HEAVY OBJECT:Volume3 Epilogue
With most of its vehicles gone, the 37th Mobile Maintenance Battalion was forced to temporarily stay at a military airport in the Alaska district. They were currently having the parts they could use brought in from the Legitimacy Kingdom maintenance bases for the Snow Quake and Active Sledge.
The balance of power in the Alaska district had grown unstable once more.
The Legitimacy Kingdom had controlled it up to that point, but they had now lost every single one of their Objects there. It was the perfect chance for another world power to strike back.
However, there was no reason to be pessimistic.
A few of the Objects waiting in the Atlantic Ocean had switched over to acting as a defensive line for the Alaska district. With the Indigo Plasma, the dummy models, and the rest of the 24th’s military power gone, there was no longer any reason to keep those other Objects away.
Having decided all danger was gone, Quenser sat in the military airport’s mess hall with his upper body limply lying atop the table.
“Eh? So the TV show filming here was CS☆Military Channel!?”
“What? Are you a fan of the idol?”
“No, I’m not a fan. Oh, man. This is bad. This is really, really bad. There’s no way she doesn’t hold a grudge against me. She was as haughty as ever even after her family fell to ruin.”
He was unaware that Quenser had known a former noble girl when he was young. Naturally, he also knew nothing about how that former noble girl’s family had hid in his storehouse.
“Ugh, how horrible,” said Froleytia as she rubbed at her own shoulder. “The higher ups are still arguing over who gets to take credit for this. The Snow Quake and Active Sledge insist they contributed to the victory, so they want to be treated favorably. Well, they need to have their Objects reconstructed, so I understand that they need any help they can get. I just wish they wouldn’t get me involved. There is a ton of paperwork for this kind of thing.”
“I’m amazed you didn’t snap and punch one of the higher ups.”
“Quenser, what kind of person do you think I am? I am Froleytia Capistrano, a kindhearted, peace-loving, persistently-just, pure, and lovely female commander. Do you really think I could do anything as immodest as that?”
“…If you were really the kind of person you claim to be, you wouldn’t have captured us and then lectured us for over 3 hours while we were still exhausted from battling the Indigo Plasma.”
“Heivia, if you do not like lectures, perhaps you would rather be thrown into the detention barracks without a word. Arctic prisons are said to be worse than Abashiri.”
Froleytia then placed a few pieces of paper on the table.
“What are those? Do we have to write a ton of reports, too?”
“No, this is from that military CS broadcast crew. They want us to fill out a survey to give them material to talk about back in the studio. Well, after getting such exciting footage, I’m sure the members of the staff are shedding tears of joy.”
“There’s no way they’ll be allowed to air footage of a conflict between Legitimacy Kingdom battalions.”
As Quenser and the others looked down at the survey, the princess walked up. She had clearly been worn down physically by the consecutive battles.
She circled around behind Quenser and read the survey over his shoulder.
“What is this?”
“A survey for that TV show.”
Quenser, Heivia, the princess, and Froleytia read through the questions prepared by the TV station.
Question 4: In recent years, the age of soldiers in the military has grown remarkably younger. Do you see anything wrong with having minors head to the front lines?
The four muttered the same thing in unison.
They seemed truly puzzled and did not realize the darkness they carried.
“…No, not at all.”
“Oh, right,” said Froleytia as she lit her long, narrow Japanese kiseru after they had finished with the surveys. “Quenser, I hear you hired a small Capitalist Corporations PMC on Victoria Island.”
“What!?” Sensing a new lecture on the horizon, Quenser’s shoulders jumped. “Wh-what are you talking about…?”
“Supposedly, you paid them with jewels you stole from the diamond mine on the Kamchatka Peninsula.”
She knew it all.
Quenser paled as he was sure he would be stuck in the seiza position with a boot digging into him until morning. Various circumstances were likely going to make him lose any reward he might have gotten for destroying the Objects. At the very best, he would break even. However, hiring Wydine’s small Capitalist Corporations PMC had been his only option at the time. If he had not, the immigrant residential city would have been turned into a sea of flames. Quenser was not about to overestimate his own abilities.
“The lecture can wait until later, but I would like to check on something first. Quenser, what was the name of this small PMC?”
“B-Battlefield Cleanup Service…I think.”
“Hmm. So what I heard over the radio was accurate.”
Quenser finally realized Froleytia had learned about it from the radio transmissions. However, Froleytia did not seem particularly mad. Her expression was one of doubt, not anger.
“Are you sure the name of the small PMC you hired was Battlefield Cleanup Service? Are you sure that was its official name and not just a nickname?”
“Well, I don’t really know any of the specifics. But they used it kind of like a name.”
“Listen closely.” Froleytia’s expression suddenly grew serious as she puffed out some smoke. “When compiling the documents I need for the post-mission debriefing, I contacted the Capitalist Corporations military. They base all their actions in wealth and economics. Their military is entirely made up of PMCs. Everything from Object maintenance to bodyguards are registered with mercenary companies. But they have no record of a small PMC with a pleasant name like Battlefield Cleanup Service.”
“My contact with the Capitalist Corporations military may have been feigning ignorance, or the Battlefield Cleanup Service may simply be unlicensed. However, we do know that the Capitalist Corporations military does not officially have a mercenary company by that name. I plan to hand this over to the intelligence department, but then our unit will likely never learn of the answer.”
Froleytia gave a bitter smile of resignation when she saw the look on Quenser’s face.
She ended the conversation with one last comment.
“It seems you have met some troublesome people without even realizing it, Quenser.”
A 10-wheeled armored vehicle returned to its maintenance base zone. The back hatch opened and five female mercenaries climbed out. At the front was Wydine, a girl with blonde hair and brown skin.
“Hello, we’re back.”
A female officer came out to meet them. That would not normally be necessary, but she must have had nothing better to do. She may have just wanted the exercise. Her exercising had gone from being a hobby to being a daily quota.
The female officer gestured toward the armored vehicle. Realizing what she meant, Wydine headed over to the side of the vehicle.
“Whoops. Charm, Lemish. Peel off this label for the Battlefield Cleanup Service.”
“Yeah, it is a fake name.”
“Sorry, but some of it isn’t coming off. How about we leave it as a code name? At the very least, we need to get the other label off. Don’t forget to peel off the Capitalist Corporations label.”
“We made a lot of money this time.”
“Yes, I never thought we would end up with diamonds. These intelligence operations would be a lot more fun if they always turned out like this.”
“That’s more normal in the Capitalist Corporations. How about you head there?”
“Don’t joke. I’m just saying it makes for a nice bonus. I never said I wanted to live a life of being manipulated by money.”
They continued speaking as they worked to remove the labels from the armored vehicle. Before long, it no longer looked like a vehicle from the Capitalist Corporations.
The female officer then said, “What about the dummy Objects that used a strategic AI?”
“They were blown to pieces,” replied the girl who used the fake name Wydine. “I was worried some of the data or integrated circuits would remain, but that low-stability plasma explosion was enough to ensure nothing can be recovered. That was individual research of Prizewell City Slicker rather than something officially developed by the Legitimacy Kingdom military, so destroying those should prevent it from spreading to the rest of the Legitimacy Kingdom. …Speaking of which, what happened to the 24th’s development department?”
“A different unit found them and destroyed them. All research data related to the strategic AI was lost.”
“They certainly are petty,” said Wydine with a grin. “Just because his position in the Legitimacy Kingdom was in danger is no reason to send a spy to one of our Information Alliance military projects and steal information on strategic AIs.”
“They may have had the link between the main Object and the dummy models, but their failure lay in being unable to mass produce the Elites they needed.”
“The strategic AIs represented by Juliet are the specialty of the Information Alliance, so we refuse to allow another world power to develop their own.” Wydine pulled out the rubber box filled with diamonds, checked on the contents, and shrugged. “How horrible.”
“Just as they cast their shadow in the Legitimacy Kingdom, we cast our shadow in the Information Alliance.” The female officer did not seem to mind. “A utopia is not created so easily.”
“Oh, that did not sound like something you would hear from a commander entrusted with troops to protect such an ideal, Lieutenant Colonel Lendy Farolito.”
The female commander smiled at hearing her name.
Wydine looked around and asked, “Where is our idol Elite? Has that misunderstanding been resolved yet?”
“…Yes, somehow or other. That Legitimacy Kingdom student must like his irony to use information to damage people like us who specialize in information. I have gained a slight interest in him.”
The clank of a footstep was then heard.
It came from somewhere quite a ways up above them.
They turned to look and saw the Second Generation Gatling 033. It had been lost in Alaska, but a project under construction had been taken over to replace it. The armaments had been rearranged to make an essentially identical machine. The soldier who was to become its Elite and its maintenance unit would hold a grudge, but they could not overturn an official decision from the higher ups. It was likely the Strategic AI Juliet that led to the higher ups siding with them.
Maintenance scaffolding was set up around the Gatling 033 and a girl of about 10 stood on it.
Thorns could be seen in her gaze as she spoke to Wydine and the others via radio.
“See? He is quite the fascinating gentleman, isn’t he? Oh ho ho.”
“Yes. He is both generous and clever. I think I might have fallen for my customer♪”