As she looked back using a counter-movement with a positive adjustment in the X axis and a slight negative adjustment in the Z axis directly opposite the sun, the city, located in the negative Y axis behind Thumborino, took a direct hit and was destroyed.
It’s both accurate and inaccurate to say that impacts do not propagate in space.
This feeling was what separated those who could feel the vacuum of space on their bare skin and those who couldn’t.
Thumborino analyzed the situation for a few nanoseconds as the sensors on her back picked up the shockwave of a large mass disintegrating.
Not long after, Thumborino was surrounded by debris, rubble, sand, and gravel.
She didn’t bother to use her boosters to avoid the debris, instead dodging the larger pieces and kicking away the smaller ones.
Cardinal Noid Thumborino was a Link Joker Cyberoid.
In the skies of Planet Brandt, low gravity maneuvers were necessary. Even in that environment, where normal humans would have to don a space suit and swim lazily around, Thumborino was able to perform calculations at a speed that would fry most spaceship processors, allowing her to move gracefully through the air.
“0.1 seconds to rendezvous with the shadow.”
Thumborino’s lips started moving in the near vacuum of that region of space. However, as the processing analysis and commands were already taken care of by C7ISR*, this was just out of habit, a trait that came out of being built to be more human.
She used a sensor mounted on her eyeball to scan all EM wavelengths from microwaves to cosmic rays. In total the scan took 0.03 seconds to complete.
Thumborino, along with the shadows approaching her from both sides, set their boosters to full so they could move in the negative Y axis, or to put it another way, move to the right.
For just a moment the shadows were unable to keep up with her maneuver and silently disappeared.
“Gravity wave detected. Alert has been broadcast.”
“Clear. First shot successfully evaded. Initiating counterattack.”
The quantum nature of this type of communication meant that the information was being shared by Thumborino and HQ simultaneously, no matter the distance between them.
Thumborino switched into a fighting stance.
Shadows gathered at her fingertip, which she silently pointed ahead of her.
A figure somewhat like the upper half of a humanoid figure was floating in a vortex even darker than the pitch blackness of space.
Thumborino motioned as though she were pulling a trigger and the Shadow Army rushed to the location that she was pointing at.
There was a rush of energy there that created a huge amount of light and heat.
To most it would have looked like a giant fireball, but Thumborino’s array of sensors allowed her to look at it in more detail.
This definitely worked in her favor.
The Shadow Army that had attacked the still unseen enemy suddenly disappeared. They were shadow beings created solely to fight and conquer their enemies, making them far more effective than standard cyberoids.
The many cubes surrounding the area stirred into action and formed a circle. It was almost as if the shadows were responding to Thumborino’s moving lips. This was the attack formation.
Thumborino brought her hands together and shrugged.
The A.R.K cubes responded to Thumborino’s command and formed a wall.
The wall was hit with a blast about as big as the one that had just destroyed the city on the surface of Planet Brandt.
It was an attack unlike those that had come before—a killing blow.
However, the A.R.K cubes, a relic originally found on Planet Brandt, were able to withstand it.
“Enemy is using gravity-based weaponry.”
Thumborino used the results from the sensor data’s analysis to ascertain the identity of her enemy.
Gravity bomb, charges that create a localized gravity well, wasn’t the official name for such weapons, but ever since Thumborino started using that term the rest of C7ISR adopted it.
“They are also invisible…”
That made it difficult to avoid, and almost impossible to capture.
A tough enemy indeed.
Or it would be, without the A.R.K cubes.
“Concentrate fire on my line of sight.”
Thumborino’s sensors were able to detect more than EM radiation. They were designed to cope with all kinds of phenomena.
The swarm of A.R.K cubes started gathering energy.
She didn’t hesitate for a moment as she gave them the order.
The A.R.K cubes all released their energy at once, shining brightly on Thumborino as she focused on the invisible enemy.
Again, despite the lack of sound, she had a sense that something massive had been destroyed.
Thumborino was trying to observe how space was distorted when her invisible enemy created the wells of intense gravity.
“Understood. Confirming results. Return to base.”
Thumborino turned her back to the sun and headed along the negative X axis toward Planet Brandt.
Something that most definitely wasn’t debris hit her from behind. Of course, even a metallic object wouldn’t have been a problem for a Cyberoid like Thumborino.
She reached out.
It was a toy, the sort of deformed robot that a boy might play with.
It must have been kicked up from the surface after the enemy’s attack on the city.
According to the memories that Thumborino had access to through Link Joker, this was a model of a type of robot used in the sport known as “Nova Grappler” that was popular throughout the galaxy, but especially on Planet Cray.
Thumborino had only stopped for a few seconds.
But for her, those seconds stretched into an eternity.
Thumborino finally restarted her thrusters and made for the surface of the planet.
Her descent trajectory made a gentle curve through the skies.
Then, as she passed over a city that had been long abandoned, she let go of the toy and let it fall slowly down.
The Cardinals called the space where they fought their otherworldly foes “night.”
They called it that because it was an infinite darkness that appeared to exist in the world that people went to when they dreamed.
Why Cardinal Noid Thumborino did what she did was a mystery, even compared to other Link Jokers, who at the best of times were incomprehensible to other races.
Was she returning a memory to that ruined city?
Or was it simply a gesture, laying a flower on a site that time itself forgot about thousands of years ago?
Whatever the case may be, she had successfully fought yet another battle that no living soul would ever know about. A peaceful night fell once more on Planet Cray’s second moon of Brandt.
* C7ISR: The space military system used by the nation of Brandt Gate. Abbreviation of “Cosmic, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber Defense and Combat Systems and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.”
* All units of measurement and military terminology have been localized to earth equivalents.
<<Notes about Terminology>>
Cardinals and Cyberoids
Cyberoids were generally humanoid cybernetic organisms created by Link Joker. They were the first line of defense for the nation of Brandt Gate against otherworldly and interstellar threats.
In the 25th Century, by Planet Cray’s reckoning, they were still in use on the frontlines of the war against other worlds, the war having been ongoing since the godless era. Their calm, mechanical minds that were capable of processing information at speeds that no human could match, and their mysterious weapons like the A.R.K and Shadow Armies were invaluable on the battlefield.
Similar to other Link Joker members they had been fully accepted and assimilated into the populations on Planet Cray and the planetoid called Brandt, often known as the second moon. As evidence of this, they regularly went out in public without a visor, allowing their faces to be seen. However, because they so closely resembled humans, their mechanical speech and the fact that they could engage in extravehicular activity without a spacesuit often surprised anyone who saw them.
Cardinals and the “Night”
See “Cardinal” in the World Column – Selseera’s Library of Secret Records
Supervising Editor: 中村聡