City Series:Volume5B

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Contents

Character 1[edit]

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Beretta McWild

I will hesitate no longer!

A will wishing to protect it all


Character 2[edit]

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Rosetta Balleroy

I think it will be okay.

Feelings possessing infinite possibility


Character 3[edit]

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Heinz Berge

What does it mean to be the strongest?

Instincts attempting to discover true strength


Character 4[edit]

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Rot Löwe

I am with thee.

The strongest machine


Map[edit]

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City v05b 007.jpg


Newspaper[edit]

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Top:

Daily Herlde – Issue 68000


Bottom:

A Somewhat Sexy Story

We have long heard rumors that it is possible peep on the bathing area behind the Francisca Clinic, but that has now been wonderfully proven thanks to the efforts of our reporters’ infiltration team. Rose Francisca, owner of the clinic, uses her Correcteur ability to purify the water there, so the village girls will bathe there for their skin and other, shall we say, health benefits.

When Rose herself learned of this, she said “Peeping is wrong. I will crush you – especially at your weak point.” and she plans to quickly build a fence around it.

Above: Photographic Evidence.


Glossary[edit]

[Note: The original novel does not include a glossary, but it should make an English translation much more understandable. Kawakami uses different versions of almost every piece of terminology to match the 3 nationalities of the characters (American, French, and German). In Japanese, the kanji below the ruby text allows the reader to know which terminology is equivalent between languages, but this glossary will have to suffice for the English translation. Not every term has a version for each language and I will keep it updated as the translation progresses.]


Japanese (English Translation): Chain

English: Rondeau

French: Rondeau

German: Metaphysikos


Japanese: Lost Techniques

English: Death Techno

French: Perdus Artifice

German: Ober Geheimnis


Japanese: Genetic Word

English: Live

French: Formule

German: Ton


Japanese: Heavy Knight

English: Knight Striker

French: Lourd de Écrivain

German: Panzer Kavalier


Japanese: Steed

English: Barrel

French: Appareil

German: Panzer


Japanese: Heavy Steed

English: Heavy Barrel

French: Lourd de Marionnette

German: Grösse Panzer


Japanese: Middle Steed

English: Middle Barrel

French: Forma de Marionnette

German: Mittel Panzer


Japanese: Light Steed

English: Light Barrel

French: Léger de Marionnette

German: Klein Panzer


Japanese: Reset

English: Format

French: Primitif

German:


Japanese: Write Piloting

English: Write Bring

French: Recréa

German: Schreiben


Japanese: Word Confirmation Writing

English: Sign

French: Signe

German: Lernen


Japanese: Add Word Writing

English: Point

French: Ajouter

German: Verbesserung


Japanese: Over Emblem

English: Over Emblem

French: Excède Emblème

German: Ober Emblem


Japanese: Automaton

English: Sein Frau

French: Belle de Marionnette

German: Sein Frau


Japanese: Feng Shui Master

English: Tuner

French: Correcteur

German: Stimmer


Japanese: Study

English: Study

French: Cabinet

German: Studio


Japanese: Divine Form Device

English: Device

French: Instrument

German: Werkzeug


And the hidden history continues.


Chapter 13: Change[edit]

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6/6/1944

For some reason, the scream continues to ring in my ears.


June 6, 1944[edit]

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x92.”

Time slowed down. The rain from the cloudy sky fell slowly onto the Normandy beach.

I stood alone on the coast. I was the only person in the world capable of moving on this beach without being hit by our own machinegun fire or the enemy warships’ shells.

While moving at 92 times the speed of a normal person, I could even see the bullets fired by the infantrymen’s small guns.

The gunfire and explosions were stretched out 92 times to form a single great roar that never ceased pounding on my auditory devices. My vision clearly saw the bullets from the machineguns and small guns tearing through the air. Occasionally, an enemy soldier’s body was blasted into the air by an explosion where it would float for a while before falling.

Time moved so slowly. And in that time, a single color showed up brighter than all others.

The red of blood. That color sprayed from the infantrymen and stained the sea.

Approximately 5000 ships floated off the coast and an incalculable number of infantrymen attempted to reach land from them. They easily surpassed 10,000 in number. And they were transformed into corpses on the beach.

There was no cover on the 25-mile-wide coast, their tanks sank in the water, our machineguns fired down from a rock wall, and I intercepted any who still managed to reach land. I was tasked with protecting 1/6 of the beach, the 2-mile radius around Pillbox #18 which had been taken out by a shell from an enemy ship.

I was armed with a newly developed divine weapon called a heavy cleaver. That was a Werkzeug equipped with a Phlogiston Tank that used its own power to envelop itself in a cleaving black blade. It could cleave and slice through anything and everything.

I walked between the obstacles meant to prevent the ships from landing. Each step felt so slow, like I was walking through water.

I heard human voices along with the roar of gunfire and shellfire.

They were screams. Some were the gasps of people hit by a powerful impact, some were the cries of those who had just noticed their injuries, and some were the laughs of those who had accepted their fate, but they all mixed together to color the air.

<There are two enemy soldiers below me.>

I stepped on them. Two bodies’ worth of flesh and bone were broken and crushed between my metal foot and the sand of the beach. With my sense of time sped up 92 times, I could accurately hear each of their bones snapping and muscle fibers tearing. I felt nothing from the observation. My Psyche Outer system was functioning properly.

A small bullet hit the left shoulder of my armored clothing. It was incapable of penetrating the armor. I reacted while it was still digging into the clothing material. I looked back.

I could see the ocean. Several thousand enemy soldiers were standing and floating in the dark morning ocean. The ratio of dead to alive appeared to be about half and half. Several of the landing craft were headed my way, but the ones spewing flames and the ones sinking from a hit were also full of soldiers.

Nevertheless, the enemy did not give up. They had no real plan. It was an invasion reliant on pure numbers.

The corpses were piling up, but they relentlessly continued onward.

<One of the landing craft is headed my way.>

An MG42 bullet flew in from behind me and right past my ear.

When I saw the light of the tracer round, I lowered my heavy cleaver.

<The machinegun bullet slowly hits the front of the landing craft. It is not alone. Nearly 100 bullets crash into it while shaking the air.>

The result was the sound of striking bullets while blood spray and chunks of human beings flew from behind the front wall of the landing craft.

That 1-inch-thick metal panel might as well have been paper to the machinegun. The humans behind it were just as ineffectual a barrier. After penetrating the front wall of the landing craft, the bullets entered the bodies of the soldiers within, tore through their internal organs, hit their bones, and ricocheted into other soldiers. That landing craft might as well have been a coffin. In order to create a mass-produced product, they no longer protected the crucial soldiers within.

<The landing craft has lost its navigator and is now drifting aimlessly. It takes a somewhat diagonal course and ends up hitting and killing some of the soldiers on the beach. Then it rolls onto its side. The corpses within are dumped into the ocean. A moment later, the air fluctuates at three points above the ocean.>

The shells fired from the warships out at sea were 7-inch models. They were targeted at me. To intercept them, I pressurized my power output by a factor of 11 and raised the heavy cleaver.

<It produces a supersonic shockwave.

The compressed air acts as a shock cannon, so the shockwave races across the beach, tears a hole in the ocean, and collides with the shells.

The giant shells ricochet off course. Two bounce into the sky and the third falls into the ocean.

The ocean explodes from the blast. The ocean surface swells up and the water explodes upwards like a solid. The nearby landing craft and soldiers are carried into the sky along with it. People rain down from the air.>

I heard no screams. Their internal organs had been crushed when the initial shockwave threw them into the sky. Many of them spewed their organs from their mouth. They flew up and then fell in the slow motion of x92 speed.

<The one who flew farthest grazes Rot Löwe’s shoulder and falls behind me.>

The explosions, gunfire, and human voices sounded like a storm, but all of that noise was only coming from the distance now.

<I hear another distant explosion.

But instead of coming from a shell strike, this is the sound of explosives detonating in an enclosed space.>

I concluded a distant pillbox had been destroyed. The landing had succeeded.

When the defensive line collapsed at one point, the rest would fall apart from there.

I could not seek confirmation because Rot Löwe was not equipped with a communication device. Development was underway on a communication device capable of accounting for the time difference caused by my accelerated reaction speed, but no real progress had been made.

Thus, I checked with my sight devices while standing on the deserted beach.

“Primary Sight Devices: Lernen”

<As my field of vision rapidly widens, the first thing I see are the corpses littering the beach.

Most of them are gathered at the edge of the water where they stain the sea a dark red.>

The enemy soldiers were making a successful landing at a different point on the beach. The ones who had died here had died in vain.

<A single vehicle is visible next to Pillbox #18 which had been destroyed by shellfire from the ships.

It is a wagon jeep used to command a Grösse Panzer unit. The 1st aide’s head is sticking out from the open roof.>

It took some focus to hear his voice.

<“Lieutenant Colonel! The enemy has landed on the left wing! I will send two of our unit’s Grösse Panzers there!”>

I concluded that was a good decision.

I raised a hand to show I understood that those two would deal with the landed enemy soldiers.

<Rot Löwe’s left arm slowly rises with the shield in its grasp.

Just then, I hear wind rushing in from the ocean. It is coming from the shells fired by the ships’ guns.>

I confirmed their presence with my vision alone.

Six horizontal shots were flying my way from the ships out at sea. But instead of simple steel shells, these were explosive shells known as Bogen.

<Another volley is also fired. And including the shells fired by the surrounding ships, this one is 12 shots.>

This was a total of 18 explosive shells.

They had fired on this deserted area of beach after noticing none of their own soldiers were there.

I compressed my power output by a factor of 20. That was nearly enough power for the Panzer to cry out in protest.

I raised my heavy cleaver and shield.

The black blade carried a slicing power and it released a gust of wind as I swung it up with my right arm.

Wet with blood and rain, the sandy beach exploded from the shockwave and briefly hid me from the enemy. I could not see either, but I accurately remembered the locations of the enemy shells.

City v05b 019.jpg

This was not a problem.

The shockwave tore apart the ocean and was intended to neutralize four of the explosive shells.

My arm groaned in protest after I swung up the sword.

I normally used 10 times the standard power output to release a shockwave, but this time I had used twice that. The purpose behind this was revealed with the second attack.

I forcibly swung down the heavy cleaver.

When moving faster than sound, actions were silent.

The blade struck the beach and my hand felt it slicing through each individual grain of sand. This produced a second shockwave.

<The second shockwave occurs at the same time as the explosion of sound from the first one.>

The two shockwaves collided and burst with a light as bright as fierce lightning.

I straightened up and moved out of the way to avoid the shockwaves.

<As the fluctuation of air spreads out in all directions, the sand already scattered through the air is blown even further away.

My vision opens up like a curtain.

At the same time, the four shells on course for a direct hit on the Rot Löwe collide with the first shockwave and explode. The sound and explosive flames detonate another two. The remaining 12 shells are shaken by the noise and shockwave as they collide with the invisible wall of the second shockwave. Seven of those explode.

A total of 13 have exploded.>

The remaining five were not on a collision course. I took five steps back and raised my shield.

The sand, pieces of corpses, and shell shrapnel pounded on the shield as the multiple explosions propelled them.

I used more power output to hold my position here than for any of my previous actions.

“Heat Radiation System - Full Power: Lernen”

Just as the cooling system activated, the worst of the shockwaves passed. The shield suddenly felt much lighter.

I moved forward.

Before, I had been avoiding the shockwaves from the Bogen exploding in front of me, but now I had to endure the shockwaves from the remaining 5 as they exploded on the stone wall behind me.

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x113.”

One step. So very slow.

Two steps. I made a turn here to view the stone wall behind me.

At the third step, I spread my legs in a stance meant to defend against explosions.

<With a great roar, red-hot shells pass by overhead and to the sides.>

I held my shield at the ready. I only had to confirm the trajectory of the five enemy shells and then adjust the shield’s position.

<Four of the shells collide with the tall rock walls of Normandy.

But one veered from its expected course due to the many explosions and shockwaves.

After becoming a red ball of light, it crashes into the destroyed pillbox atop the rock wall.>

The 1st aide had been near there.

<Just before the explosion, the 1st aide looked to me from the military wagon next to the pillbox.>

His expression suggested that he had no clue what was about to happen.

<A moment later, explosive flames envelope everything and a volley of sound drowns out all other noise.>

The sound of stone wall collapsing was no more than an indistinct rumble with time slowed by a factor of more than one hundred.

But I did hear something within that.

No, I could assume it was there.

<A scream.>

The 1st aide’s scream was drowned out in an instant.

The deafening roar became stone shrapnel that pounded on my shield.

However…

<For some reason, the scream continues to ring in my ears.>

I concluded that I was only able to recognize it as a scream because it had been drowned out in an instant. However…

<For some reason, the scream continues to ring in my ears.>

Why? Why would the scream not go away? And why was I questioning something like this? My Psyche Outer system was functioning properly. I would only have questions and memories related to combat.

Then why was I questioning the screa-

Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Geschäftlich Schrift[edit]

Oddity detected in Schreiben user’s memory. The rapid return of a past memory has been confirmed. To avoid any risk, the surrounding memories will be released and the Schreiben user’s thought connection will be severed for 0.0000001 seconds before reconnecting.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

The following once happened:

<March 24, 1944

At 03:22, I awoke earlier than planned. I believe I was woken by a shocking dream.

The only thing that remains in my memory is a scream. I cannot determine what kind of scream or whose scream it is.>

<March 25, 1944

At 03:21, I awoke earlier than planned. I had that dream again.

A scream, flowers, the rainy streets of Berlin. Those memories remain independent of each other. Of course, these fragmentary memories are not deemed combat related and will eventually be erased by the prosthetic parts controlling my memories.>

What is this scream?

<For some reason, the scream continues to ring in my ears.>

And why was I conflating the scream from that remembered dream with the 1st aide’s scream?

<The stone wall is partially collapsing from the shock of the explosion.

The wind whips up, circles around my raised shield, and flutters Rot Löwe’s armor clothing.>

I do not understand any of it.

I have determined it is dangerous to lose myself in these thoughts mid-battle. But the memories remain undeleted. I am not sure if this means the Psyche Outer system has ceased to function or if these memories are in fact necessary for me.

<The right side of my vision is stained red.

The top half of a corpse has plastered itself to my right sight device after being blown into the air by the blast.>

Humans are fragile.

<Even that corpse is soon blown away by the whirlwind of overlapping explosive blasts.>

I can assume that corpse also screamed as it died.

Is the scream in my memories the same as the ones made by these many corpses?

Were they created by fear, resignation, and the other emotions I no longer possess?

<For some reason, the scream continues to ring in my ears.>

I am currently a machine. Is there a scream like that within me? Why can I not clearly recall that? That is true of several other things as well: the photograph of a woman and girl, the four o’clock flower, and…

The Attesor Project.

What do those things mean to a machine like me?

I cannot find an answer.

But I do know that these are all things I have forgotten due to the Psyche Outer surgery.

So when I joined the Panzer Ritter Project…

<The upper half of a soldier that was plastered to my eye is now airborne.>

…why…

<It is obliterated by the vacuum produced by colliding air. For just an instant…>

…did I…

<Red spray dances in the wind and vanishes.>

…try to erase my memories!?

<For some reason, the scream continues to ring in my ears.>

I cannot find the answer.

Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Geschäftlich Schrift[edit]

Stabilizing the Schreiben user’s mind is no longer possible. Restoring a portion of his memories to eliminate the psychological pressure causing the instability. Altering fixed memories. The Schreiben user’s thought connection will be severed for 0.0000001 seconds before reconnecting.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

A memory was replayed in my head.

<April 20, 1944

I discovered a part of my own past.

“The funeral for the family of Captain Heinz Berge, who has returned from Bourgogne, will be held at Grunewald Park Graveyard today at 2 PM. The forecast is for rain, so be careful.”

The date was from just after the end of the previous great war. Thanks to my Psyche Outer surgery, I had no memory of or emotion about the revelation that I had a family, that they were dead, and that I had likely attended their funeral.

I was only interested in the fact that the newspaper article mentioned that I had been in Bourgogne. I cannot recall any battle-related memories of that time. Why is that?>

<May 20, 1944

I was searching through my military records from the previous war I had acquired in Paris. In them, I discovered that the very last records were from the Morvan Mountains of the Bourgogne Region. That matches the newspaper clipping I discovered before. What does this mean?

This leads to 3 questions. 1: Is it possible I saw the Attesor Project myself while in Bourgogne? 2: Why was that memory not deemed combat-related? 3: The war ended after that, so why did I volunteer for the Panzer Ritter Project?>

What…what did I see in Bourgogne!? And when I returned, why did I decide I wanted to be the strongest!?

<For some reason, the scream continues to ring in my ears.>

I do not know.

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x1. Power output is dropping.”

<My Panzer is enveloped by a great roar.

After falling to human speed, Rot Löwe is blown away by the shockwaves and rolls across the ocean surface.

It all happened in an instant.>

Report from Operation Overlord Allied HQ: Summary of Landing Results[edit]

The landing operation begun today at 05:30 is still underway now at 18:30, but the valiant efforts of all our troops have successfully broken through in Region D and Region B. 80% of the enemy pillboxes have been successfully neutralized. A mop up operation will begin early tomorrow morning and we will begin to liberate the surrounding regions.

Spread the following message to all of our troops:

  • Operation Overlord was a success.

We lost one cruiser and an unknown number of tanks and special vehicles. We estimate we lost at least 4000 of our troops. I wish to express my greatest condolences as I honor their noble sacrifices.


Chapter 14: Mirror[edit]

City v05b 027.jpg

06/07/1944 – 06/22/1944


Are there any clothes

Like the ones

Lady Beretta is wearing?

June 7, 1944[edit]

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

Yesterday, Rot Löwe was damaged by an impact. I confirmed it was still functional and escaped the ocean without canceling the Schreiben. After destroying three Mittel Panzers that had reached land, the cooling system malfunctioned and I had to withdraw.

Yesterday at 16:32, I joined my platoon at Hill Region B-53. There I learned of HQ’s orders for the entire army to withdraw from Normandy.

Today at 13:30, I completed the simple repairs of Rot Löwe and I have resumed movement.

At 20:00, I joined three withdrawing infantry platoons at a point three miles south of Falaise. We took a break there. They were from the 40th Infantry Division. They did not know what became of the 352nd Infantry Division.

At 21:45, I resumed checking my memories at camp. I recalled what I could of when the Attesor Project existed. I still do not know what I saw at Bourgogne back then or why I joined the Panzer Ritter Project, but I can now recall fragmentary images of that time using the memories released during yesterday’s battle.

I can see a mountainous region full of cedar trees and I can remember a mountain pass with rock walls on either side.

The words Bourgogne and Morvan Mountains come to mind along with those things.

That is the name of the area written of in that Ober Geheimnis Compilation. Since I can remember the scenery to go along with those names, I must have visited there.

I am currently working toward being the strongest and I can guess that it was something that occurred in Bourgogne that led me to do that. I can guess I gained something there, I went to my family’s funeral in Berlin, and I joined the Panzer Ritter Project to become the strongest.

My memories are returning and I can tell I am searching out the Attesor Project to confirm I am the strongest, but none of this inspires any emotion within me. I will now go to sleep.

June 21, 1944[edit]

Rosetta’s Journal[edit]

A lot happened today unexpectedly. I was playing with the Fantasmé Renard children in the yard during the morning when Lady Beretta arrived. She started by opening a bag in front of me. She pulled out a document with lots of As and Bs on it.

“No problem with my grades. That means we can go on a trip tomorrow so let’s go. I’m taking you with me.”

This was news to me. She had apparently made a secret pact – an agreement – with the master. Yes. This was a surprise but I will be joining her on a trip to Bourgogne in southern France to visit the home of someone she knows.

<“A lot has happened. Rosetta. There is a lot I need to tell you on the way. And I will teach you even more once we’re there. So for today…”

“For today? Do you have some other dangerous news for me?”

“No I don’t. Um. For today let’s go buy you some clothes.”>

I apparently needed clothes to go on a trip. This was my first time going out to buy clothes. I could order underwear and such to be delivered. Same for the usual clothes and apron I wore. I used the same tailor the mansion had always used.

But I went into town to buy clothes today. I picked them out myself and I bought them myself.

We used Lady Beretta’s bicyclette to ride into town. I removed my apron and we rode it together. We rode down a street with the Arc de Triomphe visible in the distance and we arrived at Saint-Lazare Station. The station was being run by the Germans so we stopped the bicyclette in front of the station and Lady Beretta refueled herself.

Then we began shopping. I entered a shop known as a boutique for the first time ever. It was a surprise. It was nothing like my bedroom closet. There were clothes in all sorts of styles and colors.

The shop was about half the size of the mansion and it was almost entirely filled with clothing.

The elderly woman in the store – her name was Mannequin – apparently knew Lady Beretta and she came out with a long and narrow white wooden box.

The box contained the red dress Lady Beretta had borrowed from Sir Phillip. She said it had been somewhat damaged so she said had left it here for mending and washing.

We discussed a lot of things while choosing my clothes. I ended up choosing clothes the same design and color as the ones I already had.

Unlike me Lady Beretta chose her clothes on her own. She chose clothes in different designs and colors than the ones she already had.

I had never before seen myself wearing anything but my normal clothes and pajamas. But worrying over what to choose was pointless. I tried on a lot of different things. I looked into the mirror in the boutique’s changing room and I saw a version of me I had never seen.

I did not understand.

Why did clothes change the person wearing them?

I tried on a standalone skirt unlike my usual apron skirt. The chest area felt lacking. The whiteness of my blouse looked terribly conspicuous in the reflection.

I tried on a tight skirt that showed off the lines of my hips. It was harder to move my legs and I was much more aware of my body. It was strange how my reflection looked somehow taller than normal.

I tried on a blouse without puffy shoulders. It felt lacking and chilly but it was easier to move around in. I thought it looked like men’s clothing.

I tried on a lot of other things too. I became many other versions of myself. The old woman tied my hair back or chose an appropriate coat depending on the clothing I chose. That helped time pass in the blink of an eye.

While I continued choosing clothing I made a request I thought was asking too much.

“Are there any clothes like the ones Lady Beretta is wearing?”

Lady Beretta looked a little surprised. But the old woman took a look at Lady Beretta’s outfit and quickly prepared something for me. She even chose a similar hat.

I took those behind the dressing room curtain and put them on. Then I looked in the mirror. I do not know how to describe the emotion I felt then. I lack the vocabulary.

That could not be Lady Beretta in the mirror. It was only a Belle de Marionnette wearing similar clothing. Clothing could turn you into a different version of yourself. But it could not turn you into a different person.

But. Why did I think being different was a good thing? And why did I still want the same hat as Lady Beretta?

I removed that outfit without opening the dressing room’s curtain. I could tell I would never wear them again so I neatly folded them up on the hangars and handed them back. I was led to a small room next to the dressing room.

It was a white-walled room with a single gray partition. There was a pure white robe in the center of the room. A mannequin was wearing it. The old woman and Lady Beretta smiled.

“Fancy clothing has been banned during the occupation of Paris. But the couturiers have still been giving shape to their thoughts. This dress is of course contraband. No one can buy it.”

They had me wear it. Putting on a dress was difficult.

While doing so I realized that my legs were becoming human due to the Coppelia Effect.

The cushioning at the base of my thighs remained as something like a dark birthmark.

“I can introduce you to a good healer to get that healed up once the war is over. It would be a shame to leave it.”

I smiled when the old woman said that. The similar marks on my shoulders had already disappeared. The ones on my thighs would likely be gone in less than a month. So I simply told her not to worry about it.

I think it took around 20 minutes to get the dress on. Then it was Lady Beretta’s turn to wear a dress. Putting it on her was harder than with me. The corset was too tight for some reason.

Yes. Her stomach…no. I will not Signe that.

After more time passed we were dressed in contrasting red and white dresses.

The old woman had a camera so she took a photograph of Lady Beretta and me. The photograph would apparently be delivered to the mansion. I expect it will arrive after our trip. Surely.

After that I removed the dress and chose the clothing I wanted.

We loaded the boxes on the front of the bicyclette. We stopped by another shop to buy me a travel bag – one I could wear on my back. Once our preparations were complete we pushed the bicyclette back to the mansion.

A lot happened on the way back as well. But I doubt I have time to write about that.

I need to prepare for tomorrow. And I need to make sure I do not stay up too late.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. This excitement is not a part of my job.

Beretta’s Journal: Today’s Entry #1[edit]

I’m writing this in my room today.

This was a fairly forceful day. After all, I surprised Rosetta with an invitation to visit Bourgogne with me. I’m like a step away from kidnapping her here.

But the old man gave the okay when he saw my grades and Rosetta seemed happy buying clothes for her first trip. She might be too excited to sleep right now.

But when we visited that café during the day, I realized just how much the city’s atmosphere had changed during the exam period. Before, the city had been colored by the red of brick, the white of quartz, and the dark blue of the asphalt, but now the most prominent colors were the dark green and black of the German uniforms.

The café’s menu had less tea and more beer. The city was being locked down as the Germans prepared for battle. The library was closed and you had to be patted down before entering the city hall. It was all pretty awful. That environment had affected my diet and given me a bit of a belly, so I had to buy some new clothes. I still can’t believe it.

A lot of other things happened today too. It was all normal enough as I saw Rosetta back home and discussed the trip with the old man, but I screwed up when I decided to help her with the cleaning she started all of a sudden.

I lost the too-big ring that Phillip had bought me.

I realized that during the evening while taking a break in the second-story study. It was just as she told me about the mansion’s torture room. I was pretty sure I had lost it while wiping things down with a cloth. It was a pretty big shock.

What was I supposed to tell Phillip next time I saw him? I wanted to ask Mallette for some advice, but she said she was heading back to visit her parents. If history continued as normal, she would be Formatted without anything happening to her. And Phillip would die before that.

I hadn’t met him since the school festival.

Not that it mattered. Once the Format happened, I and the things I had arrived with would be booted out into the world of 1999. Only the knowledge and memories I had gained would remain. Holding onto the ring would accomplish nothing.

Unless I liberated this world, that is.

If the Format could be done away with, this world would reconnect to 1944. I wouldn’t be able to return to 1999, but I would keep everything I had here.

But I couldn’t do that. I had a family and returning this to the proper 1944 would rewrite the entire 55-year period between this world and the present time.

It was that fear that kept the world from trying to liberate France. We had instead created the transfer student system to back up France. Because the world had advanced 55 years beyond France.

Besides, there were three conditions necessary to liberate France and accomplishing them would not be easy.

1: Stop the detonation of the Wort Bombe.

2: Spread a spirit of liberation through the majority of France’s people.

3: Prove that fully closing oneself off is not possible.

The most difficult of those was the third one:

  • Prove that fully closing oneself off is not possible.

I was told the way to do that would be to create a paradox by sending in something that had already been Formatted to show that it had not in fact been Formatted.

But no one had found a way to break through the city’s immune system. According to the scientists:

“We just have to send in something that has not been Formatted and convert it into something that was Formatted.”

But that was just an unproven theory.

And writing about this is pointless. What matters is tomorrow.

Tomorrow night, we would arrive in the Bourgogne village of Herlde and meet Rose Francisca, but how would that go? I was not her daughter, Beretta McWild. That Beretta was in San Francisco back in ’99. Besides, my hair color was different. Could I really fool her?

It would probably be best to give her the letter, warn her about the dragon attack on August 3, and get out of there. Herlde was supposed to have an inn, so we could get a room there to investigate the Attesor Project.

And Rosetta was sure to ask me all sorts of things about the outside world and myself during the trip. She had trusted me this whole time while I kept the most important things from her. I didn’t care if she ended up laughing, I wanted to tell her everything: the things I doubt she’ll believe and how much she’s saved me.

Wow, this doesn’t sound like me at all. I must be really worried like I was in March.

I’m headed to a new place where I’ll prepare for the end here. I might find something and I hope I do. Because what I find will probably help me figure out what I’ve been thinking about ever since the Heavy Barrel battle at the school festival.

Can I protect people?

Knight Strikers are supposed to protect people and I Write Bring into Heavy Barrels because I want to protect the people I care for. But that requires strength. My strength is a little above a normal person’s, but I still can’t defeat anyone with a lot of strength and I end up having someone else protect me.

Then what does it mean to be strong? Jack McWild had started the Attesor Project in his pursuit of that question. Would I find some of the answer if I went to Morvan and viewed the same scenery they had?

I never expected to be thinking about all this while in France.

I’m worried. There’s too much I can’t tell anyone about. Not just the things I was worried about, but the very fact that I had come from the outside world. And that everyone would be Formatted.

On August 1, the Paris Resistance would start a fight for liberation and Phillip would die. Will I make it back to Paris before then? Paris is sure to be even more locked down by then, so I might not even be able to get in.

I have some regrets. Why didn’t I tell everyone about so many different things? Yes, I’m saying goodbye to a lot of people right now. In just a month and a half, the situation will change and everyone will leave Paris. I said goodbye to Mallette at the bistro last night and I guess I said goodbye to Phillip on that night of the school festival. I still have that dress he lent me. I thought he would come to get it, but he hasn’t. He’s probably busy.

When was the last time we were all together? At the festival? No, Rosetta wasn’t there. Then it had to be that party on March 26. That was the night when I beat him up and argued with him.

Why can’t I do anything right? With myself or with others? There’s so much more I wish I’d told them, asked them about, thanked them for, and apologized for. I wish I could have spent more time with them, but it just didn’t work out. My pride and vanity get in the way and I end up alone.

Maybe France is the same. In its insistence that it’s all alone, it has shut out the rest of the world for 55 years.

<I look down and see a piece of paper fallen on the floor.

It is a letter left by Mallette.>

Letter Left by Mallette: To Beretta, My Beloved Neighbor[edit]

You’re taking your time getting back today, but I’m going to miss my train back home if I don’t leave soon. Sorry I’m leaving without saying goodbye, but I have a vacation waiting.

A lot happened this year, but I look forward to seeing you again next year. I just hope the war is over by then. If anything happens, come on over to my parent’s house to visit. It’s on the outskirts of Paris, so about an hour by train. Here, I’ll sketch you a map.

Bye.

P.S. Since you refuse to do anything about it, I took matters into my own hands. Mr. Phillip should be on his way to visit you. I hope you’re thankful.

Beretta’s Journal: Today’s Entry #2[edit]

I feel like tearing up and throwing away that last entry, so here’s a second entry for today. Things are still underway and I should really write about them for more reasons than one.

There is a good chance that my life is about to veer off track thanks to that mischievous woman. I’m definitely paying her a visit to complain on the way back from Bourgogne. Nothing can stop me.

But this is bad. I need to stay calm. And I’m supposed to be leaving on a train tomorrow morning.

Phillip is here.

I had packed up almost all of my clothes and other things and I had just taken a shower before bed, but then that idiot showed up. And who knows what Mallette had told him.

<“Sorry about the wait.”>

Yeah, when I was freshly showered and dressed like this, it probably did look like I’d been waiting. That woman had definitely set up one hell of a situation here. This was like something out of a porn novel.

And that idiot went full idiot and went to take a shower without even asking. Why won’t he listen?

<I can hear humming from the shower room down the hall. Awful whistling.>

What is he, an old man? Anyway, I could explain the situation once he returned.

This was not at all what I wanted. Couldn’t I at least have some more time to prepare myself mentally and physically beforehand? And I was just indulging in some sentimental musings all alone in the Paris night.

Hmm. But I think I will Sign one thing: I’m a little happy about this turn of events.

<I heard footsteps coming down the hall.>

Oh, he just left the shower room.

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

Today at 07:00, while I was searching for enemies 10 miles north of Vendôme, I met up with a messenger.

At 08:23, I received special orders from general HQ. My platoon is being reassigned as the 1st Special Grösse Panzer Platoon in charge of guarding the Paris region and I was commanded to begin serious investigation of the Attesor Project. The reassignment will go into effect on July 1.

At 09:10, I met with my men. I informed them we would be going to Paris for the reassignment and that we would be visiting Morvan in Bourgogne beforehand to investigate the Attesor Project. We worked out our marching schedule.

At 22:00, we all got some rest and I searched my newly released memories. During the Attesor Project era, I had indeed fought in various locations as a Panzer Kavalier. And after an injury in one battle, I had returned to Germany until the end of the war.

I still do not know what happened in that battle, but I have some fragmentary textual data in the back of my mind: Bourgogne, the Morvan Mountains. I can guess that battle was part of the reason I have become what I am now.

At 23:01, I reread the materials related to the Attesor Project and my military records from the previous war that HQ had given me. I used the records and my memories to follow my course through the previous war. I am certain I will understand everything if I go to Bourgogne.

But I am bothered by my memories of the photograph and bookmark I have stored in my luggage. What connection do that woman, girl, and flower have to my past? I do not know.

I will now go to sleep.

June 22, 1944[edit]

Letter Left by Mallette: To Beretta, My Beloved Neighbor[edit]

Sounds like you had quite the time last night. My night was full of surprises too. I thought I was headed home, but when I checked my ticket, it was for the train leaving at 6 AM on the 22nd, not 9 PM on the 21st, so I ended up going back to my room. Quite the misunderstanding, huh?

And thanks to that, I got to enjoy what I could hear through these thin walls last night. There were a lot of tear-jerking lines that really resonated with my world-weary heart. Nothing quite like a pair of young lovebirds.

But I will not Signe any of that, so don’t worry. You need to carry the important things in your own heart. I’m glad things are going well. I really do have to get to the station now and I would hate to wake you two, so this letter will have to do. Make sure you cook breakfast for your future husband.

I’m praying for your happiness.

The Prophetess’s Letter: To Monsieur Guilliaum, the Former Royal Guard Chevalier[edit]

Hello again. This year is approaching its end. I imagine this will be the last letter I send you, Monsieur Guilliaum.

So I will use this chance to tell you everything you must know.

The girl in France with the same name as my daughter is not technically my daughter. She is my great-granddaughter – that is, a descendant of mine from the outside world.

I met an adventurer 25 Rondeaus ago who gave me detailed information on Paris before the Primitif and on the outside world afterwards.

That adventurer’s name was M. Schrier. He had also visited Herlde in ’39 to research the Attesor Project.

In ’39, he was only 27, but when I met him again, he was an old gentleman in his 50s. I used my abilities as a Correcteur to view his memories and confirm it was really him before listening to what he had to say. He had met my daughter in the outside world and received a lot of information from her. I also heard he had met Jack before the previous war. Oh, yes. And my daughter was apparently friends with you at the time of the First Primitif. However, all information on you was apparently erased from the modern records because it was thought best to hide that you were a Resistance leader.

He also told me that my daughter was putting together a method of liberating France.

A number of conditions were necessary, but one was considered the most difficult:

  • Prove that fully closing oneself off is not possible.

When I asked how you could prove it was not possible, M. Schrier told me this:

“The First Erased were removed from France by the Primitif, but what if an identical person appeared in France and history repeated itself as it had the first time around?”

France’s repeated history has been fixed in place by its immune system, but that would allow you to intervene in the pre-Primitif events.

Then something would exist here that France had supposedly eliminated. Hence, shutting oneself off was not possible.

Do you understand what this means?

My daughter has sent someone to France who will act as her double.

She was supposedly eliminated, but this double is meant to fool France.

If France is trying to fully close itself off, then we must declare that it cannot do that. And that declaration must be made with a voice loud enough to reach every part of France.

But doing this is guaranteed to sacrifice my daughter’s life.

The First Erased do not exist in our version of France. They left France between August of ’43 and August of ’44, so they escaped the Primitif.

If France is resurrected to the outside world’s ’44, no one will notice anything is amiss. But the First Erased will likely notice that all evidence of their time in France is missing. After all, France has been repeating this year without them as a part of it.

But there is one exception: Beretta.

If France is liberated, there will be a Beretta in France that France accepts to be the original Beretta, but my actual daughter will be outside of France.

I have heard of someone stuck in the past waiting long enough to meet their younger self, but there is only one option when the exact same person exists twice in the same timeline.

When they both appear, the one with less ability to prove their existence will disappear.

Two identical words are not needed.

I do not know why my daughter is trying to sacrifice herself, but that is what she wants and I wish to assist her.

My daughter once discovered where I was but lacked the courage to come meet me. But this other Beretta will come.

We need to play the part to help her take on the role of my real daughter. Do you see now why I have been sending you letters under a pseudonym and suggesting that you tell them nothing? I knew they would come to visit me, so I could not have Rosetta seeing my name on the envelopes. I must be no more than a mother who knows nothing and cannot prophesy.

My daughter once abandoned so much and fled.

Is that why she is working to liberate France even though it means erasing herself?

I will continue to wonder about that as I wait for the other Beretta, greet her, and tell her nothing. She must liberate France of her own free will. That is the only she can be the “real” Beretta.

Monsieur Guilliaum, do you wish to be the real version of yourself?

If so, continue ever forward no matter what sacrifices it requires. I believe you will soon be planning an uprising of the Paris Resistance.

No matter how that ends, always be calling for the liberation of Paris.

History will attempt to correct itself before long. All of this is following the same course that led to the first Primitif, but that changes when she visits me. I want to bet everything on that.

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s Entry #1[edit]

I am writing this on the train to Bourgogne. There were a lot of Allemande in the station and the train departed about 10 minutes behind schedule. It is currently just before 12. We were supposed to arrive at the station in Dijon at 12 but we seem to be running late.

We will switch trains at Dijon and head to the Morvan Mountains of central Bourgogne. Lady Beretta says the train track zigzags to climb the mountains.

City v05b 049.jpg

My ticket says we will arrive in the Morvan Mountains’ Autun Station at 6 PM. From there it is a two hour journey on foot to reach the village of Herlde where Lady Beretta’s mother lives.

Now about Lady Beretta. She is acting weird today. She has been staring out the window a lot and she sometimes starts laughing or writing something on her notepad before tearing it out and throwing it away. She also crosses her arms in thought a lot. She even tripped twice before boarding the train today.

She is acting very strangely. Is she not feeling well?

But that strange behavior somehow seems a lot like her and it is kind of enjoyable. I never know how she will react when I talk to her so I am trying not to bother her too much.

She had seemed more worried than usual yesterday. That had completely changed today but that has me a little worried in a different way.

When she is acting more normal she talks about this trip more as an expedition than a trip. That is why I pulled my coat out of my bag earlier. I also retied the bag’s strap so I could carry it over my back.

We crossed the Seine while I was writing the text three lines up. This is upstream of where the Seine flows through Paris. The map shows the train keeping the Seine to its left for a while after this. The view out the window is no longer the view of the city from the yard back home. I only see the wide-open sky and grassy fields. I can see emerald mountains and low-hanging clouds in the distance.

There are none of the boxy appartements or the smoke of people cooking.

That strange view flows backwards alongside the train. Why does it look so familiar when I have never seen it before? I have no memory of it yet I feel like some part of me has not forgotten it.

I want to remember but I have not forgotten. Why is that? My memories were supplied for my basic functions. Was this image stored there along with things like how to cook?

I do not know.

Part of me wonders if it was too soon for me to leave Paris. There is still so much I do not know about Paris yet here I am in an even more unfamiliar place.

The train is climbing higher and the fields grow lower out the window. The Seine has come into view once more. I want to open the window.

I opened it. The wind is carrying in the scent of the river and the grass. I can also detect the calcium-like scent of Phlogiston. Lady Beretta is staring outside while the wind blows across her bangs – and she just laughed weirdly again. Is she okay?

I think it is about time for lunch.

Beretta’s Journal: Today’s Entry #1[edit]

I’m writing this on the train to Bourgogne. Rosetta is with me.

I felt a little too overjoyed in the morning, so I have to work to stay calm. I’m taking this trip to deal with a number of issues, not to remember what happened and laugh.

Last night, I did a lot of important things and a lot of things I shouldn’t have done.

I may have altered history in the most incredible way.

This is a change to history that only a woman can make. And it’s a change that won’t go away.

It’s undoubtedly scandalous and it’ll definitely cause some problems later. Back in ’88, a female transfer student came back bearing the child of a diligent Nazi officer, but Nazi hunters later shot her and the kid to death.

I don’t know if I’m pregnant yet, but I committed a forbidden act regardless.

Especially because the Missel family died out with Phillip Missel’s death. What if I gave birth to a descendant of his now?

That would be a serious problem. Even though I’d been taught plenty of ways to refuse and make excuses. But…

<“I want to talk about a number of things.”>

When he said that with such a serious look on his face, there was nothing I could say. We sat on the bed together and he told me how he was in the Resistance and what his plans were. I had learned in the future what would become of everything he was talking about.

But the entire time I listened to him, I stared at the right arm he was resting his cheek on.

<His arm was wrapped in bandages to hide the last traces of his broken bone.>

He had gotten that injury protecting me during the Heavy Barrel battle at the school festival.

I’m so weak-willed. I shouldn’t have let that bother me and I should have ignored what would happen to him and just kicked him out of my room. I had plenty of reason to do that.

But there was only one reason why he had been there.

For the first time in a while, I realized how little independence I had. When I thought about it, I realized that my grandma had used my curiosity to push me into going to Paris. I needed to stand up for myself more.

And if I could stand up for myself, maybe I could have asked for what I wanted instead of just letting him take the lead last night.

“You can do whatever you want as long as you’re gentle.”

That’s not asking for what I want. I bet he thought I was cute as could be when that little shriek escaped my lips after he touched my butt.

Although he was pretty cute too.

<He opened the box on the floor, pulled out the dress, and laid it on the bed.

He laid me naked on top of it and spoke.

“My grandfather apparently did it like this with my grandmother.”

“Is getting a pretty dress dirty one of the privileges that comes with being Chevalier de Paris?”

“There’s nothing else to keep your sheets clean.”>

I couldn’t believe how dumb that was, but I let him do it because I knew he was just trying to be nice.

He never talked much and he isn’t the type to compliment people, but maybe that was what made this all so hard. I’m not sure. I hope my waist and whatnot looked okay. If only I had a perfect body like Rosetta.

But what was I thinking when he rolled me onto my stomach so he could see everything? And what was I thinking when he held me to lift up my hips and I held him back?

I’m not sure.

I may have only been thinking about making sure I didn’t scream.

<When it was over, I removed my hands from his back and saw blood on my nails. I must have dug in a little too hard.>

He may have been thinking the same thing. I bet we were both hurting each other without thinking we were doing anything wrong. But at the same time, we were begging each other to gradually close the distance that had developed between us.

I wish I had asked him why he protected me during the Heavy Barrel battle. That may have resolved some of my doubts. But it’s too late now and it wasn’t really the time for questions like that.

I feel no guilt about what I did. Is that a bad thing for someone who came here to help the world?

But when he held me close, when he placed the dirty dress back in the box, when we fell asleep together, and when I ineptly made him some breakfast, I knew what mattered most: that I would never forget this world and that it would always be important to me even after I said goodbye to them all. When I confessed I had lost the ring, he just rubbed my head without saying a word.

Maybe physical things like rings aren’t what matter.

And I realized something while writing all this.

I want to be a part of this era.

I didn’t sleep with Phillip out of pity because I know he’s going to die. I never would have let him go all the way if that was why. These things are important to me too. And there are some things you have to do because they’re important.

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s Entry #2[edit]

It is now 4 PM. We are riding the mountain train to Autun.

A lot happened. Before lunch Lady Beretta suddenly started crying while writing. I asked what the matter was but she only lowered her head to the side table and shook her head without responding. Lunchtime was delayed by an hour.

She had stopped crying by the time we ate a late lunch. She instead seemed lost in thought while staring out the window.

We arrived at Dijon at 2:10 PM. The train to Autun left half an hour late.

The Seine had vanished from view and the distant mountain range was growing closer.

Seeing the many trees reminded me of a dream I had once had.

The land formed a slope and the trees grew as thick as a wall. I could also see the extremely blue expanse of the sky overhead.

I could see the entirety of heaven and earth at once. The blue sky. The green earth below the trees. The blowing wind.

I suddenly recalled a certain song.

That which is filled with the blue sky.

That which is covered by the red dirt.

I name thee heaven and earth.

Where the wind howls bravely.

Where the sand dances gently.

I view thee as heaven and earth.

So that no one would grieve again.

That which is endless and cannot be grasped.

That which is vast and cannot be held.

I am with thee.

I recited the lyrics and Lady Beretta looked up in surprise.

Lourd de Écrivains of every country apparently sang that song in their own tongue. She told me they showed mutual respect by singing it together when they were no longer enemy and ally. It felt like a shame if only Lourd de Écrivains could sing it.

Lady Beretta apparently intends to stay at an inn at Herlde. We will be staying there for nearly a month but she says she can afford it. She must not want to stay in her mother’s house. I wonder why.

When I want to see someone I want to see them right away. I want to be right there with them.

Is that a difference between us? Or does it mean I still have a long way to go before I am human? I do not know.

I will close my journal without finding an answer. The sun is setting. The color of the heaven and earth is changing.

I should be able to see the sunset in another half hour. I want to see it.

<The conductor is walking through the car. He says we will arrive in Autun at 6:30 PM.>

I can continue watching the forest and mountains from this train for two and a half more hours.

Letter from Sword Lady #11: To Beretta who Inherited my Name[edit]

Are you reading this, Beretta who inherited my name?

The dawn of August 1, 1998, will soon arrive for me.

That is precisely 54 years after the Resistance uprising in Paris. If you are reading this 11th letter, it must be June there. I am writing all of these letters in a single night, but you will read them over the course of a year. After I write two more, I will wake you up and have you prepare for your journey to Paris.

But June, huh? So is the Normandy Landing over?

I imagine you will have found my mother’s home by then and you will probably have done one thing you shouldn’t have. And you know what that one thing is, don’t you? Women keep a lot of secrets and most of those are things they should not have done.

Now, will you listen to an old lady’s old story about something she shouldn’t have done? You might not believe it, but I was quite popular when I was in Paris. I turned a lot of heads at school. (Trust me.)

There was someone I cared for then, but I was worried about my mission and the importance of the information I was acquiring at the time, so I was never able to be with them. There were a few misunderstandings, but I eventually fled to the US and that person was Formatted.

It’s all a nostalgic old memory now. They must still be living in Paris to this day, but they will be so much younger than my 54 years and they will not remember me.

You may not remember my husband who died of Words Warn. He was a kind soldier who looked after the spies like us when we returned to the US and he worked harder than anyone to liberate France after it closed itself up. Soon after France closed up, I told him I wanted to meet that person who was still inside France.

But that wish was never granted and, as our age diverged further and further from France’s, attempting liberate it was forbidden as it would destroy our world.

When it was discovered how to send things inside of France, I learned my presence had been erased as I was not caught in the Format. That meant I no longer had any real reason to enter France.

I feel so bad for grumbling about that just a month before my husband died of Words Warn.

I wanted to meet that man as he was in ’44, but that can never be. He no longer remembers me and I have grown old.

This story is not especially sad. Thousands or tens of thousands of similar stories can be found all around the world. And not just among the French. The soldiers deployed to Normandy for Operation Overlord and the soldiers who entered France from the south for Operation Dragoon did not return either.

Our present era exists by rejecting them all instead of protecting them.

It’s hard to accept sometimes. Am I really a Knight Striker, Beretta?

This has gotten gloomy, hasn’t it? But this paper and ink are valuable, so I’m not going to rewrite it all.

Have you met my mother? Like we discussed before, she and I had not seen each other for more than 14 years at the time. If you pretend to have forgotten what she looks like and play the delinquent daughter – with a focus on asking why she abandoned my father Jack McWild and me – you should manage.

Make sure to give her my letter.

Also, Beretta, are you going to Bourgogne like you always wanted? That land gave birth to a “strongest” that should be quite familiar to you. You like to pretend to act recklessly despite how cowardly you really are, so I suggest taking a look at that area and thinking about some things.

I hope you find the beginning of your journey in the French outdoors I never visited. I hope you find what it is you can do in France. At this point, you can start acting based on what you want to do. Once you finish the task I set for you, you only have your own wishes left to guide you.

So try to take it easy.

Sign in Front of Autun Station in the Bourgogne Region[edit]

Distance to Herlde: 8 Miles. Inn and clinic available.

Beretta’s Journal: Today’s Entry #2[edit]

This really got to me. I didn’t expect to be writing such a hopeless second entry after such an emotional first entry.

I am standing in front of the burnt-down remains of Herlde’s inn. The inn was built on an elevated area of ground with a nice view, so I am writing this by the beautiful moonlight. The dreary village of Herlde is visible down below. Based on the location of the lights, I can tell the houses were all built at least 200 yards apart.

The inn apparently burnt down after some gas from underground ignited last year. Only the inn’s foundation and columns remained, so it’s kind of creepy looking.

<Rosetta is trying to enter the burnt ruins out of apparent curiosity.>

I pulled her away.

Reading the “keep out” sign more carefully, I found out gas tended to build up belowground here and the village had started using that as a boiler. It was rare to use gas as a fuel instead of Phlogiston.

But this was no time to be admiring that. It was about 8 miles from Autun to here. It was 9 at night, but I wasn’t sure if we should head back or not. I hadn’t been taught about areas as remote as this back in ’98, so this really ruins my plans. I’m a little worried, but maybe we should just go to Rose Francisca’s house.

Should I head there and greet her as coldly as a daughter might after staying away for 14 years? Well, I have Rosetta with me, so it should work out. Rosetta is…

City v05b 061.jpg

<Rosetta is looking up at the moon.>

Come to think of it, Sein Fraus use spirit stones as components for their bodies. Until 1935 when it was discovered the moon was made of spirit stone, no one knew why spirit engines resonated so wildly with moonlight.

Spirit stones are made when ether (the substance that forms space) hardens without carrying a Live Message.

I’ve heard that so many monsters and gods have some connection to the moon because they were created from the combination of people’s imagination and ether. That is why they grow more powerful the more their form is feared or imagined and why they can manifest their own willpower as a physical force.

Humans can do the same, but our power is apparently extremely weak. But on the other hand, humans can use our own power on our own no matter the situation.

<Rosetta seems to find the moonlight strange. She is twisting around in the light breeze to see how the light hits her. She is also viewing her own shadow and checking the color of her hair.>

Does Rosetta exist in the realm of imagination as well? Humans are energized by the moonlight too, but she seems to be experiencing a bit of a high. She does not seem remotely tired from the journey.

This trait will remain even after she becomes fully human. As she evolves, the spirit stones will be absorbed into her body and their power will not be erased. They are a crucial part of ensuring her evolution does not fall apart.

<Rosetta turns back with an energized expression and asks a question.

“How about we go stay at Lady Rose Francisca’s house?”>

So she thinks that’s best too, huh?

But, Rosetta, if you respond to the moon and thus exist in the realm of imagination, it might be a truly incredible thing that you can evolve into a realistic human. You get the best of both worlds that way.

<I hear a cry similar to a howling dog in the distance. It is a wolf.>

The mountains are cold and dangerous at night. We need to get moving soon.

Entrance Placard at Herlde’s Francisca Clinic: To Visitors[edit]

The clinic is currently closed due to an emergency patient.

Letter Left by Beretta: To Lady Rose Francisca[edit]

We arrived in Herlde on business and had nowhere to stay. The night is growing late, so I apologize, but I think we will be using your shed to shelter ourselves for the night.

Tomorrow, after we have finished our business, we will search for somewhere else to stay, so please forgive us.

Rose Francisca’s Journal[edit]

The two of them arrived just now, so I am writing this in the hidden room I fixed up in a hurry. The room contains my Correcteur supplies, my personal prophecy calendar I began making on August 6, 1943, this journal, and the Correcteur emblem necessary for the ceremony that will allow me to leave behind my memories when I die. I cannot let them see any of that if I am to play the ignorant mother.

I found they had arrived when I returned from one of my usual house calls. They are sleeping in the shed. Based on how filthy their shoes are, they must have walked the unfamiliar mountain road to reach the village.

I could immediately tell which one was Beretta. She looks a lot like I used to. My daughter has brown hair like him, but this Beretta has blonde hair like I used to. And she has a habit of holding onto things in her sleep like my daughter and I both have.

The other girl has evolved surprisingly far.

Dealing with them is not looking easy.

When I first speak with them, should I play it nonchalant or should I scold her as my delinquent daughter? Thinking about all this is reminding me of my college days. I learned medicine in Paris and acted in the school festival play. Come to think of it, I met him and Monsieur Guilliaum in the library there. I was a new intern and they were soldiers facing a coming war.

How many years ago was that? With 25 extra years of memories added on, I am actually 22 years older than Monsieur Guilliaum who was 3 years older than me at the time.

Will I perform that ceremony again this year? Will I use that Correcteur technique to die before the Primitif, stop the movement of my Formules, and pass my memories on to my next iteration? If I do that, it means I do not believe in those girls sleeping in my shed.

But I also feel like death is a form of atonement for me.

This is a serious transgression.

My daughter outside this world will be erased by that girl.

I am also worried about Monsieur Guilliaum.

I know what will happen when the Resistance has its uprising in Paris. I know it will happen on August 1 and that the Resistance will lose.

I did not tell him that because the Resistance’s defeat is necessary for the Beretta sleeping in my shed. She learns what it means to protect people during that doomed uprising, not here in Bourgogne. And through that, she will want to liberate France.

But I have not told Monsieur Guilliaum any of this.

Everything is following my prophecies. But there are people who will push back if I force those prophecies onto them. Monsieur Guilliaum is that sort of person.

I must guide things so my prophecies do not fall apart.

I know they face certain defeat, but I must not tell them so. I will pass on the prophecies that will aid the liberation of France, but I will not pass on the ones that will not. Even when I know staying silent will lead to a great many victims.

Does it make me a weak person to feel guilt over this?

The coming days are sure to be taxing. I need to think of that pain as atonement and remain cheerful.

Tonight, I will double check my prophecies and then go to sleep. Even if these prophecies are really just a collection of fragments gathered from the glimpses of the future I read from the Formules of time, the former history I learned from M. Schrier, and the memories I received from my previous iteration.

Prophecies: A Series of Fragments[edit]

July 10: An earthquake renders a portion of the mountain pass and mountain railroad impassable. It becomes impossible to leave Morvan.

July 28: The mountain railroad is repaired by the residents of Autun.

Beretta and Rosetta depart for Paris.

July 30: Heinz Berge appears in Nevers of Western Morvan and hurries back to Paris.

The Resistance’s Paris Branch responds by setting the date of their uprising for August 1.

July 31: After receiving word of the mountain pass’s collapse from Heinz Berge on the 30th, the German military works on repairing the mountain pass.

August 1: The Paris uprising fails. The Resistance scatters and hides inside Paris and on the outskirts.

Same Day: While participating in the uprising, Beretta witnesses Phillip Missel’s death.

Afterwards, she remains hidden in the Balleroy Mansion.

August 2: The mountain pass to Autun is repaired. Recovery around Herlde begins.

Same Day: The German military unit working on the recovery in the Nevers Region is attacked and obliterated by a black dragon.

August 3: After devouring the German troops stationed in the mountain pass, the black dragon destroys Herlde.

August 4: An advance Allied unit and the French Resistance meet near Paris.

August 5: The Paris Branch of the German military places a blockade around Paris and focuses on defending Paris.

Same Day: While Beretta remains in the Balleroy Mansion, Rosetta finds Phillip Missel’s ring for her. After some discussion between the two of them, they decide to fight once more and seek liberation.

“So we never let anyone’s death repeat again.”
Beretta becomes aware she is my daughter.

August 6: A combined Resistance force led by the Allies attacks the blockade early in the morning.

Same Day: Beretta leaves the Balleroy Mansion in a Lourd de Marionnette with Rosetta in the copilot seat.

They battle Heinz Berge on the way, but it is ended by a bullet from the handgun carried by Rosetta.
They continue to the airport and destroy the transport plane carrying the Wort Bombe.

Same Day: The survivors of the Resistance’s Paris Branch respond to what they have seen.

They all begin to fight with a spirit of liberation, their strong desire for liberation breaks France’s own Signe of wanting to close itself off, and France is liberated.


Chapter 15: Surprise[edit]

City v05b 069.jpg

07/05/1944 – 07/17/1944


The Barrel that had fought off

The black dragon

Remained here

July 5, 1944[edit]

Rosetta’s Letter: To Master[edit]

Two weeks have passed since we arrived in Bourgogne.

Master. Are you eating well on your own? Are you managing to hang the blanket out to dry and wash your underwear and clean the rooms and maintain the boiler? I am worried about much more but I want to believe in you.

We are doing well in Mother Rose’s house – a two story house with a small clinic in it. Mother Rose said we could stay here during our trip and Lady Beretta reluctantly agreed – because the inns in Autun are expensive – so the two of us are staying in the same room. It is evening now but it is a quiet time since there are no patients. I am writing this letter in our room – the one clinic room on the second floor – while I watch the sunset. The sky is pretty.

Now. I know you said I did not need to write you letters but there is a lot I want to tell you about. I have a lot saved up for what I am sure will be a long letter.

The most interesting thing here is Mother Rose.

She is almost as influential as the mayor here – that might not be quite the right way of putting it but I do not know what is – so everyone here calls her Mother Rose – or Mama Rose – instead of Doctor Rose. I have decided to do the same.

She is a small person. She is one inch shorter than me. She seems to be skinnier than us width-wise as well but the biggest difference is the thickness of her arms. Instead of skinny fingers like mine she has distinctive strong-looking fingers with noticeable joints. Her face is wrinkled and she always looks like she is smiling. She is a Correcteur but she primarily heals and treats people with medicine so she is a normal doctor. She is an incredible person.

Her hair is almost entirely gray but it is very long. She has it tied back and it reaches all the way down to her knees. I imagine it would be longer if she undid it.

She has a lot of traits I have never seen before. She is somehow similar to Lady Beretta but more in the way she talks and thinks than in her appearance. She is quick to make any kind of decision.

She always treats Lady Beretta like a child and teases her. Whenever Lady Beretta tries to do something Mother Rose lectures her either as the landlady lending her a room or as her mother. Lady Beretta does not seem to like that – although she actually listened to the lectures for the first few days – so she storms out without saying a word.

When I try to follow her Mother Rose calls out to me and has me help at the clinic. She is a Correcteur but she primarily uses bandages and medicine so I was glad to find I could copy her techniques. A large sword leans against the clinic wall and it is apparently her Instrument.

She does sometimes use that Instrument to treat a patient with Correcteur healing. She stabs the Instrument into their body to neutralize an emotional disturbance such as fear or impatience and draws that emotion out. Once the Formules have been driven out, they become mice or birds and run or fly around. They apparently return to the patient’s body once the patient has calmed down. I find it to be a very strange technique.

Lady Beretta gave Mother Rose a letter on the first day but she does not seem to have opened it yet. When I asked why not she answered me while telling me to keep the answer a secret from Lady Beretta.

“I know what I read there will make me cry so I will read it once you two have left.”

Does she not want us to see that?

For the past few days Lady Beretta has loaded a fishing pole and some buckets into a truck she has borrowed from the mayor. She goes upstream and catches a lot of fish. Mother Rose uses that to teach me a lot more about cooking.

<A truck just pulled up down below. Lady Beretta steps out with two buckets in one hand and she runs to the pond out back. A splashing sound comes from the buckets.>

She apparently gives some of those fish to the villagers.

That is how we live our lives here but those two do not exactly get along. They end up fighting whenever they see each other but they also seem to feel like they have no other choice. Do you ever feel that way? Yes. It is almost like they are intentionally upsetting the other so they will not get too close.

When the two of them are apart it is very quiet and I can think in peace. In between examinations at the clinic Mother Rose will sit at her desk and rest her head in her hand. After taking her bath Lady Beretta will spread various documents out on the side table and rest her head in her hand too. They both look outside while doing so. The mannerism and atmosphere is so very similar. Was my father a lot like me? Please tell me someday.

<The sound of a plate breaking comes from downstairs.>

What could that be? It is not yet time to prepare for dinner. This might be bad. No. Wait. I should not Signe anything dangerous down there. I will be going.

Beretta’s Journal[edit]

I am writing this in our second-story room before dinner. I’ve been exhausted all day. And I made Rosetta cry earlier, so it’s been a real disaster. But I was most worried about how to go about things with Rose Francisca, so I’m glad I’ve successfully learned to play the part of the delinquent daughter who gets in fights with her violent mother.

I thought I would ask her about the Attesor Project, but she only talked about the legend of the Bourgogne Giant and laughed at me for being so superstitious.

She seems to believe that Jack McWild came here to do some mining. She also won’t tell me anything about him. That’s why I gave up on getting anything out of that tightlipped woman. Starting last week, I’ve been chopping firewood around the village and asking for information or permission to borrow things as payment, but man, my whole body has gotten a real workout-…no, I mean there is a lot to learn from this village.

To search for the Attesor Project lab like usual, I took a truck out into the mountains this morning and checked a number of things on the map. The map Phillip gave me is pretty useless so deep in the mountains. It shows the roads and rivers, but it doesn’t tell you anything about the height differences.

So recently I’ve been looking into the things people have told me about the mountain climbing trails around here or the shrine on the closest mountain peak. If you ascend the mountain using the road going through the center of the village, it splits into a road descending toward the river below and one climbing up the mountain. Going up takes you to the peak with the shrine. Going down connects to the mountain pass that leads up from Autun.

That mountain pass is a crucial route connecting Autun in the east with Nevers in the west. The right side of the pass is a rock wall standing about 20 yards tall and the left side is a majestic view of a tall conifer forest.

Climbing the pass while looking at the rock wall on the right and entering one of the branching paths into the forest on the left has been part of my daily schedule lately. Today, I finally managed to drive 20 miles away from Herlde. If I go any further than that, I won’t be able to make it back in the same day.

The mountain with the shrine near Herlde has a table of rock sticking out partway up the slope. It’s shaped something like a cake cut in half. Going by eye, I estimate the table is about 50 yards tall. According to the villagers, the only way to reach that table is to climb down from the shrine at the peak.

The table is hidden from the mountain pass by the conifer forest on the left, so you can’t see it from there. A natural wall hides that natural wonder made from the flowing river and the rock.

On the way back, I brought some fish to the bald, bearded, and buff mayor to thank him for letting me borrow the truck, but I saw something interesting there. He took me to an underground storeroom he has up on the mountain.

Bourgogne always had a lot of ruins and I’m pretty sure they had even found some holes connecting to the Tomb of the Mother of a Thousand Pharaohs. That storeroom had been created from one such hole and it mostly contained a bunch of barrels and wooden boxes roughly lined up, but there was a Heavy Barrel in the back. It was a female model and I knew its exact model number.

HLT-001X XX-HL. In other words, it was the heavy land combat version of the prototype female Heavy Barrel called Sourire.

Grazie had been based off of it and only five had been built before World War One. It had a beautiful cream-colored body. It apparently had such high power output that none of the pathetic female Knight Strikers at the time could handle it.

According to the mayor, a black dragon descended almost all the way to the village during World War One around a quarter of a century before. Its territory had apparently been disturbed by the war.

That Heavy Barrel had apparently appeared out of nowhere and drove it back.

The Barrel that had fought off the black dragon remained here in the land that had developed the strongest Barrel. A man and a girl had been Write Bringing into the Barrel. The mayor had seen them get out because he alone had remained in the village. They had used the Over Emblem so much they used up all of their Phlogiston, so they left it behind.

“Until we return, only show this Heavy Barrel to people you can trust.”

That was all they said before walking toward the mountain and never returning. This apparently all happened close to the end of the war.

“Have you not shown this to my mother? Don’t you trust her?”

“I feel like I would only be bothering her.”

Rose Francisca must have been popular for a very long time. But we’re talking about my ancestor here, so no surprise, right? The mayor said he had only ever shown Sourire to his parents, his son, and to Jack McWild.

Jack McWild stayed in this village for about three months just as the war ended and then he left for Paris, bringing Rose Francisca with him. The mayor showed him Sourire the night before he left.

“I will eventually find the girl who was Write Bringing into this Barrel. No matter how long it takes, I will find her in her proper form.”

That was all he had said on the matter.

But the mayor told me he wants me to take the Barrel to the foot of the mountain.

He says France needs any weapon it can get these days. There are apparently several villages at the foot of the Morvan Mountains where the Resistance gathers. He wants me to take Sourire there. Jack McWild did not keep his promise from 25 years before, but his daughter had shown up. The mayor felt that was some kind of sign.

It makes me sort of sad. Both that the mayor is thinking of abandoning that old promise and that the Heavy Barrel that had protected people from the black dragon would be used to fight and kill people. That isn’t right, is it?

I told him to let me think about it and then I asked him about Jack McWild (who he thinks is my father). But before he answered, he asked me this:

“Are you pursuing the legend of the Morvan Giant too?”

A few years ago, an adventurer had shown up and asked a lot of question, but the mayor had not trusted him and had not told him anything. But instead of complaining, that adventurer had listened to the obvious falsehoods the ignorant villagers had told him and left satisfied.

That adventurer must have been M. Schrier. If he had seen that Barrel that fought off the black dragon, he would surely have linked it to the strongest Barrel of the Attesor Project.

But I doubt he would have written that in his Death Techno Compilation. Jack McWild had told him how dangerous the Attesor Project was, so he had needed to write about it as no more than some amusing rumor. He may really have wanted to investigate the project, but he had prioritized his promise with Jack McWild.

Maybe this was destiny. Those two promises had allowed this all to remain a secret for so long. The mayor had promised to keep Sourire a secret and M. Schrier had sealed off his data and stopped searching for more to keep his promise with Jack McWild.

Then he had left that with me – well, a fictional representation of him had – and I had arrived here due to being Rose Francisca’s family.

But if that Sourire was used in the Attesor Project, then surely some other identical models would have come to Bourgogne as well, right? R&D would never be done with just the one Barrel. You would have at least one more for spare parts and parallel studies.

Where had that gone?

After discussing all that with the mayor, I returned home. That’s when I got in an argument with Rose Francisca.

That was only a problem because it escalated to the point of throwing things and then Rosetta came in. A plate one of us had thrown – probably me, if I’m being honest – hit her right smack in the forehead and broke. She just looked surprised at first, but then the tears welled up and she started bawling.

You better believe I panicked.

But I was also pleasantly surprised to find she could cry over things like that.

<It is just before 7:10 PM.>

I checked over my map and everything before dinner. I also need to read through the Attesor Project lab location investigation documents that France sent me in M. Schrier’s name and then I need to guess at the lab’s location for myself.

But since France sent me all this, M. Schrier must really have figured all this out when he visited here in ’39.

Document: Attesor Project Research Document 12-07[edit]

This document is a detailed map of the Bourgogne region where the Attesor Project’s lab was supposedly located, some predictions of what might remain of that lab (no surviving documents confirm that it exists at all), and a method of predicting its location if it does exist.

If you do visit the region, check on the following data and search for the remains of the Attesor Project.

Although it would likely be better to search out a local resident who worked on the project.


Based on extant documents, we can guess that the Attesor Project was meant to develop a new Heavy Barrel.

This project was not developing the joints and weapons like the current projects do. It is said to have modified everything down to the fundamental Write Bring system. (See included Document 11-14.) This research would require an environment allowing for precision work on the delicate devices as opposed to developing the general structure.

The exact location of the lab is unknown, but there are records of French soldiers visiting the village of Herlde located north of Autun during the 1910s. Based on the maps, Herlde is a collection of homes along a branching mountain road. We can guess that the lab may have been built at the end of one of those branches.

Now, military supply transport records tell us that materials for the lab were not transported through Herlde, but the French military did have aerial warships during the ’10s. They had a total of 7 Ravenne-class aerial warships meant to resist the German military’s Zeppeli-class aerial warships. They were all sunk by the war’s end, but there are records of the 3rd ship taking a trip to Morvan for an “aerial combat exercise”.

That 3rd ship was sunk on the way back due to the moonlight’s effects and some surprise anti-aircraft fire, but it apparently had no cargo and was barely equipped with any weaponry at all. It was likely transporting something to the Morvan Mountains that took up the space normally used for ammunition and equipment.

It is also likely that the 3rd ship’s actions gave the German military some kind of hint concerning the Attesor Project.

Also, the rapid construction of a building requires the power of Busters, but based on some neutral information from the Maldrick family (the current leading European Buster family), there are records left behind by the Borderson family (the leading European Buster family at the time) sending a few Busters to perform some localized crust destruction in the Morvan Mountains (the exact location cannot be determined), so the Attesor Project lab must be somewhere in those mountains.

Rosetta’s Journal[edit]

It is almost 8 PM.

Today was a busy day. I wrote a letter to my master. It was a fulfilling day. I am taking a break after finishing washing the dishes. Lady Beretta is preparing the bath outside. She seems to be chopping some new firewood. I can hear it. She has apparently become an expert at chopping firewood lately and the villagers will come by asking for her help. She started off pinching her belly flesh every night but for the past few days she has been checking the width of her arms and sighing instead.

“My abs are pretty impressive now. Wanna see them?”

City v05b 083.jpg

I was not sure why I would want to do that and it seemed meaningless so I declined.

Before dinner today Lady Beretta and Mother Rose were arguing again.

I heard some destruction from downstairs while writing a letter to my master so I went down to the combined kitchen and living room to stop them.

As soon as I opened the door a small ceramic plate flew through the air and broke on my forehead. I think it was while the pieces were falling to my feet that I saw the surprised looks on their faces. I started crying.

It hurt but that is not why I cried. Nor was I crying because it saddened me to see them fight. If only that was the reason.

I cried simply because the plate surprised me.

It makes me blush when I think back to it. That is the first time I cried for no real reason like that. I have cried before because of some kind of emotion I was feeling but this was different.

I remember Lady Beretta placing her hands on my shoulders and saying some things to comfort me while I cried out loud. I also remember Mother Rose taking me to the clinic to examine my forehead.

I had a bruise but she said it would be gone without a trace in three days’ time. Yet she still cut off a small piece of a healing charm and pasted it to my forehead while I sobbed. Then she gave me a deep hug. She did not say a word but the way she rubbed my back calmed me down.

“Are you okay?”

I could not answer that question out loud. I was sobbing too much to speak.

I did not Signe which one of them threw the plate that hit me.

After that we had to fix dinner so I forgot all about my tears.

Come to think of it Mother Rose said this at dinnertime.

“Rosetta. Your cooking repertoire seems to be based on this region’s cooking. …Do you have any specialty dishes?”

Volaille and pôchouse. I often make them with saupiquet sauce. And since my master does not like sweet things I will make pain d'épice for dessert.”

“Did someone teach you to make that?”

Only after saying no did I realize that it was true. No one had taught me that.

I had simply made what I thought would be good and my master had told me what it was called. All of the dishes I made had already been developed among the countless recipes of French cuisine. I always had my master determine what it was I had made.

But I had definitely come up with the idea for making those things on my own.

Lady Beretta looked across the table at me with a look of surprise and Mother Rose nodded next to her.

“Your specialty dishes are from Bourgogne. Both the whole chicken dish and the freshwater fish dish. You can find the ingredients and the cooking methods in nature here. In France’s royal palace style of cooking they chop up the chicken and rarely ever cook it whole.”

“Really?”

“It was the same for me. When I moved to Paris I realized no one had actually taught me how to cook and yet I ended up cooking the same way my mother had. This means there must be more to your roots than just Paris.”

That made sense. And it reminded me that Lady Beretta had first brought me to her room to cook. I wonder if she had sensed something of Mother Rose’s cooking in my cooking.

That would make me kind of happy but also kind of sad. I would prefer it if she had been drawn to the flavor of my cooking. I would prefer not to consider the possibility that she only liked it because it was similar to Mother Rose’s.

But it surprised me to learn I had some foundational memories like that.

I had been told my foundational memories were only my language skills and my decision-making abilities and the control functions for my various sensory devices and evolution. But Lady Beretta said a lot of things were installed in Belle de Marionnettes during the manufacturing process. She said the more varied their foundational memories the more things they would be able to do on their own.

Was I the same? It has only shown itself in cooking so far but there might be many more abilities hidden inside me.

<Lady Beretta is shouting from the backyard.

“The bath is ready!”>

Lady Beretta is calling for me. We had a lot of work to do today and we will probably have even more tomorrow. I think that is a good thing.

July 10, 1944[edit]

Rose Francisca’s Journal[edit]

In less than a month, I can stop writing my journal in this hidden room for my Correcteur ceremony.

Rosetta said there was something wrong with her thighs since coming here, but my examination showed it was nothing more than muscle pain. She has apparently never experienced that before. She had also asked me about her secondary sex characteristics earlier, so after asking if it was okay, I examined her body.

Her digestive system is complete. He once told me that a Belle de Marionnette’s stomach becomes fully covered by skin once their organs evolve to a certain point, so only human operating techniques will work on them. Once their evolution reaches that point, they must be handled just like a human.

She has yet to evolve genitals and she only has the lines leading toward her stomach that become the foundation for stretch marks. Since she does have the pathways for mammary glands, she probably thinks childrearing is a mother’s only role.

After the examination, we discussed a number of things while she got dressed. I asked her what kind of life Beretta is living in Paris and I told her what Beretta used to be like. Maybe I was simply using Rosetta to get information on that girl. I felt a little guilty seeing how delighted she was to hear about Beretta’s past.

Beretta returned late at night and we got into an argument.

I have yet to open the letter she gave me. That letter contains his final words, so once I read it, I can never again receive any new words from him.

My daughter in the outside world must have given it to this Beretta so we could meet. So this Beretta could overcome the weakness that prevented my daughter from meeting me.

She is trying to overcome her past mistake by living vicariously through this girl.

I need to give her what she wants. If she had visited me at the time, I doubt I would have understood what she was saying, so I have to behave that way here.

I can see past this with my prophecies.

Beretta and Rosetta will return to Paris on July 28 and see the Resistance uprising defeated on August 1. They must learn the truth and make their decisions then. It is still too soon.

This pause is needed to build up the strength to oppose the Primitif.

And once they can draw out their full power, they must make their decisions.

Once they learn everything and are forced to accept it all, can they really choose to liberate this world and make it real?

If they can, then their Signe will surely be powerful enough to break through France’s Signe. Because it will mean they fear nothing.

<A wolf howls in the distance.>

There have been recent reports of the black dragon roaring deep in the mountains. Everything is continuing as normal.

I want to double check my prophesies before going to bed.

Heinz Berge’s Letter: To German Army General Headquarters[edit]

This is my report as the Attesor Project Research Team.

Today at 11:15, I arrived in Nevers of western Morvan. The weather is fine. There is nothing to report at this time.

Over the next 24 hours, I will reassemble my unit, perform emergency repairs on my Panzer, have selected members of the unit switch to mountain equipment, enter the Morvan Mountains, and begin our three-week investigation.

I intend to return to Nevers on July 30. Upon our return, we will regroup with the rest of the unit. We will travel from Nevers to Bruges and I hope to take a transport train from there to Paris.

July 15, 1944[edit]

Beretta’s Journal[edit]

I am writing while I lie in bed after stripping down and applying compresses to my body.

After seeing and hearing so much, the exhaustion hit me all at once. Or maybe those herbs the villagers brought us shouldn’t have been put in the bath. (Rosetta said her butt itched after leaving the bath, so she went to ask Rose Francisca about it, didn’t she?)

On my way back through the mountain pass today, a large silhouette flew by in the sky. I thought it might be a German fighter, but it was a black dragon. I’d never seen one before and it had to have been about 200 yards long. It was huge.

They say it never descends to the mountain pass or the surrounding area. The wind blowing through the rock walls on either side of the pass apparently makes a sound that people can’t hear, but the black dragon can’t stand it.

The mayor told me the shrine at the peak above the table of rock is made to create the same sound as the wind blows through it, so it divides the black dragon’s mountains from Herlde.

Back before the shrine was built, the black dragon apparently waited in the pass where the wind was weaker and ate the people who came through. You can see the occasional giant claw marks in the pass’s rock walls. There’s even the remains of a carriage slammed into the rock wall partway up that’s just rotting away while embedded in the rock. It’s pretty scary.

Now, the mayor showed me that Heavy Barrel again today.

Viewing that Barrel that predates my time by 90 years really made me feel like I’ve become someone from this era. When I first arrived in France, I would try to pull my phone from my bag and panic when it wasn’t there, but I don’t do that anymore.

The secondary seat on Sourire’s back was not originally there; it was added later on. Its gun is a turretless sextuple divine spell cannon. It’s attached to the secondary seat, but the Write Bringer is the one who controls it and it can fire six homing Kugels at once. That may be meant to function as anti-air fire.

The secondary seat is apparently meant for a commander. It has a display panel and radar linked with the Barrel’s sight devices, but it also has a smoke grenade launcher and a Live speaking tube that carries one’s voice to the Write Bringer. It looks like something was connected to the foot space, but whatever it was has been removed. My guess is it was a memory device to temporarily store what the Write Bringer wrote. The secondary seat has an inertial control chair installed to keep the occupant stable while the Barrel moves, but that chair is quite large.

It’s a female Heavy Barrel, so that means there was a skilled female Knight Striker in the French military back then. I wonder who it was. An ace capable of fighting off a dragon should be famous, yet I’ve never heard anything about her.

And as I observed that Barrel, I realized it has two extra Phlogiston Tanks at the hips and it has very powerful moonlight countermeasure emblems engraved into it. Spirit engines were extremely vulnerable to moonlight back then, but that Sourire had several metal panels thinly engraved with countermeasure emblems plastered all over its systems to prevent it from losing control. That means it was probably meant to be used primarily at night. As for the extra tanks, didn’t the mayor say it had run out of fuel after using its Over Emblem too much?

An Over Emblem does not use much fuel if it is activated for each part individually, but when all the parts are activated at once for a full activation, the different parts’ functions support each other and strengthen the overall image, increasing the power output more than tenfold. However, it also increases the fuel consumption more than tenfold.

A Heavy Barrel can normally run for 300 hours off of the Phlogiston ether fluid made from a fingertip-sized spirit stone.

How powerful an Over Emblem had they activated and for how long to need two extra tanks and to drain those tanks? When the Over Emblem is activated, the Barrel is programmed to require great willpower and focus from the Write Bringer so their thoughts won’t be disturbed and the Over Emblem won’t fail. If their will is disturbed, their writing will grow vague and that can alter the Over Emblem supported by that. In the worst case, it can transform into something else entirely.

You occasionally hear about the Barrel’s own Lives being disturbed to the point that it becomes a monster known as a Live Break. And when the Barrel has transformed into a god using its Over Emblem, Live Breaking will turn it into a demon.

That’s why the Over Emblem will not activate unless the Barrel can detect strong enough willpower and emotions to trigger it. Knight Strikers like me find pride in that necessity of emotion and in our refusal to use resentment or sorrow as that emotion.

But regardless, I don’t know who this incredibly-powerful female Knight Striker is.

So is that Heavy Barrel the strongest one from the Attesor Project? But even if it is a little weird in some ways, it’s still a normal Barrel.

Like I wrote before, I want to see the other research Barrels that must have been prepared in Bourgogne in addition to Sourire. It would be neat to compare them.

So what is with that Barrel? Would M. Schrier have had some flash of insight if he had seen it? It’s too bad he wasn’t shown it, but that just means figuring it out is my job.

Still, I’ve seen a major connection here. It’s almost certain that it fought off the black dragon using its Over Emblem. That’s why it was almost entirely unscathed.

Sourire’s Over Emblem is less like Grazie’s Ange and more like the later Joie’s Tout Ange. It’s a high-speed mobility and attack-focused Over Emblem called Haute Ange. It comes from the Aerial Age where they tried to get Heavy Barrels to fly.

This village contains so many mysteries. Before I left the mayor’s place, he told me about the French troops that had visited during the previous war. He said he did not know where they went, but it was somewhere deep in the mountains and they had driven there in trucks.

I’ve kind of figured out where they were working: that giant table of rock. There must be a road leading there from somewhere.

It’s cut off from the outside world, but you can just barely reach it by truck if you start in this village.

Checking that will be simple. I only have to climb up to the shrine on a sunny morning and look down from there. There’s a tall forest on that table, but if they built space for a road and building, there should be some artificiality in the arrangement of the trees.

Before long, I’m going to have to go mountain climbing instead of fishing. I’m really making the most of this vacation, huh?

I will soon reach the end of this journey by figuring out what it means to be the strongest.

Speaking of strongest, I don’t actually know what that Heinz Berge is up to during this time period. He moves around between battlefields after Normandy, but he just seems to disappear after arriving in Nevers in early July.

He doesn’t reappear until July 30. He hurries from Nevers to Paris by rail and accidently arrives just in time for the Resistance uprising in Paris on August 1.

Even the German military records for that month only say he was “on standby in Nevers”. No one’s going to ask any further questions when they have that answer there, but it still bothers me.

If you climb the mountain pass from Nevers, it takes about four days to reach Herlde.

Could he be pursuing the Attesor Project too?

I don’t really know. It feels a little awkward in the nude, but I’m going to read through some documents and then get to sleep.

July 16, 1944[edit]

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

At 01:32, there was an earthquake. There was no damage to our vehicles.

At 01:50, we resumed travel.

At 03:21, we discovered the mountain pass was blocked by a rockslide from both sides. We began investigating. At 03:45, we discovered our expected path is impassable for a span of approximately two miles. We began investigating the mountain and discovered a likely alternate route. We resumed travel.

At 04:23, we lost contact with Klein Panzer #01 and its accompanying communication vehicle while it was investigating a branch in the route. There was no response to our calls and we heard gunfire in the distance.

At 04:47, a black dragon flew into the sky from a position about a mile away and it roared twice. It then flew toward west Morvan without paying us any heed.

At 05:19, we discovered the wreckage of Klein Panzer #01 and its accompanying vehicle. A piece of the wreckage was caught in the branches of a large tree. My 2nd Aide speculated that the rockslide had expanded the black dragon’s territory and it had already begun making shows of strength. The mountain pass and the mountain peak shrine had acted as a borderline before, but now the dragon could cross that line. Our investigation discovered that the Klein Panzer had been torn limb from limb and crushed, but the vehicle had only been rolled over. Doe the dragon dislike Panzers?

We used a printer to print out what the Schreibener had written in the Panzer’s memory bank.

We must remain near the mountain pass or shrine to prevent the dragon from attacking again, but we must accept that risk to get past the rockslide.

At 05:50, we left that location and took a break. Once the sun had risen, we resumed travel.

I read the final combat record of the lost Wild Hund Klein Panzer, but the damage to the machine and confusion in the Schreibener’s thoughts have damaged the second half of the text. I only learned one thing: no one can fight while screaming.

The second half of the crucial records was nothing but a scream represented by several lines of the letter “a”.

I will now take a nap.

Rose Francisca’s Journal[edit]

It is currently 4:02 AM. It is peaceful in my hidden room.

At 1:32 AM, there was an earthquake that caused birds to fly up and cry from the mountain while my house shook vertically. It was right on schedule. This is my 25th time experiencing this earthquake.

The earthquake causes a portion of the mountain pass to collapse, blocking it off and giving the black dragon another path through.

They will say the only damage to the village is the collapse of a lumber storage yard in the mountains that blocks up a mountain path with wood. But I know better. The earthquake was caused by the gas building up below Herlde and threatening to explode someday.

That explosion occurs on August 3. It is triggered by the black dragon’s Word Particle Cannon. And then the dragon attacks the village, destroying it.

I was told this by M. Schrier who visited 25 loops ago. He had visited Herlde before in ’39 and done some research. That reunion came after 4 years for me, but it had been 29 years for him. Once he found himself approaching the end of his life, he said he wanted to deal with the things he had left unfinished in the past.

He had two reasons for visiting me.

The first was to tell me about his meeting with Jack in ’39. He had kept it from me at the time, but he had decided I should know.

But he said nothing about the Attesor Project or how he knew Jack. He only said he had met Jack, spoken with him, and that Jack had died a few days later.

But I know from Monsieur Guilliaum’s letters that Jack continued to hide his involvement in the Attesor Project. He must have made M. Schrier promise not to tell anyone about that involvement.

That is why M. Schrier said nothing in ’39.

And during our reunion, he still kept his promise to Jack and did not tell me anything about the Attesor Project.

His visit to me was definitely more for his own satisfaction than mine. Telling me about Jack’s death means nothing when those memories would be erased by the Primitif.

But I pretended it was the first I had heard of Jack’s death.

And the other reason he visited me was to tell me that this world was succumbing to the closing up of the Rondeau. He told me there were a lot of people out there trying to liberate France. And that my daughter was one of them.

That is why I have used my Correcteur knowledge to preserve my memories for the past 25 years.

Everyone is trying to help others in very awkward and roundabout ways.

M. Schrier also mentioned Heinz Berge. He said that man is definitely “pursuing something” and speculated that he had entered Morvan.

“He may play a role in the black dragon attacking the village.”

In the earthquake that always occurs on the 20th, there is a rockslide at the mountain pass and toward Autun, so the path from Autun to Herlde is entirely cut off.

M. Schrier said that Heinz Berge’s unit finds some way to leave to the west and arrives back in Paris for the Resistance uprising on August 1. They reappear in Nevers on July 30. The German army prepares a transport train for them and they spend a full day returning to Paris. But why does it take them 10 days to make their way west from the mountain pass? Are they simply unfamiliar with the Morvan area, or was it all camouflage for some kind of important mission?

It is his arrival in Paris that leads to the failure of the Resistance uprising. I have not informed Monsieur Guilliaum of this. Nothing he does can prevent Heinz Berge from arriving in Paris on August 1 and telling him about it might cause him to cancel the uprising altogether.

This really is awful. I know I might be able to save him, but I force him to relive that defeat every single time. All for the liberation of France.

Today’s earthquake is one key to it all. This earthquake on the 20th is one of the preparatory steps and, no matter how hard people try to change history from here on out, there is no changing nature’s timing.

The rockslide was actually worse toward Nevers than toward Autun. If Heinz Berge had obediently turned around and made his way to Autun without worrying about being seen, history may have changed at least a little.

I went to wake the two girls earlier, but Rosetta was already awake and staring into space (in a low blood pressure kind of way), but she did not understand what the earthquake meant or the danger it presented.

When I pulled the blanket from that Beretta, she was inexplicably naked and trembling while holding a journal in her arms. So either she is afraid of earthquakes or she has some abnormal proclivities. At any rate, I did not Ajouter that and kicked her awake. After bouncing off the wall and rolling along the floor, she said something to try to act tough, but I left the rest to Rosetta.

Those two will return to Paris once the railroad recovers from the earthquake on the 28th. Once they witness the Resistance uprising, they should find some answers to their doubts and take action to liberate France, but how will that turn out?

It will be 4:47 AM soon. Like always, I should soon hear the black dragon’s cries in the distance.

Guilliaum’s Letter: To a Far Distant Friend[edit]

My friend, I feel like I have not had much opportunity to speak with you of late because there has not been much to tell you.

But things are different this time. Things always seem to be different, but whatever.

First of all, the Allies once again sent us some Lourd de Marionnette parts out of the blue. Quite a lot of excitement for the middle of the night. The extra tanks and everything else made for a full set of additions instead of the basic components and devices.

The equipment is nice and all, but we kind of need a female Lourd de Écrivain who can pilot it. I did repair that thing’s legs, but I honestly don’t feel like doing any more than that. What am I supposed to do?

A few days ago, a Lourd de Marionnette platoon led by a black Lourd de Marionnette was seen entering Nevers in southern France and then leaving for some unknown destination. The black one apparently had a red lion emblem on its right shoulder.

There’s no doubting it. That was Heinz Berge’s Rot Löwe. What is he doing separated from the 352nd Infantry Division? Rumor has it he was again named Lourd de Marionnette training chief for Paris, but he wouldn’t visit Nevers if he was only trying to reach Paris. That means he must be using Nevers to reach the Morvan Mountains.

The German army is using him to pursue the Attesor Project. And he’s probably starting to remember things related to it.

This is not good.

That Lourd de Marionnette that was bisected along with my leg is probably still up there in the mountains of Bourgogne. It will only be some rusted wreckage after 20 years, but her body might still be there inside that Lourd de Marionnette’s Cabinet. In a way, her body would tell you everything you need to know about the Attesor Project.

You will have taken care of the lab, but you wouldn’t have known where we ran into and fought Heinz. So that wreckage should still be there. It’s a little late now, but that was careless of me.

Of the two Lourd de Marionnettes running around Bourgogne, that was the spare one with the less complete Excède Emblème and evolution of its parts (and that was probably part of the reason it went berserk), so investigating it should not reveal the crucial secret of the evolution system. Come to think of it, is the Sourire that fought off the black dragon still in Herlde? If it is, I doubt it’s had any maintenance done.

This is really taking me back.

You pretended to not care in the least about the dragon’s appearance, but the instant you knew it was going to attack Herlde, you ordered me to fight back. Once that was done, the Lourd de Marionnette was out of Phlogiston, so I left it there and made my way back. That was when I found Heinz near the lab, so I attacked using the spare Lourd de Marionnette.

That was when I lost my leg and her, when I discovered the greatest problem with the Attesor Project we had created, and when it all came to an end. All that remained was the guilt of driving hundreds of lives to suicide.

But I never imagined the Germans would pull that old man from the front line to have him pursue the Attesor Project.

I can’t believe it. On the other hand, this might be a good opportunity.

It has to take five days to arrive here from Nevers using a Lourd de Marionnette. He is probably in the Morvan Mountains right now, but if he is investigating things there, he will be away for at least three weeks.

That means the strategy the younger ones are so excited about may just work. If it does, we might be able to liberate Paris before that old man gets back.

But Rose Francisca’s letters bother me.

She is making prophecies, yet she has said nothing about the result of that uprising, not even a date or time. But she has said to hope for the liberation of Paris even if it requires sacrifice.

Is she telling me not to get down if the uprising fails? Or is she telling me to continue working toward liberating France even if the uprising succeeds and Paris is liberated?

She said her previous letter would be her last, so I cannot ask her to clarify.

In a way, she may have been trying not to interfere with my actions too much, just like she had me do with that girl. So instead of using a prophecy to force my hand concerning the uprising, she wants me to start it and end it with my own actions.

In that case, I do not care what kind of result it has. I am prepared to accept any number of sacrifices.

Yes. I can keep going. I can still look to the future. Until next time.

July 17, 1944[edit]

Beretta’s Journal[edit]

Today, I am writing this in a truck parked next to a river. I was told to go see what had happened to the mountain pass after last night’s earthquake.

The pass is about 10 yards wide, but it’s completely blocked off up ahead of where I am. A rockslide and landslide completely took out nearly 2 miles of it.

There’s no way to move east and west through Morvan.

That’s a pretty big problem during a war like this.

The mountain rail line can get you around Morvan if you’re willing to wait three days.

But tanks and Barrels can’t ride the mountain line’s train. They could send a military transport train if it was a normal line, but the mountain line is wider and thicker than normal. The military needs to use that mountain pass to get through Morvan.

I imagine some German construction vehicles will be here to deal with it before too long.

While pondering this issue and viewing the aftermath, I noticed something interesting in the landslide on the mountainside.

There was a mass of concrete containing rusted rebar within the dirt.

Only the black dragon lived in the Morvan Mountains, so why would something like that be there?

I quickly checked my map and realized I was right near the bottom of the table of rock. The table rises up like a cliff from here and forms a canyon with the land Herlde is built on, but what was this concrete mass in the landslide within that canyon?

It looked like a piece of some kind of structure. Since this was in a canyon, would it be a bridge? Well, it could be a gate or whatever else as far as I was concerned. It only mattered that there had been an artificial structure in this supposedly unpopulated area.

I think I’m going to climb the mountain. If I look down from the path up to the shrine at the peak, I should be able to see the top of the table.

But that incredible rockslide and landslide is a problem. It’s only around two miles from that table to this mountain pass, but mud had flowed all the way down here to fill the pass along with the rockslide.

That was no joke. You would die if you were caught in something like that.

I was glad no one had been caught in it, but I had no idea when it might happen where I was.

<The cries of the birds arrive from between the trees.

There is also a lot of shaking. The tremor is enough to shake the truck.

The cries of the birds and beasts join together in the distance as the ground lifts its own sort of cry. When the ground shakes, the earth responds.>

It scared me.

I quickly grabbed at the steering wheel, but it was still terrifying to feel an unavoidable death so close by. This was part of the mountain pass, so there could easily be another landslide or rockslide, not to mention a flash flood from upstream. I wanted to hurry back, but…

<My face looks pale in the cracked rearview mirror.

The pounding of my heart rings loud in my ears.>

My fingers are trembling as I write this. The earlier earthquake was bad enough, but this one is worse. I hate things like earthquakes because there’s just no way to fight them.

I can’t believe this. The whole time things were shaking, I kept wondering what happens if I die here and wishing I could return to the others. It was the same on the night I first met Rosetta in February and when the librarian disappeared in March.

I was scared. My usual cheerful self completely disappeared.

<When I breathe in, I realize how unusually dry my throat is.

The muscles around my jaw are trembling.>

I must have been screaming in fear.

<When I realize that, the tears start to flow.>

I really don’t want to Point that I was cry-

Let’s just say it took me a while to stop crying. But why? I didn’t cry when I was scared back in Paris, but when I really was alone, there were the tears.

There may have been something more fundamental than strength and weakness that I didn’t understand.

That had to be the difference I felt between myself and Phillip or Heinz Berge.

The difference that made me feel inferior. And the reason they seemed so strong.

What was it?

<A cry different from a normal animal sounds in the distance. It is the black dragon.>

There sure is a lot going on today. Well, I wrote down everything that caught my attention, so I need to reread all this to make sure I don’t forget any of it. Time to get back to the vill-

<The black dragon’s cry echoes out.

And there are three deep sounds similar to shattering stone. They are cannon shots.>

Is that the Germans? Fighting the black dragon? Surely they aren’t that reckless.

<The cannon blasts and the black dragon’s cry echo across the mountain.

I do not know where they are fighting or what their situation is.>

I should go see-…no, I shouldn’t. And sitting here listening is meaningless too. I don’t need to Point it any more. The dragon attacks Herlde on August 3 to crush the German army. We will be back in Paris by then.

So I should get back to the village. My hands aren’t trembling anymore.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x100.”

The enemy is large and powerful. I have determined this is a special variety of the dragons known as Terrestrial Dragons. Its color is black. It is more than 200 yards long. It has wings. It is extremely aggressive. It also appears to be extremely hungry. I am currently engaging it in combat.

<Its front leg slowly lifts up nearly 20 yards away.>

It is slow. It may be large and powerful, but it still experiences time at the standard rate.

Its movements remain just as slow as its front leg drops down toward my head with a roar of wind.

<A new roar is added to that one. The two Mittel Panzers waiting a mile behind me just fired. They each fire three homing Kugels from each wing. That means a total of 12 bullets, six made of ice and six made of steel.

The six ice bullets strike the swinging front leg first.>

The shattering sound of the hit is stretched out so far it is reduced to no more than high-pitched background noise.

The bullets of the divine spell weapon induce direct change in the enemy’s Ton structure. Those ice bullets can instantly turn even metal into ice, so they flash freeze most of the dragon’s front leg.

It is obvious what will happen once the steel ones hit the part that is now iced.

<The black dragon’s front leg shatters.>

I leap back to avoid the shards of ice raining down from above.

I make an instant landing to shorten the time in the air. The jump carried me approximately 30 yards.

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x137.”

Time seems to slow even further for me as I feel the ground being destroyed as the metal panels on the bottom of my feet slide along it. Dirt is launched skyward and my body is shaken by the fibrous sounds of the small plants being crushed and torn.

I can quickly grow accustomed to this, but I feel like obstructing the feeling would be a problem.

I have grown accustomed to it. I face forward.

<The black dragon nearly falls over, but its front leg has already begun to regenerate. Lifeforms that were originally fictional are created from the Tons of the surrounding space. This remains true even when they have parents and are born. The birth process is simply how they come to be and they exist according to their own rules afterwards.>

This dragon does not have parents.

It is a threat created from nature in the Morvan Mountains. The mountain range wished to improve its harmful environment, so it transformed the harmful aspects into the black dragon and expelled them.

<The black dragon is slowly falling onto its side after losing the one front leg.

But it is raising its head instead of letting it fall to the ground.>

The dragon’s Word Particle Cannon is coming.

<White light is launched from its partially-opened maw.

This is a dragon’s ultimate form of attack.

It takes the Tons forming its body, places its Message in that, and expels it from its throat as a melody of destruction.

The one fired by this black dragon is a holy light meant to annihilate and sublimate all in its path.>

I understand. That dragon was created by expelling the negative parts of the local environment, so it knows it is a product of purification. The Message forming its body is not harmful; it is purification.

<The light shoots out and roasts the forests trees while swinging around almost like a sword slash.>

The horizontally sweeping light is a lot like the wind pressure from a sword.

<The trees to my right are annihilated and the air is roasted as the wall of light approaches.>

I move forward. I pressurize my power output to x10. I move full speed ahead with my full mobility.

<My body instantly moves past the noise.>

My emotionless will orders me to move even further forward, so I do so while trailing a cloud of water vapor.

My feet smash the earthen ground.

City v05b 109.jpg

Instead of a standard walking style, I spread my feet apart and run up the flat land like I am mountain climbing. I build up speed in a mere three seconds and transform Rot Löwe and its mountain equipment into a bullet weighing approximately 30 tons.

<My movements have surpassed those of the dragon’s Word Particle Cannon.>

Then I make a leap.

<With the creaking of heavy metal, my black armored clothing whips around and my Grösse Panzer leaps.>

I jump up on top of the 200 yard dragon as if to push it down.

I plan to destroy its torso with the sword pressure of a slash from directly above.

The noise is quite loud.

<By then, the black dragon is moving very quickly.

Its bestial reflexes give it enough speed to rival my supersonic Panzer.

It is using that speed to try to jump up with all that force.>

I conclude that it is extremely aggressive.

<The air current changes and an impact reaches Rot Löwe from below.>

I conclude this could cause a problem with my landing, so I change my plans.

I want to make another jump. I will kick off the enemy’s rising back and jump even higher.

That requires grasping the air current and the use of all my arms and legs.

I throw my shield aside. I store my heavy cleaver at my hip and then spread my limbs wide in midair.

<My armored clothing is shredded with the sound of cloth flapping in the wind. The impact tries to tear apart my limbs and the other protruding parts of my structure, but it is no use. My black Panzer gathers strength in its limbs and catches the wind.

My speed drops, and…>

The dragon’s back is below my feet.

I instantly kick my feet off of its back and shatter its scales.

I had to jump up. That much I knew. I had to jump into the azure expanse overhead.

<Rot Löwe flies approximately 100 yards into the sky.>

I activate my omnidirectional vision. I check the situation around me and search for the enemy nearby. I send the footage to the secondary memory bank.

I see the forest, the mountains, and the rocky pass. I also see the sky. I see the reddish-brown ground and the azure sky. I note my complete lack of emotion upon seeing that scenery.

<I begin to fall.

The black dragon is beginning to fly up after me. It opens its jaws toward me from below.

Light is flashing deep in its throat. This is its Word Particle Cannon. It is opening its mouth wide to aim at me with a scattering blast.>

It is too slow.

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x158. Warning: exceeding expected value.”

<The black dragon’s throat swells out. It is coming.>

I draw my blade. I set the heavy cleaver’s power to max and ready it in both hands.

I also pressurize my power output to x20. I use all the power I acquired through the loss of that scream.

This impact, speed, and destructive power are too great for sound to keep up.

I score a direct hit.

<A strike too quick to see slices through black dragon’s face at the jaw.

Before a black liquid can even splatter everywhere, Rot Löwe drops down with a truly cleaving strike.>

I slice right through the dragon’s body. Its head is smashed in an instant and I begin bisecting its neck after that.

The sound escaping its trachea, the spray of its bodily fluid, the tearing of its muscles, and the deep cracking of its bones echo within my x150 speed.

Is this the dragon’s scream?

No one can fight while screaming. The Klein Panzer pilot killed by this very dragon had left behind a memory bank recording that ended with nothing but a scream.

This dragon was the same, but did the great beast realize that?

Either way, I had to destroy it.

<I also slice through the bone. Slicing through 100 yards of flesh takes a very long time at this speed.

The blood erupts out not when the blood vessels are sliced but when it takes a breath. The blood flow all pours down from above instead of from the side.

The black armored clothing covering Rot Löwe’s body is further shredded while it is soaked with black blood. It is heavy.>

And all at once…

<I slice clean through the black dragon.>

I prepare to land. I shift my weight to my lower body.

<I land.

The impact causes oil to burst from the knee joints of both legs.

That alone tells me I will require repairs.>

What happened to the dragon?

<The black dragon is slowly regenerating its bisected front body.

It is still alive. As a Ton Break born from the Morvan Mountains, it cannot be annihilated unless its entire body is incinerated at once.>

I raise my heavy cleaver again.

<But my fingers will not move while they hold its grip.

The burden placed on them while slicing through the black dragon has broken the joint structure at the base of the thumbs.

I also cannot move either leg.

But the black dragon takes flight in front the immobile Rot Löwe while returning its sliced body to normal.

It floats up while regenerating the face carrying yellow eyes.

There is no more aggression in those eyes.

There is only a great weariness.>

Will it leave?

<The black dragon’s body floats up.

Its neck, upper body, and the left side of its face have yet to fully regenerate, so it looks like the living dead.

But it takes flight. The sky is their garden. It opened its mouth, but only for some blood to burst out. It raises an unheard cry while scattering blood and it flies high into the sky.

It whips up the wind.>

The dragon is leaving. The battle has ended.

But this is odd. That dragon immediately targeted my Rot Löwe instead of the unit with infantry troops. Dragons eat people, but it persistently attacked that Klein Panzer before as well. Does it have some reason to attack Panzers?


Chapter 16: Mountain[edit]

City v05b 115.jpg

07/19/1944 – 07/28/1944


I want to be

A resident of

This world

July 19, 1944[edit]

Rose Francisca’s Journal[edit]

Beretta has stayed at home staring at a map in her room for two days now. She wants to climb the mountain before long. She did not get mad when I commented that idiots always do like to climb to high places. That was strange.

I taught Rosetta how to treat wounds this evening. She is a good learner. She worries me sometimes when she zones out, presumably in thought, but she has what matters most when it comes to being a nurse: she does not feel fear when she sees someone hurt. But will she still feel no fear if she ever needs to hurt someone herself?

<The calendar shows 16 days remaining, including today.>

There are only about two weeks left until August 3 when this village is destroyed.

The earthquake in question happens tomorrow night.

The mountain route between Dijon and Autun will be blocked and the mountain pass will entirely collapse.

If things continue as usual, the mountain route to Autun will recover by the 28th.

My prophecies say Beretta and Rosetta will use that route to return to Paris and thus avoid the dragon attack.

Then they will participate in the uprising begun by Monsieur Guilliaum in Paris.

It would normally take Heinz Berge 5 days to return to Paris by Lourd de Marionnette, but he will instead take an emergency transport train from Nevers to enter Paris during the day on August 1.

And then many people will die.

A general resistance force led by the Allies will attack the blockade line in the early morning of August 6. Beretta and Rosetta will participate using the Lourd de Marionnette that led to their meeting.

Of course, this will happen after my own death. Most of it is meaningless to a dead person. Jack’s letter that Beretta gave me is similarly meaningless.

I will not read it. I wrote many letters with no addressee in the few years before the Primitif. I wrote them to him and to my daughter. The two of them can never read those letters, so why should I get to read this one? If I could somehow find myself outside of this repeating loop of time, then I would want to read his letter and hold it to my chest along with the letters I wrote.

<It is currently midnight.

Outside this hidden room, someone knocks on the examination room door despite the late hour.>

Who could that be? I doubt they will discover this place since the door is locked, but I need to be quiet as I leave. Once I close up the wall, no one will discover my secret.

Guilliaum’s Journal[edit]

Today’s events:

1: I have started cooking

I am sick of heading out in search of a bistro that is still open during this wartime.

2: I met with Phillip Missel

Phillip Missel is the key to the coming uprising, so he came to my place along with Old Blue Eyes to make our usual two-person meeting into a three-person meeting. He is apparently in charge of the Lourd de Marionnette drills for the Germans. He is using that position to gradually appropriate some useful components, so his house’s workshop is removing the power limiters on the 8 Lourd de Marionnettes that participated in the school festival’s Lourd de Marionnette battle. His presence means the Missel family workshop counts as being under German management, so they have a lot of freedom to do whatever they want.

“Also, another 6 went in for ‘repairs’ about a month ago.”

His confident tone when reporting this shows he is quite the Lourd de Écrivain.

3: We discussed when to hold the uprising

We had tentatively planned on August 1, but then we realized something.

“If Heinz Berge manages to return to Paris, the uprising will end in failure.”

Our plan relies heavily on Lourd de Marionnettes, but that Heinz has never lost a Lourd de Marionnette battle. Thus, he would greatly increase our odds of failure. In that case, we must begin the uprising before he arrives in Paris. He is rumored to be on standby in Nevers, but we must be on the lookout to see if he makes any more moves.

That is all for today.

Rosetta’s Journal[edit]

Today was a very busy day. I must write this journal entry but I am kind of tired. Mother Rose examined my body again after my bath and it turns out the individual muscles in my butt and shoulders have begun to develop. That has apparently built up my exhaustion.

Lady Beretta remained at the house all day today. The two of us went out in the afternoon to do the wood chopping and to repair the iron pot out back. It was incredible how she chopped the wood with animalistic speed.

After we finished that we washed our hands in the pond in the backyard. Lady Beretta slipped on a rock and fell. The fish approached and poked against her – they were the ones she had caught in the river – but she looked so confused about what had happened that I could not help but laugh.

She started splashing water at me and I fell too.

We were feeling hot after all the work anyway so we removed each other’s clothing – I recall Lady Mallette referring to that as “stripping” someone – and had fun splashing each other. I tried to catch one of the swimming fish but living fish struggle a lot. I was surprised at how strong it was.

I realized something while floating in the pond in only my underwear.

My body has almost the same relative density as a human one. Back when I had prosthetic arms and legs I had the weight of steel. But now many parts of my body have flesh and blood and strength just like humans.

When I told Lady Beretta this she gently rubbed her stomach while praising my body. But there are still several parts of my body that are not fully formed. For example the area from the center of my stomach to between my legs still has only the lines that become the foundation for stretch marks. So I am still not entirely human.

What I know about that comes from what Mother Rose taught me. Simply put my unevolved parts mean I cannot have children. I do not know if that really matters. Perhaps I will evolve once I have figured that out. The human body does so many different things.

When we left the pond and wrung out our clothes we realized the backyard was fully visible form the road out front. I was not all that surprised but Lady Beretta quickly pulled me inside. Even though she was the one who spread her legs for stretches while in the nude within the Lourd de Marionnette hangar at the school festival. I was the only person there at the time but I still do not see why she was embarrassed here.

“I mean uh you know. I don’t want other people to see me naked. C’mon.”

She would not give me a clear answer but I think she will eventually explain.

Today was a fun day. It had been a while since I could laugh with and speak with Lady Beretta like this. And she asked me something else earlier:

“I know this is sudden but will you climb the mountain with me tomorrow or the day after that?”

I immediately asked Mother Rose if that was okay. She was doing some kind of work in the examination room with the door locked but she emerged after a short delay and gave me approval.

We will climb the mountain tomorrow morning.

<Lady Beretta is sleeping in the other bed with the covers removed and while scratching her side.

She is very talented.>

After pulling the covers up over her, I will go to sleep myself.

That is not my job but I want to do it. It is that kind of thing.

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

At 10:35, I began Rot Löwe’s final inspection. Both knee joints check out. The damage to the heels has been repaired. The damage to the arms has been repaired for the right arm only. The shield I let go of during the battle was destroyed and abandoned.

At 11:28, my 2nd Aide requested an emergency meeting while I was preparing for lunch. He said the combat visuals from Rot Löwe’s sight devices had been printed and he had discovered something unusual in the bird’s eye view photograph taken while I leaped up toward the sky. There is a large table sticking out from the rock wall approximately 4 miles north of our current location. That isolated section of land is a semicircle with a radius of about 7 miles.

Part of the forest on its upper surface shows signs of an unnatural pattern and, while the angle of the photograph was too shallow to tell for sure, we all agreed there appears to be a large clearing near the center of the table’s forest. There is likely something there.

At 16:52, I used a truck to meet with the two scouts pursuing the black dragon. The black dragon had vanished in the peaks of the Morvan Mountains and has not moved since. I assume it is working to heal the damage to its body.

At 18:20, #02 Mittel Panzer discovered a lot of metal on an old mountain path near the rock wall table while it was out in night gear to search for a path to the top of the table. According to its report, it appeared to be the remains of 2 Klein Panzers, 1 Mittel Panzer, and 1 Grösse Panzer. They had all been weathered away beyond the point of identification, but the Grösse Panzer had French-style curved armor.

We will all head out at 24:00.

Phillip Missel’s Letter: To the Former Royal Guard Chevalier[edit]

Thank you for everything you did for me today. I am not the politest person in the world, so here I am writing this kind of letter after only just meeting you.

Now, I do feel bad since I am just awful at writing letters, but please hear me out even if you must view it as a child’s nonsense. When discussing the uprising, you said you would take command and stay inside that mansion holding a telegram transmitter, but I must ask that you do not leave the mansion no matter what happens.

To be blunt, a one-legged Lourd de Écrivain would only get in the way.

And however you view it, you are the leader who binds together the 1500 members of the Paris Resistance. The structure of the Resistance means only a select few know who you are, but your presence is still extremely important.

A lot of people will only Ajouter your words for the first time through the telegram transmitter I brought you today. That will determine their morale during the coming battle.

100 receivers were distributed to the Resistance cells and 15 transmitters were given to the commanders. With those and you, our defiant spirit can reach every last resistor in Paris. So do not leave your mansion. Your presence should allow everyone to recover even if – and my grandfather will probably deck me for even suggesting it – the operation fails.

I would like for you to give some thought to your own position during the coming strategy meetings. Fighting is our job and supporting us is your job.

July 20, 1944[edit]

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s First Entry[edit]

It is before dawn and I am inside the shrine on the mountaintop.

If my memories are accurate this is my first time mountain climbing. It was my first time for a lot of things. The mountain path was dimly lit with dawn approaching. We used the fading moonlight in order to climb the mountain.

I could see the forest on the valley side of the mountain path at first but we quickly moved up above that. At some point the sky came into view there. The valley river slope was not too steep to descend but it was still dark and I did not want to take a peek down.

While climbing the mountain path I realized my legs were working well. I usually only use my legs to walk but I started to think about what it meant to “move forward”.

<It has grown a little chilly.>

My sweat may have grown cold. I do not know the current time since there is no clock. But I do know that it is shortly before dawn.

<The sky has grown purple and a scattering of cirrus clouds is visible as if blown in from the east. The sky in that direction is a little bit yellower and brighter. The sun will probably rise soon.>

On the mountaintop the north side is a steep cliff. The east side contains the mountain path we climbed. And the south and west sides are gentle forested slopes. The mountaintop is about the size of the mansion’s courtyard.

<The mountaintop shrine is not a shrine with a connection to a god. It is a bowl-shaped hut of about 2 yards high made of stone and cement. The inside has a drafty window and a hole to let smoke out. There is also a strange rectangular hole near the smoke hole.>

Lady Beretta says the strange hole is a whistle that emits a tone to keep the black dragon away.

She has been using a pair of binoculars to view the area around a distant cliff face.

We had brought some firewood with us so I placed that in the shrine’s sunken hearth and started a fire. I am preparing some breakfast.

I was right to gather some water on the way up the mountain path. There is no water on the mountaintop.

<Lady Beretta has walked over.

“The sun will rise soon. Come on out.”>

City v05b 127.jpg

This is my first time seeing the sunrise from atop a mountain.

I saw the sunrise.

I was excited to see it rising but it took an awfully long time to do so.

The eastern sky grew too bright to look directly at and it stayed like that for several minutes. After that light shined up from beyond the eastern mountains and then the large round sun seen in picture books rose up. I could not help but stare in wonder.

This was very different from the small sun I saw from beyond the rows of buildings in Paris.

<The sunlight is sweeping away the purple remaining in the sky. The sky shines a bright yellow and it eventually changes from a light blue to a rich azure.

The sun has already shown its full form and it has risen high above the eastern mountains.

The front of my body feels warm in its light. My back still feels the chill of the night.>

Lady Beretta has still said nothing about breakfast or tried to eat anything which is unusual for her. She is once more looking through those binoculars. Since she is jotting things down on a notepad I assume she is interested in something that has fallen into the forest below. She must sometimes accidentally aim the binoculars toward the sun because she will suddenly cry out in pain. Is she okay? I wonder what she is looking at. If she is willing to tell me I would like for her to do so after we head back.

While bathing in the morning sun I noticed a cluster of flowers growing toward the mountain path. They were the same as the flowers in the Paris mansion’s garden. There were a lot of yellow and white and red flowers spread out within the small leaves.

Lady Beretta told me what they were.

“Those are four o’clock flowers in English but aren’t they known as belle-de-nuit in French? The French add ‘belle’ to a name to say it’s cute. That means these flowers are cute and it means Belle de Marionnettes are cute.”

I see. Apparently these flowers were my cousins as far as names are concerned. I wonder if the ones at the mansion are blooming like this right now.

“What was the language of flower meaning for belle-de-nuit again? Was it shyness?”

At the very least that word did not apply to Lady Beretta in the slightest.

I would like to pick one but I know I should not.

I will instead invite Lady Beretta to eat breakfast.

Heinz Berge’s Telegram: To German Army General Headquarters[edit]

Urgent.

I am reporting as the Attesor Project Investigation Team Leader. At 04:22 today, we recovered the wreckage of 2 Klein Panzers, 1 Mittel Panzer, and 1 Grösse Panzer within the Morvan Mountains. The production numbers discovered on the Klein and Mittel ones revealed them to be from a battle fought 25 years ago. We are currently transporting out the wreckage of the unidentified Grösse Panzer. At 05:11, we began traveling along the mountain path discovered by our scout team. At 05:56, we discovered the ruins of some kind of structure within the Morvan Mountains. At 07:01, investigation of those ruins led us to identify them as the Attesor Laboratory. We have discovered the origin point of the Attesor Project and we will begin excavation based on related documents. That is all.

Beretta’s Journal[edit]

This is bad. It is 10 PM and I am writing this while waiting for Rose Francisca in the waiting room of the mayor’s home. The village’s leaders are on the other side of the door in front of me discussing what to do about the Germans. I was in there a bit ago telling them about the Germans I saw.

I am sharing the large waiting room with the wives waiting for their husbands.

I did not bring Rosetta with me. I said that was so she could look after the clinic while we were out, but I was honestly worried. She’s been acting weird. Her normal careless attitude is gone and it kind of scared me today.

Although if she hadn’t been acting weird, we wouldn’t have found the Germans or the Attesor Project’s lab.

On the way down from the shrine this morning, we washed our dishes in a river along the way. We set them out on the sunny valley side of the mountain path so they could dry and then the morning wind blew one of the cups down the slope.

The 5-yard slope led down to the forest below.

It was a ceramic cup, but it caught on the slope without breaking. I started to climb down to get it, but Rosetta climbed down ahead of me. Just as she was about to reach it, the cup rolled the rest of the way down the slope.

I could laugh about it up to that point.

The two of us ended up descending the slope to retrieve the cup. That was when I noticed we were on top of that rock table.

Then Rosetta started walking all of a sudden. She walked into the grassy forest with the cup in hand.

When I quickly grabbed her to stop her, I found she was crying. For some reason, she was looking up at the trees while silently weeping.

“I am sorry. I was overcome by the sudden urge to see some things around here.”

She apologized and I sighed. I mean, I wanted to take a look around too. From what I had seen next to that mountaintop shrine, the trees were growing in an odd way at some points atop that rock table and I had seen a few clearings.

Just as I jokingly suggested we go exploring, we heard an explosion in the distance.

I felt the need to investigate, so we went to take a look together.

Once inside the forest, we quickly found a wide path between the trees.

It was covered in underbrush, but it was a definite path with no trees growing on it. We heard another explosion, so I had Rosetta stay behind me while I got down on my knees and advanced through the underbrush. There was a fork in the path up ahead.

Then a green command vehicle suddenly cut by in front of us. It was German. I panicked, of course. We quickly moved off the path and into the forest as we continued forward while crouching low. On the way, we saw that same vehicle return the way it had come.

After walking another half hour, we found a clearing about the size of the Balleroy mansion’s yard.

The clearing was surrounded by tall trees and a lot of four o’clock flowers covered the ground.

Most of the clearing was filled by a pile of rubble. The mossy and crumbled cement buried about half the clearing. There were a ton of German soldiers surrounding the rubble.

They had a single military vehicle, two trucks, one Light Barrel, two Middle Barrels, and a Heavy Barrel, but what was Rot Löwe doing here?

This was no laughing matter. A boxy reddish-brown object lay at Rot Löwe’s feet. I’m pretty sure that had to be the remains of the rumored Heavy Barrel related to the Attesor Project. In other words, the spare for the Sourire that was left with the mayor.

I could only say it had been stolen, but I was helpless to do anything about it. When I saw them walking toward us, I fled. I frantically grabbed Rosetta’s hand and pulled her away.

<All of a sudden, the waiting room is shaking and the walls are creaking.

It is an earthquake.>

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

There is little need to write a journal entry today since I recorded the day’s details in the telegram.

At 21:08, there was a powerful earthquake and I Verbesserunged the sound of a collapse, so we must hurry to check the surrounding area.

At 23:42, I canceled my Schreiben and investigated the Panzer and ruins myself.

My memories of the battle 25 years ago have still not returned, but the sensations remain in my body. I definitely fought here at some point. And all the records confirm this. I was injured by that rusty Grösse Panzer and, by the time I arrived back in Panzerpolis Berlin, the war was just about over.

While investigating the site, I also viewed the flowers growing around the clearing. For some reason, my memories tell me they are known as four o’clock flowers, but I am unsure what that has to do with me. I am unable to find related information in my memories.

Since that could lead to some kind of question, I instructed my aide to pick one of the four o’clock flowers as the key to whatever memory this was from. The men patrolling the area while we worked confirmed that someone was spying on us. They discovered a freshly-washed teacup. A closer inspection of the area showed signs of someone standing on or moving along the dirt and underbrush. Based on the map, I expect this was a Resistance member from the neighboring region. I decided to send a telegram suggesting a nearby unit be dispatched and I instructed my 2nd Aide to send it.

Now I will wait for a report on the collapse.

Attesor Project Investigation Team’s Telegram: To German Army General Headquarters[edit]

Urgent

This is a report from the Attesor Project Investigation Team. Today at 18:30, we finished dismantling the Grösse Panzer wreckage and completed the standard investigation of the ruins. At 19:38, we discovered signs of surveillance by a local scout. At 22:31, we finished packing up what we intend to bring back with us. However, the earthquake that occurred at 21:08 caused a collapse in the mountain path leading up to this location, so we are concerned about finding a way back tomorrow. And given the aforementioned scout, we hope that a unit will be quickly dispatched from a neighboring region to bolster security in this region. That is all.

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s Second Entry[edit]

There was a powerful earthquake. It happened while I was sharpening a knife so I cut my finger a little. I normally would not have made that kind of mistake but something was worrying me and I think that distracted me.

I cut myself at the base of my right thumb.

I held it tightly with my other hand to stop the bleeding like Mother Rose taught me and I walked to the examination room.

Some of the tools were scattered across the floor inside but most everything had been placed on its side or strapped down as if someone had been preparing it for a major earthquake.

I treated my wound with disinfectant and lightly tied it in gauze before taking a break.

That was when I Ajoutered something strange inside the examination room.

<The wall has opened up in the back of the examination room. There is a room behind it.>

I knew it was wrong but I peeked inside out of curiosity. The dimly-lit room appeared to have originally been a storage closet. There was a desk and a bookcase inside and some papers attached to the wall.

The papers were covered with complicated text. It made me think of the things Correcteurs worked with.

The only thing I could understand was the handmade calendar on the front of the desk. It had the dates written out up until August 6 but the notes on the days ended on the 3rd.

The note for the 3rd simply said ‘The End’. I am unsure what it was saying was ending though. That would be after we have returned to Paris so I think I will write a letter then and casually ask what it meant.

Is that room the same as the torture room in the mansion? But when I peeked inside there I sensed an atmosphere of incredibly kind exhaustion. That is the only way I can think to describe that place. That must be an important secret place for Mother Rose. That is why she did not tell us about it but why she built it so close by.

I shut the door tightly and found it was impossible to distinguish from the examination room wall.

I am now waiting for Lady Beretta in this second floor room.

She is afraid of earthquakes so I wonder if she had any trouble with this one. It shook a lot so I am worried about her.

There is something I must tell her.

She told me I should not tell anyone about what we saw in that forest. We hurried out of the forest and back to the mountain path and then took the truck back to the village.

But during all that I must have dropped the cup we had gone to so much trouble to collect. I checked the things we brought back and it really was not there. This is a problem.

I have not told Lady Beretta about this. I think I will tell her tomorrow. And I think I want to tell Mother Rose what I found and apologize. I want her permission to know about it.

And I realized something else as well.

I can bleed.

I am feeling more and more tired. Lady Beretta told me I could go to sleep so maybe I should do just that. But I also want to tell her about the cup.

I will do my best to stay up.

I made so many secrets today.

German Army General Headquarters Telegram: To Attesor Project Investigation Team[edit]

Urgent

This is a report to the Attesor Project Investigation Team. Today’s earthquake in the Bourgogne Region appears to have left the east-west mountain pass impassable. We would normally order you to return to Nevers, but we have decided you should instead confirm the presence of that scout as soon as possible. To handle this swiftly, you should split your unit in two. One half should continue your covert transportation of the secured items, take the shortest route through Dijon, and do whatever it takes to reach Paris. The other half should command the police in Herlde, Autun, and Dijon to set up an information blockade to prevent the Resistance from communicating. This is a crucial mission and it takes top priority. We have been sending commands and receiving reports from the local police since before your unit’s arrival, so they acted quickly and have already sent us a detailed report on the collapse and the estimated recovery time for the mountain pass. No one can be sent there while the war is ongoing. We ask for a detailed report of your investigation materials from the closest communication post. That is all.

July 21, 1944[edit]

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Sourire’s Memory Bank[edit]

I am Write Bringing while still tired from all the waiting last night and from the general lack of sleep.

Some trees more than 15 yards long rolled from the lumber yard and onto the mountain road during yesterday’s earthquake. There are about 30 of them in all and none of the vehicles can head up the mountain to work with them in the way.

It would take a week to move them out of the way with simple manpower. And since Sourire is being taken to the Resistance at the foot of the mountain anyway, I decided to use it to move the trees out of the way while loading it onto the truck.

I mean, the Heavy Barrel can complete that week’s worth of labor in just three hours.

“Sight Devices: Sign.”

<My vision is situated fairly high despite being down on one knee. It must be more than 9 yards up.>

It would be even higher if I was in the secondary seat on the back.

I see the gentle midday sunlight and…

<All the villagers are looking up at me. I can see Rosetta as well.>

There are only about 100 villagers. I hadn’t woken Rosetta because she looked tired this morning, but it looks like she actually got up. Good for her. Now, time to stand up.

“Hearing Devices: Sign.”

I focus on my knees to stand up.

<My vision rises up and I can hear the villagers cheering.

The crowd parts and the mayor’s truck drives up while facing the mountain road. The mayor says something to Rosetta and she awkwardly climbs into the back of the truck. She will apparently act as the Heavy Barrel’s navigator. She looks up at me and speaks.

“Can you hear me?”>

I can, I can.

<“If you walk in a weird direction, I will tell you. Is that good enough?”>

It is, it is. The powerful cry of her warnings will become a Point and smack some sense into my careless Signing. That mayor knows what he’s doing. Doing it this way is much safer when you’re using an unfamiliar Barrel and aren’t very enthusiastic about the job. I probably should have had her climb into the secondary seat, but whatever.

<Rosetta is trying to tell me something.

“Lady Beretta! I was not able to tell you last night, but you know that cup?”>

That cup? Oh, the one we retrieved yesterday? Did she break it after going to all that trouble or something?

<“Yesterday, when I checked the things we brought back-”

The truck starts to move and Rosetta’s body shakes.

She holds a hand over her mouth in a shocked way. She must have bitten her tongue.>

Ah ha ha. I’m not sure if that’s extremely Rosetta-like or not Rosetta-like at all, but we can discuss whatever it is later. We need to get this work done first, okay?

I need to walk forward.

<The truck drives forward.>

This is the same road we drove the truck along yesterday. Today I have to walk.

<Once on the mountain road, the villagers have stopped following us.

Both sides of the road are covered in forest. Sourire’s elevated vision is just above the canopy of trees and it rises and falls a little as I walk. I can hear Rosetta’s voice.

“Lady Beretta! Please watch where you are going!!”>

Eh?

<I see a family of foxes cut across the mountain road. The parent fox is more concerned by the truck than the Heavy Barrel, but the children are playing with each other as they walk along.>

Come to think of it, how are those three-tailed fox children doing back in Paris? I hope they’re doing well. …Am I starting to feel homesick? I’m glad I already got the tickets to Paris for the 28th.

<The fox children somehow manage to cross the road.>

Once we arrive in Paris on the night of the 28th, I want to head straight to Phillip’s place.

I so want to get back to Paris. One more week, huh? All this Attesor Project stuff-

<“Lady Beretta!! Almost there!!” shouts Rosetta.>

She has a really loud voice. Is that a sign of how much she cares for me?

<Lumber is spread out, scattered across, and piled up on the 6-yard width of the mountain road.>

That Point was expressed kind of repetitively. Maybe I need to work on my vocabulary.

Well, whatever. For now, I have to lift them up one by one.

<I hear a low metallic groan from the other side of the scattered lumber.>

Hm? What’s that? I activate my omnidirectional vision to get a better look.

<In my wide-open vision, I see something walking this way on the narrow mountain road. Narrow for a Heavy Barrel, anyway. It is a somewhat small Middle Barrel and a Heavy Barrel accompanied by a truck.

The Heavy Barrel has a pitch black body and a torn armored uniform.

The shoulders of that uniform bear the insignia of a German Heavy Barrel Platoon and a red lion crest.

That is Rot Löwe, Heavy Barrel of Germany’s greatest Panzer Kavalier.>

Wait, what is he doing up here!? History says he should be headed for Nevers!

Guilliaum’s Journal[edit]

1: I can cook now.

I might just be a genius.

2: Phillip Missel’s Visit

He is off duty today, so he went shopping and says he plans to go horse riding on the outskirts of the city after returning home. Such a fancy lifestyle he lives. Maybe I would have hobbies like that if my mansion was on the outskirts like the Missel family’s is. Or maybe that way of thinking makes me old.

While he was here, I showed him Protected Empress in the underground storeroom and told him about that girl. He was surprised, but he ended up laughing. The Resistance has no female Lourd de Écrivains, so I suppose that Lourd de Marionnette won’t do anyone any good. He said he would like to take it to the Missel workshop if possible, but is there any way to transport it there?

The girl said she would return from Bourgogne on July 29 and the uprising is currently scheduled for August 1, so will she have a chance to use Protected Empress?

To be honest, I do want to see that thing in action.

No matter how strong Heinz Berge is, Lourd de Marionnettes are controlled by people’s willpower. Their speed and destructive power are of course formidable, but their greatest attack is the Excède Emblème transformation that surpasses the normal rules of the world.

Back in my day, Lourd de Marionnettes could use their Excède Emblème to fly in the sky and race across the battlefield. Instead of using their power and speed for destruction and slaughter, they used your willpower to transform into a god and conquer all that lay before you.

Very few Lourd de Écrivains can use that power to protect people these days.

I can’t believe this. Here I am complaining about modern times. I should really end this here.

Phillip Missel’s Letter: To the Former Royal Guard Chevalier[edit]

I apologize again for how bad I am at writing letters.

I know I was the one that asked if I could take in the Lourd de Marionnette you have in your mansion, but that is no longer an option.

The Missel Lourd de Marionnette workshop is being used to manage the repair parts and perform the repairs for the German Lourd de Marionnettes and also to manage all of Paris’s Lourd de Marionnettes. Like I said before, I am using that role to remove the power restrictions placed on those Paris machines. Now, we have also built a separate location on Missel land that can be used to repair a single Lourd de Marionnette, but that is currently being used to store a special one. We want to make sure it is ready if it is needed.

Thus, I would prefer for you to keep the female Lourd de Marionnette named Protected Empress.

But I was unaware you were helping Beretta in that way. I assumed she was only interested in your Belle de Marionnette Rosetta due to her life in America, but life is full of strange coincidences.

Now, to change the subject.

I know this is sudden, but I plan to crush my right arm in the workshop’s machinery and receive a prosthetic.

Have you heard of the Panzer Ritter Project? In May, Heinz Berge mentioned it on a few occasions and, based on his present situation, I can make some guesses on what level of prosthetics would be needed. In addition to the basic prosthetic itself, you need to modify the nervous system that leads back to the brain since that is the center of the sensory devices during Recréa.

I do not know if just my right arm will be enough, but even if I did modify my entire body’s nervous system now, I would not have time for the necessary adjustment period. No one but Heinz Berge is any match for me and I have no chance if he shows up.

But if the nerves of my right arm are directly linked to the decision-making of my brain, I should fare much better. I feel bad since this basically shows I do not trust the plan all of you are putting together, but this might give me the power to protect someone else. Also, I trust Heinz Berge as a Chevalier. I trust him to show up when it is time to fight, so I want to do what I can to stand up to him.

I have not told my grandfather about this, of course. And I have no intention of telling her about it either. But I wanted you to know since you know all of them and are managing this operation. I promise you I will be back in fighting order in just a few days, so do not worry no matter what my grandfather says. Man, I’m selfish, aren’t I?

After crushing my right arm in the workshop, I will take injury leave from the German Army and prepare for the uprising.

Heinz Berge has no emotions. He controls his Lourd de Marionnette with the bare minimum of willpower and uses his mechanized body to increase its power. I will mechanize my body while retaining my emotions and fight based on the greater willpower that leaves me.

The mechanization is no more than support for my willpower, since I am a Lourd de Écrivain. Or am I wrong?

After writing one more letter I need to write, it will be time to say goodbye to this right hand.

Tomorrow, I will create the body I need to fight. Wait for me.

July 22, 1944[edit]

Rose Francisca’s Journal[edit]

Something odd is happening. Things are straying from the prophecy. And they are doing so rapidly and shockingly.

I realized that when Heinz Berge’s unit arrived in this village.

That never happened before. To be honest, I was probably the most flustered by the turn of events.

The previous records and facts never show him heading to Paris from the Autun region. He always appears in Nevers on July 30 and hurries to Paris from there.

Yet here he is in this village.

And oddly enough, it was only him and four of his men who arrived. I have repeated this war-torn year more than 20 times, so I know how his Lourd de Marionnette unit is structured. He is acting separately from the transport truck and the rest of his troops.

I can guess why he is here, though.

The day before yesterday, Beretta and Rosetta discovered his unit investigating the area and a meeting was held at the mayor’s house. For that and other reasons, the mayor must have decided they needed to hurry up and load a Lourd de Marionnette he had – I had no idea that was in this village – on a truck.

But a mistake had been made along the way. Yesterday morning after Beretta went to board the mayor’s Lourd de Marionnette, Rosetta rushed down from upstairs where she had been sleeping.

“I am sorry, but I dropped one of the cups we borrowed from you.”

They had taken the cup from the kitchen when they went mountain climbing. They had discovered Heinz Berge’s investigation after dropping it down the slope, but she had apparently dropped it again while they were running away.

She then left the house to see Beretta, but the result is what I mentioned earlier.

Heinz Berge must have found the cup Rosetta dropped and learned that someone had seen their investigation here.

So to prevent that information from getting out, they moved to seal off the Morvan area themselves.

“We are on our way from Nevers to Dijon,” one of his men told us. “But we cannot find a way back after the earthquake last night, so we had to take a detour that brought us to your village. If possible, we would like some food and a place to rest.”

Instead of panicking, they had taken control of the police department and the postal and telegraph office in Autun and then contacted their superiors to request a nearby unit be sent in to clear the mountain pass. It had apparently taken a lot of convincing, but the higher ups had eventually agreed to send a unit.

The mayor and Beretta are currently in a holding cell in Autun’s small police department.

Rosetta was briefly questioned, but she was released since she did not seem to know much.

Nothing too bad should happen since those two girls had gotten their story straight in advance. In fact, the entire village backed up their claim that they were working in my clinic that day and had not been mountain climbing. The mayor and Beretta are only being held because they were operating a Lourd de Marionnette not registered with the Germans. If this had been about Beretta’s investigation, things would have been much worse.

According to Rosetta, when Beretta had come across Heinz Berge’s Lourd de Marionnette with the lumber between them, she had immediately canceled the Recréa and surrendered.

It was lucky that the Germans do not know Jack’s name. They are investigating the Attesor Project, so if they had come across the name Jack McWild, they would likely have arrested Beretta and me both after checking our papers.

In that sense, you could say Jack and Monsieur Guilliaum saved us by erasing all records of our sins – of all those wills we drove to suicide – after the war.

But they seem to be having trouble confirming Beretta’s identity. Based on her papers, she lived in France, moved to America, and then moved back to France for school just before the war began, but they apparently need to contact someone in Paris to confirm that. The mayor will likely be released before her.

Fortunately, Heinz Berge’s men have the integrity you would expect of Lourd de Écrivains and the Autun police department has a gentle atmosphere. She is not being put through any physical pain and the investigation is being carried out by the book.

Also, when I view her as a Correcteur after her baths, I sometimes see another presence in the color of her Formules. She may be pregnant. That is worth looking into at some point.

Now, the Germans will apparently leave one of their men in Autun to manage the police department. The other three and Heinz Berge plan to leave tomorrow morning to reach the Dijon region using a mountain path that circumvents the collapsed mountain pass.

But how much will history change if Heinz Berge travels to Paris from Dijon? It is supposed to take him 10 days to leave Nevers because he must avoid the black dragon’s territory, but the collapse in the Autun region was light and about half of it can likely be moved.

Whether or not Monsieur Guilliaum is aware of their actions will likely have a great influence on the Resistance uprising in Paris.

If Heinz Berge does not arrive in time, Paris may be liberated.

No, that is still my optimism talking. What if the uprising occurs before Beretta and Rosetta return to Paris and the Resistance is defeated? It is Beretta seeing the Resistance’s defeat that leads her to the necessary spirit of liberation. If she does not see it happen, then the Resistance will die in vain. And I was the one that guided them to that defeat.

We have strayed from the prophecy, but I cannot make any corrections because the collapse prevents me from sending Monsieur Guilliaum a letter. There is nothing I can do.

What will change and by how much? When will Beretta be released? When will the black dragon attack?

I do not know. I can only say that I was naïve to assume it would be so easy to keep everything following the prophecy.

Telegram from the German Combat Engineers Unit in Dijon: To German Army Southern France Branch[edit]

Report:

We arrived in Dijon today and have begun repairing the mountain pass to Herlde and the mountain railroad to Autun. Work has begun with cooperation from the locals. Both repair jobs should be complete on the 27th. Once they are complete, we will work to repair the mountain pass to Nevers in order to meet up with the unit in Nevers that has been working from that side of things. That is all.

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

Today at 12:45, we began examining the unregistered Grösse Panzer seized from Herlde. I have spoken with the arrested female Panzer Kavalier a few times and she has provided brief responses. I have not mentioned the Attesor Project in those conversations and neither has she.

At 20:30, we completed the examination.

At 23:03, we began preparations to depart tomorrow. I discovered a wilting four o’clock flower in my things. I placed it between two pages of my journal to preserve it. I also confirmed the presence of the clothing and insignia left behind by the Klein Panzer Kavalier killed by the black dragon.

I must make the appropriate arrangements once we return.

Our investigation of the ruins on the night of the 20th and our examination of Herlde’s unregistered Sourire Grösse Panzer have revealed an important fact. I should send a report after hurrying back to Paris on a transport train from Dijon.

My one concern is that female Panzer Kavalier who was Schreibened with Herlde’s Sourire. She is definitely the one I fought once back in Paris. I suspected she is part of a Resistance cell tasked with pursuing us, but she claims to be on vacation with a friend. She has a parent in Herlde and the villagers trust her. It could just be a coincidence, but it still seems unusual.

Herlde is the village rumored to have some connection to the Attesor Project and a female Panzer Kavalier arrived there at the same time as us.

And she happens to be the daughter of a local and an American.

I feel like there has to be a connection to the Attesor Project there, but I have no solid proof. And if she really is searching for the Attesor Project, bringing it up myself would be dangerous. I ordered my 2nd Aide to continue investigating her and to not release her until her innocence has been proven.

Guilliaum’s Journal[edit]

Today’s events:

1: Heinz Berge’s Appearance

The Resistance in Dijon sent a late-night telegram to inform us that a few German troops led by a black Lourd de Marionnette have appeared in Herlde and Autun to investigate the Resistance.

They described the Lourd de Marionnette as having a red lion emblem on its shoulders, so that is undoubtedly Heinz Berge’s Rot Löwe.

2: A German Combat Engineers Unit was dispatched to Bourgogne

The Germans have taken action to clear the mountain pass between Autun and Dijon after the earthquake in Bourgogne the night before last. Rosetta and the girl cannot return until that works is complete, can they?

3: Phillip Missel’s Injury

The imbecile really did it. According to Old Blue Eyes, he stuck his arm into a piece of heavy machinery. The kid must be out of his mind. By my estimate, it will take another three days to heal even with Correcteur healing. So he will be back on the 26th.

That is all for today.

July 23, 1944[edit]

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

At 04:32, I left the remaining work with my 2nd Aide and departed Autun.

I told my 2nd Aide to request for the transport train to wait in Dijon for us.

At 08:11, we came across the collapsed portion of the mountain pass and moved to a side path. We found a marker left by the transport unit sent out ahead of us and marched on accordingly.

At 14:50, we met up with the transport unit at a mountain lake. We exchanged what information we had.

At 20:51, we set up tents alongside the path for the night. I checked on the items being transported. I also checked on our travel progress. We are currently halfway between Autun and Dijon, but we are expected to leave the mountains at a position approximately 20 miles south of Dijon. We will arrive in Dijon three days from now on the 26th.

I hope the transport train will have arrived by then.

After some discussion with the combat engineer who had examined the wreckage we collected, I gained a nearly full understanding of what the Attesor Project entailed and another of my memories came back to me.

My discussion with that combat engineer told me that wreckage I had defeated was a modified version of the Sourire model. And I have determined that unregistered one we discovered in Herlde is the same.

The Panzer in Herlde was left with my 2nd Aide and I ordered him to have it sent out once the mountain pass has recovered.

Simply put, the Panzer in Herlde had none of the sensory device modifications that German Intelligence predicted was the point of the Attesor Project, but I still believe it was a part of that project.

When I saw the anti-moonlight emblems and the expansion tank point while examining it yesterday and when I heard what the Herlde mayor had to say about it, all of that Grösse Panzer’s features matched the faint memory inside me.

That faint memory is an image of the past that was briefly resurrected within me in the moment I faced that Sourire with the lumber between us on the 21st.

Something felt off to me about the Sourire Grösse Panzer standing on the other side of that lumber. For some reason, I could tell it had not originally been shaped like that.

I printed out the memory bank’s record of my memories in that moment and Verbesserunged it.

<I predict that Panzer’s true form is not a mass of metal wrapped in an armored uniform like that.

It should resemble a female angel with wings, a large spear and shield, and an armored uniform. It had raced through the forest slaying the Panzers around me.

It was a Grösse Panzer yet not a Grösse Panzer.>

Yes, it was using an Ober Emblem. I knew Sourire’s Ober Emblem.

Approximately 25 years ago, I encountered Sourire in the Bourgogne mountains, lost my fellow Panzer Kavaliers to its Ober Emblem, and screamed when I was injured. But Sourire could not control its Ober Emblem and went berserk. I assume I used that opening to defeat it.

As a result, I entered the Panzer Ritter Project and lost my scream.

I can now guess what kind of project the Attesor Project was. Proving the details will require examining the discovered items once we arrive in Paris. More than simply improving the Grösse Panzer and the pilot’s reaction speed, that project intended to create the strongest Panzer by drawing out almost all of its power, including use of the Ober Emblem.

The only person who would know more than this would be the French soldier POW I dragged out of Sourire’s secondary seat at the time. Once back in Paris, I must recall what I can about that POW and investigate him.

I will now go to sleep.

July 24, 1944[edit]

Beretta’s Journal[edit]

I can’t believe this. I never imagined this would happen now.

I ended up complaining to Rosetta when she came to visit me yesterday.

“Don’t you think this must be some kind of mistake?”

And what does she say?

“Yes, it probably was a mistake to use that unregistered Lourd de Marionnette.”

That isn’t at all what I meant. Well, she brought me a new journal which is what I’m using to write this, but I can’t let my guard down since they’re still looking into my identity. I am relieved that it seems they don’t know about my great-grandfather Jack McWild. That group must have erased all their information even more thoroughly than I thought.

But when I thought about it, I realized Heinz Berge would probably have responded in some way if he had recognized the McWild name back when we fought in that Heavy Barrel battle. I was super nervous the day before yesterday until I realized that. Now I’m just taking it easy getting some rest in this cramped cell.

But what am I supposed to do?

The mayor was released yesterday, but I’m still stuck here. I want to get out as soon as I can. That German old man is surprisingly nice and he let me have the books sitting around in the police station, but I’m not exactly in a literary mood.

I want to get out of here by the 28th because that’s when our tickets home are scheduled for. Then again, will they have recovered from the collapse by then?

A lot of weird things are happening.

Why did Heinz Berge appear here on the 21st instead of showing up in Nevers on the 30th? I have no idea. But I do know history is changing. And I think this is a major change. After all, this is sure to greatly change his arrival in Paris.

I’m altering history here, aren’t I? The world as a whole is being replayed according to France’s memories, but everything related to me – that is, the Heavy Barrels and the Attesor Project – are definitely straying from history.

If I don’t know what’s going to happen, I want to hurry back to Paris and speak with people there.

I want to ask several people about the future I want and I need to do that before I’m booted from this world by the Format. But what will happen then? If I do meet with those people again, I know I’ll want to stay in this world. I figured that much out on the train here.

I want to be a resident of this world.

So I want to do everything for this world I can. That way I won’t have any regrets.

Right now, all I can do is wait to be released.

Once I am, I can discuss some things with Rosetta on the train home. I’ll tell her I am a visitor to this world. And once I do that, I’m sure I’ll become someone entirely separate from my grandmother.

That will mean accepting that I am not from this world.

But I may have created a reason why I won’t want to do that. My period is late and it’s been more than a month since I slept with Phillip.

Could it be an irregularity caused by the change in living environment? If not, then this is going to affect how I look at things. I might not be able to say the modern world is really the real one. Because I will have gained something so important here.

I need to get to sleep. It’s still daytime, but I’ve always been good at sleeping.

Guilliaum’s Letter: To My Far Distant Friends[edit]

My friends, I am having trouble getting across what it is I want to say here.

For now, let me tell you this: This time, I will face the war head on.

My best friend told me something after leaving me with a certain Belle de Marionnette.

“You need to get outside. Quit sitting around in here.”

The time may have come to follow that advice. The date has been set.

July 28.

That is when I shall test myself. Until we speak again.

Telegram from the German Combat Engineers Unit in Dijon: To German Army Southern France Branch[edit]

Report:

Today, we finished clearing away the collapse on the mountain pass between Dijon and Herlde. 80% of the pass is usable at this point. Tomorrow, we will try to join with the unit coming from Nevers and continue our work with them. The mountain railroad should be running again on the 27th. That is all.

July 26, 1944[edit]

Phillip Missel’s Letter: To the Former Royal Guard Chevalier[edit]

City v05b 159.jpg

I was released from the hospital yesterday. I have done everything I could. My Recréa into Expert de Épée will undoubtedly be greater than ever before. And more than that, I am feeling great myself.

While in the hospital, I discovered a surefire way of defeating Heinz Berge if he does show up. The biggest problem is how it requires a large flat area and some pretty crazy preparations, but I will spring a trap just as the uprising begins tomorrow.

The method is…let’s just say it attacks an unavoidable flaw in Lourd de Marionnettes and a prosthetic body.

The communicators have been directly linked to the memory banks of the Lourd de Marionnettes as instructed. They will be able to hear your instructions at any time.

We can send 13 Lourd de Marionnettes out to Paris the day after tomorrow. We are preparing to have them sent out in trucks tomorrow night. In that sense, I suppose we will have to work out the rest on site.

I have one question. If this is our war, does that make us comrades in arms? I have never fought seriously as a Lourd de Écrivain. Well, there was when I saved Beretta, but other than that. So am I facing this war as seriously as I should?

Heinz Berge’s Telegram: To German Army General Headquarters[edit]

Urgent

I am reporting as the Attesor Project Investigation Team Leader. Thank you for the many arrangements you have made. Today at 11:06, we arrived in southern Dijon. At 15:33, we arrived at the freight loading zone of Dijon Station. 1 Grösse Panzer, 2 Mittel Panzers, 1 Klein Panzer, and the truck carrying the other important items were loaded onto a military freight train. We intend to depart for Paris at 18:00. We will resupply and exchange information on the way and should arrive in Paris by 14:00 the day after tomorrow. Then I will visit the Paris headquarters.

July 28, 1944[edit]

Guilliaum’s Letter: To Phillip Missel[edit]

To answer your question, I am not your comrade. My only comrades are those who have since left me.

So you join your actual comrades.

I have only one thing to tell you here.

Survive. That is all.

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s First Entry[edit]

This was a very busy morning.

For the past few days there have been frequent small earthquakes and those caused a lot of commotion in the forest. But about four hours ago Mother Rose and the mayor took the truck to Autun because the mountain railroad has been fixed since yesterday.

“You planned to return to Paris today right? We will go negotiate for Beretta’s release!”

That is true. But I do not see why we could not get tickets for another day since the trains to Paris are running again. A lot of soldiers visited Herlde to receive water before heading further up the mountain. They are apparently working with the people on the Nevers side to clear away the collapse from both the east and west sides. I think that is a wonderful thing to work on.

We can leave at any time thanks to them. And yet Mother Rose insisted on going to Autun to rescue Lady Beretta. She must be worried about her.

Speaking of Lady Beretta. When I visited her yesterday she did seem as restless as a chicken inside her cell. When I brought her some new pajamas she told me this:

“It’s looking like we won’t be able to return on the 28th. I just hope we can get back by August 1.”

I think I will only start to worry about getting back if we are still here then. If we cannot return today I think I will write the master a letter.

But Lady Beretta did seem in a bit of a bad mood yesterday. She gave me a serious look from the other side of the visiting table and told me this:

“Hey Rosetta. There’s something I want to tell you on the train home. Remember that there is something I have to tell you.”

I do remember it. And I will not forget it now that I have written it in this journal.

<The view out the window shows the truck returning out front.

Only Mother Rose steps out exchanges a few words with the driver and then bows.

The truck slowly drives away.>

It seems Lady Beretta has not returned.

That means I will be doing my usual job again today. I boil a lot of water in the iron pot using the gas piped in from the mountain – from near the burned-down remains of the inn we saw when we first arrived. I also help heal the injured and the sick.

There is so much to learn here.

I have learned what is most important when dealing with the injured and the sick. It is to listen to what they tell you.

“People will be worried when they are in pain. So we can relieve their pain by listening to what they want us to know.”

Is that what I am doing when I tell Lady Beretta all sorts of things? I have learned so much.

But. I also want Lady Beretta to be released soon. Especially on such a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky.

<It is sunny out.>

The mountain pass heading down has apparently been cleared. I wish she could have brought me to the river just once.

<I hear Mother Rose calling to me from downstairs.>

I must prepare lunch soon so I will be going.

Guilliaum’s Transmission: To All Personnel[edit]

At 13:00, the citywide uprising will begin. Make sure you are ready.


Chapter 17: Death[edit]

City v05b 163.jpg

07/28/1944 – 07/29/1944



The rest I will prove

Using my actions

July 28, 1944[edit]

German Army Paris Branch Telegraph: To All Units[edit]

Urgent.

The sabotage around Paris by Panzers has been confirmed from the Verbesserung of dispatched troops. Immediately begin an Alert Level 3 response. Also, a truck carrying a Grösse Panzer was seen emerging from the entrance to the catacombs within Paris. We suspect the enemy is using the catacombs to transport their Panzers and we must respond immediately. Time is of the essence.

Over.

Guilliaum’s Letter: To a Far Distant Friend[edit]

My friend, no preface is needed any longer. A new war has finally begun.

We have 13 usable Appareils. All have had their restrictions removed, allowing use of their maximum power. They are also fully equipped with weapons.

Of the 13, three are currently being used as a diversion while the remaining ones form teams of two to attack various strategic locations.

One team to the broadcast station, one to the postal agency, one to the city hall, and two to the German Army Paris Branch.

They will conquer those locations within two hours. I told them that failing to do so would make it much harder for reinforcements to arrive. I just hope we can settle this here. I have done what I can do, so now I can only wait for the result.

How will it turn out?

Most of those working with the Appareils are so young. All of the old-timers like myself have fallen back to work as strategists and advisors. We must let them win this. If this operation fails, we will lose so many of those who can support Paris in the future. This uprising is being fought only by the Resistance members here in Paris, so our reputation is on the line.

I can’t believe that Phillip Missel. He claims to have found a surefire way of defeating Heinz Berge. I saw the equipment his unit had prepared and there was something odd within it. Phlogiston? That man is not so weak that he can be burned to death with that spirit fuel, so what is that boy thinking?

<A telegraph arrives. The broadcast station is strongly defended and they have sent out Appareils of their own.>

Do we have to send the diversion unit in to attack from the other side?

Things are about to get busy. Bye.

Telegraph from German Military Police: To Paris Army Paris Branch[edit]

Urgent. It is 13:15 and one of our Phlogiston transport trains at the Paris station has been stolen along with the tanks on board. Our Verbesserung identified the robbery’s leader as the Grösse Panzer named Expert de Épée. The enemy unit loaded the tanks onto 6 Grösse Panzer transport vehicles and fled. The unit sent in pursuit was wiped out. This is an act of defiance. Over.

Phillip Missel’s Telegraph: To All Troops[edit]

At 13:20, all Lourd de Marionnette are to ignore the infantry and attack the vehicles. My Unit 13 will act as a commando unit. After preparing for battle against Heinz Berge in the Arc de Triomphe plaza, we will move to support Units 1 and 2 at the broadcast station. Keep the communicators you were given open at all times.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x102.”

The passage of time feels so slow.

But this is not the actual passage of time.

“The current time is 13:55:03.”

I am currently in front of the Central Paris Broadcast Station in southern Paris.

I left the en-route transport train when an emergency telegraph arrived. The Resistance has begun an uprising primarily using Grösse Panzers, the broadcast station and police station have been taken, and it is only a matter of time before the city hall is as well. But I sensed the real danger in the fighting occurring at the German Army Paris Branch. I Schreibened into Rot Löwe aboard the transport train, tore through the chains strapping it down, and left. I entered Paris.

My power output is currently at 5 times normal. My running speed is not enough to tear through the wind, but the city’s trees and windows are destroyed as I run.

<The city streets are entirely deserted despite the azure sky above.

I see destroyed vehicles, gunpowder smoke, and the occasional corpses of what are likely German soldiers and Resistance members.>

There are not many corpses. The uprising is likely a localized thing.

That poses its own risks. A localized force that intends to hole up in a fortified position will be smaller but have higher morale and they can achieve results more quickly since they will have already narrowed down their goals.

I heard this uprising began at around 13:00. The result will likely be known by 14:30.

“The current time is 13:55:47.”

I pressurize my power output to six times.

The city grows taller around me. No, I have taken a lower stance. So I can run faster. I see a bridge down the street. It crosses the southern end of the Seine which seemingly surrounds Paris.

<A red Renault suddenly bursts out of a side street.

No one sits in the driver’s seat.>

I conclude this is meant to stop my Grösse Panzer.

I keep my legs moving while using my omnidirectional vision to confirm the enemy’s presence to the right.

<A citizen presumably from the Resistance is aiming a Panzerfaust toward me from the same sideroad the Renault exited. He intends to take aim and fire when the car stops me. Around three others are supporting him.>

Too slow.

Even with the fastest human reaction speed, it will take him nearly 0.1 seconds to aim, but I can react at 102 times that speed.

<He fires. The warhead floats in the air for an instant before the smoke erupts out.>

It appears frozen in midair to me.

That Panzerfaust was developed by the German army. Since it has reached the Resistance, we must have a traitor among us.

Knowing that is enough. I draw the heavy cleaver from my hip.

I draw it and fire.

There is no need to view the result. That metal implement can slice through any and all objects with the heavy wind pressure it emits.

<An explosion erupts from the side street behind me as Rot Löwe runs onward.>

The warhead is hit by the shockwave in midair. It is crushed by the noise and shockwave and the explosion of air destroys everything there. Too easy. I Lernen that I briefly heard their screams through a gap in the cacophony of air.

I do not slow my pace.

<The bridge approaches in front of me.>

Just before arriving, I compress my power output to 10 times. To avoid the enemy ambush at the end of the bridge, I leap across the bridge in a single bound.

Phillip Missel’s Telegraph: To All Troops[edit]

This is Unit 13. We are currently supporting the attack on the city hall. Unit 8 took severe casualties and has been absorbed by Unit 7. The city hall has now been 80% taken, so I will leave the rest with them. I have received word that Heinz Berge has returned to Paris. All free Lourd de Marionnettes shall head to the Arc de Triomphe plaza and follow Unit 13’s commands. I will deal with him. Over.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x105.”

The passage of time continues to be slow.

But it is not boring. I lack the emotions to feel that way, but I have determined I could not describe it that way regardless as I have plenty of effective uses for this time.

I have not encountered any more enemies, but I can hear the distant din of voices and Grösse Panzer movement.

The enemy is up ahead.

“The current time is 13:57:11.”

I am currently running through the center of Paris. My power output is stable at 6 times. I again see a bridge in front of me. The Place de la Concorde is beyond it.

<A single male Grösse Panzer stands within the plaza.>

Just one?

Is it waiting for me?

<The Panzer is colored black, just like Rot Löwe. It is a French male Grösse Panzer with sword emblems on its shoulders.

It is the Expert de Épée.

It stands within the Place de la Concorde across the bridge from me.>

I stop moving.

I begin predicting what this could be.

Phillip Missel is working for the German army. But here he is in this situation, alone and motionless, looking my way.

He is waiting for me.

<The Expert de Épée faces the motionless Rot Löwe and raises the sword-shaped Grösse Panzer Werkzeug that was resting against the ground. That is the Third Flame Emperor passed down by the Missel family.

Expert de Épée’s other hand beckons me forward.

And he speaks.

“What’s the hold up, you frigid old man?”

I deem him to be an enemy.

I felt no emotional response to his provocation, but it confirmed that he is not working for our army.

I move forward.

Phillip Missel’s Telegraph: To All Troops[edit]

I am engaged in battle while moving toward the Arc de Triomphe plaza. None of you should join this battle. Heinz Berge is undoubtedly the strongest ground weapon in existence. My attacks can’t even scratch him. And, sir, are you listening? Heinz Berge’s greatest attack is the shockwave created from his subsonic or supersonic movements. Rot Löwe creates destruction with its every move. The source of the attack could not be simpler: its high-power mobility. This is not like the power boost we gain when the Excède Traction links our Appareil to our willpower. He is acting as a machine and simply drawing on his Appareil’s upper limits. They look a lot alike, but they are very different. Our Excède Traction is limited to the extent of our imagination and what our physical abilities will allow, but his high-power mobility can ignore all that thanks to the Panzer Ritter Project and he gains access to the Appareil’s true upper limits. However, our Excède Traction can-

<An attack flies my way. A black Formule forms a horizontal sweep of a blade.>

I use my full power to dodge. The attack is fast but manageable. I can’t tell if the prosthetic surgery is paying off or if I too can predict the immediate future with a sort of prescience. But I might just be able to pull this off. Listen, sir. I have more to say. Our Excède Traction is limited by our physical body, but just like our willpower can ignore the machine’s automatic controls and make it run wild, it can also push the machine past its limits and to a point that not even our bodies can control. That might be the same effect we see with Heinz Berge’s maximum power output. It might be the power that can move a supposedly unmoving Appareil like when I protected Beretta. And it might be what we call an Excède Emblème. However-

<I see the Arc de Triomphe plaza behind me.>

Damn. I can’t afford any distractions now. The rest I will prove using my actions.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x115.”

The passage of time is slow.

The flow of actions is also slow, but my bodily control is under a lot of pressure. No matter how quickly I can make my decisions, it takes some time to make corrections if I act on a mistaken decision.

The opponent I now face will not overlook a mistaken decision on my part. He is strong. And he can match my power output up to about 2 times.

In particular, the attacks made by the fire-engulfed Third Flame Emperor in his right arm are far superior to any Grösse Panzer I have ever fought in the past. They are heavy and swift.

This is an unknown power.

I assume he has recently gained a power similar to my own.

<Once inside the Arc de Triomphe plaza, Expert de Épée makes a horizontally sweeping attack.>

I dodge it instead of blocking it.

The flames of the Third Flame Emperor can negate and block the strikes from my heavy cleaver. I should assume it is a type of Werkzeug. I can amplify and weaponize the Messages of anyone Schreibening into a Grösse Panzer.

I conclude that the Missel family has a close relationship with fire.

My heavy cleaver is meant to supply a finishing blow, but it loses all meaning here.

<Expert de Épée makes repeated jabs.>

I strike and deflect the blows with my heavy cleaver.

And I move forward.

<Just before I can, Expert de Épée raises one leg.

It throws a kick.>

I see the slowly-rising foot preparing a heavy strike.

But it seems odd for a member of the Chevalier de Paris family to use a kick rather than a sword.

I suddenly recall that female Panzer Kavalier I defeated on May 12. She was also there in the Morvan Mountains and she too prepared to throw a kick my way.

Except that had been a feint.

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x124.”

I pressurize my power output to 8 times.

I determine that kick is a feint.

<The twisting of the pivot leg is insufficient.

And the knee of the kicking leg slowly folds up.

This is a different attack.>

It is a tackle starting with the knee.

I must dodge it. I pressurize my power output to 11 times.

I make a large leap toward the center of the Arc de Triomphe plaza behind me.

<Jumping 50 yards with no running start sends out a powerful shockwave.

The simple destructive force of the vibrating air tears up the plaza’s stone pavement and sends them flying into the air.

The cooling device on my back instantly lets out a scream. My constant movement has been too much for it.>

But Expert de Épée could not have escaped that shockwave unscathed. The battle will soon be over.

I land while observing my surroundings.

<My current location is 15 yards in front of the Arc de Triomphe.>

With my current reaction speed, I can see the shockwave tearing through the air, shaking the atmosphere, and producing water vapor.

<But someone easily breaks through to this side of the expanding shockwave. It is the Expert de Épée.>

The Expert de Épée? It survived that shockwave?

<The Expert de Épée is surrounded by flame-colored armor.

And its arms, legs, and face are not those of a Grösse Panzer.

It has transformed using an Ober Emblem.>

Did it use the Ober Emblem to defend against my shockwave?

The full activation of an Ober Emblem is a Grösse Panzer’s greatest attack. Expert de Épée’s Ober Emblem is Flamme Bal. Armor made of solidified fire burns through and vaporizes any and all attacks and its limbs desire constant movement.

I deem it a formidable opponent.

<Flamme Bal charges in while raising Third Flame Emperor in its right arm.

The Werkzeug linked with its Ober Emblem transforms into a 30-yard sword of fire.

A moment later, more and more heavy metallic sounds reach me from outside the Arc de Triomphe plaza.>

What is this?

<Six Grösse Panzers stand up to surround the entire plaza. They are all raising large masses of metal above their heads.

Those are large tanks of Phlogiston.

They throw those and fire the cannons on their backs.

The bullets are fire arrows.

The Phlogiston filling the tanks readily reacts to the divine spell flames, the metal shells rupture, and explosive flames and heat fill the air. The Phlogiston that does not ignite sprays across the split stone tiles of the plaza.>

Phillip Missel’s Telegraph: To All Troops[edit]

With the Phlogiston that we gathered and that we stole from the Germans, a total of 120 tons transformed the Arc de Triomphe plaza into a swimming pool of spirit fuel. That fuel was ignited by the previous cannon fire, engulfing the plaza in flames. But that is not all. An attack from my Excède Emblème will remake the ether Formules of the stone and wind, transforming those things into fire as well. The multitude of fire attacks will make this place into a fiery festival.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x127.”

I understand the enemy’s strategy.

<Flamme Bal swung down its large sword dead ahead.

A great pillar of fire descends.>

I block it with my heavy cleaver. If the enemy is attempting what I think he is, supersonic movement would work against me.

I depressurize my power output to 5 times.

<A heavy attack reaches me.

The solidified fire bends like a whip and threatens to send Rot Löwe’s heavy cleaver flying.>

I move back to reduce the force of the impact.

<The fire pillar attack slams powerfully into the ground.

The Phlogiston soaking my feet is instantly ignited along with the light of Ton transformation.

Flickering fire races across the plaza.

And a moment later…>

It comes. The rapidly-produced flames rob the plaza of its oxygen, so more oxygen rushes in from outside and a powerful gust imbued with the fiery heat rises into the sky.

<In preparation for a blazing fiery explosion, the flames rise up all across the Arc de Triomphe plaza. Red, yellow, scarlet, and hints of blue and white. The color of the rippling heat is not like a candle’s flame. It wells up like water.

While explosive tension fills the flames, Flamme Bal continues running to approach me.>

That Ober Emblem is unaffected by the fire.

That creates a single difference.

<The cooling device on my back gives a scream.

Of course it does. The machine is meant to take in air and emit heat, but a fiery wind is blowing into it now.

The usual process is reversed as the heat entering the cooling device threatens to fry the rest of my Grösse Panzer.>

If Rot Löwe moved at supersonic speeds right now, it would be incapacitated in an instant.

The enemy had drawn the battle out this long and hid their Ober Emblem trump card in order to hit me with a fiery atmospheric explosion and to use Rot Löwe’s cooling device to incapacitate me.

I lack the emotions to be impressed, but this is likely the situation for such an assessment.

<An explosion is coming.>

I must avoid a direct hit.

So I continue moving back and end up below the Arc de Triomphe.

“The current time is 14:02:26.”

My legs are moving slow, but I use my rear vision to take the shortest path. I take a step back as if swimming through the hip-deep flickering fire.

And a second step.

<The conflagration explodes.>

Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Geschäftlich Schrift[edit]

To buffer against impact, the thought connection with the Schreiben user will be cut off for 0.0000001 seconds and reconnected.

The severity of the impact has done damage to numerous parts.

Sensory Devices: Hearing is out of order, right half of compound vision is unusable.

Skeletal Structure: Severe damage to hips, severe damage to left arm, severe damage to left ankle, all parts in need of repairs.

Power System: Light damage.

Fuel System: Risk of ignition of Extra Tank #2, purging.

Cooling System: Left side damaged, cooling effect reduced by 65%.

Ober Emblem: No damage other than structural damage, not primed for activation as Schreiben user has no emotions.

Summary: Combat mobility is possible but limited to subsonic speeds.

Due to the dangerous situation, Schreiben user’s combat-related memories are being scanned and any comparable situations will be forcibly revived within user’s mind.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x126.”

I have lost the right half of my vision.

My hearing has been entirely lost.

I estimate my left arm’s joint has been damaged. I cannot move it.

“The current time is 14:02:30.”

Four seconds have passed since the atmospheric explosion.

The battle continues. I am below the Arc de Triomphe. I can still see fire around me.

But the previous explosion extinguished most of it. The intense flames ignited by Flamme Bal’s Ober Emblem are gone, so the only fire remaining is that licking across the surface of the fuel flooding the plaza.

The heat is subsiding. A slight shimmering covers the surviving left side of my vision.

<The enemy is nowhere to be seen.>

I conclude they took some sort of action to perform the final strike.

The fire is gone and I can still move. And my right arm is functional. As long as I do not step too strongly with my legs, I can run too. I guess that Rot Löwe was able to resist the impact of that atmospheric explosion because it was designed to endure supersonic impacts.

Paris’s Panzer Kavaliers are skilled. That female one used the power of the Ober Emblem to change the flow of battle. Now Phillip Missel has done the same.

I conclude they did very well.

Something similar once happened to me.

There it is in my memories.

This is a memory I was never able to recall before.

Is this the result of the forced revival mentioned in the previous Geschäftlich Schrift?

I lack the emotions to find this strange. This memory was revived because it is necessary. 25 years ago, I fought an Ober Emblem user I encountered in the Morvan Mountains of Bourgogne.

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x139.”

I compress my reaction speed so I can think while battling the enemy.

I recall that memory.

When I encountered Sourire in Bourgogne 25 years ago, it spread the wings of its Ober Emblem, wielded a spear, and slayed my men. The attack that destroyed my right arm was made with the spear that obliterated the Klein Panzer under my command. It was made while turning around and…yes, it was a powerful horizontal sweep of the spear, just like that female Panzer Kavalier tried to use against me at the end of that battle.

I understand.

I must have recalled this past attack back then. That is why I managed to dodge it and forcibly end that battle.

When that heavy spear strike hit me and sent me flying back 25 years ago, I let out a scream as the enemy rushed toward me.

I screamed.

For a Panzer Kavalier, that is a cry of critical failure because it means abandoning the Schreiben records.

I will not do that now.

But at the time, I was possessed by fear and abandoned the fight as quickly as I could manage.

I only survived because Sourire went berserk.

I have never fully activated an Ober Emblem, so the details of this are unknown to me.

Back then, Sourire raised its spear and prepared to pierce my Panzer, but that never happened.

Even more ether enveloped Sourire’s Ober Emblem.

The ether armor and skeletal structure surrounding Sourire’s body tried to transform into something other than Haute Ange.

That should have been impossible.

An Ober Emblem is carved into the Panzer’s armor, so it is immutable. Once activated, the different parts join together to create a specific shape and amplify the power output, but they cannot take a different form.

Yet Sourire definitely tried to change its Ober Emblem in that moment.

The wings rose toward heaven even more magnificently and the Panzer created by the Ober Emblem crumbled away. An Ober Emblem rearranges the Tons of the metal and oil creating the Panzer and transforms its structure into something else. The change begins from the surface and the ether gives the Panzer the very form of the Ober Emblem’s Message.

It fell apart before that transformation could be reversed.

While Sourire opened the mouth that had originally been its speech device and raised a bestial roar into the heavens, the wings on its back bent and retook the shape of the broken extra tanks in midair. Next, the right arm extended to nearly twice its original length before shattering and transforming back into the original components.

After that, I heard mechanical screams from the right arm, right chest, and neck.

A moment afterwards, I stood up and charged forward in something like a tackle. I sliced the enemy in two.

Which resulted in-

<I see some faint light.

Out of the corner of my vision, I see something flying toward me from outside the Arc de Triomphe plaza.

The lights number 6 in all.>

The Verbesserung cuts off my thoughts and drags my mind back to reality.

The Grösse Panzers surrounding the plaza have fired on me.

I take that as a sign of the battle resuming.

“The current time is 14:02:33.”

In real time, 7 seconds have passed since the atmospheric explosion.

The enemy is trying to end this with their attacks.

<But Expert de Épée is nowhere to be seen in the plaza.>

The enemy has some kind of plan.

I start by confirming the incoming attacks. Based on the angle of fire, 4 of the 6 will hit the Arc de Triomphe’s exterior wall and one will pass below the arc. Only the last one will hit me, so I need only intercept that one.

I cannot raise my right arm in time.

And I cannot use a sonic boom.

Thus, I jab my heavy cleaver in that direction, piercing the bullet.

<The incoming bullets are all frozen arrows. My heavy cleaver can shatter those.>

I shatter it.

Ice cannot defeat the void.

My heavy cleaver even slices through the very phenomenon of freezing brought on by the freezing Ton.

<Ice smoke ruptures, covering my vision.>

It all happens in silence since my hearing devices are broken.

<At the same time, four of the frozen arrows strike the arc.

It is frozen white.

On a late-July summer afternoon, that famous stone structure is transformed into an icy gate with a visibly white chill rising from it.>

“The current time is 14:02:35.”

My metal skin feels the chill.

<My cooling device regains full functioning as if new life has been breathed into it.>

The enemy’s strategy makes no sense.

They were using fire to attack until now, so why the sudden change to ice? This attack actually helps me by letting my cooling system work again.

Thus, I conclude this is part of the enemy strategy.

I will be in danger if I cannot figure out why they would turn the Arc de Triomphe into ice.

I must search for the important points around me.

The enemy is not here.

The arc has been frozen.

And the enemy likely still has their Ober Emblem fully activated.

The 30-yard flame sword created by the fusion of Third Flame Emperor and the Ober Emblem is not exactly sharp, but it provides a powerful blow.

I think.

“The current time is 14:02:36.”

The Panzer Kavalier known as the strongest must not lose. I will not scream. My enemy, Phillip Missel, has fought this far while keeping his scream contained within.

He must not even be considering the possibility of screaming.

I think.

Will he scream when I achieve my victory here?

It will all come after the battle has been decided.

This enemy is top rate, so I cannot let my guard down.

I can predict the general strategy. The enemy is using the Arc de Triomphe as a wall to remain hidden from me. He has not left this plaza. He is not the kind of Panzer Kavalier who allows himself to run away.

Then what is he hoping to accomplish here?

“The current time is 14:02:38.”

It all comes down to the Ober Emblem’s attack power.

That 30-yard attack can easily smash the arc now that it is ice.

I guess the enemy plans to slice through me and the arc while it hides him. Gunfire is useless against me and close-range swordplay is meaningless, so he will use a wide-range attack from outside my field of vision.

But a question remains.

Will the enemy come from the right or left side of the arc?

There is only one answer. It is all the same as when I fought that black dragon.

Phillip Missel’s Telegraph: To All Troops[edit]

Has he figured it out? Then I need to see this through to the end!

The Excède Emblème boosts the power output as far as my imagination can take it. I am currently in the sky above the Arc de Triomphe. Let’s see you dodge an attack made on the way down from a leap of about 50 yards!

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x143.”

It all happened in an instant.

The moment I predicted the enemy’s action, I made a subsonic swing of my heavy cleaver to slice through the left side of the Arc de Triomphe. The stone structure had been frozen via ether transformation, so despite its weight, it easily crumbled from the impact.

<At the same time, the ceiling portion collapses.

It is Expert de Épée.

The Flamme Bal Ober Emblem is starting to deactivate. After breaking through the arc, the flame sword growing from Third Flame Emperor vanishes.

But the attack itself is not gone.

While white and blue ice spray cascades down and turns to steam on the scorched ground, the pitch black Panzer swings down its sword-shaped Werkzeug.>

The ground is covered in ice, making evasion impossible. But I have already done what must be done.

I can only wait for the result.

<Expert de Épée’s slowly-swung attack moves to slam into Rot Löwe as a slash.

However…>

City v05b 189.jpg

It misses.

I had attacked and tilted the Arc de Triomphe before the enemy could strike.

The diagonal tilt of the icy mass redirected the enemy’s attack slightly to the left.

Yes, by trusting in the accuracy of the enemy’s attack, I could shift that aim just enough to avoid Rot Löwe’s head and instead chop off the unneeded left arm at the collarbone.

<While ice scatters like a wave of white sand, Rot Löwe’s left arm flies from the broken joint.

In that instant, Third Flame Emperor crashes into the plaza ground and the force of the impact smashes Expert de Épée’s wrist.

That flaming Werkzeug soars high into the sky.>

I confirm the enemy has lost his weapon. I guess he is also experiencing a malfunction in the legs.

It is true that a jab from the side could knock my Rot Löwe aside but that could not destroy it. So he had been correct to try a surprise attack from above.

His only mistake was taking a similar action to the one I used against the black dragon. Without that, I doubt I would have considered the possibility here.

<Expert de Épée tries to stand up.

Its face is directed my way. The battle continues.>

Meaningless. The damage to your legs prevents you from moving properly and that arm cannot hold anything. I will now settle this with destruction and move on to the elimination of the 6 Panzers surrounding us.

The smallest disturbance determined the result for everything. The concept of luck does not exist here. This is a battle ruled by our respective strategies, thoughts, and memories.

In that sense, I could not have let my guard down during the battle.

And now I would end it.

<Expert de Épée moves.

It slowly stands and charges in while crouched low, as if to wrap its arms around Rot Löwe’s hips.>

It is moving slowly. It must have taken damage to the lower back in addition to the legs. Does that show just how much this enemy had poured into that attack?

That had indeed been an attack meant to truly defeat an opponent. It had not been a simple gamble.

And it just might have worked had I not fought that black dragon and that memory had not returned to me.

Even if his impending defeat was akin to self-destruction, I can guess that no one will mock it. I am known as the strongest and he is the first to push me this far. At the same time, I can conclude that no other attack in this battle poses any real threat to me.

Nevertheless, he knows escape is impossible and chooses to continue the fight. He truly is a formidable opponent.

<Expert de Épée takes a step closer.>

I split its torso diagonally from shoulder to hip with my heavy cleaver.

<The single attack slices through it.>

A Panzer Kavalier’s body receives any damage done to their Grösse Panzer.

This is a fatal blow. Phillip Missel will die here.

<But even as Expert de Épée’s upper body collapses, it crashes into Rot Löwe.

The black Kavalier latches onto Rot Löwe’s hips.>

Phillip Missel’s Telegraph: To All Troops[edit]

Fiiiiire!!

July 29, 1944[edit]

Rosetta’s Journal[edit]

I think this will be a busy day so I will write what I can during the morning. Especially since I was too busy yesterday to write much of what happened last night.

Now. Lady Beretta was released last night. The mountain railroad was apparently repaired and her identification arrived from Paris yesterday. The mayor called for us at around 8 at night. Mother Rose was incredible then. She told me to hurriedly pack my things while she stuffed all of Lady Beretta’s things in her bag.

It only took her five minutes. Then she stole the truck from the mayor – that is the only way I can think to describe it – and drove me to the police station in Autun.

I did not understand why we had to be in such a hurry. It looked to me like she wanted us out of Herlde as quickly as possible. Our tickets were for a morning train so it was already too late to use them.

We could get home easily enough after picking up reserved tickets to Paris at Autun Station. But for whatever reason she insisted she see us off to Dijon right away.

I had questions but I kept them to myself. Because of the serious look on Mother Rose’s face. When we arrived at the police station Lady Beretta was waiting for us out front.

She was surprised to learn I and our things were loaded in the back of the truck. She too must not have thought we would be heading back so soon.

But she quickly climbed into the back and we drove to the train station not far from the police station. The train arrived almost as soon as we had arrived.

We let Mother Rose go buy our tickets while we checked over our luggage in the station waiting room. That was when the platform grew very noisy.

Noisy with voices speaking German.

Several people in military uniforms passed through the ticket gate and quickly left while discussing something that sounded serious. Lady Beretta saw the look of shock from the bespectacled station chief who was standing by the ticket gate so she asked what the soldiers had said.

To be very clear about what they said I will write it out as bullet points here.

  • The Resistance staged an uprising in Paris. Some of the city was destroyed. The Resistance was crushed.
  • The German army took heavy losses too. There was a traitor within their ranks. The uprising was led by Phillip Missel.
  • Phillip Missel was killed during the uprising.

To be honest I still do not understand it very well. But I do know that Sir Phillip fought back in Paris in some kind of leadership role within the Resistance. And I know he was defeated.

That was all we learned there. But it was enough. Lady Beretta sat down next to me with a pale face. Then she fell from the seat and collapsed like the strings supporting her had been cut.

That is not all. When Mother Rose ran over and asked what happened I relayed what the station chief had told us. She too had to take a seat afterwards.

Lady Beretta has not come to. Mother Rose managed to calm down last night and looked after Lady Beretta but Lady Beretta is still asleep in the bed in our room. Her breathing is calm and she occasionally groans. Mother Rose says she has had a breakdown. The exhaustion has caught up with her so her body demands rest and she will continue sleeping until she has it.

Mother Rose had this to say while viewing sleeping Lady Beretta.

“There is nothing more I can do. We can only trust in her now.”

What am I supposed to trust in?

<I feel an earthquake. It is not a serious one but this has happened a lot over the past few days.>

But not even the earthquake is enough to wake Lady Beretta. I put in her IV. For some reason her arm was a lot skinnier than I imagined. Even though I see it all the time. How strange.

Today’s newspaper said Paris is now under martial law and you must pass an inspection before entering the city. The Resistance uprising and the German counterattack destroyed Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. The city hall and the broadcast station and the postal agency were also partially destroyed. There were a lot of deaths but Sir Phillip Missel’s name is the only one being given from the Resistance side. Yet there is detailed information on the casualties from the German side. It seems unfair to me.

But it is true Paris had been caught in the war. Blood has been shed.

I only ever spoke with Sir Phillip twice. But now I know there will never be a third time. That seems like a shame to me. I wonder if there was more I could have spoken with him about. I only ever spoke with him about Lady Beretta.

But there is so much more we could have discussed. Yes. Like how he is doing with Lady Beretta. If I seem human to him. If he enjoys the time he spends with Lady Mallette and the others. And so much more about the past and the future.

Now that chance is forever lost. Lady Beretta must be feeling that even more than I am.

I want her to wake up soon. There is so much I want to tell her and ask her. For example she has yet to teach me how to use a comma. It seems to be similar to a period but also different somehow.

There are other things worrying me too. How is master doing? I tried to write him a letter last night but could not bring myself to actually do it. I have a feeling the same will happen today.

<Lady Beretta stirs in the other bed as if from a nightmare. Her left hand – the side without the IV – is grasping at her own collar.

I feel like I understand why she likes to hold things in her sleep.

<I hear Mother Rose calling for me from the hallway.>

I must go. But first I think I will remove Lady Beretta’s hand from her collar and hold her hand myself.

That is my own bit of selfishness. My bit of selfishness toward Lady Beretta who continues to hide her fear of being alone and can only be honest about it at times like this.


Chapter 18: Life[edit]

City v05b 197.jpg

07/29/1944 – 07/30/1944



I am currently

In the plaza

In front of Autun Station

July 29, 1944[edit]

Letter from Sword Lady #12: To Beretta who Inherited my Name[edit]

Are you reading these letters, Beretta who inherited my name?

If you are reading this 12th one, it must be July already.

Now, nothing happens this month, so let’s skip over it and talk about next month.

The Resistance uprising will happen once August begins, but they will lose. Paris will be placed under martial law and a blockade will be set up in fear of the Allied forces attacking from without and the local Resistance attacking from within. Paris will close itself up even more than France as a whole.

And on August 3, a black dragon will attack and destroy a village in Morvan, where the Attesor Project happened. You aren’t taking your time exploring in Bourgogne, are you? Hurry back to Paris. Try to get back before the Resistance uprising if you can.

There are many things you must see there.

This is the time when everything you have gained in France will be tested in many, many ways.

I am sure you have experienced things both good and bad. There must be people you know you will never see again now that school is out for the summer.

Sometimes when you say goodbye, you never do see them again. But if…yes, if you were to liberate France, that world would erase our present day and become real, you would become a resident of that world, and you could continue living with them.

But you are also living in a time of war. No matter how hard you try, there will be some people you never can see again.

Keep in mind what I am about to write.

How much can you Sign of that person?

I couldn’t do it while I was in Paris. The person I cared for did not return my Sign by Pointing the words I wanted. The last thing he said to me was “run away”.

If he had asked me to fight instead of flee, I probably would have stayed, fought once more, and been caught in the Format. And then I would have fought by his side every single time afterwards.

Perhaps I still want that.

What about you, Beretta?

I never understood how he felt and he never understood how I felt. I simply took his words at face value and ran away. And during the uprising, part of the Resistance broke into the German Army Paris Branch and acquired documents on the Wort Bombe. As a spy, it was my duty to get those documents out to-

No, that is just an excuse. Sorry. This is almost the final letter, and here I am complaining about the things I said before.

I will still write the next letter – that is, the one for August. But, Beretta, I ran away shortly after August began, so I have no right to tell you anything more than this.

If you still have doubts about something, then open that final letter. Yes, I am sure your next doubts will come when you learn where my Urban Name came from.

I will tell you where the name Sword Lady came from, why I never told you that before, and why I never once Write Bringed in front of you.

That’s just how it is. Take it easy.

Telegram from the German Combat Engineers Unit in Dijon: To German Army Southern France Branch[edit]

Report: The mountain pass from Herlde to the peak has been fully cleared after the collapse. Our unit has completed its work and can only wait for the work from Nevers to complete, so we are sending it to Paris via Dijon to assist in the recovery work there. As ordered, Grösse Panzer Sourire will be transported from the Autun Police Department to the Army Paris Branch. Over.

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

Nothing major to report today. My prosthetic limbs are functioning within acceptable bounds after emergency repairs last night.

At 05:23, Rot Löwe began undergoing repairs in the factory next to the training grounds.

At 18:59, the repairs and fine-tuning were tentatively completed. The complete replacement of the left arm and back will have to wait until tomorrow and I checked over the repair schedule and the repaired parts of the other Panzers.

At 20:05, I arrived at the army branch where recovery work is still underway. I confirmed yesterday’s report with the branch chief, explained the current repair situation, and took my leave. While there, I heard that HQ has given me a special one-rank promotion. It was awarded to me for my efforts in defending Paris.

Phillip Missel attempted to pin my Panzer in place with his dying body and expose me to fire from six sides. I used the Expert de Épée’s upper body as a shield to avoid the metal arrows and used subsonic movements to slay the other six. But due to Rot Löwe’s injuries, I did not participate in the rest of the battle.

The rest was settled by my platoon’s Panzers, which came running to assist me, and the Paris Branch Grösse Panzers I had trained. Approximately 3000 Resistance members died and our German troops suffered almost identical casualties.

The infantry division and armored division stationed near Paris are entering the city to assist in its defense.

That shows that Paris is considered a battlefield now. The branch chief says HQ and the Geheimnis Agency would like a report on the Attesor Project soon. I agreed to provide one in a meeting at the Germany Army Paris Branch at 16:00 five days from now. Also, I have heard rumors that documents on a new bomb developed by the Geheimnis Agency were stolen by the Resistance during the uprising. I predict that will eventually resurface as a problem.

At 21:30, I left the Army Paris Branch where I met a woman and her child. They were the family of the Klein Panzer Kavalier lost in Bourgogne. When he learned we would be returning to Paris before long, he apparently called his family to Paris ahead of him. I gave them his uniform and medals and left without saying anything.

At 22:45, I returned to the factory next to the training ground and checked over the remains of the Sourire we found in Bourgogne. Various speculations bore fruit and I grew confident in my thoughts.

I also checked over the remains of Expert de Épée that we had secured yesterday.

A few intelligence agents were already there to investigate, but once I explained what had happened yesterday, it was time to actually investigate. We had to check Expert de Épée’s memory bank. The heavy damage from me using it as a shield in the end had left the Studio badly destroyed and Phillip Missel’s Ton was unrecoverable. But the memory bank remaining in the head preserved his final records. That was likely sent to the Resistance throughout Paris using a communicator. It contained the words of the man who put together the battle plan, saw through to my Panzer’s weakness, and fought to the end. Hearing that would be how the Resistance managed to keep fighting throughout.

His final moments came in the form of a cry for his comrades to fire and one other statement.

I will Verbesserung it here:

<Someone – anyone – please tell her…to keep fighting.>

He met his end immediately after that.

At 23:30, I left the training grounds.

I suspect my Psyche Outer device has been malfunctioning of late and my journal entries have grown longer ever since Normandy.

That has allowed me to understand the memory of that scream, but I still have a question. Who are that woman and girl in that photograph? I can guess they are my family, but I cannot remember anything about them or their funeral since such memories are not combat relevant.

I can guess that I chose to join the Panzer Ritter Project because of my scream, but that tells me nothing about them. What did their deaths give me?

My thoughts turn to the fact that Phillip Missel did not scream. He fought to the end without screaming, but he lost to me, who does not know how to scream. I conclude that battle was a close shave.

I won because of my greater experience, not because of a scream.

Which leads me to a question: what does it mean to be the strongest?

I erased my emotions to fight, yet someone caught up to me while retaining their emotions.

Without emotions, I cannot draw any conclusions there. I will now go to sleep.

July 30, 1944[edit]

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s First Entry[edit]

It is currently 2 AM.

Something good happened today. (Or would that be yesterday?) I plan to slowly describe it all here. First of all Lady Beretta woke up.

It was at around 10 at night I think. Mother Rose and I were cleaning up in the kitchen when Lady Beretta suddenly walked in. She was in her pajamas and she still looked half asleep. The tape to hold the IV in was still on her elbow and she held a letter in her other hand while standing there.

Mother Rose looked up in surprise and called Lady Beretta’s name.

Lady Beretta only stared silently at me. Mother Rose clicked her tongue and stood up when Lady Beretta did not react.

But I stood up faster and slapped Lady Beretta on the cheek.

It made a nice sound because I used my open palm. But I had to do it because Mother Rose had clenched her fist. My slap does a lot less damage.

And I decided Lady Beretta needed a blow that would wake her up not knock out her front teeth.

Both of them stared at me like they did not understand what had happened.

But Lady Beretta’s expression soon changed. She collapsed onto the table like her strings had been cut and she shouted many things while looking on the verge of tears. It was all about Sir Phillip. I cannot write here what she said. Because it is too important for her. But I will write that the shouted word “why” is still ringing in my ears.

It was Mother Rose who grabbed Lady Beretta’s shoulders and pulled her back up. Then she tightly hugged Lady Beretta who weakly struggled without shedding any tears and she spoke to her.

“Calm down Beretta. You are a mother now.”

That was a surprise. It must have been for Lady Beretta as well because she stopped struggling.

“I would like to double check that finding. And I will heal the fear Formule within you.”

Lady Beretta replied with a weak nod. Then we supported her on the way to the examination room and removed her clothing. She trembled naked on top of the examination table. Mother Rose worked to calm her by placing her Instrument’s blade against her body while saying many things.

She talked about when she met Lady Beretta’s father. She talked about when she became pregnant with Lady Beretta. She talked about when Lady Beretta had been born. And she talked about when they parted ways.

“I’m not sure how exactly to say this to you but as a mother I want you to be in top form for what is to come. That way you will not run away no matter what might happen.”

During all this she stuck her Instrument’s blade into Lady Beretta’s body and neutralized the fear Formule. Then she confirmed that Lady Beretta was pregnant. I could tell she was doing something more complex than when she checked over my body. The blade did not leave any kind of mark but Lady Beretta gasped and twisted her body at the feeling of having the blade inside her. I held down her legs and back.

At some point Mother Rose had finished talking. By the time sweat had appeared on Lady Beretta’s skin the examination was complete. The Formules of fear and exhaustion had been removed from her body and the examination confirmed that there was a child in her belly.

While she curled up on the sheet with an improved complexion Mother Rose punched her once in the head.

“That’s for disobeying your mother and getting pregnant out of wedlock.”

I was not sure what all that meant so I asked Mother Rose about it. She explained a lot of things to me in rather blunt terms. And she used Lady Beretta as an example for the explanations.

Lady Beretta did not like that and tried to stop her but that only led Mother Rose to pin her down and use her body as an example. After hearing all of that explained I realized my cheeks were hot. I think it must have embarrassed me.

But I noticed Mother Rose giving Lady Beretta an incredibly kind look throughout the explanations. It was a gentle look like she had left something important in Lady Beretta’s care.

Lady Beretta and I were released from the examination room – Mother Rose stayed behind saying she was going to write her journal entry – and we climbed the stairs to the second floor. That was when Lady Beretta said something to me.

“I want to stay here Rosetta.”

I was not sure what she meant but I nodded anyway. She told me many things. She told me about when we first met and about the school festival. She told me about Mother Rose and about my master and about Lady Mallette. She talked on and on and seemed to be enjoying herself so much.

City v05b 209.jpg

I realized I was like a mirror to her so I said something to her.

“You cannot forget about Sir Phillip can you?”

She immediately hugged me and wept while pressing her face into my shoulder.

She wept loudly. I have never before seen her cry like that. She did not even cry that loudly on the train here. But it did not surprise me. I may have known that is what it sounds like when she truly cries. I like to think so anyway.

I lightly placed my arms around her back and head and gently stroked her. She needed some time to stop crying. And after crying her eyes out she finally sneezed into my chest.

“Gweh. Sorry. You need to change now.”

She looked up to show her usual smile.

<In the distance I hear the loud roar of a beast. It may be the black dragon.>

I had not heard that for a while so why now? The roar scared me in a way it had not before.

But a lot happened including the dragon. Not all of it was good but a lot of it was happy. In the examination room I saw Mother Rose and Lady Beretta speaking together for the first time – even if they were both extremely tired.

Those two fight a lot but I think they understand each other well too.

Lady Beretta is currently sleeping in the other bed. She looks neither exhausted nor grim while sleeping.

<I see her sleeping wrapped in the blanket without anything in her hands.>

Is that because she was crying? Lady Rose said it can soothe people’s pain when they talk about that pain with someone. I hope I played that role for Lady Beretta.

I will go to sleep soon. I think we will return to Paris tomorrow.

<Again I hear a loud bestial roar. It does seem to be the black dragon.

As if answering that roar something bursts in the distance. A sound similar to gunfire continues for a while.>

Telegram from the German Combat Engineers Unit in Nevers: To All Units[edit]

Urgent: At 02:31, Unit 17 was attacked and obliterated by the black dragon while clearing the mountain pass. Defense Units 3, 11, and 13 are currently engaging. The situation is worsening. All defense units to the mountains.

<The black dragon roars and the earth tremors as if in response.>

Rose Francisca’s Journal[edit]

The black dragon has arrived. And I am alone in my secret room. This will be my last journal entry.

I can hear the dragon’s roars and the booming of artillery in the distance. I don’t even need to check. My Ajouter would be filled by the dragon and artillery, so I think I will write everything I can with my Signe.

I loaded Beretta and Rosetta onto the mayor’s truck earlier, but since the back of the truck was full as always, I had them climb onto the cabin’s roof.

I told them I would wait here since another truck would be along before long and I sent them off.

In truth, several trucks from people who live on the mountain have passed by in front of my house, but I entered this room to write this instead of waiting for them.

Everything is leaving the pre-established harmony. The prophecy calendar on the wall here has been entirely useless since the 20th. And I know exactly what that means.

It means France is changing.

In the past, our lives were thrown off track by a military project created here in Bourgogne. And now this very land is being thrown off track.

But this could become the truth. If Beretta becomes my daughter and she chooses liberation, this will become the truth of the world. This will become the new track and the world will become even more complex than it currently is outside of here.

I no longer have my prophecies, so I can only trust in her. I have done everything I must to do that. I acted as her mother, I removed her fear, and I healed her. That way she will not run away in the face of battle. That way she can travel the path she wants without doubting herself.

But does she want to liberate France?

If she does, she will surely realize how. According to M. Schrier, the outside world fears that liberation, so they have a list of forbidden actions taught to everyone entering France.

That list is the three conditions needed to liberate France:

1: Stop the Wort Bombe’s detonation.

2: Spread a spirit of liberation to a majority of the people within France.

3: Prove that completely closing oneself off is not possible.

The question is whether or not she will accept the third condition.

If she plays the role of the other Beretta to prove that, the rule against duplicate beings will cause the Beretta in the outside world to disappear as a fake. And the people in the outside world are not like the ones who have repeated the same year for 55 years in here. They really will disappear.

Only Monsieur Guilliaum and I know of this.

But depending on your point of view, that is a small price to pay.

By overwriting just the one life, the entire world can be corrected.

No revision of history could ever come so cheaply. There is nothing to mourn. The current world has much more to grieve.

The outside world is carrying the guilt of having abandoned us. Removing that weight would more than outweigh the sorrow of a single person. This is much like war. You can only choose the option that brings less damage. And unlike war, the person who realizes that fact can take responsibility for it.

That is enough. I have nothing more to write here. I will Ajouter now.

<The artillery fire has moved closer. I can hear it much more clearly.

The battle has crossed the mountain and approached Herlde.>

Not long now. This time, I received his letter from Beretta. I know more or less what it must say.

I am satisfied with that. As usual, I will perform my Correcteur ceremony and die. If France is liberated, my daughter will cease to exist. And my own death will be fixed in place and I will not live through another loop.

That is for the best.

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s Second Entry[edit]

I am currently in the plaza in front of Autun Station.

<I can hear the black dragon’s roar and the tremor of the earth in the distance.

Earthquakes are occurring intermittently. The only normal thing around us is the moon in the sky.>

It is all very noisy. I am writing this to help order my thoughts.

Earlier Lady Beretta returned to Herlde with the mayor. When a German soldier tried to stop them she argued with him and threw a kick until she was allowed to go. There are still a lot of people in Herlde – based on who has gathered in this plaza there are still around 30 people in the village – and the evacuation is not complete even after sending out the village’s five trucks.

The biggest problem for us is that Mother Rose was not on any of the trucks.

The German soldier said that the black dragon would be in Herlde within 20 minutes and that it would likely destroy the village. He tried to stop the mayor and Lady Beretta because he knew that. He said anyone who went to the village was unlikely to survive.

Everyone here seems to know that. Those with the trucks have been arguing for a while. They want to know if they should follow after the mayor or not but no one will give them an answer.

They do not want to die.

I understand that.

But Lady Beretta and the mayor went. And I am here. Lady Beretta explained why I should stay.

“We need to pick up as many people as possible so we need to head back with as few people as possible.”

That makes sense. She seems tired but she spoke very clearly when she said that. That is why I told her about Mother Rose’s secret room I discovered in the examination room before. I thought it might be a shelter for times like this. She looked surprised but nodded and left.

<The villagers’ argument is growing more heated again. The people of Autun are joining in now.>

They do not seem able to reach an answer.

If they go they might die. But if they do not go we are sure to survive. When pressured to choose one or the other they end up arguing. And the German soldier who tried to stop Lady Beretta is standing in a corner of the plaza lost in thought. Earlier after he saw those two leave he said something to me.

“That black dragon is enraged because our unit badly injured it. It uses its rage to overcome its grudge and its duty is to eat people.”

He sounded like he had given up all hope but even he is thinking about something now.

Everyone else continues their argument.

They cannot find an answer.

But I feel like I have found the answer. And to be sure of that I need Lady Beretta’s help and the others’ help.

But I am not sure if I should say it out loud.

Maybe I should ask that German soldier how long until he thinks the dragon will arrive in Herlde.

If we can arrive in time, there is something I need to tell Lady Beretta.

There is one thing she is wrong about.

Beretta’s Journal[edit]

She tricked me! Damn, the earthquakes haven’t stopped and the clinic has mostly collapsed. I found Rose Francisca in the hidden room just like Rosetta said I would. She is lying in the mayor’s truck in front of the clinic while we wait for the others to load in so we can head back.

But they might not make it in time. I saw light from the black dragon’s Word Particle Cannon only 3 miles away from the village. The occasional artillery fire I hear must mean the Germans are still fighting back nearby. But that will only last a few more minutes.

Will we make it in time?

I have a lot of reasons to worry. Especially because Rose Francisca got me good at the very end there. She was trying to take her own life in that hidden room. She lay collapsed on the bloody floor of the half-collapsed room, so I dragged her out and bound her wrist to stop the bleeding. But it wasn’t good enough. I didn’t really know what I was doing and I couldn’t fully stop the bleeding. Tying my scarf around her wrist only got the scarf soaked with blood.

I should have brought Rosetta with me.

I can’t believe this.

What in the world am I doing?

Phillip is dead and I’m feeling down, so how did I get caught up in all this? There’s something wrong with this. I mean, wasn’t the dragon attack supposed to happen on August 3?

What is going on?

The only thing I managed to get out of the clinic was Jack McWild’s letter I gave her. It was unopened.

What does that mean? Why did she want to die? Did she think we wouldn’t come back to save her? If so – if that really is why – it might mean she doesn’t trust me as her daughter. A Knight Striker is supposed to protect people. I want to believe it was because they fought or because they had been apart for more than a decade. I want to believe it wasn’t anything I did.

<Rose Francisca is breathing shallowly, but her breaths are gradually growing further apart. She is still bleeding.>

I touch her forehead.

<Her skin feels so cold.>

I can’t let her die. If I placed my coat over her and held her, would it help keep her warm? No, this is due to the blood loss, so that wouldn’t help. I don’t know what to do at times like this.

<The black dragon roars and I hear an explosion.>

The German army was just defeated.

Damn.

This is just like that earthquake, isn’t it? There’s nothing we can do. We can only wait and see if our luck holds out or if we die. Does that mean we’ll die here, myself included?

How lame. Really, why did I come running here?

<Two lights are approaching from the road leading to Autun.

They are headlights.

But they are far larger than the headlights of the village trucks.>

What is going on?

<While I watch, it approaches and comes to a rapid stop right in front of me.

It is a large trailer truck.

It’s the one carrying Sourire. The driver’s side door opens and the German soldier I argued with earlier hops out and speaks to me.

“I have brought a Grösse Panzer capable of stopping the dragon. Climb in.”

Then the passenger side door opens and a girl steps out.>

It is Rosetta. I know it is. Who else could it be? But why?

<She smiles in the moonlight and speaks over the dragon’s roar.

“This is just how it works sometimes. Right, Lady Beretta?”

And as if to continue from there, more lights arrive from the direction the trailer truck came from. Those are Herlde’s trucks. But they are not alone. I can see vehicles from Autun as well.>

What kind of magic am I witnessing here?

Well, for now, I need to leave Rose Francisca with Rosetta.


Chapter 19: Dragon[edit]

City v05b 219.jpg

07/30/1944



I’m an idiot

I can never make up my mind

July 30, 1944[edit]

Autun Police Station Telegram: To the German Army South France Branch[edit]

Urgent.

On our authority, we have taken in 291 of Herlde’s 323 residents. We are working to rescue the rest. Once they are all together, we will begin evacuating them along the mountain pass. One severe injury. They were bleeding badly and are receiving intensive care in the hospital.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Sourire’s Memory Bank[edit]

<You can never understand how huge that black dragon is until he’s standing right in front of you.

His face alone is nearly 20 yards tall and he’s charging toward me while knocking trees down. The collisions with the trees injure his scaly black skin, but he instantly regenerates and heals.

All the research books I’ve seen say dragons are the strongest creatures and I have got to agree with them.>

Crap!! I’ve gotta dodge this.

I jump into the mountain. Sourire stands 9 yards tall, so the trees are on obstacle for me as well. But since the trees also slow down the dragon, the pressure is far less than if I were running along the road.

I’m running while down below the canopy of threes. And I jump from time to time.

<Conifer leaves scatter as Sourire soars up into the moonlit night sky.

The black dragon’s face is so close behind me I could swear he was within arm’s reach.>

I twist my body partway around in midair and fire homing shots from the six divine cannons on my back.

<The soaring projectiles are metal arrows that require the least amount of emotion to fire.>

I don’t check if they hit. With an opponent this big, there’s no way I can miss. My accuracy has got to be 100%. Instead of watching that in satisfaction, I need to make sure I hit the ground running.

<I land in the forest.>

Hell, yeah. Time to run. I have pretty nice legs, if I say so myself. Both ability-wise and appearance-wise.

<The leaves rustle to my right.>

Did the black dragon’s foreleg drop down there? Looks like he’s trying to divert me to the left.

But I continue going straight. This way takes me to Herlde’s mountain road and the small shrine at the top of the mountain. That shrine produces a sound outside of the audible range for humans, but the dragon hates it. This should be a little easier if I can get within range of that.

Come to think of it, we could have just evacuated the villagers there. Why did the mayor send them to Autun instead?

<Trees fall to my right in a chain reaction. One knocks over the next, like dominoes.

One of them falls out head of Sourire to block my path.>

It’s in the way, so I prepare the spear in my right hand while I run and thrust it out to the front with a twisting motion. I get a powerful blow in on the trunk while it’s still falling.

<The large tree splinters through the air from the spear strike. I hear that along with the black dragon inhaling behind me.

Within the intermittent but never-ending song of booming footsteps and snapping trees, the raw sound of inhalation sounds much longer, heavier, and more powerful than everything else, filling me with tension.>

Damn. And I might have been able to do something if I could use the Over Emblem.

This Write Bring is incomplete. It might be due to the child in my- no, blaming this on someone else won’t help anything.

The biggest problem is that…yes, I’ve grown indecisive when it comes to Heavy Barrels…no, when it comes to fighting.

I am lacking something and that something is needed to make the final decision here.

Would self-confidence be the best word for it?

Without that, I want to do something but I don’t know if I should.

I want to scream.

<I can see the scene behind me in my wide-range vision.

The black dragon is running like a wolf while felling the forest’s trees and pursuing me.

The shape of his mouth would best be described as a smile.>

Are you enjoying this!?

Is pursuing your prey fun? Oh, that’s right. You can fly, but you’re making a point of chasing me on foot.

But why don’t you slaughter me with a single attack?

I kind of get it. You lost to Sourire once before. That’s it, isn’t it!?

<After breathing in, the dragon closes his mouth.

He curls his back a bit while running, raising his wings and the horn-like fins on his back.

The ends of the black wings and fins glow with a white light.

That is the light of his Dragon Particle Cannon.>

Geh.

<White light surges toward heaven from the wings and hundreds of fins on his back. The hundreds of white curves rip through the dark night as individual destructive lights. They ascend, curve around, and will finally fall.>

Just like my six divine cannons, huh? Damn, I can’t escape this while inside the forest.

I run. I sprint.

But my legs are heavier than I imagined.

My emotions and willpower are not enough. The Heavy Barrel draws out its power in response to my emotions and it is the strength of my willpower that determines if I can control that. Simply yelling isn’t enough, but simply remaining calm isn’t enough either. Those were the two tricks to piloting a Heavy Barrel, but I wasn’t handling either one well right now.

<A downpour of light plummets from high in the sky.>

Dammit, no one told me he could fire so many at once.

This thing is way more powerful than the rumors said. I was going to have to jump for it, even though that was a gamble. I crouched down for a split-second and then performed a huge leap to accelerate myself outside the range of destruction.

I jumped.

<I soar through the empty air.

The light explodes on impact behind me and the ground shines as bright as the sun.

The cacophony never seems to end as it roars on and on like a waterfall. The dragon continues running while absorbing all of the hits to himself to make the light part of himself once more. His silhouette stands out in the backlight from the ground and then he rises up into the night sky so the moonlight shines behind him.

He roars and inhales.

Time for a second Dragon Particle Cannon.>

I had a feeling!

<The next inhalation only takes a moment. He takes aim at airborne Sourire and opens his mouth wide.

Then he fires. The light is thicker than a standard Dragon Particle Cannon to make sure he slays his prey. That makes the light less dense, but it is spread out enough to envelop even a small enemy.>

I’m not letting this happen. I fire only the right ones of the six divine cannons on my back. Then I twist around.

<The firing and recoil of the divine cannons alters airborne Sourire’s course similar to a blow from the side. But I’m knocked out of my midair position.

A moment later, I hear the sound of sizzling air while the dispersed Dragon Particle Cannon grazes Sourire’s foot.>

Ow, ow. That feels just like stubbing my little toe, but I’ll manage. I can adjust my attitude to land on my feet. Just like I did when jumping into the old man’s courtyard and when I jumped over Phillip’s shoulder.

I twist around to bring my legs below me and place my center of gravity below my hips.

<But the movement is insufficient.>

Oh, no! Is my willpower really not enough!?

<Sourire lands while tilted slightly sideways from fully upright. My momentum knocks down a few trees while I roll on out of the forest and stop on the mountain road.

But that road is no longer a road.

The collapse from the multiple earthquakes caused the road itself to slide down into the forest below, creating a ravine instead. This explains why the mayor did not choose to bring the people to the mountaintop shrine.>

I was tricked! Wait, but by who? No, this isn’t the time for that. I need to get up and start running or that dragon-

<Something casts a shadow from the moonlight in the sky.

Something enormous passes by overhead, shaking the atmosphere enough to produce a rumbling. It lands awfully slowly about 30 yards ahead of Sourire.

That giant form is the black dragon. The force of its landing causes more of the ground to collapse and slide down.>

I’m screwed. He knew this road was out and he chased me here.

Oh, no. This is bad in more ways than one. Like, really bad. And the worst part is that I might die, which would mean-

<The black dragon advances while kicking up his right leg.>

I raise my shield and brace for impact!!

<The attack did not provide much pain for the intensity of the blow. This great weight – the 20 tons of a Heavy Barrel – is somewhat softly and rapidly accelerated at the instant of impact and blown away in the name of inertia.

The next thing I know, Sourire is airborne.

Sourire flies in a parabolic arc and the dragon opens his mouth and aims for it.

I do not sense a Dragon Particle Cannon. It tries to smash me with those rows of yellow fangs instead.

But that never happens. The mountain road crumbles further below his feet.

He staggers and I see white smoke rising from below him. That is the gas that burned down the inn.

Sourire continues flying toward the village’s entrance.>

Heavy Barrel Sourire’s System Message[edit]

Medium impact. Damage confirmed.

Sensors: Undamaged. Will be restored after format.

Skeletal system: Medium damage to left arm, light damage to right leg, both in need of repairs.

Power system: Minor damage.

Fuel system: Extra Tank 2 damaged.

Cooling system: Undamaged.

Support equipment: Starboard divine cannons damaged, only the 3 to port are usable.

Over Emblem: No damage beyond injured areas, not ready for activation due to Write Bringer’s emotional instability.

Summary: Combat mobility is possible, approving continuation of combat.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Sourire’s Memory Bank[edit]

Continuation of combat? Don’t be dumb. I can see a bit of the night sky and forest, but I still can’t move. Where am I? Based on the moon’s location, I’m guessing near Herlde’s entrance.

Damn, I can’t move. Does that mean I’m a poor match for this girl? Yes, it feels like I’m some fool who keeps saying I’ll do stuff but can’t actually bring myself to do it.

Ha ha ha. But maybe I should have expected this. I’m an idiot and I can never make up my mind.

<I hear something. They’re large footsteps. The ground shakes as something slowly, slowly approaches.>

It’s the black dragon.

I can’t believe this. That thing sure is persistent. Guess that means I can’t just stay here on the ground. He has enough of a grudge against this girl to come back and pick a fight with her while she’s weakened, so this is going to be bad.

<The bottom of my vision sees a truck’s headlights moving in the forest.>

At that distance, the truck must be over toward Autun. If that’s the last one, they’ll reach Autun and begin the evacuation in three minutes or so. I need to keep fighting that long. But unfortunately, I can’t move.

Damn, is this what it’s like to die? How was it for Phillip? Did the fear overpower his willpower like when I screamed during the earthquake?

None of this feels remotely real. Is this what people mean when they say death happens far too suddenly? Was this what it felt like to die for the 4000 Allied soldiers who lost their lives at Normandy?

<The footsteps stop. I hear the deep roar of some great beast rumbling from below my feet.>

The damn thing is rejoicing in his triumph. Meanwhile, I’m half buried in the dirt at a horizontal angle, so-

<“Lady Beretta!? Can you hear me!?”>

What!?

<“Lady Beretta! This is Rosetta. I am inside the small room on your back, but can you hear me? If you can hear this, then stand up. Please!”>

Hold on, wait, what are you doing? And I can’t get up when my body won’t mo-

<“Oh, no. Lady Beretta isn’t answering. Does that mean she has gone crazy again?”>

“What do you mean again!? Don’t just make stuff up!”

Oh, my vocal device is working. I should limit this to just the secondary cockpit.

“What are you doing, Rosetta? Didn’t you evacuate?”

<“I was certain you would defeat the dragon, so I was waiting at the village’s entrance for you to return. Then I saw you flying through the sky toward me. Thinking you were finally returning, I brought our luggage with me.”>

I wasn’t flying; I was sent flying! Huh, this is weirdly relax- wait, now is not the time!!

<The dragon’s face moves into view.>

“You need to get out of there, Rosetta! This girl takes more than three minutes to cancel the Write Bring! If you wait for that, you’ll be killed along with me!”

<The dragon crouches down a bit and then extends his head.

A face far larger than the Heavy Barrel approaches and tilts somewhat.

His yellow eye fills my vision.

His damp breaths are the only thing my auditory devices can hear.

“I will not die, Lady Beretta. Because I know you will protect me.”>

Agh, she’s not listening. Do I need to get after her over this?

“You idiot! Sometimes there are things I just can’t do!! So forget about me and run away!!”

<“Is sacrificing yourself to save me really the most satisfying answer?”

The giant pupil at the center of the yellow eye narrows down to focus on me.

He is determining what exactly his prey is.

After a breath, a clear nictitating membrane blinks to help observe me.

“Don’t you think it is wrong that someone must become sad for someone else to be happy?”>

“…”

<“This is…something that you taught me.”

The dragon takes a single deeper breath. He has apparently finished observing his prey. The muscles around the eye move and the scaly skin bends to narrow the eye and place an expression on the great beast’s face.

Then he slowly raises his head.

He prepares to deliver the finishing blow.>

“Hey, Rosetta. Can I ask one thing?”

<“What is it?”>

“What if…what if seeing this dragon right in front of me makes me scream and give up fighting?”

<“That will not happen.”>

“How can you be so sure?”

<“Because you have always been a true Lourd de Écrivain.”

The dragon quietly opens his jaws and slaver drips from his mouth and fangs like rain and lands all around me. This must have stimulated his hunger.

He rapidly lowers his head. He’s fast.

His fangs move in close, but I hear a voice just beforehand.

“No matter what you might think, that is what I will Ajouter.”>

Heavy Barrel Sourire’s System Message[edit]

The Write Bringer’s willpower has grown stronger. Preparing the Barrel’s willpower response.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Sourire’s Memory Bank[edit]

Yes!!

Strength fills my fingertips. I can even feel the slight armor attached to the ends of the nails.

I can do this. I clench my fist and find my spear there. I grab it and move.

The enemy is right in front of me. I can’t miss!!

<While standing up, I swing my spear up with all my might, scoring a solid blow to the side of the dragon’s giant canine tooth, breaking it.

With a great noise, the fang flies through the air and the dragon’s head changes course as if pursuing the broken tooth.

His face drops down next to Sourire with enough force to shake the ground and scatter clumps of dirt.>

Whew, that was exciting. And you got my combat dress all dirty, you moron.

I need to stand up. Where’s my shield?

<It is still in my left hand.>

Okay, let’s do this.

Rosetta was right. I am a Knight Striker.

I might be weak, but I still want to protect someone.

That willpower is what I need, so it allows me to move. I’ll never accomplish anything sitting there worrying over whether I win or lose without actually doing anything about it.

Knight Strikers protect people; they don’t worry over whether or not they can protect people.

So I need to move. I need to find my answers. What does it mean to protect people? What is the strongest power for me? I need to figure that out.

<My vision rises up all at once.

We are now at the site of the burned-down inn. That means the dragon knocked us nearly 400 yards away.

But the Barrel is almost entirely functional and the power output has even risen somewhat.

The engine roars as it bathes in moonlight.

The dragon responds to that noise by rising up to our left and opening his eye wide.

His black pupil focuses in on us and his forehead wrinkles in a very human way.>

Okay, okay. We’re not getting any recovery time. Time to start fighting again.

At the very least, I’m not about to lose to you and die.

First, I’ve gotta stop you and protect the people of Bourgogne.

“Rosetta, keep a solid grip on the luggage and sit in the cushion-like thing at the center of the secondary cockpit. That’s actually the nicest component of this Barrel.”

<“Sorry. All this movement made your stripped-off skirt-”>

“Just sit down. I’ll also apply some inertial damping, so just sit still.”

I started running without waiting for a response. The Heavy Barrel was moving differently from before. But of course it was. I felt a world of difference in myself compared to about 10 seconds ago.

<A few paces bring me to the road.>

Running down that road will bring me to that mountaintop shrine.

That’s fine. I want to buy some time and the forest isn’t the best place for some intense fighting. I can’t think of any reason to stop running now.

<The dragon runs alongside me in the forest on the left. He knocks down the trees, sending them toward the road.>

Really!? Those are gonna be in the way! I’ll fire the three surviving divine cannons on the left side!

I need to hit those falling trees!

<My shouting willpower becomes flaming arrows that express my rage. They produce a solid sound as they are fired.

They fly in a slight curve and crash into the rapidly falling trees. The trees are instantly burned to ashes.>

I splinter them with a shield bash and keep going while raising my speed.

In my mind, I can run even faster than this. I trained my body a lot living in Herlde. No matter how stingy and harsh reality could be, it was bound to throw me at least a small bone.

I move forward and think.

I wonder how much power I have right now.

<Sourire runs faster than the dragon. The wire cylinder legs were said to be overpowered during development, but they are giving me exactly the power I need now.>

I can do this! I can!! What was wrong with me before? Just look how well I can use a Heavy Barrel.

<I feel my armor slicing through the night air.>

That reminds me of how I could feel the rain while piloting Protected Empress. No, it had always been that way. I’m just aware of it now. Now I know exactly what it means to Write Bring into a Heavy Barrel. It’s no longer just some vague idea.

I run.

I can feel that action alone directly linking my body, my willpower, and my emotions to the machine.

My emotions explode, my willpower sharpens it, and I can’t stop. The Heavy Barrel uses that strength and sharpness to decide how much of its power it can give me.

<The dragon changes course. He bursts out onto the road behind me.>

That won’t cut it. Flying is the only way you can catch up to me.

<The previous collapse is visible on the far end of the mountain road.

As soon as the dragon sees that, he spreads his wings.

And he flies.>

Are you going to do the same thing as before!?

Fine. You don’t own the sky. My willpower and emotions are strong.

Let’s do this, HLT-001X XX-HL Mk. II – Sourire. I don’t know if you can repeat what you did when you fought off this black dragon before, but I’ll show you my full power. So you do the same for me, okay? If you were built to protect people and if you were given the strongest power to do that…

“Armor Transformation: Normal Mode → Full Power Attack Mode – Sign.”

I shift the power output mode to max.

“Power system entering full power mode – Sign.”

I further open up the part of the power system used for attacks.

“Full Drive ready – Sign.”

Ether light emerges from my entire body, even over the combat dress. I am ready to enter Full Drive mode.

Sourire’s Over Emblem is Haute Ange. That was created during the Age of Flight and it allows the Heavy Barrel to fly.

So I imagine it.

I strongly and sharply imagine impressive wings blossoming from my back and me soaring up into the sky.

I imagine myself holding the greatest power I can think of.

If there is anything more to say, it has to be this.

Begin Full Drive of all armaments and all abilities to respond to this enemy attack. Begin counterattack.

“Beginning Full Drive activation – Sign.”

Heavy Barrel Sourire’s System Message[edit]

The thought connection with the Write Bringer was severed for 0.0002 seconds to enter Full Drive.

Reconnecting.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Sourire’s Memory Bank[edit]

City v05b 237.jpg

<My entire body has been transformed by solidified ether.

The joints are still wire cylinders at their base, but they now look like a sculpture. The arms and torso have become skin-like armor with feminine curves and that armor shines as it grows soft to respond to the movements required of it.

The face still has the same base facial devices, but it now looks like a slender-faced woman and hair has grown out behind it.

And that is not all. Ether was emitted as if enveloping the secondary cockpit, extra fuel tanks, and divine cannons on the back and that transforms into two giant wings. Those offensive wings are meant to beat the air and give me flight.>

The transformation only took an instant. My emotions and willpower burned for that brief moment.

<The female angel runs through the Bourgogne forest while looking up into the sky, placing the moon in her vision, and opening her mouth to unleash a cry.

The high-pitched and clear cry spreads out through the vast empty space known as the sky.

As if in response, the dragon roars while flying up above her.>

Ha ha ha. Trying to fight back!? This is the form that beat you before, isn’t it?

With the Over Emblem fully active, my power output increased a dozen-fold and the machine took control. As I sharpened my runaway imagination, the machine would take that imagination in as its own mind and use it to power its own movements.

The human imagination and the machine’s full power have fused together. We can actually fight the dragon like this.

Time to fly.

Once I’m up there, I can decide what it is I want to do with this power to protect. What should I do if I’m going to protect as many people as possible?

<“L-Lady Beretta, I can’t see anything outside.>”

“Sorry, but the secondary cockpit is going to stay like that. We’re about to fly.”

<“Eh?”>

I heard something like a sob, but I ignored it. Sorry. She would be fine no matter what I did as long as she was in that seat.

I spread my wings in the wind.

<The wings are shaped somewhat oddly.

Sourire’s specs say it should have a double wing on either side.

But for some reason, one side has five wings, some of them smaller.

What does that mean? Was the Over Emblem remade?

But that’s fine. I can fly all the same and it’s gotta mean that I’m the strongest. The wing shape was the same as the deformed double wings often seen with Non-Fallen Angels (or Disdemons as some people call them) and I knew how they flew.

The vertically-split wings had to be raised up until they were fully open and then closed again to beat at the air and launch yourself up into the sky.

<My wings are currently fully open.>

I run. My heavy feet kick up the dirt and carry my body forward. I can feel the wind on my body and my wings.

While Signing my imagination, I change the angle of my wings to satisfy myself and to fly. My passage disturbs the flow of air and it swirls around behind me. That forms a mass of air and a wall.

That wall of air forms behind me as I run and I slam my wings into it.

<My body starts to float.>

I kick off the ground to assist it.

I imagine my willpower higher and my emotions sharper to take myself toward he moon.

I fly!!

<After a short time lag, the air explodes and the forest’s trees are blown away.

With a soaring sound, the female angel flies up into the sky.>

<“L-Lady Beretta, did we just…?”>

Ha ha ha. You’ll have to stick to your imagination.

<I tear through the air and ascend.

Bourgogne’s forest and mountains shine bluish-white in the moonlight below me.

I see the horizon in the distance and I can see the lights of some village or another there.

After a mere three flaps of my wings, I am high enough to look down on the dragon.

I spread my wings further to stop myself in midair with the moon behind me.>

The moonlight is beautiful. The Over Emblem ether reacts to the bluish-white light by shining even brighter.

<The high-altitude wind blows through.>

My entire body is tense. I can feel the wind flowing between each and every feather on my wings.

I know now what I want to use his power to do. I had found so many reasons to deny it before, but this was my one desire.

“I want to liberate France.”

I had gained so much here. I don’t want to make Phillip a lie and I want my child to live in this era – in this France.

There are sure to be problems, but I can think about those later.

I’ve decided now that I will liberate this place.

I will make it all real so no one must feel any regrets.

And the first thing I must do is fulfill one of my duties as a Knight Striker.

I ready my spear in my right hand and my shield in my left.

“Device – Heavenly King Mk. III – Third Evolved Form – Syncing for Full Activation – Sign.”

Again, what is this about evolving? Meh, it doesn’t matter.

<The Device spear in my right hand glows.

The Over Emblem engraved into the Device itself syncs with the Barrel and activates.

The ether surrounding the spear emits light while spiraling around and taking the form it desires.

That form is a giant glowing spear measuring more than 30 yards long.>

I swing its shaft around in one hand, stop it, and check how it feels.

<It is light but has a solid weight in my hand.

Light similarly envelops the shield. It seems to grow thicker but lighter.>

This will work. This is pretty much ideal. The shield feels nice too, so I can put up a real fight.

<The black dragon’s entire body glows down below.

He is using his multiple Dragon Particle Cannon.>

All right, then. I’ll show you how a spear user like me attacks.

With a flap of my wings, I flip upside down in midair.

Then I raise my spear in front of my face and stick the spear strongly out from the side of that. This is the perfect assault form of a spear user. Now I only have to move forward.

<Sourire enters free fall. The female angel uses the gravitational acceleration to fall from that great height.

For more speed, I powerfully strike the air with my wings.

I accelerate swiftly, strongly, and sharply forwards.

<In an instant, an explosion of water vapor appears at the tip of the spear.>

I’ve broken the sound barrier.

<The dragon’s multiple Dragon Particle Cannon flies up into the heavens.

Sourire slips through the gaps. A few graze me or strike the shield, but my speed does not drop. I charge down with even more speed and weight. White clouds trail behind the tip of the spear and the points of my wings and shield.

Those are vapor trails.

The light of the Dragon Particle Cannon disappears behind me. I broke through the barrage.

That just leaves the moonlight, the dragon, and my attack.>

Gooooooooooo!!

<The dragon has closed its jaws and Sourire does not attack his head. Instead, the Barrel pierces his two wings.

A scream immediately erupts from him.>

I perform some attitude control just before colliding with the ground.

I flap hard and flip around in midair like I was repelled by something. That avoids a crash into the ground.

My vision spins around.

I see the sky, the moon, the sky again, and then the forest below. I spread my legs and land.

<My feet are planted firmly on the ground within the forest. I do not slip, making it a successful landing.

A moment later, the dragon collapses over onto his side in front of me.

He knocks over the trees in the process and the shockwave from Sourire’s supersonic movement crashes into him.

The impact and the dragon’s scream sound in unison.>

That’s not enough. You’re still up for more, aren’t you?

<The dragon hops back up and immediately rushes in toward me without warning.>

I take flight. I soar gallantly into the sky behind me.

<The dragon jumps up as well. Without wings, he can only leap with bestial movements.

He opens his jaws toward airborne Sourire.>

Is he using that dispersed Dragon Particle Cannon?

I have one way of responding to that. I trust in Heavenly King Mk. III’s attack and flap forward.

<The light approaches.>

Let’s settle this, black dragon. Which is stronger, your light built from resentment or my light meant to protect people?

I charge in.

I move in the direction of my gaze. The result is found in an instant.

<Heavenly King Mk. III’s tip tears through the dispersed Dragon Particle Cannon’s light.

Light bursts out like spraying water and Sourire’s female angel form accelerates through while breaking the sound barrier.

In less than the span of a breath, the spear-equipped mass of attack power pierces the dragon’s head and bursts out the other side.

The dragon does not even scream as he falls. At this point, the center of the village is below us.

The female angel remains in the heavens while the dragon falls to earth.>

That is the finale. All of the people have probably been evacuated by now.

<Below, the dragon writhes around while releasing a breath that is not quite a scream. The fatal-looking wound through his head and the wounds to his wings are being regenerated by gathering the surrounding Lives.

His yellow eyes stare at Sourire up in the sky while he withes in pain.>

Are you still going to fight? But it’s already over. All that writhing is causing the village to collapse from your weight, revealing the crust below.

You must not know what has caused all these recent earthquakes. There is a large amount of pressurized flammable gas below Herlde and it is about to burst out to the surface.

The village has been gathering that up to use it as fuel, but when some people entered the village on trucks earlier, I asked them to reverse the process.

In other words, they’ll be sending air into the gas below the village.

<The dragon’s throat completes its regeneration and he roars once more.>

I really am thankful. I might have never figured this all out without you.

<The dragon opens his jaws toward me. I can see light in his mouth.>

Too late.

Prepare to fire divine cannons!

I imagine fire. Give me the red flames needed to burn it all away!!

<The wings on my back open up. The six divine cannons have apparently become a part of the wings.

At the same time, the dragon fires its Dragon Particle Cannon.>

Goodbye.


Chapter 20: Separation[edit]

City v05b 247.jpg

07/31/1944 – 08/05/1944



I think I will

Once more

Prepare to fight

July 31, 1944[edit]

German Army HQ Telegram: To the French Branches[edit]

Urgent.

Based on the reports received from you all, we have determined that armed uprisings and a great quantity of materiel transportation are rapidly occurring across France. A covert Allied unit may be working behind the scenes, so a military blockade must be immediately set up around France’s major cities, particular Paris, and defenses must be fortified. Our troops stationed in France must gather at those major cities and prepare to fight back. Some are attempting to exploit and requisition the local population, perhaps out of unease, but to preserve the order of our troops, that should be avoided unless specifically ordered to do so. Also, a document on a classified military project was stolen during the upheaval in Paris. Redouble your efforts to search out any Allied spies at every checkpoint.

Guilliaum’s Letter: To a Far Distant Friend[edit]

My friend, I feel like I have been using you as an outlet for my frustrations of late. Sorry.

The German Army is panicking and has placed Paris under martial law. That would explain all the transportation vehicles. They must want to do a very thorough job of locking down Paris.

A lot is happening in France right now. The Allies had been moving south from Normandy, but they suddenly decided to turn toward Germany and are moving toward Paris further to the north. Similarly, the Resistance cells in other regions are joining with the Allies and causing uprisings all over the country.

Our failure the other day seems to have actually ignited their spirits.

I somehow managed to contact Old Blue Eyes with the communicator.

His grandson Phillip was discovered to be a central figure in the uprising, so his mansion is apparently being closely watched by the Germans. He is effectively under house arrest until the Germans can regroup and perform a proper raid. He tried to sound cheerful about it all, but I could tell it was an act. I mean, once they raid his mansion, all his possessions will be confiscated and that’s the end for him. The Germans are only sticking with house arrest for now because we blew up the police station, destroying the holding cells in the process, and because he has the influence that comes with being the former Chevalier de Paris.

You know what that old man told me while looking down on the Germans from the second floor of his mansion – yes, from the very same dance hall we demonstrated our pathetic dance skills in so long ago?

“The Chevalier de Paris hasn’t given up yet. We may have lost the Expert de Épée, but I managed to obtain the Third Flame Emperor in the midst of it all. I will use that to have revenge.”

He said he had contacted the former Chevaliers of the other cities before the uprising began. He told them to gather their forces under the Royal Chevalier and begin fighting for France’s liberation if the liberation of Paris were to fail.

Also, one of his men managed to obtain a certain document during the uprising. It described a weapon secretly developed by Germany’s Geheimnis Agency. Yes, the very same Wort Bombe that Rose Francisca had mentioned. From what he sent me, it seems to still be in the prototype phase, but it could perhaps destroy all of France.

According to Rose Francisca, that is what destroys France’s Formule structure, allowing France to be enveloped by the Rondeau.

The old man said he would send me more information once he had the details in order. He apparently has a lot he wants to discuss, such as its timed fuse and how to defuse it. Basically, he seems to want to send me all the important information because he thinks I am bound to survive.

Just like Phillip, he always thinks about what happens if he loses too.

That must be what Rose Francisca mentioned about sacrifice.

The Allies are currently approaching Paris.

And just as Rose Francisca hoped, I have lost and experienced so many sacrifices, yet I still seek France’s liberation. So I think I will once more prepare to fight. I have a way to do so.

Yes, you worked so hard to erase the fact that we converted so many heroic minds into weapons, but I plan to admit to all our sins. I am prepared to say that old project should not be abandoned.

But all of this requires one horrible condition and it is not up to me.

You must know what I mean. You must after sending her to fight that black dragon before she was ready 25 years ago only to have her lose control. You must know all of the conditions must be fully met if we are to create the strongest Appareil through the Attesor Project.

If only she still lived, we could- no, forget that. I have Rosetta who might as well be her daughter and I must remain Rosetta’s guardian.

But that introduces a new problem. Rosetta and that girl have yet to return. Will they even be able to make it back with martial law in effect? Unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do unless they return.

I will now equip the Protected Empress with all of the exterior parts the Allies provided me.

The only weapons I have at home are that Lourd de Marionnette and the cheap Liberator handgun the Allies airdropped over the city. But that is enough.

I will settle everything once those two return.

If I do not, I doubt anything will change and France will once again be rolled back in the Primitif.

But is it even possible to break free of that pattern?

Goodbye.

August 1, 1944[edit]

Rosetta’s Journal[edit]

We are on the train to Paris. I believe it is around 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

This our first time to really relax in two days so I will use this time to write my journal entry.

First I will write about the day before yesterday. Early in the morning of July 30 Lady Beretta spent around an hour flying around after defeating the black dragon until finally crash landing in a vineyard in the mountains of Auxerre. She ended her Recréa and appeared from a closet-like box on the floor of the secondary cockpit. However she had passed out from exhaustion. I managed to carry her about a mile away from the Lourd de Marionnette before the sunrise. It took her a full day to recover.

I was glad I had brought her luggage – including a change of clothing.

She woke up late last night. She returned to the Lourd de Marionnette to try and Recréa into it again – I did not accompany her – but she returned after giving up because the spare fuel tank was almost entirely used up. She said the Excède Emblème – the transformation that let her fly and run really fast – burned through the fuel like crazy.

We discussed a great many things in the darkness last night.

What had happened to the people of Herlde. How far this vineyard was from the closest town. That I felt bad we could not return the Lourd de Marionnette to the Germans. Whether Mother Rose was okay or not. How we would get back into Paris. And more.

She thanked me once during it all. She remembered everything I had told her during the battle with the black dragon.

And she told me something else.

When we were in Herlde she had said there was something she had to tell me. She began that discussion by asking me a question.

“Rosetta. What if you had to kill someone? What would you do if you knew the only way to have what you wanted was to erase someone from this world?”

My answer was simple. A method requiring that must be wrong so you would need to come up with a method that allowed you to remain with that person.

She looked troubled when I said that but she also nodded in a satisfied way.

And she said something else.

“You see Rosetta. I think I want to liberate France…and to fight toward that end. But doing that might mean losing someone.”

“Can’t you think of some way to not lose them?”

“I can try. I didn’t make it in time for Phillip though. But I think I still can for her. I won’t give up and I’ll fight. Because I want to save her too.”

That seemed like the Lady Beretta I knew.

I had no idea what she was talking about but I will try to remember it. I asked her who that person was and she said they were a relative of hers back in America. When I asked if they were close to death due to some kind of disease she smiled a little and rubbed my head.

I was apparently reading too much into it.

We then ate some of the vineyard’s grapes for a late-night meal and walked throughout the night. We used the position of the moon to leave the mountains to the east and arrive in the city of Auxerre. Lady Beretta sold some grapes she had gathered in her coat without me noticing and used that money to buy train tickets. A lot happened.

<Right now Lady Beretta is jotting down some kind of notes in her own journal on the side table by the window. She is writing her own name and some names I do not recognize and joining them with lines while also writing down a lot of years and dates to make some kind of calculation.

But she must not like the results she is getting because she occasionally sighs.>

She seems to be worrying over something. But I am sure she will find an answer eventually. She always does.

She opened up to me. But. But there is one thing I have not told her. It is true I told her so much while inside that Lourd de Marionnette. I truly believed everything I said. But I was also afraid.

I was fine at first but I realized something upon hearing the dragon’s scream.

–I was inside a machine designed to bring harm.

From that moment until we crash landed I clutched Lady Beretta’s stripped-off clothing to my chest and trembled there in the secondary cockpit. Whenever she moved and beat down that dragon I would either hear it screaming or begging her to stop and I had to bite down on her sleeve to bear with it. She did not like the screams either but she thought they were necessary to protect us.

I do not know why it scared me so much.

I have felt like this in the past. Like when I thought about the blood while cooking and wondered what would happen if I cut my own hand with the knife. The difficulty breathing I felt then was very similar.

When Lady Beretta finally ended the Recréa I wept and held her unconscious body to me. I was so happy that she was no longer fighting and no longer part of that weapon. It was such a relief.

And when I carried her outside I screamed at the state of the Lourd de Marionnette I had been riding inside. I slumped to the ground with Lady Beretta in my arms. The Lourd de Marionnette that had been wielding that spear and soaring through the sky had its clothing torn and its cream color stained with dark blood.

Something about it made no sense to me.

Lady Beretta had managed to protect us by doing all that but she could not have known that would be the case until it was over. What was she thinking when she began to fight? Why was she so confident that fighting would have such a positive result?

It makes no sense to me how you can know an unseen result will be a positive thing.

If that is what it takes to protect people then I must not be able to protect anyone. Lady Beretta said some cool things and thanked me but I could not even say that and felt a mixture of guilt and satisfaction from her praise.

I was briefly glad that I am a Belle de Marionnette. I might be a machine but I can continue to evolve in accordance with my will and feelings. I am different from those weapons – such as the handgun that fell from the sky on the night of the Normandy landing operation – that have no will of their own and simply exist to kill people.

I cannot tell Lady Beretta how much of a relief that is.

She is so much better than me. She has the confidence to properly use such great power and I simply do not. Sir Phillip had that same ability. They are both so strong in a way I am not. During the school festival I wrote in my journal how much I hated simply being protected by her but now I am not so sure what to think.

Maybe I only exist to be protected. Maybe I am only a Belle de Marionnette which makes me less than them.

August 2, 1944[edit]

Message from the German Army Paris Branch: To the Other Branches[edit]

The uprising within Paris on July 29 is confirmed to be the work of a single Resistance cell hoping to liberate Paris. It was led by the Missel family, a former Chevalier de Paris family, and we fear their actions may influence the other Resistance cells or other former Chevaliers.

We will maintain martial law in Paris. We are unlikely to receive more combat engineers, so all units will work to clear the rubble and wreckage from the streets so the city can recover swiftly.

HQ is taking this seriously, so set up military blockades around all crucial points around France and work to shut down any Resistance forces. We will hurry to lock down Paris while preparing for the approaching Allied forces.

Starting today, we must be prepared for battle at any time.

Beretta’s Journal[edit]

It is 11 PM and I’m writing this in a vast field on the outskirts of Paris. We’re only a mile from Paris right now. This late at night, the moon provides the only light to see with. We’ve been living a pretty wild lifestyle lately.

The plan is to get about 4 hours of sleep and then enter Paris at 3 AM. Even the German patrols should be laxer at that early hour. I’ll take Rosetta to the mansion, but I need to figure out what to do after that.

<Rosetta rolls over under the blanket next to me.>

Sorry, Rosetta. I should really be taking better care of you, but I feel like I keep giving you a lot of work to do.

On that note, Rosetta has been awfully gloomy ever since we the train ride last night.

I know why: because she rode along in that Heavy Barrel. Seeing it soaked in blood afterwards must have been a shock. Also…yeah, we lost Mallette.

Last night, the train stopped in Fontainebleau. There was no train route taking us any closer to Paris than there. While trying to find a place to spend the night, I remembered that Mallette’s family home is there.

She had told me how to get there before, so we followed the maple-lined central street on and on into the mountains. After about two miles, we indeed found a large mansion in the woods.

We were concerned when we did not see any lights on and what must have happened became clear once we approached the entrance. I still remember the Point I made back then.

<I saw a trashed mansion. Almost all the windows were broken. What I had thought was gravel underfoot in the yard was actually shards of glass and what I had thought was the wind on my cheek was a tattered curtain.

The mansion was deserted and utterly destroyed.

The crest on the main entrance said it was indeed the Harculia home and a large Star of David had been painted on the door in a bright enough white to see clearly at night.>

Rosetta clung to me in fear of the wind blowing all around us, so I held her shoulders and explained what this meant. I explained that Mallette was Jewish and the Germans tended to take out their frustrations on the Jews when things were not going their way.

But this never happened to Mallette in the history I had been taught.

History really was changing. It wasn’t just Heinz Berge. If things were changing for Mallette too, then the Germans must have been feeling greater fear than they usually did at this time.

I checked inside the mansion – Rosetta was too afraid to follow me in – and found a tear-off desk calendar that told me when Mallette had been taken away.

It had happened on the 30th. The Germans must have done it as a way of striking back against the uprising in Paris. Too much time had passed to chase after her. There is only one way left to save her.

We have to end this war.

I can’t believe this. Mallette will return to her usual self once the Format happens, so why am I taking this so seriously?

But while speaking with Rosetta during the battle with the dragon, I realized I do want to liberate this world.

I won’t hesitate any longer. I have a pretty good idea how to liberate it. My presence is what is changing history, but that also means I can make this history real.

1. Stop the detonation of the Wort Bombe.

2. Spread a spirit of liberation to the majority of the people in France.

3. Prove that fully closing up the city is not possible.

#3 will be the most difficult one.

It’s true, if I become my grandma, that will mean someone from before the Format is here in France, thus proving that fully closing the city down isn’t possible. But that will make me a resident of this world and it will erase my grandma from history.

Starting last night, I wrote out my family tree and made some calculations based on when my grandma probably left France, but it didn’t work out.

If France is liberated, six billion people will have to redo the last 55 years of history, but that is hitting the rewind button, not the delete button. They should be able to redo things well enough. But my grandma and her son, my dad, will be erased.

I am performing a tricky tightrope walk here. Deciding whether or not I want liberation is the same as whether or not I can state with confidence who I am. Yet if I tilt the scales in that direction, my grandma and dad will be erased and I feel like I will cease to be myself. It’s a contradiction.

What am I supposed to do? I want to liberate this world, but I also want to save my grandma.

I keep worrying over this. Is that because I’m a mother now? Still, I have to give it serious thought.

I need the help of the Allies to liberate France. Both to stop the transport plane carrying the Wort Bombe and to provide the broadcast station needed for my words to reach all of France so I can inspire a spirit of liberation in the people and so I can claim to be my grandma.

That will be tricky, but I want to do it so badly.

I am carrying Phillip’s child inside of me and I want to raise that child in this era. As selfish as that is.

<Rosetta is groaning in her sleep. She may be having a nightmare.>

Sorry. We slept outside last night too since we were too afraid to stay in Mallette’s mansion. We borrowed this blanket from the mansion, but it still isn’t exactly comfortable.

<Rosetta rolls over in her sleep. She grabs onto my clothing and does not let go.

Something is scaring her, so she clings to me as if rubbing her cheek against me and refuses to let go.>

Hey, stop that, Rosetta. Since when did you become a sleep hugger?

Not that it matters. Maybe the child I’m carrying has got me thinking about these things more, but I know what to do here. If I hold her tight, she’s sure to feel better. She’ll be fine.

So it’s time to do just that and let my body rest. I doubt we’ll be getting much in the way of rest once we enter Paris.

August 3, 1944[edit]

Message from the German Army Paris Branch: To All Personnel[edit]

Urgent.

Starting today at 21:00, all special vehicle units will coordinate with the transport vehicle units to quickly complete the blockade of Paris according to the provided map. The Allies are approaching Paris and gathering the Resistance cells in each region they pass through. This is a dire situation. Any units that are free or off duty must gather and provide assistance. Any unidentified vehicles or individuals that approach while the blockade is being set up may be eliminated without providing a warning. We have been warned that it appears someone managed to enter Paris without passing through a checkpoint earlier today.

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s First Entry[edit]

We somehow managed to get back to the mansion. The sun has yet to rise. We arrived in the Châteaufort commune south of Paris only an hour ago and ran through the vineyards to reach the city. Once in the city we immediately made our way to the park in Mouton but the German soldiers heard our footsteps and chased after us. The Seine was not far past the park and crossing the Seine would take us to the Boulogne forest so Lady Beretta told me to run. I adjusted the bag on my back and began running as fast as I could.

We jumped into the Seine just as we heard a dog barking behind us. Our travel bags worked as floats as we crossed the 100-yard width of the river that smelled strongly of mud. Once on the other side we looked back to see lights moving around and hear a dog loudly barking where we had jumped in.

“We might’ve been caught if we were any slower.”

Lady Beretta’s comment told me just how much danger we had been in.

Once back at the mansion I opened the back door with the key hidden in the eaves and was greeted by the muzzle of a gun.

We had woken up my master and he thought it was a burglar.

I thought he was going to scold me but he laughed as soon as he shined his light on the two of us. We were both covered in mud from head to toe.

I started up the boiler and drew a bath and then took a bath with Lady Beretta.

We rapidly grew sleepy afterwards and we ended up sleeping in the same bed. She apparently wanted to ask my master what was happening in Paris but he told her to wait until the morning for that.

She is currently asleep next to me. I was tired too but I decided to stay up and write this first. I slept while holding onto her last night and she slept while holding me back. Does that mean I caught her habit of holding people in my sleep?

I know that habit is common in people who are worried about something and I do not want her to realize I am worried. So I think I can keep her from having to hold me back if I let her go to sleep first.

<The handgun left out on the bedside table gleams with a dull light.

The morning sun is slowly shining in through the window.>

That gun dropped from the sky during the Normandy landing operation. Unlike me that machine has no will of its own and solely exists to harm people. It must have been sitting there on the table for nearly two months now. Come to think of it I am also curious about the Lourd de Marionnette in the storeroom here.

There is a lot I want to check on tomorrow. And to clean. I also want to search for the ring Lady Beretta lost so I should probably get to sleep soon. My head kind of hurts. Only a little bit though.

Message from the German Army Paris Branch: To the Attesor Project Investigation Team[edit]

Report. At 16:00 two days from now, an Attesor Project investigation report meeting will be held in Conference Room 2 on Floor 3 of the branch office. It will take the form of a question and answer session, so come prepared.

Beretta’s Journal[edit]

It’s still morning, but a lot has already happened. Rosetta can’t move right now, so I need to write this for her sake.

She just had her first period. It sounds so simple when I write it like that and, in a way, it’s a happy thing, but the way she’s staying in bed doesn’t seem quite so happy.

We discovered it at around 9 this morning. I was sleeping quite comfortably when I was woken by a tap on my shoulder. I found Rosetta crying and looking to me.

“What am I supposed to do?” she said. “I think I might be dying.”

I pulled back the covers to see what this was about and found her curled up as if to hide something. I figured out why soon enough and I kind of regretted removing the covers. Well, I know she has the emotion of embarrassment at least.

I told her not to worry, gave her a hug, and then boiled some water in the kitchen. I made a few steamed towels and returned. I stuck the pillow under her back and wiped the blood from her legs while telling her what a period was and what it meant. Come to think of it, I had told her how to write and stuff like that, but never anything like this. This evolution was probably the result of hearing all the talk about my pregnancy in Bourgogne. She had not even evolved genitals before, so this was a big change.

Does this mean she wants to be a mother too, even if only on a subconscious level?

These evolutions are the result of a powerful thoughts after all.

All the blood seemed to have scared her a lot, so she remained very pale and dazed as I helped her change – I know now isn’t the time, but man does she have the ideal body – and asked where the spare bedding was so I could change that.

When I went to report this to the old man, he wasn’t in his room and I found him performing maintenance on Protected Empress’s parts in the storeroom. Unsurprisingly, an old man like him didn’t have any medicine for menstrual pain on hand, so I had to grab some headache medicine instead. I whipped up a light soup in the kitchen before returning to her.

“Was it like this for you too, Lady Beretta?”

“Unfortunately, I don’t really remember.”

This was probably how it usually worked, but no one had ever taught her about it and she so hated hurting people that finding herself bleeding must have been terrifying.

She had a desire to help people, but she wasn’t used to hurting others or being hurt by others.

The thought of her freaking out like this at the start of every month was kind of amusing or even adorable…but I guess it won’t happen again if she’s Formatted. I can’t hope for anything yet.

She’s sleeping in front of me right now. The old man popped by real quick but he left it all in my care and went back to the maintenance work. I wonder what he’s planning to do with Protected Empress. Is he going to give it to the Resistance? Regardless, I’m going to ask him what happened in Paris later today. I hate how carefree he seems living his reclusive life holed up in this mansion.

Rosetta started off groaning in her sleep and grabbing at the edge of the blanket, but she calmed down once I held her hand. Once she calmed down enough, I could let go without issue. I feel like this is a reversal of our previous roles since I had her do that for me in the past.

That might mean she’s going to end up like me.

Or maybe that’s the wishful thinking of a conceited young woman.

I’m honestly pretty satisfied just seeing her sleeping so peacefully in that soft blanket pillow. It makes me want to do the same thing.

<I hear something like radio static. It plays intermittently and is followed by a rapid typing sound.>

Does this mansion even have a radio?

Jean Missel’s Telegram: To Guilliaum[edit]

Urgent.

It is nearly time. They are parking several trucks in front of my home. They must intend to arrest me and raid my home in the name of “questioning” me and “requisitioning” my possessions. It is all in your hands now. I cannot allow myself to be captured, so it is time I fled. I will transmit the details of the Wort Bombe immediately after this telegram. Memorize it all so you know everything there is to know about it. And if the girl who was essentially my grandson’s wife visits you, tell her to visit my home. I have something to give her.

Jean Missel’s Wort Bombe Telegram: To Guilliaum[edit]

The Wort Bombe is the ultimate bomb which triggers a chain reaction of Formule collapse over a wide area by compressing and detonating the Yin Formules that cause Formules to change. But it is incomplete and the one currently in Paris is structured identically to an existing timed trigger bomb. Also, the Formule change cannot be controlled by whoever detonates the bomb. It instead responds to the willpower of the people and other forms of life in the area covered by the chain reaction. In other words, if it is detonated while the people of France are overcome by despair, all of France will be transformed by despair – although I have no idea what that would mean. But that leaves another possibility too. If the people of France instead hope for happiness, France will be transformed by happi- oh, I have to cut this short. The Germans are coming. Goodbye.

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

At 09:25, I arrived at Paris’s general hospital.

At 14:32, the replacement of my left leg was complete. I left the hospital and arrived at the German Army Paris Branch at 15:21. The building’s repairs were underway, so there was no more rubble or wreckage on the outside. The intelligence division informed me I was summoned to a meeting the day after tomorrow.

They also asked for my view on locking down all information in Paris, so I urged them to fortify the blockade along the rivers and forested areas as strategic openings can develop there more easily. I also told them it was most realistic to maintain the blockade at a radius of 6 miles out from the center of Paris.

At 16:27, I began searching through the documents on the previous war. I searched for the name of the prisoner I took after battling that Attesor Project Grösse Panzer. At 19:35, that name leaped out at me from the page and the memories flooded back. Guilliaum Balleroy. That Panzer Kavalier served as commander of France’s 0th Grösse Panzer Brigade for the first two years of the war and was treated as a hero by France, yet he suddenly vanished without a trace. He was the one in that Grösse Panzer’s secondary cockpit.

At 20:15, I once more left for the German Army Paris Branch. I gathered information on the Balleroy family in the intelligence division. The citizen data told me he had lost a leg and had hired a Sein Frau. I asked to personally visit the Balleroy residence for an inspection as soon as I had permission.

At 22:52, I arrived at the barracks. I discovered some flowers on my desk. They were four o’clock flowers. My aide happened to be passing by and I asked him what they were doing there. Apparently, the family of that Klein Panzer Kavalier had stopped by before returning to Germany and they had left those for me.

I had also seen those flowers in the photograph of my family and they meant “shyness” in the language of flowers.

I once more began to consider my origins. I must have chosen the Panzer Ritter Project to rid myself of my scream. My memories of that time – including those of my family’s funeral – will never return to me. But I have encountered some who fight without screaming. Like Phillip Missel.

That means it is possible to conquer the scream.

Had I not realized that back then?

It is hard to say. It is possible for people to suppress their emotions. I do not understand it now that I have lost my emotions, but I can guess that I understood that back then.

So did I throw everything away and join the Panzer Ritter Project because I had screamed just the one time and lost a subordinate?

I do not know the details, but in the photo I found with my things, the woman and girl I can guess are my family are smiling at me. Without emotions, I cannot understand what those smiles mean.

I will now complete the rest of my duties and prepare for the meeting the day after tomorrow.

August 4, 1944[edit]

Beretta’s Journal: Today’s First Entry[edit]

It’s still 1 AM and the moon is the only light source, but I have to write about what just happened. I am currently sitting in the Missel mansion’s dance hall with my back against the wall. Jean Missel is sitting next to me with a rucksack in his arms.

As soon as I read the two telegrams coming from the communicator I heard in the Balleroy mansion, I grabbed my bag and ran out. On the way here, I walked through some catacombs, snuck through a forest, and kicked a German soldier in the nards when he spotted me – what I’m saying is, it was an eventful journey. The combat engineers blockading Paris were taking a break in the woods, so I was stuck there until the sun set.

I arrived here at 11 PM. I heard a few gunshots along the way and ducked down in fear, but that was Jean Missel taking out his pursuers and the guards on his way back to the mansion.

I cautiously approached the mansion that was in a similar state to Mallette’s family home and I spotted a trail of blood leading inside. On the way, I found two dead German soldiers and a communicator that looked intentionally broken.

The trail of blood led to the second floor where I found Jean Missel. He had been shot in the gut and had applied first aid, but he seemed well aware that he wasn’t making it.

He had apparently called the Chevaliers across France to gather here tonight and he could not back out of that, so he had returned despite his injury. Also…

City v05b 273.jpg

“Someone left this with me, so I planned to give it to you.”

He pulled a letter from his rucksack and handed it to me.

Phillip had written it before that fateful battle and it was addressed to me.

I accepted it and we discussed a lot of different topics: Phillip, Paris, the previous war, the old man, and even Jack McWild.

“Yes, Beretta McWild, I knew your father well. But I also know things didn’t go well between Rose and Jack. Phillip told me how you act awfully distant when it comes to them.”

He also mentioned that he wasn’t sure if he should bring any of this up the last time we met. That made him sound like a coward but also surprisingly kind. And my distant attitude when it came to Rose Francisca and Jack McWild wasn’t some complex of mine. It was- well, maybe it was kind of that.

But this was the first I’d heard of the old man, Jack, and Francisca being friends. Why had he kept that from me all this time? It’s not like you run across as American a last name as McWild in France every day. Had it just not occurred to him we might be related?

No, that’s not possible. He must have his reasons. Like an important promise he made or something.

<Jean Missel is sitting very still with his eyes closed. He is not dead. He is waiting for the arrival of the people he called here.>

I’m sitting just as still next to him.

I’m holding the Wort Bombe document he had acquired. One of the telegrams I had read before coming here mentioned the bomb. In modern times, that weapon was banned as Death Techno.

That gave me an idea.

I might be able to use the Wort Bombe to save my grandma.

Specifically, its ability to change Lives.

I just had to recall what Jean Missel’s telegram had said:

<It instead responds to the willpower of the people and other forms of life in the area covered by the chain reaction.>

And:

<If the people of France instead hope for happiness, France will be transformed by happi->

That seemed doable to me. The Rondo of France’s Format began because the bomb detonated while the people had given up all hope, so what if it detonated while the people were brimming with hope?

Why had it never occurred to me before? If all the people of France wished for no one to die, it could change the very laws of the world and allow my grandma to not be erased.

This was a gamble.

I have no idea what the people of France will actually hope for. This can save my grandma if it goes well, but it could mess France up really badly if it goes poorly. On the other hand, she will be erased if I don’t do anything.

Nothing is guaranteed in this gamble. It’s all about possibilities.

I need to read that document more carefully later. This is important.

Oh, and I have something else important to mention. When I told Jean Missel about the baby I’m carrying, he rejoiced but then grimaced from the pain in his gut. He then removed his sword emblem earring and gave it to me.

“This means the Missel family can continue. Can you wear this as you fight and eventually give it to your child? And make sure to tell the child all about Phillip and me.”

I’m wearing that sword emblem earring now to show I want to belong to this era and-

<I hear a horse neighing.

I also hear a lot of quiet footsteps on gravel outside the broken window. When Jean Missel hears it, he opens his eyes and looks to me.

“If you are indeed a Lourd de Écrivain, then you should read Phillip’s letter immediately. I do not know what it says, but that fool was a true Lourd de Écrivain. If you are the same, then you should get something from it.”

Then he stands up to meet his guests.>

Something important is beginning, so I think I’m going to read Phillip’s letter before then. Unlike Rose Francisca, I won’t hesitate to read it. Knowing his letters, it’s probably short but important, so I’ll read it. That should help me make a number of decisions.

Phillip Missel’s Letter: To Beretta[edit]

If you are reading this, then I suppose I will never again see you. Sorry about that. There is so much I want to say to you, but as usual, I can’t figure how to put it to words.

But I have a question for you since you have seen how it all turned out.

Did I manage to fight for someone else’s sake?

If you think so and you want to be with me, then you should understand what you must do.

I’m sure it won’t be easy, but since when has that ever stopped you?

If reincarnation is a thing, I hope we can be together again in our next life. If I hadn’t infiltrated the German Army, I was planning to invite you to the beach for this year’s vacances, but that clearly isn’t happening. As long as we remain Lourd de Écrivains, we can only be together in those memory banks filled with Signes and Ajouters. We only need be together in those thoughts that no one else can see.

Because in there, no one can tell when you are crying.

I will leave you something that will help you fight for someone else’s sake. Simply release the horse in the back garden and follow it. Since you were always so full of energy and flying off somewhere, I prepared the perfect thing for you.

This should allow you to grasp the heaven and the earth mentioned in the Lourd de Écrivain song.

Goodbye.

Telegram from the German Army Combat Engineer Unit: To the Paris Branch[edit]

Report: Today at 12:08, the physical blockade set at a 6 mile radius around Paris was completed. 8 checkpoints have been set up and the rest has been fortified with vehicles and barbed wire. We expect the line troops to do the rest of the work.

Beretta’s Journal: Today’s Second Entry[edit]

I’m in the mountains about 20 miles out from the Missel mansion. It is 2 PM. I mounted the horse at the mansion and it started running all on its own, taking me here.

It didn’t take long to reach a mutual understanding with the Resistance representatives in the mansion by using Jean Missel as an intermediary. They all see me as the last member of the Missel family and a former Allied spy.

I came to France using my grandma’s identity. The faked documentation for that included making me a spy, but that should come in handy if I do meet up with the Allies.

And using that identity means I am taking my grandma’s place. I know exactly what that means. It might erase her from history, but I still believe I can change that using the Wort Bombe.

Jean Missel must not have wanted us to see him die because he returned to the dance hall alone after explaining the Paris Liberation plan to us all. He said that was where he first met his wife.

After seeing him walk down the hallway without looking back, I too left to come here.

The horse brought me to a spot in the middle of a mountain vineyard and I found the entrance to a wine cellar cleverly hidden there. The entrance was large enough to drive two trucks through at once.

But once I opened it, it wasn’t wine barrels I found.

It was a female Heavy Barrel. HLP018 77-LL Grazie.

That’s the very same Heavy Barrel I used at the school festival. Yes, it was sent to the Missel family for repairs and it wasn’t used during the uprising. Because the Resistance didn’t have anyone who could pilot a female one.

I towed it out with a truck and viewed it in the light of the sun.

The emblem painted on its right shoulder was the Missel family’s sword crest – the same as the earring I now wear.

The left shoulder was painted with a depiction of Marianne.

On closer inspection, I noticed that the legs, which had been Grazie’s weak points, were now reinforced. I could only imagine that customization was designed for throwing kicks. It also had an extra tank attached to the back, as well as small wings that were clearly meant for the Over Emblem. They were all German parts, but they had been modified to perfectly match the base Barrel.

A Device spear and a shield were stored with it. As well as the Third Flame Emperor, the Device passed down by the Missel family. That idiot. He already knew I was going to be using this when he was repairing it, didn’t he? There was no way of asking him now, so I’ll just assume that’s true. There were also plenty of anti-personnel and anti-Barrel weapons, so it was painfully obvious the Missel family had planned for every eventuality.

Anyway, Phillip had left Grazie with me.

<The Resistance men start up the truck’s engine. They must have finished loading up the weapons.>

I’ll be riding with them to their rendezvous point. They say the Paris blockade I saw last night has been completed, so I can’t get back inside Paris now. I’m worried about Rosetta. I ended up leaving her behind, so I hope she isn’t feeling too down with her period and everything else going on.

But for now, I can only accompany these people since they intend to break through into Paris.

We’re headed to a point about 10 miles south of Paris. The Allied forces are there.

I will be Write Bringing into Grazie to join the fight.

It’s time to finally make up my mind. I want to read my grandma’s letter, but she said I can only read it once I understand where her Urban Name of Sword Lady came from.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out somewhere, so it’s time to head out. I think I’ll read through the Wort Bombe document in the truck.

Rosetta’s Journal[edit]

It is currently 11 at night. I am in bed. I am feeling better and a few important things have happened so I think I will write about them. I woke up at about 9 at night and got my heavy body moving so I could get dressed. I was hungry so I went to the kitchen. My master descended from the second floor and told me I had slept all day long and that Lady Beretta went to the Missel mansion on the outskirts of the city. He also told me Paris had been completely blocked off and no one – even Lady Beretta – could get in.

He apparently had work to do in the storeroom so he left after telling me to call for him if I needed anything. I sat in the kitchen chair for a long while. I did not do much other than drink a few glasses of water.

It must have been around 10 when someone arrived at the back door. I opened the door thinking it might be Lady Beretta but it was a stranger in white clothes. His long blonde hair was pretty. He was middle-aged and looked somewhat tired. He had distinctive almond eyes.

“Do you need something?” I asked him.

He let out a sigh of relief when he heard that.

“Please save my child.”

Hearing that I Ajoutered the child in his arms. It was a blonde girl wearing white. She had been shot in the stomach and her clothing was stained with blood. I took the child and placed her on the kitchen countertop to heal her. Then I turned back toward him.

Except he was no longer there. I Ajoutered that spot to figure out what happened and I saw a single male Fantasmé Renard collapsed at the back door. He was dead.

I recalled the legend that those foxes could transform into a person just once in their life.

I looked back to the kitchen countertop and saw the Fantasmé Renard child that Lady Beretta had named Mallette. The brown fur of her stomach was stained with blood and she was barely breathing. I could see the same color on the stomach of the father collapsed at my feet.

I don’t remember much of what happened after that. I do know I cried. I went to my master and received some healing tools and a sewing kit. I removed the bullet from Mallette’s stomach and sewed up the wound so she would not die.

I wrapped a towel around her stomach and placed her in an empty cardboard box to sleep. Then I vomited a little bit. I had so many reasons for that. Lady Beretta’s absence. My exhaustion. The nausea from my period. All the blood I had just seen. And the death of Mallette’s father – Phillip.

Lady Beretta had once told me the Germans would go hunting in the Boulogne forest for fun so was that what happened here? Does that mean all the Fantasmé Renards other than Mallette had been killed? There had been two other children named Jean and Jack. And there had been a mother named Beretta. Were they all dead?

Mallette is currently sleeping in the cardboard box under my bed. She is alive. After vomiting and drinking more water I buried Phillip in the garden.

Is this what it means to lose someone? For them to die? What will Mallette think when she wakes up? She is the same as me right now.

She no longer has her family with her. What will she do when she wakes up?

I do not know. I do not know what I will do either.

Everyone else knows what to do. My master is working on the Lourd de Marionnette so it is ready to run – probably for Lady Beretta’s sake – and Lady Beretta went to Sir Phillip’s home.

But I have nothing to do. I am starting to feel jealous of the gun sitting on the bedside table. That gun has no will of its own. It is a simple device. But that is enough to give it purpose. Even if that purpose is to harm people.

Now I am feeling sad.

Why isn’t Lady Beretta with me?

I know I am being selfish but there is still so much I want to ask her. I still haven’t learned how to use a comma. We were so busy during our trip I never managed to ask her about that.

I understand it indicates a pause for breath much like a period but I don’t ever see anyone put a comma at the end of a sentence.

But why not? Is a period meant to indicate the end of one idea? But the paragraph break already exists for that purpose. There is no need to further confuse things by creating a punctuation mark with the same function.

Why do two punctuation marks exist that both indicate a pause for a breath?

They have a saying in Aerial City – London: “No one needs two of the same word.”

So shouldn’t the comma and the period be combined into a single punctuation mark?

Ellipses. Em dashes. Questions marks. Exclamation marks. Parentheses. Tildes. They all have different meanings. Only the comma and the period mean the same thing. So why have both of them?

I do not know.

But answering this question is not my job. And it is not very fun either. Come to think of it I have not had anything to eat. I must be hungry so that is enough of this.

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

Today at 10:05, I began putting together the report to be submitted tomorrow.

At 12:37, I received a telegram granting me permission to inspect the Balleroy residence. I was given a 2-hour block of time for it beginning at 06:30 on August 6.

At 21:33, I completed the report.

At 22:40, some sort of mental shock woke me while I napped. My prosthetic arm’s fist was lightly clenched and mildly damaged. I called a maintenance worker for some quick repairs. My heartrate remained high throughout the repairs, which was unusual. Viewing the flowers on my desk calmed me and my body and mind returned to their ordinary state.

After the maintenance worker left, I recalled the movement of my lips when I woke up.

I had mouthed what I assume to be two names: Belia and Susanna.

I have no memory of anyone with those names, so I assume they were my family.

I will leave a Lernen record of this in case it will be of some use.

After checking over my report, I will go to sleep.

August 5, 1944[edit]

Guilliaum’s Letter: To a Far Distant Friend[edit]

My friend, it is well past the point of lamenting how long since I last wrote to you or of complaining about anything else.

Old Blue Eyes almost certainly died yesterday. When the girl saw his final message, she grabbed her bag and ran from the house. It was all so sudden I just watched her go. Maybe I should have hidden the communicator.

I am currently making preparations to activate the greatest weapon in my home. Yes, to complete the Attesor Project. I am preparing that female Lourd de Marionnette for combat. I even added the extra tank and other things the Allies smuggled to me. The only flaw holding it back from perfection is the lack of proper device linkage.

But another problem has arisen. Starting this morning, two German military vehicles have been parked right outside my front gate. And the insignia says this is Heinz Berge’s Rot Löwe Unit. Has that old man regained his memory? However, it seems he still intends on demonstrating honor in battle as a Kavalier. They must not plan to make their move until some scheduled time.

But once that time comes, I may have to finally say goodbye to this mansion.

I had Rosetta cook some food without telling her about any of this. She seems pretty down after getting her period and having that girl disappear on her, but I’d like to know when she managed to evolve so much. I was trying to keep this from happening, but that girl made it happen and abnormally quickly at that.

I can’t believe this. She could have remained that blissfully ignorant Belle de Marionnette forever, but she’s so much like that one that died in Bourgogne that I couldn’t help but let her do what she wanted. But now I must tell her the truth about her destiny, as hard as that may be for her to hear. I must also tell her about the secret hidden in this mansion. But what will happen once she knows?

I don’t know. It might just save us, but it also might lead a poor Belle de Marionnette to wish for death. Still, telling her this is a duty that only I can bear. The one who once fought alongside me is dead, that girl knows nothing, and Rosetta chose to grow without knowing what any of it meant, so I alone know the whole truth at this point.

This is our sin. Yes, it is the sinful memory of when we drove hundreds of Belle de Marionnettes to suicide 25 years ago.

But now that Rosetta might die, she must learn of her roots from me, the sole survivor.

She must know where she comes from. She must know everything that had us so obsessed and that we eventually rejected.

I can’t believe this. I truly cannot believe it, my friend! Oh, my friend!

You were my greatest friend and the bearer of all our resentment, Jack McWild!!

I will clean up the rest of our mess in your place!

I must tell Rosetta the truth. I think of her like a daughter, so she must know the truth. Goodbye. I doubt I will ever write to you again.

Thank you for leaving Rosetta with me. She really is so much like that nameless Belle de Marionnette who was killed by Heinz after repelling that black dragon in Bourgogne.

Farewell. I hope this will be the last night that makes my drink taste so foul.

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s First Entry[edit]

City v05b 283.jpg

It is still daytime and I am in the middle of cleaning but I am writing this already. I am feeling much better today. Mallette has also recovered so she finally barked at me at around 9 this morning. She seemed to be hungry so I soaked some bread in milk and fed her that. Once she had a full stomach she went back to sleep.

She is still asleep in the cardboard box I left in my room.

That alone would not have been reason to interrupt my cleaning to write this. I discovered something while cleaning. Thanks to the trip it had been about a month and a half since I last cleaned the mansion. I even had to open the windows to air things out. I was still not feeling well and Lady Beretta is gone – and my master says she will be unable to return because Paris has been locked down – so I may have been anxious about her.

I began cleaning after bringing an early lunch to my master who is assembling the Lourd de Marionnette below a tent in the courtyard. While I was cleaning the windows and table in the second-story study I saw something shining in the gap between the wall and bookcase.

It was a ring. A ring I recognized – the one Sir Phillip had given Lady Beretta.

It had rolled too far into the gap for me to reach. It must have slipped from Lady Beretta’s finger and rolled back there while she was cleaning. Once I noticed that I ended up focusing on retrieving the ring instead of cleaning.

Because I knew she would be delighted if I gave her the ring when she returned.

But I could not reach it and the window frame and bookcase prevented me from reaching it with the broom handle.

I ended up having to remove all the books from the bookcase so it was light enough to move. I think that took me about half an hour. Once I moved the bookcase I could finally reach the ring.

But that was not all I found.

There was a door on the wall behind the bookcase. I had been told there is a torture room next to the study but it had been filled in with concrete. I cracked the door and found there was indeed a room there. It was a dark and cramped room filled with books.

I am currently in the study trying to decide if I should ask my master about this or not.

He claimed the room had been filled in with concrete. But that was a lie. Why would he need to lie to me?

I think he did not want me interested in that room. I only peeked inside the windowless room for a moment but it only had a desk and bookcases covering the walls.

I do not know why but my heart is racing. I am also scared. Yes. The room beyond that door looked somehow familiar to me. Why? Is this a memory from before I grew self-aware?

I do not know. But I am unsure what to do. Should I ask my master about it or not? Should I see what is in that room or not?

My master has told me not to enter a few of the rooms on the second floor. But that is the only room he lied about.

I have so many questions and so few answers.

<My master is calling for me from the courtyard.

He says he has something to tell me.>

I am curious about that door. After I hear what he has to say I think I will try asking him about it. Today is a day for strange occurrences.

I will probably write a second entry about what happens.

Heinz Berge’s Report: Attesor Project Investigation Report[edit]

  • The first thing you must know is that everything we thought we knew about the Attesor Project is inaccurate.
We thought it was a project to increase reaction speed during Schreiben by using a new technology for the sensory devices.
If my memories are accurate, the Grösse Panzer I encountered in the Morvan Mountains 25 years ago had abnormally high reflexes, which is why I lost a few of my men. I also lost an arm in the process, but I destroyed it with a slash to the hip. That Panzer and the wreckage my unit secured recently are undoubtedly an experimental Panzer for the Attesor Project.


  • The prisoner taken 25 years ago was Guilliaum Balleroy, who currently lives in western Paris. He belongs to the former Royal Chevalier family and he was a Panzer Kavalier ace during the previous war. I am currently preparing to inspect his home, but I will explain why later.


  • The wreckage recovered on July 20 was mostly too rusty to be much use, but our inspection revealed the remains of a mechanical doll within the Studio.
It was unusually finely crafted, but it was a Sein Frau shaped like a girl.


  • I will use the Panzer Ritter Project as a baseline to make this easier to understand. I had my entire body replaced with prosthetics to turn me into a machine. That was done to increase my reaction speed during Schreiben so I could draw out the Grösse Panzer’s full abilities.
That has indeed proven that turning man into machine – or as close an approximation as we can manage – provides greater mechanical power during Schreiben even without the imagination and willpower usually needed to control that power.
Thus, it can be predicted that the mechanical power can be drawn on in an even purer form if a machine is made human instead.


  • To get straight to the point, the Attesor Project was not meant to develop the strongest Panzer.
It was meant to develop a Sein Frau who would become the greatest Panzer Kavalier.
They built and raised Sein Fraus with the primary goal of increasing their compatibility with a Grösse Panzer. Instead of creating sex toys or servants, they created Panzer Kavaliers born with all the necessary combat-related knowledge in their foundational memories.
As they evolve into humans, they gain emotions and willpower, yet they maintain highly mechanical Tons. No matter what Panzer they Schreiben into, they can draw on its full power.


  • I am unsure what righteousness can be found in leaving war in the hands of machines.
Regardless, the Attesor Project remains unfinished. I can conclude it was never completed even after sacrificing hundreds of Sein Fraus.
That must be why the Sein Frau went berserk while battling my unit 25 years ago. She did activate the Ober Emblem using human-style willpower during that battle, but that began a mistaken evolution and she lost control.
Any Sein Frau that combines with a Panzer is fated to trigger an evolution in the Ober Emblem, which throws everything off balance.
Sein Fraus are destined to evolve into humans, but the Attesor Project abused that destiny to make weapons out of them. When they wish to evolve into humans yet are only ever treated as weapons, it messes with their minds. And that ultimately leads those machines to commit suicide.
Suicide of machines has in fact been seen in our enemy of America.


  • However, the project does still exist. The aforementioned Guilliaum Balleroy has a single Sein Frau who works at his home as a servant. Her manufacturer is unknown, but her name is Rosetta. There is an old practice of using reversed names for Sein Fraus because a mere imitation of a human cannot be given a proper name.
Rosetta = Attesor.
I do not know if she is one final failure that was never destroyed or if she is the sole success. That is why my unit will pay the Balleroy residence a visit with our Grösse Panzers tomorrow to end this once and for all.

Beretta’s Journal[edit]

I’ve come to understand so much. And I’ve prepared myself for what’s to come.

It’s currently 9 PM, so 6 hours until our attack begins. I’m writing this in the field camp’s break area. It’s a pretty big collection of troops, so the break area is made up of several tents lined up in a wide space. For now, the fighting force is primarily composed of Allied special forces and an aerial assault unit. They are equipped with aerial tanks, highly-mobile armored trucks, transport vehicles, and more.

I can see the top of my Grazie in the distance. Including the Resistance forces, there are 1500 people here in all, so it’s quite a lot. I can see some with prosthetic arms, I can see some nonhumans, and I can see some people who seem to be Tuners and Busters.

They’re a lively bunch. Earlier, they held a strategy meeting with the leaders of each group. I was given a spot as the Missel heir and I was given a key position in the liberation operation. It helped that I – well, my grandma – was originally sent here as an Ally spy.

That means I really have become my grandma in this army.

This operation will let me kick out the Germans and liberate Paris while using her identity. Part of it is the plan originally developed by Jean Missel – I wish I could have called him grandfather just once.

There are still a lot of details to iron out, but if it goes well, nearly a third of Paris will be destroyed, but the enemy’s main force will be entirely neutralized. To accomplish that, I need to at least arrive at the Eiffel Tower’s Champ de Mars before 5 AM with Phillip’s Third Flame Emperor in hand. The others will lure the enemy’s main force there, where we’ll make short work of them. We’re calling that Operation Flame Glide.

I also proposed some other operations and they were approved too.

I can’t let anyone else know, but I incorporated the three conditions for liberating France into those operations.

The key is securing Paris’s central broadcasting station and preventing the Wort Bombe’s transport plane from taking off.

“If we take the broadcast station and transmit the fight to liberate Paris to the rest of France in real time, won’t the entire country yearn for liberation when we win?”

Everyone agreed with me there, but that had a double purpose for me. Not only would the broadcast spread a spirit of liberation throughout the people of France, but it would also let me proclaim to the country of France that I am Beretta McWild – in other words, my grandma.

A spy apparently provided intel that the transport plane taking off from Paris’s international airport at 5 tomorrow morning – the very one that will drop the Wort Bombe – will be carrying some members of the Geheimnis Agency, who are known as especially dangerous even for Germany. The others said that agency is secretly in command of the entire German military and it would be very dangerous to let them bring information on Paris back to Germany. They like to gather Death Techno, so if they are leaving from Paris, they must have found something here.

So we have to take it back.

I spread out the Wort Bombe document Jean Missel had given me, told them it was in an underground storeroom at Paris’s international airport, and said we needed to both stop that plane and secure the bomb.

Based on my examination of the document, the Wort Bombe does exactly what Jean Missel claimed.

“If we secure the bomb before it’s timed trigger is activated and then we detonate it when France has been liberated and everyone wants to be happy, it might change France for the better.”

The weapon sounds like something from a fairy tale, but everyone seemed both cautious of and curious about it. Unlike a normal bomb, this one emits the power to “distort concepts”.

“Wouldn’t it be safer to detonate it after using the broadcast to inform all of France about Paris’s liberation?”

That suggestion didn’t even come from me. Most of them are still opposed to the idea of detonating it, but since it responds to people’s wills, a lot of them were willing to consider it depending on how things go. But we can discuss that further once we have secured it.

Based on my suggestion and the intel from the spy, they split off a unit to secure the airport.

We never decided what to do with the bomb once we had it, but there was still a chance I could save my grandma.

All the preparations are in place now, so it all comes down to my own will.

France’s liberation is up to me.

If my actions are broadcast across France, it will give the French people a spirit of liberation. At the same time, we can stop the transport plane carrying the bomb from taking off.

That just leaves using the broadcast or something else to prove that France has not truly closed itself off. I only have to announce that I have come from outside and my presence means France is not closed down. It’s a lot like how my grandma came here from America and fought the German occupation because it was wrong. She too was trying to liberate France back then.

I will be doing that in two different ways at once.

And if it is possible, I also want to detonate the Wort Bombe in a good way so she will not be erased from history as a duplicate existence. To do that, I must first win this fight and bring the will of France in a positive direction.

I really hope I can manage that.

I’m sure I can convince everyone to do it. Maybe I’m being naïve, but I won’t let them give up and do nothing.

I mean, even if the bomb is detonated in a good way, that might not actually distort the world in a way that saves my grandma. It might become even worse or it might not change anything at all.

In the end, it’s a gamble.

But taking that gamble is far better than doing nothing at all.

And to make that gamble, I need to take action.

Yes. I realized something important: the origin of my grandma’s Urban Name. It was simple really. The Sword Lady name came from the Missel family’s sword crest on my Grazie’s shoulder armor.

Sword Lady was not an occupation; it was a simple codename based on that crest.

That means she and Phillip were – oh, there’s no use beating around the bush. He was the lover she’s mentioned before. But after seeing him die and hearing his dying words, she fled.

I wonder why that was.

I’m going to read her letter. I want to know so much more about her. So much more about that other version of myself.

Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s Second Entry[edit]

War is coming to this city. Things are so noisy outside even at this late hour and the sirens never seem to stop. I am hiding in the mansion’s best hiding spot.

I am in the room that I was told was a torture room. But instead of that it is actually a small study. All of the books in here are about Belle de Marionnettes and Lourd de Marionnettes. The diagrams stacked up and lined up along with the books all have the same name on them: Jack McWild.

That is the same name as Lady Beretta’s father and Mother Rose’s husband. It was my master who opened up this room. Not me. When he called for me I told him I had found the room. He immediately brought me to the room and opened it. Then he told me everything.

First he told me I am not a human. That much I already knew.

But he next told me that I am not a Belle de Marionnette either.

He says I am a weapon.

I did not understand most of what he said about the Attesor Project but I did understand that I am a Belle de Marionnette designed to Recréa into an Appareil.

He told me my body and foundational memories are based on my many predecessors in the project.

That is why I have dreams of walking in the forest of Bourgogne and why I fear harming people. Those are not simple instincts. They are images imprinted on my memories through the process that created me.

The Attesor Project ultimately failed. It is a Belle de Marionnette’s destiny to become human. But the Belle de Marionnettes of the Attesor Project were asked to become a weapon instead so they chose to take their own lives.

The solution to that problem was incredibly simple. You raise the Belle de Marionnette until she is human and then have her Recréa into the Appareil. Their failure was in having the Belle de Marionnettes Recréa into the Appareils before that growth was complete so it was thought the process would be safer if she was closer to being human first. My master apparently figured that out when he lost his leg and one of my predecessors chose to evolve mid-battle and lost control.

That happened at the end of the great war. To make up for all their mistakes they used the results of their research to create a single completed Belle de Marionnette. That Belle de Marionnette was left at the Balleroy residence where she spent 10 years without ever moving and only received maintenance from Jack McWild. But on his final visit before leaving Paris to return to America she awoke and began to move.

That Belle de Marionnette is me.

I was born in that lab that is now a pile of rubble and I am here now.

My master said his role in the Attesor Project was to teach the Belle de Marionnettes how to fight with a Lourd de Marionnette. He also said that knowledge remains in my foundational memories.

I am a weapon. That means I have been lying to everyone all this time. I cannot even cry. Because weapons cannot shed tears. The only things weapons are allowed to shed is blood.

What am I supposed to do now? Weapons are supposed to kill their opponent. I was born to kill people.

But. But. I want to deny it. Yet when I see everything in this room. It. It all proves what I am. It proves everything I never wanted to know about myself. The one ray of hope is about Lady Beretta. My master did promise me one thing.

“That girl is searching for the truth of the Attesor Project but she cannot have found it yet.”

I agree. The way she tried not to involve me during our time in Bourgogne and elsewhere tells me she does not know I am a weapon.

For that alone I am glad.

Otherwise I would have had to suspect she was only trying to make me human to complete the Attesor Project.

I am so thankful my master told me that.

I have a book and a gun in front of me right now.

The book is the old journal that was inside the room. Jack McWild’s name is on the cover. That is the name of the person who made me. The gun is the Liberator handgun that fell from the sky. I dismantled it earlier to see what exactly a weapon is. It is a very simple device.

Does that mean I too am simple?

I do not know what to do. I am a weapon. A weapon’s job is to kill people. I also wish to be a person myself so does that mean I should kill myself? If I reassembled the gun in front of me and pulled the trigger I could do just that.

What should I do?

…I don’t know.

I don’t know. I don’t know! I keep writing but no answer presents itself! I was born to kill people. But I lived my life to become a person. Which one was the right life for me?

It reminds me of the difference between a comma and a period. If Lady Beretta is a period with a clearly defined use case then I am the comma. The difference between us is slight but only I am so poorly defined.

Only I do not know what to do with myself.

Lady Beretta is not with me so I have to find the answer on my own.

I plan to read Jack McWild’s journal soon.

I hope that will help me understand why I was born.

Letter from Sword Lady #13: To Beretta who Inherited my Name[edit]

Are you reading this, Beretta who inherited my name? Now, this is the 13th of the monthly letters. At long last, you have reached the very end, Beretta. Since you have opened this one, I must assume you have finally discovered my past.

Make sure you remember what I am about to say.

You must have met all sorts of people and experience all sorts of things on your way to this point. But I never told you what was to come for any of it. I never told you what happened to me in the past or what I thought about anyone.

So all of your decisions were your own. Do not forget that.

Now, I am about to get to the main topic at hand, so listen up.

Are you interested in liberating France, Beretta?

You should already know how.

Can you raise your voice, Beretta? Do not worry about the rest of us.

If you can raise your voice, then do so. To assuage the guilt of the 6 billion who abandoned France, to soothe the sorrows of the people who have been forced to repeat their deaths 55 times now, and to save me from the shame of running away from it all.

Can you save us all from the past?

I hope from the bottom of my heart that you can.


Chapter 21: Heaven[edit]

City v05b 305.jpg

08/06/1944



Start by

Saving Rosetta

August 6, 1944[edit]

Message from the German Army Paris Branch: To All Personnel[edit]

Today at 03:00, four enemy companies approached from the outskirts of Paris. Some have engaged our troops. Everyone must hurry to your post and intercept them. The alert level has been increased to 4. Keep your communications open at all times.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

I’m running!

Grazie runs down a hill. When I look down from this 8-yard height, I can see Paris burning in the night.

The Germans tried to fortify their defenses and lock down the city, but they could’ve done a better job. France has tons of catacombs you can use as underground passageways. The Resistance used those to transport Heavy Barrels during the uprising and they are far more complex and numerous than the Germans know.

While the diversion unit was attacking the wall directly, another unit entered Paris through the catacombs. Once inside, they would perform some sabotage and attack the wall from within.

My Heavy Barrels unit’s job is to charge in from the outside after that. Hence why I’m running.

<The dawn approaches. The chilly wind blows hard across my armor as I travel along a hilly road. I can hear the footsteps of the three Heavy Barrels barely keeping up with me.>

They’re all so slow, but maybe I’m just overexcited.

I have no hint of doubt anymore.

Yes, I’m fighting to liberate this world and prevent my grandma from being erased.

I can’t let anything happen to that old woman who tried to act tough but was really just too kind to tell me.

I’m feeling so optimistic. Even though I have no idea if I really can keep her from being erased if we use the Wort Bombe.

I’m just going for it while assuming it’ll work out.

But I can’t not do it. Because that would mean giving up.

<My view down the slope shows me the lines of light of the German Soldat and Ritter-class fighters scrambling from the airport in northern Paris. I can hear the roar of them tearing through the night sky.>

Way too slow. We’ve already brought the fight to the city itself. Which means I just have to keep running.

<The slope ends and I enter the city.>

My Heavy Barrel’s legs give me a speed of nearly 100mph. I might be shattering windows and tearing roofs from the houses I pass by. Sorry, but I need to keep going.

I speak through the communicator the Allies equipped me with.

“Assault Heavy Barrel Unit, we’re about to break through the blockade. Eastern Attack Unit, please fall back immediately.”

<Up ahead, I see the blockade wall on the road past a row of houses. It’s about 5 yards high. It looks like they gathered sandbags and unneeded vehicles to create a quintuple wall. A large checkpoint door is installed dead ahead.

A flare launches into the night sky from near the wall. That’s our allies saying they’ve finished falling back.

The checkpoint troops notice us at the same time, delivering a spray of machinegun fire.>

That’s fine. I charge in with my spear raised on the right and my shield raised on the left.

The hits must be delivering a powerful shock, but that’s not enough to stop a charging mass of metal that weighs 24 tons all told. Besides, my steel shield has been engraved with a traditional defense emblem, so you’d need at least a Tiger’s tank gun to punch through it.

<I arrive within 300 yards of the wall.

The checkpoint door bursts open and two large figures appear from within. They’re Heavy Barrels.

Three armored trucks loaded with machineguns hurry through after them and then the door closes.>

Oh? Three armored trucks and two Heavy Barrels? You don’t stand a chance against me.

“Sight Devices: Omnidirectional Sight: Sign.”

My field of vision widens. I can see the night sky reflecting Paris’s flames and I can see the wall. That wall is in the way. I want to see Paris.

I crouch low and charge in. And I move fast. I need to run fast!

<The three sets of footsteps behind me grow more distant. My speed is definitely rising.

I rapidly approach the two Barrels up ahead. Neither one has a shield, so they raise the sword in their right hand.>

They’re both righthanded, so going for the one on my right would be the standard tactic.

I run to close the space between us. I hold my spear below my right arm and move to tackle one of them.

Before that one can swing down their sword, I swing my spear up, using my underarm as the pivot point. I aim for their left side – the side without a sword.

<It slices through.

The enemy Heavy Barrel’s left arm is severed at the shoulder and flies through the air. They lose their balance but just barely manage to remain on their feet.>

You could’ve not done that!!

To rid myself of my charging momentum, I throw a kick straight into the one-armed Barrel in front of me.

If they collapse, they’ll crash right into the armored truck behind them.

<With a loud crash, one Heavy Barrel and one armored truck slam into the blockade wall, taking them out of the fight.

At the same time, the Barrel’s left arm falls from the sky and hits another armored truck.>

Okay, that last part was pure luck. But that isn’t all. The left Barrel will probably try to swing down their sword in a hurry. But that won’t work. I use the force of the kick against the other Barrel to spin myself to the left.

I take circular evasive action to the left, making a full spin with my shield extended.

<The enemy strikes at the spot Grazie just vacated.>

Do they think they cut me down? They clearly don’t know when to Point. Pointing to check just as you make an attack is standard practice. Like this.

<A superb backhand blow slams into the enemy Heavy Barrel with Grazie’s 21 tons and the shield’s 3 tons plus centrifugal force.

Beyond the shield, I can feel the enemy’s bulletproof armor breaking.

The 9-yard-tall male Heavy Barrel flips end over end in the air.>

Sorry, but I need your help to clear the way ahead. And I kick.

<Grazie’s roundhouse kick slams into the chest armor of the male Heavy Barrel flipped upside down in midair.

With a loud clang of heavy metal, the chest armor shatters and the entire Barrel crashes into the checkpoint door.

I hear the deep crashing and smashing of steel and other structures and the large door collapses in the opposite direction.

I can now see the streets of Paris that the wall had been blocking from view.>

Hell yeah. There’s still another armored truck, but I’ll let the unit I had fall back take care of it. Have the other three in my unit still not caught up? I send them a transmission.

“Sword Lady here. I’ve cleared a path into Paris. I’m about to enter the city to continue the mission. Over.”

Okay, time to run. We’re taking the road alongside the Seine until it runs into the Louvre. Then to the Eiffel Tower.

If we can settle things there, we should manage somehow. The broadcast station should be telling all of France about the fight for liberation by then and that transport plane will have been stopped from taking off.

Then I just have to borrow that broadcast channel.

I just have to say I’m Beretta McWild and that I want to liberate France and make it real.

I have to do this. Time to get running again.

Message from Resistance Branch 2 Infantry Company 3: To the Commander[edit]

Urgent. At 04:13, one of Branch 2’s units entered Paris. The two sides are in equilibrium at the moment, but our morale is high we are about to send more troops into the fight.

Heinz Berge’s Journal[edit]

Today at 04:28, I arrived in the Boulogne forest.

I have already Verbesserunged the cause of the commotion and chaos in eastern Paris, but I have used the independent authority of the Attesor Project Investigation Team to not join the fight. I do not know the cause of my urge to continue with this mission. HQ has instructed me to pursue the Attesor Project and protecting Paris does not fall under the scope of that mission.

The Paris Branch has not summoned me, presumably due to the confused situation, so I am simply listening to the distant sounds of chaos while in the forest.

The sky is growing brighter and the moonlight is still bright as I view the Balleroy residence’s garden. For some reason, four-o’clock flowers are growing there. I briefly think about how bright the flowers must look in the sunlight.

My inspection of the residence is scheduled to begin at 06:30. I will now Schreiben.

Message from Resistance Branch 1 Assault Unit 1: To the Commander[edit]

Report: At 04:43, we broke into Paris’s international airport. We have taken the control tower, but the enemy’s defensive line is too strong to enter the runway. The transport plane carrying the Geheimnis Agency has left the hangar. Requesting reinforcements.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

I’m running.

I’m using my Heavy Barrel to run through the streets of Paris now that it’s been plunged into the devastation of war. First, I had my two damaged companions evacuate while I, the other remaining Barrel, and two light tanks we rendezvoused with act as bait to guide the enemy away.

We’ve broken through the defensive line – the enemy’s main force on the northern end of Paris – and they’re chasing after us now. I need to keep running so I can guide them to the Eiffel Tower’s Champ de Mars.

The light tanks are keeping up pretty well. Their metal caterpillar tracks slide on the stone paving when they take a corner, but they aren’t falling behind. They’re like puppies.

<A shot from behind passes by overhead and crashes into an appartement.

The enemy is just as desperate as I am.>

But this will be over soon enough. The gigantic Eiffel Tower is dead ahead.

<Enemy fire comes from up ahead as well.>

The enemy’s main southern force is fighting with another of our units.

<The current time is 4:56 AM.

The sky is growing brighter and I can see the shape of the city’s buildings even without the streetlights.>

I have 4 minutes until the scheduled time at 5. I’ll make it.

The enemy chasing us – or being lured in by us, I guess? – probably thinks they can pin us between themselves and their friends at Champ de Mars.

We’re 500 yards from there.

<An enemy Heavy Barrel suddenly appears from a side street.>

I ready my spear and leap. I slam a kick down while almost directly above them and I also jab my spear down toward their shoulder.

<A direct hit. But I can’t pull my spear from their shoulder as they start to collapse.

They also manage to pull one leg back to just barely avoid collapsing.

Then they raise their sword to->

Outta the way, buddy. I draw the Third Flame Emperor from my hip and swing it.

<The slash severs the enemy’s right arm at the shoulder.

Then one of the light tanks fires a shot into the enemy’s chest armor. The Barrel collapses, bringing down the front wall of a bistro behind them.>

Damn, I so want to retrieve my spear…but no. Not enough time.

<The current time is 4:57 PM.>

I need to drop the shield too. It’s too heavy. All I need from here on is the Third Flame Emperor in my right hand.

I resume running. The Champ de Mars awaits. Our victory awaits.

The sky keeps growing brighter and it even looks a little blue now. Dawn is fast approaching.

<A transmission arrives.

“Resistance Branch 1 Combat Engineer Unit 1 to the Commander

“Report: At 04:58, we finished our work below Paris. All preparations for the coming operation are complete. All we require is the attack from Sword Lady.”>

So they’re done. I bet this didn’t happen during my grandma’s time. There really was something they could only pull off with me here.

I keep running.

<It’s a straight shot down the road. I see a large space past the homes and appartements lining the road. The Champ de Mars is 800 yards long and 300 yards wide.>

I can see it.

<But the shots from behind are a much greater threat on this straight road.

The Heavy Barrel accompanying me stumbles forward and collapses after taking a hit from behind.

“Please.”

That one word is his final transmission.>

I’m less than 300 yards from the Champ de Mars.

Sorry. I feel bad for everyone with me, but I need to focus. I hold Third Flame Emperor in both hands and raise it as if resting it on my shoulder. From here on, I’ll need the powerful flames of its attack.

I can feel the hilt in my hands. The cannon on my secondary cockpit aims straight up and fires.

<The fired bullet is a ball of light with no real attack power. The blue bullet rises high into the sky and I essentially leave it behind me as I continue to run. It turns to blue spray and vanishes in the sky, which is still fairly dark.

After a short pause, I see a similar light rise in the sky to my left, more toward the Champ de Mars.

I signaled my approach and my allies responded.>

Does that mean they’re ready? Then let’s do this. I duck down as if crawling on the ground, and…

<Another transmission arrives.

“Resistance Branch 2 Unit 3 to the Commander

“Report: At 04:59, we took control of Paris’s central broadcast station. We will now relay the state of the battle to all of France. Everyone, keep fighting for victory. Your actions will spread a spirit of liberation across France.”>

Yes, yes, yes! Everything’s in place!!

<I enter the Champ de Mars.

My field of vision quickly opens up. I have a wider view of the cloudless early morning sky.

I arrived at about halfway up the park. To my right, I can see more than 20 enemy tanks and around 15 Barrels of all weight types. There are even more armored trucks and infantry, so they certainly look like they have the upper hand.

My allies are descending to the east on my left, but the enemy has moved out in front of them.>

I do not hesitate to burst out in between those two armies.

<An impressive number of shells are flying back and forth.>

Not a problem. I know how to dodge those. I just have to liberate my excited emotions a bit while I run.

Grazie’s Over Emblem, Ange, is all about mobility, but I also have the Third Flame Emperor.

<Ether light wraps around my running legs and the arms wielding the Third Flame Emperor. The Over Emblem is activating.

The transformation only takes a moment. My four limbs don ether armor from within the armored combat dress.

And the Third Flame Emperor reacts to the Over Emblem by activating its own power.

The emblem engraved into the sword’s blade absorbs the ether flowing in from Grazie and fierce power is unleashed from the entire blade. As the name suggests, it is fiery power.>

Flame Emperor, the weapon he left me, lend me your power here!

“Whoever’s in the broadcast station! I’m about to deliver a decisive blow toward Paris’s liberation, so make sure everyone in France knows!! Let them know that France can be liberated!!”

<From Grazie’s shoulder to its back, the long flame sword grows at a faster rate than my own breathing.

It is now approximately 30 yards long.

The air shimmers above the sword as it heats up as if rejoicing at its own activation.>

I swing the sword as if to slice through the oncoming hail of shellfire. A simple swing like that is all it takes to transform the flying shells into steam. No attack in this world can surpass the all-consuming flames of this sword.

<Ihave arrived near the center of the Champ de Mars.>

I have a single goal: leap full strength toward the fountain in the center.

<Grazie leaps into the warming morning air. The jump surpasses 10 yards in height.

Grazie twists around in midair to swing the flame sword around and down.>

I take aim at the central fountain.

A major branch of the catacombs running below Paris is located directly below that fountain. It’s almost like an underground version of the park that gathers nearly all of the city’s underground passageways.

A combat engineer unit set up explosives and Phlogiston in there. I just have to detonate it with this fiery attack. It’s the same principle as the crust destruction that finished off the black dragon. I forcefully swing down the Third Flame Emperor.

This will end it.

<The large central fountain is cleaved in two by the flame attack from that Device which had been made into a divine spell weapon. The attack triggers a Live transformation in the stone of the fountain structure and even the water itself to ignite them both. They are instantly set ablaze.

The fire burns strong and the result immediately shows itself in a horribly simple fashion.

Paris explodes.>

Guilliaum’s Letter: To a Far Distant Friend[edit]

My friend. I will soon-

<Out the window, an enormous pillar of fire erupts from below the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

A moment later, a ripple-like movement of air races out through the morning sky.

The atmospheric movement spreads and approaches while blowing away the roofs of Paris’s buildings, tearing leaves from the trees, violently shaking the Boulogne forest, and finally hitting my mansion.

All of the mansion’s windows facing the Eiffel Tower shatter.>

What in the devil is this!?

<It does not end there. The pillar of fire becomes an explosion and sends dark smoke about half a mile up into the sky and the Eiffel Tower is leaning over. The angle of that lean continues to grow.

That 300m tower of steel is falling. Slowly – agonizingly slowly – it collapses toward the Champ de Mars as if to signal the end of something.>

Okay, this has got to be that girl’s doing. But this is taking things too far. Only a foreigner would be able to do this without batting an eye.

But, girl, hurry on back here. Heinz Berge is standing in front of my mansion while ignoring everything else going on. And Rosetta is still feeling down. If you truly are a Lourd de Écrivain, then protect me and Rosetta from that man. I will give you the guidance you need.

So come here and start by saving Rosetta.

I will do the one thing I can do to help you there. Do you remember the promise I made about that Lourd de Marionnette?

I promised not to let anyone know about that secret.

And do you remember what you said you would do if I broke that promise?

You said you would take every last bit of happiness I possessed.

Well, it’s a deal. You can have all of my happiness.

I will throw open the window and tell Heinz Berge who you are and why you have come here! I will tell him you are the true Beretta McWild and that you are here to liberate France! So come here, girl!

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.

Damn, how far was I thrown?

<I see the tip of the Eiffel Tower half-buried in the broken ground.

The large Champ de Mars has collapsed, forming a giant crater.

The Eiffel Tower has collapsed onto its side like it slipped and fell and the enemy Barrels and tanks are buried in rubble next to it. A lot like seashells buried in the beach sand.

I am seated with my back against the long point at the very top.>

I see. That was a bit much even for me.

“Auditory and Communication Devices: Malfunction Defected: Restarting”

Something is playing in my ear, but there’s too much static to make it out. I hope this is being broadcast to the rest of France.

I need to stand up and get a better look of things.

<Static plays from the communication device in my ear while I look around and find the crater is about 20 yards deep. It covers more than just the Champ de Mars. The nearby residential area and parks were also destroyed, covering an area of at least 1000 yards.

The northern city visible from the slope, the same area I was running through before, is now somewhat slanted and has sunk lower than before. It no longer looks as well maintained.>

Now that’s what I call cataclysmic. The ground below the Eiffel Tower must have given way, so it fell over and slid into this crater.

<Half the collapsed Eiffel tower has bent and broken under its own weight, but the framework remains intact. The angle from top to bottom makes it look something like a ramp toward the sky while lying on its side like this.

The sky above is still dark since it still isn’t dawn. The stars are twinkling in that purplish sky that shimmers from the heat rising from the crater.>

The enemy is motionless and silent.

That may have been overkill, but I dealt with the enemy’s main force.

<Grazie is unharmed. The armored combat dress is burned and torn, but the Third Flame Emperor must have provided some resistance against heat.>

It’s hilarious that the person at the very center of the blast wasn’t harmed by it.

<The static in my ear gradually clears up. My communication and auditory devices are being retuned. I should be able to hear the blowing wind before long.>

I want to hear everything soon. Then I’ll be able to hear the broadcasted call for France’s libera-

<My shoulder armor is suddenly struck from behind. As if demanding I look that way.>

!?

<I turn around to see one of our male Middle Barrels standing behind me.

At some point, the Allies and the Resistance have gathered on the east side of the crater and they’re waving this way.

I can’t hear any of it, but I can tell they’re giving me a standing ovation.

A few step into the crater and the rest follow.

A wave of people begins to move.>

“Auditory and Communication Devices: Retuning Complete”

Paris Central Broadcast Station: To All of France[edit]

I repeat, Allied Special Forces Unit 10 has a message for all the French people.

Operation Flame Glide is complete. The main German force in Paris has been lost and Paris has been liberated. We are currently on our way to the German Army’s Paris Branch where we will ask they surrender for a peaceful resolution. If you wish to continue what we have begun, then resist. If you would prefer to fall into resignation, then please think about what it is to come.

Even Paris, the center of France, has been freed, so France can be liberated. As long as you do not give up.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

It’s like music to my ears.

Anyway, that’s one problem down. The people of Paris are sure to break free of their fear and seek liberation now, so-

<“Resistance Branch 1 Assault Unit 1 to the Commander

“Urgent: At 05:06, we took the international airport, but we were too slow to breach the enemy’s defensive line on the runway. The transport plane carrying the Geheimnis Agency is preparing to takeoff and all of our units with AA equipment have been destroyed. Over.”

When one of our tanks plays that message over a loudspeaker, we all freeze in place.>

What!?

The plane is taking off!?

<I hear a roar from the north.

That is the transport plane preparing to take off. Its metal wings are slicing through the air to transform the morning air’s resistance into lift.>

German Army Paris Branch Emergency Broadcast: To Our Allies and Enemies Across France[edit]

This is the German Army Paris Branch. We are using our emergency communication network to send a message to all our allies and enemies within France.

Half an hour from now, the Wort Bombe, the ultimate weapon developed by our Geheimnis Agency, will be dropped on France.

That weapon will ensure that the sun never again rises on France.

There is no avoiding it.

Death may claim us, but defeat shall not. We will never accept an enemy nation’s mercy by surrendering. We thank all our allies for their hard work. All glory to the Third Reich.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

<That broadcast has clearly shaken our troops.>

Now they’ve done it!!

Crap, announcing their intent to bring the entire country down with them is the worst card they could have played against us. Did that shake France’s resolve!?

<The roar of the transport plane taking off seems to surround me.>

You idiots, the Wort Bombe is onboard that. If we can’t stop that, we’ve given France a reason to do the Format!

We have no aerial troops here, but if that isn’t shot down, the Wort Bombe will be detonated.

Damn.

France will be Formatted if we don’t do something.

I want to stop it.

I refuse to let the Format happen. I will stop it.

I know that now. I really do want to stop it no matter what.

I want to stop the Wort Bombe.

Yes, that’s right. I hold the final card needed to liberate France.

<The morning wind blows in from the east and washes across the bottom of the crater.

Grazie’s armored combat dress flutters and the roar from the sky drowns out the sound of the wind.

I look up and see the plane there.

A transport plane is rapidly ascending into the sky which is at the midpoint between night and morning.>

I need to do this. I need to bring that down. I don’t know if I can, but there’s no use in wondering if I can if I’m not even trying. Success is the only option here. If I tried, I could probably think of plenty of reasons why I would fail, but thinking about failure would only waste time.

So I just have to go for it.

I ready the Third Flame Emperor and approach the Eiffel Tower.

<The tip of the giant tower is pointing toward me.>

I approach it and slice off the tip of the giant spike with the Third Flame Emperor.

<Grazie carries the 8-yard-long and 2-feet-wide metal spear under her left arm.>

I make a slight jump while no one else is moving and that roar continues in the sky.

I attach the Third Flame Emperor at my hip, ready the metal spear, and stand on the fallen Eiffel Tower.

<Once on top, I can see the Eiffel Tower’s uprooted leg really is pointed toward the sky.

I receive a transmission.

“Sword Lady, what are you doing?”>

“You can’t tell? I’m bringing down that transport plane.”

I don’t have time to explain how, so I focus my willpower and carry my emotions.

Let’s do this, HLP018 77-LL – Grazie.

I shift the engine output to max power.

“Engine System Max Power: Sign.”

I then trigger a focused release from the engine system.

“Full Drive Ready: Sign.”

The preparations for the full drive are complete. It’s time to use every last bit of our strength.

Heavy Barrel Grazie’s System Message[edit]

To begin full drive, the Write Bringer’s thought connection was shut down for 0.0001 seconds.

Reconnecting.

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

He gave this Barrel wings when he repaired it, so it’s time to make use of them. I imagine wings sprouting from my back while I fly high into the morning sky. I sharpen and strengthen my imagination.

<It takes no time for my willpower to take form.

Light surrounds the Barrel as it transforms into a slender angel woman in armor.

Six giant wings burst through the armored combat dress and rise toward the heavens from my back.

The white wings tense and scatter glowing feathers while whipping up a powerful wind and spreading out as if to cover all of the earth.

“Sword Lady, our AA attack has failed. You are our only hope now. Good luck.”>

“Roger that. I do have one request, though.”

<“What is that?”>

“Connect my transmission to the broadcast station so my words reach all of France.”

<“Will do.”>

I can feel the air gathering at my back.

But it’s too soon. If I take flight now, I’ll stall out before reaching the enemy.

I have to build up the internal pressure, so I glare up at the sky while gathering my willpower and emotions. I shrink down and lower my hips to stop myself from taking off running while I imagine catching up to the enemy.

<My wings cry out with tension, each individual glowing feather spreads out to catch the air, and air builds up between them. The air currents multiply and I can hear the sharp sound of air intake without end.

A transmission reaches me within the wind.

“Sword Lady, the communication line is open, so say what you have to say.”>

Then it’s time to speak to France and the people living there! I need to tell them where I came from and that completely closing yourself off is not possible.

“This is Beretta McWild of US Intelligence. I will now bring down the German transport plane that recently took off and retrieve their suicide weapon. Watch the sky, everyone. A visitor from the outside world will stop France from closing itself off.”

Speaking distracted me just enough that I can’t hold back any longer. Time to do this!!

<The air explodes behind me and I began racing forward.

I instantly pass the sound barrier, breaking through a film of light refraction and water vapor.

My body feels so light, without any resistance at all. And it is supported by my running feet and the wings on my back. I’m moving so fast.>

My senses are directly linked to my body.

My vision rapidly rises. I can see the city of Paris, the collapsed residential area, the rising smoke, and the hilly region in the distance. All of it happens in a split second, of course.

My sharpened senses had simply Signed the image as a little self-indulgence.

I flap my wings to make it a reality.

<The six wings slam against the air to further accelerate me.

The roar of speed alone fills the silence to announce its presence.>

I race up the toppled Eiffel Tower. Once I take flight, I just have to strike the enemy.

“Can you all hear me? I’m from the outside world, yet here I am fighting within Paris. That means France has yet to close itself off. You only think it’s been fully closed off. So…so…”

I think about everything while running through all that speed. There is only one way to save my grandma, even if it is a gamble.

I want to try it.

I already said what I have to say, so all that remains is to act on it. Can I, someone who shouldn’t even exist in this world, really bring down that transport plane? And can I show everyone that I can?

<I am only 5 steps away from the end of the Eiffel Tower’s leg where I will make my leap into the sky.>

I cover that distance in less than the blink of an eye.

All I need is the willpower to go further than anyone else and the actions to do it.

With that final step, I speak the crucial words.

“Onward!!”

<All six wings flap at once, the air explodes violently, and my female Heavy Barrel is launched skyward faster than an artillery shell.>

Rosetta’s Journal[edit]

Earlier my master came to me while I was crying in that small room and took me outside.

I followed him while carrying my journal and Jack McWild’s journal which I had partially read.

Jack McWild’s journal was full of technical things. I could tell it contained information on his research on me – actually on my Belle de Marionnette predecessors – and on Lourd de Marionnettes. They – the hundreds of Belle de Marionnettes – were talked about like a single product in his journal.

I am thinking about that and sitting on the garden ground while writing this.

My master is seated next to me but I do not know why he wants me here.

City v05b 333.jpg

<The roar of an airplane shakes the air around me.

But that is not the only sound. I hear a louder and higher-pitched sound that reminds me of a shouting voice.

He taps my shoulder and points out ahead of us.

The Eiffel Tower is lying on the ground. It is an amusing visual. And a single contrail extends toward the sky from the tower’s leg pointed skyward.>

The cloud forms a perfect line. It looks like a white blade bisecting the sky as it grows bluer.

<When I follow it with my eyes I see an angel woman soaring through the sky.

She flaps her wings to move ever onward. While trying to fly higher she suddenly raises the spear in her right arm and throws it while white clouds appear from various parts of her body.

The spear flies in a straight line toward a large airplane.

It easily pierces the airplane’s wing. The wing seems to burst into pieces and the airplane tilts on its side and falls.

Several white parachutes emerge from the falling airplane. But the angel is not done yet. She lowers her speed to match that of the falling airplane – which is far larger than she is – and she raises a pillar of fire in her hands.

The rest happens in a split second. The giant airplane is sliced through by the flames and it burns in midair.

The angel leaps into the fiery blossom and breaks through.>

That angel looks so familiar to me.

It is Lady Beretta. It has to be her.

<I stand up and Jack McWild’s journal falls from my lap.

It lands with a page in the latter half sitting open. Something was held between the pages as a bookmark.>

?

<It is a single photograph. A Belle de Marionnette is seated in that small room with a middle-aged man standing behind her. A young girl with short brown hair is sitting on the Belle de Marionnette’s lap while reaching up to rub the Belle de Marionnette’s head.

The Belle de Marionnette’s eyes are still closed but there is a slight smile on her lips.>

Jack McWild’s Journal[edit]

June 18, 1929

This will be my last entry in this journal. This girl – the previously nameless Sein Frau – has woken up. This was my first time bringing Beretta here, but I never imagined she would smile just because Beretta spoke to her.

I really wanted to bring her with me to America, but I do not want to raise an Attesor Sein Frau during the naval journey by ship or in the uncertain lifestyle that will follow. So I plan to leave her with Guilliaum, the master of this mansion, and let him take care of her and manage her growth. Maybe it’s selfish of me, but I hope she can become his daughter by the time he finally feels he has atoned for his sins.

Maybe it’s wrong to say this, but once she grows up, I think she is bound to be so much like that nameless Sein Frau who was always by his side during the 5 years of the Attesor Project.

But I need to make sure he knows that this girl already has a name. Earlier, Beretta gave her a name: Rosetta.

That’s the same as the true name we gave to our research – that we took from Rose, who we all viewed as our heroine. I asked Beretta if she would consider choosing another name, but she’s such a stubborn girl.

“You made her, didn’t you? Then she’s your daughter and my little sister. So I took mom’s name, Rose, and added the end of my own name to get Rosetta. Clever, right?”

I wonder what he will think about this. Although given when they were actually born, Rosetta would actually be the older sister. And while Rosetta is my daughter, she is also his daughter and that nameless Sein Frau’s daughter.

The name Rosetta might have a horrific ring to it since it brings the reversed version – Attesor – to mind, but I feel like I can finally view the name free of all that baggage. When her mind was finally born into this world, it was through a smile. She was not born to fight. That is what I choose to believe.

Now I must finally bid farewell to a life I could not even reveal to my wife during my years here in Paris.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x83.”

Earlier, I saw the transport plane loaded with that silly suicide weapon brought down from the sky. The attacker still had their full-body Ober Emblem active as they held something and fell into a lake within the Boulogne forest near the Balleroy residence, but I did not react. I simply sent a single Mittel Panzer to investigate.

“The current time is 05:14:32.”

Paris has fallen and I expect the German army will lose, but I still have not settled things with my past.

There is still some time until my assault begins, but there is no need to rush. I have not been ordered to withdraw, I have no intention of doing so, and neither do my men. I will strike down all enemies who try to stop me.

<A light from the east illuminates the smoke rising from Paris.

The four-o’clock flowers in the mansion’s garden shine yellow, red, and white.>

I feel a memory reviving within me as I view those flowers. I recall flowers, a young woman, and a small child. I recall the scene from that photograph. I think that memory is inspiring some kind of emotion within me, but I cannot say for sure.

<I hear breaking metal from the direction I sent the Mittel Panzer.

The Mittel Panzer collapses out into the road. His shield flies through the air, his spear has fallen to the road, and he himself is lying motionless on his back.

Then someone else emerges onto the road.>

Beretta’s Write Bring: Entry in Heavy Barrel Grazie’s Memory Bank[edit]

I step out onto the road and I steal the spear dropped by the Middle Barrel I defeated with a kick.

But I can’t believe this. I managed to get down safely with the Wort Bombe, but its timed fuse was activated. It’s set to go off in about 20 minutes from now. Just like the documents I was given before “transferring” here said, the Wort Bombe is going to explode at 5:32:18 AM, so I have to make a decision in the next 20 minutes.

Will France carry a spirit of liberation?

I really think it will.

Let’s see, where’s the communication device to contact the others?

“Communication Device was damaged upon impact with the lake surface. Device is not repairable.”

Damn, not again. I hope the exciting scene of me bringing down the plane was broadcasted. If it was, it should have rekindled France’s spirit of resistance.

I look forward.

<The Balleroy mansion is down the road and a familiar Barrel stands in front of the main gate along with a few armored trucks. It is Rot Löwe, Heinz Berge’s Barrel.>

Oh, I’m super close to the Balleroy home. But what are you doing here? You’re not raiding the place, are you? This is getting interesting.

<Rot Löwe readies his sword and shield.>

Damn, what am I supposed to do? I don’t want Rosetta and the old man to be raided, but the impact of landing took out both my extra fuel tanks. I only have my reserve fuel. I also twisted my left arm while forcefully landing with the Wort Bombe and its stand in that arm.

Plus, I need to contact the others to get the Wort Bombe defused. …Actually, wait. Can’t I just head to the old man’s mansion and use that telegram-style communicator?

If so, I just need to defeat Rot Löwe.

<A thin layer of black light covers the blade of Rot Löwe’s sword. It is a divine spell weapon.>

Whelp, it’s all or nothing. If I can just defeat Rot Löwe, I’ll have a communicator I can use to check on the situation and I’ll have protected Rosetta and the old man.

Let’s do this. I dash forward, breaking the asphalt below my feet.

I go full speed from the very first step.

<Grazie runs forward. I’ve lost track of how many charges just like this I’ve made today.>

I can see the enemy. That pitch black Heavy Barrel is standing there alongside the armored trucks. Kicking his ass is my only option.

Wait, that’s being too harsh. I need to calm down some. Hm, the four-o’clock flowers in the garden are at full bloom – wait, no, that’s too calm and carefree. Getting careless here at the very end would not end well.

So I pour all my strength into running straight ahead.

I charge in without any hesitation.

<The enemy takes a deep fighting stance and the armored trucks move out in front of the Rot Löwe.>

Won’t work. I use my metal legs to jump over the armored trucks and thrust out my spear as if tackling the enemy.

<Rot Löwe is as absurdly quick as ever. He turns around while swinging his shield to catch the spear head on. The tip of the spear breaks.>

Oh, no!!

<The black Heavy Barrel already has his sword at the ready. His reaction speed is crazy.>

I shudder because I’m still in the air. I’m defenseless.

I kick off the roof of the armored truck I’m still passing over and leap even higher but also to the side.

<The slash arrives. It slices into my left thigh. The hydraulic system spurts hot oil.>

I was lucky. The leg wasn’t severed and there was no shockwave.

<That was because I drew the Third Flame Emperor from my hip and pressed it against Rot Löwe’s sword at the moment of the slash.

The Third Flame Emperor is knocked from my grasp and I see it stab down into the mansion’s garden out of the corner of my eye.>

Does that mean Phillip just saved me? I’m going to say it does. Anyway, the next attack is mine. This time, I’m definitely going to hit him.

I grab the butt end of the spear and forcibly spin myself around. I don’t even think about landing as I build up centrifugal force in the spear and swing it horizontally towards my opponent.

<The same attack I once used in that festival Heavy Barrel battle just scored a direct hit in actual combat. Rot Löwe had just made a slash and could not adjust his balance before the spear shaft sliced through the air and crashed into him.>

Did it hit!?

<It was not a direct hit. Rot Löwe let go of his sword and held his shield with both hands.

But his giant black body topples over, crashes into one of the armored trucks, and tumbles along the asphalt road.>

How in the world is his reaction speed so high? Plus, I didn’t even defeat him and have no more weapons.

<I land.>

My left leg is close to breaking. Once I realize that, I Sign the pain. Ow, ow, ow, ow. But I’m a good girl, so I won’t cry. I won’t. Anyway, I jump forward.

<I clear the main gate and reach the mansion at the top of the small sloped path.

I collapse down onto my stomach and my peripheral vision sees the black Heavy Barrel getting up from the road.>

Crap, is he coming for me? What should I do? The Resistance and the Allies won’t have noticed any of this is even happen-

<My vision suddenly grows dark.

Then a great mass lands on the ground next to me. Something enormous is standing right next to me. I can see its metal legs.

This is not Rot Löwe. He is still back on the road, up on his knees but unmoving.

Then who is this standing next to me?>


Chapter 22: Earth[edit]

City v05b 341.jpg

08/06/1944



Always

And forevermore

August 6, 1944[edit]

Rosetta’s Recréa: Entry in Lourd de Marionnette Protected Empress’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Recréa reaction speed has been set to approximately x120.”

I… Recréaed.

Jumping over the mansion’s roof was a lot easier than I expected. My memories know how to use this body. Most likely, those are my foundational memories as an Attesor Belle de Marionnette.

<A female Lourd de Marionnette is collapsed at my feet.

Lady Beretta cancels her Recréa and climbs out of the secondary cockpit with her clothes loosely gathered around her.

She looks up at me in surprise.>

She seems to know that it is me inside the Protected Empress. Just like I could always tell it was her inside a Lourd de Marionnette.

I’m so happy. I may have been a terrible older sister so far, but now it’s my turn to protect my younger sister.

This will be my first time doing that. This will probably turn me into a different person. From someone who was always protected to someone who can protect.

The two are different. They seem entirely different, but they are both me.

I’ve thought about something similar before. It’s like the difference between a comma and a period.

I kind of get the difference now.

A period is always placed at the very end of a sentence, but with a comma, the writer is free to place it wherever they think it should go to add in a breath and make things easier for the reader. A comma is not a period because you are free to place it where you want instead of following mechanical rules.

That means I was mistaken about something. I used to think Lady Beretta was like a period, but she is not. And neither am I.

<Lady Beretta’s expression changes from surprise to focused.

“I only came here to use the communicator.”

She takes a breath.

“I don’t want you to do die, Rosetta.”>

That is the same thing I always felt about her.

I do not think that will happen. Because I have been given the greatest power for protecting people. I believe I can protect her and myself.

<The black Lourd de Marionnette kneeling in front of the main gate finally stands back up.>

He tosses aside his broken shield and looks up at me with his sword in his right hand.>

I can sense his gaze on me. I know this battle will make me into a new person.

The only other thing I have to write about is my master. I can tell now that he avoided making me human because he thought it would only bring me sadness. Thank you for that.

Jack McWild was my father, but I will Signe here that my true parents were Guilliaum Balleroy and the nameless Belle de Marionnette who was by his side.

Now, to get started.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x120.”

I have encountered a new enemy. I have never before seen this female Grösse Panzer, but the shape of the armor suggests it is of American design.

“The current time is 05:16:28.”

I rush toward it. The time it takes to make a single step is horribly long with my accelerated thoughts. The nerves of my prosthetic body have already been accelerated thanks to the previous scuffle.

I take a step forward, bringing me through the gate. My first step within crushes the four o’clock flowers growing in the garden there. The sensation of the flowers, leaves, and stems being crushed reaches me 120 times more slowly than for a normal person. I sense how soft each individual flower is, how damp with dew the leaves are, and how the stems audibly snap.

The mixture of sensations reaches my sensory devices through my metal foot.

Why? Why do I sense it all so vividly? The name “four o’clock flower” brings something to mind.

A memory? Did something happen in a memory I can no longer recall?

Crushing the flower may have only lasted a second in real time, but with time sped up 120 times, it lasts around 2 minutes for me. The memory returns to me while I essentially relive the sensation 120 times in a row.

I recall the faces of a woman and a girl. I recall what I have become. I recall the flower. I recall a scream.

Why do these things bother me so much? And what started this?

Was it that earlier spear attack? That attack was identical to the one I took in Bourgogne 25 years ago, but unlike then, it failed to reach me.

But in that case, why are all these feelings coming back to me?

Could it be that attack-

Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Geschäftlich Schrif[edit]

The Psyche Outer device installed in the cervical vertebrae was damaged in the previous fall. It is now malfunctioning.

13% probability of safe memories resurfacing. Reconnecting in 0.00000013 seconds.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x130.”

The memories are rushing back to me through the Grösse Panzer.

I remember now. All of my senses are filled with emotion and willpower. At the same time, the pain I had been rejecting from the Panzer is hitting me directly. The Psyche Outer device was cutting off all this feedback from the Panzer.

But that is fine. I have my emotions, my willpower, and the memories to support them.

My memories tell me everything.

Belia. Susanna. Those are the names of my wife and daughter. I lost them and then chose to join the Panzer Ritter Project. Because of the scream I wanted to-

No, a Panzer Kavalier should not write that.

This Panzer in front of me must be piloted by a completed product of the Attesor Project. She can draw out the Panzer’s full power using her willpower and emotions.

And the girl who left the previous Panzer is one I have encountered a few times before. Did you know the truth this whole time?

No point in asking. But…my past, please let me redo things just once more.

Let me reach a new conclusion to that loathsome battle that was settled when my opponent lost control.

I have everything I lacked back then. I have the power to use the Panzer to its fullest, the experience to make rational decisions, the willpower to no longer fear my scream, and the emotions to push me to fight.

So for the very first time, I can truly use all of my strength.

“Wide-Range Vision Enhancement: Lernen”

I have the vision needed to view both heaven and earth.

“Armor Configuration ‘Normal Drive → Full Power Attack’: Lernen”

Memory and function – willpower and machine – struggle for control of it all.

“Preparing max power from all systems: Lernen”

I will use max power to show the ultimate respect for the ultimate opponent.

“Full Drive Ready: Lernen”

Rosetta’s Recréa: Entry in Lourd de Marionnette Protected Empress’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Recréa reaction speed has been set to approximately x137.”

My opponent has activated his Excède Emblème. I do not know what an Excède Emblème is, but my foundational memories tell me and activate my willpower.

<The black Lourd de Marionnette’s armored combat suit swells out as crimson armor juts out like fangs wet with blood.

The face of the Lourd de Marionnette becomes the face of a warrior wearing a lion mask.

It is colored red and black with the occasional glimpse of a gold metal. Crimson hair grows from the back of his head and flutters in the wind. That is no longer a machine.>

My foundational memories have decided that is dangerous and that I need to prepare to fight back, so all sorts of information reaches me after a short delay: how to keep the optimal distance, how to intercept attacks, how to use my weapon, and that I too can use an Excède Emblème.

I immediately make up my mind.

I choose to fight. I choose to protect Lady Beretta at my feet, my master in the mansion, Mallette, everyone else I know, everyone else I do not know, and everyone I will ever meet.

I need strength and mobility for that.

For some reason, the words needed to achieve that come from my foundational memories in English. In the language of America, home of Jack McWild.

“Activate Full Drive for all weapons and functions.”

I will end this!!

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x137.”

The enemy activates her Ober Emblem.

She is a female warrior – or perhaps the goddess Marianne – with a massive spear launcher on her right arm. Beautifully curved armor can be seen below her armored combat dress.

It is a splendid Ober Emblem and it reminds me of the one I once saw in the past. Not its shape – its nature. It is a body born of the machine and of the empty air’s ether and fueled by her willpower and emotions.

I pressurize my output to 21 times to fight back.

<The fangs created by transforming my back radiator emit powerful heat and begin to grow even further. To increase their heat radiation, the fangs audibly quiver in search of air. They sound like a rapid vibration.>

All of my actions will now exist in the supersonic realm.

Can she keep up with this? Can she handle this?

I had eliminated all my emotions and willpower to make my power the strongest, but now I move forward.

I stand on the battlefield that is the hill in front of the Balleroy residence.

<The air surrounding Rot Löwe suddenly explodes.

All resistance vanishes and my feet kick off the ground.>

I approach and the enemy’s eyes respond to my movement. But she does not move. Yes, her reaction speed may be high enough, but her movement speed is a different story.

A Grösse Panzer’s speed is influenced by the Schreibener’s ability and imagination. Sein Frau, you may have combined with a Grösse Panzer far more powerful than my own, but do you have the experience needed to activate that power?

If not, you are no match for me. I shall cut you down in a single blow.

The grip of my heavy cleaver rests in my right hand. I do not raise it or ready it – I simply attack.

<I launch an attack.>

It must have hit.

<But my opponent no longer exists along the path of the slash accompanied by a blast of air.

She has fallen back by a small amount.>

Did you outdo my Lernen? Then do you carry as much power output as me?

<Marianne is slower than me as she falls back along the mansion’s wall, but her speed is definitely rising.

She continues to provide quick bursts of greater power output. Instead of choosing the optimal time to hit her opponent with a burst of power as I do, she seems to be searching out her own limits. She is testing herself.>

I see. I can guess she has no experience using this power, but she has memories of it.

I pursue her.

<Marianne falls back. The speed and power in that action is only slightly below my own.

But we stand atop a narrow hill. She trips on the slope and stumbles.>

I use that chance to move several steps closer.

I make a powerful attack from below.

<But she tries to move toward me at the same time. She moves forward.>

Are you tackling me? It is too late for that. I will slice through you first.

<Nevertheless, she moves forward as if getting up from the slope. Her right arm is directed toward her own feet as the spear launcher on that arm launches a glowing spear 8 yards long.

The spear stabs into the ground like a pile bunker and her body is launched forward.>

Well played.

<She slips below my raised sword and slams her left shoulder into me.

The air circles around us and creates a powerful impact. Her left shoulder is broken before it hits my chest and cracks run through my chest armor.

Then the air explodes around us, producing a roar and an impact.>

That was a splendid attack. She seems to understand the value of forward movement.

<She does not stop.

She repeatedly launches her right arm’s spear to attack. It reminds me of something I have seen in the past.

Specifically, what I saw in Bourgogne.>

Rosetta’s Recréa: Entry in Lourd de Marionnette Protected Empress’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Recréa reaction speed has been set to approximately x138.”

My body moves however I want.

My willpower is moving my body.

<A roar spirals around me, shaking my ears.>

My surroundings move so slowly, I can see the wind, the dust and dirt appear to me as individual grains, and it takes 30 seconds or more for the glass shards to drop to the ground.

I am moving within all that.

<Spear clashes with sword and sword clashes with shield.

The concept of sound is no longer present and the impacts propagating through my body take its place.>

The metallic vibration is a pleasant thing.

This may be how I was always meant to sense things.

Speed.

Impacts.

Steel.

Reflexes.

Willpower and emotion.

I am a Belle de Marionnette developed to need those things.

I was born to fight, but I was not raised to fight. I am a fortunate machine.

So I see so many unrelated things while I fight.

<The enemy’s black blade collides with the shield portion of the Valkyrie Strike spear launcher and darkness scatters out.

I can see the city of Paris beyond that dark spray.>

I can see it so clearly.

I can see the outside world.

I can see.

<The enemy deflects my many spear strikes with his sword.

And the enemy makes his own attacks.>

I either dodge those or deflect them with my shield.

Our reactions and movements have reached perfection, so there are no openings to take advantage of.

We have created a series of actions that only the two of us could follow.

Is this something like a dance? I never did get to participate in the dance at the school festival.

I hope it is.

The noises roaring in my ears act as the music.

Our dodging and leaping act as the dance steps.

We make forceful turns, we do not take each other’s hand, and there are no rules.

We simply move in the hopes that our hand can reach our opponent.

<Our attacks continue to cry out in the form of impacts.

Our movements are supported by our willpower and emotions.>

So much cannot be heard as sounds.

So much cannot be seen with the eyes.

I entrust my body to all of those things to move in a way I never have before.

My entire body rejoices.

I feel tension but also fulfillment as I accelerate myself further and further.

“The current Recréa reaction speed has been set to approximately x145.”

Faster, sharper, stronger.

<With each attack, sparks of light and darkness scatter.

The next spray is born before the previous can fall and the movement never ceases.>

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x145.”

She is fast.

My output is already fixed at a rate of 21 times, but she is matching that.

Who is she?

Who in the world is she? I thought the Attesor Project ended in failure and was abandoned.

Yet here she is fighting like this.

There is no hesitation, joy, fear, or anger in her actions. She only seems to be testing herself as she matches my every move.

I can tell her power is growing with each and every attack.

Can she go further? Can she carry this even further? She fights like a baby bird testing out its wings.

<My horizontal attack creates a dark spray when blocked by her shield. The combined spear and launcher has to be heavy, but she wields it quite nimbly.>

That is a good Panzer. More than that, she must have powerful willpower and emotions.

I wish I could meet her.

If she is an Attesor Project Sein Frau, then she must be 25 this year.

That is about the age my daughter would be if she were still alive.

I had forgotten all about that until just now.

Did you say your name was Rosetta, combat Sein Frau?

Until now, I had forgotten all about my daughter and about you.

But no more.

Answer me.

Answer me on this battlefield surrounded by flowers and in this territory only we can reach. Answer me through our memory banks of Lernens and Verbesserungs.

Answer me, Belia and Susanna – my wife and daughter who exist only in my memories now.

Can I protect you two?

Can I continue on without forgetting you?

Answer me.

Answer me, product of the Attesor Project.

What does it mean to truly be the strongest?

Is it what I have been doing all this time?

Or is it something you have yet to show me!?

<My heavy cleaver hits her shield head on.

She takes a step back.

The ground below her crumbles away.

The hill’s slope collapses from the location she hit with her pile bunker earlier.

She loses her balance.>

Rosetta’s Recréa: Entry in Lourd de Marionnette Protected Empress’s Memory Bank[edit]

City v05b 359.jpg

“The current Recréa reaction speed has been set to approximately x142.”

Oh, no.

My foundational memories were unable to prepare me for that. The ground crumbled below my feet and I lost my balance.

The dance stops and this opponent will not overlook that.

<The next attack is a straight horizontal one.

A pitch black color draws a line in the air in order to slice through my torso.>

I need to dodge it.

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x148.”

I launch an attack.

And I step forward as if to break through the barrier of air.

<The air tugs on me and I hear a shattering sound as Rot Löwe’s fangs crash into and tear through that air, turning it to white clouds that scatter behind me.

The wind blows in from all directions and Rot Löwe attempts to incorporate that into its movements.

Using a slashing strike.>

I break through the barrier of raging air.

I complete the horizontal swing of my heavy cleaver.

<Just then, Marianne stabs her spear deep into the slope while lifting her body up alongside it.

Then she triggers the pile bunker.>

What is she doing!?

<The spear cannot stab any further into the slope.

So Marianne herself is instead pushed outwards. That armored female shape slides upwards along the rails of the giant spear.

She uses a sublime combination of speed, strength, and balance to send her 8-yard form to the peak of the glowing spear of the same height.

My heavy cleaver can slice through logs, so it easily does the same with the spear.

The light makes a sound like a metal wind instrument as it crumbles and turns to a glowing mist.

As the spear audibly shatters, the launcher is destroyed too. The right arm supporting that great weight breaks at the elbow and bends at an odd angle.

But she spins around as if doing a midair handstand and she leaps. She moves herself toward the patch of four o’clock flowers at the bottom of the slope.>

Well played again.

But now you have no weapon. Your left arm is broken at the shoulder and your right arm has lost its spear and broken too.

<Marianne lands in the patch of four o’clock flowers. The wind whips up around her, sending the flowers and their leaves flying.

She is about 70 yards away.>

Time to finish this.

Rosetta’s Recréa: Entry in Lourd de Marionnette Protected Empress’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Recréa reaction speed has been set to approximately x128.”

I need to steady myself.

<He has stopped moving as he continues to look down at me from the top of the hill.>

I can tell he is watching me.

Enough silence has passed to count it using ordinary units. One second, then two.

He is not moving.

<A gentle wind blows through and blows the dust away from the slope

The sky has already grown very blue, but the sun has yet to rise.>

Today will probably be a sunny day.

In true August fashion, it should also be a hot day.

<Meanwhile, I hear his voice coming from his Lourd de Marionnette’s voice device.>

I want to hear it.

<“Attesor Sein Frau Rosetta, can you hear me?”>

I can only nod because my body has no voice device.

<But he responds to my nod with one of his own.

And…

“Let us get straight to the point and end this with a single attack.”

He lowers his hips as if gathering strength.>

Is he readying an attack? If so, there is something I wish to say to you too.

I cannot do so vocally as I lack a mouth, but I will write it here in this memory bank.

You can make this final attempt, but I will not give up.

I will demonstrate for you why the Attesor Project was said to be the strongest.

I will demonstrate a level my predecessors never could reach.

I will show you why only Belle de Marionnettes could be used for the project.

I will show you why I am the final product and what my master belatedly told me about the Attesor Project.

<He nods as if he read my thoughts.

And he speaks.

“You’re on.”>

Here he comes. There is but one thing I must do in response. I swing my left arm to pick up what I had noticed earlier.

Yes, the sword that Lady Beretta’s Lourd de Marionnette had dropped.

<Marianne picks up the sword stabbed into the ground.>

And!!

Heinz Berge’s Schreiben: Entry in Grösse Panzer Rot Löwe’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Schreiben reaction speed is approximately x145.”

My will is ordering me to continue forward, so I take a step with a cloud of water vapor trailing behind me.

Instead of walking normally, I spread my legs to the side and run down the slope like I am mountain climbing. I pick up speed in a mere three steps, transforming Rot Löwe into a 30-ton projectile.

<I reach top speed about halfway down the hill.>

Then I jump.

<With a creaking of straining metal, my black armored combat suit flutters behind me and the Grösse Panzer soars.>

The sonic boom created by my Panzer destroys everything around me. I aim to jump approximately 100 yards. My path will take me right through the enemy and I will use the road outside the gate as my landing runway.

I make the jump.

If she thinks she can stop this, then she can try. Let’s see if the Attesor Project has any more tricks up its-

<She moves.

She swings her body to bring her sword-wielding left arm alongside her broken right arm.>

Does she plan to counterattack with the Third Flame Emperor?

That is not possible. My speed is so much greater.

<But she readies the weapon.

For some reason, ether light gathers around her right arm.

Her Ober Emblem is already active, yet new ether is gathering on top of that.>

This is not my first time seeing more ether surrounding an Ober Emblem.

This should not be possible.

Ober Emblems are fixed. Once they activate, no further ether can be emitted.

Yet she is doing it.

I have seen this before.

When the Sourire lost control in Bourgogne, light surrounded it in much the same way!

<First, the ether surrounding her right arm transforms into a right arm.

Except this arm is even more curved and humanlike than the original one.

This is Ober Emblem healing.

But the transformation does not end there.

More light gathers at her right arm and rapidly takes a certain form. A new launcher is being created with the Third Flame Emperor contained in the center.>

Is that-

<Her Ober Emblem was destroyed once, but that only triggered a further evolution.>

I remember now.

When a Sein Frau evolves, she gains whatever functions she desires.

<She aims this new launcher at me.

She aims it and silently fires it.>

It scores a direct hit.

Rosetta’s Recréa: Entry in Lourd de Marionnette Protected Empress’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Recréa reaction speed has been set to approximately x100.”

It all happens in an instant. Fortunately, I dismantled a simple gun and inspected how it worked earlier today.

The Liberator was crudely made, but it came in handy.

When the flame spear hit him, he lost the entirety of his right arm, but he still refused to fall.

He had lost some momentum, but at the instant he crashed into the ground, he kicked off with his right leg. He adjusted his positioning without giving any thought to the recoil that would hit his limbs and frame.

The wind whipped up and he somehow managed to avoid falling.

<He slides approximately 30 yards along the garden and comes to stop while down on one knee.

His Excède Emblème has vanished and heat shimmers from the radiator on his back.>

Two minutes have passed like that.

But I have not removed my Excède Emblème. I am waiting. Waiting for him to stand up.

<His right shoulder is missing all the way to his chest and his remaining limbs were nearly torn off as well.>

What does that matter?

We still have not found an answer. We still have not discovered what it means to be the strongest.

<His body begins to tremble.>

Is this it?

<The black Appareil stands up as if to answer me.

His body strains and he falls to his hands and knees, but he still tries to get up.>

He just fell again.

<But he has not given up.

Oil flows from him like blood, his armor has split, and his frame is exposed, but he still tries to stand.

He lifts his left knee, places his left hand on it, and stands up.

Slowly. So very slowly.>

The wind is blowing through. The pleasant morning air arrives through the brick city.

<The wind washes over that male Lourd de Marionnette said to be the strongest while he shakes as if convulsing and he pushes himself up with just his left leg. His left hand restrains the shaking of the leg and he leans forward while trying to somehow get his trembling right leg underneath him as well.>

Can he stand?

<The black Lourd de Marionnette nods as if he could see my thought.

He places his trembling right foot on the ground and removes his left hand from his left leg.

He straightens his back and tries to stand tall in the morning air as he looks my way.>

Our eyes meet.

<The dew on his sight devices makes it look like he is crying.

And just as our eyes met, he suddenly collapses.

He is falling.>

Yes, I know exactly what to do when that happens.

I catch him in my arms.

<Metal and ether crash together with a sound like a metal wind instrument, but Marianne successfully supports that broken and weary Lourd de Marionnette. I hold him close as if burying his face in my chest.>

It’s okay. Everything will be okay.

<I hear something like a breath from his speech device which is so close to my ear.

But he is not breathing. It is a song sung with a set rhythm.>

I believe he is speaking German, but I recognize the rhythm. It is the final section of the song Lady Beretta taught me:

So that no one would grieve again.

That which is endless and cannot be grasped.

That which is vast and cannot be held.

I am with thee.

Yes, yes. Your grief and everything else are over now.

I heard what you had to say, so rest now. So that you may stand back up someday.

<I lay him down in the patch of the garden with the most four o’clock flowers. The flowers scatter like feathers and land atop the Lourd de Marionnette as if to decorate him.>

It is now over.

Lourd de Marionnette Protected Empress’s Phrase[edit]

Canceling full-body Excède Emblème. Shifting back to standard mode.

Rosetta’s Recréa: Entry in Lourd de Marionnette Protected Empress’s Memory Bank[edit]

“The current Recréa reaction speed has been set to approximately x3.”

My Excède Emblème is gone now.

I am so, so very tired. The dawn still has not arrived as I stand in the garden as a Lourd de Marionnette, which is what I was always meant to be.

<The mansion has not quite collapsed, but its wall is crumbling and part of the roof is missing.>

Is Lady Beretta okay? I climb the hill to find out.

And…

<My master and Lady Beretta emerge from behind the mansion. Lady Beretta is still only draping her clothing around herself, but she now has a white bandage around her left thigh.>

She looks up at me.

She does not know that I am an Attesor Project Belle de Marionnette. And she has thought a lot about what it means to be a Lourd de Écrivain. And I have-

<Lady Beretta scratches her head while looking up at me.

“Hey Rosetta, can you hear me? You made a mess of the mansion, so I can’t really use the communicator or anything else. Do you feel bad about that?”>

I can only nod since I have no voice device. I consider canceling my Recréa, but I do not know what I am supposed to say to her when I do.

<“Also, I’m not really sure how this happened, but you’ve Recréaed into that thing and…”

She briefly looks over at my master and then back at me.

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?”>

City v05b 371.jpg

My strength leaves me and I fall to my knees.

I recall that it was always like this. Even at the school festival’s closing ceremony. Whenever I would ask her something important, she would answer in the same way.

<“That’s just how it is, Rosetta.”>

I do not know if that was just my memory replaying or if she actually said it again.

But it makes me cry all the same.

I look up to the sky and cry. I have no voice and there are no actual tears, but I am crying. I do not have to consciously try to cry. I simply know the tears are flowing.

<Lady Beretta steps up on my thigh an climbs up my kneeling form.

She stands on my right collarbone, places a hand on the brim of my head, and gives me a serious look.

“Hey, Rosetta, can I ask you just one thing more? Earlier, I fell from the sky holding this happy old bomb called the Wort Bombe.”

She points toward the Boulogne forest. There is a large lake there.

“I left it over there. Stop it from detonating and you can liberate France, but a single person will be erased from the world. But if you let it detonate, then that person will remain and France will be liberated, but only if everyone across France – enemy and ally alike – want to be happy.”

She takes a breath.

“The thing is, if everyone in France still carries unease in their hearts when it detonates, France won’t be liberated. So what do you think?”>

What do I think?

<“Can you trust everyone? We only have about 5 minutes until it goes off, so it has to be a quick decision. So if you can’t trust everyone, then hurry into that forest to stop the Wort Bombe. But if you can trust them, let it go off while we leave from these gates to go meet everyone. So what do you think?”>

I know exactly how I should respond to her serious look, but am I really allowed to say this? When I carry the power of a weapon?

<I suddenly notice something moving at my feet.

It is Mallette. She ran out into the garden with the bandage still around her stomach and she is looking up at me. And that is not all. Another Fantasmé Renard appears from the hill.

“Oh, it’s Beretta,” says Lady Beretta.

They both slowly, slowly run toward the main gate to leave the garden and they stop to look up at me once more.>

They almost seem to be waiting for me. Or inviting me outside.

I think about Lady Beretta who is right there next to me. And I sense just how calm my thoughts are. I think about my own body.

I pushed myself really hard, so can I really still move like normal?

<While I think about that, Mallette and Beretta begin to run again.

Toward the main gate.

I see several people on the main road beyond that gate. They are the people of Paris.

They must not have been able to bear staying indoors any longer, so they ran outside.

Men, women, the elderly, and children all raise their voices as they walk toward the center of the city.>

I can hear all their voices.

Yes. Yes, I understand. I know what they are thinking.

And I know how to respond to Lady Beretta as well.

<Some of the people walking or running along the road wave when they see me.

I hear them calling me an angel or Marianne. Some of them must have seen the previous battle and Lady Beretta’s Excède Emblème.>

I cannot speak right now, but I can provide a much clearer answer.

I stand up and my willpower moves my body.

<My vision rises up and I can look down on the city of Paris.

The morning sun has begun to rise beyond the city. It is so bright. That light is different from the moonlight that my mechanical parts as a Belle de Marionnette love so much.

The people on the road come to a stop, look to me, and cheer.

Down by my feet, my master nods once and begins walking toward them all with his cane.>

I will go too. There is nothing to fear now. The two Fantasmé Renards lead the way and Lady Beretta accompanies me. I am sure the man I fought just now will join us eventually. Always forevermore, we will fight to protect someone.

<On my swaying shoulder, Lady Beretta speaks someone’s name and smiles. Then she raises her voice while pointing toward Paris and not the forest.

“Okay, let’s head out, Rosetta! No point in sitting around here!!”

I hear more cheering.>


Final Chapter: Open[edit]

City v05b 375.jpg

08/06/1944



I believe

August 1, 1944[edit]

Rose Francisca’s Journal[edit]

The current time is 8:27 AM. I am still alive in a room at Autun’s general hospital.

When I woke up yesterday and checked my calendar, I was shocked to see the time of the Primitif had already passed. It had not reset to September of ’43.

The Rondeau has been broken. And without anyone noticing.

Everything outside of France has been reverted and linked to August 6, 1944 – which I guess counts as a Primitif for the outside world.

France had no Primitif, it has been returned to its original time period, and it has reconnected to the rest of the world.

Only a few people besides me are aware of this.

The sun is shining outside. I wonder what those two girls are doing in that light. They haven’t contacted me, but I hope they are doing well. I learned yesterday that the Germans fully surrendered in Paris on the 24th and the people view those two as heroes, but they still returned to the front line to rescue a friend from being transported to a German concentration camp.

The newspapers say Paris was liberated and the rest of France followed suit, but no one has noticed the other liberation that occurred behind the scenes.

But I know. France was truly liberated. From here on, World War Two will pass through France and pour into Germany.

An uncharted future now awaits us.

There is nothing more for me to do. I had the nerve to act like a prophet, but once I woke up yesterday, the mayor was there by my side and he immediately yelled at me for what I did. And the rest of the village see me as a perfect target of gossip.

Maybe that’s just how it is.

But one thing does sadden me: My true daughter must no longer exist. France’s liberation required her erasure as payment.

I think I will read his letter now. The one my daughter left with her other self.

So-

<Just then, the door to my hospital room opens and a girl walks in. She brushes back her brown hair.

“Hi, mom. I don’t know what in the world is going on, but US Intelligence sent me a notice that my mission was canceled and it was dated last year for some reason, I received a letter saying to come here from someone with my exact name, and everyone in the village is acting like they know me? Could you explain all this to me to make up for not seeing me for 14 years?”

I have not seen her for 14 years, yet I remember that assertive look on her face like it was yesterday.>

Jack McWild’s Letter: To Rose[edit]

I don’t think I need any of the introductory formalities here.

I also expect this letter isn’t really necessary.

If it does come in handy, that must mean I failed to complete my fight. Then this letter will be the only thing to bring back together the liveliest women I have ever known by clearing up all the misunderstandings.

Rose, I plan to go visit you soon.

There is something I must tell you: we have two daughters.

One is Beretta who has currently gone to the beach to have some fun.

The other is a girl who has yet to fully become our daughter.

She is currently staying with a good friend of ours. If I complete my fight, then I plan to raise her along with that friend.

You do not know her, but you should understand once you meet her. She has inherited your name and your will, so she might as well be Beretta’s big sister. I am certain you will know what I mean once you meet her.

I must tell you about that and that Beretta is growing up big and strong.

If the world ever finds true peace or if my fight here proves to be no more than a misunderstanding, then I will go see you and eventually bring our two daughters to you.

I am sure they will both choose to call you their mother.

So first, I want to see you.

What are you doing now? I heard from a friend that you returned to your hometown in Bourgogne after leaving Paris. I know you are there, so I don’t have to worry about your past or where you have gone.

I hope that you can remain true to yourself there.

Are you staying true to yourself by being the Rose Francisca who always works to help others?

I hope you are.

And I hope our two daughters can as well.

I hope they can fight for someone else’s sake always and forevermore.

And that they will never feel the need to suppress who they are.

I believe they can grow up to be someone who only thinks about bringing happiness to all and never has to think about hurting anyone.

Rose, can you believe in them and support them? I want to meet you and discuss our future. So I will gather my luggage and pay you a visit.

I swear I will.

Closing Statements[edit]

City v05b 381.jpg

The rest, as they say, is history, so reference your history books for what happens next.

This is not the place to explain what destiny awaited them after that. But I will say that the Missel family did not die out and a certain Belle de Marionnette factory in San Francisco remains in business.

They rescued me from a train headed for Auschwitz, so I was able to see the end of the war. The Protected Empress and Grazie vanished somewhere in history afterwards, but none of us ever forgot what they did for us. Let us look at one section of the Lourd de Écrivain song:

“So that no one would grieve again.

“That which is endless and cannot be grasped.

“That which is vast and cannot be held.

“I am with thee.”

One of the documents I have gathered is a photograph of those two girls wearing the dresses they tried on at a boutique. This proves they did indeed exist. It might not be a bad idea to Signe here that the alternate history described here was indeed real and the world was indeed remade.


-Mallette Harculia, Representative of the Perdus Artifice Compilation Editing Committee from the Modern Division of the French Royal Historical Society


Afterword[edit]

Kawakami Minoru’s Afterword: To the Readers[edit]

Yeah, I’ve gotta follow the format, don’t I?

Anyway, we ran a survey after Osaka, and the readers basically said, “Kawakami-san has been really lewd lately. Is he okay? Did he have a bad experience or something? Really, what’s going on?”

I want to know what’s going on too, honestly.

Anyway, let’s switch things up by starting on a more serious topic.

With Paris, I feel like you’ve gotten a pretty good look at what the City Series is as a whole.

With those 5 titles, I’ve managed to show off the basic structure of the world (not fully, though).

From here on, I plan to expand on the world a lot, so I’ll be looking at the future books as a sort of “second season”.

So with Paris and the other previous books (the first season?), I was getting into the shared elements of the world and the individual elements of each city, but with the second season, I will use all that as a foundation to focus more on the individual elements of each city, the characters, the items, and my usual craziness.

Think of it like having the groundwork laid out to start making a leap ahead in whatever direction I want.

So I guess you could say I have finally drawn out a visible starting line, thin though it may be.

As an author, I would describe this feeling like soaking in a really nice warm bath. (I don’t expect anyone at all to get what I mean from that.)

A big thank you to everyone who has supported me this far. I’m going to keep things exciting as I continue onward.

Hm.

Let’s follow up that serious talk with, um, a phone call! Yes, a phone call!

And to make things more interesting, I’ll call directly from the office. (I’m in a weird mood today.)

“Hey, K-kun. What are your thoughts on Paris?”

“Oh, Senpai. You really like the sexy stuff, don’t you?”

“That’s a sudden accusation.”

“A whole bunch of people say so.”

“Every member of the human race other than me is a liar, so you can’t trust a thing they say.”

“Eh? So I’m a liar too?””

“Of course. Everything you say is the opposite of true, so think carefully before you speak.”

“Umm, then yes homo, but I really hate you, man.”

“That is an unnecessarily complicated gag!!”

Damn, is everyone I know weird?

So with that (with what?), the City Series is about to really get started.

How exciting.

Anyway, my background music this time was, as announced last time, from a video game. I think Say Papa by Zuntata would be good for the final chapter.

While rereading Part B, I was wondering “Who was the most selfish?”

And this definitely had the usual City Series feel to it, didn’t it?

Anyway, the second season(?) begins next time with Berlin. I’m serious.


July 1999. An extremely sunny morning.

-Kawakami Minoru

Satoyasu’s Page[edit]

City v05b 385.jpg

Top: And with that…


Middle:

Thank you for seeing it through to the end. I got permission from the author for this page.

-Satoyasu


Right sword: That Thing from Hong Kong

Left sword: This One Too


Bottom: Sorry



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