Editor: Thor’s Stone
Kou stood between the Storm Hound field repair and supply unit and the enemy Silhouettes.
Blue was right behind him, ready to offer support.
While Rick and the rest were trying to break through the enemy defense net, Kou and the others were supposed to head straight for the sealed area.
However, they detected the attack on the supply unit and came to help.
Blue was worried.
This was Kou’s first antipersonnel Silhouette battle.
There were people inside the enemy Silhouettes.
「Should I just close in and cut them down? There’s three of them.」
「The enemies are all piloting Bears. They aren’t that great at close combat.」
Aimer gave information via comms. Kou nodded and stored Unit 5’s rifle on its waist mount. He then made his machine pull out its great sword from its back. Unit 5 pulled it out from the right-hand side.
Swords should get paired with scabbards, but the prototype great sword unfortunately didn’t have one. Kou really wanted a scabbard though, so he was thinking of asking for Arges’ help later on.
Three ladies were staring seriously at the main screen back in Kou’s Hangar Carrier.
It was Kou’s first time going up against fellow humans after all.
Would his psyche be able to endure the disconnect between his usual sense of morals and his current reality? They were worried about that matter.
「Kou. Can you do it?」
「Yeah, I can.」
Kou smiled and responded to Blue’s uneasy-sounding voice. He seemed quite calm about the whole thing too.
Blue heard that Japan in the era Kou lived in was relatively peaceful.
It’s said that there was no emergency conscription and no records of open engagement with hostile forces. Their military primarily dealt with assisting in relief and rescue operations during large-scale disasters.
And many Japanese transferees attest to this description of a peaceful Japan.
Many of the Japanese transferees were not accustomed to war. Though it might be better to say that their education did not focus much on making them have more of an interest in national defense or their country’s territory.
So what about Kou?
「Blue, I’m counting on you for support.」
Kou dashed forward. But he didn’t use his machine’s rollers. He was making it run on its own legs.
It had its left shoulder sticking forward as it ran, protecting the rest of his machine’s body with the shoulder shield. His machine was slightly crouched, and the position also minimized the areas that can be hit by long-range attacks.
「The enemies are all equipped with standard assault rifles. You can deal with them once you close the distance.」
Aimer once again gave advice via comms.
The enemy Silhouettes were surprised by Kou’s action. After all, he didn’t use rollers to dash forward. Moreover, his machine sported a giant sword that they’ve never seen before.
These were both things they haven’t anticipated.
「Kh! O-Open fire!」
There was still some distance between them and the enemy. Therefore, they should just take good aim, shoot, and bring it down.
However, the bullets of their Silhouette’s rifles weren’t able to penetrate Kou’s shoulder shield.
Unit 5 was also moving strangely in their eyes. It performed quick and precise sidesteps to avoid a good number of their shots and soundly closed in on them.
Blue’s Silhouette that stayed behind in the rear also gave them trouble. They were being pinned down by her machine’s small-caliber railgun. The damage it dealt wasn’t heavy, but repeated hits would certainly make the damage accumulate.
Unit 5’s great sword, which should have been held below its waist, was now in an overhead position before they knew it.
Moreover, they suddenly found themselves face to face with the strange Silhouette.
It unleashed a seemingly effortless slash. That one slash cleanly bisected one of them in two right in the middle, going from the top of the Silhouette’s head until past its crotch. The remaining two were aghast. They’ve never even heard of the extremely tough multi-cockpit system being bisected so effortlessly before. It was akin to a nightmare.
The remaining two pilots were overcome with panic.
The enemy was just too powerful. Afraid of getting slashed to death, one pilot made his machine raise its rifle overhead to block.
As if ridiculing his action, the enemy proceeded to unleash a horizontal slash, severing his machine at the waist.
「What the hell are you!?」
The only remaining pilot screamed at the top of his lungs.
Two Silhouettes were destroyed in the blink of an eye.
Hence, it was natural for him to be so shocked.
Due to panic, he haphazardly fired his rifle in a frantic barrage. However, unless it was hit at point-blank range repeatedly, multiple hits from a standard assault rifle wouldn’t be able to deal any critical damage to high-dimensional projection armor.
The pilot knew that a slashing attack was coming. Will it come from above or from below?
In the end, the pilot was still a mercenary. He’d be a laughingstock of a mercenary if he wasn’t capable of handling life-threatening situations.
He deployed his assault rifles’ bayonet and prepared for close questers combat.
The dull sound of steel being torn apart rang out. The Bear’s head looked down on its abdomen as if it were stunned silent.
A large sword was stuck on it. The attack was a thrust instead of a slash.
「Just what the hell are you……?」
The pilot repeated the same words powerlessly.
His machine completely stopped moving. The pilot went into a trance.
Blue expressed her amazement in a soft voice. Kou did way better than she expected.
There was virtually no hesitation. The pilots of the Bears cut down at the waist and stabbed in the belly were probably still alive.
However, the first pilot to be cut down should definitely be dead.
As Blue approached Kou, she caught a shadow moving at the corner of her vision.
The right hand of the Bear whose waist was severed was aiming for Kou’s machine.
Blue screamed in warning. Sneak attacks were effective against humanoid Silhouettes.
But her panic ended up being needless.
Kou’s machine’s great sword swept the ground below. The Bear’s right hand got severed away.
He then stuck the sword right in front of the Bear’s cockpit.
「Surrender. Otherwise, die.」
Kou broadcasted his warning using the open channel. Though already quite late, he wondered if there was still such a thing as international laws in the Nemesis system.
「I-I got it. I surrender.」
The pilot of the other Bear responded as well.
「Confirmed the shutdown of the two machine’s reactors. The two have surrendered.」
Aimer confirmed the surrender of the two Bear pilots. Kou finally felt relieved.
There were no apparent bloodstains on Unit 5’s greatsword, but he still shook it just in case before putting it back on the rear mount.
「I’ve informed the supply unit about the prisoners. They’ll pick them up later.」
Blue called him through the comms.
「By the way, did you already know that the fallen Bear was trying to perform a sneak attack on you?」
By the time the Bear’s arm moved, it was instantly severed. It was as if the sword was placed in its path beforehand.
She could only surmise that Kou had detected the attack in advance.
「My swordsmanship style is based on iai, you see. Being in a state of zanshin at all times is basic.」
「You can think of it as a state of perpetual awareness, I suppose. After all, there’s always a chance of a fallen enemy launching an attack at you in desperation. That’s why you need to have a clear mind and always be aware of your enemy.」
「……Are you sure you’re really from 21st Century Earth?」
「The reason why you didn’t hesitate to cut down your enemies is that you practice iai, right?」
「Understood. I’ll make sure to research more about the samurai later.」
「Oh c’mon. I’m definitely no samurai!」
The silly conversation with Blue relieved Kou’s tension. He didn’t know if it was intentional or not, but he was still thankful.
Of course, it’s not like he didn’t feel any guilt in his heart. The first Bear pilot should have died.
He might even have dreams about it at night for a while.
Nevertheless, he still swung his sword without hesitation. He was already satisfied with that.
They were also aiming to kill him. It was not based on emotion or a sense of profit and loss. It was simply a mission. A job.
So he had to view things from the same perspective as well.
Whatever the reason, if you face enemies fully intent on killing you, then you’d have to do your best to retaliate as well. If not, you’ll die.
Kou remembered the waka poems his masters were fond of back on Earth. There were many schools practicing iai, but one of the ancestors who revived the art recited a particular poem.「Cut once an opponent’s sword is drawn. Cut not when an opponent’s sword is sheathed, this katana. What’s of great import is the act of cutting itself.」
Kou muttered in a low voice so that Blue wouldn’t hear.
TL Notes: Here’s the Japanese romaji for the waka poem: ”Nukaba kire. Nukazuba kiru na, kono katana. Tada kiru koto ni daiji koso are.”
It’s a bit vague, ain’t it? Here’s a general interpretation. Basically, in iai, what’s emphasized is counterattacking. But you also need to land your attack faster than your enemy even though your enemy made their move first. In other words, winning by acting late. It’s one of the core philosophies of iaijutsu (the art of sword drawing). Japanese culture sure is fascinating, right?