"I'm getting bored..."
Lord Dio stretched, squaring his shoulders after sitting in front of a chessboard for a long period of time. Today, the Lord did not wish to remain in the palace, so we went to the observation ship.
"Do you wish to return to the palace?"
"No, I don't want to go back there. It's a better idea to stay here."
After saying this, Lord Dio frowned.
"As you wish."
Outside where there are battles in the air, there must always be an observation ship present. This is the job of the Guild. But for now, monitoring the progress of the battle is not necessary, so there is no reason for us to be here. We simply watch, not separating any of the Claudia units.
Nevertheless, if a violation of the rules was missed, what would Maestro Delphine think?
"It's getting cold."
I glanced at the cup filled with fragrant coffee in his hand. It was in a plain copper mug that had been roughed up, obtaining a few dents from falling to the floor. But thanks to the daily care of it, it hasn't lost its luster.
"Are you already out of coffee?" I asked first officer Rumolt, looking at the cup.
He is always attentive to such details. Due to his non-noble origin, he was sent to the ship for simple organizational work. And most likely, he paid someone off.
"No, I still have enough."
I looked around, the bridge was in full view. It doesn't differ from those that are on all standard Anatoray battleships. And just as was the same case as on the other ships, there wasn't enough space in here. Initially, it was a large spacious area, but it was intentionally reduced by partitions. Personnel on the bridge was also reduced after getting rid of extra bodies to bring the total number of men to a minimum, yet still enough necessary for conducting battle.
Maybe there's something I don't understand about the nobility and prestige, but the presence of such pretentious and pompous people on the bridge will help little in the present battle. All ships are identical on the outside, but when it comes to functionality and defensive strength, none of them can compare to my ship, the "Vindictive."
No, not that. Maybe I should call it the 'Alzey family ship.'
Rumolt's voice resounding from afar pulled me out of my thoughts. I have repeatedly told him to call me Vince - but this guy obviously never got rid of the habit. Rumolt looks calm, but a faint smile appears on his face. He was waiting for me to answer.
"How is your mood today?"
"I'm in a good mood. Today is a national holiday."
"Is that so?"
Apparently, he seems to want to know whether the occasion entitles them to a day off. I wonder, is this sort of thing is decided on the other ships?
"Where is the commander?"
"Commander... well, he was pretty unhappy that he was in a such a place..."
"Don't say such nonsense, Senior Officer!" Rumolt gently chided with a chuckle.
"Beg your pardon. Unlike his subordinates, the commander was able to afford a full day off."
Such motivation and desire to work can't just be found on other ships. We're away from the main battlefield, and it's not known whether the enemy intends to attack all of our locations. But nothing can be done. We've been forced to carry out the order and take a defensive position on the Ontranto border area. In addition, even if the battle had not yet approached the nearest city of Rothfu, this was still no time for games. But for the commander, being here was nevertheless a shameful hit to his relegation. Even a noble like me has no place on the frontlines. In any case, it didn't come to mind to grieve that lost chance to line my pockets, taking advantage of my origins. Nevertheless, the crew of my ship was trained with the utmost care, ready to fight under any circumstances. I'm lucky that I can be absolutely confident in my people. And although by this time other crew aboard other ships would be resting, we're working in our location as expected, though nobody appears discontent with this. Nevertheless, the forces showing excessive zeal in work and trying their best, while necessary in an emergency, can be compared to putting the cart before the horse.
"It's quiet here right now, but don't forget that there's war going on. With the exception of infantry, all forces should remain in their places. As an exception, infantry can relax for today."
"Understood! ... and you, Captain?"
Contrary to those instructions, Rumolt asks that with a smile. To which I answer with the utmost vigor.
"Me? I'm staying here, of course."
Where else would the captain be if not on the bridge? But seeing the slight concern on Rumolt's face, I come "to the rescue."
"However, today I will be located in my cabin, so call me if anything happens. And more than that ... order the entire crew to 'get rid' of the bottles of rum."
"But ... we've no occasion..."
"Your birthday is coming up."
Rumolt looked puzzled at the order, and again he tried to protest.
"But my birthday isn't coming soon."
"Don't worry about such details. If you desired to have a birthday, first officer, you can celebrate at least twice, since the Guild can celebrate for a whole week!"
The entire crew laughed. The answer doesn't seem to convince Rumolt, but orders are orders. Finally agreeing, he slowly turned and saluted the rest of the crew to repeat the order of the captain.
"Roger! Orders to the crew ... to relax."
In response, the crew of the bridge also saluted. I intended to stay a little longer, but I had to leave. The captain's presence is nevertheless capable of causing awkwardness among the crew. Besides, I myself recently argued that when it comes to long stretches of time without leave, short-term respite doesn't hurt and will not make us useless if suddenly an emergency arises. Putting the mug down, I stood up and went to my cabin.
The captain's cabin. There's nothing but a small table, chairs and a hard bed. In contrast to the ornate cabins on the nobles' ships, it's practical, so more like any other normal room. Furthermore, in order to reduce the amount of combustible materials inside the ship, it was decided not to use wood framing, so the furniture is instead made of steel. Even the sheets were made of fire-resistant material, which in itself is very popular except for among the nobles who did not enjoy them. Perhaps other captains believe warships are extensions of their own homes? Some of the lovers of luxury who boarded ships even took their own servants with them. The job of men is here on the battlefield. So there should be no useless things. Functional and practical things, and possible other objects of personal leisure - those are sufficient. Are those not the aesthetics for a military man?
After throwing my cap on the table, I sit down in the chair, putting my feet on the table. Picking up the cap with my foot, I wave it a little side to side. In my field of sight is a photograph that's on my desk.
Since then, many years has passed. The days spent in the military academy are now remembered like a dream. At that time I shared a room with Alex. He seemed like a stiff and moody man. It seemed like he had forgotten how to smile, even in the womb. When we first met, I doubted he even had a real mother. He might as well have been born out of wood or stone. Later, from the stories I heard from Princess Sophia, I was convinced that he just didn't know how to enjoy life. So I did something because I wanted to cheer him up~.
I hid cheese and rotten fish in the room, but since it was a shared room, that idea was quickly abandoned. That guy doesn't lose self-control, even with the stench. Then came stews and soups spilled on textbooks. It's hard to recall. In addition, he remembered absolutely everything the teachers said during lessons. To some extent, his ability for memorization fascinated even me.
And then there was the Princess Sophia. The princess studied with us at the military academy in the class for people descendent from high-ranking families, so we became friends and spent a lot of time as a threesome along with Alex. Although I later learned that it was not an accident. It seemed the princess initially wanted this. And I, as it turned out, was a makeweight to Alex? Maybe my becoming friends with Alex was also her idea? Ahh, well the guy I was arranged with is a good one, no matter how you look at it. After release us two men began to participate in combat missions, although it all more greatly resembled an official appointment from higher up. There was no distinct information on that subject.
After some time, I received a letter from an unknown sender. From the handwriting, I realized that the letter was from Alex. He briefly wrote that he now served on a new type of ship. Part of a black ship was visible in a photograph that came with the letter. The letter was just his style. Nobody writes like him. As I'm thinking about all this, I start to get sleepy. Or maybe I can blame it on the usual fatigue.
Cold rain is pouring outside. It's the worst weather for pursuing an enemy fleet. The visibility is almost at zero, and even the work for the acoustics is difficult. But right now, there is a Disith fleet in front of us, and we cannot miss it. Because things are different - the fleet is not moving toward Minagith. At this rate, it will soon reach either Rothfu or Orisberg. And then it will begin to approach closer to Otranto. So the task at hand is complicated and problematic.
A sharp voice pierced through the silence of the bridge. Possibly, the captain had some sort of idea.
"Yes! I'm listening, Captain."
A pleasant voice responded to the deep baritone of the captain's. The voice of the commander, Alex Rowe. This ship was an independent combat unit and flagship of the Anatoray military, "Silvana." Our home. On the other hand, this ship is the only one of its kind out of the entire fleet. After enough persuasions, Prime Minister Marius still agreed to my selfish requests, and allowed us to fly aboard this ship. Since its basic mission consists of searching for the Exile as well as the interception of Disith ships, both of which are carried out in secret.
The appointed captain was Richard Percival, an honored veteran colonel. Where many young people cannot handle it, confidently managing a warship needed those professionals, despite their ages. This is particularly important when it comes to the leadership of this new of this ship, the Silvana. For this job, you need very carefully selected people. In truth, the captain should have been Rear Admiral Hamilcar, a confidant of Prime Minister Marius. But... his memories of Hamilcar must still fill his heart with pain. Even if part of his heart will always remain in the Grand Stream.
The grey rainy sky looks like the Grand Stream right now. Commander Alex must feel the same way, looking at the heavy clouds. With a decisive step he comes into the cabin and sits on a low chair, waiting for the captain to speak. Seeing him, Captain Percival picks up an envelope with a letter.
"Before our departure, the Prime Minister gave me instructions."
"The Prime Minister?" Alex asks with a shadow of doubt in his voice.
"Marius appointed a specific time to give you this envelope."
"Yes. I advise you to read it."
After saying this, the captain handed the envelope to Alex. Despite the stiffness in his voice, a smile was readable in his voice. There could be no mistake. Breaking the seal, Alex began to read and after a few moments, he looked at Percival in surprise.
"Captain, this is..."
The news was surprising but true, according to the contents of the letter, as of this moment the captain of the Silvana is Commander Alex. Hearing Alex's words, the now former captain Percival smiled wider.
"Based on this letter, this is now your ship, Captain Alex."
Without having the time to finish, be receives an immediate reprimand:
"The ship has only one captain!"
Alex immediately stands and salutes Percival.
"Yes! Excuse me, commander."
"All right. You can now start to see to your duties."
"Start... right now?"
I've never seen Alex in a state of confusion. Usually, he doesn't show his emotions. Actually, no. I've seen joy on his face, but only when he flew in a vanship with her. I would very much like to see him smile again. Therefore, I will help him carry out his revenge. After preparing the Silvana and getting him appointed captain, I will be his assistant. Of course, Marius' feelings for him are that of a father's feelings. Now I have a role to play. Largely because of the circumstances of the transfer of command of the ship.
Alex still looks taken aback, and probably can't completely grasp what's happening. With a stern voice "Brigadier General" Percival pulls him out of his thoughts.
"Do you have something to say? Possibly ask 'will my knowledge be enough to take this position'?"
Whatever it was, overtaking the Disith fleet is now our primary objective. That's right... last night, thanks to the rain birds, we learned of the Disith ships' approach. After revealing the presence of the enemy fleet in Anatoray territory, we went after them. We don't have time to think about irrelevant things right now.
Additionally, and unlike the previous cases, this time the fleet appeared in southeast Norkia (2), and clearly weren't serving as reinforcements for the attack on Minagith (3). Now the fleet is moving in the opposite direction of Minagith. Despite the fact that there are many large cities located south of Minagith, the fleet keeps its direction toward Orisberg (5). But Orisberg is a well protected area - a veritable fortress, so Disith cannot afford to try and seize it. So that isn't their goal. Where are they going? If the fleet continues to move east, it will soon draw close to Rothfu (6). And then, if they break through the strait of Otranto, they will open the way to the Imperial capital (7). In the case of a simultaneous invasion from the Minagith area and from the side of the desert, the fortress of defense will be of no use, and the Imperial fleet's army will be powerless. Indeed, it's a good plan. Such a stab in the back is difficult to predict. Especially if one knows that the enemy is not aware of the situation in Otranto. Right now, there are only 10 ships and only a few people that I know of. But despite this, the enemy deliberately chose the target and is acting decisively. This suggests that it is possible that one of the ships slipped by as a spy.
At this point, Percival's voice sounded:
"Yes, Alex Row, if we continue to pursue Disith, we will certainly win the battle. Excellent. Thus, from this point on, I remove myself from control of this ship. Show me what you can do, Alex."
Alex was now the captain. With a smile, Commander Percival pulls out another envelope.
"Sophia, this is for you."
At last, my name was called. Marius' plan was completed, with this. I take the envelope from the hands of the commander and look inside. As expected, inside were instructions. I'm being assigned as first assistant to Alex. After reading the letter, I smile broadly.
"Yes. The Prime Minister has appointed you as Alex's assistant."
"I see. Captain, shall I inform the crew about these appointments?"
When the crew of the ship is informed of the appointment of Alex as captain, as well as my appointment as his first assistant, there will be a kind of ritual, marking the end of the previous era. Alex did not seem to notice that I spoke to him? In a low voice, I said the word "captain" again. This time he heard me, answering with a bit of an agitated voice:
"Yes. Yes, of course, tell them."
After obtaining permission, I approached the intercom device installed on the bridge, and flipped the switch to alert the entire ship.
"Attention to the entire crew, this is First Assistant Sophia. Along with the appointment of now Commander Brigadier General Percival, leadership of this ship has now been assigned to Captain Alex."
Hearing this, the former captain and now brigadier general looked noticeably concerned.
"Sophia, that appointment..."
"It's okay. I have a letter of appointment from Marius. He would like you to take part in carrying out this mission."
While saying this, I pull out his copy of the letter. This is thanks to Marius.
"So this is how ... well, if that's the case, then I have no reason to refuse."
"Yes, please accept this appointment as a sign of our gratitude to you."
In the military academy, when Alex was appointed first lieutenant and commander of the crew, I came to the Silvana as a second lieutenant. Since then, I've really learned a lot from Percival. From the principles of work on the warship as well as how best to organize the work of the crew, to strategy of air combat to the purchases of food stocks. Pretty much everything. And as we moved up in promotions, the colonel continued to teach us. And for that, we had to thank him. Perhaps Alex was also thought that. He politely turned to Percival:
"Commander, I instruct you to develop a strategy."
"Roger. As I said earlier, we should keep pursuing the Disith fleet. So from here on, you give all of the orders, Alex."
Still holding onto the communication tube, I get stuck in their conversion:
"Isn't it wonderful, Captain Alex?"
"Hm. With you having such a zeal to work, I don't think I have much to do here."
"What are you complaining about? This is only the beginning."
"I suppose. So, Silvana, full speed! Continue to pursue the enemy fleet!"
Alex gives the order with some joy in his voice. Without needing to say anything, I know that he always wanted to be captain of this ship. So I just as happily answer him:
4. Disith Fleet
"Commander Horthy, 32 ships successfully passed through the Grand Stream," a young voice sounded.
The lights on the bridge suddenly went out. Visible under the red emergency light were only peoples' silhouettes. A harsh voice responsed:
"Eight additional ships as well as us are nothing more than "lame ducks."
"That's right. Three ships - the Patrie, Genereux and Serieuse - were hit. Following them, five ships of the Republic were badly damaged, and have now joined the fleet that will attack Minagith."
A heavy sigh was heard from the owner of the harsh voice.
"Status report on the remaining ships."
"Roger. Four ships have been half-damaged, and the damage of the eleven ships are insignificant. No violations in the conduct of battle were found."
"Acknowledged. If this is the entirety of the military power we possess right now, then we will not take Otranto."
There was a touch of calmness in his voice as he answered:
"No need to worry. According to information from the Guild, there are only ten ships in Otranto right now."
"Excellent. All ships, set a course to Otranto."
"Roger, set course to Otranto."
The "Reparation" class Disith ships that passed through the Grand Stream formed their ranks and with a rumble and roar, began to move in the direction of Otranto. Nobody in Anatoray or Otranto knew of the approach of the enemy.
"Vanship crew, prepare for takeoff," the voice of First Assistant Sophia sounds in the hangar of the Silvana. After hearing her voice, the mechanics working at the time begin to joke.
"Wow! So Miss Sophia is now the first assistant~"
"Yeah. Hearing a woman's voice awakens a desire to work!"
"Hey, you there! This is no time for talking. Get to work!"
Chief mechanic Godwin chastises both Kostabi and Ethan, and calmly continues to work on the preparations for the vanships. Another from the chief mechanic of the Silvana was not worth the wait. In the meantime, I start checking the vanship for prelaunch. No external damage detected, the pre- launch check - fuel normal, mapping normal - all present. All that remains is to wait for Tatiana, and then we can fly at once.
"Alis, are preparations complete?"
Tataiana appears at that moment, holding her helmet. She brought a map with her. Most likely, to double-check the instructions regarding our future strategy. I have my own map, but I take Tatiana's from her hands and look it over again. For Tatiana ... no, for me, too ... this may be our first combat mission, so we need to be as collected as possible. Since the time of my dismissal from the officers' school, when Miss Sophia... or rather, now First Assistant Sophia, right? On the whole, from the time they took us board this ship, we've only participated in several reconnaissance operations, but have never been in a real battle.
Looking out from over the map, I notice the commander of the vanship squad, Michael, talking about something with Godwin. The commander points to something near the engine of his beloved vanship, named the Wine Red. Is there some kind of problem? Wait, no. It seems like some adjustments need to be corrected on the vanship. I've heard many times that when it comes to fine-tuning, the commander here has some phenomenal skills. Nevertheless, he always wished to know how things really worked. Rumor has it that one day he noticed a fault in the cylinder just by the sound alone. At least, that's what I was told. In the process of me thinking about this, Tataiana has already taken her place in the front seat and is beginning her checks.
"What is the route?" her voice suddenly sounded.
"Let's see ... the enemy seems to be moving in the direction of Rothfu. The first vanship will move through the strait of Otranto. The rest will be occupied with the search for the enemy, so will go at different angles. Our vanship, as usual, is the sixth, therefore we shall fly in the direction of 11 o'clock."
"Understood. If the enemy is moving directly toward Otranto, contact is not going to happen along our route."
I could hear regret in Tatiana's voice. Perhaps a chance to participate in a real battle will not be presented today? Meanwhile, the preparations seem to have been completed, and the commander sent the vanship lift up. Ready to depart, we in turn also start the engine. At this point, the mechanics hurried and ran around to also start preparing for takeoff. Since we're heading out last, we have enough time to check everything over carefully. So far everything is in order.
"Okay then, forward!"
While inspecting for any possible malfunctions for the last time, I heard the voice in Tatiana's headphones. I raised my thumb, indicating that the preparation checks were passed successfully. In response, the mechanics started to push the vanship onto the lift. There was a slight bump from the contact with the surface as the vanship was placed on the lift. We climb the dark shaft, and after a moment we find ourselves on the rear deck of the ship. It's quite dark outside, the rain cold. I don't like when it rains. Because of the memories of that day. Thanks to Tatiana, I'm here now. Moreover, I can fly in a vanship. Despite not managing to finish in the officers' academy, being here is enough for me.
The rain isn't stopping, so in the meantime the mechanics are connecting the communication cable. Finally, when the work is complete, Godwin gives the signal to the commander that the last vanship is ready for takeoff. The commander gives the signal "all vanships - takeoff."
Tatiana immediately applies the full throttle. The engine starts with a low growl, and after a moment it lets out a loud roar as the vanship quickly soars into the air. This is my most favorite time. When, in spite of the communication with the ship via cable, Tatiana and I are alone in the sky. As if dropping a huge weight off of our shoulders, we become free...
Our vanship rises higher and higher as it passes the port side of the Silvana. Tatiana looks toward the bridge. I wonder what she's thinking? Maybe the fact that the path to the post of captain of the ship is now closed off to her? Or perhaps about the first assistant, Sophia? Shaking her head slightly, Tatiana spoke:
"Okay then ... forward."
She repeated her earlier words. Yes, for me everything will be good. As long as you're going there with me.
"There. Engine is normal, direction 11 o'clock."
It's pitch black and the rain is freezing. I hope our future won't be the same way.
6. Disith Fleet
The sky begins to lighten. Thirty-two "Reparation" class ships cuts through the wall of continuous rain. Jagged cliffs gradually begin to appear up ahead. With them being spotted through the wall of continuous rain as if being on an enormous screen, they are directed upwards. Piercing the heavens and rising up toward the Grand Stream, the cliffs disappear to the left and the right until their boundaries completely disappear from sight. Rain that landed on the surface could be seen as narrow black spots seen between the mountain crevasses.
"So this is Otranto..." said the commander of the Disith fleet, General Horthy Merkushin as he looks at the towering wall of stone in front of him. The silence that reigned on the bridge of the flagship Aigle as the crew stopped, stuck in the greatness that opened before them through the cliffs, was broken by a voice:
"Yes. According to the coordinates obtained from the Guild," said Makarov, the adjutant.
"Understood. If this fortress is really so impregnable, then the task of protecting it shouldn't be complicated. But if we look at the other hand, the simplicity of defense may exactly be what helps us break through. In addition, it will directly open a path to the Imperial city capital, won't it?"
General Horthy's words were met by cheers.
For the residents of Disith who were drowning under blocks of ice and snow, a sense of hope always had an important significance. Now, while the invasion of Anatoray reached a impasse, it was possible to take out its best ships manned by their best crews, if they struck with a decisive blow. Disith has come to the point where they're not sure if they'll have enough strength to fight in another two years. Disith's goal has always been consistent: to collect as many veterans as possible, bring Anatoray to the negotiating table and suggest to take a part of their territory. There were those who believed, that due to the abnormal weather in the world, that there was a way to peacefully exist with Anatoray, but their numbers were small. Instead of leisurely looking for ways to coexist, priority was given to the protection of their people. That's the most important thing right now.
"Enter the strait of Otranto," an officer said in a strained voice.
"Very well! All ships, exercise vigilance."
According to the plan, all ships shall be arranged into three rows. At the front is the first squadron, followed by the flagship Aigle. They are followed by the second and third squadrons. Such an order is due to the difference in performance. Initially it was proposed to place the flagship on the first line, since in this position it would have been more convenient to see and assess the tactical situation. But that also risked the ship being destroyed at the beginning of the battle, so to prevent the loss of so many important combat units, it was decided to place the ships in that order. Moving closer to each other, the Disith ships began to move through the narrow strait of Otranto.
The slightest deviation in direction, even one so much caused by a gust of wind, could cause the ships to crash into the stone walls on either side. Additionally, all ships were put into blackout mode, so were now following each other one after the other, only relying on the faint glows of marker lights. For this decisive battle, whose result determined their future, the entire Disith army was made up of the best pilots and crews who were chosen. Even under such poor conditions their ships persevered due to their construction and slowly continued to advance through the narrow strait.
On the bridge, they all hold their breath, waiting to finally pass through the strait. The silence in the ship is so quiet that you could even hear a pin drop...
Chapter 2 —>