Presentation of the New Model
Editor: Darkdhaos, Storm Loki, alkin
C.E. 1278, the beginning of autumn.
Shortly after sunrise, a convoy of carriages appeared on the Fremmevira Highway shrouded in the morning fog.
This merchant convoy mostly consisted of fully loaded carriages with giant figures surrounding them. They were the merchants and their escorts operating in Fremmevira Kingdom— Merchant Knights. In Fremmevira Kingdom, even the merchants require the protection of Silhouette Knights. The scene of them travelling around the area with several Silhouette Knights in tow resulted in their nickname of Merchant Knights.
Basically, merchants were energetic and tend to wake up early. This was because the faster they move, the more time they have to conduct business. This habit remained unchanged even in this foggy season.
“... What…? There is something ahead, halt!”
As the Merchant Knights were slowly advancing on the highway covered in the morning fog—
The Silhouette Knight taking point suddenly shouted out a warning.
The convoy stopped on his command. The hired pilot escorts were great in detecting any disturbances; there must be something unusual happening if they sensed anything.
The pilots on the escort machines cautiously reached for the swords at their waist. Their vision was too blur, so they had to listen carefully with their ears.
The convoy stopping made the surroundings fall into a silence. A sound from afar could be heard.
The pilot frowned.
His ears told him that was the sound of the horse’s hooves, but from this distance, it was too loud. It was like a gigantic and heavy horse galloping.
Moments later, he could make out a giant figure moving in the fog.
Something was running with the loud sound of the horse’s hooves. They couldn’t tell from the shadowy figure, but the escorts assume it to be a Demon Beast and drew their swords for battle. Protecting the carriages behind them, they tried to shift their position and plan their escape. It was natural for them to make such a judgement, the shadows in the fog was as large as a Silhouette Knight after all. They might not know what this thing resembling a horse was, but it must be at least a Duel level Demon Beast.
As the escort machines went out in order to buy time for the carriages to turn around, the Demon Beast probably noticed their presence. It slowed down with a large sound, and stopped to face off against them.
The escort pilots gulped anxiously. Even through the fog, they could tell the opponent had the shape of a horse. It must be nimble, capable of shaking off the escorts and attacking the carriages.
But the moment of tension didn’t last long. As they were facing off against that Demon Beast, it turned and—
The Demon Beast left the dumbstruck escorts behind with a sharp child-like neigh. The pilots felt as if someone pulled a prank on them. Even so, they didn’t dare to relax and kept their guard up. Only when they could no longer hear the sound of the hooves did they restarted their journey and hurried to the next city.
With this incident as the spark, more and more people met this mysterious Demon Beast on the west Fremmevira Highway. With the increase in witness accounts, rumours of the horse-like Demon Beast spread across the various cities, including Laihiala Academy City where the Silver Phoenix Knights were based.
“I have been hearing that rumour everywhere, talking about a horse-like Demon Beast.”
“Yeah, we are famous!”
“Wait, wrong, they don’t know that was us, so we are not really famous right?”
“Is that so? Isn’t that the same?”
Hidden in the forest were three children, two of them shaking their black hair as they quibbled loudly. The other figure that was a head shorter stood up to stop them, his silvery purple hair swaying in the wind.
“How should we put it… Anyway, the timing is just right. We completed the testing and can’t hide it any longer, let’s finish this.”
They weren’t standing on the ground or the trees, but a steel structure that was hidden in the forest.
The standard armour revealed its identity as a Silhouette Knight. Its body was much larger than normal Silhouette Knights and most strange of all was its horse shaped lower body. Simply put, they were standing on the real identity of the ‘Highway Demon’.
“So we are finally going to do it?”
“Yes, in order to complete His Majesty’s orders… Let’s scare them out of their wits.”
With time, the widespread rumour of the Highway Demon died down like the receding tide. People no longer talked about it with interest. When the rumour started once again, it was in a totally different form.
When the rumour of the mysterious Demon Beast was at its height, Fort Dufaure to the south of the Royal Capital Känkänen was quietly basking in seething heat. As expected of Dufaure, the headquarters of the national Silhouette Knights development agency— National Technological Robotics Laboratory. The city was filled with numerous facilities related to Silhouette Knights.
There were three research development workshops, the vast warehouse stores all the materials required from research to manufacturing. Apart from these, there was also a training arena for the testing of Silhouette Knights. The scale of the arena was top notch within the Kingdom. Right now, ten Silhouette Knights stood on the field. They were the source of the heat, and was the symbol representing the city’s reason for existence.
The training arena was a traditional stone made structure— a rectangular space covered with stone walls. There were seats on the walls with a maintenance facility nearby. The Silhouette Knights were of the same model, on standby in the middle of the arena. The giants made of crystal tissue and steel maintained their position of kneeling on one knee, waiting silently for their master’s command.
The machines were rugged in appearance, which was the style of this country. They had no discerning features, designed to be durable and tough, giving it a feel similar to Karrdators. But on the whole, it was obviously different from Karrdators. Its armour was sleeker and efforts were clearly put into the welding and joints, giving it a polished and smooth impression. With the design of the Karrdator as its base, it was understandable why it bore a resemblance. Using the technology of Tellestarle, this was the next generation of mass produced machines— the prototypes of the model ‘Karrdator Dash’.
The chief of the 1st R&D workshop, Gaizka Johannsson, looked at the rows of Karrdator Dash with mixed feelings. They looked like the relatives of Karrdator, but the content differs completely. Aside from using part of the frame, the other parts were newly crafted. The only parts they could salvage from the original was twenty percent, which was a clear display of how much modification and effort the craftsmen of NTR Lab went through to reach this stage.
Karrdator Dash inherited all the functions of Tellestarle— which was the strand crystal tissue, capacity frame and back weapon.
Of course, it wasn’t a simple task of replacing all the crystal tissue with strand crystal tissue and installing all the new functions. They carefully adjust the position and amount of crystal tissue within the frame. Gaizka and the rest realised the increase in strength output will improve attack power, but it has the disadvantage of affecting the controls. Simply put, the Tellestarle was too strong which gave rise to the problem of losing control easily. Hence, they decrease the amount of muscles, increasing the power of the machine to just 30% above standard.
Since there were fewer muscles, the machine had more space available. It was filled with capacity frame, improving the unresolved issue of mana storage and increased consumption.
Not only that, with the fervent adjustment to the restricted strength output, Karrdator Dash’s controls improved dramatically.
As of now, the Dash had shaken off its notoriety of a wild horse, and grown into a tamed machine similar to the Karrdator, drastically improving the flaws of the Tellestarle.
Gaizka and the craftsmen worked through the stages one at a time, but a final part troubled them to no end. Unexpectedly, it was the back weapon that had been fully developed when the Tellestarle was finished.
Frankly speaking, they had been focusing on improving the Silhouette Knight, but the back weapon was different. This equipment was both unique and mysterious, and was perfectly designed, leaving no space for modification. Just analysing the Magius Engine ‘courtesy of Ernesti’ overwhelmed them. The only thing they could do was to duplicate it in tears. The Dash had two Silhouette Arms on their back— Culverin, its structure and design was copied from Tellestarle which made the craftsmen unsatisfied— a small bit of dissatisfaction at the very end. The culverin moved smoothly, reaching the goal of mass production.
Increased strength output, improved armour, all sorts of new technology and the tamed controls which was the special feature of the Fremmevira Kingdom. The Karrdator Dash was the combination of all the technology within NTR Lab. Seeing them standing tall filled the people of 1st R&D workshop with deep satisfaction and confidence. Even the narrow minded Gaizka was excited, even more so for the others.
The current Karrdator Dash could definitely become the new massed produced model. Witnessing the birth of a new model after a hundred years was a great honour for all the craftsmen present. They had no doubt about the greatness of the Dash and the prospect of NTR Lab from hence forth.
In a building far away from the R&D Lab, a figure was watching the Karrdator Dash in the arena. He was the director of NTR Lab, Olver Blomdahl.
There was another person inside the room. Maybe it was because Olver refrained from speaking or that the visitor was waiting patiently, the atmosphere differs from the passionate air in the arena and was much calmer. Olver lowered the blinds and took a seat behind his extravagant table.
“This is a great day and should be celebrated.”
“Are you not going to join them, Sir ‘Watchmen’?”
“No, the noise would be too much for ears like ours. It is tiring to keep putting on my disguise.”
As they converse, the other party stood quietly in the centre of the room. They had a similar air about them; maybe it was their facial features, or their silky blonde hair— and their long ears. Their ears seemed sensitive to sound, and must be hard on them to stay in a noisy environment.
“Alright, since we know the recent circumstances of our opponent, we can’t take it easy anymore. I am the highest ranking officer of this agency after all.”
The other man showed an clear expression for the first time, which was confusion.
“Sir Watchmen really thinks… that the rumoured ‘Highway Demon’ is that?”
“I know why you think otherwise, I want to doubt it, too, but for the news centred on the vicinity of Laihiala to surface at such a time…It's hard to not be suspicious.”
Olver’s eyes had similar doubts as he answered with a wry smile.
“It has been a long time since the Red Rabbits sent the Karrdators to Laihiala. The original new model… was it Tellestarle? I don’t think its creator didn’t make any move all this while. Eh, if the rumours are true, they have made something terrifying.”
An indescribable feeling crept up Olver’s spine. From the intelligence they garnered so far, it was easy to tell how abnormal that Knight Order was. The true identity of the ‘Highway Demon’ was enough to prove this point.
“If that is the case, we don’t need to remain still. Wouldn’t it be better to take the initiative?”
Olver shook his head as if he was shaking off a sudden chill, rejecting the suggestion.
“No, we won’t do anything for now. Remember to continue to collect intelligence in the future, too.”
“Would that be fine? You were so suspicious then, but you are not making any moves.”
“It is precisely because I was suspicious back then. I am not a Knight, but as a man serving His Majesty, it is in poor taste to stop him from finding entertainment. I feel a bit sorry for Gaizka though.”
After troubling over it for a while, he clapped his hand and said:
“That’s right, could you mobilise ‘Alvanz’?”
“Alvanz? You want to have a battle with them?”
“This is just a cautionary move. They seem to be several steps ahead of us. Since we couldn’t catch up no matter how we struggle, we have to make up for it this way.”
“... I understand.”
The man bowed and left the room quietly. Olver fell into deep thought at his table and stood up reluctantly after making up his mind.
“Alright, if I don’t show up, they will say I am lazy. It is difficult for a man who has to keep up appearances.”
He took the bandana hanging besides him and wrapped it around his head, covering his ears. After finishing his preparation, he took heavy and irate steps towards the workshop.
The incident started from a letter detailing an order from the King.
“I wish to confirm the capability of the new model you submitted in your reports, and will be holding a closed door exhibition in the Royal Capital Känkänen, the itinerary is as follows...”
When the staff of NTR Lab heard this news, they accepted it gleefully. The specs of Karrdator Dash was better than the previous mass produced models, it was hard to make comparisons, but taking the combined figures from offence and defence, they were confident it will produce twice the performance. This wasn’t an exaggeration; the Dash had the capability to handle a variety of problems, and could enter battles without any issues. It won’t be benchmarked against the personal machine of Knight Commanders, but if placed in a fight, Dash would probably win if both sides had equal numbers.
Confident of success, they sent a platoon of ten Karrdator Dashes to the exhibition.
Royal Capital Känkänen.
This city uses the gentle slope of Mount Aubigne as natural walls, built in the style of a fortress. The ‘Royal Guard Knights’ was garrisoned in this city, a unit serving directly under the King.
They had their own facilities in Känkänen, including a training arena outside the city. The prototype Silhouette Knights made by NTR Lab were heading there.
In the centre of the arena was an even ground surrounded by audience seats in a shape of a bowl. One corner that was elevated much higher was the VIP seats and the figure of King Ambrosius could be seen there. As the exhibition was not made open to the public, there wasn’t many people present. Marquis Joachim Serrati and Duke Knut Dixgard were both present.
“The new models developed by NTR Lab…”
“Yes, I heard it was based off the foundation of ‘that’ prototype. We will see the details later, but from the summary I heard, the performance far exceeds the Karrdator.”
They watched the unfamiliar machines march into the arena.
The Karrdator Dash moved smoothly without any hint of stiffness. After seeing Tellestarle that loses control easily, it was a major improvement. Joachim gave NTR Lab his generous compliments.
The audience around them started discussing the new models. Just hearing about their performance beforehand was enough to pique their interests.
“... Oh, so that’s the new models. Using the Karrdator as the foundation, it has the strong appearance of Cardiaria. And the Silhouette Arms on its back! They could fire without using their hands right?”
“Not just that, I heard it could match that huge and powerful ‘Hymerwort’ from the Red Rabbits in strength.”
“Oh! That one is known for its strength in our country… The future is bright.”
The heated atmosphere of the audience showed no signs of cooling down. Joachim looked at all these faces and realised someone who should be here was missing.
“Duke Dixgard, why aren’t ‘they’ here? After all, they contributed to the development of the new models; I don’t think His Majesty will leave…”
Joachim had to stop mid-sentence because Knut, who was sitting beside him, suddenly held his temple and looked towards the sky. Using his strong mental restraint, Knut squeezed out a reply bitterly:
“... You will find out soon enough.”
With these words, Joachim was certain nothing good will come of this.
The King of Fremmevira, Ambrosius Tahvo Fremmevira inspected the formation of the Silhouette Knights from the centre of the VIP seats.
“... And this is the result. What do you think Your Majesty? The new look of the well known mass produced Karrdator of our nation. Compared to the previous models, the Karrdator Dash excels in all areas. All the staff of NTR Lab are honoured to have taken part in the development of this excellent product.”
“Good, as expected of the best craftsmen in our nation, well done.”
After listening to the briefing by Olver Blomdahl, the director of NTR Lab, Ambrosius smiled. Gaizka who was standing behind him was listening tensely.
“No wonder you are so confident. For this exhibition, I have found an adequate ‘opponent’ that will allow your machines to showcase their capabilities.”
Ambrosius laughter seemed to have some hidden meaning behind it, while Olver could only reply with a wry smile. Aside from Olver who investigated beforehand, other people assumed he meant for the Royal Guard Knights to simulate a battle with them.
“By the way, the prototype the new model is based on was built by students, right? Do you want to meet its creators?”
The people around him started feeling confused; this development was unusual. They were thinking the two of them were talking about different things. The King’s words seemed to be implying that the opponent was—
“He seems to be proposing a match, letting people from different backgrounds to spar with their own creations.”
The sound of a horse galloping could be heard from somewhere; that was the sound of horse hooves hitting the ground. But the sound was too heavy and loud for normal horses.
“Open the gates! They will be here soon! The ones who laid the foundation for the new model and formed a new Knight Order by my decree!”
The Cardiaria of the Royal Guard Knights moved to open the gates leading into the arena. The gate was wide enough for five Silhouette Knights to walk side by side, and something could be seen charging in and kicking up a dust cloud. The continuous sound of hooves showed no signs of halting. Everyone concentrated at the gate, wondering what will come forth.
Ambrose raised his hands, announcing their name.
“Come… Silver Phoenix Knights!”
The moment ‘that’ appeared, screams shook the entire arena.
“What…!! What is that thing!?”
Everyone in the audience seats and maintenance workshop shouted and stood up. The ones remaining seated did so because they lost the strength in their legs.
‘That thing’ majestically passes through the gate loudly and with a cloud of dust. What captured the gaze of the crowd was both a man and a horse, large enough to rival a duel level Demon Beast. Its lower body reached the shoulders of a Silhouette Knight; the four legs supporting it contained endless power. Right now, that astonishingly heavy giant body was moving forward with a fast rhythm. What surprised the audience the most was the ‘human torso’ coming out from where the head of the horse should be.
The alien combining man with horse. A monster unlike Demon Beasts that should only belong in fairy tales.
They recovered from the huge surprise and calmed down, understanding its true identity. The armour covering the Centaur Knight, and horn protruding from its head and the beautiful arrangement of its plate armours made it clear that it wasn’t a product of nature, but a man-made masterpiece. With a halberd in its right hand and a shield that was broader at the bottom in its other hand. The crowd couldn’t believe their eyes, but they reach this final conclusion—
This is a man-made product.
Like Silhouette Knights, this was a giant built by man.
A chill different from before travelled down their spines and they focused on the thing being towed by the Centaur Knight. That object obscured by the dust was a cart made from steel and wood, large objects covered by clothes could be seen on it.
Cargo ferried by the giant Centaur Knight the size of a duel level Demon Beast. Everyone thought of the same thing— these must be Silhouette Knights.
“Fufu, wahahaha… well done, Ernesti! That’s the talent I see in you! I didn’t expect you to make it to this stage! Interesting, so interesting!!”
The thing that pulled everyone back to reality was the laughter of the King. They now remember what the King said— the creators of the prototype, the newly formed Knight Order— the existence of the Silver Phoenix Knights. They knew this was beyond the level of NTR Lab developing the new model— this day, history will change.
The pilots of Tzendorg, Chid and Ady didn’t know about the screams from the audience. They followed the procedure and started doing their task after reaching the destination.
“Release the wagon; change the connecting parts into braking mode.”
“The movement script is entering its final phase! Keep the Towing Anchor and maintain braking distance!!”
The audience might not be able to see clearly from afar, but right now, Tzendorg was releasing the four cables connected it to the wagon, reeling it back into its body. The brakes of the wagon activated and they slowed down. Sparks flew from the wheels and the shrill sound from the friction echoed in the surroundings. At the same time, the sub arms connected to the wagon started extending, allowing Tzendorg to pull away from the wagon. The wagon started slowing down and stopped behind Tzendorg with the connectors extended to maximum length.
“Distance okay, final separation!”
The structure of the connectors was similar to the sub arms. The secured parts broke away from Tzendorg one by one before folding to the side of the wagon. The brakes continued slowing the wagon down and it stopped in a cloud of smoke shortly after.
The cargo that was still earlier started moving after the wagon stopped. With clanking sounds, the wires securing the cargo unfastened, freeing the cargo— giants that were in a kneeling position began standing up.
Bright red armour basked under the sun, taking off its dust cover as if it was a cloak. This elegant machine seemed strange with Silhouette Arms shaped like broad short swords on its back and four swords on its waist. The one standing up beside him was a brilliantly white armoured machine, having an appearance of a prototype machine because of its rugged shape. But its solid body would definitely be accompanied with tremendous power output. As for the last machine, it was the same model as the white machine but without any paint at all, showing its original green steel colour. The only difference would be the large layered armour protruding out from the shoulders.
The moment the three Silhouette Knights stood up on the wagon, Tzendorg slowed down by making a detour. The green machine walked forward, welcoming the returning Tzendorg.
The arena suddenly turned so quiet you could hear a pin drop as the tension rises. All eyes fell on the Centaur Knight and the three Knights standing in a row.
The three Knights came before the VIP seats and adopt a standby position, kneeling on one knee. Appearing from the chest armour that opened up were two young pilots; the one exiting the green Knight was a young boy. The audience sat stiffly in their seats, not sure how to react. In the silence, the sound of air decompressing could be heard. The kneeling Centaur Knight had also opened its cockpit. Not its waist, but the position equivalent to the horse’s back slightly behind the human torso opened widely, and a boy and a girl stepped out. It was unclear why there were two people in there.
After confirming everyone was present, the boy piloting the green Knight represented the group and performed a Knight’s salute elegantly.
“By Your Majesty’s order, the Silver Phoenix Knight’s Knight Commander, Ernesti Echevarria, together with 1st Platoon Captain Edgar C. Blanche, 2nd Platoon Captain Dietrich Cunitz, as well as the latest Centaur Knight Tzendorg are here to report.”
With his silvery purple hair swaying in the wind, Eru raised his head with a face full of smiles. No matter how you look at it, he was like a kid who was flaunting his toy. His appearance was definitely that of a kid.
“Thank you for your hard work, Ernesti. I see you brought something interesting with you. I want to grill you carefully about them.”
Seeing the two of them laughing ominously, the people around them wore a complicated expression. It had nothing to do with their status, just that no one was able to interject into their conversation.
The alien shaped machine reflected the brilliant sunlight as it sprinted proudly in the arena. The heavy hooves resounded loudly, with every step as loud as thunder, shaking the eardrums of the audience. They forgot to blink as they stared at the strongest and largest Silhouette Knight controlled by men, the Centaur Knight that had a shape largely different from a man— Tzendorg.
The audience wasn’t the only ones watching Tzendorg. The pilots of the Karrdator Dash standing in the same arena were also studying Tzendorg curiously.
“Look Zwar, that’s amazing, a horse shaped Silhouette Knight.”
“No wonder Sir ‘Watchmen’ wanted us to come… ‘Apprentice’ are not to be underestimated.”
“That’s right, but did the Watchmen get played? It is not the exhibition of our new models anymore, this looks like the stage for the other party to perform.”
After hearing the snickers from the machine besides him, he crossed his arms and stared at the Centaur Knight displayed on the Holo Monitor.
“Hard to say… To summon us mean he didn’t only get played. More importantly, we should use this chance to think of a way to deal with that thing.”
“I thought we drew the worst lot but somehow… it seems to be getting interesting.”
The eye crystal of the Karrdator Dash glimmered as it kept on taking in images, not missing any movement of the Centaur Knight. The pilots seemed detached from the noise of the crowds. What they need to concentrate on was the shape of the enemy, what they need to know was the movement of the foe. The battle surely and silently entered into its prologue stage.
The rowdy audience couldn’t know about the nervousness of the pilots. Most of the guests were nobles and their curiosity were completely on the alien machine pacing around the arena, and the Silver Phoenix Knight that made that monster. Despite the existence of the NTR Lab, a new organisation was still formed— What they were concerned about was the intention of the King.
A normal Knight Order won’t stir their curiosity. About a year ago, they suffered a large scale attack from foreign forces, they all knew about this. In order to avoid making the same mistake, increasing a Knight Orders or two would not be surprising. However, the Silver Phoenix Knights can’t be judged by common logic.
The attack, the new models and a new Knight Order. They were part of a massive game formed from these fragments. In that case, what would the next card show? The initiative was in the hand of their King, so they perked up their ears to listen, not daring to miss anything.
Their tense emotions were like a rain cloud passing swiftly, only leaving behind a cool, quiet breeze. It wasn’t that they were not curious, but even if they wanted to, they couldn’t interrogate the King. Hence they had no choice but to keep quiet; that was how the nobles were feeling. Ambrose smiled as he watch the running Tzendorg and suddenly turn to look at Olver besides him.
“You don’t seem very surprised.”
“That isn’t so, Your Majesty. I might have heard of the Demon Beast terrorising the vicinity of Laihiala, but I would never have thought that it would be a new type of Silhouette Knight. This scene was definitely shocking for me.”
A complicated expression flashed across Olver’s narrowed eyes, but it disappeared before others could notice. He resumed his usual demeanour, his unmoved attitude making him stand out even more.
“Your are well informed as usual. Did you bring Alvanz along?”
Ambrose asked quietly. Answering with just his eyes, Olver nodded slightly.
“It is the same thing with the new model; I want to use this chance to test ‘their’ capability. Don’t think they are just kids, they had experienced many trying encounters.”
He muttered so softly it was as if he was talking to himself, there was no telling if it reached the ears of Olver who was beside him. If not for his keen ears, Olver would definitely have missed it.
“I think they are just right as your opponents. Well done, the stage seemed to have been set.”
“I am honoured.”
Olver lowered his head deeply.
“Before that, I will need to explain who they are…”
Ambrose wasn’t saying that to anyone in particular. After a short wait, knocking was heard from the door to the VIP seats, announcing the arrival of the Silver Phoenix Knights. The room turned tense as everyone focused on the door.
The well oiled door opened slowly without a sound. Footsteps dented the carpet slightly as the guests entered. Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights who introduced himself— Ernesti Echevarria, 1st Platoon Captain Edgar C. Blanche and 2nd Platoon Captain Dietrich Cunitz presented themselves.
The nobles seated swallowed the moans they almost uttered out. Normally, they would have started scrutinising their appearance. The two young men walking at the sides— Edgar and Dietrich were still acceptable. From their equipment and well toned body, they look the part of an excellent Knight, but it wasn’t obvious they were more valuable than normal pilots.
The problem lies with their Commander Ernesti. The first impression he gave was ‘young and short’. His silvery purple hair of medium length swayed with each step he took, his feminine appearance matched his petite body well. No one would doubt it if he was introduced as the daughter of some noble family. And he was actually a Knight Commander reporting directly to the King, what a terrible joke that was. None of them had the eyes to discern his extraordinary talents.
Even basked in the gaze heavy enough to overwhelm a man, Eru showed no sign of being fazed. His clear eyes looked straight at the King with determination.
“I am as you have command, bringing the newest model Tzendorg as well as Karrdators and Tellestarle equipped with Option Works for your review.”
“Thank you for your efforts.”
The content of their dialogue stirred the curiosity of the bystanders further. The Tzendorg he mentioned was probably referring to the Centaur Knight. That was intriguing, but what does the other term ‘Option Works’ mean? Was he still hiding something— It was safe to say the crowd had fallen into the King’s trap. The NTR Lab had shown their cards, but the other party still had cards in their hands. It was clear who had the initiative at this stage.
Ambrosius understood the interest and bafflement around him, he wasn’t sure he had concealed his own smile. The King couldn’t hold back his mischievous heart; his joy was on the verge of bursting out of his chest. Next will the time to reveal the answer, and decide the standing between the NTR Lab and the Silver Phoenix Knights. Making such a big scene to flaunt wasn’t because he wanted to be pull a prank— well, he did wish for that a little— but this was setting up the stage for the discussion that will follow. The situation was overwhelming one-sided.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this child here is Ernesti Echevarria… the grandson of Laihiala Pilot Academy dean Lauri, and the designer of the prototype and Centaur Knight. I had also appointed him as the Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights.”
And that was how it should had proceeded—
“...You, a kid like you is the designer…!!”
— Until that man interrupted the King.
The chief of the 1st R&D workshop of NTR Lab— Gaizka Johannsson pulled at his messy white hair as he stepped forward with bloodshot eyes. It was obvious he was mentally unstable, plain for all to see when he rebutted his superior— the King.
“No… that’s wrong!! It, it is impossible for that thing to move, there, there must be something else, did someone taught this to you? No, it is made by someone else right!? No, it is impossible to make this. Why? What is going on…!?”
He was no longer aware of his surroundings as he kept mumbling as he closed in on Eru. Ambrosius showed a troubled expression when he saw that Gaizka had lost it.
Oh, was the medicine too strong…? I just wanted to stir his competitive spirit though.
After troubling over it momentarily, he wondered if stopping him verbally would work. But seeing Gaizka falling into complete confusion, Ambrosius doubt he could communicate with him and decided to give up. When he was about to issue the order to restrain him, he locked his eyes with Eru who seemed to have something to say. The curious Ambrosius closed his half opened mouth and gave his permission with a look.
Eru turned to face Gaizka, who was mumbling nonsense. Edgar and Dietrich, who was besides him tensed up, ready to intercept if necessary. Even if dwarfs are strong, he still couldn’t win against two Knights.
“Tzendorg is installed with two Ether Reactors.”
The two of them were within arm's reach when Eru said these words directly to Gaizka. After making a weird sound, Gaizka stood stiff on the spot. At the same time, Olver’s eyes also widened with a surprised expression, a rare sight to behold. After a brief moment, the people around them understood what Eru meant and the shocked expressions spread out like a ripple.
“Do you know why that is for?”
Eru asked with his head tilted, smiling brilliantly. In contrast, Gaizka maintained his stupid posture and took a long while to recover.
“That, that… I see, it’s too big, so one reactor can’t support it… You have to go this far to…”
Gaizka mumbled as the light of sanity returned to his eyes. To answer a question, what was needed was logic. No matter how fascinating it may be, things created through technology could be explained through theory and knowledge. ‘The centaur monster with two hearts’— this fact was a big shock for him, but further questions and thirst for knowledge swell up to his heart.
“Right, you can maintain its structure that way… However, it still won’t move. It’s not enough, you did something else, too, right?”
“Well, I used a lot of different ideas… Eh, how about letting me explain with the design plans. Edgar-senpai, Di-senpai, if you don’t mind.”
Edgar moved with a resigned face and silently opened the luggage besides him. Dietrich also unpacks the box he brought along and set up an easel with a board on it. Eru took out and pasted pieces of paper really fast, and smiled like a beautiful flower blossoming.
“Let me explain for everyone! First would be the foundation structure…”
“Hey, wait you dummy, don’t ignore me and proceed on your own.”
And of course, the one who stopped the lecture a second before it started was Ambrosius. The crowd who was led on before they knew it realised what was happening.
“Please listen to me, too, Your Majesty! It’s fine, I prepared the briefing materials for everyone. Without missing any detail, let’s go through this step by step…!!”
“How is it fine? I will listen to you later, keep those things quickly.”
Edgar and Dietrich silently kept the easel and papers deftly. Eru watched them with a sense of pity.
“Gaizka, you go back too.”
“...!! Ah, ahh, my sincere apologies… I lost my composure…”
“Ara, seems that the medicine was too strong. Forget it; listen carefully since you have regained your wits.”
Seeing Gaizka on his knees and about to bang his head on the floor, Ambrosius dismissed him nonchalantly.
“Pu, hehe, fufufu…”
It must be hard to hold it in. Ambrosius sighed as the sound of laughter broke out besides him, he turned towards the man besides him and said.
“Et tu, Olver?”
“My humble apologies. Ara, I was wondering what kind of child he would be, to think he would be so intriguing… and it is not every day you can see a talent that can make Your Majesty speechless.”
Ambrosius responded casually to Olver who lowered his head with a smile. The tension earlier was all gone, replaced by a warm atmosphere.
Ambrosius pulled himself together, cleared his throat and change the atmosphere in the room.
“You are right, going through the process step by step will be better. Speaking of which, this all started when Ernesti made a Silhouette Knight because of his hobby…”
Something out of place seemed to be mixed in, but wasn’t elaborated on.
“Everyone already knows what happened next, which is the prototype theft incident. We don’t know how the rats found out, but it is a pity the prototypes were stolen. Fortunately, the creator himself is fine, so I ordered the formation of the Silver Phoenix Knights. This Knight Order will develop Silhouette Knights for this kid and also act as his escorts.”
Hearing the rationale behind the raising of this Knight Order, everyone nodded their heads in comprehension, but thought about another question immediately.
“I understand, Your Majesty, but if it is a Knight Order, why not let him join NTR Lab? I think it would be fine to use the Silver Phoenix Knights purely as bodyguards.”
Ambrosius grunted in response to Olver’s question which got straight to the heart of the matter. The luggage bag Edgar was holding had somehow ended up in Eru’s arms, waiting anxiously for his turn to take the stage. Ambrosius stopped him with a look, and was hesitant on what to say.
“He is still a kid after all. I don’t know how receptive you all would be… But right now, I wonder if dumping him into NTR was the better choice.”
When everyone heard this it sounded really convincing.
“After seeing the Silhouette Knights made by both sides, I feel that having two independent organisation isn’t too bad. The creation of this kid is a great stimulant for you all, right?”
The gaze of the King made the gloomy Gaizka back away.
“...Yes! It’s just as Your Majesty said…”
“That is part of it, there is another reason. The works of this kid is interesting… But it is not user friendly. Gaizka, how was the prototype before you all modified it?”
“Yes, well… with strong crystal tissue and revolutionary equipment, it was a powerful machine. However, eh… it is hard to control, drains mana and is a wild horse.”
When they heard this, Edgar and Dietrich nodded in agreement.
“I think so, too. That Tzendorg is probably piloted in some unorthodox method.”
“Not really, we only used ‘double pilot’.”
“... How is that normal? Eh, as you can see, Ernesti’s creation has many good points, but lacks maturity. It’s like a raw diamond. Without polishing it, you can’t see its true value. And NTR Lab is the best place to perform the polishing.”
Olver lured the snake out of the hole.
“Your Majesty, do you mean for us to ‘tweak’ their prototypes so it could be used by others?”
“To be honest, that’s the plan. I am counting on you, Olver.”
Including Olver, everyone lowered their heads. And so, the existence of the Silver Phoenix Knights was made known to the world, and the name Ernesti started spreading between the nobles of Fremira Kingdom from those in attendance.
This name had the following note attached: ‘Knight Commander of the Silver Phoenix Knights, Ernesti Echevarria has incredible research and development ability and incredibly loves Silhouette Knights.’
Shortly after the discussion ended—
“Ladies and gentlemen, now that you know more about them, next would be that Centaur Knight. We will be having a training match between the Silver Phoenix Knights and NTR Lab. Both sides please prepare yourself.”
The Silver Phoenix Knights walked towards the arena by Ambrosius’ orders, the conversation between Gaizka and Eru could be heard constantly as they walk along the corridor. As a veteran technician, Gaizka had a stronger thirst for unknown technology than anyone else. Meeting Eru who couldn’t stop talking about his interest, their dialogue naturally continued all the way to the workshop.
The audience was no longer as agitated as before as they discuss the upcoming clash of the machines made by both organizations, no different than a crowd watching a show.
In the calm atmosphere, Olver who remained in the VIP seats thought carefully about the future of NTR Lab. For the Lab, that scene earlier was as good as taking the important task of developing prototypes away from them. It seems to be a huge blow at first glance, but it was a good deal if they see it from another angle.
That uncontrollable child was responsible for the development of the prototypes, and was also a Knight Commander reporting directly to the King. In other words, the King plans to hold the reign himself. From what he just observed, the child was talented, but had a strong personality. Instead of keeping such a hot potato with him, it would be better to leave it to the King. And since his creation has a lot of issue to resolve, there will still be a chance for NTR Lab to shine and they will remain irreplaceable. That might be so, but when Olver thought about how to explain it to his subordinates, he couldn’t help feeling down.
Although Olver fell into deep thought, his sensitive ears didn’t miss the sound calling out to him. Lifting his head, he turned to the King seated beside him.
“Olver, I will be bringing him to ‘Home’ in the near future.”
As expected— Olver who suspected as much understood his intent behind this decision. He struggled to keep a straight face.
“Your Majesty has high expectations of this child.”
“He had done more than enough… And I made a promise— ‘present accomplishments great enough to be rewarded with the secret of Ether Reactors’. As a King, I can’t go back on my words.”
Olver closed his eyes and thought about what he should do. Ambrosius was definitely not pushing Olver to do his bidding. Or rather, his attitude seemed too cautious towards one of his vassals.
“... Since this is Your Majesty’s request, I will relay your wish to ‘Home’ with my role as a Watchmen. But the one to make the decision would be ‘Master’... This might be an order from Your Majesty, but I hope you can follow the ‘Law’.”
“Of course. But after seeing such an interesting fellow, Master will definitely not reject him.”
Olver responded with a warm smile. The two of them turned to face the teams spreading out on the arena to signify the end of their conversation.
“We will now begin the training match between NTR Lab and the Silver Phoenix Knights. To balance the both sides, the Silver Phoenix Knights will be deploying one fireteam of Knights (three machines) and one cavalry! NTR Lab would be sending out two fireteams of Knight (six machines)!!”
With cheers erupting in the background, Ambrosius announce the rules of the competition loudly. Inside the arena, Dietrich muttered unhappily, in contrast with the heated audience.
“Tzendorg is treated to be equivalent to three Knights, one cavalry to three infantry… Does this ratio apply to Silhouette Knights?”
“Who knows. The NTR Lab are using the enhanced version of our machines, and three of them… To be honest, the situation is bad.”
The Silver Phoenix Knight’s forces are Dietrich’s modified Guyale and Tellestarles piloted by Edgar and Eru— made by modifying Karrdators. The three machines might look different on the outside, but they were all basically the same Tellestarle models. In contrast, the Karrdators of the NTR Lab was a totally new design using Tellestarle as its foundation. Comparing the two, NTR Lab had better performance.
“How exciting! I wonder how well they tamed the wild Tellestarle? The controls seemed to be improved greatly… that’s right; I will ask them to let me try it later!”
“... Ahhh, you are acting carefree as always, it is making me envious.”
Seeing Eru’s off topic comment made Dietrich shook his head and sigh.
“Forget it, we also modified the machines ever since.”
The arms on Guyale was one size bigger, Edgar’s machine with its armour coat and Eru’s machine that had some mysterious equipment built in. Their machines were not the original Tellestarle either. With the top tier Option Works installed, their machines were also enhanced.
“Erm, what about us?”
“We need to take on three machines?”
The voices of the twins came from Tzendorg behind them. Tzendorg might be the strongest unit in the Silver Phoenix Knights, but it was also the most unstable element. This was the first time the twins were fighting, it was hard to know what to expect.
“Well… should we play it safe or…”
“About that, Edgar-senpai, Di-senpai, could you do something reckless?”
The two smiled fearlessly in their pilot seats as they listened to the instructions of their Knight Commander.
The horns echoed loudly through the training arena, and the gong announcing the start of the battle was sounded, which was followed by the cheers from the crowd.
“Let the battle begin—!!”
With this signal, the giant Knights charged with earth shattering steps. The Silver Phoenix Knights made the first move. The three Knights started running with Tzendorg matching their speed behind. As for the NTR Lab— the Knight Order Alvanz piloting Karrdator Dash watched their adversary carefully. Their Captain Arnis sneered when he saw how the Silver Phoenix Knight moved.
“They plan to attack at the same time…? As expected. Lance wall formation, forward march.”
The two fireteams formed ranks, raised their shields and lances, and advanced slowly. This formation was obviously meant to counter the cavalry like Tzendorg, a common tactic against Demon Beasts that attack with powerful charges. The tip of the lances might be blunt, but its strong mighty thrust was enough to intimidate their foes.
The Silver Phoenix Knights accelerated closer and Tzendorg at the back of the formation broke off to the side and started sprinting, overtaking the three units in front.
“Fireteam two turn right, maintain Lance wall formation. Fireteam one, prepare to engage!!”
With Tzendorg charging, Alvanz split their group in two— one fireteam to engage Tzendorg with lances, and one fireteam that abandoned their lance to take on the other three Knights. Lances were effective against enemy charging in, but ineffective against Knights proficient in melee combat. The two fireteams of Alvanz commit to their assigned roles to take advantage in the strength of numbers.
The audience watching also thought it would be divided into a clash of infantry and an anti-cavalry battle— but the next second, one of the Silver Phoenix Knights made a strange move.
“Magi Jet Thrusters activate… deploying device, begin air compression…”
Suddenly, a strange noise that was definitely not cheering from the crowd erupted. The air gathered in a vortex, emitting a unique shrill noise, several times louder than the air intake valve of an Ether Reactor. The noise came from one of the Silver Phoenix Knights’ machine.
The machine with raw unpainted metallic body had additional equipment installed on the shoulders and waist. The movable armour parts moved to the back. Inside the layered armour, a valve slowly open, creating a vacuum inside which was completely covered with engravings.
When they saw this, confusion spread among the audience. Why shift the armour? Wouldn’t it expose the vital parts? No one knew what the equipment making weird sound was used for. However, such suspicious movement naturally put Alvanz on guard.
“What… is that?”
“He is gathering air… A Silhouette Arms that fires air bullets? Probably a new type of weapon… I don’t get it.”
“Tuva, Idola, be alert of anything that comes flying over. They are almost within range; we will counter them with the Silhouette Arms.”
The first fireteam that didn’t equip spears activated the back weapons on their Karrdator Dash. The second fireteam with back weapons did the same. Tzendorg which was moving at a high speed was charging by itself, and will enter the Silhouette Arms’ range soon.
A strange thing happened the moment before they clashed. The green Knight bent its knees and lowered its posture. The machine under its full control moved as it was commanded— Eru’s will used the power of the strand crystal tissue without reservation. The machine took a step forward, and crimson flames shot out from it at the same instant. The additional equipment produced a long trail of fire, together with bright lights and the sound of an explosion, bestowed extraordinary force to the accelerating machine. The giant object five times larger than a man made of steel and crystal tissue shot out like a magic bullet with amazing speed.
The flame tail only appeared briefly, transforming into heat waves with the second step of the green Knight, blurring the space behind it. When it came off the second step, flames appeared again. And of course, the Knight was propelled with even more force.
“Zarks—!! Careful!! He is heading towards…!!”
While everyone was still panicking over this bizarre scene, the leader of first fireteam realised something. The speed of the green Knight was abnormal, surpassing even the leading Tzendorg as it closed in on Alvanz. That’s right; he was going for the second fireteam with the spears.
“What.. what is with this fellow!?”
“Spears will be too slow! Shoot!!”
Facing the green Knight that was faster than a bullet, the second fireteam which were focusing on Tzendorg reacted late. Despite that, they fired their Silhouette Arms and engaged them. Despite the suddenness of the situation, the bullets were still aimed at the green Knight, displaying their exceptional skill.
Before the second fireteam leader could compose himself, a calm part of his mind was certain the enemy’s effort would be futile. That abnormally fast attack was commendable, but he won’t be able to dodge with that speed. His speed will lead to his own demise.
Regrettably, the performance of the green Knight exceeded his imagination. The pilot Eru has excellent physical ability and spent most of his time training for high speed combat, developing fast reflexes and calculation abilities, allowing the machine to react very quickly.
The additional equipment on the shoulder of the green Knight known as Magi Jet Thrusters, changed the direction it was facing and shot out a burst of light with the sound of an explosion. The machine shifted laterally as it continued its advance.
The movement of their foe stunned the second fireteam. The magic bullet that was already locked on target carried on their path, passing through the space beside the green Knight without even touching it.
The white blade flashed by the moment the green Knight made it to the left flank of the second fireteam; the astonishing speed produced a power that could match the charge of a Duel level Demon Beast. Philia’s machine was saved by the shield held in its left hand, but the shield was sent flying, toppling Philia’s machine which fell slowly to the ground.
“Philia! Shit, I will stop him, Yunf, you…”
“Zarks, that’s not the only enemy, don’t be rash.”
His comrade’s words reminded Zarks of the enemy they were supposed to be dealing with. The Centaur Knight was hidden by the explosion created by the green Knight, and was right before them. Kicking up a dust storm, the charging cavalry came at them ferociously. The second fireteam disrupted by the attack of the green Knight couldn’t maintain their formation— Zarks made this snap judgement and shouted: “Dodge!” and leapt out of the way. Yunf mimic his action unhesitatingly.
Tzendorg charged past the space they evaded from, bashing with its shield as it passed by. Yunf blocked with its shield to minimise the damage.
Using this chance, the green Knight attempted to slow its machine down. It planted its feet firmly down and changed the direction of the Magi Jet Thruster. Instead of an instant, it fired for a substantial amount of time, slowing down by shooting in the opposite direction. In the cloud of dust, the green Knight stopped moving in a centre of a heat wave. When it slowly turned its head back, what it saw was the second fireteam that was on the verge of defeat.
“Are, are you kidding me…?”
The pitiful state of the second fireteam and the green Knight that caused all this made the fighting spirit of first fireteam plummet. They attempt to reinforce them, but were stopped by Arnis.
“Calm down! The other Knights are approaching, if you go to the second fireteam now, our backs will be exposed!”
This reminded them of the other two ‘infantry’. The attack from the green Knight had completely diverted their attention.
“We should advance right away. It’s three on two here, we have to dispatch them fast! Zarks and the others won’t be taken out that easily, after taking that beating, they will strengthen their defense.”
He sounded a bit anxious, but the three Karrdator Dash started moving, closing the distance with the Silver Phoenix Knights in a blink of an eye.
“Idola, look out for that green one! Stop him if you hear that noise!!”
With Arnis and Tuva leading the way, the Knights fired their back weapons; the white machine of the Silver Phoenix Knights moved forth to intercept. When the barrage of bullets was about to hit it, the armour near the shoulders of the white Knight moved. The sub arms moved the armour plate to the front, forming a shield. The white Knight in total defense mode did not slow down as it deflected all the bullets.
“So that is not a normal machine either…”
“The green Knight is not moving, now is the chance. That strange armour might not be able to cover its entire body!”
The three Alvanz machines kept up the pressure with their barrage as they entered sword range. This time, the red machine came out of the white machine’s shadow— No shield, a heavily offense type machine. With its arm raised, it took a swing at Tuva. Tuva lifted his shield in anticipation of the blow and took a stance— but it didn’t expect something that flew out from its gauntlet with the sound of an explosion. Tuva’s machine couldn’t evade this sneak attack and got hit in the face by a piece of metal. The impact affected the eye crystal, distorting half of the holo monitor’s view.
“Just how many weird equipment do they have!!”
Using the chance while Tuva retreated, the red machine changed its target to Idola, forcing it back. Arnis engaged the white machine and put some distance between them.
“I… can’t take him down!”
Arnis gritted his teeth. Alvanz has the advantage in number, but the red and white machine built for offence and defense respectively were hard to handle. At this moment, the sound of air being sucked could be heard; the green Knight had started moving.
“This is dangerous… Idola, guard the back. Tuva, you good?”
“No problems with movement at all! I will make them pay… Let’s go!”
Alvanz renewed their attack. The red and white Knights prepared to fend off their assault.
Before the start of the battle.
On the brown training arena grounds, two opposing forces comprising of the latest models of Silhouette Knights observe each other relentlessly without a word.
In the middle of the Silver Phoenix Knight’s ground, Tzendorg which was a head taller than the other Silhouette Knights could be seen. From his wide field of vision, the appearance of the enemy Karrdator Dash was clearly shown. Their armour was much more polished than the Karrdator. The battle was about to commence.
Chid and Ady who were inside Tzendorg couldn’t sit still. They felt a different kind of tension from their fight in Silhouette Gear. Thinking back, they only fought with everything they had with no tactics in mind and without caring about the rules and etiquette. In contrast, they have the heavy responsibility of showcasing Tzendorg’s power in this mock battle. The difference between these two situations could not be explained so simply with words.
According to Edgar’s explanation, the enemy had six machines since Tzendorg was treated to be the equivalent to three machines. This meant they had to win their opponents elegantly. There was some distance between the audience seat and the training grounds, but the twins still felt the illusion of everyone on the field was focusing on them .
As the tension ran high, Eru continued to speak nonchalantly:
“I have a selfish request. Edgar-senpai, Di-senpai, could you do something reckless?”
How would Tzendorg’s battle be related to the two of them acting recklessly? But Eru had always been like this, saying things that didn’t make sense.
“Since you asked, you must have thought about something. Let’s hear it.”
“Very simple. First, we will split Tzendorg and us to probe their reaction. They might divide their forces as the tactics against Tellestarle and Tzendorg are totally different… They will probably react to what we do.”
The heads of the red and white machines nodded. All this was within their expectations, and the enemy will probably expect this.
“From our perspective, we let Tzendorg act alone in order to utilise its advantage in speed. But if it faces off against three machines as stipulated, Tzendorg will have a tough battle no matter how fast it is… so we should use a surprise attack and send one person to strike against the group facing Tzendorg.”
“I understand, so you are volunteering yourself?”
Edgar’s machine turned its head and Eru’s Tellestarle entered its view— on its shoulders and waist were movable Magi Jet Thrusters. The customised Magi Jet Thrusters were installed with multiple miniaturised thrusters, making output adjustment easier. The movable design realised the possibility of 360 degrees of mobility, an intimidating equipment. But on the contrary, the difficult controls were not on the level of ‘a burden on the pilot’. In fact, it had become a flawed product only Eru could pilot.
“Yes, I will fully utilise the mobility of this machine and disrupt the forces targeting Tzendorg before returning to the battle between Knights… I don’t really need to say this, but our forces in the Knights’ battle would be weakened significantly. I hope Edgar-senpai and Di-senpai could hang on until I return.”
Their opponent would definitely not be expecting such a forceful method. A surprise tactic only Eru, piloting the machine with Magi Thruster Jet could pull off to destroy the balance between the two sides. The difference in numbers were still great, this battle was too difficult.
“Alright, I will give it my all.”
“Since it is the Knight Commander’s orders…”
Edgar and Dietrich glanced at each other and agreed. The Karrdator Dash prototype developed by the NTR Lab were not to be underestimated. Even though they agreed readily, the burden wasn’t as simple as it looked.
“So this is what it means to lead the charge? So we just need to follow behind Eru?”
“Leave it to us! We will show them the speed of Tzen-chan!!”
Instead, the ones to relax were the twins. They witnessed the power of the Magi Jet Thrusters before, and couldn’t stop smiling when they imagined the opponents being scared out of their wits.
“We are in a great condition; let’s give them a huge surprise!”
“Eh, before you come back, I will hide behind Edgar. Please settle it before he goes down.”
Ady giggled and the atmosphere lightened. Chid and Ady’s nervousness disappeared before they realised it. Eru had outrageous ideas as usual, but Edgar and Dietrich who could control him firmly were also here, there were no companions more reliable than them.
The white Tellestarle and Guyale formed ranks and gave each other a look. The two of them already realised the reason why Eru was forcing the attack. They were the senpais after all and veterans in battles. The Tellestarle piloted by Eru aside, part of their job was to help rookies get a first taste of victory. When they ended their meeting in high spirits, the horn signaling the start of the battle was sounded.
“Well then, let’s go.”
The Centaur Knight in the middle neighed jokingly. With the sounding of the gong, the Silver Phoenix Knights charged together.
Right now, Ernesti was sighing on the pilot seat of the green Knight.
“Hmmm, I thought this might happen, but it really depleted the entire mana pool.”
Eru and his green partner followed the battle plan and conducted a high speed assault with the Magi Jet Thrusters. He successfully took down one enemy unit and dealt a blow to their morale, but pushing it came at the expense of his mana.
“Accelerating was still fine, the problem was in braking. To avoid making the same mistake, I will need thrusters…”
Learning from the previous ‘Meteor incident’, Eru realised the danger of operating the Magi Jet Thrusters for prolonged periods of time. To make up for this flaw, he came up with the method of accelerating efficiently by sprinting and short burst from the thrusters. However, this only works for acceleration, braking would require brute force. And in this vast empty arena, there was nothing he could use to slow himself down. Firing the Magi Jet Thrusters in the opposite direction burns plenty of mana, adding further to the tremendous mana consumption of the Tellestarle. And the results were obvious, Eru’s machine which had depleted its mana moved lethargically.
“This is understandable, but the remaining mana is just twenty percent… I can’t use the same attack again.”
Eru went too deep and was far away from the main battlefield, it would take some time for him to rejoin the fray. The Magi Jet Thruster started sucking in air again, taking in air in a spiral. That unique noise spurred the tension on the grounds.
“I can’t run. If I don’t recover mana by walking, it will be dangerous to rejoin the battle.”
The green Knight made loud air sucking noises as it strode towards the battlefield.
The Captain of Alvanz— Arnis wielded the sword of his Karrdator Dash. Edgar’s white Tellestarle blocked with its shield and counterattacked during the gap after the block. The sharp thrust was parried by the sword pulled back by Arnis.
The two machines pulled away from each other, but Arnis didn’t attack with his back weapon. He knew the bullets will be deflected by Edgar’s machine which was equipped with Flexible Coat. And so, the two machines returned to the basics and fought with sword and shields. But such a fight was spectacular as well, the battle remained intense.
The powerful strikes with occasional feints dazzled the audience. Every clash of the sword produces sparks, every bang of the shield shook the ground from its tremours. Arnis and Edgar were evenly matched in skill and courage as the attack of the sword became sharper and the counterattacks equally fierce. As the spectators watched with bated breaths, the battle became even more heated.
Dietrich couldn’t spare the time to watch Edgar’s battle. He had two Dashes in front of Guyale— Tuva and Idola blocking his way. Without shields, Guyale specialised in offense and was weak in defense. Taking this point into consideration, Alvanz send two machines to take down Guyale while Arnis was fending off the white Tellestarle.
A metal piece flew through the air with a low hum. Guyale used the lightning flail like a part of a chain-sickle, swinging it in circles. Since the mechanism of firing it from the gauntlet had been exposed, it won’t work as a secret weapon anymore. Dietrich changed it into a wide range attack weapon. Seeing the steel piece coming from the side, Tuva backed away to dodge and attack with his back weapon from a distance. Guyale moved towards Idola to dodge, swiping at him with blades. Idola blocked with his shields, but took a blow from Guyale’s back weapon Kamtha. The short Kamtha had terrible in long range, but was powerful in close quarters. Its magic bullet was like a long thin sword, lacking in impact but has a high accuracy.
Guyale raised both its sword as he charged the off balance Idola, but Tuva didn’t let him get his way, firing magic bullets to block his path. Guyale gave up its pursuit, throwing his retracted lightning flail out in return. The fast flying metal piece grazed the side of Idola’s head, hitting his back weapon.
The entire Alvanz team was fighting an unexpectedly tough battle. Aside from Tuva losing half his vision from the sneak attack and Idola needing to look out for the green Knight, the biggest miscalculation was underestimating Guyale’s combat prowess. Kamtha, lightning flail and swords, Guyale used a variety of weapons to keep an advantageous distance and attack accordingly. This special style of fighting made it tiring to handle.
The unique valve intake noise of the green Knight came from behind them. For some reasons, it didn’t approach with high speed, keeping the team Alvanz on their toes, making them distracted. The vicious cycle made the audience think team Alvanz was losing. That’s how impressive Eru’s machine was.
“Ady, we are turning back to attack! Begin turning!”
“Understood—! Let’s show them the skillful feet of Tzen-chan!”
Centaur Knight Tzendorg kicked up a dust on the training arena and galloped, the rhythmic sound it made echoed through the battlefield. After dispersing the Alvanz second fireteam, and renewed its attack. Eru won’t be supporting it anymore. They also knew how much mana the Magi Jet Thrusters consumed.
The horse part of Tzendorg has movable armour similar to Flexible Coat and its size was twice as big as a standard machine. In order to maintain mobility which was the most important element of cavalry, lightening the weight was crucial. To do so, the weight of the armour on Tzendorg was reduced. The movable armour that took its place efficiently raised the defence which was sacrificed. Such a thing was only possible for Tzendorg who has two pilots. Also, they discovered another important use of the movable armour besides defence, which was to act as a counterweight.
Ady pushed hard on the pedal displaying excellent controls, making Tzendorg maintain its speed while turning on the spot. The high speed and heavy weight created heavy centrifugal force, allowing the machine to make a wide turn. Chid tilted the upper torso and all the movable armour plates to pull against this force, successfully pulling off tight control over the center of gravity which looks really scary. Tzendorg displayed an agility that didn’t match its cavalry appearance, pouncing towards Alvanz that was still pulling itself together.
Tzendorg charged in a straight line as it opened a part of the armour on its waist, revealing a large sub arm that looks like a mechanical jack. Tzendorg placed the halberd in one of its arms onto the sub arm and secured it. This was a device called ‘Lance rest’, used to help the charge of cavalries. The secured halberd aimed at the second fireteam, and the distance to the enemy became closer in a blink of an eye.
Even though it was just one rider, the huge body larger than a Silhouette Knight gave it an imposing aura. It was different from a Duel level Demon Beast, with the determination of the pilot included. Facing such an attack, Zarks and Yunf of the second fireteam raised their lances and waited in their formation. Philia’s machine was silent after being attacked by the green Knight at the beginning; maybe the pilot lost consciousness from the fall. They stared at the cavalry closing in and slowly pulled away to avoid implicating Philia who was down.
“Yunf, do you think our lances could stop that?”
“It would be difficult. Zarks, I have a proposal.”
After a few short exchanges, they advanced a few steps and threw their lance away. The audience who thought the lances would be an important tool against the cavalry broke into an uproar over this unexpected move. After lightening their gear, they spread out immediately, making their intentions clear from a glance.
“Is one side bait? Or are they going for a pincer attack?”
“Something like that, aim for the right side!”
Tzendorg adjusted their trajectory and charged Yunf who was shifting to the right.
“Yunf… Sorry! I will not let this chance slip by!!”
Zarks who wasn’t attacked fired his back weapon fervently with no regards to his remaining mana pool. The barrage of magic bullets howled, blocking Tzendorg’s path, heading towards its defenseless flank— but it didn’t work. Tzendorg cautiously raised the shield on its left arm to block the bullets pelting on it, the bullets that made it past the shield was blocked by the movable armour behind. It didn’t even slow down and continued charging. Leaving normal Silhouette Knights aside, even a Duel level Demon Beast will be fazed by an attack from the side. Zarks felt an emotion closed to fear before the unpredictable capability of his opponent.
On the other hand, Yunf wasn’t surprised that he was targeted and execute his next move calmly. He shifted the machine backwards immediately to dodge the lance. The reaction speed and leg power of Karrdator Dash allowed Yunf to dodge a fatal blow with barely an inch to spare. Yunf, who jumped away laterally, didn’t even waste time in getting up and deployed his back weapon. Since Tzendorg needs to turn around for the next attack, now is the best time to counterattack since Tzendorg was showing its back to him.
Suddenly, his sensitive ears heard some kind of explosive sound— the vague sound of an air bullet being fired in a confined space, which was followed by the noise of something flying through the air. Yunf who instinctively felt danger stopped his attack and pushed his machine further away— his movement couldn’t be any faster, but it was still too late. He felt a sudden impact hit his machine.
After charging past Yunf, Tzendorg shot out something from its back. It was an equipment named Towing Wire. It was originally meant for cargo delivery and had the same structure as Anchor Wire— the capability to accelerate by activating air compression, and the movable anchor shape made from crystal tissue. The Towing Wire flew freely under Ady’s control, snagging the legs of Yunf’s machine.
The reeling mechanism behind Tzendorg retracted the cable at full speed, pulling it taut. It was meant for towing heavy cargo and was strong enough to pull Yunf’s machine down, dragging him airborne as if he was sliding into a base while playing baseball. Tzendorg’s terrifying power wasn’t fazed by the weight of one Silhouette Knight, dragging the helpless Yunf’s machine in a cloud of dust.
“Oh shit, I can’t stand; it’s too fast, but…”
The floored Yunf attempt to fight back. He activated his back weapon and tried to sit up. However, his effort was futile and only the sound of crushed parts came from the machine. When he fell and got dragged along the ground, the impact seemed to cause the back weapon to malfunction.
“Is this the… end?”
Tzendorg made a sharp turn with Yunf in tow. The change in direction flung him out with centrifugal force. The Towing Wire released its tight hold on the machine’s leg, making Yunf roll further and further away before laying on the ground motionless.
“This is no joke…”
Zarks who couldn’t do anything as he watched his comrade fall resigned himself and smiled wryly. The opponent was well equipped and not just an ordinary cavalry, not something comparable to a Demon Beast. Against its gigantic body, a melee battle was hopeless. Despite knowing he had no chance of victory, Zarks didn’t back down and braced himself to fight until the end. Adjusting his stance, he raised his shield and sword, ready to fight head on.
It wasn’t clear what Tzendorg was planning as it stopped its charge and accepted Zark’s invitation to melee combat— Zarks’ Karrdator Dash finally fell after a hard fought battle some time later.
After a full powered clash, Arnis and Edgar pulled away in a hurry. The two machines made intense sounds of pulling in air through the intake valve, the heat from the churning engine raising the temperature of its armour. Both of them exhaled deeply, not sure how long they had been fighting. It was just a short while, but the concentrated series of events confused their perception of time.
Arnis stared at the white machine displayed on his Holo Monitor, complimenting it quietly. What an amazing opponent, his swordsmanship is top class even amongst Alvanz. It has been a long time since Arnis met an opponent he could not defeat after using his full strength. And of course, he wasn’t holding back at all in this fight.
Arnis wasn’t planning to use his full power in the beginning. The White Knight was obviously a defense oriented machine and would take a lot of effort to take down. His plan was to stall him, but he couldn’t help getting serious during their exchange.
This opponent was ‘solid’, and that wasn’t just talking about the machine. Because it focused on defence, it was forced into a passive role. Being attacked continuously will build up heavy pressure that will overwhelm the pilot, but the white Knight was able to handle it and counterattack whenever he had the chance. Counters that could give Arnis goose bumps. From the performance of the white knight, the strong determination of the pilot was clear. With skills and mental tenacity, how could you not admire such a pilot? Even though he was panting heavily, Arnis couldn’t help smiling happily.
“A superb knight, such a pity…”
“How strong, such a pity...”
Edgar adjusted his distance from the Karrdator Dash, knowing his face was getting more serious. He was evenly matched with the Karrdator Dash. Despite their intense exchange, only light damages were inflicted with nothing decisive. Edgar knew very clearly that his machine was installed with Flexible Coat in place of back weapons, and was lacking in offensive power. Even taking that into account, his opponent could still launch fierce attacks, a testament to his impressive skill. The pilot of Dash was good; each strike was heavy and left no gaps for counterattacks. If his Tellestarle didn’t specialise in defence, Edgar doubted he could have held on for this long. He didn’t have that confidence, and that only deepens his beliefs.
“... As expected of the new model, his machine moves much smoother.”
It was purely a matter of the functionality of the machines. Tellestarle had higher maximum strength output, but the controls are less precise; On the other hand, the Karrdator Dash focuses on controls and sacrificed part of its power. In a battle pushing both machines to its limit, a gap started to surface. The opponent wasn’t someone he could overwhelm with brute force. Instead of controlling the machine, Edgar was avoiding the use of too much force, while the opponent didn’t have to hold anything back with its smooth movements. Edgar felt frustrated once again over his machine.
Another problem puts him at a disadvantage, which was the huge drain of mana by Tellestarle. Flexible Coat which drains mana made the situation even direr. Tellestarle had less than thirty percent of its mana left, and Edgar would definitely be the one to yield. He needed a chance to turn the situation around.
The two of them continued to fight. In a corner of Edgar’s mind, he planned to propose to Eru to make a machine with tighter controls no matter the outcome. That’s the only thing he won’t back down on.
The red Knight took one step back, then another. Sorrowful sounds came from the crystal tissue operating the machine, which was being drowned out by the battlefield. The arm aimed at the enemy slumped down and it appeared to lose power.
“Okay, Guyale’s stomach is empty, it can’t move anymore.”
Dietrich said so light heartedly, but his facial expression was anything but that. While Edgar was squaring off against Arnis, he was dueling intensely with the other two machines of Alvanz. If the offensive orientated Guyale didn’t attack, it wouldn’t be able to fend off its enemy. The high mana consumption rate doomed it to exhaust its mana pool before Edgar does.
That might be so, but that doesn’t mean he will succumb so obediently.
“How frustrating, it’s too soon for me to take on two machines at the same time, I need to train more.”
Guyale’s air intake valve seemed to be crying out that it was at its limits. Despite the Ether Reactor churning at maximum speed, it couldn’t keep up with the mana consumption, and there was no telling whether Guyale could attack one last time. Dietrich couldn’t see how he could turn this around.
In actual fact, the two members of Alvanz was feeling melancholic too. They were fighting two on one and couldn’t take down the opponent before he used up his mana. On top of that, the damage to Tuva and Idola were increasing all this while. The offensive capability of the red Knight was impressive, if it was a one on one fight— when they thought about that, their facial expression remained tense.
“... I will deal the final blow to this guy, Idola, support the captain.”
“Understood. He might be at his limit, but still be careful.”
“I know… I won’t forget the damage to my machine that easily.”
Tuva walked towards Guyale slowly while Idola aimed for the white Tellestarle.
“Well, I can’t do much, but I won’t go down so easily.”
Dietrich decided how to use his remaining mana— fire his lightning flail and Kamtha to obstruct the Alvanz. Even though going down will put Edgar in a dangerous situation, he still decided to fight for more time. After stalling for time, he could bet on something else— gambling that their Commander will return to the fray.
A moment later, everyone started moving.
From the way Guyale was ignoring his movement, Tuva knew it was going to make a last ditch struggle; Idola deployed its back weapon, his finger on the trigger; Dietrich was about to move when he notice ‘that’ thing approaching from behind them— Everything seemed to be happening at the same time, followed by the sound of explosion from behind Alvanz, the sound they most feared and was on guard against, they were too focused on the white and red Knights and lapsed in their guard— lapsed against that opponent that required their total attention.
Idola who was tasked with guarding against him was shocked and turned towards the source of the sound on reflex. What appeared before his eyes was a green metallic light that filled the entire holo monitor. Before Idola could react, that thing already reached Idola’s machine.
That thing was— the metallic green Tellestarle that was attacking with a flying knee attack.
Idola’s head shattered with the sound of paper being crushed into a ball. In order to protect the important eye crystal of the Silhouette Knight, it was covered with a sturdy helmet. But the leg of the machine which has to support its entire weight could crush it easily, especially with the toughest part of the armour, the knee.
Eru who was waiting for his mana to recover closed in as much as he could and performed a devastating flying knee attack. The fierce kick from Eru made Idola, who probably lost for the first time, fly in the air spinning.
Everyone was shocked by the powerful attack from Eru. In that instance, time seemed to stop. Arnis used this chance to charge up to Edgar and forced an attack.
The strike was as fast as lightning. Edgar who was a step slow had no choice but to block with his sword as the two clashed intensely. Crystal tissue shrieked as the Dash and Tellestarle tried to overwhelm each other as they dug their feet into the ground, showing the power of these giants. The heat emitted by both sides seemed to be increasing the density of the air, blurring the scenery. Gradually, the white Tellestarle presses the Dash down; it has the advantage in maximum power output. The Dash was pushed back, its stance crumbling.
But that was the limit.
The power of the Tellestarle became weaker. Its powerful legs bent and the noise made by its crystal tissue became softer and weak. Dash kept its sword back. The white Tellestarle knelt to the ground with its sword pointing downwards and became still.
Guyale also lost its power.
Tuva who blocked Guyale until the very last moment started its assault. Guyale bet everything it had on a shot from its Kamtha, lightning flail and swords. The Kamtha knocked Tuva’s shield loose, but it slid into the lightning flail’s range without hesitation and almost knocked Guyale’s sword away with a fierce blow. Guyale lost the power to resist, stumbled for a little before falling onto the ground.
Ambrosius who was watching this battle silently stood at this moment.
“The match is over! Sheath your swords!!”
The sound of gongs erupted immediately. It rised above the noise of the crowd and reached the Knights on the battlefield. Both sides who were about to duke it out with their remaining forces kept their weapons a second later, returning the arena to silence.
“It was a magnificent display from both sides, splendid! I have seen its strengths and weaknesses!! Wonderful indeed, both parties are worthy of praise!!”
The audience gave a warm ovation to the Knights that were still standing in the battlefield. Maybe their brain couldn’t keep up with the signal to end, the Knights didn’t cheer victoriously, just standing in place as if they had just woke up from a dream.
Maybe we are the ones who were saved— after confirming the situation, Arnis mumbled to himself in his heart. Both sides had two machines left in terms of numbers, but it would be reckless to face the green Knight and Tzendorg with the two Dashes they had. Arnis wasn’t sure he could pull it off, and in the process of taking down two of the Silver Phoenix Knights, Alvanz lost four of theirs. Their losses were terrible, it was their complete loss. The audience must think so too. To obscure the result this way, there must be political elements at play, but Arnis wasn’t interested.
Silhouette Knights standing by walked out of the workshop attached to the training arena, keeping the immobile machines one by one. The Karrdator Dash of Alvanz were in a terrible state. Arnis was worried about his comrades inside.
At this moment, the white Knight that fell silent before him moved slightly. It probably recovered enough mana after some time. It maintained its position of its sword on the ground and opened its chest armour slowly. Seeing the pilot exit the cockpit, Arnis got out as well.
Edgar and Arnis appeared before each other. They saluted each other at the same moment.
They didn’t know what to say. Or rather, they had expressed everything through their swords in the fight earlier and had no need to exchange words, they just want to see what the other party looked like— that’s what he thought, but Arnis still spoke:
“My side had the advantage this time. If there is another chance, I hope to spar with you using the same model of machines.”
Edgar was surprised, but shook his head.
“No, I don’t intend to use the machine as an excuse. There are other ways to fight and conserve mana, but I couldn’t do it because of your skills. It is impossible to stay on the defensive all the time… The reason for this defeat was my immaturity, and the results were clear to see.”
Arnis laugh as his opponent serious demeanour reminded him of someone from his distant past.
“Haha, relax. You will miss things if you only look at the things right in front of you.”
“... Thank you for your advice, but it is fine. My friends will watch my blind spots for me.”
That’s not what I mean. Arnis responded with an awkward expression and a wry smile in his heart.
“Am I responsible for the blind spots?”
Dietrich sat cross legged in the downed Guyale, grumbling reluctantly.
“Edgar’s blind spots? There’s too many to watch out for.”
At this moment, a shadow fell over Dietrich’s head with heavy footsteps. He turned and saw the metallic green Tellestarle and Tzendorg.
“Sorry I didn’t make it in time. It was too reckless I guess.”
“That’s right, but after this fight, I could see my weaknesses clearly.”
As the performance of Karrdator Dash and Tellestarle was about the same, it emphasised the weakness of Tellestarle. Dietrich crossed his arms and thought for a moment, and decided to share his views.
“Hey Ernesti, ignoring Tzendorg for now, Tellestarle is too crude. It couldn’t be helped since it is a prototype, but I think His Majesty will prefer the Dash…”
“I feel the same way too. Hmm— to complete the mass production model, should we take a Dash with us or hand our equipment to the NTR Lab?”
Dietrich was worried that Eru might get depressed with the defects of Tellestarle, but felt annoyed by Eru’s nonchalant attitude.
“... Aren’t you frustrated?”
“Hmmm—? Tellestarle did lose, but that doesn’t matter since Dash is an improved model of Tellestarle. I am just impressed, even if it wasn’t made by me, but good things are simply good things. So that’s that, I will talk to His Majesty and try to get a couple of machines for research.”
“... Ahhh, erm, I see. Right, as expected of our Knight Commander. It is about time to revamp Edgar’s machine, right?”
Dietrich supported his chin with his palm and elbow on his knees, and was fine with anything.
“Well… the mass production model is reaching its final phase. Once it is finished, the Silhouette Knights within the nation would be recalled. That should be a good time to prepare machines for everyone.”
A wind filled with dust blew across the arena. Eru squint his eyes, then stood to survey everyone around him.
“It is about time for us to withdraw. Di-senpai, can you move?”
“Sure. The mana had recovered a little, walking should be fine.”
“We can drag you out by grabbing your legs.”
“No need. I managed to survive the fight; the machine will get damaged if you drag it.”
As they chattered, the Silver Phoenix Knights started to move
Inside the workshop of the arena, Gaizka Johannsson watched the Karrdator Dash being repaired and sighed. When he closed his eyes, he could see the battle earlier before him. The clash between the new models, never seen before equipment and the pilots— all of them were so brilliant that he couldn’t pull his eyes away. He didn’t care about the result of the match; he just wanted to know the working theory behind the techniques used in the battle. The series of events surprised him, but he was happy to see them and was fine with that.
Before the meeting today, his heart was filled with unhappiness.
As a craftsman, he was proud of being a part of the National Technology Robotics Laboratory, but his passion was gradually grinded away in the never changing days. The development of Silhouette Knights was a project that took generations, the birth of a new model usually take centuries. Their effort will only bear fruit several generations down, and those who do witness that moment was extremely lucky. But what about those who can’t?
At the start he became the top technician— the glorious position of workshop chief, when did he started throwing tantrums? It was because there was nothing that was worthy of his protection, when he realised that, he turned into someone who lusted over power. In the end, he couldn’t stand the ‘brat’ leader of the NTR Lab becoming his boss.
Until something shocking happened.
The appearance of the new model that he thought would only show up every few centuries.
The sudden project lit his wish that was residing in the bottom of his heart— finish the new model and use that accomplishment to become the leader of the NTR Lab. Now he thought about it calmly, such thinking was shallow and hollow, proving how narrow his mind was to not understand this back then. But when he remembered the birth of Karrdator Dash, he didn’t think that fervour was a waste.
On the stage where he presents the Karrdator Dash— ‘He’ showed up. Leading a Centaur Knight and laden with all sorts of accessories.
To be frank, even Karrdator Dash which Gaizka bet everything on was his idea. First was bafflement, then confusion, and finally chaos. ‘His’ word was the thing that broke him out of his confusion. That crazy genius wasn’t bound by common sense, acting as he pleased, focusing wholeheartedly in the development of Silhouette Knights. Gaizka who was chasing the sun realised what he was searching for was nothing but a mirage.
Closing his eyes silently, he stretched his stiff body, staring at his wrinkled hand. He had decades of training under his belt, but his hand had been engraved with the signs of old age.
Even if he holds a hammer, he would not be as strong as he used to be. But he has all the experience and knowledge he has accumulated so far, he could reach a higher level if he used them well. The existence of Karrdator Dash bore testament to this. Guiding his subordinate well and pass his skills down. That way, maybe they could reach a higher and distant goal.
Gaizka felt thankful for the first time— thankful for being the workshop chief of the NTR Lab.
“... Damn kid… It is too early for me to lose to you all…”
Spilling his thoughts unconsciously, he spoke with a tone different from before.