There was once an Object known as the Water Strider.
It was a cutting edge Generation 2 Object. The monstrous Object had travelled smoothly across the snowy plains using static electricity, and had been able to pierce the armor of enemy Objects with two low-stability plasma cannons on either side even though not even a nuclear weapon could do the same.
A normal Generation 1 Object would have had a hard time standing up to the Water Strider, but a battlefield student who had come to study Object design and a noble radar analyst who had come to amass valiant deeds had managed to blow it to pieces. That was 2 months ago.
“We’re back, Alaska. I’m glad to see you’re even colder than when I saw you last.”
“Hey, Quenser. Let’s ditch this work and go look for Santa Claus’s house or something.”
“I thought Santa lived in Scandinavia.”
“You’d have to ask the Faith Organization about that one. Wait, he changed the color of his clothes in a soft drink commercial, so would he be with the Capitalist Corporations? He might actually be relaxing in some company’s health facility.”
Quenser and Heivia of the Legitimacy Kingdom chatted as they walked through the snow.
One had blond hair and the only way to determine his gender at first glance was whether he was wearing pants or a skirt. He was a commoner battlefield student named Quenser.
The other had short brown hair and a somewhat muscular build. He was a noble radar analysis specialist named Heivia.
They were not walking through a white winter scene that filled one with the wonders of nature.
It was true that there were not any areas where the bare ground was visible. The white covered the ground all the way to the horizon.
However, strange metal pieces of art were scattered about.
That was the remains of the Second Generation Object known as the Water Strider. A small screw would be buried beneath the snow, but these masses of steel were 20 meters or more across. Main cannons that looked like bent metal bridges created a large wall blocking the way along that plain.
“I’ve gotta admit, this is pretty damn amazing,” muttered Heivia as he scratched at his head. “It looks like a volcano erupted. There’s wreckage as far as the eye can see. That blast was pointed up, but I think some of these things flew a few hundred meters away.”
“Some things probably flew kilometers. But it was a 200,000 ton Object. It isn’t that easy to retrieve the parts. And that goes for us as much as it does for the other side.”
“I was wondering what those gloomy intelligence guys were so busy doing. I guess they must be analyzing the technology on site as well as stripping it of any rare metals.”
“We can leave all that to them, so let’s get on with our own job.”
Quenser then half-slid down a relatively gently sloped cliff. He was heading for a spot a few meters down. Fragments of the Water Strider could be seen glittering there, but either due to the area that exploded or the direction of the wind, no pieces larger than 10 meters were there.
That was the problem.
And Quenser had been called in as a combat engineer to solve that problem.
“Okay, okay.” Quenser gently tapped the cliff he had come down from with his palm. “The surface is already crumbling. It seems like a waste to use this expensive Hand Axe on it.”
“Everything looks fine up above too,” said Heivia when he came sliding down shortly thereafter. “Just open up a 5 meter crack and all the wreckage should come sliding down. And that includes an entire leg belonging to that damn Water Strider.”
“And we can use that to hold it back,” replied Quenser offhandedly as he assembled an electric drill.
It was a model used for road construction rather than for work around the house, so the actual drill itself was 50-70 cm across. He held the electric drill about level with the cliff slope and pressed the trigger-like button.
After drilling a few holes in the cliff face, Quenser said, “Stick a bomb in the areas I mark. Afterwards, cover them up with the metal plates I gave you beforehand. Then cover it all back up with dirt. That way the energy of the bomb will be directed into the cliff.”
“Fine, fine. Honestly, this is as much of a pain in the ass as squeezing whipped cream onto a cake. A gram of this explosive is more expensive than a gram of platinum, right? It’s really powerful stuff, so can’t you just place it wherever and have the cliff collapse?”
“Are you complaining this much because you had to carry around all the spare batteries for the drill?”
“I’m complaining because I’m a radar analyst and yet am out in the snow working with drills. Can’t we just blow it up already so we can head back?”
“Surely you know that you set up bombs differently for different situations. Even a powerful explosive won’t do much damage if all of the energy escapes.”
“Didn’t you come here to learn about Object design?”
“I’m not doing this because I want to, but I have to make myself useful if I’m going to stay here. And the same goes for you, you delinquent soldier.”
After creating all the small pockets in the cliff, Quenser too began setting up the bombs.
But then he frowned.
Heivia had realized it too.
“Hey, I put just a fuse inside to test the detonation signal receiver, but it isn’t responding to the radio signal. Is the dirt or the metal plate cutting off the signal?”
“Dammit, this wasn’t my plan.” Quenser clicked his tongue with a puff of white breath. “Froleytia’s an excellent commander, but she has a tendency to make up the small details on the fly.”
“We can grope those giant tits of hers over this later, but what are we supposed to do now, Quenser?”
“We’ll have to use a timed fuse rather than a radio one. The signal doesn’t matter then.”
“What should I set as the detonation time?”
“1700 hours. That’s about 20 minutes from now.”
There was a reason they set it to detonate at a specific time. If they set it to detonate after a certain number of minutes, the time spent between setting up each bomb would result in them not detonating simultaneously.
After setting up all of the bombs along the cliff face, Quenser and Heivia quickly left. After all, they had fewer than 10 minutes left.
“Hey, Quenser. With that much explosive, how far away do we need to get in order to be safe?”
“The blast is directed inward, so 50 meters should be enough to avoid being deafened given the shockwave. But it couldn’t hurt to be extra safe.”
“Froleytia wouldn’t shut up about not leaving footprints, but it’s not like we can help it with this snow.”
“With the blizzard today, it should all be gone after a few minutes.”
While chatting some more, the two boys made it about 100 meters away.
Heivia suddenly looked like he had just realized he had forgotten to lock the front door after heading out.
“Hm? Oh, I think I messed up!!”
“What is it, Heivia?”
“I might have entered the number without switching the fuse mode first. So instead of setting the timer, I might have set the frequency to 1700. I-I need to go check.”
“Now!? They’re going to detonate in less than 10 minutes!!”
“I just need to run over and check, then run right back!!”
“You can’t!! Just wait until 1700 hours. If they don’t detonate then, we can go back and check. Okay, okay!?”
“You’re the one that said the bombs have to be set up to match the situation. If the ones I set up don’t do anything and yours blow up properly, we won’t get the results we want, will we?”
“You’re right…” Quenser trailed off.
“C’mon, c’mon. We just have to get it over with real quick. Hurry up!” urged Heivia.
“Eh? Me too? This was your mistake, not mine!!”
With Quenser being dragged along in bewilderment, the two of them started back toward the cliff.
They were about 100 meters away.
After travelling 30 of those meters…
A huge explosion suddenly erupted from the cliff before 1700 hours had arrived.
As Quenser and Heivia approached defenselessly, the sudden shockwave knocked them onto their backs. Quenser had said they would be safe as long as they were 50 meters away, but that was only if they were crouched down preparing for the shock. He had not been talking about if they were defenselessly standing straight up.
While the two of them were sinking into the snow on the ground, Quenser started beating Heivia with his fists.
“You idiot!! You idiot, idiot, idiot, idiot, idioooottt!!”
“Ow!! My bad, my bad!!”
“You didn’t just forget to set it properly! You set the time too soon!! You did the ones in that area, right!? And you didn’t set the metal plates right either, did you!? If you had, the blast wouldn’t have reached this far!!”
“Yeah, but we would’ve been killed if I hadn’t set the time so soon. It all turned out all right in the end.”
“Depending on the situation, this kind of mistake could ruin an entire military operation! That could lead to an entire unit being killed!!”
“Quenser! Hey, Quenser!”
“Don’t interrupt me when I’m just getting warmed up!! I’m legitimately mad here!! Look, the cliff only partially collapsed. Our first objective for today was completely-…!!”
“No, it’s almost 1700 hours!! The bombs you set are going to detonate!!’
Quenser looked over blankly.
In the next instant, the second wave of explosions occurred.
Those two idiots had finally managed to lift their upper bodies from the snow, but they were knocked back into the exact same position as before due to the shockwave. A pain ran through their heads like spikes were being stabbed into their brains through both ears.
After a short silence, Heivia finally managed to clench his fists.
“You idiot, idiot, idiot, idiot, idioooottt!! You didn’t set up the metal plates right, either!! If you had, that shockwave would never have reached us!!”
“My bad, my bad!! Ow! I’m sorry about acting so full of myself when I was rushing things, too!!”
However, the cliff still collapsed thanks to an unexpected coincidence.
The collapse of the cliff brought Water Strider wreckage down with it. Among the wreckage was a leg that looked like a twisted steel pylon and a mass of armor that was over 10 meters long.
The two of them had gotten into a scuffle in the snow, but they froze in place at that unexpected result.
Quenser spoke up first.
“Hmm. It seems the wreckage rolled down far enough to plug up the area between cliffs.”
“And that will block the path of the convoy trying to pass by below.” Heivia frowned. “I know they can’t move things this heavy so easily, but will this really work? Using such huge pieces of wreckage for a wall also means the gaps are huge.”
“There’s an ambush set up to deal with that.” Quenser pointed out into the snowy plain. “There are tiny fragments a few centimeters or a few millimeters across scattered all over the place. That’s why we can’t just send in giant cranes to deal with this. Those caltrops would blow the tires.”
“So I guess stage 1 was a success.”
“Yes.” Quenser disassembled the large electric drill that was no longer needed. “We have the foundation we need to confine the Information Alliance Object.”
It all started three days prior.
That was the day Quenser and Heivia were flown to Alaska while complaining as usual.
“Our enemy this time is an Information Alliance Object. It is a cutting edge Generation 2 Object that we at the Legitimacy Kingdom military have codenamed Rush,” said Froleytia, their silver-haired, large-breasted, and Japanese-obsessed commander.
This was not part of an official pre-mission briefing.
It was after she had discovered the billiards table those two idiots had made out of scrap wood and had lectured them for two hours straight. After she had made sure they had taken official responsibility for that, Froleytia’s expression became more cheerful and they started playing a game of pool to kill time.
In a disgusted tone of voice, Quenser said, “Taking on a Second Generation Object in Alaska? I have a bad feeling about that.”
“Make sure not to mention that we’re fighting atop the freezing cold snow of Alaska in front of the princess. It would only anger her.” Froleytia sighed before continuing. “The remains of the Water Strider that became our nightmare are still strewn across Alaska. We want to analyze the technology there, but it’s just too much to easily transport away.”
The wreckage from the previous Baby Magnum was still there too, but the Legitimacy Kingdom had no real reason to look into it. They would only strip it of rare metals to reuse them.
“Can’t we just hook it to one of our Objects and tow it out of there?” said Heivia who was exhibiting his position as a noble by holding the cue skillfully.
Froleytia smoked her kiseru with even more annoyance and said, “The area is still fiercely fought over, so Objects are commonly coming and going. What if a different Object targets ours while doing that? We would just end up with another souvenir to analyze the technology of.”
“Is that so?” muttered Heivia offhandedly.
However, the conversation must have affected his concentration because the cue ball he struck was swallowed up by one of the pockets.
Froleytia removed the kiseru from her mouth with one hand and said, “Heivia, I’m going to perform a middle kick, so stick your ass out this way.”
“Where the hell did that come from!?”
“Quiet. Hitting the cue ball into a pocket without getting a single other ball in is punished with a kick to the ass where I come from. Okay, lower your knees a bit and…yes, right there. Now, don’t move. If you dodge it, you get two.”
“Dammit. The thrill in your voice is scaring me, you sadistic queen!!”
Froleytia’s lovely leg shot out like a whip before Heivia could complain any more. With a ridiculous crack as if from a real whip, Heivia collapsed to the ground holding his ass despite all his military training.
“Gyahh!? The boot’s air conditioning motor!!”
Quenser had known Heivia for a while, but he had never heard that kind of voice come from him before.
Meanwhile, Froleytia put the kiseru back in her mouth and spoke with an unconcerned look on her face.
“Hmm. I may be a weak little girl, but I am good at doing that.”
“…Y-you liar. You could never pull that off without thoroughly training your entire body…” groaned Heivia.
Ignoring him, Froleytia took the cue from Quenser who was trembling in fear. She then headed for the billiards table.
“Getting back on topic, the remains of the Water Strider are strewn about Alaska. Those remains are full of treasure both of the soft and hard variety. We can learn from the technology used in its design, from the electronic programs it used, and it’s also full of military secrets. Not to mention all the rare metals inside. Also, we might also learn something about the techniques of the artisans that made the armor from the composition of the highly heat resistant materials and the balance of heat treatment. Since we were the ones that blew up the Faith Organization’s Water Strider, we naturally have the right to the benefits of that analysis. However, we are not the only ones that want those benefits.”
Froleytia aimed the cue at the white cue ball, staring down a straight line from the ball. She was so focused on the game that she did not seem to notice that her ass inside her tight skirt was sticking out toward Quenser.
“We have learned that some intelligence agents from the Information Alliance snuck in there a few weeks ago, but they went too far. We were ordered to destroy the quickly constructed antenna facility they were preparing in order to transmit information on the technology they had analyzed. I doubt the Information Alliance will take that sitting down, so they will likely send an Arctic Object in.”
“And that’s the Generation 2 Rush…?”
“You’ve already seen it, Quenser.”
The high pitched noise of a number of balls striking each other rang out and the 3 ball was swallowed up by a pocket. Froleytia circled around the table with a delighted spring in her step.
“That’s the one we fought alongside during the liberation of that Oceanian military nation. Its two rapid fire beam cannon Gatling guns were its trademark.”
Hearing that, Quenser almost brought his hand to his forehead.
“(…That G-cup ‘Oh ho ho’!?)”
His bitter expression was not simply because he had to fight someone he knew. They did belong to enemy nations after all.
It was because he knew just how powerful the Object that “Oh ho ho” piloted was. The rapid fire beam cannon Gatling guns it used as its main weapons were more powerful than the princess’s main cannons when it came to brute force. The odds were good the enemy would simply maintain an ideal distance, and blow away their Object’s armor in no time at all without giving any chance to evade.
Froleytia would have gone through all sorts of data on it beforehand when coming up with the strategy, and she seemed to realize what Quenser was worried about.
“We won’t be fighting it head on. Not even the higher ups are expecting that of us. This is more of a job for our decorated combat engineers.”
“Wait! Wait just a second!! I like that even less!! That’s just putting all the danger on us! I’ve been wondering, why does this unit seem completely incapable of sending an Object after an Object like normal units do!?”
“It’s no good, Quenser. You heard that thrill in her voice, right? That’s the tone she gets when she’s hoping for a good reaction from us when she asks something ridiculous of us,” said Heivia with tears in his eyes as he continued to hold his ass.
Froleytia targeted the next ball and pouted the lips that held her kiseru.
“Don’t talk about me like I use my position to harass you. The princess still takes the leading role while you only have supporting roles, so don’t worry. You just have to take care of some simple demolition wor-…Hm!?”
Her sudden exclamation was due to the cue ball unexpectedly veering a bit diagonally after she struck it with the cue. The conversation must have affected her concentration.
The cue ball struck the edge of the table a few times before being swallowed up by a corner pocket.
The three remained silent for a bit.
In order to break that awkward silence, Froleytia squeezed the cue with all her strength, held it out toward Quenser, and opened her eyes wide.
“You’re up next, Quenser!! And since I foolishly hit the cue ball into the pocket, it’s your duty to kick my ass as hard as you can!! Now!!!!!!”
“Please stop trying to hide your embarrassment with intensity!! It’s scary!! This is the first time anyone has stuck their ass out toward me so forcefully!!”
And so those two idiots played their roles as supporting characters by moving secretly across a snowy plain of Alaska and carrying out demolitions work to stop the enemy convoy.
“This is the 5th spot,” muttered Quenser on that snowy plain that had grown dark due to the sun having completely set. “The ‘maze’ is finally complete.”
“Now the Information Alliance maintenance convoy can’t move freely to and from the battlefield. The primary route is blocked by the wall of wreckage we created and the sharp fragments will destroy their tires if they try to find a way through. But we can still move through quickly because we know the proper route.”
“This in itself does not actually work as an attack against the Rush. It’ll all be a waste of time if our princess loses in a direct conflict.”
Quenser looked confused, and a cruel smile appeared on Heivia’s face.
“The Rush uses a special means of movement that uses both an air cushion and treads. It normally floats using the power of air, but it uses chainsaw-like treads to tear at the ground and give it bursts of high speed. Surely you knew that, right?”
“Unlike the princess whose Object floats at all times, the Rush does contact the ground at times.” Heivia lightly waved his index finger. “That means it’s possible the fragments of the destroyed Object could be sucked in by the treads, causing a malfunction.”
Normal stones or concrete would be torn away by those treads powered by the massive energy of the giant reactor.
However, the obstacles this time were remnants and armor plates from a similarly monstrous Object. It was possible those could actually damage the monster’s treads.
“But will it really go that well?” Quenser was somehow doubtful. “Objects have tons of sensors. They’ll be able to detect the metal on the ground, right?”
“It’s everywhere. Even if they can detect it, they might not be able to avoid it.”
“If this would really work, wouldn’t someone be putting serious effort into developing anti-Object caltrops?”
“The high heat resistance of the armor plates comes from the work of artisans. This isn’t cheap stuff they can pump out like crazy. They’ve likely determined it’s more efficient to focus it all on spare parts for Objects.”
“You sure are optimistic, Heivia. Are you the type that wouldn’t hesitate to buy a lucky pot if your beautiful commander confidently told you to?”
“Our large-breasted commander isn’t the type of beauty that gives you a sense of peace.”
“…Yeah, she’s the type of commander that personally organizes a unit under her direct control to perform surprise checks for porn magazines in the barracks.”
“About that! Why does she have to put only women in their 20s in that group!? If it was some middle-aged guy, it could all be resolved peacefully with an awkward smile!!”
“That’s the entire point. By the way, how about we form an alliance, Heivia? When it looks like they’ll be checking in one of our hiding spots, the other can hide the goods in their spot and vice versa.”
“But she has complete control of the radio transmissions. She would hear any emergency transmissions we made.”
“We can use metaphors or code words or something. Y’know, we can say ‘I’m cornered over here’ or something to denote the beginning of a coded conversation.”
“It would be best if we didn’t use the same metaphors for long. How about we switch them out between missions?”
The two worked out those plans together, but they did not forget that they were on a battlefield.
“It looks like we’ll know just how effective our sabotage is soon.” Heivia checked the time on his military watch. “The clash between the princess and the Rush should be beginning right about now.”
“…In any normal place, only people working overtime would still be at work. I’d like to make it back in time for the last train.”
The Legitimacy Kingdom Object known as the Baby Magnum was designated a Composite Multi-Role Object.
However, the more common term used was “First Generation Object”.
It was made to perform in all environments and weather conditions. If some parts were switched out, it could even move freely over the ocean. When First Generation Objects first appeared, they were said to be more powerful and easier to use than a nuclear weapon, but the situation had changed now that it was normal for world powers to possess powerful Objects.
The main cannons supported by the seven arms extending from the back of the Object could rotate at the base like a revolver. This allowed it to fire different types and varieties of weapons to match the situation. When put that way, it sounded quite convenient and powerful.
However, the Elite pilot girl who piloted the Baby Magnum felt about it differently.
Her Object only had multiple options for its main cannons because it was necessary.
In other words, the designers had not been confident its main cannons could defeat an enemy in a single strike, so they had prepared that option as a form of insurance.
Her main cannons were weak.
The implications of this were as follows: In an age where Objects were common and there was a flood of Objects of equal or greater ability, a standard First Generation Object had no guarantee that it could destroy any and all enemies.
(I know that…)
The slender princess took a deep breath within the cockpit at the center of the Object. The air was purified with multiple filters and caustic soda, and the air pressure was maintained at the perfect level for high-speed thought. That air almost mechanically swept away her negative thoughts and allowed her to bring her thoughts in order.
(Regardless, I can only pilot the Baby Magnum as it is what I was specially modified to pilot. I have no choice but to take on the world with the Baby Magnum.)
She focused her thoughts and looked back at the front monitor.
There was already a reading on the radar.
She had her enemy’s location and her enemy surely had hers.
It was 1 on 1.
Single combat on the greatest scale ever seen in the world was about to begin.
Just as the princess felt a tense atmosphere fill the cockpit, she heard the electronic tone indicating an external transmission had come in.
It was not on an official Legitimacy Kingdom military frequency.
Objects tended to have the ability to pick up all transmission from frequencies not of their own army and attempt to analyze them. If they happened to learn of the enemy’s movements from doing so, that was great. Due to complex codes, enemy transmissions were rarely intercepted, and when they were, they could always be false information meant to lead you into a trap. This meant it was usually not too useful, but a Composite Multi-Role Object was filled with such “useless” features.
What the Baby Magnum had picked up was on neither a Legitimacy Kingdom military frequency nor an Information Alliance military frequency. It was pretty much a general frequency. It was also not coded so either side could understand it.
(Are they purposefully letting me hear this…?)
The princess gave a suspicious look.
The voice of a teenage girl came from the speaker.
“Oh ho ho. I don’t believe I have seen you since Oceania, you unrefined Legitimacy Kingdom Elite.”
The princess immediately cut off the transmission, but another transmission came over a different frequency almost immediately after that.
“I suppose I cannot blame you for trembling in fear, but do not worry. I am kind. Oh ho ho. I am of course generous enough to recognize your white flag. I am not like that Object that lies in pieces all around here.”
“Must you insult me with every word you speak…?” A dangerous light appeared in the princess’s expressionless eyes at the Information Alliance Elite’s reference to her defeat to the Water Strider. “I will make sure we have no need of our white flag. I will destroy you here. I will make you into a souvenir just like the Water Strider.”
“My, my. Now, this is a problem. I cannot take my reward according to plan unless I make you use your white flag. Oh ho ho.”
“After all, if you use your white flag, we can take prisoners from the surviving soldiers. Which means… Oh ho ho. I will have a chance to retrieve a certain gentleman from your unit and scout him for my own uses.”
In the next instant, the princess fired one of the Baby Magnum’s main cannons.
The coilgun fired a massive steel shell with the power of electromagnets, but the Information Alliance’s Rush was out of range, so it did not receive so much as a scratch. However, the princess had achieved her objective.
That had been no warning shot.
It had been a signal to denote the beginning of the deadly battle.
As if in response to the shot, the giant Object before her quickly approached. It charged across the open snowy plain as if intentionally entering effective range of the Baby Magnum’s weapons.
The princess also charged across the snowy plain while heading back and forth in an S-curve.
A simple word was filling her head.
“Oh ho ho! Oh ho ho ho ho ho!! Once I have that gentleman, I will put a collar and dog ears on him and give him the best of care, so do not worry! In fact, he would clearly be happier here than with your unrefined unit. Oh ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho!!”
With an overwhelming explosive noise that disturbed even the electromagnetic waves of their transmissions to each other, the two giant weapons fired their main cannons.
Object versus Object.
A safe and clean battlefield.
That international competition was something like an official sports competition that cleanly distinguished between the battlefield and safe countries.
In this age, wars were deadly fights between those giant weapons, so no others needed to die in the wars. When one of the Objects was destroyed, the war was over. The only sacrifice was the Elite piloting the Object. And even that was not assured. If the Elite performed an emergency ejection and transmitted the signal known as the white flag, the enemy Object would end its pursuit and preparations would be made for an end of war conference between the two nations.
Dying on the battlefield was no longer common.
The most common reason for a soldier to leave a front lines base was not injuries or death. Instead, it was due to complications in a romantic relationship with someone else on the base.
New soldiers fresh out of boot camp would lose their edge on the front lines.
Or so it should have been…
“God dammit!! How in the hell is this a safe and clean battlefield!?” shouted Quenser and Heivia in unison as they ran full tilt across the snowy white plain.
They had been hiding about a kilometer from where the two Objects had begun to clash. From there, they had tried to use binoculars or rifle scope to watch the “sports competition”, but the aftereffects of the battle spread to a frightening distance.
The cause of their fear was the shockwaves.
The main bodies of the Objects alone were over 50 meters across, so when they fired their main cannons, something like a tremor in the earth spread across the snowy white plain, causing the ground to push up at them from below. That had relentlessly shaken the 10-meter-long piece of Water Strider wreckage Quenser and Heivia were hiding behind, causing it to fall over so that it would crush them.
With the cover they were using as a shield trying to kill them, Quenser and Heivia were forced to run as fast as they could across the snowy plain. Given how massive the piece of wreckage was, it was just as dynamic a sight as seeing a slightly old car being turned into a hunk of recycled metal.
The Objects on the battlefield did not seem to notice the presence of the two boys. Or they had but were simply ignoring them because they could not affect the battle any.
The puny human crawling across the ground named Quenser did not want his grave to list such a pathetic cause of death, so he ran away looking like a demon covered in snow.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!! See, this is just as ridiculous as ever!! This is divine punishment for lowly people like us thinking we could watch an Object battle with our own eyes!!”
“Divine punishment!? Are you from the Faith Organization now!? Only shrine maidens talk about divine punishment!!”
“Divine punishment is a Shinto concept? I thought it was Buddhist.”
After the wreckage fell over and knocked a cloud of white snow into the air like dust, Quenser and Heivia hid behind it once more. The shockwaves still blasted through intermittently, but the Object wreckage seemed to have fallen into a more stable position. It was the same as a fallen tree not moving after it loses to gravity the first time.
Heivia lay on his stomach behind the wreckage and kept his breathing shallow.
“…This is really pathetic. We’re putting our lives in the hands of the wreckage that tried to kill us. It feels like getting in the bath the next day without letting out the water.”
“If you worry about pride when up against an Object, you won’t last 5 seconds,” replied Quenser offhand as he checked on the battlefield with his binoculars.
Since it was 50 meter+ monsters fighting, the assistance of the lenses was pretty much unnecessary.
They were fighting at close range.
Despite their huge size, Objects could move at high speeds of 500 kph. And this was not simply in a straight trajectory. They could make slight evasive movements similar to the footwork of a mixed martial artist. Overall, they ended up moving in circles around each other.
They could not hide behind cover to avoid shells and they could not use chaff or flares to throw off the enemy’s aim.
When a shell came flying toward them, they evaded it by sliding to the side.
They could actually predict when a cannon would fire from the minute movements it made, but the sight of shells being avoided like they were fists moving at tremendous speed was enough to leave a human speechless.
“…We should be thankful for the enemy’s rapid fire,” said Quenser quietly as he carefully watched the Information Alliance’s Rush. “Its main cannons are rapid fire beam cannon Gatling guns. They were made into Gatling guns in order to extend how long they could fire, but even then 30 seconds at a time is the limit. They probably put one on either side to make up for the time it takes to cool down.”
If it could fire those Gatling guns without limit, the princess would not be able to escape with her quick movements. It would be no different from the enemy swinging around a giant saber. But with the time limit, the princess only had to flee at full speed in one direction during that time and then change directions once the rapid fire ended.
With both main cannons, the Rush could fire without break, but its giant form got in the way. Each cannon could rotate enough to cover 180 degrees. This meant the right main cannon could only target the right 180 degrees. If the princess escaped to the left side of the spherical main body, that cannon could not target her.
“It looks like the Information Alliance’s ‘Oh ho ho’ is trying to make up for that by rotating the entire Object, but she isn’t able to keep up with the princess’s speed.”
“Hey. Hey, Quenser. Listen to this.” Heivia had been messing with the radio and now he held the rectangular device out toward Quenser. “I’ve picked up some kind of lover’s quarrel.”
Quenser frowned and focused on the voices coming from the radio.
What he heard was…
“Oh ho ho!! Just as I would expect of a loser like you, you are excellent at running away! End this pointless struggle and hand that gentleman over to my G-cup chest!!”
“He is here to perform maintenance on my Object. My Object!! He would be wasted on an Object as irregularly shaped as yours. You’re not wanted here, so get lost. Or die.”
The two Objects continued to fire their cannons at each other, but the two Elite’s tone of voice was even more frightening.
Still holding out the radio, Heivia said, “This is no joke. I bet that large-breasted commander of ours has her head in her hands right about now.”
“Hey, Heivia. What is this about?”
“Weren’t you listening? It’s pretty obvious. Does this really sound like some high level code to you?”
“Two Elites from different sides using a war to fight over a single maintenance soldier? That’s one hell of a story. How much engineering skill does this guy have? Does he have proprietary tools only he can use or something?”
Without speaking a word and still smiling, Heivia clenched his right fist and punched his partner in the face.
Lying in the snow and holding his nose, Quenser was about to cry out in protest, but the voice never came.
A major change came over the battle.
A remarkably loud explosion rang out.
The two Objects had fired their main cannons and hit their opponent.
“They hit each other!!” shouted Heivia.
“How’s the princess!?” shouted Quenser.
It seemed both Elites had decided it would be a long battle and had therefore targeted their opponent’s main cannons.
The princess’s Baby Magnum had blown one of the Rush’s main cannons clean off. Its main cannons rotated to cover the 180 degrees on either side. With one of those gone, one side was a complete safe area.
And as for the princess’s Baby Magnum…
“Hey, this is bad.” Heivia gulped as he looked through his rifle scope that provided more magnification than Quenser’s binoculars. “The Baby Magnum had the ‘base’ taken out!! The back of the body where the joints for the 7 main cannon arms are gathered was blown off!!”
“The joints? But that could keep all of the arms from moving!”
“She focused too much on taking out that ‘Oh ho ho’s’ main cannon while circling around the Rush. Otherwise, she would never have been hit in the back in a 1 on 1 fight!!”
The two Objects continued in slow circles around each other, but the bombardment had ended.
The shouting voices over the radio had ended as well.
The princess’s back joints had been shot off, but it was unclear if all of the 7 main cannons were unusable or if some of them were just barely functioning.
It was just as unclear how well the Information Alliance’s Rush could continue fighting with only one of its main cannons.
They were both trying to assess the battle ability of their opponent.
Quenser felt a great tension cover the battlefield.
If either of them decided they had a way to attack, the battle would be over in an instant. However, that decision might not be correct. If they tried, they could fail. If they failed, the battle would end with their opponent taking advantage of that failure and taking them out.
The Elites piloting the Objects were likely using their respective Object’s auto diagnostics to their fullest to determine just how usable their Object was. And all the while, they would be repeating strategy simulations in their heads dozens or even hundreds of times.
(…What are they going to do?)
Quenser had never known that a motionless battlefield could be so oppressive. He felt a pressure over his entire body like he was on a submarine sinking into the dark depths of the ocean after an engine failure.
After about 500 seconds, the slow circular motion stopped completely.
With its main cannons pointed at the Information Alliance’s Rush, the princess’s Baby Magnum slowly moved backwards. She was headed away from the snowy plain of the battlefield and to her maintenance base zone.
The Information Alliance’s “Oh ho ho” did not try to head after her.
As if in response, the Rush backed away from the snowy plain as well.
Once it began, it all sped up.
After they had moved about 500 meters each, the two Objects suddenly rotated 180 degrees and left at full speed.
Quenser and Heivia were left alone on the battlefield.
“Wh-what was that? What happened?”
“They’re going in for a pit stop.” Heivia got up off the snow. “Only another Object’s main cannon can penetrate the thick armor of an Object. Both of them had their main cannons taken out. Without a way to finish this, there was no point in continuing. They need to have maintenance performed as quickly as possible so they can attack before the other’s maintenance is complete.”
“But the Rush still had one of its main cannons.”
“Didn’t you see the layout of the Rush’s main cannons, battlefield student? It had one on either side. With one destroyed, it has a major blind spot. That was hardly an ideal situation for the Rush. She probably wanted to head back for maintenance if possible.”
As previously stated, the princess’s back joints for the seven arms of the seven main cannons had been damaged. The cannons themselves had not been destroyed, so it was possible they could still be fired. The Rush had wanted something certain, so it had not headed after her.
Naturally, the one that finished its pit stop first would win.
“That means…” Quenser felt an unpleasant pressure in his gut. “This is bad. The princess had the part on the back that collects the joints for the 7 main cannon arms destroyed. That’s like a human hand. All the joints in there make it a delicate area. Can they swap that out quickly?”
“And the Information Alliance just has to put in a whole main cannon. Even a monkey would be able to tell who will likely finish changing first.” Despite his words, Heivia did not look all that frightened. “Hey, Quenser. Why do you think we drilled holes in that cliff and stuffed bombs inside? It was to get in the way of their maintenance unit.”
“Oh, that’s right,” said Quenser as if he had only just remembered.
The flashy battle between Objects had made him completely forget.
They had originally been trying to block the path for the maintenance convoy.
Heivia shrugged and said, “The Information Alliance’s highhanded girl and her followers will be caught in our obstacle course. If the princess can finish changing in the time that we manage to buy, we win.”
“But what are we supposed to do? Head back to the base as quickly as we can and help with the maintenance? They’ll need all the help they can get.”
“You idiot. I said it was a pit stop, remember? If it isn’t done by the time we make it back to the base, the Information Alliance will finish first no matter how much time we buy. Even if we rush back to the base at full speed, the princess’s maintenance will be over already.”
“Then what are we supposed to do? That leaves us with nothing.”
“Are you trying to be an overachiever now? There’s no rule saying we have to always be doing some kind of work. If there’s nothing for us to do, we just need to head back at a nice leisurely pace. In fact, if we rush back, that giant-breasted commander would probably just force some odd jobs on us.”
“Really. What, did you get all excited seeing Objects so close? The presence of two puny soldiers makes no difference, so why bother gathering your strength? Froleytia and the others rely on us too much. A battle between Objects is just on too great a scale for humans with nothing but their two hands to deal with.”
“True,” agreed Quenser.
In what seemed like some kind of cruel punishment on a global scale, Quenser had been forced to face Objects himself due to various unpleasant coincidences, but wars that did not require his involvement should have been in the vast majority.
There was no reason for them to go all out here.
For one thing, they had properly carried out the demolition work on the cliff as Froleytia had ordered.
They had carried out their role, so there was no need to carry out any free overtime.
The Information Alliance military would get caught in the Alaskan obstacle course as planned, so the maintenance on the princess would have time to finish. After that, she could destroy the Second Generation Rush.
After thinking through all that, the tension finally left Quenser’s shoulders.
“…Then let’s take our time heading back.”
“Yes, yes. That’s our general stance. Did you finally remember? How about we try to find a deer or bear to shoot on the way back? Despite all my complaints about those flavorless rations, they would probably work as bait if we cut them up and scattered them over the ground.”
“If we have time, I would rather see if I can analyze any of the technology in the Water Strider. There’s educational material just scattered over this entire area.”
“You’re still digging for scraps? You’re quite the enthusiastic student.”
“When it leads to making a fortune, anyone would get serious about it.”
“But the Legitimacy Kingdom military has already analyzed it all to a certain extent. Isn’t there even a design in the database?”
“That’s just an estimation based on the pieces we have. There might be some technology they overlooked. Really, I see more value in digging through this mountain of treasure than this pointless war.”
As they chatted, the two started walking across the snow, but then Froleytia contacted them via radio.
“Quenser, Heivia!! Are you still at Point 199ASD!? I’m checking via satellite, so don’t try to lie. This is an emergency, so I have no time for stupid jokes!!”
“I don’t feel like explaining it all, so just check the satellite image via handheld device and listen.” The impatience was clearly evident in Froleytia’s voice. As she spoke, Quenser frantically pulled out his handheld device. “I’ll get straight to the point. The Information Alliance’s Second Generation Rush has not returned to the maintenance base 50 kilometers to the north. They have deployed a different convoy from nearby. If the work to swap out its main cannon begins like this, it will likely finish before the princess’s maintenance is done!!”
“Wait, wait, wait!!” cut in Heivia from the side. “Isn’t that what we blew up those cliffs to stop!? I thought the convoy couldn’t reach the battlefield because of the Water Strider wreckage in the way!?”
“The convoy couldn’t,” replied Froleytia.
Quenser finally managed to call up the satellite image and he grimaced when he realized what she meant.
“…Look, Heivia. They carried it on foot.”
“Hahh!? What’s that supposed to mean!? How many tons do you think an Object’s main cannon weighs!?”
“The Information Alliance has worked to make the raw materials as light as possible, so about 100 tons I would think. But that uses 5 rapid fire beam cannons, so each individual one would be about 20 tons. They broke each one apart into over 100 pieces and are carrying those pieces!! That’s 200 kilograms a person! Just five trips between the stopped vehicles and the work area would be enough!!”
“200…There’s no way they can walk around on this snowy plain while carrying that much!!”
“Normally, no. But the Information Alliance has a powered suit unit. The normal limits of the human body do not apply here,” Froleytia replied to Heivia’s complaint. “The walls of wreckage that keeps the large vehicles from getting through have big enough openings for people to walk through! They have headed through those openings to meet up with the Rush!!”
“This is bad…” Heivia audibly gulped. “This is really bad!! This is no joke! Even with the time it takes to disassemble and assemble the Rush’s main cannon, we’re at the disadvantage here. If they finish their pit stop, the princess will be destroyed without being able to fight back!!”
“That’s right, Heivia. It’s possible the Rush’s main cannons were designed to be easily disassembled so that they could be transported by air. That’s why I need you two to stop the Rush’s maintenance in any way possible!! The expected rendezvous point for the enemy is 2 kilometers north of you! You’re closest!!”
“You’re crazy,” muttered Heivia as he trembled at the invitation to a deadly battle he had just been given. “I saw their powered suits in that Oceanian military nation, and those aren’t things you can take care of with a rifle!! And even if it needs maintenance, that Second Generation Object is still functioning!! It still has one main cannon, not to mention the almost 100 smaller cannons all over it!! If we get close, we’ll just be blown to pieces!”
“If we had another option, we would not be relying on problem soldiers like you two.” Froleytia sounded annoyed and she was likely holding her head in her hands. “At this rate, Alaska will be transformed into a nightmarish battlefield once more. If you’re okay with that, then you can just hide behind that Water Strider wreckage, Heivia. Think up a way of slowing them down on your own,” was all Froleytia added before ending the transmission.
Heivia almost threw the radio to the ground, but the ecological side of his mind just barely won out over that urge.
Looking like he was about to cry, Heivia spoke to the student who stood next to him.
“This is really no joke. They say a request from a beauty is another name for a one way ticket to hell!! What are we going to do, Quenser!?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” said Quenser as he stared at his handheld device.
The old movement patterns from the Rush’s battles in the Oceanian military nation were recorded in the Legitimacy Kingdom database. He was checking those.
“We need to think of a way to deal with this. Otherwise, the princess will be the first one to be taken out.”
“Wait, I thought the obvious solution was to ignore our orders and run away! Wait a second, Quenser!! Dammit, you really are a knight in shining armor, you know that!? You’re wasted as a commoner!!” shouted back Heivia as he chased after Quenser who had started to run.
Quenser was headed for the wreckage of one of the Water Strider’s main cannons. The wreckage looked like a metal pylon forcibly bent into a V shape. It had ripped open like an empty can right in the middle of the bend.
The rip was over 70 cm across. A human could probably walk inside without even crouching.
Quenser slid his body inside the crack, but did not go all the way inside. He was checking on the edge of the “wall” as seen from within the crack.
Flat cylindrical objects with a 20 cm diameter and 10 cm thickness were stuffed inside. They were likely installed from one end of the tunnel-like main cannon to the other.
As Quenser inspected the edge, Heivia asked a question with an expression of regret.
“Hey, Sir Knight. Is this any time to be looting? What are you looking for anyway?”
“Electromagnets,” replied Quenser bluntly. “The Water Strider’s main cannons were low-stability plasma cannons. After the special gas was turned into plasma, it was sent in the proper direction using a large number of electromagnets installed within the barrel.”
“Did you look up the destroyed Object’s design, battlefield student?”
“That much is just general knowledge,” said Quenser as he continued his work with both hands.
He took the parts for the large electric drill he had for drilling into the cliff wall and removed them from their bag. He then removed the cylindrical electromagnets from the edge of the rip in the main cannon and put them into the empty bag. After finishing, he grabbed just the battery from the electric drill’s parts.
“What are you going to do with those electromagnets?”
“Attach them to metal of course. You know what Objects are primarily made of, right?” After leaving the crack in the main cannon, Quenser tapped the side of the cannon with the back of his hand. “Steel mixed with high heat resistant materials.”
“Are you serious? Are you saying you’re going to go rock climbing on that giant monster!?”
Without answering the question, Quenser held his handheld device out toward Heivia’s face.
It was displaying the satellite image.
“Froleytia seemed pretty impatient, but we probably have a bit more time. They can’t head straight for the area 2 kilometers north of here. That’s where the Water Strider wreckage is thickest. Even if the powered suit unit can get over it, there is too much wreckage around for them to have enough space to carry out the assembly process. They’ll have to head back and take a bit of a detour. …That means the Rush can’t just head away from here in a straight line. While they’re circling around, we’ll have a chance where the Rush draws closer to us. We might be able to do something.”
“You mean because the wall of Object wreckage can’t be blown away with normal explosives?” asked Heivia in annoyance. “Did you forget, Quenser? The Rush still has one of its main cannons left! That thing can destroy a brand new Object, so that wreckage will be no problem for it!!”
“If it just had to destroy it, yes.” Quenser’s expression did not change. “But the Rush’s main cannon is a rapid fire beam cannon Gatling gun. The armor it fires at melts from the heat. Even if they’re wearing a powered suit, do you think a person can just walk through those blast furnace-like conditions? Also, the outside of the main cannon may be resistant to shocks, but the inner portions they’ll also be carrying are filled with sensitive equipment.”
“Even if the Rush takes this detour,” said Heivia who seemed completely flustered. “We’ll still be in danger. Whether it’s the powered suits that 5.56mm bullets won’t work on or the Second Generation Object with 100 cannons covering every direction, it would be suicide for just the two of us to try to fight them.”
“Sorry, but I don’t have time to argue. …Look at this image, Heivia. The Rush will be here in less than 3 minutes!! It’ll be passing by less than 50 meters from here!!”
“To hell with that!! If there’s no time, then just explain yourself! I’m running away otherwise!!”
Heivia was ready to run away regardless of shame or honor, but Quenser grabbed his shoulder. Heivia seriously considered knocking him down by force, but Quenser spoke before he could do so.
“Please help me, Heivia.”
“No, thank you! I only take sadistic orders from women!! I’m not going down to hell with you!!”
“You can’t escape regardless. If the unit is wiped out, the Information Alliance will use all of its forces to do a sweep of the area. And even if you slip through the gaps in their search, the Legitimacy Kingdom will not rescue you. You will just end up freezing to death before spring.”
“And don’t think you’ll be rescued if they take you prisoner. I’m just a commoner, but you’re a noble. The brunt of their cruelty will be aimed at you rather than me. And having to pay a ransom for you would bring shame to your family, so you would never inherit it after that.”
“Are you serious…? Then what am I supposed to do!?”
“Help me, Heivia,” said Quenser again. “We have no time.”
The Second Generation Object known as the Rush by the Legitimacy Kingdom was named the Gatling 033 by the Information Alliance. The Elite girl sat in its cockpit. As Quenser had predicted, she had no choice but to take a detour.
The battle with the Legitimacy Kingdom Object would be determined by how quickly the maintenance on her main cannon could be completed. Once it was, the battle would effectively be over.
However, the Elite girl was not piloting the Object at full speed.
In fact, she had lowered her speed to move along very, very cautiously.
The Gatling 033 used an air cushion engine that used the power of the air and special treads for high speed movement. She doubted the scattered Object wreckage could damage the treads, but in the off chance that they did, she would lose even more time with the extra maintenance. She was afraid of losing her time advantage.
(Objects can withstand nuclear attacks, so I doubt it would be damaged so easily, but that is why completely unpredictable “acts of god” are so frightening. Oh ho ho.)
Those who let their guard down when they had a single safe strategy could not hope to defeat what were known as “coincidences”.
The outcome of entire wars rested on the shoulders of an Elite, so the girl felt it was necessary to pay close attention even after putting together a safe strategy.
Luckily, her maintenance was simple enough that she would likely still have time to finish her maintenance and attack the Legitimacy Kingdom Object even while taking such a cautious detour.
A few different means of hindering the convoy had been set up, but the powered suit unit had taken action to keep them from losing any time.
However, she could not allow herself to get too worked up.
It was important to keep a level head.
If she became impatient and moved at full speed to preserve that safe strategy, it could bring about unnecessary trouble that would bring that safe strategy crashing down. Even if she was just barely staying on the proper side of the limit, she had to accurately move the Object like she was a machine as well. That was the way to ensure victory.
Suddenly, the Gatling 033’s sensors picked up infrared rays.
It was the type that guided weapons used to aim.
The white smoke of something being launched came from atop a cliff to her side…but the cliff only came up to about half the height of the Gatling 033. It was a portable anti-tank missile, a weapon that was not really useful on a modern battlefield.
(If this is all they can do to slow me down, then these “acts of god” are surprisingly cute. Oh ho ho.)
It happened immediately after it was fired.
It was no more than 0.3 seconds later.
The smallest of the Gatling 033’s weapons reacted. A metal railgun shell was fired at a speed greater than Mach 5. The missile that had only just left the barrel was shot down and an area 10 meters around where it had been fired was blown away. The impact held such great power that it blew away even the flames of the missile.
A dull rumble shook the snowy earth.
Paying it no heed, the Elite girl informed her fellow soldiers.
“Oh ho ho. This is the Gatling 033. Someone who is likely from the Legitimacy Kingdom attacked me in the middle of my detour.” She sounded utterly bored. “No, that will not be necessary. There is unlikely to be even a body left. It would be a waste of time to investigate. Oh ho ho.”
Heivia hid behind some rocks a bit away.
He had attached a portable anti-tank missile launcher to some Water Strider wreckage, connected a cable to it, and had fired it remotely. The Rush’s railgun had fired on an area well away from where Heivia was.
But his body was still covered in sweat.
If the Rush realized what Heivia was trying to do, he would have been shot without hesitation.
“…God dammit. I can’t tell if going along with him is bringing me towards victory or death.”
Quenser was not currently with Heivia.
He of course had not been blown away with the anti-tank missile.
Heivia slowly left the rocks, got down on his belly, and used his rifle scope to check around the area.
Quenser had run between pieces of Water Strider wreckage to travel across the cliff. The Information Alliance’s Rush had various sensors, so the odds were good he would be spotted if he simply hid. The reason Quenser had not been shot was…
(Because it’s Object wreckage, hm?)
Heivia himself was hiding behind a piece of thick armor plating.
Object armor was incredibly thick and it would reflect radar and most other types of sensors. Also, Quenser was currently using a piece of anti-nuclear weapon lead plating as a shield. Quenser could not have been located even with X-rays.
(Also, the shockwave from that blast affected the surrounding snow and the smaller pieces of armor. Someone running around in white camouflage might be overlooked as long as the sensors don’t pick up on an abnormality.)
The Rush was currently moving through a ravine.
The Object was slowly moving along such that it was almost rubbing up against the cliff face
Quenser jumped from the cliff.
Just before he jumped, he threw a plastic explosive off the cliff and detonated it. A great amount of dirt and snow cut off the Rush’s information from its cameras, microphones, heat sensors, and other sensors. Since the Object barely fit inside the ravine, the Elite would likely either think the vibration of the Object had caused a landslide or a bomb had been detonated remotely in an attempt to block the Object’s path.
The Rush was made up of the spherical main body with the † shaped float and the treads located directly below that. The floats extended to the front, back, left, and right. The two to the left and the right each had a rapid fire beam cannon Gatling gun installed on the top of the end.
Quenser had landed on one of those.
Even if the Rush had slowed down to make it through the ravine, it was still moving. When Quenser landed, he could not stop his momentum, and his feet slipped.
(Waaahhh!? Damn. The past movement patterns I checked on my handheld device were no use whatsoever!!)
He then slipped down off the main cannon.
He landed on his butt atop the Rush’s float.
(…Come to think of it, I rode on here in Oceania, didn’t I?)
He looked up.
The Object had over 100 cannons both large and small, but it did not have all that many on the side. They likely wanted to give priority to giving the main cannon room.
However, it did have almost 20 smaller cannons.
Quenser attached a rope to an electromagnet and then wrapped a battery cable around the rope. He plugged the power cable into the jack on the front of the electromagnet and bluish-white sparks flew from it. He lightly swung the rope around to build up centrifugal force. After gaining momentum, he threw the electromagnet straight up. The mass attached at a point near the base of a small cannon.
The Rush’s armor plates used carbon and aramid, but the electromagnet succeeded in attaching.
(Now then. This is like having something stuck to your face. Even all those sensors are of no use at this close range. That’s the problem with being so large.)
Quenser grabbed the rope with both hands and began climbing up. In all honesty, that was the hardest part. He was wearing thick gloves, but a stinging, scraping pain covered his palms in no time.
It felt like forever before he made it all the way up.
While making sure to avoid being seen by the aiming camera located just below the barrel, he sat down on top of the cannon. It was similar to taking a quick rest on a short outcropping while rock climbing. However, his goal was still quite distant.
He was only about 20 meters up.
Quenser pulled an additional electromagnet and rope out of the large bag, but then he heard Heivia over his radio.
“You really just run all over the place with a confident grin on your face, don’t you? If the Rush had magnetic sensors, you would have been noticed the second you used the first electromagnet.”
“That was no coincidence,” said Quenser as he started to move slowly toward the spherical main body at the base of the cannon. Moving across the cylindrical cannon took more care than he had expected. “I rode on the Rush’s float in that Oceanian military nation, remember? I noticed it had no magnetic sensors on the main body then. I also noticed that the aiming cameras for the cannons were located on the underside, leaving the top side defenseless.”
“Oh, god. Wouldn’t it be faster if you just got the Object design from her in bed?” joked Heivia, but Quenser ignored him and looked up at the giant Object.
Just the main body was 50 meters across, so he still had plenty to look up at.
“It’s just like how you can’t see something stuck to your face with your own eyes. The Elite won’t notice that I’m rock climbing.”
Quenser removed the rope from the electromagnet attached to the side of the armor.
However, he was more than halfway down the spherical main body, so the wall was slanted more than 90 degrees. It was jutting out towards Quenser. An expert free climber may have managed easily, but a complete amateur like Quenser would have a hard time climbing up even with the help of the rope. It would have been easier if he was climbing straight up with the rope hanging down vertically.
However, he could hardly head back now.
He was over 20 meters from the ground. Even with snow on the ground, he would not fare well with a drop from that height. Meanwhile, the Object was picking up speed. It must have left the narrowest part of the ravine. With the Water Strider wreckage buried under the snow, jumping to the ground would be suicide.
(Both heading up and heading down leads to hell. I should really get paid overtime for this.)
While crouched down atop the small cannon, Quenser looked around to check on his climbing route.
“Quenser,” said Heivia from the radio tucked into Quenser’s uniform. “I get that you’re climbing up, but where exactly are you headed?”
“Dunno. But I need to find something I can use to slow down their maintenance! I could destroy the radar or the auxiliary sensors, or I could do something to the cockpit barriers to force them to open! After I get up, I need to find a way to buy us some time!!”
“We’re running out of time. If you don’t hurry, you’ll be taken along with the Rush to the Information Alliance’s impromptu maintenance area!! If that happens, it’ll be hard for me to provide a diversion while you escape!”
Hearing that, Quenser pulled a new electromagnet from the bag.
The electromagnet could be used as a powerful handhold, but it was useless in its current state.
Still on the cannon, Quenser connected the thick cable into the jack on the electromagnet.
Bluish-white sparks flew.
He forced himself not to flinch and threw the electromagnet a few meters up onto the Rush’s body.
With a solid click, a new contact point was created on the flat armor of the spherical body.
(The pilot can’t see a soldier attached to the surface from within the cockpit. But I have to make sure not to pass in front of one of the cannon’s cameras. The cameras are set below the cannons. I have to pass the rope around and get my feet on the cannon from above.)
“Quenser, not good!!” shouted Heivia in a sharp voice.
For an instant, Quenser did not know what Heivia meant, but he soon figured it out.
Over 200 cannons both large and small were installed on the Rush’s surface.
Those cannons were making small, ordered movements like a crowd in a stadium doing the wave. That flow was headed his way like a grassy field blowing in the wind.
(There must have been a slight error in the cannon’s movement, so it’s checking to see if anything is hanging from any of them or on top of any of them!!)
Quenser took his feet from the cannon he was standing on and hung from the rope with both arms.
Immediately afterwards, the wave of the cannons passed right below him.
He had managed to get through it.
But then Quenser felt an unpleasant jerking sensation reach his arms.
He had only one battery, but he had multiple electromagnets. The more electromagnets he used, the less power would be left in the battery. And that would lower the power with which the electromagnets clung to the armor.
He could tell the electromagnet attached to the armor surface was slowly sliding down. Quenser frantically got a better grip on the rope and tried to climb up as much as he could.
Luckily, he was almost at the center of the sphere.
The slope was greater than 90 degrees there, but once he got past the halfway point, the slope would work in his favor. Then, he would just be heading up a slope.
If he had received proper training like Heivia, he might have learned how to support his weight by grabbing the rope with his feet. However, Quenser did not know how to do that. He frantically climbed up using almost entirely his arms.
(Please, don’t let me fall here!!)
Quenser finally made it up the rope and grabbed the electromagnet itself.
He pulled himself up onto the upper portion of the sphere.
He just had an upwards slope left.
(Now I can make it…)
Quenser’s heavy breathing showed white in the cold air.
The effects would be even weaker, but he used an additional electromagnet to create another handhold. However, it no longer had to support his entire weight. He just needed something to help him with the steep slope, so he would be putting less of a burden on it. It would most likely be no problem.
“Heivia. Can you hear me, Heivia?”
He tried to contact the other boy over the radio, but he got no response.
He must have moved out of range. The Object was headed to the nearby site where the Information Alliance powered suit unit would replace the main cannon, but he had still ended up quite far away.
Quenser’s mind turned to the plastic explosives in the bag on his back.
(Now, what do I target? I’m not trying to blow up the Object this time. Where can I damage it to slow down the maintenance the most?)
He was not even sure if the bombs he had were enough to destroy any part of it. An Object was a monstrous weapon that could withstand a nuclear strike. Its sensors and radar would likely be destroyed in a nuclear strike, but that did not mean the Hand Axe plastic explosive would be enough.
(Trying to destroy something from the outside will be difficult. This isn’t something for a flesh-and-blood soldier to attempt. Which means…)
Quenser came up with a new plan.
If he was going to do something, this idea was his only option.
But he did not have time to slowly check that his plan would work. The Object he stood on took another new action.
Specifically, the cannons did.
The lenses of the cameras attached to them all made a slight whirring noise in unison.
Quenser’s throat grew dry.
(A simultaneous firing!?)
Inside the cockpit of the Information Alliance’s Second Generation Object, the Gatling 033, the pilot Elite’s fingertips moved complexly.
Multiple windows opened on the large window, but she did not see any suspicious shadows at the moment. She was using the sensors too, but for an Object, “close range” was a few hundred meters out. An enemy that was truly close by was unlikely to show up.
There was a simple reason that she was suspicious of something being there.
“Some kind of electromagnetic signal was transmitting from close to the Gatling 033’s surface. Oh ho ho.”
The Elite girl had carried out the check due to a warning that appeared in a small window. She had confirmed that some kind of signal was being sent and received, but she unfortunately could not determine what kind of information it was.
There might have been someone there.
Or it might have been something unmanned.
(Oh ho ho. I moved all the cannons, so I know whatever it is is not using a cannon as a foothold.)
Due to that, the Elite girl decided that it was most likely unmanned. The radio signal might have been coming from a transmitter that would help the enemy Object aim.
The Elite moved her fingertips and sent signals to every one of the Gatling 033’s cannons.
(How about I carry out one more countermeasure to be absolutely sure? Oh ho ho.)
She was performing a simultaneous firing.
She would fire the over 100 cannons both large and small installed on the Gatling 033 all at once.
She did not have to worry about aiming.
What mattered was that she fired them.
(Oh ho ho. Strictly speaking, it is the shockwaves and radiant heat that accompanies the firing that will swat away any annoying bugs.)
Railguns, coilguns, laser beams, and low-stability plasma cannons.
Each of the cannons produced massive side effects when fired. Object cannons could not be placed around bases because those side effects were so great they would likely affect those in the base.
If someone was clinging to the Object or some small device was attached, the Gatling 033’s simultaneous firing would send shockwaves and radiant heat across the entirety of the armor.
Whether it was a person or an unmanned device sending the radio signal, they or it would be knocked off.
The Elite accessed the recorder box and called up information from the countless cameras and sensors installed on the Object. She was checking the time when she had passed through the narrowest portion of the ravine.
The camera showed only a blurred shadow, but the heat sensor had picked something up. But…
(Well, either way...)
The Elite coldheartedly hit a key with her index finger.
(Mercy to those who bow down before me and none for those who oppose me. That is the standard for those who operate Objects. Oh ho ho.)
Immediately afterwards, every single cannon fired mercilessly.
Massive shockwaves and radiant heat covered the entirety of the Object’s armor.
After confirming that the radio signal had disappeared, the Elite girl happily piloted the Gatling 033 on further.