HEAVY OBJECT:Volume13 Track 2
Track 02: Blind Gunner
What an awful morning.
Even in an Elite-class special suit designed for all weather conditions and environments, Mariydi felt a powerful chill gradually permeating her body. Her skin a mixture of ash and milky white, she had been saved, but she could not be optimistic. These days, any old infantry would have portable microwave radars attached to their guns.
She was in a forest of evergreen conifer trees.
The beautiful blonde girl struggled near the top of a Christmas tree. Needless to say, this was because the holes in her parachute gave her a greater than expected falling speed and the parachute had further tripped her up by catching quite spectacularly on the tree branches. The synthetic fiber cables had also gotten tangled around her entire body, leaving her one step away from having hanged herself.
Times like this inspired the same feeling in any Capitalist Corporations soldier.
(Dammit… I refuse to die before I can get my worker’s comp and injury insurance payments!!)
She bent her knee, drew a military knife from a sheath wrapped around her ankle, and cut through the harness and cables. After a full 3 minutes, Mariydi was finally free of her foolish lonely SM session, but then she entered freefall from a height of 5 meters. And while she held a sharp knife in one hand.
(You can’t be serious!)
She quickly tossed the knife aside and landed on all fours like a cat. She had apparently avoided a worst case scenario where she shattered an ankle or gutted herself with the knife.
After wiping away what might have been sweat and might have been fog from her brow, she found her knife within the underbrush and sighed. She had really drawn the short end of the stick on this one. The Zig-27 was a powerful fighter with twin engines and she loved the way its vibrations passed through her entire body, but hers had been blown to smithereens and scattered across the area effectively controlled by the Information Alliance military. The other members of her squadron had been reassuring, but they would have a hard time putting together a recovery operation using a helicopter or tiltrotor with that Thor’s Hammer keeping an eye on the area. Of course, hiking back to the AB through the thick forest and across multiple mountains was out of the question. She was surrounded by enemies here. And she was wearing a special suit colored an insane lemon yellow. She would undoubtedly be spotted before crossing the mountains and then worn down by pure numbers.
“Ice Sword 2 to CT! We don’t need to refuel! We can keep flying!! More importantly, send out the pumpkin carriage!!”
“You just want us to head back? To hell with that! We sent you the coordinates!! And this all happened because the deployment intel those of you on ground duty were so confident in turned out to be wrong!!”
“Uuh, uuuuuuuuuuuhhhh! Leader!!”
When she set her small radio to receive-only mode, she found those idiots were going on strike in the middle of a war. They had disobeyed the back to base (BtB) order, refused to refuel, and were apparently circling just out of range of the Thor’s Hammer.
“CT to Ice Girl 1! It’s hopeless. We don’t know how to scold these problem children!!”
Mariydi held a small hand to her forehead, but she could not just respond. If she sent a signal out from the silent forest, a specialized communications soldier with a large radio on their back might determine her location. She did not know how things worked in the clean wars that had been thoroughly poisoned by peace, but that would be throwing her life away here in the Northern Restricted Zone.
What she had to do was simple.
(That Thor’s Hammer has its loathsome missiles deployed all over the Northern Restricted Zone, but the real problem is the high-precision radar, not the missile containers. It’s disguised as a large truck or school bus to make it mobile. It’s too expensive to buy enough to cover the entire area, so it heads to the different deployment areas when it receives a request.)
Even if a million SAMs covered every meter of the Northern Restricted Zone, only the ones connected to the high-precision radar could lock onto and target a fighter. No matter how many missiles they had, the Thor’s Hammer’s anti-air network would fail without the radar.
So if Mariydi could travel through the foggy forest, find the disguised mobile high-precision radar, and destroy it, the sky would be safe even if it could still blind them to an extent. Then the pickup helicopter could fly freely overhead and those idiots with nothing better to do could respond to her requests and slaughter the approaching ground units with their explosives and machineguns.
She did not know how many disguised radars there were across the entire Northern Restricted Zone, but it would take quite a bit of time for any radars in other areas to arrive here. She could enjoy a nice leisurely flight back to the base before the weapon system recovered.
Also, the Information Alliance and their Thor’s Hammer were not necessarily the only enemy.
The Northern Restricted Zone was the only place on earth where Objects were forbidden, so it was a special land with its own unique form of battlefield. It had become a quagmire between the four world powers – the Capitalist Corporations, Information Alliance, Legitimacy Kingdom, and Faith Organization – so there could always be hunters who had crossed the border into another world power’s effective territory.
The one ironclad rule for any fallen pilot was to assume that the entire world was their enemy.
(Even if I’m being optimistic, I probably don’t have even 6 hours. Even the biggest morons should be able to fully surround a fallen POW by then.)
Of course, the mobile high-precision radar disguised as a large truck or school bus was crucial for the Information Alliance and their Thor’s Hammer. It would be strictly guarded. Mariydi checked on her equipment while imagining the scale of the enemy here. She had her bright lemon yellow special suit, a single military knife, a single self-defense handgun, and a longish magazine holding 24 9mm rounds. She also had 2 meals’ worth of biscuits she had cooked herself, a small radio, and a handheld music player.
“What a pain…”
She placed her hands on her slender hips, swung her head to the side, and sighed. It may have been her insufficient donations and charitable giving that had led god to abandon her, but that was its own issue. Alone and with no hope of backup, the girl had already decided what she needed to do.
(I’m probably about 50 kilometers away, but I’m still fairly close to the border between the Capitalist Corporations and the Information Alliance. In that case, I should be able to find one of those.)
“…That didn’t take long.”
Mariydi crouched low and viewed something through the fog and trees.
She saw a small log cabin that perfectly matched the conifer forest. It looked like a friend to anyone who wanted a quiet and peaceful life, but…well, it probably was not a villa. A lot of things happened on the national borders of a battlefield: smuggling, black markets, human trafficking, etc. There were always some stupid soldiers who abandoned their mission for some extra income on the side, so money and weapons had a way of gathering in places like that.
Of course, there were normal cities and residents even in the Northern Restricted Zone. But to an expert’s trained eye, it was obvious. An amateur’s log cabin would not be surrounded by footprints from military boots, it would not have video cameras attached to the surrounding tree branches, and it would not have grenades attached to wire traps coated in a greasy smell to make sure wild animals did not carelessly trigger them.
(This setup looks like the Information Alliance. In that case, there’s no need to hold back.)
These soldiers had abandoned their duties to commit war crimes, so there was not actually any need for mercy even if they were fellow Capitalist Corporations soldiers, but she would feel slightly worse about it.
(They should have a ton of weapons with the serial numbers filed off for self defense, so I can borrow a few of those.)
Mariydi approached while still crouched low, but her sharp nose picked up on something odd. She silently investigated and dug up some humus covered in fallen leaves and dried grass.
Someone needed to teach these people the fundamentals.
It was standard practice in the military to never bury something if it had a scent even somewhat reminiscent of a flavor such as sweet or spicy. Wild animals would dig up even a single square of toilet paper with a floral scent.
But it was not a pile of shit buried here.
It was a parent and child wearing bright orange jackets so they would not be mistaken for an animal and shot by a hunter. The child was younger than Mariydi. Based on their equipment, she doubted they were military. They were probably civilians who had gone out to gather mountain vegetables and happened across this place.
There was no point in reburying them. The animals would just dig them back up.
But Mariydi Whitewitch clenched her teeth and forced an icily deep voice from the depths of her gut.
“…I don’t know what idiot did this, but they aren’t getting any mercy.”
She had an objective in mind, so the blonde girl quickly got to work.
The excessive number of cameras and traps suggested they were too weak to send anyone out on patrol. In that case, no one would spot her lemon yellow special suit as long as she chose her “route” carefully. She had thought falling to the bottom of a valley was unlucky, but that assessment was quickly changing.
Mariydi pressed against the log cabin’s wall and crouched down. She slipped below the windows as she made her way around. The windows seemed to be double-pane for heat insulation, but warmth was still out of place in this Scandinavian forest. The creaking of the glass and fogging of the windows gave a general idea of which rooms had a fire in the fireplace and where the people were gathered.
(It looks like the heater’s flame is being kept low, but that last room must have contained an oil heater. However, it had been left on too long, so it would be too hot in there. The people will be with the fireplace.)
It was not as simple as saying any room with heat would have people. A comfortable level of heat mattered most. Even on this never-ending battlefield, people sought comfort and naturally moved to the ideal spot. Human beings could not fight their pleasure signals no matter what they did.
“War is tragedy. Valhalla here is known as the Divided City due to this giant fence cutting across the center from north to south…”
She heard a steady and regulated woman’s voice from beyond the double-pane window, but it was likely coming from a television. She classified it separately as she continued thinking.
As the girl snuck along like that, she checked to see which rooms were heated and gathered information on the enemy. And that information went beyond location and number. How often a soldier approached the window could tell her their general skill level.
(This will be child’s play.)
With that estimation, Mariydi returned to the front entrance. The door was made of thick steel and the wall was made of thick logs. She drew her military knife from her ankle and knocked lightly on the door with her back pressed against the wall.
She heard footsteps.
“Who is it?”
And a voice.
The voice was so slack she wanted to hold her head in her hands, but for those working at an illegal business, an unexpected visitor who had not showed up on any of the sensors probably sounded more like a familiar business partner than an enemy attack. She heard something scraping on the other side of the door and a slit window opened, much like on a solitary confinement cell door. But that was not enough to see Mariydi pressing against the wall next to the door.
And she did not hesitate to stab the thick knife through the slit.
There was not even a scream.
She pulled the knife out and stuck the blade between the door and wall to destroy the lock. Thanks to the excess weight pressing out on it, the door silently opened and someone rolled out. It was a man in a camouflage uniform who had been skewered through the eyeball. Mariydi entered the hallway while making sure not to step in the pool of blood.
(One in the first room on the right and three in the last room on the left.)
She still sensed no hostility from the enemy.
She only had to continue on in order.
“…Valhalla expanded rapidly due to the influx of people after the destruction of Asgard, which was known as the City of 5 Million, but even then, they did not chop down the Sacred Forest which has remained a gorgeous piece of Scandinavian culture since before the 10th Century CE. However, their metal…”
As if drawn by the voice on the television, she first fired 2 shots into the room through the first door on the right. That took care of the man in a camouflaged uniform looking through a pinup magazine with his feet on the table. The loud gunshots triggered hostility from the last room on the left, but Mariydi kept her focus on the entirety of her surroundings. She did not detect the presence or noise of anyone being woken by the commotion. A stockpile relay base for a shady business could not call for reinforcements.
(Nothing out of the ordinary. That leaves three.)
A woman stepped out into the hallway carrying a rifle with a wood stock and got a bullet between the eyes for her trouble. A middle-aged man staggered as he frantically stopped and ducked back into the room, but Mariydi rapped lightly on the nearby wall with her empty hand.
(The inner walls are plywood and only about 2cm thick except for the hollow center for insulation purposes. A 9mm can penetrate that just fine.)
She fired 5 shots into the wall. She intentionally scattered the shots across the wall to supply death to the full surface and not just a single point.
She had received high-intensity training, she had assisted in the survivability research that would be used for the Object Pilot Elites, and she had ample experience on this quagmire of a battlefield, so even if she looked like she would break if you held her too tight, she was a tough killing machine.
She had to confirm the corpse in the other room and kill the remaining soldier.
But if her bullets could penetrate the wall, so could theirs. One of the corpses held an assault rifle. If she simply walked down the hallway to the room, she could easily be filled with lead, so she instead climbed out a random window and walked around the outer wall to the room in question. As a log cabin, the outer walls were of course made from logs. Those could actually stop a rifle bullet.
She used that sturdy cover to approach the window to the proper room.
After their allies had been killed one after another, the last one had not left the room. Whether out of fear or caution, they would be focused on the hallway. Mariydi broke the double-pane window from outside and pressed her handgun against the target’s back.
“Eeek!? Wait, wait, please waaaaiiiit!!”
She just barely stopped her finger on the trigger.
This was supposedly a stockpile relay base where the Information Alliance’s delinquent soldiers had gathered supplies and money for black market deals and the like, but this final person had spoken with the same Capitalist Corporations accent as Mariydi.
She was a girl of about 18.
She had completely fallen onto her butt, she was trembling so much it was a miracle she had not wet herself, and she was tearfully covering her head with her hands. She wore a tight skirt suit best suited for indoor work and intellectual frameless glasses. She had sexy bodylines that suggested an ample diet and long chestnut hair tied back in a large flat braid that looked like a shrimp tail.
(Hmm, which is it? Well, the Information Alliance and Capitalist Corporations probably do deals here, so it isn’t that odd to find they’ve picked up our way of talking.)
The girl had not stopped trembling.
“I-I! Um, I came here to track down and investigate the dangerous elements inside the Capitalist Corporations dealing in weapons and money across the border! I found out the weapons being made ‘untraceable’ here are being sold to terrorist organizations, so, um, I’m not an Information Alliance soldierrr!! Heh. Eh heh heh. As you can see, I was captur-…”
Mariydi did not hesitate to pull the trigger.
The mysterious girl was left speechless as the bullet pierced her left upper arm.
“Eh, eh? Byah!? Hot, hot, hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!?”
The fried shrimp writhed on the floor in intense pain, but she did not reveal an evil identity by drawing a gun and she did not even rush to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound. In fact, it looked like she was not even aware of that first aid method.
Finally, Mariydi pointed her handgun barrel straight up.
“Oh, so you’re actually innocent.”
“Ah, hah, pwah! That’s what I told you! Your trigger finger is too quick to-…urp. Ugweeeeeeeehhh!?”
Moaning in pain shook her throat which seemed to stimulate her stomach. Still lying on her back, she turned her head to the side and let it out quite spectacularly. After climbing in through the window, Mariydi grimaced, cut across the room, and lightly kicked the head of the middle-aged man she had shot through the wall earlier to confirm he was dead.
Seeing Mariydi about to head out into the hallway, the glasses fried shrimp frantically spoke up. She seemed to be done fighting the urge to spew, but only because it was all out already.
“W-wait, wait, wait!!”
“Why are you just leaving me here!? You shot me!!”
“I have no interest in your life.” Mariydi nonchalantly continued right on by. “I want the many weapons these idiots have here. What happens to you is none of my concern.”
That must have made it clear enough that the small girl really did intend to leave the bloody fried shrimp behind because the mysterious glasses girl truly began to shake. She was also from the Capitalist Corporations, and she seemed to recall how they were supposed to act at times like this.
“I-I can reward you!! …Uuh…”
Mariydi called out to her through the wall while looking around the neighboring room. She found a carbine, a spare magazine, and a grenade set. She grinned when she spotted a shoulder-fired rocket launcher and a rocket for it. None of the spare uniforms would fit a 12-year-old girl, but she could not continue wandering around the forest with her lemon yellow special suit exposed. She had no choice but to shred the spare clothes with her knife and put together a makeshift ghillie suit to wear over her head.
And there was still no response from the fried shrimp.
Puzzled, Mariydi returned to that room carrying the firearms like someone with an armful of laundry. She found the sexy suit girl beginning to convulse on the floor. Working up the energy to shout had apparently increased the blood flow and hastened her blood loss. Mariydi rubbed her index finger against her temple, sighed, and then pulled some disinfectant and bandages from a first-aid kit she found in the delinquent soldiers’ stockpile.
Not bothering to remove the suit, she sliced the sleeve with her knife. When she crudely dumped disinfectant on the gunshot wound, the fried shrimp began arching her back like a shrimp.
“Obh!? Abhah!! Ahah!?”
She had been convulsing from shock due to the pain, but the shock of this new pain had apparently helped her recover. Mariydi took the injured girl’s arm, wrapped a bandage somewhat tightly around it, and asked a cold question.
“What is the reward you mentioned?”
“H-huh? What am I-…? I feel like the hands of the clock are moving weirdly…”
“Wait, wait, wait, don’t leave! Descend upon us, spirit of Nightingaaaaaale!!”
Mariydi seemed cruel when she had been the one to shoot her, but this was just how the Capitalist Corporations was. They taught the following worldview: Q. God, how can I bring about world peace? → A. Make lots of money.
“You can give up on getting money by requesting a worker’s comp and injury insurance claim. It’ll never go through when your wound is from a Capitalist Corporations gun. They’ll suspect you shot yourself for the money.”
“No, it isn’t that.”
“Then what? Should I grab one of the Information Alliance guns and blow another hole in you?”
“Nooo, you savage!!”
After shouting, the fried shrimp’s head wobbled.
She frantically worked to hold onto her consciousness.
“Th-the four world powers are locked in constant battle here in the Northern Restricted Zone, so invisible national borders are constantly being drawn and erased like they’re living things. That means log cabins like this one can be found all over. They’ve set up their own network where they use the money earned from smuggling and black market weapons sales to purchase and hide platinum.”
The fried shrimp’s glasses fogged up as she leaned forward and breathed from her nose.
“And the total amount is estimated to be 50 billion dollars. Pant, pant. That’s enough to purchase a double digit number of those Objects. I don’t know where they have all their wealth hidden, but I suspect they have it all in platinum. It has similar traits to glass, so it can be worked into silicon artificial bones and thus I bet it can be hidden inside their bodies. Platinum has a high specific gravity and – more importantly – it’s very valuable, so if each one of them has 1kg of it inside, they only need about 200 people! Well, well!? Interested now? Ah ha ha, eh heh heh!! It’s the Capitalist Corporations dream, so let’s share it togetherrr!!”
Mariydi thought for a moment.
“Tch. She’s hopeless. I should just abandon her.”
“What? Wait, wait, wait, please waaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiit!”