Chapter 3 - Ardi and Rimsi
The two puppets standing on the stage of Sirius Dome –– one of them had a figure similar to a battle puppet. However, you could say that it was two times bigger than the ones normally operated. With a stature easily exceeding two meters, its form, which was clad in armor, looked like a machine-made knight.
And the other puppet in contrast, was mostly similar to a human –– and moreover, had an outward appearance, which was not discernible to that of a human woman. Its features were too perfectly arranged, and its delicate figure was wrapped in an armored-like metallic suit.
Both of them were adorned with the school badge “Dusk Owl” of Allekant Academy on the chest.
『"Well, well, finally the new model puppets of Allekant took off its veil! This time…… though they are the substitutes of the contestants, err, Ernesta Kuhne and Camilla Pareto –– actually, how do you see it, Tram-san?"』
『"Let’s see. Because of my line of work, I also happened to be engaged in countless arguments with battle puppets, but if based on that, however much its efficiency is improved, honestly I don’t think they could stand against a Starpulse Generation. Even though the battle puppets up to now were, for the most, operated by humans from the exterior, they would never match us regarding the reaction speed. Since no matter what, a time lag would be generated in response."』
『"I see, I see. But then, what about the puppets this time, which are an autonomous type?"』
『"Hmm, certainly, they have self-consciousness……or perhaps should I say an AI of a level where self-judgment is possible and put in practical use for the time being, but still I have never seen that they possess the ability to make judgment at the level of Starpulse Generation in combat."』
『"Hahaha, I see. But, the regulations were expressly revised so as to insert these two puppets! So we can expect that it would surely not be only on that level, right……and oh, excuse me for a moment……yes, yes, I see……Err, ahem! Excuse me! Just now, information regarding the two puppets was delivered to the live seat. And moreover it is from the developer, the contestant Ernesta Kuhne!"』
『"E~eh, well it’s a nice service."』
『"By all means, it said “today, I am hereby lifting the ban on information”. Oh, and then, according to this information, the name of the big one is autonomous type puppet prototype AR–D alias Ardi, and the female type is autonomous type puppet prototype RM–C alias Rimsi."』
『"Just in case, does ‘substitute participation’ mean that it is better to put up a contestant?"』
『"Hahaha, I wonder how it is. Well, that aside, there are also a lot of information, which seem interesting, for example……"』
While listening to the commentator and reporter, the rank of #12, the of Le Wolfe Black Institute, Moritz, who was facing Ardi and Rimsi, annoyingly clucked.
“Hmph, I don’t like that……! That the likes of machine puppets attracted attention in vain……”
Though the appearance of Moritz with ruffled black hair was like a dead tree, his expression was strangely sharp. His tone was polite, and he was firmly wearing his uniform, which was something unusual for a student of Le Wolfe.
Though of the lowest seat in the Top Twelve of Le Wolfe, he should have originally gathered the public attention as one of the major contenders, but the leading actor on this stage was evident for everyone.
“To treat me like a stalking horse, I see that even the administration does sometimes screw around……!”
“……So, aniki, what do we do?”
Moritz’s tag partner Gerd, who spat out so from behind him, accosted him in a low voice while activating his Lux. His sturdy build was dignified by shouldering an assault rifle, which he held in his hands with competence.
Though Moritz was a leader of a group of dozens of people in Le Wolfe, Gerd was one of the the most skilled even among the underlings. Thanks to his excellent shooting skills, they managed to reach the main battle (final stage) with this tag team even in the last Phoenix. Above all, his obedient and taciturn side was also pleasant.
“There is no need to ask. We do as usual. For the time being, you have to devote yourself as the backup.”
After all, since there was no data at all of the opponents, he could not set up a strategy. Though each academy also sometimes prepared a hidden card for the Festa, and it was also not unusual that there were opponents with no data on them, nevertheless this time was a too much rare case.
“You humans there! Listen well!”
In a sound volume as to shake the air like an electric shock, Ardi, which folded his arms, spoke towards Moritz and Gerd.
“I stand in this battlefield under the command of my great master! And at the same time, my long-cherished desire is not to attain victory itself, but to make known my dignified appearance that was granted by master! Therefore, I want you to become a cornerstone that exhibits that evidence!”
Moritz was somewhat broad-minded but couldn't quite believe that a machine could talk intelligibly, and yet with an extremely arrogant tone too.
Ignoring Moritz, who was taken aback, Ardi further continued to speak.
“I will give you one minute of time. In the meantime, I will not move even one finger. You should freely set an attack.”
To these words, veins ran to Moritz’s temple, and he fell into a blank stare.
But, the moment that the enraged Moritz took a step forward, a light bullet exploded in the temporal region of Ardi’s head. A dull sound reverberated and Ardi’s head slightly swayed.
“……It hurts, Rimsi.” As Ardi complained in a sullen voice.
Rimsi, standing nearby, coldly replied without even looking at him. Before one knew it, a large handgun type Lux was grasped in her hand.
“Yeesh, you brainless dull idiotic ignorant hunk of metal. With what kind of authority do you voice such bullshit? If you have so much energy to spit out such worthless grumbling, you should use it for master’s sake. We should just faithfully and reliably carry out master’s command. Even now, you can return to the lab and receive maintenance. About your head, got it? Oh, but then, since you will cause trouble to master, you should rather break and perish here. If you want, I may lend you a hand for that.”
Like Ardi…… No, that one was using a more fluent tone. However, this one, Rimsi, seemed to be more machine-like with no emotions.
By the way, in a Festa, launching an attack before the match the announced start was a foul act of immediate disqualification, but in case of one’s teammate becoming one’s opponent, it would not be restricted.
“Even you say so, Rimsi. If fellows of this level are our opponents, our superiority –– will not be eventually enough to make them understand however much a noble grand existence master is. If so, I judge that something like an effective performance was necessary, but……”
“Certainly, it is a splendid idea to make known master’s greatness. Let’s evaluate that point.”
“That’s right, that’s right!”
Ardi repeatedly nodded contentedly.
“Hmm……? No, then why did you shoot me?”
“Because I was somehow pissed.”
Rimsi flatly asserted with her deadpan as it is.
“……Unh, then it cannot be helped.”
Ardi kept quiet while rubbing the shot mark.
As Rimsi sighed by seeing it, she turned towards Moritz and Gerd.
“Well, humans. Even though it was bullshit from a defective trash machine, if I were to revoke what he had already said, it would bring disgrace to master. Therefore, though I am reluctant, I also promise that for one minute I will not attack.”
To these words, as he had already passed his anger, a light amazed and mocking smile floated on Moritz’s face.
“……Ha-hahaha! Is that so, then I will take upon your offer without reservation.”
If carefully thinking about it, there was no need to get angry if the opponent was expressly willing to present a disadvantageous condition. Though he did not like how they were underestimated, such a thing was trivial when compared to a win in the Festa.
“Gerd, you take care of the thinner one. I will take care of the big one.”
Gerd who was in the rear slightly nodded.
『"Well now, it kind of became something amazing; but it’s almost the start time! A showcase match; which tag team will emerge victorious?"』
Almost at the same time with the live broadcast, which heralded so, the school badges declared the match start.
“Phoenix block H first round pair, match start!”
As soon as the match started, Moritz rushed straight from the front towards Ardi.
Gusts of wind, which suddenly arose, clung to both his arms, and formed drill-shaped triangular pyramids.
This was Moritz’s ability as Dante –– the , which scooped out all things. Though it was an ability which did not effectively work in practical use, if looking at the only aspect of simple destructive power, there was no doubt that it was top class ability even in Le Wolfe.
Rather, the overly high offensive ability and his strange aggressiveness were, for the most part, to be penalized as atrocities (cruelty).
However, fortunately, the opponents this time were not humans. So he could exercise his ability to his heart’s content.
(If I have one minute, then it’s enough. I will make (do) you scrap in no time……!)
The drill-shaped wind raised a roar, and increased its rotation.
As declared, Ardi did not show sign of moving and remained with his arms folded.
“Hahaha, what good courage! As you desire, I will make a wind hole in those guts!”
Moritz’s right arm let out to pierce the abdomen of Ardi, who had a daunting pose.
The blow was prevented by a wall of translucent light that appeared without any warning in front of Ardi. It was a thin rectangle of about one meter wide and two meters height. It looked like a space screen at first glance, but unlike it, it seemed to somehow possess a physical interference power.
“Damn it! But don’t think that such a thing would continue defending against my power!”
The in Moritz’s arm raised a roar, and further increased its rotation.
Sparks scattered as if dancing, and a shrill fricative sound-like a cry reverberated.
––Even so, the wall did not budge.
“––It is useless.”
Ardi arrogantly declared.
In that declaration, honesty to tell an undeniable fact and clear self-confidence were coexisting.
As Moritz instantly sneaked around behind Ardi, he drove the aiming at the back this time.
(I don’t know of what kind of structure it was made, but if I attack from a blind spot, then...!)
In order to take full advantage of his ability itself, which specialized in close combat, Moritz also had a high level of taijutsu. From the opponent’s perspective, his flowing movements should only be seen as if they disappeared. Though he launched blow with absolute confidence –– the result betrayed him.
The wall of light, which suddenly appeared as a while ago, deflected Moritz’s attack.
As expected, Ardi did not move an inch. Of course, he was not even looking towards Moritz.
“––Another 45 seconds.”
At that moment, Moritz felt an indescribable shiver, and promptly took a distance.
Cold sweat streamed down his back.
He wondered, right now perhaps, if he wasn't having terrifying second thoughts as opponents might.
As such a thought crossed his mind, Moritz shook his head as to drive it away.
“Gerd, Strategy change! Here……” As he halted in mid speech right there.
Moritz looked back and opened his eyes wide.
Gerd, who was facing the other puppet –– Rimsi, seemed to having a fierce gun battle. They mutually set up large gun type Lux, and countless light bullets were flying about between them.
But, looking closely, it was always from Gerd that attacks were launched; Rimsi was only returning his bullets as a way to fight back.
Rimsi was not fighting back. She was just defending against being shot at by directionally rebounding the bullets.
Normally, when light bullets of Lux collided into each other, as long as there was no great amount of energy difference, they would just disappear. However, of course aiming expressly at each and every one was virtually impossible. Moreover, being able to shoot all the bullets scattered from a semi-auto, was already in the domain of superhuman feat.
Rimsi was managing it with a cool face, without moving one step.
“Such a thing……is impossible!”
Also in the voice of the usually calm Gerd, impatience was spreading.
While changing the distance and moving around, he waited for an opening and shot a rain of light bullets –– but still, nothing got through.
“––Another 30 seconds.”
Moritz, who was looking at that spectacle agape, came to his senses after being startled by Ardi’s voice.
Both Ardi and Rimsi were devoting themselves to the defense, exactly like they declared.
If they were to turn and mount an attack……?
Moritz concentrated his prana, and raised a cry as to brush aside the fear born in him.
(Then, I just have to crush him within the time!)
A stormy wind raged around Moritz; it converged and a tornado like dragon rose up. The pointed end became a with the shape of the drill, and started to pull out only the core of the giant drill.
The audience rustled to the bold move, which shook the air.
Moritz’s trump card was a special skill. Though there were not many opportunities to use it from the fact that control was difficult, the consumption of prana was intense, and above all, the attack speed was painfully slow to hit the opponent, if only considering the destructive power, he had pride that it was the greatest in Le Wolfe.
Moritz shook his arms, and in accordance with it the tornado moved so as to wriggle the dragon; it rushed on at a stretch aiming at Ardi.
As a while ago, the wall of light, which suddenly manifested, intercepted it. Intense sparks, as if a small explosion occurred, danced down, and a shrill sound as the rubbing of metal pierced the ears.
Nevertheless still, Ardi did not move.
Moritz poured prana as much as he could have to the .
However –– the wall of light did not shake.
Though for a while the tornado was violently twisting like a dragon rampaging…… the wind began to weaken little by little before long, and its rotation gradually became loose.
As he used up his prana, Moritz, heavily breathing, weakly sat down.
Though Ardi, with a daunting pose, was looking down at such Moritz, he suddenly unfolded his arms and said.
As he activated the Lux with his hand at the same time, a huge hammer as much as Ardi’s height appeared. Its head was as thickly big as that when Moritz widened both his hands.
“It is time!”
As Ardi came walking to Moritz with slow and heavy steps, he lightly raised the hammer.
Moritz looked up at it while sinking down to the floor; he could no longer do anything but to reveal cramp laughter.
When he turned his gaze aside for an instant, Gerd was already lying down on the ground.
The hammer was swung down at the same time that Moritz muttered so––
“End of the match! Winner, Ernesta Kuhne & Camilla Pareto!”
In the hall that fell silent as if striking water, the mechanical sound, which told the conclusion of the match, echoed.
All the spectators present in the audience were agape.
Hurried footsteps resounded after a short time; it was the medical staff dispatched from the Medical Center, which came to carry out Moritz and Gerd with pale faces.
Afterwards finally, thunderous applauses and cheers poured down over the stage.
『"This-This is a big surprise! The time it took to settle the match is just one minute! No, if it’s that much, it isn’t something rare. In fact, today’s second match was settled more quickly. However, we could say that the one minute, in which we had witnessed a glimpse of ability of contestant Ardi and contestant Rimsi, was really dense, yet rich! Don’t tell me those two –– oh, for convenience, “those two” referred to contestant Ardi and contestant Rimsi; anyway, to think that those two have that much combat ability……"』
“––Good grief, they had been completely eaten.”
When Julis said so and turned off the TV, she took a deep breath and sank herself in the sofa.
Ayato included, also both Kirin and Saya had long faces, which showed that they haven't yet come to believe what they saw.
“Well, I guess today’s top news will be this, definitely. Otherwise, it would be princess and Ayato.”
Even Eishiro, who said so, had an expression that could not hide his surprise.
“But, to think that that < septentriospiral magician =""> was completely helpless……it was indeed surprising.”
“Y-You are right……if we are to confront those two, I think that they will be formidable enemies.”
To Kirin, who muttered in a thin voice, Julis slowly shook her head.
“No, if it is only about winning, we, as well as you, can properly deal with people of Moritz’s level. Thats not the problem.”
“……It’s as Riessfeld said.”
Then Saya nodded as to agree with it.
“That wall of light. That is troublesome.”
“I don’t know what kind of trick is used for it, but judging from the fact that it completely defended against Moritz’s ability, average offensive abilities wouldn't be able to break through.”
As it became troublesome, Julis rested her chin on her hand.
“Perhaps that wall of light is an application of a defense barrier……is what I think.”
“When you say defense barrier, do you refer to something similar to what is put around this stage? But that should be a really large-scale device……”
Surrounding the stage, a defensive barrier-wall is erected in order to protect the audience from stray bullets or emergency accidents and the like; but a large quantity of energy and a large-scale system were necessary for that.
“Perhaps all that was miniaturized so as to allow it to deploy independently……”
“Indeed. Well, since I’m going to the winner's interview and listen to what they say, I will ask.”
Eishiro said and stood up from the sofa.
“You say you will ask, but……how?”
“It’s almost time for the winner’s interview, right? I will try to see if I can’t creep in.”
“Eh? B-But, they don’t allow the student press in there……”
While the outer press media were not allowed within the campus, in official events under the direct control of Asterisk such as the Festa, it was a principle to give priority to the off-campus press. There, people with student’s status were probably not even allowed in the press conference room.
“Hehehe, doing something about it is what being a first-class journalist is. Well, just see.”
He said To Kirin, who seemed to be anxious. Eishiro broadly laughed and left the waiting room with light steps
“……Well, if that guy learns any information that might be useful later, I will be thankful in that case. We should just wait without expecting much.”
Exactly as stated, Julis had a face which showed that she was not expecting anything at all.
“––But, I want the data.”
Saya muttered so with a serious expression.
“Yeah. It is first certain that we as well as those puppets would reach the final stage (main battle). We must collect as much information as we can until then.”
While the other side had their data, it was indeed disadvantageous for them since they could collect data based only on today’s match.
“If possible, I would like to watch the match directly.”
Since the flow of prana and the movement of the mana could not be understood from a video, if it was possible, directly confirming it with her own eyes would be the best way. Though the ticket of the Festa, however lowest the seat was, was a special platinum ticket, the competitors could use the booth to watch the matches of any academy.
“That’s, if possible. The first round aside, the match interval will become shorter and shorter from now on. If there are matches on the same day like today, it will be difficult, too.”
“Oh, I see.”
If the match locations were different, it would be hard just to move between them, and even within the same hall or dome, depending on the order of the matches, they would not be able to watch a match leisurely.
“……Hmm, Excuse me a bit.”
Suddenly, Saya took out a portable terminal.
She immediately opened a space window, but nothing was reflected in there. In case where the calling party had turned the video transmission off and that the receiver had turned it on, it would become like this. In other words, it was a form where her image reached the other side, but only the sound from the other side reached her side.
『"Oh, Saya, huh! Hey, did you see it? The match now!"』
“……I saw it.”
『"Fufufu, The producer of that –– you did say she is called Ernesta Kuhne, right? She is very good even though young! From just what I saw, more than five mana dites should have been used in those puppets. But instead to letting them directly connect, the control area is moist in the concomitance control (management) system around one core. Yeah, interesting indeed! They might hardly being controlled by humans, but if it is an AI, it will be theoretically possible!"』
“……I understand. But, calm down a little.”
『"Hmm? Oh, sorry sorry!"』
The voice of the man, who kept talking and suddenly got excited, was familiar to Ayato.
“Um……is it perhaps Soichi-ojisan?”
『"Oh, Ayato-kun, huh! It’s been a long time! I also watched your match! Uh-huh, it’s great that you look fine."』
That joyful voice was certainly that of Sasamiya Soichi, Saya’s father, who lived as a neighbor.
However, at the same time Ayato felt a little uncomfortable to that voice. Something subtle that felt unnatural.
“Ayato. So that means that this is……”
“Ah, yeah. It is Saya’s father.”
As he answered so to Julis, who asked in a low voice, Kirin next to Saya quickly bowed her head.
“U-Um! Nice to meet you! I am the tag partner of Saya in this Phoenix, Toudou Kirin!”
『"Oh, of the Toudou school! I have heard rumors; she is an incompetent daughter, but please take care of her!"』
“Y-Yeah! It is my pleasure!”
“……So father. What do you want?”
With a slightly embarrassed expression, Saya urged.
『"Oh! Oh, yes that’s right! I sent you a new gun; hasn’t it arrived yet?"』
“A new gun……? No, it hasn’t arrived.”
『"Hmm…… Perhaps, it has been stopped at the customs house. Try to check it. I thought you have received it before the Phoenix, but at this rate, it’s unlikely to be in time for the first round.』
“No problem. With the current armaments, I can fully win through.”
As Saya confidently said so with a serious face, Soichi’s voice happily laughed.
『"Hmm. Of course! As long as you use my gun, there is no way you would lose! Then, good luck! I’ll expect good results!"』
As he kept talking one-sidedly, the space window disappeared. This part of him had not really changed.
(Was it my imagination……?)
Ayato was bothered a little by the uncomfortable feeling of earlier, but since it was nowhere yet concrete, he decided to put it aside for the time being.
“How surprising……it is a talkative father unlike his daughter, Sasamiya.”
“I have stopped that. If I had let it go, he might be talking all day long.”
When Saya said so, she closed her portable terminal and left her seat.
“……Well. I'll go to the customs for a little bit to check if the gun arrived.”
“Oh, then I will go, too!”
Like that, Saya and Kirin left the room together.
Ayato and Julis, who were left, looked at each other.
“……So, what do we do?”
“Let’s see. For the time being, a toast in celebration of the victory of the first match…… is what I would like to say, but I can’t say such a leisurely thing when we were shown such a thing from Allekant.”
As Julis stood up with a wry smile, she held out her hand to Ayato, who was sitting.
“Let’s go back to the school and train. even if just a little. The second round is in four days anyway. We must do this thoroughly.”
As Ayato similarly revealed a wry smile, he took her hand.
“Hi, hi, both of you, good work! It was a nice performance.”
In the corridor and heading toward the press conference room, Ernesta welcomed Ardi and Rimsi with a big smile.
“Thank you, master.” Rimsi respectfully got down on a knee.
“Fuhahaha! Well, this much is natural!”
Whereas Ardi, with his arms crossed, heartily laughed.
Rimsi, who saw it in side glance, gave Ardi a sharp tripping up as if creeping on the ground.
Ardi, who nearly collapsed, tried to recover his balance with quickness unexpected from his large build, but his head was forcibly slammed on the ground by Rimsi, who hopped on his back even faster.
Ardi tried to raise his body, but she did not budge at all.
“What is that attitude towards master? You should be ashamed.”
“It hurts, Rimsi. You were serious, right?”
“Of course. There is no need to hold back to a fool, who is rude to master.”
Rimsi’s voice was cold, but a clear anger could be felt there.
Ernesta seeing it nodded contentedly.
Machines, which analyzed the situation and carried out self-judgment, were not that unusual. There were also already machines, which possessed the thing called ‘free will’. What Ernesta wanted to make was machines, which possessed emotions and could express them.
At that point, while being prototypes, Ardi and Rimsi were already close to Ernesta’s ideal form.
“Now, now, leave it at that, Rimsi. It’s not as if Ardi really means anything bad. More importantly, if we don’t reach the press conference room soon, Camilla would get tired of waiting.”
“......If master says so.”
As Ernesta calmed her, Rimsi reluctantly released her hand.
The autonomous behavior was perfect and various numerical values were stable, too. It was going well almost too smoothly.
As she got wind of the matter of the other day, the guys of the could not afford to make a bad move for a while, since they seemed to be watched by guards. There was also no concern towards the environment.
As Ernesta chuckled, Ardi stood up and tilted his thick head to the side.
“By the way, master. I have a question.”
“Yes, what is it?”
“Rimsi and I should not be that much different on the specs output, right?”
“Right. Well, since the physique difference was made out due to the allocation of equipment and materials available, there is quite a difference in the actual work output data.”
Ernesta leisurely replied while walking.
“Then, why may I not fight against Rimsi?”
“Oh, there is no help for it. The reason is, 『The woman commands nature to preserve in the highest manifestation, and the man commands nature to most optimally fulfill the woman's desires』. Even old people say good things.”
It was the famous words of an old dramatist.
“In this world, the woman comes first. It means that you guys also cannot escape from that destiny.”
“In other words, since I am a male type, I cannot win against Rimsi, who is a woman type?”
“It would be so.”
“……Uh-huh, then it cannot be helped.”
Of course, there was no way that was true.
Ernesta stuck out her tongue in her mind.
That Ardi could not go against Rimsi was exactly because he was programed to use Rimsi as a safety.
Otherwise, it would be dangerous.
“––Certainly, all the past winners of the Festa were mostly women.”
Said Rimsi, who was apparently searching past data, followed up so.
“Is that so”, Ernesta inwardly admired. Since she was not that interested in the Festa, she had never checked such data.
“Well, even the of Le Wolfe, who is the history’s strongest and most famous is a girl. Besides, there are also scary children, who came out from Le Wolfe in this Phoenix, right?”
While saying so, Ernesta slightly tightened her face.
She was thinking that it would be the boy of Seidoukan, who would become her biggest obstacle in this tournament, but there were also other troublesome pairs, who were participating as well. Even in this tournament, which was said to be relatively full of small grains in advance reviews, had gathered quite the lineup, which could not be taken lightly, when looking at the actual situation. In the end, it meant that there was no such Festa, in which one could easily win through.
Though she did not even consider the possibility of Ardi and Rimsi losing, she could also not deny that there were opponents, who would be somewhat troublesome.
“It would save me if they properly fight though.”
As Ernesta said so, she looked up at the ceiling and slightly smiled wryly.
Jump up↑ AI: Artificial Intelligence
Jump up↑ big brother; here is said in form of respect
Jump up↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taijutsu
Jump up↑ Ojisan literally means Uncle in Japanese. Can also be used as a slightly impolite way to address a middle aged man, similar to the English “Mister”
Jump up↑ He didn't even know specifically where that feeling came from
Jump up↑ here small grains are comparable to weak contestants.