[86 Side Stories] Undertaker (Part 1)

The “Legion” began to retreat.

The emotionless combat machines would feel no fear upon losing their comrades, let alone have any thoughts of revenge. Only when completing their objectives, or losing sufficient forces, would they begin to retreat mutedly.

The remaining few metallic colored Löwes abandon their mines reluctantly, and began to retreat. The enemy blips on the radar screen began to decluster.

Despite that, they could not let their guard down, and kept checking the surroundings through the optical sensors. While they were checking the radar, the Processors heard a cold voice.

It was not a noise heard through the outdated wireless network. It was a clear, cold, serene voice heard directly through the Para-RAID.

It was the voice of their leader, that of the 1st squadron in the 27th battle area.
 

“――Undertaker to all units. Operation over.”
 

The voice was cold and clear, like those of the enemies they were fighting, like the god commanding the battlefield.

 

“Copy that, Alpha Leader.”

 

The assistant leader of the Bayonet Squadron, Saiki Tateha, tersely responded, and stretched. He could hear his comrades doing the same on the Para-RAID.

The leader of the 1st platoon would typically be the Squadron leader. However, considering how difficult it was for the leader to command while skirmishing in his own style, along with various other factors, it was Saiki who had also to handle them all.

Yes, it was all due to the relationship with the members.

All because of their leader’s unique way of fighting.

Looking over, he saw charred remains of the “Legion” surrounding the leader’s unit, and even though it happened every time, Saiki gulped.

Most of the wreckage belonged to the Löwe. Of all the “Legion” units, they had the most firepower, armor and ridiculous mobility, second only to the the Dinosauria that were uncommon on the 86th battlefield. The “Juggernaut”, typically unable to withstand the enemy, had its anchor between the fallen trees and pebbles.

Saiki and the others had provided covering fire, but more than half of the enemy forces were decimated by one unit–their leader’s.

That was an outstanding ability displayed by him.

The enemy blips all left the battlefield, and the stares of the “Juggernauts” were directed at the leader unit, the strange one standing in the middle of the Löwe wreckage, having slaughtered them head on.

It was whitish-brown, like parched bones, covered with scars of its previous combats. The mobility had been greatly enhanced as the safety functions were removed. The warm spring sun shone upon the unit. The other members had wondered if the pilot was sane to begin with, for they had never seen anyone else use the high frequency blades for close combat.

There was a personal mark, one of a headless skeleton beneath the cockpit.

The unit was called the “Undertaker”. On the 86th battlefield where most of the Processors die off within a year, those who survived beyond a year had personal marks labelled upon their units.

The one with the personal mark resembling a death god was bearing its reputation as the undertaker.

The white skeleton wandered around the battlefield, ostensibly seeking its missing head. In any case, it was an ominous description.

The leader inside the “Undertaker” let out a sigh. The was the only sound made in the silent Para-RAID transmission.

“We’re heading back. Leave the other destroyed “Juggernauts” to the “Scavenger”.”

“Copy that.”
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Saiki started his “Juggernaut” once again, and turned back. The inferior aluminum alloy coffin gave heavy creaks as it trekked on.

The spinning optical sensors showed the forest that was their battlefield. There were the trees that were snapped, burning in flames. There were the rocks shattered by cannons, and the dirt and grass blown and scattered. THey were the steelish, whitish-brown remains of the “Legion” and the “Juggernauts” respectively.

It was the same scene for Bayonet Squadron, along with those living on the 86th district battlefields.

Despite that, the distant lush green and the maddening red horizon were a different color from before. Deep within the Contested area, next to the “Legion” controlled territory, was a bright crimson. A field of red flowers, it seemed. Even at this place, it was obvious it was a large field of flowers.

Ahh, so he suddenly remembered it was spring.

For many years, he had lost count of the seasons. Having fought for his life while living in the Concentration Camps, he had lost all notion of the seasonal changes.

If he had not been in this squadron, perhaps he would not have seen this once he left the camp and arrived on the battlefield.

“…”

In the coming year, most of the active Processors probably would not see this crimson.

But for this squadron in particular, it seemed every single person could see it the next year. Perhaps they might see a different flower from before.

Even though they might not see it with their own eyes.

“Alpha Leader? Is there something?”

“Ahh, no, nothing.”

The squadron leader’s cold voice was somewhat surprised, and thus Saiki hurriedly responded. It seemed he had been spacing out for an inordinate time staring at the flower field far beyond the battlefield.

The Para-RAID at this point was disconnected from the house pet of a Handler beyond the wall. Their pet owner was a lazybum, and despite the fact that he was supposed to observe them, he never did connect with the squadron leader during the battlefield. Even the wireless network was severed during battle. Before the battle began, he would hand over command to the squadron leader, hiding within the walls, covering his ears until the operation ended.

And the squadron leader, having known that, would never report to the Handler once the battle ended.

It was true that the Handlers would shut off the wireless network out of fear, until the battlefield ended. Sometimes, he would ignore the pleas due to finding it a hassle. Despite so, the timid house pet never dared to connect through the Para-RAID.

Saiki and the others returned to base, left their units with the maintenance crew, and luckily for them, they never heard any voices from the white pig while catching their breaths…even at this point, the pig would not be hearing their conversation.

During combat, the Eighty-Sixes were forbidden to use their own names.

“Looks like nothing major happened this time, Undertaker…Shin”

The leader unit turned to Saiki, who called for him. While Saiki did not know if Shin had seen him, he was grinning.

“Once again, good work, our death god.”

Most of the Processors in service would die within a year living at the 86th District.

In other words, most living on the battlefield would be unlikely to live until the next year. They probably would not see the blooming flowers and damp blue skies of the following spring.

But this squadron might be an exception. Surely they would be able to see the red flowers, or other flowers, the next year, even though they might be dead at that moment.

For in this squadron, they had the death god carrying their hearts along.

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