Ch 13 What to do with the prototype machine
Editor: Darkdhaos, Chris S, Storm Loki, alkin
Noticing that the shadow blocking the sun was beside his hand, Eru raised his head and looked at the sky outside his window. The clouds turning from white to grey slowly eroded the clear blue sky. He looked at the notebook before him, relaxing his stiff shoulders and overworked brain. His gaze turned to the skyline, watching the heavy grey clouds. The thin clouds would probably turn black soon. As Eru was thinking mindlessly about that―
“Ernesti, don’t look around during class.”
The voice pulled Eru, who was losing his focus back. Eru apologised obediently to the teacher who had a stiff expression and looked back at the blackboard. The teacher continued his lesson, and with the sound of chalk writing on the blackboard, the voice explaining the history of Fremmevira could be heard. His classmates glanced at him curiously, before turning their attention back to the content written on the blackboard.
That was close; I shouldn’t relax no matter how tired I am. Let’s review my work…
Eru looked at the notebook in his hand once again. It was a pity but as Eru’s classmates were listening to the lecture seriously, he was writing things that were unrelated to the lesson into his notebook. Specifically speaking, it had the sketches of strange Silhouette Knights, with legends marked at the side.
Tellestarle is completed, which means the foundation has been laid. With this foundation, I have to prepare a surprise that will amaze the King… I have to start with the designs.
Thinking about matters that were obviously unrelated to class, looking at the blackboard from time to time while writing down notes, Eru appeared no different than usual. A normal twelve year old wouldn’t have covered that up so perfectly. This was the result of experience― In a negative manner. No one suspected his attitude towards lessons, and the class carried on smoothly. No, there were some who had noticed.
Hmm― the wire anchor seems fun. I will ask them to install it for me next time. He did say the controls were a hassle, but there must be a way.
I will bring Eru to walk around and eat snacks, I’ve decided! All work and no play will make Eru a dull boy!
The two of them got the attitude one should have in class wrong, but it wasn’t a big issue. By the way, although they are like this during lessons, they all had good grades for lessons outside of magic and physical training.
The shadows from the clouds gradually became darker. The Boss who was taking a break under the shelter of the workshop looked at the sky and let out an irritated moan.
“Sigh― it’s gonna rain.”
“Shouldn’t we be glad that it didn’t rain during the testing for Tellestarle?”
Edgar who was sitting beside the table answered absentmindedly. Dietrich who was sitting at the same table looked at his hand seriously, while Helvi watched the two of them with a smile.
“It’s troublesome when it rains. There will be some endurance tests coming up soon. Ah, a pair, I’m going to win soon.”
As she spoke, Helvi placed the card she picked and a card in her hand onto the table. There was a reason why they were playing cards. The students from the pilot faculty had hung on until the celebration party, but after that, most of the craftsmen collapsed from exhaustion and most of them took leave. The newly finished machines could not be activated without the maintenance staff, so the pilots had to kill time this way. The dwarf who was tough amongst the craftsmen― the Boss was still lively, but he couldn’t do much by himself.
“The five Tellestarle are officially completed, but from the looks of things, I don’t know when the rest of the repairs will be done.”
“Ah? There will be progress in the next few days. Right now, we are on vacation.”
The Boss answered Edgar ambiguously. Helvi drew a card and discarded the last card in her hand, leaving Edgar and Dietrich to duke it out.
“Oh, yeah. Boss, my Guyale is still in pieces right?”
“Oh, that’s correct. Come again when we are open for business.”
Dietrich suddenly thought of this question, and the Boss gave a casual reply. Since the craftsmen were short handed, it couldn’t be helped. Dietrich who lost to Edgar leaned onto the table weakly.
“Anyway, Di, please help the winners buy some snacks.”
“Yup, a cheap pie would do.”
“I want to eat meat, so buy something with that.”
“Well, okay. Wait… Hey Boss, you didn’t take part right!!”
“Don’t be so petty, just treat it as a gesture of thanking me for all the times I took care of you.”
Dietrich’s face alternated between green and white before resigning himself, dragging heavy footsteps towards the cafeteria. The three of them looked on with the ease of victors, seeing him off. When that gloomy back disappeared from view, the Boss thought of something.
“It’s not worthy of compliments, but that fellow is easier to get along with now. Before this, he would keep yammering whenever he loses, and would definitely play cards with me.”
The Boss smiled wryly, the smile under his beard was hard to see as usual. Dietrich’s neurotic and hard to please personality was famous among the maintenance department and the pilots. He was capable, but not someone easy to get along with. They had the chance to work with him often, so they had noticed that Dietrich had become rather low profile.
“He changed after the Behemoth Incident. Dietrich has mostly changed for the better.”
“By the way, he was the one most passionate about the Tellestarle experiments right?”
Helvi recalled something related, too. Helvi, who took on the role of test pilot from the very start had the most experience, followed by Dietrich who started piloting Tellestarle after that. Edgar nodded with a surprised expression.
“That’s right; maybe… it was because of Ernesti. Di was the only one who saw him pilot during that incident.”
Edgar answered Helvi with a stern face. Edgar’s expression displayed his passion and commitment as a pilot. It might be a coincidence. It might just be by chance, but his friend had the opportunity to witness the skills capable of fighting against a Division-level Demon beast and it made him jealous; and his friend’s ability has obviously rised to a new level, which impressed Edgar. Edgar was a just person― although he might be too stubborn about it at times. Helvi, who knew him for quite some time understood that Edgar would work harder when he sees the people around him put in so much effort.
“Hmm- that boy, huh. He is small and agile, if you don’t work hard, he will leave you in the dust.”
The eyes under the slightly curled short hair squinted cheerfully, teasing Edgar. Edgar didn’t know how to respond and reverted back to his nonchalant smile.
“I won’t be left behind so easily.”
“Oh, now that you mentioned it, I have something to discuss with the silver boy.”
The Boss suddenly clapped, and noticed the question on the faces of the other two.
“Well, making a new model is all good, but I am thinking about what to do next.”
“Repairing the rest of the machines on campus?”
“I have permission from the dean, so there’s no hurry… but we can’t just abandon the new models after reaching this stage.”
The Boss mumbled, his eyes looking at the evening sun. Edgar and Helvi gasped and looked at each other.
With the bell ringing to signal the end of the lessons, stalls started appearing around Laihiala Pilot Academy. In no time, the students who were dashing out after school could be seen.
“Hey, little miss, not bringing your armour along this time?”
“Yes, we will be eating while walking like this today! Give me three pies!”
“Alright! What fillings do you want?”
“Let me think…”
The last bit of blue was gone from the sky, which made the people watching it feel uneasy. Eru compared Ady, who was ordering her snacks with the stall owner cheerfully, with the weather. He thought it would be better if the weather had the same mood as Ady.
“Don’t think about it too much, it will rain if you drag it for too long.”
“You are right. But how should I put this, I feel that if we don’t accompany Ady more today, our relationship would turn bad.”
“... Oh. Eh, let’s worry about that after it rains.”
Ady turned around at this time with a smile on her face, and hot pies in her hands. Would it rain first or would she have shopped until she was satisfied― Eru was wondering about trivial things.
After this, they visited a lot of stalls, and when they were almost full, they made a trip to the workshop. There was no special reason for this; they would just go there to see the strange sights from time to time.
“... What are you doing?”
“Eh? As you see, we are playing ‘Kuuklen’. Ara, David is a formidable opponent.”
Under the shelter of the workshop, the dean of Laihiala Pilot Academy was playing a board game similar to chess on earth with the Boss. Lauri had the overwhelming advantage in the board, and seemed to be bullying the Boss, pushing him close to defeat.
“I am out of ideas on how to turn this around… could you go easier on me?”
“Kekeke, as an educator, I can’t go easy on you right?”
“This is just a game…”
Unlike the smiling Lauri, Boss’s face looked ready to crumble if he wasn’t supporting it with his hand. He was unwilling to admit defeat, but also had a look of resignation, knocking the chess board with an extra chess piece.
“No, playing games is fine. I am just curious why grandfather is here.”
“Eh? That’s right; there was something I want to discuss with you and David. I wanted to call you to the Dean’s office, but I figured you all might be here.”
Eru didn’t imagine that his grandfather’s thinking was so haphazard and almost fell down. After ravaging the Boss, pushing him and checking him on the chessboard, Lauri was finally satisfied and ready to speak. The Boss, who was treated as a means to kill time sighed, not bothered by this small matter.
“The things I wanted to discuss with the both of you is no other than the new models. David seemed troubled by it, too… It is regarding what to do with the new models in the future.”
Eru and the others took a seat, feeling surprised by this sudden topic.
“Frankly speaking, I was only expecting slight improvements. I was wondering what it took so long, and the results in the end were beyond my imagination.”
“Because this is truly a new model machine.”
Eru’s cheerful answer made Lauri’s shoulders droop.
“I didn’t expect you to create something out of nothing. To progress to this stage, are you planning to present it to His Majesty?”
Lauri’s words didn’t feel like a question, and seemed more like requesting confirmation. Because for him, the new model with the improved performance compared to the old models was more than enough to fulfil the king’s request for the ‘best machine’. Reporting the new model to the King and receiving his well deserved rewards was the natural progression of things. But things went contrary to his expectation as Eru shook his head firmly.
“Oh? I thought that’s why you were working so hard for… is that wrong?”
Lauri’s eyes widened from surprise, he then turned his head to glance at Tellestarle.
“I have something else to show His Majesty… I am thinking about something that would let His Majesty acknowledge that promise. Since his majesty requested for ‘the best’, I have to give it my all, too.”
“You are not giving it your all yet!?”
Listening to Eru’s firm statement, the Boss, who was shocked, almost knocked the chair over and retorted. No one imagined Eru’s series of action that defied common sense was just the beginning, which was outside of Lauri’s and the Boss’s expectations.
“Yes, Tellestarle is the foundation… after stabilising the foundation; I want to construct a grand castle on top of it. That should give His Majesty the shock of his life.”
“I think we will die from shock before that.”
“And the boy only knows how to tell the truth, that’s the scary part…”
Lauri changed from surprise and amazement to resignation. He wasn’t the only one; everyone else felt the same way. Lauri took a deep breath to change his thoughts, grunting as he crossed his arms.
“Since Eru said so, this matter is settled. But anyway, since we completed the new model, we have the obligation to report it to the nation.”
“That is natural. So in the end, we will still be reporting it to His Majesty?”
Lauri gave a negative response to Eru’s query.
“His Majesty is also busy with work. He might have made a promise with you personally, but we can’t settle this so casually. We will probably need to go through the proper channels.”
“The proper channels… you mean the NTR Lab…”
National Technological Robotics Laboratory, and known to the public as ‘NTR Lab’. As its name implies, it was an organisation that manages the development of Silhouette Knight technology. From major projects such as development of new machines to minor details like improvement maintenance techniques, all things related to Silhouette Knights were handled by them, and communicated to the rest of the nation. The academy took part in technical enhancement before, so the Boss with his background as a craftsman was familiar with this organisation.
“Eh,... that might be so, but there are problems with bringing the whole thing there.”
“Hmm? Grandpa Lauri, what’s the problem? This thing is strong right? If we start making a bunch of Tellestarle, the Knights would have it easier and the city would be peaceful. To improve to such an extent, the important people would be happy, too, right?”
Chid, who interrupted with questions tilted his head in confusion. What he said wasn’t wrong, promoting strong Silhouette Knights was an effective way of guaranteeing the Kingdom’s security. While they were discussing this, a large Demon beast larger than duel level was attacking the Kingdom somewhere, and Silhouette Knights were suppressing them. Silhouette Knights turning stronger meant shortening the time to defeat Demon beasts, which would reduce the level of damage. For the Kingdom of Fremmevira, which was equivalent to the frontline of the battle against Demon beasts, this had priority over anything else. Why would reporting the construction of Tellestarle to the authorities be anything to worry about? Lauri’s smile had a hint of bitterness as he answered:
“It can be done… but making Silhouette Knights require a fixed process. It starts with accumulating small improvements, and a few engineers would use this as the foundation and apply them to the final product. Silhouette Knights are strengthened by repeating this process.”
Constructing new Silhouette Knights were the responsibilities of the NTR Lab, and in terms of scale, only the NTR Lab was capable of doing that. Lauri remembered this part and continued:
“Developing new Silhouette Knights is a national level project; I never imagined we could make an entire new model with the facilities on campus. Well, an idea that could revolutionise doesn’t come along that easily…”
Eru and the Boss looked towards the distance, as if they were avoiding Lauri’s eyes. Both of them remembered doing crazy things in order to complete the machine they wanted.
“Eh, that’s it, the problem is that the suggestions we submitted are usually minor, and there are no precedents for submitting an entire new model. If we suddenly show up with a new machine, we won’t know how they would handle it.”
When Lauri saw Eru’s smiling face, who was ready for battle, Lauri sighed softly.
“Grandpa, what’s done is done, sighing over it is useless. Now is the time for us to grab hold of our happiness and take a step towards the future.”
“Well said. Those who have the knowledge and don’t apply it are not engineers. We will handle the things in the future when the time comes!”
“You two are really confident about this...”
Seeing Eru and the Boss squeezing out a smile with folded arms, Lauri felt he was a step away from reaching enlightenment.
It might seem like a joke to outsiders, but they weren’t taking it lightly. The Boss changed his pose and started speaking.
“Also, applying new technology in practical use is the pride of craftsmen. We would get rewards which would fatten our wallets, too. The fastest way would be to pilot Tellestarle to see the King, but regrettably, there is still one problem.”
The Boss jokingly gestured with his hands and continued:
“The completion of Tellestarle involved a lot of people, about half the students in the pilot faculty took part. The rewards for completing the new model must be significant, but wouldn’t it be chaotic if we had to divide it with everyone who took part?”
The Boss had a valid point. Providing new technology to NTR Lab would be compensated with monetary rewards, and that would naturally be divided among the ones who help develop it. As the Boss said, many people were involved in the construction of Tellestarle. They included the proposer Eru, the craftsmen doing the assembly and the test pilots. Even the alchemist who developed new materials; it was quite a number. But in reality, it's impossible to ascertain how much each individual contributed. Not just the way to report about Tellestarle, just the mountain of problems was enough to make you give up.
“Can I say something? I have an idea…”
Breaking the tense atmosphere, Edgar raised his hand slightly. Lauri, who was preparing to leave ignored the two who were clapping to ‘welcome’ the hero, going into dean mode once again.
“Yes, no matter what opinion you have, do tell.”
“Pardon me. Leaving the way to handle the aftermath aside, Tellestarle is not complete yet, but its performance is still better than the current model. By spreading knowledge of the prototype out, it would definitely benefit the national security greatly. Anyway, it would definitely be conveyed to the administration… Is that correct?”
“Yes, that is true.”
Everyone present expressed their agreement. No one thought about making the new model exclusive to the academy. After confirming this point, Edgar lowered his eyes to organise his thoughts.
“... So… There is definitely a problem with the rewards, but we need to consider the matter of handing Tellestarle over. No, I’m not talking about the way to do it; I just think the matter would not be over so easily.”
“Think about the situation when Ernesti first made the proposal, Boss. We are used to it, but the technology behind the construction of Tellestarle is unusual.”
After hearing this, everyone remembered this fact that was almost forgotten and quietened in enlightenment. If Eru didn’t explain to them directly, they probably wouldn’t believe in this technology. There was one thing they kept forgetting after seeing Tellestarle’s performance: it was still an abnormality in this world. The Boss, who remembered this point clapped his hands together and said:
“Yah, that’s right, everyone was wondering if the boy had gone insane.”
“So, you did doubt me…”
After everyone understood that, Edgar continued:
“In other words, it would be meaningless to just hand Tellestarle over right? They can see the exterior design and imitate it, but it would be hard to explain the interior design concepts.”
All of them looked at Eru. Under their pressure, even Eru was backing off a little.
“... By the way, letting the people in NTR hear the ‘whispers of the devil’ seems like a good idea.”
“Is that how everyone looks at me…?”
“Like I said, we should fully utilise the devil right?”
“... I will cry, okay?”
Ah, Eru looks cute when he is unhappy.
Eru glared at the Boss but the Boss remained unmoved, while Ady seemed happy about something. Lauri ignored them and turned to Edgar. Edgar was looking upwards, seemingly thinking about how to express the idea he had already thought of in words. Lauri who saw through that, hurried him.
“I am not sure… if this is the way to resolve this. I think there is a need for the craftsmen of the pilot faculty to explain to the NTR Lab. In that case, asking them to hire all the members involved in developing the new model is a way, too, right?”
Lauri couldn’t help his eyes widening. Edgar’s proposal was to use their employment as a substitute for the distribution of the reward money. Since the craftsmen would graduate from the academy eventually and join the workforce, this was a good career path, too.
“This method… Is a grand proposal.”
“With their accomplishment of completing the new model and their knowledge of the current technology, they are the ideal talents for the future development of the new models.”
This proposal put Lauri in a dilemma. From the perspectives of teaching proper skills and the well being of the students, this was definitely a win-win situation, but the academy would be the one that receives the most benefits. Which means NTR Lab would definitely negotiate with the academy, and that would be another highly difficulty task. And it would be up to Lauri and a few other teachers. They were teachers after all, not professional negotiators, so it was easy to imagine how the road ahead would be.
“This proposal is very alluring, but I don’t know if it would proceed so smoothly. We will do our best and give it a try… But it is still up to the decision of the NTR Lab.”
Since the Kingdom would be the one to decide, Lauri couldn’t guarantee anything. It would be enough if they can decide their stance in general. Although he had a feeling that the negotiations ahead would be grueling; but as an educator, and with his pride in defending his student’s efforts, Lauri smiled with a hint of bitterness.
After finally finding a way to forge ahead, the group that was discussing was engrossed in conversation. But two of them, Chid and Ady had a troubled expression. They barely understood the contents and were finding it hard to keep up. Unlike Eru, whose mental age differed from his physical appearance, asking two actual twelve year olds to join in the discussion was too demanding.
“Erm― is there anything we can do to help?”
“It sounds difficult. It can’t be helped, we will just watch quietly.”
They spent a lot of time with Eru who wasn’t like a kid, so they had a lot of chance to take part in such talks, and they were always thinking about how they could help out.
Simply put, because the Boss and the others worked hard on Tellestarle, they will continue to do so, right?
Ady had a few terms she was concerned with― new, Silhouette Knight, construct, end. Her thoughts flew through her tunnel of memories with these vague terms― and linked it to the things she was told a few months ago. She suddenly realised something and lifted her head anxiously.
“... Eh, they said Kingdom, so you have to ask a great person for that right? We could use that promise right?”
“Hmm? That is true… promise?”
That promise― The meaning in Ady’s words confused Chid for a moment, and he found the answer within his memories too.
“Ah!... Right, this is Eru’s merits too.”
That was the memories of their conversation with their father. Their father ― Marquis Joachim Serrati asked this of the two of them, ‘If he had any contribution, please inform me’. In the heart of the twins, the existence of their father was equivalent to a way out of this stalemate.
“Nah, Grandpa Lauri. We have a suggestion.”
“Oh, Chid? What is it?”
Lauri thought the twins would ask some questions at the most, and was surprised that they had suggestions. Chid didn’t seem to be happy about that, and had the expression of a kid who had thought of a mischievous idea as he voiced out his proposal.
“It would be hard for grandpa and the others to negotiate, right? How about getting an important person to be your partner?”
“Oh? An important figure… do you have anyone in mind?”
Chid’s straightforward reply surprised Eru and Lauri, while the others felt confused. Some of them knew from previous incidents of the twin’s history, but it wasn’t widely known. Mentioning the name of such a powerful noble baffled them.
“...! Yes, that’s right… If it’s Marquis Serrati, he was present back then too. It will be easier to explain it to him, and ask him to cut through the bureaucratic red tape. But… will it be okay?”
What he wanted to ask was the situation of the twin’s family. They are illegitimate children, and should be avoiding contact with the main family. Could we really ask your father? The twins understood what Lauri was conveying through his eye contact.
“Father told us before, if Eru did anything, he wants us to inform him.”
I see, so they agreed. So discussing this with the Marquis would be appropriate.
“I see… If the two of them are fine with it, I have no objections. What about everyone else?”
The others looked surprised, and looked at each other when they were asked. Speaking of Marquis Serrati, he was one of the few elite aristocratic clans. Marquis Serrati’s territory was next to the Bocuse Sea of Trees, so he would understand the importance of the Silhouette Knights’ performance. Putting why the twins mentioned this name aside, if they could gain the Marquis’ support, he would be a powerful ally. They looked at each other to confirm, and nodded firmly.
“We have no objections.”
“Well then, sending the Tellestarle over wouldn’t do. How about briefing the Marquis with the documents?”
“Yes, that’s a good idea. Can I leave the preparation of the documents to David? Chid, Ady, the rest will be in your hands...”
The twins stood up straight and accepted the task with a pat on their chest. Solving the problem made everyone at ease, and they laughed at the twins’ liveliness. Tellestarle which was situated in the depths of the workshop watched over this scene.
After the sun set in the evening, the shops on the streets closed one after another. Conversely, now was the time for the bars to open for business. The citizens who finished their day of work came to relax and enjoy their meals, flooding the place in doves. A certain bar in Laihiala Academy City welcomed the busy period as usual. Most of the patrons were elderly gentlemen, but there was a strange customer who took a seat in the corner. He appeared young, probably a teenager still at school. Since he was in the bar, he was an adult (fifteen years old).
He seemed very familiar with this place, blending in with the atmosphere and drinking beer by himself. As he was about to finish his first glass, someone sat down opposite him. For there to be an empty seat in this bar that was almost at full capacity, this meant the two of them had arranged to meet up. That man who appeared was burly and looked like a worker ordered a beer right after sitting down, and smiled at the student.
“How rare for you to find me for a drink. How is it? Is it hard studying at the academy?”
The burly man took a swig after getting his beer and breathed out exaggeratedly. The student who already drank a bit replied excitedly:
“Ah― that’s right, it’s been hectic lately.”
“Hahaha! That’s how studying is. If you can overcome this part, you will become somebody!”
“You are right, but it’s been really bad recently.”
The two of them drank and chatted, complaining about their life happily. Their conversation became part of the noise in the bar.
“I thought I got over the hill, but I ran into a small problem.”
“Haha, the life of a student is hard!”
Even if they conversed loudly, no one would bat an eye, that’s the kind of place a bar was. Picking on the rumblings of drunkards would lead to nowhere. And if you look around the place, they were drunkards talking noisily everywhere. At this point, it didn’t matter if another noisy fellow joined in the racket. These two who seemed to be part of the drunkards suddenly observed their surroundings. After confirming that no one was paying attention to them, they suppressed their voice.
“Right! Really!... That thing’s completion is ready for the next phase.”
“Oh? The students are quite capable.”
The whispers of the two wouldn’t reach the ears of the other people because of the din in the bar. The student’s face was red because of the alcohol, while the burly worker with a beer in hand looked just like a drunkard, but the things he said were calm and clear.
“You can’t underestimate something like passion. Seems that this technology will be completed sooner or later.”
“The details? You are not thinking about telling me verbally, right?”
The student shook his head, signaling that was impossible. He quietly took out a stack of papers. The cover was plain and undistinctive, but the content was information related to the new machine model. The burly man accepted it openly, putting it in his coat without a word.
“Like I said, we need to have a drink together some time!”
“You got that right! Okay, today I will treat the student who had worked hard to a few glasses!”
“That’s the spirit!”
The atmosphere from before was gone without a trace, and the two reverted back to simple patrons as they toasted their glasses. The bar got more rowdy as it got closer to midnight; no one paid them any heed or understood what they talked about under the table.
Heavy rain fell onto the stone paved roads covering the imperial capital Känkänen. The drizzle at dawn turned into a downpour, clouding over the entire city.
The unexpected rain made the residents, who were always full of life reluctant to leave their house. The streets seemed to have lost its energy. The boundary between the overcast sky and the stone pavement blurred together, becoming one in the monochromatic background.
Marquis Joachim Serrati was inside his mansion located in the aristocratic district, browsing through a document as he listened to the rain outside. On it was a sketch of an alien shaped Knight that was the calm before a storm. It had an air of chaos that would threaten to swallow an entire city.
His crude movement in pressing the bell on his table probably reflected the Marquis’ mood, it was rare for him lose his cool. The experienced butler who had served him over many years was composed as usual, and appeared in his office faster than normal.
“Master, your orders?”
“Bring this document to Duke Dixgard’s mansion as fast as you can. Make sure you hand it to the Duke in person.”
“Yes, I will arrange for it immediately.”
Joachim handed the documents to the butler and spoke after the butler left:
“Duke Dixgard, this might be a bigger issue than we had imagined.”
His words were blocked behind the thick doors of his office, fading into the sounds of the downpour.