City Series:Volume6a Chapter6
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.
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