Seikai no Senki:Volume4 Prologue(jp)
From birth to death, we all take the same path.
—Imagine a fortunate life. It is usually assumed, living through a life on a planet is essential for a good person.
On the day of your parent’s funeral, the head of personnel will come.
—Imagine misfortune: when it rains it pours. Being the head of personnel, to visit someone where they live, usually notifying that person has been chosen to relocate.
The blue haired ones.
—A degrading term of sorts referring to people who prefer living on spaceships. Most people when expressing dislike toward agents of the empire that live in space use this term. Also, it can be used to describe the condition of a mind gradually going insane; because the hair of the space race The Humankind Empire of Abh is blue.
How many funerals have I attended so far? How many more funerals must I attend in the future? The 27th Empress of the Bar Frybarec, Ablïarsec Néïc Dubleuscr Lamï, Ramaj, thought. She was aboard the Star Force’s interstellar flagship, the Gaftnosh, which served as the Empress’ imperial vessel, as it slowly made its way towards Lakfakalle’s funeral hall.
Perhaps the nations of ancient times had their own ways of doing things. However, for The Humankind Empire of Abh, the imperial vessel was always designed so that the Empress could command a battle from the frontlines. Because of this, the Empress’ imperial vessel was always a state-of-the-art patrol ship. The ship Ramaj was aboard was no exception — a Kau class patrol ship, modified to meet the design specifications of a flagship. It had one further distinction as well. Of all the ships in the universe, only the Gaftnosh housed a commander's chair made of emerald jade.
Other fleets notwithstanding, within the Star Force, most frontline soldiers wished their quarters were as spacious and luxurious as the commander's. Although the Empress' quarters were not elaborate, they were still decorated exquisitely. Despite this, for one who has to shoulder the burden of an empire with more than a trillion citizens, such living quarters must seem simple and unadorned.
However, to Ramaj, this room was like paradise. After all, the title of Empress entails a great deal of work and responsibility, especially during times of war. Therefore, any place that allows one to enjoy some peace and quiet was precious. It would be even better if this precious time were not disturbed by urgent reports — but that would be too much of a luxury to hope for.
At that moment, the floors shook, signaling that the ship had docked.
Ramaj set down the jade-colored wine glass and got up from her seat. When the doors opened, she was greeted by the sight of her attendants, standing on mobile platforms, where they had apparently been waiting for some time.
“Your Majesty,” the attendants respectfully lowered their heads to the Empress.
Ramaj nodded in acknowledgment as she stepped onto a mobile platform. Thus, the Empress left her paradise.
The mobile platform moved smoothly alongside a painting of a grassy field. Some 10 meters before her, soldiers raised their weapons, saluting the Empress. Even as she floated past them, Ramaj couldn't stop from wondering, perhaps somewhere in Plane Space another funeral was taking place, a funeral that could not be held in a funeral hall.
No matter how many people say that it is an old-fashioned way of thinking, to a soldier in the Star Force, the best choice for a coffin is their ship. Perhaps some feel that it is not dignified to have so many people in one coffin, but their numbers were few at best. The majority of the people in the Star Force believe that the chance to die together with family should be cause for celebration.
“Everyone on the ship is family,” she said, knowing no one would object. No ceremonies were held for a crew to become sworn brothers and sisters. However, when in the situation that everyone lives or everyone dies, the crew naturally bonds as a family. Especially during times of war, like the current so-called "Era of Warfare".
Currently in Plane Space, both sides had amassed countless ships for a head on assault: either kill or be killed. Innumerable funerals on a grand scale. Endless. Without rest.
But let us return from talk of funerals in Plane Space to the place here and now, "The Capital of the Kin of the Stars”. Lakfakalle’s funeral hall was but one of countless funeral halls in the Empire. It was, however, the largest. The only people allowed to be buried here are the Royal Family and those granted special permission by the Empress.
Although the Abh are not religious, they do occasionally display religious-like rituals, funeral rites among them. Even the funerals of the most devout landers would seem simple and cheap compared to those of the Abh.
Then again, more accurately speaking an Abh funeral doesn't have any religious significance. After all, when the Abh pay their respects to the dead, beings such as gods played no role; these funerals are merely a ceremony for the friends of the deceased to gather and say their goodbyes.
The mobile platform finally cleared Gaftnosh’s air lock and entered the funeral hall.
Paintings of stars lined either side of the main hallway. The Abh normally prefer to have artwork depicting terrestrial scenes, but where the deceased are concerned, they consider stars more fitting.
The open door revealed people on either side. When they realized Ramaj had entered, they extend their greatest salute to the Empress.
An officer with light brown hair stepped out from the crowd. Ramaj recognized him from his military Insignia. His name was Shidoryua Boruju Sid Seeru and he was here to mourn the loss of a family member.
“It must have been bothersome for Your Majesty to come personally; we are all honored by your presence here, Your Majesty,” Shidoryua greeted Ramaj.
“I feel that this has been a great loss,” Ramaj said with sorrow. “This is the funeral of my chief advisor; there is nothing that could keep me from coming."
“If my late father were to hear Your Majesty’s words, he would be elated.”
“Perhaps,” Ramaj said with a smile as she stepped off the mobile platform.
Shidoryua’s father was Shidoryua Boruju Cid Seez, who had been Prime Minister of the Empire. Up to this day at least.
Before his death, he had not taken the concept of "rest" very seriously. Furthermore, his nature did not allow him to spend any time with others on trivial matters; even if that other person was the Empress.
If he found out that the cold and cruel Empress of the Abh Empire was present looking back on the deceased, he would no doubt call it a stupid waste of time. Ramaj was sure of this.
The Empress knew very well that Shidoryua sometimes found it difficult to resist the temptation from the flowerbed.
The funeral hall was of a circular design with the coffin of the former Prime Minister in the center.
Ramaj’s feet lightly tapped the floor; this place did not have artificial gravity. With the unique grace of the Abh, she pressed one foot against the floor, then the other, until she reached the coffin of the Prime Minister.
Ramaj silently bid her farewell to Shidoryua and allowed the next person to see the coffin. On an occasion like this, not even the Empress received special treatment. After all, at a funeral the center of attention should be the deceased.
Ramaj returned to her seat and lightly placed her fingertips on a handrail on the wall to keep herself from floating away.
At that moment, a lander riding a flying machine rudely made straight for Ramaj.
There were actually many landers in attendance. The late Prime Minister was a lander by birth, and many of his colleagues and subordinates were not genetically engineered. But this particular discourteous lander was not even an Imperial subject. He was Ambassador Tin Kuihan from the Hania Federation.
“Your Majesty,” he said with the formality of a lander. His movements are well executed. He seemed to merely want to get close to Ramaj.
However, the Empress' bodyguards swiftly came to her side, preventing him from getting any closer. Their hands were on their guns, ready to draw at a moments notice.
“Mr. Ambassador, to have you personally attend the funeral of my Prime Minister, I am very grateful,” Ramaj said with insincere politeness.
“You flatter me. His Excellency Shidoryua was a good friend of mine,” the Ambassador replied with a tone of great sorrow. If he was acting, then he must have been a very good actor. “To come and pay my condolences should not be a painstaking thing that requires the gratitude of others.”
“Really? Then I won't say I am 'grateful' for your presence; rather, I am 'regretful' for it.”
“I am indeed very sorry.” Tin Kuihan bowed deeply towards the empress, so much so that he almost lost balance. “If I may be so bold, could Your Majesty spare some time after this event so that we may talk?”
It looks like this is the ambassador’s real motive for attending. If he just wanted to share stories about his deceased friend, then there were plenty of people besides the Empress that he could talk to.
“Do you have any idea what sort of occasion this is?” Ramaj said icily. “If what you said was just to be courteous, then that is still within the bounds of my tolerance.”
“Your Majesty must forgive me. I know this request is unreasonable. I only make it in the interest of peace.” Having been given an inch, Tin Kuihan made his play to take a mile.
“If that is the case, you can discuss this with the new Prime Minister.” Even though the late Prime Minister’s death was sudden, Ramaj had already appointed a replacement without hesitation. She had promoted Burashu, previously a director and ambassador of the foreign office, to the post.
Compared to the previous Prime Minister, he wasn't very experienced. However, the Empress had faith that Burashu had the ability to shoulder this great responsibility. Besides, the Foreign Office handled all diplomatic matters. The only country that still had open diplomatic relations with the Abh was the “Federation of Hania”. A high ranking foreign official should know such information.
“It is unfortunate, but his Excellency the Prime Minister seems unwilling to listen to what I have to say.”
“Really? The Prime Minister mentioned during his inauguration that he spent quite some time with you.”
“Mere time does not equate to any results. Thus...”
“Even for the Empress,” Ramaj’s tone had already become scolding, “It is a very serious taboo to take matters into one's own hands and infringe on the responsibilities of a subordinate. I will be very pleased if you can understand this concept, Ambassador.”
“It is because I understand this that I come to you today with what I have to say.”
Should we just kick him out of here? The imperial bodyguards looked toward the Empress for instructions.
That is not yet necessary — Ramaj waved her fingertips in response. The movement was very subtle, so much so that Tin Kuihan should not have even noticed.
“If you just want to talk, then I’ll make an exception.”
“I am honored to be given this opportunity.”
“However, you should not mistake this opportunity for a newly acquired privilege.”
“I understand.” Tin Kuihan glanced at the Imperial bodyguards, “Since that is settled, I’ll leave this place and give room to those who better suit this occasion.”
Ramaj used all her effort to restrain herself from impulsively saying, “Then do so,” and instead curtly said, “Then we’ll meet later, after the funeral is over. We can talk while riding on my mobile platform as it takes us to your ship.”
There was a short period of silence between the two. It appeared that the Ambassador was not satisfied with the short amount of time that he was given.
Actually, the embassy was within the Imperial Palace. Ramaj could have simply invited the Ambassador to board the Gaftnosh with her. This way he could definitely schedule enough time to talk to his heart’s content.
Nevertheless, the Empress certainly wouldn’t offer this courteous exception to the ambassador easily. It is as Ramaj had suspected, Tin Kuihan truly was not satisfied with this. However, the Ambassador could not allow the Empress to see this dissatisfaction. Instead, he bowed deeply and said, “I am honored and grateful to have this opportunity, Your Majesty.”
While the two were talking, everyone who attended the funeral continued to bid their farewells to the deceased. When there was a lull in the number of people going up to see the coffin, the funeral hall filled with a rumbling sound. It was a sound that carried no meaning. When it began, it was only a low moan; Ramaj added her voice of parting regret to the sea of voices.
Those who had seen the body did not appear again. The moan grew louder, filling the entire hall. At the beginning the chord was a uneven, but now everyone’s singing voice came together to form a beautiful chord. They were singing the dirge of the Abh, a moving song that represents the end of an Abh’s journey through life.
When their time is up, those that were born on a planet often wish to be buried on their home planet. However, Shidoryua Boruju Cid Seez chose to have an Abh funeral as the star of his last ceremony. The Empire honored his choice with the utmost respect. Simply using this funeral hall for the ceremony made it a state funeral with the highest honors. Even within the Royal Family, only a few members ever receive such intimate treatment.
As the dirge of the Abh filled the entire hall, a black shining cylinder lowered itself from the sky. Slowly, it covered the transparent coffin. It was a shell that would protect the corpse for a hundred million years.
When the coffin had completely disappeared within the cylinder, it began to lift from the floor, the volume of the dirge rising with the coffin. It was preparing to be loaded into the electromagnetic cannon.
The coffin was loaded and the breech closed. In the blink of an eye, the cannon fired the coffin towards the center of the galaxy.
The acceleration of the cannon was countered by the large mass of the funeral hall, producing a temporary gentle gravity.
Under the weight of the gravity, the sound of everyone's heels touching the floor simultaneously filled the funeral hall. With that, the funeral came to an end. Ramaj looked again at the closed breech of the electromagnetic canon.
How many more times will I have to view this scene in the future?
She lightly kicked off from the floor and sailed towards the Hania Federation ambassador waiting at the exit.
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