In the middle of the debris littered with used bomb shells, a girl lay on her back.
The pure-white tactical suit of the girl with platinum-blond long hair had a large gash along her torso. From there, fresh red blood gushed out, staining the pure snow on the concrete.
Above her was a sea of gray formed from the canopies of devastated skyscrapers.
The main street she was lying on was filled with bullet holes and an obscene amount of dead enemies, both friends and foes. They were all dressed in tactical suits and had a choker around their necks. A brief glimpse revealed that they were all in their teens.
In the midst of such cityscape stood a black-haired boy covered in a similarly black tactical suit—the boy, Ichinose Akito, stepped over his comrade’s body to reach the girl and aimed his assault rifle at her head.
His breaths formed white clouds as he exhaled. As they blocked his view, he held his breath.
“It hurts… It hurts… Please, put an end to me…”
Her forelocks blocking her view, the girl murmured feebly.
It was rare to find someone on their deathbed in this battlefield. After all, when injured to the point of no return, most of them would respawn and move on to the next body.
However, the girl could not do that. A light machine gun and handgun lay slightly away from her. In the battle against Akito and his side, she probably dropped them and lost the means to end her own life.
I should end her quickly and join up with the others in the frontlines three blocks ahead. They’re no doubt waiting for me—. Thinking so, Akito began to squeeze the trigger when…
The girl gave a smile as she tried to raise her head.
Those blue eyes the color of the midsummer sky pierced right through the holosight into his eyes.
In contrast to her words, her tear-filled eyes gleamed with vigor. It spoke of her refusal to die; of the will to keep on living. In this era where human lives could be respawned infinitely, the girl fiercely wished to live.
The strength in Akito’s legs suddenly gave out.
—Why? Why am I killing people?
The momentary emotion turned his trigger finger as heavy as lead. His field of vision narrowed and his breathing turned ragged.
Belatedly, he realized that this emotion was known as fear. The fear of depriving another of something.
At her scream, he recovered with a jolt.
Gnashing his teeth, Akito pulled the trigger—