It suddenly became a lot easier to motivate myself to translate because I started playing Kantai Collection…
You might see me streaming it on http://www.twitch.tv/madobenana.
EDIT: Finally got U-511 after sparkling my entire combined fleet to 100 morale and burning offerings to RNG-sama in the corner of my room. Now if I could just somehow pump enough firepower out of my CLs/DDs to sink this E-4 boss, I would be very happy.
“Eyri-nee, heyyy, Eyri-nee.”
“Wake up, wake up. It’s already noon.”
“U─n, it’s still noon so one more hour……wait, noon!?”
With a voice bordering on being a scream, Eyriey flew out of bed.
Scratching off her bed hair roughly, she threw off her pajama which was a simple shirt in a big rush.
“No way, it’s already this time!? I completely slept in!”
While changing into her favorite overalls which were soaked with the smell of machine oil, she narrowed her eyes against the bright light pouring in from the window──
Slowly coming back to calm, she looked around where she was.
A delicate glass chandelier adorning the ceiling was shining and underfoot was a thick carpet. The bed she had been sleeping on was enough for one, two, even three people, and it would still have room.
“……When did my room become this extravagant?”
“This is a hotel.”
Yuto sank herself into a large cushion as she happily informed her.
“Yesterday, at the tower──”
“Ah, right, right. You had a meeting with Shasa-chan.”
Her notebook had fallen beside the pillow.
……Ahh, I was confirming the details of our meeting……and fell asleep like that, huh.
“Eyri-nee, Eyri-nee! Yuto also pro─perly kept a ‘memo‘. See, ‘Early in the morning, I take off on an airship together with Eyri-nee!‘.”
“Oh─, that’s amazing, Yuto; I also made absolutely certain to write it down. At any rate, Shasa-chan said we couldn’t meet her at work today.”
Turning over the notebook, she flipped to the page with a large tag attached.
“Hrm? For the day before’s preparations, it’s ‘my luggage‘ so I guess that’s pretty much snacks. Next is a first-class airship pilot’s license and that’s in my pocket, so that’s all good. Next is……what, it’s just to head to floor 59’s mechanical bureau’s airship department and do the procedure. After that, we just have to go to the airport on floor 65.”
“For all the anno─ying stuff, Shasa-nee said, ‘I will make the arrangements‘!”
“Right, as expected of a clerk for the tower. I’m bad with troublesome things so it’s a big help.”
“Could I have you go along with Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> and the Governmental Sector’s unit as the airship’s pilot?”
……Well, I went with Sheltis, Monica and Leon to the floating archipelago <Lagoon> before, so it should be fine.
The airship was attacked by a lightning sprite that time so it was dangerous, but this time it was a normal infiltration mission so it should be safe……should be safe…………really?
“……They won’t have a reason to shoot down the infiltrators with the airship, will they?”
Yuto was jumping around on the sofa and used the rebound force off the cushion to make a big jump. With that, she hugged onto her shoulders.
“Eyri-nee, Shasa-nee said, ‘It’ll be fine if it’s Eyriey!‘.”
“Mu, true. I feel like it’ll somehow work out. Well then, let’s make sure to transport Sheltis and the others! I got paid too, after all.”
While holding onto Yuto, she sank into the sofa.
“With that decided, right now we should go to the mechanical bureau’s airship division and submit an airship pilot application. When did Shasa said we had to go?”
“If not, the registration won’t be in time, she said.”
She stole a glance at the digital clock.
“……What time is it?”
“A little after 12, noon. Hey, Eyri-nee, Yuto’s hungry!”
“───Gyaaaaaaa, oh crap! Yuto, eat this donut. I’m heading to floor 59!”
Eyriey tossed the snack in her pocket to Yuto and ran out at full speed. [T/N: “snack” written above “emergency rations”.]
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, floor 287.
In the room of the Priestess whom he guards, he was sitting directly atop the carpet spread on the floor.
──This is already a habit.
He was bad at sitting in a chair. He couldn’t help being uneasy when sitting in a chair. It was a different matter if it was hefty like a large sofa, but if not, then he would prefer to stand or sit on the floor.
That was even more so when he was trying to concentrate on things.
He straightened his back and closed his eyes.
He hoisted his great sword which had been designed just for him at a non-standard size and swung it down with all his strength. Drawing his ideal swordsmanship in the air, he traced and carved that line countless times with the edge of his great sword.
It was something he did when he couldn’t leave his Priestess’ side in place of actual training.
……There’s still room to improve my swordsmanship.
……I can become stronger.
In the back of his mind was the figure of another person who lined up directly beside him. At times, it was Sheltis, and at others, it was his coworkers like Ran or Horn.
……I wonder if I can surpass my ideal.
……Surpass my older brother.
No matter how much he polished his sword skills, the distance between his ideal and himself never shortened. To close that gap even by one centimeter, by one millimeter, he continued to swing his sword in the back of his mind──
That scenery vanished like mist in an instant.
“…………Are you going tomorrow?”
Atop the bed and lying down was a girl with a listless expression which he could see from the side. It wasn’t that she didn’t get up. Leon knew that she didn’t even have the energy to get up.
“Syun-rei, it’s okay if you don’t try to force yourself to get up. Sleep for today. I will be here.”
The girl had continued to pray for Hyouketsu Kyoukai for three days.
It had only been three hours since she had entrusted authority to Queen Salah again. Her stamina depleted, normally she would fall into a sleep so deep that she wouldn’t wake up no matter what happened.
“…………Meimel said it. That you’re going together with people from the Governmental Sector.”
Meimel had sent her the information by telepathy while she was praying for the barrier. Syun-rei already knew that he would be heading for the third organization.
“…………Are you going?”
──Are you leaving me and going?
The black-haired girl’s wavering eyes were conveying that.
“So you heard it from Meimel.”
The girl wordlessly nodded.
“Then you also heard about your own mission.”
She would remain behind at the tower with Ymy and observe their joint unit with clairvoyance.
It was an important role made because of their caution of the Governmental Sector’s ‘Heaven’s Wheel‘, of course, but also to contact Horn who was in the separate unit.
“It’s because you’re looking that I can move without worry.”
“While I’m gone, I’ve left your guard up to Ran. Actually, if you’re worried, then watch over me with clairvoyance.”
“Putting aside success or failure, we’ll be departing tomorrow and be gone for the day……and come back in the morning the day after. I’ll be back soon so just rest yourself here at the tower.”
The edges of her mouth loosened slightly ── with that expression, she once again went to sleep. Yes, she should be too tired to even open her eyes.
……That’s just how worried she is.
Unrelated to shinryoku, Syun-rei’s danger sense was sharp. It had been rare for her to worry this much even as of late.
“There might be one or two problems, huh. Did you perhaps come because you were worried about that too?”
“……I don’t know why either.”
The girl sat on the table behind him with a shadow hanging over her expression.
“It looks like you’re feeling down compared to usual though.”
“…………Yeah. There was a bit of stuff yesterday.”
Ymy smiled bitterly with circles under her eyes. She had come to the room around thirty minutes ago. When he asked, she hadn’t asked to see Syun-rei but him.
“Syun-rei shouldn’t wake up for a little while. I don’t mind if you speak about it at leisure.”
“Yeah. Rather than a chat, I came here thinking I wanted to get blasted by Leon. Maybe a harsh peptalk?……Something a little painful happened.”
“Rather than me, doesn’t Meimel specialize in that?”
He was a Guard, not a Priestess.
A Guard’s peptalk would basically consist of something like how the Instructor waved around her whip and shouted in a loud voice. For a Priestess, it was different; they would skillfully encourage the individual while taking in the individual’s mental state. And that was the specialty of Ymy’s senior Priestess, Meimel.
“……I just wanted to ask a guy. But I can’t ask Sheltis.”
“I don’t mind, but don’t expect much from me if it’s difficult.”
“It’s fine if you answer in what ifs. What would you do if you had something really nagging at you other than the mission just before an important mission like this one?”
“It depends on the issue, but I’ll generally forget about it.”
“Forget about it until when?”
For the second question, he stared up at the ceiling for a little while in silence.
“It would more or less be completely gone from my head. I wouldn’t remember until I returned from the mission and looked at the memo stuck on my room’s door.”
“Because you want to focus on the mission?”
“Yeah, I don’t want to make a common mistake because I have some concern.”
Biting down on her lower lip, she whispered that as if speaking to herself. Her grief-stricken jasper eyes were swaying greatly.
“Is that how it is? Does everyone do that?”
“…………I’m glad I asked you.”
“No, it’s just me talking to myself. I just thought I was glad to have asked you. I believed that you would say it straight like this.”
Ymy rubbed her shaded eyes and took a deep breath.
“Okay, I worried about it for an entire night, but that’s no good! It’s not like me! I’ll keep myself from thinking about the thing with Monica-senpai until the day after tomorrow. Yup, yup, I need to concentrate on the important mission ahead of me right now. You can do it, me. Go for──”
“…………Ymy, please be a little quieter.”
Having been scolded by Syun-rei who was lying atop the bed, Ymy meekly bowed her head.
The heat wave scorched the earth bit by bit.
They walked endlessly with heavy equipment backpacks upon their backs across the desert which extended to the visible horizon. Their luggage included a week’s worth of rations, tents, emergency clothes, communicators, etc. Their combined weight exceeded that of a grown male’s.
Nobody said a word. Careful not to deplete even a tiny bit of their stamina, they simply continued forward and onward. Finally, ahead of their forced marched, they could faintly confirm a single white line close to the ground.
The unit’s spiritless pace quickened. They continued wordlessly for another five minutes and finally, the girl at the head of the unit crossed over the white line──
With a completely heartfelt voice, Monica who was at the head of the unit looked up at the sky.
“……I thought……I’d die.”
“So damn hottt, the hell……kinda torture is this, oi.”
After he came Kagura and Vaiel who managed to reach the white line and let out sighs of anguish. With their backs as his goal, he crossed the white line in last place──
“Ah─……that was harsh, as expected.”
With a backpack on his back, Sheltis wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. The overflowing sweat wouldn’t stop. His clothes, from his shirt to his pants, were soaked with sweat.
“You did ittt. Even though the women retired partway before.”
“……That’s because we were careless last time and let the heat enter our conversation.”
“That’s right, we would’ve somehow made it if we just hadn’t spoken.”
Monica and Kagura were also wiping their waterfall-like sweat with towels. On the other hand, Vaiel who had been successful last time as well still seemed to have some energy left.
……As I thought, Vaiel has trained.
To begin with, he was blessed in his build. With the continuous training since he joined the unit, his raw physical strength had improved at a surprising rate, even from Sheltis’ perspective.
“It looks like Vaiel could add on about 10% more weight.”
“No, no. By my calculations, he should be able to go up to 13%.”
“Like hell I can do something that annoying.”
It was an expected answer in some ways.
“Rather than that, how about you? You really fine lazing about here?”
“Nobody else there except you. Come on, what happened to that unit? Got kicked out or something?”
“Ahh, the preparations for that ended sooner that I expected.”
He shrugged in response to what Vaiel pointed out.
He prepared all of his luggage last night. He was bored so he ended up joining in the training he should have been taking a rest from.
……After that, I wanted to say I’d be taking a day off.
……But if I think about it, I’m bad at those kinds of things.
He somewhat felt awkward so he would be leaving without saying it.
“But today’s training is over the top so with the muscle pains tomorrow, it’ll be a horrible sight to see. How about we leave it at this for today?”
“I’m also of the same opinion.”
Monica put her backpack on the ground and agreed.
“Sheltis, this is good enough for today. At any rate, I applied for a three-man cell unit match after this. We’ll somehow manage without you here.”
“Ah, then at least let me watch──”
“No. That’s it for today. Kagura, take my bag. Vaiel, go on ahead and complete the procedures with the Instructor. I’ll send off Sheltis.”
He was basically forced to go with Monica to the exit at the edge of the training grounds.
“Well then, Monica, do your best for training.”
Just before he was about to turn around, she stopped him.
“Uhh……well, what to say……don’t be reckless in tomorrow’s mission. Spare me from having you in the hospital after taking a Yuugenshu’s attack when you return.”
“I’m sorry about that.”
He made a bitter smile when he remembered his head injury.
Monica gulped and blinked repeatedly. ……I wonder what this is about; she doesn’t usually do this so it’s making me curious.
“You’re departing tomorrow so even if you run late, you’ll return by the morning of the day after tomorrow. I was wondering if you’d be here on the next weekly holiday.”
“What I have planned? Nothing in particular.”
If there were anything, it would be Eyriey and Yuto coming over to play, but they were too spontaneous so he couldn’t tell.
“I-Is that so!? Then……I have something to ask……on the next weekly holiday, would you go to the Living Districts with me? I’d like you……to show me around.”
“The Living Districts?”
“I heard a little while ago from Kagura that you’re well-informed about the Living Districts. I used to live in the Living Districts but after I came an apprentice Priestess, I’ve lived here so it’s been a while. I have absolutely no idea what the cityscape looks like now.”
“If that’s all, then that’s easy.”
It was like his own backyard since he’d lived by working parttime at The Two Swans <Albireo> for two years after he was exiled from the tower.
“Is it okay if it’s in the evening?”
“Ah, u, u……n-no! Wait! If……if you can find the time for it, a little before noon at the tower’s gates would be good. Like that, we’d be able to eat together for lunch as well somewhere in the Living Districts. Of course, it’s my treat!”
“Okay. Then I’ll think of a restaurant that seems good.”
“I-It’s a promise!”
Monica nodded with her cheeks slightly reddened.
“I’ll make sure to remember. ──See you then.”
Turning his back to the girl who serves as his unit leader, he headed towards the tower.
“……So Monica’s made her move, hmmmm.”
“Yeah, come to think of it, Cadet Guards don’t really go to the Living Districts much. Regular Guards are entrusted with policing the Living Districts though.”
“No, that’s not what I meant.”
“……Well, I did think you hadn’t noticed. That itself was the category of speculation. There’s just one thing.”
For a moment, machine crystal <Ilis> left a pause where she seemed to be choosing her words before continuing.
“It’ll be fine if the situation doesn’t twist strangely.”
──That voice came from his right, under the shade of a large tree.
Appearing casually from the shade was a tall, lean man with a sunny expression. He had a dark brown jacket over a light brown shirt and pants that matched in color. In contrast with his clothes that couldn’t be called flashy, The greatly distorted rim of his cowboy hat was distinctive.
“We met just yesterday, but are you doing good? But ya know, nii-chan, you sure can do it even with that docile face. Right at high noon in that kind of atmosphere planning to go with a girl on a da─……ugefuu!?”
“Huick-sama, thoughtless conversation is strictly forbidden.”
“Th-Thoughtless, you say……and what did you hit me with just now? It was harder than usual.”
“The edge of this suitcase.”
That hurts ── the Ninth <Huick> sighed while pressing on his flank. The suited woman standing beside him was expressionlessly holding onto a large suitcase with both hands.
“Ohh, so you did remember my name. Listen up, nii-chan, names are important. The trick to moving up in society is to remember your business contact’s face and name. Well, it’s not a something Guards would be used to.”
“So……did you have some business with me? I thought we were departing tomorrow.”
“To learn by watching.”
The man dispatched from the Governmental Sector pointed with his chin at the training grounds he’d just come from with Monica.
“Just relaxing at the hotel is nice too but since I’m here at Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, so looking around and broadening my knowledge is what makes me an adult. And when I walked a little bit, I found an interesting place. Those are your training grounds or something, right?”
The wire mesh fence-isolated outdoor training grounds.
It was a large area which had at most a little under a thousand people and more than several hundred Cadet Guards at all times. For people who saw it for the first time, it was a sight which garnered interest.
“Ah, are you possibly asking us to guide you?”
“No, no, I wouldn’t do something like have you take the trouble to do that. Rather than watching to learn, I’m the type to go hands-on. Kuro and I were thinking we should take the chance and participate.”
“In the training? No, but that would be……”
The weapons being used had experimental techniques of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> incorporated so it should be rare for an outsider to be allowed to enter the training grounds. At most, they would have to watch from outside the wire mesh fence……
Kuro who had been keeping silent said with a rare wry smile.
“We were already found and chased out by somebody called Instructor.”
“Ah, I thought so.”
“Shucks, how coldhearted. It would’ve been fine to let us train with them for a bit.”
The Ninth <Huick>’s mouth tapered to a point in boredom.
“So when we got kicked out, we saw you, nii-chan. I called out to you to see how you were. So in reality, how are you?”
“……What do you mean?”
“You’d best be prepared for there to be people that can’t return tomorrow.”
The Governmental Sector secret military member had a smile on that could even be thought of as friendly.
“There are a total of three dangerous times. When we infiltrate their base, when we search their base and when we’re withdrawing. ──Isn’t it fun? We’re infiltrating the base of the guys who picked a fight with the Governmental Sector in broad daylight. Being discovered is within expectations. Being found and running away but failing to do so is also within the realm of expectations.”
“……And if we can’t get away?”
“Who knows? Everybody can just do whatever they wanna.”
Beside the man who shrugged his shoulders and joked, the woman accompanying him followed up with more.
“It’s fine if you rampage as you like, are taken prisoner without struggle or join up with the enemy. Those who will return to the floating continent <Orbie Clar> are only those who manage to withdraw to outside the base.”
“No mercy, huh.”
“Myyy, how compassionate; these kinds of things usually have to be said beforehand. This time, we’re even having Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> spare people so it’s a great serving of blood. Riiight, Kuro?” [T/N: The word for sparing is also used for cutting.]
“Of course, we have also informed the Priestesses.”
……I see, so that’s the reason.
The main unit, separate unit and, on top of those, continuous observation by Priestesses for support. The reason such meticulous arrangements was because she was prepared for such sacrifices.
“That’s all I wanted to say. See you then; I’ll be expecting things from you tomorrow, okay?”
The Ninth <Huick> waved his hand casually and Kuro bowed her head deeply.
Watching the two head off from behind, Sheltis unconsciously clenched his fists tightly to the point that they became sweaty.
The Elite Guard residences.
Comprised of floors 251 to 259 of the tower, they served as lodging and training rooms for the Elite Guards who were candidates to become the next generation Sennenshi. Even of those, floor 259 which was at the top was the living area and training place solely for Cadres Guard Ishtar who stood at the summit.
“……Onee-sama, what is this dubious machine?”
It was a silver cuboid which looked like it could fit her if she were to ball up. There were suspicious, flashing parts and some numbers were being converted into a graph on an LCD screen.
“We were told to investigate this, but I don’t even know what this is.”
She kicked the edge of the machine and sighed.
──Jeez, just when I thought she called me suddenly.
Sneaking a peak at her sister who was holed up in the kitchen, I’sa sighed.
“Mm─, I’sa-chan, how is it going?”
“It’s not going at all. That’s why I need you to tell me what this machine is.”
“I was told it’s a communicator. Can’t you tell by looking?”
A carefree voice echoed from the kitchen.
“I wouldn’t be having trouble if I could understand by looking. What is this rough……rather, this thing is lacking too much in terms of design so I can’t see it as anything other than a mysterious silver box.”
“It’s pointless for you to expect anything from the Mechanical Bureau’s design.”
The one who responded as such was a bald man sitting in a chair and drinking from a teacup with grace.
“For a communicator, the important part is the reliability and durability. After that is resistance against sudden impacts.”
“……Then you help too, Jin. If we don’t get back to practice soon, we’ll get chewed out by the boss.” [T/N: “Boss” written as “Captain Ran”.]
Jin Ixnaris ── the dual gunman paired with I’sa. While still in his early twenties, his calm bearing and bald appearance made him seem more mature than his years.
“That’s right─. Jin, you’re a gunner so you’re good with machines, right? The inspection has to be done quickly and returned to the owner or it’s a nuisance.”
“I don’t mind but who entrusted you with this?”
“It was Horn-chan─”
I’sa’s face tensed when Ishtar said that name nonchalantly.
The third Sennenshi, Horn Nova. She was the Ex Machina versed in all manners of heavy firearms and the captain in charge of the third Guard unit.
“I might……be bad at dealing with her.”
Especially her expressionlessness. No matter the subject, she wouldn’t budge an eyebrow, and the truth was she thought she was a robot because of how much she couldn’t read her emotions. On the other hand, her older sister had said “She’s actually a shy person”……she wanted to ask but didn’t have the courage to ask the person herself.
“But, onee-sama? Why would Captain Horn do that?”
“We’ll be using them on missions and Ishtar and Horn-chan will carry the main communicator and an additional set respectively. That’s why Ishtar was also asked to inspect it.”
“……It seems like you’d be shot down for skimping on the inspection.”
“Let’s get this done quick. The main communicator is this giant box and the additional handset is this handheld terminal, right?”
Taking out the terminal with skilled movements, Jin tossed one of them over.
“I’ll speak from one of the edges of the floor, so confirm if you can hear me.”
“……Is that good enough for an inspection?”
“Talking and hearing. It’s the most important inspection for a communicator.”
The dual gunner responded in a serious tone and heading to a corner of the living room with the additional handset in one hand.
……They specifically prepared a communicator.
……That basically means they’ll be communicating over distances where telepathy can’t be used?
I’sa also had not been informed of the fine details of her older sister’s ‘mission‘. This was her older sister who would normally tell her about her mission beforehand though so she could infer that it was a mission with some complicated circumstances.
“Well, nothing will come out of asking……so, Jin? If you don’t start speaking soon, we won’t be able to do the inspection.”
“Eh? I can’t hear you.”
She could tell that Jin was talking from the corner of the living room based on his appearance but she couldn’t hear his voice at all from the all-important communicator.
“Ahh, that’s right, I’sa-chan, be careful handling that. It has a really fragile component so it’ll break if you bonk it a little.”
“But then doesn’t that mean it’s unsuited to bring outside?”
“Right─. That’s why the case is shockproof and the device is secured inside. You have to treat people and machines like looking after a cute child─”
She looked down timidly at the silver communicator sitting by her feet. A fragile communicator. She could only think of one reason that it wouldn’t be working.
……Why is the corner of the box crumpled, I wonder?
Just now when she didn’t know what this communicator was.
“We were told to investigate this, but I don’t even know what this is.”
“She kicked the edge of the machine and sighed.”
“N-Nooooooooooo!? I didn’t even try to kick it that hard!?”
“I’sa-chan!? Why are you shouting so loud?”
“Onee-sama, onee-sama, you idiot! I always ask you to tell me important information quickly without putting on airs────!”
Throwing aside the additional handset, I’sa scratched at her head and screamed.
The setting sun dyed the sky red was sinking below the distant horizon before she realized it.
“……The wind has become cool.”
Kagura shook her shoulders because of the sudden gust that brushed against the base of her neck.
The heat haze that saturated the training grounds had disappeared at some point and the wind wrapping around her formal wear was as cold as her skin.
“Oi, Captain, isn’t this a good time?”
“Yeah, let’s stop here.”
Monica agreed with Vaiel whose formal wear had become sand-colored like her own.
“……Everyone tried hard today.”
She called over the floating machine pearl <Machina> and replayed images from the data it had collected.
The initial half of today’s training had been long-distance trekking while carrying backpacks and the latter half had been unit battles in a three-man cell. The images machine pearl <Machina> had taken were mostly from the latter.
──The unit battle without Sheltis.
They had easily imagined that it would be a harsh battle but the results at the end had been two battles with two victories. Even if they had collected information on their opponents beforehand, it was an unexpected result.
“Vaiel worked twice as hard as usual. I was also able to take it easy.”
“……We’d get lectured by the Instructor if we lost.”
The person in question took off his sweat-soaked Iron Fist Protectors <Knuckle Dusters> and turned away. Behind him, Monica and Kagura exchanged looks and put on slight wry smiles.
……But it’s a good feeling.
What Monica lacked was confidence. That had improved with the gaining of experience and she’d even come to have the energy to head for the front lines by herself. Even Vaiel who always skipped was being obviously refined by participating in the training.
……Even for me, instead of once every two days, now three out of every four days are for training.
Her research job was neglected with that but she had already passed this month’s goal, so there was no problem.
In general, all members were certainly raising the standard of their strength.
“Sheltis is returning the morning of the day after tomorrow, right?”
“That’s what I’ve heard.”
What about it? ── Monica had a question mark pop up in her head.
“No……it’s just that he didn’t say anything like ‘I’ll be going‘. Even if it’s just a day, he’ll be leaving the unit. I thought it was unusual.”
It wasn’t like she was expecting an organizational formality where he would absolutely report when he would be leaving. It was simply that it was unexpected for the boy named Sheltis to not say “I’ll be away” based on his personality.
“Are you not curious, Monica?”
“I think he should have a lot to think about because it’s a big mission. ……Let’s leave him alone.”
She placed both parts of her crossed rods <Rosario> into her belt holders.
With her vibrant sakura-colored hair waving in the wind, Monica looked up at the sky.
“We can only wait for his return.”
……How long have I been like this?
A silent room.
Atop his desk, he had head laid atop his arms which were lying on the desk.
“Sheltis, if you sleep like that, your bedhead will be horrible.”
“……I’m not sleeping.”
I’m just being a little absentminded. Muttering that within his heart, he raised his face.
“But look, you really did get bed hair. Your bangs are pointing up.”
“Nobody’s gonna come anyway.”
Nobody would come and he had decided not to go meet anybody.
“Oh, you won’t go and meet with Ymy? You’ll be participating in an important plan starting tomorrow and she’s also a member of it……you can create a reason to meet.”
“No, it’s fine. For today and tomorrow.”
It wasn’t a heavy pressure on his back and shoulders, but a faint numbness at the tips of his fingers and toes.
──The quality of nervousness is different from before.
He would infiltrate one of the third organization’s bases and might be able to meet Igun-I again. Moreover, there was whether would be able to hear a method which would remove the mateki nesting within him.
Then there was whether he would make it back to the floating continent <Orbie Clar> safely.
“It looks like I’m uncharacteristically nervous. That’s why I don’t want to meet her.”
“Because it might be conveyed to Ymy if you meet her now?”
It wasn’t like he didn’t want to see her. He just had a feeling that he mustn’t meet her.
“It’s feels like a prayer or something? In order for me to give her a good report the next time we meet.”
“Yet another unscientific”
All the more so because he wanted to be closer to Ymy’s side by even a little.
With a clear goal in mind, he wanted to suppress his uplifting feelings that much more.
“……It really is difficult to have our relationship stay like this.”
“Do you mean Elbert Resonance?”
That was the rejection reaction created when extremely powerful shinryoku and mateki came in contact. Because of the barrier standing between Ymy and himself, he still couldn’t touch her with even a finger.
“……I want to do something about it.”
He was holding down his voice.
──I want to tell her sorry for keeping you waiting. I want to be told welcome back.
He was keeping Ymy waiting at the very top of the tower.
He had always had her worrying. For over a year, she didn’t have a Sennenshi and that should have made her uneasy.
“At least……I would like to report something happy.”
Just a little more. Just how much would those words put Ymy at ease? I want to alleviate Ymy’s worries. This is a prayer for that.
“Then you should sleep soon. Since you’ve already decided you won’t meet with her.”
“……I can’t sleep.”
Replying like that in response to machine crystal <Ilis>’ tone which seemed to have yielded, Sheltis turned back to and plopped down onto the desk.
“Sheltis, Sheltis, wake up. It’s already six.”
……I don’t remember sleeping.
When Sheltis woke up, there was one hour left to departure.
“How are you feeling?”
“Hm, I don’t think there’s any problem. It feels like my shoulders and thighs are a little stiff though.”
“Jeez─. That’s why I told you to quit it with that weird posture and go to sleep.”
“It’ll fix itself while I walk.”
Leaving machine crystal <Ilis> atop the bed, he took deep breaths while walking to the washroom. While staring at the splashes of cold water gushing out of the faucet──
He whispered that for himself to hear.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, floor 65.
The running engine was making thunderous noise along with the propeller which was spinning at super speeds.
There were one, two extremely heavy airships advancing while warping the shock-absorbant tiles under the floor. Behind them was a technician maintaining the shock-absorbant tiles.
“It sure is lively straight from the early morning, isn’t ittt.”
Machine crystal <Ilis> spoke in a voice that seemed to feel admiration.
The tower’s internal airport ── it was a floor supervised by the Mechanical Bureau and an area which was conspicuous even for the tower. Those moving around there were not clerks but mechanical technicians and they wore faded overalls instead of the suits worn by clerks.
“Oh, nii-chan, ain’t you early. I admire you for coming here thirty minutes before we’re supposed to meet up.”
“No. I’m afraid he spent the entire night without sleeping.”
Directly behind the Number Nine <Huick> who was folding his arms and carrying nothing was his female subordinate in a suit. The two executives of the Governmental Sector were boldly standing right at the center of the floor.
……The remaining ones are Leon and Horn but it looks like they haven’t come yet.
“Why are you two here?”
“Mm? That would be because this is the gathering location. Am I wrong?”
“Ah……no, not that; this is the very center of the floor. Isn’t it kind of hard to stay in the middle of such a large space? Those around would also be curious so I would stand near the edge.”
Kuro who was standing behind him agreed in a reserved tone.
“Even at the best of times, we are uninvited guests. However, Huick-sama quickly became interested in the airships……and doesn’t want to move from here.”
“Yup, yup, I have a fondness for things like the special machinery of this hand or devices. Like this.”
The Number Nine <Huick> looked up at the silver airship parked directly to his side.
“Nii-chan, have you ridden this?”
“……Umm, I don’t think I have.”
It was a different unit from the transport airships Guards usually rode. To begin with, the usual cylindrical body was even more cramped as if it had been squashed. The weight of the wings was also diminished so they were thin.
──Those are wings for cutting through the air rather than riding on air currents.
“I haven’t seen this often either.”
“I would think so. This is──”
“An exclusively designed special duty machine. A sound dampener is included in the wings and the coating is also used to lower radar response. It limits the crew to heighten speed and covertness……is the description. Unfortunately, it seems it’s still in the midst of development.”
A blond young man was making his way over across the airport with his pure white longcoat waving.
“This is the unit we’ll be using for this mission. Have you already loaded your luggage?”
“Not yet─. Everyone was in the middle of looking at it because it’s an unusual airship.”
“That would be it.”
Leon glanced at the two from the Governmental Sector and Sheltis.
“It doesn’t look like there’s anybody carrying something that looks like luggage. That’s convenient since it seems heavy luggage is limited due to this unit’s delicate center of gravity. Now it just depends on Horn──”
“My luggage was loaded last night.”
The female Sennenshi appeared with the echo of solid shoes on the ground. Hanging on her shoulder was a long-range rifle.
……Me, Leon and Horn. And the two from the Governmental Sector.
……With this, everyone’s here.
“How admirable of everybody to gather here fifteen minutes early. The only pity is that there’s hardly anybody to send you off.”
“Come to think of it, that’s true. Especially in Leon’s case.”
“Yeah. Where’s Syun-rei?”
When he went to the floating archipelago <Lagoon> with Leon last time, she had endured her morbid fear of people to come see him off. It was unexpected that she wouldn’t show up.
“Syun-rei is with Ymy.”
“……Ah, I see.”
It was Syun-rei’s job to monitor them at all times together with Ymy using clairvoyance. Judging from what Leon said, that mission had already begun.
“Hey, hey, you know, Kuro and I still happen to be executives of the Governmental Sector. Is it okay to be showing us a secret machine? Aren’t we generous?”
“The day before yesterday, ane-ue and Meimel decided upon it.”
Horn replied curtly.
“There are several reasons permission was granted but the Governmental Sector probably has similar technology anyway.”
“Hohhh. Well, as you surmise……I wonder if it’s fine if I answer, Kuro?”
“It’s your own responsibility; I said nothing.”
“Hey, isn’t that cruel!?”
“Putting that aside──”
She quickly turned her neck and looked away.
“Will be be embarking at the planned time? If so, we should be taking our seats about now.”
“No, there was a communication from the one in charge from the Mechanical Bureau. It seems the pilot’s preparations aren’t complete yet. Something about yesterday’s application being late.”
“Oh boy. That could be a little worrying. It’ll be fine if there’s no incident or oversight because of a rush though.”
Sheltis’ eyes clouded over at Leon’s response.
……The plan itself is really sudden though.
“I also received a report that there was a support amongst the selected personnel for the pilots. I don’t know if there’s a correlation between that and the maintenance being late or not though.”
Horn looked up at the airship pilots’ room.
“Ohhh, a support? More specifically?”
“No idea. However, I heard that the pilot was recommended by someone ‘above‘. It’s difficult to imagine it being ane-ue, so I thought Meimel had a hand in it.”
Maybe she wasn’t interested in the topic as Horn’s tone was flat.
“At any rate, quick──”
“Eyri-neeeeee, hurry, hurry! Over here─!”
It was then that the voice of a young child echoed throughout the airport.
……And that voice just now.
“Huh, I……have a really bad feeling. That’s strange, this should be a really important mission. The pilot coming should be a really skilled veteran as well.”
“Mm? Skilled? Did you call for me?”
A figure drew closer while pushing a metal wheelbarrow.
The girl’s large, cheerful-looking eyes and vibrant orange hair emphasized her liveliness.
She was wearing a plain short with machine oil-stained work overalls on top and had no glamour or make-up, but that actually suited this girl.
“Hey there─, Sheltis, morning. It’s the arrival of an exemplary pilot.”
She waved her hand casually in greeting.
“Mm, what’re you suddenly holding your head for?”
“Uaaaaaaaa, as I thouuuuuuught!? Why am I only right at times when I have a bad feeling? I’m worried before we even take off!?”
In front of Eyriey, Sheltis screamed out with all his heart.
“Ah, how rude, it’s the best treatment for me to be the pilot.”
“I kinda have this feeling that we crashed the last time you piloted an airship though!?”
“Muu─. That was an accident. I’ll stop at emergency landing this time.”
“An emergency landing is enough of an accident, isn’t it!?”
……I don’t have the will to retort anymore.
……Why is Eyriey working as a Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> pilot, I wonder. This can’t have been Ymy’s recommendation.
“The woman over there.”
“Ah, yup, yup. You mean me?”
Eyriey turned around when Horn called her.
“You’re the pilot?”
“Yup, I’m Eyriey, and I’m piloting this machine so best re─gards! Ah. By the way, this child here is the co-pilot.”
“I’m Yuto─. ……Eyri-nee, what’s a ‘co-pilot‘?”
“Ah, is that it? Yuto will help Eyri-nee─”
“Good, good. Let’s do our best together─, okay?”
The self-proclaimed pilots were having fun with their arms spread out. With that in front of them, the next one to move was the Number Nine <Huick>.
“……Hey, hey, hey, hey, missies, you’re Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s pilots?”
The executive drew near Eyriey with his eyes narrowed to slits. [T/N: It’s “like thread”, but who even says that in English?]
“Miss, I’m gonna confirm again but you’re sure there’s no mistake?”
“Yep, yep, best regards! I’ll do my best!”
After he stared at Eyriey’s smiling face long enough to bore a hole in it.
“I see, you got me.”
Leaving Sheltis, who questioned that without thinking, as an outsider, for some reason, the person himself had a docile expression as he and his subordinate nodded at each other──
“Oi, Kuro, these guys are amazing. Pilots at their ages. I didn’t expect there to be technicians like this at Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.”
“Yes. And to have been entrusted with this mission means that they have a considerable amount of trust.”
“……You can’t make light of them.”
“It should be called praiseworthy.”
The two Governmental Sector people were nodding at each other.
“No, I think you two are reading too deeply into this. Normally, people would have doubts.”
……It’s Eyriey and Yuto after all.
He had worked together with them at The Two Swans <Albireo> for two years. At the least, he had confidence that the reason for their selection wasn’t as deep as the two from the Governmental Sector believed.
“What are you saying, Sheltis, you don’t understand the meaning of this order?”
After the two from the Governmental Sector came Leon with a bold smile.
“Look at how those Governmental Sector two are surprised. It was probably Meimel who gave the order to dumbfound our rival organization.”
“That’s right, that’s right─, I’ll also be at ease if Eyriey comes along with us.”
On top of that, even machine crystal <Ilis> was blinking in satisfaction.
“You’re being fooled!? Isn’t everybody making too many overestimations!?”
He said, but it didn’t seem like anybody would listen.
“Right, Horn! You should be able to understand that there’s definitely no deep meaning behind these two being pilots…………huh?”
At some point in time, Horn had disappeared. Just when he thought that and looked around──
“Being a pilot while still young is worthy of note. I’ll give you this.”
“Oyo? Th-This is……Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s special candy which is limited to ten a day!? I-Is it really fine for me to have this ridiculously rare candy!”
“Uwaa─, thank you, onee-chan! Yuto really loves this!”
He had no idea where she’d gotten it from, but Horn was giving the two a limited-time candy which had a stick attached. Moreover, she was showing a rare smile in front of the happy two.
“At least doubt that they’re pilots───!?”
With her having fallen so easily before him, he finally let out a shout.
……Ahh, I see. I thought Horn liked the children at the orphanage.
……It was that she likes kids in general.
“Sheltis, why are you so crestfallen?”
“Oi, oi, nii-chan, get it together.”
“Sheltis-nii, are you okay? Are you feeling bad?”
Yuto looked up at him worriedly and hugged his leg.
“Oookay, then let’s set off! Come on, Sheltis, cheer up!”
“……No, see, I……was sure that somebody would oppose you guys……but well……if the others say it’s fine……it can’t be helped anymore.”
Sheltis also trudged after the line heading towards the airship boarding stairs.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, floor 287.
“…………The airship has taken off.”
“──It is now safely away from the tower. The passengers are the four of the main unit and one for the separate unit to make a total of five, as planned. There are two pilots.”
Looking over the scene sent to her by Syun-rei, she was sending information via telepathy to several recipients at the same time.
“……Leon’s drinking tea.”
“Leon is drinking te ── wait, that doesn’t matter.”
Lying down in her own room, Ymy had her eyes firmly shut.
……This is difficult.
……It’s hard to decide how much of the information to convey.
Ymy was receiving information from Syun-rei’s clairvoyance as-is. Putting that into words and conveying it well would allow Cadres Guard Ishtar’s group to also view it with a territory-type shinryoku spell.
“…………Leon is talking about something. It looks like he’s enjoying himself.”
“Umm, you know, Syun-rei, I’d be happy if you could tell me about the others besides Leon too.”
The image she was being sent changed from a magnified view of Leon’s face to bird’s eye view which included Sheltis and the others who were in the surroundings.
……Though it can’t be helped that this happened.
Pursuit with clairvoyance was, so to speak, like a scene shot with the spell caster’s hand-held camera. Who to set as the focal point and observe was entirely up to the caster. For example, in Syun-rei’s case, she would focus on nothing but Leon and neglect the surroundings.
……The last time we did this in practice, all that was shown was Leon’s sleeping face for a whole evening.
……Well, that’s Syun-rei for you.
“Ah, look, it’s urgent, Syun-rei. Leon just went to the changing room.”
A telepathic message from Meimel echoed in her head.
“…………Y-Yeah. He went.”
“Then rather than the passenger room just now, wouldn’t it have been better to look over there? If you do it now, you can pass it off as a proper mission now, you know〰〰?”
Syun-rei shrieked soundlessly. [T/N: Like when you scream so hard that it doesn’t even actually come as sound.]
“Me-i-me-l! We’re being serious here, so please don’t puzzle Syun-rei!”
“My, how mean of you〰. Puzzling her……I didn’t say anything quite that great. Ah, Ran’s calling. See you later!”
The voice ran away while leaving behind a snicker.
“…………Ymy, it’s Sheltis.”
The next moment. What was sent to Ymy’s brain was the image of her childhood friend making his way to the changing room.
“…………We could follow him with clairvoyance.”
“Y-Y-Yo-You don’t have to!? I, I-I-I……I……don’t really……have any i-interest in Sheltis getting changed!?”
After all, I watched Sheltis change long ago and that had been a given. ……W-Well, that was around ten years ago.
……It can’t be helped if I look for the sake of the mission……I think. N-No, no, wait, hold up, me! As I thought, that’s really not good!
“…………Sheltis came out. He just removed his jacket.”
“……He sets off false alarms.”
She took a deep breath.
“It looks like I’ve fallen for him.”
……I have to forget about that for now. I won’t be able to focus on the mission or training.
The only thing I can guess is that it’s only something in Monica-senpai’s heart and she hasn’t confessed to Sheltis.
……If she had, not even Sheltis would be able to act normally.
……But Sheltis right now seems really calm.
“H-Hrm? By the way, Syun-rei? Can you look at the cockpit?”
The image being relayed moved from the passenger room to the cockpit.
There was no problem with Eyriey who was sitting in the center. Of course, it had been surprising that she was selected as the pilot but that was probably the work of Meimel.
The problem was to her side──
The area of the co-pilot’s seat was wavering like a heat haze. But there was no way there was a heat haze in the airship. If so……
“Hey, about that co-pilot’s seat……”
“…………Jamming. A separate shinryoku spell caster is acting.”
Jamming, as I thought. The entirety of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> was covered in a weak barrier which prevented distant clairvoyance. But she remembered having broken through a similar barrier at the Governmental Sector’s conference grounds with force.
……But this is different.
……It’s a barrier strong enough to challenge Syun-rei?
“…………It’s an extremely polished spell. I wouldn’t have noticed if I were lax.”
It was not that Syun-rei was having a hard time; it was because it was Syun-rei that she realized her sense of discomfort.
If so, then if it had been her doing the clairvoyance, she might not even have had a sense of discomfort to the point of showing a heat haze. The co-pilot seat would be ‘simply empty‘ and she might not even know there was a barrier there.
To be able to do that, the individual would need to be a practitioner of the same Priestess-level. But why the co-pilot seat? Was there somebody who didn’t want their existence known sitting there?
“I’ll try asking Meimel later. I think it was probably Meimel who recommended Eyriey so she should also know who the co-pilot is.”
“I’ll continue the observation.”
Ymy closed both her eyes, lay down on the bed and drew a breath.
Speed stable at supersonic levels.
Unit condition stable. Dispersing radar from a single detection radar via the unit’s outer film……success.
“Umm, this button is the thrust lever and this is for reverse. Fumu, fumu, and this screen here is the atmospheric pressure compensation figure.”
“……Umm, Eyriey, what’s that you’re holding in your right hand?”
Without looking away from the important-looking information being displayed on the monitor, she was turning over the pages in the heavy documents held in her hands.
“Ahh, these are the detailed design documents for this airship. It’s different from the model I’m familiar with so I’m memorizing it while it’s on auto-pilot.”
“……I’d have liked for you to have memorized it before taking off if possible.”
With his elbows on the backrest of the pilot seat, Sheltis’ shoulders drooped.
“Hey, hey, Shel-nii! Look, Yuto’s piloting─”
“Let’s see……wait, uwah! Eyriey, Eyriey, Yuto pulled off the control stick!?”
“Ah─. That’s fine, I’m the one who removed it.”
The person in question, Eyriey, still didn’t avert her eyes from the detailed design documents.
“If the control stick were really attached to the unit, then Yuto’s actions in the co-pilot seat would actually have an effect on the unit. If I remove it, that won’t happen. It won’t be found out if I just reattach it later.”
“I see, you have unparalleled development ability as always.”
However, the airship was actually flying in reality and there were no errors on displayed on the instrumentation so he was surprised.
“Eyriey, what’s this ‘1‘ reaction on the detection radar over here?”
“Isn’t that just the Governmental Sector’s?”
Moving the stack of detailed design documents to her side, Eyriey removed the belt around her waist.
“Mm─……sitting too long stiffens your body. The Governmental Sector’s radar isn’t some overblown thing. They predict the paths of airships flying around the floating archipelago <Lagoon> and inform the airships so they don’t crash into each other.”
“I would think. Since Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> has a much more large-scale detection system.”
“Oh? What’s up, Sheltis-kun?”
Eyriey stood up and started doing stretching exercises.
“Well, it’s nothing major. I just simply thought, ‘Ahh, so we’re passing near the Governmental Sector right now‘.”
“Yup, yup. Rather, we’ll be at our destination pretty soon. I received the path and location from the onii-san wearing a Governmental Sector hat so I just flew along that.”
“……Is that so.”
Proper pilots had been brushed aside and the Eyriey was selected as the pilot. He had thought she had would have heard the summary of this time’s mission.
“They wouldn’t tell us either.”
That was true of the location of the third organization’s base as well as how they were planning to infiltrate. No matter how covert their secret military organization was, it was difficult to think they would burst in just like this.
“I was sure they would tell us soon too.”
It had been several hours. If the Number Nine <Huick> had spoken to him, it was about silly small talk or questions about Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
……Beyond that, has he already spoken with the Sennenshi or Priestesses?
……At any rate, I won’t know if I don’t ask.
“Eyriey, I’m counting on you for the piloting.”
Turning his back to the two in the pilot seats, he headed towards the passenger room.
“That was unexpectedly long.”
An isolated room continued to the passenger room from the cockpit. On the other side of the mechanical door with an electronic lock was Leon waiting with his innerwear visible after having removed his white coat.
“How are the two pilots doing?”
“Not bad─. I also confirmed from the monitor that the craft is stable. Eyriey is being thorough, reading through the detailed design documents instead of a unit piloting manual.”
“It’s fine to read but I’d like her to prioritize getting to the destination.”
With his hand propped against the window frame, Leon smiled wryly.
“Those two from the Governmental Sector are waiting for you.”
“After you return to the passenger room, they’ll have a simple strategy meeting. In the first place, we haven’t even heard about where we’re headed.”
“Ahh. Right, right. I was curious about that.”
Not a word of the plan had been spoken even when the airship departed from the tower. This was the message from the Number Nine <Huick> that he’d heard through Meimel. It was a desperate measure taken because they didn’t know where on the floating continent <Orbie Clar> the third organization’s assassins could be hiding.
“That’s just how much the Governmental Sector are also taking precautions against this third organization. The Lords of Unusual Books……’Golden‘ Maha and ‘Blank‘ Igun-I.”
Golden <Maha> who obliterated a Regular Guard unit and Igun-I whose nature was still unknown. They didn’t know who else was in the Lords of Unusual Books but there was no doubt that every single one was a dangerous opponent.
“He was a troublesome opponent, right?”
“……It inevitable even if I deny it; he was somebody for whom no amount of preparation was too much. I haven’t seen him go all-out yet.”
……It’s a frustrating conflict.
I’d like to avoid fighting with the Lords of Unusual Books as much as possible. But I can’t draw out the information I want from Igun-I if I run away from the Lords of Unusual Books.
“It’s been a while since you spoke of an opponent so highly.”
“What about you, Leon?”
The young man looked at his reflection in the window and took a deep breath.
“I don’t know. I……don’t know if I’m tense.”
“My, how unusual. Fighting a strong enemy is also a part of training, is what I thought you’d say.”
“It’s because I’m making Syun-rei wait.”
In a gentle ── mild tone which gave no sense of harshness, Leon continued.
“Syun-rei was uneasy yesterday. It’s not that she’s lonely being separated from me but that I was participating in this operation.”
“Umm……you mean a foreboding?”
“Putting aside what to call it, I believe that Syun-rei is sharp in those kinds of things. It’s different from shinryoku or precognition, something like a type of sense.”
The young man’s eyes which were gazing into the window were showing a color of stillness they would normally never show.
“I am still somebody in the midst of training. No matter the mission, I can’t say something is absolute. ……That’s why I always go forth with all my strength. Even more so if Syun-rei is worried about me.”
……Leon is the same as me.
……Because I couldn’t go to meet Ymy yesterday.
That was to say that these were opponents which warranted that much tension and unease. Whether what lay ahead would become their deathbeds or a means of survival, all of it would depend on them.
“But you’re not planning on keeping her worrying, right?”
“Of course not.”
“I thought you’d say that.”
His response was firm as always and that was what made this man reliable above all.
“And you, if you want to get promoted already, don’t screw up. Don’t think you can stay as a Cadet Guard and keep Ymy waiting forever.”
He raised his hand with his reply.
Sheltis and Leon each spoke and then walked towards the passenger room.
“You’re finally back. I got tired of waiting, you know?”
The Number Nine <Huick> sitting in the front-most seat narrowed his eyes to slits.
“Are you prepared?”
“Right then, then let’s move to the serious talk. The nee-chan behind me stuck a gun to me telling me to start talking already.”
The Governmental Sector elite pointed a finger at Horn who was sitting in the back seats and smiled wryly.
“If you know that, then maybe you should get talking?”
“Ohh, how scaryyy. Well then, let’s get to the topic before I get shot by the scary nee-chan ── Kuro.”
He snapped his fingers.
And the woman sitting directly behind him stood up and made a small bow.
“First, I shall extend my thanks to you once again. It is heartening to have gained such reliable companions despite the suddenness of the suggestion. ……Onto the main matter, the base that we are seeking is one that I confirmed via Mikuva’s Crimson Eye. It is located thirty kilometers south of the Governmental Sector on the floating archipelago <Lagoon>.
“At most thirty kilometers? That’s within Governmental Sector airspace, and right under your noses at that.”
Horn had her arms folded as she made a small sigh.
“Why didn’t you realize until now?”
“It’s a lack of confirmation and danger awareness predominant in old organizations, and wellll……they’re really stubborn.”
The Number Nine <Huick> answered without hesitation.
“The location Kuro spoke of, the floating archipelago <Lagoon>, is an airspace of many islands grouped together. They’re too small for agricultural plants and we haven’t found any precious resources or ecosystems. In all honesty, it’s just under the management of the Governmental Sector.”
“Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> also has those kinds of islands. However, Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> has the walking observation unit known as Syun-rei. Meimel also constructs barriers so she would realize if there were any sloppy movements within the barrier.”
The floating archipelago <Lagoon> which people could find no value in using.
For sure, it would be an ideal location for a third party looking for a headquarters.
“You know, sorry for poking at faults right now but what about routine patrols? The floating archipelago <Lagoon> being like that would make it a hotbed for crime so shouldn’t you have security personnel going around?”
“As Sheltis-sama has surmised, there are routine patrols for the floating archipelago <Lagoon>. However……”
Kuro held out a single report.
The participants of the investigation, the supervisor, the writer of the document ── and only the ‘issuer‘, Ran, written above that had many checkmarks in red ink.
“This is a concealed operation spearheaded by an individual bearing high-ranking authority. The possibility of the government member’s secretary being someone from the side of the third organization arose. That he had personally gone for the inspection of the floating archipelago <Lagoon> and skillfully deceived the inspection team.”
“……I get that much. Continue.”
“Yes. The location we will be infiltrating is as I said. You can view the specifics of its location here. It is one of a great deal of the islands of the floating archipelago <Lagoon> crowded together.” [T/N: Apparently each island is called Lagoon, and the entire thing together is also Lagoon. For consistency and because that doesn’t really work out that well in English, it’s going to have “islands” attached to some instances.]
To Leon, Horn and himself. Kuro passed each of them a folded sheet of paper. Upon the white paper was a map printed only in black ink.
Amongst the many islands of the floating archipelago <Lagoon>, one was enclosed in a “○” in red ink.
“This is the final destination, tentatively named……’Plant‘, but we can’t very well ride this airship directly there. No matter how covert the unit, there will be a considerable impact upon landing so it will become known that something has landed even if the airship itself isn’t seen. With that──” [T/N: “Plant” written as “facility island”]
She pointed at the map.
“We’ll be infiltrating by crossing over these clustered islands of the floating archipelago <Lagoon>.”
The Number Nine <Huick> raised the corners of his mouth while stifling a yawn.
“Mostly electricity-generating windmills are located on the floating archipelago <Lagoon>. Luckily, these islands are connected to each other by steel cables to form a wind farm. We’ve also confirmed that there are bridges connecting each island. There are also islands which can be crossed from by simply jumping.”
The plan to infiltrate Plant was just a matter of the number of islands neighboring it. They wouldn’t have an difficulty finding a route with this many islands and it would be easy to evade detection from the third organization.
“Looking at it from their point of view, this island was chosen because there are any number of escape routes for immediate retreat. We’re using that to infiltrate.”
Nodding to the Number Nine <Huick>’s words, Sheltis held onto the edge of the map in his hand.
……It’ll be easy to return like this as well.
……The conditions for the infiltration and return are much better than I expected.
“Umm, the islands which are connected to Plant and seem easy to move from……number at around five.”
“Right. So we’ll do the final confirmation on that. The main unit, us, will infiltrate Plant from the island to the top right. How about you?”
“The bottom left island.”
The member of the separate unit, Horn, did not falter in her answer.
The island located to the top right of Plant and the island located to its lower left. The main unit and separate unit would infiltrate through their own paths from directly opposite sides.
“Okay, so we have no objections in the main unit. I’ll take any other questions you have.”
“I’d like to confirm whether there are any large carnivores which attack people or poisonous creatures. Also, I’d like to know the ground’s stability.”
“Neither will pose a hindrance to the main plan.”
Kuro answered. She didn’t have anything resembling documents in her hands so she must have done the pertinent research beforehand.
“The main lifeforms on this island are small birds and insects. Also, neither poisonous lifeforms which could affect humans nor carnivores have been sighted. As for the ground, investigation has shown it to be more or less the same as that of the floating continent <Orbie Clar>’s Living Districts. Will that suffice, Horn-sama?”
“Acknowledged. That will be all from me.”
“Then our preparations are set. ……Now then, this would also be a good time to land the airship.”
The Number Nine <Huick>’s mutter echoed throughout the passenger room.
“All that’s left is a match of intelligence with the other side.”