Speechless. That was truly the most fitting way to describe how she felt.
After all, in the 3 years she’s been teaching here, this was the first time that a student had asked her such a question.
Until now, Frire hadn’t stopped once despite all the shocking things that’s been thrown her way, but for the first time, she finally couldn’t help but stop.
The boy pretended like he didn’t notice that and continued to walk a few more steps before turning to her.
“Hey, Teach. Tell me. Is Garesto
It was as though a devil was smiling right in front of her.
She felt her own blood leave her and her emotions grow cold.
This was not a question she could easily answer, but neither was this boy someone she could fool.
She could easily answer the question itself, but the reason itself was not something she could say.
It was such a dangerous question that she instinctively braced herself for a fight.
But at the same time, the fact that a former soldier such as herself reacted so seriously and fell silent was in and of itself an answer.
She knew that the boy in front of her would be able to tell that much, but…
“I know this question has gone past your limit, but… We’re
The boy understood that much, but the question still couldn’t be dropped.
He turned around and walked deeper into the forest.
Frire continued to keep quiet as she followed after him.
As they went deeper into the forest, they eventually reached an area where not even the light of the stars reached.
According to the foster, there were no machines or people other than them in a 300m radius. Even if someone were to use a super-telephoto lens, the dense thicket of branches and leaves would obstruct their view.
This place was created to allow the students an opportunity to experience a night battle within a forest – a man-made barrier of nature.
After arriving here, the boy finally started talking, but the way he talked made it seem as though he were talking to himself.
“When I’d just arrived here, I thought that with the large difference in technology, a battle between Earth and Garesto couldn’t even be called a battle.”
His voice seemed intentionally darker than earlier, but…
When Frire looked at the boy while using a night vision skill, he was calm.
“It’s so stupid… There was no way someone like me could have realized it back then.”
If anything, the one who was finding it increasingly hard to keep calm was her.
Thats why she didn’t say anything and just quietly listened to the boy.
“After all, I’m a complete beginner when it comes to the military. What could a person like that possibly know about Garesto or Earth’s military? It wasn’t even until just recently that I saw a gun for the first time.”
The opinion of a person like that was irrelevant.
And most people would agree.
But the boy’s calm face only made her heart beat faster.
“But even an amateur like that has a rough idea what kind of weapons there are. After coming here, I’ve seen all sorts of weapons from Garesto. Some of them from pictures, some of them from recordings of battles, and some of them in person.”
Those meaningful words made her shiver.
Although this boy had attended his classes, he rarely participated.
Viewing the reference room was also limited by class, but even then there were still plenty of opportunities to see those weapons just by walking around the campus.
However, Frire didn’t think that his knowledge was limited to just that. She had no evidence supporting it, and the data shouldn’t even be present in Kutoria, but it felt as though he had already seen all of their military’s information.
“To state the obvious, Garesto’s main equipment are those exoskeletons. For their machines, they have those guard robots. And then there’s those gun batteries meant to defend the cities from the raybeasts.”
He was so correct it made it hard to breathe.
He hadn’t attended his classes, and yet he had the basics down.
Clearly, he had been investigating on his own.
Was that what he meant by self-study?
“It’s not easy to attack a city defended by those. If you try to approach, a rain of energy bullets will be there to greet you, and if you try to charge in, a wall of robots will block your way. On top of that, there’s an army of exoskeletons that can move freely through the battlefield. Those guys are amazing whether they’re defending or attacking.”
Guard Robots possessed durability, mobility, and firepower that far outclassed Earth’s tanks.
The exoskeletons were human-sized and could fly in the air. What’s more was that they were impervious to rifle bullets and bullets of light.
If both of those were to be organized into an army and attack, the resulting sight would surely be superb.
“I could easily see Garesto grasping Earth’s important points in no time at all,” he joked.
But that jovial tone lasted only for a moment before his eyes turned a sharp glint.
“But in the end, that’s just an army of footmen and horsemen. An army that can only show its strength when they can reach their enemy. Earth’s military specializes in something else altogether.”
Frire gulped inadvertently. Alarms blared inside her head. She was sure of it – this boy knew.
The reason why they had to negotiate, and that despite that, they didn’t want to overdo it.
Although the official reason wasn’t completely a lie, one of the biggest reasons why this city was closed was to obscure a certain truth. Or at least, that should have been the case.
But now there was no doubting it. This boy had seen through it.
When she realized what he was trying to point out, her mentality returned to that time when she was in the army.
And she unconsciously moved to make it easier to cut him down at anytime.
Because of the difference in their height and length of their limbs, that position was still far out of his range.
“Teach, I’ll ask again… If an all-out war were to break out— Can
A clear implication that Garesto would undoubtedly lose.
As though that were a signal of some sort, the both of them moved.
Steel drawn, sparks flashed, and along with that came the sensation of flesh being dug.
That one thrust they both released pierced through the same place as though they’d orchestrated the whole thing.
Not a hint of distress could be seen on the boy’s face from the side.
“…Sigh. It would’ve been nice if you at least got a little scared.”
As she sighed and shook her head, that tension from just a few seconds ago vanished.
The topic was too sensitive, so she’d put more power than necessary, but it was meaningless.
“Was there any reason to be afraid?”
The boy tilted his head as though the very thought of being attacked was never a question.
She was always being put in embarrassing situations in front of him, so she was glad to see him so trusting of her, but at the same time, it was also embarrassing.
She knew why she trusted him, but she didn’t know why he trusted her.
He continued to stare at her, and eventually, she finally couldn’t stand it and she had to scratch her cheeks with her free hand.
“Personally, I’m more curious why you didn’t attack the
“I’m a teacher! It’s a given to prioritize the safety of my students!”
There was that reason too, but it seemed like she was trying to hide something by saying that as she pulled her sword out from the forehead of the
The boy followed suit and pulled out his sword from the second raybeast, like that it too dispersed.
Two big-type bat-like raybeasts had sneaked behind them.
The both of them had noticed them, that’s why they moved.
“Fu fu, I love that part about you.”
It was curious what he found so amusing, but he laughed as he said that. For some reason, that laughter seemed nostalgic as well.
Embarrassed, Frire half-closed her eyes, and asked Shinichi while worrying a little.
“…Which is it?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
When she saw his face and realized he was doing it naturally, Frire’s head ached.
He wouldn’t tease someone unless his switch has been flicked, but he never shied away from talking like this and he kept his calm too.
The way he handled women was too extreme. He was either too close or too distant. Frire even imagined there was a group of women around him.
“…This side of his was definitely trained by a messed up environment and some strange women.”
Just as she talked like a man because she grew up in an all-male household, she figured that Shinichi must’ve learned to talk like this because he was surrounded by a lot of strange women.
“…Uh, what are you talking about?”
“Sigh, it’s nothing. More importantly, which side do you think will win?”
But that didn’t matter right now, so she shook her head, and threw the main question back at Shinichi.
“There’s no way I could know that. Unless one side takes the initiative, it will depend on the commander or the moment. How am I supposed to predict a match like that?”
Alas, it was just shot down with those unreserved words.
But that also meant to say that victory wouldn’t be decided by anything else other than that.
He really was sharp. Because of that her head started aching again for a different reason.
“…When did you notice it?”
“When I started having my doubts while staying at the academy and I tried simulating it. It was just recently that I became certain though – when that topic about Garesto’s extremists popped up. You skipped one important point intentionally, didn’t you? That was really sloppy,” he said with a smile as though he was talking about someone else’s problem.
Frire made a sullen face.
He was the one who wanted an explanation, so it felt like he’d led her on. Perhaps, he was looking for confirmation.
“And what exactly is this part that I skipped?”
“The immediate reason why the extremists came to be and why they still exist.
Uncertainty toward the Earthlings, who do nothing but destroy their environment and kill each other, just didn’t sound like a good enough reason for a race with little to no wars to suddenly start talking about invading.
If so, then there must be a reason that made them so
“…And here I thought I’d fooled you.”
After hearing Shinichi’s explanation that was prepared beforehand, Frire couldn’t even sigh.
He was right, after all. Uncertainty alone wasn’t enough for them to change the way they negotiated with others.
There wasn’t even anyone alive 40 years ago who has experienced invading another nation.
And yet, here was a world that was many times bigger than theirs, with a population several times theirs, and they were talking about invading it? Even the people who hated the Earthlings wouldn’t so casually say something so ridiculous.
That’s why uncertainty couldn’t be the only reason.
“Oh, I thought you did quite well, actually. If I hadn’t been suspicious from the start, I wouldn’t have noticed.”
“Well, thanks… I don’t really want a compliment, though.”
Was she being praised or consoled?
It felt more like the latter, but it couldn’t be helped.
Since he’s already guessed the reason, there’s no point in trying to fool him anymore.
If not for their promise, Frire would really love to ask him just who he was.
But right now, there was something more important that she had to ask.
“So, in other words, you already know what that reason is?”
Based on how the conversation has been going until now, that must be the case – she asked him with her eyes, and he nodded.
“No one ever talked about it in the academy, so I thought it was strange. Prejudices are really scary, aren’t they? I would’ve never even dreamed it – That Garesto wouldn’t have a weapon of mass destruction or a strategic-class weapon.”