Thankfully, the five Eighty-Sixers had adapted to life in the Federacy capital of Sankt Jeder, surprisingly quickly in fact.
That was what Ernst thought as he laid out the newspapers and observed the living room of his residence, where the occupants had instantly multiplied in numbers suddenly.
They were already used to the current lifestyle, but they had been detained in concentration camps and the battleship for a long time—one might say it was a slight…or rather, drastic change to them, who were isolated from contemporary civilization and thus unused to them.
“Ah, that blockhead finally called—Oy Shin! Where did you go!? Curfew’s already over!”
“You’re like a mom nagging her son, Raiden.”
”…When did you become my mom?”
Kurena naturally retorted so, and it rang in near unison as the annoyed voice from the other end of the communicator.
They were at the living room before dinner. Curfew was established very early so that they could slowly develop a habit of having meals, and the other four were seated, except for Shin who had yet to return. Theresa was busy preparing dinner in the kitchen, and Frederica was seated at a corner of the couch, unhappy as she was hungry, hugging the doll Shin bought for her days ago, looking peeved.
What was that about? Raiden cursed back, and asked again,
“So where are you now?”
“At the War Memorial.”
The teenagers did not notice the scepticism by Ernst, who unwittingly put down his papers, and they continued on with the conversation.
“So you switched off the Para-RAID?”
It was a graveyard and a museum, and it was common courtesy to switch off electronics while indoors.”
“Yeah. Found some interesting records in the library, and it’s said that the relevant info is found in the memorial hall. I asked the library staff, and learned that it’s not too far away, so I wanted to check it out.”
The library Shin spoke of was probably the Central library established by the old Empire. As the name would imply, the library was located on the central street of the capital, while the Memorial was at the outskirts. The two locations were connected by a bus line, so they were not exactly far from each other.
“I then went to check the most recent battle records, and then I encountered an unfamiliar old man.”
You’re a student? I’m touched that you’re actually here on your rest day. Actually, I participated in this battle before.
And so they chatted and chatted, as though it was a recollection of a veteran’s heroics.
Midway through, they went to a café in the memorial, and the veteran treated him to some coffee and snacks. As he narrated on, somehow, the staff members joined the audience before they knew it.
Raiden looked annoyed.
“…Ack, you should have ended that conversation somehow.”
“But it’s an interesting story. He was on the frontlines until he retired, and I learned lots of things. He always mentioned the number of enemies he put down, and the numbers just shot up. It’s quite interesting.”
Grandpa, grandma will be tied if you let her wait alone at home, the student has to go home, and the staff has to work. In the end, it was the café owner who discreetly asked for the veteran to end off.
“I see. And what thoughts do you have about this?”
“Sorry…I’ll hurry back soon. Please inform Theresa for me.”
Thuk thuk thuk, one could hear the thin layers of snow on the stone steps. It seemed he was outside the Memorial, and the boots hurried forward like a percussion, a military marching song moving rapidly.
Even at this moment, it would take Shin half an hour to return from the Memorial on bus. So Ernst thought, but Shin spoke up on the other end,
“About three hours I guess. It’s snowing, so it seems like it’ll take a longer while to return to the city center.”
“I see…so it’ll take that long? Got it. We’ll eat first. Frederica is kicking a tantrum out of hunger.”
The five, including Raiden, looked towards Ernst in shock. Shin was outdoors, and might show a different expression, but the mood on the call might be the same as it was here.
Ernst did not care about his image as he yelled,
“There’s a bus stop near the Memorial! Take the bus back! There will be one every fifteen minutes!”
The air froze.
“…It’s too much of a hassle.”
“You don’t find it aa hassle to walk for three hours, and you’re saying that it’s a hassle to walk ten minutes to a bus stop? You can ask the staff at the Memorial if you don’t know! Anyway, you’ll know where it is just by looking back!”
Sure, Shin answered so on the other end of the call as he seemed to turn around, and the footsteps that had ceased started to ring again.
“Shin, did you walk all the way from the library to the memorial…?”
“Aren’t there a lot of buses out there!? Haven’t you thought of talking one!? Anyone living in the capital can ride them for free! Didn’t I tell you when you first arrived!?”
Unexpectedly, it seemed he forgot about it.
“No biggies. I just want to train my legs. It’s just a slightly longer walk.”
“You call that training your legs!? A three hour walk isn’t a stroll anymore!”
There was a reason for that.
For a long time, they were trapped in the battlefield, piloting multi-legged combat units called “Juggernaut”, and the only two options for travel were “Juggernaut” and on foot. At this point, their “Juggernauts” were anchored in the “Legion” control area, and their only way was to travel on foot.
He also had no intention to ride the bus or the train or any similar public transportation.
Also, they had been walking for a long time, and their definition of ‘a stroll in the park’ was completely different from a Federacy citizen’s. When they arrived at Sankt Jeder, Anju once said “I want to go on a stroll”. An accompanying secretary worked as a guide, and they walked to the outskirts, went up a hill, and he could no longer take it.
It was said that the secretary (a twenty-five year old male) had his hands on his knees after climbing up to the peak of the hill, almost at his limit, and gave Anju a dumbfounded look.
It was not a bad thing to have such stamina. Walking is good for the body, and health was most important.
Nevertheless, one would easily assume it was the result of prior circumstance that a three hour walk was a ‘casual stroll’.
“You can just walk a station at most!? If you’re going that far, take the public transport! Or at least take a motorbike or a bicycle!”
Speaking of which, Raiden was working part-time at a motorbike shop, and Ernst hoped that they would realize that distance was ridiculous.
Or so he hoped, but unfortunately, Raiden too shot him an astounded look.
“I need to go a station?”
“I said it’ll take a shorter time going to a station than walking for hours! —Goodness gracious!”
Frederica was flabbergasted to hear this spiel, and one could hear Theresa clear up the shattered plates (Theo noticed and took a broom to help.) Ernst cupped his head and sighed.
Oh dear, the Republic truly bore lots of sins.
“If we ever restore diplomatic relations, can I first beat up the president of the Republic or something!?”
Even this minor dissonance in values was driving him crazy.