Youjo Senki, Volumen 4, Capitulo 5

Chapter V, The Battle of Dodobird


Cloudy with a chance of mages.

The Imperial Army mage units taking off from a base in the former Republic, now under military government, and flying all the way to Londinium for some sightseeing are used to rain mixed with plasma. If they get hit over enemy land, the best they can hope for when they fall is to be captured. If they don’t fall well, it’s either getting lynched or receiving a joyous double promotion on impact.

And since mages are considered “fighting power” even once they’re downed, if they don’t do a hell of a job of surrendering, they’ll be quickly crushed by the militia rushing to the scene. Ever since that tragic truth was confirmed, imperial mages have loathed being shot down in enemy territory.

And among the units covering the west, the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion reporting directly to the General Staff universally recognized as the elites of the elite is no exception.

“This area is clear! All units, gather up! Regroup!”

The battalion commander, Major Tanya von Degurechaff, is also such an excellent aerial mage in her own right that she’s listed among the Named. After a fight with an enemy unit, she raises her voice to call her troops together.

“Fairy 01 to all units! Report your losses.”

“Major, the battalion has finished regrouping. No one’s missing. Only a few light shot wounds; they won’t interfere with further combat.”

Good. Nodding at Vice Commander Captain Weiss’s report, Tanya continues with a call to start heading back. “Let’s go back while we have the energy! Watch out for any creeps following us home!”

“Roger that.”

“Back on the Rhine front, we only had to fly a few minutes to be accommodated by friendly troops, but…now we have the Dodobird Strait below us. I’m no good at long-distance swimming, and I don’t feel like paddling home through waters swarming with enemy ships and planes.”

Captain Weiss nods as if he understands. As he flies off to directly supervise the watch at the rear, Tanya glances at her subordinates First Lieutenants Grantz and Serebryakov and thinks to herself, In terms of ability, Grantz isn’t bad…but unfortunately the group that joined us on the Rhine doesn’t have anti-ship combat experience.

It would be more convenient to have my adjutant nearby. But Tanya accepts unavoidable reality. A safe return route is more important than a little discomfort.

“Lieutenant Serebryakov, I’m leaving the unit to you. Lead ’em home.”

“Y-yes, ma’am! Understood.”

“Vice Commander! Be careful out there in the rear!”

“Never fear, Commander! I am a radical heterosexualist, and I am prepared to die for my beliefs!”

“Faith is all well and good, but we’re warriors of God… Er, never mind.”

“Are you tired, Major?”

“Don’t worry about it, Lieutenant Serebryakov. We’re going back to base. I don’t want to hang around after a force recon mission that ended in an aerial annihilation battle and get creeps sent after us.”


“…I can’t believe I actually said that,” she spits, full of hatred. To Tanya von Degurechaff, the world is just too absurd hence her desire to keep at least her mind resolutely noble.

Yet, the minimum line, my mind, won’t do what I want it to. Having my mind manipulated is an intolerable torment. I am myself. I am the only one who can stop someone else from interfering with my will.

“I… Me? Of all people? I nearly praised Being X. Shit, how long are you going to undermine humans before you’re happy?”

That’s why this is so unforgivable. If I relax, my psychological contamination can cause me to praise Being X as God. On the battlefield, where the abnormality of war becomes normal, my psyche is corroded by the Elinium Type 95 against my will.

But Tanya’s melancholy is forcibly booted out of her brain by Weiss’s message over the wireless. “Fairy 02 to Fairy 01! We’ve got silhouettes approaching from six o’clock! Judging from the speed and altitude, they’re fighter planes! They’re coming in at full speed!”

The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion is mid-withdrawal. An aerial unit rapidly approaches from behind. Like the pieces of a puzzle snapping into place, Tanya’s thoughts are overwritten with those of an anti–air unit commander.

No matter what they do, aerial mages are slower than aircraft. Trying to outrun or outclimb a plane as a human, you are fundamentally doomed to lose. The only area in which mages are superior is tricky 3-D maneuvers.

“01 to all units! Drop altitude! Hug the surface of the water! Give me some perfect 3-D maneuvers! In the worst case, you can dive into the sea and ambush them! Prepare to dump your heavy gear”

“C-Commander! Please wait!” Weiss interrupts Tanya’s orders to drop down and cast off heavy gear, sounding somewhat frantic. “We’ve received confirmation that the formation approaching from six o’clock is a friendly air force unit on their way back to base!”

“Fairy 01, roger. Everyone, it’s as you heard. No need to drop your gear. Let’s head back together.”

Tanya was wondering what was going on, but when the confirmation comes back, it’s unexpectedly good news. Glancing at the formation coming into view, she sees that they must have ID’d her battalion as well.

The formation that had been coming in at full combat speed, as if to engage, banks to show off the identification marks on its hazy, camouflaged wings and moves smoothly into a route flying parallel to the mages.

“Friendlies? Until I saw your identification signal, I was scared half to death you were enemy marine mages on patrol. Don’t do that to me my heart can’t take it.”

“This is Fairy 01. Your cold remarks are about to make me cry. We were afraid we had some hungry wolves on our asses!”

“Ha-ha-ha! You guys, afraid? Was that supposed to be a joke, Fairy 01? This is Mosquito 01. We’re happy to meet up with elites like yourselves again.”

The two commanders greet each other over the wireless per battlefield etiquette. But partway through, Tanya realizes that she remembers Mosquito 01’s unit.

The Rhine is where Tanya has spent the most time. Because of that, though it’s only a matter of having overlapping mission areas, she’s familiar with units in the west. The connection between units who were uprooted and mobilized to respond to the Republic’s sneak attack is particularly strong.

“Mosquito 01, you say? Then we haven’t been together since the Rhine, huh?”

If she remembers correctly, they’re part of the Western Army Group’s 103rd Fighter Wing. As one of the people pressed into responding, Tanya remembers nearly all the units on the battlefield at the time, if only their names. This one, she recalls, had been praised multiple times during the Empire and Republic’s fierce battle for air supremacy.

And given the speed and formation with which they were approaching when her battalion assumed they were enemies, they must have maintained their level of discipline from that time. There are many tough old hands on the western front, to be sure.

“What a coincidence. But with this difference in altitude… Oh, but you guys always could fly at this height, huh? I wondered if maybe we should fly lower and support you.”

“No need to worry.”

An aerial mage flying fairly fast goes about a fighter plane’s cruising speed. Tanya’s not averse to hurrying home, so she has her unit reorganize themselves for the way back. After that, nothing particularly notable happens. Once she’s taken care of post-arrival meetings and reminded her subordinates to turn in their combat documents, Tanya glances up at the clock on the wall and nods.

Grantz is fretting and moaning over his paperwork, while Weiss and Serebryakov get through theirs efficiently. I suppose I should have the two who have finished do something else.

“Captain Weiss, Lieutenant Serebryakov! Let’s thank our friends who accompanied us on that pleasant ramble today. I want the two of you to go pop in on the Western Army Group’s 103rd Fighter Wing. Use some battalion funds to arrange a modest gift.”

“Understood. Are you coming along, Major?”

“Sorry, but I’ve got a commanders meeting. Apparently, we’ve sighted a Unified States mage unit, so there’s an urgent joint playbook conference.”

After all, we were sent here as a combat skills research unit. Tanya winces. When someone new comes on the scene, the way we do combat needs to be reexamined. A person with experience on all fronts is handy to have around.

When people like what you do and have high expectations, you have no choice but to work hard.

“We’re a special verification unit, part instructor unit, part combat unit. We report directly to the General Staff, so of course they run us around according to their convenience.”

“I have no doubt. Very well, Lieutenant Serebryakov and I will take charge of diplomacy with the 103rd Fighter Wing. We’ll try to hear a bit about how their battles went, as well.”

“Great. Oh, what will you do with the rest of your work?”

Both Weiss and Serebryakov have gotten quite proficient in cumbersome post-combat reports under Tanya. Well, it was mainly a matter of increasing the types of forms they could fill in so they got used to producing a large number of various patterns, but still.

“Grantz is staying behind, so we’ll leave it up to him.”

“…Understood.” Grantz responded gloomily to Weiss, like an officer who had just been given hopeless combat orders.

He’s so wet behind the ears. As far as Tanya can tell, it’s not that he doesn’t have aptitude…just that he’s missing the concept of working efficiently.

Should he be praised as an earnest youth or cursed as clumsy? No, frankly, he’s just inept as far as administrative work goes. If Tanya had her way, she would like to get a veteran with the know-how, but…people are scarce.

Since she has no choice but to use who she has, all she can do is encourage Grantz.

“Be glad you’ve grown as an officer to the point where you can be entrusted with the rest of the work!”

“Th-thank you!”

She doesn’t really get paid quite enough to play the part of the hard-ass superior with a kind heart, but keeping her own workload from increasing is another reason for Tanya to train Grantz into someone she can use, so she cheers him on with an I’m counting on you.

Then she announces that she’s heading to the commanders meeting, manages to find a way to get her oversize hat neatly on top of her head, and has a brief word with her adjutant as she accepts her bag from her. “Lieutenant Serebryakov, do you have a moment?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Lieutenant Grantz isn’t as good at this sort of work as you. When you get back from the party, don’t help him.” Tanya tells her she must be tired and that she should get whatever rest she needs after meeting with the fighter wing.

“Understood, Major, but may I ask why? If Captain Weiss and I don’t help him…I have the feeling he’ll have to stay up all night.”

“That’s fine. Lieutenant Serebryakov, this sounds like something an old person would say, and I don’t really like the words as such, but…young people should be made to suffer.”


At the point Serebryakov repeats, “Y-young people must…suffer?” back at her with an uncomprehending look, it hits Tanya. Ah, she probably thinks I’m the type to force my subordinates to believe that all you need is grit. I spooked her. She realizes she needs to explain.

“…Don’t look at me like that. It’s not like I’m saying where there’s a will, there’s a way.” She smiles and reassures Serebryakov that it’s precisely because they’re an investigative research unit that they are allowed to make mistakes. “The experience of failure is essential in improving coping ability. If we don’t kick Grantz into a bit of a ravine while we have the flexibility to deal with it now, who knows when we’ll get another chance?”

“Oh yes, I see what you mean.”

“I’m delighted to have this freedom to cultivate my men. Oh, and I should mention, Lieutenant, that this get-together with the 103rd Fighter Wing isn’t going to be easy. Since we report directly to the General Staff, our command chain is too different from theirs. I want to take good care of our lateral relationships.”

Lamenting that they must always be tossed from one front to another, Tanya adds that on the battlefield, the bonds you can trust the most are those of friendship.

“You’re right. On the Rhine front, we all knew one another.”

“As we experienced in Norden, we’re the parachute for when things go wrong. I don’t want to be the ones with the short end of the stick, and I don’t want to screw up due to poor coordination.”

“Yes, ma’am. Leave it to us.”

Tanya pats Serebryakov’s shoulder with a “Go get ’em” and whispers to Weiss, who is standing next to her. “Captain Weiss, take Lieutenant Serebryakov and pay them a nice visit. They don’t like being interviewed, but she’s a veteran of the Rhine and cute besides.”

Other units hate the investigation groups because they are always trying to conduct pointless interviews when everyone is busy. Well, duh. Consultants tend to make mistakes. Some of them can actually do the work, but there are way too many who get paid to spout impracticable bullshit.

If you cooperate with the interview and the results get twisted and a patchwork collage of cherry-picked quotes is presented as some kind of conclusion, it’s no wonder no one wants to participate.

But Tanya has to take it seriously.

“We’ve been charged with the big job of combat skill research. Data, Captain. I want you to get data from the field, no matter what it takes.”

What happened is that when she took advantage of the inquiry they conducted on her to tell Lieutenant General von Zettour she wanted to work in the rear, she’d been denied the placement. That said, Tanya isn’t too upset about that. She knew it would be difficult to get stationed in the rear.

The compromise was a temporary assignment to the less harsh western lines. On the whole, she’s satisfied with this. Happiest of all, their mission is combat skill research. And she was promised that after the duration has elapsed, her results will determine where she gets sent next.

Which is why Tanya is instructing Weiss so earnestly: I need you to do a good job.

“Teach them that we’re better interviewers than those idiots in the rear. Tell them we require data for analysis based on reality.”

The men in the fray have a tendency to be skeptical of the ability of those in the rear to do a proper survey.

And understandably so. I’ve read articles on the trends and omissions in the business models consultants recommend, and they were spot-on. Most of them basically just unquestioningly evangelize popular models. The army’s investigation teams have a hard time escaping that bad reputation.

Furthermore, people who don’t know what it’s like in the field can’t understand voices from it. Sadly, there are too many good-for-nothings who convince themselves that it can’t be true and analyze war regardless.

“Of course, with your quick wits, I have high expectations.”

“Ha-ha, you flatter me, ma’am. But thank you.”

“I’m serious. Looking forward to your report.”

Between talented, respectful professionals and guys with big heads, there are some things only the former understand. That’s why she’s sending two soldiers with combat experience going back to the Rhine front to socialize and exchange information.

Tanya genuinely feels that if anyone can do it, Weiss can. He and Serebryakov are sure to be able to do a proper survey.

Combat commanders don’t have a moment to waste, so they get right to the point. Since time is finite, they can dispense with politeness, and their topic of discussion is the confirmed newcomers.

“To sum up what we know, it seems a regiment-size voluntary force of mages is being deployed with some degree of rapidity.”


Pressed for an explanation, a specialist elaborates on a serpentine legal argument, to which Tanya listens with great interest, hmming, but the other officers take it poorly.

And in conclusion? They urge him on, and he exhibits that hesitation unique to someone trying to evade blame two or three times before finally spitting it out. “They appear to be citizens of the Unified States under Commonwealth command.”

“So? What’s important to us is which army they belong to. Are they Unified States Army or Commonwealth Army?”

As soldiers, the commanders have to be most interested in whether the mages can be considered enemies under the rules of engagement.

“…According to precedent and legal principle, they could be seen as enlisted in a country’s regular military. So if they take orders from the Commonwealth, then they aren’t Unified States Army,” the legal specialist responds timidly, suddenly the focus of attention.

With the comment that troops obeying military orders from the Commonwealth can be considered Commonwealth Army, the combat commanders murmur, It’s decided, then.

But the legal specialists seem to have something they are hesitating to say. Realizing it would be unwise to miss hearing the experts’ concerns, Tanya asks for additional explanation to keep the conversation flowing.

The officer nods numerous times as if to thank her, but then brings up a worry that is out of the blue even for Tanya: regulations regarding the treatment of prisoners.

Basically, the Empire isn’t at war with the Unified States, so the rules aren’t clear about how to handle prisoners.

But as far as Tanya knows, nationality is based not on the soldiers’ heritage but their military affiliation.

The French Foreign Legion had French soldiers who were not from France. Or what about American green-card soldiers? They’re also legally American soldiers.

“Are you saying we should be careful taking prisoners because the terms are vague? Could you explain why we can’t just treat them as Commonwealth soldiers?”

In order to not get caught up in a war-crime mess, Tanya adheres as best she can to the law.

Which is precisely why she’s not satisfied with their response.

Not that there haven’t been times when nationality became an issue, but…honestly, in this situation, she can’t see why country of origin need be taken into account.

“As far as I know, as long as someone meets the four qualifications of belligerents, their nationality doesn’t matter. If they were irregular combatants, then the question would come up, but…”

Tanya’s doubt is a sensible one about the rules and regulations of war. Under her expectant gaze, the expert glances around, seeking help for just a moment before letting a resigned sigh slip out. “The Unified States’ official stance…is that although we’re not actually at war, they’d like to send in a humanitarian watch group to collect info on prisoners and injured from both sides.”

It’s a pretext that rightly causes everyone in the meeting to smirk.

“Well, that’s the definition of shameless. Are they serious?”

“Hmm! That’s the question, isn’t it?”

They couldn’t help but be a bit disparaging in their exchange because surely the States were kidding. It’s such an absurd reason even Tanya finds herself casting aspersions. Sending in a humanitarian watch group to protect your citizens when the two countries aren’t even at war?

I’m pretty sure it’s the embassy’s job to take care of their citizens.

And boy, a neutral country that dispatches personnel who get caught by a warring state and then butts in because they’re our citizens is neutral in an awfully technical sense of the word.

I’m sure this neutral state is as “kind” as Stalin, as much of an “honest broker” as Bismarck, and as “good” as Fouché, the bastards.

“It’s a proposal that’s got our dear General Staff officers grinding their teeth. They’re essentially declaring an intervention. It’s definitely fishy.”

“An enemy has arrived. Isn’t that all that matters for our job?”

“Without a doubt.”

The wryly smiling officers prefer a simple narrative: All we have to do is shoot them. Ignoring the dejected legal specialists, they begin to get excited about just whacking the newcomers as enemies.

And actually, Tanya admits that they have a point. Shoot the enemy. No further argument is needed, and their belief that other arguments shouldn’t even be broached speaks to their faithfulness to their duty.

They are soldiers and warriors.

“Well, politics is for the bigwigs and the government to handle. It’s not clear when the Supreme Command will have a decision, but we need to take care of the enemies in front of us.”

Some voices hear-hear, but Tanya furrows her brow.

The view of the Imperial Army combat commanders in the west is correct for someone in the field. The problem is that as far as Tanya knows, awakening the Unified States would be a bad idea. She can understand the General Staff’s delicate, we don’t want to provoke them stance to a painful degree.

No, understanding it doesn’t make her feel better. But she can’t approve of dragging a political mess onto the battlefield.

“Can we declare them enemies? Don’t you think if we engage, the fact that the imperials attacked first would be used as anti-Empire propaganda for the public in neutral countries and the Unified States?”

Tanya points out the possibility in spite of herself, her tone urging caution. Thinking of Churchill hoping for a Pearl Harbor, it’s simple. The Commonwealth, and of course the Entente Alliance, the Grand Duchy, the Republic all the countries fighting against the Empire are all fervently hoping the Unified States will intervene.

So surely you can say they are desperate for any excuse.

“It’s a tricky situation, huh?”

“But conversely, couldn’t we take advantage of it, too? If one of ours was dropped by those pests, we could bang down the embassy’s door about the unfortunate victim.”

It’s only natural that some of them would start to say, Well, if the enemy can do it, why can’t we?

But perhaps it should be said.

No decent commander has a mental makeup that would allow for such a victim.

…At least, not at this point.

“That’s about enough of that. The slightly stronger language was inappropriate.”

Several people’s comments, that it wouldn’t do to count their subordinates as statistics, spoke to the prevailing view.

“Commanders in the field don’t need to be thinking about that. All we need is the fact that there is a regiment of aerial mages under Commonwealth command out there trying to keep us from securing air supremacy.”

“So then?”

“No changes. Tomorrow and thereafter, we follow the same plan we had and continue the annihilation battle. But increase the expected enemy count. We need to be aware of the worst-case possibility that there are Unified States voluntary forces.”

In the end, they decide we’ll handle things with the understanding that there are newcomers to the battlefield a boring, exceedingly admin notice–like conclusion.

“Overall, I have no objections, but may I say one thing?”

“What is it, Major von Degurechaff?”

“This is a suggestion, since we’re the investigative research unit under the General Staff, but couldn’t we prioritize taking out the Unified States’ voluntary army?”

“…You mean take the initiative and go after it?”

Yes. She nods and continues. “We’re not familiar with that country’s doctrine. It would be good to check them out and collect some data.”

Actually, the usage of mage units is quite different among countries. Since the Rhine, the Imperial Army’s mage policy has progressed from using them as support for infantry to using them on their own more often, but the Republican Army has always been using mages for strikes in special units.

In the Entente Alliance, which isn’t a very useful reference, they were all in composite units, so a lot depended on the quality and personality of the commander. But it is worth mentioning that they tended to use mages more for aerial operations. You could think of it as reinforcing their air force, which was somewhat lacking in muscle.

“What we want to know is how Commonwealth mage units are used and how they fight. So I think confirming whether the voluntary army works the same as the units we already know will be useful.”

The Imperial Army has been fighting the Commonwealth in the west and south already… They figured out, albeit belatedly, that the army and navy have very different usage patterns.

In their army, mages are assumed to work jointly with other branches of the forces as essentially flying infantry, while in the navy, they’re worked hard as an independent branch.

Which is how you get things like attack squads dispatched from submarines, boarding parties between ships, close air support for marines, and so on. Commonwealth marine mages are tough even individually not the type the Imperial Army wants to wrangle with.

“It’s only natural, but I still wonder whether the voluntary forces being sent to the Commonwealth will be used according to regular Unified States doctrine.”

“Right. But I think we can expect some secondary repercussions either way.”

When Tanya gets looks that ask what specifically, she makes a definite assertion. “The Unified States is not going to declare war on the Empire in the current situation. But the facts have gradually stacked up to show that there are actors who want it to participate on the anti-Empire side.”

The Unified States will hit us eventually.

Which is why, Tanya continues.

“In that case, one way to deal with it might be to show in no uncertain terms what the result of an escalation would be.”

“That’s an idea worth considering. What do you think?”

But the officers appear unable to reply to such an abrupt request. They think for a bit.

“I believe the proposal is too politically oriented. Our strategic objective is to secure air supremacy over Dodobird Strait. We shouldn’t deviate from that. Most importantly, any proposal that would allow the Commonwealth units long stretches to recuperate would clash with our objective.”

“Mm, I think we need to consider this on the grand strategy level. If you think that we could really deter the Unified States from intervening, then Major von Degurechaff’s proposal is quite a keen insight.”

Both the for and against arguments are reasonable. It’s true that the units in the west have only been told to secure air supremacy over the strait. With those clear orders, deviation won’t be allowed.

Air superiority is essential to the strategy. The sticking point is that Degurechaff’s proposal actually has a good chance of assisting aerial battles in the west. In terms of regional air power, and especially with the not insignificant bonus of getting rid of the Unified States pest, the argument begins to heat up.

“I strongly agree with the ‘keen insight’ evaluation. If we could discourage intervention before it even begins in earnest, that would be great. I think this proposal could assist with achieving air supremacy over Dodobird Strait.”

“Objection! Your evaluation of the effects is biased. If we shoot down a ton of Unified States nationals, its public will be galvanized. You’re not taking that seriously enough.”

“With all due respect, there’s no guarantee public opinion in the Unified States would move in that direction. It’s entirely possible that their government gets backlash due to the reckless deployment.”

Both comments are intelligent and sincere. Both are correct, which is why it’s difficult to reach a conclusion.

“Maybe we should get the Foreign Office to convince the States to remain neutral?”

“Hmm, but at that point, isn’t this something that should be handled in the political realm?”

“Excuse me, may I say something?” Upon getting permission, Tanya stands up, acting as unconcerned as possible so she doesn’t sound excitable. “While this is a political issue, it’s also an issue that has been left to our discretion in the field. There is an attackable target within the attackable area. Rather than turning this into a political problem and dragging the rear into it, why not just pretend that it was an unforeseen result of engaging?”

Hence Tanya chiming in to seek middle ground as if to say, Let’s just sublate this.

She suggests that handling it at their level makes the most sense. For better or worse, Tanya von Degurechaff loves legal loopholes. Hooray for gray zones. She won’t take a single step into black, but anything not black is white.

“That’s an interesting idea, but in the end, we’re just field commanders. Shouldn’t the General Staff have a unified plan?”

“If you’re a General Staff officer, wouldn’t you come out swinging like Major von Degurechaff suggests?”

“Please refrain from speculation.” The argument threatens to explode, but a senior officer mediates to calm things down. “That’s enough. We’re soldiers. Even if we are sometimes expected to deviate from our orders, this is a matter of legal principle not war.”

The conclusion being stated is, to Degurechaff, an unsurprising, commonsense answer. It’s a bit disappointing, but if she considers whether she should push any further, it seems extremely difficult. She isn’t averse to walking in the gray zone, but unless they’re your accomplice, you never know who will kick you into the black zone.

“Major von Degurechaff. Your idea is an interesting one, but I’d like to wait for the General Staff’s opinion. Until further orders, we’ll continue our quiet aerial annihilation battle. Any objections?”

“No, none. Understood. I’m sorry to have taken up your time. Then let’s get back to the main topics of combat skills and the aerial annihilation battle.”

I guess there’s no way around it. Though she secretly feels that way on the inside, she’s a sensible enough officer to apologize for the tactless suggestion and refocus the conversation on its original topics.


The commanders meeting lasted long enough that the date has changed. The discussion had a tendency to get heated, but now that it has safely ended and Tanya has repaired to her room, she is rarely for her conflicted.

“…Maybe I should just take my unit and… No, they would resent me if I did that. The risk versus the return is…”

She knows she’s obsessing, but she’s still tormented by the idea that they should attack the self-described voluntary army that the Commonwealth is sending in.

“This is tricky. But I still want us to be prepared for an encounter battle. The best would be to wallop them if we get the chance.”

Ideally, the Unified States won’t intervene, but is such a world war possible? The answer is simple and clear: no. In that case…we should give them a slap and demonstrate that if they reach out a hand, they’ll get burned.

“Well, but I guess we should take provoking public opinion into account? …Ah, what am I doing?” She sighs.

Mocking her circular train of thought, Tanya reaches for the cup of coffee she previously abandoned on her desk and brings it to her mouth. The cold coffee cooling off her head feels nice. Once she calms down a bit, she understands that the senior officer’s logic about not provoking the Unified States too much is correct.

Since she has connections to the central General Staff, she tends to forget, but she’s only a major. Just a handy cog in the system.

…She may be important, but she’s still just a worker, a part that can be replaced. She has known from the beginning that the military is such an organization, but that’s precisely why she sometimes wants to run away so badly.

As far as she can tell by looking at the Empire’s current status, it should be able to fight the Federation. At least, the eastern front is seeing drastic changes thanks to mobility and an envelopment maneuver that should properly be called military art, achieved by interior lines. It will depend on what sort of reserves the Federation has, but at least their frontline troops have hit the solid wall of the Imperial Army and splattered like a rotten egg.

On the southern lines, a limited number of troops led by a brilliant commander is keeping the pressure on the Republican remnants.

And in the west, Tanya and the rest are spending their days cracking down on the Commonwealth in their aerial battle of annihilation. Really, the Empire doesn’t even feel the need to make a landing in the Commonwealth and force them to surrender at their castle walls. It would be all over if they cried uncle and accepted the peace terms.

…Thinking a bit optimistically, the Empire’s situation is tough, but there’s no need to despair and throw in the towel yet.

“It’s just wishful thinking, though. I can’t even fool myself…”

There is only one problem.

The Empire’s national strength is already at the limits of its limits, with every front trying too hard. Troops are stationed in each region, but the offensives reached their culminating points long ago. With the general mobilization, there are plenty of soldiers, but truthfully, the Imperial Army is like a puffed-up frog. One poke with a needle, and it would be a struggle not to pop.

“As long as the situation in the west remains unresolved, the Empire can’t commit its full strength to the east.”

If they concentrated their power in the east with an enemy to their rear, they would end up reenacting the Rhine battles where the Republic attacked them from behind. She hears that even now on the continent, with air supremacy secured, they are still bothered by sporadic disturbances.

Showing any weakness would spell the end.

Even if the Unified States doesn’t join the war, the Commonwealth will leisurely land their successfully mobilized army on the western coast.

“But as long as there’s this immense pressure in the east, the Empire won’t be able to secure enough forces to get the Commonwealth to surrender.”

It’s completely valid for the east to want even one more division to put on the main lines. Though the Great Army was mobilized and able to destroy the invading army for the most part…it affected the numbers only enough to make it an actual fight.

And Tanya, she knows that according to the other world’s history, going up against the Federation is a quagmire. Under the circumstances, if the Empire is looking for a way out of this, the only route is to resolve the various issues in the east. In the history of Earth, Tanya knows, the real German Empire managed to do that. The Imperial Russian Army was obliterated on the eastern front and Imperial Russia dropped out of the fight due to the ensuing political unrest.

…But. Tanya is distressed.

In the first place, duplicating the prohibited move of sending in radical revolutionary elements, which was what finally brought down Imperial Russia, is not terribly likely given that the Communist Party is already firmly established in the Federation.

In the second place, even the Imperial German Army that ruined Imperial Russia…couldn’t find a way to win against the matériel superiority of the U.S.A. It may have competed on the battlefield…but the poverty of the rear is well-documented.

“…Even if we clean up the east, can we achieve security in the west?”

The question that slips from Tanya’s mouth in spite of herself is a manifestation of her anxiety. The reason behind the military strategy taboo against multifront operations is that they don’t have the forces to support that many fronts.

It’s only a matter of course. If they had the military might to prevail on multiple fronts, there would be no need for strategy in the first place. It would be a simple task of grinding down matériel; they would be able to trample the tiny enemy armies.

The Imperial Army is the strongest in the world, but it’s not so infinitely strong it can stomp the world beneath its boots. Under these circumstances, the Empire must in order to survive eliminate the Commonwealth’s interference, slay the Federation, and end the war before the Unified States gets involved.

But the Commonwealth’s navy is too powerful. Even with the somewhat untrustworthy Ildoan Navy as an ally, the size disparity is too great. The High Seas Fleet all imperial fleets put together is the size of the Commonwealth’s Home Fleet, which covers only one region. With that in mind, the idea of expecting anything out of a naval battle is pure fantasy.

If the Commonwealth felt like it, it could bring out its Inner and Outer Sea Fleets, or even the Norden blockade fleet. Even if the Imperial Navy challenged them, it would be a hard, losing fight, and then it would be over. About the only thing that can be expected of the navy at this point is to figure out how they will die.

There is only one thing Tanya can do in this case.

“Pointless struggle. It’s a futile resistance.”

With a sigh, she feels that her mental state of griping to her desk in her room is past all hope of salvation.

…Salvation? If I’m clinging to the fantasy of God, my mental health has definitely deteriorated I’m surely weakened. I knew that, since I was human, I’d have my limits. After all, I’m only one of these Homo sapiens creatures.

“…Still, I’m an educated citizen. Will I submissively resign myself to my future like a fatalist just because it’s ‘destiny’?”

Plainly speaking:


Homo sapiens, the species we call humans, have no reason to agree to kill ourselves, and neither is there any reason we should have to assume the tragic role of a sacrifice to fate.

We choose to do whatever we can that will blaze the trail to the future.

Unballing her clenched fists on her desk, Tanya stares at the palms of her hands.

Her delicate little-girl fingers have bizarre calluses from her training. Luckily, they don’t present any obstacle during combat.

…This is just fine. She smiles.

When the cards are dealt, whether you lament your hand or think how to use it depends on you. I’m going to seize the future with my own two hands.

That’s the privilege humans have. It’s the condition for being human. So all she has to do is seize her opportunity. To enjoy a happy, tranquil future, she has to work.

It’s definitely a rough job, but can you really be upset if suffering and hard work are prerequisites for a respectable life?

I’ll resist, even if I’m the only one.

As she is about to nod with determination, she remembers the rank insignia hanging on her uniform. Oh. She realizes she had carelessly missed something.

I’m not alone.

I have fantastic friends. What great news, she thinks, laughing as she drains the bottle of sparkling water in her hand.

And that’s why, it should probably be said…

The next morning, Tanya appears before the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion and looks each one of her subordinates in the eye with unusual resolve. I have no intention of sacrificing myself for the Empire. But this isn’t such a predicament that we have to run just yet.

I don’t want an entirely Communist world, and I’m also not interested in falling as one of the cornerstones of a free world, so there is only one thing Tanya can do: stomp the world under imperial boots. Even though she was forced to pick the best of the worst options, Tanya has no regrets about walking the path she’s chosen.

“Attention, all units!”

With one shout from Captain Weiss, the unit comes together in perfect order. As usual, the posture of the members of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion says they are worthy of infinite trust when it comes to matters of war.

“Our commander has a few words for us!”

“At ease. Troops, there’s been a small disturbance in the state of the war. A new unit has barged in on our aerial annihilation battle. These guys don’t know how to wait their turn. They must have a pretty messed up understanding of the word freedom.”

Tanya’s announcement of the newcomers is met with unperturbed silence. Even just the ability to be quiet and listen to someone talk is pretty good…but taking bad news without getting upset is great. These guys are just so dependable.

“Headquarters wants us to finish wiping out the enemy and seize control of the sky. We can’t allow any more time for interventions from outside. Still, that isn’t our main task. Our mission continues to be assessment. As part of our combat skill research, I’m going to have you perform an anti-surface attack mission.”

Tanya barely finishes asking if anyone has questions when Grantz jumps in as usual.

“Commander, may I ask something?”

“Sure, Lieutenant Grantz.”

“From what I hear, combat is getting fiercer and fiercer in the west. So despite that, our mission is still changing to anti-surface strikes?”

“That’s the right way to think about it. However, it includes anti-surface attacks from Commonwealth airspace. Since it’s actually for combat skill research, remember that the strikes themselves are not the main point.”

“Major, under the circumstances, shouldn’t we be supporting the rest of the troops?”

“It’s simple, my dear battalion. In order to control the sky, ground facilities may need to be destroyed. Our mission is to verify the potential of ground strikes accompanying air superiority missions.”

Everyone seems to begin to understand, and Weiss’s voice rings out at just the right moment. “That’s all from our commander. All units, outfit yourselves for an anti-surface strike. Get your gear and be ready to sortie on the double!”

Weiss gives instructions at a good tempo; he’s a great deputy commander. Not that Grantz and Serebryakov don’t work well; the skill with which they obliquely ease the troops’ doubts while focusing them on the mission at hand is praiseworthy.

“Major…this really is a rather sudden change. Did something happen?”

“You can’t tell the troops, Captain Weiss. Really, it’s questionable whether I should even tell you, but…the situation being what it is…”

As long as Weiss is around, Tanya feels she has someone she can recommend as her successor. The unit doesn’t seem like it would mind, either. If so, she can leave knowing there won’t be liability issues.

Which is why, after glancing around, she slips Weiss a few documents.

“…What’s this? Details on the voluntary army?”

Weiss is her reliable vice commander but also the human sacrifice that will facilitate her comfortable service in the rear. Tanya passes on as much of the info she has been given as she can, with the idea that he’ll take over for her.

“They mean to get in our way as Unified States citizens reporting to the Commonwealth. But they’re enemies. Going forward, we’re probably going to have to keep shooing away similar rabble.”

It really bugs me how unfairly these guys play.

“So, Captain Weiss, this leisurely move to intimidate the Commonwealth via air superiority will do more harm than good. We need the will to crush them, and we must carry out a plan to do so.”

“Understood. I guess our victory is still a ways away, then, huh, Major?”

The way he’s talking, Tanya feels the need to reemphasize some things. She has him bend down and whispers the truth in his ear. “Victory? For better or worse, Captain Weiss, you’re a soldier with common sense, huh? We don’t need anything except to be left standing at the end.”

The ones alive at the end, the ones standing, are the great ones. Tanya points it out to him with zero affectation.

“We should try to be the victors in the end.”

“Without a doubt, but…I want to prioritize the survival of the battalion over winning,” she adds with a nod of agreement. If possible. Our survival is more important than victory.

“Major?” Weiss stood as he asked, sounding puzzled.

Tanya laughed to cover herself. “Ah, just griping. When we go on the attack, we’ll do it just like we always do. Make sure you have all your gear. Our mission this time is an anti-surface strike.”

One of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion’s new directives, as part of their combat skill research, is to study anti-surface attacks. All different types of strikes have been requested, with targets from bases to harbors. The top must want to reconsider our assumptions and refine our findings into an anti-surface attack doctrine.

“It’s a combat mission in enemy territory. We can’t just go back for more bullets if we don’t have enough.”

We just have to do what we must. Commenting that she has to get ready herself, Tanya also reaches for her equipment. Contrary to her tone of voice, however, her expression is a bit weary.

“M-Major…is that an anti-tank sniper gun?”

“Apparently, it’s an anti-armor sniper rifle. I heard you can expect it to pierce defensive shells.”

Weiss’s question is accompanied by a surprised glance at her gun. Well, anyone who saw Tanya stuck carrying this gun bigger than her would probably feel the same way.

“…If it was a positional warfare with trenches or something, it might be pretty useful, but…”

“I’m with you, Captain Weiss.”

“Are the guys at home mistaking mage fights for fortress battles or something?”

Tanya wonders something similar, herself.

“I feel more like they’ve pushed unwanted inventory on me. This huge thing, it shoots bullets that are only 14.5 millimeters long, but it’s single shot! You can tell me it’ll pierce a defensive shell in one hit, but how am I supposed to use it in the middle of a highly mobile battle?”

Well, it’s my job to figure that out, grumbles Tanya in her head.

Their combat skill research includes a few testing missions. She’s been asked to evaluate various pieces of equipment and items mages don’t usually use to give an idea of how they work for aerial mages in combat.

This is always how it goes, but considering they are invading enemy territory and normally there would never be any use for this sort of weapon, she does sort of feel as though they’ve just shoved inventory off on her under the pretext of reevaluation.

She’s weighed down by the ammo belt and the various attachments.

It’s a bit surreal; she feels like a cartoon in an American comic.

But this is reality. Absurdly, the weight of her gear is about the same as if she were wearing full-body armor.

But reality is even more ridiculous.

There exists a battlefield where even this much ammo will be consumed in the blink of an eye. Still, this is a bajillion times better than running out of bullets in enemy territory, so she’s compelled to urge everyone to wear even just one extra ammo belt.

And this is why Tanya has absolutely no interest in evaluating some weapon that may or may not be useful.

That said, there is one saving grace. A different sort of saving grace from the time she was test personnel on the Elinium Type 95. And that is that the weapons she is being asked to test out are existing weapons.

She really appreciates the fact that she is allowed to toss it partway through the mission. But it does feel like a waste. She’s sure that even if she can’t use it this time, there might be a chance in the future…

“…It’s a misuse of tax money and national power. I should give the government pointers on how we can use those things better. That’s something to consider later.”

She can write it after the mission in the comments section of her combat skill research report. For now, she has to prioritize evaluating anti-surface strikes.

“Major, all personnel are prepared to sortie! Everyone can move out on your orders!”

“Thanks, Lieutenant Serebryakov! Contact Control for details on the weather!”

Efficiently delegating the routine pre-sortie work, half complaining, she still laughs at how cartoonish she looks. Her bag completely packed with bullets, the anti-armor sniper rifle is longer than she is tall. They’ve been generously issued hand grenades, explosives for destroying facilities on the ground, and even small amounts of the newest shaped charges. What a fancy war we’re going to fight. She imagines the consumption of resources will be equally extravagant.

It does mean, though, that she has a lot of options, personally. It isn’t efficient overall, but the dilemma is that it’s pretty handy for those in the field. She accepts the fact with a wince and takes off on her mission.

With her, she brings the usual elite crew. The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion heads directly through the sky to the Commonwealth mainland in order to perform their anti-surface attack mission test. But not too long after they leave, the weather seems to be taking a turn for the worse.

Tanya already regrets carrying so much equipment.

Perhaps because there isn’t enough meteorological data, the army’s weather report is hit or miss over Dodobird Strait. She was aware of that, but when the clouds, wind speed, and humidity are all worse than indicated, she has a mind to make a complaint.

“Fairy 01 to Galba Control. Fairy 01 to Galba Control. Come in!”

She calls into the static-ridden wireless over and over again, trying to get a weather update, but there’s no answer.

“It’s no good… Sferics? Either way, this connection is the worst.”

Tanya repeats her call a few more times in vain before reluctantly admitting that they are in a tough situation if they can’t even make contact with ground control.

“Fairy 02 to Fairy 01. Do you copy?”

“Just barely,” Tanya replies and consults with Weiss, who has approached to within direct conversation distance, about remedial measures they can take. It’s less a problem with their wireless units than an issue of atmospheric obstruction. There are so many clouds, and it seems liable to rain. These are the worst conditions for trying to signal.

“This is the best quality we can get just for short-distance intra-unit communications? The noise is awful. I guess long-range will be pretty useless at this rate.”

“Should we go back? Even if this weather isn’t bad enough for a no-fly warning, I wouldn’t be surprised if the operation was canceled.”

“You have a point, but…we haven’t received a cancelation order. Plus, our battalion has plenty of experience operating under radio silence. Chances are that ground control assumes we’re going ahead with the operation. If we leave now, we might confuse the others.”

It isn’t that she’s denying the conclusion of the officers on site. But Tanya has had more than enough experiences where the people on site made their own decisions, and the result was a total mess.

“Considering all we’re doing is mingling with everyone else’s wave attack and performing anti-surface strikes, we’ll just run this operation at our own pace.”

“Understood. Given the poor visibility, what if we pulled our formation in tighter and communicated more closely?”

Tanya is about to nod but thinks, Wait a minute! and interjects, “…No, we can’t do that. That would send our risk of an unexpected attack skyrocketing.”

If their formation was denser, they would be more orderly. But a well-equipped observation base with good ground facilities would be able to spot them even in this awful weather.

The Commonwealth has an extremely good reputation when it comes to wireless interception technology. She can’t allow for the risk that the enemy gets on top of them because they knew her battalion was coming.

“Hmm. Give strict orders to maintain the formation, but keep an extra eye out for enemies. Remember what happened when we ran into the Entente Alliance fleet with no warning. We can’t make the same mistake twice. Keep a careful watch. We’ll carry out the strike in combat formation.”

“Understood, Major.”

“Oh, wait. About the wireless situation. Let’s keep radio silence until we run into the enemy. The weather is bad, so I’m sure their radar is full of noise, anyhow, but…I’d rather keep things easy.”

“So we’ll work hard to make things easier? Yes, ma’am!”

Given the choice between suffering to avoid a known risk or avoiding suffering to take on a risk that could have been avoided, they choose the former. That’s the kind of training and experience the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion has amassed.


Mary and her fellow cadets had finished their basic training and were now training with their units. For better or worse, they had a tangible sense that combat was just around the corner. They all felt, if vaguely, that the day they knew would come was on its way.

But for Mary…it came far too suddenly.

“I’ll explain our situation! Two minutes ago, the southern radar site as well as the detection line picked up an imperial aerial mage unit and a large air force unit approaching the southernmost air defense line!”

Their normally cool and collected leader read the latest report with a tense expression. When Mary’s brain comprehended the words two minutes ago, southernmost air defense line, her whole body stiffened. They’d had the airspace map pounded into them all this time.

If she remembered correctly…the only units that would make it there on time to intercept were ones like her own on standby in the rear. The enemy had already penetrated too far for the mainland air defense units to intercept in an organized way.

“There’s no time! And this is really bad, but judging from the enemy mage signatures, there’s a good chance that they’re the Imperial Army’s most elite unit!”

That news was terrible enough that even the officers had the instinct to run for it. Really, a briefing should be conducted with more composure, but they were short on calm at the moment.

Man…, thought Mary anxiously. Then she suddenly noticed something weird an officer was observing them from the side of the room. She didn’t recognize him, but from his insignia she could see he was a lieutenant colonel. From his uniform, he seemed to be a Commonwealth marine mage.

“What do we know about the enemy, sir?”

“It’s been tentatively identified as the Devil of the Rhine.”

“The Devil of the Rhine?”

One of the officers scrunched up his face to ask, Huh? but Mary had heard of her. It was the imperial Named who everyone had been talking about shooting down. But she never in a million years thought the mage from that discussion would suddenly show up in their airspace for a fight.

“According to the Commonwealth officer in charge of that intelligence, this Named is extremely dangerous even compared to other Named. She was first sighted in Norden. Since then, she’s been on the Rhine front, in Dacia, on the southern continent, and there are even unconfirmed whispers that she was deployed against the Federation, so she’s a seasoned vet.”

Hearsay? The officers frowned. As the tension built, the Commonwealth marine magic officer having a nonchalant smoke by the wall spoke up, somewhat aloof.

“Excuse me, may I say something?”

“And you are?”

It was a pertinent question, and the unit leader jumped in with an Oh.

“I should have introduced him sooner. This is Lieutenant Colonel Drake from the Commonwealth’s marine mage force. We’ll probably be doing joint operations for a while. If they need anything, you’re to cooperate closely with them.”

Having finally remembered to introduce the lieutenant colonel, the unit leader turned the floor over to him. Even their normally efficient leader was off today.

…It’s almost time to head into combat. It finally hit Mary how excited and nervous she was.

“As he said, I’m your liaison officer, Lieutenant Colonel Drake. I want you Unified States troops to bear in mind that…the Devil of the Rhine is a real Named who made officers and men alike tremble in fear on the Rhine front. Don’t write her off as a battlefield rumor I hope you understand that she’s a grave threat.”

“…Colonel Drake, I didn’t expect to hear that from you. What are we dealing with?” the unit leader asked, puzzled. Her face said just as much as her mouth could have: Surely you’re overreacting.

“With all due respect, Colonel, whatever you imagine her to be, please expect worse. She’s an outstanding magic officer with both leadership skills and individual combat prowess. And her unit moves quite well, too.”

“She’s a talented commander?”

“Frankly, she can do both. The unit we’ve seen her with is a real handful. If you meet them with equal numbers, I strongly recommend taking shelter. Their combat altitude is eight thousand, and the battalion attacks in perfect order like a single organism. The tactical threat is nightmarish.”

But Drake’s answer was clear. His tone of caution with regard to the imperial Named was extremely earnest. There was no exaggeration or joke about this officer’s fear of the Devil of the Rhine.

“Colonel Drake, may I ask a question?”

“Sure, and what’s your name?”

“I’m Second Lieutenant Mary Sue, sir.”

“Go ahead, Lieutenant. What is it?”

That’s why the question came so naturally to her.

“What should we do if we can’t run away?”

“That’s a good question. Get shot down.”

Mary was starting to wonder what he meant when he continued with an, “It’s simple.

“Luckily, we’re defending the mainland. Unlike on enemy soil, friendlies can recover you. As long as you’re alive, you can heal up and rejoin the lines. So prioritize survival and gracefully take that fall. Got it?”

After he broke it down for her, she finally understood. For the Commonwealth, the sky over the Commonwealth was home field. Staying alive would be a win. Even if you crashed, if you stayed alive, you could fight another day.

“Did you hear what he said, troops? We have the advantage, since we’re intercepting!” The unit leader nodded and shouted encouragement. “Don’t forget that the people of the Commonwealth are behind us. We’ve already lost one home. Let’s not lose another one. Here, we have people who need protecting and our ally’s territory. Let’s do our best so the good people of the Commonwealth don’t laugh at us!”

““““Yes, sir!””””

“Galba Control to Fairy Battalion. Galba Control to Fairy Battalion it’s urgent. Come in. I say again, it’s urgent. Please respond.”

“Fairy 01 to Galba Control. Contact. Reception is horrible. But it’s not bad enough that we can’t have a conversation.”

As soon as the waves are getting through, in comes a call from Control. The exchange is still filled with static, but the moment ground control finally made contact with them, Tanya is sure she heard a sigh of relief.

“Galba Control, roger. This is Galba 15.”

“Fairy 01, roger. Go ahead, Galba 15.”

“Due to the bad weather and reception, all the units are doing their own things. The existing operation plan has been aborted. I say again, the existing operation plan has been aborted.”

Oh, I see. Tanya realizes why ground control has been trying to call them. The unified operation collapsed due to the deterioration of the weather, so perhaps they’re going to regroup and try again.

“Fairy 01 to Galba 15. Roger on the operation being aborted. Requesting permission to return.”

We shouldn’t have problems getting permission to head back to base. That’s what Tanya had been thinking, but her hopes are dashed all too easily.

“Galba 15 to Fairy 01. Sorry, but I can’t authorize that. The Fairy Battalion is getting a new mission.”

The other units get their missions canceled, but we get a new one? What kind of awful is the news going to be now? Tanya secretly braces herself, but even she is petrified by the words that come out of the controller’s mouth next.

“The commander of the 114th Air Division was shot down and crash-landed to the southeast in district α 13. That your unit is out and about is a silver lining. Your mission is the combat search and rescue to recover the five passengers.”

The way the controller says he will send over the details makes it sound like the orders are already set in stone. But from Tanya’s perspective, there is no reason she should have to listen to something so unreasonable.

“Fairy 01 to Galba 15. I should warn you, my battalion and the 114th Air Division don’t use the same signal code! If we can’t even communicate, I don’t see how we have much of a chance to complete a rescue mission not to mention in enemy territory.”

Regardless of how a search and rescue mission might go in friendly territory, it would be awfully reckless to poke around the Commonwealth mainland looking for the downed pilots.

“And my battalion’s mission was to evaluate anti-surface attacks in the first place! I understand the need for a rescue, but we’re not even outfitted correctly for it.”

Worst of all, they don’t have the gear necessary to perform a rescue. Tanya tries to continue complaining about how reckless it would be to go, under the circumstances, but the ground controller’s impatient reply interrupts and leaves her at a loss.

“Galba 15 to Fairy 01. I understand the circumstances. But all the nearby mage units have almost no experience conducting operations in enemy territory. Your battalion has the most expertise of any in the airspace.”

Unluckily, perhaps it should be said…most of the aerial mages have been pulled out and sent to the east, and since the air force in the west isn’t in great shape, the controller probably doesn’t have too many choices.

“Fairy 01, roger. We’ll RTB immediately, switch up our gear, and go back out to conduct the CSAR mission.”

“Galba 15 to Fairy 01. My apologies, but this is an order. Begin the combat search and rescue mission as soon as possible.”

“Fairy 01 to Galba 15. Is that an order with the understanding of the authority my unit has to act?”

“It’s a formal order. The General Staff has also approved it… Sorry, but please go now.”

…Of all the…, Tanya nearly replies but swallows her argument. She has no way to know the truth of it, but since she’s been told that they’re directions approved via official channels with the General Staff…she has no choice but to obey.

Not that she can’t get away with lying, but…if she left friendlies for dead and returned, she would catch hell from the General Staff. No, all she would do is lower the standing of the Western Army Group, and then they would probably be even more reluctant to cooperate with her combat skill research.

“Fairy 01, roger. We’ll be off on the rescue mission, then… You’re treating us when we get back. I hope you’ll be ready.”

Socializing for work is so uncomfortable. Peer pressure forces you into doing things you don’t even want to do. But if you’re going to play the game, you have to give it all you’ve got.

At least when we get back alive, they’ll owe us.

“Did you hear that, troops? We’re off to recover some big shots.”

“Understood. This sure is a…pain, though, huh?” Captain Weiss murmurs. First Lieutenants Serebryakov and Grantz next to him seem to find the problem hopelessly difficult. It’s easy enough to say, Save these friendlies, but this is in enemy territory, and who knows where they’ve fallen?

I’d really like to tell them to use a specialized unit. The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion may be elite, but they perform combat missions, so they simply aren’t suited to this kind of task.

“Drop all your heavy equipment immediately. That goes for the eval equipment as well. We’re diverting our energies to searching on the ground. Anything that won’t be useful you should blow up along with your heavy gear.”

“Understood, Major, but if it’s a combat search and rescue mission in enemy territory…”

“I’ll take a unit and act as direct support. You can have either Grantz or Serebryakov. Captain Weiss, select search party members on the double.”

“Are you sure?”

“You mean you want to trade? C’mon, I’m pretty sure I can cover my subordinates’ backs.”

Why should I have to descend to the surface, where there’s nowhere to run? Not that I don’t trust Weiss’s support, but if the alternative is giving up a position from which I can escape if need be, then I’d rather risk losing my able vice commander.

…Although lately I’ve realized no one will praise you for having an idea like that.

“Understood. Then I’d like to take Lieutenant Grantz.”

“Are you sure you don’t want Lieutenant Serebryakov? She has more experience with this sort of thing from her time on the Rhine. She’s probably more used to it than Lieutenant Grantz.”

“But she’s paired with you. I think we should maintain formation.”

“…Okay. Split the battalion in two. Captain Weiss, you’re handling the search. Lieutenant Serebryakov, you’re with direct support as my adjutant. We’ll be providing support from the air.”

“Yes, ma’am!”

And so, with heroic resolve, Captain Weiss and First Lieutenant Grantz undertook the annoying ground search mission, but they soon received notice that things were getting worse by the second.

“Captain Weiss, I have some bad news from Control. We’ve got two Commonwealth aerial mage battalions coming in fast. The ground army is also on the move.”

Weiss’s reaction to Grantz’s heavy remarks was to look to the sky. It was reassuring to have Major von Degurechaff and the other two companies up there on patrol.

But it hit him again that time wasn’t on their side. Well, of course it wasn’t. They were in enemy territory. Obviously if they hung around for too long, enemy reinforcements would show up.

“The hits just keep coming… What does the commander have to say?”

“It seems like she intends to intercept. She said that her and Lieutenant Serebryakov’s companies will distract them, so we should continue searching.”

“I think I found something.” With that bitter grumble, he sighed and bit back the rest of his displeasure at being given such an impossible mission. He had just barely managed to spot some wreckage on the surface, but that was it.

“There are signs of people moving after the crash, but how can we search without a dog? Lieutenant Grantz, can you spot any footprints?”

“It’s not that I can’t, but…we’re going to follow them? I don’t really think the battalion is…” He was about to say, …capable of this sort of tracking mission, but realized he couldn’t and fell silent.

Weiss wordlessly patted Grantz’s shoulder and sighed in his head. We just have to.

Major Tanya von Degurechaff, their battalion commander, was the kind of person who brute forced her way through impossible situations with sheer ability. As one of her followers, Weiss felt that if anyone could pull this off, she could.

Saving friendly troops is a soldier’s pride and a duty to their fellows.

That sentimental thought did clash with Weiss’s realist nature. He had learned through experience how important it was to declare impossible things impossible. Searching any more was too big a risk. It could result in levels of attrition the battalion wouldn’t be able to ignore.

Grantz wasn’t saying anything, but he seemed to feel it, too. Though he maintained that uncomfortable silence, the way his eyes appealed to Weiss made it easy to tell.

Perhaps it was time for Weiss to consider calling off the search on his own authority.

“…Fairy 01 to all units. Everyone gather up on the double. I say again, gather up on the double.”

“If she’s calling, then let’s go up.”

The pair headed back to Major von Degurechaff, jumping to the conclusion that they must be withdrawing. Which is why in the next moment, they were completely stunned.


What did you just say, ma’am? Captain Weiss’s and Lieutenant Grantz’s dumbstruck faces ask. Maybe they just don’t get it, or maybe their combat experience is getting in the way.

If that’s the case, then I need to break it down for them, Tanya realizes, and she begins to explain again about the police wireless they just picked up.

“It’s Commonwealth police communications. Apparently, they took in the passengers of a crashed imperial plane. How lax. I can’t believe they put such critical intel on the police wireless.”

“Well, I mean…if they weren’t expecting their police wireless to get intercepted in the first place, then it sort of makes sense…”

“Yes, you’re quite right, Captain Weiss… It’s unexpected, but…it’s definitely good news. Not only have they saved us the time and effort of looking, but we even know where they are and where they’re taking them.”

I think we can do this. With that conviction, Tanya gives her decision. “Lieutenant Serebryakov, aside from me, you’re the one with the most knowledge in this area. Given your experience with rescues on the Rhine, what do you think? Tell me your estimate of the enemy fighting force and how many troops we need.”

“It’ll be militia or a police peacekeeping force. A platoon should be enough to subdue them.”

“That’s reasonable analysis, but you’re relying too much on the enemy making a mistake. Considering we’ll have to escort the package, it’s worth sending a company, so that’s what I’m giving you. Lead them and do whatever it takes to secure the package.”

“Yes, Major. You can count on me.”

She gives a ready response in the affirmative. Serebryakov has grown into the type of officer who understands what must be done and what she is capable of. Tanya knew her back when the old hands would tease her as “Princess Visha,” so she joyfully welcomes the magnificent growth of the girl’s human capital.

…Humans really are capable of learning under their own steam, thinking for themselves.

If I’m having personal feelings on this battlefield, I’m probably not cut out to be a soldier.

Even as she runs over these essential things in her head, she begins to focus on the task at hand and clear her mind of distractions.

“Lieutenant Grantz, support Lieutenant Serebryakov’s unit. Whatever you do, don’t accidentally hit the package.”


The prisoners have been found, so now we rescue them. My apologies to the Commonwealth police officers, but…they won’t be able to drive back the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion.

“Okay. Captain Weiss, you’ll stay with me to intercept the approaching enemy air forces with the rest of the battalion. We’ll secure the relevant airspace. But you’re in charge of supporting everyone on the ground. I’ll handle the attacking.”

Tanya briskly gives orders, but there is still something worrying her.

The biggest problem is what to do after securing the package or more precisely…how to deliver the package safely to the rear.

If it was an injured magic officer, a mage could carry them.

The high-ranking officers of the 114th Air Division, however, are pilots. They may be used to the sky, but they’re used to flying as pilots which means being inside an airplane.

Can we fly carrying their unprotected bodies? What if they’re injured? It’s probably too risky even if they’re not. Trying to carry an unprotected high-ranking officer is like a creative punishment for all involved.

Considering the kinds of accidents that could occur, we should be ready for the worst-case scenario.

But really, this is impossible. As long as it’s an order, though, we aren’t allowed to fail. At that point, we really need to get them on a plane somehow. Could we request a rescue plane? No, I highly doubt anyone would come.

Penetrating enemy territory and landing…? And as soon as she thinks it, Tanya breaks into a smile. Ah, what the heck. This is simple! We’ve done this before.

“Vice Commander!”


“The 103rd Fighter Wing is nearby, right? Give me their frequency!”

Weiss looks at her, wondering why in the world she would need that, and Tanya smiles. You’ll understand when the time comes.

“Fairy 01, this is Mosquito 01. All I can say about the reception is that it’s awful. But I can hear you somehow. Go ahead!”

“Thanks, Mosquito 01. To be frank, I’d like your assistance with a special mission. I want to borrow three planes with fuel to spare and competent pilots…”

Thus, Tanya gets straight to the point over the wireless with Mosquito 01.

The response, delivered instantaneously, is willing consent. The Empire is proud of the cooperation among its officers in the field, and this time it’s functioning perfectly.

“Understood, Fairy 01. I have confidence in your skill and reputation. Three, right? Kette tactics…? But I think for a special mission, you should take a Schwärme. I’ll give you four, a flight. Treat us when you get back!”

“Fairy 01 to Mosquito 01. I’d love to treat you guys, but please make the receipt out to Galba Control. I don’t think they’re cheapskates who would deny my payment request after these ridiculous orders!”

“No, ma’am, but that’s quite a thing to say.”

They exchange light banter because they’ve been on the battlefield long enough to trust each other. From Tanya’s perspective, this is what makes the Imperial Army’s organization great. It’s a miracle of allowing those in the field a measure of authority and everyone coming together to work toward bigger objectives. Of course, if it ever lost this unity, it would be nothing more than a papier-mâché tiger, but…

“Fairy 02 to Fairy 01. Friendly fighter planes at four o’clock. It’s four, as we were told.”

“Fairy 01, roger. I really gotta hand it to the Mosquitoes.”

Before long, Tanya receives word from Weiss that the planes she requested are approaching. Good, good. She breaks into a grin.

This is a bit of a stunt she’s pulling, but there have been pilots who landed in enemy airfields and then set them on fire. Landing in enemy territory and recovering friendly pilots shouldn’t be impossible.

“Come in, Fairy Battalion. This is Mosquito 06; this is Mosquito 06.”

“This is Fairy 01. Reception is fine. There seems to be no problem with the wireless at the moment. Mosquito 06, thanks for your help.”

“Nah, we have orders to work for free alcohol. At your service!”

So pilots run on booze? Tanya winces and is about to explain the situation when an airspace-wide warning interrupts.

“Urgent warning for all battalion members! I’ve detected two battalions of enemy mages! It’s the ones we were warned about! As we heard, they’re at an altitude of six thousand! They’re rapidly approaching our position!”

One of her men on watch puts out a warning. When she focuses for a minute on finding enemies, sure enough, she picks up a large number of signatures. It’s two mage battalions, as expected. And vexingly, they’re on their home turf.

“Interception units, prepare to engage! Let’s go! Mosquito 06, please take shelter! I want you to avoid combat if at all possible!”


“No time to explain. Just hold tight for a minute!”

“Commander, Lieutenant Serebryakov says she’s secured the package!”

“…Now? Shit, just a bit too late! How’s it doing?”

“No serious injuries but a couple of bumps and sprains.”

Just as Tanya was about to shout to gain altitude, Weiss reported the good news. Honestly…just collecting them is great. But she does feel a bit ambivalent, since they could have avoided this battle if they had recovered them just a little sooner.

“That’s good news, but  Fuck, we’re in enemy territory! We don’t have much time…”

The two enemy mage battalions are closing in. All she has is one. Plus the deadweight package. It’s no wonder she wants to call off the whole thing in despair. Who could collect their marks and get out under these circumstances?

But Tanya can’t give up.

She has to get through this somehow. And then she can’t rest until she’s argued using both her achievements and grievances so that she never has to do such an unreasonable mission ever again.

…Which means that, even for the sake of running away, her priorities must be clear. In this case, delivering the package to the rear has to be highest.

“Vice Commander, take your unit and secure a short runway. It can be a square or a park I don’t care as long as a plane can land on it. Even just that field over there! Use Lieutenants Grantz and Serebryakov as you would!”

“Huh?! A-are you sure?!”

Weiss’s decision to object to Tanya’s move to have three companies take on a different mission right as the enemies arrive, while also keeping within the bounds of what’s acceptable, is truly sensible. Certainly, even for the elite 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion…fighting two battalions with a single company would end with a big checkmark next to “unfit to command.”

She understands it’s impossible. But there are some circumstances in which you have to accomplish something, even if it warps all logic.

“I’m well aware how foolish it is to take on two battalions with a single company! But our orders from home are to secure the package we can’t ignore them!”

“…Is that…is that why you called the planes?”

“We’re going to have them land in enemy territory! If we didn’t cover them, it’d be a crime against morality! Do whatever it takes to secure a landing space and support them!”

You catch on quick. Tanya smiles, but Weiss frowns as if to say she’s being ridiculous. It’s so easy to imagine what’s on his mind; she wants to point out that it’s written all over his face: You’re telling us to put those planes down in enemy territory?

But the pair’s conversation is cut short by an incoming wireless message.

“Mosquito 06 to Fairy 01. Can I interpret that as you wanting us to perform a forced landing in enemy territory?”

“Fairy 01 to Mosquito 06. Just as you heard. We have to pick up the downed 114th Air Division personnel.”

Bracing herself for complaints, she’s not against playing her trump card using her military authority if need be. She is so ready to respond to their protest that they catch her off guard.

“We got this!”

Over the wireless comes proud, reassuring acceptance.

“We’ll need you mages to pick up the pilots. We’ll all do our part, so thank you! I’m glad you decided to rely on us!”

Happy to find the members of the fighter wing so adventurous, she’s again convinced her decision was correct.

“Mosquito 06 to Fairy 01. I’m moved by your concern, but it’s too much. You don’t need to roll out a red carpet for us just so we can pick up our guys! Just give us the location, and we’ll take care of the rest! All we ask is minimal support!”

“Fairy 01 to Mosquito 06. Thanks for the offer, but we have to guarantee the package’s safety as well. And if we extend our full services, it should help avoid a secondary crash. I’d like us to try for a swift withdrawal.”

“…Mosquito 06, roger!”

The emotional response is eager wonderful. I love the passion of someone who knows what their job is. This is the model for what a worker should be. At this moment, even Tanya is smiling in spite of herself. She has sensible colleagues and unfussy subordinates.

With this, they are capable. There are no better working conditions than these.

“Just like you heard, Captain. Find them a place to land as fast as you can.”


When Tanya urges him to get going, he zooms away; I’m sure he’ll get the job done. Serebryakov will make it with the package in time. Even Grantz should be able to handle supporting the others.

All that’s left, then, is for the Mosquitoes to land, and things should work out.

So basically, she has sent off her friends with her trust, and all she has to do is buy time for them to get results. Anyone can do that.

“All right, so we’re one company up against two battalions. If our altitude difference is two thousand…then we’ll crush them from above.”

The name of the game is harassment. If our task is to hold them up, then there’s no need to wage serious war; this is doable. Luckily, the soldiers I’m leading are old hands. The vets of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, which has had almost no personnel attrition, really shine at times like this.

“…Ha-ha-ha. This’ll be a cinch. Troops, time to make ourselves a nuisance and entertain our guests!”

If an outsider had been listening to that wireless contact, they would have interpreted the frantic call as nothing short of a desperate entreaty.

“Pirate 01 to Yankee Battalion HQ. Urgent. Increase your altitude now. I say again, increase altitude.”

And Lieutenant Colonel Drake himself, as he called the Yankee Battalion, would have willingly admitted that that was what it was.

“Yankee 01 to Pirate 01. Sorry, please explain. Climbing above our operating limit could seriously affect how long we’ll be able to continue fighting.”

“Pirate 01 to Yankee 01! Look out for the approaching enemy mage company. The signatures indicate they’re Named. They’re up at eight thousand!”

“I understand what you’re saying, but it’s only a company. Don’t you think this is a delaying tactic to manipulate us into tiring ourselves out?”

Ah, shite. He was at wits’ end with this awfully easygoing allied unit. And because the Commonwealth was respecting the Unified States’ request that its voluntary army be able to operate independently…he was stuck suffering through long, pointless arguments with the two mage battalion commanders; it was pure torture.

But that said, he couldn’t force them.

Originally…a Commonwealth mage battalion unit was supposed to come along to support, but they failed to coordinate, so there was no unit that understood where he was coming from.

It was like having to play a card game with a bad hand. Just unworkable.

“Commander! I’ll ask again. Please at least have two companies climb to guard against the company at eight thousand.”

“…Yankee 01 to Pirate 01. I’d appreciate if you’d leave your advice for us at that. Intercepting them with the disciplined fire of two battalions is surely far more useful than having two companies bend over backward.”

The disgusted request to essentially knock it off made Drake want to throw in the towel. Do the Yankees really think they’re going to waltz in and scatter a bunch of mages who’ve a mind to try delaying combat at eight thousand? Dream on.

Apologies to the unit leader, but even the marine mage unit I’m from was at the mercy of the Devil of the Rhine. The idea that these Yankees can put up a fight is just bollocks.

But Drake was in an extremely tough spot, since all he could do was try to persuade him. The critical issue was that this interception had to happen right as he arrived at his new post. They barely knew each other, and Drake was painfully aware how useless it was to get into repetitive arguments before they even built up any trust.

“Pirate 01, I respect your experience, but I’d like you to understand that we have our own doctrine and respect that.”

I suppose this is what you’d call a proper lurch. I was dispatched to assist this less experienced commander, but he seems to take it like he’s been saddled with an unnecessary supervisor.

Drake suppressed his urge to grumble and gave the situation some serious thought. His job was to keep the Yankee losses to a minimum. At this point, all he could do was wish for the Devil of the Rhine to go home.

…The problem was the Devil of the Rhine was not only not attempting to withdraw but leading a company right toward them.

The Yankees had decided their role was delaying combat defense. Why don’t they understand that the enemy is coming over here to actively hunt us?

The Devil of the Rhine is fast approaching. How can you talk so big about driving her off?

“Pirate 01, roger. Please forgive my rudeness. But I’d like to request permission to take command in the event that you become incapacitated, just in case.”

“Please,” Drake insisted, though he knew it wasn’t a very polite request. Even if the command structure was nominally the same, the voluntary army was, in fact, the regular Unified States Army. If he took command, the brass would throw a fit.

“…If I get shot down, then go ahead.”

“Thank you, Yankee 01.”

“No need. But I have to record that you made such an offer… I don’t mean to bring your ability into question, but I imagine I’ll make a note that you don’t seem cut out to be a liaison officer.”


But to Drake, it was a necessary measure for attaining the best of the rotten futures in a worst-case scenario.

Drake had done his best.

In his position, he had done everything within his power to keep losses low, so he didn’t have to fear reprimand or punishment. He had been faithful to his conscience.

Which was why…

“Th-the enemy company is still gaining altitude!”

“What?! Nine thousand five hundred?”

“A-assuming strike formation?!”

“Prepare to intercept! Calm down! Don’t get taken in! Keep our advantage in mind! We can beat them with numbers!”

Feeling ashamed, Drake had no choice but to accompany the Unified States mages on their charge into ruinous combat. He felt spineless, unable to shout at them to give up this idiotic endeavor.

How helpless it felt to simply lack the ability to stop something from happening.

“Prepare for disciplined fire! Pump these guys full of holes!”

“Ready to fire!”

The actions the Unified States mages took were perfectly neat and exactly according to training and the handbook. It was the best a unit with little live combat experience could do.

But when Drake glanced at the enemy movements, he had to sigh.

“…We’re not going to make it in time.”

The enemy mages charging at them from above were literally higher status. At a glance, it appeared they were striking in a scattered way, but they kept tight in their two-man cells. How can they support one another so well diving from nine thousand five hundred at maximum combat speed?!

Can disciplined fire even compete with…? Mid-thought, Drake’s eyes widened as he finally realized the Yankees’ fundamental error.

In disciplined fire, unit members aren’t able to move freely. In a marine mage battalion, individual mages can adjust their spacing at their own discretion, but the soldiers in this Yankee Battalion were all cadets until just recently. For them, the directive to maintain fire discipline will cause them to hold their ground, which will be fatal.

Holding their ground will mean sticking close together…


Drake was about to order them to break, even if it meant overstepping his authority, but he was too late.

“Commence firing!”

With the unit leader’s order, the lines of fire shot out toward the enemy. They were astonishingly thin and feeble-looking for a force of two battalions. At that moment, Drake knew the enemy could infer the level of their training.

The enemy company returned fire still in strike formation, but…instead of the optical formulas you would expect in a highly mobile battle, they used three rounds of simple explosion formulas, optimal for shock and damage. It should have been possible to laugh them off as an attack that would never connect, but for the bunched-up Yankee Battalion, it was a different story.

The units’ internal communications filled with screams, and the panic rapidly swelled. To the commander and noncommissioned officers who were supposed to be calming them down, it was obvious everyone wanted to flee.

“Shit! They took out a whole company with one attack! This is Pirate 01! It’s urgent. Yankee 01, Yankee 01! Please respond!”

Trying to pull things back together, Drake called over the wireless, but he already knew.

“…These bastards have cursed us! They made sure to decapitate with the first strike!”

They took out the chain of command to turn this into a chaotic dogfight. Even among imperial mage units, the Devil of the Rhine’s was specialized in decapitation tactics.

Vexingly, even if you know the logic of it, it’s a brutal move that is hard to defend against. If he glanced over, he could see the enemy company shredding the Yankee command structure to ribbons. The numeric advantage had been overturned like it was a joke.

If he was to attempt to describe the company, he would say it seemed to move as a single colony of sheer force. Though they were his enemy, he had to applaud them. The charging imperial mages hurled out formulas freely, displaying their might unchallenged as if they were all organically connected.

They were displaying skill he wasn’t sure if even his own unit of marine mages could pull off. But he couldn’t just stand there being impressed.

After all, they were getting their arses kicked in present tense. Drake didn’t have the luxury of throwing out compliments.

“Yankee Battalion, all units! This is Pirate 01! I’m deeming Yankee 01 incapacitated! I’m taking emergency command!”

“Yankee 05 to Pirate 01, do you actually have any authority over us…?”

Drake was about to protest God’s absurdity with all the words he could think of after such an obnoxious argument, but in the next moment, he was compelled to do the opposite.

“Lloyd, you idiot! Shut the hell up!”

There was still someone with a lick of sense. And he was higher ranking than the stubborn one. Drake wanted to praise God for this blessing among his curses.

“Yankee 03 to Pirate 01, roger that. What’s your plan?”

“Our losses will be too big in a dogfight! Prepare to withdraw immediately!”

“Understood. You got that, right? All units, we withdraw! A temporary withdrawal! We’ll take some distance and regroup! We can’t afford to lose any more of you for nothing!”

Everyone was scattered, and the loss of their command chain had caused confusion. But…at the very least, we still have numbers. Escape should be manageable enough.

“All commanders, have your troops fall back! Newbies, run for it! Vets and commanders, prepare for a fighting retreat! Let your new recruits escape!”

That was all Drake could hope for under the circumstances.

But the opposing side isn’t about to let that happen.

“Commander, the enemy appears to be taking some distance!”

“…I was planning on mocking them for their weakness, but they changed gears pretty fast. They’re quicker on their feet than I expected. I guess I misread them?” Tanya clicks her tongue and grumbles about how swiftly the enemy was able to regroup.

Since their discipline was so lousy for a Commonwealth unit, she expected a training unit or second-stringers. But having actually engaged, she’s found that although they’re weak, their chain of command thinks surprisingly fast. Does that mean some vets or instructors are attached as support?

“Major, what do you think we should do?”

“We can’t pull out now! We’ll just have to make the fight even more chaotic. Latch on and don’t let go! If we allow them to take distance, then what was the point of coming in close?”

It’s clear that despite her taking the initiative to swoop in and start a dogfight, the enemy is responding much more effectively. Almost none of them is hesitating about how to move… The simple decision to have the less trained mages flee and keeping the vets out as the rear guard is an optimal solution that reduces confusion.

It seems unlikely that they’ll collapse out of shock and awe. Still, the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion improvises by concentrating their fire on the fleeing rookies to increase the chaos as much as they can.

It’s not a bad call…aside from the fact that Tanya, in the vanguard, has to take on the most troublesome enemy.

“This is such a pain!”

Clicking her tongue in frustration, she manages to get in a couple of direct hits as they accelerate past one another. Then, following fast on their heels, she gets the backs of the enemy mages in range as they try to escape.

Tanya loads formula bullets to spray the careless mages with her submachine gun from a blind spot at an angle above them; they haven’t even realized she is there. The assumption that she can’t miss from so close turns out to be the beginning of her bad luck.

An enemy magic officer, defensive shell at full power, zooms into her line of fire. That will to shield their subordinates is commendable, and after Tanya’s shots, the mages fire a few formulas in retaliation.

Luckily, they’re shooting without really aiming, so she doesn’t have to actively deal with them, but missing her initial mark was still a mistake.


The wide-eyed target looks to their slowly falling officer, then at Tanya, and with a shudder of rage, they charge in a way that can only be described as obsessed.

All she has on hand is a spent submachine gun. Meanwhile, the enemy mage coming at her with a battle cry has raised a magic blade.

It’s a dopey rush, but annoyingly, it also presents a danger to Tanya. She can request support, but Serebryakov is on the ground supporting the package.

Her subordinates are also split up in pursuit of other mages, so it doesn’t seem like she can rely on them as a source of nearby assistance. At this point, she’s stuck relying on herself in a hand-to-hand fight which she hates. Tanya is about to manifest a magic blade even though it’s the last thing she wants to do, when she realizes something.

“Agh, this reminds me of that one awful time!”

When was that? What crosses her mind is that horrible experience where some apparent marine mages on direct support duty brought a fight into close quarters up in the Entente Alliance. Under the circumstances, getting into a bayonet fight would make it harder to move just by virtue of having someone riding her tail.

Back then she resolved it with her bayonet, but letting past experience influence you too much is a bad move. Her submachine gun doesn’t have a bayonet anyhow, but she’s really not keen on getting into a serious fencing match either way.

In that case… Having changed her mind, Tanya moves briskly. Promptly ejecting the empty magazine, she throws it at the enemy mage. The moment her opponent assumes a passive defensive position, unsure what the projectile is, Tanya grins: You’re mine.

The mage is caught off guard when nothing happens and Tanya speeds up and charges, wielding the wooden butt of her gun a bayonet drill trick.

She sends her stock on an accelerated visit to the mage’s abdomen.


Judging from the groan and the feeling in her hands, she’s definitely broken some bones. Any normal person would die right there…but apparently, it wasn’t quite enough against a mage with a defensive shell up. As she’s thinking what a pain close-quarters fights are, she finally makes out her opponent’s face.

The agonized gasps for oxygen are higher pitched than she would expect.

When she looks, she finds a young woman, not yet of age. Tanya somewhat regrets slamming the butt of her gun, wooden though it may be, into the woman’s abdomen.

But it’s just the way of the battlefield.

This would be the time to say, You shouldn’t have come here.

Once you’re in your gear and out on the battlefield, there’s no difference between a man and a woman. Kill the enemy or be killed.

Of course, Tanya’s unreserved personal opinion is that if there’s a provision for women and children, she wants it applied to herself.

Okay, this hand-to-hand combat is a pain, but I’ll take some distance and… As she’s thinking this, Tanya finally realizes the serious impact that single blow had on her opponent.

The enemy soldier gapes at the submachine gun Tanya thrust out at her.

Such a change has come over her that it’s hard to imagine she was full of fighting spirit only a moment ago. It’s such a surprise that, for just a second, Tanya doesn’t understand what the other girl is doing. But experience doesn’t let her down. Though her mind hesitates, her body remembers what to do when the enemy stops moving.

Tanya is so used to fighting that her arms and legs disregard her brain’s confusion; they know what to do it’s simple: She slams in a fresh magazine and efficiently moves the first shot into the chamber.

Even with a submachine gun’s bloom problems, at this distance an attack should connect even if you’re shaken or confused.

“Good-bye, I guess?”


Aiming at the enemy soldier who is saying some shit, she pulls the trigger. The rhythmic noises of the mechanisms and the shots themselves ring throughout the air, and a beat later, the bullets that connect pierce the mage’s protective film. But even though some of them smash into her defensive shell and bits of blood and flesh form a red flower blooming in the sky, it’s not enough.

One look, with her experience, tells her it’s not fatal.

“Tch, you’re a tough one.”

I emptied a whole magazine and couldn’t fatally injure her. Is it because I underestimated her defensive shell? Or does this submachine gun just not pack that much punch? Clicking her tongue, Tanya takes some distance.

“01, down and to your right!”

At the same time, when she twists around according to her subordinate’s shout, she sees an enemy mage about to cast an optical sniping formula. Virtually by instinct, Tanya performs evasive maneuvers and checks out the rest of the area.

“That’s enough! I won’t let you kill them! I won’t!”

A solo enemy is approaching with a scream. Is the idea to assist in the escape by distracting me? Formula deployment speed is average, but the aim and density speak volumes about what a talented shot this mage is. I suppose the choice of an optical sniping formula is admirable under these circumstances, as well. Indeed, with the two sides mixed up in a dogfight, being worried about hitting the wrong person is the correct tactic. But… Tanya grins.

But they’re fighting under different conditions. All Tanya has to do is take out the enemies, but the other one has to bend over backward to protect these two burdens.

This officer is textbook perfect overly so.

After nimbly dodging, she counters immediately. She forms and casts an explosion formula with no hesitation. When she sees the blast swallow the enemy soldier trying to go for cover, she’s certain of the result. On top of losing the signature, the body is falling headfirst. The officer is definitely powerless.

Tanya turns to set her sight back on the mage she didn’t get to finish off before, but she realizes she’s lost her target.

Either she descended or fell, but…it didn’t feel like she had killed her. In fact, she was a better mage than Tanya had expected.

“Tough and quick to run. I really wanted to finish her.”

The main assumption you can make of a talented mage who survives the battlefield is that they make it back alive and gain experience; that’s only a matter of course.

The fish that got away can grow to be unexpectedly big. Tanya has to admit that she feels regret in all sorts of ways. What a waste.

But she can feel bitter for only so long. So I couldn’t take her out Tanya clicks her tongue Guess I missed a point. She sighs and shakes her head.

“We’re going down! Any longer than this and we’re stuck in a swamp. Prepare to pull out!”

At that point, Tanya’s escaped prey had been shelved in her mind.

It’s important to cut your losses.

As a commander, Tanya can quickly switch gears to considering the status of her unit. At a glance, it seems her troops are still fighting hard…but anyhow, it’s an aerial battle. Aerial battles last only a few minutes and fatigue you so much more than you could ever imagine happening in a land battle. And fatigue rapidly increases the frequency of mistakes.

“Be aware of your limits! All units, if you drop out, it will be next to impossible to take care of you! Cover for each other in your pairs and get ready to withdraw!”

The situation being such that it is, they can’t get out so easily, but neither can they stick around. That’s what delaying combat is all about.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, 01! The unit has succeeded in getting the package safely off the ground! The package is now withdrawing at full speed!”

“Great! We’re pulling out, too! Band together quickly, and let’s cover one another as we go!”

So when Tanya finally receives the much-anticipated mission success notice, she decides it’s time to withdraw.

“The mission’s accomplished! Any further combat is too much risk! All companies, leave your parting gifts now! Give them two rounds of your explosion formula at max output!”

Upon receiving the order, her troops scatter smoke and noise less to hit the enemy than to slow their pursuit  and skedaddle.

“Withdraw! We’re not picking up any dropouts!”

“Any numbskull who would drop out now isn’t a member of my battalion!”

“Huh? Are you telling us not to pick up any pets?”

“Right, you’ll have to put it back where you found it!”

The bantering unit is the very definition of elated. As for their status, no losses. All that needs to be taken care of is a written explanation for why they jettisoned their heavy gear and anti–surface strike equipment.

She can probably foist that fight on Galba Control.

Well, Tanya thinks optimistically, I should call it a win that we learned something about combat rescue missions in enemy territory.

A mage unit can perform anti-surface attacks as well as fish out any downed friendlies. In a way, you can almost say we pioneered a new realm of mage operation.

“Troops, it’s fine to enjoy yourselves, but cut the chatter! Withdraw, withdraw!”

““““Yes, ma’am!””””

Mary Sue experienced true hatred for the first time that day.

It hurt to fall to the ground.


It hurt more to be shot.

“…That was Dad’s gun.”

But compared to the pain in her heart… Compared to the overwhelming hatred…

“…She…she killed him!”

Mary Sue would never forget her. The gun that she gave her father… She thought it must have been lost the day he died…

…His hands were so warm.

It should have been held in those hands.

But instead, of all people, an imperial soldier…that devil was brandishing it!

“How dare you shoot that gun?! How could you? How could you? I gave it to my dad, and you…you!”

Dear God, why…?

“I’ll never forgive her. Not ever, not her!”

Dear God, please give me strength…

…Please give me strength to kill that devil.


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