City Series:Volume1 Chapter 3
Chapter 3: The Legend Accelerates
It was the day before Weihnachtsabend.
The flow of happy people could be seen even in the shopping district along Mehring Street which continued south from Mehringplatz, a famous plaza in Berlin. Many of them were preparing to take time off of work and celebrate Weihnachts with their families. It was a crowded area.
A bicycle raced along the roads while avoiding those crowded areas. It was moving quite quickly.
Walter wore his lab coat as he controlled the bicycle and Else stood on the back luggage area.
They were on their way back from the national library in the University of Berlin.
They had tried to check out an encyclopedia of ancient emblems, but the receptionist had said encyclopedias could not be checked out. Else had been forced to secretly throw the book out the window to Walter who waited outside.
In other words, they had stolen it.
Incidentally, Else had been the one to suggest it and Walter had agreed.
The encyclopedia was necessary to fix the Kaiserburg’s malfunction.
They had spent the entire previous day working out the cause.
Simply put, the engine’s output was too high and the emergency shutoff had activated.
If they continued running it like that, the engine would burn out and never work again. This malfunction was the result of giving the ship an unfinished and powerful engine, so they needed to carve in the proper output control emblem.
Else had stuck with Walter and Paul for the day it took them to realize that and she had gotten to see the inside of the Kaiserburg and even its engines.
The first surprise had been that the three cylindrical engines on the back and wings were sealed. That meant the ship flew without emitting any kind of jet.
“To put it simply, it manipulates gravity to fly. Unlike the previous engine designs, it provides a massive amount of energy and doesn’t need to create fire or wind using simple emblems. It instead uses the gravity techniques of the powerful divine spell users in ancient times.”
As he explained that, Walter had opened the engine’s outer paneling.
Inside were the guts made of metal pipes and gauges.
Else had seen something truly unexpected in the center.
“A spirit stone!”
The spirit stone had been large enough to wrap ones arms around and it had emitted a faint light in its place as a component.
Spirit stones were normally used as fuel, not as a component. A fighter craft could fly for six hundred hours using a standard fingertip-sized spirit stone mined from a vein of spirit stones. The average yearly flight time for military fighter craft was only five hundred hours.
What Else had seen was absurdly large and it had detailed emblems carved into its surface.
“What is this?”
“It’s a new type of engine that has developed beyond the standard spirit engine. We call it an emblem engine.”
“Where did you find such a huge spirit stone? …It isn’t a fake, is it?”
“Of course not. It was inside a crater in the southern mountains. On earth, a spirit stone’s field is discharged into the air, so we searched for a fresh stone that had come from outside. And since it was so big, we could carve emblems into it like a normal component.”
Wood could be burned more efficiently if it was first turned to charcoal instead of being burned as is. Similarly, ether produced greater power as a crystallized spirit stone than when it simply floated through empty space.
So what if an engine was created from that crystal?
“The engine itself absorbs ether from the surrounding space to produce its great power. That’s why the Kaiserburg doesn’t include a spirit stone for fuel.”
“You mean it can keep moving forever without refueling?”
He had readily affirmed that ridiculous idea.
The ultra-high power aerial ship could fly indefinitely without refueling. Of course it had been a military secret.
The young man had smiled as he asked that.
That had been yesterday.
“It’s been two years since I visited Berlin, but it hasn’t changed at all.”
Walter sounded completely carefree as he pedaled the bicycle.
Else asked him a question and held down her blowing skirt.
“Um, did you graduate from the University of Berlin? …If so, do you think we ever saw each other somewhere before?”
“Hard to say. I slept in the lab during university and left the country a lot in my fourth year.”
“Left the country? That must be nice. …Japan or India sound like fun.”
Walter’s shoulders shook in laughter when he heard that.
“Oh, nothing. I just thought a girl would say she wanted to go to Paris.”
“Shut up. Everyone goes there. I’d rather go somewhere interesting.”
“Then you’re the same as me. I can’t believe this.”
“Eh? Did you say something?”
She asked him to repeat himself, but he did not respond.
To fill the gap, Else asked another question.
“Hey, that old guy is the meister who made the spaceship Huber Talstrasse rode, isn’t he?”
“Yes, but what about it?”
“When I spoke with him yesterday, I brought up that accident, didn’t I?”
“Don’t worry about it. Or do you want me to tell him you feel bad?”
“I can apologize for myself.”
“That would be better. It’ll probably be embarrassing, but do your best.”
She scratched her head as he smiled at her, but she suddenly asked something else.
“I assume he’s going into space for Huber’s sake, but what about you, Walter?”
Why was that young man trying to go to space?
It was an obvious question for Else who had been arguing with her father about her future.
Walter gently turned back toward her.
“What if I said it was because of my curiosity to see what no one has ever seen before and my ambition to go farther than anyone ever has before? That’s a favorite quote of mine.”
Else sighed at that answer.
“C’mon, can’t you give a proper answer? That’s from Huber Talstrasse’s last words, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is. You know a lot about this, don’t you?”
“I looked through my house’s library after you said you were going to space.”
“I see. Being eager to learn is a good thing. Is that how you learned about the professor, too?”
She could sense his smiling mood through the shoulders she rested her hands on and he had avoided giving her the answer she wanted.
She thought about asking again but decided against it.
…It must not be a simple enough reason to put to words.
She wanted to know that reason for her own sake.
…Do I have something like that too?
Just then, something odd passed by them.
It was an armored military bus. The inside, sides, and even roof of the rough green vehicle were covered with soldiers and they seemed to be in a hurry.
“Walter, are we in trouble? That’s the military, isn’t it?”
“We’re fine. They won’t recognize me with so many people around.”
As soon as he said that, the armored bus’s external speaker produced a young voice.
“Walterrrr! I found you!”
At the same time, the steel box of a vehicle came to a sudden stop.
Smoke spewed from its wheels and they produced a raw screech.
The normal car behind it could not swerve in time and crashed into it.
With a tremendous sound, the armored bus hopped upwards and knocked a few of the soldiers off of it. Chaos quickly spread through the street.
The car that had failed to stop in time skidded to the side and more cars crashed into it from behind. More and more cars piled up from behind.
The simple but lively metallic sounds continued and were joined by people’s voices.
It was a quite a ruckus.
While watching the commotion from the bicycle, Else asked Walter a question.
“Didn’t you just say they wouldn’t recognize you?”
“Eh? Who would say something silly like that?”
“Try to be less blatant when you lie! …And look! Here they come!”
With no moving cars left, the soldiers cut across the street.
The people watching the commotion fled when they saw the soldiers charging.
The bicycle continued on and weaved between the fleeing people at a decent clip.
Suddenly, five soldiers ran in from the side, each wielding an automatic handgun.
“Get the traitors!” they shouted.
Else turned toward them from the back of the bicycle.
“Oh, shut up!”
She pulled a submachine gun from the bag on her back. The action was so natural that the running soldiers did not immediately realize what she was aiming at them.
Once they did, they quickly stopped their running feet.
Seeing that, Else pulled the trigger, extended her arms, and endured the recoil.
With a pleasant repeating sound, the sidewalk was torn apart. All five of the soldiers disgracefully jumped out of the way. She was making sure she did not hit them, but it must have been frightening from their perspective.
“Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah!”
Their screams quickly grew more distant and the bicycle accelerated.
However, it was too soon to relax. Still holding the submachine gun, she caught her breath, lowered her hips, and sat sideways on the luggage area.
“Hm? What is it?”
“You can be pretty harsh when you need to be.”
“Yeah, it happens a lot, so don’t worry about it.”
“I think we’re going to get along nicely.”
His shoulders shook as he suppressed his laughter.
“Oh, we’re about to enter the back alley, so we’ll be turning right!”
The bicycle tilted to the right, the back wheel slid a bit, and they charged into the alley behind a store.
In the process, Else caught a quick glimpse of the soldiers still pursuing them from behind.
…This is pretty serious.
Her thoughts remained carefree even as a hint of unease entered her chest.
…What’s going to happen now?
The Kaiserburg floated unreliably in the backyard of a large white mansion.
Even in winter, the warm currents from the ocean kept Germany from growing too cold. It was also a sunny day, so the top of the metal ship was comfortably warm.
A man in a blue work outfit slept on top of that warm ship. It was Paul.
He was enjoying a pleasant nap for the first time in a long while.
He was completely relaxed after the tension of the last few days had suddenly left him entirely.
…I’m like an old man.
Suddenly, a shrill noise came from his body.
The communicator in his pocket had rung.
He frantically sat up and pulled it out.
“Hey, it’s me. What is it, Walter?”
The young man’s energetic voice replied to him.
“Professor! Can you hear me!?”
“Hm? You’re pretty far away, aren’t you? Did something happen?”
“The military is headed your way.”
“What do you mean exactly?”
“A national military unit is heavily armed and travelling to your current location. Yeah, that’s definitely what’s happening.”
“That isn’t what I meant! Keep it simple.”
“The military is headed your way.”
“Are you trying to pick a fight with me!?”
“Mayer and his friends are already having a party and they’ve caused quite a commotion. Can’t you hear it?”
Sure enough, he could hear some unusual sounds from both the communicator and the forest surrounding the mansion. Most notably, gunfire and collisions.
It seemed something crazy was going on.
“Hm. So how are you doing? Is the young lady with you?”
“Yes, yes. The ‘young lady’ is with him, old man!”
“You seem to be doing well. And young lady, don’t call me ‘old man’. Call me professor. Got it?”
“Sure, sure. Then how about you stop calling me ‘young lady’. I’m already twenty, you old professor.”
“Hey, Walter. Can’t you do something about this foulmouthed girl?”
“Else, weren’t you just saying something about apologizing?”
“Oh, damn. …Wait! This is no time to talk about that!”
“You’re right, you’re right. Professor, given the situation, we’ll recite the emblem from here. Can you can carve it in as we do?”
Paul did not immediately understand Walter’s question.
“That is completely insane,” he replied.
“Don’t worry, professor. You’re Germany’s best emblem technician, aren’t you? You’re the only one that can carve an emblem into stone with just a chisel these days, so how about showing off your skill?”
“You can’t do it?”
The voice coming from the communicator was terribly dark and filled with disappointment.
Paul replied on reflex.
“Well, it isn’t that I can’t.”
“Okay, then do it. Do it right now. Do it immediately. Got it? That settles it.”
Walter’s tone immediately brightened and Paul frowned.
“Fine then. Give me two minutes to prepare.”
“Understood. Else will be the one reading off the emblem, so try to get along.”
“Eh? Wait. I can’t read an emblem.”
“Emblem reading is a required course at the university, isn’t it? Besides, my hands are more than full with controlling the bike.”
Paul heard Else continue to protest, but he stopped listening.
He scratched his head in exasperation and stood from the Kaiserburg.
It seemed he was not going to get a relaxing nap after all.
Six long aerial aircraft carriers floated in the sky above a sea of clouds. They were the Bladlikburg and others of the same model. Their designations were Bladlikburg Eins, Zwei, Drei, Vier, Fünf, and Sechs.
They were almost identical and were shaped like long panels. The bridge was a glass-covered basket attached on the bottom to give a view of the area below. This was the opposite of a normal ship or aircraft, but the upper deck had to be flat so the aircraft could take off or land.
Currently, a man looked down on the sea of clouds from the front window of Eins’s bridge.
It was Oscar.
He pressed the communication intercom to his ear and frowned.
“You ran across him, but he ran away? And he has entered the Breuer family’s land?”
He thought about what to do and instantly made up his mind.
“Okay. You have permission to pursue. But you come up here, Mayer. Only you can properly pilot the new craft.”
He took a breath.
“We cannot let them complete that ship.”
“The Tempelhof Airport should be closest. We will also descend, so we should arrive in less than fifteen minutes. Hurry.”
After emphasizing that, he ended the communication.
…The fate of the military…no, of Germany itself is dependent on a single ship.
He smiled bitterly.
Germany had regained its economic footing in the first half of the twenties.
In the thirties, a man rumored to be a madman had taken political control. Ever since, the nation had completely ignored the disarmament promised in the Treaty of Versailles and they had encouraged military expansion.
If Germany gained the dp-XXX’s technology, another great war was bound to begin. If Oscar’s estimation was correct, the dp-XXX could singlehandedly destroy Air Force Division 5 aka Eisen Vogel that he commanded.
The information retrieved from the destroyed Wagner Laboratory had supported that estimation.
And if that craft flew into space, the problem would spread beyond the nation of Germany. Country after country would target the dp-XXX.
…And that will lead to a war centered on this country!
He could not allow that to happen.
The dp-XXX was an unmistakably dangerous ship.
However, he had another thought as well.
…What if we could properly use its abilities?
If so, Germany would most likely lead the world. America had invented the spirit engine and they now nearly ruled the world economy as the world’s greatest automobile producer.
From that perspective, Germany needed the dp-XXX’s technology.
Which view was correct?
He did not know.
Until he had seen the dp-XXX’s ability for himself, he had thought they could simply destroy it. He had thought it was a threat to the country that would only make the top brass of the military happy.
But it had displayed more power than he had ever imagined. It was entirely different from the current technology and he had sensed the future in it. He had seen many new weapons on the battlefield, so he knew to trust that feeling.
It could not be allowed to exist, but it would be such a shame to lose it.
…What should we do?
He did not have time to hesitate. The battle would begin in just a few minutes.
He knew what he had to do: keep Germany from going to war or getting drawn into a war. And for that, he had to rethink what the purpose of the military was.
A sudden thought occurred to him.
…The military is meant to protect the nation.
With that thought, he made a breakthrough.
He immediately came to a decision.
…We will hold the dp-XXX here and hide it until the time comes!
That was it. That was the only possible answer.
Strength filled his gaze and he barked orders.
“Transfer the crew of artillery aircraft carriers Zwei and Fünf to other ships! If this comes to a fight, the dp-XXX will use its Panzer Emblem. Tell them to leave nothing but a unit of men prepared to die!”
A plan formed in his mind. Most likely either Bladlikburg Zwei or Fünf would be sunk, but he would be happy if they could limit it to just that.
“Once that is complete, all ships are to descend at full speed! The battle begins!”
The bicycle raced through the forest. The mansion was not far away now.
The noise coming from behind was their pursuers.
“They sure are persistent. Doesn’t this count as trespassing?” asked Else while looking worriedly back.
“We trespassed with the Kaiserburg too.”
“What you did was landing or crashing, not trespassing.”
She raised her head just as they left the forest. Her vision opened up and she saw a yard the size of a plaza. There was a giant mansion beyond it and a sword-like metal ship floated in front of it.
The Kaiserburg’s nose was pointed their way.
It moved forward as if someone had given it a light push.
Meanwhile, the bicycle slowed to a stop and the two stepped off of it.
The Kaiserburg slid gently through the air and stopped in front of them. There was no instability in its movements and it was no longer struggling to remain afloat like it had that morning. Even Else could tell the ship could fly.
She watched it in silence.
Walter glanced over his shoulder at her.
“Hmm. Looks like the emblem worked. Good, good.”
“Why do you look so nervous?”
“I-I’m not exactly nervous…”
“It’s thanks to you we got it running. You should be a little happier.”
…I am happy!
But that was why she could not speak. Even she felt her role had been too simple. She had only opened the book to the entry Walter had indicated and recited the most powerful emblem to Paul.
Walter could have done it if she had not been there.
Even so, she had been the one to actually do it.
It may have been indirect, but it really was thanks to her that the only ship trying to reach space could fly once more.
Her pulse began to race.
The man in front of her turned toward her with his usual smile.
She smiled back.
“Isn’t this great?” she asked.
“It is. We can fly again.”
He sounded almost embarrassed as he answered.
At the very least, he was experiencing the same joy she had felt. And it was an ordinary experience for him. He also had the ridiculous goal of reaching space. No normal person would be willing to clash with the military for their goal.
He and Paul were betting their own lives on this ship and a chance to reach space.
She had nothing like that. Not only did she not have a physical representation like the Kaiserburg, but she had nothing in her heart either.
…What is this? Am I jealous?
Just as she wondered that…
“Else! Move away from that ship!”
Her gaze turned to a deep voice and she saw Gaston rushing out of the mansion. He pointed behind Else and Walter.
Without even turning around, she knew what that meant: the military was entering the yard.
She heard something whiz by and sparks flew from the Kaiserburg’s outer paneling. The gunshot reached her a moment later.
If one bullet had flown, more would be coming. Sure enough, more and more sparks blossomed like flowers and the sounds of gunfire joined them.
The tail end of the Kaiserburg slid to the side and formed a wall in front of Walter and Else.
“Else! Hurry over here! It’s dangerous out there!”
“You’re the one that made it so dangerous!”
She knew those words would shut him up.
…If it makes you feel so guilty, don’t do it in the first place.
An amplified voice from the forest drowned out the gunfire.
“You piloting the ship and you two hiding behind it! Surrender immediately!”
“ ‘You two’? Does he mean Else and me?”
“Seems that way.”
“Hmm. This misunderstanding is quite interesting indeed. Are you going to surrender?”
“Why do I have to surrender in front of my own house? I’d rather hole up in the house.”
“A decent opinion, but we have the Kaiserburg here. The correct options are to escape or fight back.”
“Hey! Else! What are you doing!?”
She saw Gaston shouting while hiding behind the mansion’s door.
“What are you doing, dad! Have some shame.”
“Sh-shut up! The bullets are flying over here too!”
She could indeed see a few broken windows and it did not seem the military was trying very hard to aim. It was quite a commotion.
Else thought for just a moment.
…What should I do?
But a moment later, the distant amplified voice shouted at them again.
“Hey! You two hiding there! Hurry up and surrender!”
She frowned and turned to Walter. He was looking at her with a similar expression.
“Am I part of your group?”
Walter tilted his head at that question.
“Based on the situation, that’s definitely a valid way of looking at it. …Hm.”
After a short pause, he clapped his hands and changed his expression.
“Okay. How about you join us on the Kaiserburg?”
She had not expected him to say that.
“Eh!? Ah, wait! Really?”
“If we left you here, you’d be arrested by the military.”
“But isn’t that ship important to you two?”
“But you helped us get it flying again.”
She looked taken aback and he smiled bitterly.
“You’ll probably have fun if you do. And if you don’t, we can always drop you off somewhere or other.”
His tone almost seemed to be testing her.
It may have only been in her mind, but she felt like he was asking if she could keep up with them.
And so she nodded.
There was something she wanted to know.
…Why are you so intent on going to space? I want to know.
She knew this young man would not tell her if she simply asked.
He looked her in the eye and gave his usual grin.
“Well, if you force yourself to keep up with me, you’ll end up regretting it.”
“Because I dream big.”
He turned his back on her and stepped up on the side of the Kaiserburg. He then turned his head to look back.
“How about I show you just how amazing and frightening that dream is?”
She smiled just like he was and nodded.
She felt like flying through the sky would answer all of her past questions.
Gaston was entirely speechless.
He clearly saw his own daughter boarding that ship.
…What is going on!?
For just an instant, she turned toward him and waved. She was smiling.
It shocked him.
The suspicion that she would never return began to spread through his heart.
He tried to run out from behind the door, but bullets were still flying.
…What is the military thinking!?
The soldiers formed up in the distance were scattering bullets wildly. It was enough of a commotion that the mansion’s servants were hiding in the cellar. Calling the police was meaningless when the military was the problem, so there was nothing to be done.
…I will be using this as a bargaining chip later!
With that in mind, he suddenly realized something.
Else was nowhere to be seen. He could only see the floating mass of metal.
He felt more panicked than he did angry.
The men he had met yesterday had dreamed of going to space. They had claimed to have created a ship with a new kind of engine for that purpose. He had thought they were very childish.
It was true that sort of atmosphere had filled the country fifteen years before. They had recovered from the war, they had been developing further, and they had been aiming for space, so Germany had been filled with excitement.
But it had ended in failure.
The people had realized it was too soon to pursue their dreams and they had pursued reality instead.
Nevertheless, those two men still held onto their dreams.
…I don’t get it.
He simply could not understand why they were so intent on going to space. That was what made him panic.
After all, his own daughter was going with them and she had smiled as she did so.
That was the moment when shadows from the sky covered the mansion in darkness from right to left. It only took an instant.
He saw a group of aircraft flying at extreme low altitude.
He heard a roar.
These were the air force’s standard craft known as Eisen Soldat. A formation of them was flying above Berlin…no, above his mansion.
Gaston saw this as an omen of the situation growing even further. And he realized his daughter would be flying right into the center of it.
…Is there no way I can stop her? Is there nothing I can do!?
“This is surprisingly roomy.”
This was her first time in the cockpit. It was four meters wide and across and two meters high, it contained two primary seats side by side, and it had a secondary seat behind them.
Paul sat in the pilot seat on the right and Walter sat in the gunner seat on the left.
“Else, you’re a passenger, so please sit in that seat. Can you watch the radar?”
“You’re putting your passenger to work?”
“You have to pay the fare somehow, so please take care of this. We’re shorthanded.”
“That’s right. I had to do it all on my own before and it was not fun.”
She listened to Paul’s teasing tone of voice while sitting in the chair that supported her down to the ankles. Once she sat down, the back automatically changed angle.
“The back seems a little inadequate.”
“Oh, sorry. I never thought a woman would be sitting there, so it’s probably a little tight in the butt. What is your hip measurement?”
“Um, eighty-… Wait. What are you trying to get me to say!?”
“Oh, c’mon. I’m only asking to know more about the ship and out of simple curiosity.”
Meanwhile, Walter lightly tapped his seat’s armrests.
With a metallic sound, the armrests rotated upside down. Else saw two palm-sized metal spheres embedded in them. They controlled the field emitters. When using the Schwert and Kugel divine spell weapons, he would rotate the spheres to determine their direction.
“Walter, don’t use them too much. The output still isn’t at its best.”
Walter’s tone hinted at a different mood from before.
Else looked up at him. The back of his seat was in the way, but she felt like she knew what expression was on his face.
“Okay, I’ve connected to the ship’s center of gravity. Professor, let’s get going.”
“Good, good,” said Paul in an aged-sounding tone. “dp-XXX Kaiserburg Form One – Strahlen Ritter takes flight!”
With a slight shaking, her vision quickly rose.
They had ascended in an instant and she had not felt anything bearing down on her like she had expected.
Since the ship flew by manipulating gravity, it must have been able to neutralize inertia too.
She soon realized they had changed direction. It was strange how the ship did not tilt.
Light began to flash on the radar in front of her. The device reacted to the fields emitted by spirit stones. There were twelve dots on the screen. The gauge said the radar was scaled by a factor of thirty thousand, so each centimeter on the screen represented three hundred meters. The enemy was approaching fast.
“Here they come! They’re directly ahead!”
“I see them.”
They had risen to about one hundred meters above Berlin. The forest around Else’s home was directly below. Beyond that was a group of stone-like buildings and the tops of brightly-painted housing complexes.
Dark dots were floating above all that and white clouds trailed behind them. The thin clouds were created by the temperature difference between the air and the vacuum formed as they cut through the air. They were contrails.
“Professor, I’m going to use two Schwert.”
“Okay, I’ll send the power around in five seconds. Don’t forget that the weapons can only use thirty percent of their power.”
After a short pause, Else saw something outside the cockpit window. It was light. The field emitters on the top and bottom of the ship were producing the divine sword of light known as a Schwert.
“Why is the military trying to get in our way? They really aren’t very bright.”
“But this ship has to be worth a lot. Sorry for thinking of it like a product, though.”
“You wouldn’t be able to sell it anyway. Different groups would try to steal it and a war would break out,” calmly explained Paul. “Once we fly to space, the entire world will have its eye on us, but we don’t plan to give it to anyone. We’re thinking about letting it sink to the bottom of the ocean or something like that.”
Else felt a chill.
These two men simply wanted to go to space and they were prepared to vanish afterwards.
“Professor, let’s go.”
With that, Walter placed his hands on the armrests.
The battle was about to begin.
Dogfights either ended in a single attack or after passing by the enemy. A fighter craft would fire Kugel or slice with Schwert either head on or while in pursuit.
Giant warships mostly used shells so they could avoid accidental collisions, but craft like the Eisen Soldat primarily fought at close range. They had high mobility, so long-range attacks would not hit them and they could neutralize Kugel with their Schwert.
One Soldat saw a fourth explosion blossom in the sky after another pilot was ejected with a white parachute.
At this distance, the dp-XXX looked the size of a grain of rice. The ship slowed as if watching the dropping parachute.
The Soldat received a transmission.
“Eins 1 to Eins 2 and 3. Eins 4 and 6 will contact the enemy first. We will use an arrow formation. I’ll attack while you two cover for me.”
Eins 2 nodded.
He checked on Eins 3 to his right. Eins 1, their commander, was down below to complete the triangular formation.
They had not broken the sound barrier, so he heard the roar enveloping the three of them.
He saw two contrails form and draw an arc toward the dp-XXX from above. That would be Eins 4 and 6.
The dp-XXX did not move.
Eins 2 spoke to the neighboring craft.
“Eins 3, what do you think of that ship?”
“I’m not really sure. All I know is that it’s powerful.”
“Even when it’s just floating there like that?”
“Do you want to go up and poke a sleeping tiger?”
Eins 3 had a point. The enemy ship appeared to just be floating, but it had already shot down more than ten of their craft.
“We can’t let our guard down.”
“Eins 2 and 3, this is Eins 1. Enough chatter. Let’s spread out.”
As instructed, Eins 2 tilted his craft left. The roar of the craft slicing through the air filled his body as he moved away from Eins 3. The triangle grew larger.
…Is this far enough?
Once he had enough space to freely use his Schwert, he saw the others contact the enemy. Eins 4 and 6 shot toward the dp-XXX from above.
The two craft rapidly descended toward the ship that almost seemed to be basking in the sun.
Suddenly, the ship shot straight up.
It was on a collision course, so the descending craft corrected their courses to fly by the ship on either side. From his position, Eins 2 had no way of knowing which was Eins 4 and which was Eins 6.
At any rate, the two drew their Schwert and tried to fly past the dp-XXX.
…They’re going to hit!
In that very instant, the giant ship suddenly moved in reverse.
A voice came from the communicator and the shout was filled with protest.
It was only natural to protest. A ship flying straight up had suddenly changed course by ninety degrees as if it had been hit.
And it rapidly came to a stop.
An aircraft could not react to these movements.
…This is ridiculous!
“What kind of ship is this!?”
The two craft fell defenselessly past the front of the dp-XXX and the ship swung its two Schwert up as if to strike them in the nose.
Eins 2 saw the swords of light easily slice through the metal.
With a sound much like splitting stone, the two fighter craft were transformed into four masses. The pilots ejected just before the craft collided with the air and exploded.
Eins 2 had no time to sit idly by and watch. It was their turn next. His group of three had to take on that absurd ship now.
…Can we beat it?
As soon as he thought that, Eins 2 heard a voice that stifled the momentum of his thoughts.
“Eins 1 here. I’m going to contact the enemy. Cover for me.”
Strength gathered in his eyes and he saw Eins 1 move forward down below. The other craft was beginning its attack.
As Eins 1 charged in below, Eins 2 and 3 had to cover from behind on either side. Tension wrapped around Eins 2’s body and his fear slowly vanished.
He checked his radar. The dp-XXX was retreating at about the same speed as they were advancing.
He operated the right and left field emitters to prepare a Kugel in each. He adjusted the field emitters’ direction based on his distance from the enemy. The loud sound of their movement pierced his body.
“Eins 2 here. Beginning covering fire!”
He launched the Kugel.
A dull tremor ran though the metal craft and the sound of firing burst toward the back.
The fear from before had completely vanished now. His focus on shooting down this enemy had overwhelmed the fear.
He could not even hear his own shouting voice, but he continued firing the Kugel again and again.
Eins 3 also fired Kugel from the right.
No one could evade fire from two directions like this. Moving out of the way would expose your back or belly to either the left or right.
Still moving backwards, the dp-XXX sliced through the Kugel with its Schwert.
Eins 1 used the gap that created to approach from below. The covering fire kept the enemy in place, so he would make an attack using the third dimension from outside that line of fire. That was a basic tactic in aerial combat.
As the commander charged in, he drew his Schwert and began flying upside down. He planned to cut into the dp-XXX as their bellies passed by each other.
…Will it work?
Eins 2 stared straight forward as his vision blurred from the vibration of firing his attacks.
His shaking vision saw Eins 1’s attack preparing to tear apart the enemy.
In the instant Eins 1 reached the enemy, Eins 2 stopped his covering fire.
And that created an instantaneous opening.
The dp-XXX moved forward as if kicked. It went all out, ignored the fighter craft approaching from below, and soared with all of its might.
“That thing’s fast!”
That movement would have been impossible for a normal fighter craft. It had directly gone from stopped to soaring.
After a moment, it exchanged attacks below and charged forward.
It accelerated even further and their relative speeds filled the gap almost immediately. The mass of metal emitted dull light as it tore through the air.
Eins 2 let out a cry not even he could hear and operated the field emitters. He switched from Kugel to Schwert.
The swords of light thrust forward from the field emitters on the ends of the wings.
At the same time, wind with actual mass slammed into him.
The enemy ship was approaching with frightening speed.
He did not even have time to swing the Schwert.
A mass of roaring noise slammed into him from the right. Their shockwaves had collided as they passed by. He forcibly controlled the shaking of his craft and heard an unpleasant sound run through the core of his body.
He heard an explosion behind him and he knew what it meant.
Eins 3 had been destroyed.
The dp-XXX had chosen to take care of Eins 3 before him.
He felt a surge of relief.
The feeling of having been saved won out over the regret or anger that his ally had been destroyed.
He subconsciously sped up to escape. Running was the only option. He was at a disadvantage now that the enemy was behind him.
He sped up even further. He was now flying forward at full speed. He was desperate and he was gasping for breath.
The wind and noise rushed behind him as he accelerated. He thought there was no way he could draw any more speed out of the craft.
But that was when he sensed something truly unpleasant.
He noticed an intense presence to his right.
Something was approaching from behind and coming up beside him on the right.
…It can’t be!
He was dumbfounded.
…Is something there?
He knew what it was. He knew deep down, but he did not want to admit it. That contradictory thought asked him to check, so he looked to the right.
The dp-XXX was there.
The enemy ship was flying in reverse.
It had flown straight forward, destroyed Eins 3, and then caught up to him in reverse.
It was absurd. He was moving forward and flying as quickly as possible.
…That thing is on an entirely different level.
Was its pilot even human? What about the centrifugal force? Wouldn’t the ship break? Who had built it and how? And…was there no way of defeating it?
There was no one there to answer those questions.
Eins 2’s mouth opened to ask a meaningless question.
“What the hell are you!?”
At the same time, he swung his Schwert as hard as he could.
The horizontal strike was sharp and heavy.
However, the dp-XXX was gone.
It performed a side flip as if jumping over Eins 2 from the side.
Eins 2’s gaze followed the ship as it flew over him with the ceiling of the sky behind it. He looked up at the large leaping ship that almost seemed to be dancing.
For just an instant, it showed its belly to the sky but then twisted around. The backlight of the sun vividly showed off its silhouette.
As soon as that thought ran through his mind, Eins 2’s fighter craft was sliced through by the Schwert extending from the dp-XXX.
After Paul and Walter performed a ridiculous midair side-flip without batting an eye, the next enemy appeared in the cockpit’s front window.
It descended from high in the sky like a giant comet. It was a shell known as a Bogen.
A Bogen was a physical shell fired with gunpowder, but it was filled with divine spell charms that would spread damage over a wide area when it hit. It far outdid a Kugel in destructive power, but the ammunition was too bulky to be used in anything but a large ship.
The scorching hot shell was terrifyingly accurate.
The dp-XXX barrel rolled to escape it.
If one strained their eyes, six great forms were visible just below the clouds.
They were the Bladlikburg fleet.
“So Oscar’s finally shown up! Their star player has joined the match.”
“Really? And right when it’s about to grow, too.”
Else was distracted by them, but she suddenly noticed a light on the radar and quickly looked back down.
“Yes? What is it?”
“That one we avoided earlier is approaching from above.”
“What a pain. Walter, what should we do?”
“Well, let’s try to avoid needless destruction. How about we move forward and avoid it while we go pay Oscar a visit.”
Else and Paul both nodded in agreement.
That may have been what created an opening.
The fighter craft approaching from above was Eins 1 which they had avoided earlier.
The dp-XXX moved to avoid him again by accelerating forward.
But they did not escape. Instead of drawing his Schwert or firing a Kugel, he flew in a straight line and crashed into them.
The screaming of metal filled the sky.
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