Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume6 Chapter3
Chapter 3: Birds in a Cage
A bird was knocking on the window with its brown beak.
"How rare," Leerin said and immediately walked over to the window. It was a bird small enough to fit in her palm.
"A wild bird? Or is this somebody's pet?"
It was rare to see birds flying in Grendan. If a bird was left alone, it might get sucked into the air purification system and die. People could tame birds and train them to avoid the air purification system, but that wasn't usual in Grendan.
Leerin opened the window carefully, making sure not to scare the bird.
The bird hopped over the windowsill and entered the room. It flew in a circle underneath the ceiling and stopped on the cabinet by the bedside.
"Come over......" Leerin spread her hands. The bird looked at her fingers and hopped onto her palm.
"If you always do that, someone might catch you and eat you."
She caressed the bird's head and feathers. The worry and frustration in Leerin from being locked in a room vanished. The color of the bird resembled that of tea, but white feathers crossed its chest to its face. It looked funny when its long tail moved. On the top of its head were golden feathers shaped like a crown. Having enjoyed the fun that the bird brought over, Leerin stretched her hands out the window. A flock of similar birds were on the opposite side of the facility.
"Go back to your friends."
The bird peered out, spread its wings and flew out.
Leerin was still confined in the facility. Every day, she walked from her room to the canteen and back, as if she was locked in a prison like a prisoner. Ten days had passed since she met Nina, but the investigation hadn't made much progress. But....... Irritation rose in her. It wasn't dissatisfaction, but it still filled her up inside. Most of the people in the canteen held the same feeling. They looked around and their conversations became louder and louder. The expressions of the students monitoring the crowd became stiffer and stiffer. Probably Leerin and the other people living in this facility knew nothing of what that portended. For some reason, she just couldn't calm herself. The quality of her sleep had also diminished. The people here would not be able to catch the next roaming bus if the situation wasn't resolved soon. That would be very troublesome. But Myath couldn't possibly hold them here forever. The next roaming bus would bring more people. The increasing number of people detained here would increase the tension at the facility, and food shortages would arise. So, this hold-up would not be long. That was what some of the more schooled passengers said.
However, that person was also peering at the students monitoring them with impatience. Just what was his unreasonable uneasiness ......? Anyone would want some information about the situation.
"Speaking of which, that girl............"
Leerin didn't see the girl named Nina Antalk. Recently, she hadn't been taking long to eat her lunch. She always returned immediately to her room afterwards. Perhaps the name Nina belonged to some passenger. But was she really one of the people living here? The canteen was the only place where Leerin could contact her, but she hadn't seen her for 10 days. What a strange person...... That thought flashed past her. She took care to avoid Nina in the first two days. Noticing that the other person didn't deliberately get close to her, Leerin had felt more relaxed. Still, it was strange that she hadn't seen Nina in the canteen since then.
"Nina Antalk......Who is she?"
"Calling for me?"
Leerin looked back instinctively at the voice. Nina climbed in from the window where Leerin had let the bird go.
"Ah!" Leerin stepped back from her. Shocked, she lost her balance and fell onto the bed.
"Careful........." Nina caught her wrist.
"Wh, wh, wh......"
"Are you all right?"
"What are you doing!" Leerin said, scolding Nina for her lack of common sense.
"Investigating the city," she replied firmly.
"I said before that it was ok if I didn't know the situation, but on second thought, I should check it out. Just in case that time comes, it would be more convenient to move around. So I went to do some investigation."
Saying it so matter-of-factly.
"Investigate? .........Eh? ......You mean," Leerin looked out the window.
Nina nodded. Outside laid the streets of Myath.
"Went to check it out."
Still the calm voice.
"It's not my style to sneak around but I had no choice in this situation. I have a good grasp of the current situation."
"Then what's going on?" Leerin turned sideways for the information that everyone in the facility wanted to have.
"This city has stopped moving."
Nina didn't say anything more. Regios moved on their own, drifting around in this world to escape filth monsters. Human beings once seemed to be in charge of this world in the distant past. However, in the present, humans were only side characters, existing to decorate the main characters.
"Uh, I understand why you doubt that," she glanced out the window behind her. "All the windows here face the side of the city."
"How can that be......"
It was true, from the window here, Leerin could only see the inside of the city. That didn't mean all the windows here faced the inside though.
"I haven't heard the legs moving. I couldn't see the legs, so it took a while to discover the problem."
That probably explained the source of Leerin's irritation and her lack of sleep. What always existed was gone, and that was affecting her body.
"But, the legs stopping......"
A Regios had stopped moving. She had never thought of that possibility before. It was natural for a city to move.
"I'm also shocked, but that's the truth," Nina said, nodding. "City Police wouldn't have been so agitated if it was just some machinery malfunctioning. The workers told me before that the structures of a city's multi-legs are mostly the same. So that possibility is very low."
"Think. If it were just information theft, would that interfere with the city's movement? If that information was so important, there should have been a backup."
"If they really looked for something to steal, it must have been something unique to the city."
"Isn't that obvious?" she said with confidence. Leerin shook her head.
A unique thing of Myath.........
"Ah, could it be......"
A single phrase appeared to her. Something that she had never noticed. But Layfon had mentioned it in his letter.
"An Electronic Fairy?"
"Can't be anything else," Nina nodded.
Electronic Fairy......The City's consciousness, an existence full of mysteries that people nowadays had no means of creating. And that thing had been stolen.
"But, I don't get it."
Leerin couldn't comprehend it. She had never seen an Electronic Fairy before, hence she wasn't clear of what it was.
"I understand. It's hard to imagine an Electronic Fairy being stolen."
"It's hard for me to accept that. I know it's possible to lure an Electronic Fairy out of the Mechanical Department, but that's all I know."
"Um, because......" Nina planned to explain......but suddenly shut her mouth and turned to the window.
Leerin followed her gaze and froze.
"I don't know how they did it, but the Electronic Fairy's trapped."
An unbelievable sight stood before Leerin. A wall separated the facility and the rest of the city, and above it were a large number of birds, the same as the bird that had flown inside Leerin's room.
".........What's going on?"
The flock of birds struggled madly like a huge creature. Flashes of light surrounded them. The birds called.
"An Electronic Fairy," Nina said and climbed out the window.
"What're you doing?"
"I'm going to help them. That's why I'm here."
She slid out and pushed herself from the wall. The wall vibrated with the push of a Military Artist. Nina's figure quickly shrank and then disappeared from Leerin's sight.
The commotion continued. Leerin could feel the birds' pain. And then the alarm rang in the facility.
Someone outside the door was calling, "Filth monsters!"
Leerin opened the door. People holding their luggage filled the corridor. She quickly grabbed her own luggage and pushed herself into the crowd. Now that filth monsters were discovered, she had to head for a shelter. Besides, this wasn't Grendan. The city might be destroyed soon.
"Everyone, please rest assured! The Military Artists of Myath will take care of the filth monsters. Please stay calm and head for the shelter! You'll be helping us immensely by doing that."
Roy's announcement might not make much difference as the crowd pushed around, moving out to the shelter.
"Leerin-san," someone greeted her.
"Savaris-san!" Leerin pushed her way to him.
"Let me escort you to the shelter."
"If I don't keep you safe, someone might get mad at me. This way please," he took her luggage, put her on his shoulder and ran out.
"Wait a minute, Savaris......san!"
"Don't speak. You'll bite your tongue."
"Uh......That!" Leerin didn't say more. Savaris kept running. Not on the streets, but on the wall. The streets were full of people. It'd be hard to run fast there, but no one could imagine someone running on the wall. And Leerin was just a normal person.
Savaris ran on walls. He didn't stop even when he met a set of stairs. He just ran around it, rushing all the way to the front of the door.
"Please be calm! The roads heading to the shelters are safe!" Roy shouted from the door.
Leerin had no time to pay attention to Roy. She herself was experiencing something she had never encountered before.
"You're tense. Has Layfon never done this before?"
"Aaah, looks like you're very important to him."
"......Those are two different matters," she denied, blushing.
"Anyway, I had no choice........." he said.
What he said bothered her.
Roy and the City Police were too busy keeping track of the passengers to look at Leerin and Savaris.
"You said that if you don't keep me safe, you can't report to a certain someone......"
"You still remember."
"How could I forget that?"
"That's troublesome. I would be very happy if you forgot what I said."
"If you tell me who it is, then I'll forget it."
"That's troublesome," Savaris said with a worried expression.
She would have said "never mind" and given up in the face of a Heaven's Blade successor if she was at Grendan. But she was used to the personality of Savaris during the long time they spent together in the roaming bus. She looked at him with an intense thirst for an answer. It couldn't be Derek. As Layfon's master, he probably knew Savaris, but Leerin didn't think he'd do something like this. Speaking of which, she could never imagine a Heaven's Blade leaving Grendan. Derek would also be shocked.
"Someone whom you also know......"
"......It can't be Synola senpai?"
Leerin didn't have that many friends at school. Only one name surfaced when she thought of someone who would know a Heaven's Blade successor.
Leerin wasn't surprised at the quick admission. She wasn't surprised at it being someone like Synola.
"......Because something happened."
His words became less clear. The droplets of sweat adorning his face failed to escape her eyes.
(Synola must have a hold over him.) She felt sorry for Savaris.
"Thanks for the work."
"No. Not at all. I'm happy to help."
As the two of them chatted, Leerin found herself before the young man wearing the City Police uniform. He led her and the others to the shelter. It appeared that the filth monsters hadn't shown up yet. The sight of the outside of the city greeted her. As the facility was situated at the outskirt of the city, the outside was the first scenery she saw.
The City's multi-legs had stopped moving. Did anyone notice in this chaos?
(Nina said they stopped moving.)
She looked behind her. The flock of birds still flew in the same space, as if they were hiding in the shadow behind the facility. Thin threads of lines flashed around them.
(If the Electronic Fairy is really there.........)
Would the crisis be averted if someone could save the Electronic Fairy and return it to the Mechanical Department?
"What're you doing?" Savaris said, grabbing hold of her wrist.
She stopped walking. The other passengers and City Police had already left.
"Savaris-san, the City's multi-legs have stopped moving."
"I know. I thought this might happen."
She widened her eyes at his curt attitude, but this wasn't the time to criticize his personality.
"The Electronic Fairy is missing from the Mechanical Department. If we don't do something quick......"
".........Um, where did you hear this from?"
"Nina. The girl we saw at the canteen."
"Just then, over there," she pointed at the flock of birds. "She said the Electronic Fairy is there."
"Don't you find that strange?"
Savaris's expression turned curious. "True. It's rare to see birds flying outside, but that's because they know there's no pollutants here. They have the instinct that tells them what's dangerous and what's not."
"Then what is that strange light?"
Savaris's expression turned stranger. "There is such a thing?"
"Eh?" Leerin studied the flock of birds again. Yes, there was a strange light around the birds. The birds were still flying in circles to escape it. The light kept blocking their way.
"Isn't the light there?"
"I don't see anything."
He didn't seem to be making it up.
"But........." she saw it. Was it her imagination.........A doubt flashed by her, but the reality of what she saw remained there. She didn't think she had gone insane. Then what was happening here must be real. Besides her.........Nina also saw it.
"Let's go," Savaris reached out for her, but she avoided his hand and ran.
"Sorry. Please take care of the rest."
He said something, but she wasn't paying attention. She just kept running in the direction of the birds.
"Please take care of the rest......" Savaris scratched his head. "How can I just leave it?"
The Queen gave him this order on the day before he left for Zuellni. She said it in a voice that prevented anyone else from overhearing. "Your priority isn't the Haikizoku, but Leerin's safety. If even a hair of her was hurt, hehe, I think I don't need to tell you the rest. And you must listen to any of her requests as if they were my orders."
What a messy order. If Kanaris had heard that, she would have been so mad.
".........If her request would cause her to lose her life, what do I do?" he asked slyly.
"You must keep her safe and also carry out her requests. You've to guarantee both. Where's that air of yours as a Heaven's Blade successor?"
"Nah. I'm not Lintence. I don't have that air."
"Shut up. Just do it your own way."
He was made to follow such an unreasonable order. Since it was the Queen's order, Savaris couldn't just leave Leerin behind.
"So what should I do?"
The Queen wouldn't let him go easily if anything happened to Leerin. Savaris could have escaped to other cities but no other city could satisfy him like Grendan. So, he had to guarantee Leerin's safety and also carry out her requests.
"Uh......meaning I'll have to handle the filth monsters."
Leerin probably meant for him to cover up her absence when the City Police found her missing, but that would not remove the danger the filth monsters brought to her.
"But if I have to get rid of the filth monsters, I can't leave her too far from me."
Besides, the Queen had said Leerin was not to be hurt in any way. Not even a hair.
"Well, I just have to take care of the filth monsters here."
He looked around. This City relied on a Kei cannon to attack outside filth monsters.
"This might cause me some trouble. I don't have my Heaven's Blade with me."
Without the reinforcement of a Psychokinesist, even Savaris had no idea where the filth monsters were. Compared to a filth monster in its matured form, the huge number of larvae caused a bigger threat under this situation. This would be an easy problem for Lintence or Layfon, who had learnt Lintence's technique of the steel threads.
"Uh........." he thought for a moment. "Interesting."
Had he had such a restricted fight before? Grendan usually sent out 11 Heaven's Blades in fights. Savaris could only spend a fraction of his full potential in those fights. However, the current situation was different. With this complicated situation, he must protect Leerin alone.
"I see, I see.........The saying goes, 'what can be done is dependent on one's actions.'" His mood swung to a more positive note.
"Well, let's make a brilliant show."
Nothing obstructed Leerin's way, so she ran smoothly to where the birds were.
The threads of light flashed around the birds. Leerin could feel more pressure as she drew closer.
"Where's Nina.........?" she kept a safe distance from the light and searched for Nina.
Found her. Not through her vision, but she heard the sound of Military Artists fighting.
The sound of clashing steel cut into Leerin's eardrums. She instinctively covered her ears and crouched down.
"It really is you guys!" Nina shouted. Leerin could hear her even with her ears covered.
Numerous shadows suddenly appeared before her. One of them was Nina, holding two iron whips......and the other five people......
Each person wore a mask resembling the head of a dog, and they each held different weapons. Leerin held her breath. She couldn't tell who was male or female. They all wore fighting suits with their heads wrapped in black clothes and their faces covered by masks.
"Wolf Face. What is your aim?"
So this organization was called Wolf Face, after a creature that had almost gone extinct and only lived in books. Wolf. An animal that had once ran and hunted on the earth.
Leerin didn't know who it was, but one of the masked people answered Nina. "Our goal is the limitless battlefield. We must obtain what is necessary for that goal.........such as the power you also know of. The Haikizoku."
"What! You plan to destroy this city!?" Nina said with shock. Her cheeks turned red. She ground her teeth as if they were about to spill out sparks. She glared at the Wolf Face.
"We're not interested in that," the masked person declared coldly.
Leerin trembled at the coldness that could ignore the lives of thousands of people living in this city.
"You bastards............People can only live in Regios. How dare you destroy it........."
The Wolf Face ignored Nina's fury. "Regios are not worth mentioning."
"The Aurora Field has made possible the Rigzario belief. We're like ashes before Ignasis's dream," All of the Wolf Face said at the same time in cold voices.
(Can they.........communicate without words?)
The masks covered their faces. Is there nothing behind the mask? That was what Leerin felt. Something that felt hollow. An empty personality. Lack of emotion in their voices. They didn't appear to be zealots. But their voices were like those from a tape.
"You said......the Rigzario belief?" Nina said, not swayed by the way the Wolf Face spoke.
"Do you know? Of Rigzario?" they seemed interested. "Right. I see. That's why you're here."
"What are you saying?" Nina said. They didn't reply but spread their weaponless hands.
"Come with us, Nina Antalk."
"Our meeting is sullied by something nasty."
"But the Aurora Field will not deny a fighter."
"We'll fulfill the ultimate aim of Military Artists."
Words that didn't match that dry voice. All of the Wolf Faces held out their weaponless hands to Nina. Their weapons were pointed at the ground. Their hands stretched out to seek comrades. What would Nina do?
"I can't believe you," she rejected them. "There's no soul in your words. I don't know who made you this way or if someone could be speaking through you......I don't know. But how can I respond to words that are soulless? How could anyone respond?" Her powerful words hammered into them. "Even if I think the same as you, I'll probably become like you in the end. Then I'd be ignoring my will. If Ignasis is the one pulling your strings, then he's only someone who doesn't trust anyone. A coward who doesn't want to be trusted!" Her intense voice smashed against the masks of the Wolf Faces.
"Negotiation has failed."
The Wolf Faces readied their Dites. Their murderous intent rose quietly, adding a sense of heavy weight to the atmosphere. Nina raised her iron whips.
"I know the Electronic Fairy is there. Since I know why......... no, even if I didn't know, I wouldn't give it to you."
The killing intent became a whirl. Invisible power filled the surroundings and pressed Leerin to the ground.
Nina cocked her head in that tense atmosphere. Leerin didn't know why. She wouldn't know. And the battle began.
"Ahaaaaa!" Sudden wind assaulted Leerin and sent her flying, a wind caused by Kei crashing against Kei.
(I'm falling.) Leerin's body turned stiff.
"Huh?" But what met her back wasn't a heavy crushing feeling, but just light pain.
"Are you all right?"
She opened her eyes and saw Roy. "Eh? Eheh?"
Roy had caught her in the air. He lowered her to the ground.
"I saw you leaving, so I came over." His face turned serious. Leerin looked at the battle that her eyes failed to follow.
"I never thought this would happen........." He said with a complicated expression. "It's a battle I can't take part in."
Roy could follow the battle?
".........You can see it?"
"Yes. Very intense fight," he replied calmly.
"I see. How is Nina?" Leerin searched for Nina in the battle. This fight bore the fate of the Electronic Fairy, of Myath the city.
".........That girl probably has the advantage. But I can't bet the City's fate on the fight of one person." He took his gaze off the battle and walked off.
"Where are you going?"
"The Electronic Fairy is where the flock of birds is. Then I just need to destroy the device keeping the birds there, right?"
"Ah, I see........." Leerin couldn't do anything even though she had come over here. She ignored the sound of battle and followed Roy.
In order not to get caught in the fight, they took a long way around to where the birds were. Everyone had gone to the shelters, so the buildings here were all empty. Roy opened the emergency exit and walked through it.
"There aren't any other entrances to the shelters. I'll take you through another entrance."
"I should do this. I found out what was going on because of you." His official attitude remained unchanged. They walked on a curved road.
"Ha, Ha.........So far........."
Roy wasn't tired since he was a Military Artist, but it was taxing for Leerin. She wasn't good at sports. Her stomach hurt from having to run and walk and run again.
"Are you all right?"
".........Yeah," she said with resentment, looking at Roy who wasn't even panting. The birds above them continued to struggle. Their voices rent the sky apart. Leerin regulated her breathing and looked around.
"The device should be around here somewhere."
"Yeah, I hope so."
"Anyway, let's go and have a look."
They were several buildings away from the fight, but she could still hear the sound of steel clashing. She and Roy began searching for the device. Around them was a wall that stretched into someplace distant, a road bordering that wall and bushes that lined the road. Leerin searched among the leaves for anything that looked suspicious. Roy was also searching but it didn't seem like he had found anything.
(Can it be......) An idea flashed past her. But it wasn't possible. Roy is part of the City Police. Anyway, right now, she should look for the Electronic Fairy.
"Found it!" Roy said. He was opening the lid of a drain. "This must be one of the devices causing this phenomenon."
A device that Leerin could hold in her two hands sat in the drain. A cable was connected to it.
"We just need to destroy this, right?" Leerin said.
"No need to destroy it," he said, grabbing the cable and unplugging it from the device. Smoke and sparks issued from the device along with some noise.
"Just had to stop the flow of electricity."
Leerin never thought of pulling the cable. Ignoring Roy's childish expression, she looked at the sky. The sound of wings beating above her. The light had disappeared. The birds scattered to gather in a new place. Birds surrounded Leerin.
The bird that had flown into Leerin's room was also here. She recognized it because of the golden feathers. That bird flew to stop on her shoulder.
"Myath......" Roy said numbly.
"This is Myath."
"This bird......" The bird on Leerin's shoulder was the Electronic Fairy. Because the flock of birds was trapped, so it......
"Yes, we must return Myath to the Mechanical Department," Roy reached out his hand.
A split second......
The bird's eyes flashed. Roy's fingertip turned black. Black blood dripped from where the skin was cracked. The small weight on Leerin's shoulder swayed and the bird toppled. She hurriedly caught it in her hands.
The Electronic Fairy had refused Roy?
"So troublesome." There was still a painful expression on his face. He stretched his hand to her. "Can you return it to me?"
"I refuse," she took a few steps back. She had wanted to just turn around and flee but she knew he would catch up in no time. "I won't give it to you. I'll take it back to the Mechanical Department."
"............I can't let an outsider take it to the Mechanical Department. Hurry and return it to me."
Leerin slowly backed away. "The Electronic Fairy's refused you. You're hiding something."
Roy's expression turned calm. ".........How do you know?"
".........Because you can see it."
The light that surrounded the birds.........Leerin could see it but Savaris couldn't. Everyone else was the same. It was a very intense light......caused by the filth monsters' attack? That wasn't enough to solve the problem. Only Leerin and Nina could see that light, and the only person left who could see it must be the culprit.
"I see. Looks like I made a mistake," he said without any feelings.
"Who......Who are you people?"
"That's my line. What's your aim?"
Confusion caught her.
"You have no Kei vein. You are neither a Military Artist nor a Psychokinesist. Why are you in the Wheel of Fate? The sealed world made by the Alchemists? You're just a normal person."
How should I know! Without even the time to shout that out, Leerin ran off with all her strength.