City Series:Volume6a Prologue
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.
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