Chapter 11 Let’s design, build and assemble
Editors: Darkdhaos, Fate Trooper, Chris S, alkin
The plan proposed by the pilot faculty’s maintenance department-- breaking out of the mould of repairing Silhouette Knights, they had started the building process of the new machine model for half a month now. During this period, the school had resumed classes, and the middle schooler Ernesti had returned to his usual daily life.
The bell announcing the end of lessons rang, and the classroom that was quiet when class was in session turned rowdy. The teacher sighed at the sudden change in the students and left after bidding farewell. The day’s lesson had finished and school was out. The students who were free from class could spend their time as they pleased. Even though they could be attacked by Demon beast if they took a step out of the city, the existence known as students remained the same. It applied to Eru and the others, too, although their situation was different.
“Eru, Eru! Let’s go practice! Come, we have to work hard today, too!”
“Alright, alright, you don’t need to pull so hard, I will go with you.”
Ady couldn’t wait as she pulled Eru’s hand and Chid followed behind them. They attend classes in middle school during the day, and head for the pilot faculty’s workshop when school is out. This was their daily schedule recently.
The workshop was noisy as usual. But the situation today was different. Eru and the others who were chattering when they arrived felt the heavy atmosphere. They saw the Boss, who was resting on a chair and approached him.
“Hello Boss. Why does everyone look so tired today?”
“Ah, silver boy… nothing much, it’s just that thing. We made the strand crystal tissue.”
“The thing suggested by Eru?”
“Correct, but… I didn’t expect the pilot faculty to need a bobbin machine. The clothing faculty’s people insisted that we do it seriously, and showed us no mercy.”
The Boss’ eyes were out of focus, a hint of sorrow that couldn’t be described as an achievement. The three of them almost bursted out laughing when they imagined the muscle bound dwarf using a bobbin machine; that must have be hilarious.
“Well, thank you for your hard work, Boss.”
“Thank you, but it was worth it. Nah, look at this.”
The document the Boss tossed to Eru listed a lot of numbers, listing the difference when using normal crystal tissue compared to strand crystal tissue in different situations.
Other than that, there was also comparison data for different braiding methods. During the strand crystal tissue creation process, they discovered that using good braiding methods were more effective than simple braiding.
“When I requested the clothing faculty to show me the various ways of braiding crystal tissue, they almost called for a shrink.”
The information they gathered from their honourable sacrifice was priceless. The best braiding method improved the maximum power output by one and a half times, the tightly braided tissues went through repeated stretching tests, displaying a toughness ten times stronger than before.
“It’s better than we expected. I thought the output would increase by twenty percent, and the lifespan would be extended two times…”
“Ha! You are the proposer, but don’t think we didn’t do anything. Eh, I don’t deny that I am cocky because I attained actual results. I just wanted to test it out, but the results varied wildly depending on how it was used. I think the parts that were used casually have a lot of room for improvement.”
As he spoke, the Boss laughed like an innocent child. Standing next to Eru, it was hard to tell who was the little kid. As the two of them were discussing the results, there was a sudden uproar coming from within the workshop, and someone was shouting for the Boss.
“Boss! The replacement for the arm tissue had been completed!”
“Oh! I will be right there! … We are going to test the strand model. Boy, come with us, too.”
“Of course, please let me see it!”
At the edge of the workshop was a giant figure with some of the armour around the right arm removed, revealing the crystal tissue underneath. The tissues of the arm were thick, which were obviously strand crystal tissue.
If the tissue had the same colour as living beings, it would definitely be a scene that was not for the faint-hearted. Fortunately, the crystal tissue was murky white. Placed inside the giant body of the Silhouette Knight, it gave an impression of being a statue.
“Alright-- Step back! We will be doing test movements! ...Good, please proceed, Helvi!”
“Roger. Proceeding now.”
The students working in the vicinity dispersed. The pilot, Helvi Öberg entered the machine seated on the repair dock. The hatch in the chest slowly closed with the sound of compressed air.
They had already investigated the mana output of the crystal tissue, but this was the first time they were testing it in an actual machine. The eyes of the students in the area were sparkling with anticipation, watching with bated breath. The right arm installed with the strand model gripped a giant metal lump. The Silhouette Knight obeyed the command to lift its arm, and the crystal tissue could be seen contracting and bulging through the gaps of the armour.
“Oh… That is amazing.”
“Hee-- it has great strength, right?”
The metal lump lifted by the unit required a normal Silhouette Knight to use both hands in order to lift it. But it accomplished this easily with one hand. The power output of the strand crystal tissue was incredible. Maybe it was because of the unique nature of the strand model, or the lack of outer skin, but cracking sounds could be heard.
“Power output increment and toughness enhancement seem to be proceeding fine.”
“Right, now we can produce a machine that won’t break down easily even if the boy pilots it.”
“Right, now we can produce a machine that won’t break down easily even if the boy pilots it.”
As Eru and the Boss were passionately discussing the experiment results, a sound was getting louder, and a noise that didn’t seem to be from the crystal tissue could be heard.
“By the way Boss, do you hear something? It sounds like… friction.”
“What a coincidence, you heard that, too? So, I didn’t imagine that… What did you say?”
The two looked at each other and the instant they turned towards the machine-- they heard a crisp bang, and the right arm literally ‘broke’. The crystal tissue fell off and the arm loosened, dropping the metal lump onto the ground. But no one cared about that. The reason was that the armour was sent flying by the snapped crystal tissue, scattering all over. It’s no joke if you get hit by the armour fragments of Silhouette Knight, and hellish screams erupted in the workshop.
“Wahhhhh!? Ah, it’s coming this way…!!”
Unfortunately, one of it flew towards the Boss. Eru stepped before him in the nick of time, drawing his gun staff, Winchester to repel the fragments. Eru lowered his stance, shooting out a massive amount of compressed air, deflecting the force of the fragments away. The fragment made a dull explosive sound, drawing a large arc in the air before embedding itself in the wall behind them.
The Boss who was in the pilot faculty was a craftsman, together with the lack of agility of the dwarves, it's impossible to expect an immediate reaction. He shielded his body and stood stiffly in place like a statue. After a while, the Boss looked at the fragment stuck in the wall behind him. After seeing the fragment embedded deep in the wall, the Boss couldn’t utter a sound. Chid and Ady also maintained their position with their bayonet staffs out, the place was awkwardly silent.
The Boss returned to his senses in no time and immediately inspected the machine that exploded. The right hand was wrecked from the impact and looked terrible. The crystal tissue was scattered all over the place, even the inner skeleton was visible. Eru timidly asked the Boss, who was enthusiastically inspecting the right arm:
“... Boss, do tell us what you think.”
“Ah-- Right there. The crystal tissue itself is fine, but the base securing it to the structure snapped. The tissue increased the output too high, so the other parts couldn’t keep up. So, that’s why. Ara, we really lost to it.”
The Boss who was laughing dryly shut his mouth shortly after. After meeting Eru’s gaze, the two of them sighed deeply.
“Normal means wouldn’t work; we would need to modify the entire body this time.”
Even though the machine was damaged, miraculously, no one was hurt because it was kept at a distance. The students who crawled out cautiously sighed as they looked at the wrecked right arm.
Strand crystal tissue still had a way to go before practical application. Anyway, they have to reevaluate and use new methods to secure the tissues. It takes time going through the reevaluation from the beginning, the personnel involved in the designs would be busy for the foreseeable future.
“Well then Boss, I will leave this to you… we will go ahead with our training.”
“You take care of ‘that side’ for now. Okay… Hey, stop standing around!! We are starting over with strengthening the clamps!!”
He looked a bit down, but the Boss didn’t give up and threw himself into the work at hand.
Eru left the workshop that was getting noisy because of the repairs, following Chid and Ady to another corner of the workshop.
There were no Silhouette Knights there; instead there were several ‘full body armour’ that had interesting designs. Its height was big for a human, but it was just two and a half metres, small for a Silhouette Knight. The head and body were similar to a normal full body armour, the limbs were exceptionally long, and the ratio was off.
“Hello-- Batson, how are things going?”
“Oh, Eru. No problem, the ‘Silhouette Gear’ is in top condition today, too. I can vouch for that.”
Batson answered as he flexed the muscles in his arm. The name for this full body armour was ‘Silhouette Gear’, a substitute for a Silhouette Knight made through the plans proposed by Eru, it could be considered as a mini Silhouette Knight.
The row of Silhouette Gears was being worked on by students other than Batson. From their height, it was obvious that they were not from the high school department, but middle schoolers. The main point of the Silhouette Gear design was the ‘miniaturising and simplification of Silhouette Knights’, so the difficulty level was low, even middle schoolers, who were aiming to be craftsmen could build it. Batson being involved was a good example, but he had already made a bunch of weird stuff because of his acquaintance with Eru.
“Well then, we will work hard for our training-”
Eru just finished talking when Chid and Ady replied energetically. Speaking of which, the Silhouette Gear was something he thought up in order to teach them how to pilot a Silhouette Knight, and was used to solve the issue of insufficient machines on campus. Chid and Ady were full of spirit, but so was Eru. For him, even though it was smaller, piloting a robot still made him happy.
Silhouette Gear was similar to normal armour; the movements were dictated directly by the user, and needed to be built to the user’s size. For example, Eru was using a machine that had been adjusted for a person with small stature to use; Chid and Ady’s machine were slightly bigger.
Eru stood before the Silhouette Gear that was kneeling on the ground with the chest armour open, but he didn’t board it immediately and hugged the torso instead. Seeing Eru smiling with his mouth open, Chid who was behind couldn’t help saying:
“I know you like it, but no matter how much love you shower it with, it won’t respond to you.”
“No such thing. If you shower it with love, it would be obedient to you.”
Chid looked at his Silhouette Gear in doubt. Is that really true? How could it be? A weird argument flashed across his mind.
“... No, no way!”
Chid came to his senses when he was just about to be convinced.
“Ughh, Eru only loves Silhouette Gear. Sigh, Chid, shut up and board it! Training, we are starting training now!”
“Eh? Oh, alright… Is this my fault…?”
Chid was rushed by Ady who had already boarded, grumbling slightly as he sat in one of the gears. With the metal closing shut, the sound of air escaping could be heard, and the full body armour was enclosed and secured. Chid then grabbed the control inside the Silhouette Gear’s arm, moving the machine’s limbs directly as he controlled it with a script at the same time. The Silhouette Gear was designed to be controlled in the same way as Silhouette Knights for training purposes.
“I am starting it…”
He started using the unique organs common to all beings in this world—the magius circuit domain to construct a script. The crystal tissue installed inside the gear obeyed the script and the flowing mana, and started to contract and expand. The gear trembled, and stood up a moment later. The mana they put in during activation would be used to move the gear, a machine that directly converted mana into physical movement.
They rode the Silhouette Gear and noisily walked outside the workshop. After making their way to the training ground behind, there were already some other guest there.
“Hello, Edgar-senpai. How does it feel using that?”
“Ahh! Ernesti… Hah! Ke!... You could tell just by looking, right?”
The pilot cadet belonging to the pilot faculty, Edgar C. Blanche was piloting a gear that was made for a tall person. He greeted them as he lifted the legs to walk in large strides. His movements were rough and seemed to take a lot of effort. He was not as good as Eru, who could ride the Silhouette Gear like it was second nature, Edgar was still really serious about it.
“I see, that looks interesting!”
Eru nodded as he watched Edgar. Edgar stiffened his already serious face and looked up slightly. Eru knew he had a hard time piloting, but for Eru, ‘the hardship of piloting a robot = a happy thing’. Because Eru thought that from the bottom of his heart, Eru was hard to deal with. Edgar understood that and gave up convincing him. Instead, he crossed his arms and brought something else up.
“Hey Ernesti, I have been thinking about this. This Silhouette Gear isn’t bad, but I think… It’s too hard to use!!”
Edgar had a hard time piloting it because of the control method. Controlling with his actual limbs and script at the same time wasn’t a problem; the issue was the type of magic used. Piloting requires high level magic ‘physical boost’, even a top class pilot cadet like him couldn’t do it well, it’s even worse for normal cadets.
“The necessary controls are too complicated. The script controlling Silhouette Knights requires less burden than this… It's not unusable, but definitely not for pilot training. In fact, everyone had already given up.”
Edgar surveyed the training grounds. There were just a few others apart from him. Everybody was complaining after trying it a few times.
“Yes-- you are right. I underestimated the difficulty level.”
“Then make it up with hard work! Nah, look at me Senpai, we can do this.”
Edgar looked at Eru, Chid and Ady in turns and sighed softly. Chid and Ady didn’t care about the high school pilots, controlling the Silhouette Knight with ease. This was the result of them learning magic from Eru and training together, but others would only lump them together with Eru as abnormal people.
“Don’t ask the impossible; this is not something that could be done in a day or two, right? Really… I know how weird you guys are. At this point, I won’t say anything more, just don’t expect normal people to catch up with you guys.”
“Hmm- ugh… it's a pity, but this can’t be used.”
“That would be true if there are no improvements. This is a mini version of a Silhouette Knight, right? Then install a magius engine. That should cut down on the piloting burden drastically.”
Edgar told Eru his suggestion. It made sense, if this goes on; it won’t be usable for the high schoolers, although it's fine for Eru and the others.
“Hmmm- that's the only way… This would increase the cost, but it can’t be helped, so that’s the only option.”
But this method presented its own set of problems. The small frame of the Silhouette Gear couldn’t hold the ether reactor of the Silhouette Knight. The main idea was the miniaturisation of the machine, but no matter how much of a genius Eru was, he didn’t know the structure of the magius engine. So this problem couldn’t be resolved immediately.
“Ke! What a pitiful sight, Edgar! As the top Knight of the pilot faculty, I didn’t expect you to give up so easily!”
Hearing a voice coming from behind him, Edgar turned his head. Before him was Dietrich who was slowly walking towards him in a Silhouette Gear, with movements more refined than Edgar.
“... Di, it’s rare to see you so fired up.”
Unexpectedly, Dietrich was serious about learning how to control the Silhouette Gear. His movement was smoother than Edgar, while Edgar appeared a bit frustrated. Dietrich who was feeling great about that worked harder. As he was preparing to take a large step-- tragedy struck.
“Hmmp, this level is easy… Eh? What? This is bad, I can’t stop--!?”
Although his movement was crisper than Edgar, Dietrich hadn’t mastered it. Because he used too much strength and made a mistake in the controls, the upper torso cracked loudly and bent at an impossible angle. Everyone who saw this had an anxious expression.
“Di-senpai? Wah, it’s an emergency, send Senpai to the ‘infirmary’…”
When the panicking Eru mentioned the taboo word, Dietrich recovered with amazing spirit. Not just that, he even spun around gracefully and struck a strange pose, saying curtly:
“I, will definitely not go to the infirmary! This, this is nothing!! There is absolutely no need!!”
He posed agilely, but his forehead was sweating profusely. Was this the result of physical or mental injury? Everyone was stunned and Dietrich walked towards the workshop while laughing in a loud voice. Edgar who composed himself followed in a hurry.
“... Eh, Senpai seems to be fine. Let’s start our training.”
After blankly seeing their Senpai off, Eru and the others finally started their training. Eru was obviously fine, but the twins could already move around freely. So they raised the difficulty and conducted something similar to a battle simulation.
“Silhouette Gear has controls similar to Silhouette Knights, and it's in the form of full control. Control the movement of the crystal tissue, feel the flow of the mana. Control script. The two of you can move even faster!”
“As if it’s that simple!!”
Training was done with Chid and Ady fighting two on one against Eru. Even so, the twins had never won before. They harboured the determination to get at least one win and launched the attack with perfect coordination.
Chid lifted a great sword and charged at Eru, using the length of the sword to take the initiative. Eru’s machine opted to close the distance instead. With the large difference in agility, it became Chid’s turn to be on defense.
“Oh, no! Eru is pressing in. Ady!”
“Leave it to me! I will break off his attack!”
Ady shouted, attacking Eru who was attacking Chid from the side. The machine lifted dual blades just like what its pilot preferred to use, it attacked continuously like a storm-- but it failed to even touch Eru, who evaded all the strikes. But even though Ady didn’t gain any advantage, the two on one situation remained the same. This time, it was Chid’s turn to attack Eru’s defensive gap when Eru was dodging. The great sword swung down with terrifying speed and was about to hit.
“Nice teamwork… But!”
With an explosive sound, Eru whose posture was very low suddenly accelerated. As he piloted the Silhouette Gear, he used his own power to accelerate with air compression magic. Eru jumped with a force threatening to heave up the ground, landing behind Ady who was preparing to change her position. She wanted to escape in a hurry, but was caught by Eru, who tossed her at Chid, who was swinging his sword down.
The machines couldn’t stop in time and collided. Looking at the two people he just beat, Eru nodded with satisfaction.
“It’s a bit small, but human shaped weapons are great. Power and drive are flowing out endlessly. How long are you two planning to lie there, let’s continue!”
“Sigh, don’t you think Eru is even stricter than the time he was us teaching magic?”
“It’s no coincidence. If it has anything to do with Silhouette Gear, Eru will become vicious… can’t be helped. Alright! Let’s have another round.”
They cheered themselves up and challenged Eru’s machine again.
“It’s fine if you want to train-- but I’m the one who is doing the repairs, so don’t break them…”
The complaints of Batson, who was watching this scene dissipated into the wind.
As the days got colder, the season changed from summer to autumn.
The busy days of everyone passed by. Since Eru proposed the plans for strand crystal tissue and back weapons, several months had passed. With the continuous efforts of the pilot faculty’s maintenance team, they finally completed a ‘prototype machine’.
“Ara, we finally reached this stage…”
The Boss complained, unable to hide the fatigue in his voice. Some of the students had panda eyes, some were massaging their shoulders, and all of them gave off a heavy sense of fatigue. The few months before the completion of the prototype were a living hell.
The one responsible for designs drew all sorts of plans, and the crafting leader completed every one of them. The machine took shape after several trials and errors, no wonder they were so exhausted.
They might be students, but their skills were at the level of professional craftsmen. But this project was a grueling challenge. The harsh everyday conditions made them wonder ‘why hasn’t anyone died’. To reach this stage without losing their motivation, it was due to their boundless joy in developing new technologies. The evidence was their eyes that were full of passion despite being worn out.
“Okay, bring it out! Slowly. If you drop it, it won’t be settled with just a simple beating!!”
Everyone carried the finished prototype to the trolley, sending it out of the workshop carefully. That thing was a bit strange. Its body was covered by a minimal layer known as ‘primary armour’ to protect its interior. Crystal tissue could even be seen from some of the parts. Only the chest and limbs were covered by outer skin, giving the impression of ‘incompleteness’.
The prototype was quickly sent to the pilot faculty’s training ground which had the shape of a circular arena. After reaching the centre of the training ground, the chest of the prototype which was lying down was opened, allowing the test pilot Helvi to enter the pilot seat.
Everyone from the maintenance team was seated in the audience seats of the arena to observe. In front of them were giant shields that protected them, a lesson they learned from the accident they had earlier. It was natural for them to be cautious. Even though they did several testing for the individual parts, this was the first time the entire assembled body would be tested. To be safe, they removed some of the larger auxiliary parts.
“Okay, Helvi, are you ready!?... For starters, stand up!”
The Boss held a loudhailer and yelled. With this as the cue, the prototype started to stand up. The maintenance team members watched its movement closely. The creaking prototype slowly sat up; its movement stiffer than a normal machine, and was very slow. The arms braced the body, the legs bent. From afar, the legs that were exerting strength could be seen bulging. After spending quite some time, the prototype machine finally stood up.
An emotional voice came from somewhere. When he thought about the efforts they put in to make it stand, the difficulties they overcame and the sacrifices, that voice was trembling. Completing this movement that was totally dependent on the power of the leg tissue, it was evident that the structure of the prototype machine could withstand the minimum output of the strand crystal tissue.
“Not yet, be careful now… you over there! Don’t stick your body out! It’s dangerous!! Alright, steady… Helvi, try walking. Slowly, slowly.”
The head of the prototype machine moved up and down, expressing understanding. After stopping for a moment, it decided to walk. Although it was in the centre of the training ground paved with stone slabs, its footsteps were extremely careful. It seemed to be walking on a hanging bridge that could break at any time, its speed slower than an ox driven cart. With the sound of heavy steps and churning muscles, it took quite a while to make it halfway around the training ground.
“The stabilising components are still in place, it should be able to hold.”
Because it had no outer skin, they couldn’t be careless. But at least it didn’t seem like it would break any time soon. The prototype machine moved to the front of the students of the maintenance team, and knelt on one knee with an even slower motion. It adopted the position of a Silhouette Knight on standby and stopped completely. Only then did the members of the maintenance team sigh in relief. After a moment of silence, there was an eruption of cheers. This was the moment the walking test succeeded-- the moment where their past trial and errors bore fruit.
The chest armour of the prototype machine opened and Helvi appeared. She was probably still nervous as she was breathing hard and was wiping her sweat.
“Hey, Helvi, how did it feel to pilot that?”
The Boss who had looked happy after the successful experiment asked. Helvi replied with a hint of bitterness:
“It was literally a ‘wild horse’. There was too much energy; just walking took a lot of effort.”
“It’s that bad?”
“Yes, the sensation was completely different from the other machines I piloted. To be honest, everyone would need to be retrained.”
“I see… To improve to the stage of walking was a great achievement, but the piloting system still needs to be worked on. That would be left for later… Okay, it might not be too agile now, but since it had no problem walking, all that’s left is to check the other parts.”
Helvi nodded and returned to the pilot seat. After the guys in the maintenance confirmed their safety and picked up their shields, they proceeded to the next phase. Unmodified Silhouette Knights carried large target boards into the training ground and placed them on the ground one by one. The Boss made his way to the stone paved training ground and kept issuing orders to the students around him.
“Alright, bring in the Silhouette arms! For training use! Put the target board at the corner! And someone get the silver boy here! He is probably wandering around in his Silhouette Gear anyway; it's easy to spot him if you search around the vicinity!!”
Around Laihiala Pilot Academy were some grocery shops and fast food restaurants. The students might not be financially rich, but with their large numbers, the market was rather big. Shops that catered to their daily needs congregated around the campus.
Whenever school was out, stalls sprung out around the roads leading out of the campus. Most of them sold snacks. During this period, the students who were liberated from class were attracted like butterflies to honey, swarming to the stalls to eat the snacks. One of the stalls sold baked fruit pie. The stall owner was baking his pie as usual when he heard a female student place her order.
“Owner, I want three fruit pies, with marmalade!”
“Alright-- please wait a moment, it will be done soon…”
The voice of the owner, who turned his head to greet his customer, became softer gradually. The reason was simple, the one before his stall was a full armoured Knight instead of a student. It wasn’t as tall as a Silhouette Knight, but it still towered over the tent. It twisted its body and peeked at the stall entrance, looking at the stunned owner with its tilted head. This awkward atmosphere went on for a while as two similar Knights came from behind to scold the one that arrived first.
“Hey, Ady, why would anyone buy things while piloting that?”
“Hmm? Ah, right! Sorry, sir, I must have frightened you.”
The voice of a young girl came from the heavily armoured Knight. The owner had not shaken off this ridiculous sight when the armour suddenly opened and a real female student came out of it, shocking him.
“Wha, what is this thing!!”
“Ah, owner, the pie is burnt!”
The owner flipped the pie in a hurry upon hearing that, but several of them had already been burnt. The girl made an apologetic expression.
“Ah-- sorry, it’s all because of me. We will buy that burnt one, then.”
“No, even though I was surprised, I was still the one who burned it. Please don’t mind that.”
The owner put the fruit jam ordered by the customer into the pie and collected the money at the same time. The female student said her thanks, got back in the armour and left with the other Knights.
“... The armour used by the Academy recently is incredible…”
The owner held onto the coins with a shocked expression, seeing the three Knights off.
“Hmm-- It tastes great-- Marmalade is the best--”
“I prefer lychee jam.”
“I’m fine with anything that is sweet--”
Ady, Eru and Chid held their pie in their hands as they moved the Silhouette Gear. They looked just like armoured Knights, but they were walking with a snack in hand-- such a strange scene made the citizens and students give way to them in a panic.
They have been using Silhouette Gear not just in training, but in their everyday lives as well, recently. As was seen earlier, it was a hassle to wear this in your daily lives, but they were not doing this out of convenience. As everyone knows, controlling Silhouette Gear requires the continuous usage of high level magic and drains a lot of mana. Magical abilities could only be strengthened with more training. If one wishes to increase their abilities efficiently, they would have to undergo training that was rather difficult.
In other words, it was similar to them jogging while using physical boost magic, training their skills in their daily lives. By the way, only Eru is piloting it because it is fun.
As they were advancing with noisy steps, a pilot faculty student chased them from behind. He was sent by the Boss.
“... Okay, the testing of the prototype machine? Please let us observe!”
After hearing the message he conveyed, Eru accepted immediately. He even picked the messenger up, not wanting to waste even one second. The Silhouette Knight which was controlled by Eru using ‘full control’ had speed that far exceeded a normal man. Eru, who wanted to rush to the scene immediately, ignored the screams of the student being picked up as he charged toward the campus with incredible speed.
The closer they got to the training ground, the more pilot faculty students there were. Unmodified Silhouette Knights were carrying maintenance parts and materials. The craftsmen and pilots were doing all sorts of work together. When Eru and company reached the training ground, they saw a Silhouette Knight without outer skin at the centre of the stone paved area. It was the ‘prototype machine’ that just finished the walking test.
“It moved just as planned. It’s great it didn’t explode after taking a single step.”
“What you are worrying about is too simple… Are you really taking it off? If you wear this armour, it would be easier to escape if anything happened, right?”
Eru put down the student who was on the verge of dying and walked to the Boss’ side after jumping off from the Silhouette Gear.
“Oh, you are here boy. Let’s start, then.”
“I’m counting on you.”
The strand crystal tissue they conducted the test with, was made by the Boss and the craftsmen, completed after many trials and errors. In comparison, the back weapon experiment that would be done next was different-- not just the basic theory, even the design was done by Eru. They got Eru here in order to confirm the next phase.
“It looks fine… how complete is this thing?”
“The turning and aiming was moving as designed before it was installed. What’s next would probably be zeroing the sights and optimising the set up.”
“That… zeroing thing, what is that?”
“Oh, eh… it's adjusting the aim to be as close to the target as possible… I think.”
“Oh, that’s important. No matter what, all this would have to wait until the experiment is completed.”
Eru replied anxiously after alighting from the Silhouette Gear. The twins remained in their Silhouette Gears, which obstructed the work going on behind them unwittingly.
“Okay! Let’s start from installing the Silhouette arms!!”
After receiving orders from the Boss, the pilot students holding the Silhouette arms approached the prototype machine. A structure never seen on a Silhouette Knight before was attached to the back of the prototype machine. On the place where the shoulder blades of a human should be, a rugged claw that looked similar to the mechanical arms used in manufacturing back on earth sprouted from there. Its function was similar to that too. This was the main structure of the back weapon-- ‘Auxiliary Arm’.
The test movement started from the installation of the Silhouette arms, and one was used directly without modification. As the Auxiliary arm had a ‘hand’ that could operate Silhouette arms, it could be equipped with all sorts of Silhouette arms, making it one of the machine’s selling point.
The student machines standing behind the prototype machine handed the Silhouette arms over to the Auxiliary arms. Although the hand of the Auxiliary arms was simplified, it’s movement was very smooth as it was made just for holding Silhouette arms and nothing else. Each Auxiliary arm grabbed a Silhouette arms, pointing it upwards.
“Hmm, the movement of the Auxiliary arm seems fine.”
Although it required the assistance of another machine to change its Silhouette arms, the Auxiliary arms were functioning normally. Helvi, who was piloting the prototype felt a slight tremour from her back, and confirmed the image on her holo monitor.
“Okay, Silhouette arms load out completed, testing deploying function now.”
Before taking the role of a prototype pilot, she had been involved in the development of the back weapon. She had heard the briefing back then and knew the controls very well.
“Deploying Silhouette arms, displaying reticle.”
She pulled the lever besides the control stick, which sends instructions to the magius engine which activates the tissue in the Auxiliary arms. The auxiliary arms shook slightly and flexed, lifting the Silhouette arms up slowly. The Auxiliary arms turned from ninety degrees upright to horizontal, resting on the shoulders of the prototype machine, facing forward. Seeing that the movement was smoother than expected, the maintenance department students were in an uproar. They had seen the structure deploy several times before installation, but seeing it in action while installed was really moving.
Inside the cockpit, there was a change on the holo monitor. It usually only displayed the scene outside, but it had a reticle used for aiming now. A combination of a cross and circle, it was a simple display. But taking the fact that there wasn’t anything there in the past, this could be considered a major improvement.
“Aiming… I am going to fire.”
Helvi aimed the reticle on the targets. Observing from outside, it was clear that the movement of the head was linked to the direction the Silhouette arms were pointing at. She nervously held her breath and cautiously squeezed the trigger. The Silhouette arms which received the command shot out magic bullets immediately. It was firing the standard flame bullets from the Silhouette arms. The magic bullets emitting red light flew out and hit the target as if they were sucked in that direction. The practice use armaments weren’t too powerful, that’s why the target kept its original shape, but the burn marks of the bullets were obvious. No one expected the experiment to be perfect, but they still hit the target in the end.
“I thought we would need further adjustment, but we still managed to hit it.”
“Isn’t that great? Ah, another hit.”
The prototype fired more shots. There were some that missed, but the overall accuracy rate was 60%. After finishing, the prototype machine slowly retracted the Silhouette arms, which was the deployment movement in reverse. The Auxiliary arms folded, keeping the Silhouette arms vertically on its back.
The testing objective was the deploy and retract functions, it would be enough if it could fire off shots, so the results were better than expected.
“Oh… So, this is the back weapon… This thing might be more powerful than I imagined.”
After witnessing the results, even the Boss was stroking his beard in praise. The students who were watching the prototype machine in action congratulated each other passionately. It was because the strand crystal tissue, back weapon and fire control system-- the light at the end of developing all these new functions could be seen. When the things they were after bore fruit, that’s the happiest moment for technicians.
“... Why is everyone so moved?”
The twins who were neither pilots nor craftsmen couldn’t understand why everybody was so touched. They seemed out of place amongst the joyous crowd of students. Hearing the doubts of Ady coming from above his head, Eru replied with a wry smile:
“Because this is the first step towards a brand new type of Silhouette Knights. Because it is a path paved by their own hands, that’s why it brought so much joy.”
Ady nimbly crossed her Silhouette Gear’s arms, and lifted her head after agonising over it for a moment:
“Hmm-- I don’t really understand. But it’s great when you succeed!”
“You are right, but, Ady…”
Eru hugged his head, unsure of how to explain this to her clearly.
As the maintenance students were immersed in the joy of their hard work bearing fruit, there was another group that stared at the prototype machine in another way.
“Di, what do you think of its performance?”
It was Edgar and Dietrich-- Silhouette Knight pilots. They looked at the result with much thought.
“Hmm, let me think… First, we will be at a disadvantage at long distances. We have to use one arm to control the Silhouette arms, but the opponent could hold a shield. More importantly, it could even use a large shield with both hands to fight.”
“That’s right, and it could use two Silhouette arms without taking risks. To make up for the gap when changing weapons, we would normally use one. It simply doubles the firepower. I don’t want to imagine getting into a firefight with it.”
“Not bad, to be able to defeat your adversary more safely. Its functionality is great.”
“You… It’s dependable in a fight against Demon beast, but we could be facing off against that too.”
Edgar said and as Dietrich was about to refute, another voice interjected.
“That’s right, how about I defeat you guys first?”
The two turned their heads and saw the pilot of the prototype machine Helvi standing there. The experiment has ended as they were engrossed in their discussion.
“I won’t say that that is impossible, but the machine is only half finished right?”
“That might be so, but I confirmed all the main points during the test. It should be done really soon.”
The layout had roughly been done, so it should be completed in no time. Helvi revealed a resolved smile and her eyes turned sharp.
“If that is the case, don’t you think there are things that needs to be done? For example-- letting the strongest Knight of the faculty who survived the battle with the Behemoth test his might against this new opponent?”
Edgar’s eyes widened. He, Helvi and Dietrich were all survivours of the Behemoth Incident, but each of them had a different view on the matter.
“Eh, you are right; there will be a need to conduct a mock battle anyway… so, you are talking about me? But Helvi, aren’t you a survivor of that battle, too?”
“Just barely, it was a coincident that I survived. Because that ‘boy’ made it in time.”
“Do you feel any regrets about this?”
“Regret over what? I can’t thank him enough for that. I should say… I am curious about the machine made by that boy.”
They watched the prototype machine that was being ferried at the same time.
“I had taken part from the very start, so I know very well. If I pilot this ‘child’ with its new power, even I could beat you.”
Edgar didn’t look afraid at all, just a bit troubled. Helvi sighed softly.
“That’s why, after this is done… Maybe I can fight that giant monster to the very last moment too.”
“Helvi… Is that the reason why you took on the job of the test pilot?”
“Nah, I just felt that it’s a good thing for Silhouette Knights to get stronger. We will have an easier time fighting Demon beasts after all.”
Seeing Helvi smiling cheerfully as usual, Edgar felt that she was dodging the question.
“Wash your neck and wait for me, Edgar. I will give you a good beating.”
Edgar sighed softly, seeing Helvi who was waving her hand. Dietrich patted his shoulder.
“I envy you, Edgar; the first one to fight the new model.”
“Want to trade places with me? I’m serious.”
“If you reject her challenge, she will hate you, right? And, of course, I will use your battle as a reference.”
Even though Edgar was a little unwilling, he couldn’t hide his curiosity and his determination to win. The two contradictory feelings made Edgar show a complicated expression.
After completing the structure of the strand crystal tissue that was the hardest to make, the rest of the work proceeded smoothly. The workers followed the plan and completed the movement test with armour on, and experiments like deploying the back weapons while moving and firing the weapon while moving. They gradually completed each phase. One month after the walking test, they finally moved from the prototype stage to the official naming stage. The prototype machine used for technical tests was dubbed ‘Tellestarle’-- named after the machine it was modified from.
Tellestarle showed itself slowly from the darkness of the workshop. Its appearance was not much different from the other student machines. As there would be further customisation in the future, it looked unrefined compared to the other machines. Only the two Silhouette arms on its back emphasised its difference from the current models. Tellestarle walked towards the training ground-- its movement smoother compared to the test back then, but it still felt a bit unnatural.
Making its way through the training ground gate, it found another Silhouette Knight waiting there. The Knight ‘Earlecumber’ which was covered in white armour-- It had a simpler appearance compared to Tellestarle, equipped with the standard sword and shield. But it was controlled by the pilot recognised as the strongest within the pilot faculty-- Edgar.
“Okay, Helvi seems to be ready. Let’s begin then, the mock battle between Tellestarle and Earlecumber!! Show us the result of the movement test!”
The pilot faculty students who came in droves to watch the battle cheered after hearing the opening speech. The mock battle of the new model against the current strongest machine was a highly anticipated fight.
Helvi stared at the image of Earlecumber displayed on the holo monitor, focusing herself in the pilot seat of Tellestarle. No matter how powerful the new model Tellestarle was, she couldn’t let her guard down. Edgar and Earlecumber fought that Behemoth directly after all. Even though he didn’t defeat the Behemoth, he was still a tough warrior who fought on the frontlines until the very last moment.
On the other hand, she and her partner ‘Trandorches’ lost. Just like she said, it was just a coincidence that she didn’t die. Trandorches and Earlecumber were machines made by students, so their performance was about the same. That meant it was the result of the difference in the skills of the pilots.
But, what about Tellestarle? It might be an untamed horse that was hard to control, but it had limitless potential. As the test pilot, Helvi had been with it all the way since its engine moaned for the first time, so she knew it very well.
More importantly-- She looked around the cockpit. The joystick she had gotten used to, the display metre that was revamped but was still familiar. The seat that fit her just felt familiar to her. Speaking of which, Tellestarle was built from the wreckage of the Behemoth incident and modified by students. This machine was constructed from the base of her half destroyed machine (Trandorches). Naturally, there were structural differences between the two machines and less than twenty percent of the original parts were left. Even so, this machine was still the partner she knew for so long.
“We can fight together again… alright, we are going, Tellestarle!!”
She stepped on the pedal hard and shouted the name of her partner that was bestowed with new life. The machine responded energetically, leading her back to the battlefield.
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