Well, slightly late, because Mashiro-iro Symphony's quite long and draggy. And to add on to that, Sakuno speaks slooooooooooooooooow. Still, it's worth it. Sakuno in girlfriend mode is maximum dere. And hnng.
Enough of that. Enjoy.
Just as the name suggests, this is the division that focuses on the mechanical aspects of the tower. Most of the staff here are the clerical staff or technical staff. Their main task is to develop and maintain the electronics of the Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, as well as huge sized machines like aircraft.
The Mechanical Bureau occupies the forty-eighth story to the sixty-seventh story of the Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, which is a total of twenty stories. Most of those are used for research and development of machines, and one can easily see the staff walking with the developing robots just about everywhere. It is a rather unique bureau.
Within the Mechanical Bureau.
The most outstanding place is the <<Internal Airfield>> created by combining the sixty-fifth story and the sixty-sixth story — an aviation center located within Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
The gate is located at the southern side of the floor.
Sheltis lifted his hands and broke into a cheer as the aircraft flew out of the floor and into the sky.
"That's just amazing, Iris. You see that? The consecutive take off of the two aircraft."
He could easily see giant aircraft painted in black and gold around him. Next to those were the silver mini-aircraft designed for the use of multiple people. Beside those mini-aircraft, were the unmanned scouting crafts which were giving off a loud humming sound, all raring to go.
"You seem rather happy."
"It's been a long time since I've been here. I've always loved to ride in those aircraft."
Nothing has changed.
The two flat runways in the middle of the place; the uniformed technicians who were conducting the final checks for the machines; as well as the guards in their ceremonial clothing who were watching everything. Even the broadcast which announces the liftoff times are exactly the same as before.
"Well, it's fine for you to be happy, but we're still a little too early, no? It will be a while before nine."
"...... I'm reflecting on it. I'll just grab a cup of tea, I guess."
He pointed to the corner of the floor, which consists of food vending machines surrounded by transparent glass. He slotted a coin into the container next to the automatic door, then walked to the drinks section after it opened to allow him in.
"Ara, so you'll have to pay before entering."
"It's self-service and drink-all-you-want, as long as you pay before hand...... Problem is, I don't know what I should choose."
Freshly grounded coffee, branded red tea, or citrus juice. He crossed his arms in hesitation before the table that had a wide array of jars on it. Just then—
"I'll have coffee with a teaspoon of sugar and no cream. That's the best for keeping me awake."
"Ah, Monica. Morning. How was your night?"
"...... Do you think I could sleep last night after knowing that I'll be heading off on a mission in the morning the very next day?"
As she skillfully poured the coffee into a white ceramic container, the girl with sakura-colored hair said with a slight wry smile.
"Let's not talk about that. What are the details of the mission?"
"We'll be heading to the areas near the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon> to drive out the electric faeries. We may have to get on the deck of the aircraft. Are you afraid of heights?"
Monica did not answer, but pointed to the ceiling with her index finger instead.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> itself is a extremely tall building with two hundred and ninety one stories, so it is normal to get used to the height if we're working in a place like this — perhaps that was what she was implying.
"Right, Sheltis. I have something to ask you."
As she brought the cup close to her mouth, Monica's gaze shifted upwards.
"Where did you get this mission from?"
"Aside for a small exception, most of the missions available to cadet-guards will have the takers chosen from a list of squads that volunteered. However, our mission is not listed in the records of the Law Enforcement Bureau. I am quite curious about that."
"Ohh, straight to the point. And you have actually looked it up before hand. That rigid personality of yours is really something—"
Ignoring the praises of the crystal machine <Iris>, Monica narrowed her grey eyes into slits.
"Urm...... I don't know how to explain it to you. Actually, I'm not the one who picked this mission up."
Upon being asked that question, Sheltis lifted his head to look at the clock in the shop.
"It's eight-thirty now, which is thirty minutes from the scheduled time...... Leon's a punctual guy, so he should be here soon."
"A fellow member who's doing the mission with us. I think Monica should know him as well."
The girl put on a confused expression. Just then, the mechanized doors of the shop suddenly opened.
*Ka......* Came the sounds of shoes stepping onto the hard floors.
The dining area suddenly became dead quiet in an instance, in contrast to the originally lively atmosphere. The clerical staff adjusted their ties, while the guards straightened their backs. Everyone knew that the guy in the white coat was someone who possesses an absolute position in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
"Oh, it's Leon. Speak of the devil."
"Ahh. You are unexpectedly punctual, Sheltis."
The silver-haired young man, who had a badge of the Sennenshi hanging from his left arm, said in response. As he walked towards the drinks section, Leon looked at the girl with sakura-colored hair, who was stunned motionless with the cup of coffee in her hands.
"That girl beside you, is she the one whom you told me about yesterday?"
"Yeah, I'll introduce the both of you. This is Monica—"
"W-Wait a second, Sheltis! W-W-Wha...... What's the meaning of this?"
Monica put down the cup of coffee in her hands, then proceeded to shake Sheltis hard by his collar.
"W-Whoa......! Hey...... Monica, relax for a moment!"
"How do you expect me to relax like this! Why is a Sennenshi - Captain Leon here, and why are you two that familiar with each other!? What's the meaning of this? I originally thought this was just a typical mission—"
"In any case."
Leon said that with a low voice, and directed his sight to an aircraft that was parked in the hanger.
"We'll talk there. This is not the place to be discussing about our mission."
Both Sheltis and Monica nodded obediently and unanimously under the stares of the people around them.
"So I'll summarize this — you and Captain Leon happen to know each other, and he invited you to join in the mission which will most likely involve the Govenment Sector. Right?"
"Mmm, though it's more of me being forced, rather than invited."
Monica was looking at him suspiciously. Ignoring her sharp gaze that was as if she was trying to see through his everything, Sheltis gave a nod to the Sennenshi next to him.
"Is that right, Leon?"
"Ahh, that's how it is. Your name's Monica, right? Sorry for making you join us all of a sudden, since the mission is rather urgent."
Upon being looked at by the representative great sword wielder of the continent, Monica began to fluster.
"N-No, it's fine! I've always heard about the heroics of Captain Leon...... It is my utmost honor to be able to be in the same team as you...... Hey, what are you laughing at, Sheltis?"
"No, it's seldom I get to see Monica in such a flustered state— Ah, just joking! Ouch!"
His stomach was elbowed by her. He quickly retreated backwards, to get away from the furious girl.
Just then, the sounds of moving machines came from his back.
"Seems like everything's in place."
Leon murmured as he looked at the gradually accelerating propellers.
The copper-green shock-absorbent tiled flooring vibrated gently. The lights in the cockpit of the silver aircraft blinked on.
There were fin-like wings on the streamlined chassis. It can carry up to ten people, which is about two times less compared to civilian aircraft.
"It's time, let's go—"
Leon was about to lead the pack, but he suddenly stopped in his tracks.
"Hold on. I'm receiving an incoming telepathy message."
Telepathy messages sent via shinryoku.
The only person who would send a telepathy message to a Sennenshi at a time like this is—
The person who said that name was neither Sheltis himself nor Leon, but Monica, who was originally looking at the aircraft.
The doors of the elevator which leads into the indoor airfield opened, and a black-haired girl timidly stuck her head out from behind it. She was scanning the whole place, and was obviously relieved when she managed to locate her partner.
"Syun-rei, you came here by yourself?"
"...... I'm really scared, but......"
The Priestess grabbed onto the coat of her exclusive guardian, and stuck onto him without any intention of letting go.
"What's wrong? Something happened?"
The black-haired girl is looking at— me?
"............ Ymy............ she has begun the disciplines of a Priestess."
Syun-rei looked at Sheltis' direction with those deep, transparent black eyes of hers.
"............ So, she asked me to pass this message on to you...... 'Please return safely'."
The single sentence from Ymy—
Syun-rei came all the way to a place which she is afraid of, so that she could pass those words to me?
"............ Because of the mateki...... she couldn't send the message telepathically............"
Having heard that, Sheltis could only bite hard on his lips.
Telepathy is a product of shinryoku. Even if Ymy wished to send the message telepathically, Sheltis could not receive it due to the mateki in him. Though there were instances of him receiving telepathy messages earlier, that was actually with the help of the spells that were completed with the aid of Meimel's powers.
She could not transmit the telepathy message. If so, the only thing she could do is ask someone to help pass the message on her behalf.
"...... Thanks. I got it."
That was the only time when the Priestess showed no fear on her face.
"Sennenshi Leon, and Priestess Syun-rei. Sorry to interrupt, but it is time for us to leave. There are other aircraft that are waiting in line to leave."
Monica informed us with a voice that was more emotionless than usual.
Leon nodded. Syun-rei directed her sight towards the source of the voice—
At that instance, the Priestess gave an inaudible cry.
She looked at the girl with sakura-colored hair, with her eyes opening wide in disbelieve.
"............ You...... You're......"
"It's been a long time, Priestess Syun-rei. You seem as fine as ever."
Monica stood before the Priestess, lowered her gaze, and calmly offered a bow.
"Syun-rei, do you two know each other?"
"No. It's just that I had received plenty of care from the Priestess in the past."
Monica answered Leon's question. As compared to the shaken Syun-rei, Monica's answer was of the usual stern tone.
"Priestess Syun-rei, I'll be taking my leave, as I am heading out on a mission."
She turned her back towards the Priestess, and made her way to the silver aircraft alone.
The cotton-like clouds appeared beneath them through the pressure-resistant glass. The tower scaling over two thousand meters in height could barely be seen at such a distance as well.
"...... We're finally off the ground. Ah, it should be off the tower."
After ensuring the lighting up of the indicator which signified that the aircraft has entered its predesignated airline, Sheltis stood up from his seat.
"Monica, you can get up and move around now."
"Ahh. The interior of this aircraft is quite luxurious. It's hardly comparable to the aircraft which the guards take during normal missions."
Monica stood up from her seat too, and looked about the cabin.
The floor was covered with expensive carpet, while the seats of the cabin were actually comfortable sofas. There was a huge fridge and dining table at the back, and the fridge was even filled with all sorts of ice-cold drinks.
Forget about the transports of the guards, the interiors of this aircraft is comparable to the first-class cabins of a civilian aircraft.
"There's a Sennenshi on board, so it's not that surprising for such exaggerated treatment."
"Right, where's the person himself?"
"He said 'It's training time' right before the takeoff, and went into another room by himself."
"So he can't even sit down properly during takeoff. That training maniac...... Forget it, I can't be bothered."
He returned to his seat.
"Then again, Sheltis, where are we heading to? Up till now, all I know is that we will be infringing on the airspace of the Government Sector."
"Ah, now that you've reminded me......"
"It's the eighty-seventh airspace located to the north, at about a distance of two thousand meters away from the floating continent. The aircraft has already entered mach speed and is on its scheduled path. If there is no interference on our journey, the journey will take about two and a half to three hours."
"Heh, as expected of Eyriey. So you even know how to pilot an aircraft.................. Eh?"
Sheltis blinked his eyes, and rubbed hard on his eyelids.
The person who appeared before him, was the girl in overalls whom he could not be more familiar with.
"Yuto, it's on autopilot, so you can come to the passenger cabin now. Are you thirsty? There should be some fruit juice in the fridge over there."
"Yay— Yuto can drink whatever she likes? Does Shel-nii want a drink as well?"
"Ah, I've just had some back at the shop on the sixty-fifth story.................. no wait a second!"
He sprang himself up from his seat after giving out a yell of surprise.
"Why are Eyriey and Yuto here!"
"Why, because I am the captain of this aircraft! And oh, Yuto's the co-pilot."
The girl crossed her arms and answered him as a matter of factly.
"Yup. Yuto said to me sometime ago, 'Eyri-nee, there's someone looking for us', and so we went to the fifty-ninth story of the tower...... It's a place called the Mechanical Bureau, I think? We went to the aviation division there. Once there, I was immediately surrounded by a group of middle-aged men who seemed to be pretty high ranked, and they asked me things like, 'Do you have any experience with flying? How long have you been flying?'. After giving them some answers, I was somehow made the captain of this aircraft."
"Yuto brought you there?"
Perhaps she was shocked by the sudden mention of her name - Yuto looked at them in confusion with a cup in her hands.
"No, Yuto's not quite sure what happened herself. I think we were stopped by an unknown lady while we were strolling in the tower. Seems like that person used her influence on the Mechanical Bureau and made them assign me as the pilot of this mission. Who is she exactly though? Yuto can't remember as well. I remember her name's Tsa...... something. Does Sheltis have any idea who she may be?"
"That's her name? I can't quite think of anyone with that little information either."
Since they were on an aircraft chartered for Sennenshi Leon, there is no allowance for any incident to happen. The higher-ups of the Mechanical Bureau should have prudently chosen the pilot for the mission - however, there was someone who possessed an absolute power that overrides the decision of the higher-ups, and forcefully assigned an unknown Eyriey into the position instead. Even a Priestess or a Sennenshi may not be able to show such an absolute display of power...... So who exactly was that person?
"That Tsa...... whatever. Does Eyriey know of such a person in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>?"
"How can that be? Yuto said she was a very tall lady with black hair, but that's too little info to work on. Or rather, I don't have a friend in the Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> who fits that description."
"...... I guess."
She should not be lying.
Knowing Eyriey's personality, she dislikes hiding things from people. More importantly, he never saw any signs of her being related with the Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> for the past two years in 'The Two Swans <Albiero>'.
"Eyriey didn't reject them then? Don't you think it's a little too strange?"
"Totally not. For me, this is an excellent chance for me to earn some quick cash. And since I saw your name in the list of passengers, I decided to give it a try."
"...... I see."
Eyriey might not know it, but that group was following the secret orders of the Queen. As such, it is very difficult to imagine them delegating an ordinary person to pilot the aircraft for this mission. But Eyriey...... and there's Yuto too. The two of them joined, which means that there should be someone who agreed to allow them to be part of the mission as well.
— If so, whose idea was it? The Queen's, perhaps?
"Sheltis, why did you suddenly stop talking? Can't we tag along?"
Just as he was thinking about all those questions, Eyriey stuck her head into his sight.
"Ah...... No, that's not what I meant."
He did not understand the reason for such an arrangement. The only unease he had, was the possibility of Eyriey or Yuto getting themselves into some sort of danger.
— Then again, it's not like the two of them can head back to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> anyway.
"...... Ugh— Though there's still a lot of things to be suspicious about, there's no point in thinking about them for now. I'll leave everything in your care, Captain. Please don't crash the aircraft."
"How rude— flying an aircraft is way easier than driving an electric vehicle."
Eyriey planted her hands on her waist and puffed her cheeks in anger. Monica, who was looking on from the sides this whole time, suddenly stood up slowly from her seat.
"Sheltis, are they your friends?"
"Yeah, I'll do an introduction. Hmm......"
Just as he was about to speak, Eyriey walked up to Monica by herself.
"Hi, nice to meet you. I'm Eyriey, and somehow I was made the pilot of this aircraft. This girl's Yuto. How about you?"
"Monica. Monica Esperanto. I'll be in your care."
Monica readily shook the outstretched hands of Eyriey.
"...... You fine with this?"
Monica asked in return. Sheltis whispered into her ears,
"Though it is slightly rude for me to be saying this, but don't you feel uneasy for such a girl to be in control of the aircraft, especially when we are in such an important mission?"
"Isn't this fine? It will be the era of female pilots in the future."
The girl crossed her arms and nodded her head in satisfaction.
"...... Seems like you've misunderstood what I'm trying to say. Alright, forget it."
"It's pretty noisy outside. What's going on?"
With his training done a short while ago, a sweaty Leon stuck his head out of the opening of the door.
"Oh, Leon? Thanks for just now. You're done with your training?"
"Yeah. I can't be dragging a tired body around during the missions, can I?"
Eyriey lifted her hand to greet him, while Leon nodded his head in reply.
"Right, how's the piloting of the aircraft?"
"Leave it all to me. It's almost fully automated, so even Yuto will know how to pilot it. Right~?"
Eyriey, Yuto and Leon. As he watched the three of them interacting with one another—
...... Hold on, could it be......?
"Eyriey, so you already know Leon...... that's impossible, right?"
"What are you talking about? Of course we know each other. Moreover, I've already made friends with Syun-rei. She said she'd invite me for tea next time."
Eyriey and Yuto nodded their head calmly.
"Leon, she's telling the truth?"
"Yeah. It happened yesterday during the introduction to the captain of the aircraft."
Leon as the Sennenshi, along with the two Priestesses, Ymy and Syun-rei.
They are people possessing absolute positions in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, and will easily cause uneasiness to just about anyone whom they pass by. However, Eyriey got close to them easily.
"Somehow, I've discovered a shocking talent of Eyriey's."
"I am deeply impressed with her exceptional communication skills. In contrast, Sheltis is totally like a bad example...... Oops, my tongue slipped."
"You did that deliberately, right!?"
Just as he was about to argue with the crystal machine <Iris>.
The alarms on the ceiling released a sharp ear-piercing sound, together with the flashes of red light.
"There's a malfunction to the controls. It's caused by the strong magnetic fields in the nearby airspace...... Seems like they've finally shown themselves. I think we've entered the turf of the electric faeries."
Eyriey released the cup in her hands and stood up quickly.
— Electric faeries.
They are a type of faerie that look like cotton candy, and live within the seas of clouds. Though the amount of charge stored in each individual is weak, they are known to gather in a huge area by the hundreds. If the area overlaps with the aviation route of an aircraft, they will cause malfunctions to the vehicle.
"Right, shall we stick to the original plan?"
"Ahh, please do."
"Understood! Well then, Sheltis and Monica, please return to your seats, and fasten your safety belts."
Sheltis was wondering if he heard the girl's instructions correctly.
"Leon, ain't we heading to the deck? I mean, we're going to subjugate the electric faeries, so we'll have to hurry. Or else this aircraft won't hold."
"That's fine. The pilot and the manual pilot function has been arranged specially for this reason."
Eyriey said that nonchalantly. Monica was looking from behind with a confused expression as well. She looked out of the aircraft through the windows.
"What's going on?"
"This aircraft is about to deliberately come under the attacks of the electric faeries. Isn't that right?"
The one who answered was the crystal machine <Iris>.
"There's a lot of things that don't seem to fit, in regards to our current mission. Though we are entering the airspace of the Government Sector, there's no need for the Sennenshi to leave the side of his Priestess just so he can participate in this mission. On the other hand, this mission is so important that all the Priestesses, including Ymy, knew about it before hand. If so, aside from subjugating the electric faeries, there must be another mission behind this facade. And that is—"
"To investigate the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>."
Leon was the first to take his seat and fasten his seat belt securely.
"Sorry I didn't tell you guys about it sooner. It was the Queen's order not to, so as to prevent the leaking of information. I could only tell you guys that we are on a mission to subjugate the electric faeries, till we have arrived at our destination."
"Ah, I see. That's fine...... But."
Sheltis crossed his arms, and suddenly closed his eyes.
— There was still something which he could not understand.
There's nothing strange about a secret mission hidden behind the front of another mission. It is especially so for the cadet-guards - since they are not viewed as official members of the guards, it's common for them to be hidden from the truth throughout missions. In fact, it's quite rare for them to be informed about the real objectives.
However, Queen Salah had personally ordered Leon to conduct an investigation on the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>?
"Is it really okay to be investigating the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon> located in the airspace of the Government Sector? In principle, Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> and the Government Sector will never infringe on each other's airspace. However, the Queen herself is about to break the unwritten rule......"
"I'm not sure. I was only informed of the mission details, but not of the objectives for doing so."
"...... So Captain Leon doesn't know the objectives of this mission either. Is that even possible?"
With her hands touching on the pressure-resistant glass window, Monica turned her head around to look at them. With that, Leon answered in a calm tone,
"I've received only one order - to investigate the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon> that's within the airspace of the Government Sector. They may protest us infringing on them, but if we are to stage a crash-landing due to a malfunction, they probably would not blow the matter out of proportion. There's no other orders received other than that. I am also contemplating on what I should be investigating after we arrive on the island."
"Then we don't even have an idea on where to start."
They were instructed to investigate the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>, but they were not told what to investigate.
The person who gave them such an unreasonable request was actually the Queen herself — it sounds unbelievable, even if that came straight from Leon's mouth.
"To be honest, I wasn't really eager to accept this mission. One of the reasons is because I'll have to leave Syun-rei by herself in the Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. More importantly though, is the fact that this mission is extremely shady. I planned to take a quick look around, then head back to the tower."
"I agree. Well then, how are we going to stage the emergency landing—"
"No worries. Being attacked by the electric faeries is just an excuse that we'll be using on the Government Sector when we return. Since we'll have to cook up a damage report for the aircraft, it's enough for us to receive a single attack from them. There's no need to force a real emergency landing."
"Ahh, that's great. I thought we are gonna make the whole aircraft do a crash landing."
"Stop talking nonsense. Now get back to your seat quickly."
Alright— just as his hand came into contact with the back of his seat.
*Zaa* A flash of electricity streaked past the other side of the pressure-resistant glass window. It looked like an intimidation from the electric faeries.
The aircraft shook, and began to tilt. In the next instance, the sirens rang from above the ceilings yet again, along with the flashes of red light.
— Damage report, control functions to the left wing has hit 110% off the normal readings.
— Damage report, abnormality detected in the engines. Reason: electric overload due to high voltages.
"Damage to the wings, as well as stopping the engines. Aside from the warnings on display, she also added in voice warnings. It seems so real."
"Yeah, I never instructed her to make it so real. It's totally similar to the mock training we had back in the Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>."
Monica was looking out of the windows calmly. As for Leon, he seemed really impressed.
"Sheltis, I heard you know Eyriey from when you were in the living sector?"
"Mmm, we were working together in the living sector. She is really well versed when it comes to machines, to the point where she is on par with the technicians at Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>."
*Bang* — the doors to the captain's cabin opened.
"Ah, Eyriey. We were just talking about your wonderful achievements—"
Strange? Did she not hear that properly? Eyriey is not responding.
Just as he was thinking that,
"...... Sorry, but I have bad news for everyone here today."
She turned around, and continued speaking.
"Urm— actually, I was overly confident, and I rushed straight into the cluster of electric faeries, and that caused them to get angry. They are currently attacking us in full force, which means—"
Eyriey closed one of her eyes uncharacteristically and made a face.
"The report on how the aircraft is heading downwards is not a simulation, but they are actually real. Which means, this aircraft will definitely crash...... Ehehe."
"Hold on a second———!?"
Aside from Yuto who was still unaware of their current situation, the rest of the people had all jumped up from their seats.
"...... Ahh, the skies are still as beautiful as ever."
"Eyriey, stop running away from reality! What should we do now?"
"Nothing else but to take a stroll in the sky. Here, take a parachute. Yuto will be coming with me."
After putting a child-parachute onto Yuto, Eyriey secured Yuto's parachute onto her own via a special cable.
"Is it okay for Yuto to be with you? How about leaving her with me instead?"
"What are you talking about? Just leave everything to me. Think about who's the one who made this parachute."
"After hearing that from you, I'm feeling even more uneasy now"
He unwillingly put on the parachute that Eyriey claimed she made. He then took a quick glance at the scenery beneath them through the windows.
The blue skies from a while ago had already disappeared, only to be replaced by an endless stretch of dark green.
It's the destination of their journey — the primeval forests of the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>.
"Well then, get ready."
Eyriey disengaged the escape door to the side of the aircraft.
The doors slowly opened. The winds outside came gushing into the cabin.
"If we jump now, we should be able to land somewhere on the floating island. Let's meet up with those that are closest to us after we've hit the ground. We'll be heading off, Yuto. Yaaahoo—!"
Eyriey and Yuto jumped off the aircraft with an excited cry.
Their bodies appeared smaller and smaller...... suddenly, a bright orange parachute appeared. Upon seeing the two of them slowly floating downwards like a dandelion, Sheltis couldn't help but slap his chest in relief.
"That's great. So long as the parachute can open safely, both of them should be fine."
"Alright, you're next, Sheltis."
Before he could even prepare himself, Sheltis was given a hard kick on his back
"Leon——— You better remember this———————!"
Sheltis made his endless plunge down from the blue skies, head first towards the ground.