Seikai no Senki:Volume4 Chapter1(jp)
- 1 Chapter 1: The Battle of Kemal Gate
Chapter 1: The Battle of Kemal Gate
"Space-time fusion in: 5 minutes."
The second captain of the assault frigate Flicaubh, Deputy Hecto-commander Ablïarsec Néïc Dubleuscr Bœrh Parhynr Lamhirh nodded, acknowledgeing the report from her subordinate.
Considering that the impending space-time fusion was swarming with enemy mines, the response of Ekuryua — who served as both Navigator and Executive Officer — was suprisingly calm.
"Incoming inter-bubble message from the flagship," Communications Officer Rear Flyer Yateshu continued to report, "All ships are to commence operations using individual space-time bubbles, 1-1-0-7."
"Send a signal of acknowledgement." Lafiel nodded as she looked at the Kreuno on her hand.
1-1-0-7 indicated the time at which to commence the battle. In other words, 11:07.
The Flicaubh of the Scourge Squadron was in pursuit of what appeared to be four space-time bubbles. Pushing against the flow of the dense space-time particles flowing from the center of the galaxy, the Scourge Squadron readied to commence their assault.
"Deca-commander," Lafiel ordered, "space-time separation at 1-1-0-7."
"Without a plan," Ekuryua murmured as she prepared the ship for space-time separation.
Lafiel felt likewise.
While operating in separate space-time bubble increased individual mobility, doing so sacrificed the overall defensive strength of assault ships. They were flying directly into a barrage of mines with a very frail formation.
"Should we evade?" asked Ekuryua.
To a certain extent, a pilot's skill could take advantage of the assault frigate's mobility and compensate for the lack of defenses.
"No," Lafiel quickly decided. "Even if we can evade some of the mines, the squadrons behind us may not be so lucky."
The Scourge Squadron was currently the vanguard of four divisions making up the main force of the advancing Assault Squadron Bosuru. The squadrons advanced single file, one after another. In spite their numbers, assault ships were particularly weak when defending against mines.
In the past, escort ship squadrons specializing in anti-mine operations would protect the fleet. They were kept near the front lines allowing quick formation changes as the flow of battle shifted. This time, however, they were nowhere to be seen. The fierce front line combat had incurred heavy losses and Headquarters changed policies in an attempt to be more conservative in their usage.
Unfortunately, by doing so, the assault frigates from the Scourge Squadron and the cruisers from the Scout Fleet essentially became a shield for the larger assault ships behind them. (Editor's note: The Basroil was an Assault ship, so assuming this is supposed to say Patrol ship?)
"Ten seconds until space-time separation," reported Ekuryua. "Eight, seven, six, five ..."
Lafiel stood up from the commander's chair and drew her sword to command the battle.
The assault frigate was not designed with the control interface that allows the captain to interface with the ship's sensors. This lack of control and inability to feel the ship left Lafiel with a deep sense of discomfort. (Editor's note: imbalance doesn't quite fit here unless we're talking about the difference between piloting and commanding. In this case we're just talking about piloting, commanding doesn't make her uncomfortable)
However, she had better get used to this sensation. From this day forth, she will probably never have the chance to use the hand interface to pilot a ship again.
"Space-time separation," Ekuryua said in a dull tone.
The four assault frigates separated, each at the center of their own universe.
"Ninety-two seconds until space-time fusion with enemy mines."
"Deploy the magnetic defense shields," Lafiel ordered.
"Deploying the magnetic defense shields, no abnormalities detected," Deca-commander and Chief Engineer Gurinshia reported.
"Sixty seconds until space-time fusion."
"Set laser cannons to auto targeting and set distance to one-hundred," Lafiel gave out the next set of orders.
Assault frigates wielded numerous laser cannons on their flanks. Although older cruisers were equipped with the anti-proton cannons, they were only half as powerful. Thus, Star Force opted to design the next-generation assault frigate with laser cannons.
"Laser cannons set to auto targeting, distance to fire: one hundred." The chief engineer is actually responsible for the laser cannons because the assault frigate employs an automatic firing system. This system minimizes amount of human interaction needed, but ensuring its continuous operation was of utmost importance. Shouldering such a heavy responsibility, Gurinshia waited a bit before reporting. "Setting complete. Safety released. Banks one through eight show no abnormalities."
"Thirty seconds until space-time fusion."
Lafiel thought Ekuryua's voice betrayed a sliver of nervousness but quickly dismissed the thought. She was being overly sensitive.
She suddenly felt an intense gaze on her. This time she was not imagining it because the gaze came from the blue haired Junior Officer Line Wing Flyer Gunomuboshu.
Lafiel knew what was on his mind. She was once a Line Wing Flyer, too.
Gunomuboshu wore a hopeful look, waiting to be assigned any task at all. His job was to transmit orders, but on an assault frigate, that role was shared with the assistant gunner, the assistant communications officer, and the assistant navigations officer. In other words, there was little left for him to do but miscellaneous chores.
Usually the order transmitter's primary responsibility is the operation of the ship, however, habit-wise most of the secondary tasks are handled by other bridge officers. When there is work for the junior officers, usually it is when the ship is docked, far from any combat. Therefore, the bridge officers would often utilize whatever free time the junior officer gets. Besides, other than the gunnery officer, no other officer on the bridge could utilize the hand interface to manage their stations which makes most feel a bit down. Even if there is a new flyer onboard, there is still little opportunity to operate the ship, usually just assigning them some miscellaneous tasks to do. (Editor's note: This is a really awkward paragraph. Not sure exactly what its trying to convey so don't want to touch it.)
Lafiel thought of her little brother. It was likely he too was fighting somewhere in Plane Space.
"Gunomuboshu," Lafiel decided his task for the upcoming battle. "I will transfer the controls for the laser cannons to your console. Before the end of combat, you shall get comfortable with the operation of the mobile cannons."
Although controlling the mobile cannons could be done even by a distracted child, to Gunomuboshu, this would be a very good experience. An idle soldier during combat would certainly feel very uneasy, and that fear would make them needlessly panic.
"Thank you very..." the words made it halfway out of Gunomuboshu's mouth, but he quickly reconsidered. To express gratitude in this situation would be inappropriate. So the only words that got to Lafiel's ears were, "Yes, Ma'am".
Lafiel, on her console, gave the controls of the cannons to Gunomuboshu. Next, she used the sensors to scan the interior of the space-time bubble.
The interior of the space-time bubble already started to deform, a sign that space-time fusion was incipient.
She glanced at the bubbles on the Plane Space map. The enemy mines stood between her squadron and their prey.
"This is good... no need to painstakingly chase the mines since the enemy just throws them at us," mused Lafiel.
"Three enemy mines in space-time fusion," Ekuryua reported. "...fusion complete."
The enemy mines came at the Flicaubh simultaneously. However, Lafiel did not respond to them, as it was unnecessary.
"Cannon banks two and three firing, everything functioning normally." Gunomuboshu reported excitedly.
"You sure said that with confidence," teased his immediate superior Gunnery Officer Vanguard Flyer Arubofu. "Marvelous, simply amazing."
Looks like Gunomuboshu already was too busy to reply, since he was still intently focused on his console.
So far, the mobile cannons on the ship had taken care of the mines. They locked on to individual mines and constantly swept the surrounding space with weapons fire.
Lafiel did not really believe that the weak firepower of the laser cannons could take care of the mines. However, even if they used the assault frigate's main weapon, the electromagnetic rail cannons, it wouldn't really raise their chances of survival. Therefore, it was best for her to endure this strategy and hope for the best.
The three mines constantly changed their speed and trajectory. Although the mines were unmanned weapons, they were still a fully equipped ship that could travel through Plane Space. One mine boldly charged towards the assault frigate. A laser cannon beam reached the mine, but that was hardly enough to destroy it.
The mine was damaged and lost engine power, so it started to dive straight into the ship, where it was met by ten beams all focused on it.
The mine shattered into pieces while spewing out antimatter fuel. When antimatter meets space, it starts to react, annihilating anything it touches. Through sheer momentum, the antimatter fuel struck the Flicaubh.
Such a small quantity of antimatter hardly posed any danger to an assault frigate, since most of the antimatter converted to energy before it ever hit the ship. The remaining antimatter would be deflected by the defensive shields.
Another mine was destroyed by the cannons; its antimatter exploding harmlessly moments later. However, the last mine proved to be difficult to deal with.
"Adjust course!" Lafiel ordered. "Up 4-0, left 2-5, after course adjustment, fire port thrusters full blast."
The assault frigate immediately turned, while trying to maintain a good distance away from the mine. Of course, mine's speed was much faster than the assault frigate's, so the only reason for doing this was to buy more time for the cannons. Of course to Lafiel, the time that she just gained was ever so precious.
The cannons on the left side of the ship immediately adjusted themselves for the best firing angle, concentrating all beams on the mine.
With that, their target finally exploded into pieces.
"Four more mines, incoming," Ekuryua announced.
Lafiel didn't even have time to take a breath, but she still believed that she could manage.
If the mine attacks are still this low level, then there should be no reason to defend by fusing with other ships.
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Despite constantly accelerating and decelerating to avoid a lock-on from the assault frigate, the mobile cannons still dealt fatal blows to the mines.
While occasionally course adjustments, Lafiel also kept a close eye on the Plane Space map.
Currently, there were ten enemy cruisers in a horizontal formation. Each in their own space-time bubble, waiting to welcome the 1st Scourge Squadron.
It is likely that this ship will engage in one-on-one combat against those cruisers.
The enemy forces, however, were also dealing with a fierce barrage of mines. Situated at the rear of the battle were battle ships with a nearly endless supply of mines to fire. The mines passed by the 1st Scourge Squadron fusing with the enemy space-time bubbles.
Unlike in the past, neither side used any mines for defensive purposes anymore. Regardless of the casualties sustained, both sides had decided to no longer use mines for anti-mine operations, instead each mine now only targeted enemy ships.
Knowing this, Lafiel started to frown, shifting her attention from the Plane Space map to the space outside of ship.
The three mines were using complex trajectories attempting to flank the port side of the ship. Relying only on the cannon banks may not be enough to deal with these mines.
Lafiel gave the order to change course again, attempting buy more time. She inputted the combat priority for each target hoping to shoot them down one by one.
At that moment, an undetected mine got close enough that it dove straight for the ship. The laser cannons immediately adjusted, focusing and finally destroying the mine. The ship shook from the proximity of the exploding mine.
"Damage report?" Lafiel asked.
"Very light, as far as the interior of the ship is concerned," Vanguard Flyer Linn Ssynec Rocr Ïarlucec Dreuc Haïder Ghintec (Jinto) reported.
"Laser cannon number 304 has been damaged," Gunomuboshu also reported. "I am very sorry, Captain."
"This isn't your fault, right?" Lafiel felt a bit uneasy.
She did no know why, but new soldiers were unusually fearful of her. What's worse is that she had gotten used to it.
"Is it repairable?" Lafiel asked Gunomuboshu.
"Yes, I’ll initiate repairs now." The junior officer said as he began to shut down the damaged laser cannon.
"Chief Engineer, begin repair operations." Lafiel ordered.
"Understood." The Chief Engineer quickly relayed orders to the repair team. "Engineering team heading for the third laser cannon banks deck!"
"The more three mines incoming." Ekuryua said, "...they're here."
Luckily, this wave of mines fused in separate locations.
"Pankov's space-time bubble, destroyed!" Yateshu reported the loss of a friendly vessel.
Lafiel nodded her head lightly. Actually she did not even need the report, just now she felt a huge surge of space-time particles flow from the Pankov's collapsed space-time bubble.
She had, once before, experienced such a nervous feeling. A similar thing happened when she was still the captain of the assault ship, Basroil. Even though she now had mobile cannons for defense, she still could not quell her nervousness. In the next second, both she and her subordinates could all vaporize and drift as space-time particles for all eternity in Plane Space. To avoid this fate, you fight with everything you have.
"The engineers dispatched to the mobile cannon are reporting in." the Chief Engineer said, "They would at least need three hours to fix it."
"Chief Engineer, what is your take?" Lafiel asks.
"I don't doubt the judgement of my subordinates."
Lafiel also agreed, at the very least she trusted Gurinshia's judgement.
"Then, order your subordinates to continue to stay on standby."
It was better to let the soldiers rest than to work on repairs that would not be completed in time for the battle. After all, the engineers would still have work to do later.
Suddenly her Kreuno rang. She checked it to see who wanted to secretly communicate with her.
Of course this was not an appropriate time for a chat. Even if you were not familiar with Lafiel, members of the Ablïarsec clan are know to have a dark and fearsome nature. Those who were familiar with Lafiel knew better than to distract her during combat, even if it was Jinto.
"Captain," it turned out to be the Chief Engineer, "May I suggest something?"
"Make it short."
"I will. I think that we should let the engineers start the repair work."
"Because it keeps them busy and will calm their nerves."
"Really?" Lafiel nodded. Coming from the Chief Engineer, then it was probably true. The chief engineer had been promoted from below, so of course she would understand their mindset. Even if everyone on a ship is fighting a battle, there is a big psychological difference between the officers and the crew.
The mines were starting to get uncomfortably close. Lafiel terminated the conversation on her Kreuno, and issued orders for the ship to change heading.
Then she announced to the Chief Engineer, "Rescind my previous order, let the engineers start the repairs on the mobile cannon... with low priority."
"Yes, Ma'am!" Chief Engineer Gurinshia's voice reflected her gratitude.
The last mine finally was destroyed, but the real danger had yet to start. The Flicaubh would soon officially meet with the enemy cruisers.
"Inter-bubble message from the squadron flagship" Yateshu reports, "The Flicaubh is to fuse with enemy space-time bubble 1-0-2."
"Send an acknowledgement."
Looks like the commander chose one-on-one duels. Let's see if the enemy accepts the challenge.
The enemy took the bait.
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The enemy space-time bubbles did not fuse with each other. Each became an army of one, heading for a confrontation against the assault frigates.
Lafiel glanced at her left hand, it would be so much better if I could use a control interface.
"Accelerate to combat speed!" Lafiel ordered, "Prepare to fire the electromagnetic rail cannons."
"Accelerating to combat speed." Gurinshia exclaimed, then more normally reported, "Main engine output maximum; no abnormalities."
"All electromagnetic rail cannons functioning normally." The Gunnery announced, "Safety devices disabled. Nuclear fusion warheads loaded. Ready to fire at any time."
"This is the Captain," Lafiel started speaking on the ship-wide intercom. "Starting now, this ship will enter ship-to-ship combat. We may accelerate far above protocol and exceed the limits of the artificial gravity device. Everyone be prepared to brace yourselves."
"Point the ship's bow at the point of fusion." Lafiel then ordered Arubofu, "You may fire at will. I'll leave the piloting in your hands."
Lafiel knew when going into one-on-one combat, it was best to leave the flying to the pilot. She should not object or intervene.
"I've waited a long time for those words." Arubofu could not hid his enthusiasm. But he quickly regained composure and corrected himself, saying, "No, I understand."
A deep sense of envy began to bubble up inside Lafiel.
The bridge crew may be small, but they all have the same thought. They all want this whale of a ship to move as naturally and responsive as their own body. To the Abh, this is a perfectly natural thing to feel.
Lafiel turned her head towards the map of Plane Space where green dots represented friendly bubbles, and red dots represented enemy bubbles. Slowly the colors closed on each other.
When a red dot and green dot meet, they fused into a purple dot representing a bubble with active combat.
More purple dots begin to appear. It was the Flicaubh's turn. The Flicaubh fused with enemy space-time bubble 1-0-2. Shortly, this space-time bubble would be temporally referred as "space-time bubble battle 1-7."
"Firing!" Arubofu fired the electromagnetic rail cannons as space-time fusion started. The body of the ship shook with a creaking sound.
"Space-time fusion complete." Ekuryua murmured in a low emotionless voice.
When both space-time bubbles completed merging, six guided nuclear warheads emerged heading straight for the Flicaubh. Every mobile cannon that could shoot forward lit up. Sensing this, the guided warheads accelerated to one percent of the speed of light making them a more difficult target than the mines. Still, the mobile cannons were able to shoot one down, turning it into harmless debris.
Arubofu let the ship glide horizontally in an attempt to avoid the remaining warheads. As one of the warheads passed the port side of the Flicaubh, and the cannon banks immediately started firing at it.
The warheads that the Flicaubh fired earlier did not find their target. A second round was loaded and readied to fire.
The electromagnetic rail cannons fired their next salvo, but again came up empty. Lafiel started to feel anxious, wishing that Arubofu would just somehow faint right in front of her.
At times of war, every ship feels undermanned, but of them all, assault frigates are the worst off. Of course this also applies to the bridge crew. For example on the Flicaubh, Arubofu is the only gunnery officer. If she were incapacitated, only the Captain could replace her.
Of course, no captain wants to see their own subordinates injured, even jokingly. If the ship were to be damaged to a point where someone were critically injured, then the lives of the entire crew would also be in grave danger.
She only hoped that Arubofu collapsed due to overwork. Even though she continued to burn with jealousy, as the Captain, she had other responsibilities to attend to.
"Gunomuboshu," Lafiel ordered, "Change mobile cannon range to infinite."
After exchanging fire, the Flicaubh and the enemy ship passed by each other.
Compared to the small and nimble mines, a cruiser was a much easier target to hit. With mines it is difficult to determine the effective targeting range for the laser cannons. For a comparatively massive cruiser, laser cannons were more likely to hit than not.
Both ships peppered each other with beam fire causing nothing more than flesh wounds. If the laser cannons were enough to sink a large ship, then there would not be a need to install things like the antiproton cannon or the electromagnetic rail cannons.
As soon as the ships completed their pass, they simultaneously fired their rear electromagnetic rail cannons.
A missile from the enemy exploded near the Flicaubh. The shockwave and shrapnel from the missile hit the rear of the ship.
"Hull breach in number two cargo hold," Jinto reported, "No casualties reported. Ship pressure stable."
Both ships jousted for position, trying to deal a critical blow to the other.
Lafiel directed her attention to the Plane Space map. It looked like combat in a nearby space-time bubble had been decided. Space-time Bubble Battle 2-1's color changed from purple to yellow, indicating unknown identity. Additionally, this bubble was advancing on her own bubble.
"We haven't received an identification signal." Yateshu reported, "looks like the Takukov has been sunk."
The formerly-yellow space-time bubble was dyed a blood red. Designated enemy space-time bubble 2-1-1, it continued to approach.
"Hurry up and finish this!" Lafiel said to Arubofu, "We'll soon have more company. If you think that there's no glory in fighting one ship, then I can accept that."
"Captain, you can stop teasing me," replied Arubofu, "my life is at stake here too!"
"And my life doesn't matter?" Ekuryua interjected.
"Just thinking about my own insignificant life has already overwhelmed me!" Arubofu exclaimed with an air of exasperation.
"Executive officer," Lafiel said, "move the space-time bubble heading towards 10 o'clock."
"Yes ma'am." Ekuryua started redirecting the space-time bubble.
However, the space-time bubble in which the Flicaubh resided was no longer just its own. The enemy ship was also equipped with a space-time generator.
Naturally, the enemy wanted the reinforcement of its ally in space-time bubble 2-1-1.
The two space-time generators in the bubble start a tug-of-war.
When it came to skill, Ekuryua seemed to have the upper hand. Although the orbit was not centered, space-time bubble battle 1-7 started to inch towards 10 o'clock.
The pursuing enemy space-time bubble was still quicker and continued to quickly close.
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Editor's note: I have absolutely no idea what the next two lines actually mean
Although the Flicaubh possessed a better firing position and even though they shot at the enemy ship’s side abdomen with their nuclear warheads; it was still dodged by the enemy.
When it comes to our bows being exposed, it goes right into the enemy's mobile cannon’s line of fire.
"Electromagnetic rail cannon number one have been damaged!" Arubofu said loudly.
Even if they were laser cannons, they could still inflict damage.
"Is it repairable?" Lafiel asked Gurinshia.
"Negative." The Chief Engineer answered without hesitation.
"I see." Lafiel glanced at the Gunnery officer.
"Forget it, I'll manage." Arubofu refuted.
The enemy's thrusters fired up, turning their bow towards the Flicaubh.
The Flicaubh's main engines were also brought to maximum in an attempt to close the distance before the enemy finished turning.
Our speed will give us the edge. Before the enemy can come about, the we should be able to get behind them.
"Aim the mobile cannon banks at the enemy's thrusters, can you do that?" Lafiel asked Gunomuboshu.
"Yes, I’ll do my best."
Lafiel thought to herself, You get one opportunity, if you can't do it, then I'll man the mobile cannon banks myself.
No matter how you look at it, this was a battlefield. An incredibly harsh environment. Although it is the best place to train a junior officer, you cannot stake the lives of the crew just for the sake of training. Besides, Lafiel believed that there were still many areas that she still needed to train.
In an intense exchange of laser cannon fire, both ships grazed each other. Gunomuboshu adjusted the mobile cannon bank's focus, locking on to the enemy's thrusters.
Two thruster ports exploded spectacularly, but from this angle it was hard to determine the extent of the damage. Both could have been totally destroyed, or it could have just been superficial damage.
"Good job!" Arubofu praised, even if the latter were to be true.
After opening some distance, Flicaubh again fired the rear electromagnetic rail cannons. Missed again.
"When will the incoming bubble fuse with us?"
"Estimated 1-3-3-0, they'll be here in eight minutes." Ekuryua answered immediately.
"Extend the time to fusion to 1-3-4-0." Lafiel ordered.
"Impossible." Ekuryua concisely responded.
"Did you hear that? Vanguard Flyer Arubofu." Lafiel turned to the Gunnery Officer.
"Yes, I heard very clearly." Arubofu said, "I really hate how sharp my hearing is."
Looks like the Gunnery officer could still cope with the situation.
"Then hurry up and finish this already."
Both ships continued to maneuver, looking to get a good shot at their opponent's broadside. However, the enemy ship had noticeably slowed down. It looks like for now, control of the mobile cannon banks will stay with Gunomuboshu.
Flicaubh’s engines once again roared to life, rapidly closing the gap with the enemy vessel.
After another round of electromagnetic rail cannon has been fired, a sudden racket filled the bridge. The racked belonged to Arubofu who was frantically firing the starboard thrusters.
A number of nuclear warheads flew by the Flicaubh. As they passed, they simultaneously exploded, making the Flicaubh shake violently. At this distance, they were close enough that there was a high risk of significant damage.
“Number 201, 202, 205 ...” Gunomuboshu started to reporting each damaged laser cannon, one-by-one.
"You don't need to give me a report" Lafiel stopped him from continuing, "It's ok as long as you concentrate on the enemy's thrusters."
"I'm very sorry!"
Lafiel, without saying a word, cast a cold glance at the temporary Gunnery officer.
Gunomuboshu quickly shrunk back and corrected himself, saying "Yes ma'am."
"Too many areas are damaged. The engineering squad is spread too thin." Gurinshia said, "Please let me know what sections you want prioritized."
"The engines." Lafiel immediately responded. "I will not allow my ship to fly on a broken wing."
"Yes, ma'am." The Chief Engineer immediately pounded away at her desk console, issuing her subordinates detailed orders.
If Samson were sitting there, he would probably sarcastically point out the Star Force regulation against overworking the crew.
As the Chief Engineer finished issuing orders, both vessels once again closed on each other. It was already too late to evade, so once again the ships grazed each other, exchanging heavy rounds of beam fire.
As Lafiel listened to the damage report, she studied the Plane Space map. Space-time bubble 2-1-1 was already pretty close to their bubble. If they were to maintain a one vs one situation then their next attack may be their last chance. But the Flicaubh still one more glimmer of hope.
"The Marusukov is approaching." Ekuryua said.
Looks like the Marusukov had disposed of their opponent and decided to come to the Flicaubh's aid. As disgraceful as it was, it could not be helped.
"This ship will now head towards the Marusukov." Despite issuing these orders, Lafiel knew the approaching space-time bubble still had the upper hand when it came to speed.
Even if Lafiel did not say anything, Arubofu understood the gravity of the situation.
"Captain," Arubofu’s voice betrayed his anxiousness, "The next shot will determine the victor."
"Alright, I'm look forward to your performance."
Fortunately, the result of the effort put in by the Junior Officer is starting to show. The enemy's engine power had dropped noticably. The electromagnetic rail cannons on the bow of the Flicaubh simultaneously fire.
Three nuclear fusion warheads hurled themselves at the enemy vessel. Although the warheads were equipped with their own engines, their weak output only allowed small corrections in trajectory. However, that is all they needed.
One of the warhead managed to change course mid-flight and slammed into the belly of the enemy ship, successfully penetrating the outer armor.
"GOT EM!" Arubofu shouted, unable to contain himself.
At that moment, the enemy ship was covered in anti-matter fuel, and was completely converted into energy.
"Space-time separation. Quickly."
As the mass in a space-time bubble increases, its speed decreases proportionally. In order to maintain mobility, it is crucial to jettison excesses masse from the bubble.
The space-time bubble covering the Flicaubh started to jettison what was just now the enemy ship, creating ripples upon ripples of space-time particles.
"XO, proceed towards the Marusukov. Communications Officer, send out an identification signal. Chief Engineer and Supply Officer, damage report."
The people on the bridge once again went to work. However, Arubofu, who just completed his task, went into a trance-like state.
"If you are tired, shall I temporally take over for you?" Lafiel asked, with the best of intentions.
"Sorry, I couldn't possibly allow myself to let you do that, Captain."
"I see." Hiding her disappointment, Lafiel turned back to the captain's console which displayed damage reports from Gurinshia and Jinto. Although the engines were spared from any serious damage, their combat ability had dropped significantly.
In theory the Basroil could still fight alongside the Marusukov, but a final decision should wait for a full damage assessment.
"Initiate inter-bubble message with the flagship." Lafiel orderd Yateshu to report their damage situation to the squadron flagship Shutukov and that they will be awaiting orders.
"Incoming message from the Shutukov: Both Marusukov and Flicaubh will jointly engage enemy space-time bubble 2-1-1, end of message."
"I guess the Commander won't let us rest so easily." Lafiel let slip a smile. Looks like they'll have to hold off on mourning the dead for now.
So be it. Although I can't pilot the ship myself, my blood is still boiling for battle.
"Communications Officer, initiate inter-bubble communication with the Marusukov." Lafiel picked up the microphone to once again broadcast a ship-wide announcement, "This is your Captain. This ship will soon engage in another battle!"
The war between The Humankind Empire of Abh and the Three Nations Alliance was in its seventh year. Throughout this time, the Empire still had the upper hand. Three years in, the Empire initiated Operation Phantom Flame, cutting off one quarter of the United Mankind's star systems.
This was followed by Operation Hunter, tasked with recovering territories wrested from it at the outbreak of the war. After this operation, the Empire had completely recovered its territories and started to consolidate newly acquired ones. This led to a brief period of peace in Plane Space.
For territories freshly conquered by the Empire, strict policies were set for those with knowledge of Plane Space travel. The Empire's sole interest lay in monopolizing Plane Space and preventing access by others. Because of this, the Empire did not interfere with terrestrial affairs. The Abh's preferred method was to patiently wait for a blockaded surface world to surrender. If they refused, the Star Force may eventually dispatch special forces tasked with monitoring the world.
In order to consolidate their forces for the next operation, the Empire continued to monitor unstable worlds, sometimes going as far as to threaten them with military action. With a strategy rooted in patience, this often led to long combat deployments, after which Abh soldiers were required to take a vacation.
Traditionally, the Abh feel that the best place to find love is on the battlefield. But most also feel such a place is hardly the most fitting location to pursue an emotion such as love. Most soldiers preferred to ask for leave from the Star Force, board a small trading vessel headed for the capital and continue to cultivate the seedling called love.
To the Abh, war was their day-to-day life, and despite the fact that from a lander's perspective the Abh are exceptionally long lived, no matter how long you live there is still a limit. The Abh themselves feel that their life span is actually quite short, so they have to remember that sayings like 'war is the primary goal of life' should not be treated as gospel.
Of course, the Empire was continuously on the look-out for the Three Nations Alliance's counter-offensive. For the two previous military campaigns the Alliance had been primarily on the defensive. It was obvious that they were reserving their main forces for an opportunity to counter-attack.
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However, the Three Nations Alliance is quite slow to take action; there is virtually no indication of any type of offensive. Therefore during this time when the armies of both sides are at a standstill, one by one the Empire builds more ships, and gradually the Empire finishes training more soldiers for the battles ahead. One by one the ships that went to subjugate planets and soldiers, separated from their love interest, are to return to the battlefront; once again the Empire finishes preparing for the next military operation.
Although the Empire is extremely surprised at how the enemy up until now has still not conducted any offensive operations, it's not like the Empire has decided to take a paid vacation. The Abh's attitude towards the situation in normal space has always been straightforward and impatient.
A new operation is finally about to begin.
First the empire decided to attack and control the territories between Rusuiisu Kingdom and Syuruguzede Kingdom to the center of the galaxy. At the same time, another force would start from Baruke Kingdom and force their way up along the borders of United Mankind and People's Sovereign Stellar Union to the center of the galaxy. This way the United Mankind would be completely isolated.
Although some people suspect that even without using Plane Space, the Three Nations Alliance still have other channels of communications, but the possibility of that is almost non-existent.
The Empire dubbed this operation as "Twin Thorns".
As was customary with grand operations, the commander would be the Crown Prince and Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Fleet, Marshall Ablïarsec Néïc Lamsar Larth Barcœr Dusanh (Dusanyu). However because this operation would require two extended fronts, the Crown Prince decided, in light of this situation, to prepare to stay in Lakfakalle in order to plan both fronts.
In reality the people in command of the two massive fleets are two deputy commanders-in-chiefs. The one in command of the fleet in the new territories is also the deputy commander-in-chief of Operation Twin Thorns, Star Force Marshall Cotoponic. The one in charge of the Baruke Kingdom front is also another deputy commander-in-chief of Operation Twin Thorns, Star Force Marshall Trife.
As for Deputy Hecto-Commander Ablïarsec's assault frigate the Flicaubh, it belongs in the 24th Twin Thorns Fleet, the Assault Division Bosuru, and the 1st Devastation Squadron.
"Captain, it's the signal to retreat!"
Not long after the Flicaubh and the Marusukov together sent the enemy to their graves, that message came from the Shutukov.
The flagship of the 24th Twin Thorns Fleet the Erukau sent out the retreat signal. All ships that receive the signal should also send the same signal out. The whole fleet is soon resonating the retreat signal, creating a burst of Plane Space disturbance.
"Relay it immediately." Lafiel orders, however the Flicaubh should be one of the last ships to receive the signal. "Begin space-time separation."
The Flicaubh once again returned to its single space-time bubble.
"Is there any instructions from the fleet flagship?" Lafiel asks the communication officer.
"Nothing ye... no, I just received it." Yateshu begins to decrypt the message, "Sender: 1st scourge squadron headquarters; Receiver: all ships under our command. The message is: "fall back and assemble at the squadron base-of-operations. Over."
To put it simply, the commanding officer wants all ship captains to determine their own course of retreat. It looks like our commanding officer really has a lot of trust in us.
"Put our space-time bubble into standstill mode."
Although Lafiel issued the order, Ekuryua did not immediately carry it out. In fact she looked at her with a surprised glance.
"Continue to follow the space-time particle flow, and be on the lookout for any changes." Lafiel clarifies.
"Yes ma'am." Ekuryua nodded. "space-time bubble is now maintaining a standstill mode."
Lafiel focuses her gaze on the Plane Space map.
The battlefront is, as usual, confusing as ever, in combat zones space-time bubbles are seen everywhere. Also there are enemies chasing ships that are trying to retreat from the battlefront. But this chaotic state was already gradually becoming more controlled.
"We intercepted what seems to be the enemy fleet's retreat signal!" Yateshu's report means an end to the chaos.
The enemy squadrons are bit by bit breaking away from the battlefield; of course, our side does not show any signs of giving chase.
It looks like the battlefront of our fleet has stretched quite a distance. Lafiel gives her next set of orders, "Change space-time bubble to complete movement mode, heading degrees 108. Retreat along the space-time particle flow to Sokuratesu star system. We are relieved of our position in battle. Chief Engineer!"
Right when the Captain called him, Gurinshia raised her head.
"Is there any need for emergency repairs?"
"Negative, Captain." Gurinshia responds, "Although the situation is very bad, we could probably still manage to make it back to dock.”
"Then, you should just let your men take a rest."
"They will definitely be happy to hear that." Gurinshia stood up and said, "However, I hope I could start compiling a list of things that require repairs. Captain, please allow me to leave the bridge."
"Then I’ll leave it to you." Lafiel turns her head towards Jinto.
"Captain, there are zero casualties, and there is no change in the interior environment of the ship." Jinto responded before Lafiel has a chance to ask.
"Very well." After Lafiel said those two words in her heart, she allowed herself to lie onto the back of the captain's chair.
She knows perfectly well how nervous she is. Although the words "War like Ablïarsec" are widespread saying among the Abhs, Lafiel also does not disagree with this statement. However this does not indicate that she herself treats the lives of her subordinates as expendable, and can still stay calm in a hair-trigger situation. Besides, without this nervousness, war would be but a constant exercise in boredom. But then again, some portion of landers appears to misunderstand the Abh as a people that enjoys massacring. This type of misunderstanding is really a gross exaggeration. To Lafiel, the Abh people only want to protect their right to live.
"How many more times do we need to fight this war?" Arubofu mumbles to himself.
"If we can defeat the enemy, then we should be able to relax right?" Gunomuboshu cautiously spoke his opinions.
"If that were the case, then they shouldn't even fight in the first place."
"Everybody has done bad things sometimes in their lives."
Arubofu can't help but smile, "But you do know what we don't do bad things right?"
"Really?" Gunomuboshu's quiets down with a confused looking face.
"If the enemy surrenders right now," Arubofu said to Gunomuboshu, "don't you feel that you have not fought enough?"
"Nope, there probably will be lots of more opportunities in the future."
"What! So basically you think that as long as the enemies in this system surrenders then everything will be fine? I originally thought you have a bit larger take on the whole situation."
"It can't be that the vanguard flyer feels that he has also not fought enough?"
"Of course not, I have already fought more than I can take."
"Really?" Lafiel inserts in the conversation, "I have never noticed that. Of course you could always file for a transfer early, do you want to be instructor in the engineering academy?"
"No, Captain could you please just forget what I just said. Actually I have decided to stay as a Gunnery Officer for the rest of my military career."
Of course, what Lafiel just said was just a joke. Arubofu is obviously a highly skilled Gunnery officer, and is also an even more valuable subordinate. Let alone Lafiel once used her power as a captain to check the personal records of each crew. She understands very well the thoughts in Arubofu's heart can only be wished for from a talented Abh.
"Then it should be very difficult right?" Gunomuboshu said, "As the Vanguard Flyer you can always get promoted. Maybe your next assignment will be the captain of your own attack ship."
Arubofu only opened his mouth and laughed a bit.
"Actually, Line Wing Flyer," Yateshu explains to Gunomuboshu, "This person has already twice declined the promotions to Deca-Commander."
"Why?" Gunomuboshu asked the gunnery officer with a bewildered look on his face.
"Didn't I already say it? I am already satisfied with being a gunnery officer. No wait, actually I could be plenty satisfied with just flying the ship. If I were to be promoted, then I will no longer have this opportunity. Even if I could fly another ship, I don't want to fly any transport ships nor any line-of-battle ships.”
"But you can also be a pilot by being the captain of an attack ship." Gunomuboshu points out Arubofu's flaw, "If you have to make a comparison, don't you think that being an attack ship captain gives you more freedom?"
"I certainly don't think so.” Arubofu said, "To shoulder the responsibilities of a whole ship really is overwhelming. I think it is best to work in a post where the responsibilities are relatively light."
"The Gunnery Officer's responsibilities are also quite heavy too." Lafiel said.
"What you said is very true, Captain." Arubofu did not refute that, "But, if you compare the responsibilities between the Gunnery Officer and the Captain, then I think the responsibilities of the captain are still heavier. Actually as long as you are happy the weight of your responsibilities should not matter, but there has to be a limit to the amount of weight.
"Gunnery officer is your limit then?"
"Yes," Arubofu said while nodding, "To decide the extent of one's promotion limit is a privilege that Royalty cannot enjoy. Don't you feel very envious?"
Lafiel almost agreed with this Gunnery Officer's logic without giving it deeper thought; because it is the duty of Royalty to accept promotions given to them. Although Lafiel's father, Dubleuscr Larth Dubeusec, once said that he has given up on being the emperor a long time ago, but before the start of the war he was already promoted to the position of Admiral. From the time that war had broken out until now, he had been further promoted to grand admiral and now commands an active fleet on the battlefield. Even if it is not possible to achieve the rank of commander-in-chief of the Empire's fleets, all Royalty, before retirement from the Star Force, hope to possess a high enough military ranking to be in charge of their own fleets. They also bear the great responsibility of supporting the Star Force from the side whenever the empire is in a time of crisis.
Much less right now is already a time of war; therefore Lafiel doesn't have choice in the matter. She can only intently aim for a high goal.
From birth this view has been ingrained as what is certain, and right now she does not have any objections to this way of life. Only that she will sometimes suddenly feel a wave of disdain towards this unjust fact.
"What is your dream, Gunomuboshu?" Lafiel steered the conversation towards the line wing flyer.
"My dream is to become an admiral." Gunomuboshu answers without the least bit of hesitation.
"I have not heard such an ending direct dream in a while." Yateshu said in a mischievous tone.
"Who told you to live under a rock anyways." This was Arubofu's assessment. "Speaking of which, what is your dream?"
"You are talking about me?" Yateshu looks like he is very hesitant, "Well, how do I say this. As long as I get a star, then I'll be plenty satisfied."
"Hum, so all this time you were having the delusion of becoming a baron?"
"It is also nothing more than a mere delusion."
Current the mood inside Flicaubh is still pretty warm and fragrant; this should be considered a good thing. The next time they go into battle, it is always the responsibility of Lafiel to keep everyone alive so they can return safely.
The Kemal Sord is a fairly well protected stronghold.
The People's Sovereign Stellar Union uses a type of weapon called the "ultra long-range autonomous space-time mines." Just as its name suggested, they are a type of mines with the range of small warships. However due to this type of mine being an unmanned weapon, it has almost zero flexibility. Adding to the fact that in normal space they are less agile than normal mines, therefore the use of this type of weapon has strict limitations.
Although the Abh consider The People's Sovereign Stellar Union to be one of the most boring opponents among landers nations. They regard that nation, who values the uses of these ultra long-range autonomous space-time mines as weapons that has strict limitations, with a "marvelous" evaluation. In addition, the use of this type of uncommon weapon in the defense of the Kemal Sord also provided them with a fairly powerful advantage.
Inside the Kernel Sord there appears to exist a large amount of these ultra long-range autonomous space-time mines manufacturing plants. In addition, the raw materials are supplied from within the system. That is, the enemy would never have to worry about running low on ammunition.
The Star Force originally decided to gather the guard ship squadrons and use them to attack the enemy. However, if these guard ships were to be separated from the assault ships or cruisers, then they become very vulnerable. If a wave of space-time bubble mines were to also contain any enemy space-time bubble ships among them, then the result would be more disastrous.
In a war before you have any record of the enemy's capabilities; there is always a few times where normal skirmishes are fought. During this time, it is a necessity to chip away at the power of the enemy fleet. Of course, (the Star Force?) knows this very well.
To The People's Sovereign Stellar Union, the battle to meet the approaching enemy this time should be mostly probing in nature. Thinking carefully, this is probably their first time to carry out a formal combat operation. Before, this nation acted just like a scared child afraid of being discarded by his friends. The Abh's impression of them is that they are fighting this one purely symbolic battle as a sign of cooperation with the United Mankind.
Even at the start of the Twin-Thorn's operation, when the empire already started invading their star systems; the People's Sovereign Stellar Union were still not very willing to fight. Perhaps it was their plan to draw the Star Force deep into their territory. But the rear guard Twin-Thorn's 25th fleet would fight courageously to ensure that the Star Force can always communicate vital information back to the empire headquarters. This type of strategy has no real significance, as long as the time comes when the branch of the thorn completes its growth, then the People's Sovereign Stellar Union would be completely isolated from their allies outside.
When the battlefront, at last, almost reached the door steps of the Kemal Sord, The People's Sovereign Stellar Union also seemed to finally start to take the battle more seriously. To most of the frontline troops, this fact is actually joyful to some, but also at the same time it means that many fierce battles ahead are seemingly unavoidable.
Thinking up to now, Lafiel, while maintaining her composure, peered a glance at Ekuryua – 'What would her dream be?'
Although Lafiel proceeded to open her mouth, she did not actually ask the question. "I'm going to take a rest, Ekuryua; I'll leave everything to you. The crew is to take turns resting according to their schedule."
"Understood." was Ekuryua's response.
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