Seikai no Senki:Volume4 Chapter5
Chapter 5: Imperial Order
"Number one, time-space fusion, enemy 907...destroyed. Number two, time-space fusion, enemy 632...destroyed. Number six and seven time-space fusion ......" a stream of monotonous reports from the communication officer echoes through the bridge of the ship-of-the-line ‘Kaisof’.
On this warship, the current reporting communication officer is Duhir.
While Duhir observed the time-space bubbles fusing on the plane-space projection map, his tongue was also busying away.
"Number eleven, time-space fusion, enemy 915…no change. Oh, it’s now destroyed. Number twelve, time-space fusion, enemy 338......"
"It’s going well," Hecto-Commander Bersot spoke.
"Quite so." Kazuvu also felt the same.
All that Duhir felt was emptiness.
Although the Kaisof’s mines destroyed numerous enemies and created many ripples in planer space, the majority of those enemies are just autonomous mines.
But destroying these mines will at least bring about a bit of consolation that they will not strike allied units.
"Is there anything unusual?" Bersot asked.
If the Captain asks a question then as subordinates they must have to answer. Each of the flight officers on the bridge reports no abnormalities at his station.
"Excellent, prepare to fire all remaining mines upon the next wave. Have we received the target yet?" – Bersot
Usually, a ship-of-the-line cannot choose its target. Military headquarters will determine the targets beforehand, and the ship just fires according to their instructions.
"Not yet." Senior communications officer Vonyu answered.
"What is command up to? Can it be that they will allow us to fire at will for once?"
"Please don’t force this ship to do the impossible, it would be terrible to give everyone false expectations." says Vonyu.
"The target has been transmitted by the flagship." – Kozuvu
"Is that so? Enter target information!" Bersot ordered in a monotonous voice.
"Target information entered." said Kozuvu.
"Commence time-space separation!" – Bersot
"Time-space separation." – Kozuvu
Mines are initially launched from within the Kaisof and stay within the ship’s time-space bubble. Upon Bersot’s command, these mines would all begin commencing time-space separation away from the Kaisof towards their target.
"Number 12: time-space separation, number 22: time-space separation" Duhir reports one by one the serial number of the mines commencing time-space separation.
As time went by, the Kaisof finally fired all its munitions. Duhir once again returns his gaze at the planer space map. Mines were shot from each ship of the Assault branch of the ‘Guderusu’ sub-fleet towards the enemy.
Patrol ships deployed at the front along with assault frigates moved out momentarily after the mines launched. As the mines begin to mix into their group, they proceed to attack.
Mines were also released from the enemy fleet as well. Time-space bubbles from both sides are shown to be merging.
"Number 24, time-space fusion, enemy 27…destroyed. Number 25, time-space fusion, enemy 53...no change. Number 26, time-space fusion ......" Duhir read off the battle results without a shred of excitement.
Mines that destroy each other create a big wave within plane-space, while the patrol warship and assault frigates kept pushing forward against these waves. Finally, all mines are destroyed.
"Retreat signal from squadron flagship," reported Vonyu.
Duhir glanced at the planer space map: the squadron flagship has already started to withdraw.
"Very well, that's it for today," Bersot stretches himself, "Engines to full and set a course direction to 95. Follow the squadron flagship."
"Are we leaving the battlefield just like that?" Duhir can’t help but blurt out.
"Do you think a ship-of-the-line without mines has a chance in combat?" Bersot asks surprisingly gently.
"None," replied Duhir.
A fierce battle continues far ahead in the distant.
However, for a ship-of-the-line, with its big body, they can only be considered as bait on the battlefield. And the Star Force has yet to be desperate enough to use them as such to lure in the enemy. No matter from what point you are looking, command’s orders were correct. In addition, since an order was already given by the squadron flagship, the Captain has little choice but to comply. However, Bersot's joyful voice felt odd.
Duhir can’t help but feel shame that he has blurted out his personal opinions on the matter.
For a person having the family name of the Abriel, during the time when they are growing up, they will surely be taught not to say anything unreasonably critical to their commanding officers. Duhir believes that perhaps being born of royalty that some of the officers may fear offending him and can’t help but receive those criticisms. However, Bersot seems like a guy that would not care about such a thing.
"His Highness the Prince seems dissatisfied," Bersot went on with a seemingly malicious smile.
Duhir was not able to come to like his smiling face.
"That is not the case," he denied.
Bersot expressed a look of disbelief and said, "Don’t say these uninteresting things."
"My words are not uninteresting," Duhir denied.
"Can’t you stop contradicting your captain at every turn?" Bersot said smiling wryly.
"I'm really sorry." Even though the Captain does not seem angry.
"Look, Line Wing Officer Abriel," the Captain starts to preach, "No matter what, your presence is special."
"True," Duhir very frankly accepted what Bersot is saying.
To the Empire, royalties are indeed special, although he is not in line for the throne and has questioned the chain of command; Duhir still feels that he does not need to reject his birth right to the inheritance of the throne. In short, you only need to view your status as a talent, after all, the Star Forces does not regard being modest a necessary virtue.
"In other words," Bersot said proudly, "we who are assigned to you are special as well."
"No," said Duhir reflexively. "I was posted under the Captain not the other way around."
"On the surface it is." asserted Bersot without any doubt.
"It should also be so in reality." Duhir refuted on the spot.
"Is is so?" asked Bersot's in a voice that lacked confidence.
"I believe it is." replied Duhir feeling his confidence fading away.
"Such things are trivial." Vonyu suddenly inserted.
"Can it be that you believe that whether or not you are special is not important at all?" Bersot asked in a tone of surprise.
"I am very aware of the fact that my existence is special." Vonyu replied as if she wants to drop this topic, "There is no need to begin seeking proof of it today."
"Are you deliberately trying to change the subject?" – Bersot
"That is not my intention." responded Vonyu with a surprised expression.
"Listen up, the ‘special’ that you have just mentioned is related to individualism. On this level, even I realize that I am special along with every other Abh. The 'special' that I was referring to, how should I put it, relates to your place in the Empire. Right, in other words ......"
"… The Captain is interested whether you will have an outstanding military career." Vonyu helped the captain to simplify his conclusion.
Bersot looked at Vonyu as if he is staring at a refined and courteous cat and asked, "Can it be that you have no interest in an outstanding military career?"
"Indeed," Vonyu asserted flatly. "As the Empire is at war it is my duty to fulfill my role as one from the warrior class. But in this world, there surely are many things that are more fun than serving on a warship."
"That I understand……" Bersot said woefully, "However, can it be that you have never considered giving yourself a choice in where to fight a battle?"
"I have not. In any case, no matter who I am going to kill, they are just some unknown people." replied Vonyu ill-humoredly.
Bersot, by expressing no malice, responded, "How do I put it, the way you say it is very blunt……"
"That is the nature of war." – Vonyu
"I don't don’t need someone who doesn’t even have a goal in the military should be lecturing me about war." – Bersot
"I have no intention to lecturing you Captain; I only know how to clearly express my thoughts. In addition, I believe that even if the army allows its soldiers to think about the meaning of the war, I don’t think anything good can come of it. Besides……" Vonyu suddenly cuts herself off.
"Besides what?" – Bersot
"It’s nothing. To continue this would be very rude to my superior officer." – Vonyu
"Then, why don’t you just say it as if you are talking to yourself in a low voice." – Bersot
"The fact that your dream is only to become a squadron commander says that you are a man with little ambition" Vonyu whispered.
But her voice was enough to reach Bersot's ear. "This is not my dream. What I mean is ‘at the minimum’ I hope to attain the rank of squadron commander or something similar. And as long as I don’t die, this is definitely realizable. How can you then say this is just a dream?"
"Please, you don’t need to respond to a person just talking herself. Much less……" In that moment, Vonyu gazed at Duhir with a meaningful expression. However this may not have been deliberate because when she became conscious of it, she quickly shifted her gaze elsewhere.
"Forget it, what you have said is not wrong" Bersot stared at Duhir with a mischievously delightful smile. “To talk about career in front of the child who may sit on the Jade Imperial Throne, I must be going insane.”
The Imperial Throne…….
It would be a lie to say that he had not thought about it. Whenever he thought of the eight serpent heads, which is the symbol of the Emperor, he inevitable sees his older sister Lafiel’s floating image. For Duhir, he cannot imagine her accepting anything less.
But even though Lafiel is not likely the first female candidate for the next Empress, among the eight royal families, there are still many more people who are nearer to the Royal Throne than her. Not to mention that Duhir has only taken his first steps down that path.
Besides, Duhir actually doesn’t have any strong desire to become the emperor.
His father, King Crÿub Dubeusec, once had this to say—— as soon as you are born into the Imperial family, you carry all sorts of obligations. However, to become Emperor is not included among them. After all, the Empire has already prepared numerous candidates to fill the spot of Emperor.
When he heard the words, Duhir did not feel anything in particular because these types of thing are already very clear to him. At the time he felt it weird. Why would his father be talking about matters that are such common knowledge?
But now, after living among the people with whom had little contact with the Imperial family made him realize the weight of the words of his father.
When these people are near Royalty, they will naturally assume that he will one day take the throne, even if nobody is rude enough to say it out loud. But because no one is willing to bring it up, he feels an even greater pressure upon him and feels as if going for the Imperial throne is his duty.
Duhir continues to maintain his silence because he doesn’t feel that he needs to respond to anything, which made him feel just a bit more relieved.
"Captain !" Vonyu suddenly frowned as she raised her hands to press down on her circlet.
"A message?" asked Bersot.
"Yes, please wait." Says Vonyu as she concentrates on her spatial sensor.
"Is the message from that space-time bubble?" Bersot asked pointing his command stick at the planer space map. That space-time bubble was of a communications ship. Although it is natural that a communications ship is on the battlefield, what is strange in this case is their position.
"Yes it is." Vonyu noded, "It is a message from fleet headquarters for the Captain. I am transferring it your clyuno, Captain."
"A message from fleet HQ to me?" Bersot mutters in a confounded tone while looking at his clyuno at the same time. As he read the message, he suddenly snorted from his nose, "Senior communications officer, send an inter-bubble communication to squadron flagship.”
"Please tell me the contents." replied Vonyu.
"With orders from fleet HQ, this warship request permission is to commence individual action." – Bersot
Vonyu carried out the order promptly. "Communiqué sent."
"Now, does Line Wing Officer Abriel know where we will be going to?" Bersot asked out of the blue this baffling question.
"No, I don't" replied Duhir without emotions.
‘How would I possibly know,’ which was the first thing that came to his mind.
"Captain, inter-bubble communication from squadron headquarters" Vonyu reported. "It says, permission for individual action granted."
"Very well." Bersot began ordering, "Senior navigator, perform space-time fusion immediately with communication ship ‘Tokrool’."
‘Tokrool’ was the ship which has just sent the inter-bubble communication to them. "Is it by any chance, Captain, that this is your long awaited dream coming true?" Vonyu teases.
"What is my long awaited dream?" – Bersot
Vonyu was about to open her mouth to answer.
"Enough," the Captain waves with his hand. "No need to answer. I understand."
"Then I guess it hasn’t come true?" – Vonyu
"No, HQ certainly won’t specially send out somebody just to notify this ambitionless man’s dream has been fulfilled" Bersot gazed at the senior communications officer. "Didn’t you have something you wanted to say?"
"May I say those words to myself?” Asked Vonuy in a calm tone.
"As long as I'm not around" the Captain, using a bold tone, allowed this liberty.
"But what if there are other people around?" – Vonyu
"Do not ask for permission to talk dirty behind that person’s back." – Bersot
"What you say is correct, I won't ask for permission then." – Vonyu
"Although I’m not clear on the situation, my mood is still that of the remnants of a routed army." Bersot sat down into the captain's seat. "Anyway, our duty is to let Line Wing Officer Abriel transfer to the ‘Tokrool’."
"I’m being transferred?" Duhir was surprised.
"Indeed." Bersot nodded to him, "You have been summoned by fleet headquarters."
"Is it really a summoning?" he asked again but thought it was stupid to do so.
"Do you know why?" – Bersot
"No, none at all" Duhir shook his head.
"Don’t be modest, for you are still young." – Bersot
"I am not being modest" Duhir cannot comprehend what the captain is trying to say.
"You could have at least sharpen up your tone and said ‘how the hell would I know’." – Bersot
"The military academy did not teach such etiquettes." – Duhir
"But I’ve learned it and I am graduated from there as well." – Bersot
Duhir let loose a deep sigh from his heart while keeping a serious appearance. If he honestly wanted to argue with this captain, he will probably suffer a complete mental breakdown.
"In short, you are to go back to fleet HQ." – Bersot
"Captain, do you know of anything?" – Duhir
"Indeed." Bersot said filled with confidence.
"I would appreciate any further details." Duhir's eyes twinkled.
"Of course it has something to do with your title, or, is there something else special about you?" – Bersot
Since he has never heard of fleet HQ ever summoning lowly Line Wing Officer before, even if that Line Wing Officer is of royalty, this is the only possibility that he can think of as well.
"Although, fleet headquarters may have given some special consideration to the Imperial family, but I do not think that they will extend any special treatment to me as well."
Although Duhir responded as such, he is thinking about something else entirely in his mind. No matter how he thought of it, it’s hard to make sense of it. ‘Am I special in some other way besides my royal linage?’
"The only thing I can be sure is that they surely didn’t summon you back just for some social gathering." Bersot says.
Even if the Emperor’s grandson were to be under his own unit, as the commander of the Star Force, he would not summon him just to say hi. On the contrary, this type of behavior is considered an insult to the Abriel name.
"Right. Therefore, I have no insights about this order." Duhir said honestly.
"Hm." Bersot pondered with his hand to his chin, “Looks like these orders are related in part to your special position, and in part due to some unknown but important situation. So this has nothing to do with a lowly Hecto-Commander’s dream of being promoted to squadron leader and everything to do with some other special reason to summon you.”
‘Is that really so?’ Duhir thought to himself.
"Space-time fusion with communications ship ‘Tokrool’ in 70 minutes." reported the senior navigator.
Although 13th Twin Thorns Fleet Flagship ‘Shykau’ also entered from the Elkon gate, it had been currently located far from the frontlines. Because there are only a few warships accompanying it, most people would not believe that this is the fleet flagship. And the only indication that this may be the flagship is the frequent amount of inter-bubble communications that comes in and out from the communication ship.
The communications ship ‘Tokrool’ is one of those working for the ‘Shykau’.
The ‘Shykau’ is a patrol warship, but has been modified to become the fleet headquarters’ warship.
As a squadron flagship must participate in a battle as well with their limited number of command personnel there is no distinction between it and other warships. In addition, the sub-fleet flagship requires even more sophisticated command equipment; therefore, Star Fleet has long begun to mass produce these sub-fleet flagship.
However, for the ‘Shykau’ to rely on the only on the equipment of the sub-fleet flagship prevents it from maintaining normal operations. But even so, the fleet flagship hasn’t really reached a number that they need to be mass-produced. In this case, Star Fleet would just take a sub-fleet flagship and extensively modify it to be the fleet flagship.
This includes allowing up to six communications ships to be able to dock simultaneously on the exterior. In the interior includes a conference room, various department offices, and provide living quarters for the necessary headquarters personnel and the area that once contained 12 enormous mine must be sacrificed for this. However, even that is not enough. Therefore, the inside of the ‘Shykau’ is a display of how Star Force has been able to creatively utilize every space available in order to squeeze everything in.
Duhir is now walking along one of these creatively utilized passageways. The use a mobile platform was way beyond luxury for a Line Wing Officer.
Because fleet headquarters usually get a lot of visiting guests from outside, there are signs and labels everywhere to make sure they cannot get lost.
There are guards posted nearly everywhere as well. Although realistically, it’s hard for Duhir to think of any way the enemies of the Empire can successful board this ship. Although these guards are said to be doing their jobs, but most likely it is just command telling them to stand there and kill time. In addition, in case of emergencies on the fleet flagship, sending out a large amount of guards is still necessary.
Duhir finally arrived at the entrance of the bridge.
The guards here are honor guards; they are usually selected from the best of the guards or paratroopers and can be said to be security experts.
From their posture, Duhir can feel their nervousness. They seem to be expecting his arrival, and they certainly know his status and who he is.
"Line Wing Officer, I hope I will not offend you in anyway but it is my duty to closely inspect you." said one of the honor guards.
"I respect your duty." replied Duhir as he cooperates with their inspection.
The physical examination was over.
"I must beg your pardon, please allow me to lead the way." After saying that, he turned his back to Duhir.
The door opens before him.
The honor guards guided Duhir with their peculiar unique walking methods. After a few more steps, the honor guard loudly reported. "Line Wing Officer Abriel has arrived."
Every high ranking officer from the 13th fleet has been gathered here on the bridge. Almost every one of them here has started their military careers since before Duhir was born.
Duhir saluted them.
"It must have been a long trip, Line Wing Officer Abriel" came from a woman with blood color lips. Her seat is more elevated than all the other officers on the bridge: she is none other than the commander of the 13th fleet, Admiral Kotoponi.
"Greetings, Commander” Duhir once again salutes.
"Guide the Line Wing Officer Abriel to my office" ordered Kotoponi to the honor guards.
Although felt the current situation is unexpected, but he once again saluted and left the command bridge.
As they exited the bridge, two security guards were already there waiting, looks like they will take over the responsibility of brining him over to the commander’s office.
The Commander in Chief’s office is a room mainly used for meetings, and it’s large enough to fit all of the senior officers from its fleet. The floor is also covered in a long and plush carpet, and above it, a conference desk made of ebony wood that seemingly allows for a lively family discussion.
Duhir is led to the last seat. The guards who accompanied him stood firmly at attention by the door without movement. They, of course, won’t say a thing either and just stood there silently.
Duhir put both hands on his knees and sat there in silence. From a very early age, he has learned how to sit still before a crowd. His father used to say, that the most important quality for a person born into the Imperial family is to have strength in patience. But according to him, Abriels are not born with such ability.
Luckily for him, there is not many here to watch him, therefore, He was confident that he can maintain his posture for a while.
Unless the Commander intentionally wanted to torture the Royalty for some reason, he will not be left unattended for long.
On the other side of a large desk was the chair of the Commander in Chief. Behind the chair hung ‘the three headed dragon’ which is the symbol of her rank as admiral. Besides that was the imperial flag with the ‘eight headed dragon’. Two crossing-over thorns with the number ‘13’ represented the fleet banner. And lastly, the Kotoponi family crests which is black with a silver cross.
The Kotoponi family crest is known to be the most monotonous among the 29 founding Abh families. Legend has it that the ancestor of Kotoponi family spent only three seconds to finish it; conveniently drew two lines as their family crest, and the only thing on his mind was to have the lines intersect at a right angle. And because of this, Kotoponi gained a reputation for not to waste time for making decisions. However, the ratio of the length of the drawn lines has been passed on to the present time.
It was a crest Duhir was used to seeing but every time he sees it, it always made him uneasy and just could not calm down.
Duhir though that couldn’t the vertical axis be extended a little? If it's not possible, then couldn’t they at least lower the point of intersection a bit?
Even if they are born an Abriel, it is considered rude to criticize someone else’s family crest. The only person qualified to criticize Kotoponi’s family crest are members of her family. So far, no one has said anything regarding this silvery cross, but if a brave individual or someone born to the Kotoponi family with great artistic insights were to break this taboo, then Duhir believes that everyone would feel as he does.
"Her Highness the Commander in Chief!" the guard shouted.
Duhir promptly stood up and saluted toward the chair.
The commander entered alone. After she returned his salute, she took her seat.
Although Duhir is still saluting, he prepares to be seated. However, at this very moment, Kotoponi ordered in a low but clear voice "You are relieved."
For a moment, Duhir thought the order was meant for him, which added to his sense of uncertainty.
"Yes ma’am!" he heard an answer immediately from behind him.
"Nobody is to enter!" Kotoponi added an order.
After everyone left, Duhir and Kotoponi were the only two left. If this was the Imperial palace, Kotoponi must be respectful. Although her title of Duchess is respectable within the Imperal Palace, but Duhir is never-the-less a prince and the Empress’s grandson. But this is the battlefields, and the words “to turn the tables” cannot even describe their situation. After all, a mere Line Wing Officer would never get the chance to sit face-to-face with a Star Force Admiral.
"An Imperial Decree was send out", the Commander in Chief got to her point without any introduction. "Do you know the procedures for an Imperial Decree?"
The Imperial Decree means its contents are top secret and are encoded directly within the clyuno of the Emperor, and except for special cases, are never sent via an electromagnetic wave. It is directly recorded on a memory card and it is kept in a box and is sealed by the Empress herself.
Only a limited number of clyunos can remove the encryption on the Imperial Decree; they number less than a hundred within the Milky Way. Furthermore, when decrypting the Imperial Decree itself, the recipient must insert the memory card into their own clyuno, after reading its contents; they are to destroy it on the spot. In short, the process of receiving an Imperial Decree is very strict.
Kotoponi passes the memory card along the table to Duhir.
"It is in there, you should be able to decrypt it."
"Yes." As a flight officer from the Imperial family, he does indeed have the ability to decrypt the encoding used by Empress. As soon as the memory card is inserted into the clyuno, the message will be played to only within that person and no others. Of course, Duhir’s clyuno is designed to do this as well.
"What’s wrong? Are you afraid that I will ask you what the decree says?" Kotoponi asked.
"No. That is not so." – Duhir
"Then hurry up, I am a busy person." – Kotoponi
For a person with the family name Kotoponi, the most unbearable thing is a person who wastes time completing their task. And even if that person were to become the Emperor in the future, then it would make them more uneasy.
However, Duhir could not help but ask. "Why would share the Imperial Decree to me at all?"
"This is because of your position within the Imperial Palace, namely your inheritance to the throne." explained Kotoponi without hesitation. "Therefore, even your superior officers are not entitled to know this. I think my explanation is clear enough, why don’t you just go ahead and read it."
Duhir felt the commander is not answering his question. Indeed as Kotoponi has said, he does have the qualification to read the Imperial Decree, but he does not know of any reason that it must be him that views it. However, he is wondering if he should continue his pursue for an answer. Fortunately, the Commander seemed to know what he is thinking.
"I am to pass on the Imperial Decree to you personally is what I am saying." – Kotoponi
"I understand." – Duhir
That reason alone was enough. Since command has already summoned him here means the contents are for Duhir to hear as well. Although he did not understand yet the reason why she had to inform him about the order, he had to refrain from asking more questions.
"I still have more to say." Kotoponi's dark blue eyebrows showed a glimpse of unpleasantness.
"Excuse me, Ma’am" – Duhir
"According to the Imperial Decree contents, it is possible that my fleet will be given a most important task." – Kotoponi
"Yes," a more important task than present combat operations? — Duhir could not imagine what.
"To carry out this order, my fleet may have to leave Empire space and become isolated." – Kotoponi
This wasn't particularly worrisome, much less if the fleet were to be only temporarily isolated. In the history of the Empire, there are many cases where ships or fleets become isolated, and sometimes they are unable to establish communications for a long time.
But, he did not really know how this kind of situation is related to him.
"At that time, you are to be the Empress’s representative and we are to follow your command." – Kotoponi
"What?" He is extremely surprised at what she just said. "I will take command of the entire fleet?"
Although Duhir long knew that this day would come, but he knows he is not ready in every aspect. At least from the fact that he has yet to command his own vessel will surely bring about a sense of confusion from soldiers within the fleet.
"Hypothetically, if the situation were to occur, you will. However, when the time comes, most likely you will just be bestowed with a symbolic position. In other words, I will still make the final decision. Until that time, I will observe your performance, which may impact whether we implement this proposal.”
"I still have another question," Duhir can’t help but ask. "May I permission to ask?"
He knows that his and Kotoponi's position on the battlefield cannot be reversed, even if Duhir someday become an admiral himself, by that time, she would have long retired or have perished in battle.
But he can’t help to feel day of reversed roles is rapidly approaching and all he can feel is panic. He must get to the bottom of why she would make such a decision.
"Permission granted. Ask your question." Kotoponi nodded.
"My understanding is that should a military unit however big become stranded, then the supreme commander will become a representative of her Imperial Majesty.” – Duhir
"Your understanding is completely correct." – Kotoponi
"Supposedly, an unfortunate situation like this happens, wouldn’t the Commander in Chief yourself should act as representative of Her Majesty in this case?" – Duhir
"There is no problem if one representative decides to rely on another representative of Her Imperial Majesty would there?" – Kotoponi
"Although this conforms to military regulations, but why would you make such a decision?" – Duhir
“Because under the circumstances, I must raise my vigilance about the prospect of long-term isolation.” – Kotoponi
"I do not understand," Duhir was confused again. "I thought that under such a circumstance, the duration and dangers faced are unrelated."
"Perhaps 'long-term' in your mind has a different quality from the 'long-term' I said a moment ago." – Kotoponi
"Then what do you mean by your ‘long-term’?" – Duhir
"You will understand when you finished reading the order. If you don't by then, I have nothing more to say." – Kotoponi
So that's how it is. By that time I will be revealed to be a fool — Duhir thought to himself.
"However, not every fleet has a Royalty serving in it. What if that was the case, what would you do?"
"But, are you not here now?" – Kotoponi
"Am I not allowed to raise hypothetical questions?" – Duhir
"Of course not," Kotoponi shook her head, "If there were no royalty around, I will just assume the position. But since there is obviously a better option, to not utilize it would be foolish."
"Making me the Empress’s representative is a better option?" – Duhir
"That depends on your qualifications. Actually, I don’t know you that well other than the fact that you are the Empress’s grandson and a Line Wing Flyer and I have no idea how qualified you are as a commander. If I have decided that you are not fit for that position, then I would have no hesitation in dragging you off of it.” – Kotoponi
"I'm relieved to have heard what you’ve said." – Duhir
"For an Abrial you sure are modest." Kotoponi glared slightly at him.
"Is my answer inappropriate?" – Duhir
"No. It is too early for a conclusion." – Kotoponi
This was the biggest surprise for Duhir, since he can’t imagine Kotoponi not able to make up her mind.
"Do you have any more questions?" – Kotoponi
"Yes, can I ask one more?" – Duhir
"Never mind one more, you can ask until all your doubts and uncertainties have disappeared, that is the only reason I am willing to allow you to take up more of my time." – Kotoponi
Indeed, a Commander in Chief’s time is as precious as a drop of water on barren planet.
"Why would you reveal the contents of the operation to me beforehand?" – Duhir
"I did that because I don’t want you to be confused when the time comes," Kotoponi paused a moment and added, "Even if you are not, the rest of the fleet probably will be. I only wanted to get this out of the way first so I don’t have to deal with it later. In addition, I must consider the possibility that communications between you and fleet HQ may be cut off."
"In that case, who will judge my qualifications?" – Duhir
"No one will. Before you return to your ship, I intend to draft you orders personally. Its content will state that in case of an emergency you will head towards fleet headquarters immediately and must not hesitate to make any sacrifices. At that time, you are to submit those orders to the highest ranking officer you are in contact with. If fleet headquarters has been destroyed then he can make his own judgment." – Kotoponi
"What do you mean by ‘not hesitate to make any sacrifices’?" Duhir looked at Kotoponi steadily.
"Indeed, I must emphasize this point. Even if the fleet is on the verge of being destroyed, getting you to fleet HQ is the top priority." – Kotoponi
"If that is so," Duhir can’t help but stood up, bewildered. "Then wouldn’t this mean that the entire fleet would be used solely for my protection!"
"I am very aware of that fact." – Kotoponi
"I cannot accept that!" Duhir said enraged.
Abrials are soldiers. They feel that to perish on the battlefield is the best way to end one's life.
Even once they have become the Emperor, their feelings will be unchanged. Of course, there are always many personal guards following the Emperor and when the Emperor’s Flagship moves out, a number of warships are always there to guard it. Although they prefer to be shot down by enemy fire, they would not mind being killed by an assassin or a madman.
However, as soon as they are within a fleet, the Emperor is not only the Commander, but must lead the entire fleet to combat, not the other way around where the fleet is to protect the Emperor.
And much less Duhir is a merely Royalty, not even an Emperor. He is just like every other Abh who joins the military and fulfills their duty, so there is absolutely no reason he should be protected. Facing this fact, Duhir can only feel a sense of humiliation. Even though the person sitting across from him is an admiral of the Star Force, even she does not have the right to force this humiliation upon him.
"You are dissatisfied?" asked Kotoponi.
"Yes." Duhir replied calmly.
"Sit down, Line Wing Officer.” – Kotoponi
"But, Commander!" – Duhir
"Enough, Fledgling, you are still a Line Wing Officer and this here is my flagship. You only need to follow my orders." – Kotoponi
"Yes, ma’am." Because what the Commander has said is after all true, Duhir once again took his seat. But he still cannot accept the order for the entire fleet to protect him. He waits for the opportunity to latch out his raging blue-flame like anger in his chest.
"The pride of the Abriels is of no concern to me. You have your orders, you will accept it whether you like it or not. Or could it be that although the words coming out of your mouth imply dissatisfaction, do you actually just want me to guard your personal dignity?"
"No……" Duhir could not object.
“Do whatever adjustments you need in your mind, but if you can’t even accomplish this, then your value will be even less than that of a fledgling and your presence on the battlefield is a mistake. The Star Force hasn't fallen so far as to require looking after eggs. I will permit you to return to the capital along with the injured, at least there you can find someone to provide you comfort before you hatch.”
Indeed, to even think about needing someone to protect his pride, he’s already strayed from his path.
"My apologies, Commander, I will follow your orders." – Duhir
"As long as you understand" Kotoponi relaxes her tense shoulders, "I didn't expect you to have such a weakness. But you are indeed an Abriel, the expression you’ve showed me just now gave me chills."
Duhir did notice anything change in Kotoponi’s expression that would indicate as such. Although he is not happy to be labeled as ‘weak’, he still thought that it is best to be silent for now.
Still, did he really look that scary just now?
"Does your Excellency think that our chances of being isolated high?" Duhir questioned in a sharp tone.
"I don't know" Kotoponi replied. "There are too many uncertain elements for me to make a decision. Even if I do know, it may cause you unnecessary confusion to discuss it now."
"I understand." – Duhir
"You should be out of questions right?" – Kotoponi
"Frankly, I still cannot accept Your Excellency’s decision. However, perhaps hearing the Imperial Decree will clear my doubts, therefore, I'm going to hold my questions back for now." – Duhir
"Very well. Then start the decryption process." – Kotoponi
Duhir began to decrypt and read the Imperial Order; the process only took a moment.
"This is……" – Duhir
"Your impressions?" Kotoponi smiled poisonously with her red lips.
"However, this is……" Duhir was still unable to express well in words, "This cannot be the final decision can it?"
"Perhaps my orders are for naught." – Kotoponi
‘The fleet is to enter the Hania Federation and prepare to research the feasibility of relieving their military.’ That was the contents of the Imperial Decree, although the research part is finalized, it did not say anything about what happens afterwards.
"Her Majesty really likes to joke around. How do we have the capabilities to undertake this research, does she intend muddle her way through by adding ‘prepare’?" – Kotoponi
Duhir was relieved to know that even Kotoponi complained about it.
"The Chief of Staff should already know this." – Duhir
"Yes, at least this will help me greatly." Kotoponi smiled, "Her main task is to pass on the muddling down each department."
"Could it be that you are telling me all this right now is because…Commander, could it be that these orders are not likely to go away?" – Duhir
"Even I do not know. I'm just a front line commander. These orders are beyond my jurisdiction. Within my jurisdiction, being a front line commander means abilities to influence matters are limited, however, even if I am of little influence, I will still take care of anything I can within my power. And the only thing that came to mind was this.” – Kotoponi
"Then in the mean time my duty is to keep this Imperial Decree in my mind." Duhir verified.
"Yes. You only need to keep it deep in your mind." – Kotoponi
"Understood." Of course he had no intention to tell anyone about this.
"Return the memory card with the decrypted message erased now." – Kotoponi
Duhir did as told.
"Well then, its farewell Line Wing Officer," Kotoponi said. "Return to your ship."
Duhir saluted and was about to leave. However, he suddenly thought of something and cannot help but to turn around again. Kotoponi look at him with astonishment.
"Commander, can it be that you......" Duhir was unable to continue.
"Can I be what?" – Kotoponi
"No, nothing. Excuse me I’m being rude." Duhir saluted again, and was really going to leave this time.
"Line Wing Officer!" Kotoponi called out to him. “The only thing in the Milky Way that I willingly kneel before is the Jade Imperial Throne. I do not wish my flagship to have a temporary Imperial Throne. Even if you assume absolute military authority afterward, I do not wish to meet you again before the end of the operation."
"Same with me" Duhir’s intention was actually just agreeing with the commander, however, he became suddenly aware that it may have come out the wrong way and is now scrambling to correct himself. "I hope that you will see me in another light as well, and that when we meet again in the future, it would not be when I became an ornament to the temporary Imperial Throne."
"As you say." Kotoponi also corrected her language. "Once the fledgling has sprout wings, it would be my pleasure if we meet again."
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