City Series:Volume5b Chapter15
Chapter 15: Surprise
07/05/1944 – 07/17/1944
The Barrel that had fought off
The black dragon
July 5, 1944
Rosetta’s Letter: To Master
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.
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
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.
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?”
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.”
“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
Rose Francisca’s Journal
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
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
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
Heinz Berge’s Journal
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
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
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
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
“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.
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.
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?
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