Overwatch Surveillance Formation

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「All troops, move out!」

At Rick’s command, the tank squad quickly picked up speed and began advancing.

The tanks exited the abandoned ruins of a Defense Dome one after another, immediately followed by armored vehicles and Silhouettes.

The slower Silhouettes latched onto the armored vehicles via wire and were towed by the latter to facilitate a faster advance.

At the tail end of the convoy were six hangar carriers.
One of them was owned by Kou and the others, three from Metal Iris, and two from Storm Hound.

It was an extremely rare sight for a force this large to get deployed.
Humanity had already been forced on the defensive by the enemy after all.

「The recon team sent a report back.
The enemy’s defense forces haven’t made any noticeable movements.」

「I see.
Commence invasion via the designated route.」

Under the precise orders of the reliable large breed dog-type Familiar serving as the main commander of the operation, the combined troops of the two Underground Forces continued their speedy advance.

Since it was possible to advance akin to crawling within the range of hills en route to their target, it would be preferable to take a hull-down position.
The hull-down position was a tactic that made use of the undulations of slopes and hills to hide almost all of a combat vehicle’s body aside from its turret in order to protect it from enemy fire.

They wanted to take advantage of the terrain as much as possible as they proceeded with the invasion.

「Lead unit and the rear unit, form up.
We’re going on overwatch duty, Jenny.」

「Roger!」

Overwatch.
It was a military surveillance tactic.

The tank unit is divided into a lead unit and a rear unit that can monitor each other’s positions and cover for each other.

By mutually monitoring the terrain surrounding them, blind spots can be eliminated and surprise attacks can be prevented.

They were the invading force.
No amount of caution would be enough when setting up a surprise attack.

Their main objective was nestled within Fortress Area X463.

It was one of the Fortress Areas that were simultaneously occupied by the Murders sent by the Stones at the onset of their invasion.

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And now, they played roles as important frontline bases for the Stones.

「Kou, can I talk to you for a bit?」

Jenny called Kou through the comms.

「What’s up?」

Kou thought that Jenny was acting a bit weird since yesterday.
She seemed like she was hiding something to Kou, but it didn’t look like she would share what it is with him anytime soon.

He did surmise that it probably had something to do with Ashia.

「It’s about the place we’re heading to.
The weapons employed by the Stones aren’t the only ones there.
There’s also an Underground Force.」

「So, they’re working for the Stones?」

「Yes.
There’s a good chance someone from a peaceful country like you would find it hard to fight against them.」

Kou thought about it a little before responding.

「……Thank you.
But I’ll probably be okay.
Besides, there are no Familiars working for the Stones anyway.」

「You sure like Familiars a lot! But still, don’t push yourself too much.
Just focus on rescuing Ashia.」

「I’ll ask for assistance once it gets really dangerous.」

「Good.
Well then, let’s both do our best!」

Jenny gave one last cheerful encouragement before cutting the transmission.

It’s not like Kou hadn’t anticipated he would be fighting against fellow humans someday.

Of course, he did feel fear and might even feel some regret after all’s said and done.
But that’s where the support functions of the Silhouette would come in handy.

He asked himself if he could go in for the kill.

And he came to the conclusion that, yes, he could.

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That’s because he’d been swinging his sword in preparation for a day he thought wouldn’t even come.

「The recon team sent a new report.
They’ve spotted Murders.
We expected it anyway, of course, but it looks like we already got noticed.」

「The enemy defense forces would be making their move as well, I suppose.」

「We both can’t use radars.
We’re gonna engage in combat without knowing the exact number of each other’s forces.」

Rick and Jenny checked with each other to confirm their next move.

「There will be no change to the operation.
We will continue approaching the enemy Fortress Area using the alternate route.
We will then be laying a siege to capture the city center.」

「You don’t see a tank unit of this magnitude very often, so I hope the enemy Underground Force gets shaken even a little.」

「It would be great if that were the case.
Since Ashia is sealed within the area, their defenses should be pretty tough.」

「Right.」

「I’ve got some bad news though.
It looks like the shelter destroyed by Enyo when they captured the place has been completely rebuilt.」

「They actually fixed it up? It looks like they really do place a lot of importance on that base.」

「Kou’s target destination is located deep within the Fortress Area.
Though we already expected their response to some extent, it’s still a bit troublesome after all.」

If the shelter protecting a Fortress Area that was created during the Interplanetary War era or the Planetary Pioneering era gets destroyed, it would a huge amount of effort to restore it.

If only one section of it is damaged, then the Stones could have opted not to use that section alone.

A typical Fortress Area has a radius of several tens of kilometers after all.

Kou and the others had the data pertaining to the destroyed section on hand and were planning to take advantage of it.
However, now that it’s been repaired, they were faced with a completely sealed-up enemy fortress.

They were hoping they could use the damaged section as an intrusion route, but now, that faint hope had shattered.

「So we have no choice but to have the engineer squad do their best huh.」

The outer wall that was reinforced with Whis projected from the A-Carbuncle had a strength that was incomparable to mere Silhouettes and combat vehicles.

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It was originally created as a countermeasure against falling large meteorites after all.

They have, of course, prepared Silhouettes with combat engineering capabilities.

No matter how thick and tough it was, it was still an unmoving structure.
If they had enough time, they could eventually secure a path for Silhouettes to pass through.

Of course, Jenny had not neglected preparing such countermeasures.
She had already sent out an engineering team in advance to secure Kou’s infiltration route.

「Can I leave that to you? I’ll handle the main battlefield.」

「Of course!」

The weapons and equipment of their combined force were quite diverse.

In addition to tanks, armored combat vehicles, and Silhouettes, they also had armored vehicle-launched bridges, and armored trailers filled with ammunition.

It was a combined arms force that employed various military units for different combat situations.

The humanoid giants called Silhouettes definitely contributed greatly to the reduction of the labor force needed for operations.

「Come to think of it, Kou did mention that he prepared something that can be used to infiltrate the enemy fortress just in case.」

Jenny remembered Kou mentioning such a thing, so she decided to call Kou again to ask about it.

「Hey Voy, it looks like you might have a turn in the spotlight after all.
It seems the shelter has been repaired.」

「Heck yeah! Let’s do this.」

Kou, who just finished talking to Jenny via comms, contacted Voy to inform him about the situation.

Voy was inside their hangar carrier.

Unit 5 was already moving in concert with Jenny and the rest of her men.
They formed a Silhouette unit.

「I’m still feeling against it though.」

「You worry about us far too much, Kou.」

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「Jenny’s combat engineer squad is already on the move.
Let’s have them give it a go first.」

「Sure! Well, I understand your feeling of not wanting to acknowledge the fact that the first prototype weapon you ever built was that thing, but that thing’s slow as heck y’see.
So I gotta deploy as soon as it’s ready or we won’t make it in time.」

「Alright, I understand.」

「You’re really into this nyaa, aren’t ya, Voy……?」

Nyanta was exasperated due to Voy’s obvious excitement.
Voy was the type who longed to go out to the battlefield.

And there’s the fact that he made the prototype weapon together with Kou as well.

「I’m jealous.
I could ride on the back seat as Kou’s support if I could just ride a Silhouette.」

「I can.
Be his support.」

「You absolutely can’t, okay?」

Kou chided the jealous Aki and Aimer who expressed her desire to ride on Unit 5’s back seat.

「Since Voy will be going out to the field, I’ll be counting on you guys to take care of me and Unit 5 instead.」

「Yes.
I will definitely take good care of you, Kou! I won’t hand this job over to anyone else!」

Aki replied enthusiastically as her dog ears cutely flapped up and down.

「I’ll be counting on your support as well, Aimer.」

「Yes.」

Aimer honestly nodded back in reply.

Voy didn’t hide his joy as he proceeded to board a suspicious vehicle hidden at the back of the hangar carrier’s hangar.

「Now then.
Let’s go.
The battle will start before this day ends.」

Kou and his comrades renewed their determination to see things through once more.

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