The Major and the Automated Assassin Doll
Leidenschaftlich – upon hearing the name, people would say it was a military nation. Such was the kind of impression that his country gave off.
Said country was located at south of the continent. It was a maritime nation with its major cities set along the seacoast. The temperatures were mostly warm yearlong and snowfall was not common in winter. The main national interest were marine products and the natural resources surrounding the ocean, as well as utilizing them in foreign trading. Leiden, the capitol serving as a gateway to land from other continents, was known as a trade port.
There also were many countries which economy would not survive if trading ever stopped in Leidenschaftlich. That was why there were just as many threats from foreign enemies targeting his motherland. If one studied the country’s history, they would find it to be mostly recordings of battles against invaders. Countless soldiers of enemy nations coming either from the sea or from borders between other continents had died in front of its forts. It had been under the control of other countries numerous times as well.
In such occasions, every citizen was roused into driving off intruders and regaining their country. That could be considered the main quality and spirit of the people living in the nation called Leidenschaftlich. Due to many continuous conflicts, sharpening their defenses became a necessity. They would flexibly incorporate the cultures and weapons of other countries earned through trading and make use of them while incessantly improving them. Those experiences turned Leidenschaftlich into a military nation renowned in the whole continent.
Within Leidenschaftlich was a household that had existed since its foundation – Bougainvillea. It was a family which ancestors were worshiped as national heroes. Its beginning was marked by when the family head of the first generation, Ratchet, became a patriot devoted to the salvation of his country through driving a myriad of raiders away with his sword skills and military strategies, consequently saving many people.
Following the grandeur of their predecessors, it was tradition in the Bougainvillea family to have its children join the army as a matter of course, which had not changed even in current times, when the 26th generation ruled over the household. This story begins with a turning point in the life of Gilbert Bougainvillea, the family head of the 26th generation.
Gilbert Bougainvillea saw ‘it’ for the first time during a chance meeting after several years with his older brother, Dietfriet, in the most prestigious inn of the capitol city, Leiden.
Those who had the blood of Bougainvillea would be born with jet-black hair, emerald eyes, long limbs, thin waist and broad shoulders. Dietfriet grew his hair long like a woman and tied it with a ribbon, inappropriately wearing the standup collar of his white naval uniform wide open, displaying the gold necklace around his neck.
“Hey, Gil. Have you been well? As always, you have a depressingly serious face on. It’s just like Dad’s.”
On the other hand, despite being of the same bloodline, Gilbert was the opposite of his elder brother, who had a flirtatious air about him, in looks. His inky hair was carefully combed from his forehead to the back of his head and his irises were of a softer shade than his brother’s deep green, orbs glowing like a true emerald gemstone. Unlike his brother’s impartial expression, his was virile. His features resembled a marble sculpture, eyelashes so long they cast a shadow in their tendency of being half-closed. Perhaps the evaluation of those who looked at him objectively was on-point when it came to him being a beautiful man with a melancholic face.
Disapproving of his brother’s figure, he wore the quilted collar of his own uniform – a purplish black outfit paired with burgundy linen shoulder pads and a decorative accordion-pleats cloth glistening at his waist – diligently buttoned up to his neck. The stoic colors matched Gilbert’s persona rather well.
On the top floor of a 12-story high-rise building, in a room where the accommodation for one night was worth a month of an ordinary person’s salary, the two brothers tightly hugged and sat on a nearby sofa. There were people present besides them. They were the comrades Dietfriet had brought along as he visited his younger brother when stopping by Leiden. All of them drank and smoked at the bar counter set up in the exterior of each apartment. White smoke swirled around the ceiling.
“Brother is… the same as ever.” Gilbert commented, eyeing his older brother’s un-soldier-like figure, as well as the companions he led, who wore similar get-ups. He was outstanding presence in such midst.
“It’s vacation, y’know? Unlike the army, the navy becomes very liberal every time we come back to land.”
“Brother… you dress like that no matter if you’re in the sea or on land, don’t you? That hair… if Father saw this, he would definitely not have allowed it. He’d probably cut it with his saber.”
“That would be a hassle. It’s good that he died.”
Dietfriet intended to be lighthearted, but his younger brother did not let it slide. He gave the other a stern glance.
Perhaps due to being weak to receiving such a look from him, Dietfriet sighed. “Aah… my bad. He might’ve been a nice old man for you, but to me, he was the worst. That’s all.”
“Is that the sole reason why you didn’t come to his funeral and left me to take over the inheritances on my own?”
“It fits you better, doesn’t it? That household was never adequate for me, and I’m not cut to be the family head. Rather than let our brilliant bloodline’s honor be tainted by my poor skills simply because I’m the eldest, it’s better to have a suitable and righteous guy doing the job. Even for the sake of future descendants. Hey, Gil. Hasn’t it already been a long time? Just forgive me already. I don’t wanna keep being guilt-tripped during our entire reunion. I might’ve parted ways from the Bougainvillea house, but I wanna remain your brother. Let’s talk about something fun.”
As he was told so in rebuttal, Gilbert fell silent.
It was a general custom in the Bougainvillea family to join the army. Although the army and navy were defense organizations that served the same country and part of the military, they were separate entities. Each was conscious of the other and both were often hostile towards one another. The motive was mostly that the two had to share Leidenschaftlich’s military budget. Money and interest are causes of conflict regardless of the location or era.
In the history of the Bougainvillea family, Dietfriet had been the first to choose the navy over the army. Not only had he joined it, but also steadily carved a career path for himself in it. It was all due to his confidence in scoring achievements with his own efforts and talents, even without making use of his parents’ glory. Gilbert acknowledged that, which was why he could not help thinking that his brother was the one that actually should have succeeded.
“Since you’ve finally stopped by… how about paying Mom a visit? Please be our mediator together with me.”
Were his brother not bad at accepting reality, things would not have become so complicated.
“Our family is big, so if I went to see Mom, I’d have to greet our sisters, Grandmother and all the older relatives too, right? It would be a bother. I can clearly see myself yelling at them and leaving after they start their faultfinding.”
As Dietfriet laid on his back, legs loosely crossed, Gilbert let his shock show at the abusive language. “Aren’t we family? Can’t you make an effort to get along with them at least a little?”
“It’s exactly ‘cause we’re family that I wanna keep a distance… But you… I can actually be around you. It’s difficult with the others. Gilbert, I’m grateful. Our parents’ expectations were canalized to you because I joined the navy, and you’ve been accurately responding to them. Even I… understand that I’m not being told so often to come back home because you’ve been a good replacement for me. That’s why… I came in a hurry to the celebration of your promotion… since we’re brothers.” Even from his younger brother’s perspective, Dietfriet was very charismatic as he playfully smiled with his eyes closed.
Although Dietfriet had a self-centered and bossy personality, he had some sort of quality that drew others to him. He was always surrounded and respected by many people, never bashful of it. Since Gilbert could not love anyone due to being too stern, his elder brother had everything he lacked, to the point of making him infinitely envious as a fellow human being.
“That’s right, I brought something great for the party.” Dietfriet casually signaled with his hand to one of his friends close by.
As he did so, the man brought in his arms a hemp sack taken from a different room.
“This is the weapon I’ve been using lately but I’ll give it to you. With this, there’s no mistake that you’ll keep getting even higher promotions.”
The sack was carelessly placed on the oval table between the two of them. Dietfriet smirked stiffly as Gilbert noticed something moving from within the sack and immediately got up from the couch, firmly gripping the sword plugged to his belt.
“It’s okay. It’s okay, Gil. Calm down. It’s nothing strange. No, maybe it is crazy. Haha. It may be a bit difficult to handle and dangerous, but it’s well-behaved when you don’t give it orders. But don’t think of doing anything weird… since its looks aren’t bad. As far as I know, eight people tried to sneak into its bed and had their necks ripped. Its rough temper is troublesome. It doesn’t serve as a comforter.”
“Only… use it as a weapon. Don’t think of it as anything else. Don’t get attached to it. It’s a ‘weapon’. All right?”
“I’m asking… what’s inside.”
“Try opening it.” Dietfriet’s words sounded like an invitation from a devil.
Gilbert and moved his hands to unravel the cord tightly tied around the hemp sack that had once twitched. The person inside looked like a mermaid princess for a moment as the hemp sack lay at her waistline.
“We haven’t named it. We just call it ‘you’.”
‘It’ was a girl. Her sooty-colored clothes were scraped rags made out of poor leather and fur. A choker that somewhat reeked of subordination was fastened around her neck. A smell that seemed like a mixture of rain, wild animals and blood wafted from her body. Everything that enveloped her was dirty. However, rather than it simply being a slightly muddy child that needed to be cleaned up…
——It’s unthinkable… that she is from this world.
…she was too beautiful. Gilbert’s breathing halted at the girl’s figure. Her waist-long ashen hair shone brighter than any gold jewelry. On her face were too many scratches and grazes. Her blue eyes could be seen beneath the slits of her disarrayed locks.
Orbs that were not exactly the color of the sky nor the sea looked straight at Gilbert. The two stared at each other for a moment. Neither moved, as though time had frozen.
“Hey, give your greetings.” Dietfriet aggressively grabbed the girl’s head and forced her to bow down.
Upon seeing that, Gilbert quickly pulled away his brother’s hand and embraced the girl with his own two. She trembled in his arms.
“Don’t be violent with a child! Have you been trafficking people!?” While hugging her as if to protect her, no matter how one looked at it, Gilbert was enraged. His face of pure anger with a vein protruding on his forehead silenced the blithe conversation of the other men in the room.
Amongst them, only Dietfriet remained collected and with a neutral expression. “Don’t spout nonsense. I don’t need slaves. I do want warriors, though.”
“Then what is this girl?! What’s so amusing about offering me such a small infant?”
“Like I said… this isn’t a kid. It’s a ‘weapon’. I just told you that, didn’t I? You’re some pretty distrusting younger brother.”
Gilbert observed the girl. Apparently, she was about ten years old. Her finely-adorned face gave off a slightly adult-like impression, but her youthfulness was delated by her petite shoulders and hands. Just what in her was a weapon? She was but a child that could easily fit within one’s arms.
Gilbert’s wrath subsided, gradually supplanted by sadness. Not letting go of the girl, he glared at his brother and got up from his seat. “I’m taking her with me. Calling this… little one a weapon… I… don’t want to see you ever again.”
At those words, Dietfriet burst into laughter while holding his eyes. So did his comrades. Gilbert was shrouded in coarseness and disgust, as well as a bit of fear, while countless underlying laughs resonated in his ears. It was a bizarre atmosphere. He felt different from them in some way, though the feeling was not quite of alienation.
——It’s almost as if… I’m the one who is insane.
From the beginning, only Gilbert was dissimilar amongst them. Perverse as something could be, the opposing minority would be considered the one in the wrong if it accounted for the majority. The vast majority’s anomaly progressively encroached the minority’s normalcy.
“What is… so funny?”
Dietfriet slowly stood up, walked towards Gilbert’s side and tapped his shoulder. “Gil… I’m sorry for the bad explanation. Certainly, just by looking at it, anyone would have that kind of reaction. You’re a serious and nice guy, too. You won’t understand in one glimpse that this is a weapon. That’s why… I’ll show it to you in a practical way that will be easy to get. You come too.” Dietfriet told the girl.
Without delay, she smoothly escaped from Gilbert’s hands and followed after Dietfriet. However, she displayed a questioning attitude towards Gilbert for an instant. Whenever she moved, her blue eyes, which seemed to leave afterglows, invited people over with that single glance.
Gilbert hurried to get up again. What he was guided to was the next room, where the girl had come from in the hemp sack – a luxury bedroom.
It was only natural that there was more than one commodity; the problem was how the other was being used. The bed was pressed against the wall side, leaving a widely open space in the center. What lay in it were five more hemp sacks. Their size was big enough for adult males to fit into. Unlike the girl’s, they moved constantly in rampage. Faint sounds akin to cries of livestock, which merged with words that could not be discerned, leaked from them. Most likely, whoever was inside had been roped and gagged.
No matter the motive, treating humans in that manner was wrong. Those who could remain with composed expressions in such a situation were wicked, Gilbert thought. The contagious madness spread from the tips of his toes up to his throat, yet he somehow managed to muster out his voice, “Who… are they? Why are they tied up? Brother, explain what’s going on…” His heart buzzed sordidly, as if predicting the future.
“Ah, I gotta introduce these guys first, right? They’re filth that infiltrated our ship when we had stopped by a harbor.” Dietfriet gently kicked one of the sacks with polished leather shoes. “Guess they were looking for valuable stuff. They entered without examining the inner structure, ended up bumping into three cooks in the kitchen and killed them to keep their mouths shut. For us, who live in the sea, having satisfying meals is very important.” He raised his leg backwards and swung it low enough for the tip of his shoe to hit the sack.
Gilbert grimaced at the scream coming from inside.
“These guys… killed our best cooks, including the chef. How great do you think they had to be, given that they came abroad our ship to cook for us by our solicitation? You can’t pay them with the same amount that you’d buy a woman for one night. We, the navy, deal with the things that happen in each ship according to our own laws. Well, we’re on land right now, but… that happened in the ship, so this is valid. Now, I’ll show you something interesting… hey, get them out. Also, give them weapons.”
At Dietfriet’s command, the fellow men who had also come to the other room untied the hemp sacks one by one and let the thieves out. As the men released the ropes while pointing guns at the thieves, they handed knives over to each. The puzzled five had their lips curled down in fearsome expressions while asking, “What’s the meaning of this?”
Ignoring them, Dietfriet gestured exaggeratedly with his hand. “Now, this is the start of the world’s most mysterious and fascinating game. Gentleman… well, there are none here. No ladies, either. Then, you bastards! What I’m about to show you is the wild brat I found in an Eastern continent.”
Upon being pointed at, the girl stared at his fingertips with a face that seemed to not pose any emotions.
He continued, “I met this thing about a month ago when we completely butchered a shitty armed fleet that was plotting to destroy one of Leidenschaftlich’s maritime trading ports. On a certain night, in the middle of the battle, we were hit by a huge storm. It was a grave catastrophe where both our allies and our enemies sank into the coastal seas. It seems this was in the news. I didn’t know about it because I was drifting at the time.”
Gilbert was skeptical at not ever having been informed that his brother had narrowly avoided death, but had no chance to discuss the topic in the flow of the story.
“The ship stranded, and I and some of my comrades arrived at a deserted island that wasn’t marked in any map by using a small lifeboat. I found this on that very island. It was all alone, looking into the distance from the top of a big tree. Did its parents die? Did it suffer an accident in the sea like us? We still haven’t found out its identity.” Dietfriet confessed. “Its appearance isn’t half bad, right? In ten or so years, it could probably twist an entire country, but it’s still a brat. I have no interest in brats. I don’t… but there are people in this world who do. Some of my former subordinates loved that kind of stuff. They gleefully approached it and attempted to molest it on the spot. We had just been drifting a while prior, yet they were so energetic. That was appalling. I was super annoyed, and was about to tell them to not irritate me any more than that as I went to try stopping those morons, but…” Dietfriet grabbed the girl’s shoulders and brought her right in front of the thieves, her blue eyes seizing them. “…before I could do so, this thing killed my underlings.” He grabbed her pale arms from behind and hurtled them around the air. The motion was of a wild beast about to attack a prey.
The thieves laughed dryly at the girl being treated as a puppet and at Dietfriet’s short play. It was an expected reaction. Exactly what could that child do?
“With a stick that had been lying next to her feet, she stabbed one of them in the neck from the side, then stole a gun from his waist holster and shot him in the heart.”
Gilbert could notice from his brother’s expression that he was telling no joke.
“We all fled. There are numerous kinds of native peoples in this world. To think that we are the only strong ones is a mistake. If just one of their runts was that strong, how strong would an adult be? But no matter how much we ran, this thing hunted us down. It never got too close, but was also never far enough for us to lose it from sight. We went over the whole island. Our nerves were wrecked. I was exhausted and decided we had to do something, so I had my comrades ready their weapons and yelled, ‘Everyone, kill!’. I had… meant that we were going to kill it. Still…” Dietfriet went on with an icy face, “…in the next moment, this thing slaughtered everyone in that place except for me.” His way of speaking was of someone who obviously held a grudge. Dietfriet looked down at the girl with provoking eyes. “After that, I was pursued by this killer demon. It followed me around without leaving my side. It could have perfectly murdered me, but didn’t. Words didn’t work on it. While I couldn’t figure out how to talk to it, I slowly realized that it was the only inhabitant of that island. Have you any idea how frightening it is to have a killer demon glued to you? When my sanity was finally gone, I said, ‘just kill me’, and then that thing slew an animal hidden in the grass. That’s when I understood… that it had killed because I had ordered it to. Once I reckoned this, I did repeated experiments. For example, if I pointed to animals or insects and said ‘kill’, she would immediately do so like some sort of mechanical doll. Clearly, she would also exterminate people if told to. I don’t know why it chose me. Maybe it was okay with receiving orders from anyone, or might have just submitted to whom it perceived as the most influential person of the group it had encountered. This has little intelligence. It doesn’t speak any language, but can understand the order to massacre. It’s as if it doesn’t need to know anything else. Despite my worries, I let this be beside me as I survived and waited for rescue. I brought it home with me.”
In the meantime, the people standing by the room’s exit and center had scattered. Dietfriet pushed the girl towards the thieves after giving her a knife. It was too big for her hands.
“Brother.” While thinking that could not be happening, Gilbert rebuked, “Brother, don’t do anything stupid.” Knowing it would not be enough, he stretched an arm towards the two from behind.
Dietfriet smiled only with his lips, and then pointed at the thieves while nodding at the girl. “Kill.”
Gilbert was about to grab the girl’s tiny fingers, but in a second, her hand was gone.
The command’s execution was instantaneous. The girl jumped like a cat onto the nearest man with the knife in position, slashing his throat as cleanly as though cutting a fruit from a tree. From his neck, the ‘branch’, a large amount of blood burst out, and his head, the ‘fruit’, shook relentlessly.
She posed no hesitation to assassinate, and was fast to move on to the next action. Using the man’s body as a stepping-stone, the girl leaped and wrapped her bare legs around the neck of another thief, thrusting the knife into the crown of his head. Cries of deathly agony echoed in the room.
The girl then took the unused weapon from the second corpse and turned to face the remaining three people. The thieves, who had finally realized the seriousness of their circumstances, screamed and launched themselves at the girl. But she was quicker. Using her small body, she slipped past their feet and stabbed one after another from behind.
She was so light, yet the way she swung her arms with was so heavy. Her body was even more impressive than Gilbert’s, who had been trained in battle and martial techniques as well as wielding weaponry in the military. She looked as if she had no weight or center of gravity. Every time she flew around, fresh blood splashed along.
“Please stop… sto… stop…” the cornered last man implored for his life. He had completely lost the will to fight back, desperately pleading with trembling lips and a voice coated in fear, “I won’t ever do that again… I’ll compensate for my crimes… so please don’t kill me.”
Most likely, he was reminiscing to what the cooks had told him when finding themselves in the same situation, spitting out what he could remember. He then dropped his weapon to show no resistance.
The girl looked behind her shoulder while still clasping the bloody knife. She sought judgment.
Gilbert shouted, “Stop!”
“Do it.” at the same time, Dietfriet raised his thumb and motioned with it as if cutting his own neck.
The girl opened her mouth a little, showing reluctance. Her eyes darted between the two without settling on either. Seeing that, Dietfriet was perplexed for a moment, then started laughing. He seemed happy.
“Kill.” he ordered once again, still laughing.
The girl moved her arm while still gazing and Dietfriet, robbing the last man’s life. The series of murders took less than a minute altogether. Breathing heavily, she looked in their direction again. She did not speak, but her eyes inquired, “Is this enough?”
——What is this? Gilbert strongly asked himself. What? What on Earth is going on? He gulped lethargically. Is this reality?
“You got it, right? This, Gilbert… isn’t just a kid. Once you figure how to use it, it can become the best weapon in the world…”
He no longer doubted his brother’s words.
“But I’m scared of it.”
Even though she had just killed people, the girl simply stood there, apathetically awaiting further orders.
“It follows me all the time. It sticks with whoever gives it orders. It’s useful, but once I don’t need it anymore, I won’t be able to kill it. This is like an iron wall when it comes to its own protection. I want to use and discard it, but I can’t. This has a natural talent for carnage… no, for fighting. I’ll give it to you, Gilbert. Take it. Since it’s female, it might give some trouble during those days of the month, but if it’s you, you can pull it off, right?”
From his expression, Gilbert understood that Dietfriet was terrified of the girl from the bottom of his heart. Although he was smiling, it was strained.
“You’re definitely better fit for this too.”
The elder brother was pushing onto his younger one a living being that he could not handle by himself. It was for that reason he had called the latter over, with the excuse of celebrating his promotion.
“Hey… you’ll take her with you, right, Gilbert?”
Again, his heart made an unpleasant sound.
In the end, Gilbert took the girl with him. It was partly due to sympathy towards his confident brother, who had never claimed to be afraid of anything yet did have something he was fearful of. The rest was due to him deciding that nothing good would come out of leaving the girl with Dietfriet.
During the time of farewells, Dietfriet said to her, “Bye, monster. This is your new master.” Although he had never treated her like a human until the end, he gave her head a pat.
The girl remained silent, but turned to look back many times while being led by Gilbert, who held her hand. He put his military uniform’s jacket on the barefoot girl, took her in his arms and stood still in the middle of the street.
Even in the aftermath of such a huge incident, the city of Leiden was the same as ever. The scenery was bright enough to make one want to cover their eyes and wonder if it was not actually daytime. The butcher that had just happened had not been leaked to the outside world. The corpses would also most likely either be found at a completely different place or never be discovered at all. Gilbert knew that his brother was not one to take a matter of that sort lightly.
“Hey, don’t go thinking about leaving her in an orphanage or something like that. If it turns into a bloody murder site afterwards, it’ll have nothing to do with me.” The warning his brother had hammered into him like a nail replayed in his head.
After having witnessed the girl’s fighting style, he did not even cogitate letting her go anywhere his eyes could not reach. The child looking at him as if he were something enigmatic was nothing but an unfortunate orphan.
——In just one day, she killed five people.
How should he handle the little ‘killer demon’?
Gilbert seemed different from Dietfriet, but deep down, they were alike. Both viewed things objectively, determined exactly what was currently happening, and tried to deal with it in the best way. Even if they had a humane side to them of significant size, the equal amount of iciness was thanks to being part of the military.
He would not entrust her to anyone. What he should do with the girl he would never be able to neglect due to forgetfulness was obvious when he thought of her as a ‘weapon’ – he had to learn how to correctly ‘use’ her.
Leidenschaftlich was currently in conflict with many countries of the same continent and carried out war on expedition. Since the past, the reasons for clashes between fellow human beings varied from water and fuel to land and religion. All kinds of complex problems were included, but Leidenschaftlich’s main goal for participating the war was to prevent the monopoly plundering of maritime trade due to other countries’ invasions.
Wars between great countries were simply referred to as continental wars. The origin of the current continental war was that the North of the continent had moved towards the South and invaded its territory. It trespassed the South’s economic areas for poaching and illegal occupation. From the North’s viewpoint, that had been necessary.
For some time, many of the countries of both North and South had traded supplies and services with one another. The North, which lacked natural resources, depended too much on trading with the South. As the South realized that, the prices steadily rose. Once the North requested more reasonable fees, the South threatened to cease their mutual trading. Taking control of the opponent by economic domination had been an initiative from the South. In an irrational response, the indignant northern countries decided to take over the South. In cooperation with one another, they repeatedly invaded and destroyed it.
It would have been fine if the conflict were only between North and South, but a different one occurred at the same time – a holy war between East and West. The western and eastern countries had been originally founded as a single nation with one main religion. While revering the same God, differences in the ways of worship and interpretation of doctrine spread out, and so they were divided into West and East.
Although it was originally an east-western country, the West and the South formed an alliance, and the East, which had a strong friendship with the North, displayed a supportive approach in regards of the South’s invasion. The Northeast Alliance called for reconsideration of the South’s trade treaty and the surrender of the pilgrimage areas owned by the West. The Southwest League demanded compensation for aggression by military forces, thoroughly expressing their intention to resist. And so, the continent became enveloped in wars.
Amidst it all, Leidenschaftlich was the keystone to the southern countries. It was the number one trading country of the continent, as well as a military nation. If Leidenschaftlich fell, the South would decidedly lose and be ruled by the North. It just so happened that the South could be put to good use.
Neither could afford being defeated.
Leidenscahftlich counted with an interception unit for internal protection, a navy unit advancing overseas and the army (with the air forces being deployed in both army and navy), and ever since Gilbert had enlisted, he had been integrated in the army’s attacking unit. The relationship with the northern countries was worsening from the time he had joined. He was sent to the battlefield at the age of seventeen and fought in it for around eight years, returning to his motherland a few times a year.
It was only recently that Gilbert had been promoted to major in light of his wartime achievements and expectations from his bloodline. He was currently on temporary leave from the battlefield in order to complete ceremonial procedures, such as receiving an award for his promotion. Meeting the girl at such opportune moment could be considered destiny. It was the most appropriate time for him to grasp the chance of filling a higher-ranking position.
Gilbert decided to enlist her on a militant unit that he had been appointed to take overall command of in his promotion to major. The objective behind the establishment of said unit was to polish talents that would act as secret maneuvers, separately from the main forces, in the decisive battle against the northern countries, which would come at them eventually. It was an ideal place to raise the assassin soldier-like girl while keeping her at arm distance. Still, even if she were to become a member of his own troops, designating a girl not old enough to serve would never be allowed. There were also people who deemed it wrong to have children so close. For the approval of her enlistment, it was necessary to introduce her to the higher military authorities in the way Dietfriet had done with Gilbert.
It had been few days since he had filed a direct appeal to the chief supervisor. A permission to conduct private experiments at the training grounds as to whether the girl could really be a ‘weapon’ was granted to him. Gilbert himself was surprised that the case had passed, but the reason why the higher-ups had complied with the allegations of a young man who had just become major was courtesy of the appraisal he had accumulated. As he was the leader of an influential family, those who knew the man named Gilbert Bougainvillea were aware that he would not make such a proposal as a prank. The trust he had built had won in the end.
However, the brighter the light, the bigger the shadow.
On the day of the experiment, Gilbert and the girl found themselves in the training grounds of Leiden’s army base. It was an institution mainly used for training hand-to-hand combat techniques. As a whole, it had the shape of a rectangular, spacious box.
Gilbert had planned to show off the girl’s fighting abilities to a small number of people in private. Aside from killing, her physical abilities alone were astounding enough. However, when the time to put it to practice came, it was turned into a ‘spectacle’ rather than training.
“Those assassination hedonists…”
Dark curtains blocked the windows of the training room and a heavy, dirty large rug laid on the floor. Ten death row prisoners had been put in position. Amongst them were some who had committed post women violence and robbery murder. The one supposed to fight them was the girl alone. It was as though they meant to say that, if Gilbert’s suggestions were true, defeating ten violent criminals would be easy. Gilbert himself, as well as the Bougainvillea house, were part of the faction that thought badly of such evil testing mechanisms.
——Should I request a cancelation? Gilbert contemplated in resentment. No, but…
There was no other way of raising her while keeping her near him. He was a soldier, she was a killer, and for the sake of being able to live together with him, she had to assert her own existence and earn a place to belong. What good would come of hesitating at that point, he asked himself. If he ever took her to the battlefield, she would not have to face only ten enemies. Thousands of soldiers were allowed to slaughter by using war as excuse. The one who needed to reaffirm his resolution, Gilbert thought, was not the girl, but himself, in order to become her ‘user’.
While reflecting on that, Gilbert realized that the cufflink of his sleeve was being pulled. “What’s the matter?”
The girl was looking at him. As she was expressionless, he could not tell what she was thinking. She appeared to be simply observing the attitude of her new master with her huge blue eyes. It could be that she was concerned about him.
“Aah, I… am fine.” Although she supposedly did not understand words, Gilbert spoke to her gently.
Hearing the answer, she stopped moving for a moment, then pulled the cufflink again.
He felt she meant to say, “If you have any orders to give, please do”, and smiled bitterly at it. “It’s all right. More importantly…”
As he was called from behind, he turned around midsentence. “Hodgins.”
A man of the same age as Gilbert approached him with a carefree smile. Just by looking, he seemed like a good man who got along with women. He had a handsome face and droopy eyes, his chiseled features exceptionally masculine. His characteristic red hair had smooth waves. His military uniform was worn-out, an ornamental plaid cloth hanging from his belt. He gave off a completely different impression from Gilbert, who was clad in the same outfit but without any accessories.
“Dammit… I’m so happy! You were alive! It’s been a while. And on top of it, you’re being promoted to major!” The man named Hodgins continuously slapped Gilbert in the shoulder without ceremony.
Perhaps because his body weight was unbalanced, Gilbert plunged forward as if about to leap. “That hurts… don’t hit me.” was what he opened his mouth many times to say. Such was the relationship between the two old friends.
The girl watched Hodgins with a cautious stare, but as though concluding he had no ill intent towards her lord, she let go of the latter’s cufflink.
“My bad, my bad. I just returned from receiving a medal. While greeting everyone, I heard you were in an extreme situation, so I asked my superior, who I get along with, to let me come here. Have you been well? Are you eating properly? You don’t have a fiancée or anything of the sort yet, huh?”
“You can tell by looking, right?”
“That chilly attitude of yours… it’s been so long that I’m kind of finding it endearing, how weird… Then, in place of a bride, you ended up getting yourself only a daughter?” Hodgins averted his gaze from Gilbert to the girl. He then naturally crouched down to meet her eye level. “What would your name be?”
“This kid is quite the taciturn.”
“She… still doesn’t have a name. She’s an orphan with no education and doesn’t understand words.” Gilbert explained while unwittingly turning to the opposite direction. For some reason, he was hurt by his own words.
“You… that’s terrible. She’s so pretty. Just pick a name worthy of her. Right?” Hodgins asked, but as expected, the girl did not react.
He could almost hear ticking of a calculator coming from her blue eyes. It was as if she had isolated a target but was doing some sort of analysis as to what kind of existence she would deem him to be.
“I’ll get embarrassed if you keep staring at me like that… hey, Gilbert, I heard about your circumstances, but are you okay?”
Hodgins stood up after wiping dust off his knee. As he was taller than Gilbert, the latter had to look upward. “I think there’s still time to take it back. Are you really gonna let this child into a killing spree? It seems the higher-ups are looking forward to it, but I wouldn’t stand for a future beauty to be massacred so cruelly.”
“I’m not worried about that. Hodgins, it’s about time for us to go to the bleachers.”
Facing the girl who only observed without taking part in the conversation, Gilbert opened his mouth, “You can… do it, right?”
It was a pointless question. She could not answer. However, Gilbert could not remain without a confirmation.
“You… are going to overcome it. This situation.” As he regarded the girl, his resolve was shaken. His friend’s words also increased his sense of guilt. Yet he would swallow all of it down and grab onto a future where he could live with her.
——From the moment I embraced you, our destinies intertwined.
Gilbert believed she had to assert her own near-impossible existence.
“I’ll be watching upstairs.”
Leaving the girl with the training referee, Gilbert sat on one of the bleachers closest to the ceiling. Hodgins sat next to him as if it were the obvious thing to do. As he pulled out a cigarette and asked “want one?”, Gilbert took it mutely. With the cigarette between his lips, he used the tip of Hodgins’s own to light it.
“It’s been a while since I smoked.”
“You were with a kid, after all! It’s hard to smoke around them.”
“She seems used to it, but coughs occasionally. Seeing her like that, I couldn’t smoke anymore.”
Hodgins’s eyes narrowed kindly at Gilbert’s profile. “Gilbert, were you always this type of guy? You’ve gone really soft. How about buying a house? It might be unexpectedly fitting for you.”
“Are you recommending that even though you have no intention to get married?”
“I’m a philanthropic, so I can’t get caught onto one person! Ah, I’ll ask again… does that child really have as much potential for battle as you alleged to the higher-ups?”
“Of course.” Gilbert had no concerns in that regard.
“Hey, don’t reply so quickly.”
“Even I surely can’t win against that girl. Same for you. Though it would be a different story if both of you were unarmed.”
“That’s a lie, right? There’s no way I could lose. Just saying it, but although I may be nice with women, I don’t hold back if they’re enemies.”
“Your resolution isn’t the problem. She is a genius…”
Hodgins leaned forward on the bleacher and observed the girl below. The man serving as supervisor was handing weapons over to her. Guns, swords, bows – they were apparently of free choice depending on preference. After a moment of indecision, she picked a small axe. Next was a knife and a one-handed mechanical bow.
Laughter spread in the place at her figure as she selected more than two weapons of different handling. However, as she equipped the mechanical bow onto one arm without reluctance and fired a trial shot, the room fell dead quiet. Subsequently, a noisy wave of whispers ensued.
“The stronger the weapon, the better.”
Everyone was starting to realize the whimsicalness of that beautiful creature little by little.
Gilbert had explained to the supervising officer that she would only move if ordered to ‘kill’. He had also received orders from his superiors stating that the one to play such role would be the referee, claiming that was for the sake of checking if it was not actually just a trick.
——There are no tricks or anything, but if that will make her strength acknowledged, we’ll have to comply.
The shackles on the prisoners’ feet were cut off with sabers. They were given batons. Their precision rate and power was unlike that of the axe, but those were not people who would falter before a child for wielding it. On top of that, it was an all-against-one match. Even if she had chosen a gun, she would be killed if she ran out of bullets, so in the end, it would be the same as if she let the axe slip from her hands.
“Huuh, then… who are you betting on?”
“I mean in the wager. About who will win. After hearing what you said, I bet on that Little Lady. By the way, we’re wagering with cigs. Goods are more valuable than money right now.”
“Do as you want. And I don’t have any.”
“Aight, then I’ll lend it to you. You, too, should bet five on that girl. If we win, we get the triple of that. If we lose, treat me to a meal. With drinks.”
“I don’t need cigarettes.”
“Gilbert-boy, we’re using cigs to get our hands on other stuff. Like information or goods more expensive. If things go well, buy that girl actual clothes. Those primitive garments might be easy to move around with, but they’re not cute in the slightest.” Hodgins argued at his own convenience and left his seat.
Gilbert could not even call it surprising. Hodgins was the exact kind of man to bet on a child right after having said he would not stand to see her die.
By the time he returned, the bleachers were almost fully occupied. As the soldiers watched, the referee made his move. There was no one to clarify the meaning or origin of the occurring experiment; he merely required Gilbert for consent, to which the latter nodded.
After directing the girl and prisoners to opposing ends of the training ground, the referee said in a loud tone, “Now, commence.”
Wrapped in a hushed heat, the killing spree began. The prisoners grinned while staring at the girl. None moved immediately in attempt to kill her. Their bodies had been freed after a long time. They probably thought it would be boring to end things so easily. Meanwhile, the girl was completely immobile, even as she was commanded to ‘kill’ by the supervisor. Like a figurine, she stood still while holding the axe.
“So it really was a lie? We’ve been made to attend to something so pathetic…” Some bantered without caring about Gilbert hearing it.
“There’s no way that child can win against adults. Just take it back already. Poor thing.” Some murmured on behalf of the girl.
“The Bougainvilleas sure have fallen. To think he’d try to attract attention with a farce…” At such critical moment, some even spoke ill of the power retained by Gilbert’s family.
“What a waste of our time.” The surrounding soldiers talked raucously amongst each other.
“Hey, Gilbert.” Hodgins called out to him in apprehension, yet Gilbert remained quiet without outwardly displaying nervousness.
——Why won’t she move?
Gilbert observed the girl. She gripped the axe tightly. There was no way she had no will to attack.
——Back then, too, she was holding onto those weapons without hesitation. She also has no signs of being afraid. Some sort of cue is missing. But if that’s not the order, then, what is it?
While he reasoned, the biggest man of the group stepped out of line to charge at the girl, extensively swinging the baton and laughing. Although he was at a certain distance, the girl did not budge.
“Hey, Gilbert! She’ll be killed like that!”
With a twitch, the girl reacted to Hodgins’s scream-like voice, looking up at the bleachers. Her blue orbs found Gilbert’s green ones amidst the many other soldiers.
“Gilbert, go stop them! Hey!”
Their gazes merged and, for a second, Gilbert had the feeling their heartbeats were also in sync. Thump, thump, thump. He could feel the disturbing sound of his own heart resonate in his ears.
For some reason, time was running sluggishly. Hodgins was too noisy on his side. The higher-ups cursed the girl with inappropriate words. He could hear them, yet it was as if they were in a slow-motion video.
In his eyes, the prisoner approached the girl in a languid pace. The space between them was closing. In that immediate mortal peril, she looked only at Gilbert. No matter how many times the referee gave the order, her eyes reflected no one but him.
——She staring at… her chosen one.
In response to that, Gilbert recited the magic word, “Kill.”
He spoke in a volume that only the few people around him would have been able to hear, yet it had definitely reached the girl. The sound of the axe cutting the wind as it twirled soon followed.
The wooden axe’s blade was of about fifteen centimeters in length. The lethal weapon was released from the girl’s hand, flying into the air. It was flung after being held aloft from behind, continuously rotating in beautiful arcs.
The girl’s throw had been much too casual. She went for the kill without wavering, moving extremely smoothly and having no doubts as of what to do to defend herself from the looming adversary.
“Ah…” a moronic yet pitiful yelp escaped the prisoner’s lips.
At the same time, the people in the audience gasped with jaws dropped.
“AAA-AH… AAAA-AAAH… AAAAAA-AH, AAH, AAAAAAH!”
The axe had landed into his forehead. Glittering blood ran down from the injury.
“AAAAAAAAAAAHH! UH… AH… AUUAAAAAAAAH, AAAAH, AAAAAAAAAAAAH—AAH… AH, AAAH… AH, AH, AH!”
Immediately, the girl aimed the mechanical bow and shot an iron arrow. It perfectly hit the handle of the axe stuck in the prisoner’s head. With the impact of the arrow, the blade was buried further into his cranium. The prisoner continued screaming until he collapsed backwards with an agonized, painful expression.
All chatter ceased.
Without paying the crowd any mind, the girl moved her petite feet in the direction of the convulsing prisoner, aiming the bow towards his torso and firing another arrow as she drew closer. It was a ruthless, precise, mechanical murder. The iron arrow pierced his chest and took his life away for good.
The girl retrieved the axe from the corpse and swung it lightly downwards, the blood and fat on the blade splashed onto the floor. She also seemed familiar with the successive pattern of collecting the iron arrows and repositioning them. Although her frame was of a young child when she stood still, her image was that of a skilled hunter when she moved.
No one had foreseen that the rug laid on the training ground would be stained with the prisoners’ blood. But from then on, that place would be covered in it. A girl soldier who would engrave her name in the history of Leidenschaftlich’s army was about to be born. As the spectators fearfully embraced that premonition, their stares focused on Gilbert.
He stood up, leaning his body against the security rail. Once more, he gave the order, yelling on top of his lungs, “Kill!!”
The girl moved like an automated doll. She sped up, her small body progressively lowering. Again, she threw the axe, still glistening with blood, into the vital point of one of them.
The prisoners then separated into those who scattered off and those who charged at her wielding their batons in spite of being overwhelmed. The ones that ran away were shot merciless and repeatedly in the head by the arrows. The brave ones cooperated with one another and surrounded the girl. It seemed they planned to corner her and beat her to death. They attacked in unison, trying to steal her weapons.
But that scheme was a mistake.
In the meantime that the girl could not be seen through the gaps between their bodies, the prisoners screamed and rolled onto the floor. Their ankles had been hit, and it was not a random attack – she stabbed and slashed them over and over. Such tactic could be executed due to the girl’s effective flexibility. Her figure as she stood with the knife in hand in the middle of the fallen ones was horrifyingly extraordinary, like a fairy conceived from petals of blood.
As a prisoner attempted to escape while dragging his feet, she rushed to grab his head from behind and tear his throat with the knife, silently ending his life. Her hand movements were similar to that of a chef decapitating fish and chickens. She then turned to the prisoners waiting to be dismantled, murdering them one by one. In the process, the knife eventually became unusable and she could not kill with anything except the batons.
“No! No! No!”
“She’s a monster! Help us! Hey, please help us!”
One baton was used and discarded per person. The faces of the prisoners were seamlessly turned into caved-in depressions. Gradually, even some of the soldiers on the bleachers, accustomed as they were to seeing dead bodies in the battlefield, started vomiting and turning their eyes away from the atrocity. However, Gilbert watched it all. Firmly gripping his sword and suppressing his emotions, he kept his eyes wide open until the end.
The one originally meant to serve as bait for such a homicidal game had been the girl. However, he had also not wished for her to be the only one breathing in the end. After all the prisoners had been killed, had they been insufficient as the girl stared straight at referee who watched everything while holding a gun?
The frightened referee pointed the gun at her, but whether he could kill her or not was debatable. Whatever weapon was used to confront her, the chances of winning were slim. She was absolute. Her fighting techniques using multiple weapons compensated for her lesser physical power. Her outstanding skills were superior to brute strength.
Where had she learned all of that and what did she use to do? Even if she could talk, one could not hope for a decent answer.
Her assassination techniques made clear that she had a gift for conquering things through butcher. Not even being outnumbered was an issue. The audience of that ‘show’ was enraptured by her and could not help but applaud her wonderful talent. She was a prodigy. If any gods that controlled death existed, surely she was dearly loved by them.
The little killer who had obeyed the commands of her lord directed her gaze at Gilbert. Blue and green eyes met.
“Stop.” He shook his head at the girl. As he did so, she dropped the baton she had been holding and knelt down on the spot.
Seated on the pool of blood, the girl breathed profoundly. Even as she was sultry with blood and fat, her figure as she inhaled and exhaled with such small lips was but that of a child. It only added up to her fearsomeness.
Hodgins had previously felt dreadful towards Gilbert, as the latter had been too nonchalant, but was a little relieved to see that his profile was pale, fist trembling from his own grip. Hodgins was the kind of simpleton who would try to act as a tease in such a situation, but since his own hands were trembling as well, he settled for slapping Gilbert’s back. “This is quite a discovery, Major Gilbert.”
Gilbert did not reply to the light-hearted compliment.
He had come to realize two things with the ‘experiment’. One was that the girl had an unparalleled strength and was truly a monster. The other was that she would most likely only listen to his orders.
The girl’s deed had stirred Leidenschaftlich’s army.
Later on, Gilbert received an internal command. The direct superior informed him that a new troop had been established for him to lead as captain-major. As originally arranged, the attacking unit was named the Leidenschaftlich Army’s Special Offense Force. Gilbert was required to guide said unit towards the upcoming final battle. Additionally, there was one more thing he was expected to do – to improve a secret weapon not included in the documents that listed the troop’s constituting soldiers.
Leidenschaftlich certified her existence as armament, not a person. Her user was Gilbert Bougainvillea. There was no registered name. In actuality, the attacking unit had been created for her sake.
The day was over in a flash as the various preparations and correspondences for the launching of the team were dealt with. Gilbert formally greeted her as a subordinate, and though she had been forbidden to go close to the front gates, she was allowed to walk around the headquarters. Despite not being registered as a human, she was the one who would always be by his side from then on.
In accordance to Hodgins’s words, he somehow managed to persuade a frightened female officer into taking care of the girl’s daily necessities. She who had her hair cut and was dressed in a brand-new military uniform became famous within the head offices, and there were those who went as far as going to Gilbert’s dorm room to see her. If they were in lower positions than himself, they would leave with a single shout, but he could not do anything reckless when it came to superior officers. There were many who would stare at the girl with perverted eyes as well, which would cause him to sigh multiple times a day.
——I’m doing something terrible.
It was certain that the girl was different from normal human beings, as well as that she was alarmingly strong and could slaughter several people in a row. However, it was also certain that she was a ‘young girl’. No matter how many had perished by her hands, she was only a small child, and the reason why she did not speak was that no one had taught her how to.
——If she’s a monster, is it really all right to use her like this? Is it all right to utilize her as a weapon? Although it was something Gilbert himself had started, he inwardly wavered. Still, in what kind of other place could I leave this child?
It was a realistic problem, but he ignored the pain of his conscience and pushed it to the back of his mind. If there was anything he could do, he believed it was to turn her into a great soldier. After all, she was a heaven-sent warrior child who sought his orders.
The departure ceremony was completed. On the night before the dispatch day, Gilbert decided to talk to the girl about his feelings at the dormitory.
Her figure just before going to sleep, wearing a negligee, was unbearably adorable. Her loose golden hair was as soft as a touch of silk. From the next day on, it would be stained in the color of blood again.
He had her sit on the bed, kneeling down on the floor to meet her eye level. “Listen. Starting tomorrow, you’re going to the battlefield with me. I’ll be borrowing your strength. Surely, you don’t yet understand why you have to be doing this, or why… you’re with me after parting ways with my brother.”
The girl merely listened to Gilbert’s words.
“You don’t know anything. You know nothing except how to fight. I am making use of this. That’s why you, too, should make an effort to use me. Anything is fine. Gold, positions of power… steal from me anything you might want. Become able to think of all sorts of things. You see, I… can’t protect you in any other way. I actually want to bestow you with parents to raise you appropriately. But I can’t.” Gilbert admitted painfully. “I am… scared… of you killing someone without my knowledge. I want you… to understand why that terrifies me so. It’s fine if it takes time. Even if just a little, please embrace my values. If you do that, you should be able to become something more than a ‘tool’, which is what you’re being treated as right now. Please find a place to belong by my side and live on.” He spoke desperately with his hands rested on her thin shoulders. She did not understand what he was saying anyways, but even while being aware of that, having no other method to earnestly transmit his feelings, Gilbert went on, smiling in slight distress at the girl who continued to not say anything, “I’ve decided… to call you Violet. Refer to yourself as that. It’s the name of a mythological flower goddess. Surely, when you grow up… you’ll become a woman worthy of it. Understand, Violet? Do not be a ‘tool’; be ‘Violet’. Become a girl fitting of that name.”
The girl – Violet – stared dazedly at the man calling her name, blinking several times. While doing so, although she was supposed to not know how to speak, for some reason, she nodded slowly and opened her mouth, “Major.”
Gilbert’s eyes widened in astonishment at the whisper that leaked from her lips. “You can use words?” His heart raced to the point of aching. The words he spoke in the countless days he spent conversing with her flashed through his mind instantly.
“Do you understand what I’m saying, Violet?” he asked, somewhat happy despite being anxious.
“Major.” No matter how much he inquired, she would not say anything else. Then, pointing at herself, she repeated, “Major.”
“Wrong, you are Violet.” Taking her tiny index finger, he alternately pointed at her and himself a number of times. “The major is… me. You are Violet. Get it? I am Major. You are Violet.”
“That’s right. You’re Violet.”
“Y-Yes. I am… I am… the major.”
Why had she suddenly started talking? Why was his honorific the first word she uttered? Had she learned that he was called ‘Major’ from hearing someone refer to him as such? Had she felt that he was trying to give her a name and decided to confirm his? Only she knew the answers to such questions. In the end, she still could not say anything besides ‘major’ and ‘Violet’.
Excessively saddened, Gilbert lay his head on her shoulder and sighed. She simply let him do so. Ignoring him as his head hung sloppily, she continued to whisper, “Major.” It was an attempt at memorizing it, as to never forget the word.
In-between her golden bangs, her blue eyes slowly opened.
Sounds of subsequent explosions echoed in the surroundings. The sky was a sunny azure, but from the eyes of the birds above, only a vehement firefight could be seen. In an inhabited plain that was almost a desert, the unit was divided into two factions, working on their offense and defense.
The owner of the blue eyes was a woman terribly mismatched for a land of war. With a beauty akin to that of a doll, her all-too-refined complexion was not seen as anything but unattainable for ordinary people. Her whole body was covered in dirt as she lay flat on her back over the soil, staring at the man agitatedly watching her and muttering, “Major… for how long… have I been unconscious?” The voice mustered from her red lips had a sweet ring to it.
“Not even a full minute. You just had a minor brain concussion because of an explosion’s impact. Are you all right? Don’t force yourself to stand up.” The one who replied was a man of huge emerald orbs. His battle uniform was made of grass-green fabric and white fur. He had handsome facial traits that harmonized with his gloomy expression.
The young woman immediately sat up, regardless of being told otherwise, and confirmed the situation. In the frontlines were soldiers who wore the same military uniforms, forming a protective barrier in the camp to block gunshots. Behind them was a gigantic hole with numerous corpses distributed around it. Combat medics were everywhere, but not many survivors were expected. On the other side of the allies’ barrier, beyond the blowing dust of the enemy grounds, a large-caliber gun, which had created the mountain of dead bodies ahead, was positioned out of sight. It had probably recoiled backwards due to the bombardment and did not show signs of moving anytime soon.
“Major, I will cross to the other camp, cause a disturbance and break their balance first-thing. Then I will bring down their cannon. Since it’s so huge, it should take time to reload. Please give me aid.” As soon as a she said so, the young woman lifted the battle-axe that she had been holding even as she had lost consciousness.
While sabers, guns and cannons were mainstream, the battle-axe was a classic weapon. It was menacing at close-range fights, but would be nothing but a disadvantage against a distant opponent. To compensate for that, the long-handle axe wielded by the young woman was enormous. The total length was probably more than her height.
The so-called ‘Major’ had an agonized expression for a moment, but immediately raised his voice and gave orders, “Violet will stop the cannonballs! Front vanguard, protect her from where you are! Rear vanguard, back Violet up and get rid of whoever interferes!”
The soldiers behind the ma