Full Metal Panic! - Volume 9 - Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Ahead Towards the Enemy 
 All the muscles in his body were screaming. 
 Painful. Difficult. 
 His feet felt heavy. He wanted to vomit. 
 He felt sharp pains in his ribs with every violent breath. His throat was dry and he was extremely thirsty.  
The wet atmosphere of the jungle clung to his body. Large amount of sweat gushed out and his boots made unpleasant sounds as he advanced, step by step, through the jungle. The belt of his knapsack was eating into his shoulders. It was painful, but it couldn’t be helped. Halting, he placed his hands on his knees. It had only been 30 seconds since he had last rested, or so he thought. At any rate, there was no one watching. There was no one to complain about him slacking off. 
Sousuke, enduring the pain, shook his head bit by bit. How pathetic. With the steep mountain path, he had only walked no more than 6 kilometers. And he was already like that. 
One foot forward. One foot forward. 
He stumbled on the root of a thick tree, staggering. Although he had fallen down the previous time he had tripped, that time, he narrowly regained his balance. Standing still like that, he firmly endured it and continued to move.  
Don’t think. Run. 
There was a fierce ringing in his ears from his troubled heartbeat. Its racing echoed in his ears from the nape of his neck. His field of vision began to narrow and his consciousness became hazy.  
One foot forward. One foot forward. 
What’s the foundation of fighting? What’s the foundation of a soldier? That’s right, it’s running. 
 Run. Run. Run. 
 Soldiers who do not run have no chance of winning. In extreme cases, it had nothing to do with skill and equipment. The Goddess of fighting only smiled upon those who could run longer than their enemy. As for understanding the merits of a battle, it was simple. That was the only variation. Staying alive that long was because of “Running”. 
 Needless thoughts slowly disappeared. 
 Hesitation and doubt disappeared. Regrets from the past, and indecisiveness about the future also disappeared. 
 Forward. Forward. Forward. 
 He was approaching the landmark which was a grotesque shrub. It would be 10 kilometers according to the map. The distance he had not reached yesterday he had already passed today. 
 His whole body was in pain, as usual. 
 However, tomorrow he would be running further. 
“You still plan to move, huh? Good gracious, really....” Michael Lemon said from behind Sousuke. 
He was heading towards the Athletic Field, returning to camp. 
 They were in the northern part of the swampy area in Florida, North America. 
 It was around a few good 10 kilometers to the nearest community, Taylor Town. Those who went there were mostly hunters, academic researchers, or those who were curious. There were not many visits in the span of a year. There was only one land route. The people going to that remote place could only go through Taylor Town. In other words, if anyone were looking for Sousuke the people in the city would immediately inform Lemon through the wireless radio. 
 In the attack at Havi Oa Island Lemon’s own organization, the DGSE, had been caught in the information net of Amalgam 
without their knowledge. If not, the whereabouts of Sousuke would not have leaked. 
 He thought of going back to his home country, France. But, thinking of the current situation, it would be dangerous. And then there was Sousuke himself. Lemon’s superiors had decided to separate him from his former self. Naturally, this would be severe questioning, or rather, them profiting from their “collaboration” with Sousuke. That attack was obviously a hostile action from Amalgam. His own country and organization thought about the possibility of reconciliation with Amalgam, but Lemon did not agree with that option. 
 That was why he took only his trusted companions and brought Sousuke to that peculiar place. Because his immediate superior, Delecour, had died, Lemon was entrusted to have his own discretion. His decision would put him in a grave position in his own organization. He had not told his organization where he had gone because the information leak could have already reached the highest levels. Suffice to say, Lemon and the others were running away together with Sousuke. 
Does he mind? that’s what Lemon wondered. 
Of course he moved for the national interest of his own country, and he still intended to do so. He should have handed Sousuke over to the hands of the enemy- or given in to the bigwigs in charge of information from headquarters. Wouldn’t his action of running away instead be likened to selling off his own country? To that degree the organization called Amalgam was dangerous. Its roots were spread all over the place, even in his own organization.  That was what he had come to realize based on the incidents in the past few months. 
 First, Sousuke must recover. 
 If he got back his natural strength, he would become a soldier that would not need guarding. That would let them move easily, and, building a relationship of joint struggle with Sousuke, they would be able to get near the center of the organization called Amalgam. But also, it would take the threat of the enemy away from his native country. 
 Before going to the camp, Lemon had a talk with Sousuke about what he thought, and asked for his cooperation. Sousuke thought about it and nodded. 
“Okay. However, would that be all?” he had asked. 
Rational logic aside, Lemon had this feeling of going against Amalgam with prejudice. It was the most extreme subject. If it was up to a “Bureaucratic” agent, this important burden would be pushed to someone in headquarters, and they would transfer him to another assignment. 
“Revenge- although it is a strange talk. Well, I do have that mood” Lemon had answered with an absentminded tone. 
“Is that so? I understand.” 
 With only that, Sousuke consented, and he didn’t inquire about Lemon’s motive a second time. As far as information concerning Mithril and Amalgam, and also the circumstances as to why Sousuke was being targeted by the enemy, Sousuke had promised to tell Lemon once he had recovered to a certain degree. 
 The problem was how to hide from them. 
 Lemon had reached out to a number of people from his connections. Either way, in terms of safety, there were only difficult places and environments.  
Sousuke himself had proposed to Lemon that it should be somewhere difficult.  
“There is a person who can lend a hand” he had said. 
 What that person, John George Courtney, offered was the remote and uninhabited camp. 
 Even right then Sousuke was leaping and splashing silently in the field, rising and running down. The middle aged person, Courtney, sat down beside Lemon, who was observing silently. The wrinkles of his age were carved, and his movements were reassuring. With an appearance of a veteran, his sweat-colored olive green fatigues were magnificently worn. 
“He looks like he’s doing it.” 
“Yeah. There’s a degree of recklessness though.” 
 At Lemon’s words, Courtney let out a “hmph” with his nose. 
“However, his youth can overlook the recklessness. Do you understand that?” 
“Will to fight, or a purpose?” 
“Much more simple. Just Fucking Guts” said the old man, combing his abundant mustache with his fingertips. 
“Guts, you say...” 
“No. Fucking Guts” Courtney corrected. 
“Is that different?” 
“Don’t you understand? Then you are nothing more than a Fucking Idiot! Well a Fucking French bastard being more sensible in Fucking English, there is still some promise!” 
 The retired Commander Courtney, who used the F-word excessively, was an American who was over 60 and had come back from Vietnam. Preparing the land and camp, setting up the allies in Taylor Town, all of it was due to his assistance. 
 In the past, with the American Army and Navy being troubled with the guerilla attacks in Vietnam, that camp was established to train in jungle and wetlands combat. A 
commissioned officer in the army nicknamed it “Charging Charlie”. It was created to give a personal experience of the Hell of Vietnam to young soldiers who had no knowledge of conventional warfare. Courtney was one of the participants in the training curriculum. The language at that camp was violent; and waking up with bombs in the morning, or with officers wearing the Vietcong uniform, or with not enough time for sleep everyday and having to go creeping in the field was common. Nevertheless, that “Charging Charlie” was established into the “Delta Force” of the Army. 
 In the spite of being a camp with such a history, Sousuke continued his training rehabilitation. 
 But Courtney and Sousuke had only met once that year, they only had a relationship through a drinking party thrown by his “superior”. And with only that kind of relationship, that old man had prepared a thorough program. At one point a doubtful Lemon had asked Courtney about his reasons. 
 “It is because he was chosen by the cute daughter of my friend...” he had muttered lonesomely. 
 No matter what strange circumstances had occurred, Lemon no longer inquired about it after hearing that kind of sullen reaction. 
 With that reason alone, everything was prepared by that old man- 
“But Mr. Courtney. There is a suitable theory for the training.” 
 With the only word from Courtney being that Sousuke needed “Guts” Lemon offered his opinion. 
“He is obviously over-working it. His physiological movements are wrong. There are not enough muscles attached. Rather, he lost weight; he should have already collapsed when he reached his limits. Didn’t you also say this to Sousuke?” 
Then Courtney reached into his breast pocket, pulled out a cigar, and lit it with a match that had been glued to the sleeve of his uniform. It was an impressive way of doing it. After lighting the cigar in front of Lemon, who was still waiting for an answer, he held it to his mouth a couple of times and smoothly blew out some smoke.  
“Um, are you listening?” 
 With smoke blowing, the old soldier finally looked at him and said, “Of course I’m listening. Physiological movements huh?” 
“Fine. I will advise him.” 
After saying that he took one step forward. In the crudely made field Sousuke toiled, dripping with sweat. 
“Sarge!” he called towards Sousuke. 
“Sir!” Sousuke answered with wild breathing. 
“Your pace is falling! Really, coming to a health resort searching for boys, you’re showing a shameful ass like an unsatisfied young lady! Could it be that you’re seducing me with that ass!?” 
“No sir!” 
“Actually you really don’t have the will to do it right!? You’re only showing an appearance of doing your best!” 
“No sir!” 
“Then put out more fighting spirit! If your thinking of having your rotten dick penetrate the pussy of the girl you’ve fallen for- Move! Move! Move!” 
“Yes Sir!” 
 Raising his voice, Sousuke returned to the task that had been whipping his whole body. 
Retired Commander Courtney hurled jeers like “that’s right, Suffer! Writhe!” after him. 
“What about the physiological movement theory-” Lemon protested with a fed up face. 
“It’s a Fucking theory!” the old soldier growled. 
Unintentionally scowling at Lemon, he inhaled his cigar once again and blew out enough smoke to obscures his face. From there he “Kah-, Peh” and coughed up a large chunk of phlegm on the ground. 
“Discussion of guts is old? Method of training Physiology? Those things are for shitty young ones. Those are said by people who underestimate a man’s life force.” 
“You’re isolated in the middle of combat!” Courtney interrupted. “There are only enemies in the surrounding! If you get caught you lose your life! Your stamina is already at its limit! No water, food or ammunition! What do you do!?” 
“Well, what? You guys abide by the theory of your doctors, in medical terms you can’t fight anymore, do you give up and blow your head off?” 
“Before that. There is something amazing happening, it’s always before that. Our almighty God has properly prepared for that. God, as we call it, gave man a Super Fucking Charger.” 
 Courtney firmly made a fist from his grip, hitting Lemon in the chest and looking around. 
“Using this, the coward becomes courageous, changing from useless to elite. Not to mention, a common soldier who is on the verge of dying in a short time- he would be able to do this.” 
 It’s reckless, Lemon thought while knitting his brow. 
 Moderate exercise and moderate rest. And having a balanced diet. To be able to create an ideal body, those cannot be missed and were scientifically made clear. 
“You don’t trust me?” 
“Yeah, well…” 
“Then I’ll give you proof. Hey, you! You shitty young guy! Come here!” 
 Courtney called at a soldier doing maintenance in the corner of the camp- the voice reached a Special Forces member, one of Lemon’s subordinates. The soldier, with a dubious face saying, “me?” pointed to himself, and ran towards Lemon. Courtney hit his back and pointed towards Sousuke. 
“Get him some fighting spirit. Hit him two or three times, and pound him to the ground. What, you don’t have to be forgiving. Go!” he said. 
The large built and robust soldier inquired at Lemon’s expression. Lemon thought a little, and gave a short nod indicating “do as he says”. 
“Then, I’ll do as you say....” 
The soldier shrugged his shoulders, and headed toward the center of the field where Sousuke was running. With fist tucked in he informed him, “don’t think of this badly”, which could be heard from where Lemon and Courtney were watching. 
“Well, take a look. Take a look at the counterattack that will open your eyes.” 
 Courtney, with the cigar in mouth, folded his arms in confidence. 
 The soldier casually hit Sousuke. 
 Two hits. Three hits. 
 The extremely fatigued Sousuke was not able to give any kind of resistance. He took a shoulder throw and hit the mud with 
his back. Sousuke seemed unable to move and was just facing upwards at the solder. The soldier looked down at him and shouted back over to Lemon. 
“He fainted.” 
 The soldier nursed the confused Sousuke. Lemon let out a sigh and looked at Courtney, who appeared as if nothing had happened and blew out smoke from his cigar. 
“Well, this could also happen.” the old soldier said shortly. “Anyway, you can’t pamper a man. That is vital. Stained with mud, with the sweat flowing freely the current of combat is not to be taken that lightly.” 
“Of course.” 
 Courtney threw his cigar on the ground and extinguished the fire with the heel of his jungle boots. 
“But, Mr. young-guy, a man who isn’t smeared with mud and sweat, blood and tears, what would he be capable of then?” 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
Sitting on a deck chair in the shadows of the terrace watching the day ascend by the sea; that was the daily routine of Chidori Kaname. 
Even on rainy days it was the same. 
She had only ever been to the sea a few times a year in her life. This was the first time that she had been able to continually look at the same sea for a number of months. 
After being separated in Tokyo she was taken to many different places. The most recent place she had been taken to was a mansion on the beach. She was in a situation where she could wander the premises unrestricted. She was told by Leonard, the 
person who brought her there, that she could ask the people working in the mansion for whatever she wanted. 
“You think I would be happy being treated like a princess?” Kaname had asked.  
Leonard had only shrugged his shoulders. 
When he arrived at the mansion that day, he had left her and went away in a helicopter. Being the manager of Amalgam, there would be a lot of work to be done. He only returned about once a week. Aside from that he was always out to somewhere. 
Even though he had once stolen her lips and said, “I love you”, Leonard did not treat her as his own. He never even embraced or touched her. 
 Not even using that “resonance”. 
 He only made her important by secluding her. Like an important gem in a strong box. 
 Kaname had not been expecting that. 
For a young man who apparently had eccentric feelings of love it was very different behavior from what she had been anticipating. He simply had her “do this here” and gave her projects to work on. She wasn’t even thrown into some strange research laboratory. Excluding the house arrest, Kaname was surly free to do as she pleased. She was being treated like a VIP in an extravagant hotel. 
 After a few weeks of living in the mansion, Leonard gave her a notebook PC that was fairly new and said, “If you are bored, try to thinker with this.” 
The PC had its network functions disabled, but stored within it were the design and combat data of a super weapon. It was filled with super important ridiculously classified information.  
 There was a number of data on varieties of Codarl type and Behemoth type ASes with a Lambda Driver equipped. 
Unfortunately there was no information on the Belial, which Leonard used. 
 Among the combat data it included the battles with Sousuke’s Arbalest. There were many pilots for the Codarl type, but the only one who could draw out the full power of the unit was the terrorist who fought with Sousuke, Gauron. Even without the function of the Lambda Driver, he freely controlled the unit with perception and experience. In other words, he was very good at thoroughly harassing the Arbalest. Kaname thought again about the fierceness of the real power of Sousuke that was comparable to Gauron. 
 There was also combat data about Mao and Kurz’s unit, the M9, but those were ordinary. The M9 would be completely crushed with the passengers dying. If an ordinary AS fought with an AS equipped with a Lambda Driver it would not be odd for it to receive that amount of damage. Looking at the combat data, at Sousuke and the others’ stubbornness, was telling her of their shrewdness. 
 If you look at it oppositely, in other words looking from the perspective of Amalgam, the situation was somewhat of an irritation. 
 Even against hardware guaranteed to be far superior, these enemies would not yield. Mobilizing with experience and skill, elasticity and unpolished intuition, in the end they continued to resist. Finally they would find an opportunity and the Lambda Driver equipped unit would succumb to a fatal counterattack. That might probably be the “Difference in skill”. Mao, Kurz and the others, ordinary youths who were flawed with human weakness, at the same time were like polished fighting machines. That fact appeared in numerical values on the screen. 
Kaname, looking at that data, vaguely guessed the meaning in what Leonard had once said, “Mithril is trying too hard”. 
Amalgam was felt as a threat to Sousuke and the others. 
She roughly scanned the design data of the Codarl and Behemoth. With Kaname’s intelligence the way it was just then she easily discovered the point of the problem. The appearance of the original pattern had been derived from Leonard, many of the other portions seemed to have been handled by engineers.  
The Lambda Driver equipped ASes of Amalgam required the operator to take medications prior to starting up the equipment. This created a variety of “Static stimulations”, producing a peculiar electrical pattern in the brain. It was only a shell of an interface which was called TAROS, the unit amplifying that “power”. It could not be asserted with the design data alone, but the medications that the amalgam pilots used had been improving. Close to one year ago, when they had met that unstable boy, Takuma, the medications caused them to behave erratically. The combat data from that incident was missing, but the pilots of the Codarls right now were not as emotionally unstable as Takuma. 
The fundamental principle of the Codarl’s Lambda Driver was most probably the same as the Arbalest, but Sousuke did not require any medication. Over time Sousuke and the Arbalest had exhibited a dramatic battle, a mental state which could not be reproduced by a medicine prescription. It was probably brought forth by the concentration and strong will he had forged by living as a soldier from such a young age. A variation of enhanced feeling was a plus. 
Although the Arbalest was unstable, it had an overwhelming strength in a complete situation. The Codarl type exhibited stable functioning and the specifications were also available with limited mass production. But it could not exhibit the 
instant strength of the Arbalest. To say it simply, the Codarl was a unit for exterminating ordinary AS, whereas the Arbalest was designed to fight with an AS equipped with an Lambda Driver. The difference was also clearly shown in the combat data. 
It was strange to say, but the Codarl and Behemoth units were somewhat similar. But their similarities were also their limitations. They did not take into consideration that and enemy may also be equipped with a Lambda Driver. Many aspects of their design had been sacrificed in order to accommodate the complex system. In addition, the expansion of their protective wall was difficult. Being defeated by a common AS would not be impossible if an enemy was familiar with the Lambda Driver equipment, in other words Tessa and the others.  
 Even with a supernatural energy field generating device they were not invincible. 
 At Kaname’s diagnosis, the “Battle ratio” of a Lambda Driver equipped AS and an ordinary 3rd generation AS, with the same skill in pilots, would be assumed around 8 to 1. If 8 of the M9s were drilled with the proper countermeasures, they could defeat a single unit of Codarl. Of course the side with the M9s would pay a suitable sacrifice, actual tactics were much more complex and organic, but if simplified that would be it. 
If compared to the tanks and an anti tank helicopters that were used in current warfare, an extreme example, the ratio would be 16 to 1. Comparing that to the existence of the Lambda Driver boarded AS would not cause a dramatic change in the concern of the people. Although this might not be a big thing if looking at the history of science, on top of the military history the artillery and communication system, ICBM, would have a greater incidence. 
Was it expected in this world that people had noticed as much? Most probably only a handful of people had- him, herself 
and Tessa, and a few more people who were the same as them. People like Mao and the others, who had experienced it in actual combat, might have already noticed it too. 
Looking at the collected data in the Notebook PC, Kaname understood that much. 
Leonard had made her understand that truth. And then, on top of that he had asked her, “Then how do you use this worthless equipment called Lambda Driver? How would you repair this unit?”  
In any case, Kaname increased the radiation cord from the head part from one to two, making three knots of ribbon to create a data transfer. 
“You friend will be alright.” 
It was about Tokiwa Kyouko. After saying that Leonard had smiled and said, “why don’t you try redoing it”, and returned the data to her. 
After that, Kaname once in a while thought of a design plan and handed it to Leonard’s subordinates. Her design plans were merely sketches with no real practical uses. The contents were just for Leonard. She would purposely mix in the wrong numerical values and a mechanism with contradicting specs resulted. It would be an ingenious trap that would be difficult for an ordinary engineer to notice. With the discomfort of having her skills tested, she also tried to test the observer. Of course Leonard would have noticed that intention. He would simply show her the mistaken passage, shrug his shoulders, and leave. 
How long would she be staying in that mansion? 
What did they want with her? 
Leonard talked about a lot of things. Not only the management of the organization, but she felt the impression that he was preparing for something very big. Most probably, until that day came she would have to be in that place. 
 After losing the livelihood of Tokyo, Kaname, who felt she had thrown away something, had no more spirit to inquire about those matters. 
 Whatever. That was what she thought. 
 Anger and laughter, she could no longer recall. Only knowing of living in that mansion, becoming a middle aged woman, becoming an elderly woman, and dying someday. She thought that that would be good. 
 That place was in the subtropics. 
 It had already been warm since February, with only the broadleaf trees remaining in sight. There were no roads or houses seen on the premises, not even a ship going back and forth on the coast. Nor an Aircraft. The helicopter for people to visit the mansion was the only thing that ever flew there. 
 It was a quiet place. 
 Like the silence of her heart right then, it was a hollow place. 
 The sun set just like how it always did, so she left the terrace. Then she walked to the west side of the wide garden. That had become a daily routine for Kaname. 
 It was a garden that was well maintained. In that season the light purple Jacaranda flowers were blooming. Shining under the velvet sunset sky of dusk, they left an absentminded and gloomy color around them. A gentle sea breeze came from the sea, shaking the leaves of the garden, and a number of whispers reached her ears. 
 Hearing that conversation, on that evening, she backed into the corner of the garden. 
 One was a man, the other was a woman. 
“...and then? The escape from LA was really uncertain right?” 
She knew that voice well. Leonard’s subordinate Lee Fowler. 
 A handsome man with black hair that would leave a woman enthralled. She didn’t know what kind of past he had, but behind the gentleman-like demeanor was a capable soldier with careful characteristics; he was a man who hid his discernment. He was disciplined to have absolute loyalty to Leonard, and was very polite to Kaname. He seemed to be the right hand of Leonard and flew around the world, but on that day he was visiting the mansion. 
“Yes. How unfortunate.” 
 The voice of the woman who answered Fowler was also known to Kaname. Sabina Refunio. It was a conversation between Leonard’s subordinates after all. 
 The woman, who essentially managed the people who worked in the mansion, always wore a black suit and black rimmed glasses. Her appearance looked somewhat young. Probably around her 20’s. Or possibly at an age that was no different from Kaname’s. 
 Sabina was always in the mansion, there were many chances of meeting her. She was also polite towards Kaname, always respectful no matter what time. 
 However, she was not just a weak girl. And did not only work as a steward. She also communicated and led different people outside of the organization. At that young age. On the opposite side of that courteous conduct there was a scent from somewhere- of one who had an occupation fighting. That silent tension could also be felt. 
 Even the people who worked in the mansion occasionally showed fear towards Sabina. 
 These two confidants and subordinates of Leonard, what were they whispering about in the corner of the garden? Because 
she had the feeling she might fall asleep she might have cut off her consciousness and erased her presence. Fowler and Sabina didn’t seem to notice her presence at all. 
 LA- the retreat from Los Angeles, she really didn’t understand. 
 She didn’t know who, but the two were talking about someone. 
“Did you tell Master Leonard about this? With your judgment you dispatched an assassination team to Havi Oa Island. That operation ended in failure. In addition you lost sight of that man.” 
“Of course I told him.” Sabina answered with a very calm voice. 
“About the secrecy, that person is predictable.” 
“What is he?” 
“Nothing. That’s rather a word of appreciation.” 
“What a lenient person.” 
“What do you mean?” 
“I think it was not a mystery to have angered Master Leonard. Certainly the handling of that unit was only an example of a pilot. However, for arguments sake even if the ARX system were to be rebuilt, the Belial would still be unrivaled. It is not a situation that should be feared.” 
“I don’t think so.” 
 There was a hidden implication in the uncharacteristic words of Sabina. 
“Even with his defeat?” 
“No. Of course he is not invincible. In fact, I think my Eligor would be enough to deal with him.” 
“Then why did you try to assassinate him?” 
“I thought that it would not be necessary to have a fair fight. It is best to pinch the troubling sprout early on.” 
 Fowler let out a small sigh. 
“That would be the extreme right. But you don’t understand right? You may have hurt the pride of that person.” 
“In other words, about her?” 
“That’s right.” 
Kaname would need a little more time before she realized who the word “Her” meant that Sabina was referring to. 
“But Master Leonard no longer concerns himself with that man. It’s like if a paper napkin fell to the floor while eating, I would pick it up and throw it away- that is all.” 
“I see. Thinking just like a lady.” 
“Is that so?” 
“No, excuse me. …in any event, there is no longer a need for assassination.” 
“And why is that?” 
“We caught the news of the ARX unit that disappeared in Tokyo. It is not complete but three Codarl M types were ordered to capture it. We will finally see the skills of Mister Kalium. 
“Would that not hurt the self-esteem of Master Leonard?” 
 Fowler snorted his nose. 
“That’s why it was to be ‘Captured’. We can do whatever we want after. We can also have the permission.” 
“I understand.” 
“Anyway, as for the remains of Mithril, we don’t want to be sorry for the difficulty they may cause. I think we should focus on this plan.” 
“Of course.” 
“Then, best regards.” 
 Fowler and Sabina parted in that place, heading in different directions. 
 Kaname had calmly listened to that conversation. She did not stir or even show any sense of tension, just like the sound of 
the wind. If she were still the energetic girl of long ago, drawing her breath from an inner strength, Fowler might have noticed her existence.  
 Havi Oa Island. 
 Assassination Team. 
 ARX System. 
 Those words did not much move her heart. The problem was “that man”- about Sousuke. 
 Since Fowler was no longer there, how long, then, had she been there? Kaname, in the darkness under the shade of the tree, without speaking to anyone, muttered a soft whisper. 
“That idiot....” 
 He was alive. And also, she didn’t know what things he was doing, but he seemed to be continuing to do something that Amalgam didn’t like. 
 Probably, searching for her. 
 To bring her back to the quadrangle of that school. 
 Going that far to destroy her current lifestyle, unyielding, not even raising the white flag. What did he think he was doing? 
 That idiot. 
 For me. In a situation like that… me, who betrayed you right in front of you when you were on the verge of death. Me, who threw you away and went with another man. 
 That idiot- 
 There were no tears. She was utterly amazed from the bottom of her heart. 
 Not at him. But at herself. 
 What exactly was she doing? 
 At that rate, inside that boring mansion, she would become an old lady. She had even been thinking that it would be good to 
die like that. Without anything. Without hurting anyone. What would be her atonement for that? Kicking him with meager sarcasm- that was all. 
That idiot- 
 Leave me alone. Forget about me. Slowly, find another way of life. Why do you have to trouble yourself for me? 
 That idiot- 
 Hurry up and come here. Do it and come here. Say to me the usual words. With a blunt sullen face, say “No problem”. 
 You can’t. It’s full of problems. 
The darkness of the tree shade was the best place to space out. 
That idiot- 
 She couldn’t stand herself. Cowardly. Really cowardly. Clinging on to her miserable feelings, she cowered there for a number of minutes. 
 When she felt the chill of the night atmosphere, she finally stood up. Walking out of the garden with her weak feet, she headed to her own room in the mansion. To the big bed. She thought that it would be comfortable to just sleep there. 
 But before entering the mansion, she noticed something. In front of the south side, there was a 25 meter clean pool. She had not even swam once. 
 She stopped her in her tracks, gazing at the pool for a while. With the illumination leaking from the window of the mansion, the surface of the water shimmered. She stared at it with her indifferent eyes. 
 Shall we take a swim? she vaguely thought.  
Rather, she thought to sink into the middle of the water, and just disappear like that. No, if she were to jump into the pool, she wouldn’t be committing suicide. Even then, without knowing the reason herself, she walked to the pool side. 
 She took off her heeled sandals and entered the pool barefooted. 
 A flavor not found those past few months, she felt the strange freshness of it. 
 No one was looking in the surrounding area. 
 Kaname sat in the pool with her clothes one, playing in the cold water with both of her feet for a while, then dipped her whole body under. 
 The dress she was wearing was gently spread in the water, and every time she moved her heavy body it coiled around her. With gloominess she cast it off in the middle of the pool. Her body has somewhat become lighter. 
 In only her underwear, she looked upwards and floated above the water, splashing in the silence. Looking at the night sky. Countless stars were twinkling in front of her eyes. And then, she tried to truly swim. 
 She slowly kicked her foot, raising her face and swimming forward. She was progressing in the water. She was no longer in a bad mood, the cold temperature of the water was frivolous in her breath. 
 Shall she swim faster? 
 She came to a crawl. With a strong thud of her leg, both hands mutually paddled the water. Speeding up, the striking of the water echoed in the empty pool. 
 Shall she swim faster? 
 Why didn’t she try? 
 She was faster than she thought. With the strength of her arms and legs, her body continuously progressed. 
 What’s this? Not bad. 
 She finally pulled out her strength. She neared the end of the pool. She touched the wall, made a quick turn, and swam back the 25 meters. 
 Without any profound reason, she continued to swim. Like embroidery in the water, it was not a beautiful swimming style. But more like swimming with ones might. Beating on the water, a violent kick in the air, swimming like a body violently twisting. Her breathing became heavy and rough all at once; she did not mind and continued to swim. 
 And then forward. And then forward. 
 She made a number of round trips in the pool. Why was she doing it, she herself did not know. 
 At any rate she wanted to swim. Moving all her body, moving forward. 
 Forward. Forward. Forward. 
 Due to a number of months without exercise, she got tired immediately. It was hard. It was difficult to breath. The muscles here and there were screaming. 
 Even then she swam. 
 Forward! Forward! Forward! 
 Beating the water in the dim light, raising a small roar, she continued to swim. Really not pretty, a movement like an octopus trying to drown something. Raising her face from the surface water, she continued forward. 
 Swim! Swim! Swim! 
 The water’s coldness must have gone somewhere. Now it was hot. If she struck, the water drops would dance in the air. She 
was somehow in a mood to smile. The hardship of her whole body turned into a sensation. Even though it was hard, her heart was released somewhere. 
 Aah, that’s right. 
 Together with her nostalgic sensation, she thought about it. 
 She thought too much. 
 Hesitation and difficulty would not start anything. No, there was no longer any need for that, but there was something much more important. 
 Swimming, walking, moving forward. She might be tired in half a day. 
 Even then, swimming like this is not bad. 
 Forward more! Forward more! 
 Continuing to swim like that- she did not even know how many rounds she made. If she kept it up she might drown in her own feelings, and so Kaname finally stopped. At the time that she crawled up from the pool side, there was a feeling that steam was rising from all over her body. 
 Staggering while standing, there was someone at her back who called out a voice. 
“This is rare” 
 It was Sabina. It was because she had been swimming loudly that it was bound to be noticed. 
“Is that so?” 
 Tearing off her shoulders with a breath, Kaname exchanged words with her. It was good to feel her heartbeat beating loudly. She casually lifted herself out of the pool, paying no attention to the wetness of her form or how she might look to someone of the opposite sex. 
“It feels good. How about you?” 
 Like challenging her, Kaname spoke with her eyes glaring. Sabina shrugged her shoulders a little. 
“No. But seeing you energetic would be good.” 
“I wonder. This is still the worst.” 
 Sabina carefully looked at Kaname with deep eyes, and said, “It seems that you’ve heard, right?” 
Forward! Forward! Forward! Swimming, running, moving forward. Certainly there were problems. She could not necessarily last forever, but still… In any case, forward. Forward. Forward. 
With only that, she understood that she was talking about what was overheard in the garden. She didn’t know how she knew, but Sabina had noticed it. 
 Kaname quickly responded. 
“Yeah, I heard. Sorry.” 
“Then you knew? I tried to kill your boyfriend.” 
“Not particularly. Isn’t that alright?” 
 Kaname laughed with her nose. 
“Or what I mean is, he’s not my boyfriend in the first place. But that guy, he won’t be killed by the likes of you. Isn’t that just overly self consciousness? We took your most important thing, sorry, AND I’m cool, right?” 
 Sabina just stood there with her expressionless face. 
“....It’s about time for dinner. Shall I accompany you to the dining hall?” 
“Since it’s troublesome I’ll pass” Kaname said carelessly. 
“If you want me to go no matter what, then prepare Lake Fish made Koshihikari and some Nattou. Aah, and then-I want to eat some Dried Round Herring. Thanks.” 
 Sabina who wasn’t quite familiar with customary Japanese food, asked again for the names of the ingredients. 
 Certainly there were a lot of problems. 
 But she couldn’t possibly continue on like she had been. 
That was why in the mean time, forward. Forward. Forward. 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
When the former Mithril Information Department Hong Kong Branch head Gavin Hunter and the others were attacked, they were passing through the streets of Cantwell going 60 kilometers per hour. While still working on the frame work of the “Unit” they had frantically run away from Anchorage, heading straight for the workshop which they had prepared beforehand. They were attacked along the way. 
 It was dawn and raining. There were evergreen trees all around the area. 
 Although it was already June, the mornings of Alaska were still unpleasantly cold. There were two trailers holding the unit. Hunter was on the passenger side of the leading car. Unlike the route other convoys used at night, it was a place where no cars were going back and forth. 
 There was an ambush waiting for them. 
 In the path of their way there was a bluish phosphorescence floating in the air; at once a giant appeared. It was an Arm Slave. In addition it was not that one unit alone. There was also another behind Hunter and the others. And then 300 meters from the left, on a small hill, was another unit. As far as they could see, there were three units. From the silhouette they could see the distinct feature of the diamond-shaped head. The three units were all made up of Codarl types. Since they only had one armored troop resistance was futile. 
 The Codarl in front opened his hands and said “Stop” 
“Do as he says. Stop.” Hunter said towards the driver who looked blankly when the AS suddenly appeared. The driver was employed locally and was an outsider, of course he would have no knowledge of what the contents were.  
 The two trailers stopped in the middle of the road, the external speakers of the Codarl said. 
“Cut your engine and come out with both your hands up. If you resist we will shoot.” 
 They obeyed. 
 From the thicket on the left side of the road appear five or six men. They immediately grasped the necks of Hunter and the others and lined them up in a row beside the trailer. Although wearing civilian clothes, they carried submachine guns and their movements and cooperation were tightly controlled. If there had 
been any kind of resistance, the members were in a good firing position. There was no mistake that they were professionals. 
 The drivers were frightened. Hunter pitied them for involving them. But he had anticipated that situation and had employed outsiders. He didn’t want to expose his subordinates, with high skills and experience, to unnecessary dangers- in other words, if the employed drivers happened to be killed it would not damage them greatly. 
Then, why was he going along with them? 
There were a number of logical reasons. He made calculations not to get himself killed, and to shift to escape if somehow captured. For arguments sake, if he died there were no people who would be concerned. His relationship with his loving wife in Hong Kong had become a catastrophe when Mithril collapsed. 
 Oh well. Being a woman who had pride being a former model, up hers. To be with a small fat person like him, she had only wanted a Grand Cinq ring...that’s what he thought. 
 But the largest and most dangerous risk he took was not to be in agreement with the enemy. 
“Gavin Hunter right?” 
 One of the attackers said without negligence of his gun. It was meaningless if he were to deny this, so Hunter gave his affirmation. But even then, the enemy had made deep preparations. 
“Say your mother’s name and you birthday” 
 So they were watching out for his substitute. He had difficulty with his memory- and his mother had died 20 years earlier. He answered the question. 
“Debbie. June 4” 
“Alright. Show me the load. Open it with the key you have.” 
Whether it was a form of protest or something else, Hunter hesitated. Wouldn’t it be alright to irritate them for a bit? No, that attitude would rather give suspicion to his enemies. He rethought, and calmly replied “I understand”. Raising both his hands he walked towards the rear of the trailer. There were two armed men, following him from behind. 
No matter how he struggled, he could not resist. They were much more trained. They were men armed with automatic rifles, and had three Lambda Driver equipped ASes. But Hunter knew some much more stubborn professionals- those guys from the West Pacific Fleet. They would not lose to these guys. 
Removing the lock on the rear doors, the boorish metal fittings were unfastened. He opened the double doors and inside was a large quantity of cardboard boxes. 
“It’s smoked salmon.” Hunter said. 
“We got it cheap from a trader. We plan on traveling along like this crossing Canada towards Utah-” 
 Not listening to his words, the man violently pulled down the cardboard boxes. The cardboard boxes fell to the ground and from the smashed boxes smoke salmon was revealed in vacuum packs. Hunter, who was looking on, was in a mood to drink some beer. 
“Keep quiet and just watch.” 
There were several cardboard boxes; inside them were a number of curved armor pieces. A part of a large machine appeared. 
People in the military field would understand immediately. It was the head of a 3rd generation AS. 
“Are these smoked salmon?” the man snorted, and called on the digital communicator he had. 
“This is Blue One. We have discovered Tango One. Blue One will proceed with Alpha protocol. There is a control on Tango Four. Request instructions- Blue One Roger” 
 The man concluded the communication and ordered the attackers to withdraw. 
 At once, two large helicopters equipped with ECS appeared, hovering in the skies about 10 meters away, dropping a sturdy wire and hook. The men on the ground quickly acted and connected the wire to the trailer. 
 And then another small helicopter flew over. It was an old model Gazelle. The small helicopter landed with rhythmical movement, around 30 meters away from the trailer. 
 A large built man in civilian clothes got off from the small helicopter. 
 Taking off the headset and leaving the seat, with an energetic soldier-like gait he headed towards them. Because of the shadow created by the trees, the face of the man was not clearly visible. His gray coat fluttered in the wind. His hair and beard were also gray. 
 One of the attackers raced to the “Gray Man”, bowing his head, reporting to him while not losing to the roaring sound of the helicopter. Most probably that man was the commander. 
 After briefly instructing the subordinate, the gray man slowly walked towards Hunter. His height was about 190 centimeters. His age could also be guessed at roughly around his 50’s. 
 The man came walking a few steps forward. 
It was a face he knew. And also, a man who should not have been there. 
“Impossible. You’re...” 
“In this industry that is possible.” taking for granted the speechless gaze of Hunter, that man, Andrei Kalinin, said. 
 Hunter was usually a man who would not be surprised, but that was different. It was something that he did not see mistakenly, no matter how many times he thought it. 
 But it was certain. 
 Standing over there, the one who was leading the troops of Amalgam, was the Russian who was responsible as the Operations Commander of the Western Pacific Fleet of Mithril, Andrei Kalinin. 
 He passed beside Hunter, confirming the contents of the trailer. 
“This is the aforementioned unit?” 
“Building something like this, it changes nothing. It was a useless labor.” 
 Hunter’s fist suddenly gained strength. 
“....Mister Kalinin. I didn’t think that such words would come out of your mouth. Although we were not close, we were in numerous operations together. But, I didn’t think you were the kind of person who would say that. Those young fellows trusted you. Is that not reason enough?” 
“That’s an overvalue.” 
“A lot of your allies were killed! On top of that, what sort of infamy- don’t you at least feel a little pain in your heart!?” 
 Even with the sharp words of Hunter, Kalinin did not even move his eyebrows. 
 And then he only said one word. 
“Withdraw” he ordered his subordinates. 
“Wait, Mister Kalinin. Are you really---” 
 Hunter approaching defiantly, Kalinin fired his automatic gun casually. He felt a dull pain in his abdomen, and then a burning pain throughout his whole body. 
 His hands were dyed with blood as he put pressure on the wound. A memory of a quarrel during his poor childhood times in the streets of Glasgow came to his mind. Hunter fell on both his knees, and looked forward. In the corner of his narrowing field of vision, he only saw the wet road and the boots of Kalinin. 
“If a human loses roughly around 30 percent of his blood he will die” Kalinin said. “With that bleeding, you need to get emergency treatment within 30 minutes. The nearest medical facility is 63 kilometers from here. We will be withdrawing from here. With luck you could get picked up by a car, but even if you do your best to fly, it would be difficult to make it in time. But my helicopter has the necessary medical kit.” 
“Then here is the question, Mister Hunter. This unit, the ARX-8, who were the people who constructed it? And where are they?” 
 Hunter spit at the boots of Kalinin with blood mixed in. It did not fly very well, and fell to the ground. 
“Eat shit.” 
“Is that so?” 
 Kalinin did not show even any signs of disappointment. 
“Then enjoy your last 30 minutes.” 
 The fallen Hunter stayed still, and Kalinin left. His subordinates also started to withdraw, leaving the drivers kneeling. 
 The helicopter in the skies left a fierce roar of the turbo shaft engine. The two trailers hanging on the helicopters started to ascend, climbing the skies and accelerating towards the eastern sky. 
The helicopter Kalinin rode started to takeoff, and disappeared immediately. 
 Once only the three Codarls remained, they lowered their weapons, activated their ECS, and leapt away into the distance. With only a bluish white light remaining, the three units disappeared from the morning atmosphere. 
“ can this be?” Hunter muttered in the returning silence.  
The drivers were racing around. They showered him with their worried jeers, but those words no longer reached his ears. 
 Gentlemen of the Western Pacific Fleet. 
 With those kinds of toys, ASes equipped with Lambda Drivers, you will be clashing with a tough enemy. 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
After two days exercising, Sousuke was being evaluated. Lemon’s subordinates were the only competitors available, so that was who he was up against.  
They selected a search route to try and determine the position of Sousuke’s encampment.  They crossed at the river because that was the ironclad rule concerning tracking. Though they all had actual combat experience most probably it had not been in such a swampy area.  
There were many different variations of large mosquitoes and ants. They smeared their bodies with insecticide, but no matter how many times the wind blew by there was water floating about everywhere. There were only rare traces of man-made things. 
But no matter how carefully they erased their footprints, if they didn’t carefully avoid the spider’s webs in the forest it was like proclaiming “We are going this way”.  
The team was split into two groups of pursuit, but looking at the terrain, the search radii of the two teams were too far apart. If one side were to enter combat it would take too much time for the support team to turn around. If the four men of one team were taken care of, it would not be difficult to trap the others. 
Well, how about time for an emergency... 
He had gambled on that. 
Sousuke was waiting for them to drop their concentration, and then he would attack. Following the traces of a meal he had purposefully left they reached the roots of a big tree. The point man had noticed the traces and the tail of the team was creeping up from the left wing. Just as he considered the possibility that the traces may have been left on purpose he was grabbed from behind. Without making a sound he was grappled to the ground and a knife was pressed to the nape of his neck. 
“You’re dead” Sousuke whispered in the man’s ear before disappearing. 
The remaining enemy was only eight meters away, but the thick bush interrupted his field of vision. 
From there on it was difficult. 
Sousuke moved forward and, turning from the left wing, got close to the enemy. The first person who felt the presence of “Murder” called out in warning to his surrounding comrades who were further along the path. 
It was impossible to kill the opponents he was practicing with without making a sound. 
With that judgment, he put away his knife and took out his sub-machine gun; he pushed towards the enemy at once. He was still hidden, but the enemy was only a few steps ahead of him. He was aiming his gun towards Sousuke. Sousuke fired first. The sound of gunfire resounded in the jungle. The paint bullet coming 
out of the weak cartridge hit the enemy’s chest and head. They caused a suitable amount of pain, and the opponent who got attacked cried out. 
“Uoh, that hurts!” 
“A corpse should sleep.” 
 Sousuke immediately moved. The two remaining men, who heard the gunfire and screams, reacted and headed for the bush. Sousuke fired without delay. The successive gunfire echoed in the surroundings. 
 If they had been real bullets, they would have pierced the leaves and headed his way. Sousuke would have died. But unfortunately, the reduced gunpowder of the paint bullets did not have the destructive power to penetrate the thick bush. In addition the opponents were not able to get a foothold in the zone, and moving was a curse. On the other hand Sousuke had grasped the terrain from walking about the night before. Even if he ran with his eyes closed he would remember it. He could win, even if it was two on one. 
 Although he felt it was sly, Sousuke skillfully took care of the remaining two. As expected the four men complained. 
“Why don’t you just quietly die”, his voice showed the excitement of having successfully lain his trap. 
Twenty minutes after the first gunshots were heard, the other four man team finally came. 
 Five minutes after that, everyone was “Killed in action”. They were all discontent with Sousuke after all. 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 After the exercise, Sousuke and the other members returned to camp, Lemon and Courtney were in front of the electric fan and were caught in the middle of a game of chess. 
“That’s why! I did not cheat!” 
“No! It’s definitely a FUCKING Cheat! My Pawn was not there a while ago! You must have moved it while I was shitting! You cheating bastard!” 
“Let me tell you, I have an IQ of 150 and graduated at Sorbonne. I’m a little intelligent and also young. There’s no reason why I should lose to an eccentric old man like you! Please stop saying strange things!” 
“How dare you say such things! My Uncle died in Omaha Beach. We save you weak French Bastards from FUCKING Hitler!” 
“Haa! Then my ancestors gave weapons as presents to the poor people in the new continent 200 years ago!” 
“That’s a lie! Definitely a lie!” 
“You were also lying weren’t you?” 
“What was that? If you want proof then I have some! The picture of the house in Arizona at that time- damn, wait until tomorrow! I’m going to go back and get it!” 
 Was he seriously going 2500 kilometers to Arizona? Eventually the two of them noticed Sousuke and the others. 
“Hn. What’s the matter with you?” 
“The exercise had ended. All 8 men were defeated” said the Team Leader’s Warrant Officer. 
Courtney’s eyes widened. 
“Hohou? That’s astounding. So we were training for that. You’ve really been wiped out by Sagara.” 
“No. If it were a real combat I would have been killed when I took down 3 men. I’m not yet back to normal condition.” Sousuke denied. 
He took out his belt kit, magazines, and communicators and started their maintenance. 
“What an extreme confidence” Lemon muttered, gazing at the back of Sousuke, who was efficiently lining up his equipment. 
“If you were in normal condition, you are saying that you would have annihilated all 8 of them in a real battle?” 
“Affirmative. If I can’t do that at least, I can’t fight with Amalgam” Sousuke answered without any malice. 
“That may be true. But, it seems that you are recovering leisurely.” 
“It’s Nickelo. One of the places that you mentioned. Because of that we’ve narrowed it down. This is it.” 
 On top of the crude desk there was a Notebook PC opened, Lemon displayed a number of diagrams. 
 It was a satellite image. There was a small town in Pochutla, South of Mexico, on the coast near Nickelo. There were no institutions standing out at first sight, it was a lonely place. Facing the sea was a large mansion. 
“It’s a satellite photo from 20 hours ago. Surveillance satellite of NATO---although it is a low resolution type, we managed to get a photo penetrated.” 
“Hm. How handy.” Courtney groaned peeping at the display from the side. 
“That’s why I said I was intelligent. I don’t cheat, I can win against you.” 
“Shut up. This and that are different!” 
 Interrupting Lemon’s head poking at Courtney, Sousuke inquired. 
“And then what about this mansion?” 
“This is actually the property of a billionaire. A Mexican called Mendoza who profited from IT. His face shows up once in a while in the Wall Street Journal, he doesn’t really use this place much. Yet there are capital funds being carried here. Take notice at the figures in the last year. His contract with the construction company and the agent, and look at the transfer of money in and out of the bank-” 
 After a little while, Lemon revealed a number of official documents and explained technically. The monetary circulation and laws were terms that Sousuke and the others could not understand. 
“In other words?” everyone aside from Lemon who had no idea of how money works said in unison.  
Having explained with pride, Lemon slowly answered in a dejected tone. 
“In other words- this mansion, in essence, is being used by someone who has not revealed their true self.” 
“Is it related to Amalgam?” 
“This ‘Special Seat’ is somewhat similar to the program in the outskirts of Namsak, in many different aspects.” 
“It might be gangs of Drug Cartels.” 
“Not so. There is too much security for a gang. Magnify the satellite photo.” 
 The mansion was magnified. The blurry form of people could be seen at that resolution. 
 This time everyone nodded. 
“I see. It’s secured.” 
 At the very least there were probably sixteen sentries carrying mobile automatic weapons. The others were empty handed giants. There were four units of light-armored vehicles equipped with Heavy Machine Gun Turrets. 
“What’s the time frame?” 
“Past 17:00 hours. It will be multiplied by dark. Roughly around one platoon. I think we can penetrate it in stealth.” 
“Impossible.”  Sousuke said. 
“These giants walking about as sentries are wearing trench coats. These are not humans. They are super compact Autonomous mobile ASes” 
“....these are the robot called Alastors right?” 
 While living in this camp Sousuke had told them all about Amalgam’s equipment and the details of his combat with them. 
 -But he had left out everything about Kaname. 
“Unless it is a powerfully special warhead or at least a 50 caliber class bullet you cannot take down these opponents. If needed, it will self destruct and scattered ball bearings. My unit also had difficulty with them.” 
“Hmm- But, then this is clearly an establishment of Amalgam then.” 
“Affirmative. There are still some problems.” 
 Sousuke pointed at the satellite image. 
“There are 6 containers on the premises. They look like storehouses, but they are camouflaged hangars for ASes.” 
“What did you say?” 
“It’s what Sagara said.” 
 Courtney nodded. 
“I saw this before at the weapons show in Nevada. The roof opens. Its construction is very similar.” 
“That’s it, Lt. Commander. If we were to include the equipment and ammunitions, two containers have one unit. Most probably three units.” 
 Lemon scratched his temples. 
“What about the type of unit? Is it a Savage?” 
“If this is an important institution of Amalgam, it won’t be those kinds of easy enemies. It’s probably a Codarl type.” 
“Those Lambda Driver equipped ASes...” 
“This is too extreme; there is no means of countermeasure. Even if we had several good pilots on M9s, it’s one unit that you can’t easily take down. And we have to be prepared to accept exterior damages.” 
 A gloomy silence hung over the place. 
“I give up. There are three of those monsters; we can’t even lift a finger.” 
“If that guy were here, it would not be difficult to take them down....” 
“That guy?” 
“Al. The only Lambda Driver equipped AS in Mithril’s possession.” 
“The 1st generation Al right. The ARX-7.” 
Lemon narrowed his eyes in sadness. He must have been thinking about “Al II”, the white Savage that had been left behind in Namsak- 
 When he thought about his physical and mental condition, the reason why Sousuke was attacked in Havi Oa Island was probably not related to the explosion of the Arbalest in Tokyo. There was no way that repairs could have been made to the destroyed unit. But as for the form of the Lambda Driver system-there was a possibility that the AI included in the core unit could 
have survived. And the only one in the world who was capable of operating that system was Sousuke. That would be the only logical reason as to why he was being targeted like a stray dog by Amalgam. 
 Of course there was the possibility that is was for revenge. He had managed to kill Gauron, Kurama, and a number of other Amalgam members. But he could not think of it like that. It seemed unnatural to purposely set things up with the DGSE and execute that kind of hasty attack. 
 There might still have been some other reasons. 
 Do they hate the information threat posed by Lemon? Was their command system in a state of chaos? Was it the individual motive of Leonard Testarossa? Or revenge from the remnants of Gauron and Kurama? 
Was all of it are intertwined to create a complex and complicated situation? 
 If he thought about it, there was no end. The initial suggestion, his relationship with Al, was the most fitting. 
“....No, it can’t be helped even if we think about a lost unit. Let’s think up a realistic operation.” Sousuke said, throwing out various doubts. 
 Lemon let out a sigh. 
“You say that. With this combat power, attack is impossible. Capturing the managers or the VIP is impossible. These subordinates of mine are important, I don’t want to send them out to face an enemy and not have them return alive.” 
“I did not ask you to go that far. I plan to do it alone.” 
“Again, you’re still like that- Enough with your lone wolf airs!” Lemon raised his voice and Lt. Commander Courtney knitted his brow. 
“Ah- shut up. You shriek like a girl.” 
“I’m not screaming!” 
“Shut up, you cheating bastard!” 
“The point. We just need to pile them up and deal with those FUCKING ASes one way or another right?” 
“Like I said, that’s not possible so it’s difficult!” 
“Hmph. No matter what kind of unit it is, if it doesn’t have a pilot then it’s a FUCKING piece of JUNK. We just have to trick the ASes and attack them. Before they move, we FUCK them with a 40mm shell.” Courtney said with a strange confidence. 
“An AS. But, I’m currently in a situation where my organization can’t support me. We can’t even get a single AS.” 
“Then it would be alright as long as we have an AS?” 
“Yeah. We can’t have a piece of junk like that in the countryside of South America or Namsak though.” 
“Hmm. Sergeant, what do you think?” Courtney asked Sousuke. 
“If it were to be an attack with an AS, we would need a 2nd generation which is a little silent and has maneuverability. Weapons control system and communications systems have to be at least the level of what is currently used. The ability of a comparatively simple to obtain Savage is insufficient.” 
 After the answer to his question it was clear that there was no way to obtain that kind of AS. They could infiltrate from the sea, they could settle it with C4 explosives. But there was an unreasonable amount of difficulty. There was very little hope for success- 
 However, Courtney nodded in agreement, alone, and said, “I see. Then we can do it.” 
 Then, from far away there was a strange sound echoing. A faint sound of an engine, an intermittent sound chattering the air. It was the sound of an aircraft- a helicopter. And it was getting near the camp. 
“It’s here.” 
 Looking at the dubious faces, Courtney said “follow me” and left the lodging house. Outside, the sound of the helicopter gradually increased and finally transfigured into an exploding sound floating around the camp. 
“Mr. Courtney, what is this---” 
“Just take a look.” 
Leaves flew through in the air, swirling around a thicket across the camp, shaken violently by a strong wind. In that direction the shape of a giant helicopter could be seen. 
 A box type unit coated in gray. A customized CH-53. A previous generation from the transport aircraft MH-67 Pave Mare which was used by Sousuke while in Mithril. Under the giant helicopter, there was a shadow of an Arm Slave hanging on the wire below it. 
 It had dark grey armor and solid limbs. Donning a down jacket, it looked like a man with short legs. 
 It was an M6 Bushnell. 
 In addition it was an update for the Special Forces with the latest A3 model, a type which was called a “Dark Bushnell”. Although not the next generation M9, it prided itself on its maneuverability, and for a short amount of time it could be silent with an electric driven engine. 
 It was better than the first model. Obtaining that unit was no simple matter- 
“Well, it was easy.” Courtney said to Lemon and the others whose mouths were gaping wide. 
“...then you mean, the important matter that you wanted to go to Arizona for was this?” 
“Hm, did I say something like that?” 
There was a shadow of a man disembarking from inside the helicopter’s hatch in the skies. 
 This was another old man. An old war buddy of Courtney’s, Colonel Roy Seals, who was previously with him in a drinking bout. A former high official in the American Navy, Sousuke could only remember him as a guest at the banquet who had sexually harassed Tessa. Originally he had a considerable position. 
 After taking down the AS the helicopter landed, Seals walked towards them immediately. He completely ignored Sousuke and Lemon, glancing here and there at the camp. And then he shouted at Courtney. 
“The documents were all taken care off! Well, where is Tessa?” 
“Well about that? She’s not here.” 
 At Courtney’s response, Seals fiercely turned his head stopped looking around. 
“What was that? Didn’t you tell me that she was waiting here. I bought the M6A3 here, with her nightingale wind and a traditional nurse outfit, nursing me-” 
“Sorry. I lied” 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 The main agenda of the online conference was the “correction” of the military power and supply balance in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Far East. 
 The Middle East accounted for a lot of interest in maintaining the status quo. In relation to the underground resources of Central Asia there was a need for a terrorist incident, while the Far East maintained the tension ensuring each nation enlarged their war funds. 
 The estimated number of deaths and damages were expected, in the long run it would turn out that the reports were positive. Their reports revealed a proactive and passive endorsement. 
 The “World Conquest” was already over- 
 The people of the world no longer noticed that fact. Of course, there was no need to notice it. This organization efficiently utilized funds, technology, and violence to have the power to get consent from the majority of the people. 
 The “World Conquest” was already over- 
 There was no need for all the fortune to fall under one hand. The carnivores in the Savanna didn’t have to eat the grass to decrease the amount of herbivores. What was most important was balance. 
 The “World Conquest” was already over- 
 The flow could no longer be changed. They themselves could no longer change. Not one of them understood the whole picture. The most important thing was that one not infuriate their superiors. And then they would continue with the flow. 
 No, how stupid. 
 The “World- 
“Mister Silver, are you listening” 
 At the end stage of the conference, one of the managers called out to Leonard in an irritated voice. Of course he had been listening, but he had been out of it for a moment. 
“Yes, what about?” 
“About the project. The scale of this problem, we would need the cooperation of each of you.” 
 The man who spoke to him in such a harsh voice was Mister Gold. Although it was an ironclad rule to address each other like that, Leonard already knew his nationality and real name. 
“As you say. As long as I can provide the information, I will share it with everyone.” 
“Then, how long will you be neglecting that girl. Do you also intend to finish the ‘Investigation’?” 
“My apologies. But, this approach could not detect the element.” 
“Still the ‘Organic Vegetable’ theory” 
 A number of people laughed at Gold’s cynicism. Leonard calmly carried a smile. 
“There is a demand for new ‘Black Technology’. Like the abstract case of the ‘Omni Sphere’. We want results.” 
“Is that so? Then I will give you enough results.” 
“I see. Then that might be the case” a man who was only a voice, snorted through the circuit line.  
In the tone of changing the topic, Gold said, “Then there is the information. There are no specifics, but the organization has to make sure about the whereabouts of your girlfriend. It’s about time that the place would no longer be safe.” 
“It’s something I’ve heard for the first time. We have increased the security.” 
 Of course he was not telling the truth. The observation satellite of NATO had been broken into from its inside- by someone who knew the system very well. Someone had taken a photograph at the greatest magnification of the mansion near Nickelo. Even the whitewashing relating to the funds. Although he didn’t know who, it seemed like a capable hacker. Although they 
knew that it was someone related to the French DGSE, they had not yet been captured. 
 Not only that. There was a continuous monitor from the net with the same kind of intrusions. There was the existence of a person who had secretly snatched the same information from the shelf. No, it was not a human. It was the work of a large scale Artificial Intelligence. 
 To be able to accomplish that feat, there was no mistake that it was from that submarine’s computer- the act of Dana. Even for Dana the first hacker’s identity and location had not been found, in any case what was needed was to hold still. 
 Just like that. The mansion could no longer be considered safe. 
“If it is the increase in security, we have already given you support. Three units of ‘1502’ and three units of ‘1059’ are already headed there” Mr. Gold said. 
“That would help. They also had a great result at Merida.” 
 There were a number of people who laughed at Leonard’s Cynicism. But inside he though, it’s finally here, what trouble, and clicked his tongue without anyone hearing. 
 Then after discussing the agenda of several security threats, the online conference ended. 
 When he left the meeting room built in the basement of the Mansion Sabina Refunio was waiting for him. 
“The unit has arrived.” 
“The ARX-8?” 
“Yes. Mister Kalium is also waiting.” 
“He’s Kalinin, right? Let’s go.” 
 Leonard left the mansion through a corridor, and headed for the helicopter landing field. Close to the landing field, 
components of an AS were stored on a pallet. In front stood Andrei Kalinin. 
 The shirt he took off was gray, and a gray coat was draped over his right arm. From Alaska, he would have traveled straight there like that. 
“What’s your impression of your first mission?” Leonard asked Kalinin. 
“Particular. What about the unit?” 
“That’s right. Just a moment.” 
 On top of the large pallet was the AS. Over the top of it was a tarpaulin sheet. That sheet took several people to uncover, and the AS underneath came into view. No matter how different the parts or armor, it looked extremely similar to Mithril’s 3rd generation AS, the M9 Gernsback. 
 It was a boring unit. 
“This is their trump card?” 
“Yes.” Kalinin answered with an expressionless face. 
“The outward appearance is different from the Arbalest, and used the test type parts of the XM9. This unit is an ordinary M9- I heard that they used the parts from the E series. ....Can I see the core of the Lambda Driver?” 
“Then, please have a look.” 
 Kalinin bowed, and signaled one of his men. Opening the armor at the back, it took a number of men to remove the hip armor, exposing the interior of the AS. Perpendicular to the cockpit, where originally the power source of the electrical equipment should have been, looked like a type of a large refrigerator. 
 Leonard, by chance, looked up at the frame of the AS, raising the unit’s hatch again. There was a cylinder of strong glass fixed in the buffer device. Inside the cylinder was a metallic brilliance filled with fluids. 
 The cylinder was the circuit of the Lambda Driver nucleus. If a power source was given, it would operate with the “fluid logic element” emitting rainbow-like lights like that of a DVD. This equipment was also installed on the Codarl and Behemoth, but the fluid processor in front of them had several times the capacity of the one made by Amalgam. 
“There is no mistake” Kalinin said. 
 Leonard touched the surface of the cylinder, and contemplated. 
 The real form of the circuit, the buffer system and the cooling system, the fiber optic cable on both ends of the cylinder, there was nothing strange about them. 
No, nobody knew. He thought carefully about the unit in front of him and that man’s will. While recalling that man and his unit he remembered Bani Morauta’s face and laughed with a sort of snorting.  
“Aah. Dispose of it.” 
“Understood.” Kalinin answered, and gave orders to his men. 
 After a few minutes, the power source of the captured unit was removed. They removed the joints of the limbs, and left it sitting like that. If you compared it to a car it was like they had detached the chase and removed the engine. 
 The cylinder was dismantled and destroyed. The fluid inside was scattered to the surrounding. The heart of the unit’s wreckage was washed away with buckets and a mop. 
 During the work, Kalinin looked up at the window of the third floor of the mansion. 
 And he thought that she was there. 
 That girl, Chidori Kaname, hid her pale face in the window. She had seen the arm slave being dismantled, and had seen that Kalinin was the supervisor. Before being seen herself, she had stepped back and hid inside of the mansion, away from the windows. 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
Clouds filled the southwestern skies. 
Thunder. The short sounds of thunder echoed.  
A storm is coming- 
He could feel the gloominess, and thought that a battle was being waged above. 
 A terrible atmospheric pressure shook the transport ship unforgivingly. 
 Upwards. Downwards. To the right. To the left. 
 This had continued for a number of hours already. But, having experienced bad weather like that before, it did not upset his stomach. 
 Most of the people on board were leaking out the voice of a dead man every time they spoke. The members of the Cargo Bay, who might have vomited at any time, shouted at the headset. 
“One Minute!!” 
 The landing point was drawing near. 
 Sousuke lightly grabbed the joystick in the cockpit, making the last confirmation. There was no problem with the mechanism of the parachute. Weapons Control? OK. Communications system? OK. Navigation? OK. Maneuver control? Ok. Everything was Ok. 
 Then shall we go? 
 A giant Cargo Hatch slowly opened in the rear of the transport ship. The violent storm ripped at the inside of the hangar. The M6A3 Dark Bushnell connected to the rail and started its engines. He started to prepare for the violent work ahead. 
 Sousuke drew a large breath, and informed the crew of the transport ship. 
“This is Uruz 7. Descending to target destination. Thank you for the escort. Uruz 7, starting descent.” 
“Roger!” the Captain of the transport ship shouted at the wireless radio. “We pray for your luck, Uruz 7!” 
 Fierce sparks scattered all around. 
 The lock in the rail was unsealed, and Sousuke’s M6 was released into the sky. 

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