Seikai no Senki:Volume4 Chapter1
 Chapter 1: The Battle of Kemal Sord
"ETA to space-time fusion: 5 minutes."
The second captain of the assault frigate "Flicaubh", Deputy Hecto-commander Ablïarsec Néïc Dubleuscr Bœrh Parhynr Lamhirh nodded to the report from her subordinate.
Considering that the coming 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 clyuno on her hand.
"1-1-0-7" actually means 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 ambush.
"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.
Although it increased the mobility of each individual ship, once separated into their own space-time bubbles, the assault ships were sacrificing their overall defensive strength. 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 would not be so lucky."
The Scourge Squadron was currently the vanguard of four divisions which made up the main force of the advancing Assault Squadron "Bosuru", each squadron following the one ahead of it.
In spite of this, assault ships were particularly weak when defending against mines.
In the past, guard 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 to these squadrons and Headquarters changed policies in an attempt to be more conservative in their usage.
However, 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.
"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 direct the battle.
The assault frigate was not designed with the control interface that allows the captain to feel what the ship feels. Because of this, Lafiel feels that her inability to control the ship leaves her with a semblance of imbalance.
However, she had better get used to this sensation, because from this day forward, unless she is demoted, 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," reported Ekuryua until the next phase of the operation.
"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 ion cannons to auto targeting and set distance to one-hundred," Lafiel gave out the next set of orders.
There are countless ion cannons built on the side of the assault frigate. Although older model cruisers came equipped with the anti-proton cannons, they only get about half the power. Thus, Star Force designed the assault frigate with ion cannons instead of mobile laser cannons.
"Ion cannon banks set to auto targeting, distance to fire: one-hundred." The chief engineer is actually responsible for the ion cannons, because the assault frigate employs an automatic firing system. This system limits the amount of human interaction, but the functionality of this system is of utmost importance to the assault frigate. Shouldering such a heavy responsibility, Gurinshia waited a bit before reporting, "Setting complete, the safety on the cannon has been released, banks one through eight show no abnormalities."
"Thirty seconds until space-time fusion."
Ekuryua's voice might have expressed a sliver of nervousness, but maybe I am just being oversensitive.
Lafiel suddenly felt an intense gaze on her. This time it wasn't her being oversensitive, because the gaze came from the blue haired Junior Officer Line Wing Flyer Gunomuboshu.
Lafiel knows what is on his mind, since she was once a Line Wing Flyer, too.
Gunomuboshu looks like he is very hopeful to be assigned any task at all. His job on this ship is to transmit orders, but on an assault frigate, the 'order transmitter' is also the assistant gunner, the assistant communications officer and the assistant navigations officer. In other words, the 'order transmitter' basically does nothing but miscellaneous chores.
Usually 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 somewhere far away 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.
Lafiel thought about her little brother, who was now probably fighting somewhere in planar space, too.
"Gunomuboshu," Lafiel has decided his task for this upcoming battle. "I will allow you the controls to the ion cannon banks on your console. Before the end of combat, your job will be to get really comfortable with those mobile cannons."
Although the task of controlling the mobile cannon banks can be accomplished even by a half-hearted child, to him, this should be a very good experience. A soldier with nothing to do during combat would certainly feel very uneasy, and that fear would make him needlessly panic.
"Thank you very..." Gunomuboshu was just about to say, but he quickly felt to express gratitude in this situation would go against common sense. 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. After she finished this easy task, she then 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 is about to occur.
She glanced at the bubbles on the planar space map. The enemy mines constrain the assault frigates squadron from advancing.
"This is good...no need to painstakingly go after the mines, since the enemy just throws them at us," thought Lafiel.
"Three enemy mines in space-time fusion," Ekuryua reported, "...fusion complete."
Three enemy mines came at the Flicaubh simultaneously. However, Lafiel did not respond to them, as it was unnecessary.
"Cannon banks two and three have begun to fire, everything functioning normally." Gunomuboshu reported in an excited voice.
"You sure said that pretty smoothly." His immediate superior Gunnery Officer Vanguard Flyer Arubofu said in a teasing voice, "Marvelous, simply amazing."
Looks like Gunomuboshu already didn't have time to reply, since he was still tightly affixed to his console.
So far, the mobile cannons on the ship had taken care of the mines. They lock on to individual mines and constantly sweep the surrounding space with weapons fire.
Lafiel didn't really believe that the weak firepower of the ion 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 by much. Therefore, it was best for her to endure this outlook.
These three mines consistently changed their movement and trajectory. Although the mines are unmanned weapons, they are still a fully equipped ship that can travel through planar space. One mine boldly charged towards the Assault Frigate, and an ion cannon beam was able to reach the mine, but one beam is hardly enough to destroy it.
The mine was damaged and lost its engine power, so it started to dive straight into the ship, where it was met by ten beams all focused on it.
The mine broke into pieces while spewing out antimatter fuel. When antimatter meets space, it starts to react. Following the trajectory of the mine, antimatter fuel struck the Flicaubh.
However, this small quantity of antimatter hardly poses any danger to an assault frigate, because most of the antimatter will be converted to energy before it ever hits the ship. The antimatter that is left would be deflected by the Magnetic Defense Shields.
Another mine was destroyed by the cannons; its antimatter explodes harmlessly moments later. However, the last mine is proving to be difficult to deal with.
"Adjust course!" Lafiel orders. "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, the speed of the mine is much faster than the assault frigate's, so the only reason for doing this is to give more time for the cannons to hit their target. Of course to Lafiel, the time that she just gained is ever so precious.
The cannons on the left side of the ship immediately adjust themselves for the best firing angle, concentrating all beams on the mine.
And their target finally exploded into pieces.
"Four more mines, incoming," Ekuryua said.
Lafiel didn't even have time to take a breath, but she still believed that she could manage it.
If the mine attacks are still at this low level, then there should be no reason to defend by fusing with other ships.
Although the mines repeatedly accelerate and decelerate, avoiding a lock-on from the assault frigate, the mobile cannon's ion beams still dealt fatal blows to the mines.
While occasionally giving out orders to adjust course, Lafiel also continued to keep a close eye on the planar space map.
Currently, there were ten enemy cruisers in a horizontal formation, each in their own space-time bubble; all waiting to welcome the 1st Scourge Squadron.
It is very likely that this ship will engage in one-on-one combat against those cruisers later.
However, the enemy forces are also currently under a fierce barrage of mines. Situated at the rear are battle ships who have no shortage of mines to send out. The mines pass by the 1st Scourge Squadron directly fusing with the enemy's space-time bubble.
Neither side used any mines for defensive purposes. Basically, the target of every mine that both sides send out is not other mines, no matter how much damage both sides will sustain by using this tactic.
Knowing this, Lafiel starts to frown, shifting her attention from the planar space map to the space outside of the ship.
The three mines are using complex trajectories to try to flank the left side of the ship. Relying only on the cannon banks on the left side of the ship may not be enough to deal with these mines.
Lafiel gives the order to change course in an attempt to once again gain more time. At the same time, she inputs the combat priority for each target, hoping to shoot them down one by one.
At the same time, one mine heads straight for the ship after getting close undetected. The ion cannons immediately adjust, focusing many beams and finally destroying the mine. The ship shook as the mine exploded close to the ship.
"Damage report?" Lafiel asked.
"Very light, as far as the interior of the ship is concerned," Vangard Flyer Linn Ssynec Rocr Ïarlucec Dreuc Haïder Ghintec (Jinto) reported.
"Ion 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 doesn't know why, but new soldiers are unusually fearful of her. What's worse is that she has already gotten used to this behavior.
"Is it repairable?" Lafiel asks Gunomuboshu.
"Yes, I’ll initiate repairs now." The junior officer says as he began to shut down the damaged ion cannon.
"Chief engineer, begin repair operations." Lafiel ordered.
"Understood." The chief engineer quickly relayed orders to the repair team on the right side of the ship. "Engineering team heading for the third ion cannon banks deck!"
"The other three mines, incoming." Ekuryua said, "... they're here."
Luckily, this wave of mines coming after the Flicaubh, fused in separate locations.
"Pankov's space-time bubble, destroyed!" Yateshu reports the loss of a friendly vessel.
Lafiel nodded her head lightly. Actually she did not even need the report, because 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. Although now she has mobile cannons as protections, however this fact alone cannot rid the roots of her nervousness. Maybe in the next second, both she and her subordinates will all forfeit their lives. To prevent this regretful thing from happening, you do everything to the best of your ability.
"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 on this?" Lafiel asks.
"I don't have any doubts about the estimate that my subordinates gave."
Lafiel also felt that same, at the least she trusts Gurinshia's very much.
"Then, order your subordinates to continue to stay on standby."
Her logic was that it is 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 will still have to carry out a lot of troublesome tasks later on.
A sound suddenly came from her clyuno rings. She checks it to see who wants to secretly communicate with her.
Of course this isn't an appropriate setting for a chat. Even if you are not familiar with Lafiel, with regards to how the Ablïarsec clan members all have a dark fearsome nature. Also those who are familiar with Lafiel, know better than to distract her during combat, even if it is Jinto.
"Captain," it turns out to be the chief engineer, "May I suggest something?"
"Make it short."
"I will; I think that we should let the engineers start on their repair work."
"Because this way it allows them to calm their minds."
"Really?" Lafiel nodded. Since the chief engineer said so, then it should not be incorrect. After all, the chief engineer is promoted from below, so of course he would understand their frame of mind. Even if everyone on a ship is fighting a battle, there is a big psychological difference between the officers and the crewmen.
At this time, the mines started to behave dangerously. Lafiel terminates the conversation on her clyuno rings, and gave out orders for the ship to change heading.
Then she gave the chief engineer an order, "Rescind my previous order, let the engineers start the repairs on the mobile cannon, with low priority."
"Yes, Ma'am!" Chief engineer Gurinshia said in a voice that reflected the thoughts in his heart.
The mines are finally destroyed, but the real danger has yet to start. The Flicaubh will 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 a signal of acknowledgement."
Looks like the commander chose the one-on-one duel tactic. The next step is to see if the enemy accepts the challenge.
The enemy took the bait.
The enemy space-time bubbles are not fusing with each other. As if each becoming an army of one heading for a confrontation against the assault frigates.
Lafiel looks over at her left hand, it would be so much better if this hand could be used in a control interface.
"Accelerate to combat speed!" Lafiel orders, "Prepare to fire the electromagnetic rail cannons."
"Accelerating to combat speed." Gurinshia responds to Lafiel's orders, and then continues to report in a depressed voice, "Main engine output maximum; no abnormalities."
"All electromagnetic rail cannons functioning normally." The Gunnery officer continues to report, "Safety device disabled, and nuclear fusion warheads have been loaded, ready to fire at any time."
"This is the captain," Lafiel starts to talk on the ship-wide intercom. "Starting now, this ship will go into ship-to-ship combat. During this time, the ship may accelerate far above protocol, surpassing the limit to which the artificial gravity device can compensate. Therefore, everyone be prepared to brace yourselves."
"Point the ship's bow at the point of fusion." Lafiel then orders Arubofu, "You may fire at will, and I'll leave the piloting in your hands."
According to her estimation, when going into one-on-one combat, it is best to completely leave the movements of a ship in the hands of the pilot; also she herself should not object or intervene.
"I've waited a long time for those words." Arubofu couldn't refrain his enthusiasm. But he quickly regained composure and corrected himself, saying, "No, I understand."
Lafiel slowly starts to have a feeling of envy.
Although the people on this bridge are few in numbers, they all share similar thoughts. They all want this whale of a ship to move as if it was their own naturally moving body. To the Abh people, this sensation is a perfectly natural thing to feel.
Lafiel turns her head towards the planar space map, the green dots represents our forces, and the red dots represents the enemy's; both closing on each other.
When the red dot and green dot finally meet, they become a purple dot. On a planar space map, a purple dot represents combat taking place in that bubble.
Then, more purple dots begin to appear. So now, it is the Flicaubh's turn to become a purple dot. The Flicaubh fused with enemy space-time bubble 1-0-2. A bit off in the future, this space-time bubble will be temporally referred as "space-time bubble battle 1-7."
"Firing!" Arubofu fires the electromagnetic rail cannons as they began to fuse with the enemy's space-time bubble. The body of the ship shook with a creaking sound.
"space-time fusion complete." Ekuryua murmured in a soft sleepy voice.
When both space-time bubbles officially became one, six guided nuclear warheads emerged going straight for the Flicaubh; every mobile cannon that can shoot forward lights up. Sensing this, the guided warheads accelerate to one percent of the speed of light, making them even more difficult of a target than the mines. Still, the mobile cannons were able to shoot one down, turning it into harmless debris.
Arubofu lets the ship glide horizontally in an attempt to avoid the remaining warheads. One of those warheads passed by the left side of the Flicaubh, and the cannon banks immediately started shooting at it.
The warheads that the Flicaubh shot earlier at the enemy ship were not able to hit their target, therefore a second round was loaded and ready to fire.
Quickly, the electromagnetic rail cannon vigorously fires its next shot, but this shot also came up empty. Lafiel starts to feel anxious, wishing that at this moment Arubofu would just somehow faint right in front of her.
Although during times of war, every ship feels like it doesn't have enough manpower; one can say that the crew of an assault frigate gets the least amount of personal time. Of course the bridge officers are of no exception. Let's take the gunnery officer for example, on the Flicaubh there is only Arubofu, if he were to become incapable to carry out his duties, the only person that could replace him would be the captain herself.
Of course, no captain would like to see their own subordinates getting hurt, even if they were joking. If the ship were to be damaged to a point where someone becomes critically injured, then the lives of the rest of the crew are also in grave danger.
Therefore, she only hopes that Arubofu collapses due to overwork. Even though she continues to burn with jealousy, being the captain still means that there is other work for the captain to do.
"Gunomuboshu," Lafiel orders, "Change mobile cannon range to infinite."
After exchanging fire, the Flicaubh and the enemy ship pass by each other.
Compared to the small and nimble mines, a cruiser is a much easier target to hit. Before, it was difficult to know what was the best distance to set for in order to hit the mines, but now the beams I fire will most likely hit the cruisers no matter the distance.
Both ships fire their mobile cannons at each-other, damaging both ships; of course these are just flesh wounds. Suppose these ion cannons were enough to sink a large ship, then there would not be a need to install things like the proton cannon or the electromagnetic rail cannons.
After the ships pass by each other, both simultaneously fire their electromagnetic rail cannons on the rear of the ships.
A missile from the enemy exploded near the Flicaubh. The shockwave and shrapnel from the missile hit the rear of the ship.
"Number two cargo hold sprung a leak," Jinto reports, "No casualties reported, no disturbance in ship pressure."
In seeking to deal a critical blow to each other, both ships joust for the best position.
Lafiel's directs her attention on the planar space map. It looks like one of the battles taking place in a space-time bubble has been decided. The only thing seen is that space-time bubble battle 2-1's color changed from purple to yellow: indicating unknown identity. Additionally, this space-time bubble is heading slowly towards here.
"We have yet to receive any identification signal." Yateshu reports, "looks like the Takukov has already been sunk."
The once former yellow space-time bubble was quickly dyed red, designated enemy space-time bubble 211, and continues to approach this location.
"Hurry up and finish this!" Lafiel said to Arubofu, "A new enemy will soon arrive. Unless you think that there is no accomplishment in just fighting one ship, then I can go with that too."
"Captain, you can stop teasing me," replied Arubofu, "This also pertains to my life as well!"
"Just thinking about my own insignificant life has already overwhelmed me!" Arubofu explains.
"Executive officer," Lafiel said, "move the space-time bubble heading towards 10 o'clock"
"Yes ma'am." Ekuryua starts on her space-time bubble task.
However currently, the space-time bubble that the Flicaubh resides is no longer its own; after all, the enemy ship is also equipped with a space-time generator.
To the Flicaubh they are a new enemy, to the enemy they are reinforcement. Therefore the enemies would certainly want to get near each other.
The two space-time generators in the bubbles start a tug-of-war.
When it comes to skill, Ekuryua seems to have the upper hand, although the orbit is not very centered, but the space-time bubble battle 1-7 already starts to move towards 10 o'clock.
However, the perusing enemy space-time bubble is still relatively fast.
Although the Flicaubh possesses the 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 are ion cannons, once in a while they can also deal this degree of damage.
"Is it repairable?" Lafiel asks Gurinshia.
"Negative." The chief engineer answered without hesitation.
"Forget it, there are always other ways." Arubofu took the initiative and shouldered the blame.
"I understand." Lafiel nodded.
The enemy's thrusters start to fire up; their bow prepares to turn towards the Flicaubh.
The Flicaubh's main engines are also brought to maximum, in an attempt to close the distance before the enemy finishes turning.
The speed I have set will indeed give us the edge; before the enemy can fully turn their bow, the Flicaubh should be able to come behind them.
"Aim the mobile cannon banks at the enemy's thrusters, can you do that?" Lafiel asks.
"Yes, I’ll do my best." Gunomuboshu responds.
Lafiel thought to herself, I'll give you this one opportunity, if you cannot do it, then I will control the mobile cannon banks myself.
No matter how you look at it, this is a battlefield; moreover, a battlefield in a very harsh environment. Although this is a most fitting place to train a junior officer, one cannot stake the lives of the rest of the crew just to train this one junior officer. Besides, even Lafiel believes that she herself has many things that she needs training on.
In an intense exchange of ion cannon fire, both ships grazed each other. Gunomuboshu adjusts the mobile cannon bank's scope of fire locking on to the enemy's thrusters.
Two thruster ports were spectacularly damaged, but from this angle it is hard to determine the extent of the damage.
Perhaps both thrusters were totally destroyed, but it is also possible that the enemy ship only suffered minor hull disfiguration.
"Good job!" Arubofu said with great praise, even if the latter were to be true.
When the Flicaubh opened some distances, it quickly fired the rear electromagnetic rail cannons, but it still misses.
"When will the enemy fuse with us?" Lafiel asks.
"The time now is 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 turns to ask the gunnery officer.
"Yes, I heard very clearly." Arubofu said, "I really hate these ears that pick up sounds."
Looks like the gunnery officer could still cope with this sort of situation.
"Then hurry up and finish this already."
Both ships now try to maneuver to get a good shot at each other's sides. However the enemy ship has noticeably slowed down. It looks like within this battle, the control of the mobile cannon banks can stay with Gunomuboshu.
At this time the Flicaubh’s engines roars up again, rapidly closing the gap again on the enemy vessel.
After another round of electromagnetic rail cannon has been fired, a sudden sound was heard by the captain. The owner of that sound is Arubofu who is urgently firing the thrusters on the left side of the ship.
A number of nuclear warheads flew by the Flicaubh's left side. It seems that these warheads were estimated, at this short distance the damage dealt should be pretty extensive, as they all simultaneously exploded; making the Flicaubh shake violently.
“Number 201, 202, 205 ...” Gunomuboshu starts to report one by one the numbers of the damaged ion cannons.
"You don't need to report about this." Lafiel stops him from continuing his report, "It's ok as long as you concentrate on the enemy's thrusters."
"I'm very sorry!"
Lafiel, without saying a word, coldly glanced at the temporary gunnery officer.
Gunomuboshu quickly drew in his neck, and corrected himself saying, "Yes ma'am."
"There are too many damaged areas; it will be too much burden for the engineering squad." Gurinshia said, "Please point out the section with the highest priority."
"The engines." Lafiel immediately responded. "I will not allow my ship to fly on a broken wing."
"Yes, ma'am." The chief immediately pounded away at the desk console continuously giving his subordinate detailed orders.
During times like these, if it were Samson sitting there, then he would probably say in a critical tone how Star Force regulation is against overworking the crew.
Just when the chief engineer is giving out orders, both vessels are once again closing on each other. It was already too late to change course again, therefore both ships once again grazed each other exchanging heavy rounds of beam fire.
As Lafiel listens to the damage report, she also looks at the planar space map; the enemy's space-time bubble 2-1-1 is already pretty close to where the space-time bubble battle 1-7 is at. If they were to maintain a one vs. one tactic then their next attack may be their last chance, but the Flicaubh still has hope.
"The Marusukov is approaching." Ekuryua said.
Looks like the Marusukov has just disposed of their enemy and has decided to come as backup; although disgraceful as this is, it cannot be helped.
"This ship will now head towards the Marusukov." Although Lafiel forces herself to give out these orders, but the enemy still has the upper hand when it comes to speed.
Even if Lafiel doesn't say anything, Arubofu understands the grave nature of the situation.
"Captain," Arubofu’s voice revealed his anxiousness, "The next shot will determine the victor."
"Alright, I'll 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 has noticeably weakened. The electromagnetic rail cannons on the bow of the Flicaubh all simultaneously fire.
Three nuclear fusion warheads hurl themselves straight at the enemy vessel. Although these warheads are equipped with their own engines, because their output strength is too weak even if they wanted to change course, it would only change by a little. However, that much is already enough.
As one of the warhead managed to change course during mid flight and slammed straight into the belly of the enemy ship, successfully penetrating the enemy's outer armor.
"GOT EM!" Arubofu shouted unable to contain himself.
At this moment, the enemy ship is covered in anti-matter fuel, and is completely converted into energy
"space-time separation, quickly." Lafiel ordered.
As the mass in a space-time bubble rises, its speed will proportionally go down. In order to maintain its swift movement, jettisoning excesses masses from within the bubble is a necessity.
The space-time bubble covering the Flicaubh starts to jettison what was just now the enemy ship, creating ripples upon ripples of space-time particles.
"Executive officer, proceed towards the Marusukov. Communications officer, send out a signal of identification. Chief engineer and supply officer, give me a damage report." Lafiel orders.
The people on the bridge once again became busy; however Arubofu who just completed his task went into a trance-like state.
"If you feel tired, then should I temporally take over your position?" Lafiel asks 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 display console.
On the console were displayed both damage reports from Gurinshia and Jinto. Although the engines were luckily spared from any serious damages, their combat ability has dropped significantly.
In theory this ship should be able to commence combat operations with the Marusukov, but in reality they should look into the situation of that ship before making a decision.
"Initiate inter-bubble message to the flagship." Lafied orderd Yateshu to report to the squadron flagship Shutukov of their damages, and that they will be awaiting orders.
"Incoming message from the Shutukov." The communication officer reports, "Both Marusukov and Flicaubh will engage enemy space-time bubble 211 together, over."
"Looks like the commander won't let us rest so easily." Lafiel exposes a smile. Presently they have to temporarily hold off on mourning the dead.
Very well, although there is no way for me to control the ship myself, the blood boiling in my body is endlessly bubbling up.
"Communications officer, initiate inter-bubble communication with the Marusukov." Lafiel orders, then picking up the microphone to once again speak into the internal broadcast system, "This is the Captain reporting, this ship will soon engage in another battle!"
The war between The Humankind Empire of Abh and the Three Nations Alliance is in its seventh year. Up until now, the empire still has the upper hand.
Through three years of preparation, the empire initiated Operation Phantom Flame which had cut off about 1/4 of the United Mankind's star systems.
Then the Empire launched Operation Hunter with the task of recovering territories wrested from it at the outbreak of the war. After this operation, the empire had completely recovered those territories and also started to consolidate new territories that were gained. Afterwards, a period of peace came to planar space.
Although recovering lost territories, the Empire enacts a strict control policy to newly gained territories that has knowledge of planar space travel. However, the Empire does not completely control things on the planet surface of those territories, only the planar space around it. After all, as long as these people living on the planet don't enter planar space. It is the Abh's style to just patiently wait until they willingly surrender. Even if this were so, in the event of a hostile ground world, the Star Force still has to dispatch some forces tasked with monitoring their world.
In order to consolidate their forces to face the next operation, the Empire will continue to monitor unstable worlds, sometimes going as far as to threaten them with military action. On the other hand, after a long deployment in combat, soldiers are required to take a vacation.
Traditionally, the Abh feel that the best place to find love is on the battlefield, but such a place is hardly the most fitting location to pursue such an emotion. This is also the view shared by the overwhelming majority of Abh people. Based on the things mentioned above, most soldiers would rather ask for leave from the Star Force, board a small trading vessel headed for the capital to continue to cultivate the seedling called love.
To these Abh people, war is their day-to-day life, and despite the landers perspective on how the Abh can live a very long time; no matter how long you live there is still a limit. Let alone the Abh themselves feel that their life span is actually quite short, therefore they have to remember that words like 'war is the primary goal of life' are not to be held true.
Of course, the Empire is continuously on the look-out for the Three Nations Alliance's counter offensive, because for the two previous military operations they have been primarily on the defense. It is obvious that they are saving their main forces for the opportunity when they can counter-attack.
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 planar 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 planar 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 planar 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 his 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 Vangard 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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