City Series:Volume5a Chapter8

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Contents

Chapter 8: Heart[edit]

City v05a 245.jpg

05/10/1944 - 05/12/1944

When I held her in my right hand Lady Beretta calmed down.

May 10, 1944[edit]

Letter Left by Beretta: To Mallette, My Good Friend who is Still Asleep[edit]

After my first morning class today, I have somewhere to visit and then I'll bring Rosetta over to start preparing for the school festival. Make sure you come help build the stand, okay?

Now, I'm guessing we'll have a written test during that first class today. It's an industrial markets class, so it will probably be about Lourd de Marionnettes or something. But Professor Helier is nice, so we'll probably just have to write an essay about our thoughts on the subject like usual. And we can wait to turn it in until the end of the festival. Of course, it was that excessive kindness that led his wife to leave him. But anyway.

I'll be going then. We'll be sleeping over at the school tonight, so I hope you're ready.

Blackboard in the Industrial Markets Class: Today's Class[edit]

Choose one of the following topics and use the provided paper to write up your thoughts on the topic.

1: The Structure of the Lourd de Marionnettes Market

2: How the Car Industry Which Opened Up America's Economy is Currently Spinning Its Wheels

3: A Nearby Industrial Product

If you are unable to complete your essay in time, treat it as homework due by the end of the school festival.

Sorbonne University PR Club Extra Edition: Pre-Festival Report[edit]

Today (5/10) the school festival preparations have begun, but supplies have been limited for the past few years due to the war. That can be disappointing, but it only affects our supplies. We have filled ourselves with the spirit of this city of revolution, so we live a far more fulfilled life on the mental front.

This year, all 8 departments and 72 clubs are setting up so many stands, posters, signs, and other decorations that you would think we had occupied not just the university itself, but the courtyard and road out front as well. Most likely, the school will once more turn a blind eye as students spend the night working, so we predict the area around the university will be bustling with activity throughout the night.

The bistros and general stores near the school will remain open 24 hours a day while preparing to support the students working through the night and to drive out the drunk students. Meanwhile, the German military police, the French police who work for them, and the public morals committee intend to tighten up security with patrols around the clock.

Of course, when we approached a member of each group for comment, we received the following responses:

"I want to see what a French festival looks like."

"We did the same thing back in the day, so go nuts with it."

"Yeah, sorry about this, everyone. Ha ha ha ha."

The patrols will almost certainly be in name only, just like always. Some volunteers are already planning to get the patrols involved in a road party (the usual affair where the security officials help block off the road so they can turn it into a giant bar), so there isn't going to be anyone left to tell us to get to sleep. The leader of those volunteers is Mallette Harculia, Drunken Queen of the Economics Department. Everyone, you can rest easy and drink.

Now, a lot of preparations were made today, but that famous exchange student Miss Beretta McWild made a stand so big they couldn't get it out of the courtyard where they built it. This thoughtlessness was resolved by her Belle de Marionnette friend Miss Rosetta Balleroy (When asked if the Belle de Marionnette was her femme de ménage, she kicked our reporter to the side and demanded it be corrected to friend) who used large prosthetic arms to safely carry the stand out front.

Note: This incident sent one of our reporters to the hospital, so the PR Committee is in urgent need of a new field reporter.

Now, one of the reasons that stand grew so large is due to the portable oven installed inside it. They will apparently be using that to cook. And the cooking will be done by Miss Rosetta who carried the stand. At this point, she is more human than Belle de Marionnette and visiting the stand by the eastern entrance would be well worth it to gaze upon her beauty.

Next, let us talk about the Student Council which causes a commotion each year by having the Festival Committee read a vulgar statement for the festival's opening ceremony.

Quick Message from the Sorbonne University Student Council: To the School Festival Committee[edit]

Just like last year, the statements for the opening and closing ceremonies will be changed last-minute to a random student essay swiped from the administrative office.

We kind of have to after how much everyone loved last year's closing ceremony where you read Miss Mallette Harculia's "Thoughts on Sex Education". We're hoping for something as good as that this year too.

Send in a ninja or something so the old administrators don't catch you swiping the essays. (Oh, will writing this down increase the odds of you being Signe-d?)

Also, can you hurry up and release the program and tournament chart for the Lourd de Marionnette battles? The winner fights a match against that Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Berge, so who we bet on depends on who's likely to be the winner.

Then again, no one can beat that Lieutenant Colonel who's supposedly on the level of a Sword Master, so I guess this isn't very conducive to gambling.

Personally, I bet 10 francs on Beretta from Economics. Her rival will definitely be Phillip who was given a special spot by the Germans. I'm from the same department as him and we would probably still be drinking together if he hadn't joined the German army. None of this is easy.

Phillip is from the Chevalier de Paris family. Even if that position no longer exists, there are tons of Lourd de Écrivains in France who were influenced by Missel.

And in a sparring match when he was 11, Phillip himself smashed up his grandfather's knee so bad that elderly hero could never fight again. I've heard he's been avoiding Lourd de Marionnettes ever since, so why did he decide to Recréa again now? One of those two is bound to win this. There's no doubting that.

–Student Council President

Sorbonne University Student Message Board: Notification from the Festival Committee[edit]

The biggest event of the 2nd day is the Lourd de Marionnette battles and the preparations are now complete.

It will take a tournament format, so during the 2nd round, the winners of the 1st and 2nd battles and of the 3rd and 4th battles will face each other. And so on.

1st Battle

  • Special Participant: Phillip Missel
  • Art Department Representative: Aerios Bent

2nd Battle

  • Math Department Representative: Joseph Acor
  • Pharmaceutical Department Representative: Saint-Pierre Lant

3rd Battle

  • Engineering Department Representative: Clure Raspail
  • Athletic Department Representative: Lorent Andalusia

4th Battle

  • Literature Department Representative: Cress Alsace
  • Economics Department Representative: Beretta McWild

As a prize for victory, the school will give an "A" to everyone in one class of the winner's choosing. We hope everyone involved will give it their best. May the goddess of war and freedom rule the heavens and the earth along with us.

–Festival Committee

Rosetta's Journal[edit]

A lot of interesting things happened today.

One of them is the fact that I am writing this below the night sky.

Because today Lady Beretta came and took me to a place known as college. We are still working even now.

It is already two in the morning. But everyone is doing various kinds of work or playing musical instruments and singing along or running around the streets naked until a local resident sends them flying. It is quite a commotion.

I helped make something using the tools I normally use to repair the windows. It is like a small cabin.

It resembles the mansion's chicken coop that I used the tools to destroy about eight years ago. Inside the cabin Lady Mallette installed the portable stove and oven she had brought from the appartement.

I will use those to cook tomorrow. The oven is large so I intend to cook côtelette de viande broche. I would like to bake a pie. But that would take too much time and I have selected simpler dishes instead.

I was surprised to find everyone was unfamiliar with how to cook fried foods in the oven.

First heat up the oven to 250 degrees Celsius and line up the unfried items inside. Then lightly sprinkle them with oil heated up to the same temperature and wait a few minutes.

By using a stepped layout in the oven the cooking will finish much faster than frying them in oil like normal. It also uses very little oil which makes it easier for women to eat. The skewers are to make it easier to eat while walking.

I am writing this on Lady Beretta's report papers.

She does not have much left. Tomorrow I think I will go to the store in the school – the building known as a school strangely has another building with a different function contained inside it – to buy some more.

That reminds me that Lady Beretta taught me about parentheses and how to use them.

  • ( ) are used to insert your own thoughts or impression.

The distinction between that and the "–" seems tricky but I will probably understand if I read back over everything.

I will try to use them well.

Lady Mallette and the others are carefully removing the coal from the oven. I will tell them we should be able to use the coal without a fire tomorrow if we store it together properly.

I have told them.

Lady Beretta is already falling asleep next to me. She said she wrote a long essay in class and had a lot of other odd jobs to complete.

When moving the stand the two of us rode her bicyclette back to the mansion – the master was out at the time – to retrieve my large prosthetic arms from the first floor storeroom. We pushed them along like a cart on the way back.

Those giant arms are acting as Lady Beretta's pillow right now. Her large bag is also resting atop the arms. I removed those large arms as soon as I had finished carrying the stand – some nearby gentlemen ran over to watch me swap out arms and I ended up completing the swap in a small school room with only Lady Beretta with me – and I reattached the human-modeled ones which I am now using to write this journal entry.

So right now I am lying down and using the streetlight to write.

This streetlight must be one of the lights I could see from the mansion's second floor.

That makes me happy. (It really does.)

After writing this much I feel like I can do a much better job of writing what I want to say than I used to. Learning various symbols to express myself must have taught me how to write various thoughts in different ways.

Cooking is the same.

A knife can only cut apart. That is why pots and cutting boards and spatulas exist. Those provide so many more methods of cooking.

Before I only had a knife when it came to writing my journal. But now I am using my words more skillfully as I write down my thoughts. That is how it feels to me. It is a strange feeling. Yes. It does not become strange because I write that it is strange. I wrote that because I wanted to convey that the feeling is strange.

I think that is the foundation of the Signe in France.

You write what you think. You use your written expressions to create yourself. From now on I will not simply write these entries aimlessly. I will write them to convey something. And that leads me to a certain thought.

Why do I discover these things while Lady Beretta is with me? I do not at all know whether or not that is a coincidence. But by definitely Signe-ing this, I can convey to myself how I feel about Lady Beretta.

It is a strange thing. I think it was different last year. Lady Beretta was not with me last year. But that is not what I mean. I am not sure how to describe it. But something was different.

I have to wonder if I was sleeping for decades before I awoke to this higher level of consciousness. It has apparently been 25 years since I was made. So could I have been sleeping for that long period of time?

If so I am glad I woke up.

Yes. And I am not just glad about myself. I am also glad that Lady Beretta is with me.

<Lady Beretta reached out her hand in her sleep. She clings to me.>

This also happened when I spent the night in Lady Beretta's room. Holding onto things in her sleep is apparently a special ability of hers. I do not know what it means. But I see a lot in common between the way she acts then and the babies holding onto their mothers I see in the city.

<She pulls me toward her and buries her face in my chest. It is difficult to move.>

I have lost free use of my hand. I am quickly writing this down with my left hand.

When I held her in my right hand Lady Beretta calmed down. That is why.

She is probably saying something in her sleep. But I will not listen to it as it is probably some kind of secret.

She would tell me if I asked her about it. She always tells me about such things even when something is worrying her.

I have several questions. But I think that is for the best. I will be able to Signe it eventually. Just as my writing is gradually transforming from a simple series of words into a conversation carrying emotion. I will try to Signe the answers to my own questions.

<Lady Beretta muttered something.

She has a pained look on her face. She seems to have gasped.>

The mothers I see in the city will calm their crying babies by holding them like something precious. So I think I will hold Lady Beretta in my arms. That is the correct answer for her since she is holding onto me as if I am her mother.

But there is one other thing I must write.

My arms still feel awkward when holding her.

Today... Today I have decided I want arms with actual warmth to them. Like a human's. I do not mind if that means I must say goodbye to the prosthetics she is using as a pillow.

Can I become human?

I do not think everything I did today was part of my job. That is what I believe.

Heinz Berge's Journal[edit]

Today, I was off duty. At 10:00, the 2nd Aide visited. He told me that the western front is at a standstill and that the general headquarters are divided when it comes to the Allies' major attack.

The 352nd Infantry Division to which my platoon belongs was given emergency orders to gather on the Normandy coast. General Rommel sent the orders to each platoon commander individually.

The 2nd Aide had the following to say about the matter:

"The general headquarters believes an Allied landing operation would occur near Calais, but General Rommel and other high-ranking army officers seem to believe the enemy is targeting the Normandy coast."

I had him confirm the current status of the platoon and then I left for the Paris branch office.

At 14:35, I sent a telegram from the branch office to the general headquarters. I requested they postpone appointing me head of the Attesor Project Research Team which was scheduled for June 1. I believe everything will be decided by the action or inaction of the Allies in early June.

At 16:21, I returned to the barracks. I removed my coat and checked the pocket. For some reason, I found a bookmark there.

I had no memory of the bookmark. My journal entry for April 20 said I had found it then, but all memory of it had been erased. I predict that is due to the Psyche Outer surgery. All that remains is the bookmark in my hand which has a single pressed four o'clock flower on it.

I feel no emotion over the loss of my memories. I feel an almost dutiful expectation over becoming more and more like a machine. And about that alone, I feel no surprise or doubt. I will simply Lernen the thoughts in the back of my mind and go to sleep.

May 11, 1944[edit]

Sorbonne University PR Club Extra Edition: First Day of the School Festival[edit]

The school festival began today, but it’s looking like it’s going to develop into a wild, all-night party like it does every year. The faculty lodgings have closed their doors to make sure nothing “unfortunate” happens, but most of the normal buildings are full of festivities in preparation for the second day.

After all, the Lourd de Marionnette battles everyone is looking forward to are tomorrow. Even as we edit this in the evening, the cheerleading groups for each representative are clashing and it feels like a riot could start in some areas.

The special report for today would have to be about the essay read at the opening ceremony. It was by Miss Mallette Harculia who still wants the title of the Drunken Queen.

Some people complained that it was just the same thing as last year, but you should have seen the reaction when the Student Council President got up in front of the entire student body in the courtyard and said “Problems with Rearing Children, by Mallette Harculia”. How well it was received proved better than anything else that you should stick with what works. After the opening ceremony, the miss herself stormed into the Festival Committee HQ and demanded her stand be given the dozen bottles of Dom Pérignon – which could not have been easy to gather the way things are – that were meant for the after-festival party.

This year’s festival was a bit lacking in noise and color since German restrictions kept us from getting any fireworks, but that seems to have explosively increased everyone’s sales.

According to a customer survey, the bestselling products as of 4:08 PM today are the following two:

1: The Discarded Military Supplies Market

There was a bazaar for weapons, uniforms, and the like from both the German and French armies. I might seem surprising that the Germans would allow a market like this, but there are rumors that most of the money goes back to the cash-strapped Germans. Makes you wonder which country is occupying which.

2: The PR Club’s School Festival Photos

The PR Club was selling an album of important photos from the school festival. This time, we rush-edited together some photos we took during the preparations and the first half of today. The cover was a photo of the newly-famous pair of Miss Beretta McWild and Miss Rosetta Balleroy sleeping in each other’s arms. I think that was the secret to its success. At the very least, I know the Crossdresser’s Beauty Pageant section at the end didn’t help.

Also, the cameraman who took the photo was soon hit by one of Miss Beretta’s kicks and sent to the hospital. Thank you for your sacrifice. It has done wonders for our sales. Hooray!

Command within the German Army’s Paris Branch Office: To Branch Office Personnel[edit]

Over the past several weeks, dress uniforms, mock bullets, and weapons-related equipment have been stolen from the branch office’s storage on several occasions. Keep an eye on each other to prevent any more such crimes.

Also, every university in Paris begins a festival today. Do not let the French people’s high spirits influence you. You must remain prepared for any sign of the enemy arriving from the west.

We look forward to your renewed efforts.

May 12, 1944[edit]

Mock Battle Message Board: Things to Keep in Mind During a Lourd de Marionnette Battle

  • Bow before and after the battle.
  • Obey the referee’s decisions.
  • If you cannot return to battle because you cannot replace a major lost part, you forfeit the match.
  • Any attack on a fallen opponent and any attack meant to slice or crush an opponent’s head, spine, or torso is a foul.
  • Taking the spectators or referee hostage is a foul.
  • Usage of cannons and other projectile weapons is not allowed.
  • The emergency team from Paris’s general hospital insists they can “fully heal any and all injuries”, so there is no need to worry about harming your opponent.
  • But if your behavior is unbecoming of a French person, you will be removed.
–Festival Committee

Dopester Message Board behind the Mock Battleground: Speculation for 1st Round 4th Match[edit]

How should I put it? I’d say it’s about 4:6 in Beretta’s favor. I doubt we’ll see an upset like in the 1st Match where Phillip won despite the 6:4 odds against him.

Also, everyone expects Beretta to win the whole thing, but they’re holding back from betting on her because she’s a girl. In fact, it’s been almost entirely the girls betting on her this time. It’s looking like women are going to be the winners in both gambling and suffrage. But her opponent, Cress Alsace, was apparently lent a Lourd de Marionnette by the Germans thanks to some connections through his father. His father owns a newspaper company, so you can imagine why there’s a connection to the Germans there.

On one side is a bourgeois Recréa-ing into a cutting-edge German Lourd de Marionnette with no power restrictions. On the other is a female exchange student Recréa-ing into an old female Lourd de Marionnette borrowed from the school with power restrictions in place. Either way, this isn’t something you see every day. I bet it will be over in the blink of an eye.

Now, who will you back?

–Dopester Alef Marlow

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

Right away: kaboom.

<A fierce attack hits their chest.>

There, one wooden spear hit and it’s over~ That was fast. I was wondering what a Knight Striker is, but all I did was Write Bring into the Heavy Barrel and hit someone, so I was hardly fighting with the pride of a Knight Striker.

My opponent was just too weak. It doesn’t matter how good the Barrel is if you can’t use it.

The battle really was over in the blink of an eye. I didn’t even need to use the Over Emblem. Grazie’s Over Emblem is a mobility-focused transformation, but I’ve never actually tried it. The angel wing emblems on the shoulders aren’t showing any sign of activating. I don’t know if I’ll get to use that this time. The stopgap wooden spear is doing pretty well.

<The referee was shocked into motionless by how quickly the match ended.>

C’mon, ref. Snap out of it and give me the win. You can think about it back in the hangar.

Hey, Rosetta. Are you watching?

<She is waving to me.

The old man sitting next to her follows suit and waves as well.>

I love how you don’t have a care in the world. And I can relax more with you around. Now if only I could prioritize myself as a Knight Striker as much as I prioritize making you feel happy.

I’ll be heading back now, so make sure you have my clothes read-…eh?

<The referee is frantically shouting at me.

“Bow before returning to the hangar!”>

Oh, I forgot. If I return to the hangar without Pointing, I might be disqualified for “unbecoming behavior”.

My bad, my bad. Anyway, that’s a win for the first round. With this kind of speed, you’d think it was rigged. Keh keh keh.

Dopester Message Board behind the Mock Battle Ground: Speculation for 2nd Round 2nd Match[edit]

Thanks to the 1st round, the odds are 8:2 in Beretta’s favor.

Now, the winner of this match will be up against Phillip Missel who has already moved on to the final round.

Phillip sure is strong. That’s all I can say. You can see why he has a sword emblem on each shoulder. Even the Germans have to be shocked that Paris has such a powerful Lourd de Écrivain. I mean, the Germans only wanted the name of the former Chevalier de Paris, but now that he’s actually fighting, he’s proven himself to be strong indeed.

Then there’s the Expert de Épée he’s Recréa-ed into. It is so powerful and you can’t even be jealous since it hasn’t had its power control restored. The way he fights without relying on strength shows his skill is real.

Why would he join the Germans? That is the real mystery here. The final round will start after a break for lunch, so I hope to enjoy that longer wait. I really do.

–Dopester Alef Marlow

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

Right away: kapow.

<A fierce attack hits their chest.>

There, another wooden spear hit and it’s over, over, over~!!

This is turning out to be really easy without even getting into the initial issue of responsibility or what a Knight Striker is. I was hoping to get a lot of thinking done while Write Bringing into this Heavy Barrel, but I just don’t have time. Is no one going to let me fight a real Knight Striker’s battle in these Heavy Barrel battles? Write Bringing into a Heavy Barrel isn’t supposed to be a game.

I want to ask why these guys seem so intent on immediately attacking me without a second thought, but I can already hear Mallette making a dirty joke about that. And laughing at a crude joke isn’t going to help with much right now.

<The referee is staring blankly and says nothing.>

Hey, ref. Snap out of it and give me the win. Now how’s Rosetta?

<Rosetta is waving. The old man next to her follows suit.

It is weird how they look like a granddaughter and her grandfather.>

There really is something about Rosetta that draws in the people around her. But I wonder who that old man next to her is. …Oh?

<The fallen Heavy Barrel gets up. The right arm is smashed, but it can apparently still move.>

Ohh, he got back up, he got back up. He’s raising his weapon, he’s raising his weapon. Good job, good job.

And kablam.

<Another fierce attack hits their chest.>

Now he’s not about to get back up. Pathetic. Okay, ref. I really did win this time, so hurry up and announce it. Ah, wait.

“Rosetta! Don’t wave around the underwear I gave you when you wave at me!!”

First I’m impressed with her and now she’s worrying me. It’s always something with her.

Dopester Message Board behind the Mock Battle Ground: General Speculation for 3rd Round[edit]

Okay, these matches have been quite exciting, but they have also been unusually quick compared to past years.

That has got to be due to the great skill of the two who have reached the final round. They used that to obliterate the competition with overwhelming speed.

Special Participant Phillip, who had been gathering focus behind the scenes, ended the first and second rounds in a single attack, demonstrating the depth of this skill. It is a complete mystery why such a skilled Lourd de Écrivain had not made an appearance before this or why he finally did so now. Come to think of it, his Missel family used to use Lourd de Marionnettes to act as Paris’s guardians. Well, men have their reasons for what they do. It makes him seem even cooler if you ask me.

On the other hand, Beretta is an exchange student from America. A female Lourd de Écrivain has a very American feel to it, but she is strong too. Makes you wonder if she’s sold her soul to the devil or something.

Now, then. Who will win the match between them?

The betting is currently at 5:5 and showing no sign of budging. That is not a fun spot for me to be in. Not at all.

–Dopester Alef Marlow

Rosetta’s Journal: Today's 1st Entry[edit]

I will write today’s events in multiple entries because I feel like a lot is going to happen.

Lady Beretta was angry with me just now. She warned me instead of just lashing out at me. But it was still disappointing. My focus was apparently slipping.

But Lady Beretta is part of the reason why. There are times when she definitely looks my way while Recréa-ing. I am not entirely sure why I am so certain of that though. Perhaps there is a sort of resonance because we are both machines – she counts as a machine while Recréa-ing into a Lourd de Marionnette. And it makes me very happy when she looks my way. That makes me want to respond in some way. So I waved back and dropped her underwear. That is why she was angry.

I will try to restrain myself from now on. I think I will still end up waving though. I seem unable to control myself when I feel happy. Why is that, when I am a machine?

Anyway, Lady Beretta is strong.

She has already fought two matches today and she won them both in an instant. Everyone in the stands – what I thought were stairs are officially known as stands – was surprised and that made me realize how incredible Lady Beretta is. I asked the old man sitting next to me and he said that Lady Beretta is not normal. That means she is abnormal.

But I am worried. She will lose herself in thought while walking or fighting in the Lourd de Marionnette. I do not think anyone else noticed. But I sometimes feel a chill while watching her. There is a calm stillness as she thinks about something.

Lady Beretta is still Recréa-ing while sitting in the place known as a hangar. She ate the lunch I brought for her – she was almost entirely naked while she did so – and then she Recréa-ed again.

She says she is going to take a nap. But I think that is a lie.

She is thinking about something.

This has happened before on occasion. But this seems to be a gathering of all those thoughts. I think she will tell me what it is once she has an answer. So I will not ask.

That is why I am leaving her alone while I write this in a corner of the dining hall located next to the mock battleground.

Earlier I saw Sir Phillip on his own. He made sure Lady Beretta was not with me and then sat in the seat across from me.

Everyone in the dining hall kept their distance after that. They moved away.

Sir Phillip’s expression was very serious.

“I will win.”

He told me that and I asked a question in reply.

“Why do you want to defeat Lady Beretta?”

He thought for a moment and gave a simple answer.

“I want to get her to quit being a Lourd de Écrivain. Even when that idiot tries to restrain herself she ends up fighting just like this. Because she has the makings of a true Lourd de Écrivain.”

He smiled a little then.

“But it’s too dangerous. And a guy doesn’t want to see a girl in danger.”

“Lady Beretta feels the same. She does not to see you or the rest of us in danger.”

“That’s what makes her such an idiot. She has a habit of rushing in on her own. She doesn’t give a thought to whether she has someone by her side or who will come and save her if she fails.”

“She can indeed be somewhat forceful. But.”

“But nothing. And even if there is a ‘but’ she has a tendency to rush into danger before anyone else. She’s too naïve. I don’t know if this will make her happy or unhappy. But I do know I’ve never seen someone like that end up happy. Especially with the world the way it is these days.”

“Because of the war you mean?”

“More or less. France had Joan of Arc. But she too charged in on her own and ended up getting burned at the stake. Act like a hero during a war and you generally get killed for the trouble.”

“…She does like to have her way in such things.”

“In everything you mean.”

I smiled a bit at that.

He was right. I understood what he was saying. Lady Beretta tended to take action before anyone could say anything to her. Although that did make her quite reliable.

But. She said she does not want to get us involved in the war. Meanwhile, her unilateral actions are bringing her ever closer to that war herself.

War means bloodshed. I know from cooking that dead things have very little blood. And Lady Beretta will lose her blood if she joins the war.

That means she will die.

What am I supposed to do about that?

I (or should I say we?) do not want to see Lady Beretta in danger.

So should I try to restrict her actions like Sir Phillip?

I think this is a difficult question.

She said we would be safe if she puts herself in danger.

But is that really true? When I felt happy I think she did as well. That is certain. It is the same when she looks my way from the Lourd de Marionnette.

Lady Beretta would not be displeased when I am happy.

So is there no way to similarly make both of us safe?

I do not know. But I feel like there has to be a better solution.

I plan to ponder this some more without settling on a definitive conclusion.

It is almost 1 PM. That is when the final match begins. I am about to return to the hangar.

Referee’s Words: Announcement to Begin the Final Match[edit]

The 167th Lourd de Marionnette Battle Final Match will now begin.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

Hm.

It’s been five minutes since this started, but this one’s going to be tricky.

My, oh, my. I know next to nothing about that black Barrel called the Expert de Épée.

Based on the sword crest on the shoulders, it’s probably special-made for the Missel family, but it has a real intimidating presence to it. It doesn’t just give off the presence of the person inside it.

<The unmoving black Barrel looks hunched over due to the auxiliary seat joined with the shoulders.

You do not see that often with modern Barrels and it would require some way of accounting for the front and back balance during the design phase.>

I think the Protected Empress back at that old man’s place is like that too.

But, ugh. What am I supposed to do?

Hey, Phillip. Get moving. He isn’t falling for my provocations and, when I charge in, he either falls back or stays entirely motionless to take advantage of my action. Yet it all looks so clumsy and dangerous. That is about right for him, though.

Anyway, what should I do? Staring each other down only makes this tenser and I’m guessing only the spectators like this kind of cheap act.

<Everyone gulps as they watch on.>

If they actually thought about it, they’d understand that we’re just staring at each other without doing a thing.

That guy never makes the move in anything. That’s why I start thinking about making the move myself. …Wait, what am I saying? Nothing good ever comes of just letting my thoughts out like this. In fact, I’m not really thinking at all.

What am I supposed to do?

Hey, Phillip. Have you ever thought what it is you’re doing?

What you’re doing now is a complete waste of your time. On August 1, you join a Resistance uprising, defeat a few enemy Barrels, and then get killed by Heinz Berge.

You only have 3 months left to live. So why are you here? I know it’s pointless to ask since you don’t know you’re going to die, but you have to know you’re part of a fight that could lead to that. If you had time to fix up that Heavy Barrel, do some training, and participate in these battles…then wasn’t there something better you could have been doing?

Not that he would understand what I’m talking about.

But after all the time we’ve spent together, he probably thinks he knows what I’m thinking.

What am I supposed to do? Anyway, I’d hoped to think about some things and Sign a decent conclusion, but all my thoughts are like something from a lover’s spat. Is that just how much trouble I’m having with coming up with an answer this time?

I mean, I never thought Phillip would really make it this far.

And I don’t know why he’s Write Bringed into that Heavy Barrel.

I also don’t know what he hopes to accomplish by beating me here.

Ahh, I can’t believe this. I had predicted that black Barrel would make an appearance here, but I hadn’t thought about what that meant. I was too naïve.

Maybe I was too focused on myself.

I was thinking about what it means for me to be a Knight Striker, but I never even considered what other people thought about it.

He’s probably been thinking about it too. I mean, he showed up here after I said I would be participating.

As a Knight Striker, I was only looking at my own surroundings while he was looking at his surroundings and me.

Which means, um…

He understand me, but I don’t understand him.

Hm.

…Oh, crap!

Wow. I take that back! I just Signed something really dangerous, so what do I do!?

He understands me, but I don’t understand him? That means I’m aware of some things that put me at a disadvantage. What was I thinking!?

Where’s that entry in the memory bank? Delete, delete, delete!

Heavy Barrel Grazie’s System Message[edit]

Memory bank entries cannot be altered while the Heavy Barrel is in use.

Please edit the contents while in standby mode.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

I can’t delete it while it’s in use!? Gwah! This is really bad. What do I do?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Really, though. What do I do!?

This is a world where what you write defines you. So that was a critical mistake.

I’ll just have to do something.

But, ahh, I can’t believe this. I can’t stop my thoughts.

Since when have I not understood him?

I was just really, really careless, so I didn’t think he would make it this far and I hadn’t given any serious thought to why he was participating!!

Crap. This is clearly more than just a game.

I was too self-centered.

After coming to Paris as an “exchange student” and getting caught up in so much trouble, I started feeling like a proper Knight Striker. I came here to take revenge or responsibility because a classmate was injured for me, but…what’s this? Why do I feel so confused?

I’m having so much trouble facing someone who seriously came here to defeat me. I’m such an idiot. No, I always knew I was an idiot.

But it turns out I don’t understand the person in Paris I thought I understood more than anyone.

This is so silly. It’s almost laughable. I can’t believe it.

Hey, Phillip. Can you hear me? …No, I suppose not.

<He is not moving. He is simply waiting.>

But whatever. Just listen. I’m probably thinking about you like crazy right now. I’m more serious about it than I ever have been before. And I’m also thinking about something else:

—What does it mean to be Knight Striker?

Since you’re the son of a former Chevalier de Paris family, I imagine you’re very familiar with the common answer.

It means to protect people.

Then why are you here to defeat me?

Will defeating me protect me somehow?

I’m giving this all sorts of thought, you know?

Were you thinking about me a lot too? When you left letters at my room, when you attended lectures for me, when I kicked you, when we ate side by side, when said you were joining the German army and we parted ways at the university gate?

Well, were you?

<He is not moving. He is simply waiting.>

Dammit, you idiot. React to my Signing already. I guess that’s hoping for too much.

But anyway, I’m sure this is mostly me being conceited, but you’ve been thinking about me a lot, haven’t you? Otherwise, you wouldn’t have made it this far.

I can’t believe this. Yeah, I can’t believe it. I can’t at all. I really, really can’t.

I can be honest about all this inside this closed Heavy Barrel.

Of course, all of these feelings are just on my part. It’s not like you’ve checked on them with a Point and it’s not like I’ve asked anyone.

And I’m not about to do that either.

<He is not moving. He is simply waiting.>

At the very least, I’m not doing it with words.

But I just can’t believe it. I feel like you’ve completely outdone me here.

Oh, no!! I’m getting pretty lax with my side there. This really isn’t like me at all. I’m not a cat-like girl that loves indulging in others and letting others indulge in her like Mallette. And I’m not as honest as Rosetta. What am I supposed to do at times like this? Really, what?

What do I do? Just what do I do?

How long has it been like this? How long have you been, um, well, above me?

This is bad. I’m Signing some pretty bad things.

<He is not moving. He is simply waiting.>

We’re glaring at each other in a standstill and my thoughts keep slipping further and further away from anything related to the battle.

But if I don’t think, I can’t brace myself. If I don’t find an answer, I’ll be overwhelmed by anxiety. If I don’t understand him, I just have to figure out why I don’t.

So why is it?

I’ve been thinking about you, but I guess you’ve been thinking about me even more and that’s come as a shock.

To be blunt, it probably makes me happy. I need to be aware of that.

<He is not moving. He is simply waiting.>

Silence, huh? Yes, that’s right. I was so reliant on your silence. I was always only Pointing you, so I never Signed anything behind that silence.

I’m so stupid.

But I kind of get it now. I liked your silence and I just left everything with that silence. That would be when we branched apart. …It’s been a while then.

I’m such a coward.

At my first lecture at the university, I was overwhelmed by the rapid-fire French, but it was your notes that saved me.

You probably have no idea how much of a relief that was, do you?

We were in different departments, but our classes were nearby and we ended up being together a lot. At the start of the new term, I Signed all through the classroom to see if you were in the class with me. And at last year’s year-end party…

You don’t know about any of that, do you?

I still have all the letters and notes you gave me. You can call me obstinate if you want. I don’t mind…

I can’t believe this.

I just can’t. I’m hopeless.

The more I think, the more I get stuck with these thoughts.

I sound casual enough, but there’s a heavy, heavy numbness deep in my mind.

I’m at such a disadvantage in this fight. But I understand three things now.

First, I’m going to rethink myself once this is over. I doubt I can become as honest as Rosetta, but I think I can do better.

Second, I’ve reassessed my opinion of you.

And third…yes, I think we would make a good pair.

Regardless of whether you’re going to die or not, I won’t forget that you changed history. You came here because you’re a Lourd de Écrivain and that’s also the reason why you’ll die, isn’t it?

I know I’m being one-sided on the matter, but there it is.

Yes, it really is one-sided. You’re right in front of me, but here I am simply speculating about this. Buuuut it’s not like I have a choice. Pointing you only shows me silence and you don’t let anything show on the surface, so I can only Sign. At the very least, the position you hold for me is made up of everything I’ve Signed before and everything I’ve thought based on that.

Laughable, isn’t it? But can I have another one of my cowardly thoughts?

What if you haven’t been thinking about me at all? What if you just think of me as an impertinent girl and you’re only here to teach me a lesson by hurting me?

I can’t deny that possibility. And look, I just Signed it.

That could be what this is about.

Even though I really don’t want that to be the case. But this could all be based on what I hope is true and it’ll end up being nothing more than my Signing. So that thought is insurance in case that happens. If it does happen, I don’t want to be some stupid girl that had too high an opinion of herself.

Ah ha ha.

But, still, I think I’ve found my answer. So let’s fight. We can’t just sit around.

<One minute has passed since the battle began. The referee is signaling for us to hurry up and fight.>

Only a minute? You really can get a lot of thinking done while Write Bringing. But that’s fine. It was a valuable minute. I’ll make sure I have a chance to type up the contents of the memory bank later.

Yes.

So let’s fight, Phillip.

It’s time to pay you back and we’ll find out if I have insufficient funds or if I’ll get some change in return. Once this battle is over, I’m sure I’ll give more thought to how I interact with Heavy Barrels.

I doubt I’ll ever again Write Bring in order to fight while in France.

What am I fighting for?

I don’t want to fight without a clear answer to that question. Because it scares me… So I’ll use the remaining three months to do what I wanted to do concerning my grandma and the Attesor Project. Then I’ll return to my own world.

Oh.

<The crowd is cheering. I look over and see the black Barrel slowly pointing its wooden sword toward me.>

What? Are you going to say something?

<“Uhh.”>

Uh? Really? What is that supposed to be?

<“Well, you see.”>

I see what?

<“Umm.”>

Um isn’t any better. Just say it already, please.

Don’t go silent! You can’t come this far and then stop talking!!”

“If you have something to say, just say it!!”

<“Okay. If you lose this battle, let’s start officially going out!!”>

Heavy Barrel Grazie’s System Message[edit]

Due to sensory overload, the Write Bringer’s thought connection was shut down for 0.00000003 seconds.

Restarting.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

—What is this monkey saying!?

<The crowd is going wild.>

Don’t laugh about it!

And what is with you? I was just seriously thinking about our relationship and debating whether to say something like that!! And what was that!?

Start “officially” going out? What does that even mean!?

“We already are going out, you moron!!”

<“Oh, are we?”>

Oh, are we!? Who was it that suddenly grabbed me and kissed me last fall!?

<“Umm, then forget I said anything. Ha ha ha.”>

Don’t say that and then try to laugh off the embarrassment.

Gwahh.

…All my tension is gone now. What do I do? Really, what do I do?

You’d better take responsibility for this.

I’m crying here, inside the Heavy Barrel.

Why is it?

Why are Heavy Barrel sight devices designed so they can’t cry?

I wish I could bawl like a little kid right now, so this is just a waste.

Damn. Damn. Damn!! Argh, I don’t care! I don’t care anymore!!

I thought I understood you. And you thought you understood me, didn’t you? Since we don’t truly understand what the other is thinking, we have to Sign our own assumptions and occasionally check to see if we were right.

Aren’t you going to fight, Phillip? It doesn’t matter. The past doesn’t matter either. Let’s just ignore our friends, our classmates, being a Knight Striker, my grandma, and the Attesor Project. Let’s ignore it all.

Let’s fulfill our purposes in standing right here right now.

Let’s wipe the slate clean here!!

After all this, I’ll do everything I can to ensure you lose.

I’ll cut the sight device limiter and directly link the wide-range vision with my reflexes.

“Wide-Range Vision Strengthening: Sign.”

My vision just got a lot clearer. This vision lets me view both the heavens and the earth at the same time.

<The sky is azure, the dirt brown, and my opponent black.

With the limiter cut, the fingers of the black Barrel and the particles of dust in the air are burned into my eyes.

Your average person would not be able to last a minute with their nerves directly linked to the outside world.>

But I’ve found myself in situations requiring this several times before, so I can manage more than three minutes.

And this isn’t all.

Based on Phillip’s fighting style, he must think he can defeat a counterattack from this female Grazie. I need to cut even more limiters. I have the power restrictions in place, so I’m not sure I can draw out its full power even if I cut limiters like crazy.

I need to use my full power in every sense of the phrase.

I’ll open the armor panels and loosen the joints for full-power mode.

“Armor Swap-Out ‘Normal Mode → Full-Power Attack Mode’: Sign.”

Then I’ll shift the engine output to max power.

“Preparing full engine system for max output: Sign.”

And I’ll release the part of the engine system used for attack.

“Readying Full Drive: Sign.”

The engine system is roaring and I’m reminded that I’m a machine right now.

<The crowd is cheering.>

Of course they are. You don’t see full-power mode often and not many Knight Strikers can do it. Ether light is floating around my entire body above the armor dress. With the Full Drive ready, the Over Emblems across my body have entered standby.

The standard Over Emblems for the HLP018 Grazie are the angel wings on the shoulders. That means mobility. Whether that gives you the ability to land a counter attack is up to the pilot’s willpower.

<Expert de Épée has also readied its Full Drive.>

Oh, so he’s serious.

What was it you said in America when using full-power mode like this?

—Beginning Full Drive with all armaments and abilities to respond to the enemy force. Striking back.

Heavy Barrel Grazie’s System Message[edit]

To prepare for Full Drive, the Write Bringer’s thought connection was shut down for 0.0002 seconds.

Restarting.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

<The black Heavy Barrel named Expert de Épée is moving.>

Here he comes! He also charged forward on reflex.

The enemy has a wooden sword. He’s holding it in his right hand. So I circle around to the right.

<Expert de Épée lightly rotates while moving toward me.

Despite his heavy body, he remains oriented toward me and moves forward.>

That takes guts and it is admittedly the right way to fight. I have a spear, so I can’t let him get too close. Because…oh, no!? He’s charging right in.

I make a light thrust to hold him off.

<When the wooden spear thrusts forward, Expert de Épée stops its advance and swings its wooden sword.

With a dull sound, the wooden sword strikes the wooden spear and the spear is knocked from Grazie’s grasp.

Without even taking into account the power restriction, a male Heavy Barrel simply has greater arm strength than a female Heavy Barrel.>

!? I lost my weapon already.

Fall back, fall back, fall back!!

<Expert de Épée crouches low and moves forward.

It pursues me.>

He’s fast.

I can’t escape in time.

<I can’t escape in time!!>

My will accepted that with a Sign. Since the writing of my will establishes everything here, it’s all over if I accept it before Pointing.

<The swiftly-moving black giant swings the wooden sword up from below.

The sword tip launches a gust of wind.

This attack is meant to settle things.>

Am I going to get hit and that’s that? Of course not!

This isn’t enough to get my will to give up!!

I’ll dodge it.

And there’s only one way: jump over it!

To do that, I move forward.

And I leap. It’s the same thing I did to hide in that mansion’s courtyard.

It’s not the kind of action you expect of a Heavy Barrel and only a Knight Striker can pull it off.

This thing weighs about 20 tons and I’m going to make it soar.

I step forward.

I make the jump with my right foot.

I jump almost straight up. I bend the steel body and control it as if to fly back-first up into heaven.

Of course, Grazie lacks the power of Protected Empress.

<With the power restriction on top of that, this is not an absolute power.>

I’m aware of that.

So I maintain my willpower. I fly instead of jump.

My heart cries out.

What I need here are my emotions. At the moment, I only feel the pleasure of having free control of myself while Write Bringing into a Heavy Barrel. And I use the Over Emblem to make that sweet emotion a reality.

Fly!!

City v05a 289.jpg

<Over Emblem “Ange” partial activation.

The back of Grazie’s armor dress rises up and two angular wings jut out toward heaven.

Similarly, the entire body is surrounded by a bit of skin-like light in order to support those wings.

And Grazie’s face devices are covered by a true face.

A Heavy Barrel combines machine and human and the Over Emblem transforms it into something else. Into the form determined by the Lives in the Emblem.

The Lives forming Over Emblem “Ange” are almost identical to those of an angel.

So Grazie becomes an angel and flies through the sky.>

This isn’t a full activation, but it’s enough.

The body knows how to use the wings and I can leave it to that, so let’s do this.

The wings are fully formed in just an instant. Then they forcefully flap at the wind.

At the same time, I reach out my hand.

I send my right fist toward Philip’s shoulder. I reach for the left shoulder – opposite of the right arm that is raising his sword – and I use that to pull my body up.

<Grazie uses Expert de Épée’s shoulder to do a one-armed handstand in midair.>

I don’t know if you call that jumping over him or climbing over him, but it’s quite a stunt either way.

That leaves landing. Landing a mass of metal weighing more than 20 tons without breaking it requires some delicate movements.

I twist my body around to land while facing him.

OK.

My feet fall first, I work to make sure my heels land last, I bend my ankles, I bend my knees, I bend my hips, I lower my chest, and I have my body sink down.

And just as my heels make contact, I close the wings to flap at the air and leap back!!

<As I move back, Expert de Épée’s wooden sword grazes my chest in a horizontal slash.

It only takes an instant.

The wings on my back vanish and the Over Emblem is removed. My power drops somewhat.>

I can’t believe this. You turn around way too fast, Phillip. You should’ve still had your back turned, so I really am impressed.

But fine. I have a weapon now.

<A wooden spear falls from the sky. It is the one the Expert de Épée knocked away earlier.

I grab it out of the air and lightly spin it around to hold it at the ready.

I can hear the cheering crowd.

I don’t know if that is for my acrobatics or for catching the spear.

But I can hear them cheering all the same.>

The battle continues.

I make a sudden jab.

<Expert de Épée does not dodge.>

Eh?

<With a high-pitched sound, the wooden spear jabs into Expert de Épée’s chest and splits the armor.

But Expert de Épée moves forward.

It does not stop.

It holds Grazie’s spear in its left hand and charges forward.>

Idiot, why would you charge for-

<Expert de Épée raises the wooden sword in its right hand while its chest is shattered.

With the spear in its left hand, there is nothing Grazie can do.>

Oh, no! At this rate…

<Expert de Épée is starting to activate its Over Emblem.

Glowing ether surrounds the pitch-black Barrel and begins to take form.

The light is scarlet.

The color of fire.

That light covers Expert de Épée’s entire body as it charges forward.>

I need to dodge…but I can’t!?

<Just then, Expert de Épée trembles for just a moment and then blood erupts from its entire body.>

Eh?

<No.

What looks like blood is heated oil.

The black oil erupts from the gaps in Expert de Épée’s armor and from its various motors and it does not stop.>

…Don’t tell me…

<The Barrel is old and has not been used for over a decade, so there has apparently been a conflict with the modern parts used when making repairs. The constant and intense movements in Full Drive and the attempt to activate the Over Emblem in response to the Write Bringer’s will widened the scars of that conflict.

The wound instantly throws off the body’s balance of strength and it is torn apart.

The Write Bringer’s own abilities would have played a part, but the most likely reason Expert de Épée attempted a quick resolution was because he was aware of the Barrel’s limits.

But Expert de Épée is still moving.>

He’s still moving? But he can barely gather any strength now. What does he hope to accomplish?

<Expert de Épée dropped its wooden sword to the ground.

The light surrounding the pitch-black Barrel has disappeared.

While wet oil sprays out into the sunlight, the Barrel stands before Grazie and slowly…>

You idiot! I won’t let you collapse!!

I wrap Grazie’s arms around his back as if in an embrace and I support him.

…I will support him.

<Expert de Épée is limp within Grazie’s arms.>

You can probably still move, but don’t force yourself here, Phillip.

I understand now. Or I think I do, anyway.

I understand just how desperate you are to stop me. I can think about why later on. But not right now.

I support his body and slowly carry his giant form over to the mock battleground’s wall.

<A voice escapes Expert de Épée’s speaking device.

“Sorry I couldn’t win.”>

I sat him by the wall without responding. We could talk this out later.

At the moment, I apparently didn’t have time for a break.

<The eastern hangar door opens and a new Heavy Barrel steps out.

It too is pitch black.

Everyone knows its name. That is Rot Löwe, Barrel of Army Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Berge.

The Emblem on the right shoulder is the person mark of a German Infantry Division Heavy Barrel Platoon. The Emblem on the left shoulder is the roaring face of a red lion to match its name. It already holds a large shield in one hand and a long wooden sword in the other.>

So he’s already ready to do this. I’m in Full Drive and as ready for a fight as I’ll ever be. Now’s the time to do this. And I’m sure he feels the same way.

He probably came out now because he’s in top form at the moment. And he’s history’s strongest Knight Striker.

Let’s take a look at his strength. It’s not about whether I stand a chance against him or not. I’ll see what he can tell me about Knight Strikers and Heavy Barrels.

I’ve already seen a lot.

Rosetta waving at me over there is already becoming human.

Phillip showed me one form of a Knight Striker as a French Lourd de Écrivain.

So what will the Germans’ greatest Panzer Kavalier be able to show me?

And I…

Referee’s Words: Announcement to Begin the Special Match[edit]

The special match between Beretta McWild, Champion of the 167th Lourd de Marionnette Battles, and Heinz Berge, Lieutenant Colonel of the German Army, will now begin.


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