|Muv Luv: One Last Time into the Loop
Author: PaulXion PM
Shirogane Takeru struggles against reality as he returns to the past one more time to change the fate the Alternate World,Armed with only the knowledge of the future and his incredible skills as a soldier,he prepares for the inevitable clash against BETARated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 74 - Words: 798,800 - Reviews: 889 - Favs: 308 - Follows: 271 - Updated: 05-18-13 - Published: 06-24-11 - id: 7112821
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 51: From One Side to Another
(Takeru's POV) (Skies above Sakado) (December 30, 2001 Sunday) (10:02 PM)
Ugh… not now. It's not even time for roll call.
"Shirogane…" Shake shake…
It's too early… I barely even had a wink of sleep. Come on Sumika, give me a break here. Just give me 5 more minutes. Just 5 more minutes and I promise I'll be awake by then.
"Shirogane, it's time to wake up…" Hmm? "Shirogane, come on"
"Eh? Ma… Marimo… chan?"
"Wake up. We're here… (Huh? Here?) Get up" Ugh… where… am I? Oh that's right. We were taken/abducted by the Imperial Army earlier. We're onboard one of their planes that was heading for the Saitama Prefecture. I must've fallen asleep after we had our meals. Ugh… judging from my timer… I barely had 2 hours of sleep.
"All personnel prepare for landing" I heard a voice come from the intercom. There are no windows in our room so I can't tell where we are exactly.
"Looks like we've arrived" Marimo chan added before tossing me something soft. "Here, take off your suit and put these on. (Eh?) Did you forget? We're supposed to disguise ourselves as imperial Army Officers. (Oh…) It's a temporary thing"
"Oh that's right. It must've slipped my mind. (…) Hmm? What's wrong, Marimo sensei?"
"C… could you look away for a minute? (Huh?) I need to change and…" Geh!
"Ah! R… right. Sure thing! Sorry about that" I turned my face towards the wall. "I wished they would've given us separate rooms instead of a single bunk"
"It can't be helped. Even if they are asking us for help, they don't have enough manpower to keep watch over both of us at the same time. (Ruffle) I think they're having just as much trouble as we are after the Shikoku incident. (…) I know it's troubling for many of us but all we can do now is cut our losses and move on. (…) Alright… you can turn around now. (…?) This uniform isn't that much different from the ones they give us back at the base. I suppose one size fits all" Wow… she's… so… different. I'm used to see her with U.N. uniform but to see her in something else just changes my perspective. The Imperial Army uniform has a dark green shade instead of the usual black and blue, the shoulders aren't jagged and the skirt goes just above her knees. "D… don't stare at it too much"
"Ah… s… sorry. It's just that… you look natural with it"
"Well this isn't exactly the first time I had to wear this kind of uniform. I was part of the Imperial Army before I became an instructor" Oh that's right. She told me that before.
"Landing gears primed. Approaching airstrip. All hands prepare for landing…" The intercom said again with a computerized sound at the background.
"You'd better get changed too before we land"
"Ah right… one moment please" I'm beginning remember how troublesome it is to take off an exosuit like this. Marimo turned her head towards her side of the wall so I had some privacy. Hmm… this uniform feels kind of loose. Maybe they gave me a bigger size. The sleeves were pretty long and there were too many buttons for me to know which one goes where. It's the same dark green shade as Marimo chan and it had some decorative pins on the neck. Hmm… 2nd Lieutenant. They had that part wrong. Oh well… I guess beggars can't be choosers here. "Ok, I'm done. I think…"
"Hooo? Impressive. A military uniform does suit you after all. (Really?) If you told me that you were a part of the Imperial Army, I'd definitely believe you"
"You think so? I'm so used to the uniform they give us. I don't think the buttons are matched though. It feels kind of stiff on the torso but loose on the sleeves"
"That's understandable. The uniform is for official meetings and ceremonies. It's not meant to be worn in actual combat. You should tuck your shirt and button it all the way to the top. Here, let me help you with that. (Geh! M… Ma…) Ease up. I'll just be quick" T… that's easier said than done. Your chest is touching me and your face is kind of near mind and… have I always been taller than her? Uwa… now I'm beginning to see why people always perceive us as a couple. We do these things so naturally not even taking into account of people who could be watching.
"Is something wrong, Marimo sensei?"
"Ah… no. I just realized that you've gotten bigger since the first time we met. If you get any taller than this I might have to look up just to see your face" Ahehe… maybe my body's going through a growth spurt. I always thought I was looking up to the gang but instead she was the one looking up to me.
"Hmm? What's that sound?"
"We're landing. Get to your position"
Wah… now that I'm no longer in my exosuit, I can feel the wind blowing my whole body. It's so cold; my body is already shivering just coming out of the plane. Gah… it seems like we're really in Sakado. I don't think I've ever visited this place. The airport seems to have been part of the city once but now it's being used by the military for this mission.
I can see soldiers and TSFs all over the runway working to their full capacity. I can even see jeeps and other smaller vehicles moving in and out like clockwork. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise. These are veteran elites of the Imperial Army, not cadets.
Yoroi, Yayoi and Major Komaki escorted us out of the plane when we were stopped by one of the workers.
"Welcome back Major" He saluted to the woman in uniform. "Everything is proceeding on schedule. We'll have one of the jeeps drive you to Headquarters immediately"
"Good. Be quick about your setup. I need this plane fueled and in the air as quickly as possible"
"Ohh? This is quite impressive" Yoroi stated out of the blues. "I didn't expect so many to volunteer to join this task force. I am actually whelmed"
"These are only the advance guards" The Major explained to him. "The rest of the company are still refitting at Gunma and will be joining us before the operation begins. Our main force is gathering at Yamanashi and will be part of the main assault on the city itself"
"Ah… I apologize. I did not mean to say that I was expecting little of your army. I was merely stating that there are more than I expected to join"
"These men are dedicated to their duties" The Major insisted. "They will follow it regardless of what others may think. Their loyalty to their country is unquestionable"
"Their loyalty to their country… or their loyalty to your reputation as 'his' aide? (…) Hmm?" His aide? Who's he? Why am I getting a strange vibe from these two? They don't seem to be giving out that neutral atmosphere earlier.
"Now now, Chief, please don't go through your wordplay again" Yayoi san calmed them. "Why don't we take this inside where it's warmer?"
The man quickly backed down but I can still see a smirk up his lips. "Indeed. Time is not our ally today. We should proceed without delay"
"Yoroi…" Huh? Who's that? He came out from the plane side entrance. Ah! Wait… I know that man!
"Ah… Sakaki san. Are you sure it's safe for you to be out here in the open?"
There's no doubt about it. I recognized that man just like I did back during my day of promotion! That's Class rep's old man! The Prime Minister of Japan! Sakaki Kurechika! Was he on the plane with us? Yoroi did say that they were traveling with a VIP but I never thought it'd be him of all people. That would explain why there were so many guards and why all the necessary security.
"…" He's talking with Mikoto's old man. I can't get a fix on what they're saying but Yoroi seems to be nodding to everything the Prime Minister says.
After a brief conversation the blue haired spy returned to us with a solemn expression. "Yayoi san, please escort our guests to the meeting room. I will be there shortly"
"Yes sir…" The two of them trailed off leaving through another vehicle while another jeep came to pick us up.
"Isumi san…" The Major came next having a similar expression. "I'm needed at the command post to relay orders for the other divisions. I will join with the rest of you later. (Ah… right… I understand…) Excuse me…"
Ok… that was a strange… even for someone like me. Yoroi seemed to be acting weird with the Prime Minister and the Major just bolted off and now we're left alone with Yayoi. Something doesn't feel… right. I thought there was some sense of unity here but all I'm getting is just… emptiness.
"…" Yayoi doesn't look happy at all either. "Ah! Umm… please follow me. I'll drive you to the meeting place" She forced out a smile for us before escorting us to one of the jeeps.
Our drive around the base was uneventful at best. The snow was beginning to pick up again coming through with a hail. I'm sure that Yokohama Base is getting the same weather as we are since it's on the lowlands. I'm getting that uneasy feeling at the back of my neck again. I'm not the type of person who would wait for things to fall on his lap. Why bring us all the way here if they're just going to make us wait?
I can see groups of TSFs flying above head and a few more traveling on foot. I know that we're still far from the battlefield but it feels like we're huddling around the trenches already. This is almost the same feeling I got when I was tasked on that mission in Hakone.
These people say that they need my help but I don't know what is it I'm supposed to do. All I can do is pilot a TSF better than most. Other than that I'm pretty much useless. Politics and talking aren't exactly my strong points. This isn't like high school where I can motivate one person to do something crazy. I mostly leave that kind of thing with Yuuko sensei.
"We're here…" Our final destination was a large hanger at the end of the end of the runway. It was big enough to house a plane but instead of planes, all I could see were tanks and trucks being fixed on the job. Yayoi escorted us out and we followed her through the large room with little difficulties.
The soldiers that we pass by saluted us in turn and went back to their business. No one even suspects us or gave us a second glance. Either they were too busy to notice us or these disguises are really well made.
After a brief walk we finally arrived at a small briefing room. It's like a duplicate of the classroom back at Yokohama Base but without the many chairs and tables. The blackboard was still there along with the podium and the projector.
"Please wait here. The Chief and the Major will be with you shortly" We nodded back to her in reply.
(An hour later)
How long do these guys intend to keep us waiting like this? I'm never good at waiting. All this silence is just irritating me to no end. If this keeps up I'll probably just blow my head up to let out all this frustration. I haven't been kept this long since the beginning of the 12/5 incident. We were ordered to remain on standby in a room similar to this and from that point on everyone had mixed feelings about the coup.
I wonder how the others are doing right now? We haven't been able to contact them since we were abducted by the Imperial Army. I'm sure they're having conflicting personas right about now. I wish I could to talk with them. A simple phone call extension should be fine. I might even be able to call them using the radio frequency used specifically for Valkyrie members. If they're still wearing their exosuit and connected to a wireless link network then it should be no problem.
The only thing that's keeping me calm right now is having Marimo by my side. We had a few occasional chats but nothing worth mentioning. I'm sure if she wasn't here I'd probably be running around like a headless chicken like I did before in my last loop. Ah… I was really pathetic.
"Excuse me…" Marimo opened up after a long period of waiting. "But how long do you intend to keep us waiting? It's been over an hour"
"I apologize for the delay" Yayoi bowed her head to us in apology. "It's not like the Chief to keep people waiting. The Prime Minister is extremely sensitive about the information that's being shared between us and the U.N. so they may take awhile longer"
"That's another thing that bothers me" I opened up. "Why is the Prime Minister here? I thought he was kept at an undisclosed location"
"The Prime Minister has made some dealings with the U.N. Council. He is personally overseeing this operation to ensure its success. Though I admit… having him off the plane does bother me a little. Yoroi also oversees his protection so he may be updating the security details for a later time"
"A dealing? With the U.N? What kind?"
"You shouldn't look up on things that don't concern you, Shirogane kun. (…!) Such information can be hazardous to your health. (Yoroi!) Haaa… making an injured man walk all the way here is quite troubling. Sakaki san really has no remorse even for the faithful. (…) But I guess faith and trust is something he has little of right now"
"Chief… can we please begin? We don't exactly have the luxury of time at the moment" The Major who stood behind him urged the man forward.
"Ahaha… of course. Now then. Yayoi chan, if you please" Yoroi began with a gesture of his hand, closing the lights while Yayoi moved to man the projector. "As I have explained before, this will be a joint operation run by both the U.N. 11th Army and the 1st Imperial Army Regiment. No official time has been given but we all know that the mission will take place at dawn of December 31, 2001. It has already been officially announced the objectives of this operation is to quell the rebel forces and retake the capital city of Tokyo. We expect heavy rain by that time but we will carry out the operation regardless of atmospheric conditions"
No regards for weather. That's no surprise. They're racing against the clock after all. The longer the rebels hold the city, the more influence the Honor Guards will have on the people.
"Before I give you your mission, Major Komaki will outline the operation as a whole" As the screen changed into the demography of the Tokyo Metropolis, the Major quickly took the man's place on the stage.
"Though our objectives have been given to the rest of the coalition forces, the true objective of this operation is to secure Her Highness, Kobuin Yuuhi who is being held in the royal palace at the very heart of the city. (…!) The secondary objectives will be to capture the facilities along the path and keep the enemy out of balance to gather as much information about them as possible. Our force consists of mostly regimental troops from the Sadogashima Campaign and Kyushu Island. We also conscripted several divisions of cadets to fill in the ranks of our rearguard in case of an emergency" So they're really going to be using cadets… again? "And now the plan is as follows…"
The screen changed again, this time showing the layout of attacks.
"Per an accepted strategy agreed by both the U.N. Armed Force and the Imperial Army Headquarters, the first phase of the attack will consist of a diversionary force. (…) Our forces outnumber the enemy by a margin of 3 to 1 so we have the advantage. However… our enemy know of this too that is why they are focusing their fighting strength around the central Tokyo. But what they lack in numbers they make up with their equipment and skill. It is known that the 1st, 2nd, 19th, 24th and the 16th Imperial Honor Guard Regiments are present there. They are selected as the most veteran force in the entire cohort of the Household Honor Guards"
Veterans. So in other words… people who have killed before. This seems so surreal.
"Members of the Capital Guards and Mainland defense force have also defected to the rebel army and will probably be fighting on their side" It's going to be difficult for a lot of these people since they'll be pointing their weapons at their former comrades. "We also learned that a rogue foreign army, the 9th Eurasian Atlantic Fleet is also participating in this battle in favor of our opposition"
Looking at the map now… I get the impression that this fight might just be a standoff. Despite our overwhelming numbers, our opponents will be the elites of the elites, people who fought the BETA while many of us were still in training school. Not to mention the Eurasian force that we have no information about. I guess they're not stupid enough to hold the entire city, just the center of it. Still… they'll probably have the home field advantage at this point.
"This is the outline of the central Tokyo City Defenses" The screen changed again, this time showing large red dots around each ward of the city. "As you probably know, Tokyo itself is a fortress city protected by a large layer of defenses in case of a BETA attack. The large dots you see on the map represent the firebase built by the Imperial Army in the year 1999 as a safety measure for all wards. (…) Each base has a pair of high velocity 240mm howitzers that are extremely accurate and has a high rate-of-fire. Each shot has the ability of piercing a TSF's armor and hitting whatever was behind it before exploding. The base also has 4 twin 90mm guns to engage close to medium ranged targets, 2 units of 36mm guns to counteract against missiles and 6 launcher tubes that can fire large payloads of missiles"
All that for a single base? You can practically call that a fortress! Why the heck do they need so many weapons inside the city in the first place?
"As I said before in the first phase of the operation, the U.N. and Imperial Army will engage from the west, northwest and southwest, diverting the enemy's attention to that side. The battle will most likely be waged at Nishitokyo, Musashino, Mitaka and Chofu. Artillery support will be limited to these areas only as we cannot risk damaging the city as it is" A head-on assault!-? Are they for real? "At the same time the naval force will begin their attack on Tokyo Bay, taking the Island of Odaiba as their forward outpost and engaging the Eurasian Fleet that have entrenched themselves in Chiba Harbor"
So we really are going to try to overwhelm them with numbers. This is insane. If they go through this we'll be picked off like shooting gallery.
"Once the diversionary force pulls a specific amount of enemies from the capital, the operation will move on to Phase 2. A separate force that I will be commanding personally will travel through the Arakawa River coastline, avoiding most of their defenses and disrupt the enemy's communication network. Should our surprise attack be successful, we should be able to take Adachi and Katsushika ward with little resistance" I see… while our enemies are busy dealing with attack coming from both sea and land, they'll sneak in from behind. A common tactic I guess. It's been done before.
But even with all this planning the death toll will still be high. If the firebases are as strong as they say they are… it'll be tough just trying to get through them.
"Following our objectives, we will then proceed to secure Tokyo Harbor by taking Edogawa and Koto, paving the way for the U.N. amphibious force to land unhindered. The waterfront and docking port in Aomi are vital for the continued operations. Once we've linked up with the U.N. Force we will immediately begin a two-pronged attack at the heart of the city center. Chuo, Taito, Bunkyo, Shinjuku and Minato, as well as the Imperial Army Command Post in Shinagawa ward must be within our hands. As long as we have those in our grasps, the enemy lines will crumble and we will have the royal palace completely surrounded"
Taking the whole city—it sounds so simple when you put it on paper. Everything that I've heard so far is all based on if things go exactly as they planned. But nothing ever goes as planned. I've learned that the hard way.
"So basically…" Marimo opened up. "… this whole operation relies solely on the infiltration unit"
"Correct…" Yoroi answered. "It's a gamble that we have to take"
"However, the problem still remains on the firebases that have been built in each ward" The Major continued. "Even if we are still able to get pass them, should they spot us, our advance can easily be turned into a bloodbath. The Arakawa River is still being heavily monitored by long-range and deep-sensor radars that can detect even stealth units"
"This is where you come in, Shirogane kun" Huh? Me? What does he mean by that? "To ensure that our operation runs smoothly, we require you to infiltrate enemy lines and destroy their pulse radar that has the ability to track hidden units. (Pulse radar?) Unlike the scope that you're used to in the TSF. The Pulse radar bounces signal off any electronic equipment that is above the regular basis. These things were implemented in response to the American stealth technology used on their F-22 Raptors. I'll spare you the technical details and move right on to your mission. Major, if you'll allow me…"
"Of course…" The Major backed away, leaving the stage for Yoroi to take over.
"As I said earlier, you, Shirogane, will be charged with the destruction of the radar dishes around Tokyo Metropolis. Without them, the firebases you saw earlier will be blind to anything they cannot see in plain sight. (…) You will then be tasked of destroying two of these bases afterwards. (Eh!) Don't look so surprised. I wouldn't have asked the Legendary Rookie to come here just as a decoration"
"But isn't attacking the city alone is plain suicide!-?" Marimo shouted off. "Surely the rebels will suspect something is wrong once they notice their sights going dark"
"True. I expect them to have a quick response team the moment the attack begins. But I'm sure it's nothing that Shirogane cannot handle. I'm sure you know this too, Jinguuji san. (…) He has the strange habit of making the impossible—possible" Wait… did he just praise me? "Yayoi, please explain the rest"
"Yes Chief" Yayoi came up next, leaving the projector on remote. "The infiltration unit will enter on surface below radar range. 1st Lt. Shirogane will be piloting a modified version of the Type-97 Fubuki equipped with Type 5 jump units to increase mobility. Since this will be an urban combat situation, the terrain will be difficult to maneuver with heavy equipment. That's why you will be going in unarmed" Unarmed? "Once you've reached the inside of the city through the Adachi ward, we will launch a supply crate containing a 1200mm Trans-Horizon Cannon which you will then use to destroy your assigned targets"
The Trans-Horizon Cannon? (Flash) Isn't that the same weapon that Tama used to shoot down the HSST destroyer in atmosphere? How in the world did they get their hands on that?
"But wait…" I raised my hand up in question. "Even if I do get pass their defenses. Wouldn't they just turn their guns around and shoot back at me?"
"Hooo? Very observant" Yoroi cooed to me. "Yayoi san, please explain"
"Yes sir. Though you are correct, 1st Lieutenant. The firebase does have one other specific weakness. (…?) With the exception of the 90mm and 36mm guns, the 200mm howitzer and missile launchers only have a firing range of 120 degrees of where they're directed at. This procedure was implemented so that no weapon would be used against the defenders in the case these bases were to be captured by our enemies" I see… so I won't have to worry about big giant guns being pointed at me while I'm working. The only things I need to watch out for are the response team attacking me. I see… so I just need to work fast and get out and I'll have done my part. The Imperial Army really put in a lot of thought into this. "All you need to do is destroy those cannons and the infiltration units can do the rest. Your call sign will be Zeus. The diversionary force will be called Hammer, the infiltration force under Major Komaki is Orochi and the U.N. amphibious troops will be Shark. This concludes the briefing for your mission"
The projector turned off and the lights came on.
This is huge. I'm beginning to see the bigger picture of things but this whole civil war is just insane.
"Do you have any questions, Shirogane?" Yoroi took the stage and questioned me.
"Just one… (…?) Why me? I mean… I can understand why you want me to pilot a TSF but I'm sure you guys have awesome pilots of your own, don't you?"
"True… but considering the odds of survival to get even one soldier through is extremely low. We may have to sacrifice a few dozen just to do that. (…!) But with you… I'm sure the odds will weigh greatly in our favor, no?" Does this guy really have that much faith in me? Or is he just that desperate to believe in miracles now? "Now then… if we are done with the formal planning we should get you organized for the coming mission. Yayoi san. Please brief 1st Lt. Jinguuji of our operating procedures here. (Yes sir…) Major Komaki, please explain Shirogane kun about his equipment for the mission and then direct him to his quarters later"
"As you wish. Please follow me, 1st Lieutenant"
"Ah… uh… ok…"
(Imperial TSF Hanger)
Hmm… their hanger design isn't that different from our own. Each hanger had 4 TSFs facing one another so each of them can contain a total of eight. I can see a large number of Gekishins and Shiranuis berthing there and Eishis and mechanics running around. The atmosphere here also reminds me of Yokohama Base except the head mechanic isn't chewing me up because I wreck another piece of equipment.
Haaa… I'm thinking about Yokohama Base way too much now. It feels like I'm getting a case of homesickness. It's strange to even consider a military base a place to live but it's the closest thing I have to a home around this universe.
"1st Lieutenant, are you listening?"
"Huh? Ah! Sorry Komaki san—I mean, Major…"
"Please pay attention. The information we are about to discuss is only to be kept between, you, me, Section Chief Yoroi, Sergeant Yayoi and your aide, 1st Lt. Jinguuji. No one else must know of it. (Y… yes ma'am) If you understand then please follow me"
We made our way to an abandoned part of the hanger areas. Unlike the others, the berthing pits were completely empty but there was still something there just for me.
Standing there at the very center of the room being directed with large stage lights was a Type-97 Fubuki in Imperial Army gray colors. I saw a few of them earlier by the runway but this one looks… different. It looks… more intimidating. The headpiece had a shade of red on its sensory module and the shoulder pads look tougher. It's like a bigger version of the training model. From the looks of it, this will be the thing I'm going to be piloting.
"I'm sure you're already familiar with the Type-97 training unit, Fubuki, 1st Lieutenant"
"Yeah…" I answered. "We had them for training back when I was a cadet. But I never imagined that they would actually be used for the frontlines"
"Regardless of what they taught you, the Type-97 is still a 3rd Generation TSF which gave birth to the Type-94 Shiranui and the basic groundwork for the Type-00 Takemikazuchi. On some occasions, commissioned soldiers would often use them even after they finished training due to the factories that are unable to keep up with production. Sometimes, squads are forced to remain with their training units for months before they receive proper equipments"
Hoo… now I'm starting to understand how special we are. Even after we were commissioned it only took a week for our Shiranuis to come. Yuuko must've ordered them especially to put us into full combat strength.
"But having a training unit isn't entirely a bad thing" Komaki continued. "On rare occasions, units like these are still capable of acting as support for combat based types like the Type-94. Before the mobile Shiranuis were put into play, Type-97s were its predecessors. It was only a few years since they became training units for cadets" Hmm… I think Marimo chan said something about that too.
Hmm? The door to the hanger is opening. The mechanics are bringing in another TSF? A Shiranui… hey… wait a minute… isn't that…?
"I see you recognized your old machine"
"Ah! That's my Shiranui! I thought I left it back in Kyoto"
"We brought it along with us on our plane ride" The Major explained. I recognized my old machine just by looking at the dried up blood splatter and damage to the head and left shoulder. "Section Chief Yoroi instructed us to implement your TSF's data into the machine so that you won't have to reconfigure everything"
"That guy really thought of everything"
"As per the TSF you will be piloting, it's the same function of a Fubuki. The Type-5 jump unit is an old model developed by the Fugaku Heavy Industries. It has twice the amount of output as the Type-7 and consumes a lot less energy therefore it can be used on a longer basis"
"Eh? If it's that good then why is it an old model? If it's better than what we have now, can't you standardize it?"
"It was thought of until they discovered a huge flaw in the jump unit. (…?) Once the jump unit reaches above max speed, the cooling vent can't sustain the jump for long and the heat fries all important circuitries after landing. In other word, the machine can only give you at least 6 jumps before it becomes useless. (Whoa…) The speed that you need to achieve will be necessary to avoid all the defenses. But even so we…"
"Hmm?" For a moment she paused in her words. "Is something wrong, Major?"
"No… it's nothing. Why?"
"Well… you look like you really wanted to say something. (…) Is there something bothering you?"
She gave out a sigh in return. "Off the record: I don't exactly know why Section Chief Yoroi tasked you with such an important mission. He hasn't told me anything about you except that you are a formidable TSF pilot. Personally… it has me worried since the odds of success for such a mission is extremely low but I won't disobey a direct order. If he says you can do it, I'll try my best to believe him"
"But you have a hard time trusting his judgments"
"He's a diplomat, not a soldier. But my opinion will remain my own. I can only follow his orders from this point on. (…) Let's not discuss about that now. Now… continuing on your equipment. Other than the jump unit, this Fubuki also possesses an excellent armor rating. We've added supplementary armor on its arms, legs and cockpit block without hampering its speed or movement. This unit will be able to take in more damage and will suffer less recoil from impact. The armor can only sustain a limited strain so don't be surprised if a piece or two falls off after you get hit. All of this was put together to ensure your survival should you get hit by a direct blow from the 200mm cannon. (…) How you perform is completely up to you. Any questions?"
"Then let me show you to your quarters"
The room was near identical to our barracks. A single bed, a table with a single reading lamp, bookshelf with things we won't ever need to read and a closet. The only thing missing was the bathroom.
"The operation will commence at 0500 hours at dawn tomorrow. If there's something you don't understand, you can look up your mission in the exosuit provided in the closet. I would recommend that you change into your outfit immediately and get some rest. You can walk freely around the hanger areas but you may not leave its perimeter. Report to the hanger bay 4 when you're ready. That will be all" And without even waiting for a reply she was gone. I guess she must be pretty busy.
How do you expect someone to sleep after such a rowdy briefing? I'm so pumped up I feel like I might burn out before I even get to the battlefield.
I should do what the Major recommended and change into my Eishi suit. (Ruffle) Hmm… one size does fit all. But what should I do now? I can't go to sleep… not in this condition. With all the pressure everyone has on me, I really need to blow off some steam. Maybe a little walk around the base will help. She did say I can walk around until I'm ready.
Waaa… the air here is completely different. I need to adjust the temperature on my suit. I guess winter is finally hitting Japan. They say that heavy rain is to be expected by morning but if it does rain, does that mean it's going to hail? Won't that make the invasion even more difficult? Ahhh… what do I know? It's not like I can predict anything like I did before. My vision of the future ended with Sadogashima.
I'm not really sure how much more I can take. Shikoku Island… Kyoto… Osaka. We nearly lost everything because of that last invasion.
I don't know how much more of this I can take.
Hmm? Hey… isn't that… Yoroi's secretary?
"Hm? Ara? 1st Lt. Shirogane?"
"Ah… s… sorry. I didn't mean to disturb you. I'll be going now"
"No wait… (…?) Would you… join me for a little while? I could use the company"
"Ah… uh… ok" I shyly made my way to her. She looked as if she hasn't' slept for days. The wrinkles underneath her eyes were a clear sign of her fatigue. "Have you been… sleeping well, Ms. Isumi?"
"Please, just call me Yayoi. You make me sound like my mother. (Oh… ok…) Would you like some coffee? Freshly brewed" I accepted the extra cup she offered. I really needed something in me. I don't remember having anything since we've arrived. "Oh… if you're wondering about Jinguuji san, please don't worry. I escorted her to her room awhile ago. She's probably resting right about now. (…) I'm sure the Major recommended that you do the same… but I guess with what's going on, I doubt you'll be able to get any wink of sleep at all"
"That's true. I'm… actually a little confused right now. I don't know whether I should be angry, puzzled or do something completely crazy. (…) Don't get me wrong. I'll do what Yoroi san asked me to do. I just… don't really get the big picture of things"
"Ever heard of the phrase 'Ignorance is bliss' Shirogane? (…?) Sometimes not knowing the truth can be much better than knowing it. I tend to have a lot of sleepless nights whenever I know something I shouldn't have. But then I remember that there's really nothing much you can do about it. (…?) I'm an investigative agent. I tend to expect the worse so dreaming about it is just a waste of good sleep. Don't let things you can't control bother you"
"That sounds like it came from experience"
"Ahuhu… the Chief was right… you really are sharp" Ahehe… ah crap… why am I blushing? Why am I getting this fuzzy feeling in me? "But I heard so much about you before today, Shirogane san. (Eh?) Two of my sisters have already spoken very highly of you. I'm actually quite impressed. Michiru chan said that you're a highly accomplished Eishi and Akira called you a reckless hero. (Hero?) This is actually the first time I've seen any of them praising one person so much. I think you may have made a terrific first impression them. (Geh…) Ahuhuhu. Anyway… thank you"
"Huh? For what?"
"For saving both my sisters. Though Michiru tends to be somewhat disapproval about your actions… she cannot deny the results that came from it. Were it not for you… neither of them would be living today. (…) Akira said that she wanted to have a match with you one day if that would be possible"
"Ahehehe… seems like she's the fiery type"
"Well I guess you can put her in that category. (Ahehehe…) But despite her stern-hot-tempered behavior, Akira can be quite fragile unlike Michiru who can be stronger than most of us"
"Yeah… the captain can make that kind of impression. (…?) I used to think of her like a woman who's made completely out of iron. When I first met her she seems like someone who can do absolutely no wrong. (…) But after awhile, I realized that she wasn't that different from anyone out here. She has her own goals, her own dreams and her own life. She even has someone to love to keep her going. (…!) And I think that's probably why I admire her so much. She's someone who has a clear goal in her life. Unlike me who can't see where my path is leading. Compared to her… I'm quite pathetic…"
"I see… so that's how you see her. (…?) She must trust you a great deal to reveal such things. If she was here, I'm sure she would deny those claims on the spot. (Ahehehe) Ahuhuhu. Well then. I should be going now. I'm glad to have met you, 1st Lt. Shirogane"
Hehehe… what a sweet girl. She really does have that big sister atmosphere around her. I'm sure she'd make an excellent wife. Geh! Wait… what the hell am I thinking? Geez… my hormones must be acting up again.
I'd better go before I do something I might regret.
Who would've thought that walking around the hanger could be so relaxing? Even though this place was as loud as ever with its machineries, I can actually just stroll around without a care in the world. Heh… it's already midnight. 5 more hours until the operation starts. In just five hours… Tokyo will be engulfed in flames just as it did during the 12/5 incident. Just thinking about it gives me the chills.
"Oi! You three, help me out here will you?"
Hmm? Those white overcoats… cadets? They sure look like it. They have the same training gear as me when I was a cadet. I wonder if those guys will be fighting too.
"Hey, weren't there supposed to be twelve of these boxes?" I heard another kid ask out loud. "I only count ten"
"Check over there. Those guys were in a rush to make the next shipment they didn't have enough time to organize all this stuff. They must've dropped their equipment all over the place"
"Heeeh~~ An't that a bit lazy of them?"
"Stop complaining and start looking. And while you're at it, you can organize these things too. (Heeeh!) No whining! Get to it. We'll be able to find those boxes you want afterwards. (Yes sir…) And you two. Help load the fuel tanks into the truck. We need everything ready by the hour"
"Haaaa… how do you expect me to find anything in all this mess?" The boy muttered to himself. I had to agree though. The lower floor of the hanger was indeed a mess. It seems like the people who were using this place were in a hurry and left things as they were. "It'll be a miracle to find anything useful from this pile. Ah! Here's one. Lucky!" The box he was looking for was nearly twice his size. Is he seriously going to carry that all by himself? "Oooof! Right… this is going to be a lot harder than I thought"
"Oi Tatsunami! Hurry it up or we'll leave on without you!"
"Ahhhh! Asagi! Wait for me!" I let out a small laugh at him. Running around like that—kind of reminds me a little of myself when I was just a cadet in my first loop. Panicking, the boy grabbed a crowbar from the toolkit he brought with him and pried the thing open. "Yosh! I'll just take the contents piece by piece and I'll come back for the rest. Hehehe" Hahaha… I probably would've done the same thing if I was in his position. (Flash) Huh? (Flash!) Wait… what the? What am I seeing this time? (Flash!) That kid… no…!
Haaa… haaaa… haaaaa…
Th… that was too close? What was that just now? My body… suddenly reacted on its own after seeing that vision. For a moment there I actually saw one of the strings carrying the 36mm gun snap and it was like… I saw it moments before it happened. My legs flexed up and the next thing I knew I was running as fast as I could.
"Tatsunami!" The boy's squad mates rushed over after the crash. It was extremely close. A second later and this kid would've ended up like that box. "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"
"Oww…" The kid was pretty shocked. "What just happened?"
"You nearly got trampled!" The girl barked back at him. "Oi! You guys up there! Watch what you're doing! (S… sorry!) Tch… amateurs. Tatsunami… can you stand? (Y… yeah…) Thank goodness" I put the kid down and allowed him to catch his breath before the girl lowered her head to me in gratitude. It seems like the strings supporting the heavy equipments are on the verge of breaking. This is an old military base after all so it's only natural that things like these occur. "Thank you for saving him. I don't want to imagine what would've happened if you didn't get him out of the way"
"It's no problem. It happened pretty fast. Besides his suit would've protected him from the impact. If the gun did fall on him, he would still be fine"
"Well at the least you saved one of my teammates from a trip to the hospital. (Ahehehe…) Don't take what you did lightly. Ora, Hibiki. Can you at least show some gratitude here? (Hai hai…) Say thank you properly!"
"Ah… there's really no need. Anyone would've done it" (Flash!) Ugh! Wh… what the? My head. Why am I suddenly feeling so… nauseous? The world feels like its spinning.
"Asagi san… you're being mean. I just survived a death defying moment"
"Don't be so overdramatic. Now introduce yourself" (Tug!) Crap. My visions are getting blurry. Is the effect of the serum wearing off already? I must've overexerted myself when I ran off to save that kid.
"Hai hai…" The boy turned his face to meet mine. (Flash) I know him… "Thank you… I'm—"
But my throat spoke out before he could. "Tatsunami… (Eh?) Hibiki. Your name is Tatsunami… Hibiki"