[novel] inazuma eleven GO VS danball senki W the movie, book 1

劇場版『イナズマイレブンGO vs ダンボール戦機W』

Where to buy: Amazon.JP, special order through Kinokuniya.


   A lone girl stood amidst the neverending stretch of desert.
   She was slightly filthy, as if she had been caught in a sandstorm; her clothes were in tatters and both her hair and face were blackened. Holding a withered flower gently in her right hand, she simply stood there, on top of the desert. Behind her and in front of her was nothing but sand. The sky above held only pale clouds.
   As she gazed at her surroundings, the girl wept silently — not giving voice to her sorrow, not even heaving convulsively in sobs. Tears simply ran down her face. Here, there was no one to worry about her. No one to cause her any harm.


   No one.


   The fact hit her like a ton of bricks. Before long, she raised her eyes to the sky. Clouds of death covered the earth where she stood, and even though it was midday with the sun still high in the sky, it was as if she stood in veiled darkness.


   Hate. The ones who stole my father from me.
   Hate. The ones who stole my mother from me.
   Hate. The ones who stole my friends from me.
   Hate. The ones who stole everything from me.


   The current of her emotions gradually became a mist of repulsive color that held her body captive. Clenching her fists tightly, the withered flower crumbled and fell away. The flower’s petals, stamen, pistil, and stem were drawn into the mist of negative energy, dancing upwards from the earth into the sky. A wave of incredible power blew up the sand around her, turning into a great storm. Within it, the girl howled with fury.
   From somewhere within the mist, someone appeared and called out to her.
   “Big sis.”
   The girl turned. Although she couldn’t see anything, she knew that “they” were there.
   “Let’s go, and take back our world.”
   The two people called out to the girl. Hearing their voices, the venomous mist surrounding the girl faded.
   “Right. Help me, you two.”
   “Sure. As you wish.”
   “Of course, Sis.”


   At the end of one night, the figures of these three disappeared from the face of the earth. All that was left behind was the vast desert, which looked as if nothing had happened.

Chapter 1 — Two Worlds

   That day, Tenma Matsukaze was running a bit late.
   “Oh, this is bad, this is so not cool! The captain shouldn’t be late!”
   Running with all of his might, he sped through the front school gates towards the soccer building. The soft wave of his natural perm fluttered rhythmically in the wind with each bounce in his step.
   There was a reason he was in such a hurry. Today, arriving to relay a very important message from the JHS youth soccer association, that Seigou Hibiki was going to be coming to Raimon Jr. High.
   Seigou Hibiki taught Mamoru Endou back in his middle school years, and his name was well-known as the coach who led Endou and the others to the Football Frontier Internationals that decided the world’s best youth soccer team. For Tenma, he was also the leader who led the Resistance against Fifth Sector.
   When Raimon Jr. High won the Holy Road championship, Hibiki was installed as Fifth Sector’s new holy emperor. At the same moment as his inauguration, however, Hibiki demolished Fifth Sector and restored full authority back to the JHS soccer association.
   A few months passed since then. During that time, Hibiki along with several of Raimon’s alumni — Shuuya Gouenji, Yuuto Kidou, Raimon soccer club’s current coach Mamoru Endou — and Souichirou Raimon who was restored back to his position as Raimon’s chairman, as well as several others from the golden era when Raimon was Japan’s number one, put all of their efforts into reviving JHS soccer.
   Now Hibiki was coming to visit. What’s more, with a “very important message.” Although Tenma had no idea what it was about, it was just possible that another big problem had sprung up.
   Thinking this had kept Tenma on edge, his mind occupied. As a result, he ended up forgetting that he was class monitor on this very day and had to rush to finish up his duties after classes were over.


   Although a first-year, Tenma Matsukaze was captain of Raimon’s soccer club.
   But in a few months, he would no longer be Raimon’s underclassman. This time, Tenma and the other freshmen would have underclassmen beneath them, while their third-year upperclassmen graduated. That was why Tenma was well and fully aware of his heavy responsibility as captain.
   “I have to focus! I’m going to be an upperclassmen next year!”
   As he turned the corner of the school building, Tenma bumped his face into the large back of someone walking in front of him.
   Tenma dove backwards, his head bounced back by the resilient body.
   As he stood back up, rubbing the spot on his head where he’d hit, a hand reached out in front of him.
   “Still as careless as ever, I see.”
   As Tenma looked up, Hibiki, the very person he was thinking about stood there.
   Anxiety surged up within him at once as Tenma bowed briskly before Hibiki in greeting.
   “The soccer building is this way! I’ll take you there!”
   “Relax, I can take myself to Raimon’s soccer building.”
   “No, I can’t have that!”
   While Tenma moved forward, so nervous that both his right leg and right arm reached out at the same time, Hibiki followed him with a wry smile on his face.


   When Tenma and Hibiki arrived at the soccer building, the rest of the club members were already there.
   “You’re late, Tenma.”
   “Oh man… So I am late…”
   Kyousuke Tsurugi, the same year as Tenma as well as the soccer club’s forward, rebuked Tenma upon seeing him.
   Tsurugi’s almond-shaped eyes looked towards Hibiki. As a puzzled look crossed Tsurugi’s face, Tenma spoke.
   “Sorry, Tsurugi. Stuff happened.”
   “Why is Hibiki-san with you?”
   “We met each other along the way.” Tenma could only give a wry, awkward grin.
   “Y–Yes, sir?!”
   Tenma’s voice rose an octave in response as Hibiki called out to him.
   “I’m going to stop by the chairman’s office for a bit. You guys wait here.”
   Saying this, Hibiki headed for the office within the soccer building.
   “Yes, sir!!”
   While he felt embarrassed that his voice was still an octave higher, Tenma stood at attention as he watched Hibiki go.
   “Pffft! Tenma’s voice is all weird!”
   Shinsuke Nishizono had come to stand beside Tsurugi at some point. Shinsuke was Raimon Jr. High’s new goalkeeper. Although small in body, the power hidden within him was not confined by such limits. For Tenma, he was a most trusted friend.
   “Is everyone here?” Tenma asked, looking around at everyone’s faces.
   “About that, Tenma…”
   Hearing Shinsuke’s troubled voice made Tenma realize it. Not only were there less people than usual, but some of the faces he saw didn’t belong in Raimon.
   “Hey. It’s been awhile, Tenma.”
   “Why are you here?!”
   “Hibiki-san told me to come. I don’t know the reason either,” Taiyou Amemiya answered with a smile.
   Long ago in the Holy Road Nationals semi-finals, he was the genius midfielder who played against Tenma and Raimon as captain of Arakumo Jr. High. Back then, he suffered from a severe illness that forbade him from moving around actively, but now he was fully cured and enjoying soccer in good health.
   “It’s not just Taiyou.”
   “Yukimura-san is here too!”
   “Yep. So I am.”
   Hakuren Jr. High was the veteran soccer school in Hokkaido that brought out Inazuma Japan’s famous forward, Shirou Fubuki. The current ace of that Hakuren Jr. High was this Hyouga Yukimura. Just like Taiyou, he had once fought with Raimon at Holy Road. In that time, his Avatar “Saya of the Heavy Snowfall” and his hissatsu shoot “Panther Blizzard” had been a challenge against the Raimon Eleven.
   “Tenma, there’s one more.”
   Turning around at Tsurugi’s words, Tenma saw another person, someone he was seeing here for the very first time.
   “Long time no see, Tenma.”
   “I didn’t think he would be called here too.”
   While Tsurugi’s voice sounded appalled, he also seemed somewhat happy.
   Hakuryuu was yet another captain of an enemy team, as well as the forward, who challenged Tenma and Raimon back when Fifth Sector controlled the youth soccer world. What’s more, he was Tsurugi’s rival. Now, he and Tsurugi met up sometimes to practice together, and they regarded each other as best friends who raised each other up.
   “I didn’t expect to be coming to Raimon’s soccer building either.”
   While Hakuryuu spoke indifferently, Tenma answered him back with a wide grin.
   “I’m so glad to see you again, Hakuryuu. But why were we all called here?”
   “I have an idea why, but it would be best to hear it from Hibiki-san himself.”
   Hakuryuu looked around at the members gathered there.
   Along with Tenma, Tsurugi, and Shinsuke, there were five other members from Raimon. The second-years were Takuto Shindou, Ranmaru Kirino, and Ryouma Nishiki, as well as first-years Masaki Kariya and the only girl in the room, Kinako Nanobana.
   “Hey, Captain, you don’t know why we’re called here?” Kinako asked, looking pleased to be there. She was currently the only female member of Raimon’s soccer club. Although she didn’t look like it, she was very strong physically and the other club members couldn’t outdo her ability in hissatsu techniques.
   “You’re so carefree, Kinako~ I was so afraid that I’d done something wrong and was going to be yelled at.”
   The last of the first-years, Masaki Kariya spoke to her in an astonished voice. Although he did not have an Avatar of his own, he was an irreplaceable defender whose Hunter’s Net, Raimon’s leading hissatsu technique, had stopped many a shoot.
   “What are you talkin’ about? If you acted more responsible, you wouldn’t get shaken up at a time like this.”
   Speaking was the second-year, Ryouma Nishiki. While he used to be Raimon’s ace striker, he was a unique player who switched to midfielder after studying abroad for soccer in Italy. His Avatar “Sengoku War God Musashi” had supported Raimon’s fight in the past.
   “Speak for yourself, Nishiki. Your hands and legs were moving together at the same time.”
   Making a sharp, straight-man comment at Nishiki — who’d tried to cover up his anxiety through talk but was obviously just as nervous — was another second-year Ranmaru Kirino. His long hair hung down in two pigtails. While he had a kind face, a strong will blazed within his eyes.
   And last of all was the one who could be called Raimon’s pillar of emotional support, the second-year Takuto Shindou.
   Tenma looked at Shindou and asked, “Shindou-senpai. Have you heard of anything?”
   Shindou was Raimon Jr. High’s captain up to the final stage of the Holy Road Nationals. When he was forced to give up participating at the Holy Road finals due to injury, he was also the one who nominated Tenma as captain.
   “I haven’t heard anything either. But, as Hakuryuu says, I do have an idea.”
   “What do you mean?” Tenma asked candidly, but Shindou only smiled and didn’t answer.
   “Hakuryuu said it, didn’t he? It would be best to hear it directly from Hibiki-san.”
   While all of the gathered players said that they didn’t know the reason for being there, they all looked pleased to be there. Everyone here was the top players of JHS soccer, whose abilities were acknowledged by the world. Now they were gathered here to do “something.” Knowing that alone was enough to fill them with excitement.
   As Tenma surveyed the crowd, he felt exaltation swelling up within him.


   【 Same day, same time — NICS headquarters control room 】
   Within the dimly lit control room, quiet but tense voices flew about inside.
   “…Contact with G-City has been cut off!”
   Hearing the operator’s report, Chief Owen Kaios hit the table with his fist. The reports that had been coming in since a few minutes earlier all had no sense of reality to them.
   A sudden distortion of the magnetic fields. The appearance afterwards of a mysterious aerial unit. The cutting off of correspondences. Three places within A-nation were already experiencing such a phenomenon. All of them happened beyond the surveillance network of the next-generation national space station, Neo International Cosmic Section (or NICS for short), and even now they had no grasp of what the situation was.
   “Located another magnetic field distortion! On the west coast, at the national defense base!”
   “Call up the commander! You’ve got the hotline to the president connected, right?”
   “The hotline is ready, sir. I will connect a line to the national defense base at once.”
   This was the first time Kaios had ever experienced anything like this since he became NICS chief. While confused over the situation of each area as described in each report, NICS control room worked prudently to understand the circumstances.
   “The president will be appearing on the image monitor.”
   Kaios re-adjusted himself in his chair. He would need to report this as efficiently as possible to President Claudia Renneton.
   “Thank you for waiting, Mrs. President.”
   “Chief Kaios. I’ve heard about the situation from my aide. I’ve already called together an assembly of everyone involved.”
   The situation had already been relayed. Kaios had been concentrating so hard on apprehending the unusual phenomenon occurring in rapid succession that he had put off explaining it himself. Even now, this very moment on the crisis at the national defense base was being shared by his operators with the president’s executive headquarters.
   Not even she, who had shown shrewdness in her decisions as the first female president of A-nation, could hide her confusion at the current situation. She appeared so tense that her expression was stiff.
   “Mysterious phenomena are occurring in succession within our country at this very moment, but we lack information to discern what we are facing. I think, however, it would not be far to assume that this is an attack from an unknown power.”
   “I’m only suggesting it as a possibility. I’ve sent out helicopters to survey the areas where our communications have been cut off. A helicopter has been sent to the national defense base as well…”
   Just then, an operator broke in.
   “Chief, we’ve connected with the base!”
   “President, please wait right there. I’ll transfer all correspondence with the base to you.”
   Kaios sat up from his chair and stood behind the operator who had made the report.
   “Monitoring the video from all duty stations within the defense base!”
   “This is the defense base! NICS headquarters, do you copy?” The communicator on the other end responded in a hurried voice.
   “This is NICS headquarters. We copy.”
   “SOS! What is that thing in the sky?! I’m not getting any response at all from IFF! (Identification signal as friend or foe)”
   As the voice spoke, the operator’s monitor showed a video of the national defense base and the plains surrounding it.
   On the monitor showed a giant flying unit shaped like a cigar, more than 100 meters wide. The mysterious flying unit stood vertical, like a cigar standing on its end, as it hung in the sky.
   It had been captured on their radars, but this was the first time they were actually seeing it.
   As far as Kaios knew, no flying unit with this shape existed. It looked like a missile, but the way it didn’t move at all and hovered in the air was very strange.
   “Defense base, what is that?!”
   “I don’t know. It suddenly appeared in the sky! Tell me, what the heck is that?!”
   “We’re investigating on that right now as well. Were you able to make correspondence with that UFO?”
   “Impossible! We’ve had dozens of helicopters get close to it, but they vanished before they could even make a connection!”
   “A part of the base has begun to disappear too! At this rate…!”
   Right then, the correspondence cut off. And within the monitor, a bizarre scene spread out. Lines drew around the national defense base, surrounding it, and above those lines, long and high, rose a wall that looked like a purple-colored aurora.
   “What is that?!”
   As if sneering at Kaios, who gulped in amazement, the purple-colored lines began to sink the national defense base encircled within it. Before long, the entire defense base was swallowed up and disappeared completely.
   “……Contact with the national defense base has been cut off……”
   The operator spoke in a hollow voice. Since Kaios had been watching the screen himself, there was no need to report it, but it had been said out of continuous habit.
   Everyone there watched the monitors speechlessly. All they could do was watch.
   Within the monitor, the purple-colored aurora that had swallowed up the defense base shook greatly once. Now something different was rising up.
   A sound like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing squeezed out of Kaios’s voice, and he spoke as he watched the “something different” appearing on the monitor:
   “……A forest?”
   It was indeed a green forest of many trees. It spread out where the national defense base had once stood. But since the forest sprung up within the center of the plains, it only made for a weird sight.
   Kaios hung his head as if he had given up, then he looked up once more into the monitor with a fierce gleam in his eye.
   “Mrs. President.”
   Claudia, shown in the middle of the main monitors, responded to his voice quietly.
   “As of now, I have officially announced all agencies of A-nation to be on emergency alert. Chief, please hurry with organizing a task force for countermeasures. I give you complete power of attorney for this case.”
   “Thank you.”
   Thanking the president, Kaios turned back to face the others sitting behind him in the control room.
   “Doctor Yamano, send the Duck Shuttle to L-City at once.”
   A man in doctor’s robes who was called Yamano stood up. Jun’ichirou Yamano was the inventor and developer of the small hobby robots known as LBX that had swept across the world. However, his knowledge and education was not limited to the LBX world alone.
   “Cobra, Otacross, you two join the doctor as his support.”
   “You got it deyo.”
   A young man with sunglasses called Cobra, and a small man with the strange name Otacross, both stood up. Wearing a jersey and wooden clogs, with his long hair tied up, Otacross’s beard swayed as he walked.
   Hurriedly making their goodbyes, the three of them rushed out of the control room.
   Kaios made another order to the woman in doctor’s robes left in the room.
   “Doctor Oozora, I want you to stay here and help analyze the situation.”
   This woman who was the last to stand up was Doctor Haruka Oozora. She, wearing a strange attire of doctor’s robes, thick glasses, and toilet slippers on her feet, was a genius whose abilities in the next-generation system development world were said to be unmatched. She had once developed “Adam and Eve,” the world’s greatest A.I.
   As she scratched her head, Haruka sat at the open console panel next to Kaios.
   “Now, let’s begin.”


   While the unusual phenomenon was occurring quietly, the giant Central Park established in A-nation’s N-City was filled with groups of boys and girls.
   These groups naturally formed circles.
   Their attention was held by a single diorama standing within their circles.
   Inside the square “enhanced cardboard box” that could withstand all kinds of attacks, a miniature rocky mountain diorama was molded to look very real.
   This diorama was the stage where the small hobby robots LBX fought.
   Because there were frequent incidents where the strong performance of those LBX had caused harm to its users, they had once been forbidden from being sold and were sometimes used as a weapon for world domination. But with the efforts of those who rose up against such events, they continued to be loved even now throughout the world as a hobby for children.
   In this LBX world was a famous player whose name was known anywhere — Ban Yamano. With fearless eyes that could alternate between both his CCM and the LBX within the diorama, he had overcome many battles and was praised as a brilliant fighter.
   Ban won the championship at the LBX world tournament, Artemis, and was the leader of the group of boys and girls who fought against the evil organization Innovators to save the world. His father, also, was Jun’ichirou Yamano the creator of the LBX.
   Standing before a diorama, Ban looked to be having much fun as he operated his CCM, a controller for the LBX. The LBX he was using was “Ikaros Zero.” Unlike normal LBX, it has solid armor and could fly even outside the earth’s atmosphere. Also, because of an original plan involving high-dimensional joint mechanisms, it could transform itself to Weapon form. The fusion hissatsu functions drawn out from its alternate form held power that went far beyond that of the LBX dimension.
   “Go! Ikaros Zero!”
   As Ban operated his CCM in his right hand, Ikaros Zero made a mad dash for his opponent within the diorama. His enemy had just about the same appearance as Ikaros Zero.
   That LBX’s name was Ikaros Force. It was developed along with Ikaros Zero as a brother model.
   Both LBX, who carried about the same amount of ability, clashed with each other. While Ikaros Zero was equipped with a shield and spear, Ikaros Force specialized in two swords. The slashes from its two-sworded techniques flew left and right as if they were alive. Ikaros Zero blocked those slashes with its shield and spear, attacking back in turn when it saw an opening.
   The one operating Ikaros Force was Hiro Oozora. When the Detector incident arose after the Innovators incident, he was the boy, with a love for tokusatsu heroes, who stood together with Ban to face the world’s crisis.
   “Don’t lose! Ikaros Force!”
   Before getting involved in the incident, Hiro had never even touched an LBX. But because of his superior skill at playing arcade games, he grew into an excellent LBX player in the blink of an eye. An expressive boy who would appear gallant or burst into laughter even during battle, the expressions on his face changed continuously. He appeared to enjoy battles from the very bottom of his heart.
   “Hiro, you’ve gotten stronger.”
   “I can’t stay behind you forever, Ban-san!”
   Just as Ikaros Zero and Ikaros Force were clashing excitedly with each other, a red shadow fell in between them.
   “Sorry to burst in on your fun, but don’t forget me!”
   Ran Hanasaki. A master of the Hanasaki-styled karate technique and champion of Shibuya Town’s martial arts tournament. A girl like her who lived for combat sport used the female-shaped LBX, “Minerva Remastered.” Both its hands were equipped with a single-shot gun intended to strike, and it fought both hand-to-hand combat and shooting. The boosters positioned all over its body also enabled it to move at high speeds.
   Dodging Minerva Remastered’s full-bodied tackle at the last minute, Ikaros Zero turned and raised its spear. That spear, called “Zero Lance,” had a beam blade at both its point and butt end. The afterglow of the orange-colored beam spread with Ikaros Zero’s attack.
   But not a single stroke of that spear’s light blade could hit Minera Remastered.
   “Not bad, Ran!”
   “Hehe, take that!”


   In a different area, with the same diorama, another three LBX were squaring off against each other.
   The LBX player who was once feared as the “Split-Second Killer Emperor,” Jin Kaidou. His LBX “Triton” was the latest model made from the results of Cyber Lance Company’s engineering skills.
   The daughter of NICS Chief Owen Kaios, Jessica Kaios. Her partner robot was taken from the LBX model “Robin-H,” manufactured by England’s Armor & Crown Company, and customized end to end by NICS development team into the shooter model “Jeanne-D.”
   And, the one operating the LBX “Liu Bei” whose entire design was inlaid with the dragon and manufactured in China by Ryuugen Company, was Yuuya Haibara.
   When Jeanne-D shot with its two guns, Triton jumped to avoid it and went to attack Jeanne-D instead. But this time, seizing the opportunity, Liu Bei came up from Triton’s behind. It pointed its right handed “Sword of Martial Arts” at Triton. Triton warded off the incoming attack with its “Seahorse Anchor,” a hammer shaped like a ship’s anchor.


   Currently, Ban and the others were participating as guests in a street battle held in Central Park, at the invitation of N-City’s LBX shop. The entry of these finalists who had fought fiercely in the world tournament Artemis was the main center of attention at this event.
   Even though it was only a small-scale tournament, the seats were packed.
   As she watched Ban and the others fighting furiously on the stage, Asuka Kojou whispered to herself from the stands, “Must be nice. Looks pretty interesting.”
   “Then why didn’t you join?”
   The one answering was Ami Kawamura, who sat next to her. She was both an old friend of Ban Yamano’s and a fellow warrior who fought alongside him in many incidents that involved the LBX.
   “If the champion — that is, me — joined, it wouldn’t be as fun.”
   Asuka Kojou took down the Artemis world champion Ban the very next year. Upsetting all of the gossip, she shone as the new champion through the highly efficient operation of her partner robot, “Vampire Cat.”
   “Sure, you say that, but I bet you’re thinking that it would be embarrassing if you lost here, huh?”
   The one teasing her was Kazuya Aoshima. He was also an important friend of Ban’s and also fought alongside him as a fellow warrior.
   “It wouldn’t be fun for you if people started saying that it was a fluke you won the Artemis, after all~”
   Asuka’s expression froze from Kazu and Ami’s sharp observations.
   “Oh, hit the nail on the head, did we?”
   “Asuka’s personality is pretty easy to understand.”
   “Shut up! You guys, just be quiet and concentrate on the battles, man!”
   “C’mon, you’re a girl, you know. Why don’t you consider a more feminine way of talking?”
   “That’s none of your business!”
   “Yep, it’s none of your business.”
   “Ami?! Whose side are you on?!”
   As the three of them chatted noisily with each other, Takuya Uzaki, who was sitting further in their row, looked at them with a smile.
   As CEO of the Tiny Orbit company that founded the LBX, he often fought against organizations who used LBX for evil or for world domination. Sometimes as a fellow member, other times as the company president, he would appear before Ban and the others, support them from behind, and protect the LBX with them. He was an adult, and they were children. That was why he struggled as he did, to keep them from ever getting in harm’s way. But Takuya Uzaki could not refute the fact that seeing these children unwilling to give up, no matter what the situation, had given him the power to fight as well. Their sincere attitude towards LBX sometimes moved the world. In those times, Takuya was struck with admiration by the strength of their hearts.
   Just where did that power come from those small bodies of theirs?
   The answer to that question came from those very children sitting beside him. Children didn’t think of difficult things. They simply loved the LBX and did not forgive those who used LBX for evil. That was why they fight for it. Their honest feelings was the source of their power.
   This peaceful LBX battle was gained from the struggles of much hardship. Ban and the others had kept up their fight, with the neverending wish that LBX not be used as a weapon of destruction, but be returned as a “hobby.”
   As he thought this, Takuya’s gaze turned back to the dioramas on the stage.


   【 Same day, same time — Raimon Jr. High soccer building 】
   “An exhibition match between us and Endou-san?!”
   After making them wait and finally reappearing, the news that Hibiki brought went far above what Tenma and the others had imagined.
   “That’s right. To prepare for the youth soccer world tournament that will be reopened in the near future, we’ve gathered representative players who are currently active to fight their first game as a team against the old Inazuma Japan in a friendly. In other words, you’re going to go up against Mamoru Endou, Shuuya Gouenji, and the others.”
   Tenma was so shocked by the development that he couldn’t close his open mouth. He had considered in the back of his head that they had been assembled as a new representative team, but to think that their first opponent would be Endou and the other alumni had never once crossed his mind. Even the other members appeared dumbfounded by the news.
   “Would it even be a proper game?” Kariya asked, the first question on everyone’s mind.
   No one spoke. Not only would it be a game between adults and children, but if their opponents were the legendary eleven, they didn’t feel like they had any chance of winning, even in a friendly. But that heavy atmosphere broke up by one casual whisper from Kinako.
   “This is our chance to go beyond the legend.”
   With those words, Tenma, along with everyone else, blinked in realization.
   “Go beyond… the legend…”
   Tenma reflected upon Kinako’s words.
   “Right… that’s right! We’ve watched the plays of our upperclassmen all this time. Endou-san and the others are clearly legendary players. But if we give up before we’ve even fought them, we’ll never be able to go beyond them.”
   Tsurugi responded to Tenma’s words.
   “This is interesting. We’ll be able to fight against the legendary Inazuma Japan. There will never be another chance like this.”
   With his arms still folded, he looked back at Hibiki.
   “I’ll do it. Please let me join the New Inazuma Japan.”
   Hearing his words, Shindou and Kirino nodded at each other. They, too, took a step forward.
   “We’ll do it, too. Please let us!”
   “Me, me! I want to do it too!” Kinako raised her hand.
   “Since we are called here…”
   “We’ll give it our all.”
   Taiyou and Yukimura both gave their agreement to join.
   “I want to fight against Master with my Sengoku War God Musashi!” Nishiki responded.
   “Shinsuke, let’s go together!”
   “Yeah! Hibiki-san, I’ll join too! I want to try taking on Gouenji-san’s shoots!”
   “Hakuryuu, you’re not scared, are you?”
   Upon hearing Tsurugi’s voice, Hakuryuu, who had been quiet up to now with his eyes closed, opened them to look at Hibiki.
   “Since you called me here, that means these guys alone aren’t enough to win against the legend, am I right?”
   Those words made Hibiki smirk.
   “Confident, are you. I acknowledge your ability. As a forward, you are first-class. But even so, don’t think that the legend is soft enough that your power alone can beat them.”
   “Very well. I’ll show you that there is no wall I can’t overcome.”
   “Gahaha! You have guts, Hakuryuu.” Hibiki laughed as if satisfied.
   As he watched the other members declare one after another their desire to join, Kariya was the only silent one in the group who appeared worried. Their opponent was the legendary eleven, and what’s more, many of them were still active professionals. Would they be able to put up a good fight against people like them? Could these guys not even see that they would lose horribly?
   “Kariya, what about you?”
   Being the last one out, Hibiki’s words brought everyone’s attention onto him.
   “Eh, ah, um, I…”
   “What, is there something that’s a problem for you?”
   “No, um, it’s not exactly a problem…”
   “Kariya, let’s do this.”
   “Right, Kariya! We’ve been chosen for this!”
   Tenma and Shinsuke simply wished for Kariya to join them. Their straightforward feelings, with nothing hidden underneath, rubbed Kariya the wrong way. Their honesty was so reckless and fragile and, for Kariya, something that he envied of them. It was an expression of feelings he could not bring out into the open. And, for Kariya, that sometimes exploded outwards in the opposite direction.
   “Listen. Do you guys even get it?! It’s the legendary eleven!! It’s the Inazuma Japan!! Some of them are pros! Do you seriously believe junior high schoolers like us can win against them?!”
   “Don’t worry! If we all train together, things will work out!”
   Tenma’s innocent response made Kariya speechless.
   “That’s right, things will work out. After all, we’re the strongest members of youth soccer!” Shinsuke chimed in.
   “Right! We’re the strongest eleven of the junior high school soccer world! Kariya, could it be that you don’t want to join our strongest eleven?”
   Kinako made a rather evil quip. Being chosen for the strongest eleven would make anyone proud. In fact, it was something he’d want to go around bragging about to everyone, Kariya thought. But the only thing he felt waiting ahead of them were the two words “crushing failure.”
   Still, if he nodded in assent to Kinako’s words here, he felt that he would become a horribly small person, and he didn’t like that.
   “…Daaaaaaaah! All right! I’ll join! I just have to join, right?!” Kariya proclaimed, resigning himself to fate.
   “Really?! All right!”
   Tenma jumped in the air to show his pleasure.
   “Really, you’re just not honest.”
   “Well, that’s Kariya.”
   Shinsuke and Kinako smiled at each other as they watched Tenma and Kariya. And, seeing that everyone had agreed to participate, Hibiki announced to the entire team:
   “All right then, the match will be held in a week. Until then, while making additional adjustments, you will be having a training camp in this soccer building.”
   “Yes, sir!”
   All eleven answered as one. It was the birth of a new Inazuma Japan.


   【 Same day, same time — NICS headquarters control room 】
   “Duck Shuttle Remastered has set out.”
   “Still yet unable to connect a line to the national defense base.”
   “I’m not finding any unusual signals coming from the forest that replaced the defense base.”
   As he listened to the operators’ reports, Kaios spoke to Haruka.
   “Doctor Oozora, what do you think?”
   Without turning to Kaios, Haruka’s gaze remained on the display as she answered.
   “I’ve figured out the abnormal oscillation patterns of the magnetic fields. Also, the events that led to the cities disappearing. First, the abnormal magnetic field oscillations erupt mid-air and that strange UFO appears. Then the oscillations spread, surrounding that site. After that, it’s as we’ve seen on the monitors. But…”
   Haruka appeared hesitant of what she was about to say next.
   As if to shake off her doubts, Haruka swiveled herself in her chair to face Kaios.
   “…I don’t know what it’s after. Why erase those places? That’s what I don’t get.”
   Haruka’s fingers flew over the console.
   “The first to be attacked was R-City. Since it was the first place erased, we have the least info on it, but apparently it happened right above a community center. Next was F-Town. Here, the surroundings of an outdoor sports complex were erased. Then G-City. A river runs through the center of the city, but everything ten kilometers of that river except for the river itself was erased.”
   “And last on that list is the national defense base…”
   “Yes. Why are these places erased to begin with? I’ve been looking into it thinking that there’s a meaning behind the places attacked, but at this moment, I can’t find a connection.”
   Kaios raised a hand to his chin in thought. But right now, there was no time. They had to hurry and investigate this matter using all of NICS manpower. Under normal circumstances, he would want to dispatch NICS investigators to all of the affected areas that had disappeared, but they were missing a majority of both the equipment and personnel necessary to do that. He would have to rely on investigations held by the governmental bodies at each location. Kaios told his decision to Haruka.
   “Send that information to Doctor Yamano. We’ll let someone else handle finding a connection, but Doctor, I want you to pinpoint the next–”
   “There’s an abnormality in the magnetic fields!”
   Hearing the report, Kaios stood up. Haruka also turned her seat to face the operator who had made the report.
   “Find its location! Hurry!”
   The operators commenced a storm of typing into their consoles. Within a few seconds, the results appeared on the main monitor.
   “Analysis complete. The location is N-City!”
   Kaios looked at the monitor, speechless.
   “Locked on coordinates. There’s a violent fluctuation of magnetic fields in the skies of N-City.”
   “Advise all citizens to take refuge, no, make that an order! Contact all relevant officials at once!”
   All of the operators hurried to fulfill Kaios’s orders as he made them.
   “Chief, aren’t Hiro and the others there at an LBX tournament today?”
   Seeing Haruka’s worried face, Kaios’s own face paled.
   “That’s right. Jessica said she was going to an LBX tournament in Central Park… This is terrible, call for the Duck Shuttle!” Kaios shouted. He hastened to relay the news to Doctor Yamano and rescue the children.


   Around the time the battles were finally reaching their end, Takuya received a call on his CCM. Kaios’s name was on the display. Takuya picked up.
   “Chief, what’s the matter?”
   “Mr. Uzaki, I want you to stay calm and listen to me. Do you see anything strange above you in Central Park at this moment?”
   Takuya looked up. There was only the usual blue sky and white clouds.
   Just as he was about to answer in the negative, it began. A single area in the sky suddenly emitted light and began to ripple outwards. The rings of light that spread out flashed and something large appeared in its center.
   “What is that…?!”
   Hearing the tone in his voice, Ami, Kazu, and Asuka stopped arguing to look up at the sky.
   “I don’t believe it,” Ami whispered. None of them looked as if they could believe what they were seeing.
   Two points of light jumped down from that large UFO. A red dot and a blue dot, they flew downwards at a ridiculously high speed.
   “Are those LBX?” Asuka pointed.
   Just as the two dots descended at a height where they were determined to indeed be LBX, they jumped inside the dioramas.
   “Chief, LBX just descended from the UFO above!”


   Kaios listened to Takuya’s report in bewilderment.
   Haruka’s eyes scanned over the analyzed information they had thus far. “There are no previous reports about that.”
   “Mr. Uzaki, I want you to listen carefully.”


   Takuya’s eyes widened as he listened to Kaios’s explanation.
   “The national defense base disappeared…?”
   “That’s right. Four places within A-nation have already been erased by that UFO. The Duck Shuttle R is already on its way at full speed to come get you. You must evacuate the premises at once!”
   Closing his CCM, Takuya hurriedly explained the situation to Ami, Kazu, and Asuka, and they began to guide the tournament spectators to evacuate.


   Seeing the spectators moving in swarms, Ban and the others turned back to look in surprise.
   “Leave the evacuating to us!”
   “What in the world is…?”
   Just as Ban and the others were about to speak, the red and blue LBX began to move furiously. Both were equipped with guns and they began to shoot at their LBX.
   “Return fire!” Ban shouted on reflex.
   Among them who had dodged the LBX’s attack, the first to regather her bearings was Jessica. Jeanne-D moved into a shooting stance with its snap pistols. But the blue LBX that was in its line of fire disappeared instantly. Jessica’s eyes couldn’t keep up with its speed.
   “So fast!”
   Before she had even finished speaking, the blue LBX had already circled around at high speed and was standing directly behind Jeanne-D.
   Jeanne-D quickly pointed its guns behind, but even faster than that, the blue LBX landed a hard kick into Jeanne-D’s back. Jeanne-D was blown forward, losing balance. Then, the blue LBX fired its gun.
   The array of laser bullets hit Jeanne-D’s body so hard that they sent it soaring even higher from the impacts. By the time it flung back onto the floor of the diorama, it was already inoperable.
   “No way…!”
   Jin stepped up to the diorama as if to push the wordless Jessica aside.
   “Jessica! Get back!”
   Triton leapt forward under Jin’s command, readying itself with its Seahorse Anchor.
   “Attack Function: Impact Kaiser!”
   At the CCM’s voice command, Triton moved into its hissatsu function stance. As it swung its hammer down in a wide arc, the earth split open and the resulting red shockwave headed for the blue LBX. But just before it could hit, the LBX disappeared from sight once more.
   The same moment Jin spoke in shock, the blue LBX that had dodged Impact Kaiser appeared in front of Triton. Triton, immediately following its hissatsu function, was full of openings. With one bullet, Triton was blown away.
   Jin stood dazed, his CCM still in his grip. To help the motionless Triton that lay stretched out on the ground, Ban sent out Ikaros Zero.
   “Hiro! Take care of the red one!”
   With both Jeanne-D and Triton down, they had only four LBX left on their side. By letting Ikaros Zero and Ikaros Force handle each, the remaining Liu Bei and Minerva Remastered could act as support.
   But as if predicting this strategy, the two enemy LBX concentrated their attack on Liu Bei. Faced with their high-speed menacing offense, it was all Yuuya’s Liu Bei could do to dodge them.
   “Yuuya, retreat!” Ban shouted, but Yuuya’s concentration had no room besides controlling Liu Bei’s movements.
   “The enemy is too fast!”
   As Liu Bei flew about in mid-air, a laser bullet that it was at last unable to dodge made a direct hit into its right leg. The impact sent Liu Bei tailspinning backwards, crashing into the ground. Although sparks were flying all over its body, it managed to stand back up only to find the enemy surrounding it front and back.
   Ran’s Minerva Remastered charged at the red enemy LBX.
   As if Minerva’s movements were a part of its predictions, the red LBX turned and shot.
   Minerva Remastered dodged the bullet at the last second and crashed into the enemy LBX shoulder first. Minerva got a hold around its torso.
   The red LBX tossed away its gun and easily wrenched up Minerva’s right arm.
   “N-No way…! It’s got insane power!”
   As sparks flew from the joint of its shoulder, Minerva Remastered withstood. They could hear the sound of its armor frame creaking.
   The injured Liu Bei ran with all of its might towards Minerva in a rescue attempt, but its strenuous efforts were brought down when the blue LBX appeared behind Liu Bei.
   Shot from behind, Liu Bei was blown forwards and no longer operable.
   A split second later, the red LBX ripped the desperately resisting Minerva’s arm right out of its shoulder socket.
   “Minerva!” Ran cried.
   Having cruelly lost its right arm, Minerva’s core skeleton within its armor lay exposed.
   “Hiro, we’ll attack them as a team!”
   Ban’s Ikaros Zero advanced as it swiftly moved left and right, dodging the red LBX’s laser bullets.
   Hiro’s Ikaros Force got ready to attack.
   “How dare you do that to everyone’s LBX!”
   Ikaros Force made vigorous slashes with its Force Blades. The green light emitting from its blades sliced at upper and midsection, but the red LBX dodged them all with nimble maneuvering.
   “Ban-san, the enemy is just too fast!”
   This time, the blue LBX charged at Ikaros Force. Hiro tried desperately to avoid it, but it grabbed Ikaros Force’s arm and with that momentum threw Ikaros Force into the air. Ikaros Force crashed into Ban’s Ikaros Zero, sparks of damage running throughout its body.
   As Ban and Hiro looked on in amazement, the eyes of the two enemy LBX flashed with light.
   {{How awful.}}
   “The LBX is talking?”
   {{It’s just as I thought. Your place doesn’t deserve to exist either.}}
   “Who are you? Where are you?!”
   Without answering Ban’s question, the two LBX flew upwards into the sky.
   Ban’s Ikaros Zero rose into the air to give chase. As his eyes followed after it, he at last noticed the strange scenery that had spread around them unawares.
   “What is that?!”
   A large shape floated in the sky, and light was shining in every direction. Because of how bright the light was, he couldn’t see the full picture of what that large shape looked like.
   “Don’t go after them, Ban!”
   Ban made Ikaros Zero land within the diorama on reflex.
   Takuya came running towards them. Behind him were Kazu, Ami, and Asuka. The spectators had all left the tournament grounds and they were the only ones who remained.
   “That thing is what’s caused the disappearance of different places in A-nation right now.”
   “I’ll explain later. Right now, we have to get out of here!”
   Just as Takuya spoke, the Duck Shuttle Remastered appeared above them with a thunderous roar.
   As the Duck Shuttle stood at a standstill in the skies, it descended by VTOL (vertical take off and landing), dropping down its trap platform as it landed.
   Cobra’s face poked out from the open hatch.
   “Guys, get in!”
   The Duck Shuttle’s engine remained running so that it was ready to fly at any moment, causing turbulence in the air around it. Ban and the others hurriedly recovered their LBX and ran towards the Duck Shuttle R. As Ban rushed through the shuttle doors, he didn’t slow down but headed straight for the cockpit.
   Doctor Yamano, who was Ban’s father, and Otacross were inside the cockpit. The two of them were peering out at the skies from a small window of the Duck Shuttle R.
   “There’s the cause of this whole incident deyo.”
   “It’s unmistakably man-made. But where in the world did it come from…?”
   Not even the usually calm Doctor Yamano could hide the apprehension in his voice.
   The mysterious UFO slowly began to commence its erasure. Ripples of light scattered everywhere, distorting their field of vision.


   “The fluctuations and amplitudes of the magnetic fields are increasing even more!’
   “Its circumference continues to expand. Its borders have gone past 57th street and have now reached the president’s office!”
   “Lost connection with the president’s office!”
   “It’s still expanding, now it’s at a twenty kilometer radius!”
   The voices of the operators in the control room as they made their reports rose to a scream.
   As Haruka felt her heartbeat quickening, she said to herself, “N-City is disappearing…”


   “Professor! They’re all in!”
   Cobra’s transmission echoed throughout the cockpit. Ban and the others were on board.
   “All right, Metamo R! Set out!”
   “Roger that mo!”
   As the Duck Shuttle’s autopilot Metamo R answered, the Duck Shuttle Remastered rose into the air at once. As it made a big about-face, it immediately began to pick up speed. To escape from N-City, the Duck Shuttle Remastered shot past the spreading rings of light and kept going.


   “The fluctuations of the magnetic fields are increasing! It’s beyond what our instruments can measure!”
   “Its borders have expanded to a fifty kilometer radius, NICS headquarters is included in its scope!”
   While Kaios felt discomfort from the cold sweat that made his clothes stick to his body, his eyes stayed fixed upon the monitors.
   As Haruka watched the monitors as well, she whispered, “There’s nowhere for us to run.”
   Kaios firmly refused to accept those words.
   “The Duck Shuttle and the children have made it out. We still have hope.”
   His words brought a look of relief on Haruka’s face, and she nodded.
   “Yes. They’re our last hope.”


   After the light that surrounded N-City, including NICS headquarters, had died down, a strange scene took its place. Large squares of earth that were taken out got replaced one by one with forests, grasslands, wastelands, deserts, lakes… terrains that were completely unrelated to one another. There were even some partially removed areas of what could be thought to be mountains. None of these areas were occupied by humans. N-City, along with its citizens, had vanished without a trace.
   It was several hours later, after Duck Shuttle Remastered had escaped from the magnetic fields and confirmed they were in a safer place, that they returned to the skies of what used to be N-City.
   “What is this…?”
   “N-City is…”
   “It’s gone… Is this really even N-City?”
   Jessica, Yuuya, and Asuka said one by one as they looked down at the patchwork earth from the cabin.
   “Judging by the coordinates, there’s no mistake. This is N-City,” Doctor Yamano, stepping out from the cockpit, replied to Asuka’s question. “The N-City that you were in before it got erased.”
   “Erased?” Ami repeated hollowly.
   “Takuya-san said that too, but what do you mean Dad?”
   Doctor Yamano answered Ban’s question quietly.
   “We still don’t know the details yet, but about twelve hours earlier, the same thing began happening all over A-nation.”
   “The world is being destroyed by someone, we don’t know who deyo. We’ve been gathering info throughout the world, and all we know is that the same thing has been springing up here and there deyo,” Otacross explained, taking up where Doctor Yamano left off. “The magnetic fields fluctuate oddly, after which that UFO appears and the land disappears. All three of these occur in an infallible chain of events deyo. Who is responsible? No one has the slightest idea, but there’s no mistake that UFO is involved deyo.”
   “Yes, there was something floating in the sky.”
   “I thought it was a blimp at first, but it looked a bit different.”
   Jin and Ami spoke, remembering what they had seen from the stands.
   “Yes. If we track down where that UFO will appear next and follow it, maybe it will be the key to solving this situation deyo.”
   “You say that easily enough, but do you know where it’ll strike next?” Asuka asked.
   Otacross’s expression turned dark and he looked up at Doctor Yamano. The doctor answered in Otacross’s place.
   “For now, no. It took all of our concentration alone to collect info and escape from there.”
   “But if we ask NICS headquarters, won’t we figure something out?” Jessica asked confidently. But Otacross’s face was grim.
   “We can’t do that deyo. We can’t ask from people who’ve been erased deyo.”
   “Erased… you mean NICS headquarters…?”
   “That’s right deyo. It’s gone completely, now a part of the earth that replaced it deyo.”
   “You’re kidding… right?”
   Unable to watch Jessica stand there, overcome with shock, Doctor Yamano took up explaining again.
   “Unfortunately, no. NICS headquarters, including Chief Kaios, the entire staff, and your mother as well Hiro, have all disappeared. Even the president and A-nation’s national defense base are gone. From this point on, we must investigate on this case without any backup.”
   It was hard for Doctor Yamano to look at the children’s faces.
   Hiro’s eyes welled up with tears and his entire body trembled.
   “You’re lying. My mom can’t be gone. You’re lying!”
   “It isn’t just A-nation deyo. The same thing is happening in Japan as well deyo…”
   “Japan too?! Then what about Tokio City?!” Kazu asked in a shaken voice.
   Both Otacross and Doctor Yamano’s lips thinned and they didn’t speak. That was enough to make both Ami and Kazu at a loss for words.
   “Dad… Is Mom okay…?”
   “I can’t reach her. In the most likely scenario…”
   Ban, looking up at his father, clenched his fists so that he would endure the shock of what he was hearing. All of them lamented over those they had lost, so much that it was hard to breathe. It was difficult to get over right away.
   “All of you, raise your heads deyo. We have the data analysis on the erased locations that Haruka-tan sent us before they got to her deyo. We can use this as a hint to estimate where that mysterious UFO will appear next, make the first move. We’ll do something and capture it deyo. Hiro, thanks to Haruka-tan, we can still fight deyo!”
   “Thanks to my mom…”
   “That’s right deyo. Haruka-tan trusted you, her son, to handle this deyo.”
   While Otacross was comforting Hiro, Doctor Yamano spoke to Takuya.
   “Takuya-kun. Otacross and I are going to use these files Doctor Oozora sent us for further analysis. Can you take charge of the Duck Shuttle?”
   Takuya stood up and headed for the cockpit.
   Each of them having lost someone dear to them, neither could offer a word of comfort. But the fact remained that unless they kept plowing on ahead, the situation would not be saved. Ban rose from his seat and looked around at his friends.
   “We have to do this. We’re the only ones who can. Guys, let’s turn the world back to normal!”
   Their determined voices echoed throughout the cabin.

Chapter 2 — The Strongest VS The Legend

   One week later.


   Underneath a blue sky, the seats in Holy Road Stadium were packed.
   The exhibition match between Tenma’s youth team New Inazuma Japan and Endou’s adult team Inazuma Legend Japan was about to begin.
   The crowd’s enthusiasm and commotion as they waited for the match to start could be felt as far back as the locker rooms.
   After ending their training camp and gathering at the stadium, Tenma and the others finished changing into their red-white representative uniforms and were doing careful stretches.
   Tenma could feel his excitement lighting up his entire body and he took a deep breath to calm himself down. The captain mark was wrapped tightly around his arm.
   “Everyone! Let’s play with our all today, without any regrets!”
   Despite being captain in his first-year, Tenma was able to say this in a loud voice to Shindou and the other upperclassmen.
   Shindou, Tsurugi, Hakuryuu, Taiyou, Kariya, Shinsuke, Kinako, Kirino, Yukimura, and Nishiki answered Tenma in one voice.
   His hair waving gently, Tenma gave a brilliant smile.
   Today, let’s run with abandon. Let’s sweat with everything we’ve got. We’ll face the adults with all we have and make this the best game ever.
   Everyone’s hearts were one. The fierce feelings that grew from their time spent in training camp encouraged Tenma.


   Meanwhile, in the Inazuma Legend Japan locker rooms, Endou and the others were also changing into their uniforms.
   Mamoru Endou fixed the bandanna around his head and pulled his gloves so that they hugged his fingers. The captain mark was tight around his arm.
   Shuuya Gouenji spiked up his hair with pomade.
   Both of them changed from their everyday appearance into that of a fighter. Seeing Gouenji in particular back in his old, aggressive hairstyle, especially now that he had his hair down, felt both nostalgic and new to his teammates.
   “It feels like my old comrade-in-arms has come back,” Endou said, looking at Gouenji in earnest.
   “So does seeing you wearing those gloves. It makes me feel relieved knowing I can leave the goal to you.”
   Gouenji smiled wickedly.
   The men were beside themselves with joy. To think a day like this, with these faces gathered up again and running on the same pitch together, would come again!
   Wearing the uniforms brought them all back ten years.
   They were friends with whom they had fought together, run together, laughed together, and sometimes shed frustrated tears with, to become best in the world. Even now, after ten years, they were close friends who understood each other the best.
   “I didn’t think I’d get to run across the same pitch with you as a fellow teammate again.”
   Teikoku Academy’s commander Yuuto Kidou said to his confidant, Jirou Sakuma.
   “Me too. He probably feels the same as well,” Sakuma said, looking at Akio Fudou.
   Fudou, who they had fought against and later formed a close friendship with, only responded back at Sakuma and Kidou with his usual sarcastic grin.
   “I feel nervous.”
   The biggest player of their team, Heigorou Kabeyama, was fidgeting with his fingers. His habit of wanting to go to the toilet whenever he got nervous apparently hadn’t changed even as an adult, but without a moment’s delay, the tall Jousuke Tsunami wrapped an arm around his shoulders. His white teeth flashed against his suntanned skin.
   “Why would you be nervous? Let’s show those kids a thing or two about the presence of their seniors!”
   “Show them a thing or two, that’s so presumptuous.”
   “Be more assertive, Kabeyama, assertive! Compared to the vastness of the sea, your anxiety is insignificant!”
   “Quit it, Tsunami. Kabeyama isn’t Kabeyama unless he goes to the toilet before a game,” Ryuugo Someoka said as he pulled up his socks. His stern face was smiling broadly.
   “Yeah. It feels like we’ve gone back ten years,” said Ichirouta Kazemaru as he tied his long hair in front of a mirror. “Being with these members feels so comfortable.”
   “Are you saying it’s uncomfortable being on the professional team?” Hiroto Kira teased. His almond eyes laughed with sincere pleasure.
   “No, I don’t mean that, it’s just… This is special. Living in the pro world is exciting, but the passion we had as Inazuma Japan… it was different. It was fierce, and boiled up, and it’s my most important possession.”
   “It’s rare to hear you talk so. Well, not that I don’t understand you. You feel the same as well, right Hiroto-kun?”
   Having finished changing and closing his locker door, Shirou Fubuki spoke with a smile. With his kind features, he looked around at his friends.
   “Of course. To me, Inazuma Japan is a jewel that shines brighter than any magnificent treasure. I want to enjoy today with all of my heart.”
   Nodding at Hiroto’s words, Endou spoke in a loud voice that came from the depths of his chest.
   “Hiroto is right. Let’s go out and enjoy ourselves! We’ll show Tenma’s team and the crowd that our soccer is this fun and exciting!”
   The young men gave each other fist bumps, rousing themselves up.


   When New Inazuma Japan and Inazuma Legend Japan appeared onto the grounds, the cheers of the crowded stadium changed to roars.
   As the voices shook the entire stadium as if the earth were rumbling, the excitement of players from both teams as they marched onto the field couldn’t help rising.
   Among the audience were Sangoku, Kurumada, Amagi, Kurama, and other friends from Raimon, as well as Hibiki who guided and coached Tenma’s team for this game, and Raimon’s former coach Kudou. Worthy opponents from other schools they had fought against in Holy Road were also sitting here and there to watch their friends in action. A great crowd of people who were friends with Inazuma Legend Japan had also come.
   Sitting on New Inazuma Japan’s bench as Raimon’s managers were Tenma’s childhood friend Aoi Sorano, and the upperclassmen Midori Seto and Akane Yamana. Akane captured the players through the lens of her camera, the shutter going off at every second.
   “Would you just listen to that crowd?” Aoi said, her voice brimming with excitement as she looked around the stadium.
   “Our players sure are impressive! All these voices cheering for them just by appearing onto the field! It sure is burning up in here!” Midori said proudly, as if it were her own achievement.
   Clicking the shutter of her camera, Akane said in her quiet voice, “It makes us burn up too.”
   As he watched both teams line up next to each other, game commentator Oushou Kakuma began to shout with all of his being.
   “It’s here at last! The realization of a dream card! A festival of the best in soccer! A grand exhibition! This very day! Up against the adult Japan representative team made of members who were once best in the world, Inazuma Legend Japan, is the youth Japan representative team consisting of the strongest players in the previous Holy Road and led by Captain Tenma Matsukaze, New Inazuma Japan! These two teams will now be contending against each other! Just what! Developments! Will they show us?!”
   Yelling into his mic with fervor, Kakuma paused to take one breath.
   “Commentary is brought to you by your old stand-by Oushou Kakuma. Because this is a special exhibition match, neither team has a coach. The direction of this game will be influenced by the decisions of the players themselves!”
   Surrounded by cheers, the leaders of both teams, Tenma and Endou, walked to the center circle and grasped each other’s hand firmly.
   “Endou-san! We won’t lose today.”
   “Yeah, come at us with all you’ve got!”
   Kidou, Shindou, and the others on the teams watching over the two felt the same way. Each of them met the gaze of players on the other team just as strongly. It was both meant as a challenge and the exchanging of cheers.
   All players scattered to their positions.
   As Aoi’s eyes followed Tenma, her hands naturally folded together before her heart in prayer. “Good luck, Tenma.”
   “It’s starting. Let’s cheer them on with all we’ve got!”
   “I’ll take pictures.”
   Aoi and Midori smiled at each other wryly as they watched the carefree Akane taking pictures.
   An unforgettable day was about to begin.


   Tenma’s team, New Inazuma Japan, was in a 3-4-3 formation called the Flat system that concentrated on offense. Their midfield in particular was crowded with four people, but Taiyou was originally of the forward position and Nishiki also used to be a forward. It was a super-offensive formation that brought all players with shoot techniques to the front.
   Inazuma Legend Japan formed the 4-4-2 Diamond formation that was effective with sideline offense. There was a bit more emphasis on defense than offense, but it was a lineup that allowed them to make flexible tactics.
   The whistle signaling the beginning of the match rang.
   In that instant, the roars of the crowd grew even louder.


   While Holy Road Stadium was alive with cheers, an aerial craft was approaching at high speeds from the far horizon. It was the Duck Shuttle Remastered.
   Within the operating room, four adults were glaring at the large screen monitor on the wall with difficult expressions.
   Otacross, the only one who was sitting among them, was fervently inputting information into a keyboard.
   “All right, there it is deyo!”
   Saying this, Otacross hit the enter key. At once, the graph displayed on the monitor expanded.
   Doctor Yamano, standing behind Otacross, bent forward to look at the analysis results.
   “Hmm. The abnormal oscillations and irregular magnetic fields are definitely there. It’s a sign that they will appear.”
   “Then have we at last managed to capture the enemy, Doctor Yamano?” Takuya said, encouraged.
   “The abnormal oscillations have broken out in the skies above what’s called Holy Road Stadium in this world deyo.”
   As Otacross answered Takuya’s question, Cobra loosened his necktie.
   “Holy Road Stadium? So it’s a sports arena of some kind?”
   To answer Cobra’s question, Otacross brought up an image of Holy Road Stadium on the monitor.
   “A soccer field, huh…” Cobra said, as he looked at the green lawn in the center. As the image zoomed in further, they could see the shapes of people moving above the field. “Looks like they’re having a game. And the seats are packed.”
   As Cobra spoke, Doctor Yamano called up Ban and the others through the ship’s intercom.
   “LBX players, we’ve caught the preliminary signs of that UFO’s arrival. It’s time.”
   Nine windows opened on the monitor. Ban, Hiro, Ran, Jessica, Jin, Yuuya, Ami, Kazu, and Asuka showed in each of them.
   Takuya gave the order after Doctor Yamano was done.
   “All of you, stay alert.”
   “Roger!” The children answered as one.


   Ban and the others were inside what was called a “control pod” machine, where one could operate LBX by remote control.
   Duck Shuttle Remastered was equipped with nine control pods, shaped to look similar to that of a fighter plane’s cockpit. While the radio waves of the CCM could only operate an LBX as long as they were both within a one kilometer circumference, attaching the CCM to a computer terminal allowed for a larger control scope of fifty kilometers.
   Control from within the pod made one feel as though they were controlling a giant LBX robot, but a majority of the times they were was when it was an emergency or they were fighting a large-scale battle against an evil organization.
   Even now.
   A long time had passed since they’d boarded here.
   As Ban gripped the control rod, he gave a small sigh. He recalled his erased world and his mother. The hold on his composure was by a thread. Something about the quality of this “fight” seemed different from those he’d had before.
   As if seeing through his worry, a communications window opened on his monitor. It was Hiro.
   “Ban-san, do you have a minute?”
   “Yeah, what’s up?”
   “I’ve been thinking, do you think we’re up against aliens?”
   “…It’s certainly hard to believe this is done by humans.”
   Ban smiled wryly at Hiro’s wild imagination that the mysterious UFO could be aliens. He felt a touch of his anxiety loosen up.
   “It would be fine if it were aliens. This is something completely new to us, after all. But if they’re human… why they would do this, and how, aren’t things we can understand just by thinking about it. I want to know the truth about this, quickly.”
   Ban’s eyes grew stern as he talked. Even Hiro, watching him, could feel his tension.


   The starting whistle had just blown across Holy Road Stadium.
   The first to move was New Inazuma Japan. Tsurugi kicked the ball at the kickoff.
   “There’s the kickoff! The match you can’t take your eyes off of has begun!”
   The ball passed from Tsurugi to Hakuryuu. Hakuryuu glanced back to check that Tenma and Taiyou were behind him, then dribbled into the other team’s side.
   Gouenji charged in to stop Hakuryuu.
   Being the first to clash against one of the Legend Japan made Hakuryuu excited. That Gouenji was coming before him, to steal the ball from him. With sharp dribbling mingled with a feint, Hakuryuu slipped past Gouenji.
   Gouenji looked back as Hakuryuu blew past him like the wind. He couldn’t help smiling.
   “Nice moves. No holding back on whoever you’re up against!”
   “This isn’t the time to be dishing out compliments! You’re smearing mud on the Legend Japan’s name!” Someoka called out, looking gleeful.
   The adults took on with the utmost pleasure the sight of Hakuryuu charging through them fiercely and the rest of Tenma’s team rushing to support him.
   Fubuki went in to check Hakuryuu. Without pushing himself, Hakuryuu made a pass to Shindou who had moved up from the sides.
   Taking the pass without dribbling, Shindou kicked the ball lightly up into the air and jumped.
   “Hissatsu tactics! God’s Baton: Fire Illusion!”
   It was a hissatsu technique evolved from God’s Baton. A pass line made of flames spread from Nishiki, to Yukimura, to Tenma. The ball, along with the fire, passed from Nishiki to Tenma.
   Kidou and Hiroto went in to mark Tenma.
   “Aggressive Beat!”
   As he dribbled, Tenma let out an offense technique and shot past Kidou and Hiroto.
   “Not bad. I felt the wind!” Hiroto said, praising Tenma. Kidou grinned and nodded.
   Having managed to successfully pull off a hissatsu technique against two veterans, Tenma’s excitement shot through the roof. His dribbling became even more rhythmical, and when he caught Tsurugi on the edge of his vision, he made a quick pass.
   Tsurugi caught the ball with a direct trap and went into dribbling. At once, Hakuryuu came running beside him on his right.
   As the two kept pace, they glanced at each other.
   Legend Japan’s goal was directly ahead of them. The only people they had to get past were Kabeyama, Tsunami, and Endou.
   “Kabeyama, leave this to me!”
   Tsunami ran towards Tsurugi and Hakuryuu.
   As Tsurugi threw Tsunami a threatening look, he kicked the ball upwards into the air with all of his power.
   “Above?!” Even as Tsunami yelled, he jumped in response.
   A small moment later, Hakuryuu also jumped.
   “Come out! Holy Beast, Shining Dragon!”
   An intense belligerent energy emitted from all over Hakuryuu’s body. As light boiled over, that energy took shape into his Avatar, Holy Beast Shining Dragon.
   The glittering Avatar spread its wings, and its power even collected into the ball flying in the air, making its light increase.
   Unable to fight back, Tsunami landed back on the ground and looked up with his eyes wide. “An Avatar! Whoa!”
   “It’s huge!”
   Kabeyama remembered this Avatar back at God Eden, but its glow and the pressure emitting from its light were far greater than how they had felt before. It was clear that Hakuryuu had leveled up even more since the incident at God Eden.
   Answering to Hakuryuu’s yell, Shining Dragon transformed into a armor made of light and armed itself onto Hakuryuu. It was the completion of Avatar Armed.
   The appearance of Avatars, where one’s own aura was materialized into shape, that had flourished within the soccer world was now a thing of the past. Now, it was the era where players wore their Avatars to use them. Arming the Avatar’s energy around their bodies enabled them to utilize that power more effectively.
   “He’s brought out the big cards at the very beginning,” Kazemaru said, squinting up at the Avatar Armed.
   Someoka answered back, exalted, “Yeah, isn’t this great?”
   In his Avatar Armed state, Hakuryuu made a shoot with all of his might.
   “Dragon Blaster!”
   With explosive energy and light, the ball flew towards Legend Japan’s goal.
   Waiting for it was the goalkeeper Mamoru Endou but—- suddenly, he ran ahead.
   “What’s this?! Keeper Endou is running from the goal! Why isn’t he defending?!”
   Commentator Kakuma bent over from his chair, spit flying everywhere.
   Endou ran between the defenders Kazemaru and Kabeyama, and kept going.
   “Defense! I leave it to you!”
   “We’ll take care of this!”
   Giving a thumbs up, Kabeyama made the signal to Kazemaru and Sakuma.
   Hakuryuu didn’t have time to understand what was happening in front of him.
   Tenma, Tsurugi, and even Shindou were confused by Endou’s crazy move and had stopped running.
   Standing before the goal, Kazemaru, Kabeyama, and Sakuma jumped together.
   “Let’s go! Deep Jungle!”
   Speaking as one voice, the defenders let loose a perfectly coordinated combination Tarzan kick. Kicked from three sides by the collective power of their right legs, they stopped Hakuryuu’s powerful Dragon Blaster!
   The clash of the two hissatsu techniques made a shockwave sweep through the field.
   The power of the three Legend Japan that excelled even the hissatsu shoot of an Avatar Armed left Hakuryuu astonished. But while he was shocked, adrenaline pumped through his brain as he worked to figure out how to play against these worthy opponents.
   “It sure burns you up, doesn’t it?” Tsurugi said, running up to him.
   “This is the way it has to be,” Hakuryuu smirked.
   The ball, blocked by Deep Jungle, fell to the ground, which Tsunami recovered without a moment’s delay.
   “We’re just getting started! Sparkle Wave!”
   The same time Tsunami kicked the ball, he unleashed a collaboration of waves and stars. As if riding a wave like a shooting star, his shoot that sparkled with lights swept past Inazuma Legend Japan’s area right towards New Inazuma Japan’s defenders.
   Neither Kinako, Kariya, nor Kirino had time to block the shoot, being blown backwards by the shockwave that came with it.
   “Shinsuke! Stop it!” Tenma shouted.
   Endou kept running, as he joined up to the place where Tsunami’s shoot would land.
   While mentally blown away by the intensity approaching him, Shinsuke saw what Endou and Legend Japan were after.
   “A shoot chain?!”
   Even Hakuryuu, whose shoot was blocked, saw Endou and the trajectory of the ball and whispered in surprise, “That can’t be! He believed that his friends… that the ball would come to him?!”
   Without a trace of hesitation in his eyes, Endou faced the ball that came towards him and went into his stance of unleashing his own hissatsu.
   “Gigaton Head!”
   The heading technique Megaton Head that he had created during his time as a libero had evolved immensely, into a libero variant of the God Hand. Collecting his fighting energy into his forehead, his aura gathered there to bring out God Hand. The hand that spread palm outwards as a goalkeeper move clenched into a fist that punched even more power into Tsunami’s shoot.
   With the power of two shoots inside the ball now, the shoot flew towards Shinsuke’s goal.
   Shinsuke abruptly went into the stance to bring out his Avatar, but the shoot chain sent Shinsuke flying in the blink of an eye and crashed into the net.
   Inazuma Legend Japan took the first point. At once the separate cheers of the crowd swelled into a huge roar, and when Tsunami made a backflip performance to celebrate his shoot going in, it drove them mad.
   As Endou jogged back to the goal, he smiled wickedly at Tenma.
   It wasn’t the usual smile he showed as Coach, that warm smile that showed the huge capacity of his nature and gave his players relief. It was the face of a man fighting, and the face of a warrior who had done his job and made the score.
   While Tenma felt swallowed up by that intensity, he nodded at the challenge in Endou’s eyes to come at them.
   Tenma felt that bringing out all the power they each had alone wasn’t going to be enough to win this match. Without power and decisions that went past their limits, they wouldn’t even compare favorably with these veterans, he thought, bracing himself as he returned to his position.
   Hakuryuu, who felt responsible for losing this point, also couldn’t keep his composure.
   “That was a really sudden and bold strategy.”
   “Yeah, they got us good. As expected of Endou-san.”
   Hakuryuu was a bit taken aback by Tsurugi’s words. Even though they lost a point, he sounded refreshed.
   “I’m glad I got to come here. I’ll make it in next time.”
   Filled to the brim with fighting soul, Hakuryuu went back into position.
   “Incredible. Endou-san really is incredible…”
   As Tenma spoke in admiration, Shindou heard him and, looking at Endou who had returned to the goal and was taking on his team’s rough welcome, said, “Endou-san has set the guiding principle at the start of the fight. The team, as one, fights with everything they have. Because that’s soccer.”
   “Yes… Shindou-san, soccer sure is fun! We can’t afford to lose either.”
   “Yeah, it is fun, Tenma.”
   Although they had lost a point from an unexpected attack, the game had only begun. They just had to get back a point this time. Tenma and Shindou nodded at each other and waited for the whistle that would resume the game.
   But what they heard first echoing across the field instead was the sound of gloves slapping together and a voice encouraging all members. Just as he had often done during his times as a young boy, Endou stood before the goal, raising his voice.
   “How’s that, guys? This is soccer!”
   Endou made a fist and stuck it out towards Tenma and the others.
   “We won’t lose either!” Tenma answered back with Endou’s own frequent phrase.
   “Guys, let’s play soccer!”
   They were magic words. The words of the Raimon Eleven that began with Mamoru Endou and were inherited by Tenma Matsukaze.
   Now they were the invincible soul of a language that spread to all soccer players.
   Even Aoi and the girls watching over the game could feel their faces relaxing into smiles.
   “Tenma looks like he’s having so much fun.”
   “We lost the first point, but we’ll make the next goal! Go! New Inazuma Japan!”
   As Midori raised her voice to give cheering yells, Akane continued to take pictures with a smile.
   The whistle to resume the match blew.
   A point behind, New Inazuma Japan attacked anew.


   Aoi, the girls, and the stadium audience weren’t the only ones watching the game.
   Two boys and one girl were also watching them.
   They were inside a quiet, warm airspace, as though inside something organic, like a large tree.
   “…Fighting is bad,”
   The boy with cool eyes said with a smile.
   “You think so too, don’t you? Red Sol, Blue Nogg,” he said to the two LBX floating on either side of him.
   The red LBX was Red Sol. The blue LBX, Blue Nogg. The LBX that had attacked Ban and the others were under this boy’s control.
   “Now, let’s get started.”
   A boy with the sharp eyes of a wild animal’s, and a bandanna over his dreadlocks, cracked his knuckles.
   And one more. The girl whose long hair floated behind her as she sat with her legs elegantly folded together.
   Her eyes were cold, with no emotion in them.
   The soccer game that showed on their monitor was, without any doubt, a “battle.” And here were many humans mad with amusement as they delighted in watching this wicked “battle” that knew no limits to savagery.
   They must disappear, the girl thought as her eyes narrowed.


   Ten minutes into the exhibition match, and the crowd was in even more of a frenzy.
   Neither team had scored an additional point, and the score was still 1-0 with Inazuma Legend Japan still in the lead. It wasn’t about boys and men. You could say that Endou’s first heroic point was what decided the behavior of the game.
   Tenma’s team would run, and Gouenji’s team would clash with the children without holding back.
   Their magnificent pass work, their superb way of distracting them completely into falling for a feint, their unbelievable jumping ability. Every time Endou’s team made a successful action, it wasn’t actually the cheers of the crowd that came first but those of Tenma and his team.
   Their happiness at being able to see these god-like plays, so close that they could feel the shockwaves and auras that rose to stop their every hissatsu, strengthened their fighting spirit.
   As for Gouenji and the adults, seeing Tenma and the others come at them without a second thought and successfully pull off their hissatsu against them, made them feel joy from the very bottom of their hearts.
   The plays of both teams created a synergy, and both the players on the pitch and the crowd were drunk from “battle.” For all of the people there, the enthusiasm they felt was the closest thing to a moment of happiness.
   As Tenma ran towards the ball, he suddenly felt the sense that someone was watching him.
   It wasn’t filled with the wild enthusiasm that flowed throughout the entire stadium. It was a cold, hard gaze.
   As if that spot alone belonged in a different dimension, Tenma stopped and looked back at the person in front of him.
   On the side of the field, near the entrance way, stood a lone girl.
   Since they were in the middle of a match, it was hard to think that someone would be standing there. She was acting in a way that was so unbalanced with this place.
   The girl’s mouth was moving, as if she was mumbling under her breath. With her hands clasped together in front of her chest, she looked as if she was praying.
   Tenma felt something cold and unhappy run through him. It was an unpleasant feeling he could not describe.
   Tenma wasn’t the only one who felt a nasty premonition. Tsurugi suddenly stopped running and looked up at the sky.
   Baffled by Tsurugi’s actions, Hakuryuu called out to him.
   “Tsurugi! We’re in the middle of a game!” Hakuryuu yelled at Tsurugi angrily, but following Tsurugi’s gaze, he too stopped in his tracks in puzzlement.
   Electrical discharge ran through the blue sky, causing distortions. A small black shadow began to appear from within the distortions. Before long, it began to coagulate into the shadowy shape of a flower bud.
   With the sun’s rays illuminating it from behind, the mysterious UFO remained in the air a far distance from the stadium.
   Tenma’s team and even Endou’s team had stopped moving to look up at it.
   Even the crowd saw the large object in the sky and began to murmur.
   From this UFO that stretched over a hundred meters, a long line of light shot out.

Chapter 3 — Enemies and Friends

   The light from the UFO flew straight towards the stadium.
   Tenma squinted upwards to get a clearer view of what was coming, but without him getting the chance, the light crashed straight into the field’s center circle!
   The bright light created an impact sound that made their ears ring, and dust flew all over the field from the resulting shockwave.
   Tenma and the others fell to their knees having received a direct hit.
   Tenma stood up while warily making sure that the dust was settling back down.
   As the dust cleared, a single boy stood upon the center circle with his arms folded. His long white dreadlocks were held by a blue bandanna. His eyes glinted with fierce challenge.
   The boy said lazily, “Think I can join you guys… in soccer?”
   Tenma and the others were unable to respond to these unexpected words.
   A soccer ball appeared at the boy’s feet like magic.
   The next instant, when Tenma and everyone could only respond with wide-eyed surprise of “?!”, a shockwave exploded across the entire field and a long line of dust flew towards Legend Japan’s goal. Only after the dust blew up did the sound of explosion come afterwards. It happened so fast that the vibrations of the air needed time to spread and reach Tenma’s and everyone’s ears!
   On the other side, amid the fumes from the explosion, Endou had received the ball directly into his stomach and flew into the air.
   He didn’t even have the chance to think about stopping it. When Endou realized he was flying into the air, he couldn’t even remember having seen the boy kick the ball since it appeared at his feet. It was the same for Tenma and the others. None of them could understand what had just happened. They stared in bewilderment at the tragedy before their eyes.
   Tenma’s scream wasn’t heard amid the scattering explosion.
   Endou fell to the floor before the goal. His gastric juices went up the wrong way and he could taste bitterness in his mouth. Severe pain took over his limbs, and even someone as experienced and competent like Mamoru Endou couldn’t stand back up right away.
   The boy walked slowly towards the ball that had rebounded back from Endou and was rolling through the pitch.
   Shindou, Gouenji, and the others began to surround him while keeping their distance, looking with wariness and fear at this sudden intruder.
   Not appearing bothered by their actions, the boy calmly picked up the ball that had traveled all the way back to his feet.
   At last able to shake off the confusion that had taken hold of his speech functions, Shindou broke the ice.
   “Who are you?!”
   “I don’t have to answer that when you’re about to disappear.”
   The boy answered scoffingly, and he hurled the ball up into the air. Power gathered into his eyes.
   Instantly, an aura was unleashed from the boy, creating turbulence in the air.
   Endou, who was finally able to stand up, sensed the danger and yelled in a hoarse voice.
   “This is bad…!”
   Endou’s warning yell disappeared within the turbulence.
   The boy spread his arms out wide, putting “energy” into the ball that rose into the air. The ball itself began to radiate with a fierce light and the air turbulence began to change into a squall.
   Nishiki and Tenma charged towards the boy.
   “Tenma, you know what to do right?!”
   “Yes, Nishiki-senpai!”
   The two concentrated their souls, releasing their Avatars.
   “We won’t let you get away with this! Sengoku War God Musashi1”
   Nishiki’s Avatar, Sengoku War God Musashi, posed with its two swords at the ready.
   “Demon God Pegasus Arc!”
   Tenma’s Avatar, Demon God Pegasus Arc spread its large wings as it rose up with a roar.
   Tenma changed Pegasus Arc’s light into armor which he wrapped around himself. With his newfound wings, his speed increased.
   The defenders Kinako, Kirino, and Kariya ran forward to aid him.
   “We’re stopping him, Kariya, Kinako!”
   Kinako and Kariya answered to Kirino’s command.
   As the boy gazed at the five approaching him at full blast, he brought more power into himself so much that sparks flew from both him and the ball, expanding into a giant sphere of aura. The boy flew up within his aura to the ball still risen in the air.
   “Too late.”
   Surrounded by that sphere, the boy shot towards the goal with the ball at his feet, as if he himself was a shoot.
   Yukimura and Taiyou made a sliding towards him from both sides, not to be outdone by the sphere’s intense pressure.
   Seven people faced him, but the boy’s power was overwhelming.
   The Avatar Armed was undone as if smashed to pieces, and Sengoku War God Musashi blew backwards, disappearing. The three defenders, Yukimura, and Taiyou were all but powerless before the shockwave and easily blown away.
   The boy headed towards the goal.
   While surprised by what he was seeing, Shinsuke stood at the ready. Seeing him, the boy kicked the ball up into the air, unleashing a hissatsu shoot that distorted, even cut through, the air around it.
   “Dimension Storm!”
   Against a superior shoot that could stir up a storm, Shinsuke didn’t stand a chance.
   The ball crashed, along with Shinsuke, into the net.
   It happened instantly, with only time to blink. After shooting the ball mid-air, the boy landed lightly on his feet.
   “Hey, why don’t you guys quit soccer?”
   “What…?” Tsurugi asked sharply.
   “Fighting about who wins or not through ball-playing, that’s just dumb, huh?”
   “You… don’t you dare insult soccer!”
   Tsurugi ran towards the boy on reflex. To him, those words were unforgivable.
   First, they had been forbidden to play freely for their victories and losses, and just when he thought they were freed from that, the world had changed… at last, after so much hard work to set things to rights, they were able to play this free-style match. Hearing this boy mock them and their efforts was something Tsurugi could never forgive.
   “Stop, Tsurugi!”
   Tenma, Shindou, and even Hakuryuu ran to stop Tsurugi.
   The mysterious boy only smiled wickedly. In that instant, explosions occurred throughout the stands!
   As flames and smoke blew upwards, the screams of the crowd intensified.
   Bewildered, Tenma felt a burning sharp pain shoot across his cheek and turned around to see what had caused it. In that moment, the earth around him exploded and he fell to the ground instinctively.
   “What is going on?!”
   “Everyone, please run! Run calmly and quietly so there are no accidents!”
   The commentator Kakuma’s broadcast swept throughout the entire stadium. Their friends in the stands were caught up by the waves of the evacuating crowd and could do nothing else but follow.
   With the explosions showing no sign of stopping, the audience was reduced to a state of panic. They began to scramble to be the first out of the doors, the voices of people instructing them not even entering their ears. Within that confusion, there were many who could be seen losing their balance and falling.
   The officials instructing the evacuation also cried out to Tenma and the others on the pitch.
   We have to leave, both teams thought, but just as they were about to, they saw swarms of red and blue flying machines beginning to spread throughout the sky. They froze from fear.
   The swarms that dropped down from the mysterious UFO remaining in the air were Red Sol and Blue Nogg, the very machines that had assaulted Ban Yamano and his friends in N-City’s Central Park!
   While it had been only one of each back then, this time they were descending in flocks, in fearsome numbers that could not be counted.
   Both Red Sol and Blue Nogg flew about vertically or horizontally at random, never making regular movements. Every one of them flew about the way they wished, and shot at whatever they saw.
   Tenma, Endou, everyone on the field, and even Aoi and the other managers reached the end of their wits, and they couldn’t even move, they were so speechless.
   Only the boy with dreadlocks stood aloof amid this mayhem, his eyes filled with rapt attention as he spread out his arms wide as if inviting himself to get shot. He roared,
   “That’s it! Destroy! Erase everything!”
   At last, Shindou was able to regain his composure and spoke.
   “Are these… robots, Kidou-san?”
   “I don’t know. Is this really happening?”
   Even the normally composed Kidou couldn’t keep the quiver out of his voice.
   Kabeyama was shaken up, holding his head in his hands. “This time, it really is aliens!”
   We have to move, Endou thought. Clapping his gloves together numerous times to get everyone’s attention, he spoke in a loud voice.
   “Everyone, evacuate! All of you, stick together and run for the exits!”
   “Guys, this way!” Midori cried out from the bench, pointing at the entrance way.
   Tenma searched for the girl he had seen standing at that entrance way before this incident began.
   …She wasn’t there.
   As Tenma looked around wildly, Taiyou pushed him from behind, urging him to run.
   “Hurry, Tenma!”
   “She isn’t here!”
   “Yeah, just before…”
   Tenma pointed to the entranceway as they ran.
   “I don’t know who you mean, but she must have escaped! Now hurry!” Taiyou rushed Tenma.
   Tenma could not forget that girl’s sad eyes.


   The stadium was already evacuated, with drinks and snacks littered about the seats to show evidence of the crowd’s panic.
   Crushing an empty drink container with his foot in detest, there stood another boy.
   He had neatly cut hair and cool eyes. Standing with his back straight, the boy held in his hand a strange device that looked similar to a gun. When he clicked the trigger, monitors expanded from either side of the barrels and information began to scroll through them. This boy controlled Red Sol and Blue Nogg, using a gun-type CCM similar to what Ban and his friends used to control their LBX.
   Information windows opened one after the other on the monitors, concerning data on Red Sol and Blue Nogg. The boy’s gaze turned from the monitors to the bandanna boy with dreadlocks standing on the ground below.
   “Looks like Asta is in high spirits.”
   The boy called Asta, while laughing scornfully at Tenma and the others attempt to escape, looked up at the stands.
   ((You’re here, San.))
   Asta called the boy holding the CCM, San.
   Although they weren’t in speaking distance of each other, their voices echoed within the other’s head. They were speaking to each other through telepathy.
   ((Time to begin the show.))
   With the screens that popped out from his CCM, he was able to get a grasp of all Red Sol and Blue Nogg’s behaviors. As San watched the screen, he pressed commands into his gun-type CCM, ordering both LBX types to attack.


   The Red Sol and Blue Nogg destroyed the stands above the entrance way, blocking their path. As they hid themselves from the explosions, Tenma and the others looked around at the other entrance ways and found them all to be destroyed and blocked by wreckage.
   They were locked in.
   At once, they were surrounded by a large army of Red Sol and Blue Nogg.
   Endou and the adults stood over the children, as though to protect them.
   “Endou-san, what do we do?!” Tenma said beside Endou, while Midori boldly thrusted a mop at the LBX to ward them off.
   “Why, you! You!”
   The mop was unable to hit anything and a Red Sol shot the handle, breaking it into two. They went back to retreating.
   Aoi and Akane tried to stop Midori.
   “That’s dangerous, Midori-chan.”
   “It’s better for us to run!”
   “We can’t run, that’s why I was chasing them off!”
   “But we can’t do anything against these numbers!” Kinako cried, looking up with helpless bafflement.
   While Endou and the others were in a sea of confusion, Asta spoke to them in triumph.
   “It’s useless. You guys are destined to be erased.”
   “What do you mean, erased?” Tenma shouted bitingly.
   Asta snickered. He obviously had no intention of answering. The ball appeared at his feet again.
   Tenma and the others stood ready, but as Asta looked at them challengingly, his brows suddenly furrowed and his gaze drifted as if he was listening to something. They too, turned their ears to hear what had brought on Asta’s change.
   Cutting through the explosions throughout the stadium made by Red Sol and Blue Nogg, the faint sound of a jet coming from the far end of the sky could be heard getting closer.
   That sound made everyone there raise their eyes to the sky.
   The jet sounds at once became a thunderous roar, and it approached the skies above the stadium in the blink of an eye.
   “Something else is here!” Shinsuke cried, pointing.
   A large shuttle of bright blue and white colors was approaching the Holy Road Stadium in a large circle.
   It was Duck Shuttle Remastered.
   The shuttle circled the stadium, as if warily watching the hovering UFO and wanting to put distance between it.
   Asta watched the Duck Shuttle and grinned.
   “Here’s an interesting turn.”
   ((Asta. Leave this to me.))
   San was looking up at the Duck Shuttle too.
   Asta nodded and, leaving the soccer ball there, disappeared.
   “Ahh, he vanished?!”
   While Tenma and the others were dumbfounded, they were surrounded by a swarm of LBX and couldn’t move.
   As they watched the Duck Shuttle R swerving, their anxiety only increased.


   The situation within Holy Road Stadium was captured on Duck Shuttle Remastered’s main monitor, and the video was even transferred to those sitting within the control pods.
   Ban and the others not only felt surprise but anger, as they watched this direct form of violence and destruction fall upon this world. It wasn’t the same as it had occurred in their world. The guns that had attacked in Central Park had all been within LBX battle; the enemy had never ventured such massive destruction as this. Where was this difference in attack method coming from?
   Just then, a communications window opened showing Takuya in the cockpit. It was being transmitted to all nine control pods at the same time.
   “All of you, listen up. There are people trapped in the soccer stadium below, unable to escape to safety.”
   Ban looked at the monitor. From what he could see of the zoomed up video, the people trapped were wearing uniforms so they must be soccer players.
   “You must take down the enemy LBX ASAP and help them escape. Be careful, everyone.”
   “Roger that. Takuya-san, what action should be taken on the UFO above?” Ban questioned. Rescuing the people below went without saying, but they had come here by chasing after that UFO. There was no way they could let it slip through their fingers.
   Appearing around Takuya to answer Ban were Doctor Yamano, Otacross, and Cobra from the briefing room.
   “Actually Ban, we’ve been trying to make contact with it but we can’t get close deyo.”
   “Can’t get close?”
   “It’s as if it has already expected our actions. It’s enclosed itself in some sort of barrier to cut off our attempts at reaching it. No matter how much we increase our speed, we can’t penetrate through.”
   Doctor Yamano was also puzzled. No matter how high the Duck Shuttle Remastered raised its speed, some sort of invisible wall surrounded several kilometers around the UFO and they could not approach it in the slightest. This mysterious barrier couldn’t even be detected on their radars, nor was it physical.
   “Ban, we’re going to continue our analysis of this barrier. You must put rescuing the people below your priority now. As long as the enemy LBX are below, that UFO mothership of theirs ought to stick around. We’ll figure out a way to break into it, no matter what.”
   “Okay, Dad. We’re launching!”
   Ban focused himself and readjusted his grip on the control stick.
   “Ready, everyone?”
   Immediately the others’ communications windows opened, and Hiro and co. said in one voice, “Yeah!”


   “Launch gate, open!”
   At Takuya’s command, Metamo R opened Duck Shuttle Remastered’s outer hatch. The LBX launchpad appeared.
   “Begin countdown!”
   His mind clear even as he yelled, Ban punched in the order to undo the safety lock. He placed his partner Ikaros Zero onto the launch rail.
   “Ikaros Zero! Ban Yamano is off!”
   Ikaros Zero’s jet nozzles began to spray and as Ban pushed the grip forward, it slid along the rail easily and flew to the outside.
   Hiro’s Ikaros Force flew out not a few seconds later.
   “Ikaros Force, Hiro Oozora! Here I go!”
   Ikaros Force lined up besides Ikaros Zero.
   “Minerva Remastered! Ran Hanasaki, launching!”
   The third to leap outside was Ran’s Minerva Remastered. It joined the two Ikaros in a triple formation mid-air to descend below.
   Takuya’s next orders ran throughout the control pods. “Riding Sousa corps, you’re up next! Launch!”
   LBX that were not capable of flight were equipped with aerial units called Riding Sousa for launch. Jin’s Triton, Yuuya’s Liu Bei, Jessica’s Jeanne-D, Asuka’s Vampire Cat, and Ami’s Pandora each rode upon a Riding Sousa, their individual weapons at the ready.
   The last behind them came Achilles Deed, who had its own aerial capability.
   At the front line was Ban, Hiro, and Ran. The Riding Sousa corps took on a wedge-shaped formation. Achilles Deed held the rear.
   “Everyone, we’re heading down to the stadium,” Jin ordered them all with his eyes on the battle below.
   Noticing the descending LBX, Red Sol and Blue Nogg accelerated upwards at them, firing.
   With clever control, Ban and the others dodged their attacks, mercilessly returning fire on those they could reach and destroying them.
   “So, what do we do? We’re at a pretty big disadvantage against these numbers,” Yuuya called out even as he plunged into the fray.


   Meanwhile, while Tenma, Endou, and the others were surrounded, they saw the mid-air battle that exploded abruptly above them and lost their voices again.
   “Something different’s come!” Shinsuke wailed, clinging to Tenma.
   “Is this some kind of dream…?” Yukimura said dazedly to nobody in particular.
   The dogfight between those small robots looked like something from a movie. The nine robots that had come afterwards shot down Red Sol and Blue Nogg one after the other, with overwhelming power and mobility.


   As they brought down Red Sol and Blue Nogg, Ban and the others swallowed nervously as they watched, from what they could through their LBX camera lens, the destruction around them and the spectators/soccer players who still hadn’t escaped.
   “The damage is greater than I anticipated. Everyone, sweep up the enemy LBX while covering the public’s way to safety as our utmost priority!” Ban ordered rapidly. “Disperse!”
   “Roger!” Hiro and the others answered, scattering in all four directions.
   To protect the people who were still running through the audience seats to reach the stairs, Ban and the others rushed in to slice down the red and blue enemy LBX.
   Ban immediately began to punch in the command for his hissatsu function.
   “Hissatsu function!”
   “Attack Function. Thunder Burst.”
   The electronic voice of Ban’s CCM followed his voice.
   Ikaros Zero unleashed an energy bullet of enormous power. That energy bullet became a beam of light of even greater brightness, sweeping the enemy LBX off of their feet.
   Ran also aimed for the enemy with the Minerva Strikes on both arms.
   “I can’t lose to Ban or Hiro!”
   Continuously shooting with Minerva Strikes, she destroyed the enemy red and blue LBX in her wake.
   But there were some who dodged her attack and came rushing towards her at incredible speed.
   “What the heck, they’re so fast!”
   Seeing them, Ban quickly let off a warning shot at the enemy.
   “Ran, be careful! They may look the same, but each of them has different levels of ability!”
   “Okay, in that case, I just have to change tactics!”
   Taking Ban’s advice, Ran’s Minerva Remastered charged at a Red Sol, pushing it backwards.
   As the Red Sol crashed into the stadium wall, Ran punched her command button without a moment’s delay.
   “Hissatsu function!”
   “Attack Function. Thunder God’s Fist.”
   With the energy concentrated around its right fist, Minerva Remastered’s punch plunged into the Red Sol, exploding it.
   As they eyed the explosion, the other LBX continued to bring down the Red Sol and Blue Nogg.
   Jin’s Triton pierced through them with Seahorse Anchor, while Yuuya’s Liu Bei slayed them with its slashes. Asuka’s Vampire Cat masterfully manipulated the Riding Sousa to dodge the enemy’s blows and paid them back in turn as it flew past them.
   Hiro tightened his hold on the grip that controlled Ikaros Force.
   “Go! Ikaros Force!”
   As it flew swiftly across the ground, it continuously shot from both hands with its Heaven Blasters.
   “Hissatsu function!”
   “Attack Function. Big Bang Slash.”
   Ikaros Force changed weapons from Heaven Blasters into its Force Blades, spiraling as it destroyed the enemy LBX in every direction.
   As if sensing Ban’s anxiety, a communications window from Takuya appeared.
   “Updated information. We’ve managed to lead the audience to safety. The only ones left currently are the twenty or so soccer players and other members concerned on the field.”
   The information that Takuya sent them displayed on the monitor.
   “Make their safety a priority.”
   “Yes, sir!”
   Ban directed his Ikaros Zero towards the direction of Tenma and the others.


   As he traced those movements with his eyes, San smiled.
   “Let’s see what you can do.”
   Hovering in the air beside San were two LBX that were neither Red Sol or Blue Nogg. These two made faint motor noises, as if they were conversing with San.
   “Digitonias I, Digitonias II. Do you wish to be out there as well?”
   Digitonias I held a massive halberd, while Digitonias II possessed a long-range rifle. These two brother robots, as if displaying self-awareness and thought, raised the sounds of the motors within their bodies.
   “You can’t, the trump card must be kept for last. Besides, it’s not worth it for you to be out there.”
   San smiled at both as he urged them to control themselves. He treated these LBX as though they possessed their own intelligence.
   The motors within both Digitonias I and Digitonias II lowered back to normal, as if they were quietly obeying San’s words.
   “Yes, that’s it. That’s best.”
   A satisfied smile on his face, San’s gaze returned to his hologram monitor. The monitor displayed nine dots representing Ban and the others, surrounded by an endless multitude of dots.
   “Only nine total, huh? Will those numbers be enough to beat mine?”


   Yuuya pressed the commands for his hissatsu function.
   “Attack Function. Drill Slasher.”
   Liu Bei gathered energy into its sword and charged ahead. The enemy LBX fell prey to its current of super high-speed energy in the blink of an eye.
   Vampire Cat and Jeanne-D also took down the enemy with their hissatsu function.
   Nevertheless, it did not change the fact that they were highly outnumbered. As Ban’s panic grew, Jin’s communications channel opened.
   “Ban-kun, can you hear me? Let’s ask for help from the soccer players remaining below.”
   While Ban was surprised by that suggestion, he agreed.
   “Good idea. Hiro! Did you hear that? Come with me!”
   Ikaros Zero and Ikaros Force, slaying down the enemy that swarmed around them, began to descend rapidly.


   As Tenma and the others watched the aerial battle in blank amazement, some of them began to wonder aloud if Ban and the others were actually on their side. Tenma spoke those thoughts honestly to Kidou.
   “Kidou-san, aren’t those robots curious?”
   “You mean the ones who came later?”
   “Yes. They’re acting as if they’re trying to help us. Don’t you feel that way?”
   “It certainly doesn’t seem like mere coincidence.”
   As Kidou delved into thought, Hiro’s Ikaros Force suddenly swooped down before them. Hiro’s tense voice rang out from the robot.
   “Everyone, please listen!”
   Shinsuke dropped to the ground in surprise by that voice.
   “Uwah! It talked!”
   “They really are aliens!” Kabeyama’s voice quivered as he shook in fright.
   “Can you hear me, everyone?”
   Ikaros Force raised its hand in a human-like gesture, as if to draw everyone’s attention.
   “Yes, we can!” Tenma answered. He stepped closer to it but Hakuryuu stopped him hurriedly.
   “Be careful! It might be the enemy!”
   “You’re wrong! We’re on your side! You must believe me!” Hiro’s voice was indignant.
   “On our side…”
   “Yes! Believe me!”
   Ban’s Ikaros Zero joined up just then.
   “The enemy is not only extremely powerful, there’s just too many of them. We need your help in fending them off.”
   “Our help?!”
   In response to Tenma’s surprise, Ban explained, “Do you see that scoreboard?”
   Tenma and the others looked at the scoreboard that Ikaros Zero pointed to. While bits of it was destroyed, it was still functioning as an electric scoreboard.
   “That scoreboard ought to be fueled by a massive energy supply, with tons of electricity running through it. We’ll lure the enemy there. Once we’ve accomplished that, we want you to aim at it with powerful shoots.”
   “So we just have to destroy that scoreboard.”
   “That’s right! By destroying the circuits inside, the electrical currents will short-circuit and it should destroy the enemy LBX from the resulting shockwave.”
   As Tenma declared in one sentence what their job was, Hiro’s encouraging voice responded through Ikaros Force.
   “Shoots, huh? Sounds interesting to me! Let’s do it!” Tsunami said heartily.
   Ikaros Force whirled through the air happily.
   “Thank you. We’ll be counting on you!”
   Ikaros Zero and Ikaros Force both returned to the skies.
   “They left…” Shinsuke said, his voice drained as if he still couldn’t believe what was happening.
   After Tenma watched the two robots disappear back into the swarming army above, he spoke up to the others.
   “Let’s try it, everyone! I think those robots are fighting their hardest for us!”
   But Hakuryuu was against Tenma’s thoughts.
   “Wait, Tenma. Won’t you consider that this could be the enemy’s trap?”
   “No, if this keeps up, it won’t change anything. It might be worth a shot giving it a try,” Tsurugi said, placing a hand on Hakuryuu’s shoulder.
   Hakuryuu gave Tsurugi a look and sighed.
   “…Very well. Tsurugi does have a point.”
   “Anyone else with objections?” Endou asked the entire group. No one spoke.
   “All right then, let’s do it! Tenma, give everyone the order!”
   Tenma answered back strongly at Endou’s words, and went to grab the soccer balls at the bench.


   Ban brought Ikaros Zero back to the frontline and contacted Jin.
   “Jin, we told them the plan! Take the reins.”
   “Okay, then we’ll proceed as arranged. All units, switch to long-range firing weapons!”
   At Jin’s words, the LBX carrying close-combat weapons switched to guns.
   “Is everyone ready?”
   After checking that everyone was correctly equipped, Jin gave the order to attack.
   “Rain on them with gunfire!”
   The nine LBX aimed their artillery at the enemy LBX army and attacked them in unison from every direction. Attracted by the attack, the Red Sol and Blue Nogg headed towards them in great numbers.
   “They took the bait. All units, retreat towards the scoreboard!”
   At Jin’s order, their LBX fell back at full speed towards the scoreboard as they continued to fire shots. As they swerved left and right invitingly at the red and blue army heading towards them, the swarm gradually fell away from Tenma and the others.


   As San operated his CCM from the stands, he suspiciously watched the events of the LBX players’ plan unfold before him.
   They enjoyed struggling. They fought back in desperation, in their desire to live, and he thought their fighting was a wretched sight. For they who enjoyed “war,” this was no less what they deserved, San thought.


   The LBX players gathered in front of the scoreboard. To attract as many of the red and blue army as they could, the nine LBX concentrated their gunfire on all four sides.
   “All units, switch to your usual equipment!”
   The LBX corps switched from artillery to their individual weapons once again. With swords and spears, they returned once more to their familiar appearances.
   “Hissatsu function!”
   “Attack Function. Glorious Ray.”
   Beginning with Ban’s Ikaros Zero, the LBX one after another activated their hissatsu function.
   Triton used Grand Wall.
   Vampire Cat used Whale Cannon.
   Ikaros Force used Tempest Blade.
   Minerva Remastered, Jeanne-D, Liu Bei, Achilles Deed, and Pandora also unleashed their special attacks. Beams of light gushed outward, and the air shook as the army dominating the skies exploded in successive explosions.
   Seeing the large explosion, Endou gave Tenma and the others the command.
   “Okay, now!”
   There were three balls left at the bench. In order to make Ban’s plan work, they had to put their greatest, strongest power into the balls with combo plays.
   “Tsurugi, let’s go!”
   Tenma and Tsurugi leaped into the air, wrapped in flames.
   “Fire Tornado Double Drive!”
   Tenma and Tsurugi’s all-body shoot spit out flames as it flew to the scoreboard.
   Endou, Gouenji, and Kidou also leaped and, their hearts united, kicked at the ball in the air from three angles at the same time.
   “Inazuma Break!”
   It was the legendary hissatsu technique that had decided the game again and again back in its day. With a crash of thunder, the second shoot soared as sparks flew over it.
   Someoka, Hiroto, and Fubuki were in charge of the third shoot.
   “Let’s make one in too!”
   Someoka jumped into the air, with Hiroto and Fubuki following after him.
   “Last Death Zone!”
   The three of them formed a triangle. Each of them concentrated their power into their right legs as they kicked the ball together.
   Surrounded by a glittering aura, the ball followed the two shoots that had gone before it.
   Asuka sounded awestruck as she saw the three hissatsu shoots.
   “What is that? It’s like a hissatsu function!”
   Ran’s attention was also caught by the power of those shoots.
   After checking that the shoots Tenma’s team had unleashed were heading their way, Ban’s team used the smoke that swirled around the scoreboard to cover their LBXs’ retreat.
   The three combo shoots combined into one, changing into a huge fiery bullet that crashed into the scoreboard. The scoreboard caved in on the impact, its electrical discharge sizzling everywhere.
   The enemy got caught in the giant explosion that resulted from the blow, along with the electric currents sparking in the air from it.
   The destructive blast brought an induced explosion. That brought, even further, more larger induced explosons, swallowing up the Red Sol and Blue Nogg. The red and blue army looked as if one third of it had been wiped out in an instant.
   Surprised, San ordered his remaining troops to ascend into the air.
   “Hmm… they do pretty well.”
   With those words, he teleported away. Not one person noticed San disappear.


   Ban, Tenma, and the others cheered over their plan’s success.
   “All right!”
   “It worked!”
   Relief and joy could be heard from their voices.
   Seeing the remaining troops ascend, Hiro said, “The enemy is getting away!”
   “We’re going after them! They should be able to pass through that barrier shielding the UFO. Maybe we can get through it too!”
   As Ban gave orders, he relayed to his father back on the Duck Shuttle R what action they were taking next.
   With Ikaros Zero at the front, the LBX corps began to rise into the air.
   Looking up and watching them, Tenma and the others cried out, “They’re going after them!” to Endou.
   “We’ve got to get out of here. We should be able to exit through the route that the audience took. Work together to climb up to the seats!” Endou said to everyone, proposing that rather than dig through the destroyed entrance way, they would use the rubble to reach up to the stadium seats and use the stairs from there.


   San appeared from his teleport into that warm space that was like the inside of a large tree, the place he was in before the attack.
   Asta was waiting there with a sullen look on his face.
   “You held back,” Asta accused sharply.
   San’s face darkened into a nasty look.
   “You weren’t thinking of prolonging the fight to enjoy it, were you?”
   “No, Asta. It just went a bit beyond my expectations. I would never do something that would sadden Sis.”
   Listening to San’s words as he glared at him, Asta did not look convinced.
   “No need to worry. Sis will take care of the finishing touch.”
   The both of them looked at the globe-shaped monitor that floated in the center of the room.
   The monitor showed the girl that San called his older sister.
   Standing among the stadium seats was a girl with azure-colored hair. It was the girl that Tenma had lost sight of.


   While Endou and the others looked for an exit, Ban’s team pursued the Red Sol and Blue Nogg. The girl watched with sadness each world’s “battle” to survive.
   She raised her right hand high into the air. Silently she closed her eyes, placing her left hand onto her chest and moving her lips as though in prayer.
   “Fear takes away the power of people’s hearts…”
   Her body began to glow lightly, radiating a soft aura. The flow of light swept back her long hair into ripples.
   Light began to swell from her raised palm.
   In the blink of an eye, the light dazzled and began to expand.
   Feeling the pressure of the light behind them, Endou and Tenma turned around.
   Beyond the sweep of light expanding towards them, Tenma thought he saw the girl.


   “Ban-san, it’s that light!”
   Hiro’s scream reached Ban’s ears.
   “Oh no!”
   Hurriedly, Ban turned Ikaros Zero around to warn Tenma and the others.
   “Don’t go back!” Takuya’s voice rose sharply from the communications link.
   “We have to save those soccer players! You have to bring the Duck Shuttle Remastered down, please!”
   In a flash, Doctor Yamano appeared on the monitor. “Unfortunately we can’t make it in time! If we go down there, we’ll get swallowed up too! You know how fearsome that light is!”
   “Dad! Are you telling me to abandon them?!”
   “Please, Doctor Yamano!”
   Hiro also pleaded desperately. He did not want to desert the soccer players who had helped them to push back the enemy.
   “Both of you will have to accept it.”
   Jin cut into the conversation.
   “If the light takes us, we’re done for. It’s now difficult for us to pursue that UFO as well. Let’s return to the Duck Shuttle Remastered.”
   He could tell from Jin’s expression through the monitor that it was a tough decision for Jin to make.
   Ban punched the wall in frustration. As he watched the soccer players trying to escape on his monitor, he cursed himself for being able to do nothing but pray.


   At first, Tenma and the others did not understand at all what the mysterious light was.
   But it didn’t take them long enough to see it erasing everything.
   The stadium seats, the field, even the broken enemy robots scattered all over the ground were swallowed up by its light, fading into broken light particles.
   And then, the light widened in preparation of swallowing a larger size prey and headed for them.
   Already occupied as it was trying to climb up the rubble to the stadium seats, the situation was just too much to take in right away.
   “Tenma, run! You’ve got to go!” Endou shouted, jumping off the rubble even as the light fast approached.
   “Eh?! What about you, Endou-san?!”
   When Tenma turned around, he held his breath as he watched Endou run towards the light.
   It wasn’t just Endou. Kidou, Gouenji, Kazemaru, Fubuki… all of Inazuma Legend Japan was running with Endou towards the light.
   The men could tell what Endou was up to. And, they could tell that he alone would not be enough to put up a fight against the light.
   “Go, Tenma!”
   Endou, his eyes fixed on the light, shouted behind him.
   Don’t come here, go, all of Legend Japan’s backs seemed to say, pushing the children away.
   Tenma and the others looked at each other and nodded. They began to climb up the rubble again.
   “Okay! Guys, let’s go!”
   As captain, as the one Endou was relying on to handle the situation on this end, Tenma’s firm commanding voice vibrated with the weight of those two responsibilities.
   Looking over his shoulder to watch Tenma and the others climbing up, Endou took a deep breath and unleashed a loud yell from deep within his belly.
   Lowering his hips, he raised his hand high into the air.
   “Demon God! Great!”
   A golden light rose up from Endou’s entire body like fire. At once, it manifested into his Avatar “Demon God Great,” who appeared with a full-body roar that mimicked Endou’s.
   Thunder surged from his upraised left hand.
   “Great The Hand!”
   Endou went into a catching position.
   Endou’s hands synchronized with that of the Demon God’s, as he tried to hold back the eroding light.
   The golden light and the light expanding towards them clashed fiercely with each other, raising a countless number of large sparks that faded.
   The mysterious light pushed Demon God Great inch by inch backwards and Endou’s heels dug into the earth.
   But Endou did not fall down. On either side of him stood Gouenji and Kidou, each with a hand on his shoulder to hold him up.
   It wasn’t just the two of them. The men of Legend Japan who understood Endou’s feelings stood behind them as well, every one of them holding the shoulder of the one in front of him to form into the shape of a “V”.
   “Guys! Put your backs into it!” Tsunami yelled in a piercing voice.
   The men’s hearts united, and they put force into their hands. Light traveled through them, collecting into Endou. Both “Demon God Great” and Great the Hand shone brighter.
   Endou smiled. Words were unnecessary. These awesome friends who instinctively knew what was to be done were by his side.
   Watching them locked in a push battle with the light, Tenma screamed.
   Endou heard that voice behind him and reprimanded him once again.
   “Don’t stand still!”
   Even as he shouted, Endou pulled out the last of his remaining power to send Tenma his last words.
   “Tenmaaa! Soccer won’t lose!”
   Right after those words were said, Endou and the Legend Japan Eleven, along with Demon God, were swallowed up by the light. The light erased the howling men without a trace.
   The light continued to expand towards them, as if to scorn the men’s efforts. Now it was reaching Tenma and the others as they hurried to escape. The lawn on the field, the dirt, and the rubble got swallowed up, changing into light.
   All of them held their breaths, prepared for their end.
   There was nowhere to run.
   They could feel the light’s pressure and heat.
   They were going to get sucked in!
   The light spread throughout their vision.
   Aoi was so scared that she shut her eyes. Tenma didn’t. He kept his eyes open to try and see what was there beyond the light.
   A gust of wind blew before Tenma and the others as the light approached.
   As the time machine “Inazuma TM Caravan” materialized out of its time jump, it came flying out towards them as if to stand between them and the light.
   The TM Caravan came to an abrupt stop before the surprised group and its door opened. Fei Rune’s face popped out.
   “Everyone, get in!”
   Without any time to ask why their friend from the future was here, they all jumped into the TM Caravan.
   As Tenma and the others practically tumbled inside, Clark Wonderbat (AKA Wondeba) sitting in the driver’s seat turned around to check that everyone was on board. There was no time to wait for everyone to reach their seats. The light was almost upon them.
   “We’re out!”
   Wondeba pushed the gears to the very top and they raced out of the stadium at a highspeed dash.
   By a hair’s breadth, the TM Caravan succeeded in escaping into the skies just before they were about to be swallowed up.
   Through the windows of the accelerating TM Caravan, Tenma and the others stared as the stadium was destroyed.
   “The stadium is disappearing…”
   Shindou’s voice was shaking. It took all he could to speak.
   As Tenma looked on dumbfounded, Tsurugi spoke to him, pointing to an area of ground they could see from above.
   “Tenma, it isn’t only the stadium. Look over here.”
   Tenma lost his words.
   Not even Aoi could understand what she was seeing in front of her.
   “The ground is all patched together…”
   Patched together. From the empty hole where the town was erased slowly rose forests and mountains to fill it up. There was no order to its form or colors, like a patchwork blanket of random design.
   The group looked out from both sides of the caravan to watch the strange patchwork world below, but Shinsuke eventually glanced upwards and cried out.
   “Look at that!”
   In the direction Shinsuke pointed to in the sky, they could see the stern of the Duck Shuttle R that had saved them.
   “So they flew above the stadium.”
   “Tenma, let’s go after it, “Tsurugi said with a grim look on his face. “They might know why the stadium and everyone disappeared.”
   “Yes, they might be the key to uncovering the mysteries of this situation,” Fei nodded. He was a boy with a kind face, whose characteristic light green hair swept back like long bunny ears.
   He and Wondeba came 200 years from the future. Wondeba was an android in the shape of a stuffed doll and self-proclaimed “Coach of All Time.” He and Fei assisted the team greatly in their growth.
   “I’m glad you came, Fei.”
   At last, Tenma showed a smile.
   “I sensed that time-space was warping, so I came here thinking that something wrong had definitely happened. I’m sorry about Endou-san and the others though…”
   Fei’s face darkened. Kinako spoke brightly to cheer him up.
   “Don’t be depressed! You saved us. Now it’s our turn to save Endou-san and the others.”
   “Kinako is right. That jet there is the key,” Shindou said, looking up at the Duck Shuttle R.
   The TM Caravan followed the Duck Shuttle Remastered, speeding up to put even more distance between them and the light.
   The mysterious UFO shaped like a bud had, at one point unawares, disappeared within the vortex of light.


   The stadium disappeared and a thick forest took its place.
   Even as she watched the world she had changed, the girl did not look happy.
   Teleporting, the girl returned to the organic airspace.
   “They got away, Fran,” Asta said unhappily, his arms folded as he sat in a floating seat.
   The girl with azure hair, called Fran, looked at the sphere-shaped monitor with cold eyes. In it was displayed the changed, patchwork appearance of the world.
   San also spoke up, freely commanding his floating seat to move as he played with his Digitonias I.
   “They’re different from what we’ve met with before. What should we do?”
   “We will make them disappear without fail… for the sake of our future,” Fran said quietly.
   She closed her eyes. “I’m tired… I want to sleep for a bit.”
   “Okay, Sis.”
   “You used quite a lot of your power, after all. Rest up for the next time we see them.”
   Asta and San pushed back their floating seats, leaving her to herself. Where they disappeared to had no light, so they faded into darkness.
   “Flow-Er-Notorious… Bring me peace. Fill my body and heart with the scent of flowers,” Fran said with her eyes still closed.
   “Flow-Er-Notorious” was the name of everything within these organic walls — in other words, this large UFO itself.
   It was a womb that gently surrounded Fran.

Chapter 4 — Lost World

   The Duck Shuttle Remastered and TM Caravan both descended at a quiet and beautiful lake shore. It was surrounded by a whimsical forest with wild foliage they had never seen before. An aurora shone constantly in the sky.
   Ban and the others got out first to greet Tenma and the others as they came out of the TM Caravan. When Tenma’s group saw Ban’s group, an ambiguous look crossed their faces, as if they were both relieved but also a bit disappointed.
   “You’re humans! I thought you were really robot-shaped aliens,” Kariya spoke honestly.
   “No waaay! We’re humans through and through. Also, as an additional FYI, we’re not your enemy! We came here following that strange light.”
   Hiro’s cheerful voice relaxed the tension between the two groups immediately.
   “…I’m glad you’re all right,” Ban said quietly. But taking a step forward and surveying Tenma’s group, his eyebrows furrowed with puzzlement.
   “What about… the other players? I saw adult players among you.”
   Tenma and the others looked away. That was all they needed to know.
   “Please tell us. What was that light? We saw the town change into a forest. What is going on?!”
   Tenma’s questions were everyone’s questions.
   “Now now, I’m sure we all have questions and things we want to say deyo. Take a deep breath first deyo.”
   As he appeared jumping towards them with his cane, Otacross was a very bewildering sight to Tenma and the others.
   Otacross looked at Aoi, Midori, Kinako and the like, and a wide grin spread over his face.
   “Whoa! Cuties!”
   Ran and Jessica pulled Otacross backwards.
   “Be careful around him. He’ll make you model for his figurines and stuff!” Ran warned Aoi and the other girls, although they didn’t really know what she meant.
   Akane was already taking pictures of the squirming Otacross.
   Hakuryuu watched Ban and the others suspiciously, standing in the very back of the group with his arms folded. Tsurugi noticed his attitude and wariness.
   “Do you think they’re suspicious?”
   “Of course. What sort of country has dangerous robots like that? Where did they come from? Are they really human?”
   “That’s what we’re going to find out. That part of you never changes, huh? Relax.”
   “Then do you trust them?”
   “…For the moment, let’s leave that question aside,” Tsurugi said to Hakuryuu, and walked off.


   Tables and chairs were set out beside the two vehicles, and simple preparations for a camp were made. By bringing out cargo that was loaded in both the Duck Shuttle R and Inazuma TM Caravan, both teams made an environment that they could live in together. As they worked, Tenma’s group and Ban’s group introduced themselves. It was Doctor Yamano who suggested that the children work together to construct a camp. He had decided that working together through manual labor would be the best way to bring unacquainted people closer together.
   “I think this forest is from the vicinity of Trento, Italy.”
   According to Takuya, who had analyzed their surroundings, the trees, cliffs, and lake greatly resembled the city of Trento in northern Italy. The aurora rippling through the air was conjectured to come from magnetic fields that got disturbed when the world was changed.
   After heating water and providing drinks, everyone gathered around the tables. Ban and his LBX team’s fascination focused on Wondeba and the fact that the TM Caravan was a time machine. On the other hand, Tenma and his team were greatly interested in the LBX.
   But what they needed to talk about first was the situation they had gone through only moments before. Ban spoke about it in very short terms.
   “The enemy is erasing parts of the world.”
   “Erasing the world?!”
   Tenma and the others couldn’t help raising their voices. Tsurugi and Hakuryuu kept silent, but their expressions couldn’t hide their shock.
   “Who is the enemy? Those small robots? Or perhaps…”
   Hiro answered Hakuryuu’s storm of questions.
   “We’re just as confused as you are. It’s just that this situation is the sort we’re used to and accept… At the moment, your world is connected to many different pieces of worlds that came flying up here from different timespaces, like patchwork. You all saw that when you escaped the stadium, right?”
   “We did… It did look like patchwork,” Tenma said as he recalled the sight, but it wasn’t something he could possibly, really understand. “Hiro-kun, was it? I’m still not sure what’s going on…”
   “Guys, hold up.”
   Otacross got closer to Aoi. Jessica immediately pulled him back.
   “Didn’t I tell you? Don’t make a pass at them!”
   “You’re so strict, Jessica-tan…”
   Grumbling under his breath, Otacross waved his cane to unfold a hologram monitor. The screen floating in the air displayed a simplified image of multidimensional worlds.
   His eyes shining, Shinsuke looked back and forth excitedly from Otacross’s cane to the screen. “Wow!”
   “It’s like magic…” Akane said, looking up at it ecstatically as she lowered her camera.
   Ban looked at them and began to explain in detail.
   “First, what I want to make clear to everyone is that my group and Tenma-kun’s group come from different worlds. But by that, I don’t mean that we’re aliens. We’re both from planet Earth. The time period and world that you guys live in exists separately from the time period and world that we live in. Two worlds that originally were never meant to meet somehow fused together when timespace got all messed up.”
   “In other words, you can say we’re from parallel worlds deyo.”
   Akane’s eyes sparkled as she asked, “Then, does that mean you people came from an alternate universe…?”
   “There she goes, that sci-fi maniac!” Midori said, fondly petting Akane’s head.
   “The timespace got messed up…?” Tenma whispered, still not understanding.
   “That’s not all. This is just an assumption, but it’s highly likely that we’re connected to other worlds too.”
   “Then this forest we’re in… Did it come from a time and place somewhere else?” Fei asked Ban, reaching his own theories.
   “It could have.”
   “So you’re saying, your world and our world,” Nishiki said, “even other worlds, they’re all clumping together?”
   “Yes. There were originally boundaries that couldn’t be crossed, but they’ve been brought down now,” Hiro said, nodding.
   “Is the worlds joining together the work of those guys who attacked the stadium?” Shindou asked. Ban answered.
   “Yeah, they destroyed parts of our world too and replaced them with pieces of different worlds.”
   “They can do that? Fei, is that possible in the future?” Tenma asked. Fei shook his head.
   “We have no technology like that in the future.”
   “Erase the world… What do they get out of it?” Hakuryuu murmured. “Do you not know who the enemy is?”
   “Hoh hoh hoh!”
   An old man’s laughter suddenly rang through the air. It brought disturbed looks on the faces of Ban and the LBX team.
   A thin, old man with light blond hair came out of the TM Caravan. He was someone that Tenma and the others knew well.
   “Doctor Aruno!”
   “Oh, you give off the same aura that I do deyo. Who are you deyo?”
   Doctor Aruno proudly thumped his own chest in response to Otacross’s question.
   “I’m Doctor Crossword Aruno. Think of me as the leading figure of the multiple timelines theory and the great doctor who invented the time machine. Hoh hoh hoh…”
   Cobra, taken aback by his arrogant introduction, looked at the TM Caravan.
   “I see, so you made that machine.”
   “Now now now,” Doctor Aruno began, “there’s a rather complicated situation that’s arisen here. As I understand it, the enemy possesses immense power that’s enough to reshape the structure of the world.”
   “You act like this is news, but we’ve experienced all that ourselves a long time ago,” Cobra said snidely. Doctor Aruno gave a small cough and cleared his throat.
   “Now now now, I’m just getting started.”
   “Doctor Aruno, please tell us. Where did Endou-san and all of those people disappear to?!”
   Tenma pressed Doctor Aruno, who looked at Otacross’s hovering screen and began to speak.
   “It’s most likely that the enemy possesses the ability to reshape timespace. In that case, it would be natural to think that those who got erased were sent flying to some other part of timespace.”
   Doctor Aruno ran his fingers through his beard as he spoke conjecture.
   “How can we bring them back?”
   “Reshaping timespace means forcing its original shape to bend and distort. In other words, it must be continuously restrained to prevent it from returning back to the natural way it is. Quite obviously it is the enemy who is doing this restraining. Therefore, by identifying the enemy and defeating them, the restraints will disappear and timespace will return to normal like tangled threads coming undone. In this way, you may be able to rescue them.”
   “Really?! Thank goodness…”
   Tenma’s relieved smile brought Shindou great relief as well, and he smiled back.
   “In that case, there’s one thing for us to do.”
   “Yes! Let’s fight! Then we’ll save the people who got erased!”
   At Tenma’s words, Ban and Hiro both leaned forward eagerly.
   “We plan to fight too. Having you on our side is reassuring.”
   “Yeah, those hissatsu function shoots were sure surprising!”
   “Let’s work well together!” Tenma said.
   “Yeah, let’s.”
   Tenma and Ban nodded at each other. Shindou, Jin, Tsurugi, and Ran mingled with each other, chatting. Even if they came from different worlds, their feelings of wanting to save the others was the same.


   As Doctor Yamano and the other adults watched over the children shaking hands, they turned the subject of discussion to what course of action should be taken from here.
   “Let’s do what we can. We’ll use the equipment inside Duck Shuttle R to continue analysis of the events. We might be able to find where the enemy will appear next, maybe even find a way to deal with them. Doctor Aruno, if it would also please you…”
   “Hoh hoh hoh… of course, of course. I’m all for it.”
   Doctor Aruno cheerfully accepted Doctor Yamano’s offer.
   As the adults headed for the Duck Shuttle R, Cobra who was at the end of the line seemed to remember something and turned around.
   “Ban, you guys take a break and save your energy for the fight ahead.”
   “Rather than take a break…”
   Ban and Hiro looked at Tenma and the others. Tenma’s group too, also looked at Ban’s group with great interest.
   Soccer and LBX. Both worlds were crazy to learn about the other.


   The first day.
   Right away, the soccer boys began to play with LBX while the LBX players played soccer.
   Both sides showed off their hissatsu techniques and hissatsu function among cries of amazement.
   The girls got charged up chatting about the fashion differences in each of their worlds. They talked about how cute the clothes they wore were or what was popular or what actors they liked, to get a feel of what sort of world and time period the others had come from.
   At night, they ate together around the campfire.
   “It kind of feels like we’re at training camp.”
   The danger of their situation hadn’t changed and the nervousness they felt from it continued, but Tenma enjoyed the time he spent with these people from a different world.
   This unexpected “training camp” became plenty of time for these different groups to deepen friendships with one another.


   The second day.
   The boys decided what each of their roles were for the day and acted accordingly. They naturally formed these activities as groups, perhaps because they were still in middle school where group activities were common.


   Kirino, Tsurugi, Hakuryuu, and Yukimura were in charge of drawing the water.
   As the four of them carried water cans to the lake and filled them up, they talked about their situation. Eventually, their topic moved to Ban’s group and how they controlled LBX.
   “What do you think about Ban Yamano and the others, Kirino-kun?”
   At Yukimura’s question, Kirino put down his can and sighed.
   Waiting for him to speak felt like the longest few seconds that Tsurugi and the others had ever gone through.
   “I’m glad you said that, Yukimura-san,” Hakuryuu jumped in. “The truth is, I’ve been wondering about them as well.”
   “Hakuryuu, you’re still…”
   Tsurugi said accusingly, but Hakuryuu only gave him a cold look. He appeared to be telling him to shut up.
   Seeing tense sparks fly between Tsurugi and Hakuryuu, Kirino finally spoke up.
   “I don’t think they’re lying to us, but… What do you think, Hakuryuu?”
   “We can’t trust LBX. I find it unbelievable how the others are able to play with them with such innocence.”
   “They said it was a worldwide popular sport for them in their world,” Tsurugi said to pacify Hakuryuu.
   “They also said the ones who attacked us are LBX. Where’s the difference?”
   Hakuryuu’s words gradually grew more heated.
   “Perhaps in their world, they use LBX for war? Maybe the guy who attacked us with soccer is their enemy and their war came spreading into ours.”
   “Would someone fighting a war say ‘fighting about who wins or not through ball-playing is dumb’ and pick a fight with soccer? …I think it’s us they’re after. It wasn’t through soccer techniques that Endou-san and Fubuki-senpai got erased.”
   As if spurred on by Hakuryuu’s opinion, Yukimura began to state his own views.
   “It’s us they’re after…?”
   “In other words, I bet it’s all an act. Ban Yamano and the others are really on their side and they’re getting closer to us in order to erase us. What do you think?”
   “You’re overthinking this,” Kirino said, but Yukimura seemed unable to let go of his idea.
   “Well, I’m pretty convinced.”
   Hakuryuu agreed with Yukimura.
   “Cut it out, Hakuryuu.”
   As if to ignore Tsurugi, Hakuryuu picked up his water can and walked away.


   Meanwhile, Jin and Yuuya who went to gather firewood were stuck listening to Jessica and Asuka complain.
   Kazu and Ami were also stumped by the two’s ranting, but neither Jessica nor Asuka cared.
   “Hey, are you listening?”
   “Yes, we’re listening,” Yuuya responded back agreeably, as he chose dry branches that could be used for firewood. Since he didn’t offer to say much else, this did not satisfy either Jessica or Asuka and their complaining continued. It had been like this ever since they entered the forest.
   “We saved them and not even a word of thanks! That’s pretty rude, huh?”
   “Some of those guys have sour looks on their faces, right? I bet they even have sour attitudes.”
   Asuka pulled at her eyes to imitate a sour expression. Apparently it was either Tsurugi or Hakuryuu.
   While annoyed by both of their ranting, Kazu tried to calm them down.
   “I understand they don’t have great attitudes, but that goes for the both of us, doesn’t it?”
   “The both of us? What, are you on their side, Kazu?”
   “No, I don’t feel comfortable around them either. They obviously look at us like we’re the enemy… Right, Ami?”
   “Unbelievable things have happened to us one after the other, so it’s natural for everyone to be cautious,” Ami also said soothingly. “But even so, now is the time for us to be working together…”
   “I understand the logic. I understand, but, you know,” Jessica said in frustration, “It’s about emotions here. I hate it when they look at us with those distrustful eyes. At least the girls don’t give me as such a bad vibe as them.”
   “…But why did the enemy attack a soccer stadium? Is there some sort of link?”
   Asuka’s sudden question was a question on everyone’s minds.
   “We don’t know what it is the enemy wants.”
   “At Central Park, those red and blue LBX said ‘How awful. It’s just as I thought. Your place doesn’t deserve to exist either,'” Jessica said, remembering word for word, “Which means the soccer stadium had no worth existing. That’s why they erased it.”
   “What connection is there between soccer and the enemy?” Kazu said, sitting down on a rock next to him.
   “I give up! There’s no point thinking about it!” Asuka said, flailing.


   From this sudden chance meeting between both worlds, live coals of suspicion began to burn from deep within.
   But whenever both groups met with each other, such as during meals, they did their best not to let that smoldering show.


   On the night of the second day, Tenma sat on top of the TM Caravan looking up at the night sky.
   The drifting aurora, coupled with the glittering stars, drew a pretty picture of this whimsical world. The air was perfectly clear and the light of the stars glowed brightly against the aurora.
   Among the bustle of all that had happened, strangely enough, it was this great Mother Earth that soothed his heart.
   “What are you doing?”
   The voice belonged to Shindou. Tsurugi was there too.
   Raising his head to look at them, Tenma invited them both with a smile.
   “Tsurugi! Shindou-senpai! Why don’t you come on up? The stars are really beautiful!”
   His innocent face made both Tsurugi and Shindou smile wryly as they accepted Tenma’s invitation.
   The three of them lay spread-eagled on top of the caravan, looking up at the sky. Even under normal circumstances, they had never had the chance together to lean back and spend their time leisurely.
   Tenma reached a hand up to the stars in the night sky, pretending to grab them.
   “Uwahh, I feel like I can reach the stars.”
   Resting on his elbows, Shindou also gazed at the star-filled sky.
   “Oh right, you two looked like you were talking to each other just now. What about?”
   “Oh, nothing really.”
   Tsurugi hid the truth. He had been asking Shindou for advice on Hakuryuu’s troubling conduct. Sensing Tsurugi’s intent behind his ambiguous words, Shindou also kept quiet about it from Tenma.
   Just then, an unexpected voice called up to them.
   “Are you still awake?”
   Tenma sat up to see that the voice belonged to Hiro. Ban was next to him.
   “Ah, we were watching the stars since they’re so pretty! Want to join us? It’s rare being able to see this to begin with, so I wanted to burn it into my memory!”
   Now that they were told so, Ban and Hiro looked up at the night sky too. The both of them had been thinking so much about fighting, they realized now that they had forgotten about simple pleasures such as enjoying the sky.
   “Can we?” Hiro asked, although he was already climbing up.
   But, to be expected, the TM Caravan wasn’t big enough for five people to lay down on comfortably. In fact, they barely even managed to fit sitting besides each other, shoulders touching. It wasn’t the right posture for enjoying the stars.
   “It’s a little tight…” Tenma said apologetically as he scrunched his shoulders.
   His cowlick springing up, Hiro pointed at the Duck Shuttle Remastered.
   “Oh, I know! There’s a good spot!”


   The five of them climbed on top of the Duck Shuttle Remastered’s armor. They lay down upon it like unfolding fans. The light breeze brushing against their cheeks felt awfully comfortable.
   Tsurugi gave a rare smile as he spoke his thoughts. “Not bad.”
   Hiro, raising his hand up to the sky, also spoke.
   “Ban-san, this spot is actually a pretty neat find.”
   “Huh? Is this your first time climbing up here?” Tenma asked Hiro and Ban. Ban smiled.
   “Yeah, actually, it is. It never occurred to me before, but it’s a nice spot.”
   “Ban-san, the stars look so close from up here. We should invite the others next time.”
   Hiro’s words reminded Tenma of Endou.
   “I wonder how they’re all doing, Endou-san and the other people who got erased… and everyone in Raimon…”
   “I’m sure they’re fine,” Shindou said emphatically. It was words he had been telling himself all this time.
   “As long as we don’t give up,” Tsurugi added.
   “It’s during times like this that you mustn’t hang your head. Remember that you are captain,” Shindou said, sitting up to look down at Tenma.
   Tenma firmly squared his jaw. Shindou’s words had always been Tenma’s brace of emotional support.
   “That’s right. Having the will to not give up is important. That same feeling is what has gotten us through our battles.”
   “Ban-san is right. Raise your head, Tenma-san!” Hiro chimed in to comfort Tenma.
   “Ban-san, Hiro-kun… Thanks.”
   He was naturally worried. His hesitation didn’t disappear either.
   But even so, he mustn’t give up. That was something Tenma had learned from Endou as well.
   Tenma smiled.
   Hiro looked up at the sky and spoke.
   “This is kind of nice. Maybe before we met each other here, we’ve been chasing after these same stars all this time.”
   A single shooting star dashed through the night sky.


   Within the Flow-Er-Notorious, Fran was also watching the same shooting star.
   The sphere-shaped monitor displayed the forest that Tenma and the others were in.
   Asta and San were annoyed.
   “Found you. They escaped into the forest.”
   Asta folded his arms and stared hatefully at the Duck Shuttle R and TM Caravan through the monitor.
   “Sis, they’re being such a pain. Let’s erase them along with the forest,” San said without hiding his irritation.
   Fran answered back a bit sharply, “No. The forest is innocent. It must not be erased. Inside that forest… there are flowers.”
   For Fran, forests and greenery were the symbol of the world she desired.
   Above all, it had the “flowers” that she loved most.
   “Then what do we do?” Asta said. “As long as those guys are around, ‘fighting’ won’t end. They’ll continue to fight.”
   A chilling smile spread across Fran’s face.
   “Indeed. For people who love to ‘fight’… let them be destroyed by the ‘fighting’ that they so love.”
   “Do you have some sort of plan, Sis?”
   Fran closed her eyes. Her chin pointed upwards, as if she was feeling around for something.
   “I sense weak hearts. Fear, worry, suspicion… the smoldering coals of destruction are just waiting to burst into flame.”

Chapter 5 — The Girl

   The next morning.
   Within the Duck Shuttle Remastered, Doctor Yamano and Doctor Aruno absorbed themselves in their analysis.
   Drinking cup after cup of coffee, they bounced arguments off of one another, watched the videos that NICS had captured, of the stadium disappearing, and the strange occurrence with the patchwork world, to examine how massive the enemy’s abilities were.
   Their work seemed to have no end in sight.
   What Doctor Yamano and the others were most grateful for was Doctor Aruno’s opinions. According to Doctor Aruno, the enemy’s power was far stronger than that of the Second Stage Children who existed in his world 200 years from now, so ideas on how to fight back against it was a frequent topic of discussion. As residents from the future as well, Fei and Wondeba would often join these discussions and help them with analyzing the enemy’s powers.


   Around this time, Tenma and Shinsuke were passing a soccer ball with Ban and Hiro at the lake shore.
   Because they played soccer every day to pass the time, Ban and Hiro’s ball handling had gotten very good, very fast.
   “That’s it! You two are even better at this than you were yesterday!”
   “Really?! Thank you!!”
   “Hiro’s reflexes are the only thing that have never been poor.”
   “What do you mean ‘only’?! That’s mean, Ban-san!”
   “Sorry, sorry.”
   Unable to help themselves, the four smiled broadly at each other.
   This moment, when everyone’s feelings connected to each other’s through soccer, was what Tenma loved most.
   That peaceful atmosphere was shattered by a scream that came from within the forest.
   “Where did that come from?”
   Tenma looked around wildly to find the source of the voice. Ban pointed promptly in one direction.
   “Over there!”
   Without delay, Tenma ran in the direction he’d pointed in, turning back towards Shinsuke.
   “Let’s go check it out! Shinsuke, you tell the others!”
   Shinsuke turned heel towards the camp, while Tenma, Ban, and Hiro ran in the direction of the screams.
   The voice was coming from the ravines within the forest.
   “We’ll send our LBX there first. Hiro, get ready!”
   Ban and Hiro took out their CCMs and released Ikaros Zero and Ikaros Force into the sky.
   “Hiro, you search for who the voice belongs to from above. I’ll check out the spaces in between the cliffs below.”
   Ikaros Forced searched the area from the skies. It caught sight of two bright lights.
   It was the Red Sol and Blue Nogg that had attacked them at the stadium. The two LBX were chasing after a girl.
   As they ran, Ban and Hiro saw the girl and LBX on their CCMs through Ikaros Force’s camera eye.
   “Found them! It’s those red and blue LBX!”
   At Hiro’s words, Ban and Tenma ran towards the location.


   Just as they came running towards the rockface, the girl stumbled over a part of stone that jutted out slightly from the ground.
   The Red Sol and Blue Nogg came down upon her with their guns pointed at her.
   “Ah… ah…”
   Not only was the girl afraid, perhaps she was also tired from having run for a long time because she couldn’t form proper words
   “Hiro! Let’s go!”
   Ikaros Force and Ikaros Zero cut in between the girl and the LBX like knights protecting a princess.
   They both had Force Blades and Zero Lance at the ready. Ban and Hiro, their eyes never leaving the enemy, had their fingers poised on their CCMs, ready to attack at any time.
   Standing behind the two, Tenma also held his breath and watched attentively.
   The Red Sol and Blue Nogg suddenly changed direction and left before anyone could say a word.
   “Ban-san, let’s go after them!”
   “Wait, we shouldn’t get too close. There’s no telling when they’ll erase us.”
   “But the enemy is this close to us! It’s possible for them to pinpoint where we are!”
   “You have a point. Tenma, watch after her, will you? We’re going to circle around this area to search for the enemy.”
   Ban and Hiro ran off, their two Ikaros flying away.
   Tenma walked up to the girl who had been attacked by the enemy.
   She didn’t seem to have a complete grasp of the situation yet, because she looked up at Tenma fearfully.
   “Are you okay? You’re not hurt anywhere?”
   Tenma dropped down to meet eye to eye with her and smiled gently.
   “Y–Yes… I’m okay. Um, thank you.”
   Standing up, the girl bowed her head at him.
   “If you want, why don’t you come to our camp?” Tenma invited. “I’m Tenma Matsukaze. What’s your name?”
   “Fran…” the girl said in a small voice.
   Her downturned face brought up a flashback in Tenma’s memories.
   “Huh? You’re…”
   He felt that this girl was similar to the one he’d seen close to the entrance way at Holy Road Stadium.
   “Hey, have we met somewhere before?”
   The girl smiled.
   “No. This is our first time… Why?”
   “Sorry. I guess I have the wrong person.”
   Tenma shrugged off his memories and started walking.
   Watching his back, Fran’s eyes gleamed with madness.
   For a brief moment, her smile mixed with hatred.


   Shindou, Jin, and the others warmly welcomed Fran.
   Because they had thought everyone other than them had been erased, her unexpected appearance brought them hope. But from the color of her hair and the clothes she wore, they could tell that she came from a different time period and world from theirs.
   Fear still obvious on her features and not much for talking, the group took it upon themselves to take care of her needs.
   “Hey, are you hungry?”
   Fran made a vague smile to the amiably chatting Shinsuke. “Now that you mention it…”
   Aoi prepared a dish of the curry the girls had made for lunch.
   “I’m not sure if it will match your taste, but if you want…”
   “It’s called curry. Does your world have curry, Fran?”
   At Aoi’s kind words, Fran shook her head.
   Looking at her with interest, Tenma talked some more.
   “I see, so you don’t have curry in your world. Then maybe it’ll come as a shock to you since it’s a little spicy at first.”
   Fran looked at him, bewildered. Midori laughed brightly.
   “Hey, it’s okay. Spicy can be tasty too! It’s more fun when you eat with the others!”
   Even as Fran hesitated, she took hold of her spoon.
   “Thank you. In that case…”
   Timidly, and still fearful, Fran took a bite.
   Tenma and the others watched Fran expectantly, eager to hear her first thoughts on it.
   “If you keep staring at Fran like that, you’ll be making it hard for her to eat,” Aoi chastised them, when two words fell from Fran’s lips.
   “It’s good.”
   The inside of her mouth burned slightly from the spiciness. But rather than it being painful, it was a pleasant sort of stinging.
   Tenma looked overjoyed at Fran’s reaction.
   “Right?! Thank goodness!”
   “Hey, it was us who made it, Tenma, not you.”
   “Sorry, sorry. I just felt so happy.”
   As Tenma and Aoi argued conversationally with each other, Fran watched them involuntarily. For some reason, she couldn’t stop watching.
   Shinsuke, Midori, Akane, Kariya, and everyone, they were all laughing happily.
   How long had it been since she last saw smiles like these?
   Fran could feel a dull pain shoot through her, as if someone was squeezing her heart.
   Feelings, that she didn’t know why she was feeling, overcame her — she could feel chills prickling through her hair and skin.
   If she let her guard drop now, she could unleash her power that erased everything.
   But for some reason, she didn’t just yet.
   How had these people been able to escape from her vortex of light?
   She wanted to know the reason for that.


   Hakuryuu and Tsurugi, after returning from their soccer practice, grabbed Fei who was helping to prepare dinner and asked him about Fran.
   “Fei, who’s the girl?”
   “Tenma, Ban-kun, and Hiro-kun said they saved her from those red and blue LBX attacking her.”
   Tsurugi looked dubious. Hakuryuu asked Fei further, “Is she from the LBX world?”
   “It doesn’t seem like it…”
   As someone from the future, Fei felt that the aura Fran brought about was different from Ban’s group and even his.


   “Hey, where did you come from Fran?”
   After they had finished eating and were relaxing from their meal, Tenma tried asking Fran about her world.
   From her clothes and the fact that she didn’t know what curry was, she had to be from another world. In that case, he wanted to know even the smallest bit about it. To help Fran relax, Tenma continued talking.
   “See, since what’s happened has happened, we talk to each other about ourselves and stuff.”
   “Right! What sort of place do you come from?” Shinsuke asked.
   While Fran hesitated, she looked away from them as if trying to remember.
   “My world is…”
   After that, Fran got a faraway look in her eyes and she stopped talking.


   Reviving from within her memories was the devastated earth everywhere she looked.
   A withered flower in her hand.


   “…Are you okay?”
   Tenma called out to her worriedly. Fran came back to herself and said on reflex,
   “I’m sorry, my mind is still in such a whirl. I can’t remember very well.”
   “…I know! Why don’t we play soccer?” Tenma said even more vigorously, obviously trying to change the subject.
   Fran’s eyes widened in surprise at his sudden idea.
   As Fran sat there in confusion, Tenma took a soccer ball and began lifting it in front of her.
   “See, like this. Once you get into the rhythm, you can keep going forever.”
   As Shinsuke and Kariya watched, Tenma continued using his knees and shins to kick the ball.
   “Forever, he says. Even though he’s not the best at lifting.”
   “I won’t go as far as to say what Shinsuke just said, but it’s true.”
   Shinsuke and Kariya teased Tenma, but Tenma kept it up, approaching Fran with a smile.
   But just then, perhaps because he looked away from the ball, he lost control of it.
   “Ahhhhhh!! Wahh!!”
   “Weren’t you going to go on forever, Tenma?”
   “Ahaha… I screwed up.”
   Tenma took back the bounded ball that Kariya had caught, and held it out to Fran.
   “Do you want to try too, Fran? It’s fun.”
   Tenma smiled warmly at the hesitating Fran.
   Sharp chills ran through Fran’s hair again. Holding down her anger, she took the ball.
   Tenma took another ball from Shinsuke and started up again to show her how it was done.
   Copying his movements, Fran also began lifting.
   “Wah, you’re getting it! You’re getting it! You’re good at this, Fran!”
   Although her movements were unsure, she managed to bounce the ball steadily with her knees. Tenma and the others encouraged Fran with cheers.
   Fran could feel her body warming up.
   She could feel heat gathering into her hands, her feet, and her eyes as she concentrated on the ball.
   She couldn’t believe how it made her five senses grow sharper and sensitive.
   The only “feelings” she knew had been born out of fear.
   What was this warmth? Fran’s heart was disturbed.
   Fran’s eyes looked up at the others exuberant in front of her.
   Aoi, Midori, Akane, and Kinako had gathered around, and they were clapping their hands to the rhythm.
   Their smiles made Fran dizzy.
   This was a starting ceremony for “battle.”
   Being overjoyed over something like this… they were all demons.
   “Wow! Fran! I bet soccer is happy too!!”
   Tenma’s excited words made Fran’s heart bubble with anger.
   In that instant, the ball lost its rhythm and flew in a wild direction, hitting Kariya straight in the face.
   “Ngah! I–It hit my nose!”
   As Kariya held his nose with tears in his eyes, Tenma ran towards him asking “Are you okay?” although he was laughing. The others around them were also laughing. Fran watched them with an indescribable feeling in her heart.


   Fran’s appearance was a new interest to the LBX group as well.
   Hiro showed off Ikaros Force’s movements to Fran. Using his CCM, he made Ikaros Force move freely.
   “Pretty cool, right? With this CCM, he moves the way you want him to. When your LBX moves exactly the way you want it to, there’s no better feeling in the world! Watch this! Big Bang Triple Axel!”
   Matching Hiro’s words, Ikaros Force dropped its weapon and made a mad dash, jumping into a figure skater’s triple axel.
   “Got it!”
   But in spite of Hiro’s joy, Ikaros Force slipped on the table and lost its balance, crashing to the surface.
   “Ahh, I’m sorry, Ikaros Force! My control was bad!”
   Hurriedly, Hiro picked up Ikaros Force back into standing position and fixed its pose.
   Fran looked at him curiously.
   It was just a puppet. What’s more, a simple tool for “battle.”
   Yet Hiro’s words and attitude towards it, as if it was a dear friend, troubled Fran. Hiro was so flustered that she couldn’t help the smile that came over her face. Ever since she’d played soccer, something strange and unfamiliar had come boiling up inside of her, making Fran uncomfortable.
   “Do you want to try it?”
   “I don’t think so…” Fran said in a thin voice.
   Ban stepped in just then, picking up the conversation.
   “If you ever want to try, just say so. I think you’ll find it fun because there are so many different types of LBX. There are so many ways to customize it too, and every individual has their own way of fighting.”
   Ban talked passionately about how wonderful the LBX were, but Fran could only understand half of what he was saying.
   “By customizing them and battling with them, the LBX becomes an irreplaceable treasure to its player.”
   Fran looked at Hiro’s Ikaros Force as if she couldn’t believe that this object could be considered treasure.
   “Yes, it’s my treasure!”
   Hiro fixed Ikaros Force with a pose and stood it up.
   “It might be weird to say this, but they’re like our friends,” Ban said.
   Hiro smiled at Fran and also said, “There are a lot of girls who play too.”
   “I wonder what sort of LBX would suit Fran?”
   As their topic switched to LBX, Fran’s face gradually grew expressionless.
   In the end, it was only a tool for “battle.”


   Late at night on that same day.
   When the embers of the campfire had died and everyone was asleep, Fran raised herself up from sleeping position within the girls tent.
   Aoi and Kinako, whom she was sharing the tent with, were snoring lightly.
   By the light of the moon, Fran walked with sure footsteps out of the tent.
   She headed in the direction of the lake, stopping every now and then to turn back and measure the distance between herself and the tents.
   Once she reached a spot where she could see all of the tents in her field of vision, Fran raised both hands towards the tents.
   Focusing all of her concentration into her hands, her aura slowly rose throughout her entire body in waves.
   The sway of her aura stirred up a light wind.
   Fran’s “energy” heightened.
   Anger. Hate. Everything she felt up to now became a pitch-black vortex that emitted from her palms.
   The light flew towards all of the tents.
   The tents should have disappeared from the corroding light.
   But all the light did was run through the tents. Nothing else happened.
   Fran glared at the tents hatefully when Digitonias I flew down towards her.
   “As I thought, they’re being protected by a special power.”
   {{Sis, what’s the meaning of this?}} San said through Digitonias I. From the sound of his voice, he couldn’t seem to believe what he had just seen.
   “They’re protected by the power of strong hearts that defy my power.”
   {{But you were able to erase their friends back at the stadium.}}
   “That place was plagued by so much worry and fear that it brought confusion and instability into their hearts. But now, I can’t erase them. Their hearts are secure and shielding them from my power.”
   {{Could it be… because these two teams met each other?}}
   As San questioned. Asta’s voice also came through Digitonias I.
   {{Is that what’s reinforcing this ‘power of strong hearts’ you mentioned, Fran?}}
   “When strong hearts feel a deep despair, they too become weak.”
   {{So you’re saying we just have to make them suffer again.}}
   San agreed with Asta. {{That’s easy. We just have to erase the eraser.}}
   {{Let’s do it then, if that is Fran’s wish.}}
   Digitonias I circled around Fran as if to calm her and flew up and away.
   Left on her own, Fran felt the blowing wind stir the forest leaves and closed her eyes.
   The sound of rustling leaves, the sound of ripples in the lake.
   She felt as if she was being embraced by living nature.


   The next day, Ban, Hiro, Kazu, and Ami brought Fran along with them first thing in the morning to investigate the southern area of the forest.
   While the forest was beautiful, they could not find any sign of human habitation nor edible fruits of any sort.
   “We won’t find food in a place like this.”
   “Don’t complain,” Ami retorted back at Kazu.
   “Please, wait~!”
   A plaintive voice wailed from a distance. It was Hiro, who was trailing far behind them, out of breath. Ban and Ami shouted encouragement at him.
   “What’s wrong, Hiro? You’re already out of breath?”
   “You can do it, Hiro!”
   Hiro barely even had the energy to answer back.
   “I’m sorry, I’m just not used to all this physical work…”
   Kazu flexed his arms at Hiro, showing off his muscles.
   “You ought to put some muscles on you like I did.”
   “Kazu, you changed way too much. What happened to you?”
   “Ah! I didn’t expect to hear that from you, Ban! So you’ve fallen for my wild charms…”
   “I didn’t mean your wild charms, I’m asking why you turned out that way.”
   Listening to their banter gave Fran a headache. Seeing them happy made her unhappy.
   Ban seemed to notice the look on her face. “Fran, are you a bit tired too?”
   “I’m okay…”
   “There’s someone here who isn’t okay,” Kazu said, pointing at the lagging Hiro.
   “How about we take a break?” Ami suggested.
   “Sure, fine.”
   Kazu walked over to where Hiro was, pushing him from behind.
   Ami sat down on a rock, while Ban drank water from the canteen they had brought along.
   Fran also made to sit when… she spotted a small, blue flower.
   Forgetting everything she was supposed to do and even where she was right now, Fran walked over to the flower as if she were being pulled towards it.
   Then she squatted down and stared at it.
   Although Fran didn’t know what sort of name this flower had, watching this beautiful, vibrant flower in bloom brought a smile to her face.
   “…A flower.”
   She spoke without giving it much thought.
   From the side, Hiro watched her kind expression.
   “Fran-san, you like flowers, huh?”
   Hiro’s words brought a shadow to Fran’s face.
   “There are no flowers in my world…”
   As she looked down, Ban and the others tried to imagine a world without flowers. It was a completely foreign concept for them.
   “No flowers… is that possible?”
   “A world without flowers is possible.”
   Fran hadn’t intended to talk about her own world. But in front of this beautiful flower, she couldn’t help herself.


   San and Asta could hear Fran’s voice from within Flow-Er-Notorious. Her words sounded as if they were coming off of the walls of the large tree.
   San spoke directly inside Fran’s mind.
   ((Sis, do you want to delay the plan?))
   Fran answered back through telepathy.
   ((Not at all. I must do it, to protect this flower. But I don’t want to do it here. It will harm the flower.))
   ((Then I have an idea. It’s the perfect fit for their world.))


   The very moment San’s words echoed through Fran’s head, a shadow fell over them from the skies.
   Hearing the sound of whistling wind, Ban’s head shot up.
   The moment they could clearly see what was landing towards them… Ban, Hiro, Ami, and Kazu looked at it in disbelief.
   “A Killer Droid?!”
   “They can use them too?!”
   Zuuuuuummmm! The Killer Droid landed, shaking the earth.
   The LBX Killer, Killer Droid. While it was invented as a weapon against LBX, it was also a monster that did not stop attacking until its target LBX was fully destroyed.
   The Killer Droid deployed its “K-Field,” isolating Ban and the others from the surrounding area and locking them inside. The K-Field was a unique battle area that did not affect the real world around it.
   As the K-Field surrounded the LBX players, Ban shouted to Fran, “Fran, run! We’ll handle this!”
   The K-Field stopped in front of the blue flower.
   Fran stood beside the flower, watching the K-Field coldly.


   The inside of the K-Field was filled with the remains of a crumbling city.
   They were unable to leave the K-Field unless they took down the Killer Droid. That was the special trait of the K-Field.
   Ban and the others readied their LBX, facing the Killer Droid.
   With a roar, the Killer Droid attacked their LBX with its equipped arms.
   Their LBX scattered, returning fire. But their individual attacks were not enough to break through its thick armor.
   “Hiro! Let’s go!”
   Ikaros Force and Ikaros Zero jumped at the same time, meaning to hit the Killer Droid’s joints with their hissatsu function. However, as if sensing this, the Killer Droid made a tailspin, rushing at the two LBX.
   Sent flying back before they could move into attack position, the two LBX crashed into buildings.
   At this rate, both Ban and Hiro’s LBX were in trouble.
   Sensing this, Kazu and Ami sent Achilles Deed and Pandora straight towards the Killer Droid to draw its attention.
   “Ami, the enemy is quick! We’ll close in on it from both sides!”
   Pandora closed in to get in range of hand-to-hand combat.
   Achilles Deed moved to back her up, but the enemy’s overwhelming steampower forced him into the defensive instead.
   The Killer Droid sighted Achilles Deed’s attack even from its far distance, and turned its attention to Ami’s Pandora. With that amount of firepower, its armor was enough to reflect their attacks without it bothering to engage in combat.
   Meanwhile, it was all Ami’s Pandora could do to defend against the Killer Droid.
   The Killer Droid slashed its winged Heat Blade to slice Pandora in two.
   Ami quickly punched in the command to defend, but the enemy’s attack was slightly faster. Unable to receive the attack with Hope Edge in time, Pandora was sent crashing to the ground.
   “I’ll avenge Pandora!”
   Kazu’s anger lit up upon hearing Ami’s heartbroken cry, but he was powerless before the Killer Droid.
   The Killer Droid’s giant tail whipped around towards Achilles Deed.
   Judging that he wouldn’t be able to defend against it with Dark Shield, Kazu commanded Achilles Deed to retreat.
   But the Killer Droid moved its body forward.
   That was all it took.
   Unable to escape, Achilles Deed received a fatal blow into its back and exploded.
   “You’re kidding!”
   Kazu was as dumbfounded as Ami.
   “No way… Pandora and Achilles Deed…”
   The Killer Droid roared as if sneering at their shock.
   And then, it headed for Ikaros Force and Ikaros Zero.
   Finally managing to bring Ikaros Zero back into position, Ban made it advance towards the Killer Droid.
   “Why, you…!!”
   Ikaros Zero’s Zero Lance struck repeatedly at the Killer Droid’s chest.
   If they could at least destroy that part, the K-Field will come undone.
   Seeing the Killer Droid sliding backwards from his consecutive blows, Ban made Ikaros Zero jump back and put some distance between them momentarily.
   “Hiro! We’ll go with Weapon form!”
   Ikaros Zero changed into two large swords mid-air.
   Grabbing these, Ikaros Force charged at the Killer Droid’s windpipe.
   The Killer Droid continued to fight back as its roar became something close to a murderous scream, but at point-blank range its overly large steampower was no use.
   The Killer Droid gave up close combat to stand up and bend backwards so it could put space between them.
   That left its chest area wide open, and this did not escape Hiro’s attention.
   “There! Hissatsu function!”
   “Attack Function. 00 Sword.”
   As his boosters revolved at full speed, a multitude of slashes flew forward. Each one concentrated into the gigantic shockwave of 00 Sword’s attack.
   This much force would definitely be able to cut through that thick armor.
   The Killer Droid tried to neutralize the slashes with gunfire, but the slashes were so sharp that they sliced through even that and, at last, cut into the Killer Droid’s left shoulder.
   Incessant sparks flew out at once, tearing off the Killer Droid’s left arm and wing.
   Hiro looked up from his CCM to make a guts pose.
   Ami shouted at the rejoicing Hiro, “No! The enemy hasn’t fallen yet. Be careful!”
   Hiro hurriedly returned his gaze back to the Killer Droid. It was whipping its tail back and forth as it initiated its attack.
   And its attack aimed for Ikaros Force who was still in the air. Hiro managed to make Ikaros Force evade it at the last second. If Ami[01] hadn’t said something, he definitely wouldn’t have been able to dodge it in time.
   “Don’t let your guard down, Hiro! It can still fight!”
   “Okay! Got it, Kazu-san!”
   Just as Kazu said, the Killer Droid did not stop its attack on Ikaros Force.
   It continued to shoot its gun from its remaining right arm, but recognizing that it was futile, it made a huge jump.
   The Killer Droid made to destroy Ikaros Force from mid-air, but Ban saw that as a chance instead.
   “Hiro, it can’t dodge attacks in that state! We’ll finish it off with your Weapon form!”
   Ikaros Force made a wide jump away from the Killer Droid, changing into its giant Weapon form blade.
   Grabbing it, Ban’s Ikaros Force unleashed its hissatsu function.
   “Attack Function. Meteor Breaker.”
   The command’s execution voice spoke through Ban’s CCM.
   Ikaros Zero swung its sword down from over its head, the slice turning into a white blade of light that destroyed the core in the Killer Droid’s chest.
   As the Killer Droid writhed in pain and screamed its final scream, it exploded where it was mid-air.
   “All right!”
   “Serves you right!”
   Ami and Kazu couldn’t help cheering.
   The K-Field disappeared, returning them to the forest.
   Fran was standing next to the flower.
   “You didn’t run?” Ban asked.
   Fran looked relieved.
   “I was worried about all of you… Are you hurt?”
   “We’re okay, but…”
   “Yeah. Ami and Kazu…”
   Kazu and Ami took up the unmoving Achilles Deed and Pandora in their hands. While they were both relieved that the battle was over, they couldn’t help the bitterness showing from their faces at the remains of their beloved robots.
   Achilles Deed and Pandora’s armor was shattered, and even the inner body was in pieces. No matter how many times they commanded them through their CCMs, neither budged an inch.
   “It got us.”
   Kazu and Ami carefully picked up their scattered parts one by one.
   “It happens.”
   Kazu smiled self-deprecatingly as he stared at Achilles Deed. Ban and Hiro didn’t know what to say.
   “It’s dangerous to move further into the forest. Let’s head back for now.”
   Kazu’s unenergetic reply was still commendable. Ami couldn’t even bother to respond.
   Fran stole a look at Kazu and Ami’s expressions. The two of them gave off the aura that she wanted.
   “Kazu, Ami… I’m sorry about your LBX.”
   “Hey, don’t worry about it… is what I want to say, but I am a little depressed.”
   Ban found Kazu’s forced smile painful to look at.
   “Yeah…” Ami finally said. She looked to be doing her best to answer because she understood how kind at heart Ban was.
   As a fellow LBX player, Ban understood them painfully well.
   “Let’s go back to Duck Shuttle R and ask Dad and the others if they can be fixed.”
   “Yes! Kazu-san, Ami-san, I’m sure they can fix it!”
   Ban and Hiro comforted them, but the two answered back dully as if their spirits had left them.
   Kazu and Ami’s hearts were greatly shaken up and weakened. Those were the faces of people who had lost their treasure.
   They fell into a line as they walked back to camp, with Ban and Hiro ending up leading the group as Ami and Kazu followed.
   Fran walked behind them all.
   Ami and Kazu’s footsteps were slow and heavy, perhaps from the emotional shock, and the gap between them and Ban and Hiro at the front kept widening.
   As if waiting for this very moment, Fran raised a hand towards Kazu and Ami.
   Aura flowed from her entire body, and the sinister ring of light she let out swallowed up Kazu and Ami.
   It happened so instantly that it didn’t even register in Kazu and Ami’s minds as they vanished. That was how fast it took place.
   As she had suspected, the hearts of people who had lost something important were incredibly weak and fragile.
   Quietly, she picked up their CCMs that had fallen to the ground. She turned the power off and put them inside her pocket.
   Ban suddenly noticed that the footsteps besides his and Hiro’s had gone.
   Since Kazu and Ami were both feeling down, they must have slowed down walking and were trailing pretty far from them.
   That’s what he thought as he turned around, but neither of the two could be seen. All he saw was Fran looking down at the ground as she walked.
   “Ami… Kazu, where did they both go?”
   Ban looked around, but there was no sign of them anywhere.
   “Fran, where are Ami and Kazu?”
   At his voice, Fran looked up and scanned the area just as he did.
   “Did they stop or say they were going to use a different route or something?”
   “…I didn’t hear anything.”
   “Hiro, did you see them?”
   “No, Ban-san, I didn’t either…”
   Ban and Hiro felt nervous chills run down their spines.
   Ami and Kazu could have made it back to camp before them.
   They returned to the tents holding on to that thin thread of hope, but only Tenma’s group who had returned there earlier was there.
   Noticing their disappointment, Tenma asked what happened and could be nothing but surprised.
   “They haven’t come back?!”
   “Yeah,” Ban said wearily. “Have you seen them?”
   Nishiki shook his head. “No one else came back here besides you guys.”
   They asked the others besides Nishiki and Tenma, but everyone’s answer was the same. Ban began to worry about Jin’s group who was working separately from theirs.
   “Are Jin, Jessica, and the others back yet?”
   “No,” Nishiki said. “Like I said, you guys are the first.”
   Ban took out his CCM to contact Jin. Uneasiness ran through him. What if he didn’t pick up?
   “Ban-kun, what’s the matter?”
   Hearing Jin’s usual calm voice through the CCM, Ban heaved a big sigh of relief.
   “Jin, I want you guys to come back right now. Make sure that everyone sticks together.”
   Jin answered shortly, and hung up.
   The groups that went to collect water and search for food each came back one by one, but no one else had gone missing. Everyone else besides Ami and Kazu was present.
   Even when evening came, the two didn’t return.
   Takuya told the group that they would resume the search in the morning.


   And with that, the night came.
   Unlike yesterday, there was no one outside gazing at the stars this time.
   The only person moving around outside was Fran.
   She held the two CCMs in her hands.
   Digitonias I swooped down from the skies and landed on her shoulder.
   “I will erase all of them tomorrow. They are pretty shaken up from the two’s disappearances alone. Cracks have begun to appear in their hearts. They only need one more push.”
   San replied shortly through Digitonias I. Digitonias I flew off and Fran walked towards the soccer boys tents.


   By pure coincidence, Shinsuke saw Fran as he was heading to the toilet.
   “Huh? Fran? What is she doing?”
   Fran was just leaving the tent that belonged to Kirino’s group.
   Although he felt faintly suspicious, he was still half-asleep and, more than anything, he had to go badly.
   Without thinking too deeply about Fran’s actions, Shinsuke ran for the bathroom.

Read on to Book 2.

[01] Fun fact: It was originally written “Ran” here instead of “Ami.” Uh.