Editor: Thor’s Stone
「Of course, there’s a machine I used as a reference when making this baby. And that’s this machine over here.」
Kelly moved in front of the mysterious machine standing beside the Pheasant.
「Just look at this Silhouette and its unrefined-looking back. I gave it the name Skunk. She’s a lady that likes to put on airs! She’s basically a really expensive junk machine. An immobile antique. But its combat prowess in its heyday was of the highest class.」
「Antique? Do you mean this is a Silhouette that was produced in the Interplanetary War era?」
「Yep. This thing is locked and was scheduled to be dismantled for parts if I hadn’t bought it. If it wasn’t locked, it would have been more expensive. It would probably cost at least 2 million minas if that were the case.」
Matt was stunned silly after hearing the price.
「I’ve repaired all the parts that I was capable of repairing. But even so, it hasn’t responded to me even once.」
「I’m actually familiar with this machine. It’s certainly from the Interplanetary War era. It was designated as a high-speed mobile fighter. It was considered a high-end machine even back then.」
Aki supplemented some information.
「So it doesn’t move huh. Can nobody really pilot it?」
After Kou muttered such words, something surprising happened.
The antique machine actually started moving and eventually knelt down to a parked position. Then its chest armor opened, and the MCS came out.
「What the…… Hey. Kou. Can you try riding it?」
「It definitely reacted to you, right? Just look at it. It’s like a real skunk wagging its tail and inviting you. It can only be you.」
Kelly gave a silly-sounding analogy and urged Kou to board the kneeling machine.
「I-I understand. Is it okay, Aki?」
「The MCS doesn’t have any functions that can be fatal to a pilot, so I think it’s alright……」
Kou then cautiously boarded the machine.
The chest armor closed up the moment he got inside the MCS, and the Fennel OS installed in its system immediately activated.
The interface started out with foreign characters, but they were immediately converted to Japanese. It was the same with what happened when Kou first boarded Unit 5.
「I wonder what’s gonna happen……」
Kou became increasingly anxious.
After a short while of waiting, he finally heard a faint voice calling out to him.
『Moshimoshi. Can you hear me over there? Hello?』
A young man called out from the main screen of the MCS. The image displayed on the screen was blurry and filled with noise, just like on those old CRT TVs.
The young man was calling out to Kou in a desperate tone.
He was definitely talking in Japanese. It felt weird to Kou.
「Err, moshimoshi. I can hear you.」
『Did you just say “moshimoshi”? Like I thought, you really have to say “moshimoshi” when calling a Japanese person!』
Kou made up his mind and answered the call. The reply he got sounded truly happy.
『I really was able to get connected! Nice to meet you, Kou! I know you quite well already! You’re Asia’s favorite hero, aren’t you?』
「Um, nice to meet you. May I know who you are?」
The young man didn’t seem to be a Development Engineer, Kou thought. Not many people were aware that it was Kou who rescued Asia.
『You’re actually asking who I am? How awful. I was the one who transferred you over to Planet Asia y’know? Okeanos won’t refuse my requests after all.』
Kou heard some unexpected words from the young man and gawked in shock.
『The name’s Prometheus! I’ve been observing you humans for quite a long time. Man. I really didn’t expect that I’d be able to reach you. I’m actually deep within Tartarus y’see.』
「Um, where exactly is that place? Is it somewhere within the Nemesis system?」
『Nah. It’s basically another dimension. In human terms, I suppose it’s called an imaginary space. It can be written as “imaginary numbers abyss prison” in Kanji.』
「Err, y-you mean you’re actually imprisoned?」
『It’s because I made the Fennel OS. I kinda overdid it a bit with that, so Sophia got a wee bit upset with me. Teehee.』
Kou was at a loss for words. It was almost certain that the young man he was talking to was an existence of an even higher order than Asia.
『You’re a strange one aren’t you? You’re peculiar even among the Odysseus. I think I’ll classify you as an Outis then.』
「Um, I have no idea what you’re talking about.」
『Ahaha. Sorry, sorry. Odysseus refers to Development Engineers like you. The Outis are special individuals among the Odysseus. In a bad way, I might add!』
So it was the term for special individuals among Development Engineers, Kou thought. However, it was the first time he had been told he was somehow special directly by a Super AI.
Just what did he mean by it having a bad meaning, Kou mulled further.
『Oh. Already? This is the first time I’ve managed to talk to a human in thousands of years, but it looks like time is up. Give my regards to Asia, okay? Also, I have a gift for you as thanks for rescuing her!』
Various unknown characters began streaming at high speed on the screen.
『Wait. Saying it’s a present from me is a bit inappropriate, I suppose. Let’s just say it’s a reward for humanity for overcoming a trial. I’ll give you guys something you wish for and also something you don’t. You get both!』
「Please don’t send us something we don’t want!」
Kou smiled bitterly as he retorted. He found it really tiring to converse with someone so high-strung.
『Hey, even poison can serve as life-saving medicine y’know! C’mon, just help yourself. In any case, you can only gain access to both rewards after fulfilling certain conditions. I’m really looking forward to the day you unlock them, Kou.』
「They’re rewards for humanity, but you’re giving them to me?」
『Um, no? As I said, they’re rewards for humanity. All of humanity. There, done! Every Fennel OS is capable of using them now! Man, it’s time already. I really wanted to talk to humans more.』
「Are we gonna be able to talk again?」
『I’m not sure. But I sincerely hope we can! Later then, Kou!』
After Prometheus bid goodbye, the call was cut off.
『Outis Kou. My apologies. You are not registered as my official pilot. Hence, you cannot control me as you’d like.』
This time around, it was the so-called Antique Silhouette Skunk who addressed Kou.
「Don’t worry about it. Are you gonna sleep again? If not, then can I ask you to help Kelly out? Even just serving as a conversation partner will do.」
『The technology of humans is in a remarkable state of decline, so my functions are currently severely limited. If that is fine with you, then, by all means, I shall oblige. I’ve often heard that man’s voice. His wish is to have Silhouettes like me fly freely in the air.』
「Is it possible for you to coordinate with Astraea?」
『–Contact initiated. Contact concluded. Possible. Well then, this Skunk will serve as Kelly’s technical advisor from now onward. Please inform him as such.』
「Do you want me to give you a better-sounding name?」
『Skunk is fine. My pilot no longer exists. And that name is one my friend Kelly has given me.』
「Alright, I understand.」
After Kou’s reply, the chest armor of Skunk opened up once more.
Kou mulled over how he would explain everything that’s happened to the curious people eagerly waiting outside. It was certainly a problem.