The Sky In Norden
Editing: Ghoststaker, Doopington, Rockgollem, Namorax
Raw provided by: swiss Momo
Raw provided by: swiss Momo
C.E. 1923 June, Northern Military Region Norden Warzone/Third Defence Line
Why am I fighting a war in a place like this?
Holding an orb in her small hand and placing the rifle which was a substitute for a scepter on the ground, the consciousness known as Second Lieutenant Mage Tanya Degurechaff, bestowed with the ability to soar in the sky kept asking herself, “Why did things turn out this way?”
“Fairy08, paging Norden Control. I say again, Fairy08 paging Norden Control. Please respond.”
Floating in the gloomy sky of Norden was a black dot. Diving below the clouds while maneuvering was the airborne sorcery officer that is the pride of the imperial army —that was me, who was reincarnated into a little girl because of some sort of karma. The thing hanging from her military uniform and held in her hand was an item that used scientific methods to control paranormal phenomena, a Operation Orb that allows Mages to interfere with the world via their will. This was the modernization of an ancient orb using modern magic and science. As the name implies, it was a magically engineered catalyst that could decipher the world’s data.
The mission was to station herself at the altitude of 6000 feet high, maintain cruising speed, and perform artillery observation in the designated airspace.
“Fairy08, this is Norden Control. Reading you loud and clear, your positional tracking is working normally.”
This was nothing, just a flight support mission at the Empire-Federation national borders. Only that the figure with a Operation Orb hung on her neck, while deploying flight magic and performing her observation duties looked surprisingly small. This was not a metaphor, she literally had a small body. She looked less than 10 years old. Even considering that she was female, her physique was still on the petite side. Compared to her outstanding physique in the past life, this height is really quite depressing for her. Speaking of the size of the aviation throat microphones, Tanya was mocked by others because her neck was too thin when she was issued her equipment. She felt so embarrassed back then.
“Fairy08 copy. Reached mission airspace. Reading you loud and clear.”
I have already given up on my voice, but this high-pitched voice always makes me feel uneasy. I’m used to it, but I still can’t stand my own voice. My tongue isn’t flexible so my words comes out with a lisp, shameful.
“Norden Control roger. Carry on with the assigned mission.”
You also have to give it to this army that doesn’t care if I’m a small girl, and can’t speak clearly. This situation was probably reasonable as aerial Mages only focus on air combat. The only standard that mattered was the users’ capability for magic and fighting potential. In the eyes of the Empire who prioritizes this to the extreme, the age requirements for Mages were a relic of the past. Doesn’t matter if you physically look like someone who needs to be cared for, you will still be sent to conduct artillery observation.
“Fairy08, acknowledge. No abnormality in warzone. I say again, no abnormality.”
“Norden Control copy. Your observation zone has been assigned to an artillery battalion. Designation: Goliath07. This arrangement will stand until you receive another order or the mission is completed. Over.”
The general allocation of human resources was based on the geopolitical needs of the Empire. For historical reasons, the Empire is located right in the middle of the continent, so they have had to think of their neighbouring countries as potential enemies. To defend their vast territory, their troop numbers were always a tricky topic. To resolve this problem, the conclusion painstakingly reached by headquarters was to efficiently use every resources available to them.
“Fairy08, this is the artillery battalion from the joint division, Goliath07, do you copy?”
Therefore, even if you are a just young girl, if you can be used, the army will dump her at the borders and order her to execute an aerial patrol mission. They were literally using child soldiers.
“Goliath07, this is Fairy08. Reading you loud and clear. I have visual on enemy infantry approaching. Telemetry has been sent. Please acknowledge.”
It was a surreal image for a young girl to be making official reports in a cute voice while soaring in the sky. By the way, an orthodox army would consist of only normal adults. This was common sense.
The message might be muffled by interference, but hearing the voice of a young child from the signal set was normal for Mages. After all, exceptions were frequently given out of practicality in the armed forces. However, the most important thing was that the constant harshness of military duties had already burnt out the soldiers with conscience. They might feel concerned about young children fighting in war, but their senses were already dulled by the constant grind of their obligations.
“Goliath07 roger....conducting first ranging shot.”
And so, Flight Mage Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff, who was commissioned into the military, made periodic radio checks with practiced hands via the signal set that was as big as her back, performing her duties as a forward artillery observer in the northern plains of Norden. To be honest, I do have complaints about why I am flying in such a place.
“Confirming ranging shot... Confirmed target within shot range. Shot deviation less than 10 meters from target’s center. Please proceed with bombardment.”
“Goliath07 copy. Commencing fire mission.”
Despite the blue eyes that was relentlessly observing the situation in front, it was undeniable that there were flashes of frustration within them. Why am I in this different world, turned back into a child, had my gender changed, and fighting a war?
The thing that annoy me the most are the changes to my body. The body of a child is very inconvenient. Girls might develop faster than boys, but my senses are attuned to a larger body, and the size difference is excessive. And ever since I enlisted into the army, I’ve had plenty of experiences that remind me that I am now just a powerless child.
Being incapable of using a rifle... They’re too big, so I can’t aim properly, and my shoulder will hurt from the recoil. During melee combat training, I was thrown around by others with a sympathetic face.
That was until I understood with the Operation Orb that the world is structured by three vector forces, and I learnt the technique to interfere the data of this world. Before that, I had to rely on weak, uncoordinated arms and legs struggling upon the bare earth.
After putting in tremendous effort, I became skilled in magic techniques that were reliant on thinking instead of my physical body. If I can fly through the air and interfere with reality through magic, I won’t need to be troubled by the restrictions of this petite body.
The strange sensation of using magic is solved with a convenient item. However, possessing such an item doesn’t mean we should use them, right?
I see, ICBMs have to be used when necessary. So there is the need to do maintenance, to train and be prepared to launch it during peacetime. Speaking of which, is there any reason that necessitates the use of an ICBM? It was because of the deterioration of relations between the Empire and its surrounding country, which isn’t a recent event.
A long time ago, the Empire and the Federation had an unofficial dispute over the drawing of the national border. At least on the platform of international politics, neither parties argued over the ownership of the territory in question.
But this was only because of the overwhelming strength that the Empire had; that's why this problem was kept from surfacing. For Tanya, this situation was actually very simple, it was the same reason why the smaller nations wouldn’t enter into border disputes with the Soviet Union by themselves.
...The past could only be discussed using past tense, which was the only regrettable thing.
A few coincidental events happened at the border. The border garrisons from both nations misfired accidentally, and firefights broke out because of some misunderstanding. These issues could be resolved by the commanders on the ground, but it was clear the situation was becoming tense.
If the Empire moved into pre-war footing early, Tanya would be able to retreat to the rear lines and be assigned to non-combat duties. After all, before the battle began, Warrant Officer Tanya Degurechaff was just a cadet officer from Officer Cadet School. Trainees would just be a burden on the frontlines. And so, if the Empire had been able to recognize the situation and make timely preparations, Tanya could have looked forward to her transfer to a research unit or work as an administrator in the rear.
However, high command ignored the turbulent situation and judged it to be simply brinksmanship, resulting in Tanya’s deployment to this place for a military training exercise. This was just an extension of the training she did in Officer Cadet School (OCS), a joint exercise with the army while keeping to her flight patrol route. But after losing her chance to retreat to the rear lines, Tanya was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant after the exercise and deployed for combat.
The call sign given to her was [Fairy08]. The call sign, “Fairy”, irked her. Appearance wise, she was just a short child — no, a loli. She had blue eyes showing strong determination and short blond hair that was easy to care for. Considering her white pristine skin, this name suited her.
After receiving her call sign and officially joining the border garrison, Tanya was assigned to the unit made up of the OCS training branch and local forces. Her first duty was a mandatory 48-hour standby order. She thought she would be sent for training as usual after the formation of the unit to confirm the team members response time and functionality, but she was forced to standby in full battle gear. That happened about 24 hours ago.
Following that, with a timing that would make the devil smile, emergency reports came from the outposts at the frontlines. They warned that there were signs of a large scale Federation military invasion.
The Federation’s changes in policies were what the Empire dreaded. Due to the change in political regime and the installation of new leaders, the rise of nationalism demanded a huge shift in national policies. To be honest, not just Tanya, but everyone in the Empire’s military found it hard to understand why they chose this time to start a reckless military campaign. Before they knew it, the Federation had already issued an ultimatum for the Empire’s forces to withdraw, in lieu of a declaration of war.
They demanded for the ‘Empire forces to leave their national borders within 24 hours’.
The circumstances of the Federation weren’t something a mere Lieutenant could fanthom. However, since border skirmishes were ‘politically sensitive’, it was obvious the Empire wanted to avoid war from officially breaking out. But failing to see the facts for what they are would make them infamous in the history books.
The infamy of being known as idiots. Maybe the Federation had some strategy to seize victory up their sleeves?
Although the Empire could not understand the objective and intent of the Federation, they followed the plans laid out by their country, mobilizing the cautious bureaucracy and military arm in preparations for the theoretical attack that might happen theoretically. For Tanya who was a cog in the war machine, she only did her job as expected of her pay grade. At this point of time, she still thought optimistically that, “Well, this is probably just a political maneuver.”
After all, the neighbouring Union would probably object to military operations occurring so close to it and call for a ceasefire or restrain both sides through intimidation. The Kingdom and Republic that gave aid to the Federation in the past would fear that their past efforts to help them would be lost, and would stop the Federation’s suicidal campaign. That’s right, this was what most of the soldiers thought would happen. After all, soldiers are all pragmatists.
It was clear the Federation had no chance of victory if they fought the Empire head on, so one of these countries would call for a cessation of hostility, leaving the clean up to the politicians and diplomats of both nations.
However, something that was unfathomable to all except for the Federation happened.
“Federation forces are advised to lower your arms and surrender or retreat.”
Going by the common sense of the Empire, this was a shocking advisory. The Empire might be watching the situation develop in disbelief, but the reports of the Federation trespassing borders wasn’t completely unexpected. The fact that it was really happening was what was baffling to them. According to after-action logs, the soldier Lehrgen, serving at the military headquarters said, “...It would be easier to comprehend if it was all just a show orchestrated by their military high command, that’s how unfathomable the intentions of the Federation were,” to express how confounding this incident was.
Putting their doubts aside, the pragmatic Empire immediately issued the command to stop the grand scale invasion by Federation forces. They might be confused or troubled by the Federation’s intent, but when they learned of the possibility of open warfare, the Empire started logistical and battle preparations as per standing orders. Forces from the regiments deployed in various parts of the Empire were mustered by rail, showcasing the smooth and efficient organization of the Empire military, lauded as the reason for their might.
Despite gathering large amounts of resources and mobilizing units, the Empire still couldn’t shake off the doubt and worry in their heart: “Are they for real?”
In the league of powerful nations, the Empire’s armed forces were far ahead of the others. Even during peacetime, a field army would be garrisoned in the borders in the name of national security. Right now, in preparation for war, an ad hoc army was formed on top of that by mobilizing troops that weren’t part of the garrisoned forces. They even considered information warfare and invited presses from other countries as a counter measure, covering all the angles. That’s why the Empire was so doubtful— “Were they going to attack for real?”
For Tanya, she would never even dream about the day the Federation would march on the military powerhouse without any just cause, and doing so with an inferior force in front of international media.
But in this world, fact was stranger than fiction. For Tanya, it was inconceivable how the situation developed into such a stage. Putting it crudely, it was like seeing the suicidal impulse turn physical in an instant.
“War is breaking out! I say again, war is breaking out! The war started just now! Because we were invaded, the Empire has declared against the Legedonia Federation! Earlier today, Federation forces invaded Empire territory from several areas; in retaliation, the imperial forces are counterattacking and heading for the borders! According to reports, our forces have engaged the enemy on multiple fronts!”
With armoured units as the main corps, all allied forces were being mobilized. At the same time, war correspondents from the media were shouting with panic as they send reports coming in from the various battlefronts to the entire world via radio waves.
… Since victory is assured, is that why information warfare is necessary? *sigh* Since our gross national product, technology, and military are miles ahead of them, taking preemptive actions by assuming our victory would be an obvious move.
Permitting the presence of the media before the war started meant that high command knew they had the leisure of promoting their cause. Showing the might and righteousness of the Empire was a good political move. They had already proven the other party was the first to cross national borders, so they had the casus belli to act. They probably allowed the media to follow the troops to showcase the victorious battle. National leaders that would allow the media to cover a military defeat was a fictional existence in this alternate world as well. Having minimal classification of reports was a sign that things were going well.
These were all reasons why Tanya wasn’t nervous. To be honest, when she heard that she would be thrown into the north for a training exercise, she wanted to scream to the heavens, ”Please give divine retribution to this militaristic nation that forced a prepubescent girl to the dangerous front lines, and the existence [X] who threw a kind-hearted man into this world!”
However, if the battle was one-sided like the Gulf War, it would be a chance for her to secure a great future and there wouldn’t be any problems. She would be fighting a war her side would win, staying in the army that would win, and attack the enemy safely from the sky. A simple mission that would advance her career. This was unexpected, but it wasn’t a bad thing. No, it was a golden opportunity. Border patrols were boring and dangerous; even if you accomplished something, it might easily be ignored because of ‘political considerations’. Thanks to this, patrol missions in the conflict-prone zone of Norden was a thankless task.
It was hard to accumulate merits here, and as if to remind her of how bad the situation was, Tanya’s appearance was that of a blond child with fair skin. Her experience was that of an OCS graduate, a young Mage that had a bright future ahead. Even if her commanders were willing to use her, they would suffer infamy as the one who destroyed the bright future of a child if anything was to happen to Tanya. Her abilities aside, just her doll-like appearance would feel out of place. Even Tanya herself wouldn’t want anything to do with someone looking like that unless it involved herself or official duties.
That was her objective view after being commissioned in the Empire military. Although her instructors gave her good reviews, just doing tasks expected of her pay grade made it hard to dispel the unflattering name of 「Loli Mage」. Hence, the only way was to strive for great accomplishments. But even if she wanted to do so, she didn’t have the chance to do so all this while. In other words, she was a “Mage”, but wasn’t treated like one. She was treated just like a baby that would get in the way. Being called an inferior product without considering her experience and situation was humiliating.
The ironic thing was that during a battle in which the Empire had the overwhelming advantage, Tanya was given a chance to buff her resume; she was unexpectedly lucky.
She would be able to participate in this war in great condition. If that was the case, she hoped to obtain the authority and status that would allow her to survive, and to build her social network. In order to do that, she had to be active in this war and earn merits.
When she thought about it that way, Tanya felt that the situation wasn’t that bad after all, unconsciously relaxing her bright red lips.
“No, isn’t this the best thing for my resume?... It isn’t a bad thing.”
No one could hear her quiet mutters. Even if someone was flying near her, her words would probably be covered by the screams of the Empire’s artillery and the impact of the shells. If Tanya pretended that she was observing a display that was several times larger than the Fuji Combined Firepower Exercise, she wouldn’t feel that depressed.
“Fairy08, this is Goliath07. Please report the effect of the bombardment.”
“Goliath07, this is Fairy08. The bombardment is effective. I say again, the bombardment is effective.”
It was a simple job of observing the results and forwarding the telemetry to the artillery. Using flying spells while lugging a radio signal set wasn’t easy, but the Operation Orb issued by the Empire army were excellent. For a potential conflict zone like Norden, many of the units situated in these northern lands were dispatched from central headquarters. Even Tanya herself was from central , at least on paper, and was assigned into a temporary unit after she was sent here for a training exercise.
If she performs her duties diligently, she will make it back to central one day and being assigned to an administrative role would no longer be a dream. If she got selected to be the an Mage officer escort for the administrative department, she might be tasked with the defence of the imperial capital and stay far behind the frontlines. Looking at it from another angle, this was an experience that would help her career tremendously, an assignment she should be grateful for.
When Tanya learned that she would be sent to the boring and dangerous north for a training exercise, she hated her instructor to death. However, it was hard to tell in life if you were unlucky or not. It was a bit late, but she should find some time soon to report on her situation and thank him. Social networks had to be maintained properly.
I am looking forward to the rose coloured life of the elites after all. Tanya was in a good mood as she took part in the battle by observing the shelling of the warzone.
“Norden Control, this is Fairy08.”
“This is Norden Control, reading you loud and clear, over.”
The shells exploding before her eyes successfully dealt critical damage to the infantry units. Although Norden was a mountainous area with undulating landscape, wandering carelessly into enemy territory when their artillery was in position only made the Federation forces easy targets. On top of that, it was a terrain without any cover.
“Fairy08, acknowledged. We are suppressing them right now. I conclude that they are suppressed. The enemy units are falling into disarray.”
The well prepared artillery fired on soft targets from an adequate distance with the guidance of artillery observers on grounds they had already mapped out. It would be harder to not obliterate the enemy. She watched the group of people who used to be soldiers scampering around and falling to the shells’ shrapnel easily. From what she was seeing from her binoculars, Tanya judged that it would be a waste of shells to continue the bombardment.
“Fairy08, Norden control, acknowledged. Push forward to the second defence line and direct our forces to the main enemy infantry body. We will suppress them with direct fire, over.”
“Fairy08 wilco. Proceeding now, continuing observation mission, over.”
Conversing calmly with the control tower made Tanya think that, “the radio is working unexpectedly well in a real battle,” and how free the sky was from radio interference. Reflected in her blue eyes was a cloudy sky, but the weather would definitely not cause radio interference. The signal was crystal clear. So clear that Tanya thought she looked dumb carrying the extra large signal set because she thought the signal would be distorted because of the lodes in Norden. In order to locate the enemy remnants that were still resisting, Tanya flew over the routed Federation forces. As she push ahead as ordered, she felt really confused.
What was the Federation thinking?
If they wanted to conduct a live fire exercise, why not just request for one? If she knew fighting them was easier than shooting a turkey, on the level of shooting dodos, she should have rejected the observation mission and volunteered for air to ground assault missions. In a sure win battle, air to ground bombardment not only assured air superiority and protected aircraft, you can pick and choose the most valuable target to hit. She was so envious of them.
“Norden control, this is Fairy08. I have arrived at the destination, over.”
“Norden control acknowledged. Also confirmed on our end. Sending tactical updates to artillery units. Please proceed with artillery observation, over.”
“Fairy08 roger. Will carry on with artillery observation until advised otherwise, over.”
“Norden Control acknowledge, out.”
♦ ♦ ♦
On the same day,
The skies above the Federation in Northland.
God, why, why is this happening?
Because his tanned lean face was twisted in agony from the reflection of the snow, Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) Anson Suez couldn’t help turning his face skywards. In the sky he was so familiar with due to his work as a Federation Mage, there were the echoes of the Empire’s artillery bombardment in full force. The scene before him was a one-sided battle. No, any soldier with common sense won’t call this a battle, but a massacre. In a hilly region with no cover and only slight undulation in terrain, they not only moved their unarmoured vehicles in, but even the infantry was marching in. They were heading into an area defended by heavy enemy artillery as if they were at a parade.
“This… this is different from what I was told! They opened fire!” “I need backup! Hurry hurry!” “Retreat! On the double! Make a smoke screen!” “It’s gone! My arm is gone!” “Air support is still not here…” “HQ, HQ, please respond! Please respond!”
The place named by the Empire as the ‘national border’, which the Federation called the ‘temporary demilitarized zone’, was the national border drawn according to the Londinum Protocol. If they crossed this zone carelessly to launch a direct attack on the heavily defended Empire base, such a result was to be expected. It didn’t matter what those politicians were thinking, but the radio chatter was evidence that the soldiers in the warzone were paying the price of the hopeless policy… with their lives.
“...Those damn politicians!”
The sluggish economy, the widening wealth inequality and the unemployment rate that refused to fall... the internal issues the Federation government were facing meant they might be ousted after losing the trust of the people. The current regime was paying the price and was recklessly fanning the waves of nationalism and chauvinism. No, what was frightening was the next step. War, a war they had no chance of winning.
That was the reason why Lt. Col. Anson was cursing the group refusing to face reality, the dumbass politicians that were still fanning the fire of nationalism.
The Londinium Protocol was mediated by the Kingdom, allowing the Empire and Federation to resolve their national border dispute by compromising and recognizing a common national boundary. It was officially named a temporary demilitarized zone, and was confirmed by the executive government of both nations as a de facto national border; but in order to appease the Federation who claimed this land as part of their nation, the treaty became a “temporary” protocol that “respects” the claims of both sides.
“They said this would just be a slightly tense hike!”
Putting it simply, the Federation was free to proclaim their right to this land within their country, but the international view was that this protocol was as good as recognizing this place as the Empire’s territory. No matter how loud the idealists in their country claim this to be an official conflict zone and that the Federation had rights to this land, it was just the whimpers of a loser in the eyes of the international community.
“They said this is just a hike! They dared say this is just a hike!”
Just a patrol by the Federation army within our own sovereign lands? This was not a joking matter. Those damn politicians seemed to have unwittingly convinced themselves their political slogan was fact. I really hope someone can tell me this is just a bad joke.
That government spokesman… Or rather, that bunch of wage thieves who kept broadcasting nonsensical political propaganda. They actually had the nerves to hold a press conference and announce this was just a “highly organized and tense hike.” A reckless judgement that was absolutely stunning.
“Cunningham! Where’s the remnants of our ally forces?”
“I can’t contact them, Colonel Suez. The radio network is chaotic and deteriorating, it’s difficult to grasp the situation…”
Their allied forces were in disarray. This was expected. After crossing the borders with the belief that there wouldn’t be a battle, they were ravaged by the full might of the Imperial army. No one could keep their cool in such a scenario. This foolish maneuver would probably be immortalized in the history books.
“What about the command post? Either the Forward Air Control (FAC) or Tactical Operation Center is fine. Can you contact the command post?”
“The network is jammed from crosstalk… Forget about command post, even the frequency channel is wrong.”
First Lieutenant Cunningham who was operating the long distance radio set on his back with a sour face was one of the top veterans in Anson’s unit. While flying in this familiar sky, they were stymied by crosstalk even a veteran couldn’t resolve. This meant the Federation’s military campaign was definitely launched carelessly. If this wasn’t happening to his own country, Anson would be confounded by the stupidity of it all.
“Launching a cross-border campaign without moving into full war-footing, this is unbelievable. This is definitely brinksmanship by the Federation government. If they weren’t sure that the Empire didn’t have the resolve to declare war, this would be an impossibly dangerous game.”
The words of the Empire’s army headquarter’s spokesperson he read in the newspaper two days ago told him everything. He mentioned that this was merely military activity to gauge the Empire’s reaction to the Federation’s brinksmanship. The comments of the spokesperson, who looked as if he had eaten some bitter gourd, were rational. After all, no one would dare launch a military campaign that might decide the fate of a nation without any preparation.
“Short-range comms are fine too. Just contact the ground forces directly. We will support our surviving forces in their retreat.”
It was hard to say if Anson’s wing was lucky or not. Due to a series of unofficial skirmishes near the borders, they were re-drawn to the rear to reorganize when the Federation crossed the border. With their effective strength reduced to squadron level, they were almost at the stage where they would need to return to the capital to reform the unit. As Lt. Col. Anson had participated in numerous battles without official records, he misread the situation… He thought by allowing his unit to retreat, this meant that the campaign was just political propaganda as usual and the government had no intention of going to war.
As a frontline unit and special forces of the Federation, Anson and his group was probably thinking of the most vicious way to describe the incompetence of the politicians. They already knew that their government was a coalition of morons, but they didn’t expect them to do something so hopeless and idiotic.
“Sorry, Dahton, can you try contacting our sister units? I want to grasp the situation as well as possible.”
And so, since they have lost all initiative, Anson could only do what he can to support the retreat of allied forces under heavy fire from a despairingly superior force. With the Forward Air Control uncontactable, they couldn’t rely on command support and the situation had turned into chaos. This unit was meant to ensure that the Mages and other air units could cooperate with the ground forces on a very basic level.
“If there is a need, we will link up with the rest of our wing. If the flights can’t rejoin their squadron, it is fine for them to form temporary squadrons.”
“Colonel, I got through!”
Snatching the communication set into his hand and a short conversation later, Anson understood that the situation below was a hopeless mess. Using a peacetime command structure for war was a mistake, and the price they paid was the total collapse of the chain of command. This was obvious to everyone.
“I got it. In short, we can’t regain command or fight a war. The only thing we can do is to minimize the suppression artillery strikes that are creating more chaos.”
That was why the situation had deteriorated so much that each unit had to act on their own instead of staging an organized resistance. Even if they could somehow contact ally forces, they couldn’t find units that could grasp the situation and take the necessary countermeasures.
“I understand. However, the defence of the artillery is probably very strong… How about targeting the artillery observer?
And so, based on the forces the Lt. Col. had on hand, the most effective means of support was to disrupt the bombardment indirectly by neutralizing the enemy artillery observers. That was the only conclusion they could come up with.
“Colonel Suez! Message from the 6th division. Both observer and signaller are still alive!”
“Excellent! Confirm with them whether they can locate the enemy observer now.”
But then, communication with a retreating allied unit that managed to maintain command turned things around.
“... Bingo! Telemetry received!”
Multiple Mage observers were flying alone without concealing their positions. Based on the periodic encrypted signals they sent, they must be making reports of their observations and was using special, encrypted frequencies.
“They are flying alone? They’re really looking down on us.”
“That might be so, but their defensive line is very strong.”
Anson knew that of course. An air defence network that was properly set up, with air units and Mages ready to intercept. Security was so tight, it could make a grown man cry. It was clear that the Empire only allowed their support units to fly alone because they judged their defence network to be sturdy enough.
“*Sigh* I really don’t want to rack my brains and fight the enemy normally. I would have fled with my family if I had known earlier.”
“Colonel Suez, those Empire fellows probably have the opposite reaction from us, and are tilting their heads from confusion. They must be wondering if it is alright to fight such an easy war.”
“Indeed, let us pray they have dropped their guard.”
Anson could only pray to the gods with bitter thoughts.
… Oh god, just what did we do wrong?
♦ ♦ ♦
Her assigned mission was important but boring. She just needed to carry the signal set and the full set of reconnaissance equipment to observe the bombardment. The processing of the telemetry was handled by the artillery units. Command was issued by the controller in Norden control tower.
And this was a battle they will definitely win, so she just needed to admire the laudable skills of the Empire’s artillery forces that rained down fragmentation and explosive shells repeatedly. The Empire was a military power that rose to prominence amongst the great powers recently. Supporting its renowned army was its relatively new equipment, and its orthodox pursuit of firepower.
The belief of the Empire was that “bayonets don’t lie, and neither do numbers.” That was why artillery was the 'God of battle' in the Empire. Even for Tanya, compared to the suspicious entity claiming to be god, the god of battle was a more reliable and absolute existence.
Even though our forces were doubtful of conflict, we still dutifully made preparations for war. Which means not only air superiority, but even the anti-Mage surveillance net was set up perfectly. Be it a spark of resistance or the flash of anti-air guns, you just need to tell on them to the god of battle, and it will incur a suppressing barrage from the artillery to pulverise them.
This job was safe and meaningful, and would earn good reviews. How she wished she could do this all the time. After all, this was a VIP seat to watch the process of friendly forces gradually obtaining victory. Comparatively speaking, the Fuji Combined Firepower Exercise was like kids playing with cute steel beads.
Watching the scene of the enemy being defeated from the safe sky, there was no way I would feel unhappy about it. Artillery till the land and then the infantry and armour push forth. The ones providing ground cover and direct air support are us, the Mages. Flying at high altitude were the hybrid fighter jets and bombers unit led the way as the advance party. The entire battle was developing even more smoothly than a training exercise. Cheers to headquarters for coming up with this beautiful battle plan. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to advance my career in such a safe and simple manner.
It is thoughtless of me, I have to apologize to General Lee who said, “it is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it,” because I feel that war is so much fun.
“Fairy08, this is Norden Control. Artillery is beginning ranging shots. Please report.”
“This is Fairy08, confirming shots are on target. Uploading data. Concluding that adjustment is not needed. I say again, no need to adjust. Fire for effect.”
The most amazing thing was how well the artillery was working with the data. To score a hit with just the ranging shots showed how well trained they were. Or rather, the Empire’s reputation of being a military superpower wasn’t just for show. Thanks to this, Tanya had an easy time working, which was great.
“Norden Control, acknowledged. Be careful of stray rounds. Bombardment will begin in two-zero-zero seconds. Over.”
“Fairy08, acknowledged. Out.”
Tanya increased her altitude slightly as she kept her distance and moved towards the west. She didn’t think the artillery strike would be off target, but she would be hit if there were any mistakes, and it would be a tragedy if she was done in by friendly fire. On top of that, a full bombardment attack had an amazing amount of shells. The artillery fired without hesitation, while Tanya watched with envy while biting her fingers. In order to work happily together, she must not inconvenience the other party.
The artillery began their bombardment, raining down a cruel amount of iron shells, far exceeding the amount shown in any of the war movies Tanya had seen. She looked down from the sky and saw black spots pouring onto the ground like stars of a galaxy, exploding into intense flames, and turning the objects known as humans into dust.
“Fairy08 to Norden Control. Confirmed shots on target, please continue firing.”
“Norden Control, sending warzone updates. AO (area of operation) Alpha… Zone bzzz… bzzz—”
“Norden Control, this is Fairy08, you are breaking up, heavy interference. Over.”
This might be electromagnetic interference or simply an equipment issue. This is a critical moment, spare me from that. When Tanya was about to contact the controller again to test the signal set on her back, she received an unexpected message.
“Cherub leader, emergency war zone alert! Saying again, emergency war zone alert! Confirmed a large number of bogeys approaching!”
A warning that was different from periodic radio checks, it was an alert about unidentified aircraft. The strange thing was that the Forward Air Control on the front line was issuing the warning to the war zone. In an engagement with enemy units, such alerts wouldn’t be given to the entire war zone unless the first defence line was broken. That was the hidden meaning behind the warning.
Was it powerful enemy reinforcements? But that’s how war is; nothing goes according to plan.
“... Norden Control to all airborne security forces. Switch ROE from border patrol to anti-guerilla attacks. Saying again, switch ROE from border patrol to anti-guerilla attack.”
When radio communications resumed, she received this sudden order to engage the enemy. This was obvious, since enemy aircraft was inbound, there was no choice but to engage. To prevent such incident from happening, the Empire not only set up a strong defence line in their forward position, they had also scrambled reserve units as their security forces.
“Large number of heat signatures detected from bogeys! Spell interference detected! Targets identified to be Bandits (Mages)! The enemy is opening fire! Please neutralize targets immediately!”
The last message gave Tanya an ominous feeling. This might be the enemies’ death throes, but the situation was rather dangerous.
“Norden Control to all stations. Saying again, Norden Control to all stations.”
It wasn’t obvious from the controller’s tone, but he had a hint of anxiety in his voice. He could read out the loss of allied aircraft calmly like a news reporter, so if even this guy was feeling anxious, the situation must be beyond dire.
“We have confirmed Mages on the scale of a wing crossing the border. Saying again, confirmed a Mage wing is breaching our defence lines.”
The Forward Air Controller read out the shocking situation update with a slightly troubled voice. Logically speaking, committing combat forces in batches was a taboo in military operations. Ensuring the reserve forces were utilized effectively was a crucial point in planning, but at the same time, commanders have to ensure they have enough reserve forces for tactical usage. The dilemma between these two issues date back to ancient times, but was also the most difficult problem to solve.
Going by common sense, sending infantry across the border without support and only throwing in units to cover their forces was inconceivable. Even Tanya didn’t expect the Federation to send in their reserves when the Empire was about to switch to the offensive and pursue the enemy forces. If they were going to commit units, by battle logic, they should have done so earlier. However, that was why the Empire didn’t expect this move.
“All units engage the enemy on contact! I say again, engage immediately!”
After routing the enemy, while they were adjusting the position and movement of the artillery, they were met with the counterattack by a wing of enemy Mages. The Empire army did think this might happen, but they had just concluded the enemy main forces had been destroyed.
Normally, if they wanted to support the withdrawal of their allies, they should have acted faster. The unexpected enemy reinforcement probably threw a wrench into the Empire’s front line. Tanya was just thinking she couldn’t accumulate merits which would affect her career advancement in her position. However, right now she was glad to be assigned to the back.
If she was in the airborne security force, she would need to intercept immediately; but as an artillery observer, she didn’t need to go over.
“... Bzzz… Bzzz—”
However, at the moment she was feeling lucky, Tanya’s signal with Norden Control tower was full of interference. He was reporting on the sudden change in situation just a moment ago. The radio signal was making static at such a critical juncture.
Considering the signals breaking up before that, there was a high chance the signal set was malfunctioning. Be it directing artillery fire or receiving updates from friendly forces, the radio set would be very important and this would likely be a malfunction with serious consequences. From what Tanya remembered, the signal set she was using was used extensively by her in all sorts of exercises. It was known for its ruggedness and shouldn’t be that fragile.
Maybe the problem only arise because it was a real battle, but not only would she be unable to report back on artillery fire, she would also be unable to complete her mission due to the mechanical error, which was unsettling. In the end, Tanya hadn’t the mood to be frustrated over her signal set glitching.
…A heat signature?— Tanya noticing that she was being sniped was pure coincidence. However, she trusted her instincts, changed her flight course and barely avoided the attack.
Right after that, she saw numerous spells exploding in her original path. It was an enemy Mage.
“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! Fairy08 to Norden Control! I say again, Fairy08 to Norden Control! Enemy contact, requesting immediate support!”
The interference was caused by the enemy, not the signal set acting up. To counter this, Tanya increased radio wave output to maximum and started yelling.
Amongst the remaining enemy forces, their Mages were the biggest threat. In terms of Mages, the Federation was late to adopt their use and had a limited number of them. However, to make up for this weakness, they focused on strengthening their quality. They were able to achieve this because of the backing of countries that opposed the Empire. Afterall, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Tanya and the Empire’s Mages let down their guard for this battle because the enemy Mage units were supposedly reorganizing in the rear lines. According to intelligence reports, the enemy elite Mages were rushing to Eliance that was further to the north. This led to the strategic miscalculation, assuming that enemy Mages were not present.
This counterattack caught the Empire off guard. No matter what, an enemy force that required the immediate notification of the command post appeared before Tanya. This was of grave importance, tactically and politically. Naturally, she reported in as per standard procedure, but she had no plans of fighting the enemy alone like a hero. Let those seeking death die, living on is the most important thing. The issue was how she could escape this crisis.
“Detected enemy Mage units, squadron size, approaching fast.”
Tanya prepared for aerial battle as she shouted at the signal set, her eyes capturing multiple figures flying at high speed. Disgustingly many of them.
“Coordinates, AO Alpha, zone 8, altitude 4300!”
She didn’t know about the enemy’s troubles or political motives, but they were full of fighting spirit. The way they were refusing to give in despite their forces’ imminent defeat as they charged ahead while screaming intensely was troubling. Being diligent enemy soldiers, they probably wasn’t bothered about causing trouble for us.
On the grand scale of things the Empire was still gradually winning. It was a war they would certainly win. And that was why the situation was dire. While the Empire was in the process of winning a total victory, if her unit was to be defeated, they would be the only blemish in this battle.
“The only ones to suffer a loss while everyone else wins.”
Tanya was afraid that this would leave a irrefutable taint on her records— She was afraid of being treated like an incompetent person unable to complete her task. If the possibility existed, the situation before her was frightening. She didn’t have the right to refuse if her superiors ordered her to engage.
She focused on reactive, evasive actions. Her smaller body could lessen the g-force slightly, but if she needed to dodge all the spells coming at her from all directions simultaneously, the burden would rise to another level.
From the amount of shots coming at her, it was at least one flight? No, it might be an elite detachment. Going by tactical theory, they were trying to restrain Tanya’s movement and then attack her. The objective of the enemy being tying up Tanya was obvious.
Their main strategic target was definitely her allied artillery batteries that were without air cover. The enemy squadron aimed to break through the defences and ravage the Empire’s support fire unit. Considering the strategic gains and risk involved, it was a profitable move. It was bad news no matter how Tanya sliced it.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the Empire was using mobile artillery, but most of the batteries needed to be towed. Even for the Empire, the burden of forming the armoured divisions, Mage units and air force was heavy, and it would be too much to convert completely into mobile artillery. For the slow and heavy towed artillery, the time for them to run or hide was too despairingly short.
They would need units to cover them directly, but to stop the attack of a Mage squadron, it would require a squadron of their own. Simply put, Tanya needed to stall for time before the cover unit arrives.
“Norden Control to Fairy08! Report the situation!”
Fortunately, our side started counter electronic warfare measures and communications returned to normal. But look, they came as expected. My instinct for detecting trouble is a hundred percent accurate. Is the intuition of a woman so accurate? Outward appearance aside, I have no plans of being a woman. What is this annoying feeling?
“This is Fairy08, engaging enemy. I say again, engaging enemy. Enemy squadron is infiltrating my airspace.”
“Norden Control roger. Proceed to engage and begin stalling tactics. Gather as much intelligence as possible.”
Ah, what did I say? This is the worst. Engage and collect intelligence? No, I have to stall the enemy before that? Harrass an entire squadron alone? In the open sky without any cover? If you are sending me to die, just tell me straight.
“Enemy forces greatly outnumber me, requesting reinforcements.”
“Norden Control acknowledged. Allied Mage flight has been scrambled. Airborne security squadron is also on your way, ETA (estimated time of arrival) 600 seconds.”
What did you say? That they’ll will take ten minutes? That’s enough time to warm up a quick meal, finish it, and dispose of the garbage. Come on, it’s impossible for me to stall them for ten minutes.
The most important thing is my life, and the only option is to run away. This is natural; I am not patriotic enough to fight a grand solo battle. But to avoid being branded as someone who flees before the enemy, I need a proper reason to do so. I will need a superior to judge that there is no strategic value in this airspace and order me to retreat.
“Fairy08 to Norden Control. Requesting permission to disengage immediately. I say again, requesting permission to disengage immediately.”
“Norden Control to Fairy08. Regrettably, permission denied. Please stall for time before friendly quick-reaction forces arrive on-site.”
Ah— damn jerk. Please serve divine retribution to the pogue who doomed me with his orders! I really want to shout in his face— “Why not trade places with me? If you want to give unreasonable commands, then demonstrate for me to see.”
“Fairy08 to Norden control. Please advise the situation of allied artillery unit.”
Complaints aside, I am still an adult. I understand the consequences if I act out because of my body’s physical age. It’s not too late to take revenge after I make it big. In order to take revenge in the future, I need to handle the present situation perfectly.
“Mage Tanya Degurechaff will do her duty even in the most dire of situations”— getting such a review is the only way to get out of this. Even if they court-martial me as a scapegoat, I can argue that I was aware of the danger by asking about the condition of the artillery behind me, and was doing all I could to resolve the crisis. I need to prepare my insurance first.
“A flight of airborne security is coming to cover the artillery, ETA 300 seconds. The seventh roving squadron is also coming to assist. As reported earlier, their ETA is 600 seconds.”
Ah, I see that this is the worst-case scenario. Please serve divine retribution to the jerk that caused this to happen!
Why are the enemy Mages heading for the artillery in the lines behind me instead of anywhere else? What is the frontline unit in charge of early warnings doing?
Why didn’t they detect a squadron pushing this deep into our territory? If they let their guard down because victory was assured, and shoved the responsibility onto me, how can I take it? If they want to attack the artillery, isn’t it fine to attack the zone next door? I won’t mind that at all. But why me?
That damn devil. Is he still cursing me? Great, I say. If this is the case, I’ll go all out too. Everyone wants me dead? I won’t go down alone. I’ve made up my mind. I will pull everyone down with me. Instead of dying alone, it’s better to make it huge and drag everyone alongside me. I won’t be able to bear it otherwise.
“Fairy08, roger. Norden Control, I will make it out alive, witness me!”
“Norden Control, acknowledged. Good luck.”
… I admit my shout was in frustration. Where is this luck you’re wishing me? Why the unnecessary words? The disgusting feeling welling up in my chest is making me frown.
My situation right now is like the Tokugawa army on the verge of complete victory in the battle of Sekigahara, when the Shimazu forces came out of nowhere. What I want to say is— “Don’t come here! Shoo, go the other way.” Tanya bit her lower lip as she cursed her own misfortune. Forget it, this is my fate after being manipulated by [existence X] and co. I was prepared for this in the end… Although I’ve already gathered my resolve, I still have to buy some time in the sky where the enemy has the upper hand...
Are there no child protection services here? I might not be cute on the inside, but my outward appearance is that of a kid. Instead of a kid, I am closer to a small child or toddler. Maybe the enemy would be hesitant to attack because of how I look, but it is difficult to expect such humanism on the battlefield.
Including the Holocaust, if you knew what happened in Sarajevo and Rwanda, it was easy to understand that believing blindly in human kindness is very dangerous. People will change into ‘devils’, and commit demonic acts easily. It might not be taught in civics and ethics classes, but that’s the kind of beings humans are.
Speaking of which, thinking that the existence of such devils committing inhuman acts meant a benevolent god must surely exist— such viewpoints from western culture are interesting too. But regrettably, I don’t think [existence X] is benevolent, so I’ll have to refute their views.
[“Is God dead?”]
There might be room for argument, but Nietzsche’s conclusion is correct. There is no God. Humanity has to save itself. In such a situation, that means conducting delaying defences.
What she had on hand was full military garb with light protection against bullets, observation equipment, and a standard Mk. 13 Operation Orb made by Folkerr factory. Her spell rifle that shot magical projectiles beyond the caster’s range of consciousness wasn’t with her, as this was an observation mission. It was also too heavy, and regrettably, this body couldn’t handle it.
Under such circumstances, what can I do in order to hinder the progress of the enemy? I know right from the get-go that I can only hope to target their weak points. And of course, I have no intention of dying needlessly. In the worst case scenario, I will even blow myself up. Instead of being picked off easily, I would rather take them with me. However, I really want to survive this.
Naturally, the main priority should be to live on, so no, it is better to run now. If I abandon the equipment for artillery support, I’ll be lightly geared. If the objective of the enemy is the artillery, I just need to focus on fleeing and can definitely pull a large distance away into a safe area. The problem is, I am confident about running away now, but not so sure of what happens next. Desertion before the enemy is punishable by death. The moment you desert in the face of the enemy, you will need to play an intense game of hide and seek with the military police forever. Even though I am alone without any wingman, I have no choice but to fight.
“... That means this is my personal battle?”
Fighting with the resolve to die in a battle where victory was assured. No, strictly speaking, the objective of the enemy wasn’t to neutralize me, but to relieve their allies’ withdrawal effort by attacking the artillery. To them, killing me was like swatting a fly nearby as an afterthought.
The threat of my elite life and career ending in such a casual way is humiliating. Looking down on others is my right, how can others do that to me? With no regards to the consequences, Tanya repeatedly injected herself with stimulants via doping spells. Her reaction speed and explosive strength was enhanced. She forced her magic power circuits open, and soothed the pain before it started with anesthesia in her brain. Ahhh, it feels good, my body is getting stimulated and becoming burning warm.
This must be what it means to feel high. Even if I get shot down, I won’t be tormented by any pain and could run away without a hitch.
“What an honour. So much fun... The greatest enjoyment. Hmmm, I’m so excited that I can’t help myself...”
By intentionally letting the command post hear me talking to myself, I’ll feel more at ease. There will at least be a witness to prove I am full of fighting spirit. Even though I am feeling so great and happy that the world seems to be spinning, I can still keep a clear mind and think. The brains of Mages are really excellent.
I can keep my mind from being corrupted by drugs and madness. That is why I can’t give up being a Mage. As for my job in the army, I want to give that up immediately, of course.
“I was just thinking what a boring job this was, to think I will be facing an army by myself as the spotlight of the battlefield.”
This means that I definitely can’t die in a place like this. Even though this world is unfair and depressing, that was because of the market failure. Since there was market failure, it needs to be optimized.
The most crucial part is the assets I actually have, so I need to increase the value of my assets. I will need a marketing strategy then. I need to promote myself as a product. Hold on to any chance to perform, and attack fiercely. That’s the gist of it.
Which means if I can utilize the opportunity I was given, my life would be very enjoyable.
“I thought this would be a battle that involved all elements of warfare, to think it would be a stage for me to shine.”
I wasn’t happy at all and I was the only one in this airspace. The worst-case situation where I can’t even sneak off. I am severely lacking in battle options. Others won’t see me no matter how pretentious I act, I just need to consider the viewpoint of my superior. When humans become desperate, they unexpectedly turn into actors.
“I really am grateful. Well, well… This is a good day to die.”
“Throw away the observation equipment. Right, let’s dance with the enemy Mages wearing heavy armour with ground-attack loadouts—” While Tanya hyped herself up with motivational thoughts, she started air combat maneuvers. In this most dire of situations she didn’t want to face, all she could do was give it her all. Most importantly, she has to survive this while fulfilling her obligations.
“I just need to show that I did my duty. Fight a few rounds, then use my acting skills to make it look like I have been beaten back, or shot down. I will leave the rest to the others. Those bastards who are insisting on coming over to attack our artillery even if it meant pushing themselves will probably not pursue me if I was to run—” Tanya thought in her heart.
The ideal scenario would be to lose my ability to fight even if I “want” to, and make an emergency landing near allied forces. If I successfully hindered the mission of these Federation maggots, that would be wonderful. Anyway, I need to waste their time. For enemies who are breaching our defensive lines, there was nothing more valuable than time. This might just be self-consolation, but I hope to let them learn about karma. This will definitely be a battle without winners...and if there is one, it will be me.
Although I hate hurting myself, I’m willing to do it even if my body will be covered in mud. But I don’t want to die. There is no reason why I have to die. Even if I have to drink muddy water, I must live on. Life itself is a battle, afterall.
♦ ♦ ♦
“... Colonel Suez! Enemy reinforcements! A squadron is approaching fast! There is also a flight of Mages coming from behind—they are probably the reserves!”
Oh God, why?
“The 16th Holershtan division covering the retreat has been overrun!”
Why is this happening?
“Major LaCampe’s wing has an emergency message for all assault units! They are engaged by a wing of Empire Mages and can’t keep the retreat route open for long.”
Why did my home nation chose this wrongful path?
“I get it! There’s no time—can’t we take out that artillery observer right now!?”
No matter how unyielding Lt. Col. Anson was, his forces were being shredded by artillery fire, and the situation was becoming worse with every second. He could see it as he flew through the sky. Even if Lt. Col. Anson was filled with rage and anxiety, screaming for the enemy's’ indirect fire to stop, the situation was not improving.
“Scored a grazing hit!”
Lt. Col. Anson sighed deeply; if his eyes had lasers, he would have burned the enemy Mage to crisp with his glare. Ahh, even though these are the northern skies I am so familiar with. Everything in the world today, even the sky he knew so well, filled him with rage.
“He’s taken an annoying position. To run above his friendly forces, such a troublesome bloke.”
They were pursuing a single enemy with large numbers. Even though the enemy was willing to do anything to survive, they couldn’t accuse him of being despicable. If Anson was a third party, the relentless chivalry of the enemy would prompt Anson to offer his highest respect...but they didn’t have time to be amazed by the enemy’s skill in battle.
Anson Suez could hear the nonstop shelling and see his fellow countrymen being turned into dust.
“...Those damn politicians!”
It was obvious who was responsible for this. The words he swore rang clear. He really wanted to dump those morons looking down on the Londinum Protocol and ignoring the contents of the treaty down there. Their idiotic actions had landed the entire nation into a crisis.
“Close quarter combat! Prepare to charge!”
“Colonel Suez! Let’s go for the secondary option and attack the artillery directly! The enemy Mage might have excellent mobility, but a flight would be enough to take him out!”
“We can’t, Lagarde, the enemy’s already sent reinforcements. We’ll be wiped out!”
For better or worse, Lt. Col. Suez’ unit was in too deep. If they had a bit more combat prowess, they might be able to forcefully attack the enemy battery. However, they had to split his forces to secure the Federation retreat route, so he only had slightly more than a flight in numbers right now.
“Cunningham, how much longer ‘til enemy reinforcements reach here?!”
“The closest unit is 480 seconds away! If we don’t hurry, they’ll be on our tail!”
While the Empire’s forces were on their way to intercept, Anson couldn’t see a way out in this gambit with his entire wing on the line. That was why he chose to do what he could with the forces he had on hand.
This was the stoic decision made by the Federation airman Lt. Col. Anson Suez, and was also the best choice he could make from the intelligence available to him. He was a soldier without romantic ideals. That’s why he concluded the enemy batteries must be defended heavily and gave up assaulting them directly.
This was the cruel reality for him. There was no cover above the artillery right now.
“Got it. Close quarters… Lagarde! You’re too careless!”
“Captain! Captain Lagarde!”
“Cunningham, cover him! Lagarde, can you fly? Lagarde!”
Captain Lagarde who was growing frustrated with the situation charged the enemy Mage with a shout. His allies couldn’t react in time, resulting in a lag in their covering fire. The instant they stopped firing because of their fear of hitting Captain Lagarde with friendly fire, the enemy cast a spell. Lagarde, who thought his allies would cover him with suppressing fire, wanted to change course at the last moment but was too close to his opponent.
“Ugh, damn bastard! Support him, now!”
Not just a shock wave, it was as good as a direct hit. Just changing his course didn’t help at all. His shield was downed and his armour breached. However, Lagarde made the snap judgement of covering his face with his arms which saved his life, a blessing from god.
“—Break off! That bastard did that on purpose! Thor?!”
Superiority in numbers. Concentrated fire. But paying the price of allowing the enemy Mage to regain his freedom after their suppression fire was too high.
“Two down, Captain Lagarde is seriously injured.”
Lagarde, whose arms were roasted, was losing altitude as he slipped out of consciousness. Captain Lagarde’s wingman, 1st Lieutenant Thor, got into the line of fire in an attempt to protect him, was caught by the blast from close range, and in no shape to fight.
“Tch, he played us like a fiddle. Colonel, I am going in, cover me!”
“Ah, damn it, cover him!”
“I’m taking your arms!”
At that moment, he heard this clearly in his ears:
“I caught you.”
This was an elated voice. The laughter of a maniac.
“No, Valt! Fall back, he’s gonna…”
Just as he was about to give a warning, the Imperial Mage cast his own spell the next instant, pulling the charging Lagarde and himself into the magic’s effective range.
“A suicide bomber…”
It wasn’t a scene he wanted to understand, but he still saw it clearly.
“Colonel, that’s the time limit! They’re almost on us!”
“...We have downed the observer! Everyone pull out!”
♦ ♦ ♦
Unified Calendar Year 1923 Imperial Capital Belun Imperial Army Headquarters, Manpower Department Branch, Head Office.
Massaging his aching head as he smoked from being too focused, Major Lehrgenin charge of the Imperial army manpower affairs, tensed his intelligent face. He had the airs of a noble, but right now, he couldn’t help but moan stiffly.
The Headquarters Manpower Merit Investigation Branch: the frontline accomplishments of soldiers were scrutinized here before forwarding adequate applications for rewards or medals. In short, this was the unit responsible for personnel appraisal, the heart of the Imperial manpower department. Officers who were assigned here as part of their job rotation in staff headquarters would be candidates as generals in the future, and honing their skills in identifying talent was a tradition.
His capability was guaranteed. Even after the fierce battle in the north when the Manpower Department was flooded with huge amount of award recommendations, Major Lehrgen, as the Merit Investigation Branch head, still managed to handle these documents in a timely manner. It was proof that his superiors that had assigned him here were right about him.
And just like that, Major Lehrgen suddenly stopped writing, stared at the award application and sighed. This made his subordinates look at him worriedly, as it was only natural for them to wonder, “what happened?”
“... So that girl is in Norden.”
Major Lehrgen muttered with tobacco smoke blowing out of his mouth, showing his disgust for this document.
The subject being recommended was Mage 2nd Lieutenant, Tanya Degurechaff. She had ranked 2nd in her graduating class, and was dragged into the Norden incident when she went to the north for her training exercise. She fought hard in the northern army and earned commendations, made great contributions to the her fellow units, and received a combined recommendation application from the local command. For the Manpower Merit Investigation Branch, such documents were the norm. At most, it was just a bit rare to see her nickname being included.
Of course, in the fair and objective eyes of the Manpower Branch members, they held high regards for 2nd Lieutenant Degurechaff for her self-sacrificial maneuver for the sake of the larger tactical picture. Performing delaying tactics to the extreme, she hindered the enemy’s movement greatly. Even though she didn’t manage to hold them off until reinforcements arrived, she still managed to shoot one down and heavily damage two. It was a great result, and she prevented the enemy from breaching her line of defence in the end. Although she was literally covered in wounds, she didn’t stop providing support to her fellow units. Such praiseworthy, selfless actions was a rare find — even in the vast Empire military.
Normally, Major Lehrgen wouldn’t need to hesitate after receiving such a report. At the most, he would add some notes to hasten the process. Unfortunately, Major Lehrgen knew about 2nd Lieutenant Degurechaff when she was just a Phase One cadet in OCS. She even left a good impression on him.
This was one of the few times he visited OCS for his manpower branch duties.
What he saw then was a short, or rather, a cute, small child who was at an age where she should be playing with toys. The surreal scene of her wielding a Operation Orb in place of a toy while kicking and shouting at the cadets who were sitting down. This was the only incident that made Lehrgen doubt his own eyes.
Logically speaking, he just needed to assume the small girl was an excellent Mage who skipped grades. In fact, his first impression of her was that she was the mature Wunderkind who was famous around here.
Despite the conscience in his heart telling him that sending a child less than ten years old into the front line was inhumane, his experience in the army refuted this point strongly, and he knew that Mages matured early. This was an era where boys and girls in grade school with sorcery talents would be sent to the frontlines if they were to volunteer for enlistment. For the volunteers studying in OCS, there was no need to worry about her assignment. That should be the case normally. That was, if normalcy actually applied.
Thinking back carefully, that was a horrible incident.
A girl less than ten years of age— a young child flying in the battlefield with the expression of a veteran… just this was enough to give him goosebumps. He had no intention of blaming OCS, but he still wanted to question them whether they were grooming Mages, or creating killer dolls.
In most cases, what a cadet would say and what they would do were two different matters. No matter how much they could boast, newly commissioned officers were as useless as expected. They were full of drive, but most would consider it a blessing if they didn’t hold the veterans back. However Tanya was a special case of saying what she exactly meant to do. Since her days as a cadet, she had displayed shocking pragmatism.
When Lehrgen asked the instructors how she was doing in school, they told him that when she was explaining the guidelines as a Phase One cadet to Phase Two cadets, she declared that she would purge the incompetent from the military. For the spirited Phase One cadets, such shouts were nothing surprising; even the instructors laughed when they heard that, thinking she was really driven. However, her actions matched her words so closely it made the instructors turn green.
During a certain field maneuver exercise, a Phase Two cadet who caused some minute disturbance not only ignored Phase One cadet Tanya Degurechaff’s orders, he even mocked her age and appearance. His actions were nothing short of foolish. At this moment, Major Lehrgen witnessed her will to carry out her duty as a commander, as she prepared to execute the offender according to military law.
For Major Lehrgen, this was the incident that made him remember the dangerous existence of Tanya Degurechaff, out of all the Mage officers in the Empire.
It was true that the cadet who disobeyed orders needed to be disciplined harshly. Discipline and training were the foundation of the Empire; these principles on which the army was built on would collapse if there was any lapses. Since this was a fundamental problem, the resolute attitude of the commander was correct.
Truthfully speaking and considering historical facts, an officer’s pistol was a tool to execute deserters and soldiers falling out of line. The obligation of the officers in commanding their subordinates was that important; there was no need to explain further.
However—shouting “Since this blockhead forgets my orders, I will have to split his skull open and jam them directly into his brain!” and then proceeding to tie the cadet up while deploying her magic knife — that was too much. When the instructors intervened, she was seriously about to slash him, Lehrgen saw this with his own eyes. If no one had stopped her, she definitely would have slashed him.
She would be an excellent officer in the front lines. However, she lacked the sense of a normal person. As a human, she lacked something important... This might be an ideal quality for soldiers fighting in the battlefield. There were few whose personality suited war so well. Including the Empire, all armies could only mold their combat personnel through discipline and training to ensure they have the right mentality.
Looking at it this way, she was a great talent. As his job was human resources, Major Lehrgen might have hated it, but he could understand it very well. To initiate suicide bombing tactics and carry out missions faithfully was the ideal soldier for the army. And of course, there were some parts that was obviously detrimental.
Especially her pursuit of unfailing combat readiness; she was completely off track from the spirit of the ideology. If she was given the freedom to act autonomously, her overly dangerous thought process might be a hidden problem. She was a true battle fanatic.
“...This is not a joke.”
For this incident, because Lehrgen knew he was in the minority, he sincerely hoped his superior would reconsider this commendation.
She insisted on fighting until reinforcement arrives, fought fearlessly, and in the end, she barely survived after being picked up by allied infantry that were searching the vicinity. Of course she deserved praise, but considering the nature of that person, this was to be expected. Even the way she fought was brilliant, and comparing her techniques to that of textbooks were not a stretch. Her four limbs had gun wounds over a wide area—even her Operation Orb had marks of being bitten by her teeth? Simply put, she had guarded her vitals carefully and resisted as much as she could, while making calm tactical judgements to buy more time.
And that was the reason why Major Lehrgen could only hug his head in angst after reading the report.
It was true that she was dangerous. However, from the viewpoint of fair punishment and reward, such outstanding accomplishment could not be downplayed. It was probably not allowed to be downplayed.
It wasn’t clear what developments the future would hold, but from the merits of her recommendations, she would probably be honored with the Silver Wings Assault medal. The northern army would probably conclude her actions to be the most commendable in this first battle. Relatively speaking, it was the biggest crisis during the whole operation. On top of that, the merit was earned by a Mage from OCS, the perfect exhibition for the armed forces wanting to motivate the fighting spirit of the troops. It was an achievement in a real battle after all, a perfect story for propaganda. Bestowing her with the beautiful name of, “mithril,” an honourable nickname for a Mage so soon, was due of the hyped-up atmosphere within the military. Lehrgen noticed this right away.
To raise troop morale, they have to give due rewards for her efforts, even if she wasn’t a hero. However as a staff officer, the soldier Lehrgen that took pride in fairness and loyalty, for the first time his obligations and emotions ran contrary to each other.
This completely weaponized child would only induce fear in others. He had to do something to ensure she only focused her attention on the enemy. I will make you a hero and respect your battle merits. I will do my best to grant you autonomy. I will try to give you all support available, and the preparations for you to fight. I will do all that, so please, obediently fight at the front lines. Is it alright to give a soldier I can only control with pleas such fame and influence?
“... At least, if I can push it one grade lower…”
A soldier with the Silver Wings Assault medal had a lot of influence and say in the military. It was enough for Major Lehrgen to grumble unconsciously.
Amongst the many medals of the Empire, the Silver Wings Assault medal was the most valuable of them all. There were many medals in the Empire that honour exemplary personal merits, but for the convenience of reputation and ceremony, there were also medals awarded for a certain number of years of service and efforts. But realistically speaking, those who contributed significantly to the nation and was given medals for valour and duty were deemed more valuable. (This part was probably a reflection of the Empire’s plain and resolute culture, but it might also encompass nationalism in some sense.)
In the past, people formed laurels into a crown to honour the personal valour of individuals. However, with the modernization of the army, all commendations has been replaced by the presentation of medals. Infantry Assault medals were bestowed onto soldiers who engaged the enemy courageously and fearlessly, honouring their display of valor on the battlefield. The vanguard units on a large scale offensive would normally receive Infantry Assault medals, with soldiers who earned battle merits receiving Infantry Assault medals with Oak Leaves
The ones awarded with Oak Leaves would become a core member of their unit and be trusted unconditionally. However, even the bearer of Infantry Assault medals with Oak Leaves couldn’t match those with Silver Wings Assault medals. Only for those who save allied forces from a crisis, an honour reserved for these archangel-like saviours. Even the requirement for the award was different from normal Assault medals
The Silver Wings Assault medal was not recommended by the commanding officers. Normally, it was the commanding officer of the unit that was saved who submitted the recommendation because of their overflowing respect for their comrade-in-arms. (This mostly referred to the most senior commander of the aided units.)
Beyond these requirements, the aspect most medal bearers had in common was that they were dead. That was how high the bar was set, only those who brave such dangers and fought heroically were awarded with this medal.
Can one man save a unit against such impossible odds? How extreme were their means? Was it possible to do so by normal methods? Without needing to answer, one would understand just by browsing the memorial photos of the Silver Wings Assault medal awardees. In them, most of the medals were placed on the cap hanging on the awardees’ rifle. It was stated officially that only Silver Wings Assault medal awardees may use their rifle and caps to receive the medal on their behalf, which was telling of the condition of most recipients.
Hence, regardless of the recipient’s rank, they were worthy of a salute from all officers and men in the Empire; that’s how honourable the medal was.
Admit it. Frankly speaking, when he thought about what that person would do if given the authority and power, Lehrgen couldn’t help feeling afraid.
That was how abnormal she was. He thought at first the overzealous Fatherland Recruitment Department had rather suspiciously found an exceedingly capable gem of a soldier. . He even suspected she underwent an extreme patriotic education, so Lehrgen asked a friend in the Intel Department to investigate her background in the orphanage. However, she turned out to be clean. Her origin was an average orphanage run by employees who could still be considered kind-hearted, one that could be found anywhere. The only thing of note was that they received adequate donations, so the nutrition of the orphans was at the normal level.
This meant 2nd Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff’s fanaticism for the military and thirst for battle had nothing to do with being starved or being abused violently. Out of curiosity, Lehrgen dug up her school entry assessment records, and she…that monster wearing the skin of a young child… answered like this:
“I don’t have any other choice.”
Filled with patriotism and the will to contribute to the nation, a soldier so ideal and talented, with the determination to train herself without rest. These were all commendable attributes. Just one of this attributes would be enough to make Lehrgen, the soldier in charge of the Empire’s Human Resources happy.
If someone displays these qualities, we would be overjoyed. We would think that these are the talents the army needed. And right now, the person who was a manifestation of all these qualities was right before him. The ironic thing was that Major Lehrgen realized the fact that the ideal talent the Empire was looking for would be a pure monster, which made him afraid.
He wasn’t sure what she meant by, “no other choice.” If he needed to come up with a logical hypothesis, maybe she thought joining the military was the only way her urge to kill could be justified by society? Who could say for sure that her nature wasn’t that of a psychopath, and the only career that fit with her hobby was enlisting in the army?
Who could guarantee that she wasn’t a dangerous person who would go on a killing spree when she saw dripping fresh blood? Her every move might be that of an ideal soldier, but looking at the full picture, she was either insane or psychotic.
Of course, Lehrgen understood she was someone who would start a war without batting an eye. Those who could instigate a war were either a true lunatic or someone whose mind had legitimately snapped. Going by his experience, Lehrgen could understand incidents to such a degree. However, if this girl was enjoying the war, what should he make of it?
He once heard that for killers, imagination and reality were just a type of aesthetics for them. This meant mass murderers couldn’t differentiate between their imagination and actions. Back then, he laughed it off, thinking this was a weird view, but he finally understood. No matter how unwilling he was, he still understood. No matter how nicely he put it, she was still an abnormality, an existence that was different from “us.”
She was probably what was known as a hero. In other words, she was different from normal people in some ways. It wasn’t wrong to honour heroes, but he wouldn’t ask students to follow in the footsteps of heroes. He couldn’t teach them that. OCS was a place to nurture talents, not a place to create madmen.
On the same day, Empire Headquarters War Room
Headquarters had decided to award a medal to a certain Mage officer. It was a rare occasion to award the Silver Wing Assault medal to someone that wasn’t a corpse, and a nickname would also be bestowed with exceptional speed in this grand ceremony. However, in a corner of Central Headquarters, undisturbed by the rowdy awards ceremony formations, a place guarded tightly by security and entry was granted to authorized personnel only, Headquarters’ first (strategic) war room, an intense and heated discussion was ongoing.
To be precise, it was the strong objections of two brigadier generals.
“I absolutely oppose this! The merits of committing our forces this way is not worth the risk of losing our capability to react to new threats quickly!”
The soldier in his prime years stood up and expressed his vehement objection with a shout. His pale blue eyes were filled with confidence, a gaze that would never back down. Those who saw them would understand those were eyes that always focused on reality. A capable man wrought from confidence and talent, Brigadier General Rudelsdorf was held in such high regards by Headquarters, put his talent and honour behind as he leaned over the conference table and shouted.
“We only need to dispatch the units already on site to pursue them! By preserving our strategic flexibility, and to pressure them step by step, that’s all!”
What he meant to say was that their strategic flexibility shouldn’t be compromised.
“I have to express my dissent as well. We have already destroyed the invading forces and have no need of doing anything else through war. Our national defence objectives have already been met.”
Siding with maintaining strategic flexibility, Brigadier General Zettois with a mature demeanour and scholarly appearance calmly joined the dissenting ranks, speaking like a mathematician reporting his findings.
“The points of the Brigadiers are valid… Lieutenant General Louis, may I have your opinion?”
The Emperor’s Aide-de-camp, Marchese, who was chairing the meeting felt that the opinions of the two Brigadiers were logical and irrefutable. However, the cunning Chief of Staff already had a way of ignoring those with opposing views.
That doesn’t mean Marchese wasn’t worried at all. Considering the fact that the recommendation of Headquarters would be influential to the decision of the Commander-in-chief, it was necessary to dig deeper. Hence, by letting the other side express their views, he wanted to push Chief of Staff Louis, who was the main champion of the view to launch an offensive campaign, to state his stance.
“Being cautious is good, but the neighbouring countries are showing no signs of mobilizing their forces. Under such circumstances, we’ll be able to launch a major offensive without being restrained by other factors— wouldn’t this be a great opportunity?”
The Chief of Staff stood up and answered with a troubled face. He had high expectations for these two subordinates, and their betrayal caused him to make a confused expression. There was also anger in his face, allowing others to see his turbulent emotions.
“General, sir! At the very least, please limit the mobilized units! If we deploy our entire force, Plan 315 will fall apart!”
Brigadier General Rudelsdorf raised a simple objection based on the geopolitical situation of the Empire. The Empire was one of the Great Powers, and as well, the only nation surrounded by many other great powers. Due to that, its national defence strategy had to consider the dire possibilities of fighting wars on multiple fronts. The inherent fear that they could only rely on quality to fend off their enemies on two fronts, and their geographical location necessitates a strong army. Such was the historical background behind their rise as a military powerhouse
“I don’t intend to borrow Brigadier Rudelsdorf’s words; I personally think that we shouldn’t compromise our national defence policy of Plan 315.”
Being surrounded by potential enemies on all sides, the only strategy the Empire could adopt was a defensive strategy focusing on the efficient deployment of their entire armed forces. It was a delicate defence policy which committed troops superior in quality and quantity to neutralize one of the invading armies before engaging the other invaders. The national defence policy of the Empire was “Plan 315.” Its goal was to forcefully maintain a war on two fronts —even the timetable of rail stations were carefully planned—a piece of art that was the prize of the Empire. Simply put, it would require a lot of time to rebuild the system if it was to crumble.
“Zettois, committing forces in waves is a military taboo. I don’t think you need me to remind you.”
“Sir, I also understand the foolishness in sending troops piece by piece. However, with the invading army destroyed, I question the necessity of pushing our main force out.”
On the other hand, what Chief of Staff Louis had said makes sense. With the Ildoa Kingdom, the Francois Republic, and the Lewshille Federation showing no signs of amassing their armies, the stage for the complete annihilation of the Federation had been set. If they were going to do so, they had to go all out.
However, on the topic of invading the enemy nation, Brigadier General Zettois’s rationale that the army had already scored a grand victory and need not do more clashed with the opinion of Chief of Staff Louis.
“I agree with Brigadier Zettois. Our army is victorious, the focus right now should be how we should capitalize on this! Mobilizing our forces without clear directions would make our strategic objectives too ambiguous. I can’t imagine how this would benefit our nation.”
He didn’t touch on the necessity of accomplishing more; his doubt was based simply on how to maximize this victory after understanding the overview of the war. Brigadier Rudelsdorf’s words might have had a different focus, but it echoed the worries of making moves that would shake the foundation of the national defence policy without any contingency plans.
“Rudelsdorf, since the Commander-in-Chief has yet to set his policies, the only thing Headquarters could do was to score a larger victory.”
“General, sir, actions without clear strategic goals are unthinkable. Large scale campaigns that are not carefully planned could possibly harm our national defence strategy. Allow me to state my strong objection.”
Zettois expressed his agreement with a bitter face.
“How could we let such a great opportunity slip away!? Our army has resolved the Norden territory dispute in this battle! We can even solve the Empire’s geopolitical troubles!”
There were good reasons for some of the attendees to shout. They all bore hope for a wonderful future, thinking this was a good chance for the Empire to settle the very real problem that the Empire might be attacked by her enemy from all sides at any time. If they could vanquish the Federation, that would be one less potential threat to the Empire. An opportunity for the Empire to resolve its geopolitical issues that plagued it over these long years.
“Objection! This is not something that must be done at the cost of disrupting our defence plans!”
The core of the problem was just like the point Brigadier Rudelsdorf made: whether the army should secure a safe future at the cost of unsettling their current defensive strategy.
“The objective of the Empire is national security. Since the borders had already been decided through the Londinum Protocol, this is practically an non-issue.”
But even Brigadier General Zettois made a brave remark that was as good as saying, “Threats at the level of the Federation could just be ignored.” In other words, he didn’t want to waste time on the issue of the Londinum Protocol.
“We need not enter the enemy’s stage! We just need to fight in our own! Are we going to risk all the preparations we’ve done because of this?!”
The most important point was just what Brigadier General Rudelsdorf had been voicing passionately to the group. This was an issue that concerned the very foundation of the Empire’s national defence.
“Plan 315,” which had been refined by Headquarters all these years, the only national defence strategy the Empire could adopt because of its geopolitical position. Even though the Empire was constantly attacked by other nations, they could counterattack smoothly with their defensive strategy, forced unto them because they were surrounded by potential enemies. The fact was, the Empire couldn’t think of any other plan that was more reliable.
“And you want us to let go of this great opportunity to break the situation of being surrounded by enemies?”
“If we could weaken the Federation’s forces, we would be able to focus more on the east. Even for the west, we would have an easier time building a defence line against Albion-Francois.”
However, there were still people expressing their opposition. For their fatherland stuck in a tight spot, this was a good chance to be liberated from the chains binding them. The majority of the staff showed their determination that couldn’t be stopped—if they acted now, they could solve the military conundrum that had been troubling the Empire since its foundation.
“It’s fortunate that the great nations are showing no signs of mobilizing their forces. I believe if we act now, we can cut off the roots of the problem once and for all.”
They didn’t realize this judgement was a mistake. At least for now.
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Feet, unit to measure distance.
ROE (Rule of Engagement), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rules_of_engagement
Rules of Engagement (ROE) are rules or directives to military forces(including individuals) that define the circumstances, conditions, degree, and manner in which the use of force, or actions which might be construed as provocative, may be applied.
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercontinental_ballistic_missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a guided ballistic missile with a minimum range of more than 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi) primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery.
Artillery Observer, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artillery_observer
A military artillery observer is responsible for directing artillery and mortar fire onto a target.
Throat Microphone, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Throat_microphone
A throat microphone, is a type of contact microphone that absorbs vibrations directly from the wearer's throat by way of single or dual sensors worn against the neck. During World War II German Luftwaffe pilots and panzer crews used the first throat microphones.
Telemetry, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TelemetryTelemetry is an automated communications process by which measurements are made and other data collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring
Brinkmanship is the practice of trying to achieve an advantageous outcome by pushing dangerous events to the brink of active conflict. It occurs in international politics, foreign policy, labour relations, and (in contemporary settings) military strategy involving the threat of nuclear weapons, and high-stakes litigation.
Londinum Protocol, based on London Protocol, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Protocol
On 21 June 1814, a secret convention between the Great Powers: United Kingdom, Prussia, Austria, and Russia awarded the territory of current Belgium and the Netherlands to William I of the Netherlands, then "Sovereign Prince" of the United Netherlands.
Fuji Combined Firepower Exercise, google.com/search?q=fuji+combined+military+exercise
Exhibition of the military prowess of the Japan Self Defence Force performed near in Japan, Fuji.
Targets that are very vulnerability to artillery, such as trucks, infantry in the open and light buildings..
Degrade enemy unit and put them permanently out of action (rule of thumb: inflict up to 50% losses)
g-force (with g from gravitational) is a measurement of the type of acceleration that causes weight. This notation is commonly used in aviation, especially in acrobatic or combat military aviation, to describe the increased forces that must be overcome by pilots in order to remain conscious.
In electronics, crosstalk is any phenomenon by which a signal transmitted on one circuit or channel of a transmission system creates an undesired effect in another circuit or channel. Crosstalk is usually caused by undesired capacitive, inductive, or conductive coupling from one circuit, part of a circuit, or channel, to another.
The condition or status of a military force or other organization when operating under a state of war or as if a state of war existed.
In most Commonwealth air forces, as well as some others, a wing is usually made up of three or four squadrons.
A flight is a military unit in an air force, naval air service, or army aircorps. It usually comprises three to six aircraft.
A squadron in air force, army aviation, or naval aviation is mainly a unit comprising a number of military aircraft and their aircrews, usually of the same type, typically with 12 to 24 aircraft, sometimes divided into three or four flights, depending on aircraft type and air force.
Pogue is pejorative military slang for non-combat, staff, and other rear-echelon or support units. "Pogue" frequently includes those who don't have to undergo the stresses that the infantry does.
Mobile Artillery, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-propelled_artillery
Mobile artillery is artillery equipped with its own propulsion system to move towards its target.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, composer, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound and lasting influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.
Indirect Fire, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indirect_fire
Indirect fire is aiming and firing a projectile without relying on a direct line of sight between the gun and its target, as in the case of direct fire. Aiming is performed by calculating azimuth and elevation angles, and may include correcting aim by observing the fall of shot and calculating new angles.
Phase One cadet,
The final school term for OCS, cadets start out from phase four.
In Japan, the aide-de-camp to the Emperor (侍従武官 jiju bukan?) is a special military official whose primary duties are to report military affairs to the Emperor and act as a close attendant (chamberlain). From 1896 through to 1945, a small number of army and naval aides-de-camp were supplied to the Emperor due to his increased status and the risks to him during wartime.