It was an early summer night in June that smelled of exhaust.
A shaking military truck passed through a gate and entered a port.
The back of the truck was crammed full of thirty to forty Legitimacy Kingdom soldiers who were known to look “at least more gentlemanly than muddy potatoes”.
As usual, a certain two idiots were among them: Quenser Barbotage and Heivia Winchell.
“They say chicken is healthier than beef or pork, but that’s a lie. Boom! I got a weird marker on my health examination, goddammiiiiiiiiiiiit!!”
“That’s because you were acting like the people who drink light mayonnaise straight from the bottle. You ate way too much of it just because it’s supposed to be good for you. How much did you even eat during our week of leave?”
“Shut up. And for that matter, what did you do?”
“Returned home to my safe country. Oh, but it was the worst. They were having a strike at my school. The teachers and students were taking control of the school building back and forth from each other and homemade laser cannons and railguns were being shot all over the place, so it was a bit of an adventure.”
“You’re the kind of guy that never takes a break from work, aren’t you?”
“During it all, I ran across a girl who was grazed by an attack so perfectly it only tore off her clothes, I had to escape an explosion by jumping out a window while princess carrying a girl, and I had to hide under an upperclassman’s long skirt to escape the enemy. It was just awful. I don’t care whether it’s a battlefield country or a safe country. I just want peace.”
“Why the hell didn’t you call me, you idiot!? Is this what you call an age of plenty!?”
When Heivia started grabbing at his awful friend, the other soldiers grabbed the rich noble boy’s collar and beat him up. None of them wanted anyone causing trouble when they were all crammed into the back of the truck. Their own actions were an exception, of course.
After they had taught him some manners, they released Heivia like they were throwing out an old sack.
“Bh…bffhh… I just remembered how things work in the army.”
“More importantly, look over there, Heivia. It’s the Princess. The Baby Magnum’s already arrived at the military port.”
“More importantly? You have issues too.”
The idiot’s complaints did not matter to Quenser whose eyes were already sparkling as he poked his head out from the back of the truck’s canopy.
This was a vast gray land. Not even the mountainous piles of containers could hide the colossal weapon that could not be destroyed even with a nuke. It was over fifty meters tall, it had seven main cannons attached to its spherical main body, it had one hundred other cannons covering the surface of the sphere, and it used a reverse Y-shaped static electricity propulsion device.
It was the Baby Magnum, a First Generation Object of the Legitimacy Kingdom.
“That giant thing really is amazing!! I wonder if it’s having the naval floats attached right now. I’d never get to see a treasure trove like that if I holed up in a safe country school like a good little boy. Damn, I bet there’s a ton I could learn if I saw it up close, but those containers down below are in the way!”
“Ahh, ahh. I’m glad to see you’re the same pervert you always were, Mr. Student. Why are you eyeing a hunk of steel like it’s the women’s bath?”
Meanwhile, the truck circled around the large grounds and stopped near the barracks. The soldiers stepped down to the asphalt of the military port while carrying synthetic material bags that looked like small sandbags. They looked exhausted because they had all started at different parts of the globe and changed transportation methods several times before arriving at this relay point.
Frolaytia Capistrano, their busty, silver-haired commander, was leaning against the front of the barracks with a long, narrow kiseru in her hand.
“Why is the great major bothering to welcome us muddy potatoes? Heh heh. Could you not wait to see me (and maybe do even more), my kitten?”
“You’ve gotten fat.”
“Ghhh!! That hurts more than I thought when a girl says it!!”
“The inside is a no smoking zone. A strict glasses-wearing class rep type is complaining about everything in there. I do have to wonder why the current commander of the base has to be driven out, though.”
“It’s been a while, Frolaytia. I brought you a souvenir. There’s a Wagashi shop near my home, so I got you something called Dorayaki. They apparently have custard and blueberry inside.”
This greeting she obediently accepted and Quenser handed her the somewhat mistaken Island Nation treats.
“How’s the Princess doing?”
“Let me ask you something: Do you think the Pilot Elite gets any real time off? She’s been holed up in the cockpit this whole time. In a way, she’s been enjoying the ultimate shut-in life.”
“Oh, damn! What a waste! If I could’ve done that, I would’ve learned so much!!”
“Even if you don’t really need anything, try calling her,” said Frolaytia with a smile on her face and sweet smoke surrounding her. “She hasn’t had anything to do for the last few days, so she might let some technical information slip if you prod her a little.”
“We can see that more than enough once we’re out on the battlefield! More importantly, we need to say a tearful goodbye to proper food, proper entertainment, and proper girls!!”
“(And now Heivia has crushed any chance he had with the Princess while also creating a small grudge.)”
Frolaytia adjusted the kiseru in her mouth and prayed for his happiness in the afterlife. When Objects ruled the battlefield, getting on the bad side of the Pilot Elite was an unimaginably bad idea. He might as well have already had vultures circling overhead.
Meanwhile, Quenser showed no sign of bringing the conversation back on track. In fact, he too rushed away from his own chance with the Princess.
“More importantly, where’s the battlefield this time?”
“More importantly? …No, never mind. But if you’re going to get yourselves killed by a ‘misfire’ from an upset Princess, leave the rest of us out of it.”
Frolaytia winked while scratching at her silver-haired head.
“It’s in Africa. The Antsiranana District to be exact. It’s commonly known as Experimental Battlefield Madagascar.”
The Antsiranana District was a battlefield country.
It was mainly composed of a giant island located along the eastern coast of Africa and it was even larger than Great Britain. It had no official affiliation, so it was a “hot potato” location that the Legitimacy Kingdom, Information Alliance, Capitalist Corporations, and Faith Organization ruthlessly fought over. However, the Faith Organization was currently making its presence known there. The area had once been known for its unique and isolated ecosystem that made it a treasure trove of animals such as the lemur, the Verreaux's sifaka, and the ground rollers, but it had recently become known as something slightly different: a treasure trove for the biological resources business.
“Welcome to Experimental Battlefield Madagascar.”
Heivia spoke in a somewhat muffled voice as he hid inside the dark jungle.
“This is as insane as always. We’re in Africa! Home of the world’s most sweltering nights! So why are we covered in special suits while carrying around these seven spy tools!? We’re covered from head to toe!!”
However, his voice was not traveling by vibrating the air. It was picked up by a microphone inside his helmet and sent by radio even though the two of them were always close enough to literally kick each other’s ass.
“We have no choice. The Object this time apparently detects people from the noise. It can locate us not just from our voices and breathing, but from the scraping of our joints and cartilage too. These are walking rubber soundproofed rooms. I agree they aren’t a lot of fun. They feel like the suits meant to protect people from viruses.”
“And they can still hear us stepping on the grass.”
“This is the jungle, so there are tons of animals stepping all over the grass. We just have to make sure none of our sounds are noticeably human.”
“Whatever the reason, I feel like I’m being forced to do judo in nothing but a raincoat. I’m not going to be absolutely covered in athlete’s foot tomorrow, am I?”
“Maybe if you didn’t talk so much and could fart a little more elegantly, we wouldn’t need these soundproofed suits.”
Something flashed inside the suit’s visor. It was a slimy green light, much like glow-in-the-dark paint.
In the lead, Heivia raised his hand and formed a fist.
“Stop, stop! Here it comes!!”
A single tone seemed to continue forever in every direction. Quenser and Heivia pressed their backs against a thick tree trunk or dove into a depression in the ground and then froze in place as if playing Red Light, Green Light. They completely froze. They literally did not move a single fingertip.
Finally, Quenser slowly turned his head and spoke inside the jungle.
“Did we…avoid detection?”
“If they’d noticed, the Object would’ve fired a shell. I don’t see how sonar detection could work very well in this thick jungle, so we can only pray I’m right and keep going.”
Heivia’s gulp reached Quenser over the radio.
“Of course, this won’t be all the Faith Organization is doing. They’ve set up parabolic antennae all over the place and the patrols will be carrying mics. Just don’t make any noise. Don’t step on any sticks, don’t touch any leaves, don’t splash any mud, and don’t mess with any garter belts someone took off and accidentally left behind. Let’s go.”
“I’m most worried about that last one.”
Quenser was a student without any real training, so he could only follow Heivia who at least pretended to know what he was doing.
After moving a bit further, Heivia came to a stop again.
Quenser crouched down meaninglessly and asked a question while only barely hidden by the grass.
“What is it now?”
“Quiet, idiot. There’s a sentry. It’s one of those patrols I mentioned.”
The Faith Organization must have decided they did not need to worry about noise because pointing a microphone forward did indeed reveal some rustling in the darkness.
However, Quenser and Heivia did not frantically dive to the ground. The jungle provided true darkness where even the moonlight seemed like a luxury. The enemy was not going to see anything even if they strained their eyes, so it would be much more dangerous to make any noise.
The two idiots crouched down as gradually as a housewife doing yoga for a diet.
Beyond the grass, four or five soldiers passed by only a few meters ahead.
“Good, they don’t have a dog. They only have cheap night-vision goggles and microphones. We can hide. Or rather, we have to or we’re in trouble.”
“…You don’t sound too certain.”
After hearing the rustling footsteps and chatting voices fade into the distance, Quenser and Heivia began moving again.
“This really is insane. Just because our Princess’s skinny arms can’t do anything doesn’t mean you should send flesh-and-blood soldiers up against a cutting-edge Object.”
“That’s just how dangerous an enemy this one is. Instead of challenging it to a direct shootout, the higher ups want us to make a surprise attack while the enemy has their guard down.”
After a short burst of static, a transmission arrived from the Baby Magnum.
“It’s not that dangerous an enemy.”
“Then can I go back to bed in the barracks? Why is the infantry out on the frontlines and the Object hanging around the maintenance base? That’s completely backwards.”
“Wait, Quenser. Please don’t say anything that’ll lose us support from the Object.”
Heivia sounded annoyed.
“What was the enemy’s strange Object called again? Doesn’t it have everything but the kitchen sink built in?”
“The Second Generation Trinity Style. Yeah, I don’t want to get into explaining this one. The list of specs goes on way too long. You just need to know that we couldn’t win in a direct battle.”
“Again, that isn’t true,” cut in the Princess. “I could totally win.”
“Yes, yes. And we’re supposed to do something about that with our seven spy tools? What the hell are they expecting from foot soldiers who are only paid 2000 euros a month!?”
“I can hear you, Heivia.”
The delinquent soldier clicked his tongue when their busty commander’s voice arrived via radio.
He gently stroked the devices attached to the back of his soundproof suit.
“I know we’re supposed to be providing laser guidance support for an ultra long range shell, but it’s over one hundred kilometers from our base to the farthest reaches of the enemy territory. Can the Princess’s shitty cannons really reach that far?”
“What did you just say, Heivia?”
The Princess’s emotional points were dropping fast, but Quenser was too focused on the technical side to notice.
“Not to worry. She’s apparently using a new type of ablative shell.”
“Ablative shell. It’s one of the gigantic metal shells for a coilgun with a plastic coating added on.”
“Like added chocolate sauce to unsold cookies? What good is a little plastic!?”
“It’s the same tech used in rockets and space shuttles. When entering the atmosphere, the plastic is intentionally allowed to melt in order to absorb the heat. Simply put, it’s tech that lets the shell surpass the limits of air friction to fly really, really, really, really far.”
“Seriously? A little plastic does all that? Won’t this completely change the Princess’s tactics?”
Frolaytia cut in over the radio to reject that idea.
“Even if it’s made from plastic, it still takes craftsmen to make, so it’s expensive and time-consuming. More importantly, it’s still at the experimental phase and there are no facilities to mass-produce them. And the Princess has to be physically attached to a largescale external capacitor when using it, so she can’t move while preparing to fire. It also puts a large burden on her main cannons. Simply put, each shot is ridiculously expensive, so the research will probably end if it doesn’t produce any results here.”
“Wait! We’re along for the ride with a test firing!? I’m risking my life out here, you know!?”
As they spoke, the tall grass came to an end and the feel of the ground changed.
However, that was not because they had stepped on a landmine.
Looking down revealed something relatively common in rural areas.
“There are wheel tracks here…”
“Wait, wait. This is bad, Quenser!”
“We’ve stepped out onto one of their patrol routes. And wouldn’t you know it? The pumpkin carriage is on its way! Get back into the grass! Hurry!! Get your head down and don’t move!!”
Quenser could barely hear the engine, but the sight of the bright headlights squeezed at his heart. It was probably a hybrid vehicle. The two idiots slowly hid in the tall grass so as not to be found.
A four-wheel drive truck slowly drove up.
A soldier’s upper body stuck out from the roof and was pointing around a device that combined a machinegun, a large light, a microphone, and some other clearly specialized equipment.
A meaningless transmission arrived from Frolaytia.
“Just to warn you, we won’t support your escape if you’re caught there.”
“Hurry up and go, you idiots. Just go. Don’t stop to take a leak. Getting pissed on here would be the worst.”
“I hope they don’t notice our footprints.”
“Only you would make a mistake like that. …Oh, hell. That truck’s stopping! It really is, dammit!!”
What looked like a miniature sun shined directly at them, so it was too bright to see anything past the grass. They heard the truck’s suspension creaking and a few doors opening and closing. The enemy was clearly suspicious of the grass and sending people out to investigate.
If they did a thorough check of the grass, it was all over.
Heivia’s mind turned to the suppressor-equipped handgun at his waist.
“This is awful. If we start a firefight, we’ll be cut off on both sides. We’ll lose our way back to the maintenance base and be stranded here.”
“That just means we have to find another way.”
“What? What is that you’re holding there?”
“The seven spy tools.”
A shrill bell-like noise rang out.
A young Faith Organization soldier frowned as he stuck up from the four-wheel drive truck and aimed the attached machinegun into the grass. The machinegun was covered in a large light, a microphone, and other tools, but the microphone had picked up a waveform unusual for the jungle at night.
He received no reply when calling out over the radio, so it wouldn’t be any of his colleagues shirking their duties for a roll in the hay.
He had followed regulations by calling in a report, followed regulations by having the truck stop, and followed regulations by asking for further investigation, but then something happened.
A loud sound of chirping bugs came from the grass he shined the light on.
However, they would never have a chance to relax if they let that surprise them. The soldiers moved with practiced ease as they used their assault rifles to part the tall grass and check through it.
“There are some signs of the grass being disturbed, but it was probably an animal. A gibbon or old world monkey or whatever they’re called was probably eating bugs.”
“They’re called lemurs. You’ll regret it later if you don’t memorize the protected species in the manual. If you accidentally eat one in a bout of outdoorsiness, it’ll cause an international incident.”
The soldier on the roof doubted that could actually happen, but he was more interested in the readings on the devices than in his comrades’ report.
“If there was a local kid, an enemy soldier, a little gray, or whatever else hiding here, they would’ve had to run away pretty quickly and this mic would’ve picked that up.”
“If there weren’t any unusual readings, it means it wasn’t human.”
“You damn geek. You doubt us and then treat the machine like your girlfriend.”
There was a hint of venom mixed into his colleagues’ jocular tone.
Still, the soldier on the roof tilted his head.
He continued tilting it.
“Did we lose them!?”
“At the very least, the spotlight isn’t following us.”
Quenser and Heivia spoke to each other while noisily making their way through the grass.
There was a simple reason why they hadn’t been found despite the noticeable movement.
“I can’t believe you would do that on the fly. Picking up the sound of the crickets chirping with the mic and amplifying it with that handheld speaker is crazy!”
“Oh? Doesn’t that come with a few preset sounds?”
“Yes, but live sounds are best, Frolaytia. We just had to make sure they couldn’t hear us, so that leaves two methods: hold our breath and desperately hide all sounds we make or play some really loud sound to hide our own. That came up in the pre-mission briefing when you discussed our emergency method, right?”
“Hey, I know this isn’t something to discuss while Miss Tits is listening, but do you think she really has that set up? That would require more than a written apology, so I assumed it was one of her unfunny jokes.”
“But that would mean it’s finally my time to act,” added the Princess. “I’m itching to get started.”
“Really, we’d be in a lot of trouble if they weren’t willing to help at least that-…!? Oh, no!!”
“The light’s turning this way!!”
They quickly crouched down, but the powerful light still stopped right on them. It had not been randomly swept over their way. Someone was focused on them specifically.
“Damn, I guess a makeshift method really isn’t going to cut it!!”
“One of them is really cautious. Heivia, we can’t start a firefight here, right?”
“That’s right. The going may be easy, but getting back would be the tricky part. We’d be isolated out here, so we need to lose them somehow!”
“Does that only leave the emergency method?”
“Are we seriously going to ask for that!?”
“I don’t have any other ideas.”
“That damn geek. Let’s kick his ass if we don’t find anything this time!!”
“Calm down. We need some practice like this from time to time. Our skills will get rusty if we never use them, so just think of it as honing your skills.”
“Whatever’s fine, but does he have to point the light this way? The bugs are swarming us!!”
The Faith Organization soldiers complained and showed no intent to hide their voices or other noises. They effectively ruled this area, so they were confident they would maintain the upper hand no matter what happened.
They roughly made their way through the grass while pointing around the microphones attached to their assault rifles like bayonets.
“There’s something there. What is this reading?”
“You sure you’re not picking up your own breaths?”
“Doesn’t look like it. It might be a wild animal, though.”
“But it might be a human?”
“Maybe a conservation group…but maybe enemy soldiers.”
Tension ran through them.
The others all pointed their assault rifles in that same direction and detected the same unusual waveform.
A shrill flute-like noise pierced the night sky.
The soldiers all looked up without thinking.
The heavens seemed to burst apart.
A heavy vibration shook their guts like the beat of a giant drum and flashes of light filled the dark sky. The Faith Organization soldiers were knocked over, but the unusual event did not end there.
It happened again and again.
It went beyond a mere one hundred or one thousand times. Tens of thousands of large flowers blossomed all over the sky as if to blow away the twinkling stars. The wild dance of light filled the night.
“They’re fireworks! Dammit, I’d heard a Legitimacy Kingdom Object had taken up a position at the edge of the Experimental Battlefield, but they must be having some kind of wild party!!”
Basically, fireworks had been crammed into the hundred or more cannons on the Object’s main spherical body, and then they had been scattered in every direction using the railguns and coilguns. The fireworks covered both the area around their maintenance base as well as this region of sky a few dozen kilometers away. Ten kilometers was the standard range for Object battles, but they could easily fire further when there was no need to accurately hit anything. When they grabbed their radios to report, a careless transmission with no real encryption cut in.
“Happy!! Birthday!! A salute to the Princess of Volga from the other side of the globe☆!! Yahaaaa! This beer is delicious!!”
“This is amazing! The people’s tax money is paying for all of this, you know? We’re stuffing our faces with caviar and foie gras and they’re paying! Am I dreaming!?”
“Team 1 to Team 3. We want to slip some alcohol into the glasses-wearing class rep’s drink, but we need help making sure she won’t notice when she tastes it. All volunteers reply at once. Over!”
The Faith Organization soldiers clicked their tongues or ground their teeth.
The deluge of voices made them feel silly for poking through the grass with strange bugs attacking them.
“Damn those depraved feudalists!”
“Hey, what do we do? We can’t pick up any noise around here with this racket!”
“We’ll report it and then check around for any footprints. We’ll move on after doing everything we can. Let’s go!!”
Back in the maintenance base zone, Major Frolaytia Capistrano held her head in her hands. To contrast the festivities outside, she let out a low, wavering voice that sounded like it would curse whoever heard it.
“I’m letting them have it once they get back.”
Inside the Baby Magnum’s cockpit as it sat inside the maintenance base, the Princess gave a secret smug look after firing the fireworks every which way.
“Ahh, that felt great.”
Quenser and Heivia were using the deluge of noise to run full speed through jungle.
The Experimental Battlefield was noisier than the climax of a small national tour, so they no longer had to worry about mere footsteps. In fact, the tens of thousands of fireworks were shaking the ground itself.
“This costs eight hundred thousand euros a minute! That busty commander is probably on the verge of passing out. Who knows what’s waiting for us once we get back to base!!”
“And even if this is a diversionary tactic, we’re sending out a wild party over an official channel. It’ll be recorded, so she’ll probably get a mark on her record for mixing business with pleasure as an officer.”
“Shut up, you two!! If you know that, then hurry it up!! You had better show some results after all this!!”
Their utterly uncaring conversation was interrupted by their desperate commander, so the world was as messed up as always. Meanwhile, Quenser and Heivia continued further and further along.
“This thing is too far away! The Trinity…what was it? Anyway, if it’d gotten closer, the course for our marathon wouldn’t have been quite this bad at least!!”
“The Trinity Style! And we can’t expect it to get any closer when it’s busy with the ‘tea-picking’.”
“You mean that new drug?”
“Yes, the one for developing Pilot Elites. I think I heard it’s related to traditional Chinese medicine.”
The method of developing Elites differed greatly from nation to nation and army to army. The Faith Organization seemed to use drugs that were exceedingly difficult to synthesize, but an herb with almost the exact same chemical components had been discovered on Madagascar. The Faith Organization was selectively breeding the herb to the point that the chemical components in the pollen could be used practically. The project gave no thought to the biological contamination of an introduced species.
If they managed to take enough of it back with them and developed an effective cultivation method, it could affect the military power balance. Pilot Elites of course required some natural talent, a willingness to fight, and most importantly some human rights loopholes that allowed them to be treated like human experiments, but nothing good would come from allowing an enemy nation to develop them more easily.
That was why Quenser and Heivia were heading deep into enemy territory to interrupt that “tea-picking”.
The first stage of the plan was to blow away the Trinity Style in a surprise attack. Then, with the Object support gone, the Faith Organization’s plant hunters would be wiped out. Lastly, the contaminated flower garden would be eliminated.
“Generic drugs can be both good and bad. After all the drugs an Elite takes, I’ve heard the sheen of their hair and the smell of the nape of their neck changes.”
“Heivia, you really want the Princess to stomp on your balls, don’t you?”
“I didn’t say anything specific. Who knows? Maybe it makes her armpits smell like lavender.”
“I guess there’s no stopping you when getting stomped turns you on. I feel bad for the Princess.”
“Ksshh… Ahem. You’re guilty too, Quenser.”
“Why!? I was the one stopping him!!”
During their back and forth over the radio, the next problem showed itself.
“What is it now?”
“It doesn’t look like a secret base built to hide porn magazines.”
Several square buildings made of quick-drying concrete had been built in a jungle clearing. The entire area was surrounded by a simple barricade and they could see several sentries walking around and guards up on watchtowers. There were likely more than ten times as many soldiers hanging around inside the buildings.
This was not the Object maintenance base.
Nor was it filled with attack helicopters, fighter jets, and tanks.
Most of the buildings seemed to have large metal shutters and it felt more like a giant warehouse than a fortress or stronghold. They recognized the military cases piled up out front. They were not for ammunition.
“Those are battery packs and they’re messing with parabolic mics or something here and there. This may be a power relay base for those electronics.”
“Are all these macho soldiers fighting while worriedly checking on their phone’s remaining battery? Not that we’re any better with our seven spy tools.”
Suddenly, the noisy fireworks diversion came to an end as if a power switch had been thrown.
The world was wrapped in darkness once more.
“That was the worst possible timing!! Couldn’t you give us at least ten more minutes!?”
“I want to shoot them some more too,” added the Princess.
“Heivia, don’t forget that we’re blowing eight hundred thousand euros each minute for this pointless diversionary tactic. This is the limit. You can’t pay for this with your measly paychecks.”
“You’re the one paying us, so don’t call them measly!!”
“Hey, Heivia. Do you think we can tiptoe our way through this power base?”
“We’re not using ninja skills to sneak into the magistrate’s mansion, so not a chance. All those soldiers have tons of sensors and mics. And that’s just what we can see. I don’t even want to think about how much they have where we can’t see them.”
“Then can we fall back and circle around the base?”
“That’s even less likely to work. They didn’t pick up any definitive footsteps thanks to those fireworks, but they’re still going to be on high alert. They’ll have sent out more patrols. Falling back will only send us right back to that truck.”
Moving forward and falling back would both be hell.
It was truly damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
After thinking inside his soundproofed suit, Quenser sent a suggestion over the radio.
“Heivia, I have a hypothetical for you. …If all of the power base’s sensors and mics were knocked out and only the flesh-and-blood soldiers’ senses remained, could we sneak across?”
“We might be able to manage it in this darkness, but…you’re joking, right? Are you planning to throw the breaker or something!? Do that and their entire army will notice something’s up! It’d be just like poking at the hornet’s nest!!”
“We just have to make sure they don’t notice.”
The power base had the same presence as a cliff, but Quenser casually pointed to one corner of it.
“Or more accurately, we just have to make them come up with their own ‘explanation’ when they do notice.”
“What? Be more specific, Quenser.”
“Look over there, Heivia.”
Quenser was pointing at a watchtower that gave a view of the entire power base.
A faint light shined in the darkness there.
“They must be bored, so they’re watching TV or online videos.”
“There do seem to be broadcast signals even in the jungle,” said the Princess. “They’re mostly satellite broadcasts, but there are also unauthorized signals being sent in from the sea.”
“A few of the sentries have personal radios hanging from their necks. And of course, all of the soldiers have their communicators.”
“You don’t mean…”
“It’s time for the seven spy tools, Heivia. There’s a flashlight meant to dazzle someone’s eyes, right? Hand that over. I need to mess with it. Also…yes. I need that speaker we used, plus…”
Quenser trailed off there and breathed in before continuing.
“You prepare the E-Thrower, Heivia.”
On the modern battlefield, Objects settled everything, so infantry work was hopelessly tedious. Without anything to do, obesity truly could become a problem for an entire unit.
Restrictions on personal items were relatively lax, but did that provide a psychological oasis during the boring job or did it show just how unimportant their work was?
Regardless, while the others were complaining about the stale news provided by a recorded soccer match, one soldier’s mood improved after he found a music-focused radio station.
(Boy Racer’s vocals really start to shine after their second big hit. The lyrics get a lot better too. They stop talking about nonsense like love and romance.)
As he thought about that, a short burst of static ran through the radio.
He frowned and heard a low rumbling sound.
He stopped walking and looked first into the dark night sky and then to the watchtower.
He brought his military radio to his mouth.
“Hey, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky before, right? There’s nothing but smoke after the Legitimacy Kingdom’s wild party, though.”
He heard more rumbling.
It sounded like thunder despite the supposedly clear weather.
“It’s that smoke’s fault, dammit!” replied the watchtower. “They fired tens of thousands of those things, so the friction built up static electricity. Now, I’m getting scared. The lightning rod on top actually works, doesn’t it? If lightning strikes, it’ll strike here first!!”
It happened a moment later.
Noise exploded nearby along with a flash of light that seemed to pierce into his eyes.
After instinctually crouching down, he sensed an odd sputtering sound and the stench of burning plastic from around his neck.
“My radio… Oh, goddammit!!”
He pulled out the personal radio hanging from his neck by a strap, but once he confirmed it was completely dead, he clicked his tongue and threw it aside. He could see orange sparks in the darkness. They were scattering like willow branches from the searchlights, sensors, parabolic microphones, and all other electronics.
Doors opened and his colleagues poked their heads out to see what was going on. The piles of battery packs had burst like pinwheel fireworks, but they could not just pour a bucket of water on those. He saw a few people heading back inside to grab chemical fire extinguishers.
He spoke into his military radio.
“What was that? An electromagnetic pulse? Did the lightning cause it? …???”
He received no response.
He hit the switch a few times, but it seemed to be broken too.
After confirming from a distance that it had worked, Quenser patted Heivia’s shoulder.
“Let’s head on in. You take the lead.”
“That’s pretty amazing. This is supposed to be a covert mission, but you upped the output of the strobe flashlight meant to dazzle people’s eyes to create a huge flash of light, and then you played as loud a sound as that speaker could manage. A strict by-the-books sergeant would be hitting us about a hundred times right about now.”
“Tone it down too much and they’d notice. When making it loud, you have to go all the way.”
Basically, they had created a blindingly bright flash and a deafeningly loud noise to make the Faith Organization think lightning had struck nearby.
It had been a gamble whether their less-than-clever minds would link the fireworks smoke to lightning, but adding some interference into their TV and radio signals seemed to have helped there. The intermittent static seemed to have placed the idea of lightning in their heads.
“That microwave weapon was surprisingly effective.”
“The tech it uses isn’t that different from radar. It just has a horn-shaped shield attached to give it directionality.”
“I’m pretending to be a spy for my summer research project. I’m eagerly awaiting the offer for a movie adaptation.”
Electromagnetic weapons may have sounded like a gadget from some kind of galactic war, but a few examples were already in use. For example, electromagnetic bombs would scatter a ton of microwaves when they hit in order to interfere with all of the vehicles, electronics, and electromagnetic signals in the area.
Of course, if the Faith Organization’s sensors and microphones were destroyed like that, they would go on high alert. The two idiots would have no chance if the entire army began a search of the entire area.
But their trick had paid off.
The enemy had decided that their equipment had all been blown away by the irregular lightning strike, so they would not suspect even the most extreme of results. They would write it all off as a natural phenomenon.
At any rate, the power base’s security had been completely knocked out.
That only left the naked senses of the humans stuck in absolute darkness without even a single lightbulb. Plus, their eyes and ears had grown accustomed to the artificial light and noise. Until their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they would be unable to see beyond even a few meters away.
“If we’re going to sneak through some barracks, couldn’t they at least be filled with girls? C’mon, let’s go and get this over with.”
Heivia took the lead and Quenser uselessly followed.
Due to the trouble, more soldiers had stepped outside than usual, but that did not matter. All of them were blinded, so the two idiots could slip past without worrying about a thing. The enemy could only see a general silhouette at most, so they would not even see the colors. Standing tall and walking through may have been safer than trying to sneak around.
Or so they thought.
“Oh, no! Some of the more clever ones are pulling out their lighters!!”
“Now they’re making makeshift torches. We need to get through here as soon as we can.”
With the security down, Quenser and Heivia managed to slip through to the other side of the Faith Organization’s power base.
They looked back again and again, but no soldiers pursued them and no dogs were released. The entire ordeal seemed to have been accepted as natural.
“Looks like we made it somehow.”
“More importantly, Quenser, look forward. We should be seeing it soon.”
In the thick jungle, they could see fifteen meters ahead when they were lucky. As they cautiously advanced, they finally reached the farthest in area.
“There it is,” said Heivia. “There it is, dammit. That’s the Faith Organization’s tea plantation.”
The forest cleared out.
A moonlit plain was filled with small purple flowers. They had been selectively bred with the pollen of introduced species. Each time the flowers swayed in the wind, a pollen-like fine powder flew up into the air. If not for the soundproofed suits covering their heads, what aroma would they have smelled?
Soldiers with caskets on their backs were crouching down and picking the strange flowers.
The chemical properties were in the roots, not the flowers, so they were handling the petals fairly carelessly.
This was the ingredient for a new drug to develop Pilot Elites for the Faith Organization army.
And more importantly…
“Is that it?”
A giant form towered above the soldiers.
The colossal weapon was over fifty meters tall, covered in thick armor that could withstand a nuke, and equipped with one of the giant main cannons which were the only things capable of piercing the ultimate shield of Object armor. More than one hundred secondary cannons were attached all around the top and bottom of the spherical body like a crown of thorns.
Heivia rested a bazooka-like laser targeting device on his shoulder and Quenser spoke.
“That’s the Faith Organization’s Second Generation Trinity Style!!”
“Its main cannon is called a laser container cannon. There are laser space elevators, right? By firing a powerful laser at the bottom of the spaceship, the air explosively expands and allows it to escape the atmosphere. This main cannon is one of those tilted on its side. It gathered attention for being filled with optical technology yet firing a metal shell. Of course, all sorts of things can be placed inside the container, like concentrated sulfuric acid, aqua regia, or liquid nitrogen! Onion armor may be called invincible, but it’s still based in hunks of steel. Also, if the container shell is removed, it can be used as a pure laser beam. Honestly, they really built something troublesome here. It’s so excit-…”
“What is it? And I was just getting into it!!”
“You don’t have to brag about the enemy’s specs! Once we lock onto it with this laser sight, the Princess lying in her beach chair one hundred kilometers away can fire her new…what is it called? Ablative shell??? Anyway, she just has to fire that and blow it up!!”
Without really finding any kind of weakness or making any kind of miraculous recovery, a flash of light and explosive sound filled one corner of the earth.
“Peace really is the best,” said the Princess.
“The Trinity Style’s destruction has been confirmed. Even with the laser guidance, the prototype ablative shell was a little weak. I will send the data to the electronic simulation division.”
Major Frolaytia Capistrano received a report from a communications soldier in the Legitimacy Kingdom’s maintenance base zone.
“Please do that. What is the Faith Organization doing?”
“Probably shaking in their boots as they use their radars to watch the Princess move in while ignoring their remaining infantry. Oh, their HQ just sent out the White Flag signal.”
“Understood. That brings an end to this war.”
“What should we do with the stranded Trinity Style?”
“Well… I’m sure the electronic simulation division is already licking their lips, so have them crawl over it before the Princess can attach wires to the wreckage and drag it to their base. Have them absorb as much technology as they can during that short time.”
Everything had gone as planned.
No better ending could be hoped for.
But for some reason, Frolaytia Capistrano tilted her head.
“Hmm, that wasn’t quite thrilling enough.”