The Lorelia Frontline Outpost was like a beehive which had been poked with a stick.
Just a while ago, an unplanned sortie order was handed down to all platoons. Furthermore, Philia’s unit was given the shady role of an underground assault mission, and they were as busy as a bee changing out their equipment for the role.
When Philia boarded the transport helicopter, other unit members rushed to grab the seats around her.
What unfolded next was a silent duel between the males.
In the center of the furor, Philia shrugged resignedly while hugging Eve which was in storage mode.
“Hey, get out of the way dumbass! The seat beside the colonel’s is for me, the vice-captain!”
“Piss off, you’re not even the vice-captain of our squad! Why the hell are you even here! As actual vice-captain of this squad, that seat should be mine!”
“No no no, I should be the one sitting there as the one who occasionally resupplys the colonel.”
“Calm down, men. This seat rightfully belongs to me, founder of the Loadrain Association.”
No it’s mine. No you get out the way. Men dressed in white tactical suits pushed and jostled amongst themselves.
Without warning, Eve flew out of Philia’s arms and tackled the men without her saying anything.
“What the… the drone’s…!”
A black-haired girl appeared behind them and smacked them on their head.
“Don’t you guys have any self-control!? What are you doing fooling around when we’re about to depart! You’ve even made Eve angry!”
“It hurts, Big Sis Cisty…”
“Who’s your big sis!”
Caught in a pincer attack by Eve and Cisty, the men dejectly sat down on the opposite side.
“Haah… Why are the men in this unit always like this… It’s like they treat each mission as a Philia viewing session instead of a life-or-death battle.”
Cisty sat down next to Philia with a deep sigh and gazed contemptuously at the men. Bathed in her piercing glare, the men stiffened up like frogs facing a snake.
However, one of them—the vice-captain of Philia’s squad—brought up a question undauntedly.
“Colonel, since we’re operating in an enclosed area today, we should be able to complete the mission in no time!”
“Let’s do best again and slaughter those Elmer pigs! Then, we’ll take back Reikyo City which they occupied in the previous war! You can count on us for your support!”
Philia could feel her cheeks stiffening.
In the past, she wouldn’t have batted a lid at hearing those words.
Seeing the face of her vice-captain who spoke of murder with a smile on his face, the feeling of discomfort surprised even herself.
Philia felt a hesitation being born in her heart.
Earning points by killing the enemy. The higher her score, the greater her evaluation by her fellow soldiers, that way she can protect her honor as one of the elites. That was how the system worked and something that was completely obvious, so why does she feel disgusted by that now?
Unconsciously, she thought back to yesterday’s final encounter, of the melancholic smile on Blood Naught’s face at the end.
The moment she pulled the trigger, how easily the bullet penetrated his brain, killing him. Of how he smiled even with the muzzle pointed at him.
She saw the light fading from his black eyes.
How his heaving shoulders stopped moving.
And the blood flowing ceaselessly from the holes in his body made by none other than herself.
—I saw death.
But, so what. In the current world, death of the body did not equate to true death any more.
It was supposed to be that way, yet.
“…What is this feeling…”
What is this unpleasantness which seems to coat the inside of my chest like heavy, sticky oil?
“Philia, we’re up next!”
She snapped out of her stupor when someone shook her shoulder.
When she turned her head, she found Cisty looking at her.
She was pointing outside the window. There, she could see another transport helicopter just about to takeoff.
With a start, she recalled what she needed to do.
[Ash 1 to Agitator. Ash Squad, ready for deployment.]
[Agitator, roger that.]
A synthetic female voice resounded in her head, followed by the hatch closing and the rotor spinning faster and faster.
When she turned around, her cheek was pinched.
“Whar ar yoo foing.”
“Just trying to relax that stiff cheek of yours.”
Philia rocked her head left and right to shake off Cisty’s hand.
Then, in return, she pinched Cisty’s nose.
“It’s not like I’m anxious or anything.”
Cisty escaped from her grip and puckered her lips.
“…I’m just feeling a bit down, that’s all.”
Saying so, she turned her face the other side and ignored Cisty who seemed to have question marks floating around her.