HEAVY OBJECT:Volume8 Chapter 2
Chapter 2: Where Has the New Model Disappeared To? >> Minesweeping Battle in the Far West Pacific District
Mission Report A-01
March 17 – 1030 Hours
Ocean of the Far West Pacific District – Disguised Cruiser Scarlet Princess
“Moss Green sank the Ame-no-Darin.”
Frolaytia spoke from the disguised cruiser that had killed those pirates.
More specifically, she was lying face up on one of the beach chairs lined up by a pool on the front of the triple deck.
The two idiots Quenser and Heivia were sitting next to that beach chair. From the princess’s location not far away, they looked a lot like the kind of people who need certain special conditions met for arousal.
The Scarlet Princess would be unable to continue luring out pirates if it was seen working alongside the military, so its entire exterior was swapped out between each mission in order to change its coloring and silhouette. It did not matter if someone managed to snap a picture of it.
“And it was all thanks to some idiots doing such a wonderful job. But the top levels of our military are tolerant and they respect both honor and order. The photographs Quenser took inside the facility and the testimony from the captured Moss Green commander have almost completely substantiated the claim that a new model of Object was constructed inside the Ame-no-Darin. You just barely scraped by this time. …But even then, that failure was only cancelled out once we added in the two Capitalist Corporations Objects the princess destroyed.”
The two idiots began trembling.
As Europeans, they were not used to sitting in the seiza style, a wonder of the East that Frolaytia had introduced them to. They could only last a few minutes on a cushion, so the hard tiles of the poolside were a living hell. To be blunt, their knees felt ready to explode.
“(What’s going on? Why is Frolaytia in sister-in-law mode!?)”
“(How the hell should I know!? I just pray she doesn’t get any older. If she still acted like this as an old woman, there’d be nothing of value left!! In fact, I’m hoping for a miracle where those giant tits get smaller as she ages!!)”
Frolaytia cut off her subordinates’ complaints with a voice that had the same effect as gently pressing stiletto heels against their hunkered backs.
But the pain of sitting like that had made them desperate enough that there was no stopping them.
“And another thing! You’re lying on a beach chair next to a luxury cruise ship’s pool, so why aren’t you in a swimsuit!? Don’t you understand how this is supposed to work!? And that goes for you too, princess!!”
The princess looked over in confusion, but Frolaytia spoke up before that airhead could say anything unnecessary.
“It is mid-March and we’re far enough out at sea for Pacific Bluefin tuna to be jumping around. The clear blue sky is chilly, so there is no reason to wear a swimsuit.”
“I’m holding you to that!! That was a set-up for a North Wind and the Sun situation!! You’ve more or less promised to wear a swimsuit if we move to the warm Southern Hemisphere! Yahoo!! Giant breasts in a slingshot swimsuit await us!!”
“Wait, Heivia. Even if it’s Frolaytia, it would be cruel to rely exclusively on her for eye candy! We need to get the princess in a micro bikini. And we can add cat ears and a tail as options!!”
A raging torrent of fleshly desires raced through the two idiots’ bodies and they felt like leaping into the air despite the uncomfortable sitting position.
They were growing a little too annoying, so Frolaytia got down from the beach chair, grabbed them by the back of the neck, and chucked them into the pool.
Extreme cold washed over their bodies and seemed to squeeze at their hearts.
The princess tilted her head a bit, but showed no intention of rescuing them.
“Habh!? Bhah!! Th-this is hopeless. There’s no chance of this turning into a love comedy!!”
“Th-th-th-th-th-this feels like a villa’s seasonal pool when it’s covered in green moss!!”
“As a commoner, it kinda pisses me off that you didn’t think of a school pool!”
“Oh, you wanna fight? You’ve got some nerve getting your clothes all wet and see-through when you aren’t even a girl!!”
As her two stupid servants started grappling in the freezing pool, Frolaytia lay back down on the beach chair and gave an order with an annoyed wave of the arm.
“If you aren’t up here in seiza position in ten seconds, you have to stay soaking up to your shoulders for the rest of the conversation.”
“Sir, yes, sir!!”
“Sir, yes, sir!!”
To escape the hell of an ice bath, they obediently obeyed their orders for once, but they regretted it three seconds after returning to their previous positions.
“I-I’m freezing!! It’s the wind! The wind is sapping my body heat!”
“Is this what you call heat of vaporization? I think my uniform’s gonna freeze!!”
“Would you rather jump back in?” asked Frolaytia with a look even icier than the winter pool.
“No thank you, ma’am!!” answered Quenser as his teeth chattered.
Heivia forgot to answer, so he was thrown back into the hellish pool.
After waiting for Heivia to splash his way back up onto land, Frolaytia started speaking seriously once more.
“Fortunately, our radar detected something giant that is likely this New Model. At first, we assumed the self-defense PMC had picked up on the attack against the Ame-no-Darin and was using a submarine to evacuate the most important equipment and personnel.”
They had picked it up on radar but not attacked.
It sounded negligent, but Frolaytia’s mission had been to intensify the Capitalist Corporations civil war surrounding the Ame-no-Darin. When too much damage to one side would bring the civil war to an end, they had been unable to blindly attack a submarine that might carry important leaders or supporters. They had also reported what they had detected, but they had not received word on whether to attack or not.
If anyone had given a bad order, it would have been recorded and responsibility would have fallen on them, so no one had given the go-sign and the decision had been left to the local commander.
In that case, they could not blame her for letting it go.
“Does that mean what I think it means about the Island Nation’s new model of Object?” asked Quenser as he raised his hand.
“It is certainly an exclusively naval Object.” Frolaytia remained on the beach chair. “But this new model is a deep sea Object with the ability to dive underwater. The ocean is the primary battlefield anyone in the Island Nation is going to think of, so it isn’t too surprising they would try to develop an offshoot of the standard Objects that battle on the ocean surface.”
“But,” cut in Heivia as he trembled in the seiza position next to Quenser. “Objects are giant balls over fifty meters long. Submerge something like that in the ocean and you can’t keep it quiet! Anyone’ll be able to pick it up on radar or sonar!”
Needless to say, the biggest reason submarines were submerged was to travel without the enemy noticing.
That put restrictions on their sizes and designs. No matter how sturdy, fast, and powerful you made it, all the noise it made while travelling through the water would be fatal. The enemy could concentrate fire on it and quickly turn it into a bed for fishes.
And a round Object was just about the worst option for that.
No matter how carefully it moved, it would be found right away.
In fact, the Legitimacy Kingdom military had already found it.
“It isn’t trying to hide its location.”
Frolaytia’s sudden comment from the beach chair made no sense.
“It seems to use water in a different way than normal submarines. This New Model still has its pride as an Object, so it appears to have been created in order to win wars by crushing the enemy force head on without even trying to run or hide.”
Quenser looked confused, so Frolaytia entered a few simple commands into her handheld device.
As soon as she did, light electronic tones came from the two idiots’ devices. She had apparently sent them some data.
“(I really don’t want to look at that. An email from a superior has never ended well for me. …Hey, Quenser? Quenser! Why do you look so excited!? There’s no way this is self-filmed porn featuring those giant breasts!!)”
“(Based on what she said, this must be data on the New Model developed in secret by the Island Nation! I can’t believe I’m so lucky!! You’d never get to see this while attending a safe country school. Pant pant. I’m so glad I came to the battlefield. Pant pant!!)”
“(You’re creeping me out!! I think marrying an android girl is the only option for a pervert like you! Wait! Get away from me! I don’t want to catch your perversion!!)”
Quenser ignored Heivia’s complaints and played the video attached to the email.
It seemed to show the sea at night, but there were no landmarks to help him place it aside from the stars which suggested it was in the Northern Hemisphere.
The night-vision footage was grainy and the gray-scale contrast was emphasized. The camera shook around a lot as if the waves were knocking it about.
“If we just sent in a UAV, it would be shot down by anti-air lasers, so we attach cameras and external storage to driftwood and let a bunch float in from outside the combat zone. Transmitting the data could give away their location, so there’s no telling what they filmed until we retrieve them. When you get down to it, it’s a gamble.”
Fortunately, Quenser and Heivia had not been tasked with finding the proper footage from that massive amount of data like they were a middle-aged woman working from home. They had been passed pre edited footage.
A giant black form distinct from the darkness of the night was visible in the center of the ocean.
Quenser could see something flashing like St. Elmo’s fire, but that was likely the sensors attached to the ends of the cannons.
“That’s the New Model?”
“Do some research, Quenser. This is the Capitalist Corporations’ representative second generation. Our codename for it is Crown Shark. No Object can outdo it when it comes to destroying its enemy and it is known for the container-style multiple railgun known as the shark’s tooth. Instead of taking careful aim, it takes care of an entire ‘surface’. It creates an area of complete destruction over thirty degrees from left to right and for a distance of ten kilometers. It can only attack three times, but not even an Object can escape destruction if it enters that zone of death.”
“You said it belongs to the Capitalist Corporations, so was it sent in to take care of the Island Nation?” complained Heivia.
“But wait.” Quenser frowned. “The Crown Shark uses a special railgun and the New Model operates underwater. In that case…”
“That’s right.” Frolaytia shrugged atop the beach chair. “The New Model is located 1500 meters below the surface, so there is a thick layer of water in the way.”
Several explosions burst from the small screen. Silly-looking pillars of water rose like upside down waterfalls, but the massive shield of water was impenetrable.
And on top of that, this New Model had the heavy armor of an Object that could withstand a nuclear weapon.
“There’s nothing it can do,” muttered Quenser in irritation. “It isn’t even an issue of strong or weak; it’s just a poor matchup. Why did they try to defeat someone at the bottom of the ocean using metal shells?”
“I’m not from the Capitalist Corporations, so I couldn’t tell you. Someone may have wanted the Crown Shark to take the credit or its next kill may have been a nice round number. That said, they did give it some thought. At first, the Crown Shark focused on the remaining forces fleeing from the Ame-no-Darin on high-speed boats. They may have thought their screams would draw the New Model to the surface.”
“But it didn’t surface. It used its thick armor, abandoned its fellow soldiers, and continued hiding at the bottom of the ocean.”
“It wasn’t completely coldhearted. Keep watching and you’ll see it strike back in revenge.”
The dark ocean surface was split apart from below.
The moisture in the ocean wind must have been affected as well because a thick orange line remained burned in the air.
That was the New Model’s main cannon.
“A laser beam!?”
“With that, the thick layer of water doesn’t matter. Even down where the sunlight can’t reach, the power of an Object can overcome the attenuation and reach the surface while boiling the seawater. This allows it to fire on its enemy’s belly while hiding deep in the ocean.”
“What?” Heivia frowned. “Doesn’t that make it only useful against metal shells like railguns or coilguns? If we use an Object with a laser beam main cannon, our attacks will reach it. And the resistance of the water is so much more than the air that it can’t evade very quickly. What’s the point?”
“The point is where it is hiding,” said Frolaytia offhand. “It’s right next to a submarine volcano. In other words, there is an extreme difference in water temperature around it. You can think of it like a more intense version of a mirage and it causes a blatant effect on optical weaponry like laser beams.”
On the screen, the Crown Shark took repeated quick evasive actions.
But the actions did not look calculated. The pilot Elite was clearly confused.
Its main cannon could not reach the enemy, but the Elite must have thought this was better than doing nothing. It would occasionally force its anti-air lasers to fire straight down.
“So this New Model uses the thick wall of water and the temperature difference created by the submarine volcano to stop all attacks with metal shells and optical weaponry?”
“If it were a normal submarine, its outer shell could be blown open with torpedoes, mines, depth charges, or underwater laser beams, but the sturdy armor of an Object overturns that assumption. Not even a nuclear torpedo could sink this thing. Even with a ton of laser weapons, it would be difficult to hit. The weapons of the Object age won’t work here. This is part of the Galapagos evolution unique to the Island Nation.”
It would normally hide behind the temperature change and would poke out through an invisible crack when firing its main cannon.
It was doubtful even a laser beam Object would be able to put up much of a fight.
As the Crown Shark continued to unilaterally be attacked from below, it started to retreat, but the instant it paused proved to be a mistake.
A tremendous pillar of light skewered the second generation and produced a tremendous explosion that swept away the darkness of the night.
“The Island Nation’s self-defense PMC looked inferior, but I guess they did everything they could to hide the construction of this thing,” muttered Heivia blankly. “They basically stole the Object officially lent to them, but they weren’t satisfied with that. Who knows how complete this New Model was at the time, but if it had been fully functioning and protecting the Ame-no-Darin, we’d all be the skull-and-bones crew of a ghost ship right about now.”
The trick for this New Model had been to build it in secret until it could be submerged.
Now that it was complete, there was no need to hide it.
Now that it was at the bottom of the ocean, it would not hide and it would wait for the perfect timing for a surprise attack.
The New Model created by the Island Nation would settle into its deep sea palace as the king of the ocean.
“If you don’t want that to happen in the future, you need to think up a plan,” said Frolaytia while still lying down. “After all, we will likely be the next ones to face the New Model.”
Mission Report B-01
March 21 – 2200 Hours
Legitimacy Kingdom New Caledonia District – Special Political Prison “Château de Rouge”
It was pitch black.
Several watchtower searchlights cut through that darkness and pointed toward something quite large.
The never-ending lukewarm downpour implicitly indicated this was a tropical country.
With an eerie rumbling, a giant form directly entered the giant facility that floated on the ocean.
That artificial island in the southern sea was also known as the “Vineyard of Red Wine”. A few foundations that resembled offshore drilling platforms were connected by a jungle gym-like structure made of metal and that jungle gym had square containers hanging down from it.
The entire structure was a hexagon with three kilometers sides and a height of forty meters. The hanging containers were divided into twelve different layers.
The kind of metal passageways and stairways seen at a construction site were attached here and there below the jungle gym, but they were only used by the jailers. The prisoners almost never used them.
The containers were prison cell modules. There were about 1500 of them and that number was equivalent to the current number of prisoners.
The giant form slowly entering that hexagon was an Object.
It was a Legitimacy Kingdom second generation Object codenamed Save the Logistics and it was an experimental model with an emphasis on transporting supplies. Simply put, it was too much of a hassle to send multiple Objects to protect fragile transport fleets on long journeys, so they had tried to design an Object to which the containers could be directly attached.
Ultimately, the extra weight had raised the damage rate during high-speed battles and the extremely high Gs of the evasive actions had crushed the contents of the containers, so it had not gotten much use.
As such, it was primarily used for missions other than transporting supplies.
For example, it would escort criminals with a risk of attack or escape during transport, such as mafia bosses or terrorist ringleaders.
Countless boxy containers seemed to cover the Object’s round body and wires from the cranes at the peak of the hexagonal jungle gym attached to them.
The crane arm swung them around so violently one would never think a person was contained within and they would be attached to one of the empty spaces on the jungle gym.
The rain striking one such sturdy container’s roof was quite noisy.
That tropical rain was very different from the rain the prisoner inside had seen back in his safe country.
That prisoner looked around the container cell that contained nothing but a sleeping bag and a flush toilet.
Leaving that cell was forbidden, yet there was no shower or even a sink. The only real water source was the space above the toilet tank meant for washing one’s hands. He would have to use that for everything if he did not want to dry up.
There was of course nothing fancy like an air conditioner and the container did not have a single window. The only connection to the outside world was the long, narrow slit through which he would receive his food tray and the single ventilation fan on the wall. Both of those let in the hot and humid air of the southern hemisphere, so the living conditions were truly horrible. It felt like a human body would melt away if left there for too long.
The prisoner boy wiped sweat from his cheek with the back of his hand and approached the container’s metal wall.
He leaned his back against the wall below the ventilation fan.
“Hey!” he shouted over the downpour.
He had heard about this cruel prison before being thrown into it.
There were a few different ways for prisoners to communicate.
For example, they could send signals by tapping on the metal walls.
Several different code patterns had spread throughout the facility and only one who swore allegiance to a specific group would obtain one. If someone decoded one without doing so, they would be punished for “eavesdropping”. Prisoners were supposedly never allowed out of their cells yet they could punish other prisoners, so there seemed to be some sort of loophole.
And the first step for a newcomer was the ventilation fan.
That was the sole route through which his voice could directly reach the next container, so he had to contact his neighbor. It would be best to learn what groups there were and which one to swear allegiance to, so he had to get that information out of them.
Just because the prisoners could not leave their cells did not mean one could live comfortably on one’s own. If one was viewed as dangerous, every other group would work against them and they could not survive like that.
“What did you do to get in here? It must have been quite something to get you taken to the farthest reaches of the world here, but we might get along depending on what it is. But if it had anything to do with drugs or abducting kids, I’ll never speak with you again.”
“Hyehhh…” he heard through the vent.
It was gentle female voice.
She finally spoke back so weakly that the rain almost drowned her out.
“Th-that wasn’t it. I-I was brought here for something I didn’t do…” A short silence followed as she steadied her breathing. “A-and this is a very strange prison where only innocent people are sent.”
“Yeah,” groaned the prisoner boy as he leaned against the wall.
Lightning struck nearby and produced a flash of light from the vent as if from a camera. The light illuminated the prisoner’s face for just an instant.
He was Quenser Barbotage.
That battlefield student had infiltrated this “very strange prison”. After deciding the voice he heard was the same as the recording he had heard, his tone of voice changed completely.
“I know. This is an official facility that allows the Legitimacy Kingdom’s rotten nobles to imprison commoners they don’t like with made-up crimes. The place is filled with accountants who tried to report a client’s tax evasion, rich farmers who tried to create negotiation groups by bringing together farmers who worked hard but didn’t earn anything, nuns who gave bread to poor children every day, and others like that. At the very least, no one here is a real villain and you’re the same.”
That was another reason the prison was known as the Château de Rouge.
One reason was the way all the container cells hanging down from the jungle gym looked a bit like layers of grapes.
Another was how innocent people were locked up, made to suffer, and had their red blood squeezed from them.
“You are Mariage Nightcap, a graduate student at Cambridge University in the Legitimacy Kingdom’s South Britain district. Your field of study is mechanical engineering and data processing. While in that safe country, you aided the military by revealing the weaknesses of our own Objects.”
Quenser had been unable to bring any documents into the container with him, so this all came from the knowledge in his head.
This environment would not overlook anything even if it was in his stomach.
“The turning point in your life was when you set your sights on enemy Objects instead. Namely, the Capitalist Corporations’ well-known second generation Object known as the Private Bank. That special Object contained the entire main sever of a tax haven bank thought to exist in the Cayman Islands. Officially, this was to better protect the clients’ money and personal information, but it was actually a means of learning about the secret transactions of VIPs from the Legitimacy Kingdom, the Information Alliance, the Capitalist Corporations, and the Faith Organization and to secretly gain their ‘support’. In other words, they tried to create an ‘undefeatable Object’ from a political standpoint rather than a military one.”
Destroying the Object on the battlefield would be destroying the massive account data of important figures from every world power. And if the remains could be recovered and analyzed, their illegal transactions and illicit deeds would come to light.
No one could touch it.
It belonged to the Capitalist Corporations, but it did not even have to obey the orders its superiors gave it.
“That’s when you sent a virus into the Private Bank’s main server and swiped all the personal information. In reality, you just created a fake list that looked like you had done that, but the general populous didn’t know how to recognize the secret data and couldn’t tell if it was real or not. You then began a multi-wave attack of information warfare to convince people that you had penetrated every line of defense and acquired all the data.”
“The secret VIPs decided there was no more reason to support the Private Bank and they decided to destroy it to take revenge. By the time they realized it was all a bluff on my part, the Private Bank was already a pile of scrap metal at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.”
Mariage had taken the initiative before that “powerless dictator” could spread its threat around the entire world.
But the leaders of the different world powers would not necessarily rejoice at having that problem removed. Quenser himself had almost been killed on the battlefield after getting involved in something similar in the past. Mariage had been in a safe country, so a different method had been used.
And she now spoke through the vent while sounding on the verge of tears.
“What is your point? D-don’t tell me they’ve sent an assassin after me now. That would just be too much. I’m already being punished by spending the rest of my life in this horrible place.”
“That’s not why I’m here,” spat out Quenser. “I want your help, so I’ll be breaking you out of this prison that doesn’t even have the moral decency to separate the men from the women. In exchange, I want you to work with me to find a certain Object’s weakness. This New Model is a fully submerged type that was secretly constructed by the Capitalist Corporations’ Island Nation. It’s known as the Megalodiver.”
Mariage Nightcap was solely in charge of ideas. She would not work to destroy the Object like Quenser and Heivia. She would not leave the boundaries of the “clean wars” where the finishing blow was left to another Object.
But she would still be useful.
She had ended a war without leaving her safe country, so in a way, she had made a much more clever choice than the two idiots.
The problem was how the fools at the top of the military judged her actions.
“W-wait a second. What is this New Model? I’ve been in here, so I don’t know much about the outside world.”
“Don’t lie,” insisted Quenser. He spoke loudly enough to be heard over the tropical rain. “You may look like a pitiable princess in a birdcage, but no prisoner in the world is more financially active than you. You get royalties from ebooks, advertising income from your blog, and you make financial transactions with that money. You even have private rooms you don’t actually use at the London Stock Exchange and Wall Street. I don’t know how you’re gaining access from here, but you probably know more about the outside world than me. Especially when it comes to suspicious actions related to Objects.”
“I took a look at your data and your trade records are way in the red. To be blunt, a safe country housewife trading in her spare time would do better. You may just be addicted to it like the people who are obsessed with horseracing or casinos and love using the money more than whether they actually win. But then how are you making up for all those losses? This is just speculation, but I think you’re anonymously selling information to the military. Like how to defeat supposedly undefeatable Objects.” Quenser quietly continued. “If so, this is no time to be picky. I want you to hand over all the data you have on the Megalodiver and to lend us your brains until it’s been destroyed.”
“And my reward is being freed from this ridiculous prison?”
“By the way, it seems Cambridge’s chancellor is a sensible guy. He’s willing to treat you as having taken a temporary leave of absence, so you can start back up right where you left off. You can’t get much better than that.”
“But will this really work? The security here is super strict.”
“I’m not planning to tunnel out with a spoon or anything,” spat back Quenser. “The military is willing to use its tax money to bring an end to the nobles’ fun. I have the military on my side, so we won’t be sneaking out through a hole. We’ll blow up the prison and have a triumphant return.”
Quenser fell silent for a moment and continued in a troubled tone.
“If we don’t, our princess will be destroyed by the Megalodiver. We need to find a way to defeat it before that happens.”
“Um, where are we supposed to start?”
“We have time until the operation begins. Rather than waste it, let’s talk. It’ll help to hear from someone who’s directly dealt with the Megalodiver, right?”
Mission Report A-02
March 17 – 1300 Hours
Ocean of the Far West Pacific District – Lifeboat
The weather was perfect.
Unfortunately, it was mid-March, so it only felt a little warm even with the sun high in the clear sky. The wind felt chilly on the two idiots’ cheeks.
“Um, is this called the Far West Pacific District because it’s the farthest west portion of the Far East’s part of the Pacific? So does this count as west or east!?”
“This is when you spin the globe. Everywhere is connected and we’re all friends. If we could only think like that, the world would be a happier place.”
“When did you become a creepy hippie? You aren’t smoking something funny-smelling are you?”
“We’ll never be done with war if you assume anyone against it is a crazy junkie.”
“Come to think of it, aren’t you using war to profit? I’m trying to gain the valiant deeds needed to inherit my family and you’re trying to get richer than a lower-level noble as an Object designer. We should be giving a toast to these clean wars.”
A single small lifeboat floated on the cold sea that Pacific tuna fishing boats travelled through.
But this was not because the Scarlet Princess had been sunk.
Quenser and Heivia wore solid, metal diving suits that were much thicker than the rubber ones they had used when attacking the Ame-no-Darin. While the others had looked like formfitting wetsuits, these looked more like huge robots. The upside-down bucket helmets were placed next to them.
“This feels like round and awkward armor. You’d never see anything like this in an action movie or a robot anime.”
“These convenient things let us dive as much as we want without worrying about decompression,” said Quenser. “I will admit this design would never sell as a toy, though. This is a good example of what happens when you only focus on functionality.”
“I can’t believe this,” said Heivia in annoyance. “Are they seriously sending flesh-and-blood humans up against an opponent the princess can’t beat in a straight fight? Maybe I should take out a life insurance policy.”
“We can’t beat it in a straight fight, so we’re trying to find a weak point,” spat out Quenser. “But that’s difficult when it’s staying 1500 meters below the surface. We need to sneak up to it and sabotage it in some way.”
“Isn’t it a bit reckless to try destroying this deep sea fish’s gills to make it come to the surface?”
“Object cannons and nuclear torpedoes won’t work on this thing, so if we don’t destroy it here, this New Model’s empire will cover 70% of the planet. And I can’t think of any other way of doing this.”
“This isn’t a job for a student studying design or a sexy noble radar analyst. We’re not a panacea or a Swiss army knife. If they’re giving this job to us like some kind of punishment, it means the actual frogmen all refused, doesn’t it!? This has got to be dangerous!!”
“Frolaytia really likes using us as her final trump card, so our only option is to accept this with a positive attitude. She is our commanding officer, after all.”
With that offhand command, Quenser picked up his helmet that looked like a metal bucket with a round window on it. Unfortunately, he could not put it on himself. He put it on his head and Heivia spun eight screw-like devices to completely fasten it to the neck.
Once that was complete, Quenser fastened Heivia’s helmet.
From this point on, they spoke over the radio.
“This system circulates the air I breathe out after purifying it with caustic soda, right? I can’t believe it. They’ve filled a diving suit with a chemical that produces a toxic gas on contact with water.”
“It can’t be helped. With a normal oxygen tank, your exhaled air leaks out as air bubbles. The New Model supposedly tells friend from foe by acoustic signature. If it detected a diver of unknown affiliation, it’d shoot its lasers.”
“I understand the reasoning, but caustic soda is treated as a hazardous substance!”
“It’s used in the Baby Magnum’s closed circulation system, so we’ll be fine.”
“You need to stop trusting that Object so damn much! Plus, that thing is protected by armor that can withstand a nuke. For us, the unit is completely exposed! It could rupture from a wave knocking us into a reef!!”
While Heivia held an underwater rifle and Quenser held a bag filled with tools, they sat on the edge of the lifeboat with their backs to the ocean.
Quenser then asked an elementary question.
“What do we do now?”
“You don’t need to think about anything. Just let yourself fall backwards to dive in head-first. Make a nice tumble like this is a slapstick skit. You are always the one in charge of comedy.”
“Eh? Eh? Backwards? Upside down!? That’s too scary! I can’t do it! I can only see forward with this helmet!!”
Fed up of waiting, Heivia hit Quenser near the neck.
After Quenser flipped backwards in surprise and sank into the water with a splash, Heivia tumbled backwards to dive in as well.
Quenser flailed his arms and legs as he began sinking down.
“I’m sinking! I’m sinking like crazy! I’m not floating at all!!”
“The New Model is 1500 meters down!! And you’re wearing a metal suit. You aren’t going to float unless you fill it with air like a balloon, but that’s our ticket home. And you’re the one that said we’d get laser beamed if we dived down while making bubbles everywhere!!”
On the way there, they had to dive in complete silence and then they had to damage the New Model in some way. After causing it to malfunction and make an emergency trip to the surface, they would use the power of air to float up to the surface themselves. That was the general plan.
Simply put, if they failed to damage it, they would lose their chance to float back up.
If it was fully functioning and they tried to escape to the surface using air, it would detect them and fire its laser beams.
This was why the frogmen in charge of underwater combat had all refused.
Just because they were ocean specialists did not mean they wanted to slowly die on the dark and cold ocean floor.
“We can somewhat adjust our descent speed by reducing the number of weights wrapped around our waists. If we sink too fast, the seawater passing through the grooves at our joints could create air bubbles. It couldn’t hurt to lighten up a bit.”
“Wh-what if we want to descend faster?”
“Weren’t you listening during training!? You find a rock or something else to act as a weight and you tie it to your waist!!”
In the shallower portion of the ocean, they saw the mysterious scenery of schools of fish swimming around like a single large creature. It looked like something from a TV documentary. The thick diving suits kept the cold of the ocean out, but Quenser could not enjoy the scene because the feeling of sinking no matter what he did brought instinctual fear. He felt like he had fallen victim to mafia justice and had been thrown off a pier with concrete solidified around his feet.
On the other hand, Heivia seemed perfectly calm.
He tended to be skilled at everything but left little impression, so he could be called a jack of all trades.
“You can panic if you want, but you’ll just make yourself suffer later. Piss yourself now and you’ll be in for a self-made hell. And you’ll probably be forced to purchase the diving suit. It’s military, so it’ll be stupidly expensive.”
“I don’t like anything I’ve heard about this! And this air has an unhealthy chemical smell!”
“I told you it uses hazardous caustic soda for the circulation, didn’t I!? We’re doing the exact opposite of being health freaks! Open your eyes, you idiot!!”
After diving 100 meters, the surface was no longer visible up above.
After diving 200 meters, the area was only dimly lit as if by a dialed-down lamp.
This brought confusion to Quenser’s mind independent of the fear of sinking.
“The sunlight isn’t reaching us anymore. I feel like we’re being closed inside a giant sarcophagus.”
“We kind of are. The weight pressing down from above is way heavier than those desert pyramids. And it’s darker and colder here than in an ancient burial ground.”
This was a different world.
And that world seemed to take clear form and open its giant maw to swallow them whole.
Their diving suits had powerful lights on the heads, but that was not enough to wipe away the darkness. The thick darkness always lurked just outside the circle of light.
“We’ve still got a ways to go. Once the deep sea fish start floating around us, we’ll be getting close. I hate this. If only we could fast-forward or take a meal break.”
“I don’t even feel like complaining anymore.”
“What’s this? Are you actually claustrophobic?”
“I think I might be after this!”
That boring but taxing work continued on and on.
The New Model searched for its targets using acoustic signatures. They had already confirmed that using a few unmanned submarines using different propulsion methods. They had all been destroyed in the end, but there had been large differences in how long until they were detected.
To be completely clear, an acoustic signature was something like a fingerprint of sound.
The sounds ships made cutting through the water or propellers and water jets made whipping up the water was subtly different from one ship to another. If that pattern was recorded, enemy could be distinguished from ally just by listening.
The New Model had recorded all its allied acoustic signatures.
It gathered all the sounds around it and anything not in its database was attacked as an enemy. It did not distinguish between military vessels and merchant ships. It created a devilish region of ocean to ensure its safety.
It had no eyes, but its ears were frighteningly sharp.
Quenser and Heivia did not need to worry about any light sources, so they kept their lights on as they descended into the dark ocean.
“All the unmanned subs were taken out, so will we really be okay? We’re wearing these robot-like diving suits, after all.”
“The joints are covered in artificial cartilage and silencing rubber, so they shouldn’t make any clacking noises unless we force the arms and legs past the limits of their movement range.”
“Yeah, but only in theory! The air circulation using caustic soda and the joint silencing are both improvised and handmade alterations made to our existing diving suits. None of this has been tested!!”
Their lights illuminated something that looked like white snow. They were clumps of dead plankton that had not fully decomposed. In the extreme long run, they would become the source of oil, so they were resources rather than garbage.
“There’s not much life here. Is this an ocean of death that has no oxygen?”
“There’s a submarine volcano here, right? It might be related to that something-or-other sulfide. Y’know, the stuff people in safe countries mix with cleaners to commit suicide.”
“Hey, wait a second. Are we being washed away?”
“You don’t even know about currents? That’s from elementary school science.”
“But what do we do if we’re washed away!? 1500 meters is on the level of a world record. If we fall into a valley, the water pressure will crush us!!”
“Would you rather land on top of the Object or the volcano? Either one would kill us right away.”
Their chatting gradually faded away as they continued diving.
Quenser felt like his very existence was being slowly buried. He had been placed in a coffin while still alive and dirt was being placed over it, bit by bit. Before long, the hole had been completely filled and no one on the surface would know where the boy named Quenser was.
It felt like he was sinking for all eternity.
As the weight bearing down from above increased, he could feel the soft emotions inside him slowly being carved away.
The wavering in his eyes vanished.
He stared at a single point and continued descending.
His sense of time had been warped, so he could not tell if half an hour or hours upon hours had passed once he finally saw some vague light flashing directly below.
The light was pure white.
Their own lights were being reflected off of the ocean bottom which was covered in fine sand.
“I can see the bottom of the ocean.”
“Are you sure it’s not the bottom of hell?”
Heivia gently landed on both feet and Quenser landed on his back.
“Ugh. Stop watching and help me up.”
“Our joints may be covered in silencing rubber, but we’d be in trouble if we hit any other parts together. The manmade noise would call the New Model over right away.”
After some struggling, Quenser somehow managed to stand up on his own. He had tossed up an unnecessary amount of sand.
“So where is the New Model?”
“It looks like we were swept five or six hundred meters west, so it’s not too far to walk.”
Their vision was limited to their lights as they walked slowly along the dark ocean bottom.
They felt the same floating sensation as someone walking on the moon.
A large shadow passed by overhead. Quenser assumed the twisting motion came from a deep sea fish, but he was left speechless when he looked up.
“What is that?” asked Heivia in confusion. “It’s a fish robot. Is it a new kind of torpedo?”
The fish’s body was divided into twenty or thirty pieces and each one used wave-like motions to simulate the movement of a fish. It had no propulsion devices such as a propeller or water jet.
But that was not the most interesting thing.
“It has something like a blade instead of a head. It’s a piece of metal that looks like a long U.”
“That’s a tuning fork. It must resonate with the tiny sounds traveling through the ocean and send the information to the New Model’s ears. The Object must scatter these tuning fork torpedoes over a wide area to distinguish sounds from multiple angles.”
Once they knew what it was, an unpleasant sweat and heat seemed to fill their thick diving suits.
It was the same as walking confidently along supposedly safe ground and later learning it was actually filled with landmines.
Even so, they had to continue on.
If the enemy’s detection outdid their countermeasures, they would have been shot by laser beams long ago, so there was no point in frantically stopping now. Their survival meant they could continue walking along the ocean surface.
While telling themselves that as an optimistic self-suggestion, they continued walking.
After a while, they saw some faint light.
This was clearly different from the previous reflections. It was on a much larger scale and the light was less uniform. The level of brightness changed with time.
“Look. You can see some orange light.”
“That isn’t the New Model, is it?”
“That’d be the volcano, but if our intel is correct, that means the New Model is lurking nearby.”
This volcano did not have the same tall triangular silhouette as one on land. It looked more like orange magma was showing from deep down in cracks on the ocean floor.
They had seen a ton of dead plankton while diving, but down here, they could see crabs and deep sea fish floating about.
“These might be special species that live off of sulfur instead of oxygen. It’s said they might be able to function on the moon or Mars.”
As they relied on their lights and continued on, they finally saw the real threat.
A black form rose up like a giant mountain.
They saw its silhouette with the orange light behind it.
“There it is.”
“Yeah.” Quenser gulped. “That’s the New Model.”
Mission Report B-02
March 21 – 2230 Hours
Legitimacy Kingdom New Caledonia District – Special Political Prison “Château de Rouge”
While imprisoned in his container cell, Quenser peered out at the outside world using the long slit for food trays.
It was still pouring rain outside and the Object that had brought him was gone.
The prison was a giant jungle gym. The passageways had wire mesh floors and metal pipe railings. There were occasional barriers and metal bars. The layout was made to ensure a wide view, but that meant the passageways had no ceilings and the rain could get in.
Guards carrying guns with lights attached would walk along the wet passageways at uneven intervals. They most likely randomized their patrol patterns so the prisoners could not predict them. Either due to the rain or the heat, the guards looked displeased inside their raincoat hoods.
Their guns resembled assault rifles, but they were different.
The magazines were oddly thick and the barrel was cut short.
“What are those? They’re not carbines, are they?”
“Euhh… You don’t know? They’re known as Don Chicago Can Openers.”
“Oh, so they’re full-auto shotguns.”
That model was known more for its use in crime-filled safe countries than in battlefield countries. The mafia had acquired the military models and swapped out the ammunition for powerful slugs, which gave them the destructive power to slice apart a bulletproof luxury car at close range. They had become notorious during their use in the abductions of several political VIPs who were cracking down on drugs. It was infamous enough that even a student like Quenser was familiar with it despite knowing little of wars and guns.
“But they wouldn’t be using slugs. They’re either using normal shotgun rounds or rubber riot-control rounds.”
“H-how can you know that? They wouldn’t obey regulations out of concern for us.”
“The one thing jailers fear most is a riot. If a prisoner steals their weapon, it’ll be turned against them. If the enemy got their hands on one of those ‘can openers’, they could tear through the emergency barriers and incapacitate the jailers’ break system. They wouldn’t let that happen.”
Quenser looked away from the slit and approached the ventilation fan again.
“More importantly, what did you think of the story I told you? Any thoughts at this point?”
“Well,” began Mariage Nightcap’s quiet voice. “If the Megalodiver really does locate its target with acoustic signatures, you might be able to use that. For example, you could play a pre recorded Island Nation acoustic signature with a speaker or detonate a decoy torpedo to mask your own acoustic signature.”
“We tried that with the unmanned subs. It bought some time, but they were still all located and destroyed with laser beams. Also, there’s no way to hide something as large and noisy as an Object.”
“Yeah… But it might help to eject buoys with speakers to assist evasion a lot like chaff or flares.”
That could work.
Quenser was a bit annoyed at having nothing to take notes with, but then Mariage asked a question.
“U-um, so how are we going to get out of here?”
“As I said before, I won’t be doing it alone. The military will be taking official action, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
“But I’ll worry if I don’t know the details.”
“It’s simple. First, a virus is sent into the prison from outside and that takes control of the entire facility’s control system.”
“Oh, and that opens the locks on all the containers so everyone can move, right?”
“No. It locks everything down to trap everyone where they are.” Quenser readily rejected her opinion. “The prison will be attacked by heliborne troops, but the jailors might take prisoners hostage if they start to lose. Some might even decide to take the prisoners into death with them. Our top priority is protecting people’s lives from that kind of desperate last stand.”
All the containers would be locked down so not even the jailers could open them. Then the attack helicopters would attack from the air and transport helicopters would lower soldiers to suppress the jailers. Only then would the containers be opened.
“The Don Chicago Can Openers worry me a bit, but as I said, I doubt the jailers will be carrying around excessive firepower. Normal shotgun rounds and rubber rounds aren’t enough to break into the container cells. …Anyway, there isn’t anything in particular we have to do. We aren’t tunneling out with a spoon or scraping a fork down on the wall until it can work as a screwdriver. We just have to wait for the heavily armed soldiers to end it for us.”
Quenser heard a sound as a jailer passed by in front of the door.
He knew the jailer could not hear him, but he still fell silent.
After making sure the footsteps had left, he opened his mouth again.
“Okay. Next I’ll tell you about when we actually came into contact with the Megalodiver.”
Mission Report A-03
March 17 – 1700 Hours
Ocean of the Far West Pacific District – 1500 Meters Deep
While wearing thick diving suits, Quenser and Heivia slowly walked along the fine sand as if walking on the moon.
The submarine volcano did not take the form of a towering mountain. Instead, an orange glow came from deep within the giant cracks on the ocean floor. They did not want to approach those cracks because being boiled to death inside their robot-like suits did not sound like fun.
A mass of metal towered above them.
It was an Object.
Specifically, it was the New Model developed in secret by the Island Nation.
“Hey, what do we do? Risking our lives to approach is fine and all, but how do we find a weakness on this monster!?”
“Shouting at it isn’t going to make one pop out at us. We need to stick to the basics. Let’s circle around it to observe the whole thing. We can think after that.”
Quenser saw a few distinguishing features while just looking up at it from the one side.
Just like an Object that fought on the ocean surface, it had a round float on the bottom. But this Object was primarily meant to travel underwater, so its purpose was not entirely clear. It was likely more than just an emergency float.
It had a single main cannon which rose up from the very top. The spherical main body was held between two giant pillars that rose up from the circular float below the Object.
“Is the spherical main body made to rotate up and down? That lets it target enemies directly above and directly in front.”
The two of them began slowly moving clockwise around the Object.
This New Model completely relied on sound. It did not react at all as they shined light directly on it. However, that made them afraid of their own footsteps. They had no idea how accurately it could distinguish sounds, so they felt the same pressure as someone walking blindfolded through a minefield.
“What the hell? It’s got a ton of secondary cannons, but they’re all on the float. It looks like some kind of horrible flower.”
“The spherical body rotates, remember? If it had small cannons all over it like a sea urchin, they’d almost certainly interfere with something.”
It made sense, but it seemed the New Model had been designed with the main cannon being its primary means of attack.
And it was meant to unilaterally attack Objects on the surface rather than something else in the ocean.
“Its direct combat ability might not be all that great. Then again, it might be too much to expect mixed martial artist footwork in the intense resistance of the ocean water.”
“So what? Thanks to the changing layers of heat created by the volcano, our lasers are bent and metal shells can’t reach it. Not even a nuclear torpedo or mine will work. It may just be sitting here, but we have no effective way of attacking it. I’d be proud too.”
Quenser silently thought as they continued circling the New Model.
Eventually, they arrived directly behind it.
“Is this its propulsion device?”
A giant circular part was pressed against the back of the spherical main body while supported by a few pillars. That circular part had two pairs of wing-like parts extending from it.
Quenser saw countless holes on the wing-like parts. They resembled the heat radiation cover on an autocannon.
“This is a water jet. It takes in a ton of water and ejects it with enough pressure to propel itself forward.”
“What does it matter!? Whether it has that, a propeller, or an electromagnetic method, we still can’t destroy the sturdy parts used!!”
“Don’t be so sure.”
Quenser shined his light around again.
He observed the objects floating in the water.
“What? There’s not gonna be a bikini girl this deep in the ocean. Or did you spot a mermaid?”
“It’s a deep sea fish. A real ugly one,” replied Quenser seriously. “There’s an optimal environment for them. They live near the volcano, so they must need warm seawater to live. But doesn’t this one’s movement look weird?”
“This one’s left the volcano and started swimming around the Object.”
Quenser pointed it out.
Heivia finally looked up and began observing the deep sea fishes’ movements.
“What’s going on? Is it gathering the heat of the volcano cause it’s made of metal?”
“I have a more interesting theory.” Quenser sounded excited. “The New Model takes in the seawater, but not for its water jet propulsion. It uses water cooling. In other words, it takes in cold water and passes it through metal pipes in order to cool the neighboring reactor and regulate the temperature elsewhere.”
In other words…
“Let’s find where it takes in the water. If we cover it with a plastic sheet or something, we might be able to take out the water jet propulsion and the reactor cooling.”
Mission Report B-03
March 21 – 2300 Hours
Legitimacy Kingdom New Caledonia District – Special Political Prison “Château de Rouge”
“It’s about time,” muttered Quenser. “We’re leaving, so get ready.”
“I said a military unit was coming in after a virus was sent in to take over the prison’s system, right? There’s a piece missing before that can happen. The facility’s core isn’t connected to the outside, so we have to manually mess with the wiring.”
“B-but, um, get out…? Heh…eh heh heh. The cells are locked from the outside.”
“There’s a slot in the door to receive food. We can get metal parts and wires by dismantling the hand washer and toilet. That just leaves picking the lock. If you bend a fairly long wire, you can stick it in the keyhole directly above the food slot.”
He got down to work as he spoke.
After a heavy click, the lock’s deadbolt released.
“E-eee!? I-it only took you thirty seconds? A-and I thought these were electronic locks.”
“I didn’t release the lock; I destroyed the internal components. There are rumors that the developer intentionally left this vulnerability. We ordered an identical lock and I spent two or three days learning how to do this. I couldn’t open any other lock.”
He took a step outside his container cell.
As soon as he did, his head was covered in a downpour of rain as warm as human blood. Either due to the salt water or the metal, an odd raw smell rose up from below.
If he was discovered, he was dead.
That simple fact gradually entered the tips of his fingers and toes and spread to the core of his body.
But standing still would not help, so he adjusted his grip on the wire and opened Mariage’s cell as well.
“W-wait, wait!? Th-they have surveillance cameras outside!!”
“Messing with the camera here was the most they could do. The rest is up to us! We have to connect the line!! Unless we take control of the prison’s system, the unit outside can’t move in!!”
He mercilessly pulled her from the cell.
Mariage was a girl with an unbalanced build. She was short yet had large breasts. Her glasses looked like they would slip down at any moment and tears were welling up in her eyes that looked like those of a small animal. She wore the prisoner’s uniform of a thick jumpsuit with no pockets to hide anything in, but hers was baggy and did not suit her at all. It seemed to implicitly state how unfortunate her circumstances were.
He dragged her on and whispered to her while the blood-warm rain washed over them.
“Guide me to the third watchtower.”
“Eh? Eh? B-but if you’re going to mess with the communication wiring, you would need to go to the security server in the center-…”
“If we went straight there, they’d catch us right away. Instead, we’ll cut the wiring somewhere less secure and reconnect it. Now hurry.”
“W-will we really be okay?”
“I’m not an expert in undercover operations or infiltrations. This is a job even a student can handle, so don’t worry.”
The prison was a large birdcage. The walls, floors, and everything else were all made from metal pipes and wire mesh, so there were plenty of gaps too small for a human to pass through. There were no absolute blind spots.
“They may have left their vision wide open, but they only point the lights straight forward. That’s because they don’t want to look up and have the rain cover their faces. After all, this isn’t any old rainwater. This is the filth that’s passed through the floors the other jailers have stepped on.”
“A-and they can’t tell a jailor from a prisoner if they’re walking in the dark?”
“They think the surveillance cameras are working properly, so they’ll assume everything is okay until they hear something from them. As long as we don’t press against the walls or crawl around, they won’t catch on.”
Quenser was of course not a specialist. He was giving all this knowledge secondhand.
“B-but won’t it seem weird that we’re walking together? And we don’t have lights or guns.”
“They can’t tell if we have guns or not in the dark.”
“And the lights?”
“I have a suggestion concerning that. Mariage, grab onto me.”
“This prison has no morals, so there have got to be jailors who go have some fun together during their patrols. There’s no other entertainment here. In the worst case, there might even be relationships between jailors and prisoners. At any rate, we can make it so the other jailers make their own assumptions about why we don’t have a light on.”
“U-ugh… I’m not seeing much of an upside in this for me…”
Despite her comment, Mariage did as Quenser asked.
Quenser had assumed she would simply grab onto his hand, but she went further.
“Wait! Ah! Why are you embracing me like that!? And why would you rub your cheek against me!?”
“W-well, if you’re fine with it, I won’t argue.”
Quenser walked on while almost dragging her along with him.
The soft sensation sent a tingling along his spine, but he was also concerned going this far would make them stand out more.
But none of the other guards shouted any warnings their way.
It seemed he had been right in saying the place had no morals.
“Honestly. This rain is horrible. I guess that’s what you get with a tropical area.”
“U-um… I think this is probably due to a meteorological weapon.”
“So it’s artificially created rain? But why? Is there a huge plantation on a nearby island or something?”
“No, the rain is unwanted. It’s apparently a way of avoiding natural disasters by scattering the rain to other places before flooding occurs.”
(I’m more afraid of the lightning.)
Quenser kept that thought to himself.
If that light illuminated them like a camera flash, the jailers might notice the truth. As long as no one was watching in that instant, they would be fine, but there was no 100% guarantee.
But as there was no way of resolving that issue, there was no point in telling Mariage. It might even make her refuse to cooperate and that would 100% guarantee their failure.
Mariage began to speak as she led the way to the base of the third watchtower (and pressed up against Quenser).
He could feel her quickened pulse through her chest. She seemed to be desperately trying to suppress her anxiety. Given the depressing “legends” of the prison, that was not surprising.
“One thing bothers me. If the Object itself emits a lot of heat, why did the Megalodiver hide in the zone of altered temperature around the submarine volcano? It could have scattered hot water around itself to create that mirage-like anti-laser wall.”
She was clever.
Without seeing it for herself, she had accurately found the question needing answering.
“We have a number of theories concerning that.”
“Like that it wanted to prioritize controlling the reactor’s temperature and thus wanted to avoid letting the situation adjust the amount of emitted hot water?”
“Or that it was using the two different types of hot water to construct a more complex and difficult to analyze temperature difference.”
Quenser was unsure what expression to give as he noticed the sweet scent coming from Mariage’s hair, so he simply continued down the walkway she indicated.
As expected, there were no metal bar barriers on the way to the third watchtower, so they would not have to attack a jailor from behind and swipe the key.
The smell of the rain and the smell of iron vaguely mixed together. It may have been coming from the wire mesh floor or the metal pipe railings, but he had no guarantee it was actually the metal he was smelling. In a place like this, other possibilities presented themselves.
“To sum it up, we never found a part that seemed to handle water intake. We’re assuming there was a hole on the top we couldn’t see from below or it has a mechanism to open the armor when it needs to take in seawater. We’re guessing the former because it should be constantly circulating seawater.”
“And Objects’ are meant to be sturdy. You would either hide the water intake because it would take damage if attacked while exposed or you would design it to withstand a nuclear attack even while exposed. If I was designing it, I would choose the latter.” She trembled a bit and strengthened her grip on Quenser, but she finally continued. “Putting the water intake on the top might be to prevent it from mistakenly taking in sand from the ocean floor.”
“It’s possible, but there were deep sea fish gathered around it and it didn’t have any trouble from mistakenly taking in a small fish.”
“Well, it is an Object.”
“That it is.”
They continued pleasantly speaking for a while, but then Mariage asked a question as if she had only just remembered.
“U-um… Then what did you do?”
“A bit of sand or a deep sea fish wasn’t enough to block the intake and we hadn’t brought anything like a large plastic sheet with us. Not that we could have placed one on top of a fifty meter Object even if we had. The sound of air bubbles when we used the air to surface would have likely given us away, and we would have been heard climbing up the spherical body in our thick diving suits. There was no way to reach the water intake on the top.”
“No, no, no, no ,no…”
Mariage Nightcap seemed to be panicking just from hearing the story.
“Th-there was nothing you could do.”
“But we had to do something.” Quenser let out a short breath as he walked. “And there was one ‘material’ we could use to block up the New Model’s water intake.”
Mission Report A-04
March 17 – 1740 Hours
Ocean of the Far West Pacific District – 1500 Meters Deep
Heivia switched to camera mode and observed the seawater. He checked the temperature at the spot where the cold water of the deep sea mixed with the water warmed by the submarine volcano.
“Wow, this is hopeless. It’s got a great marble pattern going. A supercomputer might be able to analyze it, but it would probably take a while. Can it even get this complex naturally?”
“The New Model could be gently stirring up the water with its water jets or ejecting the hot water from its reactor cooling into the hot water from the volcano. At any rate, it could easily be helping it along.”
“Whatever the case, it’ll bend an Object’s laser beams. If it won’t fly straight, you can’t hit.”
Even from 1500 meters deep, they had a way of communicating with the fleet on the surface. If they requested assistance from the Baby Magnum, it would fire laser beams at the locations they gave.
But those beams would not hit like this.
And since they could not predict where they would ultimately hit, there was a risk of them hitting the two idiots who gave the location.
“There are two important points here,” summed up Quenser. “First, we haven’t found a way to defeat the New Model. We might be able to manage if we blocked up the water intake used for both the reactor cooling and the water jet propulsion, but with the equipment available to us, we have no way of getting up on top of it without it noticing. We would have to climb fifty meters while wearing these heavy masses of metal.”
“Wait. That’s the only important point here. What’s the other one?”
“The volcano,” concisely answered Quenser. “The Object might be interfering, but it’s definitely hiding in the zone of altered temperature created by the volcano, right? If we could seal off that volcano, it can’t maintain that temperature shield on its own.”
Heivia was at a loss for words.
Quenser had a feeling the other boy did a double take through his thick helmet.
“Are you stupid? No, really! Are you stupid!? That’s a spring of 1500 degree lava and you think we can put something over it to plug it up!? A plastic sheet isn’t gonna cut it!!”
“Hypothetically, would a destroyed Object work? It did destroy a few Objects before the princess arrived, right? If we let them sink to the bottom of the ocean, don’t you think they would work to plug it up? And it doesn’t matter if it notices partway through and fires its laser beams. The giant mass just has to fall on top of the volcano in the end.”
“Those things are filled with valuable tech. No one’s gonna agree to that.”
“When they melt down soft iron at the ironworks, they use a giant bucket made from hardened gypsum. That means it can withstand the heat of molten rock. Even with a burner, it will only grow red instead of burning or melting. If we prepared a hunk of it the size of a warship and dropped it into the ocean, it could cover the volcano.”
“That’s a wonderful idea, Quenser.” Heivia sounded annoyed. “Now, how many days would it take to create 300 meters of calcined gypsum and then carry it out into the Pacific? They can’t just throw it into a gigantic furnace, so they’d have to make it in small bricks and put it together. Even if we’re using a caustic soda circulation system instead of an oxygen tank, we can’t last down here for three months.”
“I had a feeling it wouldn’t work. And even if we already had the gypsum, the New Model’s lasers would slice it to pieces on the way down.”
Quenser looked up in irritation.
He could not see the sky beyond the transparent seawater. The pitch black darkness made it look like he was buried alive below thick bedrock.
“That leaves only one option.”
“Hm? Why are you acting all self-important? You make it sound like you have an idea you’d rather not use.”
“We have the volcano.” Quenser pointed his thumb toward the orange light. “We can have the princess blow it away with her laser beams. If an explosion blasts the lava everywhere, it’ll cover the New Model while it sits there. Wherever the water intake might be, it’ll be plugged if we cover the entire thing in lava.”
“That’s even worse than I was expecting!! Y-you really are an idiot!! We’re here too, remember!? If you send out enough lava to cover a fifty meter machine, we’ll meet a fate worse than a shrimp going into gratin!!”
“Eh? What? What’s with that look of pity? N-no! I’m not stupid! I was using common sense to stop you from being stupid!!”
“We’d be contacting the princess via radio to have her attack, so we can just leave the area beforehand.”
“I-I knew that!! I did!! I told you to stop looking at me in pity!!”
Heivia very nearly grabbed at Quenser, but their thick diving suits could cause a dangerous noise if they struck together and doing that right in front of the New Model would be suicide.
While separated by such a thick wall of water, even their long-range communications were cut off. If a submarine was going to use its radio, it would send a wired buoy to the surface and use it as an antenna.
“I can’t believe this.” Heivia sounded annoyed. “They catch fish, stick a relay antenna in their stomachs, and let them loose, right? And they have these marine antennae every three to five hundred meters?”
“It’s the same as embedding a locator chip in an endangered species. The tech is even available to civilians. If you choose species that stick to their turf instead of migratory ones, it’s perfect.”
“I can’t tell if we’re protecting them or abusing them.”
Quenser and Heivia hesitantly turned their lights toward the New Model, but its cannons only moved a bit and it showed no sign of attacking that kind of antenna. It seemed to truly focus only on the artificial noises of propellers and clacking.
Quenser began wondering if a rugby ball sized nuclear mine stuffed inside a large deep sea fish or giant squid’s stomach would be enough to melt the surface of the New Model’s armor, but he decided this was not the time to think about that.
“Anyway, let’s move away from here.”
“Hey, the temperature change will bend the lasers, right? Even if we ask to destroy the volcano, can the princess even hit?”
“She just has to keep firing until she does hit. And unlike with an Object, she doesn’t have to be too accurate. She just needs to split open the ocean floor so a bunch of lava bursts out. It doesn’t matter if the shots stray some.”
They slowly walked across the fine sand of the pitch black ocean floor.
It felt like walking on the moon.
“One hundred meters is a long way.”
“Don’t you think this is far enough? I can’t see the New Model anymore.”
“And yet there’s no cover around here.”
“There’s the dead plankton and the water itself isn’t exactly clear. Anyway, let’s just stop here. This soft sand is fine, but reaching an area of hard rock would be a bad idea. It might hear our feet clacking against it.”
“Aren’t we a little close?”
“No, we aren’t!!”
They just had to attack the submarine volcano.
It sounded simple, but it would be a great risk for the princess.
The New Model would be targeting the Baby Magnum with laser beams the entire time while her attacks could not reach it. She would be exposing her defenseless self and firing everything she had until the volcano exploded.
“Firing a few shots sounds simple enough, but will it actually be that easy?” asked Heivia in annoyance. “After all, this is 1500 meters deep. She evades Object laser beams by analyzing the movements of the targeting lenses’ subtle movements, but no one can see an Object this deep in the ocean. She has nothing to help her evade and she won’t last long if she’s leaving it all up to luck. She might even be hit with the very first shot.”
“That’s why we’ll give her some help,” suggested Quenser.
A muddy darkness filled the deep where no sunlight reached, but the dark silhouette of the New Model was visible in the volcano light like a piece missing from a jigsaw puzzle. Even the movements at the end of each cannon were visible.
“We can film the New Model the entire time. Even if we don’t know what it means, the princess should be able to use the footage to determine what its main cannon is doing. We’ll act as her eyes, Heivia.”
“Dammit. So we’re risking our lives either way? I thought we could leave everything to the princess.”
“Remember. This is war.”
After using several marine antennae to explain the situation via radio, they received an extremely displeased response from Frolaytia. That response can be summed up as follows: “I sent you to find a safe way of defeating the New Model, so why are you asking to expose our precious Baby Magnum to danger?” The original text had about 500% more military slang, but it is for the best to stick with this version.
“That huge-breasted commander isn’t trying to use this mission to kill off her problem soldiers, is she?”
“Give it up, Heivia. Once that thought excites you, you finally reach the level of half a man.”
At any rate, the princess and Frolaytia would not allow them to flee, so a suicidal fight was the only option if they could not find a weakness.
Frolaytia must have decided to use whatever ideas they had even if they were risky.
“Just to be clear, you did not coax me into doing this,” she said. “This is the only time I will order an attack on an Object on the advice of individual soldiers.”
“I think sending the two of us down here instead of the trained frogmen is even more unusual!! I’m an amateur student!!”
“Stop it, Quenser. Fight back too much and we’ll be sent into space next time.”
Quenser and Heivia had to wait until the time finally came.
As they watched from a distance, the edge of the New Model’s silhouette moved slightly in the dim orange light of the volcano.
It must have already detected the movement of an Object on the surface because its upward-aimed main cannon began making slight adjustments.
The princess could not see those minute movements, but that also meant the New Model had no way of seeing the princess’s small movements.
The water resistance prevented the New Model from making quick movements, so it had no way of evading its enemy’s lasers. The temperature change barrier seemed to make it invincible at first glance, but it was also a desperate measure created out of necessity.
It had its advantages and disadvantages.
It was a double-edged sword.
But it had not reluctantly and desperately tried to make up for its weaknesses and flaws. It was designed with an awareness of those disadvantages and those disadvantages had been twisted into an even more honed and powerful advantage. Quenser did not know who had created it, but had the circumstances been different, he would have wanted to have a long chat with them. He felt he could learn a lot from them beyond simple technical skills.
“What’s going on?” asked Heivia. “I can tell it’s noticed the princess from the movement of its cannon, but it’s letting her continue on instead of firing right away.”
“The temperature change both protects it and bends its lasers. To target the princess, it has to leave its shield, so I think it’s waiting for the perfect timing. It’s worried about being hit by the princess’s main cannon the instant it steps outside to shoot.”
“So that’s it. And it’s invincible as long as it stays inside the area with the temperature change. It can search out sounds using those tuning fork torpedoes we saw, so it can take its time and aim over the course of hours or days instead of going with the normal high-speed combat. I can see why it would become a coward. He’s like a boring rookie who makes nothing but two pairs at a casino.”
“But this time it’s working in our favor.”
An instant later, the promised time arrived.
An orange beam of light pierced through the water and ripped apart the darkness.
That was not the laser beam itself.
That afterimage created by dead plankton roasted in the laser beam’s path burned into Quenser and Heivia’s eyes. It felt less like their eyes hurt and more like their skull was splitting open, but they could not even rub their eyes due to the thick diving suits.
“What…? What is this, Quenser!? The area’s bubbling up. That laser didn’t boil the seawater, did it!?”
The sudden sound of bubbling caused the New Model’s secondary cannons to begin moving around. It was searching the area. If it suspected the presence of a diver and fired a blind barrage, it could easily hit them on accident and waste all of their efforts.
“N-no… The seawater isn’t perfectly clear, so the energy of the light might built up, but it should only boil along the line the laser passed through. It shouldn’t make the entire area boil.”
“Then what the hell is this!?”
Heivia’s question was followed by a second laser beam falling from far overhead.
It struck surprisingly close by and a great mass of air bubbles filled their view.
“The laser beams aren’t boiling the water.”
They heard an unpleasant cracking noise from below their feet.
“It’s the volcano!! The bedrock split open further away and the lava is about to come out from a new spot!!”
Orange light showed through.
They could no longer worry about appearances.
The two of them tried to move away as quickly as possible while with movements similar to someone walking on the moon. Heivia moved at full speed, but Quenser walked backwards. Heivia thought he was joking around, but it seemed he was actually continuing to film the movements of the New Model’s main cannon with his camera. From 1500 meters up, the princess could not see the subtle movements of that weapon, so she could not evade.
“This is no time to be doing that! If that lava bursts up, we’ll be completely melted! But first we’ll be boiled to death by the water around us!! If I’m gonna take a bath in a hot spring, I want it to be with a beautiful woman!!”
“The New Model has begun to move. It’s realized that the volcano creating its temperature barrier is crumbling! This is going to develop into a quick exchange of cannon fire. This camera footage is absolutely necessary!!”
“If we melt away while filming it, the princess will still lose her information, you idiot!!”
A low rumbling shook Quenser’s gut.
After remaining motionless for so long, the New Model began smoothly crawling forward. Looking with the naked eye, its movement made little sense, but it had likely left the temperature shield.
The extreme high level laser shootout was beginning.
The flash of light left what Quenser could perceive and a thread of intense pain stretched from his eyes to his temples. This was enough light to cover up the laser beams the princess was firing down from above.
“Wh-what!? Shit, my eyes!!”
“We’re 1500 meters deep. The princess’s lasers were weakened on the way down, but the New Model’s weren’t. That’s why this is hurting our eyes even more!!”
“Is that so!? And what’s the point of filming this!? The screen’s gonna be nothing but white!!”
“It’s better than nothing. The princess is fighting a wild beast blindfolded and she’s doing it for us!!”
The area the two of them had been waiting in a moment before had split wide open and orange glowing lava was spewing out.
It was much closer than they had thought and their plan had been for the lava to attack the New Model.
“That ain’t good!! We’re gonna be caught in the middle of it!!”
“Don’t worry. It isn’t falling this way!”
“Do you know how many thousands of degrees that is!? It’ll boil the water in a matter of seconds! We need to get the hell out of here!!”
The way they walked like an astronaut on the moon was frustrating, but they continued on with very last ounce of strength they had.
The two steel monsters continued exchanging blasts with no concern for the puny humans.
Countless orange pillars of fire rose up.
The small ones were a few meters tall and the large ones were over one hundred meters tall.
Layer after layer of them cut off Quenser and Heivia’s vision in an orange curtain. Even the giant silhouette of the New Model was swallowed up by the sea of flames. They saw deep sea fish fleeing once they could not endure the rapid temperature change. Once those fish started floating belly up, Quenser and Heivia’s lives would truly be in danger.
“We can still make it! Don’t give up!!”
“You can’t trust your normal sense of pain, you idiot!! If a drop of lava gets on you, you won’t feel the pain of a burn, but it’ll damage your diving suit! Don’t forget that even a millimeter hole is enough to kill you!”
They were only able to continue through rapidly heating seawater because of those thick diving suits, but they would not last forever. If the sea around them was truly boiling, the heat would reach the inside in just a few minutes.
Rather than simply being burned to death, they feared being cooked alive.
The caustic soda used to circulate their air was also a worry. Its melting point was over three hundred degrees, but they did not want to provoke it unnecessarily.
As Quenser persistently filmed the New Model with his helmet camera, Heivia wanted to grab his shoulders and drag him away. But if the metal of their two suits came into contact, it would dramatically raise the risk of the New Model detecting a manmade noise. That would lead to a threat far worse than the lava. That threat had a 100% possibility of death.
“Fall back, dammit! Fall back, you idiot!!”
The New Model was barely visible anymore.
The many pillars of fire and the air bubbles they created had created countless curtains covering their view.
They all of a sudden noticed that the laser fire from the ocean floor had stopped.
The princess’s spears of light unilaterally swept across the ocean floor.
Quenser spoke the question on his mind.
This was the same as darkness. He felt instinctual fear at not knowing the situation.
“What happened to the New Model!?”
Mission Report B-04
March 21 – 2335 Hours
Legitimacy Kingdom New Caledonia District – Special Political Prison “Château de Rouge”
“Th-this is the third watchtower.”
“Stand back. I’ll do the work.”
Quenser was reluctant to say goodbye to Mariage’s softness and warmth, but he did not want to lose track of what mattered and be shot by the jailers.
He approached the watchtower alone and checked around carefully while the blood-like rain poured down on his head.
The watchtower itself was made up of countless metal pipes. This kept the jailers’ view open, but it also exposed the wiring that would normally be hidden in the walls. It would not be difficult to rewire a few things.
“Sh-should you really be touching that?”
“As long as it isn’t a high voltage power cable, I’ll be fine. I just have to make sure I don’t grab the wrong thing.”
He selected a few communication cables and ripped off the plastic covering with his teeth. They were normal copper wires instead of fiber optic.
“How are you going to reconnect them?”
“This prison has updated its security system a few times and the old cables were left in place. You can even see the unused cables hanging right there. I can tear off pieces of them to make bypass lines.”
“Wow… You’re really good at this.”
“Don’t tell anyone, but I once messed with the insides of a slot machine back in my safe country. We all gathered our knowledge to take revenge against a cheating casino.”
He had no tools, but he finished the work in no time.
He was like a fish given water.
“Done. Now the security server that manages the prison’s closed system has an opening to the outside.”
“Wh-what now? Do we return to our cells and wait?”
“No. Once the electronic simulation division detects the open line, the military will take action. We’ll head somewhere where we won’t be caught in the crossfire. We’re supposed to meet up at the abandoned boat pier, so we can hide underneath it and wait for the retrieval unit.”
“Please lead the way. I don’t want to get lost after all this. …Don’t worry. The military is fully supporting this attack. The prison can’t hope to stand up to them when it comes to pure firepower. We only need to fear unpredictable stray bullets.”
“More importantly, have you figured anything out about the Megalodiver!? I’ve told you everything I have to tell you, including the plan to seal its water intake using the volcano’s lava!! Is there anything else?”
“That’s not it. Heh…eh heh heh…”
(That’s not it?)
Why was she rejecting what he had said? Why had she felt the need to end the conversation?
After coming this far, there was nothing else to do and it was not like she could have other plans, so why?
“U-um… I’m really sorry, Quenser.”
He heard a footstep.
It was such a frightening noise that he hesitated to turn around.
(It can’t be…)
He had a bad feeling about this.
He felt like he had made a faulty assumption at the very, very beginning and had only noticed after the theory was complete.
(It can’t be!!)
He heard a voice, but it was not Mariage Nightcap’s.
It was the deep male voice of a jailer and it came from directly behind him.
“How about we discuss this large-scale jailbreak that is supposed to occur tonight?”
A vise-like grip squeezed his shoulder and he was forcibly turned around.
He shouted out, but there was nothing he could do. Several men rushed up with the full-auto shotguns known as Don Chicago Can Openers. He had his back slammed into the wall and a shotgun barrel shoved into his mouth. Another man then beat the side of his head with another shotgun’s stock. He felt like the roots of his teeth had bent. As he held his mouth and curled up, a rain of blows came from every direction.
His consciousness flashed in and out.
Partway through, he even forgot to remain balled up to protect his organs.
He was grabbed by the hair and thrown into a passageway that reeked of the salty wind.
All of the jailers looked the same to him, but one smiled and asked a question.
“Are you gonna talk or not?”
The man shoved his shotgun barrel under Quenser’s jaw to force him to look up.
“Listen. Reality isn’t like the movies. If I pull the trigger now, you won’t die. Your face will be smashed to pieces and some of your brain’s frontal lobe might splatter out, but you’ll keep living. Do you want to see what that’s like?”
“What…is she?” groaned Quenser with the taste of iron in his mouth. “Mariage Nightcap is a prisoner here… I thought that meant she was sent here for a crime she didn’t commit.”
“And so she hated being here?”
The man’s smile deepened to something vulgar.
He violently grabbed the bespectacled and fainthearted-looking girl’s arm, but she showed no sign of struggling or trying to run. In fact, she gave a stiff smile as the jailer embraced her shoulder.
“I…don’t think this place is all that bad. I can write ebooks and trade stocks from here. Breaking me out would be a biiiit of a problem. Eh heh…eh heh heh…”
Quenser doubted that was what she actually thought.
Even the smile on her face was broken.
He did not know what kind of life she was being forced to live, but her own will had grown remarkably feeble.
Quenser himself had said the prison had no morals.
He had also said there might be relationships between jailers or even between jailers and prisoners.
“Did you give into them, NTR girl?”
“Don’t say that,” said the smiling and shotgun-wielding jailer. “Virgins are the easiest. When they’ve got something to protect, they’ll do anything you say in exchange. She’s even the one that suggested earning a little money from book royalties and stocks. She offered to give us a cut as long as we spared her that.”
The smile on the man’s face made it clear he was willing to kill for no good reason.
“Anyway, it looks like hacking into our system was the first stage of your plan, so we switched the entire facility to offline mode. The military likes surefire methods, so they’ll call off the operation if it falls apart at the very beginning. That way they can search for a better method. Château de Rouge will fall eventually, but it isn’t happening today. The cavalry isn’t on the way to save you.”
“Tell me what unit you belong to. We tame troublesome people for the nobles and royals’ convenience, so we’ve got plenty of secret connections. We’ll have them act on our behalf and take care of your commanding officer. And while all that’s going on, we can escape. We’ll be able to make a new secret prison soon enough. The nobles will never stop having their fun, after all.”
Quenser slowly opened his mouth, but not because he had given into the jailer before his eyes.
The boy laughed and spoke to Mariage.
“Why do you think I was the one doing this?”
“I’m just a student. I’ve never even been properly trained to shoot a gun. The military has countless specialists in all sorts of fields, so why do you think they left this to me instead of an infiltration expert? Doesn’t make sense, does it!? Normally, a team of commandos from the intelligence division would have rescued you and then we could have talked at our leisure at a military base. That’s the textbook path to success! But we didn’t do that. The hardheaded military left the standard path. Why!? If you really are smarter than these guys, don’t you find it strange!?”
Quenser was not from the intelligence division. It was out of the ordinary for him to be ordered on a mission needing high-level training in infiltration.
“Remember what I told you? Our enemy is a marine Object built in secret by the Island Nation. And it doesn’t float on the ocean like normal. This second generation is made to submerge! And where is this prison built!? It’s on the ocean, isn’t it!?”
“You can’t mean…”
Mariage gulped and Quenser shouted out despite the shotgun pressed against his jaw.
“It’s after you!! It’s trying to eliminate the ‘monster’ that might find a weakness in it!!”
As soon as he got the words out, the whole world was tossed about.
A tremendous vibration shook the entire facility that looked like a giant birdcage built on the ocean. Every single one of them was tossed along the passageway. Quenser used the confusion to kick the jaw of a jailor lying nearby.
“Due to the formal paperwork, it wasn’t clear if the rescue operation would make it in time, so I was unofficially sent ahead!! That way I could get any information out of you before the Megalodiver could kill you!!”
One of the jailers grabbed a Don Chicago Can Opener while lying on the ground.
He shouted something, stood up, and tried to aim at Quenser, but then he stopped.
He seemed to be looking off into the distance.
His gaze was turned toward the dark ocean visible past the jungle gym-like third watchtower.
Quenser knew the name of the despair before the man’s eyes. He had seen it himself in the past.
The boy sprang to his feet and tackled the confused Mariage Nightcap to the ground.
A moment later, a tremendous flash of light surged out and everything evaporated.
The laser beam fired by the New Model was just as thick as the third watchtower that acted as a pillar supporting the birdcage.
Everything melted into the color orange and scattered about: the metal watchtower, the passageways, the barriers blocking them off, and the jailers in charge of them.
He was half-blinded and sharp pain assaulted his temples, but he did not have time to worry about it.
He grabbed Mariage’s collar and forced her to her feet.
“We have to get out of here!! You may be a slut who gave into fear and surrendered your heart to the jailers, but you don’t want to die with them, do you!? Then run!! That was its smallest anti personnel cannon. If it fires its main cannon, we’ll be evaporated along with this part of the map!!”
“No, no, no, no, no…”
The two of them ran along the passageway and Mariage asked a question with tears in her eyes and while gasping for breath.
“What is that!? I thought you dealt with the Island Nation’s New Model at the bottom of the ocean!”
“If it had ended that easily, we wouldn’t need your help! We weren’t good enough!!”
“B-but you said the Megalodiver was a submerged Objet! Why is it firing from the surface!?”
“We caused a certain amount of damage. It seems the water intake is used for the reactor cooling, the water jet propulsion, and the pilot Elite’s oxygen supply. It creates oxygen from seawater using electrolysis!”
“What’s your point!?”
“It seems to have a few different water intakes and we sealed the oxygen supply one with the lava.”
The entire prison shook once more.
The container cells hanging down started to fall into the dark ocean. There was a living human in each and every one of them and they were all poor innocents who had earned the wrath of nobles or royals.
“In other words, it was able to keep fighting after surfacing! On the surface, it can take in air directly!!”
“But! But!! Wasn’t its greatest selling point the way it neutralized all attacks by blocking metal shells with the thick layer of water and bending laser beams with the temperature change created by the volcano!? Can’t another Object easily defeat it on the surface!?”
“We thought so, too!!”
Suddenly, the passageway itself fell. It tilted and the two of them tumbled down to a lower level like it was a slide.
“But it didn’t work. Its true terror doesn’t come from its ability to dive underwater.”
By the time they realized the entire prison was collapsing, it was all over.
Quenser and Mariage were thrown into the lukewarm southern ocean along with all the other prisoners.
Mission Report A-05
March 17 – 1800 Hours
Ocean of the Far West Pacific District – 1500 Meters Deep
“Hey,” muttered Heivia as he looked up. “It’s going up. The New Model is surfacing! Was the lava attack that effective!?”
Quenser watched it as well.
“That isn’t normal air. It must be using a special gas to get that kind of buoyancy. It also seems to be using its water jets for attitude control. I don’t think its reactor is on the verge of exploding or anything. It may have had another reason to take in water. Maybe it uses electrolysis for oxygen.”
“I don’t care why. If it’s surfacing, we win! The thick wall of water and the temperature shield are gone. Our princess can’t lose to that shut-in now that it’s been stripped bare!!”
The New Model was surfacing quite quickly, so it had already disappeared from view.
That was a great difference from Quenser and Heivia who had to wear thick diving suits and spend hours descending. It would reach the surface in twenty or thirty minutes.
“What should we do?”
“Let’s wait for the princess to defeat the New Model. I don’t want to be killed by the last shot of an enemy we’ve already pretty much defeated.”
After reporting that the New Model had begun to surface, the two of them began walking once more. Ferocious pillars of fire were still rising from the submarine volcano. They did not know how far they had to go to reach safety, but they did not want to remain where they were.
Nevertheless, they had both relaxed quite a bit.
Their job was complete.
They only had to wait for the princess to shoot her floating target. With its defense system gone, the New Model would be unable to keep up with the high-speed battle. It was a fish on the chopping block.
Or so they thought.
“Are you two still alive?”
After a while, they received a transmission from Frolaytia.
“What is it?”
“Did the princess finish off that irritating freshman? Oh, right. If she destroyed it, it’ll sink down here again, won’t it!? We need to watch out above!!”
“That isn’t the issue.”
Frolaytia’s voice sounded somehow heavy and she continued before they could determine why.
“The Baby Magnum was badly damaged. I repeat, the Baby Magnum was badly damaged!! The princess just barely avoided being sunk, but she can’t continue fighting. We are falling back in order to replace the equipment. If you’re still alive, then play dead. This is its ocean now!!”
“W-wait a second!! But we did our job! The New Model specializes in fighting from underwater and we made it surface. It doesn’t have its thick wall of water or temperature shield. Wasn’t it just a metal drum rocking in the waves!?”
“It had more than that.” Frolaytia’s tone was bitter. “It was only looking down on its enemies like that because it viewed defeating the enemy unharmed to be the best option. You two woke a sleeping tiger and our princess couldn’t stand up to it!”
It was two hours later that the New Model left that area of sea.
In the meantime, Quenser and Heivia remained motionless at the bottom of the cold ocean.
But they did not rejoice when they began surfacing.
The ocean surface was its kingdom.
The New Model now held dominion over 70% of the planet.
Mission Report B-05
March 22 – 0000 Hours
Legitimacy Kingdom New Caledonia District – Special Political Prison “Château de Rouge” (Remains)
Quenser once more floated in the dark ocean.
He was worried about the container cells, but it seemed they were well sealed. The metal boxes filled with air rocked in the waves like a can or bottle. They did not sink.
“Are you alive? Hey, Mariage!”
“Bhah! Cough cough!!”
She breathed in some seawater and started coughing, but the gentle glasses girl managed to grab onto a wooden panel floating nearby.
“Grab onto me.”
“Hurry up if you don’t want to die! That thing can search the battlefield using sound. It’s probably targeting you using your heartbeat, but we managed to avoid its attack a few times already. If you think about it rationally, we wouldn’t normally be able to escape laser attacks that can easily shoot down fighters or cruise missiles!!”
“O-oh… Its scan fails when multiple heartbeats overlap.”
“In the ocean, all it needed to do was shoot individually diving frogmen or sink a huge ship.”
“B-but!! Its specs are good enough to accurately analyze acoustic signatures in the middle of all the sounds made in Object battles, right!? Th-then overlapping our heartbeats won’t be enough!!”
“It wasn’t made to select an individual out of a close-packed crowd! It also hasn’t shown any sign of locating us from our voices. Even if it can detect the sounds, its algorithm was made to detect mechanized units, so it eliminates it as background noise!! When you search for recipe sites on a search engine, you don’t find any car sites. This is the same! The Megalodiver is normally at the bottom of the ocean, so it didn’t need to think about anti-personnel combat because a huge group of frogmen would never reach it in the first place. To not waste its time, it doesn’t even have the most basic algorithms for that kind of thing!!”
“Th-that’s all speculation. You have no proof of any of it!”
“You want proof? If it was fully-equipped with anti-personnel functionality, it would have killed us while we discussed this!! So hurry!!”
Mariage frantically clung to him from the front.
Even so, the ocean was cold in the middle of the night.
Quenser felt as if his organs themselves were shivering and he thought his very life force was being sapped away by the cold.
But the sight before him made him forget even that.
An Object battled an Object.
The damaged Baby Magnum had tried to attack the prison and rescue Mariage while the Megalodiver had tried to kill the “genius monster” who might find a weakness in it. The two of them now clashed on the ocean surface.
The restriction to only laser beams no longer applied. The Baby Magnum switched out its seven main cannons and fired metal shells, plasma, lasers, and other types of attacks. Sometimes its attacks spread out in a fan shape, sometimes they cut off the enemy’s escape route, and sometimes they focused on a single point as the enemy came to a stop.
That magical division between spreading out the fire and concentrating it held something that went beyond skill.
It seemed to be possessed by the divine.
The Megalodiver obtained tremendous propulsion by drawing in massive amounts of seawater and firing it backwards like wings, but it could not fully evade even with that high-speed movement.
In addition to direct attacks, the seven main cannons also fired on the enemy’s predicted evasion routes. No matter where it tried to run, it would be hit.
“That’s the enemy we must defeat.”
“But… There’s no way we can!!”
“Even so, we have to!!”
The New Model’s strategy was simple to put in words.
It fired its many secondary cannons straight down at the same moment.
This was of course not meant to target the Baby Magnum. Anything but a main cannon could not do any real damage to the sturdy armor of an Object.
Then what was the Megalodiver targeting?
What did it gain by firing straight down?
That too was simple.
It created a wall.
A colossal pillar of water rose in front of the New Model and that thick wall diverted the princess’s cannon fire.
The angle at which it altered their path was not all that large.
It was just a few degrees or a dozen degrees at most.
But the Megalodiver would move hard in the opposite direction. The two actions created a large gap that allowed it to just barely escape the princess’s supposedly unavoidable bombardment. It was a magnificent performance, much like a bullfight.
“We’ve been calling it the Tatami Shield,” said Quenser with a gulp. No matter how many times he saw it, the fearful awe did not fade. “The metal shells are diverted by the water resistance. Lasers are light, so they’re bent on the same principle as a prism. Plasma and electron beams have their path altered by the wall of water absorbing their heat energy. There’s only so much it can absorb, but it’s enough to bend them.”
“The concept is simple enough, but how does it match the timing so perfectly!? Those laser beams are flying at the speed of light and it’s blocking every single one with those walls of water!!”
“Lamenting is easy.”
A large group of transport helicopters and hovercrafts from the 37th Mobile Maintenance Battalion approached to retrieve Quenser and the other prisoners whose container cells had been thrown into the ocean.
As he watched that, the boy spoke to Mariage.
“But we can’t escape alive unless we find out how. And the same goes for you.”
“Welcome to war. This is the true face of this era, so quit complaining and enjoy it. That’s the only way to survive!!”