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As soon as they caught sight of Michelle, Karman and his men saluted her and bowed their heads.
Michelle saluted back.
There was a nervousness in the room then, but it was promptly erased with Veldora’s boisterous laugh.
“Kaaaahahaha! Did you say your name was Michelle? Well, you seem very important indeed! See? It seems that my plan to use Karman as bait has worked after all!! My name is Veldora! This is perfect. You will—”
Zaza and the others heard these calm and arrogant words and turned pale in an instant.
Not only the resistance, but Karman and his men were wide-eyed.
“Be-be quiet, you idiot!! Shut up. You are just useless, so shut up!!”
Zaza frantically tried to close Veldora’s mouth.
Ramiris looked amused as she shrugged her shoulders.
Beretta just sighed quietly.
Michelle’s name was well-known throughout the resistance.
The Machinery Four. The flash of light on the battlefield.
It was no wonder she was called Bakusenhime.
It was said that with her combat abilities, she could take on an army corps alone.
And so Michelle had no guards.
Not only did she not need them, but they would only get in her way.
If you made such a person angry, they would be able to turn this hideout into rubble in a second.
And so it was no surprise that Zaza and the others were so afraid.
“I am…shocked. I have only been here for two days and your treatment of me only gets worse…”
Veldora started to sulk, but Zaza took no notice.
“It’s because you never listen to others!!”
He shouted, and Veldora went silent.
Zaza had learned how to handle Veldora in just one day.
There was no point in being kind to him.
Not only that, but you had to tell him clearly, or he would interpret things in his own way or expand on them in order to fit his own desires.
Zaza knew this because he had experienced it.
They had already treated Veldora as if he were unimportant, but they now had to treat him as a problem child.
“Hmph! Do not bother me!”
“You idiot! If we leave things to you, it will only lead to disaster!”
“Grrr. How dare you speak to me like that…”
They continued in this fashion.
(Damn, damn! If I weren’t an adult, I would drown you in a sea of blood!)
Veldora said through bitter tears.
He had lost the argument and realized he was going to lose the opportunity to get the spotlight once again…
“Hehe. You scum. As is befitting for such bugs who live underground, you have swarmed around this trash-like food.”
Michelle’s words changed the situation.
Some children began to cry after hearing her cold declaration.
And so the adults hurried forward in order to protect them.
They knew it was hopeless, but they wanted to buy time.
However, Michelle ignored them and turned to Karman and his men.
And then she raised a finger to her lips-
“Hmph. You traitors. You are no longer worth keeping alive as servants of the Empire. Now die!!”
She said with a voice that held no emotion.
And then she closed one eye and signaled to Karman.
“…!! D-damn it!! We-we haven’t betrayed…!!”
Karman started to shout frantically.
Michelle nodded quietly.
And then she snapped her fingers.
In an instant, purple lightning flashed. It struck right next to Karman and his men and exploded.
They shouted. It wasn’t so much the explosion, but their own reflexes that threw them to the ground.
While they were very loud, something about their movements seemed fake.
“Hehe. That is what you get for bringing shame to the Empire. Now that they are gone, it is time to wipe out the threat. Which one is Beretta?”
Michelle said after lightly glancing at Karman and his men.
It was pretty clear that they weren’t dead, but Michelle did not seem to mind.
Sharma and Rindo noticed it and wondered if Michelle was also acting.
What if-they gulped. No, they should wait and see how this would play out.
“I am Beretta…”
Beretta said after Michelle looked back and forth between him and Veldora.
He knew that nothing good would come from making Veldora wait.
However, this opponent was of the Awakened Demon Lord class, which exceeded himself.
Though, strength wasn’t just about the amount of energy, so you could not tell who was stronger until you fought. And so backing down here would be the same thing as admitting defeat.
But more than that, Beretta was able to see that she was just acting.
(While I may be able to go along with it, I am not sure about Lord Veldora…)
Beretta was quite worried about this.
After all, Veldora was never good at reading the atmosphere—he was that much of an airhead.
If he left things to Veldora here, there was a possibility that he would make her angry for real.
However, Veldora appeared as if he had reached his limits in terms of discontentment…
In any case, it was a dangerous gamble.
(This is a most unexpected dilemma. Perhaps I should have flattered Lord Veldora a little.)
Beretta thought with regret.
But here, an unexpected person lent out a saving hand.
“Hehe. Then that means there are two people that I cannot ignore. No, if anything, it is you who are the truly dangerous one. May I ask you your name?”
Nice! Beretta thought.
Michelle’s treatment did much to restore Veldora’s mood.
“Hehehe. Kahaha. Kahahahahaha!! Very good. You are a smart one. Yes, a clever woman who recognized that I was special with just a glance. Good. I shall tell you, then. I am Veldora! Friend of the Great Demon Lord Rimuru and the strongest of dragons. They call me ‘Storm Dragon,’ Veldora Tempest!!”
Ta-daaa! Veldora said in a grand voice.
He took advantage of his sisters’ absence and claimed to be the strongest of the dragons.
Veldora was very pleased with himself.
He was happy.
He was so happy that he was becoming teary-eyed.
(Hehehe. Now people will know just how cool I am. Adults and children alike will grovel at my majesty!)
He was drunk on himself and drowning in his delusions.
Now that Veldora was happy, he continued to talk to Michelle.
“So, Michelle, was it? What do you want? As I am in a good mood, I will listen to whatever you have to say!”
Everyone who watched became pale by his attitude.
It was not known if Michelle would act like this for long. It would not be surprising if she suddenly became very hostile.
But there was no one who could react in time.
This was because no one would have ever believed that someone could act like his in front of a Mercenary Four.
No one could have imagined that anyone would try so hard to provoke and anger her.
Well, perhaps he was not provoking her that much. It wouldn’t have seemed like it if she were an ordinary person.
But she was the leader of the Empire.
They were not sure what reaction would be had from such insolence from a nobody like Veldora.
And so they could only watch it unfold.
“It is nothing really. I just thought I’d nip things in the bud before they turn into a disaster for the Empire.”
“Hehehe. In other words, you mean to kill me?”
“You can take it in whichever way you like.”
Michelle and Veldora took no notice of the spectators as they continued their conversation.
Neither seemed very eager. It was as if they were talking about the weather.
But Zaza watched with a feeling that reminded him of an upset stomach, even though he didn’t have one.
He was waiting for the right time where he could enter the conversation and change the subject.
It was just as Zaza tried to interrupt them, that Ramiris began poking him in the shoulder.
And then she whispered.
“Um, this is just my opinion. But we better let Master do something soon, or he’ll get angry, which will be very bad… Besides, I don’t think that person is serious. Why don’t we just let him handle things this once?”
Zaza reluctantly agreed.
He wasn’t persuaded by her argument, but he felt that it would do Veldora good to feel a little pain.
After all, Michelle suddenly looked very different.
There was something very overpowering about her now, and Zaza could not even open his mouth.
Ramiris was also surprised and wide-eyed.
Beretta quickly moved to protect Ramiris.
He felt that the air around Veldora had changed. The other adults also started to move the children away…
And when they were done…
“So, are you ready? Give it all you got. I will show you how outmatched you are!”
Michelle had come out herself for a certain purpose.
After hearing the report from Colonel Gratham, she had waited anxiously for the next report.
It just wasn’t possible for the resistance to create new weapons with their technology.
And so there were two possibilities.
The first was that survivors from the fallen city had secretly developed it.
The second was that one of the other cities had developed it and were ‘test-driving’ it.
There was no way that the resistance could create something that was as good as the Empire’s best.
The reason was clear. They did not have the personnel, facilities or materials.
And so the possibility of it being made by survivors of the fallen city was very unlikely to her.
In any case, she would only need to see the results of Karma’s battle to know for sure—that is what Michelle thought…
While Second Lieutenant Karman had issues with his temper, he was very strong. And so she had no doubt that he would succeed.
However, she received a most astonishing report.
‘Te-terrible news! Karman and his men have entered a battle with the enemy, but it seems that they have been defeated…’
First Lieutenant Hiragi’s report was relayed in a trembling voice last night.
And so Michelle talked with Jegyll, her adjutant.
First Lieutenant Hiragi was ordered to continue his monitoring. And Michelle and Jegyll discussed the report.
“I can’t believe it. Karman had the latest Powered Suits. They should be nearly as strong as Cyborg Soldiers…”
“Indeed. They are inferior in terms of catalog specs, but they are equal in terms of weaponry. Perhaps this means they were defeated before it became a match of firepower.”
Michelle agreed with Jegyll’s answer.
But then again, it seemed very odd that the five of them were together and yet they did not have a chance to use their weapons…
“In any case, we cannot ignore something that is strong enough to defeat Karman and his men.”
“Yes. We should send a special attack corps and have them deal with this mystery enemy. At the same time, I will contact the other cities and find out if they have been conducting experiments with secret weapons.”
“Yes, that is good. Thank you, Jegyll.”
“Aye! Leave it to me, Michelle.”
With that conclusion reached, preparations were made on the same night.
Jegyll contacted all of the other cities, but she could gather no information concerning the mystery enemy.
Which meant that it really was from the fallen city—or…
If it was the result of secret experiments, they were not likely to admit to it.
And so Jegyll requested permission to have the thing destroyed, and the three other cities agreed to it.
While there were official procedures for such emergencies, they just sent word that they would not make an issue of it in the future. And so it was settled.
(—So, did that mean that the other cities really weren’t involved…?)
While Michelle wasn’t certain, she decided it must be so.
If that was the case, then they could not avoid destroying the thing, as it was a possible threat.
“This thing defeated Karman and his men. Do not think about capturing it. Destroy it as quickly as possible. All restrictions will be—”
Just as Michelle was about to send out the special attack corps, First Lieutenant Hirgagi made an emergency call.
‘We have confirmed that Second Lieutenant Karman is alive! However…as unbelievable as it may seem, he appears to have betrayed us—’
First Lieutenant Hiragi had been monitoring the sound waves and had been able to hear them. That was his report.
Everyone that was present became speechless by this.
But then the rest of the report came.
They had been shocked by the word ‘betrayed,’ but it seemed that he had only said something sympathetic towards the resistance.
They were just exaggerating and making a fuss about it, saying it was a betrayal of the Empire.
First Lieutenant Hiragi was well known for swearing allegiance to the Empire, and judging how loyal he was, he would not allow his friendship with Karman to affect him.
—Regardless of it being good or bad, Michelle found it rather sad.
But more than anything else, Michelle wondered if this situation could not be used to their advantage, and so she put her mind to work.
Karman and his men betrayed them?
No, they were clearly still loyal to the Empire.
Well, it was less the Empire and more South City, that had saved them.
On top of that, he seemed to be a little shaken by hearing the situation regarding the resistance.
This meant there was a good likelihood of Karman becoming one of Michelle’s personal cooperators.
Especially if she gave him internal information, yes, he would definitely help her.
But why did the mysterious enemy allow Karman and his men to live?
It was not a newly developed weapon from the other cities. If it were, it would have killed all witnesses.
So was it really survivors from the fallen city then…?
Nothing was certain, except that it was not related to the Empire.
Then perhaps if she explained the situation…
At worst, it would mean she would have to kill it herself, but it might be worth trying to have a talk with it.
After considering all of this, she came to a decision.
The truth was, that while Michelle was one of the rulers, she had few subordinates she really trusted.
There was her adjutant, Jegyll, and only a few others.
Everyone obeyed her to be sure, but it was only because she had the strength of the Empire at her back.
If she were to declare that the resistance were to be forgiven, then there would be some who would not follow her.
Not only that, but it could result in yet another riot. Perhaps Michelle and those close to her would be purged.
(From what information I have secretly gathered, there are clearly dissident within the Empire… )
Yes, while Michelle was at the top of the ladder, she did not put her trust in the Empire.
In that case, wasn’t there a good chance that this enemy, which had nothing to do with the Empire, could become a valuable collaborator?
She hoped so.
And because of that—
“Damn him! So he has betrayed me!! You shall pay for this, Karman!!”
She made a show of being furious.
And since all were too scared to approach her when she was like this, she had a good excuse to tell everyone to wait while she went out to the field alone.
Michelle repressed her feelings of surprise as she faced Veldora and the others.
There was a large man with gold hair and dark skin.
A combat doll with a mask.
And a small girl that she could tell nothing about.
She was able to single out Beretta, as the reports had described the mask.
(This person called Beretta is indeed very powerful. But this man called Veldora—)
-He had immense power that was incomparable to Beretta.
Michelle had a specific method for measuring such things, and she could see through just about anyone.
She could see just just how much energy people contained within them.
Beretta’s was immense.
It was nearly unbelievable, but not exceeding understanding.
However, this man called Veldora…
She had tried provoking him, but this was not the kind of person you wanted to get truly upset.
And so she continued her act.
She would use this opportunity to test him.
Judge his true nature and determine whether or not he could be trusted.
The fight began.
“So, are you ready? Give it all you got. I will show you how outmatched you are!”
Veldora declared and Michelle moved.
A flashed cut the air in half.
Michelle’s blonde hair seemed to leave a trail of blinding light as she rushed towards Veldora.
It was her right fist that was unleashed with immense power.
Machinery Arts-Vibration Fist Wave.
Even without making contact with your target, you could apply ultra waves of energy, causing an internal change that put molecules into a high-vibration excited state.
While it may have looked like a simple punch—it was so fast that the eye could not see it—and it had more than enough power to kill in the first hit.
It was a combat art unique to this world-Machinery Arts.
For cyborgs whose joints could move freely, old ideas of combat had to be changed.
Furthermore, as their fists were made of superalloys, the one who punched them would usually be the one who was hurt.
As this was all pointless, it became necessary to develop a new way to fight that allowed you to remain safe while also dealing damage to your opponent.
Machinery Arts was created during this time as a method that did not rely on direct contact.
Veldora received Michelle’s punch head-on.
He parried Michelle’s right fist with the palm of his left hand, then his torso moved forward to the left.
From Michelle’s point of view, Veldora’s arm should have blown off, and his entire body should have taken damage by that point.
She had not meant to kill him, but just deal a degree of damage.
However, Veldora was completely unharmed.
His body was made up of mysterious substances called magic essence and he was able to freely parry the vibrations.
If it had been against Beretta, he would have taken damage by this unknown attack.
However—Physical damage was not effective on Veldora.
And in a world where this magic essence did not exist, Veldora was an anomaly.
There was no time to think about the laws of nature.
Just as Beretta had been stumped by the unknown, Michelle was also confused by the irrationality of Veldora.
Veldora then tried to move behind Michelle, but things didn’t go too smoothly.
While she was confused by Veldora, her instincts caused her to act quickly in dealing with any situation.
Her momentum was not killed as she used the right foot she had planted in the ground as an axis and swung her left leg for a swipe kick.
Veldora saw this and pulled in his jaw and bent backwards to dodge it.
He continued to rotate in the air and landed a few feet away from Michelle.
And with that, he had avoided being hit by her attacks twice in a row.
“I’m surprised. I didn’t think you would be able to dodge my attacks.”
“Kahahaha! Very impressive. This is more amusing than I could have ever imagined! Beretta! I think this woman might be stronger than you.”
Veldora said with a good-humored laugh.
It had been a while since Veldora had last looked so important.
But there was one thing that one shouldn’t forget, and that was that Veldora was Zegion’s master.
Due to Veldora’s usual words and actions, it was easy to think that he wasn’t much, when he was in fact a first-rate martial artist.
In one strike, he had seen the true nature of Michelle’s art, and had even acquired it.
And Veldora always wanted to test arts that he had learned.
He said as he unleashed his fist towards Michelle.
It was the kind of amatuer punch where one pulled their fist back to their ear.
Or so it looked. But Veldora had converted some of his energy to vibrating energy.
Michelle was surprised by this, but she was not so supid as to be beaten by her own moves.
And so she parried it easily and muttered in an exasperated voice.
“You really are abnormal. I heard about the bending of the Neutron Launcher during the fight with Karman, but it seems that that was no joke. I suppose I will have to be serious if I want to win…”
As she said this, a black sphere appeared in her right hand.
At the same time, she raised her forefinger to her lips and sent the signal by looking at Veldora.
In spite of her words, Michelle no longer had any desire to fight Veldora.
She had finished inspecting him and had decided that this mysterious man was not from the Empire.
As for whether or not she could trust him, that was a different matter.
She hoped he would see her intention—as she turned around, completely exposing her back to Veldora.
If he attacked her here, well, it could not be helped.
It was this daring nature that had propelled her to the top.
Michelle looked at the stairs she had come down, and then she threw the black sphere towards it.
The black sphere then traveled up the staircase as if controlled by her will…
And with that, the upper floor was consumed by the flames of purgatory.
However, it did not affect the lower floors.
Gravitational field-space distortion-the isolation of specific topological spaces.
Michelle was utilizing a paranormal attack that gave a glimpse of her power.
Obviously, its purpose was to prevent eavesdropping.
As First Lieutenant Hiragi was monitoring from the sky, she had to create a situation where she could cover his prying eyes while making it appear natural.
Veldora showed interest but did not move.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t, he didn’t want to.
He looked a little disappointed that it wasn’t an attack towards him.
Veldora was too thick-headed to realize the meaning of Michelle’s signal.
The only reason that he didn’t attack Michelle while her guard was down, was because he felt that it was something only a small fry would do.
Fighting boldly and upfront.
That was true beauty in Veldora’s mind.
And Veldora had no intention of killing his enemy now. He would stop her attacks with his overwhelming superior strength and wait for her to surrender.
By doing this, he would be showered with praise from all those who watched. That is what was going through his mind.
However, his plans were ruined when Michelle did something most unexpected.
Veldora had been waiting for Michelle’s next attack with an attitude of calmness, but everyone just took it as him not being capable of reacting in time.
No one could understand what he was thinking…
“Thank you. So you must have noticed my signal. Now we won’t have to worry about being monitored. We can speak honestly.”
Michelle said. The confusion of the others only got worse.
What? Veldora thought. But it was too late now.
In other words—it wasn’t that Veldora was so great, but Michelle had just been holding back. That is what they thought.
On top of that, Michelle clearly had no will to fight, as was proven by the explosion she caused on the upper floor. And with that, the tension seemed to leave the room.
All of it was Veldora’s miscalculation.
Zaza was the first to move.
“You are truly lucky! You would have been turned to ash by now if she hadn’t gone easy on you.”
He laughed as he slapped Veldora on the back.
It was not just Veldora, but Michelle was surprised as well.
Both of them realized that Zaza and the others had gotten it all wrong, but there was nothing they could do.
There was no malice in Zaza’s voice, he was just saying what they were all thinking.
“So that is the reason. Yes, there is no way a mere cyborg could take on the Machinery Four!”
“Really, I wondered what would happen when Veldora stepped out. But I am happy that he is alright!”
The other adults interpreted the situation in a similar fashion.
“Yes, yes, that woman really wasn’t fighting seriously…”
“Right? Still, I am impressed with him. Even standing in front of the legendary Bakusenhime would take real courage!”
“Indeed. It’s no wonder he is friends with Ramiris and Beretta. Is he an evangelist of Machinery Arts? Is that why he is called master?”
They had gotten it completely wrong and were now celebrating Veldora’s safety.
In just one day, they had all come to think of Veldora very favorably. His uninhibited, cheerful attitude must have been looked at warmly.
While he was not nearly as good as Beretta, he had probably taught Ramiris and Beretta the Machinery Arts.
That’s what the adults thought.
That would explain why Veldora seemed to think so highly of himself.
And since Ramiris called him ‘master,’ this assumption seemed to make the most sense.
(What!? After everything I have done, I did not expect this reaction. I don’t know, I thought they would pamper me and praise me to the heavens…)
Veldora was perplexed.
But Michelle no longer looked like she wanted to fight, so there was no platform for him to show off.
It was just as Veldora had given up. He looked around and saw that the expressions of dazzled amazement.
It was the children.
There was respect and awe there as they looked up at him.
“I want to get cyborg surgery so you can teach me Machinery Arts too!”
“You went out in order to save us, didn’t you? That was so cool!”
Words of passionate gratitude now rained over Veldora.
(This! This is the praise that I have been waiting for!!)
Veldora was moved.
It was unfortunate that the adults had not understood how amazing he was, but he no longer cared about it.
As long as he was popular, it did not matter if they were children.
“Kaa-ahahahahaha! You all have very keen eyes. Very different from these adults who know nothing! Good! I am feeling very generous, and wish to splurge! Now! Let the grand pancake party recommence!!”
Veldora’s excitement had reached a new high, and he prepared his grill once again.
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