Hellping

This place was probably a freezer meant to create ice for an ice rink.

It was early summer out there, but the place was still covered with frost, and Kaie looked around the spacious basement room, astounded.

The war resulted in the power supply being interrupted, but the place was still filled with ice, and this freezer had the properties of an ice cave in this very insulated basement. One had to wonder when the cracks appeared on the ceiling, for snow blew into the cracks, and the result was that there was melted ice every summer.

Despite that, she was momentarily speechless as she saw all the snow that piled up—

Behind her was Shin, who was exploring the ruins,

“…Is this?”

 

“Shin, just to ask you something unimportant.”

“Oh.”

Klang, vroom vroom vroom.

The heavy air flow echoed through, and the “Juggernaut” Kaie piloted kicked over a large cauldron that was wrapped in an abandoned blanket.

It rolled down the base hangar, onto the cracked concrete floor.

“If, just if, a girl attacks you in the middle of the night, and she’s a comrade, what will you do?”

Shin kicked away the mysterious large cauldron while in his “Juggernaut” and answered, frowning in surprise.

They had the cannon on the back lifted, their cockpits opened as they piloted with their bodies exposed to the elements. The two mecha weapons infamous for being destitute kicked away at this makeshift soccer ball while letting out noisy footsteps, while Aldrecht watched on with an appalled, helpless look.

“What do you mean, attack in the middle of the night?”

“Eh.”

Kaie was stunned to hear the unexpected answer.

That kick missed completely, and she hastily gave chase after the large cauldron, kicking it back…she had to kick it while it was rolling, for it would be difficult to do so from a standing stop.

The surprised Shin continued,

“Tickle my head while I’m sleeping?”

“I don’t mean that attack. It’s not what you think, but,”

“I can’t answer when I don’t know what it is.”

“That…erm…”

It was a question she raised, but Kaie was too embarrassed to explain.

She blushed, seeking words that would not be that upfront, but suddenly thought of something, and smiled.

Perhaps this unreasonable prank was permissible.

“…You know what it means, don’t you, Shin…it’s not nice to have a female say such a thing.”

Shin narrowed his eyes as he looked over, and snorted,

His “Juggernaut” kicked the cauldron, and a somewhat violent sound rolled over.

“Your question’s difficult to answer…I’m not being loose. I just overheard.”

The usually stoic boy spoke with a somewhat unhappy tone. Kaie showed a wry smile.

She, who had seen him on the battlefield, would forget that Shin was in fact two years younger than her.

If he was deemed human, he would be at the age where he would be treated as a kid.

“…I guess. Sorry…forget about it.”

How would this boy before her react if someone actually did so? She was actually somewhat curious.

After a moment of silence, the footsteps of the “Juggernauts” and the rumblings of the cauldron eased.

Kaie pondered over that silence.

This large cauldron had to keep moving within a certain period, and it was too boring just kicking around silently. They did kill some time with idle chat, but the topic ended.

They started off with word solitaire, and it would have been one thing if children were playing, but the players were the 16 year old Shin and the 18 year old Kaie. They did not actually come up with words, and merely answered briefly. After five minutes or so, they started to get tired. Shin used Shakespearean titles, while Kaie checkmated herself with flower names, and before they knew it, the game ended.

The stoic Shin probably would not feel bored or awkward by this silence, but Kaie was different, and she had to find something to break this silence.

As she looked at the large cauldron rumbling between the two units, she suddenly thought of something, and said,

“Over here, when we talk about summer, we think of ‘that’…at the country my ancestors were born in, there’s something called Ramune that’s a necessity.”

Kaie had never been to the country where many of her people lived.

Located at the Eastern end of the continent was the homeland she was unfamiliar with, probably miraculously surviving the yoke of the “Legion”.

The complex emotions of nostalgia and homesickness lingered in her heart, and she smiled. Her ancestors moved to the Republic, and for Kaie, who came generations later, that country was her origin. She could hardly say the language of that country, and could only understand the foreign homeland through some basic terms, traditions, and bits of culture.

Even if she wanted to return, she had no chance.

The homeland she should return to was not that foreign one.

Shin, unable to know what Kaie was thinking, suddenly blinked at the topic she started.

He was not particularly interested, but he chimed on,

“That is?”

“It’s a unique refreshing soda flavor with sweet carbonic acid, stored in a glass bottle. The bottle has a glass bead inside, and when you hold down the top of the bottle while drinking, the glass bead pops out.

It was something he had never seen before in the Republic—not on the battlefields of abandoned streets, one with an exotic packaging and opening method. He leaned forward slightly, somewhat interested with the Ramune.

“Sounds interesting. How’s it made?”

“I don’t know either. I’ve never seen it before.”

“…”

Shin looked as though the rug was pulled out beneath him, and he went silent.

He could tell Kaie was chuckling. It was payback from before.

Shin however remained silent, and lowered his bloody red eyes, pondering.

After a while, he said,

“…You don’t know?’

They did not know, for they had never seen one before.

“Do you want to try it out—once?”

At that moment, Kaie went silent.

She felt forlorn, for she only knew of the homeland her ancestors were form.

In hindsight, she knew that he had seen through her isolation and loneliness.

Speaking of which, Shin too was born in the Republic, but his family was from another country; the neighboring Giad Empire that developed the “Legion” and caused the entire continent to be devoured in chaos. Shin, a mixed blood between the ruling Onyx and Pyrope, had the rich bloodlines of two great nobility flowing within.

However, he merely inherited their bloodlines. He had never been to the Empire, not when he was detained in the 86th district, nor before the war against the “Legion” started.

He was abandoned by the country he was born in, and did not know the country he came from.

And also, he had nowhere to go.

Perhaps Shin too could empathize with this isolation and loneliness.

“Hm, if it can happen…”

The alarm clock (a kitchen alarm they found in the abandoned streets) rang.

The cauldron so happened to roll to the feet of the “Juggernaut”. Kaie switched off the power unit, and hopped off.

Shin too hopped off his unit, and they went to that cauldron.

“…It’s almost done, isn’t it?”

“I guess so. Couldn’t hear any flowing water for a while now.”

They wore the gloves they had prepared beforehand, peeled off the tape wrapped on the blanket, and unravelled it.

The exposed surface of the cauldron was rock solid. This cauldron was ready to be disposed.

They peeled off the tape sealing the opening, and contained within was large amount of melted ice and sealed containers of various sizes.

“But you really know about these things. Did you see it somewhere before?’

“Probably. It’s not something I’d want to eat in the winter, so I didn’t think about it until just now since we didn’t have the chance.”

They took the largest container, shook it a few times to check the sound, opened it to check the contents, and Shin nodded.

“It’s solid.”

“We did it. Got to call the others.”

Kaie nodded, and activated the Para-RAID.

She was contacting the entire Spearhead squadron, along with the maintenance crew that was waiting nearby.

This was for everyone, so the cauldron was extremely heavy as they had loaded so much ice, and could only roll it about using the “Juggernaut”.

On a side note, Shin’s idea was to tide the cauldron onto Fido and have it jump about for thirty minutes or so. Fido, who was present, appeared to be very enthused, but due to heating reasons, the proposal was unfortunately rejected.

“Sorry to keep everyone wait…it’s actually our first time eating it after coming to this 86th district.”

The ingredients were canned unsweetened condensed milk, sugar, wild rose and violet jam for coloring and fragrance, and finally salt and ice.

It was said that by mixing a certain percentage of ice and salt, the temperature would fall below zero.

This was the principle used.

“Ice cream’s done.”

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