Elinium Type 95 Operation Orb
Editing: Doopington, Rinhz, Skythewood, SifaV6, JcqC, Rockgollem
Raw Provided by: swiss Momo
Raw Provided by: swiss Momo
The Airspace Above Klusross Army Air Force Testing Factory
Southwest side of Imperial Capital Berlun, above Klusross Army Air Force Testing Facility; today was noisy as usual.
Through scientific research, it became possible to recreate [Techniques], which enabled miracles by way of Orbs and Scepters. Modern magical studies and research made it possible to interfere with reality through the Operation Orb. In this physical world that was dominated by the third dimension, this was a method that allowed apparition of phenomena by giving appropriate stimulation to the point of application. To put it in simple terms, it was the difference between turning the gear wheel of a lighter with your hand and turning it with the power of magic. As long as you understood the way of doing it, you could recreate deeds such as miracles. This has already become a type of skill that could be achieved through technology.
Of course, fundamental principle related to mana and interference spells were not completely understood as of now. However, in order to gain military advantage over others, magic engineering research was pushed forcefully and the Empire made a significant breakthrough, leading to a formation of a new type of military unit. That breakthrough was the successful development of the Operation Orb, a combination of both mana and analog calculation. Unlike the era of legends, this allowed people to clearly understand in detail the where, the how, and to what degree of power to interfere with reality..
The essence of the Operation Orb was undoubtedly in the practical use of aeronautic magic. It allowed mages who were mere mortals to soar through the air. Which meant creating propulsion, forcefully raising a person into the sky, and maintaining balance while in the air. If they wished to, a magician could even straddle on a broom and pretend to be a witch. As the energy source that produces the stimulation, the bayonet-mounting rifle was a valuable item that served as a substitute for a scepter. Of course, it was a weapon mainly used to cast long range magic in a battle.
In any case, miracles were phenomena that could be recreated by using technology. Its utility and military application was widely recognized.
Yet, because people knew the importance of the orbs, the Great Powers had developed a cutthroat competition in researching this technology.
Even the pioneer of this aspect, the Empire, was not an exception.
♦ ♦ ♦
Today, the weather was sunny with strong winds. My current altitude was 4000 feet high and increasing. About half of the scheduled experiments had been completed. Compared to the previous experiment where I almost died when the parachute failed to deploy due to humidity from the clouds, the conditions for today were not too bad. However, I didn’t feel motivated at all. It was not that simple of an experiment; if you were to lose focus for even a moment, the calculations would collapse and the orb receiver would burst into flames. Such conditions made it impossible to relax.
I stiffened my face that was on the verge of spasming as I cautiously maintained cruising speed relative to ground speed as stated in the plan. Since I already successfully completed the other experiments, all that was left was to ascend.
That’s right, with plenty of defects, zero reliability, the fancily-named [New Model] prototype orb.
Should I think of this as the joy of having the world in the palm of my hand? Interfering with the laws of nature is a job that requires delicate control and attention to fine details.
Tanya’s hand was tattered after being ordered to perform this task which required complete concentration with no margin of error to speak of.
If current medical technology was not this advanced, she would only have her left arm right now.
Holding an unreliable Orb was akin to holding a grenade. The result was obvious without saying. That was why the Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff’s mood was heavy as she flew, sighing in her heart.
[Receiver explosion! It’s on fire! Terminate experiment! Terminate experiment!]
Along with the moans from Tanya, screams from the air controller echoed through the sky once again.
How did things turn out this way? To explain, we would need to go back to my reassignment to the rear to recuperate after suffering my injuries in the north.
For the recuperating Mage Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaf, her assignment after she returned to duty was a matter of life and death. After the arduous battle, not only did she achieve great results, she even got a medal to show for it… This would be advantageous for her future prospects; however it also presented the problem that she might get tied down on the frontlines.
[Please let me read it.]
That’s why after I took the letter offered to me. I was hoping that it wasn’t an order to redeploy to the frontlines. However my worries turned out to be for nought—It was an undated domestic deployment order. In other words, it wasn’t official now, but once it was dated and signed by my supervisor, it would become an official document immediately. This was known in the military as “pre-decision.”
[Rejoice. This is a notice for your transfer to the Tactical Training Department, and a request for your secondment as testing personnel by the Inspector General’s Office.]
All in all, this wasn’t a bad situation. Not only was it a domestic posting, it was an administrative role. Working in the training department and partaking in an administrative role as testing personnel, Tanya felt that she was being highly evaluated.
Most important of all, there were many advantages of being assigned to the Tactical Training Department. As an elite unit within the Empire, not only did they get the best equipment, it was also a sacred training ground, suitable for honing skills and researching tactics. It was the best environment to increase one’s survivability as much as possible. For Tanya, even though she needed to provide guidance to others, she could also steal the techniques from them. In that case, this was the best assignment. There wouldn’t be any negative implications with having the Tactical Training Department on her resume.
As well, the vague request for her secondment to the Inspector General’s Office as testing personnel couldn’t be too bad. The Inspector General’s Office was the classic example of a backend support unit. If she took up a post as testing personnel there, she would be able to hide in the rear lines with the official excuse of performing experiments.
To be frank, I was hoping for an administrative post in the railroad department or Military Headquarters, but this was within acceptable range.
[We wish to respect your opinion as much as possible. Do you have any objections?]
He said he will respect my opinion as per protocol, but it had already been decided. He probably didn’t imagine that I would ever reject this offer. Since it had been arranged to such an extent, it also meant I won’t be allowed to reject this deployment. There were only three options: Yes, Oui or Ja.
[Yes, I have no objections. I am willing to accept this posting.]
[Very good. So, why don’t you start testing out the new prototype once you reach the logistics department. Formally speaking, you are being seconded from the training department.]
After the commander finished, he noted my consent on the official document. This document would then be handed to me as an official assignment letter. From that moment, my transfer was completed administratively. The process was fast—even the internal notification was probably just a formality.
[Of course, I’m sure you have some questions in mind. You have permission to ask them.]
I love superiors who were reasonable. They were worthy of respect.
[Thank you. First, why was I assigned to the training branch?]
Why not post me directly to the Inspector General’s Office—I was curious about the rationale? Of course, I welcomed the assignment to the training department, but to think they gave me two wonderful postings. Be it the political workings behind it or the reasons leading to this manpower deployment, please let me understand it better.
I didn’t want to be caught up in troublesome matters unknowingly and de-rail my career.
However Tanya’s worries were answered surprisingly simply.
[Even if you are an Ace, you are still a child. As such, sending you to the frontline does not leave a good impression for the public.]
….This made me understand that the logic of the higher ups was different from others; they only realized such a thing now.
On paper, I am still a child. It also means that I am in the position where I require the care of another. Looks like these big-shots finally understood what the common sense of society was.
[So you want the Ace to become a rearline accessory?]
Of course, I couldn’t let my supervisor see how happy I was that they pulled me from the frontlines over such trivial matters, but I still had to confirm it. If things went smoothly, this would be the best situation in my strategy for survival. This was amazing, wonderful. If it was this moment, I feel that I could achieve mutual understanding with the entire world’s population.
Tanya, who was so happy that she could accept any strange ideas at this moment easily, hid her glee under a cold expression.
[Such a novel perspective, Second Lieutenant. I hadn’t thought of it that way.]
These words from her commander allowed Tanya to confirm her suspicions.
Even though the higher-ups' intentions were unclear, the commanding officer in front of her did not deny her speculation. This meant that her speculation was not beyond how the situation actually was. How great, safe backline duty.
[I have misspoken.]
[The higher-ups think highly of you. That is also the reason why they’ve placed you as the key personnel in charge of the development of the new prototype.]
Also, practically speaking, posting an excellent Mage who has returned from the front to instructional duties or technology development was still within the norm of Human Resources. This was typically the best reason to pull young soldiers from the frontline. For members of the military, this was an easily accepted explanation.
After feeling relieved, Tanya started wondering—What is this new prototype from the Inspector General’s Office? She probably wouldn’t be used as a guinea pig, but she was still wanted to know which technological field she would be testing in.
[May I ask about the new prototype?]
If the reply was that it was confidential, then all I could do was to shut up. However, it would be good to have at least some kind of mental preparation.
When getting hit, humans would feel completely different levels of pain, depending on whether they expected it or not. Therefore, Tanya hoped to be notified earlier, so that she would be able to make some proper mental preparations.
Of course, curiosity was a large factor too.
[Well, I only know that you will be testing a prototype Operation Orb.]
[Understood. Thank you for the heads up.]
That was the truth. Within the safety of the rear and with the intent of the developing technology, various tests on the prototype Operation Orb were conducted. What he said was entirely true. Just that he did not inform her that the orb was as unreliable as the Italian [Red Devils①].
That was why I was suffering now.
♦ ♦ ♦
In the airspace southwest of the Imperial capital Berlun, at a height of 12,000 feet. This already exceeded the maximum elevation of the Operation Orb. This was about 3600 meters high. It is an unreachable height unless one wore special equipment designed specifically for breaking height records and was using a highly enhanced orb. The oxygen density was a concern, and more importantly, there was a high risk of hypothermia.
In order to let my body adapt to high altitudes, I spent too much time at the altitude of 6,800 feet, which proved to be counterproductive. In the end, humans were not meant to stay in high altitudes for such long periods of time.
[Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff? Are you still conscious? Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff?]
With an oxygen density so low it made one’s head dull and body as heavy as lead, Tanya felt so tired she didn’t even want to answer the radio. Even though she was wearing cold weather clothes, this was an altitude she only managed to reach by carrying an oxygen tank, radio set and parachute.
There was only one thing in Tanya’s mind: “the people who sent live humans to this height should try it out themselves.”
[Barely. Unable to sustain much longer. To be frank, I don’t think anyone can survive above this height.]
This height was colder than the ground temperature by 21.6 degrees. The oxygen level was less than 63% of sea level. Tanya doubted anyone could make a brief stopover at this altitude during aerial combat, and the place itself was obviously rejecting the presence of humans. In the end, the altitude limit of orbs were only six thousand feet. It would be impossible to shake off the effects of gravity any further as it was difficult to generate more propulsion at this height.
That’s why Tanya gauged that a mage was roughly equivalent to an attack helicopter in terms of aerial maneuver capability. In fact, due to the difference in flying altitude, the Empire had never incorporated mages and fighter jets into the same fighting unit. That was how absolute the flying altitude was.
Of course, if the only concern was altitude, it could be overcome by using special orbs used to challenge altitude records. However, the orb Tanya was testing wasn’t built to break altitude records, but bore the name of “New Model”, with the goal of military-wide implementation.
Even so, this “New Type — Elinium Type 95 Operation Orb” was able to exert a propulsion force that was normally impossible. However, the method used was simple and cliche. The concept was the same as an engine, the simplistic idea that, “if one isn’t strong enough, use two. If two is still too weak, use four”.
Hence, aside from the logo of the research lab to mark it as a prototype, it looked the same as any normal Orb. Design wise, there were also plenty of mechanical parts built into the sphere, and it was the same size as a common Orb.
But the main difference was inside of the Orb
[The main problem is that the mana consumption rate is too heavy. Mana conversion efficiency is really terrible.]
By quadrupling the output of an Operation Orb that uses mana in place of fuel, the mana consumption rate will also increase four-fold. However, unlike oil tanks, humans couldn’t easily increase their storage capacity to counter the spike in consumption.
Even though it had revolutionary performance, from the perspective of a mage, the practicality of this unusual Orb that kept posing impossible problems and induced incredible fatigue was doubtful. Not only was its consumption rate four times higher than usual, there was also the technical problem which required one to synchronize all four Operation Orb cores together.
Due to the success in miniaturizing the design, the size of the Orb was not too different from usual. Even though it had four cores, it was still small enough to be kept inside the breast pocket of a mage, which was amazing. It was convenient to carry and use.
Their astonishing accomplishment of miniaturizing the Orb made their technical skill worthy of respect, but from the standpoint of the user, it was a frustrating piece of junk. Miniaturizing delicate machinery meant lowering its tolerance for error. Not only did the user need to perform the difficult task of synchronizing four cores, the miniaturized Orb core was also unstable and unreliable.
Therefore, although the consumption rate was four-fold in theory, it was much larger than that in reality. Including the mana that constantly leaked out, an optimistic estimate would put consumption at six times the norm. The inability to adapt to the altitude was probably a huge factor; just conducting altitude experiments was as tiring as performing aerial combat maneuvers at full speed. Furthermore, this feeling of fatigue and pain increased exponentially with time.
[Second Lieutenant, can you increase altitude? In theory, you should be able to reach 18,000 feet.]
The testing staff replied with displeasure after receiving Tanya’s reply that was filled with fatigue.
…This maniac—Tanya cursed in her heart, while staring at the supervising aircraft. The criminal who interjected into the radio communication was in there. How satisfying would it be if Tanya could shoot down the supervising aircraft along with that fellow. Suppressing the tempting urge that surfaced like a drug addiction, Tanya sighed.
That voice was Chief Engineer Adelaide von Schugel , who was also an absolute maniac. Shooting his plane down would only lead to bigger problems and wouldn’t solve the issue, so she could only endure... This was extremely painful for Tanya. Having to test the prototype developed by that engineer, life is so unreasonable—Tanya could only lament to herself.
[Professor Schugel, please don’t ask the impossible.]
Without an electrically heated suit, living humans would not be able to fly higher than this. In the end, speaking from combat experience, just the fact that I would need to fly with my oxygen tank meant it couldn’t be put to practical use. Needless to say, a single hit to the oxygen tank would be a joyous experience for everyone except for the one who got shot.
Let’s say if someone didn’t wear an electrically heated suit, and relied solely on oxygen produced by magic instead of an oxygen tank to stay in this place. If the mana supply was dependent on the Orb, it would increase the already heavy consumption rate. Compared to normal Orbs, it was a consumption rate that made combat sustainability doubtful. The risk of the user losing consciousness due to factors such as low oxygen was very high.
Parachutes would need to be issued (which wasn’t much of an issue for experimental flights in domestic grounds) but to attempt a landing using parachutes while incapacitated and disorientated in a combat scenario would just result in one becoming an easy target. Even after landing, the safety of the user would be dubious, and if you landed behind enemy lines, you would definitely be captured.
The risk of the parachute being burned or malfunctioning due to humidity was significant. Just preparing a reliable parachute would require a lot of effort.
[You should have enough mana left, and the load on the Operation Orb is still within acceptable range.]
However—for oddball researchers who only care about their own project, the “theoretical” limits were everything.
[Professor, the error tolerance of this Orb is too low! This damn flawed thing might catch fire any moment!]
For soldiers who had experienced deadly aerial combat, rather than “theoretical limits,” “reliability” was everything. From Tanya’s perspective, just thinking about the previous altitude experiment resurfaced traumatic memories for her.
♦ ♦ ♦
It was a tragedy back then. At the altitude of four thousand feet, a slight error in synchronization led to a breakdown in mana balance. The cause was said to be the slight error in mana propagation speed inside the bypass circuit—even the experimental bypass circuit crafted with a higher level of precision than normal circuits used in battle couldn’t handle the load? When I found out the reason, I really felt like shouting: [Just how precise did you expect my control to be?!]
The Operation Orb couldn’t keep the mana from going out of control, resulting in chain explosions as the Orb failed to bear the overload. It was extremely fortunate that I managed to suppress the mana explosion in the nick of time with a backup Operation Orb that was prepared for emergencies.
However, that could only be done if the altitude was about four thousand feet. At twelve thousand feet, it would be impossible to move due to the cold and the severe lack of oxygen made me doubt my ability to maintain consciousness. If the prototype Orb caught fire at such an altitude, I would end up kissing the ground after losing control.
No matter who, even those without the dedication rivaling that of a woman towards her first kiss, no one would want that to happen. It was only natural instinct to throw the Orb away before it went out of control. But as a soldier, I couldn’t do so.
If it was possible I would toss it right away, but the prototype Operation Orb was highly classified. That’s why it wouldn’t be permitted. The moment I threw it away, protective measures to safeguard the integrity of classified material would be thrown into action.
After all, it was the duty of the testing personnel to return the Orb in good shape as much as possible. That’s why I had to be careful with my actions and keep the chance of accidents happening as low as possible. It was difficult to describe, but if forced to use an analogy, this was like riding a unicycle on a tightrope, jumping through hoops of fire and throwing daggers at the same time. The Orb left absolutely no room for error.
Anyone who use such an absurd Orb to increase altitude were either fools or had suicidal tendencies. Or maybe both.
♦ ♦ ♦
[Of all the things you can say of my masterpiece, you just have to call it a flawed Orb!?]
The direct opinion of the test personnel Tanya was taken badly by the director of research who was pursuing the “theoretical limit.” Of course, Tanya could give the professor heartfelt compliments too; the performance of the Orb was truly exceptional.
To forcefully realize the quad-core synchronization system that was just a theory for current technology, it was an astonishing technical feat. This allowed the miniaturization of the old cores while maintaining their performance. From a purely technological standpoint, he was undoubtedly a genius.
It wasn’t an exaggeration to call this the greatest leap in technology since the unraveling of the theory behind the Orb and Scepter system.
Hence, could you please consider the users when creating it? For Tanya, no matter how great the performance was, no one would be able to keep up with the professor’s product. There was a saying in the military about “changing your body to fit the uniform” that would only be possible if the size of the uniform was not too many sizes off.
[Don’t just look at the specifications, consider practical usage too! At least, think more about the engineering redundancy!]
In the harsh battlefield, this was the biggest prerequisite in military equipment. The Dienstpferd that the cavalry wanted were not purebred horses.
<Dienstpferd: war horse>
[You are the one talking nonsense! Are you trying to desynchronize the perfectly optimized Orb!?]
[Professor Schugel, I’m begging you, please don’t yell over the comms.]
[Shut up! I will consider that if you take back your words!]
Yelling curses through the radio waves in experimental airspace. Ah, he wasn’t even a professional idiot, but just mentally a brat. Tanya wanted to hold her head and scream. Her head was really hurting badly, but this fellow was also the director of this experiment. If she was in charge of human resources, she wouldn’t neglect her duty and appoint someone who could restrain this technological idiot as his director to rein him in.
But the fact remained that this fellow was the director while I was the main testing personnel. I had nothing against the Empire’s policy of meritocracy, but at least consider the management ability of your officers. I really wanted to yell: “Know the difference between a professional and management!”
[Like I said…]
Based on my past experience, I was quite dissatisfied with the Empire’s management system. On the other hand, as a soldier, I had no choice since the actions I could take were limited by the conditions given to me. However, the consequences of my concentration lapsing cut short this headache-inducing argument.
[The temperature of the receiver and the Orb’s core is spiking!]
Eh! Ahhhhhh, damn it—! The accident caused by a lapse of concentration made me groan. The result of a synchronization failure made me unable to handle the Orb’s core about to go out of control. I immediately cut off my mana and emergency discharged the remaining mana inside the orb. As an emergency procedure, one move would immediately execute both of these actions.
Fortunately, the safety mechanism that was installed after the previous incident worked much better than expected. Even the receiver that caught fire and exploded the previous time managed to stabilize the circuit somehow. But even so, there was no way to discharge the mana contained within the Operation Orb without damaging it.
The mana within the core components of the Orb was unable to maintain synchronization and began to collide, causing the circuits to fail against the pressures and explode instantly. But what luck!—All thanks to the reinforced casing I vehemently requested being made just in time for this experiment, the explosion caused barely any actual damage.
[Air control officer, please acknowledge the situation. I am going to deploy my parachute now.]
Hence, Tanya’s pretty face showed relief as she informed the air control officer with an impatient tone over the wireless comms and got ready to land as per standard procedure. She had the minimum altitude clearance and was in the Empire’s safe zone. Under these conditions, rather than activating the backup Operation Orb in panic, it would be safer to deploy her parachute.
If it was in the Empire, there would be no worry about being sniped while one was slowly descending by parachute. So for the currently-descending Tanya, the most important thing would be to prepare for her safe landing.
[Copy that… Wait… Professor, please stop! Let go! Please let go…]
While she was opening her parachute in the midst of a slow descent, Tanya couldn’t help sighing when she heard this awkward argument via wireless comms, even though she knew it was just a waste of oxygen. She caught intermittent snippets of an argument via the comms. It seemed like there was a certain man who wanted to forcefully snatch away the wireless comms, and was causing havoc right now.
Did the Chief Engineer Adelaide von Schugel exchange his conscience with talent? Though there were many examples of talented people with questionable ethics, this is the first time in my life I have met someone with such a huge difference between his talent and his personality.
It wasn’t clear whether the world hated me, or was this the devil cursing me? However paranormal existences like magic exist in this world, this must be the handiwork of that devil X—Tanya could not help but lament.
[Second Lieutenant Degurechaff! Why did you mess it up again?!]
It seems like the hard-fought battle by the Air Control Officer was fruitless, the wireless comms was snatched away from the evil scientist after all. Even so, Tanya could not help but thank the fact that the Control Officer had at least tried to protect the wireless comms. Since the evil scientist is now obstructing me, I have no choice but to use my right to self defense. What a world, where one has to always fend for himself.
If I had to describe it I would only say one thing: “Where? Where is the law and order? The whole world wants to know.”
Right now, I have the upmost respect for jurists from the bottom of my heart. It doesn’t matter if it is a formality, please re-establish law and order in the world.
[I’m the one who should say that!]
After all, even a simple explosive interruption spell could not be cast properly because of the Orb’s ridiculously complex structure. The number of explosions caused by the receiver going out of control far exceeds those triggered by spells.
When I heard that we were conducting a flying experiment, I didn’t expect that I would experience the greatness and difficulty of “flight” again. Even though I’m not one of the Wright Brothers, I still experienced firsthand that the pursuit of flight technology was just a thin line away from falling to one’s death. Moreover, they flew on their own, bearing all the risks by themselves, so it wasn’t that bad.
But Chief Engineer Adelaide von Schugel didn’t fly on his own, but ask others to do so in his stead. He was even capricious enough to say things like “safety mechanisms dull engineering aesthetics.” I simply couldn’t believe my own ears when I heard that.
The moment when the experiment could finally continue normally, he would add in experiment itineraries and side projects that didn’t make any sense, forcing me to submit a unit transfer request at the time. Unfortunately, my request was revoked. But why? The answer was extremely unreasonable: “Because you are the only one who could conduct the experiment normally.” Not only that, the HR officer in charge even told me that I have to step over my predecessor’s corpse and move forward.
At first I thought he meant that by metaphorically, but it seems that he meant it by literally. Even fighting at the frontlines has a higher survival rate than this assignment. ...A few days ago, I was notified that I met the requirement to apply for a Purple Heart decoration.
[Isn’t this because of your lack of concentration! And you still dare to call yourself a soldier?!]
I endured the insults and abuse from Chief Engineer Adelaide von Schugel while suppressing the tempting urge of swearing back. I didn’t ask for this in the first place, and this is definitely not an enjoyable job but I’m still hundred percent a soldier.
[I have no doubts on being a proud soldier of the Empire! But the responsibility of a soldier is to operate weapons. There is no way my job requires me to be at the whims of flawed machinery!]
The actual problem was that Tanya believed the job of an Imperial soldier was simply to fight in battle with a rifle and an Operation Orb in each hand. No matter how it was twisted, this didn’t entail carrying a defective weapon that might explode at any time. A soldier who was issued with a broken rifle or a malfunctioning Operation Orb would have the right to complain. At least this was how things was supposed to work in the Empire.
Moreover, in harsh modern warfare, the most important quality for mage’s equipment is reliability and durability. This was a common knowledge even for the new recruits. Not only for mages, all military equipment was supposed to have reliability and durability as the first priority. Frankly speaking, equipment that focused on one-time usage was not suitable for war at all.
This logic was the same as racing car which focused purely on racing performance but wasn’t built to endure the wear and tear from continued usage. Weapons that weren’t rugged enough to withstand rough handling by soldiers were meaningless in a battlefield.
[What? You are saying it’s a defective machine again!?]
Of course, the military did know the necessity of technical validation. In order to flaunt their technical expertise for political propaganda, they would create equipment which focused on one single aspect in order to break standing records from time to time. Fashioning equipment to achieve world records was a different matter. However, the prototype orb issued to Tanya was considered as “the main candidate for the next generation,” something to be used by the masses.
This maniac, is he even capable of developing normal weapons? He is obviously immersed in his own world. Tanya doubted the common sense of the Chief Engineer and why the Inspector General of Logistics Office approve the development of this thing.
This world was really filled with inconceivable things.
[How is an Operation Orb that suddenly malfunctions at this altitude normal?!]
It was the same for aircraft. A plane with an engine that stops functioning all of a sudden were called killing machines. If the defects were horrendous, it might even be awarded the honour of the title [Widow Maker]. Compared with these, the problem of this prototype was worse. After all, just using it normally was a miracle.
Not only did it lose control and break down immediately, the power output lacked stability with no reliability to speak of. I had a strong feeling this was not a problem of it being a weapon or not.
[It’s because you fools break it so lightly! Why do you people so easily keep breaking my precision machinery?!]
[It is because the structure you designed is too fragile. Do you really understand the meaning of mil-spec?]
This maniac did not comprehend the meaning of military usage at all. Although in terms of design, he did fulfill all the specifications that the military requested for the prototype .
Even if it was just experimental numbers under certain constraints, it had the potential of surpassing the current Mage altitude limit to engaging bomber planes, dramatically increasing the strategic value of mages. In theory, burst firepower could increase by four-fold. Undoubtedly, this would increase the existing mage’s firepower tremendously.
But that was only possible if this prototype could function properly. This was common sense, but frankly speaking, an Operation Orb that required artistic or laboratory-level maintenance was useless. I really felt like asking him, was he trying to create a purebred horse that only needed to unleash its maximum performance for a short burst during a race ?
In the first place, the Operation Orb is a precision machine that only requires simple monthly maintenance. In comparison, this prototype requires the entire technician team to conduct maintenance after each use. Not only that, this was done by the Department of Logistics—with the best logistical support equipment and staffed by technical experts... I’m guessing he forgot the word [maintainability].
This far exceeds the maintenance standards at the front. This might be the right way to approach it for the sake of technical validation since there were only a few prototypes, but one couldn’t help but wonder if the problem of operating it under normal circumstances could ever be solved.
[Why can’t you understand how revolutionary this quad-core synchronization is?]
[I admit it is revolutionary...but I have also told you countless time that I hope you can produce something that can be used normally.]
[It works in theory! I’m the one who should ask, why can’t you make it work properly?!]
He might be the chief engineer in charge of developing new technologies, but the way he acts is more a scholar and thus, he was able say these troubling words with a straight face.
Based on Tanya’s Human Resource Theory (tainted by her biases), if she had to work alongside a scientist in the future, there is only one point she needs to pay special attention to.
And that was—whether or not he was a lunatic. Before discussing about his management capacity, you only need to note if it was possible to communicate with them during work.
By the way, people often say that there was only a thin line between madness and genius, but for Tanya, the method of differentiating them was simple. After a conversation, if you couldn’t resist to emptying your entire magazine into him, then he’s a madman, but if you are able to have a conversation with him normally next time, then he’s a genius.
[Professor Schugel! All I expected is an Operation Orb that can be used practically!]
[That’s the objective of this experiment! Don’t you even know the cycle of PDCA!]
...If I could use the backup orb in my hand and smash him, it would feel so good—No, people who can’t help having such thoughts were psychopaths. If not for my rationality reminding me that I shouldn’t do that, I’m sure this pair of hands would be tainted red.
Needless to say, Tanya was familiar with the PDCA cycle. The “Plan, Do, Check, Act” cycle process was well known. Tanya didn’t have any comments about it.
In fact, she agreed strongly with the implementation of this process. And because of this, all she wanted to say was, “Please be more serious in checking finished product.”
From the user-perspective, this was not a simple defect that could be fixed with a few adjustments. There were way too many severe errors, problems and flaws. If not for her confidentiality obligations and the safety mechanism embedded, she would have thrown this away long ago.
Not only that, even the safety mechanism couldn’t safeguard everything. It worked fine and prevents the worst situation from happening, but it couldn’t completely prevent mana from going out of control. One couldn’t help but keep the worst scenario in mind all the time—which was the electric circuit blowing out and the orb becoming a useless piece of junk.
In the very worst case scenario, if the explosion shrapnel hits and ignites the oxygen tank, it would be an extremely unpleasant situation. Based on previous incidents, the higher ups have issued a specially-made parachute with reinforced and improved structure, made from anti-knife and anti-fire fibres—but even with these, it was not a hundred percent safe.
If the testing personnel were to lose consciousness, one would still worry about the parachute deploying automatically. Moreover, regardless of the scale of the explosion, if one was unlucky enough to have the rope wrapped around their neck, there’s a high chance that they might suffocate to death before plummeting to the ground. That was a huge concern too.
Mankind have already learned through experience that the world acts in accordance to Murphy’s Law②: anything that can go wrong, will. An employee that might misbehave will certainly create trouble one day. For example, it was common sense for Human Resources management to not let bankrupt employee take on jobs involving money. The same applied here as well. Using a orb that might explode anytime was the same as waiting for it to explode in the air.
After landing, it was time to submit a transfer request seriously—Tanya nodded her head strongly to express her determination. She swore in her heart that in the worst situation, even if it left a bad impression on her superiors, she would be determined to fight to the end with Human Resources.
If this went on, it wouldn’t matter how many lives she had. In this hopeless environment, her position as a member of the training unit was her only hope. Although she did use this as an excuse, begging to be involved officially with the trainer team, it was not enough. She couldn’t simply rely on probing lightly anymore. If there wasn’t an official request to transfer units, there was a very high chance she would become a sacrificial lamb in the lunatic’s experiment. It was best to submit the request as soon as possible.
That was it. After she completed her outstanding tasks after landing, she started writing immediately.
Imperial Military Inspector General of Logistics Office, Technological Research Branch
[Request to change assignment] as per official guidelines. That bloodcurdling thought was being reflected on because of the notification about changing assignments from Mage Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff. As a strict bureaucratic organization, when the official request for a change of assignment came, the administration branch of the technical department needed to process her request dutifully.
The group came to a consensus that the request for an assignment change was not made on a whim. At any rate, if they included the unofficial requests for a change of assignment, this would have been the fourth time.
So far, it was a relief that the informal hearings were not submitted together with official documents. However, the number of times were piling up, and it was becoming a very pressing matter. It was just a matter of time, wasn’t it? Inevitably, the official request came. When Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff’s official Assignment Change Request papers reached the technical department’s management, they all grabbed their heads troublingly.
[So, what to do? For the time being, all official documents are here. Should we accept her request?]
They already persuaded her to stay three times, but she had reached the limits of her patience and submitted her assignment change request officially.
From the perspective of personnel management, they had breathing room to spare on the northern frontlines. Taking into account political and international relations, now was the best time to give young soldiers postings that would allow them stay at the backlines, since it was frowned upon to do otherwise.
That’s why for the Inspector General’s Office, the posting for Second Lieutenant Degurechaff wouldn’t be too difficult. However, even if the unit she would be posted to didn’t mind, they were reluctant to let this talent go.
[Impossible. She is the only one who can just barely meet Schugel’s standards.]
Instead of any outstanding capability, it would be closer to the truth to describe the genius of Chief Engineer Schugel as his only redeeming point. The development of the next generation Orb involved data collection at the basic level with the goal of researching advanced technologies. Even conservatively speaking, the standards demanded by the Logistics Command of the Inspector General’s Office were very ambitious. Even though he only did so on paper, he met all the basic requirements they wanted for the Type 95.
[That is true. The research finally showed signs of bearing fruit...we should take that into account as well, no?]
Even in the Empire, the leader in magic technology and scientific research, he was a pioneer in his field. Although magic was gaining traction in being recognized as a field of science, there was still vague elements and large numbers of errors during usage. His contribution in stabilizing the technology and pushing its development in the right direction and improving it was tremendous.
Just taking the research element into consideration, the data and theoretical insight due to the Type 95 was huge progress—that was just the evaluation from the research standpoint. For the research committee, it would be enough if the experiments brought about revolutionary advancement, but for the Logistical Command of the Inspector General’s Office, what they needed were tools that could withstand the rugged military operations, so they had to judge these issues while taking the whole scenario into account.
However, that was only from the research evaluation. Maybe, for a research institute, the fact that it was a groundbreaking technology was more than enough. But for the military, matters of logistics, meaning the capability to be used in the field reliably, was indispensable and a comprehensive judgement was required.
[Conversely, it would be regrettable if we lose someone who can somehow manage to use the Type 95 Orb.]
[We have to think about this for the long term. We don’t have any excellent testing personnel to replace her.]
The higher authorities in attendance were relaying their concerns of a valuable and talented mage being wasted unnecessarily. There was the issue of maintaining constant technological progress to keep up competition with other nations. For that end, sacrificing lives for the sake of technological advances were rare, but not zero.
The intense development of weapons due to national defence concerns resulted in accidents happening in units that were understaffed. The list of people who died while on duty was anything but short.
[I agree with you. Thinking about it long term, the retention and nurturing of mages is an issue the Empire should be worried about.]
[Also, if I have to say… Shouldn’t we consider the issue of her age? She might be extremely talented, but she is still a young girl. It’s too cruel for her to be relegated to Engineer Schugel’s plaything.]
For the Empire, the expanding number of sailors and aerial mages were unit types that needed a lot of training hours to improve the quality of each soldier. This played an important factor in their mind too. Operation Orbs and ships could be mass-produced, but competent and experienced core personnel could not be nurtured as easily.
On this point, Tanya was not only the youngest of those with combat experience, she was also a mage who had graduated from Officer Cadet School, a precious existence. It would be a pity if she was wasted just like that. On top of that, there was also the troublesome political consideration that Elinium Factory wasn’t the only place that was gunning for the seat of “developer of the Empire’s next generation Operation Orb.” If the Silver Wings Assault Medal recipient was to die in the line of duty, it would start a political storm. Everyone present could only pray that this wouldn’t happen.
Most importantly, in the eyes of anyone with a shred of conscience, Second Lieutenant Degurechaff was simply too young. Even if they were reluctant to look overly conscientious, it was a fact that her ability would rise further with time. Her performance so far made it clear she had boundless potential in her military career. If they were considering about whether to sacrifice her in the first place, she wasn’t a person that should be wasted in such a way.
The higher echelons of the military agreed to her posting here, but at the same time, assigned her under the Training Department. Their message was obvious, “You can do whatever you want to her, but return her in one piece (alive).”
[Losing the Type 95 Orb would be a pity too, that’s why we are so troubled!]
One of the participants said with his head in his arms, exasperating the dilemma they were in.
[Frankly speaking, the experiment also yielded results. The technological advancement was by no means small for the Empire.]
However, the participants’ comments have also indicated that they are in distress.
The expected returns from the experiment was enticing enough for one of the higher ups to approve a certain level of risk. That was why they devoted endless budget into the development of the Type 95. And now, they were finally able to see a glimmer of hope for the huge investments they had made.
The Empire had the advantage of technology in terms of their military strength. One of the main pillars supporting this advantage was the revolutionary advances in magic technology. This experiment had the potential of pushing that technology even further. Wasn’t this great reward worth the development funds? Just the proving of concept for the Orb Core Synchronizing technology was enough to dramatically improve the capabilities of mages.
[I acknowledge the significance of the four-core synchronization technology—but we still haven’t figured out how to implement it for practical usage, right?!]
And of course, the opposition also admitted what this technology represented. They readily praised the revolutionary technology, and didn’t object to the scientific study of magic with the full support of the Empire. The policy of developing this technology did produce great benefits. But to them, the development of the Type 95 included some parts they felt were not worth the cost.
After all, according to the feedback of the user, theoretical issues aside, there were too many problems in practical application. Apart from that, the Type 95 included advanced and revolutionary designs that weren't just “next generation,” but two or three generations ahead. It made them doubt if practical implementation was even possible in this era. That was the reason they had been repeatedly going about this circular argument.
The thing that stopped this debate was their observation of a single report.
[Have you all read the technical report? Second Lieutenant Degurechaff analyzed it very clearly. According to this, practical usage is impossible no matter how much mana you have.]
The Type 95 experiment report showed adept analytical ability, giving the reader the steady feeling that the author wrote it as a veteran in this academic field. Some of the people within the department were surprised by this, thinking that this wasn’t content that a ten-year old could write. A few even suspected that the report wasn’t written by her at all.
On one part, there were many doubts about whether she really did write this herself, but she was cleared of suspicion.
Despite that, the technical report was rigorous and well thought out. According to investigation, this report was written by Tanya herself. Too young to attend youth school (equivalent to middle school) as she was only ten years old, Tanya already had enough mana to meet the standard as a mage. From the talent and mana pool she had, her future was bright. But even this excellent mage officer who bloomed early couldn’t use this prototype reliably or steadily.
[Casting multiple spells, an increase in range and power... These are all excellent improvements, but if the operation time is dropped to a fatal level, there’s no point in using it.]
Even though the goal was a proof of concept, if the consumption rate rendered normal combat functions unsustainable, the quad core system would just be a flawed design. It might enhance firepower momentarily but in exchange for drastically shortening its operation time, unacceptable.
On a certain level, a constructive evaluation system might work here. For example, investigating the flaws of the advanced technology was also an important responsibility for the proof of concept. However, if the reason behind the rapid mana depletion rate was due to its basic structure, it wouldn’t help at all.
[Our objective from the very start was to confirm the viability of the theory and improve our technology. This is still within acceptable margins.]
On the other hand, the faction that proposed the research be continued agreed that combat sustainability was a flaw. In their eyes, this wasn’t an issue since the main objective was to show simply proof of concept. At the very least, the concept had no problems. This was the view of the technology faction that wasn’t particularly concerned about the limitations of practical applications.
The technological race between the Great Powers had reached harsh levels. From their point of view, it was natural to wish that the potential of the Type 95 would ensure their Fatherland’s technological advantage. Falling behind in the technological race presented an enormous threat, while gaining an advantage would ensure overwhelming returns. That was the reason they were hoping so earnestly for their improvement in technology by leaps and bounds. With this being a possibility, they could accept the costs of the entire Type 95 project.
[Regardless of how much potential it holds, the military doesn’t have the budget to splurge.]
However, this was just the opinion of the research personnel and their backers, the military that will exploit all sorts of weapons sees it differently. A normal Orb already cost as much as a primary weapon. This one-time-usage custom Orb that might break down anytime had already pushed development costs far beyond its allocated budget.
It was consuming an unbelievable amount of money, thus hesitation with putting in yet more funds was growing stronger.
This made them even more hesitant about increasing the budget after they had already sunk an unbelievable amount of money in. The return of investment would probably be better if they used the budget elsewhere. Such an opinion made sense. The Empire was strong, and while the budget for the military might be plentiful, it wasn’t unlimited. Since it was limited, they would need to always strive for efficiency.
[Even so, there is still a chance of realizing the goal of stabilizing mana in its physical form. Isn’t that more than enough reason to continue the experiment?]
[Are you suggesting that we pursue the path of alchemy? We can’t keep wasting our limited budget and manpower.]
Also, the opinion of both sides remained parallel on this point— Whether stabilizing mana in its physical form was possible. The logical flow was obvious. Since the mana consumption of the Orb was intense, sustaining combat prowess during battle would be difficult. Engineering Director Adelaide von Schugel also knew this.
As for the countermeasures for this problem, his conclusion was to store mana like electricity in batteries to solve the problems. The conversion of mana to another form in order to store it was something many people wanted to achieve, only to give up after making no progress.
By optimizing the usage of mana with an Operation Orb, one could interfere with reality with their will. This interference then manifested itself in the physical world. This was the basic principle of spells used by mages.
Of course, this phenomenon was temporary. Assuming someone willed for an explosion to happen, it would appear in the physical world. As it was a temporary phenomenon, the mana would disperse after the explosion was over, and couldn’t be turned inert. In that case, there only need to be the “will” to turn the phenomenon inert in the physical world.
Such a concept had already been researched right after the practical implementation of the Operation Orb. However, the idea of turning mana inert through the usage of mana had been tried countless times, merely increasing the number of failed attempts.
Research done optimistically in working toward practical implementation already resulted in a mountain of unsuccessful tries. All the Great Powers who invested seriously into this had already given up.
Interfering with the will interfering with the world in order to create a permanent object in the physical world. This sounded easy, but it was akin to twisting the law of physics permanently. This was venturing into the realm of ancient alchemy.
That was how unrealistic this technology was. At least in the eyes of soldiers who were first of all, pragmatists. From their viewpoint, exaggerating new technologies only made them skeptical—and this was already seen as an outdated theory.
It was so well known that the soldiers involved in the development and even everyone working in a magic-related industry knew about it. In a way, it was a dream just like alchemy, a theory that was only possible in the far future.
It required a huge amount of mana to interfere with the laws of nature for long periods of time. A dual-core system is the minimum requirement in order to allow for instantaneous injection of the necessary amount of mana . Similarly, the stabilization process would require another same number of cores. As such, at least four cores were needed to be synchronized and it further required precise control in order to handle the different processes simultaneously. Hence, up until now it has only ever been a theory yet to be put to practice.
[Four-core synchronization has already been achieved, so we can’t deny the possibility.]
[With the condition it is in, there is no way we can hope for a perfect synchronization. Even the only one who can use it properly, Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff, is operating at far below “standard” proficiency.]
That was why the “continued development” faction and “halt research” faction couldn’t come to a consensus despite observing the same results. The former saw hope while the latter saw futility. Both factions were logical in their own right. Truthfully speaking, the Orb that would cause accidents lacked credibility. Of course, no prototype weapon was perfect from the get-go, so this was within everyone’s expectation.
However, no other weapon had such a history of consecutive serious accidents. According to reports, Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff was able to survive each time by a hair’s breadth, which revealed just how intense those incidents were. And after conducting all those experiments, the result was an Orb that was barely operational.
But this much alone was already enough to demonstrate the amount of progress that have been made when compared to the past. Therefore, when the soldiers expressed their concern about how wasteful the experiments were, the mid-level human resources officer raised a point from a different perspective.
[By the way, why her?]
This was just an innocent question. On the other hand, it was an intriguing point. Judging from her history, Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff wasn’t a bad choice, but there were hordes of soldiers that outshined her. But amongst all of them, why could she operate the Orb more successfully than everyone else? By finding out the secret behind her success, they should be able to find the answer to their doubts. Once they realized this, they agreed that there was value in exploring the question in depth.
[No, you have it backwards. We should think about why did she succeed?]
[What is the reason behind her selection? Who chose her?]
After all these discussions, the Inspector General of Logistics who was chairing the meeting asked the most basic question. He knew that the Manpower Branch serving under the Inspector General of the Logistics Office approved of this posting, but that was only possible if someone submitted a request to the Manpower Branch. In that case, the request document will record the reason for her selection.
When they were asked by their senior officer, the young admin officers flipped through the documents to find the document detailing the original personnel request form. They missed out on this point so far, but all the answers were written on it.
[Engineering Director Schugel was the one who chose her. He mentioned that she is the one most likely to use the Orb successfully.]
[How did he know that?]
Learning from the tragic failure of the former test personnel, he must have some basis for as to why he requested for the service of Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff. Why did he headhunt for such a talent from the frontlines? Was it because of her trait, skill, or some other reason? How intriguing.
But in reality, Engineering Director Schugel wrote down a simple reason on his request form.
[...It says, if she had not gotten use to the current model, she would not use the prototype recklessly in the same manner.]
In a way, this was the common trait of researching Orbs. His rationale was spot on. The quad core structure was completely different than normal Orbs. Hence, it would be difficult to channel mana by using the old ways.
Children are more flexible in their thinking; just by telling them “even if the mana flow feels wrong, don’t go against it,” they will be able to grasp the gist of it. If it was a child who matured early like Tanya, it was more likely for her to embrace this feeling, understand the operational principle and learn to operate this new technology. It was a splendid and logical insight.
Everyone understood this point… and because they understand, everyone of them groaned. This was a sound of finding out something unpleasant.
[...Hey, isn’t a mage who is skilled but unfamiliar with the old model Operational Orbs very hard to come by?]
That’s obvious. Even if you search through all available personnel in the Imperial army, it would be difficult to find a suitable candidate that could fulfil these conditions. Naturally, the minimum condition of a next generation weapon was that majority of the mages must be able to use it proficiently. If full operational capability wasn’t possible, there would be no point in developing it.
Judging from the results, the request form was very meaningful. It was telling of how high the hurdle was in order to use the Type 95. It could be predicted that the next generation model could not be used unless they retrain all serving mages and build a new training system from scratch. The difficulty in usage was higher than the old Orb, so there would be a need to reevaluate the training course for new recruits.
Even if all these could be realized, just considering the efficiency, reliability and cost, it would make anyone hesitant on mass-producing it. With the super-advanced skills needed to operate it normally, it would not be surprising if accidents occur at any time.
[Our budget is limited. It is too difficult to utilize properly.]
[We have already obtained new technology in terms of the safety function for Operation Orbs. It’s probably time to wrap things up?]
In conclusion, it would be more appropriate to halt development. At the very least, scale down the development scale. The atmosphere in the conference room leaned towards this proposal, and not without reason.
No matter how enticing this technology was, if it couldn’t be implemented in the near future, the military would have to give it up. For the Imperial army, budget and manpower wasn’t something they could splurge.
[Increasing firepower sounds tempting, but if quad core couldn’t work, how about using dual core?]
[That is true. Wouldn’t synchronization be easier for dual core?]
[The difficulty in controls would be lower.]
Compared to quad core synchronization, dual core was much simpler. Ironically, the one who answered this question was from the research department that supported continued development. It was true that compared to quad core, dual core would be much easier.
[Even so, “the structure was still too complicated, inefficiency couldn’t be prevented.” That is the findings of the research department.]
In the end, the process of synchronization was a new function that was difficult to understand. They didn’t have much hope on improvements in efficiency.
[In that case, it would be easier to just hold two Operation Orbs.]
[There would be no point in further debate if the combat efficiency is too low. Seems that synchronization technology is still too early for us.]
The meeting ended with this concluding statement.
The realm beyond the perception of senses
[Everyone, this is serious.]
In a corner of the realm of the gods, the [existences] there were honestly troubled. This wasn’t just what they were thinking honestly, but stemmed from their goodwill as well.
[As everyone knows, the number of humans with faith is decreasing rapidly.]
[It is too difficult to develop a civilization while maintaining religious devotion.]
Be it leading man to a higher plane of existence or staying true to the basic policy of nonintervention, the “circle of rebirth” system was reaching its limits.
The more the world develops and the people become happy, the further the erosion of faith. There were no nightmares worse than that for the system.
[What about the test conducted earlier?]
[It is less effective than expected. Even after they acknowledged supernatural phenomenon, there was no further reaction.]
The archangel with extremist view believed that they should trigger supernatural phenomenon to stir the faith of the people. They tried mimicking the event of Moses and displayed supernatural phenomenon, but the results were disappointing. It would be explained by science one day.
The reaction of the people to supernatural phenomenon was that it could not be understood as of now. Since they couldn’t understand it, it merely became the subject of their research.
[It’s not going well after all.]
[But why? In the past, we just need to talk to them, and they will understand that we are gods.]
[They even proactively called out for us.]
That’s right. During the era when faith was deep, they could communicate easily by conversing with them. Not only that, some even took the initiative to seek the presence of the gods. But that was rare nowadays. Voices seeking redemption came up just as seldom.
Why was that? They couldn’t understand no matter how hard they thought; it was important to investigate the successful cases as well. That was a rational approach. And so, they took action with sublime ideas and sense of duty, researching all the examples from mythology to the modern age. For them, the age of mythology was just a past memory. If they wished to investigate them one by one, it was possible to complete such a task.
[...The answer lies in the grace of the gods right?]
From the conclusion, this was a practical answer.
[What do you mean?]
[In the past, before men developed their civilization, we intervened and protected them when they suffered disaster they couldn’t avert themselves.]
For modern nations, a storm was no longer a threat. Typhoons couldn’t destroy a country anymore; it couldn’t even crack the beams of a building. For most nations, storms and floods would only disable the functionalities of a city.
In contrast to the past, entire farmlands would be devastated from a storm, people washed away by the flood and families broken because of catastrophes. That was why the gods restrained themselves, and didn’t intervene if the people didn’t will for it. And thus they were forgotten by men.
Prompting men to be independent was to let them grow, which was an important element in order for them to move on to a higher plane of thought. That was why no one expected that it would also lead to men losing faith.
The people from ancient times would praise the grace of gods, and the empire of Rome was devoted to the gods. After the fall of Rome, the church controlled the entire middle ages in the name of God. However, the lords advocated the divine right of kings, eroding the powers of the church gradually. Then, scientists no longer sought religious devotion, instead seeking for the truth of the world created by gods. As a result, this made men lose their religious faith over time.
[That’s right, as civilization is developing at a good pace, we decided that intervening would stunt their growth, that’s why we left them be.]
[But on the other hand, isn’t that the main reason why it is hard for them to acknowledge us?]
From their perspective, they have no intention of hindering the growth of mankind. In fact, this was the result they were hoping for in their initial plan.
To seek the truth behind the workings of the gods. The natural sciences which stemmed from such thoughts was very much welcomed and not detested. They evolved from celebrating the idea of not thinking for themselves, into the worship of understanding the foundation of our very nature. Following this logic, the people will reach a higher level of philosophy. The gods think this was a memorable first step.
However, the plan backfired and led to serious problems. And it was unstoppable. After all, there were too many worlds that had been cultivated with such a standard model.
[Ughhh, if that was the case, it would be very difficult.]
The group fell into deep thought. If they couldn’t solve the problem with simple amendments, the issue would take a lot of effort to settle. That would be very troublesome. And it could be foreseen that the longer they leave the problem alone, the worse it would get.
At this moment, the angel of wisdom did not let down the expectations placed on him, and outlined a proposal he had after considering the issue carefully. First, he postulated that there wasn’t any problem with their policy. Basically, if they could come up with a system to make up for the loss in faith, all would be well.
[And so, we have to make a minute adjustment after all, in order to stir the faith of the people.]
This proposal was accepted almost unanimously. However, they had already exhausted all the methods they could think of.
[I understand the direction you are proposing. But what should we do specifically?
[I am not very confident about this, but how about bestowing a new holy relic to the world③?]
[Hmm? What do you mean?]
Talking about holy relics, the ones already bestowed to the world were as plentiful as the stars. Although the distribution was uneven because of the country and geography, the number was more than enough. In terms of raising faith, this method wasn’t very successful. It was treasured by the people because of its historical significance at the very most.
[The bestowed holy relic is treasured and carefully preserved, fulfilling its role in letting the masses know about the grace of the gods.]
However, they didn’t know the actual status of the divine relics. They lived for too long after all. They still have the memories of the time they bestowed the holy relics to men, but they didn’t pay attention to later developments. They only discovered that the divine relic had been relegated to decorations after investigations.
[I see, that’s why they have forgotten about faith and prayers. How ironic…]
They were no longer an essential existence. That was all there was to it, but they couldn’t help feeling emotional about it. However they didn’t plan to force the people to accept religion one-sidedly.
But if they don’t do so, it was inevitable that the system will yield depressing results. To let people seek to understand faith spontaneously, shouldn’t they bestow divine relics periodically in necessary places?
They agreed that this opinion was worth a try.
[In that case, let’s teach them words of prayer, and bestow a divine relic they need onto the world.]
[A splendid idea. Let’s do it.]
[I just happen to have something suitable.]
And so, the details were decided rather quickly. Even in the eyes of these gods with their slow and easy-going nature, the problems that appeared were rather serious. And so they took the entire discussion seriously, and did not slip up in a fashion that was unique to the gods of mythology, scrutinizing the process faithfully.
[Someone in the mortal world is researching a product that is just a step from the realm of the gods—which they should be able to realize about one thousand years in the future.]
[Oh, an outlier. Can we contact this human?]
It was rare, but during many past instances in various world, there were humans who reached a realm very close to the gods through their research of natural sciences. Such cases were rare and exceptional, but there was still precedence. In the current circumstances, everyone felt that this was the best way.
[He should realize by now that he has ways to go. If we show him the works of the gods, he would be quite grateful.]
[Should we bestow the holy relic right there?]
[No, a miracle is what we need to bestow.]
♦ ♦ ♦
In this world, good news always seemed to be bundled with bad news. Second Lieutenant Mage Tanya Degurechaff agreed with this wholeheartedly.
It was just an internal notice for now, but the higher ups were cutting off the budget. That was probably a hint that the development of the Type 95 would be terminated. At the same time, the Human Resources Department had news for her to focus on conducting training, which was just fine with her.
The halt in the development of the flawed Orb and her return to the training unit was joyous news. The only problem was that this was just an internal memo, and wasn’t set in stone yet.
The decision would probably be upheld though. This was wonderful news since she didn’t need to risk her life any longer.
But the bad news was that madman changed his attitude suddenly when the development couldn’t proceed any further, and his experiments were halted because it was too dangerous. It would be great if he were to lose face and become docile. However, this hope was shattered and that lunatic seemed to have the ability to receive radio waves from god knows where.
One day, he suddenly shouted that divine inspiration struck and that “it will definitely work now!.” However, that lunatic actually judged that the risk of this experiment was too high back when he was sane. If he forcefully conducted it while his mental strain was at his limits, the results would probably not be pretty.
And worst of all, with the project on the verge of being terminated, the other researchers began to waver. Wanting to see their efforts bear fruit—such a mindset of the researchers resulted in them making hallowed resistance. It was easy for that lunatic to brush the dissidents aside in such a situation.
And so, despite surviving so long, Tanya couldn’t stop them from conducting an experiment that was akin to playing catch with a bomb, which would make any sane scientist frown.
In name, the experiment is to evoke a permanent physical phenomenon by multiple interference in the coordinates where the mana materializes—known to laymen as stabilizing mana in its physical form, a whimsical and delusional idea.
The ultimate goal of the Type 95 development was to conduct such an experiment successfully. It was just that the probability of success was so low that it made others dubious. No matter how you looked at it, it would end in failure. The theory appeared logical and was well known, even Tanya had heard about it before.
Because of the delicate internal structure of the Type 95, it was fragile and difficult to maintain and operate reliably. To overcome this problem, mana was needed to make the world acknowledge its existence and solidify its structure through stabilizing mana conversation in its physical form to reinforce its operation.
And theoretically, the Type 95 could realize this by synchronizing the quad core system and lay the foundation for this technology. Even if it was doomed to fail, there was a need to challenge the technological finale of the Type 95. There was great significance just in confirming the foundation of this technology.
When she heard this explanation, she felt the conversation was similar to the officers fighting over budget allocation. The presentation was elegant and noble, but she was certain that this experiment stemmed from the curiosity of that madman. Going about his hollowed speech, with no plans to stop the experiment even if the practical problems were pointed out.
If he was allowed to strongarm his way through, the experiment would definitely conducted on the faulty premise that he would be extremely lucky during the test.
[Lieutenant, are you ready?]
And of course, he must understand how dangerous this experiment was. Since he knew, how could he show such a jubilant expression? This made others question the mental stability of Engineering Director Adelaide von Schugel. I really wish he could see the situation around him.
At a glance, the surroundings were completely barren, the place was vast enough to conduct live ammunition exercise. When she tried to search for man-made structures, the only things Tanya could find was the measuring apparatus and the professor. The rest of the development team members who were well aware of the danger and kept a large distance away, staying in the observation lab and watched through the observation equipment. No one was willing to walk through the proper procedures in checking for errors on the ground.
In conclusion, all personnel involved kept far, far away with the assumption that there would be a huge explosion.
[Professor, can’t you stop the experiment? According to calculations, the worst case scenario would be the entire testing area being blown away along with us.]
And that was why Tanya was still persistent about halting the experiment at this late stage. The only one who had complete faith in Tanya achieving perfect control was Engineering Director Adelaide von Schugel. Having gotten used to this, the thoughtful development team members arranged the medical team to be on standby in full gear.
They even asked specifically for a veteran medical team and requisitioned for a fully equipped field hospital.
[Scientific progress is always accompanied with sacrifices. Of course, it’s not just you. I will be right here too. Are there any other questions?]
Everyone was very worried about this experiment; only Engineering Director Adelaide von Schugel was cheerful as usual and brimming with confidence.
It would feel so good if I can punch that smiling face of his.
[Pardon me for being blunt, but I hope you can project your high ideals in another way.]
Dying from an explosion of your own invention might be exactly what you want. In a way, you are getting what you deserve. But the problem is, why am I the one who has to accompany this suicidal lunatic? In a way, I am being forced to kill myself. Tanya expressed her true feelings by politely mincing her words and stating it in a roundabout way.
[...? As a scientist, I have to stay true to my research. Stop the chatter and begin.]
However, Tanya was helpless against lunatics with high ideals. If you want to die, just die on your own. Try not to trouble others around you. If you can’t, then at the very least don’t trouble me.
[I am a soldier, not a scientist.]
Also, Tanya was a professional soldier, no matter what, committing suicide together with a scientist was not part of her job description.
[I will order you then. Cut the crap and get on with it.]
In response to her protest, the scientist hit the bullseye in a way. Since she was a soldier, then she had to obey the orders coming from her chain of command. It was frustrating, but that’s the way it was.
[...Beginning supplying mana to the Type 95.]
Having no other choice, Tanya could only lament her misfortune as she started her work at hand, slowly, carefully injecting mana into the Type 95.
[Observation team acknowledging. Stay safe.]
Even such simple words of courtesy sounded ominous. She showed a pained expression and endured the terror of being blown up at any moment. To be frank, she felt her life was in greater danger than what she experienced in her previous job.
Be it the mage’s tough protection barrier or protection membrane that guards against direct attacks, they were all phenomenon created through an Orb. Whenever Tanya thought about how she had to take the explosion with her body if the Orb explodes, she couldn’t help but worry.
Before such a brutal and uneasy situation, an indescribable twisted expression appears on her face. When he saw her making such a face, Engineering Director Adelaide von Schugel even smiled. For Tanya, this was the face time she saw the professor smiling in a way that defused the tension and calmed her.
His expression seemed to be telling her not to worry.
[It’s fine, you don’t need to worry. This is guaranteed to work.]
Her doubt morphed into an alarm bell in Tanya’s mind when she saw his eyes that was as clear as an evil cultist… It was warning her not to get involved with such a person.
[...Professor, why are you so confident?]
Tanya won’t be surprised if this lunatic was wrong in the head, but the problem was in this situation. This was a danger she couldn’t ignore, and it would affect her too.
[It’s nothing, this is actually very simple.]
The professor opened his arms in an exaggerated way, looking as if he wanted to preach the truth about the world. Just this was enough to give Tanya the chills. Filled with confidence and making speeches as if one understood the principles behind reality? That was a symptom of a fanatic. The kind obsessed with a dangerous cult.
[...What do you mean?]
When handling a fanatic, a dangerous move would be to express your agreement or disagreement with an issue. She learnt that from her years in human resources management. When an employee tendered their resignation because of influences from a dubious cult, she needed to maintain the attitude of “no comment.” Keep a large distance, and try to minimize misunderstandings when conversing.
That was why Tanya could only use a calm tone to stall for time through dialogue.
[I am the engineering director. Lieutenant, you are the main test pilot. This means that if we put aside our differences and work together, all our problems could be solved easily.]
That’s how evil cults were. Most of them start conversations with a normal tone and a face as if they understood everything, and spoke about things that sounded very reasonable on the surface.
[I received a divine inspiration some days ago.]
Ah, as expected. So that’s what it was? She thought it was just a metaphor in the beginning. The ominous feeling made her logical mind scream in disgust. She had an extremely bad feeling about this.
[That’s right. If we pray to god, the ones with faith with receive salvation.]
She was prepared for this, but she couldn’t help groaning. When she came to her senses, she sighed deeply. Pray…to god…for success? Did…a scientist just say that? When she thought this far, she realized this was impossible. Has he lost his mind while working on this project? That was really possible.
When she understood this, Tanya concluded that continuing the experiment would be too dangerous even if this was a military natured order. After judging so, she lowered the mana supply and activated the safety feature that would prevent the Orb from going out of control.
[The most important thing isn’t pride, but humility.]
However, the safety function didn’t function as it should. She kept her cool on the outside, but Tanya couldn’t help feeling surprised, and reevaluated the Orb in her hand once again. It was the one she used in all sorts of experiment, the one she had grown familiar with. Inspecting the exterior, she could see several emergency safety devices attached to it… The device failed to launch? Which meant the feature was disabled… He actually took such unnecessary measures.
The only one who could do this was the director who was smiling calmly before her. This guy was serious. His demeanour always seemed a little crazy, that was why Tanya didn’t notice.
[This is a good chance. Let us pray to the gods for our success.]
[Professor, aren’t you an atheist?]
[The God of Invention has descended to my side. Right now, I am a devout believer.]
Oh no. There was no way to salvage the situation.
Just like its creator, the Type 95 started going out of control. Tanya tried to control it with her mana, but it wasn’t responding. The circuitry was abnormal too.
If this went on, the mana will run amok. And the safety device wasn’t functioning anymore.
If she manually expel the mana, the entire balance would collapse and the structure would be doomed to fall apart. Hence, she continued injecting mana even though she knew it was dangerous; however, continuing to pump mana in will ultimately lead to the loss of control. Caught in this dilemma, there wasn’t much difference from waiting for the Orb to go berserk in the future.
… At a time like this, it couldn’t be help if an unpleasant future appeared crisply in her mind.
[If we become the believers of invention and pray earnestly, it will definitely work.]
[...By the way, what happens if I don’t pray?]
[The two of us will become martyrs.]
The madman said this without hesitation. And the smile on his face was evidently the worse kind that showed pride in dying for his cause: it was a cheerful smile of someone who was about to blow himself up.
[You might want to call for a medic now. Or should I do you in right now?]
That was why Tanya wanted to kill this fellow with her own hands at the very least, since she was dead no matter what.
Kill this guy first, then get killed by his flawed Orb, at least she won’t lose out. It was a sweet temptation. It wasn’t an acceptable deal, but it was better than losing on all fronts. She was consoled by the concept of market fundamentalism.
[Calm down, Lieutenant. Didn’t you meet with the god before? If both of us can trust god, we will be saved.]
When the killing intent hidden in her heart was about to manifest in reality, these words came from his mouth. Tanya unconsciously stopped her movement. Hey, wait.
[The mana observation gauges are destabilizing! It is going out of control!]
[How could it be!? The core is melting! All personnel evacuate!]
The observation team screamed. Even though she treated the screams as noise and ignored them, but Tanya felt it the moment she lost conscious.
She felt that devil—[Existence X], smiling maliciously at her. Ah, I see. The extraordinary [existence] that toys with reality. A devil that toys with humans and bore ill news.
[You set me up?! Damn devil!!!]
[The conclusion is, that thing you all are developing called the Elinium Type 95? We decided to bestow a miracle, and the lord agreed with us.]
When she came to her senses, she realized she was in a familiar space. It wasn’t too long ago when she was welcomed by an [Existence X] that was less reasonable than he currently was. The reason for the visit this time was because that madman conducted a reckless experiment.
But that guy was just a mad scientist at the most, and not a fanatic. Judging from his earlier words, he was just a victim too. The mastermind must be Existence X and his gang. That lunatic was just being manipulated by them. Although I didn’t even have a single shred of sympathy for him.
[Oh, I see.]
The existence before me is just a little more normal than before. In a sense, he is a fanatic one could still converse with...but being careless is prohibited. Simply said, they are just like people who had been poisoned by religion. It doesn’t matter if they are gods or devils.
What I need to be careful of is that they might not try to convince me with logic, and force me to accept their values unilaterally. After all, their values are completely messed up. It might seem logical, but the content is the same as an incompetent employee.
I have to eliminate them. I can still stand lazy people. But all fanatics are all hardworking, no matter their level of competence. This is a praiseworthy virtue, but their element of “insanity” ruins everything.
[Next, allow me to congratulate you. The Lord accepts your ignorant and sinful existence, and has decided to guide you onto the right path.]
[It’s not necessary.]
…Hey. They are being so direct? I did expect them to make a move, but a fastball right down the middle? To be honest, it feels great to be in control of someone’s life, but it’s a different matter if the one being manipulated is me. Why can’t I decide my own life? Isn’t my body the most basic existence that can be controlled by my will?
[Ah, don’t worry. Your uneasiness stemmed from the fear that someone will force their ideals on you right?]
No, this feeling of uneasiness… How can I describe it? It is true that I am resistant about my future being decided by others against my will.
Be it my thoughts being controlled or being led on, I will feel extremely humiliated. Let those who want to be immersed in the world of stories indulge in communal fantasy. If this fantasy is beneficial, I will invest in it too; If there is nothing to gain, I wouldn’t bother with it. If it will harm me, I will wake those bunch up from their dreams and let them eat mud in reality.
And the offensive minded action of forcing others to partake in communal fantasy would be resisted by me to the end as a human being. Freedom. This is my freedom. Don’t anyone dare take it from me.
If my existence violates the freedom of others in contrary to my principles, it would be unpleasant, but still acceptable.
But I will never accept someone else threatening my freedom. In the past, I had the intellect and network to protect this freedom of mine...but right now, I only have the physical capability to protect my personal sovereignty, and understand the importance of this.
[So be at ease. Let us bestow your Operation Orb with blessings, and bring forth a miracle. After using the Orb, you will definitely understand the grace of god, and sing the words of prayer.]
[Words of prayer?]
[That’s right. Words to praise the Lord that have been forgotten by your forebearers. It was not your fault that it wasn’t passed down.]
[Of course. But that is not important to our discussion right now.]
How did he come up with such logic? Can someone explain to me? If you can, please do it now. I don’t mind machine translation or verbal translations. Aside from fees for rushing the job, I will add in tips too. So please, someone tell me what this guy is trying to say.
[Like I said, the Lord will let you say the words of prayer naturally, allow your heart to hear His voice, so you can believe in miracles.]
[...This sounds like a terrible form of brainwashing.]
Let’s try sorting out the situation. This bunch of evil fellows dumped me in this world. It is as good as abduction. Seeing that I did not give in, they decided to try a new approach. That is to let me use a cursed Operation Orb. The more I use it, the more it corrupts my soul? Go eat shit.
Not just that—the most terrible thing is, if I want to survive in this harsh war, even if the price is steep, it is very possible that I have no choice but to use it. I am already checkmated when they understood this.
Committing arson and then putting out the fire themselves. This is far worse than insider trading. If such barbaric means are allowed, it is as law and justice disappearing from civilization. Maybe I should act as the representative for the law and justice of humanity.
[We are not making this mandatory. This is just to let you experience the miracle of god, and pray to Him devoutly. The Operation Orb you possessed has already been blessed.]
What a way with words. Throwing me into a war environment where I might die at any moment, and say this is not mandatory? This is as good as dumping someone in the desert and asking him not to drink water. That’s asking me to die. In a way this might even be intimidation.
[I see. By the way, what happened to my real body?]
[You are being protected by the grace of god. Go, set off on your journey. Spread the name of the Lord to the people.]
After saying these creepy words, my consciousness was pulled back to the “ground.”
I wasn’t happy at all, since in front of my eyes was the face the human I didn’t want to see the most, and his voice. If I was an officer in the Imperial Justice Department, I would sentence this lunatic to be executed by a firing squad. I am very certain right now, this is for the good of the Empire and performing my duty and obligation.
[The Lord descended among us! It is a miracle! Blessings will be granted to those who believe!]
That madman had dangerous eyes that seemed to scream “I am the new prophet.” No, he might really believe that he was really a prophet.
[Director, calm down.]
Please shut up. No need to boast with your entire body about the fact that a mad scientist can change jobs to “religious fanatic.” Please, disappear from my sight.
[Ohh, Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff. The experiment is a success! Let us give praise to the name of god together!]
But the sad thing was he was a mad fanatic, and still a madman like before. He was so obsessive with his religion that his brain went bonkers.
[Come, come, let me witness the miracle He bestowed!]
[Degurechaff to control, is the Type 95’s control spell functioning normally?]
I hope they could stop the experiment because of technical issues. However, this was a curse laid by those that had powers beyond the realm of reality. My wish was easily shattered. It showed just how powerless mankind really were.
[It appears normal so far. But it might be the observational apparatus malfunctioning.]
[That might be possible. There’s no other way. Seal the Type 95, and inspect it back in the lab.]
That is wonderful. Being meticulous is an indispensable quality for technicians. It is hard for me to forgive them for not saving me and evacuating, but I am fine with what they did right now. I can accept it if I think they did so in order to survive and stop the experiment.
[What are you saying?! Lieutenant, activate it right now!]
Someone seemed to be protesting. That damn maniac, isn’t he afraid of being shot on accident by friendly fire one day?
No, he must have experienced that several times; shouldn’t he be dead by now? It might sound implausible, but is he a minion of Existence X and his gang? I already knew he was my enemy, but are we sworn enemies on top of that?
[...Activated. Theoretically, it will either work or blow the entire facility along with us away.]
[It’s hard to laugh at your joke, Lieutenant.]
I wasn’t joking at all. I was serious. Forget it. Since it is a curse, obviously nothing good will come of it. Mana flew through the circuitry of the Operation Orb, and began quad core synchronization.
The Mana flow is very smooth, and the core synchronization is so smooth that it doesn’t require any effort from me to operate. The Mana consumption is undoubtedly the same as the theoretical value.
I see, judging just from its performance, this is very powerful. Enough to earn rave reviews as the perfect invention. But regrettably, this thing is cursed.
[Ohh, the miracle of the lord almighty. Praise the Lord. Praise His glorious name.]
I shouted emotional words. At this instant, all the cells in my body couldn’t resist the urge to praise the name of the Lord.
[It worked? …No way, it really worked!]
I only returned to my senses after the observation team fell into the spiral of shock and shouted in surprise.
[...What did I just do?]
What was I thinking just then? What did I say? Did I praise something? I actually praise that fellow?!
[Yes, Lieutenant. It seems like you were finally able to understand the powers of faith. It really is a miracle.]
[Praise the glory of the Lord. Bear witness to this miracle.]
Everything so far had been a nightmare. After being cursed and experiencing a rather unpleasant situation, I am finally…finally free. And just need collate a bit more data. As long as it isn’t here, I don’t mind going anywhere, I just want to get away.
As if to realize my wish, the Republic to the west went as far as to declare war on us. The notice I have been looking forward to came to me just when I was feeling despair for the world, bringing salvation to my psyche.
But in the end, it is far too difficult to have an easy life.
① [Italian ‘Red Devils’ Hand Grenade] is an Italian Model 35 Hand Grenade. Famous for its rate of accidental explosions and duds. It is an Italian grenade feared by both friends and foes.
② [Murphy’s Law] According to the findings of a study done by Captain Edward Aloysius Murphy, Jr. of the United States Army Air Corps, he concluded that [Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.] Which then led to the observation that [If anything bad can happen, it probably will.
③ [Holy Relic] Items such as human remains or miraculous tools. It is very dangerous, so please do not retort about them.