HEAVY OBJECT:Volume13 Track 10
Track 10: Database
Mariydi and Nancy crawled back through the drain that reeked of mud and returned to Valhalla’s shopping district where the protest was still underway.
They did not have time to get trapped in the crowds that rivalled those of a train at rush hour, so they stayed off the road and continued walking along the lower maintenance pathway alongside the drainage river.
“G-give back my sister. Give back Necleka!!”
“Hm?” Mariydi frowned and looked up. “Is that kid still wandering about here? She’s in a dangerous position since a single thrown stone could turn that crowd into a rampaging mob at any time.”
“That’s probably just how pressing an issue it is. That little girl had to gather all of her courage to do this…”
“Hmm, so adults are affected by that kind of thing? I see.”
“That sounds ominous coming from you.”
Meanwhile, the frightening-looking men had never expected those girls to show back up so soon. They looked completely taken aback when Mariydi once more aimed a handgun and smiled.
“Help me out, big brother☆”
“Oh, c’mon. We were just about to use a random excuse to leave this city.”
They had apparently been preparing to skip town in the middle of the night, but Mariydi pushed through with a mentality of “I don’t care”.
They were of course in the kitchen of that cheap hotel with a bar in the Information Alliance’s mountain side of the Divided City of Valhalla. This time, the spies dressed as cooks were pulling large diamonds out of blocks of beef.
“You all seem to be doing good business.”
“If we weren’t, we wouldn’t live a double life surrounded by people from an enemy nation. And we’re talking about the Information Alliance that uses big data and AI algorithm analysis to digitally manage everything down to the people’s habits on the fancy computerized toilets. The tension here is far greater than for you soldiers who are always looking out for each other.”
Mariydi sighed and happened to look over at the Boy Racer poster on the kitchen wall.
“Come to think of it, does that mean one of you is a fan of theirs?”
“That’s part of it, but it’s also a necessity if we’re going to blend into a Northern Restricted Zone city. You didn’t know? The vocalist, Henry Bloodybull, is famous for living in Los Angeles, but he was actually born here in the Northern Restricted Zone and this is where his soul still resides.”
“Yeah. It’s only a rumor on the level of an urban legend, but, well, Bloodybull is a pretty weird name, right? But his real name is Blaze Mojito, which is a pretty common name in these parts.”
The glasses fried shrimp must not have been able to keep up with the conversation because she fell silent with a troubled look on her face.
“You’d need more than your fingers to count how many ways they were messed up, but the biggest one by far was that white powder. The fact that their popularity didn’t drop even then just goes to show that they were real stars.”
Mariydi’s vicarious bragging was followed up by a surprising comment from the middle-aged man.
“Yeah, if they hadn’t been hiding satirical criticism of this age of war in their lyrics, the government probably wouldn’t have sent those beautiful women to ensnare them. A honey trap with white powder thrown into the mix? The higher ups can be pretty cruel.”
“Speechless, are we? Don’t let the intensity of the songs distract you and give the lyrics card a good look. Swap the order of the rhyming words and you’ll find a completely different meaning. Surely you know they used the devastated capital of Asgard for the jacket of their major debut album.”
The middle-aged man might only have known that behind-the-scenes information because he carried out a variety of sabotage missions as part of the intelligence division. It was possible some of his superiors had been directly involved in the honey trap.
As a fan, Mariydi was incredibly curious about this information, but she had to get back to the topic at hand.
It was time to talk about war.
Mariydi walked over to the kitchen counter and lined up the various pieces of evidence she had gathered at the old underground government office and sealed in plastic bags.
“Get it done ASAP.”
“Okay, okay. We won’t make it in time for the explosion otherwise!” The middle-aged man snapped his fingers to gather his men’s attention and order them to get to work. “But it will still take some time. Since you’re here, want some coffee?”
“I’m not going to ingest anything you give me. Far too risky.”
That actually caused the middle-aged man to gulp with a smug look on his face. Being a target of caution and suspicion apparently helped soothe his pride. Although it was unclear if that was his pride as a man, as an adult, or as a soldier.
Meanwhile, the fried shrimp was sitting in a chair while occasionally sniffing at her own hair or arms.
“Uuh… I’m really worried because that awful smell hasn’t gone away yeeet. I think you should offer to let us use a shower or baaath.”
Ah, the middle-aged man is scowling again!? thought Mariydi in disappointment, but there was no fixing that now. It was looking difficult to get along with him.
The room filled with the awkward silence of an elevator, but the energetic fried shrimp did not care.
“Let’s borrow their bath! Uuhhh!!”
“You can get weirdly worked up about this if you want, but why are you tugging on my arm!?”
“I’m pretty sure I’ll chicken out if it’s just me. C’mooon! A frail maiden is saying she wants to look after her appearance!! Refuse and this ferocious beast will bite you! Roar!!”
The displeased-looking middle-aged man went pale, raised both hands, and pointed toward a door in the back with his chin. Rather than afraid of Mariydi, he seemed frightened of Nancy’s foolhardiness for treating that blonde girl like a toy. He probably did not want to be caught in the blast.
(I guess she can hold her own too when she has to.)
But it was no time to be sighing and thinking that.
Yes, the fried shrimp was pulling on Mariydi’s arm.
“Hey, wait. You can just take a bath on your own, can’t you!?”
“Noooo, IIIII caaaan’t. We’re in the same situation here, so you take one too. You mustn’t give up on your femininity at your age.”
“We could be heading back out into the mountains at any time. All the artificial scents in shampoos and body soaps will become a deadly-…ah, ahh, ahhhhhhhh!!!???”
Mariydi was a veteran soldier, but she had just one weakness: her body was so tiny that anyone could easily princess carry her. And with her arms and legs both in the air, she was helpless.
Once the 2 girls disappeared into the door for the napping space which had a bathroom attached, a young member of the intelligence division casually walked in carrying a bundle of printouts.
“Huh? Where did the 2 dangerous helpers go???”
“I can’t help but wonder which one of them is really in charge.”
The space beyond door supposedly included nothing more unusual than a locker room and a simple shower room, but they heard some highly bizarre screams from there.
“Stop it, you moron!! Ah, ahhhh!! Shampoo in my hair! The deadly artificial scents!! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!?”
“Ohhh? Does the widdle girl need a shampoo haaat?”
“These giant bouncing things are in the way!! And really, what are you going to do about the smell!? Leaving the city like this would be suicide!”
“Mariydi, you’ve been living your life wrooong. This is what people mean when they talk about a girl’s scent.”
“I wasn’t asking about thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!”
A great cacophony sounded from beyond the door.
The men waiting in the kitchen (who were from the intelligence division but were too overwhelmed to even consider peeping) felt their shoulders jump as the door was thrown violently open.
Mariydi Whitewitch was wearing cow-print pajamas that covered her head.
“Pant, pant!! You SOBs sure were prepared for everything, weren’t you!?”
“Ahh, c’mon. You need to dry off properlyyy.”
Nancy Jolly-Roger followed her out with only a bath towel to cover her flushed bare skin. But the towel must have been a little too small because it was a mystery whether or not it was really blocking the sensuality of that hot body.
The intelligence division’s middle-aged man once more raised both hands before pointing something out to Mariydi.
The cow-print pajamas must have been too large for her because she wore only the baggy top without the pants. The neckline showed off the bright top of her chest and the hem left a risqué amount of her thighs exposed.
“…Mariydi, I think you got this backwards. When you wear the cow-print one, it only looks like a self-deprecating joke.”
“Do you want me to show you hell with a cup of water and a rag?”
“Ignoring the one-size-fits-all pajamas, I really can’t think of any clothes that would fit you. …Well, other than the Colonel’s.”
“What, do you have a don in the back of your hideout!? Oh, honestly! Get some spinach or lettuce or some other kind of leafy vegetables and boil them in a pot.”
“Hmm? Do you want to eat some vegetable sooouuup???”
“I’m going to rewash this chemical-soaked hair!! This is worse than the stuff they put on you so military dogs can track you!!”
Military facilities of course had shower rooms and the soldiers washed their hair and bodies on a daily basis, but unlike the commercial products, the shampoos and soaps they used only had floral scents.
As her stress was about to explode, Cow Pajamas Mariydi glared over at the men.
“So are those printouts the results of your investigation? What’s the information going to cost me?”
“Th-that’s not an issue,” said the middle-aged man while still pale.
That was an extremely unusual thing to say for the Capitalist Corporations where everything had to do with money, but he apparently had no intention of attempting a negotiation with Killer Weapon Mariydi when she was in such a bad mood.
He tossed the clipped-together papers onto the stainless steel countertop.
“We have plenty of money. As you can see.” He pointed toward the large diamonds pulled out of the blocks of beef. “But there’s more to money than just earning it. The true value is in spending it. So delay the detonation until we can escape. That’s how you can repay us.”
“…You don’t have more of an attachment to this place? It’s your workplace, isn’t it?”
“You’d understand how we feel if you had felt the constant pressure in your stomach as you memorized each individual idiosyncrasy needed to infiltrate an enemy nation. What I’m saying is, this place can go to hell. As much as we’ve learned about it on the surface level, our spirits could never fit in. The thick barrier between it and us thins out little by little, but it never goes away. In fact, the better we get at this and the more we blend in, the more our feelings cool. No matter how well you season elk meat or a fried egg, my favorite will always be a cheese and tomato salad.”
Mariydi would have been suspicious if it had been free, but now that he had named his price, she obediently accepted it.
The information was as follows:
Age: 52. Male. Brigadier General in the army and manager of the army forces deployed to Scandinavia. A grim reaper in the military who can freely choose who to abandon thanks to his control of the land route supply lines.
Age: 27. Female. Commander of the Scandinavian aircraft carrier fleet who rose so high at such a young age by using her hacker unit to dig up dirt on her political rivals.
Age: 36. Male. Extremely influential investor and special advisor to the Technical Testing and Ratings Board made up of representatives from multiple large companies. A money monster with Island Nation blood who holds enough assets to personally rival a corporation.
Age: 48. Male. Representative of the Scandinavian Cultural Heritage Preservation Committee. An intentional agitator who has successfully used his influence to apply religious meaning to things.
The middle-aged intelligence officer whistled at the distinguished-looking lineup.
“They’re all big shots with a connection to the military deployed here in the Northern Restricted Zone. Thanks to that we have plenty of personal information on them and have had plenty of opportunity to gather their biometrics. Normally thinking, picking a fight with them wouldn’t be a good idea.”
“But since they’ve picked the fight with me, I’ve got to turn this around. And if I don’t settle this soon, my strength won’t last.”
The middle-aged man tapped on another part of the documents.
“The world powers are always glaring at each other, but they also make a show of announcing that they’re supporting the cooperation of the individual nations and donating toward the peace and development of Scandinavia. They do have a joint council, even if it’s only for show.”
“…A joint council, huh?”
“Even if they don’t really do anything, the bureaucrats can send in public money as long as the framework exists in the official paperwork. …They probably get a fair amount of money that way. And it comes from the taxes paid the world over. If they’re spending it all on a secret unit, they should be well equipped.”
Mariydi and Nancy had gone through a lot this far, but some of it had been the actions of a mystery group.
1. The military zombie outbreak spread using rabies molecular motors.
2. The masked soldiers protecting the reactor below Valhalla.
3. The original exchange of the detonation code disguised by the jamming.
“I’m guessing they generally pit the existing world powers against each other to wear down our power and then send their own forces into the gap that creates. Either way, it doesn’t look like we’re going to have any time to rest. It’s looking more and more like I need to end this quickly.” Mariydi held a hand to her slender chin while rubbing her bright inner thighs together below the hem of the cow pajamas. “Now, I’m getting a better picture of who the villains are, but the real question is what to do as we pursue this joint council. We can’t prepare without having a specific goal in mind.”
“That’s riiight! We can’t just continue fighting endless battles, so let’s get some pictures of their secret unit’s tyranny and use that as a threat to ensure our own safetyyy!!”
“Did you suddenly become so optimistic because you want to end the conversation and get to sleep? Besides, I’m not sure that would work. Are these villains really the kind of people who would leave that kind of uncertainty intact and live in fear of that unexploded ordnance? They would probably just have us assassinated and disguise it as an accident. With as much wealth as they have, they could probably create plenty of suicide assassins by promising to heal their sick little sister or something.”
“Then what are you going to do?”
“We’ll turn their thinking right back at them. We’ll tear out the entire lesion.” Cow Pajamas Mariydi spoke coldly. “This would never end if we spent the time to sneak into the depths of each army to take each of their kings. But we already know they’re connected in the name of having a joint council. They already have a system in place for butting heads and holding secret conversations during an emergency. …So let’s do something noticeable enough to bring them all together in the same place. Then we’ll have a chance to slaughter all of the VIPs at once.”
No one moved for a while.
The world was ruled by a silence so great it was painful.
The one who finally broke it was the middle-aged intelligence officer.
“…Are you serious?”
“Assassinating just one of them would be a historic event. Your name would go down in history as a legendary figure on the same level as the sniper who blew the brains out of a president in an older age. And you want to kill all 4? You want to take out an important member of each world power in one fell swoop??? That’s more than just a news story. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event!!”
“Yes!! And it’ll be a historically boring bit of cleanup. I’ll be showing off killing technique that’s like threading a needle, but I won’t make a single cent. I’ll be working for free. So I’ll be placing my anger as a laborer in this one. All so I can return to my normal life!”
“My overheated mind has cooled down.” The fried shrimp in a towel uttered some nonsense while suddenly straightening her back. “The real problem is that even the villains are human, so I do think you can kill them if you work at it. Sadly enough.”
“But how long will it take to defeat even one of them? And we’re talking about important people scattered across all 4 world powers. Working out their jigsaw puzzle of different schedules and finding a way to finish them all off will take a century’s worth of historical work, won’t it?” Nancy pointed her slender index finger toward the ground. “I think they’ll be able to input that detonation code and wipe Valhalla off the map before you can eliminate all 4 and end this.”
She had a point.
It would take decades to even hope to accomplish this, but the villains had already had a timer counting down toward the detonation of their bomb. It was obvious which would happen first.
But Cow Pajamas Mariydi had an immediate answer with a cruel smile on her lips.
“I have an idea about that.”
“And what might that be?” asked the middle-aged man who looked more concerned than curious.
“First of all, the Capitalist Corporations and Information Alliance militaries that truly control the ocean and mountain sides do not want to blow up the reactor. It’s a third party that holds the detonation code.” The girl raised 1 and then 2 fingers. “Next, the detonation code the villains will use is only an electronic signal that is inputted by hand. …To make this incredibly simple, even if they have a secret method of detonating it from outside the city, they can’t detonate it if we cut all the lines connecting to the Divided City of Valhalla. Because then they can’t use the direct hotlines prepared for the ocean and mountain leaders.”
“…You mean we can prevent the explosion by shutting down all communications?”
“That isn’t enough.” Cow Pajamas Mariydi winked. “The people of Valhalla aren’t stupid, so they’ll have things back up and running in 2 or 3 days. This method can’t ensure peace long term. And shutting down communications won’t cause the 4 villains to panic either. They can support the seemingly benevolent recovery work and input the detonation code once a line is back up.”
“Then what do we do?”
“Something much flashier,” whispered the little demon. Her response was sweet and dangerous. “We blow up Valhalla and wipe that city of a million off the map before they can. If they see an entirely unexpected mushroom cloud after doing so much plotting in the dark, even those gown-wearing villains sipping brandy and petting a Siamese cat are sure to freak out.”
It sounded like a joke.
When those words were first released into the world, no one could believe what they were hearing.
But a mere hour later, more electromagnetic signals rushed back and forth across the Northern Restricted Zone than ever before.
And among those were these voices:
“Who was it? Who inserted the key!? There is an etiquette to making information attacks. If you don’t contact me in advance, I can’t make my preparations for manipulating public opinion!”
“Wait, don’t say anymore on the signal. This might be an unofficial line, but we never know who could be recording this!”
“Besides, we had it set up so you need to physically enter 4 passwords and we each set one of them. It shouldn’t have been possible input the detonation code without agreement from all 4 of us.”
“…Doesn’t this mean someone got ahead of us?”
“We shouldn’t say anymore here. Let’s meet in person.”
“Safety measures are great, but this is spreading beyond our plans with every passing second. We can’t spend time on preparations.”
“And we can’t use our ‘usual spot’ since Valhalla was blown away.”
“That’s right. …Then we’ll just have to use the next point.”
“Where is the next point?”
Simply put, the Divided City of Valhalla and the million people living in its two sides were erased from the “world” at that time.