Editor: Thor’s Stone
「It looks like you’ve become quite accustomed to piloting a Silhouette.」
「Yeah. It’s pretty interesting.」
Kou felt a sense of unity with his Silhouette whenever he piloted it.
It was even more palpable than when he was driving his favorite car or motorcycle.
He felt it wouldn’t be too bad to continue fighting with his new partner. He ruminated if he was just like those historical sword masters, but quickly denied it. Those historical sword masters rose to fame after the age of war.
But right now, he was in a world at war.
「It’s great that you were able to receive additional food and supplies from Metal Iris. Oh, they even gave you some clothes suitable for washing inside Silhouettes. You should go ahead and change clothes, Kou.」
「They even gave me clothes? Man, I really have a lot to thank them for.」
He proceeded to change clothes. It was a Metal Iris uniform. It was a set consisting of a cap, jacket, cargo pants, and underwear. Kou was glad to finally say goodbye to his old and worn white work overalls.
The food rations they provided were also quite tasty. According to Master, the rations were made with long-term storage in mind and didn’t factor in nutritional balance all that much.
After finishing his meal, he continued checking various info through Unit 5’s terminal.
「TSW-R1 huh. Just who made them anyway? Why are they so suitable for sword fighting? I’m really curious here.」
「You’d need to ask the designer personally about those, I suppose. But they do indeed incorporate a lot of new tech.」
「What kind of tech?」
「Their joints aren’t just composed of actuators and encoders. They’re also covered with artificial pseudo-muscles. The first to use them was TSW-R1.」
「I don’t really get it, but it sounds amazing anyway.」
「They made the machine’s maneuverability jump up by several factors. The artificial muscle layers also double as additional armor. However, there were also quite a number of drawbacks. The machines would cost a lot more than usual, and their compatibility will also go down a notch. The decrease in compatibility with available modules is also a great disadvantage from a logistics standpoint. But that’s the fate of any experimental high-performance machine, I guess. The increased weight and inferior loadout capacity are also drawbacks.」
「It only has a single sword as a weapon after all. The people from Metal Iris seem to regard it as a pretty anachronistic design.」
Even Kou himself thought so as well.
In ancient wars, bows and spears dominated the battlefields. Even in the Japanese Warring States period, they found wooden swords more useful than katanas since they could double as walking canes.
Closing in to slash at an enemy wasn’t a tactic used in modern warfare.
No matter how tough the high-dimensional projection armor was, it was still best to hold some distance in order to secure one’s initiative. This should be of great importance on a modern battlefield.
「The one who designed the TSW-R1 was the founder of TAKABA, the transferee Takaba Hyoue. It’s said that he’s a very skilled swordsman himself.」
「D-Did you just say Takaba Hyoue!?」
Kou, who rarely raised his voice, couldn’t help but cry out in surprise.
「What’s wrong? How unusual. It’s rare for you to shout like that.」
「……It’s about the company I worked for back in Japan. Our chairman’s name was also Takaba Hyoue, and he was certainly an expert swordsman. The schools he studied under were different from mine though. I think he practiced Ittou-ryuu and Niten’ichi-ryuu. I got along pretty well with his grandson, Shuji. He was a very approachable person.」
His former place of employment was a medium-scale company that mainly manufactured automobile engines, outboard motors, and motorcycles.
Although their schools were different, it was still pretty rare to find a fellow practitioner of swordsmanship and iaidou. The Takaba grandfather and his grandson Shuji often chatted with Kou regarding their shared passion and even invited him to observe them performing kata exercises at the private dojo built adjacent to their home from time to time.
Though this attracted unwanted jealousy from his co-workers, he didn’t really care that much.
He was nearly killed due to his relationship with them, but conversely, he was saved by Unit 5 that was designed based on the personal experiences of its lead designer, Takaba Hyoue. He honestly didn’t know what to make of it.
「I see. So the chairman built machines based on his knowledge and experience as a swordsman. And the result of that was the TSW-R1 series.」
Now Kou had a better idea about why he was just so compatible with Unit 5.
He didn’t imagine there would be such a coincidence. It’s like he was destined to pilot it.
「He was transferred over about ten years ago. At first, he didn’t have much money, but he took the initiative to pilot a Silhouette, and gradually earned quite a sum by working as a mercenary. He founded TAKABA after three years of actively working as a mercenary. Five years ago, he finally managed to complete the TSW-R1 prototypes, but the Area they were built in was attacked by the Murders.」
「So it prioritized high acceleration, increased weight in order to improve stability, and the machine’s ability to always find its center of gravity huh. No wonder it specializes in using a sword.」
Kou began muttering his theories.
The more he discovered, the more he felt that TSW-R1 seemed to incorporate the will of Chairman Takaba.
「Those features are only made possible through the use of the Fennel OS. The act of walking itself is like constantly trying to prevent oneself from falling flat on the ground. It was still highly difficult for the computers of your era to accurately adjust the center of gravity in order to successfully emulate human movements.」
「I’m not really knowledgeable when it comes to real robots.」
Even if Master continued to explain it to him, it was hard for Kou to follow.
「The high cost of the TSW-R1 acted as the final bottleneck that it ultimately couldn’t overcome. Its production ended after a couple of dozen units were completed, and TAKABA moved on to produce the TSF-R10 that emphasizes versatility.」
「So they managed to complete the prototypes, but the line didn’t achieve full-scale mass production huh.」
「Even so, they should have managed to manufacture about 50 units.」
Kou often saw prototypes and initial product samples in his former workplace. The items were labeled with the F letter to indicate that they were the first iteration of a proposed product line, so they were pretty easy to identify.
In particular, he managed to encounter quite a number of prototype luxury motorcycles and cars.
「The naming convention for official designations differ from company to company, but basically, close combat types are classified as Warriors, general-purpose types as Fighters, and armed battlefield repair types as Soldiers.」
「So is it possible to identify the characteristics of a machine based on the alphabet used in their names? Like, the successor of the TSW-R1 got called TSF instead. Does that indicate that the characteristics of the machine have changed?」
「Yes. It was changed from a Warrior to a Fighter.」
「T is for TAKABA and S is for Silhouette, right?」
Now, Kou felt an even deeper sense of familiarity with Unit 5.
It was made by the company he formerly worked for, and it was clear from its official designation that it was a machine specifically developed for close combat.
「But I didn’t expect Kou to be acquainted with Mr. Takaba. His dramatic success story is actually quite famous you know.」
「So there was actually a ten-year gap between me and the chairman’s transfers huh. It’s really amazing that he was able to restart the company even when he was sent to the far future.」
「He also has the Development Engineer (Bricoleur) qualification after all. Development Engineers have the right to obtain crucial information directly from Okeanos and run automated production facilities.」
「When you say Development Engineer, you’re talking about that, right? A handyman or something?」
「Calling them handymen can’t even begin to describe their abilities, alright? In fact, the place we’re heading to requires the presence of a Development Engineer, or there would be no point in going there. I suppose me encountering you was also the work of fate.」
「I see. It kinda seems troublesome to start a company though.」
It would be a pain to manage one for sure, Kou thought.
You needed to be responsible for your employees and your customers. At least, that’s how Kou viewed things. And in this world, companies held a completely different significance.
He felt it was already way over his head.
「If everything goes well after reaching the facility, you’ll gain the ability to develop and manufacture weapons and equipment. You will also probably acquire comrades who will support you. It would be a very powerful base of operations for you.」
「Comrades? Weapons development? I can’t even imagine it.」
「What? You’re a Bricoleur whose entire modus operandi is to put together a mishmash of parts in order to make useful stuff. It’s pretty simple.」
「Uh, does that mean a Development Engineer is actually something really amazing?」
「Why, yes, it is. Even the lowest-ranked ones have very high statuses. They had the authority to activate and make use of unmanned production facilities after all. Your rank grants you practically unrestricted access to any facility, so you can do anything you can think of.」
「Did the guys from Metal Iris know? The fact that I’m actually a Development Engineer, I mean.」
「I suppose not. Well, they might have found out already since you left your ID registration to them. In fact, they might already be making a fuss about it right now.」
「Jenny invited me quite enthusiastically. I wonder if she only did that because she knew I was a Development Engineer.」
「Your self-evaluation is seriously too low! At least, there would be no way she’d be able to come to the conclusion that the guy who impulsively joined them in battle was actually a Development Engineer right from the start. You’re already a Silhouette pilot that’s managed such high combat achievements. Stick out your chest more, why don’t you? They definitely invited you to the team solely because of your personal achievements.」
「I’d be happy if that really is the case.」
If he was scouted due to the title of Development Engineer that he didn’t even have much understanding of, Kou would definitely feel down.
Those girls invited the person called Kou solely due to his own skills. He would understand better that way, and even feel blessed.