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It was evening as the Faith Organization military truck carrying Quenser drove across Experimental Battlefield Madagascar’s wasteland. They crossed a large river on a giant hovercraft and continued driving. At first, Quenser tried to remember how far they had gone, but his sense of distance faded as time passed.
Giant baobab trees stood up from the flat wasteland.
As they continued on, he started seeing abandoned giant seesaw-like machines measuring over 10 meters tall. He guessed they were left over from oil mining.
The Faith Organization maintenance base zone was on the wasteland, not in the jungle.
It looked like ancient ruins buried in sand.
The buildings of white stone did not look at all like a military facility. And surprisingly, they were a lot like the ones from Quenser’s homeland. They had grand stained glass windows and giant crosses on the roof. Some of them had a tall bell tower.
This was likely a remnant of the old Age of Exploration.
They were cathedrals and monasteries. And that small village of buildings had several giant circus-like tents set up between them. Those structures of thick blast-resistant sheets were the maintenance base zone made from Faith Organization technology.
At first, Quenser thought that religious organization had simply wanted a location that provided moral support.
But he was wrong.
Norn, Dvergr, Berserkers, and Draupnir were all aspects of Norse Mythology. This was not an organization that decorated things in giant crosses. And the Faith Organization would be more sensitive to such differences than anyone else.
(The shape of the crosses is a little different. Oh, weren’t there some that used existing tree and sun symbols to help spread the Bible? I think in Norse regions, they even interpreted Thor’s hammer as a cross.)
That may have been the Faith Organization style, but there was no guarantee that the area would be safe from damage in a battle. From an outsider’s perspective, it was hard to tell whether they were treating it carefully or carelessly.
The military truck finally stopped in a parking space.
Someone spoke with a rifle in hand.
Quenser obediently placed his hands behind his head and did as he was told. He was so badly outnumbered that they had not even bothered handcuffing or otherwise restraining him. Or – since they were only taking him prisoner at the request of a Pilot Elite – perhaps they were actually giving him a chance to resist so they would have an excuse to shoot him.
The area was inundated with voices speaking a Faith Organization language.
Quenser’s heart was assaulted by the hopelessness of being left behind in a strange land.
After hearing that the POW had arrived, the Pilot Elite approached with several bodyguards around her. The 18-year-old girl wore a green special suit that freely showed off her sexy bodylines. Quenser did not know if this was Urd or Verdandi.
“The first 24 hours will soon be up, but we have yet to find Skuld. He will be our crucial insurance. Handle him with care and make sure you do not go too far and kill him.”
The Elite smiled thinly and seemed to be warning the soldiers.
But an unpleasant sweat covered Quenser’s face when he heard it.
By saying “make sure you do not go too far”, she was saying that level of cruelty was standard. Plus, she had made sure to speak in a language Quenser understood. She was letting him understand her in order to shake him.
War treaties and the rules on POW treatment were meaningless if no one ensured they were upheld.
A new battle was already beginning. And it was a horribly unfair battle that would unilaterally wear down his soul.
The sexy Elite moved her face in close and spoke with the confidence of a predator.
“We wish to know where Skuld is no matter what. We wish to know where she is likely to hide. We will likely get to know each other much better before long, but keep that in mind. We are not sadists; we have a goal. As long as we achieve that, we have no reason to harm you.”
“We can discuss the details in the interrogation room, but do you have any questions?”
That was likely meant as a light jab.
By initially working up his fear and then hinting at a chance for negotiation, she left him unsure whether to go in for an attack or to fortify his defenses. It left him unsure which direction to raise his shield in.
That was why Quenser played dumb.
“I’ve got one: When will I get a change of clothes?”
He was raising his hands in just his underwear.
As soon as the sexy Elite looked down at his body, he gave an honest thrust of his hips.
The Pilot Elite’s face grew red and she screamed. To punish him for slighting their saint, the surrounding soldiers subjected him to concentrated fire from their military boots.
After receiving a thorough beating, Quenser was taken to a stone building that had once been used as a monastery and he was thrown into a room.
There was no real furniture and all four walls were made of cold stone. It had likely been lit by a lamp or candle originally, but a fluorescent light and power cable had been crudely added in much more recently. The lighting was reminiscent of a construction site or a tunnel. In what may have been part of the original design, the window had a heavy metal shutter over it and the thick door could not be opened from within. He did not want to imagine what kind of life the person in here had lived.
There was not even a blanket. He hoped not, but the small bucket in the corner may have been his toilet.
As he gloomily looked around the room, he finally started feeling along the walls and floor. He doubted he could easily escape a maintenance base zone with around a thousand soldiers, but he at least wanted a weapon. The building was solidly built without any crack between stones, but he still hoped he could pull one of those stones out.
Then something unexpected happened.
As he grabbed at one of the wall’s stones and managed to move it, the center of the floor split open. There seemed to be a trapdoor there. Through the one meter opening, he found a rusty ladder.
“Wait, wait, wait, wait! Why!? Why is this happening the instant I get here!?”
He shouted to himself, but when he thought about it rationally, he recalled this was an old monastery and not part of the Faith Organization maintenance base.
In which case…
(Do they not know all the details of the old building they’re borrowing?)
But his quizzical look was interrupted by footsteps from beyond the thick door. He could not let them discover the secret trapdoor. It was an incredible discovery, but he could not just vanish through it when he did not know where it led.
He was not going to waste this valuable opportunity.
He moved the stone on the wall again and managed to close the trapdoor.
(I’m not going to eventually trigger a giant metal ball rolling down a slope at me, am I?)
The footsteps stopped in front of the door.
He heard a key being inserted and then the heavy door opened.
He recognized the Faith Organization soldier.
“Eric, you made it back here?”
“That doesn’t matter. Just put on some clothes. Saint Urd is entirely useless because she won’t stop blushing and covering her holy face with her hands. Honestly, she’s too busy shrieking and wiggling around to focus on her mission.”
Eric Kingsvalley had brought him a brightly colored prisoner’s uniform. As he put it on, Quenser realized their positions had been entirely reversed.
(So that was Urd. I guess that means I still have to meet Verdandi.)
“Is my interrogation about to start?”
“Yeah. Although the higher ups really aren’t sure what to do now that they know you’re a student and not a soldier. Still, I’m not sure the war treaties are going to protect you. You should be prepared to see what look like dental or sculpting tools. I can’t stop them.”
“Are you serious…? You really can’t save me?”
Once Quenser finished dressing, he was taken out of the room. They did not restrict his information with a blindfold or anything else. Two soldiers with rifles escorted him down the stone hallway.
Eric looked like he wanted to say something the entire time, so Quenser finally asked about it.
“What’s the matter? You aren’t glad to be home?”
Quenser could hear the raucous voices of people celebrating their victory. Norse Mythology apparently had no taboos about food, so they were likely going to town with fish and booze. Eric’s gloomy atmosphere had to stand out in the unit.
“I don’t know what’s right,” replied Eric.
“You let Saint Skuld escape. I heard that was why you were captured. What was I supposed to do? What would really have been best for Saint Skuld?”
Quenser did not have an answer for him.
The monastery’s front entrance was made of thick bronze. It was only locked by a bar across the inside, but that had been replaced with an alloy bar and a hydraulic cylinder arm. It was simple, but that meant it was difficult to open from the outside and had no lock to be picked.
They left the old monastery building and he was taken to a circus tent.
Surprisingly, it was Urd Silent-Third he found in the small interrogation room.
The soldiers got to work as she used a hand to toy with her long golden braid.
“Handcuff the interrogation subject and attach the chain to the table.”
“Oh, dear,” said Urd. “Is there any need to go that far?”
“We can never know what he will do out of desperation. Also, we will be taking this.”
The soldiers took something from the table.
It was a bowl full of colorful fruits.
“Ahn! Those are my snacks!”
“You are about to speak with an enemy POW. Please refrain from using a knife and fork.”
“Even a plastic fork?”
“Even a plastic fork.”
“Boo. That means I can only eat the banana. Surely you aren’t going to take that away from me because I might step on the peel and hit my head on the corner of the table.”
“Saint Urd, please keep in mind that your presence can influence the fate of our entire unit…no, of the Faith Organization as a whole.”
“Even when I’m a replaceable spare Elite?”
The saint smiled a little as she toyed with the banana in her hand.
The soldiers pretended not to hear her sarcastic comment as they handcuffed Quenser to the table, had him sit down, and backed away. They waited by the wall instead of leaving the room altogether.
Urd took the opposite seat.
She looked at Quenser’s face, swallowed the line she had been planning to start with, and…
She remembered something, blushed, and covered her face with her hands.
She seemed to be the oldest of the sisters, but she might have had a dirty imagination.
Also, something she had said had caught Quenser’s attention.
“A replaceable spare Elite…? What does that mean? I mean, aren’t you so desperate to hunt down Skuld because-…!!”
He was cut off.
Someone had walked in from the door behind him, grabbed his hair, and slammed his face against the table.
There was a loud bang and the boy was left dazed, but the person then brought their lips to his ear and whispered to him.
“We are the ones asking the questions here. Don’t get full of yourself just because you have information on Skuld, you student. All we have to do is wring that information out of you.”
Just as he groaned that question, they grabbed his hair again and shoved his face into the table. With another loud sound, he sensed a rusty flavor flow into his mouth from his nose.
“Verdandi, I know how you feel, but we won’t get anywhere like that.” Urd sounded exasperated. “Now forgive him already.”
“And you! Don’t just use my name like that! Why are you giving the POW our information!?”
“Oh, dear. But aren’t you the one that confirmed that’s your name by responding to me?”
“~ ~ ~!!”
The twintail girl named Verdandi let go of Quenser’s hair in frustration, walked around the table, and stood next to Urd. She crossed her arms and sat directly on a corner of the table.
Urd smiled and asked a question.
“Now for your questioning. Do you know anything about Skuld’s whereabouts?”
“Good cop, bad cop, huh? Going old-fashioned, I see.”
“If you would prefer, we can always use a cutting-edge truth serum.”
Urd lightly shook her peeled banana to lightly scold her sister and then peered at Quenser’s face. But she seemed to give up before he could react. She blushed and looked away.
“What’s the big deal with seeing some guy half-naked?” asked Verdandi with an exasperated sigh.
“Y-you can only say that because you didn’t see it yourself! He…he went…! Ahh, the image is burned into my eyes! What am I supposed to do!? K-kyah☆”
“This just means you have a dirtier mind than you thought. You hidden pervert.”
After spitting out that comment, Verdandi turned the conversation back toward Quenser.
“You seem to be mistaken about something. We are not trying to capture Skuld because we want to hold a public execution or anything like that.”
“You don’t believe me, do you? What lies has Skuld been telling you?”
“You have no reason.”
“Do you think the Faith Organization is an irrational murder cult just because we’re an enemy nation?”
“As Urd said, you’re spare Elites. I don’t know what kind of tech you use. I hate to admit it since I’m a future engineer, but I really don’t. But if the Trinity Style is an Object with multiple Elites, then you have no reason to be so fixated on Skuld. Either of you can pilot it instead. You might even be able to recruit people to find yourself a second or third Skuld. But you set that possibility aside and you’re working hard to hunt down Skuld. Why? I can’t imagine there’s a logical reason. And I can’t imagine it’s some tear-jerking reason just cause you’re sisters. You’re letting your emotions drive you as you punish her for your own dark pleasure, aren’t you!?”
“Well, would you look at that?”
“Yes, more of our information has gotten out than I thought.”
So would they silence him?
That was Quenser’s first thought, but their response was a surprising one.
“Munch, munch. Well, it isn’t entirely wrong to say we’re driven by emotion.”
“Just so you know, we’re trying to catch Skuld because we want to help out your Legitimacy Kingdom.”
Quenser could not help but voice his confusion.
They were enemies and he was being interrogated. Some high-level information warfare was underway, so he could not trust everything he was told. Nevertheless, he was taken aback.
“What do you mean it’s to help us out?”
“Skuld will defect to your Legitimacy Kingdom if we don’t do anything, won’t she? If that happens, she’ll first provide research assistance in a military facility. And once she earns their trust, she’ll be given a free pass to a safe country.”
“Yeah, I don’t even want to imagine that future.”
Quenser could not understand what the two Elites were saying.
“Wait a second. What are you talking about? All of that is perfectly normal.”
“Oh? Even if it throws a Legitimacy Kingdom safe country into enough chaos to makes Jack the Ripper look small time?”
A strange feeling was growing in his fingertips.
Unpleasant sweat poured down his forehead, but he could not wipe it away while handcuffed to the table.
“Jack the Ripper…?”
“What does Skuld look like to you? A poor little birdie? A girl whose life is about to be snuffed out?” Verdandi spoke with a mocking tone. “You’re wrong if so. She’s an Elite. She pilots an Object all on her own and blows away, fries, or vaporizes 1000 or even 10,000 people if need be. She can do all that without batting an eye. She casually bears all the responsibility of the war. That’s the kind of monster all three of us are.”
“But Skuld is somewhat out of tune. She’s difficult to manage,” added Urd with a smile. But a worrying shadow hung over the smile. “She is highly aggressive and not even we can always control her. She will sometimes blow away the enemy soldiers even after they have raised the White Flag. In fact, she does not always stick to the enemies. She will mercilessly pull the trigger on her allies, on journalists, on smugglers, and on medical groups. And all while laughing.”
“She is a deviant. She could never preserve her reputation if the military were not protecting her. In this world, only soldiers, police officers, and executioners are allowed to kill. She just so happened to choose the military.”
Quenser shook his head, but it changed nothing.
“And on top of the direct damage Skuld will cause, she kills in a very contagious way. Let her out and who can say how many copycats you’ll have on your hands. It will become an epidemic, a major boom. That is another reason why the military needs to manage and conceal the information.”
Urd and Verdandi did not even flinch. He turned his head with his hands bound, but the soldiers by the wall had not reacted either. Only Eric looked back at Quenser as if he did not understand what was going on.
“This is not public knowledge. The Faith Organization has a reputation to uphold after all,” readily admitted Urd. “But every time we station our troops, a new soldier or two will go missing in that battlefield country. The official story is that they grew sick of war and deserted, but is it really just Skuld doing a good job of cleaning up after herself? That isn’t entirely known.”
“I hate to admit it, but we do have deserters. And once they lose the protection of the military, it isn’t too surprising for their corpse to turn up later on. And when a corpse is found on the front line, no one is going to investigate it too carefully. The corpse and the scene of a possible crime cannot be preserved. Or rather, it can be set up that way. When Skuld is given control of the Object, she will sometimes fire a shot entirely unrelated to the battle. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out there had been a corpse there she needed to hide.”
“Then why do you let someone so dangerous go free? No, why did you make her a Pilot Elite!? That makes no sense! You would normally keep her away!”
“That’s just how skilled she is. She truly is a natural killer. I’ve never known anyone who comes so very alive when it comes to killing. Urd said it’s because she’s ‘out of tune’, but I don’t believe it. She was holding this bomb from the moment she was born.”
Quenser strained his neck to look back.
Eric was sweating profusely too, but he had to accept it.
“Saint Skuld had a bad habit. Despite the great difference in rank, she would eat with everyone and spend her free time with us. But some soldiers would mistake her intentions and try to get more intimate with her. …When they went missing, the rumor was that the Valkyries in charge of religious morals had purged the guys who tried to lay a hand on her.”
“We aren’t that cruel a place. We are free to love whoever we like.”
“Really, though. If they banned us from love, it would actually build up our frustrations and we might stop listening to our orders. …Although that explains why everyone has kept their distance from us.”
“In your case, it’s just a lack of feminine charm. You put too much focus on pure love and things like that.”
That was the worst possibility.
Just thinking about it made Quenser’s head spin and his mind melt like butter.
He managed to force out a question.
“Then what is Skuld trying to do…?”
“That’s what we want to know,” readily admitted Urd. “In order to get an easy win, we went along with her idea and gave her control of the Norn so she could feign defeat. …But after taking a single hit from your Object, she purposefully let you find and capture her. You can’t count on a lunatic’s ideas to make sense, but it looks like she was fed up with our ‘birdcage’ and wanted to fly free.”
“The Legitimacy Kingdom thought you had had found the Norn’s hatch on your own, didn’t you?” interrupted Verdandi with crossed arms and a derisive laugh. “But the Norn’s hatches are not normally exposed. The surrounding Dvergr should have completely covered it up. She intentionally showed off the hatch to expose herself to the enemy. She abandoned that nuke-resistant weapon to enjoy herself on a field where a single bullet can kill her. That isn’t normal.”
“Skuld has been taught killing techniques by the military. There was plenty of suspicious behavior, but since she was never court martialed, the higher ups must have turned a blind eye. But not even that was enough to satisfy her. She wanted to see enough blood to bathe in. So she decided to leave the Faith Organization to use the ignorant Legitimacy Kingdom. …That way she can eventually blend into a defenseless safe country and kill to her heart’s content.”
Quenser had almost stopped thinking altogether.
Then he started shouting like a spoiled child.
“That can’t be true! Skuld really was trembling as she asked for help!! She felt cornered because of you! She’s a murderer? A war criminal? How can I believe any of that when I only have your word to go on in this interrogation room!? You might have gotten your story straight in advance so you could trick me!!”
“True. We could have.” Urd did not deny it. “This brings shame on us, but we aren’t actually obligated to do anything. It would pain me for a safe country to fill with blood, but they wouldn’t be Faith Organization people. If you absolutely refuse to cooperate, the bomb named Skuld will simply be passed to you. And that bomb is guaranteed to detonate eventually, killing a hundred thousand if not a million people when it does.”
“And we aren’t joking about that. Skuld’s thirst for blood is so great that war wasn’t enough to quench it. She must be planning something even greater in a safe country. Normal firepower will never be enough to stop her. In fact, you won’t even be able to find her once she thoroughly blends in. The housewives who have never known anything but peace will lose their lives in the blink of an eye. And if she triggers a surge of copycats, it could cause a country or two to fall.”
“Yes, her killings have a way of bringing in a great number of ‘fans’.”
The Trinity Style had been a giant birdcage for Skuld.
These two sisters had done everything they could to create a place for their thoroughly broken younger sister.
But Skuld had betrayed them.
She had smashed that birdcage, flown out, and feigned innocence to pave the way to her new feeding ground.
She would enjoy herself with a deluge of death in the safe countries that knew nothing of bombs or shells…in the very safe countries where Quenser’s friends and family lived.
“That is why we are asking you this,” said Urd. “Where will Skuld escape to? If she slips past the initial search and this becomes a long-term affair, where will she hide? Tell us that and we can nip this problem in the bud.”
“…There’s no way I can tell you that,” answered Quenser despite all his sweat.
And not just because he could not entirely trust the Faith Organization.
“I don’t know the answer!! All I did was give her the uniform as a last ditch effort to help her escape!!”
The damaged Baby Magnum slowly returned to the Legitimacy Kingdom maintenance base zone.
However, they could not even replace its armor at the moment.
The Princess did not even leave the Object.
No one knew what feelings were spiraling through her chest.
It was a maintenance base in name only. It was closer to being a pile of rubble burying what equipment was still usable.
The soldiers were focused on a map of the Faith Organization base they had drawn up with Skuld’s help. In the twilight, several flashlights illuminated the map as they came up with several routes of entry. It was not that they could not agree; they were coming up with several options for a number of different situations.
Frolaytia spoke up to motivate them.
“I want to attack while the Faith Organization is still celebrating. That means tonight. We can’t hope for perfect preparation at the moment. I know that doesn’t make you happy, but the transport fleet needed to withdraw won’t arrive for a while yet. We’re cornered anyway, so we have to do what we can.”
Heivia and the others had searched through the rubble that had been the base zone to find a few vehicles that would at least still run.
After memorizing the plan, the soldiers headed toward those trucks.
Skuld was supposed to join them as a guide, but she was all alone a short distance away. She sat directly on the ground. She seemed to have trouble joining in when there were no other Faith Organization soldiers with her. Plus, she had to feel indebted to them after Quenser got captured to save her life.
As Frolaytia considered all that, a surviving member of the intelligence division spoke to her.
In fact, they more or less whispered.
“Excuse me, major. I would like to keep this private because it has yet to be confirmed.”
“Let’s hear it.”
Frolaytia expected this to be trouble. This was information that the intelligence division had decided might throw the unit into chaos if it got out. It had to be important and dark, so she had to prepare herself for that.
“We received quit a few casualties from that swarm of bugs. But…”
“It’s strange. A few of them died from a snapped neck. Bug bites wouldn’t do that.”
“What…does that mean?”
“I’m not sure. I initially thought they had fallen from the stairs in their haste to escape all the bugs, but it seems that wasn’t what happened. And if the swarm hadn’t ended like it did, even the bones would have been eaten away and no trace would have remained.”
“…Are you saying another human might have been using the confusion to kill people?”
“But that brings us to some fundamental questions: Who? And why?”
Frolaytia fell silent.
The intelligence division worked to understand the discord and friction within the unit, but it was hard to say they had a perfect grasp of every last bit of it. It was possible someone might have developed a desire to kill unrelated to war. A military unit was also a place where people lived together. There was no guarantee that no crimes would occur.
A short distance away, Skuld slowly stood up in her Faith Organization uniform. She used her small hands to brush the dust off of her butt.
“And one other thing,” continued the intelligence division member. “It’s about the delayed transmission of your White Flag.”
“Yeah, I regret that more than anything. Even if the control tower had collapsed, we had an emergency communications network using a different system. That said, it was only a makeshift system from what equipment we could scrounge up. The slightest burden was enough to knock it out. And that really delayed us…and got more people killed.”
“What would you say if I told you there were traces inside the equipment of dried sand being poured inside to intentionally create a short?”
Everyone could see the look of displeasure on Frolaytia’s face.
The Faith Organization had been celebrating their victory, so they would not have bothered with that kind of sabotage. Plus, the timing did not work. Frolaytia had taken action immediately after the Baby Magnum’s defeat, which had been well before the Trinity Style arrived at the base. The White Flag had already been knocked out at that point.
In that case, it had to have been someone inside the Legitimacy Kingdom base.
But who would have benefited from that kind of suicidal action? More than 100 soldiers had been needlessly slaughtered due to that, but it had been entirely at random. If they went through the exact same thing again, an entirely different group of soldiers would be killed on a whim. In other words, that had forced the entire unit into a game of Russian Roulette with terrible odds.
As Frolaytia considered it, she was taken in by a wicked thought.
It was a negative inspiration, much like unwarranted suspicion.
(Without the White Flag, everyone in the base would be killed. But is that really true? It was definitely dangerous for us in the Legitimacy Kingdom, but what about the Faith Organization POWs who were set to be rescued?)
To prepare for their mission, Heivia called over from a military truck.
Skuld responded by walking over.
She moved naturally.
She walked right past Frolaytia Capistrano.
(During the bug swarm, we left the detention barracks just before they collapsed and we all made it safely to the storage building. Who was it that arrived last? Yes, who was at the tail end and was thus walking entirely unsupervised through the swarm?)
Something unpleasant pricked at a corner of her mind.
The busty silver-haired commander’s eyes followed the twintail girl heading to the truck.
(And during the Trinity Style battle afterwards, we were still working to put the maintenance base back together. Since the detention barracks were unusable, we split the soldiers’ barracks in two and used half for the POWs. That means the security was laxer than normal and we might not have known every little thing the Faith Organization was doing. It’s entirely possible one of them sabotaged our makeshift communications equipment.)
“Hey!! We’ll be moving along according to schedule, Frolaytia. You dig up a coffee maker from the rubble of the officer barracks. C’mon, let’s get going, Skuld. We only get one chance to make up for our loss!!”
Those words redirected Frolaytia’s thoughts outward.
In the blood red of twilight, Skuld had already climbed aboard the truck.
With her onboard, the trucks began leaving the maintenance base zone one at a time.
Perhaps she should have stopped them.
Perhaps she should have asked Skuld about all this.
(I have no proof…)
It was true that it was possible Skuld could have done it.
But Frolaytia could not imagine what the girl would gain by doing so. For one thing, the arrival of all the bell crickets and the Baby Magnum’s defeat at the hands of the Trinity Style had been mere coincidence. Skuld could not have planned for them.
And if any little thing had been different, Skuld would have died. She was from the Faith Organization and not the Legitimacy Kingdom, so there was no guarantee they would always take her side. And even if she had been planning to betray them, she would have done so after ensuring her own safety. Doing something here would have been no different than throwing away her own life. She could not have planned for these unexpected events and she had no reason to do this even if she had somehow planned for it. Looking at it that way, Frolaytia felt it was best to assume she was reading too much into this.
And even if they had a map, it would be difficult to sneak into the Faith Organization maintenance base without Skuld who could walk around the place with her eyes closed. Delaying things here might give the Faith Organization a chance to sober up from their victory and then they would lose their one and only chance to rescue Quenser.
So Frolaytia weighed her options on the scales.
She knew something was bothering her, but she drove it to a corner of her mind.
Success and failure were the only two options here.
And yet if one little thing went wrong, the entire unit would be in danger.
The military trucks drove in a line.
A few dozen soldiers were crammed into the back of each one.
Among them, Skuld was curled up with her hands around her knees because she was having trouble blending in.
Next to her, Heivia smiled while armed with an assault rifle and grenades that he had likely dug up when searching for any usable equipment.
“Don’t worry. If they were gonna kill him, they would’ve done it there. I don’t think they’ve got the brand-name needed to pull off a public execution of a commoner like Quenser. That means there’s something the Faith Organization wants to ask him. It won’t be fun for him, but his life is ensured until he talks. As long as we show up before then, it’ll all work out.”
Skuld kept her head lowered as she glanced over at Heivia’s face.
She did not actually respond, but he seemed satisfied that she was at least listening.
Skuld pressed her face against her knees again and muttered something under her breath.
And she hid her expression with her knees to make sure no one noticed.
The corners of Skuld Silent-Third’s lips twisted up into a secret smile.
It was night.
The red sky looked like a sea of blood, but the sticky darkness was creeping in.
Unbeknownst to the soldiers, they were carrying a giant bomb as their rescue operation began.
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