This page aims to provide a detailed plot summary of each of the chapters in Phase 1.
Song titles are in bold only when they are played for the first time.
- 1 Prologue
- 2 Chapter 1: Battle Standard Festival
- 3 Chapter 2: The Athletes Arrive
- 4 Chapter 3: It's a Wrap Public Bath
- 5 Chapter 4: Parallel Processors
- 6 Chapter 5: Vier Dreissig
- 7 Chapter 6: An Identity Confusion Violation
- 8 Chapter 7: The Three Kings
- 9 Chapter 8: The Third Aptitude
- 10 Chapter 9: Monster Party
- 11 Chapter 10: Simultaneous Global Conflicts
- 12 Chapter 11: The Guardians of Peace
- 13 Chapter 12: A Gift
- 14 Chapter 13: Proof of a Program
- 15 Chapter 14: The Value and True Weight of Peace
- 16 Chapter 15: Forming a Chivalric Order
- 17 Chapter 16: It's a Wrap Public Lust?
- 18 Chapter 17: Don't Die, Don't Kill
- 19 Chapter 18: God's Scenario
- 20 Chapter 19: Simultaneous Global Truce and Terror
- 21 Chapter 20: Disaster Utopia
- 22 Chapter 21: The Dignity of Returning to Dust
- 23 Chapter 22: The Second Simultaneous Global Truce
- 24 Chapter 23: Revolt of the Drones
- 25 Chapter 24: A Kids' Meal of Natural Disasters
- 26 Chapter 25: The Hour of the Prophecy
- 27 Epilogue
- 28 Trivia
The story opens with a propaganda video for the recruitment of new Gauntlet Knights from the AOU's children, which showcases the abilities of the Gauntlet Knights in a very bombastic fashion.
The video shows the Gauntlet used in action by a boy soldier. Upon whistle cues, he floats off the ground and flies around an airstrip at will. The narration tells the audience that these Gauntlets give soldiers the mobility and speed of the best fighter jets, while the Anti-G 8MS in their bodies are able to ease the g-forces on their bodies. The scene switches to a camera pursuit from a plane, and the soldier proceeds to demonstrate "ricochet flying" by rapidly changing his trajectory in mid-flight without losing speed. Because of this, the fire control system is unable to target the Gauntlet Knight. Despite such ability, Gauntlet Knights are shown to not be restricted in take-off and landing, being able to do so anywhere a human can stand.
The video then showcases the Gauntlet's firepower capabilities. Due to the Dimension Container System, Gauntlet Knights are able to carry a tremendous amount of weaponry with them, sometimes up to the amount of an attack carrier. After this, the video shows off the unique Rejection Shield system of the Gauntlets, which can easily deflect a barrage of bullets from a spot in front of the Gauntlet Knight. The scene shifts to show the boy make it through an explosion unharmed due to the Rejection Shield. The video finally closes with the narration calling the Gauntlet Knights the future of military warfare, and calling young boys and girls to join them as Gauntlet Knights.
An old officer compliments the video, but suggests that it be made shorter and flashier. The other officers bring up the duration regulations but also show deference to his authority. Okonogi watches the scene and cynically criticizes the video in his mind. The Gauntlet Knight capabilities were still theoretical, and the video had exaggerated the contraption's abilities while omitting its shortfalls. The eyes of the boy in the video had ruptured after the excessive ricochet flying, and he was rendered unconscious. The Dimension Container was also prone to malfunctioning when opened, causing immediate explosions. The Rejection Shields too had only become stable recently, and still had issues when used while flying at high speeds. Still, he comments that the propaganda video would be effective for recruitment, and decides that the technology would more or less end up only used in simulations anyway.
The old officer asks about the boy in the video, hoping to meet him and give his career a boost. Okonogi however tells him that the boy perished in the line of duty, and his narration notes that the boy had actually been killed during the explosion scene due to messing up on the deployment of his shield, likely because of overwork. The video was thus edited in order to cover up this fact.
As a secretary guides the old officer to a car, he comments on the fact that Miyao, a Gauntlet Knight from AOU Japan, will be representing the AOU during the upcoming International Battle Standard Festival. Okonogi expresses his cynicism that the skinny boy is acting as their representative.
- Strategy Meeting [Imagawa Akito Ver] (The video plays)
- Welcome to A3W (The officer wants the video to be cut down)
Chapter 1: Battle Standard Festival
Super Tokyo Tower
Miyao stands wearing a Gauntlet on the top of the Super Tokyo Tower, 666 meters above the ground. He takes a deep breath and steps off the edge, plummeting down in freefall. The instant before he smashes into the ground, Miyao changes his trajectory to a right angle, leaving a white phosphorescence like angel feathers at the position he ricocheted off from. As Miyao passes through the city, he describes the sights of A3W Tokyo, which had a 19th century architectural feel to it. The trains seemed to run on a steam engine, but their source of fuel was the newly discovered fuel Spiritium, which exceeded the capabilities of nuclear power. It expels large clouds of mist when used. Despite his misgivings about society, Miyao is thankful for his ability to fly freely like this.
Keropoyo, the frog mascot of the Selcom, appears in the corner of Miyao's mental display to inform him that a friend is nearby. Miyao's partner "Supergenius" Jayden shows up to tease him over the mental display, and offers to compete against him. Miyao begrudgingly agrees, and the two register each other as hostile, locating each other through their Reaper's Eyes.
They begin circling the Miyu Spiritium building. Miyao makes the first move, launching a burst of guided missiles towards Jayden, whose trajectories could be individually controlled by him. He then immediately summons a massive gatling gun and fires it off to intercept Jayden's missiles heading towards him. Jayden similarly intercepts Miyao's missiles.
Jayden changes tactics and bursts through the 58th floor of the building, which is a single observation deck restaurant. Miyao barely manages to dodge Jayden's attempt to slam into him, but the sudden trajectory change consumes almost all the Anti-G 8MS in his body. While waiting to recharge, he is left unable to do anything but freefall straight down. Jayden takes advantage of this and aims a .50 caliber heavy machine gun at him, and Keropoyo proceeds to mock Miyao's predicament.
Taking advantage of Jayden's attention being focused on him, Miyao summons a missile in freefall directly above Jayden, set to explode after a few seconds delay. Jayden manages to activate his Rejection Shield in time, and comments that Miyao had probably expected this and deployed the missile knowing the shrapnel would also hit himself at this close of a range otherwise. The two then rapidly charge at each other.
Upon collision, the two of them are left in freefall. However, due to Miyao's shorter stature, only Jayden's arm was able to hit the other person. Miyao cries out in frustration over this, exclaiming that he hated this arm and would rather replace it with a rocket fist. Jayden laughs at him, but internally remarks at Miyao's skill. Miyao however vents that he should have won, and then proceeds to provide a barrage of criticism on the detailed shortcomings of Jayden's combat performance. Jayden resigns himself to listening to him, but notes that his observations are accurate and show that he's really looking out for his opponents. At the end of it, Jayden is complimented on the good points of his performance. Jayden is embarrassed at blushing from a guy's compliments, and reaffirms his friendship with Miyao.
Jayden feels mild irritation at the others interrupting their flirting. Lilja and Koshka register themselves as hostile, the former taunting both her opponents and Koshka. Chloe exasperatedly tries to stop them from fighting. Gunhild agrees that they should do a squad battle and also registers as hostile, commenting that Chloe despite appearances is probably also on board with this. The six of them then proceed to battle.
Battle Standard Festival
At a stadium full of people, military planes fly overhead as an announcer provides commentary. The Battle Standard Festival sees the participation of the Five Great Factions (The Arctic Ocean Union, Central Ocean Union, Abrahamic Brother Nations, Africa Commonwealth Realm, and Latin American Treaty Organization) in an Olympic event style military contest. It is hosted by AOU Japan this year. The announcer thanks the soldiers for supporting the Walls of Peace.
- "The Walls of Peace will surely crumble if not supported from both sides."
- — James F. Kennedy
An old instructor describes the concept of Kennedy's Powder Keg, with his Gauntlet Knight students watching his lecture from their mental displays. He draws an image of it on the blackboard using his mental tablet, before asking them to excuse his poor drawing and to look up an image of the keg with their own mental tablets. While the studious ones did so, other students were using them to watch television, play games, or mentally chat with their friends in virtual rooms.
Kennedy's Powder Keg was filled with the "gunpowder" of conflict, and its boards represented the military might of each country that sealed the gunpowder. When one board was removed, all of the gunpowder would pour out, illustrating the importance of each country carrying out its duty in maintaining military might to prevent the outbreak of conflict. This philosophy was the opposite of that in the B3W era, where disarmament and pacifism had been extolled. Because of the outbreak of World War III despite this, the philosophy of pacifism was seen as foolish and negligent in the current A3W era. The International Peace Mediation Association was tasked with maintaining a healthy military balance across all countries, in order to preserve world peace. The borders of the keg were known as the Walls of Peace, and military might was seen as a bitter but necessary "nutrient" for the health of human society. Soldiers were also redefined as servants of international peace.
Toujirou, a middle aged man, and Seshat, a young woman in a skimpy Egyptian-mythology themed outfit, look upon the scene. Toujirou, who addresses Seshat as Grand Master, comments that military might is a double-edged sword, and expresses his belief that an alternative way should be sought both by proponents and opponents of it. Seshat remarks that debate between people is merely a means to an end, and cannot be used as an end in itself in guiding the common man. Toujirou agrees, but maintains his view that the extreme changes are unpleasant to him.
Though humans disliked military might in the B3W era, they did not abandon their dislike of other races, and the door to World War III was opened by the military actions of a few people with self-righteous ideals. In contrast, criticism of the military was blasphemous in the A3W era. Ironically, both eras were unable to accept opposing views, and were only able to view things in extremes. Many were unable to accept diversity of opinion, and those who could were often also unable to accept opposition to that belief.
Seshat remarks that people can only go where they are led to go, and it is the role of a king to guide them. Toujirou however maintains his faith in humanity, hoping for a miracle to one day occur. The two watch the Battle Standard Festival of Peace together, but for middle-aged people like them, it is little more than an event to enjoy a drink over and bet on.
- Genius Children (Miyao starts flying above the freeway)
- Gauntlet Wings (Miyao and Jayden prepare to duel)
- Rouge (The duel begins)
- Advancing (Miyao laments his defeat)
- Genius Children (The Battle Standard Festival opens)
- Welcome to A3W (The instructor lectures)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Toujirou and Seshat talk)
Chapter 2: The Athletes Arrive
A luxurious triangular table is dimly illuminated in a dark room. A hand passes a bag of gold embroidery to a woman, and commands her to open it. The woman opens the bag, and removes from it two gold coins and one silver coin.
- "Always keep your eyes open.
After all, you people will never know when that day, that time will come."
- — Vier Dreissig
Battle Standard Festival
An announcer provides commentary on the events of the Battle Standard Festival, remarking at the various competitive decisions made by the nations and the new military technology on display. While military soldiers participating in the events fought as if they were enemies, they grew to learn from and respect one another in their interactions, deepening the relationships between nations. The fact that new technologies were put on display also allowed the factions to share in their technologies, preventing an imbalance of military power. However, though the young were the main participants in the event, they were pushed to succeed by the expectations of the old, and there were rumors of bribery and doping behind the scenes.
In a waiting room, Okonogi scolds Chloe for not watching over Lilja and Koshka, who had disregarded instructions and gone to get parfaits at the athletes' cafeteria. While the two are able to tease Okonogi, he could not do anything to them due to their positions, and thus took out his anger on Chloe by karate chopping her head.
The Warcats comment on the quick recovery times of Gauntlet Knights, with Jayden also teasing Miyao. Miyao also comments at Gunhild's maturity. In their combat formation, Miyao and Jayden served as Attackers, while Gunhild served as a Supporter. Gunhild filled this role with a great degree of skill, and was often able to beat Miyao or Jayden in one-on-one matches.
In contrast was the more problematic squad Grave Mole. According to rumors, Koshka had been granted some sort of "exemption" in exchange for participating in Aerial Augmented Infantry research and human experimentation, and was officially designated not as a soldier but as "equipment". She was the highest tier of equipment and took advantage of her position to disregard Okonogi when it suited her, knowing that he could do nothing against her in return. Lilja was also equipment, and loved to pick fights with Koshka. Despite Chloe's pleas, the two of them only relish seeing her bear Okonogi's anger. Chloe herself was a top Gauntlet Knight, and could perform extremely well alone when the other two went back to the research center for "maintenance".
The Arrival of the Squads
The Gauntlet Knight representatives of the different factions arrive in turn at the virtual room's stadium, where they were able to show off their combat abilities without worrying about safety. Spectators viewed the simulation as if it were happening in reality. The AOU squads enter first.
They are followed by Suparna squad, comprising their leader Sujatha and members Rukhshana and Andry. Lilja comments that the squad seems serious and uptight. Andry tries to get Sujatha to loosen up and waves to the crowd. Rukhshana tries to follow him but is admonished by Sujatha.
Gannet from Cairo Squad eagerly tries to engage their leader Noor with the scene, but she expresses her frustration at her in return and tries to strike up a conversation with Mariana. Mariana on the other hand agrees with Gannet and tries to pet her, but is rebuffed, and the three of them make up a triangle of one-sided affection.
Finally, the announcer introduces the two referees fielded by LATO: Maricarmen and Valentina. LATO had unfortunately been unable to field a team due missing the deadline as a result of internal disagreements.
While the Gauntlet Knights were a symbolic representation of the world's military might, many older people in the audience were skeptical of their abilities, possibly in part due to their own frustration that they could never wield the Gauntlets. Gauntlet users were required to be able to perform a "Dreissig Conversion" on Spiritium, as well as have high parallel processing ability, the latter of which required special training from a young age. The efforts and achievements of old military soldiers seemed to have their weight displaced by the power of this new technology.
Okonogi receives a complaint from the Director General about Koshka's yawning and complains about Chloe. At that moment, Chloe lets out a sneeze.
The dimly lit triangular room was filled with ornate furnishings, and had a ceiling so high it could not be seen. Sitting at the three sides of the table are the Three Kings (of Ridicule, Fury, and Sorrow), whose faces are shrouded by masks and hands are covered with white gloves. The three of them watch the Battle Standard Festival through their mental displays. The Kings lament the state of humanity and ask Jestress to turn off the broadcast.
Jestress appeared to play the role of a secretary, but also possessed the privilege of being allowed to mock them much like a court jester would. While her hands are exposed, the center of her face is concealed by a triangular visor with an eye design on it. The King of Sorrow gives a passing mention of his granddaughter. The Three Kings lament the stubbornness of humans and their resilience against eradication. They remark that the time has come to bring civilization back to square one, allowing them to put more distance between human society and civilization's end.
Jestress delivers a report from the Grand Master of the Ninth Prime Chivalric Order, bringing news that they have managed to sneak members of the Order into ace Gauntlet Knight units from each of the four factions, one member per faction. These members were participants at the Battle Standard Festival. She asks the Kings about their manipulation of public opinion, and they remark that it is going smoothly. The King of Ridicule asks if Jestress' group has still not found the research center, and she remarks that though they have set out his bait, it has not been responded to.
The Kings observe that civilization's end is drawing near, and declare that they cannot fail again in bringing it about. Together with Jestress, they declare the motto of the Order: "All is in the name of guiding humanity down the right path".
Battle Standard Festival
A message is displayed on screen, written by an unknown sender. It tells her that if they remain concealed here, "those people" will surely try to make contact, and promises to report to her on anything that happens immediately.
The announcer declares that the first match, involving an attack on a fictional military base, is about to begin. Chloe tells her squad to be serious or she will use her trump card. Meanwhile, the Warcats affirm their friendship and get ready for battle.
The message finishes with the Order's motto, and is sent to Jestress.
- Advancing (The Festival continues)
- Underdogs (Okonogi scolds Chloe)
- Advancing (The Gauntlet Knight squads arrive)
- Ominous3 (The Three Kings appear)
Chapter 3: It's a Wrap Public Bath
- "Our bows are in our hands.
Our arrows are in our hearts. We shall not falter when we shoot"
- — Oath of the Ninth Prime Chivalric Order
Arrival at the Public Bath
Miyao and Jayden discuss the creation of a virtual room for the Gauntlet Knights of the Battle Standard Festival. They eventually decide to give it appeal to tourist sensibilities for Japan and use the data from their hotel's public bath. Miyao randomly names the room "It's a Wrap Public Bath". Gunhild is excited that the level of detail is such that water feels hot when touched, but remarks that she cannot take off her clothes in her avatar form. As Miyao grants the other Gauntlet Knights access, he expresses concern that geopolitical debates with the COU over the Glass Sea and ACR over the Atlantis Spirit Field might flare up.
Baibao squad is the first to introduce themselves, and Momotake remarks at the indecency and un-Japaneseness of AOU Japan to host the celebration in a public bath. Aysha suggests that Lingji might change to a nude avatar to match the setting, much to Momotake's embarrassment. Momotake tells Lingji she need not do such an undignified thing, but she instead suggests that the dignified thing might be to change to a bath towel avatar rather than be fully clothed.
Suparna squad introduces themselves next, and Andry comments that he, being from Madagascar, would normally be with the ACR, but ended up with the COU instead. Rethabile of Squad 601, which introduces themselves next, suggests that they avoid the topic of the Mozambique Channel dispute for the day. The others mention that Rethabile is a princess of the ACR royal family.
Cairo Squad introduces themselves next and the three of them display their one-sided affection triangle. Yeladot Shavit exclaims with glee about the yuri-ness of the scene, and declare that they together will show "humanity's greatest and most miraculous harmony". Stanisław of Thalathat Suyuf tells the others that Yeladot Shavit is in charge of public relations for the ABN, and do pop idol performances as well. The leader of Thalathat Suyuf, Naima, bubbles with excitement and apologizes for going too far in the match before. Lingji and Rethabile tell her to hold her head high, and Naomi gives her some anti-anxiety medication.
Finally, Lilja of Grave Mole introduces herself in glowing terms, while throwing shade at Koshka. Chloe apologizes for being late due to getting the room name wrong, and Lilja tells them she looked up "It's a Wrap Public Lust instead". Chloe defends herself by saying that the Kizuna translation tool converted it wrongly, but Aysha adds that this happening must mean that she uses the word "lust" frequently, which she ashamedly denies. Andry points out that in Japanese, "bathhouse" and "lust" are both pronounced "yokujou". The others make jokes about it to Rukhshana's embarrassment. Yeladot Shavit members fantasize about lust between Ishak and Abdou, to the annoyance of several others. Rethabile tries to prevent Naima from looking for a naked avatar mod, while Lilja and Koshka try to egg her on by sending some data of their own.
All of the Gauntlet Knights made friends with each other easily despite them being from different factions. While each faction had geopolitical disputes with every other faction, and some of them had wanted to confront each other about them prior, none of this seemed to matter when they actually gathered together. The narration describes national borders as a necessity for the division of different principles and cultures, but that these differences were sometimes not so important for everyday youth.
Gunhild asks if any of the others use Kizuna, and to her surprise everyone raised their hands. Kizuna is a simple Japanese-made universal translation tool created by the young, which had resisted attempts by large corporations to buy it up. It had gained a large amount of popularity with the young due to its avoidance of paid features, and due to widespread use had trained itself to become even capable of translating modern slang. The tool would allow people to speak in their own native languages but instantly convert what you say into the language used by the Kizuna-using listener.
Kizuna had many other functions, and was roughly capable of doing anything that a past-era smartphone could do through the use of mental displays. While adults had difficulty devoting mental resources to utilizing it well, the young were used to background operation and multitasking, a phenomenon referred to as Parallel Processing. Children with a certain skill level at this were called Parallel Processors, and their ability to do this was measured in units of Parallel Processing Power (P3). Due to practical concerns for future technologies, Parallel Processing training was made mandatory for children in countries across the world. The people at the public bath were from the first generation of Parallel Processors. While it was forbidden to use Kizuna on the job, something like this was difficult to detect. Soldiers often preferred using it to inflexible military communication tools, and would chat with each other even during missions.
The Gauntlet Knights here ended up using Kizuna for a multitude of reasons. Some were drawn in by the stickers and Keropoyo mascot, while others simply jumped on the bandwagon. Several of them played a free Kizuna game called WanyaDora, and begin bonding with each other over it. Abdou observes that the word Kizuna, meaning "interpersonal bonds" is truly an appropriate name for something that brings together people from around the world. The Gauntlet Knights begin sending friend requests to each other.
Overlooking the Glass Sea
The Gauntlet Knights naturally shift to the open-air portion of the public bath, which has a scenic view of the Glass Sea. The Glass Sea was created during World War III due to the effect of a solar warhead that annihilated the region of Japan between Gifu and Osaka, dividing the nation into two and leaving behind an ocean of glass. However, as the world had chosen to seal off information regarding World War III, none of those present knew what had created the sea. Even major details like the combatants and resolution of the war were sealed from the public.
Naomi wonders why humanity had made the decision not to learn from their mistakes, and Sujatha suggests that they may have realized that it was pointless to. Gunhild adds that humans interpret history in their own ways, and the conflicts between these interpretations can provide new fuel for conflicts. Research on the causes of wars meant to prevent future wars inadvertently ended up causing them instead. Driven to the brink of extinction, humanity thus made the radical decision not to record this history. Information was removed from public access, and research on it was only permitted in specialized institutions. Trying to find out about the war was even made a crime.
Jayden and Miyao tell each other that even if they had such knowledge, the details of the war had nothing to do with them, and would not stand in the way of their friendship. The other Gauntlet Knights agree with this sentiment. Gunhild tells them that the one thing the Glass Sea ought to represent is the knowledge that if people around the world became friends, a terrifying ocean like this would never appear again.
The Gauntlet Knights decide to affirm their friendship with each other, even despite the fact that they might one day end up in conflict. They decide that their role is not to kill, but merely to buy time for diplomacy by supporting the Walls of Peace. Miyao suggests that they create a code of combat engagement and the others add on to it. Combatants would not kill each other. They would not fire at a retreating opponent whose shield was broken. They decide to call this the Public Bath Oath and swear by it while reaffirming their friendship.
Miyao's Mental Space
The screen is torn through the center, and another Miyao (henceforth referred to as Miyao) laughs out loud. Miyao mocks Miyao's naivete, telling him that he (Miyao) will be the one doing the killing. Asked by Miyao who he would kill, Miyao shifts the scene to focus on Lingji and Koshka, who are bonding over WanyaDora with him, and tells him that he will kill them by his own hands. He tells Miyao that killing and destroying is the reason he was created in the first place, and that all actions he takes, even becoming a Gauntlet Knight are merely a means to that goal.
Miyao tells Miyao that he is one of the many selves within him, and has come to put a stop to the horrible future he is able to create. Miyao however has no idea what he is talking about. Miyao decides to describe the future to him, and tells him that all of them will end up killing each other. Lingji will face Miyao in a close range aerial fight, and due to being unable to deploy her Rejection Shield will end up with her skull crushed by his fist. This would not be a malfunction, but simply a plotline that is carried out. Koshka will end up swallowed by guided missiles fired by Miyao, and even he and Jayden would end up fighting to their deaths.
Miyao rejects the images he is shown as illusions, but Miyao calls them a future guaranteed by his existence. He offers Miyao just one way to prevent this future, and that is to will himself to disappear. Miyao tells him that his biographical details are merely his backstory, and that he is really a program of destruction given that name.
Valentina and Maricarmen enter the room. Valentina turns out to have encountered the same translation error that Chloe did, and Maricarmen makes the same joke. Upon entering, they are inundated with a barrage of friend requests. They introduce themselves, and Maricarmen tells them they can call her Mari. They decide to perform the Public Bath Oath again for the new arrivals.
- chat (Miyao creates the virtual room)
- Deeply Remember (The Gauntlet Knights get along)
- To the Land of Some Time (The Glass Sea is explained)
- Deeply Remember (Miyao starts the Public Bath Oath)
- Ominous3 (Miyao appears)
- chat (Mari and Valentina enter)
Chapter 4: Parallel Processors
- "The pieces have been gathered.
The pieces have been lined up.
Our opponent isn't here yet. Perfect"
- — King of Sorrow
Gauntlet Knight Training
During an AOU Gauntlet Knight training session, Miyao ends up going off on Jayden with his "lecture mode", overwhelming him with a barrage of trajectory data while chiding his flight inefficiency. Due to this, they end up stalling their training for a moment and are caught by Okonogi in the training room. The Gauntlet Knights however do not take him seriously and make fun of him via mental communication. Chloe accidentally utters her thoughts in speech, a phenomenon known as "self-destructing", and Okonogi responds by doubling down on their training.
After the training, some of the boys from the Battle Standard Festival gathered back at the virtual public bath to hang out and complain about their instructors. The location had become a sort of international gathering spot for the participants, who were now good friends. Due to their ability to parallel process, the young could chat with their friends in a virtual room regardless of their current activities in the physical world. The development of new drugs also eliminated the need for sleep, rendering the concept of time zones meaningless.
Similarly, the shopping district that Jayden was strolling through was also still bustling with activity. As he wanders through it, his mind ruminates over Miyao's lectures and Miyao himself. To Jayden, Miyao was the only person who he felt outmatched him as a Gauntlet Knight, and the criticisms made in his lectures were always valid. Today however, instructor Okonogi had interrupted Miyao's lecture before he could finish off with his usual compliment, and this fact inexplicably left Jayden feeling down.
Jayden realizes that he's brooding on Miyao's words way more than he should be. Scanning his surroundings through an information filter, he decides to visit a recommended game center nearby. Though any game could be played on a mental display in this era, game centers still retained their social significance as a site for gamers to bond while playing or watching each other. As Jayden connects to his seat, he is prompted to enter his Kizuna ID to qualify for a promotional campaign. He however had decided to leave his Kizuna turned off, as he often did when he some time alone from his friends.
The game he had chosen was a Gauntlet Knight simulation game, modeled after the actual military simulator and real-world military ships. After getting a feel of the controls, he decides to go for the highest difficulty setting: "Real Gauntlet Knight". The crowd at the game center goes wild over his immense skill at such an infamously difficult setting, which helps to restore his cheerful mood.
Prompted again by the system for his Kizuna ID, Jayden decides to give in and turns it on. He immediately receives a notification that a friend is nearby, and looks around the game center for the source of the signal. Before he can go back to check the details on the notification however, his friend decides to turn their Kizuna off. He scans the store and notices the shadow of a person who looks like Miyao leave through the back door.
Jayden pursues the person and calls out to Miyao, anxiously asking if he had done something to upset his friend. The person however does not respond.
Jayden finally catches up and grabs hold of the person's arms. Looking at the person's face and body, it seemed evident that they must be Miyao, but something about them seemed a little different, and struck Jayden as feminine. Confused, he asks if the person is indeed Miyao, but his question is met with denial.
Jayden decides to take the person to a nearby store. There, he begins wonder if this may be a case of Miyao being a Congenital Parallel Processor (CPP). CPPs are people who are born with multiple consciousnesses in the same body. Consequently, they have a natural talent for parallel processing, and 30% to 60% of Gauntlet Knights are estimated to be CPPs. The person meekly acknowledges that Jayden is right.
Jayden reflects on his past and expresses shame regarding his insensitive behavior towards a CPP friend. His past lack of understanding was something that was still quite common in this era, and few CPPs would come out about it due to this. Feeling regret for his past actions, he decides that he ought to make an effort to treat his friend right. He asks about his friend's name and gender identity, and the person responds that her name is Meow.
Meow apologizes for running away from Jayden and not telling him. While appreciative of his efforts, she tells him not to worry too much about appropriate behavior, since it made the situation a little uncomfortable for her. She tells him that both Miyao and her are present at the same time, and the two divide their observation work during training.
Miyao was the main personality, and as such Meow was often kept hidden away. The two of them had a brother-sister relationship, though other CPP personalities varied depending on the person. At times such as this, Meow would put on makeup and spend the night out somewhere far from Miyao's usual haunts, giving her the opportunity to enjoy herself while reducing the chance that someone who new Miyao would find out that they were a CPP. The situation however makes Jayden a little concerned for her safety, and he offers to be her bodyguard the next time she wants to do this. While expressing his desire to protect his partners Miyao and Meow, Jayden finds himself turning red in embarrassment.
As they continue their chat, Jayden realizes that Meow was probably the one who would give him that small bit of praise at the end of Miyao's lectures. Meow is surprised that he managed to figure this out, and feels heartened by his words. Jayden wonders if this means Miyao is also watching their conversation, but Meow tells him that she is able to shut Miyao out of her experiences for privacy when she wishes to. The two continue to talk through the night about all sorts of things.
As dawn begins to break, they decide it time to finally return home. Meow tells Jayden that she wants to go back secretly in order to hide her identity. Jayden however suggests that it may be better for her to go back with him in that case, as he could simply tell anyone who asked that she was a girl friend of his rather than Miyao. Meow blushes as a result of Kizuna's mistranslation of "girl friend" as "girlfriend".
Meow remarks that even though technology has advanced this far, communication is still made up of so much more than just words, encompassing everything from body language to emotions to setting. Though this was a complaint made much more often by the older generation, the two really did feel that an electronic world and the communication barriers broken down by technology may still not be able to beat face to face interaction.
- Advancing (The AOU squads train)
- chat (The Gauntlet Knights talk)
- Deeply Remember (Parallel processing is explained)
- chat (Jayden goes to the game center)
- Genius Children (Jayden dominates a Gauntlet Knight video game)
- White Song [short] (Jayden notices a nearby friend)
- Tan Smile (Jayden learns Miyao is a CPP)
Chapter 5: Vier Dreissig
- "When the ciconia stop coming, a country has no future"
- — King of Ridicule
A suited man travels down an elevator, escorted by two guards with no clear affiliation. They reach the bottom and are met by two girls with crystal blue skin and devices on their arms that resemble Gauntlets. The girls conjure gigantic cannons aimed at the guards next to the man; the soldiers had orders not to step outside the elevator, urging the man to go ahead. He steps out of the elevator and the door closes behind him, sending the guards back up. The blue girls send away their cannons and a woman in a lab coat then appears, greeting the man and calling him Doctor. The doctor is shocked to see the woman, using his Selcom to run a facial recognition scan on her; the woman is revealed to be Vier Dreissig, a genius physicist and the inventor of the Dreissig Conversion. Vier was supposed to have received the Bernhard Prize in Physics award for this achievement, but she had mysteriously disappeared from her hotel room in Oslo and was found dead two days later. The Oslo police determined Vier had gotten drunk and fell into a trash compactor, getting incinerated. The doctor is dumbfounded, saying Vier's death had happened so long ago, and she laughs, saying the world they’re in is not for humans, and they’ve moved past the concept of time. The doctor begins asking Vier all sorts of questions, coming to the conclusion that she truly is Vier Dreissig and not someone pretending to be her. As they walk through the facility, the doctor sees other people in lab coats walking around, face-matching them to other brilliant young scientists who had all vanished after mysterious accidents. Considering the conspiracy theories built around these disappearances, the doctor is amazed to see that all these people are really alive, and Vier replies that it's more fair to say that they’re all dead, having cut off all relations to the surface world. Looking closer at the scientists, the doctor sees that all of them are very enthusiastic despite their ages, giving off a disturbing feel. Vier knows the doctor wants to join her side, saying that their facility is an institution for “translation” instead of research. Spurred by the doctor's confusion, Vier explains that there are many techniques of the gods written in the language of gods, and mere Humans cannot read them so easily; Vier's goal is to translate these techniques and learn their secrets. The doctor wishes to know more, but Vier says she only shows this "Wisdom" to people who are already comrades. The doctor then makes a joke about this Wisdom being left behind by ancient civilizations, and Vier takes offense to it, saying that the source of Wisdom means nothing to them. Vier's subodinates dedicate their time and money to translating Wisdom becuse they enjoy it.
Vier then remembers that the doctor has said many times into his Kizuna that he wishes to touch the wisdom of the gods, even if it means losing his life. The doctor nervously says he’ll only join them if he sees one of these Wisdom, and Vier decides to make an exception if it means recruiting the doctor’s talent. However, there’s one other condition: Vier wants the doctor to tell her about the Three Kings, knowing he was sent by them to investigate her. Having been found out, the doctor tries to call for help on his Selcom but keeps getting error messages. Vier laughs, having encountered many other agents of the Three Kings and converting them to her side once they learn the joys of translating Wisdom. One of the other scientists from earlier, Ogawa Seiei, suddenly appears, cackling madly. Vier explains that Ogawa was also an agent of the Three Kings, and has since joined her side after learning of wisdom. The doctor becomes horrified at the idea that Ogawa had been transformed into a madman with everything not necessary for translation ripped out of him, and he becomes surrounded by blue Gauntlet girls.
Miyao and Jayden are having a duel while Gunhild and Grave Mole watch. Miyao winds up victorious, and Lilja and Koshka prepare to fight next. Gauntlet Knights were always going through strict training, but all of their instructors were adults and couldn’t actually use Gauntlets, giving what amounted to armchair advice. Therefore, Gauntlet Knights had to train by fighting with each other, similar to what fighter pilots did when transitioning from 2D space to 3D space. The simulators helped Gauntlet Knights train, but it also put a lot of strain on their brains because of the Dreissig Conversion, which used glucose to convert Spiritium into energy. As such, Gauntlet Knights ate lots of dessert and sweets to build up their glucose levels.
Warcat and Grave Mole are joined in the cafeteria surrounded by dessert, their underclassmen eager to hear the results of their training. Miyao examines Gunhild’s flying, who does spirals while flying between dlag A and flag B. Miyao says that Gauntlet Knights can fly in impossible ways, but being too impossible will use up more energy, so he suggests to stop fighting gravity when a GK doesn’t need to move in dramatic ways. The underclassmen ask a bunch of questions to Miyao, and Jayden sits down next to him with a big plate of dessert. He comments on how Miyao’s toppings always look so pretty, and Miyao doesn’t respond. Instead, he sends Jayden another mock battle critique, and Miyao says that Jayden’s changed recently, and it’s creeping him out.
Miyao remembers how Jayden used to be more brutal during combat, but now Jayden is giving him compliments like “you’re nothing less than beautiful” and asking that Miyao use Jayden's towel because “your sweat smells pretty good.” Jayden retorts that they’re partners and that it’s normal for guys to do that, and Miyao mentions how Jayden keeps getting too close to him, smelling him and messing with his hair. Miyao storms off and Jayden follows him, watched by Gunhild and Chloe. Jayden tries tickling Miyao to get him to relax, and he starts laughing while trying to fight him off. Jayden starts tickling Miyao in his back and Meow comes out, whose face turns red while telling Jayden that her back is really sensitive. Jayden is surprised to see Meow, and she gives control back to Miyao, who yells for Jayden to get off of him.
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (The doctor visits Vier's lab)
- Welcome to A3W (Vier introduces herself)
- Advancing (Jayden trains)
- White Song [short](Warcat trains with rookies)
- Major Disaster (Miyao calls out Jayden for his creepiness)
Chapter 6: An Identity Confusion Violation
- "The Three Kings have decided.
We shall command the lords: prepare for the harvest festival."
- — King of Fury
Jayden regrets having tickled Miyao like that and is conversing with Andry, Stanislaw, Momotake, Ishak, and Abdou, getting advice on what to do. Jayden texted Miyao an apology, but he never responded to it. Stan asks if Jayden isn’t a CPP, and Momotake mentions that CPPs dislike it when people get confused when interacting with their multiple personalities. Jayden asks if anybody there is a CPP, and Ishak tells him that it’s a bad thing to ask, as not many CPPs who have come out have enjoyed the experience. Single Personalities are actually a minority when it comes to Gauntlet Knights, and there are cases where someone falls in love with one personality of a CPP and their other personality starts to hate them; this often happens when one of the partners is a Single Personality. Stan figures that Jayden developed romantic feelings for Meow and subconsciously started treating Miyao as the opposite sex, much to Jayden’s embarrassment.
In another Public Bath room, Miyao, Meow, Lingji, Rethabile, Naomi, and Naima are talking to the Mitakes about their relationship with Jayden. Meow thought Miyao was too harsh when he went off on Jayden, where Miyao thought their bond was like a family, becoming shocked when Jayden started treating him like a girl. The other girls all think this fight happened because of identity confusion, with Naomi thinking Jayden wasn’t properly educated about CPPs. Aysha jokes that Miyao doesn’t like being seen as a girl because he’s thin like one, and this prompts Miyao and Meow to start arguing with each other; Miyao never exercised and put on muscle because he thought Meow wouldn’t like it if her body didn’t look female, and then Meow claims she never said anything like that. As Miyao and Meow fight (looking like Miyao pinching himself and pulling his cheeks), the girls realize that Miyao was also at fault because of his inferiority complex about his body, and they relay this information to Jayden’s group. Stan and Naomi determine that Jayden and Miyao can make amends through a male bonding ceremony, and they contact Gunhild. Jayden doesn't want to bring other AOU members into his problem with Miyao, and Stan replies that Gunhild knows the two of them best; Gunhild soon texts her fellow Warcats, wanting them to join her at a specific location. Jayden and Miyao leave, and the rest of the Gauntlet boys and girls meet up to talk about their own problems.
The virtual room is summarily emptied, and Miyao suddenly appears, this time sporting a body with crystal blue skin. He’d given himself a new body because things were getting confusing, plus it matched his tastes. Miyao finds it a strange era, one where soldiers, whose jobs are to fight enemies, decide to not do so. Even if the Gauntlet Knights were to try to uphold the Walls of Peace, even if war still broke out, it would not be enough to solve anything, and the cost would be very high. Miyao swears that the Gauntlet Knights won’t kill each other, but Miyao doesn’t care, having come to tell him of a prophecy. He asks if Miyao knows about the Three Kings, a group of old men who claim to be humanity's guides. Miyao states that the Three Kings are planning to create hell on earth, a world where humans hate each other as part of their plot to end the world; the Gauntlet Knights who were just getting along and sharing relationship advice will wind up killing each other amidst anger and sadness. Miyao swears that he will prevent this hell on earth, and Miyao tells him that the only way he can do it is to find the Three Kings and kill them.
Yeladot Shavit suddenly barges into the Public Bath, proclaiming loudly that religion and gender cannot separate those who are in love. After seeing that the virtual room is completely empty, Yeladot Shavit leaves as quickly as they arrived. Miyao then laughs, saying that even the comet girls will die unless Miyao kills the Kings or kills himself.
Miyao and Jayden are engaging each other in a boxing match, punching each other and sweating buckets while Gunhild watches. She agrees with Stan’s idea of having boys restore their friendship through releasing their fighting instincts. After an exchange of taunts, Jayden winds up to deal a finishing blow, but Miyao suddenly cries out for him to stop, making Jayden think it was Meow saying that. Miyao uses this opening to launch a cross-counter, which fails because his arm is too short. Getting beaten because of a height differene once again, Miyao falls over exhausted and starts complaining about his height. Jayden says the Meow trick won’t work on him because he’s already memorized the way Miyao and Meow talk. Miyao exclaims that he’ll train harder and harder to defeat beasts like Jayden, and Meow derides him for calling his best friend a beast. Miyao and Meow fight once again, and Meow tells Jayden to keep training her brother since he’s actually very grateful for it.
Toujirou goes to a LATO Brazilian bar and meets up with a cheery man, drinking together and talking about an amazing musical score Toujirou had recently found. Toujirou asks if the man was able to play the score, and he replies with doubt that not even five people in the world could play it. Keropoyo notes that Toujirou has received 13 data items, and the topic of conversation quickly switches to that of 8MS blueprints. The cheery man wants to know how Toujirou got a hold of these Environmental 8MS blueprints, saying they should've been kept under close guard by their original countries; Toujirou calls it a business secret.
The origin of 8MS is explained, being a series of nanomachine systems designed to do just about anything, starting with purifying the earth's atmosphere and changing the environment. The development of 8MS brought similar concerns to that of the hydrogen bomb, where humans thought their usage would cause a chain reaction to destroy the planet.
Toujirou says it really isn't that simple, noting that developing 8MS takes a lot of resources and work; the IPMA manages all 8MS research, and every country shares data with one another, so it’s impossible to make a malicious 8MS. Toujirou and the cheery man wonder what was going on in the hacker’s head when they got a hold of these 8MS blueprints, joking that they must've been a supergenius moron who only hacked the systems just to sell the blueprints. Toujirou and the cheery man talk more about the blueprints, revealing them to be various kinds of purification systems; 8MS to purify water and air, essentials for human life to thrive. With other forms of environmental 8Ms, a terrorist could easily take advantage of them and destroy the world if they so chose. Toujirou rebuffs this hypothetical, saying the terrorist wouldn't be able to do it because every lab on Earth is monitored, and the cheery man jokingly suggests that maybe a lab deep underground could do it. Toujirou acts confused, saying his Kizuna translates the man's Portuguese weird sometimes, and the cheery man leaves for an upcoming appointment.
Valentina then arrives to sit next to Toujirou. Some MPs from the LATO military also appear, and Valentina tells Toujirou that they could’ve arranged for a proper welcome if he’d told them earlier. Valentina says His Excellency wishes to see Toujirou and he accepts, walking with her as the MPs escort them.
- Tan Smile (Jayden admits he messed up)
- White Song [short] (Jayden and Miyao prepare to make up)
- Ominous3 (Miyao appears with a new body)
- Major Disaster (Yeladot Shavit leaves the room)
- Underdogs (Miyao and Jayden box)
- Beach (Toujirou talks with the cheery man)
- Yain No Rinkaku (Toujirou talks about 8MS)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Valentina meets Toujirou)
Chapter 7: The Three Kings
- "To fulfill our master's orders,
we shall not hesitate to use the methods of demons, nor to stain our hands with demonic acts."
- — Oath of the Order of Prometheus
The Three Kings watch the world news, where Prime Minister Zeidan of ACR Libya had supposedly passed away because of illness, but it was discovered that he died from a gunshot wound. A civilian claims that the ACR Royal Family assassinated him, and they want the ABN to provide humanitarian military support. An ACR Royal Family Press Secretary, Rafini, says they lied about Zeidan’s cause of death because they were still performing an investigation and didn’t want to cause panic. Rafini then says secret agents in the ABN Guidance Department, who have always challenged the hegemony of Africa, were responsible for the crime, having arrested a man and a woman and sent a notice to Interpol saying that four others are involved.
The narrator is about to report that the ABN Department of Friendship, their equivalent to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expresses regret at these comments, but another reporter cuts them off with news that ABN Pakistan’s mining machines have started functioning again, marking the end of the Kashmir Spirit Field Dispute agreement. A commentator reminds viewers that the spirit field discovered in the Kashmir region was a source of dispute between the ABN and COU, who each claimed control of the region while encouraging the other to show self-restraint. COU China and COU India’s Foreign Ministers have released statements criticizing the ABN for this action, demanding that the ABN take responsibility for breaching their agreement and resuming mining operations. Jestress comments on how exciting the world news is, and the King of Sorrow says news announcements are just the reading of the Three Kings’ manuscript. The news commentators start talking about the Glass Sea, where a spirit field of Rare Spiritium was also found there. AOU Japan did a soil analysis but withheld their results, effectively preventing COU Japan from performing their own analysis. This has caused a dispute between the two regions; AOU Japan wants to maintain the Glass Sea’s status as neutral territory and COU Japan wants to claim the western half as theirs, planning to station border guards there.
A black-suited man refers to Seshat as Her Excellency and passes a report from their comrades in COU Japan that border guards will be stationed in 48 hours. Seshat replies that things are proceeding smoothly, impressed that they’ve been able to recover after losing most of their pieces in the big war 100 years ago. The black-suited man also reports that their pawns all over the world have started moving all at once, wanting to know if they should make a move too. Seshat says it’ll be fine, thinking humanity needs to have half of the world destroyed. She likens civilization to a unicycle that humanity’s riding, where if they stop, they fall, and so humanity must keep moving. Civilization has to end however, and when it happens, “they” will appear to host a harvest festival and reap everything; World War IV would be much more humane by comparison.
The news reports that the ACR Combined Navy has deployed their warship Atlantis into the Atlantis Spirit Field, and AOU America wants them to withdraw it, otherwise the AOU American Navy will send a fleet to them. A commentator explains that the Atlantis is classified as a warship but is actually a Superfortress-class Segmented Warship, made from 7 linked warships. Another news report comes in that the ACR Royal Family wants Supreme Chancellor Belloumi of the Liberal Democratic Party African Liberation Front to be returned to them, who is currently receiving political asylum in COU Madagascar. They also reference 12 murders, including that of Prime Minister Zeidan. A narrator thinks the COU will not respond to this problem, as it will complicate matters in the Mozambique Channel regarding travel restrictions near the Lemurian Spirit Field. It’s then reported that the ABN Oracle Department has issued a cease-and-desist to the Seven State Alliance in Western ABN Ukraine, which wants to seek admission into AOU Russia. The AOU Russian military is concentrated on ABN Ukraine’s border and has hinted that they will enter as part of a humanitarian operation to protect Russian citizens. The ABN Peace Department has opposed this, with suspicions that religious issues behind-the-scenes that have been suppressed are now exploding, not helped by the arrests of several VIPs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
A blogger thinks it’s a conspiracy by LATO, claiming they want the other four factions to wipe themselves out. The blogger calls for the anti-pacifist LATO to be taken down and for them to share their Rare Spiritum fields to the rest of the world. Some commentators talk about how LATO was always made the villain of various conspiracy theories. Many major countries who looked down on LATO’s allies back in the B3W era were unsatisfied with LATO’s leadership.
LATO Brazil Hotel
Toujirou had been escorted by Valentina and her military police guards to eat with His Excellency in a private hotel room. His Excellency tells Toujirou about how there’s been a lot of unsettling news that day, and Toujirou says His Excellency knew all about it beforehand. They lament how humans are despicable, feeling superior just from knowing things sooner, and Toujirou says they should all get sobered up if World War IV hits. His Excellency laughs and then says tension like this builds during peacetime and makes for good news stories when everyone makes up in the end. Toujirou adds that humans will forget how precious peace is and how grateful they are to those who fought for it if they don’t experience some tension every now and then.
These worldwide incidents will finally give countries a chance to show off their military prowess, whose only job thus far is earning medals in the Battle Standard Festival. Humans respect proactive occupations but disrespect reactive ones. Militaries were supposed to be guarding the Walls of Peace, but they’ve been facing declining budgets in recent years. Healthy military balance led to protected national borders, and the invention of the Gauntlet had made most militaries obsolete; militaries worldwide would probably be dismantled, much to the expense of old, high-ranking members. These global tensions rising were a chance for many old veterans to retire and rake in some money.
His Excellency compliments Toujirou for his work as a broker, saying he’s got a friend in the Department of Defense who made a killing because of him. Toujirou wonders who that person might be, as he has a rule for business partners to not reveal anything. His Excellency assures him that his friend will never speak of Toujirou again, and then says he has lots of strong cards to support Toujirou with. Toujirou asks to see one of these cards, and upon request by His Excellency, an MP sends him an email. Toujirou had been sent a recording of a top-secret meeting at the IPMA, who decided to take a wait-and-see approach regarding the simultaneous feuds popping up all over the world. Toujirou likes what he sees, saying his own cards are no match for His Excellency’s. His Excellency asks to be Toujirou’s business partner, offering a handshake; Toujirou takes it, but their handshake is unique, one involving a strange arrangement of fingers. His Excellency celebrates being Toujirou’s new friend, promising to earn him lots of money. He then asks to see a card of Toujirou’s, who asks if His Excellency has any stock in Environmental 8MS-related companies. Toujirou suggests that he sell them off bit by bit, and His Excellency becomes concerned, asking why. Toujirou says that’s another card of his, but he suggests that if anything were to happen to the Environmental 8MS, the world will suddenly go back to hating nanomachines like 100 years ago, and it will already be too late. Understanding the danger, His Excellency tells Valentina to inform the Public Safety Office that they may remove their mark on Toujirou, as they are friends.
Valentine salutes and leaves the room, and she then receives a message from Maricarmen. Mari is freaking out about all the worldwide news, afraid that she might be caught up in some kind of conspiracy. Mari is afraid that war will break out, as she only became a Gauntlet Knight because she wanted to fly. Valentina sends a message telling her not to worry, as the world is just amusing themselves with a situation that looks like war, similar to how people enjoy being scared by ghosts on Halloween. After it’s sent, Valentina laments that Mari is a fool; she became a soldier because she wanted to fly while others have predicted the future and are aiming to survive and get rich. Valentina remarks that Mari’s cheap resolve is going to cost her.
Jayden and Meow meet up for a date in Neo Akihabara, where Meow is now sporting a pink dress. Inside a virtual room, the male Gauntlet Knights are watching Jayden’s interactions with Meow and commenting on them. Jayden compliments Meow on her appearance, saying she looks cute when she’s not Miyao; Stanislaw immediately berates him, saying one shouldn’t be comparing a CPP’s personality to their other personalities. Meow is having trouble walking because of the shoes she picked out, and the guys offer Jayden some lines to use on her. In another virtual room, the female Gauntlet Knights are also watching Jayden and Meow’s date, giving the latter advice as well.
Meow was always hiding in Miyao’s shadow and so Jayden never got to talk to her often, so one night he messaged her while Meow was asleep. He had asked Meow out and set up their date to be in Neo Akihabara, a city in the center of Tokyo. It was named after Akihabara, said to be the holy land of otaku culture with many restaurants, conventions, and other sorts of shops. Jayden had intended to go somewhere girls would like, but the guys told him to go somewhere that caters to everybody instead. The Gauntlet Knights all talk about Neo Akihabara, and Jayden and Meow talk about their interests. Jayden thinks about how much his affection towards Meow has grown, amazed that the inside of a human is more important than their outside. Jayden asks the guys if they’re still around, preparing to ask what may be an inappropriate question since he still misunderstands CPPs and wants to be more considerate. The guys voice their support, and Jayden then asks what Miyao or Meow’s sex is.
Out of consideration for various genders, the AOU was a nation that was anti-sexual-discrimination, with residents of AOU countries not requiring they put their sexes on their IDs. Information about sex was only shared at medical institutions between the resident and their doctor, and the information would be removed after a certain time anyway. There were also public bathrooms that accommodated both males and females, only having stalls; Gauntlet Knights had their own private rooms and showers to go with them. Additionally, any action that could be used to determine someone’s sex was illegal in the AOU.
Jayden had no idea what Miyao’s biological sex was since he has a neutral build, and Jayden was concerned over building a relationship with someone, getting steady with them and then escalating towards sex with a 50% chance they might not be biologically compatible. Andry knows that Jayden didn’t fall in love with Meow because of her body, and Stan suggests that Jayden resolve this issue with Meow quickly, for the sake of his mental health. Ishak asks what will happen if Meow’s body is male, and Jayden becomes even more unsure of what to do. Abdou says that’s up for Jayden and Meow to decide where their relationship goes afterwards.
Jayden and Meow grew up in the same cultural sphere and had similar values on romance, plus the AOU accepted all genders and legalized same-sex marriages. However, not all factions were the same way; the Gauntlet Knights may have given different advice if Jayden and Meow were from different cultural spheres. Jayden asks if his relationship with Meow could’ve gotten messy if they weren’t both from the AOU, and Stan mentions that the ABN accepted homosexuality on the surface but the Unified Religious Council hasn’t made a proper decision regarding it. Ishak mentions that the ACR accepted same-sex marriages, but one of the princes came out as gay and was then chased out of the royal succession, becoming a monk. Jayden laments that the world has so many issues to it, and Andry asks if he remembers his squadmate Rukhi. COU Saudi Arabia had a culture that considered it immoral for men and women to share the same workplace. When it was found Rukhshana’s squad would have a man in it, there was a lot of fuss raised in her home country; the COU government intervened and the king of COU Saudi Arabia announced that Rukhshana had special permission, allowing her to stay on. Andry was the ace of Suparna and the government couldn’t just let go of him for Rukhshana’s sake.
Andry and Momotake tell Jayden how fortunate he is to live in a nation where the issue of relationships only concerns the two people involved. Despite how different the laws and cultures of each nation are, they have been built upon over many years; if their culture doesn’t fit the current era, it’s up to the people living within that cultural sphere to change things.
Jayden decides to talk it out with Meow, not worrying about what others say and instead focusing on deepening his relationship with her. As Jayden and Meow’s relationship deepens, they’ll figure out the proper distance they’ll need to keep around each other. Jayden figures they’re already working on it since he and Meow have been so relaxed after coming to Neo Akihabara, and Meow turns to Jayden, saying he probably wants to know her biological sex. Jayden starts to panic, and then he realizes Meow must’ve had a conference with the female Gauntlet Knights like he was doing. Jayden tells Meow that he loves her, saying he fell in love not because Meow’s a girl but because she’s Meow. He doesn’t want to force Meow to tell him what her sex is, and then Jayden jokes that maybe he isn’t a guy after all, having long hair and might be wearing miniskirts in his room. Meow laughs, and Jayden says they live in a time where the ciconia don’t carry babies, so worries about biological sex are a thing of the past. Meow still thinks it’s unfair to him, as she likes Jayden for being wonderful, and he likes Meow even though he doesn’t know her sex.
The other Gauntlet Knights talk about their own views on gender and love, and Meow says she wants to tell Jayden about her sex one day, wanting to prepare herself mentally for it. If Jayden and Meow continue to be in a relationship by Christmas Day, then Meow will tell him. Jayden accepts this proposal, and then tells Meow that she is a wonderful girlfriend and loves her regardless of what her sex is. The two of them walk past a home appliance store, where a TV on display features a news reporter standing in front of the IPMA HQ in LATO Brazil. Many simultaneous conflicts have sprung up around the world, and the IPMA is concerned that any interventions at this point may benefit or harm other factions, so they’ll be waiting for things to de-escalate. The reporter is about to say more, but they’re cut off by Keropoyo asking if anybody has upgraded to his latest version yet. A notice then appears on screen, reminding readers that this is the cutoff point for videos and streams.
- Welcome to A3W (The Three Kings watch the news)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Toujirou gives a tip to the LATO officer)
- White Song [short] (Meow and Jayden go on a date)
- Azure Sky and Contrails (The Gauntlet Knight aces give tips to the lovers)
- Heroes, Be Strong, Be Stupid (Jayden shows concern over Miyao and Meow's biological sex)
- Tan Smile (The aces talk about gender roles and sexuality perspectives of their respective factions)
Chapter 8: The Third Aptitude
Geroy Level 4 Heavy Military Research Center
Inside a massive training facility, Gauntlet Knights are doing military drills, the instructors barking out commands. This facility was the Geroy Level 4 Heavy Military Research Center, which used to be an AOU Russia medicine research center. It was now being used by the AOU Combined Military for training Gauntlet Knights.
One group is running on a track, with the instructor insulting the kids who’ve fallen behind. He orders everyone except for the two kids in first place and deals physical punishments to them. Corporal punishments against children were forbidden in all AOU educational institutions, but this place was unaffiliated with any institution, thus they could punish kids without mercy. The kids in this facility were split into classes based on their ages and builds, with the youngest looking too young even for grade school. This place was not peaceful and fun like a kindergarten, and the instructors would yell at these kids all the time; the expressions on their faces were not something to be expected from children their age.
Several cameras were filming this scene and playing it back in a monitor room. Many inspection officers from all over the AOU were watching these kids and listening to a staff member explaining things. These officers all spoke different languages; translation tools could be added to Selcoms to make translating languages very easy, but these officers were old and couldn’t run Selcoms very well with their brains, thus they were accompanied by translators.
The staff member explains that Parallel Processing Power is important for measuring someone’s aptitude to become a Gauntlet Knight, but just because their P3 levels are high doesn't mean one can automatically become a GK. If someone has high P3 levels but also has a fear of heights, enlisting in the Aerial Augmented Infantry is not for them; neither is having decent P3 levels but lacking spatial awareness. P3 levels and GK aptitude are important, but this facility focused on researching a third kind of aptitude. An officer thinks this third aptitude must be fighting spirit, and Okonogi chuckles, saying that many kids these days are lacking in it.
The third type of aptitude is actually self-empowerment, or confidence. Humans were able to draw out their abilities based on their confidence in themselves, but nobody had researched how to induce this effect. Someone who lacks confidence and notices something important may second-guess themselves, thinking they saw it wrong. Someone who has lots of confidence will trust their instincts and trust in the important thing they saw; this difference meant life or death to a Gauntlet Knight flying through the sky at 140 meters per second. Gauntlet Knights needed to have enough confidence to go along with their aptitude and P3 levels. However, confidence has to be acquired, something one gains after repeated experiences.
In B3W, education encouraging growth through praise was very common, but no one knew of any favorable results coming from it. The strict training and corporal punishment used at Geroy was like the answer to that. Okonogi had grown up in a world where educational institutions used corporal punishment, and he was unconvinced that this could be used to make kids confident. The restoration following World War III was peaceful, and people assumed kids were slacking off because they never experienced any major wars, thus they were punished very strictly. Okonogi thought that kids in the modern era needed something to help nourish them, but he still didn’t think corporal punishment would solve that. He says that many kids have gotten good grades after becoming confident, and the staff member tells Okonogi that that’s exactly what they’ve discovered at Geroy: self-empowerment can be effectively achieved by experiencing victory.
- "Where are you, bread dough? The stove's been spitting fire, searching everywhere for you!"
- — Jestress
People blessed with talent cannot achieve anything if they lack confidence. On the other hand, those who lack talent from the start will never achieve anything no matter how much confidence they have, and will wind up getting in the way of those who do have talent. Therefore, self-empowerment must only be given to those who have talent. The B3W world knew of the existence of self-empowerment, but didn’t know how to cultivate it. School education was unintentionally providing an environment for building confidence. Early levels of education had split students into classes, not factoring in how good their grades were. Mandatory education in the AOU put students into classes at random, and in the higher levels, they would be divided based on their grades and sent to institutions that matched their level of talent. However, academic ability varies a lot between children, so why aren’t classes split based on ability? The method the AOU uses appears to be splitting students evenly. In biology, animals formed social hierarchies within their groups, and humans do the same. It was believed that individuals with less ability to survive would be cast out, leaving the strong to reproduce.
At Geroy, they discovered that experiencing victory is the most important factor to self-empowerment; the more it happens at a young age, the stronger the person’s confidence is. In other words, whether or not someone is a winner or a loser is determined at a young age; Okonogi doesn’t understand who was able to come up with this technique. He’d believed education was an example of showing society’s unfairness: breaking the rules gets one scolded, but being the only one following them makes them an outcast. People learn who to be nice to and who to stay away from, and mandatory education was a way to beat all of these rules into kids. Okonogi then considers if the true purpose of education was actually something else: locking up the elite students into the same class as their prey.
At Geroy, certain students are marked based on their talent, and they’re placed into classes designed such that they will experience a sufficient amount of victory, thereby increasing their confidence. The monitors recording the training children displayed every kid's ID inside a green box, but one girl had a blue box instead. This singled-out girl (the Blue) was doing long-distance running, and despite how much pain she seemed to be in, she was ahead of everybody else while the other kids (the Greens) looked exhausted just pretending to run. The instructor blows his whistle, calling everyone to line up. The Blue still had some energy left in her while everyone else was staggering to get in line, and the instructor summarily beats the Greens. The staff member explains that the Blue was their target, with the Greens part of their environment constructed to make the Blue experience victory. He pulls up a monitor showing the Blue's condition and data, all collected from her Internal 8MS. She was very exhausted after doing heavy exercise, but her mental state was shown to have improved. This environment was made to improve the confidence of the Blue by giving her a sense of superiority from having the best grades in the class while everybody else had low grades and were punished. An officer asks if this environment will result in the girl getting a big head and discouraging her from working hard, and the staff member replies that hard work is only necessary for average people.
Out of all the children in the world, less than 200,000 children have the talent required to join the Aerial Augmented Infantry, and those with sufficient P3 levels and aptitude to be in the top 1% are geniuses, supergeniuses even. Supergeniuses don’t need hard work but enough confidence in their own abilities. An officer asks if this Blue girl is a supergenius, and Okonogi replies that she’s one of theirs: Second Lieutenant Chloe Ironside, formerly in the Canadian Air Force. Chloe looks at all the kids getting reprimanded, feeling a hint of relief that she wasn’t getting punished like them and feeling superior. The instructor harshly scolds the kids and demeans them while beating them. Harsh training like this had to be endured in order to become a Gauntlet Knight, and these kids had signed contracts where they weren’t allowed to leave until a certain amount of time passed. However, these kids had all filled out a general application form and were all given green ID boxes; Geroy was not intending to grant the Greens their dreams of becoming Gauntlet Knights. An officer sees that the harsher the punishments, the greater the feeling of victory is, and the staff member adds that contingency fees and other methods of success aren’t cost effective. Another officer asks Okonogi if Chloe was the one to represent them at the Battle Standard Festival, and he replies that Chloe’s talent was very high class, but she couldn’t produce results, thus she ended up at Geroy.
Chloe enters a virtual room to be greeted by Lilja and Koshka. The other Grave Moles are brimming with energy, but Chloe is still very tired from exercising. Lilja starts boasting about her skills and insulting Chloe, and it’s shown that Lilja’s sensation data is being projected into the room as part of parallel thinking training. Lilja has first place with her very high P3 levels, seeing as how she’s one of AOU Finland’s top Gauntlet Knight aces. Lilja was very satisfied after seeing how much her level was compared to her other training mates, but Chloe shows concern over the audio data of an instructor berating a bunch of kids. She laments how the instructor was specifically insulting the poor performers in such a way to shame them and cause them mental anguish.
Chloe wonders if there’s something wrong with her, not wanting to beat down a bunch of other people just because she wanted to be a Gauntlet Knight. Koshka says Chloe should just drop out if she doesn’t like seeing others cry, and Lilja says that Chloe doesn’t need to be soft. Chloe wants to know why they have to use others as stepping stools to reach their dreams, and Lilja replies that only a select few people can become Gauntlet Knights, so she must beat down everyone for the sake of her dreams.
After some thinking, Chloe then asks why there are so many kids around; humanity was almost destroyed in WWIII, and they’ve recovered past that point, so why are more kids being created? Lilja simply says that one can never have too many dice for the next time they have to be rolled. Chloe doesn’t like the idea of being dice in someone’s game, and Koshka replies that because Chloe rolled a six, she got to be a Gauntlet Knight. All of them are GKs because they rolled sixes; the people who roll ones get weeded out all on their own. After being reassured that Chloe isn’t bringing anyone down, she apologizes to her squad mates for being so negative. Lilja suggests that Chloe cheer up by taking more meds; Lilja was acting very happy because she may have taken more than her usual amount of stimulants, but Chloe had a natural resistance to them, so a quick shot was not enough. Koshka tells Chloe to relax because she isn’t a “one”, and Chloe thanks her and leaves the virtual room.
Lilja and Koshka talk about how rough it must be for Chloe, and how they aren’t making things any easier for her. Koshka muses that if the world is hard for Chloe to live in but easy for broken people like them, then the world must be really messed up. She thinks the world should’ve been destroyed back in WWIII, and Lilja says it already was; they’re living in a world of death now. Koshka swears that she will destroy this screwed-up world, and Gunhild enters the room asking for Chloe. Lilja says she just missed her, and then asks Gunhild how she did during training. Gunhild had an easy time, saying people who roll a six or seven have it very easy, enough to make one jealous.
Back inside the Geroy facility, Chloe suddenly runs into Okonogi, who yells at her and delivers a karate chop to her head. He asks Chloe why she’s slacking off in her training even when he’s not there, saying he watched Chloe from the monitor room. Okonogi could tell that Chloe’s mind was wandering and made her hesitate; Chloe apologizes as Okonogi deals even more karate chops to her head. Chloe’s grades weren’t actually bad, but Okonogi was berating her for it anyway. An officer appears, asking Okonogi to translate something for him, and recognizes Chloe as the Blue girl from earlier. A staff member also appears and asks Okonogi not to interfere with development targets without permission, as corporal punishment can screw up Chloe’s confidence, and then Okonogi goes off on him.
Okonogi says that Chloe will never turn her cowardice into fighting spirit while she’s in an institution like this, and giving her karate chops is the best way to do it. Okonogi gives Chloe another series of chops, much to the staff member’s dismay, and Okonogi tells Chloe to leave with him. He says Geroy isn’t suited for someone like Chloe and that he’ll get her fighting spirit back into shape. The staff member is about to say that Okonogi can’t take Chloe out without following proper procedures, and Okonogi gives him another lecture. Geroy’s broken style of training may work for broken people like Lilja and Koshka, being treated like equipment, but Chloe isn’t broken at all. The officer sees that Okonogi is still as hot-blooded as ever, and the captain gives one last message to the staff member: it’s true that Lilja and Koshka are Geroy’s equipment, but Tetsurou Okonogi is Grave Mole’s instructor, and anyone who messes with them will receive Okonogi’s karate chops. Okonogi and Chloe finally leave, and the officer comments that he prefers Okonogi’s methods.
Back inside the virtual room, Lilja, Koshka, and Gunhild are still talking when Koshka suddenly glitches out. Gunhild is confused while Lilja says Koshka’s Kizuna must be acting up, as Koshka is saying gibberish while phasing in and out. Lilja laughs at Koshka’s predicament and says she’ll record her gibberish and play it back later. Koshka stabilizes for a bit, apologizing for how rough it got, and Lilja suggests they get off for the day. Koshka says her drugs are wearing off because “the guys today” were sloppy, and she suddenly disconnects from the virtual room, which Keropoyo says is due to an error. Lilja decides to leave as well and bids farewell to Gunhild, but Lilja’s cut off and also suddenly disconnects due to error. Gunhild ruminates that the difference between people who can enjoy their youth and those who can’t is harsh, and Koshka repeatedly rejoins and exits the virtual room, still speaking gibberish. Gunhild bids farewell, and Koshka says “nononononono” before Gunhild disconnects.
“Nonononononono” keeps being repeated, and it’s shown that Koshka’s naked body is lying on a bed, her head opened up and her brain taken apart and strewn out. Koshka's bed had harnesses attached to it, all connected to machines. Doctors wearing airtight suits are reading the graphs displayed on these machines, and a doctor reads that the data transfer is holding at the Madonna’s Maximum Speed. Another doctor refers to Koshka as "the Pandora," noticing that the burden on her is increasing and asks if they should use more painkiller. Their request is denied, as it’ll add noise, and they want to hold at the current rate.
About 10 other girls were in the room with Koshka, their heads opened up in a similar fashion. One doctor reports that Subjects 040 through 048 are NULL, while 049 received a signal; Subjects 048 and under are to be disposed of. The lights dim around the girls except for one, who was apparently being made to reproduce something from Koshka’s brain. The machines monitoring this girl start sounding alarms, and a doctor reports that 049 is receiving the signal well and is getting minimal noise. It’s noted that Koshka has been at the pain limit level for over a minute, and they’ll need the Director General’s permission to continue the experiment for longer. 049’s noise rate is at 0.193, but it’s far from their goal of 1.15; the doctor says to suspend the experiment and give painkillers to Koshka, leaving it up to the surgery team.
Subjects 040 through 049 will be disposed of in accordance with the Human Rights Manual, and the other girls are injected with hypnocine. 12 seconds pass, and the doctors determine that it’s humane enough, sending the Subjects to the examination department. The girls all around Koshka are then dropped into a gaping abyss, even though their heads were still torn apart. These girls had volunteered because they had dreams of flying in the sky, not to be specimens in some experiment; these girls were all Greens, while the Blues, the ones who would really be able to fly, were chosen when they were just fertilized eggs.
Koshka is given painkillers, taking her out of the pain limit level, and a doctor wishes that if they had another Pandora, they could’ve pushed through. They ask if anybody has been able to find another one, and another doctor replies that Pandora’s Box was a gift from the gods, so they can’t expect a replacement for “Miss Kitty.” Koshka’s bed is automatically wheeled out into the surgery department so her head can be stitched back together using robot arms and 4D printers, where they had replicas of Koshka’s skull using synthesized calcium.
Koshka returns to the virtual room, relieved that the pain has died down. She asks if anybody is still there, and is greeted by Lilja repeatedly joining and leaving the room. Koshka asks Lilja what’s going on, but she speaks gibberish in response. Koshka is amused, saying she’ll record Lilja speaking and play it back to her later.
Inside a library, the doctor that visited Vier is reading books. He was reading tons of books and putting them into a pile, getting so engrossed that he would keep reading even after the pile fell on him. Vier then appears, saying his new look suits him. The doctor embarrassingly rubs his head, still not used to the feel of it. Translation in excess can harm the body, so Vier wants to take a walk with the doctor for a change in atmosphere. Vier drags him out of the pile, and she mentions that these books were written by the best translators all throughout history. The little bits of God’s wisdom they noticed and work they did still provide contributions to Vier’s work.
Vier supposes that the doctor was interested in immortality, judging by the books he was reading. Several of Vier’s comrades have attempted to translate wisdom regarding eternal youth, though one of them gave up and started working on teleportation. Vier takes the doctor on a tour and goes to a room which had many machines, pipes and power cords everywhere. Vier says the comrade in this room had invented 8MS to make the body forever young, figuring that he succeeded and motions to a display showing what appeared to be a bacteriophage. Vier muses that the closer they get to unlocking the mysteries of life, the more they find things that resemble what God has created.
Vier is asked by the doctor if he can try out the Immortality 8MS, but she says to wait until it’s fully complete. It makes humans immortal, but it also inflames the skin, causes pimples and blisters to appear, wracks the body with fevers, and impairs their consciousness. Vier expresses her jealousy that her comrade has found joy in translating this aspect, and then wonders where he went off to. Vier then realizes where he is, giggling and leaving the room with the doctor. Her comrade then is shown to have hung himself from a pipe in the back of the room; it wasn’t done recently, but he was probably still alive thanks to his invention.
Vier and the doctor descend a spiral staircase into the lowest level of the underground lab. They come upon a ring-shaped catwalk, where there was a hole gazing into a deep black void. Blue-skinned girls are silently standing at attention, and Vier tells them to pay the doctor no mind. This place they’re in is Vier’s favorite place, telling the doctor to gaze into the abyss. Inside that abyss was what appeared to be a giant hatch. Vier says that beyond that hatch is 1000 years into the future, and that the hatch was already there by the time Vier first came there. She didn’t know who translated it or when, but the partial translation they had explained that a “twisted, isolated spacetime” is in that hatch, and anybody who goes in there will emerge a thousand years later. Unlike the Immortality 8MS, this was supposed to keep the person young and healthy for that time; a time capsule, in other words. Vier imagines that a thousand years from now, there will be unknown civilizations, art, and knowledge, but some of her comrades say humanity will be destroyed 1000 years from now.
This time capsule wasn’t activated and was empty; someone made it to send someone or something into the future, but what? Vier wonders if humanity of the future will open it with high hopes and despair to find nothing inside, giggling at the thought. The doctor, meanwhile, keeps gazing into the abyss, giggling and rubbing his head over and over again. It's shown that he had been lobotomized, looking like the top part of his head had been sliced off.
- Welcome to A3W (The Geroy students train)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (An instructor explains self-empowerment)
- Ominous3 (Okonogi sees what Geroy is doing)
- The June Sky is an Endless Blue... (Chloe vents to Lilja and Koshka)
- Underdogs (Okonogi chops Chloe again)
- Ominous3 (Koshka's brain is studied)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Vier takes the doctor on a tour)
Chapter 9: Monster Party
- "I won't join you. But I think we do need an uprising."
- — Source Unknown
Warcat was taken to a study center in Neo Akihabara where they listened to old people give words of wisdom. In this day and age, kids were able to use Selcoms to chat with friends while they appeared to pay attention to old people; old humanity didn’t have this luxury, which Gunhild attributes to them being very patient. Although kids like Miyao were Gauntlet Knights and underwent strict military training, they were still given enough time and privileges to enjoy themselves and live a normal student life.
Since they were in the area, Warcat wanted to relax after the study session and wandered around Neo Akihabara, with Gunhild taking them to a store her friends ran. In Neo Akihabara, real estate was expensive, and Miyao says Gunhild must have a lot of friends since they’re always there wherever Warcat goes. Jayden wonders how Gunhild is able to avoid mixing up her siblings, and Gunhild replies that parallel processors are able to do this sort of thing easily. Jayden feels guilty for talking to someone while having other conversations in a mental room, comparing it to playing a game while having a serious conversation. Miyao thinks it’s fine so long as Jayden doesn’t post in the wrong chat, adding how he doesn’t dislike that Jayden acts concerned for small details. Jayden thanks Meow for the compliment, and Miyao exclaims that he was the one who said it. Warcat soon finds the store, which was inside a back alley two rows away from the main street.
Warcat heads inside the store and is greeted by the owner (Owner), who expresses joy that Gunhild actually came. Gunhild asks how the store is doing, and Owner replies that several supporters in Japan have already visited and now they need word-of-mouth to spread. Gunhild and Owner start speaking very rapidly, too fast for Keropoyo to notice. Miyao says Gunhild and Owner are siblings around the same age, but they haven’t met for 10 years.
Jayden wonders how his own siblings are doing, and Miyao jokes that Jayden didn’t like having company. Jayden says that’s partially correct, explaining that he’s been estranged from his siblings for years. Being born a supergenius, Jayden kept getting good grades and got so absorbed in himself and reaching for the top that he never once thought of his siblings or friends. Recently, Jayden was trying to fix that problem and connect with his siblings more, but it was still a long way to go. Miyao shows remorse for calling Jayden a loner, saying he no longer is one because Miyao’s there. Jayden thanks Miyao for the compliment, who sheepishly says that Meow was saying it. Jayden ruffles Miyao's hair, liking it when he says something nice as the latter tells him to stop. Owner sees that Miyao and Jayden are very close, and Keropoyo says the restaurant they’re in is called Monster Party, a costume cafe.
Miyao sees the cafe has a CRT TV, which Owner got via crowdfunding. With mental displays being so common, everyone assumed that old technology such as TV monitors had all but disappeared. Gunhild liked seeing old TVs because of the feeling that everyone was watching the same thing. The TV starts playing a government broadcast, which Miyao calls boring; Owner offers to turn it off, and Gunhild says there’s an urban legend where the government leaves a mark on someone’s record if they turn off a broadcast.
In the AOU, every channel was forced to air government broadcasts at a certain time every day; this was typically done to show how life in the AOU was better than ever. In B3W, people hated propaganda broadcasts like that and compared it to brainwashing and dystopias. These broadcasts criticizing the current state of the B3W world had also encouraged global paranoia. Weather, health, diseases: everything was blamed on corruption in the government, and this led to people becoming unsatisfied with their living conditions and pushing for emigration. Meanwhile, immigrants to other countries were being blamed for all sorts of problems, and this led to far-right groups rising up. This was one of many things that led to World War III; countries all over the A3W world resorted to daily broadcasts to try and raise the happiness index.
The narrator on the TV tells the viewers to reflect on the happiness in their lives, asking if they’ve heard the phrase “going on a journey to find yourself.” This phrase is no longer used in the AOU, but other factions still repeat it. The phrase means for people to figure out their strengths by trial and error, and young people in other factions are forced to spend time trying out different things to discover their true strengths. People think of the optimal ways to use their individual traits, but sometimes these traits are negative and hard to use in society. Miyao says that even now, traits that stem from the brain are still misunderstood. Jayden thinks they really are living in a nice era, and Gunhild says that genetic tests are performed as soon as there is a fertilized egg, so a person’s strengths and weaknesses are known before birth. This way, kids are able to receive guidance and have a lifestyle and job prepared for them. Positive traits have opportunities to distinguish themselves more, and negative traits are given support. Kids in the AOU are able to live the perfect lifestyle that suits them without having to search for it themselves. On average, other kids took up to 24 years searching for themselves. including people who gave up on their journeys. Miyao laments how the B3W world saw this idea of self-searching as completely normal. The narrator reassures viewers that the genes they’re born with don’t determine everything about their life, as the AOU gives opportunities to everyone to learn or change professions.
The broadcast ends, and Jayden figures that people in the past would’ve thought that having people decide their whole future was pretty nosy. Miyao says kids back then were just rebellious, always doing the opposite of what they were told; Miyao originally hated the idea of joining the military when he was younger and wanted to be a cat video uploader, having tried it out with a Job Experience Simulator and getting a grade of D. Owner consoles Miyao, saying the simulators always give bad grades, and then mentions Gunhild’s job aptitude grade for becoming a Gauntlet Knight, a C. Jayden is amazed that Gunhild was able to get to where she is now, and she replies that fate is something a person forges themselves. Miyao sulks, saying he should’ve lived life as he pleased instead, and Jayden says that no matter what grade Miyao got, he was fated to become Jayden’s partner and the strongest Gauntlet Knight in the sky. Miyao says Jayden has a C in aptitude for being his partner, and the two banter and fight some more. Miyao takes offense that he might have an inferiority complex for not having muscles, and Meow comes out to say that he does have a complex and is sensitive to being weak. Miyao and Meow fight again, and Meow takes control, as she and Miyao agreed to switch after studying anyway. Meow apologizes to Jayden for their behavior, and compliments Gunhild for her studying and Owner for her shop. Jayden and Meow pay for their meals, leaving a big tip, and exit Monster Party, leaving Gunhild with the owner.
Owner is surprised at how big of a tip she got, and a derisive expression appears on Gunhild’s face as she shows contempt for Miyao and Jayden having more money than they know what to do with. Gauntlet Knights get food, clothing, shelter, and other benefits for free, so they’re saving lots and lots of money and could even live their lives without ever using it. Owner also expresses her jealousy of the two, and Gunhild says they were just lucky to be born with good talent and genes; Miyao and Jayden must’ve had good previous lives, so God made their next lives a bonus stage. Owner says Neo Akihabara feels like a bonus stage for having clean air, and Gunhild says they use very high-quality Spiritium, nothing like their old city. Gunhild never told her siblings about the clean air because she didn’t want them to get depressed, and Owner shows gratitude that Gunhild supported her and Maja by giving them money. She and Maja had studied seriously while all their other siblings took Gunhild's money, saying it was only natural for the successful one to send some their way. Gunhild doesn't blame her other siblings, as living in a city like that would corrupt anyone, just eating junk food and wasting away playing on apps. Even living a life like that felt like happiness, with Owner saying the AOU seems like a terrifying place to live in. If someone isn’t born with excellent genes or doesn't have enough fighting spirit, then one has to suck up to the rich or live in a daze. Gunhild wonders if they should forget their past, and Owner says she wants to forget, not wanting anything to do with her old city.
Gunhild then asks if Owner has been in contact with Maja recently, and she replies that all her Kizuna messages to Maja have been marked as unread. She hopes Maja is still giving it her all to become a Gauntlet Knight like Gunhild. Gunhild figures that Maja is still in a tough spot because she’s still a trainee. There weren’t any age restrictions for Gauntlet Knight tests, as parallel processing ability was the most important aspect, but apparently the ability would stop growing once someone reached a certain age. With how hard Maja worked, Gunhild figured she’d become a Gauntlet Knight before her; Gunhild hopes Maja’s pride wasn’t hurt when Gunhild became a GK instead. Owner reassures her that Maja was the happiest person around when Gunhild became a knight, and that she’d be even more excited from getting training tips. Gunhild says the world of Gauntlet Knights is filled with monsters like Miyao and Jayden. Those two all had natural born skills and could leap off of Super Tokyo Tower like they were putting sandals on; monsters like those two are fighting over the Gauntlets, and even if a C-grade worked hard, they still needed a miracle to stand up to them.
Gunhild and Owner talk more about Maja, and Owner asks if Gunhild will listen to her complaints since Gunhild was venting a lot. She struggles to ask if Gunhild suffered like she and Maja did, and Gunhild replies that she had to, in order to match up to the A students. Even Gunhild wants to forget about all the times she’d suffered, stressing out for a bit and then suggesting that she and the owner increase their meds by two pills. Owner thanks her for the help, and Gunhild suggests that she create a new self in Neo Akihabara, one that can forget her painful past.
Meanwhile, Meow and Jayden go on a walk and talk. Meow says good and evil don’t exist in the world, instead comparing the world to a mirror. People who feel dark will look at the world and see dark, and people with brightness in their hearts will look at it and see brightness. Meow compliments Jayden for his cute smile, and he gives another endearing response. Meow says to be careful or else Miyao will start sulking, as he's jealous and apparently thinks his best friend got stolen. Jayden is surprised to hear this, as he always tells Miyao that he’s his perfect buddy. Meow thinks it’d be cute for Miyao to finally admit that and accept Jayden as his partner; and Jayden says the world would be brighter if Miyao smiled more.
Inside an ultra high-class hotel, a party was being held full of military officials. One such official had gotten drunk and fell asleep on a sofa in a private room. His shirt was opened up with several electrodes stuck to his chest, all connected to a laptop Toujirou was using. Selcoms stored information inside the human brain like a hard drive, and one could steal that information by connecting to it. Hackers in the old days could access the secrets of the world while sitting at home, but hackers in A3W were more akin to classic spies. Keropoyo decrypts the files inside the military official’s mind while Toujirou kept his eyes on a warning indicating the estimated time before the officer woke up. Keropoyo finishes decrypting, and Toujirou tells the frog to keep watching the timer while he copies each of the files. Toujirou comments that these files are showing what’s going to happen next in the world, finding it shameful that the world’s future lies not in the hands of the young, but in some old unhealthy guy’s mind. Keropoyo alerts that the officer is waking up, and Toujirou pulls off all the electrodes and hides his laptop, preparing a glass of cold water and offering it to the officer as he wakes up. The officer, oblivious to what had just transpired, tells Toujirou that he feels better and wants to party again. The two of them return to the party hall, where Toujirou wanted to leave after getting what he came for, putting up a fake smile. Toujirou calls the party an ugly banquet, looking around at all the high-ranking military officials, who were using their connections to start side businesses and rack up tons of money. Many of these officials were hanging around cute girls, who instead of wearing uniforms or medals had skimpy swimsuits on. This party was officially reserved as a training session for military officers; all these women were military secretaries, also known as “secondary secretaries.”
Secondary secretaries were mistresses that military leaders could hang around with officially, with most having signed a contract in exchange for financial support. Toujirou muses that those in the AOU who weren’t born with good genes and wanted to reach the top couldn’t be picky about the jobs they took, and these military officials were certainly picky with the girls they chose for their secretaries. Parties like these were just ways for officers to show off their harems and their money and positions; despite how enthusiastic the girls acted, one could tell how much pain they were in from trying to survive in smelly cities like this. Toujirou didn’t like to see scenes like this, but he kept it all to himself while maintaining his appearance. The officer from earlier asks Toujirou to come join him in a game, and Toujirou reluctantly agrees.
This was a game they were playing with their secretaries, where the girls would go topless and the men would wear blindfolds and try to guess whose breasts they were touching. One girl was reluctant to take her top off, and Toujirou could see how she was one of many girls being forced to sell her body and soul. The other officers ask why she’s not joining in, all laughing when the girl meekly says she didn’t expect things to be like this; some officers would intentionally not tell their secondary secretaries what they were being hired to do, finding it to be a prank. They’d treat the girl to a high-quality lifestyle and then suddenly bring them to parties like this, all to see their innocent reactions. The officers and other secretaries were pressuring this girl to join in, with one officer threatening to fire her and make it difficult for her to get other jobs. The girl finally exposes her breasts on the verge of tears as Toujirou silently watches, degrading the men and thinking to himself. The officer pulls the newly-topless girl around his shoulder and happily says she’ll never have to want anything under his care, referring to her as Maja.
A narrator says that, just like flower petals are fated to fall, humanity must fall too. Humanity has reached civilization’s end, and they must now scatter their petals. “All is in the name of guiding humanity down the right path.”
Jestress holds the Three Kings to a vote, with many black-masked people lining the walls and watching. Jestress hands each King a gold coin and a silver coin. She announces to the crowd that their calling is to guide humanity down the right path, and when civilization grows fruits of evil, they must harvest it and return a just and ordered society. They've prepared for the harvest festival, and now they must determine if now is the time. The Kings lament how short the A3W era was, and if they're not thorough then A4W will be even shorter. Two bags are passed around, and the Kings put one coin in each.The gold-embroidered bag was then given to Jestress, who opens it to reveal all 3 gold coins.
It has been said: the Three Kings wish for the harvest to be carried out now. The black-robed crowd applauds as the Three Kings stand up. They all recite their creed, and the black-robed men are ordered to go forth and harvest; they set out to make their first moves in a very large game. Sorrow hopes that their longtime wish finally comes true and they can set down their crowns. Jestress takes her leave and vanishes into the darkness, the other Kings following.
- White Song [short] (The Warcats go to Neo Akihabara)
- chat (The group enters Monster Party)
- Underdogs (The AOU broadcast plays)
- Tan Smile (The Warcats talk about simulator grades)
- The June Sky is an Endless Blue... (Gunhild talks with Owner about her dislike for Miyao)
- To the Land of Some Time (Gunhild tells Owner to create a new self)
- Yain No Rinkaku (Toujirou hacks the officer's mind)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Toujirou attends the party)
- Ominous3 (The Three Kings vote)
- The Witness Stand (The Three Kings' minions set out for their duties)
Chapter 10: Simultaneous Global Conflicts
- "That day, that time is beginning.
--Have you really been awake?"
- — Vier Dreissig
The date is December 1st. The news was still going on about how factions all over the world were staring each other down and could go to war at any moment, but everyone believed the year would end just like any other; everything will be left unsettled and forgotten, and peace should return once more. After a report that COU Japanese military guards patrolling the Glass Sea had shot down an AOU Japanese recon drone, a COU Japanese press secretary tells reporters that their actions in shooting down the drone were justified self-defense and are now taking defensive measures. An AOU Japanese press secretary condemns COU Japan’s construction of bases using military printers in the Glass Sea, as it’s supposed to be a World War Relic. The news thinks a peaceful solution for the AOU and COU Japan debate is optimistic at best.
Meanwhile, tensions keep rising in the Kashmir Spirit Field. Despite the COU’s calls to cease mining operations, ABN Pakistan has not responded to them and have introduced anti-aircraft weaponry into the area to protect their workers; this action violates the Kashmir Treaty, and COU India is strongly condemning ABN Pakistan. Another COU secretary says they are planning to use military force in responding to this treaty violation.
The ABN Joint Parliament expresses regret towards the ACR taking military action against refugee camps in ACR Algeria, and the ACR Royal Press Secretary replies that this was a peacekeeping operation and that the ABN is interfering with international affairs. An ABN Press Secretary issues a warning to the ACR, wanting them to suspend their persecution of refugee camps while calling it a sinful assault on world peace.
Another news report says that AOU America’s Atlantic Fleet has started moving, having been ordered to push towards the ACR-occupied Atlantis Spirit Field. If the ACR Navy doesn’t withdraw, then the Atlantic Fleet won’t hesitate to strike. An AOU Press Secretary wishes for the ACR Royal Family and ACR government to comply calmly, as they just want to discuss the ACR's illegal occupation of the Atlantis Spirit Fields. An announcer says World War IV seems to be approaching, wondering if all these events had been planned.
After hearing this disturbing news, Gauntlet Knights all over the world had started gathering inside the Public Bath. They all came from different backgrounds and had their own things to say about their factions, but it soon devolved into heated arguments. Everyone calms down after the LATO girls arrive, with Maricarmen saying they should all avoid careless actions and statements while Valentina suggests they all delete those arguments from their logs, chuckling. Miyao and Lingji tell their respective squad mates to apologize, and Mari reassures everyone that none of their countries want war. Naima tries to cheer everyone up, and Miyao asks why so many conflicts are erupting if nobody wants war. Mari asks everyone to tell their friends not to do anything too rash, and that they must uphold the Walls of Peace. The LATO girls leave, and the other Gauntlet Knights start talking about war.
The Gauntlet Knights find it sad that people would intentionally start wars, and Abdou figures that some people would profit from it. Stock in defense contractor companies has skyrocketed, and people who invested early would benefit. With the IPMA hinting that they would step in and then announcing a policy of nonintervention, stocks suddenly plummet; the IPMA reverses their position, and stocks climb back up. Rukhshana wants the Gauntlet Knights of the world to join together and fight the people who start wars for money, comparing it to fighting a secret organization, and Rethabile says it sounds like a comic book. Rethabile thinks there really is some secret organization trying to overthrow the world order and line their pockets, and her bodyguards remind her that an event is coming up. Squad 601 leaves the Public Bath, following by Cairo Squad who has their own business to attend to. The other squads summarily leave the room, but Miyao thinks about Rethabile’s mention of a secret organization running the world before becoming the last person to leave.
Miyao’s Mental Space
Miyao appears once again, saying the idea of joining hands to fight some mysterious secret organization only happens in comic books. Rather, the Gauntlet Knights are going to kill each other, and it has already been decided.
Miyao decides that maybe secret organizations don't exist after all, and he’s interrupted by a ringtone. Miyao checks his mental display to find an email from “The Old Bastard,” Toujirou. Toujirou was in the area and wanted to know if Miyao would eat with him. Toujirou had been very busy lately, so he and Miyao didn’t meet IRL a whole lot. The two had recently started exchanging emails; being a Gauntlet Knight, Miyao could be sent into battle at any time, so he figured he’d meet Toujirou while he could.
Miyao meets Toujirou at a restaurant, who says he has a limited amount of time. Miyao says the bespectacled man is his father, a rarity in the AOU where the ciconia no longer bring babies. Toujirou apparently works for the AOU Combined Military HQ as a reporter and had recently been transferred to the IPMA, so he was flying around the world a lot. Miyao had been rebellious towards Toujirou for a long time and had recently started to feel grateful for his dad raising him, so this was the first time they’d met in person in a long time. Toujirou compliments his son for his work in the Battle Standard Festival, and Miyao says he only embarrassed himself. Toujirou thought Miyao’s movements before getting shot down were amazing despite what the commentators said, and then talks about his opponent Lingji. She was about to gray out and won because it was a competition, but in a real battle she would’ve fallen unconscious and crashed; Miyao and Lingji could’ve taken each other out then. Miyao pays no heed to his words, saying Lingji is an amazing Gauntlet Knight by herself, and Toujirou offers some flight data of Miyao’s movements he analyzed to try and boost his confidence. After talking some more, Miyao considers that, in a world where being ciconia-born is rare, maybe having a father is a positive experience. Toujirou asks if Miyao has seen the news lately, and his son wonders if there really are lots of people who want to start wars. Toujirou offers words of good luck to his son, as Gauntlet Knights are supposed to fight against people like that.
Toujirou then asks Miyao to turn off his Selcom and listen closely. Older people asking kids to turn off their Selcoms was typically a sign they were going to give a scolding, as having their Selcoms on meant the kid wasn’t really listening. Miyao does such, bracing for a lecture from his dad as Toujirou brings him close. Toujirou tells Miyao that kids like him may think the news is just fanning the flames and that nothing serious will happen, but a military conflict really will occur; the A3W era will soon be called the B4W era. Miyao is initially shocked and confused, and Toujirou continues that Gauntlet Knights are much closer to becoming complete military technology and will probably be sent into combat soon. Miyao isn’t concerned about that, and Toujirou says the entire world will be drawn into conflict. Miyao may not know who his enemies are, nor whom he should fight for. Miyao takes his dad seriously, as he’d always made weird predictions that came true, and Toujirou says his predictions are more like prophecies, words that have been left in someone’s care.
Miyao temporarily flashes on-screen as Miyao remembers what a prophecy is: words from God about a future that will come to pass with certainty. Toujirou knew this day would come for a long time, he just didn’t expect it to be today. Gauntlets represent the ultimate tool for changing fate, and humanity has never had a greater method for individuals to do such. Miyao realizes why Toujirou wanted him to become a Gauntlet Knight, and his dad tells him that things would’ve been fine if nothing happened in Miyao’s generation. Miyao tells his dad to stop saying such weird things, feeling like the fate of the world is on his shoulders, and Toujirou tells him to never stop thinking, no matter how incomprehensible it may all seem. Toujirou raised Miyao to be the strongest Gauntlet Knight in the world because the young are the main characters of every era, having spared no effort in making it happen.
Miyao thinks about how grateful he is for Toujirou giving him a gifted education for becoming a Gauntlet Knight when a waiter interrupts them and asks what they want to order. Toujirou orders a coffee and asks Miyao what he wants, making him blank out from the sudden conversation. Miyao asks for tea and then Toujirou suddenly asks for the check, making Miyao confused as to why he’s leaving now. Toujirou reminds him that he didn’t have much time and tells Miyao that he’s going to get a call soon, asking him to turn his Selcom back on. Miyao turns it back on and is greeted by a military emergency alarm, signaling that Miyao had to respond to military summons and stand by. Miyao asks if Toujirou knows what will happen later, and after a brief silence, Toujirou says he does know. Miyao begs for Toujirou to tell him, asking if war really will happen and people will die. Toujirou responds that many people will die, more than in WWIII. Miyao wants to stop WWIV before it starts, as he has friends all over the world who don’t want war and figures there are people behind-the-scenes who are masterminding it. Toujirou also knows about people like that, and asks Miyao what he’ll do about it; Miyao’s not a police chief, he doesn’t have any connections to a counterintelligence agency, plus Miyao had a stand-by order and couldn’t do anything or else he’d violate military law. Miyao will have the chance to act, but not yet; he’ll know when his time comes soon enough. Toujirou plans to tell Miyao everything when the time comes, hoping it will never happen. Toujirou signs the check and bids farewell, as he’s a soldier too; this may be the last time he and Miyao say goodbye. Miyao expresses his determination, and Toujirou expresses his hope for him.
Miyao later sends emails to the Gauntlet Knight squad leaders of the world, telling everyone to become guardians of peace and stop World War IV. The leaders share it with their squadmates, and they all discuss their jobs as soldiers and how they must obey orders, but they can still become dogs or guardians under those orders. Warcat gives their support to Miyao, who declares that they aren’t pieces on anyone’s gameboard.
Jestress receives a message from one of the Gauntlet Knights, who says Miyao has had lots of influence over the GK's from each faction ever since the Battle Standard Festival, and everyone in their squad has agreed with the email Miyao had just sent. If things continue, their comrades of the Ninth Prime Chivalric Order will be restricted in their movements. The Gauntlet Knight plans to leave everything to Lady Jestress and recites the Three King’s creed.
Keropoyo then announces that Toujirou has entered the virtual room. Toujirou apologizes for the wait, and Jestress understands that Toujrou was meeting his son for the first time in a while. Toujirou asks Jestress to stop showing off that she’s monitoring him and retorts with the fact that Jestress had been eating biscuits. The masked girl laughs and asks how things went on Toujirou’s end, who replies that it’ll be on the news soon. Jestress laments that some people are difficult to be moved with connections and money, with Toujirou joking that they have to play James Bond now.
Keropoyo announces a news report that Defense Minister Yunoki of the AOU Japanese government had been rushed to the hospital with an unknown condition, with the Prime Minister’s office scrambling to get a replacement for him. Yunoki was the leader of the moderate party currently in power, and his retirement will likely unleash AOU Japan’s war hawks. Toujirou says that in a few days, the former minister’s secretary will leak some information about shady political contributions, making it clear that some of these contributions came from COU Japan and throw everything into chaos. Jestress says World War IV cannot be stopped at this point, with Toujirou hoping this becomes the last major war. Jestress teases Toujirou for being a bad dad, working to start WWIV while his son is trying to prevent it. Toujirou says the meaning of justice is something one decides on their own, and that no one ever does as they’re told unless they’re moved by the voice of their heart or money. Speaking of which, Jestress sends Toujirou payment and then wonders what he’s saving up for since the world is ending soon. Toujirou thinks it’s fun to save up a lot and then see what he can do once the world is destroyed, finding it a wonderful feeling to be drinking with some beautiful girl while watching humanity's last twilight. Jestress replies that she’ll probably still be caring for the Three Kings once the world ends, calling them terrifying for having the ability to bring war to the world over and over again until humanity’s numbers reach their intended size.
Jestress must still give in to the King's desires so she can grant her wish, and Toujirou hopes Jestress becomes a good woman so she can sip wine with him while watching the last twilight. Jestress blows off his advances and says she'd rather die along with her opponent, calling it a victory for humanity so long as one man and one woman survive. Toujirou prepares to leave and repeats the Three Kings’ creed in a questioning tone, getting confused when Jestress doesn't respond; she says it’s their job, not hers. Jestress says that ever since she was born, she’s lived for the sole purpose of erasing "that nightmare", wanting to do so until the day her last cell is destroyed. Toujirou adds that humanity will be having quite the nightmare themselves, all for the purpose of erasing Jestress’. If her wish is granted, humanity will be grateful to Jestress and see her victory as humanity’s victory, though there’s no telling how many humans will be left.
Toujirou makes another advance and Jestress leaves, saying it’s technically cheating. Toujirou leaves the room soon after.
- The Witness Stand (Worldwide tensions continue to rise)
- Deeply Remember (The Public Bath members talk about their roles as game pieces)
- T's Blues (Miyao gets a call from Toujirou)
- Tan Smile (Miyao and Toujirou talk)
- The Witness Stand (Toujirou makes a prophecy)
- T's Blues (Toujirou takes his leave)
- The Witness Stand (The emergency notice goes out)
- Evil Schemes (Miyao sends an email to all the ace GKs)
- Ominous3 (Toujirou and Jestress talk)
Chapter 11: The Guardians of Peace
- "All is in the name of guiding humanity down the right path?"
- — Mitake Toujirou
Gauntlet Knight Debriefing
A strategic officer announces that the AOU Joint Parliament has authorized a military assault on the COU Japanese military’s border guards for illegally expanding into the Glass Sea. Their targets will be anti-aircraft platforms and anti-aircraft vehicles being brought into the area. The Aerial Augmented infantry will enter at low altitude and take care of the anti-aircraft vehicles while fighter jets take out the rest with air-to-ground missiles. Okonogi tries to psych up Warcat, as now is the time for them to show the world what Gauntlet Knights can really do. The officer explains that these anti-aircraft vehicles are King’s Shield 2900 Supers, which are autonomous air-defense systems armed with rotary autocannons and missiles; the software they’re running on is old-generation, so they’ll likely have difficulty targeting GKs. Okonogi tells the Knights that once they destroy the vehicles, they’ll need to get out immediately to avoid the Longbow missiles being launched afterwards.
Warcat holds a mental chat while Okonogi is speaking. Gunhild is amused that Okonogi’s giving them so much support after calling them esport gamers the entire time. Miyao expresses his desire to show those old people that military might is in the hands of the young, and Jayden agrees. Miyao then receives a message from Lingji, who tells him that many people in the COU are not in favor of attacking the AOU and prefer to avoid war. Rethabile joins in, saying that the ACR Royal Family has ordered the Aerial Knight Corps to intercept the AOU Atlantic Fleet that’s approaching the Atlantis Spirit Field; Rethabile will be leading that attack. Miyao says many people in the AOU are also against the Atlantic Fleet moving.
The three leaders come to the conclusion that their respective factions don’t want war, and that it’s the fault of those old warmongers trying to make money. However, if they go too far then things will get even worse. Rethabile plans to pay a visit to the aircraft carrier and see what she can do, vowing to do her best. Stan then sends a message about an order to attack a refugee camp. Rethabile says the Father-King, the founder of her nation, said to never reject anyone who came and chase none who left, which is in their national policy. Because the ACR Royal Family has so many people in it, many princes are vying for the chance to gain more influence and come off as more patriotic than the others; the rest of the ACR also wishes to avoid war. Rethabile knows the ABN has its own reasons for doing what it does, and if they go too far, then even the Royal Family will be forced to go all out.
Lingji asks Stan if the Kashmir spirit field dispute was a result of an ABN hard-liner faction doing their own thing, and he affirms it as such. The ABN Leadership Council wanted the mining machines to stop, but the military opposed it for concern of looking weak. The COU Press Secretary has announced that they won’t attack if the machines are stopped, but not doing anything will give the hard-liners more power. Miyao comes to understand what this means: they must fulfill their orders neatly but not go too far in order to crush the sprouts of war. The squad leaders all express their gratitude that Miyao united them all, with Rethabile thanking him for sending the email, otherwise they all would’ve thought of themselves as game pieces.
A COU strategic officer announces that 8 squads including Baibao will destroy 8 mining machines, with full permission to respond to any attacks by the ABN military. Lingji tells her squad that they will attack only the mining machines and nothing else to send a message to the ABN hard-liners; human casualties must be avoided.
An ABN strategic officer states that three squads led by Thalathat Suyuf will head in to protect an ACR Libyan refugee camp located on land leased from the ABN. The camp is holding a Leader of Peace who must be protected, as the ABN government wants to retrieve them. Naomi comes to understand that they’re buying time for a political solution to be made, as ACR Libya’s borders are like a minefield, and many old people in power are rushing to solve the issue and gain more influence. Naima hopes the ABN will accept the refugees seeking asylum.
Rethabile sends a message to all of her squad mates, telling them that their only mission is to make the AOU Atlantic Fleet retreat, and they’re merely paying them a visit. This will be the first campaign of the Aerial Knight Corps, and they will fight with honor.
In the center of Japan lay the Glass Sea, a 100 kilometer in radius crater created in World War III by a solar warhead. Miyao’s squad exits a vehicle parked on the edge of the Glass Sea. In order to keep up stealth, Warcat had to fly by skimming over the surface of the ground. Gunhild says the 8MS flow conditions are favorable, so they should be able to avoid alerting the enemy until they make contact. Warcat banters with each other, and Keropoyo announces that the command center has ordered them to begin the operation. Warcat runs and jumps into the crater, igniting their boosters with a splash of angel feathers.
The sounds of construction could be heard in the center of the Glass Sea, where 4D printers were building anti-aircraft equipment. If these had been completed, the COU could grasp the initiative all over the entire Glass Sea. A COU colonel marvels at the construction of the equipment and gloats, saying the AOU can’t possibly beat them. An officer tells him that the COU air force won’t be flying for 24 hours, and the colonel gets angry. The officer secretly messages Toujirou and thanks him for the financial support. Toujirou expresses his sentiment for breaking the “old assholes'” gameboard, and the officer recites the Three Kings’ creed.
A news anchor comments on ABN Pakistan still continuing their mining operations, where the ABN’s complicated political situation has led to a bizarre problem where nobody has authority to stop the mining machines. The news then shows citizens in Islamabad protesting the government, with the police starting to fire off tear gas. The broadcast is turned off by an ABN officer, who shows glee in his exploitation of the spirit fields.
The captain of the aircraft carrier Roger Jamison speaks to a high-ranking AOU officer, who tells him that the ACR will not withdraw from the Atlantis Spirit Field, so the Atlantic Fleet should prepare to fight. The captain opposes this order, as the Atlantic Fleet is supposed to uphold the Walls of Peace; the officer doesn’t like this pacifistic attitude and wants to take command of the ship, but the captain ends the transmission. The captain orders every ship to standby and forbids them from attacking unless he gives the order or they get hit. Another officer is concerned that they’ll be destroyed if the ACR launches a saturation attack, and the captain expresses his faith in Vice-Admiral Krumar, the First Captain of the ACR Atlantis; they were rivals in the Battle Standard Festival, and Krumar should be aware the captain is commanding the fleet and will avoid unnecessary combat.
A caravan of ACR military vehicles drives into an ABN refugee camp. An international volunteer protests that the ACR military isn’t allowed to trespass in an ABN base, and an ACR officer goes off on them, calling the refugee camp a rallying point for terrorists who oppose His Majesty. The officer was searching for a certain man, a Leader of Peace, wanting to arrest him as a suspected spy. Many religions and races had existed in Africa, and the Hero King, the founder of the ACR, had united them all very forcefully, so there were a good number of people that couldn’t stay in the ACR. These people leased land from the ABN and formed a refugee camp, and the camp’s existence was ignored for a long time to prevent tension between the ABN and ACR. In recent years, extremist ACR generals claimed that the camp was hiding terrorists that objected to the foundation of the ACR. The volunteer tries to defend the Leader of Peace, saying he was only helping refugees out of goodwill, and the officer threatens that they will kill the people in this camp one by one unless the Leader shows himself; they won’t actually kill anyone, the officer just wants the credit for finding the man. The volunteer is horrified to hear that the ACR officer is doing something so cruel just to boost his career, and another officer announces that they’ve arrested the man. The vehicles are thus ordered to move out before the ABN military shows up, or else things will get messy.
Atlantis Spirit Field
The Atlantis Spirit Field was named as such because it was located in a region where the legendary continent of Atlantis supposedly once existed. The spirit field was the ACR’s greatest supply of Spiritum, and there were disputes with the AOU over who actually owned it. The ACR stationed the Atlantis there for protection, a true fortress on the sea. Vice-Admiral Krumar opens communications with Rethabile, who asks if Krumar has been ordered to decouple the Atlantis and enter an intercept formation. The admiral affirms such, and Rethabile tells him not to worry, as they can stay coupled and claim that the decoupling mechanism wasn’t working properly. Rethabile tells Krumar to leave it to the Aerial Knight Corps to deal with the AOU. Despite the admiral’s pleadings, Rethabile assures him that there is no danger, echoing Krumar’s own words that the person in charge of the AOU fleet is a respectful peace-loving man. If the fleet doesn’t respond in kind, however, Rethabile won’t hesitate to show them the might of the Aerial Knight Corps.
Krumar accepts Rethabile’s plan and wishes her luck. A lower-rank officer asks if this is really a good idea, and Krumar sends an order to the rest of the Atlantis fleet to stand firm.
A COU colonel and officer argue. The officer says they were only constructing a base with the assurance they would have air support, and the colonel wants to push forward anyway using the military’s fighting spirit. The officer asks who will take responsibility if they get attacked, and the colonel replies that he’ll just push the blame onto the lower ranks and claim bravery. The colonel taunts the AOU and dares them to attack, getting surprised by a vehicle exploding behind him. Jayden celebrates having destroyed the vehicle and Miyao berates him for shooting the fuel tanks, asking what would happen if someone got caught in the explosion. Jayden made sure there was nobody around, zooming off to the next target as Miyao follows. Warcat was using anti-material rifles to snipe the anti-aircraft vehicles with super high density shells, the same kind of weapons used by anti-tank infantry. The rifles’ power dropped off with distance, so the Gauntlet Knights were flying in close to use them. COU soldiers fire at the Gauntlet Knights, but their bullets have no effect thanks to the Rejection Shields. The soldiers fall back, and Warcat destroys the other vehicles in succession. The command center confirms that the Warcats have completed their mission and emerged unscathed, informing them that fighter squadrons are flying in to deliver a missile strike. Miyao calls his fellow Warcats to return to the base, and the COU colonel gazes at the destroyed anti-aircraft vehicles in despair. As the COU military retreats, they look back at the ninjas in the sky that are Gauntlet Knights, flying away and leaving behind trails of angel feathers.
In ABN Pakistan, the air defense system wasn’t working properly because the Gauntlet Knights are too close for it to function. The soldiers could hardly believe that Gauntlet Knights were actually capable of fighting outside the simulators, with an ABN officer raging over his mining machines getting destroyed. Lingji confirms that neither side has suffered any casualties, with Aysha saying that a good number of soldiers have stopped firing and are now filming them. Momotake regrets that after this day, all existing military might will become obsolete because of how well the Gauntlets perform.
Lingji prepares to destroy the last mining machine, but Aysha holds her back so Momotake can show off. The wannabe samurai stammers, and Lingji allows him to show off his finishing move. Upon hearing that Momotake also came up with a name for his move, Lingji becomes excited to see it in action. Blushing, Momotake dashes over to the last mining machine and takes a stance. As Momotake focuses, Aysha spurs him on to use his finishing move and call out its name, not wanting to waste all the time she spent helping him with it. Momotake struggles to get the words out and winds up biting his tongue, much to Aysha’s disappointment. Regardless, Momotake unleashes his Dimensional Slice, cleaving the machine in two as the ABN officer watches in despair. Momotake gives a one-liner and also butchers it, turning even more red.
Stan informs his squad mates that they’ll be reaching the target in five minutes, reminding them of their mission to secure the Leader of Peace and defend the camp. The command center calls to update the mission, saying the ACR military has invaded the camp and abducted the VIP. The squad receives images of the VIP’s face and info about his physique, where he also has a military tracking device on him. The command center believes the VIP is being taken to an airforce base and will be transported by air, so the situation will get more dangerous the closer the convoy gets. Stan understands the new situation, and Naomi wonders why a Leader of Peace in a refugee camp would have an ABN tracker on him. Naima ssumes it was given to him as a good luck charm.
Rethabile contacts the captain of the Roger Jamison and asks that the fleet return to port. Neither side wanted to fight, but there might be war hawks within the fleets that would overreact or “accidentally” trigger a conflict. Rethabile and her squad stalling could give the politicians time to cool their heads and negotiate peacefully, but negotiating in such a volatile situation like this was like playing poker without chips; both fleets needed to put as much distance between them as possible. The captain of the Roger Jamison wants to uphold peace, but as a soldier he cannot disobey orders to retreat. He asks if Rethabile’s squad can possibly stand up to the Atlantic Fleet, and the princess tells him to take a defensive position, as her squad mates will soon come into range. Rethabile wants the fleet to fire everything they have. The captain orders his men to prepare, who begin to wonder if Gauntlet Knights really could exist in real life.
- Strategy Meeting [Imagawa Akito Ver] (Warcat receives a mission briefing)
- Rouge (Miyao hatches a plan with the other Gauntlet Knights)
- Evil Schemes (Warcat heads to the Glass Sea)
- Genius Children (Warcat destroy the COU vehicles with no casualties)
- Strategy Meeting [Imagawa Akito Ver] (Thalathat Suyuf is ordered to rescue a Leader of Peace)
Chapter 12: A Gift
- "First move to e4? No, no,
not the pawn, the queen.
Just grab it, hold it at this angle, and go for the eyes."
- — How to win at chess
Saint Florian International Airport
An announcer welcomes travelers to the Saint Florian International Airport in the ABN. The news reports that AOU Japan has taken military action against COU Japan’s anti-aircraft base on the Glass Sea. After a siren, another news report comes up that the COU Combined Military has attacked ABN Pakistan in the Kashmir Spirit Field. Many people were stopping in their tracks to watch the news bulletin, as hearing of their home factions getting attacked was enough cause for concern. Seshat lounges in the airport, commenting that things have finally begun. She messages Toujirou and asks if his son has made an appearance yet. Toujirou affirms it, as Gauntlet Knight fever has taken over and they’ve started giving out Medals of Honor. Seshat congratulates Miyao for destroying the targets without any deaths, and Toujirou hopes his son understands that it’ll take more than that to stop a war. Seshat says kids truly believe that they’re the main characters of the world and that the only game pieces that exist are those they can see. She says the old always fall, with the young being the ones to defeat them; Sehsat hopes Miyao will be the person to do it. Toujirou would be very happy if Miyao were to step over his corpse, calling it the greatest thing to make a father proud. Toujirou then starts gushing over how cute Miyao was as a baby and Seshat interrupts to say she’s beginning her job. Toujirou says there’s no need for her to get her hands dirty, and Seshat says she must interrogate traitors personally and pass judgement as the Grand Master. Seshat welcomed in that person personally, so she must take responsibility. There’s a 99% chance they’re guilty, and she must believe in that other 1%; Seshat cannot decide it through video or electronic information, rather it must be face-to-face. Seshat finally signs off, asking for Toujirou to believe in that man’s innocence.
Seshat notices that hidden cameras were placed everywhere in the airport, leaving no blind spots. She walks through a VIP area reserved only for P4 passholders, which celebrities and business executives could get a membership for by paying 10,000 credits annually. Despite access to this area being given to those trusted by society, Seshat was still being tracked by at least three cameras, monitored by an AI that would shift to a higher surveillance state if it detected anybody doing anything suspicious. As such, the AI shifts to a higher level after Seshat stops in front of a door. Behind this door were rentable conference rooms, and the AI knew Seshat didn’t have an entrance pass. The cameras monitor Seshat’s movements more precisely as she conjures a green tablet in her hand. The AI tries to determine the tablet’s model and fails, raising the suspicion level even higher. Mental tablets were commonplace in A3W, but midair tablets like Seshat’s were more popular half a century ago. One could use midair tablets to type in empty space; it was taxing on the fingers and led to poor public reception, but there were still people who enjoyed using them.
Seshat opens the previously locked door and enters. The AI determines that access was gained through improper means, raising the suspicion level high enough to alert airport security. Before it can, however, Keropoyo suddenly appears and issues commands to lower the security level. The security level returns to that of a normal state, with Seshat’s data being completely erased; the AI no longer identified the Grand Master as an object. Pleased by this development, Seshat asks Keropoyo to also delete all records of her from the time she arrived at the airport. It’s been a while since she took a trip in the flesh, so Seshat made some small mistakes. All the data collected by the AI was summarily erased, and Keropoyo searched through the security system for video recordings and altered them, with the outie frog starting lose function as it works. It was normally impossible to interfere with a security system on the same level as the ABN international airport, as they were well-equipped to deal with terrorism. Seshat casually hacked the system as if she were adjusting a thermostat, and a massive amount of machine power was needed to do it. If Seshat were using a Selcom for this, she would be using her own brain to process the hack, and no single human brain could ever manage that. Keropoyo successfully finishes deleting Seshat from airport records, and the Grand Master tells the frog to rest, turning it off. Seshat heads inside to pass judgment.
Several old military generals were sitting in a conference room and watching the news on their mental displays. The COU’s attack in the Kashmir Spirit Field was the first live combat scenario and major victory featuring Gauntlet Knights, and videos of the event were circulating worldwide, causing a great stir. A LATO officer is forced to admit that things are proceeding as predicted, with a suited man, Mr. Gray, telling him that there really does exist a group trying to restart civilization: the World Reset Cult. Throughout history, many elites have become enamored with the idea that humanity is foolish and must be thinned out so civilization may be made more wonderful. World Reset Cults such as these were a popular concept used in movies and novels, and it was hard to believe they could actually exist. No one of high influence and wealth would want to destroy the world and render all those resources useless. Gray gestures to a folder on the table, a written plan by the Three Kings; the prophecy of the world’s destruction was written within that folder. The LATO IPMA is the only people who can stop this plan, with the officer thinking this means bringing about the A4W era. Gray agrees, saying that out of the five great factions, LATO must lead the new world order. Not only was LATO seen as the world’s police, they contained some of the richest countries in the world because of its monopoly of Rare Spiritum. In B3W, LATO wasn’t able to face the same amount of success, and the idea of becoming the leaders of a new world order by fighting a world war-waging cult was very enticing.
Valentine and Maricarmen were standing nearby as guards. Tina finds the idea of World Reset Cults ridiculous with Mari thinking the same way, mentioning how Gray has brought something that would convince them to believe. The officer says LATO would never abandon their duty to achieve world peace, but unless they can make something to surpass Gauntlets, then world war is unavoidable; LATO had a lead on Gauntlet development because of their abundant military funding, but it was not enough. Gray says he can offer technology to help with that and pulls out a duralumin case.
The officer asks what’s inside the case and is told that Wisdom is inside. Seshat suddenly appears, being met by shocked gazes from everyone except Gray. Seshat says Wisdom is beyond humanity’s understanding, but those who actually call it Wisdom are insane, with the Grand Master preferring to call it by number. Seshat refers to the wisdom inside the case as 19080630, something that might be the key to Vier Dreissig’s search for “The Third Missing Link,” something most of humanity would recognize as just a geometric object. If used properly, this wisdom could stop wars before they even start, but Seshat requires this world war to happen. Gray introduces Seshat as his superior officer, a member of the World Reset Cult and the Grand Master of the Order of Prometheus. Seshat sees through the his ruse, with Gray replying that this was their last chance to stop WWIV.
Tina and Mari conjure their Gauntlets, with the other soldiers in the room drawing their weapons and aiming them at Seshat. Seshat asks Gray if he admits to betraying their order, and the suited man replies that Seshat betrayed their order. The Order of Prometheus' goal was to protect wisdom and use it to save humanity at the right time; now is the time to use it, as the Three Kings are preparing to destroy the world. Seshat asks Gray to remember where their Order came from, with him replying that they were a brother to the Ninth Prime Chivalric Order.
Gray realizes that even though they separated, their goals have remained the same. He accuses Seshat of having sold the pride of the Order of Prometheus to the Three Kings, and Seshat admits to it; Seshat and Gray are both traitors to each other. Seshat asks to have her wisdom back, with Gray saying wisdom should belong to all of humanity. Gray demands that Seshat step down as Grand Master, motioning for the LATO officer to take her into custody. Confused, the office orders for the Gauntlet Knights and soldiers to take aim at Seshat. Mari deploys an electric gun and fires it, rendering Seshat’s Selcom inoperable. Law enforcement agencies worldwide used these weapons to disable the Selcoms of anybody they needed to arrest, as restraining someone’s body wouldn't disable their Selcom. Gray asks for Seshat to interact with him more amicably, saying she can use her other pieces of wisdom and connections more effectively. Seshat decides she has had enough of Gray and determines that he is guilty, summoning her Gauntlet as a flash of white is seen.
A hole is blown into the ACR vehicle containing the captured Leader of Peace, leaving the soldiers inside stunned. Naima flies inside, sees the handcuffed VIP and presses her face up to his, scanning his eyes and confirming that he’s the target because his retina pattern matches. The soldiers realize what’s going on and draw their handguns, but they’re knocked away by Naima’s Rejection Shield. Naima grabs the VIP and flies back into the air with him, taking extra care not to harm him since he doesn’t have the Anti-G 8MS that GKs have. An ACR officer orders everyone to fire and Naima is soon showered with bullets, all blocked by her Shield once more. Naomi throws several smoke grenades to provide cover, and Stan shoots at the convoy using a revolver cannon to distract them. By the time the smoke settles and the soldiers regain their composure, Thalathat Suyuf has already escaped with the Leader of Peace.
Naomi commends Naima for being able to fly towards the target after pinpointing them from so far up and stopping in front of him so precisely. Stan suggests to give her some sedative, as Naima is acting overexcited from performing this feat. Naomi says to leave her for a while since it’s their squad's first major victory, and Miyao sends her a message saying Warcat has succeeded on their end. Stan says Lingji has also succeeded, if the COU news coverage is anything to go by. Naomi hopes Rethabile succeeds in her mission too, saying the world will change a lot after today. Naima chimes in with extreme excitement over young people becoming the guardians of peace, and Naomi then gives her some meds. Rethabile soon sends a message to all Public Bath members which is just a Keropoyo stamp, indicating things have gone smoothly.
Atlantis Spirit Field
Squad 601 flies over the sea, a carrier fleet disappearing in the opposite direction. Ishak tells Rethabile not to use such forceful methods next time, as the Rejection Shield isn’t that invincible. Rethabile voices her enthusiasm for cutting down the sprouts of war, with Abdou surprised that the princess would be moved by Miyao’s Public Bath Oath; ideals without power are just naive delusions, yet Gauntlet Knights have the power to protect peace worldwide and make those ideals reality. Ishak suggests changing the story a bit so Rethabile gets the credit for the Public Bath Oath instead of Miyao, which the princess likes. Abdou then starts shaking at the sensation of having fought off a carrier fleet, and Rethabile says it wasn’t a fight, more like giving them a forward-looking present.
An AOU officer talks to the captain of the Roger Jamison and demands to know why they’re retreating. The captain says he already sent the battle data to the command center, which the officer has not seen at all. Regardless of what the data shows, the Atlantic Fleet was unable to fight three Gauntlet Knights and accepted a gift from the ACR Commonwealth King, now returning to port. Confused by the use of “gift,” the officer looks at an image of the bridge and asks what these objects are: they're ACR heavy torpedoes. Rethabile had announced to the fleet that she would initiate hostile engagement, and the soldiers took battle stations. Squad 601 intercepted and blocked all of the fleet’s torpedoes and air-to-air missiles. The GKs then touched down on the flagship and cut into the bridge using a tool. Rethabile asked for the fleet to surrender and left a courtesy gift, pulling several torpedoes out of her Dimension Container and leaving them behind. The fuses in the torpedoes were taken out so there was no danger, but in order to remove these objects from the ship, they had to return to port. Angered, the officer starts berating the captain, who replies that the times have changed now. They didn’t understand the Gauntlet Knights until the day they were used, and they pretended not to notice that new technology was overriding their future. The officer then gets so irritated that he faints, and the captain continues to wax poetic about how old soldiers who can’t accept the new era must withdraw before ending the transmission.
Soldiers were supposed to obey orders without question, but with the start of A3W, people became more concerned about eradicating WMDs and maintaining a healthy military balance. The struggle for medals in the Battle Standard Festival turned soldiers into sports contestants, causing the bad aspects of soldiers and athletes to fuse together and bolster support in the theory that fighting spirit trumps all. The military became reformed around the idea of fighting spirit, and old people clinging to past glory were controlling young people and forcing them to suffer like they did. The creation of Gauntlet Knights allowed young people to take back the role of “servants of peace” from those old people in the military. Some of those soldiers in the Atlantic Fleet were still in shock, but some of them understood that they just witnessed the dawn of a new age.
Saint Florian International Airport
Inside the airport, the news reports that the AOU Atlantic Fleet has pulled a u-turn after the ACR Aerial Augmented Infantry repelled their advance. Seshat sits in the first-class section of a passenger jet, ordering something from a flight attendant.
Mari wakes up inside a hospital, with Tina standing nearby watching her. Tina says they were all found lying on the floor of an airport conference room, apparently having been sent there to guard His Excellency. Tina isn’t able to remember much after that, but neither could anybody else, including His Excellency. Mari thinks they were attacked and their memories erased, but Tina says it’s unrealistic. Selcoms wrote data to the brain like a hard drive, and it wouldn’t be impossible to make technology to delete someone’s memories, but Selcoms only affected unused parts of the brain; it couldn’t interfere with the parts a human normally used. Selcoms could install and delete apps, but they couldn’t affect memories. Supposedly, memory rewrites had been achieved in labs but only on rats, requiring a ridiculous amount of time and equipment. Rewriting human memories was virtually impossible, to say the least.
Mari suggests looking through the airport’s security footage to figure out why they were all lying on the floor, and Tina says there was nothing; no data was found that looked suspicious at all. Even His Excellency’s notebook, which should’ve contained an analog record, didn’t provide any info, leading Tina to think it was also erased. His Excellency thought they were victims of a high-level attack and asked LATO to investigate the matter, but he was told to forget everything and pretend like nothing ever happened. Mari shows a lot of confusion to this development, jokingly suggesting that aliens wiped their memories. An earthquake then suddenly rumbles; modern earthquakes were common in the A3W world, but this earthquake felt more like a monster pulsating in an abyss.
Seshat orders champagne, saying she’s run out of gas from performing a little job like this.
- Evil Schemes (Seshat speaks with Toujirou)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Gray tells of the Three Kings)
- Evil Schemes (Seshat appears in the meeting)
- Genius Children (Thalathat Suyuf rescues the Leader of Peace)
- Advancing (Squad 601 returns from dealing with the Atlantic Fleet)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Mari and Tina wake up in the hospital)
Chapter 13: Proof of a Program
- "Chess is a game where opponents compete for victory.
As long as you take your opponent's king,
it doesn't matter how many other pieces you lose."
- — Introduction to Chess for Good Kids
The virtual room was amass with activity from Gauntlet Knights all over the world, including some fresh faces. Keropoyo was unable to render these hundreds of avatars and only displayed a few dozen of them. The aces bragged about their feats and gave compliments to each other, analyzing their battle data as well. News stations worldwide announced that Gauntlet Knights were the new face of military might, a reversal from how they were always being treated like esport gamers and exhibitionist flyers.
Lilja, Sujatha, and several others expressed jealousy at not being able to go into combat, but they were still happy to know that Gauntlet Knights were getting the praise they deserved. The warmongers in the militaries worldwide should have received enough of a shock, but it’s still not enough to completely eradicate war. Andry says the people in charge of the Kashmir Spirit Field started arguing over whose fault it was to start mining, and the masterminds are all trying to weasel out of it. Miyao says preventing warmongers from accomplishing anything will make them lose their positions, which should be a surefire way to preserve peace.
Many of the Knights happily agreed with Miyao’s position, but others were more concerned about the state of the world going forward. Each faction had responded differently to the simultaneous Gauntlet Knight battles. When the AOU announced victory in the Glass Sea, Gauntlet Knights became hailed as heroes of a new era. Hollywood would probably be pumping out scripts about GKs, and there were lots of calls by citizens for a return to the B3W era’s glory. Meanwhile, the incident with Rethabile’s squad repelling the Atlantic Fleet was being covered up and barely being reported on by the media. Young people on the internet already knew the ACR GKs had fought off the fleet, and distrust of the media grew.
The COU announced victory in their attack on the Kashmir Spirit Field, and after the initial praise died down, criticisms regarding the Glass Sea incident grew more prominent. There was much outcry from COU citizens to pay the AOU back, and thus the COU made a rash decision in taking preemptive action against the AOU, being met with more criticism. The appearance of Gauntlet Knights meant the attackers were placing more pressure against the Walls of Peace, and the defending side needed to apply just as much pressure; a new cold war had emerged, only with GKs instead of nuclear weapons. In the interests of maintaining a healthy military balance, Stephania suggests that the COU made the right choice here.
The ABN treated their rescue of the hostage as a protective measure taken for the sake of human rights, with the public barely garnering any interest in this event. Even though they were attacked by the COU in the Kashmir Spirit Field, it was determined that a small group of military officials were responsible, having started mining for personal gain. Nobody was killed, so the ABN dismissed said officials and reopened negotiations with the COU to resolve things peacefully. Aysha wonders if it was really such a good idea to pander one-sidedly to the COU, and Naomi says it was also the right decision to make for preserving world peace.
Abdou says they should ease up on their attacks, as Rethabile was being treated like a goddess of war for her repelling of the Atlantic Fleet. It soon gave rise to sentiments in ACR citizens that they should repay the world for all the years Africa had been colonized and faced suffering. Gannet says more and more people are saying that they’re unpatriotic for not sharing the same views, and the other Knights ruminate on this, having heard it many times before. Many people on the net want the GKs to attack the Atlantis after hearing that they lost, and Lingji’s relatives are asking her to take revenge for what happened in the COU.
Nationalism existed in every country, and it had to be taken in small doses for the sake of military balance. Nationalism combined with peer pressure leads to a deadly social chemistry, which the Healthy Military Balance Oversight Committee has always emphasized; too much nationalism would cripple a nation’s ability to reason. The knights lament that the world doesn’t seem to understand what they’ve done by dispelling military tensions, and Koshka sarcastically says people who group together never produce anything good. Koshka accepted the Public Bath Oath on the surface, but she wasn’t actually interested in it and just bowed to peer pressure. Despite Koshka’s sarcasm, some of the other knights wondered if the Public Bath really was enough to pluck the sprouts of war; everyone looked like they were celebrating, but there was a hint of unease deep down. It was possible that the Gauntlet Knights would all fight each other someday, and everyone including Miyao was pretending not to notice.
Miyao’s Mental Space
Miyao asks if Miyao really believes that deepening his friendship with the other GKs would prevent a world war. Miyao remembers their oath where if the GKs fight and someone’s shield breaks, they’ll just retreat, and the losers won't be pursued. Miyao says buying time by fixing fights won’t lead anywhere. While it was the job of guardians of peace to buy time, there were other methods to use. Miyao says the only thing that can satiate warmongers is bloodshed, especially the bloodshed resulting from people killing each other. The old always appreciated the young sacrificing their lives for them, and once the internet starts filling with pictures of young Gauntlet Knights turning into mincemeat, that should make the old come to their senses. The idea that their own grandchildren could have faced the same fate will make them lose their taste for war; time alone cannot do that. Miyao harkens back to those legendary news photos in the past that triggered public opposition to war, asking Miyao to think of how many young people lay dead in them; humans fear death, and witnessing death will make them calm down.
Miyao says the Knights definitely won’t die in vain, then asks Miyao why he suddenly showed up like this and has the same face. Miyao says he and Miyao are one and the same, with the blue-bodied one being a “new” Miyao planted inside of him. Miyao refuses to accept that Miyao could be a new personality of his and denies that he ever existed. Miyao reminds him that he not a personality but a program; Miyao asks what kind of program Miyao is then and demands to see proof. Miyao replies that he exists to kick him out, claiming he and Miyao are both programs, copies of the real Miyao Mitake’s soul, who used to exist. An image of Miyao lying on the ground is then displayed. A Gauntlet is visible in the picture, and one could tell Miyao had been in fierce combat, but the right half of his body was missing; this was an image of a Miyao Mitake that was undeniably dead. Miyao thinks his other self is insinuating that the real Miyao is dead and he’s just an AI modeled after him, recalling his memories of his friends, his dad and his training experiences. Miyao asks what he would do it it turned out that his Selcom just installed all of those memories one day and tricked him into thinking he was Miyao Mitake; having human memories does not prove he is human.
Miyao retorts by asking how Miyao can disprove him, saying the image of his corpse could be fake. Miyao admits defeat on that aspect, and then claims he can prove Miyao is a program. A certain reaction had been planted in him, one that the real Miyao Mitake would never show. Miyao is supposed to be a murder program created for the sake of killing someone. Miyao’s going to show an image of said person, and Miyao should realize something is wrong once he sees it. Miyao has never interacted with this person or seen them ever since he was born, and when he see it Miyao’s murder-switch will flip in an instant, and he will kill anybody who gets in the way of his objective.
Miyao claims that Miyao's journey in becoming the best Gauntlet Knight in the world was all for the sake of carrying out his murder program. Miyao asks why Miyao doesn’t just delete him if they’re both programs and he’s supposed to kick him out; Miyao says he wouldn’t have taken the time to show up like this if it were possible. The trigger is finally pulled on Miyao’s murder program as Miyao shows him the image. Miyao, with doubt, says there's nothing happening, but is cut off before he can even finish his sentence, a black screen appearing with Miyao merely saying, “What…?”
A narrator wakes up inside a factory, seeing machinery and cogs everywhere. A track like that of a meat processing factory had naked humans hanging by their necks from hooks and cycling through various machines. Men and women, young and old, many live humans were being processed. They were all barely conscious thanks to paralyzing gas, and they were all crying and screaming. There were humans with clothes still on who were dipped into a vat of chemicals, their clothes, hair and skin melting off soon after. The humans were then passed through various inspection machines, with no regard to their size or age. The narrator finds it fortunate that their family is still with them, seeing their brother hanging in front of them with their parents in the distance. The narrator is put into a machine that sticks needles into their ears to analyze something as Dad is split off into a different group.
The narrator sees Dad heading towards a machine making loud crunching noises, hacking apart anybody who was carried into it. Their arms and legs fell onto another track and were swallowed up into another machine. The family continues passing through inspection machines, with the narrator beginning to regain their sense of pain; they felt happy to be with their family, and now that feeling was starting to disappear again. The sensation of pain finally returns and the narrator screams out, becoming fully aware of their situation and of everyone else around them. The narrator also hears Brother screaming in anguish and calling for their mom; he saw Mom being processed in a machine earlier, and Brother soon meets the same fate. A metal claw holds him in place as his arms and legs get lopped off, leaving behind his head and attached spinal cord, still twitching. The narrator understood that their brother was still alive, unable to cry out and suffering unbearable pain. Now it's the narrator’s turn, being held in place as sawblades pierce their skin.
Someone tells Miyao to listen closely, calling him adorable and saying that this “hell” is one they once experienced and will happen to Miyao's world in the future. This is a certain prophecy which can only be avoided if Miyao kills “them.” No matter what Miyao does, he must find and kill them.
- chat (The aces celebrate completing thier missions without bloodshed)
- Deeply Remember (The group talks about possible retaliation)
- To the Land of Some Time (The group talks about nationalism)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Miyao tells Miyao how to truly end war )
- The Witness Stand (Miyao is told he's a program)
- Miserable (The factory is shown)
Chapter 14: The Value and True Weight of Peace
- "The beginning of the end? You're behind the times.
It's the opposite. Here's how it should go: once it's begun,
it already has ended."
- — Mitake Toujirou.
AOU Japan’s decision to use military force against the COU is being praised as a wise move, even by other AOU nations. Various citizens are also voicing their support for AOU Japan, saying that dealing with problems immediately instead of putting them off for the next generation to deal with is a good idea.
A COU secretary gives a statement that the COU will be mobilizing their militaries to avoid another preemptive strike. A reporter says many view these statements as saber-rattling, that the COU is lacking resolve. People all over the COU internet are deriding the government and calling them cowards. Another person claims that those in the COU assembly were arrested on bribery charges.
Warcat and Baibao gather in the virtual room. Tensions between the AOU and COU were rising, and Lingji feels her squad will be ordered to attack soon. Of course, they’ll be doing the same thing they were doing earlier in avoiding casualties as much as possible. Miyao says buying time is still important for letting public opinion die down. Miyao finds it creepy how public opinion is getting very heated, as they seemed to switch from wanting peace to wanting war incredibly fast. Jayden wonders if it’s really someone scheming behind the scenes causing it, and Gunhild reminds Miyao of the Sarajevo Incident which triggered World War I. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28, 1914, and WWI started exactly one month later. Of course, there were other reasons that led to WWI, but with the technological advancement of A3W and how much faster information travels, such a war can happen even sooner. Everyone is silent, knowing that even humans acted on impulse sometimes. Passionate lovers can become enemies because of misunderstandings, and doing something unforgivable would have fatal results; individual humans could laugh off these issues, but entire countries?
Miyao hopes that these worldwide tensions can be laughed off if no one dies. Gunhild agrees, as if someone died, public opinion would explode in the COU, which still carried children by ciconia. The Gauntlet Knights reiterate their desire to avoid human casualties, with Aysha wishing they would just settle conflicts in the Virty Arena already.
Miyao asks if there’s still anything they can do, a melancholic expression appearing on his face. As guardians of peace, they must pluck the sprouts of war to buy time, but is that really everything they can do? Miyao wants to get it into the heads of those warmongers and calm them down, and Aysha and Gunhild say that kind of thing is better left to a politician. Jayden suggests they form an Army of Peace with every Gauntlet Knight in the world and smack down any country trying to wage war. Lingji says that job belongs to the IPMA, and they’re hardly doing their job at the moment; even LATO only exists because of balance between the other factions. Miyao thinks they can form that army now using Kizuna, and Jayden says they should do it, as the young are all main characters.
Miyao ruminates on his statement, feeling unconfident that he really was the main character; Gauntlet Knights are still pieces in the end. Miyao remembers how he wanted to learn chess when he was younger and got shocked by a line that said, “chess is a game where you try to take your opponent’s king. It doesn't matter how many other pieces you lose in exchange for that.” Chess is a war game with the ultimate goal of taking the opponent’s king no matter how many pieces are sacrificed. Even the kings are pieces, and pieces must obey the player’s orders. Would a queen piece get tired of war and appeal to their player, and if she can’t would she become a player herself? Miyao brushes off his uneasy feelings and proclaims that as the strongest people in the world, those with the burden of being Gauntlet Knights, they must use their power to stop the chessboard dead in its tracks. The group swears to end these conflicts by Christmas.
After sending another email to “the old bastard,” Miyao wonders if he got too hasty in sending it to Toujirou with his concerns over world peace. Keropoyo announces that Miyao has a call, signaled by a ringtone. Miyao soon picks up and talks with Toujirou about the idea of the young being the main characters of every era. Miyao once said that no matter how strong a piece is, they cannot escape the gameboard; Toujirou asks his son if it really isn’t possible to break that rule. Miyao says that if he breaks the rules of Gauntlet Knights, then he should become more than a GK.
Toujirou tells an anecdote of how he was in the military’s news department, and he asked for the position because he wanted to show people the true nature of world peace and how hard it was to protect. As Toujirou worked, he started to feel the same worries Miyao did, that he was merely being used by the higher-ups. Toujirou then formed his own secret society. Miyao gets shocked when hearing this, and Toujirou tells him not to get the wrong idea, saying it’s more like a chivalric order. In A3W, chivalric orders were not just organizations for knights. They were like clubs formed of people with similar interests. They would have a secret code and keep their existence hidden, but chivalric orders weren’t thought of as mysterious or profound. Long ago, there did exist secret societies like the Order of the Knights Templar, the Order of the Rosy Cross, and the Order of the Three Kings. These Orders had a thousand years of history to them, and elites all over the world were secret members, but now anybody can form an Order for something as simple as drinking out at bars. Toujirou realized that there were many other military reporters and officers who felt the same way and were getting worn out from trying to maintain world peace. Miyao asks what kind of Order it was, and Toujirou says he can’t answer that, as it would violate his code.
However, Toujirou explains that his order was like a hotline for peace that had members from various factions. Poor communication and misunderstandings would lead to fights and estrangement, and the Cuban Missile Crisis was one such example. A Soviet submarine carrying nuclear weapons was attacked by an American fleet that had no idea it had nukes. The submarine captain believed this was an act of war and moved to fire the nuclear torpedo, but another officer on board had vetoed the decision and stopped the firing. After a fierce argument, the captain reconsidered his position. On most submarines, the captain and a political officer’s approval was enough to launch a nuclear strike, but this was a special case since the other officer was the same rank as the captain and so they had to consult him. If this missile had launched, the A3W era might very well have become the Stone Age. After this incident, the US and USSR established connections and formed a hotline, so if similar incidents happened in the future, the heads of each country can talk directly.
Miyao realizes that his formation of the It’s a Wrap Public Bath was similar to what Toujirou did and feels a little embarrassed. With Toujirou’s order of military reporters, they could share information and get a bird’s-eye view of the world. Announcements made by the Foreign Affairs Department or the media were always tied to some faction, and this would influence articles. Even if someone means well, they talk about news from sources they don’t trust in a suspicious way and discuss trustworthy sources very naively and carefree. Toujirou’s order sought to catch those seeds of misunderstanding and crush them before it was too late to change things.
Miyao asks how Toujirou’s order views the current state of the world, including the affairs between the AOU and COU. Toujirou is unable to say anything about it because of their code, but he assures Miyao that they’re fighting every day, saying that “all is in the name of guiding humanity down the right path.” Miyao recognizes that catchphrase as secret code words said by the Order of the Three Kings. Toujirou asks Miyao if he feels better, and his son replies that he’s going to create a chivalric order too. Toujirou supports that decision, as the Gauntlet Knights will give Miyao much better advice than he can. They end the call, and Toujirou laughs to himself about how adorable Miyao is. He then wishes for Miyao to work hard, as the rest of the world won’t wait for him. Miyao probably thinks this eve-of-war atmosphere is the beginning of the end, but that’s not the case; once it has begun, it has already ended.
Toujirou enters a virtual room used by his order. While it was true that they were gathering information from all over the world, they were also learning of military events before they were publicly announced and selling this information if it influenced military-related businesses. War could break out in the world at any time, and Toujirou could control information even more than usual. A member, Comrade 211, opens a conversation with Toujirou, calling him Grand Master and reporting that they've obtained the minutes to a COU assembly meeting. Toujirou likes this news and reports that the AOU has no problems either. He especially likes that because the AOU has no ciconia, few people interact with generations other than their own, so it’s easier to make them play along. Comrade 211 replies that it’s the same in the COU, where people are still bound by old-world values of family and region, so they still submit easily to their elders. They could have reformed that philosophy in A3W, but didn’t.
TV broadcasts and public opinion graphs start appearing all over the virtual room, showing that public opinion in both the AOU and COU was reaching a level that put them on the brink of war. Toujirou muses, saying that nobody tries to collect information with their own hands, instead going to news sites and TV and thinking they know everything. When people encounter food prepared by someone they don’t know, they’re hesitant to eat it. These same kinds of people will blindly accept information without considering that someone may have tampered with it; idiots like them is why Toujirou’s group makes money. In B3W, there were growing concerns of food safety, so people started checking calorie count and pesticide data, later checking out pictures of the people who were supposed to be processing and growing their food. Articles on the other hand are assumed to be politically neutral, with many sources and writers either unnamed or nonexistent. People attempt to maintain a healthy nutritional balance, but do they try to maintain a healthy information balance?
Toujirou remembers that the ACR agricultural plant mishap is about to become public knowledge and asks his subordinate if they’ve sold their stock in it already. Comrade 211 replies that they have, laughing to themselves and soon exiting the room. Toujirou says there soon won’t be a world to use that money in as Seshat enters the room. She compliments Toujirou for stringing along the AOU and COU, and for having a lot of workers in his Order of the Wisteria. The members of the Order of the Wisteria are all motivated by greed, and they have no idea that their work is being used by Seshat. Toujirou says it’s about time to pop the balloon that is war, and Seshat figures the Three Kings are all prepared for that. Seshat thanks Toujirou for the COU minutes and says she’ll be tracking the movements of the Order of the Holy Ark. She also asks Toujirou if he’s heard anything from his ex-wife, and he replies that she’s out in the world somewhere and fulfilling her hobbies; it's unlikely that she'll be contacting a husband from her time as a game piece. After a brief pause, Seshat tells Toujirou that she’ll believe everything he’s said and suggests that he not betray their Order’s wishes. Toujirou promises such, and Seshat clarifies that she herself doesn’t mind being betrayed, just that the Order itself must not be betrayed. Seshat leaves off saying that she would rather not pass judgment on Toujirou and soon exits the room.
A look of concern appears on Toujirou’s face, and Jestress soon joins the room. She notes how she was kept waiting for a long time, figuring he was having a long conversation, and Toujirou apologizes. Jestress says the Three Kings want to suitably reward Toujirou for his work, and he calls it the highest form of praise one can get from them. Jestress reports that the 76 chivalric orders owned by the Kings are all prepared to wage war, also complimenting the Order of the Wisteria in that they alone could have started WWIV. Toujirou hopes the “invitations” will arrive safely; the Three Kings were intending to wipe out all of humanity, knowing that some people will still survive and repopulate, but if they overdid it, extinction of the human race will surely happen.
Jestress then asks Toujirou what he wants as a reward, and it better not be her body. He gestures towards Jestress’ mask, asking that she take it off. Jestress wasn’t really wearing a mask. It was actually a visor-shaped wearable terminal, a popular item before the age of mental displays. Jestress rejects his offer, as she’s fond of it. Toujirou tells her to keep it on in real life, instead requesting that she keeps it off when meeting him in a virtual room like this. Jestress thinks about it and then says she’ll do it, as the Three Kings would probably tell her to do it anyway. Since Jestress doesn’t have an avatar without a visor, she takes some time to put one together and soon pulls her mask off. One could see how troubled and youthful Jestress was despite her adult behavior. She asks if this is fine, and Toujirou says it reminds him of the time they first met. Jestress asks him how many times she’s told him to stop doing that.
- Evil Schemes (The Public Bath talks about public opinion)
- To the Land of Some Time (Miyao questions his role)
- Beach (Keropoyo tries to cheer up Miyao)
- T's Blues (Toujirou calls Miyao)
- Deeply Remember (Toujirou talks about his Order)
- Welcome to A3W (Toujirou enters the Order of the Wisteria's virtual room)
- The Witness Stand (Toujirou and Seshat speak)
- Miserable (Toujirou and Jestress speak)
Chapter 15: Forming a Chivalric Order
- "Find purpose. The means will follow."
- — Mahatma Gandhi
Miyao gathers Jayden and Gunhild in the virtual room and asks them what they think the sprouts of war really are. The COU bases built on the Glass Sea were one such sprout of war, as they caused tensions with the AOU. The Atlantic Fleet was another one, as they were going to attack first; by that logic, Warcat themselves were sprouts of war when they attacked the COU bases. The problem of who takes responsibility for attacking first is confusing, and Miyao thinks that, even though they are supposed to be guarding peace, they may end up contributing to war. Miyao’s concern is that while their earlier missions contributed to world peace, there may come a time when they get a new mission that benefits the AOU but results in a sprout of war. Soldiers in the AOU Combined Military were allowed to refuse a mission if it conflicted with their beliefs and conscience, but it was practically suicide, as a lot of paperwork would be involved in becoming a conscientious objector, and it would label them as unfit for soceity and result in a voluntary discharge. This would leave a mark on the soldier’s record, and they would be prevented from finding normal work as early as the background check.
Miyao realizes the seriousness of their conversation, questioning their beliefs and roles as Gauntlet Knights, and he wants to know what to do with all of their power. Miyao then announces that he wants to form a chivalric order. Jayden and Gunhild look at him in shock, and Miyao explains that Gauntlet Knights in this Order can refuse missions if they deem them detrimental to supporting the Walls of Peace. If Miyao were to be given a mission that would lead to becoming a sprout of war, he would accept it as a soldier but ensure it does not succeed as a guardian of peace. There are many excuses that could be given for why Miyao failed the mission, and if there was an enemy Gauntlet Knight involved, they could just say it was a draw. Jayden is amazed by how crazy this whole idea sounds and then agrees to join the order. Gunhild also joins, though they still need to work out the finer details. Miyao wants to get every Gauntlet Knight in the world involved, as they can’t do much with just the 3 of them.
Jayden asks what Grave Mole will think, and Gunhild says she already told Chloe about it. Chloe soon joins the room and voices her support for Miyao’s Order, saying they’re naturally justified in wanting to return the military to their original job as guardians of peace. Chloe loudly extolls the virtues of Miyao’s Order, calling him Grand Master and saying that every Gauntlet Knight in the world should join. The rest of Grave Mole soon enters, who see the Order as a way to slack off while on duty. Miyao asks if Lilja and Koshka will take this seriously, as they may go through an inquiry if they get arrested. Koshka doesn’t mind, saying she’s Geroy equipment and gets killed every time she goes in for maintenance. Lilja says she also doesn’t mind and insults Koshka, causing the two of them to fight as Chloe begs for them to stop. Chloe then pushes the punishment button, breaking them up. Miyao reiterates to Lilja and Koshka that because they’re in a sensitive position, things will get awful if word gets out to the higher-ups about his Order. The two girls promise that they’ll follow whatever Chloe tells them to do, and they soon leave the room. Chloe reassures Miyao that despite her comrades’ personalities, they really do sympathize with him; Gunhild figures them showing up was proof enough, as they were even in the middle of a game. Miyao feels better, as he was feeling confused and surprised after suddenly gaining six members after announcing his order. Jayden excitedly says that he wants to name the Order because he proposed it, and Miyao starts bickering with him over the name. Gunhild thinks they’ll wind up calling it “Order of the Public Bath (temporary name)” and adopt it later.
Gunhild then puts on a serious expression and says they should make a policy to decide who’s qualified to join, as it will become extremely risky if anybody can invite anybody. They decide that Miyao will be the only one recruiting for now, with the others offering nominations. If aces from other factions join, then they should be allowed to recruit as well. Miyao thinks about recruiting Lingji and Rethabile, but because Rethabile is a princess, it’s unclear if she’ll really agree to ignore ACR defeats. Gunhild reminds him that the Public Bath is meant to be a place without social classes or nationalities, and Jayden reassures Miyao that Rethabile will listen. He also suggests recruiting the ABN and LATO GKs, and Miyao agrees. Gunhild is sure that Stan will join, as they’d been talking with each other about their concerns for world peace. Jayden thinks the LATO girls will join, as he’d also been emailing them.
Miyao thinks to himself about how easily the Order of the Public Bath (temporary name) got approval and how they’ll need to judge the situation carefully going forward. He also thinks the name should be changed to something better.
A narrator sends a message to Jestress, saying Miyao’s creation of a chivalric order may cause problems down the line; a single tip-off should crush his order if need be. They’ll pretend to approve of Miyao’s order for now and see what happens later on. They end the message with the Three King's creed.
- Evil Schemes (Miyao talks with Jayden and Gunhild about making an Order)
- Deeply Remember (Miyao talks about the power of Gauntlet Knights)
- Underdogs (Miyao states he wants to make an Order)
- Deeply Remember (Miyao wants to recruit every Gauntlet Knight in the world for his Order)
- chat (Chloe shares her thoughts)
- Deeply Remember (Chloe assures that Lilja and Koshka sympathize with Miyao)
- Tan Smile (Miyao looks forward to what the Order of the Public Bath will do)
Chapter 16: It's a Wrap Public Lust?
- "This isn't about what's about to happen.
You got to think of it this way:
We're gonna make something happen!"
- — Mitake Miyao
Toujirou talks to an unknown person and laughs after hearing that Miyao made his own chivalric order when they just had a discussion about it. Upon being questioned, Toujirou says he doesn’t mind that Miyao is taking action on his own; he understands it’ll cause trouble if anyone hears about it, though it shouldn’t matter soon anyway. Keropoyo tells him that 15 minutes have passed and Toujirou says he needs to get back to work, ending contact with the unknown person and leaving off with an “I love you.” Toujirou then gazes upon dozens of worldwide news broadcasts. The public opinion everywhere was that military force should be used to solve all their problems. Human emotions typically sloshed about like waves, and it tended to shift to the left or right. With a world that has 10 billion people on it, even though it may look peaceful, the emotions of a country would sometimes sway drastically to the side.
If one were to roll a lot of dice, it wouldn’t be strange to get some ones, though if every die were a one, that would be reason to suspect somebody is behind it. While rolling all ones was mathematically possible, it was impossible for humans because they were built with a “divine program” to prevent universal agreement. Humans, like animals, live in societies. Their instincts encourage them to follow the majority opinion. Multiple conflicting views are what allow human intellect to function and rational decisions to be made, however if one side becomes overwhelmed, then peer pressure takes over and society’s will changes in an instant. At the same time, not every human follows the same direction, as they would’ve gone extinct long ago if that were the case. “God’s program” calls for a certain number of humans to be born with genes that make them resent the majority. Toujirou uses video upload sites as an example of this, noting that no matter how innocent or perfect the video may be, between 5 to 20% of viewers will reject the opinion of those who like the video; no matter how horrible or divisive a video may be, 5 to 20% of people will like it. For the longest time, people assumed that these people were all “evil,” but research at the end of B3W revealed that some of these “evil” people had a similar standard to the majority. In other words, evil people had a second standard that took priority over their honest opinions of the videos: dislike of the majority view. Whenever a crowd gathers, that’s reason enough for them to dislike something. Even normal people who aren’t aware of God’s program can notice it if they think: liking something and then losing interest when it becomes popular and famous, hating something just because they hear it has been all the rage. This fail-safe is what prevents humans from going extinct en-masse. No matter the groupthink, there will always be someone with God’s fail-safe to oppose it, and the smaller the minority, the more they refuse to join the majority. Perhaps the officer who stopped the nuclear launch in the Cuban Missile Crisis also had God’s failsafe inside him.
Totalitarian dictators have taken notice of these minority fail-safes and have tried to exterminate them, which proves difficult to do the more their numbers dwindle. Not only that, God’s program is designed to create more fail-safes when enough of them disappear, much like how animals will spontaneously change genders when many of the opposite gender disappear.
However, in A3W, every fail-safe has been eliminated, and everyone in the world unilaterally thinks that war will solve everything, the result of a fatal bug in God’s program. Toujirou’s Order of the Wisteria has taken advantage of that bug with their vast information and news network. Makeup commercials and such are always talking about their customer satisfaction rate, but it’s never 100%. If it really were 100%, people would think it’s fake and won’t conform. If the rate were changed to 80%, suddenly people agree; spicing up this fake minority with statistics and events to make them detestable will further push public opinion. Loading up these fictional minorities to cause disgust in normal people will cause them to fiercely hate these minorities, and the subconscious knowledge that there are enough people in a given minority means God’s program won’t activate. Such is the power of the Order of the Wisteria. With careful planning, an AI can set aflame message boards enough that the media reports on it, spreading that information like a chain of dominoes.
Toujirou presses a key on his input device, a grin appearing on his face.
Miyao, Lingji, Stan, and Rethabile are all gathered in the virtual room, having shown interest in the Order of the Public Bath. They all agreed that recruiting Gauntlet Knights from all over the world would be key, but they wouldn’t join unless they knew they could make it happen. Miyao repeats his spiel again, and Rethabile understands the need to hold back, seeing as how a single squad could wipe out an Atlantic Fleet. Stan understands that it would be disastrous for a single GK to go wild during a battle, however they already swore an oath during the Battle Festival. Miyao still thinks that following every order regardless won’t prevent casualties. He compares themselves to the fuse on a bomb, where the Gauntlet Knights are right on the end while regular people are in between. Regular people are letting the flame get closer and closer to the fuse and when the bomb explodes, they’re going to blame those right on the end. Miyao doesn’t want the GKs to live with the regret that they’re living in a post-WWIV world when they could’ve prevented it in the first place. Miyao rants on about how adults are always telling them to follow orders, and if they were ordered to kill a bunch of people then it would somehow not be their fault; this is not what guardians of peace are supposed to do.
Stan compares Miyao’s thoughts to that of a leader in a certain Nazi concentration camp back in A2W, who claimed they were “just following orders” yet were not given justice. Of course, there were Nazis who protected Jews, and Sugihara Chiune defied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and issued visas for Jews; they all acted according to their consciences instead of to higher authority. Miyao asks how many people they can save if they represent the ultimate form of military might, and Rethabile in return asks if becoming a conscientious objector will go against the A3W concept of maintaining a healthy military balance. Miyao reiterates that all they’ll be doing is making missions fail and avoiding casualties, and Stan asks what standards they’ll be using to decide such. Miyao suggests that they individually decide for themselves which missions they should and shouldn’t do, and the others agree; if Miyao were the only one to decide which missions to take, then they’d still be a fuse on the bomb. Having awakened to Miyao’s philosophy, Rethabile says she will ask the ACR Gauntlet Knights if they agree as well. Lingji and Stan will also recruit on their ends, however Stan asks Miyao to keep his hopes in check, as the ABN was very strict on thought policing; if the government found that someone intended to disobey them or the military, there would be consequences. Miyao thanks all of his friends for listening, and they all start talking about a better name for the Order of the Public Bath (temporary name). Lingji likes the current name because it reminds her that they all came together in It’s a Wrap Public Lust, and then suggests they be called the Order of Public Lust.
Valentina and Maricarmen soon join the room, with the latter complaining from entering the kanji wrong and getting errors. Soon, the LATO girls listened to Miyao’s concerns and agreed with them, however they won’t join the Order but instead will act as observers. Mari wants to watch Miyao’s Order and determine if they really have what it takes to dedicate themselves to peace, and Tina knows the Order will be watching them back to ensure the IPMA is doing its job; if they determine that the justice dealt by Miyao’s Order conflicts with the IPMA’s justice then they will be dealt with accordingly. Rethabile thinks the LATO girls’ opinions will be valuable, as they have an overview of the entire world. With Miyao as the Grand Master, Lingji, Rethabile, and Stanislaw as the branch leaders, the Masters, and the LATO girls as observers, this makes for six leaders of Miyao’s Order. Lingji suggests they recruit a seventh person, and Keropoyo suddenly announces that he wants to join. Miyao decides to make him the secretary of the Order, as he can easily scroll through the logs.
Lingji then suggests that they make a separate room for the Order of the Public Bath to differentiate it from It’s a Wrap Public Bath. Miyao asks Keropoyo to search for a wallpaper, who inputs keywords for “public bath” and “lust”; Miyao tells everyone to close their eyes after seeing the search results.
Monitors featuring Keropoyo start filling up the screen, with each one reporting worldwide cases of terrorist attacks and domestic violence. Children were being killed and politicians were being murdered. Governments worldwide are responding to these attacks and are preparing for military action.
Warcat is sent a Level 1 Emergency Deployment Order, and it is not a drill. A slamming sound is heard soon after.
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Toujirou laughs after hearing Miyao made an Order)
- Evil Schemes (Toujirou talks about God's program)
- The Witness Stand (Toujirou talks about the failsafe)
- Tan Smile (Miyao tells the other aces of his Order's goal)
- To the Land of Some Time (The aces ponder)
- Underdogs (The aces agree to join)
- chat (Mari and Tina arrive)
Chapter 17: Don't Die, Don't Kill
- "I can't decide which is more foolish.
Using warlike means to say you're for peace,
or using peaceful means to say you're for war."
- — John Winston
Miyao refuses to believe that World War IV is starting now. Though people are pushing against the Walls of Peace, it hasn’t completely broken down. In an AOU control room, plans are being made to push across the Glass Sea to prevent more bases from being built. The COU is planning to respond in kind. Miyao thinks back to his last mission in the Glass Sea, wondering if they were really sprouts of war for destroying the COU’s base. He determines that they were in the right as an operator gives Miyao instructions to destroy the COU’s 4D printers. Miyao relays this info to the ally squads Kingfisher and Tripleburger, demanding that they not try to show off. Jayden reminds them that their only enemies are the drones and printers, not the opposing Gauntlet Knights.
On the other side, Lingji tells her ally squads Sakurafubuki and Fudou that their goal is "do not die and do not kill”, as promised in the Public Bath. They all agree, and some doubt falls over Lingji as she wonders if all they can really do is delay war for a few days. She determines that, no matter how weak her power is, it’s still power, and even a single person can change the world. Miyao and Lingji both remind their squads to not die and not kill, the motto of Miyao’s Order. Chloe tells Miyao that Grave Mole is doing fine, with Lingji and Koshka excited to run wild on drones. In B3W, many people were afraid of combat drones because of the fear they would turn against humanity. This mindset changed in A3W, so now people were much more comfortable with combat drones, as large numbers of them could be deployed and destroyed without causing casualties. Because of the initial shock of Gauntlet Knights, soldiers started feeling very empty, so the front lines were populated entirely by drones.
Grave Mole was fighting in a buffer zone between AOU Russia and COU China, with each side of the Amur River being covered aflame with drone fire. Chloe and Lilja were defending with their own set of drones, and Koshka was sniping enemy observation drones. The control center tells Grave Mole that the Baba Yaga squad along with more drones are being sent to help them. AOU Russia and COU China had a long history of conflict over the Amur River, and treaties in B3W had resolved the issue, however society’s emotions could burst and would easily brush those treaties away. Lingji warns Chloe that Baibao will be preparing to attack Grave Mole, much to her surprise. Human emotions could be overwhelming, but over time, anger fades and calmness returns. Miyao hopes that the world will regain its calm and wants everyone to give it their all until then.
Miyao congratulates all the Gauntlet Knights and asks how things are doing. Stan reports that the ABN is still having scuffles and fighting is fierce between COU India and ACR Libya; skirmishes were erupting all over the world in places like buffer zones, national boundaries, and disputed territories. Though there are many potential sources of conflict between countries, making them sprout or not is the most important thing. Miyao and Lingji accept that Japan and China have had many disputes in the past, yet they’ve managed to get along. Miyao thinks it’s all because the old men in charge put them aside, but Stan thinks pushing them away is a sign of wisdom. To completely solve problems between two nations, some people resulted in genocide; Miyao asks why they couldn’t just talk it out peacefully instead. Lingji says that even if they did, the next generation would think it was an unfair decision and want to strike back or renegotiate, causing conflict once again. They’ve all inherited the embers of conflict from their ancestors, and all they can do is pass it on. Dejected, Miyao asks if problems between countries really can’t be resolved, and Lingji says it’s more like keeping a garden: friendship between countries needs to be maintained. The world has realized this after going through three world wars, and when they realized that future wars can be foreshadowed, they sealed up everything related to WWIII. Even now, the ACR is causing skirmishes over the Atlantis Spirit Field and the Mozambique Channel, and they’re also fighting with the ABN over the Mediterranean Sea; both factions think they’re in the right, and debating over it seems pointless. Putting problems aside may seem like a negative thing, but it has ensured that peace lasts.
Miyao still doesn’t understand why everybody in the world is getting so excited over going to war, as there’s usually some people who will get scared and say they actually oppose war. Rethabile says a few people in the ACR are like that, however they’re being spurred on by anti-monarchists. The ABN also has people like that, however they’re radical fundamentalists who oppose the integrated religion. Lingji found a group like that in the COU and thought to check their site to spread their views, but she trails off. Miyao agrees that, even though these organizations sound like anti-war groups, they don’t seem peaceful. Stan sends him a video with a “Viewer Discretion Advised” warning on it, an ABN news report of a religious fundamentalist group marching down a road and espousing anti-war sentiments, then beating up a boy after he made a rude hand gesture. Miyao thinks these guys are just thugs, however similar news reports were happening in the ACR and COU. Groups claiming to be peaceful are acting incredibly violent, and nobody can agree with them. People are afraid of saying that they support peace for fear of being associated with those violent groups.
A narrator says that these are the decoys made to be minority groups that people cannot agree with; the bug in God’s program.
Keropoyo suddenly announces breaking news worldwide. Apparently, there’s a virus going around that was created by ABN-allied countries long ago and was supposed to have been destroyed. As Stan and the masters of the Public Bath watch in shock, an announcer says their team working with LATO has determined that this virus is indeed Erbil L5, a weaponized virus created during B3W. It was named such because its first victims were discovered in Erbil, a city in northern Iraq. It was introduced into the city by some secret agent during the worldwide feuds occurring near the end of the B3W era, and it would target certain crops and destroy them. It destroyed many crops across the Middle East, and it was believed to be one of the triggers for World War III. After the start of A3W, research and storage of bioweapons and viruses became forbidden worldwide. The country that created Erbil L5, which joined the ABN, announced that they destroyed every trace of the virus, yet it has resurfaced. Miyao thinks a greedy warmonger recreated the virus and planned to frame the ABN for it; Stan agrees, though the other factions may not believe it. The current affected areas are the top half of Africa, AOU Russia, and COU India, which all surrounded the completely unaffected ABN. Rethabile thinks that, even if the ABN wasn’t researching the virus, they could still take measures to ensure their crops wouldn’t be affected in the future, with Stan refusing to believe such a thing. Keropoyo starts displaying news programs and message boards talking about the virus, pulling up several opinions that seemed to be representative. Massive famines will most likely occur in the affected areas and require food assistance programs to be set up worldwide. The ABN is being blamed for the spread of Erbil L5; Rethabile asks that, if they were to attack ABN agricultural plants, should they make the mission fail? Should they ignore that half the planet has been struck by a virus and ignore the damage done to ACR citizens? Stan figures the ABN will compensate them as taking responsibility for creating the virus in the first place, but the victims won’t be too happy.
Miyao laments once more that the Gauntlet Knights are unable to do anything, as all they have is swords; they have no eyes to find their true enemies and no shields to preemptively block attacks. Until the real enemy is found, affected people will continue crying out for revenge to be taken against the ABN, and if the Order of the Public Bath made that mission fail, their anger would only increase. Criticism of the government will increase, and either they will take more dramatic actions or fall into chaos until a solution is found. If the attack succeeds, the ABN will retaliate, and the cycle of revenge will be perpetuated. Lingji thinks that maybe Gauntlet Knights protecting peace was just a dream after all. Miyao says that they need to have eyes if they want to protect peace otherwise their efforts will be wasted, and the others assure him that his dreams are not meaningless. Miyao thinks they should recruit people from intelligence agencies or the police, but his suggestion is dissuaded since their Order’s goal may not be legal in some countries. Military regulations worldwide forbid the use of tools like Kizuna, and inviting military members will be too risky. The mood of the Battle Standard Festival has allowed all the Gauntlet Knights to get along, and now that warfare is taking place worldwide, some people are too afraid just to enter the virtual room. Rethabile understands Miyao’s concerns, however she wants him to give up on recruiting police and intelligence agents, otherwise she will disband the ACR from his Order; she cannot afford to put her friends who agreed. She knows Miyao wants to do more, but it’s not his place as a soldier. Miyao reluctantly accepts this idea, as despite his attempts to become more than a game piece, he is still a game piece, only able to move in certain directions. Rethabile soon leaves, as the ACR GKs have all been ordered to install map data for ABN agricultural plants. She will determine if the mission needs to fail, but if she withdraws, someone who hasn’t agreed to Miyao’s philosophy will take her place. Stan leaves as well, as the Peace Department has ordered them to raise their alert status to prepare for potential attacks. He and Lingji reassure Miyao that they are impressed with his Order and want to give him some time to relax. Miyao continues to lament his powerlessness.
- Strategy Meeting (The Gauntlet Knights are sent into combat)
- Deeply Remember (Miyao comments on everyone's success)
- Ominous3 (Miyao shows concern over not seeing anti-war groups)
- The Witness Stand (Keropoyo alerts everyone of Erbil L5)
- The June Sky is an Endless Blue... (Miyao faces a dilemma)
Chapter 18: God's Scenario
- "Only a fool learns from his own mistakes.
The wise man learns from the mistakes of others."
- — Otto von Bismarck
- "Only a fool learns from his own mistakes.
But the biggest fools learn from the internet."
- — Nonsense from the Internet
Toujirou writes an email to Miyao congratulating him and showing his respect for making a chivalric order for the sake of peace. He promises to offer his assistance if he learns anything. Toujirou says it’s possible that the kind of evil organization Miyao’s talking about doesn’t exist, as wars don’t just happen because someone wills it to happen, they’re a result of societies and countries. The only true evil would be a flaw in humans that makes them desire war. Toujirou advises Miyao that he not be impatient, as he’s likely being overwhelmed with feelings of responsibility and feels inclined to do something. The time will come when Miyao can fulfill his role in a way he understands.
Toujirou sends the email and laughs to himself, with Seshat asking what’s so funny. Toujirou gushes over how cute Miyao is, and Seshat remembers that he recently earned a Distinguished Service Medal; with a reward being given if he earns ten. Toujirou replies that the reward is an honorary position, honorable discharge, and lifetime pension, however nobody thus far has earned ten medals since there’s been no wars since the beginning of A3W. Seshat then asks what kind of email Miyao sent Toujirou, learning that he established a chivalric order with Gauntlet Knights for the sake of world peace. Seshat wonders if it’s part of the “plot,” and Toujirou replies that God’s scenario isn’t so flimsy that an Order like that could stop it. They think Miyao is a powerful trump card, though it’s unclear whose card he really is. Toujirou figures that if his ex-wife were to contact Miyao, he’d tell Toujirou about it. Seshat his ex-wife is also a powerful yet unknown trump card, and Toujirou compares them to Tetris. Any piece can get in the way if they’re misused, but setting them right will make them fall into place; Seshat wonders who’s really playing a game, them or “them.”
Jestress congratulates the success of Erbil L5’s spread. The King of Fury doesn’t like that secret information about the virus was leaked, as it ruined their plans; they intended to wipe out crops all over the world and didn’t even manage half of that. The King of Sorrow says they need to prepare two planets’ worth next time, and Jestress demeans them while suggesting they up it to three. The King of Ridicule is satisfied, as even though they hit 30% of the globe, it should be enough to affect humanity. He compares the situation to knitting, where making a mistake means undoing everything and starting over from where the mistake was made. Humanity tried to do this at the start of A3W, but they still went wrong; Jestress calls it proof that the Three Kings were incompetent back then, with Fury saying she was also incompetent at that time. Sorrow hopes that a splendid king to replace them will rise from the ashes of the new world.
Erbil L5 has spread to the northern half of Africa, the western part of Eurasia, and the Atlantic Coast of North and South America; three tenths of the world’s crops destroyed. A brave individual had released data about the virus worldwide, and LATO labs were able to quickly develop a counter-measure and give it to all the factions. A news report states that, despite stopping the spread of a deadly virus, that doesn’t change the fact that it will take years to recover from this disaster, and a worldwide famine may be unavoidable. Businesses affected by the damage have crashed. LATO wants all the factions to call a truce and aid each other, however the ABN still claims they were not responsible for the virus and wants this to be acknowledged before they provide support. The ACR, having been hit the most by Erbil L5, opposes the ABN’s precondition and will resort to military retribution if need be.
Miyao turns off the news and thinks back to Rethabile’s prediction. The ACR striking the ABN’s agricultural plants is equivalent exchange, the simplest kind of retribution there is. From a worldwide perspective, the ACR is being foolish. Many crops were destroyed and a mass famine was approaching, yet even more crops were going to be destroyed just to soothe public opinion. Miyao thinks that Toujirou was right about humans being flawed, and he wonders if it’s something that they have to accept or something that cannot be forgiven in exchange for being allowed to live on the planet’s surface.
A pro-peace faction in the ACR Royal Family asked the ABN for unconditional compensation, but they rejected it and refused to provide support so long as they were treated as the de-facto culprits. Despite this, the ABN has still been unable to prove its innocence. The only way out was to discover the true culprit, but they didn’t seem to be making any progress. The ACR was planning a retaliatory strike, and it could happen as early as tonight. Meanwhile, the COU was planning the same thing. They had damage in COU Saudi Arabia, COU Yemen, COU Oman, and part of COU India; their policy of preemptive action made it easier to accept the idea of retaliation. The AOU was in a complicated situation, as the countries composing them have historically had ties with Europe, and due to a treaty, the AOU was supposed to fight alongside the ABN if they were attacked. Several AOU countries were hit by Erbil L5 and demanded investigation into the ABN. The AOU Joint Parliament feared a split between AOU America and AOU Russia, and at some point AOU America would submit to AOU Russia since the East Coast of America was also hit by Erbil L5.
The Middle East was an especially complicated area. There were many countries there who respected religion and were populated by devout followers, so it was assumed they would join the ABN. However, they all joined the COU, which was forcefully enveloping all of the countries surrounding the Central Ocean. This was believed to be caused by resistance to the ABN’s rough and rapid push for religious unification, which was too radical. AOU took advantage of the chaos by admitting Georgia and Armenia, and the ACR turned Egypt into a forward base to prevent ABN extension into Africa. Azerbaijan was threatened by multiple factions, so they reached out to LATO and became the first country outside Latin America to bear the LATO prefix. LATO Azerbaijan and ABN Israel shared borders with all the Great Factions, and drone armies were converging there for war. Miyao laments his powerlessness once more.
Rethabile reminds her allies to not die and not kill, and to ensure that they return with their Gauntlets safe and sound. She will personally deal with anybody who dares to attack a shieldless enemy. The kette all voiced their enthusiasm, but they were still tense. An ACR officer orders Rethabile to show the ABN their rage with their attack drones, and Rethabile ends the transmission. Abdou figures this operation is going past the Walls of Peace and asks what they should do. If this mission were to fail, the ACR might just regroup and attack again, causing the ABN to respond, resulting in a bloodbath and unstoppable war. The front lines were filled with ACR Gauntlet Knights with attack drones formed behind them. GKs were able to use their Parallel Processing ability to control attack drones as if they were their arms and legs. However, it placed a huge burden on their brains, and if they lost control then the drones would return to their original programming; they weren’t programmed to follow the Order of the Public Bath’s philosophy. Many of the GKs were tense, so their P3 levels were lower than normal, and the fear of drones running wild was even greater. Noor reports that Cairo Squad is preparing to make contact with ABN air defense forces. After a short discussion, Noor says she will follow the princess’ decision and is met with criticism by Mariana, who claims she’s just pushing responsibility onto others. Ishak tells Rethabile not to bear such heavy responsibility; both sides are doing their best as soldiers, and the result will be left in God’s hands. Rethabile considers the idea, but she instead proclaims that she will not use fate as an excuse to avoid making decisions or taking responsibility. She praises Miyao for creating such a fascinating Order and blasts off.
Keropoyo tells Naima that a friend has arrived, and Naomi finds it sad that such a cheerful message would signal an enemy attack. Naima hates hearing Kizuna notifications like this, and while she could just turn it off, that would mean they really are enemies. Stan reassures her that they are all friends working to protect the Walls of Peace. Yeladot Shavit appears and announces that they will soon be engaging the ACR. Stephania and Fatma say that the ACR are like lost sheep and require guidance from God and the ABN. Stan and the rest of Thalathat Suyuf reiterate to not die and not kill, as God is the only one who can take life.
Yeladot Shavit sends a message saying that God has given them permission to kill and to defend their territories, and Naima starts raging at them, yelling out her support for world peace. Leah threatens to report this disorderly outburst to her superiors later and Naomi asks her to forgive Naima, as her drugs must be making her overreact. Thalathat Suyuf starts talking about Miyao’s ideals, which Naima has resonated with, and she announces that she will see them through. Naima blasts off with a wild expression appearing on her face. Rethabile tells Naima that combat shall commence in ten seconds, and they exchange blows.
Sujatha announces that Suparna has finished carpet bombing the target and is now returning. Rukhshana wonders why they are doing something to make the famine worse, and Andry replies that it’s a plan to make the ABN agree to pay reparations only to the COU. Rukhshana still doesn’t agree with the attack, even though there was nobody present on the farm. Andry voices support for Miyao, saying he’d only kill people, even civilians, if he got paid for it. Of course, he understands that he might kill someone unintentionally.
Suddenly, Rukhshana starts panicking over an ABN news report talking about the city Suparna just attacked. The news is claiming that the COU’s bombing run killed 40 kindergarteners on a field trip to a farm, and the city is in an outrage. Rukhshana swears that there was nobody on the farm, which was completely unmanned and automated; Sujatha figures this is a scenario fabricated by the ABN Guidance Department to inflate their casualties. Andry thinks that, even though there were no direct deaths, they may have still caused some. Cityfolk were in a panic because of the sudden air raid alarm, and it’s likely that confused drivers can get into accidents and kill people. Andry criticizes Sujatha and Rukhshana for only attacking after making near approaches to ensure nobody was hit, and if they were more irresponsible then more people would’ve died. Sujatha still believes it’s enemy propaganda, and Rukhshana continues to panic. Andry leaves it to the higher-ups to take responsibility.
Lilja shields herself against midair mines, and Chloe authorizes her and Koshka to take injections if need be. Rejection Shields caused different levels of strain depending on the situation, and unprecedented attacks would cause a lot. Some countries were developing techniques to transform stealth drones into mines that would float in the air as anti-GK weapons. Lilja’s sudden expenditure of energy to block the explosion had given her symptoms similar to anemia, and injecting cranial secretion regulators would improve her condition.
The enemy noticed that Grave Mole was disoriented, so a salvo of cluster missiles was launched at them. Lilja tells the squad Baba Yaga to get a hold of themselves and get away, but one of their members Praskovya is in condition red; her state is at 13%, just above the Madonna’s Minimum Speed. Baba Yaga is unwilling to abandon their squad mate and attempt to shoot down the missiles. The missiles are too great in number for Koshka to shoot down, and as Chloe cries out Baba Yaga’s name, a flash of white is seen.
A melancholic Miyao has a moment of silence for their comrades who protected the Walls of Peace even in death. Rethabile says that many countries are dragging inexperienced people into combat to increase their number of Gauntlet Knights. She apologizes for the harm they did to the ABN, and Miyao demands to know why they’re suddenly fighting actual wars when people were watching them fight in VR at the Battle Standard Festival. Stan says that in the ancient Olympics, winners were given olive wreaths unless they killed their opponent; Miyao thinks their problems can be solved with VR if they’re concerned over winners and losers. As VR became more and more real, certain cultured individuals and religious advocates began arguing against the need of having a physical human body. VR was a paradise where anything done can be undone, and destrouction and murder had no consequences; physical bodies were a gateway to irreversible tragedies and horrible calamties. Miyao asks why they don’t just get rid of all the militaries in the world, and Rethabile replies that no militaries means no support to the Walls of Peace, and no Walls means humans will show their hatred for each other in the form of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Stan says the noble sacrifices made by their comrades have upheld the Walls, and this was all because of Miyao’s philosophy of “don’t die, don’t kill.” Rethabile and Lingji agree, as without Miyao’s guidance they may have unfriended each other and become absorbed with hatred.
Miyao wonders if the world has calmed down after all their suffering. They watch the world news, where a news anchor reports that the public's rage at civilian casualties has reached its peak. A president vows to mete out justice for what has been done. A video uploader says to steal from foreigners and stone them. A civilian anti-war group was revealed to be a spy for another faction, and they appear to be connected to a recent school bus bombing. An internet forum is aflame with messages to arrest anti-war supporters as spies.
As the world seemingly loses its mind, Rethabile comments that they’ve stayed sane because they’re putting their lives on the line for the sake of peace; those who have never been on a battlefield think war is the same as in the Battle Standard Festival, and the addition of actual casualties makes it easier to push towards war with anger and hatred.
A narrator hears a voice talking to them, referring to them as “children of man” and calling their current state liberation. They have stopped evolving because they could not break out of their shells of flesh, so they are receiving aid in their soul’s evolution. Rails full of naked humans were being processed, losing their “shells of flesh” and transforming into brains with spinal cords. The voice promises a new world, a heaven where there will be no sadness, aging and pain. There is no need to be afraid; they must accept liberation and be invited into the “eternal garden”, where their family and friends have already been freed and are waiting.
The voice then cites the flaws of having flesh; misfortune, anger, war; all of it can be explained by desire for food and procreation. Liberation from the flesh means freeing oneself of suffering like animals. The narrator comes to understand that this voice is God and asks them to guide humanity to the promised land.
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Toujirou tells Seshat about Miyao's Order)
- Ominous3 (The Three Kings lament Erbil L5's ineffectiveness)
- Evil Schemes (The ABN claims innocence in Erbil L5's spread)
- Strategy Meeting (Rethabile's squad prepares for combat)
- The Witness Stand (Suparna realizes that they may have killed people)
- To the Land of Some Time (The aces talk about the purposes of militaries)
- Miserable (Anti-war groups continue to do horrible things)
Chapter 19: Simultaneous Global Truce and Terror
- "Peace must never be bought with compromise.
That tells your opponent that you're willing to pay for it."
- — Piccolo Machiavelli
The news reports that every faction in the world has agreed to enact a global truce and attend a conference after the IPMA’s response. Valentina and Maricarmen send an email to Miyao, assuring him that they've been working. Though their reputation has been hit because of the world feuds, LATO has still pulled through in the end; Rethabile figures that war could have been prevented entirely if LATO acted sooner. Miyao hopes the world will regain its composure.
The IPMA had been working with leaders from each faction to establish a truce, however they were all caught up in warmongering, so instead the IPMA investigated VIPs who still had a sense of duty towards world peace and made them provisional directors in the IPMA. It was an outrageous move since it was equivalent to meddling in internal affairs, but LATO was able to get away with it by leveraging their massive financial and military power and their position as the largest producer of Rare Spiritum. Rethabile figures that, even if the worldwide wars ended soon, LATO’s meddling will still cause political turmoil, not to mention the issues concerning national borders that were suspended.
The news centers a camera on Liu Tiankai, a COU Chinese influencer in the COU Joint Parliament. Miyao notices the similar name to Lingji and asks her about it, who replies that Tiankai is her grandfather. The Masters of the Public Bath comment on how haggard Tiankai looks, as he must have shouldered a huge responsibility in attending this conference. Rethabile says there were some members of the Royal Family who were asked to attend, however they backed out when they heard they couldn’t join anonymously; the risk of losing their political positions in the ensuing chaos outweighed their roles as heroes of peace. Miyao and Stan contest this idea and praise Lingji’s grandfather for standing against the will of his country. Back when Sugihara Chiune did his work saving Jews, he was treated as a traitor for disobeying orders, and it wasn’t until 14 years after Chiune’s death that he was properly recognized as a hero. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the lowest level of hell was where the sin of betrayal was punished; betrayal of the state was believed to be something nobody could repent for. Lingji’s relatives tried to stop Tiankai from taking this position but he ignored them; Rethabile wishes the Royal Family had a backbone like that.
Miyao figures that all the people at this conference are aware of who’s fanning the flames of war and know their true enemies, the true sprouts of war. Miyao gets some renewed hope after knowing that there are others fighting for world peace just like them; because Lingji is still in contact with her grandfather, Miyao wants to ask if there’s anything they can do to help. Lingji agrees, however she won’t mention the Order of the Public Bath. Rethabile asks Miyao permission to approach her big brother, who was invited to the meeting but rejected it without the promise of anonymity. Miyao allows it, and Stan laments that he doesn’t have any political connections, though he will try to gather more information. Miyao decides to talk to his dad, remembering his network of friends all over the world. Stan thinks having a military reporter for a father is a very important asset to have. Miyao is excited for the Order to finally fight for real.
Warcat talks in the officer’s cafeteria about their friends and connections, where Gunhild jokes that if girls were saying they had connections to an older generation, people would think they’re a secondary secretary. Jayden expresses his jealousy at how ciconia-borns are able to have such strong interpersonal bonds as opposed to factory-borns. All of Jayden’s friends are in no position to help the Public Bath in any capacity, and he wonders how any of them could even know what goes on in the government. Gunhild can’t help either; while she has older friends because of her hobbies, it would be rude to ask them about their social positions or professions. They’ll have to rely on Miyao’s dad for now, however Miyao doesn’t feel like he can trust Toujirou more than just a close friend. Gunhild and Jayden praise Miyao for creating the Public Bath, and he reflects on the circumstances that led to it, thanking his fellow Warcats for being there for him.
Jayden then mentions a rumor of a secret topic of discussion that’s going to be at the LATO conference. With everyone in the world conveniently getting excited over war, someone must have planned it all out, so LATO’s going to pool together information from all the VIPs and sniff out the mastermind. Gunhild figures the enemy must have some influence over the military, and some extra firepower on their side wouldn’t hurt when the bad guys are exposed. Jayden then gestures towards a TV, where one of the LATO girls has appeared on the news. All the Gauntlet Knights of LATO are standing guard for the VIPs. Miyao says LATO Gauntlets have higher specs than anything else from the other factions, so this conference must have the tightest security on Earth. Jayden figures that LATO is very confident that the information held by these VIPs is enough, and Miyao notices his dad on TV. As Gunhild asks Miyao to point out his dad, Jayden jokes about telling Toujirou that he’s entered a serious relationship with Meow, causing Miyao to get flustered and lose track. Miyao plays back the news in his mental tablet and sees that Toujirou is indeed there, holding a camera and walking past the LATO MPs that are holding back the press. Being a military reporter, it wasn’t strange for Toujirou to be there in LATO Brazil. However, Toujirou looked very calm; to outsiders, this was a normal, easygoing expression, but to Miyao, his dad’s expression seemed like an eerie smile.
Brasília, the capital of LATO Brazil, was where the IPMA headquarters were located. Public opinion in LATO was pro-peace, so crowds of people were cheering on the people who sought to end this war. However, this was a passive stance, as people in LATO were promised prosperous lives and didn’t care much about conflicts between other factions; even LATO itself didn’t want to get involved despite calling themselves the World’s Police.
Security at the conference was incredibly strict, with armored cars surrounding the building and Gauntlet Knights everywhere, with an air defense system protecting the skies. ID checks and metal detectors were also being used to prevent the infiltration of assassins and terrorists. Toujirou enters the building and is checked by Valentina, who tells him that they’ve raised the identity check level to level 4 for foreign soldiers. The technology of A3W allowed IDs to be checked just by having them on their person, however having security personnel directly speaking to someone in person applied a silent pressure. Toujirou passes his ID inspection and Tina guides him to a special spot where he can take pictures. Inside the conference hall, over 100 directors were all talking with each other, with the VIP provisional directors at the center. Some people didn’t join in the conversation and were intent on serving as directors not for world peace but to benefit their nations. Some of them may have felt that the other directors were secret traitors, and as the VIPs were speaking, they were considering ways to restrain them while feigning support for peace.
Eventually, all the VIPs were called to take a group photo, with the provisional directors front and center. Tiankai makes acquaintances with Simon Wicksell from the AOU Joint Parliament and expresses his desire to find out the mastermind behind this incident of organized crime as he pulls out his smartphone. Smartphones were widely used by people in Tiankai’s generation since they were unable to use Selcoms. Tiankai sees that his beloved granddaughter Lingji has sent an email; Wicksell asks if it’s urgent, and Tiankai says he’ll read it later. Wicksell believes that, for the sake of people like Lingji, they should kick out the people who’ve waged war. Mari calls the directors to attention as the military reporters start coming in. They were all escorted by multiple Gauntlet Knights, who had enough shields to protect the VIPs should anything bad happen. Mari announces that the reporters may now take photos, and if any photos are taken after the end signal is given then their equipment will be confiscated. Furthermore, their passes will deactivate 300 seconds after the signal, and anybody still remaining after that point will be arrested unconditionally. Toujirou pulls out his own camera, a retro camera that had been created in B3W. This was a perfectly normal camera with no fancy tech, something that appealed to Toujirou’s sense of aesthetics. Toujirou peers through the viewfinder and focuses on Tiankai and the people standing next to him, all big-shots in the pro-ceasefire faction; Toujirou wants to preserve this shot for posterity. He presses down on the shutter, and a flash of white is seen.
As television static is heard, an announcer talks to staff members, noting that the video’s cut out and tells them to get it back online. A news anchor reports that a large explosion has occurred at the IPMA Headquarters and connects to a reporter at the scene. The reporter says that a large explosion followed by a massive tremor has occurred inside the conference hall and is cut off by LATO police, who announce that all passes are suspended and order all the press to leave.
Warcat watches the news broadcast horrified, having suddenly lost the peaceful atmosphere that came from the hope of world peace. Miyao asks Keropoyo to find if this was a terrorist attack or not, and the frog replies that nobody is sure; furthermore, there are at least 100 injured. Jayden is asked to contact the LATO girls and see if they’re alright, but he accidentally sends an incomplete, inappropriate draft and is mocked by Keropoyo for it; Meow comes out and beats up Jayden for his perverted thoughts. Gunhild figures the LATO girls won’t respond since they’re on duty and remembers that Miyao saw his dad at the scene earlier. Lingji sends an email to Miyao expressing her concern over her grandfather and asks if Toujirou has any information. Miyao decides to contact his dad and learns that Toujirou is safe. The explosion happened right in front of his eyes, which Toujirou captured with his eye camera. Miyao asks to see the video to ensure if Lingji’s grandfather is safe. Meanwhile, a nearby Tina remarks that Toujirou was in such a convenient position to be saved by her. She says that when most reporters take photos, they don’t try to frame things that aren’t the subject of their picture, and Toujirou happened to be in a position where he’d be protected by Tina’s shield while many of the other reporters were injured or killed. Toujirou pays no heed to this insinuation, saying he’s always had good luck at times like these. Miyao asks Toujirou to respond, and his dad replies that having two separate conversations is hard. Toujirou says he can send the video so long as it’s in a format that can’t be copied and deletes itself after being played. Miyao desperately wants to know if Tiankai is safe and Tina notices that Toujirou is looking tired; she’d escort him to his hotel room but she needs to bring him somewhere first. Toujirou knows what’s up since he was the only foreigner on the scene.
Toujirou agrees to send the video and warns that it’s marked as 18+, asking what age Miyao was again. Tina says that Toujirou isn’t allowed to reproduce anything seen today without LATO’s express permission, and he agrees to it as he sends Miyao the video. Tina then says she’ll need to restrict his Selcom usage for a while, which Toujirou gladly accepts before getting zapped.
Miyao thanks Toujirou for sending the video and gets annoyed when he doesn’t respond. Miyao tells the other Warcats about the video and Jayden suggests they call Lingji over so she can watch. Miyao decides not to and says he’ll take responsibility for telling her the result. Warcat soon joins a virtual room, and Miyao says to play the video. Keropoyo asks if he should remove the filter for grotesque content, as the mosaics will get in the way of their search for Tiankai. Gunhild isn’t fazed by the gore warning, and Miyao says this video could have vital clues in it. Jayden thinks they should get a bigger audience since this video can only play once, but Gunhild says they should keep it to just Warcat, for Toujirou’s sake.
Miyao tells Keropoyo to play the video.
- Advancing (The simultaneous global truce is announced)
- Strategy Meeting (The Order of the Public Bath gets renewed hope)
- Deeply Remember (Warcat hangs out at a shop)
- Welcome to A3W (The mastermind may be in sight)
- Evil Schemes (Toujirou enters the IPMA HQ)
- The Witness Stand (The news reports the explosion incident at the IPMA HQ)
- Ominous3 (Toujirou tells Miyao about his eye camera video)
- Welcome to A3W (Warcat ponders watching the video)
Chapter 20: Disaster Utopia
- "Sadly, the length of a period of peace is proportional to the
gruesomeness of the preceding of war."
- — Arthur Hemmingway
Keropoyo plays the video. Mari is seen giving orders to the provisional directors for the group picture. Despite how revolutionary eye cameras were, they weren’t very popular because the human eye is very hyperactive, always jumping from one object to the next, with the brain automatically smoothing out the shakiness. The video was especially blurry because Toujirou still wore old-style glasses and never had vision recovery surgery. Even Keropoyo could barely recognize people’s faces if they were standing still. Jayden notes how perverted Toujirou is for always looking at Mari’s back and butt, earning a slight insult from Meow. Mari gives the signal to take pictures and Tina comes into view as Toujirou pulls out his camera. Keropoyo finds Liu Tiankai standing in the front row of the group. Toujirou lists off the names of everybody standing next to Tiankai and positions his camera in such a way that Tina’s butt was covering half of it.
Jayden loudly complains about Toujirou making the video uncopyable when the explosion happens. Blood and flesh flew all over the conference hall, with people moaning and screaming shortly afterwards. Toujirou gets up and looks around him, seeing Mari turn off her Rejection Shields and call HQ for help. Tina drops her own Shield and is surprised at how Toujirou was unscathed. Toujirou thanks her and calmly watches over the scene as paramedics and security guards pour in. He then looks over at where the directors were gathered and Warcat comments at the gruesomeness of the scene, fortunate that Lingji isn’t watching. Keropoyo attempts to find Tiankai and is unsuccessful.
The video ends, and Jayden asks what they should tell Lingji. Miyao says to just send an email saying “I don’t know” and then asks to let in the Masters of the Public Bath. Stan, Rethabile and Lingji soon enter the room, where Lingji thanks Miyao for investigating and says the Foreign Affairs Department is trying to confirm her grandfather’s safety. Stan laments that LATO had brought together people working for world peace only for them to get wiped out and apologizes for his poor choice of words. Lingji says that, regardless of this being an accident or terrorism, the masterminds must be enjoying themselves. Rethabile demands to know how LATO allowed something like this to slip through the cracks, and Miyao mentions that there were several deaths among the directors. Stan finds it strange, as Gauntlet Knights were mobilized to protect the VIPs, and the only ones shown to be safe in the video were the GKs, Toujirou and a few reporters behind him. Nobody was protecting the directors. Gunhild thinks one of the directors carried in an explosive without their knowledge, as they had diplomatic immunity and didn’t need to be checked. Rethabile says that in B3W, people could carry switches for nuclear missiles in briefcases, and with modern technology it could be as small as someone’s fist. Jayden privately messages Miyao and says there’s no way someone could massacre so many people with a weapon that size; Miyao thinks that LATO could have set it up beforehand, and Jayden can’t comprehend why LATO would implicate themselves with something so flashy.
Stan figures that LATO will try to pass it off as an accident, and Gunhild says it might actually be one. One of her band groupies turned out to be a LATO police officer and sent her an email saying that the explosion was caused by a Gauntlet Knight’s Dimension Container suddenly going off. Gunhild joins Miyao and Jayden’s private chat and says she checked out all the GKs that appeared in the video. Sure enough, there was one missing after the accident, and they most likely were in the center of the explosion. Miyao thinks about how the Dimension Container caused several horrible accidents during experimentation. One miscalculation would cause an effect similar to particle annihilation, which normally occurred on a microscopic level. The worst recorded incident was in a LATO Peru Level 4 Heavy Military Research Center, where hundreds of people were killed or injured. Technological advancement and awareness meant explosion accidents were mostly avoidable, however improper adjustments and trainees can still cause accidents.
Lingji yells that this makes no sense, as LATO’s Gauntlet technology is more advanced, so explosion accidents should be near impossible there; Miyao also can’t believe that any of the guards were trainees. If this were a plot set up as an accident then someone could have tampered with the GK that was the bomb, which still implicates LATO. Gunhild reminds him that it wouldn’t be impossible for the mastermind, the people the Order of the Public Bath has been searching for, to tamper with LATO’s Gauntlets. To use a Gauntlet Knight, a symbol of the Walls of Peace, as a bomb was unforgivable to Miyao.
Lingji then receives an email from her family, who’ve identified part of Tiankai’s body. She lowers her head as Rethabile prays for all the people who died for the sake of peace. Miyao says it wasn’t just the provisional directors who died for peace but all their Gauntlet Knight comrades, who sacrificed themselves for this day to come; it’s up to everyone still surviving to take that baton and give those deaths meaning. Miyao doesn’t want to admit it, but everyone who might have been able to restore world peace has been killed, and the masterminds will surely try to break the global truce and resume fighting. Rethabile sympathizes, but there isn’t much they can do except continue the Public Bath’s mission as guardians of peace. Giving up means Tiankai’s death will really be meaningless. Rethabile says there are still people who support peace but are too cowardly to say it, so Miyao wants to give them strength and support them. Jayden doubts that anybody who backed out would suddenly rise up after an attack like this; LATO’s list of provisional directors is like a hit list. Miyao remembers that Rethabile’s brother was asked to be a provisional director, and she gives his name, Cyril Negentien Africacommonwealthrealm. Keropoyo searches for information and reads out that Cyril is 19th in line for the Royal Family’s throne and made a social media post criticizing maintaining a healthy military balance. Cyril eventually retracted those statements and apologized, soon ceasing his activity on social media. Rethabile laments how cowardly her brother is, but even so, Miyao thinks they can get some use out of Cyril since his position in the South African Spiritium Research Corporation gives him some political power and a lot of influence in the ACR. Rethabile has been trying to get in touch with him and only got a reply recently. She figures that Cyril will succumb to fear and refuse to help. Miyao and Lingji desperately want to get Cyril’s guidance in knowing where they should use their GK powers and are willing to accept all responsibility for what happens next.
Stan reminds them that their Gauntlets are lent by their countries and managed by them, so they shouldn’t get too fired up. Rethabile promises to do her best and then says that issues in actual society are not that easy to solve. Military force cannot stop poverty, nor can it stop society itself. She tells Miyao not to forget that they are all game pieces; they may feel omnipotent as the strongest people in the world and may feel the desire to do anything, but they still have loyalties to their factions. Stan says that he will not completely ignore his duties to the ABN Peace Department just to adhere to the Public Bath’s ideals and is about to restate it when Lingji suddenly stands up, tears streaming down her face. She professes that she has loyalty to her country, but after knowing how much Tiankai worked for world peace, Lingji wants to do the same thing, even if it means rejecting the COU. Gunhild tells her to calm down and avoid saying such things to her COU comrades. If this were Naima arguing with Stan, he would’ve given her a sedative right then and there, but this was different. Stan tries to change the subject while Rethabile muses that she had anticipated something like this, having said that she didn’t know if she could help. In the end, everyone had the ability to do as much as they wanted as Gauntlet Knights, but it was their countries that kept them tethered. Lingji continues to rage at the insinuation that her grandfather was using the wings granted to him only to plummet to his doom, and Stan suggests to Miyao that they call it a day. Miyao agrees and apologizes to Rethabile, becoming a subject of Lingji’s rage when she says Miyao shouldn’t apologize for it; Keropoyo forcibly ejects everyone from the room.
The explosion accident that the IPMA HQ was treated as a minor news item that night and was forgotten about the next day. The news continued to talk about hateful topics that spurred on wars, and public opinion was returning to its previous warlike fervor. Miyao had come to a single conclusion, but he had no intention of saying it out loud since it would be a dangerous idea. Miyao understands how precious peace is because he’s always preparing for war. The people stirring up wars are gobbling up peace and getting bored with it eventually.
People who never experience war don’t know the true value of peace, therefore the entire world should become a battleground. An accident, a natural disaster, something should happen that puts average people in a position such that they start clamoring for peace once more. There exists a term called “disaster utopia” where when peace is lost, people work to regain it because of the good in their hearts; even people who fought each other during peacetime will join hands. Once everything is peaceful, people will go their separate ways and eventually resort to war again. Miyao calls peace a poison, making people irresponsible and causing them to seek out war as an antidote. Peace itself isn’t wonderful, but rather humanity joining together to obtain it. With Miyao’s left arm, with the power of a Gauntlet Knight, he can teach all of humanity the true meaning of peace.
Miyao suddenly jolts awake in a cold sweat after having had such a bad dream. He could barely remember what it was about, but he has a good idea of what it was. Miyao looks at various news headlines in his mental display, where several countries have abandoned the peace treaty and are sending out swarms of attack drones once again. At the start of A3W, there was a plan to have a universal conscription so everyone would experience supporting the Walls of Peace, however people pushed back against it and prioritized post-war restoration. The plan was thus abandoned.
Miyao compares humans to animals, flawed creatures driven only by desire for nourishment and reproduction. He thinks back to the line in Toujirou’s email earlier about how the true evil is the flaw in humans that makes them desire war. Miyao finally accepts that there’s no such thing as evil masterminds trying to take over the world full of good people. Keropoyo interrupts to ask if Miyao’s enjoying the chorus of cricket noises that he’s playing, and Miyao says to never play it again and asks to see the World News Channel. On the news, more people are expressing outrage at being attacked and wish to retaliate as military stocks rise to their previous state. Simon Wicksell has been caught up in another scandal, using peace as a means to build his business. Many people are starting to oppose those who say they’re for peace, and Miyao figures similar things will be said about Tiankai in the COU; Miyao breaks into a sweat after thinking about how Lingji will react to this. A breaking news report comes out that the ACR and ABN are continuing their dispute. Miyao thinks about how much war has changed since ancient times as Keropoyo plays a wildly inappropriate song for the mood. Miyao asks to search how to delete Keropoyo, and an earthquake suddenly happens. Miyao realizes that he bet on AOU Japan during the Earthquake Lottery and asks Keropoyo for breaking news on earthquakes. Keropoyo is unable to respond as the connection is unstable, and Miyao worries if everything is okay.
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (The video begins playing)
- The Witness Stand (Warcat sees the aftermath of the explosion)
- The June Sky is an Endless Blue... (Stan and Rethabile enter the room)
- To the Land of Some Time (The explosion incident may have been an accident)
- Welcome to A3W (Rethabile tells the group about Cyril)
- The June Sky is an Endless Blue... (The Masters argue over what to do)
- Ominous3 (Miyao dreams of a ruined city)
- Beach (Keropoyo tries to lighten the mood)
Chapter 21: The Dignity of Returning to Dust
- "Chess is about love. You must sense more love from your
opponent's move than they have put there themselves."
- — Jack Hein Donner
Vier and a dozen scientists congratulate their comrade Mario for the completion of his project after many years. As Mario basks in the praise, his fellow scientists, who were supposed to be of mature age, were all acting like elementary schoolers and being abnormal. Vier found this behavior normal, applauding alongside them as blue-skinned girls stood at attention. Mario’s project was a massive machine connected to several pipes, rumbling fiercely and emitting Spiritum steam. The machine rumbled once more, creating a massive earthquake. Vier asks Mario what this machine is supposed to do, and the mad inventor replies that it is a machine to restore the dignity of himself and the earth. Mario believes the planet has gone mad, and the current humanity sees nothing wrong with this twisted world. In B3W, it was commonly understood that when it gets hot, you put on lighter clothing, and when it gets cold, you turn up the heater. Now, in A3W, the term “four seasons” doesn’t even exist, being a relic of old poems and literature. Only plant and animal production plants knew what the four seasons were, and even then they were recreated artificially. The average summer temperature was 25 degrees Celsius, and the winter temp 15 degrees; this was the same all over the world. Mario believed all of this technological advancement to be a defilement of the planet. 8MS was first created as an emergency measure to stop the nuclear winter created by World War III, but then people kept on creating new forms of 8MS to satisfy their whims. The second Mario touched God’s wisdom, he knew he had a sacred duty to restore the Earth’s dignity. Vier asks why Mario doesn’t just modify the 8MS if he wants he return Earth to its original state. Mario isn’t interested in restoring the climate of the past, but rather the right to control one’s fate. Vier fully understands what Mario’s trying to do, impressed that he managed to pull off something like this despite becoming something not quite human. The machine fizzes and sparks, creating yet another earthquake, this one big enough to knock down everybody except the blue-skinned girls. The machine’s movement ceases while spewing smoke and Mario rejoices, having completed his mission.
Vier asks what Mario plans to do next, and he replies that he will now restore his own dignity. He tells everyone to stand back and pulls out a revolver from his coat as the blue girls equip their Gauntlets. Mario gives his regards to the other scientists and attempts to shoot himself in the head, only for one of the girls to shoot his hand off. Having anticipated this, Mario tells Comrade David that he’ll be borrowing his translation and pulls out Wisdom 18721205. The Gauntlet girls take aim but are unable to shoot it. Mario holds the Wisdom up high with it emitting a high-pitched sound as his body glows gold. A few seconds later, Mario disintegrates, crumbling into a pile of soot as the Wisdom falls on top. Vier commends Mario for dying in such a wonderful way and says to herself that she should prepare for her own death as well, having satisfied her intellectual curiosity here. Vier then looks at the machine and says there was no way Mario could have finished it. He was struggling to find the missing links, and suddenly it was completed; someone else wanted this machine to be made.
This modern earthquake wasn’t like any others. Normal modern earthquakes happened in random locations across the world and were completely random; this earthquake was felt everywhere. A3W technology allowed buildings to be very resilient to earthquakes, and Anti-Earthquake 8MS further bolstered them. There were other forms of 8MS, including Anti-Tsunami 8MS, that could protect against other natural disasters. Humanity’s reaction to hearing that the entire world was struck by a modern earthquake was dismissive, and even after hearing that things were looking bad, they still paid it no mind. A government official tells citizens that large earthquake outbreaks they will be unable to recover from are sure to happen, and to learn the proper methods for dealing with earthquakes. A reporter asks for clarification and finds it silly at the idea of having to crawl underneath the table during dinner like children. A news commentator says that, even though everyone thinks of the lottery when they think of earthquakes, they are in fact quite dangerous. The Touhoku earthquake that occurred in B3W-era Japan had 20,000 casualties, and one out of the seven modern earthquakes that typically occur are on the same scale; Anti-Earthquake 8MS completely mitigates the damage caused by those.
A panicked Jayden asks Miyao if he’s been watching the news, and he says that the giant earthquake apparently destroyed all of the Anti-Earthquake 8MS. The repair work for the 8MS should take a few days, but statistically speaking it should be fine. Miyao says that the earth has gotten angry.
A government official asks some engineers why they can’t repair the Anti-Earthquake 8MS. The problem isn’t the 8MS itself but rather the transmitters sending bad orders. They can’t just find the transmitters and fix them because it’s called the Eight Million System; there’s countless types of 8MS on Earth, and many more transmitters giving them instructions, even counting what’s in the atmosphere. Toilet-Odor Removing 8MS is involved in regulating Sunlight Management 8MS, Geothermal Management 8MS is involved in regulating What Diseases and Pest Removal, Luminescent, Rapid Communication, and Tulip Breeding 8MS is involved in Cow Milk Management; 8MS in it’s entirely is a mess, and not even the engineers know how it works. An engineer mentions an incident 30 years ago where modern rabies spread throughout the world and many dogs were put down; it was all because of Aurora Color improvement 8MS. The engineers make minor adjustments to solve regional issues, but there’s still unforeseen consequences even when they test them. They discovered 8MS to grow nutmeg while fixing Anti-Freezing 8MS and 8MS to promote spread of honey bees while fixing Weight Loss 8MS. The government official can hardly believe these people are getting paid so much for making such minor adjustments and then asks who even created 8MS in the first place. The Yaoyorozu Nanotech Company, the ones who made 8MS around the start of A3W, must have had an inventor to create it from scratch. 8MS was a double-edged sword since it was made for restoration but could bring disaster if not properly maintained. In exchange for not being prosecuted for releasing such a dangerous tool, Yaoyorozu’s inventors and technology were transferred and isolated inside top-secret research facilities and placed under protection. 8MS plans were created in these facilities and shipped off to development companies worldwide, who would make “minor adjustments” to suit their local environments as part of the industry. The engineers here are unable to do much unless they get a Base 8MS, in which case they will work tirelessly.
The government official fears that this planet could end at any time, and an engineer replies that it has been that way for years. The world really was destroyed in World War III, and 8MS was just life support. 8MS manipulated the corpse that is the Earth to look alive and healthy; atmospheric and ocean cycles, weather, polar ice caps, the ozone layer, all of it was changed. A3W humanity was content with this idea and rather took issue with the B3W mentality of the world ending at any time because of one superpower launching nuclear missiles. Once humans accepted there wasn’t anything they could do to change things, they stopped being bothered by it. This is a fatal flaw in humans: being unable to imagine what problems may occur after their lifetimes. The technology to fix the world was limited to the greatest minds in the world, and if they failed to pass on that information, then the world would turn back into a corpse.
A narrator says that this planet shall now regain its dignity.
Mari arrives with some top-secret information for the Order of the Public Bath. She says it may be good or bad news depending on the situation, much to Miyao’s inquiry. Mari expresses her respect for the Public Bath still trying to protect peace despite worldwide conflicts resuming and starts coming onto Miyao, asking what shampoo he uses and why his skin is smooth. Miyao wasn’t sure if Mari’s lack of aversion to physical contact was a result of LATO always being sunny or just her true self showing. Stan asks what this news is, and Mari replies that another global truce will be enacted, for real this time. This is supposed to be revealed on the news a few days later, but Mari figured it was fine to tell them now. The Public Bath members express their relief that things are finally turning around, and Rethabile asks why another truce is being called, seeing as how the explosion accident obscured the previous one while the world went crazy again. LATO only managed to bring about the first truce from brute-forcing it, and the backlash from the accident made it unlikely for the factions to agree a second time. Miyao realizes that the truce is not for a positive reason; something worse than war has come up, so war has become less of a concern. Mari comments on how sharp they all are, and if they were any more observant then they’d suffer more. The others realize that Mari’s hyperactive behavior was a result of getting some shocking news.
Mari has several pieces of information, with one thing being that the Anti-Earthquake 8MS wasn’t the only thing to get damaged. Atmospheric Cleansing, UV Ray Management, Weather Management, a lot of 8MS managing the atmosphere is breaking down. The nuclear winter that had been avoided at the start of A3W is now returning. The 10 billion humans that currently lived on earth were producing massive pollution year-round, and they relied on 8MS to take care of all of it. At the current rate, a Snowball Earth scenario may occur, where the global temperature drops to freezing levels. Mari says there’s still hope, as they can take the remaining functional Environmental 8MS and make them run at full capacity to make up for the others; Miyao doesn’t like this idea, as overloading the other 8MS could make them break as well.
The second piece of information is that the 8MS will take months to repair. A modern earthquake happening during that time would be catastrophic, and if one hit as big as the one from the other day, then civilization will collapse before a Snowball Earth even happens. Lingji finds it ironic that humanity would need something worse than war to wake up. Rethabile thinks the term “disaster utopia” is very fitting for what they’re dealing with, despite her role as a princess.
Mari says a calamity that can be seen with the eyes will soon take place. Erbil L5 had been contained due to Anti-Biohazard 8MS, but even that has been damaged; losing the 8MS managing the environment means damaging everything related to nature, and so a global food crisis will occur on top of a nuclear winter. Erbil L5 had apparently mutated and was now attacking the ABN’s crops. Livestock will soon suffer as well, and even the oceans will become affected. Nations are supposed to have stockpiles of food for times like these, but they’re supposed to last for a few weeks until outside support comes; worldwide food crises were unprecedented. Until the 8MS is repaired, humans will succumb to chaos and may fight each other for food, becoming no better than animals. Mari says they won’t make this information public knowledge, rather they’ll keep it between the governments and factions under strict secrecy. Politicians are likely to secretly buy up food supplies, with Mari suggesting the others prepare as well.
Mari’s next prophecy is that the global truce will be enacted by the IPMA at 24:00 UTC on December 25th. Hopefully, all the factions will stop waging war and agree to the truce. Until then, there is sure to be chaos, and the Gauntlet Knights will continue to guard the Walls of Peace. Stan and Rethabile don’t think it’s that simple, as in history it’s not uncommon for a third country to wage war when another war is about to end, thereby robbing the losing country of their land. Near the end of B3W, a certain foreign minister said that national borders settled by war must not be disputed. The meaning of this phrase wasn’t clear, but some people interpreted it as that if you weren’t happy with your national borders, then the only choice is to wage war. The original intent behind the phrase was most likely to encourage people not to dig into old territory issues since World War II was so long ago, however it was still a phrase that caused a lot of uproar; this phrase may or may not have contributed to WWIII.
It’s likely that there will be a last-minute battle being waged once the end of the war is nigh, and the Gauntlet Knights will be at the forefront. Miyao decides to give an order as Grand Master to turn all fighting from then on into a farce. Until the truce is made, the GKs will continue to not die and not kill. The drones shouldn’t be a problem. Stan says if they do that, the current national borders will likely become permanent, and there are many countries who will gain or lose from such a thing. Miyao says it’s not their job to decide where the Walls of Peace should be, just that they must defend them. Lingji says COU Japan has established a military base on the Glass Seam and Miyao’s order implies letting it be. Miyao adds that the people will decide which countries will win or lose in territorial disputes. Rethabile agrees to this plan, however Stan wants to hear Mari’s opinion. Mari agrees to the plan, and everyone else voices their support. They all have a shared camaraderie in wanting to become Gauntlet Knights so they can fly, and after a brief moment of peace, Mari gives the others some “big-sister” wisdom. This world is very villainous and cunning, and no matter what trials the Gauntlet Knights may face, Mari wants everyone to be proud of the purity and beauty of their hearts. She adds another line to the Order of the Public Bath’s creed: don’t die, don’t kill, and don’t fight.
Miyao reinforces his belief that humanity will finally stop wishing for war.
- Apocalypsis Ciconia-I (Vier's comrades celebrate Mario's success)
- Dark Clouds (The world feels the effects of the earthquake)
- The Witness Stand (Earth is on life support)
- chat (Mari brings joyful news to the Order of the Public Bath)
- The June Sky is an Endless Blue... (The Environmental 8MS is breaking down)
- Dark Clouds (The 8MS may take months to fix)
- Strategy Meeting (Miyao decides to make all fighting a farce)
Chapter 22: The Second Simultaneous Global Truce
- "'Good' refers only to those who stand against evil.
Everything else counts as evil. After all, neutral parties and
observers are all passively aiding evil."
- — Shaun Ruskin
Okonogi and some AOU generals tell Warcat that the IPMA will be enacting a global truce in a few days and insert some snide comments about it. The AOU can’t possibly say no to LATO since they produce Rare Spiritium, and the truce will probably be based on whatever LATO wants, disregarding what the other countries involved want. The present national borders will also likely become permanent, provisional in name only. Okonogi reminds Warcat that the Glass Sea is supposed to be a monument to those who died there, and the COU building bases on it is defiling them. Okonogi then talks about rumors that the truce will be held either on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve and bets it’ll be the latter. Inside a private virtual room, Warcat mocks Okonogi for his answer and Jayden comments that this all feels wrong. They really are planning for a last-ditch war before the truce goes live, and Miyao wonders why they didn’t just do it all in the Virty Arena from the start. The AOU is likely going to attack the COU’s bases on the Glass Sea and turn it into a vacant lot; the COU having even one shack remaining by the start of the truce means they’ll win. Similar games of musical chairs are going to pop up all over the world, and the Order of the Public Bath will do everything in their power to stop them.
Rethabile privately messages Miyao and asks if he remembers Cyril. Rethabile managed to set up an appointment with him, and it turns out Cyril is not that cowardly after all. Ever since Cyril declined the offer to become a provisional director, he had been preparing a written accusation; he anticipated that something like the LATO incident would happen and has been preparing secretly. Cyril is currently in a safehouse for fear of assassination, and his chamberlain is supposed to guide Rethabile there. Miyao hopes that Rethabile will come back safely.
Miyao then gets a message from Chloe, asking if it’s okay to talk. Chloe worries that it’s still too soon to assume peace will come just because there’s a truce, and Lilja and Koshka seem to have received a heavy shock. Miyao is surprised, thinking that the two would have been excited to fake all the fighting before the truce. Chloe then asks a question reserved for the Grand Master of the Order of the Public Bath, and that is if it’s really enough to support the Walls of Peace and nothing else. Miyao has thought about the same thing. The Order of the Public Bath is supposed to support peace until justice returns to people’s hearts, but what if that doesn’t happen? There’s no guarantee the truce will be permanent. There will still be a food crisis, and Erbil L5 is still rampaging, leaving only a few crops behind in the best-case scenario. People will be fighting over those next, despite destroying them as revenge a few days ago. Miyao says it’s their job to have faith in people’s hearts and says it’s up to God to lead them to good, causing Chloe to angrily question why a soldier like him is relying on God to solve his problems. Miyao understands Chloe’s frustration, as even he has lost patience with humanity, but there isn’t anything else he can do. Gauntlets represented ultimate power, but Miyao was still one person. Their Gauntlets are borrowed items, and they can only ignore the military’s orders for so long; having their own countries as their enemies means losing safety anywhere on Earth. Chloe apologizes for bothering Miyao, thinking the shock of the world ending is getting to her. Even so, she hoped that Miyao’s big group of friends and viewpoints means he could’ve given them all a faint chance of saving the world. Miyao says nothing in response to this.
Chloe prepares to hang up and Miyao starts to say something, but he drops the thought as Chloe says she’ll follow him. Miyao is confused, and Chloe compares the world to a tower, as they had flaws with the foundations as they were building up, and the tower will eventually crumble and bring misfortune to lots of people. They should rebuild the tower and remove the flaw when that happens. Chloe has seen how twisted this world is, and despite being blessed with a good life, she cannot ignore what’s happening. She believes it’s the will of those watching above humanity to set things right. Miyao is speechless, and Chloe says that once the time to swing the sword of peace comes, and Miyao knows who to use it against, then Chloe will gladly obey any orders given to her. Chloe finally leaves, telling Miyao to remember that no matter what happens, there are others like her. Miyao reflects on his role as Grand Master, calling it a burden.
Jestress calls it a miracle, saying that heaven has finally decided to help the Three Kings because they were acting too slow. Fury scoffs at her remark, saying their plans have been interfered with because of the earthquake. Ridicule laughs and finds this opportune, as civilization may destroy itself without any more involvement from them. Fury wonders if the world really can be destroyed by relying on random earthquakes, and Ridicule says to call it a blessing from God. Sorrow agrees that civilization would be destroyed if they did nothing, but that wouldn’t be merciful; when someone is given the death penalty, they have the right to a painless death. Sorrow is grateful for this turn of events as their goals will be carried out faster, thus they must accelerate their schedule. Jestress is then told to command all of their chivalric orders to execute their plans. Fury thinks this is going too fast, as they need to maintain a certain level of caution; Sorrow found it best if they responded to Jestress’ provocations every now and then. Jestress hopes they won’t be pinning the blame on her and then announces to the 76 chivalric orders under the Three Kings to carry out all their plans without waiting for the intended date. She also orders the Ninth Prime Chivalric Order to eliminate anybody who gets in their way and gives all Grand Masters complete authority to act. A member of Ninth Prime tells Jestress that they all swear on their Gauntlets to do as she says.
The Grand Master of Ninth Prime tells their subordinates to watch out for Miyao Mitake and the Order of the Public Bath, as he has spread his philosophy to Gauntlet Knights all over the world, and the Public Bath Oath has established Miyao in a position that speaks for all of the GKs worldwide. Ninth Prime now controls the game board of Gauntlet Knights, and they cannot allow Miyao to take control. Miyao most likely intends to get in the way of their plans, but he has no idea that Ninth Prime members exist within the Public Bath. A member asks the Grand Master for permission to assassinate Cyril Negentien Africacommonwealthrealm, as LATO did ask him to become a provisional director, and he could be problematic if certain information reached Miyao’s ears. Permission is granted, and Miyao is called a fool for practically helping Ninth Prime seek out assassination targets for them; he’s dancing in the palm of their hands.
A chamberlain directs Rethabile to Cyril’s room, and she asks to be left alone with him. Cyril’s safehouse was a penthouse suite in a massive hotel. This hotel was managed by a school friend of Cyril’s, so he was able to borrow the room without using Royal Family connections. Rethabile greets Cyril, and the latter asks what Rethabile has to say, finding it rare that she would want to talk about something so urgently and in person. Cyril gestures for Rethabile to sit and prepares a drink, but he starts flailing around like he was swatting a bug. Cyril crouches down and pokes at his right ear canal as Rethabile goes up to see what’s wrong, but half of Cyril’s head suddenly explodes. Keropoyo gives out a missile alert, with impact inbound in a few seconds. Rethabile cries out in agony, soon donning her Gauntlet and defending from the incoming missile.
Cyril was indeed dead, and his penthouse blown up by a missile strike from a hacked drone. The written accusation he had was gone. However, it was clear that someone was masterminding a global conflict, and they were eliminating all of the IPMA provisional director candidates. The mastermind was like a fish swimming under a lake, and once they disappeared into the depths, it was impossible to chase them any further. The Order of the Public Bath was once again unable to do anything.
Miyao laments that they’re still fighting wars when a global famine is coming and the world is freezing, wondering if there's any point to this. An AOU operator tells Warcat that a fighter squadron is about to commence bombardment with cluster missiles and tells the GKs to initiate terminal guidance on them. Okonogi says Baibao and Suparna have been spotted on other battlefronts, so there’s nobody to stop Warcat here. Miyao accepts the mission and talks to Jayden, who asks what they should do. Gunhild says there’s only one kette above the COU base, and she doubts they’re skilled enough to intercept the bombardment. Miyao asks Lingji if she can hear him, who replies that she’s currently fighting so it must be brief. He tells her about the impending attack on the COU base and says there’s one kette defending it, asking how skilled they are. Lingji checks them and is shocked to report that that kette was formed as a stopgap measure; they’re all inexperienced and aren’t used to their kette link. Jayden thinks they’re supposed to guide the missiles badly on purpose, and Gunhild says Okonogi is actually very observant and will cause trouble later if he sees through it.
After hearing that this kette is affiliated with the Order of the Public Bath, Miyao wants Lingji to tell them to accept Miyao’s friend requests, and quickly. The kette, Setsugekka, accepts Miyao’s friend request and makes acquaintances with him. Miyao asks them if their squad is capable of intercepting cluster missiles, and Setsugekka replies that they can’t, not even in the simulators. The fighter jets simultaneously launch their missiles, and Gunhild warns Miyao of this. Miyao has one last move he can make: he asks Setsugekka for the master key to their Gauntlet. Jayden is shocked, and Miyao explains that they’ll guide the missiles in and then shoot themselves down.
Master keys for Gauntlets weren’t literal keys, but rather a way to transfer Gauntlet control. Gauntlets were customized for individual people, and most people hated it when others messed around with them; transferring control while in the air was like giving up your life, especially when the receiving person is an enemy. The missiles approach, and Jayden takes control of them while informing Okonogi about it. Okonogi expects Warcat to show the same moves they did at the Battle Standard Festival. Gunhild tells Miyao that time’s almost up, and Lingji asks Setsugekka’s squad to believe in Miyao. Setsugekka finally sends their master key. Miyao tells Jayden to guide the missiles while he and Gunhild control Setsugekka and intercept them. After they take control, Setsugekka becomes surprised at the sudden burst of movement. Jayden’s missiles launch the submunitions, and Miyao tells him not to hold back or else they’ll realize it’s a farce. The enemy air defense AI tries to lock on to them, but the missiles are too fast; keropoyo complains and leaves it to the Gauntlet Knights to deal with them. Miyao has Setsugekka deploy a pair of gatling guns and shoots down the missiles, much to the kette’s awe. After everything's said and done, Gunhild tells Setsugekka to change the codes on their Gauntlets and ends transmission. Setsugekka thanks Miyao profusely and swears to improve their training.
Thalathat Suyuf hears from Lingji what happened and congratulate Miyao for it. Miyao tells them to do the same thing in such a way that they don’t get found out, and Stan says it’s become very common for ABN GKs to intentionally miss targets and say it was a bug in the FCS software. This happens so frequently that the software engineers think it’s actually real. Stan also heard that ACR GKs were making unnatural mistakes, sure that Rethabile is doing a fine job of leading them. It’s certainly a long way until the Christmas truce, and the world will only get more unstable. Naomi asks Miyao how the skies are on his end, and he replies that ever since the Atmosphere Cleansing 8MS went haywire, it became smoggier. It was hard to see in the sky, and the dull fog covering the buildings and billboards made them feel like they had a headache. According to Gunhild’s friends in Northern Europe, the possibility that the atmosphere will affect the human body has resulted in people panic-buying air purifiers and masks. Miyao figures there isn’t more of a panic because people think the weather is causing the darkness. Jayden expresses worry that people have to deal with such bad visibility long before knowing that a Snowball Earth or global famine is coming, and this take became less and less ridiculous over time.
The government kept saying that the remaining 8MS is working at max capacity to improve things over the next few days, but atmospheric pollution on this scale doesn’t just stop immediately. The sun became dusk-colored in midday, mornings grew darker and evenings came earlier. Sunlight Management and UV Ray Protection 8MS were erroring out, so the evening sun started to look the same as if you viewed it through sunglasses. The temperature was also starting to decline, being 7 degrees Celsius lower than the previous day. People were told that they’d see snowfall for the first time in 50 years, and the lack of Atmospheric Stench Reduction was such that you’d smell bursts of ammonia every so often. This was especially causing trouble in LATO, where people were talking on the Internet that Spiritum steam was hazardous to health and were spreading false medical information. The government kept saying that it was safe, but people holed up more in their houses. The average person was finally starting to realize that war was meaningless.
Super Tokyo Tower
Miyao stands at the top of Super Tokyo Tower, gazing at the once-lovely view that has now been dimmed by polluted mist. Miyao and Meow comment that the world looks like it’s sunken into a sea of lead. Keropoyo announces breaking news that the IPMA will hold the Second Simultaneous Global Truce on December 25th at 24:00. Even though the citizens are holing up in their own houses, Gauntlet Knights are still out there fighting wars. Nobody was driving down on the streets except for autonomous trucks. The world seemed very empty, so why were GKs still fighting? Meow is asked what she thinks of the Order of the Public Bath, and Miyao can’t tell if they’re being passive or proactive. Everybody calls Miyao Grand Master, but he can’t really show them what to do about anything, and he struggles to give orders even when they ask for it. Meow assures her big brother that he’s not at fault, understanding his pain. If Miyao knows that he’s a game piece, then he shouldn’t be beating himself up so much. Meow is sure that a wonderful player will soon appear and place Miyao on the spot he needs to be; if Miyao loses his composure, then the Order will suffer as well.
Miyao then remembers that Meow had set up a date with Jayden on Christmas Day, and she replies that the atmosphere isn’t right for it. Jayden was really looking forward to it, so Meow decides that the date will be a commemoration of the truce. She asks Miyao if it’s fine for them to kiss, and he allows it so long as Meow gargles a lot afterwards. Meow sees that Miyao is fond of Jayden himself, and Miyao tries to end the conversation.
Meow disappears, and Miyao comments that he always gets this unpleasant feeling unless someone’s making fun of him; Jayden really must be the perfect partner for him. He wishes for the war or the world to just end already.
Miyao’s Mental Space
Miyao appears, commending Miyao for being a murder program. Miyao’s started to get infected by the Three Kings’ thinking in agreeing that humanity needs to be destroyed. Miyao swears to delete the program that is Miyao when Keropoyo is suddenly alarmed, asking Miyao who he is and calling him an unapproved program. Groups of Keropoyos call an emergency meeting and Miyao disappears, unpleased by the situation. The frogs are unable to determine where he went and decide to report to the Mistress that they’ve found a weird program, fighting over who will report first.
- Welcome to A3W (The AOU plans a last-minute battle)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Rethabile doubted Cyril)
- The June Sky is an Endless Blue... (Chloe questions the Order's role)
- Apocalypsis Ciconia-I (Jestress celebrates the earthquake)
- Briefing Room (Warcat is sent into combat over the Glass Sea again)
- Dark Clouds (The air pollution becomes more noticeable)
Chapter 23: Revolt of the Drones
- "Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."
- — Salvador Dalí
The world is covered in a thick fog. Nations were fighting over contested areas until the December 25 24:00 Truce, however people were more concerned with the extreme atmospheric pollution. The approaching global cooling was much faster in nations close to the poles, and the excessive heating going on was producing a lot of Spiritum steam, further accelerating the pollution. The International 8MS Management Committee was attempting to reduce the rate of cooling and expected to release new updates within the next few days; the worldwide average temperature would recover to 10 degrees Celsius if they succeeded. Even then, polar nations would be hit with a cold wave close to the freezing point. A3W humanity was not used to such cold, knowing that B3W humanity managed to deal with it somehow. The most common search results were for things related to protecting from cold. Because there was no need for coats and cold-weather outfits prior, supply was unable to keep up with the sudden demand; the government was suggesting methods to make simple cold-weather gear with household items. Jayden finds it ironic, as the term “white Christmas” used to refer to Christmases where snow was on the ground, and now people are freaking out at seeing snow fall. Gunhild says that if you fly through the skies like this, then the wind chill gets below -50 degrees Celsius. Jayden realizes that their Rejection Shields weren’t the only things protecting them. Miyao and Gunhild wonder how B3W humanity got by without 8MS, as nowadays they can control temperature and air pressure. Luxury is very easy to get used to; people are panicking over all the 8MS breaking down when that’s actually the norm for the Earth. Jayden wonders if humans have any right to call Earth their home if they can’t handle the normalcy.
Miyao starts complaining about the intense ammonia smell, having been used to the Stench Reduction 8MS. Rumor says the smell is being caused by Spiritium steam, and Gunhild says there’s no Stench Reduction 8MS in cities that aren’t prosperous; the smell reminds her of her hometown. Miyao and Jayden then say they’ve been getting annoying rashes lately, with Gunhild adding that young trainees were getting them too. Jayden thinks it’s creepy that so many people are facing the same problem and worries it’s related to another rumor about Spiritium steam building up toxins in people’s bodies. Gunhuod thinks all these odd effects on the human body aren’t strange since the world’s environment is rapidly changing.
Jayden then hears an explosion in the distance. This wasn’t a battleground, yet Warcat was seeing flashes that looked like explosions through the fog below. Keropoyo sends a message from the AI command center, saying that many non-friendly flying objects are appearing in their vicinity. Other Gauntlet Knight squads have been warned. Miyao activates his Reaper’s Eye and tells his fellow Warcats to prepare for battle. An AOU operator tells Miyao that large numbers of allied air defense drones have suddenly gone out of control and are indiscriminately attacking the nearby city. The cause is unknown. Jayden is unable to understand how this happened. Many Gauntlet Knights had the ability to hack enemy drones, and Chloe was especially skilled at it. Using their high P3 levels, GKs could break past the drone’s security and take control, however hacking a large number of them meant bypassing the military AI itself. It was near impossible to hack a large number of drones like this, even with a supercomputer. Gunhild figures this was caused by someone with military AI access privileges, adding on to Jayden’s list of worries.
Warcat flies down to the scene, where 40 drones are firing into the city. The AOU operator removes friendly tagging from all the hacked drones and relays an order from the command center that they all be shot down. Miyao hears many other operators in the background panicking, and he figures that similar situations are happening elsewhere; his suspicions are soon confirmed when Sujatha sends him a message about it. Sujatha realizes that she sent it in the wrong chat and tells Miyao to forget that, but Miyao asks if the COU is really having the same problem as the AOU. Andry chimes in with relief that the COU’s drones aren’t just pieces of junk. Sujatha demands that Andry end the transmission and to not reveal more than is necessary. Rukhshana relays an order to intercept the drones with discretion, and Sujatha tells her squad mates to be careful when fighting in the city, as everybody’s holed up inside from the pollution. Miyao shares his concern that these drone attacks are occurring on a massive scale, and Rukhshana confirms that 79 rogue drone attacks have been carried out over COU India alone. Sujatha yells once more that they end transmission. Rukhshana gives Rukhi some calming words while Andry relays a message from an African friend that the ACR is also dealing with drone attacks. Jayden says that people all over the internet are talking about drone rebellions in the ABN and LATO as well; lots of drone swarms are out of control. Andry wonders if the World Reset Cult is really behind everything, and Miyao says it’d be better if the masterminds crushed their heads before crushing the world, a win-win.
Rukhshana starts laughing madly after hearing this, yelling that they should take all the warmongers and throw them in a coliseum, letting them fight to their heart’s content. Miyao asks if Rukhshana always laughs this much, and Andry replies that when Rukhi finds something funny, she lets loose. Sujatha gives yet another order to stop chattering during combat, and Rukhi fires off some cluster missiles while happily telling her to take care of terminal guidance for them. Sujatha is overwhelmed from receiving this sudden responsibility and soon flies off. Relieved, Rukhshana thanks Miyao and says they can now focus on fighting. Sujatha complains over having to control so many missiles, and Rukhshana gushes over her while firing off several more. Miyao tells his squad that they need to focus too.
Miyao received several messages from other members of the Public Bath during this time, and they were all saying the same thing: swarms of attack drones were going out of control and attacking everything. If these were simple air defense drones then it’d be no problem, but these were specially equipped for frontline assaults and were causing much destruction. Miyao and Jayden detect 64 drones above a main road and blast off to deal with them.
Toujirou comments that he’s always wanted to visit a LATO resort, but all the destruction has ruined the mood. Overturned umbrellas, dropped cocktail glasses, abandoned sandals; it looked like a warzone. The city was empty since people were taking refuge in government-provided air raid shelters; even tourists knew the way to shelter because of their Selcoms. Toujirou admires the goodwill of the prosperous LATO people, as nobody is taking advantage of the situation to steal dropped wallets and other things. Tina chuckles nearby, saying that LATO may have been too prosperous in leaving all air defense up to drones, resulting in the current situation. Mari wonders if it’s safe to be standing in the open like this and should take Toujirou to a shelter. They were supposed to escort Toujirou to the airport, but when the drone attack started, Toujirou went reclining in a poolside deck chair instead of getting to shelter.
Toujirou says to be patient and tells his escorts to examine the damage around them. The drones aren’t attacking randomly and indiscriminately, they’re distributing the damage evenly and efficiently. Mari sees that the drones are indeed focusing on efficiently damaging a large area, and Tina asks what she means. During warfare, it was sometimes necessary to precisely concentrate attacks to defeat an opponent. These drones looked like they were attacking randomly, but an analysis would show that there was a clear purpose. Toujirou says these drones are trying to destroy the city itself. If the drones were to attack vital establishments, the defenses there would be strong, and such places would already have plans in place for the worst-case scenario. When attacking roads, it was more efficient to aim at multi-level crossings, causing more destruction when the structures collapsed. Shooting luxury establishments lined with glass would cause unimaginable destruction with the ensuing rain of glass shards. Spreading fire would be incredibly efficient and preserve ammunition; the drones were specifically targeting flammable objects and firefighting facilities.
Toujirou poses a thought. Humanity prioritizes defense of vital establishments because they tend to be the target of attacks, including Spiritium conversion facilities and 8MS factories. Protection everywhere else is lax; it’s people that ought to be protected. In A3W, even when people saw world wars on the news, they were always disconnected from it. They always believed flashy wars would occur on the other side of the screen and lived in safety knowing that shrapnel wouldn’t come flying at them from behind the screen; this era of technology allowed for weapons to launch pinpoint attacks and still cause no damage to those living nearby. More noncombatants than soldiers die during war, and thinking that nothing on this side of the TV will be affected is naive; humanity is about to remember this obvious fact.
Toujirou’s group hears some explosions and looks to see several fireballs making arcs over the city. Toujirou recognizes those as MLRS bombardments utilized by heavy drones during coastal defense operations, perfect for attacking cities; he bids farewell to Rio de Janeiro. Several more MLRS bombardments are heard, and Mari suggests they take shelter immediately. Toujirou isn’t concerned, as he’s being protected by lovely escorts, and the area they’re in shouldn't be attacked again. Mari asks how he knows that; in short, the drones compare the damage in an area to the valuation methods used by the International Disaster Agency, and if they’re similar enough then the drones stop attacking that area. Tina is impressed by Toujirou’s knowledge, and Mari thinks to herself. Major Toujirou was acting like a James Bond wannabe, yet the drone attacks here were sure to cause many casualties and much chaos. Many people can relax when the TV’s separating them from war, but Toujirou doing it from this close was incomprehensible. Mari is scared, wondering if Toujirou isn’t human and is just watching their own world like on a TV; she wonders if this person really is Miyao’s father, and Mari can’t bring herself to describe him.
Tina says that people in Toujirou’s line of work call him a prophet, that he knows what will happen in the future and sells that info. She asks if this was one of those things, and Toujirou simply says this is something that you’d know of but can’t do anything about. Tina rephrases the question and asks if similar disasters will happen in the future. Mari desperately wants to know who’s planning it and what they want, and Toujirou ruminates a bit before deciding on a tip. He answers Mari’s first question, saying it’s hard to explain who the mastermind is, but they’re undoubtedly human; the World Reset Cult is a fitting name for them. Mari starts panicking, and Tina chuckles while saying the World Reset Cult is probably trying to play God and destroy humanity to guide them to the right path; every VIP feels this way at least once, where they get hit with the belief they’re one of the Chosen Ones. Mari asks if he knows who the mastermind is, and Toujirou says it’s expensive, willing to consider an answer if they become his escorts again; Mari becomes frustrated further. Toujirou then answers Tina, saying he has no idea how far their plan has proceeded and isn’t privy to the full details, so it’s hard to say. However, the drone attack is no natural disaster; it was caused by humans, and it can be prevented by humans. Toujirou compares them to rain ceremonies, as they’re rituals made to summon actual natural phenomena; Tina takes this to mean that a real natural disaster will occur that trivializes all these other incidents, the ultimate goal of the mastermind. Toujirou then compares the situation to chess, as playing with a board like Earth means a lot happens in darkness, and you can’t be sure the opponent is even seated. Toujirou continues using chess metaphors, and Tina and Mari are unable to follow; they figure he was sharing his knowledge and diluting it enough that he could talk about it openly. In short, this incident doesn’t deserve to be called a natural disaster. Tina asks if it was okay for him to tell them that, though at this stage it won't matter anyways. Toujirou says that in the end, they’re all pieces on a game board, waiting for the player who owns them to use them to contribute to victory. He says to have faith in humanity as they’ll definitely win, though who knows how many pieces will be lost before then; if it’s for the sake of saving humanity, then it shouldn’t matter how many people die.
On a military radio, the operator relays a report from the Central Command Center that all non-friendly drones have been suppressed; the connection is bad, as the operator keeps cutting out. For the moment, all usage of drones is forbidden. Every active Gauntlet Knight squad is asked to visually confirm the damage. The radio continues with information that Wisła Bridge is collapsing and Eastern District emergency vehicles are unable to proceed. A government spokesperson tries to reassure the citizens, asking them to check safety information on their Selcoms. The drones had caused an unprecedented amount of damage; B3W humanity was always afraid of the possibility that they’d lose control of their automated weaponry, and there was a failsafe added in drones to combat this. Similar to how human cells that mutate will become attacked by other cells, drones were programmed to destroy any friendly units that behaved strangely, and this was all protected by a military AI with advanced security. The military AIs of every faction and every country had been breached with proper passwords, ones used by people in high authority. Whether or not the passwords were hacked or handed over by traitors, this was sure to cause a blame game for the widespread damage, so this information was kept secret.
A firefighter radios for support, as firestorms have erupted at a scene and the wind is spreading it. An operator mishears them and thinks they’re trying to put out the fire with bombs, yelling that there's over a hundred people trapped in there. The megacities created in A3W resulted in areas having extremely high population densities, and disasters like these caused massive casualties. This was made worse by the 8MS breaking down when they relied on them a lot to deal with disasters.
Naima wonders how many casualties there are in total, and Naomi figures around 20 million have died in ABN France alone. Stan thinks this day will become the day with the greatest number of human casualties since the beginning of history. Thalathat Suyuf laments the destruction of the Eiffel Tower, fearing how easily military AI took it down.
Yeladot Shavit gives a broadcast to ABN citizens telling them to show everyone peace and harmony. Leah says that a special order of harmony is in effect, where people accused of religion-based hate crimes shall be given justice without the need for a trial. Fatma tells the citizens to report as many atheists and fundamentalists terrorists as they can, happily saying that she just made one herself. Stephania is spurred on by Fatma’s declaration and swears to report as many suspicious people as she can for contribution points. Yeladot Shavit ends their broadcast, and a worried Fatma says they should be focusing more on fires and disaster victims instead of religious crimes. Leah is surprised that armored cars with religious police are given higher priority over fire trucks, calling it a miracle of love and harmony. Stephania says the death count in ABN Romania is over 8 million and she can’t get in contact with her mom. The squad becomes worried.
The news reports that the casualties will number 500 million in the ACR. Mariana says this will solve the world famine issue, and Gannet berates her for calmly saying something like that; billions of people probably died worldwide. Gannet says some of her own friends have died as well and accuses Mariana of being heartless. Noor tells them both to remain calm, as the Walls of Peace are being tested, and they must maintain their composure. Mariana says that no matter how gruesome things get, they still have a mission to chase out all the ABN bases in Africa before the Global Truce. Gannet complains over the government playing musical chairs and her Dimension Container being filled with ammo, calling it insane. Noor tells her to be quiet, as if anybody heard her then Gannet would be replaced by someone who doesn’t mind having a full Container. Spurred by the thought of Gannet being replaced, Mariana says that Gannet’s right, as she’s complaining for the three of them.
Abdou relays the news to his squad that use of drones will be suspended indefinitely, and Ishak figures it was natural, as humanity would be destroyed if a similar event happened again. There’s still the truce coming up and the situation regarding conflicted areas, so the Gauntlet Knights will finally be fighting directly, not that manned weapons could scratch them anyway. Rethabile silently stands by, and Ishak suggests she take a rest. Rethabile is prepared to experience death up close as a soldier, and with her mission of protecting the people, she cannot lament Cyril’s death any longer. She wonders how much Cyril knew, thinking he anticipated more than just the drone revolt; his death was brutal enough as to be appropriate. She then wonders if Cyril, with his position in the 8MS industry, could have been involved with an international conspiracy; he’s not greedy, so could he have a secret Rethabile didn’t know? Cyril was indeed a member of several international gentlemen's clubs, and groups like those tended to act like they were the Chosen Ones. Some people were charitable and donated out of genuine goodwill, others will act like needy people are animals and give themselves a pat on the back for helping them. Rethabile stops thinking and gets a stern expression on her face.
- Briefing Room (The drones begin attacking)
- T's Blues (Toujirou talks while watching the destruction)
- Dark Clouds (Toujirou answers some questions)
- Ominous3 (The drones cause massive damage)
- The June Sky is an Endless Blue... (Cairo Squad and Squad 601 lament the number of casualties)
Chapter 24: A Kids' Meal of Natural Disasters
- "What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it."
- — Salvador Dalí
The news criticizes the world factions for allowing this drone revolt to happen despite the copious amounts of countermeasures. A commentator believes the earthquake that disrupted all the Environmental 8MS also had an effect on the drones’ circuits. Human soldiers will once again be sent to the frontlines like in B3W, except this time Gauntlet Knights are center stage; fighting to a draw will be difficult. The number and skills of each nation’s GKs will likely dramatically influence the state of the world going forward. It’s possible for large groups of GKs to launch a coup d’etat, however they would inevitably need fuel and rations. Gauntlet Knight technology may become commonplace in the future, but for now only a limited number of youth can use them.
Seshat turns off the broadcast and comments that it is now the era of the young. She looks at images of various Gauntlet Knight squads, saying they’ve all been given power and are now the only ones populating the gameboard. Never before in history has any human child had this much power; these kids have all sprouted, and now they must bloom before they get eaten. Seshat loves to watch kids do their best, however she won’t take responsibility for what happens next, laughing to herself.
Jestress reports that the drone operation was a success thanks to their chivalric orders. Sorrow was checking the news, however he doesn’t have a good grasp of the damage. Fury believes the results are not enough, still a long way from their plans. 3 billion people have died worldwide, with 500 million more expected due to how stretched out medical services are. Ridicule laughs gleefully upon hearing this number; out of the 10 billion humans that were on earth, one-third had been wiped out. If this happened during B3W, civilization would have ended in an instant. A3W supertechnology kept things running despite the extensive damage.
Many survivors still believed this was someone else’s problem, ironically preventing panic and stabilizing the people. This attitude was also caused by a large gap between affected and unaffected areas, as more than twice the amount of attacked cities weren’t touched at all. Because of how lopsided the affected zones were, many people only knew about the event from TV. It might seem strange for people to feel disconnected from such a tragic event, even if they didn’t experience it directly, however humans are surprisingly indifferent when it comes to fellow human lives. It doesn’t matter how many people die, if they aren’t from your country then the weather is more important; having your dog die would be much more heartbreaking. People mourn the dead because of the interpersonal bonds they developed while they were alive. Remove those bonds, and humans will not care unless they see death in person. It’s certainly a heartless feeling, but remember that almost half of all babies born into this world are not carried by ciconia. Many babies are born in factories, categorized by talents and sent to different institutions, only able to make friends with those of the same generation and similar talents; interpersonal bonds in A3W were much weaker than in B3W. People like this might feel a twinge of sadness when seeing tragedies on the news, but as long as their city and loved ones are safe, all of it goes away once the channel changes.
As Sorrow puts it, 3.5 billion deaths is not very many. Jestress laughs, amused that her masters are unsatisfied with such a big number, and Fury regrets that this destruction wasn’t merciful enough and leaves it to the incoming food crises and earthquakes to finish off humanity. Sorrow hopes they’ll find people worthy to leave everything to. Jestress agrees, as an ark is worthless without Noah and his wife. The Three Kings espouse how they have lost patience with humanity so many times, yet this time they believe they will get it right. They are lovingly swinging down their hatchet to prevent humanity from reaching a gruesome end; all is in the name of guiding humanity down the right path.
Grave Mole is gathered with several trainee Gauntlet Knights. Since drone usage is forbidden, factions are sending out newbie Gauntlet Knights into combat without proper training; many of them haven’t even finished adjusting their Gauntlets. Lilja says the newbies should be told not to use their Dimension Containers, as an ally self-destructing would take out even the strongest shields. Chloe relays this warning to all of the inexperienced GKs, and a trainee takes that to mean they’re not allowed to fight. Lilja replies that all of them should just watch the veterans do the work. Chloe wants the trainees to focus on defending and keeping themselves safe rather than attacking, as it will do them more good in the end. Everyone should return their Gauntlet in one piece, as people can be replaced, Gauntlets not so much. Lilja yells that if their shield is broken, they should retreat, punctuating it with meows. Chloe also reminds them of the moral code not to attack retreating enemies, as they are all comrades in upholding peace. Many of the Gauntlet Knight aces shared in Miyao’s philosophy of not fighting and not killing, but these trainees were different. Some of them wanted to become aces and make a name for themselves, others saw their opponents as genuine enemies. Others held more loyalty to their commanding officers than to the veterans, and they might report it if they were told what the Public Bath was doing. Koshka is disgusted by Lilja and Chloe’s actions, saying that everyone can just go die if they want to. Lilja tries to reassure her that she was joking but Koshka leaves the virtual room. Lilja is silent, and Chloe asks who she really is. Lilja simply says that she is Lilja Viljakainen, a girl who as a trainee flew past an annoying instructor and wound up macerating him and other officers when the wind changed her trajectory. She was slated for execution by firing squad but accepted the offer to become Geroy equipment.
Lingji sends a message to Grave Mole on behalf of Baibao, hoping that their upcoming fight will be good and clean. Chloe has some bad news to give and Aysha calls it a coincidence; the COU is also sending trainee Gauntlet Knights into combat. Baibao has given their newbies the same speech that Chloe did, but most of them are too immature to understand. Chloe relents, saying they can more than make up for the trainees by changing the ace squad’s behavior. Aysha comments on this unseen side of Chloe, as the old her was more kind and peaceful. She and Momotake agree, as far too much has happened, and anybody would change from it. Chloe hopes Baibao won’t be too hard on them as Keropoyo announces that COU forces are approaching. Chloe says that maybe this world should be destroyed, and she doesn’t know if it’s really her job to follow Miyao’s dream of believing in the good in people’s hearts.
Sujatha talks to Miyao, apologizing for sending him a message meant for Lingji the other day. Sujatha has a message for him that she would normally give to Lingji, however Lingji respects Miyao. The Order of the Public Bath’s philosophy has been noticed by some disagreeable superior officers in the COU when they analyzed Gauntlet Knight movement data and looked at failed attacks that could only have been caused intentionally. They began to realize that these failed attacks were sabotage happening on an organized level instead of just issues with individual soldiers. Gunhild resigns that they would be found out eventually, and they hoped to push it off until the truce. Jayden remarks that their mental care doesn’t get enough analysis. Miyao says the “don’t die, don’t kill” part applies to social death as well, so Sujatha should play dumb as best she can, even if it means forgetting everything about the Order. Sujatha agrees, as they’re at the point where the world may be destroyed no matter what they do.
Miyao asks why Sujatha didn’t tell Lingji, and she explains that Lingji greatly adores Miyao’s Order, truly believing that happiness would come to the world if everyone joined hands. Sujatha supported the Order but still believed they’d be exposed and told Lingji not to get too emotionally involved, but she ignored her. Sujatha felt Lingji would listen if it came straight from Miyao’s mouth. Sujatha wants Miyao to tell her about what’s happening, as they’ll be analyzing movement data from all kettes deployed. Lingji may not care what happens to her, but her comrades will be punished alongside her. It’s Miyao’s responsibility as the Grand Master. Miyao promises to do it and tells Sujatha and her squad to take care of themselves. Sujatha says it’s safe to assume that the AOU has begun analysis of movement data as well since the COU higher-ups are always bragging about being one step ahead. Sujatha ends the transmission and thinks to herself, as there was no way they could play hero without the old men watching.
COU Meeting Room
A COU colonel berates Suparna, demanding to know why their FCS support was turned off when they initiated terminal guidance during several conflicts. A nervous Rukhshana and the colonel exchange silence, and an officer slaps Rukhshana when she doesn’t respond; Sujatha had also been slapped beforehand, the both of them continuing to stand at attention. The colonel brings up the attack on the agricultural plant, where Suparna neglected to check for nearby civilians and caused casualties, stopping his spiel when Rukhshana starts laughing. Sujatha tells her comrade to stop but Rukhi laughs heavily, wanting to know if they’re in trouble because they hit things or because they missed things. Suparna might as well be disbanded if they’re so untrustworthy after the COU Joint Parliament spent so much effort putting them together. If the COU Combined Military’s murder weapons arent working properly, then blame it on them for slacking off during maintenance. Sujatha implores her to stop, but Rukhi keeps on voicing her discontent with the COU. They beat up Kozèko Squad earlier as an example and promised a carrot, then when Kozèko showed good results at the Battle Standard Festival, they got nothing. The men in charge were all bragging about how well they raised Kozèko Squad, and yet the squad was standing at attention at their own sendoff party. The colonel raises his cane and swings it onto Rukhi only for Andry to stand in front and take the hit. Rukhshana is surprised, and Andry tells the colonel that after flying she suddenly becomes hyperactive due to cranial secretions and starts acting like a different person, promising that they’ll have it examined later. Andry assures the colonel that Rukhshana’s condition is being caused by weariness and negative side effects from the drugs she’s taking, and as a COU soldier, Rukhshana must recognize her failure in solving those problems. A trail of blood drips from Andry’s forehead, and he continues defending Rukhshana and begs that her re-education be held off until the truce tomorrow. Rukhshana is silent, telling Rukhi to calm down and to hate herself as much as she wants when this is over. The colonel struggles for a response, and another colonel says there’s nobody as good as Suparna for fighting ace kettes, so they’ll overlook these incidents once. Suparna is dismissed, and Sujatha thanks the colonels.
Miyao’s Mental Space
Miyao is unable to comprehend what’s going on, as the young are supposed to be the main characters yet there’s nothing they can do. Natural disasters that would happen every once in a millennium are all happening at the same time, and a fourth World War is occurring; superearthquakes, world famine, drone revolts; it’s a kid’s meal of natural disasters. There’s no way these are coincidences, yet people believe they are, as that’s what a natural disaster is. Supertechnology will take care of it all, so why should anyone bother? Miyao says everyone is out of the loop and compares it to battle manga, where the villain is like, “let me show you my power” and vaporizes a bunch of random characters. People like Miyao are those characters, getting dragged into incidents they don’t understand and waiting with bated breath for the chance to strike back. Miyao knows this kid’s meal won’t end so easily and asks for a prophecy. Miyao soon appears, and Miyao asks where his enemy is if he’s supposed to be a murder program. Miyao asks why he should help if he’s an enemy trying to erase Miyao, and the latter replies that it’s Miyao’s goal to prove Miyao is not Miyao Mitake. Miyao continues venting, and Miyao sighs at the thought of being used in this way. Miyao demands to see a prophecy, wanting to know how much more insane things will get. Miyao relents, as Miyao calling for him means he’s accepted his existence. He says the tragedies will continue so long as Miyao exists, and Miyao takes this to mean he’s a global destruction program on top of a murder program. Humanity’s weaponry will continue to malfunction; they took care of the ones on the ground, but not the ones in space.
At the end of WWIII, all weapons of mass destruction, including satellites that could attack the ground from space, were disposed of. For some reason, this didn’t include 4D printer satellites. It was believed that 4DP satellites would pave the way for building space stations and were vital to space development, yet all factions lost interest in the space race and focused more on preserving a healthy military balance and drone swarms. Space centers worldwide had already seen what was happening, and it was only a matter of time. 3 days ago, all 5 4DP satellites stopped responding to ground orders and began constructing mysterious objects with unknown materials. They resembled totem poles with 8 wings growing out of them, with incomprehensible patterns carved into them. These objects were being referred to as “19940305” and had separated from the satellites two minutes ago. The Earth’s gravity pulled them towards the surface, and if they land in cities, they will cause major damage; not so bad after a drone attack to kill 3.5 billion people. It will be discovered that the totems will land in the oceans, but they’ll continue sinking towards the ocean floor, fatally affecting the 8MS managing the seawater environment. Nearly all the Earth’s environments were supported by the sea, and 2/3rds of the world's oxygen came from the sea; even though the Environmental 8MS was having trouble, the 8MS in the oceans is what kept humanity upright like a crutch. The totems will cause water intake facilities and Water Purification 8MS to start sending out alerts, and eventually drinking water will become contaminated. Water can be purified, but 8MS can’t; the eight million gods cannot be rid of. Miyao says to be patient, as the kid’s meal will soon become a full-course meal. A Medical 8MS with very dangerous side effects will create a biohazard, attacking all of humanity. This 8MS would have been a wonder to humanity if it were completed, however the side effects made it practically useless; much chaos was to come from its spread. It won’t kill people, but it will impair their intelligence and reasoning abilities. Humans are emotional creatures, as even the biggest genius can’t think clearly when faced with emotion or their current environment. Humanity has already been acting irresponsibly, so imagine what would happen once they lose their intelligence.
Miyao thinks Miyao is trying to make people kill each other, and the blue-bodied-one replies that it’s the opposite; Miyao caused everything because of his program. Miyao was too late to stop the kid’s meal, but he can still stop the program. Miyao refuses to accept that he’s actually responsible for all of this, denying that he is a god of pestilence destroying the world. Miyao asks if ebola viruses would feel murderous intent towards humans if they had emotions. They wouldn’t; they’re just doing what they’re meant to do. Miyao is simply doing everything he’s meant to do, and the Earth’s destruction approaches ever closer because of it. Miyao asks if everything would be fixed if he disappeared, and Miyao quickly affirms it. Miyao falls into more disbelief, and Miyao figures he’ll start believing and erase himself before long. Miyao refers back to the prophecy that Miyao will kill Lingji and the others, and it’s soon to pass; Miyao can prevent it if he erases himself now. Miyao decides to continue telling Miyao about future tragedies and will let him decide who’s right in the end.
Miyao promises that if it’s definitely proven that he is the one destroying the world, then he will disappear. Miyao gladly accepts this proposition, and an alert is suddenly heard. Keropoyo has started to become alerted to Miyao’s presence again, and Miyao is told not to tell the frogs about him, otherwise their partnership ends there; Miyao is the only way for Miyao to free himself as a cog in the machine he’s in. Miyao sends him away, and several Keropoyos arrive while talking about an unapproved program. Miyao denies ever seeing one, and the rest of the frogs continue searching. Miyao then asks what he is, and Keropoyo falls silent. Miyao asks if he really is just a program made to resemble Miyao Mitake, and Keropoyo starts croaking rapidly. Miyao becomes confused, and Keropoyo suddenly calls him adorable while telling him to sleep. Keropoyo soothes Miyao, saying it is not yet time to wake up.
- Evil Schemes (The news realizes how powerful Gauntlet Knights are)
- Briefing Room (Chloe and Lilja tell the newbies not to get themselves killed)
- Lizard Running Across the Apartment Wall (Sujatha informs Miyao of the higher-ups noticing the Order's plans)
- The June Sky is an Endless Blue... (Suparna is berated)
- Dark Clouds (Miyao calls for Miyao)
- Miserable (Miyao warns that a biohazard 8MS will soon spread)
Chapter 25: The Hour of the Prophecy
- "People love mystery, and that is why they love my paintings."
- — Salvador Dalí
December 25th, the day the truce to end the global conflict would be made. Miyao and Jayden are together when Jayden suddenly receives a message from Meow. Meow wants him to keep this a secret from Miyao, as he doesn’t like it when she talks to him while he’s working. Meow laments that this was supposed to be the day of their date, and Jayden says to move it to another day, wanting to take her to a place in Neo Akihabara, the Yellow Submachine Gun. Jayden and Meow excitedly talk about otaku things, distracting themselves from the fact they were flying over cities ruined by the drone attack. The temperature had also dropped considerably, feeling like they were freezing in midair. Meow voices her concerns that the oceans are going to have problems next. Jayden says Miyao was calling it a disaster kid’s meal and Meow smiles, having heard it from him earlier. Meow then tells Jayden that even though their date is being pushed back, they should still have a Christmas party. They should gather all the Gauntlet Knights into It’s a Wrap Public Bath and have fun since everybody must be feeling down from defending the Walls of Peace. Jayden agrees, as it’ll be a good way to celebrate the global truce. Meow asks Jayden not to tell Miyao she suggested it, as he always fights with her when Meow says anything. The conversation ends, and Jayden suggests this to Miyao and Gunhild.
Miyao thinks Jayden is insane, but Gunhild likes the idea. Mental multitasking is commonplace for people in A3W, and they can’t just focus entirely on fighting. Miyao eventually agrees to the idea, but he doesn’t hold responsibility if he invites people and nobody comes. Keropoyo gives a salute.
Sujatha and Lingji are surprised to hear that Miyao is actually throwing a Christmas party, and Aysha thinks it’s great to cure their depression before they go into combat. Andry suggests to Rukhi that this is a good time for her to let loose now that she’s gotten comfortable with the Public Bath members. Rukhshana tries to keep Rukhi under control, and Momotake says to let it all out and bites his tongue, eliciting a response from Rukhi. Rukhi happily agrees to join the party, and a surprised Sujatha says to focus on fighting as Rukhi mocks her, saying that Sujatha uses all of her P3 just for 2 missiles; Sujatha surrenders and agrees to come.
Noor and Cairo Squad will come to the party since Rethabile is also going. Abdou and Gannet like the idea of being able to party while fighting each other, as they’ll truly meet as friends. The user’s heart condition affects the Gauntlet, and if everyone were to go into combat as stressed as they are, it wouldn’t be good. Rethabile commends Miyao for being deeply interesting, being unable to doubt him.
Naima is ecstatic at being able to attend the party, and Naomi says this announcement has raised her condition 14% towards the Madonna’s Maximum Speed. Invitations are sent to Yeladot Shavit since they are also members of It’s a Wrap Public Bath. Leah is silent for a bit, and when Stephania asks what’s wrong, she replies that being seen as a comrade makes her emotional. Yeladot Shavit is the squad everybody hates, yet they were invited too; Leah wants to attend so as not to disappoint Naima.
Christmas originated from various religions, yet the idea of a Christmas party as a cultural festival was spread separately from religion. It was celebrated worldwide in A3W, no matter the culture and religion. Santa Claus was still an important part of Christmas, and many regions had different interpretations; the Akita region of AOU Japan believed Santa came with a knife and a bag to carry naughty children in, terrifying them as a way of ceremonial cleansing. Many Gauntlet Knights were flooding into the festively-decorated Public Bath, much to Keropoyo’s dismay in handling the server load. Miyao offers to handle some of the load and Jayden becomes amazed at handling this many people. Gunhild says it’s possible because Miyao has the highest P3 levels in the entire world. The Gauntlet Knight ace squads all arrive and converse, Rethabile and Ishak talk about how there are no enemies when protecting peace, and Rukhi chimes in with discontent for the old leaders forcing the young to fight for them. Rethabile is confused as to why she’s acting differently, and Andry explains that Rukhshana is showing her true self now that she trusts everyone. Gannet makes her acquaintances with Rukhi, and the others talk about how much they’ve cheered up. Gunhild asks Lilja where Koshka is, and she replies that they had a fight and so Koshka is sulking. Miyao decides to let her be since pestering Koshka at a time like this would make things worse for her. Jayden starts talking about how laggy things in the room are getting, and Miyao swears that he put the server at full power. He then shows surprise at there being over a thousand people logged in. Tina says this is the same number of Gauntlet Knights as there are in the world, and Mari says this may be a major history moment. Miyao is asked how he’ll introduce things, and they notice how GKs aren’t just hanging around their own squads and are talking with those from other factions. Gunhild says that Kizuna really does have a good name for it, meaning “bonds between people” in Japanese.
Miyao wishes that Gauntlet Knights could fly forever, being freed from those adults who see them as tools. Flying through the sky makes him forget all about the disaster kid’s meal happening, and he wishes that a tsunami would just wipe everything away. Civilization is going to be destroyed, yet Miyao feels relieved. He thinks life shouldn;t originate from factories, rather they should be born in nature and die in nature. Gazing at the darkened, polluted sky, Miyao says to himself that this planet is beautiful, and he doesn’t know if humanity deserves to see tomorrow.
Keropoyo sends a message from the AI command center, complaining that he’s being called a murder AI just for following and processing commands during the drone revolt. Miyao doesn’t understand, as using the excuse of “just following orders” is something only AIs can use; humans are expected to follow their consciences in times like these. Keropoyo relays an emergency notice to all Gauntlet Knights and one from Captain Okonogi. Okonogi frantically speaks to Warcat, asking if they’re doing anything weird and saying that even though he was harsh, he never doubted their souls as soldiers. An AOU general reports that after analysis, there is a strong likelihood of organized sabotage within the Aerial Augmented Infantry, as over 300 cases of suspicious combat activity were found. Gauntlets were new technology, and so there was no precedent to compare them to; militaries were accepting reports from GKs and putting in faith that combat failures were legitimate. Yet, they began to accept that GKs were purposefully failing their attacks. Many people in the military had been pushed off to the side because of GK activities, and they found it easy to criticize them. With the concern that a large number of them could stage a coup d’etat, many officers pushed for closer inspection iof Gauntlet Knights. The AOU general continues, saying that normally they would recall every GK and do a thorough inspection, however since it’s the date of the truce they’ll save that for later. Until 24:00, they will be appointing combat surveillance teams to watch every Gauntlet Knight’s movements and give instructions, ensuring that no improper actions are taken.
Barrier troops were units tasked with watching soldiers from behind who have low morale; they even have permission to shoot if their allies try to run from the enemy. These were typically employed in important situations that had to be won with low morale troops. These situations typically involved the enemy having overwhelming numbers, and defending a position to the death. Deploying barrier troops was basically saying “attack and die or retreat and die.” Okonogi continues, saying that he did notice suspicious combat data, but real war is more than just numbers. Only brats assume that anything done in training could be done in actual combat, and Okonogi expresses that he has faith in Warcat before suddenly getting cut off. An AOU analyst then speaks to Warcat, saying that their team will be watching until the truce. They’re aware of the specs of their Gauntlets and will be offering tips to improve their combat abilities. All the AOU GKs in the Public Bath became shaken, and the ones from other factions started to feel the same. Rethabile gives a message to all the ACR Gks, telling them to fight with all they have. A COU analyst says they will be graciously rewarded if they show exceptional prowess. Aysha says that not all Gauntlet Knights do it for a hobby or as a pastime; some do it because it’s one of the few jobs you can get solely with talent, not through family connections or money. Becoming part of an ace kette in the COU meant one got lots of good treatment and honor, and Aysha’s family found much happiness upon learning she joined Baibao. She asks Momotake not to assume that all Gauntlet Knights fly for pride and adventure, and then she asks Lingji if she remembers how she’d join the Order of the Public Bath, but only if she could keep her job. Momotake sees what she plans to do, and Aysha exclaims that she will gladly perform exceptionally, as Lingji is the COU’s princess, and if they go all out they can get them to overlook everything Baibao’s done. Momotake shows opposition to this idea, and Aysha begins berating him for how he’s had a privileged life, not knowing what foul air tastes like and how there are many other cities that aren't so good. After seeing everyone complain about the Atmospheric Purification 8MS breaking down, Aysha began to realize that everybody else was breathing nice air while she struggled to get to where she is now. She shows resentment towards her old classmates for mocking her smelly formal wear, laughing.
Lingji is silent for a moment and then sends a message to all COU Gauntlet Knights, asking them to show their loyalty and do their best.
Leah sends a message to all ABN GKs, saying Yeladot Shavit has permission to strike down allies that lack the will to bring justice. She asks that they not be forced to do that. Naima and the rest of Leah’s squad mates don't like having to kill either their allies or their enemies, and Stan relays a message from Miyao saying it’s okay to forget the Order. Naima calls it interesting, as people telling you to obey is a pain, but being told not to worry about obeying makes you want to do it anyway. Naima still wants to hold true to the Order’s philosophy, however she tells the enemy Gauntlet Knights to run or else they’ll be killed by her. Naima blasts off.
Keropoyo sends several alerts of friends arriving, and Miyao laments why young people have to be tried by heaven.
Inside the Public Bath, everybody was having fun despite the fact their real bodies were approaching combat. Rather, their virtual avatars were now their real bodies, as their physical ones were being turned into tools used by adults. As Keropoyo gives combat notifications, the GKs continue chatting happily. Miyao and other aces wish they could just abandon their real bodies and live in a virtual world forever as an analyst complains about someone not firing, saying it will be considered sabotage if it happens again. Jayden says the next stage after the industrial revolution will be everyone getting uploaded into a massive server somewhere. Gunhild is concerned over who would be managing that server, and Jayden says to leave it to AI and robots, soon wondering who will maintain them. Miyao then asks Jayden a hypothetical question of what he’d do if someone really did make a server like that; Jayden would happily do that if Meow were there. Meow pops up for a bit to express her love for Jayden and Miyao sends her away, not wanting to go. Jayden says he and Miyao are like one flesh, so they’ll always be together anywhere. Keropoyo and analysts keep giving alerts, and Gunhild wonders if a human soul can tolerate the concept of eternity. Jayden figures that deleting your old memories would help to stave off that boredom.
Momotake comments that factory-born people have an interesting way of thinking, and Leah calls it discrimination for only girls to give birth; Chloe mentions that artificial wombs allow men to get pregnant.
Koshka gets pestered by messages from analysts and tells them to shut up, looking at some former WanyaDora party members. She wants them to escape or else she’ll really shoot them.
Miyao pops open a virtual champagne bottle, and Stan asks everyone to focus their attention on him. The room suddenly quiets down, and Miyao starts giving a speech as champagne glasses appear in the hands of everyone. Miyao says that they are all comrades supporting the Walls of Peace together, and this is a first and final toast to celebrate that. Everyone holds up their glasses and toasts to Grand Master Miyao. Miyao briefly appears, saying it’s time for the tragedy.
An ACR analyst threatens someone with arrest and losing the right to become a Gauntlet Knight, saying re-education will take up to 10 years. A few people in the room seem to disappear, and Jayden suggests they all sing a Christmas song. Gauntlet Knights in the real world are now fighting and killing each other, being spurred on by the analysts. Another GK is threatened with getting their family arrested for unpatriotic thinking, being made socially dead regardless of whether they're innocent or not. Angel feathers fall out of the sky as the people in the virtual room sing arm in arm, with people disappearing sporadically and the gaps being filled soon after. Naima finds the singing fun as she berates her allies for shooting someone when their shields were gone, threatening to kill them instead. Naomi tries to calm her down but Naima continues to follow Miyao’s ideals.
Rethabile gives the order to the ACR Gauntlet Knights to follow her command. Lingji tells the COU GKs to suspend the latter half of “don’t die, don’t kill,” much to Momotake’s concern. Aysha figures that Lingji saying it must have hurt, as she has now taken responsibility and become a true warrior. Baibao blasts off. Keropoyo continues speaking for other Gauntlet Knights, asking why they have to die when they just wanted to fly. Analysts keep demeaning Gauntlet Knights, saying it costs a lot of money to let them fly, and there’s many people to replace them. Okonogi sends a message asking the analysts to calm down, as those kids are putting their lives on the line. Okonogi yells that because they’re all sitting in spotless monitor rooms, they have no right to criticize people taking risks before getting ejected from the chat.
Stephania sends a warning to someone saying their efforts are lacking and they will be shot next time. Leah wonders what kind of heaven awaits those who are shooting frightened lambs in the back. An analyst says rebellious allies have been marked and asks for terminal guidance to be initiated on cluster missiles. Leah quickly changes her behavior, and Yeladot Shavit reluctantly fires the missiles.
People in the virtual room keep disappearing, and Miyao says they will always be comrades. Koshka says that Miyao must now understand what’s going on. This world has lacked love from the start, and kids like them are made just to be game pieces. Miyao shows despair that they can’t rebel no matter what they do, and Koshka replies that as long as they have the courage to throw away their flesh bodies, they can still shoot back at those adults. Koshka swears to destroy this broken world and blasts off. Jayden calls Miyao back to attention.
An unknown person receives an email from someone for the first time. The sender declares themselves to be part of the Ninth Prime Chivalric Order and appeals to the recipient's loss of hope for the world. They invite the recipient to join their cause in rebuilding the world from scratch.
Miyao reminisces on the past, thinking about the time spent with his fellow Gauntlet Knights. Gunhild suddenly receives an alert that Keropoyo is running a self-diagnostic, so her shield won’t come up. Miyao and Jayden yell out for her to dodge the incoming missiles, but a flash of white is seen. Another memory with Gunhild is shown, and Lilja suddenly gets electrocuted by Chloe’s remote. Getting shocked while flying in the sky meant death, and missiles start approaching Lilja as she curses Chloe; Chloe says she’s free to blast her to bits if she survives, grinning sinisterly.
Miyao had prophesied that Miyao would kill Lingji and Koshka, yet Miyao refuses to accept that it will happen. Miyao and Lingji exchange blows as angel feathers scatter around them, and Miyao tries convincing his friend to stop. As Lingji brandishes a golden Gauntlet, she says it was more than just a message: it was the responsibility of one who bears the weight of her comrades’ lives and deaths. They were barraging each other with Rejection Shield-powered punches, and Keropoyo warns that Miyao’s shield was no match for Lingji’s and was going to break soon. Miyao is sure that Lingji’s faith in the world will return before his shield breaks and then asks how Lingji can even call herself a Gauntlet Knight, desperately telling her to stop as his shield begins flickering from lack of energy. Keropoyo suddenly announces that external access has been given to Miyao’s Gauntlet. Toujirou had entered an admin password and was assuming control of Miyao’s Gauntlet. Miyao asks his dad what he’s doing, and Toujirou replies that Miyao cannot die yet. Toujirou presses a few keys and Miyao is forced to give one last punch towards a surprised Lingji, his fist easily passing through the air with a splash of blood. Keropoyo announces that Lingji has left the room due to an error; she should’ve had more than enough energy to uphold her shield, so why did it suddenly break?
Lingji’s body with its head half destroyed plummets out of the sky as a blood-spattered Miyao cries out in despair. Toujirou looks concerned before giving a small grin.
The news reports that the simultaneous global truce is now in effect. All fighting between factions has ceased. The credits roll.
- Deeply Remember (Meow suggests they throw a Christmas party)
- chat (The party invitation is sent to GKs worldwide)
- Tan Smile (The aces marvel at the amount of people)
- Evil Schemes (The command center announces they are appointing analysts)
- Briefing Room (The aces realize that the Order of the Public Bath's goals were leaked)
- Beach (The Gauntlet Knights enjoy the party while fighting)
- Apocalypsis Ciconia-II (The Gauntlet Knights fight to the death)
- Sunya no sora~Emptiness's Sky~ (Miyao reminisces as he fights Lingji)
- Utopia (Credits)
A bloodied Koshka happily says that she can now abandon her old body and start over in a new world with a new body. She sits on the ground surrounded by bits of flesh and police officers armed with Anti-Gauntlet weaponry.
A maskless Jestress flies over the ocean, leaving angel feathers in her wake and trying to catch up with an unknown Gauntlet Knight. She's unwilling to let them get away after all the work she's put in.
A Gauntlet-equipped Seshat arrives at an underground facility, commenting that someone’s sleeping face is cute and that they can’t sleep for a whole millennium; she needs them to call back “those two.” Seshat holds out an object that soon glows brightly.
A gun-wielding Vier is guided by Toujirou to a replica of the Venus de Milo, which had been built with a secret compartment. Vier lowers her gun and smiles upon seeing the drawer open.
A mom and dad talk, with Dad asking if she’s thought of a name for their child. Mom settles for Miyao (都雄), meaning the best hero (雄) in the city (都). Mom soothes Miyao, calling him adorable and telling him to sleep, that he doesn’t have to wake up yet. She admits that she’s a bad mother, using up the world for her own sake. If Miyao gets a chance to fulfill his mother’s wishes while he’s still alive, then he should do it. Mom apologizes for giving birth to Miyao simply to use as a game piece, figuring that he will complain about it; in exchange, he’ll become the best Gauntlet Knight in the world. Miyao will be happy and everyone will praise him up until the day he becomes a game piece; Mom hopes that day never comes.
A narrator speaks to Miyao, asking if this is really the world he wished for and why he’s refusing it. In a cloudy sky, Jayden appears with a blue body and a veil around his head. He promised that he’d go anywhere if it was with him, the camera zooming out to reveal a red moon behind him. A "To be continued..." screen appears.
- Sunya no sora~Emptiness's Sky~ [Instrumental]