Queen of the shell beast
Editor: Darkdhaos, alkin
After dropping off the former Regent and Prince at the Ravine Gate, the twin’s Tzendorg pulled the wagon containing Toybox that was piloted by Eru into the depths of the giant tree garden courageously.
They met resistance from the shell beasts along the way, but defeated these forces with the powerful attacks of Tzendorg. Despite that, the number of enemies flooding them kept increasing. The strong adversary with amazing strength made them wary.
“It doesn’t look good! There are still more behind!”
“What should we do, Eru? It will be terrible if they surround us, should we seek another route or turn back?”
No matter how powerful Tzendorg was, it was still just one machine. They will be surrounded and crushed by their foes if this went on. In contrast to the hesitant twins, Eru was decisively in his judgement to forge ahead— He came up with a plan.
“Maintain current course, deploy the equipment of mode three. Make a pin point charge with support from magic shots.”
“I have been waiting for this!”
This wagon known as mode three wasn’t just a giant transportation device, it could also display the power of the cavalry to the fullest, a prototype equipment used purely for battle.
Tzendorg was connected to the wagon behind which was loaded with all sorts of equipment. The two pilots busied themselves with their control stick and buttons, doing the necessary preparations.
“We are going, Eru! Releasing secure belts… Battle transformation, begin—!!”
The moment they gave the command, the back half of the wagon broke away. Eru sat on the remaining front half grabbing a connector with Toybox. Toybox supplied mana and script to the wagon, moving the armour around it.
Most of the wagon was made up from auxiliary arm and flexible coat. The sub arms lifted the armour as instructed and changed its deployment, concentrating on the seated Toybox. At the same time, numerous equipment kept within the armour was revealed. Huge foldable blades jutted out on either side with a dim glow, while two Silhouette Arms were erected to Toybox’s sides.
“Battle transformation complete… Presenting the mode three equipment ‘chariot’!!”
It looked totally different from a huge wagon. The armour covering all angles, beast slaying sword for melee and the Silhouette Arms ‘Culverin’ jutting out intimidatingly, it was truly a chariot.
Tzendorg expelled gas really loudly and increased the speed of its charge, dragging the heavy chariot in a gallop.
‘Culverin’ showed its fangs to the shell beasts, it was meant to be mounted on a chariot, a powerful Silhouette Arms not meant to be wielded by hand.
The magic shots that glowed bright red flew towards the shell beasts blocking the chariot’s path. Piercing the shell with ease, the ‘Culverin’ sent many of the demon beasts to a fiery death. Mana supply of the ‘Culverin’ didn’t come from Tzendorg. Instead, it tapped into Toybox’s mana pool. Toybox was flawed as a Silhouette Knight, but it had plenty of mana to spare because of its multiple ether reactors.
Toybox relied on the mobility of Tzendorg to move while using most of its mana to attack. It was named a chariot, but it's used exceeded that with its turret on a moving platform and was closer to a tank.
The chariot charged at top speed towards the wall of shell beasts that was decreasing due to the barrage from ‘Culverin’. Enemies right in its path was struck down by the lance of Tzendorg, while the adversaries around them were slain by the beast slaying swords. Instead of an edged weapon, the beast slaying sword looks closer to a blunt weapon. With the inertia of the chariot, the thick metal blades could cut through the shells of the beasts.
The further the chariot advanced, the bigger the body count of the shell beasts was. They forged ahead through unstoppable courage and strength.
As the chariot took out the shell beasts in its path, it headed deep into the forest.
The giant tree garden was a boring place. All you could see was endless gigantic trees. This numbed their sense of time and position. Ady was the one to tire of this boring sight first.
“Nah Eru, where are we going?”
“Well, why do you think the shell beasts attacked us?”
She tilted her head in response to Eru’s question, and Chid answered in her stead.
“Ah, because they are ‘splitting hive’, so they are leaving their original swarm.”
“That is correct. From the structure of the shell beast society, there must be a queen at the centre of the swarm. Hive splitting occurs because of the birth of a new queen, so we have to take out the queen to stop this ‘invasion’. I heard the queen shell beast is a tough nut to crack, that’s why we will deal with her with our mode three.”
“I see. Great, the bigger the opponent, the more exciting it is!”
The trio chatted casually, but Tzendorg didn’t slow down as it sped through the forest. No enemy showed up to stop them, and they pressed on with a speed normal Silhouette Knights couldn’t match, allowing them to break through the sturdy barrier of the soldier shell beasts.
The weird thing happened suddenly. A shrill sound of crushing shook the atmosphere. The scene before their eyes stunned them— colossal trees that were as tough as normal demon beasts were crushed mercilessly, falling along with its broken branches.
Even Silhouette Knights would find it tough to snap colossal trees, and was impossible for humans to achieve. To meet something that could pulverise the giant trees… There were not many answers that would fit.
In the dust cloud that was sky high, they could see a giant, dense shadow. Its head was about the same as the colossal trees around it, so Eru and the rest thought it was the trunk of a tree. However, they quickly realised that thing moved, and was actually the leg of a demon beast.
“Eru! A super huge one came out!”
“Yup, that is probably the queen shell beast… It is bigger than I imagined.”
Even Eru couldn’t hide his worry. The demon beast emerging from the dust cloud was much more massive than they imagined. Surprisingly, the top of the body could touch the leaves of the colossal trees, with the legs as thick as the colossal trees responsible for most of its height. No wonder they were mistaken.
From afar, its body structure consisting of six walking appendages and two claws were similar to the other shell beasts. Its torso that was covered in exoskeleton bent like a shrimp. The most prominent thing was the part hanging below its abdomen, which wasn’t protected by shell like normal shell beasts. It was several times larger than its torso.
The scientific name was ‘incubator shell’, the organ that produced eggs for shell beasts. Eggs produced by the queen would hatch inside its body, and the hatchling’s infancy would be spent inside the incubator shell, only leaving when it was matured. Apart from being the only one capable of reproducing, it was also the nest itself, the embodiment of the swarm.
I see, so the gigantic legs is for supporting that massive belly, Eru thought nonchalantly.
However, there was no way that they would know that a queen splitting hives would not had grown an incubator shell yet, since it hinders movement and was an obvious weak point. A queen that functions as a nest migrating— that was an abnormality for the behaviour of shell beasts. The main reason was that the swarm had grown far beyond normal standards.
“The problem isn’t the size, but the toughness. Let’s try attacking.”
In the face of the humongous demon beast, their fighting spirit continued to burn brightly. The chariot charged towards the feet of the queen shell beast. Maybe it didn’t notice or didn’t care, the queen continued its slow pace that send tremour through the ground. The heavy incubator shell was a heavy burden and the queen couldn’t go any faster.
“Let’s stop its movement, go for the legs!”
Toybox aimed the Culverin on the chariot and fired directly at the demon beasts legs. The queen seemed to notice them and stopped. Using this chance, the chariot advanced, shearing at a leg with the demon slaying sword as they passed by— but the attack was ineffective, knocking the chariot into the air because of the reactionary force instead.
The heavy chariot went airborne because of the collision and started spinning. The twins in the pilot seat widened their eyes helplessly. Both chariot and pilots would take heavy damage if this continued.
Immediately after this, a bright flame shot out from the airborne chariot. It was Eru who activated Toybox’s magi jet thrusters. The powerful propelling force countered the spinning momentum, restoring their balance. After this close save, the chariot which was about to flip over, landed safely. The group was silent for a long while as the chariot kept going as if nothing was wrong.
“... Let’s not attack the legs.”
The trio broke out in cold sweat and decided to pull away from the queen. Although the chariot avoided the fate of being destroyed, the demon slaying sword had a crack because of the impact earlier. If they did it again, it will definitely snap.
“It must be tough since it could support such a massive body. Destroying it with brute force should be impossible.”
“What should we do, Eru? Even mode three was knocked back, this is very bad.”
“Eh, let’s attack the weak spot head on.”
The chariot turned back after making a large detour, charging the queen shell beast once more. The queen finally noticed the small object running around it and adopted an intimidating pose against them. It stomped on them when it saw the chariot making a beeline for it.
Tzendorg made a sharp turn, tilting the body dangerously to dodge the stomp. With a burst from Toybox, the chariot following behind also adjusted its direction of movement.
Next, Eru fired the Culverin in rapid succession after the queen stopped momentarily. He didn’t aim for the leg, but the large weak spot, the incubating shell. His shots were fired haphazardly, but he couldn’t miss such a prominent target. Crimson magic bullets flew into the abdomen hanging below it, bursting into hellish flames as dictated by its script. A bright blossom of explosion appeared on the stomach of the queen.
The relaxed shell beast queen lost its balance for the first time and shrieked in pain. The powerful ‘Culverin’ roasted the inside of the incubator shell. Flames burst out from the queen’s abdomen and it fell onto the ground.
“Oh, that was unexpectedly easy.”
“Eru, why didn’t we do that instead of charging from the very start?”
No one answered Ady’s comment.
“Anyway, let’s go back since we had settled this…”
Chid relaxed and said after the unexpected battle outcome, but was overshadowed by a terrifying scream from behind. Although the shell beast queen stopped momentarily after its incubator shell was burned, it didn’t die.
Blowing huge amounts of foam from its mouth, it searched its surrounding with its focused protruding eyes. Finally, the queen found its hated enemy and was coloured with rage.
The shell beast queen stood with the sound of muscle tissue ripping. It came from the abdomen connected to the incubator shell. It grew louder as it movement became bigger before finally breaking off the incubator shell with a loud snap.
The incubator shell was an important organ for the queen, but losing it doesn’t lead to death; as long as its main body survives, it could be regenerated. However, it would take a rather long time, which was a critical blow towards the survival of the swarm.
“Oh, her majesty is angry, let’s get away for now.”
Before Eru even finished, the twins was already pushing Tzendorg to escape. When it saw what they were doing, the shell beast queen also started moving. Without the burden of the incubator shell, the queen moved with astonishing speed, as if all its slow movement before was a lie. Its massive strides allowed it to move even faster than the chariot. Catching up in no time, it used its legs to stomp mightily.
The powerful legs struck like an explosion, falling onto the path they were heading in, cracking the ground and the roots as it shook the ground. If they crash into it head on, they would be done for. The twins changed direction with Tzendorg in a hurry. Toybox’s magi jet thrusters roared and their unified effort completed the impossible tight turn.
Swerving left and right, they kept changing their direction of advance, displaying a nimbleness a heavy cart wouldn’t be capable of. They avoided each and every one of the queen’s stomping feet.
The queen was relentless in each pursuit, stomping all over the place in order to crush the chariot. It seemed inevitable for them to be pulverised, but despite being forced to the brink, they managed to evade their death.
“We made it through!”
“Head straight for the forest!!”
The chariot slid in between the giant trees while the shell beast queen was hindered by its massive body. Using this chance, they bought more time and distance in order to discuss their strategy against the wrath of the queen.
“Shit, it is fast and hard, mode three can’t take her out, what should we do!?”
“Yeah, being tough and hard is fine, but it is fast, too.”
The sound of the shell beast queen rampaging and breaking colossal trees could be heard from behind. It had no intention of giving up, and was filled with the resolve to chase them wherever they might go.
“Sigh, this is bad, right, Eru? Wouldn’t it be dangerous if we run around with the shell beast queen in tow?”
If the Silver Phoenix Knights had to face the shell beast queen which was capable of snapping colossal trees, it would be a hard fight. Even if the Silver Phoenix Knights could handle it, they need to watch out for Alvanz behind them, too. Just imagining bringing the thing along behind them gave them the chills.
“... True. Alright, change of plans. Please continue to circle around the forest and attract its attention. If it stops, do what you can to attack it.”
“Roger! And, you?”
“I… Will seek an audience with her majesty.”
Eru released the securing harness as he spoke. By opening up the armour of the chariot, Toybox would be able to move independently. He, then, detached the Culverin on the chariot, and held onto it with the sub arms on the back of Toybox. By using both of the sub arms, Eru finally managed to secure the heavy lance onto his machine.
At this moment, Tzendorg dodged into the shades of the colossal trees. The moment the queen’s gaze was covered by the giant trees, Eru’s Toybox leapt off the chariot. He observed the shell beast queen from the shadows, and saw that the queen was only tracking the prominent chariot, not realising he had alighted.
“Alright, the main event will be coming up…”
Eru activated the magi jet thrusters on Toybox’s waist and shoulders and kept the crystal eye onto the trunk of the colossal tree. Sounds of explosion erupted. Toybox started accelerating and jumped onto the trunk, using the propelling force to run straight up the tree. He was planning to use the magi jet thrusters to aid the Silhouette Knight in climbing a tree. Eru’s action was crazy as usual.
Eru forced the heavy machine made from steel and crystal tissue up the trunk with incredible speed. However, the magi jet thrusters output dropped suddenly midway, and the unbalanced Toybox twisted its movement direction drastically.
“This is nothing!”
Eru kicked off the trunk, pushing off towards a branch nearby and grabbed on. The thinner branch started cracking and falling, which softened Toybox’s landing. He was lucky that the colossal tree could withstand the weight of a Silhouette Knight. If anything went wrong, he might have fallen to the ground directly.
“I don’t feel safe using huge amount of mana. If I knew this would happen, I would have prepared some anchor wire… I will review it after going back.”
Eru started grumbling. The failure of the magi jet thrusters was due to the structural flaw of Toybox, leading to the unstable control over the ether reactors. Short burst was fine, but operation over a long period was unstable like hugging a time bomb. All he could do was to deal with it one step at a time. Eru rested the machine a bit, and started climbing the tree once the output was stable. He didn’t run up the trunk directly, but jumped from branch to branch.
The shell beast queen was right in front of him. Its protruding eyes turned when it saw the giant figure leaping from tree to tree. Considering the machine as just an obstacle in its path, the queen wasn’t fazed by it and kicked at the giant tree with its destructive leg. Toybox lost its balance when its foothold was destroyed.
“Well done! Since I already reach this point—!!”
The roots cracked as the colossal tree fell slowly. Eru stabilised the machine with the jet thrust and charged full speed ahead, gaining height quickly when the tree was tilting sideways.
Turning the head of the machine, the holo monitor projected the image of the queen leaving after it was satisfied with the destruction it wrought. Toybox focused on its target and kicked off the colossal tree, taking off with the magi jet thrusters at maximum burst.
Not expecting this move, the queen reacted a tad slower. Toybox which leapt off with explosive speed landed nicely on the back of the shell beast queen. Turning its head which was much smaller than its body, the queen glared at the unwelcomed guest on its body.
“Ara, greetings, your majesty. Pardon me, but for a mere demon beast to attack my Silhouette Knights… You better say your prayers.”
As Eru made his joke-like speech, he struck first before the shell beast queen could do anything, aiming for the giant beast’s head. Normal means wouldn’t work against gigantic demon beast protected by tough shells. The only way was to focus the attack on the weak points. The head was the obvious weak point common to all living beings, the bigger the body, the easier for aim for it.
The shell beast queen didn’t allow Eru free reign. A pair of massive claws attacked the foreign object on its back. Toybox burst its magi jet thrusters sporadically to evade the fierce attacks and then closed the distance to the head while prepping the ‘Culverin’ on its back.
He was just a step away from the head. At this moment, Eru suddenly turned the magi jet thrusters around and braked sharply. The powerful pressure from changing directions made the entire machine creaked. He stopped because something flashed before his eyes.
They weren’t claws, but something extending out from the head of the shell beast queen. Those were sharp blades that send food to the queen’s mouth, mandibles. Using its muscles like a spring, the mandible was strong enough to cut steel. The proof was the slash on the chest armour of Toybox.
“You are really talented! If I had known, I would have brought more equipment!”
The mandible attacked the retreating Toybox again. In the face of the impregnable double layer of defence, Eru couldn’t do anything. Adding the unstable foothold on top, he couldn’t get near freely.
With something foreign on its body that wouldn’t go away, the queen started losing its patience. It probably understood the attack from its claw wasn’t working, so it changed its approach. Suddenly, a tremour could be felt from under Toybox. It was the shell beast queen lowering its stance and shaking its body violently. With its huge size, its violent movement was earth shaking, Eru who was on top of it felt the movement to be greater than a leaf in a tornado, it took everything he had to not get shaken off.
“Wait, this is terrible!”
The violently shaking body of the shell beast queen became a weapon. Eru adjusted the dampers and magi jet thrusters to balance himself as he jump around to avoid being hit. This will exhaust the mana pool of Toybox really fast, so Eru searched for a chance to counterattack, but the situation seemed dire.
What gave the chance to the desperate Eru wasn’t the shell beast queen or Eru himself. Crimson bullets came from the forest, hitting the leg and torso of the shell beast queen and bursting into flames. It didn’t suffer heavy damage as it was protected by the shell, the impact still made the gigantic beast lost its balance and restraining its movements
“Eru, are you okay!? We are here to help!”
The one shooting the bullets was Tzendorg which had turned back. It ran around the shell beast queen a large distance away as they fired the ‘Culverin’ left on the chariot. The shell beast queen shrieked when it saw the despicable chariot that destroyed its incubator shell. It had low intelligence, but the queen remembered what its enemy looked like.
“That’s right, aim for us! I will dodge all your attacks!”
After getting the queen’s attention, Tzendorg escaped into the forest. Ignoring the small object on its back, the shell beast queen changed its target and pursued the chariot.
Using this golden opportunity, Eru sneaked ahead with Toybox. The defence of the mandible made it hard for him to attack the head. If that was the case, he just needed to change the target to the joints of the legs. He still remembered the ‘theory of destroying giant weapons’.
Toybox transferred the ‘Culverin’ secured by the sub arms to his hands and aimed for the joint connecting the legs. The two ether reactor on Toybox churned angrily at full speed, channeling powerful mana into the Silhouette Arms. The magic bullet fired from an extremely close distance pierced the joint with flaming heat. With the protection of strengthening magic, a single shot won’t have much effect. Eru shot twice more and hid after seeing their explosion. The next second, a column of fire erupted from the base of the shell beast queen.
The queen squirmed its body as it shrieked. No matter how tough the shells were, it couldn’t cover the joints as that would prevent movement. Even the colossal beast couldn’t take the powerful shots of the ‘Culverin’.
Eru struggled to balance on the suffering beast and attack the leg besides it. The magic shot erupted into explosion again and the queen spasm with each blow, but its movement was growing weaker. The legs on just one side was attacked, causing its colossal body to tilt.
“Don’t be shy, here, have one more.”
Eru shot at the tilting shell beast queen from the side, the impact finally pushing the queen off balance. Once the joints supporting the legs were burned, it couldn’t fight against the pull of gravity. The colossal beast fell into a cloud of dust silently.
Toybox stayed on its back until the last moment before jumping into the air. Eru attempted to slow his descent with his magi jet thrusters, but his earlier reckless action made the output unstable, making it impossible to slow down.
“Toybox, just hang on! Let me see your spirit!”
Eru pushed the remaining mana into the side propeller, forcefully changing the direction of his drop. Tzendorg that was pulling the chariot rushed to the spot under him.
“Leave catching Eru to me—!”
Toybox aimed for the chariot and fell into it. During the moment of impact, the flexible coat and sub arms took the place of shock absorbers, barely catching onto Toybox. A sharp cracking sound could be heard from all over Toybox. Part of its inner skeleton and muscle tissue broke, but Eru didn’t cared and focused on the chariot. He activated the flexible coat and beast slaying sword, ready for battle.
“Give it the final blow! Ady, Chid, turn back!”
The two of them gave reliable acknowledgements. Tzendorg galloped at top speed with the chariot in tow.
When the dust cleared, the shell beast queen was still on the ground. Its legs were broken and it couldn’t move. Being large and standing tall worked against it as it suffered severe injuries crashing into the ground. Despite its condition, the queen was still struggling. Blood dripped out from its mouth as it moved its legs in an attempt to move.
Sounds of horse hooves rose. In order to deal the final blow to the shell beast queen, the chariot charged at full speed. The queen had no way of defending itself. Its mandibles broke during the fall; it could still move its claw, but its attack range was limited. Its other legs wouldn’t help much.
Eru dodged its last ditch kick and the chariot charged pass the shell beast queen’s head with its remaining beast slayer sword. The heavy steel plate powered by the insane speed of the chariot crashed into the head shell that was already crumbling from its fall, smashing it apart. The head of the queen splitted and its contents sprayed out. The queen exhaled for the final time.
“Yay! We really did it this time, Eru!”
“Yes, thank you for the hard work, you two. Well then, let’s meet up with the others.”
The trio didn’t have time to be emotional after taking down the shell beast queen and hurried back to Althusser Ravine Gate.
With the Knight Commander’s return, the Silver Phoenix Knights became even more powerful. After losing their queen, the shell beast swarm lost control and their only advantage in numbers were lost with the return of Alvanz. The battle that followed was a one sided affair.
After a week, the shell beast swarm was completely eradicated.