Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume16 Chapter3
Chapter 3: Haunts and Processions
Zuellni felt it.
It wasn’t strange to feel it. This was the function of a Regios that avoided danger. Zuellni was the consciousness of the city, and it changed the city’s route accordingly. The Mechanical Department worked to move the mechanical legs of the city that walked on with perfect balance. No one even noticed it happening.
This was right. To move successfully like the past. It would be hard to escape if the filth monsters already noticed the city, but that kind of a situation was rare. Still, even though the areas an Academy City went through tended to have fewer filth monsters, that wasn’t always the case. The exception actually happened a few times last month. That was why the city had changed its route and continued its journey.
The number of encounters with filth monsters last year was too unusual.
Zuellni had been careless. Records of the number of filth monster encounters would be sent to other cities through the system of En. Though Zuellni was now the enemy of the world, her duty didn’t change, and so the other cities continued to feed her information of filth monster sightings.
So everything worked as normal.
(You don’t seem to be tense, Zuellni.)
The voice came like the crack of a whip. Zuellni shivered.
She remembered that atmosphere, that voice. She heard it when she still didn’t have a city, when she played with the other young Electronic Fairies at Senou. She had heard of this voice.
She suddenly resisted. She couldn’t be connected to the En like that.
But her resistance was useless. She couldn’t cut the En.
The scenery before her changed. This was not the city anymore. This was wilderness – and in here was a city she had never seen before.
Thick and straight pillars pierced through the filth monster. They had become one. All Zuellni could feel was this filth monster.
(You’re already the enemy of this world. To be like that and yet still maintain contact with En without alertness. Should I say that’s bravery?)
The voice seemed to mock her for lacking a sense of alertness.
But Zuellni didn’t reply.
(Silence? You can’t have lost your voice? There must be something you want to say. Your feeling for the world has reached me. Then the world is your enemy.)
The voice still mocked.
But Zuellni kept silent. Her stubbornness was like the stubbornness of the youth.
(Very well. Then let me ask your body.)
The ropes slipped off Zuellni. She regained her freedom. Though the period of invasion was short, the unpleasant aftertaste still ran through her body. She hugged herself and shivered.
She could hear the sound.
Of something pounding the earth intensely that differed from an Academy City – the sound of a city’s legs.
Nina was called to the Student Council building after the first lesson.
“It’s a filth monster.”
Gorneo, the Head of the Military Arts, said. Sitting on the sofa, Nina accepted the words with her fists tightened.
“Meaning the trouble’s not yet over?”
Sitting next to her was Shin. The announcement had called both Nina and Shin over. Gorneo had enlarged a few photos for them. In the photos was the form of a filth monster, flying in the sky.
“It’s huge. Um, is it in its aged phase? Or what?”
“No………Layfon and Claribel should be able to tell. But I don’t think it’s that.”
“A male in its 2nd or 3rd growth phase?”
“Ah, speaking of which, Gorneo, you’re also from Grendan,” Shin said with a smile. “And your fighting experience too?”
At Gorneo’s painful expression, Shin laughed.
“About real experience, everyone else has it except the first years.”
“I want it to disappear.”
That cute voice coming from behind Gorneo belonged to the person knocking on the Student President’s desk with her knuckle.
The Student President Samiraya Mirke. Standing beside her was Leu. They had just been appointed to the posts in the recent election and they looked tense at this situation.
Leu nodded. Nina continued looking at the photos. The drones had taken the black and white photos.
“It doesn’t seem close. Are we discovered?”
“Don’t know. But from the information we get, that thing is moving in the same direction as us, and its speed is the same as ours.”
“Perhaps it’s chasing us,” Shin said, holding the photo.
“It’d be good to eliminate it before it comes near. If it’s a male in its 2nd phase, Layfon or Claribel should be able to take care of it………but.”
“Hey, doesn’t this photo look strange?” Shin cut Gorneo off and flicked the photo.
Because Nina was also holding a photo.
The flying filth monster. Scales that were like rocks covered its body, and above it spread the long and huge wings. The tower was also in the photo, and it looked to be gigantic.
“There………? Ah,” Nina noticed.
“Ah, yes. This guy has changed. It’s flying.”
The wings weren’t moving according to the movement of the wind. But what about the position of the tail? Nina saw that the tail was drooping. If the filth monster was flying, the tail should be fluttering.
So the filth monster was gliding on the wind. It wasn’t flying. Was it making repeated movements of flying, gliding and landing just for the drones?
On closer inspection, they found even stranger things. An ominous feeling descended on the people gathered in the room.
“So I don’t think this is a simple filth monster attack.”
“You want to send two platoons over?”
“No. One platoon is to stay.”
“If anything happens, it’s good to have two platoons. But if this is a male in its 2nd phase, then sending two platoons over is a waste.”
“And in case anything happens, we need one platoon to stay at the city.”
“So the platoon that is out there doesn’t matter?”
“I think our own city won’t give up a platoon.”
Shin’s tone relaxed. But Nina understood the bitterness he felt. Either way, she had been under his care before she established the 17th platoon. Though he looked carefree, Shin was considerate towards his team members.
They must be worrying about the danger of heading to that place. Claribel did have outstanding fighting power, but not so for her team members. Besides, she just entered the Academy City. Nina already realized that she had yet to learn to coordinate with her team members.
Nina put her hand up. If she didn’t do this, Shin would have put his hand up and the 17th platoon would become the spare platoon.
“Is that ok?”
“The 17th platoon has the most battle experience.”
“Then, I’m counting on you.”
Gorneo understood quickly. He was originally in the 5th platoon but was now the captain of the 1st platoon. As the captain of the platoons, he had some contact with the 14th platoon, and so he understood Shin’s personality too.
Understanding their plan, Shin looked at the ceiling, discontent.
“Then that’s settled. Either way, there really is a gap in the level of battle experience,” Gorneo gave Shin’s shoulder a pat.
“Then I’ll call the members. Can we leave tonight?”
“Should be all right.”
Next, Nina and Gorneo started to discuss the procedures.
“…………I still can’t accept it,” Samiraya said. “This shouldn't be shouldered by one person alone.”
“Sami………” Leu said.
“Isn’t this the city’s problem? Then the whole city should be responsible. It’s dangerous to just send one person out.”
“No. Not one person. One platoon,” Gorneo corrected with a bitter expression.
“Besides, that’s the conclusion we came up with. Didn’t you agree with us?”
“I thought there was no other way, but still, this isn’t right. Doesn’t that mean someone would be sacrificed?”
“Scared of seeing the face of the one being sacrificed? That’s a bad reason.”
“Listen up. Military Artists are ready to take risks. It is our responsibility to stand up when danger comes. This is the rule of this world. As Military Artists, we won’t not step out and fight. If we came to the Academy City thinking like that, we would not have entered Military Arts. Not to mention fighting.”
“Yes. There is a risk, but we don’t give up our identity as Military Artists because of that risk. If we came to the Academy City like that, we didn’t have to enter the Military Arts subject.”
“Still, there should be a better way to fight.”
“What kind of a fight? A fight without anyone dying? Or a fight without any damage to the city? I’ll choose the latter. If the city sustains fatal damage, then the level of danger is entirely different. Stop it, Student President. We can’t guarantee a Military Artist will not be hurt even in a normal fight. If there are the injured, then there will be the dead.”
“Hey, hey, Head of Military Arts, stop bullying the Student President,” Shin said, preventing Samiraya from speaking.
“And if this really is a male in its 2nd phase, then there won’t be any injured and dead, right?”
“Yes, Student President. So please say you agree with us,” Shin urged. Nina nodded with confidence.
Nina wasn’t just making up her confidence as everyone was positively creating the future.
Not just Layfon. Even Nina had grown enough to handle a male in its 2nd phase. Sharnid and Dalshena had also increased their level of strength, getting used to fights against filth monsters. Besides, there was Felli checking out the surroundings, so they didn’t have to worry about traps.
“………I understand. I’m sorry for saying unnecessary things.”
“It’s all right.”
Nina exchanged a glance with Leu. After comforting the Student President with their gaze, Nina and Shin left the room.
“The current Student President is quite good,” Nina said to him.
“Well, because the previous one wasn’t all that great.”
Nina didn’t know how to respond. Her expression turned stiff.
“The Student President now is still thinking like a student. The previous Student President, Karian, was more experienced.”
She couldn’t retort. Layfon was a good example. Karian had caught hold of the information and forced Layfon to change subjects, making him take the path of a Military Artist once more.
What would Nina have done instead?
What would she have done if she were in Karian’s position? She would probably have contacted Layfon directly, and then been rejected by him. How could she be thinking about this? But she knew she would have gone to persuade Layfon. Whether it was successful or not, she would have done her best to convince him.
Heading straight ahead was her personality.
But then, would even a normal person do that? He might give up once he knew of Layfon’s past.
But Karian didn’t.
He had chosen a way to avoid failure. It didn’t matter if he was despised and hated. When the time called for it, he would use any means to achieve his end.
Karian was too experienced. Shin’s conclusion was correct. But even for Karian, he might feel a sense of guilt for making Layfon change course.
(Is that possible?) She didn’t know. He was too experienced.
“But she’ll be a good Student President.”
“Ah, I think so too.”
Samiraya had come to find Nina during the presidential race. Nina felt at that time that she was passionate.
The decisions of the Student Council all involved papers. Nina knew from the first moment she got involved. But in the meeting just then, it was the first time they held a discussion first before making a decision. Even though the paperwork was done, in reality people may bleed, people may die. This feeling was her first.
Nina threw away her cowardice, her indecision and hesitation. Everyone would fail, and everyone would grow. She had failed so many times that she didn’t want to lift her head, but without those failures she wouldn’t be who she was now.
And right now, she still failed in something.
“This should be not shouldered by one person.”
“Not a person. A platoon.”
Why were Samiraya and Gorneo’s words hammering her? Nina couldn’t make peace for a long time.
Nina called the 17th platoon and explained the situation.
“Again and again we’re going. I really hate missions outside the city.”
Sharnid was complaining as usual as he prepared the gear for outside use.
Layfon was checking the Sapphire Dite that Harley gave him.
“No matter how hard we tried, it’s impossible to do so in so short a time.”
“But we’ve made some adjustments for the Adamantium Dite. The capacity for Kei should be better than before. Nothing is changed regarding its use. It’s better to test it before using it.”
“If there is time,” Felli said.
She had restored her Light Dite. A number of flakes were circling her. Some flakes had already headed off for the filth monster.
“We don’t have to worry if it is a male?”
“If it’s what they said it is.”
Dalshena and Sharnid said.
They wore a fighting suit outside the suit that was to block off the pollutants. Everyone wore a helmet and waited for the vehicles to be prepared.
During this time, Nina explained what the drones didn’t get to convey.
“What if it’s a trap? Who would be doing it? The filth monster?”
“Who knows. I told you not to be so off guard.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll guard your back, Shena.”
“Not the back. I’ll grab your throat and use you as a shield.”
“Where can you see love from that!”
An angry Dalshena and a laughing Sharnid. Harley laughed too. Felli sighed and Layfon looked worried. To be able to alleviate the tension before the mission showed this platoon was really relaxed.
What was said in the Student Council Building weren’t lies. Many things happened last year, and the 17th platoon was in the middle of it.
Everyone must have accumulated some experience.
But if they were really strong enough, then they wouldn’t be so troubled that they couldn’t say what they were truly feeling. Nina struggled internally for not being able to tell them about Vati.
Recalling Samiraya’s words, Nina really wanted to ask for help from more people, if possible.
But Vati would not let that happen.
(Right…………Is that possible?)
Would it be all right if they were outside the city? Could she shake free of Vati’s monitor?
Perhaps………But this would be a dangerous gamble.
The vehicles were ready with the help of the mechanics.
“Ok. Let’s go,” Nina said, and the platoon moved.
They swayed with the movements of the bikes.
(Is this the only chance?)
Her heart swayed along with the bike’s movements. She couldn’t return to her normal self. If this continued, she wouldn’t be able to do anything.
“Get yourself together,” Nina scolded herself softly.
The sun had already sunk down in the west when Felli spoke.
“What is it?”
“The flakes have arrived, but it’s strange.”
“What’s going on?”
Felli was on Layfon’s bike, and Nina, Sharnid and Dalshena on another bike.
“How is it strange?”
The flakes showed other pictures on the inside of the helmet.
What was shown wasn’t a filth monster. It was something larger, and it looked familiar.
“What’s this?” Dalshena said. Nina felt the same.
In the picture was a city. Gigantic legs were pounding the ground. They moved slowly, but they belonged to a Regios. Because it was huge, each of its strides was long.
“The filth monster is here too………”
Then the picture zoomed out. There was a filth monster, pierced by a tall pillar. Perhaps it was dead. It shook with the city’s movements.
“Is it dead?”
“The drones only showed the filth monster, right?”
“Ah, yes,” Layfon said. Nina nodded.
“Then why is this picture so strange? Or has someone changed the data of the drones…? The city?”
“But why do that? It doesn’t make sense to do that and make Zuellni’s Military Artists eliminate the filth monster.”
“Even if you tell me this………”
“It won’t work.”
Ignoring Sharnid and Dalshena’s conversation, Nina concentrated on the pictures.
Because a flake would observe a city at about the same as a human’s height, the picture had been taken with a low angle shot, as if the city was about to fall on it.
“Felli, are there any pictures taken from above?”
The picture changed.
“Hey hey. What is that?”
Everyone was speechless.
There was nothing in the city. Not even a speck of dust. What was left was the exposed side of the mechanisms of the city.
“It seems no one lives there.”
“No. Regardless of how you look at it, there’s no one there.”
“What happened to this city?”
Nina looked at the city, her mind full of suspicions. This wasn’t normal. But why was it appearing here? Why was it chasing Zuellni?
Uh. Regios. Electronic Fairy.
The enemy of the world.
Those words floated in her mind.
“I don’t like it,” Felli said. “What should we do, captain? Since the filth monster isn’t the target, the next possibility is what the Head of Military Arts has deduced – a trap, or something else altogether. I think it’s fine to return to Zuellni.”
“Yes………But, this city may have a plan. That’s why it’s getting near Zuellni.”
“But for what purpose?”
“I don’t know………uh, perhaps the Electronic Fairies are in love?”
“Your imagination can really work anywhere.”
“Don’t praise me.”
“I’m not praising you. Your ear and brain are both useless.”
Nina ignored them and fell into deep thoughts.
Could this be a chance?
If Schneibel had sent this over, then perhaps Nina could tell Layfon about the situation while they fought. But what about after that? She couldn’t think of an effective way. She couldn’t see a hope. The city that should prepare for the next fight was Grendan, not Zuellni. The Military Artists in Zuellni had no chance of winning against Vati. Even if she let Layfon know, the difference in strength was too much.
She could only put aside the danger right before her.
This was worrying.
This worry, this impatience, this frustration………Could she only think of synonyms? That was so pessimistic.
“Ah, sorry. Will you contact the Head of Military Arts?”
“There is time to report and obtain new instructions. I’ll leave it to you.”
This situation was strange. Even Layfon noticed it. It was different from the investigation of the Haikizoku. It even felt like a trap.
Did Nina know something about the current situation? Or was this related to something?
Felli looked blurrily at Nina, who had successfully contacted Gorneo. She was speaking softly in the helmet.
“She really makes me unhappy.”
Layfon’s voice became small.
Were they to proceed or return? Nina’s decision made time flow slowly. There was a need to contact Gorneo, but it took too long.
“But this is unusual.”
No one lived in the city, and it appeared filth monsters had attacked it……… but it didn’t seem to be the case. The city was chasing after Zuellni. It really was unusual. This was even Layfon’s first time encountering something so strange. And it was the same for others. Even Nina was in doubt, and that was why it took her some time to make a decision.
“That’s the case, so it took more time to decide.”
Layfon couldn’t retort against Felli’s conclusion. He felt it took too long.
The 17th platoon moved because of Nina’s announcement.
“It isn’t a filth monster, but we don’t know what the other city has in mind. We’ll go in and investigate.”
“Well, I felt that it would be like this,” Sharnid said, giving up.
“But we’re ready for something rowdy. Hasn’t this been a happy school year?”
“There isn’t a Military Arts Competition.”
The bikes ran again. Felli calculated they would arrive at dawn.
Sharnid and Dalshena spoke. The two of them had fought because of Dinn.
“The movement of a city shouldn’t be wrong. But, there’s no reason to follow an Academy City, right?”
“Why don’t we go quietly ask our opponent. For the past year, we’ve tried hard.”
“Alright, then we’ll go and pursue it.”
“Aren’t we heading for it now?”
“True. It’s correct to directly pursue the source of the commotion. Then let them see our passion. If you know better, you should leave.”
“I don’t want to spread that kind of lie. If that’s the case, Sharnid, why don’t you put your foot in the front tire and see what happens?”
“Hey, I don’t have to try it.”
“A knock to your head may erase your imagination.”
Their relationship hadn’t suffered because of what had happened that day. Layfon had always found it unbelievable, and so he had been envious of them. Could he hold the same feeling for Leerin who had abandoned him? Or what about Nina, if she was really hiding something?
The relationship of the two seemed to show each other how small-minded they were. He couldn’t calm down.
The bikes continued moving.
Felli was resting. The inside of Layfon’s helmet became quiet. Besides contacting Zuellni and the drones, Felli had cut off the other functions of her flakes, including visual support. The vision field before the bike had narrowed.
Layfon watched Nina who was in front of him.
What should he do if she headed straight for a battle alone, a battle she didn’t even understand? What should he do? Should he ask? But even if he did, she might not answer.
“…………Is this related to the captain?”
Had his reflexes slowed? He felt he could see her expression clearer without the helmet.
Layfon was surprised by Felli’s voice. He thought she was sleeping. He shook his head.
“She won’t tell us.”
But he wanted to know. What was happening in this world? Who were Leerin and Nina fighting? Could he really do nothing? Felli didn’t say more. Perhaps she had gone to sleep for real this time.
The regular sound produced by the engine of the bike drowned out Felli’s voice.
A person alone in a quiet space would think about many things. To stop thinking about the failure that would have him curl into a ball, Layfon held the handles of the bike tightly.
What a blessing it would be if he could just naively keep going straight.
Felli’s calculation was correct. The city appeared when the sun rose.
“Ah, are we to head straight in? Isn’t it enough for Felli to investigate?”
“Yes. This distance is enough for my flakes to gather data, so I want to investigate thoroughly.”
“It’s all right to enter, but we have to leave the bikes here.”
“It’s creepy to be stranded without the bikes.”
“Shall we split into two groups………”
“Better not to divide our fighting power here.”
“Then Felli will collect data at this distance. We’ll head back when it’s all done.”
After the brief meeting, they moved according to Nina’s decisions. The legs of the city pounded the ground, making the bikes sway.
A change happened as they were about to run.
Layfon noticed it. Nina did too when he finished speaking. It was aiming at her. She instantly decided to abandon the bike and leap up from it.
Layfon reflexively stopped his bike and let it roll on the ground, opposite the direction of the city to protect Felli.
It was Nina’s bike. The bike was damaged from the attacks coming down from above, and the fuel tank burst. The pillar of fire rose.
“Damn. Is this a trap?” Sharnid called.
“Captain! Are you all right?”
“The clothes are damaged,” Nina said. She quickly took out the fixing gel and sprayed the hole with it.
And the second attack came, but this time it wasn’t a sneak attack. Layfon had time to react. He released his Kei and restored the Shim Adamantium Dite to block it.
“Hey, if this continues it’ll be a mess. Let’s hurry and escape,” Sharnid said under the sky twisted by the explosion.
“You guys go.”
Nina had restored her Dite too and was fighting, but the attacks were becoming fiercer. Both of them were unable to defeat their enemy.
“This will continue if no one becomes the bait.”
“Ha, at this time……”
“Sharnid-senpai and Felli-senpai……”
“I’ll stay. There must be a way if two people are to lure it out.”
“Felli-senpai, please stay at the rear.”
Felli was sitting in the bike. It would be dangerous to keep fighting while protecting her.
Sharnid shouted and drove the bike close to Layfon.
After confirming Felli had moved to Sharnid’s bike, Layfon controlled his bike with one hand and turned to Nina. She had no time to say anything. She stood on Layfon’s bike and continued to fight.
The bike kept running.
Towards the city devoid of people, a mysterious city with something hidden in it.