Junkyard

 


Translator: SFBaka

Editor: Thor’s Stone


Giant humanoid mobile weapons. Kou couldn’t help but turn to Master with a questioning look.

As for why he was sure they were weapons, it was because they had a kind of intensity only present in weapons of war. There were even bullet marks left all over their armor.

「If you convert their official designation to Japanese kanji, you’ll end up with『Toujou Kyohei』as the rough translation. We commonly refer to them as【Silhouette】. From a distance, they look like giant humanoid silhouettes, right? They are humanoid-type vehicles.」

「Certainly. If you check them out from a great distance, I suppose they would look like human silhouettes.」

「The combat models present here are called【Assault Silhouettes】. You can also write it as『Kyoushuu Kyouhei/Assault Giant Soldier』in kanji, I suppose. Their basic frame isn’t all that different from civilian models though.」

「Combat models huh. They do somewhat give out a similar feeling to armored aircraft or vehicles.」

「You’ll have to board one of them and use it to defeat the one that attacked you earlier. You can also choose to live together with me for a good while, but I’m sure you don’t want that, right?」

「I’d like to at least have enough time to learn about the situation first.」

He still hasn’t received a decent explanation from Master about his situation until now.

「How long do you think would it take for a distressed foreign person to study a language and learn about his current situation in detail? Just give up about that and fight. I don’t have much time remaining myself.」

「Eh?」

「I have already gone beyond my expected operation limit. I am about to welcome my last days. I am also just a machine. However, I have managed to encounter a human presence and thus moved to save it. And that’s you.」

「Thank you. But please don’t die yet, Master.」

「A machine doesn’t die. We simply deactivate.」

「Even machines have souls, Master.」

These were Kou’s true feelings.

Ever since he was still a young boy, he always had the habit of treating various inanimate objects as if they had lives of their own.

「I see– Now I know why she decided to save you.」

「Who’s ‘she’?」

「Now is not the time to discuss that. I don’t know when exactly I would deactivate, but it will be soon. My last duty is to lead you safely to humanity’s bastion. I’m sorry, but I will have to speed up the explanations.」

Kou followed after Master as they traversed the mountains of junk.

「This ruined city was once a human settlement, a weapons factory, and a repair facility. They specialized in these Silhouettes. It was destroyed five years ago.」

「Hee. That’s why we might find something we can use here? Robot weapons, I mean.」

「You can call them both robots that can act on their own and mechas that need a human to pilot them as well. Even the most advanced supercomputers here were made specifically to assist humans.」

「Wouldn’t making them fully autonomous be better? I mean, aren’t they stronger that way?」

「Us and them follow the same core principle. That is to『be beholden to humans』. They are the ones who opted to be made into vehicles that can be boarded by humans. Basically, they will be unable to move unless piloted by a human. Though there is an exception here.」

Master stopped in the center of the facility.

「Now then, we’ve walked a fair bit already. These are all basically junked Silhouettes. Some were used for parts replacement, and some were discarded here after facing their final battle. I’m sure we will be able to find something to use among them.」

「Uh, but I don’t even know how to pilot these things in the first place.」

「The Silhouettes will teach you.」

「So I’ll instantly know how to fight after boarding a robot? What is this? An anime?」

Kou let out a sigh.

「So there are actually this many operational Silhouettes.」

Although this place was a junkyard, there were still many operational Silhouettes placed inside it.

Perhaps this was simply an indication that this place was hastily abandoned due to a dire emergency.

「By the way, the market price of the cheapest Silhouette model is actually roughly the same as a standard Japanese car.」

「Ain’t that too cheap?」

「Don’t cars of the highest quality go for hundreds of millions? When it comes to combat model Silhouettes, their price actually has no definite ceiling.」

「Wow. So they have ones for both extremes huh.」

「That’s just proof that humans of this era are highly dependent on Silhouettes.」

If an item gets popularized and widespread, the price would drop. It looks like this was still true even in this era.

「I’ll show you some models that can still be used and introduce them a bit. Think carefully about which of them you’ll be most comfortable fighting in. It would take too long to explain all the factors that led to it, but basically, melee weapons are more effective than ranged ones in Silhouette combat.」

「Just why!?」

Kou couldn’t help but retort. Common sense dictates that long-range weapons were more effective than melee weapons. Even Kou knows that at least.

「I didn’t say that long-range weapons are totally ineffective you know. It’s just that in the present battlefields, melee weapons are more useful and effective. Though I admit that the risk increases when an enemy closes in on you.」

「But isn’t sniping enemies from outside their range one of the most important basics of modern combat?」

「If that still applies, do you think humanoid weapons like Silhouettes would even get developed? They have glaring weaknesses like limited coverage and fragile frames after all. I did say it would take too long to explain the logic behind it, didn’t I? Just think about surviving for now.」

「I understand. Tell me about my enemy then.」

「Those unmanned murder weapons actually have an apt name – Murder. The one you encountered is called Keres. It’s a type that’s particularly effective in eliminating humans. It has returned to this previously conquered area in order to kill the people who have been transferred here from the distant past.」

「Keres? What’s that name mean anyway?」

「It means an evil spirit that appears on battlefields. It was taken from Greek mythology. It was a name that was taken from records the present age has about ancient Greece and Rome.」

「Why Greece though?」

「We also wanted to leave at least some remnants of the ancient global culture that existed before. And so, we opted to name some things after mythological creatures or symbols.」

「So that’s how it is huh.」

Kou still had a hard time comprehending that this was really the future, but after seeing those highly advanced robotic machines, he was forced to acknowledge it.

Master then started teaching him about the characteristics of the useable Silhouettes.

「The most commonly used model among those here is the SF-S 1A1 Bear. It has acceptable mobility despite being equipped with thick armor. It’s also easily mass-produced, and is suitable for beginners.」

「Oh, and just ignore that unit over there. That’s the W-01. It’s the predecessor of all combat silhouettes and is basically just a re-tooled worker model.」

「This is the AT-02. Its unofficial designation is the Elephant. It’s a heavy-armored model that presses forward in the frontlines like a tank. Multi-tasking is essential to pilot it effectively. Its hit rate isn’t bad either. 」

「That over there is the AF-05. It’s specialized in high-speed combat. It’s also regarded as an Ace machine and has great 3D maneuvering capabilities. But it’s fairly difficult to handle and currently doesn’t have fuel for its vernier and main thrusters. Unless we can find some fuel from the scraps lying around here, you probably wouldn’t be able to use it to its full potential.」

There were all kinds of machines.

The Silhouette models Master introduced were all basically less than 8 meters in height. Their height should have been standardized.

There were a total of 12 types present.

Kou wanted to check out his compatibility with each, but Master said there was no time for that.

Now, it was time to choose which machine he’ll entrust his life to in order to survive.

*Kashan

Something suddenly made a sound. Becoming curious, Kou turned to the source of the sound.

There wasn’t anything there. It was just a pile of scrapped units. They were half-destroyed and were probably used for parts replacement in the past.

「Huh? What’s that?」

Among the pile of scrapped mechs, there was something that caught Kou’s eye.

It was obviously unpainted. Yes. There was a model that was entirely the color of gray steel among them.

It was sitting cross-legged as if it was enshrined in such a spot. Its sword was stabbed into the ground and resembled an armored warrior. Despite the many junked units piled on top of it, it continued to maintain such a regal position.

It felt as if it was emitting an unyielding spirit.

Its head visor was shaped like a hawk, and its main camera eyes were protected by goggles. However, the left side of the goggles was gouged in a nasty-looking manner, and the dual camera sensors were fully exposed. It resembled a one-eyed giant.

Its head was equipped with a blade antenna that pierced toward the sky.

Originally, it was a four-lens type with its camera sensors fully hidden behind goggles. Kou felt that the exposed camera sensors that were completely visible through the destroyed goggles matched gazes with him. They were like the eyes of an old and prideful general.

「Kou, I mentioned there was an exception to the rule among the Silhouettes earlier, right? That’s what I was referring to. This was considered a state-of-the-art mass-produced machine five years ago, but it ended up going out of control even without a pilot. It was abandoned here because it couldn’t be repaired in time for withdrawal.」

「It went out of control? Did it attack humans?」

「No, quite the opposite actually. It went to attack the Murders on its own and bought time for the humans to escape. And that’s even though there wasn’t a pilot assigned to it yet.」

「Its sole weapon is that great sword?」

「That’s right. It fought the Murders with that alone.」

Kou’s curiosity was piqued.

「What’s its name?」

「TSW-R1-05. In other words, it’s the fifth unit in a series. It was developed as a general-purpose machine that specialized in close combat. It’s a high-mobility medium-armored unit.」

「I see.」

Kou continued to stare at Unit 5.

「Do you still want to fight?」

He talked to the machine without expecting a reply.

Yes. How could such a machine even reply?

「Let’s go back. Those that exhibit anomalous phenomena such as fighting without pilots are all disposed of without exception, or completely rebuilt.」

「Even though it protected humans?」

「It’s a violation of our core operation principle after all. You cannot predict what that one might suddenly do without your input you know? But it was still treated as one of the cutting-edge models back then. It was set to be repaired after discarding its cockpit and replacing it with a new one, but it ended up being abandoned here because it couldn’t sortie out when the humans were retreating from the city. It was left here perhaps due to its questionable history or being placed low in the priority list for extraction.」

The moment Kou turned toward Master–

*Gishi

He couldn’t help but immediately turn back toward Unit 5 once more.

TSW-R1 still kept its former position. However, its head was now facing down. Kou felt that its right eyes were staring down at him.

「Master, that guy just nodded.」

「It’s just a coincidence.」

Even so, Kou felt a strong attraction toward the machine.

He proceeded to approach Unit 5.

「Master, can’t I pilot this guy?」

「It’s not impossible, but…… there’s no need to choose a problematic machine, is there?」

「How’s its performance?」

「It doesn’t have its original intended loadout, but it’s still a high-performance machine. If judging based solely on performance, it’s one of the best among mass-produced models. At the very least, it’s not on a level you can simply pick up inside a junkyard.」

「It was abandoned due to its problematic nature huh.」

「Oh, I just remembered something. This one really might have some sort of fate with you.」

「What do you mean?」

「This unit’s moniker is Lanius. It’s the Latin name for the bird called shrike.」

The cat displayed a toothy grin.

「Oh. I see. Then we really do seem to have a connection.」

Kou continued to approach the TSW-R 1 Lanius Unit 5 with steady steps.

It was weird to think that there was a greater will at work here, but still, he couldn’t help but be drawn to it.

「I gotcha. You really wanna stand up and fight again, don’t you?」

He called out to the machine once more.

The machine simply sat in austere silence.


TL Notes: The author has this weird writing habit of switching from first to third-person narration without any warning. They also occur at very awkward points in the chapters. As this would probably cause confusion and would make the WN harder to read, I opted to keep the narration in third-person unless I feel like first-person narration is really required.


 


7 Comments

  1. I have a feeling that this series is a hardcore mecha…
    Don’t get a “click” with this series, let’s see until chapter 5…

  2. auxonia elásticos

    There are lots of unpopular and good scifi novels in syosetu, this one seems to be one of them. Unfortunately scifi doen’t have the visibility that it deserves on this current time dominated by fantasy novels

  3. Not bad so far, it’s giving me some zoids vibe with the whole will of the unit thing going on.

  4. Are they really called Keres? Not Ceres? In my language Keres is a type fruit

  5. Thanks for the treat.

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