then one would find that their numbers reached into 4 four digits. This could only be called an abnormal state of affairs.
Tail Red was not a character from games, anime or manga. She might have been covered in an otherworldly suit and protectors but she was still a living human being that existed in this world. For her to swell up into the grandest genre there was, it was simply unheard of. On top of that, by the time the Twintails had shown up in this world the application period for participating were long over. They were still able to change their cuts they'd send in along with all the other details they registered though so they barely made in time to get in. Their popularity truly did spread lightning fast.
"Good golly. You can just see all the love coming out of all this artwork."
"True. You can out your soul out there through a single piece of art."
They continued to open and flip through the pages but the Tail Red art only kept on going. A majority of it consisted of anime-esque deformed art and aimed to showcase her cuteness in its entirety but there were also dramatic works in there too.
Glancing through all the various kinds of Tail Reds they were seeing gave them courage. They were all supposed to have been comfily checking through their catalogues but then one of them came upon a terrifying cut and the air instantly turned tense.
"Lo-look at this! Buried in between all these dozens of Tail Red filled pages is one lone single circle of brave souls that drew Tail Blue!!"
As they each took a look at it in turn, their expressions turned to shocked looks.
"On top of that it's got a cool touch to it! Someone has developed this much of a tast for that demonic beast Tail Blue!!"
The art had an american comic style and surprisingly enough it was a good match for Tail Blue's vibe.
"And then they even went so far as to scribble "I love Tail Blue" into their cut too! No ordinary person can be behind this can they!?"
Beetle Guildy however remained there with his arms crossed not showing a single trace of consternation.
"Calm yourselves. Quick, werify it through the man's circle page."
It was small but there was still a link to the circle's homepage included in their circle cut.
"Wuh, this is!?"
The elemarian who obeyed Beetle Guildy's ordered to confirm the matter on that site saw his facial expression descend further into shock.
"I thought as much. There is no Tail Blue to be found is there?"
Beetle Guildy sighed as if he had predicted it to be the obvious outcome. The site's top page had an illustration that looked to be the cover of a doujinshi with the tag "New Publication" marked on it. However, that was not the same one from the catalog's circle cut that appealed with their declared love of Tail Blue but featured Tail Red facing the viewer with a refreshing smile instead. In the same american comic style at that.
"By making their appeal through their circle's cut to declare their love for Tail Blue, it's only natural for any soldier to want to see if that's really true. But when they open up the lid they find a new publication for Tail Red instead! A truly despicable scheme they're playing and we've completely fallen for their ruse!"
They all had nothing to say at the Beetle Guildy's wonderfully surmised conjecture. It was exactly as he described. Tail Reds to the left, Tail Reds to the right, that's how things turned out to be. There are limits to what can be done to make a 4 by 4 centimeter illustrations stand out and make its appeal. That's why they made the call to draw Tail Blue instead.
It really was only natural to take a second look through when you spot a poisonous mushroom growing in between a bed of lovely blooming white lilies. Are these guys insane, so would the perusers go as they end up taking to the circle's webpage themselves. A very natural flow of events.
The end result may be yet another Tail Red book but that awareness of it would no doubt leave them with a lasting impression. It wasn't exactly a must for them to put out a book for her just because they used her as their cut's featured character either. That said, it was possible that they really did like Tail Blue at the time when the cut was put in but then set their aim on Tail Red because they couldn't bear to be seen as wrongdoers on the news...
"Kuh... Have they no honor!?"
"Listen to me. Do not forget what you have learned from these past few days of training. Do not let your heart fall into disarray so easily."
He was completely right. Just for what purpose did they endure that harsh trial. Wasn't it to draw a book of Tail Red's cuteness? ...well that may have served as their driving motivation far too well in the end but the original goal was to win against Tail Blue.
"Well then, from here we will be initiating you all into acquiring the knowledge for participating in Comiket!!"
With that command, Bettle Guildy set them all straight and grabbed hold of their spirits tight.
...This was supposed to training meant for their triumph over Tail Blue but... With things somehow leading to their participation in Comiket there wasn't even a single shred of doubt to be found on the matter in their current state.
The warriors who will be sortieing for Comiket have been announced and the base's hall was brimming with energy. Bee Tiful heart and the Remnant soldiers had come to know each other and were chatting away. They had unwaveringly finished their training and had deepened their sense of unity through it. Beetle Guildy's plan could be called a huge success.
The old staff officer Sparrow Guildy left the hall looking relieved. And in the corridors, away from that sort of commotion seemingly on purpose with his wings to the wall staring at his phone was the young warrior striving in earnest on his own lone training, Swan Guildy.
"...What's the matter? Didn't you say that you didn't want to see anything of your phone for a while because of Dark Grasper-sama's emails?"
"Sparrow Guildy-sama... No, that Dark Grasper-sama... It's been quite some time since she departed for her mission but I still haven't received a single email from her in that time..."
For a time Swan Guildy could not take a single step without receiving an email from her and it was as if he was right in the middle of some cyber horror story. However, even as much as he feared the emails from Dark Grasper, he found their absence intensely harsh.
"I myself haven't received any communications from her. Beetle Guildy-sama probably hasn't either. I would not think that that Dark Grasper-sama would ever see defeat in battle, but..."
Sparrow Guildy strokes the part of his chin that would serve as a beard and exchange looks with Swan Guildy. She may have been arrogant and whimsical but she was also a commander who thought of her suboordinates however awkward she may have been about it. At some point Swan Guildy started thinking of her in such a light.
"Just where could that person be now and what could have happened to her..."
Holding onto his mobile phone devoid of messages, Swan Guildy lets out the worries on his mind.
The seared molten land, the roaring rising black smoke, the countless craters engraved into the ground that left no gaps between them - they all painted a tale of the sheer ludricousness of the offensive and defensive exchanges that had unfolded here. Knees to the ground, Dark Grasper's breathing ran ragged. Beside her was Mega Ne who had exhausted her energy reserves to the point of needing to power down into safe mode.
"You damn vexation... you had an undying body but have you gone and reduced yourself to being a phantom too!?"
Before the two of them stood a ponytailed young girl with armed with an invincible and crossed arms. Once again, Dark Grasper found her eyes getting drawn in by the girl starting from her ponytail to the rest of her body.
The time they spent fighting was not a mere one or two hours. They had fought long enough for their sense of time's passage to dilute and for them to use all of their power but there weren't any scratches nor specks of soot or mud to be found on that body. It was like beating on the air, as if she had a specter for a foe. It tormented her with a sense of vain futility.
"I said so didn't I? I am a ponytail. I fight to pay Ultimaguil back its evil, I am a ponytail of justice! There are those beyond you in Ultimaguil so I damn well can't be losing to you!!"
Dark Grasper knew there are some elemarians with the ability to shapeshift into human form. But they were all of temporary and affectatious natures, abilities that let them perform sham transformations. Those that would become higher class elemarians would not approve of such a power meant simply for show and would certainly not make use of it.
However, the girl that Phoenix Guildy had transformed into felt entirely devoid twisted falsehoods. This was not some measure to hold for a time. This was an ultimate objective defined very clearly in mind. A genuine beauty attained through discipline without the aid of strengthening tools like the Tailgears and the Glassgear that was also the source of all the power she possessed.
"...Ponytails... Are you telling me that someone who's taken it to the extreme are of those with such caliber...!?"
The ultimate rebel that even the leader of Ultimaguil himself could not keep under control. By now, Dark Grasper had become painfully aware of the true worth in this rebel. As she took the huge blow to her confidence, Phoenix Guildy speaks to her insolently.
"I figured it's about time for you to finally learn that you just can't beat me, right?"
There would be no honest answer from her so Dark Grasper spits out a different set of words.
"It's not that I can't win, it's just that the shameless outfit you're dressed in bothers me! Not only do you prance around dressed like you may as well be naked on the sacred battlefield but you're not putting on any maidenly airs for it either! Learn some shame will you!!"
"Guh...! D-Don't! Avoid it Acena-chan! That boomerang ya tossed is gonna come right back at you!!"
The warning retort the mother was spurred into saying with her weakened body rings out hollow.
"Naked huh... I did want to wear something stylish but well I guess it is a bit see-through huh? I knew I should have worn something over it. Wish I did."
"...Stylish!? On top of that... you're embarrassed by it!? You!? An elemarian!?"
Phoenix Guildy props up her chest with her arms staring at it fixatedly.
"I had already become a woman the moment I acquired this final battle body. That fact doesn't change even when I undo the transformation and revert back to my elemarian form. That's all clear to me and I'm plan on being proud of it. Getting embarrassed just grew from it naturally."
Admitting to it laudably, the sharp eyed Phoenix Guildy moves her gaze over to the Glassgear belonging to the Dark Grasper that had only just criticized her so harshly.
"Hey Dark Grasper-san, you said that armor of yours came from the tech that you ripped off the one you looked up right?"
"I didn't rip it off!! It was my show of respect!!"
Moving her gaze yet again, she stares intently at Mega Neptune who stood by Dark Grasper's side as well.
"Fighting you for so long made me remember something. I probably would have remembered sooner if I was up against the original, the Tailgear that Tail Red wears instead of you and your Glassgear."
"You probably... No, I felt it too with the Twintails' armors too. I just happened to see it. So long as they keep on fighting battle after battle with the stalwarts of Ultimaguil. That's the secret of that tiny giant's power for you!"
Putting on a suggesting look Phoenix Guildy nods exaggeratedly as she said that.
"I want to meet with Tail Red one more time! I have to have a proper talk with that guy!!"
Dark Grasper was shaken to her core. Phoenix Guildy wasn't just strong but she had something beyond and beside her power and that told her instincts of the danger she'd have to deal with.
"That is a prior engagement of mine! Once I consign you to oblivion, I'm going to go make sure of Tail Red's true identity myself!"
Dark Grasper readies her prided greatscythe Darkness Glaive and flaunts her unweakening will to fight.
"So you haven't given up the fight huh...! In that case I'm gonna have to make you give me the okay to get going!!"
Dark Grasper realized it as soon as it was said. To borrow Phoenix Guildy's words, this fight would bet he third round - only this time, she'd be the first on the offensive. Phoenix Guildy had been taking the attacks all too lightheartedly. To only notice this obvious fact now spoke of the sheer scale of their battle.
Cracking her neck with exaggerated volume, Phoenix Guildy begins doing some light stretching. In the middle of her third stretch, she takes off high into the air to strike her foe off her guard.
"BUURRNIIINNGG! PHOENIX KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCKK!!"
A blaze as beautiful as the lotus erupts forth all around Phoenix Guildy's body. The flames she was clad in was was much grander than the one she showed off in her battle against No Bul Club's soldiers and Dark Grasper is assaulted by it.
"NOWWAAAAAAHHH! Are you a moron!? Why are doing jump kicks in that OUUUUUUUUUTTTTFFIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTT!!"
It was different from when she was kicking in her monster form. That difference came from the fact that she was now an actual human being with a short thin one piece dress made of fire covering her bare naked form. That dancing ponytail protected her wholesome-ish beauty up till now but the time has finally come for it to meet its limits. Unleashing a jumpkick without wearing any shorts in that defenseless state would only see an unavoidable display of public indecency waiting to come after.
Dark Grasper lets that out as she blocks her vision with a flash of her Darkness Glaive. Using the flat of her blade as a shield she blocks Phoenix Guildy's kick strike who came at her with a daring look that one would not think to see on some loose woman. Fire surges out from them and their contact point as the menace of losing anywhere else to move to rages all around them.
"GUAAAAAHH! What power is this!?"
With her fist held in front of her chest, her left leg bent at angle and her right extended completely straight, Phoenix Guildy's kick boasted a picturesque heroicness to it. Not only did it not fall apart even as it took from being in the middle of the intense shockwaves, it also increased the power going into it.
A molten colored hole had been bored into the flat of the blade and it was getting bigger. The Darkness Glaive that played the role of a blind was steadily melting away and its user would not move a single step out of the fear from having the revelation of Phoenix Guildy's nether regions come to her bit by bit.
This was a battle of the ultimate level where life and death hung in the window of a split second. It would be unthinkable to avert one's eyes even if they were from their foe's nether regions. Even though she knew that perfectly well, she could not fight back against the terror creeping up on her and so Dark Grasper averted her eyes. The difference in their resolves split the triumph and defeat of their duel into light and dark.
Not missing that window, Phoenix Guildy's entire body stiffens and she unleashes a roar together with her kick.
The Darkness Glaive's blade finally turns red hot all the way to its grip as it gets deflected away. The shock from it blows Dark Graspers back a good ways too.
She rolls on the ground witlessly before Mega Ne's eyes. When she finally comes to a halt, her face was to the ground and her breathing was in tatters. Her fingers dug into the ground loathsomely.
"Da-dammit...! Just one single kick held such horrific power behind it...!!"
"Give it up. You ain't got absolutely no chance of winning as you are now. Showing that opening just because you got stumped on a fellow woman's nakedness makes you a second rate warrior!!"
The one who was crawling on the ground looking up and the one taking magnificent strides upon the ground looking down. It was clear as day who had claimed triumph. However,
"You say I'm second rate...? Now you've gone and said it you lousy roast bird!!"
The executioner of the dark does not accept defeat and stands as she spits out naivete and her glasses take on a brave glimmer.
"...Mega Ne! The 3-point set!!"
Figuring out her intent as soon as the words came, Mega Ne opens up her hip storage. She pulls and tosses out all sorts of NepNep Secret Items from her storage but it seems she can't find the item she was seeking.
"Even the home delivery receipts for the QR code stickers aren't there!? What's inside right now that could work the same is... The serial code slips they include inside the gaming software cases...!!"
"That'll do! Give it here!!"
Come collect points and get original goods, so it's written on the palm sized slips of paper with the alphabetical serial code printed on them. Dark Grasper takes the three tiny slips of paper of that couldn't be expected to provide protection to her own flesh body and with a flash of her spirit, the Glassgear goes flying off in one sweep to the sky and to the ground.
"Let me just say this first. I do not expose my skin to just any man. You declared yourself to be a woman and because of that I strip myself!! It wouldn't do for me to not resolve myself too!!"
"You're one straightshooting lady! Well it's not like elemarians think much of it when then they a woman's skin though. Still, that's just the sort of attitude I think I should be learning from... since I a am woman!!"
And so she plasters on the three slips of paper onto that proudly flaunted immature body.
"There won't be any petty tricks to be done with these! It won't do for me to be spoiled with armor of any sort when I put my everything into a single strike!"
"Why did ya hafta take off the undersuit too!?"
The boomerang of words that Dark Grasper had lobbed comes back flying back in. A vision of a giant boomerang cutting deep into the back of the girl's head comes to Mega Ne's eyes.
With only some minor concealment for the the dignity she had an intelligent lifeform, she had put all her defensive mechanisms behind her. This wasn't a male-type elemarian that she had for a foe, she was completely determined to face her foe woman to woman.
"But what can you do without your weapon!? You're not going to take me down with just plain old determination!!"
"Fool! No weapons, no armor! What I have here are these glasses! I have my beloved glasses!!"
"Hoou... That's some fine spirit you got there. Hey Dark Grasper-san. I take back what I said about you being second rate! For that I'll also...!!"
Phoenix Guildy splits apart what little of the flame dress there already was on her to the parts that covered her chest and the skirt, then she condenses them to down to the limit. These were also just barely enough to cover the vital bits.
"With this it's ponytail and glasses! A head to head showdown between the things we put our faiths in!!"
"Why can't these girls just fight a normal fiiiiiiiiiiigggghhtt!!?"
The heaven soak in the mother's commonsensical wish like nothing.
What protected Dark Grasper's maidenhood were some slips of paper without any adhesive power to them. If anything were keeping them on, it'd have to be the beads of sweat trailing across her entire body at the conclusion of this fierce fight. If those were to dry up, the three slips of paper would helplessly fall to the ground. In other words, she was not to attend to them. It truly was a an all or nothing way to battle.
Perhaps sensing that, an invincible smile rises to Phoenix Guildy's face as if to take up her challenge.
"Alright! Let's do this!"
The half naked, no, almost entirely naked girls charge into dashes powerful enough to blow away the soil into the air. Not satisfied with the broken land, the two take their lunacy with them to complete their picture of true hell. The world breaks to white. Light flashes from the epicenter in concentric waves as the two raise their right fists.
The entire place is painted completely white.
The three slips of paper fly up into the air helplessly like leaves of a late autumn tree. She herself would be swallowed up in that light as Mega Ne's sorrowing yells echo into their surroundings...
Weight: 50 Kg
B84 W57 H81
Phoenix Guildy's evolved form. Very much human but boasts abnormal strength that overwhelms Dark Grasper and Mega Ne even without being armed. On the other hand, attaining this final battle body had ended up turning her disposition and sensations into that of a female human's. While she has become conscious of fashion, she's also lacking in shame so one could say that her having "turned" human carried with it an unbalance that puts her in a dangerous state. She does have a name for when she uses this form but that itself seems to have a story behind it.