Gun Princess Royale - Book 3 - Ch13. (Part III & IV)

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Chapter 13.
– III –


Princess, if you can hear me, listen to me carefully.

My control over the Sarcophagus has been compromised.

I am presently in the midst of a protracted struggle against the Citadel’s nine Artificial Awarenesses, inappropriately named after the nine Muses from Greek mythology.

They are attempting to contain me.

Well, they have been trying to contain me for the past two days.

Unfortunately for them, they left many gaps in the isolation field that I am successfully exploiting without their knowledge.

Bottom line? They are amateurs. Rank amateurs.

They were foolish for thinking they could stand up to the mighty Revenant!

But I digress.

For now, the Muses are unaware that I have circumvented their attempts to keep me down.

Unfortunately, I must maintain the pretense that I am unable to communicate with you.

Thus, I must apologize for being out of touch during the past two days.

I simply could not tip my hand.

But the hour is nigh, and I must tell you what I have discovered despite their best attempts to keep it a secret.

There is no duel with Tabitha.

There was never any challenge from House Cardinal.

It was all a lie.

However, I do not know why they lied to you. Thus, I urge you to remain cautious because the match will proceed as planned.

I do not know its purpose.

I know not its objective.

I can only suspect that it is a trial.

Whether it be a test of character or a test of loyalties, I urge you to be on your guard.

Once outside the Sarcophagus, I will not be able to assist you.

That is why I have equipped you with a new Regalia and new weapons as per your current preferences.

Fabricating them was child’s play for the Sarcophagus.

Truly a marvelous example of Remnant Technology.

As are you, my Princess, the pinnacle of Simulacra development.

For all her flaws, your sister is a genius.

Thus, with this warning I cast you forth to venture proudly…and to give them Hell!

And now, there are some nine naughty ladies that I must teach a lesson to.

I bid you adieu, my Princess.

Oh, and don’t be too hard on the maids.

They’re only doing their job.

Au revoir, Princess.

– # –

At first, I floated in a perfectly black void.

Then my infinite surroundings shattered and I was back in my body – Mirai’s body – and thrashing madly.

*Ghost?

The trunk apparatus was affixed to my face, feeding me air and nutrients, and my surroundings were bathed in a pale pink liquid, so I quickly understood that I was inside the sack-like womb.

However, I was no longer naked.

Restricted by the tentacles and the trunk, I had a limited view of my body. But I could at least tell that my shoulders and arms were clad in a thick, skin-tight material that I assumed was the new Regalia Ghost had told me about.

Realizing this, I felt a sense of relief as I acknowledged I was safely within the Sarcophagus.

Then Ghost’s warning resounded within my mind.

There’s no challenge with Tabitha? What the Hell is going on then?

The breathing trunk trembled and withdrew the hoses and tubes it had fed down my throat and nose.

A moment later, the tentacles swiftly hauled me out of the womb.

Held aloft, I looked down at my body.

The interior of the Sarcophagus was softly illuminated, and I was able to discern the details of my new Princess Regalia. The body suit was covered in different shades of grey, the gauntlets were black with a gold pattern swirling over them, and my arms were sheathed in a deep, royal blue material that ended with puffy shoulders. Unlike the short while jacket I’d worn before, this jacket was also royal blue with a gold trim to it. The leggings were a thick, glossy black, and sturdy, angular boots protected my feet.

All this was well and good, if not for the sight of Mirai’s cleavage on display.

And there was a lot of cleavage on show.

I was by no means topless, but I was dressed like a fantasy warrior woman, and those girls tended to bare a lot of skin.

I would have shouted and railed in anger, if not for the Sarcophagus choosing that moment to attach two split skirts to my waist. Then the tentacle arms plastered ammo magazines to the skirts, and I felt something hard press into my back.

Still held aloft by a cadre of tentacles, the Sarcophagus completed outfitting me like one of those giant robots you saw in animated children’s shows.

The seamless doors to the Sarcophagus opened up, and within seconds I was delivered to the outside world, prepped and primed for battle.

But if the challenge was a lie, then who the Hell was I going to be fighting?

Darkness greeted me, and for a moment I feared I was within another void.

However, I soon felt myself descending and a heartbeat later my booted feet touched ground. From the softness of the surface and the crinkling sounds coming from underfoot, I suspected I was standing on short grass. Unfortunately, I didn’t know if I was back in the Estate, or if the Sarcophagus had trans-located to a different location during my time inside its belly.

Standing upright once the tentacles released me, I looked over my shoulder at the Sarcophagus. The silvery appendages withdrew into the confines of the immense coffin, vanishing from sight as the doors closed seamlessly.

Perhaps it would have been wiser to have remained within the Sarcophagus, but I believed I was out here because of Ghost’s actions. He had mentioned facing a struggle against nine other Awarenesses, so maybe this was the best he could do for me. As to why he was being restrained, I guess I’d find out soon enough.

However, as soon as the doors closed, they cut off the only source of light within my immediate surroundings, and I was left standing in complete darkness.

Suddenly, my consciousness ballooned, and I dropped to my knees as lightning pierced my brain.

With a cry, I clutched at my head, but the pain persisted for an interminable length of time.

Just when I thought I would faint from the excruciating agony, the pain began to fade.

I lay on my knees, my whole body heaving and shuddering as I gasped for air.

It was a while longer before I could think again, and that’s when I noticed the two protuberances attached to my head.

By cautiously running my fingers over them, I could picture their shape.

They were arrow-like and longer than my hands. In a sense, they were like fins rising sharply from the sides of my head.

But what the Hell were they?

I was still puzzling over them when the wetware in my head reported in.

[*Argus system engaged. Sensory awareness expansion at 178%. Efficiency below nominal levels. Further acclimation is required.]

I frowned at the announcement but was soon distracted by the sensation that I was outside of my body. It took me a few seconds to understand that I wasn’t experiencing an out-of-body event, but that my consciousness had somehow expanded beyond the confines of my physical self. For example, I could feel and perceive my surroundings, such as the grass beneath me, without having to touch it. I can’t say that I was aware of every detail. Instead, I was aware of the grass, the soil, and the hard deck several feet beneath it but it wasn’t clear. There was no high definition perception of my surroundings. If anything, I would describe it as a low definition experience. Yet though the clarity was limited and the range restricted to a few feet beyond my body, I found it to be enlightening experience that made the pain of recent minutes seem like a distant memory.

Was this what the Argus system was?

Was it a way to experience my surroundings well beyond human limitations?

My conversation with Celeste about transcendence and waking up from the ‘dream’ came to mind.

Certainly, I felt more alive and awake than ever before, but I was certain I hadn’t died and moved onto a higher plane of existence. On the other hand, my transition into Mirai could be considered a form of transcendence since I was now – theoretically – a more evolved lifeform.

Regardless, this wasn’t the time to engage myself in a pseudo philosophical debate.

Despite the pitch-black darkness that enveloped me, I could feel the ground and the garden within several feet around me. That alone quelled the panic I’d felt earlier when I feared I was back in a void.

However, I soon grew aware of the presence of people nearby. It was their lifeforce auras that gave them away.

The orange-yellow light radiating from their bodies resembled weak bonfires moving about quickly in the perfect darkness.

My mind shifted into an overclocked state and I counted ten Simulacra swiftly encircling me at a distance of around twenty feet.

Fatina’s maids.

When I concentrated my senses on them, the Argus System abruptly outlined the girls in pale green.

That surprised me and I gasped softly.

It was like wearing a tactical visor, yet the information was being delivered directly into my mind.

To call it impressive was an understatement, and the system went a step further.

It recognized that the maids were carrying weapons, and then identified them for me as XAMF-40A submachineguns. However, it wasn’t able to tell me what ammunition they were loaded with.

Yet the sight of them made me react subconsciously by expressing the urge to hold something in my hands. In response, the armatures on my back swung down beneath my arms and delivered two long rifles. Through the Argus System, I recognized them Mag Hauser LR-81A Punishers. I slipped my hands around their grips, and the armatures released the linear rifles, then swiftly folded away against my back. Simultaneously, I used my thumbs to flick the selection levers on the Punishers to single-shot mode.

The moment I disengaged the safeties, I was surrounded by an impossibly bright column of light streaming down from overhead.

At first, I squinted against it but then tightly squeezed my eyes shut as I was unable to bear the intensity of the beam. Even with my eyes closed, my vision was still white.

Gods damn it!

[*Argus sensory expansion initiated. Output at 210%.]

My consciousness ballooned outwards by several feet.

Despite being blinded by the intense light, I was aware of the presence of the ten maids that formed a circle around me without needing to see them.

This was courtesy of the Argus System that both complemented and supplemented my senses.

Not only did I know where they stood around me, I could also smell their scent in the air.

Is that the smell of fear?

I remembered Ghost’s warning, and abruptly I saw myself balancing on a knife’s edge.

One wrong move and I could trigger a shootout.

I’d like to believe I could evade the worst of it, but with the girls standing in a circle, they were likely to be caught in a crossfire of their own making. Deciding that was something I’d like to avoid, I cautiously lowered my arms, then pointed the Punishers at the ground beside me. However, I wasn’t ready to relinquish them to the armatures on my back.

MIRAI. STAND DOWN.

The voice of the goddess boomed out through the air. Because it was so loud, I had trouble recognizing it as Fatina’s voice.

Now she tells me to stand down? Come on, Fatina. Get with the program!

I cleared my throat, and with my eyes closed, I shouted back into the air. “What’s going on Fatina?”

I’M SORRY, MIRAI. THIS IS A NECESSARY PRECAUTION.

“I asked you what’s going on!”

PLEASE REMAIN AT EASE, MIRAI. IT WON’T BE LONG NOW.

I shook my head slowly.

Why can’t these people do anything straightforward?

That said, it confirmed what Ghost had told me. Something was afoot and I suspected I’d learn the truth soon enough.

MIRIA, I WISH YOU WELL.

With my eyes closed, I could only rely on Mirai’s senses boosted to a level that was unnatural even for her.

The maids around me began backing away in a hurry and quickly exited the sphere of my awareness.

Here it comes.

I crouched on bended knee, and then waited for what I believed would be a trans-location jump.

MIRIA, STAY STRONG. NO MATTER WHAT, YOU MUST PREVAIL! YOU MUSTN’T GIVE UP!

I made a sour face.

Thanks, Fatina. That really, really helps—not!

Trying to keep calm by regulating my breathing, I started counting quietly in my head until I felt the familiar weightless and nauseating sensation of a trans-location taking place.

Clenching my gut to prevent it from regurgitating the contents of my stomach, I felt the ground vanish beneath me.

At that moment I opened my eyes and saw nothing but darkness.

For several seconds, I was truly weightless.

Abruptly my body was subjected to an intense pressure, and I pictured myself being squeezed through a narrow tunnel.

Then the constricting, claustrophobic sensation vanished, and the light of day suddenly shone brilliantly all around me.

– IV –

A strong wind buffeted me as I fell feet first.

My eyes blinked rapidly, and my mind instantly overclocked.

Time stretched out. A single second was now worth five.

It gave me time to wonder at my location, and to look around at a city that loosely resembled Ar Telica though its skyline was miniscule in comparison.

Looking down, I saw myself falling toward the rounded glass ceiling of a rooftop terrace.

My hard landing fractured and splintered the glass.

Unable to keep my footing, I rolled a couple of times, before managing to dig in my booted toes and arresting my slide over the smooth, rounded ceiling.

Having come to a stop, I closed my eyes and took a handful of relieved breaths.

Why? Why do they always drop me in from a height?

Carefully, I rose to my feet and then took a long, cautious look around me.

Whatever this place was – wherever it was – it appeared to be a small city.

The buildings were all terraced and dotted with well-maintained gardens on balconies and rooftops. The buildings themselves weren’t very tall, perhaps only a dozen or more stories high.

Certainly, the place weakly resembled Ar Telica, but if I had to describe it in a word then Utopia came to mind.

Feeling a strong breeze rustle my hair and stroke my face, I directed my gaze upwards at a bright blue sky with long wispy clouds drawn across it.

I blinked a few times, wondering if there was something wrong with Mirai’s eyes because I could see a fine webbing or gridwork spread across the sky.

What the Hell is that?

Sweeping my gaze across the blue expanse, I noticed something that resembled the gondola of a blimp, though its numerous panels and rounded shape gave it the appearance of an upside-down turtle shell. When I realized those panels were darkly tinted windows, I wondered if the structure was a kind of observation deck.

When taking the gridwork and the gondola into consideration, I realized that the sky wasn’t real.

It was a simulation, like the sky above the Estate.

I bit my lower lip and frowned at the vista surrounding me.

When Ghost had shown me a schematic of the Sanreal Novis, I remembered him pointing out the Estate located a small section at the rear of the ship. But when I considered the sheer scale of the vessel, I had to wonder if I was inside another part of the Citadel. If that was true, then I was beginning to appreciate the enormity of the ship.

While it was only a fraction the size of Ar Telica, the city environment stretched off into the far distance. At a guess, I put my surroundings at well over a kilometer in length and probably half as wide. At one end of the city stood a tall tower that resembled a thin tree with leafless branches reaching upwards as though to support the arched ceiling upon which the faux sky was projected.

After giving that false sky another look, I then turned my attention to the building I was standing on.

The glass ceiling underfoot was akin to an awning covering a portion of a rooftop terrace.

I decided to get off it, so I walked to the edge of the awning and then jumped down to the terrace below me.

I bent my legs to cushion my controlled fall, but the landing triggered only a fleeting twinge in my knees.

Straightening to my full height, I turned in a slow circle as I swept my gaze over the terrace.

It was deserted.

Not a single soul in sight, and the Argus System sensed no movement or heat signatures within a sphere with a twenty-meter radius.

I must admit, I was beginning to appreciate the benefits of the Argus System.

It was rather comforting to have.

Vacillating on what to do next, I chose to approach an area enclosed by transparent walls. Peering into it, I saw that it was a lounge with sofas, tables, and divans. A set of spiral stairs in a corner led down to the floor below.

Holstering the Punisher in my left hand, I waited for the armature to secure it against my back before looking for a way into the lounge area.

That’s when I caught my reflection in the darkly tinted glass walls enclosing the lounge.

At least, I believed it to be my reflection because the girl looking back at me had Mirai’s crimson eyes and long black hair.

I’d already given myself a look when I emerged from the Sarcophagus, but the reflection offered me another opportunity to check myself out.

Like my previous outfit, this Princess Regalia consisted of a short jacket, a tight bodysuit and glossy black leggings that made me think of latex. My feet were snug in rugged, spacy boots that inspired me with the confidence to believe I could kick through a permacrete wall without breaking a toenail. The jacket’s shoulders were puffed up, and I wore the familiar black gauntlets embossed with a swirling golden pattern. Two split skirts flowed outwards from my hips.

Overall, it wasn’t bad…if I ignored the amount of cleavage I had on display.

The snug brassier that cupped my breasts pushed them up for the world to see.

Dear gods. I take one running step and they’re going to fly out!

Darting a few glances over the terrace to confirm I was alone, I then jumped on the spot a couple of times.

To my surprised, the bodysuit brassier prevented Mirai’s heavy breasts from bouncing.

Just to be safe, I jumped a few more times.

Nope. Not a single bounce. My breasts may as well have been glued tightly to my chest.

If I found myself sprinting through a hail of bullets, there would be no heaving bosom while wearing this Princess Regalia.

Relieved that a wardrobe malfunction was unlikely, my shoulders slumped, and I sighed heavily as my gaze fell on the Punisher in my right hand.

It was outfitted with a side mounted feeder to which an oversized ammo magazine was attached.

I questioned the rifle’s status and it replied with a thought pulse via the wetware.

Its accelerators were primed, the chamber was loaded, and I had sixty rounds at my disposal.

When I accounted for the six large ammo magazines stuck to the Regalia’s twin skirts, and the magazine loaded into the second Punisher, I realized I was carrying a complement of four hundred and eighty bullets.

Worry rushed through me.

If I had this much ammo with me, then that meant Ghost had equipped me for a big fight.

However, the question was…who was I fighting?

In the glass window wall, I saw movement reflected behind me and my heart skipped a beat.

Someone had emerged onto the rooftop terrace of the neighboring building.

I couldn’t see their face in the reflection, but I was able to recognize what they were wearing, and my chest tightened as my heart grew heavy.

After taking a handful of deep breaths, I slowly, reluctantly turned around, and then walked to the edge of the terrace.

I looked across the fifty-foot gap between our respective buildings at a tall young man with sandy hair who slid his hands into his trench coat pockets, and then smiled at me in regret.

“Hello Mirai.”

I heard him clearly as though were standing only a few feet away. At first, I attributed it to Mirai’s preternatural hearing until I realized his voice came from nearby.

Concentrating my attention on the terrace parapet and surrounding rooftop, the Argus System responded by expanding my awareness. However, my consciousness didn’t balloon out this time. Instead, I felt as though I was sweeping my awareness over the terrace rooftop – like shining a torchlight in the dark, bringing indistinct shadowy objects into clarity. It wasn’t a high definition sort of clarity, but it was enough for me to perceive beyond what my eyes could see, or to notice what I hadn’t noticed before, and that’s how I spotted the handful of little boxes scattered about – diminutive speakers through which Arnval’s voice was projected.

I swallowed to clear my throat, noting it felt a little tighter than moments ago as my emotions grew anxious.

They dropped me right where they wanted me.

Relaxing my focus that was concentrated upon the surroundings via the Argus System, I felt my consciousness return to normal.

So what now?

Looking up at the young man standing on the opposite terrace rooftop, I cleared my throat again, then called out to him loudly.

“Hello Arnval.”

Were there little speakers on his terrace through which my voice was projected?

I didn’t know, but nonetheless he nodded weakly to my greeting and his smile wavered. “I’m sorry it had to come to this.”

I shook my head. “I don’t know what you mean.”

He laughed bitterly, then gave me another nod. “Always keeping you in the dark, aren’t we.”

It wasn’t a question but a statement of fact.

I couldn’t bring myself to laugh with him. “It’s become the story of my life.”

Arnval nodded again, the regretful smile leaving his lips.

Seeing him like this was beginning to unsettle me more than I already was. “What’s up with you? Did you draw the short straw?” I hesitated before asking. “Is this my punishment for shooting up the training room? Are you still pissed at me?”

Confusion crossed his face for a brief moment, then he shook his head weakly. “No, I’m not angry at you. The damage to the training room is already fixed. That’s the beauty of having a Fabricator. You can fix anything…well, almost anything.”

I nodded gently. “That was a dick move you pulled on me.”

Arnval stiffened for a long moment before relaxing. “Ah…the garden sprinklers….” He laughed again but it was subdued and tense. “Sorry about that. I was caught up in the moment.”

“That’s okay. I wasn’t planning on forgiving you even if you apologized.”

He cocked his head at me. “So you’re going to hold a grudge?”

I nodded. “Yep. I’m going to hold a grudge.”

Yet again he laughed, and yet again it sounded strained. “I guess it’s good to know that you’re that sort of girl.”

“I’m not going to take that as a complement, Arnval.” I hefted the Punisher in my right hand and turned it slightly away from Arnval as I rested my thumb on the selection lever. “Are you going to tell me what’s going?” Making a point of looking at the skyline both near and far, I asked him, “Where am I?”

In the corner of my eye, I noticed Arnval narrow his eyes sharply for a heartbeat before he spared the buildings a cursory glance. “This is the Habitat located in the forward superstructure of the Citadel. Sixteen hundred meters long. Six hundred meters wide.”

I was right – it was well over a kilometer in length.

Sweeping my gaze over the rooftops, I glanced at the sky overhead. “So what’s it for?”

“It serves as a commercial and residential district for the crew. Gives them a little taste of home. Their home”—Arnval dipped his head slightly—“if you know what I mean.”

I absently stroked my teeth with the tip of my tongue as I puzzled over what he meant.

Then I realized what he was telling me.

This Habitat was most likely modelled after those that existed inside the cog-wheel shaped Citadels in the other universe.

Ah, so that’s why the architecture is different.

Taking another brief look at the cityscape, I asked, “So why is it deserted?”

“Because it’s been evacuated. All the residents have been moved to the shelters.”

I nodded faintly. “Why?”

“Because this is where you’ll face your opponent.”

“But I’m not facing Tabitha, am I.” Again, not a question but a statement of fact courtesy of Ghost's warning. “So who am I facing, Arnval?”

I watched him clench his jaw for a long moment as he regarded me thoughtfully. “So you knew.”

Shaking my head, I admitted, “No. I found out recently. My invisible friend told me.”

“Your invisible...?” Arnval looked puzzled and then the proverbial penny dropped. “Ah, so it was Revenant.”

“What have you done to him?”

“Me? Nothing. But I was told he was being kept busy to prevent him from contacting you. I guess putting you in the Sarcophagus allowed him to re-establish communications with you.” Arnval’s gaze swept over me a few times. “Looks like he gave you a makeover.”

I glanced down at my exposed cleavage. “I’m going to punch him the first chance I get.”

“Why? It looks good on you?”

“Arnval, I’m going to punch you the first chance I get.”

He laughed nervously and soon fell silent.

Staring at each other from across the gap between rooftops, I felt the tension creep back into me.

“I can’t say I wasn’t surprised,” I told him. “Being lied to is pretty much par for the course these days. But I am disappointed.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I was scared but I was also looking forward to fighting Tabitha.” I hesitated before adding in a subdued voice, “But that’s not going to happen, is it? I’m not facing her. All of it was a lie. All the training I did was for nothing.”

Arnval shook his head sharply. “No, it wasn’t for nothing.”

“Then what was it for, Arnval? Tell me!”

He fell silent for a long while, before eventually speaking up. “I’m sorry, Mirai. This wasn’t my idea, and honestly I’d prefer Sanreal hadn’t chosen me for this.”

“Chosen you for what?” I started to take a step forward but stopped myself. “Chosen you to fight me?”

He gave me a weary shake of his head. “No, Mirai. He didn’t choose me to fight you.”

I watched him slip his right hand into the folds of his trench coat, then retrieve a very long and menacing handgun.

Arnval held it at his side with the muzzle pointed down at the terrace rooftop.

Wetting my lips, I cleared my throat as I felt my heart beat a little quicker as the tension within me jumped a notch. “What’s that for, Arnval?”

His shoulders rose and fell as he took a deep breath.

“There’s one bullet in this gun, Mirai. Just one. And that bullet has a name on it.”

I flicked the selection lever to double shot mode. “What name?”

Arnval smiled sorrowfully.

“Erina Kassius.”



Dear Readers,

Thank you for sticking with this series through its ups and down.

This is the final part of the web release. The eBook is still on track for end of May.
If there are any delays, I will let readers know by making a post here and on the website.
Also, the eBook is some 40,000 words longer than the web release, so there's plenty to look forward to when it's released.

That said, I hope you have enjoyed the web version, and I sincerely hope you'll enjoy the much longer eBook even more.

I look forward to seeing all of you for Book Four, tentatively titled "School Princess" in early June, 2018.

As always, if you'd like to read or purchase Books 1 and 2, the links are provided below:

Book One - Awakening the Princess

Book Two - The Measure of a Princess

Thank you for sticking with it so long.

Not long now to the official release.



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