City Series:Volume1 Chapter 5
Chapter 5: The Legend Leaps
Oscar sighed when he saw the two who were brought to the Bladlikburg Eins’s bridge.
“You certainly caused us a lot of trouble, Professor Wagner and Walter.”
Walter smiled at that. He faced Oscar without even glancing at the soldiers restraining him on either side.
“More importantly, you should probably check what we’re carrying, Oscar.”
“I am aware. I will not let my guard down twice.”
Oscar nodded and the two soldiers on either side of the two men checked through their clothes. Their hands moved quickly and professionally.
“Are they carrying anything?”
“Only a license, a wallet, and a seal, commander.”
“You’d better give those back afterwards,” warned Paul.
“If you want them back, why not tell us what we want to know?”
“That’s a pretty sad offer.”
“I know you two. You have nothing else.”
“You’ve got us there.”
As soon as Paul smiled, the soldier searching Walter’s clothes let out a low scream and was knocked away.
Oscar reached for the handgun at his waist.
“Walter, what did you do?”
The young man did not answer. He only stared down at the soldier who was groaning and holding his stomach. Oscar realized Walter was holding the chest of his lab coat.
“What are you hiding?”
Walter returned his gaze.
“A memento from my mother.”
He showed off what looked like a scrap of paper.
…Is that a photograph?
Oscar frowned again.
“I would like to apologize for my soldier’s rudeness, but I can’t.”
He turned to a nearby soldier who had nothing to do.
“Carry the fallen soldier out.”
“Sorry about that. I tend to lash out without thinking.”
Walter gave a quick nod to the man being carried away and then turned back to Oscar.
Paul crossed his arms and looked up at Oscar.
He was acting like he owned the ship, so Oscar frowned and looked outside the window.
A dark shadow obstructed the sun in the western sky. It was another Bladlikburg flying alongside the Eins.
A sword-like form could be seen on the Zwei’s deck.
It was the dp-XXX and it was strapped to the deck with thick wires. Both the ship and the metal wires shined in the evening sun.
“What is it, Oscar?” asked Paul.
But Oscar did not look away from that ship filled with advanced technology.
However, he did speak.
“I will say the dp-XXX was shot down after engaging my unit in combat.”
He turned around and brought his gaze to the two men.
“You have not hidden any documents related to the dp-XXX, have you?”
“I am trying to be serious here.”
“I don’t want to hear that from someone trying to look cool by staring into the setting sun.”
“If you want anything out of us, you’ll have to force it out. You’re good at that, aren’t you?”
The two of them held out their chests proudly.
When Oscar spoke again, some weariness had entered his voice.
“If that is what you want, that is what you will get.”
“Wow. You sure give in easily. You’re probably easy to trick.”
Oscar snapped his fingers.
“Take these two to a guest room. A first-class one.”
After a sharp reply, the soldiers restraining the two of them grabbed their arms and walked out.
Walter and Paul made no attempt to resist as they were almost dragged off of the bridge.
Oscar sighed as he watched them leave.
Paul must have heard because he stopped walking and looked over his shoulder.
“You must have it tough.”
That was all the elderly engineer said before facing forward again. The back of his blue work outfit seemed to want to say something more as he began walking once more. The soldiers on either side of him briefly glanced back at Oscar.
But he remained silent.
“Whose fault do you think that is?”
His quiet comment sounded a little exhausted.
Behind him, red filled the setting sun.
The Bladlikburg Eins was primarily a command ship, so it was equipped with little weaponry. Instead, it had an abundance of patrol equipment and guest space. The vast metal box even contained a café lounge.
It looked like a city’s café had been placed on the ship as-is. Twenty table and chair sets were attached to the floor and intentionally dim lighting filled the brown space.
The window on the outer wall was shuttered and it was a nice place to relax if one ignored the stuffiness.
Late at night, those with the night shift would often stop by to escape their drowsiness. At this time, it was relatively empty.
The young officer in a dress uniform sitting by the window was the only person there.
It was Mayer.
He was blankly trying to kill time. Not long before, he had been resting in his room.
Kaffee was good for waking one up and a bit of tension was perfect for his next job.
He avoided alcohol. He had not had a drop of it since Walter and Paul had sent him to the hospital during the university lab’s freshmen welcoming party. As a German, this made him quite unusual.
He checked his wristwatch and found it was 6:12.
…Still too soon.
He had to descend to the surface at 6:30. He was going to greet and apologize to the Breuer family for all the trouble they had caused.
The military or police would normally just send out a brief document, but Oscar did not accept that. He would always talk it out without looking down on the other party or debasing himself.
Mayer was certain the true form of a soldier could be seen in that man.
He had a feeling everyone in Air Force Division 5 had felt the same thing in Oscar.
But his thoughts were interrupted.
He looked up at the familiar voice and found Oscar.
The man held a white cup of kaffee.
Mayer quickly began to stand and salute, but…
Oscar sat across the table from him and tilted his body a little to look out the window. He looked somehow weak.
“You aren’t going to drink any beer?”
“After so many of my men died, I am not in the mood.”
“What is the matter?” asked Mayer.
“Nothing. I was just thinking.”
His words lacked his usual sharp strength.
“If it is about the Breuer family, do not worry. I will handle it. You please focus on your job.”
“The moon will be out tonight, so do not travel in a spirit craft. …Got it?”
“Yes, sir. I was not planning to.”
On nights with strong moonlight, spirit engines could lose control, so gliders were used instead. Gliders were powerless ships with only floating emblems carved into them. They were a slow but safe means of transportation.
“But that ship does not have to worry about the moonlight,” muttered Oscar.
Mayer followed his gaze out the window and to the moonlit dp-XXX on the Zwei’s deck. The lance of light called a Lanze still skewered its back.
“Are you curious?”
He turned to the voice and found Oscar facing him.
Strength had returned to his eyes. The sharpness in his gaze seemed like it would pierce through everything and see through any lies, so Mayer gave a definite nod.
“I was working to build that ship just a few years ago.”
He hesitated for a moment.
“And the people I look up to are piloting it.”
“I see.” Oscar sighed. “That is the ship created by Huber Talstrasse’s son and friend so they can reach space.”
“I think it is an amazing piece of technology.”
“But it is too much for this age.”
The military was essentially controlled by a madman known as the Führer. That man would undoubtedly try to use the dp-XXX for war. The man had a strong love of heroes, so a one-of-a-kind ship like the dp-XXX would seem quite attractive to him.
They wanted to avoid that.
“What will we do?”
“I have a mountain villa in Munich. We can dismantle it, take it there, and store it away.”
“It seems to me using the ground forces would be a problem.”
“Of course. That is why it will be done in absolute secrecy. The dismantled parts will be boxed up, labelled as items left behind by the deceased, and sent to the homes of those we can trust.”
Twelve had died in the previous encounter with the dp-XXX. That was small for the size of the commotion, so it would not draw suspicion if they exaggerated the number killed.
“From there, the boxes can be transported to my home during the time for New Years’ greetings. If they are carried to my mountain villa as materials for building a horse-riding field, no one will suspect a thing.”
“The secret police have grown more active lately, so we can’t let our guard down.”
“No.” Oscar’s expression loosened a bit. “Turning the villa into a storehouse will ruin the summer breaks, though.”
“Your daughter is going to cry.”
Mayer had never met Oscar’s daughter. Oscar did not like to mix his work with his private life, so he rarely mentioned her. The previous spring, Oscar had suddenly asked him a question.
“Mayer, I only ask because you are young, but what do you think I should send my daughter who is about to enter middle school?”
That was the first he had ever heard of her.
He could only guess, but Mayer had a feeling Oscar was not working for his country or the military. He was probably working for the people, be they his family, soldiers, or simply citizens.
Mayer doubted the man himself had realized what he worked for and he would probably refuse to admit it even if he had. Nevertheless, Mayer was certain of it.
After all, an old soldier approaching retirement had once told him something.
“That man is only harsh when he’s in the military.”
Mayer had seen a few scenes since then that supported that.
Currently, Oscar gave a small smile.
“You’re right. Maybe I should take her to Italy this year.”
Mayer had a thought while watching the man.
A question occurred to him and he simply spoke it aloud
“Is he pursuing his father?”
“He? You mean Walter?”
Oscar admitted it surprisingly readily.
“I do understand. I heard some things about Huber while investigating the Wagner Laboratory, but it did not seem he was a man who showed much concern for his family.”
Mayer knew that as well. Walter would sometimes fall silent and it was almost always when his father came up.
“Would you choose a father like that to pursue and set as your goal?”
Mayer came from an old noble family, so he had been blessed by his family. He had long ago decided to take a different path from his father who managed a farm and his father had accepted his decision. When he had entered the military, his father had even asked him to bring honor to the family name.
That left him unable to even imagine living in a family like Walter’s.
“Soon after he lost his father, his mother passed away from the emotional burden. It was only then that he began to think seriously about going to space, but it almost feels like…”
“Like he is doing it to spite his father?”
That response brought a short silence.
After three heavy breaths, Oscar looked up into Mayer’s eyes.
“What is it?”
“Aren’t Huber and Walter a lot alike?”
That comment shocked Mayer.
“They both rush forward even if it means sacrificing those around them, don’t they? And isn’t that exactly why you looked up to him? Am I wrong, Mayer?”
“You are exactly right.” Mayer sighed. “I undoubtedly looked up to his way of doing things. But…”
I can’t do things the way he does, he thought.
He had always run along the path laid out for a chosen one, so he could not recklessly believe in his own strength like Walter and Paul.
Nevertheless, he was now opposing the two of them.
And that was why he asked a nervous question.
“What would happen if I fought them head-on now?”
“If you used their way of doing things, you would lose.”
“Then how am I supposed to fight?”
He leaned forward as he asked and Oscar fell briefly silent.
“Are you not satisfied with that previous fight?”
“I do not want to think that was my true ability. …I simply caught them off guard.”
“Then what will you do when you fight with everything you have and still lose?”
This attack from an unexpected angle made Mayer look up. He found Oscar staring directly at him.
“If you are to fight them head-on, you will need to use everything you have. Even so, you may still lose. Can you endure that loss?”
What could he do if his own strength was rejected?
He had never used his full strength or experienced a loss, so he had no way of immediately answering that question.
However, he doubted Oscar was actually expecting an answer. The man slowly said something more.
“And if you still wish to fight after hearing all that, remember these words.”
He took a breath.
“What matters most is determining what exactly it is you should be.”
A moment of silence followed.
“Do you understand, Mayer?”
“…I do not.”
“You are still young, so take your time and give it plenty of thought. You do not need to rush yourself like those two.”
Once Oscar crossed his arms, Mayer realized something.
“No, um, I just mean… Don’t you mean three?”
“What do you mean?”
The look in Oscar’s eyes and his tone completely changed.
Mayer felt a chill run down his spine.
“When I faced the dp-XXX, there were three people in the cockpit.”
“You mean three people didn’t leave the ship!?”
Mayer had heard Walter’s group had been taken into custody, but he had not heard the number of people. It had seemed so obvious an issue he had not bothered to ask.
“But only Walter and Paul spoke over the radio,” groaned Oscar while wrinkling his brow.
Mayer realized what had happened.
The Bladlikburg had been too far from the dp-XXX to see inside, so they only had to avoid mentioning the third person’s presence and then hide them.
They had not counted on Mayer noticing the third person, but that miscalculation had proved meaningless since he had not reported it.
The two of them stood up simultaneously.
At the same moment, the Zwei’s deck lit up outside the window.
The dp-XXX was preparing to take off.
One of its engines could not run with the Lanze still skewering it, but the other engine was fine. As long as it did not try anything too difficult, it could at least glide through the sky.
A few string-like objects shot through the moonlight on the deck. The wires holding down the dp-XXX were snapping at set intervals.
“Commander Oscar!” said a ship-wide announcement. “We have an emergency! Please hurry to the bridge!”
“Commander!” shouted Mayer.
“This was my oversight,” clearly stated Oscar. “Do not worry about it.”
“You do your job. Besides, we have no fighter craft that can fly tonight.”
With that, Oscar ran from the room. Mayer began to follow him but stopped. There was nothing a fighter pilot like him could do.
He looked out the window and saw the nearly full moon in the night sky.
It was the strength of its light that prevented them from scrambling the fighters. There was a danger of the engines losing control and destroying the fighters.
Covered in that moonlight, the dp-XXX’s nose quickly rose. Nothing was restraining it any longer.
That collection of advanced technology rotated and flew into the sky like a leaf in the wind.
Mayer almost pressed against the glass to keep his eyes on the ship.
The Lanze skewering it glowed in the darkness and the clouds spread out below.
Small dots of light were visible far below the gaps in the clouds. Those were the lights of Berlin.
It took only a few seconds for the Lanze’s light to dive between the gaps in the clouds and blend into the city’s lights.
“They got us,” muttered Mayer as he pulled his face from the window.
He then sighed and saw his own face reflected in the glass.
It was only when he saw his face that he realized something.
That reflected face contained a small but satisfied smile.
The commotion caused by the dp-XXX’s escape reached the interrogation room.
It was a small room with bare metal walls and the two men strapped to chairs exchanged a smile.
“Sounds like the young lady pulled it off.”
“Sure does. At least we know the Kaiserburg won’t be caught in the middle of this trouble with the military.”
Walter faced forward and the interrogator across the table frowned back at him.
“What did you two do?”
“We didn’t do anything. You all are the ones that overlooked something.”
“I learned my lesson in the past, and gave the spaceship an emergency life support chamber.”
“L-life support chamber!?”
The man seemed to have realized what had happened.
A life support chamber was a small space about the size of a coffin. If its equipment was activated with someone inside, they would be instantly half-frozen and put them into hibernation by a spray of cold gas.
“But the door is labelled ‘danger’ what with the cooling equipment inside, so an amateur isn’t going to want to open it. That label isn’t entirely accurate, though.”
No one would be stupid enough to open it with that written on it. After all, the ship had been built with strange technology. It was unlikely the military had performed a thorough internal inspection.
That was exactly what Walter and Paul had been hoping for.
That was also why they had pretended to be the only two aboard over the radio.
Their gamble had paid off.
“They say savages fear advanced civilizations, but it looks like that’s true.”
Walter smiled pleasantly.
“Oscar really is easy to trick.”
A forest known as the Grunewald Forest was located on the northwest outskirts of Berlin. The Breuer Company’s aircraft repair factory had been built inside it.
It was an old building. It had gone almost entirely unused since the Breuer Company had left the aircraft production industry.
Even past eight at night, an old man in a work outfit remained in the factory’s office. He seemed to live there. The office table contained stacked dishes from dinner, half-eaten käse, and the knife used to eat it.
His legs were resting up on the table and his arms were crossed behind his head.
“There’s nothing to do around here,” he muttered leisurely. “And there used to be so much going on.”
Ever since Hiram Maxim’s first successful flight in 1894, airplanes had become an industry of their own. Business had slowed at one point, but ironically, it was a world war that had truly expanded the airplane market. Immediately after the war, the industry had only targeted the wealthy, but airplanes had later become a much more household means of transportation.
However, that prosperity had not lasted long.
A mere three years after the Breuer Company had shifted from the defense industry to the aircraft industry, a certain accident had occurred. That was fifteen years ago.
“If that hadn’t happened, people wouldn’t fear flying through the skies.”
Currently, flight had become the exclusive realm of shipping along air routes and the military.
Airplanes were much less safe than cars or boats. The incident fifteen years before had been powerful enough to place that fear in everyone’s hearts.
From that day onward, the civilian aircraft market had declined.
…In the old days…
He scratched his thinning hair.
“There was always the roar of engines coming from the airfield.”
As soon as he forced a smile, the factory shook from a powerful blast of wind. A roar reverberated through his body as if some great mass was pressing down on him. The unpleasant creaking unique to old buildings reached him and his tilted chair almost fell backwards.
…Was that an aircraft?
He frantically stood from the chair, thought for a moment, and corrected himself. It could not have been an aircraft. If it had been one, he would have heard the loud sound of a rocket or jet being fired.
“Was it just a gust of wind?” he muttered.
He sat back down and reached for the käse and knife on the table.
The office door burst open and a gust of wind blew in.
“Old Man Metz!”
The gust of wind was joined by a familiar voice and a familiar form.
It was Else.
“E-Else!? What are you doing out when it’s so cold!?”
The girl used to visit the factory for fun, but now she approached the old man without responding or closing the door.
She moved quickly and she snatched the knife and käse from his hand.
“Old Man Metz. No, Breuer Company Aircraft Factory Manager Steinmetz. I want help repairing a ship.”
She spoke quietly, ate the käse in her hand, and took a breath.
Her shoulders fell and the old man, Steinmetz, spoke.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He sounded somewhat taken aback and Else seemed to understand why that would be.
“Well, Old Man Metz. I need you to understand.”
She pointed at the old man’s face. And she used the hand holding the knife.
Steinmetz leaned back in surprise and his chair fell backwards.
Else set down the knife and helped the man up.
“Else, what is going on? When you say a ship…do you mean an aircraft?”
“Then what do you mean?” he asked while brushing off his butt.
The old man could not contain his laughter at that unexpected answer.
“Pfa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Now that’s a bad joke, Else! Like I can believe that!”
“Then look at this!”
Else walked over to the dew-covered window and threw it open.
A mass of metal sat outside.
Else turned around and clenched her fist with her back to what looked like a collection of steel organs. It almost looked like a wall sitting outside the window.
“I’m going to fly to space in this ship!”
She faced the old man with the winter night’s wind on her back.
Steinmetz was at a loss for words.
He had stopped laughing. He had thought this was a young girl’s joke, but before he could make sense of anything, he had been shown this mass of steel.
The intensity of this fact complicated his thoughts.
When had something so large landed?
Why was Else talking about going to space?
How was he supposed to react?
He tried to say something and forcibly calm himself, but it did not work. The beating of his heart only grew faster as Else stared directly at him.
Her gaze was telling him to believe in the facts before his eyes.
Sweat ran down his brow. Even with the cold winter air blowing in through the open door and window, he was sweating. That was how tense he was.
He gulped a little and moved his lips.
“What are you trying to do?”
He barely managed to squeeze out that question and he looked away from Else. He instead looked at the ship outside the window.
He breathed a sigh of relief and sat back in his chair.
Else spoke calmly to him.
“There was an aerial battle over Berlin today, right?”
She quickly explained what had happened.
“And this is the ship that held its own against the air force.”
Steinmetz focused on the mass of metal outside the window.
“Else, I’m going to ask again. You aren’t joking about this, are you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You really are…well, going to space with this?”
“Yes, of course. Only an idiot wouldn’t go if they had the means.”
“Are you serious?”
Her tone was light, but her expression was serious. The fact that she said nothing more prevented him from investigating further.
He sighed and looked out the window again.
“I see,” he muttered. “I don’t really understand, but you can reach space in that ship, can you?”
“And you’re asking me to fix it?”
“Yes. You’re the only person who can do it.”
“You’re overestimating me.”
His voice was filled with resignation, but his lips were smiling.
Else could not help but smile as well.
Suddenly, his eyes stopped on her expression.
“What is it?”
“Just a little thing. More importantly, Else, have you told your father?”
“I was about to go do that.”
Her expression stiffened a little.
She pulled a black communicator from her coat pocket and held it out.
After a moment, he took it.
“What is this?”
“The ship will carry out simple actions if you give it orders with this. It’s pretty smart.”
“So it has voice recognition? That’s pretty amazing.”
He stared at the Kaiserburg.
“The times have changed.”
“Times don’t just change.”
“We have to change them.”
Else closed the window.
“Can you do it?” she asked.
“Not on my own. I’ll need three more people and one of them has to be an emblem engineer.”
“Okay. Got it.”
“Now hurry to your father. Get the permission to use some engineers and to do what you’re trying to do.”
She gave a powerful nod.
“I’m on my way.”
With that, she turned around and ran from the office.
The old man smiled bitterly as he watched her go.
“How is Gaston going to greet her?”
It was past nine as Gaston and Mayer walked down a hallway in the former’s mansion.
“I apologize for the lack of hospitality.”
“No, we are the ones who failed to show any courtesy.”
“No, no. Compared to my daughter…”
Gaston looked surprised.
“Oh, she is out right now.”
“Is that so?”
There was no real question in Mayer’s tone.
“I’m not sure what to do with my daughter. She runs around enjoying herself every day and causes me nothing but trouble.”
“What’s wrong with that? She sounds like a cheerful person.”
“She’s less cheerful and more…”
Gaston trailed off.
“What is it?”
“It’s sad how rarely I see her smile.”
He smiled bitterly. The only time he had seen a surprisingly large smile on Else’s face was when she had boarded that ship.
He asked the young man a question.
“Mr. Schrier, what do you think? I believe people must set aside all ridiculous things once they grow up.”
The young man’s expression remained calm.
“I was treating her as an adult. At twenty, all that remains is to prepare for entering society. She should have matured by now.”
Gaston stopped in front of the main entrance.
“And yet she got herself involved in some nonsense and smiled as she did so.”
Mayer also stopped and quietly listened to Gaston.
“But why did I tremble when I saw that smile?”
Gaston roughly brushed a hand through his hair.
At the same moment, the door opened and a woman stepped inside.
It was Else.
Gaston was dumbfounded and Mayer gave her a quick glance before nodding.
“Okay, Mr. Breuer. I will take my leave now.”
He reached for the door Else had opened.
Else’s eyes followed him, but he did not respond.
The door slowly closed and the outside air was cut off.
Gaston and Else remained in complete silence.
Else was the first to speak.
She took a breath to calm herself first.
Her voice resounded clearly through the entranceway.
It was Gaston’s voice that drowned it out.
“What have you been doing? Your disobedience is hardly new, but I cannot help you this time.”
That was the usual line, but the exhaustion filling it was new. She must have noticed it because her expression changed slightly.
With an odd stillness on her face, she asked him a question.
“Would you believe me if I told you I was seriously thinking about going to space?”
Her words left her father speechless. He had just realized how she had returned and what she was trying to do.
“This is no time for jokes!” he emotionally shouted back.
He then took a breath and relaxed his tensed shoulders.
“Listen, Else. The man who once tried to go to space failed and became a star decorating the moon! No one has ever succeeded!”
“I know that.”
“Why would you do something that could kill you!?”
“Because I believe I can do it.”
“You just want to stand out! You can’t risk your life for something so ridiculous! And not just that! You’re troubling the military and spreading chaos through your country!”
“What does the country or military have to do with this?”
“Have you never thought about what it means for people to die!? You will be killing people who have nothing to do with this!”
“Then why do you sell weapons!?”
It was a sharp, painful statement.
Gaston started to reply but stopped.
He did have a reason to sell weapons: his daughter. But he could not say that here. If he did, it would include a dark meaning.
…If Else wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have sold those deadly weapons.
That was what it came down to. Anything he said would only sound like an excuse.
He had no choice but to accept her next statement head-on.
“Everyone does the same thing!”
Gaston’s shoulders twitched as if from a spasm.
He did not know what to say.
At the same time, she began to move. She slowly lowered her hips, got down on one knee, and fixed the hem of her skirt. She placed one arm across her stomach, leaned forward, and bowed her head.
Her action contained no hesitation. It was a prepared and perfected act.
In noble etiquette, that was how a knight showed gratitude to his ruler, but the action was not even seen in royal palaces anymore.
After a while, she raised her head. Her expression was calm and still.
“I apologize for interrupting your busy schedule.”
Her tone was relaxed and she did not stop.
Unable to say anything, Gaston bit his lip and listened to his daughter’s voice.
“It would seem I asked too much of you, but this is very important to me. Two people have bet their lives on this issue and it will help me decide what to do with my own life.”
“As president of the Breuer Company, please lend me some personnel. I beg you.”
After that, she raised her head a little.
“I honestly want to do this myself, but it seems you can’t reach space alone. I’m not just asking you. I want everyone’s help!”
Hearing the uncontainable intensity in her voice, Gaston asked a reflexive question.
“Do you think everyone will work for your sake?”
“It isn’t for my sake! It’s for what I want to do! It’s for going to space!”
He frowned at that.
He had realized her desire was more than mere selfishness.
His daughter was trying to lead others and accomplish a goal.
He realized that action could also be expressed with the word “business”.
However, realizing that fact meant accepting that Else was on the same level as him. It meant allowing her to leave him.
…Can I really allow that now!?
In order to hold her here and in order to test her, he asked one final question.
“Are you saying you can sacrifice others just as I do?”
Before answering, she stood and brought their eyes to equal height.
“I simply believe in the possibility of reaching space. This is a challenge that includes the possibility of my own failure.”
As she answered, she gave an unreliable and yet strong-willed smile.
…Is she afraid?
Someone who would sacrifice others had to keep in mind the possibility of their own demise. Gaston knew the transaction was completed by that principle.
She was sacrificing others and herself in order to set a great number of people in motion and accomplish her own goal.
She had a real goal now. If someone like that began to move, there was no stopping them. Just as Gaston had never stopped selling weapons no matter what Else had said.
He closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief.
And he muttered the words of his resolve.
“If I didn’t help you, you would go running elsewhere, wouldn’t you?”
The small interrogation room was surrounded by white walls with no windows. It only contained a metal door, a large table, and chairs.
On one side, the interrogator sat with his arms crossed.
On the other side, Walter and Paul sat in their chairs. The ropes binding them to the chairs had been removed once the dp-XXX had vanished into the darkness and not returned.
Walter groaned and looked up at the ceiling with his usual expression.
“Ahh… It’s almost the 24th, isn’t it?”
To add to the mental pressure, the interrogation room had no clock.
Paul looked at Walter.
“You can tell the time?”
The question was relatively meaningless, but Walter nodded.
“I inherited my father’s sense of time, so it’s perfect. Want me to tell you the time down to the seconds?”
“Fine. What time is it now?”
“December 23, 11:32 PM and 18 seconds. There’s no mistaking it.”
The interrogator pulled a pocket watch from his uniform pocket.
“That’s not even close, you fool. It’s 11:11 and 27 seconds.”
Walter turned to Paul with a serious look.
“See, professor? I got the time for you.”
“Yes. Well done.”
“Idiots really are easy to trick.”
Walter’s tone seemed to finally clue the interrogator into what had happened.
He briefly grew pale, but his face was red with rage a moment alter.
“Do you have any idea what position you are in here!?”
“Do you? It would probably be a good idea to let us go sooner rather than later.”
“That’s right. If you go home, you can help prepare for Weihnachts with your wife, whose personality is her only decent quality, and your kid, who excels in athletic ability and nothing else. A happy family sure is nice.”
“ ‘Sure is nice’!? I could be living that kind of life if you two would hurry up and confess everything!”
“Confess everything, you say?” Walter sighed. “Well, okay. Here’s everything about me: my height is 187 cm, my weight is 72 kg, my hobby is astronomy, my favorite food is rippchen, my favorite drink is moselwein, on Sundays I visit used book stores-…”
“No one asked for any of that!”
“But you did just now.”
“That’s right. You’re contradicting yourself.”
The two crossed their arms and nodded.
The interrogator held his head and collapsed onto the table.
“Are you okay? If you want someone to deliver the finishing blow, just ask.”
“…I do not need that.”
His voice was low and he slowly sat back up.
“Oh, he can still move. Maybe we should’ve messed with him some more.”
“Not completely silent!”
“You really are contradicting yourself.”
“This guy really isn’t very smart. And he’s surprisingly weak-willed for an interrogator.”
“This would happen to anyone who has to deal with you two!”
After slowly standing up, the interrogator glared at the other two men.
“I’m going to use the truth serum.”
“On yourself? I suppose everyone is aware on some level of what they’ve done wrong. I’m willing to lend you my ear as you confess it all. But I will ask that you draw up a receipt.”
“Walter, this guy has no sense of humor, so just stop.”
“It’s cute when a woman does it. When she shouts ‘I can’t allow that!’ and beats you softly on the chest, it just makes you want to at least rub her head.”
“ ‘At least’? Where else are you planning to rub her?”
“We can leave that unsaid.”
The interrogator shouted and slammed his fist against the table. He glared at the other two with his face so red it looked like steam was going to rise from it.
“Don’t think you’ll get away with this! I’ll use truth serum, torture, or whatever it takes to get all the information you have!”
“Don’t you think guys with too powerful a sense of duty are hard to deal with, Walter?”
“I know what you mean. They shouldn’t get so heated up. And besides, if you’re announcing you’re going to do those things ahead of time, wouldn’t that mean you aren’t confident they’ll actually work?”
“You two had better remember this.”
“I wouldn’t have gone to university if I had a bad memory.”
“Shut up! I’ll show you what I can do! Just you wait!”
“Um, if this is going to take long, can you bring us some books or something to kill the time?”
Before Walter had even finished speaking, the interrogator had vanished through the metal door. The door slammed shut behind him and they heard the lock click.
Walter and Paul exchanged a glance.
“He sure is short-tempered.”
“We’ve been surrounded by people like that lately.”
“Else’s probably having a hard time down below. Her father looked pretty stubborn.”
Paul looked Walter in the eye.
“What do you think?”
“Are you asking if she’s my type?’
“I know, I know.” Walter nodded. “She will definitely return here with almost 100% certainty. I wouldn’t have left the Kaiserburg with her if I thought otherwise.”
“You sound certain.”
“Honest people like her…”
He hesitated because he was unsure how to put it.
“I guess you could say they’re never satisfied until they return what they’ve borrowed.”
“Tell me what you really think.”
Walter smiled at the hint of harshness in Paul’s voice.
“Do I really have to when it’s so obvious? She’s the same as us. Once she takes the first step, she’ll break into a run, leap, and end up here.”
His eyes faced straight forward as he said that.
The look in them was filled with confidence.
The night was beginning to fill with a deep chill as well as darkness. It was 10:30 PM.
The front entrance of the Breuer mansion opened a little.
The light extending into the yard was blocked by a human shadow. It was Else’s shadow.
She carried a rucksack over her shoulder and closed the door behind her.
No one was there to see her off and no one watched her from the house. After making sure the door was closed, she faced forward and began to walk.
After a few steps, she came to a sudden stop.
She had noticed someone standing in the darkness.
It was a man wearing a plain-colored coat.
His blond hair had blended into the darkness, but it began to shine dully once the moon came out.
The young man was revealed below the moonlight. He was a soldier. Specifically, he was the man who had left the mansion when Else had arrived.
His breath appeared white as he spoke.
“Did you fly down to Berlin in the dp-XXX?”
“Yes, I did.”
As she answered, she pulled a submachine gun from her rucksack and aimed it at the soldier. She had already released the safety.
“I used it to escape. So what are you going to do? Arrest me?”
The young man gently raised his hands.
“I only waited here because I wanted to talk.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
“Isn’t the fact that I waited alone without calling for reinforcements enough proof?”
“Would you believe me if I said this submachine gun can’t fire? This is the same.”
“Then I will believe what you say.”
Mayer stepped forward with his hands still raised. He slowly took step after step toward Else.
She watched him with her finger still on the trigger.
By the time she said that, he was only two or three steps away from her.
“You have guts.”
She sounded surprised and she did not lower the gun. He approached no further and nodded.
“Can the dp-XXX fly again?”
“My upperclassman and teacher built that ship, so I want to know if it will fly again.”
Else met Mayer’s gaze when she heard that. She saw a powerful light in the young officer’s eyes. He was truly worried about the dp-XXX.
“I see. You must be Mayer, Walter’s underclassman that piloted that black fighter.”
She smiled bitterly and nodded.
“The Kaiserburg will be fully repaired within three days. I can even guarantee it with the skill of the Breuer Company.”
Mayer breathed a sigh of relief. Noticing his hands starting to lower, Else re-aimed the submachine gun and he raised his hands again.
“Why are you trying to fly the dp-XXX again? Wouldn’t you be satisfied with a normal life?”
His tone had a hint of testing her and she suddenly smiled in the darkness.
“Satisfied with a normal life?” She took a breath. “I suppose it would be nice to live a normal life without all this. I could take it easy in university, get married, have two or three kids, and play with those kids by the lake here. …That would be a happy life.”
Before he could ask why, Else shook her head.
“But I don’t want that! If I chose that life, I could never look up into the sky again. Would you be fine with that?”
What did she see in those words?
Mayer sighed, closed his eyes, and nodded.
“You really do want to go to space, don’t you?”
It took a moment for him to answer.
“I…do not want to go to space.”
“Because that is what my upperclassman and you want, not what I want.”
“Then why did you ask if the Kaiserburg would fly again?”
Her question seemed to bite back at him and he answered in tone that said not even he could believe what he was saying.
“Because I want to fight all of you.”
That was a quiet declaration of war.
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