The Strong Mechanical Woman
The large, boulder like face of a Reptrace appeared though the communication crystal.
“The prophecy remains. The surge will strike at the previously marked land. We must make haste; release the falcons and sharpen the arrowheads.”
He spoke with the strange manner and hard to understand pronunciation characteristic to the Reptrace. One not used to it would have a difficult time grasping the meaning of his message, which, when translated to plain language, went something like this:
“There have been no changes in the prediction. The attack will be carried out at the previously anticipated place and time. We must hurry to prepare the battlefield and our weapons.”
“… ah, got it. Or, actually, I already knew,” responded Naigrat, trying to suppress the anger boiling up inside her head. If the enemy’s movements were all going according to plan, that meant her’s would too. Can’t you find a way to do this without using those ‘arrowheads’!? Her mouth felt like it would move on its own and scream that if she let her guard down even a little.
So Naigrat locked up all of her emotions inside and, in one corner of her brain, created a new self. One that could always choose the best option without hesitation and act without being swayed by weak emotions. A mechanical self that she could force to do all the talking.
“Three days from now, at the eighth hour, I will dispatch three out of five current Dug Weapon users to the harbor district, fully armed.”
You guys are soldiers aren’t you!? Putting yourself out there on the front lines prepared for death is part of your job, isn’t it!? Then why do none of you die!? Why are our girls always the only sacrifices!?
“One of the three, fairy soldier Kutori Nota Seniolis, will open the gate to the fairy homeland during the mission.”
I don’t believe that you’re doing your best! I won’t recognize it! Fight harder! Think harder! Find another way to fight! Save our children!
“The other two, fairy soldiers Aiseia Myse Valgalis and Nephren Ruq Insania, will stand by as reserves. If the battle is not resolved after Seniolis opens the gate, they will go in armed with Dug Weapons at the discretion of those present at the scene.”
They still don’t know what it’s like to be in love. They’ve never known any true happiness. Yet why… why must they go so soon?
“The aforementioned ‘arrowheads’ will be supplied to the Winged Guard by the Orlandri Trading Company’s 4th Warehouse.”
… why can’t we take their place?
But Naigrat already knew the answer to that. Fully grown fairies have the capability to wield immense power. So of course, the superiors in the army knew well the advantages of using them as sacrifices in battle. Not swayed by emotion like her, they probably understood the necessity much better.
Yet the sacrificial nature of the weapons meant that they had to be prepared to suffer permanent losses in order to even have a chance at victory. Still, there could be no replacements for the fairies. Anything else would be like pouring a measly cup of water onto a raging inferno threatening to swallow an entire island. Even though Naigrat might have been feared among the locals as a troll, in the end she was just that: a mere troll. She couldn’t protect a single thing she wanted to protect or take a single thing she wanted to take. Naigrat knew. She knew all too well.
With a snap, the transmission coming through the communication crystal got cut off. And with it, the emotions bottled inside her also snapped.
“Agghhhh!!!” Naigrat howled in agony. “Why!? Why why why!?!?” Facing up at the ceiling, she simply screamed out all the frustration as it came to her.
That mechanical self she created in the corner of her brain? She threw that disgusting thing in the trash can and shredded it to bits.
“Why… why… “
The surge of emotions began to dry up, and her screams turned into quiet sobs. Large teardrops flooded her eyes before dropping down to her knees, staining her skirt.
Naigrat had once decided to be a strong woman. One that the girls could comfortably rely on for support. One that could be the next best thing to the mother that the girls never had. Or, at least, one that could act that way.
That day, she vowed to herself. No matter what happened, she must not cry. The girls were the ones who truly needed to cry, the ones that truly felt afraid. So Naigrat needed to be there to stop those tears. No matter how frustrated she got or how much she had to suppress her feelings, she needed to be able to support the girls with a smile.
I was an idiot… how could I possibly do that? How could I ever stop their tears if I can’t even stop my own?
The failure of a strong woman wailed like a baby. No one was there to comfort her. No one would stop her tears. So she cried, and cried, and cried, with no end in sight.
“Coming in! Emergency business!”
“Naigrat, are you in here?”
It all happened very suddenly. The door flung open with such force that she thought it might break, and three little fairies popped into the room. Fortunately, she still sat facing the communication crystal, so only her back was visible from the door. If she could just hold back her tears for a little, the girls wouldn’t see her in this miserable state.
“H-Hey, at least knock before entering a room.” She scolded them quietly while still facing away, trying to hide the trembling in her voice.
“Don’t got time for that! This is emergency business!”
“Come quick! We really need to hurry!”
“If we don’t go now, they might really die!”
Die? Oh… are they talking about that? If they were talking about Kutori, then of course Naigrat already knew. But that wasn’t for another three days. Kutori, as the oldest fairy, always tried to act all grown up, but inside she was really still a kid. A spoiled child at heart who refused to act like one, and also…
“Willem looks like he’s going to die!”
… huh? Die? Willem? One by one, the words reached her brain, which had been numbed from all the crying. She simply sat and processed the information for a few seconds, then…
“What in the world happened!?” she screamed and grabbed a medicine box and dashed out of the room.