Editor: Thor’s Stone
「Fuyuki-san, we’re going to proceed with the operation now and head to Point C.」
「Understood. I’ll accompany you. Let’s go get the necessary weapons and equipment from the support vehicle and have them withdraw afterward.」
After hearing Blue’s words, Fuyuki offered to accompany them.
The three piloted their Silhouettes and headed to the position of the support vehicle, resupplied, and headed for Point C.
At Point C, they found Barry and Mike escorting a peculiar-looking tracked armored vehicle. Voy was onboard the said vehicle, driving it.
「Thanks for escorting Voy all the way here guys!」
「This much is no problem at all. But you sure made something outrageous, Kou.」
The vehicle before them all was quite unusual. It didn’t resemble your usual armored vehicle at all.
A huge cylinder was installed on the front of the vehicle. A similarly cylindrical shield was equipped around it, enveloping it with a solid protective layer. It somewhat resembled a tunnel excavator on 21st century Earth.
Voy was inside the second car of the two-car vehicle, where the controls were located.
「Kou, what exactly is this thing?」
Upon seeing the unfamiliar weapon(?), Blue couldn’t help but inquire in puzzlement.
「……It’s a shield tunnel excavation armored vehicle.」
「You call it a shield, but its purpose isn’t exactly being a shield, right?」
「It’s fine. The name still makes sense. After all, it can still function as a shield with no problem.」
「I’m sure that when first Rick saw this thing, he thought it was a new weapon. We can even bet on it.」
「I’m well aware of how weird it is. Can we just please drop this topic?」
Kou, who was questioned strictly by Blue, muttered weakly in response.
「Hey, Kou-kun. Don’t tell me… Are you planning on making your way inside by burrowing underground?」
Kou confirmed Fuyuki’s guess.
「Uh, so this is basically Jet Mo–」
「It’s the shield tunnel excavation armored vehicle!」
Kou quickly interrupted Fuyuki, who was about to utter very dangerous words.
「It doesn’t have a lot of firepower, does it?」
「It’s because this guy is equipped with a drilling function.」
「I knew it! So it really can function as a drill!」
「Can you guys just tell me what’s going on? Stop talking about stuff only you two can understand please.」
Blue interrupted Kou’s silly exchange with Fuyuki.
「Sorry, sorry. Voy, you’re up.」
「Heck yeah! Let’s do this!」
Voy bellowed in excitement as he activated the shield tank.
「Cutter face, activate! Screw conveyor, startup! Sediment conversion arc furnace, maximum output!」
As the bear shouted excitedly, he operated the panels in front of him and activated various devices equipped on the shield tank.
「Oh c’mon Voy! You don’t really need to shout the device names when you activate them!」
「Shield jack, oooon!」
「Why do you insist on shouting out the names anyway?」
「I learned that they always shout out the names of the weapons in 20th-century anime shows! Erector, operation staaart!」
「Stop it alreadyyyy!」
Fuyuki cupped his mouth as he tried very hard to suppress his laughter. It looked like the situation really tickled his funny bone.
Meanwhile, Blue looked at the two with cold eyes. Kou’s stomach began aching.
Cutter face. It was a huge fan-shaped cutter bit that excavated the ground.
The soil and sand would be collected by the screw conveyor and burned in the internal furnace of the machine.
All the organic matter would be burned up, leaving mostly silicon dioxide, or, alternatively, silica.
The silica obtained would then be mixed with the hardening agent that would be sprayed out by the erector in order to strengthen the walls of the newly excavated tunnel.
Hence, drifter drilling, soil ejection, and tunnel reinforcement can all be performed by Kou’s machine in one smooth process.
The tunnel it creates is about 6 meters in diameter. A Silhouette can easily pass through it if it crouches a bit.
It also had other equipment such as a mechanical arm with a cutter pick installed on it, and a dozer for removing soil and sand from the machine’s path.
The front car of the drill tank was equipped with an internal arc furnace that burns down the soil particles, sand, and organic matter that’s been drilled up by the machine, converting them into silica. The rear car can be detached and driven independently in an emergency. It also sports wire-guided missiles and machine cannons for defense.
The tunnel excavation armored vehicle jacked up its cutter face and started digging through the ground at an angle.
It advanced at a relatively tremendous speed. In the 21st century, excavators could only advance a few meters per hour when digging, but the armored vehicle Kou created had enough power to advance at a blistering pace of more than 50 meters an hour instead.
It achieved this significant speed upgrade through the combination of heat-resistant material reinforced by Whis, improvement of the cutter bit’s performance, and a design that incorporated a soil ejection function into the machine.
「This thing sure is amazing.」
Barry was quite shocked by the bewildering excavation speed. The machine had already disappeared into the ground before they knew it.
「It’s impressive that you could come up with such a tank.」
「I’ve been trying to think up of ways to destroy the shelter that protects the Fortress Area for a while. We can’t exactly prepare something as stupidly huge as an Enyo. So I thought, why not just go underground?」
「So you solved the problem from another angle huh.」
「Earth and concrete would be way easier to penetrate compared to a shelter after all. The displaced soil and sand particles would pose a problem, but I remembered something about the creature I modeled the machine from. I heard that the creature was capable of digesting the fine particles created when it burrows into wood, so I wondered if I could have my machine do the same.」
And the fruits of Kou’s brainstorming and labor was the subterranean drill tank digging through the ground before the group. It would have been absolutely impossible to create one using 21st century Earth technology. After all, it would have been impossible to create a furnace powerful enough to incinerate ingested soil and sand particles to produce material for reinforcing an excavated tunnel’s walls by using silica.
「What’s the creature you modeled it from?」
Blue got curious and inquired further.
「A shipworm. It’s not really a worm, but a mollusk. It looks pretty creepy and disgusting, so it would be better if you don’t look it up.」
「Okay. I definitely won’t look it up then.」
Blue nodded while shuddering. Kou inwardly thought she was unexpectedly really girly at times despite mostly behaving more like a tomboy.
「It’s about time you went in guys. The tunnel walls have solidified.」
「Gotcha. We’ll head in right away.」
After being contacted by Voy, Kou promptly piloted Unit 5 to enter the tunnel. Blue and Fuyuki’s machines followed after him. Barry and Mike were the last to dive into the tunnel while keeping a close watch on the surroundings.
TL Notes: Fuyuki was about to mention Jet Mole, which is a fictional high-tech drilling vehicle used in the 1960s British Sci-fi series Thunderbirds. Apparently, the show’s vehicle toys were popular in Japan.