HEAVY OBJECT:Volume4 Chapter 3
Chapter 3: The Treasure of the Sea Dyed Deep Red >> Defensive Battle in the Solomon District
His name was Cardinal Roybelz Oldnick of the Faith Organization.
"So he was the idiot that made those problematic statements," muttered Froleytia as she looked at the photo displayed on her laptop while distracted by her hangover headache.
While she was alone in the officer room, she was not speaking to herself. A voice chat application was running on the laptop.
Instead of someone from the military, she was speaking with the aide of a politician who dealt with diplomatic issues back in the home country. Basically, the situation had grown complicated enough that a politician like that had to get involved.
An elderly voice spoke over the voice chat, "The Faith Organization began by advocating any and all religions. The religious power that lost the most in that deal was the Christian church. After all, when religions of an older era are revived, the amount of land and number of people they have effective control over will become further divided. It was only natural that some spoke up in fears of their power weakening."
In reality, they were not having their power taken away from them. Instead, the balance of power was being restored to how it had once been. However, after 2000 years had passed, they no longer saw it that way.
Froleytia put her long, narrow kiseru in her mouth and said, "So this cardinal who feared losing his power took control of the military and went nuts. He caused a civil war with a Greek power and ended up being utterly defeated in a counterattack."
"It sounds simple enough when you put it like that, but over 5000 people died in the process. The conflict did not fall within the boundaries of a clean war. A lot of civilians from safe countries charged into the battlefield based on some inappropriate remarks he made."
"Yes, and Oldnick says he merely said the words and he cannot be held responsible for how people interpreted them. What a joke."
The words of those with power would spread and therefore those people had to be more responsible about the things they said.
It was clear what would happen if some idiot who did not understand that repeatedly made careless statements during a time of war.
Oldnick was a truly dangerous speaker. He had made repeated inappropriate off-the-cuff statements which had led the military and civilians to take action. Many had died from this, but Oldnick only made worse and worse statements when he tried to explain away his previous statements and escape any blame. It all continued to escalate like a snowball rolling down a hill.
For someone with no power, the statements would have been nothing worse than an old man finding fault with a baseball player while watching a game on TV, but things changed when it was someone with the power to move an entire nation.
"The Christian power within the Faith Organization insists the entire incident was Cardinal Roybelz Oldnick's individual actions, but they are primarily saying this to avoid further investigation from the central power of the Faith Organization. Oldnick has already been excommunicated from the Christian church, and they agreed to send Valkyrie after him as the central power suggested."
"And now this old man has started shouting even more nonsense now that he is in real danger."
"At the very least, he wants to avoid being assassinated by Valkyrie. That is how he has been acting ever since the Loyauté district."
"Does anyone really believe this nonsense about the Legitimacy Kingdom being an ally of the Christian power within the Faith Organization because the ceremonies for royalty and knights have Christian elements to them?"
"If any idiot truly believes that, they need to be taken to the hospital immediately. However, there are plenty of people who will claim it is true to take advantage of the situation. These people think this skirmish is an excellent opportunity to attack some Objects."
Even in a clean war, a battle between Objects was still expensive.
Part of war was striking a balance between income and expenditures. If that could not be done, the idea of the clean war would come crumbling down.
The elderly voice said, "We do not wish for people to head to war based on the nonsense coming from this cardinal. Even if a conflict with the Faith Organization cannot be avoided outright, we would like for it to be based on something with more value to us."
"We need you to quickly silence this problematic statement emitter. You have three days. How you eliminate him does not matter so long as his identity can be confirmed via DNA."
"So even our Christmas break went exactly as the higher ups had planned."
Quenser and Heivia were speaking within the Baby Magnum's maintenance area.
The princess was listening in with as little expression on her face as ever.
"This Cardinal Oldnick had contacted Hyena from the Loyauté district. Some data we found in their headquarters after blowing them away made that clear enough."
"But why? I would think a cardinal would insist on keeping things clean. Would he really contact a group that is using the restoration of Oceania as a chance to rob people?"
"We still don't know what he's after. He's causing quite an uproar, but we still can't figure out what he hopes to achieve in the end. It's possible he's just fleeing to save his own skin," pointed out Heivia offhandedly. "It's possible he wanted to use them against the Faith Organization's Valkyrie. Those grim reapers are quite something, but they're still flesh-and-blood soldiers. There is a chance he was planning to use Hyena to deal with Valkyrie."
However, Quenser and the rest of the Legitimacy Kingdom had eliminated Hyena before they and Valkyrie could cross paths.
Since Oldnick himself had not been turned to ash, he must have detected some kind of harbinger of the bombardment and fled.
"We know Valkyrie was lurking around the Loyauté district, but I guess he must have escaped them."
"He must have. After escaping the island, Oldnick likely tried to escape to Oceania where he could slip in amongst the confusion of restoration. With the coalition force confusing everything, a single organization has a harder time moving around than elsewhere. He probably hoped to escape to somewhere else of his choosing after losing Valkyrie in Oceania," said Quenser as he leaned up against a large piece of machinery. "But before he could, our unit came to rest at the north end of Oceania...and that was exactly where Oldnick was expected to land. That meant he couldn't land without being blown out of the water, much less disappear into the confusion. Since we had already crushed all of Hyena after he contacted them, Oldnick would have been cautious about approaching us. Just as the higher ups hoped, he had no choice but to head north by sea."
Roybelz Oldnick was currently using a civilian charter boat to head to the Solomon district which was north of both Oceania and Loyauté.
"The reason he isn't using an airplane is likely that he is afraid of being targeted with anti-air lasers, but that changes little. Objects can travel at over 500 kph on the sea. Even if the charter boat is a high-speed hydrofoil, he can't escape."
The princess then cut in.
"By the way, Quenser."
The princess pointed at one wall of the maintenance area and asked her question while still expressionless.
"Why is Heivia writing curses on the wall while speaking with you?"
"I honestly couldn't tell you..."
"Like hell you don't know!!" shouted Heivia while he glared at and grabbed Quenser. "I heard what happened!! I know what you were doing while I was struggling to save Oceania and our unit! You were keeping all the best parts to yourself!! Why do I keep hearing about a huge-breasted miniskirt bikini Santa!?"
"...That was a type of hell in its own way."
"You and your damn 'let them eat cake' attitude!! You monster!! Are you asking for a fight!?"
Heivia then realized that all the yelling in the world would not get rid of the empty feeling within him, so his mood dropped to a point three times lower than before.
The princess also seemed slightly miffed, but those two idiots were completely oblivious to that fact.
"I honestly think I was the hero this time. I was shining in the spotlight. That cruise missile targeting the maintenance soldiers was similar to our idea of destroying the computer in the Loyauté district to make the Object unusable. The Deep Optical's unit from the Capitalist Corporations had to be behind it somehow, so I felt like I was opening the first page of some grand epic of a story!! But now that I think back on it, something wasn't right about the whole thing! Why wasn't there a single beautiful girl in that story!! All I got was some middle-aged guy named Royce! What the hell kind of miscasting is that!?"
Suddenly, an electronic tone came from one of their radios.
However, it did not come from Quenser or Heivia's.
It came from the smaller, more expensive one used to inform the princess it was time to scramble the Object.
"The situation has changed. Our plan was to intercept that troublesome old man as he headed north through the ocean in the Solomon district, but a Capitalist Corporations Object has appeared cutting off our route."
Quenser and Heivia exchanged a glance.
"It is the Deep Optical, a Second Generation Object from the Client Security company. I had a feeling we would be engaging it in the near future, but this timing is odd. It is possible Roybelz Oldnick has some connection with them."
"What exactly is the change to the plan?" asked the princess.
"We had planned to simply have you pursue Oldnick, but we will now have you face the Deep Optical. A separate group will head after Oldnick, but I will explain it all in more detail at the pre-mission briefing."
Quenser had a question, so he simply asked it.
"Froleytia, do you think the Deep Optical is standing in our way for more than a personal grudge against us?"
He then heard an odd clattering noise come from over the radio.
It sounded like Froleytia had tried to draw back from the radio but had failed as she was sitting down. As a result, she had fallen back in her seat.
"...Qu-Quenser...You were there?"
"Um, Froleytia? Is there a prob-..."
"No!! Don't say anything!!"
For some reason Froleytia shouted back at him before he could finish speaking.
"Forget everything that happened yesterday!! I don't remember a thing, so I have no idea what I may have said, but I can tell it was something horrible from the reaction of those around me!! So don't say a single thing about it!!"
Something had been said that was causing Froleytia to blush out of delighted embarrassment. When Heivia heard that, his self control finally reached its limit and he punched Quenser.
Quenser used the short time until the pre-mission briefing to skim through a science magazine.
The old maintenance lady walked over in annoyance.
"If you have time to read that, how about you learn about a real Object?"
"I've been feeling some desire for infidelity lately."
The old lady looked confused, but Quenser showed her a page of the science magazine.
"This is about the Capitalist Corporations' liquid prism technology. The Legitimacy Kingdom still hasn't developed that tech far enough to make a practical weapon. They say the end product ups the output of laser beams by quite a bit."
"The Legitimacy Kingdom is carrying out research on this. They are a standard component of laser space elevators. They are used to send lasers fired from multiple oscillators in the same direction."
"Eh? So we do have the actual technology?"
"Yes, but only when it does not have to stand up to the high speed battles Objects go through," she replied. "Liquid prisms are created by filling transparent containers with a special liquid. The inside of the container is covered with electrodes and electrochemical control of the chemical interface is used to artificially alter the concentration of the liquid. Differences in concentration are used to bend the light."
"I see. But what does that have to do with high speed battles?"
"Sudden turns cause high G forces that will disturb the liquid within the liquid prism. The artificial alterations to the concentration of liquid within the container will be undone, bringing the liquid back to an even concentration. That is why it is difficult to put liquid prisms on an Object that makes quick movements and shakes with the firing of shells. Another problem is that the high temperatures created when the laser passes through will agitate the liquid as well," explained the old lady. "The key to the Capitalist Corporations' technology is not the liquid prism technology itself. It is the shock resistance technology and temperature countermeasures used to prevent external interference with the liquid prism. For example, they could use laser vibration detectors, fast-acting coolants, or cartridges. But even with all those technologies, an Object with a liquid prism aboard will have limited combat options. It will avoid making quick movements like our princess does. That means liquid prism technology has limited uses for Objects. Or at least it does not match the needs of our unit."
"It's a shame the technology doesn't fit in more nicely than that."
"If there was no risk to using it, Objects around the world would be using them. Also, that science magazine will only have the information they see no problem with letting the public know about. I would say there is more value in watching maintenance on an actual Object rather than reading that thing."
"It's in my nature to try to find a shortcut."
With a grumble of complaint, Quenser stood up.
Once again, it seemed his only option was the standard path.
The pre-mission briefing began.
A projector displayed a map of the ocean in the Solomon district. Froleytia spoke as a few arrows were added on top.
"Our primary target is Roybelz Oldnick who is travelling north through the Solomon district sea. Do not forget that every action during this mission should be taken in order to carry out that objective."
However, a giant shape had interposed itself between the north of Oceania and Oldnick's boat.
"But the real danger lies in the fact that the Capitalist Corporations' Deep Optical has been deployed in order to cut off our path. Unless we do something about it, we cannot finish off Oldnick before he flees. As such, the Baby Magnum must engage the Deep Optical."
Heivia asked a question.
"Are we to remain on standby until our princess has sent the Deep Optical to rest on the bottom of the ocean? Or are we going to head after Oldnick by taking a large detour around the Object while the princess is drawing its attention?"
"That would be the best option, but we do not have time." Froleytia added an arrow pointing to the west of Oldnick's boat. "An unidentified submarine has surfaced. We do not know if it belongs to the Deep Optical's unit or if it belongs to the remnants of Oldnick's military force, but this could become much more difficult if Oldnick's boat rendezvouses with the submarine."
"So we have to crush him before that happens. ...But how?"
Froleytia's shoulders stiffened a bit at hearing Quenser's voice, but her self control won out.
"As I said, the princess will engage the Deep Optical." Froleytia added another arrow heading right along the arrow indicating the shortest route. "But there is more to the ocean than the surface. A different group will head straight there while travelling deep under the ocean. Currently, we have no other way to catch up to Oldnick."
Froleytia drew a large circle around an area of sea even further north of where Oldnick was.
"One other thing. Just north of the operation area is an precious metal ocean mining plant financed by the Legitimacy Kingdom. Simply put, small filters are used to collect the metals dissolved into the ocean water and the metals are then condensed. The higher ups fear that valuable tungsten deposits will be lost in this battle. Make sure you do not forget that."
After the naval battle floats were installed, the Baby Magnum travelled north from Oceania and through the Coral Sea.
The Capitalist Corporations' Deep Optical was waiting at a point that cut off its path to the Solomon district where Oldnick had fled.
This was a true battle. It was a fight to the death. And like the battles in the many wars of the past, the girl piloting the Object exchanged no words with her opponent. She did not even know if the pilot of the enemy craft was male or female.
In a way, it was a clean battle. In a way, it was an empty battle.
The two faced off at a distance of about 10 kilometers.
"The intelligence group has carried out unofficial reconnaissance operations concerning the Deep Optical, but we still do not have any complete information. Do not get carried away in attack. Keep evasion a priority at all times."
"Understood," replied the princess.
In the next moment, the Deep Optical began to move.
They were 10 kilometers apart.
The Object fired a brilliant white laser beam at that range.
The princess just barely managed to evade by predicting the action from the subtle movements of the targeting lenses and other equipment.
An explosive noise followed the beam of light.
The laser beam roasted the dust and moisture in the air which produced a massive amount of heat, causing the air to expand explosively.
The Deep Optical had a very unique shape. Eight legs spread out directly below its spherical main body. All eight of those legs functioned as air cushion engines so it could remain accurately level even amidst waves.
For a main cannon, the Deep Optical had a giant laser beam cannon on its upper right side. Also, eight thick cylinders were attached to the spherical main body with the base of the main cannon at the center as if they were the face of a clock. The energy produced by those eight cylinders was likely collected for the main cannon.
According to some footage the princess had seen during the pre-mission briefing, it had two giant parts attached to the back. They were thought to be cooling devices.
It also had countless lenses unnaturally positioned on the front of the spherical main body like some kind of crop circle. The Object gave an overall ominous impression.
"Do not falter. The enemy's main cannon is a laser beam! Its strength is attenuated with distance, but its speed remains the same. Approaching will only put you at a disadvantage!!"
"I know that!!"
After somehow managing to avoid the first shot, the princess forced the Baby Magnum on forward.
At the same time, she moved the main cannon arms.
The Baby Magnum could change what type of main cannon it used to match the situation. The backs of the barrels rotated like revolvers to choose laser beams just like the Deep Optical used.
The princess fired without hesitation.
The Deep Optical reacted immediately.
But its evasion speed was slow. It moved at only half the speed the Baby Magnum had. The princess saw no way it could avoid the laser beam like that. However...
As everyone watched on, the laser beam the princess had fired suddenly changed trajectory. It headed off into the empty sky rather than to the Deep Optical.
"The heat produced by the laser altered the refractive index of the air!!" concluded the princess.
"Not good. Are they calculating it out using a super computer?"
The back of the seven barrels rotated once more as she chose the coilgun.
As she was directly firing a metal shell, the heat of the air would have minimal effects.
All seven main cannons fired in unison.
As before, the Deep Optical's evasion speed was low. It only moved far enough out of the way to protect half of its body.
Bright white beams of light burst out.
"Again!? The Deep Optical altered the course of the shells just before they hit!"
"It must have focused its smaller laser beam cannons on them. By gouging holes in the side of the shells, air resistance would cause them to fly off course!!"
Simply put, it was a type of laser parry.
It was a stunt only possible with dozens of weapons that travelled at the speed of light.
The princess fired the coilguns several more times, but the laser parry was very accurate. Even at the close range of 1 or 2 kilometers, it proved difficult to do any damage with metal shells.
All the while, the enemy's tremendous laser beam cannons fired back at the princess.
As this intense battle progressed, the princess calmly continued to analyze the situation.
Suddenly, one of the giant coilgun shells deflected by the laser parry landed in the ocean right next to the Deep Optical.
(Does it not have accurate control over what direction they are deflected in?)
Just as an explosive splash of water threatened to flip the Deep Optical over, something strange happened.
The Object regained its balance with an unnatural movement. It was as if its center of gravity was located in the wrong place like with a self-righting doll.
"We detected high power lasers coming from the side of the spherical main body when it recovered its balance. It must have a system to explosively expand the air and use the momentum to forcefully right itself. It can likely right itself even when tipped as far as 70-80 degrees to the side."
With that in mind, the Deep Optical seemed to be a craft that was designed with a focus on stability.
It would stay in one place and fire its accurate and powerful laser beam cannons. Speed was sacrificed to ensure its main cannon would not malfunction. It seemed to be designed to have the upper hand when it came to the speed of its weapons rather than the speed of the entire Object's movements.
(If Quenser saw this, he would probably get excited.)
"That must mean the Deep Optical does not have much in the way of quick bursts of speed."
"Its top speed probably is not too bad, but it may only be able to reach those speeds via smooth acceleration. Laser technology can be delicate. It may have to be careful in order to ensure that it does not destroy itself with the G forces created by its own movements."
"I can defeat it by drawing in close and firing relentlessly!!" shouted the princess as she accelerated the Baby Magnum forward.
She knew the enemy could interfere with the laser beam and coilgun options for her main cannon, but the Baby Magnum still had one trump card left.
The low-stability plasma cannons.
She could avoid the Deep Optical's main cannon by monitoring the subtle actions made before firing. If she could fire her seven main cannons again and again while not getting hit herself, she could sink the Deep Optical.
Or so she thought.
Doubt came to her mind.
The princess was taking evasive actions based on the subtle movements of the enemy's sensors, lenses, and cannons. With an enemy like the Deep Optical that used laser beam cannons, it was impossible to evade if the princess only detected it once the cannon had fired. To do that, she would have to overturn the theory of relativity.
But that was exactly why the princess found something odd.
She was evading the main cannon and the other laser beam cannons perfectly well. She was reading the subtle movements of the lenses and sensors just fine.
The crop circle-like group of lenses on the front of the Deep Optical was not moving at all.
Unless they were simply malfunctioning or they were just a bluff, the enemy still had some kind of trump card remaining.
It was at that time that all of the lenses on the front of the Deep Optical moved at once.
(Here it comes!!)
The princess focused every nerve ending in her body.
By her estimation, it was likely a system to drastically raise the enemy's accuracy. For that reason, she concentrated more on taking evasive actions than on attack.
However, her estimation was incorrect.
No sound was made.
And yet the Deep Optical multiplied.
There were exactly ten of them.
When the princess saw the many Deep Opticals that suddenly appeared in a line, the princess's thoughts stopped for a moment.
(No, the Deep Optical has not multiplied.)
"Is it using 3D images!?"
A simple fake image would be meaningless. The Baby Magnum could use several methods to perform a lock, so she merely had to use her infrared sensors or her ultraviolet sensors to see which one was real.
(The lock cursor is reacting to all 10 of them? I see. It is also manipulating infrared rays and ultraviolet rays to fool my computer!!)
In the next instant, the image blurred greatly.
Only one of the Deep Opticals was real.
The trick was especially insidious because they moved like the real one would and a virtual image was created to cover the location of the real Deep Optical as well.
The trick used high level 3D images and optical interference to confuse the other sensors as well. The princess determined the situation outside via her monitor, so this trick had the same effect on her as some mysterious ninja technique.
(Oh, no. I can't just sit here!)
Even if she should have taken action sooner, the loss of data to base her decisions on put her at a serious disadvantage regardless.
The princess frantically moved straight to the side while ignoring the intense Gs this put on her body, but the Deep Optical's main cannon blast still struck one of the Baby Magnum's main cannon arms. The laser beam created from combining 8 main cannon-class laser beams blew away the Baby Magnum's main cannon arm like it was a sugar sculpture.
"Damn. Is it using diffractive waves to create 3D images!? The principle is used in commercial 3D projectors, but they've altered the naked eye 3D image to work on an Object's lenses!! As it is creating diffractive wave image data to match the number of lenses used by the Object, you might be able to cause a flaw in the image by cutting off a portion of your lenses, but they can simply detect which lenses are active from their subtle movements and immediately recreate the image accordingly!!"
Merely listening to the military radio frequency was enough to grasp the complexity and depth of the problem.
"My infrared and ultraviolet locks are being fooled as well!!"
"Use a radio lock! Do not rely on optical data!! Determine the truth using radar!"
"The radar is not functioning right either!! The number of blips is increasing!!"
"Dammit. In a broad sense, both light and radar are electromagnetic waves, so are they dealing with them all at once!? And your directional microphone and sonar will be obstructed by the wall of air that explosively expands whenever they fire their main cannon!!"
As he listened to the transmissions on a small boat stopped in the sea to the south of the operation area, Heivia naturally looked over toward where the Baby Magnum was fighting...and then he started to feel dizzy.
He brought his hand to the handrail and said, "Ugh...dammit. Does that really look like a realistic 3D image to her? From here, it looks like some twisted aura you would expect to have coming from Cthulhu."
"Just like the normal 3D images which are created using diffractive waves with an image for both the right eye and the left eye, the various images simply become chaos when not seen from the princess's vantage point. Also, that is not meant for the naked eye. It's creating images for all the many lenses on the Object, so it just looks like a mess to humans like us."
"The Information Alliance idol Elite I saw in Oceania was a hell of lot nicer than this."
"I kind of want to see a strip show displayed on this scale."
However, Quenser and Heivia had more important business to take care of.
They were part of the separate group that had changed out of their normal military uniforms and into black diving suits. The rest of the group was jumping out of the small boat and into the sea one after another.
They would dive down below the area in which the two Objects were fighting and pursue Oldnick.
"Dammit. I know bringing a large submarine this close would get noticed by the Deep Optical, but Oldnick's boat is over 20 kilometers from here. That isn't a distance flesh-and-blood humans should have to swim."
"Yeah, and there's nothing pretty about a bunch of filthy guys swimming through the ocean."
Quenser and Heivia had oxygen tanks on their backs and plastic fins on their feet. However, that was clearly not enough for them to reach Oldnick. For propulsion, they had aqua scooters. Simply put, they were something like kickboards with giant motors attached.
Supported by that electric power, the group of about ten including Quenser and Heivia travelled through the sea.
During peaceful times, that clear blue ocean water with tropical fish poking their heads out from the gaps in the coral would have been a wonderful sight to see, but they had no time to focus on such things.
Even with the electric propulsion, the long period of time spent underwater seemed to rob them of their sense of time.
They could not actually see their target and they had nothing but their compasses to tell them they were even headed in the right direction.
Also, this was no calm rest in a cradle. The clear risk of death was pressing against their backs the entire time. They felt a silence that seemed like it would drive them mad if it continued for too long.
All the while, giant shadows would occasionally pass over them and block out the light of the sun.
Needless to say, those were the Objects. As the Deep Optical used air cushions for its propulsion device and had no shark anchors, it did little to disturb anything but the very surface of the water, but a sharp trembling still wrapped itself all around their bodies. The bombardments above the water also caused slight vibrations to spread throughout the ocean water.
"Shit!! The princess has those naval battle floats and shark anchor attached, doesn't she!? She's agitating the water like crazy!!"
"Continue on! If we turn back, our fate will be no different from a plastic doll that gets swept into the drain!!"
Quenser and the others continued their desperate pursuit of Oldnick even as their ally seemed more likely to kill them than their enemy.
The Deep Optical could not capture humans under the water because it was a Second Generation Object specialized for fighting other Objects.
"I beg you. Don't fire any stray shots this way. If all the water around us suddenly boils, we'll have no way to escape."
"These vibrations in the water aren't going to destroy the oxygen tanks' valves or the aqua scooters' motors, are they?"
Suddenly, the Deep Optical fired its main cannon while moving above them at high speed.
Laser light could not actually be seen by the naked eye when viewed from the side. However, it roasted the dust and moisture in the air which was not something one wanted to look directly at.
For that reason, Quenser and the others kept their heads down and looked toward the depths of the ocean like someone in a swimming race.
And yet the brilliant white light stabbed into their eyes nevertheless.
Quenser let out a meaningless cry as he felt an intense pain as if his eyes and even his skull had been pierced.
He lost his sense of up and down.
It did not matter if he looked at it directly or not. Even the light that could find its way around was enough to rob a flesh-and-blood human of his senses.
"Quenser...Don't let go of your aqua scooter!! Focus on that feeling!!" shouted Heivia.
Quenser grabbed the aqua scooter tighter as if he was clinging to it and his numbed head finally began to feel gravity once more.
"Damn. We're only 100 meters away. That is way too close to a monster with that much laser technology."
"If you can see, help me with the others. Some unlucky idiots were looking straight up at the surface. They have their oxygen tanks, so they won't drown right away, but we still need to give them support."
At Heivia's urging, Quenser grabbed the arm of a middle-aged woman who had started to sink towards the bottom of the ocean. She must have been in pain because she was screaming, but Quenser had already shut off the personal channel on his radio. Listening to it would do no one any good.
And the Baby Magnum and Deep Optical's battle continued on above the surface
"I'd rather not have the side effects of their battle crush me any further. If we can just get away from them, the negative effects of the optical weapons will lessen. We need to get away from this area of sea as quickly as we can."
Quenser and the rest of the group somehow managed to escape the area of intense fighting as they trembled in fear.
However, they did not head up to the surface even then. They were not about to underestimate an Object's sensors. At the very least, they had to get far enough away that the enemy Object's focus on the princess would take precedence.
"Look, Heivia. Isn't that Oldnick's boat!"
"Tch. He's gotten pretty close to the sub!!"
The two decided they were far enough away and rose to the ocean surface.
They removed their goggles and took the oxygen hose out of their mouths, but the submarine's hatch had already been opened and a crew member had just stuck his head out. An old white man jumped down from an expensive-looking charter boat, but messed up his landing. However, he managed to climb up onto the submarine just as it looked like he would be swept away by the waves.
"The end is finally in sight!"
"Let's finish this with a hole in one."
But the distance was too great.
The submarine was about 1500 meters away.
"Damn, I can't shoot him with my rifle at this range!!"
"Heivia, what about an anti-tank missile!?"
"I thought it might come to that. A hole in one might be tough, but I can try for an albatross."
"Aren't albatrosses actually harder?"
"Yeah, but people get more excited about a hole in one."
As they spoke, Heivia pulled out a large tube that was inside a clear plastic bag that had been sealed with duct tape. He tore apart the packaging and threw it away. That sort of weapon was not too affected by a bit of water, but that could change if water got into the targeting computer or the path for the combustible gas. At the very least, it did not hurt to keep the water out.
Heivia rested the missile launcher tube on his shoulder as he treaded water.
"Shit! I can't aim right with these waves!! Quenser, hold me in place!!"
"No!! I don't want to embrace a guy in this blue sea!!"
"I don't want you to do it either!! But if that troublesome cardinal reaches the submarine's hatch, we'll be getting a bogey rather than an albatross! That'll just get us another lecture from our huge-breasted commander! If you don't want that, then help me!!"
Quenser seriously thought he would much rather have that beauty's boots digging into him, but the situation required some sacrifice. Since a position behind Heivia would get him blasted by the missile's blowback, he supported Heivia from the side.
"Here goes! Hold on tight to make sure I don't get knocked over!!"
"Just get it over with!! ...Oh, god. I need to find a way to invite the princess out swimming so I can blot out these memories."
With the roar of compressed air searching for a path out, the explosive shot towards the submarine.
The submarine was designed to withstand extreme water pressure, so something like that was not about to sink it.
However, they had made a mistake in opening the hatch to let Oldnick in.
When the crewmember saw the projectile, he frantically attempted to close the hatch, but the missile struck the wall just below the hatch before he could. A shockwave burst out along with an explosive roar, but the metal hatch survived the blast. However, the intense force pushed the hatch closed even though the crewmember still had his upper body leaning out of it.
Heivia winced slightly when he saw that human body being "eaten" through the sight. However, he did not have enough of a conscience to regret his actions.
"I got lucky!! I hit with the first shot! Heivia, the genius, beautiful, and rich noble, is just too amazing!! It looks like that bastard Oldnick was knocked off. He fell into the ocean."
"The sub is leaving."
"They must have decided it isn't worth sticking around. ...Damn that old man!! The lucky bastard is still moving!! Quit finding fault with Heivia, the genius, beautiful, and rich noble!!"
"I guess an albatross was too much to hope for. I hope we can at least make par."
Oldnick waved at the submarine in hopes that it would save him, but the black ship showed no sign of responding.
The cardinal continued waving for a bit, but he finally gave up. He then desperately moved his arms and legs to take him in a different direction.
"What now? Is he just swimming off in desperation?"
"No, isn't there a precious metal ocean mining plant financed by the Legitimacy Kingdom just north of here? It uses various filters to draw out and condense the tungsten dissolved in the ocean water."
"Not good... Not good! That place is like a bunker!! And if it gets caught up in the battle, that huge-breasted commander is going to completely erupt!!"
"Heivia, can you directly target that old man with a missile?"
"I can't reload in the ocean like this." Heivia reequipped his goggles and oxygen tank, and then grabbed his aqua scooter. "Life isn't always that easy. Our only option is to get close and shoot him with a normal bullet."
"I suppose this is still better than having the enemy Object head this way. Getting out of the bunker isn't going to be easy, but we may still be able to get an eagle."
Froleytia gritted her teeth in her officer's room.
The higher ups had hoped to deal with Roybelz Oldnick in the same way they had fought Hyena, but things had ended up being completely different. She had no idea how the old man had arranged it, but now that the Capitalist Corporations' Deep Optical was involved, the problem had turned into a war.
On top of that, the Deep Optical had a special blinding weapon that interfered with their ability to take evasive actions.
It had created a number of clones of itself.
It created images using diffractive waves and used optical interference to disturb the various locking sensors.
Froleytia and the others back at the base constantly received information from the Object, so they understood what the princess was seeing.
Froleytia opened a line to the electronic simulation department as she tried to think up a countermeasure.
"Do you know how that blinding weapon works!?"
"It can freely emit 70 types of light waves at once and it can change the wavelengths as needed!! By simultaneously sending several wavelengths at one point in space, the normal light waves and the diffractive waves come together to create the image that is viewed as three dimensional. At the same time, it interferes with the infrared rays, ultraviolet rays, and every other optical device used to make a lock and the electromagnetic data from radar and the like!!" explained the operator from the electronic simulation department. "The angle of emission and distance are unknown! But with enough distance, the diffusion of the light waves would interfere with each other, so it should be within a few kilometers!!" The operator was practically yelling. "Also, a normal 3D image brings together footage for the right eye and the left eye, but this is using enough images for the number of lenses equipped on the Baby Magnum and is regulated by the diffractive rays. Intentionally cutting off a portion of the lenses should cause a disturbance in the image. That could be used to determine where the real one is, but..."
"They can immediately determine which lenses are active from their subtle movements and recreate the image to match, right?"
"The time until that happens is getting shorter! If the parameters of the 3D image continue to be changed liked this, even that slight 'out of place feeling' could disappear!!"
For the moment, the princess was not fooled at all. It was partially due to the fact that she would never believe that a single Object had suddenly become 10 Objects. The princess was seeing through the false footage and continuing the battle.
"With 1% of doubt, you lose the ability to trust the remaining 99%," commented Froleytia.
"The false images are obviously false for the moment, but if a false image that is harder to tell apart from the real one is mixed in once she grows accustomed to these, the risk of the princess being caught off guard grows!!"
And the time spent with the false images continued to grow.
Being able to see through the false images was important, but looking at the false images for too long was a problem too.
"Right now, she is just barely managing to take action in advance because she knows her sensors are being interfered with, but if she does not make it in time, she will take a direct hit..."
The blinding weapon displayed its greatest effects within a range of a few kilometers. In that case, the princess could escape the threat by falling back further than that and beginning a bombardment from there.
(No. The first shots from 10 kilometers were easily thrown off course. That 5 kilometer range is the best range for the princess to defeat the Deep Optical. Also, I doubt the Deep Optical would let her leave. If she tried to, it would do whatever it could to stop her.)
"What if we link the foot soldiers' cameras and the satellite to the Object to provide different points of view!?" suggested the operator.
"Those would have a slight lag and some noise. She wouldn't be able to keep up with the high speed of the battle while relying on those!!"
They had no options.
This was not an offensive cannon or defensive armor. The 37th Mobile Maintenance Battalion's predicament was caused by something else entirely.
The Deep Optical should have been drawing in and attacking repeatedly, but it was merely sitting in place and only occasionally firing. It was clearly overlooking an opportunity. In fact, it was actively moving backwards away from the princess whenever it had a chance.
Its actions seemed completely meaningless.
(What? Why would it abandon its advantage here and begin to retreat...?)
What was behind the Deep Optical?
What was to the north?
What lay beyond the battlefield?
Even though it was funded by the Legitimacy Kingdom, the Solomon district had long been treated like a blank area due to the confusion over the tyrannical regime in the Oceanian military nation. In other words, it was not defended by a dedicated Object. An Object was deployed to the precious metal ocean mining plant in times of political unrest, but it did not have a unit stationed there for its defense.
That was where Roybelz Oldnick arrived at the end of his swim.
The plant itself was similar to a cultivation facility. The entire facility floated in the ocean. Over 80% of it was made up of 10 meter square frames. The frames were made of reinforced plastic and they floated from the multiple drums that were attached to them. The insides of the frames had hundreds of filters hanging into the ocean. Those filters would gather the tungsten dissolved into the seawater.
"Cough...cough!! Cough cough!!"
Oldnick had arrived at one of the frames at the very outside of the facility.
A man working in the plant hesitated over whether he should help him or report him, but he was unable to even let out a scream when Oldnick held a handgun out toward him.
"Do you have a helicopter here?" asked the old man with bloodshot eyes. "Or a motorboat. Anything will do. Do you have any kind of transportation!? I need to get away from here as quickly as possible. This is a blank area. If I can lose them here..."
Suddenly, a high-pitched gunshot cut off Oldnick's thoughts.
A bullet hole appeared in one of the drums keeping a nearby frame afloat.
From 500 meters away in the ocean, Quenser shouted, "You suck at this, Heivia!!"
"I can't brace myself or aim properly when treading water in these waves, dammit!!"
Their target seemed to have resolved himself to shooting the worker who could get in his way.
Quenser pulled some Hand Axe plastic explosive out of the bag on his back and shouted as loud as he could.
The worker immediately dove headfirst into the middle of one of the frames, but Oldnick moved to fire a bullet after him into the ocean water regardless.
After stabbing an electric fuse into it, Quenser chucked the Hand Axe toward the old man.
As Heivia had said, he could not brace himself while treading water. He had tried to throw it in a long arc, but the explosive did not even make it 50 meters.
He hit the switch on his radio regardless.
A loud explosive noise rang out and Oldnick got down on the ground despite being well out of range of the blast.
However, it had been meant as a psychological attack in the first place.
Oldnick did not seem like the type of person who was used to running through the battlefield. He had no idea what the range of danger from an explosion was, so he seemed to have frantically chosen retreat from just the slight pain on his skin and ears from the shockwave.
He looked over at the two boys and fired an occasional shot from his handgun (knowing he could not hit from that range) as he jumped from frame to frame. As there was no cover to be found in that area, he felt the need to make some preparations before a real firefight occurred.
While 80% of the plant was made up by those frames, the remaining 20% was different.
"When we climb up onto land will be the most dangerous part. Even if he just has a handgun, we're goners if he targets us while we're defenseless."
"We have our oxygen tanks and aqua scooters. Let's dive down and use the ocean water as a shield."
Quenser and Heivia moved stealthily through the water. The outside of the square frames was made up of thin pieces of cloth one meter wide and a few dozen meters long. With all the frames lined up in a grid, those cloths stretching down looked something like rectangular pillars. They stretched straight down despite the slight rocking of the waves, so they must have had some kind of weight attached to the bottom.
"(Amazing. Is that stuff glittering like aluminum foil all tungsten? It looks like you could make all the construction equipment for a mid-sized automobile factory with just one of those filters.)"
"(Heh. It's almost as dazzling as my sexy face)" commented Heivia.
"(Man, I kind of want to take a souvenir home with me.)"
Meanwhile, Oldnick ran down a pathway on the exterior of the frames and entered a facility made of steel. Even that facility was built atop the type of large float that was commonly used for floating airports.
(My odds are not good in a straight fight.)
The former cardinal came to that conclusion.
After all, he was up against a professional military unit with the backing of a world power. They had better equipment and more ammunition. A soaking wet old man with a single handgun could hardly hope to oppose them.
He had also been abandoned by the submarine.
As a cardinal, he was supposed to be a symbol of the holy and just, so something was wrong from the moment he had to stretch out his arms in a desperate attempt to grasp any means of escape.
(I have always been right. I have always been on the right side.)
And yet he had shaken hands with Hyena, a group that had no problem with attacking civilian convoys and facilities that distributed cargo.
(If nothing was done about the expansion of the Greek power, the Christian Church would have lost its land, funding, people, and culture, one after another. I stood up to protect those things.)
To escape Valkyrie, he had shouted to the Capitalist Corporations that the Legitimacy Kingdom was Valkyrie's ally and had brought about a real war in the sea to the south.
(My actions will shine brilliantly within the history of the Faith Organization! Everyone will sing my praises and revere my name! That is how it should be. Anything else would be nonsense! Yes, utter nonsense! It would be unjust! No one is looking at this properly!!)
However, Oldnick had been abandoned by his allies' submarine, he had aimed his gun at a civilian worker of that plant, and had fled through the sea to save his own skin.
But the old man did everything he could to avert his gaze from that pathetic reality.
His hopes had not yet been completely destroyed.
He still had a trump card. So long as he had that, the Capitalist Corporations' Object was on his side.
Oldnick arrived at a piece of equipment that was likely used to help with air traffic control for helicopters. He set the frequency on the large radio to contact the Capitalist Corporations military.
Of course, he was using a civilian piece of equipment that could not encrypt the signal, so Quenser and Heivia could easily intercept it.
The two boys recognized the voice that came in response.
A bit of age could be heard in the voice, but it maintained a core of discipline.
It belonged to the commander they had run into in the Loyauté district.
"Cardinal Oldnick. Do not use that device. Our transmissions must be properly encrypted. We gave you a radio to contact us with."
"If I could use that, why would I be using this roundabout method!?"
Quenser and Heivia had already arrived at the bottom of the plant. They were now searching for a point they could safely surface and climb out of the water at.
"Send the Object this way as soon as possible!! I thought you were going to cut off the path of any Legitimacy Kingdom pursuers! How did these ones get through? Also..."
"You want to know why that plant you are in has yet to be destroyed, cardinal? Not all operations go precisely as planned. We are currently working to fulfill our quota."
Quenser and Heivia exchanged a glance while underwater.
That comment had made it sound like the destruction of the plant had been part of the plan all along.
"Listen." While too worried to even think about the possibility of his soaking wet state putting him in danger of electrocution, Roybelz Oldnick shouted into the radio microphone with an almost hysteric tone to his voice. "If I die here, you cannot acquire what you are after. Do not forget that!"
"And don't you forget that just knowing the method does not allow you to produce it. Keep in mind that no one will give you better terms than us."
After deciding on a point to surface, Heivia removed the scope from his rifle and poked it out of the water like a periscope in order to check for any guards.
While listening to the radio, Quenser muttered, "Platinum."
"What do you mean?"
"Oldnick first came into contact with Hyena. They were stealing the Oceanian made platinum. And now he's targeting a plant used to acquire tungsten. I can only think of one reason." Quenser seemed to hesitate before continuing. "I've heard of a project that is attempting to create platinum atoms by artificially combining carbon and tungsten atoms. It's called the Treasure of Electron Mathematics. It's a technique in which an atom with an unstable number of electrons is stabilized by combining it with another atom. The old lady said research was being taken into mass producing industrial platinum, so I searched the military database for information on it."
Basically, it was the technology to create incredibly valuable platinum out of 2 completely different types of atoms.
"Tungsten is classified as a rare earth, but it still isn't as valuable as platinum."
"While they are creating as much synthetic platinum as they want, they also want to drive up its value by obstructing any other means of producing it. The destruction of the tungsten plant is likely a means of keeping others from using the same method as themselves."
While sending out his transmission from the control equipment, Oldnick started audibly grinding his teeth. He then reached out for the last thin life line remaining for him.
It was a connection made out of nothing but money.
The old man knew how risky that was.
However, no card was more effective in dealings with the Capitalist Corporations military.
"Once the system for producing platinum is in place, I will once more be able to stand on the center stage. A single Object costs more than 5 billion dollars, but that means one can start a war after gathering that much money. I will recover my territory from the hands of that Greek power."
"Do you wish for a comeback that much? I thought the church council had yet to come to a definitive decision over whether this method of production was in violation of divine providence or not. I thought there was a danger that this constitutes bringing impurities into the world created by god."
Most religions believed that god had either created the world or was largely involved in its origin and therefore all materials would have been unable to exist without having been created by god.
In that case, was it acceptable for humans to create materials that did not exist in the natural world?
Would that not be nothing more than bringing unnecessary impurities into the world god had created?
Many had whispered of that problem, but the central authority of the Faith Organization had not spoken out against the creation of things like plastics.
Creating water from oxygen and hydrogen was nothing more than rearranging a portion of the world god had created. The central authority felt that was nothing more than an extension of the world god had created and it therefore did not violate providence.
"But that reasoning does not apply for the Treasure of Electron Mathematics. Instead of combining atoms to create a molecule, the number of electrons between atoms is manipulated to create a different atom when two atoms are combined. That is different from simply using the atoms as building blocks."
And that was not the only problem.
The created atom was not some brand new material. The fact that already existing platinum was being created was key.
"Even though this material is created by combining a tungsten atom with a carbon atom, it is exactly the same as a natural platinum atom. This foreign atom is completely indistinguishable from the real deal. Not only is an artificial substance being brought into the world created by god, but this artificial substance fits right in without any problems whatsoever. That may have caused the church to oppose this much more strongly than simply creating some toxic new substance."
This was different from artificially recreating a natural environment to create an artificial diamond out of carbon.
This was a case of taking two non-platinum atoms and creating a single platinum atom.
It was not merely creating a different form of platinum that was seen as blasphemous.
It was the exposure of the vulnerability of the universal system of atoms and molecules that was seen as blasphemous.
However, Oldnick responded immediately.
The instantaneous response made it seem like he was only focusing on what was convenient to him rather than speaking from a deeply-held conviction.
"I will reclaim the land, assets, and people those savages stole. There is no valid reason to criticize me for that."
"Even if you have the money, there are many other barriers to producing an Object."
"It does not matter if I do not reach my goal of an Object in the end. Did you know that the Faith Organization's exchange rate has been fixed? In order to deal with the exchange rate of the world market, transactions using diamonds and platinum are growing more common than those using our own currency."
"Yes, but economic analysts have called that a roundabout method of dealing with it."
"Greek's primary exchange rate is tied to platinum. If its value crashes, their culture will fall into chaos. My true desire would be to personally send an Object in, but it does not necessarily have to be me who fills that role." Roybelz Oldnick gave a cunning smile. "They expanded their influence through rather forceful methods. That has earned them a lot of hatred. Once their momentum has been slowed with the chaos over platinum values, others will tear into them."
Quenser and Heivia approached the facility through the sea in that old man's blind spot.
They double checked the point and then grabbed onto the edge of the giant float, but then a high-pitched gunshot rang out.
The edge of the float burst open slightly.
The two boys frantically let go and hid in the ocean once more.
"What the hell was that!? That wasn't Oldnick! It came from the wrong direction!!"
They could not see far through the moving ocean surface. However, sticking their heads above the surface would bring the risk of being shot.
A bullet ripped apart the ocean surface and shot by Quenser and Heivia while accompanied by something like a spear made up of air bubbles.
"It looks like they don't know exactly where we are." Quenser and Heivia swam away from that spot while thinking about what to do. "Have some comrades of Oldnick's arrived?"
"Or have some guards from the Capitalist Corporations been sent out here?"
Heivia floated up near the surface and poked just the scope of his rifle out of the seawater.
Using it like a periscope, he checked around the area.
"Not good. I don't think those are Capitalist Corporations soldiers."
"What do you mean?"
"It's Valkyrie. Some of those Faith Organization elites are clinging to one of the plant's frames!!"
Quenser moved up next to Heivia and took the scope from him.
He checked for himself.
Sure enough, some women wearing familiar uniforms were there. Valkyrie was not running along on top of the frame. They were aiming their short-range sniper rifles with their elbows pressed against the frame for stability.
"It seems they're as aware as us that there is really nowhere to hide."
A small submarine could be seen sticking up above the water a bit away from them.
Quenser handed the scope back to Heivia.
"But why is Valkyrie here? Since they're from the Faith Organization too, is it related to Oldnick!?'
"If so, this could be even worse than running across some Capitalist Corporations' soldiers. But at the same time..."
Heivia trailed as more gunfire rang out.
The two boys hunkered down, but the bullets were not headed in their direction.
"What? Are they targeting our other comrades?"
"No, they aren't... They're firing at the giant float Oldnick ran onto!!"
"That's their standard job. Valkyrie is a global divine punishment group that executes any 'enemies of god' who have violated religious rules. They're targeting Oldnick as members of the Faith Organization!!" Heivia reattached the scope to his rifle and then checked to make sure it was working right. "But we can't assume the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Valkyrie is after the same target as us. At this rate, we can't avoid a conflict!!"
They were targeting the same person, but any argument between them could provide Roybelz Oldnick with a chance to escape. And any extra time spent gave Capitalist Corporations' troops more time to arrive to defend him.
"..." Quenser thought for a bit. "Heivia, hand me your rifle."
"What? You've never had any marksmanship training. How the hell are you going to be of any use here!? Do you think they can't hit us at this distance because they have short-range sniper rifles? With their skill, they can hit us easily!!"
"No, not that." Quenser shook his head. "I know a more effective method than bullets."
When he told Heivia what that method was, Heivia expressed his disapproval just as Quenser had expected he would.
"That's crazy. I already told you, the enemy of our enemy is not our friend! We're after the same target, so..."
"Just leave it to me." Quenser knew it would make the contents unusable, but he opened his survival kit underwater. "As with everything, it depends on how you do it. So just hand me your rifle, Heivia."
Valkyrie member Sarasa Gleamshifter clicked her tongue while clinging to a tungsten plant and commanding a small number of subordinates.
(I never expected to run into the Legitimacy Kingdom at this stage.)
Roybelz Oldnick's reckless comments were the same as ever, but she got the feeling he had intentionally gotten the Legitimacy Kingdom involved in order to help him escape Valkyrie.
He had intentionally disrupted the flow towards checkmate by causing a conflict between the Legitimacy Kingdom and the Faith Organization so that he could complete his escape to somewhere safe.
Normally, making a direct enemy of an Object was suicidal, but he could just barely get away with it by having the Capitalist Corporations eliminate it for him.
(We were deployed because those impudent ideas of his reached a level where they violated our religious rules. But our reasoning means nothing to the Legitimacy Kingdom. We cannot avoid a conflict here.)
"Maria, Rachel." Sarasa gave instructions to her subordinates over the radio. "We must finish them off quickly. Prepare your 50 mm mortar. I will intentionally fire well off target. Once they know we are using short-range sniper rifles, they will assume we cannot hit them at this range and grow negligent. Fire at them once their heads surface."
"Understood. We can hold the mortar one-handed, so the setup takes no time at all."
"If we don't take care of this quickly and get out of here, we might even end up with that Object pursuing us."
After seeing Maria and Rachel dive under the water, Sarasa peered through her scope once more.
She then noticed something strange sticking up from the ocean surface
It was the standard issue assault rifle of the Legitimacy Kingdom.
She would have understood if just the barrel was sticking out, but for some reason, it was sticking out with the portion of the stock that pressed against the shoulder up. Also, some kind of white cloth was tied to the stock. She had no way of knowing, but the cloth came from a survival kit. The cloth could be used as a bandage for a wound, as a sling for a broken arm, or to hold a sprained ankle in place.
(Is that supposed to be a white flag?)
Sarasa frowned as she could not determine what they were trying to do.
When she looked at the rifle sticking up out of the water once more, she noticed something written in permanent marker on the white cloth.
It was a number several digits long.
She thought for a second and then pulled out her radio.
"What is the meaning of this? Are you trying to determine my location from the signal?"
"Thank goodness you have plenty of curiosity."
When she set the frequency, she heard a voice that clearly did not belong to anyone in her unit. For one thing, it was male.
The voice likely belonged to a Legitimacy Kingdom soldier.
"We are also targeting Roybelz Oldnick. However, only one of us can kill him. That issue could start an unnecessary firefight that will just give Oldnick a chance to escape. ...Am I right in assuming you see this the same way?"
"It seems you are not an idiot." Sarasa gave a thin smile. "I assume you are not thinking the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Valkyrie will eliminate any enemies of god no matter what. We have no intention of giving you his head. I do not like that he set this up, but we cannot avoid a conflict over this."
"You can have his head," replied the Legitimacy Kingdom soldier immediately. "We just need to get DNA evidence. After Oldnick is dead, we'll give you some time. You can chop off his head, but leave the rest of him for us. We'll retrieve that."
Sarasa thought for a bit.
"I will deem that an official proclamation. If you do anything that works against our interests, we will officially register you and your unit as enemies of god. It does not matter if it is intentional. If a single stray bullet hits me or my subordinates, the Faith Organization will pursue you for all eternity."
"That's fine." Whether he truly understood what it meant to make a promise with Valkyrie or not, the Legitimacy Kingdom soldier did not hesitate. "Our orders were simply to confirm that Oldnick is dead. Unlike you, it does not matter to us who kills him. Also, I'm not about to fall into our enemy's trap and get into a pointless firefight during this age of clean battlefields. The fewer corpses in the end, the better."
Valkyrie of the Faith Organization aimed toward the giant float and fired their short-range sniper rifles again and again. They did not use full auto, but this was not in order to raise their accuracy. They wanted to be constantly firing, and so they wanted to lower their rate of ammunition consumption.
As could be seen by the fact that they were not particularly concerned with accuracy, Valkyrie were not trying to hit their distant target.
They were providing cover fire for Quenser and Heivia as they climbed out of the water and onto the giant float.
They were ensuring that Oldnick would not shoot the two boys during that dangerous period by preventing him from coming out from behind cover.
"Shit!! They're firing pretty intensely!! Are you sure this is cover fire? They're not actually using this as a chance to kill us, are they!?"
"They can't aim too accurately at this distance with those short-range sniper rifles. Of course, that isn't exactly reassuring even if they aren't intentionally targeting us."
Quenser and Heivia climbed aboard the giant floating plant and headed for the control equipment while keeping low to the ground. Quenser pulled out a clay-like bomb, attached it to the center of the metal door leading into the facility, and stabbed in an electric fuse.
That was when Oldnick noticed them.
He aimed his handgun at the door and fired several times.
Quenser and Heivia frantically leapt out of the way.
"Shit! Let's get away from the door, Quenser!! That way you can blow it out of our way!!"
"I hope this kills him!!"
While remaining down on the ground, Quenser hit the switch on his radio.
With an explosion, the steel door was blown off its hinges and into the room. It did not hit Oldnick directly, but the shockwave seemed to have hit him. They saw him thrown forcefully against the communications equipment inside.
Heivia fired his rifle into the now-doorless entrance and sparks flew from several devices within. But Oldnick moved his unsteady legs and ran towards the staircase further within the facility.
"That persistent bastard!!" shouted Heivia as he ran for the stairs after Oldnick.
Repeated gunshots rang out.
They did not come from Heivia's rifle; they came from Oldnick's handgun.
When Heivia arrived on the 2nd floor, he leaned up against a corner in the passageway. Oldnick was periodically firing his handgun, so Heivia could not carelessly poke his head around the corner. When he did take a peek around the corner despite the danger, he saw that the old man had knocked over all the furniture along the wall of the passageway to create a simple barricade.
"What a pain in the ass." Heivia brought his radio's microphone to his mouth. "Quenser. Hey, Quenser!! Give me one of your electric fuses! Toss one up to me right away!!"
"Why? And what about the explosive?"
"Just toss it up the staircase!!" shouted Heivia.
Quenser did as he was told and tossed the pen-like fuse from the bottom of the staircase. Heivia crouched down to pick the fuse up from the ground, and pulled out the spare round for his handheld anti-tank missile launcher. He then stuck the end of the electric fuse into the connector on the side.
He could now detonate it remotely.
"Just fucking die already!!"
While drawing back from Oldnick's gunfire, Heivia stuck just his arm around the corner of the passageway and threw the explosive.
Heivia immediately pressed his back against the wall and used his thumb to flip the panel off the switch on his radio.
He could detonate it at any time.
Even if Oldnick survived, the barricade between the two would have been blown away. Heivia could easily finish off the enemy while his movements were dulled by the shock.
Just as Heivia was about the hit the switch...
The old man's voice suddenly came from down the passageway.
Heivia could not peer around the corner. He preferred not to be shot between the eyes.
"I can give you information on the Capitalist Corporations Object!!" said Oldnick. "You aren't from Valkyrie, are you!? You must be from the Legitimacy Kingdom then. You need information on the Capitalist Corporations Object you are fighting, right!?"
"Planning another slip of the tongue, are you? Sorry, but our primary target is you, not the Deep Optical. You really need to learn how to keep your mouth shut. Also, without you, the Legitimacy Kingdom and Capitalist Corporations have no reason to continue fighting."
"This time, maybe. But you will meet again on the battlefield someday. Wouldn't it be better to learn how that Second Generation Object works now?"
(Tch. He knows where we stand. Has he gotten some information on us from somewhere?)
"Also, the information could be used in developing your own Objects. It uses a liquid prism to safely combine multiple laser beams and it uses laser vibration detection to help absorb any shocks. Information on those technologies could help make them exclusive to the Legitimacy Kingdom."
It was true that information on Object technology could earn someone massive amounts of money. A hopeful designer like Quenser might even drool at the thought.
Oldnick continued speaking as Heivia remained silent.
"Stay your hand here. I will wait here for things to calm down. I do not wish to make an enemy of the Legitimacy Kingdom. All I care about is destroying Greece. And if that means I must oppose the entirety of the Faith Organization, it could work to your advantage."
Not only would he hand over information on some Object technology, but he would also destroy a major power within the Faith Organization.
After thinking on it, Heivia came to his conclusion.
"Then I think you need to die."
Just before Heivia unhesitatingly pressed the button on his radio, Oldnick leaped to the side in an attempt to get as far away as possible from the explosive. When he landed, he slid across the ground like a baseball player sliding headfirst into base.
With an explosive noise, dust was blown into the air.
"Tch. So he can still scream!!"
The type of explosive and distance from the explosive were also important factors, but Heivia had seen a report saying the deadliness of an explosive blast differed by over 70% depending on whether the target was standing or lying down.
Oldnick tried to pull up his hurting body, but it would not move the way he wanted it to. The old man could only breathe heavily as he lay on the ground.
"You...idiot. Do you not know a good deal when you see one!?" said the old man.
"It's true that nothing could be better for us than for the Faith Organization to weaken itself with internal conflicts." Heivia carefully walked out from behind the corner and kept his rifle aimed at the old man. "But you aren't distinguishing between the battlefield and the safe countries when you say you are going to destroy this Greek power. I have no intention of helping someone like that."
Meanwhile, Quenser remained in the room filled with large communications equipment on the first floor of the facility.
(Dammit, Oldnick. I know you don't want to die, but where do you think your goal is here?)
Quenser searched for a map of the facility to see if there was a heliport on the rooftop.
A handheld device sat atop the control panel. The plastic exterior was cracked, but the display was still lit.
(Is this Oldnick's?)
Quenser picked it up.
(It might have some information on him. If we know the scope of his power and what exactly he is after, we can figure out what to do next!!)
He found external links and collections of encryption codes, but the device's wireless functionality was broken, so he could not access any information stored on external servers. However, he did find a few temporary files still on the device. Quenser worked for a bit and finally found a way to read those temporary files.
- Changes in the Value of Platinum
- How to Use Tungsten
- The Treasure of Electron Mathematics
He found a few fragmentary titles, but he could not access the full documents they linked to. Quenser clicked his tongue and called up more information.
- Domed Livestock Facilities = Information Alliance Made
- The Food Supply Situation
- Self-Sufficiency and Importation
He found some data on Oceanian agriculture. Yet he had thought the Capitalist Corporations and Oldnick's connection was based on the Treasure of Electron Mathematics that created manmade platinum using tungsten. He saw no connection to agriculture or the food supply.
- The Unstable Balance of Oceania's Natural Environment
- The Impossibility of Future Dairy Farming Based on Grazing Land
- 70% of Meat Imported from the Capitalist Corporations
- The Effect of Manmade Livestock Facilities Supplied by the Information Alliance
Quenser audibly gulped.
"Due to the unstable balance between vegetation and desert in Oceania, grazing land was banned. This meant they had to rely on imported meat which mostly came from the Capitalist Corporations. But Oceania plans to use the funds from the platinum mined there to purchase dome-shaped livestock facilities from the Information Alliance. That means..."
A certain world power did not want Oceania to use artificial livestock facilities.
They wanted to drive down the value of the source of funds for those large-scale dairy farming facilities.
To do that, they had to destroy the value of platinum.
It was in the Capitalist Corporations' interests to cause a crash in the value of platinum using the Treasure of Electron Mathematics.
The Information Alliance-made livestock facilities were needed to improve the unstable food supply situation.
Robbing them of that option meant...
- The Negative Effects of Cyclones
- Worries Over the Possibility of Import Routes Becoming Blocked
- Severe Food Shortages
- Estimated Starvation Levels of Over Half a Million
- Up to 750,000 Could Die Before a Solution is Found
Just as Quenser very nearly crushed the handheld device in his grip, a staticky voice came in over the large communication equipment that had been partially damaged in the firefight.
"Oh, right." The speaker must have thought he was still speaking with Oldnick. "Cardinal, there is one last thing I would like to make clear. It is about the method of creating manmade platinum you call the Treasure of Electron Mathematics. The truth is, we do not really need it."
"Basically, we just need the price of Oceanian platinum to plummet. The thing about the market is, an expected crash is enough to cause a panic even if there was never any real threat."
Quenser knew what the man was trying to say.
His face paled as the man continued to speak.
"And so we do not actually need to learn the details of the method from you, cardinal. We just need it to be known that we worked with you in some way or another. In fact, if you are captured or killed by the Legitimacy Kingdom or Faith Organization here, some might decide you never actually managed to give us information on the Treasure of Electron Mathematics. That would be a problem."
"Heivia!!" Quenser brought his own small radio to his mouth. "Get out of here now! Now that Oldnick is cornered here, the Capitalist Corporations is going to-...!!"
"In that case, wouldn't the best way to keep those useful doubts alive be to turn you to ash there?" continued the man.
Quenser had no time to wait for Heivia's response.
He ran out of the facility as quickly as he could and leaped into the sea. Seawater got in his mouth, but he did not care. He covered his eyes with his right arm.
In the next instant, a great flash of light exploded out. It seemed like the light of welding multiplied several dozen times.
Even with his arm covering them, the light stabbed into his eyes. He could not even calmly deduce that the light came from a massive laser beam burning the structure away.
In all seriousness, Quenser went blind for a bit.
That violently bright light was the proof that it was an attack from a ridiculously huge weapon.
It was a Second Generation Object.
It was the Deep Optical.
"Cough!! Cough cough!!"
His vision started to come back, but an afterimage remained as if a film was being draped over his eyes.
Quenser started to panic. He completely forgot about the tube right next to his mouth leading to the oxygen tank on his back and headed for the ocean surface for air.
When his face breached the surface, the change to the environment became abundantly clear.
The giant, lightly-colored float had been polished like a silver mirror.
Except that was not what had happened.
(A portion of the steel facility was vaporized!?)
The metal had turned into a hot vapor, had been sprayed across the giant float, and then had cooled and hardened there. That made the surface of the float shine like it had been silver-plated.
As always, Object cannons were in a league of their own.
Quenser knew he had escaped the blast, but fear still filled him from the tips of his fingers and toes to the very core of his body upon seeing those effects. He could not feel any relief over having avoided it. He had to use his intellect to its fullest in order to come up with a plan to survive, but he could feel his thoughts falling to pieces in the face of his emotions.
That was when the upper floors of the facility fell to the ocean because the middle floors had been destroyed.
The sudden waves this caused tossed Quenser around, but he managed to not drown thanks to his oxygen tank.
When he surfaced once more, he spotted Heivia's head sticking out of the water nearby.
He had likely jumped out a window just before the laser beam struck.
"I almost died! Dammit, I almost died!! I can't think straight and I can't feel pain properly!! I still have all my arms and legs, right!?"
It seemed Heivia had begun to panic.
Quenser then heard a female voice come in over his radio.
It was from Valkyrie.
"Hey, we saw what just happened! What happened to Roybelz Oldnick!?"
The reply came from Heivia who had been pursuing the man up to the very last second.
"How the fuck should I know!? That old man was acting like he had all the answers while talking about liquid prisms and laser vibration detectors, but he sure got blown away with the entire 2nd floor easily enough!! I doubt there's enough left of him to feed a single fish!!"
Quenser heard someone click their tongue and then the radio transmission cut off.
Quenser tried contacting them again a few times, but he received no response.
"I think they ran off..."
"I want to join them!! Our huge-breasted commander told us not to let anything happen to the plant, and look what happened!! How many yellow cards is that now!? Can you even stock up red cards!?"
Quenser ignored Heivia and muttered to himself to gather his thoughts.
"Valkyrie was after nothing but Oldnick from the start. They have no reason to stick around to help with the Capitalist Corporations or Deep Optical."
But Quenser and Heivia were not so lucky.
The Deep Optical was fighting with the Baby Magnum. If the princess lost that battle, Quenser and Heivia at the very least would be persistently pursued if not the entire mobile maintenance battalion.
After all, they had given the Deep Optical enough of a reason to focus its fire on them with what they had done in the Loyauté district.
They had no idea when the Object's main cannon would be fired at them in the name of destroying the plant to drive up the price of tungsten.
"As always, we have to charge through the heart of hell in order to survive."
"Oh, what the hell! Why is it always an Object in the end!? We're getting a little too close to actually ending up in heaven here!"
While cursing their luck, the two boys reequipped their goggles and the mouth pieces for their oxygen tanks, and then dove down once more.
They were headed for the Capitalist Corporations' Second Generation Object.
They would not leave alive unless the Deep Optical was destroyed.
As Quenser and Heivia headed through the ocean with their aqua scooters, the bombardment from the Deep Optical continued. Naturally, the bombardment was targeting the tungsten plant.
"Shit!! Our huge-breasted commander just won't stop yelling! We didn't manage to retrieve Oldnick's body and now the plant is being attacked. This is getting worse and worse!"
"If I have to choose between becoming fish food and being treaded on by a beautiful woman, I will always choose the latter! So let's focus on surviving this, Heivia!!"
The Deep Optical was unsuited to high-speed movements, so its strategies focused around deciding things quickly with its giant laser. However, it was now attacking the plant while holding the princess's Baby Magnum off almost casually.
It was clear which Object had the upper hand.
The Baby Magnum had not been directly hit by the enemy's main cannon, but it continued to just barely avoid it. The side effects of the giant laser had to be doing damage bit by bit. That Deep Optical seemed to have nothing to worry about.
"How odd. They're only targeting the giant float with that facility on it while completely ignoring the frames that make up the majority of the plant."
"They just want to make the entire plant unusable. Afterwards, they can retrieve the filters and take the tungsten for themselves. It's a very Capitalist Corporations way of thinking."
The one piece of luck was that this strategy kept the rest of the group meant to pursue Oldnick from being targets as they helped the civilian workers evacuate via ship.
However, they could hardly relax.
"Either way, only one fate awaits us if the princess loses. The rest of the unit might survive, but we have given them enough reason to hunt us down."
Quenser was of course referring to the incident in the Loyauté district.
Sounding annoyed, Heivia said, "I know we have to do it, but how are we supposed to oppose that monster?"
"It's specialized for naval battles, so it uses an air cushion propulsion device. Its armaments are centered around laser beams. That gives us a few starting points." Quenser let his body float in place thanks to the buoyancy provided by the program-controlled oxygen regulation inside his diving suit. "The air cushion propulsion device keeps the craft afloat using the power of air, so the situation between the floats and the ocean surface can greatly affect its balance"
"Yeah, it remains stable by keeping the air between two large flat surfaces."
"And it loses its balance if that is destroyed," said Quenser. "Luckily, this is the ocean rather than solid ground. That gives us a chance. We need to take a large chunk of the ocean water out from under the Deep Optical. If we do, it will capsize and sink. ...A few years back, a Second Generation Object specialized for naval battles was sunk by a freak wave."
"But we can't just cause a freak wave," said Heivia in disapproval. "Freak waves are large enough to sink tankers and they occur unexpectedly. The exact conditions that cause them are unknown. It's true that they're like the grim reaper to ships on the sea, but how are we supposed to cause one when no one knows what exactly causes them?"
"That was just an example. Also, the Deep Optical has laser beam emitters on its side that it can use to detonate the air and recover like a self-righting doll."
"What other 'starting points' do you have?"
"That high power laser beam. Its main cannon indirectly helped us out in the Loyauté district. It gathers the energy of 8 laser beams and fires it all at once. If something goes wrong with the control of that energy, it might blow itself apart."
"What, are you going to climb up onto that main cannon?" Heivia shrugged within the seawater. "Even if it's a relatively slow Object, it still moves at over 200 kph. If we tried to grab onto it, it would rip our arms off."
"Can we interfere with it from a distance?"
"There's no way we can get a hole-in-one firing an anti-tank missile down the barrel of the main cannon."
"What about interference with its programming?"
"If that was possible, the electronic simulation department would have tons of medals."
Quenser fell silent.
Heivia had plenty of negative opinions, but he was good at viewing the situation rationally (when it meant saving his own skin). Quenser had plenty of positive opinions, but he was bad at seeing the risk when he thought he had a way of winning.
Quenser was thankful for those characteristics of his comrade in arms. Your personality was not something you could change even if you were aware of its negative aspects.
Quenser suddenly stopped his thought process and spoke once more.
"Then there is one last thing we can rely on."
"Just to double check, Oldnick mentioned a liquid prism and laser vibration detectors before he died, right?"
"Yeah, he made it sound like the liquid prism was used to combine the 8 lasers and the laser vibration detectors were used defensively."
"...I see." Quenser thought for a bit. "In that case, we might have a chance. We need to think up a way to get up on that thing."
"What could you possibly do on top of it!?" Heivia's eyes opened wide. "Even if you climb up on top of the Object's spherical main body, the pilot Elite is hardly going to open the hatch to the cockpit. And the puny guns and explosives we have can't damage that main cannon!! Those monsters are specifically designed to keep that from happening!!"
"With its focus on lasers, the Deep Optical likely cannot keep its defenses up to the level needed in a real battle just with thick armor. Laser beams are delicate enough as they are, but they've combined 8 of them together. That main cannon is filled with delicate parts. It's like building a pyramid of cards higher and higher."
"We can use that." While underwater, Quenser pulled out his handheld device. "We overheard tons of information related to the Deep Optical before heading into the maintenance base in the Loyauté district. We can use some of that data here. But to use it, we have to get up on the Deep Optical first."
As he spoke, Quenser held a hand out toward Heivia.
"Hand me your knife, Heivia. The tiny little cooking knife in my survival kit isn't going to cut it here. I need your pointlessly large combat knife."
"What are you going to do with a knife!?"
"Get us something to use in place of a rope. The tungsten filters should do the trick. They're several dozen meters long and are more than strong enough to support our weight."
"Are you serious? Are you seriously thinking of using a rope to climb up that Object as it moves around the sea at over 200 kph? You'll just end up looking stupider than someone wiping out while water skiing!! And even if you do get up on it, the Deep Optical will just fling you off when it makes a wide turn!! This is not an environment conducive to rock climbing!!"
"I never said I was going to do that." After checking on the information he needed, Quenser put his handheld device away and pulled his radio out in its place. "We can just take the elevator."
As the Baby Magnum moved around at high speed, the Deep Optical moved at much slower speeds, parried with its various cannons, and bought time with its blinding weapon. All the while, a tremendous exchange of shells continued.
But then a change came over the Baby Magnum's actions.
All seven of its main cannon arms had been using the low-stability plasma cannon option, but one of them rotated like a revolver and switched over to the coilgun.
Amidst the many low-stability plasma cannon shots, a single giant metal coilgun shell was fired.
It was not targeting the Deep Optical itself. If it did, it would just end being deflected by a laser parry.
The princess was targeting the ocean surface below the Deep Optical. A crater several dozen meters across was created and a spray of water that was closer to an explosive blast than a wave dyed the air white.
The Deep Optical floated in the air using its air cushions, but it could still be greatly affected by the condition of the ocean surface.
As more and more metal shells were fired, the Deep Optical very nearly capsized.
But it managed to recover.
It fired a large number of lasers from its side to cause an explosive expansion of the air beneath the falling side of the spherical body. This pushed it back up. This momentum was used to force the craft back up from an almost 80 degree tilt.
How did the Deep Optical interpret that attack?
Had the Baby Magnum been attempting to slow the Deep Optical's evasive speed by destroying its footing?
Had the Baby Magnum been trying to damage the delicate equipment within the Deep Optical by shaking the entire Object?
Many ideas must have passed through its pilot's mind.
But all of them were wrong.
What the princess had been instructed via radio to do was...
Quenser and Heivia stood near the very top of the Deep Optical's spherical main body. The filter cloth was bent in a U shape around one of the relatively small cannons. It was supporting them in the place of a rope.
"Shit!! The surface is wet so I keep slipping! If we fall from this height, even the ocean is deadly!!"
"You should be thanking your luck that there's seawater here to slip on! If the residual heat from a laser firing was still here, we might have been turned into human torches!!"
The two had not simply climbed up the side of the spherical main body.
They did not have the time for that and even if they had attempted it, the magnetic sensors and other sensors would have detected them and they would have been immediately shaken off.
They had taken a simple shortcut.
"I can't believe you would think to wrap the filter around a cannon on the top in the instant the Deep Optical lost its balance. As always, your ideas use our lives as collateral!!"
"But thanks to that, we could use the Deep Optical righting itself to pull us to the top all at once."
The princess's attack had brought the Deep Optical down by 80 degrees. In other words, it had very nearly fallen horizontally to the ocean surface. There had only been just over 20 meters between the ocean surface and the top of the spherical main body. With a weight on the end of the filter, they had been able to throw it that distance.
"Anyway, we need to hurry to the main cannon! When the Deep Optical has had to right itself like that previously it has focused on evasion and disturbance tactics, and does not use its main cannon for a few minutes. But once its automatic scan is over, it will begin the fight anew. If that happens with us here, the radiant heat will roast us!!"
"What exactly are we going to do!? The main cannon is covered in thick armor. Our rifle and explosives can't damage it!!" shouted Heivia as he headed after Quenser.
Quenser arrived at a portion of the main cannon's base to the upper right of the Object. He pulled some Hand Axe plastic explosive from his backpack, tore off a small bit, and stuck it on the side of the base. Once he was done, he stabbed an electric fuse into it.
Heivia brought his hand to his forehead.
"That's nowhere near enough to get through Object armor!!"
"You help too, Heivia!!" shouted back Quenser as he tossed a package of explosive to Heivia. "We don't have time!! We need to set up 20 more just like what I did here!!"
"God dammit. This isn't going to do anything!!" swore Heivia as he moved up next to Quenser.
As he continued the work, Quenser said, "Make the explosives small. Don't make them too big. That would be pointless."
"What? Don't we need them to be as big as possible to have even the slightest chance of doing any damage to the armor?"
"I'm not trying to break through the surface."
They heard a metallic creaking noise.
The Deep Optical's main cannon was starting to perform minute adjustments to its aim.
"Time's up, Quenser!! If we don't get out of here, the heat'll kill us!!"
"Just 7 more!!"
"We're gonna get roasted!!"
Quenser stood up and immediately started running down the side of the spherical main body. In other words, he ran down a steep slope heading to the sea.
Heivia lost his cool.
"You have got to be kidding me! You don't have a gentler means of escape!?"
"Hurry!! If that main cannon fires, we'll be burned more horribly than a newlywed wife's home cooking!!"
After seeing Quenser run off ahead, Heivia followed suit while half in tears.
The slope of the spherical main body gradually grew steeper and Heivia's feet eventually got tangled up on each other. He just barely managed to get the footing to take one last step and leap towards the sea.
He jumped from a height of over 30 meters.
He felt weightless for a few seconds, but an unpleasant pressure soon filled his stomach.
He struck the ocean surface in the next instant. Heivia felt a shock more powerful than if he had run full tilt into a sheet of plywood.
He very nearly passed out in the ocean, but a pure white flash of light that seemed to crush his eyes forced back his consciousness.
The Deep Optical had fired its main cannon.
"Cough!! Cough cough!!"
"Heivia, you have your oxygen tank, right!? Don't panic and use it!!"
Heivia heard Quenser's advice over the radio, but he could not respond. Quenser then reached a hand over from nearby and brought the mouthpiece to Heivia's mouth.
Once Heivia had regained oxygen and calm, he wrapped his hands around Quenser's neck.
"Die!! This is why I never want to go along with your horrible plans!!"
"Stop it, Heivia!! Are you in such a panic you want to cling to a guy!? Our job isn't over yet! If we do nothing, the Deep Optical will defeat the princess!!"
"But what can we do with those tiny explosives?" asked Heivia as he finally removed his hands from Quenser's neck.
Quenser pulled out his radio and said, "Remember all the information we gathered on the Object in the Loyauté district? The Deep Optical is a mass of laser technology with unbelievable firepower, but that also means it contains a mass of delicate equipment inside. They have to worry about shocks to the outside and even the G forces created by high-speed movements."
"Just making the armor thick isn't enough to protect that delicate equipment."
Quenser moved his thumb repeatedly, and each time an explosive noise reverberated through the water.
The princess aboard the Baby Magnum heard every radio transmission between the two boys and could see the explosions.
And she probably knew the exact numbers involved better than the two idiots who had set up the explosives.
That level of explosion could not so much as scratch the Object's armor.
In fact, it was not even enough to blow up your average tank.
(What are they after? I hope that is not all they have. If so, I wasted my time helping them do it!!)
She then heard Quenser continue his explanation over the radio.
"That is why it has devices installed to electronically absorb the shocks. They keep a large gap in the armor and any shocks to the outer layer are sensed with laser vibration detectors. They can then counterbalance the shockwave running through the armor and cushion the inner armor. The shock will transfer through the countless pillars, but the lasers are faster. By cutting off any shocks that exceed the allowable limit, they can protect the delicate equipment."
"That just means their armor is more of a pain to deal with than just a thick wall, right? That just means the explosions will do even less damage!"
"Not necessarily," replied Quenser immediately as he continued the seemingly meaningless explosions.
The princess frowned as she zigzagged the Baby Magnum around.
She still could not tell what he was after.
"The laser vibration detectors are meant to detect vibrations coming in from outside, but it is best not to move around too much if you want to up the accuracy. In other words, if you have it reacting to every little vibration, you run the risk of a delayed response to a larger shock you truly need to deal with. To keep the accuracy high, the shocks too small to have any negative effects on the delicate equipment are overlooked."
As the high heat caused when the lasers passed through ran the risk of disturbing the liquid, it was likely that either a fast-acting coolant was used or the liquid prism itself was divided into cartridges. But what if vibrations came from somewhere the designers never expected?
"The explosives send just a slight shock into the armor. By pumping in small shocks like that repeatedly, we can shift the position of the delicate equipment bit by bit. It may not even amount to a hundredth of a millimeter."
"What good is something on a level only a craftsman cares about?"
"Plenty. The liquid prism collects the optical energy for the main cannon. The light is bent by intentionally altering the density of the liquid inside the container by electrochemical means. By sending repeated vibrations into it, the intentionally-altered density will become uniform. And that means..."
Each individual shock made it to the prism.
And the result was as follows:
In the next instant, the Deep Optical's main cannon became wrapped in a brilliant flash of light and disappeared.
At that moment, the energy from 8 carbon dioxide lasers within the Deep Optical's main cannon was being gathered at the base of the giant main cannon.
Lasers were emitted by exposing excited electrons to external light. The stronger that light, the stronger the emitted laser.
In a way, the Deep Optical's main cannon was a laser beam weapon that created a massive stimulated emission by pumping in the optical energy of 8 standard main cannon laser beams.
A mere mirror could not be used to gather the energy from all eight.
It required a device called a liquid prism. A special liquid inside a clear container that had its density intentionally altered electrochemically so that the light was bent like a sugar sculpture.
The liquid prism could freely bend the light with changes in the liquid's density, but without an irregularity to the density in the clear container, it could not function properly.
What would happen if a set shock was continually applied to that clear container containing a liquid with an altered density?
The answer was simple.
The shaking of the container's contents would even out the density of the liquid that was supposed to be of irregular density.
And without that irregular density, the light would no longer be bent.
The light that was supposed to be bent would pass straight through it.
And this would tear the Deep Optical's main cannon apart from the inside.
The light of the explosion assaulted Quenser and Heivia's eyeballs even through their closed eyelids.
Quenser shouted in pain, but he breathed a sigh of relief at the same time. His plan had worked. The Deep Optical's main cannon had been blown off, and the energy of the explosion had to have done serious damage to the Object as a whole. Even if the entire Object had not been destroyed, it was no match for the princess without its main cannon.
"What...?" muttered Heivia in confusion.
The Deep Optical tilted to the side. The energy from the explosion was pushing it to the side and it was beginning to capsize. Not only had the main cannon been torn apart from the inside, but it had completely melted and the armor of the main body had been torn up near where it had been.
There was no way it could continue fighting.
In fact, it was entirely possible it was too damaged to use its lasers and right itself.
And the Deep Optical did not even try to recover from its tilt.
It simply rotated around.
...Almost as if it was switching to another mode.
Its silhouette changed. The two large parts on the back of the spherical main body opened up and spread out like curved wings. It was still hovering above the surface of the water, but it was no longer using air cushions; it was using nothing but the power of lasers. Lasers were reflected between the ocean's surface and the bottom of the craft to explosively expand the air. The ends of the portions that had functioned as "legs" up until then opened up and lenses for laser weapons could be seen within.
While staring in blank shock, Heivia shouted, "It transformed!! What the hell!? Are the reactor and cockpit installed like gyroscopes!?"
They had thought it was finally over.
They had thought they could return to the maintenance base zone and continue their vacation.
"Does this mean we've only now made the Deep Optical get serious about this!?"
They had finally reached a turning point.
The Capitalist Corporations' Second Generation Object began its counterattack.
When Quenser and Heivia fought an Object, they were usually entirely ignored as actual threats by the enemy.
If the Object took actions to kill them from the very beginning and kept them in the center of its sights as a priority target, there was no way flesh-and-blood soldiers had any hope of winning.
They would be unable to run away or evade even if they tried. No cover would be of any use.
Even if the Deep Optical had escaped any trouble by transforming, it was unlikely to ignore the people who had destroyed its original main cannon.
"Shit. Here it comes. That monster is headed this way, Quenser!!" shouted Heivia, despite the fact that there was nothing the two of them could hope to do.
One of its new main laser beam cannons turned toward them. Without hesitation, an orange beam of light flew directly towards Quenser and Heivia.
Just before it did, the princess's Baby Magnum interposed itself between them and the beam.
"Quenser!!" shouted the princess.
"Can't you be worried about me, too!?" complained Heivia, but it was hardly the time for that.
The overall impression given off by the Deep Optical had changed.
While creating great explosive noises, it slid back and forth and fired laser beam after laser beam at the Baby Magnum. Its speed had undergone a great change. Before, the Deep Optical had been unable to move faster than about 200 kph, but now it was dancing around the Baby Magnum at speeds 4 or 5 times greater. It was easily handling the Baby Magnum which had proven it could handle your average Generation Two in the past.
"Shit!! What is going on!?"
"Those C-shaped wings on the back of the Deep Optical are used to reflect lasers. It uses those to intentionally detonate the air and give it quick bursts of speed. This gives it acceleration you could never hope to get with rocket boosters!!"
"I thought it avoided sudden movements because of the delicate equipment in the lasers!"
"It must want to overcome this situation even if it ends up destroying its own main system! These main cannons are likely solid-state lasers that use YAG. That's the very first optical weapon ever developed and it therefore has the simplest design."
"Solid-state lasers have high outputs but can't be fired for long, right?"
"Yes, and as you can see, it can't put out as much heat, so the princess's armor can withstand a few hits. When the previous lasers roasted the dust and moisture in the air, it created a pure white beam, but this has fallen to orange." Quenser calmly analyzed the situation. "Most likely, it fires repeatedly similar to a machinegun in order to make the best use of the short firing time. If it fires at the same spot repeatedly, it might be able to tear open the armor. However, the armor can hold up for a while if the princess makes sure it hits at skewed points."
"But either way the princess will be taken out eventually!! And once our shield is gone, we're dead!!"
Quenser thought for a bit and then took out some plastic explosive.
"Princess, how much time can you buy us against the Deep Optical?"
"Not enough to call it anything as cool as 'buying you time'."
"Just give us 10 minutes," said Quenser as he breathed a sigh of relief that she was calm enough to joke about it. "That should be enough."
The first to notice the oddity was Froleytia Capistrano as she monitored the Baby Magnum and the battlefield as a whole.
She could hardly be blamed for being confused.
An explosion had suddenly occurred amongst the frames that made up a large portion of the plant. And the explosion did not spread out evenly. It was vertical. A few of the frames were blown to pieces and a pillar of water shot a few dozen meters straight up into the air.
"Is there anything explosive there?"
"N-no! Most of the plant is filled with filters meant to collect tungsten from the ocean water. Gas turbines are used to draw in the filters, but an entirely different machine does that. It is not normally attached to them. There should be nothing explosive there."
As Froleytia received that report from the electronic simulation department, a second and third explosion occurred.
"Explosions from within the sea..."
"Even if the Legitimacy Kingdom funds it, that is essentially a civilian facility in a blank area. I have never heard of any sea mines being placed in the ocean around it. We are performing a satellite search to determine whether it is an enemy UUV or fish robot!"
Froleytia had a bad feeling about what it might be, so she opened a few new windows on her laptop.
(I need the test firing report lists for official Legitimacy Kingdom armaments...)
She called up a diagram displaying the test results of various explosives.
It contained data on the spread of the blast, fragmentation, heat, and other effects when detonated under various environments, in different forms, and under different conditions.
(How does the blast spread when the Hand Axe plastic explosive is detonated underwater?)
When she set those search conditions, detailed numerical data and a simple diagram of the spread of the blast appeared on the screen. It seemed the diagram would change in real time if she entered the amount of explosive and the depth under the water.
When Froleytia saw it, she felt a bit dizzy.
It was almost exactly the same as the pillars of water she had just seen.
"Those brats... Why in the hell are they blowing up the plant they're supposed to be protecting!?"
As Quenser detonated the plastic explosives from a safe distance, he spoke to Heivia who was looking through his rifle scope.
"How high were those!?"
"The first one was 27.1. The second was 30.5! That's just barely there, right!? How are things going on your end!?"
"Well enough. Now it's just up to the princess."
"Hey, Quenser. Our huge-breasted commander has been screaming at us over the radio for a bit now. What are we supposed to tell her?"
"You're still connected to the channel? I cut it off a while ago."
"Sometimes I am truly in awe of your guts..."
As they spoke, the two boys moved on to the next step.
Even then, the Deep Optical was trying to attack Quenser and Heivia, and the Baby Magnum was taking the hits to act as their shield.
The princess used her brilliant talents (that she had been artificially given) to keep the lasers from hitting the same spot too many times, but the entire spherical main body had begun to glow orange.
They had no time.
"Heivia, you dive down and remove the weights from the bottom of the filters! I'll cut off the filters with the knife!!"
"Tch. I'm not gonna get decompression sickness am I!?"
As the filters were cut loose, the cloth floated up near the surface of the water. Quenser cut loose several dozen, so they quickly spread out amongst the surrounding water.
Quenser contacted the princess via radio.
"I've scattered some filters packed full of tungsten. Don't pass over them!!"
"How are you going to destroy the Deep Optical with filters?"
"Isn't it obvious? The shiny surface of the filters will reflect the lasers."
However, the Deep Optical was covered in various sensors.
It had surely noticed the large number of filters floating near the ocean surface.
It made quick movements back and forth to avoid the filters. And it did so with its propulsion device that detonated the air using lasers.
The princess gasped and said, "It's no good. They have noticed them!! You cannot interfere with the lasers keeping the Deep Optical afloat!!"
"Those aren't the ones I'm after," said Quenser as he reached for the switch on his radio.
The switch that sent the detonation signal to the electric fuses for the Hand Axe plastic explosives attached to the filters.
"I'm targeting the giant wings it uses for quick turns!!"
As he shouted, several plastic explosives detonated simultaneously. Instead of spreading in every direction, the underwater explosions shot pillars of water straight up.
And they brought the shattered fragments of the filters with them.
Some of them made it within the C-shaped wings on the back of the Deep Optical's spherical main body. At the same time, powerful lasers were being reflected around within the wings causing the air to explosively expand.
The tungsten that was blown into the middle of it all threw the reflection of the lasers out of order which in turn caused a massive error in the angle of the Object's turn. And this was at the same time that the Deep Optical was making repeated small curves to avoid the filters that it had mistaken for sea mines.
In the middle of one of those quick turns, it lost its balance.
The entire Object tilted far to the side.
Before, it had used reflected lasers to detonate the air and recover, but it could no longer use that once it had transformed.
That left only one fate for the giant weapon.
It had to sink.
It could not right itself and it could not rotate 180 degrees and transform.
While sending a great spray of water into the air like someone wiping out while water skiing, the Deep Optical attempted to recover.
But then one last strike finished it off.
This strike came from a low-stability plasma cannon equipped on the Legitimacy Kingdom's First Generation Baby Magnum.
And it exploded.
With a brilliant flash of white light, a great shock rushed across the surface of the ocean.
It was not clear if it was caused by the Deep Optical sliding across the ocean surface or if it was caused by the giant explosion that occurred afterwards, but a tremendous wave spread out across the area. And the wave did not just affect the surface. Quenser and Heivia had dived down below the surface, but they were still tossed around like ice in a glass being shaken.
"Cough!! Cough cough!!"
Quenser had a stable source of air from his oxygen tank, but the sudden loss of any sense of up or down confused him so much he felt like he had forgotten how to breathe.
"Is it over?"
"We still haven't gotten the white flag signal from the Capitalist Corporations. It seems they still wish to fight," replied the princess.
"Sink their lifeboats or something. They'll change their minds once they see firsthand that nothing but a watery grave awaits them if they don't surrender here."
With that comment, Quenser headed for the bright ocean surface.
He could not think of a single reason to stay in the dark depths any longer.