HEAVY OBJECT:Volume5 Chapter 3
It was 8 PM.
The second day of the shootathlon was over and Mariydi was relaxing in the lounge of the resort hotel known as the Technopic Village. (Her coffee and cake had been prepared by her pharmacist named Stacy.) Alicia sat across from her and asked a question with a blank expression.
“Was it really necessary to go that far?”
“Are you still going on about that?”
“We have received 43 complaints from the management of Olympia Dome. They wish to know why you destroyed those UUV motorboats when they were sent to save you from the attack.”
“I thought they wanted the athletes to have the self defense capabilities to protect themselves. Both from bodyguards and the athletes’ own abilities. It was their fault for being so sloppy in how they used those UUVs.”
“Apparently each of those UUV motorboats costs 700 thousand dollars. You destroyed three of them. The management is requesting we pay for those and for the repairs to the moveable breakwater’s latch that you blew up.”
“If they don’t like it, tell them they should buy insurance next time. I could introduce them to the company my PMC air force works with.”
“That isn’t a bad idea. I think the Blue Area company I use gives you a bonus if you introduce new customers to them.”
After Alicia gave a serious response to Mariydi’s joke, Lucas Westernrose, the director from Catwalk TV, cut in.
“Hello, yes. It is a shame we were interrupted, yes.” The yellow underwater camera that had been made useless during the practice by the jamming signal was sitting on his lap and he was stroking it lightly. “That was such an excellent episode, yes, but the noise in the signal was too strong to air any of the footage, yes. If it had recorded properly, yes, yes, I could have spliced together the footage of the event and that attack and added in some effective background music to make quite a moving show.”
“…So you categorize that attack as an opportunity.”
“At this rate, even the documentary portion will be a waste, yes. Yes, if nothing happens, we have nothing to show, yes.”
While listening to Lucas, Mariydi shook her head in annoyance and spoke to Alicia.
She was returning to the original topic.
“Those UUVs were extras. Who were the original attackers?”
“The Legitimacy Kingdom for sure. We retrieved fingerprints, blood samples, and other information from the corpses you made. We are currently using that information to investigate the Legitimacy Kingdom forces here, but that is nothing more than obtaining confirmation of what we already know.”
It was not a criminal investigation, so they did not need to narrow it down to specific individuals.
Basically, they just had to gain a general idea of what world power was their enemy. That was why Mariydi was not too worried.
To her, it was nothing more than having people she already saw as her enemies undergo a class change to people she could kill with impunity.
Mariydi had saved an enemy athlete from the Information Alliance, but that did not mean she wanted to be a saint who would try to save all athletes and all soldiers equally.
She would save those she could save, but she would kill those she had to kill.
That was how the world worked in the Northern European Restricted Zone where she normally fought.
Meanwhile, the only person more exhausted than that powerful target was her bodyguard.
“Honestly, my boss from my company is mad at me because you decided to go on a rampage on your own. It’s so bad I’m a bit worried about his blood pressure. If you’re going to do something like that, at least invite me along. That way, I can at least do my duty.”
“It’s your own fault.”
“The second day brought your combined ranking up to 3rd, remember? And you were thrown off your normal pace by sticking right behind the person in 1st the entire time, which adds more muscle fatigue you will have to deal with tomorrow,” said Alicia.
“Yes, yes, to be honest, you were too level-headed and in control of everything, yes. You did so well it leaves something to be desired on the emotional side of things, yes. A moving sports story needs some kind of exciting incident, yes.”
“If you’re doing that well, give me a bite of that cake,” said the bodyguard.
“Unfortunately, Stacy brought this for me. The team shares the fees, so you need to ask Alicia since she is in charge of the funds.”
Alicia glared at the bodyguard and the man raised his hands and shook his head. He was exhausted, but he was not about to argue with that woman who took everything too seriously.
That program of a woman ignored him and said, “The sponsor says your results on the second day were excellent. They do agree with Mr. Westernrose that a bit of drama would be nice, but your excellent results are what matter most to them.”
“So blowing up an armored vehicle and fighting a group of frogmen armed with underwater rifles didn’t count as drama?”
“Anything the camera did not pick up or that cannot be shown does not count. We only care about what can be used for advertisement, not what actually happens.”
“Yes, yes,” agreed Lucas Westernrose.
He must have still been upset thinking about the ratings he could have gotten had he been able to use that footage.
If Mariydi died before the event was over, Alicia would be in trouble since she was in charge of advertising the new rifle, but her expression remained blank.
“The final day tomorrow uses bicycles.”
“That sounds easier than what I’ve had to deal with so far.”
“Hello, yes. As far as the events are concerned, yes, yes, the viewers’ focus peaks on the swimming of the second day, yes, because of the swimsuits, yes, yes. But since you insist on wearing your flight jacket all the way through, yes, you are lacking as far as that is concerned, yes.”
“If you insist on keeping that joke going any longer, you had damn well better be prepared! And the swimsuits draw more ratings than the race that determines the winner? This competition really is all about show business, isn’t it!?”
“Yes, yes, we have suggested before that they move the swimming to the final day, yes.”
“The bicycle event is not easy. For one, it has the greatest distance of the three. You must bike for 120 kilometers, so it wears down your stamina horribly. And all of the muscle fatigue from the previous days remains, so there is a large risk of pulling a muscle,” explained Alicia. “And the sharpshooting is supposedly hardest as well. After all, you must use both hands to aim the sniper rifle at the target while riding the bicycle.”
“…That is not a skill you would ever need on the battlefield.”
“This is a sport,” replied Alicia with the world’s lamest explanation. She continued speaking with her spine stretched out straight like she was performing some sort of exercise. “At any rate, tomorrow is the final day of the shootathlon. Sportsmanship does not matter at all, so please do not make even the slightest mistake so that you can achieve the best advertisement for the sponsor’s new rifle.”
Before heading back to her room in the resort hotel, Mariydi stopped by Stacy’s place. The Technopic Village that Mariydi stayed in was meant for the athletes, so her support members had to use a different hotel. Since every athlete had dozens of other people supporting them, there really was no other option.
That woman who was easily swept up in fads looked delighted at her small visitor.
“What are you here for? Do you want to give me your autograph?”
“Do you have anything I can eat for a late-night snack? Something like a hot dog would be great.”
“Oh? I thought you just finished eating dinner?”
“I’m not going to eat it now. Would you rather I wake you up in the middle of the night when I get hungry? I’m not allowed to eat or drink anything from the normal stores, remember?”
“Hmm. I guess you are a growing girl.”
“…Where do you think you’re looking?”
“But will the nutrients actually go where you want them?”
“Again, where do you think you’re looking!?”
Stacy did not seem fazed by Mariydi’s anger. She headed back into her hotel room and began looking through a refrigerator that was much too big to have come with the room.
“You said a hot dog would be fine, right?”
“It just has to be something to prevent me from being too hungry to sleep. It doesn’t have to be all that substantial.”
“It would be simplest to just take a sleeping pill, but…Hm?”
Stacy let out an odd voice while sticking her head into the refrigerator and rummaging through it.
“What is it?”
“I’m out of lettuce.”
“I don’t need any. You just need a bun and a sausage for a hot dog.”
“No!!” Despite it being 10 at night, Stacy let out a cry that rivaled the roars of the crowd in the stadium. “Lettuce is important. Incredibly important! With just a bun, butter, and a sausage, it will be way too greasy!! And then if you add ketchup and mustard, you have something that doesn’t even count as food!!”
“I was just asking for something that is anything like a hot dog.”
“Without the moist lettuce, it isn’t a hot dog!! You can’t just replace it with cabbage or something! Oh, no. I need to head to the team HQ and secure some supplies!!”
“Just give me a sausage!! That’s enough!!” shouted Mariydi, but Stacy ignored her.
She grabbed Mariydi’s hand and half-dragged her out of the hotel room.
When the bodyguard who was waiting outside in the hallway saw them, he asked, “What happened?”
“I’m learning something about Stacy’s household preferences. Dammit!!”
“…If possible, I’d like something for myself as well. Late night bodyguard work makes me hungry.”
Stacy completely ignored their conversation and continued on through the hotel with Mariydi in tow.
It seemed each team had their equipment stored in rented storage rooms located in the hotel’s basement. Capitalist Corporations guards were deployed there as well.
Stacy rummaged through an industrial refrigerator that was practically a small refrigerated room. The look in her eyes only returned to normal once she found the lettuce.
“…Hoo. Now I can make a perfect hot dog.”
“Have you completely forgotten your initial goal?” said Mariydi in shock as they headed for the elevator.
Stacy’s room was on the 20th floor, but the elevator stopped at a floor before that. It was the floor the lounge was located on. The bodyguard who was wearing a bulletproof jacket immediately raised his guard, but Mariydi found an attack unlikely. There was close to zero chance of someone gaining information on an unscheduled outing like this.
But something Mariydi was truly not expecting appeared on the other side of the elevator door.
“We can’t have that. The Technopics is full of plots and attacks, so I will escort you,” said Alicia with a huge smile.
She was trying to enter the elevator while clinging to the arm of the PR manager of the sponsor company.
Mariydi Whitewitch had continually fought in the long-drawn out wars of the Northern European Restricted Zone where the use of Objects was banned. Her expression would remain completely unchanged even while sitting atop an enemy soldier and smashing his head open with a large rock. But this sight caused her mind to go completely blank.
Alicia’s eyes met Mariydi’s as the girl’s mouth silently flapped open and closed. She then spotted the bodyguard and Stacy on the elevator. It was just an instant, but her smile definitely froze over.
Would her pride or her sense of business win out?
As a true member of the Capitalist Corporations, she chose the path that led to money.
No one had pressed the close button, but the elevator door started to close on its own. Alicia grabbed it and forced it back open.
By then her smile had completely returned and she was once more nestling up against the young PR manager from the sponsor company at the ideal angle and with the ideal strength.
“Don’t you think there isn’t enough to drink at the bar? I may not look it, but I know quite a bit about cocktails. If you like, I could make some for you in my room.”
“E-excuse me. Excuse me a moment! You are Miss Whitewitch, the athlete my company is supporting, correct!?”
While Alicia continued to lean up against him, the PR manager spoke to Mariydi.
With a suspicious look, she said, “Yes?”
“I have just been assaulted with praises for 3 hours straight. I’m a bit afraid my internal sense has been thrown off balance. If you don’t mind, could you insult me so I can realign myself?”
(As much as you act like you don’t, I take it you actually like having a beauty like Alicia clinging to you like that.)
With that thought, Mariydi looked at the man with a horribly icy look.
“So you’re some *** of a mental *** bastard who can’t get a boner without looking at a girl holding a giant gun? Get back to your dismal house and start licking a doll or something.”
The PR manager crouched down facing into a corner of the elevator.
“…Sorry. That was a bit more than I was expecting.”
“It was a request from my sponsor. I had to go all out.”
“Oh? If that is what you like, I could insult you too.”
The elevator stopped at another floor and Alicia and the PR manager headed down the hallway. After a few steps, Alicia turned back toward the elevator and threatened Mariydi and the others with a horribly obscene gesture using her thumb.
The door closed again and an awkward silence fell over the elevator.
“…I guess there really is no business you can easily make money in.”
Mariydi’s muttered words touched on one of the major truths of the Capitalist Corporations.
The next day, Mariydi Whitewitch went through her usual routine of using a fist to silence the hard rock coming from her alarm clock, drinking some carbonated water, taking a lukewarm shower, giving up her battle with the dryer, donning her yellow and black flight jacket, and moving the chair and magazine rack away from the door.
With an expression like he could not stand it, her bodyguard said, “I might be a bit more motivated in my job if you would show some sign you trusted me. This job will be over soon, so I would like at least some nice memories.”
“So you want me to thank you and call you ‘big brother’? You’re such a pervert.”
“N-nothing. Anyway, I’ll just be doing my job. I just hope I can put this final day behind me without too much trouble.”
“…Oh, well my sixth sense is warning me of danger,” said Mariydi offhandedly while looking down the hallway in both directions. “I have to eat Stacy’s breakfast, right? Should I just wait here?”
“If you want some nutrition blocks, I have some here.”
“Those things just provide you with the nutrients without filling your stomach. Don’t you feel like you’re losing out that way? On the battlefield is one thing, but this is a safe country where food is everywhere.”
“Well, they taste better than military rations. And I would hesitate to call Olympia Dome a safe country.”
“I overslept,” muttered Stacy as she pushed a room service cart their way. She did indeed look as if she had only just gotten out of bed. “So the menu for today’s breakfast was thrown together at the last second. It’s centered on toast and a salad. But I forced the needed nutrients into it, so don’t worry.”
“…I’m a bit worried about what you mean by ‘forced’.”
“Hm. I’m thankful I have these commercial nutrition blocks.”
Mariydi tried to grab the nutrition block the bodyguard was holding, but Stacy grabbed her by the back of the neck with a smile.
Mariydi gave up but continued a small bit of resistance by lightly glaring at Stacy.
“At the very least, tell me what you mixed in.”
“Hmm, do you know what ascorbic acid is?”
Since this caused Mariydi to flinch back, it seemed her knowledge was focused mainly on things related to war.
Still smiling, Stacy said, “Ah ha ha. It’s just vitamin C. Even if you have to explain something, you can alter the effect of that explanation based on the words you choose.”
As Stacy messed with Mariydi like that, Alicia walked over from the elevator hall.
This was after their encounter the night before.
They all secretly focused on Alicia to see what she would say about it.
“Good morning. Are you ready for me to go over the schedule with you?”
“Well, we were wrong to expect anything cute out of such a boring woman.”
“Hmm, Alicia doesn’t seem to mind that she’s wasting the time she has before she is too old to get married.”
They all gave voice to their varied opinions, but Alicia stood as tall as ever.
After finishing breakfast, Mariydi walked around the outer circumference of the fried egg shaped Olympia Dome. She even walked through the pedestrian area of the seven bridges of the Bifröst Arch which was one of the prime sightseeing spots.
None of the main events had begun yet, so the sightseers were still scattered out among the souvenir shops rather than in the event grounds. Children swinging around helium balloons and couples wearing T-shirts modeled after group sport uniforms were walking about. A youth who may have been looking forward to the final day of the shootathlon aimed his cameras at Mariydi. She prayed he was not just a pervert.
“I didn’t take you for the type to go sightseeing,” said Mariydi’s bodyguard, but she did not seem to care.
“I just wanted to see what is so enjoyable about it,” she replied while watching the glittering waterway spreading out beyond the handrail. “No real service is provided. It’s just a place. And yet people are willing to pay money to go there. In my time in the Northern European Restricted Zone, I have killed people in the wars caused by that type of flow of money. The total sum of money gathered in Olympia Dome is probably more than the entire financial activity related to the Northern European Restricted Zone. I wanted to see with my own eyes just what value these places have.”
“Did you find your answer?”
“I’ve learned that a lot of people have a different sense of value from me.”
No strong emotion could be seen in Mariydi’s eyes.
All that was there was displeasure over being unable to understand something.
She felt no curiosity.
With those relatively emotionless eyes, she stated her opinion.
“It makes me feel uncomfortable to know that I am a part of it as an athlete. I have a feeling I have no business carrying the burden of a portion of that economic activity when I do not even understand its value. But nevertheless, my actions have an effect on the ratings and intensify negotiations over broadcasting rights. It may not be the same as what I am used to, but this is a battlefield that revolves around economic activity. I would be lying if I said I did not feel a responsibility to comprehend the true nature of this competition so I can play my role better.”
Mariydi’s expression was perfectly serious as she said that.
In her opinion, one should completely crush an enemy and it was a common courtesy to give your all against any enemy.
Stacy the pharmacist had previously joked about Mariydi being at “that age” while at the Bifröst Arch.
Coincidentally, a similar opinion floated up in the bodyguard’s mind.
(The value of the athletes here can change just by overtaking another athlete in popularity, so the cameras are often attempting to get shots that look like something from a pin-up model’s image video. The design of the uniforms often takes that into account. But it may be better not to mention that to someone her age that likes everything to be nice and clean.)
The bodyguard kept his mouth shut based on the double reasoning that real adults explained away their own weaknesses using the reasoning that staying silent was the adult thing to do.
His bodyguard PMC had been hired to resolve any problems, but he was not about to cause extra problems that could be avoided.
After using up the rest of her free time, Mariydi headed outside the Technopic Village resort hotel. She was headed out to tune up the sports bicycle she would be using for the third day of the shootathlon.
“Catwalk TV sure is heavily equipped this time. I think you stand out more than I do.”
“Yes, yes, yes. We lost such excellent footage due to the jamming last time. Yes, we want to be perfectly defended against that this time, yes,” said Lucas Westernrose while using hand signals to give instructions to several cameramen who were carrying devices large enough one would think they could shoot through a tank’s armor.
At first glance, it sounded as if they were enthusiastic about their work, but…
“Are you that intent on filming me getting shot?”
“Hello? We are not so imprudent that we would use a performer as bait to get footage of a lion. Yes, but if we do not keep things at the line of the performer very nearly getting eaten, we would not have a show, yes, yes.”
While operating a handheld device, Alicia broke straight through that conversation with a mechanical voice.
“Basically, you will be using the kind of bicycle used for road races. It is against the rules to attach any electronic devices such as sensors or gyros. But we have received permission to add weights to aid in manual control, so it should be much less likely to fall over than a normal bicycle.”
Mariydi carefully observed the bicycle that had J-shaped handlebar grips and was specially designed to incline forward.
“The back wheel has 7 gears and the pedal axle has 5 for a total of 35 different options. However, repeated extreme gear changes over a short period could cause the chain to come loose. You can only learn its limits via experience.”
“Okay. So you’re telling me to intentionally mess up during practice?” Mariydi swung her right leg up and over the back wheel to straddle the bicycle frame. “I can be pretty flashy with it, but is this from a sponsor too?”
“It was provided by one, but a fairly low rank one. As a general rule, the size of the sponsor’s name on your flight jacket directly correlates to the priority we give that sponsor. You need not forcibly appeal to the abilities of the bicycle. Focus primarily on the rifle.”
“…So I have to figure the specifics out for myself,” muttered Mariydi in annoyance as she began pedaling that high quality bicycle that probably cost more than 10,000 dollars.
A Catwalk TV cameraman followed behind Mariydi filming her from some kind of electric unicycle.
They were on a large circular cycling course located just outside the central dome facility of Olympia Dome.
The Technopics was a competition in which many interests crossed paths and it was largely functioned as a proxy war, but that cycling course was quite a comfortable place for Mariydi with the ocean breeze wrapping around her.
(Dammit… Maybe I should just run off…)
Mariydi gave a small bit of serious thought to an idea that could very well make her a wanted criminal, but she still had enough sense to realize it was an unrealistic idea. She repeatedly changed gears to intentionally knock the chain loose, checked on the quickest method to fix the chain, and let go with both hands to mime holding a rifle while pedaling. Like that, she gathered all the information she needed for the actual event. It was tedious work and she was doubtful any kind of narration played over it could turn it into a profitable television show.
Her bodyguard asked a question from an electric machine similar to a golf cart running alongside her.
“How are you feeling?”
“That’s one horribly lame vehicle you’re riding around.”
“Well, this is a cycling course. You’re only allowed to use certain types of vehicles. Or would you prefer I sit behind you on the bike?”
“It’s a road race bike, so it has no room for anyone else. But if you want to have your crotch destroyed by the back wheel, I won’t stop you.”
“So what’s it like trying to shoot while pedaling a bike? I just can’t imagine trying it.”
“It’s going to be difficult to keep my balance while peering down the scope.”
“Yeah, humans use their sight to keep their balance. I guess it’s the same as how it gets a lot harder to balance on one leg if you close your eyes.”
“Don’t act like you understand. Closing your eyes just cuts off all information. Peering down a scope gives you a completely new set of information. Pedaling a bike while aiming for a target in a perpendicular direction is going to be a real pain in the ass.”
“…Well, I’m just glad I don’t have to do it.”
Mariydi was tempted to shoot him for how casual he was about it, but unfortunately she did not have a firearm on her.
As she continued pedaling the bicycle, Alicia spoke over the piezoelectric receiver in her ear.
“The final day of the shootathlon begins at 2 PM. Direct sunlight is at its strongest during that time period. Please be careful.”
“What, are you telling me to put on sunscreen?”
“I am talking about your stamina,” replied Alicia.
Mariydi laughed scornfully at that.
The set cycling course was 120 kilometers long. She supposed that must qualify as heavy labor in a safe country protected by an Object.
The Northern European Restricted Zone had no such guaranteed safety, so it was not too unusual to be told to run over 300 kilometers across an unpaved mountain path.
Alicia had not noticed her expression because they were speaking via radio, but the bodyguard could see it.
“You sure are confident,” he said.
The look on her face must have appeared charming because she heard the sound of the Catwalk TV camera lens adjusting its focus.
Mariydi ignored it and replied, “I simply haven’t found anything to worry about in the specs of the equipment. If I’m worried about anything, it’s about possible interference during the event itself.”
“Once it begins, there will be no large scale interference. It would be simple enough to pull off, but any mistake would be caught by countless cameras and bring international shame on them. Also, anyone with an interest in interfering also wants their own athlete to do well. If they go too far, the event itself could be cancelled,” explained the bodyguard in a tone so cheerful it sounded like he would start whistling at any moment. “The shootathlon ends today. Once the results are recorded, they will have no more reason to interfere. And it would be difficult for them to manage anything during the event itself.”
“That the most dangerous time is right now. If we can get through this safely, the risk will be almost entirely gone.”
The large camera suddenly moved in closer as if it had been waiting for those words.
And with no unofficial interference, the result was as clear as day.
Once the award ceremony was over, Mariydi had stood in front of the cameras and microphones for a while with her pure gold medal and her trophy modeled after a globe. She had tried to get Alicia to put an end to such annoyances, but that woman merely stood tall, said “What do you think this competition is for? Go and advertise that rifle as much as you can”, and then left.
As a result, Mariydi was sitting in the back seat of an off-road vehicle feeling more intensely exhausted than after the event itself and rubbing her eyes to recover from the strobe light effect of all the camera flashes.
Mariydi pressed the heavy trophy into the hands of the bodyguard sitting next to her and spoke into the piezoelectric receiver still in her ear.
She was speaking to Alicia who had already returned to the hotel.
“Yes. First place in the women’s shootathlon is not bad at all.”
“I think this is when you’re supposed to say ‘good job’.”
“It is still too soon for that. You still have a photo shoot for advertisements in specialty magazines, an interview for a military website, a gathering of medal winners, and other places to show up and smile. You need to speak the sponsor’s name at least once every three minutes and keep the rifle in the frame at all times.”
“What a pain. The PMC never taught me how to train my facial muscles. I think I’m going to have some muscle pain tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, the off-road vehicle Mariydi was in headed out.
And it was not alone. It was part of a convoy made up of 6 vehicles. As soldiers holding light machineguns had their upper bodies sticking out from the roofs, it was certainly not how one would expect an athlete in a “peaceful festival” would travel.
The inside of the vehicle had not had enough space for Catwalk TV’s large cameras, so Director Lucas Westernrose was filming Mariydi from the side using a small CCD.
While fiddling with the globe-shaped trophy Mariydi had tossed him, the bodyguard said, “Your safety is more or less assured for the time being.”
“Yes, yes, yes. I had thought you were just an unlucky draw that might be able to just barely make ends meet, yes, yes. I never thought you would make it this far! Since you also saved Erie Greenhat of the Information Alliance, yes, you should draw in plenty of viewers, yes!!”
Mariydi folded her arms and glared at her bodyguard.
“…Your contract isn’t over yet. Don’t let your guard down.”
“I will of course do my best, but the shootathlon is over. No one would gain anything by attacking you now, so no one’s going to try it. For all intents and purposes my bodyguard duty is over.”
“So the event is over,” muttered Mariydi as she watched the scenery outside the window.
The bodyguard grinned and said, “Are you going to miss all this?”
“I’m just sad my time off is coming to an end.”
“You’re at least going to stay in Olympia Dome until the closing ceremony, right? You can enjoy a pure vacation until then. Eat as much delicious food as you like and just lie out in the sun. With the event over, you’re freed from Miss Stacy’s dietary restrictions and your sponsors are paying for all your expenses. I’m sure they won’t turn anything down after you won the gold.”
“…Maybe I should try the world’s three greatest delicacies all at once.”
“You’re quite a childish ace pilot if you think the more expensive the delicacy, the more delicious they are.”
“Hello? I will be using that, yes. Those surprising faults in an otherwise perfect person can score a lot of points, yes, yes.”
“I’m just so used to the battlefield that I have no idea how to live extravagantly,” commented Mariydi offhandedly.
Since she had won the gold medal, she could spend her remaining time as a hero. Drawing all the unwanted attention was exhausting, but she would at least be given excellent service without having to bother with being courteous or tipping.
(In the camera frame at least, I’m being idolized as a well-liked mascot that is worth more than just jacking off to. I guess I should at least live up to that.)
Mariydi stretched her arms up to stretch her back and said, “Then how about we go around to a few restaurants once we get back to the Technopic Village.”
“If you’re up for that, you must be healthy enough.”
“Since the sponsors are paying for everything, maybe I should go find a casino.”
“Call me if you’re playing roulette. I’ll give you some good luck as long as I get a 10% cut.”
As those two members of the Capitalist Corporations spoke, a fairly serious look appeared in their eyes.
“Hmm, but filming is not allowed in casinos… Hello?” muttered Lucas Westernrose, but they ignored him.
Just as they began working up a plan to get around Alicia who held the purse strings, something happened.
The off-road vehicle in the convoy driving directly in front of Mariydi’s was blown directly to the side.
At first, an orange light was burned into her eyes.
The sound of an explosion rang out and the supposedly bulletproof windshield had countless cracks run through it. The pressure Mariydi felt in her chest stopped her breathing for a short moment.
The off-road vehicle that had exploded in front of them continued on and struck a coconut tree on the side of the road.
Mariydi’s senses could not keep up with the fact that her own off-road vehicle had come to a quick stop.
Despite how much Lucas Westernrose had wanted something exciting to happen, he lost his cool and dropped his camera as soon as it happened while he was in the middle of it.
Mariydi gave voice to what had happened…no, what was still happening in front of her.
“Was that a recoilless rifle!? Is this an attack!?”
The bodyguard used a hand to cover Mariydi’s mouth and spoke harshly into his radio.
“Second was taken out. First, Third, calculate out where the attack came from and begin a barrage! Fourth, Fifth, get between my Zero while we get out of here!! Can you hear me, First, Third!? Dammit!!”
Another narrow trail of smoke cut in a straight line through the air and struck the side of the leading vehicle. Sinister explosive flames spewed out as the off-road car’s frame and the lives within were blown apart.
Mariydi immediately made up her mind.
“I’m getting out.”
“Are you crazy? It may not look it, but this vehicle has the bare minimum of bulletproofing. Surely all your time in the Northern European Restricted Zone was enough to tell you how dangerous it would be to get out!”
“Can that bulletproofing stop an anti-tank recoilless rifle!? A half-assed shield is nothing but a restraint. And they’re trying to find the vehicle I’m in. At this rate, all of your men will be taken out in the confusion of this preemptive strike!!”
“Your sentiments are moving, but we aren’t going to use the person we were hired to protect as a decoy after getting paid. That would be too disgraceful.”
“Your sense of duty is admirable, but I can’t let innocent lives get caught up in this. Even if he loves nothing better than the misfortune of others, this man from Catwalk TV is still from a safe country. If I don’t get out, every single vehicle will be blown to pieces. And this one is no exception!”
“Sorry, but our job is to keep you alive and nothing more. If you are trying to blur the line between professional and amateur, give it up.”
“I see.” Mariydi turned off the safety of the handgun she was holding. “Then I’ll just have to do this on my own. You can say you took the best action as a bodyguard, but that it failed because I panicked.”
“Shit!? Not again. When did you swipe that from my holster!?”
Mariydi ignored the bodyguard and opened the bulletproof door. She crouched down while quickly moving away from the convoy on her own.
The enemy reacted immediately.
Smoke from the recoilless rifles was still floating in midair, but she could see the face of a man holding an assault rifle peering out from the thicket the smoke led back to. However, Mariydi fired the handgun again and again before he could fire.
“Leaving a spot after firing is one of the basics, you idiot.”
She could tell multiple people were moving behind cover. Before those people could send bullets her way, Mariydi quickly leapt into a nearby building.
She knew she could not defeat all of them with just that handgun.
She had two options.
She could focus on running away without worrying about defeating this enemy.
Or she could acquire more firepower somewhere and begin a counterattack.
The real problem was that the decision did not entirely lie in Mariydi’s hands. Unlike a certain island nation, civilians were allowed to carry guns, so finding one would probably not be too difficult. But even so, the idea of a counterattack was out of the question if she could not find any nearby.
Suddenly, the deep sound of gunfire repeatedly stabbed into Mariydi’s ears. At first she assumed the enemy had brought out a light machinegun, but she was wrong.
The bodyguard had gotten out of the off-road vehicle and was running her way. He had removed the light machinegun from the roof of the vehicle and was firing it from the hip to hold back the attackers.
After he charged into the entrance to the building, he tossed his assault rifle to Mariydi and wiped sweat from his brow.
“I’m going along with your plan, so how about a tip?”
“…You’re still focused on making money?” commented Mariydi in annoyance.
She lowered the zipper of her yellow and black skintight flight jacket, revealing some white skin, and reached a hand inside. Mariydi usually only used cards and electronic money, but she always carried a bit of change for the time when she had to tip someone. In the Capitalist Corporations, it was common knowledge that a customer who did not tip would not even be told where the exit was.
Meanwhile, the bodyguard lightly shook his head.
“To be honest, this is well beyond my normal business operations. A bit of change isn’t going to cut it.”
“Then what do you want?”
“A magic incantation.”
“Something like ‘Chichin Puipui’. You can think of it as an activation password if you like.”
When the bodyguard whispered that magic incantation into her ear, Mariydi’s expression grew all the more dubious.
But they would end up surrounded by the attackers if they stayed where they were for too long.
She lightly clenched her right fist, brought it up to her mouth, and spoke in a delicate voice while looking up at the bodyguard.
“Big brother, will you stay with me to the end?”
“That’ll do it. I’ll set one foot inside hell for that!!”
Mariydi sighed and returned to her normal voice.
“Sigh. After all this time, it turns out you’re just a pervert.”
“No, you’ve got it all wrong. I actually have a little sister who is quite a bit younger than me. We were separated thanks to our parents’ divorce, and you remind me of her a bit.”
“That’s hard to deal with in a different way from a pervert. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to say…”
(But it does seem to have given him a boost of motivation, so I’ll work him like a horse.)
After that added thought, Mariydi said, “Anyway, what happened to your men?”
“I told them to start a barrage to buy time and then retreat. Their fate is up to luck and their own skill now.”
That sounded coldhearted, but one could not get through a battlefield on guts alone. Ordering them to fall back at their own individual discretion gave some hope to those men who were at a horrible disadvantage. Whether they could make use of that opportunity literally was up to luck and their own skill.
“What about the man from Catwalk TV?”
“It seems my men are surprisingly overflowing with customer service. For a fee of course.”
“Did they force some exorbitant price on him during those explosions?”
“There are some businesses that only pay well in situations like this.” The bodyguard fired a burst of light machinegun fire out of the building’s entrance. “The bigger problem is you. What is even going on here? The event is already over. Even if they kill you now, it won’t change the results.”
Mariydi then heard a familiar voice over her piezoelectric receiver.
It was Alicia who had returned to the hotel ahead of them.
“I have heard what happened. Can you determine the identity of the attackers from the weapons they are using and their method of attack?”
“The recoilless rifles looked like a Legitimacy Kingdom base. But there is a precedent of the Faith Organization using plundered weapons, so we can’t trust that. I think they did even have anti-tank weapons made to match the Legitimacy Kingdom caliber.”
“So are they Legitimacy Kingdom? Or are they Faith Organization?”
“I’m saying I don’t know! It could also be the Legitimacy Kingdom using Faith Organization weapons!!”
“…That will make it difficult to figure out what is going on.”
“Why am I being targeted now? The results of the event have already been decided!”
“We have a guess.” Alicia had to have been able to hear the gunfire and explosions, but she replied as if it was completely unrelated to her. “Generally, the shootathlon results cannot be overturned once they have been announced, but there are a few exceptions. The results of a doping test after the event or inappropriate conduct at the award ceremony are two examples.”
“They take the medal from you?”
“I do not know if it is actually possible, but some idiot might still try it as a last resort. They might be planning to kidnap you and torture you in front of a camera so the entire world can see you pathetically begging for your life.”
“Well, I doubt they would actually strip you of your medal for that, but it is possible. So please try not to get captured. And please do not beg for your life. At the very least, face your fate bravely as a true representative of our nation. That should at the very least preserve the results of the event. If any of the sponsors’ names or the rifle appear in any of this, we will go as far as to rip out your organs or your genetic code to compensate for the losses.”
“To hell with that!! How fucked up is this sports festival!? I’d rather head right back into the battlegrounds of the Northern European Restricted Zone!!”
“What are you going to do?” asked her bodyguard while he swapped out the box magazine for the light machinegun.
Mariydi looked around grimly.
“I thought any interference would only be during the event, so I thought I just had to make it through these few days. But if they’re trying to strip me of my medal after the fact, the danger could continue for months. That’s why I want to crush the source of the danger while I can see it.”
“My personal suggestion would be to run away, but I’ll stick with your recklessness as long as my contract lasts.”
“Heh,” laughed Mariydi as she pulled the cocking lever of her assault rifle. “Well, I at least have a proper weapon now. That means I can choose the other option.”
Who has the advantage, the one being chased or the one doing the chasing?
At this point, it was about 50/50. No one could say who had the advantage and who had the disadvantage.
And that meant this was the point at which that could be controlled.
And what would change it was quite simple.
It hinged on whether one could read one’s enemy’s upcoming actions or not.
Mariydi and her bodyguard spoke while running down a flight of stairs leading to the basement of the building.
“Can you call up a diagram of this area!?”
“We just ran underground where I can’t get a signal,” replied the bodyguard while operating a handheld device with one hand. “But Olympia Dome is a giant artificial island, so its underground…or rather, its inside was made into a large scale facility where they concentrate the pipes, network, and other necessary infrastructure. The layout is pretty complicated, but the walls should at least be strong enough to block a bullet.”
The bodyguard showed the handheld device’s screen to Mariydi.
It seemed he had just barely managed to download a diagram of the layout before losing the signal.
Mariydi wrinkled her brow and said, “The entrance.”
“Yeah, that would be the standard method.”
Mariydi and the bodyguard passed through the straight passageway heading out from the entrance they had come through and stopped once they turned a corner. After moving that bare minimum of distance down the passageway, they turned the barrels of their guns toward the entrance.
They would concentrate their fire when the pursuing attackers headed down the stairs.
By falling back while their enemy was then overcome with confusion, Mariydi and the bodyguard could quickly head even further down the passageway without worrying about the pursuers getting too close.
They would do the same at the next corner.
And the next corner.
But at the corner after that, they would hide an explosive device instead.
By ambushing the enemy at every corner they absolutely had to pass through to continue their pursuit, Mariydi and the bodyguard slowly but surely reduced the number of attackers with their sporadic gunfire. Whenever they estimated the enemy would have figured out the pattern, they would set up a trap. Each time they did that, they would dull the attackers’ instincts.
While they calmly retreated some more, the bodyguard asked, “What do you think?”
“The Faith Organization.”
“But the rifle bullets seem to be a Legitimacy Kingdom model.”
“For the most part, they aren’t using their lights in the dark. Using the lights offensively to blind the enemy is a Faith Organization tactic.”
In an age in which firearms and goggles were equipped with sensors, flashlights were no longer necessary. Those that still liked to use them did so more to blind the enemy with the bright light than to hold back the darkness.
While looking a bit impressed, the bodyguard said, “So when do you think they’ll catch on?”
“When people think they are the pursuers, a counterattack only makes them angry. As long as you keep throwing more branches on a fire, you can keep it burning forever.”
That was exactly why Mariydi and the bodyguard were choosing to continually fall back.
It was like someone who kept putting more and more money into a crane game or like someone who just could not stop playing poker in a casino.
That feeling of being just a bit away from one’s goal would keep the person playing. They would not realize their mistake until their wallet was empty.
It was because the repeated losses were so small and seemingly insignificant that the desire to win them back was greater than the desire to cut your losses.
“No matter how much training they undergo, people are still people in the end.”
“What? Is it over already?” said the bodyguard as he fired his light machinegun around the corner and at the final few people.
Mariydi told him to stop with a gesture and then fired her assault rifle down the passageway.
She did something different this time.
Mariydi blew away all but one of the pursuers and then fired at the wall near the survivor, sending orange sparks everywhere.
She was clearly trying to fill him with fear.
When he saw the Faith Organization attacker fall into a panic and truly start to flee, the bodyguard let out a bewildered voice.
“Should you really have done that? By not finishing them all off, you now have to live in fear of another attack.”
“I did that specifically to avoid having to do that,” said Mariydi while cautiously peering down the passageway. “We have no idea how large an organization we’re dealing with. If they have several other units prepared, slaughtering this one does not eliminate the threat. That is why I let one get away. …He can lead us back to their headquarters.”
“What a pain,” said the bodyguard while shaking his head.
She would expose her own body to the threat of being shot to keep any civilians or members of her bodyguard team from harm, but she also showed no mercy in crushing those who she saw as an enemy. He could not tell if she liked or disliked blood.
Mariydi glanced over at the bodyguard.
“And be careful. Pursuing the fleeing attacker means we have to head back through the passageways we booby trapped. You don’t want to fall victim to your own trap, do you?”
Mariydi and the bodyguard climbed a stairway back up to the surface and exited the building. Reinforcements from the bodyguard PMC had already arrived, so they borrowed one of their vehicles. Instead of a professional military off-road vehicle, it was a standard 4-door car that would not look out of place driving through a normal city.
The Faith Organization attacker whose heart had fallen firmly into the grasp of his survival instincts after all of his allies had been killed was not paying any attention to his surroundings.
After driving 10 kilometers in a vehicle of his own, he arrived at a rental storehouse far removed from the center of the island.
The attacker got out of his vehicle, but Mariydi took action before he could approach the door to the storehouse.
She approached silently from behind and kicked the back of his knees to throw him off balance. Before he could turn around or shout out, she wrapped her arms around his neck and mercilessly snapped it.
“Excellent work,” commented the bodyguard.
“The scary thing about the Technopics is that this didn’t count as a crime.”
“Yeah, self defense is defined pretty broadly here. Of course, without that broad definition, we wouldn’t have been attacked in the first place”
Mariydi searched through the pockets of the limp dead body and found a key. She cautiously approached the storehouse and unlocked the small personnel entrance located next to the giant shutter.
She glanced over the inside with her assault rifle at the ready, but it did not seem anyone was there.
(There are signs of people heading in and out very recently.)
She and the bodyguard checked around inside the storehouse, but found no one hiding inside. They had either all headed out for some mission or another or they had fled for fear of their comrade leading someone back to them.
“It doesn’t look like they left any ‘presents’ for us,” said the bodyguard while lowering his light machinegun.
He was referring to explosives.
If they had detected Mariydi and the bodyguard’s actions and fled, it was very likely they would have left behind some kind of booby trap. That meant they had probably left for other reasons.
“Was that all of them? Or are there more? We can’t be sure with just this.”
“We can just keep an eye on this place. My men can set up a perimeter.”
While listening to the bodyguard, Mariydi looked around the inside of the storehouse. Several of what appeared to be some kind of equipment were covered by thick plastic sheets. She had already checked underneath quickly while searching for any “presents”.
She removed the cords holding the sheets on and removed them.
Inside she found…
“A VTOL fighter? Is it a Legitimacy Kingdom S/G-31?”
“The exterior is just made to look like it,” said Mariydi the ace pilot after giving it a careful look. “The Faith Organization Harpuiai uses the same basic frame. It was designed by an engineer that defected from the Legitimacy Kingdom after all.”
She circled around to the back and spotted the distinctive paddle for the jet engine’s vector thrust nozzle. It was definitely not from the Legitimacy Kingdom.
It had been a patent issue over the shape of that paddle that led the engineer to defect.
“So it’s a Faith Organization design?”
“This fighter has had its exterior modified to hide its identity. It’s possible the inside was modified for the same reason. This isn’t enough to say whether it is Legitimacy Kingdom or Faith Organization.” Mariydi tapped the fighter’s body with a loosely clenched fist. “They just had to make sure we couldn’t tell what world power they’re from. As long as we don’t have 100% certainty, each world power can avoid any possible responsibility with the political exchanges they’re so good at.”
“I thought you had determined the unit we took out was from the Faith Organization.”
“Based on their methods. They definitely acted like a Faith Organization unit…but I can’t deny the possibility that those were soldiers from a different organization that mastered those movements with help from former Faith Organization soldiers, anyone else who had undergone Faith Organization training, or their intelligence department’s analysis of the Faith Organization’s training methods.”
The armored vehicle and submarine covered by the other plastic sheets had been made to look like Capitalist Corporations and Information Alliance models respectively. Those false exteriors were not simply meant to deceive. The intent was to leave traces of different world powers to make it impossible to tell which power they were from.
The bodyguard sighed.
“We can’t tell from this.”
“We actually might be able to.” Mariydi looked over at the maintenance tools. “They’ve added elements from multiple world powers to the fighters and armored vehicles that will be seen on the surface, but they would have had no reason to do the same to the equipment that would never see the light of day. We can figure out which power is behind this by checking out their military tools.”
“So what’s the verdict?”
“…In all likelihood, they’re from the Faith Organization. More specifically, from the Greek mythology branch.”
Mariydi used her piezoelectric receiver to ask Alicia, but Alicia replied sounding confused.
“The Greek mythology branch had no decent athletes in the shootathlon. Even if they eliminated all of the medalists, they would not gain anything.”
“Then what is going on?”
“I am not from a criminal group, so I could not tell you. But if I had to take a guess, the goal of their attack is something other than stripping you of your medal.”
Mariydi looked around once more and then began searching through the storehouse once more.
As she did, she realized something that should have been there was missing.
“There’s no computer. Modern fighters and armored vehicles have advanced precision equipment installed, so a computer is needed for maintenance.”
“So they took all that with them?”
“…I can only think of one possibility,” muttered Mariydi before exiting the storehouse.
She once more searched the corpse of the attacker lying collapsed outside the entrance. She found a handheld device in the inner pocket of his jacket.
It was locked with a password, but it was done with mere free software. She used a special method to lock up the functions needed for the security and rebooted it with the password lock mode turned off altogether.
“Does a pilot need to know how to do that?”
“I use this sort of device to regulate the fly-by-wire system. When the device screws up and won’t do what I tell it, I sometimes have to perform a soft reset.”
The device did not have much data in it, but it did have a few addresses leading to special links and a list of authentication codes. It seemed all the primary data was stored on a server accessed via the internet. Mariydi had no idea how long she would have access, so she just downloaded all of it.
The Blank will stand out too much. The Blank is nothing more than preparations for the real plan. We cannot allow anyone to grow suspicious at this stage.
A progressing problem will be used for the Blank.
We have information that the Legitimacy Kingdom is attacking an athlete from the Capitalist Corporations. We can use this for the Blank.
Camouflage of the needed firearms and armored vehicles has been completed in time. They will now be used for the Blank.
The bodyguard peered over Mariydi’s head to read the text on the screen from above.
“This is referring to us, isn’t it?”
“It certainly looks like they aren’t trying to strip me of my medal. From the looks of this, they aren’t even really targeting me at all.”
She searched through the files for a bit and found data on that.
Most of Olympia Dome’s security is made up of unmanned weapons such as UAVs, UGVs, and UUVs.
If they are not crushed, the real plan will be difficult to execute.
The unmanned weapons do not run on a completely autonomous program. They are constantly manually controlled from a central control room.
The antennae are located all over the island.
Their output is powerful enough that a normal jamming signal will likely fail to completely block the signal.
But to bring together all of the data from the countless antennae, hubs are needed to control the path of the data like traffic lights.
If a hub is destroyed, the unmanned weapons will be temporarily unusable over a rather large block.
Mariydi narrowed her eyes.
“How many recoilless rifles were fired when our convoy was first attacked?”
“I don’t remember. I was too busy trying not to die.”
“So that’s what that was. Even if they fired at a different facility amid the confusion, it would still be deemed an attack on our convoy.”
“But this Blank isn’t their main goal, right? This said it was just preparation. What is their real plan?”
“Here we go. I found it.”
Mariydi scrolled down on the handheld device’s screen.
Every last trace of the original sports festival has been lost from the Technopics.
We must put an end to these ruins that are swollen with nothing but depravity and proxy wars.
We of Athletica will return this festival to the original form of the Olympics created by our ancestors from our homeland of Greece.
That seemed to be the name of the organization that was at the center of the current turmoil.
To do that, we must utterly destroy the Technopics and the massive amount of profit it produces as well as Olympia Dome that runs the festival.
Olympia Dome is an impregnable facility guarded by Objects from the great world powers of the Faith Organization, the Legitimacy Kingdom, the Information Alliance, and the Capitalist Corporations. We do not think it can be brought down with a frontal attack.
To sink this giant artificial island, the system that supports it must be used against it.
“…Now we’re getting somewhere.”
“They want to bring back the Olympic spirit? Is this Athletica we’re fighting against trying to make an enemy of the entire Technopic system?”
“But how are they going to sink the island? Four Second Generation Objects are on constant guard.”
The world powers’ Objects are officially said to be working together to guard Olympia Dome, but their actually reason for being here is to keep each other in check to prevent any single Object from attacking.
A strong stimulus could create a situation where they begin destroying each other.
Firing the first shot will be difficult.
It may be from the same world power as us, but the Faith Organization Object is not a fellow Athletica member.
That means the first shot must be fired with something other than an Object.
It does not have to be enough firepower to destroy the Object. However, it must be enough for the Elite piloting the Object to deem it a threat. It must be powerful enough for the Elite to mistake it for a bombardment from another Object or at least for something the Elite believes an Object bombardment is needed to resolve.
Did a weapon with such firepower even exist?
Object’s had armor powerful enough to withstand a direct hit from a nuclear weapon.
As Mariydi operated the handheld device, she found information on what Athletica planned.
What it said was:
In order to appeal to the fact that they have no large scale military might, Olympia Dome supplies power to its unmanned weapons from an outside source.
It uses the three giant Ocean Substation transformer ships.
The great power needed to run over 5000 unmanned weapons is transferred in the form of a laser.
Using that facility, an optical attack powerful enough to damage an Object can be achieved.
We will eliminate the threat of the unmanned weapons with the Blank and use the gap in security to hijack the Ocean Substation.
If the Ocean Substation’s high output laser is targeted at an Object, those monsters of the world powers will then begin destroying each other on their own.
And Olympia Dome will be caught in the middle.
Enemy Forces 3
Ramil Scofflaw exited the civilian helicopter storehouse and Iris Aggravation jogged after her carrying a small computer.
Iris spoke to the woman who was not turning around.
“Lieutenant Colonel Scofflaw! The assault members used for the Blank have all been taken out and Motel B they were using has been taken by the Capitalist Corporations!!”
“The destruction of the hub means the Blank was a success. A large area has been created in which Olympia Dome’s unmanned weapons cannot be used. Hijacking the Ocean Substation will not be difficult now. We will continue the operation, Warrant Officer Aggravation. We still have Motel A here and as well as Motel C. If we redistribute our resources, we have enough.”
Three fighters with VTOL ability had been dragged out to the large concrete plaza in front of the storehouse.
When the unmanned weapons were functioning, they would have been shot down in no time by anti-air missiles or other aerial firepower.
But that was not the case.
“First, these three Harpuiai will destroy all the defense systems on the Ocean Substation’s deck. After that, we will board the ship via helicopter and hovercraft. …Don’t overdo the initial attack. This will all be for naught if we sink the Ocean Substation.”
It may have been because they had entered the final stage of their plan that strength had entered Ramil’s voice.
Or perhaps it was because she was a pilot and the topic had shifted to her field of expertise.
Ramil pointed at the screen of the small computer Iris held.
“The 20 minutes after the initial attack are what count. We can’t stretch this out beyond that. The Blank has thrown Olympia Dome into confusion. To pull the trigger of a war, we must strike the decisive blow against the Object while information is still confused.”
“We will be in charge of taking over the Ocean Substation, but your skills and the program in that computer are needed to weaponize the laser. Do you understand, warrant officer?”
“Of course. We cannot allow the peaceful festival created by our culture to be sullied any further.”
The competition known as the Olympics had been lost.
All that remained was a development race of textile material science for the sportswear and pharmaceuticals for the doping, as well as a trade show of guinea pigs created in human experiments. No wholesome sportsmanship remained and the exhilaration of the entire world growing excited as a single whole was gone.
What was moving about the development of athletes to win gold medals in exchange for shorter lifespans?
What was wholesome about a sports competition where, no matter how hard they worked, an athlete that had dropped below 10th place would be violently attacked by the people as soon as they arrived home because the people blamed them for the bets they had lost?
“…We will bring it back,” muttered Ramil quietly but with a sense of intimidation that seemed to stab into the human spirit. “We will crush this rotten festival of death and bring back the peaceful festival we once had. That festival that allowed us all to forget about the boundaries of language, religion, nationality, and race between us, even if it was just for a short time. We will bring it back.”
They knew that their means would involve the lives of everyone on Olympia Dome, the thousands of athletes and millions of spectators, and that it would bring about further tragedy by causing additional wars using Objects around the world, but that did not change Ramil and the others’ minds.
They had no duty to protect the lives of those who profited from that rotten competition or those who enthusiastically held gambling tickets in hand while watching those filthy events.
A large number of people gathered around Ramil.
They were the pilots of the fighters, the assault team that would be brought in on the helicopters and hovercrafts, the analysts who managed data in front of the computers, and the maintenance team for the weapons. They were all focused on Ramil.
She had already decided what words she would use to inspire them.
Ramil lifted a hand in to the air as if she was holding out a cup of alcohol and spoke the words.
Those words symbolized the reason for Athletica’s existence.
“Glory to the festival.”