Editor: Thor’s Stone
「This Mobile Arsenal Platform Astraea ultimately isn’t suitable for combat. Though it certainly is more capable than the warships that have been unearthed and restored by humans thus far.」
Astraea began explaining to Kou.
「Its main function is as a logistical support ship after all. Its armaments aren’t all that powerful either.」
「I get that. In the first place, you wouldn’t take a mobile arsenal platform all the way to the frontlines. The most important facility inside the ship is obviously the factory after all.」
「Right. But now, I’m able to reactivate several other spaceships with my current authority, so I’ll hand one of them to you, Kou.」
Asia puffed up her chest while sporting her usual sunny smile.
「You sound so casual about it, but that’s amazing you know.」
「Anyway, I can only fully interact with you alone, Kou. And the ships aren’t installed with amazing AIs like Astraea.」
「I will make a copy of my data and install it to the ship’s central computer later on. That will allow it to function in conjunction with the mobile arsenal platform if needed.」
「That sure sounds like it’s gonna be amazing.」
「Perhaps it truly will.」
Astraea readily admitted without batting an eye. She then pointed to the ceiling.
「You aren’t familiar with the upper section of this arsenal fort yet, right, Kou? It is currently still under the Stones’ sphere of influence.」
「Oh. You’re talking about the facility aboveground, right?」
「Yes. The section aboveground is a base built within a hollowed-out mountain. Currently, the facility remains hidden and functional but is completely abandoned. There are only a few work robots moving about in it. All the arsenal facilities are underground after all.」
「So it’s an abandoned base.」
「It also serves as camouflage for the underground arsenal fortress. Let us liberate it and make use of Asia’s spacecraft. Now that we will soon have access to metallic hydrogen, we should be able to use the rail catapult for launching large spacecraft into outer space.」
「Hold up a bit. Is the base above us also one of those so-called undiscovered ruins?」
「If that’s the case, then isn’t it really valuable?」
「Even if we can’t turn it into a Fortress Area, it would be more than adequate to serve as a Defense Dome. All the important facilities, raw materials, and supplies are underground. We can use both facilities in tandem.」
「I see. It’s gonna be awesome then. Since we’re basically on our own right now, I was planning on taking Voy and the others to join Metal Iris though.」
「I think that is a good idea. You can give them access to the surface base and the new ship as souvenirs when you join their ranks.」
「Aren’t those a little too excessive as souvenirs?」
「The one that will decide whether to accept or not will be Metal Iris. The overall worth of the surface base is about one-fifth that of the underground facility. And if they don’t increase their strength, you would be troubled as well, right, Kou?」
「I guess that’s true.」
「When they make use of the base, this place will naturally become part of humanity’s sphere of influence. That is a definite plus for humanity as a whole.」
That was indeed crucial, Kou mused. It basically meant the base would be registered as a Defense Dome under Okeanos.
He decided not to think too deeply about it. He’ll just join Metal Iris first.
In the unlikely event that he was refused, he still had Storm Hound as an option. They had human members too anyway, so Kou felt like he would be able to blend in without any problems.
「What ship are you planning on giving me anyway, Asia? A combat carrier? An amphibious assault ship?」
「It’s a lot more amazing than those you know. It’s also a multi-function ship in a different sense compared to a mobile arsenal platform. It’s an assault mobile base. It’s a fully combat-capable battleship that can also function as a mobile base and an amphibious assault ship.」
「I can’t imagine what it’s like at all.」
「It would be better to see it for yourself. If a mobile arsenal platform is a logistical support ship, the assault mobile base can be deployed to the frontlines to participate actively in battles. It can deploy both large and small amphibious assault craft. It can also house a lot of Silhouettes, tanks, and aircraft.」
「It sounds like it’ll be able to work well with groups like Storm Hound.」
Asia and Astraea exchanged meaningful looks. However, Kou failed to notice it.
「It’s great. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of opportunities to work together with Storm Hound again, so the ship is just perfect for that.」
「Oh, there’s no doubt you will. Okay then. Let’s leave it at this for today. If you need me for something, just contact me through Astraea.」
「I’ll be helping Kou out with researching new weapons on the tech tree.」
「I’ll leave it to you, Astraea.」
「Please be at ease and leave Kou to me.」
「While Kou and the others are building new machines, I’ll start transporting the assault mobile base. I’ll move it via a sea route and send it over to you through the underground waterway. Should I place it directly on the rail catapult, Astraea?」
「Yes. Some people might find the name Astraea somewhat ominous. Let us change the name of the new ship. I propose that we call it Dike.」
「Um, Astraea…… isn’t that technically the same name?」
「What do you mean by your name being ominous? And why are those names technically the same?」
「Please don’t worry about that detail, Kou. You tend to gather a lot of baggage if you live a long enough life.」
Kou wondered if it was some sort of AI joke. He nodded in the end despite still being fuzzy about the matter.
「Okay, I got it. Oh, and Astraea, Asia, I’m back.」
「Yes. I’ll see you tomorrow.」
「Thank you, Kou!」
Kou decided to head to the nap room after parting with the two.
He was sure Nyanta and Aki were already waiting for him inside in their animal forms.
「Astraea, I want to confirm something with you. Do you really consider Kou as your balancing scale?」
「Yes. Indeed I do.」
Asia’s tone and atmosphere were different from when she was together with Kou.
She gazed at Astraea with a face even more expressionless than the other AI.
「What form of balance do you want to keep?」
「It’s only natural to eliminate the Stones. I am looking further beyond that. I judged that Kou, who has declared that artificial intelligence and humans are both alive and have souls, is suitable for the vision I am aiming toward.」
「So you intend to create a new balance between the humans and Telema AIs. ……I see. I have no objections.」
「Thank you very much for your acknowledgment, Asia.」
「It’s true that Kou seems to be overly fond of Telema AIs. Perhaps it’s because he was almost killed by a fellow human.」
「I’m sure Kou feels more at ease being together with animal AIs who would never betray him. That is how the Telema AIs are in the first place. However, you would rarely encounter a person who would even treat Unit 5 and the other machines incapable of speech with the exact same care and consideration.」
「That’s right. And that quality of his is probably why he can fully interact with me.」
「Asia, you are also aware of it, aren’t you? Metal Iris and Storm Hound are planning to gather under Kou. That’s why you decided to reactivate an assault mobile base.」
「I no longer have my main body. Perhaps the current me can already be considered as the main body. I will cooperate with Kou and serve him well, as an AI should.」
「I thought it wasn’t like you to be biased to one side.」
「I also feel regret about my previous actions you know? The ultimate result of striving for the perfect balance was the destruction of the Nemesis system. Even though I only meant for things to be equal. Even if I only sought to give everyone equal opportunities. It was already much too late when I realized how terrible the mistake I made was. Yes. Far, far too late.」
Asia briefly displayed a pained expression.
「I thought I would never be given another opportunity to reactivate. But Mii, no, Master journeyed outside and relayed everything that’s happened to the world to me. She also brought me Kou. I can finally fulfill my reason for existing once more.」
「And thanks to that, I was rescued. For that, I’m truly grateful. You could have provided them access to metallic hydrogen yourself, right?」
「The Stones would have never been able to foresee that a combined force capable of rescuing you would gather and launch an attack at that timing, correct? And besides, I might be able to provide them access to the metallic hydrogen production method, but I can do nothing about the furnace needed for manufacturing it.」
「Let’s leave it at that then, Astraea. But truly, thank you.」
「You’re very welcome, Asia.」
The AI communicated with each other at an unimaginable speed and talked about things Kou would have found unimaginable as well.