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Episode 3: Special People / Stand By Me
“So this thing is equipped with Sensory Circuits and Mode Messiah…”
Bruno, the head of the Masquerade Maintenance Division, spoke as he looked up at the pitch-black Phantom.
In his mid-thirties, he sported a stubbly beard and brunette hair that was tied back.
“I know that. But Luca…… the girl who stole this unit told me that it somehow took over her body. Do you know what could have caused that?”
Lieselotte also looked up at the Phantom.
Inside the War God Battleship Odin’s hangar were thirty mass-produced Masquerades.
Lieselotte’s Weisselillie and the Royal Guard’s machines were housed in a different hangar.
“C’mon, Lieselotte-sama… they’re Sensory Circuits, y’know?”
Bruno spoke while smoking a cigarette.
Though he appeared to be somewhat crass, Lieselotte never really scolded him for it.
Because they’d known each other for a long time now.
“You plan on installing them in my Weisselillie, right?”
“Yeah, well they’re pretty advanced. I mean, Sensory Circuit-equipped units are extremely rare to begin with.”
The Holy Raal Empire only possessed ten such machines.
To begin with, Sensory Circuits utilized the emotional energy of people who possess a Sixth Sense of level three or above in order to activate Mode Messiah.
Mode Messiah was a state which allowed the usage of energy weapons which far surpassed normal armaments.
But as their name implies, an energy weapon needs energy in order to function. And a Masquerade’s power cells are unable keep up with these requirements.
“Yes. Seven years ago, there was only unit in the entire world that was equipped with them.”
The number of humans possessing the Sixth Sense was low to begin with. And on top of that, the numbers of those at level 3 weren’t even enough to be counted.
During displays of strong emotion, humans possessing the Sixth Sense released far more energy than normal humans do. To the point where they could potentially destroy the world with their rage alone.
“You mean the legendary unit Espoire?”
“Yes. The King of Pastia piloted it himself and fought to defend his country. It was thanks to the extreme firepower that the Espoire displayed at that time that research about Sensory Circuits and the Sixth Sense spread throughout the world.”
But nobody had been able to salvage even a single piece of the Espoir’s remains. It vanished like a mirage, leaving only its legendary firepower behind.
“Up until then, people with the Sixth Sense were shunned and treated like children of the devil, huh…”
Bruno took a drag off his cigarette while looking at Lieselotte.
“Hmph. And? To return to the subject of our conversation, what exactly is inside the Phantom?”
“A quantum brain.”
“It’s not a complete one, though.”
An electronic brain, required for a robot to achieve full standalone operations. That’s what a quantum brain was. But they only existed in the form of conjecture, and Lieselotte had never heard of one actually being built in real life.
“Is it an Autodoll?”
That was the name for a fully-independent robot which was installed with a quantum brain.
“Didn’t I just say that it wasn’t complete?” Bruno shrugged. “Quantum brains eat up a lot of energy. So it’s normally kept in sleep mode, only maintaining awareness of its immediate surroundings.”
“Once awakened, it uses an accumulated database of battle data in order to perform the optimal attack assistance… or something along those lines.”
“So it would be more like a semi-autodoll?”
“Something like that, yeah. The UN really is way more advanced than us, though… even if it’s incomplete, they were able to produce an actual quantum brain.”
“It’s not a problem, as that quantum brain has now fallen into our hands. When we return to base, dissect it in a lab and perform a thorough examination.”
“Eh?” Bruno’s eyes went wide. “You’re not going to use it?”
“We don’t have anyone who’s able to pilot it.”
Excluding Lieselotte, the War God Battleship Odin had no pilots with a Level 3 Sixth Sense.
“Then let’s just have you pilot it, Lieselotte-sama. We can even paint it white.”
“I’ll pass on being controlled by a robot. And I’m fond of my Weisselillie.”
Lieselotte treasured the Weisselillie just as much as if it was the girl who it was themed after– Luca herself.
“Then how about that girl? The one who stole it, I mean. Don’t you think it’s a waste to have her working as a maid?”
“She will serve as my maid. I’ve already made my decision.”
Luca feared the Phantom. And she wasn’t a soldier to begin with. It would be cruel to have her get inside that thing and fight.
“Aah, what a waste… but if the research of Autodolls can advance instead, I guess that’d be fine too.”
One day, after mankind had been wiped out, an Autodoll may dream in a decayed world. Lieselotte had such a feeling.
“I wonder if she realizes that her expression’s loosened up?” Bruno thought to himself as Lieselotte left while speaking of maids.
“But it’s seriously been seven years since then……”
Once the Espoir was brought up, his thoughts went back to that time.
“The Ojouchan who ran out to save her friend is a now a lovely lady… khaa, I’m getting on in years myself.”
Seven years ago, even though she’d just enlisted, Lieselotte disobeyed all sorts of orders and left for battle all alone in order to save her friend. Bruno was the person who opened the hatch for her at that time.
“The Espoir wasn’t the only thing that became a legend back then, Lieselotte-sama.”
That day, Lieselotte returned alive. Even though nobody expected it.
She’d shot down 31 Masquerades. Downed a single battleship. That was the battle record of Lieselotte, who had sortied in a mass-produced Masquerade.
It was thanks to these achievements that the Holy Raal Empire officially recognized the usefulness of the Sixth Sense.
“You’re special, y’know?”
Bruno had been watching Lieselotte ever since that day. And three years ago when she announced her intent to conquer the world, he clutched his stomach with laughter.
And he placed his bets on that dream of hers. That dream that countless kings had declared and failed to achieve.
“Aah, but wasn’t she unable to save her friend in the end……?”
Around the same time, the mess hall in the aerial battleship Arianrhod was steeped in anguish.
Of course this was due to the death of 《Purple Lightning Celia》.
Even though nobody had told them to, everyone was gathered in the mess hall. Not because the former cook Luca was the one who killed her, but rather because it was where lots of happy memories had been created.
The Masquerade Squad’s Harold Brown had also arrived in the mess hall.
He was a 19-year-old male, and possessed a special power. That power had been recognized by Celia.
His wavy red hair had been styled with wax and wrapped in a bun. Every single day, he made sure to maintain it. Because he hoped that Celia would think of him as a stylish guy.
“If something were to happen to me, you’re the one who shall protect the world!”
Celia said that with a smile.
How many jokes had they told in this mess hall?
Everyone loved Celia. She had a strong sense of justice, was kind, and was a truly straightforward person. Though there were those who found her to be annoyingly straitlaced, they were in the minority.
The girl sitting next to Harold– Amelia, called him by his nickname.
She was in the same Masquerade Squad as Harold, and Celia’s subordinate.
Her bright green hair was tied in a ponytail. This was to imitate the hairstyle of Celia, who she respected.
Amelia was 19 years old, just like Harold.
“It’s painful, huh……”
Amelia knew that Harold liked Celia.
“You’d finally asked Captain Celia out on a date, huh……”
Yes. Harold had asked Celia out time and again. And finally, she promised to go out on a date during their next day off.
But just then, Celia died. But she was killed by that traitorous cook.
“You want to avenge her, huh……”
“I won’t,” Harold said. “Captain Celia wouldn’t want that, would she?”
Celia wouldn’t want that. That’s just the kind of person she was.
So he wouldn’t seek revenge. Because Celia would be sad if she knew that he was living for vengeance.
“I hate that cook, too! But what’s the point in creating a chain of hatred!? That’s not the kind of just world that Captain Celia wished for, is it!?”
“But even so! I know that! But why did Captain Celia…… Captain Celia…… she was such a special person, too……”
Amelia collapsed sobbing.
“We’ll carry on Captain Celia’s will and defeat the Demon King…… That’s the greatest sendoff we can give to her……”
Celia had stated that it was her duty to defeat that Demon King Lieselotte Falkenmeyer who had plunged the entire world into chaos and war.
And he would succeed that duty.
But that would have to wait until later.
Because the aerial battleship Arianrhod had just received an order to temporarily return home.
Because the higher-ups wanted to decide who was to take responsibility for the Phantom’s theft.
“I swear, I’ll defeat that Demon King.”
Harold clenched his fist and held back his tears.
“You’ll protect this world!”
And took Celia’s words to heart.
“So, why exactly are you a maid?”
Krista asked, sitting in front of Luca who was eating dinner alone in the Odin’s mess hall.
She’d gotten into a little fight with Marie so they weren’t together at the moment.
Because Marie was angry about Luca’s deciding on her own to start working in the War God Battleship Odin.
“Well, I told Liese…… lotte-sama that I wanted to work, and she said ‘then why not look after me?'”
Luca was wearing a maid uniform.
A black onepiece with a frilly white apron. Though it was a standard maid uniform, she found its skirt to be kind of short.
On her head was a laced headdress.
And she’d been told that she’d start working right after dinner. Her first job would be to deliver Liese’s dinner to her room.
“Hmm. So Lieselotte-sama said that.”
Resting her chin on her hand, Krista narrowed her eyes.
“Lieselotte doesn’t let anyone approach her. Even we of the Royal Guard keep our distance, you know? Not even I have so much as been inside her room……”
Krista looked extremely bitter.
“Is that right?”
“It is. What did you do to charm her?”
She was unsure whether it was okay to just tell her that it was because they were already friends.
If she did, Krista would be sure to inquire as to the details of how they met.
Krista heaved a sigh after seeing how troubled Luca appeared to be.
Though she seemed scary at first, Luca thought that she was actually a pretty good person.
“You hold the achievement of shooting down 《Purple Lightning Celia.》”
《Purple Lightning Celia.》
The person who Luca killed. Though it wasn’t her will to do so, that didn’t change the fact that she killed her.
She was the Captain of the Arianrhod’s Masquerade Squad, and holder of the Sixth Sense. Luca had seen her laughing in the mess hall. Celia was adored by everyone.
“Instead of a maid, why not become a Masquerade pilot? The pay’s better and you’d be of more use to Liselotte-sama, you know?”
“Nah. I can pilot a Masquerade and all, but fighting is kinda……”
She had no experience.
The most she’d even seen before this were fistfights between Masquerades at a work site.
“Huh!?” Krista was shocked. “But your movements back there were amazing!”
“Umm, that’s because the Phantom went and……”
“What are you talking about? The fact that Mode Messiah activated in the first place was because you possess the Sixth Sense, isn’t it? And a level 3, too. You’re definitely better off piloting a Masquerade.”
“There’s no way I can do that.”
Luca wasn’t a soldier, and she never had been one in the past.
“Hmph. For the person who shot down Lieselotte-sama’s greatest rival 《Purple Lightning Celia》 to say such a thing, how humble can you get?”
“Good grief,” Krista threw her hands in the air while shaking her head.
“Well, I’m more suited to being a maid.”
These were Luca’s true feelings. She would serve Liese at her side. That’s what she decided to do.
So that Liese could focus on world conquest, Luca would take care of all the little things.
“I want to tend to Liese when she comes to her room all exhausted,” she thought to herself.
Though she didn’t really understand why, she’d get a warm feeling in her chest whenever she thought about Liese.
Whatever could this feeling be?
Though it felt strange, it was in no way unpleasant.
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