Translators: Skythewood, SifaV6
Raw provided by: swiss Momo
Imperial War College Selection Review Conference
“It is time, we will now begin the third round of review of the Imperial War College Selection Conference.” The session chair was a professor from the War College. The attending officials were all exceptional talents that could literally be considered as the pillars which supported the Imperial military. In regards to the selection of talents who will later be shouldering the weight and responsibilities for the previous generation, the Empire was never hesitant in committing as much manpower and time necessary. The result was the birth of numerous excellent and capable commanders across all levels within the military command structure. “The topic for today would be the review of the candidates that have been nominated by the selection committee.” It was precisely because of this that the selection of War College candidates had often been regarded as one of the key topics for discussion along with that of national policy and defence strategies. Hence, they would take into consideration the all sorts of possible factors during the selection process, not sparing any effort to unearth the most suitable talent. The military acknowledges the wide array of skills and attributes of their personnel, and as such, they were willing to hold a second or third round of review with different panels of judges even for the candidates that had previously failed. They believe that eliminating an exceptionally talented officer during a single round of selection would be a huge loss to the Empire. And the history of the Empire proved that this method of philosophy was correct. It was thanks to this that many of the highly decorated officers within the Imperial army and navy were able to climb to their current position today. Even General Moltke, who was highly favored by one of the committee judges which had proclaimed that his greatest accomplishment in his military career was the ‘selection of the great Moltke’, had previously received harsh criticisms from other members of the panel stating that ‘this candidate is not fit to be a soldier’, and was unable to pass the selection process until the third round of reviews. “As usual, I hope that everyone can provide inputs based on their respective backgrounds regardless of whether they are from the frontlines, the General Staff Office or the War College, and have a lively discussion.” According to the tradition of the Imperial War College, it was not important which round the personnel was selected. Recent examples would be the outstanding officers such as Zettois and Rudelsdorf, who were both selected in the second round. The former was deemed as ‘having a personality that was too academically inclined, thus not suitable to become a general’, while the latter was criticized to be ‘quick witted and full of drive, but has the tendency of being delusional’. They were only selected on the subsequent round of review. However, the two of them were now widely regarded as pillars that will soon be shouldering the weight which will determine the future of the Empire. Thus, they were qualified to take part in the selection panel. It was because of cases like this, there was a saying that those who were able to pass the selection process on the first round won’t ever amount to anything. Therefore, in order to keep dogmatism to a minimal, they were willing to even do the reverse and disqualify those who had actually qualified, and chose to confirm them in the second and third round of reviews instead. This made it clear just how thorough the Empire was in conducting the selection process. “First of all, we will begin with the suggestion provided by Major Lehrgen from the Bureau of Human Resources for the re-examination of a candidate on the first round of the selection process.” Even for the Empire who took things this far, it was unusual for them to suddenly re-examine a candidate that had already passed, and to deliberate whether or not the outcome should have been different. That was why— All those in attendance showed an expression of surprise, and directed their baffled gaze towards the War College Professor who was chairing the conference. Requesting for the re-examination of a candidate that had passed the first two rounds of selection without any problem, just what was the purpose behind this? Even the War College professor who was chairing the session probably didn’t understand. “The subject of this review received the highest of evaluation in the first selection round, which was done anonymously to ensure fairness.” An anonymous evaluation was conducted for the first selection round where documents containing the personal information of the candidates were redacted, and the examination process was done by multiple judges. The judges were only able to see the actual accomplishments of each candidate, as well as the evaluations given by the Training and Intel Department. Through this process, favouritism and bias were eliminated, making the judgement fairer. Only after the judging was completed, would the personal information be disclosed, and the candidate would then proceed along the path towards becoming an elite officer in the military. The entire scrutinization process was strictly performed and in fairness. And thus receiving the highest evaluation at this stage meant that the military did not discover any flaw in the candidate’s career so far. “Regardless, the HR Section Chief from the General Staff Office had expressed his objection, and had put forward a request for a re-examination. This review conference is held partly on his request.” The professor was hinting that he couldn’t fathom why Lehrgen had requested for a re-examination. In actual fact, if this wasn’t proposed by the Section Chief from the Bureau of Human Resources within the General Staff Office, who was able to scrutinize more of the information regarding the candidate in detail, the request for a re-examination most likely would not have been approved. Even if there were any issues with the candidates that have made it through the selection process in the past, the problem normally lies with them being too mediocre. That was why even the professor who was chairing the conference was baffled. During the anonymous evaluation phase, very few officers receive great scores. Not to mention that the candidate in discussion this time had an overwhelming score, so essentially, Major Lehrgen was questioning the eligibility of the top candidate. If the candidate was a child of an influential officer in the military or related to nobles, questioning the fairness of the selection would make more sense. This belonged to the minority, but there were definitely cases where favoritism played a part. But for this case, the candidate was an orphan of a soldier, and of course, there weren’t any influential relatives involved. The one who made the recommendation was unrelated to the candidate, and there were no ties to any noble factions either. Not just that, the recommendation was made by a veteran officer who was known for honesty. An officer with actual combat merits, and didn’t have any disciplinary records. Rejecting an officer with such outstanding records, who rose all the way by her own capability was unimaginable for the tradition of the military. Hence, everyone in attendance had casted a look of doubt towards the HR Section Chief Major Lehrgen. “Section chief Lehrgen, I would like to know the basis behind your judgement. From the records, I think she is an excellent candidate.” Although his tone was a lighthearted, Brigadier General Rudelsdorf’s had asked the question that was on everyone’s mind. What was the reason? “Judging from the recommendation provided by the local unit, the results from OCS (Officer Cadet School), background investigation done by the Intelligence Bureau, investigative report done by the Military Police, and along with her war merits, this officer had showed an outstanding performance. Just where does the problem lie?” Meritorious recommendations are typically used as a means to select officers with exceptional abilities. Officers in their prime and those who were still young would often be selected, sending the best possible talents to the best places, in hope of the benefit it would bring in the future. The recommendation provided by the local unit was unreserved in giving the candidate their praises. Considering the results from OCS, although the candidate’s combat technique was a little lacking, her combat experience was still top notch. Based solely on adaptability, she was a talent that fully deserved to be the top candidate during the selection. In fact, the assessment score was nearly perfect. Aside from this, even the usually naggy Intelligence Bureau and the Military Police had nothing but praises for her, which couldn’t help but make one wonder just how many similar cases had occurred in the past. “Hmm, how should I put this… This is a highly anticipated candidate in recent years. I believe this is the common consensus of the majority of us present.” In other words, questioning the selection of such an impressive candidate was hard to fathom, even for Brigadier General Rudelsdorf, who had a difficult personality. If the re-examination proposal wasn’t made by the elite of the elites from the Bureau of Human Resources within the General Staff Office, the Section Chief who was known to not tolerate any mistakes, everyone would think that this was a joke and curse him out. “That is true, the subject’s performance is among the best or as good as the best that I have seen, but despite that, I find it hard to accept.” However, Major Lehrgen expressed clearly that he was proposing this review even though he acknowledged the evaluations given by the panel. In other words, he didn’t want to accept the selection of this candidate despite these evaluations. “Ranked second during cadet school, have no run-ins with the Military Police, and the Intelligence Bureau had determined that she is a patriot, vouching for the candidate’s ability in keeping information confidential. An officer who even received a recommendation from a combat unit.” It goes without saying that this excuse was nonsensical to the attendees. In order to keep the candidate anonymous, medals awarded to the candidate and all OCS experience were withheld. But it wouldn’t be surprising if this outstanding candidate had been awarded a Field Aerial Combat medal or above. After all, the candidate had received a recommendation from the local unit, which required both an excellent character and exemplary performance. “If we were to disqualify this candidate, then by standards this year’s selection result would become zero.” These words appeared to reflect the thoughts of the majority present. For aside from the general consensus that the candidate possessed excellent capability, accomplishments and school grades, there weren’t any other comments. If they were to disqualify such an outstanding candidate, then they would need to disqualify the rest of the candidates as well. “As an exception this time around, the anonymity of the candidate will be revoked. Please take a look at this document.” The HR General Affairs Section Chief who couldn’t stand it anymore started passing around the relevant documents. Due to the personal information of the candidates being anonymized during selection, it should normally remain the same during the review. However, depending on the circumstances, he had the authority to withdraw the anonymity. As an acquaintance of Major Lehrgen, he wanted to provide as much assistance as possible. Frankly speaking, this was an act of kindness done to safeguard Lehrgen’s career. For someone who already possessed the Silver Wings Assault Medal which was rare as it was given, not to mention that she had further received a recommendation for the Field Aerial Combat Medal for her achievements on the frontlines. Such officers would normally be regarded as a potential core member of the military in the future, and would be warmly welcomed during the selection process. However, the problem they had encountered was the fact that the one who had achieved these merits was a child of only eleven years of age. Any officer with a sound mind would normally hesitate in sending such a child onto the battlefield. Major Lehrgen had probably objected to her enrolment due to her age. Although that was the assumption made by the HR General Affairs Section Chief, in the end he still agreed to declassify the information. “... Which means, those bountiful war merits were accomplished by this child?” Even Brigadier General Rudelsdorf who was known for his difficult personality was stunned by the details of her age. They finally realized how abnormal the situation was and the room instantly became silent, with confusion lingering in the air. Rising to the rank of First Lieutenant Mage at the age of eleven. Graduated second place in OCS, awarded the Silver Wing Assault medal and was recommended for the Field Aerial Combat medal. An Ace of Aces who had downed 62 mages (32 kill assists) and was bestowed with the nickname ‘Mithril’. On top of that, her resume included an assignment with the Training Department. It made them hesitate, wondering if they should laugh or not. A resume that could only be described as exemplary. “Although it is an urgent matter for us to nurture as many Mage officers as possible, we should still have an age restriction.” Many of the attendees felt she was simply too young, and they were doubtful about giving her command of a unit— one on the scale of a wing. Plainly speaking, even though the need of nurturing mage officers has always been treated as a priority, there were still plenty of criticisms regarding the current schemes of operation being simply too focused on the short term gains. “That’s right, no matter how capable she might be as a mage officer, but it is still questionable regarding her ability to take on the role of a senior commanding officer.” After all, it takes a lot of effort to achieve excellence in a single professional field. There were plenty of Aerial Mages they were confident of in terms of their exceptional combat abilities, but unexpectedly very few of them possessed the qualities necessary to be considered as a capable commander. That’s why, no matter how outstanding the skills of a Mage officer might be, it doesn’t necessarily mean they would be suited to become a commander or senior officer. A successful athlete might not necessarily make a great coach. Even if someone was capable in combat, it does not translate to the other criterias needed of a commander. Hence, some of the officers had thought that Lehrgen was in doubt because of her age and abilities. Judging from this, there was definitely room for further debate. “There are no problems with her potential. More importantly, her war merits, local recommendations and all other details satisfies the criteria completely. There isn’t any reason to doubt her abilities.” Nevertheless, the committee members who had evaluated her refuted these worries. Her records indicated her experience in leading a flight, and there weren’t any mistakes in her command. If she couldn’t even command a flight, then there wouldn’t be any point in training her to be an officer, and on a side note, there was a surprising number of people who failed at this stage. However, considering her local unit recommendation, it wasn’t appropriate to suspect her command ability, at least for now. “She is an officer who had gone through an accelerated training program. Her knowledge regarding military tactics and strategy are most likely very lopsided. It might be more suitable for her to complete Staff Officer education first.” Some of the officers still raised their doubts. After all, she had never received proper staff officer education. Even if she performed well in live combat, there was a chance she might be lacking in certain areas. Putting aside military tactics and strategy, will she be able to properly analyze the various complicated conditions encountered on the battlefield and take command above that of a typical unit leader? They questioned the sense in selecting her.
“Her graduate thesis is ‘The Logistics of War Zone Maneuver’. The Rail Department regarded this dissertation very highly.”
But the members of panel who gave her outstanding grades during the anonymous judging refused to back down. After all, she had already proven to be capable of debating on the strategic level when she graduated.
And the thesis was on a low profile topic which was uncommon among the ambitious cadets in OCS. But considering her war merits, this unexpectedly made sense. To research the logistics of a war zone, did the author have plenty of experiences on the battlefield?— That was what they thought during the anonymous assessment. Anyone who read this thesis would think this was a work of an expert, and not delve any further.
And to those who were experts in this field, no matter how much they dislike it, they would be impressed by the excellence and focal point of the content. The outline was simple. It speaks of the importance of resource reserves, and improve the flow of materials by standardizing warehouse operations, in order to secure the supply lines. It concentrates heavily on efficiency, with the goal of storing only emergency supplies, and eliminating all unnecessary resources.
It criticizes the storage of unnecessary materials, and proposed the management of necessary resources, which would allow the units to operate normally on the front lines. The Army Rail Department Chief was full of praise for this paper, and requested for the author to be assigned to the Rail Department, a story rather famous between logistics personnel.
In fact, several seasoned senior officers gave rave reviews when they assessed the thesis. They commented that anyone who experienced launching an attack while short on resources will definitely understand this paper.
Brigadier General Rudelsdorf who was troubled by the logistics operations during battles was no exception. That was why no one imagined the author to be just eleven years old during the anonymous assessment.
“Excuse me, I didn’t take the identity of the author into account because it was classified… But this isn’t a research report from the War College?”
“No, this is a thesis she wrote during her time in OCS.”
“Pardon me, but do we need to continue with the review? I don’t think there is a need anymore.”
Since her theme was about logistics, it would be hard to argue that she was short sighted in her goals. Her worries were similar to that of Brigadier General Rudelsdorf. The more they debate, the more certain they were that she should be selected. Reasons of doubts become fewer over time.
He probably couldn’t stand it anymore. Brigadier General Zettois who had kept silence all this while said with an impatient expression. He wasn’t particularly loud, and his tone was filled with doubt:
“I have a question. During her on site apprentice term as a cadet during her time in OCS, Brigadier General Walkoch already recommended her enrolment into War College, but Human Resources had rejected it. I would like to seek a clarification about this.”
From Brigadier General Zettois’ perspective, aside from her age, First Lieutenant Degurechaff was undoubtedly an excellent candidate. She already received high evaluations during her time in OCS.
Her performance in the conflict zone caught the eye of Brigadier General Walkoch, who recommended her enrolment into the War College back then. Even though they didn’t have much chance to meet directly, from the few times Zettois spoke with her, he found it hard to believe that Walkoch would make such a blunderous recommendation.
For Zettois, First Lieutenant Degurechaff was highly evaluated for her capabilities, which had never been questioned before.
“Why wasn’t she assessed for selection? Who rejected her candidacy?”
“... It was me. The reason was her age and lack of war merit.”
In response to Major Lehrgen’s answer, Zettois nodded as if he expected that answer, and looked at him sternly.
“Yes, how may I assist, General Sir?”
“I don’t want to question your impartiality, so I will overlook the first rejection. But why did you request for a review for this selection?”
What Lehrgen said was enough for others to question his fair mindedness. Brigadier General Zettois didn’t say it out loud, but everyone shared the same doubt. Such a talent with bountiful war merits. She was definitely an excellent officer. Why question her eligibility?
“... Because I have serious doubts about First Lieutenant Degurechaff’s character.”
For Major Lehrgen, the answer was his distrust of First Lieutenant Degurechaff’s personality; his experience in appraising countless officers told him that there was something wrong with this person.
The feeling that something was wrong had now become deep distrust, setting roots deep in his heart. He made up his mind to stop this person with an abnormal character from infiltrating into the core of the imperial army.
“Are you saying this while being fully aware of her high scores in both mental aptitude and the Intelligence Bureau’s confidentiality investigation?”
As expected, she passed both the mental fortitude assessment and scrutiny by the Intelligence Bureau. Not just that, depending on the time and place, she might be praised by religious leaders for being a devout believer. After all, most soldiers don't have the mindset to ask god for forgiveness during a battle. But this just means the inspection failed to detect her abnormality.
“Are you questioning the result of these investigations?”
“Yes, it’s like what you said. However, I am not doubting the truthfulness of these reports, I think the investigation all yield conclusive results.”
The figures from the investigation was probably conclusive. After all, that’s not where her abnormality lies. Sigh, this can’t be helped. The mental fortitude tests were drawn up with adult professional soldiers in mind, not for abnormal characters like her. The results were probably obtained through stringent and fair testing.
That was the reason why she was abnormal.
“Major Lehrgen, I want to confirm something. At the same time, I want to remind you that everything you say would be recorded in the minutes.”
For Major Lehrgen, both the records and potentially serious damage to his career was something that worries him. In fact, he was a one in a thousand talent set on the path of the elites. Considering his position, he should avoid such debates as much as possible.
But he felt an urge to say his piece. His entire body and mind was warning him of a nemesis-like existence to him as a human. That was an alien-like existence, an abnormality he couldn’t tolerate.
“Why do you have reservations about the character of First Lieutenant Degurechaff?”
“I’ve met her three times before.”
The first time he met her, he felt she was an outstanding officer cadet; The second time, he felt she was a terrifying officer cadet; The third time, he was sure she was a crazy officer cadet.
“For official business or in private?”
“All three times were for official business. I met her three times during my inspection tour of OCS.”
There were probably no other cadets that left a deeper impression than her, and there probably won’t be any in the future. At least he could confirm that she was abnormal. Calm and rational; patriotic with an Egalitarian mindset; deeply religious and Liberalist. Despite having praiseworthy qualities, she still appeared distorted. Both a sense of wrongness and distortion that was difficult to describe engulfed her at the same time.
“Are you implying she did something questionable before? Any problem with her behaviour?”
“Please take a look at the comments of the instructors. A scratchy ‘abnormal’ is written on top.”
An interesting record left by the instructors who interacted with her the most. Even though she had outstanding grades for everything, he left an ‘abnormal’ remark in private. Was the sense of wrongness he felt not her true nature? Normally, even if the instructors point out the shortcomings of cadets, they won’t write down the comment ‘abnormal’.
“... Hmm, so there is a reason for this. Please explain.”
When he heard that, Brigadier General Zettois relented his accusatory posture and adopted a listening attitude; He felt that he had to confirm the facts from an absolutely impartial viewpoint.
“This is an abnormal situation. This is my first time seeing a cadet officer with fully formed personality, beliefs and treated humans as objects.”
Just like a perfectly built robot that obeys and execute orders faithfully. This was an ideal officer. Despite that, she understood reality and had never said any empty remarks. No matter what, she wasn’t normal.
That was why that incident happened when he met her the third time.
“Don’t you think it’s something only found in geniuses?”
“These characteristics of hers were definitely useful on the battlefield. In fact, Brigadier General Walkoch and the Intelligence Bureau once recommended her for the 2nd Class Iron Cross award.”
Most importantly, it felt wrong to think of that person as a newly commissioned officer. After pushing his authority to the limit, Lehrgen realized that there were signs of her participating in live combat even before her commission as a Second Lieutenant.
There were limited clues, but after consolidating them, the suspicion of her taking part in an operation of the Intelligence Bureau in the past was rather high. Even though the award was withdrawn at the application stage, something definitely happened the moment they submitted the application for the Second Class Iron Cross award.
“... You mean during her on site apprenticeship?”
The surprise spread to everyone, and the room turned rowdy. This might be hard to believe, but her recorded accomplishment in a short amount of time made this incident much more believable.
If this happened during her on site apprenticeship, that meant a child about nine years old not only took part in a live operation, but also qualified for a medal in the end? If words of this spreads out, it would just be laughed off as a bad joke. Hearing such a bad joke in a selection panel to decide candidates who will shoulder the future of the military was ridiculous.
“After pressing the Intelligence Bureau, I discovered that there is a high possibility that she took part in some highly classified operation.”
International dispute zone. For an officer cadet, it was a dangerous place for on site apprenticeship, but still within reasons. But conducting long range infiltration exercise into enemy territory, something that will even make grown men scream?
Crossing land infested with ruffians while fully armed in the middle of the night. The destination being an isolated allied base. No matter what, this wasn’t an operation any officer cadet would be capable of commanding. His friend in the Intelligence Bureau he pressed the information from even thought that the operation was conducted by a seasoned Warrant Officer.
That was only natural. Even the Intelligence Bureau would want to seek help from such a capable commander. But they probably never expected her to be an Officer Cadet going through her apprenticeship. Lehrgen suspect that the medal application was withdrawn after they realized that Tanya was an Officer Cadet.
“... You are telling me that a cadet took part in an operation in the war zone, and her performance prompted the Intelligence Bureau to apply for a commendation for her?”
At this point of the discussion, it was impossible to ignore her abnormality. The Intelligence Officers who were showered with gaze from the other participants shook their heads, gesturing that they didn’t know. But everyone knew that their department policy was that the right hand won’t know what the left hand was doing. But if they start their investigation, they will definitely uncover something. After all, their faces looked grim since just now.
“If possible, I wish to declassify this information.”
“I will look into it. And so? If that is all, then she is just an outstanding officer.”
The investigation is under my purview. Even though that was the subtle meaning behind these words, the chairperson has already taken this to be the truth. But that was why he felt confused.
Aside from her age, this officer had no problems with merits and grades, so why did he pursue the matter this far.
“When she was in OCS, she intimidated a cadet who disobeyed orders with a magic knife.”
“... Keeping the detractors in line is part of the responsibility of senior cadets, right?”
Taking things to the extremes, military law prohibits handing out punishment in private, but there were unspoken rules within the organization hidden under the table. For example, it was commonplace for senior cadets to suffer injuries during accidents in combat training.
Putting it bluntly, if Tanya is penalized for such a minor incident, then almost all of the soldiers would be in trouble.
“She was serious about splitting the other guy’s head. If the instructor didn’t step in, someone probably would’ve lost a limb.”
No, that’ not it! Lehrgen explained as he suppressed the urge to scream. He understood very clearly, it was something you have to be there to understand.
“... Major, if you take the words of the instructors too seriously, there would be corpses everywhere in the army.”
Military instructors using overly intense words on recruits was a norm for soldiers. Considering the language used by trainers in the naval, army or aerial mage officer training, phrases such as ‘I will slaughter you’ would be considered as the cute end of the scale. The education method of absolutely demeaning the value of a human were a common sight in the military.
Curses like ‘I will cleave open your damned head’ or ‘I will blast your hollow brains out’ could be heard echoing on the training field frequently. It’s not like physical punishment was off limits, it just wasn’t recommended.
“Even though she might be too extreme, this evaluation is a bit too much.”
“Considering her age, we can even compliment her self restraint.”
If it was just on the level of verbal abuse and intimidation, this was rather cute— Most of the soldiers would make this judgement based on their personal experience. That was because they didn’t witness the scene with their own eyes.
They even think that she was showing kindness by not court martialing the subject for repeated insubordination. After all, the worst case for defying the orders of a superior would be execution. In other words, instead of executing recruits who lack the ability to make judgement, beating them up would be a much kinder way.
“Hmm, it seemed that the HR Section Chief is worried about her age and self restraint, and I can understand his concern.”
At this stage of the discussion, their conclusion was rock steady. That’s right, she didn’t act her age in some areas. The HR Section Chief’s criticism about her abuse of recruits might be too extreme, but it was still within tolerable range; It was understandable for Section Chief Lehrgen to be worried about her exceptional talent.
But enrolling her into the war college would provide her with the education that she lacked previously, allowing her to experience realms she had never tried before. This will definitely nurture her towards becoming a great and exceptional officer.
“But Major Lehrgen, your opinion is too objective. You have to be more subjective.”
There were some disputes along the way, but they decided to acknowledged her selection.
“Of course, we also recognize that you are asking fairness. However, considering your status and position, you are too engrossed over first impressions.”
“On the other hand, you performed your investigation well. Reining the Intelligence Bureau in would be a problem.”
Or rather, no one thought that the HR Section Chief’s intention was to discuss about Tanya. Because of the dynamics of military politics, the HR Section Chief who had to maintain exceptional interpersonal skills/relations probably couldn’t critique the Intelligence Bureau directly. That’s why he made his criticism in the guise of another topic— That’s how most of the people saw this incident.
It wasn’t stated clearly, but they assume that the HR Section Chief discovered the ‘non transparent behaviour’ of the Intelligence Bureau while scrutinizing the personnel reports, and was using this request for a review to critique the Intelligence Bureau. He pointed out the evaluation given by the Intelligence Bureau this way, which hinted at the secret operation conducted by them and their ‘non transparent behaviour’. If that was true, his action wasn’t a mistake, and could even be commended. As for the Intelligence Bureau, they couldn’t find fault with Major Lehrgen, and would even need to apologize to them.
Which was to say, the general consensus of everyone present was that the HR Section Chief investigated this well. In conclusion, they thought of them as questioning the secrecy policies of the Intelligence Bureau in his pursuit of fairness and justice.
“Thank you for your hard work, Major Lehrgen. Even though we didn’t revoke her selection, we will accept the request to audit the Intelligence Bureau.”
“... My thanks.”
And contrary to Major Lehrgen’s intention, no one stood up to blockade the selection.
The Rhine frontlines at the furthest border of the west. A place where she might be woken at any hour of the day to execute engagement missions. During this period when her body soaked in mud and the blood of her enemies, Tanya received a notice on her promotion to First Lieutenant. It wasn’t much, but it was a good thing that her basic salary increased.
But there was news that made Tanya even happier, which was her enrolment notice into the war college, which came together with her promotion papers. This was fortunate indeed. First Lieutenant Schuwakoff mentioned that the capabilities of Corporal Serbiakof had been affirmed in live combat, so he would be recommending her enrolment into Officer Cadet School, and told Tanya not to worry about going off to war college. So there was no need for Tanya to hold back.
Not needing to pretend to worry about her subordinates was a lucky break for Tanya.
And the all important notification of enrolment was just as she wished, done through the recommendation of others, which was an honourable manner. Application could only be done by First Lieutenants and above, so she couldn’t do so. After asking around, it seemed that a highly regarded person recommended her enrolment through her war merits. It goes without saying that Tanya was really happy with her social network that she had built quietly, and accepted the invitation to attend war college, which meant her assignment to the safe zone in the rear.
First Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff who was eleven years old on paper begun enjoying her second college life. In the eyes of others, she was skipping grades, but in actual fact, this was her second time studying in college. From her perspective, it wouldn’t take much effort for her to adjust to this lifestyle.
And of course, the education policy and classes in war college was very different from normal colleges. But for Tanya, schooling was living comfortably in the rear with three hot meals a day. Compared to the frontlines, life in the rear was much more enjoyable.
From Tanya’s view, she thinks the main essence of both college life was the same. If she could communicate through theory of her worth as a human capital, then war college was fundamentally just a college after all. Not just that, her sense of values even judge that it was better than normal colleges in some areas.
From her experience, not needing to pay school fees and even receiving an allowance meant that her future was bright.
It was a college with many benefits. That was why First Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff was studying passionately in War college as a freshman. A bag of a primary schooler suited her height more, but she wore a uniform that fitted her strangely well, with a large officer’s bag on her back that didn’t fit her at all.
At the same time, Tanya carried her standard equipment of rifle and Operation Orb she couldn’t let go of since her times in the battlefield, and headed to the college after finishing her homework. And of course, she knew very well that she should be bringing stationery instead of a rifle to school.
That might be so, but having a weapon near her had become a habit, and she would feel uneasy without it. After all, she might run into crazy shooters, religious fanatics or be lucky enough to run into existence X. That’s why she had to be prepared mentally for battle and wait for a good opportunity. This was something she shouldn’t rest easy about, and couldn’t rest easy about.
That’s right, the mentality of being prepared for war. That was why a child like First Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff who skipped grades blended into the war college environment so naturally. Even though she didn’t intend for this, but an officer decorated with the Silver Wing Assault medal returning from the battlefield and giving off the tense aura of being in the battlefield, was unlikely to be looked down on by others.
In addition, she would unconsciously imagine the moment she shoots existence X while grinding her teeth as she disassembles and clean her rifle during break time. When an instructor asked her why she carried her rifle with her, the answer left a deep impression.
The subject would be stunned for a moment, show a confused expression that fit her age, then reply calmly:
“Since I might need to bet my meaning of existence on this equipment at any moment, I will feel uneasy if I didn’t have it on me. I am very timid after all.”
“... Which means to say that you won’t feel at ease if you don’t have this with you?”
“Yes, that is correct. Please think of this as the childish behaviour of a toddler refusing to let go of her favourite blanket, and laugh it off.”
Such an action would give a decisive impression. And so, even though she was a child, but the impression she imprints on others was too intense. This allowed everyone to know what kind of person First Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff was without needing to spend too much time with her. She would discuss with her classmates in her neighbouring desk how to crush the enemy with a smile and explain her concept of national defence, a soldier that was scary and reliable at the same time.
“Good morning, guard commander Laagan.”
He only realized she was here after hearing the greeting. He couldn’t detect her presence at all. He was a war veteran, but probably looked rusty to the group who had returned fresh from the battlefield. Or was it because she was an exceptional soldier?
“Good morning, First Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff. Excuse me, do you have a rifle with you today?”
As a non-commissioned officer (NCO), I have seen countless famous soldiers, but an officer with such a bright future was a rare sight. After researching a little, there had been no cases of anyone studying in the war college during their early teens. But before that, being commissioned a First Lieutenant a little after the age of ten was even more amazing.
Seems that this was a big world after all.
I have never been caught off guard on the battlefield, but an officer actually sneaked to my back so easily. It was easy to tell that you can’t judge First Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff by her appearance. I heard that she will bring her rifle and operation orb every day and leave it to the guard commander on duty for safekeeping.
Her refusal to let go of her weapon was probably because of her experience on the battlefield. Occasionally, there would be people who couldn’t let go of their weapons after returning from a warzone, but she seemed different from them. She didn’t seem too uneasy when she deposited her weapon.
In a word, she was forcing herself to make her weapon into a habit. I just said so, but following her doctrine of being ready for battle at any moment to such an extent, as expected of someone who earned a Field Aerial Combat medal at such a tender age. The lessons of war were engraved deeply in her, and she had good attitude towards NCOs.
The next time I take to the field, I have better not differentiate the enemy by their age. I might die if I hesitate to fire. I will treat this as a lesson.
“That’s right. It is shameful, but I still can’t break this habit.”
I can empathize with her. I will search for cover unconsciously long before I can fall asleep easily in a bed with moonlight. Even though I knew the place was safe, the habits I learned seriously on the battlefield wasn’t something that could be changed easily.
“Not at all, this is a good thing.”
Or rather, this proved that she understood the important points on the battlefield. Maintaining a normal psyche and learning the important things in the warzone was a trial for fresh Second Lieutenants. The battlefield was a place that would ravage their deep rooted beliefs.
In the clashes where courage, honor and glory were covered in mud, only a select few officers could gain fame. The secret only these few officers knew wasn’t anything difficult. That was to listen to the NCOs, and state opinions they would be agreeable with. But the number of officers who could achieve this were really low.
“Thank you. The affirmation of a veteran NCO pleases me more than anything else.”
That’s why I respect the girl before me for the content of her character, and not just her appearance, and converse with her sincerely.
A veteran NCO who knew how to appreciate good officers will grow. With such a thought in mind, the guard commander decided to show her respect to this petite First Lieutenant by performing his duty faithfully.
“Pardon me, may I ask for your reason of visit, Lieutenant? As you know, today is a holiday and there are no classes today.”
This was a common day of rest for society. Which was Sunday. For devout believers, most of them will head to church for mass today. Some will confess their sins; it was said that this First Lieutenant will head to church and pray really hard in the morning too. Most importantly I caught her staring at the statue of god more than once.
“Yes, the reason is simple. I wish to use the library facilities. The books in the archives room of the dormitory isn’t too well stocked.”
And the reason was plain, First Lieutenant Degurechaff was really hard working, even the eccentric Head Librarian also praised her knowledge, curiosity and thirst for knowledge, saying that she was a model soldier. I even heard the older officers mentioned that her re-analysis of old battles and concepts even made the Operation Department of Staff Headquarters sigh in admiration.
Just what is inside that tiny brain of hers—— I wondered sincerely.
“Pardon me. If possible, please allow me to safekeep your weapons as usual.”
Normally, safekeeping the personal belongings of an officer required unnecessary procedures, which felt like a hassle. But it’s different for this First Lieutenant. On the battlefield, there is no companion who is more reliable than your rifle. And for Mages, Operational Orbs were as indispensable as a rifle. It was an honour to safekeep these two items, so it wasn’t a hassle at all.
“Let’s do so. I will take my leave then.”
After swiftly finishing the paperwork at the designated place, she kept the safekeeping document with practiced movements and headed into the college. It was just a glimpse, but I could see no hesitation in her steps, even though her strides were tiny. This made her petite back seemed unexpectedly huge. To receive the trust of such an officer, for her to entrust her companion to me unhesitantly—— When I thought this far, I couldn’t help feeling happy.
“... That Warrant Officer is still a haughty brat.”
But an idiot who didn’t understand the utmost joy of being a NCO poured cold water over me. Compared to her who became an officer at such a young age, this fool’s only good point is his age.
“Are you dumb? That isn’t some useless brat, but a brat who is giving off the stench of gunpowder and the blood of her enemies.”
As expected of a sergeant who was a veteran of war. But his knowledge was still too shallow. Even a veteran of many battles needed talent and the passion for war to become a complete soldier. In other words, if one doesn’t detest war from the perspective of a human, and doesn’t long for war even when one was away from the battlefield, they wouldn’t be able to understand her.
“Sergeant, is that all that you understand?”
“Hmm? No, I feel that she will be a good officer in the future, of course.”
Of course she will become a good officer. If she could command her own battalion, I would be happy to serve under her. I will be fine with breaching attack, last line of defense or even stalling defense. No, I will even be fine with covering the unit’s retreat. That’s how she was, a person loved by war.
It would surely be a glorious military unit that will make it into the history books. I am certain that I will achieve glory. I understand this well because I have seen countless officers. She is a hero.
“Pay attention, dumbass. The First Lieutenant has two Operation Orbs, and she only deposited one for safekeeping.”
But it’s useless to tell all that to an imbecile who couldn’t understand this. The First Lieutenant made a compromise for the sake of us performing our duty, that’s why she deposited her rifle and back up Operational Orb here. Keeping the other Orb— Which was the one she uses primarily, was analogous to her exercising her authority.
However, I didn’t feel like explaining to fools who didn’t allow her to bring it in because they understood this point, and simply didn’t realized she had another Orb.
“She must have forgotten, I can’t let my guard down around her.”
“... It would be terrible if the duty officer caught her.”
… Eh, so that really is the extent of your understanding.
As she walked in the war college she was gradually getting used to, Tanya’s state of mind was complicated as usual. If humans lost their sense of shame, what awaited them would be shamelessness, a dishonorable accusation for social living beings. This meant that knowing shame was a sign of a social animal.
Hence… Ahhh, how shameful—— That’s why she thought this way. Even though I am driven by my heart of vengeance, running around with a rifle on my back wasn’t a praiseworthy act. Tanya knew this very well.
And so, ever since the instructor warned her nonchalantly once, Tanya would deposit her rifle in the guard room whenever she was on campus. As a compromise, she equipped an army knife without any magical properties, so she wouldn’t be completely unarmed.
But she would be lying if she said that she didn’t mind the gazes of the guards whenever she deposited her weapons in the guard room. She didn’t like basking in the eyes of people watching a weirdo. And she understood that there was a good reason behind these gazes, which made her even more hapless.
It might just be her mind playing tricks on her, but she had a feeling that the guards were mocking her; Look, that moron brought her rifle with her again. Even Tanya understood the psychology of a fully armed mage wandering around in the back lines being the center of attention. When she thought that she would do the same thing, she couldn’t blame them for acting this way too.
Despite that, because of a reason she couldn’t explain to others, Tanya had no choice but to keep a weapon in hand at all times.
It was a simple matter of pride. If she doesn’t clearly maintain her raison d'être①, and avoid religious beliefs from encroaching her rationality, her sense of self will gradually grow weaker. She could imagine a future of her being toyed with like a puppet. The super existence proclaiming to be god might be playing with puppets because of their boredom, but the one being toyed around wouldn’t be able to take it.
Hence, in order to clearly reestablish the existence of the enemy in her mind, Tanya headed to the nearest church during off days recently, nurturing her hatred for existence X before the statues. Her heart was filled with endless hate for her archenemy, a healthy mind filled with curses for her foe. This was the abstract answer given by the individual known as Tanya Degurechaff to existence X that toys with humans. Even though she brought the rifle with the idea that she will shoot to kill existence X if she came across him, it was regrettable that she never ran into him.
And of course, she knew that this was an unproductive action. It might be unproductive, but if she let her guard down, the curse of the Elisom type 95 will turn her into a devout ‘believer of god’ for real. Taking into consideration the need to protect her mental health, maintaining the mindset that the sight of existence X disgusts her was an unavoidable course of action.
Taking this lightly would be as good as taking breathing lightly or giving up on thinking.
“... Hmmp, which means that you don’t want to be toyed around like a doll?”
The dignity of humans lies in their ability to think, Tanya believed this firmly. For humans that evolved from apes, it was the concept of thinking that set them apart from other organisms.
That was why she couldn’t comprehend the idea ‘blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’, which was an act of giving up on thinking.
For Tanya, when someone loses the ability to think, to question and to probe further, their existence wouldn’t even be equivalent to a human, but just a robot that has the shape of a human. That was why Tanya Degurechaff respects thinking, loves debating and mocks dogmatists from the bottom of her heart.
That’s why she laughs at fanatics and those who believes blindly. She finds it hard to accept that she was the same as those who blindly believe in the teachings of communism as if it was some kind of religion, morons who created mountains of dead bodies during their social experiments. All her hatred stem from her view of humans. Humans were great because they performed trial and error. Giving up on thinking, and forcing others to follow their dogmatic principles were absolutely stupid.
Existence X who was attempting to turn her into such a soldier was definitely her sworn enemy.
That might be so, but the remnants of her rational mind also made her think that letting her rage build up was unproductive. That was the reason why she set this matter aside for now and focused on her studies.
As she looked at her future, Tanya was very greedy on doing everything she can on improving her prospect. That was why she was heading to the library. Walking on the path she had gotten used to, she greeted the familiar staff and headed with certainty towards the library
“Reporting, First Lieutenant Degurechaff entering.”
After reaching the entrance of the library, she made a brief report before pushing the door open. The reason she did so was simple; the minimum rank to enroll in War College was First Lieutenant, so Tanya who was a First Lieutenant had the lowest rank.
Although it was Sunday, it wouldn’t be surprising to find several people who arrived before her. And so, she had to be alert at all times, and assume a senior officer was inside at all times.
Her effort pays off, proving her concern to be well founded. Tanya who entered the library immediately saw a scholar-like soldier over half a century old inside, looking her way over piles of documents.
From the insignia on his shoulders, he was a Brigadier General. Judging from his dressing, he was probably a big shot. For this guest who arrived before her to be leaving through huge amount of maps and records, it was only natural for him to do so here if one considered the quality and quantity of the War college’s archives. This was a big reason why military strategy research had to be dependent on the documents in the War College.
And of course, it wasn’t a rare sight to see a big shot searching for information in the War College. After all, a lot of the records and thesis’ were prohibited from being taken off site, and ‘the only way to read it would be to come here yourself’, so it was only natural for them to stay here.
“Eh, pardon my intrusion, Brigadier Sir.”
This was a golden opportunity as Tanya rejoiced in her heart for this wonderful coincidental meeting. No matter the era, having a friend in high places would only be a good thing. If you were seeking the chance to meet them, you would have to visit the places they might frequent personally, and increase the chance of a coincidental meeting.
That might be so, but the appearance of her body looked too young, and she would regrettably be rejected from entering places that serve alcohol. But of course, sitting with the big wigs in such places would only bring them displeasure.
On the other hand, it was possible to use her image as being dependable despite her young age to leave a good impression. Although it would be hard to pull that off if she doesn’t deliberately act like a young child.
Asking her to act like a child was already beyond her realm of understanding, even more so for her to behave like a little girl, which was akin to comprehending the behaviours of aliens. If there was an urgent need, she could fake a smile, but that’s the limit of what she could do.
That was why she won’t hesitate to make the most of her chances when they come.
“Ah, be at ease. It’s fine to simply treat me as an alumnus at this moment.”
In response to her salute, his reaction felt more like a researcher or philosopher instead of a soldier. His character was dull in a way, but from what she could tell, his personality wasn’t eccentric, and was forthcoming instead. That’s the kind of impression the general gives.
“Yes, thank you for your kindness. I am cadet Tanya Degurechaff, commissioned by the Empire as a First Lieutenant.”
“I am Brigadier General Zettois. Serving as the Deputy Chief of Logistics in the General Staff Office.”
The Chief of Logistics in the General Staff Office! Isn’t that the top gun of the group in the rear? How lucky.
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, General Sir.”
She said with sincerity. After all, his group had the same authority as the ones in charge of Human Resources in the General Staff Office. In terms of a corporation, that would be the core team that determines the operation strategy.
It would be really fortunate to get to know someone from a place like that outside of office work.
“Hmm, do you have any pressing matters to attend to, Lieutenant?”
“Reporting, I don’t have anything urgent, General Sir. I came here today in order to study.”
Restraining her excitable urge to jump up, Tanya stated her objective honestly. Fortunately, she had been frequenting the library in order to satisfy her thirst for knowledge and research of law studies, so it shouldn’t feel unnatural to others.
“This is a good opportunity. If time permits, could you share with me the opinions of a young person?”
“Yes, I will be happy to oblige if I am not bothering you.”
“It’s fine, please relax.”
“Yes, pardon me.”
Thankfully, the other party bore some interest towards her too. This was much easier than briefing someone who was indifferent towards her. He was much easier to deal with than a director who couldn’t understand the necessity of a retrenchment exercise during a board briefing session.
“I have heard about you. You seem to be making a name for yourself.”
“Yes, it’s all thanks to everyone’s exaggerated evaluations.”
‘Mithril’ is a name I hate. It made me believe there is a need to review the Imperial Army’s taste in naming, but at least it is really prominent.
For young elites, raising one’s fame will be helpful in making it big. But ‘the nail that sticks out will be hammered down’, so I should keep it within manageable range.
“You are too humble, I think the evaluation is really fitting… That’s right, let me ask your opinion on something.”
Sometimes, one’s fame may contribute to making a first impression. After all, the Brigadier who seemed a little interested in Tanya was seeking her opinion, although it appeared to be on the spur of the moment.
“First Lieutenant, it’s fine even if these are your subjective views. In your opinion, how do you think this war will develop?”
As part of the conversation, they were discussing the war situation as soldiers. This was equivalent to making small talks for civilians. Chatting about a harmless topic in moderation wasn’t wrong normally.
But the other party was interested in her. If she expressed her frank opinion, she would be able to display her competence to a certain degree. And of course, not saying anything stupid would be the minimum condition.
“Thank you for taking my thoughts into consideration, but which area are you asking about?”
That’s why, ascertaining the intent of the other party while displaying her cautious and initiative was something needed to excel in her career. In the Army, superiors definitely prefer subordinates who will discuss details, and constantly communicate. Ask directly if there was anything they don’t know. Such habits and the principle of report, contact and consultation were in a way, really suitable for the army. Most importantly, the organism known as the Imperial soldier was really stubborn in striving for accuracy.
Hence, instead of gunning for more points, it would be wiser to avoid losing any points. You wouldn’t be able to make it big just by talking loudly. You need to pay attention to the small details and shout it out loud to be successful.
“Yes, you are right. Let me ask this in another way. What kind of form do you think this war will take?”
“I beg your pardon, but I don’t think this is something I can comment on.”
And she would need to avoid saying anything beyond her authority. For example, similar to how the human resource department shouldn’t comment on operational matters, the operations department shouldn’t interfere with the affairs of human resource. The key point is to know one’s own boundaries.
“It’s fine. This is not an inquiry, so you may speak freely.”
“I will do as you wish then.”
She didn’t want to say it. But if she continues to refuse, it would be rude. Her main concern would be being thought of as lacking the ability to explain herself. Thinking that the other party would understand even if one didn’t say anything was naive thinking, an absurd fantasy.
Humans have two ears and one mouth, which meant that if someone was willing to listen, you just need to use one mouth. Even though it was possible to communicate by stating the minimum amount of words, communication was impossible without first opening your mouth.
“I strongly believe it would develop into a great war.”
One of the basics of giving a report, stating your predictions confidently. Even if you want to be unique about it, you have to make sure the contents were solid. If you couldn’t convey the main points, a briefing would be meaningless.
“What is this great war you speak of?”
“It will probably involve most of the great nations, and develop into a war on the scale of the world.”
In this world, this conflict would probably spark off a world war. Even if it doesn’t, it would definitely become an all out war between the great nation, calling it a great war wouldn’t be wrong.
Going by common sense, this would definitely evolve into a world war. As the great nations fight each other for power, and all the countries would have to go all out. She had to show that she was knowledgeable enough to understand the situation, and leave a good impression.
“... What are you basing this from?”
“The Empire might be a new superpower, but compared to the great nations of the past, it is powerful even as a lone country.”
Next, she must give firm explanations. To avoid unnecessary meetings, the only solution would be to build consensus.
With regards to this, the Brigadier was really down to earth. Being this serious when talking to a mere Lieutenant, he was surprisingly broad minded. That was why, there was value in expressing her views.
“And so, the Empire would definitely win if we fight with other great nations one on one.”
“Hmm, we will definitely win the war against the Republic.”
And he would even help to say the words Tanya find it hard to articulate. Specifying the ‘war against the Republic’, meant that this might not be true for other countries. Thanks to the higher ranking person pointing out the existence of hidden enemies, the conversation progressed smoothly.
Tanya was honestly impressed, and felt she was more talkative than usual. This made her feel that the army where it was hard to choose their subordinates would be more thorough than corporations in making use of their subordinates’ capabilities.
She didn’t have this viewpoint when she was performing retrenchment in the human resource office. The army was different from corporations, you couldn’t choose your subordinates, you could only nurture them.
“But it is hard to imagine that the United Kingdoms and the Rus’ Union would sit idly by, given the current situation. The Ildoa Kingdom has also not made their intentions clear.”
“... They can’t gain anything directly from this war.”
And he would seek confirmation and not take things for granted. Yes, wonderful, simply wonderful. This was an intellectual conversation. A dialogue that couldn’t take place if the other party wasn’t curious about her intellectual level. How delightful. This must be the charm of a man of society.
“Yes Sir, that’s true for direct gains. But on the other hand, they have to face the choice of allowing the birth of a hegemonic nation.”
“Yes Sir. In the central region of the continent, if the Empire destroys the Francois Republic, we wouldn’t just be relatively stronger than each nation, but would be absolutely domineering over the continent.”
Just imagine the German Empire defeating France and Russia by themselves. Would the British Empire be foolish enough to ignore this? If they really were that foolish, that island state would just be treated as a weak country in the sidelines.
They could understand the harshness of reality, that’s why they joined the fight. Even the great nations of this world enter a war for the good of the country.
“And so, if they couldn’t decimate the Republic in a short time, and do so by denying the other nations from interfering, it would definitely cause a chain reaction of other countries interfering.”
“I see. It might develop in such a way, but wouldn’t the Republic have a chance to become a hegemonic nation too? That would be hard for them to accept too right?”
Tch! Damn it, the other party helped to point out the flaws in her theory. If he did so because I look young, he must be pitying me. It would be dangerous if I fail again.
Let’s continue on. Look firmly in his eyes and answer clearly.
“I agree. I also think that they would plot to have the Empire and Republic kill each other off.”
“They will join the battle?”
“Yes. They will probably start by giving loans to the Republic, and will supply weapons and send volunteer fighters.”
This was the famous Lend-lease program ② and raising war funds. Even if the Republic won the war, they would have exhausted their national resources. It was only natural to conclude that the United Kingdom would want to reap the rewards after the Empire and Republic had fun fighting their war.
“... I see, I can imagine that.”
“Correct, they are lending massive resources to the Republic with the intention of letting both sides kill each other, then swoop in at the end to harvest the fruits of their labour. I think that is what the other great nations are scheming.”
How horrible, countries were certainly an evil existence. It would twist good natured men into a minion of an evil organization. We should seriously look into the possibility that nations will twist the nature of humanity.
Take the disgusting Soviets and East Germany for example, their secret police had done great damage to human nature. Just look at how horrifying society was under the surveillance of Stasi. Pursue freedom, and strive for the freedom of one’s mind! Liberalism was the only true path leading to the world’s salvation, humanity had to realize that as soon as possible.
“And so, what should the Empire do to achieve overwhelming victory?”
“The other great nations would probably intervene as a matter of their national security policy. Even if they had no other choice, they would intervene alone.”
Even though the freedom of thought was important, she must not neglect this intellectual conversation. She had to think about the topic deeply and keep this dialogue going.
“I see, an interesting hypothesis. How should we deal with it?”
“There are no strategy that can resolve this.”
To be honest, I would have submitted it if I could think of any idea. That would be the chance for me to make it big, it was a pity that I lack the talent in such military affairs. Forget it, I will leave the creativeness in military operations to Napoleon and Hannibal. As a good person with a deep passion for peace, I don’t have to be ashamed about this.
“So we should follow the lessons of history and strive for peace. If that isn’t possible, then our priority will be to keep our losses down.”
“... You are not trying to win? Your heavy words might make others suspect your will to fight.”
Oh no, damn it. I slipped my tongue. I was blabbering on like a college professor. And I made improper comments that made my fighting spirit seem suspect before the Deputy Chief of Logistics. Did I really say that? It was such a serious lapse that I want to shoot my own mouth with a gun.
This might hurt my resume. No, I once heard that cowards would be treated cruelly in the frontlines. This is terrible, terrible. I must look unmoved, and use a calm tone to indirectly express that wasn’t what I meant. I have to make a brave speech to display my fighting spirit, or it would be dangerous.
“Yes, the literal meaning is as you say, Brigadier Sir. But it is not impossible to seek victory. The issue lies with how the problem is defined, we should expand on the conditions first.”
“And? Please go on.”
“Yes Sir, I believe we should define victory for the Empire as realizing our national defence objective without losing the war.”
“Well then, what needs to be done to achieve the victory you speak of?”
“Implement operations to bleed the enemy out, and crush their ability to continue fighting completely.”
She used terms preferred by soldiers, such as implement, completely and crush. She made a show of her morale being high as she sought out a more practical way of saying it.
“You want to destroy the army fielded by the enemy?”
Destroying the deployed enemy army? That was an ideal method, but hard to implement. Which meant that his question was a bait. To let him know she didn’t suggest a forceful method just to appease him, she needed to refute it.
“That is an ideal way, but it is probably hard to accomplish. Our goal should be for the enemy to deplete their resource and make it a positional warfare.”
“Can we win then?”
“I can’t tell, but we will definitely not lose. If we will conserve the power to deal a fatal blow, it will increase our tactical flexibility.”
She couldn’t be sure this method would win, but she doesn’t think it would lose either, that’s the limit of her answer. She added the term “fatal blow” for insurance too. She had to keep mentioning the terms that emphasized her intention to defeat the enemy.
“Hmm, very interesting. But the opponent will adopt the same strategy one day, what then?”
At this juncture, she could only show her enthusiasm. Since he displayed a certain level of interest in her, the last impression she would leave on her would be deep. In that case, she had to display the largest extent of her aggressiveness, and muddle the dangerous fact that she lacked the will to fight.
“Yes, considering the situation, I will suggest switching the main mission of infantry to defence, and Mages to launch attacks.”
“I think that Mages is capable of dealing destruction and impact, but is not the branch of soldiers suitable for invading and occupying enemy grounds.”
“I concur. However, the goal of launching attacks is not to gain grounds, but to destroy the enemy soldiers.”
In other words, this wasn’t about gaining ground and keeping them, but a strategy that focus on depleting the enemy’s numbers. In the face of total war, the most important part was to identify the only way to win. They had to destroy their opponent’s ability to continue the war, and do their planning with that objective in mind.
On the battlefield, Germany which was tactically superior to other nations slaughtered the Russians and dealt painful blows to the British alliance. However, they were still defeated in the end, and the biggest reason was that they had exhausted their national power. When they fought against Britain, France and America at the same time, the German high command understood that victory was impossible and decided to surrender.
Even though their frontlines remained intact, they conceded because they realized they are unable to keep fighting on. This event was an important lesson in history. This was how a total war could fail. No matter how strong the frontlines were, they couldn’t keep it up if their national power was exhausted. Because this wasn’t a problem of mentality, and simply was the limit to the law of physics.
“That’s why I believe, we should make the Aerial Mages our main offensive force to harass the enemy and conduct direct penetration attacks to tire our opponent.”
To be honest, a direct penetration attack was a crazy move, but it was possible to accomplish it with mages. Even though the chance of it working was low, there were merits in proposing it. Since she wasn’t the one who would do it and was just talks, she could say all she wanted. Just take a look at Tsuji.
That idiot did so many ridiculous things in the Manchuria, yet still got promoted after returning to his home country. Or that general who insisted on carrying out the Battle of Imphal! Also known as the best agent of the allies, reckless-ya or general Demon-ya. No, maybe I should call him ‘General Just-die-you-fraud’?
Telling others to die, then use it as an excuse to rob peace offerings? Hmm, that didn’t sound right, I can’t really remember. Well, never mind. If I could be that irresponsible, my life wouldn’t be so hard.
Regrettably, I’m a kind person. I had not given up on being human, and from my personal experience, I might be able to achieve it.
Sigh, I am such a sensible person. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call me the gathering point of goodwill. Yes, there wasn’t any doubt of my justice. Kind and craving for peace, a person with a healthy personality who has it hard in life, that’s about it.
“Hmm? The Mages are not performing support duties?”
“With firepower equivalent to an artillery on the ground and mobility that exceeds infantry, Mages are the ideal type of soldier to hunt enemies.”
To be honest, doing mobile defence was tough. When forced to fight against Named, I could feel how difficult it was to battle someone addicted to war. If gods were real, I will wipe all of them out and proclaim to be a god. A race that likes to kill their own kind was crazy anyways.
This also proved that existence X wasn’t a god. Sigh, how do I escape from the palms of a devil? If a devil wanders in a world without god, that would really be the end of the world.
“If we wish to achieve victory and minimize our losses at the same time, we should focus on curbing our losses. In that case, mages would be the most suitable force to deploy.”
“I see, you are good at promoting your point.”
“You flatter me.”
I should back off a little here. But his reaction wasn’t bad. He just shrugged and started writing on his document, showing no sign of faulting me. That’s great.
Since I could fudge through all that with just my mouth, I should consider being a negotiator. However, my expertise still lies in people management. But compared to general and shallow work, in-depth and niche jobs paid better. What should I do?
In order to plan for my life after the war ends, maybe I should learn a skill. In that case, I should earn a qualification. I have plenty of experience as a mage and could fight anyone at a moment's notice. Trying to get a mid-career change with just this on my resume, I would only be qualified to be a mafia. No matter what era it was, discharged soldiers would face problem in finding employment. Therefore, it would be a problem if she didn’t invest in her education. That’s why she would visit the library to learn about legal matters, in order to earn a qualification as an attorney or something in that field, so she wouldn’t starve in the future.
“Then assuming we will use mages as the main forces with minimizing losses as the overarching policy, how large a scale would it need to be?”
It was probably her fault for being distracted by her future life plans. She didn’t think too deeply about the meaning behind these words and answered casually.
“I think an entire Wing would be adequate in scale. This would be a small burden on logistics, but it would have the minimum combat power to be effective.”
“Interesting. Yes, I will consider it. The ideas of the young ones are always so interesting.”
“Thank you for your compliment.”
It was her simply her mistake to not realize this. If it was the usual Tanya, she would definitely detect something was wrong with that conversation and do her best to avoid this situation. But because of her carelessness, she overlooked this. That’s right, her negligence led to the most terrible mistake of her life.
Imperial Capital / At the desk of Deputy Chief of Logistics inside the General Staff Office
During the times when he was lost in thoughts, Brigadier General Zettois was often capable of gaining enlightenment from lessons of the past.
Although it was inevitable his behaviour would result in criticisms stating he acted too much like a scholar rather than a soldier, Zettois was the type of person who preferred to learn from history. The various types of military tactics and doctrines that were created from the past, many of them still possessed useful components which are relevant even in today’s time. This was his reason for studying them.
And it was precisely because of his interest in history that had allowed Brigadier General Zettois to sense an indescribable feeling of change which was starting to occur on a fundamental level across the battlefronts. This was something that he had previously picked up from studying history, the feeling that the incoming tide was about to reach its turning point, and the sense of wrongness in the paradigm which the Empire had adopted as part of its national defense strategy when faced with the current situation.
Using history as an example of a non-conforming guideline, it revealed that a major shift in the delicate balance of power could soon be expected to happen, marking the arrival of a new era.
Just what exactly will be changed? Difficult questions such as this would only be considered as an unnecessary distraction by the majority of the soldiers in the Imperial military. After all, in the eyes of the common soldiers, dealing with what was currently in front of them was more important. In this case, considering the traditional thinking of the Imperial Army that only focus on carrying their own mission, Zettois was a deviant.
However, despite his academically inclined personality, he still proved himself with excellent results. Since he had proven to be an exemplary officer, the Imperial Army didn’t hesitate on welcoming in such a talent.
Even the General Staff Office saw Brigadier General Zettois in a different light.
The sight of him deep in thought at his desk was now a famous scene, and no one would disturb him without reason. For the staff working under Brigadier General Zettois, they had already gotten used to him flipping through philosophical books in deep thought after finishing his task.
Ever since the war started, they had been overwhelmed by the atmosphere of panic. But with the western and northern frontlines stabilizing, they had time to take a breather.
Even the staff officers of the General Staff Office who hadn’t had a day off since the war started were granted a short leave to take a break. The overjoyed young staff officers all ‘attacked the bars with high spirit’ to splurge the salary they hardly get to use while the older staff officers returned home to enjoy time off with their family and rest.
The thing in common with everyone was that they all enjoyed this long overdue holiday, and spent it happily.
But this day, the staff officers came back from their break to see their boss staring at the notes he scribbled with bloodshot eyes and not moving at all. The duty officer who stayed behind informed the baffled group that Brigadier General Zettois had been staring at the notes in his hands ever since he returned from his trip to the War College.
The officers who couldn’t watch any longer tried talking to him casually. But his bloodshot eyes continued to scan the notes on his desk. That was all Zettois could do to digest the shock he felt.
In the beginning, he only thought about it as ‘an officer who mentioned some interesting ideas’. Even the suggestions he noted down was just another way of viewing the situation to him.
As he thought about things on his way back to General Staff Office, he started feeling that the conflict between the External Mobilization Strategy and the Internal Mobilization Strategy would keep expanding, and was impressed by this opinion.
However, as he delved deep into thought, the rational side of him gradually grasped something. And when he realized it, no matter how unwilling he was, he had to accept that the notes he tossed onto his desk contained a terrible truth.
It happened to be a prediction of how the war would develop that even eluded the General Staff Office. The explanation was shockingly clear, and showed deep understanding on how dramatic the war would change. As far as Brigadier General Zettois knew, even Brigadier General Rudelsdorf who astutely hinted that the trend of the war was changing probably didn’t understand it so completely, yet First Lieutenant Degurechaff said it with such certainty.
A World War —— Total warfare was unavoidable. If someone else heard this, it would just be treated as unfounded worrying. But Zettois could sense that she was expressing something similar to the future revolution hinted by the Union and the Imperium in the far east. She completely grasped a certain ‘something’ that Zettois and Rudelsdorf felt.
Even though her ideas were filled with delusion, it was strangely convincing.
Her certain tone seemed to be saying that she had already seen it with her own eyes. And Zettois had no choice but to accept her understanding and analysis which her confidence was based on.
When he realized it, several staff officers were looking at him with concern. It was the basics of officers to not lose one’s composure before one’s subordinates. The impact of what he learned far exceeded the anxiety he was feeling, and still rippled in his mind.
He didn’t even feel like saying ‘I’m fine’ to smooth things over. Brigadier General Zettois abruptly stated his honest thoughts.
“Gentlemen, I’m thinking about a world war. Do you think a war against the world will break out?”
His subordinates showed an expression that seemed to be saying ‘what?’ Seeing all their faces becoming worried at the same time, Zettois couldn’t bring himself to say his unbelievable idea. But Zettois’ experience and knowledge made a judgement, telling him that the terrible future thought up by that young head was an ‘appropriate prediction’.
That’s right, it was something said by a child, a child more suited for laughing cheerfully. But Brigadier General Zettois knew that he couldn’t just laugh it off as the playful words of a child.
He heard about that officer’s experience during the War College candidate selection process… Maybe he should describe that young girl this way. He happened to encounter her at the War College, chatted with her with the intention of testing her out, but ended up opening Pandora’s box.
“My apologies, I couldn’t explain the specifics. However, I want all of you to evaluate this possibility.”
“... That is a rather extreme prediction.”
This was an order he issued himself, but he understood how his subordinates felt. This was to be expected, as Zettois himself had never considered the possibility of the Empire waging war against the entire world.
There should be a limit to how extreme he gets. Views thinking that this was too extreme was logical. But the more Zettois thought about it, the more possible he realized it was.
He felt that it was impossible. He thought he could find a flaw in this theory somewhere.
But assuming—since this is just an assumption—assuming… her ideas were right, then the Empire had to literally fight a war with the entire world.
If that happens, it wouldn’t be bad to hand a Wing to her as promised. If Zettois couldn’t win the war by delving into insanity, then he would do just that.
“... I don’t want to become a detestable adult.”
However, Brigadier General Zettois was stunned when he realized what he was thinking. Sending a child to the battlefield? That was the greatest shame for a soldier. And he just made that assumption as if that was only natural.
… Ah, I really hate my incompetence.
The post of senior staff officer was the expert on ‘military’ matters. But they were not just an expert. On top of being an expert on military affairs, they had to be well learned in other related areas too. That was the capability the Imperial Army ask of their senior staff officers.
The minimum criterion was to be familiar with the environments in the battlefield and in the backline. And so, for officers on the path of the elites, reassignment was a process they encounter frequently.
In the General Staff Office, Major Lehrgen who headed the crucial post of the Section Chief of Human Resources was already used to being transferred. After all, even the critical position of a HR Section Chief was simply a stepping stone towards to his next post.
And Major Lehrgen displayed his extraordinary observations of various departments during the War College conference, and received high evaluations even in the General Staff Office. However, it wasn’t because of the doubts he raised against a candidate, but for his knowledge of working with other departments.
No matter what, there would never be enough multi talented individuals during times of war.
So shortly after, he received notification about his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. For Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen who was promoted earlier than the norm, General Staff Office assigned him as the executive officer for the General Staff Office’ Operation department.
Even though he had no fixed assignments, he could execute the commands of his senior officers, and partake in the setting of policies for the entire military. His position was a reflection of the high evaluation that was given to Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen. The moment he reported to his post, Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen had the taste of being worked really hard by his superiors, as per tradition.
This was the General Staff Office, the organization responsible for the central planning of the Imperial Military. Situated in the best property within the capital, the General Staff Office was a place of tranquility, as befit its long history. But contrary to how it looked outside, it was chaos within.
“Congratulations, Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen, welcome.”
“Thank you for your kind greeting, General Rudelsdorf Sir.”
“Don’t mention it, I will be working you as hard as a horse. Right now, I could use as many people as I could get. Here, take a seat.”
Lehrgen was congratulated on his promotion. Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen who received his promotion orders walked through the front door of the Operations Department with all his bags, and the one who welcomed him was the Deputy Operations Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Rudelsdorf. Even though the heavy workload in the General Staff Office were well known, Brigadier General Rudelsdorf still smiled energetically, and sat him down as if he didn’t want to waste time.
And the instant Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen sat down, Brigadier General Rudelsdorf got right into topic as if he was in a hurry.
“Alright, Lieutenant Colonel. This might be abrupt, but here are your assignment papers to report immediately to the northern frontlines.”
He already knew that Rudelsdorf was known for his quick decisions, but Lehrgen didn’t expect him to send someone who just reported away immediately.
“As you know, the strategic planning is a mess, and is affecting the northern frontlines deeply.”
However, Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen was proud of the Staff Officer epaulette he was wearing on his shoulders. He adapted to the situation immediately and concentrated in order to not miss out on the intent of his superiors. He spent a very short amount of time to focus on listening.
“This is a battle initiated by us which we had never considered before, an offensive after a major mobilization. It was inevitable that it would fall into chaos.”
The Imperial Army was paying a heavy price for misjudging the situation. The tension in the west was still escalating, and the negative effect of a huge operation in the north which they had never envisioned before was devastating.
It was easy to imagine how the repercussion affected various factors, resulting in the problems faced by all deployed units.
The strength of the Internal Mobilization Strategy was its rapid movement of troops within their home territory. However, it would not work as effectively as intended if the conditions were not perfect. So if the situation turned bad, it was natural that they would fall into chaos.
“There was nothing more cruel and useless than to let someone who couldn’t do their job continue to collect their pay in a position they are not suitable for. And so, the ones responsible had been replaced.”
As a result, many of the staff officers within General Staff Office that supported the plan to launch the attack had been replaced and demoted. And of course, that didn’t include the staff that didn’t commit any major mistakes and performed their duties as tasked. That might be so, there wasn’t any doubt that the situation made it easy to promote capable talents as part of the reorganization process.
The quick promotion of Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen and his posting to a key role within the General Staff Office was thanks to this.
“And we ended up short handed, how ironic. But this also provides a stage for officers like you to perform. That is why I want you to make a trip to the north.”
“Are my orders to go there and evaluate the situation?”
Considering the situation, despatching him north as the Operations Executive Officer from General Staff Office meant sending him to perform an inspection. The intent of this order was to gather more information for the making of long term decisions. Even the newly appointed Staff Officer understood this instantly.
Going by tradition, the Empire will break through the battle on both fronts by falling back on their basic strategy. The high ups were probably trying to make a decision whether to prioritize the western or northern front first.
“That’s right. With the western front becoming highly unstable, we really don’t want to fight on both sides at the same time.”
“You wish to know which side we should settle first?”
“Correct. After you have finished your inspection in the north, head straight west to inspect the front lines there.”
The Brigadier nodded satisfactorily. From his reaction, he seemed very pleased with Lehrgen’s answer.
“Yes Sir, I will go to the north immediately.”
In order to move immediately to carry out their orders, the Executive Officers in General Staff Office would prepare a bag with change of clothes at their work desk as their duty required it.
Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen mimicked what his seniors did, and carried a bag with spare clothes as per tradition and entered the Operations Department after receiving his assignment orders. But it was a fact that Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen didn’t expect to use it so soon.
“Very good. Ah take a look at this on your way there, Colonel.”
“What is this?”
“A thesis Zettois gave me. It is good for reference.”
“Understood. I will take my leave then.”
Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen then left immediately, heading straight to the train station via a staff car. He boarded a train heading north, which set off shortly. Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen entered a first class cabin exclusive for senior officers that was pre-booked. He then looked at the title of the thesis that was handed to him.
It was ‘The form of the current war and prediction on its development’. The scholarly face of Brigadier General Zettois flashed through his mind for an instant. The subject title made him nostalgic about the war history lessons he attended. Brigadier General Zettois was famous for falling into deep thought often, even Lehrgen himself heard about that.
Brigadier General Rudelsdorf must have found the thesis interesting, that was why he recommended it to me. That was what Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen assumed, but as he read the thesis handed to him, his vision that was following the words started to blur. Not just that, as he read deeper into it, his face twisted in shock. He felt as he was hit hard in the head because of the emotion of fear and horror washing over him.
“... What is this?”
This was? The current war? No, ultimately, was the development described in it possible? Lehrgen’s heart was filled with doubts.
… It’s possible. He affirmed the answer as an expert of the subject material.
As far as he knows, Brigadier Zettois wasn’t an officer who would make such a far fetched theory. In fact, he was a cautious person. It was the common consensus in the General Staff Office that Zettois the tendency of discerning the truth through analysis. In short, the Brigadier who was an academically inclined realist was warning about a world war. It was too preposterous. How happy Lehrgen would be if he could just laugh it off.
However, Lieutenant Colonel Lehrgen could only hold his head and groan, having no choice other than facing reality. The discussion about strategies in a war was always accompanied by the opinions of many others, and as a Staff Officer, he understood the dilemma between the Internal Mobilization Strategy and External Mobilization Strategy
It was easy to understand by thinking about how the enemy would counter the Empire’s Internal Mobilization Strategy.
“In that case, the war this time would definitely evolve into a world war?”
The Empire was surrounded by the great powers. Because of the geopolitical constraint of their territory, the national defence of the Empire was very fragile, which was a major headache. That was why the empire still felt their position was precarious even though it possesses stronger military might than the great powers around it.
But for the countries that surrounded the Empire, it was understandable for them to be concerned about their safely because of the existence of the powerful Empire.
It was natural for them to form a united front against the Empire, and disperse the military might of the Empire with the External Mobilization Strategy that encircled the Empire to achieve a balance in power, which was a predictable outcome.
This loose chain was the threat to the Empire. In order to break out of the encirclement net that was like a rope around its neck, the Empire came up with the Internal Mobilization Strategy.
They also worked hard on long term diplomatic affairs, forming an alliance with Iltoa Kingdom and signing a nonaggression pact and other treaties with the Rus Union. This was meant to create a diplomatic atmosphere that made it hard for any nation to spark off a war because of regional conflicts.
But was that all? Let’s assume the Federation dropped out of the frontlines, then Francois which had disputed territory with the Empire would need to handle the pressure from the Empire alone.
It was hard to tell if the cunning United Kingdoms would be willing to treat Francois as equals. They would probably provide support to maintain the power balance, but keep it to the minimum, with the intention of letting the Francois Republic and the Empire destroy each other.
Since this point was highlighted, it couldn’t be denied that there was a possibility of the war spreading due to chain reaction. Due of its communist governance system, Rus and Francois who had a long standing alliance fell on bad terms. Using this chance, the Empire signed a nonaggression pact with Rus Union. For Francois, this meant they had no choice but to place their hopes on the Federation to rein in the Empire with their secondary battlefront.
From the perspective of the Empire, this was the reason why they had no choice but to fight the Federation and the Republic at the same time. Worse of all, ‘the Republic and Empire destroying each other’ was the only way the other great powers would allow the war to end… They would not allow a domineering country to win and gain supremacy over the other surrounding nations.
The wisdom and experience of Lehrgen allowed him to hear the door towards ‘world war’ creaking open. It told him that this was very possible.
And then, when they fight the entire world in a war. The concept of ‘Total War’ seemed to be smiling at him like a witch, the image of the sneering woman entered his mind naturally.
The concept of ‘Total War’ refers to the necessity of a nation at war to mobilize all civilian resources.
He had the urge to refute them, but the theory described in the thesis was based on hard facts.
The changing of the very nature of war, and the intense increase in ammunition and fuel consumption. He had confirmed all this through observation during his time in the General Staff Office. It was undeniable facts. Especially the army on the western front that confronted other great powers in direct battles, the consumption on their weapons and ammunitions had already surpassed their pre-war estimates.
The heavy sacrifice of combat personnel? That’s right, it hit the mark too. He heard that the replacement rate had reached its limit for a few units. The number of death had exceeded their prediction, resulting in a gap in the reinforcement plans that were in place.
A war that would consume weapons and soldiers heavily. The tremendous manpower cost, and the waste of resource because of the breakdown of the national economy. That’s right, human lives were consumables. Not a sacrifice, but being ‘consumed’, the toll was represented by a number. What an insane competition. This match will continue until one side couldn’t bear the burden anymore and collapse?
The thesis described a state of war where the continuous consumption of personnel and resources would continue until one side gets destroyed. And this would be carried out on a global scale. This prediction could only be called a grand delusion.
If he acknowledges this prediction, what awaited him was a horrible world where human lives were treated as a number, a resource to be consumed. But the theory included very logical parts. And when he thought about what it meant to affirm this theory——
No, that was only natural. As theories, Total War and World Wars had many aspects that could be criticized. But even so, it felt really realistic. An existence that was hard to deny even if you wanted to.
But why is that? Why can’t I refute it? There is a feeling of something being off, stuck in my throat.
“... What exactly is this feeling that something is wrong?”
As if he had experienced Total War and World War before. No, it was impossible for him to encounter it, but he had such an impression. Or rather, he had an impression of this strange feeling.
“Where did I… No, did I forget something? No, there is something that bothered me.”
Had he seen this thesis before? No, that’s not it. It was the first time he saw the terms Total War and World War. He only knew about them now.
Or a similar concept? He shouldn’t have any memory about that. The closest concept he could think of would be something he read in a science fiction novel. Then, was it something he experienced before? But he didn’t have much experience in the frontlines.
He was stationed at the battlefront before he made First Lieutenant, but ever since his assignment as a Military Attaché to the United Kingdom, he had been serving at the rear lines. In that case, did he hear about this in the United Kingdom? He had written a mountain of reports about the United Kingdom, and he remember all of them. But he doesn’t recall reading about such a concept… Am I overthinking this? No, I must have seen this somewhere.
Even though they were at war, no, because they were at war, they needed competent Staff Officers. That was why the Empire invested so much money on the training of Staff Officers. As a Staff Officer, First Lieutenant Degurechaff was participating in a Staff Officer tour as per training tradition.
The Macritchie hot springs, a renowned vacation spot. Even though this was a famous town known for its therapeutic hot springs since olden times, it was situated in the mountainous region covered in snow all year round. In the mountain close enough to see the peaceful town, Tanya’s figure could be seen among the War College Cadets that were exhausted both physically and mentally.
During the War College selection, she was the only female and child. And in reality, even if she didn’t saw it from her mental perspective, she couldn’t deny it from a biological standpoint. With the culture that blindly promote the concept of ‘ladies first’, Tanya enjoyed a lot of privileges over her fellow cadets thanks to being a woman.
For example, when they stayed the night during a march, the other cadets couldn’t even sleep in a building, and had to dig a shell scrape to rest. But the higher ups were worried about their appearance to the public, and permitted her to borrow a bed from a family there to spend the night. On top of that, she could use the local military related facilities.
Simply put, except for mages, the military was a male dominated society. In actual fact, most of the mages were also men. And of course, the Imperial Army would enforce the treatment of female officers in strict accordance to the law. The Military rules and regulations were very detailed as was the style of the Empire, which also detailed what rules the female soldiers had to follow.
That might be so, but before the appearance of mages, the very rarely seen female soldiers were all royalties. With such preconceptions, the seriously outdated regulations were written on the assumption that the female soldier would be princesses and their servants. However, the rules had been amended heavily for mages frontline in recent times to be more practical for combat, since royals would never be assigned there. Even so, the treatment of female officers in the backline was still rooted on the idea that they were nobles or royals, and the book of regulations were full of archaic rules and etiquette.
And since the number of female cadets in the War College was drastically low, nobody took the effort to change the regulations for the College. As a result, the rules assuming female cadets were royalties got retained. The rules that were outdated by decades, maybe centuries, were still in effect if it doesn’t get abolished or amended by the Empire. It was a flaw of bureaucracy, for you didn't have a choice of ignoring a rule that favours yourself and that's how the law in the Empire worked. Therefore, Tanya’s tour was like a stroll on a red carpet when compared to the other cadets.
The objective of this tour was very simple. With one’s mind was pushed to the extreme, the cadets had to carry out endurance training and practical study. The plans formulated by Staff Officers on the fly when they were exhausted would be paved with land mines, even Tanya understood that fact. Therefore, in the eyes of the War College instructors, the experienced First Lieutenant Degurechaff who had the adequate physical capability did not need any handicap afforded to females. And the antiquated regulations for female officers didn’t state anything about the treatment of ‘Mage Officers’. In other words, they might not be able to ignore the rule about ‘providing adequate accommodation for female officers’, but there weren’t any problems with Tanya joining the march as the rule ‘female Mage officers couldn’t carry a heavy load’.
And so, using the reason that Mage Officer could tap into the power of Operation Orbs, she was mandated to carry a dummy heavy machine gun, and participate in the Staff Officer tour in full battle gear. Not just full battle gear, she had to take a 50kg heavy machine with her on her hike. If Tanya could resist the urge to cry ‘child abuse’, there would be no problems legally.
Naturally, they didn’t take the scenic sightseeing route, but traveled in the training zone on the mountains. This confirmed her belief that the one who proposed her training policy was a sadist. Even hikers in light gear would cry in despair, and they are making her climb it in heavy armour.
Despite all that, speaking about the goal objectively, this method wasn’t wrong.
Their purpose is just to make the candidate the cadets tired right? She couldn’t help thinking.
“Victor, assuming the enemy have set up fortification on that hill. And your battalion have to advance swiftly.”
However, the Staff Officer training was conducted very thoroughly. They would mercilessly quiz the exhausted officers on how they would handle a simulated battle scenario.
“Please propose a plan to proceed.”
Fortification on a hill? From such a precarious position, there would be no way of breaking through or going around it. They could either withdraw with a heavy heart, or destroy the enemy position with heavy artillery from afar. Another way would be to send mages to charge in.
“Breaking through would be difficult. In order to advance quickly, I would propose going around them.”
However, First Lieutenant Victor seemed to be tired, and could only judge that taking the position would be impossible. So he advised the textbook answer of bypassing the enemy. Breaking though did seem unlikely in this scenario.
But bypassing them would likely fail too. After all, there wasn’t any cover, and the enemy held the high ground. They would be sitting ducks before they could make it through.
“If you can do it, then show me.”
“If you can go around them under such difficult terrain then show me how! You retard! Look at the terrain!”
As expected, the angry roars of the instructor became more intense. But Tanya couldn’t spare the effort gloat at the failure of others.
“Degurechaff, what would you do?”
Damn it, you owe me a meal, First Lieutenant Victor. If you could answer, no one would be lectured. Tanya wanted to glare at him, but if she looks as if she was panicking, she would suffer the wrath of the instructors.
Even though Victor was useless, he could still be a nice lightning rod. Lightning rods should be used, and shouldn’t be broken. Tanya decided to tide over this difficult task honestly.
“May I ask if there is any heavy artillery support?”
First would confirming the basics. It would be hard to imagine an infantry battalion traversing such mountainous terrains to have artillery with them. If there were artillery from their parent division around, they might receive support. Artillery attached to unit would do too, the first thing that needs to be done was to check for any supporting fire. They will test me on the assumption that there is no supporting fire anyway.
However, if she didn’t confirm the cards in her hand, she would be lectured ‘didn’t you consider asking for artillery support?’ She already knew, but that’s how unreasonable they were.
“Assume there’s none!”
“First proposal, withdraw by a large distance, then take detouring action along the other hills.”
Since that was the case, she could only retreat to avoid unnecessary losses. Fortunately, depending on the route they choose, it wouldn’t take too much time. The most important thing was to not launch witless attack. Ordering the soldiers to charge an enemy who had a clear vantage of the surrounding was reckless.
If Tanya was asked if she wanted someone who would give such an order to be a Staff Officer, she would answer no. No matter what, unless you have more soldiers than the enemy bullets, it would be impossible to defeat gunfire with mortal bodies.
“Assume you are pressed for time.”
“... Second proposal, attack with a combination of mages and infantry. The mages will destroy the fortification, the infantry will provide covering fire.”
This was the standard procedure for Aerial Mages to secure an enemy base. They would need to steel themselves for some degree of sacrifice, but it was much better than letting the infantry assault on their own. Most important of all, Tanya was an Aerial Mage. Since the question assumed that she was in command, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the battalion have Mages attached to it.
This could be considered a sly answer.
“Very good. Then assume there are only infantry for the attack.”
“Hmmm? I can only send infantry for this attack?”
… Was I tricked? When she realized it, the order had been changed to attacking the fortification with just a battalion of infantry.
“That’s right. I will give you some time. If you don’t want to camp outside, then hurry up and answer.”
How demanding. If infantry can take down a base by themselves, wouldn’t positional warfare be a piece of cake? He wants me to launch an attack under such conditions?
No pioneers or Mages? That’s asking me to be a meat shield. No, there is no need to consider this.
“Instructor Sir, I think this assault mission is impossible.”
In an instant, the expression of her cadet mates changed. They were deep in thought, and were surprised that Tanya answered that it couldn’t be done. This was obviously an answer that would make the instructor’s mood deteriorated. Her words might even lead to a drop of her class ranking.
This feels terrible. If they want someone to answer, why not pick Captain Wooka who is competing with me in the class rankings? She wanted to hold her head and scream. But she was carrying a heavy machine gun with both hands, so that couldn’t be done.
“What do you mean?”
If they were as proficient in bayonet assault like a certain Japanese Emperor, and the enemy’s suppressing fire was weak, there might be some hope. But charging with bayonets at a Republic fortification would be suicidal. She considered the possibility of a night assault with the battalion, but doing that in the mountains would probably led to them being wiped out.
If they went that far, and the chance of success was so abysmal, then the answer would be ‘impossible’.
“What is the responsibility of a Staff Officer? In terms of the mission, to consider the obligation and duty entrusted to us. It is my duty to report that it couldn’t be done.”
So she had to prepare a way to avoid responsibility. Humans were creature that could learn from their mistakes. When she spoke with a Brigadier General in the library in the past, she had the experience of saying the wrong things and didn’t intend to make the same mistake. She had to explain that she gave this answer not because she lacked fighting spirit, but out of her sense of duty.
“My responsibility is to seek the best possible strategy.”
Which meant that she was concluding the task was impossible from the perspective of a Staff Officer. That’s why she couldn’t carry out her orders. And of course, the job of Staff Officers was to formulate plans that could achieve victory. But if she needed a reason, there were tons of responsibility to use as excuses.
“We should avoid sacrificing our troops meaninglessly.”
If he scolds me by saying victory is more important than the lives of the soldiers, there’s nothing I can do.
But Tanya had to avoid being criticized for lacking fighting spirit at the very least, so this was the most adequate way of putting it. Valuing the lives of your soldiers, she had that repeatedly drilled into her head for unknown reasons.
Thinking back, the thing that baffled Tanya was the way they kept emphasizing that to her. If they think she couldn’t understand the idea ‘you can’t choose your subordinates, so you have to nurture them’, then it’s a pity.
Anyway, her reason was perfect and righteous. She could answer this time with her chest held high.
“Based on the above reason, my answer would be to refrain from attacking.”
The eyes of her instructor seemed to have seen through her true intentions. But she didn’t tell a single lie. Staring back with the same will was a skill all salarymen had to know. All that was left was to have the guts that won’t lose to the murderous gaze of soldiers.
In short, half was to get used to it, and the conviction in her heart’s freedom taking up the other half.
“Very well. I will take note of this. Alright, continue the march!”
Ehh, this will leave a record? Seemed like soldiers do not like a salaryman’s thinking. Ehh, what should I do?
Even though she thought she had fudged through it, she couldn’t help thinking that nothing good would come from leaving a record.
① Raison d'être: Reason of being. A line that defines a person to be himself.
② Lend Lease: During times of war, the loan of weapons, resources, bases and land to ally nations. This might be a loan, but in the eyes of the enemy, the nation receiving aid still became stronger and would feel troubled. The country being aided have the obligation to pay back the loan, but just like the Soviets borrowing from the United States and refusing to pay them back, the lending party have to be prepared that the loan would be a loss cause.
③ Napoleon: The pride of France during the French Revolution, a soldier cum politician. Just like the guy with a tiny mustache from Germany, in a certain sense, he was an example of the target of ridicule by foreign nations. However, he received high evaluation despite losing the war, so there was no need to worry even if you mention Napoleon in France.