City Series:Volume1 Chapter 1
Chapter 1: The Legend Activates
It was night and the moon was hidden by the clouds.
The wind was strong and it was more than just a winter wind. This wind was filled with the chill of high altitude.
This was the deck of the Bladlikburg, an aerial aircraft carrier of the German air force.
The metal deck was large enough for a track meet and several people stood on the front. The men all wore military uniforms and they formed a half circle.
A tall soldier stood in the center of their formation.
He appeared to be the commander and he was wrapped in a tougher and icier atmosphere than the surrounding soldiers.
He stared straight forward to the edge of the deck inside the half-circle formation. Their prey stood there.
That prey was a young man in a lab coat. His pure white clothing seemed to glow in the darkness.
His long black hair was tied back and the bottom of his coat danced in the wind.
The commander spoke to him.
“Are you sure you will not hand over your information on the dp-XXX, Walter?”
The voice rang loudly even in the sky and the young man named Walter brought a hand to his head and showed off a bitter smile.
“I’m really not sure what to do here.” His far too cheerful voice also rang loudly. “You promised us we could hold an experimental space launch if we built a powerful engine, didn’t you? So how did things get like this exactly?”
“That engine is too dangerous. That is all.”
Walter’s bitter smile transformed into a laugh.
“Ha ha ha. Now you’re just being silly, Oscar. Just say the military wants the tech for themselves. It’s not nice to lie.”
“You are the one being silly. You do not honestly think you can reach space with that engine, do you?”
“With just one, probably not. You’d need to put in at least three of them.”
Oscar looked the other man in the eye when he heard that.
“I saw the experiment. When two of those engines are used together, they interfere with each other and refuse to function!”
“That’s because of all the fine-tuning we did to make sure the moonlight wouldn’t mess with them. But even one of them produces as much energy as five of the current engines. That’s why the military wants them, isn’t it?”
In the thirties, the military…no, the entire world used spirit engines that used spirit stones.
Spirit stones were a stone made from crystallized ether.
Ether was the element that made up all things, including space itself. Long ago, people had believed in the four classical elements, but research in the late eighteenth century had revealed that there was only a single basic element.
Spirit engines used spirit stones to draw out energy.
Emblems that determined the arrangement of ether were carved into the engines. When ether flowed from the spirit stones, it would travel through the grooves which would determine its form. Ether that touched a fire emblem would become fire.
But even though spirit engines could create fire, water, thunder, and wind, they also had a massive flaw.
Spirit stones would resonate with the light of the moon and their output would be sent out of control. Enough machines had lost control during nights with strong moonlight that night activities had been banned during the previous great war.
It was not known why they were so affected by moonlight. Around the beginning of the twentieth century, scholars had thrown in the towel and simply declared it a “law of nature”.
Ever since, spirit engines were only used outside of the moonlight because no one had discovered a method of avoiding that mysterious law.
The military had simply thought Walter’s group was creating a new design for that same type of engine.
Oscar wrinkled his brow before speaking.
“And who do you think will allow you to foolishly try to reach space?”
“Don’t be stupid. You don’t need anyone’s permission to transcend the sky.”
“Why are you so intent on defying us?”
Walter uncrossed his arms and exaggeratedly placed a hand on his forehead.
“Why, you ask?”
“Well, you see…”
“My burning spirit of justice won’t allow me to hand it over to the military. Ha ha ha.”
The soldier standing next to Oscar looked up at his commander.
“Can I fill him with lead?”
“No, that is just the sort of man he is. Be patient.”
Oscar took a step forward.
“You are young and you are rushing things, Walter. If you leave the dp-XXX with the military, you will receive even more funding and all the technology you need to reach space. Why not wait until then?”
“You really are dumb. If I have to hand it over to the military, I might as well patent it and sell it to America. I’d make enough money to live the rest of my life in luxury.”
“America!?” shouted Oscar. “We need that engine for our nation!”
Walter stared right back at the man.
“Our nation, huh?”
He was no longer smiling.
He stuck his hands in his lab coat’s pockets, raised his shoulders a little, and looked up into Oscar’s eyes.
“You really do say some ridiculous things.”
Twenty years before, Oscar had returned alive from the front lines of the previous great war. The nation he had returned to had been just as exhausted as him.
Ever since, he had dedicated his life to rebuilding his nation as a soldier. Even now that he had a wife and daughter, that had not changed.
And that was why he glared at the young man before him.
“I am the one saying ridiculous things?”
His emphasized word pushed back at Walter’s gaze.
“That would be you. You have no idea if your idea will work, so why not put that technology to more efficient use!?”
“We didn’t create the dp-XXX for something so boring.”
Walter took a step back and stood on the cliff-like edge of the deck.
With nowhere left to go, he spoke slowly and clearly.
“We care more about what we want to do than about anything as ridiculous as a nation or the military.”
That was a way of thinking that Oscar could never understand. For better or for worse, he was an excellent soldier and an adult.
Everyone had something that ran counter to their nature.
He replied to those words by announcing his decision.
“Negotiations have failed.”
“Wow, you sure can make up your mind nicely, Oscar.”
Oscar formed a bitter smile only on his lips.
“I have made up my mind. I will deal with you here.”
“Hmm. You can act all cool if you want…”
“But next time you let someone on your ship, you should probably check what they’re carrying with them.”
With that, Walter pulled something from his lab coat’s right pocket.
He held what looked like a small black communicator.
“I managed to buy enough time.”
The young man’s line was accompanied by an urgent announcement behind Oscar and the other soldiers.
“Emergency! Emergency! Addressing all ships! An unidentified craft is approaching from five o’clock! It is moving extremely quickly!”
Oscar turned toward the deck speaker producing the voice.
…What is approaching?
As if to answer that question, the hatch onto the deck opened and a young officer ran out.
The young man looked well-bred and wore his uniform impeccably.
“Major General Oscar!” he shouted while holding his cap in place. “Please hurry back inside!”
The young officer’s blue eyes faced Walter instead of Oscar.
“The dp-XXX has destroyed the Wagner Laboratory and is headed this way! We will be sending out the Eisen Soldat, so please leave the deck! This will be a dogfight!”
That statement was important. Knowing what it meant, Oscar turned toward Walter.
Walter gave a quiet smile toward the young officer standing next to Oscar.
“Sounds like you have it rough, Mayer. Military work is restricting, isn’t it?”
“Walter!” shouted the young officer named Mayer even as he tried to catch his breath. “A-are you picking a fight with the military!?”
“Wow, you’re asking that too? It was all of you that started the fight here. All I did was virtuously and kindly reject your offer.”
“But you did it in a cruel and over-the-top way, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, but whoever picked the fight, it’s starting after everything’s already settled. And in that case…how should I put it? Well, if you view it like a financial deal…”
He took a breath.
“You’re gonna be in the red.”
Suddenly, the deck shook as if it had sunk down.
Their knees threatened to collapse underneath them as the shaking continued three more times. Light resembling sparks scattered down below the deck.
Eisen Soldat, the fighter craft attached to the aerial aircraft carrier’s port side, had been sent out.
The sparks were the light produced when the craft were launched from their connectors. To provide initial velocity, they were fired out liked bullets using spirit gunpowder.
After a moment’s delay, the ship shook four more times as the craft on the starboard side were launched.
A ship-wide announcement reached the deck.
“Fighter craft launch complete. Unit 1 will reach the unidentified ship in seventy-one seconds! Unit 2 will be in position to protect our airspace in thirty-five seconds! All hands…”
Oscar frowned at that announcement and Mayer shouted out.
“Fall back! And tell those down below that this is not an unidentified ship! It is an enemy ship!”
Mayer turned to Walter without bothering to watch the soldiers run off.
“Do you think you’ve won!?”
“The unidentified ship is not responding to our communications!” continued the announcement. “It is maintaining its direct course! The fighter craft are moving to intercept! …It’s fast! This is twelve seconds sooner than predicted!”
That was the signal.
The deck’s lights all lit and faint light leaked from below the deck as well.
Four lights could be seen ascending into the night sky from below, two on each side. They were the four craft tasked with protecting the Bladlikburg.
An alarm blared.
“Unit 1 has made contact!”
The announcement filling the night sky briefly stopped.
The soldiers slowly backed away and frowned. Oscar realized Walter was the only one smiling in that tense atmosphere.
…Is he convinced he can defeat the military?
He received an answer an instant later.
“Three of the fighter craft were destroyed! The enemy ship…is undamaged! At this rate…It will collide with us!”
The announcement ended there.
The wind could not even shake the Bladlikburg, but it seemed to hop up now.
It was enough of a tremor to send everyone aboard a little airborne. A great rumbling accompanied it. If any one of them had been calm enough to think, they would have realized the impact came from the shockwave of something smashing the sound barrier.
The soldiers on the deck fell to the metal floor as if they had tripped. Only two people remained standing: Oscar and…
As if pushed by that shout, Walter jumped backwards. He did not hesitate to leap from the deck.
An afterimage of his white lab coat remained in the empty night.
The Bladlikburg’s shaking settled down and Oscar ran forward.
“It is unknown if the approaching enemy ship intends to attack! Everyone evacuate the deck! I repeat…”
As the commander, he ignored that command and reached the point Walter had jumped from.
And that was when something slowly ascended.
“What is this!?”
It was a strange ship shaped like a sword.
It was over ten meters wide, about six meters tall, and at least twenty-five meters long. It was nearly four times the size of traditional aircraft.
However, it did not have the armor that aircraft used to reduce air resistance. The engine, power transfer pipes, and moving parts were all left exposed. It almost looked like a giant mass of metal organs.
It had no main wings. Instead, it had a giant tail shaped like an arch bridge.
The top and bottom of the ship both had two spherical field emitters. Of those, the two on the front were emitting swords of light as long as the ship itself. Those were close-quarters divine spell weapons known as Schwert.
A divine spell weapon was a weapon that used an engine to construct solid objects. The power of the spirit stone was fully materialized and even fire or lightning could be made into a solid object. The Schwert was one of those and it could even slice through Kugel, a type of long-range divine spell weapon.
Dogfights primarily came down to close-range battles with those swords.
This ship had likely flown here while slicing through the intercepting Eisen Soldat in a single strike.
“This is the dp-XXX, the unprecedented aerial warship we call the Kaiserburg.”
Oscar heard Walter’s voice and saw the young man standing the cockpit-like box in the center of the ship.
“What do you think? Pretty cool, isn’t it?”
Oscar did not agree, but he was shocked by a certain fact.
The ship before him was not producing any flames from its spirit engine rocket or jets.
…Is it floating?
The ship they called the dp-XXX was floating without sullying the dark night.
Machines could be made to float in the air. A giant ship like the Bladlikburg had enough surface area to carve the floating emblems, but the dp-XXX was not that large. It was also not equipped with the jet an aircraft needed for propulsion.
It was truly an unprecedented ship.
Oscar saw Walter crouch down and open the hatch. The young man glanced back at him for just a moment.
“Are you going to keep this pointless fight going?”
“What do you mean!?”
“You still haven’t caught on? If you get in our way, you might end up dead.”
“Is going to space that important?”
The young man did not reply. He only smiled.
“Unit 2 is approaching the enemy!”
After that announcement, Walter jumped inside the Kaiserburg and Oscar moved back while clicking his tongue.
At the same time, the Kaiserburg’s Schwert rotated to face outward.
Oscar lowered his head slightly as the two curves of light sliced apart the approaching Kugel that the attacking Eisen Soldat had fired.
Four sounds of shattering glass filled the air.
Walter shut the hatch after himself and the Kaiserburg moved backwards.
After putting some distance between itself and the Bladlikburg, it showed its belly and quickly ascended.
Oscar tightly clenched his teeth as he looked up at it and heard great roars from either side.
The noise came from the Eisen Soldat. The rear-wing craft had a fairly round nose, so they were generally cross-shaped. They were the standard air force craft and each one had two spirit engine rockets.
They were fast and their contrails remained in the night sky behind them.
The four ascended in pursuit of the Kaiserburg.
Their target fled into the clouds that hid the moon.
Needless to say, the clouds would not be enough for these soldiers to lose it.
…What is he planning to do?
Oscar’s thoughts tested the Kaiserburg and the ship responded.
Light formed in the clouds floating in the darkness. That light quickly grew and tore through the clouds like a ripple.
Finally, something flew from the center of the ripple with a few explosive flames wrapped around it.
It was a giant comet.
A spear of light trailing a long tail blew away the clouds and flew onward even with the moonlight washing over it.
Oscar knew what that was. It was a weapon the military had only recently managed to implement.
“A Panzer Emblem.”
All of the emblems engraved in an aircraft’s external paneling were activated to transform the craft itself into a Kugel. It was a ramming weapon that did not belong on an aircraft.
The Soldat pursuing the Kaiserburg scattered when the Panzer Emblem struck them.
Four explosions reverberated in Oscar’s gut.
“He got us.”
Oscar now knew where Walter’s confidence had come from.
…In other words, modern weapons are no match for you, is that it?
That thought made him shudder.
He knew very well how frightening the advancement of weapons could be. During the previous great war, tanks and aircraft had been used for the first time and they had remarkably increased the number of deaths. And the dp-XXX’s abilities easily surpassed those technologies.
On top of that, there were still several unknowns concerning the dp-XXX.
It almost certainly had further abilities.
With that in mind, he sighed.
“I shouldn’t be surprised. Otherwise, he would never think of going to space in an incomplete ship.”
He lowered his gaze a bit.
The Kaiserburg had already vanished from view, but he could predict its destination from the direction into which it had torn through the sky.
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