HEAVY OBJECT:Volume12 Chapter 2
Midnight arrived and the date changed.
Frolaytia Capistrano held her head in her hands as she received the report.
She had used the antenna-covered command patrol boat to leave Second Venice via the canals and arrive at the maintenance base zone on the coast of Malta.
“…So you shot him? You shot a civilian in front of a crowd.”
“He shot Myonri!” said Heivia over the radio. “And his weapon clearly wasn’t civilian. If he had used a grenade, the place would have been a sea of blood!!”
He had a point, but it meant nothing in this case.
This had all begun when a clash between the Legitimacy Kingdom and the Information Alliance had lowered the defenses of Second Venice as it was stopped alongside Malta.
Then several Legitimacy Kingdom Supernovas had arrived.
Finally, the Appetizer Asteroid had acted as a giant bonus prize. If the Baby Magnum had not destroyed the asteroid, it might have triggered a global ice age, but how had all of that looked to the people of Second Venice who were mostly from the Information Alliance? Even the midair explosion of the asteroid could have looked like a failure of an enemy nation.
And then the firefight had happened.
The Information Alliance crowd had felt the Legitimacy Kingdom had a duty to save them, but then the soldiers had fired on them.
Not shooting the man would have caused even more damage thanks to the grenade launcher and Heivia had been overwhelmingly right to act.
But not everyone would have an equal understanding of that fact.
(Damn. Everything is working against us here. At this rate, the nearly 130,000 VIPs could start rioting!!)
They were indeed a step away from that.
No one had climbed over the fence yet, but a great crowd was surrounding the maintenance base.
If someone did climb the fence, the Legitimacy Kingdom would show no mercy even if it was a civilian. If safely securing them was not possible, Frolaytia would have to approve the use of firearms.
At the same time, that would lead to the worst case scenario.
“Slaughtering 130,000 of the world’s upper class. This is going to cause a gigantic war.”
She felt like everything had been set up to lead that way, but then she shook her head.
She could only do what the situation allowed.
“Did you retrieve the semi-grenade launcher the man used?”
“Yes! It looks just like a Legitimacy Kingdom model, but it’s a copy. Someone might be trying to make it look like we set all this up!”
She could hear a metallic clattering over the radio.
Heivia may have been taking apart the gun and checking on the details.
“A few of the internal parts are made of plastic instead of metal. That’s something the Capitalist Corporations tend to do. It’s actually easier to use than ours.”
“The Capitalist Corporations? Not the Information Alliance?”
If their opponent was the Information Alliance, it was easy to imagine they would trigger a riot to get back at the Legitimacy Kingdom for taking Second Venice in a proper Object battle.
“I don’t know. It might be the Information Alliance pretending to be the Capitalist Corporations. Also, this is a spy’s paradise. The place is filled with VIPs from all four world powers, so the Capitalist Corporations might be interfering to wear down the Legitimacy Kingdom and the Information Alliance so they can find an opening to take Second Venice for themselves.”
“Understood. I’ll give it some thought.” Frolaytia slowly sighed. “And? If it’s a copy of our grenade launcher, the option would be .45 caliber. How is Myonri’s injury?”
“She was hit in the side, but her bulletproof plating worked against her. Instead of cleanly piercing her, the bullet is still inside her! So send a medical team right away!!”
She wanted to do just that.
But sending out a unit at the moment could easily unbalance the cup that was so full of water the surface tension was about to break. She could not doom the world to a fiery fate for a single soldier.
“Heivia, how many people are there with you?”
“It’s really just me and the skinny boy. Please don’t count Myonri! And what do we do about the little bikini devil? Although to be honest, she’s probably the strongest one here!!”
“Understood. The three of you, not including Myonri, need to determine where the launcher came from. We’re surrounded on all sides and can’t send anyone out. Anything we do will be interpreted negatively and will stimulate the crowd, so find a justification. Once we know some other military was involved in the attack with the grenade launcher, this is a job for the military instead of the police. That means we have an excuse to head out.”
“Wait! What about Myonri!?”
“Get to the bottom of this before the 37th’s cutest soldier kicks the bucket. Fail and it’s hara-kiri for the both of us!! Got that, Heivia!?”
“I can’t believe this…”
Heivia cursed the world on the south side of Second Venice.
Myonri was injured and unable to move, so they had carried her into a nearby building. They could not leave her exposed to the dirty rain with her deep wound and letting the civilians see a weakened soldier would cause problems. Most of the people were kind and harmless rich people who were creating makeshift grills and pizza ovens by cutting up the metal drums out front. (The drums were the kind used to hold industrial shipments of high-quality massage oil rather than petroleum.) However, it was worth being careful after what had happened.
Quenser followed Catherine’s instructions to nervously apply pressure to the wound with scraps of cloth and just barely managed to stop Myonri’s bleeding.
But the bullet was still inside her body.
If the transformed bullet had created a sharp protrusion a single fidget could damage a thick blood vessel. Not to mention that lead was toxic. Nothing good could come of having that inside her body for an extended period of time.
“Second Venice alone is twenty kilometers across. If we have to search Malta too, how wide a search area is that? And how many people? We’re not a detective from a mystery novel!!”
Myonri’s breathing was rapid and worryingly shallow and her sweaty face was pale, but she still managed to say that.
“I’m…fine… I’m a soldier too. I’m prepared for the worst. If things are really looking bad, at least get…my dog tags back…to my mom…”
“Shut up, Myonri!” roared Heivia. “If you’re only going to look at things negatively, then keep your mouth shut!!”
Quenser spoke calmly to his awful friend.
“Heivia, let’s do what we can.”
The noble boy seemed at a loss for words after that.
He had wanted to hear that, but it had not erased the problems facing them.
“But what can we do!? It might be easier to ignore that busty commander’s orders and find a boat. If we can break through and get to the maintenance base on Malta…”
“She said they’re surrounded, remember? We can’t get through the rioting crowds even if we do get to Malta and we’ll be shot if we approach without the authorization code. They’ll suspect we’re rioters who stole some uniforms. Plus, Catherine and I aren’t even in our uniforms.”
Quenser took Myonri’s weak hand and placed it on the scrap of cloth he had been pressing against her side.
“Whoever that grenade launcher bastard was, he normally would have hesitated if he was handed that powerful weapon. It wouldn’t have helped him any. He only took it because his frustrations had built up in this emergency. That means it wasn’t some pain-in-the-ass method like ordering the parts one-by-one off the internet. His ‘business partner’ handed him the completed product just a few hours ago.”
“But who was that? The Capitalist Corporations or the Information Alliance!?”
“I don’t know, but there is something that caught my attention.” Quenser licked his lips. “Second Venice was temporarily under our control. That means we were monitoring the cargo going in and out. …In that case, where did that grenade launcher come from? What route was used to smuggle it in? We controlled the official entrances like the ports and airports, so whoever they were, their routes would have been limited. There can’t have been that many. If we can narrow it down, we might be able to lie in wait for them.”
The two idiots and Catherine Blueangel used their bloody hands to call up a map of Second Venice on a handheld device.
Tall buildings were arranged along a spider web of countless canals. They added Xs to the entrances being monitored by the Legitimacy Kingdom.
“It’s hopeless. We’ve covered them all… Is there really a secret back entrance!?”
“Wait a second,” said the little black bikini devil.
She pointed at a corner of the screen using a finger bloody from the first aid.
“There’s a container yard here.”
“Y-yeah. But Catherine, this north side port is being managed by the Legitimacy Kingdom too. If the launcher was carried in there, it would have been caught by an inspection.”
“But there’s another boat right next to the container yard. A floating restaurant. I believe it cooks up the fish the guests catch themselves. That means it heads out to sea.”
Quenser immediately started moving.
“Let’s contact our busty commander and have her look into who owns it.”
“And if it’s the Capitalist Corporations…”
“They might be fishing up some divers late at night. And if they use the neighboring containers to hide what they bring aboard, they can slip things into Second Venice.”
This luxury resort was known as a spy’s paradise because VIPs from the four world powers gathered here and forgot all about war. It was not at all surprising that a few contact points like this existed.
Finally, they received a reply over the radio.
“The owner’s name is Welshy Harpoon. As you were hoping, it belongs to a Capitalist Corporations conglomerate. But it looks like the boat capsized when the asteroid exploded in midair. Hurry to the north side container yard. We just need one piece of evidence. Then we can send in a unit to carry Myonri out on a stretcher and have the medics look after her. So go all out here. It’s the only way to live a life without regret.”
They knew what they had to do.
And it was no time to be worrying about forcing young Catherine to go along with it.
But if they all set out for that container yard, it would mean something else.
They would be leaving Myonri here.
“I swear.” Heivia spoke through his clenched teeth. “I swear we’ll be back. So don’t you die before then, Myonri.”
The girl did not respond.
She only smiled weakly.
And thus the bloody boys and girl returned to the hellish battlefield.
But this time they were not simply caught in the middle. They were on a mission to save their comrade in arms.
When they left the building, it was still raining.
Black Bikini Catherine turned her palms up at waist height to wash away Myonri’s blood from providing first aid. The midair explosion of the asteroid and the collapse of the buildings had sent a lot of dust into the air. It intertwined with the water vapor in the sky to become the raindrops that poured down.
They walked behind the buildings to slip past the crowds out front. They did not want to be caught in a dispute with those frustrated taxpayers. A lot of them had created makeshift torches by sticking torn pieces of their shirts in bottles of strong alcohol, but that was obviously just one step away from a Molotov cocktail.
“What about the transformers? If they shock us, we’ll more or less explode.”
“It’s pitch black around here, so the power must be out. I bet our busty commander shut it off to prevent any secondary damage.”
They had no time.
To travel from the south side to the north side, they stole two water scooters they found in a random canal. These had no sidecars, so Heivia boarded one and Catherine the other. Quenser was of course just ballast.
“Hop on, big brother.”
“I might as well.”
“If you say you want to get on mine, I’ll drive off without you,” warned Heivia.
“I said I’m getting on the other one!”
There were no streetlights or illuminated signs, so the journey through the late night waterways was quite thrilling. They were arranged as complexly as a spider web and the curves could be sharp in places. And thanks to the asteroid’s midair explosion, ships had sunk and concrete rubble had fallen in. If they did not keep their lights on and keep an eye out for anything sticking up from the surface, they would have run into something and sunk almost immediately.
“ ‘Enjoy some marine leisure activities with a friend.’ …Hee hee hee. That’s another stamp.”
“Am I your big brother or a friend?”
“You can be whatever I need you to be!”
Quenser decided being somewhat flexible was fine. He was supposed to be her instructor, but some of these tasks were a bit much for an Elite who had just been released from a sterile facility.
Also, the water scooter meant for adults was a little large for the 12-year-old girl, but she was far better at driving it than Heivia. If she had not cheerfully moved out ahead while swerving left and right, Heivia probably would have taken the wrong course and hit a hidden obstacle.
Quenser knew just enough about marine leisure activities to know he never wanted to drive down this obstacle course of a canal.
“Wow. I guess you really are a Pilot Elite…!”
Simply wrapping his arms around her felt insufficient, so he grabbed onto her tiny hips and spoke from the back seat.
“Hm? Speaking of Elites, what happened to the Princess?”
“The round body is all bent up, but it didn’t explode,” said Catherine. “I think inside the Object is the safest place. And firing anti-air lasers into the empty sky is one thing, but we probably can’t expect much support while in the city.”
“Is that how it works…?”
“And stop thinking of some other girl when you look at me. That’s getting kind of rude. Hmph!”
He tried contacting the Princess by radio just to be sure and he got through just fine.
“You look like an orange someone stepped on, but I’m glad to see the communications infrastructure is still running.”
“Of course it is,” she replied. “Are you trying to pick a fight or motivate me?”
The Princess’s voice was flat but prickly, like she was irritated after her favorite dress had caught on a nail in the wall.
“I heard Myonri was shot.”
“Yeah. We’re busy searching for whoever was behind it.”
“Tell me if there’s anything I can do. I can’t move right now, but I can still act as a stationary gun platform. Mark your targets and I can blow them all away.”
“Wait, wait, wait. Do that while we’re searching for evidence and we’ll have nothing but ashes left. Besides, you wouldn’t be firing your lasers in the clean air of the higher altitudes. This is a straight shot from south to north. Your accuracy has got to drop with a curved shot over twenty kilometers and that just scares me.”
The nighttime canal was dangerous with all the wreckage and rubble sunk in it, so they did not pass any other boats on the way. It did not take them long to drive straight to the north side container yard.
“I’m afraid to get any closer. I feel like they’d hear us.”
“If we had a kayak we could probably approach silently.”
“In this dark canal full of rubble? We’d be noisily bumping into things all over the place.”
They stopped the water scooters a short distance away and climbed onto a nearby walkway.
“Okay. ‘Take a trip with a friend.” …That’s yet another stamp.”
The container yard was more than a hundred meters away, but it still looked like a dark mountain. That was just how many metal containers were piled up.
“There’s got to be five or six hundred in all. It would take months to open them all up and do a thorough check inside.”
“We just need to find some evidence of wrongdoing, so we can check something other than the containers.”
“The video archive for the security cameras. They need some kind of trick to sneak their secret cargo from the floating restaurant and mix it in with the containers. We don’t need something physical. Steal the data from the control room and Frolaytia can act.”
“Let’s do that. Oh, but we can’t steal the data with the power out.”
“What if we swipe the whole hard disk and have it investigated after the fact?”
“By the way, big brother.” Black Bikini Catherine tilted her head. “Are there people I can and can’t shoot this time?”
Quenser gulped a little, but…
“No, you should be fine this time.”
Surprisingly, it was Heivia who answered. He was peering at the pile of containers through his rifle’s scope.
“The entire city was tossed around by that asteroid explosion, but there are still armed guards making normal patrols. That would make nice camouflage normally, but it really stands out now. That’s the problem with having only one plan.”
“Wasn’t the Legitimacy Kingdom managing that port?”
“Officially, yeah. But we don’t have the personnel to staff all of the facilities. We send one of our people to take the top position and leave the patrols to the licensed locals. And from the looks of things, that top position is skipping out on his work somewhere.”
“In other words, those guards are only pretending to be Information Alliance port security…?”
“They’re Capitalist Corporations spies. Since they’re professional enemies, we can shoot them all. It’s time for the fireworks show.”
A girl dangled from a cliff by a single rope in the late night rain.
She was the Pilot Elite of the 37th Mobile Maintenance Battalion, aka the Princess. And the cliff she dangled from was known as the Baby Magnum. The badly damaged Object was floating in the ocean, but no scaffolding had been built around it and no maintenance soldiers were working on it. She had been told over the radio that the technicians had been sent out to build quick residences to hold the many civilians, so no one could be spared for her yet.
(I just hope that awful Rush doesn’t try anything during this lag.)
“There we go.”
The Princess had changed into a blue bikini. She had her feet on the armor panels to balance herself with the single rope, so she ended up sticking her small butt out behind her. She of course had a work belt around her waist and it held a radio, so she could return to the cockpit on a moment’s notice.
(We were supposed to get some free time after dealing with the Supernova. Frolaytia apparently wanted to keep that as a surprise for Quenser and the others, but now that’s all ruined.)
“Yes. Anything but a bikini isn’t even an option.”
With that comment, she checked on the area illuminated by the penlight stuck above her ear.
(The main cannon joint took a lot of damage too. I wonder how bad the marine floats were hit. At least the compound eyes of radars and sensors were all attached to their own cannons.)
Even if the Princess grabbed some tools in slender arms and fought the damaged components, she could not fix the Baby Magnum. But if she finished surveying the damage before the maintenance soldiers arrived, she could save them a lot of work.
And in addition to any logical reasons, she may have been doing this as a way to make up for the guilt she felt.
(I’m the only one with power, water, and food. Not that I can output the reactor’s electricity in accordance with civilians standards.)
She pulled a hammer and micro-mic from the emergency tool set wrapped around her waist as a belt and she tapped lightly for a test. She immediately grimaced. The reverberation she heard was powerful. Onion armor was made to absorb any impacts with a spring like motion using the multiple armor panels layered like mille-feuille, so it was not supposed to sound like that.
(It must have been crushed while still bent.)
Even the zones that looked fine had several spots that were not functioning. If she was hit with a main cannon there, it would all be over. The impact would barely be absorbed and the attack would pierce right on through.
With her slender body exposed to the rain, the Princess calmly thought to herself while wiggling her small butt behind her.
(The engine room’s reactor is still responding properly, so I thought I might be able to get past the damage and start moving again, but I guess that would be too dangerous.)
At any rate, modern wars were all about Objects.
The future did not look bright for a battalion that had lost theirs.
“Well, that was a disaster…”
A voice entered the darkness.
It was inside a small single-story control room in the north side container yard. It was like an office carelessly built for a construction site. In there, someone was shivering and filling their cup noodles with water boiled on a portable stove. She was a soaking wet girl of about twelve. She had flowing blonde hair and cold eyes. She was surrounded by a sharp, completed aura never found in other girls her age. Shockingly, she was a mercenary.
She muttered under her breath with her hair wet.
“Since I was taking some time off, I came here thinking I could eat a ton of tasty lobster, but I certainly didn’t expect the entire boat to suddenly capsize!! An asteroid strike? Sure, the cook I used is a mole who sells us information, but have I really done anything worth being trapped in a ship that could begin sinking at any moment for two hours!?”
A large dark-skinned man answered her with exasperation in his voice.
“Shouldn’t you count yourself lucky you survived at all?”
“You’re the bodyguard I hired with my own money, so try to show a little more customer service. …And what is this getup!? I can’t move very well in dress and a wide-brimmed hat and could you at least choose something that’s more my style!?”
“Second Venice is a luxury resort island. Please understand that it’s hard to find anything your size that’s not meant for rich little girls.”
The girl complained, but the outfit suited her fine, white skin and long, flowing blonde hair quite well. The only flaw was a heart that enjoyed the smell of gunpowder and gun oil more than tea and roses.
“Complain all you want, but I can only assume you’re completely fine when you get that excited over some cup noodles.”
“Shut up. This is a Pavlovian response I’ve imprinted on myself. Whenever I want to force myself into a good mood, I go for some Island Nation cup noodles. By this point, just pouring in the boiling water is enough to fill my heart with happiness. It’s a battlefield luxury that helps me reflect on how hard it was to make it this far. When it comes to portable foods, the Island Nation can’t be beat. It makes me so glad I was born in the Capitalist Corporations.”
“That’s the problem with you. You need to learn how to spend money instead of just making it.”
“Are you sure you should be saying that? I’ll confiscate your share of the pork and your egg. So you put them in after letting the noodles cook?”
“Let’s not go crazy here!”
“Hey! What kind of bodyguard grabs at his client!? Buy your own food!!”
But as they argued, they were cut off by several gunshots in a row.
Ducking down or getting on the floor may have been the normal reactions, but the girl and the man did not seem to care.
The large dark-skinned man glanced at his military wristwatch.
“It’s hard to believe they can pull off this level of quality in only three minutes. Island Nation technology is frightening indeed. Oh, right. If you’re just going to throw out the cover, give it to me. Each month, you can paste five of them to a postcard and send it in for a present.”
“You’re using the expensive airmail for that!? And you’re sending them to the mysterious and mystical Island Nation!?”
“Are you stupid? I also have a chance of winning the special prize: 100 meals’ worth of cup noodles. That’s 100 authentic ‘Made in Island Nation’ meals on the battlefield. Now that’s a luxury worth killing for!”
After peeling off the cover, she checked on the egg she had dropped inside, stuck in a few pieces of pre-packaged pork, stirred it all around with a fork, and spun all the noodles around on the fork.
As a Westerner, she did not audibly slurp the noodles.
Even as they rapidly worked at their meal, they could hear gunshots here and there.
It did not sound like they had time to drink the soup, so the blonde girl sadly thought about the egg yolk that had broken earlier.
After shaking off her regret, the girl in a wide-brimmed hat and fancy dress held a hand out toward the large dark-skinned man.
“Hand me that rifle.”
“Mariydi, I’m supposed to be your bodyguard.”
After arriving on the north side, Quenser, Heivia, and Catherine did not kick down the port’s front gate and go in guns blazing.
“Hey, our guns don’t have any expensive suppressors on them. Fire once and it’ll be like poking at the hornet’s nest. How do we get inside?”
“We’ll have to look for something else we can use. …Oh.”
After climbing onto land from the water scooters stopped in the canal, Quenser looked around.
“There we go. There’s a ton of stuff mixed in with the rubble. Hm, a dog whistle? Did some VIP abandon a war to take an overseas trip with his toy-like indoor dog? In that case…”
“Big brother, what are you doing? If you’re cleaning up the trash, let me do it so I can get a stamp.”
The boy continued rummaging and digging through the rubble until he found a cylindrical container about as thick as a human arm. It looked something like an Island Nation diploma case or a somewhat skinny thermos.
But it was neither of those.
“You can really tell Second Venice is full of the world’s wealthy. Their bond cases are made of tungsten steel. Look at this logo. It’s the same series as those bomb-resistant safes. We can use this.”
“Hey, what are you trying to do with that junk? Even if the Capitalist Corporations are all about money, they’re not going to be our friends just because we sell them some scrap metal.”
“That’s not what this is for.”
Quenser pulled a thick wire out from below the concrete and wrapped it around the cylindrical container as he answered.
“Heivia, what is it I’m carrying around despite all the rain?”
“Hm? Hand Axe plastic explosives, right? …Hold on. You aren’t planning to use a bomb when we’re trying to be silent, are you!?”
“That’s exactly what I’m planning to do.”
Idiot #1 gathered a few thin steel panels.
“I’ll use explosives to silently take them out. And I’ll tell you how.”
With his handmade gathering of junk, he stuffed a fingertip-sized piece of Hand Axe in the cylindrical container with an electric fuse stabbed into it. Then he closed the lid. He ran through the pouring rain while ducking down and holding the container in his hands.
“When you get down to it, explosions are nothing more than a rapid expansion of volume. With this explosive, a fist-sized mass will produce lots of flammable gas which instantly expands a hundred or thousand-fold. The power of that pushing out is what destroys things.”
“Get to the point.”
“Explosions have a direction to them. Seal one in a sturdy closed container like this and the rapidly expanding blast has nowhere to go. This thing is made to withstand explosions, so it can’t break through the side. So what happens if I carefully open a single hole with this hand drill?”
The dark container yard was large and had multiple entrances.
They focused on a small employee gate that was relatively inconspicuous. They hid behind a crushed crepe stand located about fifty meters away.
“Big brother, there are guards there.”
“Yeah, but fewer than anywhere else,” said Quenser with the cylindrical container resting on his shoulder like a bazooka. “I’ve sealed the blast inside and given it a single small hole to escape. For the finishing touch, let’s attach this dog whistle. It works on a frequency too high for human ears, but even if we can’t hear it, it still exists. If we fire out the flammable gases using the explosive, we can create a silent blast that human lungs could never hope to match. I’m worried about the sturdiness of the dog whistle, but if I surround it in steel panels like a trumpet to direct the ultrasonic waves in a single direction, what do you think will happen?”
There was no flashy effect.
There was no light or sound.
Or at least none that could be detected by Heivia and Catherine’s human senses.
But after they heard a quiet metallic click, the soldier standing guard fifty meters away collapsed face-first into a puddle. The soldier next to him had to be baffled. Was the first soldier playing around, was he sleep deprived, or was he sick? With no light, sound, or noticeable injuries, the second soldier could not immediately determine this was an enemy attack. And before he could place a hand on his fallen comrade’s shoulder, Quenser opened the metal container’s lid, tore off another piece of Hand Axe, and tossed it inside.
After another small click, the other guard was silenced too.
“Man, you can really feel it vibrating in your hands. Heivia, tell me what path to take. We need to settle this before those two miss a scheduled check in.”
“Y-yeah. That thing scares me. Are our ears going to be all right?”
“It’s not the ears. It’s shaking their skulls to give them a concussion. And as long as you stay behind me, it won’t affect you. The trumpet of steel panels is directing the ultrasonic waves forward.”
The dark container yard was large and quite a few soldiers were stationed there as guards. No amount of work would allow them to arrive at the control room without running across any of them.
“That doesn’t have a sight, so how do you aim?” asked Catherine.
“You don’t have to be very accurate. It’s like a shotgun or like hitting them with a flashlight’s beam.”
While quietly conversing, they stepped over the collapsed guards and entered the container yard.
“Does this count as ‘go on a test of courage with everyone’?”
“Catherine, nothing counts during a life-or-death battle.”
They had a map on their handheld devices, so they knew the general layout of the container yard. That told them the distance from this gate to the control room.
“Damn. It doesn’t tell us the details of how the containers are piled up. It’s like a labyrinth in here… It reminds me of the killing house back during training.”
Heivia dealt with the unexpected situation by pointing his rifle all around.
The rain poured on the piles of metal containers that caused all sounds to echo complexly around. Even so, he accurately located the footsteps of someone else. He raised one hand and Quenser silently stepped forward with the metal tube on his shoulder. Before they were noticed, he leaned out from behind the containers and aimed the silent ultrasonic skull shaker.
The usual small click followed.
But then something odd happened.
Quenser, Heivia, and Catherine felt something invisible scratching at their heads.
“(The sonic spear hit a nearby container wall and reflected back at us. But the guards are down.)”
Quenser leaned against a nearby container to at least avoid collapsing, but then his shoulder bumped into something.
He looked over and spotted a metal ladder.
He looked up and saw the ladder continued up to the top of the square metal container. But there was more than just the one. They climbed vertically to the top of the pyramid-like stacks of containers and they stretched horizontally between stacks of containers. It was all too apparent that this was a path. The soldiers’ patrol route was not just two-dimensional. It crisscrossed in three dimensions!
And then a dark figure’s face poked out from the top of the container overhead.
Quenser quickly opened the cylindrical container and tossed some Hand Axe in, but the enemy noticed something was up and raised his carbine much faster.
Two harsh gunshots burst through the curtain of pouring rain.
Quenser had ducked down on reflex, but he felt no pain or shock.
The enemy soldier up above had not been the one to fire. Heivia had fired his assault rifle and now he dragged down the guard.
Heivia cursed after his perfectly accurate shots and Catherine cheerfully complimented him.
Then everything changed.
The late night container yard was filled with explosive sounds more intense than thunder. Heivia wielded his assault rifle, Catherine had been given his large handgun, and Quenser still had his silent ultrasonic skull shaker. It was better than nothing and it added in an unknown weapon that operated under different rules, so it helped confuse the enemy. With such a bad numerical disadvantage, they would have been overwhelmed in no time without something like that.
“We’re completely outnumbered!!”
“But after all the blood Myonri lost, we can’t fall back and try again later. We have to push on through!!”
They had to use the metal containers for cover. They at least managed to avoid being exposed to crossfire from multiple angles and changed position each time they heard footsteps or gunfire.
They of course used the assault rifle and handgun, but when the containers were only stacked one or two high, Quenser would ball up some Hand Axe plastic explosive, stab in an electric fuse, toss it over the pile, and blow up the enemy soldiers hiding on the other side.
“Ugh. I’m the one doing it, but I really don’t want to peek on the other side.”
“That just means you’re normal. No one wants to check the bottom of their slipper after swatting a roach.”
They continued through the labyrinth of containers to reach the control room with the data they needed.
Or they tried to.
Something changed suddenly. And not in a good way.
Quenser looked up when he heard what sounded like a large construction arm moving.
Then his eyes widened.
A gantry crane as tall as a small clock tower had moved directly above them. Something like a crane game dangled down and its mechanical claws fit perfectly into the holes in a metal container.
It was taking away the metal container that was shielding them from the bullets.
“Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Oh, shit! We’re screwed if it lifts that up!!”
“This way, big brother!!”
Catherine’s small hand grabbed Quenser’s arm and they dove between some other containers. Left behind, Heivia glanced around and slipped into hiding in the opposite direction.
A moment later, the container was entirely lifted up and light machinegun fire swept through the air.
If they had remained there just five seconds longer, they would have been turned to mincemeat.
“Dammit. Why does the crane still have power?”
“They might have their own backup power to protect the transportation infrastructure during an emergency,” explained Catherine. “Like a gas turbine.”
But it was too soon to relax.
They giant crane could easily do more than just lift up the heavy metal container. If it could do that, it could also do the opposite.
In other words, drop it.
Quenser realized that, but he did not have time to give a warning.
The impact was so heavy it brought a cold sensation to his stomach.
“We can’t stay here. Let’s keep going, big brother.”
“O-okay…! He’s okay, right? Heivia rolled to the other side of the container right before it fell, right? That’s why we can’t see him, right!?”
“We can’t tell one way or the other now, so we have to wait until later to find an answer! C’mon!!”
The gunfire continued sporadically, so they could not stay put for long. And some of that gunfire was not directly targeting them. That suggested the enemy had yet to finish off their target. Quenser wanted to assume that meant Heivia was still fighting on the other side of that container.
That was when he heard the disconcerting whine of the arm moving.
The four thick wires and the mechanical claws lifted up another metal container. Quenser was watching it in a daze, so Catherine pulled on his hand and slipped through the slight gap between piles of containers.
Even if the metal container was dropped from above, the gap was too narrow and it could not crush them.
…Except the gantry crane ignored that.
It gathered momentum like a pendulum and slammed the metal container against the actual pyramid of similar containers. The large pile collapsed and erased their previous safe zone.
“What is this, a falling block puzzle game!?”
They ran as fast as they could and somehow managed to outrun the collapse.
“Big brother, we need to do something about that haunted crane!”
“The gantry crane’s controls are several dozen meters up. And firing a rifle at it isn’t going to stop it!!”
Quenser held an ultrasonic weapon, but it directly rattled the target’s skull with invisible waves and would be useless here. It could not reach the person sitting at the controls inside the box of reinforced glass.
But with her large handgun in hand, Black Bikini Catherine rejected that idea at a more fundamental level.
“No. There’s no one at the controls. It’s probably being remotely controlled.”
“Then there’s even less we can do…Nonlethal ultrasonic waves and a handgun can’t destroy that thing!”
He could always throw some Hand Axe directly at it, but he could not throw it as far vertically as he could horizontally. Even if he balled up the plastic explosive like a baseball, his arm was not powerful enough to reach the crane’s controls. He could also end up having his own bomb fall right down on top of him.
“Is there any way to destroy the crane other than the controls?” asked Catherine.
The gantry crane was entirely different from a mobile crane or the kind placed on the roof when constructing a building. Instead of a single arm swinging on a fixed point, a metal tower several dozen meters tall had metal wheels several times the size of a train’s that it used to move along some rails on the ground.
In other words…
“If we destroy the wheels or the rails, would the crane derail and fall over?”
Catherine Blueangel leaned out from behind the container and fired her handgun several times at the giant metal wheels.
It was said that gun could blow a fist-sized hole in an elephant, but all it did was scatter orange sparks.
“No good. This isn’t enough firepower. Big brother, will your bombs work?”
“With something that heavy, I’m not sure. Plus, they’re moving back and forth. I don’t want to get close to set up the bomb. I’d get my hand caught and crushed!”
The black bikini gun girl thought for a moment.
“Then the only way to protect you is to take out whoever’s controlling it remotely.”
He did not have time to stop her.
He heard a few light footsteps and the 12-year-old braid girl vanished. She had not made a quick horizontal movement. She had moved vertically. She had climbed to the top of the metal container in no time and he had not been able to follow the unexpected action.
But by the time he realized that, it was all over.
He could not call out to the small girl, so he remained crouched in the rainy late night container yard and spoke in a pointlessly quiet voice.
1: The enemy knew almost exactly where they were. Otherwise they would not be able to remove the metal containers that acted as a shield, drop those containers from above, or knock over entire stacks of containers. They could not afford to hit their own allies with those broad attacks, so they had to be in a position giving a view of the entire battlefield.
2: The enemy had not ben viewing the entire container yard with a satellite or UAV from the beginning. If they had, they would have immediately noticed something was amiss no matter how silently Quenser took out the guards. Most likely, they had quickly climbed to the top of the containers to gain a decent vantage point only after noticing the trouble.
3: The enemy could not let go of their mobile device. They were constantly controlling the gantry crane remotely, so that went without saying.
With the above three points in mind, Catherine Blueangel ran from container stack to container stack. She did not stop and then climb vertically like a mountain climber or cliff climber. It was like an extension of running. She would build up speed, jump, grab the edge of the container’s roof, kick off of the slight protrusions on the wall, and roll onto the higher level with her speed intact. It was a lot like an urban extreme sport.
Of course, she found several dark figures on top of the containers.
Elevated places were perfect for sniping.
With harsh gunshots, she knocked them down to the ground below and clicked her tongue.
(Those were normal snipers. My target is elsewhere.)
At that point, the gantry crane rumbled overhead.
A heavy metal container dangled from it and it swung like an Island Nation temple bell to knock down the entire stack of containers on which Catherine stood.
The 12-year-old girl jumped down one level and ran toward the metal ladder horizontally connecting this stack to another. Meanwhile, a powerful impact caused the entire stack to crumble. Each block weighed more than ten tons, so if a corner slightly grazed her, it could tear off an arm or a leg.
She more leaped than ran across the ladder and escaped to the other stack.
A few seconds later, the first stack completely collapsed.
(They resorted to the crane, so I must be headed in the right direction!)
The gantry crane began to move again.
The four wires and mechanical claws connected to a nearby container. It looked like the enemy intended to slam it directly into her, but unlike the earlier surprise attack, she had seen this attack before. Catherine did not panic or rush as she took a running start and jumped on top of the dangling container.
Then she continued forward without slowing down.
(If they’re using a mobile device, the backlight has to always be shining on their face. Telling them apart from the other soldiers is easy!!)
She fired her military handgun a few times to take out a few snipers on other stacks.
She ran across the large container for a ten meter running start and then leaped across the dark container yard.
She flew in a gentle arc.
Time seemed to slow for everyone who saw it.
Then the 12-year-old braid girl accurately landed on the top of another container stack with feline grace.
The mobile user was right in front of her.
Surprisingly, it was a girl with long blonde hair who looked the same age as Catherine. She wore an elegant dress and wide-brimmed hat, but it was obvious at a glance that she was the same. Thanks to the rain, her bodylines and even the bright color of her skin showed through the dress. She was too lithely muscular and her frame was too solid for a high-class girl visiting a luxury resort.
Catherine aimed her military handgun with one hand, but the mobile user flipped her soaked skirt around and kicked the gun to the side while showing off her legs up to the base of the thighs. The mobile user carried an assault rifle, but with the mobile device taking up one hand, she must not have been able to make proper use of the rifle and its heavy recoil. She tried to hold it like a light, but it was no use. During that brief moment of hesitation, Catherine grabbed the rifle, twisted it out of the other girl’s grasp, and threw it down off of the container.
They were both unarmed now.
Their fists and legs crossed paths a few times and they took a simultaneous step back.
Aware of a stinging pain in the back of her hand, Catherine took another look at the strange mobile user whose skirt fluttered like a matador’s cape.
“You have the scent of an Elite. But there’s something different about you. And your fighting style isn’t that of the clean wars.”
“Sorry, but I’m a freak created by the Object-less Northern Restricted Zone. And I hate proper Elites. Honestly, we use the same techniques, so why do you get paid so much more!?”
“You damn monsters…” groaned Quenser down in the world below.
He was holding his handmade ultrasonic skull shaker like a bazooka, but he could not aim with any precision. Just like shining a flashlight on someone, he aimed in his target’s general direction to knock out everyone there, so even if he aimed at the girls moving around with such great speed, he might harm Catherine too.
And the same was likely true of the Capitalist Corporations soldiers even though their sniper rifles were specifically designed to pierce a single point.
No one could interfere. They could not protect their side of the two girls fighting hand-to-hand. Every one of their movements was too acrobatic to predict, so there was no way to safely eliminate just the enemy. Catherine knew she was outnumbered, so she was likely sticking close to the Capitalist Corporations mobile user to create just such a situation.
And the idiot had to hold his head in his hands.
“Her skirt keeps fluttering up and her bikini is about to come undone!! If you’re going to take this oddly seriously, can’t you focus on that kind of threat too!?”
It was like watching two cats in heat fighting as they jumped from rooftop to rooftop.
But Quenser could not afford to just sit there and watch the catfight between 12-year-old girls.
They were outnumbered.
Quenser’s side knew that, but the Capitalist Corporations might not. They had only taken a look at the whole container yard after the trouble had begun, so it was possible they did not know that Quenser, Catherine, and Heivia were the only ones attacking. There was a good chance they would suspect those three were scouts and a large unit was waiting outside the container yard.
And Quenser’s side needed them to think that.
Now that a largescale firefight had broken out, Quenser’s side could not win if the Capitalist Corporations regained their cool.
(I guess bluffs work better during this kind of confusion.)
Before the waves of confusion could settle down, he wanted to overwrite that with an even more impactful attack. He wanted an attack large enough to surpass the limits of their hearts and drive them into a panicked flight. The best way to do that would be to take out the Capitalist Corporations’ landmark, the weapon key to their strategy, and the support for their psyches. What would that be? Setting aside how realistic it was, he knew the answer.
(The gantry crane. I guess I have to break that thing after all, dammit!!)
He had to destroy their largest weapon to drive them all back. He may have reached that specific answer due to his position as someone who went around destroying Objects to reject the clean wars.
At any rate, he made his way toward the bottom of the gantry crane that ran along the thick rails installed on the asphalt road.
As previously stated, the gantry crane was not like rooftop construction cranes or mobile cranes. Instead of fixing itself in place and rotating from there, a tower several dozen meters tall used metal wheels larger than a train’s to travel along a set of rails. Even if the rails ran front to back, the crane itself could only move side to side. Those two directions of movement meant the containers could only be moved along a cross-like path, so it was a lot like a crane game.
“It would be fastest to destroy the rail or wheels.”
He spoke the idea aloud because he was not confident he could actually do it.
If he could destroy one of the metal wheels or destroy a rail to derail the wheels, the giant gantry crane would be unable to support its own weight and collapse. But that first step was no easy task. Those thick metal wheels were designed to easily support a metal tower that weighed over a hundred tons, so attaching a bomb and detonating it would barely affect them.
The rails were the same. The gantry crane’s rails were embedded in the ground like at a railroad crossing, but stuffing a clay bomb in there and detonating it would not bend them. The explosive could break through a normal steel beam, but it took a lot of work to set up. The explosive had to be attached to the top of one end and the bottom of the other end to bend the beam in an S-shape and break it. That kind of work was hard to do when the rails were embedded in the asphalt.
(I’ve heard a train can be derailed if a crow places a small stone on the rail.)
He thought for a bit but rejected that idea too. The gantry crane’s weight was simply too great. Not only was the overall weight an issue, but the burden on each individual wheel was entirely different. Those heavy and slow-moving wheels would crush just about anything in their path. If he placed a bicycle or scooter along the rails, it would be smashed to pieces. Even if he used an explosive blast to knock a metal container on top of the rails, the crane would simply push it forward as it moved.
“What do I do?”
He could not destroy the wheels or the rails with his explosives.
He could not derail it with an obstacle.
“What do I do, dammit!?”
Quenser ran toward the giant wheels that were rumbling back and forth along the rails. Unlike a car, they could only follow that set path, so he did not have to worry about being hit unless he stepped on the rails. Even so, he felt a squeezing in his stomach as that great mass approached.
For the time being, he did not need the metal tube on his shoulder. He crouched down, placed it on the ground, and pulled some Hand Axe from his backpack. He kneaded the clay explosive again and again and desperately tried to figure out what to do with it.
After slowly breathing in and out, he stabbed an electric fuse into the bomb.
He had settled on a plan.
And at that very moment, he heard deafening gunfire from directly behind him. At the same time, orange sparks flew from the thick metal at the base of the gantry crane tower. Quenser quickly ducked down, but it did not help much.
Scorching pain surged through his shoulder and he fell to the ground.
“Sorry, I meant that as a warning, but a ricochet hit you.”
A disconcerting sweat much too thick to be mistaken for rainwater oozed out from below Quenser’s skin as he looked around from the ground.
He saw a large dark-skinned man holding what appeared to be a Capitalist Corporations assault rifle. However, he seemed somehow different from the container yard soldiers. He was not disguised as port security and he was already fully equipped for urban warfare.
“This was unfortunate for both of us. I’m betting you were trying to sabotage the crane, but no handheld explosives would be enough for that.”
“I’m from the money-obsessed Capitalist Corporations, so I prefer to take the enemy hostage than kill them. Spies are especially nice. I’ll send you back to your unit and they’ll send me a little spending money.”
“Get up. You’re on top of the rail. I doubt being slowly bisected would be much fun.”
“…No, I’m fine right where I am.”
Quenser held a radio in his hand.
And a short distance away, some clay Hand Axe explosive was stuffed into the rail’s indentation in the asphalt.
The dark-skinned man was not too bothered by that. Even if it did detonate, it could not destroy the wheels or rail. The gantry crane would remain standing, so the boy’s resistance was futile.
But the student had not set his hopes that high.
He could not destroy the rails or wheels with his explosives.
Derailing the crane with an obstacle was not realistic.
His situation looked hopeless, but he could not let the magic of his own words fool him. If he rationally compared the two options and chose only the workable aspects of both, another possibility showed itself.
In other words, he could use the explosive to lift up the crane and derail it.
The explosion sounded muffled, but that was to be expected when it had occurred just as the metal wheel interlocked with the rail while the clay explosive was between them, like a giant smashing herbs below its feet. The blast had nowhere to go, so it lifted up the giant wheel ever so slightly.
And that led to something that should not have happened.
The top of the solid and unshakable gantry crane tower shook somewhat.
When the dark-skinned man gave it a second look, he saw some slight space between the wheel and the indented rail.
“Shoot me if you like, but don’t let that detour delay you too much! When that crane falls, no one can predict how the containers will collapse!!”
When he saw the wheel rising up even further, the dark-skinned man seemed to make up his mind. He removed his rifle’s sight from Quenser and ran off somewhere as fast as he could.
The gantry crane could not regain its balance now.
It was going to collapse.
“Farewell, Babel. Welcome to the age of war.”
Quenser gently smiled on the ground and then the world was smashed to pieces around him.
“Oh.” In her blue bikini, the Princess continued inspecting her Object with tools in hand near the top of the Baby Magnum. She regained her balance after a slight tremor belatedly ran through the machine. The small butt contained in the synthetic fabric shook back and forth like she was surfing.
She was fifty meters up, but during the late-night downpour, she could not see the distant tower of dust.
However, her ample experience in war allowed her to intuitively analyze the tremor she felt. The waves running through the dark sea were not normal. They were clearly manmade and had the dangerous and weighty feel of destruction.
She had heard that Quenser and the others were the attackers and the Capitalist Corporations were the defenders, so it was obvious what something this large meant.
“Way to go, Quenser.”
The tower-like gantry crane collapsed to the side and the stacks of metal containers crumbled one after another like the remains of a sand castle. The snipers and spotters were swallowed up, the soldiers on the ground below fled in a panic, and pandemonium enveloped the entire area.
Dry gunshots hurried them along. The Legitimacy Kingdom intruders were probably firing at their backs with a rifle.
Their landmark and strategic foundation had been destroyed, that had filled them with fear, and now bullets were flying their way.
“Dammit,” cursed a blonde girl as she tore off her elegant dress’s skirt because it was in the way after absorbing so much water.
When she looked down from the top of a partially-fallen stack of containers, she saw only one enemy firing. He could be quickly suppressed if the soldiers calmly surrounded him, but Mariydi only knew that because she could see the giant labyrinth from above. The collapsing containers had created chaos and the enemy’s gunshots echoed off the metal walls again and again.
After three or four days of little sleep on a chaotic battlefield, it was fairly common for a soldier to confuse their allies for the enemy and fire on the people providing covering fire behind them. The collapse of the gantry crane had created similar chaos here.
The Pilot Elite with a black bikini and a blonde braid waved her right hand and spoke with a daring smile on her lips.
“Looks like my big brother’s friend is working hard. I win this time. And if you want to stubbornly blame your clothes, then strip naked and try again.”
“I wouldn’t act so confidently if I were you. Your swimsuit bottom’s knots are looking pretty tight.”
“And both sides too. After soaking up all that water, you’ll have to cut those with a knife to undo them. But who are you going to ask? This isn’t like the string to a boy’s swim trunks.”
“Gh…kh… B-but I still have the upper hand here. Looks like the Capitalist Corporations will have to abandon one of their bases. You should get out of here soon too.”
“A Capitalist Corporations mercenary should know to do what’s most sensible. A cruel fate awaits soldiers who are left behind on the battlefield. Especially for soldiers with an ‘abnormal background’ like us.”
“From the look of things, this wasn’t an official mission. Why did you break away from the military hierarchy for this reckless attack?”
“To find the source of the grenade launcher used by a rioter, but that isn’t the real reason. One of our comrades was shot and can’t move. This was a necessary step to get her back to the base zone as soon as possible.”
She reached into her pocket and flicked a scrap of paper over. The paper rotated like a frisbee and seemed to be some kind of contest entry card.
Catherine looked confused after catching it.
“What is this?”
“You don’t know? The cover sticker on there is for the mysterious mixed seafood and chicken flavor from the culture of dashi. It’s only sold within the Island Nation, so it wasn’t easy getting my hands on it. And of course, only someone from the Capitalist Corporations could do so.”
“I see. So it proves that the Capitalist Corporations had taken over this container yard.”
“Even if one of our retreating soldiers fires a rocket at the control room and destroys the computers, you still have some kind of material evidence. Are you satisfied now?”
They had a deal.
Mariydi stepped back and Catherine did not try to pursue her any further.
The Capitalist Corporations mercenary said one last thing in the rain.
“You were wondering why we passed a launcher on to a rioter, weren’t you?”
“Is the system in place across Second Venice really safe? Or would destroying it be the only way to achieve safety? And with that, goodbye.”
As soon as the small figure jumped down from the container, the container shook below Catherine’s feet. She too escaped that higher level to avoid being caught in the collapse.
Quenser, Catherine, and Heivia managed to regroup. The evidence they had found allowed the Legitimacy Kingdom’s 37th Mobile Maintenance Battalion to act swiftly.
As soon as the report came in, armored vehicles and military helicopters left the maintenance base zone on Malta.
“I repeat! We have received word that locals supplied with weapons by the Capitalist Corporations have mixed in with the harmless evacuees. Therefore, we will be searching everyone’s possessions to prove your innocence. Please obey the instructions of the powered suit unit. And a warning to the culprits! Your copied anti-personnel grenades will have no effect on our armored weapons!! If you do not fire, you will remain a normal citizen, but once you fire for any reason, you will be recorded as a local saboteur! This is your final chance, so please follow our instructions!!”
When Quenser and Heivia returned to the south side where badly injured Myonri waited, they ran to the roof of the building, lit colorful smoke bombs, and waved them through the rainy sky. There was no heliport there, but a transport helicopter still descended.
They did not need to return to base.
A medic and an old military doctor disembarked onto the rooftop.
“Can the injured be carried up here? The back of the helicopter can be sterilized and isolated for field surgery. It will be enough to extract the bullet and provide a blood transfusion.”
“Thank god. And I mean it. I’m going to let that busty commander step all over me later on. This way!!”
“I was hit in the shoulder by a ricocheting bullet, so could you remove that after you’re finished with Myonri?”
Their busy time was over.
They could not let the 130,000 normal citizens inside the maintenance base zone. Even if it meant delaying the construction of temporary residences, they had to build some roofs around the base to keep out the rain. Everyone was put to work on that. All of the spare materials used (along with the more than one hundred giant vehicles) to construct the maintenance base were dragged out, the usable pieces were gathered from the rubble in the city, and it was all combined as best as they could manage.
In what felt like no time at all, the sun rose high in the sky and then sank back down.
As Heivia had predicted, the Legitimacy Kingdom had begun releasing its rations to the normal citizens. Either way, a large transport ship full of supplies would be arriving soon. Being freed from the unease about the immediate future meant a lot. If they had failed in that, those 130,000 people might have transformed into a rioting mob.
It was late at night when the rain from the dust of the asteroid explosion finally cleared up.
“Hm? What is it, Catherine?”
“I’ll be honest since it’s you, but my bikini’s knots have been a serious problem all day long. They’ve absorbed so much water I can’t get them undone…”
“Catherine, do you know what pi is used to mean in military slang? There are some problems that simply can’t be solved. If they can’t be untied, they can’t be untied. Go see Frolaytia or the old lady and they’ll cut the strings for you.”
“Big brotherrrrrr!! No, don’t abandon me…sob…”
“Stop that. Don’t cry, Catherine. Oh, honestly! Then head back to the barracks and grab a towel. Wrap it around your waist and I’ll use a scissors or a knife to cut the side strings!!”
“Really? Heh heh.”
“Wait. What happened to that tearful look from just ten seconds ago? And come to think of it, you could do this on your own if you borrowed a knife in the barracks. Right, Catherine?”
Quenser sighed, tested the motion of his shoulder now that the bullet had been removed, and called out to Heivia who was walking by.
“I heard Myonri’s going to be fine. Is that true?”
“Yeah. And speaking of which, you took a bullet too, didn’t you?” His awful friend sounded exasperated. “More importantly, the transport ship is going to arrive at the port soon. Looks like we can avoid having everyone starve for the time being. We might actually get something tastier than those soap-like rations we normally get.”
“So that’s why everyone’s been so excited…”
They were on the coast of Malta where Second Venice had come to resupply. Even inside the maintenance base, they could see the transport ship’s flashing signal light out on the dark sea.
“Once this is done, this whole mess will be over. I guess the next step is setting up curtain dividers in the shelters. If we don’t separate out the male and female living spaces, the morals will collapse in no time. Then we’ll have to deal with the kids, the elderly, the pregnant, and the injured. After giving everyone else such a warm welcome, we’ll be the only ones left out, won’t we? Don’t tell me we won’t get any of the fatty steaks.”
Then a large shadow passed by.
“Is that the Information Alliance’s Rush? I guess the Oh Ho Ho is on there.”
“I wonder how she’s doing. I doubt she likes protecting the transport ship in the Princess’s place.”
And as they discussed the situation, “it” happened.
A cruelly blinding light filled the dark sea.
In an instant, the large transport ship was blown away as easily as a sugar sculpture.
The two idiots’ minds went blank.
They very nearly gave up trying to figure out what was happening before their eyes.
But that would not stop it from happening.
“Wait, what just happened…?” Heivia forced the words out of his dry throat. “Did the damn Rush really just do that? Did she sink a peaceful ship full of humanitarian aid!?”
“Oh Ho Ho, are you serious…?”
They watched as the giant dark demon calmly crossed the deadly sea. No other Object in the area could move. No matter what ship or aircraft approached, that cutting-edge Second Generation could destroy them.
And the Legitimacy Kingdom had already released their own food supplies to the normal citizens on the assumption that they could resupply.
They had no food.
If their supply line had truly been severed, Second Venice and Malta were entirely isolated in the middle of the sea.
The only ones that were safe would be the Information Alliance military who had yet to take any action. They had formed a fleet out at sea and there had been no word of them releasing their food supplies. If they were fully supplied, they could stay there for a month or two.
Was this to take back Second Venice now that the Baby Magnum was out of the picture?
Or did they have some other reason?
There was only one thing they could say.
“You’re willing to go that far, Oh Ho Ho? Do you intend to starve 130,000 unrelated civilians to rob us of our power!? Goddammit!!”
“Oh ho ho.”
A voice spoke in the cockpit of the Information Alliance’s Second Generation Rush.
“Just pipe down and watch, you enemies of mankind.”
External Document – Complaint from the Sky Blue Company's HR Department
Mariydi! Everyone knows you’re the greatest earner in the Northern Restricted Zone for Sky Blue Inc.’s aerial division. Your name is always used as a positive factor during the shareholder meetings. But please use up some of your paid leave. When someone works as hard as you, it increases the risk of people whispering that we exploit our employees. The external inspectors won’t leave us alone about it, so can you please cooperate?
Oh, I know. What about Second Venice? The Mediterranean is perfect for the summer. While it does belong to the Information Alliance, they’ll accept the wealthy from any world power as long as they bring their money with them. You’re wealthy enough yourself, Mariydi. After all, the money you earn fighting wars nonstop is just piling up in your bank account. You need to spend some of that every so often. That’s how capitalism works.
Look, here’s a pamphlet. I’ve prepared your passport and plane ticket. You have a suite on the top floor of a five star hotel. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? And if you back out, you have to pay the cancelation fee. You think that’s a threat? Don’t be silly. This is a company order. It’s time to learn you need to obey those. Oh, stop that. This does not mean we’re exploiting you.
Besides, it’s not like this is on the other side of the world. It’s only a few hours flight away from the Northern Restricted Zone you love down to the marrow of your bones. If anything happens, you can react in time, so don’t worry. You’re not some safe country newlywed wife who’s worried about going on a trip after leaving her pet with a friend.
Good, that’s what I wanted to hear. You can do this, right?
Aerial Division Captain Mariydi Whitewitch, I hereby order you to take a vacation at a world-class resort!!
…I can’t believe I had to say that.
And at a wharf late at night, Mariydi focused on her earpiece while swapping out her rifle’s magazine. She casually chatted over an unofficial line prepared for intelligence work.
“Hey! Oh, lord it’s loud wherever you are. So how’s your first vacation in a long, looooooong time, Mariydi? What is even going on? Are you watching a parade in front of your hotel?”
“Yes, I’m having the time of my life. …They really know what I like in a fireworks show.”