City Series:Volume5b Chapter18
Chapter 18: Life
07/29/1944 – 07/30/1944
I am currently
In the plaza
In front of Autun Station
July 29, 1944
Letter from Sword Lady #12: To Beretta who Inherited my Name
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
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
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
Rosetta’s Journal: Today’s First Entry
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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