“Well then, the Machine Dragon match between the New Kingdom’s First Princess Lizsharte and the Old Empire’s Seventh Prince Lux is about to begin.”
At the same time as the voice of the teacher referee, the stage was wrapped in cheers and seething emotions.
The Drag-Ride practice field located in the school premises;
Fenced in with a circular stone wall, there was a broad ring spreading out to a mound.
At the center, Lizsharte and Lux were facing each other.
The ring at the center was low and the shape, which was loftier the more it went to the exterior, was reminiscent to that of the Coliseum of old times.
Strong lattices were stretched on the spectator seats, and in addition, several Drag-Knights constantly deployed barriers in order to protect students, so viewers did not have to worry about being affected.
As Lux looked around, not only a large number of female students, but even instructors seemed to have come to watch this duel which was supposed to be a private battle.
“I wonder why so many people have gathered…”
Under the watchful eyes of a great number of the school’s staff, Lux became nervous.
I see that all of them have a little too much time to spare.
He was selfishly made an actor of an amazing show, but…
“Do you want to know the reason? Lux Acadia. The reason why I challenged you to a duel.”
Standing in front of Lux, Lizsharte fearlessly smiled.
Both of them had not yet donned their Drag-Rides.
Wearing a “dress gear”, clothes which fitted on the body and were suitable for wearing a Drag-Ride, they were standing stock still on the ring.
After the match preparation was completed, they drew their Sword Devices and at the same time that the referee checked that they had mutually connected their Drag-Rides, the signal of the duel beginning would be given.
The rules used here were almost the same as those used at the tournament of the capital though.
“––Is it because I’m a Prince of the Old Empire?”
To the princess right before him, Lux asked.
The Old Empire which had spread a tyrannical rule for more than 100 years, and forced people to comply to the trend and system of androcracy.
The New Kingdom Princess would want to knock down the fallen Prince who was a survivor of that Empire.
Gender and nation. A duel which conceived both bonds.
From a spectator’s point of view, there might certainly not be a more eye-catching show than this.
“I will tell you if you defeat me.”
Lux was very concerned about this.
Was it really only because of that?
Lizsharte was certainly a belligerent girl.
But, shortly after Lux fell into the bathroom and pinned her down that time, the gaze which she directed towards him –– was not just that of shame.
“Um, may I confirm one thing before the fight?”
“What? Did you get frightened? It will be unsightly to beg for your life at this late hour.”
“Begging for my life…? So you really intend to kill me!? …It’s not that I want to talk about. Um, if it’s a draw, could we make it as if this match didn’t happen?”
A moment of silence.
Suddenly, Lizsharte’s atmosphere changed.
“Fufufu. Is it my imagination?”
To Lux’s question, Lizsharte brushed up her honey-colored forelock and smiled.
“We’re already at this stage, and I have the impression of hearing sleep-talking.”
“It’s not sleep-talking, I’m seriously––”
“I see. Then, that’s good.”
Lizsharte narrowed her eyes and put the handle of her Sword Device in her hands.
“If you can say that after being aware of my true identity, then that’s still good.”
Her piercing gaze gave a shiver to Lux.
That child is definitely not an ordinary Princess!
“Player Lux, get ready for the connection!”
At the same time, the teacher referee urged Lux.
Lux reluctantly pulled out his Sword Device.
From one of the sheaths of two different colors; the white one,
“Come forth, the Branded Wing Dragon which is the symbol of power. Obey my sword and fly, <Wyvern>.”
While holding the button attached on the hilt, he shouted.
The pass code in order to transfer a Machine Dragon before oneself.
The silver lines of the sword blade which recognized the contractor’s voice wore a blue-white light.
*kiin*. Particles of light gathered before Lux and a blue Machine Dragon appeared.
As he muttered again, the armor instantaneously opened and covered Lux’s body.
The head, both arms, shoulders, waist, legs and the wings and armaments.
The dress gears which were similarly excavated from the ruins efficiently conducted the energy from the Force Core and protected the equipped parts (of the body) as it also generated a powerful barrier, different from a common barrier, on its surface.
The machine armor which imitated a dragon was equipped as if uniting with Lux and he became a Drag-Knight of about two sizes bigger than the body of the person himself.
Ancient weapons excavated from the ruins.
That power which concealed a great military power was however quickly engulfed by a huge pressure on the opposite side.
“Is that other sword just for decoration? Lux Acadia.”
At that instant, Lux opened his eyes wide.
Lizsharte’s body was covered with a red Machine Dragon which he had never seen before.
The outward appearance was completely different from that of the three types commonly known as General-purpose Machine Dragons, that is, Flying-type Machine Dragons (Wyvern), Ground-type Machine Dragons (Wyrm) and the Customized-type Machine Dragons (Drake).
A red Machine Dragon much huger than Lux’s appeared in front of him.
“New Kingdom royal family personal unit. Divine Drag-Ride –– <Tiamat>. This Machine Dragon is on an entirely different level from those you know.”
It’s a rare species of Drag-Ride whose existence had only been confirmed for each species in the world.
Its airframe performance was far above that of a general-purpose Machine Dragon.
But––, at the same time, the consumption of both spiritual and physical strength and the processing degree of difficulty were also in a different league.
The possessing of a Divine Drag-Ride, where it would not be strange even if one were to die when using it, was severely restricted by the New Kingdom, and its use was only permitted to those with suitable ability.
In other words, the fact of being able to use it was proof of a peerless talent and unremitting efforts.
However––, while being aware of that fact, Lux remained calm.
(It’s all right. ––I should still have a chance.)
Lux’s <Wyvern> was a basic general-purpose Machine Dragon, but its parts and armaments had been remodeled with a specialization in defense.
In the capital, the skill of the one called the “Weakest Undefeated” who managed the largest number of mock battle and yet had never suffered one defeat in a match.
Even if he were to have a Divine Drag-Ride as an opponent, he should be able to hold out somehow.
The audience which was lively and excited fell silent.
The high-pitched sound of the bell echoed to the ring as if to break the atmosphere which was strained to the limit.
“Mock Battle, Start!”
At the same time with the referee’s voice, the two Drag-Rides began to move.
It was Lizsharte wearing <Tiamat> that flew first.
At the same time that the red Machine Dragon which bore the name of a Goddess handed down from the ruins flew up to the sky, she set up the Breath Gun –– the large gun in her right arm that was the Machine Dragon personal (exclusive) armament.
Lux drew out his Machine Dragon blade and tried to chase Lizsharte in the sky with his <Wyvern> which also possessed the flight function, but when he saw her setting up the Breath Gun, he stopped his movements in mid-air.
“No way, does she intend to shoot it right from the start…?”
So to speak, the main armament which envisioned strong flames harking back to a Dragon’s breath.
A blow with a high temperature and impact, that loads the energy from the Force Core which is the power source and releases it. It held power, enough to easily blow up one building.
But, there was the part which required a “charging” until the firing and one could make enough distance for an evasive action; that a defensive stance could be taken was the flaw.
Actually, even Lux had currently taken a suitable distance enough to be able to evade it.
Therefore, the opening in a one-to-one fight was not something which one should quickly aimed at, but––
As if reading the intention of Lux, Lizsharte laughed.
And, the cannon’s sight which was originally aimed at Lux abruptly deviated slightly sideways,
A light beam of high temperature with undulation was shot from the sky straight toward the ring on the ground.
But, it was of course, not aimed at Lux, so he would not be hit as long as he did not move.
Is it intended for a threat or a warm-up?
To Lizsharte’s incomprehensible action, Lux’s body slightly stiffened.
Lizsharte who was far in the sky looked down at Lux and swerved her mouth.
In her right hand was the cannon which fired just now.
And her left hand––, was holding the hilt of the Sword Device.
The Sword Device was one of the control sticks to mentally operate a Machine Dragon and its armaments, in other words––
Suddenly, a shock as if being hit by a large hammer ran down Lux’s flank.
He was flipped aside and thrust away along with the <Wyvern>.
In other words, Lux was pushed out to the trajectory of the original bombardment which Lizsharte shot by deliberately deflecting her aim!
An inescapable timing where he was completely taken by surprise.
Although the armor of Lux’s <Wyvern> had been tuned to be relatively thick, it would end with a single blow if he were to receive the attack of the main armament with its maximum output head on.
Lux instantly set up his blade diagonally so as to use it like a shield for the bombardment.
He fully poured energy from the Force Core and equipped it on the blade.
Originally, it was an ability to amplify destructive power, but by doing so, he would deflect the power of the bombardment and he himself would also be flipped off from the trajectory of the bombardment.
Objects of high speed came flying while aiming at Lux who was blown off and was rotating in the air.
As he quickly swung the partially damaged blade and flicked off the four flying objects, they stopped in the sky and returned to Lizsharte’s surroundings.
“Hmm. You’re better than I thought.”
Lizsharte wearing <Tiamat> looked down at Lux and fearlessly smiled.
A little away around her, four huge arrowhead-shaped objects were floating.
“I never thought that you would escape my attack with only a sword, handling from that posture. It really hurts my pride. Should I say as expected of the “Weakest Undefeated”?”
“W-What did you just––!?”
Looking up at Lizsharte in the sky, Lux sweated.
“What’s wrong? You’ve probably heard about my special armaments from your little sister, haven’t you?”
“T-That’s right, but––”
A special armament which only a Divine Drag-Ride could use.
Lux had also heard from Airi about the special armament <airborne fortress (Legion)> that <Tiamat> possesses.
There were long-range throwing weapons of small streamlined metals which were controlled and held a propulsive strength themselves.
Usually four of them were equipped to the airframe; after launch, the units could freely move, and directly impact damage to the enemy.
Of course, Lux also intended to be cautious because of that troublesome disposition, but––
(But, no matter what, that way of using them––)
At the same time as the start signal, Lizsharte had launched the <airborne fortress (Legion)> to the side while flying, so that they would not be noticed by Lux. In addition, she aimed the Breath Gun at Lux.
A Divine Drag-Ride exceeded a general-purpose Machine Dragon in terms of output and efficiency.
When suddenly being aimed at by the main armament, anyone would focus his attention there.
As she deflected her aim to the side and fired and attracted Lux’s attention towards his right side, she threw the <airborne fortress (Legion)> which she made take a detour from the left side so that they escaped his field of vision; then, she pushed him into the original trajectory of the main armament’s maximum output and attacked him.
A one shot kill strategy.
Devil like tactics without any mercy.
What was frightening above all else was that there was no stagnation (moment of pause) at all to this series of actions.
No matter how excellent the tactics were, as long as there was any unnatural movement, it was possible to perceive and avoid them.
But, even in the mock battles in the capital, Lux had almost never fought against this kind of opponent so far.
Is she really a Princess of the New Kingdom? That child––
“Old Empire’s Seventh Prince, Lux Acadia.”
When Lux was recovering his balance, Lizsharte’s voice came down.
“Honestly, I underestimated you, but I take back what I said. You aren’t bad. Just a little, I’m impressed. That’s why I’ll take this opportunity to say it now. You’d better release (disarm) that <Wyvern> which is about to break and use that other Sword Device.”
It was a tone of voice which contained a deep affection and which was somewhat gentler than before.
A small stir came from the surrounding audience seats.
“I don’t know what kind of Drag-Ride it is, but it should be better than that partially destroyed one. Show it to me, your full strength.”
“…Um. Then, may I again say one thing?”
To Lizsharte’s words, Lux looked up at the sky.
The blade which was Lux’s main weapon was already partially destroyed and the defense armor was also shaved off to one third, so it could no longer generate a complete defensive barrier.
The remaining equipment of his <Wyvern> was one Breath Gun for barrage shooting, three Machine Dragon claws blades (daggers) for close range combat as well as for throwing, and also one Wire tail for medium-range.
None of them was a weapon which could pierce through the defensive barrier and thick armor of <Tiamat>.
“I’m sorry––. I can’t use this sword.”
Even so, with a composed attitude Lux said that.
“So, if it becomes a draw at this rate, could we come to an agreement regarding this matter? Honestly, I’m tied up with other jobs. S-Sorry for the b-bath. I apologize––”
Lizsharte’s eyebrows became stiff from Lux’s words.
And, not only her cheeks, but also her whole face became red and the whole Machine Dragon’s body shook.
Of course, Lux was speaking seriously.
But, she probably thought that she was being underestimated.
“Oh, I see. It sounds as though you’re not an ordinary –– BUT A BIG FOOL!”
Lizsharte suddenly hung up her Sword Device to the sky and shouted.
“<Tiamat>! Reveal your real nature!”
At the same time as her voice, a big noise spread like ripples around the audience seats.
Immediately after, a dazzling light ran around <Tiamat> and something was transferred (summoned).
It was an auxiliary armament whose use was usually avoided because the burden (put on the body) was great.
It was a main armament two times bigger than the cannon set up a little while ago. That was linked –– connected to <Tiamat>’s right shoulder and right arm.
A huge gun barrel which had seven muzzles.
The Goddess Tiamat not only gave birth to an army of demons and controlled them, but she also turned herself into a seven-headed dragon.
Lux had only heard about that auxiliary armament which was called <Seven Heads> from Airi, but––.
“Are you good at dancing? Lux Acadia.”
An absolute confidence and an intimidating smile.