At the capital of a certain country in earth, far from Kutoria, where no one yet knew of the incident that occurred on the floating city, everyone was living peacefully… Everyone except a group of old men gathered inside a mansion at an affluent neighborhood.
“What is the meaning of this!?” Angrily said an old man with a majestic beard despite his age.
He was yelling at the gentleman who brought the pictures that now laid on the round table.
With his face flushed red, no one would think associate him with that renowned old man of the business world.
“All I can say is that it is exactly as you see,” a gentleman said.
This gentleman, who was the only one here in his late thirties, stood alone to explain the situation with brevity despite his paled face.
There was an emotion within him that was different from fear.
“These are the circumstances of the battle taken by the country’s satellites,” the gentleman said.
The angry old man and the other old men seated around the round table were all influential men with the power to move this country.
Them being gathered here, furious, was in and of itself terrifying, but what was even more terrifying was the existence that broke their expectations.
“2 of the cruise missiles were destroyed because of the interference of the UN forces. The remaining 8 missiles were… vaporized by the attack released by an unknown as seen in the photos.”
The sequence photographs showed a human shaped black mist when it released that powerful light.
That light did not just vaporize the missiles, but created a hole on the sea that spanned 1,800km.
Moreover, that black mist was human-sized. If such a thing was not enough to become an object of fear, then what was? When the man saw this, the trembling wouldn’t stop.
“Don’t mess with me, kid! Do you think you can fool us by fabricating something like this just because we’re old!?”
“Hmph, up till the last moment you continue to defy us. I see whatever subservience you’ve shown was just an act to deal with us. You’ve gotten quite the big head, haven’t you, kid?”
“You ungrateful fool! Who do you think you owe your current position to!?”
Some of the old men did not take kindly to his revelation and just rained abuse on him, but he neither yelled back nor became agitated, and just calmly replied.
Despite that he actually also wished for all of this to be a lie.
“If that were the case, I would’ve prepared a more realistic story. If you don’t believe me, then please use your own contacts to confirm it with the influential people from other nations. I don’t want to believe this either.”
When he said that, perhaps because his words held reason or perhaps because he didn’t become agitated while his face remained pale, the angry old men had no choice but to accept that this was indeed happening.
But even then…
“You should’ve said that in the first place! Good grief, making me yell for no reason!”
Ostentation and stubbornness from old age, and a prideful personality made an old man refuse to accept his shortcomings, but the gentleman just quietly let that pass.
“Well, let’s calm down. The missiles being shot down is still part of our plans. We can just say that this is Garesto’s new weapon,” said an old man, who was relatively calm despite his displeasure.
But of course, there was also an arrogance in him that believed that the world would move as they intended.
“Exactly. If anything, isn’t this even better? After all, this would mean that ‘they possess’ such a powerful weapon.”
“Even those dogs that wag their tail for Garesto won’t be able to cover for them. With this, the preparations to exterminate those otherworld monsters can finally begin.”
“Battle is decided by numbers, not quality,” cheerfully and confidently said an old man dressed in military uniform.
But such pride was so shallow, it could easily crumble.
“Unfortunately, that’s difficult given the circumstances,” the gentleman said.
“…What do you mean? Didn’t we knew that it would turn out like this and prepared accordingly?” An old man asked.
“That’s true, but only if they were able to shoot down the missiles using their standard equipment,” the gentleman said. “But the missiles were shot down by an unknown via unknown means. And our analysis says that this powerful light isn’t using photon energy.”
“So what? It’s good that it’s unknown, that means we can make up whatever story we want!” An old man said.
“Since it’s an unknown energy, that just means they’ve been hiding that stuff until now. You can’t even figure that no your own without being told? Tch, greenhorn!” Another old man said.
“…Gentlemen, your opinion certainly holds reason, but the reason they’re interacting with us in the first place is because of their energy problems. To say that they’re hiding another type of energy just isn’t credible enough,” the gentleman said.
Perhaps they could make it so that there was some kind of problem in using that energy,
or perhaps make it so that their energy problem itself was a lie.
Such things were certainly in the realm of possibility, but they had no foundation or information to support such claims.
Although there were many people among the general public who would associate anything unknown with Garesto, to the people living in the world of politics, it was more likely for them to suspect another country developing an unknown weapon, not because they trusted Garesto, but because they themselves were engage in an ongoing technological race.
Such was the tragic state of the world.
“The other nations have also seen this, so it’s not possible for our country alone to make up whatever story we want. If anything, trying to twist the truth to jolt the anti-garesto movement would be no different from a confession of our crimes,” the gentleman said.
These old men possessed influence in other countries too, so they must’ve already laid the groundwork to swing things to their advantage for this incident.
But of course, whatever influence they hold could not possibly make entire nations obey them without question.
“T-This is a disaster!” An old man finally admitted.
“…Making a move without solid evidence or the public sentiment would make us suspicious, and if they start suspecting us, we actually are guilty, so nothing could be more troublesome!” Another old man said.
Though these old men have grown bigoted, they were still people that managed to reach their current position.
They could easily see that much; hence, they knew that the current situation needed careful supervision to be covered up.
As irritated and as unhappy as they were, they had to acknowledge that much.
“We failed…” An old man said.
“The circumstances have even gotten worse, hasn’t it?” Another old man said.
“Curse you, Garesto! How long must you hold our country in contempt!” A third old man said.
The old men were all either gloomy or exasperated, only the gentleman was making a complicated expression.
His face was still as pale as ever, but he seemed relieved now.
“The nuclear submarines were able to escape, right?”
Since things have come to this, it was now a question of how much of their tracks they can hide.
In the face of the discerning old man’s gaze, the gentleman shook his head to keep his real feelings from being sensed.
“No, the attack was aimed at our submarine too. It’s likely that they received a direct hit and have already been washed away by the ocean currents. So far no one from the submarines have contacted us,” the gentleman said.
Besides, so much of the ocean had been vaporized so suddenly that the currents around them would have surely been rattled. Even a submarine would be unlikely to survive such violent currents.
Presently, the Kutoria defense forces and the UN forces were investigating the scene together.
Of course, they had their own spies there too, but the spies neither had the numbers nor authority to erase all traces of their submarines, so they needed to find a solution to the situation as soon as possible.
“What? ───Hey, is that true!?”
But then the worst news came, delivered through that ear-piece-like device, and the gentleman trembled in fear.
The old men looked at him suspiciously, but he ignored them and turned on the TV.
On the screen was the popular news caster of this country.
“────We reported that a giant submarine had suddenly appeared at the west coast. Now, it appears that the crew are actually our nation’s soldiers──”
“What did she say!?”
It was hard to believe that so suddenly, but this was a serious news channel, and the words and videos being shown were all affirming that.
At another country’s shore, moreover, a beach where many people gathered, was a strange object.
That rounded and elongated form that resembled a cigar was without a doubt a submarine. Moreover, it was the same submarine that they’d sent to Kutoria.
From the footage taken by the curious onlookers and the TV station, could be seen some of their country’s soldiers being taken away.
For some reason, the entrance of the submarine was open.
“T-There’s word from the official residence as well… The phones keep ringing, apparently. The other two vessels were also found in other countries, and all the crew members have been arrested for illegal immigration. The foreign embassies are demanding an explanation!”
The gentleman reported the situation in a panic.
His face had paled for a different reason from earlier, but now it was already white.
“Impossible! Why did something like this happen!? They weren’t anywhere near those places! How did they even get there!!?”
“Exactly! In the first place, why didn’t we hear about something so important! And why did the TV station broadcast it on their own without even contacting us!?”
“Have them stop immediately!”
“That’s impossible! And there’s no point anymore! It’s already become a big scoop in the other countries! The internet is sure to be all over it already! The situation couldn’t be worse… With this everyone will know who was responsible for the attack!!” The gentleman said.
With too many witnesses where the submarines were found, it was impossible even for the governments of those countries to hide the matter.
And with the submarine for evidence and the crew for witnesses, both in the hands of other nations, not only would they not be able to hide their tracks and keep their people quiet, the other nations have also acquired a powerful card that could be used against them.
Even if they didn’t announce anything publicly to avoid rousing domestic and foreign oppositions, their country would definitely be given the cold shoulder internationally.
“It’s over! What kind of unreasonable demands will they demand of us!?” The gentleman said.
It was too easy to imagine such a cruel future.
The gentleman collapsed feebly and held his head in despair.
“I-In the first place, weren’t you the one who came up with that plan?”
“What are you saying? The one agreed first was you!”
“Now, now, let’s all calm down. We need to minimize the damage from the military’s unauthorized actions…”
“You intend to shift the blame onto me!!?”
Meanwhile, the old men argued and tried to push the blame onto one another.
At this point, the gentleman could only imagine some distant country being responsible for this mess. It was just too comical.
Was this place a gathering of this country’s most influential people?
Was this the behavior of people who ruled their beloved country from the shadows?
“So this is…. My punishment for failing to rein in these old geezers.”
『───Obviously. It wouldn’t be right if i didn’t give you this much of a penalty. 』