Last Embryo Volume 2 Chapter 4 Part 5
The only things that were worthy of praise was the reload time and the firing speed, but everything else looked like an amateur’s job through and through, which ticked him off even more. They must have known who they were going up against, so why didn’t the send their best marksmen to man the ballista from the get go? Maybe they were underestimating them that much?
Knocking down the bolts that were lucky enough to even come near them without an issue, Asterios finished his assessment of the enemy’s power and abilities, and the result was so satisfying that he felt greatly encouraged.
「They really were a bunch of fools for choosing to use a ballista with those weather conditions! If that is the best they have to offer, then they won’t be able to hit us even if all the luck in the world came to their aid right now! But if that’s what they want, then so be it! BE ASHAMED OF YOUR INEXPERIENCE AND TURN TO DUST UNDER THE WRATHFUL MIGHT OF KERAUNOS!!!!!」
Kicking Byakko in the sides with his heel he instructed him to take him closer to the ballista. If it appeared on the top deck of the fortress even though it was not there before, then it has to mean that it was transported there through some kind of hatch that could be closed and opened according to the need as well as an elevator. That is going to be their ticket inside.
Byakko immediately understood what Asterios was thinking about, and so he made a dash towards the place where the ballista appeared. With his superior speed, destroying it and taking down the marksman who was mounting it. With the speed that left even the sound and the wind behind him, Byakko bared his fangs and prepared to launch an immediate attack. But regrettably, his fangs didn’t reach his intended target, cutting through nothing but empty space.
「The ballista… disappeared?!」
It was just as he said. It disappeared without a trace. It was gone as if it was never there to begin with, even though it was right there, firing at them until just a second ago. Both the weapon and the one who was operating it faded away like mist.
With his momentum still carrying him forward, Byakko fell from the Spirit Train’s deck after crushing into it pretty hard, since his claws couldn’t dig into the wet sheets of Adamantine. Having no other choice, Byakko used the atmosphere to stop himself from falling from the train, but that turned out to the worst possible move he could make.
「Don’t stop now! We’re going to get surrounded!」
Asterios yelled as he dug his heels into his abdomen. Only then did Byakko finally noticed.
The first nine bolts, the one which they thought were just flying around randomly due to the marksman’s inexperience, have now surrounded them from every possible direction, cutting off their escape routes. They didn’t know what kind of crazy trajectory did they had to take to come back towards them like that, but one thing was now certain: they wouldn’t be able to do that if they didn’t have the Gift with the homing ability imbued into them. If it wasn’t like that, they wouldn’t end up in this hopeless situation.
They managed to knock down four of the bolts and somehow dodged the other five. Distancing themselves from the bolts that had to turn back, they then adjusted their positions to have the coming straight at them so that they could knock them down once more.
Their speed wasn’t even a threat to Byakko and Asterios, but they had to admit that their numbers and homing ability were more than a little troublesome. Also, unlike normal arrows, the giant bolts fired from the ballistas were much thicker and weighted a whole lot more. If even one on them were to hit its mark, it would result in a big damage, as Asterios himself could begrudgingly attest.
(No, this is not what we should be thinking about right now! The bolts fired by that ballista should have gone astray without coming back at us in the first place!)
Of course, there existed Gifts that made it possible to track the target unconditionally, but a Gift that powerful shouldn’t be mass produced in such large quantities so that it could be applied to so many bolts, not to mention the impossibility of them continuing to go after them despite the initial aim being so bad that it wasn’t even close to having them in the crosshairs.
Moreover, the sudden dissapearance of the ballista was something they should be concerned about. But why would the ones operating the train even bother with raising it outside in the first place? After all, 『The Bull of Heaven』 was still creating more tornados and continued to rain down lightning on top of the train without rest, so trying to shoot in in such conditions was quite literally a fool’s errand, so if they wanted to take a stab at it anyway, they probably must have had someone with a tricky Gift that would allow for such a thing amongst their ranks.
Unfortunately they didn’t have any time to think about this mystery at all, because in the next few moments, countless ballistas and archers appeared on the Spirit Train’s roof, looking locked, loaded and ready to shoot straight at Asterios and Byakko, and unlike up until now when they were keeping a safe distance, they could aim at them properly even in this unforgiving weather. As if they were waiting for them to get this close, all of the archers released their arrows in a simoultaneous, high-speed barrage. Having nowhere else to run to, Byakko had no other option but to increase his altitude in an attempt to dodge them and try to knock as many arrows as he could out of the sky, only to realize that the ballistas were also launching the uncountable number of its giant bolts towards him in an attempt to bring them both down then and there. So now the real battle was about to begin: the battle to see which one of them was going to emerge victorious and reach their goals: the Giant Spirit Train and its crew, or the Divine Beast Byakko and Asterios.
Giant Spirit Train 『Sun Thousand』, armory in the last wagon.
The tactic proposed by Ayato turned out to be more successful than pretty much anyone dared to imagine. Even though the ballista was inside of the wagon and was still aimed horizontally like usually, and yet it continued to fire its bolts without pause without crashing into the wagon’s wall despite being so close to it.
As for why it was like that, it was all thanks to Suzuka and her Gift: 『Apport & Asport』. The plan Ayato thought of essentially required her to stand at the ballista’s edge with one hand raise overhead in order to transfer the fired bolts outside of the Spirit Train so that they could be fired towards the enemy from the safest location possible.
「Amazing! You’re absolutely amazing, Suzuka!」
「The ballista has completely disappeared! Even its bolts as well!」
The Spirit colonies rejoiced and jumped about in ecstasy.
Even Lapko IX, which sat on Ayato’s shoulder nodded its head approvingly, admiring the impressive spectacle of ingenuity they were able to witness just now.
「But that sure was surprising! Who would have thought that the object teleportation can actually be performed without actually touching them? I have been a witness to many different teleportation abilities in the past, but out of all of their users, only Maxwell’s Demon was able to actually transport objects from one place to another without laying a single finger on them.」
「Yes. It would appear that several conditions have to be met first in order for her to do so, but hers is quite a powerful Gift of Teleportation indeed.」
Everyone was saying things like that and praised Suzuka for her achievement, but no one expected that she would be compatible with her power to such an extent.
Incidentally, there were two points to Ayazato Suzuka’s 『Apport & Asport』 Gift that could be considered unique when compared to the other Gifts which granted their users the ability to teleport things or themselves. The first one was the ability to teleport things without touching the directly, and the second one: the fact that the objects she teleported didn’t lose their kinetic energy at all. Thanks to those peculiar qualities, she was able to transport the bolts fired from the ballista to surround the enemy that tried to approach the Giant Spirit Train by aiming towards their blind spots and whittling down their endurance by having them constantly run from the homing projectiles.
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