Sprint, Silver Phoenix Knights
Editor: Darkdhaos, Thorify, Storm Loki, alkin
Beginning of the year C.E. 1278
The new year had just passed into the deep winter, and, it began to snow at the foot of Mount Aubigne.
It wasn’t freezing cold, but, the city was still covered in white, enough to deter people from going out. The few people who were out in the streets wore thick coats, walking briskly in the face of the strong winds.
Strangely, there was a group of Knights walking in the middle of the wide road, braving the chilling breeze. They were no ordinary Knights, but, giants taller than a three-storey building— Silhouette Knights.
The residents watched this scene curiously from the houses lining on either side of the road.
Why were they here? In this era, devoid of entertainment, this small matter set off a huge wave. Matters that involved a group of giants would be the topic of interest after meals for quite a while. The Knights’ destination was the origin of this city’s name — Laihiala Pilot Academy.
In the workshop of the pilot faculty, the noise of hammers rang as usual. However, it was made by huge hammers even dwarves couldn’t wield. And, the ones holding them were not people but the Silhouette Gear ‘Motor Rad’.
The shape of the Motor Rad had changed drastically within this period of time. It was based on the combat model, ‘Model Beat’, after all, so, using it for menial work would be too wasteful.
Since everyone was using it greedily, due to convenience, leading to a huge increase in the demand. Hence, the designs were simplified to expedite production.
The changes to the torso were really prominent with all of the armour removed. Only a frame dubbed the ‘iron fence’ protected the user. The defence was literally non-existent, but the advantage was that the heat wouldn’t accumulate, so it received rave reviews in crafting works.
“Hmmm—this is a problem.”
The Silver Phoenix Knights that appeared to be sailing smoothly had a problem surfacing from its back.
“That’s right… Half of them were destroyed during the Behemoth Incident and modified into Tellestarles after repairs… and, it broke again.”
Helvi, who was standing beside Eru, sighed as Eru held his chin, deep in thought.
The commissioning of the Silhouette gears was smooth, but the Silver Phoenix Knights didn’t progress much these past few months because of their remaining stock of Silhouette Knights. Frankly speaking, it wasn’t enough.
The Silhouette Knights were shared between the Silver Phoenix Knights and the pilot faculty.
Originally, the academy possessed twenty training machines. Some of them were destroyed in the Behemoth Incident, and they only have the repaired Guyale and the remaining ten machines left.
“If we mess with the last ten, the pilot faculty won’t be able to function next year. I’m hesitating to touch them.”
Everyone expressed their agreement after listening to the Boss’ complaints. The Silver Phoenix Knights existed to develop new Silhouette Knights, but, they needed resources to do so. The major incidents that hit them consecutively drained their resources, although, the large amounts of Silhouette gears they made was part of the reason.
“Urghh, I even used my time during class to think of things we need to do, it’s infuriating that we can’t take action right away.”
“No, Commander Classmate, you should take lessons seriously.”
Helvi reminded the strangely arrogant Eru. Dietrich crossed his arms and seemed to remember something.
“Hmm? Didn’t they say they would give us some machines in return? I think I heard that from someone.”
“You are right, that was the plan. They would give us Karrdators in exchange for our Tellestarle… But, Duke Dixgard was the one who proposed that.”
They were smart enough to understand with just that. After all, the Duchy of that Duke was where the Casadesus Incident happened.
“... I see. No matter how powerful that Duke is, he won’t be able to arrange this so quickly. Okay, let’s do Silhouette gear operation training.”
“Okay, I will continue to research and beef up the plans. During class.”
“Why are you insisting on doing that during lessons?”
As they were killing time this way, sounds of exhilaration could be heard outside the workshop. The group looked at each other and then checked outside. A group of students ignored the cold, running over the snow covered campus grounds. Words such as ‘School gate…” “Group of Knights…” could be heard. Eru and the Boss realised something was wrong and dashed to the school gate.
Laihiala Pilot Academy used Silhouette Knights during lessons and thus had a place to park them beside the school gate.
It didn’t have much chance of being used, but, an army of giants was lined up there, right now. A group of bystanders braved the snow and watched them from afar.
The giants formed up in neat rows, with one knee on the ground. All of them were the mass produced models of the Fremmevira Kingdom— Karrdators. They numbered twenty, equivalent to two squads. This was enough to garrison a small fortress.
The heater function of the machines and the heat that was generated during operations caused steam to rise from the surface of the Karrdators. The lines of giant Knights displayed a majestic aura under the cover of fog. The audience gasped in admiration at the display.
The pilots dismounting from the machines were handing down instructions to the infantry units of the group. Eru spotted a familiar face, and that person noticed Eru, who was making his way through the crowd. Moving his burly body, which was as big as a bear, the mouth covered by a thick beard smiled— this large man was the Commander of the Red Rabbit Knights, Molten Fredholm.
It had been several months since the two last met during the Casadesus Incident. The moment Molten came before Eru, he straightened his face and back in a salute.
“By the orders of Duke Dixgard, I am here to deliver two squads of Karrdators to the Silver Phoenix Knights. Please review the items, Knight Commander Echevarria.”
“I acknowledge receipt of the items, Knight Commander Fredholm. Thank you for your hard work, do send my regards to the Duke.”
The two of them greeted each other, but, they could only maintain their mask of formality for this long. The first to relax was Molten. Looking at the short boy who was keeping his back straight, he couldn’t help it anymore and laughed.
“Pu! Hahaha, you, you acted the part of ‘Knight Commander’ well, Ernesti.”
“Eh— Commander Fredholm … that’s too mean.”
“Haha! Don’t stand on ceremony, call me Molten. Since we are both Knight Commanders, age aside, we are equals. In fact, you probably have a higher standing since you report directly to His Majesty while I am stationed at a fortress.”
Eru smiled awkwardly, tilted his head and said:
“Well then, regarding the receipt of the Karrdators…”
“Ahh, we agreed to exchange this for the new models, right? We were delayed because of various troubles, but, I am here now as promised.”
“The Red Rabbit Knights suffered serious damages after the Casadesus Incident. I am happy to accept this, but, is it okay for me to take this?”
After the baptism of the Casadesus Incident, the Red Rabbit Knights were nearly wiped out.
Wouldn’t it be a huge burden on Duke Dixgard if Eru’s group took all of these Silhouette Knights? Seeing Eru’s troubled face, Molten gave him a hearty smile.
“Don’t worry; Knights from the other fortresses will fill in the gaps. Also, this is what the Duke said: ‘Others can garrison the fortress, but, only you can perform the task assigned to you. It’s easy to judge which side has the priority.’ “
Eru looked behind him at the Karrdators that were expelling steam from their air valves. The giants made from steel and crystal evoked many feelings within him.
“... I understand the Duke’s intent. Please relay to him that I will do my best to not let him down.”
“Good, I am looking forward to your results; maybe you can take a look at my Knight Commander machine next time!”
Molten patted Eru’s head, and led the Red Rabbit Knights back to Casadesus after a short farewell. The twenty machines were controlled by the pilots to stow them away. In the past year, the pilots of the Silver Phoenix Knights experienced many things, but, piloting the official mass produced machines was a totally different experience. It was hectic as they moved them all into the workshop.
The half empty workshop was filled with Silhouette Knights, once again. Being current models that were operated at the front lines, there was no better materials than this.
“In all sorts of way, we can’t back out anymore. This is going to be troublesome.”
“That might be so, but, why do you look so happy?”
Standing before the lines of Karrdators, Eru was grinning from ear to ear. No matter how you looked at it, it was a devious expression.
In a corner of the workshop was a small space boxed out by wooden boards. The members of the Silver Phoenix Knights were gathered in this area known as the ‘conference room’. They pulled out chairs and were seated casually, and the one standing in the front was, of course, the Knight Commander— Ernesti.
“Everyone, let’s attack.”
Chid looked amused, but, he couldn’t tell if his retorts reached Eru. Seeing Eru’s blushing and excited expression, everyone was thinking the same thing: It’s useless to say anything now.
“I’m kidding. However, it is time for the Silver Phoenix Knights to fulfill their mission.”
“Right, we took such a generous deposit already; we can’t give them shoddy works.”
Everyone present nodded in acknowledgement. They were a group that was formed for ‘that’ purpose, no one denied on this point.
“Our orders are— develop a machine that will ‘scare NTR Lab out of their wits’. It will be great if it has unique performance and functions, and is easily discerned by its appearance.”
Eru opened the briefcase beside him and took out a stack of paper. He stuck the documents onto the blackboard in the conference room, and said:
“Fufufu, I have a lot of great ideas! We faced many problems during the battle of Casadesus, and unfortunately, a Tellestarle got away. Why is that so? Someone was blocking us? The enemy resistance? No, ignoring all that, I feel the reason is because the speed of the Silhouette Knights is about the same. Right now, there are no machine that specialises in speed in this country. And, so, I plan to develop a new machine that will dominate in terms of speed!”
“Oh, you mean we will be making a light model?”
The speed of Silhouette Knights was largely dependent upon the weight of the machines. Silhouette Knights, which were modeled after humans, move by using their feet. The heavier the burden, the slower it would be; the lighter the weight, the faster it becomes, it was a simple logic. The quality of crystal tissues and the structure of the machine would affect the speed, but, they are mostly negligible. Hence, most people equate speed with light weight.
“Have you all forgotten the example of Tellestarle? If you need something, you have to use the shape that corresponds with it. Even if you have to break out of the mold of the ‘humanoid shape’.”
However, this ‘obvious logic’ only applied to the bipedal humans. In this world, there were many creatures that ran faster than humans. Eru had seen machine designs to the extreme in his past life, and used the best solution that fits this problem that left the deepest impression on him.
Eru took out the ‘design plans’ with the sketch of the machine—
The members in the conference room saw the front view design first. The upper torso was plainer than they had expected, the balance was a bit strange but that was a small matter. The weird part was the lower body, which was as large as a separate machine. The thick powerful legs were supported by feet designed to support the movement and enormous weight of the machine.
That wasn’t the strangest part; from the side view of the plans, they could see that it had ‘more than two legs’. Four of them, to be exact.
Below the waist was another creature, something they were familiar with, the animal considered the friends of Knights— a horse.
The design plan proposed by Eru had the upper torso of a human and the lower body of a horse, and was definitely a monster— half man, half horse.
“... Well, will the Silver Phoenix Knights be specialising in creating weird machines?”
After ten minutes of silence, the Boss finally squeezed out a comment that reflected what everyone felt.
“It is weird… No… How should we describe this? What is that?”
“A machine that is fast with a unique appearance.”
“Eh? You are right, but… Eh?”
Dietrich’s mind started falling into confusion. Eru’s answer was clear and simple in contrast.
When the sub arms were added to Tellestarle, the craftsmen could hear the sound of their common sense crumbling. Right now, what they heard was the death throe after their common sense was knifed. Maybe they were used to it, or maybe they steeled themselves after joining the Silver Phoenix Knights— they accepted this design after feeling a bit troubled.
“I think this will be enough to scare the NTR Lab out of their wits.”
“Not just that, they might burst a vein and die of a heart attack. Taking a hundred paces back… no, a thousand, no, ten thousand, let’s say the horse is fine. But, why the upper torso!?”
If they made a Silhouette Knight in the form of a horse, they wouldn’t resist that idea no matter how dumb it might be. There was no creature in this world that combines the body of a human with the lower body of a horse— Centaurs were mythical beings after all.
To give life to a mythical being… Was Eru an artistic designer? This worried the craftsmen and sent a chill down their backs.
“Why? Well… because, it’s cool!”
“““Is that really the reason!?”””
Everyone shouted in unison. Eru thought this reason was adequate and didn’t expect to be retorted by everyone present. He probably knew that wasn’t enough. Looking into the distance, he added:
“Eh, apart from that, let me think… A horse shaped machine is weak in combat, so it is pointless even if it catches up. It is a hassle for another machine to ride it. So in order to be fast and combat worthy, I added the human upper torso. In conclusion, I want to design a Silhouette Knight that can emulate the functions of a Knight on horseback.”
The craftsmen were relieved that Eru had a normal reason. Eru only failed to consider the common sense aspect of it, but, it wasn’t impractical.
“Ah— I know what you are trying to say. Your concept should make sense, but let’s ignore that for now. Normal people wouldn’t install the torso onto a horse for that kind of reason…”
The Boss and the craftsmen studied the remaining design plans, their hearts in a place between resignation and resolution.
“From the design plans, you actually considered the structure seriously… Hey, this is a never seen before design, where did you get this from?”
“The connecting part troubled me for quite a while, but the lower half is based on the bone structure of a horse.”
Eru’s knowledge and experience came from him sneaking into the crafting faculty classes, his exceptionally studious attitude made him better than others, but, made others doubt where his ideas came from. His experience from designing Tellestarle was the main reason why his ability raised so much.
That experience tied Eru’s knowledge and concept together. The weight distribution that would affect balance, the inner skeleton that supports the entire structure. While referencing the structure of a real horse, he also considered the power output of the crystal tissue and reallocated it accordingly. The design even detailed the outer skin customised to perform its functions.
“Eh… I am starting to think that making Tellestarle was so much cuter. Come on, coming up with such interesting and reckless ideas won’t give me time to put down my hammer.”
The Boss sighed in resignation, making the face of a professional craftsman. He couldn’t help smiling wryly but didn’t object either. At this moment, Dietrich raised his hand humbly.
“Building the machine should be left to the craftsmen, but, I am worried about something else… From the hard lesson we learn with Tellestarle. If this ‘horse’ is stolen, normal machines won’t be able to catch it, right? In that case, wouldn’t this be a bigger problem than last time?”
As the person who experienced that first hand, Dietrich had a complicated expression. He didn’t plan on letting anyone steal his machine, but, wishing to avoid that just by being careful would be too naive. They had to consider the worst case scenario of being attacked a second time. If this machine gets stolen and they give chase, it would be like a man chasing a horse, doomed to fail from the start.
“Don’t worry, Di-senpai, I made anti-theft measures. Anyway, let’s try this out first and work on the other machines if it goes smoothly.”
Eru didn’t want history to repeat itself, either. Dietrich simply shrugged after hearing him reply so confidently.
The craftsmen recovered from the shock of seeing the new model design and started working.
They used all of their knowledge and experience to understand Eru’s design, reinforcing and editing it, forging out a rough shape. Seeing the group discussing it fervently, Eru looked satisfied.
“Since we are making an entirely different model, it will take a lot of effort. We can just make one.”
“... You seemed to be hinting at something.”
Eru didn’t answer Edgar and deepened his smile. Edgar felt it would be terrifying to inquire further and averted his eyes.
“Let’s leave that aside for now, I am very confident in this ‘horse’. But, we can’t relax with just one machine alright?”
“Yes, I know what you mean… But, we are stretched really thin now, it’s impossible to do more no matter how good the Boss is, right?”
Just thinking about the hellish scene last year was enough to make Helvi feel tired. Even if the production difficulty of the horse and Tellestarle were the same, they could still imagine how tough the days ahead would be. The Silver Phoenix Knights had limited manpower; the rest would need to be solved by the passage of time.
“And, so, we will just make one new model that will take a lot of effort, as for the rest… I want to make ‘Option Works.”
Question marks appeared on top of Edgar’s and Helvi’s heads, when they heard the unfamiliar term. Eru didn’t explain and took out more design plans, which he handed to them. On them was a variety of armour combined together that covered the shoulder area of the Silhouette Knight. It looked like outer coat-like armour with some differences. Complicated structures could be seen within the armour plate.
“I dub it ‘Flexible Coat’. Simply put, this is the shield version of the sub arm supporting the back weapon.”
“Erm… Ernesti, this is a good idea, but, there is no point in the shield if it is not held firmly. The sub arm is too weak to provide enough defensive power.”
“If that was all, you would be right. Think about this, to toughen the hardness of the Silhouette Knight, what needs to be done?”
“Strengthening magic… so, that’s how it is.”
Edgar seemed to have figured it out and looked at the designs again. The sub arms were weaker than normal arms; making up for the lack of strength with mana output was the concept of this equipment.
“It will improve the defence capabilities, as for its weakness, it will increase the mana drain while in operation.”
“What an interesting idea. It will depend on the circumstances, but, it should be useful.”
“That’s right. I want to try making several sets of this equipment and installing them. I will need you to test it out and provide feedback for this.”
Edgar and the others nodded in agreement with wry smiles. The pilots would be busy in the coming days, too.
Fulfilling the reason for its establishment, the Silver Phoenix Knights took action to allow Eru’s ideas to take shape. Building and controlling the ‘Centaur’ and ‘Choice Armament’ took all the manpower of the Knights. With everyone engaged, only Eru, who was satisfied after showing everything he had thought of, as well as his happy three friends, Chid, Ady, and Batson were left.
“Yes, let us keep going like this. While everyone else is working hard, let us do what we can, too.”
“Huh!? Eru, there’s more?”
Ady asked with her eyes widened in surprise. Eru threw out a bunch of machine and equipment designs, and now he wanted to do more. She knew that was how reckless Ernesti was, but being this hyper made her go from being impressed to being dumbfounded.
“Well, I did think about it, but there is a small problem.”
“Again? The dark days of endless experiments are here—”
Batson remembered the days of developing Motor Beat, portable bow cannon, and Anchor wire; tough, but, fun times.
“Fufufu, leave it to me! Chid, Ady, what happens when we use ‘Air Compression’?”
“What happens… We make it explode behind us?”
“Yes, the magic makes use of the recoil from explosions. And, the problem is here; what happens if we use ‘Air Compression’ repeatedly?”
“Eh— let me think, you will keep getting pushed and your speed will get very fast… right?”
Ady tilted her head and imagined herself using ‘Air Compression’.
“Yes, theoretically, it is possible to keep adding energy with recoil and keep accelerating. This not only applies to humans, but Silhouette Knights, too.”
“Are you thinking of piloting a Silhouette Knight and keep on using ‘Air Compression’?”
They knew Eru had the ability to construct tactical level magic scripts. From the flow of their conversation, it was easy to imagine making Silhouette Knights accelerate. However, Eru shook his head and said:
“That would be an ‘incredible tale’, indeed. It would be tiring to keep casting magic strong enough to move Silhouette Knights.”
“Eh, normal people won’t just dismiss it as tiring.”
“Similar to the magic armaments, we will prepare the engravings at home, and then install that on the Silhouette Knights. With this, we can complete a ‘propeller’ that could move as long as there is mana supply.”
“... Erm— that is true, theoretically—”
After hearing the theory, Batson’s face stiffened, while he imagined the steps, processes, and effects. Even the twins looked as if they had just heard a horror story.
“Batson aside, what do we do?”
“The two of you are great with magic scripts, so let’s do the engravings together. I will borrow a Karrdator to test a few days later, we will need Batson, then.”
The three friends looked at each other. Recalling Eru’s record of doing whatever he said, they agreed.
And, so, one new model machine, several new equipment, and a never seen before propeller was brought into ‘this world’ quietly.