Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Youjo Senki Volume 1 Chapter 3

The Watch Guard on the Rhine
Translators: SifaV6, Skythewood
Editing: Doopington, Rockgollem
Raw provided by: swiss Momo
Version 1.2

Rhine Battlefront

In the skies above the Rhine battlefront, Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff was mixed among the chorus of mages currently taking flight. However, the difference between them was that she was ordered to fly alone.


Because the higher-ups were idiots.

That’s why she was flying in the frontlines like this.

All for just very vague reasons which could be summarized in roughly three lines. Although from the perspective of the Empire, the situation at hand would be considered as an unexpected development, but for the ones that were being deployed onto the battlefield, this was definitely not something which could be dismissed simply by saying it was just an unexpected development.

If she learned anything during her deployment in the northern front, it was that there were no places to take cover in the sky. Apart from clouds, nothing else could be utilized as a method of concealment. Fortunately, mages have a certain degree of resilience in terms of defence.

Although the defense of a mage could be considered as reasonably sturdy and difficult to break through, it was definitely not impenetrable. If asked whether she was willing to stand before sniper rifles which emphasized penetrating power, or machine guns of unspeakable caliber, the answer would without a doubt be, “No”. On top of that, there were no military units that feared isolation more so than mages. Despite all that, the higher-ups still ordered Tanya to fly alone in order to buy time for tactical reasons.

How could a mere Second Lieutenant refuse? Like a salaryman, she could only follow the rules of her employment. The thing which made her want to cry the most was that no noble concept of a right to refuse existed in the military, and the effort she had put into developing her skills in aerial combat had even earned her an Air Combat Technician badge in OCS. At this point, it would be useless for her to cry and say she couldn’t fly.

And so, no matter how unwilling Tanya was, she still had to perform an emergency scramble to lead the way for the ground forces. The mission given was to act as a scout for the air security personnel and defensive frontlines. The call sign assigned to her by the western forces command post was “Hawkeye”. She preferred this much better than “Fairy”.

“Hawkeye 03 to Command Post, please respond.”

Her temporary air security call sign was Hawkeye 03. Her task was to keep her eyes wide, look out for signs of enemy ahead, and report if she detected any hostile force. She would then maintain her distance from the approaching enemy and continue to gather intelligence while engaging them. Depending on the situation, she would need to take on the role of aerial guidance for the advancement of her allies while directly covering for them.

Regrettably, the designated air control officer was captured before he could begin guiding the troops, which made this job difficult beyond expectation.

“... Hawkeye 03 to Command Post, please respond.”

Taking into consideration that the unit had been attacked and radio communications had fallen into chaos, Tanya luckily managed to contact the ground control officer after a repeated number of impatient calls.

“This is the temporary 7th Field Command. Call sign, Lazard 08. Reception is poor but working. Hawkeye 03, please proceed.”

As a matter of fact, an aerial mage with the role of air control and security was essentially just a pair of eyes in the sky, a role in which all enemy units aiming for the ground forces that the pair of eyes is responsible for would designate as their priority target number one. It was the same situation as the one she experienced in Norden. For an army that was unable to maintain neither its air nor magic zone superiority, losing such a mage would be the equivalent of losing their vision, yet despite of this, no one seemed to be aware of just how vulnerable a solitary mage was at being preyed on by the enemy.

There was nothing to be gained if they were left alone, so battle plans would always prioritize taking out such units.

“Lazard 08, acknowledged. I am receiving you clearly. Commencing support operation.”

“Thank you, Hawkeye 03. We are just in need of a pair of eyes. We warmly welcome you!”

However, a newly emergent situation meant she had to pour a bucket of cold water over her allies who were exuberant that they were receiving effective air support.

“Hawkeye 03 to Lazard 08. This might be sudden, but please give up on relying on my support. I have spotted a large number of units to my front.”

In the eyes of a solo mage targeted by the enemy, this couldn’t be helped. If they were attacked the moment they reached their destination, defending themselves took priority over providing intelligence to allies.

Tanya had no intention of displaying her self-sacrifice or taking unnecessary risks. She maintained the highest level of alertness to keep herself safe. No matter what, since she was flying alone, Tanya had to flee the moment she was detected.

Consequently, even though it wasn’t her intention to draw attention, she still used the full potential of the battle-ready Type 95 Operation Orb and increased her speed. Pushing her speed and altitude to the limit, Tanya performed an emergency climb to an altitude that would allow her to escape before the enemy drew near. She accounted for the possibility of anti-air fire and formed a protective membrane immediately beneath her which should be able to withstand a single hit.

The altitude she chose in order to survive was 8000 feet. With the protection of the “Lord,” the Type 95 made various capabilities possible and achieved new limits for the maximum altitude during live combat exercises. According to that madman, this was the fruit borne from the miraculous collaboration between god and men. However, the process that achieved this revolutionary technology was deeply unpleasant for a certain individual. Worst of all, not only was this device cursed, Tanya was the only one who could use it; thus she couldn’t escape her position as its dedicated testing personnel.

From a different angle, one might describe this as a “protection” or a “blessing”, but for Tanya, she was far from willing to give it such credit. It was because of a reason she did not wish to talk about.

In a manga I read in the past, a member of an infamous crime syndicate said that a secret makes a woman more beautiful, but that is definitely a lie. After all, the more you use this orb, the deeper that “faith” is engraved into your psyche. I was changed in such a way that I will praise the lord, and I long for my heart to be free again.

Nevermind. Instead of worrying about that, I should take care of the job before me. Improvisation is fine too. This is what it means to lose your freedom of mind under the pressures of reality.

“Three o’clock, mages roughly the size of a squadron are coming in fast.”

As she increased her altitude, Tanya used the opportunity to report all that she saw to the ground control officer. She grit her teeth, cursing the incompetency of the Imperial military brass in her heart.

The only reason as to why Tanya was currently targeted by the enemy was because the higher-ups had neglected the possibility that the Francois Republic would actually launch a surprise attack; just how could they make such a terrible blunder? Their most egregious mistake was the concentration of the Imperial forces as they tried to stay true to the theory of pursuit battles and attempted to maximize military gains, hoping that they could quickly trample the forces of the Federation. They even had the delusion of annexing the Federation.

Thanks to this, our own territory was only lightly guarded, a foolish move that invited the West to invade. What a tasteless a joke.

According to the national defence strategy of the Empire, the northern forces could easily maintain the battlefront by stalling the enemy. The strategic objective of the northern defenses was to support the eastern forces responsible for the northeastern border against its possible aggressor, the Union. As expected, since the force prioritized defence, it was hard to ask for a “complete” victory by just providing partial reinforcements.

In order to execute the large scale invasion campaign that they never expected to happen, Military Headquarters attempted to mobilize their reserve forces on a grand scale to finish off the Federation once and for all.

However, the mobilization led to a rapid change in the situation. “The art of war is of vital importance to the state①”; planning the military operation of a country requires caution, but the Empire had carelessly mobilized its forces. It most certainly might not have been part of the plan, but this action had already agitated the neighbouring countries.

Just as the Empire had planned on finishing off the Federation in an “all out strike” with the intent of securing a better position for future defenses, the Francois Republic decided to take advantage of weakness in the Empire’s defences and similarly launched an “all out strike” for their own benefit. And the higher ups who created this foolish situation couldn’t do anything but to say that this was unexpected.

For the Empire, this mobilization was targeted at the Federation to resolve matters between the two countries. However for the neighbouring nations that were growing wary of the Empire’s increasing military power, the possibility that the containment net keeping the Empire in check being broken frightened them.

The Francois Republic to the west was even more concerned due to several skirmishes with the Empire in recent years due to territorial disputes. With such a history between them, there was no way they would turn a blind eye to the Empire’s actions.

Feeling the chains that had long been restraining the Empire finally beginning to loosen, in order to completely break free, the owner was forced to take a trip away from home. For the Francois Republic which was under constant pressure due to an inferior military strength, this was an opportunity they couldn’t afford to miss.

Ironically, unlike the Empire which had an intense debate over whether or not they should break through the military deadlock that was in place, the Francois Republic had no choice but to launch an attack in order to safeguard the effectiveness of their own set military strategy.

“Also, I have confirmed a battalion-scale ground unit at one o’clock. On top of that, multiple unidentified aircraft are approaching fast.”

This led to Tanya to having no choice but to take to the sky, and an operation orb she didn’t want was shoved into her hands before she was thrown towards the enemy mages that were now swarming her.

“Lazard 08 acknowledge. We will take evasive action.”

Be it the Empire or Francois Republic, both parties knew each other's capabilities to a certain extent. Of course, the Francois Republic knew the Empire’s internal mobilization strategy and the resulting stalemate because of the containment net.

Practically speaking, the Francois Republic’s defence strategy was focused on how to break through the internal mobilization strategy of their potential enemy, the Empire.

Their answer was simple: after the Empire finished its large scale mobilization, they would send their standing forces to attack bases in the Empire’s west in order to suppress and grind away the Empire’s war potential. Making their move when the Empire invaded some other nation was part of their overall war strategy, a situation they considered and prepared for.

No, strictly speaking, the position of the Republic gave them no choice but to plan their actions based on the premise that the Empire had already made their move. If they ignored the situation, it would be very likely that they would eventually have to face an Empire that had been liberated of the pressure from their northeast border. Hence, they had to act while they still had the upper hand right now.

I see, purely from a historical perspective, the northeast front could be decided in just one go. It would only take an instant. Going by the civilian view, even amateurs knew that the war would end very soon.

The Federation would be powerless to resist and would inevitably surrender to the Empire. This cold analysis was undoubtedly a realistic possibility in the future, but for the experts it was slightly different. It was true that destroying a country in just a few months would be quite rapid, but on a strategic level, tying down a nation’s main forces in one place for several months would be too long.

The standing army would only need a few weeks to finish mobilization and launch their campaign with ample force. With this situation in mind, launching their attack was a tempting option for the Francois Republic. Just like the Empire’s firm belief that their actions would break the chains of the northern front for all these years, the Francois Republic also believed that this move would resolve the national security threat plaguing their homeland.

The priority was the achievement of victory in the northern theater. In other words, the higher-ups stressed that this was a strategic level decision… That’s how it was. They were either too stupid to think of this possibility, or they thought about it but underestimated the gravity of the situation.

In the end, they were much too hasty when it came to directing a war. “A brilliant strategy for the Empire to avoid fighting on multiple fronts, and the sound of the artillery will soon herald the arrival of a new world order!” Such foolish propaganda had been broadcast repeatedly after the initial victory in the northern war zone arbitrarily stopped when the Francois Republic mercilessly launched their surprise attack. However for the people in the frontlines, the only use the propaganda had was to be the butt of jokes for a method to pass the time by mocking the foolishness of the higher-ups. At most, it made them want to scream that if the military brass were able to spare the effort to send over such useless propaganda to the frontlines, they should hurry up and send more men and resources over.

Instead of righteousness and ideology, it would be troublesome if they didn’t deal with the reality before them.

“The vanguard of the enemy mage squadrons have already spotted me, and is approaching fast.”

Reality was cruel and simple. The troops stationed at the Western Front were forced to be a punching bag that was unable to strike back until the main forces returned from the north. Even the Training Department had to dispatch their prototypical units onto the frontlines under the pretext of it being part of a live combat evaluation, which was definitely a sign that suggested the Empire has been pushed to its limits.

For the experimental and research-oriented troops of the Training Department to have been committed to the frontlines, such a move was usually only done when a country was just steps away from destruction. Of course, these units all possessed a certain amount of training and could be utilized for emergencies, which was why Tanya, who was supposed to remain behind in the laboratories of the homeland, ended up in the frontlines due to her nation’s panic when faced with the current unexpected development on the western front.

“Lazard 08 to Hawkeye 03. We will send support immediately.”

“Hawkeye 03 to Lazard 08. I won’t be expecting much, but thank you for your help.”

Tanya responded back and began to exit the battle zone at the same time. She was permitted to retreat at her own discretion this time, so she might as well make the most out of it.

“I will be leaving this airspace.”

“Hawkeye 03, best of luck!”

On the battlefield, support from allies might be your only hope. Yet in actual fact, reinforcements arriving in time was a rare occurrence, as Tanya knew very well from history and her past experience. Holding expectations for unreliable reinforcements and betting one’s life on optimistic speculations were examples of foolishness; that was why she decided to focus on making a retreat.

“Hawkeye 03, acknowledged.”

Considering the cards she had on hand, Tanya could not help but to turn melancholic. However, on her vexed and bitter face was the awareness that she still had to face reality. Her blue eyes, that were like a philosopher craving for the wisdom of mankind, showed anxiety and annoyance; a small child-like groan could be heard escaping from her petite mouth, it was the display of wrath over the current unreasonable situation.

“... Ugh…”

However, the worries of Tanya Degurechaff were very simple. It was the anger of forcing her to perform a task which was above that of her pay grade, and the resentment over a black-hearted career that couldn’t completely guarantee safety guidelines. This made her willing to accept the existence of labor unions and wished from the bottom of her heart for labour laws to be passed.

It could be said that this was a result of the dissatisfaction of an individual against the logically reasonable actions performed by the military. In order to relieve the fatigue of all aviation personnel so that they could maintain concentration during consecutive days of intense battle, the military would generously supply them with food containing high amounts of calories. In fact, having a high calorie diet was an obligation for the mages and pilots in the Imperial military.

But even so, when asked regarding the subject about the consumption of methamphetamine②, things became slightly complicated for Tanya. However, the more pressing matter that she was hesitating at the moment was something far worse than any drug out there, given in the form of the collaboration between that madman and a certain Existence X, to which Tanya had already received instructions that she was to make use of it as her final trump card. I really should have tossed it away long ago.

That was just how unwilling she was about using the Type 95. From the bottom of her heart she did not wish to ever use the operation orb that had been blessed by the gods, but what if she end up in a situation where she must rely on it in order to survive? It really was the most troublesome dilemma that Tanya had ever faced.

For the 228th Mage Recon Squadron of the Republic commanded by First Lieutenant Michel Housman, today should have been just like any other day. The unit at the furthest forefront of the Francois Republic had successfully conducted a tactical surprise attack. For vanguards like them, even if the effect of the surprise attack was wearing off and their mission was relabelled as an assault, the essence remained the same.

Robbing the eyes of the Imperial army that was trying to recover from chaos on one end and cutting off their communications on the other. Isolating the enemy forces and stopping them from building an organized line of defence, and assisting the troops that would be following to widen the breach. It was the same charge this group of veterans led by First Lieutenant Housman had received a few days ago.

However, on the actual battlefield, there was no foreshadowing of things like in the novels or the movies. Not for any given situation.

“Golf 01 to CP (Command Post). Encountered enemy sentry.”

“CP, acknowledged. We believe it is a lookout posted by nearby combatants. Eliminate them immediately, and continue searching for the location of the main enemy force.”

An unlucky fellow. That was the impression First Lieutenant Housman had. After all, that mage was being chased by a squadron of mages, and on top of that, it was his squadron, the vanguard of the entire army. The difference in strength was obvious. That was why the enemy mage chose to flee when he caught sight of us.

Based on the way the enemy had responded, Housman immediately understood that the opponent was highly skilled and capable of making quick decisions. After all, he had already climbed to an impractical altitude of 8000 feet. That was the reason why Michel thought the mage was unlucky. No matter how much skill one possesses, unlucky soldiers never live long.

“Golf 01, acknowledged. But an altitude of 8000 feet, what a desperate height…”

Even though the opponent seemed to be well aware of the difficulties involved in maintaining such altitude for long periods of time, but in order to escape, there was no other choice. Housman too was well aware of this fact. The only available options was to either flee to a place where the enemy would be hesitant to follow, or to fly at a low altitude and leave the rest to fate.

Normally, for units engaged in long-distance attack expeditions, they had a tendency of avoiding situations such as requiring to climb to an altitude of 8000 feet in order to conserve their energy. The opponent had the right mindset.

“However, the phrase, ‘It’s too high to reach!’ is only reserved for children. Brothers, let us begin our work in a gentlemanly fashion!”

Not allowing any enemy mages they encountered to escape so easily, for Housman, there was no room for discussion when considering the content of his mission.

“You all heard that? Good, Flight Mike will eliminate the sentry. Everyone else follow me to conduct force recon. We will then break through the enemy defence line.”

With the defence line of the Empire still in a very much weakened state, the situation at hand was greatly in favor of the Republic to win. This was the principle to which everyone involved in the operation believed in, regardless of whether they were a general or a private. They mustn’t allow the temporary defence line to stall their own advance which could lead to the main enemy forces returning on time to defend.

That was the reason the reconnaissance mage units were expected to further disrupt the enemy defence line by performing force recon, which was to offensively engage the enemy defence line to collect intelligence. If they succeeded in disrupting the line, gaps in the enemy would appear. Aware that the responsibility of leading the Republic to victory relied on their soldiers, they bore the resolve to never retreat.

“Acknowledged, I will catch up in a while.”

After the flight leader had said this, Mike’s Flight climbed rapidly in pursuit. Naturally, even for the elites of the Republic, it was difficult for them to overcome the issues experienced at an altitude of 8000 feet. Typically speaking, the standard altitude for combat was 4000 feet. 6000 feet was considered as the limit for aerial mages.

In this sense, the enemy was quite smart in choosing the altitude of 8000 feet. In actual fact, this pursuit would probably drain the combat potential of Mike’s flight, reducing the overall combat strength of the recon squadron into two flights. From the perspective of acting as decoy and dragging out the battle, the sentry contributed wonderfully. We are fighting an opponent that is worthy of our respect.

“Engage. Fox One, Fox One③!”

First Lieutenant Housman who was lost in thoughts suddenly had his focus broken by the radio message. Fulfilling his responsibility as a squadron leader, he listened to his subordinate announcing the firing of long-ranged spell missiles. At the same time, the enemy soldier before them made a new move. He probably realized there was no escape. The enemy turned abruptly and charged towards Mike’s flight as if he was hunting them. It appears that he was taking the offensive.

“Fox Two, Fox Two! Impossible— he dodged that!”

The confused voice that was conveyed through the radio contained a mixture of emotions such as confusion and surprise that he was being counter attacked, as well as the shock that his attack was being evaded. In a blink of an eye, the distance between Mike’s Flight and the enemy mage had shortened considerably all the while as they speculated the enemy’s intentions.

It was rather far away, but when Housman had sensed that Mike’s Flight was starting to get serious, he was certain they could handle the situation. Was the enemy trying to stall for more time through close quarters engagement? For a tactic that was adopted on the fly, this wasn’t a bad choice. However, the opponent was not a Squadron, but a Flight. The teamwork that was possible in a Flight made harassment tactics difficult, and the combat disparity was despairingly high for a lone mage to take on. He respected the courage and determination of the opponent, but this was a foolhardy move.

“Enemy charging! Scatter! Scatter!”

At the same moment, Mike’s Flight had spread out, changing their formation to counter melee combat. Their goal was to eliminate the eyes of the enemy and support their own follow-up attacks. The opponent they were engaging might not know yet, but the mission of the reconnaissance squadron was completed the moment he was spotted. If the enemy’s “eyes” were to be taken out, there would be nothing else to worry about even if they were stalled for a short while.

“Three-burst crossfire! Prepare your spells! Firing, Fox Three! Fox Three!”

Deliberately keeping some distance away to intercept the enemy’s attack while maintaining their crossfire zone, the teamwork and skill of Housman’s subordinates were as good as the ideal textbook level. The enemy mage had entered the firing line of bullets infused with magic. Even if the opponent had the advantage in speed, it would not be difficult to score a hit for the waiting defenders.

But what happened next was beyond the expectation of First Lieutenant Housman and his men. The enemy definitely suffered a direct hit. The volley fire shot via the method of Regulated Shooting which contained military-grade explosive spells that could easily dissipate a mage’s protective membrane and even pierce through tough outer protection barrier had hit the target straight on.

“Fox Three! Fox Three! Damn it! Why is he so tough?!”

The moment multiple bullets with embedded spells activated, the enemy mage was engulfed in flames. Even though this happened—

“That thing” continued to advance unabated, as if it was flying in a deserted air space, closing the distance fearlessly. By instinct rather by logic they realized the current situation had progressed to a point beyond terrible. However, humans as a whole had already lost their primal senses with the advent of civilization.

“Mike 03! Check Six④! Check Six! Ahh, damn it!”

In a blink of an eye, “that thing” dashed into the arms of his subordinate and a mage bayonet had ominously sprouted from behind his chest. Followed after was the motion of blade swing which had cleanly cut him apart from torso to torso, almost as if the actions of cutting food apart on the dinner plate.

“Pan-pan, Pan-pan, Pan-pan!⑤”

“What is that!? What is that! That bastard! Damn it, Fox Four!”

A series of complex radio messages was exchanged. What was that? What the hell was that? Through the lens of his binoculars, Housman focused his eyes on the scene unfolding before him. The terrible sight made him doubt his eyes. In terms of aerial maneuvering, Mike’s Flight was the best in the Squadron. They were being toyed with? … “Impossible—” he mumbled unconsciously. Can a mage really be capable of… doing this?

“Mike One? Mike One?"

When Housman came to his senses, Mike’s Flight was akin to being paralyzed from the waist down. Mike 01 and Mike 03 were downed, the receiver from Mike 04’s operation orb was probably hit, and he was losing altitude fast. Mike 02 was barely hanging on while covering for Mike 04, and wouldn’t last long either.

“Damn it, Flight Bravo, Flight Golf, turn back! Turn back! We are covering Flight Mike.”

There was no way First Lieutenant Housman could ignore the plight of his subordinates. He hastily ordered the flights under his command to turn back and cover Flight Mike at full speed.

But the question, “How?” remained in his heart. The abilities of mages might differ from individual to individual, but could a mage be that good? According to rumours, some of the magicians from the Empire possessed specially calibrated operation orbs, and used the large amount of mana they were born with to arm themselves.

Even so, they could match a two-man team at most. Even those Named-level monsters were mostly fellows that utilized hit and run tactics. In a battle between mages, it was unbelievable for someone to fight an entire Flight head on, instead of taking out mages one at a time.

“The enemy is within range!”

However, as the squadron captain, Housman didn’t have time to worry about it. The Bandit is within shooting range. Wipe away all the distractions from my mind, and give the instruction to snipe from long distance in flight formation. It is a bit far, but it is impossible for the Regulated Shooting from two flights to miss.

The opponent must have realized this too. Adhering to textbook air combat theory, he began taking evasive maneuvers. Everything until this point was acceptable...but the question was, how was he darting around so deftly, as if gravity wasn’t applicable to him?

“Fox One! Fox One!”

And the most unbelievable thing was—no, the nightmarish thing was the toughness of the opponent’s protective membrane. Even though long distance attacks primarily emphasized on accuracy, there was still an explosion spell mixed in with the homing spell. Even if he dodged all the attacks, there was no way he could avoid the explosion that covered the entire sky.

But the enemy wasn’t fazed and started counterattacking, making one wonder whether this was a joke.

“I’m charging! Cover me!”

Golf 02 probably thought it would be useless to carry on shooting. He drew his close quarters magic bayonet and charged with a roar. That was the right judgement. No matter how tough one’s defence was, it would be impossible to remain unscathed after suffering a hit from a magic bayonet at close distance. Since long range shooting couldn’t finish off the enemy, focusing fire was also a reasonable strategy.

“Got it! Fox Two, Fox Two!”

In response to his charge, the entire flight advanced into mid range, knowing that it would be difficult to evade at such a distance. It was a skillful display of simultaneous volley fire, the tradition of the Republic, famed among nations as the “Named Killers.” With six sniping spells and one explosion spell used in place of a smoke grenade, their supporting fire hit the enemy mage directly… That is what should have happened.

“He’s still there? How is that possible!?”
“Golf 02, break! Break!”

Despite suffering the blanketing mid-range fire, the enemy mage was still alive. He could still fly after eating sniping spells that could pierce half-baked protection barriers? Even though they witnessed such an absurd scene, they didn’t have time to think about the question.

As for Golf 02, who tried to attack from close range, he barely managed to escape because of the covering fire of Mike 02. On top of that, the shots from the enemy mage shredded the protection membrane of their allies as if it was nothing, taking out two members in no time.

“We were tricked! Damn bastard!”

No matter how unwilling Housman was, he still understood that he had been had.

The evasive actions and climbing to 8000 feet was a scam. A move to split our forces. It was common sense that combat maneuvers were impossible at 8000 feet…but that has been turned on its head. He played us like a damn fiddle, I made such a stupid mistake and my subordinates are being taken out one by one. Biting his lower lip, First Lieutenant Housman find it hard to swallow the rage of his subordinates being hurt, but he understood the situation he was in. They encountered a monster—an unknown Named.

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday! We have encountered a new type of enemy mage!”

“Damn it! And they claimed it would be an easy victory! Golf 01 to CP, emergency report! We have encountered an unknown Named, please permit us to RTB (Return to Base) and send reinforcements.”

Imperial Technology Research Laboratory Investigation Committee

Just utilizing the latest technology wasn’t good enough for a new type of weapon. The production cost, maintainability, and operative efficiency are all elements that dictated the value of new weapons. On the other hand, there were many elements that could only be evaluated after using it in a live situation on the frontlines.

It might be the worst news for the Military Headquarters, but the war which had broken out on the western borders with the Francois Republic was the perfect opportunity for the Type 95 Development Team to conduct their live battle experiment. With the entire research team mobilized, they hoped the Type 95 could be proven to be combat-ready in the battle. However, the results had exceeded their expectations in a spectacular manner.

“How was the battle?”

“Exceptional. Downed six, damaged three, three missing in action. According to the surveillance report, it was unlikely that the three that went missing will return to their base.”

It was acceptable even if the experiment ended in failure; it was a weapon that was completed through a miraculous experiment after all. However the experimental usage yielded amazing results. The accomplishment of the Type 95 was enough to earn the delighted personnel involved in the research plenty of acclamations.

And of course, the skill of the user played a major role. Second Lieutenant Degurechaff’s skill was indeed worthy of being awarded the Silver Wing Assault medal. Yet that wasn’t enough to display such a disparity in fighting prowess and obtain such excellent results.

“She literally took out an entire squadron by herself.”

She didn’t down all the mages, but still fended off one whole squadron. This could only mean she had an overwhelming advantage in terms of quality. It was hard proof that the theoretical values had been shown to be possible in a practical settings.

“Yes, to think it would reach such a level.”

Judging by common sense, this was an unbelievable result. Aside from revolutionary, there was no other words that could describe this. With this new technology, battle on a different level had made its debut.

“That’s right. Judging from the Elin Laboratory’s results, I thought it was a terribly flawed device.”

The general officers who once doubted the practicality of continuing research lamented. After opening the cover of the after action report to check on the things that he had been worried about, only to find extraordinary results that wiped away all the failures so far in one shot. Since such a result was achieved, all the things that happened in the past were worth it. Even the cost could be minimized through mass production.

“No, the device is flawed.”

Yet a cold bucket of water was thrown in response to the compliment that was filled with admiration. The research department was well aware of the thought processes behind those from the operation side. A revolutionary technology, and hopes for a revolutionary improvement in quality. If the research department had to comment, they would tell you that was unfortunately a fantasy.

Since it was just a fantasy, they had to wake them up from it early.

“What do you mean? From the battle results, it was beyond our expectations.”

“That’s true. This is a product that can change the face of mage battles.”

The Type 95 had indeed achieved fantastic results. It was a fact. The performance was also vastly better than the current generation, calling it a next, next generation product would not be an exaggeration. The quad-core synchronization structure made the stabilization of mana in its physical form possible, allowing one to store and use it in live combat. The technology to turn this fantasy into reality made the operations officers drool.

After all, the technology to stabilize mana in a physical form like bullets provided limitless tactical potential. Using stored mana to fight meant the normal mana limitations had been removed.

“All the worries and critique raised in the past have been refuted in live battle. That’s how I understand this.”

This was the mutter of a certain general-rank staff officer. In reality, the facts trumped any debate.The synchronized quad-core made quadruple output a reality, raising combat prowess to a brand new realm. After learning the technology could work, the operation side craved to have it.

“There is only one successful case. Aside from the goal of testing this technology, the project was a complete failure.”

Nonetheless, from the perspective of the researchers, they didn’t commit the Type 95 into live combat in order to promote its technology. From the current situation, they wanted to find out where problems were, and so they pushed for its deployment when war broke out in the west. Putting the scientific studies aside, there was never any consideration of mass producing it.

“What happened to the other cases?”

The most successful case was also the only successful case after all. If they didn’t have any idea how to manufacture it normally, it would be doubtful if they could even make another one. For a technology specific to users that were difficult to find, having just one person who could use the Orb successfully made it impossible to mass produce this weapon.

“In one of the worst cases, the entire laboratory exploded, and an entire team was lost.”

It had a tendency to explode after all; something that will disintegrate on itself if the circuit was not perfect. If the Orb was successfully covered just once, it could be used freely in the future; this had been proven to work in live combat. Still, the success rate of the critical covering was despairingly low.

The worst case was after the failure to synchronize, quadruple the amount of mana exploded, blowing the team performing the test into dust. These included the trainers dispatched by the Training Department from central, and elites from the advanced technology testing team.

“...But, this can enhance magic powers right? It has a charm that makes it hard to let go.”

“The only one who can use it properly is Second Lieutenant Degurechaff. The best the other testing personnels could do is to not get blown up.”

As the developers and as researchers, they had to give a stern warning because of their ethics. The researchers who pushed for research to continue placed their efforts only on revolutionizing the scientific aspect, pursuing “the limit of what they could currently achieve,” but after thinking it through calmly, they are the ones who best understood the danger and difficulty of this new technology.

They had to understand this point.

“Isn’t there a successful case? Why don’t you just recreate that situation?”

“...Elin Laboratory almost disappeared. For the successful case of Second Lieutenant Degurechaff, even though I shouldn’t be saying this as a researcher, was the result of incredible coincidence.”

The level of danger in stabilizing mana in physical form through synchronizing quad cores was much higher than predicted. This was proven by analyzing the observed results after the experiment. The test succeeded miraculously, but if it failed, judging from the amount of mana that was measured, the entire Elin Laboratory would have been turned to ashes. Going by rational decision-making, they couldn’t afford to carry out another experiment as any failure would be devastating.

“You mentioned coincidence?”

“The instant when the mana went out of control and the core was about to break apart, the interference wave just happened to be in sync, and the core barely managed to be synchronized right before it fell apart.”

For the researchers, it was a mind blowing result, but they succeeded in the end in a baffling manner. They only knew that the out of control mana just happened to fuse together. Even if they wanted to test it one step further, in the end, they could only say that it was a coincidence.

If one really wanted to push it, it might be possible to recreate this situation by letting the mana go out of control and adjusting it skillfully...but such a conclusion was useless. This wasn’t a result that could be recreated normally. This was like seeing a lightning strike that just happened to carve out a masterpiece sculpture, and trying to recreate it manually by hand.

“Hence, the out of control mana triggered the phenomenon of the mana stabilizing in physical form. Simply put, this is a miraculous coincidence.”

Even on the experimental report, Engineering Director Schugel also noted that “success was only possible through the act of god,” which showed just how miraculous it was. An event that was nigh impossible. A coincidence that happened which was beyond the understanding of mankind.

Even Engineering Director Schugel who completed the Type 95 gave up on developing it. He expressed the conclusion that ”Continuing would be a sacrilege on this miracle, an arrogant move that disrespects god.” Even this through-and-through scientific expert concluded that “only the one chosen by god can use this tool,” which went to show how difficult it was.

“Which means?”

“Something baffling happened in a baffling condition, and it is being used right now. That is the current situation.”

Anyway, that was what they knew. Be it the principle behind it, or recreating it again, would require huge amount of time and effort. And no matter how they calculated the probability, the numbers were not worth betting on.

“Might as well hail Second Lieutenant Degurechaff as a hero, that might be a better deal.”

“...I agree. This will yield greater benefits.”

Fortunately, Second Lieutenant Degurechaff was quite young—to put it simply, she was a talent who received the Silver Wing Assault medal at such a tender age. Complimenting her capabilities would make things easier for political propaganda.

Cadet Corps Dormitory

I, Victoria Ivanovna Serbiakof am a early riser.

“Visha! Rise and shine, Visha!”

“Uuughhhh, morning, Erya.”

Truthfully speaking this is because my beautiful friend will always wake me up; that’s why I could maintain my early-rising lifestyle. Not only was the kind-hearted Erya taller than me, she had a great figure with all the right curves despite being slender. Although she had such a great figure, she didn’t suffer from low blood pressure in the morning, and had a considerate personality.

I was shorter than her by just one centimeter and was thin too, but the heavens were really unfair. Erya had the same lifestyle as me, but her growth in specific parts of the body differed so much from me, which was hard to accept.

No matter who it was, after enrolling in the Cadet Corp, they would want to sleep for longer inside their warm beds. Chatting all night long with friends from the dormitory was one of the few pleasures we could indulge in after all. Erya really loves chatting through the night. Most of the time, I would retire to bed earlier than her.

Despite that, she always gets up earlier than me, that’s just plain unreasonable. This meant that no matter how much effort I put in, the difference between individuals are simply difficult to overcome.

I might be saying that, but I don’t hate this kind friend of mine.

Even if one doesn’t wish to, those who had the potential to be mages would be drafted forcefully, and dumped into the Cadet Corp to receive training. Forced to live a stringent and disciplined lifestyle, filled with the unending lectures of demonic drill instructors. The reason I wasn’t blaming god all the time was because of this wonderful acquaintance.

But my days together with this good friend of mine would probably end today. I didn’t feel this way all this while, but today, Erya and I will be assigned to a combat unit. I hope we could be posted to the same unit, but I probably couldn’t expect too much.

Instead of wearing uniforms, it was more like the uniforms wearing us, yet we were still real soldiers. Fate gave us the potential to be mages for unknown reasons.

And so, we became Imperial mages feared throughout the world. More accurately speaking, we were going to be rookies soon. Before I knew it, I became a reinforcement sent to the Rhine battlefront to the west and was dumped in the dormitory of the western army.

Due to my obligation as a soldier, I had to act as a shield for the beloved fatherland in the dangerous west, working diligently to secure the borders…or something like that. As a citizen of the almighty Empire, I did think about fighting for the glory of the country, but I always felt that I was too insignificant to matter. This couldn’t be helped, after all, my birthplace was the beautiful Moscow that was white with snow. What I could recall from that time was vague, and there was remnants of unpleasant memories of widespread communism too. Thanks to that, I experienced life as a refugee with my parents as we journeyed to seek safety with our relatives. I was young back then, so those days were just a blurry past to me, but I still feel unqualified as an Imperial soldier.

But I am very grateful to my uncle and aunt who took me in. In second place was god who blessed me with food every day.

“Bon appetit.”

Unlike the meals in the rear, the NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) mess in the front mainly consisted of vegetables that weren’t too fresh and canned food, and I have gotten used to them. Even the meal that tasted like a combat ration which made me cry a little when I reported to the unit on the first day seemed to taste better now.

“Are you listening, Visha? I heard the flight you are assigned to will be lead by a new flight leader.”

Meal time was the time when everyone gathered together to chat happily. And considering the time and place, the topic would always drift to our postings.

“Really? How is it possible to assign a new flight leader at a time like this?”

“It’s true!”

“Erya, calm down.”

However, most of them were baseless rumours. I once heard that the if you stay in a unit long enough, you would be able to find out about your posting, and even the posting of your colleagues, which sounded probable. But of course, even though we were NCOs, mages fresh from the Cadet Corp like us couldn’t even tell our own bearing in the army; seeking out such information would be impossible.

That might be so, but I was very concerned about my posting. Also my friend had a knack with odd pieces of news.

“But is it true? We are reinforcements, will they really let us form a new flight in the frontlines?”

“Visha, that might be so in theory, but I guarantee that this is true. After all, I heard the manpower officers say so with my own ears.”

Though the thing I was most concerned about was where did Erya hear all this news from? They weren’t grade school teachers; would manpower officers from the military discuss posting issues in the presence of others? …I better not think too much.

“Erya…Sometimes I wonder if you are a ninja that came from the far east.”

“Hahaha. A woman has her secrets, comrade Victoria.”

“Alrighty. By the way, you know where this flight will be assigned to?”

“Ah, it’s not forming a new flight, but replacement in a flight that was wiped out… that’s basically it. Don’t worry, I heard the flight leader is a veteran soldier who possesses the Silver Wings medal.”

For a brief moment, I didn’t understand what I just heard. When I came to my senses, my idling brain reacted immediately due to shock.

“Silver Wings? …You mean the Silver Wings Assault Medal!?”

“Ohh, look how panicky you are.”


“Visha has an expressive face as usual.”

My friend controlled her volume expertly, laughing softly without drawing attention from the other people in the mess; I will thank her later. But to think someone could receive the Silver Wings Assault Medal alive… Rather than being an amazing imperial soldier, that was more like being an amazing human being.

“Oh right, you know about your own posting too, right?”

“That’s right. I will be a forward observation officer supporting the artillery. In charge of slacking off in the rear.”

“You… If you are careless, who knows what might happen.”

I might be saying that, but the news that my friend would be staying in a safe place made me so envious and relieved.

“Uh-oh, you are taking it too easy, meal time is almost over. Hurry up and eat, Visha.”

“Mhm, okay… eh, where did my caramel go?”

“Ohh, since you didn’t touch it, I helped you eat it.”

After all, this mischievous person who always makes me angry was my most important friend.

(Several days prior) Imperial Capital


A reassignment notice given out by the Technology Research Department that made her the test personnel for the Type 95 and treated her like a guinea pig. Second Lieutenant Mage Tanya Degurechaff, who was longed for this day after spending each day as if it was a year, accepted the notice with a heart full of satisfaction. Finally… Her application was approved. Her psyche could be liberated. She couldn’t wait to head for her new posting immediately.

“It’s a reassignment alright. The higher-ups didn’t plan to let an Ace idle around. You will be assigned to the 205th assault mage squadron as the leader of flight number three.”

Considering the fact that the Training Department had to join the battle, it couldn’t be helped if her posting was to the frontlines. Or rather, a mage from OCS being assigned to be a flight leader in the front lines was much better than being toyed with as a guinea pig in the lab.

She would finally have subordinates serving under her. She could now delegate the tasks that she had to handle alone in the past. Even if it left an unfavourable impression with the higher ups, in the worst case scenario, the subordinates could be used as human shields. Never mind, she wouldn’t do that unless they were very incompetent. No matter what, this was something to be happy about.

“And congratulations, Second Lieutenant. According to your merits in the earlier battle, we have decided to award you with the Flying Assault medal, but this might pale in comparison compared to the Silver Wing,.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

Tanya even answered simply with a smile that befitted her age. She then returned to the dormitory in high spirits and packed her luggage quickly. Still, soldiers don't have many personal belongings anyway. Even though she was biologically a girl, Tanya feels that clothes just needed to be clean and neat. The clothes she owned were just uniforms. However, as all the standard sizes didn’t fit her, she had no choice but to apply for a uniform allowance to have them made custom.

Even so, she didn’t even need an hour to pack this much of her belongings into her officer luggage bag. She informed the head of the temporary dormitory about her reassignment and appointment letter, and thanked him for taking care of her for this period of time. Her paperwork was done.

After that, she immediately headed for her assigned unit. In the end, this was an assignment out in the frontlines, so she could save the hassle of social etiquette such as farewell parties, and she wanted to take up the post as soon as possible. Hence, after receiving permission to fly from the Air Defence Identification Zone⑥, she immediately placed her packed luggage onto her back, and flew towards the assigned allied forces rendezvous point.

Fortunately, despite the war being waged, this was still movement between places in the rear lines. After completing the safe, short flight that took less than two hours, Tanya arrived at the base and presented herself before her squadron captain, reporting her assignment loudly:

“I am Second Lieutenant Mage Tanya Degurechaff, 3rd flight leader of the 205th assault mage squadron, reporting for duty.”

“Well met, Second Lieutenant. First, let me welcome you. I am the squadron captain, First Lieutenant Iren Schwarzkopf.”

As he faced the flight leader reporting duty with her assignment orders in hand, the squadron leader confirmed the document as he welcomed Tanya and completed the assignment orders. The two conversed as per military guideline about the business at hand also sized each other up with their eyes. After all, both of them were soldiers, and couldn’t choose the person who would be fighting on their side. Since there wasn’t a choice, they would like to know the character of the other person at the very least, or they wouldn’t be able to survive in the battlefield. This was a logical conclusion.

“Yes, Squadron Captain Schwarzkopf. Pleased to meet you.”

“Very good. Let us get to the point, Lieutenant Degurechaff. How is your experience with leading a flight?”

The thing that made Tanya happy was that from a first impression, the commanding officer she was assigned under was an orthodox mage. A First Lieutenant squadron captain. From his age, he probably served in the military for many years. Other than that, she could deduce from the medals he was wearing that he had plenty of combat experience.

Especially the medals commemorating his participation in numeral small scale battles; they were proof of his abilities. So from the first impression, Tanya didn’t need to worry about him being an incompetent superior that would be more frightening than the enemy. As she couldn’t choose her commanding officer, if he was like the legendary fellow who caused the collapse of the Burma-Imphal battlefront, she would have no choice but to mourn her lack of luck.

“This is my first time after being commissioned.”

First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf was also observing Second Lieutenant Degurechaff. He couldn’t deny that he felt baffled when a child had brazenly walked to his desk in the Squadron Command office. The message from the higher-ups only mentioned about sending him a mage with combat experience in the northern frontlines, and had a stint in the Training Department in Central.

First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf had previously envisioned in his mind a hardened veteran who had started from the very bottom of the ladder and climbed up to where he was now. After all, it was the norm for one to think a Second Lieutenant from the Training Department would be someone who had experienced a fair amount of battle, and being the veteran he is, it would be good to rely on in many ways. On top of that, as the possessor of the Silver Wing Assault medal, it would definitely mean that he would be highly experienced and a capable soldier. That’s why when he saw this brat who was younger than his daughter performing a crisp salute, he had second thoughts about leaving the most troublesome flight that only a veteran could handle into her hands.

“...Second Lieutenant, I will be frank.”

If her resume wasn’t forged and there wasn’t any misunderstanding in between, the Second Lieutenant who was waiting for the First Lieutenant to speak was indeed an important asset who had achieved amazing merits and was sent by the higher-ups to the west in order to deal with the precarious western battlefront. However, being a great athlete was different from being a great coach, and the situation made him bear worries akin to that.

“According to regulations, our 205th Assault Mage squadron should have three flights, but actually, since the early days of the war, our numbers dwindled to below two flights, and there hasn’t been any replacement for the longest time.”

That’s why a new flight leader and members were assigned to the squadron. Realistically speaking, even if the entire flight was comprised of newly minted recruits, First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf knew he had no grounds to complain. Although that was why he hoped the flight leader in charge would be an experienced veteran.

“...Can you command a flight comprised of recruits from the Cadet Corps?”

Saying it in a brutally honest way, a flight leading rookies couldn’t contribute, and were just a burden. No, more than a burden. This was expected; they wouldn’t be having such a hard time if they could spare the effort to babysit kids while waging a war.

Depending on how the question was answered, he would decide if an immediate change in personnel was warranted. In response, Second Lieutenant Degurechaff simply answered:

“Please give me the orders to do so.”

She didn’t waste any breath, just a solemn tone of describing the truth. Despite that, her eyes that was looking back at Schwarzkopf was rebellious pride and frustration that her abilities was being questioned.

“And I will get it done.”

Her words also displayed her unwavering confidence. This answer was beyond his expectations. Since a combat veteran said, “Please give the orders”, he had to believe the orders would definitely be carried out; this was the first step of building trust.

“Alright, I have high expectations of you, possessor of the Silver Wing Assault medal.”

“Yes Sir!”

Mainly because she hailed from the Training Department and bore the Silver Wing Assault medal, she was worthy of this level of trust.

Tanya also realized that First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf only accepted her words because of the medal she was wearing. Which meant that the worth of Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff was just this medal.

From this alone, Tanya was very grateful for having received the Silver Wing Assault medal. However, she didn’t wish to be regarded as just a complimentary item that came with the medal and hoped to cast aside the nickname of “Mithril” as soon as possible. Yet apart from causing Tanya to unable to pass her SAN Checks, the current situation did not result in any real harm, and could be considered as something which brings a positive light to her overall evaluation.

Well, overall Tanya welcomed it. Under her soldierly expression, Tanya calculated her gains and losses. Receiving good will and praise was much better than hostility and insult.

“Very well. I will explain the situation.”

“Yes, please.”

And so, the two who judged each other positively decided to trust the other party for now, and focus on their own obligation and tasks. What will follow next would be time for work.

“As you already know, the main force of our nation is being mustered and organized right now.”

After the Empire was hit by the strategic sneak attack of the Francois Republic, they fell into confusion in the beginning, but judging from the first engagement, the Empire had mostly responded well, and was maintaining the front lines despite the lack of manpower. It didn’t change the fact that they were being suppressed, but this was part of their national policy of the Internal Mobilization Strategy. Judging from this, even though the western forces received reinforcement from garrison units in central, they still fulfilled their defensive obligation.

“That might be so…but they would need some time before reaching the western front to reinforce us.”

There was only one problem. The reserves’ forces and standing army had already been committed to the north in accordance to the strategy to resolve the issue of Norden once and for all, as decided by the big wigs in Military Headquarters. Therefore, they couldn’t carry out the national defence plan that had been drawn up earlier.

“The western forces would like to obtain reinforcements as soon as possible, but it was estimated that this would take some time.”

According to the original plan, within 24 hours of mobilization orders, including the standing defence division that would move out first, there would be three divisions that would provide emergency reinforcements. In 72 hours, ten divisions would be dispatched from central. As for the continental army headquarters, they would commit twenty regular divisions and sixty divisions of reservist forces within a week, a truly overwhelming scale of military strength.

That was why the western forces never imagined that they would need to conduct a battle to stall for almost a month. And of course, since the plan took reinforcements into consideration, the aim of stalling the overall battle progression was to minimize the personnel losses of the western forces.

The strategy the western forces had was just a limited defense plan that wasn’t grand enough to launch a major counter offensive.

Despite ignoring this precondition, the price of recklessly committing large forces into Norden was more serious than imagined.

The higher-ups had panicked, and their attitude when they mobilized the Training Department as reinforcement to shore up the western defense line made this fact clear. Even the Type 95, prohibited from being taken out of the national lab as it was a top military secret, was brought here by Tanya in the name of continuing its evaluation test.

Their hand might have been forced because of the changing battlefield, but the situation was so dire that the military brass couldn’t spare the effort keeping it a secret, so there was no way they could carry out the defense plans that were normally already drawn up.

The continental army, which was viewed as the main force of the Empire, had been deployed to the north because of the error in strategic judgement. Reorganizing and redeploying the units would only take a short period of time physically, but from the relative perspective of the military, it would be very long.

“How goes the mustering of reinforcements?”

It was easy to tell that they had not thought ahead of the need to spread out their forces, which made the situation even more troubling. Even a well planned operation was difficult to execute perfectly without hiccups, and even more so for such an impromptu maneuver.

Hence, one couldn’t expect much from the current mustering of reinforcements. After understanding this point, how slow the reinforcement would actually be and how that would impact the battlefront was a matter of life and death for the western forces. It was also the main concern of the Imperial soldiers who had to stand fast at the very front before the continental army arrived.

“Not looking good. As most of the delivery trucks had been sent to the north, it would take about two weeks to redeploy the units to the west.”

First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf seemed to have doubts about the wait being just two weeks. HQ will always give optimistic timelines in terms of reinforcements. He already learned this fact during previous combat experiences.

Redeployment sounds simple, but it wasn’t just reorganizing the units and set up a new command structure; the units and men also needed to be resupplied before they could move out, not an easy task to be implemented in real life. Just moving an army would consume resources. Not just in terms of fuel for transport, intangible factors such as fatigue could not be ignored as well.

“As of now, the overall strategy for the western defense line has shifted to a more maneuverability-oriented stance rather than the previous stalling tactic.”

That was why Tanya wasn’t surprised when her supervisor stated this casually. Since it was determined that stalling for time would not be enough, it was natural that a more mobility oriented defense strategy would be adopted. Using the bases situated in the rear that were reinforced out of fear of enemy long distance artillery bombardment as the starting point, the distance they had previously retreated when conducting their stalling operation was instead re-allocated for maneuver warfare.

“Second lieutenant, I don’t think I need to say this… But this is a classic example where talk is easier than action.”

“Yes, Sir, I understand.”

Originally, the internal mobilization strategy had dictated they were to halt the progression of enemy advancement along the previously indicated defense line such that reinforcements from the continental army would then be able to annihilate the enemy forces that had overextended. However, since the defence line had already collapsed, the battle has all but turned into a dangerous hike across thin ice which could only be described as bitter and unenjoyable. While one might inquire just what kind of defensive battle would then be considered otherwise, the most notable example which came to mind would probably be that famous hikikomori’s Maginot Line ⑦. If it was that place, one could hide there all the way until the war ends.

For Tanya, this was a problem that should have been addressed prior to the failure which had occurred on the strategic level. Long before implementing the strategy which had failed even before the fighting had started, concepts such as sealing the borders through the use of fortresses should have been used since attrition warfare was already selected as the overall defensive approach for the Western borders. For the higher-ups to have assumed that the Francois Republic would simply ignore the threat of the encirclement strategy collapsing and allow the defeat of the Federation to happen, such naivety had left Tanya dumbstruck. The price of this miscalculation was literally paid via the blood of soldiers such as Tanya and Schwarzkopf who were forced to salvage the current situation, which was something that Tanya found to be difficult to accept.

“We are soldiers. We have to complete our missions if the higher-ups command us to do so.”

Raising the flag of revolution because of the incompetence of national leaders for the sake of an unsalvageable homeland was something only patriots would do. However, Tanya had no intentions of dying for the Empire. That was why she often paid civilities that went against what she truly felt, acting out the role the other party expected of her. For the sake of this, she was even willing to give a Tsuji-like⑧ speech, to which from the bottom of her heart she viewed in disdain, but if necessary, she would even put up with shouting “Patriotism is justified.”

Saying it as naturally as if she was breathing, that and her doll-like appearance often gave others an impression of a “patriot.”

Most important of all, in typical cases—It was the sincere thoughts of soldiers who risk their lives on the frontlines to despise the so called activists that remain in the safety of the rear to only ever talk about in words things such as “patriotism” and “loyalty”. However, the oath of a combat veteran who earned their fame in the battlefield, and have proven to be self-sacrificial and patriotic, was different. It was due to these extreme conditions, they interpreted Tanya’s words to be a confession of faith.

“...It’s as you said, Lieutenant Degurechaff.”

And so, Tanya respected the type who completed their task faithfully with a mild attitude, a model of the Imperial Army.

“Wonderful. Back to topic then.”

“Yes, Sir!”

At least she wasn’t an incompetent soldier. Hence, with a deep sense of satisfaction, First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf felt more relaxed upon receiving good news during such a depressing situation.

Without a clear strategic goal, he had to lead a unit that was to be mobilized temporary in a defensive battle. He lost many subordinates to enemy attacks, the replacements were a bunch of greenhorns, and their leader is a little girl? In the eyes of First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf, just the fact that Second Lieutenant Degurechaff was an officer that could be of use was one of the handful of silver linings.

“Within the mobile defence formation, our 205th Assault Mage Squadron has been selected to be part of the QRF.”

<TL: Quick Reaction Force.>

In the end, the performance of First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf’s squadron during the initial stages of enemy assault as well as their overall level of training had resulted in them being selected for the role of the Quick Reaction Force; their role was to rush to reinforce places that needed assistance. This role was very different from other units.

“We are the axis behind counterattacks. As a comrade with this heavy responsibility, I look forward to your performance.”

“Thank you for your trust, First Lieutenant. I will do my best to protect the Fatherland.”

She looked into First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf’s eyes with her clear blue pupils, and spoke about the noble ideals of contributing to the nation with childish lips. Tanya Degurechaff’s action didn’t have a shred of sincerity in them; she made this speech just because of the circumstances she was in.

It might be from war films and books of another world, but Tanya knew how terrible trench warfare was, and welcomed being placed in the counteroffensive reserves, instead of the trenches with horrendous conditions.

It was understandable for amateurs to think after a superficial glance that defending a base made from concrete seems safer. In the eyes of those who knew the defense’s advantage after the invention of machine guns, it was an undeniable fact that a fortification had strong defensive power. Anyone receiving orders from General Nogi to charge Port Arthur⑨ with their mere mortal bodies would not hesitate to make an “accident” happen at headquarters. Humans are too frail compared to rebar and concrete.

But one must not forget the fact that the fort in Port Arthur was decimated by heavy naval artillery. Bases have the critical structural flaw of being immobile. History has already taught that no matter how strong a fort is, it would just be a target before siege artillery. With that idea in mind, a mobile unit out in the field that could escape anywhere in an emergency was safer than garrisoning a fixed structure, Tanya knew this very well.

If one tried to attack from close range a “stronghold with tough defenses,” even a mage wouldn’t escape unscathed. Though one should also know how a ‘stronghold with strong defenses would be ravaged by artillery. In contrast, “attacking the exhausted enemy vanguard that broke through the defense line” was much safer.

That’s why Tanya kept making fake confessions of loyalty, the only truth being her joy at her assigned unit. Even raising her survivability just a little would undoubtedly make one happy.

“Very good. Any questions?”

“Yes, Sir. Will we be based within the defence line? Or behind the defense line?”

There was one point of to take note. There were two types of QRF. One was positioned at the back, and react quickly to seal the gaps broken through by the enemy’s attack; the other type set off from the defense lines to suppress the rearguard of the enemy. The difference between the two was the better conditions of the back, compared to a defense line that had to dig trenches and build fortifications, while fearing enemy attacks. There was a huge difference in their respective conditions.

Of course, one would need to charge to the frontlines to fill in the breaks, so there was an element of danger in that; but in order to launch a counteroffensive, there usually would be an advantage in numbers. In other words, one wouldn’t need to worry about counterattacks in an overwhelmingly disadvantageous situation.

“Rejoice, Lieutenant. It’s the frontlines.”

“It’s my honour.”

That was the worst.

As a QRF unit in the frontlines? Which means they had to defend their line and double as the feint counter offensive force? It won’t matter how many lives she had. If it was trench warfare, she could use the people around her as meatshields, but she couldn’t do so if she left the fortification to feint a counter attack. It might sound amazing to pincer attack enemy forces with the reinforcements from behind, but they were just acting as glorified moving targets.

“I knew you would be happy for this. Depending on the situation, we will need to support the defence lines.”

As expected, should I be happy? Her ominous feeling hitting the mark wasn’t a pleasant experience. This might be a great ability for risk management, but it would be best if she wouldn’t ever need it in her life.

“Meaning our role is primarily to act as a quick reaction force, and also as support for the defense line?”

“Your speculation is correct.”

Not only was she tied down to the defence line, she also had to move out as a QRF unit on a whim. Who could bear with that? There should be a limit on how much you could overwork someone. It made her want to request for better work conditions, or a raise at the very least.

But of course, since this was part of the contract, I will perform my military duty without complaint. Still, this is far too harsh, enough that I would wish to be fairly compensated.

“Nevertheless our mission isn’t to annihilate the enemy, just to fend them off. We don’t need to go out of the way to surround and destroy them.”

“This is terrible. The mustering of the continental army doesn’t seem to be going well.”

“Oh, you can tell?”

“If we don’t adopt a mobile defence that focuses on sapping the enemy's forces, and only concentrate on stalling the enemy’s movement, we won’t be able to last until reinforcements arrive. Even a rookie officer can tell that.”

There wasn’t any way to conduct a successful stalling defences on the vast battlefront. If they didn’t adopt the strategy of mobile defence with the purpose of grinding away the enemy’s forces, they wouldn’t be able to suppress their attacks. So they would have to intentionally allow the enemy to break through and attack them—that was just how bad the situation was. At least, it was an organized mobile defence, so it probably wouldn’t be as horrible as the Eastern Front⑩, but Tanya still needed to steel herself.

“—What a harsh way of putting it. That’s fine, I can’t fight a cheerful war anyway. Here are your flight members.”

“Yes, please let me read this.”

Readying herself, Tanya read the document given to her, and studied the details of the first subordinates under her in this life. However the content on it was too ridiculous, it made Tanya’s brain literally freeze up. When she came to her senses, she realized she was trembling. She didn’t toss the documents away unconsciously because of her reason winning over her instincts, but because she was too stunned. In her words, this was “Just too much.”

“Our forces are lacking manpower in all areas, and my third flight is affected by this; ‘we can only get freshly trained soldiers who have never fought in battle before as replacements’— That’s what I thought, but now I have to correct myself… Is it wrong to say these replacements are untrained recruits?”

“Your interpretation is correct. This means your flight will be severely undertrained. That’s why I hope you will agree in making defending the base your main duty.”

Hastily sending in mages that have just completed the basic training in the Cadet Corps to a combat unit... Anyone who had an inkling of sorcery warfare would laugh thinking this was an April Fool’s joke. Four Mages form a flight, twelve will form a squadron, the extreme example of elitism. Even if someone had the potential to be a mage, a rookie that only attended basic training would just get in the way. This was as good as forcing a rookie who had just memorized the army regulations and operations manual on how to fly a plane. This was beyond the realm of a turkey shoot⑪.

I see, based on his instruction to focus on base defence, this is a roundabout way of telling me that we are not considered a fighting unit. In the end, anyone who has expectations of such a fighting unit probably has something wrong with their head. First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf’s judgement is understandable.

“Squadron Captain, I have a suggestion for you as a flight leader…”

“Lieutenant Degurechaff, I know it is a trying task for you to fight a war while babying kids. Even though it is strange for me to tell you that.”

“I will be blunt, instead of forming a flight, I will be of more use if I fight alone. I have to give you this advice.”

You understand the flight lacks training, so you are using it as a stationary force? They might not be able to withstand the rigors of high maneuver oriented battles, so while they are re-educated and retrained, use them as base defence? In other words, you want the incompetent to hold me back right!? With an unspeakable rage within her, Tanya vehemently protested in the face of this crisis. As long as the military regulations that Tanya learned in Officer Cadet School weren’t revised, being a nanny was definitely not part of the scope of a soldier’s job.

I would just send these rookies, who would just drag me down, to die; I will be safer if I get my freedom back. I will do that given the chance. No, I haven’t even seen them yet; it’s too hasty to write them off as incompetent yet.

“As an officer, I have no plans to give up on my command obligations, but please consider the best way to use our forces.”

“These fellows are the reserve forces. If the situation warrants for it, you will need to perform guerilla missions as well.”

Even though he mentioned that he would try to send the flight to the field, First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf hinted from the very start that he would send Tanya out by herself if there was a need.

“Understood. Are we allowed to abandon our post if there is a demand?”

“Regrettably, the battlefront cannot be pushed back any further.”

“So we have to defend it to the death?”

“Command seems to be asking us to choose either victory or Valhalla⑫.”

Victory or Valhalla? Can that be considered a choice? This is probably a subtle way of telling us to fight to the last. No, it would be strange to call it subtle, this is just a narcissistic lie.

Why should I die for others? If someone dies for me, that is their freedom, but forcing me to die for others completely go against my free will.

Only freedom reigns supreme. Be it democracy, nationalism and even imperialism, it is by my freedom to acknowledge them. So please, stop issuing war bonds⑬. Issuing more war bonds on the assumption that the Empire will win in order to raise war funds will result in hyperinflation no matter if we win or lose.

It doesn’t matter whether we achieve victory or defeat; a better future will only exist in our imaginations, how unpleasant.

“Wonderful. I like both options.”

“Splendid. Let’s introduce you to the members of the squadron then.”

Alright, time to greet the comrades who will labor together with me in this unpleasant war. Depending on the time and place, they might even become my human shields. Allow me to look forward to this from the bottom of my heart.

And so, the young maiden and the little girl unwillingly fought side by side in the west. They drink the same muddy water, dodging hails of bullets, gnaw on “rations” that can’t even be chewed without dicing it with bayonets… and continue fighting.

My first impression of the Imperial Army officer Second Lieutenant Degurechaff of the Western Front, Seventh Field Army, 205th Assault Mage Squadron—who was my direct supervisor—it would be "Vampire.” Her sickly white skin and sharp eyes that despise the sun definitely surprised me.

In the beginning, we gathered under the order of First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf, and a small child that fitted unnaturally well with her uniform appeared. She couldn’t be a cadet from the Cadet Corps, she’s not even old enough to enroll yet. She tied up her messy hair in a simple manner, and wore a peaked cap that was slightly oversized for her. Normal soldiers would do a double-take in doubt if they saw such a young girl wearing the rank of Second Lieutenant.

However, until the moment the Squadron Captain introduced her to us, there wasn’t any signs which suggested something was “amiss” regarding Second Lieutenant Degurechaff. I couldn’t express it well, but it was as if it was natural for her to be there.

Nevertheless, the moment she used her cold gaze and stared at me as if she was gauging the value of an object, I couldn’t help but shrink away. Others might laugh at me for being afraid of such a young child, but to me, her gaze was like “a cat toying with a mouse” which scared me.

Just as Erya said, Second Lieutenant Degurechaff was a veteran soldier and an ace, having earned numerous meritorious awards on top of her Silver Wings Assault medal. She had a strong aura of battle around her, a delicate face that was almost doll-like, blue and empty eyes, and blonde hair with a hint of grey.

In the Rhine Battlefront where sunlight was scarce, she looked just like a vampire, or so as I muttered within my heart.

When she rushed us to state our rank, name, and unit in a calm tone without any room for doubt, I felt the urge to run away. The Cadet Corps had a simple way of splitting the cadets, since volunteers and conscripts won’t understand each other even if they train together. The Corps knew this very well, and split the mages from the very start into volunteer and conscript classes, which were C Wing whose path will lead them to Officer Cadet School, and D Wing cadets who were just completing part of their obligation.

My two cadet mates were elites from the C Wing.

“I am Corporal Kristorp von Barleholuth from Italu Schuden C Wing, 1st Squadron!”

“I am Corporal Harald von Weisz, also from Italu Schuden C Wing, 1st Squadron!”

I reported my own rank and name after the two Volunteer Wing cadets. It’s not that I was ashamed of not being from the Volunteer Wing, but it’s difficult to say that I was a conscript right after people who said they were volunteers. Even so, my skin wasn’t so thick that I won’t mind and just laugh it off. Oh god, why do you torment me so?

“I am Corporal Victoria Ivanovna Serbiakof from Italu Schuden D Wing, 3rd Squadron.”

You could say that I felt out of place to be the only one from the Conscript Wing. After all, Corporal Kristorp and Harald were volunteers from the same squadron. Going by tradition, the two of them will be partners, and I will be partnered with the Flight Leader.

That’s why when I was reporting that, I was thinking it would be great if I didn’t get lectured for being a slow and unmotivated conscript. Due to my way of thinking, I was dumbstruck by what the Second Lieutenant said next.

“My deepest respect to you for carrying out your obligations, Corporal Victoria Ivanovna Serbiakof. The environment is harsh, but I pray you will do your best to survive.”

It was words of encouragement. And it came from an officer with eyes so cold that I thought she was more suitable for war than anyone else. At this instant, I couldn’t understand the situation and froze.
At the same time—

“Also, for the two gentlemen who enlisted voluntarily: since you joined by your own will, don’t die later than Corporal Serbiakof and I.”

She didn’t change her calm tone, her voice didn’t get louder. Her face was expressionless as she spoke, but her words seemed heavier than ever.

“First, I will make it clear that the Empire can’t spare the effort to groom incompetent potential officers. In fact, that would be detrimental.”

A different atmosphere from the drill instructors. She was talking with a strange attitude for a soldier of the Empire. For me, this was the opposite of the values instilled into me since my conscription.

“It’s a different matter if it’s someone who was forced to serve in the forces against their will because of the needs of the nation, but since you volunteered to adorn the uniform of the Fatherland, then contribute accordingly. If you are too incompetent to do that, then die.”

Perhaps it was due to having finished saying the things that she had wanted to say, the three of us who were completely stupefied by her words were immediately kicked to the field after the Squadron Captain announced, “That is all, dismissed.” When we realized it, we were thrown into the trenches right after reporting to the unit, and endured the periodic artillery bombardment from the Republican military.

What awaited us there was the verification of our skills and foundations as mages. We also learned that we were not just wage thieves, we were even worse than trash.

Unhappy about being humiliated, Corporal Kristorp and Harald showed signs of resistance, but they weren’t punished…on the surface that is. After the Squadron Captain and the Second Lieutenant spoke about “I can’t take care of them on the front lines,” they were assigned to the rear.

After a short period of live combat, I became Second Lieutenant Degurechaff’s partner as a member of her Flight.

On the other hand, the two other cadets were promoted. They were promoted two levels higher and were assigned to the squadron’s base defense, staying inside the safe fortress as the reserve force for the counteroffensive. However, one thing I learned when flying on missions was that… For artillery, an immobile fortress was just a sturdier than average target.

This happened when I received orders to engage the enemy breaching unit being supported by heavy Republic artillery. We were to flank them while they were suppressed by our own artillery bombardment. I was snivelling then, thinking I would definitely die as I followed my seniors in the squadron who were smiling for some unknown reason. Our allied base was bombarded, while we were unscathed.

Incredibly, we barely encountered any attacks, we also didn’t suffer any meaningful losses before we engaged the enemy. After experiencing this multiple times, I realized that artillery had the problem of needing to be used in a well coordinated manner.

The reason was simple when I thought about it carefully. The chances of hitting flying targets with machine guns was higher than doing so with artillery. As long as we didn’t venture into a place with anti-aircraft guns, the machine guns would only attack aircrafts. Even though mages were slower than aircrafts, we are still too fast for the artillery to consider us as realistic targets.

It would be a different matter if we were to assault a fortified position or structure and would be suffering from heavy enclosure fire, but if we were to fight on our own territory, I was taught that speed was everything. Veteran mages all held a suspicious attitude towards being in fixed position. I am fortunate to have learned that from Second Lieutenant Degurechaff and First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf.

In conclusion, the only god we could trust on the battlefield was the artillery, who was also a god we must not cross, certainly so. If we didn’t learn to make this god our partner, and how to avoid it’s hammer of fury, humans won’t be able to live on.

Maybe that was why my supervisor was an absolute believer in firepower with no grounds for debate in preaching that it was the avatar of mobile warfare. She would finally show the demeanour of a mage after that. The only belief of my supervisor was in the artillery.

Could a group of pragmatic soldiers believe in god? Her answer to this was very interesting. When I mentioned this in my letter to Erya, she wrote in her reply that, “Then I am the war goddess that controls the will of the heavens.” This answer really suited her style, which made me laugh heartily. Such a good way of putting it.

Because of the existence of our eyes and ears, the devoted believers squatting in the frontline, trenches and fortified positions could receive the divine revelation of the artillery.

Due to the contribution of the forward observers, we could call for the artillery to neutralize the enemy when we fell into danger. This made me recall the figure of Erya who said she had a cushy job where she could drink tea and loaf around, but she was always taking care of others, so she must be working responsibly too.

Right before we begin an airborne assault, what the squadron wished for the most was the supporting fire from the artillery. After receiving orders to counter attack the Republican army that broke through our defence lines, we would attack the enemy from the flank in concert with the bombardment of the artillery in order to obliterate the enemy.

On the now-familiar battlefield, my only job as a rookie was to follow behind Second Lieutenant Degurechaff. Even the Squadron Captain teased us, saying we were the ideal two-man team, but I still need more combat experience.

“Oooh, let us give praise to God. His name is Artillery! That is what he is to me right now. Truly, such a wondrous sound!”

First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf’s face was full of smiles as he praised the wonderful timing by the artillery squadrons. As for myself, who had barely managed to hold steady under the intensive firing of the artillery batteries, all I can say at this moment is that the taste in music between the two of us appears to be quite different.

“Without a doubt, it is the God of the Battlefield! Our prayers, given in the form of radio petition, God has answered them!”

“Artillery, oh artillery, thou art our friend and our savior!”

The general atmosphere within the squadron was filled with excitement. Even the usually tight-faced veterans of the First Flight were unable to contain their emotions. Although the way they praised the timing of the artillery support might indeed seem overly exaggerated, I nevertheless have to agree with the part regarding it being our savior. This was something I had learned, because even though our squadron was part of the counterattacking forces, our responsibilities were mostly only to restrain the movement of enemy troops such that it would be easy for our artillery squads to then handle the rest.

As long as we successfully surrounded the enemy, regardless of the situation, whether if it was a particular assault unit, defensive unit or even enemy artillery units, everything would be turned to dust by the bombardment of our artillery. Just experiencing it once is enough to change one’s perspective where you couldn’t help but to wish from the depths of your heart for your prayers to be answered. O God, please grant me the support of our artillery.

The firing preparations performed prior to an assault have always served as a reliable way for the weak-hearted to strengthen their resolve. One time, during an assault where our support was delayed, our wing-sized unit composed of various different mage squadrons at the time was forced to engage with an enemy echelon (teidan⑭) the size of a brigade…the events which followed after were something which if possible, I do not ever wish to recall.

Hence, in situations where an adequate amount of support was provided, as well as there being a sufficient amount of space available for maneuvering, it could only be described as circumstances where one could finally relax their shoulders from the previous baggage received on the battlefield. Indeed, it appears like I was able to survive once again this time.

The scene revealed in front of Tanya’s eyes as she stared through the binoculars was of the moment when the artillery shells had theoretically hit the ground, turning the people within the blast radius into nothing but fertilizers. In the end, this was ultimately the correct way to conduct warfare, which involved the process of converting organic life forms known as humans into something not quite as organic.

“Nevertheless, it really is a spectacular scene, First Lieutenant. Watching the fireworks display of a concentrated rain of 120mm shells coming into life, that is. It was even better than what I had previously envisioned.”

“Just as you said, Second Lieutenant. It seems like the synergy between the observer and the artillery unit this time around was particularly on point. From the pre-adjustments to the final firing of the rounds, everything was done perfectly. Not a single shell went to waste.”

It was always easier for people to be able to remain calm and steady as long as things proceeded smoothly, and the same applied to those on the battlefield. According to the teachings of the Chicago School of Economics, everything in this world can be measured using the rules of economics; however it was still by no means an easy challenge for one to appropriately measure the outcome of experiencing smooth sailing on the physical and mental state of the human body. The feeling of not incurring any additional expense, without having to perform redundant tasks, and to have every piece fall in place as planned, such was a wonderful situation that could only be described as heavenly when encountered.

The situation on hand had unfolded before of the eyes of the 205th Assault Mage Squadron went exactly as described. Similar to the way Lieutenant Schwarzkopf had praised them, I must agree that the skills shown by the artillery squads this time around were indeed superb. Perhaps it was due to their close working relationship, but from the moment of the very first shot to all the way until the end, the entire process was spectacularly executed.

It was thanks to this that the 205th Assault Mage Squadron was able to successfully conduct their assault. The enemy echelon was completely suppressed by the overwhelming firepower of our artillery, to the point where even signs of collapse had begun to appear. Originally, the situation was likely to have progressed into a shooting battle between the artillery units of both sides, where our forces would also have been on the receiving end from the retaliatory fire of the enemy artillery. However, from the way things turned out, it appears that the enemy artillery units were preoccupied and were unable to provide us with any entertainment.

“Looks like we get to clean up the leftover enemy troops that had managed to survive the 120mm shells of our artillery corps. What a stroke of good fortune for us.”

“Seems like it indeed.”

It was just as Lieutenant Schwarzkopf had said, the luck of the squadron this time around couldn’t have been any better, or at least from the perspective of Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff, today was the best day one could have hoped for to conduct a battle. The only thing they needed to do was to maintain their advantage on the battlefield and slowly suppress the remaining enemy infantry which were already on the verge of collapse. Simple and straightforward.

“It’s almost time. All units, prepare for takeoff. We’ve got preys that need hunting."

And so, following the orders given by the Squadron Captain, I carried in one hand my rifle preloaded with magic-engraved bullets while holding the operation orb in the other, preparing for the coming assault.

The brief moment before takeoff as the entire squadron waited on standby for incoming orders from the Squadron Captain was always a period in which even experienced veterans couldn’t help but feel a slight tinge of anxiety. Amidst the background noise of bullet fire and explosions, the distinct sound of swallowing due to nervousness when heard would often seem extra clear to the ears, and it had always left a strong impression on my mind even to this day when thinking back.

“It’s time. Everyone, await by my command… Now if only every time it was as easy as this, how wonderful that would be!”

From Tanya’s perspective, to be able to conduct battles under the lead of a competent military officer such as First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf was truly an outcome which deserved to be rejoiced about, or at least, compared to the situation that the enemy remnant forces were currently facing, it could definitely be described as being hundreds or thousands times better. After all, war was always something that forces people into performing tasks that they do not wish to do, so one could only hope to be assigned to missions with high survival rate.

However, if one were to ask whether or not Tanya considered herself to be happy, the only response you would receive would be nothing but strings of curses and insults directed at a certain Existence X for throwing such a young and innocent child like herself onto the battlefield. Even when looking at things from an objective point of view, compared to the absolute of the worst, people would always tend to pick the lesser of the two.

“Second Lieutenant, remember to never be picky about food, or else you will never grow to be taller.”

“Squadron Captain Schwarzkopf, I think I am fine the way things are. Having a smaller surface area greatly reduces the likelihood of being hit by enemy fire."

“…I concede, Second Lieutenant. I have to say this is the best excuse I’ve heard for being a picky eater."

In the eyes of Lieutenant Schwarzkopf who was currently waiting for an opportune moment to begin the strike, the response made by Second Lieutenant Degurechaff served as the perfect follow-up to break the tension. During times of both ancient and modern, it has always been a practice for commanders of all levels to try to reduce as much of the anxiety felt within in his troops as possible before the assault.

Even for the 105th Assault Mage Squadron lead by Lieutenant Schwarzkopf, which could be counted as one of the veteran squadrons with numerous years of experience serving on the Rhine battlefront, tension could still often be felt during the moment before an assault. It was reasons such as this which resulted in the Lieutenant deciding to seize the moment just as the atmosphere had relaxed due to a simple joke and began to execute the assault.

After having alerted the artillery squadrons and having received the green light from the Air Controller, Lieutenant Schwarzkopf finally initiated the operation.

“Alright everyone, make sure to not let Second Lieutenant Degurechaff hog all the good food!”

Quietly chuckling at one side while thanking God that the squadron was able to remain calm before the enemy, First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf roared out the next few words using his well-practiced voice.

“Begin!! Follow my lead!”
The entire squadron took off from their resting positions and drastically accelerated towards the enemy location.

In the eyes of the enemy infantry, the threat posed from aerial mages that fly at you from high above could be considered just as deadly as being bombarded by artillery. Most of all, mages all possessed safeguards in the form of defense barriers and protective membranes strong enough to easily withstand a rain of rifle bullets. On top of that, they are capable of unleashing firepower no less than the equivalent of heavy weaponry. They could truly be considered as overpowered.

There are very limited amount of methods for infantry to choose from when facing up against the terror of mages on the battlefield. One of them was to make use of hand grenades. This method could only ever be applied when the opposing mages just happen to be within the attack range of the grenade, which in most situations rarely ever occurred, and even then the amount of damage it could cause was subjective. The only other method was to combine their firepower through synchronizing their aim and concentrating it at a single target. Apart from that, infantry units have almost no way of combating aerial mages.

Therefore, even if the enemy squadron only consisted of a dozen or so magicians, from the perspective of the Republican echelon which had already lost their command structure due to the artillery bombardment, the threat posed from the incoming mages was no less than what they had previously faced. What made it worse was that the mage squadrons which were usually in charge of preventing enemy air assaults had most likely perished as well; even for mages it was very difficult to withstand the impact of artillery shells.

The current situation could be considered as a blessing for the incoming squadron while in the eyes of the Republican military, their luck couldn't have been any worse. The 120mm shells fired by the Imperial military through sheer coincidence had landed directly on the Republican mages in midair, beautifully turning them into minced meat.

"Make sure to target enemy commanders and communication officers first!"

Isn't that obvious?

The thought occurred in Tanya’s mind as she headed directly towards the crowd of soldiers that had the most figures carrying backpacks with antennas sticking out. Following the same methods as the other members of the squadron, Tanya warmly welcomed these uninvited guests from the Republic with an enthusiastic embrace filled with explosions.

From the density of the bullet fire returned by the enemy infantry, one could tell that the resistance the enemy soldiers were putting up was very weak. At most, it was only a handful or so of infantry units shooting blindly into the sky; the majority of the soldiers had already given up and started fleeing. The current situation of the battle had already progressed to the sweeping stage.

If it was any other time, there would still be worries about potential reinforcements coming from the enemy rearguard, but this time around the mixed forces consisting of our secondary artillery team and the special strike team were keeping them tied up. Hence, the current situation could literally be considered as the sweeping up of the remaining soldiers.

This provided Tanya enough leeway to carefully observe the battlefield in detail, whereas on previous occasions, the most she was able to do was to observe whether or not Corporal Serbiakof was still following behind, as well as her overall performance during battle. From Tanya’s perspective, even though Corporal Serbiakof was often on the receiving end of rifle fire, her defensive barrier has always held on steadily during those times. Her movements when flying was still at a basic textbook level, but when compared to just one month ago, it had readily improved. Her current progress can be considered as acceptable but more effort could be put in.

Looking back, the current situation of sweeping up remaining enemy forces that are on the brink of collapsing would serve as a great combat exercise for the newly-enlisted soldiers to gain battle experience. When this thought occurred in my mind, I couldn’t help but recall the words previously spoken by Lieutenant Schwarzkopf; live-combat really does serve as the best practice for gaining experiences.

“I really miss the moments of seeing faces turn green from fear as well as the vomiting that followed after. Dear, oh dear, soldiers really cannot do without having gone through strict disciplining."

One should never make light of mankind’s potential. For Tanya who had once more come to terms with such matters, could not help but to admire the near infinite possibilities that could be realized from developing each and every individual’s potential. It was for reasons like this which showed just how inspiring the dignity and free-will held by mankind truly was.

This had almost caused her to pity the soldiers of the Republican military. When facing against the incoming barrages of enemy bombardment, the only instructions they had received was to blindly charge forward. For such tactless orders to have been issued by their headquarters without any regard, it was as if they were still living in the past while technology and military tactics had advanced. It was clearly demonstrated ten years ago during the conflict which had taken place in the far east between the Union and the Imperium⑮, where the whole world was shown exactly how much weaponry trumped manpower.

It truly was frightening to imagine the end of those that had lost their progressive spirit. Losing such would equally mean that they had lost their potential as human beings, although it was thanks to this that vast amounts of resources with potential were quickly lost and processed into minced meat by the Empire, but one still couldn’t help but to bitterly shake their head at the irony which had transpired.

It was at times like this which people would start to wonder whether or not they should re-evaluate the capital worth of individual humans accordingly to the supply and demand of the market.

Unfortunately, all things in this world are bound by contract. As a soldier of the Empire, the only relationship Tanya could ever establish with the aggressors of the Republic was that of a kill-or-be-killed relationship. Good grief, even though it was expected that every country would naturally use propaganda to praise the commendability of those willing to self-sacrifice for their nation, but I really wish they would understand that this would mean one would also be expected to kill for their nation.

No matter what, nothing could be as sinful as war in terms of letting precious human resources go to waste. For Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff, who once again was just moments away from taking the lives and futures of several promising young men, lamented as she directed her spells at them.

Truly, things just never turn out how you want them to be.

All the while as she murmured within her heart, spells after spells were unleashed at enemy soldiers, mercilessly turning them into carcasses filled with base organic matter. The only word which came to her mind as the scene had unfolded was, “Wasteful.”

Even though these soldiers belonged to the enemy nation, the way the enemy commanders had just so thoughtlessly thrown away the lives of these people who wouldn’t have been more than twenty or so years old, Tanya couldn’t help but to feel a strong sense of discomfort. Indeed, when looking at things from this perspective, one would definitely think that over-extravagance is a sin. For a nation which had previously lived by such philosophy, who would have imagined that they would turn out to be this wasteful in managing their human resources; history truly reveals the most ironic things in the most unimaginable way. It would seem that no matter what era it is, there would always be incompetent leaders somewhere in this world needlessly throwing away the lives of their people loyal to their nation.

“Good gracious, just what am I doing, getting so sentimental on the battlefield."

“Artilleries are plowing, magicians are descending, while the infantry units are advancing,” just when had I heard such phrases? Thinking back, the only memory I could distantly recall was the warmth of the afternoon sun shining lazily upon my back as I struggled to remain awake during the lecture on the history of warfare.

Back in Cadet School, those ordinary lessons which barely left any impressions, it was only after having applied them on the battlefield, had I finally began to realize just how awful they could be. Perhaps similar to how I had been feeling, Second Lieutenant Degurechaff often had a look of disappointment on her face during combat, but different from me, she was still able to mercilessly unleash her spells at the enemy. The actions that she performed always left me stunned but amazed at the same time, even though it required all of my efforts mustered just to keep up with her when flying, many times I still ended up on the receiving side of enemy fire, yet not a single bullet ever seemed to make their way towards the Second Lieutenant.

At moments like this, it was useless to think of such things, but those scenes that unfolded before my eyes made me realize just how large a difference there was between the two of us, but as expected, only those that had reached a whole new dimension would have been able to receive the Silver Wing Assault medal.

“This is the Squadron Captain to all members, in 300 more seconds the second round of artillery will begin. Prepare to fall back.”

And then, during the brief period that I was lost in thoughts, the remaining enemy forces had already began to the retreat. Such occurrences regularly happens to me during battle, where things would just suddenly end all the while I was still aimlessly flying in the sky. As such, I had mentally prepared myself for the next set of orders which usually involved pursuing the fleeing enemies, so it was only after having responded with an “understood” that I finally began to feel relief from within my heart.

That’s right, relief. The relief that I won’t need to feel guilty of having to chase after the enemy. I was different from Second Lieutenant Degurechaff who was able to calmly employ long distance precision-based optical attacks or explosion-based spells when pursuing after the fleeing opponents. It was because that I did not have to do so this time, I felt relief.

By the time that my mind had started to blank out from overthinking all the while as I hurriedly followed behind my superior officer, unleashing spells at various locations, the I who was in an almost trance like state was unable to think clearly. Yet nevertheless, a part of myself still hesitated when directing spells at the fleeing soldiers… To express it more clearly, I was uncertain whether or not it was morally right for me to do so.

Without a doubt, I was obligated to attack when taking into consideration my identity as Corporal Victoria Ivanovna Serbiakof of the 105th Assault Squadron, but I as Visha, was unable to do so.

“All units assembled, no casualties this time around. Nothing else were depleted apart from equipments.”

At the end, by the time we had finally landed, my mind which had been in a high state of tension throughout combat was unable to offload the pressure all in one ago, the overwhelming sense of relief rushing in had almost caused me to faint from the sudden recoil. The only thought that was in my head was to quickly go to bed and rest.

Even though I have to admit for a maiden who was at a delicate part of age there were many inconveniences, but in the frontlines where even water was often scarce, it was just too much to hope that a shower room would exist somewhere on the battlefield for use. As such, I followed the example set by Second Lieutenant Degurechaff and simply uttered the phrase “going to bed, good night”, and attempted to lay down and rest all the while thanking to God that at least there was still a bed to sleep in.

However, God did not seem to be so kind in nature. An emergency assembly was suddenly raised, and by the time I had come around to it, everyone had already gathered outside.

“Very good. Now, to all members of the squadron, I have some not so good news to report."

The atmosphere this time was eerily solemn. I couldn’t help but once more feel the tension building up inside of me as First Lieutenant Schwarzkopf quietly informed us of the situation. When commanding officers begin to speak in a particularly calm and composed manner, it usually suggested that something terrible was about to happen. Although it hasn’t been long since I have been in the military, but this was something that I had already picked early on while at the frontlines.

“This is an emergency report. The 304th Assault Mage Squadron encountered two enemy Mage Squadrons during their mission and is currently locked in combat.”

The report was sent by the friendly troops that were tasked with combating the follow-up enemy forces. Originally, they were to be making attacks on the secondary enemy echelon, but was obstructed by enemy reinforcements. Even though my mind was exhausted from the previous battle, I still forced myself to focus. Gradually, I was able to gain an understanding of the overall situation. The entities involved were the troops on our side, the follow-up enemy forces, and the newly appeared enemy reinforcements.

“…and the secondary echelon?”

“Currently being suppressed by our artillery units, however, the observer is being chased by enemy mages and could not provide any assessment on the impact nor provide any corrections."

The dialogue that was currently taking place between my superior officers made me envision a future which I did not wish to recall. I couldn’t help but to sigh as I listened closely to the exchange, murmuring quietly to myself that it looks like another battle will soon be starting.

"We must quickly rendezvous with the 304th Squadron. Prepare for immediate takeoff."

It's simply one trial after another, the high amount of morale which we had previously built up could not be so easily relit. The First Lieutenant continued on all the while my mind was still in a semi-state of confusion.

"At the same time we will have to put forward a rescue operation for the observation mage that is currently under attack by an enemy mage squadron. Speaking of which, it seemed that Second Lieutenant Degurechaff had previously encountered a similar situation like this in the northern front?"

"Yes, I do not wish to experience it a second time."

Taking on the task of being an observer for the artillery units is almost like agreeing to be the target practice for enemy mages. As long as one takes out the eyes of the opponent, the threat of enemy artillery will no longer need to be considered, any experienced veterans will emphasize on the importance of such matters when confronted. Being the eyes of the primary dominator of the battlefield is usually the equivalent of gambling away your life against fate, with the odds definitely not in your favor.

… … Erya that liar, saying that she would be comfortably enjoying tea from the rear.

I was stunned by discovering just how dangerous it was to be a forward observer for the artillery. More importantly, even for Second Lieutenant Degurechaff who was able to calmly maneuver through a sea of bullets and explosions to have been heavily injured during her time as an observer, this made me worry all the more for Erya. The role of an Observation Mage was just that deadly.

Conversely, the situation of the observer who was being chased at this moment was definitely not a pleasant one. The more that I thought of this, the louder the voice inside of my heart screamed to have to save him. Even I myself was unsure just where this feeling was coming from.

Therefore, I must give my all in the rescue operation. After having made my resolve, I breathed and exhaled deeply to once more re-energize my exhausted body.

However, contrary to what I was feeling, my outside appearance was still that of a mentally exhausted girl.

“I see, well then… Second Lieutenant Degurechaff, as the holder of the Silver Wing Assault medal, in your opinion just how likely will we be able to rescue the observer?”

“The longer we delay the less likely, the chances of a successful rescue is slim even if we depart now.”

“And if you were to make use of the Type 95?”

“… … I don’t have any problems but Corporal Serbiakof seems to be at her limits already.”

Second Lieutenant Degurechaff took a single glance at my motionless figure as well as the blank expression that I had on my face, and earnestly responded back at Lieutenant Schwarzkopf’s query.

“I do not wish to become the kind of officer that just for the sake of accomplishing a rescue mission, end up killing the lives of her own men.”

“In that case, break up your two-man flight, no, forget what I just said.”

The words that had followed after, contained various emotions mixed within. The feeling of disappointment, or perhaps it was the feeling of concern, but in the end, the only conclusion that could be derived was that “there was simply no other way”.

A lot was revealed from the way how quickly Lieutenant Schwarzkopf had abandoned his initial suggestion right as he had proposed it. A two-man Flight was the absolute minimum for a unit.

If Second Lieutenant Degurechaff was to individually conduct the rescue operation, she would potentially have to face-off against the attacks of two enemy mage squadrons all by herself. While that was fine and all, but the enemy forces this time had directly launched their assault from the front, it would be reasonable to assume there would also be follow-up reinforcements coming to cover for them. At moments like this, for Visha who would be without any teammates to be there to assist her, her chances of survival would be very slim.

Even if she was to also join the rescue operation, her current conditions which clearly showed signs of extreme fatigue both physically and mentally had caused her superior officers endless worries. It was because of this, the previous suggestion was quickly nullified. It was because of this, they were hesitating.

By the time I had finally understood this, I became unable to control my emotions and impulsively shouted with all of my might.

“Squadron Captain, permission to speak!”

“Corporal Serbiakof?”

“I willingly volunteer! I wish to volunteer for the rescue mission!”

Lieutenant Schwarzkopf remained silent and appeared doubtful. Of-course, I had interrupted my superior officers without permission, if things do not proceed well I could even be punished for it. I myself was also surprised at my suddenly found courage, previously I never would have dreamed that I would ever become this impulsive.


“I too am a soldier of the Empire! It may sound presumptuous, but I believe I am capable of completing this mission!”

From the short and stem reprimand that Second Lieutenant Degurechaff had quickly uttered, I felt as if I was being disciplined once again, but even the harshness of her voice this time could not prevent me from continuing on.

“Squadron Captain, please allow me to participate!”

“So that’s how it seems, Second Lieutenant.”

“Lieutenant Schwarzkopf!?”

The Second Lieutenant’s voice was filled with surprise and exclamation as she widened her eyes in disbelief at how Lieutenant Schwarzkopf had responded. Her usually half-closed eyes which always emphasized her boredom and disinterest in the world had for the first time since my meeting with the Second Lieutenant widened to a point of unimaginable. Her current appearance, although it might be slightly difficult to explain, but it finally felt like it was an expression which suited a ten year old girl.

It appears that even someone as cold as the Second Lieutenant would underneath worry for the well-being and safety of her subordinates.

“Jones’s detachment will see you through to the rescue site. Begin the operation.”

“But… Lieutenant…”

“I have already made my decision. I understand your concern, Second Lieutenant, but any further it would be considered as overly protective.”

A startled expression was shown on the face of Second Lieutenant Degurechaff. Unexpectedly, she seemed to be much more emotionally driven as a person than what I had originally thought. Although it was improper for me to be saying this, but her appearance the moment she realized that her emotions were showing was surprisingly cute and refreshing. While at the same time causing me to lower my guard, the feeling that I gained was as if I was making fun of an emotionally-rich friend.

The initial vampire-like aura that she was giving off seemed to have completely vanished, revealing behind layers of emotions that were buried underneath.

Without noticing, I had grown surprisingly fond of Second Lieutenant Degurechaff ever since the first time we had met. To have realized it at a moment like this, it was truly an inexplicable feeling which had come and gone like the wind, only now had I realized that all this time I was being protected by someone much less younger than me in terms of age.

“Understood. I will do my best to complete the mission.”

“Should anything happen, we will immediately rush to your aid. Such was the long cherished wish for every magician. I wish you luck.”

“Same goes to you, Lieutenant. I wish you luck.”
After having spoken those words, the main body of the squadron immediately departed for their destination. Second Lieutenant Degurechaff, who had watched as they parted, turned her head and gave a mesmerizing smile towards me.
"Well then, Corporal. Have you finished your preparation?"
Watching my superior officer smile like that, I couldn't help but to think "as expected, her teeth really does look like that of a vampire's". Even though that was the kind of smile projected by the Second Lieutenant, I still responded back my own which was filled with confidence and warmth. That's right, I have already made my resolve. I will not abandon anyone.
"Yes, Second Lieutenant."
"Very good. Then it is time for us to begin. Sergeant Jones, we will be in your care for a little while longer."
"Leave it to us. You won’t find any other unit as experienced as us on the Rhine battlefront."

“That damn intel department! What do they mean that the defence here is the weakest!?”

Their flight might seem graceful to a third party, but the imperial mages were literally scrambling in performing evasive maneuvers and deploying their optical detectors. This was the fourth one. Since just now, they had been shooting down enemy observers who were trying to escape, but the accuracy of the enemy artillery wasn’t affected at all. Judging from the sound, it should be 120mm heavy shells. Maybe some 180mm or 240mm shells were mixed in.

Allied forces trying to exit the combat zone at full speed had fallen into chaos, reduced to targets by the enemy. The unit that was hastily mustered with breaching speed as its priority was foiled by its weak defences instead.

As it prioritize breaching, it had increased direct support from mages, which was the only thing going for it. But unfortunately, the areas that needed support overloaded the Forward Air Control, and the engagement efficiency was as good as shooting birds blindly.

Although the solitary enemy observers had been taken out, they must have sent out warning too. Radio interference was at its limit, and couldn’t be maintained any longer. From the amount of time that had lapsed, the imperials had to assume that a sizeable engagement force or quick reaction force had been dispatched. In the worst condition, not just the ground troops the mages were supporting, even the mages would be cut off. That’s how dire the situation was.

“If you have the time to sprout nonsense, move your hands! You bastards!!”

Hence, in order to assist the retreat of their allies, they have to neutralize the enemy artillery some how. The problem was how. Attacking them directly would be the simplest way. But from the scale of their bombardment, their numbers was at a joint artillery level.

If it was artillery organic to a division or battalion, there would be a chance to silence their guns by charging in with the resolve to die. But against a joint artillery, they had to take anti mage battles into consideration. Thus, they could only go for the next best option and hunt down the observers. But not only does this takes a lot of time, the effect will only be shown after some time.

“Aye Sir. Damn, optical detection is really limited. Please authorize the use of explosive spells.”

If they blow the entire place up with explosive spells, they could blast away any observers concealing themselves on the ground. Optical detection would take time to scan the ground, so it wouldn’t be fast enough. They not only have to descent to a certain height, they had to search the same area repeatedly to ensure they didn’t miss anything. In the beginning, they strike while the enemy wasn’t paying attention, but their adversaries weren’t fools either. Those who hope that their opponents were fools, were the real fools.

News of our attack must have spread, prompting the other observers to hide themselves. And finding them would take a tremendous amount of effort.

“At this pace, we won’t be able to take out half of them.”

That was the reason behind the proposal to blow the entire suspicious zone away. This was a reasonable method. In actual fact, in the beginning phases of artilleries battles, scouts from both side would search for the enemy position as they use anti personnel grenades to hinder the enemy. If they were lucky, they might take out an entire enemy scouting platoon. But this method was only viable with a certain level of supporting fire.

It would require a squadron to maintain an attack at maximum burst level the entire time. The burden would increase their combat potential, but would be too heavy for the unit performing the direct coverage. If the scale was large enough to scorch the entire land, it would adversely affect combat sustainability.

“Impossible. In the long term, it will just hinder our progress.”

Speaking of long term, they were really unlucky.

“High mana reaction! Enemy mages suspected to be reinforcements are approaching fast!”

“Ah, damn it! Stop the hunt for the observers! Prepare to engage!”

Their forces were scattered and the troops were exhausted. Military doctrines would normally strongly discourage fighting in such conditions, but those were just theories in books after all. In actual combat, they wouldn’t be having such a hard time if they could follow the doctrine. As the leading echelon ⑭ had yet to break off their engagement with the enemy, if the follow up unit was to withdraw, they would literally be wiped out.

Of course, judging from the overhead view of the ground units, it was a fact that the entire army was retreating. However the speed of mages and ground forces were incomparable.

It was easy to imagine the ground units being annihilated by the artillery fire directed by the observers while the allied mages evaded the assault of the enemy mages.

That was why they had to secure this air space. Not every battle could be be avoided.

“All units, allied observer is down. I say again, allied observer is down.”

When she received this notification, Second Lieutenant Mage Tanya Degurechaff mumbled with an irked face, “Enough already.”

What crossed her mind right now was if only they had set off slightly earlier, or even a bit later—such was her complaint.

The terrible timing made her want to curse. They couldn’t make it in time to reinforce their allies, but were too close to the enemy to fall back now. There wasn’t any other choice but to take on this difficult endeavor that offered negligible reward.

“...To all Flight members, listen up. As you all had heard, it’s regrettable that we didn’t arrive in time, but we still have a job to do.”

“Lieutenant Degurechaff, isn’t this load too heavy for one Flight?”

Sergeant Jones, who were loaned to Tanya by the Squadron Captain, advised caution. According to the latest updates from headquarters, they had lost contact with an allied mage, and judged him to have been shot down. That mage last reported visual on more than two squadron of mages. Considering the situation, they were in danger of being pursued, so retreating would be the correct call. They were dispatched as reinforcements, and with their rescue target downed, there was no need to proceed with the mission.

“Sergeant Jones, your opinion is correct on the most part, but the current situation is an exception.”

Speaking from common sense, this wasn’t an opponent they wanted to take on with a lone Flight. For Tanya, she would like to return back to base immediately if they were far enough away, but instead of shouldering the risk of being pursued from behind as they flew, it would be better to seize the initiative and launch a pre-emptive attack.

“That’s right, we are at an disadvantage in terms of numbers… But we don’t need to wait obediently for the enemy to gather their forces.”

Taking out the enemy one by one was the basics of war.

“Considering the available intelligence, the enemy are probably two squadrons equipped for long distance travel.”

They might be elites, but with the heightened tensions and long distance travel, the enemy was probably exhausted. Not only did they have to break through the Empire’s defence, they had to conserve energy for the similarly long trek back to base as well, limiting the energy they could expend on combat. On the other hand, the Imperial mages could fight all out for defence, and just wait for friendly forces to pick them up after the endeavour. Once the artilleries were set, their bombardment would clean up the mess.

Of course, even if the enemy was exhausted, Tanya shouldn’t count on them for being careless. Yet one’s resolve could be betrayed by their body. The chance of victory wasn’t meagre. The main point was that the enemy had to split their forces to conduct a sweep through the battlefield. Their units were too spread out, and could only work together at flight level.

Although there would be consecutive battles, the mages from the Imperial military could go full throttle as they were the defenders. On the flip side, the Republican side had to operate on enemy territory with minimal support. If their numbers were even, the scale of victory would lean heavily towards the Imperials.

“Which is to say, this is a simple task of taking down an exhausted flight six times in a row.”

It might be haphazard, but they had enough supplies. Even though it was the bear minimum, they still had rear support.

One on six was a number which invoked despair, but there was a chance to win if it was one on one. If they inflicted enough casualties to the enemy despite their numerical disadvantage, headquarters wouldn’t be able to fault them.

“All flight members take note. I will take on three flights. I will leave the rest to you. It should be a piece of cake.”

It would be near impossible to decimate all enemy units, but if she could accumulate kills by working a bit harder, this would be a profitable situation. A good chance to show the higher-ups her competence.

The campaign was a failure, but thankfully, the joint artillery is right behind us, so we have some back up. After enquiring them, they informed us that they had saved some scatter shots for us. I thought that I could use the fatigue of the Corporal serving as my wingman as a roundabout excuse to reject the mission. I was just lamenting about this situation, but every cloud does have a silver lining.

But speaking of which—Tanya glanced at the face of her subordinate following right behind and started thinking. Even though she was nervous, Corporal Serbiakof’s flying was steady. Contrary to her abilities, she was a conscript. She didn’t sign up voluntarily, and was forced into service out of obligation. She didn’t imagine a Corporal with such a background would be so eager to fight. Tanya didn’t know if Serbiakof’s motivation for taking on jobs beyond her pay grade were due to a sense of duty, patriotism or brotherly love, but she was a valuable human resource with a bright future.

“Flight Leader, you wish to hog the title of Ace?”

“Good question, Sergeant. It’s no big deal, I just need ten more kills to qualify for a bonus and time off. It is about time I take a vacation.”

If her kill breaks fifty, she would be granted special leave. Specifically speaking, two weeks time off, with a bonus and salary increment on top of that. She would be granted flexible work time, and the authority for limited autonomous action. Five kills meant one was an Ace; Fifty kills granted the title of Ace of Aces.

Unfortunately, my memory turns chaotic when I use the Type 95 prototype, and I also performed long distance sniping. So there were some kills that were unaccounted for. But even without those, I still have forty confirmed kills.

Most importantly, I would not be prosecuted for such war merits, this is wonderful. Things would be fine even after the war ends. Which means, killing a person is a crime, but massacring a group is commendable. This might sound contradictory normally, but is possible in economic theory.

“After that, I plan to use my vacation earned from the kills to go enjoy a trip for gourmet dishes. Sorry about that everyone, I will be eating graceful lunches in pubs.”

“How envious.”

Sergeant Jones nodded teasingly, while Corporal Serbiakof and the other team member smiled awkwardly, but that was the way it should be. After working hard to complete a job, it was “only right” to enjoy the fruits of your labours. The winners in life who earned a vacation could even enjoy delicious meals in the rear lines. They could also share a meal with the head honchos of enterprises. In short, this was the best environment to build social capital. I already said this before, but this is truly wonderful.

“Sorry, Sergeant Jones, but the prize will go to the swift.”

Schwarzkopf was worried about the lack of manpower, and half a flight was loaned to her from the squadron’s meagre personnel. It might just be two people, but for mages, it was a significant force. It meant that the Empire could still spare the effort to show concern for the officer on site.

In other words, it was still possible to retreat to the rear lines for a vacation. If I don’t go back now and become stuck here indefinitely, my future would definitely be spent in a joyous nursing home. I definitely don’t want that. So winning the war would be my target, and I have to prepared for anything.

…Can we really win?

It’s true that the Empire is a finely tuned war machine. Just like the Germany I knew, victory is a given in a fight between two nations. While it is still manageable for the Empire to fight on two fronts, given how powerful its current military strength is at, but there is no certainty in war.

After all, it is one nation against the world. Is this a world war, or a single country fighting against the rest of the world? Can such a war be won? To be honest, it will be difficult.

“If we win the war, I will enjoy myself to my heart’s content.”

“Ara, and here I thought the Lieutenant is someone who enjoyed the despair of our defence line.”

…I can consider it if it will progress my career.

But frankly speaking, it is impossible for miracles to happen repeatedly. The Type 95 is the crystallization of a curse, and victory will not be certain even if I use something I don’t intend on using.

“I am a soldier. If there is an order, I will do it.”

If there is an executive order, the public administrative staff can only carry it out dutifully. Similarly, military officers have to serve their nation loyally and fulfill their contract. I have no other choice but to fight in this war. Who would want to charge into a hail of bullets?— Tanya answered curtly.

“Please excuse my interruptions, Second Lieutenant. So you don’t like the war too?”

It was a bit unexpected as Corporal Serbiakof joined the conversation between her superior officers with a curious expression.

“Of course, Corporal. I prefer a peaceful life. What about you, Sergeant Jones?”

“I think the same way too, Second Lieutenant!”

Jones gave a standard salute deftly, which looked amusing. A large part of the reason he did that was to soothe the other two members of the flight, which was a job well done. No wonder it was said in books that excellent NCOs were irreplaceable treasures.

“As I suspected. Alright, time to go through the agenda for the welcome party.”

After making this conclusion, Tanya ascended swiftly and prepared for battle. What was reverberating in her heart was her wish for a peaceful life, and her hatred for the ones that disrupted it. Just who would want to pick up a rifle and fight?—The wrath in her heart was intense.

Let catastrophe befall this cursed world. Or rather, let catastrophe befall everything except me. If that is impossible, just don’t let me meet with misfortune.

Tanya flew in the sky as she muttered in her heart.

“What is your plan, Second Lieutenant?”

“Let’s give them a warm welcome. Put the tabs for bullets and spells on me.”

Bullets were funded by the public, and wasting the budget would lower one’s evaluation, but investing resources to increase productivity was part of running an operation. Entertainment expenses were billed to the company because of its necessity. This meant that if it was necessary, it’s fine to “splurge as much as you need, and it won’t be a problem if you produce results.” If mages could mass produce enemy corpses, no one would complain about them wasting bullets.

The only thing to worry about would be the stomachs of the finance officers. I will feel bad about making them worry so much. That might be so, but I hope the ones in charge could contribute by taking care of the mental health of the finance officers.

My job is to spend money to defeat the enemy; the task of the finance officer is to think of a way to raise the budget. Our mental wellbeing falls under the purview of professional support personnels. An ideal world where everyone contributes in their own way. We should offer thanks to how the study of economics predicts the result of working cohesively together and promotes an orderly distribution of work.

“Shall we check if they have their visas and passports?”

“Yes, let’s do that.”

That’s right, the rules of warfare shouldn’t nullify border control laws. If someone trespass the borders as determined by the Empire, they would need to go through entry inspections. That is careless of me, needing my subordinate to remind me of that.

“Let’s treat this as the signal to begin. How about having a match?”

“Hmmp, let’s compete in kills then. If you can beat me, I will offer the wine kept preciously by the Squadron Captain as the prize.”

I remembered seeing the Squadron Captain hiding a high grade wine secretly when I peeked into his tent. He must have gotten hold of it through cards, but it shouldn’t be difficult to get him to award the property of the squadron as a commendation for good performance. If that didn’t work, I will use more forceful means. It might not be much, for even though I am not old enough to drink, I can still appraise the value of wine.

“What should I do… Alright, if Lieutenant Degurechaff wins, I will give you my earnings for this entire day.”

“Hmm, that’s a good bet. Really good. I will take you on!”

Rhine Battlefront

The feeling of unsteadiness in the head, along with difficulty in maintaining consciousness; the current situation on hand was at a point where the officers could no longer care for the wellbeing of their troops.
Not only that, even though they were already at their limits and could barely maintain consciousness, optical decoys were still deployed in the end as the squadron retreated while performing evasive maneuvers at a level far exceeding safety regulations.
Despite the fact that they managed to preserve a bare minimum chain of command, as an elite squadron belonging to the Republican Military, they were completely toyed with by a single magician.
"Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!"
The emergency distress signal when encountering sudden enemy contact was spontaneously raised. This was the first time they had heard their Front Theatre Air Controller making such alarming cries.
"Break! Break!"
The commander immediately issued instructions for the squadron to scatter. After all, no commanding officer would be foolish enough to allow their troops to be grouped up and taken down from afar. However, even though the order was timely issued, it was not flawlessly executed. The upper portion of a squadron member suddenly exploded during the momentary confusion caused by being unable to spot the enemy’s presence.
"Bandit! Angels 12⑯!!"
"Angels 12!?"
The figure of the enemy opponent was finally detected after tracing the trajectory of the previous attack, yet the faces of the soldiers soon turned speechless the moment they realized where it came from. An altitude of 12,000 feet, a height which completely shattered the conventional flying limit known to Aerial Mages.
Before even mentioning the oxygen level at that height was roughly 60% of the ground level, the saturation of mana was another issue which could not be disregarded. It wasn’t without reasons as to why the maximum practical flying limit for Aerial Mages was 6000 feet.
"Impossible!? Could it be a fighter plane!?"
"God dammit, it’s not a mistake."
Although initially there were suspicions that it could have been an enemy fighter aircraft, but as expected, no mistakes were made. Reactions caused from the emission of mana particles as well as the lights reflected were cleanly picked up on the observation machine; without a doubt it was an enemy magician.
The insufficient concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere, the extreme drop in the external temperature, along with the saturation of mana as well as various other effects of high altitude on the human body; although it might be difficult to believe, it appeared as if the enemy mage was able to conquer these problems while still maintaining full combat capability. From the flight posture alone it seemed as if the opponent was simply having a leisurely walk in the park. One couldn’t help but to gain the impression that this figure was the embodiment of the current might of the Imperial Military.
"Ascend! We’re ascending! We will engage the enemy at altitude 8000!"
The entire squadron was already exhausted. Not only had they expended a considerable amount of energy previously when suppressing enemy observation units, but the burden of maintaining altitude for extended period of time had further taken a significant toll on their body. It was common sense when two sides of equal forces engage in battle, the side that was more rested and more spirited would hold the advantage.
The aerial mages hailing from the Empire were famed for being the elites among the elites whereas the Republican military was forced to make up for the lack of quality through quantity. Much less that the current opponent was clearly at a level far beyond the norm; even if they were to attack at their peak state most likely they would still incur heavy losses. Furthermore, the action of attacking an opponent at an altitude of 12,000 feet could almost be considered as an impossible task to accomplish to begin with.
"Captain, that’s a bit…"
"We have no other options!"
In theory, between aerial mages and military aircrafts, it was the mages which possessed greater combat potential.
However, that was only when limiting it to altitudes below 6000 feet. Although aerial mages were capable of using magic, they were still humans made of flesh and blood. If they were to engage in battles at extreme altitudes, they would only end up being target practice for the aircrafts.
"…No wonder the AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System Personnel) would panic like that."

"I agree. That’s just…way too excessive."
It was a situation that could only be described as out of the norm. Hence, it was within reasons as to why the AWACS had previously panicked. After all, according to the standard aviation regulations, it was not possible for Aerial Mages to go beyond an altitude of 6800 feet. Rather, it should be considered as completely impossible. In order to efficiently conduct warfare using both the operation orb and a combat rifle, 6000 feet was the limit. Even in the very unlikelihood that the Aerial Mage had emanated from Highland Regiments, their combat potential would have drastically diminished as they go above 7000 feet.
At an altitude of 12,000 feet, it could be considered as an entirely different world where even aircrafts were required to include oxygen supply in order to prevent pilots from experiencing blackouts. The amount of oxygen in the atmosphere at that level was simply too little. Unless it was an emergency requiring extreme evasive maneuvering, no sane pilot would want to climb to such heights, not to mention to conduct battle from there.
Even if it was for the sake of taking down an enemy, the chances of surviving the endeavor afterwards was slim beyond slim. However, this time it was the exception.
"If we cannot suppress this opponent, our ground forces will most likely face annihilation."
"You’re right… We have to do this."
Even in aerial warfare conducted between magicians, getting suppressed from above have been proven to be fatal.
Therefore, they had to ascend. Or at the very least get close enough to be able to shoot back at the enemy, or else they would remain as targets to be shot down. Regardless of whether it was to retreat or to fight, nothing would be achieved unless they ascended. However, fleeing was not an option. They had to buy enough time in order to allow for the ground troops to complete their retreat, otherwise the situation where both they themselves and the ground forces being annihilated could potentially occur. From the very beginning they knew they had no other option.
"This is an all-out war. Don’t even think about retreating!"

They will fight until all of their mana have been depleted. Most importantly, they have to get revenge for Sean. The enemy must not be allowed to return home alive.

[Attack! Don’t stop attacking even if you die!]

An overwhelming amount of determination could be felt from the words uttered by the commander, it could be considered as both an order and a warcry at the same time.
It will either be the complete annihilation of the enemy or the death of the entire squadron. Only two paths were left to be walked.
"Bravo, engage!"
Flight Bravo also began to engage with the enemy. The vulnerability of the situation that they were currently in couldn’t help but draw out the desire for one to curse at God. Just the thought alone that additional enemy reinforcements could soon appear on top of having to face off against such an overwhelming opponent, the urge in wanting to swear quickly began to surface from within their hearts.
"…Dear Lord!"
However, the scene that was displayed using the long distance scrying spell was beyond what they had initially imagined. After having ran through the opponent’s mana signature against the database library, a reality far worse than having to face off against enemy reinforcements was mercilessly revealed before their eyes.
The opponent they were facing against was aRegistered Magician, more commonly known as Named. The world for aerial mages was very small. Squadrons usually only consisted of twelve members. Even for the formulation of an Aerial Mage Wing, there would typically only be up to thirty-six members.
That was the kind of world it was. One would only need to take down five opponent magicians to be considered as an Ace, and once that counter reached fifty, they would naturally then be regarded as an Ace of Aces. A threshold is formed when six or more aces join a unit or when an individual achieved a counter of thirty or more. Once this threshold is breached, the unit or individual would usually end up becomingregistered in the databases of foreign nations and be regarded as a threat on the strategic level.
Named ones completely dominate the battlefield. The only viable methods to counter them was to either completely overwhelm them with numbers or to send out an equal amount of opposing Named. To the soldiers and officers on the battlefield, nothing more can be as satisfying as knowing that friendly Named mages would be assisting them from above; their presence alone is enough to become the mental support for an entire regiment. It was exactly because of this, unique aliases have been assigned to enemy Named as a way to provide caution for future encounters.
In the eyes of the Republican military, the Registered Magician: alias "Devil of Rhine"can be considered as nothing but a disaster. As long as an enemy mage possessed enough potential to be regarded as a threat on the strategic level, they will be registered in the military database, and within this, the Devil of Rhine was considered by the majority as the number one opponent that they did not wish to encounter. It has only been a mere two months since the confirmation of its existence, yet the amount of kills the Devil managed to accumulate have already exceeded sixty.

What was especially frightening was his skills at utilizing heavy arcane-based spells such as spatial detonation, as well as the uncanny accuracy of his long-distance photon-based precision attacks. More than half of the troops that encountered the Devil met their end just from falling for the "Decoy Fishing" tactic, a strategy commonly employed by sniping units. The worst part of it was that many of the mages that were wounded during engagements ended up dying just as they make it back to base.
Even though aerial mages were treated as precious military resources and received preferential treatment over others, they were still unable to survive in the end. Not only did this result in a significant waste of the limited medical resources and facilities, it further tied up the hands of the attending doctors, causing many of the ground forces that were in need of medical attention to suffer due to the shortage of staff.
Furthermore, the loss ratio of mages had almost reached to a point where it was beginning to affect the overall scale of the entire military operation on a strategic level. From this alone, one could realize the current absurdity of the situation, where a single magician was able to disrupt the overall battle plan laid out by the military. What other terms could be as fitting as to describe this magician apart from labelling him as the very incarnation of a Devil? No matter what, he was definitely an opponent that had to be brought down as soon as possible.
Naturally, it was impossible for them to directly engage with the opponent at a height of 12,000 ft, but as long as they reached an altitude of roughly 8000 ft, it was possible to attack back. What was important was that even though their side might not be at their peak, or rather, far from being at their peak, they at least had the absolute advantage in numbers. Furthermore, the opponent was currently flying at a height of 12,000 ft. No matter how much of an irregular he may be, it definitely wasn’t a feat that could be accomplished without suffering from repercussions.

From Tanya’s perspective, it was definitely an unexpected move for the enemy to choose to charge at her while endlessly shouting like maniacs.
They were already heavily fatigued and were scattered about. Thinking that they had already lost their combat potential, she had thus opted to snipe them down one by one from afar, but it appeared that this ended up being nothing but wishful thinking from her end. Although this sudden assault launched by the enemy appeared to be quite reckless and was without any plans, it was actually the most effective move they could have made under that situation.
"The Devil of Rhine! Today we will definitely bring you down!"
"……This should be the first time we’ve met, right?"
However, regardless of Tanya’s bewilderment as to why they would react that way to her, the intense killing intent expressed by the enemy could be clearly be felt upon her body.
While feeling genuinely puzzled by the unnatural conviction displayed by the enemy, Tanya continued to analyze the overall situation of the battle. The movements of the opponents were unexpectedly fast. Furthermore, they were highly irregular. Precision-based attacks would no longer be optimal.
Therefore, it would be best to switch to either explosion-based tactics that were capable of targeting an entire area, or to utilize spatially-targeted homing attacks. Target locked-on. Movement velocity adjusted. Unconsciously, Tanya ended up being guided by the Ellinium Type 95 Orb when selecting the most optimal attack. Neural Linkage established, ion concentration normal, meta-motor cortex parameters updated. System, all green.
——Nicht! <TL: German for "No">

Suddenly, various mana signals both faint and strong could be felt directed at Tanya’s surroundings. The signal types included those belonging to the spatially detonated spell categories which were area-targeted and could not be visually detected, only to detonate the moment they reached the specified spatial coordinates. Even though the opponents had clearly closed the distance to strike back, for me to not have realized in time due to being distracted by their communication, it really was the worst possible moment for me to be making such a critical mistake.
Alarms began to sound in the back of Tanya’s head. Without a thought, the magic-current within the core of the Ellinium Type 95 Orb was immediately redirected to focus on the process for mana materialization. Even though she was aware that doing so would cause a loss of balance, mana was still poured into the Orb without any constraint, all the while at the same time automated evasive maneuvering was being performed. Just as Tanya had barely flew out of the away, the previous location she was in immediately lit up with the lights resulting from mana-induced explosions and barrages which had descended from the sky.
Mixed amongst those bursting lights were a considerable number of explosions from spatially-detonated spells. The shockwaves caused by them alone were strong enough to jostle anyone that came near.
“Tsh… …what should I do now?”
Originally, Tanya had suspicions that the enemy might have belonged to a Highland division, but who would have imagined that they were capable of ignoring the need to adapt to a higher altitudes and were able to directly levitate to a height of 8000 ft. Even when considering the distance between them in terms of height, Tanya had already entered their attacking range. What made it worse was that the opponents had the advantage in numbers. If this was all planned from the beginning then it would seem that the enemy was much more capable than she had initially estimated. Believing that she might have underestimated her opponents, Tanya immediately employed Optical Decoys as a precaution.
At the same time while casting the spell, Tanya performed various maneuvers in order to prevent her flight path from being predicted. However, even after having scattered a number of illusory clones away from her position, the aim of the enemy were still directed at her real bodyJust how are they capable of performing Regulated Shooting at such a fast pace?
"He managed to avoid them all? What a monster!"
Such a noisy bunch, for them to be shouting this loudly on the open transmission line like that. No, could this have been done on purpose? Are they trying to take advantage of their superior numbers? Most likely they wanted to distract me over the radio so that I would lose my concentration, but I will not fall for such tricks again.
The group-oriented combat style called Regulated Shooting is one of the few methods that countered the Aviation Forces of the Empire which relied more on the individual skills of their aerial mages.
In particular, the Republican military have always heavily depended on using numerical advantage in order to compete against the mages of the Imperial military. Amongst the Republican forces currently deployed on this battlefield, the only group of mages that were capable of conducting such precise aerial warfare at such an advanced level would be the Named Squadron that I was previously warned of.
After comparing their mana signatures against the Database Library, I annoyingly discovered that my initial hypothesis was right all along. It was the ultra-troublesome bunch that the combat instructors back at the Empire’s Training Department would constantly warn the new recruits about when giving lectures on opponent tactics. This has clearly gone beyond that of my salary.
"Alerting CP, enemy squadron is Named. I repeat, enemy squadron is Named."
"CP received. Reinforcements are on their way. You do not need to forcefully engage."

The instructions I received this time could truly be described as praiseworthy.
As long as I was not ordered to die, I would be happy. However, in the military world, "courage," and having a "loud voice" are the type of qualities that were well-received by the upper echelons. It was the kind of organization that respected valor over timid compliancy. Such values and practices could only ever be described as abnormal in any other organization. Yet here, it was the only way in order to make yourself stand out. There was no other options to choose.
"Acknowledged. However, this is my battlefield."

Although I did not wish to do this, but my battle achievements and evaluation would have plummeted had I not uttered such words. Thinking back, I really feel amazed at how the Kwantung Army⑰ was able to raise their self-image through sheer boasting. However, it was definitely the right approach to follow in order to distinguish yourself from others. All self-proclaimed patriots are hypocrites.
True patriots demonstrate their patriotism through actions instead of words, but in order to stand out, one would need to do both. Patriotism really is the best tool to achieve recognition in the military, and as a tool, one should never hesitate to use it.
"Regardless of whether the opponents are from the Federation or the Republic, their fate were sealed the moment they set foot on the Empire’s territory; I will annihilate them all without any thought, such was the mission I was entrusted."
The Ellinium Type 95 is a type of Orb which corroded the mind when utilizing it at full power. As a side effect, the user would involuntarily end up praising the mysterious existence X which proclaims itself to be God, such was the nightmarish drawback which could not be avoided. The only slight positive aspect this time was that I could make use of the doctrine employed by the Kwantung army and turn this whole thing into a blatant sideshow for an effective demonstration of my patriotism.
Looking back, there really must be something wrong with the mindset of the entire military for such ill-advised strategies to end up becoming so effective. It was entirely because of this, that the current military ended up producing nothing but idiots that crave only for battle.
Logically speaking, soldiers should be the last ones on Earth to desire for war. This way we would be able to happily receive salary while doing nothing.
"Confirming spatial coordinates, the flight path for each individual target has been calculated, Chamber Magic replenishment is proceeding as normal."
The opponents are trying to utilize their numerical advantage in order to hunt me down. Against the aerial mages of the Republic, attacking them individually will not be effective. I will most likely end up defeated by their sheer numbers if I try. After all, the opponents are soldiers that take pride in their teamwork.
I was rather lucky to have been able to reduce their combat potential at the start using just long-distance sniping. Such opportunities will most likely not happen again. If that’s the case, I will have to switch my tactics. In short, I just need to treat these guys as a single target instead. It will be like giant slaying.
The need to carefully take aim will no longer be required, I just have to target the entire area.
"Alerting CP, please notify the vicinity for incoming spatial detonations."
"CP received. A spatial detonation warning will be issued."
The Ellinium Type 95 is an operation orb capable of utilizing four cores at the same time through synchronization, and furthermore has the ability to store mana. If utilized properly, it is possible to enhance the destructive power of explosion-based spells such that it could cause interference to an entire battlefield. Needless to say, to achieve this would require increasing the output of the orb to its maximum. Without a doubt it would also trigger certain misfortunes to the user.
"Sergeant Jones! Ready the assault!"
Not only would it result in an uncontrollable explosion that would damage all within the vicinity regardless of friend or foe, it would further cause a large-scale, area-wide unconstrained mana interfering noises to manifest in the entire surrounding. The aftereffects of the explosion would even limit the visibility of the battlefield, isolating individual soldiers from their team. Under such circumstances, it will be extremely difficult for well-organized group oriented strategies to be executed. It would be the absolute worst situation to conduct group-battle in.
The Training Department had the following opinion on this tactic, which was, "apart from using it for self-destructive purposes, there was no other useful application. However, if employed in situations where it was an individual versus an organized unit, it can cause significant disruptions and turn the situation into ‘one versus multiple individuals.’" As such, the final evaluation it received was that for group combat, it was terrible, don’t use it, but if it was for individual versus group situations, it can be a surprisingly effective tactic which could to be considered for use.
"Return, intruders of the Republic. The place where we are belongs to the Empire. This is our sky, and our land."
Blatantly professing my nationalism to the surroundings, I hoped to receive positive evaluations for doing this.
Coincidentally, those who are religious were also well-received by the military, so I might as well make use of the curse laid out by Existence X and distinguish myself from others. I will just have to endure it this round. Even though my freedom and dignity will suffer because of it, I did not forget to let waste the bitter emotions I was feeling and fully took advantage to reveal my feelings.
"If thou come bearing malevolence against the Empire, then to God we shall pray to."

The enemy aerial mages began to spread apart. Forming into a cross-like formation, avoiding my line of fire while changing their tactics to that of attrition warfare. The distance between each member was carefully calculated to be longer than the blast radius of typical explosion-based spells.
"O Lord, may your benevolence protect us from the wickedness of man. O Lord, may your righteousness grant us strength to defeat those that intrude our nation."

For them to be capable of performing suppression fire even after having gone through all those intensive maneuvers while at an altitude like this, just how gung-ho can these bunch of lunatics be? Good grief, if they’re this crazy for battle, why not just split into two sides and fight it out between themselves?

Do they really have to drag innocent bystanders in? Have they not been taught that it’s not good to be a nuisance to others? In a matter of fact, something must have gone wrong during their childhood upbringing. A good education and upbringing is indispensable to a child’s future, please don’t make light of it.

Or could it be that they’re doing this for the same reasons like myself—seeking career advancement through battle? Wait, hold on. If that was the case then wouldn’t it be better to conduct this all via a peaceful negotiation where the common interest for both sides could be explored… ...For a rational and business-oriented person like me to have almost forgotten about such possibilities, just what has been happening to me? Have I finally started to lose my rationality to the cruelty of war?

Personal interest should always be placed before everything else, and to achieve that is through negotiation. If the opponents were to have been blasted to smithereens before any dialogue were to have taken place, then it would be impossible to conduct any negotiations.

By the time Tanya became aware of this, her mind was filled with regrets of how easily she had lost herself to the tempo of war. Senseless killing was never something that she particularly enjoyed doing; therefore, as long as there were no personal benefits to be gained, it was something that Tanya perceived to be completely pointless. Indeed, it’s not like this was a zero-sum game, so there shouldn’t be any reasons preventing one from establishing cooperative relations with others.

If that was the case, rather than seriously slaughtering each other, it would be much better to turn it into fixed matches instead. To go from a world of senseless killing into a world of reason, such a win-win relationship should be the desired outcome for both sides.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be done too exorbitantly. Similar to how economists were able to determine through statistics that the Japanese national sports were filled with nothing but fixed matches, even though the hidden truth would one day be revealed, but by then the war would have hopefully been long over. Furthermore, it wasn’t as if economists during war periods would have the time to determine whether or not a war was real or fixed.

“Save us from the invasion of the heretics. O God, grant me the strength to slay our enemies."

I mustered my efforts to continue spouting meaningless phrases while making it seem as if I was initiating a spell. This way I could temporarily prevent CP from uncovering my true intention. If this goes well, I could seize the moment when radio waves are down due to mana inference and conduct negotiations with the opposing party.

The situation at hand was slowly progressing towards the optimal moment. Being aware of this fact, Tanya briefly debated in her mind on the next step to take. Now should be the time to send my message right? And finally made her resolution.

Could the opponent side also be looking for an opportunity to open the window for discussion, to allow both sides the chance to reach an agreement? As a fellow member of society, one should never allow themselves to be bound by preconception. Perhaps in the view of the Republican soldiers, the soldiers of the Empire were to be understood as enemies that must not be trusted.

One must never judge others by appearances alone. Understanding their inner-self is also an essential aspect that must not be ignored. It is important to respect the personalities of others, for each one is unique and irreplaceable.

Even if we are currently amidst a war, when facing against opponents that are open for negotiation, it is important to show them your sincerity. Needless to say, negotiating with the enemy will no doubt get you court-martialed. Abandoning the battle is equivalent to fleeing before the enemy, what would be waiting for you at the end are the faces of the firing squad.

However, as a good hearted person with a strong conscience, if it is possible to avoid a meaningless battle, even at the risk of being labeled as a traitor to the Empire, it is something which I am willing to perform. As long as the opponents are those that are willing to communicate, I am willing to forsake my opportunities for promotion and vacation. When the time comes, I will just have to re-earn them by defending myself from the attacks of other battle-crazed maniacs.

The most important thing to note was that the risk and the amount of labor involved was clearly greater than that of my current salary. It was the kind of work which can almost be considered as charity work to which I have no obligation of doing.

If the opponents are unwilling to communicate, then I will regrettably have to take them down, and enjoy a nice vacation eating delicious food back at home. Even though it was unfortunate that I am not at an age where I can consume wine, but I have heard of a famous sautéed fish dish which they sell in certain districts near the area where I lived. I am very much looking forward to sample that.

“I hereby declare to all that are present, you are currently intruding upon the Empire’s territory.”

No matter what, let’s first start off with a few neutral statements to get the conversation going.

“We will spend every effort in order to defend our nation, because the lives of our people rests behind our backs.”

The fundamental obligation of the military was to protect the people of its nation. Although exceptions always existed, such as the Bouryoku Souchi⑱ or the special forces under the direct command of the Emperor, generally speaking, the primary responsibility for soldiers was still to protect their country. However, there were also cases like Prussia where it was the military that was in charge of the nation instead of the typical way around, so it might not be so wise as to generalize the whole thing, but normally speaking, that was the general gist behind the role of a soldier.

“Answer me. Just why do you desire to invade the Empire, to invade our homeland?”

I seemingly issued a condescending kind of inquiry, taking the initiative to establish communication. A question of this level can be passed off as just an arbitrary remark and allow the opposite side to respond without raising any suspicions.

Well then, how do they plan on responding? In the end, even though expectations were raised, the responses I received were filled with nothing but curses and insults. Are these guys really just nothing but a bunch of animalistic, battle-crazed maniacs? Feeling puzzled by their responses, Tanya couldn’t help but start to question the current mental state of the enemy.

Could it be they weren’t the kind of people that I had initially thought them to be——the rationally minded, economical and business-oriented modern entrepreneurs that pursued mutually beneficial relationships? Or could it be that they too had their rationalities engulfed by the madness of war? If that was the case, it really was regrettable. However, at the same time this also meant that I will have to continue on accompanying them in this meaningless battle. It really was the worst outcome one could have hoped for.

Suddenly I felt the urge to request additional overtime pay along with extra compensation for being placed in an excessively dangerous and hazardous working environment. The only thing that was stopping me from doing so was because I didn’t know where to lodge the applications. It wasn’t written anywhere within the rules and regulations…...which almost made me feel like as if I was a child that was trying to raise pointless fuss because things didn’t go my way; it wouldn’t be strange to say that I feel as if I wanted to cry but no tears would come out.

“Warning. To all troops within this battle zone, please be on alert for the incoming influx of mana-induced interference noise."

As planned, CP issued a warning according to my prior instructions. I have also accumulated enough magic power for now. Now then, if these guys really were the kind of businessmen I had initially taken them to be, without a doubt they would choose any value over the numerical number zero.

In other words, as long as the radio waves have not deteriorated to the point where all contacts have been lost, it was possible some of the people were simply overly-cautious and did not wish to take risks in exposing their thoughts. If they were the kind of reasonable people like that, would it not be likely that should they manage to survive the incoming explosion, they would then choose a more reasonable solution than what they had previously planned?

At least, if it was me, that’s what I would pick. If that was the case, then I will need to quickly end it and wrap things up. Setting aside all hesitation and unnecessary thoughts, and concentrate on the current task at hand; muster all of my efforts in controlling the accumulated mana, and willingly allow foreign thoughts to enter my mind.

“O Saints, let us believe in the grace of our Lord, for we who knew not of fear.”

A sense of liberation could felt as I forcefully released the mana which had been gathered. Even though the feeling of having all of your mana sucked out from every cell of your body would normally cause one to cry out due to the excessive amount of pain, it was prevented this time around by the curse of the Ellinuim Type 95. The curse forcefully turned pain into euphoria, a feeling which was difficult to describe, yet nevertheless caused no small amounts of discomfort.

A unique blend of joy and pain forcefully assaulting your head, it was the worst kind of feeling if one had to describe it.

“Oooh, lament not of our fate, for the Lord hath not forsaken us!!”

The feeling of euphoria running throughout my entire body, along with a sense of having my freedom deprived, has finally reached a level which I could no longer tolerate. If it was possible, I would have immediately opened my mouth and cursed out loud, yet I could not do so as most likely what have would come out instead would have been nothing but praises to the “Lord.” Although I hate having to admit this, but the one good thing those annoying communists did right was to treat religion like a type of addiction and completely banned all practices of it.

In the views of the Chicago School of Economics, narcotics should be considered as just another form of commodity which can be regulated using the economy.

Although having said that, the main problem is that the “narcotic” I am using simply isn’t something I can just quit anytime I want. If not handled properly, I will most likely end up worse than dying. It really is a nuisance which knows no bounds. Looks like even the Chicago School did not take into account drugs which would kill you the moment you try to leave them.

“In the distant end of our journey, we shall reach the Promised Land.”

At that moment, a process similar to the vaporization of a thermobaric explosion was initiated. Mana in the purest condensed form was rapidly discharged at a rate which could not be fathomed. Explosions began to formulate through the heating of the discharged mana, and as they dispersed and made contact with the open air, a wide area unconstrained mana-induced explosion was initiated. The drastic changes in atmospheric pressure could bring on acute pulmonary atelectasis and lung congestion, and furthermore causes the already thin concentration of oxygen level in the air to drop below to a critical level.
Experiencing hypoxia and carbon monoxide poisoning at an altitude of 8000 feet would cause even the most well-trained aerial mages to black out and fall. In unlucky situations where if one were to somehow barely hold-on and maintain their consciousness, they would soon experience horrendous amount of pain in an unimaginable way. This torturous experience was brought on by a series of acute pulmonary atelectasis and carbon monoxide poisoning, coupled with the various symptoms caused from the drastic drop in arterial blood-oxygen level within the body.

“Tshh, … geho … ahek.”
Even Tanya who was outside the effective range of the attack experienced difficulty in breathing due to the lack of oxygen. It was hard to imagine the situation of those caught within. Should they somehow manage to survive, the most they could do would be to barely maintain their altitude, and that might not even last much longer due to the phenomenon formed from the aftereffects of unconstrained mana-induced explosion, causing a widespread influx of mana interference noise.
This not only caused disruptions to wireless communication, but even made it difficult to maintain sustained spells like flight, making it impossible for the battle to continue. Although the low visibility which arose from the smoke clouds could still make things troublesome, it was easy to imagine the outcomes of those caught within a direct blast radius of the spell.

“To the forces of Republican Army, the outcome of this battle has been decided.”
Therefore, Tanya attempted to persuade the remaining opponents to surrender. Although whether or not there would even be survivors was a thing to be wondered at, it wouldn’t hurt to at least give it a try.
Well, if no survivors were to be found, it wouldn’t be bad to take the credit for annihilating an entire squadron and enjoy a nice vacation break back at the capital.
“If you are willing to surrender, our army will follow the Hague Convention and guarantee your rights as captives.”

For the Republican army which relied on numerical advantage to overwhelm their opponents, they possessed a strong belief that such strategies could also prevail against the Named forces of the Empire. However, due to the rarity of Named and their strategic value, they were rarely deployed except during critical battles, causing their fame on the battlefronts to be immense but elusive.
The 106th and 107th Reconnaissance Mage Squadrons of the 42nd Aerial Mage Group belonging to the 4th Aerial Mage Division were also one of the immensely well-known elite units on the battlefield. Or at least, until recently.
“Now then, let us commence the meeting in regards to the recent annihilation of the 106th and 107th Reconnaissance Mage Squadrons.”
According to their initial calculation, the main forces of the Imperial Army which contained Named mages were deployed at the frontlines against the Federation, hence, could not be re-mobilized within a certain time period. Thus it was almost impossible to encounter scenarios where their troops would be annihilated by enemy forces consisting of elites lead by Named.
However, such events still occurred. Furthermore, it was at the hands of a single magician, even though their side held an overwhelming advantage in numbers. If one were to hear of such tales, they would undoubtedly wonder whether or not they have misheard.
“Both the 106th and 107th Squadron, when carrying out their mission in suppressing enemy observatory mages, made contact with opponent reinforcements.”
Due to the necessity of repelling long distance aggression, enemy Named forces were ordered to takeoff. After all, it was a difficult task to entrust to any other troops. However, the fact that they were able to deal significant damage despite their severe lack of numbers turned it into a situation that most likely impacted the overall state of the war.
For the attending military officers that understood of this fact, they couldn’t help but to put on a solemn expression.
“These are summaries of reports collected from the operation orbs retrieved after the battle, as well as accounts taken from the survivors.”
However, the expressions of the attending Magic Officers in charge of data analysis were even more somber than others, due to having already analyzed the information and recordings beforehand.
In regards to the inquiries made to the survivors, although there were some difficulties due to the extent of the injuries suffered, the contents collected so far were already shocking to hear.
Were it not collected from the few remaining survivors that had gone through ordeals of life and death, the contents of their recounts most likely would not have been believed. No, it should be said as not willing to be believed.
“…As such, first, please take a look at these recordings taken during the battle."
[Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!]
This was the emergency distress signal used when coming into contact with the enemy. For the Front Threatre Air Controller, who was supposed to remain calm and clear-headed throughout all stages of the engagement, to sound the alert while losing his cool like that, such an incident might have been laughed at if it was done by a rookie soldier, but for a veteran like him it was very unusual. He was also the first to report 106th’s annihilation as well as having issued a general order of retreat. It was thanks to him that the survivors of the 106th and 107th squadrons were able to barely make it back from the battlefield.
[Break! Break!]
Within the noise-filled screen, displayed the figures of soldiers quickly obeying the issued command. For the Aerial Mage Officers who had viewed the recordings beforehand, even now they found themselves in disbelief with the scenes that followed after.
The data logged at that moment, recorded a value far exceeding the maximum known distance for long range optical-based precision sniping.
The 106th squadron immediately performed evasive maneuvering.
Due to the drastic changes in their flight trajectory, the shakiness of the screen reached an unaccountable new height. Even within this short time period, several soldiers have already been shot down from the sky.
[Bandit! Angel 12!!]
[Angel 12!?]
An attack from an altitude of 12 000 ft. Such a feat could truly be described as difficult to believe and to comprehend.
Although this information has already been relayed to the rear via emergency channels, should the matter that magicians of the Imperial military were able to reach an altitude twice that of the current flying limit were discovered to be true, this would completely nullify the combat potential of all other aerial mages.
No one was sure who exactly had uttered that phrase. However, it precisely reflected the feelings of those present in the headquarters as a whole. The numerical digit of 12 000, this value caused their brains to ache. Such a figure simply should not exist in this day and age.
In a matter of fact, the attending staff officers at the time also wondered if it might have been an enemy fighter aircraft that had appeared instead. However, the opponent was undoubtedly a magician.
Following a series of complex optical processing methods, the resulting images revealed the standard rifle used by the Imperial Army along with unknown mana signatures emanating from the enemy’s operation orb.
Due to the distance, it was impossible to clearly observe the features of the enemy soldier. Although the figure was noted to be of particularly small stature, it had a composure like that of a ruler, leisurely cruising through the sky, as if all obstacles were useless in front of its presence.
Right after, confirmation that the opponent being a Registered Magicianwas made by the 106th squadron. What made it worse was that the opponent was a newly Named magician that had just emerged during the start of this war. All details regarding the magician were unknown. Forget about countermeasures, even knowledge of the common tactics and spells employed by the enemy were unknown.
Although headquarters had been kicking the butts of those at the Intelligence Bureau in order to get them to reinvestigate, information coming from the frontlines had already become diluted with nothing but rumors. Such as tales of a lone enemy soldier taking down an entire squadron, or rumors of a magician flying at an impossible altitude, etc.

This was the frontlines afterall. While it was expected for there to be a certain amount of confusion in the accuracy of the incoming reports, the abnormality of the opponent this time caused a delay in verifying the validity of those information. Letting such an opportune window of timing go to waste was rather regrettable.
“This goddamn Devil of Rhine!”
“Stop that, Captain Cargill. Who is this Devil of Rhine?”
“An unknown enemy Named. We can only identify him at this stage through his magic signature. ”
The face of the intelligence officer when questioned began to turn blue. “Only able to identify via magic signature,” in other words, nothing else was known. This was almost the same as confessing straight up to the other military officers present that those at the Intelligence Bureau were completely incompetent.

An ample amount of information can be obtained from analyzing just the data collected from the operation orbs taken during battle. In other words, having no information would mean either the intelligence officers had neglected their duties or that none of the operation orbs were able to record any useful data.
“Have the recordings been properly analyzed?”
Naturally, the Chief of Staff in charge of the current session asked the question that everyone had been wanting to hear, which practically meant; are you bastards so incompetent that even the basics of your job couldn’t be properly handled?
“Regarding the cores of the operation orbs recovered from those slain on the battlefield, analysis has been completed on seventeen of them so far. As for the orbs of the survivors, all of them have been analyzed.”

However, the response from the Intelligence Bureau was concise and clear. They really did complete their task. Furthermore, they were also the first ones that had sent out the report detailing the annihilation brought on by an unknown enemy mage.

A special investigation squad was even formed, deliberately letting the enemy opponents shoot them down so as they could retrieve the corpses of fallen magicians. At the end, they were able to recover the majority of the operation orbs, as well as perform investigations on the remains in order to uncover as many details as possible regarding the incident.

…...However, nothing useful was uncovered.

Despite the mountains of evidence that indicated the existence of the enemy magician, no other information could be obtained.

“……And after all that, the only information uncovered was the magic signature of the enemy? Just how did this happen?”

“Almost every person that came close to the enemy perished. Whereas the majority of the survivors were shot down from afar.”

Every mage that came into close contact with the opponent had their entire body scorched and blown to smithereens. The protective outer shells of the retrieved operation orbs were further melted, damaging the cores. For conventional weapons to reach this level of destructive power would require either the equivalent of direct hits by heavy artillery or roughly one ton of heavy explosives.

For there to exist a magician capable of both overwhelming their opponents at close range as well as being proficient at conducting long range, precision-based attacks, the Intelligence Bureau had already classified him as a strategic-level threat. Although the mana signature of this magician has yet to be validated, it had already been registered on the military database.

The alias “Devil of Rhine” was given due to the hatred and fear they felt for an opponent that couldn’t be seen on the battlefield. After all, it has only been two months since the first verified appearance of this Devil, yet if recorded correctly, the confirmed number of casualties already reached more than sixty.

Due to the appearance of enemy Named forces, headquarters from the frontline had urgently requested for a counter subjugation team.

“Continuing on, this is the miraculous recording recovered from the operation orb of a deceased member of the 106th squadron, moments before it lost its functionality.”

Projected from within the screens, was the figure of a lone enemy opponent gracefully avoiding the concentrated fire of an entire squadron. Despite the sheer amount of spells directed at the enemy, none of them seemed to have landed even close, making the viewers wonder just where in the world were their side aiming at. What further made the scene unbelievable was the manner in the way the opponent avoided the incoming projectiles, which could only be described as elegant and calm.

“…….It’s almost …as if a dance is being conducted?”

Mesmerized by the movements displayed within the screen, one couldn’t help but to murmur quietly in admiration.

As the brightness of the spells intensified to a maximum, countless rays of lights could be seen pouring down from the sky. Yet amongst this intensive barrage of spells, the figure of the opponent could still be observed gracefully dancing within this sparkling world of lights. As irritating as it might sound, not a single spell seemed to have landed.

Although it was unclear who exactly had given this name, but the alias “Devil of Rhine” fit very well with the displayed scene. To be capable of slipping through the concentrated fire of an entire squadron in such a calm and carefree manner, no matter how one thought of it, it was beyond the norm.

“Is it due to mobility issues that caused our technique of Regulated Shooting to fail?”

“In other words, the opponent possesses a mobility far superior than our troops?”

In the past, in order to counter the superior individual skills displayed from mages of the Imperial army, the Republican military developed the technique of regulated shooting. By relying on teamwork and the advantage in numbers, it was capable of easily bringing down overconfident mages that carelessly approached the Republican forces.

Although this kind of military doctrine heavily relied on the condition of having a numerical advantage over their opponents, but for the Republican army, it was already a good enough solution. Hence began the belief that as long as the barrage of assault has been properly initiated, not a single magician is capable of surviving it.

“Spatial detonations were also avoided. Most likely, the enemy sensed the locations that were aimed at and avoided them in the last second.”

“Performing evasive maneuvering in matters of seconds? Wouldn’t that mean the opponent is capable of completely avoiding all mana-based attacks?”

The basic concept behind regulated shooting was to first make use of large amounts of magic-guided shells to heavily inhibit the enemy’s retreat routes while then proceeding to shoot directly at them. At the same time, the speed and orientation of the opponent was measured, followed by bombarding the predicted routes of the enemy using explosion-based magic, aiming to propel them into the blast radius of the explosions.

However, if it was impossible to aim and measure the movements of the opponent then the effectiveness of this combat method would be significantly reduced. It was a method that heavily relies on the teamwork and synergies of an entire group; a group-oriented combat style. In other words, if this method of combat becomes ineffective, then the merit of fighting together as a team would also be rendered as near useless.

The heartbeats of the attending military officers momentarily tightened as they held their breath in silence. The amount of mana projected from the enemy’s operation orb not only had exceeded the limits of measurement, but the phenomenon of the physical materialization of mana had also began to manifest, amplifying the magic intensity by several folds. An overbearing amount of light was further created from the mixture of multiple interference patterns that resonated due to the collision of mana elements.

A type of magic that would normally require the combined efforts of multiple mages in order to initiate was suddenly brought forth by the hands of a single magician from the Imperial military.

“The observation machine also showed that the amount of mana manifested at that time exceeded the limit of measurement.”

“No way!? If that’s the case…”

The words that were being uttered abruptly stopped as the recorded reactions of the stabilization of mana elements were displayed in front of their eyes. An entire category of mana that could not be measured or analyzed; it was a unique phenomenon that countless mages and nations had attempted to achieve in the past but had given up.

In theory, the manifestation of mana in the physical world was regarded as an impossible phenomenon to realize due to the spatial interference caused from the instability of individual mana elements. It has always been considered as pure madness to attempt experiments on the topic of the realization of mana in its physical form, as it was taken for granted to be not feasible.

“…Impossible, that’s just not possible!”

The technology officer who understood more on this topic than anyone else frankly began to deny the reality of the situation. This could no longer be considered as magic that could be explained through science and technology, but more like something at the realm of fairy tales and legends.

[If thou come bearing malevolence against the Empire, then to God we shall pray to.]

The appearance of the figure recorded with the maximum amount of zoom quickly shocked the entire audience to silence. Although what was displayed might still be blurry and was filled with noise, it was impossible to mistake it as anything else.

“… … Isn’t that just a child?”

The appearance of the enemy Magician could only be described as very young. Yet the words that were being spoken carried forth a weight of destruction and annihilation. Together with the absurd amount of mana detected within the atmosphere, the chilliness of her voice betrayed hints heralding the soon-incoming descent of onslaught.

If the God that you pray to truly existed, would that being happen to be the Devil or the God of Destruction? The words that were said on screen couldn’t help but cause the listeners to quietly hold their heads in frustration as they sought for the salvation of the Lord.

[O Lord, may your benevolence protect us from the wickedness of man. O Lord, may your righteousness grant us strength to defeat those that intrude of our nation.]

However, her words were pure and sincere, containing an innocence that could be reflected from the gaze of her eyes. Can this girl really be considered as an enemy magician? The words that she had been uttering were nothing but prayers.

[Please save us from the invasion of the heretics. O God, grant me the powers to slay our enemies.]

Are we truly beings that should not be allowed to exist? One couldn’t help but to retort such phrases after seeing the pitiful gaze that she bore, as if judging them for their sins.

[I hereby declare to those that are present, you are currently intruding upon the Empire’s territory.]

It was as if she was a Miko come bearing in arms with the decrees of god, those words clearly contained the weight of faith behind them.

[We will spend every effort in order to defend our nation, because the lives of our people rests behind our backs.]

The words that were uttered were filled with a sense of duty. Just this alone was able to convey to the viewers that this was her duty, together with the emotions of wishing to protect her people.
It was for that reason alone that brought her to stand before them.
[Answer me. Just why do you desire to invade the Empire, to invade our homeland?]
Perhaps it was due to a sense of urgency that disaster would soon befall upon them, the 106th Squadron began to heavily concentrate their remaining firepower, giving their all to hinder the opponent’s chanting, even if it was just to delay it for a little while longer.
[O Saints, let us believe in the grace of our Lord, for we who knew not of fear.]
However, reality was cruel. Fate was not on their side. Even if God was watching, he would only be smiling at her.
[Lament not of our fate, for the Lord hath not forsaken us!]
The condensed mana that had been gathered began to crackle, filling the observation device with noise. Suggesting that the concentration of mana elements present in the atmosphere at that moment was high enough to cause distortions to the spatial dimensions of reality.
[At the distant end of our journey, we shall reach the Promised Land.]
It was as if that entire sentence was the key which opened the secrets of Pandora’s Box. The thoughts of the audience halted as the monitor in front of them began to glow at an intensity beyond imaginable. Until finally, the operation orb was damaged to the point that it lost all functionality, causing the recording to forcefully end at that moment.
“…Oh, God, please have mercy on our souls.”
God, is this…truly what you have been hoping for?


① The quote is from Sun Tzu: the art of war http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/chin/Suentzyy/Suentzyy01.html

② The LN listed it as Philopon (ヒロポンhiropon), a Japanese brand of meth which was widely used by the pilots of the Axis military during WWII. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_and_culture_of_substituted_amphetamines

⑦ Maginot Line - France spent a significant amount of their national budget (3.3 billion franc in the year 1930) to construct this defensive line. The sad thing was that Germany had no intention of attacking and went around it, resulting in the units garrisoning the Maginot defence line being unable to contribute to the war effort. Despite announcing ‘the Maginot line is secured’, the enemy chose to bypass them by attacking through the Ardennes and low countries (western Europe coastal region), a pitiful fortress that was ravaged by an attack from the rear. The classic example of how a concept might be good, but no matter how great an idea was, it would be useless if its potential couldn’t be brought out.

⑧Tsujiinkyuu つじーん級. The origin of the word refers to the bizarre military officer Masanobu Tsuji. It describes a person who is mediocre (the hardworking but half-baked type), and further possesses the capability to take actions. Regardless of whether it was a good thing or not, the person has a strong sense of pride, and all in all, a highly toxic person. Someone who was prone to making self-guided decisions, taking actions on their own without seeking permission or advice. His actions has resulted in people realizing just how critical a decent leadership was to the military organization. Yet despite all of the blunders he made, no punishment was ever handed out and he somehow was able to enjoy an extremely successful career and later on became a member of Diet and was even re-elected twice. This world is really filled with mysteries.

⑫ Valhalla - The place where the souls of the heroes who died in battle are summoned. In other words, asking someone to choose victory or Valhalla means if you don’t want to die, you must achieve victory. But most of them will go to Valhalla anyway.

⑭ Echelon (梯団teidan) - Military term. During an attack, the first wave is called the first teidan, the next one is called the 2nd teidan. When several units are grouped together, such terms would be used. TL: There is no direct English term as far as I can tell, the closest English military word to match it is “echelon” but it is not a perfect fit.

⑮ The original text had it as (皇国koukoku) which roughly translates to Empire in English. It is different to the main “empire” in this series which is (帝国teikoku). In order to make distinctions, we decided to call it the Imperium instead. 皇国 is often associated with the Japanese Empire, so most likely, the author was referencing to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Japanese_War

⑯ Angel and Bandit are military terms. Angel is a unit of measurement for altitude and Bandit is a term for enemy aircraft. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiservice_tactical_brevity_code

⑱ The rough translation of Bouryoku Souchi is something along the lines of a violence squad: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%9A%B4%E5%8A%9B%E8%A3%85%E7%BD%AE

Ⓐ The LN listed it as Treaty of Worms (ヴォルムス陸戦条約) but the English wiki article didn’t make too much sense so we switched to the Hague Convention https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Worms_(1743) >

Ⓑ The LN calls it (ネームド "Named"), like a noun, eg. "enemy Named spotted”. It sounds slightly strange in English but we decided to follow through with it. Just think of it as referring to “Named Ones” or “Named Pilots” when our text simply says “Named”.

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  1. The current translation progress is rather slow at times because I am only able to spend around 3 to 4 hours per week on average for this project. We would greatly appreciate it if more translators are willing to come and contribute to speed things up!

    1. Thank you for all your hard work, Sifa! I really wish I knew Chinese or Japanese so I could do something instead of just being a leecher :P Well, even if it's two chapters a year, as long as the project isn't dropped, I'm happy!

    2. Thanks for your time Sifa-chan! Keep it up! <3

    3. Thanks for the translation.
      One note, I'm pretty sure it should be "IvanoVNa"
      It is a common russian middle name.

    4. Thanks so much for your hard work! Much appreciated, seriously.

    5. I might be able to help translate give me a heads up for more detail.

    6. For those interested, please send an email to skythewood@gmail.com~

  2. wow, 30mins early, thank you for you hard work :D

  3. OH MY GOD it's here, thankyouthankyouthankyou I've been waiting for this moment for so long!

    1. Were you perchance holding a Type 95 when typing this?

    2. ^lmao that took me a second

  4. Thank you for the New Chapter
    I've been waiting for this....

  5. Thank you very much for translating~ Hehehe i had to reread in between paragraphs and even the whole chapter three times just to understand it, and even then i still can't fully comprehend because of some terms, your notes were very helpful though <3

  6. This behemoth chapter really was worth the wait. Thks and cant wait for next!

  7. wow I spent 2 hours reading this slowly and carefully. and I'm full of hype. Completely hyped for the fact the Mc Is adorable and is seemingly op in the eyes of the enemies but in her eyes it's suicidal and impossible.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. thanks for the chaps.

    they're finally have a face to the our MC....

  10. I have been patiently waiting for this for so long. Many thanks to the translators.

  11. Thank you for the super long chapter!

  12. such a long delicious story thank you.

  13. Thank you for the long chapter.

  14. Its worth waiting for. Thank you.

  15. What a long yet satisfying chapter. This was worth the wait. Thanks for translating it.

    PS. It seems like the god is being praised in an unexpected matter.. I'm looking forward to it..

  16. Thanks for the chapter! Wish i was capable enough to contribute but alas.

  17. This was beautiful :) thank you for the great work.

  18. Thank you very much for the update! Much love!

  19. It seriously took me almost 3 hours to finish reading this holy shit lol.

  20. Thanks for the humongous chapter

  21. Thanks for the chapter.

    “No, this is machine is flawed.” <- one "is" shouldn't be there.

    Also, how may hours took you to translate this? If you told me the chapter was half the book, or even the entire book, I would believe you.

    1. "without noticing the remaining forces of the enemy teidan had already began to retreat"<- also, you had been translating it as "echelon" up till now, going as far as to add a note o it, so, why the sudden change?

    2. Thanks! Will fix them soon. This chapter still hasn't been fully cleaned/edited/proofread yet. We ran out of time and had to release the half edited draft version, the fully edited version will be out in a few more days.

  22. Are all the chapters as behemoth as this? Amazing work. The length far exceeds that of others more releases, so I think your translation speed might be amongst the fastest.

    BTW, I wouldn't try to push for earlier releases, since some of us might question your humanity. That, and I think you could kill yourself from overwork.

  23. Just amazing. Thanks for the chapter.

  24. Oh~ Thanks for the new chapter =D
    by the way great banner xD

  25. The chapter is stupendously long! Haha, good work there to translate the whole thing. I'd love to have more chapters quickly but it can't be help when there's so much for a translator to do without more helpers. Please keep the project up! I've been reading the past chapters and waited till now for so long and still motivated for more, aye!

  26. I wonder when the anime' adoptation will start?

  27. This was worth waiting for, thanks again.

  28. Thank for the release.

  29. Thanks 4 the chapter!

    The Goddess Artillery and her loli angel of destruction.

  30. Thanks for the release.

    Being kinda Familiar with Military Jargon, I cant help with noticing the unusual term "Mobile Strike Force", there is Military strategy called the Mobile Defene.

    But what the novel suggesting seems that it was equivalent to Quick Reaction Force or (QRF) Unit in todays military.

    the other thing, were regarding "Artilery the god of Battlefield" might refer to 2 Things
    1. The Stalin once mention that "the Artilery is the God of War"
    2. Napoleon Quote which say "Artillery is the king of Battles"

    1. God fights on the side with the best artillery

      British artillery men knows only 2 things, artillery men and everything else are targets

  31. Worth every second spent reading :D Thanks heaps! <3<3

  32. Hello i have a question about konosuba, what is the difference between the normal and explosion? is explocion a continuation, different translation or a spin off?

    1. I believe Gifting the world with Explosion is a spin off about Megumin and her sister(didn´t really read neither)

    2. I've read it. It's a prequel. It's three volumes about when Megumin was still a student in the Red Eye Village, then her trip to Beginner Town and then finally a few weeks while she was there but had yet to join Kazuma's party. Remember, Kazuma was in that town for a few weeks before putting up that poster recruiting party members

  33. Thanks for your work

  34. I wish to be born as Tanya subordinate and die by her orders an each time i would die i would wish to be reborn just so i can be still of use @^@. ALL HAIL TANYA Thank god for this novel and for you who translate it.

  35. Cast in the name of God, Ye not guilty

  36. Thank you for the chapter.

    I like the paralelism between WWII fighter aces and Mages. Especially the fact that now the protagonist has a weingman.

    I just wonder if the protyagonist shouldn't be more of a celebrity on his own side...

  37. Thanks for the meal!

  38. Thank you sooo muuuch! :)

  39. Whew... What a long chapter. Thank you for the chapter.

  40. Thanks for the long chapter!!!

  41. Wow.. such a long chapter! It's very pleasing to read this novel, so thank you so much Sifa and Sky! Your translation is of great quality too!

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. Thank you very much for your work.

  44. Very enjoyable! Thanks for the translation.

  45. THANKS SOOO MUCH FOR THIS SKY!!! this story its simply amazing, I can`t imagine how many hours were spent for its traslation XD

  46. thanks for the chapter guys, it seems i am 14 days late, i don't know why but i just opened this page for the heck of it and pop a new chapter, so happy. again thanks for the great work. this was a giant chapter.
    oh i must really agree with tanya, incompetent leaders are more dangerous than competent enemies. how could they have not considered that they were going ot be invaded, while they are invading themselves?
    anyways, praise the lord nad the translators for having delivered this to us.

  47. Cat take the capitan Schwarzkopf siriously at all, I keep thinking bout the shampoo brand... well at first I just brust out laughing when I read his name..