Editor: Thor’s Stone
「Ma-chan. Kou-san’s amazing, isn’t he?」
「Yeah. ……He really is amazing. He’s like those knights in fairytales.」
「The guys from Metal Iris said he’s a samurai. So cool!」
The young girl’s cheeks blushed red as she stared in a daze at Unit 5. Meanwhile, the young boy looked up at it with longing eyes.
Unit 5 appeared dashingly and unleashed a series of fascinating slashes that took their breaths away.
It didn’t kill needlessly. It was a quick and efficient battle.
Marl’s team proceeded to recover the prisoners. They pulled out the multi-cockpit system or MCS from the disabled Silhouettes and stuffed them inside a supply vehicle.
The general-purpose cockpit system was similar in shape to the cockpit of a 21st Century attack helicopter. It had a double structure and possessed the ability to absorb and neutralize strong impacts when permeated by Whis.
The tandem cockpit’s second section held the power pack with an in-built Whis reactor. The power pack was one of a Silhouette’s main weak points.
The material used for building the cockpit was advanced nanomaterial that can only be synthesized in space. It was a very strong and hard-to-damage material. It’s also widely accepted that it was impossible to be manufactured from scratch by both sides.
Its basic design had not changed since the Planetary Pioneering era more than 20,000 years in the past. It also functioned as an emergency escape capsule. Silhouettes were weapons known for high survival rate.
Due to this convenient fact, there exists a rough method of abandoning the rest of a highly damaged Silhouette and slapping the MCS in another frame. This is used in emergency situations where there is a lack of spare parts and materials for making repairs.
The captured pilots would be released if someone pays the bail for them. Until then, they would be left inside their cockpits or transferred to another vehicle.
「But the place they’re heading to is–」
「That tough shelter’s our greatest enemy huh.」
The younger brother responded to his older sister’s words.
They were looking at the gigantic and imposing shelter in the distance.
「I’m stepping away from this place for a bit. I’ll be checking for traps such as detection alarms and mines. Proceed with the work.」
At Fuyuki’s order, the other two amphibious Silhouettes began working.
First, they had to create a crack in the wall, but they were having trouble doing just that.
Before long, Fuyuki returned, but they haven’t made much progress.
「This is really tough, leader!」
The engineering unit was having trouble opening a hole in the shelter.
「We expected as much anyway. This thing wouldn’t even budge when hit by a falling meteor after all.」
The drilling work was quite difficult.
They first had to create a crack in the wall and continue working on it until they’ve created a useable opening, but it looks like the shelter’s design specifications had already taken such a method into account as well.
They were using a high-powered laser and high-frequency electric heat cutters to punch through the wall.
A fissure finally got created on the wall after all three Silhouettes worked on it in earnest for some time.
However, they were contacted by the support vehicle’s operator who had some bad news for them.
「Responses picked up by the radar. Keres are heading your way. There’s a large number of Ant-types. There’s also a Mantis-type among them!」
「A Mantis-type too huh. They really aren’t holding back.」
Fuyuki let out a sigh.
「Suspend operations for the meantime. We really can’t get a lot done unless we wipe out the enemies coming for us.」
All of a sudden, the large sickle of the Mantis-type that had split to form a blade claw appeared from the forest depths and grabbed one of the Silhouettes.
The Silhouette’s armor started to emit unsettling noises.
Fuyuki immediately cut down the claw with his machine’s high-frequency vibro-blade and rescued his subordinate.
「Thanks for the save, leader!」
「Even if it’s a Mantis-type, this speed is…… An enhanced type huh.」
Fuyuki analyzed the situation calmly. It was just too fast for the Mantis-type to have reached them already when the support vehicle just detected their approach mere moments earlier.
The Ant-types haven’t arrived yet either. It looks like they wouldn’t be able to continue with the operation.
The Silhouette that was grabbed regained its bearings while the other used its rifle to restrain the enemy Mantis-type.
「Withdraw to the support vehicle’s position, you two. After joining up, head to the river in five minutes and make your way back to the main force.」
「What about you, leader?」
「I have some business left here. Don’t worry about me. –Hurry up and get out of here already!」
As he persuaded his men to withdraw, Fuyuki changed his machine’s loadout and equipped a rocket launcher.
The two other Silhouettes finally withdrew, leaving just Fuyuki alone to face the enemy.
The Mantis-type stood menacingly before his machine. It’s said that you needed at least three Silhouettes working together to defeat such a Keres model.
「I can’t miss at this distance.」
He fired a rocket at the Mantis-type’s head and quickly destroyed it in one shot. The Mantis-type got pushed back by the blast’s impact.
Unfortunately, there would be no decrease in the overall combat power of a Mantis-type even if its head gets destroyed. The only way to stop it was to destroy it completely or to sever it at the torso.
「Maybe it’s about time I retreated as well.」
Fuyuki didn’t use a professional tone whenever he was alone. He instead preferred to refer to himself with ‘boku’ as opposed to ‘watashi’.
Ant Worker-types finally appeared in droves behind the Mantis-type and began firing their lasers at Fuyuki’s machine.
Without giving them a single backward glance, Fuyuki made his Silhouette enter the forest and disappeared from view.
Due to the heavy rocket launcher he was carrying, it was hard to say that his speed was quick.
The Mantis and Ant Worker-types that had lost sight of him began to give chase.
Fuyuki headed to a narrow path within the forest.
The Mantis and Ant-types were hot on his tail.
He fired his rocket launcher once more.
A large rocket flew through the air. The rocket had a wire connected to it.
The rocket landed in the middle of the enemies and caused a powerful explosion.
The wire had multiple bombs attached to it, and those exploded in a chain as well.
「Now that’s what I call a round-up. Literally.」
Fuyuki muttered under his breath.
It was a mine-clearing line charge. Clearing out mines was one of the jobs of combat engineers. The line charge can be said to be a weapon exclusive to combat engineers.
It exploded in a line instead of a single point or in a wide area.
It was mainly used to clear out mines by inducing them to detonate and wasn’t considered an offensive weapon.
However, it was also implemented in urban warfare against guerillas on 21st century Earth. In the Nemesis warfront, it was modified to be more effective against Keres, and its power was increased.
Although it wasn’t powerful enough to be effective against high-dimensional projection armor, it had sufficient destructive power to destroy Ant-type Keres.
The Keres got caught in the explosions and their pursuit stalled.
There were various demining methods. You can simply hit the chain to induce detonation or scoop them out with dozers.
Compared to those, mine-clearing line charges are able to be used offensively.
Combat engineers. They were always at the forefront of any battlefield. They were a strategic unit that made full use of various cutting-edge equipment and weapons to perform their jobs.
「You see, guys. You should always have a hidden card or two handy, just in case.」
The corners of Fuyuki’s lips arched slightly upward.
Suddenly, a column of flame went up from another part of the forest. It was from a second previously-hidden armored support vehicle. It had fired a rocket from its rocket launcher.
It performed precision-guided bombardment.
It had launched another mine-clearing line charge.
Back on Earth, they used stuff like parachutes for inertial control, but this was the future. The needed propulsive power and point of impact can be calculated in an instant, and the rocket landed precisely at a point ahead of Fuyuki’s machine.
More explosions occurred. They were more powerful than the ones that went off earlier.
Once they died down, the Ant-type Keres were revealed to have been annihilated.
Only the Whis-powered Mantis-type now remained.
「Can’t we just let each other off here?」
The Mantis-type advanced toward Fuyuki’s Silhouette despite being hit by multiple explosions.
Fuyuki’s Silhouette took out a gun and quickly fired it.
It was a Silhouette-use spear gun. Its spear projectile was connected to the gun via wire. It was originally for use underwater.
It wasn’t suitable for group combat at all, but it possessed one fearsome property – Its projectile was capable of being reinforced by Whis from a Silhouette’s reactor even after being fired due to the wire.
However, its penetration power wasn’t on par with light-gas gun bullets.
It had two drawbacks. First, it was wholly incapable of firing repeatedly, and second, the impact force of its spear projectile was relatively weak. It didn’t possess much destructive power. Also, the wire supplying Whis to the projectile could be easily severed by a similarly Whis-reinforced weapon.
However, for Fuyuki, stalling the enemy for just an instant was more than enough.
The automated reel equipped to the speargun started spinning. The wire was strong enough to hoist an entire Silhouette without breaking.
The wire was being reeled back, but the Mantis-type didn’t budge an inch.
It was Fuyuki’s Silhouette that got launched into the air instead, heading straight toward the Mantis-type.
It then slashed out with its high-frequency vibro-blade as it passed the enemy while in mid-air. The sickle of the Mantis-type slashed back, but it was promptly severed.
The Mantis-type’s power pack was inside its torso. Fuyuki’s Silhouette mounted its back and ran its torso through with the high-frequency vibro-blade.
The stab pierced the power pack, and the Mantis completely stopped moving.
「I’m not that good at fighting you know. Give me a break……」
Fuyuki let out a weary sigh.
「You’re late, Blue-san.」
「What the heck are you on about? You just managed to wipe out this many enemies before we even arrived. Not good at fighting my foot.」
Blue and Kou’s Silhouettes finally arrived at the scene.
「So you’re Kou-kun huh. Please just call me Fuyuki. It’s always nice to meet a fellow countryman! You’re the one who made all those silly song requests to Blue-san, right? Looking forward to working with you.」
「You found me out. I’m looking forward to working with you as well.」
「Oh, you don’t need to speak with me in keigo. I formerly worked in sales you see. I’m just used to speaking this way to other people.」
「I’ll take you up on that then. You have really amazing piloting skills.」
「Fuyuki’s amazing alright. He’s a mine installation and demining specialist. He’s nicknamed ‘Mine Shop’.」
「Mine Shop? Ah, I get it. The shapeshifting Jiraiya-san, right?」
「Ugh! You noticed huh.」
The two Japanese men laughed in amusement at the in-joke. They seemed to be making fun of the nanomachine’s automated translation function.
「What are you guys laughing about?」
「I’ll tell you about it later.」
「Tell me right now!」
Kou responded with a vague laugh after seeing Blue sulk.
The one who gave Fuyuki his nickname was probably also Japanese.
It was probably not “Jirai-ya” (Mine Shop) but “Jiraiya ” (Young Thunder) instead. Yep, it was the name of a legendary shinobi!
TL Notes: Keigo – Japanese formal speech used in many social situations such as talking to your superiors at work or people you’ve met for the first time.  This is a Japanese pun. Apparently, the nanomachine translation program used the kanji for “explosive mine” (Jirai) and “shop/store” (Ya) to transliterate Fuyuki’s nickname. But his nickname was actually “Jiraiya” (Young Thunder), a legendary (and fictional) toad-riding shinobi (ninja) from the Japanese folktale Jiraiya Gouketsu Monogatari (The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya). It was so well-known that it was adapted into a Kabuki play.
Yes, Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Orochimaru didn’t originate from the popular manga and anime series Naruto guys. They were characters from a well-known Japanese folktale before characters based on them starred in Naruto. Oh, and here’s a fun fact. In the folktale, Jiraiya marries Tsunade. Meaning he’s a lot luckier with the ladies compared to his Naruto counterpart XD