May These Leaden Battlegrounds Leave No Trace (Light Novel) - Recommendations

Alt title: Uchinukareta Senjou wa, Soko de Kieteiro (Light Novel)

May These Leaden Battlegrounds Leave No Trace (Light Novel)

If you're looking for manga similar to May These Leaden Battlegrounds Leave No Trace (Light Novel), you might like these titles.

Our Crappy Social Game Club Is Gonna Make the Most Epic Game (Light Novel)

Our Crappy Social Game Club Is Gonna Make the Most Epic Game (Light Novel)

Chelsea Past trauma leads Shiraseki Kai to abandon the world of social game development, so he transfers to Maikun High School to start a new life. But on his first day he meets Aoi Nanaka, the president of a low-tier social game club, and finds out that the club is on the brink of disbanding—and is also populated by total weirdos! The programmer, Oushima Aya, is a crazed gacha addict, and the illustrator, Kuroba Eru, faints from the cuteness of her own drawings?!

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Mini1BOSS Mini1BOSS says...

~3rd Person Perspective~

 Now, in the hall of this huge cave, a cow-headed giant about 3 meters tall, is deftly swinging a huge ax at a young man, which is disproportionate to even the cow-headed giant.

 The name of the cow-head giant is a Minotaur. The 15th floor boss of this dungeon. It has the power to easily destroy four SDF members that had already captured another dungeon.

 However, the ax’s swing could not even scratch the young man in front of it.

 The man in front of it is able to dodge the slashes that are being wielded at a frightening speed. The ax has the strength to instantly kill the young man. However, by using the daggers in his hands. He strikes from the side while the swing slows down. It’s unclear how much force he puts into it, but sometimes the minotaur is pushed back with the same momentum as it swings its weapon.

 The young man sways on the spot as the Minotaur goes into a rage. He is hitting the side of the ax with the dagger in his hand and ducking just enough to avoid the ax. The young man’s expression is quite relaxed, while the overwhelmingly large Minotaur is showing signs of fatigue.

“Let me, brother!” (Girl)

 When he hears a girl’s impatient voice from behind, the man throws a dagger at the eyes of the Minotaur.

“[Impact]!” (Girl)

 The girl’s voice reverberated as she chanted within the cave. Then an explosion between the Minotaur and the young man. It instantly blasted the young man and the Minotaur with overwhelming firepower…

 The owner of the voice just now used one of the types of magic that pursue only firepower compared to other magic, it is known as Explosion Magic.

 The explosion destroyed an arm of the Minotaur, and by the time the smoke subsided, the Minotaur was completely enraged. However, there is still no sign of it dying. Perhaps it was angry due to the pain it received. It swung its ax towards the girl who cast the magic.

 However, a magic circle sprang up on the ground blocking it, and thorny vines sprouted and entangled the Minotaur.

 It is called [Bind], it is a skill that temporarily stops the movement of weak enemies, and it is clearly insufficient in strength to stop the Minotaur’s movement. However, it is enough to stop the movement of the Minotaur.

 The next moment, a sharp blade came, and the Minotaur’s neck was separated from its body.

 The decapitated Minotaur leaves a huge ax and a kilo of meat, before disappearing in a burst of black mist.

 Behind where the Minotaur once stood a scythe wielder stood. He was the young man who was supposed to have been blown up with the Minotaur.

“Thanks, brother. Subjugation complete! Today’s monster quota has been achieved!” (Girl)

 The girl who used [Impact] earlier said in a bright voice without her facial expression changing. In addition, in her hand, she held a weapon with a stick-shaped handle and a spiked iron ball attached to the end. She has a morning star and she then approached the young man with the scythe.

“So tired. What’s with the boss’ drops. Who wants meat and an ax? Also, this is such a ridiculous ax. I already have one. If the Self-Defense Force clears it, many people will cry. It’s a waste to risk your life when the reward is just a stupid ax and meat. Moreover, the ax is plain iron. I don’t know how it would compare to other metals.” (Young Man)

“Well, at least you get a weapon that suits you for the first time. Let’s go home early. We’re having Minotaur beef again today. It tastes better than regular beef, so you won’t get tired of it. So, did your level go up?” (Girl)

“Yeah, it went up. The government has decided that there are should be four people with double the boss’ level to defeat said boss. The boss still didn’t give enough. That’s why it’s hard to level up.” (Young Man)

“ hat’s because our class is bad. Huh, I’m getting frustrated thinking about it. Brother, let’s hunt some more. I’ll be the vanguard. My level is not getting any higher.” (Girl)

“ Geez, seriously. Geez, I really want to go home since I won’t be able to raise my level again by the end of the day anyway.” (Young Man)

 Although the young man complained. He lifts the meter-long ax while giving an “okay”. Before putting it in a small pouch on his waist. The ax, which by all accounts should be impossible to fit through the mouth of the pouch, is completely contained within the pouch, and no one questions what happened.

 Even though they were in a dungeon, the two of them joked and talked casually, before eventually going down to the lower level.

 The door to the dungeon room where the fierce battle had just taken place naturally closed, and nothing was left after the two were gone.

 On the 1st of August, something suddenly happened on planet Earth. Many holes simultaneously appeared in countries around the world.

 All the ordinary people who went inside never returned, and police investigations were conducted.

 What was inside was something like a green-ish child, a translucent moving puddle, and something that looks like a robot made of soil.

 Moreover, when they went inside, they could not use anything that used electricity such as communication equipment. In the midst of this situation, something, which had probably never existed on earth before, somehow assaulted the police, who could no longer use their guns.

 As a result, most of the people who went into the hole disappeared, and only a few people that could be counted on one hand made it out alive.

 In response to this, the government immediately took action and the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) decided to conduct a cleanup operation. [T/N: Self-Defense Forces = SDF.]

 It turned out that modern weapons and electronics were suddenly disabled, so 10 SDF personnel with excellent close combat skills attempted to scout the cave, but none returned.

 While the government is taking action, the cave suddenly turned its fangs against them.

 UMA (Unidentified Mysterious Animal), a hundred or so emerged from the cave, attacking the citizens and the SDF on stand-by.

 Only a few hundred of them attacked around the world at the same time, inflicting only minor damage on the developed countries. However, in developing countries, it caused so much chaos that their governments came to a halt.

 But the damage was not the only thing they brought. The UMAs that were attacking the SDF were obliterated with the firepower of their modern weapons, and the frontline was pushed back inside the dungeon. However, that’s when the problem arose. Once they entered the dungeon, they were unable to fire their guns. The frontline that relied on guns could not go any further.

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 While the SDF members were in a panic, the UMA pushed back and killed the SDF personnel who were fighting. The squad that entered the dungeon was wiped out, leaving a single person behind.

 Since the member was an otaku, he soon reached a conclusion that modern weapons could not be used in the dungeon and physical attacks would are enhanced. He also understood the meaning of what was displayed in his mind when he entered the dungeon. He changed to attacking with just his bayonet attached to his gun.

 At first, it was a harrowing battle, but as he killed more of them, it became a little easier for him to move. The more he killed, the better his movements become. While doing that, the UMA around the survivor disappeared. The survivor immediately left the dungeon and made a report. This was the first time someone survived, after diving into the dungeon.

 No guns or electronics work in the dungeon.

 Defeating UMA through traditional methods within the dungeon will give you strength.

 That strength disappears when you leave the dungeon.

 This information was immediately relayed to other countries, and a cleanup operation using batons and other weapons was launched against the UMAs that appeared, and the situation was brought under control.

 In this way, the incident that came to be known as the “081 Disaster” was truly brought to an end.

 After that, Japan cooperated with the United States to investigate the UMA and dungeons. The United States, which is at the forefront of technology, and Japan, which has mastered otaku culture, are successful in their partnership. In less than a week, various new pieces of information were discovered.

 First of all, the inside of the dungeon was a long cave, but digging around the dungeon entrance did not lead to the inside of the dungeon. The entrance to the dungeon was built in such a way that it rested on an unbreakable pillar of about a meter in diameter that extended far underground.

 They also found out that this small increase in muscle strength was a result of entering the dungeon, and that the increase was reduced by a factor of ten when they left the dungeon.

 They confirmed that a person with a grip strength of 51, defeated UMA inside and the power increased up to at least three times. Moreover, when he tested his grip strength again, it showed 66. However, when he went outside, his grip strength decreased to 52.5. [T/N: The subject increased by 15 (66-51=15) units but was reduced to 1.5 (15/10=1.5, 51+1.5=52.5) units after going out to the surface.]

 As a result, they realized that the only advantage of dungeons at that point is that muscle training becomes easier. It seems that muscle strength, which is not related to the status, does not change when they go outside.

 However, the government decided that it was dangerous to manage several dungeons, blocked all dungeons except Tokyo. However, when the entrance was blocked with concrete, an explosion suddenly occurred from inside the dungeon, destroying the concrete seal, and the dungeon sucked in the surrounding objects with a terrifying force similar to that of a tornado.

 As a result, the SDF personnel who were monitoring the dungeon went missing, and the entrance to the dungeon re-appeared, so it was judged that it was impossible to block the entrances.

 However, since the cause of the explosion could not be determined, a building was constructed enclosing the entrance of the dungeon inside the building after several experiments. It seems that it is okay if there is a space leading to the outside of the dungeon. As a result of repeated experiments that exploded, it was concluded that if a person without special power has the intention to enter the dungeon, the entrance would be forced open by an explosion and the surrounding would be sucked in after a week if you maintain the blockade.

 Therefore, the buildings we equipped with strong unlocked doors and guards present all the time. Soon, this building was named Dungeon Dam.

 With this, the world was made safe again, and the world remembered it not as a great disaster, but as a supernatural phenomenon.

 A cave where UMAs appear suddenly appears in the world. The government officially renamed them Dungeons, and the UMAs living in them were named Monsters.

 In Japan, a total of 10 were found in Hokkaido, Iwate, Niigata, Chiba, Tokyo, Toyama, Osaka, Shimane, Kochi, and Kagoshima.

 It was said that it was difficult to use modern weapons because the monsters wouldn’t feel that their lives were in danger, no matter how much they are gunned down, they wouldn’t stop from pain, and they would only continuously charge.

 All electronic devices become unusable in the dungeon, but extremely weak electrical signals such as the human brain’s was not a problem.

 When entering the dungeon, words appear in your mind and you can choose your class.

 There are 11 weapon classes: Sword, Shield, Fist, Bow, Spear, Club, Trap, Hunting, Magic, Heal, and Enchant.

 In the dungeon, stats and levels are given to individuals, and the power raised in the dungeon is reduced to a tenth when going outside. Moreover, the weight of the equipment you have is also reduced to a tenth outside the dungeon, so people are not crushed the moment they leave the dungeon.

 Skills, however, cannot be used outside the dungeon.

 Dungeon equipment has an appropriate level and cannot be equipped by anyone who does not meet it. To be precise, you will not be able to reduce its weight outside of dungeons, and you will experience symptoms such as dizziness, headache, and ringing in the ears that will not go away as long as you have it equipped.

No Game No Life

No Game No Life

An urban legend states that those exceptionally gifted at gaming will be sent a special game invitation, and the winners of the challenge will be whisked away to another world. When Sora and Shiro, two hikikomori NEETs who happen to be both siblings and notorious gamers, receive this invitation, they defeat it with ease. And like the legends tell, they're transported to another world where conflicts, peoples' lives and even country borders are decided by competitions and games. Always up for a challenge, the pair quickly take on the obstacles that come their way, whether it be restoring lowly humanity's good name compared with the other races or helping influence who will become the next king.

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Mini1BOSS Mini1BOSS says...

“Aaah—”

Everything went dark, and the scenery shifted as if a curtain had fallen over it.

“What…is this place…?” Rain exclaimed, clearly confused. After a short pause, he cried, “Why am I on the battlefield again?!”

He was riding in an Exelia, hidden between the trees. The view was far too familiar for him not to realize he was on a battlefield. This was the Karval Satellite Base, a midsize base positioned in the Northeast. He’d been dispatched here as a reserve soldier in the past, making this his third time visiting the area.

Though that hardly mattered to Rain, who had been in Alestra Academy mere moments prior.

Yes, he was no longer in the safety of his classroom.

Somehow, he had been transported to the middle of a battlefield.

Again… It happened again!

“Whoa, Rain, what’s wrong? You look out of breath all of a sudden,” Athly said to him from the driver’s seat of the Exelia. Her voice was thick with concern, which made sense, since her partner had suddenly gone pale.

“…Athly?”

“Huh, what’s the matter? You nervous after all?” “No…”

There’s no mistaking it…

Rain realized the truth from the way she was acting. Athly seemed to think he’d been here the whole time.

“Then what is it? You look like shit.”

“I don’t look like shit!”

But I definitely feel like it…, Rain thought as he paused for a moment to take a deep breath.

“No… Um, I mean…” Rain trailed off as he paused once again to gather his thoughts. After a short while, he continued with a simple question: “Say, have we been back to school the last few days?”

“Huh? Of course not,” Athly replied. Apparently, they’d been away from school for two whole weeks already.

I think I might be losing it…

Taking out his pocket watch, Rain confirmed the time and date. And just as he’d thought, it was September 9…and the dials indicated that it was around 9:00 AM. That meant it had been mere seconds since that mysterious silver girl had appeared in the classroom and shot Wilson dead.

And that was why he had to ask her the most pressing question on his mind.

“Hey, Athly…” “What’s up?”

“You know First Lieutenant Wilson, right? Our logistics instructor…” This phenomenon was all too hard to process.

“Who? Our logistics instructor is Second Lieutenant Sari.”

“Seriously, get your act together!”

Rain had confirmed his suspicions by questioning Athly. The Karval Satellite Base was currently in a state of alert. It was under the East’s control, but patrolling soldiers had detected western forces nearby. They could have just been scouts, but there was no definitive proof pointing in either direction, so the students had been sent to help shore up the base’s defenses.

Still, no matter how many times he’d heard that story, no matter how many sources he’d checked to verify the facts, he found no indication they had returned to Alestra Academy in recent days. And, of course, no one remembered any bizarre silver girl, either.

“Are there even any regular soldiers left in this base?” Rain asked.

“I think so,” Athly replied. Though after a moment, she elaborated by saying, “But for some odd reason, this base is short on hands.”

For some reason, huh...? Rain knew exactly why. It was because First

Lieutenant Wilson and his company had previously been stationed at this base, which meant that his disappearance had left a void.

So Wilson really is gone…

He had disappeared along with all his achievements.

Goddammit, this is messing me up!

The world had shifted a second time. Rain had been thrown onto the battlefield once again, and he was trying to get a grasp on the situation.

However, the world wasn’t so kind as to indulge him… “Kh…”

A cannon roared in the distance with a sound characteristic of Bullet Magic. Dust and fire dispersed in the air, and despite the distance of the blast, the air around them became heavy with tension. All the soldiers in  the Exelias started their engines, which roared into action.

“We will now allot tags to the cadets.”

A message from a senior officer arrived through the comms.

“You will be given individual orders via intercom! This is live combat, not a test run nor a trial. And as such, you will be treated as a combat unit. Fight to the best of your abilities!”

Code 44. That was the tag allotted to Rain and Athly. Unlike an infantry division, an armored unit of Exelias consisted of several pairs of soldiers. Each pair contained a single manipulator, whose main responsibility was to drive the Exelia, and a gunner, who was in charge of Bullet Magic. Together, they formed the smallest tactical unit on the battlefield. In other words, they formed a partnership in which both individuals shared the same fate. The death of one spelled the demise of the other.

“Codes 7 through 25, move to A3.”

“They’re in the forest! Widen the line of fire!”

Instructions came through one after another.

“Rain!” Athly cried out to warn him. “They’re coming, ten o’clock!”

As soon as she said that, Athly switched gears, turning the vehicle around. A metallic groan resounded as the Exelia activated, sliding rapidly across the terrain on all fours.

The next moment, a form of Bullet Magic called Voldora, or the “Bluefire” spell, burst out from behind them. This particular Bullet Magic produced massive shock waves and unleashed unique blue-colored flames,

covering everything with ash as it tore the ground apart. And from behind that pillar of flames—

“Shit!”

An enemy AT3 suddenly appeared.

“Tch, hang on tight!” Athly shouted as she stomped on the rear pedal to evade, resulting in a sudden brake. The enemy’s bullet whizzed past them at paper-thin margins.

“Shoot them down, Rain!” “I’m on it!”

This was a battle between mages, so the only choice was to counterattack with Bullet Magic. Normal firearms weren’t all that effective against mages, meaning the only real choice was to fight fire with fire.

There’s no chance of us shaking them off, so we have to take them out here.

Hiding in the flames, the enemy swiftly turned to circle around behind them. They were strong. That much was obvious to Rain from how they were moving. Exelia combat began and ended with manipulators predicting each other’s movements.

Those endowed with magical power, regardless of how much of it they had, possessed an ability called Qualia. In simple terms, Qualia was a sixth sense of sorts, an ability to observe the future, which worked most effectively during life-and-death situations. It was this ability that enabled mages to evade bullets moving at supersonic speeds.

Even dozens of soldiers armed with heavy firearms would fail to serve as a distraction against a single mage. Their superior future sight allowed them to evade any ordinary weapon’s line of fire without fail. So a battle between mages was a battle between individuals capable of reading the future, which was why the mage who could see further forward came out on top. In other words, a battle of mages depended on who could position their Exelia better.

I see.

Two seconds.

That was all the time it took for their enemy to cut through the conflagration and get in position, aiming to burn them down the moment they stopped to reload. The new model AT3s easily outstripped older Exelias, forcing them into an unfavorable position in the blink of an eye.

Three seconds.

The enemy gunner would be sure of his victory. He likely believed there was no way for them to retaliate in their older machine.

However— “Sorry, but…”

The next moment…the enemy soldiers were the ones who burst into flames.

“Wha—?” one of them cried out in confusion as the massive blow hit them. They couldn’t comprehend what had happened…and it was hard to blame them.

After all, the bullet had flown in from behind them.

“This is the end, then,” Rain said. “Good-bye,” he added frivolously as he pulled the trigger and activated his magic.

As the enemy soldiers stood there, still dumbfounded, Rain fired bullets laced with the Illuminal Bullet Magic, also called the “Void Splitter,” a spell that could penetrate even steel plates, and they crashed through their driver’s seat windshield and pierced their hearts.

The enemy AT3 stalled with a screech. The shells rolling at Rain’s feet had the names of those two soldiers carved onto them.

The Bullet Magic Rain Lantz had employed was called Pharel, or the “Phantasmal Bullet.”

“Figures the enemy wouldn’t see it coming,” he claimed.

“No one would imagine a bullet would rebound on them. I mean, a spell that deflects and rebounds bullets? Come on!”

“…When you put it like that, it sounds dumb.”

“That’s because it is dumb,” Athly proclaimed. Then she continued to speak, pointing out how no one used it. “Any mage can use the Phantasmal Bullet spell, but no one tries to use it in real combat, because it puts the user in danger of getting hit by the bullet. I think most mages just shoot it off for fun a few times, and that’s it.”

If one were to examine Pharel purely on its mechanics, it looked fairly straightforward. All it did was make bullets rebound. And that simplicity was why it was one of the first things taught to students at Alestra Academy,

alongside how to clean their guns.

Logically, a bullet randomly flicking around the battlefield at supersonic speed was little more than a lethal, dangerous bomb waiting to explode. Predicting its trajectory was too complex, which was why no one tried to make practical use of it.

Still, the fact that it was hard to use meant that so long as it could be controlled, it could become a secret weapon against other mages.

“I’m surprised you can actually make use of it. I’d never be able to pull it off. Is there some trick to reading the trajectory correctly? I’ve never seen you miss.”

“Well, yeah, there is a trick to it. But if it was something I could put into words, everyone would be using it.”

“…Figures.”

The outcome of an Exelia battle was dictated by Qualia. One needed to calculate multiple factors, from information on the enemy, to their surroundings, all the way down to the details of the strategy itself. A good mage needed to piece all of those together individually with their Qualia and base their decisions off the result.

And obviously, one of the most important factors to take into account was the trajectory of bullets, since a mage could use that to avoid enemy attacks. That meant Rain’s trick was rather simple. He simply used Pharel to make bullets whiz about. But when combined with future sight strong enough to predict such complicated patterns…it became a weapon with lethal accuracy.

“Code 44 to HQ. One enemy Exelia eliminated at point B2,” Athly reported.

“Good job. Satisfying results for cadets on a real battlefield. But there are still many enemies left. Change of orders: Code 44 is to proceed to point C1 and join the front line.”

The response came promptly. And with that, the transmission cut off.

“…Maybe I should’ve waited a bit before reporting our success.” “Agreed.”

Unfortunately, it was too late to change their minds. And as such, Athly accelerated the Exelia toward the designated point to offer assistance to their allies. However—

“Ugh…”

When they reached point C1, all they found were corpses. “How many people is this…?”

“…Don’t count. Just confirm the status of their rigs.”

Five allied Exelias had defended this position…and all of them were now scrap. Their thick armor had been peeled away, and the characteristic high- speed legs were bent to the point that discerning their original shape was difficult. The wreckage was smoldering, and the multiple machine guns employed for defense had been destroyed. Only the remains were left to mark the overwhelming loss.

“Shit…”

The enemy has…ten units? Bullshit! Maybe three times that number would explain this.

Right as that crossed Rain’s mind… “Huh?”

…it happened.

“Who’s that…?” Athly asked in confusion. And perfectly understandable confusion at that, because a lone girl was walking over the remains and corpses.

It’s…

No, not just any girl. A lone silver girl with two oversize rifles on her back.

It’s her...!

It was the girl on the forefront of Rain’s mind, the one who’d shot Wilson in the classroom.

What is she doing here...?!

All he could think of in that moment was the silver bullet, as well as the unfamiliar, unknown girl who possessed it.

“…Wait here, Athly. If any enemies appear, I’ll drop everything and come back, understand?”

“Ah, wait—!”

Not sparing an ear for Athly’s attempts to stop him, Rain disembarked from the Exelia, which drew the girl’s attention.

The girl simply watched Rain as he approached her, then she gently hopped off the Exelias’ wreckage, landing with an awfully soft thud. The sound was so light that it seemed the firearms she was carrying carried no weight at all…as if everything about her was made of air. As if she wasn’t

even human.

There was only a short thirty-foot gap between them. And at her back, along with her two cannons, Rain spotted the moonlit night sky.

“Don’t move,” he barked as he pulled out his pistol and aimed it at the girl. After a short pause, he asked, “Who are you?”

“…Why the sudden questions?” “Answer me!”

“…Pipe down, child,” the girl chided him without sparing him a single glance, then continued, “It’s such a still, soothing night. The wind has finally died down, but I keep hearing crackling coming from all over the place. Such a racket… Can’t you children fight a little more quietly?”

“Answer me. Who are you?”

“What is your problem? Why are you so…upset?” She wasn’t giving him the time of day.

…No choice, then. “The silver bullet.” “Oh my…”

Silver… The moment he said that word, the girl’s expression changed. “May as well lay all my cards out on the table, I guess…,” he said. “I’m a

student of Alestra Academy who still remembers First Lieutenant Wilson. I know he still existed earlier today, so I checked to see if anyone else remembered him. But everyone I asked said they’d never heard of him and acted like I was crazy. I could tell they weren’t lying, but I won’t let you say you don’t remember him.”

This silver girl’s presence felt faint, as if she might disappear at any moment along with the flickering pale flames. But Rain didn’t let up, since he knew it was her. He knew that she was the one who had murdered Wilson.

“I saw it. I saw the silver bullet you loaded into his gun before you shot him.”

With his pistol’s muzzle still fixed on her, Rain reached into his breast pocket, pulled out something he’d kept hidden inside it, and presented it to the girl. It was a bullet’s shell that proved Rain had killed Beluk the Butcher. A dull gray shell that yet shined with an uncanny luster.

It was clearly the source of all the strange phenomena around Rain. The name on this bullet was the only remaining evidence that the man had ever existed. And so, with that bullet in hand, he asked the burning questions on

his mind: “Answer me. What the hell is this bullet? Why do people shot with one disappear without a trace?”

How long did that silence last? It was honestly hard to tell. Eventually, however, after acting as if she was pondering all the while…

“Oh, I see. So it’s you…”

…the girl…

“You’re the one who picked me up.”

…said something completely incomprehensible.

Picked…me up?

“Kh…!”

Those words sent shivers down Rain’s spine.

“Well, you look a bit weak, but so be it. Say, what’s your na— Whoa!”

Before she could finish her sentence, Rain fired a single bullet at the girl’s feet.

“What’s the big idea?!”

“I’m the one asking questions here. Answer me. Who are you?” “…Children these days are quite impatient.”

Who’re you calling a child...? You’re definitely younger than I am!

“Petite” was the perfect way to describe her. It was easy to forget her short stature before her powerful sense of pressure, the massive rifles on her back, and her mysterious silver eyes, but it was still impossible to deny.

“Hey, stop talking about children, and just answer the damn question.” “Air.”

“Huh?”

“I am a Ghost, Air.” “Ghost?”

The hell does that mean?

“And I am likely the one with the answers you seek. I can tell you all about the bullet you’re holding, of course, and so much more.”

“In that case—”

“I gave you my name, but you haven’t given me yours. Haven’t you heard of manners? If you don’t tell me your name, I won’t know what to call you.” Air interrupted Rain to chastise his lack of courtesy. Though given the situation, manners were the last thing on his mind.

“I’m Rain. Rain Lantz.” “And your affiliation?”

“Third-year student at Alestra Academy. Currently Code 44 of the cadet corps.”

“Code 44. I see.”

And just as the girl said, “A fine number,” it happened.

“Rain, get back! Hurry!” Athly cried out to him. And at that exact moment, an inferno exploded out from behind them.

“Wha—?”

His field of vision turned red as a deluge of flames rushed by his face.

Damn, it’s hot…

It was a long-distance bombardment from the enemy. “Ugh…”

“Athly!”

The sight of her broken body from the other day flashed before his eyes. But this time, luck was on her side. The bombardment missed its mark, and she avoided a direct hit. But unfortunately, her body jolted violently in the driver’s seat, and she fell limp. The attack had knocked her out.

“…Kh!”

This was an extremely dangerous situation.

What the hell do I do? Rain thought. He couldn’t drive the Exelia on his own. Sure, he could at least move the machine, but it was an armored vehicle that only select elites could drive. Proper use required a great deal of training, so any actual combat measures were impossible on his own. Still, he didn’t have the time to second-guess himself. He could already see the enemy Exelias approaching.

Dammit…

He was out of time. So Rain picked up Athly’s limp body and moved it to the back, vacating the driver’s seat. He had no choice but to take the wheel.

If I’m going to die either way, I should at least—

“Up we go.”

Right when he started steeling his resolve, someone hopped into the driver’s seat instead.

“…Huh?”

“My word, you’re helpless.”

It was the silver girl, Air. She straddled the Exelia’s driver seat as if it was the most natural thing in the world and said, “Let’s move.”

Rain didn’t even have time to object. Within a moment, a jolt swung his

body.

Wha—?!

The Exelia groaned as if it was tearing itself out of the ground, then suddenly began accelerating. The next moment, it braked hard enough to blur their surroundings, and the wheels dug into the ground, moving them forward with a slide.

“Whoa, whoaaaaaa!”

“Keep your mouth shut. You’ll bite your tongue,” Air stated as she adjusted her course to avoid a tree. The vehicle continuously creaked as she rapidly switched gears. Exelias had steering wheels, so simple movements didn’t require extensive training. However, the most unique aspect of the Exelia was the mobility granted by its nature as a quadruped vehicle whose four wheels could each be moved independently. It was the same as operating four unicycles as once.

That was what set it apart from other vehicles. It wasn’t a single unit unified by brakes, a clutch, and gears. Each of its four legs had to be controlled manually to allow for the overwhelming mobility that gave the Exelia its value.

Of course, that required an innate disposition for the task and rigorous training. Even Athly, who had often been praised for her natural talent, needed six months before she could make any sharp turns. And yet…

“Wait, how…? How are you doing this?!”

The silver girl’s skills were impeccable. While maintaining peak speed, she cruised through the dark forest. Switching gears nimbly, she controlled the wheels as if they were her limbs, and she whizzed past the trees as if she were the wind itself.

Who the hell is she...?!

Air was an unfamiliar girl who called herself a Ghost, which was odd enough, but Rain doubted there was anyone in the army who could handle an Exelia as well as she could. She was like a war hero who had lived through countless battlefields. Frankly, the sight was so incredible that Rain was in awe.

“Who the hell are you…?”

“Didn’t you hear me? I’m a Ghost.” “That’s not what I mean!”

“Chatting is fun and all, but could you at least fire a few warning shots?”

At her advice, Rain noticed two enemy units in hot pursuit of them. Air’s driving may have been perfect, but the difference in machine specs was all too real. It was as unfair as an adult joining in on a children’s game of tag. And that unfairness allowed the enemy units to make up for the gap in their piloting skills.

Warning shots...? No way, their machines are far better than ours…

Rain’s hands shivered as they gripped his gun. It seemed his ability to think clearly had faltered in the face of encroaching death. However, her composed voice broke him out of his despair and into action.

“…Hmph. Shaking them off will prove to be difficult, it seems. Well, I suppose this is about as much as I’d expect from this bucket of bolts…,” Air said in a nonchalant manner and then added, “…and a child.”

“Where do you get off calling me a child?”

“I’m going to make a turn soon. Get your next Bullet Magic ready.” “What?”

“If we can’t shake them off, our only option is to fight them.”

The Exelia lurched forward. Her driving was just as perfect as earlier, but the enemy was still closing the distance.

“I’ll turn the rig around and dive straight at the enemy. At that point, they’ll be straight ahead of us. There are four enemies across the two units, but I want you to aim at the gunner in the unit to the right. Match your timing with mine.” Air barked her orders at Rain. And a moment later, she added, “Oh, and the bullet you’ll be using is the Devil’s Bullet.”

Devil’s Bullet...?

“That silver bullet you have. That’s what it’s called,” she explained. “Normally, it’s a special bullet only I can produce, but you had the misfortune of finding some. Make sure you don’t miss.”

As soon as she finished explaining her plan, Air flipped the Exelia around. She used a tree as a spring to do a one-eighty, then rushed toward the approaching enemies.

Holy shit, this lunatic…

There was no turning back, no other chance of survival, which meant Rain had no real choice in the matter.

Oh, to hell with this...!

He loaded the silver bullet, the Devil’s Bullet, into his rifle.

I have to make this shot...!

The enemy reacted swiftly, firing off one Bullet Magic after another. Air avoided a lethal bullet by the skin of her teeth, and then another, leaving the ammunition to burst behind them. The enemy had been so close to hitting them that Rain almost believed Air had dodged by accident.

The next moment, Rain focused his Qualia. It felt as if time had ground to a halt… They were 140 feet away from the enemy as he picked up the enemy’s visage through the scope on his rifle.

It was dark out. Only scant moonlight shined down. But he could still see the one he was looking for illuminated by the raging flames.

There he is…

Rain saw the face of the gunner peeking out from behind the windshield. So he acted according to Air’s instructions. He couldn’t make any sense of the situation, so his best option was to take out the gunner.

Out of habit, he examined his pocket watch. The time was 7:15 PM.

Eat this! he thought as he squeezed the trigger. Suddenly, a whiff of gunpowder filled his nostrils, and recoil ran through his entire body, starting at his index finger. The bullet he’d fired didn’t miss its mark. It exceeded the opponent’s Qualia and lodged itself straight in the enemy gunner’s abdomen.

He couldn’t see the spray of red blood in the darkness, but he could still tell.

He died instantly.

Air braked at the perfect moment, which ended up augmenting Rain’s shot. Like a puppet with its strings cut, the enemy tumbled off the vehicle, hitting the ground and soaking it with blood.

That was when it happened. “Well done.”

As the silver girl’s voice echoed around him… “Ugh…”

…the world swirled and shifted.

And everything faded to black. “        ”

The phenomenon wasn’t as extreme as the previous times. The change hadn’t transported him to an entirely new location. All he’d felt was a swirling sensation of motion.

“…Ah.”

“Oh, you noticed?” “This is…”

“Looks like the battle’s over for now.”

Rain jolted awake, apparently having been seated against a tree in the forest. And right next to him was…

“Athly…!”

“It’s fine—she’s just asleep.”

Like Air said, his partner was sleeping on top of a tree stump. She was unharmed, simply resting due to exhaustion. Nothing seemed off about her.

…I need to calm down and get a handle on the situation.

Checking his pocket watch, he noticed it was 7:15 PM. Less than a minute since he’d shot an enemy gunner who’d been chasing them.

There was no mistaking it. It had happened again.

This is nuts…

Their Exelia was parked beside them. And there, sitting on top of the fuselage, was a silver girl with two large rifles strapped to her back.

“We seem to be pretty far from the front lines,” Air commented. “Well, I suppose everything went as planned.” The girl looked around cheerfully. “Normally, you’d probably contact the East’s headquarters in this situation, but I’ve never been one for plunging headlong into anything, and waiting until we receive further instructions is… Ah!”

“All eastern forces, incoming orders.”

And that was because she was surprised by the orders flowing out through the radio.

“Our enemies are retreating. Victory is ours. However, some details about the situation are still unclear. Codes 3 to 21 are to remain on the front lines. All cadets are to conclude hostilities and return to base.”

—Our enemies are retreating.

—Victory.

—All cadets are to conclude hostilities.

It seemed the battle was drawing to a close. The night raid had concluded.

Did I…end it?

The world had shifted…

This is absurd…

“Really? That’s so boring.” Air seemed upset upon hearing the order to retreat. “I knew I picked the right person to erase, but it feels rather dull when things go this well. Is the West’s condition so shaky that removing one unit is enough to turn the tide? Or are they just a cautious bunch? I wonder what the point of this operation even was… Something feels off.”

The silver girl was whispering to herself, but Rain picked up that she was saying she’d engineered this whole situation. That made perfect sense, as she was the one who’d picked Rain’s target earlier.

“Ugh, what the hell is going on?! You…” “Hmm?”

“Who the hell are you…? None of this makes any sense!”

“Seriously, you’re still asking me that? How many times do I have to tell you?” Air replied as the night wind moved through her lovely silver locks. “I am Air, a Ghost.”

Ghost…

“And I’m also the rightful owner of the Devil’s Bullet you possess.”

The Devil’s Bullet…

“What do you mean by ‘Ghost,’ exactly?” “A dead person.”

Rain knew that much already. The word ghost was rather common, after all. But he couldn’t understand why the girl described herself as one.

Was she saying she was the spirit of a person who had passed away? That description didn’t fit the girl in front of him, as she seemed all too corporeal. Air stood on top of the Exelia, forcing Rain to look up at her, but no matter how hard he looked, he didn’t find any hint of her being dead or transparent.

“What, are you trying to say…you’re not human?”

“Well, I’m not sure what your definition of human is, but I’ve still got my legs.”

“Your legs?”

“Isn’t that what they say in the West? That the dead don’t have legs.” “Huh?”

“See?” Air said as she rolled up her skirt. “Mgh!”

“Ha-ha-ha-ha! What’s with you? I know you’re a cadet, but you’re still a soldier. I didn’t think you’d be this demure!” Air chuckled teasingly. She was laughing at his expense.

“Quit messing with me!”

“I must say, that blush on your cheeks isn’t very intimidating.”

The girl looked down on him as she switched from outright laughter to a smug smirk. That haughty attitude didn’t really fit her girlish appearance, but she seemed to have a mean streak all the same.

This little...!

She had an elusive air about her, and her appearance felt removed from reality. Instead of a child’s innocence, she carried a sense of unperturbed composure that stemmed from accumulated experience.

And she definitely had more life experience than him…a fact that was made all too clear by how Rain had reacted to her rolling up her skirt.

“Don’t look down on me, dammit!” Rain exclaimed as he raised his gaze back to the girl.

“Have another,” Air said as she flashed him a second time, flipping up her skirt.

“Gah!”

This time, Rain got a clear glimpse of her panties.

“Ha-ha-ha-ha! Did you hear yourself?! You actually went ‘Gah’! Who even makes those kinds of noises?! Ha-ha-ha!”

“…I told you to quit messing with me! Look, I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you.”

“Please. If you’re that wet behind the ears, then you’re the one who’s not taking things seriously,” the girl claimed as her cheer was replace by a much more intense glare.

Ugh…

A chill ran through Rain, and he felt goose bumps on his skin. It was an ominous warning that this girl, Air, was far from ordinary. And upon seeing Rain’s reaction, she exhaled audibly.

“Let me ask just in case, then. Do you know anything about the war between the East and the West from one hundred years ago?”

“Huh?”

Why’s she asking that?

“One hundred years ago… You mean the first war?” “Yes, that one.”

Her tone implied that she didn’t expect anyone to remember what had happened. It was the source of the current conflict, so the events that had

transpired were taught in history classes. However, since political affairs and weaponry were so different back then, his teachers never went into too much detail.

One hundred years ago…

“How would I know exactly what happened?”

“It seems the children of this age are far more illiterate than I thought.” “This again…?”

Who’re you calling a child? You’re definitely younger than I am, you stubborn brat! Rain thought, overcome by his anger.

“Well, no matter. Let’s put that aside for now. The important thing here isn’t me, but this,” Air said as she reached into her breast pocket and pulled out a silver bullet.

“The Devil’s Bullet…”

“Right. This bullet has my own personal Bullet Magic sealed into it. It’s called the Devil’s Bullet.”

The light reflected off its lustrous surface, much like it would have with silverware.

“And since you’ve used it more than once already, you probably already know what it does. You may be rather dense, but as they say, the third time’s the charm. Don’t disappoint me, now. This is a test.”

Rain didn’t understand how or why she was testing him, but he intended to answer anyway. In the end, all he could do was form an opinion based on his experiences.

The first time, Rain had shot Beluk the Butcher with a silver bullet, and the world had shifted. The second time, Air had shot First Lieutenant Wilson in the classroom, and the world had shifted again. The third time, Rain had shot the gunner in an enemy Exelia, and the outcome of the battle had changed, concluding the enemy raid.

He’d already considered the possibility, but common sense had kept urging him to discard the notion. But by now, he’d been convinced.

“This bullet…,” Rain said, ready to explain the Devil’s Bullet’s world- changing powers.

“This bullet deletes the very existence of those it kills.” After a short pause…

“Correct,” Air finally replied. “Though to be more precise, it erases everything relating to whoever it kills from this world. That is the power the Devil’s Bullet holds.”

Her explanation sounded rather ridiculous, but Rain didn’t feel the need to cut her off.

“This is my unique form of Bullet Magic. No one else can use it, and even if someone managed to reproduce the methods behind it, no one would be able to activate it. It’s my very own personal brand of Bullet Magic.”

The Devil’s Bullet… A magical bullet that erased a person’s existence. “That explains it…”

They disappeared from everyone’s memories.

“It does more than just erase its victims from everyone else’s memories and records, though. It also undoes everything they’ve achieved in their lives, rendering all their accomplishments null and void. So if, for example, you were to shoot the inventor of the automobile with this bullet, the ensuing world would not have cars, as they had never been created. And if Person B killed Person A, and you shot B with this bullet…the world would shift to one where A survived.”

The Devil’s Bullet eradicated the very existence of anyone it hit, shifting the world into one where that person never even existed.

“The shift to a world without that person is known as ‘Reprogramming.’” “Reprogramming…”

That was the name of the phenomenon that shifted the foundations of the

world.

“Well, this will have to do for tonight,” Air stated as she turned around and started walking away.

“Hey, where are you going?”

“Back. For today, at least. I’ve completed my objective.” “Your objective?”

“Finding you.”

Once again, she said something that made no sense.

Finding…me?

“I transferred into Alestra Academy for that purpose. Though I did want

to get rid of that useless officer while I was at it. Originally, hundreds would’ve died in vain here because Wilson prolonged the battle for no reason, but now it’s peaceful.”

The girl walked away, praising herself on a job well done. However, Rain did not intend to just let her go on her merry way. She still hadn’t explained everything that had happened to him thus far.

Rain set off after the retreating girl, jogging to catch up. Thankfully, she was walking at a leisurely pace, so he closed the gap within ten seconds. But right when he reached out to grab her shoulder…

“Ah!” screamed Rain as his body was lifted off the ground and flung back down.

“Ugh, that hurts!”

“Don’t touch me,” Air muttered in a voice cold enough to freeze the blood in Rain’s veins. “I may be a Ghost, but I have the same flesh as you. I get tired after running; I can sweat, and I can die of starvation. But that does not give you the right to lay your hands on me.”

—Don’t touch me.

—I have nothing in common with a human like you. Rain could immediately tell he had been rejected.

What...?

However, he was also sensing a kind of dissonance.

Where the hell did that come from...?

Her reaction seemed unnatural. Sure, Air had always treated human lives flippantly and referred to most people as fools. But this? It felt excessive. Though in a way, it was the first truly human reaction Rain had seen from her.

Something’s…

Something was wrong. She had to have a specific reason she hated people touching her.

“Whatever, it’s fine.”

Before Rain could dwell on the matter, Air dispelled the tension.

“We’ll meet again soon enough. Until we do, keep training your Bullet Magic and get used to combat.”

“Wait, I still have some questions.”

“Oh, and get used to being around girls, too.” “……”

“I hope the next time we meet, you’ll be mature enough to not go red at the sight of a girl’s panties. All right, Rain Lunch?”

With that teasing farewell, Air walked off into the forest, and silence settled over the area once more. Even the sound of the wind felt fainter than before.

“…Who’re you calling Lunch?”

I’m not your damn food. It’s Lantz, dammit! Rain Lantz!

“…Ah, shit.”

Now alone, Rain could only look inward to make sense of what she’d told him.

A Ghost. The Devil’s Bullet. Bullet Magic that erases people’s existence and shifts the fabric of the world…

“What the hell?”

Five minutes later, Athly woke up, and they made their way back to base.

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