Innocence Seekers: April Light/Chapter 3/Episode 34

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This is the tenth episode, "Infiltration" (潜入), of the third chapter of Innocence Seekers: April Light.

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Episode text

In the cafeteria of the Spica, Tamaki was discussing the planned infiltration of one of the enemy ships with Louise.

Louise: Tamaki, what is the plan?

Tamaki: When we wrested control of the Altair, we disabled its barrier generators. What I want your group to do is to do the same.

Louise: And by doing that will you upload the virus, right?

Tamaki: That's right. I'm fully capable of modifying the contents of memory even from distances of hundreds of thousands of kilometres, but I can't do that when there is a barrier in the way.

Louise: If that's the case, then why don't you just send Benio over?

Tamaki: She can destroy the barrier in one hit, but the barrier itself will only be down for a few seconds at best, just enough to get the boarding pod through.

Louise: I see. Anyway I hope we can pull through this.

Tamaki: The stakes are really high already...

Louise: I've been thinking... why did you sit yourself out? Surely you were the best person to infiltrate the ships.

Tamaki: I want to see how well those three do without Uzuki.

Louise: You mean Wakaba and the others?'

Tamaki: That's right. And besides, I intend to hop on board a shuttle and infiltrate the ship myself once the barrier generators are disabled.

Louise: Wait, what?

Tamaki: That's right, I'll join the others once the barrier generators are disabled.

Louise: But shuttles aren't boarding pods. How are you supposed to get inside the ship?

Tamaki: I'll teleport inside. I do have my Inherent Ability, you know.

Louise: Ah, right.

Tamaki: Anyway, good luck with the mission.

Louise: Same to you.

Kanade entered the cafeteria.

Kanade: Louise, it's about time. Please follow me.

Louise: Ah, right.

Kanade had gathered the six girls who were to infiltrate one of the enemy ships. With her were Himawari, Louise, Lyra, Wakaba, Aoi and Benio.

Kanade: I guess that's all of you. Anyway...

Kanade pointed at one of the pods.

Kanade: That will be the pod you will be using.

Louise: Roger. Everyone, let's go.

Everyone: Right!

Louise entered the pod, followed by the others.

Benio: Wow, it's cramped in here...

Wakaba: Well, you'll just have to deal with it. Although I guess you're a bit too active to remain comfortable here.

Benio: What was that?!

Wakaba: See, you get angry easily.

Benio: I don't want to hear that from someone like you! After all, you're the one who complains the most about the stuff I do!

Wakaba: Oh, come on! You're always teasing me for no reason! Why can't I help but resent your antics?!

Aoi: You two, stop that at once!

Benio: But Wakaba started all of this.

Wakaba: Benio, you're clearly the one drawn into my factual observation.

Benio: What did you say?!

Wakaba and Benio began to wrestle with each other, only for Aoi to karate-chop both girls' heads.

Aoi: I told you two to stop, so that means stay still! Do you understand?

Benio: I understand...

Wakaba: Sorry about that, Aoi.

Meanwhile, Kanade was observing the fight with unease.

Kanade: Aoi... are those two always like that?

Aoi: Well, we're all good friends, but of course, as you've seen, that doesn't stop them from bickering. It annoys me and Uzuki to no end.

Kanade: I see... anyway, good luck with your mission.

Kanade left the boarding pod bay. The pod door closed.

In the CIC, Kanade met with Aria.

Aria: Kanade... I guess it's up to them now.

Kanade: That's right. Anyway...

Aria: Kanade, I'd like to ask you something.

Kanade: What is it, Aria?

Aria: Have any of your memories returned?

Kanade pondered for a moment.

Kanade: No. But I've been wondering, why are Lyra's memories starting to return?

Aria: I'm not sure myself. Anyway, it looks like the battle is about to begin, so...

Aria began to cast a spell, and a green magic circle appeared beneath her feet.

Kanade: Aria... what are you doing?

Aria: I'm activating my Inherent Ability. After all, it is useful to lie about our numbers in battle.

Kanade: But if they shoot at the illusions, then the planet itself will bear the brunt of the attacks. Aria, didn't they teach you that once you fire an attack in space, it continues until it hits something?

Aria: Ah, right. I forgot about that. But still, couldn't we just protect the illusions with barriers and shields, as if they were real ships?

Kanade took out a toy hammer from thin air and whacked Aria's head with it.

Aria: Kanade, what was that for?

Kanade: Okay, then who or what can supply such protection magic?

Aria pondered for a moment.

Aria: The Spica?

Kanade whacked Aria's head again.

Kanade: Aria... are you playing dumb with me? The Spica still hasn't fully recovered; there's no way we can use its barrier projection facilities right now.

Aria: Then what about the Altair?

Kanade: Well... that might work. But I don't know if the backup computer will allow it, and powering on the main computer is out of the question until we clean its internal flash storage.

Tamaki entered the CIC.

Tamaki: Ah, Kanade, are there any spare shuttles?

Kanade: Unfortunately, no. Why do you ask?

Tamaki: Once the barrier generators on the enemy ship are destroyed, I intend to board the ship to upload the virus.

Kanade: I see. That said, why a shuttle? It'd be easier to use a boarding pod.

Tamaki: About that, well...

Kanade: Ah, wait... I forgot that there are no remaining pods active.

Aria: Tamaki, the Altair should have some shuttles.

Tamaki: Ah, that's great!

Aria: Anyway, I was going to head to the Altair to see if it can "protect" the illusionary ships I just put up.

Tamaki: Ah, okay, then. Lead the way.

Aria headed to the living quarters, where Kanade placed the teleporting circle. Tamaki followed.

A fleet of three hundred ships was approaching Fuenod. Meeting the fleet was the Reds' own fleet of 120, bolstered by what appeared to be 150 additional ships.

Kanade was observing the readings given by the Spica's instruments. She noticed that although the real ships in the allied fleet had their shields up, the illusionary ships were "unprotected".

Kanade: <Aria, hurry up. We don't have much time until they attack.>

Aria: <You don't have to say that, Kanade. I'm working on it with Tamaki.> Suddenly one of the screens turned green.

Kanade: <Ah, just as you said it. Aria, how long will those barriers and shields hold up?>

Aria: <They should last for around five hours, assuming normal conditions. Worst case, only 160 minutes. I hope that's plenty of time for Lyra's group.>

Kanade: <Okay, then. Please remain on standby.>

Aria: <Right.>

Inside the boarding pod:

Lyra: Ah, Benio, I think it's about time you left the pod.

Benio: Wait, what? Why would I do that? I mean, we're in space right now.

Himawari: Benio, how else are we supposed to get through the ship's barrier? We need your Inherent Ability to break through it.

Benio: Couldn't we have thought of a different way?

Aoi: Unfortunately, that's the only way in. Benio, the pod is just about to arrive. It's time for you to leave.

Benio: Right, right.

Benio reached towards one of the doors.

Wakaba: Ah, that one has a drill blocking the way.

Benio: Wait, how do you know, Wakaba?

Wakaba: Because I've been on something like this before. You want the door leading to space; in other words, the door we entered through.

Benio: Ah, right.

Benio opened the other door, walked into the small chamber, then closed it.

Lyra: <Benio, change into your mage outfit. I'm going to activate the airlock.>

Benio: <Ah, okay. I've changed now.>

Lyra pressed a button on the wall. The sound of air being pumped could be heard through the door. After the sound stopped, Lyra pressed another button.

Outside the boarding pod, Benio made her way in front of it, while keeping herself attached to the pod. After a few minutes, she saw the target ship, and its barrier.

Benio: <Everyone, here it comes.>

A massive red magic circle appeared beneath Benio's feet. After mouthing a short phrase, she entered Full Burst mode. As the ship's barrier approached, Benio readied her right arm. A massive red magic circle appeared beneath her feet, and her right arm began to glow red. Right when the pod was about to hit the barrier, Benio punched it, causing it to shatter. As a result, the pod sped through and towards the ship.

Lyra: <Ah, we're through. Thanks, Benio. You can now re-enter the pod.>

Benio: <Okay.>

Benio exited Full Burst mode and made her way back into the pod.

The girls made their way into the enemy ship. Almost immediately, they were attacked by around forty Donsilan mages.

Himawari: This is bad...

Louise: Tamaki, how strong are they?

Tamaki: Well, they appear to be stronger than the Brikrodi we fought on the Altair. And to add to that, they are, of course, sentient.

Wakaba: I guess we'll be in for a very tough battle...

Benio readied a massive spell. A red magic circle appeared beneath her feet, and a massive fireball appeared in front of her.

Aoi: Wait, Benio, what are you-

Meanwhile, Wakaba had her own spell ready. Her spell was aimed in the opposite direction to that of Benio's spell.

Aoi: You too, Wakaba?

After focusing for a moment, the two girls executed their spells.

Wakaba & Benio: Secret Skill, Blast Calamity!

The two girls let loose their spells. Benio's fireball created a massive explosion on impact, showering the area with flames and severely damaging the mages gathered around the area. Meanwhile, Wakaba's massive magic bullet caused a massive explosion of air on impact, and also dealt significant damage to the mages.

Almost immediately after attacking, Wakaba grabbed Benio by the collar.

Wakaba: W-W-Wait! Did you just... copy my Secret Skill?!

Benio: What? It might have the same name, but it's not the same spell.

Himawari: I have to admit, though, it's my first time seeing a fire-elemental Blast Calamity. A few members of the Umehara and Kuritani lineages are well known for using this variant, but from what I know it's the first time anyone has used this variant since 1950.

Benio: Wait, is it really that rare?

Wakaba: Well, only two people use the wind-elemental variant, one of them being myself.

Lyra: Everyone, they're coming!

Himawari: Ah, right.

Himawari and Louise positioned themselves on opposite sides of the group. Both girls launched their attacks, with Himawari throwing small fireballs at the enemy with pinpoint accuracy, and Louise shooting the mages with her gun. Despite the assault, some enemy mages inevitably got through. Aoi and Benio took care of those that advanced through the initial assault, while Wakaba and Lyra handled the mages that stayed behind to launch their own attacks from long range.

After around ten minutes, the enemy mages were incapacitated.

Benio: That was harder than I thought. Is everyone okay?

Wakaba was using her healing magic to treat Lyra's injuries.

Wakaba: Well, what do you think? And besides, I need to take a close look at you too, Benio.

Benio looked at her right arm, which had several nasty cuts on it.

Lyra: Benio, you were a bit reckless back there. At the very least, my own injuries came from barrier failures.

Wakaba giggled.

Louise: Anyway, we should get going soon. Wakaba, you can treat the injured on the move, right?

Wakaba: Ah, of course.

Louise: Okay, then, let's go.

The girls made their way towards the CIC. In the mean time, even while treating Lyra and Benio, Wakaba cast a spell and sent many small green magic orbs flying across the entire ship.

Eventually the girls made their way to the CIC door. It took forty minutes just to get there, as they had to fight their way through many more Donsilan mages. Of course, the door itself was protected by a barrier.

Wakaba: Looks like we have to break through this door...

Benio: Wakaba, it's just a door. We should be able to bust through this without a sweat.

Benio attacked the door, only to be blown back.

Benio: What?

Himawari: It's just like before. The door itself is protected by an extremely powerful magic barrier. It is impervious to all but our strongest attacks.

Louise: Maybe I can bust through it.

Lyra: Wait, Lou-Lou, how? The last time we needed to do this it took a mana collection spell from Uzuki, and that was after we threw our most powerful attacks at it.

Louise: Lyra, trust me on this.

Lyra: Ah, okay.

Louise stepped to the door and held her gun to one side. A massive yellow magic circle appeared beneath her feet.

Louise: Bloom, my flower.

With a massive burst of yellow light, Louise entered Full Burst mode. Her gun disappeared; it was replaced by twin Gatlings, mounted on a platform on which Louise is standing.

Louise: Everyone, what I'm about to do will be incredibly loud, so cover your ears.

Aoi: Ah, right. Everyone!

The rest of the girls covered their ears. A yellow magic circle appeared beneath Louise's feet.

Louise: Full Burst Skill, Metal Storm!

It was impossible to completely comprehend what happened next, at least for the other girls, but from Wakaba's point of view there was an incredible noise, followed by the barrier shattering and shrapnel flying everywhere and impacting Louise's barrier. Wakaba uncovered her ears and timidly asked Louise about the attack.

Wakaba: Louise... what... what did you just do?

Louise: It was an application of my Inherent Ability. Basically, it amplifies my attacks by incorporating time stop and dimensional displacement effects. So instead of thousands of bullets impacting the barrier in the space of a few seconds, you get millions of bullets in a single millisecond. Unfortunately, I can only use it once every few hours, just as Benio can't use the attacking aspect of her Inherent Ability more than once a day.

Wakaba: I see. Anyway, let's bust this door open!

Louise exited Full Burst mode, and the platform disappeared. Wakaba readied her bow, and shot an arrow towards the door. The arrow was powerful enough to shear the door from the doorway, sending it flying into the CIC and incapacitating two hapless officers.

Captain: What in the world?

Admiral: Impossible! How were you able to get past our personnel and the blast door?

Lyra casually walked inside.

Lyra: It's simple, really. We were just more powerful, that's all.

Admiral: Wait, you... you're one of the pendant holders, aren't you?

Lyra: That is correct. For the sake of the humans here, just call me Lyra.

Admiral: I see. Then, surely you know that we Donsilans are the true rulers of the galaxy. Lyra, abandon those humans. It is time for us to take back what is rightfully ours.

Lyra: No.

Admiral: I must've heard that wrong. You mean to tell me, you're not going to work with us?

Lyra: That is precisely what I am saying.

Admiral: You mean, you're going to betray our entire species, just for the sake of a few "friends"?

Lyra: I should mention, though, that you're speaking to an amnesiac who spent around half of her life around humans. So I know little about Donsilan culture, or even my life before that event.

Admiral: Then maybe we can educate you in our ways. After we get rid of your "friends", that is.

Lyra: I won't allow it!

Lyra pointed her staff at the admiral.

Lyra: I am who I am. I am not some pawn in the misguided quest for galactic conquest. I will not be pushed around by the likes of you. As a being of free will, I choose my own destiny!

Admiral: Very well, then.

The admiral drew her sword.

Admiral: Be aware, though, that the humans' defeat is inevitable.

Lyra: Nothing is inevitable in this universe, except entropy, and the very concept associated with it, death. Even if it takes a miracle, we will bring about this miracle and defeat you once and for all!

Admiral: Even then, can you defeat us? It's only the six of you against around thirty high-ranking officers.

Lyra: Make that three. I'm confident in our abilities.

Lyra turned towards Wakaba.

Lyra: Wakaba, you were searching for the barrier generators, right?

Wakaba: Ah, right.

Lyra: Then you, Aoi and Benio go and deactivate them.

Wakaba: Right.

Wakaba turned towards Aoi and Benio.

Wakaba: Aoi, Benio, let's go.

Aoi: Right.

Benio: Okay, then. At least take us to the right locations.

Wakaba glared at Benio for a moment, then took off. The other two followed.

Lyra: Hima-chan, Lou-Lou, will you cover for me?

Himawari: Lyra... are you going to take her on alone?

Lyra: That's what I'm planning to do. I presume the others won't be too much of a challenge.

Louise: Of course not. Himawari, let's do this!

Himawari: Right!

Himawari and Louise began their assault on the officers. After only thirty seconds, half of the officers went down.

Captain: So strong...

Meanwhile, Lyra and the admiral faced off against each other.

Admiral: How admirable. You're willing to take me on, alone.

Lyra: That's right. I'm fully aware of what you're capable of, but I believe I can do better.

Admiral: We'll see about that. After all, I have defeated Aria in a mock battle before.

Lyra: You mean that simpleton? I'm different. Aria has largely gone through most of her battles with overwhelming power. I, on the other hand, have honed my skills.

The admiral charged towards Lyra, only for Lyra to effortlessly parry the admiral's sword with her staff. Lyra counterattacked by rotating her staff while it was still in contact with the sword and swinging it straight towards the admiral's face. However, the admiral placed her hand to block the attack. Despite this, however, the admiral still took damage, but to her hand instead.

Lyra: I deliberately kept that end hot, just in case you thought it was a good idea to block with your bare hand.

Admiral: You...

The admiral attacked Lyra again, this time attacking from above. Lyra stepped aside and watched the admiral strike the metal floor with her sword, before kicking her straight into a control panel.

Lyra: I expected better from you. At this rate, I may not even use my light spells.

Admiral: Are you mocking me?!

The admiral, deprived of her sword, took out an energy gun and fired a single beam towards Lyra. However, it was met by a magic shield.

Lyra: I can keep this up all day, you know. Maybe you should use some magic.

Admiral: Very well, then.

An orange magic circle appeared beneath the admiral's feet. Several orbs of water appeared around her. With a swipe of the arm, the admiral sent the orbs straight towards Lyra. In response, Lyra jumped to avoid the orbs. However, the orbs suddenly changed direction and followed Lyra, forcing her to put up a shield. Upon impact, the water orbs immediately froze.

Lyra: Right, then, it's time to show you my power.

A white magic circle appeared beneath Lyra's feet. Several white magic orbs appeared beside her.

Lyra: Shoot.

The orbs fired beams of light straight towards the admiral's head. The admiral put up a shield to protect herself from the attack; however, the beams simply passed through the shield and straight into her eyes, temporarily blinding her.

Admiral: My eyes! What have you done?!

Unbeknownst to the admiral, Lyra advanced towards her side and struck her with her staff, sending the admiral flying straight into a wall. It was about that time when the admiral's vision returned.

Lyra: That wasn't an attacking spell. It was only meant to shine a bright light into your eyes. That's why your shield didn't work.

Admiral: Lyra... prepare yourself!

A massive orange magic circle appeared beneath the admiral's feet.

End of Episode 34

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While some Inherent Abilities have utterly "broken" effects, their usefulness is often limited by an inability to use them over and over again. The limitations given to such abilities are largely for narrative purposes; it would be uninteresting for the conflicts in the story to be resolved by something as overpowered as these abilities.

Louise's Inherent Ability, Dimension Stack, utilises, among other things, time stop effects. This actually isn't unique to Louise; several other characters, including both of her sisters, have Inherent Abilities with the ability to alter the flow of time. By far the most powerful of these Inherent Abilities is Stephanie's Stone Clock, which allows her to stop time completely for a few seconds, depending on her mana reserves. The main advantage of having an Inherent Ability that alters the flow of time is that it renders one immune to environmental effects that alter time itself (which would otherwise do very bad things to one's soul).

Magic barriers and shields can protect against light-based attacks; however, the intensity of light must exceed a certain threshold. Otherwise, the light will simply pass through, as seen in the episode. Too high of a threshold will mean that low-intensity attacks will pass through, while too low of a threshold can render one unable to effectively see through the barrier or shield, due to acclimatisation of the eyes to the light. A flaw in most mages' barriers and shields is that while the threshold is set high enough to prevent light from damaging the skin, it is not low enough to prevent a light source from causing temporary blindness, a flaw that Lyra exploited. Lyra herself knows this, being proficient with light-elemental spells, and deliberately sets the threshold to just above the background. To summarise, most mages' barriers and shields will stop a Class 4 laser, but not the light from a flashbang.

Likewise, mages typically protect themselves against painfully loud noises. Right before Louise activated her Inherent Ability, she ordered the others to cover their ears. A typical mage outfit can dampen any sound over 160 decibels using field defences, but it does nothing to any quieter sounds. As such, to prevent possible disorientation from the noise, the girls needed to cover their ears with supplementary field defence magic. While this was not mentioned in the episode, Wakaba didn't need to use supplementary magic to protect her ears from the sound; she had her mage outfit's sound protection threshold set at 110 decibels, meaning she only needed to cover her ears with her hands. Having such a low threshold is actually overkill, since bodily damage (as opposed to aural damage) won't occur until well over 160 decibels.