Youjo Senki, Volumen 5, Capitulo 3

Chapter III, Northern Operation


Every time she goes through the gate to the General Staff Office, Tanya thinks, The higher-ups really just do whatever they want.

It’s been mere hours since she pulled her Kampfgruppe out of the east and returned to the imperial capital. They’d been sent there on the pretext of surveying the situation, but a single sudden order called them back.

Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff is diligent, has a rich work ethic, and is a far cry from those slackers who hate doing their salary’s worth of labor. But even she finds a bone to pick when the General Staff keeps changing her assignment.

It’s no easy task to move an entire Kampfgruppe from the east back to the capital.

After all, we report directly to the General Staff. And we were deployed to a region on the eastern front under the Eastern Army Group’s jurisdiction. It wasn’t that we were on loan to them, but we were stationed there. Of course, with orders, we were permitted to leave, but…a rapid withdrawal couldn’t possibly go smoothly.

The biggest problem was how to get back to the capital. It’s not as simple as a long train ride with a smart card. There are limits to which train cars the Imperial Army can use. Even if we’re told on paper that efforts will be made to make a transfer more convenient…that’s not always the case in the field.

Even in the comfy plan with the big official stamp on it, the space we are guaranteed on the trains can be lost thanks to the weather, technical issues, or someone else cutting in.

About a week ago, Tanya had been rushing around arranging space for the armored unit and artillery’s heavy gear and managed to get her helpful adjutant to pick up some souvenirs from the east.

A few days ago, she just barely managed to nap in the cramped first-class compartment.

Last night, she arrived at the capital.

And as she was busy with all that, she received yet another telegram from the General Staff. It was a message from Lieutenant General von Rudersdorf before she could even report in. It really makes you feel that the higher-ups think only of their own convenience.

Of course, that was her personal feeling. She couldn’t very well refuse a request based on proper function and authority.

So if she was summoned, she had to go. The moment in the middle of the night that she received the telegram saying to show up at the crack of dawn, she elected to take a nap, and she was right to decide that sleeping even a few hours would give her a clearer head than none at all.

She was slightly less tired when her adjutant woke her up. Then all she had to do as a magic officer in the Imperial Army was put on her immaculately pressed uniform and pry her eyes open with some ersatz coffee, and it was time for work.

As long as she was headed to the General Staff Office, she figured she should bring the souvenirs from the east, so she packed up her officer suitcase and prepared to leave.

Flawlessly dressed according to regulations, she feigned quiet contemplation and nodded off in the car the General Staff sent around — she got her sleep where she could.

From the moment she arrived at the office, she’s been willing her sleepiness away. She approaches the MP desk with a disciplined gait.

“State your name and rank.”

As usual, it should probably be said? Reception at the General Staff Office, though a formality, is staffed by pros who don’t slack.

I don’t want to admit it, but I know that I stand out with my appearance as a little girl. These are guys stationed at the entrance to the General Staff Office; they must have superior recall.

“Magic Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff of the Salamander Kampfgruppe, currently assigned to the eastern front.”

“Colonel von Degurechaff. One moment please.”

People who don’t understand tend to scoff at these procedures as a waste of time. Sadly, that means they’ve gotten too comfortable. Even if both parties know that omitting the administrative tasks goes against regulations, it happens fairly often between friends.

But these fellows at the General Staff Office don’t forget to challenge visitors. It’s a manifestation of a healthy focus on their job. This is what it means to have a favorable impression of someone and respect them. How could I object to their handling of the situation when it’s based on regulations?

“We’ve received confirmation. You’re expected. Please proceed to the Operations Division.”

She leaves them with a thank-you and walks the halls she knows by heart. From what she can tell at a glance, there is none of the hustle and bustle that precedes a major operation.

None of the staffers coming and going looks very tense. So then, Tanya cocks her head. She was worried that she had been summoned to be sent into another big operation, but…

Was I wrong? She takes a closer look at the passing personnel’s expressions, though not close enough to be impolite, but… Just then her gaze rests on a certain face.

“Oh, long time no see.”

“If it isn’t Colonel Uger. It’s been a while.”

They exchange salutes and pleasantries upon meeting each other again. When Tanya glances at her watch, she sees she still has some time until her meeting with General von Rudersdorf.

“Well, it’s great to see you in one piece. Hey, are you busy today?”

“I arrived much earlier than necessary, so…I do have some time.”

“Then, well, come with me for a minute.”

He winks and suggests they talk as they walk, but Tanya says, “Before that…,” sets down her suitcase, and takes something out. “I’m glad I ran into you. I was going to bring this by later — a thank-you for before.”

She’s taken out a glass jar. It’s one of the many souvenirs she had First Lieutenant Serebryakov buy up in the east.

“It’s honey from the region I was stationed in. You can share it with your family, if you like.”

“Oh, honestly, this is great. Thank you.”

Hmm? Tanya wonders about the relief in his words of gratitude. It’s only honey… Is it really something to be that happy about?

“Well, you gave me coffee, so I thought it seemed right.”

“Ha-ha-ha, yes, I suppose we both ended up with what we prefer.”

Tanya knows Lieutenant Colonel Uger fairly well, since they went to war college together.

He’s a person who can be described as tremendously serious and honest. If a mere thank-you gift of honey is enough to get a handshake of gratitude, this is pretty strange.

“…Is the food situation in the rear as bad as all that?”

“It’s not a crisis, so in that sense, it’s not so horrible.”

So he must not be starving. None of the people walking by seemed to be going hungry, either.

Well, Tanya adds.

This is the hub of the Imperial Army, the General Staff Office. If even the staff officers were starving, it would be no time to fight a war.

“And actually, rationing is going more smoothly compared to the beginning of the war.”

“So life on the home front is all right?”

“Yeah, it’s all right. Technically, we should say it’s perfectly fine in terms of calories and nutrition. Although we’re going to get awfully sick of rutabagas this winter.”

The tired tone of his voice says it all.

The ration system is working, but only so far as nutrient intake. Rutabagas are a root vegetable and a turnip with no reputation for flavor, at that.

I heard they were originally used as feed for livestock. If that sort of thing has made it onto the ration list…it’s easy to gather what the actual state of affairs is like.

“To inquire bluntly, what about luxury items?”

“We probably can’t expect many when we’re at war. The Commonwealth’s naval blockade has deprived our tables of coffee completely.”

“Ahhh,” she can’t help but lament.

I don’t dislike meals aiming for efficiency, but humans are humans due to their culture and creativity. From the standpoint of respecting personal liberties, it’s sad that people’s freedom of diet has been limited.

It’s another cruel facet of war.

“That’s quite serious, then, isn’t it? Let’s hope for retaliation from our submarines.”

“Indeed. Colonel von Degurechaff. I don’t know if you have time or not, but if you do, come by the Service Corps desk. I’ll treat you to lunch.”

“Understood. I’ll be looking forward to it. Oh, but it is time, isn’t it?”

A glance at a clock on the wall tells her it’s nearly time for her appointment.

“Okay, if things go well, I’ll see you later.”

Though she’s worried about the home front, her duty comes first. With a bow, she heads deeper into the General Staff Office where the Operations Division is.

Tanya braces herself, unsure what awaits her…and encounters her greatest enemy: General von Rudersdorf beaming with a plastered-on smile.

The smile of a war planner is never a good sign. If he’s laughing? You’d best be turning right back around and escaping, if you can. It’s like being sneak attacked by the enemy — who knows what will happen now?

“It’s been a long time, Colonel von Degurechaff.”

“Yes, sir, it’s been a while. My Kampfgruppe arrived in the capital yesterday! We’re currently located at the designated barracks.”

“Yes, I’ve heard. I feel bad for the officers, but I thought we should give the men a few days on leave, so I’ve gone ahead and made those arrangements. To the extent you can, allow them to go home.”

“I appreciate your consideration for my subordinates, sir.”

Their conversation is based on the formulaic standard, but there is open affection. Though within the framework of superior and subordinate, their exchange seems to indicate their mutual respect.

This is strange as well.

Alarms go off in Tanya’s head. It’s really weird for General von Rudersdorf to be so diplomatic.

A military man who usually gets straight to the point is inexplicably beating around the bush today?

“All right, let’s get down to business. Colonel von Degurechaff, you’ve done a fine job with supporting the main army on the eastern front, investigating the enemy’s status, and commanding the experimental Kampfgruppe.”

What warm remarks.

If she didn’t know what he was usually like, she might have been touched. That’s how amicable his tone and eyes are. Conversely, since she does know how he talks on a normal day, she shudders.

He tells me we’re getting down to business and then praises me…? What soldier impatient to the point of rudeness would do such a thing?

“I merely did my duty, sir.”

“There’s no need to be modest. It’s due to your peerless devotion. General von Zettour sends his admiration as well.”

Now the chills are really going up her spine.

“That and please accept this without protest.”

“Thank you, sir.”

He offers her a small wooden box.

Wondering if she’s being given a bomb, she nervously takes it and finds it to be much heavier than it looks. Now she’s sure it must be a bomb, but when she opens it, she finds…a medal?

“It’s the White Wings Grand Iron Cross, awarded for your intelligence gathering and test run of the Kampfgruppe. And the recommendation came from — how fancy — the General Staff Military Intelligence Division.”

“That’s…Wow. I’m so honored.”

A “recommendation” from the General Staff Military Intelligence Division? For a White Wings Grand Iron Cross?

To express her sentiment in metaphor, being presented with a hand grenade would have made her feel more at ease.

This is the Operations Division deep inside the General Staff Office.

But. Tanya tenses up. She might as well be on the front lines. No, this place is as dangerous as no-man’s-land on the intense Rhine front.

“Now then, Colonel. You’ve performed so splendidly, so it’s hard for me to say this, but I have an order for the Kampfgruppe to be disbanded.”

Tanya gasps. It’s so sudden.

“I beg your pardon, General, but what did you just say?”

“I’ll be frank, Colonel.”

Her superior’s joke is hard to grasp. Is this what it’s like to see your shocked expression reflected in General von Rudersdorf’s eyes?

“The Salamander Kampfgruppe has accomplished what it was formed to do. Now we’re going to send the units back to their original stations.”


Send them back?

For a moment, Tanya is speechless, but then she yells at her superior. “Please don’t break up my Kampfgruppe! They’ve finally come together as a combat group!”

“It’s the Empire’s Kampfgruppe, Colonel.”

“…Ngh, please excuse my outburst.”

The general wears a small, wry smile and says it’s fine as he hands over the sheaf of orders. But Tanya still can’t accept it and raises her voice again.

“I worked so hard to train them! A commander like that can’t abandon their unit!”

They’re my pawns to move.

She doesn’t want even a superior officer laying a hand on her men.

…Whether in a company or the military, the chain of command works the same way.

Nothing good comes of a commander’s superior overruling them!

Yet now…the General Staff is stepping in on my command?

“It’s unheard of to disband a unit that is prepared to be deployed at any time!”

“All your arguments are valid.”

“If that’s true, then!” She’s about to beg him to reconsider when…

“Colonel von Degurechaff, I’m sure you remember this, but the Kampfgruppe was formed and tested as an ad hoc task force, not as a regular unit.”

“…So you’re saying I shouldn’t have invested in it?”

“The intention was for you to test the ‘ad hoc formation’ part. You built a magnificent team of elites too magnificent. I can understand that it’s a shame to disband them, but…,” he continues soberly. “A single elite Kampfgruppe isn’t what we need. Kampfgruppen make many types of combat possible. But the critical factor is the doctrinal knowledge on how to form them ad hoc on an organizational level, not the strength or talent of a single commander.”

The logic is sound. Thinking of the entire Imperial Army, it’s better to have universal standards that can be applied everywhere rather than outstanding individual feats.

When it comes to Kampfgruppen, I can see how they would want to be operating with many of them.

“I’m sure you understand. In order to create a foundation where the General Staff can form Kampfgruppen and entrust them to officers, we need to acquire the know-how.”

We shouldn’t go about making an irreplaceable cog. He’s right that we need a few people who know about making, duplicating, and employing cogs in an organization.

And in the military, where attrition is a given, it’s important to have multiple backups. Logically, it does make sense.

But even so, Tanya still argues. “Please take the situation in the east into account!”

She’s practically shrieking.

She has just returned from the forward-most line on the eastern front. For someone aware of what is happening in the present tense, it’s impossible to blithely follow logic.

Reasoning that works in one context isn’t necessarily sound in another.

“This is only a lull! Shouldn’t we acknowledge the value of having a good, able combat asset like a Kampfgruppe as a strategic reserve?”

“Of course we considered using it as a strategic reserve. But the lull is a stroke of luck. Now is the time to look ahead.”


“Our rate of attrition on the eastern front is severe. If we keep losing soldiers at this rate, our army’s combat capability will be worn down to nothing.”

“Nrgh.” Tanya is lost for words despite herself.

She can’t help but nod… The Empire has been pouring vast amounts of blood and iron into the east at an unbelievable pace.

It’s not as if the army will cease to exist by tomorrow.

Neither will there be any operation issues next week.

Even next month, the forces should be able to maintain their combat capability.

And with luck, they might make it through next year without collapsing.

But it would still chip away at the Empire’s finite human resources. They would slip away like grains of sand in an hourglass.

…But unlike an hourglass, there’s no way to flip over and start again.

“Soon we’ll be forced to make use of crumbled units. That day may not be tomorrow, but it’s coming. So it’s essential that we, as an organization, learn Kampfgruppen doctrine so we can reorganize units on the fly, even if it’s atypical.”

Considering the nightmare of their decreasing human resources, I can understand why Operations would jump at Kampfgruppen operation as the knowledge for reorganizing collapsed units.

“That you pulled off the formation so quickly gave us hope, and we’re grateful for that. So I’m sorry, but it’s time for the General Staff to test out that know-how. Go back to commanding the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion for now.”

“…Yes, sir.”

There’s no room to argue. When she thinks of all the authority being taken away from her…she feels downhearted, even.

“That said, at the moment, the only one with successful experience leading a Kampfgruppe is you. In the not-too-distant future, we’d like you to lead one that we form and collect data for us.”

“Understood. I’ll do my best. When will I be posted to the General Staff–formed Kampfgruppe?”

“Actually, you won’t have to wait very long.”

“What do you mean, sir?”

“Work is already under way. It should only take another week, maybe ten days. The objective is to give young officers experience. And we don’t want you to be without a Kampfgruppe for too long, either.”

The idea of having her veteran team taken away from her and being given a test team selected by the General Staff makes her dizzy. I get it because I used to work in HR: It’ll be a team that is convenient for HQ but which doesn’t take the people on the ground into consideration.

“So what will the battalion and I do until then?”

“I would have liked to give you leave, but the Empire isn’t in any position to let free units twiddle their thumbs. We’ve got work for you to do, Colonel.”

“Yes, sir!”

Though she replies gallantly with her heels snapped together, her mind is gloomy in inverse proportion to her voice. This is what it means for your nerves to start wearing thin.

“Very good. Then let’s have you play pirates. You can teach real pirates how to fight a war using live ammunition.”

He sets an operation plan before her, and the paper makes a slight noise.

Surprisingly, we’re being assigned to the north, not the east where the intense fighting is going on. It’s a patrol mission over the autumn Northern Sea… If I’m going to do it, I’d much rather do it in the summer.

“…We’re joining a maritime patrol line?”

“Yes. There aren’t many mage battalions that can handle long-range searches over water. The guys up north came begging us to lend you to them.”

The Northern Sea is famous for its cold temperatures. Even though it’s only the beginning of fall, it’s sure to be chilly already.

Of all the times of year to do long-distance flights through sea breezes… We just keep getting the short end of the stick.

“Nominally, it’s an on-the-spot inspection. Well, you’ll be given the details when you get there. That said, this is all very sudden. I do feel bad about it. Plan on being gone about a week.”


I do understand.

Even if she doesn’t accept it, it’s an order. So then. She grits her teeth. She has to do as they say.

She performs a salute according to the manual, all her fingers perfectly in line.

Thus, after losing her Kampfgruppe, Magic Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff takes in the news that she will be flung into a literal frigid nowhere.

She had no choice. No, she wasn’t even asked. She was told. It was unavoidable.

I gotta get this off my mind, she thinks and begins looking forward to the free lunch Colonel Uger promised her.

Not that she doesn’t regret that.

…I must have been more sleep-deprived than I realized. What Colonel Uger said was true.

The meal was indeed free.

It was the food from the General Staff Office army dining hall if you can call the horrifically stewed lumps “food,” that is.

“Ha-ha-ha, I heard the news! General von Rudersdorf sure works his people hard.”

Sitting across from her, laughing with luxury flatware in hand, is her dear old classmate.

You can’t just… Tanya decides to warn him. “Are you familiar with the words military secret, Colonel Uger?”

“That’s a very good point.” He laughs. “But you don’t need to worry.” He averts his eyes from the not inedible thing the General Staff dining room served as lunch and shrugs innocently. “Disbanding the unit and reassigning you guys falls to the Service Corps. In other words…”

He brings his fork to his mouth, frowns for a moment, picks up his water, and washes down whatever it was to continue speaking. It’s not good manners to have things in your mouth, so he drank the water for the conversation’s sake… Of course, that’s just how we dress up the chore of extracting nutrients from disgustingly flavored food.

I’m compelled to remark that the offerings of the General Staff Office’s banquet hall taste as horrible as ever. It’s like the food quality is sacrificed to and becomes the inverse of the plate quality.

“To give away the secret, I’m in charge. Naturally, then, arguing with you about your assignment is part of my responsibility.”

“How nice to have a close friend on the case.” She is grateful but also a bit wary, since it’s different from usual. “I was sure it was Colonel von Lergen.”

They eat as they talk. That way, they can distract themselves from the alleged “food” provided by the mess hall the General Staff is so proud of.

Speaking strictly of the flavor, the food on the forward-most line is a bit…no, quite a bit better. This is a moment she is glad to be a magic officer provided with a high-calorie diet.

The chocolate and cookies they get as extras taste pretty good. If they were the same quality as the banquet hall food, it would be difficult to avoid losing the will to fight.

“Who knows? It’s probably just convenient. It’s not as if we need to know. Still, a search-and-destroy mission over waters you’re assigned to sure brings back memories.”

His eyes are expressing something like a smile, but he’s not smiling.

Oh, I see.

If he’s telling me indirectly not to ask what Colonel von Lergen is up to, then…is that what this is about?

“But…it sure is a pain. As the free unit being sent in, we can’t help but be puzzled. An operation premised on an on-the-spot inspection of civilian ships…?”

“Right, what if you accidentally sank them? You have a record, after all. We in the Service Corps will be concerned for the digestive health of our colleagues in legal.”

I feel like I’ve been hit where it hurts. And Tanya can’t help but wince. That was an accident, but yeah…I can see how it would be considered a “record.”

“And in the Northern Sea…? Commerce raiding up there would be politically problematic.”

“So we’re being considerate to the people residing on some other continent or whatever?”

There is only one nationality of ship sailing the Northern Sea that would require an on-the-spot inspection. It would only be ships from the Unified States.

When you think about it, there’s no reason a civilian ship would be crossing such dangerous waters.

No, there should be no reason at all, and yet strangely…retired Unified States Navy sailors are apparently finding new positions on civilian ships in the Northern Sea.

“It’s ridiculous, but on the other hand, I can’t say we shouldn’t go through with it. Am I wrong, Colonel von Degurechaff?”

So all Tanya can do is respond with a wry smile.

“No, I think you’re right. It makes sense.”

The General Staff and Army Command, who want to prevent the Federation Army from getting any stronger, have pulled Navy Command into this strange relationship — where they actually have different ideas but are working together on the pretext of letting them finally take credit for something. Then the Foreign Office must have stepped in to request some political consideration. They’re right, but it’s the ones in the field who have a hard time.

This is just the kind of situation when you have to hold back a sigh. Bad food, depressing conversation. And on top of that, the annoying situation in the field and political backdrop.

Sheesh. Then just as Tanya is sipping her pseudo–ersatz coffee…

“…So I’m just talking to myself, but…” Colonel Uger speaks suddenly once the waiter has left them. “The Northern Sea operation your unit is being deployed for is made possible by the joint intelligence agency of the Army and Navy Commands.”

Tanya cocks her head in spite of herself.

The bad relationship between the General Staff Military Intelligence Division and the joint intelligence department of the Army and Navy Commands is legendary. They always clash on vertical hierarchy, budget allocation, and authority issues. She heard they needed to work on integration, but…

Apparently, this White Wings Grand Iron Cross is going to bring trouble, just as I thought.

“The disbanding of the Kampfgruppe had already been decided. But I heard the higher-ups wanted to put you in the instructor unit doing combat skill research.”

…So an extremely reasonable and utterly peaceful life in the rear was stolen from me yet again? Again?

“It was a quick intervention that resulted in the change to the north. Intelligence is moving really fast on this. Well, it’s no wonder. They’re in a much more delicate position than the guys in the Military Intelligence Division.”

…They’d messed up in the fights with the Entente Alliance, the Republic, and Dacia.

After ignoring the somewhat forceful warnings from the General Staff, the army and navy must be aiming to regain their power even if it means risking their honor.

“That’s why they’re so keen to bring down something big.”

“And what’s that?”

“…I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like they’re planning any major operations.”

If the Service Corps isn’t aware of it…then they can’t be moving that many troops. It would be difficult to use a big army without stockpiling supplies ahead of time with the support of the Service Corps.

“In which case…I’m just talking to myself, but…something smells like trouble.”

So that’s what’s so fishy.

We, the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, are inherently fairly easy to use. We’re one of the few commands with outstanding firepower that can be deployed without putting too much stress on the logistics network.

We must be extremely convenient.

The intelligence agency must be envious.

“I’ll bear that in mind, although I don’t really expect Intelligence to collect accurate info.”

“How could you? Those guys need help.” With that comment and a wry smile, Colonel Uger’s tone of voice changes. Oh, I see, so that’s the end of that conversation, then?

“…Speaking of needing help, first up should be this dining hall, no?”

“I heartily agree, Colonel von Degurechaff. The General Staff definitely needs some superior intelligence officers and some cooks with a sense of taste.”

She agrees, but she also notes that he’s holding the conversation back due to the proximity of the waiter, so she arranges her knife and fork and tamely feigns ignorance.

Once their dishes are cleared and Tanya is enjoying her post-meal tea, Uger addresses her, as if he just remembered something, in a businesslike manner. “Now then, I have a present for you. I had Colonel von Lergen arrange a going-away party for your Kampfgruppe at the officers’ club. So I hope you’ll drink up.”

“So there was a reason to suffer through this meal.”

“Ha-ha-ha. I’m taking a page from General von Zettour’s book. Every chance he gets, he treats people from outside to this food.”

“The world is going to start calling you Service Corps officers out on your nasty habits.”

“Oh, we risk our lives so you guys on the front know how hard we are working. All right, I’ll see you again sometime.”

“Yes, see you again.”


Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff is a distinguished magic officer with the Silver Wings Assault Badge, a seasoned aerial mage crowned with the alias White Silver. She’s a diligent officer who adheres strictly to the rules but also grasps the concepts of authority and duty well enough to exercise appropriate discretion during missions. As such, she’s a good person who hews closely to the image of the Empire’s ideal officer.

Thus, Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff has been extremely loyal, if only superficially, to the Imperial Army’s paradigm.

Until today, at this moment.

“…Move, Corporal. Do you know whose way you’re in?”

“Sorry, Colonel von Degurechaff, but I can’t do that.”

The one holding his ground even under Tanya’s stubborn gaze is…a corporal at the officers’ club. Well, if he’s an imperial soldier working at the officers’ club in imperial capital Berun, then I see it makes sense that he would be chosen for both looks and ability.

He’s not timid, but he also has the proper courteous attitude. Tanya isn’t against calling him the best sort of honor guard.

“I’ll make myself clear. I’m an active-duty aerial magic officer. If you try to obstruct the exercise of my valid rights, I don’t care if you’re an MP from our side or not you won’t get off so easily.”

“With all due respect, ma’am, it’s the rules!”

The only problem is… Tanya repeats her request and sighs internally.

Rules, rules, rules.

What a stickler.

He’s like an RPG villager who only repeats his programmed lines. I really start to wonder if all he can say is It’s the rules, so you may not enter.

So Tanya speaks up with determination. “You must be joking! I’m an officer! Can you not see these?” She points at the insignia on her collar and shoulder and even thrusts her General Staff braid at him, but he doesn’t react at all.

“With all due respect, ma’am, the rules prohibit it.”

“Sorry, Corporal. As far as I know, there’s no rule against officers making use of the officers’ club.”

“That’s true, Colonel, but the law prohibits minors from smoking and drinking!”

“Huh?” The question slips out of her throat in spite of herself as she scowls at him.

What did he…What did he just say?

“S-smoking and drinking?”

Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff is a high-ranking officer who adheres strictly to the rules. Naturally, she is more than well aware of the age restrictions on smoking and drinking.

She doesn’t drink or smoke.

Of all the things to say…

“Should I just take that as an insult, Corporal? Who’s trying to smoke or drink?! I’m just telling you to let me into the bar!”

“My sincere apologies, Colonel von Degurechaff. Your intent is not at issue! It’s purely your age!”

“I’m here on military business!”

The words age restrictions disappear when it comes to military business. How could the younger guys fight in the night battles if they had to follow the curfew?! At that point, every last high-ranking officer would have to be dishonorably discharged for aiding and abetting public morality violations.

“It’s possible I’m uninformed on the matter, but I haven’t heard any ludicrous stories about officers of units fighting in no-man’s-land on the Rhine front being indicted by the Ministry of the Interior for commanding minors.”

“Huh? Colonel?”

“On military business, the military laws of the Imperial Army take precedence! At a military facility, military law should be applied, no?”

“My apologies, ma’am, but this isn’t a military facility! It was established with private capital, so please understand that, legally, minors are strictly prohibited from entering at night!”

When Tanya asks for clarification, the corporal unflinchingly provides the basis for his assertion.

The moment she hears it aha! she understands why he has been repeating, “It’s the rules. You can’t enter,” even if she doesn’t accept it.

It’s a problem of interpretation.

Apparently, because the bar is operated by civilians…this corporal doesn’t view it as a military facility. But, Tanya smiles.

She’s quite confident in her legal interpretations.

“The officers’ club is funded with private capital. In other words, people who pay the monthly officers’ club dues have the right to use it.”

Just like mandatory insurance, the dues are deducted every month from her wages. They force me to pay club dues! Tanya is therefore compelled to insist on her rights.

As a free individual, she must protect her rights.

I don’t care about alcohol or tobacco in particular, but I’m determined to defend my rights from being violated with everything I have. That’s the duty of a free individual in modern times. I’ve got to get bastards like Being X and other numbskull idiots to understand the concept of sacred, inviolable rights.

“I have the right to make use of the facilities.” So Tanya doesn’t back down. “I’d like you to let me use them.”

“I don’t mean to deny your right to use the officers’ club! But I can’t make the call about your use of the bar inside.”

So you’re going to put up a fight, then? They stand in conflict, frowning at each other.

To Tanya, this futile argument is only a waste of time. She glances at her watch and sees it is nearly time to meet the others.

Of course, officers come five minutes early.

People are waiting for me…, Tanya laments in her head.

Even if it’s Weiss, Visha, and Grantz from her battalion, making people wait itself is extremely irritating to someone who is punctual.

Tanya’s delicate sensibilities can’t endure any more time wasting.

“…This is an official warning, Corporal. Did you get an explicit order from your direct superior to not let minors in? Or are you refusing me on your own discretion?”

She asks if it’s him or his superior.

If it’s his own discretion, she’s determined to push past him without hesitation.

From experience, Tanya knows that you should handle idiots differently from people who have to follow idiotic orders.

If the cause of the issue is a small fry, you should just get rid of him. But if the fundamental issue is higher up, Tanya knows to blame the superior officer.

“I have orders from my direct superior based on the Wartime Public Morality Control Ordinance.”

“…Fine, Corporal. I respect your duties. Tell me who gave this shitty, stupid order. Then I want you to call someone who is inside for me.”

“Yes, ma’am. Who shall I call?”

“Get First Lieutenant Serebryakov from the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion. We’re going to get a proper record of your statement and then go and protest to your boss.”

Which is why…

Even though she knows she’ll be laughed at later, she requests that her adjutant be summoned so they can change the venue of the party.

Thus, I suppose?

To mention only the outcome, though it became a small incident that gave the person involved an ulcer, what ended up going in the MP log that day was “Nothing to report.”


Tanya received the sealed orders inside the train that had been arranged with bizarre efficiency.

The officer must have been instructed to politely deliver it in person. The young first lieutenant, who seemed to have come from the academy, mistook Major Weiss as the commander and had to take back the envelope he had nearly handed him, but apart from that and the necessity of making a formal complaint to Army Command, there were no issues.

But…it might be good to add that considering the trouble the day before at the bar, Tanya had every right to be irritated.

And so, though part of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion was abnormally tense, the unit entered Norden and finished deploying to the provisional base on the northern edge of the former Entente Alliance territory.

Judging from the collapsed houses and other buildings…the recovery effort wasn’t proceeding very smoothly. But the base that had been established, apparently as an aerial foothold, was equipped with the minimum necessary facilities.

There were lodgings for personnel, control officers, and, most importantly, a canteen.

Since she had been told not to open the sealed orders until further notice, she tossed the envelope into the battalion safe and conducted air battle exercises to get her troops used to the climate and the sky.

She even had them do a scramble exercise the exact moment everyone was hung over from dousing themselves in beer after the first exercise.

Once they understood what would happen to them if they let themselves go, she relaxed the reins a bit.

Which is not to say she told them they could drink as much as they wanted. But she did arrange for the canteen to have a stock of alcoholic drinks at the official price as long as they could maintain moderation.

Of course, that put them in the red, so she had to assist with “General Staff Confidential Funds,” but…Army Command was picking up the tab this time. The Inspection Division’s suggestion that this was appropriation for my own personal use was a misunderstanding.

Tanya kindly replied, “An officer too childish for a messenger to give her the time of day couldn’t possibly drink alcohol. It’s all merely operation costs to boost morale.”

Frankly, if I had a way to embezzle money, I would embezzle as much as I could and worry about it later. Isn’t that what they say? To snatch up funding and authority while the snatching is good?

A few days after that, Army Command apparently took some care when sending someone over. The captain who brought documents addressed to Tanya didn’t make a mistake.

Upon prying open the sealed orders, she nodded and relayed the information to Weiss.

The captain whined about keeping it confidential, so Weiss and Tanya left First Lieutenants Serebryakov and Grantz with him and went to consider their situation.

The conclusion was that it was worth it to trust the information Intelligence had given them and do a search. Not like they could have refused after being ordered by the General Staff to fulfill as many of the joint intelligence agency’s requests as possible, but still.

So it was that, once the briefing had been conducted, the forty-eight members of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion flew, in full gear, into the sky over the Northern Sea.

Even in the northern sky, visibility is surprisingly good. No wireless noise or long-range signal hindrances. The elites at Norden Control are providing navigation support.

“Colonel, we’ve received a transmission. It’s a wide-area broadcast from Norden Control. They’re saying Case C43…”

“Case C43? So it’s what we expected, then.”

Tanya groans at the report from her adjutant Lieutenant Serebryakov in spite of herself. Case C43 means the sub unit has discovered the target as expected. Apparently, the Army and Navy Commands’ joint intelligence agency is competent enough that they can overcome their vertical structures to support each other laterally for the sake of their mission.

…Yes, awfully competent they are.

“Mm.” Tanya nods in deep admiration. “So the army and navy intelligence agency or whatever actually exists. The way they’ve been working, I figured they were freeloaders at best.”

“Ha-ha-ha, you’re right. This might be the first time Intelligence has been useful since I’ve been stationed under you, Colonel.”

Serebryakov, laughing next to her, had been with her suffering on the Rhine front and the reason for that suffering was the failure of command and the General Staff to acquire intel.

Did they work so hard this time to make up for that huge failure?

“I wasn’t convinced when I heard they nailed down the route, but we can’t ignore it when they give us such a detailed projection bursting with so much confidence.”

Expected route, estimated speed, and info about its escort.

The fishy operation plan they approved said that attacking and taking out the engine would be good enough, but now that we know the subs have spotted an enemy ship, the data seems much more reliable.

“Did they break the Commonwealth’s code or something?”

“Who knows? They’re not about to tell us.”

Information sources are protected on principle. You can even call it a rule set in stone.

You might be able to guess things, but the world of espionage is all about deception.

Even if they did tell us where the intel came from, we wouldn’t be able to know how much of what they said was true. There can be any number of sources for analysis, from human intelligence assessments to legal means of intelligence collection or even SIGINT.

So it’s a waste of brainpower to try to worry about it.

“That’s for sure. But, Colonel, if the enemy finds out that we know what they’re up to now, won’t that hamper future espionage efforts?”

“Visha, we’re here to execute. If the top hands us some intel and tells us to move out, worrying about where the intel came from is pointless.”

There’s a heavy sigh.

To think they would hear an easygoing Lieutenant Grantz come booming over the wireless… I thought he was pretty tense, but he must be an optimist deep down.

“…I’d actually like you to think a bit, though, Lieutenant Grantz.”

“M-Major Weiss, that’s a little…”

Weiss with his common sense probably can’t stand that sort of talk. There’s nothing wrong with optimism, but it depends on the context.

No. Tanya has a second thought.

Though they are flying a mission, they haven’t yet encountered the enemy. If Weiss is playing around, I’ll join in, too.

“I agree with Major Weiss. Lieutenant Grantz, if you haven’t been using your head, then you’re not tired at all, right? How about you use your brain to do the battalion’s complicated paperwork?”

“C-can I beg for mercy?”

Grantz must be used to the battlefield enough to catch the change in tone.

“Hey now, Lieutenant Grantz. They say the commander’s supposed to lead the charge, right? Are you lacking initiative? This is no good. I can’t believe a company commander is revealing his lack of fighting spirit before the enemy…”

“Major, give me a break!”

“That’s enough. It’s important to ease the unit’s tension, but I don’t think anyone in my battalion is delicate enough to be nervous except for me.”

“Ha-ha-ha-ha. Now you really must be joking!” Weiss laughs cheerfully.

“Don’t you know what a young girl’s heart is like? I guess my only friend here is Lieutenant Serebryakov.”

“Excuse me, but Colonel? We’re concerned that our dear Visha will vanish. Just what kind of monster are you trying to develop her into?”

“A proper magic officer, clearly. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t make it sound like she’s evil.”

Just a little show of banter for our subordinates before we head into combat.

“…All right, you two, if you could leave it at that. There’s signs of a ship up ahead on the route where we’re projected to encounter the enemy. I’ve spotted it.”

The one who goes so far as to warn us to quit joking around is the one we were talking about. Lieutenant Serebryakov doesn’t even need to be developed she’s already a fine soldier.

Abruptly switching gears, Tanya takes her binoculars and points them in the direction her adjutant indicates.

It’s a little dot, but she can see it. Actually, with that size…if she can see it at this distance, it must be pretty huge.

No doubt about it.

It’s the prey they were expecting, the giant RMS Queen of Anjou. It would be difficult to mistake this singular ship capable of carrying large amounts of both weapons and personnel.

“It’s huge, huh? It’s just one transport ship, but it’s still pretty overwhelming to see. Well, I guess it’s not quite appropriate to call it just a transport ship. It’s like twisting reality with words.”

In terms of size alone, it appears to surpass even the capital ships of the High Seas Fleet. This ship, weighing tens of thousands of tons, races at incredible speeds across the water and would no doubt break through anything besides a minefield. Once you lay eyes on it, you realize how imposing it is, even if you don’t want to.

“…Colonel, this is bigger than expected, I guess you’d say,” Weiss murmurs in shock. When he comments on how gigantic it is, all she can do is nod.

Tanya herself should have known it was something big enough to warrant a special mission. But even so…the spectacle before her eyes is formidable.

“…Intelligence back home is asking too much.”

“I heard the terms, too, but this is…” Lieutenant Serebryakov trails off. From the way she is peering through her binoculars, the remark was probably half to herself.

“Hearing and seeing are two very different things. They say a floating castle of iron is a warship, but that’s a floating palace of iron.”

It came from my heart.

It’s been a long time since there’s been a fierce battle between a maritime guard and a commerce raider over the water.

About the only carefree lone ships are of neutral nationality or ships that the warring countries have agreed to allow to pass medical boats or prisoner exchanges. Any other ship going alone in these waters would get laughed at as not a daredevil but just plain reckless.

To any unit watching sharp-eyed for prey, an unaccompanied merchant ship is a sitting duck. The Imperial Army’s submarines and air units are excellent hunters.

“And it’s awfully fast. I’m just eyeballing it, but it seems like they’re going…over thirty knots.”

“They sure are. It’s weird… I thought merchant ships had a max speed of twenty. I’m sure that’s what we were taught.”

“There’s always an exception, Major Weiss.”

And this high-speed transport ship before their eyes is one of those few exceptions. It’s a huge ocean liner built not for economic efficiency but out of national pride.

I’d like to laugh it off as a white elephant, but the harsh reality is that I can’t.

“I can see why the imperial blockade basically wouldn’t function.”

Usually, the bigger a ship gets, the more speed it sacrifices. The heavier, the slower. So as a matter of course, a huge ship ends up slow no matter what you do.

Large transport ships tend to be extra slow due to the added weight of their cargo. But apparently, those rules don’t apply to this ship.

“I’m altogether jealous. It must be so stable. If only we had had a ship like that for going to the southern continent, then no one would have gotten seasick.”

“I agree, Major. It’s hard not to be envious of a maritime state’s cargo-passenger ships.”

The sea is rough, but this giant ship isn’t pitching at all.

No, its conspicuously elegant hull slices through the waves as it speeds along. This queen is one wild filly. She can’t be going less than thirty knots.

And astonishingly, that’s its cruising speed. And if you consider that it’s packing enough fuel for a round-trip…it’d be practically impossible to catch with a run-of-the-mill navy ship. I’d like to ask them if they even know what the word economical means.

“That’s with a typical transport ship load, so I’m utterly amazed.”

If it was simply a fast transport ship, it would still be easy to deal with. It would have been a distraction but tolerable. The problem is that it’s enormous.

It was originally built before the war as a passenger ship… Full of people, it rushed across the open sea.

It was the fastest way to travel besides a plane. And if you wanted to, you could pack it with tons of people and cargo.

This is just an estimate, but I bet it could carry a division’s worth of personnel at thirty knots. Or you could fill it with weapons and ammunition and send it cutting across the vast ocean with that thirty-knot speed.

It’s practically a moving maritime logistics base. Palace was the right word.

“All right, battalion. Obviously, we can’t let that thing be.”

“We sure can’t!”

To the Imperial Army, this is nothing but a strategic nightmare. No matter how thorough they’re being with the commerce raiding operations, it’ll be meaningless if the RMS Queen of Anjou gets through.

If the enemy laughed off the blockade mission the submarine units were making such harsh sacrifices for, where would that leave us? And that’s why…we must sink the RMS Queen of Anjou.

“Well, that’s why they picked us to give these orders to. Battalion, prepare to attack.”

“Yes, ma’am. Battalion, prepare to attack!”

“If possible, stop the enemy warship, er, boat. Use explosion formulas to blow away the engine or the rudder!”

For a second, she nearly calls it a warship it’s that imposing. The order to halt Her Majesty as she calmly crosses the vast ocean is definitely another instance of getting the short end of the stick.

I’m impressed the joint intelligence agency managed to pick it up. And I can see why Operations would want to send us in. Even with an ambush, it would be pretty hard to capture it with our existing ships.

“This boat is just too much. They’ve shaken off our superficial efforts and existing paradigm and technology with that size and speed…”

For starters, there’s no way a submarine is going to catch a ship that was a contender for the Blue Riband. I can feel myself ready to grumble at the sky.

It’s not like the imperial subs are subpar.

But subs that even on the surface reach only the twenties when pushing their engines to the limit just can’t compete. And they never expected to have to go up against such a giant monster of a ship.

So it surpasses the imperial subs. The only ones who can chase it are the air forces the Empire is so proud of.

But sadly…

The Empire’s planes are severely limited when it comes to anti-ship attacks.

After all, it’s an issue of whether the mission fits the scope of a tactical air force aiming to support ground troops and fight air battles. Have they begun outfitting themselves for maritime aerial power?

With horizontal bombing, it’s hit or miss. In that respect, aerial mages the other air force are much more accurate.

Hitting the boat, we can do.

I’ve even heard that troops in the south and west have had success in operations attacking smaller ships and torpedo boats.

“Understood. But I think stopping that ship is going to be pretty tough…”

“Even just the engine is probably built to be strong.”

“Right, we can’t ignore the question of whether our firepower will penetrate it.”

But even that is full of issues, as Tanya is forced to point out.

First, aerial mages don’t have unlimited firepower. Particularly when it comes to stopping a huge ship, all we can do is hope for secondary explosions.

“Or maybe we could attack the sides and cause it to take on water or damage the propeller…”

To rob the ship of propulsion, we could probably pull off a focused attack on the stern. But. Tanya is at a loss in this vexing situation.

“But don’t you think they’d have taken some measures against that?”

“Yes, I’m sure at that size they have buoyancy to spare. They may even have a spare rudder. I don’t think we can expect results if we go into this without more info.”

Tanya nods at Weiss’s complaint.

“If only those guys in Intelligence could find us a map of the layout.”

“Apparently, they at least know that there aren’t many escorts.”

“But that’s a given, isn’t it, Major Weiss? It’s way too reckless to ask us to take on that mobile foothold with such few numbers. If they didn’t have that sort of intel, we wouldn’t be taking on that huge ship.”

Our target is a passenger ship. To be explicit, it’s a boat that carries people. We’re fatigued from our long flight, while the enemy is brimming with the energy to come up and intercept.

We wouldn’t have even considered coming near this thing if Intelligence hadn’t guaranteed us that the Commonwealth is relying on its speed and not attaching many escorts.


Something seems slightly off.

“Abort the attack! Turn around now!”

It’s not as if I believe in the frankly suspect idea of a sixth sense, but something is weird.

The moment Tanya senses it, she doesn’t hesitate.

The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion was in assault formation, ready to swoop down and attack, but they respond to Tanya’s command immediately.

“Break! Get out of attack formation! Increase altitude! Hurry!”

“Yes, ma’am!”

Her subordinates neither question nor argue, and Tanya is thankful for their understanding. Right as everyone begins climbing in prep for an attack from below…

“Mana signals! Multiple signatures from the enemy ship?!”

“Disciplined fire, incoming!”

What they shoot, without using their sights to aim, is an attack calculated to hit the entire area. The mix of regular and formula bullets is far more orderly than haphazard firing.

Even a battalion won’t make it through unscathed if it flies into a hail of bullets. If we had been a few seconds later, we would have been turned into Swiss cheese.

“It’s a battalion no, a r-regiment?!”

“The mana signals are rapidly increasing! What the ?!”

I can’t help the screams of my men echoing in my head.

Since we dodged quickly, the battalion hasn’t taken any losses. But it’s probably too soon to call it a close shave and be done with it.

As the situation continues to rapidly evolve, Tanya bites back her curses and suddenly thinks: Our augmented battalion is being fired on by a regiment.

If an enemy you have no intel about attacks you preemptively, it’s hard not to break step. Really, we’re probably blessed, considering we didn’t lose anyone.

“01 to all units. Abandon the original plan! Abandon the plan! Ascend get some distance!” She clicks her tongue in frustration as she has them get out of assault formation and climb. “This isn’t what we were told! Those bastards in Intelligence are freeloaders after all!”

She means what she shouts.

We were told that due to the difficulty in mustering manpower, the ship would have only the minimum escorts…but that is clearly not the case. Intelligence has really half-assed it.

I don’t know if they cocked it all up, or latched on to some bad info, or what.

But in the end, it comes down to their work being hurried. Cursory. We should have beat the General Staff’s philosophy the devil is in the details into those administrative numbskulls’ heads.

“Colonel, it’s a unit of Commonwealth marine mages! A regiment and closing in fast!”

“That can’t be all. Assume they have two regiments.”


Our premise that the giant ship had only minimal escorts…has been shattered. The ship is huge. If they wanted to, they could fit a whole division on it.

If we just got attacked with discipline fire from a regiment, there must be more where that came from.

“If we can rob it of propulsion, the submarines should be able to work for us, but…it’s unclear if we’ll actually be able to stop it…”


He had heard it said. Major General Habergram had warned him: “Since we have a mole, the enemy might show up.”

Lieutenant Colonel Drake, leading the Commonwealth’s marine mages, recalled the superior officer who had guaranteed him, “That said, with the deception and the thorough information war we’ve carried out, there should only be a few if they do show up.” He heaved a sigh.

“…You dodged that?”

He thought it was a perfectly targeted shot. The enemy had been in formation to dive and attack when his troops had unleashed a screen of anti–air fire straight down their path.

They had even suppressed their mana signals so they wouldn’t be detected beforehand.

Despite all that, the enemy mages veered away at the last possible moment. Given the distance and the timing, the only possible explanation was that their commander had suspected something immediately before the charge.

“What is it, Colonel Drake?”

“No matter how you look at it, their intuition is just too good. And I recognize some of the signatures in there. This is the Named we fought the other day I’m sure of it!”

He just barely kept his face from tensing and looked up to see the enemy unit increasing their altitude. They were so full of fight they not only saw through the sneak attack but were even taking distance to overcome their numerical disadvantage.

Even a high-speed military transport ship boasting a cruising speed of thirty knots would be slow against opponents in flight. It would be very bad to allow them to remain hanging around.

And so, they had to approach their braced enemy.

“Apparently, General Habergram is unfamiliar with the battlefield. Didn’t he say that…ambushing them with two regiments would be plenty?”

Given how important this route is, did they go all out with their guard unit?

Are we being ordered to fight this Named unit with this few people?

This was nothing like what they’d been led to expect.

…He should have expected that the unit reporting directly to the Imperial Army General Staff would show up. Not that there was anything they could do about it now.

“That said…we can’t let them get away without a fight…”

The bitter memories trickled back.

He had learned from experience in their encounter on the Rhine front, so he was aware, whether he liked it or not, of how much trouble this imperial Named unit was.

They had spirit and skill, but they also had a habit of taking the initiative and doing what their opponents hated. Surely they all have devil tails.

“These are the warmongers who hunted the voluntary army from the Unified States. Stay on guard. Attack with all your might. This fight will take everything we’ve got. Get both regiments in the air. This boat isn’t about to sink from the firepower of a mage unit, so let’s get up there and attack!”

“Pirate 01, this is Anjou CP. An all-out interception is fine, but it’ll lower our guard against subs. Even just a battalion is fine, so please leave a reserve force as direct support for the Anjou.”

“Sorry, even giving you a single company will leave us hard up. I’ll leave a voluntary mage company, but consider any more than that impossible.”

“I heard it’s a Named, but are they really that tough?”

Drake sighed over the wireless as his response. To him, it was so obvious it didn’t need to be debated.

They’re our natural enemy, a serious threat.

To put it plainly, he loathed them so much, it made him want to whine in a pathetic, ungentlemanly way.

“If there is anyone I don’t want to encounter right now, it’s them.”

“I understand that you think highly of them, but they’ve flown a long way to get here, right?”

“Even if they have, and they’re terribly tired, facing that battalion will still be a struggle for us. It would be easier to clash with other imperial forces with numbers equal to ours.”

He meant every word of his grumbles. Marine mages were brave. Many of them were skilled veterans. That said, they had been worn down since the start of the war.

They were replenishing their losses with fresh soldiers and new recruits, so they weren’t in ideal condition to engage in combat. If that was their situation, regrettable though it may be, they had to consider the possibility of a breakthrough.

“Anjou CP, a word of warning. This might be the same imperial unit that attacked them before. Please keep an eye on the voluntary troops.”

“Roger, Pirate 01. Things’ll be much easier if you guys can clean them up properly.”

“We’ll do our best, but don’t expect too much.”

His quiet reply was his true feeling.

With neither vanity nor condescension, he was confident they were the best marine mages. It was a conviction regarding their pride and self-assurance, or perhaps their duty.

But he was fully aware that they weren’t guaranteed the glory of victory unconditionally that’s not how things worked on the battlefield. He wasn’t a green newbie, unfamiliar with the fog of war. He’d seen many a defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, only a stone’s throw away.

Only God knew what would happen when their greatest enemy and their greatest ally clashed. Drake wasn’t arrogant enough to assume the winner. As a man in the same business, he understood the Imperial Army’s ability so well it made him sick. And against Named, he knew it would be an intense fight.

But that didn’t mean anything.

Pulling off a win while you were nervous was a fantasy.

“…That tough?”

“Yeah, that tough.”

If they put in every last desperate effort, would it work?

Well, maybe. So that was enough. If they could bet on the possibility, then they could carry on through power of will. All right, we’ve got to try it.

“Pirates, it’s time for war! And we’ve got them heavily outnumbered! They’ve come such a long way, so give them a nice welcome!”

As he shouted his command, warriors adapted to the sea air took off.

Though even a two-thousand gap in their altitude was painful, the enemy was already ascending to eight thousand.

Is that gap actually eight thousand?


If they ended up getting shot down in a one-sided attack from above, they’d end up a textbook-case laughingstock.

But we have no choice.

“Split into companies and eat into the enemy defensive fire! All units, this is a fight to punch through! Rush them!”

Each company commander encouraged his subordinates within earshot as they rose, weaving through the bullets, thermic beams, and explosion formulas that rained down.

One bad hit and they’d be shot down like that.

“Don’t flinch away! We’re a regiment! Our opponent’s a battalion!”

“Keep pushing till we’ve surrounded them! Show them how to fight a war, gentlemen!”

“We’re gonna show these landlubbers how we do things at sea! Let’s go!”

It was just a charge to overwhelm the enemy’s processing power with numbers. It was a confession of ineptitude, a stupid plan to crush the enemy under the corpses of his subordinates.

It was nothing short of a brute-force move, but he had no other choice.

“All right, you gentlemen sons of bitches! Follow me!”


We’re actually eight thousand above. No normal mage units would challenge us under those circumstances.

There shouldn’t be… Or so I wanted to believe.

But apparently, these Commonwealth jerks take sports, war, and nothing else too damn seriously.

Suppressing a tongue click, Tanya looks down at the Commonwealth mage companies each making their own approach. Even throwing firepower at them to keep them down, they haven’t lost any momentum.

I’d like to write them off as daredevils, but vexingly, their fighting spirit and skills don’t seem to be inversely proportioned. They’re coming at us with magnificent evasion, defense, and teamwork.

…If we really engage, their numbers will probably crush us.

“01 to all units! Prepare to withdraw!”

My abrupt decision is to avoid the encounter.

“01, if we withdraw now, they’re likely to pursue!”

“I know! My company will charge to cause confusion! The rest of the units I’m leaving to you, 02. Have them perform delaying combat and support the charge!”

My unit and I will distract the enemy with an attack on the RMS Queen of Anjou. I leave the rest of the battalion to Major Weiss and an evacuation operation.

“05 to 01. Please let my company do it.”

“Why not give your subordinates a chance to shine once in a while? I’m confident I or 05 could do it.”

A proposal from First Lieutenant Grantz and an encouraging rejoinder from Weiss.

Tanya suddenly wonders something and brings it up. “So how come you don’t include my adjutant?”

“Ha-ha-ha. Because we know it goes without saying.”

“All right… Hmm.”

She does think relatively highly of the others’ abilities. They may be a bit overly war crazy, but they do know when to quit.

…Who should I send as the distraction? She’s unsure until…she suddenly thinks…

“Then we’ll all go.” Her subordinates are about to acknowledge, but she beats them to the punch and says, “These are orders from your battalion commander. All units, split into companies and charge. I say again, split into companies and charge.”

When you think about it, if the enemy is coming up at us…we just have to obliterate them with impulsive force. Adding the speed of our fall to our charge, we’ll have the energy advantage over our climbing enemy.

“Dive! If the enemy is going to come up, we’ll beat them down!”

Just because the enemy wants to see if they can saturate our processing power doesn’t mean we have to go along with it. If they’re split up, it means they have holes.

I’m reluctant to leave things up to probability theory.

But even in a 2-D trench battle, you can keep casualties low by running around. In the 3-D sky, as long as there aren’t any proximity fuses…if all we’re trying to do is break through, it shouldn’t be impossible.

“Cut straight through! These guys are convinced the sky is small, so let’s show them how big it really is!”

The point isn’t a charge by an augmented battalion.

“Maybe they could stop an augmented battalion, but can they stop four augmented companies? Follow your commander’s judgment and crush them!”

Tanya howls fiercely in the salty air. It serves both to encourage herself and to announce a charge that will probably kill some percentage of her troops.

“All units, charge!”

An augmented battalion vs. two regiments. There’s no way to make up that numerical disparity. Normally, it would be suicidally bizarre for the Imperial Army to choose a charge under these circumstances.

Which was precisely why it was totally unexpected for Lieutenant Colonel Drake. He was so certain of his troops’ numerical superiority that he had been thinking what the best way to chase the enemy mages would be.

No, no one on the Commonwealth side anticipated this.

“…?! Disciplined fire! Stop them!”

He shouted, but he wasn’t fast enough. There was no time for interdiction fire. For the Commonwealth mages, this was a literal bolt from the blue.

“Don’t bunch up! Break!” “Don’t take it?!” “No, stop them! Don’t let them get the boat!” “Assume there’ll be damage!” “Tear through the confusion!” “We can’t help you if you drop out!” “Just look straight ahead!” “Jettison your gear!” “Move!” “Speed up!” “Slice through! Forward!”

Chaos, shrieking, shouting, screaming. But amid the tumult, the battle cries of each level’s commanders as they work to maintain discipline are reassuring. I’m glad to know that subordinates are doing their jobs.

“…No irregularities here. I guess we made it through?”

A little grin appears on Tanya’s face in spite of herself.

Making it through despite the mistaken intel they received brings her no small satisfaction. Things are simple on the battlefield: The one who makes the right decision first gets lucky.

And the Goddess of Victory has smiled on the Imperial Army, who took their enemy by surprise by charging from the heavens. It was a breakthrough battle where they employed their magic blades at close quarters to cut off the heads that seemed to belong to enemy commanders. They had pounced from above. The freedom to choose their prey belonged to the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion as they accelerated due to their fall velocity.

“We broke through the vanguard!”

“Company, break! Penetrate in squads! You can withdraw after each shot! It’s practically a harassment attack, but as long as it connects, that’s fine!”

This is all even the two climbing regiments amounted to, once taken by surprise.

Tanya smiles in satisfaction and savors the fruit of her determination. The enemy mages they’ve left behind are in utter turmoil.

True, the Commonwealth companies certainly have excellent commanders. But… Tanya chuckles to herself. Because they’re so excellent, they’re chasing two hares.

It can be said that the commanders of the few companies who are already turning to give chase are making an appropriate call in an unexpected situation.

Not letting us get to the object of their protection, the RMS Queen of Anjou, is correct. And their attitude, in an escort mission, of trying to defend even if they have to stick to us isn’t mistaken, either.

Likewise, the other fellows’ choice to try to occupy the sky is also valid. It’s a textbook handling of the situation and the very definition of an appropriate tactical decision. If they can secure the position above us, then the tables will be turned and they’ll be the ones one-sidedly firing down at the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion.

There’s just one problem.

They’re outstanding, but the quick decisions born of that eminent ability are their misfortune. In other words, they shouldn’t have chosen either of those.

“Use the Commonwealth mage units on our heels as a shield and close in on the ship!”

The ones giving chase are preventing the ones in the sky from shooting us. Several companies have been suddenly and effectively taken out of the game.

Without even fighting, the enemy force has been halved, if only momentarily.

Then, because of their superficial excellence, they make a mistake.

“Colonel! The enemy companies coming after us are splitting up! They’re trying to secure a line of fire!”

“That’s some armchair theorizing by someone who doesn’t know how hard it is to fire through your allies during high-speed maneuvers. Adjust your angle and avoid their line of fire!”

“Yes, ma’am!”

Tanya barks and the battalion’s seasoned officers respond.

“This is so nostalgic. It reminds me of the Rhine front.”

“You said it, Lieutenant Serebryakov. You’re exactly right. It reminds me of the trench battles! All right, troops, time to play a game from back in the day: tag!”

With the enemy in pursuit, we strike our target. It was like how we used to do company-scale night raids in the trenches, where if the enemy reinforcements caught up to us, that was it.

Our target this time is the RMS Queen of Anjou sailing leisurely below us. The only thing between the battalion and the ship is a tiny defense unit.

Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff has a sudden thought: I think we can do this.

Mary Sue would probably never forget that moment.

It always came out of nowhere.

…Suddenly, the alarm signaling combat rang out on deck.

“Warning, enemy approaching! We’ve also succeeded in identifying their wavelength! It’s a Named unit!”

“What’s their status?!”

“It’s the one we confirmed on the Rhine front!”

“On the Rhine?! Those guys?”

Those guys.


…The one who killed my father.

And my friends.

My… Our enemy.

Which is why I set off running. With my rifle and my orb tight in hand, I ran up on deck. My friends who came after me have the same thing on their minds.


Our anger, our friends’ anger, our families’ anger.

Above all, we don’t want to lose anything else. To protect, we have to fight. The power to do that, my weapons, are in my hands.

“All marine mages, prepare to intercept! Get up there!”

Believing that, I told the officer in command, Colonel Drake, “We’ll go, too!”

And having asked for a part to play, I was met with…a cold refusal.

“Sorry, Lieutenant Sue. You guys are on direct support for the RMS Queen of Anjou on the lookout for subs. Stick close here and don’t let them approach the ship!”

My brain can comprehend the Commonwealth commander’s firm words. We, the voluntary army…aren’t without our faults.

“But…” I tried to tell him how I felt, but there was no time. “…Colonel Drake, we can do it. Please let us avenge our friends.”

“This was our decision after considering our situation and your level of training. There’s no time to debate. I’m not accepting objections.”

So up they flew.

All we could do as we watched them go was hope they would win. While our friends, everyone, was fighting, we were left behind on the ship.

I know holding down the fort is an important duty.


“…This is so frustrating. I didn’t know being unable to do anything was so hard.”

A teeny, tiny murmur.

What I, what we, the voluntary army, could do or not do didn’t matter. It was just an infuriating situation.

Looking up at the sky, I saw my friends fighting my enemy and shedding blood.

Please win.

Let everyone be safe.

With those as our only wishes, we stood there watching…and everything changed before our eyes.

“Emergency! The enemy broke through!”

“What?! Against that gap in fighting power?!”

Shock and confusion echoed over the wireless. But Mary and only Mary knew it, somewhere in her mind. Ahhh.

What did you expect? They’re like devils.

“Direct support unit, intercept immediately! Lieutenant Sue, you’re good to go up, right?!”

“Y-yes, sir!”

A chance, her enemy, came at her.

I have to defend.

I can’t let them take anything else.

Harboring determination in her breast, Mary inhaled slightly and glared up at the diving enemies.

This time we can do it.

We’re not letting you get away with this.

Considering how things are going, it’s not impossible to complete the mission to perfection. But after thinking things all the way through, Tanya concludes they should cut their losses.

She thought it was doable and was very nearly determined to do it. But what dampened her enthusiasm were the battalion’s losses. She doesn’t want to say the mission was pointless, but they are in the middle of nowhere…so having their human resources needlessly expended is the worst-case scenario.

“Somebody give him a shoulder to lean on! Get him upright!”

“Lieutenant Grantz, I’m fine…”

“I’d rather get a lecture from the colonel than be the kind of first lieutenant who leaves a man behind!”

The transmissions crisscrossing internally are shrieks and screams that indicate losses. The battalion is still maintaining discipline and functioning as an organization, but she can’t ignore the fact that they have casualties.

In other words, the troops are just barely holding out and not collapsing. Even my battalion of unrivaled strength is a collection of humans. I don’t want to make them bend over backward any more than necessary. If you could win a war based on mind-set alone, the megalomaniacs would be the strongest force in the world.

In other words, I need to reevaluate my hand.

We’ve taken repeated casualties. We just barely managed to break through and approach the ship, but…the enemy is starting to react. Shockingly, we’re already taking long-range fire.

These Commonwealth guys…they must have, surprisingly, resigned themselves to missing some shots, because they’ve begun pointing a nasty amount of long-range sniping formulas at us.


“Withdraw! We’re withdrawing!”

Even my vice commander who laughs over the wireless can’t be all right with sacrificing his subordinates. Even I don’t welcome human attrition.

“We’ll scatter the enemies up ahead as we pull out! Score one hit-and-run!”

Now, then. Tanya is determined to follow through on her original plan of one attack.

Intelligence’s request to take out the RMS Queen of Anjou’s engine is now virtually impossible. Putting in the effort to pull off a hit-and-run on their way, out of obligation, is the most they can do.

If we carry out our minimum duty, all that’s left is to RTB.

It’s time to cut our losses.

Only a fool would continue pouring resources into this hopeless project.

And we can act out of obligation to HQ and Intelligence for only so long. I won’t let them chip away at my finite and irreplaceable resource, the subordinates I trained, any longer.

“All units! If you’re hit, prioritize withdrawing! Everyone else, we’re gonna nail the ship once and get out of here! There’s no reason to hang around!”


My troops acknowledge enthusiastically; morale is running high.

“An enemy mage company is rapidly approaching from up ahead! We should maintain combat distance and”

“No need. Cut them down!”

Serebryakov’s thought as she shouts a warning isn’t bad, but Tanya cuts her off.


It’s only natural Serebryakov would question directions that go against theory, but Tanya assures her. “These enemies are late in coming. They’re under a different command. I’m guessing they’re second-stringers meant to detain us. Our priority is to punch through. Don’t use explosion formulas, since they could hit friendlies. Expect a brawl once we cut in. Mop them up with sniping and close-quarters combat our intent is to trounce them!”

Right before engaging, Tanya instructs her troops to switch from explosion formulas to sniping formulas.

Then…perhaps they’re wary of area-of-effect attacks? The enemy company splits up in orderly textbook fashion, and the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion with its comparatively dense formation charges.

It’s as good as punching out scattered enemies with a hardened fist.


She shrugs as they fight a simple battle to mow down the recklessly engaging enemy mages. These guys never learn. She chuckles to herself.

Then just as she draws her submachine gun to take out an enemy mage.

When she feels an extreme chill, she abruptly accelerates. The next moment, she gasps as she nearly gets burned by radiant heat.

A thermic beam?

She doesn’t even have time to shout, What the?!

“This is for my father!” The enemy mage charges as if she wants to clash blades. Her eyes spell trouble a mix of pure hostility and hatred.

I want to yell, What did I do?

In fact, Tanya actually does. “What did I do?!”

“D-d-don’t play games with me!”

There is no reason I should be accused of playing. I always take my job very seriously. I can proudly declare that to anyone.

I’m not the type to play games while fighting a war.

On the contrary. Tanya snaps, “I can’t even believe I’m fighting someone so ridiculous. We’re fighting a war, you know! Yet you have a personal grudge? Preposterous!”

“B-b-but you!”

On the furious enemy mage’s face is a hideous grimace. If she was smiling, she’d have a face like a flower, but she twists it up with hatred to project her hostility at me.

I don’t remember her face, but did we fight somewhere before?

Eh. Tanya stops thinking at that point and fires off three formulas to hold her at bay. Apparently, the enemy isn’t foolish enough to strike when it’s impossible. When she dodges, she’s calm enough to launch a few optical formulas as she takes some distance.

“Colonel, the enemy marine mages are on our tails. We should withdraw!”

“Roger. What’s the status of the enemy ship?”

“We’re strafing the deck. We should also have scored a few direct hits to the engine, but…”

“Just make sure we have a photographic record. It’ll be handy, I’m sure.”

My battalion briskly accomplishes all the tasks that need to be done they’re wonderful. When I glance over at the ship, I see my valiant subordinates bombarding it with formulas.

But that acts as a trigger, and the enemy regiments head rapidly our way.

“Okay, any more than this is a waste of time. We’re pulling out! Withdraw!” As she’s about to yell, Let’s go! she just barely evades another attack.

The murderer who fired the optical sniping formula is the mage from before. Surprisingly, though she doesn’t exhibit much skill in building the formula, it has exceptional power and speed.

Apparently, she’s manifesting extra-fast by forcing more mana into it.

“You’re running away?!”

“Quit your yapping! We’re in a hurry.”

The energy for a long-distance flight, a battle, and now a withdrawal. All considered, I don’t have time to putz around with a persistent opponent.

“Colonel, hurry!”

“I know, Major! I’m coming!”

To restrain the enemy, I fire another three explosion formulas. It’s an attack that prioritizes the area of effect over power, so it’s obviously lacking in the latter.

The numbskull tailing me flutters away like a kite, but she’s still flying, which means I didn’t down her… She’s amazingly tenacious for a newbie. I guess you’d have to say she’s a survivor.

No, on top of that, her defensive shell was stronger than I expected… What a pain. Considering what could happen later, I’d really like to finish her off now.

“Tch! I guess it’ll take more than this to get away.”

I don’t need Weiss to tell me I don’t want to get chased around by a regiment of marine mages. I’m not into life-and-death tag. Even at times like this, I want the freedom to choose who I play with.

“…At this rate, it’s going to be a struggle to get back.”

We flew long-distance, then got exhausted in combat, and now we have to deal with creeps trying to follow us home?! This is the worst withdrawal leg I can think of.

I suppose I should laugh at how humiliating it is to fail to finish off a numbskull with skin only slightly thicker than a newbie’s… When it rains, it pours.


Tanya twists her body to dodge a thermic beam shocked.

She almost shouts, Again?! but it’s different this time.

It was a long-range optical sniping formula. I can’t believe those Commonwealth marine mage bastards can aim accurately from so far away!

When she looks up, she’s irritated to see that they’re beginning to regain discipline.

We’ll be no match for a one-sided rain of rapid fire from above. It would be target practice.

Sticking around here any longer will only be a waste of time.

Tanya accelerates to resume her withdrawal, ignoring the numbskull enemy mage dogging her. She zigzags in random evasive maneuvers and meets up with the rest of the battalion.

“05 to 01. Before we go, if I may?”

“What is it?”

“Partly to slow them down, I was thinking maybe we could use long-range formulas to set the deck of the ship on fire.”

Since they’re close together, the intra-unit signal comes through clearly. Hearing Grantz’s suggestion, Tanya smiles. Aha, not bad.

When you’re accelerating away, sniping most moving targets is impossible.

But a huge target like this ship is a different story.

They were sticking close to the RMS Queen of Anjou, but now that you mention it… To the escorts, this ship is precious. So we should give them the chance to protect what is precious to them. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled.

“…Good idea! Long-range explosion formulas minus the crushing effect!”

We were ordered only to stop the ship. She’s the princess. Even these obnoxious pirate knights can’t very well abandon their princess.

“Put all your mana into the flames! Prepare to manifest! Fire in unison! They must be cold serving in the Northern Sea; let’s warm them up!”

“Understood! Leave it to us!”

Just as she’s about to shout, Here we go! Tanya senses an enemy rushing her headlong. She just won’t give up!


“I’m touched that you miss me, but…?”

I need to hurry. I can’t get caught up with this obstinate pseudo-stalker and lose my chance to withdraw.

“I don’t have a pacifier, so suck on this!”

The trick I conjure up is one of the Imperial Army’s lovingly crafted potato mashers.

Normally, they only explode an area ten meters across, but this one has a formula bullet embedded in its head.

With the formula absorbed and unbelievably condensed, Tanya casually tosses the grenade.

Yes, the object she lobbed her pursuer’s way looks like a normal hand grenade.


futile! The moment the idiot overestimates her protective film…

…the formula bullet activates at close quarters. On top of the explosion formula, the head of the grenade scatters.

“Agh…… Gah…!”

“Ha! That’s what you get!”

“One down! Brilliant!”

Just as Tanya is about to nod a yeah, she notices something. The mage had started to fall, but now she awkwardly stabilizes. Could that mean…

…she recovered?

“Mm, nope, one unconfirmed.”

“It looked like you got her.”

“She seemed to recover at the last second. If you’re unsure about an achievement, it’s best not to count it. It’s better to be happy with a lower score than be laughed at for padding.”

It’s hard to say for sure that I got her. And if she lands on the water, there’s a pile of enemy mages flying around, so rescue is likely.

Even if she fell into the frigid sea, the possibility of her survival is not low.

“Man, she was stubborn as a cockroach! And how is she so sure I killed her father? Does she just hate imperial soldiers so much that we all look the same?”

“Ha-ha-ha. It’s because you know. Remember your appearance, Colonel.”

“But they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”

I wish they wouldn’t stare at me like that, looking like they want to say something. I understand reality just fine.

“Yeah, I know, but that’s not what this is about.”

Besides, isn’t looking like a little girl my distinguishing characteristic?

The famous line about not judging a book by its cover only means that you shouldn’t speculate about what’s inside. Appearance is very useful data when it comes to identification.

I don’t like sticking out on the battlefield just for being small.

“I was sent away from the officers’ club for being too young to smoke and drink I get it.”

“You’ll have to excuse me, Colonel, but that was hilarious.”

“It really was. While we were waiting for you to show up, I was seriously worried that Major Weiss was going to go bankrupt playing cards!”

Maybe they’re trying to dispel the heavy atmosphere? My vice commander clowns, and my adjutant laughs and laughs. I guess I have to go along with it.

“It makes me want to hurry up and grow even though smoking and drinking are bad for you. I at least want to take back the freedom to ruin my health as I please.”

“Ha-ha-ha-ha! That’s a wonderful liberty, Colonel. As the deputy commander of this battalion, I guarantee that we have no shortage of maniacs who would risk their lives to rebel if that particular freedom was going to be taken away. I hope you’ll keep that in mind.”

The moment she’s convinced they’ve gotten enough distance for bullshit like this, it hits her.

…We’ve taken pretty heavy losses.

A mage unit is far from a big family.

A company is twelve. A battalion is thirty-six. And even the augmented 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion is only forty-eight.

You can tell just by looking how many are missing.

“I know, Major. Even I wouldn’t try to keep off-duty soldiers in check… I’m sure the ones off duty in Valhalla must be drinking like fishes.”

“…I bet they are.”

For better or worse, it’s a small world. To put it in extreme terms, we’re the size of a class at school or a little bigger.

“Tch…I guess more of us went down than I expected.”

That’s why before they even get back to base and she has them line up, she can see that familiar faces are missing.

“Yes, ma’am. Four dead, three unable to fly, three seriously injured.”

“What a horrible loss.”


“Colonel, the battalion’s return is complete. We’ve also sent the injured to the rear and made arrangements for the articles of the deceased.”

People who were fine this morning are gone by dinner.

Major Weiss makes his report in an even voice, and Tanya responds calmly, “…It really is a horrible loss.”

A full complement is forty-eight. We lost ten people. And not just ten people. They’re the kind you would never treat as disposable, because they’re difficult to replace they’re elites. They were elites.

They were the cream of the aerial mage crop. Setting aside their coaching ability and basing it on their skills alone, my subordinates could be employed tomorrow as aggressors in the instructor unit, they’re so capable.

Objectively speaking, my subordinates have the most impressive combat experience in the Empire.

“We essentially lost a company. That’s enough to say we were partially destroyed.”

They may have escaped death, but the severely injured still had to be counted as out of commission. That means a company’s worth of our invaluable personnel has dropped out a company’s worth of truly matchless elites.

Just the thought of reorganizing and replenishing our numbers has me at wit’s end.

Replace nearly a quarter of my highly trained unit with newbies?

It’s going to be hard to cooperate for a while, even if we try.

Julius Caesar hated replenishing units with new recruits and made whole new armies instead; he was right. No, I’m sure the nugget of historical knowledge that crossed my mind just now…was escapism.

“…Maybe I was arrogant. Maybe I thought…that if it was my the battalion I trained, that if it was the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, that amid any enemies…”

“It’s not your fault, Colonel. We…took them too lightly, too. We thought if anyone could take them, we could…”

“No, Major Weiss.”

The one in charge exists to take responsibility. Of course, if it’s not my fault, then…I need to find the offending son of a bitch and make them pay.

But who believed the numbskulls in Intelligence? Pretty sure that was me.

Believing those freeloaders, in other words, was my mistake. It’s undeniable that I was provided faulty intel. But that’s only something to take into consideration. It’s not a reason to exempt me.

These putzes who flee responsibility are utterly contemptuous of the fundamental modern principle of trust…

I took action according to my own judgment. So ultimately, it’s my responsibility. I’d rather be deemed inept than a despicable degenerate.

“Laugh at me. Scoff. It was my mistake.”

“It was the army’s orders… It wasn’t your fault.”

“It was a mistake to try a hit-and-run with a unit that was worn out from a long-distance flight. We had been in the air for hours, and then in that exhausted state, we plunged into combat numerically disadvantaged, at that. I’m sure any manual would tell us to avoid all that.”

I know I’ll be ridiculed as a classic fool.

“It’s not as if we accomplished nothing.”

“Major Weiss, it’s as good as nothing.”

“But we carried out the minimum requirements of the mission. We slowed them down! In the photos we took before we left, you can definitely see that we hit the engine.”

I’m grateful to have someone with common sense like Weiss being kind to me.

But though I appreciate how considerate he is…we need to look at things objectively not subjectively.

Did I hang in there? Did I try hard? Did I do my best? So what?

The actions themselves have no meaning.

Intentions don’t matter.

Good faith, ill will you can save your subjective truths for the judge in court.

It’s the results.

Results: Without them…it’s all for nothing.

This is an issue between my good sense and how I should be. As a modern, rational, free individual, for me, it’s an issue of conscience, goodwill, and ego.

This is garbage. Steeping in self-satisfaction and then licking your wounds is proof of ineptitude.

“…And the report that our submarines did a marvelous job stopping the ship?”

The response to my query is silence.

In reply to my vice commander’s sorrowful speechlessness, I slowly ask the same question again. What I want to know is the result.

“Well, Major Weiss?”

“So…” He frowns, having difficulty answering. At this point, that’s plenty. I can imagine the results with unbearable ease.

Even interpreting them through wishful thinking, it’s going to be bad.

“Fine. Then Lieutenant Serebryakov, Lieutenant Grantz, I’ll ask you. Did you hear that we sank the ship?”

I ask just to be sure, but I’m met with their blunt silence.

They politely feign hearing issues and look away to escape the answer. There’s no way it’s good news.

“So that’s that, then. Our actions didn’t produce results.”

A half-baked attempt at consolation isn’t going to do anything. It’s so bad Tanya wishes she could be anywhere but here.

The truth is the truth. I have to accept it.

“I don’t want to…admit that it was all for nothing, but…” She speaks dispassionately as dispassionately as she can. “Our unit has suffered serious casualties. And after all that, the results didn’t follow. The submarines didn’t sink the ship.”

These words are necessary in order to accept the truth.

I lost veterans of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion. It wasn’t my preference to choose war nuts. But they were essential talent for executing my duty for waging war. They were battle-crazed golden eggs who, after passing a thorough screening, experienced all of the Empire’s main lines and were forged in combat.

“I put so much into them, and now my brothers-in-arms are gone. They’re gone.”

They were veterans, the rarest breed during wartime.

And they, of all people…

After wearing themselves out on a lengthy flight, they were forced into combat with an enemy whose numbers far surpassed ours, and I lost nearly a company.

“I feel adrift. I keep thinking, If there’s anyone to do it with, it’s them, so…or If they’re on the job, then…”

This is a reliable group who knows their jobs inside and out, has been well trained, and above all, understands my intentions immediately. With part of that group ripped away from me, I can’t possibly stay composed.

Business is all about how efficiently you can use the number of personnel at your disposal. Any action that decreases your number of optimized, most useful people is…the worst. Whether it was deliberate or an error, it mustn’t be overlooked.

“I’m going to make those bastards in Intelligence and those bastards in our enemy countries pay for this.” At this moment, Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff is furious. With her little fists clenched and her eyes burning with rage, she quietly voices her determination. “…My men died!”

She looks at the battlefield cross erected in the ruins and grieves.

Even though she ordered the battalion to leave them, no one could forsake the fallen, and they carried them back. She’ll have to send their personal effects and letters to the bereaved families.

“I have to write those letters…!”

She puts out her hand. And what she reaches for is the helmet set on top of the gun to form the battlefield cross. It’s warped, dented, and has a hole in it. There was no repairing a bullet wound to the head.

“Sorry, troops, I guess I’ve been going around in circles a bit. We need to get back to our mission.”


“May their souls be with us. My fellow soldiers, let us wish for the divine protection of the fatherland but only after we’re gone.” She quietly hints at her grudge.

Tanya von Degurechaff doesn’t believe in gods.

As long as that multifarious monster Being X is allowed to go free, a holy being can’t possibly exist in this world.

To Tanya, that’s practically axiomatic.

Therefore, thinking logically, trust should be placed in people. Believe in the power of people, and if everything falls apart, then you can try throwing the problem at God or whomever.

If you get saved, great. If not, you would be right, so that’s better than the alternative. Either way, you lose nothing.

“Asking God for help just isn’t our style!”

“Exactly, Weiss.”

“So shall we sing an old song?”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Tanya smiles. “‘We Had a Comrade,’ troops. Your thick, tone-deaf voices will do, so let’s sing it for them.”

In hoarse, trembling voices, the soldiers sing a sorrowful song.

When she feels it’s time, Tanya wails along. “You went through a forest of swords and hails of bullets, comrades. Rest in peace. Forgive us, for we cannot hold your hands. You remain in our memories. Glory to you, comrades.”

Pistols drawn. Blanks fired into the sky. A three-volley salute. Then Tanya loads a single live bullet and aims it at the White Wings Grand Iron Cross.

Stupid sectionalism, everyone holding one another back. What a damn pain it is to work with Intelligence!