Fire of Prometheus
After Kou made it back to the Astraea, he was called over by Asia.
He was summoned to another operation center instead of the combat command center.
「You only called me over? This must be pretty important then.」
Since they were in a different room, then that must mean that what they were going to talk about wasn’t suitable to be discussed openly in the combat command center.
「Welcome Kou. With Astraea’s assistance, we were finally able to finish the analysis on the Fire of Prometheus. We called you here so we can give our report on this matter.」
Asia had already materialized and was waiting for Kou inside the room.
『It would have been impossible for me to perform an analysis on it on my own.』
「That goes for me as well. After all, I really can’t match a specialized weapons development AI in her area of expertise.」
「Thanks for all the hard work, you two.」
『These are the results of Asia and my work. We decided to consult with Kou about it first.』
「That’s a pretty heavy responsibility.」
The two went so far as to summon Kou alone. It should be a pretty major matter, Kou inwardly thought.
「Right. So, about the Fire of Prometheus that Kou encountered. What you witnessed back then were nothing more than side effects. They weren’t the main effect of the Fire of Prometheus.」
The Fire of Prometheus.
It was often associated with techniques and technologies that have been considered taboo since ancient times. It served as an allusion to the flames that brought both the wonders of prosperity and the horrors of conflict and war to humankind.
Now, it was also the name of a hidden function of the Fennel OS, the universal OS that’s installed in practically all present weapon systems, Including Silhouettes. Kou had already encountered some of its effects as well as the price one had to pay for those effects.
「You’re getting to the heart of the matter immediately huh?」
Kou couldn’t even imagine just what sort of heinous thing the main effect of the Fire of Prometheus would be if the side effects were already so atrocious.
「That basically means the limiter getting lifted during the activation of the Fire of Prometheus is nothing but a secondary effect. The main effect of the Fire of Prometheus is something else entirely.」
『Indeed. We’ve already confirmed indications of this by analyzing the Silhouettes of Metal Iris. However, the effects are varied between different machines, so there’s currently no way to completely validate our observations.』
「The effects are varied?」
「The Silhouette’s Fennel OS are basically AIs too after all. Individual differences and quirks should also be taken into account. It just so happens that those differences are the most prominent when using the Fire of Prometheus function.」
「Hold on a moment. Bardo said that the Fire of Prometheus function only activates when a Silhouette reaches a certain damage threshold.」
『And that certainly is the case. If a Silhouette receives a sufficiently large amount of damage, the protective function will activate, and it would allow the Fennel OS to lift its performance limiter.』
Astraea further explained the matter to Kou while using combat patterns as references.
『It goes without saying that weapons, including Silhouettes, work best and are able to demonstrate their combat functions without much issue in their standard initial states. That goes for living organisms as well. The more tired they are, the lower their overall performance.』
「I get that.」
『The Fire of Prometheus denies that entirely. When using this function, the more damage a Silhouette receives, the better its performance.』
『The main effect of the Flame of Prometheus is to nullify the upper performance limit. It’s a function that brings a machine’s performance limit over the design limit without considering safety. In other words, activating the Fire of Prometheus means lifting the reactor’s safety device.』
The design limit was the limit of a machine’s structural strength, and the performance limit was the upper limit that takes safety into consideration and only allowed performance that a machine can reasonably bear.
「Since the performance limiter will no longer be applied, the upper limit of the reactor also gets lifted, which results in the effects you previously witnessed.」
「That’s how it is. Also, the effects of the Flame of Prometheus displayed by different machines are quite varied. That’s why we weren’t able to discover it until now.」
「The effects are different for each machine?」
「The individual characteristics and quirks of each machine affects the results that get displayed. A machine’s compatibility with its pilot is also a major factor. A combination of those factors greatly affect the overall direction of the results that get displayed when a machine’s limiters get lifted. In other words, the resulting direction of performance improvements is different for each and every machine.」
『This is the result we arrived at by combining the Metal Iris and Ulysses member’s combat records and individual data. Now, we have to further hypothesize and analyze whether or not the conclusions were arrived at are correct.』
「If it wasn’t for Astraea’s advice, even I would have found it difficult to analyze the Fire of Prometheus.」
The two women sounded quite casual, but they should have arrived at their current results after performing analysis on quite a large amount of data.
However, it truly was a function that necessitated such a thorough analysis.
「What do you mean by different directions, exactly?」
『Let’s see. The most common pattern we observed was an increase in maneuverability, increased reactor output, increased Whis output, and increased armor strength.』
「In order to make up for the deterioration of a machine’s overall performance due to damage, the Fennel OS forcefully increases its specs and structural strength in a way that’s tailored to the pilot’s strengths. It’s akin to a wounded beast that’s high in adrenaline.」
『If a machine takes critical damage, the pilot will likely be in an extreme state of agitation, so they wouldn’t have any leeway to calmly analyze whether or not their machines are performing better than usual.』
Kou did experience a feeling of his machine responding to his wishes during combat quite a few times, but this was the first time he’d heard of such a function.
「What about the thing with a machine’s individual characteristics?」
『You can perhaps attribute this to a pilot’s intuition. There are many mercenaries who take advantage of their machine’s versatility and cross-compatibility and customize them to suit their individual preferences, such as equipping Bears with Grizzly arms and the like.』
「So, it’s machine assembly that’s performed by the mercenaries themselves huh……? Something like that’s impossible with machines like the Lanius or transformable machines.」
Kou had also heard of private machine assembly. However, a machine’s original design fully takes into account the resulting performance.
Mixing and matching parts from different models is nothing more than an irregular countermeasure.
The Lanius models and transformable Silhouettes that make use of armor muscles have low compatibility with regular Silhouette models, so they weren’t suitable for such assembly projects.
『It was fortunate that we adopted the Lanius as the official machine of Metal Iris. Thanks to this, our analysis of the Fire of Prometheus had progressed relatively smoothly.』
「The ship-based machines we mainly use in the front lines are Lanius A1s and transformable Silhouettes after all.」
「What kinds of effects are actually applied on Unit 5 though?」
Kou inquired about the matter he was currently most concerned about.
Asia involuntarily lowered her gaze, and Astraea turned silent after hearing his question.
「Hm? Why did you guys suddenly go silent like that? It’s kinda disturbing y’know?」
「Well, you see, Kou– This might sound strange, but…… currently, Unit 5 actually doesn’t have the Fire of Prometheus function.」
「What do you mean by ‘currently’?」
「Mm. Well, it’s not just Kou and Unit 5. Kurt’s Hrafnagud doesn’t have the Fire of Prometheus function either. We currently don’t know the reason why this is the case. Perhaps we’ll discover it eventually later on. That’s why we can only say that Unit 5 currently seems to not have it.」
『Or perhaps the effects are things that we are unable to analyze.』
「You two are unable to analyze the effects? What’s up with that?」
「Actually, we are unable to verify the effects of the Fire of Prometheus on quite a few machines. We’ve only managed to confirm just one machine that was able to display what can be described as a special effect, but we can definitely say that, so far, the effect is unique to this particular machine.」
「Just what is that special effect?」
『It’s the dimensional escape function.』
「Wait, isn’t that the function you talked about before, Asia?!」
「Yes, it is. As I said before, it’s a function that allows a machine to escape to a higher dimension for just an instant. However, it would be forcibly returned to its dimension of origin no matter what. It can only be used a limited number of times and the effect only lasts for less than a second, but depending on how it’s used, it can have a tremendous effect during combat.」
Kou couldn’t hide his astonishment either.
It really was the function Asia had mentioned to him previously.
「It most likely appeared due to the high compatibility between the machine and the pilot as well as the pilot’s high level of skill. Unless the pilot spends a sufficiently long time with the MCS and overcomes a considerable number of harsh battlefields, that effect likely wouldn’t manifest. Not a chance.」
「That just means the pilot who managed to make an effect like that manifest is also quite amazing.」
『Indeed. And that pilot is actually Jenny.』
Kou was taken aback by the unexpected reveal. However, when he thought about the matter again, he found that the effect really might suit the pilot in question.
「Jenny’s Tachycineta was specifically designed and built for her by Kelly after all.」
The Tachycineta was a Silhouette that was made by Kelly for Jenny at Kou’s behest.
And the MCS that was installed in Jenny’s personal machine came directly from her former partner, the Pheasant.
「We also found that if a spaceship makes use of the Fire of Prometheus function, it would also be able to perform a dimensional escape. However, the conditions for activation make it very difficult to make use of in ships.」
「Yeah, I get that. You’d need to lock onto an opponent’s MCS or Whis reactor and then bring them down within a set time limit. I don’t think we’d have much chances to use it in a starship.」
「Indeed. And it greatly surprised us that ships were actually able to attain an effect that was available to Silhouettes as well. It’s a function that didn’t exist even during the Interplanetary War era.」
It was a newly released function of the Fennel OS. It was definitely the work of Prometheus.
It was a function that even Asia and Astraea didn’t know about.
『Most of the spaceship designs were the work of my main body. To think they were all installed with a function that’s available in a Silhouette’s Fennel OS just like that. As expected, Prometheus really cannot be underestimated.』
Astraea muttered while displaying an annoyed expression on her face.
「If we were able to investigate the Silhouettes belonging to the Mercenary Association as well, we might have been able to find out even more details compared to now. Unfortunately, I currently have no authority to access those.」
「Really? You actually aren’t authorized, Asia? Why, though?」
Kou found it incredulous that Asia, the planet’s maintenance and preservation AI herself, wasn’t able to access the Mercenary Association Silhouette’s data.
「That’s because the Mercenary Association is an organization that works directly for Okeanos. Basically, they are under a completely different command chain. I still do retain a certain degree of authority over them though.」
Kou went silent for a while.
However, he reminded himself not to jump to any hasty decisions and mulled things over carefully.
Asia and Astraea simply watched over him in silence.
「I’m thinking of telling Ulysses the details regarding the Fire of Prometheus. This matter also relates to how we interact with Silhouettes from now on. Other than lifting the limiter, it wouldn’t arbitrarily activate, right?」
『That’s correct. It will not exceed the performance limit arbitrarily, and there are no means to manually release and control the abilities related to the structural limit as well.』
「Alright, I understand. But the matter about the structural limit sure is troublesome. There’s no doubt that it’ll affect the future designs and construction of new models moving forward.」
Kou was well aware of the importance of structural strength and integrity through his experiences in performing bricolage projects.
Going forward, they’d need to consider making designs that would prevent or at least minimize the chances of the Fire of Prometheus activating, or perhaps create designs that wouldn’t easily break down if the function does indeed end up activating. They would have to consider and explore various new directions and ideas in order to do so.
「Oh, and one more thing. I’d like to request something from you, Asia.」
「Please go ahead and tell me, Kou! As long as it’s something I can do, I’ll definitely do it!」
Kou didn’t ask any particularly complicated demands of Asia. He simply asked for her cooperation.
It was a request from Kou. As long as she could do it, Asia intended to fully cooperate.
「Is it possible for you to erase my registration data from the Mercenary Association’s database?」
「Sure, I can do that. Is it because your distrust of the Mercenary Association has grown?」
「Perhaps that’s it. After all, I found out that the Mercenary Association heavily restricted any attempts at intervention coming from you, Asia. But the AIs were designed and created for the express purpose of helping and supporting humanity, right?」
「It’s an organization that imposes restrictions even on the AI that maintains and manages this planet. In other words, they are an organization that wouldn’t think twice about telling the AI to stop meddling beyond a certain point and simply keep supporting humanity silently.」
「I really can’t refute that.」
「If that’s really the case, then this matter is settled. Please erase my registration data completely.」
「Understood. I’m going to completely expunge your ID registration. Are you planning on becoming an Outis in the truest sense, Kou?」
Basically, all of Planet Asia’s inhabitants were registered in the Mercenary Association’s database. That goes for ordinary civilians as well, and not just mercenaries.
The Mercenary Association was a purportedly neutral global organization that has the authority to manage the matters on Planet Asia.
Kou, who wanted his ID deleted, would end up being unable to receive public support and rewards, and he would also no longer be able to formally apply for admission to human settlements through the Mercenary Association.
However, the current Kou was able to get Asia’s approval anytime he wanted anyway. Hence, the benefits of remaining registered in the Mercenary Association already weren’t so appealing to him.
「That might not be so bad after all, actually.」
Kou remembered that he didn’t have an ID when he first arrived in Planet Asia as well.
「You should be just fine, Kou. You’ve already made huge profits just from the developments right of the Silhouette Base after all.」
『And when it comes to food and daily necessities, you have me, the Familiars, and the Therianthropes to provide for you, so there’s no need to worry about those.』
「Please don’t just leave me out!」
「It’s all thanks to everyone. If not for you all, I wouldn’t be able to come to such a decision.」
Kou thought his own affairs were simply trivial. He was no longer interested in the schemes of the Mercenary Association or anything like that.
His current interest lay in the Fire of Prometheus.
Hyoue had already heard of the matter to an extent, and it would be shared with Ulysses as well, so it would only be a matter of time before knowledge about it spreads even further.
After all, it was greatly related to the structural design of Silhouettes. He’d have to find an appropriate time to officially announce the details regarding it.
Kou once again found himself with quite a headache-inducing matter.