Panzerpolis Berlin 1937
Left: Welcome to Berlin, the first city.
Bottom: By Kawakami Minoru
Berger’s bottom text:
Destiny is the power to separate.
Hazel’s bottom text:
What is the Messiah?
Berlin – A city destined to be armored.
A city of metal and stone. Everything gathers in this city and everything begins here.
Schweitzer’s bottom text:
Hero: A hero is too strong to back down.
Bermark’s bottom text: Magic Bullet
Magic Bullet: A Magic Bullet is a shot guaranteed to hit.
Nordpolarmeer (Arctic Ocean) – A frozen ocean of midnight sun and fog.
A polar airspace of sea and air. A battlefield that guides all to an ending and a new beginning.
Right bottom text:
Sylphide: The Sylphide is an unstoppable wind.
Left bottom text:
It all belongs to people and machines.
1. Eingeweide-type Aerial Warship Sylphide – The ultimate aerial warship designed by Marsch Gant of the Geheimnis Agency’s Development Division. Currently running wild.
2. Size D Phlogiston Tank – A small battery containing spirit fuel Tune-Bust tension. Also comes in C and AA sizes.
3. Male Grösse Panzer Blau Löwe – Ship-top combat Grösse Panzer belonging to the German Air Force. Aerial combat possible when using the Ober Emblem Luft Fang on its back.
Top left (in blue): Recommended by the Greater Germanic Reich Geheimnis Agency
Top right (in red): German Folktale Comics Chapter 31
Title: 9th Section of the Ruling King
Right of title: Dageki Bunko
Box: German Folklore Comics!!
And so the one-armed youth with a divine name somehow managed to bring the Messiah girl from the Black Forest.
At the time, our Reich was plagued with earthquakes, lightning, fires, and delinquent fathers, but the Messiah girl paid no attention to any of that because she had so much trouble looking after her pet dragon.
“Listen, we’re going to head down to the world below, so make sure you don’t munch on any of the villagers for a snack, okay? No eating that guy walking in front of us either.”
The one-armed youth pretended not to hear it, but a shudder ran down his spine.
That dragon did not really understand the concept of jokes.
Are people or machines better at preventing mistakes?
Germany’s 1935 Armored Hammer of God Incident was like a small stone that sent ripples through the spring of the world.
The defense industries around the globe poured their hearts into analyzing the new power source seen in that incident, which heated up defense development all around the world whether people liked it or not.
The incident led Germany itself down the path of a military nation, so after declaring themselves the Greater Germanic Reich in 1938, they began work on a militarized city project called the Panzerpolis Project.
However, that would come to an end in 1943.
What was this project that required casting aside the history of the Black Forest as a home to nonhumans and gods?
What did that project include and what mistakes did it make that led to its eventual downfall?
Could it be that it failed specifically because no mistakes were made?
The answers to these questions begin in Berlin during 1937, the year before Germany declares itself the Greater Germanic Reich.
Now, the answer begins with the story of a certain girl’s decision.
“My friend, I find myself facing a far richer future than I ever dared imagine. My power is immeasurable and so much is rising up within me and playing music!” (Musician Richard Wagner, excerpt from a letter written while writing The Ring of the Nibelung.)
Prologue: The Wind Prepares
By this time
Everyone else will have begun their fight
Their fight to prove themselves
Origin of Germany and the Unreif Germane
Germany’s foundation is said to have been the Germanic land covered by the Black Forest, or Schwarzwald, in the eastern half of the Western Roman Empire in the 8th century. That land originally passed down the polytheistic stories of the Edda and nonhumans lived alongside humans there, but it transformed into a humancentric country through the spread of Christianity with the support of Charlemagne.
But after the emperor’s death, the empire split between east and west and it was rumored the apocalypse was fast approaching.
But in the middle 10th century, a nonhuman girl known only as the Messiah emerged from the Black Forest, accompanied by a dragon and a young man with a divine name, and she brought the nonhumans and humans together. She met with the Duke of Saxony who had showed the greatest resistance to the emperor’s army and Germany was remade into a collection of decentralized regional governments.
The acts of the nonhuman Messiah girl are still told by bards in Sections 6-26 of the creation story known as the Unreif Germane.
The cold and powerful wind of the night never ceased blowing so far up in the sky.
Nothing was immune to that wind’s force, so the thick clouds were held down from above, blocking off the light of the sky. It was a moonless night that left everything dark and indistinct.
With the dark sky above and the pitch black ground below, only the sound of the blowing wind filled the space between those two shadowy expanses.
The wind did not make just one sort of noise. The blowing, sweeping, and crashing winds all produced different noises that joined together in a deep harmony. The sky had air currents much like the currents of the ocean, giving mass to the air that caused it to rumble deeper the heavier that part of the air was.
Without warning, a new sound joined the orchestra of roaring and soaring winds.
It was the high-pitched and monotone blare of a siren.
That note of warning brought tension as a single beam of light shot out from a point in the sky to illuminate the clouds.
That was a searchlight.
The highly directional beam came from what looked like a long, flat surface located just below the clouds.
The light reflected back off the clouds just barely illuminated the crude boxy design of a metal aerial ship.
There was nothing to judge its size by in the empty night sky, but the noise it made was enough to tell just how large it was.
The crash of the wind against its metal hull was a deafening roar and it never was shaken as it soared through wave after wave of windy air. Its bow remained perfectly on course while it scattered the sound of the wind all around itself.
The enormous ship was more than 200 yards long.
Instead of one of the carrier ships developed after World War One, this was an old-style aerial warship loaded with main cannons.
It was from the previous war, except the identification markers had been removed from its old-fashioned flat armored hull and – with the exception of the main cannons and secondary cannons on its deck – all weaponry had been removed and the holes sealed up with steel panels.
The armor of the main cannons and secondary cannons did not quite match the color of the rest, so it must have been reequipped after the ship was disarmed thanks to the Treaty of Versailles.
The steel warship was fulfilling its original purpose – it was fighting.
But instead of the 3 mains cannons on its deck, it was firing into the clouds behind it using the three sets of triple 2-inch secondary cannons lined up next to the bridge.
The firing angle was low and the bullets launched into the clouds drew the light of tracer rounds behind them.
Something was in the clouds behind the aerial warship and that something was pursuing it.
But that was not all.
The number of searchlights increased. Dozens of them now shined up from the ship to illuminate a few points in the clouds.
Similarly, the alarm blaring from the ship grew clearer and louder.
Faint light gathered in the outdated (and thus very large) main engine at the rear of the ship. The same happened to the 5 sub-engines on either side of it. That ceremony would provide the ship with more speed, so the engines brightened their lights all together.
The bottom of the clouds was illuminated by the light of the engines, creating a dark red ceiling above.
The dark of the night had been broken as the ship accelerated while also making a turn.
It veered left with a roar. The front starboard engines and the rear port engines revved up to make the turn.
It was trying to escape while also securing a good angle of fire.
It sped up below the heavy canopy of clouds, leaving the roar of the trembling wind behind.
Speed was prioritized above all else as it continued through the night where the passage of time was hard to track.
But the pursuer did not wait for the warship to reach max speed.
The light shining on the clouds revealed the truth.
The searchlights suddenly moved as the round disk of their lights drew a large arc along the surface of the clouds and circled in front of the aerial warship.
Whatever was in the clouds had outdone the warship’s acceleration to move out ahead of it.
A moment later, the pursuer burst from the clouds.
The pursuer illuminated by the lights was as blue as the midday sky and as sharp as a Werkzeug’s blade.
The 30-yard hunk of metal could have easily been mistaken for an enormous bladed weapon, but it was actually a small tactical aerial warship.
Two staff-like things were stabbed into the top of the ship.
Those were bullet cylinders. It was leaking white smoke where it had been hit by those two physical projectiles instead of the Kugels fired by divine spell weapons.
It was damaged. And with the desperation of an injured beast, the blue craft charged toward the turning aerial warship.
A contrail wrapped around it and trailed behind it as a band of white.
But there was no light from a spirit jet or rocket on the rear of the craft, nor did it have any ejection points or intake vents.
Nevertheless, the blue craft flew in to attack.
The aerial warship had turned its right side toward the blue craft flying along a straight line, so it opened fire with the secondary cannons on the right side of its bridge.
The shots were fired to the outside of their turn.
The barrage of destruction crashed into the charging blue craft with tremendous force thanks to their relative speeds.
Or it should have.
But the blue craft had vanished from that airspace. All that remained was smoke spreading like a ring of water vapor from the blue craft’s last seen position, a loud roar, and the two bullet cylinders that had been piercing its back.
It had stopped its advance and suddenly shot backwards at a supersonic speed.
A normal fighter could never move like that.
The two claws digging into its back were torn out by its momentum and left behind in the empty air.
Several flame bullets burst and exploded in the space the blue craft had just vacated and a chain reaction of explosions spread out across all the bullets.
The explosive flames were accompanied by a great cacophony of noise.
But explosions that failed to hit their mark were no more than fireworks. The way the blue craft flew back in from the distance made that abundantly clear. It had backed away to dodge and then reversed its movement yet again.
The holes in its back glowed faintly as they filled back in. The light racing along its surface flowed through the emblems forged into its armor panels, activating their recovery power.
The blue craft was headed toward the side of the aerial warship that had only completed half its turn.
It charged in.
But that was when the aerial warship revved up its front engines to suddenly decelerate.
Its inertia could not escape to the front, so its massive rear end swung around to the outside to dodge.
It was a slow movement, but the massive hull did begin sliding sideways through the air. It performed a midair version of an inertial drift. Its bridge tried to roll outside of the inertial force.
At the same time, the three sets of double 8-inch main cannons aimed starboard, to the outside of its drift.
They aimed for the blue craft.
The three sets were arranged vertically and they spewed light starting from the bottommost set.
Instead of firing Kugels or Bogens, these were Pseudo-Drach Kanones. Those weapons mechanically reproduced the dragon breath attacks known as a Drachen Kanone. The beams they fired scorched the night sky with far more light than the searchlights.
They fired again and again, sending tremors through the warship’s hull and threatening to send it rolling to the right. Using that recoil and the swinging of its stern, the ship made a rapid 180-degree turn.
That just left the outcome of the attack. The light flew toward the blue craft.
The first shot missed. As did the second.
The third was on course for a direct hit.
The light flew toward the blue craft.
That was precisely when the blue craft showed its first sign of engaging the warship in combat.
It drew Schwerts from the two Kunst Eyes on its front end.
The two raised swords of light sliced through the incoming Pseudo-Drach Kanone light.
Light created to be launched clashed with light created to cut. The latter was far more powerful.
The Pseudo-Drach Kanone light turned to spray and scattered across the night sky.
The dust of dragon power soared through the air like flower petals in the late spring night, but the blue craft ignored them.
It advanced and ascended to circle above the aerial warship in an instant.
It was fast.
It suddenly made a 180-degree turnaround to point straight down.
After beginning to descend, it changed direction to direct its prow straight down and it accelerated toward the warship bridge directly below it. That put it in a blind spot for the warship in the sky. Without slowing, the blue craft drew long swords of light from the two Kunst Eyes on its front end and the three on its back end.
The giant aerial warship below was the sole destination of its descent.
It aimed for the bridge Just once, it performed a roll to adjust its course, but otherwise focused entirely on its descent.
Just then, a figure appeared on the roof of the rectangular bridge.
It was a human figure.
The man’s large frame was covered by a combat coat.
However, his right arm was left bare up to the shoulder. That was because his metal prosthetic arm was far too large to fit below the coat.
His biological hand removed his German Military Geheimnis Agency cap that bore the rank insignia of a lieutenant and he tossed it into the wind which was too powerful for the ship’s wind resistance field to fully block. That wind washed over a young face with close-cropped blond hair. His face was as square as his build and it was already directed straight upwards. The red jewel in the women’s earring on his left ear shined in a searchlight rising from the bridge below.
The wind and the noise hit him as he watched the incoming blue craft.
For a split second, he glared up at that blue craft.
His gaze accurately found the glass of the cockpit situated at the top.
He narrowed his eyes and slowly moved his lips.
“Is this the final freedom you found, Marsch?”
Then he raised his prosthetic right arm. It was made from heavy metals, but he could easily move it thanks to the light surrounding its weight reduction emblem panel. It looked like a cannon or launcher attached to a large, boxy upper arm, but a metal staff was visible sticking out of the muzzle.
He saw the blue craft raise its 5 long swords to attack the bridge – no, to attack him.
But he aimed his right arm’s launcher all the same.
“Would it be a mercy to put you out of your misery myself!?”
The launcher seemed to respond to his voice when the powder within produced a deafening bang. Ether light burst from the muzzle and a large divine spell powder cartridge was ejected from the port halfway up the prosthetic arm.
With a metallic sound, the metal staff awash with emblem light was launched from the muzzle and struck the space out ahead.
Before the ether-engulfed staff could be pulled back into the launcher, a transformation came over the space it had struck.
Bluish-white lines of ether were drawn out in front of the blue craft, marking out a 50-yard cube of space.
The blue craft immediately evaded to the right and the man spoke as he watched it.
“Der Held – Erklärung – Beweisen.”
After speaking the words to activate his weapon, he began to recite his Text.
The ether light emitted from his prosthetic arm drew that Text onto the world itself.
<The Hero is impervious to all forms of power.>
To the port of the blue craft’s evasive actions, the space filled with bluish-white ether light was split apart.
The blue craft had failed to fully escape that space, so two Schwerts on its port side were cut away at the base.
The space between the man’s prosthetic arm and the blue craft had been sliced through for just an instant. In a process known as Erklärung, the words he and his arm had spoken were made real through the power of ether.
<The broken power shall not be repaired.>
With two of its swords lost, the blue craft rolled again, adjusted its position, and turned away from the warship’s bridge.
With a roar and the blowing of wind, it dropped below the warship.
It did not return. The battle was over with that one brief encounter.
One of the severed swords of light dropped down and stabbed into the bridge’s roof behind the man.
The man lowered his prosthetic arm and shut his eyes in the wind atop the bridge.
He could hear the roar of that wind, the rumble of the aerial warship’s engines, and…
“Lieutenant! Lieutenant Schweitzer!!”
Hearing his name, Schweitzer opened his eyes and turned toward the voice.
An old soldier in the same black uniform as him had climbed to top of the bridge.
This old man was tall and pencil thin, but he stood firm in the powerful wind and bowed with his white gloved hands clasped behind his back.
“The enemy craft – the Sylphide prototype – has disappeared to the east-northeast.”
“My failure to destroy it shows just how much room for improvement I have.” He loosened the scarf holding his collar shut. “But this must have been an unpleasant surprise for the military. This ship was only dragged out here to act as a target for the V-0 ramming weapon, yet it was forced to join the hunt. I know the Sylphide evolves through combat, but why do this?”
“Yes, I have to question the military leadership’s decision to order it destroyed. If we had not been onboard, this ship would have been sunk.”
“Indeed. Not only did it slip past the cannon fire, but the Nein Ton rounds specifically developed for use against the Sylphide failed to work for some reason. …Not to mention that our higher ups in the Geheimnis Agency ordered us to capture the Sylphide, not destroy it.” Schweitzer lightly tapped his prosthetic right arm with his left hand. “We got by thanks to my Eingeweide arm Der Held, but we must immediately determine why the Nein Ton rounds failed to work. Also, has HQ still not tracked down the Messiah, Bermark? Our orders were not to mess with the Sylphide; they were to secure the Messiah so we might fulfill the prophecy before the Greater Germanic Reich declaration next April.”
Bermark bowed in response.
“It is true this encounter with the Sylphide was not part of our initial objective. As for the Messiah…the girl’s whereabouts are still unknown. We have narrowed down which doctors were involved, but that is all.”
“I see.” Schweitzer nodded and looked up at the clouds that looked close enough to reach out and touch. “An unbreakable aerial ship which can live above the clouds despite the moonlight that sends spirit stones berserk, can control inertia and gravity to fly, and can heal itself and evolve using its alchemy and repair emblems, is that it?”
“The military says they have begun development of a more powerful detection system to deal with this.”
“It won’t work. Every encounter only lasts an instant and then it flies far above the clouds where no detection system can reach it. Sylphide is honestly a good name for it.”
Schweitzer lowered his gaze from the sky to find Bermark looking straight at him.
The old soldier paused for a moment before asking his next question.
“Did you check inside the Sylphide’s cockpit?”
“It was empty…but I guarantee you Marsch is with that craft. Along with a certain promise.”
He turned toward the blowing wind – toward the direction the aerial ship was flying.
That meant east-northeast, but there was no sign of the blue craft any longer.
His gaze instead fell on the horizon where the dark sky above and the pitch black ground below met.
Specks of light from a distant city shined in that gap.
He suddenly pulled a scrap of paper from his pocket.
It was a piece torn from a photograph. The right half was missing, but it depicted him standing at an airport with a civilian airplane behind him. He was smiling and he had a right arm.
Suddenly, Bermark began reciting a Text behind him.
The one-armed youth holds the Messiah
The moonlit pair returns to the earth
The dragons gather and dance tonight
Every last thing returns home
“Yes, that would be the prophecy every single member of the Geheimnis Agency received three months ago. The one taken from the Unreif Germane’s 9th Section of the Ruling King. From what I heard, if we can secure the Messiah in accordance with the prophecy…”
“Then the Messiah will lead us in our time of need and save Germany, right?”
“I really wish I could meet with the prophet girl and his Excellency who run the Gehemnis Agency to ask for further details. I want to know if the Messiah we seek really can fulfill the prophecy and become our savior.”
He returned the partial photo to his pocket and once more faced the city lights in the far distance. He spoke the name of that city.
Chapter 1: The Wind Hesitates
Those who let them get away and those who chase after them are the same.
Why is it
Only those who run away are seen as different?
A large city in northern Germany. Cold and cloudy weather continues year-round, but it has a stable climate thanks to the ocean currents.
It was established in the 12th century, but it did not develop into a major city until the 17th century.
In 1871, Germany was unified under Bismarck’s Prussia and Berlin was made Germany’s capital, but since it had little history of forging and no distinctive traits, Bismarck crowned Wilhelm I in 1871, declared Germany to be the Second Reich (with the First Reich being from the time of Charlemagne), and planned to modernize the city of Berlin.
But before that transformation could be completed, German suffered defeat in World War One which was fought concurrently with England’s God-Demon War. Wilhelm II was subsequently forced into exile by a revolution.
And a portion of the World War One reparations determined by the Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to demilitarize, so Berlin lost its way.
Berlin’s mornings were chilly.
A German cathedral at the center of the city rang its bell to indicate 9 o’clock, but the sun was still low in the sky and fog still hung over much of the city.
Kantstrasse got a fair amount of sun as it cut through the center of the city from east to west, but it was still plenty cold. A fire truck’s siren sounded somewhere in the distance and the few people walking along the street had their collars pulled tight and held their shoulders to stay warm. The lights were on in the shops lining the street, but none of them kept their door open.
However, there was one unusual place.
An old two-story building stood on a corner lot that might as well have been the very end of the road and the diagonally hanging sign out front read “Used Books”. A motorcycle was parked out front and someone sat on the stone steps up to the frosted glass door.
The young man was dressed all in black. His large coat and even his hair were black.
The only other colors were the white of his skin, the blue of his eyes past his sunglasses, the red of the woman’s pendant hanging at his chest, and the white of the breaths leaving his mouth as he spoke.
“I can’t believe I lost my key. Did I drop it in the Grösse Panzer I abandoned on the way here?”
He sounded less troubled than you might expect. If anything, he sounded relaxed.
“And the landlord never gets up until past noon. I swear I’m the second most unlucky person in the world.”
Another siren began to sound in the distance.
He looked around curiously, clearly wondering what had happened.
His unspoken question did earn him response, though.
It just came in the form of a cat’s meow.
The sweet voice’s owner walked over from his right along the used bookstore’s outer wall.
It was a kitten with yellowish fur.
It walked across the withered grass below the eaves, hopped up the stone steps one at a time, and came to a stop next to him.
The cat sat down and raised its head to look up at the silent young man who carried such a dark atmosphere with him.
When his eyes met those of the cat’s, he noticed its right eye was brown and feline, but its left eye was blue and had a round pupil.
“Heterochromia? Do you come with pedigree document?”
The cat responded by yawning, stretching, and shutting its eyes. It lay down and lazily curled up in a relieved sort of way. It must have been happy to find a spot in the sun.
The man sighed at this unexpected visitor.
“I don’t have any food for you. But if you want to make yourself useful, you could open this front door for me.”
Just as he made that ridiculous request, he heard the quiet screech of brakes in front of the used bookstore.
A black post office bicycle had stopped on the wide sidewalk. After a pause, he heard some footsteps and a young postal worker in ordinary clothes and a postal hat arrived in front of him.
He bowed and then pulled two envelopes from his bag.
“Um, are you Dog Berger? I, um, have two deliveries for you.”
“You sound awfully hesitant to tell me this. Which can only mean trouble in my experience.”
His comment was accompanied by a bitter smile and the postal worker smiled a little in response.
“One of the two is two months late due to a delivery error. The thing is, Mr. Berger, it is addressed to this building but not to you.”
“I’m the only one who lives here, though. But whatever. Just let me see it.”
“I do apologize for the delay. But even that’s better than a Verlsten Brief from the Central Post Office’s archive, right?”
“Yeah, it definitely beats one of those unopened letters from a thousand years ago.”
The young man in black, Dog Berger, accepted the proffered letters without getting up.
When he flipped the envelopes over to check the senders, his eyes narrowed. After a pause, he nodded.
“This is for some friends of mine. I’ll make sure they get it.”
The postal worker sighed with visible relief, said goodbye, and started to turn around, but…
“Why are you sitting there?”
“It’s the latest health fad. You see, I want to be the second healthiest person in the world.”
“Not the actual healthiest?”
“Me? The best in something? I don’t have that kind of confidence in myself.”
“I see. Well, take care.”
The postal worker looked puzzled, but he got back on his bicycle and rode off.
After confirming the sidewalk up ahead was deserted once more, Berger looked down at the two envelopes in his hands. He frowned in a displeased way as he opened one of them.
“My old upperclassman, huh?”
He smiled bitterly before holding the letter overhead and quietly reading it aloud.
“ ‘Hazel Mirildorf, age 15, female, broken out of Berlin’s general hospital, transport her to the Swiss border via Singen at 12/25 04:30. M. Schrier.’ …Hm, sounds easy enough.”
Then he opened the letter that had its delivery delayed.
“Dammit, Marsch. Her and the director’s house is gone, you know? …But this is from two months ago, huh?”
His movements stopped along with the crinkling of the unfolding paper.
With that sound gone, he was met with almost complete silence.
Only the distant sirens ruled this place as the air seemed to rapidly freeze.
The cat curled up on the step looked up at him.
At the same time, he held up the letter to the sunlight.
The one-armed youth holds the Messiah
The moonlit pair returns to the earth
The dragons gather and dance tonight
Every last thing returns home
After reading those words, he smiled a little.
“The 9th Section of the Ruling King from the Unreif Germane, huh? The Heidengeist Messiah, the dragon she commands, and someone with a divine name descend to the earth together. What in the world are you thinking, Marsch?”
He soon heard a new sound.
It was a vehicle, and a large one at that. It shook loudly from all the weight loaded onboard and its brakes sounded for an awfully long time before it came to a stop.
He looked up to see 6 men in green military uniforms leave the back of the military truck parked on the road. He blatantly frowned at this.
“Hey, hey, hey, hey. What’s the meaning of this, huh?”
They surrounded him while he protested.
The six soldiers were middle-aged and muscular and the man in the center spoke with a deep voice.
“We are from the army’s immigration department. You are Dog Berger, correct?”
“Sorry, but you’ve got the wrong guy. I’m just your standard mystery Asian from the far-off land of Japan, so-”
“You are under arrest as a possessor of inferior Tons – in other words, for being a nonhuman Heidengeist.”
“Hey, don’t just ignore my masterful bullshitting!”
“Silence. Again, you are under arrest.”
“Do I really have to say it? Okay, fine. Do you honestly think you can do that? What proof do you have I’m a Heidengeist, anyway?”
Despite the tense situation, Berger’s tone was extremely calm and he remained seated on the steps.
The soldiers suddenly crouched down in preparation to fight.
The surrounding air grew even tenser and the man in the center continued.
“You failed to participate in the Berlin-wide blood test performed this April, but this October in Munich-”
“Yeah, I had to get some blood drawn at the hospital. It’s a long story.”
“You tested positive as a Heidengeist and any Heidengeist in the country is our business.”
“So you’re gonna throw me in one of those Heidenheim concentration camps, brand me with a number, and place a seal on me, right? Then I would be made into a Phlogiston Platte since those are more efficient than direct Phlogiston, of course. And all to build up the foundation of your holy German Reich.” He laughed bitterly. “German land used to be surrounded by the Black Forest and protected by gods and Heidengeist, but ever since Bismarck established the Second Reich, it’s been nothing but human supremacy.”
“Silence. Do not speak ill of our nation, ‘Wild Hund’ Dog Berger.”
Berger whistled at the mention of his Urban Name – or Titel as they were known in Germany.
“Your reactions here had me suspicious, but that Titel clinches it. You know more about me than you’re letting on.”
“You have made yourself something of an infamous figure. The plan was to arrest you under the peace preservation laws to be established when the Greater Germanic Reich is declared next April, but it seems the law has caught up to you today instead.”
“Hey, hey, hey. Let’s not count our chickens before they hatch on the whole ‘me being arrested today’ thing.”
With that, Berger stood up. It was a slow movement, but no one could stop him. He simply stood up and took a step forward.
He looked the soldier in the eye and lightly poked at his chest.
“Y’know, if my finger was a knife, you’d be dead right now. Dead and gone. Are you sure you’re serious about arresting me? And are you sure the methods that worked on other Heidengeists will work on me?”
All of a sudden, a giant form appeared from behind the used bookstore as if it had simply grown up from the ground on the right.
Everyone turned that way.
A giant man in a black combat coat stood more than 7 feet tall and was equipped with an enormous prosthetic right arm.
Below his short-cropped blond hair, his lips were clamped shut in a horizontal line until they moved to speak in a deep voice.
“I apologize, but can this arrest wait? I must speak with this man. Immediately.”
The six soldiers took a step back, overwhelmed either by his voice or his imposing height. The man in the center shrank down considerably as he asked a question.
“Who are- wait, that uniform. It can’t be.”
Berger provided the answer.
“ ‘Schallmauer Zerstörer’ Hellard Schweitzer of the Geheimnis Luftwaffe? It’s been two years since I last saw you. You worked your way up to Second Lieutenant yet?”
The response to that contained a hint of pride.
“I am a First Lieutenant.”
“Well, I can see why they say you’ll be one of the next members of the Five Great Peaks or Fünf Leithammel or whatever they’re calling it. But anyway…”
Berger pressed his back against the glass and slowly sat down.
“Can you open this door for me?”
The used bookstore’s second floor acted as a cramped living room and a bedroom
Two men sat in that room with stacks of books everywhere.
Berger kept the cat on his lap as he sat by the window on a long sofa with bedding lazily draped over it.
Schweitzer sat on a different sofa across a small table and with his back to the door.
The only sound was the faint footsteps of the MPs in the hallway past that flimsy door.
Berger shrugged and spoke up as if to drown out that noise.
“Why the sudden visit, Schweitzer? If it’s about Eryngium, I’ll remind you we agreed to never speak of that again. None of us have gone anywhere near the hidden Borderson village up north. Not me, not you, not Alfred, and not Marsch. Or am I wrong?”
“This is not about that.” Schweitzer, the man from the Geheimnis Agency, shook his head and looked straight at the young man in black. “She is our shared secret…and I assume you know my situation as well as I know yours, Berger. We continue to work toward the protection of Germany, just as you continue to work toward undermining Germany.”
“The Geheimnis Agency is well aware you used a Grösse Panzer to destroy a dam in Denmark the week before last in order to escape capture.”
“I didn’t destroy it. It just happened to break in close proximity to me. Besides, I sent a written apology. I swear I did.”
“Unfortunately for you, that apology is precisely what led the Danish police to place you at the top of their wanted list. You really don’t change, do you?”
Schweitzer sighed and Berger sighed as well.
“So what are you saying? That you’ll stop doing what you’re doing if I let myself be arrested?”
“I cannot do that. Because of our promise.”
Schweitzer reached his left hand to his left ear and touched the earring set with a red jewel.
He watched as Berger similarly toyed with the pendant hanging at his chest.
“Yeah, I guess there’s no talking you out of it. …So. What question do you have for me?”
“You should have received a certain job from ‘Verräter’ M. Schrier. One of your primary jobs.”
“And if I say I received no such thing?”
Berger gave him a curious look, but Schweitzer was having none of it.
“I do not have time for your nonsense, Dog Berger. The AIF led by M. Schrier helped a girl escape Berlin’s general hospital last night.”
“Is that what all those sirens are about? So does this mean you’re after Hazel Mirildorf?”
“Has she still not arrived?”
“To be honest, I wasn’t told what she looks like, so I wouldn’t know even if she had. If she’s a square-faced blonde with a prosthetic arm, then she’s right here talking to me.”
Schweitzer realized Berger was looking at his prosthetic arm.
Berger resumed speaking with a scornful smile on his lips.
“You’ve tried to make it look normal enough, but that thing’s an Eingeweide, isn’t it? Did Marsch make it?”
“His ability has brought German technology 20 years ahead of the rest of the world.”
“It takes a special kind of person to go along with that. I mean, an Eingeweide’s Erklärung power is cool and all, but the part about being made from one of the user’s body parts is gonna turn a lot of people off. …You shoved your right arm into the reactor for yours, right? What’s it called?”
“Yeah, that’s a Marsch name all right. So did he really name them all after Eryngium’s records? If so, there must be 11 in all between the ones I’ve heard rumor of and my own.”
“Stop making assumptions. …And stop changing the subject from that girl.” Schweitzer frowned because this young man had always been good at avoiding topics of conversation he did not like. “Our information is far from perfect since this happened so suddenly. Not to mention there was a fire at the hospital and all the records there were destroyed. What information we have was gotten by questioning an AIF member we managed to capture in a hurry. …Hm?”
He noticed something odd in Berger’s lap.
The kitten with the pretty fur got up and yawned. It hopped down from his lap and glanced over at the window behind him. It viewed the blue sky visible through there.
It walked over to the window, treading on the books stacked up on the floor.
“Looks like she wants out. Mind if I open the window?”
“Don’t you move, Berger. You pride yourself in being the second fastest person in the world, so I am not giving you any chance to escape.”
Schweitzer lifted his prosthetic arm and stood up. Looking irritated, he walked past Berger to approach the window.
“Have you heard anything from Marsch?” asked Berger from behind him. “He stopped contacting me two months ago for whatever reason.”
The kitten sat on the books stacked in front of the window, turned its back on the two men, and scratched at the glass.
It looked up at Schweitzer’s left hand when he touched the window and meowed in a hopeful way.
But he stopped moving and responded to Berger’s question.
“You really haven’t heard anything, have you?”
“From that, I take it you have heard something.”
Berger let out a bitter laugh, but Schweitzer silently worked at opening the window.
But Berger said more, as if to stop him again.
“Marsch entered the Geheimnis Agency straight out of university, but instead of telling me all about his research into Ober Geheimnis, Schreiben systems, and engines, he sends this horribly confused piece of text. And instead of addressing it to me, it’s addressed to her and to the director.”
“He always did like his old folklore. He especially loved talking about it while Eryngium Ilfheim and Joseph Ilfheim were with you.”
“The house we used to live in is gone now. Thanks to you and Alfred.”
Schweitzer once more stopped after touching the window’s latch.
The cat meowed when he lifted his hand away, but he ignored it.
“What did Marsch say?”
“He sent me part of the Unreif Germane’s 9th Section of the Ruling King. Y’know, the one that starts with ‘the one-armed youth’.”
“He sent you that?”
Schweitzer heard Berger stand up behind him.
He turned around, but Berger was already on his feet.
“What’s happened to Marsch, Schweitzer? He joined the Geheimnis Agency with you and started developing weapons, right? So why would he send a letter to the director and to her when they’re both gone?”
“I heard from my old upperclassman that the top level of the Geheimnis Agency has been forcefully promoting something called the Panzerpolis Project of late, pushing aside all other civil and military policy. I also hear you’re declaring a Greater Germanic Reich next April, so what is all this about?”
“I am under no obligation to answer that.”
“Even if Marsch is involved in it? I don’t know if it has anything to do with your Geheimnis Agency’s actions, but the military has been rushing things lately. They attacked Spain and a week ago they built this autopiloted ramming ship – a self-destruct weapon basically – called the V-0 that I hear reduced the target ship and everything within a 5-mile radius to ashes.”
“The newspapers are exaggerating things. It is nothing more than a cruiser-style ramming ship that is loaded with divine spell bombs and rams an aerial object on autopilot. And the radius of destruction was less than a full mile.”
“Be that as it may, what is this Panzerpolis Project that has the military freaking out so much? And why did an inventor who is surely a part of it send such a weird letter to her and to the director!?”
“I am under no obligation to answer that.”
The instant, Schweitzer stuck his hand in his pocket, Berger shoved the books off the table behind him and grabbed a metal box small enough to fit in the palm of his hand. He immediately pushed the red button on its surface.
A moment later, the used bookstore exploded.
“Why is he like this!?”
Schweitzer blew away the rubble of the used bookstore with his prosthetic arm, stood up, and ran out to the road. Berger was nowhere to be seen and his motorcycle was no longer parked on the curb.
He had gotten away.
Ignoring the sounds of the MPs crawling out of the rubble behind him and the curious eyes of the passersby, Schweitzer calmly brushed the dust off of his prosthetic arm and raised his left hand.
Less than the span of a breath later, a black military personnel transport vehicle drove up and began to stop in front of him.
Before its brakes could finish squealing, he opened the door and climbed in.
The passenger seat was positioned low and given a lot of extra space, but it was still cramped for such a large man with such a large prosthetic arm.
The vehicle immediately drove off, so it was already in second gear by the time he got the door shut.
He adjusted his position as if holding his prosthetic arm close.
“Why is this seat always so hard?”
“You complained that it had too much cushioning last time.”
He was answered by Bermark, the old soldier in the driver’s seat whose white gloved hands seemed oddly conspicuous.
“That is my personal problem, so do not let it bother you.” Schweitzer remained expressionless. “Where is Berger headed?”
“I arranged a network of hidden observers rather than directly pursue him. Convincing the Abwehr to act was not easy, though. He is currently travelling west along Kantstrasse with a cat on his shoulder.”
The questioner and answerer kept their eyes on the road ahead instead of looking to each other.
A city of stone and metal flowed past them as they drove.
Eventually, Schweitzer sank deeper down into his seat.
“Very well. Berger can wait. …For now, head to the general hospital.”
“We are already on our way. I had a feeling you would ask for it.”
“Then take a right at the next intersection for a shortcut, Bermark. Never mind. We just passed it.”
“That is a one-way road. Aren’t the Fräulein and his Excellency always insisting that we do not trouble the citizenry even in an emergency?”
“Fair enough. I am not one to argue with the leaders of our Geheimnis Agency.” Schweitzer looked up in defeat and let out a weary sigh. “Last night, I was certain we had finally tracked down the Messiah implant that Marsch made, but one day later and it’s escaped. The Panzerpolis Project certainly is off to a rocky start.”
“And the foreign rats have already learned the name of the project.”
“It won’t help them. Even we have only been told the name and…what will happen. But I do know one thing more: the Panzerpolis Project is guaranteed to rescue Germany from a future crisis.”
“Although we need the Messiah to pull that off. It was two weeks ago that Hazel Mirildorf was taken from that Heidenheim, transported to the general hospital, and implanted with the Messiah. And the doctors had hidden the Messiah implant for two months prior to that. We were fortunate to catch wind of this at all.”
“Well, let’s hope that fortune lasts. But do you think this will really lead to the birth of the true Messiah?”
“According to the Fräulein, if the prophecy is fulfilled, then the Messiah will come to lead us and ultimately save Germany. So I am sure the Messiah implant created by Sir Marsch will live up to its name.”
“And what if it doesn’t? If we fail to secure her in accordance with the prophecy, Marsch’s Messiah implant will be nothing but a name and we will once more be forced to continue to search out the true Messiah. We will remain a masterless order of knights.”
“If that happens, then that is what destiny has ordained. Also…Sir Marsch’s Messiah implant is important to us for a different reason. We must acquire it.”
Bermark turned to the right at an intersection without slowing.
“Let’s change the subject.”
The view outside the glass rotated and then they could see out ahead once more.
Bermark returned the steering wheel to its neutral position, shifted up a gear, and accelerated while asking a question.
“Who exactly is Berger…or should I call him Sir Berger?”
“He deserves no honorific. As I am sure you can imagine, he is an enemy.”
“Then who is he?”
“An immigrant. His full name is Dog Berger. He was born in Aerial City – London, his mother was a human prostitute, and his father is unknown. He told me he arrived in Berlin around the end of the great war along with the various enemy forces.”
“What is his connection to you, Sir Marsch, and Sir Alfred?”
“We all went to high school together. He even went to university with Marsch, but he dropped out after three years. That was two years ago.”
“Why did he drop out?”
Schweitzer did not answer that question.
Silence fell over the vehicle as Bermark stepped on the gas even more to travel north over the bridge crossing the Spree River that split the city in two. Once on the other side, he entered the passing lane and asked a further question.
“Then has this Berger made contact with Hazel Mirildorf yet?”
“It didn’t seem like it. She is the daughter of former Major General Oscar, head of the Eisen Vogel, isn’t she?”
“Yes, the Eisen Vogel was meant to be the foundation of the 1st Aerial Fleet led by Lieutenant General Heiliger, but then Oscar Mirildorf suddenly retired last year.”
“Provide me with more details on the girl when you have some time. It is hard to keep track of my own memories and all the information I have learned in such a short time. I honestly feel like I am overlooking something.”
“For one, the girl was taken to the hospital from a Heidenheim. Only those with Heidengeist blood are sent there. …Now, former Major General Oscar was human, but what kind of blood did the girl receive from her mother?” Schweitzer took a breath. “We have been so busy pursuing the Messiah implant that we have failed to consider the person who carries it. We know the AIF helped her escape last night, but could her power as a Heidengeist have also played a role?”
“Let us pray she cannot turn invisible. I will gather further information ASAP. …Oh.”
They approached a three-road junction and turned right, to the east.
The dark cedar woods to their left were part of the Tiergarten park.
Beyond those woods was the white general hospital.
A few trails of white smoke rose above the canopy formed by the trees.
Bermark kept his eyes on the road as he said one last thing.
“How ironic that the appearance of the Messiah meant to save Germany would bring such disaster upon us.”
Chapter 2: The Wind Activates
I apparently need to escape
I want to know why
But no one will give me an answer
I don’t like that one bit
Ether and Lives
The elemental theory proposed by the ancient scientist Thales created many misunderstandings in later years and it was believed until the Middle Ages that all things were formed from the four elements.
But in the 12th century, the elemental breakdown discovered through alchemy suggested the Mono-Elemental Theory that said all things were created by a single variable element. A race to discover that single element began and, based on a 15th century phlogiston experiment gone wrong, it was theorized that an element existed that allowed space to transform in response to a set musical rhythm.
The form that an area of space took was determined by a double helix array that could take hundreds of billions of forms and changing the array would change that space to something else. This could be used to create light, darkness, fire, water, and even gravity.
Since this was discovered through the changes produced by sound and thus you were “telling” the space what to be, the singular element became known as “A Tell”. The pronunciation shifted over time and it is now spelled “ether”.
Ether is the element that undergoes the change and Lives (or Tons in German) are the double helix array that determines what form it takes.
In a small, dimly-lit room, the divine spell glow panel attached to the concrete wall provided a faint bluish-white light reminiscent of fireflies. That light revealed everything in the room as shadows.
It had walls, a door, a bed, a bookcase, some luggage, and many wooden boxes scattered across the floor.
A single person sat on the bed.
The black-haired young man in a black shirt and pants was Berger.
He still looked sleepy as he reached for the alarm clock sitting on the bed. He turned its display toward the wall’s glow panel to see where the hour and minute hands were.
“11:22. I guess I really do have to head back out into the Berlin night to find Hazel Mirildorf, huh?”
He yawned and worked his neck until it popped. He then nodded and stood up while scratching his head. He opened a largish wooden box on the floor nearby to reveal multiple changes of clothes contained inside. They included cold weather and mountain climbing gear, so they were not exactly everyday items.
He easily pulled out what he wanted in the dark and then changed.
First, he put on a kind of bulletproof armor called ASRA (Anti-Shock Reactive Armor). Over that, he wore a thick black shirt with latches on the shoulders and elsewhere. For pants, he wore mountain climbing ones with deep pockets.
For a coat, he pulled out a researcher’s lab coat.
Except that lab coat had a unique trait: it was black.
The collar’s insignia of the Berlin university’s department for emblem research, the basic structure, the heat-resistance, and everything else were the same as a lab coat, so the color alone was different. Its dyed color was even darker than the shadows formed by the glow panel.
“I guess this will be the last time I use this underground room. They’ll probably sniff it out,” he muttered while shutting the box.
He took a breath and reached for an oblong wooden box next to the bed…but changed his mind.
He sat back on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. The ceiling was a plain concrete square with a single bare lightbulb installed.
He suddenly looked behind him.
There was a lump in the bed’s blanket because there was still something below it.
“I guess I should feed that cat. I was the one that brought it with me, after all.”
He pulled back the blanket, expecting to find the cat curled up there.
But for some reason, he instead found a naked girl sleeping there.
Berger stared at the girl’s face.
She had long, soft-looking blonde hair, her eyes were closed, and her face was fully relaxed.
She was asleep.
He had pulled the blanket down far enough to see her white-skinned shoulders which shined bright in the bluish-white light.
He frowned, sighed, and casually placed the blanket over her again.
“I must be hallucinating. When I pull this blanket up again, it’ll just be that cat.”
He counted aloud to three and pulled back the blanket, but he still saw that girl who had rolled over in her sleep to turn her back toward him.
He could see her face in profile, her plentiful hair, and her entirely bare back.
Even the glow panel must have been too bright for her because she held a hand over her forehead as she rolled over, causing her body to emerge from the blanket, revealing more of her bare skin.
He stared at her in the faint light for a bit, but finally breathed a sigh of relief.
“Oh, with a chest like that, she’s clearly still just a kid. There goes any temptation toward wrongdoing, I guess.”
He quipped to himself and started to place the blanket over her again, but she grabbed his hand.
The relief on his face quickly turned to tension.
But her eyes were still closed and she was still asleep. Her grip was weak as well.
His eyes turned toward her sleeping face where he saw something different from before. There was tension in her brow and her lips moved weakly in order to say something.
He lowered his head to read her lips.
He sighed and, a few seconds later, smiled.
He removed her hand from his but then squeezed her hand back.
Her expression softened and she turned her face away from the glow panel.
He used his other hand to pull the blanket back up to her neck, but as he did, he noticed a series of black letters and numbers written on her right shoulder.
“A brand? HGB-000402.”
That was one of the indelible management numbers people were given in a concentration camp for Heidengeists.
He clicked his tongue once and said nothing more. It took a few seconds for her breathing to calm. He slowly brought her hand below the blanket and let go. Then he silently stood from the bed.
He tiptoed through the darkness to reach the bookcase by the wall.
The book he pulled out was titled ’36 Southern Berlin Citizenship Records.
“Oscar Mirildorf. My old upperclassman’s superior officer who retired after the ’35 Armored Hammer of God Incident in Berlin. This says he ran a private school out of his home on the city outskirts afterwards.”
He flipped through the pages.
He flipped through a lot of them and then flipped back. The hard paper made intermittent flipping sounds as he did so.
After a while, he stopped.
“The Mirildorf family. The wife’s name is Diana Mirildorf, a Werecat from London, city of monsters and gods. I guess that means it’s pronounced Dye-ana and not Dee-ana.”
He returned the book to the shelf and smiled bitterly. Then he pulled another book from the shelf.
This one was the Unreif Germane.
“Where’s the passage Marsch quoted?”
He recited it to himself as he flipped through the pages and then stopped.
The top of the page contained an illustration of a woman leading a dragon and a one-armed man with a sword walking through the Black Forest. The bottom of the page was titled 9th Section of the Ruling King.
“This is the section about the Heidengeist Messiah and the youth with a divine name descending to this land when it was still nameless and only included the Black Forest. The Messiah was unsure if she should use her power to save this land, but he convinced her to descend to the earth with him.”
He shut the book and returned it to the shelf. He walked over and sat back down on the bed.
Just once, he glanced at the girl sleeping below the blanket behind him, but he faced forward again, crossed his arms, shut his eyes, and sighed.
“Let’ see,” he said. “There’s so much to think about, but the most pressing problem is her. …Seems safe to assume that girl is Hazel Mirildorf. She escaped as a cat, but once I brought her here and she fell asleep, her tension faded and she came out of her Flektieren transformation.”
He heard the blanket rustling behind him.
He turned silently around to see her sitting up.
Her long and plentiful blonde hair fell across her body as she sat sleepily in the bed. The bed creaked beneath her and the blanket fell from her shoulders to gather around her hips, but she did not seem to notice any of it. She only stared blankly at her surroundings.
Her left eye was a brown feline one and her right one was a blue human one.
She must have injured the one eye because it was a prosthetic.
She let out a faint sigh as wakefulness slowly gathered on her face.
She turned her head to view Berger with her differently-colored eyes drooping sleepily.
Their eyes met and he spoke with a sincere smile.
“Don’t worry. I’m not interested in kids.”
That inspired her to looked down at herself.
She was naked.
She immediately threw a slap his way.
The moonlit streets of Berlin were horribly chilly because the city was mostly made of stone and metal.
That solid city could not soften the winter wind’s blast. If anything, it chilled it further.
The moon hung in the cloudless sky which kept heat from gathering.
The wind blew across every last part of the city, transforming the streets into icy currents much like a midwinter river.
The people avoided the cold by staying indoors and never heading out, so light shined from the homes along the major roads. Most of it was the thin beams of light escaping through gaps in the shutters.
A mottled pattern of artificial light shined on one dark street.
A vehicle drove along the road as if to plow through that light.
It was a black military vehicle. Its lights were off and it was driving a bit above the speed limit. That speed left its plastic tires barely able to dig into the stone-paved road.
It was fast.
It had reinforcement panels installed in places and they audibly sliced through the wind.
Even the roar of the engine was left behind by its speed and the passenger-side window on the right was open.
A black uniformed left arm and a head stuck out from that window. They belonged to Schweitzer.
He had twisted his body around to stick out his hand and grab and extend the communication antenna on the side of the vehicle’s pillar. Then he rolled up the window.
The cold wind was blowing mercilessly inside the vehicle.
He and Bermark in the driver’s seat were the only ones inside.
But neither of them batted an eye at the icy wind. Schweitzer simply used a hand to fix the scarf that identified him as a member of the Geheimnis Luftwaffe.
Once the window was fully shut, Bermark spoke with an expressionless face.
“The guard we sent to keep an eye on him reported some noise and a shout from within the underground room.”
“A shout? From Berger? That man does do the weirdest things.”
“No, it was a girl. And more of a scream than a shout.”
Schweitzer said nothing, but after a pause, Bermark made a powerful brushing motion with his gloved right hand.
“If he has harmed the poor girl in any way, he is even more despicable than I had thought. …From what I heard, Hazel Mirildorf would have made an excellent Neue Kavalier were she not a Heidengeist. When the inspection team performed the surprise Heidengeist test at her school, she stood up to an MP who attempted to get violent with a friend of hers, if you recall.”
“Yes, she stood up for her friend and took a rifle stock to the face, blinding her in the right eye. That very injury is what gave her a fever in the Heidenheim, leading her to be implanted with the prosthetic eye at the general hospital. …This may have been a lot easier on her if none of that had happened.”
“Indeed. But it does show she has the personality to be the Messiah.”
“The question is whether or not we can secure her and fulfill the prophecy. Her personality is irrelevant.”
“But…” Bermark let out a deep groan and then sighed. “I apologize. A man of my age should have better control of his emotions.”
“No worries. It was exhilarating.”
Schweitzer remained expressionless as he grabbed the communicator mic attached to the front of the seat. He set the frequency and spoke a few words to confirm his subordinates were on their way to the rendezvous point.
Once done, he set down the mic and rubbed his chin with his biological left hand.
“But…it seems running away runs in the Mirildorf family.”
“Are you referring to the Armored Hammer of God Incident from two years ago?”
“Yes, the failed struggle to catch the Kaizerburg, which led to the Sylphide’s development. Oscar Mirildorf commanded a full division of the air force he was given by Lieutenant General Heiliger, yet he ultimately cleared the way for the enemy to escape.”
“Many people have criticized that hesitation as unthinkable for a soldier.”
“The daughter of the soldier who fled from the enemy is now attempting to escape from the country. Do you know how that must have felt for the daughter? Flight, death, and loss always weigh heavier on those left behind than on the person themselves.” Tension gathered in Schweitzer’s brow. “Due to an error in the previous war, the Geheimnis Agency was forced to let our emperor flee the country. You have not forgotten that sense of defeat and the disgrace of losing our master, have you?”
“No. And I understand why His Excellency said Germany is now a country ruled by the people rather than an emperor.”
“That girl is in the same position as us, so how does she feel?”
“Ironic that she would be the one perhaps destined to be the Messiah.”
That comment further hardened Schweitzer’s expression.
“Is she, though? The power of the Messiah implant she was given is fascinating, but do you really think the prophecy will play out once we secure her? Will dragons gather and will everything return home? If she does not carry that destiny with her, then she cannot become the true Messiah who will eventually save Germany.”
“All we can do is see it through to the end…until the prophecy has been fulfilled. If it turns out she cannot do so, then we must continue our search for one worthy of the title.”
“What was Marsch thinking when he named the implant that? He must have heard the prophecy three months ago…so what in the world was he thinking?”
Schweitzer honestly had no idea. They had held this discussion countless times already, so Bermark provided the correct answer as an aide.
“Let us stop focusing on the prophecy. All will become clear once we secure her and, as you said earlier, it is the Messiah implant that matters for the Geheimnis Agency.”
The conversation paused for a brief moment because they were both unsure what to say next.
As if to break that awkward silence, light shined in from behind the vehicle.
“There they are,” said Bermark with relief in his voice and Schweitzer looked out through the back window.
The light came from the headlights of multiple armored military vehicles.
“I told them not to use their lights in the city.”
“We have fewer than a dozen fellow Geheimnis Agency members with us, so the rest are rank and file soldiers with some brief night mission training. Do not expect too much from them.”
“Fair point.” Schweitzer reached for the doorknob. “You take 20 of them with you, Bermark. Pursue those two in order to secure the Messiah.”
“I am counting on you to cut off their escape.”
Before Bermark was even done speaking, Schweitzer had opened the door and jumped out.
That giant form in a black coat accelerated by kicking once off the stone pavement rushing by like a river. He built up speed to run alongside Bermark’s vehicle.
And he reached for the half-open door.
“We are counting on you to help fulfill the prophecy and protect this country.”
With those parting words, he shut the door.
The vehicle sped up and he could no longer keep up on foot.
He slowed his pace a bit and looked back at the approaching lights.
The subordinates he had called here were driving several black armored vehicles.
They covered both sides of the road and slowly approached while whipping up the wind.
He stopped his feet and jumped backwards.
He used his heavy prosthetic arm as a pivot point midleap to perform a nimble flip. The city spun around in his vision and the moon came into view.
He landed upright on the hood of one of the approaching armored vehicles. The weight of his large body and prosthetic arm caused the vehicle to sink down a bit with a metallic creaking.
He was facing forward, where the vehicle’s headlights were shining.
It continued to drive straight ahead, as if it knew exactly what he wanted it to do.
The wind grew stronger.
He fixed his black military coat’s collar and crossed his arms.
He looked up into the night sky to see the full moon directly overhead.
“A perfect night for a Heidengeist.”
He took a breath.
“And for the Sylphide as well.”
A light was on in Berger’s hideout.
A single candle stood atop a large wooden box in the center of the room.
Brot, sauerkraut, wursts, and other food were piled high on a few different plates around the candle. The steam rising from it all showed it had been cooked through.
Two figures sat at that makeshift table.
The unmoving shadow cast long on the wall was Berger’s.
The rapidly-moving shadow belonged to Hazel Mirildorf.
She was wearing a shirt and shorts borrowed from Berger, her long hair was tied back in a ponytail using a bandanna, and she was entirely focused on eating. Her differently-colored eyes moved rapidly between the different foods on the table and her hands soon followed, but the fork and spoon slicing through the steam did not clink against the plates. The food vanished into her mouth with only the bare minimum of noise.
Her gaze wandered hesitantly for a moment, and then…
“Could I have some water?”
Berger silently poured the pitcher’s water into a glass and handed her that, but she snatched the pitcher from his hand and drank down its contents.
She gulped it down silently, but it still vanished from the pitcher almost instantly.
She removed the pitcher from her mouth, wrapped her hands around it, and took a breath.
Then she faced forward.
The man in black was there sipping at the glass of water he was left with.
“So. You done eating yet?”
“I am. …Um, thank you for the food. I was really hungry and they haven’t been giving me anything with real flavor recently.”
The ponytail behind her head swayed as she spoke. It felt a little heavy to her, so she shook it a few more times and then retied the bandanna.
Berger said nothing at all as he stacked up the plates, picked them up, and chucked them back over his shoulder. They shattered on the wall and only the candle remained on the wooden box they were using as a table.
Hazel glanced behind him.
“Um, did you have to break those plates? That seems wasteful.”
“I’m abandoning this place tonight anyway.”
“I see,” she said while looking around again. It was a cold and dreary space with only a bed, a bookcase, and a disorderly collection of wooden boxes. It felt cluttered to her.
…I really want to tidy things up in here.
She left that part unsaid as she spoke to him.
“You are ‘Wild Hund’ Dog Berger, right? My teacher told me you do intelligence work and help people escape the country despite being a Panzer Kavalier. He also said you’re the best in the world.”
“M. Schrier. He says he was your upperclassman in university and he served under my dad in the military, but he quit along with my dad and now he tutors me. And then…and then there was a gunfight at the hospital early this morning and some of his people told me to go to you. And then…and then…”
“You Flektierened on the way but nevertheless managed to reach my used bookstore?”
She nodded, recomposed her expression, and looked straight at the man.
“Do you work as my teacher’s assistant?”
“I guess you could say that. While he causes trouble outside Germany, I deal with the problems inside the country. We’ve been doing that for more than 2 years now.”
“And the MPs still haven’t caught you? You really are the best in the world.”
“I was nearly caught today, so think again. I’m only the second best in the world.”
Hazel saw some strength vanish from the blue eyes behind his sunglasses.
She wondered why, but the change vanished as quickly as it had appeared. Strength returned to his gaze as he looked back at her. He rested his elbow on the box to lean toward her.
“Anyway, I’d like to leave ASAP. The Geheimnis Agency is on the move and that’s never good news. They’re the ones trying to change Germany’s military might by bringing back and modifying Ober Geheimnis. If you don’t know, Ober Geheimnis is stuff inherited from the previous world that was ultimately erased from history due to the threat it posed. Anyway, that’s who’s after you.”
“The Geheimnis Agency?”
“There are two military forces in Germany: the ordinary one which includes the SS and the Geheimnis Agency.” Berger continued with a sigh. “They’re a highly classified organization made up of only a few hundred and they’re actually the descendants of a group of German dragon knights known as the Germania Dragoons. They have the authority to intervene in civil and military affairs, so they’re essentially Germany’s final army that acts as a hidden trump card.”
“Two years ago, your dad, Oscar Mirildorf, fought against a certain aerial warship above Berlin and ultimately lost, right? That warship was full of Ober Geheimnis, but the Geheimnis Agency now possesses even greater power. You saw that old guy in the black coat with the prosthetic arm, right?”
“Um…old? Aren’t you two the same age?”
“It’s all about appearances, so I can call him old if I want to.”
“You two were discussing a lot of stuff I didn’t understand, but what’s so special about that arm?”
“It’s a weapon created with Eingeweide Ausbildung. Basically, it converts your willpower into real power much like a Grösse Panzer.”
She was not sure what that meant, so she tilted her head and he smiled a little.
“With a Grösse Panzer, the Schreibener uses a device known as a Studio to break down their Tons and send them into the Grösse Panzer’s Ton conduits to move the mechanical body with their willpower. A person combines with the bipedal machine known as a Panzer and the strength of their willpower allows them to run, swing a sword, and activate the Ober Emblem. But what if the device that combines the person with the machine could be applied to a smaller weapon?”
He wrinkled his brow as he explained and he opened a wooden box next to him to pull out a coat. He stood up and took a step, which was enough to reach her side.
He held out the coat and she expressionlessly accepted it while still seated.
“Wear this,” he said from above. “We need to get going. You can wear those sandals over there.”
She was unsure what to do, but she finally looked up at him with the ends of her eyebrows lowered.
“Um…Dog? What would you do if I said I don’t want to leave Germany?”
“I would ask you why that is, Fräulein.”
He did not hesitate to answer and crouched down to put himself at her eye level.
“So why is that?” he asked.
“That’s what I want to know. Why? Why do I have to run away?”
“Because you will be killed if you remain in this country. No Heidengeist can survive here. You’ll be made into a Phlogiston Platte and used as fuel. Like it or not – and I imagine not – that’s the current national policy.”
Hearing that, she looked away from him and down at her bare feet.
She crossed her toes as she tried to find the words, and…
“When I was arrested at school, they apparently raided my home as well, but I heard my dad took my mom and fled.”
“That would mean you no longer have a home here in Germany.”
“B-but this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.” She raised her head to look him straight in the eye. “My friends, my school, the city, the seasons, and everything else are going to continue on like they always have, aren’t they? They’re just throwing me out. Only me.”
Berger’s expression went blank when she asked that.
He said nothing and she felt a hint of panic as she scratched at her hair and tried to choose her words.
“Something here isn’t right, but is there no way to fix it?”
“Then what do you want to do?”
Those words did not carry any irritation or anything like that.
His tone said he simply wanted to hear her answer.
She gave him a puzzled look and saw his blue eyes staring back at her from beyond his sunglasses with no smile or anger in them.
“Um,” she began hesitantly while seemingly speaking to those eyes. “I had a lot of time to think in the hospital bed.”
“And I don’t want to run away. That’s the one thing I never want to do.”
Sensing the powerful hope behind her quiet voice, Berger stood up, lowered his shoulders with a sigh, and turned away from her.
“Eryngium said the same thing.”
He did not answer her quiet question.
He turned around with his eyes cast downward, he took a single step, and he crouched down to pick up the sandals.
He walked back over to Hazel, sat down, took her feet in his hands, and put the sandals on her.
They were surrounded by silence, but he finally spoke to break that.
“No. No, Hazel. That is the one answer I refuse to accept.”
He stood up without looking at her and stared up at the ceiling.
“I will get you out of this country.”
“Why? Um, did I say something wrong?”
He suddenly spread out his right hand in response.
“You…” He grasped at the empty air. “You think the same way as someone who vanished from my life. That’s all the reason I need.”
Instead of answering, he sank down. The look visible on his face when his coat fluttered around was enough for Hazel to fall silent, sit straight in her chair, and place her hands on her lap.
He held out his left hand to tell her to stay put and then he grabbed an oblong box by the bed with his other hand.
It was about 3 inches tall and wide, but nearly a yard long.
He silently lifted it up and held it below his arm.
At the same time, a single solid sound like stone being struck came from the ceiling.
He smiled and nodded at the sound, stuck his right hand in his pocket, and pulled out a small device.
Hazel recognized it.
She barely had the word out before he pressed the red button on the device.
A moment later, his hideout exploded.
Berger tackled Hazel out of the way of an explosion that was really more just a shockwave and noise and she crashed into the wall next to the bed.
A portion of the wall opened like a narrow door to swallow her up just before the underground room truly exploded and collapsed. The noise seemed to push her on through the darkness and she reached out her hands in a panic. They found a cold mossy wall on either side of her.
Then she began running as if pushed on by the blast behind her.
An oddly warm wind caught up to her and she had trouble breathing from the dust and smoke.
She shut her eyes and kept running forward and up until she crashed into a solid board.
The impact made an impressive noise and she felt excruciating pain, but she also felt the wind and heard a powdery sound similar to crumbling stone.
She rubbed her aching forehead and opened her eyes to see light. The darkness ahead of her was cut away by an opening as wide as the passageway and nearly as tall as her. There was a slight space and then a wall beyond that.
This led outside.
She stepped out to find a small stream of water running along the wall at her feet.
“This leads into the side of a ditch. Watch out or you’ll hit your head.”
“A little late for that warning. And you should have told me in advance if there was a secret exit.”
She had her say when she heard Berger’s voice behind her, but she squared her shoulders and did not turn around to face him.
She stepped out into the ditch. It was also used as a waterway, so it was a yard across and about two yards tall. The water level was low, so it did not even make it up past the bottom of her sandals.
She looked up to see the night sky between the two sides of the ditch.
She sighed and looked back down.
…This has not been my day.
“He even saw me naked…”
“Hey, don’t just bring that up out of the blue. It’s not like being seen harmed you in any way, so don’t cry.”
“I-I’m not crying.”
“Good, good. If you can snap back at me, then you’re doing just fine. Now, take a closer look at the sky.”
Berger stepped out of the hole behind her and she looked up again.
She could see the narrow strip of the night sky restricted by the sides of the ditch.
When she did take a closer look, she noticed the sky was tinged faintly blue. The moon was out and it was nearly full.
She bristled when she realized that.
“The moonlight is said to be the source of a Heidengeist’s power. Gods and demons are equal in its shine.”
His voice rang horribly cold in the air and she reflexively felt a chill.
She held her shoulders and looked his way to see him standing in the moonlight with that long box under his arm. The moonlight cast some bluish shadows across his face, but there was nothing there to make her feel chilled.
…What a strange person.
He pointed up with a carefree expression that did not seem aware of her thoughts.
“This isn’t a great place for a chat, so let’s head out to the road. We have much to discuss, and…”
With the box under one arm, he placed the other hand on the road above and pulled himself up. Hazel was left speechless by the nimble action, but then she came back to her senses.
She rolled up her large wide sleeves and placed both hands on the unseen road above the side of the ditch.
“Um, you could lend me a hand, you know?”
She lifted herself up much like doing a pull-up and sat down on the ground.
The chilly winter wind could reach her now that she was in a wide open space. She recognized where she was. This was where Bergstrasse ran in front of a cemetery in southern Berlin. She could see fire and smoke beyond the row of homes here.
…Is that from the explosion?
Her thoughts were cut off by a deep voice she did not recognize.
“You seem to enjoy creating unnecessary excitement, Dog Berger.”
She looked up in honest surprise and saw Berger’s back in front of her.
Beyond him, she saw a group of people illuminated from behind by the fire.
Hazel quickly turned her head to check their surroundings.
No one was out on the moonlit and windy streets tonight, but around 20 men carrying firearms surrounded her and Berger in a half circle.
“Um,” she began with a troubled tone. “Does this mean we’re surrounded?”
She was shocked when no one reacted to her question.
She frantically stood up and spoke to Berger’s back in front of her.
“What is going on? Is this the Geheimnis Agency you were talking about?”
“Indeed it is,” said the previous deep voice loudly enough to be heard over the blowing winter wind.
The group ahead of them parted and a man stepped forward.
The older man had gray hair and a tall, thin figure illuminated in the moonlight.
He suddenly pulled out a handgun. The automatic weapon had several fang-like designs on the side and his gloved hand slowly aimed it toward Berger as he spoke.
“Do you know who I am, ‘Wild Hund’ Dog Berger?”
“I do, ‘Schütze Puppe’ Bermark Vier.”
The gun remained perfectly aimed at Berger’s forehead.
“Will you hand over the girl or not? Choose.”
“The girl? Don’t call her that, old man. She may be too innocent to have a Titel, but she does have a name. Have the decency to call her Hazel Mirildorf.”
Berger’s bitter smile helped Hazel start breathing again.
Hearing her name spoken brought a sense of relief. She was unsure if that came from her feline instincts, but it was still there.
“Don’t assume you can justify using people as no more than a means to an end, you outdated old man,” continued Berger.
“Those who refuse to abide by the new national policy are the outdated ones, youth.”
Bermark gathered strength in his voice and spoke in a different way next.
<The Freeshooter awakens.>
He shut his mouth and the Text was released from this gun.
But that was not all. A faint light left the barrel and shined on Berger’s forehead.
…What kind of spell is this?
Berger and Bermark said nothing to answer Hazel’s question.
That meant neither of them found this to be odd in the slightest.
“Is that the Freischütz I’ve heard so much about ever since last year? Marsch is a hell of a designer.”
“This was designed based on a gun under development by Walther, making this the latest fashion in our nation.”
<The Freeshooter sees the enemy.>
The light emitted from the barrel narrowed down to perfectly aim at Berger’s forehead.
But Berger maintained his bitter smile.
“You’re being mighty cautious with your Eingeweide’s Erklärung. Is your hand too shaky from age, old man? First, you use the Ton text that binds you and the machine in order to rewrite the surrounding space as text.” He took a breath. “And then you use the temporary Beweisen attack to focus in on the machine’s Tons so you can Erklärung the effect you want, huh?”
“Thanks for the lesson, but I already know how it works.”
Bermark used his next Erklärung to rewrite his act of taking the shot and the flight of the bullet.
<The Freeshooter shoots the enemy.>
He aimed between the eyes, the shot would land in an instant, and a single dry blast rang out.
Hazel reflexively crouched down and squeezed her eyes shut in fear.
Her vision vanished into darkness, trapping her in a world of only sound.
First, she heard the sound of wood splintering and of metal hitting metal.
Those two noises overlapped and several seconds of silence followed.
She did not hear Berger scream or flesh being torn through.
If she did not hear any of that, none of it must have happened.
That question grew into curiosity, so she opened her eyes. She saw darkness in front of her.
But the darkness before her opened eyes fluttered along with the wind brushing at her cheek.
It was the hem of Berger’s black coat.
She looked up to see him standing with his back to her.
The wind blew and something fell from sky to her cheek.
The small splinter of wood was from the box he had been carrying.
She could see him holding the splintered box overhead and his voice rang out.
“Is that all your Beweisen can do? Then I’m not too impressed with the Eingeweide handgun Freischütz?”
The wind blew even stronger, causing his coat to flutter up enough for her to see Bermark beyond him.
The old soldier with the handgun was directing a suspicious look toward the box Berger held.
“What is that?”
The tension in Bermark’s words was answered by a small sound from the box.
The wood was bursting apart and scattering.
Hazel saw Berger now holding something other than the box in his hands.
It was a long hilt.
The hilt of a sword shined a dull gold in the moonlight. The guard was decorated with something like woven hair and the hilt had somehow feminine lines.
She heard him speak in a horribly cold voice.
“Allow me to introduce you to the Eingeweide sword I was left with.”
He smiled bitterly.
“It’s called Gelegenheit.”
Chapter 3: The Wind Begins
The battle begins
And I am merely protected.
He asks me
What I meant when I said
I don’t want to run away.
A steel enhancement technique developed during the middle ages. A portion of the user’s body has its Lives broken down and combined with the created machine’s Lives to create a link between their willpower and the machine. The idea is said to have come from a Panzer’s Schreiben device.
When the user focuses their willpower, the machine will react and emit ether into the surrounding space while also emitting an Erklärung text which triggers a Live transformation that rewrites the surrounding space. Their willpower and the machine textually rewrite reality.
That process is known as Erklärung.
There are two types of Erklärung: the Beweisen that is modifiable based on the machine and the Ober Beweisen that uses the user’s own Lives. The former is easy to use and can create a wide variety of effects, but it is weak. The latter can only have the one effect but is powerful enough to call a miracle. Also, the device must be the tool best suited to represent the user’s will.
Hard metallic sounds rang through the Berlin night.
The loud clangs of steel sounded once, twice, thrice, and on and on without end. They grew into a complex cacophony but never did cease. The noises were also traveling quickly through the city.
They currently rushed into the university at the center of Berlin.
Solid metallic sounds continued from within the school with 13 tall and modern-designed buildings on its large campus. They showed no sign of stopping.
Two new sounds came from the center of the courtyard surrounded by a circle of black cedar trees.
One was a gunshot and one was an Erklärung.
<The Freeshooter pursues his prey.>
Bullet after bullet was fired from Bermark’s handgun as he ran through the center of the courtyard.
All the bullets became glowing arrows that drew curving arcs to pursue his enemy.
Those glowing arrows were directing their obvious hostility toward the young man in black carrying a girl under his arm.
He spun around without a sound to dodge the auto-seeking arrows and knocked a few from the air with the hilt of Gelegenheit. But he was stuck on the defensive.
The pursuer fired rapidly and reloaded in the blink of an eye. Bermark’s voice rang through the courtyard.
“Is run all you can do, ‘Wild Hund’!? If you hope to defy me, then use those canine fangs of yours!”
He dropped an emptied magazine and swung his right arm to produce a new one from within his sleeve.
He grabbed it with his gloved hand and immediately loaded it.
“Now, beat once more, Freischütz! Produce the beat of destructive gunfire for our great nation!”
<The Freeshooter corners his enemy.
Hounds are needed to corner the wild dog.
His shots are numerous and swift.>
He rapidly emptied the new magazine.
The gunfire scattering from the barrel took the form of bullets with unbelievable force. The curves of light bent to the left, right, top, and bottom to pursue the enemy as a heavy barrage.
All of that attack power flew toward Berger, the young man in black standing in front of the large glass entrance of a school building with a girl under one arm.
He did not even glance back at the incoming bullets as he adjusted his grip on the girl and spun around.
He twisted his body as if in preparation to tackle, stuck his leg out, and kicked through the glass door behind him like his foot was a battle axe.
The glass shattered and the chilly winter wind washed across him as he ran through the hole he had created. The girl in his arms cried out in surprise.
The bullets immediately crashed into the spot he had vacated, creating explosions and rubble.
When Hazel reopened her eyes, she saw a white linoleum ceiling overhead.
That ceiling was rushing by with a rising and falling speed reminiscent of a heartbeat. Berger was carrying her while he ran. She noticed his face was shockingly close by.
…We’re running through a school building, aren’t we?
That strangely calm thought was followed by the ceiling collapsing behind them where something had slammed into it. A line of destruction ran through the ceiling and it instantly caught up to and surpassed them. The ceiling collapse along that line, causing pillars of rubble to crash down.
Berger clicked his tongue.
“Does that gun get more destructive the more worked up he is? Damn that excitable old man.”
They were surrounded by rumbling and Berger weaved through the falling rubble as he ran.
Hazel noticed something like oil drip onto her cheek while he carried her.
“D-Dog! Put me down!!”
“Yeah, I don’t think so.”
She ignored his casual tone and tried to break free of his arm around her hips.
It was no use. She gulped at how unexpectedly strong his grip was and pressed herself up against him instead.
Instead of breaking his grip, she worked to wriggle free of it.
“Wait, you moron.”
“You’re the moron!”
Once her feet were on the cold hallway floor, she began to run.
She ran alongside him with the sounds of destruction behind her, but her feet got tangled up below her.
She looked down to see she was wearing sandals. Those things were slowing her down.
“I’ve had about enough of you!”
She voiced her protest against the sandals before kicking her running feet to launch the sandals from them.
She resumed running with her bare feet and snatched the sandals from the air in front of her.
“That’s a neat trick for a girl with such a well-to-do family,” commented Berger.
She ran up alongside him on the left and noticed a trail of blood from his forehead to his cheek.
“Um, a-are you okay?”
“This is nothing as long as you aren’t hurt. I’m doing the best job I can given the circumstances. I take my work seriously, after all.”
The collapse of the ceiling picked up speed. It spread to the sides as well.
They frantically sped up, but then a pillar of wreckage fell right in front of Hazel. Ceiling panels, soundproofing material, insulation, metal, and concrete were stacked up like the layers of a cake in the falling pillar.
“Eh!?” she shouted just before an arm in black reached over from the side.
The horizontal strike shattered the pillar that should have crashed into her head from above.
“I won’t let anything hurt you. Don’t forget that.”
“You really do take your work seriously, huh?”
“You too will eventually understand why, Hazel. Assuming you aren’t all talk, that is.”
He did not clarify what he meant and instead asked her a question.
“But, Hazel Mirildorf, why do they want you so badly?”
“Can’t you figure it out? Isn’t your perception the second best in the world or something?”
“Perception? I’m the second worst in the world when it comes to that. …Also, um, yeah.”
“Can you swing your left arm like this?”
Still running and looking utterly confused, she mimicked his motion by swinging her left hand and the wooden sandal she held in it. At that very moment, they came across an intersection in the hallway.
One of Bermark’s men ran out from the left.
Her swinging sandal slammed into his face.
He spun around a full rotation from the impact and vanished from view as she continued to run.
The solid impact had felt unexpectedly fulfilling from her end. But…
“W-wait, are you having me help you with your violence?”
“Think of it as a way of showing that overexcited old man you won’t do what he says.”
“Um…what happens if that guy does catch me?”
“The simplest guess would be…well, you know. They send you back to the Heidenheim. But…”
“Why is the Geheimnis Agency here? Those Dragoon descendants have always worked behind the scenes in this country, but now they’re keeping the police and the MPs away in order to pursue you. The city must be under martial law at the moment. But why?”
“Don’t ask me. I guess they could use me as a hostage to threaten my dad.”
“Only the military would want to do that, but that old man’s from the Geheimnis Agency. Or is the agency hoping to recruit your dad? Even after he failed to stop what happened 2 years ago?”
Hazel frowned at how those words seemed to stab into her heart.
But Berger kept talking.
“Nothing to say to that, huh? I know what you must be thinking: your dad isn’t the type to budge even if they take you hostage.” He took a breath and raised his right index finger before continuing. “I agree that Oscar Mirildorf isn’t the kind of soldier who would act on a private matter like that.”
Hazel had started hanging her head without even noticing, so Berger slapped her on the shoulder.
She looked up to find he was looking at her as he continued to run. The look on his face was sincere.
“So can you think of any other reason they’d be after you, Hazel? Has anything happened recently? For example…”
The look on his face grew even more serious.
“Well, I’m not sure how to put this tactfully, but…”
“What?” she asked with a hint of concern.
“Have you been a naughty girl?”
“No!” she shouted back.
He gave her a bitter but toothy grin and she looked away from him.
…He’s teasing me!
But she said something else.
“The only thing that’s happened recently is this eye.”
“I was blinded in one eye when they hit me during my arrest. Then I got a fever in the Heidenheim, and-”
“Hold on. Are you saying they gave you that blue eye in the hospital?”
“I didn’t want them to, but the doctors seemed in a real hurry to get it done.”
She noticed a change in him as she explained this. He grew a lot more tense.
She slowed her pace as they approached the end of the hallway.
She found him staring straight at her eye.
She met that gaze for a few seconds and his expression gradually grew into one matching a sigh and his eyebrows lowered.
“I don’t know what it means, but that must be it!”
She did not understand any of this.
…What must be it?
Before she could ask that, a voice reached them from behind.
<The Freeshooter does not let an enemy escape.
He releases the hounds and looses his arrow.>
Hazel looked back to see a line of gathered light flying down the hallway toward them.
She frantically looked forward to see them running toward a large glass door. Breaking through that to escape outside would not allow them to avoid the pursuing shot.
And the enemy unleashed a second shot as well.
Bermark’s Text rang loud. His deep voice pierced through the hallway.
<Racing hounds, pursuing hounds.
Grow faster, grow swifter, grow stronger, grow sharper.>
She looked back to see a third arrow beyond the first and second ones accelerating their way.
She gulped and slowed her pace while Bermark’s ordinary voice reached her ears.
“Are you still willing to mock my Freischütz, ‘Wild Hund’!?”
“Shut it, hound. Your ferocity doesn’t change that you’re just someone’s pet!!”
Hazel heard Berger raise his voice.
“Don’t worry. I won’t let anything hurt you.”
He slammed his feet against the floor to stop and circled behind her.
He placed himself between her and the incoming magic bullets.
She too came to a frantic stop.
She staggered forward, but looked back to see that dark back standing within arm’s reach.
He was thin, but his back gave off the pressure of a solid wall.
He thrust his right hand out into the darkness with Gelegenheit in his grasp.
That was when she noticed a change in Gelegenheit’s shape. A commercial Size D Phlogiston Tank had been inserted into the connector on the bottom of the hilt.
It took her a moment to realize he had spoken her name.
She lost her chance to react, so he spoke again.
The magic bullets were approaching. They exchanged words in what felt like a mere instant.
“What are your thoughts on leaving this country?”
“I-I don’t like it. Because I didn’t do anything wrong. I…” She hesitated. “I still don’t want to run away! That’s my one and only answer!!”
“Hah, that kinda nonsense shows you’re still just a kid. You should be embarrassed.”
With those words, a dark blade jutted out from Gelegenheit.
It was the polar opposite of the glowing Schwerts and Lanzes used by dogfighting fighter craft. This blade was clearer and more transparent and it seemed to be made from pure willpower given a cutting edge. It was a darkness that had abandoned even beauty.
The pitch black blade extended to a length of about 2 yards and stopped.
Berger did not even glance toward the approaching arrows as he spoke to her.
He held Gelegenheit overhead.
“But, Hazel – Hazel Mirildorf! Do not forget that feeling!”
Then he took action.
After a casual swing of Gelegenheit’s blade, Hazel saw the entire hallway – from ceiling to floor, sliced through in a clockwise circle. Only a severing line remained along the hallway’s wall and ceiling.
The single Text she heard came from empty space, not from Berger’s mouth or from Gelegenheit.
<My Destiny does not yet bring death.>
That was all.
That was all it took for the three magic bullets to pass behind Berger and Hazel.
Hazel tried to question what had just happened, but Berger pulled on her hand.
A moment later, the magic bullets hit the glass door behind them.
She turned toward the loud noise to see light and explosions blowing away the door.
…They didn’t hit us!?
She looked and saw the black blade had vanished from Gelegenheit in Berger’s hand. He flipped the hilt around in his hand and flicked the Phlogiston Tank with his thumb. The screw holding it in loosened and he removed it from the weapon.
“You used it up already? But those things will run a radio for a full year.”
“I cut through our destiny of death. That’s worth at least a year of radio, don’t you think?”
He pulled on her hand and crossed over the heated wreckage of the door to run outside.
The full moon shined in the sky overhead.
They had crossed the courtyard and passed through that building, so they were now by the trees lining the road out front. It was a wide road with black cedars on either side. They were only 200 yards away from the main gate onto campus. Climb the metal fence there and they were out in the city.
Hazel’s breath was visible in the chilly air as she worked to run faster.
Her right eye felt that chill more strongly.
…Is that because I’m still not used to the prosthetic?
She rubbed her eye, assuming the faint piercing pain was due to the cold air.
Then she looked to Berger running alongside her and asked the question on her mind.
“Dog, what did you mean earlier?”
“About you being a naughty girl?”
“No! Why are you so fixated on the idea of people not wanting to run away? And…” She hesitated but decided to ask. “Who is the person who vanished from your life? Who is Eryngium?”
She fell silent after that.
…I probably shouldn’t have asked that.
She said “sorry” and looked away from him. She focused on running.
Then she heard a bitter laugh from him.
A moment later, she heard a sound like shattering glass.
…What was that?
By then, it was too late.
<The Hero holds everything in his hand.>
The scene in front of her changed. She should have been looking at the main gate dead ahead, but then the black cedar trees and the sidewalk on the left suddenly rushed in toward her.
Berger’s voice sounded so far away on her right.
Her sensitive inner ear as a cat told her something was wrong.
At some point, she had turned 90 degrees to the left.
But it was too late to do anything about it.
Her running legs hesitated for a moment and she stumbled on the curb before the sidewalk.
Her skinny body grew airborne and she flew head-first toward the trees. Dry cedar leaves were falling from those winter trees.
…This is going to hurt.
Her thoughts remained oddly calm as she tried to curl up.
But then something caught her in midair.
Before she could even question it, she realized a thick manly arm had grabbed her and lifted her high.
She opened her eyes to find herself around 3 yards high. She could see everything from there.
Dog Berger stood on the main road with his black coat flapping in the wind.
Bermark Vier stood to the right with his handgun at the ready.
And on the ground directly in front of her, she could now see what had caused the previous oddity.
Across a 10-yard square, the ground had been rotated at a right angle.
Needless to say, it had not been like that to begin with.
…Did some kind of field spell rotate the entire space including the ground and me? It must have rotated inertia along with everything else.
She gulped at how wide a range had been affected and she looked down.
A man was carrying her over his shoulder. His enormous body was covered by a black military coat and his right arm was a giant prosthetic with a launcher attached. She had seen him just that morning at Berger’s used bookstore.
Berger called his name.
“ ‘Schallmauer Zerstörer’ Hellard Schweitzer!!”
“Indeed,” replied Schweitzer while tapping the sidewalk with the metal staff sticking out from his prosthetic arm’s launcher.
A solid, clear sound rang out and a light appeared before its reverberation faded.
Several silver searchlight beams shined in from beyond the woods alongside this road. More lights appeared on the roof of the school building to the right and atop the wall separating the campus from the city.
Hazel squinted at the brightness.
…What is going on?
She was answered not by light but by sound.
She heard the low thrum of engines and the squeak of metal wheels following a rail.
She reflexively turned that way and saw the main gate opening.
The black metal fence of a door opened with the painfully shrill cry of its wheels and 8 armored vehicles entered through it.
That was not all. She heard giant metal feet crashing against the pavement with a heartbeat rhythm.
Two large forms appeared beyond the armored vehicles.
Her question was answered by the presence of humanoid masses of metal standing 8 yards tall. They were male Grösse Panzers. They stood alongside the armored vehicles in Panzer Kleids and with their hands on the swords at their hips.
…What? It’s like they’re ready for a war.
She panicked, but did not know what to actually do.
Schweitzer seemed to ignore her entirely as he struck the ground with the metal staff once more.
This clang caused all the light to waver. Soldiers had begun to gather in front of it. She heard the rustle of clothing and the hard footsteps of military boots. The metallic clattering of countless firearms overlapped into an indistinct roar of noise.
Feeling inundated by the many sounds, Hazel held her own body and looked around.
Figures in military uniforms emerged endlessly from the woods as if brushing up against her gaze. Their numbers rapidly grew into the dozens as they wordlessly used the trees and underbrush as cover while surrounding Berger from a distance and aiming their weapons at him.
After a few seconds, Schweitzer let out a shout.
They all obeyed. Even the light and wind seemed to stop along with them.
The tension of the stillness and the cold now ruled the scene.
The air felt bound by a silence appropriate for a winter night and Hazel asked a silent question.
…What’s going to happen?
She absentmindedly rubbed her right prosthetic eye and looked to him.
…My right eye kind of hurts.
The pain had been coming and going for a bit now. Wondering if she was imagining it, she looked to Berger.
“Quite the party you’re throwing us, Schweitzer.”
“What is your point?”
“Why does the Geheimnis Agency need Hazel?”
“We need that girl to protect Germany.”
Hazel saw Berger’s expression change.
“That girl? She has a name, Schweitzer, so why aren’t you using it? Yeah, you know the answer, don’t you? It isn’t Hazel you need; it’s that prosthetic eye!” A breath. “I’m betting that eye is an Eingeweide and it’s made from-”
“Yes, it was made from Marsch Gant’s eye. From one of his blue eyes.”
Schweitzer turned to face Berger while spitting out the words.
Since Hazel was carried over his shoulder, this turned her so her butt was pointed toward Berger. She twisted around so she could see where their gazes were colliding, but she also brought her right hand to her right eye.
The prosthetic human eye she was given at the hospital had been aching for a while now.
Berger provided an answer to that.
“I don’t know what it does or what its power is, but if Marsch did make it, then I already know what it must be called. Based on that song Eryngium loved…that must be the Eingeweide eye Messiah.”
“Indeed it is. But unfortunately, that appears to be no more than a name.” Schweitzer sighed but kept all emotion from his face. “We have secured the Messiah, but we do not find ourselves in the destiny we had hoped for. This girl cannot become the Messiah. …Nevertheless, this Messiah implant is still crucial.”
“Wh-what does that mean!?” asked Hazel. “What does it even mean to become the Messiah?”
She shouted and tried to escape his grasp, but his arm had her waist fully pinned. She heard his voice right in her ear.
“Stop struggling. I would prefer not to kill you.”
There was no hint of emotion in his voice or on his face, but she stopped all the same.
She heard a quiet laugh followed by Berger’s voice.
“I think I get what this is about now. And why Marsch sent me the 9th Section of the Ruling King. It’s slowly coming together for me.”
He opened his mouth and a calm song echoed out into the night air.
The one-armed youth holds the Messiah
The moonlit pair returns to the earth
The dragons gather and dance tonight
Every last thing returns home
“That song was written in a time when German land was under attack by an outside enemy. The Heidengeist Messiah was unsure if she should save that land or not, so the man with a divine name convinced her to do so and they descended to the earth.”
“I get it, Schweitzer. An implant called the Messiah and the song about the Messiah’s descent to the earth? Marsch created that implant because he wanted to create the Messiah, didn’t he?”
“But remember this, Schweitzer. Hazel has no intention of letting me take her out of the country to be with her parents. She says she wants to stay in Germany. Do you know why that is?”
“She says she doesn’t want to run away.”
Hazel noticed extra strength suddenly gather in Schweitzer’s arm.
…Does that mean something to him?
She looked to the large man while wondering about that. She had a good view of the face below his close-cropped blond hair and Berger’s voice rang in her ears.
“You get what that means, right!? We already heard that sentiment two years ago. But the feeling ruling Hazel now is contrary to Eryngium’s will! Because Hazel still doesn’t know what those words mean!”
When he called her name, she realized he was pointing at her.
“Use this chance to think carefully, Hazel. You said you have no obligation to run away and you said you want to use your right to stay here. …You said you don’t want to run away!”
“So figure out what that means! What does it mean to not want to run away!!”
Hazel gasped at what he said.
…Doesn’t it just mean that I don’t want to run away?
Just as she thought that, pain reverberated through the front of her head.
It came from her right eye. Instead of the previous prickle of pain, this was more distinct and excruciating.
When receiving a prosthetic, there was a chance your body would reject it.
…Is that what’s happening here?
She did not know because it had started so suddenly.
It felt like her right eye was being forcibly pulled from the eye socket, so she squeezed her eye shut.
She frantically held her hand over it, but the eyelid was shut and nothing was wrong. Except for the continuing pain.
She tried to suppress the impatience, panic, and consternation filling her thoughts.
Her sudden doubt was cut short by a second wave of pain.
“–––! ––! ––––!! Ow!!”
The second wave of pain was longer and more powerful than the first. It spread from the eye and pounded on the inside of her skull.
She tried to bear with the pain when a third wave hit.
It felt like a hooked finger was digging around in her eye socket.
She could no longer bear it.
She reflexively arched her back like her body was being squeezed too tight and she screamed up toward the sky and the moon.
The cry of pain and sorrow sounded like an animal howling.
Hearing a scream by his ear, Schweitzer looked up into the sky.
Hazel had been positioned on his shoulder like a priestess praying toward heaven, but all of a sudden, she held her right eye, curled up, and took the fetal position while releasing a quiet breath.
He viewed the limp girl’s face.
Her right eye had undergone a change. That eye remained open like it had a mind of its own and its blue color had changed to a deep crimson.
“Is this the Eingeweide eye Messiah?”
Without responding to his voice, Hazel shut her eyes.
She had passed out.
A moment later, the air erupted and scattered above his shoulder. A chilly smoke of water vapor spread out from the wind and was scattered by the wind. Only one thing remained.
“So that cat this morning was her.”
Some half-human Heidengeists would undergo a defensive transformation when they were in danger. As a half-Werecat, this girl had that ability.
A kitten with white and gold fur was sleeping but breathing heavily on his shoulder while practically buried in clothing.
He gathered the transformed girl in the clothing and raised his voice.
“Withdraw immediately! The Sylphide is coming!!”
His warning came too late.
A shadow appeared over the moon as something descended from the sky.
The first thing to reach them was a powerful gust of wind dropping straight down on them with incredible pressure.
Then came the giant shadow of blocked moonlight. The rumbling of the air arrived third.
It all happened seemingly without warning.
It was all so powerful and heavy.
The wind, shadow, and noise were all mere preparations for what flew down from the sky.
It whipped up the wind as it dropped toward them. Schweitzer kept his eyes open in the blowing wind and saw a blade-like shape descend within the moonlight. The ship was bluer than the moonlight.
It flew along a sharp arc that nearly tore into the ground as it charged toward them.
With a roar, it instantly passed over their heads.
Then it vanished into the sky above the city while whipping up further wind there.
The soldiers let out relieved sighs.
But that was when the blue craft returned along the exact same path like watching a cinema film played in reverse.
At less than 20 yards off the ground, it whipped up the wind and slid overhead in reverse.
It was large. The sharply angular blue craft was around 30 yards long.
Its mere size overhead seemed to create waves of pressure. It slid slowly above that pressure as if searching for something and it passed above the campus’s main gate.
On occasion, it would tilt as if checking below it and then continue on in reverse.
That giant mass of metal was floating in midair and moving.
It did not produce the flames of the spirit rockets and jets used for airplanes, not did it have any nozzles those flames could come from. It was no more than aerodynamically-shaped metal, yet it floated and moved.
No one – not even the Grösse Panzers on the road – dared move, but not just because of its oppressive presence.
The two devices on its front and three on its rear were Kunst Eyes which could weaponize ether. Some light had already gathered on the surface of those orbs, so they could attack at any time.
They all knew it would attack the instant any of them did.
And one person identified the craft.
“During the Armored Hammer of God Incident two years ago, a single aerial warship obliterated the German Air Force’s 5th Division. It used inertial flight and transformed each time it fought.” A breath. “It’s said the Kaizerburg was modeled after the Messiah’s dragon in the Unreif Germane and its presence as history’s strongest warship pushed the world toward militarism. …But this is shaped differently. It looks more refined than the Kaizerburg.”
Schweitzer realized Berger was looking to him, so he explained.
“This is the Sylphide prototype built by Marsch Gant.”
He started to say more but was cut off when the blue Sylphide suddenly dropped down as if it were feeling blue after giving up on finding whatever it was searching for. It almost seemed to be sinking down on a spring, so he barked a command again.
“Withdraw immediately! Shockwave incoming!!”
The blue craft immediately hopped skyward as if it were making a side flip.
The air burst around it with a sound like tearing paper.
The atmosphere was shredded and a chilly white ring spread out and burst, producing a shockwave.
Their surroundings were pummeled by a heavy roar reminiscent of a waterfall.
The soldiers on the road were blown away and their weapons skittered across the pavement or flew through the air. Their screams joined together as one, but Schweitzer remained motionless as he stood their holding Cat Hazel.
The figure in a black coat was no longer on the road in front of him.
Schweitzer simply held the sleeping cat there on his shoulder.
“All that remains is a girl with a will much like hers and the Messiah implant!?”
His words were drowned out by the wind. The wind of that winter night grew stronger and stronger as it crashed into him.
The wind never stopped blowing.
Chapter 4: The Wind Runs
12/21/1937 04:00 – 10:01
When this question was asked in the past
No answer was found due to a mistake
But what about now?
Do I know the answer?
The military fought an internal conflict in 1935. It has since become known as the Armored Hammer of God Incident.
For a mere week, the military fought over an emblem engine built at the Wagner Laboratory which was performing aircraft R&D for the military.
An emblem engine was built using a spirit stone excavated from the Alfheim Meteor Crater in the Black Forest, where the lab was also located, that engine functioned as a semi-perpetual motion machine by refining and taking in ether from the surrounding space, and while the military hoped to use that technology to rise above the Geheimnis Agency, the developers P. Wagner and W. Talstrasse (with the assistance of E. Breuer) launched the aerial warship dp-XXX into space using that emblem engine.
As a deterrent against the nations of the world, the dp-XXX announced itself an independent craft not affiliated with any nation. By ’37, it had chosen to wander mostly around America.
Two things filled a large, dark, and cold enclosed space: many tall bookcases positioned in orderly rows and the tones of a wall clock announcing it was 4 o’clock.
This was the first floor of the central library at Berlin’s university late at night.
Only the moonlight shining in through the tall windows created pale shadows. That light seemed to carry a set rhythm that endlessly but gently illuminated the library.
Then that light falling on the floor was disturbed.
Footsteps sounded and a figure walked through the library. The shadows cast by the moonlight made them look even darker than usual.
It was Berger.
He walked briskly between the bookcases and suddenly reached out to brush his hand along one shelf.
“History Shelf 3: Investigations of how the Obstacle Era led to the City Era.”
He touched another.
“Political Sociology Shelf 21: From the collapse of the First Reich to Bismarck’s Blood and Iron speech.”
“Miscellaneous Shelf 13: Information on this library.”
The dark figure sat in front of one bookcase. The hem of his coat spread out below him as he reached out to touch the floor composed of black and white tiles.
His expression was blank. He did not speak a word as he pressed against various parts of the floor in a seemingly casual way.
“Here it is.”
He suddenly lifted his hand from the floor and stood up.
His right hand touched the end of a bookcase in front of him and he swung his hand outwards as if trying to brush it aside.
The bookcase slid to the right with no resistance whatsoever. It moved about 2 yards.
And a hole appeared in the floor where it had been.
He set foot in that hole without hesitation. There was a stairway within and the floor swallowed up one step’s worth of his body.
As he continued walking, the library floor soon rose above his head and the stairway’s ceiling was overhead instead.
There was no wind or anything else in that space. It was a dark and still pit.
His clothing and hair blended into the darkness and the rustling of his clothing grew louder than his footsteps as he took the last few steps down.
After a total of 21 steps, even that sound vanished.
But there was a voice.
“Feels weird to be back.”
He knocked lightly on a wooden panel and an oblong strip of bluish-white light appeared in the darkness. The light spread to the side and illuminated him.
A door sat open in front of him and it led to a small room.
He set foot in that room full of bluish-white light and some dust rose from the high pile carpet below his feet.
He looked up without a word.
The small room’s walls were only 5 yards long. Other than a sofa in the center, it only had bookcases covering all four walls. The bookcases were stacked about 20 yards tall, continuing all the way up to the conical ceiling.
The small skylight in the ceiling distributed light throughout the small space using the mirrors installed on the conical interior of the ceiling. The light filling the room was moonlight.
“I might be the last person left who knows about this secret archive since it was traditionally only revealed to each successive library director.”
He removed his black coat and swept it over toward the sofa. It beat audibly at the air and dust spread out from the sofa before scattering into the stagnant air.
Nevertheless, he placed the coat over the sofa and sat on top of it.
He sank down and looked up above the entrance he had used.
A picture frame was hung above the doorframe and the bluish-white light illuminated the photo of a middle-aged man with his arms around two children: a girl on his left and a boy on his right.
The man had the distinctive cat eyes of a feline Heidengeist, as did the smiling girl to his left. They both had bright brown hair, so they were clearly father and daughter.
But the boy on the right had black hair and different eyes.
Berger’s eyes met those of the boy and his lips twisted into a bitter smile.
He removed his sunglasses, put them in his vest’s breast pocket, and brushed a hand through his hair. He did that a few more times before stopping and covering his face with that hand instead.
“Director, Marsch is probably dead. That inventor loved flying around in aircraft so much…but now he must have joined you in the afterlife.” A bitter laugh escaped his mouth. “That means one of us has failed to keep our promise. The promises that I, Marsch, Schweitzer…and Alfred made with Eryngium.”
He looked up and reached for the pendant on his necklace as he spoke. It was a woman’s pendant set with a red jewel that shined in the moonlight. It was also a cheap one like the ones you could buy from most any street vendor.
A slight metallic sound came from the pendant as it split in two and opened.
A small piece of paper was pasted within.
It was part of a photo. That image of the past had lost its left and right sides, but it clearly showed a man and a woman. The woman was bending her cat eyes with a smile and the black-haired young man was standing behind her.
They stood at an airport with an airplane on a runway behind them.
“That’s one less person who knew me back then.”
He had trouble saying any more and shut the pendant.
A few seconds passed.
Once he managed to compose his expression, he looked up at the white ceiling that reflected the moonlight.
“Eryngium, I just know Marsch died to keep his promise. And now I know what I must do. I’ve met someone who…who is saying the same thing you did before you vanished from our lives.”
Definite strength filled his words now.
He hesitated, clenched his fists until they grew white, and continued.
“I want to see where those words lead, even if you failed to see it yourself.”
He stood up, picked up his coat behind himself, swung it around to get the dust off, and put it on.
The air swirled around and the sound echoed through the small room.
His lips mouthed the words of the 9th Section of the Ruling King.
He spread his hands in the center of that sound and motion and took in a deep breath.
He glanced up at the picture frame above the entrance immediately after reopening his eyes.
Without a word more, he began to walk.
He walked out of there.
The morning sun shined into a room where Hazel sat across a table from Schweitzer. The table had a tablecloth over it and a simple but nutritionally-balanced breakfast was laid out on top.
It included brot, gemüsesuppe, wurst, fried eggs, a variety of fruits, and kaffee with cream floating in it.
Hazel slowly ate that while viewing the man in front of her.
Schweitzer ate with just his left arm and he did not look at her at all, but the way he moved his arm seemed awkward.
…He’s going out of his way to eat with me.
With that on her mind, she moved her gaze to view the room. It was a large room with 6 yard walls. The ceiling had beautiful wood paneling, the wallpaper had an arrowhead pattern, and the high pile carpet felt nice even with bare feet.
The bed affixed to the wall was large too. Overall, the room was brown and warm.
She suddenly glanced to the bed.
The end of the blanket was a mess because she had dressed while sitting on top of it. She had been laid in the bed in her cat form, so she had woken up naked.
She looked back to Schweitzer, but his interest was not in the bed.
She breathed a sigh of relief and looked around the room again.
The air conditioning had formed condensation on the window that overlooked the interior of Tempelhof Air Base. When Bermark had arrived earlier to ask if she needed any daily items, he had explained that this was the 5th floor of the officer barracks and that she had been given a vacant room.
…This certainly is a warm welcome.
That thought entered her mind while she saw a transport plane finish taxiing and begin taking off outside the condensation-covered window. It shook the atmosphere, creating a roar of air.
The plane looked like a small toy at this distance as it accelerated along the other side of the brown winter grass. It moved from the right side of the window and vanished off the left side. And then…
“Do you like aircraft?”
She turned toward the voice to see Schweitzer was indeed still eating.
His gaze was lowered toward the wurst he was slicing in two with his fork, so he was not looking at her.
“Do you like aircraft?”
She answered promptly, but he did not look up.
She realized her expression had grown stiff as she continued her answer.
“If not for aircraft, my dad probably wouldn’t have had to ‘regretfully retire’. Um, do you know what happened after that Armored Hammer of God Incident? The German military used that chaos as an excuse to oppress the Heidengeists in the country. They declared without evidence that the Heidengeists had been behind the incident.”
“That was in fact a witch hunt meant to extract all the foreign wealth held by the Heidengeists.”
“Yes, it was. You knew?”
“The Geheimnis Agency was tasked with that job at the time. That was my third year in the Agency.”
Schweitzer still did not look her way.
She tilted her head while he resumed eating in silence.
“Then why aren’t you hunting me down? Um, I am a Heidengeist.”
“That was made clear yesterday. And like I said before breakfast, your eye is crucial for the protection of Germany and that Messiah implant began to adapt to your body last night.” A breath. “It is no longer possible to simply remove the prosthetic eye. Normally, we would be searching for someone who can accept that eye now that it has made itself a part of your body.”
“Um,” she said while rolling that idea around in her mind. “And if you do find a compatible person?”
…Will they gouge out my eye and send me to be made into a Phlogiston Platte like the other Heidengeists?
She could not ask that part out loud, but she did hold a hand to her shoulder. The shoulder which bore a branded number.
He must have known what she was thinking because he responded in a deep voice.
“I said ‘normally’, remember?” He was speaking with his eyes still lowered toward his food. “Germany refuses to accept anyone with Heidengeist Tons as a citizen. We reject Heidengeist to ensure our racial superiority. Thus…we will not find anyone compatible with an eye that has been tainted with Heidengeist Tons.”
She looked up at the ceiling when she heard that.
She thought about it and scratched at her hair for a mere three seconds before finding an answer and looking back at him.
“I have done nothing deserving your thanks.” He continued as if restating that. “Listen, we must research that eye of yours and that requires preserving your physical and mental health. We cannot allow you to come to harm.”
She listened to him, but then she removed her hand from her shoulder.
“What power does this eye – the Messiah – hold that makes it so important?”
“From what I have been told, its Beweisen can apparently resonate with and control any Eingeweide device. That makes it the foundation of all Eingeweide devices.”
“Then…what did you mean last night about me becoming or not becoming the Messiah?”
He seemed to choose his words more carefully when answering this question.
“We believe that a Messiah will appear to become our leader and save us when Germany faces a crisis in the near future. …Our Geheimnis Agency is currently leading the country, but a Neue Kavalier is meant to serve a leader who guides them.”
“And that’s the Messiah?”
“However, certain conditions must be met to become the Messiah. You were a likely candidate, but destiny did not fulfill those conditions when we secured you last night. …You carry the Messiah implant, but you failed to become the true Messiah.” A breath. “However, that does not make your Messiah implant any less important.”
“If I had fulfilled the conditions to become the Messiah, would I have received an even warmer welcome?”
She smiled a little and ate a spoonful of soup now that steam had stopped rising from it.
And she asked something else purely out of curiosity.
“But why are you working so hard to make all this happen?”
He finally looked up upon hearing that.
He started to say something, sighed, and spoke more quietly.
“I once promised I would live a life that protected this country.”
He looked down again before answering and Hazel looked to him after hearing it. Her eyes landed on the woman’s earring he wore on his left ear. She kept her eyes on that as she asked something else.
“Was that promise with…Eryngium?”
Schweitzer stopped moving altogether.
When Hazel saw that, she stood up and turned her back on him.
“Dog Berger mentioned the name Eryngium and nothing else. Who is she and what does she do? He said she thought the same thing I do and he mentioned a promise made to her.”
She walked the four steps needed to reach the window, placed her hand on the condensation-wet sill, and opened the window.
The wind blew in.
The chilly air flowed into the room, eliminating the warmth from the air conditioning.
But she opened her eyes and stared into the distance. Tempelhof Airport had been converted into an airbase, so several transport planes were stopped on the wide airfield to quickly bring in and send out materiel.
She could only hear the blowing of the wind and the rumble of engines.
She narrowed her eyes.
“Um…why is everyone so fixated on the fact that I don’t want to run away?”
The wind blew in, causing her hair to dance and flutter in the room behind her.
She turned around as if pulled back by her hair.
There she saw Schweitzer had stood from his seat and was starting to leave the room.
She started to say something, but he turned just his head toward her and looked her in the eye.
The strength in his gaze was enough to silence her.
Her shoulders drooped in the wind as he spoke.
“The woman named Eryngium is no more.” He paused slightly but did not look away from her. “Because I hunted her down as part of the Heidengeist suppression following the Armored Hammer of God Incident in ’35.”
“We each made a promise to her 3 years ago over drinks. I promised to protect the country, Marsch promised to develop the country, Alfred promised to strengthen the country, and…”
Schweitzer responded to her question by ignoring it.
He opened the door without saying a word more. The wooden door creaked and the wind whirling through the room escaped into the hallway. As did the man whose prosthetic right arm bore the name Der Held.
She started to run over, but before she could ask him to wait, the door slammed shut in her face.
She fell silent with a weight in her heart and she placed her hands on the table and looked outside with a frown.
As if in response to her gaze, a sudden change occurred in the cedar forest surrounding the airport.
Black smoke rose into the sky with fire in the center.
At the same time, screams rose from the airport. All the loudspeakers on the Tempelhof Airport buildings began playing deep, long, and carrying alarms.
“The second alarm? They’re going on alert.”
Hazel suddenly held her body when she saw the black smoke vanishing into the sky. She seemed to be covering up her shoulder.
She smiled bitterly, but that smile gradually faded away. All that remained was a complete lack of expression.
Her eyes calmly turned toward a point on the table. A knife used for breakfast remained there.
She reached for and grabbed that silver-gleaming knife.
“I don’t want to run away…but what does that mean? What does it mean to run away?”
She looked around.
The large room was very neat and tidy. People had brought her food here and said they would protect her while she was here.
…Am I running away if I stay here?
She looked around again and then pressed her left index finger against the tip of the knife.
The tip was not all that sharp, but when she stabbed it into her fingertip with a bit of a twisting motion, a drop of blood welled up.
She felt pain. That was not something to be done out of curiosity, so she frowned.
“Do I have to be hurt if I don’t want to run away?”
She licked her finger. It tasted of iron.
Then she approached the window and sat with her back against the wall.
She held her own body and curled up as if holding the small blade to herself.
The blaring alarms pierced and permeated her body.
Berger was running along Prinzenstrasse on the east end of Berlin.
The wound on his cheek was a mere scratch from a bullet that grazed him. He licked away the flowing blood and his nimble feet pounded loudly on the pavement as he moved south along that large road. The torn hem of his black coat fluttered behind him as he made a beeline for Tempelhof Airbase.
No one else was on large Prinzenstrasse. Everyone else was hiding in the buildings.
He sped up his running legs as if riding on the second alarm sounding all around.
“They declared martial law and then they opened fire the instant they saw me? Looks like someone’s made a name for himself.”
The stone-paved road was covered by the blaring alarms, the chilly winter wind, and people’s abandoned vehicles.
The shops had all shut their doors, but countless gazes peered out from the many windows to see what was happening.
Berger faced forward with all those eyes on him.
“Just when I think I’ve taken out their sniper, they bring out the real big guns.”
A large shadow was cast on the intersection about 100 yards ahead of him. Heavy metal footsteps had sounded on the pavement as the owner of the shadow appeared from behind a building on the right.
It was a single Grösse Panzer. It was black, just like the ones he had seen in front of the university’s main gate.
“HMP109, Br’s 18th child, the Panzer Fuchs designed for urban warfare. Why would they send this into their own city? Do they think they can blow up their problems along with the city itself?”
The Grösse Panzer had arrived within about 20 yards of him.
He was within its range, so the Panzer Fuchs drew the short sword at its hip and took a step back.
For use in cities, the gun turret had been removed, its Panzer Kleid and limbs had been lightened, and it had plastic claws on its feet, allowing it to make shockingly nimble movements.
Its metal engine and joints roared nicely while carrying its weight.
The giant mass’s movements whipped up the wind as if sucking in the air.
But Berger did not stop running toward it. He simply muttered to himself.
“I really should have gotten my own Grösse Panzer for this.”
He took a step to the right just before a silver wall rushed in on his left along with the roaring wind.
That was the Grösse Panzer’s short sword. It was 1.5 yards wide and at least 5 yards long.
The white blade jabbed in while perfectly parallel to the ground and it simply shined there without touching him.
The blade pulled back before Berger was done speaking. On its way back, it angled itself diagonally to try to slice through him.
He spread his limbs below him like a crawling lizard to drop to the ground and avoid the path of that silver line.
The blade pulled back in an instant and then launched an attack from the side.
The silver line was now so low it could easily hit him even while crawling, so he got back up, pulled out Gelegenheit, and blocked the attack.
The Grösse Panzer’s white blade probably could slice right through a building, but it failed to do the same to gold-glowing Gelegenheit.
However, the weight difference was overwhelming.
Before he was launched backwards, he pressed Gelegenheit toward the white blade and angled it upwards. He used the force of the white blade to shift his own body weight upwards as if rolling.
He used that momentum to twist his body around and over the blade.
After passing below him, the horizontal slash sliced through three trees lining the road.
The blade sounded like it was tearing through flesh three times in a row. And after a slight delay, Berger crashed into one of the remaining stumps. The felled trees crashed down onto the road, cutting off his escape.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!”
He kicked a branch away, stood up, and quickly slipped between the trees just before another jab of the sword. And this time…
“Its Ober Emblem!?”
Berger saw armor made of ether light wrap around the Grösse Panzer’s right arm while the sword held in that hand grew to more than 20 yards long while emitting an icy chill.
“Hm, so the emblems on the armor are activated by the Schreibener’s willpower and that modifies the Tons of the ether to transform a portion of the Panzer into something else, huh?”
He moved away from the trees, righted himself, and stood up with a slight smile on his lips.
The blade swung horizontally while giving off frigid air that seemed to pierce through him.
He twisted around and dropped onto his back instead of onto his stomach.
The sword surrounded by all-freezing “frost” ether passed by just in front of his nose. Even the wind was frozen and scattered as frost as the bluish-white blade passed by.
The white attack shook the air and was pulled back with even more speed.
At the same time, Berger pulled a “potato masher” grenade from his hip and used his finger to switch the timed fuse to the shortest setting. He tossed it between the sword and the ground.
“This was fun, but I’ve really gotta run!!”
His words were punctuated by the grenade exploding.
The shockwave rushed out more powerfully than the fire, smoke, or wind. A loud boom echoed out and the bluish-white sword was launched upwards by the blast.
The Ober Emblem shattered, the ether turned to dust, and the blade appeared from within.
The metal right hand on its giant hilt was pushed upwards by the explosion.
The ultra-heavy weapon would not stop shaking thanks to its mass. The Panzer Fuchs tried to regain control of the sword by grabbing its hilt in both hands and Berger chose that moment to jump up on top of the blade.
“The German military’s policy is to send Panzers against powerful Heidengeists, Tuners, and Busters, but that seems naïve to me.”
He ran along the blade and set foot on the heavy metal hands.
He immediately used the Grösse Panzer’s fingers as a launch pad to jump forward.
The black cloaked figure soared up to its shoulder.
The Grösse Panzer frantically let go of the short sword with one hand and pursued the black cloak fluttering in the wind, but it was too late.
Berger slipped below that hand and landed on the narrow right shoulder for just a moment. He was within arm’s reach of the metal face.
“Have a gift. And I’m feeling generous today.”
He pulled out four grenades and slipped them into the gaps between the different facial devices.
Then he leaped behind the Grösse Panzer.
While he dropped down behind it, he heard the heavy sound of the Grösse Panzer scratching at its face in a panic.
He did not look back.
The explosion sounded overhead and behind him just as his feet reached the ground. A large shadow fell on him and extended out ahead of him. The shadow had a humanoid form with limp limbs.
He whistled as he took off running.
“Now, I really do need to hurry.”
As soon as he escaped from below that shadow, he heard the loud crash of a great mass falling directly behind him. He heard a harmony of metal shattering and breaking against the stone pavement.
He still did not look back. “That was a little too acrobatic,” he commented as he picked up speed.
Up ahead in the distance, he saw several armored trucks racing down the road toward him. He saw a Panzer Fuchs standing up in the back cargo area past each of those armored roofs.
“Hm, they get persistent when you piss them off.”
He looked up to see an area of woods beyond the armored trucks and Grösse Panzers. Those were the woods surrounding Tempelhof Airport.
The enemy was approaching with those woods as a backdrop.
“Berlin is a fairly nondescript city, but it does have a childish love of big weapons.”
His tone remained light as he pulled a Phlogiston Tank from his pocket and attached it to the bottom of Gelegenheit. Then he attached another. And another.
He poured their power into Gelegenheit while speeding up his feet. He ran ever onward with the alarms blaring in the distance.
Hazel remained entirely still while the alarms soaked into her body.
She only moved once a slight change came over the alarms.
They had been a single long and shrill wail, but now they gained an intermittent, almost footstep-like rhythm while also growing louder.
“The third alarm.”
She had some knowledge of what the different alarms meant thanks to her father. Hearing that indication of an emergency, she looked up, stood up while dropping the knife into her breast pocket, and looked out the window.
The lines of black smoke rising past the woods around the airbase had grown in number.
…Someone’s fighting and I just know it’s Dog.
A knock came at the door behind her as if responding to her thoughts.
The door opened before she could turn around and an old man entered with a paper bag held in his gloved hand.
“Excuse me. It is Bermark Vier. …I am here to drop off the daily items your requested, but there seems to be some trouble at the moment.”
Hazel lightly slapped her own cheek when she heard that.
She drove out her timid thoughts, composed her expression, and asked a question.
“You mean what’s happening out there, don’t you? Um…is this destiny too?”
“That lieutenant mentioned that it was destiny that prevented me from becoming the Messiah.”
Bermark smiled a little and nodded.
“He is a stickler for the rules, so I imagine he did not explain to you the details of the prophecy concerning the Messiah’s birth.”
He looked out the window and sang a short song while holding the tune perfectly.
The one-armed youth holds the Messiah
The moonlit pair returns to the earth
The dragons gather and dance tonight
Every last thing returns home
The gently flowing Text carried enough pressure to drown out the alarm.
Bermark placed the paper bag on the table, cleared his throat, and asked a question of his own.
“To what do you think that Text refers?”
“It’s a passage from the Unreif Germane, isn’t it? It’s referring to the Heidengeist Messiah who commands a dragon and the youth with a divine name.”
“You would think so, but no. That Text was recited three months ago as a prophecy for the appearance of the Messiah. It is strange, but…” He gave a deep nod as if to encourage himself. “For about a year now, our prophet’s prophecies have often been identical to parts of the Unreif Germane. Most likely, a portion of Germany’s Tons are growing identical to their state a thousand years ago.”
His calmly-stated explanation briefly left Hazel speechless. And finally…
She tilted her head, but Bermark continued to look out the window.
“The ether forming all of space contains Tons and those Tons are inherited. Over time, Germany’s Tons have permeated this land so thoroughly that the humans born here all contain Germany’s Tons.”
“Do Heidengeists like me also contain them?”
Bermark’s smile sank and he cast his gaze downward.
“No. Unfortunately, most Heidengeists do not have…”
He trailed off and all strength left his voice, so Hazel panicked.
“U-um, sorry, I didn’t mean to trouble you. But…but is that what the German government means when they say Heidengeists and foreigners are being hunted down because we possess inferior Tons?”
He confirmed that with a silent nod. Then he composed his expression and cleared his throat.
“Pardon me. That conversation took an unpleasant turn. Anyway, do you understand now? Reading Germany’s Tons is the same as reading the destiny of all pure-blooded Germans.”
“And that acts as a prophecy?”
He nodded and flicked the insignia on his shoulder with a white-gloved hand.
“Our Geheimnis Agency’s leader commands a total of 207 people including the Fünf Leithammel who head the Five Offices of the army, navy, air force, military development, and military intelligence. She is a Sofort Leser who can read the destiny of this land. Three months ago, she presented the previous Text to the entire Geheimnis Agency.” He placed his right hand on his chest and bowed. “She said the Messiah will one day become our leader and save this land if this Text is fulfilled by next April when the Greater Germanic Reich is announced. So she said we must contact the Messiah in accordance with the prophecy.”
“Um, then is that what you two are doing?”
“We are but a portion of the untapped talent that was deployed to fulfill the prophecy. The entire Geheimnis Agency has been seeking the one worthy of the Messiah title for the past three months.”
“And I was a candidate because of this eye?”
“Yes. Sir Marsch, a colleague who knew of the prophecy, created that eye and named it Messiah two months ago, but it was lost and we were searching for it.” A breath. “We did not know if it would truly become the Messiah, but we had to trust that our colleague had created it for a good reason. We wanted to see whether or not the prophecy Text would come to pass when we secured you.”
“And I didn’t live up to that prophecy at all, right? Sorry, but I guess I’m not your chosen one.”
“Do not let it bother you at all. We were only hoping for a greater purpose here, but your eye remains important to us.”
She smiled bitterly at that.
“But there are others who are getting worked up over this for different reasons, aren’t there?”
More dark smoke rose beyond the woods visible outside the window. An explosion rumbled out after a short delay and the windows rattled.
Hazel asked a sudden question.
“Like Dog or that blue craft I briefly saw while I Flektierened last night?”
Bermark turned toward her in apparent surprise, but he said nothing and nodded.
Then he gave a shallow bow and shut his eyes.
“I cannot tell you anything about that craft other than it is named Sylphide. Our only job now is to deliver you and the Messiah implant to Geheimnis Agency HQ and then search for a new Messiah.” He raised his head. “Army reinforcements have arrived here at Tempelhof Airbase, so its defenses have never been stronger. Also, the 1st Aerial Fleet’s 7th Division has been on patrol in the sky above since this morning, so once we are ready to depart, you will be taken to the Geheimnis Agency HQ in southern Germany.”
“We will fly there using one of the Geheimnis Agency’s König Pseudo-Drach strategic reconnaissance crafts. We would have preferred to give you a more comfortable flight aboard one of the new Silber strategic transport crafts, but we are in a hurry.”
Once done speaking, he swung his arm in a way that pulled his sleeve tight and made a solid snapping sound.
At the same time, military boots could be heard beyond the door behind him and a young man spoke through it.
“The König Pseudo-Drach is ready for takeoff! Everything is progressing smoothly!!”
Bermark swung his arm back to its original position.
Hazel gulped as she heard the footsteps departing beyond the door.
But Bermark gave her a relaxed smile like this was a perfectly ordinary situation.
“Do not worry. I am a born servant, so I will treat the daughter of the Mirildorf family with the utmost care.”
“Did you know my father?”
“Our Geheimnis Agency often finds it necessary to work alongside the military and we have learned to appraise those we see there. Major General Oscar had the highest mission success rate at the time.”
“Yet he allowed the Kaizerburg to escape in the very, very end.”
That weak comment was all Hazel said about that bitter memory.
She then asked Bermark a question.
“Um, what does it mean if you don’t want to run away? No, I guess what I mean is…what does it mean to run away?”
“To run away is to survive.”
His immediate answer made her gasp, but then she smiled a little.
“Then if you don’t want to run away, does that mean you want to die?”
He said nothing and her pulse raced a little as she simply looked out the window.
Armored trucks, motorcycles, and Panzers were moving along the airbase’s roads. From above, she could see them blockading the roads and creating defensive formations at strategic points.
The only thing she could hear over their movement was the endless wail of the alarms.
They were all pointed toward the back entrance on the northeast side of the airport.
…They’ve mobilized so many people.
They were taking this intrusion seriously and that showed just how well-known Berger was, but she could also tell it showed just how much they wanted to protect her prosthetic eye.
Past the large open space that doubled as a parking lot, she saw a giant empty truck trying to enter the airport through the back entrance.
There was of course a barricade of smaller armored trucks in front of that entrance, so it could not get in.
Bermark seemed to notice something while watching the truck’s movements.
“Is the battle outside over?”
Just then, a figure in black stood up atop the accelerating truck’s roof.
Hazel and Bermark instantly knew who it was and they both spoke his name – one with excitement and one in a deep groan.
Just then, the truck crashed into the entrance’s gate. It was meant to carry a Grösse Panzer weighing more than 30 tons, so the metal gate was bent, torn from its base, and thrown into the air.
The roar reached them where they were, but the truck only trembled without slowing and crashed into the first blockade.
The armored trucks forming the barricade toppled over, flipped, and flew through the air with a metallic cacophony.
Hazel heard Bermark speak with great force within that festival of noisy destruction.
“So the halfbreed has arrived.”
“You hadn’t heard? Dog Berger’s mother was human, but his father was a resident of England. The military discovered this the other day, so he too is one of the Heidengeist who must be expelled from Germany.”
She watched the distant young man in black with eyes wide.
“Wait, so shouldn’t you be the one running away right now!?”
He was not running away, so she thought about what that meant.
…Does he want to die?
She asked that while she watched the truck crash into the second blockade set up within the airport. It slammed into the wall of armored trucks while soldiers fled.
The sound of crushed metal rang loud and the armored trucks spun outward to clear a path for the larger truck.
At the same time, several gunshots rang out and the battle within the airport began in earnest.
Chapter 5: The Wind Accelerates
12/21/1937 10:21 – 11:37
I will move
To redo everything
And this movement
Will be a new thing
A general term for all nonhuman beings with intelligence equal to or greater than humans. In addition to the standard monsters and fantastical beasts, it includes gods, demons, automatons, and intelligent dragons. Also known as Heidengeists in Germany.
Their origin is as shrouded in mystery as the origin of humans and it is said many new species were created not just from the world’s World Concept Lives – the Lives that created the foundation of each new world as the world was repeatedly destroyed and remade – but also from people’s wills and from the dregs left by nature’s renewal process.
They are found all over the world, but in Europe, most of them moved to England when so many people left it for the New World. England was enveloped in a special field making it a “fictional world” then and it became a country of nonhumans.
The structure of their Lives tends to be more complex and sturdier than with humans, so their willpower can manifest itself more powerfully, they can reproduce with other species, and they have powerful regenerative abilities.
The airport grounds covered a large space.
The winter wind blew unobstructed down the western apron where Berger began running after hopping down from the truck that had lost its tires and come to a stop.
Bullets flew after him and tore into the ground.
He repeatedly hopped to the side while facing forward. The final enemy formation was about 50 yards ahead. The blockade in front of the 5-story officer barracks and general barracks extended far to the left and right to half surround him. The collection of armored trucks and uniformed soldiers were colored in deep greens and blacks while they gave off a wordless air of intimidation and fired their weapons.
But Berger did not seem to care. He spoke to no one while running toward them.
“Someone who abducts a girl is pretty obviously a villain, right?”
With a flash of motion, he pulled something from his black coat’s pocket.
He raised his left hand to reveal a total of four “potato masher” grenades held between the fingers.
He swung his left arm.
A moment later, the four explosives were airborne. They flew high over everyone’s heads.
“So let’s go villain hunting!!”
The four grenades detonated in midair.
The vibration that raced through the air was more shockwave than noise.
Smoke spread out and Berger ran for the center of it. He had plenty of speed and his black coat flapped behind him instead of dragging on the ground.
He arrived in front of the enemy in less than an instant. This close to the barricade, the enemy could not use their heavy firearms if they wanted to avoid friendly fire.
Berger, of course, did not care about their concerns.
A single soldier stood directly in front of him. The man wore a bulletproof jacket and held a shotgun, but he had been blinded by the grenade smoke. He held his empty hand to his face and shouted something, but he could not move.
Berger showed no mercy whatsoever.
He threw a horizontal kick from low to the ground within the smoke.
He leaned his body forward to throw the kick, so it looked more like a gymnastics maneuver than an attack.
His boot swept the soldier’s feet out from under him.
The soldier was now airborne, but Berger had already moved on and calmly stood back up.
He moved his legs in two different ways: he moved his right leg forward while standing back up and he threw another kick with his left leg.
His eyes were directed dead ahead. Past the airborne soldier, another similarly-equipped soldier was trying to aim a submachinegun at him.
Berger did not hesitate to kick the airborne soldier.
With a powerful impact, the kicked soldier crashed into the one trying to ready the submachinegun behind him.
The soldiers tangle together and staggered back, but the submachinegun one managed to throw the collapsed one aside and raise his weapon.
“Too slow. Is that insignia on your shoulder just for show?”
Berger slipped his left shoulder underneath the right arm holding out the submachinegun.
He only had to raise his shoulder a bit to bend the soldier’s right arm in an odd direction from the center.
It sounded like a dry branch breaking and the soldier’s face twisted in front of Berger.
Berger yanked the arm up with his left hand while looking completely disinterested.
Bending the arm further produced a scream from the man and the submachinegun slipped from his hand. The shiny black gun flew through the air.
Berger ignored that while he grabbed the screaming soldier’s face with his left hand.
He casually tossed the man to the left.
The man tripped and fell over the soldier Berger had kicked away earlier. He grabbed at and crashed into another soldier who was trying to attack Berger with a shotgun from the left. That stopped the shotgun blast from happening.
Berger glanced to the right where a knife-wielding soldier was raising a battle cry and charging at him.
He ignored the knife and moved just his eyes to look left again. The soldier he had thrown was collapsing down while still holding onto the shotgun soldier. The shotgun soldier was trying and failing to support his collapsing comrade.
The man’s eyes were wide and mouth hanging agape. He was apparently trying to shout something and his trembling right hand was aiming his shotgun at Berger’s face.
Berger instantly grabbed the short barrel with his left hand and pointed it elsewhere.
The gun fired, but it was now aimed outside of the half-circle blockade and did not harm anyone at all.
“I don’t know why I bother helping you guys out,” spat Berger as he pushed forward with the hand holding the gun barrel.
The shotgun soldier was forced back by the gunstock pushing at his chest.
Then Berger yanked the gun back.
It slipped from the soldier’s hands while the back-and-forth motion also loaded the next round.
Then he twisted his body to the left, swinging the shotgun around wide, as if enjoying the tug of centrifugal force.
The knife soldier roaring and rushing in from the right was knocked away by a shotgun stock to the face.
Berger paid him no further heed as he walked forward with his black cloak continuing to flip around behind him.
An armored truck sat in front of him and a middle-aged soldier with a combat knife stood in front of it. The black military coat he wore suggested he was a Geheimnis Agency soldier, so he was probably an officer.
The officer silently stepped forward and began to draw his knife.
He did so with practiced hand. That was a movement informed by battlefield experience, not mere training, and it was the movement of someone who knew exactly what weapon he was best with.
“Sorry, but you claim to have the world’s best bulletproof tech, right?”
Berger pressed the shotgun’s muzzle against the man’s chest.
He had flipped the gun around and taken aim even faster than that veteran soldier had drawn his knife.
The officer looked Berger in the eye, paused for a brief moment, and gave a smile that did not reach his eyes.
“Don’t die,” was all Berger said before pulling the trigger.
With a dull boom, the officer was blasted backwards and slammed into the armored truck.
The metallic crash was soon replaced by the sound of a flesh body falling to the ground. The officer was not seated in front of the armored truck and he had stopped moving. Berger looked up into the sky in an exasperated way.
He heard repeated metallic sounds from his left.
Five soldiers had lined up and aimed their submachineguns from beyond his reach.
He kept his eyes in the sky instead of looking their way as he asked a question.
“Are you all confident in your bulletproof tech too? You still haven’t decided to run away?”
The soldier never got the “lence” out.
Berger cast aside the shotgun with such a natural movement that no one thought to stop him.
No, he did not actually cast it aside. He simply let go of it, as if placing it in midair.
With that weight gone, he raised his left hand toward the sky where his eyes were pointed. He spread out his fingers and stretched his hand up as if trying to reach something.
And reach something he did.
A submachinegun fell from the sky. It was the one that had flown up into the air after he knocked it from a soldier’s hand earlier. That mass of metal designed to launch bullets fell precisely and silently into his hand as if to say he was its rightful wielder.
He swung his hand down while pulling the trigger.
The spray of bullets blew away three of the five to his left.
He swung his arm down diagonally and ducked as if letting his hand pull the rest of him down.
The bullets fired by the two surviving soldiers whizzed by over his head.
The deadly force flew along straight lines that all pierced his shadow.
Once he was down on the ground, he reached for the shotgun he had abandoned in the air earlier. His left hand snagged it just before it hit the ground and he swung it around. That action cocked it for him.
And he fired.
One of the soldiers spraying machinegun fire was blasted back while leaning backwards like he had taken an uppercut.
But Berger did not even bother seeing what happened to the man as he rolled to the right along the ground. The final remaining soldier’s bullets slammed into the spot he had just vacated.
The din of gunfire seemed to pursue him as he stood up and ran.
He poured in his full strength from the very first step. He tossed the shotgun behind him in that speed.
The tumbling shotgun knocked aside the last soldier like a strike from a club while Berger ran toward the armored truck and readied Gelegenheit in his right hand.
“So what about you, armored truck? Are you gonna fight or not?”
The machinegun attached to the top of the truck aimed at him before he was even done asking.
He simply smiled in response. He ran in with Gelegenheit in hand.
Hazel and Bermark walked down a hallway in the airbase’s officer barracks.
The König Pseudo-Drach aircraft was ready to take her from the airbase, so they had to hurry through the adjacent general barracks to reach the hangar beyond.
The only thing visible outside the 1st floor hallway windows was the group of storage buildings to the north. Transport trucks were coming and going in a hurry to carry materiel from them.
Hazel tensed her shoulders at the explosions and gunfire she heard coming from the airport in the distance.
Meanwhile, they passed by two heavily-equipped soldiers with bandoliers over their shoulders.
They exchanged information on their posts and unit names in an abbreviated and jargony way that she could not make heads or tails of.
She suddenly looked to the right, but Bermark remained silent with a somewhat indignant look as he walked alongside her.
She started to say something and then paused to choose her words.
She wanted to find something to fill the silence while an explosion sounded in the distance.
“They are not up against your average opponent.”
Bermark responded calmly while some soldiers wielding spears that were probably Werkzeugs approached from up ahead. The armbands on their right arms bore red crosses, marking them as medics that instantly healed people with Tuning.
Hazel watched them as they rushed past.
Their six pairs of military boots produced heavy footsteps. They were all wordlessly focused on the path ahead of them.
Another explosion sounded from the distance and one of the six clicked their tongue. The man in the lead turned back toward the other five and confirmed that each of them knew their respective destinations.
After coming to a stop and watching them leave, Hazel frowned and asked Bermark a question.
“For what and for who does your Geheimnis Agency exist?”
“We were created to save this country.”
With that, Bermark removed the glove covering his right hand to reveal a ceramic hand that used wire cylinders to move.
He moved fingers that appeared to be made from no more than a framework and asked a question with a smile.
“Fräulein, what if I told you my entire body was made like this?”
She was unsure how to respond.
But she hesitantly reached out and touched his body.
It was hard.
She felt nothing like flesh, only solid curves reminiscent of armor.
“Is that what the Titel that Berger mentioned meant?”
“My name is Bermark Vier. The Vier means I am the fourth in my model line.” He put his glove back on. “I am a male Airam-style Sein Frau created in the Flanders region as a model and example for all Germans. That makes me the one and only type of Heidengeist allowed to exist in Germany at the moment.”
Hazel removed her hand from the old man and waited for him to say more.
He soon gave her what she wanted.
“It is said all Sein Fraus are destined to seek out a heart, but right now Germany needs the power to survive in this City World more than it needs a heart. We need the power to have our voice heard by the world. …You failed to become our Messiah, but the knowledge of our colleague that resides in your prosthetic eye is sure to aid our cause.”
Hazel said nothing, so Bermark pushed on her back to get them walking again.
But just then…
She felt a pain in her right eye.
It was faint, like something small was pricking at the surface of the eye.
…This is a lot like last night, but…weaker?
Feeling uneasy, she placed a hand on her right cheek, which caused Bermark to look back.
“Is something wrong?”
“I think it’s just an ingrown eyelash. It’s kind of…”
Weird, she finished in her mind, but she forced a smile for him to see.
Her cheek remained a bit stiff due to the eye pain. And…
Something was wrong with her vision. For some reason, she saw something blue instead of Bermark. It was like she had a thin layer of blue cellophane over her eyes because she could see Bermark through it.
“What is this?”
The blue in her vision was growing stronger. At the same time, she could see something white floating within the blue. The flocculant whiteness spread out flatly into the distance.
…I swear I’ve seen this somewhere before.
But her memory of it was unclear. The blue space and the whiteness spreading through it felt off, like she was remembering something wrong, so she could not find a clear answer.
She held a hand out in front of her face, but even that was obscured by the blue shape.
The two colors extending infinitely in front of her gained a more distinct color and shape and she seemed to be accelerating forward within it. She seemed to be moving so quickly she could not keep any specific point in view, even though it only existed in her vision.
She saw a blue expanse spread out overhead and a fluffy white land beneath her. Her vision seemed to move as if sliding forward above that.
She could hear Bermark’s questioning voice, but it did not register in her mind.
She was hearing something else instead.
The sound was of course only in her imagination. Her ears were creating this imagined sound based on the visual information she was receiving and that phantom noise made the visual seem more real.
But the flowing white and endless blue expanse fit that imagined wind perfectly.
…I’m pretty sure my dad said the clouds look different when viewed from above than when viewed from the ground. Is that what I’m seeing below me now?
Her vision rotated as if to show her what that whiteness was.
Her vision made a roll to the right.
While her vision flipped around in that roll, it changed angle somewhat.
In response to her rightward roll, the white waves below her rose up from the bottom right and filled her vision. Then it was the blueness that rose up from the bottom right.
The sound of the wind was joined by the loud roar of impacting air.
Her vision suddenly filled with the blue.
But the blue was not absolute. There was a single white circle at its center.
That was the sun. Hazel muttered to herself after seeing that light.
“I’m above the clouds…but why?”
She received an answer immediately thereafter.
Her vision showed her everything.
The roar of the wind enveloped her. Or it seemed to.
Just as the sun appeared in the center of her vision, it dropped down.
The sun at the peak of the heavens seemed to flow further and further down because her vision was flying…
She stretched up without thinking. The upside-down cloudy horizon entered her vision from the top.
The white horizon gradually moved down her vision and she could only see clouds a few seconds later.
She was oriented straight down as if doing a handstand.
She could see the cloudy sea with a hint of blue where the sunlight shined on it.
Above that, she saw a series of small antlike dots.
…Are those aerial warships?
Judging distances was hard with nothing to compare them to.
She dug up all the air force knowledge she had picked up from her father. The shapes below that looked less than an inch long had to be the newly commissioned warships that made up the main force of the 7th Aerial Division.
Her vision suddenly moved straight ahead, in other words down and toward the ships below.
There was no hesitation in that movement.
She was charging toward them to attack, but attacking an entire air force division with a single craft was insanity.
With no answers and not even time to ask the questions, Hazel could only raise her voice.
However, her shout was tinged with hesitation.
At the same time, she felt a horizontal impact disconnected from what she was seeing. She felt it on her cheek, which did not exist in that world of pure vision.
Then the white clouds and the warships all vanished from view.
The vanished clouds were replaced by Schweitzer’s face.
He was crouched down and peering into her face and he breathed a sigh of relief when Hazel met his gaze.
“I apologize for the rough treatment.”
With that, he pulled back the left hand held up in front of her face and let it fall at his side. That gentle motion told her that his slap had fixed her vision.
She took a rough breath.
“I thought I was going to Flektieren. But what was-?”
She started to say something, but she gasped when she looked the man in the eye.
She saw her own face reflected upside-down in his blue eyes. Her right prosthetic eye had lost its blue color and was instead emitting a bright red light.
Schweitzer said nothing.
He shut his eyes and straightened up before silently picking her up in his right prosthetic arm.
She followed her instincts and struggled when that cold metal arm lifted her.
“H-hey, let go!!”
“Your legs look too weak to walk,” he said while removing her sandals and tossing them back to Bermark. “Hold onto those. We need to hurry. The Sylphide has appeared above here.”
“You don’t just get to decide I can’t walk!!”
Her shout put a bitter smile on Bermark’s face and Schweitzer picked up his walking pace.
The explosion she heard now was much less distant than the previous ones.
Berger ran alone, leaving the wreckage of the armored trucks behind him.
He could see two buildings about 300 yards away. The one on the right was the officer barracks and the one on the left was the general barracks. The airport control tower and the various storage facilities would be diagonally back and to the left of those, but he could not see them from here.
Two soldiers on motorcycles with airport security plates approached from the right while spraying bullets his way, but he ignored them. He looked to the two barracks buildings instead.
“There!!” he shouted while narrowing his eyes on his target.
Two figures were walking down the walkway connecting the two barracks buildings.
One was Bermark, the elderly soldier in a Geheimnis Agency black coat. And the other was…
Schweitzer heard the shout and turned his way.
As did Hazel who was held by the man’s right arm.
Berger sped up. The wind blew through his hair and turned his breaths visible.
He was about 200 yards away as Schweitzer shouted at him from the walkway.
“You made it this far!? I should have known, Dog Berger!!”
“Thanks to her! By which I mean Gelegenheit here!!”
“Are you still not ready to use your Text!? Your own Text that will activate Gelegenheit’s Ober Beweisen!?”
“You haven’t used Der Held’s Ober Beweisen either!!”
That retort put a smile on Schweitzer’s lips.
Schweitzer adjusted his grip on Hazel and began to run.
Berger ran too. He ran forward with a click of his tongue.
“This ain’t good. Are they gonna get away with her? I can’t let that happen.”
Just then a bullet whizzed past his nose. It came from the two motorcycles approaching from the right.
They were only about 10 yards away and approaching fast.
“That should come in handy,” he said before leaping to the right.
Thanks to their relative speeds, he instantly arrived above one motorcycle soldier’s head.
His foot swished through the air and then audibly collided with flesh, followed by a scream.
That left a driverless motorcycle continuing unsteadily forward without falling thanks to inertia. He landed, spun around, ran, and hopped onto the motorcycle.
He casually raised his hand toward the other soldier who made a rapid braking turn after losing his companion.
“I’ll return it later!!”
He squeezed the clutch and lowered the gear. He threw on full acceleration and the clutch suddenly engaged.
The front wheel hopped up and the motorcycle moved forward.
The tire screeched and he placed his upper body on the handlebars to force the front wheel down. Then he shifted up.
That added enough speed for the only wind to be coming from head on.
He twisted the accelerator further and the air ahead of him briefly felt like a solid wall, but that was shattered by his speed.
He tilted the motorcycle for a leftward lean to direct it toward the barracks entrance.
He made sure his forward movement never slowed as he charged into the barracks on the motorcycle.
The black-cloaked figure burst into the dim lighting past the large entrance.
The barracks seemed dark after being outside.
The wind was gone and the air-conditioner heat surrounded Berger and the motorcycle.
A long hallway stretched out in front of him. The outside windows were on his right and 150 yards of barracks room doors were on his left.
He could see two men at around the midpoint of the hallway. One was Schweitzer and the other was Schweitzer’s aide Bermark.
Berger pursued them.
He shifted into 3rd gear and slammed on the accelerator. The rear tire slipped a bit on the hallway’s wooden flooring, but a moment later, the rubber fully dug into that wood.
The speedometer needle shot up as he prioritized forward movement above all else.
He moved fast.
The 350cc BMW engine provided him with 50 mph in an instant. That was around 24 yards per second, so he would catch up to those two in 4 seconds.
A wind whipped up around Berger.
That wind rattled the windows to the right as if that noise was chasing the fleeing figures as well.
The wave-like noise continued without end.
Berger wordlessly pushed his sunglasses back up and then grabbed the handlebars with both hands.
In that instant, he heard a sound from behind him. It was the refreshing sound of shattering glass.
It sounded a lot like a clear spray and it was joined by many more identical sounds. All the windows he passed by were noisily destroyed one after another. The continual destruction sounded like shattering ice.
More than just the winter air came in where those transparent panels had been
Bullets did as well.
Machinegun caliber bullets were fired toward Berger from outside.
The bullets shattered what glass was remaining and continued on to punch into the wall on the other side or destroy the barracks room doors.
All that noise pursued the roar of the speeding motorcycle’s engine.
Berger did not even look back.
He only needed to see the 5 armored trucks aiming their guns his way from the road alongside the large storage buildings to his right.
“What kinda childish game is this!?” he shouted as he looked out ahead.
He was now only about 20 yards away from Schweitzer and Bermark, but those two were approaching the building’s western exit. The rectangle of sunlight shined bright at the end of the dimly-lit hallway.
If they made it to that light, they were outside.
And they were almost there.
“Is this all the Geheimnis Agency can do!? Turn tail and run!?”
As soon as the words were out of Berger’s mouth, a giant armored truck slid into the sunlight at the western exit to seal up that opening.
And its gun was already aimed at Berger.
He saw Bermark press his back against the wall while Schweitzer jumped to the right onto the stairway up to the second floor. The armored truck’s machinegun opened fire at the same moment.
Berger frantically tilted the handlebars to the right and locked the rear wheel’s brake. He diagonally lowered the motorcycle’s height and began a powerful inertial drift.
The floor tore at the tires and the leaning motorcycle’s exhaust pipe let out a scream by the floor, but the machinegun fire passed by overhead.
In no time at all, he slipped past Bermark and onto the stairway landing.
He looked to the stairs and did not see Schweitzer. The man must have continued on up.
The armored truck was blocking the barracks entrance and its machinegun aimed down to compensate for Berger’s lower position.
“Outta the way.”
He tossed a grenade underneath it.
Without seeing it through to the end, he released the rear wheel lock and twisted the accelerator.
The tires slipped a bit, but then they caught at the floor and he was jerked forward.
He accelerated ever forward, which meant up the stairs now.
He lifted the front wheel while approaching the stairs. He shifted down two gears but kept the accelerator on full.
He lifted his hips and prepared for impact as the front and back wheels caught the edges of the stairs.
The motorcycle more hopped up the stairs than climbed them.
Without a break, he arrived at the midway landing between the 1st and 2nd floors where the stairs turned 180 degrees.
He twisted the accelerator further as if pushing the tire into the joint between wall and floor and then used the inertia of climbing the stairs to push the motorcycle forward, like it was crawling along the bottom of the wall.
He let the back wheel slip while he tilted the motorcycle to the right. He moved the front wheel toward the next flight of stairs and kicked his right foot against the floor as soon as it was oriented right.
The motorcycle tried to straighten itself out, but Berger did not wait for it to finish.
The motorcycle was still tilted diagonally as he climbed the stairs in a lean out pose.
He did all this in a short period of time that could not even be measured in seconds.
The motorcycle bounced up onto the 2nd story landing.
The hallway cut by perpendicularly in front of him. It led to an emergency exit on the right, but that did not appear to have been opened. The hallway continued for a ways to the left, but the corner wall got in the way and he could not see its full length from the landing.
But he did glimpse something gold out of the corner of his eye.
It was Hazel’s hair.
It vanished into the part of the hallway he could not see from the landing.
His only response was to smile.
He squeezed the accelerator to move forward.
The motorcycle took off, the roar of its engine rumbled through the stairway behind him, and he entered the long hallway.
Now the windows were to his left and the barracks room doors to his right. He was now moving east, the opposite of when he had first entered the building.
He looked out ahead and saw Schweitzer about 50 yards dead ahead.
The man was running. Quickly.
“But I’m faster!!”
With that, the motorcycle shot forward with a roar of its engine.
Berger quickly closed in Schweitzer.
The roar of the engine had risen to the high whine of a wind instrument. The acoustics of the hallway allowed it to sound loud, long, and powerfully.
The distance between them shrank as the engine’s music sounded.
Schweitzer took a sudden action while running.
He raised his prosthetic right arm and threw Hazel forward.
Berger could see her face over Schweitzer’s shoulder. Her eyes and mouth were opened wide as she tried to shout something.
At the same time, Schweitzer calmly adjusted his running position.
He crouched down and swung his arms while running forward.
His boots thundered unusually loud over the engine’s roar.
He seemed to be pounding footprints into the floor and those steps increased his forward momentum.
He pulled a bit away from Berger.
“Damn you dragoon descendants!!” shouted Berger as Schweitzer slipped below airborne Hazel and actually overtook her.
Then he jumped a bit and twisted his body to the right.
His black coat flapped as it followed his rightward rotation and he ended up facing Berger.
At the same time, he ducked down and landed facing back while holding his prosthetic right arm out toward Berger. The staff launcher was aimed at the ceiling above Berger’s head.
Once it was aimed, the staff was launched.
With a loud noise, ether light shot from the staff and the striking portion at the end of the staff slammed into the air.
A square pattern of bluish-white light appeared on the ceiling over Berger’s head.
<Heaven aids the Hero.>
That portion of the ceiling was cut free and it dropped down.
<Heaven’s wrath knows no mercy.>
He fired the launcher again and again. Over and over and over again, empty cartridges were expelled from his prosthetic arm and it stopped at 11 times in quick succession.
He finished just before Hazel’s parabolic arc dropped her right on top of his outstretched right arm.
Just as he pulled her in to carry her again, the 11 empty cartridges clattered against the floor and the ceiling collapsed. The final Text of his Erklärung was stated.
<Heaven will save the Hero as many times as necessary.>
Space was torn apart with the slight time lag of his rapid-fire attack, so the ceiling fell down with a wave-like movement. More and more of the ceiling fell near Berger.
The 3rd floor hallway was visible through the first bit of ceiling that fell.
But Berger ignored the great pressure of the falling ceiling. He kept his eyes dead ahead.
Schweitzer had landed while facing toward Berger.
His inertia remained, so he was sliding forcefully backwards while crouched low. Frictional smoke rose from the soles of his boots, but his stance remained intact. He was still facing backwards – in other words, facing Berger in defiance.
The only change to his expression was a slight wrinkling of his brow. He did not have a drop of sweat on him.
“Nice try, Schweitzer!!” shouted Berger.
He let go of the handlebars with both hands, grabbed Gelegenheit, and raised it vertically.
He pulled Phlogiston Tanks from his black coat and attached them to the back of the weapon.
The first caused a 2-yard dark blade to burst out.
The second extended the dark blade to 4 yards where it severed the ceiling’s “destiny to fall”.
The shadowy blade sliced right through the ether fields decorating the falling ceiling, returning the ceiling to its original form.
He was about 20 yards from Schweitzer now.
He raised Gelegenheit and swung it down.
<Not even heaven can escape the threads of Destiny!!>
A lightning-like slash tore through the ceiling in a straight line, repairing it.
The mesh of bluish-white squares covering the ceiling were sliced through by the darkness and the falling ceiling instantly returned to its original position.
It had severed the thread of “destiny” created by Der Held to tell that area of space to collapse.
The attack ran along a straight line. That all-severing blade never changed course as it repaired the ceiling. The black line ended at Schweitzer’s biological left arm.
Schweitzer took new action within the roar of the engine and the slicing of the dark blade.
He looked up at the hole in the ceiling, shifted Hazel to his left arm, and thrust his prosthetic right arm forward. A moment later, he opened his mouth to speak.
“Der Held, Erklärung, Ober Beweisen.”
“What!? You’re using your Ober Beweisen here!?”
Berger’s voice was drowned out by Der Held emitting far more ether than before. An intonated cry and the shining light rewrote the meaning of that space.
Instead of the changeable and adaptable Beweisen, this Text was the fixed but powerful Ober Beweisen.
<Stars spread across the light-scattered sky
Excellence is determined in the sky above
- Do not compare your height to others
- All power is lost before them
- The heights are for the soaring dragon
- The depths are the foundation of the earth>
That was the true and unchangeable Text of Schweitzer’s Tons.
That limited and honed Text was launched along with the staff, striking the space around Berger.
The darkness emerging from Berger’s Gelegenheit was immediately returned to light before it scattered and vanished.
The roar of the motorcycle’s engine also vanished.
The Phlogiston – a fuel made from ether – suddenly cut out.
With all the machines stopped, Schweitzer threw Hazel forward and up with his left arm.
The thrown girl let out an incomprehensible scream as she soared above the falling ceiling.
She passed through the hole in the ceiling and onto the 3rd floor.
“Dammit!!” cursed Berger, but it was too late.
He squeezed the clutch to keep the motorcycle from toppling, but he had passed below the hole by then.
Hazel was on the 3rd floor.
Schweitzer took off running a moment later.
The young man in black asked a question as the motorcycle and soldier passed each other by.
“Do you really want Hazel this badly!?”
“Her Messiah implant’s power must not be allowed to fall into another country’s hands.”
“That’s not what this is about and you know it! You just don’t want to lose the same will we lost 2 years ago!!”
Berger held the handlebars tight, stepped on the rear wheel brake, and locked that wheel.
The motorcycle’s rear end swung around wildly and it slid about 40 yards before stopping.
He kick-started the motorcycle, changed gear, and performed an accelerating turn.
The engine roared as it turned around 180 degrees.
He could see Schweitzer running toward the stairway landing at the end of the hallway.
He also heard the man’s voice.
“Are you going to pursue me to the top, Dog Berger!?”
Berger was already moving before the question was complete.
He removed the Phlogiston Tanks from the back of Gelegenheit now that it had lost its darkness and he inserted some new ones.
These ones were twice as long as the ones he had used before.
“AA size? No, I’ll go straight to C!!”
He instantly attached 10 of them with perfect precision.
He raised Gelegenheit overhead with his right hand and simply placed his left hand on the hilt.
He let out a breath and followed that slowly-falling breath with the activation of the dark blade that seemed to burst from Gelegenheit.
Its darkness did not even try to stop the extension of its destructive power.
The blade grew to more than 30 yards long. It pierced through the ceiling diagonally back from him and continued to grow.
Through his sunglasses, he saw the base of the darkness grow a bit thicker.
“Pursue you to the top? Is that any way to treat a guest?”
His expression was hard and his eyes were focused on the darkness extending overhead.
But that did not last long. First, his mouth moved.
<Destiny comes to you itself!>
He swung Gelegenheit around while still straddling the idling motorcycle. He had raised the weapon as if to swing it diagonally down, but he reversed his wrist to swing it around behind him instead.
“Come to me, Hazel!!”
The darkness left an afterimage as it wrapped around and produced the sound of blowing wind.
Gelegenheit accurately rotated all the way around and stopped on the ceiling diagonally behind him.
He had severed the barracks’ destiny along a straight diagonal line.
The darkness vanished.
A moment later, a diagonal crack appeared from the hallway’s ceiling to its floor.
The crack connected back to itself in a circle and it did not stop there.
With a low, dull rumbling, the scene before him bent. No, it shifted.
The part of the hallway beyond the crack fell forward and down.
The collapse picked up speed.
The 2nd story’s ceiling fell away in front of him and the 3rd story’s floor dropped down.
The windows of the fallen 2nd story hallway were shattered by the pressure from above.
The sound of dozens of windows shattering at once sounded a lot like the roar of a waterfall.
The 3rd story hallway dropped down toward the same height as Berger’s 2nd story hallway.
Berger saw Hazel at the center of the dropping 3rd story hallway. Nothing looked out of the ordinary except for the red glow of her right eye.
She was fine.
He sighed and narrowed his eyes.
She was about 50 yards away.
Beyond her, Schweitzer had just arrived on the 3rd floor, putting him at about the same distance from her.
With the loud sound of shattering stone from below, the falling 3rd story hallway shook and then came to a stop at only about 2 inches off from the height of Berger’s hallway. Theirs was the higher one and his the lower.
Hazel stood in place and looked to him with her hands lightly clasped in front of her chest.
He accepted her gaze and spoke to her.
“Come to me, Hazel.”
Hazel started to say something when she heard him call her name. Her eyebrows lowered and her mouth opened.
But she shut her eyes instead. She could tell her breathing was heavy.
Unlike the night before, she was not just being asked to run away. She was caught in the middle of a real battle.
A force trying to keep her in this country and a force trying to take her from this country were clashing.
…But I still…
Berger spoke, as if to say he understood what she was thinking.
“Hazel, you still don’t know what you should do, right?”
She reflexively tried to say something in response, but the words would not come.
He was right. She could not find the thoughts necessary to make a decision.
So she hung her head, lowered her gaze, and expressed herself with a simple action.
…I don’t know.
That she did know.
She moved just her eyes to look up at Berger and found him looking back at her.
“Last night, you said you wanted to stay in Germany,” he said. “That is certainly an option thanks to that eye of yours. It looks like the Geheimnis Agency will make you quite comfortable here. …But is that really what you want, Hazel Mirildorf? You know what that means, don’t you? Do you want to stay here so badly that you’re willing to let them shelter you?”
She responded to that quietly and almost on reflex.
“Then…what are you suggesting?”
“That we leave here, Hazel. Leave the country. Once we’ve done that, you can take all the time you need to figure out what it means to not run away.”
Schweitzer immediately shouted over from behind her.
“Quite the silver tongue, Berger.”
She turned back toward him.
The large man from the Geheimnis Agency was calmly walking over to her. The thump thump of his boots matched the pulse of her heartbeat.
And Berger’s voice from behind her drowned out those footsteps.
“Give it up, Schweitzer. You understand what’s going on here, don’t you?”
“What might that be?”
“The Eingeweide eye named Messiah was created from Marsch’s eye, but why was it implanted in her and not one of you? That wasn’t your decision, was it? You wouldn’t be making such a fuss over it if it was.” He smiled bitterly. “The Messiah was implanted into her in Berlin’s general hospital, right? I bet it was done in secret by some doctors who received it from Marsch.”
“So what if it was?”
“Don’t play dumb, Schweitzer. You know full well why Marsch would have felt the need to keep that hidden.”
Schweitzer continued forward in silence and Berger’s quiet laughter echoed down the hallway.
…Is he laughing at himself?
For some reason, Hazel heard an emotion other than anger or joy in that laughter.
And Berger spoke to the approaching man in the exact same tone of voice.
“Schweitzer, Marsch gave up on your Geheimnis Agency. He knew his knowledge would be used for war. With Germany the way it is, he knew it wouldn’t be used to develop the country. So,” he continued. “Ironically enough, he told the doctors to implant the Messiah in a Heidengeist. A Heidengeist can never join the German army or the Geheimnis Agency and they’re more compatible with prosthetics to boot. …Quite the ironic betrayal. Marsch wanted the Messiah to leave the country.”
Schweitzer responded with a very simple thought.
“Do not view everything from a single point of view, simpleton,” he spat out while coming to a stop.
He was only 5 steps away from Hazel and he continued speaking from there.
“Most of what you say is admittedly true, but you have said nothing of justice.”
“Then enlighten me. What is your idea of justice here?”
Schweitzer responded to Berger’s question by looking to Hazel for the first time.
She read the question in his eyes: do you want to know that as well?
She hesitated for a moment between the two of them, but she finally looked Schweitzer in the eye.
“Please tell me.”
“Very well.” He pointed his biological left hand toward her. “Two weeks ago, M. Schrier contacted one of the doctors left with the Messiah and thought up a way to acquire it: implant it in a patient and have them leave the country.”
“So he could later contact that patient and swap it out for another prosthetic eye?”
“Correct, Berger. And chance would have it, a former officer’s daughter – and a half-Heidengeist at that – had taken a turn for the worse after being blinded at a Heidenheim. M. Schrier made arrangements behind the scenes, so-”
Before he could finish, Hazel shouted her speculation from between the two men.
“The girl was given a prosthetic eye even though Heidenheim residents would normally never receive that kind of treatment!?”
“Yes, that is the truth of the matter.” Schweitzer took a breath. “Do you see now? Whether or not you are the Messiah, everyone inside and outside this country are after your Messiah eye so they can use it for their own ends. You have no escape. This is your destiny.”
The meaning carried by that final word briefly blanked her mind, but…
She punched her hand against the wall behind her and used the light sound and pain to help her look back.
He was seated on the motorcycle and looking at her with no readable expression.
She spoke to the blue eyes visible past his sunglasses.
“That means it’s all the same whether I run away or not, doesn’t it? I can’t become the Messiah and all I have is this prosthetic eye bearing that name.”
Her eyebrows drooped, but Berger tilted his head and questioned what she had just said.
“Hey, don’t you two leave me out of this. …You can’t become the Messiah? Says who?”
“Says the 9th Section of the Ruling King, Berger.”
The one-armed youth holds the Messiah
The moonlit pair returns to the earth
The dragons gather and dance tonight
Every last thing returns home
Schweitzer recited the verse in question.
“The letter sent to you was in fact a prophecy spread throughout the Geheimnis Agency three months ago.”
“What? The 9th Section of the Ruling King is a prophecy?”
“That is correct,” said Schweitzer. “Our leader told us the Messiah is sure to arrive and save Germany when that prophecy is fulfilled.”
“But I’m not that. I’m just an eye socket to carry the prosthetic eye around,” muttered Hazel while letting her head droop.
But then she heard Berger speak with a sigh.
“Cut the childish narcissism, Hazel. It’s boring.”
She froze and looked up while he placed his hand on the accelerator.
“The Messiah? Just an eye socket? Who cares? Only one thing matters here, Hazel. You said it yourself: you don’t want to run away.”
“But…but that doesn’t matter anymore! If it’s the same no matter where I run, what does it matter what choice I make now!?”
“Find an answer for yourself, Hazel. That answer will be your true destiny.”
With that, he engaged the clutch.
The motorcycle shot toward her while the engine roared.
By then, she had also noticed Schweitzer running toward her from behind.
The two men raced toward the girl between them.
The distance shrank over time based on units of speed and their paths were trailed by sound and wind.
Berger squeezed the accelerator with his left hand and went full throttle. He kept his acceleration going and spread out his empty right arm to snatch up Hazel.
He approached the scared-looking girl.
Schweitzer was approaching beyond her, but Berger still continued forward.
His right arm wrapped around Hazel.
He pulled her in with a motion that could only be described as forceful and he grabbed the handlebar again.
Schweitzer was out ahead of him, so he pulled on the handlebars to lift the front wheel.
“Are cheap arguments all you soldiers have!?” he shouted while the front wheel slammed into Schweitzer.
The audible impact caused Schweitzer to slide backwards.
But he did not fall. He slid, but he lowered his hips to stay standing.
“Not good enough, Berger.”
“Same to you,” said Berger while pulling on the handlebars again.
The motorcycle stood up almost vertically and the belly of the frame crashed into Schweitzer. Berger shifted down a gear at the same time. That increased the torque, so the motorcycle pushed forward.
Schweitzer was lifted from the ground and they really did shoot forward.
“Wait, no, let go of me!!”
Berger ignored Hazel’s protests and shifted up again.
The raised motorcycle sped forward while still caught on Schweitzer’s body.
Berger shifted up another gear.
The gear fit nicely into place and their speed jumped up.
A wind was born around them.
The exhaust pipe on the bottom of the frame was pressed against Schweitzer and smoke rose from where the pipe contacted his coat. The engine’s heat was passing through the pipe to burn his coat.
Berger twisted the accelerator.
But Schweitzer ignored the heated smoke and readied his right arm.
He raised that powerful metal arm.
“Still not good enough, Berger.”
“And still the same to you. Take a look out front, dumbass.”
Schweitzer looked over his shoulder in the direction they were traveling.
Berger ducked low and supported Hazel while looking out ahead.
The emergency exit was right there.
A moment later, the motorcycle and the three of them crashed into the emergency door.
Just as Hazel saw the sky, she was hit by an impact.
Something hard as a wall slammed into her shoulders, back, and hips.
It hurt. It hurt worse than anything she had experienced in her everyday life. Unlike when she had been hit, this pain crashed into her with no warning whatsoever.
The impact seemed to circle around her body to hit every last part of her.
…Am I rolling along something?
Once she realized what this was, she could react appropriately.
She used her feline balance to twist her body faster than she was rolling and to swing her hips around. She moved her spread legs to horizontally distribute her sideways kinetic vector.
She tensed her arms and legs to finally stop her roll. She saw a gray sheet iron roof in front of her.
She suppressed the nausea brought on by the rolling and worked to remember what had happened.
…We drove through the emergency exit, right?
A certain object in her vision answered that question for her.
She looked up to see something falling right in front of her.
A giant slab of metal crashed down like a guillotine blade. It was the emergency exit door and it easily stabbed down into the roof mere inches away from her.
Her pulse quickened at the deafening sound and the shaking of the metal door filling her vision. She was a Werecat, so she would Flektieren into a cat when her pulse raced and her body sensed danger.
…I need to avoid a Flektieren here.
With that rational thought, she tried to calm herself. To do so, she opened her mouth and gathered her thoughts.
“Th-this is the roof of the hangar next to the barracks, isn’t it? The one surrounded by soldiers.”
She caught her breath and stood up. After stepping out from behind the door, she found herself only a few steps away from the edge of the roof.
She looked up.
The barracks they had just left were about 40 yards away.
About half of the building had been sliced through diagonally and the upper half had slid and crumbled toward this side of things. That was the result of Berger’s attack.
And just as she sighed…
“Hi, you doing okay, Hazel?”
That question came from behind and a bit below her.
She looked back on reflex and saw about 30 yards until the other end of the roof. Down below, she could see a road wide enough for something as large as an aircraft to navigate.
A storage building about the same size as this one existed across that road.
Berger was looking up at her from in front of its wall. He was about 8 yards lower than her.
He looked unharmed except for the blood that was still flowing from his right hand.
The motorcycle was partially embedded in the wall behind him about 5 yards above his head.
“I’m glad no one was hurt in the crash. I wouldn’t want to get my license revoked.”
“Um…so I take it you’re doing fine then.”
Relieved, she walked forward while keeping her eyes on him.
The sheet iron roof felt surprisingly pleasant below her bare feet.
More of the wide road below came into view with each step.
Soldiers were gathered on it.
The soldiers were so numerous they hid the pavement and they were surrounding Berger from a distance.
He literally had his back to the wall.
The windows on that wall showed heavily-armed soldiers waiting inside the storage building as well.
They were not going to let him escape no matter what.
All of the soldiers had their weapons drawn and aimed at him.
None of them said a word, so the rustling of her clothing and her own footsteps rang loud in Hazel’s ears.
Even her hair tangling together as it fluttered in the wind behind her sounded like waves to her.
It was quiet. She was the only one moving here.
Even Berger remained motionless as he simply looked up at her.
But one person spoke in a deep voice instead of moving.
“This ends here.”
The words came from Schweitzer who had taken a step forward from the surrounding soldiers to stand in front of Berger. His black coat and giant prosthetic arm were impossible to miss once he moved to the front of the crowd.
Hazel gulped while viewing the enormous man from above and behind.
He held a handgun in his left hand and it was aimed at Berger.
“Um, p-please wait!”
He was not going to wait. He asked a question with the gun still aimed at Berger.
“So we finally have some closure after two years.”
“You’re wrong there, Schweitzer. You didn’t do anything two years ago. No, you couldn’t do anything. You couldn’t stop me and Alfred, you couldn’t stop her, and…”
“You couldn’t stop Marsch now. So are you going to imprison Hazel just because you never want to lose anything again? Hazel, who carries the same will as Eryngium.”
Hazel realized Berger was looking her way.
She looked to him and he asked a question to no one in particular.
“The Marsch we knew is dead, isn’t he?”
He was answered with silence.
After a few seconds that felt both too long and too short, Schweitzer answered.
“That is correct.”
Berger did not nod as he continued speaking.
“Marsch and I did a lot of research with that upperclassman in university, but once that upperclassman joined the military, our research hit a dead end and then the Armored Hammer of God Incident happened two years ago. But Marsch completed it since then, didn’t he? He completed the new kind of engine that runs on the same principle as the Kaiserburg,” said Berger. “Marsch made plenty of other inventions too. Such as the Eingeweide Ausbildung and how to use a Panzer’s Schreiben system in other machines.”
Schweitzer adjusted his handgun’s aim in response.
The gun made a metallic sound, but Berger shouted at him all the same.
“It’s coming, Schweitzer! When Marsch’s eye turned red last night, that blue craft showed up. And the same is happening now. The eye and the craft call to each other!”
His shout was followed by a certain sound.
It was a loud, low, and muffled sound. The long and vast rumble came from the sky above.
Hazel looked up while placing a hand on her red right eye in response to what Berger said.
She saw clouds there. At some point, the clouds had spread out to thickly cover up around half the blue sky. The sharp rifts in the clouds signified valleys of atmospheric pressure.
When the rumbling came from the sky again, she realized what it was: an explosion.
“It can’t be!”
Her question was first answered by the wind gusting down on her like a physical blow.
She could hear the metallic clattering of guns and the uncertain muttering of soldiers from the road below.
But all that was drowned out by another rumble from the sky.
The loudspeakers installed around the airbase began to play an alarm as if to fight back against that sound.
It was the fourth alarm.
“Evacuate the premises immediately!?”
The sound of the alarm was distorted by the blowing wind that slammed into her back as she stood there. Her footing felt unsteady, so she leaned against the metal door stabbed into the roof nearby.
Then she saw Berger still staring up at her amid the chaos of wind and noise.
He had a smile on his lips and he raised both hands and waved like a symphony conductor.
Then the sky gave a roar.
The clouds bent and swelled out.
They spread wide like a blossoming flower too large to reach her arms around.
The blue sky and the sun were visible through that giant hole in the clouds.
And at the center of the hole, a giant boxy shape was silhouetted by the sun behind it.
“An aerial warship.”
When she had hallucinated the blue sky in the barracks earlier, she had seen just such a warship looking antlike as it flew above the clouds. The warship built for high-altitude maneuvering dropped down with its distinctive protruding sides that allowed for the air intake needed for the fuel.
It was spewing flames. The warship could only really be called a 300-yard hunk of metal as it dropped upside-down from the sky.
Multiple explosions erupted from its side, it shuddered, and fires erupted from the top and bottom halfway along its length.
While pulled down by gravity, that impressive mass pushed down the air, creating a complex series of deep sounds.
The only thing capable of rivalling those rumbling noises were the high-pitched emotional wails of the alarms.
Hazel could only sense the wind and the sounds crashing into her.
The warship was dropping straight down from above.
Its shadow fell on the airport, robbing everything of light. Hazel cowered down in its shadow, but she did not shut her eyes. Which is why she saw what happened next.
With an especially loud roar, the long aerial warship was split down the middle.
Flames and smoke erupted from the break, staining the sky black and red.
But that attack altered the trajectory of its fall. The two pieces of the warship continued to explode while falling to the north end of the airport where Berger had arrived.
It all happened in an instant.
The noise of metal and explosions reached its peak and you could hardly even call it noise anymore.
It could only be described as destruction.
First, the front half of the warship crashed as if stabbing itself into the ground. Before the giant wreckage could break and fall apart, the other half crashed into it. Two 150-yard hunks of metal shattered like a squashed cake and scattered shrapnel everywhere.
At the same time, both halves ruptured together, like they could no longer stand up to even the small explosions.
The fire looked small, with only something like an orb of flame appearing, but a white shockwave spread out horizontally from there.
The whirlwind of destruction spread out like a ripple, destroying the pavement, pushing the wind out of the way, and tearing away even the concrete of the buildings as it went.
The dancing shockwave drowned out all sound while the wind and heat it carried produced a frenzy of destruction.
Hazel hid behind the metal door stabbed into the roof and curled up.
But it was not enough. A piece of the warship wreckage was thrown her way by the explosion.
The yard-long piece of lightweight composite armor had a float emblem engraved into its surface and it penetrated both barracks like they were made of paper before it grazed the metal door.
She started to scream, but stopped.
The wreckage was moving at the speed of sound as it slammed into the metal door like a blast of wind.
The door was torn from the roof and Hazel was blown away with it.
She was launched into the air.
There was nothing below her feet and she could only see the clouds. She felt terribly uneasy.
She could not see the blue sky. Or she shouldn’t have been able to.
But as her heart raced and her mind grew abnormally focused, she saw a faint color in the center of the white clouds.
She saw blue and that color grew larger and larger.
…Were the clouds split apart again?
No, her mind told her.
She recognized this. She had seen this same craft in front of the moon just before she Flektierened the night before.
Bermark had told her the name of that blade-like blue craft.
It rushed straight toward her like the wind.
It soared, dropped, and accelerated all at once to circle below her in mere moments.
Something like a wall reached her back before she could even feel surprised.
She could see a blue surface below her. It was as hard as metal and painted blue.
It was the Sylphide’s back.
The Sylphide tilted against the wind as if to protect her from the shockwave.
“Um, wh-what is happening here?”
She looked around to see hangar walls on either side of her. The Sylphide had definitely circled below her and caught her as she fell.
She was surprised to realize it had acted with clear intent like that.
She realized her heart was racing.
…O-oh, no. It’s happening.
The Flektieren had already begun.
She ducked down just as a wind whipped up around her and steam burst from her.
The sound of her transformation was drowned out by the rumbling around her and by the alarms.
All that remained was a gold-furred kitten and her clothing which was nearly blown away by the wind.
The Sylphide slowly moved forward with that tiny passenger onboard.
A change came over it. A portion of the craft had begun to transform.
Bluish-white ether light ran through the blue armor forming the roof of the cockpit. The light created lines and planes that pulsated while forming the emblem drawn on the armor.
The Tons determining the armor’s shape were rewritten by the power of the emblem.
The craft would discover its weaknesses through combat and seek evolution when it understood what was necessary to achieve strength.
The inorganic machine’s transformation evolution took only a moment.
The armor rose up around cat Hazel like growing plants and partially came apart to form a mesh. The pieces of the mesh tangled together to form a thin dome over her head.
That dome spread out to cover the entire roof.
Before she could even react, the flat and angular roof armor had become curved and sloped. She had been taken in below the armor.
Schweitzer ordered the soldiers to withdraw while he looked up into the sky.
The Sylphide floated calmly in the air while even the sheet iron roof of the storage building was stripped away and made airborne.
It was an angular 30-yard craft. It had five emblem engines on the rear. Its fixed weapons were the two Kunst Eyes on the front and the three on the rear.
It was shaped subtly different from the night before. The angled portions had extended further out and the rear curve was smoother.
“A craft that launches into space with its final evolution, hm? So much like a Sein Frau.”
He started to raise Der Held toward the Sylphide, but that was when it started to ascend.
Its shape grew miniscule in no time and he heard a voice as he watched it go.
“I heard that. You say it’s gonna launch into space with its final evolution?”
It was Berger’s voice.
Schweitzer started to turn around until he felt something hard jabbed into his back.
It was the tip of Gelegenheit’s hilt.
Berger stood behind him and spoke within the remaining wind.
“Schweitzer, I want your help to save her.”
He took a breath.
“Don’t you move, old man! I hear you back there!”
Schweitzer heard a loud rustling of cloth from even further back than Berger. He turned just his head to see Bermark frozen with his hand in his coat to pull out Freischütz.
Berger gave a snort of laughter.
“Calm down, soldier. If that craft really is the same as the Kaiserburg, then its engines are made from spirit stones that fell from space, so it’ll instinctually want to return to space.”
“You mean the Sylphide will fly to space with the girl onboard?”
“Yes, and never come back. I can tell.”
“That craft was activated by incorporating Marsch’s Tons into its own using the Schreiben system we developed in university, but it lost control, right? The machine is already running on pure instinct! So it’ll continue fighting and evolving while it yearns for space. And just now, it took in the final component it lacked when it was activated: that eye.” Berger adjusted Gelegenheit’s aim and a quiet metallic sound came from its hilt. “We have to do it all over again! Including your prophecy. We need to secure her again. And this time, the girl carrying the Messiah is riding a flying dragon by the name of Sylphide, one-armed man!!”
“Are you suggesting she could still become the true Messiah?”
“Yeah, I am. But for that to happen, we have to save her and return her home! So help me out there, Schweitzer! To confirm the prophecy! To confirm her will!”
“So it is the same as the Unreif Germane.” Schweitzer nodded. “A thousand years ago, the Messiah, accompanied by a soaring dragon, was unsure if she should use her power to save the people or not.”
“Then don’t you want to find out the answer? And don’t you want to see which of us can guide her back home? A thousand years ago, the Messiah and a man with a divine name descended to the surface where she protected the land of the dragoons – the land that became the foundation for the Geheimnis Agency.” Berger took a breath and uttered a decisive statement. “The Messiah still doesn’t know what her purpose is in this world, so Destiny and the Hero can’t exactly abandon her now, can they?”
Chapter 6: The Wind Races
12/21/1937 13:02 – 15:13
I am caught in the current
I understand just one thing
Everyone but me here has some kind of power
That is all I know
Top: Knight Commander (Sofort Leser)
Middle: Lieutenant Commander (Commander-in-Chief)
Bottom: Fünf Leithammel (Army, Navy, Air Force, Development, Intelligence)
Officially known as the Greater Germanic Reich Guardian Dragoons. They are said to be descendants of the volunteer knights who were led by the Messiah in the 10th century. After the Messiah incident, they left the Black Forest in southern Germany and participated in a crusade to allow the polytheistic Sagas and Edda to coexist with monotheistic Christianity. After that, they moved to the northeastern German land of Prussia as the Germania Dragoons where they fought external enemies from the north and east.
When the Second Reich was established, they scattered across Germany and used their powers for national defense instead of invasion. However, they were kept separate from the military due to their unique fighting style and need for independent mobility and their very existence was kept secret to avoid provoking other countries any more than necessary.
Their role as unseen guardians continued after the World War and, having abandoned their position as nobles, they urged Wilhelm II to go into exile and they returned Germany to a Hanseatic-style popular sovereignty. Once they managed to regather in 1920, they became a top secret national defense agency.
The clouds spread out in the sky.
That white sea was illuminated by the sun.
Unlike the windswept bottom of the clouds, the top was formed from a series of round bumps and dips reminiscent of bubbles.
Those bubbles made from solidified water vapor were the only thing visible as far as the eye could see.
Just one thing stood out from that idle white ocean.
Something like a blue blade skimmed rapidly above the clouds.
It was the Sylphide.
The blue craft flew quickly without emitting flames or anything else. The atmospheric vibrations it produced tore away at the vast ocean below it, splitting the clouds apart like an opening book.
The only sound it produced was the loud impact of the craft tearing through the wind.
Pieces of clouds rose up and scattered behind it, much like the dust thrown into the air by a runner.
The Sylphide performed a roll while continuing straight ahead, as if to soak itself in that spray.
Then it made a sudden ascent.
Instead of flying straight up, it angled upwards just a bit to shift itself somewhat higher.
It distanced itself from the cloudy sea, so that sunny white ocean seemed to expand below it.
The ocean was blasted backwards below the Sylphide.
There was something within the clouds and it was accelerating at the same speed as the Sylphide.
A silhouette was briefly displayed on the clouds. It was a 200-yard ship with a rectangular twin-fuselage structure.
That shadow picture game ended in the blink of an eye as the clouds were further split apart and the ship itself emerged from below.
It was a German aerial attack ship. The twin-fuselage ship was painted a pitch black and fire burst from its spirit rockets which used an accelerant.
Unlike the Sylphide, it produced a loud rumbling from its rockets.
The rectangular extra tanks attached atop the twin fuselages were cut away with explosives.
The Sylphide attacked the incoming tanks with flame rounds from its Kunst Eyes instead of using Schwerts.
In just a few shots, tanks as large as the Sylphide itself had been reduced to flames.
The Sylphide broke through that fire to continue forward.
But the twin-fuselage ship had predicted that action. Even brighter light was shining from its rockets. Color was no longer enough to judge the intensity of the eruption – only the light and the shaking of the air could do that.
The clouds began to trail from the decorative wings attached to its sides like white threads.
It shot forward.
The Sylphide responded by performing a roll and accelerating forward like it had been kicked.
Both ships roared loudly.
The clouds were blasted backwards while they competed in the field of acceleration.
Nothing out here could stop them. They raced ever onward without narrowing or widening the gap between them.
The Kunst Eyes on the front of the twin-fuselage ship launched ether light into the air ahead of it.
A hemispherical barrier made of light-red light formed in front of it. The panel was phasically fixed out ahead of the ship as a shield to part the wind.
That Luftram formed a Mach cone out ahead of the ship’s bow.
It continued to accelerate after creating a space shielded from its own speed.
It had three Kunst Eyes on the rear of each fuselage for a total of six in all. All of those emitted glowing swords behind it like it was spreading wings.
At the same time, the four diffusion Kunst Eyes on the top of the fuselages and its single-shot Drache Kanones took aim at the Sylphide.
The Sylphide pursued it all the same. It evolved through combat, so it did not fear its foe.
They were less than 200 yards apart as it continued forward.
The twin-fuselage ship responded by firing its diffusion Kunst Eyes. Each individual shot was small, but each Eye instantly launched 8 shots fanned out over a span of 30 degrees.
With four Kunst Eyes total, it fired a total of 32 shots rapidly enough to fry the Eyes themselves. The destructive fans worked together to fully cover a three-dimensional space, creating an unavoidable barrage.
And in this world of speed, those shots brought death in an instant.
In the realm the Sylphide flew through, the span of a second had to be divided into even smaller units to have any meaning.
Just as Schwerts emerged from its two forward-facing Kunst Eyes, it performed a roll.
The surface created by the thin panels known as blades covered a wider area thanks to the rotational movement.
The Sylphide tore a hole in the barrage and slipped on through.
It shook a bit since its inertial control was insufficient to fully negate the impact of the shots against its glowing swords. That slowed it some and the other ship pulled ahead.
Just as the distance between them widened a bit, the barrage came to an end. The twin-fuselage ship’s diffusion Kunst Eyes had burned out. The base of those hemispherical Eyes opened up and the burned-out panels within were ejected.
A few seconds later, automated mechanisms closed back up the base of the Eyes and new emission orbs pushed out from within.
But the Sylphide did not overlook that opening.
It put away the power-draining Schwerts and accelerated so hard it seemed to pitch forward.
It was closing in.
At the same time, ether light gathered in the two single-shot Drache Kanones on top of the twin-fuselage ship.
The light released a glowing spray for a split second before being released.
The Drache Kanones were fired.
With a sound a lot like a roar, two beams of light shot toward the Sylphide.
The Sylphide immediately submerged itself partially within the clouds to escape.
The clouds were scattered as it continued forward.
But the Drache Kanones were not done exhaling quite yet. The two beams swung down toward the cloudy sea to pursue the Sylphide like giant glowing pillars.
The illuminated clouds were scattered by the glowing heat.
The attacks swung down from the upper left and right, but the Sylphide ascended before they could converge. Remnants of the clouds trailed from it as it entered within the triangle formed by the intersecting Drache Kanones and continued its upwards movement.
It fired at the same time: three flame rounds fired from its rear Eyes.
Those fiery bullets arced in from the left and right to hit the twin-fuselage ship on the sides, but they were easily avoided.
Six Schwerts sprouted from the rear of the ship and sliced through the flame rounds.
Red flames blossomed in the sky and vanished behind the two speeding ships.
All that remained was sound.
The Drache Kanones had finished firing.
The twin-fuselage ship’s diffusion Kunst Eyes once more took aim at the Sylphide.
And the twin-fuselage ship mercilessly resumed its powerful acceleration.
The giant warship parted the clouds below it and the Sylphide pursued.
That blue blade of a craft accelerated toward the new barrage flying its way.
The Sylphide never considered any option but continuing ever onward.
Berlin’s sky sat above Tempelhof Airbase which was burning in the flames of the crashed warship.
The uniquely long and flat shape of a pitch-black König Pseudo-Drach strategic reconnaissance craft kept its short-distance takeoff thrusters active as it flew in a large circle.
Two people sat in the two-seat cockpit.
Schweitzer sat in the front seat while wearing a flight suit for high-altitude mobility and Berger sat in the rear seat while still wearing his black coat.
Berger viewed Berlin below from the tilted craft’s cockpit.
He noticed the city was tinged faintly blue as he spoke to Schweitzer who held the stick in the front seat.
“You and Alfred went south two years ago, right? I heard you were promoted for hunting down a dragon. So was that part of the Heidengeist hunt?”
“I have no obligation to answer that.”
“Good grief. Is that dragon what required Alfred to wield that sword given to the Maldrick family by the emperor? …The emperor protected the Messiah, you know? Meaning he chose to protect a Heidengeist.”
“Times have changed. In the modern age, humanity can rule all through the power of steel.”
Just as Schweitzer finished speaking, the centrifugal force of their rotation increased.
They were speeding up.
“Tighten your belts, Berger. This craft has some inertial control, but it is far from perfect.”
A short silence followed, but then the communicator switched on and they heard Bermark’s voice coming from Tempelhof Airbase below.
“König Pseudo-Drach 000210, this is the District 1 Airbase. Signal received with a strength of 55. The reading is good.”
“This is König Pseudo-Drach. Same on this end. Encrypt the transmission and provide us with a report and a route.”
After a short pause, Bermark’s voice returned with some static mixed in.
“Continue in your circle until you reach 85 degrees from due north and then fly straight. The Sylphide is intermittently heading north while engaging with the cutting-edge Hs201 Doppelschneide sent in by the 2nd Aerial Fleet to assist the scout ships. The Doppelschneide is attempting to pull the Sylphide west toward Hamburg so it will not cross the border with Denmark.”
“That ship has excellent rear defenses, so it is well-suited for that role.”
“It is a battle between two cutting-edge ships. And the military has ordered the Sylphide destroyed, so the Doppelschneide cannot withdraw. The end result will likely be an unpleasant one. …I have used the name of our leader to gain permission for your König Pseudo-Drach to pass through the 1st and 2nd Aerial Fleets’ districts. Please hurry.”
“Have we received no further orders from our leader?”
“Only to secure the Sylphide…and to double-check the prophecy. It would seem the Fräulein is thinking the same thing we are: that the true Messiah might just be born here.”
“That possibility seems to please you, Bermark. Have you taken a liking to that girl?”
“Of course I have. …And, Lieutenant, the Fräulein’s orders say we may…shoot down the Sylphide if it is necessary to fulfill the prophecy.” Bermark took a breath. “Also, representatives of the military and the Geheimnis Agency have gathered at the general headquarters to make a decision. They hope to decide whether or not the Sylphide prototype truly is necessary for Germany.”
“Keep me updated on their decision. What is the military saying?”
“The air force intends to launch the V-0 ramming weapon they have developed jointly with the army. In order to destroy the Sylphide.”
“I will gather some troops and head there in Silber as quickly as I can.”
“Make sure you only use Geheimnis Agency members. The military’s people…might be involved with the V-0.”
With that, Schweitzer ended the König Pseudo-Drach’s circle and flew straight forward. The craft was no longer tilting and they slowly left the city below behind. The sound of the wind and the shaking of the craft could be heard now.
“Schweitzer, why did Marsch die?” asked Berger with his arms crossed. “Was it a military plot? Were they that upset the Geheimnis Agency had created a new version of the Kaiserburg that defeated them 2 years ago?”
When Schweitzer responded, it sounded like he had finally given up on ignoring the other man.
“Two months ago, the military rushed in and stole the Sylphide prototype from the 18th Airbase up north. They claimed other nations would see us as a threat due to the ship’s presence. They captured Marsch as well, saying they wanted him to dismantle the Sylphide and indefinitely lock away all of its components.” His voice was flat and monotone. “The military…imprisoned him in Berlin’s general hospital and tried to get at his knowledge about the Sylphide. So what they truly wanted was the Sylphide’s power.”
“So the thing about other nations was just an excuse, huh? Cause if the Geheimnis Agency built their own Kaiserburg, the military would never have any power over you again.”
“Was this because of the Panzerpolis Project?” he asked. “I think I get the connection. The Geheimnis Agency has started work on the Panzerpolis Project recently and it’s supposed to be made public with the announcement of the Greater Germanic Reich next April, but once that happens, the Geheimnis Agency will have power over both the government and the military, right? That’s why the military rushed to build their V-0…and stole the Sylphide.”
He smiled bitterly.
“Ideals aren’t enough for a largescale project to succeed. You need a symbol of power. And is that where the Messiah and the Sylphide come into play? If so, the Sylphide must be built as an Eingeweide too.”
“Yes, it is.”
“I see. Eingeweide devices are made to join people with machines. And unlike our weapons, it should work with a traditional Schreiben device as well. Is that what Marsch created in the Geheimnis Agency?”
Another bitter smile.
“If Eingeweide devices are the key to the Panzerpolis Project, then I think I have a pretty good idea what that project is.”
“Oh, and what is that?” asked Schweitzer.
Berger’s bitter smile grew.
He uncrossed his arms and recrossed them behind his head to look up into the sky as he answered.
“You plan to modify the entire country of Germany into a giant Eingeweide device, don’t you?”
“All German people carry Germany’s Tons. This land is a part of them, so if we modify Germany as a whole, all German people will be able to use Erklärung while in this land.”
“Our country has no powerful distinction of its own, so we must modify it if we are to stand up to the other cities. The Sylphide is the most powerful warship and it was created using Schreiben-style Eingeweide Ausbildung, so it acts as a symbol of what we must do. And we also require the true Messiah as someone to lead the people.”
“That’s just a pipe dream, was all Berger said.
Schweitzer said nothing in response and that silence might as well have been agreement.
So Berger raised his right leg and kicked the back of the seat in front of him while still looking up in the sky.
“Answer me. That Schreiben-style Eingeweide would mean everyone can use Erklärung just by Schreibening into a fighter or Panzer, no losing a body part required. …Does Germany want to go to war?”
“Ask me again once this is all over. After you have seen what happens in ’43, when the prophesied disaster strikes.”
“That’s a long wait.”
The König Pseudo-Drach began a slight ascent and accelerated further.
The city of Berlin vanished below them.
“We will climb to the altitude with the atmospheric density this craft prefers. It will be cold. Do you have a heating charm with you?”
“I do,” replied Berger. “So what happened to Marsch’s body?”
“The Sylphide’s Schreiben device used an external Studio. Do you get what I mean?” Schweitzer’s voice sounded a little downcast. “After creating the Messiah implant and leaving it with the doctors, he escaped but was badly injured in the process. Despite his injury, he managed to break into the 18th Airbase.”
“And he started up the Sylphide by Schreibening into its external Studio?”
“The Sylphide took off, but Marsch’s body remained in the external Studio it left behind.”
“He was lucky he wasn’t stuck inside the connection cable.”
Berger’s comment did not earn a response.
The König Pseudo-Drach shook.
It had ignited its accelerant, so its speed rose and the pressure bearing down on it increased.
The blue sky gradually flowed back behind them.
Hazel was shaken awake.
Her shoulders ached, her back ached, and her hips ached. She worked her woozy mind to figure out why.
…I hit them all while rolling along the roof.
That made sense to her.
She could still feel her body with her eyes closed, so she could tell she was lying on some kind of hard surface. She also felt some artificially-heated air across her entire body, which meant…
She was wrapped in some fairly hard cloth, but…
…Those are my removed clothes.
Her thoughts helped her mind come back into focus. And a single question arose as that happened.
“Where am I!?”
Driven by a desire to see, she opened her eyes and sat up.
The blue sky surrounded her.
It was such a beautiful blue.
But she was not seeing it through a window. She was seeing it directly from a point high in the sky.
Nothing obstructed her view of that azure expanse and the white clouds floating in it.
Confused, she held a hand in front of her face.
She could not see her hand. She quickly moved her head to look at her sitting body, but she could not see that either. She only saw the white clouds rushing by below.
Her vision was moving forward at a rapid clip.
The speed was incredible.
…This is what I saw on the base earlier.
Just as she thought that, her vision grew fixed in place. She could only see straight ahead no matter how she moved her eyes.
She shut her eyes out of instinctual fear of the speed.
But she could still see the sky. Her vision had entirely left her control.
“Am I seeing what someone else is seeing?”
Then she heard a noise.
It was the wind. It rang awfully loud and incessantly in her ears. It produced a deep and deafening rumble behind her.
That was the sound of something tearing through the wind.
She was knocked over by the speed and noise surrounding her.
Her back touched the floor. She was lying down now, but her vision remained the same.
She felt around the floor to gather up her clothing and crossed her arms over her stomach to hide her body from the sky. As a Werecat, lying on her back was a symbol of defenselessness and submission.
But even in that pose, she held her own body, hid her shoulders, and raised her defenses.
She opened her mouth and muttered something that not even she understood.
Her trembling voice was just about to end its meaningless words when something else arrived.
A giant twin-fuselage warship erupted with white spray as it appeared from the white sea below.
Before she could even scream, lights flashed at a few points along the ship’s surface.
A barrage of light filled her vision in an instant.
Then she felt intense pain in her right eye.
It felt like someone had grabbed her eyeball and twisted it.
She screamed more from disgust than pain and she squeezed her eyes shut while writhing on the floor, but her vision remained unchanged. She could see the sky and the approaching barrage of destruction.
She rubbed at her eye, which must have been sufficient because the pain suddenly left her.
That was when it all began.
The floor shook. It was a subtle thing, but it was reminiscent of a rapid heartbeat and it helped wake Hazel up.
Her mind heard a certain rhythm. Space itself was shaken by that world-altering rhythm known as an Erklärung.
<The Wind lives in a world of speed.>
The response to her frozen thoughts was clear.
<The Wind lives in a world of speed.>
The owner of her current vision was speaking. It was speaking the Erklärung that would change the world for its purposes.
<No one can keep up with its flight.>
The movement of her vision changed in an odd way.
It all slowed down.
The incoming barrage, the shredding of the clouds, and the sky’s movement all slowed to a crawl.
“What does that mean?” she tried to say.
But she could not. Her mouth moved too slow. She had already started to wonder about her slowed mouth by the time it finally opened to form the very first syllable.
…Time is slowing down?
<Only willpower can keep up with the Wind.>
Everything she could see had slowed and she could even count the number of shots in the barrage. There were 64 glowing bullets.
It all moved slow as could be.
<The Wind passes through the barrier to fly ever onward.>
The shaking of the floor now felt like the gentle rocking of a boat.
And she sensed something like an emotion in those waves.
She no longer bothered asking why. Because the slowed flow of time gave her plenty of time to gather all her memories together.
Whose eyes was she seeing through?
Why had that blue craft saved her when she fell from the roof earlier?
Why was her vision not obeying her instructions?
She had a lot of questions, but she knew one thing for sure.
She gulped, but only mentally. Her body was too slow to keep up.
Even her physical senses felt like they belonged to someone else now.
But she still formed words in her mind to figure out what was happening.
…Is my eye a part of this blue craft?
She was probably inside the cockpit right now. This craft had reproduced the Kaiserburg’s ability to transform, so it had taken her inside while evolving.
<After passing the barrier, the Wind soars further and further.>
She was past the barrage now. Her vision was now filled by the twin-fuselage ship with six Schwerts jutting out of its stern.
That ship felt like an obstacle to her.
Her vision was staring straight ahead, just like it had for a while now.
But the controller of her vision was not looking at the twin-fuselage ship there.
It was looking past the ship to view the azure sky.
…Do you want to keep going?
Just as she silently asked that, the controller of her vision ended the slowing of time.
<Everything returns to the rapid current of the heights.>
The clouds, the wind, the noise, the impacts, and even the sky combined within their speed to form a single phenomenon – the phenomenon known as flight.
Glowing swords stabbed in from either side up ahead.
The owner of her vision unleashed a roar. The engine loaded in the back cried out as it was pushed even further.
Her vision shot forward and accelerated in the wind.
That was when Hazel recalled the name Bermark had mentioned before and she instinctually sensed what it meant.
She understood the meaning of the name Sylphide.
The König Pseudo-Drach continued to accelerate.
It rapidly soared below the clouds where the atmospheric density remained constant as it was stirred up by the wind.
One of Germany’s distinctive black forests and the occasional village could be seen below.
All of that was tinged faintly blue by the atmosphere and it flowed by below them at an agonizingly slow rate. The height difference affected your sense of speed more than the actual relative speed when this high up.
Berger looked down through the König Pseudo-Drach’s canopy.
He saw a large river down there. Even from this altitude, he could tell it had frozen in the winter chill.
Then Bermark’s staticky voice arrived over the cockpit radio.
“Lieutenant, I may know where the Sylphide is headed. Its current course will take it to…the north pole.”
“The north pole? Is it planning to fly into space along the earth’s axis?”
“Most likely. And in its battle with the Doppelschneide, it has easily slipped past the wide-range barrage that is the Doppelschneide’s main selling point.”
A brief silence followed before Schweitzer shouted a question.
“You mean it’s using its Erklärung to function as a Panzer Ritter device!?”
Berger smiled bitterly at that.
And he acted like this was all common knowledge.
“A Panzer Ritter device? You mean the result of the Geheimnis Agency’s Eisen Ritter Project to develop strongest Panzer? Heinz Berge’s reaction speed was measured at 59 times a normal human’s, right?” He sighed. “The Sylphide never used its Erklärung this way before that idiot Marsch activated it with that eye, did it? I bet that self-evolving ship was searching out Hazel because it knew it couldn’t fully use its own abilities without that eye.”
“And I imagine the two of them are resonating through that eye, causing them to struggle for control.”
“Not much we can do about that,” said Berger with a click of his tongue and a kick of the seat in front of him. Then he spoke to Schweitzer. “At any rate, I get what’s going on now. We need to drag her out of there. If we work together, we should be able to pull it off.”
“Our powers are the only ones that can fight against this. You get that, right? This craft is only equipped with Kunst Eyes on the front since they were meant to produce a Luftram. Because it was a reconnaissance craft and acceleration was key.”
Berger smiled bitterly at what the man in the front seat said. He also pulled Gelegenheit from his coat.
“Sorry, but I’m not going to use my Ober Beweisen.”
“You mean aren’t going to unleash your Heidengeist power with Gelegenheit’s Ober Beweisen?”
“Remember what I decided 2 years ago? I’m never using my Heidengeist blood again.”
“Then focus on slicing through destiny. That is why I allowed you to accompany me.”
“That’s gonna require some pretty close-quarters combat. I’m really gonna be shot down trying this.”
“We cannot do this otherwise. …The military fought the Sylphide two weeks ago and they hit it with a Nein Ton that cause the target’s Tons to collapse.”
“But it didn’t work?”
“There can be only one explanation. The Sylphide is in an unstable mid-evolution state and its Tons are in constant flux. Because it knows it is incomplete.”
Berger sighed at that. And a radio transmission arrived as if it had been waiting for their conversation to end.
“The military and the Geheimnis Agency have concluded their meeting.”
“What did they decide, Bermark?”
There was a moment of hesitation before Bermark responded to Schweitzer.
“In an unusual turn of events, they could not reach a decision. Which means the military has chosen to act on their own decision.”
“Imbeciles! Do they want a repeat of the Armored Hammer of God Incident!? So what is going to happen?”
“The general headquarters has decided to immediately launch their V-0 if the Doppelschneide fails to bring down the Sylphide.”
“The V-0 is already being prepared for launch in the 16th Airbase to the north. I imagine the ghosts of Peenemünde are celebrating its first use in combat.”
Bermark’s voice faded along with the static and silence fell in the cockpit.
But the shaking aircraft did not slow down.
After a while, Schweitzer spoke into the communicator with his voice calm.
“You said they failed to reach an agreement, yes? Bermark, what does our Geheimnis Agency intend to do?”
Bermark responded with a complete lack of emotion in his voice.
“Our leader and his Excellency said they intend to fulfill the prophecy regardless of what it means for the people on the scene.”
Berger whistled and Schweitzer nodded.
“Then it is all up to us, Bermark. Tell our leaders that the Hero and Destiny shall fulfill it all.”
“As you wish.”
“Now, tell me what the V-0 is armed with. It is a ramming weapon that flies unmanned to enemy territory while shooting down any approaching enemies to defend itself, so it must be heavily armed.”
“Its basic framework is modeled off of a strategic transport ship just like Silber. It is loaded with explosives, an autopilot system, and a propulsion device, making it a large automatic bomb. As it is unmanned, it is only designed to ram its target, so its weaponry is simple and direct. It would take the firepower of a Grösse Panzer to attack that 100-yard self-destructing ship, so are you sure you want to do this?”
“Of course I am,” declared Schweitzer while accelerating the König Pseudo-Drach. His voice rang within the pressure of acceleration. “As Berger said earlier, we have Der Held and Gelegenheit with us. I am certain we can rescue the Messiah from the Sylphide with that kind of firepower.”
“I see. Then I shall head in to support you once Silber is ready.”
“So Freischütz will be arriving to fulfill the prophecy too?”
“Yes. As the Freeshooter and as a doll, I abhor that automatic projectile created for such a silly purpose.”
The Sylphide slipped past the twin-fuselage ship’s Drache Kanones with a combination of sword strikes and an ascent.
The twin-fuselage ship targeted its belly as it flew up, but the twin-fuselage ship only fired 16 shots from its diffusion Kunst Eyes. One of its two Eyes on each side had been destroyed and there were faint marks from hits on its armor.
The barrage was thinner than before, but it was fast. Nevertheless, the Sylphide charged in while Erklärunging.
<The Wind never flees.>
The 30-yard craft easily slipped through the gaps and attacked the twin-fuselage ship from above.
The twin-fuselage ship responded by accelerating. It blew the white clouds away as it ascended somewhat. It matched the Sylphide’s altitude and showed off its six Schwerts and its rear rockets.
The shimmering heat of its rockets grew all the larger.
It slowly moved forward as if showing off its abilities.
It sped up, more and more lines of white water vapor trailed back from the Luftram projected out ahead of it, and it left those lines in its dust.
The Sylphide ducked below those after making it through the thinner barrage.
<Not a single other gust can blow ahead of the Wind.>
The shots stabbed into the clouds and the clouds erupted like pillars of fire before vanishing behind the ships.
The two ships only ever moved straight ahead.
When the Sylphide closed in, the twin-fuselage ship pulled away. When the twin-fuselage ship pulled away, the Sylphide would close in. And when a barrage was launched, the Sylphide would slip through the shots and move forward.
<All sound and speed are created by the Wind.
That which breaks through the air itself bears true strength.>
The two ships obeyed the wind to continue soaring.
Black smoke suddenly erupted from the holes on the top of the twin-fuselage ship. Those holes were from the hits it had taken and from the missing Kunst Eyes. The smoke formed long lines billowing back behind the ship.
The six Schwerts vanished from the rear of the ship and the barrage ended.
But the twin-fuselage ship’s speed did not fall.
It had chosen to prioritize speed even if that meant losing all rear defense and offense.
It could no longer support combat and speed simultaneously.
The Sylphide was not going to overlook even a momentary opening. It fired metal bullets from its forward Kunst Eyes. The metal bullets were made by providing the simplest Rätsel to their Ton, so they did not even have a homing ability.
They flew in a straight line and struck the rear of the twin-fuselage ship.
The Sylphide continued firing.
Two of the other ship’s six rear Kunst Eyes erupted into flames.
Then the twin-fuselage ship performed a forceful roll.
The wind blew, the clouds were scattered, and a few pieces of the ship’s armor peeled away.
The Sylphide’s next bullets missed.
As soon as it moved to pursue the fleeing twin-fuselage ship, that other ship used hits four remaining rear Kunst Eyes to fire the same sort of metal bullets at the Sylphide instead of more Schwerts.
The surviving diffusion Kunst Eyes on the top of the ship began to repeatedly fire as well.
There was no hesitation in the rapid-fire attack.
All the gunfire produced a monotone rumbling in the wind.
The metal bullets and glowing bullets crossed paths as they attempted to destroy everything.
The power consumed for this destructive act very clearly reduced the twin-fuselage ship’s speed.
<Slow and weak are synonymous here.
Thus, the Wind must continue ever onward.>
It rapidly slipped between the bullets and dove within the shockwave produced by the twin-fuselage ship’s Luftram.
It flew just a few yards above the right fuselage’s upper armor and raced forward. It drew a single glowing sword to slice through the armor and cut away the Drache Kanone there.
The sounds of destruction were swept away by the wind.
The severed cannon flew through the air and was torn to pieces by the shockwave produced by the Luftram.
The Sylphide pierced the shockwave with its forward-thrust Schwert and continued onward. The glowing sword burst through the umbrella-shaped shockwave, producing a new shockwave of its own and instantly negating the original destructive wave
The crashing of the waves produced a white vapor cloud the Sylphide flew into.
A moment later, the Sylphide was already flying through the windy sky.
It threw on a burst of acceleration, leaving behind the twin-fuselage ship with its starboard side destroyed.
The left side fired its Drache Kanone, but the Sylphide avoided it as if flying around the light. It slowly put away its Schwert and slipped behind the twin-fuselage ship.
It approached the four rear Kunst Eyes that continued firing and it destroyed them one by one.
Fire burst from all four of them.
That fire rapidly spread across the holes and wounds opened across the ship, creating a great conflagration.
The twin-fuselage ship burst into flames.
Its great speed sent the black smoke and red flames flying backwards. It remained flying, but it was slowly losing altitude.
The Sylphide ignored its falling opponent.
The blue blade of a craft mercilessly resumed accelerating. It left the slowed ship behind as it shot forward. It surrounded itself with several different water vapor explosions while skimming just above the clouds.
A few seconds after the Sylphide passed by, the clouds would rupture and burst.
The sun was starting to descend in the sky and that warm light washed over the Sylphide while it tilted a bit to the right. Its curved wings jutted out to the sides and the starboard tip touched and gouged into the clouds.
The fluffy white clouds flew wildly into the air.
After two seconds, the Sylphide straightened out as if satisfied.
Then a giant shape approached from behind it.
It was the twin-fuselage ship. The giant ship looked like it was flying through a great cloud of black smoke at this point, but it managed to catch up to the accelerating Sylphide even as it shuddered violently.
Its roar and the atmospheric pressure it produced were enough to shake the clouds.
It could not even produce a Luftram since it was pouring all power into acceleration.
The two ships skimmed just off of the cloudy sea.
They were moving fast.
The twin-fuselage ship tried to move out ahead with its injured acceleration and the sole remaining Drache Kanone on its top side slowly, slowly aimed toward the Sylphide to its side.
The cannon was shaking too much to take aim normally, so it had been fixed aiming straight back, parallel to the ship’s direction of movement, since that was its most stable position. That was why the ship had to move out ahead of the Sylphide to fire at it.
Shimmering heat burst from the rockets on its back.
The twin-fuselage ship moved out ahead. The Sylphide accelerated too. It raced through the sky with all its strength, but it could not catch up.
The enemy moved out ahead and its stern was fully in Sylphide’s view.
It spewed flames and smoke while accelerating further. The Sylphide had been fully passed, just like when this enemy had first appeared.
The Drache Kanone filled with light while aimed straight back.
And that was as far as it got.
While silhouetted by the sun, the ship’s central bridge broke apart and then the entire thing fell to pieces.
The twin-fuselage ship split into something like two swords that bounced up into the air and were swept away behind the Sylphide. The long ship was torn to pieces after a blow from the fist of air resistance. The metal flying object was reduced to scraps in no time, creating a blossom in the air behind the Sylphide.
The Sylphide shook off the flames and smoke and dove through the cloud of scraps.
An explosion erupted behind it.
Large pieces flew past the Sylphide, plunged into the cloudy ocean, and sank into its depths.
Several white pillars rose from the clouds, but even they were left behind as the Sylphide flew onward.
All the remained were the sky, the clouds, the wind, and the roar.
And the Sylphide angled upwards.
It began a vertical ascent. To test itself, it set its goal at a position higher even than the heavens.
Hazel suddenly found herself lying on the floor.
She no longer saw the sky in front of her. Only a ceiling with metal pipes running every which way.
…Where am I?
She could see it when she blinked now, so this vision actually belonged to her.
But she could not move her eyes. Her body was tense and frozen up. She had been shown that high-speed battle as a participant, but she had failed to do anything at all.
As the crushing speed and attacks had pressed her back against the floor, she had only been able to pull her clothes in around her and curl up. Her one form of resistance was to not look away from what was happening.
Her breathing was heavy, she could feel beads of sweat dripping down her skin, and her wide eyes stared only at the ceiling.
…It’s like I’m about to cry.
That thought strengthened the emotion, so she closed her eyes once more.
She actually found darkness there. No one was stealing away the actual image seen by her eyes.
She focused on her right hand. She used her sense of touch to determine what her hand was touching and how it was moving.
She grabbed her fallen clothes from the floor, pulled them up to cover her shoulders, and clutched them tight.
She could feel her left hand as well. She used the clothing in that hand to cover her stomach.
Her left thigh lifted her knee to cover her body and her right leg bent as if to tangle with that.
It was similar to the pose of someone bracing themselves against an opponent’s approach and pressing their back against the wall to prevent anything from attacking them from behind.
Sweat dripped from her cheek and she breathed a deep sigh of relief at that sensation.
She knew her face was still stiff, but she let a self-deprecating smile reach her lips.
…This is what that prosthetic eye does, isn’t it?
A tear fell from her left eye and dripped to her ear while she lay on the floor.
Her right eye, the Messiah, shed no tears.
She accepted that fact and then slowly sat up.
She found herself in a small cockpit with 4-yard sides. She was surrounded by windows on three sides and the final side was a wall covered in an instrument panel and metal pipes. A pilot’s seat was located in front of the front window on the right and a navigator’s seat was located on the left.
It was somewhat reminiscent of a ship’s pilothouse.
“I really am inside the Sylphide,” she said after seeing nothing but blue outside the window.
The Sylphide had flown upwards after destroying the twin-fuselage ship. The end of the battle had freed her vision, so time was flowing normally for her now.
She wiped away the tears on her left cheek.
She stood up with her shirt held to her chest and placed a hand on the back of the pilot’s seat in front of her. Then doubt hit her.
…Who’s flying this thing?
Her question was immediately answered. She looked and saw both the pilot’s seat and navigator’s seat were empty. The yoke and the Kunst Eye control sphere were not moving. Even the counterforce had been deactivated.
She gulped after realizing the craft was unmanned.
“That ridiculous V-0 weapon they were talking about in the newspaper flies automatically, doesn’t it?”
…Does the Sylphide work the same?
There was no one here to answer her questions. Because she was alone.
She sighed at that realization. Then she wiped away her tears again and looked out ahead.
A deep blue filled the sky and she could see a vast expanse of land down below.
That land looked like a massive blue-tinged arc and, even from this low an altitude, she could make out the shape of Europe depicted in the maps of her textbooks. She could see the darkness of the night far off to the west, but she could also see the specks of lights indicating cities in that shadowy region.
She clutched her clothing all the tighter.
She could not stop the tears.
The vast land below her was home to both humans and Heidengeists.
She slowly moved while viewing that. She silently put on her shirt and brushed back her hair. After that bare minimum of grooming, she sat in the navigator’s seat with her legs together.
She checked the control panel in front of her and understood some of what it was telling her.
The altitude gauge’s needle had already reached the maximum reading, but the gravity gauge told her she was still within the earth’s gravitational field. The power gauge’s needle was also at the maximum.
She could not feel any weight bearing down on her from the acceleration, so the craft had to be using some kind of high-level inertial control.
“What does it hope to accomplish with all this acceleration? It isn’t hoping to reach space like the Kaizerburg did, is it?”
She suddenly realized there were two things sitting on top of the control panel.
The first was a woman’s bracelet placed around the base of a broken stick switch. The stick portion of the switch had broken off somehow and the bracelet was barely hanging onto the base. It looked like it could fall off at any time.
The second was some kind of paper stuck in the gap between the window and the control panel.
…That’s a photo.
She pulled it out and it was indeed a piece of a larger photo. It had likely shown a few different people, but the left side had been torn away and it only showed a single young man in the center.
She did not recognize him. He wore glasses, he had brown hair, and his build was best described as scrawny.
She did recognize the black cedar woods behind him.
The scene in the black-and-white photo did not show the barrier walls and siren towers that had been built when the airport was converted for military use. The young man stood in front of an airplane that seemed to be his.
…If this is before Tempelhof was fully converted into an airbase, this has to be at least 4 years ago.
She nodded at her own thought and looked down.
She saw a certain color on the otherwise gray metal floor.
A dark red liquid had dripped onto the floor and dried there.
Those were bloodstains. She noticed more near the stick switch with the bracelet.
She looked back to the floor and followed the bloodstains with her eyes. They created something like a dotted-line trail that weaved unsteadily across the floor until it reached the bulkhead on the port wall.
She looked back over to read the label for the switch with the bracelet.
“Control Mode – Schreiben Device.”
She gasped at that. She brought her face to the glass in front of her and viewed the reflection of her right eye which was stained a deep red. Then she flipped over the photo in her hand.
A man’s name was written there.
After a few seconds, she flipped the photo back over.
“Sylphide, Marsch Gant’s will is flying you, isn’t it?”
She placed her hand on the control panel.
She recalled what she knew about the Kaiserburg on which the Sylphide was based.
“Two years ago, the Kaiserburg fought a number of battles and evolved itself so it could reach outer space. The warship’s engine used a spirit stone that fell from space, so it carried a will telling it to return to space.” She took a breath and nodded. “Is that was this is, Sylphide? You were woken by Marsch Gant, but you can’t fight your destiny. You wish to fly to space, so you sought the missing component you needed to evolve and…”
She trailed off and sank deeper into the navigator’s seat. She breathed out through her nose and shut her eyes.
Suddenly, her seat began to move.
The width of the seat automatically adjusted to fit the body type of the person sitting in it. That feature was used in the air force’s latest models, but something about this movement seemed odd to her.
The width adjustment went back and forth several times like it was unsure if it really wanted to support her and was afraid of being touched. It reminded her of how a cat would pull back its paw when it was touched.
She found the hesitation kind of irritating, so…
“You don’t have to do that if you don’t-”
But she stopped when she remembered adjusting the seat of a fighter was used to increase safety and stability for the person seated there. And Sylphide had decided to do so based on its own will.
It could not have been more obvious who that was for.
She opened her mouth and started to say something, but she thought better of it. Her raised eyebrows hesitated for a moment before lowering as she sighed. She roughly pressed her body against the seat, grabbed the moving armrests, and let the seat support her.
“Look, this is the most comfortable position for me.”
The sound of air being released from below the seat almost seemed like a response.
Then the seat settled on a shape.
But that was not all. To the right of the emergency cryopreservation controls on the control panel, the communicator needle began to move. Instead of a military frequency, it stopped on a civilian one. She could listen to the radio at the flip of a switch.
…Is that supposed to be a favor?
“Sylphide, this Marsch man who woke you up is pretty bad at putting people in a good mood, isn’t he?”
She stood up. She was wearing a shirt now, but still no underwear.
…Since I’m not cold, the air in here must be heated.
She recalled it had been that way since she woke up and then slapped her cheeks.
“I don’t know what this all means. Am I a part of you, or are you a part of me?”
She smiled bitterly and put on the clothing that had fallen to the floor.
She had been so scared just a few minutes ago, but now she had calmed down some.
When she realized that, her bitter smile was replaced by her usual expression. There was no longer any tension on her face.
She could see the scene outside moving by at a dizzying speed. The massive blue-tinged arc was gradually expanding. They had begun to descend. She could see their speed growing even though she felt none of it inside here. The Sylphide was accelerating as fast as it could during its descent as well.
“Are you disappointed you can’t get to space?” she asked while sitting back in the navigator’s seat.
That would mean the Sylphide had not evolved enough yet.
A thought occurred to her and she spoke it aloud while tightening the seat’s four-point belt.
“Sylphide, why don’t you run away? What were you created to do?”
Her vision accelerated as if to swallow up her questions.
At 2:13 PM, the Sylphide left the European mainland and descended long a direct path toward the Arctic Ocean.
The König Pseudo-Drach crossed paths with it and a battle broke out.
Chapter 7: The Wind Leaps
12/21/1937 15:29 – 15:54
Will I fight because I don’t want to run away?
But before I can ask that
The battle begins
I am unsure who I am
Am I the fighting craft?
Or am I the person not doing anything?
Berlin is a young metropolis when compared to other nearby cities, so if attacked by another country, it is thought the city would be unable to achieve a form of defense unique to the country.
The Panzerpolis Project led by the Geheimnis Agency was begun in the early 30s as a solution to that problem. The idea was to provide all people living on German land the power of Erklärung, but that power is limited to pure Germans. This led to the government and military oppressing other ethnicities and advocating a pure-blooded society starting in the 30s. Other preparations for activating the Panzerpolis Project were also made during this time.
The project can be summed up with the following points:
- Create a sense of impending doom and a need for a Messiah by bringing back the Unreif Germane.
- Lead the people by using the Messiah as a symbol of national salvation.
- Deter the other nations by bringing the Geheimnis Agency to the forefront.
The details of the plan were meant to be announced along with the Greater Germanic Reich in ’38.
The König Pseudo-Drach moved out ahead of the accelerating Sylphide.
The sun was no longer in the sky to shine on the two crafts. The Arctic winter sky was dark.
In the König Pseudo-Drach’s rear seat, Berger looked up into that sky and bit a divine charm known as a Götter Note. It produced oxygen in his mouth. He saw the bullets shot from behind passing them by at visible speed.
“Holy hell, this is fast!! This a first for an old country boy like me!!”
“Unfortunately, I am disinclined to deal with your jokes right now!”
Inertia pressed him against his seat and the roar of the engine was loud enough that he had to shout. Schweitzer’s response from the front seat was also sharp. Schweitzer also produced a slight sound of steam from his Eingeweide arm Der Held as he used it to operate the control column specially modified for him.
Berger stretched up and held his head while looking back.
The Sylphide was flying toward them.
The blue, blade-like craft was leisurely trying to come alongside them.
That aerial warship was twice the size of the König Pseudo-Drach.
Its curved armor had evolved to reduce air resistance as much as possible and the cockpit could be seen somewhat protruding above that armor. The bridge-style cockpit had windows on three sides.
Berger could see someone inside that glass box. It was a blonde girl in white clothing.
“Yes! The abandoned catgirl really is in there!!”
Just then, the König Pseudo-Drach moved right and away from the Sylphide.
But at such high speed, the wind created a barrier that tried to keep it in place.
The craft forcibly pushed against that air resistance until it suddenly broke through. It tilted all at once and managed to fly away from the other craft.
The Sylphide’s Schwert sliced through the space it had just vacated.
Berger pressed himself against the canopy of the tilted craft.
“It’s gone completely wild. Why’s it trying to bring us down!?”
“We’re trying to do the same to it,” calmly replied Schweitzer.
Berger looked over to see the other man had removed his oxygen mask. He took one of the same charms Berger was biting and tossed it into his mouth.
“Now, let’s do this!”
The Sylphide accelerated as if in response to Schweitzer’s words.
“Why’s it moving out ahead? That’s suicide in a dogfight between fighters on this level.”
“Is it hoping to use its acceleration to escape us?” suggested Schweitzer.
Then the Sylphide did something truly absurd.
It turned its nose toward the König Pseudo-Drach midflight.
To Berger, it looked like the Sylphide was sliding to the right.
Thanks to its inertial control, the shape of the Sylphide was the only meaningful distinction between its front and back. It could turn at right angles and it could instantly reverse directions in midair.
But dealing with the air resistance would consume power and creating that inertial field had to use as much power as a heavy warship.
“Are you kidding me? It can do that at this speed? Three cheers for the craft of our dreams, I guess.”
Berger muttered to himself while removing his four-point belt and standing up. He stuck a few defensive charms in his vest’s pockets and in his shoes before tapping on the back of the seat in front of him.
“You tune the Luftram like we discussed.”
“Do you have a wind resistance charm? The ram alone will not eliminate the rear shockwave!!”
“I’ve already activated it. Man, you’re overprotective.”
They both smiled bitterly at that comment.
“Once I’ve cut through the Sylphide, you need to collect her before the wreckage falls,” said Berger.
“My Der Held will cut away that area of space to rescue her along with the cockpit.”
“I see. So even an awkward bastard like you has a positive side.”
“And what might that be?”
“Your ability to sound confident about everything you say.”
Berger smiled while watching the Sylphide continue its sideways slide with its two bow Schwerts drawn. The drawn swords sliced through the air, producing white clouds.
At the same time, Schweitzer operated the König Pseudo-Drach’s only Kunst Eye. A glowing shield appeared out in front of the craft to split the wind and protect the craft from the shockwave of the atmospheric pressure.
“Go, Berger!!” shouted Schweitzer.
After the pop of small explosives, smoke burst out and the König Pseudo-Drach’s canopy was blown away.
The cockpit was directly exposed to the high-altitude wind.
Berger jumped out while the craft trembled in the wildly dancing wall of wind. The charm he held instantly became a small Luftram that shielded him against the wind.
The wind was no more than a pleasant breeze for him as he casually stood atop the König Pseudo-Drach. He spread his legs to stand firm on the armor covering the engine behind the cockpit.
The cold wind whipping at his black coat smelled faintly of the sea. The Arctic Ocean lay below them, so he would die instantly if he fell from here. His breaths became frost as soon as they left his mouth.
He brushed up his hair and looked out ahead to see the Sylphide.
He viewed its sharp bow and its cockpit as he drew Gelegenheit from within his coat.
The Sylphide moved forward as if to protest his battle preparations.
He slowly pulled a Type C Phlogiston Tank from his pocket and inserted it in the rear of Gelegenheit’s hilt. He repeated the action 7 times to create a dark blade about 30 yards long.
He started to say something as he readied Gelegenheit.
But he stopped.
He had recited a portion of a Text with a set rhythm, but a moment later, he smiled and said something else.
“I won’t let this be a repeat of 2 years ago!!”
And he activated Gelegenheit.
The darkness emitted by Gelegenheit was formed from pure destiny-severing Tons, so its weight was insignificant. He simply sliced at the sky as if testing the weight of the hilt.
The dark blade cut through everything, including the wind and the shockwave.
The Sylphide rushed in beyond that darkness.
Its three rear Kunst Eyes began to fire metal bullets.
Berger’s dark blade sliced through those bullets as it Erklärunged.
<The Destiny of the sky does not allow the darkness to waver.>
Berger made a graceful sweeping movement for each shot that was heard in the sky. His black coat danced in the wind and the dark blade sliced through the metallic destruction. His feet sounded on the armor as he moved back, pounding out a rhythm for the sword’s movements. He cut up, cut forward, cut down, spun to the right, and jabbed up without missing a beat.
After jabbing out and pulling back, he swung to the left and pulled his body toward his arm to hold the sword down at his hip. He had a distinct smile on his face within the high-speed noise and destruction.
<The severer of Destiny dances in the blowing wind.>
His black coat fluttered up from his movements more than the wind.
The Sylphide was approaching fast, causing the downpour of bullets to grow even more intense.
Those bullets were metal and, as the Sylphide grew closer…
Sylphide swung its 2 Schwerts every which way as it passed by above the König Pseudo-Drach. There was no hesitation in the action.
The right sword swung in from above and the left one from below for a pincer attack.
Since the Sylphide was about 10 yards higher than the König Pseudo-Drach, the lower attack came almost head-on toward Berger. But the higher attack was swinging down toward him from directly above.
The two attacks would hit with a slight time lag between them.
He did not hesitate to jab Gelegenheit forward into the attack coming from below.
<Destiny takes its partner’s hand at the ball.>
With almost no time lag at all, darkness stabbed through and broke the Sylphide’s lower attack about halfway up the blade.
But by then, the higher attack was already swinging down toward him.
It tore through the wind with an icy roar.
Berger still had Gelegenheit jabbed forward without enough time to pull it back and raise it to defend himself.
But he did take action.
He pulled Gelegenheit’s hilt toward his stomach just a bit and then let go of it.
He twisted his body and ducked below the hilt floating in the air.
The hilt started to move past him overhead thanks to the momentum he had given it, but he spun his body around as if sweeping aside the bottom of his black coat.
Gelegenheit was floating above him with the bottom of its hilt pointed forward.
He had chosen to turn himself around instead of the heavy hilt.
It all happened in an instant, so he grabbed the hilt again before it could drop down. And he did so with both hands.
He then stood up with the weapon held overhead.
He swung it toward the giant Schwert being swung down toward him.
<Destiny reaches behind its partner’s back to take their hand!!>
He stepped forward and unleashed a roaring attack.
The Sylphide’s sword was broken, but he did not even watch the scattering spray of light. He instead looked up at the Sylphide about to fly by overhead.
He moved his sword back again in an attempt to slice through its belly.
Just then, the Sylphide stopped launching bullets from its rear Kunst Eyes and produced three Schwerts instead.
“Stubborn little thing!!” shouted Berger as he briefly hesitated.
<Destiny cuts away all hesitation.>
After what could only be called an instant, his Gelegenheit severed the three swinging swords. But the Sylphide used that brief time to take evasive action, change its course along a right angle, and move out ahead of the König Pseudo-Drach. Then it powerfully accelerated.
It began to run away.
The atmospheric barrier created by the Sylphide crashed into the König Pseudo-Drach’s Luftram.
The König Pseudo-Drach seemed to pass through a tunnel torn through the shockwave led by a curtain of white water vapor.
Berger ran forward along its back within the wind.
Only after placing his hand on the edge of the cockpit did he realize his left sleeve had been torn and shredded by the shockwave. Fresh blood quickly flowed down his arm to his fist.
He ignored his own bleeding.
He clicked his tongue, reached his bloody hand out toward the Sylphide, and clenched his fist.
“Schweitzer! Move out ahead of it! You should be able to pull that off using your Eingeweide arm’s Ober Beweisen!!”
“So it starts there, does it!?”
Schweitzer stood up in the wind, tearing his four-point belt apart in the process.
He readied his Eingeweide arm Der Held.
“Der Held – Erklärung – Ober Beweisen.”
Then he recited the words of the Text used to activate Der Held’s Ober Beweisen.
<Stars spread across the light-scattered sky
Excellence is determined in the sky above
- Do not compare your height to others
- All power is lost before them
- The heights are for the soaring dragon
- The depths are the foundation of the earth>
The rhythm broke through the wind and raced out in every direction.
Over the span of an instant, smoke and an empty cartridge burst from his prosthetic arm’s ejector before the staff stabbed out at empty space.
With a sound more pleasant than a roar, light surrounded a cube of space about 200 yards in each direction in front of him.
The ether floating in that area of space instantly vanished. The sound of the Tons bursting on their own was similar to a cry of joy. Even the wind instantly lost its shape as the movement of all ether came to a stop.
Berger smiled with only his lips.
“You stop all ether movement within a space for just an instant. Does that mean everyone must put down their weapon before Der Held?”
He watched as Schweitzer calmly sat back down in the cockpit. Once his large back was gone, Berger could again see the Sylphide in the sky.
Its Kunst Eyes were not functioning and its speed had dropped. But it was not gliding. The engine had been briefly stopped, but it had started back up immediately afterwards.
However, that was not enough.
The König Pseudo-Drach did not overlook that brief loss of power, so it worked to overtake the Sylphide.
The Sylphide shifted its path to avoid being overtaken. It moved directly in the way of the other craft’s path.
But by then, Berger was already standing atop the König Pseudo-Drach.
He held Gelegenheit in his right hand.
With 5 Type C Phlogiston Tanks attached, the darkness extended about 20 yards into the winter air.
The Sylphide had its back turned, so it chose to attack as its inferior speed allowed the enemy to approach. Swords of light emerged from its 5 Kunst Eyes.
Berger noted the swords were longer than before.
“Oh? Are you actually trying this time!?” he shouted while opening up his black coat with his left hand.
The pale light of the Sylphide’s Schwerts illuminated the inside of that coat.
There were several dozen bags tied to the inside of the coat and each one had a Phlogiston Tank attached.
He pulled Type C Phlogiston Tanks from them and rapidly attached them to Gelegenheit like a fast reload. He ended up with a total of 20.
The sword-like hilt was now so long the weapon looked more like a spear.
He grabbed the center of the shaft with both hands and swung it around. The dark sword extended more than 80 yards from the end and was still growing. Even the blade’s width was more than 2 yards.
It was an enormous sword.
“Have a taste of Gelegenheit!” he yelled while holding the shaft below one arm.
A moment later, the König Pseudo-Drach overtook the Sylphide.
As they passed by, the sky was decorated by spraying light and a sound like shattering glass.
The blue craft and black craft passed each other by in the dark sky.
Five small swords of light and one large sword of darkness moved at the center of that exchange of colors.
<The five swords of resistance are instantly severed by Destiny.>
With its swords broken, the Sylphide used its full power to hop to the side and flee from the large sword’s path.
Berger rested Gelegenheit on his left shoulder with its large blade intact and he shouted down to Schweitzer.
The other man did not respond, nor did the craft being to climb.
Berger saw the Sylphide place itself behind the König Pseudo-Drach after its hop to the side to escape.
Unlike the Sylphide or a larger ship, the König Pseudo-Drach had no way of attacking behind itself.
If they were fired on now, this would all be over nice and quick.
Berger hopped down into the cockpit’s rear seat and kicked at the back of the front seat. The large black-coated figure in the front seat shook and then spoke.
“Sorry. The reaction to using Der Held got to me.”
He kept kicking at the seat like a child.
The König Pseudo-Drach began a rapid and rushed climb. The pressure of their speed bore down on Berger while he watched the Sylphide’s bullets fly in from behind and pass by below them.
“Pull yourself together,” he said to Schweitzer. “A hero who gets worn out from every little thing is pretty lame.”
Schweitzer said nothing and further accelerated the König Pseudo-Drach.
The black steel craft soared nearly vertically into the sky.
Berger was pushed back into his seat by the inertia directed straight down from above and he held up Gelegenheit to observe it.
He breathed a sigh of relief to confirm the large dark blade remained. He pulled a pen and pad of paper from his pocket with his right hand, prompting a question from Schweitzer.
“What are you writing?”
“Some precautions, just in case. This is a craft that can negate Nein Ton rounds, after all.” Berger smiled with just his lips. It did not reach his eyes. “This will fulfill that prophecy of yours! The one meant to save Germany!”
Hazel had her vision taken from her again as she sat in the seat the Sylphide had shaped for her.
But she no longer felt any fear of the speed.
She could see everything. Two men she knew were launching attacks her way. They were really giving it their all.
Something Bermark had said echoed in her mind.
…They aren’t your average opponent, huh?
She felt like she was fighting against that opponent now. And that she was on equal footing with them.
Of course, that was only an illusion.
“Sylphide, this is your power, isn’t it? Instead of running away to survive, you say you don’t want to run away, but you still use all this power to make sure you don’t die.”
<No one can block the Wind.>
<The Wind blows with the Messiah.>
Hazel’s lips twisted a bit when she heard the Sylphide’s Erklärung.
“I’m not the Messiah, though. …Or do you want to be with me just because I have this Messiah eye?”
There was no response. Her vision simply continued flying through the sky.
Her vision pursued the black craft with the sun visible straight ahead.
“If all I am is your eye, maybe I have no choice but to do what you want.”
The Sylphide did not respond. It only ascended. Her chair transformed a little and the back tilted to match the angle of their ascent.
She smiled bitterly and then something occurred to her.
…That explains why this craft isn’t wary of me.
“Am I the only one feeling so scared and getting so worked up over what I’m doing?”
Her smile grew even more bitter.
The Sylphide would not know what she was thinking. It only pursued the enemy craft flying up ahead of it.
Hazel’s eye saw the rear of the leading black craft. The giant sword Berger had swung earlier was trailing behind it like a tail and it was spewing powerful red heat from its back end.
The jets back there were almost all she could see.
The Sylphide’s Kunst Eyes took aim at them.
It was ready to fire and close enough to guarantee a hit.
Just then, Hazel saw the large sword trailing behind the other craft slowly rise up.
She knew who must have lifted it like that. The man with the Titel of Wild Hund stood perpendicular to the enemy craft’s back. Hazel shouted his name.
Hazel saw Berger jump down from the vertically-rising craft’s back with the giant sword in hand.
His black coat did not flutter in the wind because he had buttoned it up on the front.
His body was positioned horizontally, his limbs were spread, and he dropped straight down.
The Sylphide accelerated in response. It only used its right front Kunst Eye. By pouring all its power into that one emitter, the glowing sword grew to more than 50 yards long.
With its own giant sword at the ready, the Sylphide tilted its nose just a bit diagonally.
That trajectory allowed it to flee at a moment’s notice. And if it managed to avoid Berger’s attack and strike back, it could immediately bring down the enemy craft above it.
She watched Berger dropping down.
The Sylphide prepared to strike back. It only had the one sword on the right, so if it failed to properly predict the path of Berger’s sword, it would be destroyed.
Hazel’s vision focused in on Berger. And…
She noticed something odd.
Berger was aiming his giant sword directly at her.
It was 80-yards long, but when the tip was directed straight at her, she could only see the width of the blade.
He suddenly pulled Gelegenheit’s hilt back under his arm and then threw it into the air behind him. Gelegenheit soared back behind him without tilting at all.
He tore open his coat’s buttons to spread out his black coat.
The flapping coat blocked her view of Gelegenheit.
Hazel realized the point of this.
…He hid Gelegenheit!?
The coat prevented her from seeing where the 80-yard sword was.
It had to be falling straight toward her behind him.
The Sylphide must have assumed the same because it shook the tip of its own sword side to side.
Would Berger’s sword be coming in on the right or the left? Once it dropped in on one side or the other, he was sure to grab it and swing it down.
The Sylphide used its Erklärung to increase its reaction speed.
<Where is the Wind going?>
But Berger held his left hand out to the side as he fell. That increased his air resistance and his speed noticeably dropped. He likely intended to grab Gelegenheit as it dropped in from behind him.
He looked straight at Hazel.
And he shouted something with a smile on his face.
She could not hear what it was. All she heard was the snapping of his fingers with that outstretched left hand. Although even that was only her mind filling in the silence with the sound she knew had to be there.
But it was enough.
A moment later, she saw the answer to it all.
She saw Gelegenheit’s large blade catching up to him from behind.
The giant tip formed from darkness came into view.
But it was not on the left or the right.
It came straight down the center.
The giant tip tore through near the center of Berger’s black coat. It was so close it could have easily stabbed through Berger himself.
He had twisted his body out of the way, but his left arm was still severed at the shoulder by Gelegenheit’s darkness.
But Gelegenheit continued to drop regardless.
<Destiny falls directly upon you.>
Berger wrapped his remaining right arm around Berger’s hilt to hold it in place.
And he stabbed it straight down.
The Sylphide attempted to evade the unexpected movement.
<The Wind defies destiny.>
“Shut up,” mouthed Berger.
<The flow of Destiny is faster even than the wind!!>
With Berger’s Erklärung, the 80-yard dark blade crashed into the Sylphide.
In no time at all, Hazel’s vision was attacked right down the center.
She felt no pain, but she did scream.
Hazel felt an impact on her back.
Her seat shook and nearly flung her forward, but the four-point belt held her in place.
She held her breath and looked forward to see an expanse of mist and wind before her eyes.
Yet her vision had returned to her.
“What in the world!?”
Her shout was drowned out by the wind.
The cockpit’s heated air vanished in an instant as the chilly wind blew in. It blew in from the center of the cockpit where a line had been sliced through the ceiling and floor from front to back.
The cockpit had been bisected down the center. The entire craft probably had been.
The severing line ran between her navigator’s seat and the pilot’s seat and it covered the entire length of the floor, the control panel, and the window.
There was about a foot of width between the two sides and wind was blowing in from there.
It had all been cut through by Gelegenheit’s attack.
She shrank down.
After bisection by that 80-yard sword, the craft would soon split apart and explode.
She waited for it to happen.
She silently cowered down and held her shoulder in the chill of the roaring wind.
She waited a few seconds.
But the destruction never arrived.
Her question was answered by a slight change.
The chilly wind was weakening.
At the same time, she heard several deep sounds like metal doors shutting.
It was the sound of a heavy mass of metal fitting together like teeth clacking together.
She looked up and saw a light within the mist still hanging in the cockpit. A bluish-white light had long been known to signify ether.
The light flashed like a pulse as it ran through the center of the cockpit from the floor to the walls and the window.
Hazel heard the engine roaring. She had heard that sound only once before. That was the Sylphide’s cry when it evolved.
But that was not all.
The machine’s cry was joined by the roar of the Sylphide’s Erklärung. That Erklärung set the healing and evolution in motion.
<The Wind cannot be broken.
There is nowhere it cannot go.>
Hazel’s mouth hung open as the machine’s will was so clearly Erklärunged.
“Why do you want to keep flying so badly?” she asked.
The cockpit was shaken by a far louder voice than before.
<The Wind must protect the Messiah.>
She looked up when she heard that answer within the shouted words that sought evolution.
“Why must you do that?” she asked.
<The Wind is the dragon that serves the Messiah!>
This was all for that.
…Is that why you won’t run away!?
Her thoughts did not receive an answer, but she did reach up and touch her right eye. She touched the red glowing Messiah implant.
“Sylphide, were you created for the Messiah!?”
Her spoken question did receive an answer.
The machine’s calm Erklärung raised its voice to fulfill its evolution.
<The Wind is precisely that.>
Berger saw the Sylphide’s evolution while he fell with blood scattering from his now-armless left shoulder.
He was falling upside-down, so he had to look “down” above him to see the blue craft’s bisection emitting light while its armor rapidly rearranged, the various power conduits reconnected, and it essentially sewed itself back together.
And it also used the opportunity to adjust the position of its engine.
“That’s doubly bad,” he said while looking over at Gelegenheit in his right hand. Its large blade was gone now, so it only looked like a staff as he held it.
He clicked his tongue.
“It’s bad once because delivering a critical blow only got it to evolve.”
He looked back toward the heavens to see the Sylphide slowly moving out ahead again.
It gradually built up speed while continuing its evolution.
The König Pseudo-Drach had descended from above to pursue its supposedly fallen foe, but now it panicked and was forced to move far out of the way without even a chance to attack.
After that, the black craft ignored the Sylphide and started flying straight toward Berger instead.
“And it’s bad twice because he might not reach me in time.”
He looked down to see the ocean surface rushing up toward him.
If he hit the water while falling this quickly, the impact would kill him. And even if he was lucky enough to somehow survive the impact, this was the Arctic Ocean in winter.
He would still die.
He smiled bitterly at that very simple fact.
But the bitter smile soon vanished because he felt some powerful air pressure descending on him from above.
He heard a roar and he saw the bow of a giant aerial transport ship.
He also saw Bermark standing on that bow.
The man and bow changed course to move past Berger. They circled below him and approached.
“Still a reckless youth I see, Wild Hunt!!” said Bermark with a frown while he reached out his gloved right hand.
Berger held Gelegenheit in his mouth and grabbed the outstretched hand.
It was the hard mechanical hand of a Sein Frau.
Grabbing that was all he needed to do.
The aerial transport ship rapidly braked its descent which had surpassed freefall.
Bermark swung Berger around so he could land gracefully on the deck. After landing on his knees, Berger looked out ahead to see Bermark looking overhead while the wind blew in from the front.
He was watching the Sylphide accelerating away into the black sky.
It could only have one destination: the sky above the north pole.
As the transport ship redirected its falling speed to accelerate forward, the König Pseudo-Drach flew up alongside it.
Schweitzer poked his head up from the canopy-less cockpit and shouted a question.
“Is the lower docking port open!?”
“All the arrangements are in order,” ensured Bermark. “But there is one problem!”
“Eh? What’s that?” asked Berger while holding his left shoulder.
“The V-0 was launched,” said Bermark with a hint of annoyance.
“Hey, do you always have to sound so irritated about talking to me?”
Bermark ignored him, straightened up, and saluted the König Pseudo-Drach flying alongside them.
“It will hit in another 12 minutes. We must hurry!!”
Chapter 8: The Wind Soars
12/21/1937 16:01 – 16:21
Prophecies? Species? Country? Myths?
I still don’t understand any of that
But I have realized what it is I want
All I’ve done is realize it
A humanoid machine a level above both the Klein Panzer and the Mittel Panzer. Its every body part is built from machines providing functionality modeled after the human body and their designs are divided between male and female models. They are effectively mechanical humans without a will of their own. Their creation is often spoken of alongside the creation of Sein Fraus, so they likely originate from the same place.
The pilot enters a cramped coffin-like room known as a Studio where all their body’s Tons are broken down, sent through the Grösse Panzer’s conduits, and combined with the Grösse Panzer’s own Tons. So instead of operating the Grösse Panzer, they become one with it.
This is known as the Schreiben process.
A weapon unique to Grösse Panzers is the Ober Emblem that uses emblems carved into the surface of the armor and other components to transform the machine. The Grösse Panzer’s Ton structure is altered to give it different functions and the process is later adopted for armor emblems and emblem bullets.
The wind had died down in the cockpit, but Hazel was still curled up and holding her knees in the seat.
Her vision had not been taken from her. There was still a white line down the center of the window in front of her and she could see the blue sky through that.
Things were rushing by outside even more quickly than before.
“Were you born to take the Messiah anywhere she might need to go?” she asked while watching the sky outside.
She already knew the answer to that.
After a short pause, she lowered her gaze to look away from the sky and think.
…You actually want to return home, don’t you? To the planet or asteroid belt of the meteor used to make the spirit stone you use for fuel.
She smiled bitterly.
“Do what you want to do, Sylphide. Because I’m not the Messiah.”
The Sylphide’s engine roared as if to say it did not care. It was still accelerating.
She squeezed her knees between her arms to curl up in an even smaller ball.
She realized her gaze had strayed a bit to the left. Her seat’s position had slipped. The rotating stand below the seat had turned a bit to the left before fixing itself in place.
She knew why. Sylphide had angled the seat to protect her from the previous bisection and blowing wind.
She laughed quietly in a resigned sort of way.
“Are you sure you want me of all people to be the reason you’ve never been able to run away?”
She let go of her legs, undid her four-point belt, and left the seat. The communicator in front of her remained silent with the needles still on the right frequency.
She started to switch it on, but then she noticed the photo of a young Marsch was still stuck in the gap between the control panel and the window, but the bracelet hanging on the switch was gone.
…Did it fall?
Feeling like she would be to blame if it was lost, Hazel frantically looked around for it.
She spotted it on the floor, right on top of the seam created during the evolution and repairs.
She rushed over and picked it up.
It was lighter than expected. She started to put it on her wrist but stopped. She held it in her hand and turned toward the control panel to put it back where it had been, but that was when she noticed something unpleasant.
It was an arm. Someone’s entire left arm, from shoulder to fingertips, had fallen below the navigator’s seat she had been in. The seat itself had blocked it from view before, but now it was hard to miss.
“Is that Dog’s left arm?”
A black cloth was wrapped around it as if to tie off the shoulder. It was soaked with blood, but it was undeniably a piece of his black coat.
…Did he throw it in here?
She found her own question sounded oddly carefree given the circumstances, but then she noticed something.
The severed arm was lifeless now, but it held a piece of paper tightly in its hand.
“Now I know it didn’t fall in here on its own.”
The edge of the paper was sticking out and it said “For Hazel Mirildorf”.
That was puzzling enough, but then she heard a metallic sound.
It was a painful sound of metal being torn away.
She frowned and looked around.
“What is this sound?”
Silber had been designed primarily for carrying cargo, so 70% of its internal space was taken up by the 1st Cargo Bay. That large space was 15 yards wide and tall and 60 yards deep.
Their rapid flight caused the cargo bay’s contents to shake somewhat, including a blue male Grösse Panzer in a landing pose that was going through its final pre-Schreiben inspection.
They had no time.
The work was being swiftly completed by a few of Bermark’s men and they all wore various military uniforms instead of work jumpsuits.
Someone was watching them while leaning against a shield-reinforced pillar to the side of the cargo bay.
It was Berger who had lost his entire left arm and now had bandages wrapped around the wound.
He was not wearing his black coat. He had also removed his shirt, so the bandages were the only thing covering his upper body.
He toyed with Gelegenheit in his right hand while he watched the Grösse Panzer’s final inspection.
Until he heard some solid footsteps approaching from his left.
He turned his head toward the noise to see Schweitzer there. He was not looking at Berger. He was looking up at the Grösse Panzer.
“Bermark does love his gambles.”
“He just wants you to return alive. He’s a good aide.”
Berger smiled and stared more intently at the Grösse Panzer.
“HMF309 Blau Löwe.”
“It is a ship-defense Grösse Panzer developed by the Geheimnis Agency. Its weight has been reduced as much as possible while maintaining sufficient power output and its Ober Emblem called Luft Fang allows it to deploy its wings and fly. …Assuming you can activate the Ober Emblem, that is.”
“You’re looking at the second best Grösse Panzer in the world here. Give me 3 minutes and it’s done.”
“I never imagined I would need this much of your help.”
Berger clicked his tongue at Schweitzer’s attitude.
“We just so happen to want the same thing here. Once we save her…well, we’ll have to see what happens then, right?”
Berger’s snide tone got Schweitzer to turn toward him.
“Why won’t you use your power as a Heidengeist? With that, you could solve this like you did 2 years ago.”
“Because I keep my promises, Schweitzer.”
Berger’s tone said he was not accepting any more questions on the matter and he reached up to touch the pendant he wore at his neck with the same hand holding Gelegenheit. The chain he wore it with jangled quietly before he said something more.
“Marsch promised to develop the country, so I think I get why he activated that craft and why he decided to implant the Messiah eye in a Heidengeist.”
Berger answered Scwheitzer’s confusion by raising his right index finger.
“There is a single word that links Marsch to that prophecy you people are obsessed with.”
The one-armed youth holds the Messiah
The moonlit pair returns to the earth
The dragons gather and dance tonight
Every last thing returns home
“It’s the Messiah,” said Berger. “Hazel isn’t the Messiah yet. If that really is a prophecy, then she becomes the Messiah only once the prophecy has been fulfilled. Which means…”
“Which means what?”
“To return to the earth, you must first rise above it. To return home, you must first leave it. Do you get what I’m saying?”
“That Marsch created and activated the Sylphide in order to create the Messiah?”
Berger spread his right hand with three fingers raised.
“You said everyone in the Geheimnis Agency was given a prophecy based off of the Unreif Germane three months ago, right? And you were told to search for the Messiah based on it. Marsch was probably building the Sylphide when it occurred to him that the Sylphide might be necessary to fulfill the conditions needed to create the Messiah.”
“So he gave the Messiah implant to a Heidengeist to match the Unreif Germane?”
Schweitzer’s question was followed by the ship’s lighting turning red.
A shipwide announcement played.
“Enemy craft located! The V-0 is approaching from seven o’clock. We will arrive within the V-0’s firing range in 1 minute and 18 seconds. Matching altitude and preparing for counterattack. Cargo Team and Docking Team, complete your inspections ASAP!”
“Also, something odd is happening with the Sylphide out ahead. We thought the craft was done evolving, but now it…appears to be falling apart!”
The surprised voice spoke quickly but did not rush.
“These soldiers are well trained,” said Schweitzer before turning to Berger. “Why would it fall apart?”
Berger smiled bitterly.
“The Nein Ton rounds the military hit it with are only now taking effect. Now that it’s done evolving, the Sylphide’s Tons are no longer in flux and that near-forgotten poison it swallowed can do its damage.”
“Do you still not get why Marsch sent me the 9th Section of the Ruling King? His will no longer exists in the Sylphide. The machine’s own instincts and duty are driving it to carry the Messiah into outer space. Marsch may have wanted to prevent that and make the song come true.” Berger’s smile grew even more bitter. “The trouble we go through for that man.”
Schweitzer sighed, removed his coat, and handed it to Berger.
“Here’s a spare coat. Put it on.”
“I’d rather not receive clothes from another guy.”
“It was weirding me out to see you without any black on.”
With that, Schweitzer turned around and did not look back again.
An alarm sounded in the large cargo bay to indicate something was activating.
With his work complete, a soldier hopped down from the shoulder of the Grösse Panzer named Blau Löwe wearing an armored blue Panzer Kleid and sitting on a cargo platform in the center of the cargo bay.
He and the other workers ran over to the cargo platform’s controller and began operating the buttons.
A large tremor ran through the Grösse Panzer’s cargo platform.
An eyepatch-like device extended from the back of the platform to protect the sight devices, but that was removed, revealing Blau Löwe’s face. The compound eye devices already contained a light carrying a powerful will. Berger had Schreibened into it.
The voice device in Blau Löwe’s mouth produced Berger’s somewhat muffled voice.
“All systems go. Preparing to depart. Standing up.”
The workers repeated that all back as the cargo platform rose up.
The back of the platform was oddly shaped to surround the secondary cockpit and the Götter Kanone on the Panzer’s back and it attached to the bottom of the secondary cockpit to push up on the Panzer.
Blau Löwe stood up and planted its feet on the floor. It no longer required the support of the platform to remain standing.
“Standing up. Everything looks good. Removing restraints.”
The workers repeated that back again.
With the sound of crackling electricity, the restraints were removed from the Panzer’s parts: the shoulders, the thighs, the wrists, the feet, and the stomach.
With the restraints gone, the giant steel doll was free.
“Restraints removed. Beginning to move.”
It took a step forward. Its body tilted a bit to the left.
After correcting for that, it took another step forward and reached out its right hand. A Grösse Panzer sword was hanging on the wall. It grabbed that and attached it to the weapon latch on the Panzer Kleid’s hip.
“Equipment retrieved. Preparing for free-fall transportation.”
“Opening virtual barrier. Cargo bay crew, withdraw immediately.”
That announcement was followed by a solid panel of light covering everything from ceiling to floor behind Blau Löwe.
Two more of them appeared equidistant from each other in front of Blau Löwe.
The men who had been in front of the cargo platform’s controls were now waving from behind Blau Löwe. Blau Löwe must have seen it with its omnidirectional vision because it gave a thumbs up back at them.
The men cheered while falling back toward the barrier within the ship.
As soon as they were done, the cargo bay door opened vertically.
A 15-yard opening appeared, the dark sky came into view, and the entire ship shook.
But no wind blew inside the cargo bay. The three panels of light surrounding the Grösse Panzer kept it out. Those Ton barriers redirected the energy that passed through them, creating air barriers.
Blau Löwe’s Panzer Kleid fluttered from what little wind got through and the Panzer ducked down.
“Fully activating Ober Emblem Luft Fang. What’s the Sylphide doing?”
“The Sylphide is currently having some armor stripped away. Based on its rate of collapse, it will not last another hour. Once it loses inertial control, it will break apart in midair.”
Just then, a shipwide broadcast blasted into the cargo bay.
“We are receiving a radio transmission from the Sylphide!! The pilot wishes to speak with Dog Berger!”
“Dog Berger! What is the meaning of this!?”
Bermark’s voice entered the broadcast to ask that question and Blau Löwe explained.
“I ‘handed’ her the frequency and encryption code we’re using. And I added a simple message: say what you want to say.”
Ether light formed orbs below Blau Löwe’s Panzer Kleid and those orbs scattered into the air.
The ether burst and turned to a glowing mist that covered the armor and caused it to undergo a change.
The intricate emblem engraved into the Panzer’s armor glowed as it reacted to the ether. The Ton rhythm contained in that emblem transformed the Panzer into something other than a machine.
A girl’s voice arrived via the shipwide broadcast while the transformation occurred.
“Dog…can you hear me?”
It was Hazel.
“I can, Hazel. …Let me be blunt – that craft is dying. Can you tell?”
The Ton conversion caused by the emblem moved past the armor and altered the power system as well.
“Yes. It’s making some weird noises, so I had a feeling.”
The changes began at the limbs. Light sprayed from the joints for just an instant and that light dissipated to reveal an entirely different shape. The connections made with cylinders were now an actual metal body held together by giant white tendons.
This created a fusion that was not quite biological and not quite mechanical.
The Götter Kanone and secondary cockpit on the back began to transform with ether light, as did the extra armor for the wing expansion located between those other two components.
“Then I have one question, Hazel. Do you want to be the Messiah? We’re looking at a pretty literal fulfillment of the prophecy here, so if you choose to abandon the Sylphide and return home, the prophecy will be fulfilled.”
Ether light swelled out from the back of the shoulders and branched off into a top, middle, and bottom sections on either side. The six lights jutted out as giant fang-like wings.
These were the six wings of a Seraph, a powerful type of Nein Engel.
“Also, it’s looking like the Sylphide was made for this purpose. To create the Messiah, I mean. So how about it, Hazel. It might feel nice to be a Messiah.”
“That would mean abandoning the Sylphide though, wouldn’t it? And it would mean this prosthetic eye is being used by the state for that prophecy, right? Also…” She took a breath. “What do you mean the Sylphide was made to create the Messiah!? This thing has worked so hard to search out the Messiah and take her to outer space. Are you saying it was actually made to do something else entirely?”
“It looks that way, yes. The Sylphide might want to go to space and protect the Messiah, but it was made and activated to fulfill the prophecy.”
“Are you serious!?”
The light intricately weaved the metal together to create the impressive wings.
The base of the wings was blue and the wings themselves were yellow. They looked like enormous fangs standing up toward the sky.
“Then are you willing to die along with the Sylphide when it breaks apart? Since it was built to be used by the state, you sympathize with it so much you want to die with it?”
Berger smiled bitterly at that.
“You’re still a child, Hazel. I said I only have one question, so you don’t have to answer or even think about that one.”
Blau Löwe’s facial devices were bathed in light as a mask-like face was created.
The conduits extending from the back of the head became tendons and the radiator tubes became long hair that danced in the wind.
“Dog.” Her sigh reached him as static. “Why are you doing this? Who even are you?”
Blau Löwe…no, Luft Fang raised its head to look outside.
“I’m…well, a god.”
“A god!? I’d heard you from Aerial City.”
“That’s right. My mom was a human prostitute and pure humans are pretty rare in London, a city of Heidengeists and gods.”
Its left arm had finished transforming, but it did not move.
Instead, Luft Fang clenched its right hand once, twice, thrice.
“Then your father was a god?”
“Yeah. Which may explain why my mom was fond of saying her customers were all-knowing.” Berger sighed, paused for a moment, and then continued. “Wait, no. She said ‘the customer is always right’. That’s not quite the same thing, is it?”
His joke earned only silence until that was broken by Bermark.
“Someone throw that man off my ship.”
Berger ignored him and took another step forward.
The 8-yard metal giant was truly walking now.
“Hazel, keep in mind that the Sylphide will die eventually.”
“And it is unsure if it should obey its machine instincts and fly into space with you or if it should obey the duty given by its creator and protect the Messiah. None of that has to do with what the state wants.”
“Hazel Mirildorf, what will you do? You are not the Messiah yet, so will you continue deceiving the Sylphide?”
On the fourth step, it fully passed through the virtual barrier.
Luft Fang stood on the edge of the opened cargo bay door and it spread its wings while its Panzer Kleid flapped in the blowing wind. The 6 wings spread out wide and air gathered in the gaps between their metal feathers.
It prepared to take flight.
The wings’ air intake produced a whistling loud enough to be heard over the general roar surrounding everything. Luft Fang’s body began to shake, but it did not take flight yet. More air pushed in behind it to create a vortex.
The shipwide broadcast could barely be heard over the wind in the cargo bay.
“The V-0 is approaching! We have visual confirmation!!”
The open cargo bay door gave a view of a boxy black shape positioned at the center point between the dark sky and the sea.
Luft Fang’s eyes stared straight at its opponent.
A black craft rose from below as if to fly right into the center of the Luft Fang’s vision. It was a König Pseudo-Drach. Its Luftram was active and its canopy was missing, giving a view of Schweitzer piloting it.
They were ready to go and the girl’s voice spoke on the communicator.
“Dog!! I don’t know. I don’t know what I should do! That’s the only answer I have right now! This craft is trying to protect me, but it’s also trying to fly into outer space with me onboard.”
“Remember, Hazel. You said you didn’t want to run away.”
“But you said any country I went to would only try to use me. And the Sylphide is the same, so I…”
“Shut up.” Berger cut off the girl’s doubts. “Be destroyed or be the Messiah? There must be an answer beyond those boring paths of death or subjugation. You need to seek that out, Hazel!!”
He said nothing more. Luft Fang remained silent as well.
The giant fusion of metal and man silently jumped out into empty air.
The six wings on its back closed as if beating at the air and Luft Fang began to fly.
The battle grew intense from the word go.
The V-0 was more than 100 yards long and it spewed bullets from the diffusion Kunst Eyes on its upper surface to attack the Grösse Panzer approaching from head on.
The V-0 had been originally built as the same model of ship as Silber.
It was a strategic transport ship capable of ultra-high-speed movement. It was loaded with divine spell explosives, its autopilot would take it to the target, and its weapons would automatically intercept any unexpected attacks it encountered on the way.
It was an unmanned auto-ramming ship.
A total of 48 freezing rounds loudly burst from the six Eyes on its upper surface.
Luft Fang responded by drawing its sword. Ether flowed through the drawn sword and the Ober Emblem affected it just like the Panzer itself. Light raced along the steel of the blade and it transformed into solidified light.
Electricity erupted from the blade like a mini-waterfall.
The fang jutting out into the sky was truly a bolt of lightning.
A horizontal swing of that lightning instantly vaporized the freezing rounds.
The electrification sent smoke into the salty air and the Luft Fang flew forward through that.
Their relative speeds instantly brought the giant ship right in front of it.
The V-0 was flying just off the ocean surface to avoid detection. It was less than 50 yards up. At that altitude, no enemy could fly below it to attack from there.
That was because the slightest maneuvering mistake would mean crashing.
But the Luft Fang did not hesitate to accelerate even more with its wings.
It flew forward.
The V-0 responded by firing again. The unmanned auto-ramming ship fired a much denser barrage toward the approaching Luft Fang.
The Luft Fang flapped the blue and yellow wings on its back.
With a roar, the forward-moving Luft Fang flew upwards.
A moment later, a white cloud burst in an explosion of air.
The barrage of bullets passed by below the Luft Fang.
The steel ship was now dead ahead, so the Luft Fang twisted its body to stand upright in midair. It swung down the lightning sword with its right arm while slightly applying its brakes.
The wind whipped up and the V-0 passed by the Luft Fang.
The Luft Fang used that movement to let its line of light slice into the V-0’s top surface from front to back.
Sparks flew and the wind roared.
The Luft Fang immediately circled behind the V-0 and resumed accelerating so it would not be left behind.
Two of the Kunst Eyes on top of the V-0 had burst into flames.
But this did no damage to the ship itself. A line had been burnt into its upper armor, but the attack had not reached the internal structure.
The way the armor panels burnt away suggested the armor was designed to automatically detach from within when it self-destructed. It was tough on the outside but fragile on the inside.
Its transport ship design worked well as a bomb.
The Luft Fang repeatedly accelerated to make up for its reduced speed and the distance between them.
The V-0’s side Kunst Eyes began to fire backwards.
A barrage of freezing rounds flew behind it, but a few of them flew straight down toward the ocean.
Once those freezing rounds hit the water, the pillars of water were transformed into hunks of ice that were then shattered by the V-0’s shockwave.
Chunks of ice as large as several feet long flew through the air. Crashing into one of those would be devastating, so they effectively sealed off that area of the sky.
The Luft Fang spread its main wings toward the cold and starry sky. It was preparing to accelerate.
The atmosphere warped and the air behind it grew distorted.
Then the Luft Fang flew along a course that avoided both the barrage of bullets and the ice pillars.
It flew down to skim just above the ocean.
It was oriented face down with its chest just barely avoiding the tops of the waves.
The wings on its back caused it to fall down chest first.
Its main wings flapped, its side wings spread to improve stability, and its small wings made minute adjustments to correct its angle.
The Luft Fang prevented itself from falling while flying ever forward.
Back behind its feet, the waves burst up into the air.
This was the pitch-black airspace of the Arctic Ocean.
The Luft Fang caught the darkness on its wings to race through the sky.
It slipped below the ice pillars launched upwards by the V-0.
It made a slight course correction to the left so it would pass below the V-0.
It flew right on in.
The great pressure of the atmosphere and the wall of air pressure from the V-0 were right in front of it.
It opened its mouth and roared.
The cry of man and machine sounded like a lion’s roar.
The lion never ceased accelerating while it roared.
The shockwave produced by a strike of its sword shattered and negated the wall of air in front of it.
The Luft Fang flew forward. It moved to the starless darkness of the shadow cast by the V-0.
It flew right below the V-0.
The giant ship produced a rumbling of air that slammed into the Luft Fang and threatened to shatter its wings.
But the ether light coming from the wings solidly preserved the wings and allowed it to continue fighting.
It looked straight ahead.
Even after accumulating so much speed, it worked to fly even faster.
A black craft was visible ahead in the gap between the V-0 and the ocean.
That was the König Pseudo-Drach.
Bullets flew toward the black craft from the top of the V-0.
The König Pseudo-Drach was a diversion meant to protect the Luft Fang.
For a brief moment, the Luft Fang reduced its acceleration.
But a moment later, it fearlessly spread its wings. Even with that ceiling so low overhead, it spread its 6 yellow wings toward the sky.
The wings produced a metallic sound.
It built up pressure.
The spread wings gathered air.
And it moved forward with a roar.
That one sound continued on and on and on.
It shot forward like it had kicked off the ocean surface. The explosion of air it produced caused even the massive V-0 to shake.
But the Luft Fang’s flight did not end there.
It shot out from below the ship and ascended while slicing through the ship’s boxy nose with its lightning sword.
The ocean was split by the shaking of the air as it ascended and waves burst up into the sky.
Before the spray could reach it, the Luft Fang moved up above the V-0.
It twisted around to change direction and face the V-0.
The ship focused its bullets on it.
An unmanned barrage was fired on the giant that had ears of its own and could race freely through the sky.
The Luft Fang was currently rotating around with its large wings, so it could not fully avoid the high-speed barrage of noise and light.
The flame bullets hit, producing deafening explosions.
The noise reverberated off into the distance while components flew from the Luft Fang.
Threads of fire seemed to grow out from the black explosion and metal parts flew along after them.
The V-0 did not stop firing.
It tried to fly right through the explosive flames spread out before it.
But then a few of the components, which had become little more than flying fireballs, did something somewhat different.
Most of them were falling down to the ocean and would be blown away once hit by the wall of air created by the V-0’s movement, but some of the fire flew perpendicularly out to the right of the V-0.
About 30 yards to the V-0’s starboard, the Luft Fang hung in the sky.
Its left arm had been destroyed and was spewing smoke, but its Ober Emblem was still active.
Bluish-white ether light drew out a large 3D object in the space between the explosive flames and the Luft Fang.
The orientation of that space had been instantaneously reversed.
The V-0 reflexively fired all its Kunst Eyes toward the Luft Fang, but then the König Pseudo-Drach flew forward from behind the Luft Fang.
Schweitzer was standing up in the canopy-less cockpit.
<The Hero abandons no one.>
Schweitzer returned his right arm to the controls.
The Luft Fang flapped its wings in response.
It flew in a beautiful arc up above the incoming barrage.
It held its lightning sword at its hip and flew straight toward the V-0.
The Luft Fang crashed shoulder-first into the V-0.
Metal was smashed and the Ober Emblem burst with a spray of light.
The giant weighing more than 20 tons used its inertial force to break through the V-0’s armor. Even the toughest armor was meaningless once an opening was torn in it.
The Grösse Panzer’s weight and momentum opened a massive hole.
The Kunst Eyes on top of the V-0 lost sight of the enemy and began to turn uncertainly as if tilting their heads.
After a few seconds, all of the Kunst Eyes exploded as if something had thrust up at them from below.
With a deafening roar of destruction, a 20-yard blade of darkness burst up through the V-0’s upper armor and sliced through the wind.
That was Gelegenheit.
<Destiny can destroy even the strongest metal.>
The V-0 was sliced through every which way before rapidly falling silent.
It suddenly lost speed and smoke erupted from the damaged portions. The most smoke came from the hole the Luft Fang had entered through.
A small figure jumped out from that hole. The one-armed youth in a black coat was Dog Berger. He ran to the left atop the V-0 and leaped out into the open air with Gelegenheit in his right hand.
The König Pseudo-Drach flew up from below to catch him on its back as if scooping him out of the air.
The black craft accelerated out ahead of the V-0.
The giant self-destruction weapon slowly descended behind it. It would soon crash into the ocean below.
Chapter 9: The Wind Rises
12/21/1937 16:59 – 17:41
I think I will give an answer
An answer to the question
“Do you or do you not have the strength needed to give an answer?”
One useful fact was discovered during the Berlin Conflict of 1935.
The moon’s identity was revealed through observations made by P. Wagner’s group.
“The moon has a core made of spirit stone.”
It has long been known that moonlight increases the power of Heidengeists and also abnormally increases the transformation efficiency of spirit fuel, which is created from spirit stones, sometimes to the point of losing all control.
Spirit stones are a crystallized form of ether and their Ton structure is almost entirely unified and static, but when they resonate with something, their Tons will rapidly change, causing them to transform in some way.
Thus, when exposed to moonlight, spirit stones and other ether products will resonate with the moon’s Tons since the moon is itself a giant spirit stone.
The two aboard the König Pseudo-Drach did not see the giant explosion behind them.
They simply heard the extended rumbling and noted a slight ripple in the clouds surrounding them.
They were more focused on the two crafts up ahead.
The one in the lead was the Sylphide which continued to fly even with its armor stripped away.
The one in pursuit was the Silber. The König Pseudo-Drach ascended and gave a scream of acceleration after arriving behind the Silber. It used the Silber’s shockwave buffering field to assist its movement.
The air shook and the sky gradually grew darker.
The three crafts soared through the night.
There was nothing but ocean to see below. They were in the northern sea near the North Pole.
Just as that ocean grew fully dark, the Silber began to change course. It tilted its nose somewhat upwards to ascend. The two in the König Pseudo-Drach adjusted their course in the same way, turning to look up into the thick clouds overhead.
A transmission reached them.
“There is snow falling near the pole. That will hinder our engines, so we will move above the clouds. After that, it will take almost 3 minutes to reach the pole area. The Silber will take the lead until then.”
“Excellent work, Bermark.”
“No, it is just that the Silber was not designed to make a vertical ascent. Plus, the task of killing Sir Marsch is too much of a burden for me.”
Bermark fell silent there and Schweitzer eventually spoke in a vanishingly quiet voice.
“If Marsch did set all this up to singlehandedly fulfill the conditions needed to create the Messiah, does it mean he had not given up on us and he was in fact working to help Germany?”
“Most likely. He was badly injured and knew he couldn’t fully control the Sylphide’s mind, but he took the gamble anyway. His pride as a creator told him the activated Sylphide would search out the Messiah implant, take it into itself in order to evolve, and thus create the true Messiah.” Berger took a breath. “But the Sylphide doesn’t need a pilot and is guided by its mechanical instincts and mission, so it’s trying to fly into space. That’s why Marsch sent me the 9th Section of the Ruling King needed to create the Messiah.”
“Even though the prophecy’s fulfilment might have originally been meant to take a different form?”
“Marsch probably thought the same thing, but he chose this destiny instead. He chose this destiny where the Sylphide is forced to sacrifice itself and either I or that girl has to see it through to the end.”
“Was Marsch’s will already inside the Sylphide when it was hit by the military’s Nein Ton rounds? Did he intentionally let that happen so it would fall apart like this?”
Berger narrowed his eyes and wordlessly tapped on the seat in front of him.
Schweitzer accelerated as if in response.
The König Pseudo-Drach ascended and Bermark’s voice arrived over the communicator again.
“We have the Sylphide on our radar. Hard to say if it will fall apart first or reach outer space first.”
The clouds approached from above like fog. They flew right into them.
Their vision was dyed white.
The air was more frozen than simply cold, so small particles flew into them. The white fog was too thick to breathe, but they plowed through it anyway.
Then their view grew pitch black. They had burst through the top of the clouds.
They could once more see the Silber’s stern up ahead.
The König Pseudo-Drach rolled to the right and shimmering heat burst from its rear as it moved up alongside the Silber.
“Continue on ahead,” said Bermark. “Please hurry, Lieutenant.”
Berger gave acknowledgment and Schweitzer expressed his appreciation.
Then Berger sank deep in his seat and looked up into the sky.
The stars twinkled coldly in the vast empty sky.
He wrapped his remaining right arm around himself and muttered a name.
The wind blew and there was no response, but he continued anyway.
“I’m on my way to see your answer, Hazel Mirildorf.”
This time he received an unexpected response.
“Why do you want to know my answer that badly!?”
“That’s an easy one. Because the rest of us have too much blood on our hands to give an answer. So…”
He was cut off by Bermark’s voice over the communicator.
“The Sylphide is incoming! From directly below us!!”
The clouds burst apart and the blue blade of a craft flew out.
It was basically right on top of them.
“Schweitzer!!” shouted Berger.
“It is already in ascent position!!”
The König Pseudo-Drach let its rear slide with downwards inertia while the nose turned up. It also forcibly slid to the side and made a wide turn to rid itself of its forward momentum.
Then it ascended. The Sylphide was there only about 200 yards ahead of them.
It felt close enough to reach out and touch it.
“Its acceleration is incredible!”
Schweitzer was correct.
The König Pseudo-Drach boasted the greatest speed in the German military, but the Sylphide was ascending just as quickly.
The ocean was behind them, an expanse of clouds stretched endlessly on either side of them, and the dark heavens full of nothing but stars awaited out ahead.
The Sylphide soared upwards as if attempting to tear a hole in the dark heavens above.
“That thing is desperate to get up there.”
Before Berger was even done speaking, a shining substance scattered behind the Sylphide.
By the time he realized it was armor, it had already fallen past them.
He maintained his calm tone even in the pressure of their acceleration.
“It’s falling apart. This is its final flight.”
“Dog!” shouted Hazel over the communicator. “Are you chasing after it!?”
“Yeah, I’ll be in arm’s reach soon. Shall I grab your butt to prove it?”
“Please stop! It’s no use chasing after it, so stop!”
He shook his head, but her shouting continued since she could not see that.
“It’s no use. No matter where I go, no one can…”
Her voice faded away and he cut her off with a shout.
“Is giving up and dying your answer? I’ve head enough of your childish complaints, Hazel!” He laughed. “Did you ever bring these objections to your dad – to Oscar Mirildorf? Outside your dreams, that is!?”
He distinctly heard her gasp over the communicator and he touched the pendant hanging from his neck as he continued.
“Let’s leave this place, Hazel. I’m sure your dad will welcome you. He hasn’t abandoned you! …Or do you want to die with the Sylphide here!?”
“I don’t. But…”
“But how are you going to stop this craft!? He protects me because he needs my eye! And he’s only ever been used by people, just like me!”
“That isn’t an issue. Even if the Sylphide needs you…”
He tried to say more, but his lips came to a stop. He erased it all with a bitter smile.
She soon protested.
“Dog!! Why!? Why are you so insistent on this? I…”
“The thing is, there’s one thing I’m the very best in the world at: doing everything I can to avoid having to take responsibility for something later on.”
“Have you been that way since that day 2 years ago when Eryngium died!?”
The König Pseudo-Drach slowed its acceleration when she asked that.
Berger immediately kicked at the seat in front of him, but the acceleration did not return.
Just then, a power conduit fell from above and grazed the König Pseudo-Drach.
They pursued the Sylphide without accelerating. A voice reached Berger from that somewhat distant craft.
“Dog! Please tell me why you’re the only one trying to get me out of here. Why do you keep rebuking me and telling me to leave instead of closing me up somewhere like everyone else is trying to do?”
“Because I made a promise.”
“Your promise to Eryngium? Can’t you tell me what that was?”
“I can’t. Because it was a personal thing.”
He spat out the words while kicking on the front seat again.
But Schweitzer still did not accelerate.
Instead, he spoke.
“Long ago, when the Heidengeist Messiah was unsure if she should use her power for the people, she was visited by a human youth with a divine name who persuaded her with a single statement.”
This made Berger quickly sit up and try to stop the man’s words.
“And 3 years ago, a certain woman made a special promise with Berger that she did not make with the rest of us.”
But he could not stop it in time.
Schweitzer’s voice rang in the slight silence of their slowed acceleration.
“Let us fulfill the prophecy here. …She had Berger promise one simple thing.” He took a breath. “To remain true to himself.”
Hazel looked up from the navigator’s seat.
She could see the night sky out the window in front of her.
But that window slowly vanished from view. Her vision was being taken from her.
It happened quickly and that eloquently stated that the Sylphide had begun accelerating in earnest.
<The Wind blows through the night sky.>
But she managed to undo her four-point belt by touch alone.
She could hear a voice from the communicator. Berger’s voice.
“Now that you’ve heard that, you’ll have to do this without my help, Hazel. Can you hear me?”
“Then never again whine like an abandoned cat!!”
She sprang to her feet.
Her vision only showed her the night sky, but her vision was not the whole of her existence. Her real senses told her that her feet were standing on the cockpit’s floor.
What she could not see was the true reality.
She spoke quietly while reaching into her shirt’s breast pocket.
The knife she had used at breakfast was there.
“Please go on alone.”
With that, she held the knife in a backhand grip.
And after a single breath, she plunged the blade into her own right eye.
Just as Hazel shouted those words, the Sylphide’s speed dropped up ahead of the König Pseudo-Drach.
The two men inside chose that moment to accelerate.
“Well done, Hazel Mirildorf!!” shouted Schweitzer with his hand on the control column.
He called her name and Berger nodded while leaning out from the cockpit and raising his own voice.
“Destiny is something you reach out and grab for yourself!”
“Come, Hazel Mirildorf! The destiny before you is one of neither death nor subjugation!”
“This was different from two years ago,” commented Schweitzer.
“Damn right it was. Hazel didn’t choose death and she didn’t rely on us either!”
“That last point is frankly a disappointment.”
With that, Schweitzer continued accelerating.
She cut out her eye.
The sound of fibers being cut rang directly in her ears and she initially felt like something was sticking into her brain.
There was pain.
Pain filled her right eye before tearing through her entire head.
But she did not scream and she pulled the knife out before throwing it away.
She ignored the metallic clunk behind her and looked forward with her left eye while holding her right eye.
She saw the control panel in front of her. Her vision had returned.
She took a breath.
Blood spurted from her right eye and dripped down in time with her pulse, but she ignored that as she removed her bloody hand from the eye and placed both hands on the control panel.
“I’m sorry! One day…once I can use this power – our power – as it’s meant to be used, I will come to you as a Messiah who isn’t being used by anyone and I won’t run away.” She coughed. “So…so please go on alone for now. Please.”
Blood dripped from her right eye onto the control panel and splattered there.
The pain was excruciating but intermittent.
However, she saw something odd through the window when she looked up with her left eye.
The night sky had come to a stop.
The Sylphide was no longer moving.
Speechless, she heard a sound like splitting wood behind her.
She looked back to find the cockpit’s rear wall had opened and the wind was blowing in. Fog instantly filled the cockpit and her one-eyed vision grew white.
“You’re letting me leave?”
<The Wind watches over the Messiah.>
The air conditioning turned on full blast to blow away the cold wind. It was warmly sending her outside.
She lowered her eyebrows somewhat but forced a smile.
She looked to the photo and bracelet on the control panel.
After some brief hesitation, she undid the bandanna tying her hair back and grabbed the photo and bracelet in her other hand. She wrapped them in the bandanna while making sure not to stain them with her bloody hand.
With the bandanna containing them like an envelope, she placed them back on the control panel.
“I will be back someday.”
With that, she turned around. That was the end of it.
She did not look back. She ran toward the back wall.
She ran outside.
The sounds of splitting metal came from all over the craft as if pursuing her footsteps.
The Sylphide was breaking apart.
The König Pseudo-Drach slowly circled around the Sylphide which had come to a stop in midair with its nose pointed upwards, so it easily caught the girl who left the Sylphide.
The one-armed Heidengeist youth in a black coat caught the Heidengeist girl who jumped down from midair.
He gently held the one-eyed girl while standing on the back of the gliding König Pseudo-Drach.
Hazel looked up while Berger wrapped her in his coat.
She saw that blue blade of a craft in the night sky.
It began accelerating even as it scattered parts. It instantly brushed aside a film of water vapor as it broke the sound barrier. It unleashed a roar and left behind a white dragon-like trail as it grew smaller and smaller in her vision. The light spraying in the sky had to be the Sylphide’s parts.
“Go for it.”
That was all she could say while narrowing her eyes.
Then she saw a small explosion in the direction of the north star at the peak of the northern sky.
The Sylphide had been destroyed.
That light briefly lit up the sky and those looking up at it.
Hazel’s voice caught in her throat, but Berger spoke to her.
“Keep watching to the end.”
Before he was even done speaking, she heard the roar of the explosion descending from the sky and…
<The Wind will tear open the heavens.>
Orbs of light burst from the site of the explosion.
There were five in all. They were brighter than the stars but far smaller and they flew forcefully in different directions before vanishing.
“It cast off its shell of wind to return home,” said Berger.
Hazel nodded. The wind blew and she belatedly shivered from the cold. Her eye turned toward the König Pseudo-Drach’s cockpit.
It was meant for two.
She looked up to ask him if three would really fit and found his face right there.
Before she could even question it, he stole her lips.
She panicked and her heart raced even in the cold.
A moment later, there was a small explosion of air and water vapor scattered in every direction to reveal her Flektieren.
Her cat form and her clothes fell onto the König Pseudo-Drach’s back and Berger picked them both up in one hand.
Schweitzer looked back from the cockpit as if to tell them to settle down.
“You see, she turns into a cat when she’s tired or whatever,” explained Berger. “But this thing’s only made for two, so that works out.”
Hazel immediately bit his hand hard and a yelp left his mouth.
Schweitzer frowned at the commotion but also tilted the control column forward.
The end of the cloudy ocean came into view where the moon was visible low in the sky.
“The prophecy, hm?” Schweitzer looked back to Berger and cat Hazel. “Two half-humans makes one full one, I suppose.”
He sang the Text to himself.
The one-armed youth holds the Messiah
The moonlit pair returns to the earth
The dragons gather and dance tonight
Every last thing returns home
“The Messiah implant was destroyed by this girl, but was the prophecy fulfilled? What does that mean, Schweitzer? Is this good enough for Hazel to become the Messiah who will save Germany?”
“I do not know. But the prophecy was fulfilled.”
“No, not yet, Schweitzer,” corrected Berger. “Hazel still has to return home, but where is that home? It’s not in Germany. You need to follow your leader’s orders and fulfill the prophecy.”
“That is an awful excuse, one-armed one.”
With that, Schweitzer faced forward and leaned the control column over even more.
They began to descend and the Silber caught up with them and flew alongside them.
The colors of the night were all that remained in the sky.
Final Chapter: The Wind Arrives
01/05/1938 03:10 – 03:17
The true beginning is yet to come.
The beginning of the words
Of the illusions
And of the reality
Starlight fell on a chilly night.
Hazel stood alone in front of Zurich Station in northern Switzerland.
Her hair was groomed, she wore a shirt, skirt, and coat, and she held a travel bag.
She silently viewed her surroundings. The large roundabout was cold and deserted and the shopping district across the road was entirely dark. The clock on the roof of the 2-story station building told her it was currently 3:10 in the morning.
No trains were running at this hour.
She stood alone, waiting for someone.
She suddenly pulled a letter from her pocket.
“So it’s been about 2 hours since I was dumped across the border with some money and this guide.”
Her right eye still had a scar on the eyelid, but there was a blue human eye within.
The blue eye did not dilate as she focused on things. She could not actually see with it.
But she turned both eyes toward the station’s clock and silently watched it.
The long hand had just moved.
She hesitated for a moment.
Just then, a car drove up the road in front of the station. She did not recognize it, but her expression changed when she saw the driver through the windshield.
Joy filled her face, but she lowered her head long enough to erase that and then looked up again.
After another pause, she no longer hesitated to smile.
She began walking instead of just waiting for the car to approach.
She walked forward.
The wind suddenly blew as if to accompany her.
It was a powerful gust that rattled the station’s windows.
The wind brushed across her cheek as it roared by.
She knew the name of that powerful wind surrounding her.
She spoke that word and stopped walking.
Her skirt fluttered and she turned around to look up into the night sky.
She saw the north star shining at the peak of the northern sky.
The car came to a stop behind her.
She heard the door open and close, but she did not look back. She continued staring up into the northern sky.
A deep and familiar male voice reached her from behind.
“Sorry I’m late, Hazel.”
He spoke to her and slowly – almost cautiously – hugged her from behind, but still she did not turn around.
She only looked up into the night sky.
She stared and stared.
The voice behind her guessed the reason why.
“Are you crying?”
She did not answer that question, but there were tears running down her face. But only from her right blue eye.
She dropped her bag and tearfully raised her voice while still looking into the sky.
“The Wind is blowing!”
Her tears would not stop.
She cried on and on in the blowing wind while staring at the north star.
Tears fell from her right eye as she told herself she would eventually travel there again.
The German government declared itself to be the Greater Germanic Reich and swore it would develop the nation without allowing any foreign interference.
The Panzerpolis Project was also revealed then and a fixation of pure blood spread quickly throughout the German people. However, that project was no mere symbol and its details were widely spread by the schools and other public institutions.
Meanwhile, the Geheimnis Agency remained hidden and it was all carried out as a national project led by the government.
Thus began the answer that binds humanity, steel, and even time.
1/10/2000. On the night a certain girl once wept.
Someone once gave me a suggestion.
“I think it’s about time you wrote a City novel for beginners. In fact, just do it.”
I responded like I was a high school girl. (Well, a bad and outdated imitation of one.)
“Yeah, so, like, Berlin or whatever? That sounds hella rad.”
“Never do that again. So will you consider writing one? By which I mean, go write one.”
“Fine, I’ll make a Berlin one.”
And so now we have Berlin as the start of the series’ second season.
Since this is the 1st City, I wanted to make sure you could start reading here, so I included explainers for the important terminology and went with brand new characters. In general, I guess I wanted this to be a version of the City Series you could just pick up and read. (I got less and less confident about that as I was writing it.)
Also, the world of the City Series is based on the idea that “anything goes”, so it has some unique aspects that differ from the real world and its history. Please keep that in mind.
This story follows the hidden side of a Berlin that exists in something like a fairy tale world.
So anyway, this is the beginning of the second season. It feels like it took me forever to reach this point, but it’s thanks to all of your support. Thank you so much.
Now to call a friend like usual.
“It’s finally your turn, H-kun. If there’s anything you want to say, then say it.”
“Okay, then what’s with the 8-year age gap? Doing lewd things with a 15-year-old girl is a bit much even for me.”
“Nothing like that is going to happen. I’m not writing this in my usual way…I think.”
“Yeah, a likely story. I don’t trust you.”
“Can we just move away from that topic please?”
“Hmph, fine. T filled this section with jokes, so got any good ones?”
“Okay, see you next week. Thanks for your time.”
“Wow, that was a really forced way to end this. I’m impressed.”
Oh, shut up.
Let’s forget all about that by providing a few URLs to the cutting-edge internet. (Well, maybe it’s not so cutting edge anymore.)
- Tenky (Where I work and the company that made the Osaka game) Homepage: http://tenky.co.jp/
- My Homepage (updated rarely): http://www.din.or.jp/~arm/
- Illustrator Satoyasu’s Homepage: http://www.din.or.jp/~fnitt/
My site is generally where I’ll put any information about City or post random thoughts or ideas, so stop by if you feel like it.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (the fourth movement is really exhilarating, isn’t it?) might make for good background music this time. Performed by the Berlin Phil if I I’m being greedy.
And with that, I’ll think on this question:
“Whose answer was found?”
Okay, the next one will be Berlin again.
February 2000. A morning exploding in allergies.
This might be sudden, but I like Schweitzer. I like his character and I just like how his name sounds.
Is that really how you pronounce Hazel? Weird.
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