Gate LN:Volume 1 Prologue
Summer of the year 20**
That day was recorded as being an uncomfortably humid day.
The temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius and overly humid; due to the heat island effect, the city had turned into a scorching hell. Even so, because it was a Saturday, a large number of people had gathered in the heart of the city, doing things like making purchases or just window shopping.
Eleven-fifty in the morning.
Around the time the sunlight shone from directly overhead, with the temperature also approaching its daily high, in Tokyo's shopping district Ginza, the "gate"--a portal to another world--suddenly appeared.
Armed infantry and knights wearing armor resembling that of Europe in the Middle Ages overflowed from the gate. Along with... strange beings like those that have appeared in fantasy stories and movies called orcs, goblins, and trolls.
They launched themselves at the people who had just happened to be there.
They didn't care about gender, race, or nationality. It was as if slaughter itself was their goal.
The people, having become accustomed to living in a peaceful country amid a peaceful era, had no means to resist, and fell one after the other amid the pandemonium-like tragic turn of events.
Shoppers, parents with their children, and tourists from abroad were trampled beneath horses' hooves, pierced with spears, and lost their lives to swords. Corpses that had been piled up covered the district, and Ginza's asphalt was paved deep red with blood. In a word, the spectacle was "hell". The other world's soldiers loaded even more corpses onto the pile, then planted a jet black flag atop the hill of flesh. And in their language, with a loud voice they declared their conquest and possession of that place. It was a unilateral proclamation of war, with no one to hear it.
"The Ginza Incident"
That was what they later called this contact between the other world and our world which went down in history.
The present Prime Minister, Houjou Shigenori, sent to the Diet a reply like this.
"As you are surely aware, that land does not appear on any map.
"We do not know what kind of geological features it has, what kind of animals inhabit it, or what kind of people live there. What is the level of their civilization? The extent of their science and technology? Their religion? Even their system of government is unknown.
"In this incident, we arrested many criminals.
"And it frustates me to use the word "arrest". Because this is something that neither the constitution nor any of our laws has accounted for. And our country has not established an emergency-case law to treat them as prisoners of war. If we follow our country's present laws, they are nothing but criminals who broke the law.
"In these circumstances, we should adopt a resolution that is at the level of obstinacy, and decide to consider that land a "special region" within Japanese territory.
"We should think that on the other side of the Gate is land that our country had not identified until now, in which our citizens live. If there is a government on the other side, we will negotiate to establish a national boundary, but if they will not negotiate, we will not recognize them as an independent state. At present, they are armed terrorists who took the lives of innocent citizens and foreign tourists.
"I recognize that some believe we should "peacefully negotiate" with them. But to do so, we would have to grant them a seat at the discussion table. How would we do that? The reality is that we have no form of correspondence with the other side of the Gate.
"We have no choice but to make the forces on the other side of the Gate sit at the negotiating table. Even if we have to use force to pin their head down to it.
"And to advance the negotiations favorably, we must understand our adversary.
"We have been able to obtain bits of information from those captured criminals who cannot understand the words we say. But we certainly cannot rely on that. Someone must take action to confirm things with their own eyes and ears.
"For these reasons, we must tread upon the other side of the Gate.
"However, it will be a foray into the savage and uncivilized land which slaughtered our unresisting civilians. We need to prepare for the accompanying danger.
"First of all, there is no way we can leave our arms behind. On top of that, depending on the condition within the special region, we will consider engaging in battle. We must allow people on the scene a certain degree of flexibility to make calls about who is an enemy and who is an ally in that backward area.
"I realize that members of the opposition have shared the viewpoint that there is no need to go someplace dangerous, and that we should destroy the Gate in such a way that it can never be opened again. But can you really state definitively that everything will be settled just by closing the door?
"From now on, the people of Japan will have to live with the fear of not knowing where the next Gate might appear. Next time, that Gate might appear before your house, or your family. And there is also the problem of how survivors and families of the deceased will be compensated.
"If there is a government in the special region, and someone in that government is said to be the responsible party, we must demand a sincere apology and reparations regarding this incident, along with the extradition of that responsible party.
"In the case that the other side does not comply with this, we must capture the perpetrators ourselves and pass judgement upon them, and if they have property, seize that as best we can and assign it to the bereaved families as reparations. From the perspective of those who've suffered from this incident, doing so is obvious. Accordingly, our country Japan's governing leadership has decided to dispatch an appropriate portion of the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) to the other side of the Gate."
[Note - See Wikipedia if you don't know what the JSDF is. It's important.]
The Special Region Self-Defense Force Special Bill, although resisted by part of the opposition, passed both houses of the Diet and was adopted.
Furthermore, the American government publicized the statement, "We'll spare no expense in cooperating with the inquiry into the interior of this 'great find'." Prime Minister Houjou replied, "While unnecessary at the moment, we may ask for your help depending on the state of things. At that time, the request will come from our side."
Also, the Chinese government said that the supernatural existence called the "Gate" should be managed from an international perspective. They said that while it may have appeared in Japan, it shouldn't be controlled by one country. On top of that, they publicly commented that the profits obtained from it shouldn't be monopolized.
"If I may say so, this was a great disgrace. I wish to receive your Majesty's thoughts; with regard to this unprecedented heavy loss, do you intend to take any particular measures?"
Marquis Carzel, a senator and a noble, thrust out sharp words while facing the Emperor Molto Sol Augustus on his throne in the center of the parliamentary building.
If the senator was within the assembly hall, he believed that speaking as such even toward the Emperor would be permitted, or even encouraged.
The hall was dimly lit.
It was a stone parliamentary building with a dignified motif, lacking fancy decorations while exuding tranquility and solemnity. Men with severe countenances sat lined up on the tiered gallery lining its round walls, surrounding the central area.
They numbered about 300 people. As representatives of those with the rank of imperial governor, they were the senators.
In this empire, there were several ways to become a senator. The first was to be born into a powerful family. Nobility are rare in any country, but in this giant capital city of the empire, there are so many that it's said you'll hit one if you toss a stone. Accordingly, merely being born a noble won't earn them the honorable seat of a senator. Only members of those families prestigious enough to be called nobles among nobles are able to become senators.
But it's not as though nobles not born into powerful or prestigious families are forever unable to obtain an honorable position. The way open to them is to experience the job of a cabinet minister or to become ranked general or above in the army.
Bureaucrats are an indispensible existence for governing the empire's complex and vast administration. If they're not born into a powerful family, but are a noble and abound with talent and purpose, they have the method of choosing the path of a soldier or a bureaucrat. In the army and bureucracy, what they ask for is practical skill. Even if they're the third son of a family that's nobility in name only, if they just have ability, the will to work, and good luck, it's possible to advance on that path.
The six types of cabinet minister are prime minister, domestic minister, financial minister, agricultural minister, foreign affairs minister, and palace minister. Those who choose the path of a soldier or a bureaucrat, experience the job of a cabinet minister or general, and then retire are automatically given the job of senator later. By the way, in the army, even commoners can ascend in rank. In other words, when they become an officer they will be conferred the rank of knight, and as their rank rises it's even possible for them to be granted nobility.
Marquis Carzel was a born into a family with the rank of baron, which is not very high among nobles. From there, he built up a career, worked as a cabinet minister, and obtained a senate seat. Senators who obtained their position with great effort like that tend to take their status and responsibilities very seriously. In other words, they get carried away. People like that tend to be considered a nuisance by their peers, and the more they're treated like that, the more they'll speak sharply and aggressively.
"It was evidently a mistake to kidnap a few of that foreign country's citizens and determine that cowardly people with no fighting spirit lived there."
He pressed the Emperor for an answer, saying that they should have taken more time to scout, to have perhaps challenged them with diplomatic negotiations to determine how manageable they would be.
Certainly, the current situation was horrible.
About 60% of the Empire's military had been wiped out in that expedition. Although recovering wasn't impossible, it would require a large amount of funds and time. The more pressing matter was the need to preserve the hegemony of the Empire using the remaining 40%. But how?
In the three decades since Emperor Molto took the throne, he had utilized militaristic politics. He had quarreled with neighboring countries as well as domestic lords and various houses, using his might as both a threat and a means to settle those disputes, letting the Empire force peace and harmony upon everyone. There was no way to make every country show allegiance to him other than using that overwhelming military strength, and he destroyed everyone who dared to rise against him.
His overwhelming force had done nothing but conceal the animosity that the lords held toward the Empire. The Empire had been permitted to behave proudly and arrogantly because of that military power.
But now, having lost the majority of that overwhelming military force upon which his hegemony rested, how would the foreign countries, lords, and various houses who had been putting up with the Empire all this time act?
Marquis Carzel, a representative with a liberal attitude toward the Empire, fluttered his robe-like tyuga (a garment resembling a toga) as he swept his hands through the air and rose his voice into a question.
"Your Majesty! How does your Majesty the Emperor intend to lead this country?"
When Marquis Carzel finished his speech as such and took his seat, the Emperor gradually leaned his throned body slightly forward in order to convey a sense of stateliness. His gaze unwavering, he directly faced the man who had criticized him.
"Marquis... I surmise your sentiment. It is true that due to these losses, the Empire's military predominance has, however temporarily, faded. Are you unable to sleep at night in fear that the foreign countries and lords will bare their hidden antipathy and simultaneously revolt with pointed spears, marching upon the imperial capital? What a pitiful state."
The severe assembly hall's atmosphere was disrupted by the scorning mutters of those who heard the Emperor's ridicule-like words.
"Senators, I wish for you to remember the battle against the Aktek that took place two hundred and fifty years ago. Having received the report that the entire army had fallen, how did our great predecessors conduct themselves? Do you recall the words of the women who rebuked the senators who had lost their courage and pride and begun to consider a peace that was equivalent to surrender?
"The story that those brave women rolled up their skirts and said 'What of fifty or sixty thousand losses? We can give birth to that many as often as we like.' needs no introduction. If you peruse the history of the Empire, this level of crisis has arisen often. Each time, our Empire's Emperor, Senate, and citizens have united to fight against the hardship, and ended up expanding even more."
The Emperor's words echoed the history of the Empire.
It was something that those meeting in the senate understood without having to be reminded.
"War is not a series of endless victories. So do not inquire about the responsibility for this battle. When the defeat occurred, what forced responsibility onto the commanders was the loss of their subordinates. I'd rather not believe it, but is there someone here who would keep wasting time judging others up until the imperial capital is besieged by foreign armies?"
The senators shook their heads in response to the Emperor's question.
If no one can be held responsible, the Emperor cannot be held responsible either. Carzel clicked his tongue upon realizing that the Emperor had skillfully avoided taking any blame. If he continued to press with questions, he would be labeled a coward, and in this atmosphere he would even be viewed as pointlessly judgmental.
The Emperor continued:
For this expedition, skilled soldiers had been assembled, experienced mages had been prepared, and especially brutal beings such as orcs and goblins had been selected.
Plentiful supplies had been arranged, training had been executed, and they had been led by a excellent commander. You might say there could be no greater battle capability.
A commander, a hundred commanding officers, and soldiers who should have put great effort into accomplishing their duty.
And yet, it took seven days.
In a mere seven days since the Gate had opened--if you count from when the enemy began their full-scale counterattack, two days--our army had been destroyed.
It seems that most of the officers had died or become the enemy's prisoners. We could only say that "it seems", because very few people returned alive.
The "Gate" has been taken by the enemy. We cannot even approach Alnus Hill upon which the Gate is located in an attempt to close it, because it is completely controlled by the enemy.
To reclaim it, we would need to attack with thousands of calavry. But Alnus Hill is covered in corpses, and there is a literal pool of blood at its foot.
"Do you understand the greatness of the enemy's weapons? Bang bang! When faraway enemy foot soldiers make this sound, our side bleeds and falls. I have never seen such an amazing magical skill."
Senator Godasen, a mage, agitatedly spoke of how it appeared when they made contact with the enemy.
He and the force he had led had been mowed down like dry leaves being swept away, unable to climb even halfway up the hill. He had suddenly noticed that he was surrounded by silence, the only person still moving. He recalled how the corpses of men and horses had laid on the ground as far as he could see.
The Emperor closed his eyes as he spoke.
"The enemy has already trespassed to this side. They are presently gathering and building a stronghold around the Gate, but they will eventually begin a genuine invasion. We have no choice but to stand against both the enemy from the other world on Alnus Hill and the surrounding countries."
"It is right to fight!"
Earl Podawan, a bald aged knight, stood and bowed to the Emperor, responding in support of war.
"It's exactly because we are hard pressed that bold actions are the only way to break through to a solution. Let us gather the entire army which has been spread across the Empire, and destroy any traitors or vassal states who defy us! With that momentum, smash the enemies from the other world at Alnus! And then, once again invade the other side of the Gate!"
The senators jeered at his reckless idea, saying "If we could do that, we wouldn't have any problems" while shaking their heads and shrugging their shoulders. If they were to gather the entire army, they would be neglecting both public order and defenses. The assembly hall become noisy with their simultaneous harsh words.
Podawan replied that if they just massacre the rebels, enslave the women and children, and turn the cities into wastelands such that no one could live there, there would be no need to worry about anyone opposing them from there... and similar proposals that were far too extreme. Although they seemed unrealistic, there had been previous such offenses in the history of the Empire.
At the time the Empire was smaller and surrounded by enemies, whenever they captured an enemy nation, they would enslave its people, destroy the cities, burn the forests and salt the fields to make the land a barren wasteland, ensuring their security by changing the environment into an empty area.
"Even if we did that, just how would be defeat the enemies at Alnus? Do you think we should utilize all our forces for a second showing of Godasen's performance?"
In response to the voice that had come from the corner of the assembly hall, Earl Podawan revealed a sour expression while speaking uncomfortably.
"Uh... Then... We should gather up all the soldiers of all the vassal states. Get them all without accepting any complaints. If you do that, the numbers alone will reach 100,000. Even weak soldiers can serve as protection against ranged weapons. Use them as a shield, rush onto the hill and then march upon the capital!"
"You think that they would follow orders obediently!?"
"In the first place, what excuse would you use to have them deliver the soldiers? Should we honestly say 'we lost half our army, so please send your soldiers'? If we do that, they'll take us lightly."
Carzel loathed Earl Podawan for pulling the discussion in various pointless directions with his impractical ideas.
The back-and-forth argument between the hawks and doves that he couldn't bear to hear began, and the assembly hall entered the mood of collapsing into discord.
"Then what would you say we do!?"
"You stubborn war-minded fool!"
The senators had lost their composure and heated up enough to be on the verge of fighting.
Time passed without achieving anything. Although the few who had kept their reason realized that this couldn't be allowed to continue, they were unable to settle the disordered conference.
Amid this, Emperor Molto stood up.
Seeing that the Emperor was about to speak, the senators who had been insulting one another closed their mouths and became quiet.
"Although he spoke somewhat recklessly, there is merit in Earl Podawan's suggestions."
Upon receiving those words, Podawan bowed to the Emperor respectfully.
The senators who had respected the Emperor's dignity regained their calm. They prepared to listen to what the Emperor would say next.
"Now, it is a matter of what we should do. Will we silently watch the situation become even worse? That is one option. However, I do not wish for that. In this situation, a fight cannot be avoided. We should adopt Earl Podawan's proposal and gather soldiers from the vassal states and surrounding countries. Send an envoy to each nation. We request the dispatchment of reinforcements to repel the bandits from the other world who await their chance to raid the Falmat continent. We will rally this Allied Federation of Armed Forces, and attack Alnus Hill."
"The Allied Federation of Armed Forces?"
The senators stirred upon hearing the Emperor's words.
Two hundred years ago, for the sake of opposing the aggression of the great empire formed by the equestrian tribes to the east, the continent's various kingdoms allied and fought against it. They had fought amongst each other until then, but the attitude of "we shouldn't fight each other when a different people is invading" prevailed. Each nation's royalty and knights who should have been sworn enemies lined up their horses and mutually helped one another as they faced the different group. In the present day, it had become a heroic tale recited in verse.
"If it's like that, it will certainly become a just cause."
"But still, that's a bit... due bombe non erono abbastanza"
Indeed. In the first place, weren't they the ones who had opened up and invaded through the Gate? The Emperor's words flew in the face of that. To initiate the attack but then appeal for reinforcements from each nation by saying it was "to defend against the invaders from the other world", wasn't there a limit to shamelessness? ...No one dared to say that.
Be that as it may, if they said that "not just the Empire, the entire Falmat continent is being targeted", each country ought to send reinforcements. In short, it's not a matter of what the reality is, it's a matter of what is reported.
"Y-Your Majesty. Isn't the base of Alnus Hill overflowing with the bodies of men and horses?"
At Marquis Carzel's question, Emperor Molto built up his claims.
"I pray for certain victory. But there is no certainty in war. And so, it is possible that the Allied Federation of Armed Forces will be destroyed. If that happens, it would be sorrowful. If it comes to that, the Empire will lead the various countries as it has throughout history, unite together, and face the invaders."
If every nearby country lost their army, then the Empire's predominance would not change relative to them.
"These are my countermeasures for this state of affairs. Are they acceptable, Marquis Carzel?"
The Emperor's decision had been delivered.
Carzel wore a dumbfounded expression as he considered the fate of the officers and soldiers of the Allied Federation of Armed Forces.
Aside from Carzel and the doves, the surrounding people bowed their heads silently to the Emperor. They then solemnly began the work of sending the envoys to each state.
The flare that had been shot pierced the jet black darkness and brilliantly shone upon the earth.
The enemies, the Allied Federation of Armed Forces who called themselves "Codou Rino Guwaban", began their assault. Through artificial lighting and flares, the wave of soldiers and horses advancing from the foot of the hill was illuminated.
With heavily armoued cavalry leading the way, the fantastic monsters called orcs, trolls, and goblins covered the ground and pressed forward. Continuing behind them, human soldiers lined up their square shields.
In the sky, one could see a group of strange birds with people riding them.
If one were to put a number to them, they would be between 1,000 and 10,000. Realistically speaking, there was no way to count them.
The sentry shouted into the wireless radio.
"Three groups on the ground, total of seven enemy groups. There's three groups on the ground and a total of seven enemy groups!" *
The hostility quietly and steadily advanced.
Having received the report from the sentry station, the members of the Ground Self-Defense Forces special location-oriented deployed force, fifth combat troupe's 502nd company ran through a transportation ditch, dove into their individually assigned concealed firing positions in the second boundary, faced toward the ranges they'd been tasked with and prepared their guns.
The JGSDF's officers had gone to a lot of trouble when organizing the special location-oriented deployed force. Above all, the enemy had a different level of civilization. No one had the experience of fighting opponents with spears or who used armor to protect themselves, and no one knew anything about how to deal with magic, fantastic beings, or illusions.
Thus they took to perusing stories and movies for ideas.
It was said that in the JSDF's PX (a shop), stories about the JSDF timeslipping into the Sengoku Period, manga, and DVDs of old and new movies and TV shows sold like crazy. Furthermore, the JSDF's management who wanted fantasy movies and anime would line up in front of Akihabara's book stores, a situation where one wasn't sure whether it was okay to laugh.
It was even rumored with a sense of plausibility that the famous "M" and "T" anime director and novelist, and others like them, were gathered to Ichigaya and consulted for their views.
And having drawn conclusions from somewhere, they selected three divisions' worth of people taken from among all of the troops nation-wide.
It was uniquely composed of the combination of management ranging from captain to second lieutenant, and non-commissioned officers ranked third class and above.
The reason given was the need to make for commanding officers to make a difficult judgment on the spot regarding, in the Prime Minister's words, "who is an enemy and who is an ally in that backward area", but it was obvious to everyone that that wasn't the only reason.
The gathered equipment of the special location-oriented deployed force had a special quality. There seemed to be a lot of relatively old things. For one, the small arms carried by troops were the Howa type 64 rifle. The tank was the type 74. Everything was in the process of being phased out of the battlefield in favor of new equipment.
It was "simultaneous equipment disposal" according to a sarcastic senior sergeant major. Maybe so, but that was not the only reason.
It was because if the type 64 rifle used the 5.56 mm bullets of the type 89, it wouldn't be able to stop the heavyweight orcs who thrust forward with their spears. And there were many reported cases in which when they stabbed the enemy with the bayonet portion of the same gun, it would stay caught in the armor or chainmail guard.
In addition, they considered hypothetical cases in which they would need to evacuate while abandoning their equipment. They couldn't easily throw away a gun that cost hundreds of millions of yen, so they gathered equipment for which disposal would be a waste, they intended to dispose of it, or they'd already arranged to dispose of it but it was sleeping in some warehouse because of a procedural delay.
Using the type 64 rifle involves standing on both feet and lining up the gate with the sight. Its delivered bullets are normal charge, so the gas regulator is small.
A person would set up the 5.56 mm machine gun Minimi and push in the magazine using the connected clanking metal belt link. (Regarding the type 54 machine gun, the color of the faces of non-commissioned officers and management changed as they opposed it with the complaint, "Are you trying to kill us?", so it wasn't taken to the special location. That shows how often the gun ridiculed as the "feedback gun" breaks down.)
Beginning with the Sky-Shooter anti-aircraft artillery, the anti-aircraft firearms 35 mm multi-gate anti-aircraft gun L90 and 40 mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun M42 which were in use as well as antiquated had their barrels pointed toward the strange birds that approached from the sky.
The next flare went up, and the dark night was once again lit. The light raining down from the above turned the night sky into a backdrop that outlined the enemy. The enemies raised their pace, their footsteps approaching a roar.
The rifle's switchable axis (safety device) turned from ア to レ.
The commander's voice came from their earphones.
"Stay calm. Don't shoot yet..."
They weren't accustomed to this, but this wasn't their first time either. Although the JSDF members focused on the approaching enemy while catching their breath, they were able to wait for the order.
This was the third time the enemy had advanced upon this hill they called "Alnus Uruu" in their language. The previous two times had ended in their defeat. It ought to be fine to call them overwhelming defeats.
Their battle strategy had been to, using this world's standard weapons of a spear or bow or sword, along with the defensive equipment of a suit of armor and helmet, continually line up their troops and have all of them advance. Occasionally, attacks that utilized explosions and fire (it was said that magic was probably on the level of such things) occurred too, but the range was short and the number extremely small, so it was not much of a threat. For that reason, no matter how much they tried to make up for it with numbers, they were no match for the JSDF who were equipped with modern guns and firearms.
In director Kurosawa Akira's movie "Kagemusha", there is a scene where Takeda's cavalry group is immediately destroyed by Oda and Tokugawa's gunner group, but this is even more movie-like a scene since the corpses of soldiers and horses have completely covered the foot of the hill.
Even so, they began another attack with the goal of retaking this hill.
The JSDF also remained on this land and took action to guard Alnus Hill.
Everything was because the Gate was here. The Gate was the only way to travel between the two worlds. The enemy had surged into Ginza from this Alnus Hill. In order to defend themselves from the kind of terrible tragedy which occurred in Tokyo and particularly Ginza, they would secure this Gate and absolutely never let anyone else have it.
They attempted to take it. And they took action to protect it. Those two wills collided and finally arrived at this third battle. Perhaps having learned from their past experiences, this one took place at night. In the night sky without a moon, the visibility was low. In the night, a mistake could occur or a flaw could be discovered... was what they supposed, but that was this world's intuition. It was not a bad idea. But, well... As the next flare went up, the figures of Codou Rino Guwaban emerged distinctly.
To the society of Tokyo and Japan, 24-hour business hours seemed natural. Irrespective of day and night, the lined up muzzles greeted them with gunfire as a substitute for salutations.
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