Saikyou Series Volume 2 S1chapter 3
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p. 15-24Urbanization advanced throughout Japan, and visualization—or rather, surveillance—advanced alongside it; so, you might think it would be harder to find deserted places to battle without people noticing, but oddly enough, even cities have their crevices. As skyscrapers proliferate, so do shadows…? Maybe not shadows, but rather darkness… In any case, no matter how the times change, places for people like me and Kouta to live continue to exist. For which I’m grateful. And so do the conditions for lively youngsters like this Matsuri Shimegiwa boy to be born. The scope of that territory might actually be getting wider—all in balance, I suppose. Well, in spite of my careful analysis of modern times, the place where Shimegiwa took me wasn’t a dark, narrow alley or a subway tunnel; it was the sunlit roof of some official institution or municipal office building. It was a sloped roof, not a flat one. The place he chose as our battlefield was deserted, and it was out of the public view, but it was pretty big. I kinda like that.“I’m a bit surprised. You’re not like I heard… uh, you’re not like I expected.”Said Shimegiwa, turning around after we’d arrived. The fierce stare of those sanpaku eyes hadn’t changed.“Humanity’s strongest contractor, Jun Aikawa; I thought you might kick me as soon as I turned my back… I didn’t think you’d just let me guide you here without taking any action at all.”
Sorry I couldn’t live up to your expectations—I mean, is that what people think of me? Is this like a game of intergenerational telephone, where I end up sounding incomprehensibly violent to the new generation? Maybe this is an after-effect from when I was cut off from work worldwide. I’m sure Kouta would laugh out loud and say, “Incomprehensibly violent. Doesn’t that describe you perfectly, my dear friend?” But there’s no way I could just let that assessment stand, so I continued: I’m kinda disappointed myself. When you said you wanted to change locations, I thought you might take me to a dead-end alley where a swarm of your friends were waiting. I got all excited.“……”Is he mad? That’s not what I really thought (though I was surprised he took me to a public office building), I just said it as a light provocation; this guy’s got a hot temper. Is that because he’s young? Well, his hairstyle does look pretty angry, after all. I was so distracted by his puffed-up hair that I hadn’t really noticed until now, but he’s wearing some pretty flashy clothes, too. He made fun of my redness, but he’s silver all over. It was all arranged with good fashion sense, but it looked like a difficult outfit to pull off.“…What?”Oh, nothing. So, shall we begin? Whoever falls down first loses. I have another job to get to, so let’s settle this quickly. You have a handicap? Like fighting with one hand, or fighting with just my tongue.“I don’t need one. Don’t worry about your next job… You’ll have to cancel it anyway.”Nicely said.“I mean, don’t you want to ask why I’ve challenged you?”Do I have to ask? That stuff’s a pain in the ass, so I thought I’d skip it… And it doesn’t matter.“I see. So that’s the famous Jun Aikawa from the rumors… No matter who challenges you, you never refuse. How very gallant.”It’s not that cool a reason. I just don’t feel like scrutinizing everything about a reckless idiot like you—hey, now. Bring it on. Or do you want me to come at you?“To show respect for your legend, I yield the first move to you.”Oh, okay. You’ll dampen my spirits if you treat me like an old lady, though. I’ll lose motivation. Well then, time to snip a young sprout. Here comes the countdown—three, two, one, Zerozaki!“Oof…!”I unleashed a no-motion high kick with my hands in my pockets, trying to make his head part ways with his torso, but he defended with both hands—setting aside the high kick, maybe keeping my hands in my pockets was a bit too insulting? Even so, a ordinary opponent would have gotten his head plucked off along with both arms, but let alone that, this guy managed to grab my ankle. Wow, nice going.“Hah. You’re no big deal after all!”It didn’t entirely seem like a bluff. Still holding onto my foot, Shimegiwa returned my kick. Kicking me with such unstable posture didn’t pose much of a threat, but as if to return the favor, it was a high kick. I was taller, but he was flexible enough to aim for my temple with his toes. Since his stance was somewhat impractical, I could either avoid it, or catch it the same way he did, but I wanted to try taking it directly. I should be able to estimate his power level from that. As such, I didn’t move an inch, and Shimegiwa’s kick connected cleanly with my head. I was surprised. Well, I mean, it’d be exceptionally stupid for me to be surprised by the fact I got kicked, but still, I was amazed. What I mean is, his kick was much more powerful than I expected. It spun me around, with the beautiful leg he was holding as the axis. I made a whole rotation, and was able to land cleanly.“Purposefully taking a hit; you can only look down on someone so much, humanity’s strongest. If you fell down from that kick, it’d be my win, you know?”Sorry, sorry, I underestimated you. That’d be fine by me, of course—in that case, you’d be humanity’s strongest from tomorrow on. But if you want to decide based on that kick, you’d be looking down on me too much. Ready, now? I slammed the foot he was holding directly downward.“…! Oo…uh…”I put enough force into it to rip Shimegiwa’s arm out of its socket, but as I might have expected, he responded by letting go of my foot. Unlike me, it seemed he knew when it’d be dangerous to take a hit.“I’m happy to see you’re going all out now, humanity’s strongest!”He really did look happy. Does he have battle mania? If so, then we ought to congratulate each other; or maybe, pity each other… however, the middle of a fight is no place for a hug. So, I said to him: I still haven’t decided whether or not to go all out—but I am deadly serious.“Aaah… I see, I see.”It was more of a threat than a provocation, but Shimegiwa smiled even wider—this really brings me back. The world used to be teeming with guys like him. I’ve been squaring off with a lot of aliens lately, so I want to cherish these times when I can fight humans.“So I can challenge you with the intent to kill too, then?”Sure, but are you okay with that? It’s not like you’ve been ordered to kill me, right? After I pointed that out, it was Shimegiwa’s turn to look surprised. What’s surprising about that? Maybe the fact that Jun Aikawa’s signature move is mind-reading isn’t as well-known as I thought, these days. Someone asked you to pick a fight with me; I could tell that much from looking at your face when you kicked me.“Hmph… Is that so. After all that stuff you said, are you really interested in my goal, humanity’s strongest?”I said it didn’t matter, didn’t I? It’s not like you’ll be able to reach it anyway. That was just something I could tell by looking at your face—and besides, my mind-reading isn’t telepathy; I don’t know any details beyond that.“…Well, it’s true that someone won’t be able to reach their goal—'cause I’m gonna kill you right now!”Shimegiwa wound up a punch. This time, the blow used all the power he could muster from a straight line that ran through his torso, making use of his entire body. It wasn’t clear whether he was aiming to kill, but he was definitely going all out—the opposite of me. I see; if I took that hit, it might be over for me… but I lacked the finesse to avoid it. As such, I decided to intercept his fist—that is, I smashed my fist into his. Although I fired mine after his, my punch is speedy, and I easily made it in time. So, how about the force? Is my fist gonna break, or is Shimegiwa’s fist gonna break?“Guhh… Ah! A-are you fucking crazy!?”The result was, neither of our fists broke, but we both sent each other flying; Shimegiwa cursed me out, but didn’t flinch, and came rushing at me intensely. That’s not just a compliment or a turn of phrase, it was really intense; at least, in terms of speed. He didn’t seem to be very dextrous, and looked to have trouble balancing his power and speed. I easily handled the fast rush—I didn’t politely meet his blow with a blow of my own again; I knocked him off his feet with a single hook. …Oh, by the way, I have trouble balancing power and speed too. So either way, I give everything I have. “Die!”Nevertheless, Shimegiwa didn’t retreat, and with a cry, he moved to kick me in the ankle. I didn’t know what the “Die!” thing was about (I hadn’t been told that in a while, so I had a hard time figuring it out), but aiming for my ankle was a good strategy—since the rule was whoever fell down first loses, all he had to do was play the sickle-weasel and knock me over.(1) In that sense, his low kick really looked like a sickle. Should I field this one too? Should I intercept his kick with a kick? I could also plant my feet down and endure it, but I felt like I’d been on the receiving side for a while, and that’s not like me. I felt like I was playing the role of sparring partner for this energetic youngster—this isn’t some post-retirement job or leisure pastime. My thinking changed, and before the arch of Shimegiwa’s foot hit my ankle, I landed a direct thrust on his chest. Naturally, since Shimegiwa was standing on one foot like a flamingo, and we were on a slanted roof without decent footholds to begin with, he was blown backward—his sickle hit empty air. I thought he might fall on his back, but he’s got some grit; he put both hands on the ground as if preparing to do a backflip, and jumped back like a spring. I couldn’t say it was as deft as a gymnast, but he managed to land on his feet.“You’re insane…”Said Shimegiwa, crouching and holding his chest. Technically speaking, in terms of sumo wrestling, you could say he lost the moment he put his hands on the ground; well, it’s just a rule I came up with off the top of my head, so I’ll let this pass. I’m easy-going.“I attacked first, but why did yours land before mine? You waited to see my move but you still got the jump on me… it’s not fair.”Not fair? What are you, a child? Well, you do look like a child as far as age goes. Watch, think, move, catch; if you can do that, fighting gets really easy—although, you might be right to call it unfair. It’s like I’m living in a different timeline from everyone else. Alright, alright, I won’t do that anymore.“Nah, do it as much as you want… I can use unfair techniques, inhuman skills that stink of foul play too.”Oh? What, you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve? I thought I was through evaluating him based on our earlier exchange… But if that’s the case, why’d you hold back? I won’t blame you or anything, no matter what kind of techniques you use. If you say stuff like that, it makes the fact that I’m the strongest sound unfair in the first place.“Okay, I hear you. Don’t you regret those words, humanity’s strongest.”Regret, huh. I’d love to try that at least once. If you’re going to let me, then I welcome it—well, I was being nonchalant (bad habit of mine), but even though Shimegiwa’s, Matsuri Shimegiwa’s next move didn’t make me regret anything, it definitely sufficed to dumbfound me.“I am Matsuri Shimegiwa—also known as Campfires.”He reintroduced himself, rolling up his sleeves; the next moment, his right arm—Shimegiwa’s right arm—transformed into flames. Transformed into flames. I’m sure that sounds like some kind of metaphor, but I described exactly what it was; there’s no metaphor, Shimegiwa’s right arm literally turned into flames—transfired into flames. I drew the highly sensible conclusion that his body had caught fire, that he’d messed up trying to activate some kind of fire-related device and burned up his own arm. But I was wrong—he used the flames of his right arm to once again wind up a punch. With a burning fist. I observe, then take action, and I’m still on time, but even I—no, that’s exactly why I was at a loss. It was dubious whether or not I even had time to think. I can’t look past a bizarre and enigmatic development like this; however, it was clear I wouldn’t come up with an answer to this phenomenon by fretting about it. So, all I can do is test things out. Experiment—experiment by comparison. Just like I’d done at the start, I decided to intercept his fist. Answer a punch with a punch. If it was a bluff, and he was using using some kind of trick or illusion, then this kind of direct response ought to be best. However—“Idiot! You think you can hit fire with flesh?”It was just as Shimegiwa so scornfully said: my fist slipped right through his. As if punching the air—no, not just the air. My arm was covered in an outrageous amount of heat, an outrageously hot wind; it was just like I’d thrust my hand into a fire. There was no trick or illusion; it was an actual flame. What’s with this guy? I’ve fought a variety of people up ‘til now, and I’ve battled players with a variety of abilities. Among them there were considerable eccentrics, and people who used techniques I could hardly believe. People who use fire, flame-wielders, they aren’t all that uncommon. I’ve met fifty thousand people whose fighting style involved becoming one with flames—but I’d never met someone who turned their own body into flames. What the hell are you, Matsuri Shimegiwa!“I’ll blacken you to a crisp, red woman!”As he called out to me like I were a demon, Shimegiwa’s rather demonic fist—his fist of flame—landed a direct hit on my chest. No, strictly speaking, it would be hard to call it a “direct hit”; it’s not like the flames that my fist slipped through actually hit my chest. Again, it passed through—but there was no avoiding the high temperature and hot wind. My clothes burned; this red jacket that could be recognized five kilometers away really did blacken and turn to ash. I liked this jacket, you know… I thought, as I flew into the air. Within the waves of hot wind, I was about to succumb to confusion… but I changed tacks right away. His ability… well, I’d be hard-pressed to call it a technique, but in any case, no matter what the truth about his ability is, we’re in the middle of a bout right now, and at this rate I’m going to fall down on the rooftop—in other words, I’m going to lose. And I don’t want that. I see; for the new generation, Shimegiwa’s shown me he’s on a scale that exceeded my imagination. However, if I were to lose right here, it’d be a disgrace to the title “humanity’s strongest”. I rotated my body midair, planning to land right then and there if possible, but that didn’t work out—I might’ve been able to land if I’d wanted to, but unlike Shimegiwa, I wasn’t okay with making any old landing; it needs to be cool. If I can’t stick an Ultra C landing,(2) I’d rather fall down ostentatiously—though, I’d prefer to be the one doing the knocking down. Rotating my body, with only a few centimeters remaining between me and the rooftop, I drove my scorched fist downward. There was no grand plan; I simply punched it—and that was enough.“Huh? … Huuhhhhhh!?”Shimegiwa, who must have been all but certain of victory, understandably let out a cry. It might have been a scream. Or maybe, although he certainly is young, he’s the type who panics when something unexpected happens. But it’d be harsh to criticize him for that; most adults would probably shriek like that too if the place they were standing on suddenly collapsed.“The whole roof…!?”Yes, with a full-strength punch, I destroyed the roof of the public office building; I destroyed the battlefield itself. The rule was whoever fell down first loses… so all I had to do was destroy the place where I would have fallen.“That’s allowed!?”Of course it is. I let it pass when you put your hand on the rooftop earlier, after all. And didn’t you know? When I was about your age, this is what people would say about me: any building Jun Aikawa sets foot in collapses, without exception.Footnotes:(2) In the 1968 Summer Olympics, gymnastic feats were assigned difficulty levels from A to C, with C being the highest difficulty. The Japanese team came up with the term “Ultra C” to mean something along the lines of performing above and beyond the maximum, and since then it has been used generally to refer to an amazing or momentous feat.
Saikyou Series Volume 2 S1chapter 3
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Saikyou Series Volume 2 S1chapter 3 summary
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