Youjo Senki, Volumen 5, Capitulo 4

Chapter IV, Long-Range Assault Operation


The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion has suffered heavy losses in Norden. Teeth-grindingly heavy losses. It was an unbelievable waste of human resources and capital.

If you’re like Being X, a piece of trash who can view humans only as numbers, then you would probably say, It was only ten people.

But to the modern, free individual, Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff, it goes without saying that the loss of ten elite soldiers is a huge loss for society.

So many resources and so much time were invested in their training.

“We’re an army. I realize that casualties are a given, but…”

Logically, there are no irreplaceable gears in an army.

And the units with losses will be allocated replacement personnel. But textbooks and the real world don’t always get along.

In actuality, there are tons of valuable gears on the market whose supply is monopolized by a single company.

And if that precious source is struggling under too much demand, even if you request a replacement gear, you have no way of knowing when it will arrive.

As soon as she leaves the companies to their commanders First Lieutenant Serebryakov, Major Weiss, and First Lieutenant Grantz she thinks, Even so, and follows standard procedure, getting through the paperwork to apply for the replacement personnel. For her new gears.

It’s a solitary battle.

Pen, paper, ink, and me.

What is effective in a culture battle is the deceptive power of words.

In the real world, though, it’s as if there’s a fearsome wall of bureaucracy in the way. Even the Imperial Army, a precision military machine, can’t escape red tape. How irritating!

“…What we should really be afraid of is bureaucracy…”

The process, complicated to the point of futility, makes me suspect that the higher-ups are determined to reject applications for replacements. But desk work requires perseverance.

“Hmph, government forms are always complicated. Well, I’ll just read these administrative texts with the care of an exegete.”

Having returned to their lodgings with that determined murmur, Tanya has now been chained to her desk for over twenty-four hours finishing paperwork. She processes the documents, gulping down the coffee from Lieutenant Colonel Uger, which she has requested brewed so thick it tastes like awful muddy water.

Even the Anglo-Saxon spirit during the Victorian era, famous for its perseverance, is child’s play compared to the discipline of a modern corporate employee like me.

If the documents don’t get approved, that’s fine.

I’ll just keep filing them until they do.

Thus, about two days after shifting the battlefield to her desk…

Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff achieves a modest victory.

On October 6 at exactly midnight, she has her adjutant Serebryakov send the paperwork and burrows into her bed to get as much sleep as she possibly can.

Then, when her eyes pop open, it’s morning.

As she munches the breakfast with coffee that her adjutant prepared for her, she finally has the wherewithal to begin thinking about what comes next.

“Still, man…”

A little sigh slips out.

She can think and think, but thinking will get her only so far.

At any rate, their current situation is exceedingly vague.

According to their official orders, they’re a support unit.

The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion was sent as patrol personnel as part of the Northern Sea operation. Therefore, the failure of the operation to stop the RMS Queen of Anjou doesn’t translate to the end of their deployment.

Theoretically, their mission is ongoing even now. On the other hand, that’s all it means.

Additionally, the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion’s position as a unit directly under the General Staff deployed to the north is unique. As a result, I suppose?

The bureaucratic consensus within the military machine is that the General Staff lent them the unit for the mission to stop the RMS Queen of Anjou. For that reason, even if they wanted to divert the unit to a different mission, the theory of the organization went that they would fall off the promotion track if they broke the contract.

I guess the inertia of bureaucracy is formidable? Contrary to our official orders, we aren’t even being incorporated into the patrol rotation.

Thus, in order to not waste time, Tanya takes up her pen again. She writes the letters of consolation to the bereaved families that are her duty as a commander.

But in terms of word count, letters of consolation aren’t very long. Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff is unexpectedly running out of things to do before it’s even lunchtime.

“…I get that we’re experiencing some issues, but having nothing to do is actually pretty unbearable,” she grumbles with a bitter grin.

I don’t count myself as a workaholic, but in this sort of ill-conceived situation, my thoughts tend to wander. If I don’t have something that requires an immediate judgment call, maybe it’s not so bad to leisurely ponder the long term.

But the future is grim. Maybe spirited speculations on your bright future can be productive, but having to expect a dark one is no fun.

Of course, whether it’s fun or not is just an emotional issue.

I have no intention of ceasing to think just because I’m upset.

If I’m going to stop thinking, I’d rather take my pistol and blow my brains out.

That said, there are some realities that…can’t be changed no matter how much you think. Just as I’m running out of high-quality coffee beans, the Empire’s resources must also be dwindling.

That goes for human resources, too. Tanya is compelled to frown bitterly.

The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion is short ten members.

The only people who can say it’s only ten are the ones who have zero understanding of human capital management.

To find a parallel, it’s like the massive numbskulls who fire all their veteran sales staff and replace them with low-salaried part-timers and then wonder why things aren’t going well.

Ten members, rich in experience and accomplished as well, were taken from us. From a department of only forty-eight. For now, while our duties are limited, it shouldn’t be a serious problem.

But…there’s no telling when we’ll get replenished.

“I guess we’ll be able to fill our slots with…newbies who have only the bare minimum of training…”

It’s a predictable situation… No one has any veterans to spare.

No, they probably just stubbornly refuse to give them up. I mean, if they asked me to pull a few, I’m sure I’d give them a flat no.

After all, veteran experience and optimized unit coordination aren’t something you can achieve in a day. It’s possible to turn know-how and accumulated experience into a manual, but acquiring that knowledge and mastering it through experience take time.

That’s the first thing you have to remember when using human capital.

“Going by that principle…I really just have to cultivate them? It’d be better if I could simply get some mid-career hires somewhere…”

It’s only natural for someone working in personnel to fret about filling vacancies. But when there’s a war on, getting replacements doesn’t go very well.

Although officers have a measure of discretion within the army, they don’t get to choose their subordinates. You can complain when something sucks, but it’s virtually impossible to simply take what you want.

…The situation is very different from the time we pulled together an augmented battalion from a mix of Eastern Army Group and Central troops.

And so, Tanya’s mind is completely occupied by the word replacements. Unfortunately, there’s no time you’re less likely to have a great idea than when you really want one.

Just as she notices her thoughts going down a dead end, there’s a knock on the door. She raises her head.

When she looks toward the door, it’s her vice commander standing there with a message. The fact that it isn’t a messenger but Weiss himself means it must be fairly important news.

“What is it, Major Weiss? If you’re not in a hurry, I’d appreciate if you’d stay and have a cup of coffee.”

“How kind of you. I think I will.” He bobs his head and doesn’t seem nervous. If he was tense, he probably would have refused a leisurely teatime.

So it must not be an emergency, she figures. As she offers him coffee, she tries to guess. Then what could it be?

“Colonel von Degurechaff, these are orders from home.”

Ohhh. She doesn’t have to think for that to make sense. So the General Staff has gotten word of our failure? Is it a reprimand? Consolation? Or word of a new mission?

Well, whatever it is… Tanya straightens up.

“Hmm…? Redeployment orders?”

“Yes, ma’am. As soon as our replacement unit arrives, we’re to take up a position on the eastern front main lines along with the reorganized Kampfgruppe. We’ve also been instructed to incorporate the replacement troops we’ll receive.”

She takes the papers from Weiss and looks them over. I see, so it’s a proper notification.

But there is something giving her slight pause.

“Redeployment and reorganization in parallel? And on top of that, reorganizing on the main lines in the east? With no orientation training?”

“…Yes, the General Staff says to lead the unit they’ve formed.”

After reading the orders, Tanya sighs in spite of herself. This is almost exactly what I was griping about earlier!

“So we’re stuck having our veterans replaced with newbies! That’s just one step down the path to a giant failure… What the hell.”

No. She shakes her head. If she pushes the shock from her mind and employs some self-control, she can understand what the higher-ups are trying to do. The General Staff probably doesn’t have anywhere they can secure human resources, either.

But just because she can understand doesn’t mean she can accept it. Even considering what this war situation demands, it’s not enough time!

As the commander, she’s had to lodge a complaint.

Kampfgruppen are created via ad hoc formation.

These words say it all: ad hoc formation.

Confusion will be inevitable once the quickly scraped together band of officers and men has to carry out an operation. She can describe what she wants from them, but it will be hard to avoid a breakdown somewhere. And that’s why she wants the core to be her own forces that sync perfectly with her.

But they won’t even give her an orientation period?

“Any more than this is just going in circles. I guess we should be happy we’re getting replacements, but the unit they’re allocating doesn’t look so great. They say they modeled this Kampfgruppe on the Salamanders, but as far as I can tell, it’s probably best not to have very high expectations.”

“…At face value, it seems to have been fortified.” Weiss’s observation is half-right. Just the other half is wrong.

“To some extent, I’m sure that’s true. But there are too many newly established units. Even if the foundation is veterans, you know what will happen if the ratio of newbies is too high, right?”

In stories, in heroic tales, one might encounter new units that turn out to be elite. Or we could probably give up on education and at the last minute send in elite units made up purely of veterans and instructors.

Conversely, if you’re fighting a war like usual, it’s extremely difficult to imagine forming a new unit containing only veterans.

“I want to hope the core personnel are decent, but no one wants to give up any veterans. We probably can’t expect too much.”

“You’re right about that. I see, so it must be made up of whatever units they had on hand back home. In that case, they’ll be weaker than they look.”

He must have understood. An awkward smile appears on Weiss’s face. Well, that’s the only possible response to this sort of reality a vague smile.

We’re not replacing our losses like we want and instead are getting units so new it’s unclear if they’ve been tried in live combat yet.

“It makes me think of General von Romel. I remember how he always used to say he wanted units that were easy to use.”

It was the catchphrase of my former superior officer. He used to grumble over and over how badly he wanted a decent unit.

Now I understand what he meant quite well. No matter how they gloss things over at home, without proper manpower, it’s going to be hard to continue fighting a war. How sad that the day has come when I can sympathize with the gripes of my former superior.

“Ahhh, man,” grumbles Tanya as she pours herself another cup of coffee with a sigh. “Do the best with what you have. They’re simple words, but doesn’t it feel like a last resort? Don’t you kinda get the feeling they’re just shoving the whole issue off onto us in the field, Major Weiss?”

“But, ma’am…all we can do is train the new recruits.”

“I guess. It’s going to be a struggle. Training the mage unit will be up to you. I hope you’ll turn them into troops we can use.”

“I’ll do my best. Still, I think in this case…it’s really a fight against time.”

I absolutely agree. Even without Weiss pointing it out, I know that training new people is a challenge in any era.

Humans don’t work the minute you install them, like programs. You can allow them to grope along and spit out errors, but it will still take a huge amount of time.

Time and effort are essential for fostering newbies no matter what.

But even if you understand that necessity, it’s still one of the most difficult jobs. Normally, in the military organization, personnel will be deployed once they’ve completed the minimum training…but as the war continues on and intensifies, the standards have greatly shifted.

Currently, I really wonder if they’ll be at a usable level.

“How much time can we take to retrain them? The orders didn’t specify… So what do you think, Colonel?”

“I wouldn’t expect the usual standard. Even if we’re being sent to a war zone, we probably won’t be in the hottest area, but… Well, they definitely won’t let us have six months. We can probably expect them to tell us to train during the winter lull, since it’s a test operation.” She swallows the rest: It’s probably hopeless. “I want to give you as much time as possible. I genuinely want you to train them hard.”

Unfortunately, there’s a limit to what gets decided based on my opinion.

“The problem is what the General Staff is aiming for with this formation. It seems like they want Kampfgruppen that can be formed in a short amount of time for special missions.”

The Salamander Kampfgruppe was a great preliminary run.

Having been formed quickly, it achieved adequate successes in multiple field tests, such as proving its concept, supporting the main army’s flank in the east, and getting a handle on the enemy’s status.

Tanya’s personal view is that she showed the brass the utility of composite units made up of troops from multiple branches of the org. And that seems to have been acknowledged as the truth.

But, she does end up thinking. As she told Weiss, she thinks the General Staff has put too much emphasis on the ability to form them quickly.

“The existing types of units, formed with specific scenarios in mind, aren’t flexible. Kampfgruppen are different in that they can be formed in an optimal way on the fly.”

“So they really have a lot of potential, then. I imagine they’ll be especially useful for putting out fires.”

“Exactly. In other words, Major Weiss, I’m thinking…that you need to be prepared for them to expect the sort of convenient unit they can send on errands. And as long as they do, it’s hard to hope for a generous training period.”

If the mobility and firepower to cover those vast lines can be arranged by adjusting a single unit, Kampfgruppen will be a good fit for mission-oriented orders.

To be frank, they’ll be super-handy. If you’re a commander, you’ll be thinking, I want a ton of those ASAP.

People who work on logistics like Lieutenant General von Zettour and people from Operations like Lieutenant General von Rudersdorf are sure to be desperate for Kampfgruppen. The new type of unit scratches their itch.

Which is why Tanya can understand the line of thought for the General Staff.

“The guys in the General Staff must be thinking to develop the know-how to form a ton of these at the drop of a hat. We’re going to be forced to go along with this major research initiative, so we should probably brace ourselves.”

“…If it works out, the army will have a lot more options, huh? As a soldier, I’m honored if I can contribute to my fatherland in such a way.”

She needs to finish her mug of coffee, but reality is so harsh, she can’t possibly drink. It’s unbearably awful, but we’re going to have to work our asses off. We’re going to suffer terribly.

After all, the higher-ups’ objective is to locate problems through trial and error. There’s no way we’ll have an easy time of it in the field like that.

“It’s like we’re playing house and being told to sample their cooking. And though this is a presumptuous thing to say…the ones cooking aren’t even going to sample it themselves.”

It may be necessary to go through various processes to turn an idea into something concrete, but this just makes her want to cradle her head in her hands.

“It’s no good,” she says, and they both wince.

“Then should we tell them it’s inedible?”

“That would be like whining that you hate it without even trying it. Unless, Major Weiss, you want to make a direct appeal?”

“Please have mercy, ma’am.”

“Right.” Tanya nods and gives a little sigh.

Weiss’s resigned exhalation should probably also be called a sigh.

“We don’t have a choice.”

“Yeah, I guess not.”

Awash with emotions, she laments openly. One of the bad things about the army is that your preferences become irrelevant.

The pair can only grumble: “How uninspired. We’re stuck.” The officers simply admit to each other that there’s nothing they can do.

That said, neither of them had any work they had to rush to do. And so they have time to sigh but no time for training and reorganizing; it hits them how poorly resources are distributed.

If you give it enough thought, things can’t go on like this. As Tanya is looking for a topic to chat about over their coffee, she finally realizes something.

“Actually, Lieutenant Grantz was once a replacement. What if we left training up to him?”

“…I never thought of that. But…” Weiss nods with interest. “Before, I might have argued against it. Now, though, Lieutenant Grantz has built up experience commanding a company. He’s made a lot of mistakes, but he might actually make a great instructor.”

“So it’s worth considering?”

Weiss nods yes. “Training new recruits will probably be good experience for him.”

“Undoubtedly.” Tanya nods.

Teaching someone else is a learning experience for the teacher, as well. Tanya has been reminded of that numerous times since meeting Serebryakov on the Rhine front.

Once a conscript, she’s now a fine magic officer, too.

Tanya is about to comment on the delights of helping with personal development when there is a polite knock on the door.

“Huh? Come in!”

Speak of the devil. Well, surely it’s nothing like that.

Peeking in with a sudden briskness is Lieutenant Serebryakov, whom I was just reminiscing about training.

“Lieutenant Serebryakov, come on in!”

She salutes and walks over with a smile. She must be in a great mood. Maybe she’s at that age where any little thing has you giggling?

On the other hand, the Serebryakov I know is a pragmatist. I do wonder if there’s been some sort of good news.

Tanya asks with her eyes, and Serebryakov must understand, because she begins explaining.

“Colonel, we’ve received a report from the air fleet.”

The air fleet?

Maybe it’s not my place to wonder, but why is the air fleet reporting to me?

Though I’m clearly perplexed…my adjutant pays it no mind. She hands me an envelope, and her face brightens with a proud smile. “It’s aerial reconnaissance photos. I won them off the air fleet playing cards.”

“Are you betting military secrets? Visha, I don’t mean to criticize you, but you might want to take it easy. No, this is even more serious than that. Encouraging intelligence leaks is worse than most types of gambling.”

Weiss’s grumbles are legitimate. But the documents Serebryakov brought made those worries seem trivial.

Inside the envelope are several aerial photographs.

I don’t even have to look at the data, analysis, and other notes written on them.

“The RMS Queen of Anjou? It’s as absurdly huge as I remember.”

The giant ship is so magnificent, it makes others look small. It’s the most famous ocean liner by far. We have lots of data on it, so there’s no way to mistake it.

The air fleet analysts must have felt the same way. It’s natural that they declared it the RMS Queen of Anjou in red ink.

Just then, Tanya notices something.

In the notes on the margin of the photo, there are some doubts written about the status of the ship’s mooring.

“They’re…performing maintenance?”

Even from the photos, the damage to the ship’s deck and more is visible. But there’s something drawing Tanya’s attention even more: the large number of tools and workers.

“Does this mean our attack to slow them down got some results?” Weiss remarks, sounding somewhat ashamed.

Well, of course he sounds ashamed, if this is all we achieved… But then Tanya rethinks it.

Does the fact that it’s not docked…mean the damage is only slight?


Now she has doubts. Could it be? she thinks. Or maybe…, she hopes. Either way, when she looks over the photos again…the answer is clear.

Just as I thought, I suppose?

“Nah, Major Weiss. Just because it isn’t docked doesn’t mean we have to be self-deprecating about our results. I mean, what dock can accommodate that huge ship anyhow?”

“…That’s true.”

Weiss stares speechlessly at the photos and starts thinking about something, but Tanya has already moved on to the next issue.

Only one thing is important.

“Lieutenant Serebryakov, the air fleet brought this to you, yes?”

She’s confirming that it wasn’t intel she pressed them for. If her adjutant has gone above and beyond to ask them…

…it would mean that we went to pick up requested information from them.

“That’s right. I did tease them, but they brought it to me without going through HQ.”

“Just to confirm, the air fleet offered this, right? They weren’t responding to a request from you?”

“They called me and I picked it up.” She declares it with conviction and doesn’t seem to be hiding anything. So perhaps they really are just being friendly.

Of course, it’s also possible that the air fleet is trying to show off their skills or make up in some way for their deficient performance in the attack on the ship. It’s hard to tell exactly what their intention was.

But it’s not as if we asked them for it. In other words, they volunteered it. Good. Tanya continues to dwell on this point.

Aerial reconnaissance and these photos… Unlike with a reconnaissance satellite, this photography required a manned aircraft to fly over enemy territory. Though it was taken from a high altitude, there was still a lot of risk involved.

If neither Tanya nor Serebryakov requested recon and this report showed up…

…Is it encouragement or reassurance, then?

This was sent by people who know about our mission related to the RMS Queen of Anjou. There must be some kind folks in our org somewhere.

“Lieutenant, choose whatever alcohol seems appropriate later. If we don’t have enough, you can dip into the battalion treasury. Send it to them on my behalf. They did a good job, so I’d like those brave pilots to drink their fill.”

“Yes, ma’am. Leave it to me, Colonel.”

A good job deserves respect. I’ll give the air fleet a heartfelt thanks for their fine work.

If this were a corporation, I’d be on my way to accounting to see about a special bonus.

Unlike the stuff we get from the inept joint intelligence agency of the Army and Navy Commands, this is fresh intel guaranteed by the air fleet.

And most importantly, it’s highly reliable.

“I should simplify things,” Tanya murmurs.

When you need to make assumptions about unclear facts, it’s best to simplify them as much as possible.

There’s no need to speculate about the intentions of the air fleet. They’re friendly forces, at least, so it’s safe to rule out the possibility that they’d feed us false intelligence. In which case, it’s much more likely that this data is as it seems.

Ships move, but ports don’t. So the conclusion is exceedingly elementary. It’s not hard to take out an opponent that can’t run.

“Let’s go!”


“Yes, ma’am!”

These officers are from the same unit, but I suppose the difference in their replies is a reflection of how long they have been with me?

Weiss looks puzzled and asks a question; Serebryakov acknowledges her understanding.

My adjutant picks up on my intentions immediately. She assists me like a wife of many years and is now comprehension incarnate.

“The air fleet has set the stage for us, so let’s go along with it. Tell the submarines. Lieutenant Serebryakov, round up the troops.”

“Understood.” My adjutant gets right down to business without interjecting any questions; she’s one of those rare great aids.

She jogs straight to the submarine unit HQ without a single complaint. Even though I’ve been having her do a brutal amount of paperwork since we’ve been back on base, her passion hasn’t flagged at all.

She has a model work ethic, no two ways about it.

I’ve been lucky to have such a talented subordinate with me ever since the Rhine front.

Meanwhile, thinks Tanya as she accepts the questioning look on sensible Major Weiss’s face.

“It’ll be a long-range operation, so it’ll extend beyond the bounds of our current operation area. If we apply to cross the border, will we make it in time?” His implied fear is that the enemy might escape during that time.

As my vice commander, Weiss fills the important role of devil’s advocate. When we’re about to go through with something, he voices quite rational hesitations. He gives great advice, even going so far as directly urging superior officers to exercise caution.

“That’s a good point, Major Weiss. If we’re going to perform a raid, we need to hit them during this short period before they can move.”

It’s true. Tanya nods. She also wants to nail the ship before it moves. No, they must nail the ship before it’s able to move, or this will all be pointless.

It would be no joke if we went over there all ready for a raid and found an empty nest.

“So we have to follow the ancient saying that soldiers value foolish haste.” She looks into his blue eyes to make him understand. You get it, right? “Applying to cross the border? That’s out of the question. We can’t waste time with roundabout administrative procedures. Considering the risk of a leak, acting on our own discretion seems like the right answer in this case.”

“A-acting on our own discretion? We may report directly to the General Staff, but if we leave the operation area without permission…they may say it’s purely arbitrary.”

That’s true. Tanya nods internally.

Still, she’s compelled to point out something else.

“For commanders, or probably all officers, really, acting on their own authority is their duty.”

“That brings back memories, Colonel.”

Everyone, including Serebryakov, who had jogged off, had had that line beaten into them at the academy. Even if proper communication is an absolute requirement in society or any organization, on the battlefield, things are frequently different than orders or previously received intelligence indicated.

For that reason, to accomplish their missions, officers must take actions that conflict with their orders when necessary.

“We need to consider the objective of the orders we were given, right?”

“Do you think the General Staff and the Army and Navy Commands meant for us to sink it?”

“I do, indeed. Major Weiss, I don’t want us to be the kind of inepts who adhere to the formality of the orders we were given under these circumstances. Even if we were sent here to stop the ship, we must infer that we are meant to work with the submarines to sink it!”

Grouchy2 would say, It’s Napoleon’s orders, and continue on an absurd advance. But look at Davout3 or Desaix.4 They ignored the great authority of Napoleon’s orders because it was essential to achieving the objective behind the order.

You have to understand the objective of the orders and, if necessary, change the method of fulfilling them according to your own judgment. That’s what acting on your own authority means, and it’s an officer’s duty.

Only fools who can’t think for themselves follow orders, carry them out faithfully, and then writhe about when they fail. That’s a truly inept worker. They should probably be shot.

“So, in faithfulness to our orders…let’s go. I’m sure the submarines aren’t such chickens that they would hole up and refuse to come out when their gambling buddy Lieutenant Serebryakov is the one pressing them.”

“But, Colonel. Remember what we’re talking about. We may have been given some degree of discretion, but I think leaving the ‘formality’ of the district is a bit of a larger issue. Isn’t it dangerous to take it lightly?”

“Certainly, the issue will be the district. But conversely, if that’s the only obstacle…then it would probably be more useful to figure out some way to deal with it.”

Which is precisely why I’ve found a way.

“To cut to the chase, we already have our answer. Read the orders from the General Staff. They ordered us to, ‘Above all else, stop that enemy transport ship.’”

“…‘Above all else’?”

It was just one phrase in the document. Exegetics may be dry to most readers, but it all depends on how you use it. If you read between the lines, the amount of freedom with which you can act rapidly increases.

Though it’s one step away from broad interpretation, if you can provide your reasoning, then everything’s peachy.

“It’s an order that says to achieve the objective, above all else. It’s obvious that the objective is to send that ocean liner to the bottom of the sea, and the location of our target is clear. Now, under those circumstances, is there really any meaning in holding back out of consideration for the district?”

“No.” The distinct light of understanding shines in his eyes as he nods.

We have orders that say to do it, above all else. It’s…impossible to think that we should have to worry about the operation area. After all, it’s the brass who gave the orders. Even if they complain after the fact, it unquestionably won’t be a problem.

I mean, Tanya declares confidently in her head. Weiss the sensible man agreed. The reason I listen to my subordinates’ opinions is that I want a third party’s point of view. Then I make a careful decision based on that information.

If there aren’t any issues, then this is a juncture that demands bold action.

“Good, then we’ll move out like faithful dogs. Let’s accomplish that mission the General Staff gave us.”

Being a member of society, being part of an organization work is like that. But there are good people supporting me. It’s probably rare to get to devote yourself to work with such proud, professional colleagues.

The functional beauty of an organization that unites to fulfill an objective… It’s not an expression I like, but I suppose if we’re paying our respects to the classics, “The invisible hand of God is a pretty apt description. Now then, Major Weiss, go find Lieutenant Grantz. As soon as Lieutenant Serebryakov gets back, we’ll draw up our plan.”


The man known as Colonel Mikel slowly moved the cigarette in his mouth closer to the lighter. It wasn’t as if he was smoking a particularly good brand.

It was the same old ration of “grunt tobacco.” Still, tobacco was tobacco, and he was free to smoke it… As long as Mikel was afforded that, he had no complaints. The modest freedom to fill his lungs with cheap cigarette smoke was heaven compared to the gulag.

As he exhaled the purple fumes, Mikel was thinking about the strangeness of fate.

It had been a few months since he had been released from the concentration camp and his supposedly deleted military registration had been reinstated. The war with the Empire was changing Mikel’s fate in ways he never expected.

They had taken his orb away, but then the army gave him a new model. He never thought he would fly again, but the sky returned to him.

He had ground down, had endured the cruelest of treatment, but the fatherland still needed him. It had to be a blessing from God.

To say he didn’t have any beef with the Communist Party would have been a lie.

His friends collapsed on the ground in the bitter cold… Their frozen bodies that didn’t make it to another dawn, their suffering faces… You couldn’t tell him to forget them.

But more importantly…he was a Federation soldier. He had sworn loyalty to his motherland, so if he could fight for her, it wouldn’t do to mix up his priorities.

Thus, he wholeheartedly welcomed the Communists’ decision to re-form the mage units as long as his friends would be given positions.

For that, he would suppress his antipathy toward the party members, even if they were more like the devil than the devil from the Bible himself.

But… He calmly observed his situation, nearly scoffing. They must have summoned us because they’re losing. Defeat makes states act without regard for appearances. The status of the mages who were loyal to the previous regime was so low, they risked eradication if it wasn’t for this very situation.

Which was why despite getting his enlistment reinstated…he never expected the circumstances behind his orders to be explained in detail. The orders the dear party gave him were part of a scheme that was much more well-thought-out than any “mere soldier” could ever imagine.

He couldn’t possibly ask for an explanation of every little thing.

As long as they had their reasons and things had to stay confidential, everyone agreed that all they had to do was carry out the missions given to them. They didn’t want to go back to the gulag.

Well, let’s rephrase that.

They hesitated to voice their complaints openly. That foolish move would put not only themselves in danger but their friends and families as well.

There were good things and bad things about savoring his freedom with a cigarette. The officers next to him seemed rather relaxed as they smoked.

“Colonel, are you sure there’s no mistake about the orders we were given?”

“Use ‘Comrade.’ You never know who might be listening.”

“S-sorry, Comrade Colonel.”

He nodded at his careless subordinate and wordlessly put a hand on his shoulder. He could understand their impatience.

Even an order to stand by could make people who had spent time in a concentration camp antsy because it meant their future was unclear.

What meaningless cruelty must those sadistic camp guards have inflicted for the sake of bullying them?! Those who had been in the gulag were rendered extremely sensitive to the feelings created by an uncertain future.

Though they had been released, reenlisted, and formed as one of the rare mage units on active duty in the Federation Army, they couldn’t relax for a moment.

The battalion was, in the eyes of the Communists, a battalion-size gang of potential traitors.

As before, they were under surveillance, and it wouldn’t be strange for them to be purged on a whim at any time.

But more recently, that had started to change.

The improvement in their treatment had them wondering what happened; in his unit, they speculated that it had to do with the worsening war situation on the main lines. Then they weren’t even sent to the main lines but to the north. And after that, they were ordered to stand by.

Mikel himself had done an awful lot of investigating, but he had no idea what was going on. In other words, it must have been the will of someone so high up that underlings like him would never be involved. But he just didn’t know why.

The fatherland was in crisis, so it was strange that they hadn’t been allocated to the main lines.

At first, he wondered if they weren’t trusted. But in that case, the political officer attached to them was bizarre. The one keeping an eye on them was a very different breed from the ones they’d had before from the Central group.

Was it possible that he’d been sent not as added surveillance but to send them off somewhere else? That was the sort of rumor Battalion Commander Mikel had to shut down day after day.

Everyone thought this day would be like the others.

“…If we can just show them what we’re good for… Ah, I guess I’m going in circles…”

The idea that war was a way out, would lead to the future, was the worst. Using your fatherland’s struggles as a way to achieve personal success was deplorable.

But when he thought of the families still in the camp…he felt like he had to perform at least well enough that they would be freed. He wanted to give his men’s children and their families a normal life.

I want to preserve the future. As far as Mikel was concerned, that was the duty of an adult. That was logic that even war couldn’t undermine.

Which was why he did believe this: We need them to think highly of us.

When one of the officers beneath him rushed into the smoking room to inform him that the esteemed commissar from Central had asked for him, it was no wonder he hoped it was a chance.

The commissar met him as soon as he set foot in the command facilities, as if he had been waiting for him, and his face was unusually tense.

The mere sight of him without his shady smile was enough to elicit some very natural astonishment from him.

“Comrade soldier, I’ve been waiting for you. Oh…” Before getting into details, he offered him a chair.

As in, Please take a seat.

Mikel had thought the political commissar was practically of another race of people who couldn’t be upset by anything. But now, looking visibly nervous, he was obsequiously offering Mikel a chair?

A member of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs? Acting this way toward a man who was his enemy in the class struggle?

“Would you like some tea, Comrade Colonel?”

His mind was blank.

Tea……tea, tea?

“Oh, right. You don’t have to be tense; there’s just something I’d like you to hear. True, I’m a party official and you’re a career soldier with many years of experience, but aren’t we comrades fighting together against our fatherland’s enemy now? Comrade Colonel, I should think we could have tea together…”

The offer made it hard to tell him how strange this seemed.

These political officers, thought Mikel with a wry smile. There’s got to be a better way they can make conversation. They’re great at bullying their enemies, but when it comes to winning over allies, they’ve got nothing? Apparently, he had a critical flaw that was difficult to cover up.

“I would be happy to join you, Comrade Political Commissar. But I thought perhaps…there was something you wanted to talk to me about?”

“Oh, you knew, Comrade Colonel?”

It would have been easy to spit, How could I not?! Even without the flowery words, he could see right away. After all, the man’s normal expression of something like suppressed condescension had taken on a brownnosing hue.

…As someone who had lived under the heels of others all this time, Mikel had to notice it, even if he didn’t want to.

“There’s no greater happiness for a soldier than to be of use to his comrades and his party. Whatever is it, Comrade Political Commissar?”

What empty nonsense it was to work for a party you didn’t believe in. It made him want to lament, Oh Lord. Surely even the Lord, although he might wince, would forgive him some tricks necessary for survival.

Then was this the Lord’s protection and forgiveness? The political commissar began to speak as if a dam had broken.

“Very well, Comrade Colonel…allow me to consult with you. We’ve actually just received special orders from Moskva. They’re instructions of the highest priority from the Central Committee.”

“Special orders from Moskva?! Comrade Political Commissar, I haven’t been notified…” He protested because he was the battalion commander, after all. Of course, he knew how little Moskva trusted them. It made him sick. But if they were going to be entrusted with such an important mission, he would want to be preparing far in advance.

“My apologies, but it was top secret, and I only just found out about it myself.”

“Top secret?”

“Yes, an escort is needed, Comrade, and you and your own comrades have been ordered to provide it. According to Moskva, it’s a civilian ship from the Commonwealth and…you’re to coordinate its defense with the Commonwealth marine mages on board.”

A civilian ship from the Commonwealth. Wasn’t the party cursing them as despicable pawns of bourgeois imperialism just a few years ago?

A civilian ship from there is visiting a northern naval base? And Moskva is telling us to protect it? It didn’t seem at all likely.

No. The absurd truth hit him.

“You’re saying Moskva has special orders for us?”

“Comrade Colonel, it’s a mission of utmost importance. I’m sure the party and the fatherland have significant expectations of us… Let’s rise to meet them together.”

The political commissar’s creepy smile as he held out his hand irritated Mikel.

Moskva, the party members none of them was paying any attention to us a few months ago. And now I’m supposed to be comrades with this guy with the chilly smile? What a dramatic twist of fate. It’s surreal. Cliché, in fact.

And what other words are there to describe it? Whoever said, “Truth is stranger than fiction,” hit it right on the nose.

“Of course…but… We’re really just escorting a civilian ship?”

Still, what’s the deal with escorting a civilian vessel? What the heck are they telling us to protect?

Mikel had been doing his utmost to collect information since his release. But there was no way the newspapers published by the party contained truth and the news as is. Reading between the lines to figure out what hadn’t been written was no easy task.

“If it’s not confidential, I’d like you to tell me: It seems slightly excessive to me. Are its passengers or cargo that valuable?”

We’ve been stationed up in the relatively quiet north despite the main lines turning into a stalemate.

I thought the only reason Central would send a detestable political commissar here was to get rid of him…but apparently I was wrong.

He was suddenly very curious about what was being entrusted to them.

“It must be quite some cargo…”

“Yes, well, it is valuable without a doubt. But compared to the actual target of your services, its load probably isn’t as important.”

What’s that supposed to mean? Mikel wondered, but the political commissar continued right on talking.

“We want you to treat this defensive mission the same way you would a mission in airspace over the capital. Keep a sharp watch.”

“I understand that we’re escorting a civilian boat, but I just don’t get it. For starters, even if you tell us to protect a ship, I can only wonder what we should actually do. In that case…” I have to tell him that we simply can’t do what we can’t do. Mikel continued, “We have no maritime navigation training, and on top of that, our unit has no anti-submarine doctrine. I don’t really think we’ll be a useful convoy escort.”

“Oh, but Moskva isn’t asking you to perform a maritime or convoy escort.”

The response confused him. As far as Mikel knew, ships sailed through water. If they were being told to escort the ship, the only possibilities he could come up with were flying above the convoy or sailing alongside it.

He wasn’t even familiar with the navy in the first place.

“Comrade Political Commissar, you’re being too vague. I realize I’m not well versed in matters pertaining to the sea, but I’d appreciate it if you’d explain. Aren’t we going to be guarding the transport ship?”

“You are correct, Comrade Colonel.”

I don’t understand the context of this at all. Mikel was about to cock his head when the commissar’s next words confused him even further.

“But it’s not a convoy. What we’ll be protecting is a single, huge transport ship of Commonwealth nationality.”

“Huh?” The question slipped out at that news. We’re providing this powerful of a guarding force to one boat?

“It’s sailing alone? That’s awfully reckless. I’ve heard imperial subs are lurking around… What a dangerous thing to do.”

“Ha-ha-ha. You’re right. Under normal circumstances, I’m sure that would be true; however, Comrade Colonel. This ship must sail alone. Contrary to what one might think, that’s probably the safest option.”

What? Just as Mikel was about to cock his head in confusion, the commissar continued hesitantly.

“It got attacked by a powerful imperial aerial mage unit and still managed to break through the RMS Queen of Anjou, code name: Queen of the Sea. It’s currently the largest ocean liner in the world.”

“The RMS Queen of Anjou? That’s a name I don’t know.”

Although I suppose I should have heard of it if it’s the biggest ship in the world.

“…It’s new, only made its maiden voyage a couple of years ago. It may not be very well known in the Federation.”

“A few years ago?”

“Either way, well, er. It would be great if you could not worry about that.”

Oh. It was then that Mikel scoffed at himself internally for being so stupid. Of course the political commissar would have a hard time saying that.

Its maiden voyage a few years ago!

That was when we were in the gulag learning how far we could go before our humanity would break. He was forced to recall how they were unable to get any information about the outside world.

A slightly awkward silence hung in the air. But this wasn’t all bad news for Colonel Mikel. At the same time, he knew for sure that a favorable wind was now blowing.

“I’ve overcome that unfortunate misunderstanding and am grateful that the party has a place for us now.”

Mikel was desperate. If this went well, it could lead to a promotion. It seemed like a chance. But the chance didn’t come free. If he failed this special mission from Moskva, he, and even his family, wouldn’t get off easily.

On the other hand, if he could pull it off… If he could pull it off, maybe he would be allowed to take back what he missed so dearly. Though they were being treated better, his family was still in the camp.

If he could provide a normal life for them with this…

“Not to rush, but I’d like to hear the details of the mission. Please tell me.”

“I’d expect nothing less from you, Comrade Colonel. Your response is encouraging.”

Mikel wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of getting worked so hard by this political commissar smiling at his luck. But Mikel knew from experience not to make enemies for no reason.

He gave the commissar a vague smile and figured he wouldn’t be tainted to his core just for shaking hands. If he didn’t shake hands with the devil and drink vodka together with him, he’d never last until the Lord’s return.

“It’s damaged…but can still sail. That’s how it made it to our navy base. However,” he continued in a voice suppressing his disgust, “the effects of the imperial strike cannot be ignored. The attacks targeted the deck and the engine, so the damage is profound. Our comrades at the base are working as fast as they can to fix it, but they say it will definitely take a few days.”

“I have a question. Will the RMS Queen of Anjou be carrying things we need in the future?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Perhaps the rumor that the so-called West Side was sending us military gear, industrial parts, and a ton of medical supplies in support of the fierce fight on the main lines was true.

Surprisingly, maybe it’s best not to discount those tiny whispers.

“For that reason, we must provide complete protection. That is the special mission for you, Comrade, and your comrades from the party executives.”

“It’s an exceedingly great honor to bear the party’s expectations. But, Comrade Political Commissar, what does ‘complete protection’ mean?”

It was unusual to specify a single ship and send in a mage battalion. Anyone would guess there was a catch. As for Mikel, he understood that they needed to protect the RMS Queen of Anjou that the West Side was sending over.

But he didn’t understand the particular repetition and emphasis on complete. In a way…that was a reasonable question for him to have as a soldier.

To the political commissar, the need for perfection was clear as day. But though he was deeply sorry, he didn’t explain any more.

“It’s the heart of our maritime supply line. Comrade Colonel, no matter what happens, we want you to defend it to the last.”

That was all the political commissar could say, in his position. In that sense, his answer could qualify as conscientious.

That said, as a member of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs, he knew.

…He knew what Comrade Loria would do to anyone who failed.

He knew the Commissariat for Internal Affairs didn’t hesitate to turn a present-tense person into a past-tense person.

And knew how incredibly cutthroat the key figures were during wartime.

That’s why the job had to be done perfectly.

“In other words, pull no punches. Do whatever it takes. Send it back to the Commonwealth without letting it get another scratch?”

“Exactly, Comrade Colonel. Moskva, the Commissariat for Internal Affairs, and Comrade General Secretary Josef are all hoping that our wonderful foreign friends have a peaceful trip home.”

Though the true meaning of the political commissar’s ghastly, repetitive exhortations didn’t get through to Colonel Mikel…they were enough to give him a sense of crisis and make him realize how important the mission was.

In a way, you could say the two of them agreed on something for the first time.

“I see. I understand Moskva’s wishes very well now.”

Once the political commissar said that much, what other choice did Mikel have, in the Federation, than to accept?

In the party, there was nothing higher priority than the wishes of Moskva and Comrade General Secretary Josef. At least he hadn’t been told to die, so he probably wasn’t allowed to complain.

And so.

On that day.

Colonel Mikel stood in front of his battalion and barked, “Comrades, it’s as you’ve heard. Our role is to be guard dogs. Stick close to the ship until it makes it safely home!”

“““Yes, sir!”””


“Colonel von Degurechaff, I realize it’s not my place to say this, but…are you serious?”

Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff is surprised to be asked such a question so suddenly.

Crammed inside the cramped U-152 is a mage unit that is, three companies’ worth of personnel. She thought they would hate being smashed together in the small space, but they consented so easily she hadn’t been paying enough attention.

She assumed the submarine crew would be cooperative.

“I’m having trouble understanding the intent of your question, Captain von Schraft. What do you mean?”

There’s nothing more obnoxious than having your resolve questioned over and over.

To Lieutenant Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff, a decision is a decision. Once she makes up her mind, even if a terrible god stands in her way, she’ll blast her way through if she has to.

No. After a moment’s reflection, she gracefully corrects her mistake. If a terrible god stands in my way, I’ll be delighted to blast it to bits.

“You’re really going to attack the naval base?”

“That’s what I’ve been saying this whole time.”

It’s fine for Captain von Schraft to question my sanity. I respect his free will.

Tanya could argue loudly that he misunderstands her, but she has no intention of interfering with the thoughts and beliefs of a naval officer of the same rank as her.

That’s what it means to be liberal.

But. Tanya acknowledges there is one point that her duty necessitates she argue. Things that should be said must be said.

“With all due respect, Captain, it’s the Supreme High Command and the General Staff’s wishes. I don’t believe we’re at liberty to have an opinion.”

“You make a good point. I can’t argue with that. But…” He smiles wryly and moves out from in front of the periscope. Then he casually pushes a wooden box into the space. Oh, fine sailors of U-152, when this war is over, you should pivot into the service industry.

He must have realized the periscope was impossible for a child to look through. That’s just the sort of thing I’d expect from the navy; they appreciate people with their heads screwed on.

“Take a look at this, Colonel.”

“…All right.”

The superior lens is telescopic. The Empire’s optics technology maintains its praiseworthy reliability even in open water in the Northern Sea.

That said, it’s still just a periscope.

“Can you see? No offense, but I’m guessing you can’t.”

Of course, U-152’s periscope is properly maintained and fully functional. There’s just a fundamental limit to what it can do. In reality, visibility is awful and all she can see is a haze.

“You’re correct. But it’s not just because I had to stand on tiptoe to look?” she asks as she steps down from the irritating box with as straight a face as she can manage. She’s not about to undervalue a specialist’s knowledge and make a decision without getting the opinion of Captain von Schraft or someone on his crew. “I guess I’m hoping maybe a submariner with plenty of experience might have a different way of looking at things…”

“Sorry, but I must disappoint you.”

“…So then?”

“Well, we have confirmation that the princess of the sea is at the base. It’s just that we know nothing else.” How disagreeable of him. He’s just shrugging and saying, Guess they shook us.

And yet how natural and open. Or perhaps we should say it suits him. Even if the Imperial Navy is a straitlaced bunch. Or maybe all submarine units are like this?

For better or worse, submariners aren’t generally bound by convention.

Well, if they can do their jobs, that’s fine. If they follow the bare minimum of rules, then an outsider doesn’t really have the right to complain.

“And we don’t know where the enemy is. We submariners like to watch for our chance and then attack. Frankly, we prefer to be cautious.”

“…What you say certainly makes sense. But the intel we received from the air fleet has proven far more useful than what we got from the joint intelligence agency of the Army and Navy Commands. You could say that now is our chance we should take the initiative and strike.”

“I can’t deny that, but they’re probably keeping a close watch.”

“They probably haven’t even dreamed that mages would sneak over there on a submarine. Sneak attacks are a classic method, but that’s because they’re so useful.”

Even Pearl Harbor5 was, logically speaking, a huge gamble that never should have worked. Or think of the submarine operations to enter Scapa Flow.6

To be fair, the British bomber units who, back when the Luftwaffe7 was alive and kicking, broke through the Nazi air screen and harassment-bombed Berlin had commendable skill and bravery.

And I’m not averse to acknowledging the bravery of the Communists.

But…they’re making a structural error. The Red Square International Airport Incident is a fine example. We learned this when we attacked Moskva: They’re great at conspiracies, but they’re not always perfect when it comes to the serious stuff. For another instance, there’s the case of Inchon, when the strategic transportation hub that had to be resolutely defended…was not defended.

“We’ll take the enemy by surprise. It’s an old trick, but that’s how you know it works. Going at them with a traditional method wouldn’t be so bad, would it?” Tanya adds that the best way is the tried-and-true way. “Of course, I don’t mean to look down on the proper, orthodox methods.”

“I’m sure you don’t. Doing things the orthodox way is best, if it’s possible.”

Everything he’s saying makes sense, but Tanya has to inquire about something. “May I ask you something straight?”

Captain von Schraft signals with his eyes for her to continue, and Tanya throws him a fairly insolent question.

Thirty knots may be incredibly fast, but if the exit point is known, even a novice at naval operations like Tanya can come up with any number of plans. Why weren’t the submarine units or the navy acting?

“If you know the ship is in the port, can’t you just ambush them with the subs here? You’ve identified which port it’s in, right?”

“Of course we considered that. We considered an ambush, and a wolf-pack attack, and also a mine operation where we planted a field along its projected course…”

“This is just the opinion of an amateur, but none of those methods sounds so bad.”

Those are the orthodox methods. They take full advantage of submarine-specific properties. The imperial submarines led by U-152 should be able to do those things.

“Yes, if they were possible, they wouldn’t be bad.”

“If they were possible?”

There are an awful lot of overtones going on here. We’re talking about the basic options when conducting a commerce raid operation.

They’re completely normal ways to use submarines. Frankly, she can’t shake the question of why they would be impossible.

Weren’t submarines originally designed specifically to do those things?

“Is there…some problem? If you don’t mind, I’d like to hear about it.”

“Of course. Well, first, the plan of using submarines to build a mine screen…went up in smoke when a unit that nearly sank put up a fierce protest.”

“What in the world happened?”

One, sure, but the entire unit nearly sank?

Did they build a minefield to defend against submarines? No…they shouldn’t have enough forces to build a minefield capable of blocking all submarines from sailing the Northern Sea. So she says, puzzled, “As far as the briefing I read, the Federation isn’t very good at fighting with mines. What I heard at home is that they’re sticking pretty close to their coasts.”

“Yes, that’s all correct, Colonel.”

Captain von Schraft puts on a smile that has a hint of irony about it. Still, he’s not sneering at her information. So then, what’s the issue with waging mine warfare?

“As far as I know, we’re the only power attempting mine warfare in the Northern Sea. And that right there is the issue.”

When Tanya seeks an explanation with her eyes, the submariner scoffs as he shares his woes. “The sensors of the new magnetic mines have a critical defect. In these high latitudes, and in this area rich with mineral resources, the magnetism is particularly powerful, you see. We can’t expect these garbage triggers to work properly at these levels.”

“You mean they don’t go off?”

“The opposite! It’s terrible!” he says, and though he’s smiling, a tense, weary emotion comes through. Why would this submarine captain who boasts he fears nothing look so stressed?

What happened? She can’t help but be curious. “If they go off, that’s better than if they didn’t, right? Even if they go off early, that’s less of a problem than if they fail completely, no?”

“If they weren’t exploding at times that they really, really shouldn’t be, maybe.”

…Hmm. She feels like she’s heard this somewhere before. When she thinks about it, she recalls that the friendly subs trying to take out the Entente Alliance fleet were troubled by torpedoes that exploded too soon.

“You mean they’re exploding before the enemy ships are anywhere near them?”

“Nein, nein, nein! Nothing so charming as that. The triggers are overly sensitive… Shockingly enough, they react to the submarines!”

“Huh? To the subs…?”

“Yes. They were nearly sunk by the mines they laid themselves. We never should have tried fighting with mines.”

For a moment, she doesn’t understand what Captain von Schraft has just said.

She doubts her ears, and her jaw drops slightly.

They wouldn’t be able to perform a sneak attack like that.


“It’s incredible the damn things will even respond to the U-152’s magnetic signature. It seriously makes me wonder if agents from Commonwealth Intelligence have infiltrated our underwater explosives development department.”

Magnetic mines work by reacting to magnetic signatures. In theory, submarines also have magnetic signatures.

But doesn’t that mean they have safety mechanisms to keep them from exploding? How can you even lay them if your own boat causes a reaction?

“And on top of that, the torpedo fuses are rotten.”

“You’ll have to excuse my ignorance, but they haven’t fixed that yet?” Tanya asks, utterly astonished. She had seen a torpedo shot by a submarine on an operation in this same Northern Sea explode too early, but she feels like that was ages ago.

Regarding mechanical problems, Tanya’s impression has been that imperial manufactured goods are reliable. That it’s possible even now for the Empire with its national strength to keep pumping out high-precision industrial products.

But the Empire’s marine weapons like torpedoes and mines keep having shameful failures?

“Mm, we’ve made progress since before. Things have gotten better.”

This is what true shock feels like.

Did the definition of better change from “improved” to “worsened” when I wasn’t looking?

“B-better…?” She nearly says, This is? but swallows the words because they would be too rude. Still, this is too much. The submarine units are the most active part of the Imperial Navy. Yet the primary arms we’re giving them are defective?

“Things really have gotten much better. Believe me.”

“I-in…what way specifically?”

“It’s an important military secret, but all right, I’ll explain it to you. The contact fuses are so-so. At least, if you make a direct hit, they’ll explode more than half the time. Well, if the angle of incidence is shallow, it’s like shooting the same old dummy rifle, but…”

Tanya gapes at him and shouts, incredulous, “…W-wait a sec! You’re saying that a direct hit only explodes half the time?!”

Misfires happen, of course.

She knows that for a fact.

Even the shells the artillery fires are sometimes duds. Some torpedoes misfire; that she…can understand. But to Tanya, the fact that even a direct hit triggers only half the time is utterly absurd.

And Captain von Schraft continues in a self-deprecating tone, as if he wanted to see that reaction from her. “Hmm? We love the contact fuses compared to the others.”

“Sorry, but could there possibly be something worse?”

“There is this. There’s a problem with the depth-keeping mechanism, so we can’t aim torpedoes for direct hits on ships with shallow drafts. Specifically, ones like destroyers and so on.”

The grave revelation that the submarines don’t have a way to combat destroyers… Even though submarines are so vulnerable themselves.

They can’t even torpedo their natural enemy, those escort ships that scatter mines everywhere…?

“So that leaves us with our dear magnetic triggers as our hope…but due to the high latitude, we keep having issues with them. In the Northern Sea, if our only option is magnetic triggers, we have a better chance of survival if we stay quiet and dodge the depth charges.”

“…You’ll have to excuse me, Captain von Schraft. There are no words to describe the circumstances the submarine units are in. I’m impressed you’ve been able to carry on fighting…”

“Thank you, Colonel von Degurechaff. It’s understanding, not pity, for which there is no substitute. Even so, may I vent about one thing?”

Tanya nods yes, and the captain begins speaking in an even voice.

“The most hopeless thing of all is that…”

Suddenly, she realizes…

Everyone on the bridge seems to be resisting some urge.

“The navy’s Weapons Division stubbornly claims that the issues are all operational errors. They’re convinced their torpedoes are perfect.” He snaps on the U-152 bridge how ridiculous it is. “As proof, they keep guaranteeing us that they worked in the lab. That’s their response to them not working in battle.”

“…I’m completely dumbfounded. I can’t believe you have to fight a war with weapons you’re not even sure will work or not. You’re being jerked around by the developers’ egos you have my sympathy. Please let me observe when you load the developers into your torpedo tubes.”

“Sorry, but that bit of fun is restricted. It’ll be a party for submariners only; I hope you understand.”

“Ha-ha-ha. No, that makes sense. It was a presumptuous request. I’d appreciate it if you could even just tell me how it goes.”

“You can count on me for that, at least. I could even print up a leaflet and send it over.”

The delight of blowing fools away… It’s a forbidden thrill. Yes, I see how outsiders shouldn’t be poking their noses in.

In that case… Tanya makes the appropriate gear switch and brings the conversation back to reality. “Anyhow, I understand your situation now. It’s no wonder submarine attacks go so poorly.”

I had no business talking about orthodox methods. No, Tanya corrects herself. The joint intelligence agency’s plan was for the submarines to deal the final blow via torpedo.

In other words, the information about the defects either hasn’t gotten to them, or they didn’t find it important.

It’s stupid, but the Imperial Navy, which has expanded so rapidly, is awful at troubleshooting. It’s become a wholly useless organization. Time to make some cuts.

But making that report comes after dealing with this.

“As things stand, all we can do is observe, or maybe fire torpedoes if we’re lucky. I want to support you in the base raid, but…as frustrating as it is to say, we can’t.”

“It’s a huge help for you to even carry us this far.”

“U-152 is a submarine, you know? Not a transport ship.”

“No,” the duty officer on the bridge grumbled. “As long as the eels can’t be counted on, U-152 is a transport ship that sneaks around the sea. Much to our regret, though we were built to sink transport ships, we ended up becoming one under the water at some point.”

How true, she wants to sympathize.

But there’s nothing more useless than blaming them for problems they didn’t cause.

Tanya knows that the people on the ground are frequently exhausted by the top making systematically impossible demands. Though in theory, encouraging people is fine organizational management.

You morons who discount the power of words, you scum who sling abuse! Whether it’s the teeming swarm of Being X’s allies or just a bunch of idiots, it can all just rot.

“No, no, you’re a fine attack sub. You’re going to unleash us, so I think you can consider us something like aerial torpedoes.”

Aircraft carriers don’t attack, themselves, either. They’re just platforms from which to launch the planes on board. But are there any soldiers who underestimate an aircraft carrier as a transport ship? Not if they have normal intelligence.

“Ha-ha-ha, a torpedo that soars through the sky?”

“Yeah, and you can use the word unleash just like for torpedoes.”

Sensing the improving atmosphere aboard the sub, Tanya allows her lips to slowly curl into a bewitching smile. A ballistic missile platform is also a fearsome ship.

Calling it a part of mutually assured destruction is plenty correct. Although at this point in time in this world axis, the idea is still an armchair theory.

“…Don’t you think that’s something?”

The crew members who replied, “Sure is,” probably think it’s just a cute story. But even a cute story can inspire people to be ambitious once more.

I introduced words to General von Zettour as an inexpensive weapon, but…if they can be used to support allies, as well? Logos! How powerful.

Perhaps it’s because she’s thinking those things?

“That’s fine. Then quit sulking about a transport mission and concentrate on preparing to launch our aerial torpedoes.”

Hearing how smoothly Captain von Schraft says it, Tanya realizes something with a start. Was this whole conversation just a skit for the crew?!

Really? she does wonder, but the next thing he says convinces her. Speaking in a casual tone, the captain of the sub seizes the hearts of his crew.

“Anyone with a free hand, I have something else for you to do. Even if we’re shooting into the air, a torpedo attack is a torpedo attack. We need to add to our sunk tonnage. The treasury’s got a bottle for anyone who comes up with a way to threaten the brutes at Fleet Command.”

Amid the cheers on the bridge, Tanya discreetly removes her cap and waves it at the captain. Wow.

“I finally understand why Submarine Command, despite being strangely cooperative in sending out boats, starts talking circles around me right before the attack.”

“Ha-ha-ha! Sorry, Colonel von Degurechaff. I’ll apologize on behalf of all our officers for using you, an outsider, to further our own purposes. The torpedo troubles are really eating away at morale, both for us and for all the other submarine units.”

She can’t argue with morale problems.

And it’s true that the torpedoes are defective. Tanya knows the pain of being handed faulty weapons, so she understands and can even sympathize.

The Elinium Type 95 is ridiculously flawed. It’s a toss-up which is worse: that or a mine that explodes right near a submarine the moment it gets laid.

Who could fight a war under such conditions? It would drive you nuts.

“I understand painfully well. I’m not going to hold a grudge over getting used or anything like that. If I get a chance, I’ll report to the core General Staff members about the torpedo issues.”

“We’d appreciate that so much. Thank you.”

Surely exchanging textbook salutes is enough, then. Inside the cramped submarine, on the crowded bridge, there’s no reason to annoy everyone with prolonged motions.

All that is left is hashing out the administrative details.

“So what are you actually planning to do, Colonel von Degurechaff? That ship is enormous. Honestly, I think it will be very hard to sink. If we succeed,” he says, continuing in a lighter tone, “do you think we could have half the tonnage?” But his eyes show his concern for us. “Can you tell me how this is going to work?”

“Basically, we’ll be taking a classic approach. We’ll distract the enemy with a feint, and in that opening, the task force will go about blowing it up.” Tanya gives a brief explanation of the plan. “Therefore, most sneak attacks are distractions with a task force delivering the main blow. Well, even if we fail to destroy the enemy ship, we’ll have achieved a distraction. We’ll be counting on you to recover us.”

“What a bold plan. Understood. We’ll get it done.”


For First Lieutenant Serebryakov, the sight reminded her for a moment of the Rhine front.

No matter how much I try to bury the memories of those days, the smell of gun smoke brings them back. I’ll never be able to play in the mud like a child again. Mud recalls irritating yet nostalgic memories.

How could I ever forget the days I spent holed up in the trenches?

“Oh God, forgive our enemies.”

The one who began singing next to me was my superior officer, feared by our enemies as a monster. It makes sense that even allies are quietly calling her Rusted Silver instead of White Silver.

Still, I know Tanya von Degurechaff better than anyone in the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion. In fact, I’ve served under her since before she earned the von in her name in the war college.

She’s the officer who let me live while the guys I joined up with, Harald and Kurst, became so much ground beef.

That eminent figure, that person, that senior member of the forces…

She doesn’t seem to believe in God. Yet she was praising Him on the battlefield…? The moment I think, Don’t give away our position…, I remember her clenching her orb on the Rhine front and praying just like this. She doesn’t talk big at all; in fact, she’s modest. Reality is far too unreal.

She’s crazy. There’s something strange about her.

“Oh God, forgive our enemies.”

The enemy mages scattered every which way.

Two companies of Federation aerial mages were being toyed with by a single opponent. Her own company didn’t even have time to jump in.

“It’s not that the enemy is stupid, just…”

That’s what it’s like to murmur a mixture of surprise, admiration, and astonishment in spite of yourself.

Despite the sneak attack I suppose the Federation had responded with surprising speed.

Though they came with a force of two companies from a different direction to cause confusion, troops were scrambling to meet us immediately. I’d heard the Federation Army’s rear was completely relaxed, but apparently not.

We should have anticipated it, but there were Commonwealth escorts with them. Well, no, that much was according to expectations. There was only one problem: Their coordination was actually not too shabby.

It was a regiment of Commonwealth mages plus the same number of Federation mages. I couldn’t deny that I was shocked that the two countries managed to coordinate just as they had said. I thought they would be sloppier, but I underestimated them.

…Our battalion even managed a direct attack on Moskva. Yes, we were the veteran 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, and yet… I nearly despaired at the tenacity with which the Federation aerial mages and wall of ground forces devoted themselves to keeping us from breaking through. We were all prepared to be subdued and wiped out.

But a single soldier’s fierce fighting turned the tables.

“Those poor ignorant lambs.”

The motions of loading a mana shot, protected by a special sealing formula, into her rifle… She wasn’t even using a formula bullet but a shot formed from her own magical energy.

I knew how powerful that would be.

The colonel cackled no, she giggled, smiling like a child. It was positively surreal to see her eyeing the enemy with her tender gaze and licking her lips.

She snickered, but what was so funny? She was terrifying.

I guess it’s a perfect distraction.

“I’ll have a romp with them. It shall be most amusing.”

No, maybe it’s better to call it a steamrollering.

Despite calling it a distraction, each one of Colonel von Degurechaff’s shots was undoubtedly ripping through the enemy mage’s defensive shells as if they were delicate candy sculptures.

The enemy units bunched up, dumbfounded, in spite of themselves, and we kept firing without a moment’s rest, but…mages’ defensive shells are practically the definition of strong. It’s hard to imagine anything with enough juice to break them that easily.

I had heard from the colonel. I had seen her rage on the Rhine front. But it was now that I had more experience myself that I understood what an outlier that power was.

So this is the full power of the Type 95?

When I heard there was only one person in the whole army who could use it, I thought it was an awful lie, but no.

…Isn’t it too much for a person to handle?

“Amusing, most amusing.”

She laughed as she fired the intense barrage of formulas. Contrary to her lighthearted tone, Colonel von Degurechaff’s formulas were full of crafty tricks. When I took a closer look, I saw there were optical sniping formulas and guided formulas deceptively modified to be harder to detect.

If you only dodged the optical lines of fire, you’d be riddled with holes.

But surprisingly, the Federation mages realized that.

“Colonel Mikel to all units! Break! Break! Get outta here as fast as you can! We can’t take this one! Don’t even try!”

She had no idea how he figured it out, but the enemy commander at the head of his group shrieked over the open channel that everyone should dodge. At the same time, he handled the situation brilliantly himself. He bent his flight path so hard and lost so much momentum in the process, he nearly fell out of the sky.

Then the Commonwealth commander roared evasion orders, too. Both instructions resulted in clear changes in their units’ movements.

Emergency evasion was strictly prohibited in the manual. The Federation had been forced to do it not once but repeatedly, and now the Commonwealth mages, too. Their formations began to come apart.

Anyone could see the airspace was exceedingly dangerous; the closely packed units were performing highly mobile erratic evasive maneuvers, and who knew where they were dodging next.

When seen from above, their desperate movements to escape the God of Death’s scythe just looked like clumsy struggling. They were so sluggish. They weren’t going fast enough. They got too late a start to dodge the approaching blade.

“I shall sing praises of the Lord.”


Practically joyously, Colonel von Degurechaff began singing in a high and somehow pure-sounding voice. With a merry smile, she seemed to delight in it. It was a smile without a hint of reproach. A truly charming, out of place smile, pretty as a picture.

If you didn’t know her, the battalion commander…it was a cheerful smile like you’d find in a painting.

But lurking behind that smile was an absolute will to fight.

“We’re going to play with the Empire’s archenemy. What fun!”

What she formed was a manifestation formula, pouring in vastly more mana than ever before. Making up the unbelievably dense four-layer formula was extraordinarily thick magical energy.

Most people would be shocked.

However, I knew that Colonel von Degurechaff didn’t actually have a huge amount of mana. She had only a little more than average.

It was entirely possible that I had more. If you lined up a select group of mages like their battalion by mana amount, it would be faster to count from the bottom to find the colonel.

But even questioning the significance of that was absurd.

“Our archenemy shall dye the earth with their blood.”

With a gleeful shout, she fired that thing.

Having increased its density as she managed its size, she unleashed it.

That very moment, it scattered.

A red, red something spattered the earth in huge quantities.

“The game is to dry that up enjoy!”

Dripping red liquid. Pink things that used to be humans, flying everywhere. And opposite that scene was a beaming little girl. It was so surreal, it made more sense for me to suppose I had gone insane.

No, maybe I really did go insane.

While I was thinking this and that, I was keeping my hands busy making optical sniping formulas to put holes in the enemies who fell through the cracks of my commander’s attacks. The enemy mage named Mikel, who had shouted evasion orders earlier, was still moving.

So I needed to aim for the enemy commander. I was baptized on the Rhine, too, I recalled.

The conditioned reflexes I had soaked up, optimizing myself for combat… Now that I was used to it, it was rare I didn’t know what to do.

“Ohhh, praise be to the Lord.”

The sight of my superior officer nodding with satisfaction and beginning a confession of her faith was horrific. I didn’t get even a glimmer of madness from her beautiful, innocent eyes. They were the eyes of a stubborn servant of logic, full of pure reason.

But that’s what was so horrific: those eyes stuck on that doll-like face.

Still, it was the superior officer I knew by now, and the mages writhing on the ground were only enemy soldiers who needed to be finished off.

Even the Commonwealth marine mages, who fed us a taste of bitter defeat, ended up like this when we went hunting for them. The 203rd’s reputation was alive and well.

The renown we built up in Norden, in Dacia, on the Rhine, in the southern continent would continue to compound glories.

“The promised land shall open.”

The demoralized enemy mages were trying to split up, but it was too late. The battalion’s follow-up attacks found their marks.

I was casting optical sniping formulas unconsciously. In that soundless void, the enemies went down so easily. Only a few including, irritatingly, the commander were still doing fine.

That said, they probably didn’t have the energy to resist anymore.

This was supposed to be a distraction, but it turned into a massacre.

It was so silent, as if to not interrupt the prayer.

“Now sing, now sing.”

Never mind that this was a battlefield… Even though it was a battlefield… On this hushed battlefield…

“I shall praise the will of God.”

Our superior had a huge sneer on her face.

That means, I thought, all of a sudden.

“Grantz, if it goes well, that’s great, but… If we fail to destroy the ship, I don’t think she’ll stop at kicking our butts in this state of malevolence,” I grumbled over the wireless without thinking.

I was answered by a man’s voice, trembling to its core.

Of course, it was Grantz.

“05 to my cohort painting such a horrific picture of the future. Gimme a break. I’m so, so scared, I’m practically shaking.”

“Huh? You’re all ready?”

Lieutenant Grantz nodded. “Yeah. This’ll be no problem. I mean, the colonel gave us such an incredible distraction. I won’t complain if any numbskulls who get that kind of support and still fail get sent to the firing squad. Okay, I guess it’s about that time. Let’s sync our watches: three, two, one, boom.” He didn’t even have to say, “Watch this!”

From the port came the thundering of…a massive explosion.

“See?” I heard his voice in the background and was sure he was wearing a proud grin.

Now, then, I thought. I’m sure the U-152 crew will share some canned food with us, at least. If things go well, I can get us a bottle and playing cards. If we’re lucky, there will even be dessert?

All right. That got her fired up.

A tasty meal, something sweet, and wine. Rather than worry about the tough stuff, let’s have some fun for now.


In Moskva, the newly built Commissariat for Internal Affairs building had long since turned into a nightless fortress. With the strict blackout, light wasn’t pouring out, per se, but still, if you walked by, you would be able to see the officials coming and going inside.

Anyone had to concede that the staff of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs was extraordinarily diligent in keeping up their war efforts compared to most of the Federation’s public servants.

To be frank, they were, in a way, the steel-clad vanguard of Communism.

Their efficiency, their self-sacrifice, and their unflagging spirit made them indomitable workers.

Of course, the majority of them were normal humans. But that didn’t diminish their drive to work.

And the source of their diligence was…simple fear.

“Comrade Loria! The inspection failed to find any misappropriation, corruption, or improper conduct! Neither were there any reactionary remarks made regarding the inspection itself!”

A Commissariat for Internal Affairs official, wearing an immaculate uniform, read the report. He seemed about to continue when the dull thud of a fist slamming down on the table interrupted him.

He froze as a glare rolled to fix on him, and the room’s occupant snapped, “I’m fairly certain I ordered you to expose improper conduct. Let’s be clear. You really didn’t find anything?”

“N-no, Comrade, we didn’t.”

Hearing that quivering reply, Loria’s expression was sternness incarnate.

Then he pronounced the man’s sentence.

“That’s fine. Comrade guards, take this fool away. Sabotage during wartime is a crime against the nation.”

“Yes, sir!”

“P-please wait! This must be some mistake!”

The man protested as the guards grabbed his arms and began to drag him away, but Loria flatly denied him.

“There’s no mistake at all. Your case was a dummy conducted as part of an internal audit of our staff. We had the object of your inspection perform the corrupt act, and we have record of the inspector taking the bribe.”


“If you had just reported that…things would have been different, but you accepted the bribe without telling us. That’s enough,” spat Loria.

He didn’t have time for a single pointless action when time was passing moment by moment.

“I’m sure a single punishment will be a better lesson for these idiots than a lecture. Next!”

“Er, Comrade Loria…”

Loria turned a gaze of merciless intensity on his hesitating subordinate. Even with that questioning look, the response was slow in coming.

“What? Let’s have it. Hurry up!”’

“It’s bad news…about the Queen of the Sea…”

Sensing he wasn’t getting anywhere, Loria asked directly. And his expression tensed at the nervously delivered information.

There was probably no way to stop that twinge of emotional fluctuation.

The fact that something had happened to the ship entrusted to them by their precious yes, in a way precious “bullet shield” made Loria seethe with rage.

It wasn’t clear what the John Bulls were up to, but he and they had come to an agreement. After all their reluctance, he had persuaded them. He had ordered dozens of Federation officials slowing him down to be shot; either that or he threatened and buttered them up to secure them as allies. All of that, and yet…

The supporting sea route that they needed in order to continue the war, a symbol of their joint struggle, had only just been opened.

Though casualties had been taken into account, they were hopeless if they couldn’t defend the one boat he ordered them to stake their honor on protecting.

He was sure he provided the necessary units, fighting force, and discretion to get it done.

But they still couldn’t do it?

“Those incompetent bastards. What were they doing? Do you have a detailed report?”

If they don’t have an excellent reason, I’m going to make the ones responsible regret surviving the mission for as long as they live, Loria swore in his head as he requested the report.

The silver lining for the official who had been asked was that he actually did have the papers with him. If he had blundered by not bringing them…God only knows what his fate would have been.

After all, the word forbearance had been missing from Loria’s dictionary for ages.

“Here it is, Comrade Loria… I don’t know how they found out, but apparently they sent in a Named mage…”

“…What’s that?”

The inept political officer continued making justifications for the report.

But I told them. Apparently, this guy is stuck in the old way of thinking, where mages aren’t worth paying attention to. Perhaps he was trying to shift the blame? The report went on and on about how unfortunate their position had been.

It was a surprise that the man thought he could get away with making excuses like that.

But… Loria was conscious of a stirring in his emotions as he wrestled his irritation down.

Aside from this one garbage political officer, everyone was putting in a splendid effort.

“Comrade Loria?”

“So there aren’t any mistakes in this report, hmm?”

Everyone here was endeavoring to their utmost ability, working without wasting any time, and giving their all. For Loria, it was the first time in a while that his eyes popped wide open in admiration of their magnificent professional awareness.

Perhaps because he was reading it after dealing with those other inepts? It was even refreshing.

“N-no, sir. It’s the first report, but we did a rough confirmation of the damages!”

“That can be investigated later.”

They’re fighting my fairy, that little imp who attacked Moskva. Teaming up with the Commonwealth and then standing our ground and suffering casualties…is not a bad excuse.

No, more importantly.

“The issue is the enemy who attacked. You’re sure it was…the unit that laid its grubby hands on Moskva? The 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion?”

“O-of course! As you say, Comrade Commissar, that is the conclusion the inspection unit on its tracks reached! They guarantee their identification 100 percent.”

“Very good. When the documents arrive, make delivering them to me highest priority.”

“Yes, sir! Right away!”

“You’re free to let others take over any other ongoing mission you may have. In any case, I want to know where this unit is.”

“I-I’ll get to work on it immediately!”

What wonderful news.

We found her. A few losses are piddling trivialities in the face of my genuine love. I’m even moved to pay my hardworking men a bonus like a capitalist. I should probably arrange some extra rations for them.

Although I’m not pleased that we had one fool who misunderstood his role to the last.

“Also, Comrade, take these orders.”


“It’s orders to execute the incompetent idiot who slandered our hard-fighting comrades. Yes, don’t blame the men on the ground. I’d like to send Colonel Mikel a gift, actually. Arrange for the highest-quality drink and cigarettes to be delivered to him.”

“Shall we poison him?”

What?! He glared at the man, nearly dizzy with confusion. What the hell is this guy talking about?

“…Comrade, were you not listening to what I said? A gift, I want to send him a gift. Just try and lay a thoughtless hand on Colonel Mikel and his troops you’ll get a comprehensive lesson about what happens when you make me mad.”

“Y-yes, sir!”

That was as much as Loria could stomach. He was aware that the Commissariat for Internal Affairs was a gang of useless sadists. He recognized it, and he was taking measures to improve it.

But this was how things stood.

Just incorrigible.

He just wanted to sink deep into his exceedingly pure thoughts…but instead he had to endure the faces of these dolts? He truly struggled to understand why.

To repeat, it was unbearable.

The others had gathered that he was angry by the time he waved them off. “All right, everybody out.” The moment he said it, they all ran away like fleeing rabbits.

That was so funny that it eased his frustration somewhat.

Which was why he gazed at a photo he pulled out of his desk with a smile.

“Ahhh, my ever so lovely, lovely…little fairy. You’re a bit too naughty, but… Well, I’ll just be happy we know where you are.”

You like playing hide-and-seek, don’t you?

“To appear like this just as I was forgetting you, you’re quite quite the tactician! It makes my heart race!”

You like to tease, don’t you?

“I’d nearly forgotten my passions, and now you’ve got me all riled up. Oh, you, you little… This is…”

It’s just unbearable.

Swallowing that last comment, Loria thought, entranced, of his beloved fairy.

He did have a mind to blame the troops on the scene for failing to catch her, but his relief that they’d found her was stronger.

He didn’t really think a unit of that caliber could shoot his fairy out of the sky.

“On the contrary, they did a great job locating her. Yes, Colonel Mikel, was it? He…truly did a fine job. Considering what he was up against, I can only say he did a fantastic job surviving and bringing the intel back to us. I need him to work hard for me.”

How about a game of tag? I’ll be It and catch that girl.

“Ahhh, I can’t wait. I really, truly can’t wait.”

Let’s play.

“Yes, I need Comrade Colonel Mikel to do his best… So I’ll give him and his troops the best support possible and deploy the best reinforcements. Someone who’ll make a favorable impression on the Commonwealth would be good.”

I’ll send her lots of friends.

That lovely jokester fairy. Surely the privilege to have her was his alone, so he was so excited to trap her. He was looking forward to it so much that before he knew it…

“Well, this is no good. Now I’m all hot and bothered, and at my age.”

What a bad girl. It just builds up; it’s too much how am I supposed to help it? What a troublemaker she is. To think I’m this excited to push her down.


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