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Full Metal Panic! - Volume 9 - Chapter Pr


Prologue 
 
 
The morning sun was shining from a small window in the ceiling. 
In an old car in the corner of a repair shop a girl was facing three notebook PCs. 
Various extensive numerical values appeared on the bulky screen. She took it all in at the same time as she busily scrolled. She started to get irritated because she needed to keep switching back and forth between windows. In order to speed the process up she would have needed three screens. At that rate, she didn’t know how many more days it would take to start her work.  
Inside the repair shop, a miserable unit- the body frame of an Arm Slave- was being tuned as it hung isolated in the corner. 
It had no arms or legs. Not even armor. On the miniscule excuse of a head there were no sensors, so the machine guns could not be loaded. Originally it was installed with a low temperature nuclear battery called a Palladium Reactor; now, it was hollow. 
 
 
The screen continued to spit out information. 
The girl greedily absorbed the information, tapping on the keyboard at the same time. Using a programming language called BAda, she pounded in the necessary instructions. 
Nimbly, precisely. 
Compared to the traditional computer language it was a highly efficient high-level language. 100 lines of commands in traditional language only took a few lines to convey. 
As she pounded on the keys, inside of her head she was talking to someone. 
Good Afternoon. You seem to be dead already. 
 
You’ve already felt complete defeat. Everything ended, the lights turned off. You’re thinking that you’ve been released from the battle. No, you’re not thinking. Right now you are the same as dirt. As dirt you don’t think of anything. As dirt you don’t feel sadness. 
 
However, that moment of darkness will end. 
Everyone thinks that you are in ruins. But I don’t think so. 
The interface that you were called was destroyed, but right now, I am reconstructing that. 
 
Your heart still remains. 
As you run on the infinite circuit of the quantum beat, with those reassuring vestiges, I can feel it somewhere- 
 
The angle of the sunlight from the ceiling window had changed. 
 
There was not enough oxygen going to her brain. She took a deep breath, massaging her stiff shoulder. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Now her brain did not have enough sugar. She bit into the chocolate bar that was on her desk and drank up some cold milk coffee. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And then pounded on the keys once more. 
One line, and another line. All the while getting close to “Him”. 
The morning sun changed to the setting sun, and she realized that her work was nearing completion. She turned to the woman who was reading in the corner of the repair shop. 
“Electricity please.” 
The woman closed the book and got up.  
A unit was installed to the side of the incomplete Arm slave- it was connected to an electronic machine the size of a refrigerator. From it hung a large lever on the corner of the wall.  
The lights in the factory flickered, supplying electricity to the unit. 
“Are you finished already?” the slim woman with black hair asked. 
“Right now it’s in the middle of testing. It will take a little more time.” 
“Is that so? If there’s something you want just say it.” 
“Sure.” 
The test would take half a day. 
The girl adjusted the program, measuring the unit’s responses, and then made more adjustments. Getting tired, she silently bit into a club sandwich. After taking a nap she resumed her work. 
The morning sun in the ceiling windows changed again into the setting sun.  
Finally, she said, “It’s done.” 
The last push- she hit the enter key. 
There was a flickering on the screen when the unit connected. Letters started to appear in the window. 
(e....e....) 
The girl had not touched the keyboard. It was the output from the unit connect to the Notebook PC. 
<e...es..escape...immediately. Repeat...recommend to abandon unit and escape immediately.> 
She read the words on the screen as more appeared. 
<Thanks, sergeant. Good luck.> 
Only the engine and cooling system reverberated in the repair shop, enumerating the unrelated danger. Most probably, just before the unit had lost its functions, it had tried to display that information. 
<............> 
The girl waited a moment. “He” already recognized a change and had started to sort out its current status. 
<...Where do we come from?...what are we?...where are we going?> 
What a strange question. 
-Where do we come from, what are we...where are we going. Was this intricate information depending on something? Or was he dreaming? 
The connection of the Notebook PC started to transmit the protocol. The connection was already complete. All the necessary tests had been performed before he had woken up. 
There was a read-out in another window; a pseudo “Mental state” was displayed in a colorful 3-dimensional graph. 
The red region on the graph turned yellow. The violent undulation of mountains and valleys became the flat shape of a basin. Coming from the mental state of a battle, it moved to a warning state of looking for the enemy.  
It was probably because that he thought he was in the hands of the enemy. 
She joined the fingers of both her hands, then lightly typed a salutation. 
[--Hello Al. I’ve been looking for you.] 
This guaranteed the silence of the Artificial Intelligence. There were no more signals transmitted. 
Clever guy. He won’t talk so easily. 
“We are allies, this is a safe place”, it would be difficult to establish that.  
But an hour of patience continued, and then the artificial intelligence showed some reaction. 
Three words of blunt reply. 
<Report the situation.> 
Behind the girl, the black haired woman watching over her shoulder let out a conservative smile. 
“What’s the matter?” the girl asked. 
“It’s the splitting image of its master,” she replied. 
 


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