Editor: Thor’s Stone
Kou pushed the switch located on the fuselage of TSW-R1 05 and opened the cockpit hatch.
The fuselage slid forward and unveiled the cockpit hatch that also opened up to allow a person to get inside from above.
Kou quickly sat inside the cockpit seat and checked out the instruments within.
The control sticks were positioned to both sides and not the center, in between one’s feet. There were various buttons on top of the control console. There were also pedals under his feet.
「I see…… I have totally no idea what I’m looking at here.」
Of course, he couldn’t be expected to know how everything works after just one glance.
「You have to complete the pilot registration procedure first.」
Master proceeded to sit on top of his lap.
「There are only five types of cockpits according to standard. Most of them are single-and-a-half seaters.」
「What’s with the ‘half’ part?」
「It refers to the spare seat. It’s installed according to standard. Normally, it functions as a single-seater, but in case of emergencies, it’s possible to sit on the spare back seat.」
「That’s not what you’re supposed to be surprised about. In you Earthling’s words, they come fully equipped with drinking water systems, showers, and toilets.」
「Now that’s amazing!」
「The basic design of cockpits hasn’t changed much from 20,000 years ago. They are already considered lost tech in this world.」
「You mean they’re really rare and valuable?」
「Nope. There are actually tons of manufacturing facilities built up in space.」
「Because it’s considered as extremely basic technology in the present era. Human beings in the far past had continuously built manufacturing facilities and equipment for making cockpits. They were so zealous about it that the number of facilities and equipment increased to a truly ridiculous degree, and now, we have more than we would ever need.」
Kou closed the cockpit hatch according to Master’s instructions.
「Sometimes, the number of times you can perform pilot registration is limited, and sometimes it isn’t.」
「So how about this guy?」
「Since it immediately went out of control after roll-out, it hasn’t registered even a single pilot yet, and it was also reinitialized.」
「How do I register……?」
『Pilot registration complete. Mozuya Kou.』
A male voice echoed inside the cockpit.
Master raised its voice in protest.
「Just what are you thinking, Unit 5……? You skipped far too many steps.」
The cat voiced its complaint toward the machine.
Kou ended up being registered as TSW-R1’s pilot without even doing anything.
『Kou is now registered as TSW-R1 Unit 5’s pilot.』
The synthetic voice of the OS replied in a matter-of-fact manner.
「So, can I finally pilot this thing now?」
「Undoubtedly. Unit 5 has already scanned your info from the cockpit and completed the registration process.」
『Initializing ATE. Activating voice assist for beginner pilot.
Operating system, green.
Generator output, green.
Movement system, green.
Control system, green.
Attitude control system, green.
Power sensor, green.
Monitor screen, head damage detected. No effect on normal operation.
Weapon systems, green. Please set this unit’s weapons.
Communication systems, green. No connection.
Radar function, green.
Systems, all green.
Mandatory check of all system avionics complete.
The default operating language is set to English. Converting to standard Japanese.
Pilot’s era range and present age check complete. Language conversion and optimization of Fennel OS complete.』
「What did it mean by era range?」
「It scanned info directly from your brain. Due to that, it has determined that you are a Japanese person who lived in the 21st century, and the OS of this machine has been optimized for easy handling by humans who lived in that particular era.」
「Ain’t that too amazing? There’s actually no need for humans to pilot this thing if it’s this capable, right?」
「There is. That’s simply how they were built.」
「What about that fennel thing?」
Kou was familiar with a similar-sounding word due to the influence of mecha anime. They were pretty famous after all. They flew unmanned and obeyed the will of the pilots.
「It’s the name of a plant. An herb, to be precise.」
It looks like he was way off the mark.
「I see. I’ll just ask you why it’s named after an herb later…… An operating system huh.」
「I’m sorry, but I’ll have to withdraw for now. Just do your best, young man.」
「Currently, Unit 5 is collecting all relevant info regarding you. The process is less efficient as long as I remain present inside the cockpit. This machine optimizes its operating system based on your biometric information. I’ll ride together with you again later once it finishes.」
「Okay, I gotcha. I’ll see you later.」
Kou opened the cockpit and let Master out.
Master jumped down and dexterously landed on all fours back on the ground. It then looked up to gaze at Unit 5.
「You’re called Unit 5, right? Please. Teach me how to fight.」
Kou addressed Unit 5 once again.
『Launching pilot training mode.』
An emotionless voice replied to his request.
And so, Kou’s training began.
After spending a good while inside the cockpit of Unit 5, Kou finally opened the hatch and went back down.
「How was it?」
「Even though it pulls info directly from my brain, there were still a lot of operations to learn.」
「It is an OS designed to smoothen visual information relay, judgment, split-second decision-making, and action conversion. Instead of having to press buttons and operating controls, there are a lot of actions humans perform unconsciously with their bodies without having to actively think about doing them beforehand. That’s why instead of tracing a human body’s movements, piloting a machine just like how one would drive a car is more suitable for a world where fast control response is paramount.」
「Driving a car huh…… I didn’t really need to focus on them much to make the limbs move. It’s like a combination of forklift and game controls.」
「A complete man-machine interface was just not practical. It would feel unnatural if one had to think about doing it first before a machine’s limbs would move after all.」
「Yeah. It would feel really awkward if I had to visualize the whole sequence first before it can raise a gun, pull the trigger, and shoot.」
Kou was convinced by Master’s explanation.
「In other words, it’s designed specifically to reduce the burden on a pilot while maximizing response time as much as possible when operating the machine. It can be said that a pilot’s individual skills and mental strength are directly linked to the overall strength of a Silhouette. One’s personal skills greatly affect a Silhouette’s performance all thanks to the support of the Fennel OS.」
「Why do you need mental strength?」
「Because the Fennel OS enhances your five basic senses in addition to your sixth sense. Mental strength can greatly influence this process. In other words, there are times where you have to pilot using guts.」
「I think I kinda get it.」
Kou proceeded to sit next to Master.
「Consciousness and cognition are especially important. The Silhouette’s handheld weapons imitate the form of weapons used by human infantry. In terms of functionality, there’s actually no need for them to be, and yet they still do.”
「So there’s a good reason for them be shaped that way, right?」
「It’s because they need to be easily recognizable to the pilot. You’d need to be able to take one look and say this is an assault rifle, this is a sword, and so on. The Silhouette moves while taking that into account. If the pilot and Silhouette’s perceptions match, performing actions will become smoother, right?」
「Oh, you mean it’s something like not immediately understanding it’s a gun if the weapon is shaped like a simple iron rod.」
「That’s it. And as I said, your senses are enhanced to the limit. Though it isn’t to the extent that bullets would seem like they’ve stopped in place while you’re piloting. Your perception of speed will only be slowed down to something you can reasonably handle. This might be the essence of strength of Silhouettes.」
「So they can enhance a human’s senses huh.」
When Kou looked at the Silhouettes placed inside the junkyard once more, he felt that they were now giving off a certain fighting will that he didn’t manage to notice before.
「They were all abandoned here, but they haven’t rusted at all.」
He’s worked in the manufacturing industry until just yesterday. He’s very familiar with applying corrosion inhibitors onto the metal before undergoing the machining process. You couldn’t apply corrosion inhibitors to some exterior parts and parts that had plating applied beforehand, but those had already undergone anti-rust treatment in the first place.
「Look around you. Take a good look at this scrapyard again.」
Kou looked around as told.
Like giant grave markers, different types of Silhouettes were parked in various corners, and beneath them were wrecked and rusted Silhouettes that were piled up on top of each other randomly.
「The parked ones aren’t rusted, but why are the damaged ones in that sorry state instead?」
「That’s what I was getting at. As long as it’s powered, a Silhouette will never rust or degrade. The cause for this is also why melee weapons are more effective than long-range weapons in Silhouette combat.」
「What’s the cause?」
Even the study-allergic Kou’s curiosity was piqued.
Master let out a yawn and acted like a normal cat in response.
「By the way, Unit 5 told me something strange earlier.」
「It said my hobby was good for combat and will improve melee performance.」
「Hobby? Just what is your hobby anyway?」
「I don’t really get it, but……」
With an embarrassed look, Kou told Master about his hobby.
「Yeah, um, I used to practice kendo as a hobby. Specifically, I practiced battoujutsu. And Unit 5 managed to incorporate and optimize it or something.」
「Are you actually a samurai?」
Master’s curiosity was also piqued.
「I’m just a normal blue-collar salaryman. I only practiced it strictly as a hobby.」
Kou’s parents passed away early, and he started working soon after graduating from high school.
He worked in a factory as a machine operator.
He practiced battoujutsu as a hobby, but even he didn’t really understand why he ended up doing so. However, Kou always had a lot of fun whenever he was swinging a sword.
Due to his hobby, he ended up making friends with his company’s chairman as well as his grandchild, but that earned the jealousy of some of his coworkers and brought him unexpected trouble.
「It apparently won’t be that useful for landing critical blows to an enemy’s weak spots, but it seems some moves can be implemented.」
「I see. If that’s the case, shall we bet on those moves of yours then? As long as it would help you in defeating the Keres, then it’s something good. There’s not much time left. That goes for both you and me.」
「Your body is also under a lot of stress. It isn’t obvious, but it’s there, and it’s gradually causing you harm. The gravity here is stronger compared to Earth’s.」
「Seriously. We’re still in the same galaxy, but this isn’t Earth after all. It’s different for the humans who were rescued. The earlier you undergo appropriate treatment, the better. You should be about 10% heavier compared to when you were on Earth.」
Kou wasn’t familiar with the exact effects of gravity on one’s weight, but suddenly gaining 10% of one’s regular weight did sound like it’ll be a burden.
Like Master said, he might not have long left either.
「You’ll be fine while you’re inside a Silhouette though. They all have human-protection systems installed as a standard feature after all.」
「Man, they sure have everything covered, don’t they?」
Kou had noticed something after undergoing the training mode inside the Silhouette.
He felt a sense of oneness with the machine while he was operating it.
Maybe it’s similar to the sense of oneness race car drivers feel whenever they drove their own machines.
Yes, it was that kind of feeling.
「Maybe I can pull this off by tomorrow.」
Kou muttered in a low voice.
「Isn’t tomorrow a little bit too hasty?」
「Is sitting around here and waiting for death better then?」
「It would be fine as long as there are enough functioning facilities remaining.」
「One can tell that this place was abandoned in a hurry judging from how many of the things left here are still plenty usable.」
「There are a lot of usable weapons and equipment left after all.」
「We better hurry with choosing your loadout. However, since there are no work machines present, we’re limited to what Unit 5 can equip on its own without the need for external assistance.」
「We can also use the other units as stand-ins for proper work machines, I think.」
「You’d better drop that idea. You’re a newbie Silhouette pilot, so it’s best if you only get used to piloting Unit 5 alone right now.」
「Okay. Let’s go ahead and get on board together then.」
Kou and the cat proceeded to board Unit 5 while thinking about their next action.
TL Notes: A reference to the funnels from Gundam. Fennel sounds like funnel, geddit? Uh, that was the author’s attempt at humor, not mine.  Battoujutsu – the art of sword drawing in Japanese swordsmanship. It’s an old term for iaido and can be used interchangeably with it. A famous example of it in action can be seen in the anime and manga series Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X in the first English release). It’s used by the main character, Himura Kenshin, who also has the monicker Battousai.