Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Full Metal Panic! Volume 05

Chapter 3: Black and White (continued)

October 20th, 19:05 (Western Pacific Standard Time)
Northern Part of Merida Island Base
Practice Grounds

Waves of information came surging in over the battle-status cockpit screen.

The digital images of the scenery captured by the optical sensors were streaming in very fast.

The jungle had started to cool down in the twilight, and the sky was harmoniously dyed in shades of crimson and purple. The sudden gusts of wind that the ASes caused violently shook the now-darkened trees.

The afterimages of everything appeared at the top of the screen and vanished.

There were many types of gauges. A G-meter going up and down little by little. A bearings grid rotating left and right. A variable grappler mode reticule. The target box and motion indicator ran wild, the power gauge expanded and contracted, and the AI’s buzzers sounded off in rapid succession.

<Movement detected!>
From the direction of 8 o’clock, behind from the left.

Lieutenant Clouseau’s M9 closed in on the Arbalest, which was hidden in the dense thicket.

The jet black AS was approaching. It had two flaming orange eyes.
“...!”
Impact.

Sousuke’s Arbalest narrowly dodged it. The black M9’s training knife grazed its armor.

There was also a sharp flash. He lunged, swung at him, then reeled off a succession of roundhouse kicks.

While provocative, it also had a unique rhythm to it that felt like some kind of serene dance. And while full of energy, somewhere within it one could feel the silence and depth of a lake.

What are these moves?

Human; extremely human-like moves. He couldn’t believe that his opponent was an Arm Slave. Throbbing muscles and the smell of sweat, a beating heart, even bones crunching- he could almost sense these in it.

But above all else, this black M9 was-

Strong...!

That’s right. He was strong. He was Sousuke’s equal- no, even better than him. This was the first time that he had ever met a pilot with this much skill in battle.

Lieutenant Belfangan Clouseau. What in the world was he?

Sousuke used some diversion fire and jumped in from behind.

The leaping power of the “Third Generation ASes” such as the Arbalest and M9s far exceeded that of previous models. If you put it on a human scale, it had the power to jump over a two-story house with ease. By adopting the joint structure of a grasshopper’s leg, it now surpassed the explosive acceleration capability of any kind of vehicle or aircraft.

However, Clouseau’s attacks were extremely persistent. The black M9 jumped up one beat later and went after the Arbalest in midair. It seemed as if they were going to collide like that, but then he caught hold of the Arbalest’s ankles and-

“!?”

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