One Night’s Indiscretion
Unit 5 rapidly flew through the forest.
There were no pursuers chasing it from behind.
The Assault Silhouette squadron, which was made up of Lanius-type machines, was waiting for Unit 5 at the rendezvous point.
「Barry! I’m glad I made it in time! You’re a commander, so what are you doing here on the front line? Don’t be so reckless, please.」
「Hey, that’s my line! That was a really reckless tactic you performed back there. Aiming straight for the enemy commander like that is just plain crazy.」
Barry jokingly retorted to Kou’s concerned words.
In fact, Barry was one of the few who first witnessed Kou going up against a fellow human back then.
「That was indeed reckless, Kou-kun. Even Shuuji-san would have been exasperated.」
「Eh? N-No way. That voice…… Is that you, Yuzuki-san……?」
Kou was at a loss for words. The voice he heard from the comm was from a familiar acquaintance.
It was Chiba Yuzuki, who Shuuji first introduced to him. He even received pointers on swordsmanship from her for a time. She was his best friend Shuuji’s girlfriend. Kou treated her like his older sister and a relentless teacher when it came to swordsmanship.
「Commander Barry, I’m pleased to finally meet you. I’m Kawakage, captain of the TAKABA elite squadron. I also serve as TAKABA’s current company president.」
「I’m pleased to meet you as well, President Kawakage. We’ve been really indebted to Hyoue-san.」
As Barry and Kawakage exchanged greetings, an awkward silence hung over Kou and Yuzuki.
「So, you really became the pilot of Unit 5. I’ve heard it from the president.」
「Umm, err…… I’m sorry……」
Unit 5 was possibly of special significance to Yuzuki. With that in mind, Kou was overcome with a feeling of regret.
「Why are you apologizing? Honestly, I’m glad it’s you. Really…… But we’re in the middle of a battle right now. So, let’s quickly defeat that giant tank. Because you’re ten years late in coming here, I’m already around 30.」
「Ugh…… I’m sorry. Yes, let’s go and defeat that giant tank first.」
If Kou wasn’t remembering wrongly, Shuuji was 25 years old and Yuzuki was 23 back when they were on Earth. Since there was a ten-year difference between his transfer to Asia and theirs, Yuzuki was now already in her early 30s.
Ten years late. Such casual-sounding words made Kou realize the relentlessness of the passage of time, and he felt even more sorry.
Yuzuki noticed Kou’s expression and proceeded to scold him.
「Since you’re now the pilot of Unit 5, pull yourself together! Once things settle down, I’ll make sure to train you up to shape again.」
It was no time for Kou to be reminiscing on the battlefield. However, he couldn’t help but think back to the past. It was really quite nostalgic.
He decided to shake off such sentiments and focus on the battle.
「Landstrom, a Finnish transferee company, also came to support us. With these forces, we have a good chance of succeeding.」
「There were no pursuers who came after me either.」
「That’s probably thanks to BAS. They performed a diversionary attack using the new panjandrums. I’m surprised you didn’t know.」
「Eh? New panjandrums?」
「They apparently crossed the continent. I heard you were one of the biggest contributors to their design.」
「They crossed the continent……? Ah! Don’t tell me they fielded the Melos? H-Hold on. We only started talking about the design of that thing yesterday night! And it was over drinks!」
Kou’s face quickly turned pale. He already had an inkling of what exactly happened.
「What gave you the idea of making them transcontinental?」
「Uh, I watched a quiz show rebroadcast in the past, and……」
「I’m not sure how a quiz show is related to you coming up with such a crazy transcontinental weapon, but it looks like you do have an idea about those panjandrums huh?」
「Well, we got really drunk last night and…… Hold on a bit.」
Kou was really surprised when he heard that the Transcontinental Panjandrum Melos had actually been built.
After the meeting with Asia ended, the attending Development Engineers had a great time bouncing ideas off one another.
Eventually, the matter of Abel and his panjandrums became the center of the discussion.
It all started when Hyoue joined in just as they were discussing the feasibility of the concept of a transcontinental panjandrum.
The panjandrum was given a reinforced underbody suspension and the P-MAX function by Kou.
A self-propelled explosive charge that self-destructs when close to being destroyed and was equipped with a Fury function. The Melos was completed by giving it the capability to reach its target as quickly as possible by achieving supersonic speed on the ground.
Even without Astraea’s help in order to calculate the precise structural strength requirements for such a feat, everything was handled by Asia instead.
That was the end of the discussion with Abel, and Hyoue and Kou moved on to discuss plans to further strengthen the Lanius and Accipiter.
Abel did look quite satisfied after that, but Kou didn’t expect he would actually be transferred to Fortress Area R001 in order to supervise the production line there.
「Aki’s expression looked really hollow when she told me the news y’know?」
「Even Astraea looked pretty exasperated, Boss.」
「We’re gonna give you another round of lectures later, so be prepared.」
「N-No! It wasn’t my fault!」
Kou felt that everyone was placing the blame on him.
Rick’s eyes displayed on the transmission window weren’t smiling in the slightest.
「I’m sorry, Kou. We– We ended up doing it in one night. A night’s indiscretion is pretty scary, isn’t it……?」
Asia barged in on the transmission. She teasingly stuck her tongue out while delivering an insincere apology.
The next moment, it was Aki who appeared on the screen. Veins were popping up on her forehead.
「So…… you made it in one night…… with Hyoue-san’s approval…… together with that person (Abel).」
Aki cut in merely to say those lines. She immediately dropped the transmission. She didn’t even give Kou time to apologize.
For Kou, it sounded like he was suddenly caught cheating and he was about to die from embarrassment as a result.
「Kou, just in case, you actually made a panjandrum, right?」
「What else did I make then!?」
「Well, you can’t blame me. That sounded pretty suspicious y’know?」
Barry inquired with a straight face while Jenny grinned in amusement.
「L-Let’s put that aside for now. What’s our next move, Barry?」
「Your voice is shaking, Kou. Anyway, we have no other choice but to hit that tank with the thing it’s a poor match against – infantry. In other words, we need to attack it with Silhouettes.」
「That’s not much of a plan at all!」
「We need to take advantage of that weakness. It’s impromptu, but we do have a rapid strike force ready.」
「Rapid strike force?」
「It’s a highly mobile squadron composed of our motorbike-riding Silhouettes and Quattros. It’s a combination of both high mobility and close-range firepower.」
「Silhouettes driving bikes? Wait, what are you talking about, Barry?」
Barry’s Lanius silently pointed to the top of a hill.
Motorbikes jumped out one after another from the top of the hill and started advancing. At the lead were two Accipiters, followed by Lanius B-types. It was a distinctive formation uniformly colored in blue.
Following them was a squad of Quattro Silhouettes. At the lead was Palm’s Epona.
Kou was stunned. He had never heard of a Silhouette-use motorbike able to be driven by the Silhouettes themselves.
「Kou-sama, let’s talk about the details later. We’re going ahead!」
「You’re gonna get left behind, Kou-sama!」
「President? Even Yuzuki-san. Hey, guys! Please don’t call me Kou-sama! Hey, Palm?!」
Kawakage and Yuzuki called out to Kou teasingly. They were piloting the two Accipiters in the lead. Kou’s face turned red with embarrassment.
Palm responded without a change in his expression.
「Let’s go, Big Boss!」
Now, Kou suffered from the embarrassment of being called Big Boss.
This was the first time he had suffered from so much embarrassment. Kou swore that he had to issue a strong protest about it later.
「We first need to destroy that giant tank’s legs! We can deal with the main body later once it’s rendered immobile!」
The rapid strike force rushed out on Barry’s orders.
Everyone weaved through the gaps in the formation of Eber-2s.
Kou was reminded of motorbikes pushing through a highway traffic jam.
「Silhouettes driving bikes huh? They sure came up with something amazing.」
「So, you finally got a taste of what we always felt whenever you pulled out something crazy, Kou!」
「Barry! I didn’t really make anything too outrageous!」
「It’s kinda scary that you’re totally oblivious to it……」
As they bantered back and forth, the two Lanius Cs also arrived at the scene.
「This land cruiser has two types of movement options: its legs and its tank treads. However, we can definitely cut those legs down with our arc blades, right?」
「Ah! Yeah, it should work. Compared to the Ate, this thing’s armor is like paper.」
「The Ate isn’t really a fair comparison…… Anyway, even an amateur sword user like me should be able to pull it off. I’m counting on you, Kou!」
Unit 5 slipped through the anti-aircraft fire and reached one of the Gespenst land cruiser’s right legs.
It then drew its katana and slashed the leg right off.
The Gespenst’s movement speed slowed down as it suddenly lost balance.
Barry’s Lanius C-type swung its own arc blade with both hands against one of the giant tank’s left legs.
It succeeded in almost cutting the leg in two, with just a sliver of armor holding it together. It eventually failed to support the Gespenst’s weight and completely broke off a few moments later.
The Quattro Silhouettes and the TAKABA elite squadron also destroyed the rest of the legs using their own methods.
They were also supported by allies in the air. Buzzards from BAS launched an air raid. Landstrom’s Einherjar also arrived to reinforce them.
「Reinforcements are here. Let’s do this!」
The rapid strike force proceeded to attack the downed land cruiser directly while suffering minor damage.
The scene of Unit 5 quickly dispatching enemy Silhouettes and tanks one after another with terrifying momentum eventually became the stuff of legends among the ranks of both friend and foe.