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Youjo Senki, Volumen 4, Capitulo 2

Chapter II, A Goodwill Visit


MARCH 15, UNIFIED YEAR 1926, IMPERIAL ARMY GENERAL STAFF OFFICE, CONFERENCE ROOM 1

Conference Room 1 in the Imperial Army General Staff Office was filled with such clamor and panicked shouts from officers, it was as if it were the deck of a sailing ship that had just been hit by a typhoon.

The bad news of the full-scale military conflict with the Federation Army in the east had arrived.

After the ominous first report, the General Staff readied themselves like sailors who sensed a fearsome storm brewing; no preparations were left undone.

They had already made the huge mistake of allowing the Republican Army to sneak attack them on the Rhine front. Twiddling one’s thumbs until a situation broke out would not be tolerated, a fact the army had already demonstrated, both internally and publicly, by purging all those involved in the previous debacle.

The General Staff cannot afford another mistake. The words were repeated like a pass phrase, giving a graphic account of the staffers’ determination, as well as their clear rejection of their predecessors’ mistake.

And in fact, none of the negligence associated with boasting was evident in their determination. They called a general mobilization that included even off-duty members and did everything they could to get a handle on the situation.

Their efforts were rewarded with the frontline troops’ well-disciplined combat in defense of the east.

The close cooperation and coordination between Eastern Army Group Headquarters and the General Staff Office also yielded excellent results.

A fluid mobile battle was unfolding, and the officers of the Service Corps from Deputy Director von Zettour on down were maintaining the supply lines. When it came to the supply of shells to the front, the interior lines strategy was working, to an amazing degree, exactly as it was meant to; on the whole, they were successful in responding to circumstances without delay.

Even so…

Information came in obscured by the fog of the battlefield, and grasping the overall picture was an enormous task for their mortal minds.

There were emergency calls from each patrol station and updates from the regional armies. At the same time, conflicting inquiries came in from all directions. Naturally, even if they did everything in their power, there was still a limit to the General Staff’s processing capabilities. Even if they tightened things up as much as they could, there had to be a maximum.

The torrent of status reports easily shattered their expectations for an exercise.

They had three times the number of analysts that they thought they would need, as redundancy, but it was way more work than even they expected, so processing had reached a saturation point.

But the true strength of the Empire’s prized staff officers was none other than their ability to deal with the unexpected. Putting the ad hoc skills praised as the crux of their staff education on display, they discarded all trivial data the moment it became apparent their processing ability was being outpaced.

With a terrible clarity, the Imperial Army’s core faction took the realistic attitude that priority was everything.

Thus, less important reports and requests were ruthlessly shunted aside, and the entire staff began handling things from highest priority down.

They started by sending the waiting Great Army to the east. Knowing that speed could decide wars, they put everything they had into the rapid deployment of their forces.

The Service Corps and the Railroad Department worked without sleep or rest to coordinate the timetables, and they had already started sending the units that were ready to go.

At the same time, the logistics officers in charge of supplies cursed the heavens as they tweaked the shipment schedule on the fly, which was no small feat. In response to the last-minute operation plan, the Railroad team members practically all collapsed but still managed to get it done.

In the army, they always said that the heart of interior lines strategy that is, the swift deployment of equipment and troops relied on the Railroad Department, and this feat proved it. On top of that, there was a depot set up as part of the Service Corps–led supply network maintenance, and the flights to take staffers over to confirm the situation were being arranged according to plan.

But not everything was proceeding as expected, as usual on the battlefield. Annoyingly enough, from the reports, things did indeed seem chaotic.

At any rate, it was a gambling den.

Would their actions produce good or bad results? It was almost like making a bet. There were officers with bloodshot eyes rushing around everywhere you looked.

And at the center of the maelstrom was the General Staff Office…

“Let’s make this quick. All right, gentlemen, I’d like to discuss the suggestion commander of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion Major Tanya von Degurechaff sent over.” Lieutenant General von Zettour, who should have been busier than anyone, presided over the meeting. They were gathered to consider Tanya’s proposed plan for a raid on the capital of the Federation.

Even for a unit reporting directly to the General Staff, it was unusual for a request from a mere battalion to warrant such high-priority deliberations.

“Colonel von Lergen, let’s hear what you have to say.”

A battalion had gone over the regional armies’ heads to ask the General Staff for instructions. Given the way armies are structured as organizations, that would normally be most unwelcome.

But not only did they permit it, the officers of the General Staff, who were so busy that every second counted, were putting their heads together to debate the request seriously. It would be quite something…if they sent the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion to attack the Federation’s capital.

“Sir, if there is a chance of success, I think it’s worth letting her try it.”

It was a plan to hit the capital directly.

The astonishing thing is Major von Degurechaff’s way of thinking. That had been Lergen’s honest appraisal when he was informed of her idea.

When ordered to join the eastern lines and fight a delaying battle, she responds by suggesting they raid the capital and give the enemy rear a good shock? Certainly, if they could draw the Federation’s attention behind their own lines, that would be very effective in terms of strategy, but…it’s a bit difficult for an ordinary person to follow her train of thought.

No, he amended, I must have been sucked into her influence.

If anyone else had said they were going to take a single battalion and attack the capital of the Federation, nobody would feel the need to debate the ridiculous boast.

“To be frank and ignore the risk for a moment, the returns are huge. And the chances of success aren’t low by any means.”

But far from reprimanding her for her forwardness, the General Staff promptly began considering the request that is, they made harried specialists from all departments go out of their way to spend time on it.

Lergen believed it could be done, even if no one else did.

“…A direct attack on the capital. As a distraction, it’s perfect.”

The main lines are engaged in a delaying battle, and the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion is supposed to be supporting them, but apparently, its commander is running things in her usual way, Lergen grumbled inwardly but voiced his opinion that they should let her do it.

“Her message says she is requesting permission given political factors.”

You can never tell what she’s thinking. A magic officer appeared in Lergen’s tired mind. It wasn’t as if all magic officers were that hard to understand.

This was definitely Major von Degurechaff’s idea.

This was that major. It certainly wasn’t the more usual case, where a commander under pressure from their officers appeals in a roundabout way to have the idea shot down.

She was probably asking for permission out of consideration for her unwilling subordinates. And perhaps also due to political situations. She had covered all her bases admirably.

Her talent for preventing political quarrels before they started had already been proven during the Commonwealth submarine sinking incident.

“There’s a chance it works. And it will be a good distraction, so I say we let her do it.”

Except for the political impact, an attack on the capital would be a perfect distraction. It would force the Federation to take some of its muscle and protect the city. They might even draw some off the front lines.

“Isn’t this a classic example of something easier said than done? Colonel von Lergen, striking the capital directly will be no easy feat. No matter how impactful it sounds, actually accomplishing it will surely entail a mountain of difficulties.”

“They succeeded in attacking the Dacian capital, the Republican Army HQ on the Rhine front, as well as the enemy HQ on the southern lines. Considering this proposal is coming from a specialist with no lack of achievements, don’t you think there’s a good chance they could do it?” Degurechaff and the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion had a brilliant track record for decapitation tactics. “And even if if the strike failed, the enemy would still have to send units to deal with it. In that case, if they can lure in some enemy forces, we can expect the Federation Army pressure on the main lines in the east to relax somewhat.”

But at the same time, Degurechaff’s glass-like eyes crossed his mind. Just the recollection of that inhuman gaze staring into nothingness was enough for him to realize that normal expectations were far too restrictive for this.

By appearance alone, you would think her an adorable little girl. But her eyes gave Lergen an impression that was less human and more like a murderous doll.

“…Colonel, are you serious?”

“General von Zettour, please consider it. We’re talking about Degurechaff.” He responded to Zettour’s suspicion with a challenge. Normally, that would be incredibly rude but they were talking about Degurechaff.

Supposedly she had laughed and danced on the Rhine. She was the crazy type who forced her way through the Republic’s air defenses and took out their army’s headquarters.

She was taking the time to solicit permission.

By then, it was no longer an issue of feasibility; she was simply checking whether politics would allow it or not.

There was no doubt in his mind she could do it.

“But the capital?”

“Are we just going to keep her chained up? Wouldn’t it be better to let her bite someone?”

Success was practically guaranteed. And even if they did fail, that mad dog’s need to go on the attack would surely provide enough distraction to increase their gains considerably. It was best to let hunting dogs, even the overly brutal ones, snap at their prey. She had already proven herself to be a commander who could pick up the scent of military opportunity when released into the wild.

As long as giving permission wouldn’t cause serious political problems, they ought to let her go. It was far more dangerous to hold her back without reason. Letting de Lugo get away was costing them dearly now. With that in mind, perhaps trusting the mad dog’s nose was the optimal course of action.

“What a horrible take. That’s no way to talk about a frontline commander.”

“You can only say that because you don’t know, Colonel.”

The one who admonished him with a sensible opinion was an older lieutenant colonel.

I’m pretty sure he’s a communications officer for the Eastern Army Group, thought Lergen, at which point he scoffed at the argument.

If he had once, just once, come into contact with that anomaly Major von Degurechaff’s true nature, he would understand immediately. She was a mad war dog who would take a magic blade to an officer in training if they weren’t making themselves useful. If she realized someone was in her way, even an ally, she would probably blow them to smithereens. It wasn’t uncommon for inept commanders to die in “accidents” on the front lines.

But she would do a proper job with a logical reason, he mused.

“Major von Degurechaff is a capable field officer, but let’s look at this from a different angle, shall we?”

“Huh?”

“…She’s too capable. I suggest you read the reports from the mobile battles on the southern continent. As far as I know, you can count the number of imperial units who could pull off those maneuvers in an exercise on one hand. Surely she’s the only one who can make them happen in combat.”

In that sense, Lergen felt General von Romel’s discipline was fantastic. Instead of lamenting that she was a handful, he freed her to achieve as much as she could.

Without restrictions, she could work well, too.

…No, I shouldn’t underrate her.

Apparently, she really works hard.

He had to think “apparently” because Major von Degurechaff’s productivity had already surpassed any scale he could imagine.

“Oh, about that the eastern armies had a question… Could the reports be somewhat lacking in accuracy? I don’t mean to suggest that a brilliant field officer’s achievements might be invalid, but I hope you would consider that results tend to be inflated…”

“I beg your pardon… What did you just say?”

“Some members of the Eastern Army Group wonder if the achievement reports are being filed properly. I realize the home front needs a hero, but shouldn’t the reports contain numbers that are a bit more realistic?”

For a moment, Lergen was rendered speechless. Umm. He looked to Zettour but found the same perplexed expression on his face.

Well, I can’t blame him. He winced, ruminating on the Eastern Army Group communication officer’s comment. In their achievement reports, Degurechaff and the rest of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion came off a bit sensational. He could probably assume the issue was with the comment that Degurechaff had fought the Republic’s colonial defense forces and the remnants of their main army with the fury of a lion.

“If you’re that skeptical, why don’t you dispatch an inspector from the Eastern Army Group to Degurechaff’s battalion?”

“…May I?”

“Of course. But if you’ll forgive my impertinence, allow me to give some advice from the kindness of my heart. I strongly recommend sending a veteran magic officer who has previously belonged to a long-range reconnaissance unit and has at least a week’s worth of experience on missions penetrating deep into enemy territory.”

He gave a sincere warning.

With the fury of a lion is quite the metaphor. You frown at the accuracy of the report, but then there are those extraordinary achievement notes. Major von Degurechaff and her battalion always come back with scores like they’ve been out duck hunting.

Apparently, an inspector who doubted the accuracy of their reports once accompanied them, but the poor administrative bureaucrat had a miserable time. Following a week of long-range recon and attacks in enemy territory, they dragged him along on a scrambled sortie, and he lost consciousness, so her men complained that their scores in the interception battle hadn’t been properly recognized. In the end, the inspector fled back to the home country thoroughly battered.

This wasn’t score padding or anything like that the achievements were real. Their performance should be deemed heroic.

But maybe it’s good to take a step back and think some more.

Anyone who could do a week of penetrating raids unfazed even though one wrong move could mean getting wiped out had to be a little insane. Not only that, but during the opening battle with the Free Republican Army (as they had styled themselves at the start of the war in the south), there was that frontal breakthrough and strike on its headquarters; the timing was so perfect it didn’t seem possible for a human.

The report about the battle was a parade of ideal tactical maneuvers that were perhaps, but just barely, theoretically possible. The right maneuvers happened at such the right time that it seemed like she was somehow overseeing everything from far above.

“That one’s exceptional, in her own crazy way. If you don’t at least send an inspector with exceptional abilities themselves, they might get shot for slowing the battalion down. I doubt that’s the conclusion you’re looking for.”

“That can’t be! She’s the recipient of the Silver Wings Assault Badge with Oak Leaves!”

“And that’s exactly why.”

A child her age received the Silver Wings Assault Badge, plus the Oak Leaves, and lived.

Normally, even just that sentence would be bizarre; you could say it was impossible. If I had read the same sentence before the war, I would have scoffed at it as either an awful piece of fiction or a joke made by someone unfamiliar with how personnel works in the military and thought nothing of it.

The more he considered it, the stranger it seemed. Major Tanya von Degurechaff was a child, and yet…she was so terribly complete as a soldier.

Practically all he could think was that something inside her had come undone.

He understood from all that had happened so far that she was loyal to the army. What he didn’t know was where exactly her loyalty was oriented. Horrifying.

“…Let’s end it there. The clock is ticking even as we debate. As long as the only objections are emotional arguments, discussing any further is a waste of time.”

Zettour cut the dispute short, the trace of a wry smile on his face. Then he dropped a bomb on the staffers and their blank looks.

“I also judge it fine to give her permission.”

Lergen grinned. He’s the same as ever.

““General?!”” At that remark, several people observing the proceedings finally had to interrupt.

That was hilarious to Lergen, but…apparently, they were actually worried.

Aren’t the chances of success incredibly slim? they thought.

Won’t this just end with us running an invaluable elite unit into the ground?

Or maybe they were concerned it would have a negative impact on morale.

All those questions were implicit in their calls to hold her back.

“She wouldn’t ask unless she believed success was possible. I’d be willing to wage one of my favorite bottles on it.”

“Are you serious?!”

Which is why they were shocked when he promptly rejected their fears.

The members of the General Staff were brilliant people who were able to think only within the bounds of common sense. They weren’t much good at adapting to new ideas.

Well, I can see why, thought Lergen as it hit him. The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion is just something else.

Getting involved with that one sure gives your common sense a jolt.

“Yes, I’m serious. Now authorize her.”

There’s no way to force them to understand, thought Lergen as he saluted and left. He was headed to the signaling room to send a telegram to Tanya, who he knew was waiting: Is it here yet? Have we gotten permission? As he went, he thought, I hope the Federation rots.






MARCH 16, UNIFIED YEAR 1926, THE FEDERATION CAPITAL MOSKVA

Located in one corner of Moskva is the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, and its name alone was enough for any citizen of the Federation to steel themselves: Am I next? After all, unlike the lazier Federation agencies, there was no lack of results.

Some people in the world push forward very passionately with work that you definitely wouldn’t want them to be passionate about. Surely everyone wants police and firefighters to be enthusiastic, but not many people would appreciate that same enthusiasm from the secret police.

So when it comes to “the people’s friend,” the Commissariat for Internal Affairs that is, the common people surely wish it wasn’t so dedicated. No, even the privileged class of apparatchiks wish from the bottom of their hearts for this particular people’s commissariat to be lazier. After all, the Commissariat for Internal Affairs is notorious for its decisive role in the cleansing of the party’s central presidium.

If these guys had their eyes on you, whether you were a leading member of the military or the party, your life would be short indeed… As a power that could ruin anyone and everyone tomorrow if it so chose, the organization was feared and loathed by all Federation citizens. But the staff of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs took no notice of the people’s feelings and continued with the meticulous execution of their roles as cogs in the system.

From collectivizing agriculture, purging reactionary elements, and exposing sabotage to cracking down on secret communication with foreign agents they worked devotedly on it all. They openly professed that rather than let a single criminal go free out of concern for harming ten potentially innocent people, they would prefer to condemn a hundred innocents to catch ten actual criminals.

And those same staff members could probably be said to be heading up the modern witch hunt. But even they trembled before their boss and manager, the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs Comrade Loria, hoping they wouldn’t make some kind of mistake.

In terms of appearance, he was an ordinary, lackluster man in his forties, if a bit short. But his name was enough to cause seasoned veterans to break out in a cold sweat and turn docile under the cruel thumb of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs.

Loria, however, matter-of-factly facing his duties with his pen in hand, defined himself as nothing more than an efficient bureaucrat applying himself to his work.

“Right. See to it that they’re handled in an acceptable manner.” As part of his administrative duties regarding the concentration camps in Sildberia, he warned a camp manager that the laborers were to be used properly that is, with wear and tear kept to a gradual level and slowly replaced the receiver.

Though he was aware a war was starting, the style with which he approached his duties didn’t change one bit from peacetime. He calmly viewed human beings as statistics and devoted himself to meeting his numbers whether for the front lines or the rear.

Thus, for Loria, as long as the war was a sure thing, he could only do his duty.

But even for him, without a doubt, the decision to declare war on the Empire was a happy event that cleared away the nightmares that had been occupying his mind. Apparently, the weight of being constantly on guard, never knowing when the Empire might strike, was far heavier than he imagined.

How long had he been tormented by that stress?

Ever since planning the declaration and sneak attack, he’d felt so much better. As a fortunate result, he was able to get through approvals faster and handle many more matters than before.

He had purged half the list, so he was confident and proud of the fact that the reactionary forces couldn’t make a move, even if the country shifted into war mode.

He wasn’t going to allow anyone to challenge the foundations of the Federation, whether it be the wavering class plotting sabotage or the antiestablishment faction. And since the camps needed as much labor as they could get, he could simply send the imperial soldiers over.

“Great, everything’s going smoothly, so I should… Ah, but every now and then, it’s not so bad…”

At this moment, when war was just beginning on the front lines, he noticed…due to a slight quiver…that he was feeling unusually pent-up. He couldn’t suppress the urge to vent his impulses.

Once it occurred to him, he didn’t hesitate to act on it.

“It’s me. Yes, bring my car around.”

All he had left to do was wait for reports from the political commissars on the front lines. That would take some time. Waiting irritated him he didn’t have the patience.

If he couldn’t stand it, a bit of a break for his nether regions became necessary.

Today wasn’t a bad day to wander the city for a new find. Great men have great fondness for the sensual pleasures isn’t that what they say?

“Make sure this is handled by the time I get back. Pay particular attention to the cleansing of any people who’ve had contact with imperials.”

Quite so. And thus, since he was a great man, it was no wonder he had a great fondness for sensual pleasures. Loria was the type of person who didn’t hesitate to prioritize his tastes.

He left the rest of the work to his subordinates, telling them to do a thorough job on anyone connected to the Empire; got in his car; and gave the driver, who was aware of the particulars, concise instructions.

“I’d like to go for a drive. Just the usual.”

So the car leisurely proceeded toward the center of Moskva, occasionally interrupted by a checkpoint or air defense base. He couldn’t really complain about the obstructions to his fun, since he was the one who had arranged for the checkpoints and ordered the military to build the air defense bases.

Luckily, it didn’t take too long. Even if he was held up slightly now and then, some of the sentries were from the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. Once they noticed he was in an official car with a special license plate number, they opened the roads to him.

He had the driver take him to a part of town with lots of students and began watching them with the anticipation of a beast hunting its prey. Let’s see…

He’d been so busy lately he hadn’t gotten to enjoy himself like this in some time.

I really have no patience anymore… He smiled wryly to himself. Still, that’s why he was gazing lustfully at the schoolgirls going by in search of one who fit his ideal.

“What about that one? …Mm, not so much.” He sighed.

For a moment, the back of one girl seemed good, but when he took a closer look, she wasn’t what he was after.

It was a problem of seasoning. If she had been younger, she would have been his type. Unfortunately, she was far too grown-up for his taste.

She was more like a ripe fruit than a green one, just slightly outside the realm of his interest. She was very close. It wasn’t as if she aroused nothing within him. But precisely because she was so nearly perfect, her faults were glaring.

“Not quite… If only I could have found her a bit sooner, she would have been delicious.”

Before he knew it, he was lamenting the absurdity of fate. That beauty, that height a few years earlier he would have surely wanted her; he would have plucked her off the street. The fact that she was so beautiful, he felt he might even be able to savor her despite her awkward partially grown-up-ness actually lessening his desire what a tragedy.

“What’s wrong?”

“Ah, they just aren’t quite it. Keep driving.”

This is what it meant to Loria, as he gazed at the girls walking down the street, to lose interest. He was looking for a flower to pick, but having seen a decayed form of his ideal, none of them was enough for him. From behind, one might look nice, but when he got closer, there was always something missing.

Should I try somewhere else? It was as he was trying to think of a way to improve his mood that it happened.

After staring at the earth for so long Ah, man he looked up and noticed dark spots hanging in the western sky. As he was thinking what strange spots they were, he realized they were clad in camouflage, certainly nothing like the plumage of any bird.

“Eh? What idiots are these?”

The entirety of Moskva had already been declared a no-fly zone. No one was supposed to be in the air if it wasn’t for a military parade or ceremony.

Naturally, this was a flagrant violation of the rules.

You reprobates! With eyes containing so much murder he could have killed someone with a glare, he vowed to punish the fools.

This is why I can’t trust the air forces or the mages. I’ve sent so many to the concentration camps, and they still don’t learn! After the thought occurred to him, Loria’s sly mind wondered something.

Mages?

There shouldn’t have been any mages left in the area. He himself had spearheaded the hunt not for witches but mages. It should have been physically impossible for any mages to even be around to break the rules.

There couldn’t have been any left.

“What the?!”

Actually…

He was shouting in spite of himself, lacking the wherewithal to care about appearances.

…what the hell is going on?

Even that dead-end question entered Loria’s head. But in the next moment, the movements of the mage-like spots before his eyes left no room for doubt.

The mages calmly assumed anti-surface strike formation. Even from the ground, he could tell it was a magnificent maneuver. Not a member was out of place; you could have even called their attitude relaxed.

And Loria knew that the Federation Army mages couldn’t pull off such a well-ordered maneuver.

Of course he knew. He was the one who had purged and ruined them.

He did it so the class that had made the former mage establishment their allies would never have the power to oppose the party ever again. There were only a few reactionaries left in the Federation Army, and they had fallen so far that people gave them the cold shoulder. There were no units left that could perform such maneuvers, and if there were, he would have sent them to Sildberia to get them killed by the Akitsushima Dominion in the border conflict.

So these weren’t Federation mages. In which case, by process of elimination, their identities were clear: They’re enemies. They’re from the army of a hostile nation… After that realization, this time he shouted with true abandon: “The Imperial Army?! What?! That can’t be!”






MARCH 16, UNIFIED YEAR 1926, OVER FEDERATION CAPITAL MOSKVA

Upon reaching the sky over the Federation’s capital, Moskva, the commander of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, Major Tanya von Degurechaff, realizes she has won her bet.

In a booyah mood smiling, even Tanya looks out over the streets of Moskva they are about to greet as representatives of the Imperial Army. As she takes a good look, she notices the annoyingly gaudy bronze statues in “the world’s most urban international airport.”

The towering People’s Palace can’t have been built without heaps of gall; the twinkling red stars are in truly bad taste.

Well. Tanya smiles tolerantly.

I don’t expect much sense from Communists to begin with, and I’m not the type who gets particular about the shape of my targets.

If there’s one thing I’m particular about, it’s that “A dead Red is a good Red.”

If international agreements don’t prevent Tanya from bombing the Communist capital, that’s plenty satisfying.

“Fairy 01 to all units.”

Normally, flying in over a capital city so casually like this without meeting air defense, much less an interception, would be impossible.

Normally… I can’t say things aren’t complicated due to the outbreak of the war.

Still, Tanya has to crack a smile. They’re succeeding on a long-distance penetrating raid with barely any preparation. If it’s so easy to get in, Federation air defense is worthless.

“I won this bet, huh? I told you even a college kid could break this defense, didn’t I?”

“02 to 01. You did indeed.”

See? Tanya grins at Captain Weiss, who had disapproved of the Moskva bombing plan. In response to his commander’s genial Told ya! Weiss knows he’s been defeated and raises the white flag.

“I appreciate your sportsmanlike acceptance of the truth, but that doesn’t mean you get any mercy. As such, troops, when we get back to base, all of 02’s favorite bottles are yours for the drinking!”

“Wow, the vice commander is treating us? Looking forward to it!”

“Sounds like a good chance, so please count me in, as well.”

At times like this, the way First Lieutenants Serebryakov and Grantz banter is fearless. It’s a cheerful, harmonious flight over enemy territory. You nearly get the illusion that the sky is free, unlike the Commie-infested ground.

“If you’re treating both of them, then don’t forget me!”

“And drink them we will! This is our biggest mission since the one on the beach last summer. Against alcohol, you’ll never catch me retreating not even one step!”

“02 to all units. You guys have got some nerve!”

This is a promising vibe for workplace chatter to have. Being unexpectedly blessed with ethyl alcohol improves the morale of Grantz and the other officers, which enhances the spirit of teamwork throughout the battalion; we can head to work in solidarity.

In that case.

We can do this. Tanya cracks a smile and thinks how dependable her troops are, staying appropriately relaxed but not dropping their guard as they fly. Then she barks orders. “01 to all units! It’s fine to look forward to 02’s kind offer, but before recreation comes the job. Form up immediately for an anti-surface strike. I say again, form up immediately for an anti-surface strike.”

They promptly organize themselves into a combat box. The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion’s movements are outstanding. They maintain appropriate distance from one another as they begin to drive toward the center of Moskva.

That’s when Tanya has the feeling that maybe they could go one step further. So far, the only obstacles they’ve encountered in the sky have been birds or weather. Despite the long flight, her mages aren’t terribly exhausted; they have energy to spare.

Upon reaching their destination, their fighting power is much closer to usual than her best estimates indicated they would be. They should still have enough energy to withdraw even if they really go to town instead of just doing a hit-and-run. At this rate, maybe they can escape north into former Entente Alliance territory under Imperial Army control.

Tanya mumbles to herself and then tells the troops they are going to carry out some efficient destruction.

The original plan was to perform a flyby at most, a demonstration. Specifically, they were going to take a page from the John Bull’s handbook and fly circles over the enemy capital.

We’re up against Commies, so nothing would be better than knocking their pride down a few pegs, or rather, Tanya had been thinking of that as their goal. But in reality, she’s been given more options than a simple performance.

“I’m revising the plan. First Company, you’re with me. I’m going to blast the red stars on that big, irritating People’s Palace. The rest of you, attack whatever government facilities you can find.”

If we’re not being intercepted, I can live out my dream of mopping up Moskva.

“Second Company, take out that eyesore of a bronze in the square and the mummies, if you can.”

Toppling that bronze statue of Josef is another capitalist’s dream.

I don’t think that so many statues of this importance were knocked down in my own world…but there’s no rule that says I can’t do it here. On the contrary, it’s a great opportunity. We’ll seize this chance to be the first to perform the historic deed of destroying Communist monuments. Tanya chuckles to herself.

If possible, I want to get those mummies in the mausoleum that people worship as idols, too. That said, “if possible” is fine.

“Third Company, subdue and destroy the tallest building in Moskva, the one with a view of Sildberia. Eradicate the secret police.”

And we’ll bully the secret police. This is so fun I can hardly take it.

They say you can see Sildberia from the basement of this former insurance company office. Surely, burning all their classified documents is the nastiest thing we can do to them. Whoever said you can get ahead doing things other people don’t like was right.

“Fourth Company, attack the Kremlin. Don’t hold back. Cause as much damage as you can.”

Apparently, the American Army had a rule against bombing the Imperial Palace, but we’re not under any such restrictions. So what if the German Army didn’t allow bombing of the British royal family? That has nothing to do with me.

We’re the Imperial Army. Let’s serve the human world by killing off the bears in the Kremlin.

“Battalion Commander to all units, this is a dream scenario for all capitalists. Future capitalists will be jealous of us at this moment.”

This is definitely the sort of thing that would both impress hard-core anti-Communists and make them wish they were here.

“All right, troops. Move out!”

“““Yes, ma’am!”””

When the units spread out and form up, we finally, finally start taking anti–air fire.

“Oh, so they do have air defense positions.”

The high-angle cannons shooting up from the ground certainly are a threat. Even an elite member of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion would get more than burned by a direct hit.

“Keep a sharp eye on the ground,” urge the voices crisscrossing among units, but soon enough, the channels are full of nearly disappointed impressions.

“…It’s a pretty sporadic interception, and their aim is awful. Seems like they’re shooting willy-nilly. Shall we just hit their defensive positions?” Serebryakov approaches with a question.

It’s not as though Tanya isn’t tempted, but she shakes her head after a moment’s hesitation. “Even if the Commies’ anti–air fire is pathetic, it’s still anti–air fire. I can’t think of any reason to incur extra casualties.”

“Then please excuse the suggestion.”

“We can’t have too much fun and forget what time we need to go home… Oh, Lieutenant, you have personal reasons to hold a grudge against the Commies, don’t you?”

“Yes, Major, but that was back when I was a child.”

Realizing that fact, Tanya takes care to make herself clear.

“You don’t have to hide how much you hate them, Lieutenant.”

“Uh, ma’am?”

A peculiar blank look appears on Serebryakov’s face, and Tanya smiles as if to say she understands everything.

Serebryakov used to live in the Federation. Since she’s a decent human being, she surely must have suffered at the hands of the Commies. It’s easy to imagine that she must be burning up with the desire to shoot them all dead.

“I won’t tell you to not let the hate rule you. As long as you’re faithful to your duty, I support your feelings. Of course, it’s best if you control yourself, but…as long as you follow the ROE, I’ve got your back.”

Her adjutant tries to say something, but Tanya tells her not to worry. Covering for my subordinates’ mistakes isn’t my hobby or anything, but if one of them is criticized even though they’re right, I won’t hesitate to support them.

“I know a bit of your history. I’ll be counting on your knowledge of the terrain. Do a good job out there. I expect we’ll be able to accomplish your long-cherished dream.”

Tanya pats Serebryakov on the shoulder and then mutters, “Time for war,” as she takes the lead and gives the order for strike formation.

“All units, wreak havoc as your company commander sees fit. I’ll announce our withdrawal via either a signal flare or transmission over a wide area.”

“What’s our tactical objective?”

“Do a moderate amount of damage and make fun of them to an extent. No more, no less. I want you to really show off. I have high expectations of your creative destruction.”

We’ve arrived over the skies of Moskva, but what we’re about to do is essentially the same thing as Doolittle’s Tokyo Raid.9 It’s like we’re emulating the American Empire’s propaganda.

The Federation is a country with a coat of ostentation. Against the Federation, where the nation is fictional and the only thing supporting a sense of nationality is propaganda, disturbing the notion that the party is all-powerful is most effective. We’re essentially slinging mud balls at its reputation.

More than anything, for how strategically effective it is, you really get maximum impact for minimal effort. We can expect this sort of harassment to upset them.

After all, it’s these guys. Rather than send reinforcements to the main lines, they’ll probably waste precious time on preventing a reoccurrence and laying blame. It would be great if they did a postmortem with tons of self-criticism.

And that’s another reason… Tanya reminds her battalion of their operational objectives. “Our objective in this operation is to kick the shit out of the Federation’s pride. Think of it as kicking in a rotten door.”

They let the Imperial Army penetrate the airspace over the capital?

Surely, all the people in charge of preventing that have lost face in a spectacular way. They’re definitely trying to cover it up, but…if we rampage through the skies and destroy the buildings and monuments they’re so proud of, it’ll be hard to gloss over.

If their ability to wage war is hindered by their futile cover-up efforts, that could be a decent secondary effect.

“Let’s make them wish they’d never been born!”

“““Yes, ma’am!”””

“Okay, let’s get this done right. Begin attacking!”

The combat box neatly splits into four, and Tanya has her company take their time advancing on the center of Moskva. The imperial mages fly back and forth across the sky in triumphant formation.

She even records a video with her computation orb for PR. Keeping both the city and her subordinates in the frame so it’s clear that it’s Moskva, she leans slowly into a turn.

Then she has an idea.

“First Company, why don’t we sing the national anthem?”

“Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Wonderful. That’s a great idea, Major. And let’s amplify it!”

Her men react positively.

Very good. I’m not really into singing while operating in a group, but if it’s to make fun of Commies while flying over their heads, I’m all for it.

We use a sound-amplifying formula for the benefit of the people of Moskva, who probably have no idea what is going on.

It feels just like conducting an orchestra. This is kinda fun. She belts out the imperial anthem as her heightened emotions dictate, letting it ring throughout the skies of Moskva.

It’s immensely pleasant, but what deepens her happiness even further is the good news that keeps coming in.

“Fairy 06 to 01. Got a great view of Sildberia!”

“01 to 06. Is it burning nicely?”

“06 to 01. Ah, it reminds me of wanting to burn my test scores as a child. The documents are exhibiting superior combustion.”

A cheerful report from a subordinate in the area that from the sky she can see is enveloped in roaring flames.

The Commies must be panicking. Just the thought is invigorating. This is definitely worth a medal. When we get back, I’ll have to apply for everyone’s decorations.

“Ha-ha-ha. Terrific!”

“By the way, that’s some delightful war music you have going on over there. We would love to join you…”

“Splendid. Let us sound the trumpets of civilization! Sing so they can hear you all the way in Sildberia!”

Let the trumpets be a warning to the Communists that their ruin is at hand. This can be our Jericho-Trompete. Singing with all their might, Tanya and her company approach their designated target, the People’s Palace.

“01 to all units. Ready your formulas! Target: that lump of shit!”

““Target: that lump of shit!””

At the appropriate distance and altitude, Tanya merrily manifests her formula and lets it fly. There is no way she would miss a stationary target, and the explosion formula smashes directly into the reinforced concrete building.

“Ha-ha-ha-ha! What fun!”

Whether due to shoddy architecture or faulty materials, I’m not sure which, the high-rise People’s Palace is already listing. She was sure it would take a few volleys, but when she sees the building start to collapse already… Yeah, it has to be the result of rushed construction.

“These concrete buildings the Communists love so much are more fragile than I thought!” Tanya jeers, but a report from the Fourth Company throws a bucket of cold water over her smirk.

“Depends on the place, I think. Fairy 09 to Fairy 01. Sorry, but we’re having trouble with the Kremlin’s defenses. The outer wall is bizarrely sturdy.”

“You tried a deliberate attack?”

“Yes, but this thing is nuts. Even steel anti-base penetrating rounds bounce right off.”

“Sheesh, so the distribution of concrete was totally unbalanced, then. Guess the Kremlin is higher priority than the people.”

If the reinforced concrete is so thick it repels the attacks of Grantz’s Fourth Company, it’ll be really hard to get through without a cannon.

Multiple shaped charges would be something to consider, but we barely have any explosives. We’re equipped for a long-range reconnaissance mission. And in terms of formula bullets, we don’t even have that many steel rounds for penetrating fortification walls.

If it’s so troublesome to break through, does that make it even more important to attack? If I knew for sure that jerk Stalin was in there, we could run Grantz and all of the Fourth Company into the ground, and it’d still be worth it…but this is that jerk Stalin we’re talking about. If things are rough, he’ll have ducked out for sure.

In which case, it might be better to have the Fourth Company change objectives and head somewhere else. To make the most of our limited time, having them destroy a soft target might be more effective.

“09, have the Fourth Company change objectives on the double.”

“Yes, ma’am, on the double.”

Sheesh, that really rained on my parade, Tanya is thinking, but in the very next instant, the greatest news comes in.

“04 to 01. We crushed Mr. Josef. I say again, we crushed Mr. Josef.”

“Must feel good?”

“Couldn’t be more refreshed.”

Tanya does a quick calculation, going back over the situation to make sure they’re harassing the enemy as much as possible.

They’ve attacked the Kremlin enough to be a bother, and the People’s Palace and the headquarters of the secret police are in flames. The Second Company, who was sent to blow up that statue to the cult of personality, has accomplished its mission with ease.

It’s certainly a good thing to feel so refreshed. I’m jealous. Kicking over the statue of Josef must have felt great. Well, I thought for all the pride they had in this thing, it would be heavily guarded, but if it’s not, then maybe it’s worth going on a little adventure. Like maybe we could put up an imperial flag in the middle of the square, just like on Iwo Jima.

Not sure how I feel about imitating the Marines, but…

No, no, what’s good is good… Formal beauty is beauty. It’s wonderful that we can take the Commies down without even waiting for the philosophers to debate.

We’ll fly the fluttering imperial flag right inside every Commie’s hearts. The political impact will be huge. And it’s not even that big of a risk, since we’ve already taken the square.

Above all, the imperial flag will wave in the Federation capital. The Communists’ arrogant faces will probably go white as sheets. I’m sure they’ll turn Moskva into a fortress to avoid it from ever happening again even if they have to yank a ton of matériel and personnel off the front lines to do it.

Thus, in terms of our assistance to the main lines, there is no better distraction we could create. I’m confident General von Zettour will be delighted.

“Very good. Now let’s plant a flag in the square and get out of here.”

“A flag? That’s a good idea, but…I don’t have one on me.”

Tanya nearly becomes discouraged at her subordinate’s unfortunate reply. But she doesn’t have to worry. She’s not such a sloppy planner that she doesn’t have a backup idea.

“No need to worry. I know where we can get one.”

For those well versed in the habits of Commies, improvisation is no problem. Knowledge is power. Whether you know something or not changes the choices available to you.

In this case, if you know that Commies love propaganda, that they love movies, and that they also love censorship, the issue becomes quite simple. It’s a matter of course that Commie movies are censored to be politically correct. In other words, for a while now, they’ve surely been making anti-Empire propaganda.

…You can’t make a film about the evil Empire without its evil flag.

Naturally, they must have a pile of them somewhere for burning or whatnot. Surely, they’ll have a bunch of the Commie red flags for what they consider their army of justice. It’s great that we’ll have flags for burning, too, in other words.

Even better if we can capture it on film.

“Where?”

“From the film studios the Commies are so proud of. I’m sure they have imperial flags to use in their anti-Empire propaganda.”

“Oh, you’re right, Major!”

And the fact that Serebryakov has an idea where the studio might be makes Tanya smile. I thought you would.

Figuring they shouldn’t talk on the wireless, Tanya waves her over and asks her point-blank.

“Lieutenant, you know where it is, right?”

“If it’s still where it used to be! I’m not sure if I remember exactly, but if it’s the same as on the map they passed out before, then I know the spot!”

“Splendid. Then your orders are to requisition equipment on-site. Don’t forget military notes and a proof-of-payment slip.”

“…Understood. Of course, we’ll do a proper requisition and not loot the place!”

She must have grasped Tanya’s tasteless joke. With a model salute and her mission accepted, Serebryakov takes several soldiers and descends into the streets of Moskva.

We’ll make the propaganda film instead of the Commies.

With Commie cameras.

Well, we’ll burn Federation flags not the Empire’s. The Commie red flag is sure to glow brilliantly in the flames. Just imagining that scene is a thrill and a half.

Yep, this is what I’d call invigorating. And we’ll plant our flag in Commie Square. Ah, I really regret not bringing a journalist along. Yes, it’s sudden, but that doesn’t mean we can grab just anyone who happens to be around.

The next best plan is to procure equipment at our own expense.

“…Right, that makes sense.”

“I’m going to go pick up the flags and equipment. You guys stay here and bust up the mausoleum or something.”

“Understood! We’ll be waiting!”

Now, then. Time to head to the film studio and treat ourselves to some cultural exchange.

Do Commies have culture, you ask? That’s a great question, but don’t worry. Even landlocked countries have navies, so theoretically, it wouldn’t be strange for Commies to have culture.






MARCH 16, UNIFIED YEAR 1926, ON THE STREET IN MOSKVA, THE FEDERATION

The praying voice rang out like a bell. It was like a believer who had been oppressed for so, so long in this land was now singing. A prayer in the official language of the Federation so the people would understand.

A voice that purifies the impure, praises the king of heaven, and celebrates the salvation of our souls.

Followed by the attack on Moskva.

It was such a calamity that even nonbelievers were forced to wonder if purgatory had appeared in their world.

It was simply too much to take in. A military and secret police counterattack against an army, especially a battalion of mages, would just end in a beatdown. It had taken only an instant to thoroughly pulverize the honor of the great country so proud of its power.

Thus, the Imperial Army boots energetically striking the square in front of the building where Loria had been working until just a bit ago.

The mausoleum where the leaders of the revolution were laid to rest had been detonated; the Kremlin, where the general secretary was holed up, had nearly fallen.

The Federation’s best had attempted to drive the enemy back, but their counterattack ended in crushing defeat. And their air defense positions proved that shooting blind was going to do about as much good as a papier-mâché tiger.

As far as Loria could tell, there were less than fifty enemies. So for a mage unit, that meant…about a battalion?

A mage battalion wasn’t that many people.

And yet…

That little group was wreaking havoc unchecked. It was enough to utterly stun anyone high up in the party organization.

And this was the Federation. Any country would have accountability issues, but…in the Federation it would end in a literal purge.

“Agh! What the hell…?”

Any normal person would see that the fact that Loria was looking at the sky, transfixed, spoke volumes to how serious the situation was.

The imperial soldiers calmly descended.

Before his eyes was an enemy unit carrying the imperial flag.

They all landed softly, beginning with the girl leading them. And the enemy commander with the courageous smile seemed, from where he was looking, to be no more than a child. Someone’s daughter was trampling the capital.

How could such a blunder happen before Loria’s very eyes? And in the capital with Josef himself present? If Loria was the one sowing unbounded fear as the administrator of the purges, then Josef was the one giving the execution orders.

When the leaders of the Federation Army heard that the capital had been attacked right in front of Josef and Loria, they all braced themselves for the doom to come.

Dozens of soldiers’ heads literally rolling? In the Federation, that would be considered a peaceful solution. The fact that Federation Army officers took their focus off the front lines, even for a moment, to worry about the political situation in the rear really spoke to how deeply the terror had been pounded into them.

“…Wonderful. How lovely.”

But Loria, feared by the Federation officers, currently felt…nothing akin to anger but rather joy. The words that spilled from his trembling lips as he gazed at the sky were pure and genuine.

Usually, he wore a strange, insincere smile that you might call the Communist grin. But now that mask had been torn off so entirely that he hesitantly expressed that most rare, pure, highest form of rapture.

The object of his gaze was the sweetest face tensed with conviction.

Just the thought of making her surrender drove Loria’s self-control to its limits.

The more he looked, the crazier he went. Seized by an indescribable emotion, he sensed that his mind was transforming in an indescribable way.

Oh, this is love at first sight.

He wanted her. He wanted to pin that little girl beneath him. Ahhh, I want to know I want to know so badly, I can’t take it. Loria had eyes for only her now. Nothing else mattered to him anymore.




“…I want her. I must have her. I’ve got to have her.”

He’d seen her. He’d found the object of his longing.

From now on, all others would look like puppets. He was sure of it. No one could replace her.

Her bold expression was as pretty as a picture. It was radiant even in the war-torn streets of Moskva. Even unadorned, she had a beauty that couldn’t be hidden.

And that voice, how charming! Her songlike prayer rang out like a soothing bell. Even singing the imperial anthem, her voice was magnificent.

I’ve got to make her gasp with that glorious voice.

Ah, no, that’s fine, but…maybe before that I could make her twist up that pretty face. Ooh, wait, it would also be great to make that dignified visage blush in pleasured embarrassment.

Agh, this is too much. I need her. I’m going to explode.

I must have her at any cost. He wanted to get his hands on her no matter what. He wouldn’t say he didn’t want power. But what a tiny, trivial urge that was compared to this one.

This was love.

“I will have her. Ah, yes, she will be mine.”

My perfect doll. Ah, I can’t wait. I’m so impatient I practically want to reach out to her right now. Brilliant; so this is romance. I’m so giddy, and at my age. Or perhaps restless? Anyhow, I’m sure this is what they mean about being unable to just sit still. I feel full of the drive and determination to overcome any struggle right now.

“I’ll stop at nothing. I don’t care what it takes. Yes, I’ll do anything.”

To reach his goal, he would stop at nothing. He wouldn’t even consider stopping. To have her, he would make a deal with any devil.

He would compromise with any political rival. He would make use of any dissidents. He wanted her so badly he would even spare the mages he’d sent to Sildberia for execution.

No, that’s exactly what I should do. If I can take her away, I don’t care who makes it happen, even if they’re a menace to the ideology.

Ah, soon. I want to pick that flower as soon as possible.





MARCH 17, UNIFIED YEAR 1926, THE COMMONWEALTH, LONDINIUM

The misfortune of others tastes sweet as honey. Or at least, personal suffering tastes like arsenic. But for once, in a truly rare occurrence, the heads of the Commonwealth’s government couldn’t revel in another country’s misery.

Well, not that they sympathized, but still.

“…There’s no mistake, then?”

The rasping question of the first lord of the admiralty contained an extraordinary amount of exhaustion. The navy had been prepping in high gear ever since the war started, but there were already skirmishes breaking out along the trade lines.

Maintaining those lines of commerce was chipping away at even the first lord’s tough psyche.

And then this report. He wanted to hole up in bed with a bottle of wine even though it wasn’t his fault that’s how bad the news was.

“Yes, sir, it’s the latest via the embassy.”

Of course, bearing such news, Intelligence was an unwelcome messenger. Anyone wants to welcome someone with good news, not bad. So rather than being timid, it’s better to be detached.

Having decided thusly, Major General Habergram of the Foreign Strategy Division worked to suppress his expression and drily gave the report.

An albeit small number of mage units had invaded and attacked Moskva. The first notice was an emergency report made by an Intelligence officer who had just been assigned to the embassy.

Imperial mages are circling over Moskva. The first time he heard it, he figured it was some kind of propaganda operation. Circling was for demonstration purposes.

Everyone marveled, thinking it was propaganda to boost morale and brag about their wins against the Federation marveled because they had managed to approach the capital of a country they were at war with.

“Moskva’s main government organizations have been thoroughly raided.”

But as things grew clearer, the wonder turned to fear and awe. It was supposedly just a small mage unit, but at some point, it became a regiment. Then it was multiple units that split up and charged simultaneously, and the incident was judged to be an actual attack rather than a demonstration.

What made it definite was the scale of the destruction.

According to personnel at the embassy in Moskva, at a minimum, the secret police and Revolution Square had been blasted to smithereens. They weren’t sure if it was true or not, but reports said an imperial flag had been planted in the square as well. At the same time, other unconfirmed reports came in, saying a huge attack had been carried out on the Kremlin and that it was driven to the brink of surrender.

The city was apparently in extreme panic, but because of that, details about the extent of the damage were unclear.

It was certain, however, that the perpetrators were imperial mages. Even if it was a regiment, that meant a hundred people at most. It was also possible to describe it as a penetrating sneak attack performed by a relatively small unit. That said, according to the report, the damage it dealt was intense.

This was where the tricky bit came in a nightmare for those in charge of defense: There was no guarantee that the Commonwealth would avoid the losses suffered by the Federation.

“We need to rethink our air defense.”

It was a bit late, but the officials had recognized how frail Londinium’s air defense was. The seawall was still in fine shape; no maritime invasion would be allowed. The Commonwealth Navy would protect its waters.

But unless they could chase off invaders from the sky, they didn’t mean a thing in this instance.

“Can we stop a regiment’s worth of enemy units?”

“I’m…not entirely sure if we could stop an invasion…”

Meanwhile, the faces of the army staffers being made to deal with the issue were one shade away from pale. Their air defense system, which really covered only the capital, at best, envisioned slow-flying bombers. They had built security positions, such as the radar sites on the southern edge of the mainland…but they weren’t designed with agile mages coming from afar on the scale of a regiment or a battalion in mind.

If, hypothetically, they were targeted in an attack on the scale of the one that happened in the east, it would be incredibly difficult to prevent an incursion of the skies over the capital.

And then what would happen? The Commonwealth would be exposed to the same disgrace as the Federation. The mere thought was horrific. And the staffers could see that they had no way to eliminate that possibility.

…And due to that realization, their moods plummeted.

“So we might be exposed to the same disgrace that befell the Federation?”

“At present, we can’t completely rule it out…”

That much goes without saying for everyone. With that irritation behind his fist, the prime minister pounded the table and cut off the complaints. What they needed were countermeasures.

“That’s fine. I want to hear how we’re going to deal with it.”

If there’s something you want, I’ll listen, so hurry up and tell me. If you don’t and anything happens, you’ll be the one taking full responsibility. Even a high-ranking military man must accept his fate and obediently list the necessary equipment when faced with a glare like that.

“Strengthening the air defense screen will be our highest priority. Additionally, we’d like to station fighter plane and mage units in a Homeland Defense Corps.”

And the chief of the General Staff switched gears with a promptness that could be described as ease. Just the other day, he’d been full of confidence, but changing his mind was the one thing he could do quickly.

Or perhaps I should say he has a talent for learning his lesson? That’s far better than the generals who stick to the classics and never learn. The prime minister decided to approve of him.

“But doing that will limit the number of troops we can send to the southern continent! The Inner Sea Fleet and the headquarters of the regional forces down there have submitted repeated, jointly signed requests.”

“We still have a strategic buffer region up until Areq. I don’t think there’s any reason to sacrifice ourselves for the Republic.”

The foreign secretary hurriedly protested, but the army’s response was indifferent. Well, from their perspective, they were obliged to be considerate of the Foreign Office. But that didn’t mean they had an obligation to accept this crisis threatening to seriously trample their honor.

The Foreign Office had its own position, its own reasons for bringing up the Free Republic’s constant requests for more reinforcements on the southern continent. The Free Republic wasn’t about to let its ally leave the battle lines and vice versa. The army also understood what was important. But the army had its own reasons and interests.

“I agree, but that can only work so well.”

The one who chimed in with a slight additional reservation was from the naval staff. Hearing the comment, everyone recalled that the navy staff had a good impression of the combined forces of the Inner Sea Fleet and the remnants of the Republican Fleet.

At the very least, they wanted to maintain the strategic buffer region to some extent in order to protect the canal and the colonies. To that end, it would be best if they could have the remnants of the Republic continue fighting, whatever state they were in.

…Well, this train of thought is why the Republic hates us. Of course, it goes both ways.

“Conversely, what if we tried the same thing?”

Let’s change the subject. That must have been the chancellor of the exchequer’s thought. He proposed looking at the issue from a different angle with a flexible suggestion.

“…Indeed. I don’t think it’s a bad idea, myself, but…”

He’s thrown out a lifeline, so I should take it. With that thought, he decided to include it in the debate.

“It seems difficult. Even just from what we know of their positioning, the Imperial Army has three battalions of mages in the capital.”

But the army’s reply was immediate. From the looks of it, they had considered the same idea but not proposed it because they had already reached that conclusion.

“…What a grand welcome.”

“It appears to be the instructor unit, the technical arsenal, and a battalion of replacement recruits.”

They seem to have an awful lot of fighting power to spare. The First Lord of the Admiralty heaved a sigh in spite of himself, representative of all the officials’ growing distaste. Even though it made sense for those units to be in the capital, they couldn’t help but lament their presence and wonder why it had to be that way.

“We can assume the instructor unit will have real competence. Regardless of what would happen if we were met by the recruits, if the instructor unit intercepted, we wouldn’t be able to break through with equal numbers.”

On top of that came Intelligence’s nail in the coffin. From what the reports said, the instructor unit was made up of the elites of the elite. Though it didn’t appear on the front lines very often, its members were all experienced veterans, so they were used to combat.

On the contrary, since they weren’t exhausted, analysis indicated they would be even stronger than any random unit.

“Isn’t that why we’d make it a sneak attack?”

It was a bit late in the discussion, but the chancellor of the exchequer raised a question. Certainly, that was the point of a sneak attack. Since the Empire’s attack on the Federation could be classified broadly as something akin to a sneak attack, then there was a chance, wasn’t there?

That was the gist of the question.

That said, the comment was from a civilian.

“Because of the Battle of the Rhine, the Empire already has anti–air warning lines on the former Rhine front. It would be extremely difficult to get through their interception screen without being detected.”

If you know even a little about the Battle of the Rhine in other words, if you consider that any soldier would know about the defensive positions on those fronts then you know that it would be hard to pull off a sneak attack.

The warning screens on the Rhine were so tight that even the Imperial Army had to attempt to brute force their way through rather than sneak attack. Just because the Empire already won on the Rhine front didn’t mean they were required to abandon their defensive positions.

If anything, they’ve probably stuck fast to their warning lines. General Habergram has actually performed repeated inspections and never found a hole. In that case, it would be nearly impossible to get through without being detected.

At that point, it might actually be more worthwhile to purposely engage the warning lines in a harassment attack. They could get support from the navy and send in marine mages, but the chance of success was deemed low.

In any case, it was out of the question to subject the fleet to enemy air superiority in enemy territory. And considering how valuable marine mages were, it was too big a risk.

Well, they didn’t even have to think about that, because there was no way the navy could be pulled off the front lines anyway.

“It is each service’s conclusion that it would be too difficult for us to attack.”

In the end, all the Commonwealth could do was buy time and build up its strength for a counteroffensive. They didn’t want to admit it, but if the Empire and the Federation didn’t crush each other, the Commonwealth might not get its chance for quite a while. You could say the situation was rather uncomfortable.

“…All right. How should we handle the Federation?”

But in that case, a war of attrition between the Empire and the Federation was an absolute necessity. Annoyingly, the Empire had already shaken things up quite a bit with its attack on the Federation capital. The Federation would have to station many troops in the rear for defense, which meant their activities on the main lines against the Empire would be limited.

That was the biggest reason the Commonwealth couldn’t delight in the Federation’s misfortune.

“It seems they’ve already reassigned units to defend the capital.”

In other words, loyal and decently competent troops had been diverted from some other place. The Commonwealth would much rather have had them on the main lines fighting the Imperial Army to the death.

“The imperial units that participated in the attack have already withdrawn.”

“The Federation is being vague, but it seems the units they sent in pursuit were either shaken off or downed.”

“We’re of the same opinion. Intelligence has concluded that contact was lost.”

And the fact that the units that participated in the attack retreated safely indicated the possibility of a reoccurrence. There was a fear that the elites of the Imperial Army would strike a capital again.

A despotic nation like the Federation would definitely not allow the same thing to happen twice. It would do too much harm to the nation’s political and military authority.

They certainly didn’t imagine the Federation military officers were itching to literally send their own heads rolling. Naturally, they would be burdened with operational restrictions and end up with tons of idle soldiers.

On top of that, the news that the Imperial Army attacked Moskva and then leisurely returned to base would boost imperial morale without a doubt. Considering there was no way the Commonwealth’s morale would rise, that was something else to be cautious of.

“Can we control the information?”

“A cover-up would be futile. Every pub is already buzzing with the news that Moskva has been trampled under Imperial Army boots.”

The story had already made too big an impact to try to regulate the information now. The men Habergram had dispatched to pubs were reporting back with all sorts of stories about how the Empire invaded.

For instance: The Imperial Army calmly flew through the sky over Moskva singing the imperial anthem and raised their flag in triumph.

For instance: The Imperial Army kicked down the red flag on land that commemorated the revolution and planted an imperial flag there instead.

For instance: The Imperial Army raided a film distribution center and burned all the red flags in revenge.

For instance: The Imperial Army shouted that they were opposed to the cult of personality and blew up the tomb of the revolutionary leaders.

For instance: The Imperial Army destroyed the secret police and the cult of personality to avoid another revolution.

For instance: The Imperial Army is withdrawing “forward” with its tail between its legs, as reported by the Federation media.

For instance: The Imperial Army even took a commemorative photo at the Kremlin.

For instance: The Imperial Army plans to screen the film They Don’t Believe in Tears as a form of cultural exchange or something of the sort.

Upon inquiry, it turned out that latter rumor was an ironic take on a saying: “No one will help you even if you cry.” In other words, it was the Empire’s dark mockery of the serially distressed Federation with its beaten pride or whatnot.

Apparently, the Empire’s raid was magnificent enough to leave a bitter taste in General Habergram’s mouth. By tomorrow, there would be jokes going around about the imperial and Federation forces. It goes without saying, but the citizens of the Commonwealth would never forgive them if they got mixed up in such an idiotic situation.

They all knew that.

Mainland defense had to come before cooperation with their allies.

“…Get me the Free Republic’s foreign affairs chap. Either way, we need to consider how to handle this.”

It was the prime minister who spoke. Certainly, his awareness of his responsibility and willingness to take initiative showed grace. His well-bred spirit of taking responsibility as one in charge required it of him.

“I feel bad for General de Lugo, but it’s clear that we must prioritize mainland defense. With this change in the situation, there’s nothing else we can do.”

If they had troops to defend the canal, then they had troops to send home. That decision was sure to breed opposition in the Free Republic. But if they didn’t do it, the Commonwealth mainland was liable to get attacked. If that happened, the war would be over.

“That’s the truth. Although just the question of who should be the one to tell him is depressing.”

…Well, yes, the diplomat charged with delivering the message would feel abysmal. At least, to the Commonwealth diplomats, it was like a seed of trouble being sowed. Of course, there was also the rational view that the beautiful, trusting relationship between the two countries couldn’t come to an end from this trifling incident. That is to say, things were always this way.






MARCH 18, UNIFIED YEAR 1926, IMPERIAL ARMY GENERAL STAFF OFFICE

The men had pained faces.

Their clenched fists and distressed expressions spoke vividly to the intense worries tormenting them internally. Everyone was having extreme difficulties understanding how this could have happened.

It was a scene that brought to mind the sorrow of patriots informed their country has been defeated. It was like the almost peaceful, distant pathos of soldiers whose dreams have been shattered. So moving one could almost cry.

And…

Right next to the men immersed in their lamentations, striking a contrast with their grave mood, were people madly cheering.

They were all commending the Imperial Army for this great, historic deed. They expressed their support for the bold act of nailing the enemy capital as retaliation for the unilateral declaration of war.

Those on the far right, who normally shrieked about the army’s kid gloves, praised them to the heavens. Meanwhile, on the far left, those who usually criticized the military were rendered speechless by the mighty achievement.

“An imperial special ops unit has attacked Moskva.”

That one report sent the people into a frenzy. No, the feat itself was intoxicating.

But that was why that was precisely why the General Staff was stunned and troubled by the whole thing.

“Request for permission to attack out of consideration for political factors.”

There was a decisive difference in the understanding of those words between Major von Degurechaff and the General Staff. When the General Staff gave her permission, the most they had had in mind was a threat.

After all, it was a country’s capital city. As a target for a distracting raid, it was more significant than most. So why not do it as a feint?

Would it be misleading to say that was how lightly they took it? In any case, the most they envisioned was a flyby demonstration. Half the staffers had doubts it would even be possible to invade the capital at all.

Meanwhile, Major von Degurechaff’s actions could only be called ruinous. Her battalion entered the airspace over the capital. That alone would have given the Federation considerable internal political issues. Well, if that had been all, it would have been good propaganda, and that would have been the end of it.

Yes, if that had been all.

A raid on a country’s capital.

The political hub, the secret police headquarters, a political symbol all crushed or otherwise damaged; a triumphant flying of their nation’s flag. And on top of that, they sang the national anthem in the enemy capital, followed by three cheers, and even took a commemorative photo with equipment they scrounged up somewhere.

When she had reported that they had burned multiple red flags in pursuit of decent footage, they didn’t understand what she meant.

Oh, but apparently, Major von Degurechaff herself brandished a camera and made a commemorative film. Perhaps just in terms of appearance, a little girl holding a camera is a heartwarming sight, but for reasons that go without saying, none of the General Staff officers found their hearts even a little warm.

Rather, they felt something difficult to describe as if the camera had been weaponized.

“…I never expected her to go this far. Or that she could even be capable of this much, I should say…”

Having received the report, Lieutenant General von Zettour looked unwell. No, it’s probably more accurate to say he was deathly pale. Thinking back on it, he recalled she had always been staunchly anti-Federation.

She argued more strongly than anyone when it came to total war that the Reds should be eliminated and their espionage protected against.

Not only that, she had been one of those sounding the traditional alarm against a two-front war. Her dogma was clear: If there was a chance to crush one side, then the other side should be thoroughly knocked out as well. Interior lines strategy and the strategy Major von Degurechaff called “attract and annihilate” had both been quite effective against the Republic.

But that’s exactly why… Given a strategically free hand, what should the Empire do? If charged with answering that question, there was no doubt that Major von Degurechaff would launch a comprehensive strike on the Federation. But, it should be said, she had checked about political concerns.

Thanks to which, she carried out unbridled destruction, beating the Federation’s pride into a pulp and burying it.

In a nutshell, she overdid it.

“…There’s no doubt it’s a great success. A direct attack on an enemy capital probably deserves a first-class order from the General Staff, but the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion has clearly gone overboard. They’re competent, but they’re also incorrigible troublemakers.”

A direct attack on an enemy country’s capital. That plus the albeit temporary raising of the imperial flag on its soil is a first-rate military achievement. And so thorough that the commander of the battalion even took up a camera to document it.

At least they certainly achieved their original objectives of boosting morale and providing a distraction.

“Do we have a plan for reconciliation?”

“…You think it’s possible to grope around for one under these circumstances? Supreme Command is grumbling that the Foreign Office won’t even be able to meet with them in a neutral country.”

“I bet.”

To the General Staff, who was hoping for a swift end, this was the worst possible news. Not only that, but any chance of negotiating toward an end to the war with the Federation Army, with whom it previously had a close relationship, had been completely obliterated in the span of just a few days.

They had taken an opponent who valued honor above all else and not only made them lose face but trampled their dignity underfoot.

The imperial subjects erupted in cheers, but even the applause gave the General Staff a headache. It wasn’t the right mood for talking about peace; some voices even called on them to force the Federation to surrender.

What would have already been a difficult negotiation was now virtually impossible to realize. In chess terms, it was like being checkmated from the beginning.

“Speaking on behalf of Intelligence, I conclude that the chances of peace in the foreseeable future are nonexistent.”

It felt a little late in the discussion, but sounding somewhat resigned, Intelligence wrapped up its analysis of the situation. With this, all the hard work of the diplomats who had told them to concentrate on holding the border while they tried to find a solution was essentially meaningless even though the army had been, until just the other day, reiterating that it would defend the borders.

“From Operations, I imagine things on the main lines will ease up somewhat, but we’ll face extremely fierce resistance once we break through.”

“The Service Corps is forced to worry that the Federation pressure on neutral countries will increase.”

In purely tactical terms, it was a great success. It was certainly more than enough of a distraction to support the main lines. But from a strategic standpoint, the Imperial Army General Staff ended up squirming in agony as the result of a raid they themselves authorized.

The Federation Army would approach this war as if its honor depended on it. No, their whole nation would. In a way, an entire second front had opened up while the Empire was already fighting the Republican remnants and the Commonwealth.

“Intelligence agrees. Additionally, the influence of the Empire-friendly faction has drastically declined, and it’s hampering our ability to gather intelligence.”

The Empire-friendly faction that had been steadily growing would probably be completely uprooted and purged.

There was no hope for friendship with the Federation anymore.

“…So, what’ll we do? I can’t imagine there’s a plan to attack them?”

Naturally, the solution would be to knock out the Federation. But how in the world would they do that? The Federation was so vast that any decent officer would be forced to consider logistics.

And the place was crawling with anti-Empire nationalists. The Imperial Army was liable to bleed out simply attempting to secure its supplies.

“Utterly out of the question. That alone would cause the supply lines to collapse.”

That remark summed up the consensus of all the staffers who were present. That’s precisely why they didn’t want to get into it with the Federation in the first place. They even warned all the regional armies to be prudent and not do anything to provoke it.

“…But the die is cast.”

Yes. They’d been forced into a stage from which there was no return. The Empire would surely pay a huge price for that tiny victory.

“I suppose we should try to encircle and annihilate them in the east, too, bleeding them out. What else can we do?”

When Degurechaff gets back, I’m going to throttle her, vowed Colonel von Lergen internally as he looked to General von Zettour for a decision.

Either way, we don’t have many choices.

She really is a mad dog. No, a mad lion.

With those thoughts in his mind, Lergen looked drearily down at his proposal that had just been approved.

A huge war… A war that will only grow bigger and bigger. He shuddered at the thought that they had just rushed headlong into its second act.

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OVERLORD, VOLUMEN 14, La bruja del Reino caido

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Un transporte del Reino hechicero ha sido ataco por los nobles del reino de Re-Estize. ¿Acaso fue una casualidad o se trata de un plan enemigo?
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Tabla de Contenido

Prologo
Parte 1
Parte 2
Parte 3
Capítulo 1: Un movimiento inesperado
Parte 1-2
Parte 3
Parte 4
Parte 5
Parte 6
Parte 7
Parte 8
Capítulo 2: El principio del fin
Parte 1
Parte 2
Parte 3
Parte 4
Parte 5
Parte 6
Parte 7
Parte 8
Parte 9
Capítulo 3: El último rey
Parte 1
Parte 2
Parte 3
Parte 4
Parte 5 Capítulo 4: Una trampa que atrapa todo Parte 1 Parte 2 Parte 3 Par…

Overlord, Volumen 14, Capitulo 4, Parte 6

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Overlord, Volumen 14, Capitulo 4, Parte 7

Climb era impotente ante las amenazas de Evileye.
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