On this day, two people died in the operation, and one could not die completely.
“…I guess it doesn’t happen all the time.”
It was not a rare instance, however.
One cockpit block was blown completely apart by the Löwe cannon, and one was torn apart by the high frequency blade of the Grauwolf. Saiki stared at the two lifeless “Juggernauts”, muttering so.
His platoon mate Holly, being reproached here, glanced over, and did not say anything.
There was nothing more to be said. The Eighty-Sixes were such things, weapon disposable parts, and despite being destroyed, they were merely domesticated pets in human form to the Republic, a painless loss to them. It was to be expected that they would die here, and thus, the Eighty-Sixes were used to this.
Holly spoke with some sadness, but with a tinge of relief.
“But we have our Death God around, right?”
You’re right, so Saiki nodded.
Yes, they had the Death God around. He could determine the movements of the “Legion” precisely even in battle, and if they died.
Back when they were assigned to this squad, they made a promise with him.
The last person standing was to remember all else who died, and lead them to the very end.
Shin would live. They would reach places they would never be able to when alive. He would lead them there, and thus they did not fear death.
Those unlucky were unable to die fully.
Shin approached the three “Juggernauts” that were anchored. The aluminum alloy armor were weak against fire, and were completely charred, leaving the unfortunate comrade still alive inside.
Shin callously reached for the handgun in the holster on his right leg, walking as he pulled the slide, loading a bullet inside. He was used to this motion.
He placed his hand on the canopy lever, and seemingly muttered to himself.
“…If you don’t want to hear this, cover your ears.”
The rookies, staring at the charred “Juggernaut” with pale or tense faces, were of similar ages to Shin, and they hastily covered their ears, closed their eyes, or averted their looks. Seeing that, Shin opened the canopy.
He reached his hand for the comrade within, trying to interact it seemed, and said a few words.
Saiki was amazed to see him like that.
He was cold, and drew a line from everyone else, but he was not completely emotionless to anyone.
Or perhaps, his true personality was――…
So Saiki continued to think, but three shots from the cold-blooded 9mm handgun ripped his thoughts apart.
Saiki woke up, and saw that Shin was missing. He went to the hangar, and found the “Juggernaut” missing.
Of course, that meant that…
So Saiki thought as he went over to where Shin was.
After a long walk, he found Shin at where he expected. They were at a corner of the forest, where Bayonet Squadron mainly fought their battles. It was a battlefield of beckoning spring, with red flowers blooming. Over there were the parts of the “Juggernauts” where the three Processors died in, along with Shin and the old “Scavenger” called Fido.
It appeared Fido was made to cut fragments from the three”Juggernaut”. Blown apart, torn apart, charred. All three were to be taken back.
These were to be used as their gravestones, which were forbidden from being made.
Shin’s face would relax a little only when Fido was around. The sidelong face then froze, the bloody red eyes looking towards Saiki.
“――What are you doing here, Tateha?”
Saiki, who was questioned, walked out from the shade formed by the sun shining through the greenery. He was not intending to hide exactly, but he raised his hands as though his prank had failed.
“Since you aren’t here, that means the “Legion” won’t be here.”
If he had predicted the “Legion” would arrive, Shin would not be heading out alone. At the very least, he would not have left without saying anything.
This young Squadron leader would never do anything akin to abandoning his responsibilities.
Shin looked up at Saiki, who was still putting his hands up, and showed nary a smile.
“If they attack, I can still run away. I’m just making a trip here…we’re far into the contested area. This isn’t a place to be strolling in.”
And there’s no way you can run.
His sudden words seemed to imply so, but Saiki merely chuckled.
“Then I should be fine if I’m with you.”
Shin blinked once.
It was a reaction he would show when taken by surprise. Even though they did not know each other for long, Saiki knew this about him.
And also…it appeared those around Shin had a certain level of understanding about him, that he was somewhat immature befitting his age. He thought he had suppressed his heart, but it was not as complete as he had hoped.
Shin would never leave Saiki behind.
Saiki knew about that. He knew Shin was at risk, but came alone to the contested area.
Shin would never abandon his comrades.
He, who would never abandoned even a single dead, and would continue to embrace them in his clutches, could never leave a single living comrade behind.
That was what Saiki, looking down down Shin, thought.
Looking down, yes. Shin, standing before Saiki, was entering puberty, and was still short. Compared to Saiki, who just passed that phase years ago, he was different in terms of height and physique.
Truly, nobody would have thought of this…to leave it all to a boy younger than him.
“You said you’ll engrave the names of the dead on their unit plates, and bring them along…but you really want to have something to remember them by, and I’m the same.”
Those that did not have the combat ability to match Shin might be a burden, and could not come along.
This would apply to everyone.