It occurred on the Friday three days after the entrance ceremony, when the new students had gotten somewhat accustomed to their lifestyle in the special forces.
Just when they were about to change to mathematics class, an 『UUUUUuuuuuuuu！』sound began reverberating throughout the school.
「Da heck’s that!?」
「Be quiet, all of you sit down in your seats」
Ooma reprimanded the restless D-Class students to calm them down.
But the resounding avalanche-like footsteps of severals tens of students from another class running in the corridor made them unable to do so.
「What the heck is that, Sensei!?」
「That’s why I said be quiet and sit in your seats, it’s just the alarm for the movement of the CE」
Hearing those words, not only Eisuke, but almost all the students’ faces paled.
「Isn’t that a serious matter!? It’s time for us to fight——」
「I said BE QUIET (creak)」
Ooma had once again put Eisuke’s neck in a sleeper hold as he tried to dash out of the classroom in a hurry.
Although he had jumped to the wrong conclusion, in recognition of his willingness to fight the enemy, the grapple was 20 percent weaker than usual.
「Listen, the alarm that’s ringing right now due to the CE attack is the signal for the dispatch of the 2nd and 3rd year students. All of you first years who haven’t even began your group combat training will be house-sitting right here since you’ll only be a nuisance on the battlefield」
Surveying the students with sharp a look, Ooma’s strong tone ensured that noone could argue about the fact presented to them.
Sixty percent of the D-class were feeling relieved at the fact that there was no need for them to fight, and thirty percent were pouting in dissatisfaction at the fact that they couldn’t fight.
Ooma smiled happily to the other ten percent who sat and listened to his reasoning attentively.
「Even though I said they’re coming, it doesn’t mean that they’re coming as far as right in front of this place. They just came as far as the outskirts of the shallow valley, which is the defense line」
After saying that he closed his textbook and began preparing the projector and laptop.
「Since it’s just the right time for it, let’s observe a raid to see how to cope with a CE attack」
The projector light shining upon the blackboard formed an image of a flock of humans running, but the image shook in a strange fashion.
「When the ACE troops are dispatched, they’ll wear headsets with a built-in communication device and camera. This sortie video was taken somewhere around three years ago」
Wearing large headphone-like equipment, the upperclassman wearing the phantom converter on their wrist was running to the hangar at the side of the school building with fluid movements, then entered one of the flying vehicles ready for take-off inside.
「Uhm, are we going to sortie in our uniforms？」
Hinata raised her hand and asked a question after looking at the upperclassmen who entered the vehicle with the very same school uniform they were wearing right now.
「That’s right, there’s no difference between a camouflaged jacket and a jersey. If you’re not wearing Phantom Material Armor, then nothing else will protect you from a CE attack.」
Contrary to what he says, as long as they’re wearing Phantom Material Armor, the ACE troops can fight even if they’re nude.
「Even so, it’s better to wear uniforms that are easy to move in, right?」
「There’s already a change of clothes prepared according to the number of people in the vehicle for that purpose. And we’ll be changing our clothes on the way to the site」
All the troops then will sortie after changing their clothes, it’s natural since it’s faster that way. But—.
「We’ll change our clothes with boys in front of us ？」
「――!!?（GATA*）」 [TL : SFX for falling chair, maybe]
Souji silently tapped on Eisuke’s slightly risen shoulder from behind.
「They only put on pants and change their jackets, so there’s no way we’ll be able to see their underwear」
「Ah, that’s right」
It’s not just Eisuke, all the boys secretly clicked their tongues.
「Are~~, was the punishment still not enough~？」
But, after undergoing the punishment for their attempt to peep a few days ago, they all had no choice but to shut their mouths.
「Though this is a decision to be made in the far future, the class will be divided into three teams consisting of 12 people for the vanguard or rearguard, operating as a 『Squad』 and becoming one group during the mission」
To put it in military terms, a class of 40’s three Squads make a『Platoon』, the Platoons in a single year combined are a single 『Troop』, and the combined Troops of the first, second, and third years become a 『Battallion』.
Though, since this is the first year that there is a first, second and third year, the ACE troops have finally completed their battalion.
「In the middle of boarding the vehicles every squad is on the same standing. In addition, the group training that’ll be scheduled from now on is performed with the members of your squad. So choose members that you getting along with from now on, otherwise… 」
What awaits you is a hell—is what he said without saying anything, giving them silent advice without opening his mouth.
「Bratheer, we’re BFFs right!?」
Eisuke was clinging to Souji with teary eyes but, Souji was a bumpkin who didn’t even know the adolescent lingo from ten years ago.
「Yeah yeah, it’s okay, we’ll be in the same team, right」
Hinata comforted Kanna, the loner clinging to her, and then the homeroom teacher clapped his hands to calm the class which become quite noisy.
「Be quiet, the finalization of the squads is still one month away. Now look at the video and grasp how to move in a battle, even if just a little」
Saying so, the students looked back at the blackboard. The troops were currently moving toward the Karuizawa ward inside armored vehicles, a journey which could only be described as tedious.
「Are these all third year students? Their faces are more relaxed than I expected」
The six third year students sitting opposite one another were having a friendly chat between themselves, lacking the tension on their faces which would indicate that they’d be going into a battlefield after this.
But, even that cheerfulness was a necessary disposition for a soldier.
「If they were tense everyday they would only be crushed under their heavy stress. Being able to switch like that is necessary even after they graduate」
「Even after graduation… that must be tough」
「Don’t lose your focus」
Ooma threw his chalk, accurately hitting Eisuke’s forehead with Mjolnir-like power.
「By the way, they’ll be arriving soon」
Once they had finished chatting about useless matters, the armored vehicle came to a stop and the upperclassman quickly disembarked from it.
The camera caught the view of the famous Karuizawa summer resort, the scenery of the Miyota-ward of Nagano prefecture.
The location was a town with many fields. a golf course and an old temple. Though the countryside was deserted, the town was wrapped in a calm and serene atmosphere.
But, that was a story from more than six year ago.
Currently the surface of Miyota city surface is scorched.
It was become like that due to repeated battle against the CE, leaving only traces of destruction by flames and lead bullets.
It had already been broadcasted on television several times, and could be watched many times on the internet.
Even so, the current scene they saw through the third year students’ point of view was enough to make them feel both anger and fear.
「I won’t tell you to get used to it, but now you need to observe the movements of your upperclassmen」
Ooma switched to a different image on the projector while soothing his angry students with some rarely heard tender words.
The snapshots of Miyota city captured by satellites showed that on the west side, getting closer in the direction of Matsumoto city of Nagano prefecture, existed the Pillar surrounded by glittering things.
The enemy of humanity, with it’s mysterious crystal-like body, was thus called the Crystal Enemy[CE].
The moment it entered their field of vision, all of the upperclassmen moved simultaneously.
『Shooting Corps, to the front』
Coming out to the front line were students wielding javelins, ballistas, and legendary bows and arrows.
And then, after the CE entered their firing distance, an order to fire came.
The illusory arrows, bullets and spears tore through the air with certain-kill precision, and penetrated the shining red orb located at the center of the CE positioned in the vanguard.
「That red orb is their weak point, their『Core』. The CE can’t be stopped as long as that core isn’t destroyed」
In the middle of Ooma’s explanation, each of the fired legendary weapons pierced the crystal body.
But, there were just too many CE advancing. Even if their numbers were decreased by half, the troops had already used up their ammunition.
「The Shooting-type Phantom Weapons consume the ability of the Phantom Material Armor the more they are fired until it loses it’s ability to maintaining the Phantom Material Armor[PMA]*. The users of the Shooting-type weapons should take extra caution」[TL : the simpled version should be Shield Energy from IS]
Sitting next to Souji, Itsuki who was a slingshot user nodded with a serious expression.
『SHIELD USERS, TO THE FRONT！ 』
The Firing squad retreated behind the shield users who just came forward.
「The Phantom Weapon[PW] of Shield type is far more durable than PMA, able to block several dozen CE attacks. They’re always standing on the frontline to protect their allies, and as such it’s the most important position with the greatest dangers. Always keep that in mind」
Despite being a shield user, the timid Kanna stood behind Hinata.
The upperclassmen reflected in the camera were silently waiting for the approaching CE.
「Though I’ve told you before, the CE’s attack range is short and only reaches 30 metres. So it’s easier to wait for them to come rather than exhausting your stamina by charging at them」
Even if they understood that, maybe it was due to their tension toward the slowly approaching enemies.
To the allies who were unable to restrain themselves from charging at the enemies, the person who’s giving out the command commanded them to wait patiently.
『NOT YET, DON’T BE IMPATIENT, LET THEM ADVANCE A BIT MORE』
「Un ？ This voice…」
The moment Souji pondered about that voice, the close quarter combat finally raised its curtains.
『NOW, ALL MEMBERS CHARGEEEE！』
『『『UOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ——– ！ 』』』
The upperclassmen simultanously charged forward while raising a deafening roar.
The shield users ran to the battlefield as the vanguard, and the moment they crossed the 30 metre distance the CE simultaneously fired red beams of light.
Though the attacks had the timing and precision of a machine, they were easily blocked by the legendary shields while scattering countless sparks.
And then, in the small gap before the next wave of attacks, the stars of the ACE troops instantly launched their attack.
Legendary swords, axes, spears, mallets, released the thundering noise of lightning and blazing fires which easily penetrated, pulverized, and bisected the crystal bodies.
In this place was the scenery of a gruesome and primitive battlefield of humans who abandoned guns and gunpowder.
「A CE attack is dangerous but, it’s can’t shoot its laser beam again for around 5 second after the previous attack. You won’t survive unless you carve that timing into your body」
Maybe due to its intellegence, the second row of CE never fired their laser beams to avoid cases of friendly fire.
Thanks to that the assault of the CQC squad never received any decisive counter attacks and brought certain death to the opponents before them.
Though it’s not like they can avoid attacks that come at lightspeed.
The axe user fighting on the frontline unfortunately received concentrated fire, causing a piercing alarm to resound from their converter.
『Fujimura, please leave the frontline at once！ Kawano, take Fujimura’s place on the frontline！ 』
Without causing disorder in the middle of the melee, the axe user retreated from the frontline precisely and with some leeway.
Souji’s question was finally answered after hearing that voice.
「The one that gave the order, the person in this camera is Reika-senpai」
「WHAAAAaaAaaaaaa ————- T!?」
Eisuke unintentionally screamed after hearing that shocking truth.
A little different from the time they met in the dining room, though they were a bit late in noticing it since her voice was louder due to enhancement, there’s no doubt that it was the voice of that hunk girl, Sakiyama Reika.
「What, you already know her？ Yeah, the person in this video was Sakiyama」
「Iyaa, though I’m surprised, why is that hunk commanding!?」
When being asked that question, Ooma showed a somewhat mystified expression.
「Why you say, it’s because Sakiyama is essentially the commander, she’s the squad leader of the 3rd years A class. Didn’t you know that already? 」
「How the heck would we know about that！」
Eisuke scream was followed by all member of D class nodding their head.
「A class you say, why the heck would that hunk eat her meal along with US!?」
「Certainly, though the A class is being provided with special meals, there’s no rules saying that they can’t eat together with you」
「Moreover, she’s the commander of the 3rd years, doesn’t that mean that she’s the strongest in the school!?」
「Nope, she’s not the strongest, that’d be the leader of the battalion, the student council president. But, the student council president has a better disposition with PW[Phantom Weapon], and since he’s charging alone without involving anyone, the whole command was fall into Sakiyama」
Either way, there’s no doubt that she’s one of the top in the school.
「That person, is the commander of the A class …?」
「It’s the appearance of strong rival-desune~~？」
Even with Kokoa teasing her, Hinata wasn’t a in state to hear that with her pale face.
「She’s an amazing person right」
Souji who doesn’t seem to be surprised by it looked at the video while nodding to Itsuki.
In the scene that was reflected from Reika’s camera, the CE quickly dwindled in number until they killed the last one, and the enemy of humanity was scattered on the ground and turned into many broken fragments.
『Battle ended, second group may return to the base as it is』
『Roger, thank you very much』
Saying their gratitude to Kyoko, the upperclassmen began their preparation to return while staying vigilant.
「The operation has yet to end. In the last few years, the CE only dispatched small units just like this one, in the end if we don’t start training from now, we can’t develop battalions like that of six years ago. Thus for that sake, we’ll be at each others throat just like now」
In additon to Ooma’s explanation, the identity of that hunk, Reika was a devastating blow, which caused most of the D class students to miss Ooma’s explanation.
「How are you surprised with something at that level?」
While being perplexed, Ooma showed a new image from his PC.
It’s a satellite photograph taken from the sky, taken from an area which is separated by about 200 km to the southwest from Nagoya, Gunma.
「Currently, the CE didn’t make any movement progress in eastern Japan, so naturally some of them are moving toward western Japan. This is the image of the SDF from one month ago」
Nakagawa city of Gifu prefecture, more than 30 km to the east of Nagoya.
Similar to Miyota city, all of it’s people have vanished and its buildings have burned down to turn this place into a wasteland, where the CE were moving slowly in a group.
Suddenly, clouds of dust rose along with numerous thundering noises and CE crystals were smashed and fluttering in the middle of the air.
「FH70・155㎜ class artillery bullet、 in addition type-99 self propulsion are fired when the 155㎜ makes contact with the enemy’s body」
In the middle of the explanation, the bombardment continued to demolish the CE into dust.
「Hieeeeeee~~, if that’s not used to us*」 [TLC* : ひぇ～、これならワテら用なしやん]
「Yeah, thank god it didn’t」
Amongst Eisuke’s group who were watching attentively, the borbardment which caused the clouds of dust stopped.
What appeared from it was scattered crystal on the ground like broken glass, a red globe still shining amongst it.
「Is it not dead？」
「Yeah, the CE won’t stop their activity unless their core is destroyed. And then, with the existence of barrier-like things which strongly protect the core, they’re indestructible and a normal bombardment will only destroy it’s outer shell」
Though they can see many scattered cores lost their light, which meant that the bombardment wasn’t a complete failure.
「After closing the distance with tanks, though the cores can’t be missed at close range while surrounded, pay attention to the next scene* 」 [TLC* : あとは戦車で接近し、外さないよう至近距離からコアを破壊して回るのだが、この時が一番気を使う]
Ooma operated his PC, and displayed the image of the scattered and half buried CE cores.
「This is for the sake of investigating our enemies, watch what happens to a core which is left alone」
In the video which was fastforwarded at 100 times speed, in the surroundings where there were no CE and only the core was left, it released a sparkling light and gave a birth to new CE.
「That’s right, as long as the core isn’t destroyed, the CE will regenerate no matter how many times it’s destroyed.」
And will attack people each time.
「That’s why, no matter what it’s takes, the core must be destroyed. Missing it because it’s buried in the earth… it’ll turn into a disaster if it’s unknowingly buried underground due to a tank」
The SDF members took a look at the remains of the tank bombardment and carefully examined the ground’s surface.
「After they descend from the tank and carefully examine the ground, they receive the attack from the core, and now they’re beyond recovery. That’s a painful and dangerous mission」
「Moreover, the high-explosive projectile priced at more than 20000 yen each and is used up at around 200 shells per mission. The tank ammo for sweeping, fuel, and it’s maintenance cost… wouldn’t that make you frustrated」
「How many millions is the total sum for all of it … 」
CE movement happens several times a year.
Just thinking about how much funding and resources are lost along with them would make anyone perplexed, not to mention the Minister of Finance.
「Isn’t that the reason why the tax increased by 12%?」
「It’ll become 15% soon」
「It can’t be helped, it’s due to the growing cost for importing the raw material for weapons and ammunition」
Ooma also sighed and apologized while rebuking Eisuke.
Other countries were who were fighting a long battle against the CE were also being tormented by the chronic shortage of raw material.
There’s no idiotic country who’d happily sell the material cheaply to the country who’s asking it while their own country suffers from a shortage of parts.
Even if their prices have increased by who knows how much since the appearance of the CE, the current Japan has no choice but to clench their teeth to buy it.
「We need money for war, if we don’t want to get ourselves destroyed by the CE, we have no choice but to pay that money. And though I feel bad for saying this, you, ladies and gentlemen of ACE are extremely CHEAP」
Choosing suitable people from the whole country, the cost of producing Phantom Converters[PC*], even including various costs of equipment, vehicles, and school building, won’t even take one-tenth of the amount of money being used by the SDF.
Above all, they’ve no need for consumable goods like various kinds of ammo, self propelled artillery, or tanks, s\o there’s no need to worry about the shortage of raw material.
「6 years since the first CE movements, the Japan which was being tormented by the shortage of material from the beginning could finally survive rather nicely, right?」
SDF equipment, all of them were receiving an extreme drop in quality, since they’re currently using everything they can use.
At the present time, to protect everything, though many inhabitants feel relieved since there’s no invasion towards the center of the capital, that’s nothing but a big fat lie which is being spread widely to avoid a chaotic situation.
Once the CE invade a metropolis like Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka and any of them collapse, the country called Japan will likely be erased from the map.
「We’ve had to face defeat although we always claim victory. No one but you ladies and gentlemen of ACE can stop this trend. I really wish that you’ll engrave this deep in your heart」
The usually strict Ooma voiced his praise to them.
Though it seemed like encouragement and flattery, they still felt happy and the student let out cramped smiles.
The bell resounded at the same time so Ooma left the classroom after tidying the projector.
Thus Souji missed his chance to ask a question.
（If we’re being driven this far, why not just destroy the pillar— No, could it be that it’s indestructible？）
That huge crystal pillar, a base-like existence which created endless amounts of CE.
If they can destroy that, they can put an end to this unproductive defensive battle.
Anyone who has had that kind of thought would definitely want to try that.
But, even when the battle dragged until now, that tactic ended in failure.
What’s the reason for that? Even if for example he asked that, maybe Ooma would answer that he also didn’t know to Souji.