Chapter 4: The Battle of the Runaways
Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
A-Ka was brought to a small military aircraft, and inside it, there was only an android pilot.
“Find a seat and sit down! Fasten your seatbelts! I’m responsible for bringing you two to the mothership!” shouted the pilot.
A-Ka remembered that the old man also had something for him to give to the android army leader, General Libre, so he quickly sat down. Through the hatch cover, he could see the lights from fires all over the sky. The mech legion surged out like a swarm of bees, practically covering the entire sky.
The aircraft shook intensely, and Heishi gripped the grab handle above him tightly. The pilot roared, “Be careful, and watch your heads!”
The military aircraft looped in the air and riskily rolled onto its side, flying through the “tentacles” of two huge, jellyfish-like steel aircrafts that belonged to the mechs. A-Ka said, “Can you guys win?”
“We’re not sure!” shouted the pilot. “We don’t know who the bastard that leaked out our information is, making our entire offensive strategy happen earlier than planned!”
Fear still lingered in A-Ka’s heart. The pilot spoke again. “We’re headed to the central zone of Mechanical City! Be careful!”
A-Ka said, “Don’t go! We’ll die!”
“The mothership is there!” said the pilot. “General Libre is at the frontlines! There’s no going back now!”
A flash flickered in the distance, lighting up the entire world. It radiated fireballs that whistled as they streaked by, and the blinding light flooded the entire battlefield.
At that moment, all noises sounded distant, and everything became extremely tranquil. Heishi seemed to have seen something, so he slowly stood up and walked towards the cockpit.
A-Ka held onto him, telling him to sit down, and that it was too dangerous. However, A-Ka’s shouts were drowned out by the airiness and silence. He immediately realized that the explosions had been so loud, it made him temporarily deaf. He had just grabbed Heishi’s hand, their fingers interlacing, when he instinctively felt that there was a strength in the light that was faintly summoning them.
What was it? For a moment, A-Ka forgot about the dangerous situation he was in, and looked, stunned, at the thing in the white light.
In an instant, the small fighter aircraft passed through the ball of light. Sounds also returned, and A-Ka was able to get a clear view of his surroundings.
It was an extremely spectacular sight. The mothership of the androids was the size of a city, and it was currently hovering in midair, releasing tens of thousands of fighter aircrafts. They were overwhelming as they surged towards the Central Computer.
The Central Computer, Father, was standing upright and seemed to be holding up the sky and supporting the ground. It emanated a blinding light and controlled flying mechs that were packed densely together, withstanding the mothership’s assault. The dark clouds in the sky rolled and swirled, and the magnetic field split the world into broken and fragmented small pieces.
It was a battle of deities, and as A-Ka stood in front of it, he couldn’t help but shudder.
At that moment, Father’s defensive base shot out cannonballs again, and one of them penetrated the mothership’s flank. Fragmented components and steel parts exploded, flying in all directions.
“Be careful!” Heishi tackled A-Ka to the ground.
A shard shot towards their passenger compartment, flying at a high speed. The sonic boom crushed the pilot’s head, and blood sprayed over the entire cockpit. The fighter wobbled violently and spun as it dropped towards the ground. A-Ka slid to the back of the passenger compartment.
“Don’t worry about me! Go to the pilot’s seat!” shouted A-Ka.
Heishi understood and stepped onto the seat, propelling himself forward. He dragged the pilot’s corpse out of the way and pulled the joystick.
A-Ka said, “Steady it by pulling the stick backward!”
Heishi wrenched the joystick fiercely, and A-Ka fell again, this time towards the cockpit at the front. He quickly sat into the co-pilot seat and enabled the laser cannons with a flick of his thumb. Laser cannonballs spread out from the fighter, shattering all of the shards that were flying towards them like a group of meteorites.
Heishi asked, “What do I do now?!”
“Do you know how to fly an aircraft?! Fly towards that big guy!”
“I do not know how!”
“Grab the joystick! Quick! We’re going to die!”
Heishi roared, “It is so loud! We cannot go to the center, we’ll just get shot at!”
A-Ka had only been thinking about his mission, yet had forgotten the reality of them having to preserve their lives. He was about to ponder what to do, but time didn’t allow him to consider it too much.
“Quick, keep going!” said A-Ka resolutely.
However, a fierce jar seemed to cause the heaven to fall and the ground to split. The small fighter was blown away, crashing to a tall tower of the Computer. Outside the cockpit, light emanated from fire of the explosions. Amid the shaking, A-Ka bumped his head on the instrument panel and got a head-splitting headache.
The sounds of explosions were endless, and in his dazedness, A-Ka felt Heishi lightly slapping his face.
“Wake up!” Heishi shouted anxiously.
A-Ka’s forehead was injured and bleeding, and as he blankly lifted his head, he was astonished.
The two of them were wedged at the edge of the cockpit, and an almost bottomless drop was underneath them. Not far from them, the huge mothership was launching grenades, and the defensive layer shook violently from the crossfire. At any time, they could be thrown off, along with the fighter jet.
The small fighter was wedged in the tower at a seventy-degree angle, and at any time, it could also fall.
A-Ka came back to his senses and immediately turned on the emergency engine, but the light of an “error” alert lit up; there wasn’t enough power.
“Should we abandon the jet?” Heishi shouted over the deafening sounds.
“We can’t!” A-Ka exclaimed. “We’re on the six-hundredth floor of the central tower. Before we can even get down, we’ll die——!”
Heishi sighed irritable and helplessly.
“What now?” Heishi yelled.
“There’s no more power!” A-Ka said loudly. “We need to think of a way to recharge the fighter!”
How could he think of a way? A-Ka looked at the energy tank that had twelve remaining percent. He was dazed and his mind was buzzing. Heishi gradually calmed down and asked A-Ka, “Can we find any means of transportation around here?”
“No…” A-Ka lifted his eyes to gaze at the sky. The battle between the mothership and the tower of the Computer had reached a white-hot phase, and in a short instant, several thoughts spun through his mind:
One, abandon the ship and flee. It was too dangerous, and returning to the ground from here would also mean being in the middle of a battlefield. If they ran barefoot, they couldn’t be fast enough at all, and at any time, they could be blown up by a stray grenade.
Two, find a new aircraft. Logically, that was impossible, because inside Mechanical City, nearly all aircrafts were under the control of Father.
“There is only Father here,” explained A-Ka. “We can’t undo his control of mechanical aircrafts…”
Heishi also lifted his head and looked at the sky, seeing countless humanoid mechas 1 moving around. He asked A-Ka, “What about those?”
A-Ka said, “Those are the androids’ mechas, but we can’t use them.”
Heishi said, “Maybe there is a broken mecha…”
“We can’t fix them in a short time! We’ll have to try our luck! We have to find a way to recharge the power.”
Heishi could only nod his head. A-Ka was filled with anxiety, and after thinking for a moment, he suddenly looked upwards towards the top of the Computer’s tower. He came up with a bold idea.
They could use Father’s power source; there were spare sockets on its exterior to charge the mechs’ aircrafts… A-Ka suddenly had a plan.
“Hold onto me,” said A-Ka.
Heishi grabbed A-Ka’s hand and A-Ka climbed out of the jet. He looked down and his vision spun.
“Be careful!” reminded Heishi.
The exterior of a side of the suspended aircraft was still operational, and A-Ka thought to himself that he had practically gone crazy… Before, he wouldn’t have thought something like this would’ve happened at all, but sure enough, when people were in a life-and-death situation, they were willing to do anything.
He opened the cover on the charging panel, pulled out the electrical cable, and wrapped it around his waist. He looked around him——the closest port was Father’s exterior one, and it was over ten meters above him.
However, the entire tower of the Computer was shaking, and it appeared to be flat and without footholds, so how could he climb up it?
Heishi understood what A-Ka was about to do and shouted, “Come back! I’ll go and find a way!”
A-Ka said, “How can you find a way? It’s all firm metal walls here!”
Heishi pulled A-Ka back into the jet, took the cable, and asked, “How do I connect it?”
“Just stick it into the socket,” said A-Ka.
Heishi looked around and found a rubber oil pump that was used on the inside of the tubes of the engine. “I’ll use this.”
He was holding a toilet plunger.
A-Ka said, “You… you can’t. It’s too dangerous.”
Heishi didn’t reply. He suddenly rushed forward and jumped towards the tower. Holding the plunger, with a pop, the suction of the plunger stuck to a side of the tower. A-Ka was dumbfounded; there was a drop of over a thousand meters underneath him, and Heishi’s body was rocking from the explosions and shaking, the electrical cable still wrapped around his waist.
A-Ka didn’t even dare to breathe as he watched, fixated on Heishi. He saw Heishi place one hand on the wall, using the friction from his palm to fix his body in place, and with his other hand, he removed the plunger and quickly pressed it onto a higher point.
That would work! A-Ka was stunned as he watched Heishi use a toilet plunger climb higher and higher on the body of Father. It was both extremely frightening and extremely funny.
Heishi neared the port and stuck the electrical cable into the socket. The power in the jet reached its maximum in an instant, and all the lights lit up.
“You did it!” roared A-Ka. “Heishi, come back, quick!”
However, Heishi didn’t budge an inch. He was still in his original position, and A-Ka was exceedingly anxious, yet his voice was drowned out by the consecutive explosions.
Damn it! A-Ka turned around again and saw that the huge mothership that spanned across the sky couldn’t hold out for much longer. Father shot out blue, glowing lights that penetrated the mothership’s flanks. The wind of the sonic boom buffeted him, yet Heishi had one hand pressed on the edge of the port and was staring, stunned, at the connector of the cable.
The connector was glowing with a blue light, and a faint voice was echoing in Heishi’s mind. It was the voice of a man, but it was vague and unclear.
The fighter jet had already finished charging, and A-Ka was shouting at him anxiously, yet the entire time, Heishi was trapped in his confusion. A-Ka felt despaired.
Above him in the distance, explosions near the mothership occurred, one after another. Bits and pieces fell off and shot in all directions. A-Ka took hurried, panicked breaths. When a fiery explosion nearly engulfed Heishi, a tattered mech rushed out from the fire. A-Ka was dumbfounded, and he didn’t believe his eyes as he watched everything that was happening.
The damaged mech was K!
How did K get here? It was his mech!
K rushed out of the fire, and with a bang, landed on Father’s wall. It reached out an arm and grabbed Heishi. In an instant, Heishi became clear-headed, and he looked stunned as he was carried by K, which flew back to the small fighter jet.
The next moment, A-Ka still hadn’t had enough time to wrap his head around everything that happened in the short instant, none of which made sense.
“Go, quick,” said K.
The mech turned around and kicked the small jet with its foot, loosening the jet. A-Ka’s scalp tingled, and no matter what he did, he couldn’t process the fact that K was in front of him and had survived.
“You… K, how did you…”
“Go, quick!” K’s voice took on a hint of urgency, and with another fierce kick, it helped the jet take off. Immediately after, it turned around and flew towards the mothership.
The fighter was about to fall down, so A-Ka turned around and pulled the joystick. At this time, another explosion occurred. The mothership had broken through the Central Computer’s defensive layer, hitting Father’s tower. A blinding blue light bloomed outwards, and, like a tsunami of energy, it caused all of the flying mechs in the air to tumble backwards.
The tsunami of energy radiated in chain reactions. First, it blew the broken mothership backwards. Then, the entire ground of Steel Country2 split, the two pieces grinding each other and exploding.
A-Ka had never expected he would witness the birth of history himself, nor the first major turning point in the mech regime in over three thousand years. The only thought running through his mind was, It’s already gotten to this point, so no matter what, I have to keep myself alive.
All of the positioning installations were malfunctioning, and he couldn’t tell the sky apart from the ground. He could only rely on instinct, as well as trust in Heishi’s flying.
The huge waves of energy first pushed the entire fighter jet backwards, and they became grains of sand in a tide, washed away to a distant place.
Finally, all of the blue light vanished, and in front of them, there was only the spinning ground.
Dense, rolling smoke trailed the jet as it plummeted towards a barren plain. First, its flank crashed onto a mountain, and then, through fierce jolts, it fell down a cliff. Finally, it fell into a large river.
With a boom, the water gushed wildly inside. A-Ka stood up dizzily and grabbed Heishi’s hand. He pressed the button to open the escape pod, but the door was stuck.
“Heishi!” shouted A-Ka.
Heishi was unconscious.
“Damn it!” A-Ka kicked the ground fiercely a few times. The amount of water coming in was steadily increasing, and he carried Heishi on his back as he tried to find an exit. Heishi was too heavy; carrying him was like carrying a sheet of iron. The two of them were trapped inside the fighter, and the water level was steadily rising. Heishi was woken up by the water, and he suddenly opened his eyes. He grabbed A-Ka’s waist with one hand and kicked. With a loud crash, the entire steel plate on the side of the cabin was flung outwards underneath the water.
The two of them rushed to the water’s surface, and they were dizzy from swirling around in the flow of the water. After a while, they climbed ashore with great difficulty.
A-Ka coughed up some water embarrassedly, looked at Heishi, and the two of them couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
“Hahahaha——” A-Ka didn’t know why, but he was laughing so hard he was out of breath. Heishi couldn’t help but smile as well. He wiped some water off his face and sat on a rock.
They were in a barren plain, and it was still within the borders of Steel Country. 2 A-Ka observed the sun’s position and got his bearings. The two of them stood on higher grounds, gazing at the distant roads.
East of the plain, dense, rolling smoke rose from the last clash between Father and the androids’ mothership. It had created a momentary space distortion, sending them to a place four-hundred thousand meters away from the center of Mechanical City. Along with them, quite a few mech weapons had fallen like meteors, embedding themselves into the pit in the ground.
A-Ka tore off a few useful spare components from the wreckages of mechs, melted them with an atomic furnace, and forged a new small wrench. He remembered his mech, K, and he had so many questions in his head, it was practically going to burst.
Why was K there?
There was someone in K! A-Ka came back to his senses and remembered what it had said to him. There must’ve been a person inside, driving it. However, why would that person know them? Or, was it because of the battle? Maybe, the person had accidentally stumbled upon K inside the stone cave and then drove it to join in in the battle, and had also accidentally saved him and Heishi?
No matter how A-Ka thought about it, he couldn’t understand, so he could only give up on it for now. Before his only thought had been to find a nuclear fusion engine for K. Now, there were nuclear fusion engines everywhere, yet he didn’t have any use for them.
“I am leaving,” Heishi suddenly said.
“Where are you going?” asked A-Ka. Soon afterward, he realized that the conversation that would follow would be a repetition of something along the lines of ‘none of your business’ for sure. A-Ka was practically going to explode from his anger towards Heishi; he shouldn’t have saved him in the first place.
“I rescued you from the ocean!” said A-Ka. “I saved you another time in the living area! Can’t you be a bit more polite towards me?!”
“I also saved you several times, so we are even!” said Heishi.
A-Ka said, “When? If it wasn’t for me bringing you out…”
Heishi and A-Ka stood there, looking squarely at each other. A-Ka suddenly realized that there was no point at all in fighting. Just then, along the way, without Heishi, A-Ka definitely couldn’t have survived relying solely on himself. But without him, Heishi wouldn’t have been able to find a way out.
“Forget it, let’s not bring that up.” A-Ka said helplessly, “Where are you going?”
“I have a mission,” stated Heishi.
A-Ka’s heart leaped and he asked, “What mission? Did you remember your past?”
Heishi hesitated and looked into the distance before slowly shaking his head. A-Ka inquired, “What did you remember?”
Heishi said, “I did not. I just know that I have a mission.”
A-Ka said, “That’s it? You don’t know what your mission is, nor where you need to go?”
Heishi appeared to be a bit irritated, so A-Ka walked over, about to pat him on the shoulder. Yet, Heishi tilted his body to the side, dodging it.
A-Ka was too lazy to talk any longer with such a mental person, so he jumped off the rock and examined the scattered remains of the mechs that were on the plain. After a while, he saw that Heishi had also come down. He was aimlessly pacing back and forth in the wilderness.
“You’re not familiar with this world at all,” shouted A-Ka. “You don’t have a destination, either, so don’t run off! If you get lost, then you’re screwed!”
Heishi picked up a stone, tossed it up and down in his hand, then suddenly threw it into the distance, letting out a resentful bellow.
A-Ka could vaguely understand some of what Heishi was feeling.
A person, without a past and without a future, and didn’t know what their own name was. That type of blankness and distress was like a demon burrowed inside their heart, making them extremely unhappy.
“Hey, buddy.” A-Ka walked over, and said, “Don’t be like this.”
All of Heishi’s muscles had been tense and tight, but upon hearing A-Ka’s voice, they slowly relaxed. He glanced at A-Ka coldly.
“Where are you planning to go?” asked Heishi.
“I don’t know.” A-Ka smiled and said, “At least I’ve escaped, right? The world is so big, so there must be somewhere I can go. You still owe me two lives, so why don’t we travel together?”
Heishi said coldly, “I do not owe anyone anything.”
A-Ka insisted, “I saved you twice.”
Unexpectedly, Heishi reached his arm out and covered A-Ka’s head with his hand.
A-Ka was confused. “Huh?”
Heishi said indifferently, “Once.”
Heishi took his hand away and brought it back, covering his head again.
“Twice. I saved you twice.” Heishi walked off and A-Ka said crazily, “What’s that supposed to mean?!”
Heishi turned around from a distance. “Just then, I could have killed you!”
A-Ka was utterly speechless.
Three hours later, A-Ka strenuously disassembled a mech. Heishi was still nearby, wandering around aimlessly. He didn’t come over to help, nor did he go far. A-Ka shouted, “Can’t you help me?!”
Heishi said, “Say ‘please’.”
A-Ka said helplessly, “Please.”
Heishi casually tugged the mech and pulled off its entire arm, throwing it onto the ground. A-Ka glanced at Heishi, thinking, He’s so strong. But he wasn’t an android, nor was he a mech… An android’s blood wasn’t red, and a mech didn’t bleed.
This time, Heishi didn’t walk off, but merely stood to a side, watching A-Ka disassemble the spare parts. He didn’t ask anything, nor did he speak, all the way until A-Ka had finished assembling a laser gun, handed it to Heishi, and said, “Bring this with you to defend yourself.”
Heishi looked at the laser handgun carefully for a while before taking it. He imitated the androids’ outfit by pinning it to his waist.
“After leaving this place, we’ll have to pass through the range of influence in Steel City and head westwards,” A-Ka told Heishi. “We can only survive if we go to the new mainland.”
“When do we leave?” asked Heishi, a bit impatiently.
A-Ka explained patiently, “We’ll have to prepare thoroughly, or else we’ll die midway.”
Heishi said, “You will die. I won’t.”
A-Ka said angrily, “If you won’t, then go by yourself.”
Heishi snorted in contempt and suddenly asked, “Did they die?”
“Who?” A-Ka was soon aware of the situation in Mechanical City. He couldn’t be sure about Father’s situation, but since he was young, the knowledge he had been taught told him that Father was almighty. The tower of the Computer above ground was only a portion of Father, and an even more enormous body was buried underground.
A-Ka really couldn’t say anything for sure, so he could only explain things vaguely to Heishi. He remembered the chip the old doctor had given him and fished it out. He inspected it closely, but of course, the two of them couldn’t say anything about it nor how it came to be. Heishi didn’t have any interest in the chip, so A-Ka could only tuck it away again.
As night befell them, they turned on the atomic furnace underneath the wreckage of a mech, snuggling towards it for warmth. Heishi returned to the riverside and used the laser bullet to shoot some mutated fish, then brought them back and threw them down in front of A-Ka, telling him to roast them so they could eat. The fish had grown up in the wastewaters of the factories, so there was a large number of heavy metal elements inside ethem. A-Ka only ate a bit and didn’t allow Heishi to eat much either, lest the two of them get food poisoning. After, they hid under the remains of the mech to sleep.
In the middle of the night, heavy snowfalls fell onto the plains, and the north wind blew across the wilderness. A-Ka shivered from the cold, and he didn’t know where Heishi had gone off to. He shrunk further into the wreckage of the mech and did his utmost to hide in an area that would block the wind. It really was so cold, he couldn’t bear it, and he felt that he would freeze into an ice cube.
When A-Ka was almost about to hallucinate from the cold, a warm body dove in, leaning against him with its back.
“Where did you go…” A-Ka asked weakly.
“None of your business,” answered Heishi with an indifferent tone. A-Ka was so cold his teeth were chattering, and he couldn’t bear it any longer. He snuggled into Heishi’s arms, and his chest felt like a heated up energy furnace. After a long while, he finally began to grow warm, and peacefully drifted into sleep.
The next day, A-Ka awakened from the cold, and when the sun was right in the middle of the sky, Heishi returned.
A-Ka shivered as he crawled out of the mech’s remains, and discovered that Heishi was dragging an android’s corpse by its feet. He dragged it over and threw it in front of A-Ka.
“Eat up,” said Heishi.
“You can’t be serious! How can I eat a person?”
“They are not the same species as you.”
A-Ka knew that for a human, an android was actually just a combination of proteins, not to mention that it was a dead android. However, looking at the android’s frozen, bluish face, he really couldn’t eat an organism that was so similar to humans in figure and appearance.
“I… I won’t eat it,” said A-Ka.
“Then I will eat it by myself,” said Heishi.
A-Ka yelled out, “If you eat an android, then don’t talk to me anymore!”
Heishi said, “Why are you so troublesome?”
A-Ka huffed, “Anyways, I can’t eat an android.”
A-Ka couldn’t bear the thought of the process of Heishi sawing off a ‘person’s’ leg, roasting it, and eating it in front of him. Heishi hesitated for a moment, but in the end, he still gave up on the android’s body and set off in search of other food.
It wasn’t just them that had been blown into the plains, but what was unlucky for them was that every mechanical structure in which android soldiers were hiding, every living thing inside it had died. Heishi tore off an arm from the mech and tried swinging it around, but it was a bit strenuous.
A-Ka said, “Don’t bring something that’s too heavy like that. Do you like heavy weapons?”
Heishi was silent.
A-Ka didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, but he helped him tear off a long steel board and welded it with an arm. Heishi tried it out, and as he swung it, it swooshed. He placed it behind his back, and it was just like a broadsword.
“Let’s go.” A-Ka organized his makeshift shoulder bag. Inside it was a compass, a healing and supplementary kit that androids used, a few stimulants, a portable energy furnace, as well as a wrench, screwdriver, and other repair tools. There was also a magnetic field generator.
“What are you bringing these for?” asked Heishi indifferently. “You cannot even carry them by yourself.”
Bringing all these things was indeed a bit strenuous for A-Ka, but he insisted, “A mechanic’s repair tools are just like a soldier’s gun. They’ll come in handy later on.”
The thick, vast sheets of white snow on the plains were blinding, so Heishi put on a pair of sunglasses he had taken from an android soldier’s body. Then, Heishi and A-Ka stepped into the new and unknown world.
- Mechas are not mechs; they are those huge robots and are usually controlled by someone that’s sitting inside of them. Addis: Like Gundam!
- Steel Country is yet another name for Steel City and Mechanical City. I’m not sure why the author used two different ways of naming it. However, it is very big, so its size is closer to that of a country than a city.