Editors: MadTix, Foodpenguin
The old shopkeeper handed over Colorado and Rabbitte to us for free.
Rabbitte’s irises changed their shape into two question marks. Admiral Luise asked, “Wh-why would you do that? These are worth one and a half billion-- no, you said you wouldn’t sell it for any price!”
The old man shook his head. “I’ve never meant for these treasures to gather dust in my display case for eternity. Admiral Luise, Vice Admiral Lezirth, you are the people that these treasures were waiting for all along.”
The man reached for his necklace. The necklace opened up, revealing a small hologram chip within. The chip played a holographic picture of a middle-aged man, bearing a befuddled expression as he carried a young boy in his arms. The middle-aged man was in the uniform of the Dawn Corps. The mark of a breaking dawn and a sword-- that was the symbol of the Dawn Corps.
“They are my father and my grandfather.”
“Hmm?” I returned my attention to him.
The old man gently opened his eyes with his fingers. His aged, focusless irises had golden, translucent, and sticker-like attachment. “I also am a Replicant.”
“But that doesn’t...”
“A cross between a human and a Replicant, to be specific, but I was still a Replicant by law. So, when I was young, I was made to put these in my eyes.” The old man’s cane began violently shaking in his hands. “Not only that, the Dawn Corps’ existence had been written out of existence.”
“What do you mean?”
“Humanity could not accept the great achievements of the Dawn Corps. No, they wanted to convince the world that humanity itself had done all those achievements, rather than relying on the inferior Replicants, who should have been the lowly tools for humans. That was their reasoning.”
“But how could they have done that? There should have been many people who knew the truth! How could they write them off, just like that?”
I became curious. After the countless battles between the Federation and the Letix, only the Dawn Corps had remained in stable numbers. It began with only Kishin Dawnbringer as the sole member, but as the other groups were nearly wiped out after each battle, the survivors gathered into the Dawn Corps.
Sometime during the latter half of the war, the Dawn Corps had grown large enough to nearly equate to the definition of the Federation military. What could they have done to change history to forget the existence of such a powerful group? Even worse, this hadn’t occurred thousands of years ago, but it was merely a century ago.
“I do not know the details myself, but I have heard that a powerful mind-control was involved. The Alliance’s Lezirth Dawnbringer and Luise Maynard were speaking the truth in that regard, though clearly not about their identities.”
A power user to that degree… But the notion of altering the minds of the entirety of humanity was at an absurd scale, and even if such power existed, it should have created a disastrous level of Hyperspace corruption around the universe.
But it wasn’t the time to be asking questions. If I didn’t rescue Sergeant Aroha soon…
“B-but, before you go…” The old man rummaged around his belongings for a camera. “M-may I take a picture of you, sir?”
I didn’t know what to do. The old man looked on with very eager eyes.
I remembered seeing those eyes before. When the Letix army revealed itself to humanity and put us at the brink of destruction, the military wanted me to lead an army parade to give hope to people. I didn’t want to do it at the time, but I had done it reluctantly due to Admiral Luise’s insistence. And so I led the parade, while people watched on with eager, hopeful faces, wishing their sons and daughters to return from the war in one piece.
I remembered those days.
“S-sure.” I stiffly stood in front of the camera.
The old man gleefully took a picture. “Thank you very much! Ah, I am so very glad that I have not perished earlier!”
“I, uh, that’s nice of you to say.” I scratched my cheeks in embarrassment.
“So, how did you end up with Colorado and Rabbitte?” Admiral Luise appeared from beside me and asked.
“My grandfather was a Lieutenant Colonel of the transport squadron of the Dawn Corps. So… ha ha-- ugh- *cough*, *cough*--....”
When I first saw the old man, I thought he was a stoic, quiet man who would never talk unless he needed to. But at that moment, he looked like a little boy meeting his hero, shaking my hands vigorously. He talked so rapidly that he was coughing for the rest of the words instead.
“A-are you alright?” Admiral Luise patted the man’s back.
The old man nodded. “I am fine. I must be too old for this.”
“Should you not be leaving soon?” The old man asked, cautiously inspecting us.
I nodded back.
Admiral Luise wanted to give her earnings from the casino to him. “To be honest, I had more money than I suggested. Please, take these.”
“No, there is no need. These treasures were here for safekeeping, but they are ultimately your belongings. Are they not?”
“Even that coin-operated case should cost a lot to maintain for a hundred and twenty years. Please, I insist that you take at least five hundred million credits.”
But the old man refused vehemently. “If you continue to insist, I will bash my head against that stone statue until I perish.”
We really couldn’t argue against that, and so we quietly left the shop.
“May you bring the light of dawn into this universe.” The old man softly spoke as he saw us out.
Ensign Meihowa sighed. “So they did exist after all. The Church of Dawn, that is.”
“The Church of Dawn?” I quickly looked it up on the network. The first thing that showed up was an insult, calling them a crazy cult. “Wh-what is this?”
“Oh, it’s just a crazy cult that worships Lezirth as their god.”
“A… a god?!” Admiral Luise was just as surprised.
A god… like the beings that people pray to?!
“It’s one of the few religions that the Federation tries to suppress, since all the Replicant rebels believe in it. Hmm? What’s going on, Lezirth?”
“...Nothing, I’m just very embarrassed.”
I had always been called a war hero a century ago. I realized that I’d never had too much of a thought about that. I was trained to fight as a soldier since I was young and fought against my enemies as a soldier should, and then I had found myself leading the Dawn Corps into a great war that decided the fate of humanity.
For a man like me, I felt that I was undeserving of the old man’s attitude. I became burdened by a suspicion that I might have had an important purpose in my life.
Burden. Yes, that’s what I had always felt.
I wasn’t a better man than any other. I was only a single person. People expected too much from a guy like me. It wasn’t just the old man-- people from a century ago had burdened me with too many expectations. And I was constantly afraid that I would never be able to meet their expectations.
The old man had trusted me enough to trade his life away. Rather than take the half a billion credits from us, he insisted that he’d rather break his skull on a stone statue. What kind of beliefs did he have, to drive his life to this point?
I would never know.
After taking our leave, we prepared an Alter-Armour to pilot. Admiral Luise reprogrammed the rebel Alter-Armour so that I could use it. In the mean time, I inspected the tall gate at the entrance of Chinatown.
“That’s made of metal, huh?”
I thought, if I could take the gate apart and pierce Colorado through it, I could make use of it with the Alter-Armour. By rigging the metallic parts as the hilt of Colorado, I could convert them to be a part of the Sacred Sword’s blade.
I imagined that it would make the sword look somewhat like a slightly long knife, or maybe a small sword in the hands of a Minion-class Alter-Armour. And maybe a fruit knife in a Kishin’s hands.
“But this doesn’t share Dawnbringer’s core. It’s using a Nameless core. Are you going to be okay with that?” asked Ensign Meihowa.
All of my abilities were specialized for Dawnbringer. Back then, I was capable of fighting against a Kishin with a Minion-class Alter-Armour only because Ensign Meihowa piloted one with a Dawnbringer core.
But what about a Nameless one?
…I was honestly worried.
When I challenged Diablo, the Black Tyrant, its pilot was so inexperienced and fresh that he looked like he couldn’t do any more than baby steps. Even then, despite the best of my efforts, I wasn’t able to do a good deal of damage to Diablo. On the flip side, all it took for Diablo to do significant damage to me was slamming the ground with a single finger.
Compared to Diablo’s pilot at the time, Prince Tenseron, I had been told that Asa Princess Riznah was much more competent. Could I, with nothing but Colorado to my advantage, stand my ground against her?
But I knew that I had no choice. As long as Sergeant Aroha remained captive, I had to rescue her before she could be sent away from this planet. Knowing that I had no other choice, I had to be thankful that I at least didn’t have to charge in with my own human strength.
I jumped on the Alter-Armour and pulled apart the metal gate to hack it onto Colorado.
“Alright, Lezirth! We’ll try to do what we can by hacking and calling reinforcements. Even if it’ll be slightly late.”
“Is the Federation sending a rescue force here?”
“They’ll have to send one. No, we’ll force them to send one no matter what. But if we do that…” Admiral Luise made a bitter, hollow smile. “That means we’ll have to call back our squad from their hard-earned vacations.”
The Bomb Cadet Squad that went through hell and back in the Azoran system. The group of expendables, composed of Replicants and half-aliens. That was our squad.
The problem was that Dawnbringer Minor belonged to this squad. To make the Federation send it to the Critik System, we had to make sure that the rescue squad was them, specifically. Although they already had to give up their vacation days to answer the call to arms, how could we dare bring them back to a life-threatening battle after they had to endure so many already?
It wasn’t the right thing to do. Maybe I should have stolen another Alter-Armour that stood a better chance.
“Okay, they’re inbound!”
Admiral Luise had already manipulated our squad to reinforce this area without a second thought.
Admiral Luise was… in a way, maybe, perhaps, a very cruel being. If not for her, the Bomb Cadet Squad would have likely avoided the dangerous front lines, but... ...Oh well, it was too late.
I needed Dawnbringer Minor, after all.
“Lezirth! That armour is technically registered as Federation-owned, but the Alliance systems should recognize it as their property. You should be able to stay undetected until you can get near Kishin Saika, and launch a surprise attack whenever possible. Or maybe, if the pilot hasn’t boarded yet because she’s too busy with that stupid reality show, you could take control by killing the pilot immediately.
“Y-yes, of course.”
“But be careful! That systems administrator for the Alliance, that little girl we saw-- she can’t be taken lightly. And the pilot, too.” Admiral Luise moved away from the Alter-Armour.
Ensign Meihowa and Admiral Luise planned to hijack more enemy Alter-Armours to distract the enemy.
Before I began, I went to a supermarket within Chinatown. The Alter-Armour’s arms rummaged around the storage room to gather a pile of energy gels. I brought them into the cockpit and stacked the contents in the corners around me.
Alter-Armours are living beings. Though they produced strength that exceeded the energy that they gained from whatever they consumed by using other sources of power, they still needed a source of nutrients, like energy gels.
After procuring enough energy gels to fill up the cockpit, I also found myself a folding shovel from a nearby tools shop.
My preparation was done.
It was time to fight another battle against all odds.
* * *
Heavy squall swept my path. The south of the casino street was a great turquoise sea, and its condensation met with the cold wind from the mountains to form into a sudden but frequent rainstorm.
The raindrops fell on Hyondai Stadium and rolled down its transparent ceiling. The open stadium had an antigravity dome as its ceiling to protect from weather, but let the sunlight through.
In front of the stadium, in the parking lot that was several times larger than the building itself, the rebels were busy screening the civilians. All around the lot, Tri-Walkers patrolled watchfully, and many military trucks and buses came and went to drop even more civilians. The rebel soldiers divided the civilians by their worth, based on their jobs. It only took a single step through the identifier to gain complete information on each person, so the process did not take very long.
Thanks to the numerous members of the Manus Solidum who joined the rebellion, the screening went by even quicker.
I knew the locals were very unhappy with the Federation, and I couldn’t fault them for taking action to better their lives, and yet I couldn’t help but sigh. The Federation was clearly not doing a great job, but the Alliance couldn’t have been any better for them. The Asa had a caste system, and the Elcro had a monarchistic government. These people were leaving the Federation because of its rule based on the economic power held by dominating governments, and were joining the Alliance where the ruling power was based on social classes.
I slowly moved my Alter-Armour towards the stadium. Fortunately, the armour must have been recognized as an Alliance asset as explained before-- other Alter-Armours and soldiers didn’t seem to be too mindful of my approach. I could even hear through the Alliance’s private channel.
[The first round of screening is eighty percent complete!]
[As expected, there aren’t too many experienced technicians. Should we start transporting people in district twenty-two?”]
From the talk that went on, there was no more doubt that the Alliance was kidnapping everyone in order to find more skilled workers to aid their war efforts. It was obvious why they were classifying people based on their jobs.
[What the hell is up with that Amazoness princess, anyway?]
[She really likes that Asa girl, huh? Making her a handmaiden…]
I could also hear their casual conversations.
Curious, I looked within the stadium. Inside, beneath Saika, Sergeant Aroha and Princess Riznah Eresiki-gal were having a talk. I wanted to eavesdrop on them, so I turned on the light sensors. The sensors picked up the vibrations of objects near sound sources by echoing laser on them, and converted the vibrations to a audible sound waves.
[....Ushu? Toride anakil devka?]
[Zashi, anzai toride…]
Whoops. I had forgotten to turn the translators on.
I opened a translator application on my PDA, but all it did was tell me to pay for a premium downloadable content if I wanted to translate Asa languages. Damn. If it were military property, it would have been free, but I had to use a civilian machine for my vacation.
After quickly paying up, the translator program flashed and began translating their conversation properly. Wait a minute, where was the download? It seemed like the application had the Asa translator installed all along, but locked behind a paywall.
[We Asa consider you as one of us, even if you were born between a human and an Asa. Our bloodlines are considered from the mother’s side, not the father’s, and you are a worthy Umea. It’s also quite nice that you have the knowledge of the latest Federation military technology during your career as their soldier. Did you know that only a handful of Asa soldiers are capable of piloting an Alter-Armour or a cruiser? Knowing that, will you not help us? If you will, then I will turn the broadcast back on so you may publicly tell me of your new allegiance. If you do so, then I shall consider you as my second in command.]
[I’d really like to do that, but I’m telling you, that’s going to be difficult since one of my friends is coming over to rescue me.]
[Here? Rescue you? Do you really believe that?]
[I survived a problem like this once already, so why not?] Sergeant Aroha boasted, not mindful of her situation yet. When a hostage is that confident, it would be strange for the kidnapper to not feel overwhelmed.
[Really, I do wonder where your confidence is coming from…] As expected, Princess Riznah had become confused. [Hmph. No matter. I’ll be bringing you over before anyone else.]
[Are you… thinking of using Black Magic on humans? You’ll create a Hyperspace corruption.]
[Preventing that is the true power of the Thundergod Saika. Kishin Saika with Black Magic should be more than enough to safely teleport everyone in the stadium safely. Repeating that several times should be enough to teleport every citizen before the Federation army gets here. Think carefully-- there may be many who oppose the Federation rule here, but they have no means to take act because the Alliance is too far away physically. But what if we can prove that their problem is not actually a real problem? The Federation will soon meet its end.]
[No. This is just kidnapping. You’re not taking people who are volunteering to go! I don’t know about your culture, but don’t you know what a grave crime it is to involve innocent civilians, much less kidnapping them?]
[No matter. We need people. We need much more.]
Then, a man in a suit walked forth from behind them. It was a man from the television some time ago, Kasik, the leader of the rebellion. Kasik was using the first standard language of the Federation, English, and the Asa seemed to be using their own translators to understand him.
[Wait! That’s not what we agreed on before! You told me you’ll be sending my rebellion first! And use the civilians as hostages for leverage!]
So his plan was to extract the rebels first. That was why the rebels were very confident about fighting against the local government and taking on the Federation, despite the Critik system being directly next to the Federation systems.
[Our imperative is to extract the civilians before all else. Lieutenant Colonel Kasik, you should be remaining here and protecting our flanks against the Federation so that we may complete extracting civilians. Also, mind your tongue. I’m a chief.]
Kasik looked annoyed. [Chief, is it? Just because you’ve been lucky enough to be born to the right mother?]
[Chief, because I am capable of piloting a Kishin and leading a troop. Why? Do you think you could do better than me?]
[Hmph. a Kishin, eh.] Kasik peeked to the side at the Kishin that leaned over the stadium.
[There is no need to worry. It won’t be too long before you get your turn. When you are brought to the Alliance, you’ll be recognized as a hero. Perhaps many Asa families will be after your heroic genes. You could very well say goodbye to the days of being unpopular with women.]
[You…! How dare you! That report was completely falsified!]
Kasik yelled as hard as he could, but the other Asa quietly giggled and refused to take him seriously. What a clown!
[Alright! Laugh as much as you want! It’ll be the last time you’ll ever laugh. Hmph! Let’s see if you’ll still be pompous when I ask the Black Sisters to hand you over to me!]
Princess Riznah stopped laughing. The other Asa’s faces became stiff.
It was about time for me to interrupt their little party. I began thinking of my next move. If I could kill Princess Prizna while she was out of the Kishin, I could easily end this ordeal. It didn’t seem like there was anyone else who were capable of piloting the Kishin in her place, either.
But my mind strongly refused against killing a cute, young lady. Even if she wasn’t an innocent civilian, but a chief of the enemy faction.
I still had to kill her. I carefully detached the metal gate from Chinatown. I had already destroyed the Alter-Armour’s rifle from the previous scuffle and no other ranged weapons were on the armour, so I had little options. But if I could throw the metal gate, it could easily kill any human being it hit.
I prepared the Alter-Armour to throw the metal gate.
Suddenly, a red light flashed brightly within the cockpit. At the same time, the cockpit ejected itself and exploded forward!
Then, through the communication view, the fake Luise revealed herself.
[Kyahahahahaha! You thought I’d fall for that? I’ve been waiting for this moment!]
Damn! It was a trap?! After being shamed by Admiral Luise, the fake Luise must have been carefully watching over the equipment in Critik to note any suspicious activity.
[It was a good thing that I’ve been watchful of any Alter-Armours that went offline.]
Admiral Luise had stunned the Alter-Armour to hijack it. The fake Luise saw it coming and kept track of Alter-Armours that went off at any time.
She wasn’t small-time, huh? I readied myself for the impending fall. Before the cockpit hit the artificial grass, a parachute deployed itself and slowed my descent. The cockpit slid gently down the grass. I burst out of the cockpit with a kick after hitting the ground.
But a beautiful, blonde girl was waiting outside to greet me with a Colion rifle.
“Hold it right there, human.” Threats came from her bright pink lips. She spoke with an unfamiliar, weird accent, but it sounded nice regardless.
Looking at her again, she was very beautiful. Pale skin, gentle demeanor, and-- her chest wasn’t worthy of note, but her smooth legs were pleasing to see.
...Wait, what am I doing?!
I broke out of my trance and stood up. I first raised both of my arms to let her drop her guard. I wasn’t registered as a psionic, so there was little reason to be wary of me if I didn’t have a weapon.
[Riznah! Make sure he doesn’t try anything funny! He should have a girl working with him somewhere around here! Also, he’s probably a power user, or at least as dangerous as one!]
And then my effort to drop my enemies’ guard went to waste. The self-proclaimed Luise warned the Alliance soldiers of what I am.
The Asa princess asked. [Eiredith! Did you say there was one more?]
[Wah! Why did you just call my name in front of the enemy?!]
[He’s already captured, so what could be the problem?]
She did not seem to think too highly of either Sergeant Aroha or I. Also, Eiredith? Was that the real name of the fake Luise? If that was the case, then the Alliance had always known that the fake Luise was indeed not the real deal. Or maybe only the higher authorities like the Princess knew that fact.
“Yes, Harakal.” The blonde girl who was called Kiske dropped a pair of handcuffs in front of my feet. “Put them on yourself, human!”
“Kiske, was it?” I looked at her, picking up the handcuffs. They were a specially designed pair of handcuffs, made to suppress the use of psionic powers on the wearer. Of course, my powers were still of considerable strength even with disruptions like these, but to try and rescue Sergeant Aroha with these…
“Quickly!” The girl known as Kiske hurried me, using the end of her rifle as encouragement.
I sighed, putting on the cuffs on my wrists.
“Wh-who is this? A Federation soldier? A Federation agent?”
Kasik was particularly disturbed by my appearance. He should have already known that Sergeant Aroha was a Federation soldier, so he was assuming that I had also belonged to the Federation in some way.
But I was just a soldier on a vacation. ...We’ve been doing much more than anyone on vacation ever would, so his guess wasn’t strange. But even if I were actually a Federation agent, he was more worried than I would have expected of him. He wasn’t really fit to lead a rebellion, after all.
The Asa princess scoffed at his attitude. “What a pathetic display! A man like you will be seen as a hero by the Alliance? Hmph! In any case, I will be starting Saika.”
To my surprise, Saika moved by itself to bring its hand down in front of the princess. Once she stood on top of its hands, Saika brought her near its cockpit beside its chest.
‘She’s pretty good!’
Moving the armour without directly piloting it meant that they had a long history between them. That also meant that Riznah herself had a great deal of field experience. Even if she belonged to a culture with very little development in organized military, she must have been quite the formidable pilot if she had enough experience to move the Kishin without piloting it. That is, even an early human who used nothing but a crude rock axe would become a great marksman after spending five thousand hours with a rifle.
[Bring in the people!]
Saika’s head shined a bright light. Kishin Saika had been activated. Metallic plates around its waist hovered up in the air and fell down and embedded in various places circling the stadium.
A powerful vibration shook the entire stadium.
“Damn! Are they starting it already? Let’s fall back!” Kasik ordered his troops and headed to the dugout area of the stadium. Kiske and other Asa followed with Sergeant Aroha and I. The civilians soon entered the stadium from various entrances.
“Why did you come here, Lezirth?”
“To rescue my Sergeant, of course.”
Sergeant Aroha smiled at my words. She’d been smiling that same playful smile all the time, but for some strange reason, her smile looked even more beautiful than usual. I had a feeling that I might have seen her first honest smile.
She shook her head and bore a more serious expression. “But what were you thinking, getting captured yourself?”
The girl named Kiske poked at my side with the tip of her rifle. “Stop chatting!”
I’ve had it with this! She asked for it!
I turned around and glared back at her, and… my face lit up in heat. Whoa, I can’t even look at her without being embarrassed! I can’t look!
“What are you doing, Lezirth?”
“Uh, I’m, um...”
I’d always thought Sergeant Aroha was one of the most beautiful ladies in existence, but I had changed my mind after seeing that girl. If she could have heard my thoughts I’d have been in all kinds of trouble, but she couldn’t possibly have such powers, right?
“Lezirth, you’re not thinking of doing something as silly as sparing people just because they’re cute, or because they’re ladies, right?” Sergeant Aroha stared at me with sharp eyes.
Occasionally, there have been idiots among the army who refused to kill women and worsened the situation.
The space marines who fought against the Letix, the Dawn Corps, were frequently involved in missions to cleanse areas corrupted by the Letix. When privates hesitated killing women, who usually looked normal on the outside despite the corruption, they usually suffered the consequences immediately when the Letix within them burst out and proceeded to consume the entire planet.
Since those problems occurred quite often, I had once replaced all the practice-use targets with pictures of women and children. The invalid targets that were once hostages were changed to men who looked like hardened criminals, while valid targets were children and beautiful ladies. This change had once gathered the ill attention of the media.
‘Were the rumours about the state of training procedures of the Dawn Corps true? Are you actually using these targets?’
The reporters had asked me, showing me pictures of one of the targets made for the Dawn Corps, however they got a hold of one. I was unable to avoid the question as it was a live broadcast.
Looking at the soldiers who looked troubled by the question, I came up with an answer myself.
‘What? Are you trying to make fun of Wally for looking like a scary, tough guy?’
‘Wally here, acting as our hostage in this training gauntlet, is just a normal guy who enjoys weight training! He might have overflowing testerone as you can see from his large, bushy beard, but he’s a nice guy who lives with his aged mother, along with two dogs and five cats in his household! He may have had a troubling history with his ex-wife thanks to a small difference in beliefs, but he’s still a hard-working man who still loves his family enough to pay alimony on time! After all that, he’s had a run-in with a terrorist organization and became a hostage-- and what, you want him to be shot with a Colion rifle? He’s a villain because he looks like one? It’s all because of people like you that this world is screaming that appearance is everything!’
‘B-but one of the targets is a lady--’
‘She’s a terrorist! Disguised as a journalist!’
‘And the children…?’
‘They’re also terrorists, disguised as elementary school news reporters! Don’t be fooled by their young faces! The setting is that they’re actually in their sixties!’
‘What? Wait, why are they all journalists--’
‘Because terrorists like disguising themselves as journalists! At this very moment, there may be a terrorist here...’
One of the journalists in the conference had attempted to run away in surprise. The peacekeepers of the Dawn Corps immediately moved in to arrest him, and he later revealed that he was a member of the terrorist organization known as the Cult of Humanism, who had been terrorizing the Replicant population through violence.
Arresting a terrorist in a live broadcast in a middle of a conference had put on quite the show for the crowd. That day felt like it wasn’t too long ago.
And yet, I found myself reluctant to fight against these Asa girls.
“I’m all for gender equality, even when it comes to violence, but… I just can’t do it!”
“....Ugh. Lezirth, listen.” Sergeant Aroha sighed. “That’s a man.”
Hmm? Huh? What was that?
I was caught off guard by Sergeant Aroha’s sudden joke. How could that possibly be true? I looked at the blonde girl behind me, who looked more ladylike than anything else I’d ever seen. And that’s a man?
“That’s a man. The males of the Asa are usually much more beautiful than females by human standards. The girls are nice too, I suppose, but they don’t compare to guys at all.”
I looked at the girl-- I mean, boy-- named Kiske again. He nodded. “I am male, yes. P-please don’t look at me like that.” His aquamarine gaze dropped down, his cheeks bright. Wait, why are they becoming red?! And why is wearing a skirt if that’s the case?!
“Also, Asa traditionally have skirts for men, and pants for women.”
“Is… that so?”
Looking around, other Asa boys(?!) talked amongst themselves, laughing as they looked at me. As they met their eyes with mine, they blushed and looked away. Some of them gently straightened their skirts and looked down as if to politely bow.
They’re guys? Them?! They looked like girls in every way!
“Kiske, was it?” I looked at him.
He aimed his rifle at me. “Don’t talk to me!”
“No, I just wanted to make sure.”
“Make what sure?”
“Make sure that…”
I quickly smashed his rifle upward by the link between the handcuffs and went behind Kiske to grab his neck. How was he so light?! He must have been less than forty-five kilograms!
Even his scream was incredibly girl-like! I felt like I had bullied a little girl. I lifted him up high, and kicked the chairs around the dugout to fling them to the surrounding Asa.
The guys screamed like little girls, and the women….
...cried in a very brutish manner.
I removed the handcuffs by phase shifting, and grabbed Kiske by the back of his neck. His neck was so thin that I thought it would snap in half if I grabbed it the wrong way. I mean, disregarding that I could probably cut a metal plate like paper… And the feeling of his neck gave me an urge to feel about some more. It was almost as if I could get addicted to the touch. What manner of creature was this?! I placed the handcuffs around Kiske’s wrists.
I felt slight pain digging into my sides. Sergeant Aroha was poking at me, staring at me with an angry face. Ah, I’d forgotten to remove her restraints, too. I cut the wires that bound her arms with my psionic power. Sergeant Aroha immediately picked up a Colion rifle that had fallen on the ground.
“Oh no! How did he use an ability with the handcuffs on?!”
“Probably because he’s still pretty powerful even with a little dampener, yeah?” Sergeant Aroha shrugged. She pointed at Kiske. “We’ll have to use him as our hostage to escape here. That princess seemed to like him in particular. It’s not normal for Harakals to call an Onbira by his name.”
“The ones who don’t belong anywhere in the caste system. The males.” Sergeant Aroha sighed. “My dad was one too, of course.”
After hearing her, Kiske twisted his body around to try and escape us. But he was too light and weak to accomplish anything with his strength.
...I thought our plan was to use him as a hostage, but I felt like I’d become some sort of criminal who had kidnapped a lady for nefarious purposes.
“Hnh… *sob*…” Kiske began sobbing and suddenly made a wide motion with his mouth, but I quickly grabbed his chin to restrain his movement. He had just tried to kill himself by bleeding to death from his tongue!
“Lower your weapons, every one of you! If you try to fight us, this Kiske friend over here will die a painful death!” Sergeant Aroha made a threat in my place. She pointed her new Colion rifle at the other soldiers. She couldn’t fire the rifle, however, since the rifle was registered to be only used by those of the Alliance.
Or so I had thought. The rifle sounded a beep, and soon it displayed the Federation logo in place of the Alliance’s. Admiral Luise must have been helping us from somewhere!
With Kiske forcibly dragged along with us, Sergeant Aroha and I escaped the dugout and ran towards the stadium exit. The other Asa quietly watched us leave.
This boy was an Onbira, who couldn’t enjoy the benefits of being in any caste. I didn’t know enough to say for sure, but he seemed to belong in a low class in the Asa social structure. And yet the other Asa, not just the males but the women too, did not move as we made our escape. Did the princess favour him that much? ...Favour?
Many images popped up in my head as to how Riznah was favouring this boy--
Sergeant Aroha swiftly jabbed at my side with her elbow.
“Why’s your face going red again?!”
“N-no, wait, this doesn’t mean anything!”
I grumbled as I followed Sergeant Aroha outside.