Editors: MadTix, Foodpenguin
Someone called for my name. A gentle breath and flowy hair brushed my face. I slowly opened my eyes.
A girl with blue hair was gazing down upon me.
Her eyes glittered with a mysterious light as she looked at me, standing beside my head. Her blue hair draped on my body as if it were a curtain.
I became curious at the unfamiliar sight to behold. Was I dreaming? Or was I completely drunk?
The girl raised her arm and pointed to our side.
“Here, Lezirth. I prepared this for you. Look.”
And suddenly, all surroundings disappeared. Gravity was gone, too, and I was floating about in empty space.
I steadied my posture and looked to my side. The girl was there, holding my hand. In the cold, vacant space, I could feel nothing but the warmth from her hand.
What exactly was she?
“Look over there, Lezirth.”
Where she pointed, colourful lights flashed everywhere.There was a battle happening in open space. Destroyer-class ships fired their cannons with blinding flames, and quantum energy torpedoes exploded into bright lights. Many Alter-Armours mingled together into firefights and melee combat, and both sides were similarly equipped.
“The Federation and the Alliance?” I asked myself.
Suddenly, familiar shapes emerged from the clouds of Federation fleet. Kishin-class. The King of the North Star, Swan Grace, and Ladyhawk emerged. They stormed through the battlefield with speed unparalleled by the Alter-Armours, intending to quickly eradicate their opposition. Every time, however, one Alter-Armour got in their way.
One Kishin-class Alter-Armour, adorned with the golden light of dawn itself, was matched evenly against three of the Federation’s Kishins.
I was utterly astonished. It wasn’t possible. Dawnbringer was destroyed and its parts were handed over to the Alliance, and I had heard that they hacked it apart to transfer its pieces of the Alter Core to various Kishins.
Then what was that thing?
---Stand down, or be destroyed!
Kishin Dawnbringer (or something that looked like it) echoed its voice of power across space. Not only did the fleets become affected by it, I was able to clearly hear it from extremely afar. That voice… It was like Dawnbringer’s, yet different at the same time.
“Maybe it isn’t Dawnbringer? But they look the same!”
While I pondered on that question, the Dawnbringer-like Kishin armed itself with an Alter-Armour-use combat knife. Its shape was mostly that of a standard military issue knife, but its blade was adorned with a white painting of a man in the style of a Native painting. That picture, depicting a man standing at the top of a hill, was definitely familiar.
If Colorado was the one-in-a-billion blade for human use, Onondaga was the one-in-a-billion blade for the Alter-Armours. If it needed the blade… could it be?
And suddenly, Onondaga began changing its form.
Radiating a silver light, the blade transformed into a giant stream of pure energy. The Sacred Sword… it was Dawnbringer’s signature weapon. By resynthesizing the blade’s material into nanoscopic scales, it was possible to use the blade for many purposes. Using electron degeneracy pressure, the blade could be used to split apart any materials. It could also cut down any enemies that try to escape into the hyperspace, as if it were doing a quantum leap. Matter itself could be turned into antimatter to cause a huge blast of energy. The weapon was a god’s tool, capable of replicating godlike powers.
--Kishin Arts! Lion’s Roar!
Two eyes that sat on its shoulders, much like Dawnbringer, fired a blast of EMP. The pulse swept over the Federation fleet and its Alter-Armours.
--Ascend! Anguish of the Lion King!
And again, a dense storm of electromagnetic pulse swirled over the space previously swept over by Lion’s Roar. That was enough to destroy most of the fleet, and the Alter-Armours fell apart helplessly in the storm.
But wait, if he brought out the Sacred Sword and chained the Lion’s Roar into the Anguish of the Lion King…
The machine that was different from Dawnbringer, but could not be seen as anything else, lifted its left hand to reveal a black storm while readying the Sacred Sword with its right hand. When the black storm met with the dense hurricane of electromagnetic pulse, every object within it began collapsing into the center of the cloud.
--Kishin Arts! Dark Spiral!
“No! Everyone, run!”
I screamed into the open space. But no one could hear me speak. I knew that my body was not actually there. I must have been seeing a vision! But I… definitely knew the things to come next.
--Ascend! Ultimate Kishin Technique!
The Kishin that resembled Dawnbringer swung the Sacred Sword and cut the black storm. The quantised Sacred Sword slashed through the black area and transformed all particles in its way. The Kishin danced and repeatedly slashed.
I became afraid.
“Is he actually considering using Sole Power of Heaven and Earth on human beings?!”
That Kishin was just about to use Dawnbringer’s Ultimate Kishin Technique, ‘Sole Power of Heaven and Earth’!
It had an overwhelmingly great power, but it was difficult to use as it had to be built up using Dawnbringer’s other abilities before activation. Importantly, not only was it difficult to use, but its power was complete overkill in most situations. It was powerful enough to destroy an entire planet from five hundred light years away, so its procedure was well worth it.
I had believed that I was the only one capable of using it. Who else could be capable of using it?
The subconscious of the Alter-Armours detested the destruction of planets. One week ago, back when Tenseron was controlling Diablo in the Azoran System, Diablo refused to destroy planets despite having gone berserk from Dawnbringer’s Alter Core. Dawnbringer, and that Dawnbringer-like Kishin, too, could not have desired to destroy a planet.
And yet the pilot of that Kishin wielded that power. Aimed at humans, no less.
[Disappear, dogs of the Federation! Be grateful that your useless souls and bodies will be used to shine a light in this galaxy!]
The Kishin’s pilot used the communication link to sentence death to the Federation fleet. And then…
Dawnbringer’s final ability, Sole Power of Heaven and Earth activated.
First, a huge blast of energy exploded outward. Objects caught within boiled up from the electromagnetic pulse. They smashed inward from the gravitational field created by the Dark Spiral, and finally the Sacred Sword reversed the spin of their elementary particles. As the spin reversed and yet their mass was preserved, they became antimatter that annihilates one another when in contact with other matter. And soon, the reaction of antimatter and matter caused violent explosions.
At the same time, the sudden increase of gravity toward the center of the fleet did not let the waves of energy escape. The extreme gravity from the black hole consumed the explosions. Not even light escaped the grasp of the collapsing void at the center.
And thus the area became pitch black.
Yet the process so far had only created a black hole. It was only the beginning of the Sole Power of Heaven and Earth.
The Sacred Sword arced forward, aimed at the black hole.
--Limits of Infinity! Detonate!
Suddenly, the sphere of complete darkness began tearing apart. Energy that was not yet pulled into the center of the black hole struggled to break free. It was such a powerful force that the central mass in the black hole became unstable. Soon, the mass broke apart and released two lines of gamma-ray burst. It was forming a supernova.
If a nova is an explosion that evenly sprays a star’s energy and mass into space, a supernova is on a much greater scale that squeezes all energy out of a star. Rather than simply exploding, the constricting force of a black hole radiated forces that were several times faster and more powerful.
Consider black powder, which was used to fire old rifles such as the musket. When burnt in open space, small amounts of black powder were barely enough to harm a human being. However, when used in a gun to focus its power to propel a single bullet, its force was enough to pierce and kill a human.
Dawnbringer’s Ultimate Kishin Technique, Sole Power of Heaven and Earth was exactly like that.
Even the initial explosion was extremely powerful, as it was a reaction between antimatter and matter. On top of that, a black hole was placed within to collapse and focus the exploding energy into an area. Next, the pressurized energy simultaneously escaped from two points, causing an effect similar to a gamma-ray burst of a supernova. Any materials caught in the explosion underwent nuclear fusion and formed elements heavier than iron or nickel. Plasma iridium, osmium, uranium, and other elements expanded outward in near-lightspeed, accompanied with a violent electromagnetic storm.
As soon as the Federation fleet touched the aftermath of the gamma-ray burst, they disappeared without a trace. Humongous cruisers, carriers, everything melted down instantaneously, and so did any Alter-Armours that could not escape in time.
The power of the gamma-ray burst was focused enough to effectively annihilate anything within five hundred light years of range. Planets were no exception, and naturally there was no human technology that could withstand its might.
The Kishins of the Federation managed to avoid the blast on time, but they were nonetheless in awe of the horror that happened before them.
An Alter-Armour that can create an artificial supernova! There was only one Kishin that fit such a description.
[This cannot be! Aaaaaaaargh!]
One strike, and already forty percent of the fleet melted into nothingness. The rest of the fleet couldn’t have been safe either, despite avoiding a direct hit of the gamma-ray burst.
Not even the Letix Spaceloaders, which were several times hardier than the most powerful human battleships-- due to their composition being a hundred percent Letix cells, as opposed to partial like human ships-- could withstand the might of the Sole Power of Heaven and Earth.
[W-we must retreat!]
[Not a chance! If that really is Dawnbringer, then it has to go into a sleep state after using the Ultimate Kishin Technique! Now’s our chance to defeat it!] The pilot of The King of the North Star led the other Kishins forward, attacking the Kishin that used the Sole Power of Heaven and Earth.
As expected, the Kishin that resembled Dawnbringer went offline, having spent all of its energy. The golden light that radiated from within slowly dimmed, and the armour’s plating faded in colour. Not even Kishin Dawnbringer could safely wield the power of the Sole Power of Heaven and Earth; Dawn Corps had to keep a dedicated retrieval team for cases like these.
But there was no response from the Alliance. Other Kishins, like Diablo and Omerta, merely watched on. Was it because they were not familiar with Dawnbringer’s operation? No… that was not it. They simply did not need to defend the Kishin that resembled Dawnbringer.
The armour began changing colour. At the same time, chitinous plating formed on top the armour, and the Kishin that had resembled Dawnbringer began transforming into something else entirely. It suddenly grew a black wing. It enveloped around the Kishin with its grey feathers, and its transformation continued within.
Soon, the Kishin was replaced by the black winged, feminine Kishin, Tetragrammaton.
The Federation communication link was flooded with screams, sighs, and curses.
“Wh-what?! What is going on?!” I turned to the blue-haired girl.
She silently watched me as if my reaction had interested her, while combing down her overly long blue hair with her fingers. Her eyes were devoid of any emotion other than curiosity-- her eyes were that of a newborn puppy or duckling, attempting to understand what they were seeing. I briefly took refuge in them, away from the tragedy that went ahead.
But that was only temporary. How could I ignore it? At that moment, Dawnbringer--, no, that thing that had looked like Dawnbringer took away the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
“What’s different this time? Lezirth-- you used that same ability on the Letix whenever you could. Why are you sad about this?”
“Th-that’s true, but...”
“Letix and humans are different? Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“I won’t pretend that I’m a philanthropist for all living beings. But this is…”
Before I could finish my reply, the girl raised her arms and caressed my face. The warmth from her hands spread onto my face and restored energy to my body.
“I’m sorry, Lezirth. I thought you’d like it.”
“Sorry. It’s time, now.”
As I panicked, my consciousness drifted away once more.
My eyes jolted open in surprise.
I saw the ceiling of my hotel room.
W-what? It was a dream? Was it another one of those endings that go ‘It was all a dream~!’?
But that came to me as a relief. What a terrible nightmare! The Alliance had a Kishin that was Dawnbringer and then Tetragrammaton, and it used the Sole Power of Heaven and Earth to destroy forty percent of the Federation fleet? What a stupid nightmare! But, that was a relief; it was just a nightmare. Yep. Something like that has to be a nothing but a dream. Thinking about it in retrospect, nothing about that dream seemed realistic.
I sighed. What did I do to deserve having such a stupid dream? Did I really get that disappointed at the Federation?
‘Because they erased my history and disbanded the Dawn Corps? But whoever was responsible for all of that couldn’t still be alive… and back then, I…”
I wasn’t happy at all.
So… really, I should have forgotten all about it, and I should have focused on relaxing as much as possible for my vacation.
And with that thought I tried to get up, then felt a gentle breath blowing on my cheeks. I realized that my arms seemed to be stuck underneath something.
I turned my head to my side and saw Sergeant Aroha, asleep right on top of my arm. Well, being ‘on top of my arm’ was a bit of a misnomer. My arm was wrapped around her thin waist… So, I suppose I was hugging her in my sleep, in a way.
Someone else rustled around and wrapped her arms around my waist. I turned around to look at my other side… and Ensign Meihowa was there, hugging me and using my chest as her pillow.
Okay, I take it back. It was actually a ‘dream-in-a-dream’ ending, huh? Or a beginning of a new nightmare?
* * *
I’d like to say first that I am mostly incapable of being drunk enough to fall unconscious. My body could withstand more than thirty G in a centrifuge machine, even without using any of my psionic powers. If my arms and legs were to be cut off by any means, they could grow back with enough medical attention and nutritions.
I could not have possibly lost my mind due to alcohol.
Other drugs? Just as unlikely. The reason for my psionic powers came from my body’s resistance to anaesthetic chemicals in the first place. After much effort to take away consciousness and pain from my body, I had stumbled upon my own psionic powers.
Then, the last probable reason was that blue-haired girl, but… doesn’t that mean I’m going crazy?
I got slightly afraid of that thought.
Honestly, though, the scariest part was this situation where I had found myself.
… I didn’t do anything bad to this position, I hoped.
I checked that Sergeant Aroha was sleeping once again. She was wearing nothing but her tank top and lace lingerie, breathing down on my cheeks with a heavy smell of alcohol. And even that felt nice, combined with her nice scent. Wasn’t there a study that said liking someone’s scent had to do with sexual attraction to them?
Sergeant Aroha’s breasts rippled as she wriggled around in her sleep.
Whoa, this bed! How is it so soft? How could they let her breasts bounce up and down from moving around a little?!
I quickly looked away from her, putting me back in view for Ensign Meihowa. Her silver hair and black wings drooped down as she slept on my chest while embracing me tightly. I felt something push up against my body, which, uh, well..
‘What do you think it is? They’re breasts.’
Right. There was something that definitely couldn’t have been anything but breasts pushing up against me. O-oh, gee. I felt as if every one of my cells became a scanner as they scanned through Ensign Meihowa’s body. Only those parts of my body, of course.
I… I had to get up. I couldn’t figure out how to get up quietly without waking the girls up. Teleport? No, the casino hotel had psionic disruptors everywhere. It could cause hyperspace corruption in this area. I was just about ready to take that risk if needed.
What about Admiral Luise? Where was she? Did she not come back during nighttime? If she saw us, only tragedies would await me in the future.
Wait… wouldn’t it end in tragedies if the girls get up now, too?
First, I tried to pull my arm out from beneath Sergeant Aroha. Carefully, slowly, I moved my arm cautiously without waking her up.
Sergeant Aroha kicked up and placed her leg right on top of my arm. Her leg wasn’t fully extended so she hadn’t touched Ensign Meihowa at all, but… what the hell? Thanks to her leg getting on top of my arm just as I pulled it away from below her body, my hand… my hand got right between her thighs. It’s not my fault even if my fingers are stuck touching her thighs! I-it’s not like I’m perverted or anything!
I heard the sound of skin sliding against silk. I felt my arm come in contact with something silky.
Hmm… There was a poem in ancient times on Earth that went…
‘Tonight, too, the stars skimmed along the wind.’
I would fix that to read it this way instead:
‘Today, too, lace panties skimmed along my arm.’
Wah! This isn’t the time to plagiarize some old poem! I have to get up before things get worse!
With that thought, I continued to cautiously pull my arm away. The process of pulling my arm out from between Sergeant Aroha’s legs made my heart beat faster than it would if I sprinted as quickly as I could. I began to sweat. My intent was only to move my arms out, but from another point of view I was feeling around her thighs by putting my hand in between them. If I were to turn my wrist around a little, I would have been able to make this into a case of harassment.
And sadly, at times like these, I was but a normal man. I would be lying to say that I felt nothing from finding myself in bed with two beautiful ladies. At the same time, however, looking at Sergeant Aroha’s sleeping face did not make me feel like using her to fulfill my desires in any way.
Spirit away from the material realm! I silenced my inner desires and managed to pull out my arm!
As soon as I pulled my arm away, Sergeant Aroha moved her legs back in their original position. After all that trouble, she moved away on her own?!
...What did I waste all my time for…?
‘Tsk. If I knew this would happen, I would have stayed still. Then I would have been able to enjoy them for a bit longe-...’
No, no, no way, no way! That thought wasn’t my own, but of some evil child resting in my head.
My next problem was Meihowa.
Though my problem with Sergeant Aroha stopped at an arm, Ensign Meihowa’s case was that her head was resting on my body. If she moved away slightly, then she was in the right position to use my arm as her pillow. Then if she continued to sleep that way… hmm, it’s almost as if we were lovers. To think that this icy cold Ensign could be using my arm as her pillow… I-I don’t care about that! My head was being assaulted with strange thoughts from all around.
The more critical problem was that she was hugging be from beside, locking my leg down with her own leg. I knew that the situation was only going to get worse over time. I immediately grabbed the edge of the bed and lifted my upper body. Ensign Meihowa’s head slid down from my chest, but that likely wasn’t enough to wake her up.
...But then, by sliding down from my chest, her head landed directly on top of my femoral arteries, right above the quadriceps femoris muscles.
Pop quiz: what’s between the quadriceps femoris muscles? It’s exactly what you think it is.
Ensign Meihowa’s gentle breaths were brushing over… exactly what you think it is!
No, no one’s usually sensitive enough to feel anything from gentle breaths, but I, in that moment, I had become the most sensitive thing in existence. Every time Ensign Meihowa breathed in and out, her breaths slid over exactly what you think it is, and…
The story ends here.
I immediately got up and showered and changed into a new set of clothes.
By the time I finished changing, Sergeant Aroha and Ensign Meihowa woke up.
“Ugh… wah, my head. What happened yesterday?”
“No clue. Hangover?”
Sergeant Aroha looked perfectly fine, but Ensign Meihowa was frowning as hard as she could. She realized that she was in her underwear and attempted to hide behind her own hands, but she soon gave up. “Ah, whatever!” She rolled her body up in the bedsheet and lied down on the bed. It seemed like her hangover was a bigger problem than her pride or embarrassment as a lady.
“Are you okay like that? Should I fix you up?”
Ensign Meihowa nodded.
I placed a bottle of mineral water on a table beside the bed. “You might lose about five percent of your body’s water, so hydrate yourself as soon as I’m done. Got it?”
“Huh? What are you doing?”
I placed my two hands on her body. Combining scanning and targeted teleportation, I removed the remaining blood alcohol in her system. Though, that got rid of of a lot of water in the process, too.
Ensign Meihowa became wide-eyed. “Whoa, what did you do? My body feels so light!”
“Your liver and your ability to regenerate might be slightly damaged right now, so don’t move around too much. Oh, should I transfer some of my medical nanomachines to you?
I opened the bottle of water and passed it to her. Ensign Meihowa took it from me and stared at me in awe.
“You have an ability to stop hangovers? Awesome!” Sergeant Aroha clapped. “I guess I can start getting piss-drunk every single day without worries!”
“Uhm, n-no, that’s a little…”
We must have gone too far when we decided to get drunk and forget about Sergeant Aroha’s sad history with her father. Particularly, I was very afraid of what might have happened while I was knocked out. I also did not enjoy the way she put it-- ‘piss-drunk’-- so I preferred to avoid doing that in the future.
“Hey, what about Luise? She didn’t come back?”
Meihowa and Aroha asked as they changed behind a curtain.
“Y-yeah, I was wondering that.”
What if Admiral Luise had come back while we were knocked out on bed, and she got so shocked and disappointed in us that she decided to leave us forever? ‘Lezirth! I’m so disappointed in you!’ My head played out a soap opera where Admiral Luise said that as she walked away from us.
No… never! That wasn’t possible. If something like that had happened, then I would have definitely remembered it. Wait, before that, how did I get drunk when my body doesn’t allow that without my will?
Thinking that, I turned on my PDA. But there were no messages or anything else from Admiral Luise. I decided to reach her from my own end instead.
“Luise? Where are you?”
On the screen for a video chat was Admiral Luise-- thick dark circles underneath her eyes made her look like a panda. She was sipping coffee from a can.
“W-what in the world? Luise, where are you? What happened?”
[Oh, it’s nothing. I was afraid that our current budget wouldn’t be enough to purchase Colorado and Rabbitte, so I had been making more money.]
“What? Then you’ve been gambling all night by yourself?!”
Casinos offered much better risk-return tradeoff than, say, the lottery, but that still meant that there was a great risk. The winning chances were skewed just enough such that the casino would be able to profit in the long run. Thus, by the law of large numbers, casinos were guaranteed to win more than they lose over long periods of time.
Admiral Luise may have been able to win a huge sum of money on the first day, but that could have easily been beginner’s luck. She couldn’t possibly rely on gambling as a stable source of money.
“Y-you’ve done enough. Please come back.”
[Yeah… I’m so tired. I’ll be back soon. Phew, I managed to win five hundred million credits, but any more is too much effort.]
[Can you believe this? That dealer kept on asking me to join something called ‘Universal Poker Championship’, and the hotel people kept asking if I wanted a suite room instead… what do I do?]
When I looked behind me, I noticed that Ensign Meihowa and Sergeant Aroha, now in exercise jerseys, were staring at me blankly.
She’d been winning five hundred million credits while we were getting drunk and getting knocked out? And she managed to win an entry into Universal Poker Championship, the holy haven of professional gamblers in the universe?
Admiral Luise was truly the scariest woman.
* * *
Thanks to Admiral Luise, we upgraded our room to a hotel suite.
After the hotel workers transferred us to the suite room, they wished us to continue having an enjoyable time at the casino. It was a silent challenge by the hotel to recoup their losses by encouraging the winners to stay around longer. Though we were planning on staying here for our full vacation regardless. It was an obvious trap, just like the free margaritas given out during the day, just like the cheap entry into circuses and musicals around the casino. But it wasn’t a bad feeling; it was the true face of this industry, practiced and practiced since its conception to achieve perfection.
The suite room was much larger than our family-use room, and the beds were separated into three different bedrooms. And each of them had an automated massage chair.
Admiral Luise finished showering and sat down on a massage chair, still in her bathrobe, and fell asleep in seconds. She seemed peaceful in her sleep.
“I never understood when Admiral Luise Maynard was hailed as a legendary hero. At least Lezirth Dawnbringer had personally displayed his prowess in the battlefield, a leader among warriors… But what’s so great about a commander at the back doing nothing but giving orders away from the fight?… And so I thought, some time ago.” Ensign Meihowa softly spoke as she inspected Admiral Luise, pointing at her as if she were a mythical being not to behold lightly. “I have no words. Isn’t she just too amazing?”
“Y-yeah. Maybe Luise is the most dangerous lady in the galaxy?” Sergeant Aroha agreed.
I shrugged and proposed our next move. “Let’s leave Admiral Luise to rest by herself. As for us, let’s go out and do a little exercise and get all the alcohol out of our system!”
We quietly left the room. We went to the hotel’s fitness club to play tennis. I played against both Aroha and Meihowa at the same time, but I was still winning by a significant margin.
“Stop using psionics!” Ensign Meihowa grumbled, wiping sweat off of her face.
I grinned. “Not using any!”
“Oh you~ Are you seriously trying your best to win against girls?” Sergeant Aroha complained just as much.
They were in their training jerseys, but they could not hide their womanly curves; other guys around the tennis court were frequently giving them a glance. I didn’t feel too bad about it. The girls weren’t wearing revealing clothes, and I somehow felt happy that I was the one enjoying a game of tennis with them at the moment.
“Aren’t you gonna be just as angry if I lost on purpose?”
“Not at all! Lose on purpose! Go, fail right now!”
“Heh. Hey, hey, let’s not over do it. After drinking so much yesterday… even if I got rid of the hangover for you, your body’s still not fully recovered. You should exercise just enough to get your blood flowing.”
And suddenly, my PDA rang. Mayer had requested a video chat with me.
I excused myself from the ladies and answered the call outside of the tennis court.
[Ah, uh, you see… our friend insisted that Rabbitte and Colorado are very much real. He said that the prices were his own assumptions and could give me up to thirty percent off, and he was completely unwilling to sell it for two and a half million.] Mayer almost seemed to be in the grip of a nervous breakdown.
Strangely, I could see a line of people behind him. What in the world? Was he actually talking to us from a telephone booth? Did he not have his personal computer to call me with? I was once again reminded of the huge economic disparity between Federation planets and autonomous planets.
“Thirty percent off of one and a half billion is… one billion and five hundred thousand? That’s really isn’t enough, considering that we hired you to do better.”
We would have been able to negotiate that much on our own.
Mayer agreed to my complaints and nodded. [Damn it, I know that! But two and a half million is just not enough! Can’t you raise the offer a little more?]
We did have enough to raise the offer. Admiral Luise had foreseen this issue and raised our budget to five hundred million credits. But the entire sum of money was owned by Admiral Luise, and I had no right to to negotiate for a new price using her money.
And if I raised the offer, the commission was sure to raise with it. Federation standards took effect, so even if we used the standard commission percentage, the fee would be way over two and a half million. I suddenly became aware that the man might have been attempting to pull a scam on me. Still, the final decision was up to Admiral Luise. I had no reason to decide on the spot.
“She’s asleep for the moment, but I’ll make sure that she knows.”
[Oh, okay. I’ll contact you later, then.] Mayer ended our call.
Hm. It seemed that Rabbitte and Colorado weren’t going to return to our hands very easily. Of course, if Admiral Luise continued her winning streak, paying for the full billion and a half would be trivial, but… even if she hadn’t been using her psionic powers, was it right to keep earning money that way? Earning a lot of money without hard work is great, yes, but it wasn’t something to be blindly happy for.
We finished our exercise and returned to our room. Admiral Luise was still sitting in the massage chair, sleeping comfortably.
What a great spot that was. Everything about our room got a lot better after the upgrade, but that specific spot was the best in this room. If this were a plane, it would have been the first class seat.
“Luise looks pretty comfortable, there.”
“She looks so cute while asleep. Like a little angel!”
Meihowa and Aroha blankly stared at Admiral Luise as she continued to sleep. And rightfully so-- with all signs of sleepiness and fatigue gone from her face, only a content smile was left on her face. She looked like she belonged on the cover of some furniture advertisement.
Being able to fall asleep so glamorously without intending to do so was simply cheating. What if she knew that we were coming back, and she set up the lighting, practiced her expression, and coordinated the rest of the room so we’d be amazed at her? I almost seriously considered that for a moment.
“Alright, we’ll nap for a bit too. When Admiral Luise wakes up, we can start moving as one again.”
Purchasing Rabbitte and Colorado was our highest priority, but we were all on vacation. I wanted to enjoy our time together whenever possible. I wrote my thoughts down on a small note on a table next to Admiral Luise, and then I went into my new bedroom.
Now that my room was separated from the ladies’ rooms and had a bathroom and a shower room all to myself, I was delighted… my ass! It’s not delightful in the slightest! I’m perfectly happy waking up and finding myself between two girls! I’m honestly glad about it! And now there’s no chance of it ever happening again…
...Whoa, what was I thinking? No, no way! I can’t let that same thing happen ever again!
I stopped this train of thought and turned off the lights before jumping on the bed. Perhaps from all the alcohol left over from last night, I fell asleep very soon after laying down.
“Sweet dreams, Lezirth.”
Someone gave a kiss on my forehead.
No, that wasn’t possible. That must have been my imagination.
...I hoped so.
* * *
Suddenly, the lights in my room turned back on.
I snapped out of my dreams from the glaring light.
“Hi, Lezirth. Did you sleep well?”
A girl with short brown hair gazed down at me from above.
Hmm… I felt as if I had a similar experience like this before. The girl back then was a mysterious girl with blue hair, but it was Admiral Luise this time.
“Luise? Are you okay? How are you feeling?”
“Yep, I’m fine. That massage chair is amazing! I don’t feel tired at all anymore. Should we buy one?”
“Even if we buy one, we’re back to being soldiers after the vacation. It’s not like we can put one in our barracks.”
“Y-yeah. It still doesn’t feel real to me.” Admiral Luise offered a hand to pull me out of my bed. Her face turned red. “Hey, is it okay if I hold your hand?”
“You’re holding my hand right now.”
“No, I mean… I can feel how real everything is this way. We’ve been in cold sleep for a hundred and twenty years, and now we’re here.”
“Yes, uh, if you read the note… should we contact Mayer right now?”
“Hmm? No, not now. If we respond that quickly to someone who messes up a simple negotiation like that, we’re going to look like we desperately need Rabbitte and Colorado. If we increase our budget on the fly, there won’t be an end to it later.” Admiral Luise made a wry, evil grin. S-scary! Maybe a little cool, but scary!
I got up and prepared to leave. Meihowa and Aroha were waiting for us outside.
“How are we going to have fun today?”
“How about we go surfing at the beach?”
We chatted cheerily as the elevator descended. We were well off thanks to Admiral Luise’s amazing ability to play cards, and our vacation was far from over. We had a lot of time to have fun in the upcoming days.
But when we returned to the hotel lobby, we were faced with something that inevitably put a frown on our faces.
It was that group of protesters.
As expected, standing in the center of the group was William Mayer, shouting with a loudspeaker in his hand. At that moment, I really, really wanted to run up to him, take away his loudspeaker, slap him in the face, and yell ‘Get back to negotiating, you lazy bum!’
I wasn’t crazy enough to do that in front of the protesters, however. Moreover, their words caught my attention.
“Take a look! The Federation is already a sinking ship!”
They were holding up an old and battered LCD panel television (don’t get fooled by old science fiction movies where they use holograms instead of physical monitors. No one likes their screens being see-through).
On the screen was a video of an unnatural stream of light in space, filmed from a planetary observatory.
I felt my body get drained of all colours.
It was a gamma-ray burst.
The television screen now displayed a news broadcast.In the screen was a slightly obese, bald man and a professional-looking lady with square glasses sitting behind a table.
[Hello everyone, I am Erwin of Critik News Report, your most accurate source of news.]
[And I am the analyst, Alesana.]
[A gamma-ray burst has been observed in the Torad System. Our experts have analyzed its trajectory and concluded that it originated from the Oden System. What do you think?]
[Size, power, and composition, all point to Dawnbringer. It appears to be from Dawnbringer’s Ultimate Kishin Technique as within our records.]
The analyst concluded as such.
[Are you sure that this is a gamma-ray burst?]
[When space expands naturally, there usually is nothing but lighter elements like hydrogen. Lighter elements like hydrogen undergo nuclear fusion to elements such as iron and nickel and stop, as they are stable at that point. Meanwhile, elements that are heavier than iron and nickel go through nuclear fission and become lighter elements, eventually stabilizing at iron just like others. You’ll only find heavier elements at the cores of planets, where there’s enough pressure and heat energy to form and maintain them, which then supernovas distribute them around the galaxy.]
[If that is true, and if that observation was a gamma-ray burst, are you saying that we’ll find newly formed heavier elements?]
[That’s right. We’re observing massive quantities of heavier elements such as iridium and osmium in the gamma-ray burst. The composition matches the records we have for Dawnbringer’s ‘Sole Power of Heaven and Earth’ at about fifty percent accuracy.]
The reporter named Erwin burst out in a hysteric laughter in the middle of the analyst’s speech. Doesn’t a fifty percent match also mean a fifty percent mismatch? Not only that, I recalled being able to control the elemental composition of Sole Power of Heaven and Earth. If iridium was lacking I added more of that, and I sometimes used pure gold for giggles.
But wait… Sole Power of Heaven and Earth?
I returned my attention to the news report. The reporter was still laughing, despite it being a live broadcast. Perhaps it was just because the station wasn’t as professional as the Federation’s official stations; the equipment was lacking, and even the reporters seemed very strange. How could he laugh in a situation like this?
[Then couldn’t it be a natural supernova? Dawnbringer has been lost for over a hundred and twenty years. How could its Ultimate Kishin Technique…]
[There are no observations or predictions in the Oden System for a supernova in that area. Most of all, the gamma-ray burst is too small in scale to call it off as an actual supernova. This is undoubtedly Kishin Dawnbringer’s Ultimate Kishin Technique, Sole Power of Heaven and Earth.]
[The Federation is vehemently denying that notion.]
Just as she tried to reply, one of the assistant directors jumped into view. In the midst of panic, the screen abruptly changed into a different perspective.
On the new screen, there was a young man likely in his twenties, sporting a long coat and tidy black hair. Beside him was a blonde girl much younger, possibly a teenager, who looked like she had never had a haircut in her entire life. And there were translucent, sparkling objects poking out from her extremely long hair that connected to various computer ports beneath her.
On the bottom of the screen, a subtitle popped up.
--Breaking news! A speech from the chief military commander of the Alliance!
...Huh? That boy and the girl? But the guy looks barely in his late twenties and the girl is just a little kid!
I had an uncomfortable deja vu as I thought that to myself. Looking younger than the job title suggests, boy, girl… that setting matched the past of Admiral Luise and I. Although, the guy was too old to be the past me, and the girl was too young to be the past Luise.
The man in the screen began speaking.
[Greetings, free people of the universe. I am the Admiral of the Transhuman Alliance Combined Fleet, Lezirth Dawnbringer.]
[And I am the chief of the Alliance, Luise Maynard!]
When I heard the man and the girl, I couldn’t help but chuckle.
I felt like I had become insane.
Not only that, they were both one rank higher than their originals!
[This may be confusing, but we are the Children of Letix, thus the first generation of the Replicants. We have the ability to regenerate our genes in order to resist against aging.]
[We may look very young, but don’t ever forget that we’re a lot older than we look.]
The girl held the tips of her white dress and glamorously curtseyed toward the camera.
The man that called himself Lezirth continued. [The Federation was not too pleased with the fact that we were Replicants. They had planned to bury us with the Letix fleet, should another massive fleet come to our doorsteps.]
[This is the story from a hundred and twenty years ago.]
[That day, we survived a brutal battle and went into cold sleep to recover from the effects of hyperspace corruption.]
[Overuse of psionic powers leads to hyperspace corruption, so the Federation rules of engagement enforced going into cold sleep after extended use of psionic abilities.]
[But the Federation’s plan was to remove us from power while we were helpless in our cold sleep. However, the Dawn Corps, also called the Lezirth’s Guards, discovered their plans and fought with the Federation’s army to rescue Admiral Luise-- as she had been before becoming Chief Luise-- and I. We were ejected into space while we were still in our cold sleep. By the time we had woken up, the Dawn Corps had already perished from their battle to save us from the Federation.] The man tightly gripped onto the podium in front of him. [Everyone, you are all being played for fools by the Federation. They are causing needless wars against aliens, the Elcro and the Asa, to fuel their military production and use wars as an excuse to destroy democracy. Wake up, friends! Do not play into the Federation’s dirty hands!]
[Well, even if you don’t bother, the Federation is already over. We just destroyed most of the Federation’s fleet by ourselves. We have Kishin… no, we have a Hyper-Kishin that surpasses any other Kishins in the world. If you want to die, then stay in the Federation. We’ll destroy each of your planets, one by one. Want to know my motto? Dictators aren’t sinners. The real sinners are the ones who bow to the dictators, the weak civilians that do nothing. They’re worse than a trillion dictators.]
[The Federation’s fleet has been destroyed in the Oden System by Kishin Dawnbringer--, no, now the Hyper-Kishin Duskbringer. In addition, we have taken over Kishin Swan Grace. Remember, the Federation is not worth risking your life to protect it. Stand up and fight!]
[And you won’t be able to protect it anyway!]
The transmission ended with the last bickerings of the little girl named Luise Maynard.
That speech was in no way a proper announcement from seasoned chiefs of a military. At least that man who called himself Lezirth tried to choose his words carefully, but that little girl really went all out with her emotions.
But that seemed effective nonetheless. If they calmly talked and treated it like a political speech, then it would have been difficult to strike fear into its viewers.
They’re Lezirth Dawnbringer and Luise Maynard? Then who the hell were we?
I thought about that blue-haired girl.
That vision was neither a simple dream nor a hallucination. Then, who was that girl? How was any of it possible?
I was at a loss for words. I looked at Admiral Luise in silence. She was also wide-eyed, staring at the LCD screen intently.
Our short vacation had come to an end.
And now… a battle was coming to us.