Editor: Thor’s Stone
The emergency alarm from Dike rang out.
All hands immediately went on high alert. This was the first time something like this had happened.
Kou and the others gathered inside the combat command center.
「Dike, what’s the situation?」
「Fortress Area A051 has been subjected to an invasion by the enemy. Images of the battle have just been sent back.」
The images were projected on the screen.
It displayed several nightmarish scenes.
There were two Enyos that barged inside the Fortress Area. And Kou also saw a huge spider-shaped Murder that he hadn’t encountered before.
Countless smaller spider-shaped Keres appeared from within its abdomen and marched straight into the Fortress Area’s residential sector.
There were also large numbers of Keres and Telkhines.
And finally, there were mercenary units participating in the attack as well. They piloted Silhouettes. The variety of Silhouettes they used was limited, but they easily numbered more than 200.
The armored cars and tanks piloted by Familiars and Therianthropes were completely destroyed.
The humans were surrendering one after the other while still riding their Silhouettes.
The spider-type Keres used a special wire launched from their bodies to capture entire Silhouettes.
The huge spider-type Murder screeched menacingly. It displayed a palpable sense of dread and intimidation.
It then fired off a veritable rain of projectiles. All in the bombardment’s path exploded to rubble. Even the buildings that could normally withstand a direct hit from a railgun.
The bell of ruin rang out, and what it heralded were chaos and despair.
「I’ve never seen such a large number of enemy Silhouettes before.」
Blue muttered in utter shock.
「It’s been an hour since the Fortress Area was completely breached. It seems sporadic battles have been occurring a few hours before, but the enemy had forcibly advanced in one go.」
Jenny reviewed the news sent from Fortress Area A051.
「The A051 Fortress Area is the largest human base on Planet Asia. Some are still fighting inside, but it’s only a matter of time until it falls completely.」
「John Arms is also based there. It’s the company founded and led by Jack Cliff.」
「It seems a call for surrender has also been sent out. So their purpose is gaining control of the fortress huh.」
Jenny and Blue confirmed the situation.
「One of the most prosperous Fortress Ares on Planet Asia. To think they’d send out a force large and powerful enough to bring it down.」
「An operation with a mixed Telkhines and mercenary force is quite unusual……」
Blue muttered as she checked the data of past battles.
It seemed that the current situation was highly unusual.
「It’s my first time to see a spider-type giant weapon.」
「That’s a Philotes. It’s named after the Ancient Greek goddess of lust. If they sent one of those out, then their goal is to capture and not kill.」
『Moving this large a force all at once will likely place a great burden on the Stones. I think they launched this attack with the resolution of abandoning some of their bases if needed.』
Various spots within Fortress Area A051 were shown on the screen.
A shelter section had gotten destroyed and enemy troops rushed in one after another through the opened gap.
An urban sector exploded from the bombardment launched by the Philotes.
There were people in the middle of running away. As well as Familiars who were desperately trying to guide them to safety.
The Familiars who rode on armored cars to face the enemy and their possible deaths were filled with grim determination.
Then there were the tanks and mercenaries defending the Fortress Area. There were still quite a few defense units that were active, but their numbers were gradually decreasing due to the overwhelming swarm of Keres.
Reinforcements were supposed to be sent out from nearby Fortress Areas, but they also couldn’t leave their own bases undefended. And so, reinforcements were unlikely.
『A Murder Mothership has been confirmed on site. It is gathering Murders that have been damaged in battle and constantly repairing them. It is also equipped with a large number of unmanned weapons.』
「It’s the worst-case scenario. Those things usually don’t come with reinforcements, but now they even have a secure supply line. They seem to be pretty serious this time around.」
An alert rang out on the projection monitor once more. It signified a different attack warning.
「What is it this time!?」
『A different Fortress Area had also been attacked. It’s Fortress Area D516 — the place where Kurt Maschinenbau is located.』
『Connecting image feed.』
「W-What…… Just what the heck is that Keres……?」
Jenny muttered in shock.
The image projected on the screen was terrifying. It was an enemy type they had all never seen before.
There was a huge number of this new Keres type. They looked like inorganic steel beetles that induced a sense of psychological disgust in the ones seeing them.
There were stag beetle-types, as well as rhinoceros beetle-types that sported cannons.
They were engaging armored cars and tanks on the ground, but some of them flew in the air from time to time as well. So, it was a type that combined tank-like functionality with flight ability.
Behind the beetle swarm was a single Enyo. There was also one Philotes.
And also a mercenary unit that’s probably composed of humans piloting Silhouettes and a cluster of tanks. There was even a four-legged super-heavy tank in their ranks.
『Kou, there’s an emergency contact through Asia. It’s an emergency call from Kurt. I shall put him through.』
Kou shouted anxiously in response.
「Kou-kun, sorry for calling you while inside an MCS.」
The screen displayed a live image of Kurt wearing a pilot suit.
「This is the second time we’ve been hit by an enemy invasion. Fortunately, thanks to you, I’ve managed to complete the Huckebein. With this, I have no more regrets. I’ve already transferred all relevant data to you. Please use them as references in the future.」
「What are you saying!? I’m going to come and help you right now!」
「You can’t. Kou, as the main commander of this Force, I can’t authorize that.」
Jenny forcibly inserted herself into the conversation with an anguished expression on her face.
「Asia is here…… In this situation, we just aren’t able to leave this place.」
「It’s just as Ms. Jenny says. You cannot come here.」
「But Kurt-san will–!」
「Their aim is to seize humanity’s bases. A recommendation for surrender has already been sent out.」
「In that case–!」
「You should save your strength. After this large-scale invasion, the front lines will be greatly stretched out. Things will probably return to a stalemate before long.」
「But what about you, Kurt-san!?」
「I’m pretty used to tactical retreats. There have already been countless times where I fought a losing battle. Unlike you, I’ve been on Planet Asia for thirty years, alright?」
「I’m truly glad that you’re concerned about me. However, it would be physically impossible for you to make it here in time, in any case. It’s important to have a clear judgment of situations when you’re acting as a leader. Remember this well.」
Even in such a hopeless situation, Kurt still endeavored to mentor Kou.
It would certainly take several hours to come to Fortress Area D516 even if they used the Cimon-class ship. And if they went through an undersea route, that would take at least a full two days.
They could fly to the location, but that would practically reveal the exact location of the Silhouette Base to the Stones.
「Asia, please send all my combat data from here on out to Kou.」
『I got it, Kurt. So don’t you dare die on me.』
Asia appeared in response to Kurt’s voice. Her sorrowful eyes were turned downward.
「I’ll do my best. Well then, Kou. I’m looking forward to what you’ll accomplish.」
After saying so, Kurt cut the call without waiting for Kou’s response.
Blue also couldn’t offer any words of consolation.
「Dike, please link Kurt-san’s data to Unit 5. And perform an analysis of the combat situation. Please grasp all the important characteristics of the new Keres type.」
「Jenny, keep the men on high alert. Place all efforts on shoring up the defenses of the Silhouette Base. Will that be fine?」
「Those are fine orders, Boss.」
「Umu. You did good, Kou.」
Jenny and Rick nodded in approval. They needed to do their best to ensure the defenses of the Silhouette Base right now.
『Fortress Area A051 and Jack Cliff. They have surrendered to the Stones. The Fortress Area has been completely taken over.』
On another screen, the state of Fortress Area A051 after the invasion battle was shown.
It fell in just half a day.
Everyone turned silent. They stared at the projected videos of Fortress Areas A051 and D516.
『The reinforcements sent from the surrounding Fortress Areas have turned back. Given the situation, there is no longer anything we can do.』
Kou bit his lower lip as he stared hard at the image of a burning Fortress Area D516’s downtown sector as if enduring something.