Seikai no Senki:Volume4 Chapter2(jp)
Chapter 2: Line-of-Battle ship “Kaisof”
The other branch of Twin Thorns is currently advancing at a smooth pace as well.
With the 11th fleet ofTwin Thorns in the lead, they gradually force their way towards the center of the galaxy. The main enemy on this side is the United Mankind.
If this operation were to be successfully completed, the United Mankind’s sphere of influence would diminish by more than half. And at the same time, communications with their ally, the Greater Alkont Republic, would be severed as well.
In other words, the main goal of Operation Twin Thorns is to cut off all channels of communication between the three allied nations — making each of the the nations sink into a state of isolation.
The heart of Operation Twin Thorns is the 13th fleet. Their flag ship, the patrol ship Shaikau, is currently anchored within the Elcon star system, near the port facilities.
Two SecDaghs (2000 kilometers) away, stands the attack division, Guderusu, patrolling around the orbit of the Shaikau. One of those ships was the Line-of-Battle ship Kaisof.
A ship-of-the-line is a type of ship that is loaded with a large amount of space-time mines. Their only mission on the battlefield is to launch these mines. These line-of-battle ships are basically the motherships of mines. Although line-of-battle vessels are equipped with an enormous amount of defensive weapons, they are, in essence, transport vessels.
The Empire’s mines may be considered small in size, compared to the ones the People's Sovereign Stellar Union uses. But what they lack in size, they make up for with tremendous volume.
Despite thousands of years of improvements, a space-time generator machine still occupies a considerable amount of space, and the amount of anti-matter fuel it needs cannot be overlooked. Therefore, the line-of-battle ship, which carries a large amount of mines, is just monstrous in size. It has the equivalent of nearly three patrol ships in mass.
A line-of-battle ship is not only famous for its enormity, but also the amount of personnel that it needs. Normally, most of the people that are on-board a ship of the Empire are engineers, and they all have individual duties to maintain on the ship. However, among the crew of a ship-of-the-line, in addition to the engineers responsible for maintaining the ship's operation, there are many specialist mine engineers who take care of the mines.
Under these conditions, the scale of the residential area of a line-of-battle ship may not be as expansive as a city, but can be considered at least the size of a village. In addition, the Abh consider line-of-battle ships and transport ships to be “children’s vessels”.
The significance of that name is recognized as an old Star Force tradition. Long ago, regardless of the size of the ship — peace or war — warships are where the Abh raised their children. To the Abh, who consider space as home, raising their children this way was only natural.
However, when the Abh became aware of the enemy’s negative view of “bringing children into battle”, they reassessed their policies and quickly abolished the tradition. Because the Abh worried the enemy would misunderstand — or so to say, accidentally discover that the Abh would go into battle half-heartily. The Abh consider this as a show of respect to the enemies who are willing to meet on the battlefield and fight to the death.
Nonetheless, during times of peace, the Star Force permitted soldiers to take their children to the bridge while carrying out their duties. However, because the pros outweigh the cons, the Star Force currently would not place flyers raising children on small-scale vessels.
However, on large scale vessels such as the ship-of-the-line, the military still allows soldiers to bring their children on duty. Of course, this is only allowed during peace time. Except permitting special circumstances, personnel other than soldiers are strictly prohibited from boarding a military vessel.
The Kaisof’s residential area was originally allocated space to setup a nursery as well. Because this warship was built after the breakout of war, however, there has not been one child that has played in that area. Instead, during the early phases of the outfitting of the warship's sections, the space was already outfitted to something that had nothing to do with a nursery at all.
Right now, it's a mess hall for flyers. The thought among the fleet crew is that converting the nursery to the flyer mess hall is relatively convenient. If the Kaisof were able to smoothly come out of this war in one piece, then maybe the area will be reconverted into a nursery.
However, Deputy Signal Officer Line Wing Flyer, Duhir, of the Kaisof, did not like this place.
“Deputy Signal Officer Line Wing Flyer!”
“Yes, Captain”, responded Line-of-Battle ship Kaisof’s Deputy Signal Officer Line Wing Flyer Ablïarsec Néïc Dubleuscr Wemdaisal Duhir, as he put down his bowl.
He looked to where the voice came from. Currently, Duhir was sitting at the very end of a long dining table. Every flyer on the Kaisof dined at this table. The voice came from a person sitting at the center — a male with blue hair, and the captain of the Kaisof, Hecto-Commander Berusot.
However , Duhir’s eyes were drawn not to the captain, but to the wall behind him.
Although this place had been converted into a mess hall, the walls were still that of a nursery. Since everyone staying in the room were children during the initial design, they had to take into consideration shrapnel ricocheting off the walls in zero gravity. Therefore, the walls were fitted with high-grade impact absorption material. Also, they're covered with pictures of winged cats and smiling stars. In short, they're filled with pictures only a child would enjoy.
When Duhir thought of his childhood, he was similar to most Abh children. They all liked to collide into the wall and enjoy the sensation of being absorbed by it. It was a nostalgic feeling.
“Your face looks so boring,” Berusot said bluntly.
These words pulled Duhir out of his thoughts and back to reality.
The reason Duhir did not like the flyer’s mess hall was because of the custom that all flyers aboard the Kaisof would go to the hall at the same time. However, saying that is not totally correct. He actually was annoyed at the fact that the tradition was set in the first place. Moreover, all flyers were forced to respect each other, which included Berusot.
“I don't feel at all bored. If my expression made you feel that I was bored, then that's because...”
Isn’t it because you, yourself, felt bored, that you feel others are bored as well? Duhir thought to himself. Although he would never say it out loud, and felt giving any excuse would do.
“Am I being prejudiced?” said Berusot, disrupting Duhir’s train of thought.
Duhir bowed slightly and said, “I do not know of any prejudices the captain may have.”
“This... To royalty, can’t be fulfilling to serve on a ship-of-the-line, always far away from the frontlines... this type of prejudice.”
“No matter the post, an Ablïarsec is ready for death,” Duhir said firmly. At the same time, he began to think: Perhaps this captain is the one not satisfied in his position. If that were true, then Duhir should severely denounce the thought.
“Well said,” said Berusot nodding. However, his eyes were not upon Duhir, but rather, were concentrating on a dinner plate that just rose slowly from under the table.
“Thank you for your praise”, said Duhir, as he once again picked up his bowl from the table. Only, his long-craved, crane-egg soup had already gone cold.
“I was not praising you,” Berusot said, as he picked up another entrée.
“Is that so?” asked Duhir, also putting his bowl aside, setting in front of him a new entrée just picked up. The new dish was roasted pork.
This is okay too.Actually being praised by this captain is not something to be happy about.
Just as he had the thought, Berusot already started to bite into his roast as he said, “I, of course, have no intention of dying in this type of place.”
“You say you don't have any intent to die, then why did you come to the battlefield?” Line Wing Flyer Duhir asked without even time to put down his chopsticks. However, he immediately worried that his tone might have sounded like he was interrogating a senior officer.
“You can’t really just be seeking a place to die when you enter the battlefield?” At least, based on his expression, Berusot did not seem to be mad. However, the captain started to gaze at the dining table. “In my opinion, there are no thoughts more unfortunate than this.”
“I haven't yet given it much thought,” said Duhir, strongly to defend himself. “However, if we are just talking about the end, then I cannot rule out the possibility. To me, a so-called ‘death place’ is one where I carve my name into the ‘monument of no regret’ without shame. Also, I do not feel this vessel is something to be ashamed of.”
“My intention was not to deny your opinion. It is true that there is nothing to be ashamed of, dying on this ship, but it’s nothing to be proud of either.”
“I feel the captain’s chair is the best place to die,” Duhir said bluntly.
“Listen up, you may become the emperor in the future, and that may be well. After you ascend to the throne, I hope you may reminisce of me once in a while. But even if that day does come, you cannot causally allow your worth to be imposed by someone else. Much less now since you are only a Line Wing Flyer — the lowest ranked officer on the bridge. If my cat was still here, at your rank, you would be responsible for feeding him!”
Duhir felt in his heart that he was lucky his seat was one relatively far away from the captain’s chair. If Berusot’s hands were long enough, when passing on his experiences, he would definitely pat Duhir’s head firmly. Maybe this is his way showing friendliness?, he thought. But Duhir really could not bear to be treated like this.
“I am very sorry.”
“Those who are Princes should not apologize so casually.”
“Then what kind of manner does the Captain want from me?” Duhir snapped back. “Do I behave as deputy communication officer or should I act as a member of the Imperial family?”
“I guess it all depends on my mood.”
Duhir was speechless.
“Of course, I’m not asking you to read my mind.”
“I’m grateful for the captain’s empathy,” Duhir said with caution.
“I want you to feel with intuition.”
“Are there any differences between the two?”
“Of course there are differences!” Berusot said, starting to disregard his etiquette, waving his chopsticks in the air without restraint. “For a person that has a chance to sit in the jade seat, how would you not be clear of the distinctions? You don't have any questions, right?”
“Could you please point it out for your subordinate?” Duhir said, word by word.
“This so-called ‘reading my mind’ requires you to use your brain, but intuition and feeling does not require your brain.” Berusot finally calmed his chopsticks. “If you do not begin to think, then it is natural for thoughts from deep within your head to pop out.”
“I believe that intuition and feeling are rather difficult.”
“Even if it is difficult, you have to do it. Though, still, you don't need to get your brain to do that kind of complex task. You are but only a flyer who does miscellaneous tasks, so just stick with your intuition and feeling.”
“I feel you have already brought your subordinate a very unreasonable impression,” Duhir said unhappily.
“You are full of it, your Prince Majesty.”
Duhir was unable to speak. Since the other person had already called him the prince, he could not go and apologize to him. Duhir believed that he shouldn't apologize, but he had already given up on seriously responding to the captain. If any casual apology could allow Duhir to escape from this conversation, then he would do that.
“Captain, please stop bullying your subordinates.” At this time, the female sitting next to Duhir extended her hand in aid. She was Duhir’s direct superior, Senior Signal Officer Vanguard Flyer Vonyu.
Although Duhir didn't hate her, he, nevertheless, couldn't stand her either. The way that Vonyu treated Duhir was that of a client in a business deal — an outsider.
It was the same, even now. Although she called Duhir ‘my subordinate’, from the tone of her voice it was very obvious her words were more of a joke. Duhir thought to himself, Vonyu doesn't actually see me as her subordinate. More like partners on the same ship.
“These words have two points that require correction,” Berusot said.
“Please, speak.” Vonyu said, as if she was facing bitter tea.
“First, I am just having a conversation with my subordinate, not bickering with your subordinate. Your opinion may be a bit excessive.”
“What you said is not wrong, however...” began the retort by the Senior Signal Officer Vanguard Flyer with a head full of elegant, grass-colored hair.
But Berusot forcefully cut her words short. “The other point is, I did not mean to bully him.”
“Then, we have a difference of opinion,” said Vonyu. “Since it’s like this, why is the captain being so forceful? It can’t be that you are really teaching him a lesson out of love?”
“I am merely following family tradition.”
Duhir was very surprised.
Unable to contain his mouth, he asked, “Is the Captain related to the Spaurh clan?”
This doesn't seem likely, because many side-families in that clan use the name Spaurh. This is different from the Imperial family, where only direct descendants may use the family name Ablïarsec.
“Something like that,” Berusot said vaguely.
Duhir waited patiently for the captain to continue.
“Because the family clans were decided before the establishment of the empire, so strictly speaking we are not of the same clan,” explained Berusot.
“Even using the broadest sense, you are still not of their clan!” Vonyu responded sharply.
In short, the captain’s ancestors should be working in the engine department of the Ablïarsec’s city ship, Duhir speculated.
The Spaurh clan are actually descendants of the engine department when the empire was established. At that time, inside that large spaceship, that held the entire civilization of the Abh people, every department had its own perspective clan to manage it. Therefore, if Berusot’s family members are really descendants of someone formerly working in the engine department, then, more or less, they may have traditions of the Spaurh family. According to Abh knowledge, this situation could be said as a blood connection. But even by Abh logic, saying that you have a blood connection to people thousands of years ago is really a stretch.
“However, it is said that intelligence determines whether a person belongs to the navigation crew or engine crew.”
“I have never heard of this saying in my family,” said Duhir.
“Perhaps you didn't take note of it,” Berusot asserted.
“Even so, the circumstances here are different,” Vonyu said.
“As if I would neglect family tradition because of circumstances.”
“With all due respect, Captain, in your position, the opportunity to show your family tradition should be rare.” Vonyu said coldly.
“So what? Just because there is no opportunity, decay is not a tradition in our family tradition.”
“If this is truly the captain’s houses' family tradition, it would be so-splendid,” Vonyu said in a tone full of misgiving.
This delightful argument continued between Berusot and Vonyu. Although Duhir did not fully understand their goal, he felt that if this wasn’t to help digestion, then it may just have some kind of mysterious usefulness.
The other flyers seemed to have already been used to this. Already, some among them are happily starting conversations that are unrelated to the Captain and the Senior Signal Officer. Others continued to quietly dine on their meals.
Because Duhir could not find someone to chat with, he also becomes one of those quietly dining away.
“What are you drinking, Line Wing Flyer?” Berusot’s voice came suddenly.
“Are you asking what drink I am having?” responded Duhir, who did not expect the captain to ask this kind of question. “It’s hot til nom.”
“You sure like weird drinks.”
“Is it really?” responded the annoyed Duhir. “My sister sure likes it a lot.”
“Your sister... Is she her Majesty Lafiel?” asked Berusot, after thinking for a bit.
“I do not have any other siblings.”
“Really? Anyways, will her Majesty Lafiel be annoyed if her favorite drink is denied by someone?”
“No matter what it is, she does not like her indulgences to be teased by others.”
“Really? Never mind. I might as well try some too.”
Duhir was perplexed, and did not know how to respond. To invite the captain to try it would likely continue the argument, while asking him to stop would be awkward too.
However, Duhir no longer needed to respond because Berusot’s attention had already shifted on to another topic.
The meal finally came to an end as tea was being passed out, one by one, to everyone at the dining table.
“We have but only now for everyone to dine together,” Berusot started to speak. Usually in this situation, the captain would always use those words to end meal-time for the bridge crew.
“XO, what is the schedule for today?” Berusot asked.
“Today is the day we need to go pick up supplies,” his XO, Deca-Commander Kurobosu, replied.
“Ah, that's right,” Berusot said, as he crossed his arms in front of his chest.
In the last battle, the Kaisof already depleted half of its mines. In preparation for the next battle, this Line-of-Battle ship required resupplying, and today was that day.
“Excuse me,” said Duhir suddenly, standing up with determination.
Berusot stared with doubt.
“May I request that you leave the duty of piloting to me?”
In assault ships and cruisers, the direct impact of the pilot’s skill in combat is different. In a ship-of-the-line, as long as you are a bridge officer, anyone can carry out this task. Therefore, in a Line-of-Battle ship, the person in charge of piloting is not the captain and not the gunnery officer, but the deputy navigator, a person of lowest rank.
Much less, today’s task did not require combat maneuvers. Under these conditions, even on assault ships, the task would be forced upon the lowest-ranking officer.
The so-called ‘forced’ is actually from the point of view of the experienced flyers. To them, piloting a Line-of-Battle or transport ship is not fun at all. However, this really is a good experience for new flyers. It is no wonder that Duhir happily askes the captain to give him the opportunity.
“Whoa! I like your expression. Line Wing Flyer, I cannot help but want to order you to do so.”
“Unfortunately, no.” Berusot said.
“Please tell me the reason.” Duhir’s tone became more unyielding.
He strictly warned himself not to use his royal status to force others; but, to a new flyer, this level of request should still be within allowance.
“I do not need to give you a reason,” Berusot also said without any hesitation.
“I understand,” responded Duhir as he saluted the captain. Any further request would be out of line. “Please forgive me for my rudeness.”
“No, actually, you were not rude at all just now,” Berusot said with a malicious laugh. “Naturally, this is to be expected from an ambitious Line Wing Officer.”
Duhir found himself more and more annoyed at this person.
To replace a ship-of-the-line’s weapons, which are mines, is a difficult task. The reason is because of the large volume.
Actually, this has not been such a problem in the past. Back then they only needed enough mines for one battle. If they emptied their entire cache, they would only need to go back to the capital to resupply.
However, as the battlefront keeps on extending, doing so no longer works. After all, if every Line-of-Battle ship goes back to the capital to resupply after every battle, it would become troublesome tactically. At the same time, making transport ships continuously go back and forth to resupply mines would be too inefficient; knowing that the transport ships hold at best no more than one battle requirement payload of mines for a ship-of-the-line. So, the only difference would be that the Line-of-Battle ship themselves would not have to go back and forth. Instead, the Empire brought the mine factories closer to the battlefront.
A mine factory is being developed at the Elcon star system. Parts which cannot be manufactured locally, such as the space-time bubble generating engines, are brought in on transport ships with materials from nearby star systems.
The Kaisof also entered the line of vessels near the factory. The ship established a data connection with the factory and switched piloting to remote control operation. To express the minimum amount of resistance, Duhir used the data crystal around his head to obtain a perception of the space outside his ship.
“This is Elcon Mine Factory 1-0-2.” The mine factory’s flyer appeared on monitor. “Line-of-Battle ship Kaisof, please activate auto-pilot.”
“Understood,” Berusot responded. “Let’s do that, then.”
This should have been Duhir’s job, and he turned his controls of the ship over to automatic.
“As you see, Your Majesty, the so-called piloting is just something like this. There really isn’t much for you to do. Really boring, right?”
“Yes sir,” Duhir replied in agreement.
So far, from what Duhir could gather from his spatial sensors, the factory’s guiding lights were clearly visible.
The spatial sensors’ image and Kaisof’s image overlapped completely. Duhir was only pretending to control the ship.
Duhir's left hand, which was inserted into the control glove, moved unconsciously.
Of course, his control glove did not work now. It was only a formality.
As if responding to Duhir’s control, the Kaisof began to fire short bursts from the thrusters. After that, this Line-of-Battle ship entered into customary navigation.
“Line-of-Battle ship Kaisof, please prepare for mine resupply.” Instructions were sent from the mine factory.
“Very well, everything is according to schedule,” said Berusot as he stood up. “Senior Gunnery Officer, open all hatches.”
“Understood,” answered Senior Gunnery Officer Deca-Commander Kazuvu.
“Also, Deputy Signal Officer, take your hand out of the control glove.”
“Yes sir,” Duhir responded as he blushed deeply.
As he was doing that, he felt the captain hadn't needed to expose him in front of everyone.
“Are you not going to ask me for a reason?” Berusot asked.
“No sir, I will not.”
“I will tell you even if you don't ask — it is because your movements are so obvious.”
“Yes sir.” Although Duhir wondered for a time whether to apologize or not, at last, he decided to casually apologize. “I apologize for my actions.”
“Don't do it again,” said the captain, adding insult to injury.
During the conversation between the two, the Kaisof, little by little, was already nearing the mine factory.
Numerous transport ships were also near the enormous structure that was the Elcon Mine Factory 1-0-2’s true appearance. However, the Kaisof’s destination was not there.
Near the mine factory fields of mines stretching the area of several squads of warships, each giving an impression like it was chopped from an axe, all bundled together and floating in space, is the Elcon Mine Factory 1-0-2’s storage center.
Because the Kaisof required a special type of mine, the Kaisof docked beside the man-made structure.
“Initiating resupply,” came the factory communication.
These mines were not actually filled with anti-matter fuel. As a precaution, the anti-matter fuel was not pumped in until they were ready to be launched. Therefore, these mines presently did not have any mobility.
A small transport ship loaded with mines started to, one-by-one, resupply the Line-of-Battle ship with mines.
Duhir thought that maybe the captain wouldn't even let him pilot a transport ship.
52 hours later, the Kaisof is outfitted for battle, and it leaves for the Central Circle as part of the 13th Twin Thorns fleet.
Translator's Notes and References
- TL note: or wherever the ‘power’ seat is
- TL note: reference from the prologue, where the jade seat was reserved for the emperor or empress of the current empire on their flagship
- TL note: more like ‘shit’
- peach juice
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