Chapter 1: Fallen Witch
The preliminary memo from the Sergeant of the City Police was still completely blank.
The psychiatrist, Martha Witt, was wearing glasses and directed her eyes to the documents again.
The Patient’s name. The outward characteristics. Approximate age. Health condition. The circumstances during the care of the police.
They were in a hospital in the south of San Francisco. The patient sitting opposite of Dr. Martha, who was sitting at a desk, looked over with blank eyes.
The person was a girl in about her mid teens. Upon looking, you wouldn’t know if she was in her 30’s or 40’s. The loose T-shirt she was wearing must have come from someone in the police. She had disordered ash-blonde hair not quite reaching her waist, and her jaw and cheeks were dirty with mud.
First the doctor addressed girl she was examining, telling her to answer all the questions clearly. Martha informed the girl of her own name and position, in the gentlest voice possible.
“What is your name?” Martha asked kindly.
“Teletha… Testarossa” the girl answered.
“What a wonderful name. Nice to meet you, Teletha. How old are you?”
“What school do you go to?”
“...I don’t attend school”
“Is that so? But looking at you, I’m sure all the boys find you sexy, right?”
The vacant eyes of a girl with chapped lips and waxen skin stared blankly at a point on the desk. “What’s your name?” “Teletha… Testarossa.”
The girl did not show any reaction. Being ashamed of her own appearance, she did not even see the sexual suggestion in the word “boys”.
“And then....about the situation of your care. You were walking barefoot by the freeway near Redwood, right? At three in the morning, alone”
“Is there something you don’t remember?”
The response was relatively clear.
But the problem was that her explanation was entirely different.
“Why were you there?”
“....because I was abandoned.”
“....I think my subordinates.”
Martha carefully examined the appearance of Teletha Testarossa. Obviously she was telling some kind of joke.
“Umm.... you’re not attending school right? Those ‘subordinates’, who are you referring to?”
“....Mercenaries of Mithril.”
“An informal military organization who aimed to keep terrorism and conflict in check. I was the commander of the Tuatha de Danaan squad of the West Pacific Fleet.”
Teletha stared at the top of the desk, looking as though what she had just said was not important.
“....My rank is Captain. I have succeeded in various difficult operations making use of an assault landing submarine, 3rd Generation Arm Slaves and the latest equipment.”
“Haha. I’m not really familiar with those, but it seems like an amazing unit.”
After saying that, Martha scribbled on the memo in her hand.
[Extremely rare kind of delusion. Using accurate expertise of terminology. Battle Group, Amphibians. Requires examination]
Since she was not familiar with military terminology, she changed her questions.
“You just said Tuatha de Danaan right? Is it from Celt mythology?”
“...yes. From the divine being Dana.”
“Being the commander, could you be the mother goddess?”
“....Dana is the name of the submarine’s AI. It is a complicated system that is extraordinarily large scale adopting quantum computing.”
“Is that so?”
Martha wrote in her Memo [From which sci-fi novel?] and then asked, “And then....you being the commander of that military organization, why were you walking in a place like that? You mentioned you were abandoned by your subordinates”
Teletha kept silent for a moment.
The examination room was gloomy. The fluorescent lamp on the ceiling flickered, and the damp atmosphere of the night became heavy.
“....my base received heavy offensive from the enemy.”
“....an organization called Amalgam. After receiving their overwhelming attack, Mithril was annihilated. Together with my subordinates, I escaped from the base with the submarine, somehow able to survive...”
There was an unavoidable strong suffering in the girl’s eyes. She must have thought of a painful event. She wrapped her arms around her shoulders and trembled, shaking bit by bit.
“Are you alright? You don’t have to say what’s painful.”
Teletha made a gulp, and let out a small sigh.
“....the submarine was made from the finest materials. Although it could run on the bottom of the ocean for a number of weeks, my ship was not in a condition to cruise. Of course we didn’t have the funds. And the salary to pay my subordinates.”
“...for a submarine at sea, the crew can place you under a lot of stress. Half of my crew were starting to get discontented, and finally, they sold me and my ship to the enemy.
“....the one who planned the mutiny was executed.” Teletha said without any special importance.
“He was killed?”
“Yes.” the girl said with a weak voice.
With that she shut her mouth, and did not answer any more questions from Martha.
♦ ♦ ♦
A week had passed since the first interview.
Two times every day, Martha interviewed the girl called Teletha Testarossa, hearing a little of the “details”. She didn’t have
the confidence of building doctor patient trust. Even then, Teletha was alone in the care of the police and spoke of her circumstances in fragments.
--The girl was a commissioned officer of an informal military organization, and handled the various anti-terrorism operations easily. That organization was attacked by the enemy, and her subordinates were isolated. She had been mutinied on by unsatisfied soldiers and had been unable to resupply. Then, the “Assault landing submarine” that she commanded got involved in a fatal accident and would not function.
Embarking from the ship to a helicopter, the girl escaped from the sinking ship by griping a subordinate, that helicopter ran out of fuel on the California coast and was discarded in the open sea.
By the time the lifeboat reached the coast of Half Moon port, merely five subordinates remained.
At this point, the subordinates got angry at Teletha, who tried to give orders like a superior officer, and threw her off at the road side from a stolen car.
And then, while walking absentmindedly, a truck driver discovered her and placed her in the care of the police--
Those kinds of delusions had never been heard by Martha.
Mercenary unit, submarine, and a descent from a helicopter were exceedingly preposterous; at least her story was consistent from the time that she was taken in.
In all honesty, when she had read the initial reports, Martha had concluded that she was a victim of assault.
But that was not it.
From the clinical charts that she was handed in the emergency room it seemed there was absolutely no evidence that
the girl named Teletha Testarossa was raped or oppressed. What seemed like an external wound was just a small scratch that came from walking through a thicket somewhere.
There was no contradiction in the context, she used extremely accurate military terms. Even the “informal military organization”. Her words were by no means incoherent. Martha had an acquaintance that was a former navy officer, and called him to make confirmations.
“I don’t really know well. But a helicopter taking off a submarine?”
After asking, the officer laughed and denied it.
“No. long ago planes took off from a submarine. Now there’s none. It has to be a big ship to make up the space, firstly there is no practical use. Well, the girl must be daydreaming.”
“But she was saying something about a special ship. Assault.....Loading submarine, or something like that.”
“Haha. That’s amazing.”
“ Something they call the ‘Toy Box’ in the United States Navy…”
“....what did you say?”
Her friend, whose voice had been playful up until then because Martha hadn’t called in a while, suddenly became serious.
“‘Toy Box’. that’s what they called it.”
“Where did you hear that from?”
“From that patient. Do you know about it?”
“I... don’t know.”
Not knowing what to do after hearing this, that friend said in a serious voice, “No. It was a rumor I heard from a friend who is still in active duty. There’s nothing more known after that.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Listen Martha. I don’t know the details but, I think it will be better if you drop the charges on that patient. Also her words, everything that she said, you did not hear. Get back to what you were talking about.”
“I don’t understand. Why the sudden-”
“Sorry, I have to work. I’ll call you again.”
The former Navy friend hung up.
It was increasingly getting strange.
It was impossible that what the girl said was really a military secret. Just to make sure she searched the net using the keywords “Toy Box” and “submarine”, but nothing came up. Just a site created by Toy Mania introducing a new toy submarine.
The next day, Martha relayed the conversation she had had with her former Navy friend to Teletha.
“Well, isn’t that right....” the girl said with a frail voice. “...an existing weapon system that the American Navy could not detect, it definitely cannot be officially announced. Among the soldiers, it should have only been rumors.”
Getting irritated, Martha asked, “If it’s important classified information, why did you tell an ordinary doctor like me?”
“Because the information is no longer significant.”
The girl laughed with a touch of snorting.
“This is the reality. I was an incompetent commander. That’s why my subordinates deserted me, and I’m currently here. Losing everything, only living an existence without death.”
“Doctor Witt. You think of me as a pitiful girl who has delusions right?”
“It’s alright. Please leave it at that. Actually, I’m just a shell....”
Teletha slowly lied face down. Her disordered hair hung on her cheeks. The melancholic fluorescent lights made an abnormal shadow fall over her the features.
“It’s a delicate matter but,” waiting a little while, Martha opened her mouth. “You will be moved to a different institution. You will live with people who have the same problems.”
The girl couldn’t be kept in that hospital for long. A minor with no clear background, and no money, couldn’t get any social insurance. She had to be housed in a special institution on the outskirts of the city.
“....yes. Do as you like” Teletha said without showing unexpected behavior.
That was what Martha really felt in her heart.
No matter how absurd, her wild ideas had this persuasive charm of truthiness.
No matter how many times she heard from other patients that invaders from other planets or from the depths of the earth were among us, or that the government had planted a transmission device in their mind, Martha could not feel the logic behind such claims. Those stories were too unrealistic. But this patient, a minor, was able to logically explain the finer points of nuclear and amphibious warfare that were only known by specialists. She had never encountered anything like this girl before.
“The transfer is tomorrow evening. I will also be present at that time.”
“Yes” Teletha said with an indifferent voice.
♦ ♦ ♦
The next day, the transfer vehicle arrived 5 minutes late at the hospital.
It was a black wagon. Rolling out a wheelchair, the driver and helper greeted Martha simply. They were unknown faces. But there was nothing strange in their ID or transfer documents.
Teletha, who was completely exhausted, rode in the wheelchair.
“She complained of a headache this morning, the doctor on duty instructed us to give this medicine to her” the nurse explained to Martha.
“Did she get violent?” asked the driver.
“No. She’s quite obedient.” Martha answered in place of the nurse. The driver nodded slightly.
“But, she was temporarily restrained. It was dangerous for her to walk.”
“Don’t worry. It’s not like she will get violent. ...eh, and then? Did this girl say anything strange to you?”
“Strange? Strange you mean...that’s my line of work. It would be rare to have a patient that doesn’t say anything strange.”
Feeling uncomfortable with the curious question, Martha answered with an insincere smile.
“Haha. That’s right” the driver said looking around.
Martha and the nurse were at the side entrance of the hospital, near the roadway. No one else but the driver and the helper were around.
“What is it?”
“Perhaps there is some possibility... that the girl said something about Amalgam or Mithril?”
“What was that?” Martha asked in return. Her shoulders and back could not stop shaking uneasily.
“Looks like you know”
The Driver smiled complacently.
At a glance he was an ordinary Caucasian in his 30’s. He wore navy blue pants and a navy blue shirt. Height, around 180 cm, short framed hair, and a small scar.
Right then the man’s features had completely changed. In the eyes of Martha, it was like having a sullen look of coercion.
“Oops. Don’t say strange things.”
The driver seized firmly and Martha’s hand was held tightly behind her back. With only that, her bones snapped and became two equal parts in the incredible grip.
The man, with his open right hand, took out a hidden automatic pistol hidden from under his shirt.
That’s right, it was a pistol. Martha had not touched this type of pistol before, but even then the man showed his gun and said something to her. It was easy to comprehend.
“Do you understand, Doctor?”
“Don’t cause trouble, slowly get on the car. The nurse too.”
The nurse, who is still in shock, saw the man’s pistol and gulped.
“We can’t just leave this lady over here now can we? Come on, get in.”
“Wait, she has nothing to do with this. I don’t know who you people are but-”
“Just get in.”
The man pressed hard, and Martha and the nurse rode in the back seat of the delivery wagon. The helper, who also held a gun,
got in the back. He was in a position where he could easily control Teletha and Martha.
The door closed, and the car started to run. After three road lines, they could see a patrol car stopped in front of a coffee shop. But if she thought of getting violent and calling for help, Martha’s head would have been blown off.
“Don’t be frightened. There are still things we want to ask you. Right, Bill?”
The helper said with a very relaxed voice, the driver replied shortly.
“Yeah. We won’t put you in danger.”
You’re lying. You intend to kill us. Because, why didn’t you put on a mask? Why did you calmly expose your face? Why did you calmly call your partner’s name?
The pale face of the nurse sunk into silence. Martha wanted to encourage her, but didn’t have the composure.
The car shortly reached San Bruno, heading from the city to the harbor. On their way home early, there were a number of private cars and trucks flowing past them one by one in the opposite lane.
They could only have been headed to an old warehouse nearby. There was only a small container and a two blackened sedans. There was no cargo, it was deserted.
From a small window in the setting sun, the dust filled atmosphere reflected a number of bright lines.
Martha and the nurse timidly got out of the car after it stopped inside the abandoned warehouse.
Waiting in front of the car were five more men. The leader must have been the one wearing the brown suit. The other four
were dressed up in rough work clothes, with automatic guns hanging from their shoulders.
“You’re five minutes late.” the man in the suit said, looking at the watch in his left hand with refinement.
He was still young. Around his thirties. Slim, with cleanly combed black hair. He was like a being drawn from a brush, an impressive beautiful youth with graceful eyes and brows.
“Were sorry, Mister. We didn’t want to get caught speeding-” the driver said with a restrained voice.
“Stop saying nonsense. And then? Did you bring her?” the man in the suit asked.
The helper lowered the wheelchair from the wagon, bringing Teletha Testarossa in front of them. The drugs were wearing off, and Teletha opened her eyes.
But, that was all.
Being indifferent to her surroundings, she only looked absentmindedly in her front.
The man in the suit kneeled by the wheelchair, peering into the girl’s face.
“I am Lee Fowler. I serve your brother. Once, we met at your parent’s grave. ...then, I was inside an AS.”
“When we heard of what happened to you, we came to pick you up. After this, what would you....”
Even after he said that Teletha still didn’t make any responses. The young man named Fowler stood up and sighed.
“Just a shell. Being the Witch of Mithril you are making us use a harsh hand.”
“I don’t see it that way.”
“But that is withering away. It is much more difficult to magnificently fall in the middle of battle. The legend is over. The problems in communication and personnel relations lost their teeth in such worthless reasons, disappearing miserably is the hero of reality.”
Fowler wearily fell silent, and continued to walk in front of Martha.
“Forgive me, Doctor. Were you treated violently?
“What did this girl tell you, there is a need to confirm. Please allow me two to three questions.”
The fear of course did not disappear. Martha, towards those silent black eyes, had a feeling like she was being sucked in.
“Amalgam and Mithril, the name of such organizations, did you hear of them making use of such weapons and units?”
“Did she bring up any definite names or places?”
“You’re not lying right?”
“Aside from your Navy friend, did you mention to anyone else what this girl had said?”
How did you know that I consulted with a friend? Did you intercept it? Are you a real pro, a real classified organization’s spy?
Martha was surprised; her remaining doubt had been smashed and disappeared. She felt it clearly. This was not some sort of elaborate joke brought about by someone- that is what her heart had been wishing for. For this man to suddenly say “Happy Birthday, Martha!” and, with laughing friends, take out armfuls of
tables and food and alcohol and cake. She had silently held on to this type of expectation.
But it was not so. At any rate, her birthday had been last month.
“She didn’t say anything. It’s the truth.”
Fowler observed her eyes closely. She felt as though she were receiving the treatment of a patient.
“I believe you.”
Fowler smiled at first.
“But, regrettable words have to be said to you. As much as possible we would like to keep our privacy. What happened today and about her should be protected... from the public. Do you understand?”
“I understand. I swear I won’t tell anyone. So let me go back home.”
“I would also want that if I could. But, no matter how strong the determination of man, there is a way for current medical science to extract the needed information. Those are the ‘regrettable words’. I’m really sorry.”
She got goose bumps, and her shoulders and feet were sweating and shaking.
I don’t want to die.
I don’t want to be killed.
“Do you understand why I am explaining this to you?”
“Don’t kill me.”
“I’m also afraid of death. But, the worst of that is that you would die not knowing the reason. That is why I am explaining this to you. With important words, the fear of your opponent is not fun.”
In Fowler’s well-regarded features, a deep emotion of sorrow and compassion surfaced.
“Please don’t kill me.”
“It is really unfortunate.”
“Please I beg you....”
“This is goodbye, Doctor.”
Fowler stepped back. The subordinates took one step forward. Tears were in her eyes. In the corner of her field of vision was the profile of the nurse, who was completely silent. Her face had become pale, but she was very quiet, and not even shaking. What bravery. Or was it simply stupidity? Did she not realize her own fate?
The nurse was still young. Around her mid twenties. An oriental. A very short hair, with eyes and brows like that of a fishing cat.
That nurse let out a sigh, and murmured in a passive voice, “Oh well. What an extreme drama this played out to be.”
The voice mixed in with a snort.
“Just when we thought that we caught the tail. ....again, another conceited bastard showed up.”
“Ah, you- stop-” Martha tried to warn her.
Wasn’t it strange? But Martha’s thin voice was ignored by the nurse, who said, “Isn’t that right? Tessa!?”
The eyes of Teletha Testarossa, who had been like a disabled person sitting in a chair, suddenly focused- returning with the light of consciousness. Even her face, that had looked worn out, revived with vitality and intelligence. It was like a doll coming to life.
“I’m sorry Melissa. The one who was playing a drama was me.”
After muttering that, Teletha laboriously stood up from the wheelchair.
The armed men in the area were disturbed by the sudden change in the girl. She carelessly extended her hands out and brushed back her hair. The girl then headed toward Fowler to greet him.
“Good afternoon, Fowler-san. I really intended to introduce myself but, dealing with the doctor here, this has happened.”
“I see. You were after me.”
As expected of a commander, he was frankly not surprised.
But Fowler’s facial expression was by no means relaxed. The extent of Teletha’s trap here, this place becoming a fighting scene, the chances of them winning, he carefully calculated many elements inside his head.
“Then please tell your men to drop their weapons. Or else they will be given a severe lesson.”
Then the subordinate who had been holding Martha, the driver, gave a short curse and headed for Teletha.
“Lesson? Enough with the jokes, little girl!”
Immediately after saying the short word, Fowler narrowed his eyes-
The driver, who had his hand extended to the nape of Teletha’s neck, fell down on the floor with a bullet. He had been shot in the back. With a loud thud, fresh blood scattered onto the floor.
The sound of the gunshot came from a rifle far away. A snipe from an extreme distance. And it had come through the small opening of the warehouse door-
“Great job, right in the middle.” the nurse called Melissa said into an extremely compact wireless radio in her ear. “If they make any strange moves take a shot immediately!”
“...Yeah yeah. Uruz 6, Roger!”
From the receiver of the wireless radio, Martha also heard the reply of a man mixed with the noise. Nearby, Teletha warned them again.
“Do you understand? Please disarm.”
Even though his subordinates could be shot to death, Fowler maintained a smile from his heart.
“Really wonderful. A large intelligence analysis. Shadow and interception. After surrendering to the guards you slipped through everything, and made it up to here. You even did a wonderful acting job in front of me. Moreover it was a daring move, capturing me alive? You are his sister after all. The legend still continues....!”
“That is a terrible misunderstanding. Not even once do I remember raising the white flag to you.” Teletha said with a dreadful smile.
In those eyes burned the silent anger of revenge, releasing a blazing and violent light. It was unexpected. Such strong life force was expressed from that small, sweet, and delicate body. It was the first time that Martha had experienced it.
“That’s how it is. That is why, you are still naive-!”
Fowler’s right hand indistinctly moved. Folding the palm of his hand, he pushed a small switch. In that instant, explosions occurred all over the warehouse.
A flash followed. They were deafened by the sounds of the explosion, and black smoke spread all around. Although it was not lethal, the bomb aimed to deceive the eyes.
Understanding what was about to happen, Teletha immediately rushed over to Martha, who was still standing still, and pushed her down for cover.
“Don’t worry. My subordinates will do something.”
Martha looked over at the nurse named Melissa. With lightning speed she had taken down a nearby man. Martha couldn’t even see how he had been taken down. Then, the man who had been next to him was shot with deadly accuracy.
Gunshots. Screams. Curses.
The automatic guns of the men resounded. Being attacked by an unseen sniper, the men fell down one by one.
Fowler tried to leave, and fired at Melissa, but Melissa flew sideways, evading the enemy shot, and hid in the shadows of the abandoned car.
Apparently the nurse and the sniper were not Teletha’s only companions. There were more explosions all around as a number of men wearing bulletproof vests on top of civilian clothing rushed into the warehouse.
“Give it up, you delicate man” Melissa shouted.
“Give up?” Fowler replied from behind the sedan. “The feeling is mutual; there are still some trump cards left. Don’t restrain yourself from trying to put an end to this.”
Together with his declaration-
The ceiling of the warehouse was torn to pieces, where a single giant appeared.
There was a fierce thundering roar. Dust and smoke swirled about and the fragments of the building materials were scattered about to one side. Martha, witnessing the events in bewilderment, was still being covered by Teletha who was supposed to be the patient.
When she looked up she saw that the ashen grey giant was kneeling down. It had acutely streamlined armor and extending from the head was a long, hair-like radiation cord.
It was an Arm Slave.
A humanoid weapon of the Military. At least she knew the name of that weapon. A living infantry could in no way go up against that powerful humanoid weapon. Even just from watching the news on CNN she could tell that this was by no means just the silhouette of a robot. It was much smarter, and seemed to have fierce reflexes and power.
Fowler did not even have the appearance of triumph. He got down into the rear of the AS. Melissa and the reinforcements hid in the shadows without pursuing, allowing him to escape.
“I thought so” Teletha muttered.
She now allowed a smile. This time, with a self derided sensation, it was not a halfhearted smile.
“Wha, what is the meaning of this....?”
“Don’t move” Teletha whispered to Martha, raising her voice.
“It’s like this, Uruz 1. Please annihilate the enemy AS!”
A voice resounded from a speaker somewhere.
The sound of the roof being torn away resounded around them. A new black AS broke through the walls of the warehouse. Without a moment of hesitation it charged to the ashen grey AS.
♦ ♦ ♦
Distorted metal frames. Broken concrete. Smashed pieces of glass from the skylight.
The materials from the warehouse were dancing around the surroundings of the black unit. Belfangan Clouseau’s AS, Falke, cancelled its electronic camouflage, tackling the enemy unit with full force.
First there was a need for Tessa and the others to clear the area.
The engagement of the two units broke through the walls of the warehouse, plunging into the countless containers on the pier. Even then, the enemy unit did not fall.
Clouseau swung the monomolecular cutter in his hand towards the chest of the enemy.
For an accurate surprise attack, it was a good strike that passed the mark. But the enemy unit expected that.
There was a change on the graphical heat distribution display.
The enemy unit’s arm transformed, turning from yellow to orange to red.
Clouseau already saw the gravitational field created by the enemy unit coming.
There was a distorted atmosphere around the enemy’s right arm.
The shockwave of the strike barely passed him by. Around ten containers behind him were blown off the pier, like papers dancing in the air.
The enemy unit started to trip. The enemy unit staggered.
The Falke stepped in front, rushing to make the final blow. Another warning. The enemy unit’s Lambda Driver started attacking with the raging waves of a gravitational field. Clouseau somehow saw through it, and barely leapt to avoid it.
He revolved in mid air on top of the enemy and slammed down his anti tank dagger. In tandem with the plastic explosives he sharply dove towards the neck of the enemy.
There was an explosion. The shape of the enemy disappeared in the middle of the flames and smoke.
Clouseau did not even consider that the enemy had been defeated so easily.
When the Falke landed he immediately flew sideways in a battle maneuver. In a battle of 3rd generation AS, which could reach the limits of three dimensional maneuvering, the moment of landing could be said to be the most vulnerable. There was no room for a breather.
Sure enough, the ashen grey enemy unit broke through the whirlpool of smoke like an arrow, pressing immediately towards him.
The enemy, which was a Codarl type, was equipped with a Lambda Driver. Ordinary attacks would have no effect on it. With the difference in equipment, there was an overwhelming disadvantage.
However, even then-
“Let’s do it” Clouseau muttered in the middle of the fierce crash.
Surely the enemy unit’s power was tremendous. The difference was definitely absolute.
However, what about the skills of the pilot? If the enemy unit had not been equipped with a Lambda Driver, with a battle this long, they would have at least died three times already.
If it was about skills, Clouseau was absolutely superior....!
Clouseau had that confidence. Even though the enemy was not an amateur, his unconscious overconfidence could be seen
everywhere. The enemy relied on his own dominance, and the arrogance in his straight movement was already evidence enough.
It would definitely go into place.
There was the sound of alarm. The enemy suddenly drew closer.
He had the strong impulse to pull the trigger on his head cannons, but he thought it was too early and controlled his reflexes. Using the information from the “fairy eyes” installed in his unit he was able to evade the shockwave from the enemy. Clouseau then called out over his wireless radio.
“Uruz 1 to HQ! Has it been delivered yet!?”
“This is HQ. The launch was already completed.” Replied a man with a gloomy and honest voice. It was Richard Mardukas. “Currently, the TLAM is in the middle of inertia guidance. ETA would be 30 seconds. We entrust the terminal guidance to Uruz 1”
“Uruz 1 roger!”
At the same time, his AI reported.
<Warning message. Code from HQ confirmed. Taking over terminal guidance of TLAM01. 20 seconds until impact.>
“Arm the warhead of TLAM01”
<Roger. TLAM01 warhead armed.>
The weapon data on the display at the corner with the blue letters [SAFE] suddenly changed to the red letters [ARM].
The warhead was armed.
The smart warhead of a cruise missile from somewhere in the sky.
Clouseau’s unit continued to evade, and the Codarl closed in. The light from the setting sun poured over them as it stepped over the mountains of containers. The extending long hair-like heat radiating cord from its head glared in a rainbow of colored brilliance.
“Well, come on....!”
He released an anti AS hand grenade.
The Codarl lightly stepped to the left, enduring the explosion. Behind the enemy unit a large container danced from the sky, spinning around.
The machine gun on the Falke’s head fired.
The Codarl repelled the small rain of bullets with the Lambda Driver. When he judged that there was no more threat to his own armor, the gravitational field disappeared. He then began to focus the power in an attack towards Clouseau.
All in accordance with their plan.
As far as the bullets from the Falke’s machine gun were concerned, the first 50 shots in the magazine were ordinary bullets. From there on, the 51st shot was loaded with acrylic paint bullets.
Those paint bullets rained down on the Codarl’s head. The spraying red paint clung to the enemy unit’s external sensors.
It was a simple tactic to block his vision. In previous model ASes high frequency wiper and cleaning nozzles were equipped. A counter-measure for mud and dirt. Even if it was acrylic paint, it would only take a few seconds to recover its field of vision.
But, they were banking of those few seconds.
In that brief window the enemy unit could not search for its opponent using its Milli-wave radar.
<TLAM01, impact in 10 seconds.>
The unit’s AI informed Clouseau. The surrounding atmosphere shook.
From above, the sounds of a jet engine roared. From the west skies, from the shining light of the twilight sun, something cylindrical was coming towards them.
From the head of the Falke a terminal guidance laser illuminated, and on the chest of the Codarl shined a small red dot.
The fierce explosion from the skies attacked the enemy unit.
The cruise missile flew over with the speed of sound, to the position of the laser- there was an explosion in the shaped charge. Gas formed that was denser than steel, and in an instant the point on the enemy’s armor flared in flames.
The shockwave of the explosion shook the Falke.
Clouseau rose with skill, bracing himself. He spurred into the enemy unit in no time. In the smoke of the explosion, the Codarl still lived. He had expanded the protective wall of the Lambda Driver in no time.
Immediately following the violent attack the enemy’s unit staggered. The Falke’s “fairy eyes” accurately caught sight of the expanding condition of the enemy’s Lambda Driver. Anticipating the final blow, the enemy’s barrier expanded.
However, it was only in the front.
Clouseau slipped through to the right of the enemy and, in an agile movement with the monomolecular cutter, cut at the right abdomen. This was the where the report from the technical officer had theorized the module for the Lambda Driver was located.
A tough spot to get to.
The Codarl turned around and initiated its gravitational field, but it just flickered a few times then disappeared. The Lambda Driver of the enemy was powerless.
The unexpected damaged disturbed the enemy unit and it simply stood in shock. The ironclad regulation regarding 3rd generation AS battle was to move agilely and mercilessly-
Clouseau threw his last anti tank dagger towards the enemy unit. The dagger hit the chest of the Codarl and exploded. That time, the upper half of the enemy unit was in pieces.
The torn off arm rotated, drawing a strange arch in the dusk of the harbor.
Turning from the scattered fragments of the enemy unit, Clouseau immediately activated the enemy search mode. Scanning with the anti ECS sensor, he was preparing for a new enemy to appear.
This was the first time gaining that kind of certainty, and he sighed a breath of relief. It seemed that the enemy had only prepared one unit.
In order to support the operation conducted with Tessa as bait, his unit had been on standby. In addition, standing by in the bay of San Francisco was the submarine Tuatha de Danaan. It had been ready to fire cruise missiles. Also, they had prepared the paint bullets for the machine gun in his unit’s head.
In the worst case scenario, the enemy would have also prepared an AS, and the possibility that it would be equipped with a Lambda Driver had not discarded.
It was better to be prepared after all. Thinking like that, Clouseau called over his wireless radio.
“Uruz 1 to all units. The Codarl type enemy AS is destroyed.”
♦ ♦ ♦
After the confrontation of the two units, Falke and Codarl, the aftermath of the battle could be seen all round the area encompassing the warehouse.
The warehouse had been half destroyed, the parked car had been trampled, and a number of enemy corpses were rolled in. On top of the mountain of rubble the fire was already contained and only the dense white smoke hung overhead.
“Tessa. Ben defeated the enemy unit.” The nurse, Melissa Mao, said to Tessa. Enemy’s machine gun in hand, she had heard the news over the wireless radio. “There don’t seem to be any more enemy units around. It was a one on one with the M9, it’s the first time that we defeated a Codarl. It’s impressive.”
“Yes.” Tessa Testarossa replied shortly, still covering the psychiatrist Martha Witt.
Without pardon, they made a thorough search of the destroyed warehouse. The PRT, without letting their guard off, continued to observe the controlled area, and then ascertained that there were no injuries.
Tessa cut the button at the back of her worn patient’s over suit and it fell from her small shoulders. Quickly checking her body she assessed that there were only minor injuries. No problem.
“The target got away, right?”
Tessa glanced sideways; she was looking for Lee Fowler, knowing that it would be useless.
“We lost sight of him when the ceiling collapsed. We’re sorry” Mao said.
Tessa shook her hands lightly.
“It’s alright. It was a greeting operation anyway. In the point of involving civilians, we half failed.
“The female doctor over there, I’ve thought of getting her far away.... I didn’t think this through enough after all. Oh well.”
Mao shrugged her shoulders and returned silently to the secured area of the warehouse. There was an out of place electronic sound.
It was a high pitched monotonous alarm.
Tessa walked over, barefooted, towards the sound. From the scattered concrete on the ground, there was a black mobile phone.
She picked up the phone, and pressed the answer button.
“Fowler-san right?” Tessa said, with a laugh from the phone.
“Yes, I would have wanted to talk to you a little more. But I have no obligation to be obediently captured. That is why I left this phone.”
Then Fowler had immediately escaped from the area, most probably from a vehicle that had been prepared beforehand, heading somewhere to the town area. Since he already knew about the counter-measures for phone traces there was no possibility of pursuit.
“Fist please let me tell you that it was excellent. Eliminating more than 10 of my subordinates, even destroying an AS. That was your minimum fire power, right? It was my complete defeat.”
“I wonder about that. Right now you are still free.”
“You are quite right.”
“Originally, because we had all the information leading to you, we were hoping to be able to restrain you. Now, even if you were to use that sweet fake smile of yours it wouldn’t stop us from making you rest in peace.”
“What frightening words from such a sweet voice.”
Tessa could easily imagine the faint smile on his face.
“But I do not understand. Are you seriously, going to continue to fight us like this?”
“We didn’t formally say that, right? It was just on our whim that we threw that play.”
“You should already know our strength. Right now Mithril does not exist. And the goal of Amalgam is not to overthrow the world. Rather to add moderate fuel to the state of tension in the world. You no longer have any reason to fight, right?”
“You’re really naive aren’t you?”
Tessa, putting on a face of modest disdain, laughed at him.
“Yes. Did you think that we had planned to fight you with only great cause and sense of justice?”
“It seems like that is not so.”
“You have killed a lot of our comrades. That motive would be enough.” Tessa stated plainly.
In practicality, that was not the only reason she and her subordinates continue to fight, it was true that there was something that they had to do but-
Taken to its logical conclusion, that would be it.
Teletha Testarossa recognized that her subordinates were killed by Amalgam; that would be for eternity.
“That would also be the same here.” Fowler said coldly. “You and your subordinates do not have strong bonds, right? We also suffered sufficient injury. On top of that, I swallowed everything and continued to be courteous toward you. Even then, that’s how you pay us back? I would want to hear your reason for that.”
“I understand your meaning at last.” Tessa said. “With overwhelming power, you extend your hand, saving the weak enemy right? We used to be the ones who thought like that. But
right now it’s different. You said that you wanted to ‘add fuel’, and you play with the lives of many people. We cannot forgive that kind of arrogance.”
“I see. Would it be alright if I interpret that as a form of opposition?”
Fowler’s tease was plainly sharp.
“...Fowler-san. In this case can I tell you clearly?”
Tessa emphasizing word for word carefully, announced.
“Let me put it bluntly-I hate to death FUCKING pieces of SHIT people like you who pretend to be nice. Do you understand that?”
Mao and the other members of the PRT who heard the conversation gapped with their eyes round hearing Tessa use the harsh 4 letter words.
“That is all, Message Boy. Please tell the same thing to Leonard Testarossa.”
Before Fowler could say anything, Tessa cut off the mobile phone, throwing it away casually on the ground.
“Let’s withdraw. Before the local police arrive get the LZ of the Pave Mare...., what’s wrong everyone?”
The dumbfounded Mao and the others glanced at each other, and finally let out a laugh. They felt light from the bottom of their hearts.
“Oh dear, nothing.”
“‘Fucking pieces of Shit’ huh?”
“Indeed, you’ve really got the balls.”
Mao tapped on the shoulders of a dubious faced Tessa.
“I already said it before. I love you, my commander.”
Flying into rage, she was not able to say anything. Mao gave an intense kiss to Tessa’s completely red cheeks.
“A..anyway, let’s withdraw! The local police will be coming here shortly. This is no time for sexual harassment!”
Shaking off Mao’s arm, Tessa gave instructions.
“Yeah yeah, Roger. ....but Tessa. What about that Doctor?”
Mao glanced at Doctor Martha Witt who was beside the iron pole of the warehouse. She had gazed dumbfounded at the exchange.
Tessa, with a sad face, went over to the frightened Martha.
“I’m sorry for having involved you in such a dangerous situation, Doctor Witt” she said in a gentle voice.
“W..what do you intend to do with me?”
“Of course we have no intention of harming you. Anyway let’s get away from here.”
Tessa and the others immediately withdrew from the place of battle, moving a few kilometers by car to the city park.
Clouseau’s AS activated the invisibility mode of its ECS; and, avoiding any obstacles, he followed their car, leaping from building to building and road to road.
On the route, Tessa explained to Martha.
“When Fowler threatened to kill you, in actuality, rather he was threatening me.”
Until they were cleverly lured out this time, the enemy was also wary. Fowler happened to probe Martha, making a speech like that in front of Tessa. Even with Tessa’s own acting, there were still doubts inside her heart.
In fact, Amalgam and Mithril, with simple words and information attached to them, were no longer subjects that would be bothered by leakage. Some government and military officials had already gotten hold of all information of interest regarding those organizations.
The degree of knowledge in Jindai High School in Tokyo was also the same.
After the incident where the Merida base had been attacked, at the time when Tessa’s escaped ship was having resupply problems, the information had already been gathered. Within that information, the fate of transport helicopter and the Arbalest dispatched to Tokyo, and also what happened to Sagara Sousuke and Chidori Kaname was included.
What they understood was-
The transport helicopter Gebo 9 was attacked on the verge of landing. The pilot, Lt. Santos, and the rest of the crew were all killed.
The Arbalest unfolded a fierce battle with Amalgam’s detachment in that school, and at its end there was serious damage. The ruins of the unit were recovered by the Japanese police, and it was immediately taken away by someone.
Chidori Kaname was missing after the battle, her whereabouts were unknown. Most probably, she was kidnapped by Amalgam.
And then Sagara Sousuke-
A few days after the Arbalest was damaged in battle, unexpectedly he had appeared in that school. He met with the students of 2nd year class 4- no, right now they were already 3rd year class 4- and explained the reason why Kaname disappeared. Then he left that place with only the words “I’ll definitely get her back” remaining.
After this, the information was intercepted by all kinds of intelligence agencies.
There was more important information. The whereabouts of the Tuatha de Danaan, the maintenance equipments, and the remaining supplies. In other words, their remaining fighting capabilities. And then Tessa set out to capture information that would lead to Amalgam.
Martha, going along with this, did not know anything important. If she were to tell the Police, FBI, CIA or NSA about what Tessa had told her they would deny the value of such information.
Tessa explained to her in the car that the information that Martha knew was not important.
“Fowler said that in order to test me. In the end, it was to make sure.”
“I really don’t understand, Teletha.”
“Didn’t you examine that there was nothing wrong with me. If I continued that acting, he might really have killed you. That’s why, I stopped acting then and there. In other words-”
“In other words? In other words, what?” Martha asked with an annoyed voice, exhausted with the succession of events.
“You have no information that has value. You will go back to your former way of life. You will not involve yourself with us again, right?”
“That’s right. It’s wonderful isn’t it?”
“I’m sorry Doctor. We were manipulating you. In our initial plan, we expected to put in a more unconcerned doctor for practicality.”
“I see. Because I was a person who jumps in, right? Because of my enthusiasm for work, I was targeted by assassins, I was shut up beautifully by a patient I thought pitiful!”
The woman, who was crying half hysterically, just stared at the calm expression of Tessa.
“We apologize for that. But, that was quite a performance right?”
“Well, that might be.”
The car reached the park.
The streets, with the setting dusk, shimmered in various colors, like a crafted crystal.
With a suggestion from Tessa, she got off. There were still a number of people strolling. Being mindful of that, Tessa’s subordinates got out of the car with small arms in hand. With the sound of the Rotor echoing above, the flowers in the garden swayed from the strong wind.
The unseen helicopter began to land in the park.
Within a few minutes, Teletha Testarossa and her companions vanished from the streets.
With strong winds pushing at her wavy hair, Martha’s voice reached out to Tessa.
“Can I ask you one last question?”
“That depends on the subject. But go ahead.”
“Didn’t you.... feel anything? When you were delivered to the emergency room, taking the humiliating medical examination. Even after coming to me, you didn’t even receive any service treatment. Why did you endure that?”
“A lot of friends died” Tessa said calmly. “Compared to that, it was nothing right?”
“Do you plan to take revenge?”
“I wonder about that…”
“Then, why go that far-”
“I too don’t know very well” Tessa sweetly smiled. “Why is it that from the bottom of my heart an intense fighting spirit is gushing out? Why is this body burning up? Is it because I was thinking of retaliating? To know more about that, I would like you to lend your strength, but unfortunately we don’t have time.”
In the open vicinity of the park the invisible transport helicopter landed.
There was a fierce downward current. The leaves of countless trees and young flowers surrounding Tessa were dancing in a swirl.
In the illumination of the park, the girl’s shimmering silver hair swayed beautifully in the wind. Behind her the landed helicopter cancelled its ECS, and she saw the swelled up shape of the pallid phosphorescence.
“Hey, Tessa!” Kurz Weber called from the opened cargo hatch on the foot.
“Yes, let’s go. Goodbye, Doctor.”
Only saying that, Teletha Testarossa walked to the transport helicopter, disappearing inside the cargo bay. Martha Witt stood still looking over at them. She said nothing.
The men boarded behind Tessa and the helicopter closed the hatch and started to take off.
Before rising above the tallest tree in the park, it activated its ECS again. Its shape vanished. The unit melted into the velvet night where eyes could no longer perceive them.
♦ ♦ ♦
The dining room captured the Neo Gothic design, bringing about the simple modernistic illumination on the skillful design. The window facing southeast took in the fresh sunlight, with the furniture using various colors; it was the perfect place to relax for the one who had arrived there.
Getting a phone call from Lee Fowler, Leonard Testarossa entered the dining room. Still finishing the miscellaneous matters and negotiations from Easter Europe, he had only just returned from a long trip.
“We got busted by your sister.”
Fowler spoke from the phone.
It was already evening in San Francisco, but that place was at a latitude where the burning golden eastern sun still shone, illuminating the room.
“Was it her true character?” Leonard asked.
“Yes. Their goal was to capture me. They even managed to destroy a Codarl M.”
Putting the phone receiver to his ear, he sighed.
“My apologies, Lord Leonard.”
“No, I don’t blame you. That girl just doesn’t know when to give up”
That was his clever sister. But for how long? She spent too much time with Mithril, and only chose the foolish choices.
It was like, she was scorning those men- the death of her father and friends- drunk with self pity in a humorous anachronism, different from the vulgar and inferior “men of the seas”.
“There is another way. I have prepared several options-”
“No, you should stop. There are a mountain of things that I need your help with, Lee”
“Thank you very much.”
“First, get back here. The matter with my sister, you should leave it as it is for the time being.”
“Will that be alright?”
“We’ll deal with them at any rate. In order to preach nonsense to me, how many lives of tens or hundreds of men were paid?”
“Yes. I will put my resolve into it.”
“That’s right” listening to Fowler, he smiled.
“There was a message from your sister.”
“Hee. What did she say?” Leonard asked.
“It’s somewhat a bit of vulgar speech.”
“It’s alright, say it.”
Fowlers voice was a little tensed. It was not because he was frightened of telling Leonard the message; it was some sort of humiliation that was cramping on his throat-
“Lady Teletha told me ‘I hate to death FUCKING pieces of SHIT people like you who pretend to be nice.’ And told me to tell you the same thing.”
Goodness gracious, here it came.
Wasn’t that like a sibling rivalry of an inferior blue-collar family? It was like she had been badly influenced by her association with her friends.
“Quite the authority.”
“My sincerest apologies.”
“No, it’s a good thing that she is energetic. Then, I leave the rest to you.”
Leonard cut off the phone and looked around the dining room. On the long table, about five meters away, there were candlesticks and tableware prepared. Dinner had not yet been served.
In the service entrance, from the partly open door, there was the presence of someone. There was someone working in the kitchen.
There was no mistake that it was company-
Concerning that point, he might not be different from his sister. Shrugging his shoulder lightly, he headed to the door and went to the kitchen, informing the girl inside, “I’m back”
The girl turned the frying pan on the giant stove. Chidori Kaname stopped cooking and took a glance at him.
“Welcome back” she answered feebly before returning to cooking.
“The cook will be worried; he won’t like you making dinner on your own.”
“Is that so?”
Kaname shook the frying pan, getting the pepper grinder from her side.
“Do you know what I’m making?”
“Omelette rice. But there is no Thai rice here. Not even a Japanese Tomato Ketchup. I tried lots of things, but I can’t seem to make the omelette rice that I know.”
“Can you ask someone to buy it? I’m sure any supermarket in Tokyo would have it” she complained feebly with spiteful sarcasm.
“I’ve forgotten” Leonard said, sitting down on the chair nearby.
“The flavor of omelette rice?”
“I also forgot the lamb roast that I ate in the past. Even the face of my mother who made it”
“Well, that’s just the way it is.”
“As far as ever loving you goes, it’s the same for me.”
“You shouldn’t go that far” Leonard smiled, snorting. “No matter what you cannot oppose fate. If you accept it, it would come as a relief. That’s all you have to do.”
Kaname’s eyes, calm like a lake, looked at him. She felt nothing, like the sensor of a machine, accepting Leonard’s obviousness.
“Do you really think that?” she muttered, returning to working with the frying pan.
He stared at Kaname’s back. She was wearing a silk shirt and a pleated skirt.
While staring from the nape of her neck down the beautiful curve of her back he thought on her words.
Did he really think like that-
Of course he did.
He got up an approached her with the thought of embracing her from behind. Would she resist?
But, there was no meaning in that.
Leonard shrugged his shoulders and stood up, leaving the kitchen.
“However-” she suddenly muttered. “The real Omelette rice that I make is really delicious. It is unfortunate that you were not able to eat it.”
Lightly turning aside, Leonard headed back from the kitchen.
From there on, there was an unspeakable discomfort. He was slightly irritated when he noticed that the discomfort reminded him of the feeling from the courtyard at that school.
Outside of the corridor, facing the courtyard of the house through the dining room, a woman in a suit was waiting for him. It was one of his subordinates, Sabina Refunio, with Laptop in hand. It seemed like she had just finished with a communication.
“He is alive” Sabina said.
There was no need for him to ask “who?” Leonard Testarossa had roughly guessed.
“It’s about him right?”
“Yes, Sagara Sousuke.”