City Series:Volume6b Chapter4

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Chapter 4: The Wheel Accelerates[edit]

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07/28/1939 09:11 – 20:18

We have a future because we have a past

But some people hide their past

Do I do that?

Or can I coexist with my past?

World War One[edit]

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A European war that began in 1912 with the assassination of an Austrian Archduke and ended in 1919. The most notable features of the war were the conscription of ordinary citizens for international war, the largescale battles, and the many new weapons introduced to the battlefield. A soldier no longer needed to be a great warrior to slaughter great numbers in war.

Germany’s forces were focused on Panzers, but they were pushed back by the organized destructive power of tanks, fighter craft, machineguns, and field guns. They were forced to reconsider what armaments they used and the Panzer Kavaliers lost their prestige. Influenced by the Russian Revolution that occurred during the war, a coup d’état broke out among the soldiers and the rise of the ordinary citizens led to division and the ultimate end of the war.

As the commander in chief and a symbol of the old order, Kaiser Wilhelm II feared a reprisal from the ordinary citizens after the war, so he fled the country in what is known as the Emperor’s Exile.

Part 1[edit]

Mornings began early in a hospital.

That was especially true for Munich’s central hospital. By 9AM, the inpatients had all finished their breakfast and the outpatients became the main focus.

The hospital was made from five 4-story buildings measuring 100 yards long, so the interior was much like a labyrinth.

The hallways were built wide to allow rolling beds to pass each other and the windows were large to let in plenty of natural light, so this massive multilayer labyrinth was designed with healing in mind.

Three sets of footsteps rang loud through the hallway filled with older patients and doctors.

The one walking in the lead was Bermark Vier, a pencil of a man with a relaxed expression and the black coat of the Geheimnis Agency. Two enormous men walked behind him.

The bald one with a fully prosthetic body below the black coat was Graham Karlsruhe.

Walking behind Graham’s clanking metal feet was Schweitzer. He held his removed coat and his eyes took in his surroundings as he walked.

The large window to their right showed a courtyard surrounded by hospital buildings on all sides.

The courtyard contained a grassy lawn and black cedars chosen for the amount of sunlight the area received. A few patients were walking through it, chatting pleasantly.

Schweitzer heard Graham’s voice while he viewed the courtyard.

“Lieutenant, how do you like the hospital your father protected?”

“He did not protect this hospital,” plainly stated Schweitzer. “From what I heard, he allowed most of the patients to escape but failed to hold back the rioters and was killed.”

“Keep your head up, Lieutenant. I can hear your voice sinking.” Graham did not look back. “Your job today is to protect me. Do not forget that.”

“Yes, sir.”

After the briefest of pauses, Schweitzer picked up his pace. An old woman among the patients saluted the three of them and he nodded back before moving on ahead.

Graham met his increased pace with words.

“My memories tell me your father destroyed the empty hospital to create a barrier and even smashed the earth below it to protect the people. He fought the rioters, but he refused to use any weapons and killed none of them.”


“Among the patients he protected were a woman of the Naylor family that would go on to lead the Geheimnis Agency, and my own sister Rose.”

Schweitzer kept his legs moving as he listened.

“I no longer possess emotions, but I still sense the necessity of that act. You have my thanks, heir of Schweitzer.”

“You honor me.”

He bowed and raised his head again to see Bermark taking a left turn at the intersection of halls up ahead. That took them away from the sunny courtyard.

“It appears Lieutenant General Heiliger has already arrived,” said Bermark.

Graham nodded and followed, his prosthetic feet clanking on the tiled floor.

“Bermark, I heard Heiliger accompanied you as far as the HQ. Did my brother-”

“You will meet him shortly. It is a shame that your positions prevent you from meeting anywhere other than this.”

“The relationship between the Geheimnis Agency, the government, and the military is exceedingly complex.”

“Only because the current age demanded it. After the war, the Geheimnis Agency was created with a Naylor family Sofort Leser in the lead and with you as one of its Fünf Leithammel. …Lieutenant General Heiliger accepted his position as an intermediary between the Geheimnis Agency and both the government and military, so he relinquished his position as a Neue Kavalier, married a Heidengeist, and enlisted in the military.”

Graham said nothing, so only Bermark’s emotionless voice filled the hallway.

“Someone like him is necessary to bridge the gap between the Neue Kavaliers of the Geheimnis Agency and the common citizens of the government and military. If not for him, someone else would have taken the position.”

“Bermark, I detect no emotion in your explanation.”

“How can you understand emotion with that Psyche Outer device installed?”

“If your explanation contained emotion, I would find it incomprehensible.” Graham explained. “Now, Bermark, the Lieutenant told me on the ride here that you had an emotional response to the Messiah girl, Hazel Mirildorf. Was that because she is your future master?”

“She was polite with me and I merely returned the favor.”

The hallway came to an end up ahead. The great metal door there covered the full width of the hallway.

Schweitzer watched as Bermark turned around.

Then Bermark took a step aside, toward the wall.

A pair of metallic feet clanked forward to take his place.

It was Graham.

He faced the massive metal door with his back to Schweitzer.

“This land is near the Black Forest, where Germany had its true beginning a thousand years ago. The Unreif Germane tells us the Messiah and the divinely-named one-armed young man were served by four Neue Kavaliers: Naylor, Karlsruhe, Borderson, and Maldrick.”

Schweitzer nodded. You could find that information in children’s picture books.

But Graham was not done.

“My ancestor, Karlsruhe, made a demand in return for his service: a way to save this land from the Word Plague that ran rampant at the time. This and the Neuschwanstein hospital you saved are remnants of that.”


“At Neuschwanstein, they built a lab for creating prosthetic parts like my brother’s Tragisch. Here at Munich, they built a cold storage facility to preserve terminal Word Plague patients.”

Schweitzer frowned at that. The words pushed out from his mouth.

“How did they have such advanced technology back then?”

“I do not know. Perhaps it was a remnant of the Obstacle Era and perhaps it was Ober Geheimnis. But now that we know how to cure the Word Plague, the facility has been given a different use.”

Graham coughed. It was a quiet cough, but it came from deep in the lungs. He forced it down with a breath and reached his right hand to the door.

“Many of my Karlsruhe bloodline come down with this disease. Not even taking a prosthetic body is enough to fully suppress Words Warn, so the patients are preserved here.”

Then the door moved. Upwards.

“Behold that which your father protected, Lieutenant.”

The rising door revealed a stairway leading down into a black abyss void of light.

Part 2[edit]

They descended the long, dark stairway.

Schweitzer could not see, but he did hear a door opening ahead of him and closing behind him a few times along the way.

They said nothing and time seemed to lose all meaning.



The feel of the air suddenly changed.

He looked up to find the ceiling was much further overhead. Even in the darkness, he could tell they had entered a large hall.

“Where are we?” he asked, noting the border between the hallway and hall ceiling. The hall had a diameter of around 20 yards and the edge of the ceiling was installed with a box containing giant metal shutters.

Someone had opened the door while keeping the hall dark.

And then…

“Good to see you again, my dear bigger brother,” said a soprano voice. “A year is much too long.”



The hall filled with light.

White marble walls reflected the ceiling lights to illuminate everything.

The floor contained an orderly arrangement of 2-yard holes filled with water and two people stood in the very center of the hall.

One was Heiliger Karlsruhe, an enormous man in a German Air Force uniform with prosthetic arms.

The other was a fair-skinned girl. Her skin, the gentle waves of her long hair, and her dress were all a bright white. The only other color was the blue of her smiling eyes.

Schweitzer gasped when he saw her.

His lips moved to form a name, but his voice never came.

Whether or not she noticed how he felt, she made a sound of her own.

She ran forward, albeit slowly. With the delicate gait and pace of a girl in her early teens, her feet lightly slapped the floor to rush past Bermark and reach Graham.

She did not stop.

He did not even crouch or bend over to catch her.

“I’ve been waiting for two hours, so I was just telling my big brother that I thought you weren’t coming!”

“Did you think we had reversed the usual arrangement, where I visit you and Heiliger remains at the HQ?”

“Yes, yes. I did. But…”

She glanced back toward Heiliger before looking up at Graham once more.

“I thought you might have gotten into another fight. I’m glad to see I was wrong. If only Alfred hadn’t said that last year.”

Schweitzer reacted to that with raised eyebrows and a question.


“Yes, he has visited me for the past three years. He is so skilled and my bigger brother favors him. Once I met him, I took a liking to him as well.”

She poked her head out around Graham to view Schweitzer as she spoke.

She made no attempt to hide the unease on her face.

“Who are you?”

Heiliger’s response boomed through the hall.

“He is Hellard Schweitzer, son of the Schweitzer who protected you here 20 years ago. He has inherited the Titel of Schallmauer Zerstörer.”

Her face lit up when she heard that.

“Oh,” she smiled. “You’re that child who never even cried at his funeral!”


She stepped out from behind Graham and ran over to Schweitzer.

She crouched, grabbed the frilly hem of her dress, and curtsied.

“I am Rose Karlsruhe, eldest daughter of the Karlsruhe family.” She straightened up, widened her somewhat narrow eyes, and looked up at him with a smile. “Incredible! I doubt you remember since it was 20 years ago for you, but it was only a month ago for me. Hard to believe such a small child grew up to be so big!”

She took his biological hand in her left hand.

“Thank you so much! Your father saved us all!”

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She swept her right hand to the side and pointed at the white glowing wall before twirling.

“Can you see it? You can, can’t you, Schallmauer Zerstörer? When your father protected this place, Lady Naylor and I were in here, but…but that’s not all!”

The wall she pointed to reflected the light in a complex way.

Something was carved there.

“Those are the names and the legacies of those who went to sleep here a thousand years ago and eventually awoke.” Rose took her eyes off of Schweitzer to view the wall just like he was. “Do you understand? These carvings are not just art; they are blueprints. The knowledge of those who slept here for centuries will occasionally become the Ober Geheimnis of the age in which they awaken. They leave their past knowledge here and then depart to live in that age.” A breath. “It is said England’s god created a fount of knowledge in heaven, but this is the same! All of the knowledge that has supported Germany can be found here!”

“Unfortunately, most of it either cannot be understood or cannot be reproduced with our current level of technology,” said Graham.

Schweitzer sighed.

“Are you saying my father protected Germany from the leakage and destruction of all this knowledge?” His head rose in sudden realization. “Wait, did Marsch know about this?”

“He visited here once at the request of Development Division Chief Elrich. It is impossible to know what he learned here, but his results afterwards were impressive.”

Schweitzer nodded and looked down at Der Held.

A slight frown twisted his face.

Just then, he felt a tug on his left hand. By Rose. She was tugging on it with both her delicate hands. Urging him toward the hallway – to leave this place.

“Let’s go, my brothers. You too, Lieutenant. Today is such an important day. It is the one day a year I am awake and can spend time with everyone. And the one day I can see how Nibelung, the Wheel of Ruin is turning.”

“The Wheel of…Ruin?”

Rose did not answer his question, but she did continue with a smile.

“Today is the day I learn whether I will gain a new body or if this one will be destroyed. But through that, I also learn if Nibelung has begun to turn! And…” She looked up at him. “I just know it will be an important day for the Schallmauer Zerstörer and the Kaiser Schwert!”

She tugged on his hand and began walking, but he looked back behind him.

Graham had begun to walk and Bermark followed.

Past those two, Heiliger alone remained where he was.


Schweitzer looked away from him to view the hall instead.

The engravings on the wall shined in the bright lights from the ceiling.

He viewed the reflection of all that precious knowledge that still kept so many secrets from them.

Part 3[edit]

The sky above was a bright blue.

The ground below was covered by a dark cedar forest.

A deserted road ran through the center of the forest.

Roads around the country had been reinforced while the autobahn was constructed. The road signs depicted tanks or military trucks and they all provided the maximum weight for the bridges over the rivers.

Follow this north-south road to the mountainous region to the south and you would arrive in Munich.

On the way south, the slope became more apparent, the rivers narrower, and the road signs fewer and farther between.

The scenery also changed. Once at Nuremburg, less than 60 miles from Munich, the area was entirely taken over by forest. The road crossed an endless series of gentle hills surrounded by dark cedars.

The air was fresh, the road was wide, and route was straight.

The dark asphalt stretched endlessly through the black and green of the forest.

A single motorcycle drove along that strip of pavement. The 750cc BMW had a sidecar attached and Berger sat in the driver’s seat wearing a black coat. He wore no helmet and he no longer had a glove on his left hand. The new prosthetic arm had a noticeable metallic glint.

Hazel rubbed her eyes sleepily inside the sidecar attached on the right.

Their speed created considerable wind.

She tightened her collar and held her left shoulder.

The blanket slipped down to the seat, so she had to hold it in place.

She looked over and up at Berger while the moving motorcycle shook.

“Good morning. Um, what time is it?”

“There’s a clock under your seat,” he replied without taking his eyes off the road.

Her shoulders drooped at his answer, but she still reached her right hand below the seat.

“There’s an awful lot of trash under here.”

“Of course there is. That’s my trashcan. After I eat or have some other trash, I chuck it in there. I might not look it, but I like to take good care of nature.”

“Th-then, um, uh, what is this stickiness I feel down here?”

Her face stiffened and she pulled her hand out with something dark on her fingers.


“Don’t scream, idiot. That’s just oil. For the seat’s springs.”

He laughed and she looked up to see him remove his left hand from the handlebar and pull out a pocket watch.


He nodded and returned it to his pocket.

“A watch,” she muttered after watching the process play out. “Um, but you said…”

“I never said I didn’t have one too.”

“You’re mean.”

“So you’ve told me. Kids don’t have a wide vocabulary. If you want to sound grown up, find something else to call me.”

She pulled a paper handkerchief from her breast pocket, wiped her hand with it, and draped the blanket over the seat and floor. Then she glanced over at Berger again.

“You really aren’t very nice, you know?”

“Oh? That’s different at least. Keep it up.”

“Then I will. You don’t look away when I’m naked and you didn’t try to help me. You really are awful. How can you stay so calm when someone needs help?”

“You think I want to see some flat-chested kid? Listen, Hazel. A boring body is like meat that won’t sell at the butcher. There’s no point in covering it up and it’s not worth buying. Remember that.”

“Th-then what? I just need a bigger chest?”

“Don’t simplify, Hazel Mirildorf. The issue is more complex than that. Are you willing to say that a large and hairy chest is best?”

She gave that some serious thought before responding.

“Oh, I have my fur when I’m a cat, so I actually have that.”

“Um…why do you sound so delighted?”

He sounded annoyed and she could see yellowish Tons surrounding him.

Is he enjoying this?

The Tons soon disappeared, leaving her no way of determining what they meant. She sighed.

“I swear I’m not letting you see me naked next time we meet. And you had better not complain about it.”

“Sure thing, fräulein. I hope we do get to see each other again.”

His casual tone was a relief.


That was what they called her at her school in America. She just about lost herself in thought about that, but she shook her head.



You saw me naked and didn’t try to help me, so…

“Why did you come back last night?”

“When I checked your luggage, I found something odd mixed in with the tragically small underwear: three test tubes. I wanted to ask you what you were doing with those here in Germany.”

“R-really? That’s really the only reason you came back?”

“Do you think I’d tell you if it wasn’t, Hazel?”

He kept a straight face and she had no rebuttal. Instead, she thought for a bit and filled the silence with a different question.

“Have you been driving this entire time? We’re almost to Munich, aren’t we?”

“We’re making a one-night trip from Berlin to Munich and then west to Donaueschingen at the entrance of the Black Forest. That’s around 400 miles and we have 210 miles to go. It’s a pretty insane distance to try to drive so quickly.”

Realizing her alternate question had not been much better, her shoulders drooped.


“Don’t sweat it, Hazel. I’m the only one that old upperclassman of mine gives these absurd tasks to. The official AIF force led by ‘Hardest Wolf’ Pale Horse is preparing for its first mission, yet that guy calls in a hired hand like me without giving me any training. …Because he knows I can handle it.”


“But nothing, Hazel. If your apologies can make the motorcycle move faster, then keep it up.” He laughed bitterly. “Then again, the coins I was gonna give you are paying for this trip, so in a way, you really saved my ass here.”

“What coins?”

“The innkeeper gave me some imperial coins when we parted ways at Leipzig, remember? He was actually supposed to give them to you when you reached France. They were to fund your vacation in the Closed City.”

“Why…to me?”

He smiled.

“So you can dress up some. Why did cut you that pretty hair of yours? And why do you always look so tense? Were the American kids at your new school bullying you?”

He kept smiling.

“Unlike two years ago, I think it’s my turn to ask. Hazel, what do you want to be?”

“You already know that. I want to learn Tuning or Busting.”

“No, you don’t. That wasn’t what you wanted before you met Sylphide and before you got that brand on your shoulder, was it?”

She hesitated to respond, but she finally shook her head with her shoulders tensed.

“No…it wasn’t.”

“Listen, Hazel. Hazel Mirildorf. You’re a normal girl living in America. The Messiah still isn’t working because you don’t need that power anymore. Think of that as a lucky break.” He sighed. “You can go back to who you used to be. Abandon all that Tune-Bust stuff. …Or do you want to fight in a war?”

“But I…I didn’t want to run away two years ago. And like I said last night, I want to do something. My father is against it, but you, my teacher, and everyone else are working so hard.”

“You need more than words, Hazel. You failed to deliver a single letter and you’re a target. You can’t just fall back on ‘wanting to do something’.”

“But, but…not running away means to fight and to fight means for someone to die, doesn’t it? Then I want to do something…something else.”

“Childish idealism.” The words silenced her. “Remember this, Hazel. You can’t just want to do something. You’re free to want to save someone or to kill someone, but you need more than that.”

“What is it I lack?”

“See, you don’t even know what you need. If you did, last night wouldn’t have happened. They kneeled before you and you had no idea what to do. …You just didn’t want to run away, but you didn’t fight either. Did you accomplish anything else from that?”


A new thought came to her, carrying regret, but it was cut off by his quiet laughter.

“Still, you did better than 2 years ago where you just let them take you away. …The Geheimnis Agency is pretty scary, aren’t they? Most of those Neue Kavaliers are mindless drones who let their master do all the thinking. That you found that frightening means-” He stopped there. “Forget it. Wouldn’t want to give you an ego.”

He twisted the accelerator as the road crossed a hill and began a short descent.

She pressed her butt into the seat against the sensation of falling forward.

“Wh-what were you going to say that would give me an ego?”

The road sloped back upwards. The motorcycle was stable, so she placed her hands on the edge of the seat and looked up at him in the wind.

But he did not look back her way as he replied.

“Hazel. Knowing you, you’ll figure it out on your own eventually. You can get back to America, forget all about war, and take your time thinking through it. …Don’t try to rush it.”

She ducked down when she saw him twist the accelerator further.

Instead of wind, the acceleration felt more like a wall of air growing thicker and more powerful.

Spotting a bluish-white shimmer in the distant sky, some words pushed out from her mouth.

“The wind is coming.”

Then a gust blew in from the front, shaking the motorcycle. Berger leaned forward to push down on the handlebars.

Her sidecar floated up a bit, and…

“It’s ending.”

The wind vanished and the sidecar’s wheel contacted the road again. They continued onward.

He let out a sigh and looked her way for the first time since she woke up.

Her eyes met his and her heart pounded when she realized there was no smile or anything else in his eyes.


“Does your eye let you do that? The broken Messiah, I mean.”

“I think so. I must have learned the trick to reading wind Tons while I was with the Sylphide.”

“How strange. The Panzerpolis Project is nearing completion and last night suggests the Geheimnis Agents and some of the military can already use the Erklärung.” He sighed. “But you, the prophesied Messiah, can’t use it. All you can do is give a weather forecast.”

“A weather forecast? Um…”

“Head back to America, find yourself a husband, have 4 or 5 kids, and go hiking with your family. Or become a schoolteacher. That ability is best used on fieldtrips. Mountain weather is fickle, after all. Yes, you can be the PTA’s Field Trip Messiah.”

His casual suggestions made her stare for a bit, but then she sighed.

“Never mind. I’m going back to sleep. Wake me when we arrive, my canine driver.”

She shut her eyes and definitely heard him laugh.

She did not open her eyes again, but hear ears picked up the tempo of the Ton.

It was light, almost like the jingle of a small bell. It was quiet, but that meant he was trying to hide the Ton.

He never lets anything show.

She then spoke in English with her eyes still shut.

“Um, Mr. Berger? Are you listening?”

“What is it?”

“When I was taken from school 2 years ago, we were in the middle of writing down our plans for the future to turn in to our teacher.”

“Do you remember what you wrote?”

“I was taken away before I wrote mine. Because I had never really thought about my future and did not know what to write.

She tried to keep her tone cheerful, but he was not smiling when he responded.

“You’re pretty strait-laced. Something like a teacher might suit you pretty well.”

“You really think so?”

“It’s not my decision, Hazel. The entire point is for you to choose. If you manage that, there might be some hope for you after all.”

Then she heard him sing.

In the deep darkness of the Black Forest

Born from the abyss

The wheel emerges

It whips up the wind and speaks with the dragon
It reads the wind and weeps
It carries power in its hand and hesitates

That was the 3rd Section of Daily Life from the Unreif Germane.

He sang it smoothly, matching the tempo of the wind and the joy. Hazel smiled when she applied the lyrics and title to herself.

This time, she really did decide to go to sleep. There was so much she still did not know, but…

Unlike 2 years ago, the Tons tell me so much now.

She sank down into the seat with a sigh of relief and fell asleep once more.

The wind was blowing gently.

Part 4[edit]

The front lobby of the Geheimnis Agency HQ’s central building was wrapped in the stillness of evening.

The setting sun shined in through the skylight and large windows. With no one around, the white floor tiles were all colored scarlet.

The lobby was a 40-yard room with four stone pillars to hold up the tall ceiling. Sofas were placed around the base of the pillars and along the walls, but…

“Are you kidding me? I finish my Grösse Panzer’s test run and head back to get some sleep, but they put out an emergency summons?”

The voice came from the base of the southeast pillar.

Two people sat in the circular sofa there, awash with scarlet light: Alfred and Schweitzer.

Alfred leaned forward with his head in his hands.

“I use a plane to rush here from Base #8 in only 15 minutes, but now I have to wait?”

“I am waiting too, Alfred.” Schweitzer leaned back in the sofa, his head against the pillar. “I already met Lady Rose today, so what else could one day hold?”

“The first Gard-class being constructed at Base #8 goes into service a week from now, so maybe it’s a rehearsal celebration for that.”

“You do not rehearse celebrations. Besides, the celebration is not until the other seven being constructed elsewhere are complete.” Schweitzer looked up at the ceiling. “War is coming. Once the Panzerpolis Project is in effect, do you really think those Gard-class warships will become the foundation of our air defense?”

“The experimental Babel Kanone at Base #16 up north is ready for use and the Development Division in Berlin has proven the theory behind the city-defense Himmelsschild. With those two things, that impressive ship will prevent any country’s aerial warships and bombers from defiling Germany’s skies.”

“I heard it is an Eingeweide. Do you know who will be piloting it?”

“I know it isn’t you or me. To be honest, I can’t even guess. …Marsch developed the thing, right? Then I imagine it will be named after that disk Eryngium had.”

Schweitzer heard Alfred continue with a “but”.

“That would mean we were called here about something else.”

“So many questions. And I still haven’t even visited that dig site.”

“Do you know what they’ve been digging through the night to get at, Hellard?”

“The remains of P. Wagner’s lab. The military essentially built that lab to spite us and then the Kaizerburg was developed there.”

“What do they hope to accomplish digging that up? There might be some design documents, but we already developed the Sylphide. Granted, Marsch was not much for documentation, so we still can’t reproduce a lot of the parts. Still, we’ve recovered all the Sylphide’s components and we’ve started constructing a new and improved Eingeweide warship.”

Hearing that, Schweitzer crossed his arms. Der Held’s cylinders audibly worked to skillfully cross itself with his biological left arm in front of his chest.

“There are too many unknowns.” He kept his eyes on the ceiling. “Apparently those two would gather like this every year and I hear you were visiting Lady Rose with them. Did you not pick up on anything this could be about?”

“His Excellency gave me an independent unit, but that’s all he let me do. Did he or his aide tell you anything during your visit today?”

They exchanged a glance, but Alfred reached an answer in only a few seconds.

“I guess two incompetent fools who only know how to attack or defend can’t find the answer here.”


Schweitzer stood up after noticing Lowenzahn entering the lobby from the north hallway.

Her long, braided hair swayed as she pushed a silver cart of food.


He stood up and called her name.

She looked over, but she kept pushing the cart and only turned her head his way. She hopped up onto the bottom of the cart to ride its inertia.

Only then did she give him a businesslike wave.

“Sorry, Captain! I’m a little busy, so maybe later!”

She and the cart slid right on into the eastern hallway.


Her voice and a metallic crash echoed out from the hallway.

“She’s just as bland as she was three years ago,” said Alfred with his eyes on the hallway entrance.

“Describe her like food and she’s liable to kick you to the floor.”

She was on the way to the mess hall and Schweitzer could see Alfred still looking that way.

“I get that the mess is busy this time of day, Schweitzer, but is she always like that?”

“No, I’ve never seen her bring that thing out of the storeroom before.”

“I see,” said Alfred, standing up. He lifted Rein König from the sofa and pointed it toward the hallway Lowenzahn had used. “We should go check on her. And if she’s fine…” He thought for a moment. “We can grab a bite to eat.”

He started in that direction without even looking back.

Schweitzer shrugged in an exasperated way and followed after him. He was a head taller and had a longer stride, so he caught up quickly.

“Speaking of His Excellency’s sister, Lady Rose-”

“Reminds you of Eryngium, doesn’t she? Even if she has a different hair color and personality.” Alfred cut Schweitzer off. “That Messiah girl you met two years ago is a closer match for Eryngium’s personality. They both said they didn’t want to run away, right?”

Alfred’s tone was light, but Schweitzer noticed the man’s right hand was not moving as he walked. He was gripping Rein König so tight the hand had gone white.

Schweitzer lowered his head a little to hide a small smile.

But a moment later, it was gone. Once he raised his head, there was only strength on his face.

The enormous bearer of Der Held quickened his pace.

The two of them walked side by side as they entered the hallway.

The hallway was a little darker than the scarlet lobby.

The lobby’s somewhat warm air was replaced by a still and stagnant air.


“Sorry about the wait, you two.”

An almost fussily emotionless voice reached them from the center of the hallway.

They came to a stop and saw a pencil of a man standing 10 yards away in the hallway leading to the mess hall.

Bermark Vier stood aloofly in the hallway, the black of his coat apparent even in the dim light.

Finally, he gave a deep bow.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes,” said Schweitzer, but Alfred stepped forward before they could say more.

“Could you hurry it up?”

“This hallway to the left, please.”

“The left? But this hallway only leads straight to the mess. Right, Hellard?”

“Is that so?”

Bermark turned to his right and their left. There was indeed a hallway there. One the other two had never before seen.

Bermark’s voice seemed to ignore all of their thoughts.

“A castle always has its secrets.”

Alfred answered that with a quiet laugh.

He walked up to Bermark and Schweitzer followed a moment later.

“What will we find down there?” asked both men at once.

“Our leader’s office,” replied Bermark with no discernable expression. “The Naylor family Sofort Leser who runs our Geheimnis Agency has granted you an audience. She says the time has come to meet the two of you.”

Part 5[edit]

The land known as the Black Forest was of course black during the night.

Not just dark, but black. The sky above looked brighter.

Heidengeists and gods had once lived in that land and humans had needed to coexist with them to survive.

Paved roads now ran through that place and humans could come and go with some freedom.

Hazel was currently in the mountains a short distance from a mountain road that wound through that vast land.

Black was all she could see. The starlight from above was the only source of light.

That bluish-white starlight had to filter through the leaves overhead before it reached her, so she could only make out the faintest outlines of her surroundings.

She was lying at the base of a cedar tree.

She was in a sleeping bag, but she was not asleep.

The hard ground below her back was not helping there, but she had also napped during the day and it was too early for sleep.

“It was only 8 earlier, wasn’t it?”

“She stuck a hand out from the sleeping bag. It held the pocket watch she had borrowed from Berger.

She used her nails to open the cover and she gasped at the unexpectedly loud noise.

After a few seconds she glanced around (even though she could barely see) and sighed. Then she viewed the glow-in-the-dark clockface.


I could have sworn I’d been here for around two hours.

The forest’s night was entirely silent.

Her sense of time was entirely thrown off. She shut the pocket watch and rolled over onto her stomach. She propped herself up on her shoulders to look around. The new pose let her see something she had not seen while on her back.


Berger was sleeping there.

He was sleeping with his back against the trunk of the tree and his arms around a raised knee. He too had a sleeping bag, but it was half unzipped and only his lower legs were inside it. That way he could take action at a moment’s notice.

He did have his black coat over his shoulders to keep him warm.

The chest of the coat looked oddly bulky because he was holding Gelegenheit. He had removed his sunglasses and the exhaustion on his face was plain to see.

She only noticed how tired he looked now that the bluish-white starlight was shining down on him.

He was driving all night. No, for an entire day.

He had a mission: attack a Geheimnis Agency base and sink the aerial warship under construction there.

“The AIF…the world’s first independent military force funded only by corporate sponsors.”

She knew the AIF was the Antiwar Independent Force, a group with divisions around the world who swiftly and covertly dealt with any problems that might lead to international conflict.

They were still short on money and personnel. People she assumed were with the AIF often came to meet her father. Most of them were former German citizens and some had been women. She had caught bits and pieces of conversation when serving them their tea.

The things she heard there never turned up in the newspapers or on the radio.


She thought back to the Sylphide Incident from two years ago.

That had never been revealed to the public either.

It took flight to fulfill the Messiah’s prophecy and it accomplished that. And yet…

She suddenly held a hand to her right eye.

“The Messiah implant was destroyed afterwards and it hasn’t recovered.”

She raised her head to look at Berger’s left arm, which was hard to make out in the blackness of the forest.

Then she heard a rustling from the foliage around her.


Doubt filled her and then a howl erupted behind her.


An animal’s extended “uh” or “oh” rang on and on toward the heavens.

It was a wolf.

A pack of them.


She cried out, grabbed her left shoulder, and cowered down.

She was glad she had rolled onto her stomach. As a Werecat, lying on her back before an enemy was a sign of submission and helplessness.

The next howl sounded closer.

Her feline instincts feared the canine cry.

Barely a moment later, she heard another animal cry, but from a different location.

They howled.

They roared.

They growled.

The many bestial noises broke the Black Forest’s silence.

The howls took on a set rhythm and crashed down on her like waves.

She felt like something was about to pounce on her.

Wh-what is this?

She could tell her pulse was racing. A moment later, her body obeyed its instincts and began the Flektieren transformation.


She knew she shouldn’t let it happen, but it was too late.

As her body’s Tons rearranged, air blew out and exploded inside her sleeping bag.

The blast of air sent her tumbling out of the sleeping bag as a kitten. Her legs dragged her somewhat torn clothes and underwear with her.

“Why?” she tried to say, but it came out as a meow.

Her choker now dangled down as a collar and she skillfully extricated herself from her own clothing before walking and tumbling some more.

She was still surrounded by the waves of howling. As a cat, her night vision had improved and she could make out a few forms moving through the surrounding forest.

“U-um, uh.”

Everything she said came out as quiet mews. The howling harmony drowned it all out.

Her fear won out over her hesitation.

She practically leaped forward as she ran toward Berger. She scrambled up his leg to his hip. She moved to the hem of the black coat draped over him and desperately rubbed her chin against his hip.

Wake up, wake up, wake up!

She was desperate enough to beg, but the response arrived far too leisurely for her liking.

He finally opened his eyes. Part of the way.


She called his name half in tears of joy.

That too became a meow, but he looked around with sleepy eyes.

The howls were surrounded by the forest and the mountains.

His eyes stopped on a single point.

Confused, she tilted her head and looked in that direction.

An unusually large form was in the black of the forest there.

Standing 2.5 yards tall, it was as large as bear. It stood in the bushes not 5 yards away.

She could tell it was not just a tree or a hill because of the single point of light where its face would be.

Is that the glint of an eye?

The only one-eyed creatures she knew of were a type of giant that had a small population in the Aerial City. One of them would have been even bigger, so this was something else.

She gasped when she saw the way the silver light gathered around the figure’s outline.

What is that? Fur?

She had no idea what it was, but she knew it was looking at her while the wolves howled.


Silent with fear, she nestled against Berger.

He pulled a hand out from below the black coat and held her close.


As a cat, she was even softer than normal and she was pressed against his body. She was relieved to feel his warmth through the clothing. She calmed her breathing and looked up at him with her heterochromatic eyes.

He turned his sleepy eyes toward the figure standing in the forest.

His lips slowly moved.

“Quiet those things down, idiot.”

It sounded like a casual comment, but his voice rang clear through all the howling.


The figure in front of them smiled. Or so it seemed.

No, she had seen the Ton tempo of a small smile spill out from the figure.


By the time she wondered what that was about, it was too late.

The figure was gone. It had leaped away. And…


The wolf howling also vanished. All she could hear was a rustling of the underbrush, branches snapping underfoot, and dozens of padding feet, all growing more distant by the moment. She looked around as it faded away until it was gone.

What was that?

No one could answer her question, but she heard Berger speaking while half asleep.

“C’mon…how many times do I have to tell you not to wake me up?”

She tilted her head in his arm.

“He’s never told me that.”

Her voice only came out as a small mew, so he did not respond.

Instead, he pinched her behind the neck and lifted her up.

She considered struggling, but his grip was weak and she could tell he was still half asleep. If she struggled, she would slip from his grasp and fall.

She silently let him take over.

He roughly pulled aside the black coat and held her to his chest with his right hand.

Then he pulled the sleeping bag up over him with his mechanical left hand. He zipped it up to his chest and lay on his back. Only her head stuck out from the sleeping bag.

She looked up to see his face there.


He was already falling asleep, so she sighed while viewing his stubbly face. She adjusted her position in his hand, getting herself to lie on her stomach while pressed against his chest.

Then her front right paw caught on something with a metallic clink.


She saw a woman’s pendant next to her face with the locket portion sitting open.

That’s the red jewel pendant he always wears.

“I shouldn’t look inside.”

She reached out her front right paw to close the pendant, but she could not get her claws on it well enough with just one paw and the pendant rolled.

The stars illuminated the inside of the pendant, giving her the view she had been trying to avoid.

She saw the single photograph contained within. It was an old scrap from a larger photo.

That’s a lot like Marsch Gant’s photo I saw in the Sylphide.

There were clear differences, however. The background was Tempelhof Air Base, just like the one in the Sylphide, but the people in the photo were different.

One was a black-haired young man and the other was a brown-haired woman.

They were both smiling.

She stopped breathing for a moment. And…


She felt guilty for having seen it, so she apologized, despite how meaningless it was.

Then she more calmly reached out her front paw and shut the pendant.

The process allowed more light in, giving her a better look at the photo.

The woman’s narrow eyes were bent in a smile, but they were clearly cat eyes. She was a Werecat.

Hazel slowly shut the pendant while her eyes met with another member of her species.


She sighed.

Is that why it never gets to him? He’s done this before.

“Dealt with a girl like me, I mean.”

She shut her eyes while deciding to never tell anyone what she had seen.

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