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Revision as of 04:55, 11 October 2019

Status: Incomplete

1/11 parts completed

   

Chapter 1: Santa Claus in an Icy Hell >> Arctic Passage Rescue Operation

Part 1

One of the Legitimacy Kingdom’s most well-known safe countries was the South Britain District.

The wintry Thames snaked through the central city of London, transport helicopters flew across that river, and 8-wheeled armored vehicles cautiously and slowly drove along the roads.

This was an unusual level of alert for a safe country, but the couples on the sidewalks only laughed together and occasionally aimed their phone cameras at the soldiers.

“Are we seriously on a mission to shoot down Santa?”

“Our busty commander must be so overworked she’s finally lost her marbles.”

While large snowflakes fell on the old city that night, Quenser and Heivia spoke with visible breaths after stepping out of one of the 8-wheeled armored vehicles that were equipped with 120mm guns.

“Why in the world are we using maneuver combat vehicles? The roads are way too small for these.”

“They want to do some PR with them after spending so much tax money on them. It’s all about how things will look on TV. And the stuff on the top looks really cool. It’s like a tank.”

Heivia was trying to complain, but that gadget nerd was not cooperating.

“They have a propeller on the back, right? The vehicle itself is airtight, so they can use the air inside to float along in the water. You think they plan to cross the half-frozen Thames with them?”

“To put it as nicely as I can manage, what possible reason could they have to do that?”

“Wow, Heivia. You’re how old and you still think the military has a good reason for anything it does? It’s nothing more than ‘the other guys have these, so we need them too’. Humanity has been wasting everyone’s tax money for more than 2000 years based on that logic.”

They were terribly jealous of the couples in puffy sweaters and coats. When they were stuck on a night mission so cold their breaths stabbed whitely out in front of them, nothing killed their motivation quite like seeing those men and woman huddling together and sharing some steaming fries or roast chicken.

“Let’s hurry up and shoot down that Santa SOB so we can get out of here.”

“What a joke. This is really just a 2-hour escape artist special, isn’t it?”

Whether or not Santa Claus existed was irrelevant.

They only had to “create” their own Santa.

Just like a meteorological weapon gave a 100% chance of a white Christmas regardless of where the cold wave or cold front was.

Basically, they just needed some official news reports saying they had shot down Santa Claus and arrested him in the public square. With the live TV broadcasts and global internet streaming, they hoped to have as many witnesses as possible so Santa’s existence was accepted as public information.

No matter how silly it sounded, official records had a certain power.

For example, shoelaces coming untied was an ordinary phenomenon that could be explained with the laws of physics and did not require an occult explanation, but it was shocking to discover how long it actually took to prove it.

Heivia walked alongside the line of armored vehicles and trucks while armed with his usual assault rifle and a multipurpose shoulder-fired missile.

Their job was simple. First, a neatly aligned array of drones would fly by in the night sky above the city. Their lights would shine like a row of car taillights to give the appearance of reindeer and a sleigh and then the soldiers in the city would fire surface-to-air missiles at a specific point in the sky. Then they only had to capture the scorched Santa Claus waiting for them at the “crash site” set up in a park.

The bored mass media would jump at anything that would give them numbers.

And if they did not have to pay the production costs, all the better.

So if the TV cameras captured the instant of the arrest, the reporters would have gotten the exact scoop the military wanted. Muscular soldiers were not going to be combing the Scandinavian wilderness with bug-catching nets in search of Santa Claus, but this year’s Christmas would be full of smiles regardless.

Technology had come a long way.

Mysterious lights zigzagging through the night sky were easily create with drones on sale for the Christmas price of only 99.99 euros. That meant you could create UFOs or Santa’s sleigh. Unless someone had gone to the trouble of setting up a telescope on this snowy night with clouds covering the sky, no one would be able to tell what they really were at a glance.

However, there was a problem.

“Drones aren’t as convenient as they let on. They crash pretty easily due to poor maintenance or an unexpected gust of wind and I’ve been hearing more and more news stories about them losing control due to jamming signals or IR. You can blame the online stores for that one. People can bring down those unmanned toys to get as many retail items as they like and the people who ordered the items can make up for the loss with insurance, so it’s win-win. Of course people are going to start developing interference tech.”

“Isn’t that why this job was left with us in the military instead of the police or volunteers?” whispered back Quenser while participating in what looked like part of an amusement park parade. “When you’re planning a surprise party, there’s always some asshole who will try to ruin it and laugh in your face, so we’re supposed to be on the lookout for anyone like that and suppress them as we go.”

The boy held a military mobile device that was different from a commercial smartphone or tablet.

“This is E1,” said someone over the device. “The sergeant’s group up ahead has entered the Thames.”

“So those damn armored vehicles have already gotten started, huh?”

“Despite carrying more than 20kg of equipment, they shouted at the top of their lungs before jumping into the frigid water,” they continued. “Are we supposed to follow those idiots in? What are our orders?”

“Wait, it wasn’t those amphibious vehicles!? How cold is the water right now!? That’ll legit kill you!!”

“I bet they wanted to show off because there was a group of cheerleaders nearby,” said Heivia.

There were a few different ways to intentionally jam or bring down a drone, but the aforementioned assholes were not espers and could not do it with the power of their minds. EM and IR signals might be invisible to the human eye, but not so to machinery. And once that signal was located, it could be killed.

“This is Monica, the battlefield idol reporter who can both sing and kill. Word is that the Legitimacy Kingdom military is about to begin an operation to shoot down Santa Claus, so several areas here in London have been blocked off to traffic.”

The TV stations would jump at anything that would bring in money and numbers, so they were facing the cameras and giving a serious report on this farce. In the studio, the self-proclaimed “experts” were having a heated debate over whether or not Santa was real, so the live broadcast kept switching between them and the local reporter.

“They’re all a bunch of actors,” groaned Heivia in annoyance.

“Of course they are. That’s how show business works. Also, that’s my childhood friend Monica. I want to stay as far away from her as I can manage, so let’s get to our position already.”

Quenser and the others were not just marching through London. They were in the process of deploying troops to different points around the city. Simply put, it was a lot like boarding a bus that circled the city and getting off at their designated stops.

“Look, Heivia, they’re selling commemorative gold Christmas coins.”

“I feel bad for the part-timers who have to stand on the street corner selling all of them by the end of the day. In a few days, they’ll be selling New Year coins instead.”

There were a lot of people who liked that kind of thing in the Legitimacy Kingdom. Although that would mostly be royals and nobles who dreamed of having their own face or full body engraved in gold.

Quenser and Heivia left the turret-equipped armored vehicles near Piccadilly Circus, a shopping street in Soho.

Jingling bells played from the speakers equipped all around them.

“Are you sure we should be using this song without permission? Isn’t this Oh Ho Ho’s Christmas song? Won’t she be mad?”

“Why are you sticking up for the rights of an enemy nation we’re at war with year-round???” Heivia looked up into the snowy night sky with his missile hanging from a sling belt. “Oh, I see it. That’s the ‘flying sleigh’, isn’t it?”

“Apparently we aren’t shooting it down right away. It has to fly around London once first as a sort of performance.”

A few dots of light were flying through the snowy night sky in perfect lines.

In reality, it was only 8 multicopter drones arranged in a 2x4 formation, but only the two rows of lights were visible from the ground.

“Strange zigzagging lights in the sky aren’t enough to surprise anyone these days, huh?”

“Yeah, even though the existence of drones doesn’t actually reject the possibility of alien spacecraft.”

The two idiots discussed the issue while leaving the line of small shop windows on the main road to instead slip into the back alley and climb a metal ladder.

“Ugh, it’s cold even with gloves.”

“Just get going, twig boy. Staring at your ass wasn’t how I wanted to spend my Christmas.”

The building was better described as stone than concrete.

Once on the roof of that stylish multi-tenant building, they kept low and walked across the snowy roof to reach their exact assigned position.

Heivia rested the long tube on his shoulder and looked through the sight on the side.

“So are we ready to go?”

“Don’t turn it on yet. I checked the manual and it only lasts three minutes.”

Shoulder-fired missiles were a lot like fire extinguishers. They were only meant for emergencies and they were meant to be single-use. They gave you some chance of victory, but they were not going to blow up any and all tanks and fighters. The big jobs still had to be left to the experts.

“God, it’s cold. Why do we have to freeze our asses off in the snow without anything to eat? Are there any Island Nation hot springs around here? Y’know, those ones that are supposed to be good for your health because they contain Immortanoid, so if you bathe in them daily, it’ll activate your cells and extend your life by 30%.”

“Immortanoid? Isn’t that stuff radioactive?”

“It’s a longevity mineral. It’s all the rage among the nobles, so it’s gotta be safe. That stuff will keep you alive forever. It’s started a health boom and become a target of investment, so I heard a gram of it is worth 200 times a gram of pure gold. If it’s that expensive, it’s gotta work, right?”

Quenser could hardly believe what he was hearing and he started to wonder if those so-called “experts” on TV would shove miniature nuclear reactors in their gut if it would healthily extend their lifespan.

Something cut by overhead while making a ton of noise.

This was not the drones disguised as a sleigh.

It was bigger and lower.

“The military sent out some damn tiltrotors?”

“They’re the cameramen.”

“Let’s just hope a crosswind doesn’t flip them right over,” complained Heivia while lowering the launcher tube and bringing his radio to his mouth. “B4 to HQ. We have arrived at our point. We will now wait for the countdown.”

“Roger that, B4. We have confirmed some laser interference from the Ferris wheel and parliament building. It is small scale for now, but it means there are enemies out there. Be on the lookout for unforeseen accidents.”

“What kind of asshole does that?” asked Quenser. “Are they like those idiots who run out onto the field during a soccer tournament with a smoke bomb in hand?”

He had been muttering below his breath, but the radio must have picked it up. The strict class rep type of female operator actually went to the trouble of answering his question.

“According to another team that arrested one of them, they are almost certainly a citizen’s group known as Realism. They truly believe that it is service to the world and to the education of children to let everyone see the world as it is. They are disliked by pretty much everyone because they pick fights with pretty much everyone, but they seem entirely oblivious to this fact.”

“They make their ideal sound nice and all, but aren’t they the same as some flasher opening his coat on the dark street at night? Plus, it sounds like they’ve appointed themselves as the arbiter of what is ‘real’ and what is not. If they’re so closeminded they’re going to seriously argue all the world’s textbooks need to tell everyone they can’t get off without stretching out their legs and fingering their asshole, I’m not about to let them join the Santa Claus debate.”

“Honestly… B4, righteous anger is fine and all, but do not let any children hear you saying things like that. Ksshh.”

Some noise was already running through the radio signal.

It was a small thing, but Quenser’s mobile device was displaying a silent warning.

“There’s someone here too. I’ve detected a garbage EM signal transmitted on all bands. It’s a jamming signal!”

“Let’s measure it from two points. Distance and direction!”

The jamming signal was ongoing.

The flying lines of light were not going to crash to the ground immediately, but there was not much time. The flying LEDs had to maintain their sleigh shape, so it was all over if the lines fell out of order.

And the suspect had to be somewhere in Piccadilly Circus at the center of Soho’s shopping street below. It was the Christmas season, so the area was full of couples and families. Plus, the suspect might not be out in the open. They could be in a parked car or inside a store.

“Let’s do this.”

Heivia tossed the shoulder-fired missile to the snow, pulled out his own mobile device, and moved to the very edge of the multi-tenant building’s rooftop. Quenser moved as far away as he could get and they used their two mobile devices to check their reception of the jamming signal from Point A and Point B.

“70m away at 10 o’clock.”

“I’ve got 80m at 7 o’clock. Let’s see who’s standing at the intersection point…him!”

A young man was messing with his phone below a fir tree strung up with lights.

At first glance, he looked like he could be waiting for his date to show up, but he had a large, waterproof paper bag at his feet. It did not make sense to already have a large bag before going shopping with his cute girlfriend. It was not wrapped and he made no attempt to hide it, so it did not seem like a present either.

“Could that be the device? Realism spotted,” said Quenser. “What do we do now? Climb down the ladder and sneak up to him???”

When Heivia responded by attaching a suppressor to the barrel of his assault rifle, the invention nerd did a double take.

“Are you serious?”

“We don’t have time to climb back down every single time some idiot shows up and we’re waiting for the countdown up here anyway. I want to stay put if at all possible.”

Heivia stepped far enough back from the edge of the roof to not be seen from the ground, readied his assault rifle, and quietly fired a single bullet.

However, he had not targeted the young man on the ground.

The bullet hit the decorated fir tree, causing a bunch of snow to fall from its branches. That alone weighed a few dozen kilograms, so it appeared to have crushed the young man.

The warning on their mobile devices vanished.

“B4, enemy suppression complete. If you have time, send a patrol to collect him. Since the weight of the snow broke the device, he might’ve broken a rib or two.”

“HQ to B4. Please do not say things like that where it might be recorded. Do not drag me into the trouble you caused. But well done all the same.”

Luckily, the lights in the night sky did not bump into each other and fall to the ground. The drone formation maintained its proper course and flew off to a different part of the city.

Quenser breathed a white sigh.

“I guess we just have to wait here until the reindeer and sleigh finish their circle.”

“Unless it gets shot down in the City or Lambeth and never makes it back here. …Still, modern drones sure are fast. They’re moving faster than the average motorcycle, aren’t they?”

Like with airplanes, distances and speeds were hard to judge at extreme distances. The eight lights appeared to be swimming through the snowy night sky, but they had actually already left Soho.

Waiting out in the snow without even some hot coffee to drink was a dreary task. Especially when the city below was full of couples. They had no choice but to kill some time with their mobile devices while covering them up to prevent the backlights from showing.

“Monica here. I’ve made my way to Trafalgar Square which is blocked off with yellow tape and with coils of barbed wire, so it looks especially threatening. It’s so scary! The square is full of command vehicles covered with more antennas than our broadcasting vans, so we suspect those are the on-site commanders for the Santa Claus operation.”

After quite a while, Quenser was dragged back to reality by the blinking light on the top-priority window that popped up to cover the screen.

“Oh, whoops. Heivia, hey, Heivia. It’s time. Ready the missile!”

“Shut up, can’t you see I’m super busy?”

It was unclear just what kind of video site the boy had accessed with that military equipment, but when Quenser heard loud moaning leaking from the headphones, he smacked his awful friend on the back of the head to drag him back from the fantasy world on the other side of that screen.

“Naughty boys get taken to a training camp from hell by the young women of the Special Training Unit.”

“Hey, don’t even joke about that!! I’ll do it, okay!?”

The military’s Special Training Unit was a friend of mothers everywhere. That warning was a surefire way to get your kids to go to bed on time, which showed just how feared that unit was. Nothing could have been a greater contrast to Santa Claus.

“Look, the countdown is about to end. Let’s shoot down Santa and get back to the maintenance base.”

“Dammit, I have to wait so long the snow piles up on my head and I only get to meet a bearded old man for my trouble? Can our next mission be to capture a dark elf running around in the forest?”

“Oh? You’re into cosplay, Heivia?”

Heivia rested the launch tube on his shoulder as he complained.

Quenser had nothing to do at this point.

The rows of drone lights doing a tour of London had returned here.

“HQ to all personnel. The countdown is at 20. On your mark.”

“Is the magic show all set up? If we screw this up, the TV shows and internet will never let us hear the end of it.”

Heivia scoffed while powering on the launch tube.

The armored trucks had increased the number of patrols, so there had not been any more interference.

The countdown continued toward zero over the radio.

“5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Merry Christmas!!”

The kind of multipurpose missile used to destroy tanks and attack helicopters flew from the tube Heivia had aimed toward the night sky. That said, the powerful blast of white smoke erupting from the back of the tube seemed to stand out more than the missile itself.

Heivia’s missile was not the only one.

More came from other rooftops, from the armored vehicles on the ground, and from the helicopters and tiltrotors flying in the sky. A total of more than 200 missiles flew from all over London like the city was a giant hedgehog and they all focused in on a single point of the night sky.

However, they did not actually have to reach that point.

Even if these were military weapons, they were still industrial products (and highly delicate ones at that), so there was always a risk of malfunction. If they fired that many real ones in the crowded city, one could fall to the ground without detonating and become unexploded ordnance. Thus, the warheads had been swapped out with harmless low-heat fireworks.

First, bright rings of red and green light expanded out.

The low rumbling shook the ground after a short delay like with thunder.

The snowy night sky was filled with a total of 200 colorful lights.

“Is that a wrap?”

They did not need to shoot down the eight drones.

Airplanes were only visible in the night sky because of their special beacon lights.

So if the drones shut off their lights at the end of the countdown, it would look like they had vanished from the night sky. The military only had to unblock the roads at the same time so the civilian TV and internet broadcasting crews could rush into Trafalgar Square. An old man in red would have been hiding below a white sheet until then, so he only had to act like he had just been shot down. And he would look somewhat scorched thanks to the harmless smoke set off on the ground. A real escape artist would make sure they were already gone by the time the countdown began.

However…

“What the hell?” said Quenser while viewing his mobile device.

“What’s wrong?” asked Heivia. “Don’t tell me a drone or low-heat firework fell and hurt someone on this happy day.”

“No, it’s not that. It’s Santa Claus!!”

“What’s wrong with the bearded old dude?”

“That’s my point. It’s supposed to be some old guy with a white beard, right?”

“?”

“So why am I seeing a blonde woman in a red bikini spreading her legs for the cameras? What kind of crazy miscasting is this!? Did someone not get the memo that this whole operation started with a letter from a little kid!?”

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Between the Lines 1

Prev [v d e]HEAVY OBJECT Next
Volume 1 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 2 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 3 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 4 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 5 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 6 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 7 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 8 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 9 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 10 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 11 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 12 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 13 Novel Illust. - Prelude - Track 1 - Track 2 - Track 3 - Track 4 - Track 5 - Track 6 - Track 7 - Track 8 - Track 9 - Track 10 - Track 11 - Track 12 - Track 13 - Postscript - Bonus
Volume 14 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 15 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword
Volume 16 Novel Illust. - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Epilogue - Afterword - ?
Short Stories Short Story 1 - Short Story 2
Volume EX Novel Illust. - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Chapter 7 - Chapter 8
Crossover Novel Illust. - Preface - Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Epilogue - A.E. 02 - Aterword