< Devil Hunter and Wargrave (Part 1) >
The next day…
The armored vehicle was ready to go, and it was time for the team to depart. Leona did not look happy or sad.
“Shouldn’t you be saying bye to your friends?”
“Eh. Not really.”
Leona was planning to leave without notice. And she did not know how to handle farewells. However, as Zin was finishing up with packing, he said to Leona in a serious tone, “Make sure you say goodbye to them.”
“You will regret later on.”
Zin was strongly suggesting that it would be better to say goodbye whenever there was a chance. It was better to bid farewell so that Leona would not regret on skipping it.
It was an advice from someone who had experienced many farewells, and Leona nodded as she looked at Zin. She believed that what Zin said was true.
“Okay then… I’ll be right back.”
“Come to the armored vehicle station. People will give you directions when you ask them.”
Leona nodded and headed outside the room. It was not too hard to locate Sara. She was on schedule, and it was break time right after breakfast time. Sara was near Leona’s room and was waiting for Leona to come out.
Sara stood up, and all other kids walked up to Leona. The kids loved listening to Leona’s stories about the wilderness. They asked many questions as Leona talked about her stories.
“Let go to school together. It will be fun.”
Sara was planning to take Leona to the school where the kids were educated. Children at the fortress were assigned to different roles based on their skill sets. Sara looked certain that Leona was going to remain at the fortress.
But Leona already made up her mind. However, she was not sure how she would break the news to Sara and the kids.
“I am planning to leave.”
“…” As Leona finished talking, there was a long silence.
“You are lying, right?” Sara asked in disappointment.
“No, I can’t stay here.” Leona didn’t explain her reason in detail, nor could she, really. The decision that she made was illogical.
Sara asked Leona again with a trembling voice, “Did you not have fun with us? Is it much better out in the wilderness?”
“No, I really enjoyed playing with you all. I mean it.”
“Then, why are you trying to leave out to the wilderness?”
Sara was not able to understand Leona. She wondered why Leona was leaving a good environment behind and opting to head out to the tough wilderness. As Leona looked at Sara, who was not able to understand what was going on, Leona realized that she was very different from these kids.
These kids only worried about the entertainment they enjoyed, and they were different from her. And even though she knew that she shouldn’t be thinking this way, she thought that the kids were too naïve.
Sara started to tear up and held Leona’s hands.
“Please don’t go, yeah? If you stay here, you can get all the things you want. You told me that the food here was great, and that you loved all the games here.”
But Leona shook her head. “I have something more important.”
“What is that?”
“I can’t… explain it exactly though.” Leona was not confident that she would be able to clearly explain how she wanted to be next to Zin. Leona smiled bitterly as she said, “But I don’t have that something here in the fortress.”
Leona had something more important outside in the wilderness, so she determined that she could not remain in the fortress. Leona held Sara’s hands and said, “Thank you so much!”
Leona was speaking from the bottom of her heart. Leona looked at the kids and smiled. She had a smile that resembled that of an adult. “I really mean it.”
The kids were attracted to Leona who was an outsider and a kid. And although the kids could not describe their feelings, they knew something was different.
Thank you, and I mean it.
It was not something that a kid would express to others. The kids thought that Leona was a kid more mature than them, a mature adult. Sara and the kids were not able to tell her to stay in the fortress anymore.
The stranger from the wilderness was simply a stranger. They realized that Leona was someone from a different world.
Leona thanked each kid and said goodbye. Leona was following Zin’s direction by bidding farewell to each kid.
The youngest kid waved his hand and started to cry. Leona smiled and shook his hair with her hand. “Stop crying, you crybaby.”
Leona tried to smile even though she felt sad. As the first kid started to cry, the rest of the kids started to cry as well. Sara looked gloomy, but she didn’t scream or yell.
Sara was a good natured girl. She wanted to be with Leona, but she thought that it was right to let Leona go if she had to leave.
“Goodbye…” But Sara was a kid after all, so she couldn’t hold back her tears. Leona thought that she was going to be late if she stayed too long to comfort the kids.
“Thank you so much everyone, I will miss you all.” Leona felt the warmth from these kids. Leona was leaving the fortress, but she was going to remember their brief time here.
“I believe that this world isn’t such a bad place after seeing you guys.” Leona talked liked an adult as she was talking to relatively younger kids, and was sincerely thankful.
These were people who did not have any animosity. Leona was glad that she was able to meet such people at the fortress.
“Okay, bye for now!” Leona turned around and started running.
Sara and the other kids did not run after Leona. They all stood still and watched her go away. The kids were meant to stay inside the fortress, and Leona was determined to go outside to the wilderness.
And although it was a brief time together, the kids realized that they could not live together with outsiders.
Just as Leona learned something by meeting the kids, the kids also learned something by meeting Leona. The kids and Leona learned about relationships through their farewell.
Leona arrived at the armored vehicle station, and was amazed at the lines of armored vehicles and tanks. Many people were fixing and doing maintenance work on the vehicles.
Zin first spotted the approaching Leona. Ramphil, Zin and the Warlord were observing the maintenance work on the armored vehicle.
“Did you get to say goodbye to your friends?” Zin asked.
Leona replied with a bright voice,“Yeah!”
The Warlord looked bitter as he glanced at Leona, who was getting ready to leave. But he didn’t talk. He respected the decision of the executor, as well as Leona’s decision. Once the armored vehicle was lifted up by the elevator, it would mean time to bid farewell to the fortress.
The AV now had loading section as well as a new turret operated by a person.
“Our technicians worked all night to install a plasma gun. Even if the energy is used up, you can refill by using a chip. I hope this will help with your journey.”
The plasma gun was strong enough to blow up any monster. It was great that they had acquired a new vehicle and a new weapon.
“Thank you so much, Warlord.”
The technicians finished the last inspection and came down.
Ramphil thanked them personally. Leona got into the vehicle, followed by Zin. Their luggage was already loaded into the vehicle.
“Executor, I hope you accomplish what you plan to do.”
“Let’s hope so.”
The executor gave up pursuing the undercover operative in order to hunt the White Witch. Ramphil had to accomplish what he was ordered to do. Ramphil saluted, and the technicians and the Warlord returned it.
Leona was amazed at the scene for a split moment.
“Let’s go now,” Ramphil said as he climbed aboard.
A conveyor belt started to move the vehicle to the elevator. Their stay at the fortress was short, but Leona felt like she had been there a couple of months.
She realized that she would probably never come back to this place.
“This place should be safe, right?” Leona asked worriedly, and Zin replied with his arms crossed.
A fortress was the safest place in the wilderness. It was still the safest place in the middle of a war.
Leona was not used to parting ways with good friends, and she kept on looking back at the station through the doors.
The team was heading up north after they left the fortress. She sat in the storage area, and looked unhappy.
“This vehicle is still bumpy. How is this different from the previous one?” she demanded crossly.
“… What did you expect?” Zin shot right back.
The ride was going to be bumpy on a dirt road even though the vehicle had perfectly fine suspension.
“Oh well. This is bearable.” Leona could bear the bumpy ride this time around. The team was fully replenished and ready to head to the Heavenly Power castle. While Leona was moving around in the vehicle to feel comfortable, Zin took something out from the void storage.
“… What is this thing?”
Zin passed over an aluminum box. Inside the box, there were several objects wrapped with white cloths. Leona couldn’t figure out what they were. Zin unwrapped the objects, and started to assemble something.
As Leona looked at what Zin was assembling, she was able to figure out what it was.
“Is that a gun?” she asked softly.
The assembled gun was an AKM with a detachable stock. Zin passed the assembled AKM over to Leona.
“Now throw away your old crappy rifle.”
“Wait… are you giving this to me?”
The custom AKM was smaller in size, and the stock was shorter. And more than anything, it was very lightweight. It was too small for an adult to use it, mostly because the AKM was not a rifle for adults.
“It’s made out of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, and it’s going to be very light. But it’s less sturdy, so you can’t shoot in bursts. You should be able to carry it around and shoot it.”
“It’s really… light.” Leona lifted up the rifle and was surprised at how light it was. “But you made this?”
“Yes, at the Wargrave manufacturing facility.”
Zin didn’t just replenish his ammunition. He hypnotized the technician who was following him with sorcery, and created an AKM. He hid the AKM in his void storage, and did not get caught.
It was a gun that was custom-built for Leona.
“It really feels comfortable. It’s great!”
Rifles were usually heavy. However, the new rifle was made with lightweight material. Technically, the rifle could be fired in burst mode, but it was not recommended because the barrel would not be able to handle the burst shots.
Leona looked at the new rifle and Zin. She thought it was funny that Zin made this new rifle and still suggested she remain at the fortress. “Mister… you are really not honest with yourself.”
“… Shut up.”
Zin seemed to feel shy about the situation, and he avoided eye contact with Leona. Ramphil naturally saw everything, but didn’t seem to care about the fact that Zin used the manufacturing device without authorization. He kept on driving the armored vehicle without a word.
Leona’s AKM was built to use 5.56mm ammunition. Its size was more like a sub-machine, with a longer barrel. Zin taught Leona how to disassemble and reassemble the rifle. He skillfully disassembled and reassembled the rifle in the back of the bumpy AV.
“A rifle will not operate at all if it’s missing any single part. So be careful to not lose any parts.”
Zin taught her how to assemble and disassemble the rifle, how to remove a stuck bullet in the barrel, and how to clean it. Leona knew about all this from watching Zin, and she learned quickly. Zin ordered Leona to disassemble and reassemble the rifle first.
“Why do I need to do this?” Leona did not understand why she had to repeat these steps.
“If a kid like you is carrying around a rifle, people will be attacking you to steal the rifle. This will be especially true when you are travelling in a city. Make sure you disassemble the rifle and put it in your bag. Assemble the rifle when you need to use it.”
“I guess you are right.” A kid carrying around a rifle visibly was an open invitation for others to steal the rifle. Zin wanted Leona to learn how to disassemble the rifle so that she could hide it when she was travelling.
“That’s the bolt carrier, that’s the hammer, and this is the barrel…”
“Oh no! It’s rolling away!”
It was a chaos trying to teach Leona while on a bumpy ride.
In the end, Zin had to stop the training after letting Leona try a couple of times. Zin was worried that Leona would lose valuable parts of the rifle.
Leona cocked the rifle, and tried aiming it. She was trying to get used to the rifle as much as possible. A gun was a very important weapon for survival, and there was no harm in getting used to using a gun.
Zin was also planning to teach Leona how to zero in on a target once they got to a safe place.
After inspecting the rifle for a while, Leona said, “Thank you!”
“… Very unlike you.” Zin avoided eye contact with her, and Leona scratched her cheeks as she was getting shy as well.
Then, Leona thought of something and shouted, “That’s right! Mister, do you know about this game, ‘War of the Wasteland’?”
“… What is that game?” Zin replied as he didn’t know what she was talking about. As Zin was puzzled, Leona shouted at Ramphil.
“Ramphil! Do you know about the game?”
“It’s a video game in the fortress. I never played it though.”
“… All ordinary people seemed to have played that game in the fortress?”
“Well then. I must not be an ordinary person.”
Leona was rendered speechless after listening to Ramphil’s simple reply.