"We can't see anything," spoke the voice of Tatiana.
We're flying through a wall of rain. I wonder, has the enemy already reached the strait of Otranto? In any case, thus far there has been no communications from the other crews about any sort of contact with the enemy.
Soon we arrive at Rothfu's mountain range. Still having time to look at the map, I begin to understand the reason why the vanships that are participating in the reconnaissance mission are focused much more on the starboard side than on the left. The enemy is now able to move either toward Otranto, or are heading south to Orisberg. Possibly, they're planning to pass between Orisberg and Rothfu. Regardless, the direction of our contact with the enemy fleet will not be exact. In this sort of terrain, ships simply have nowhere to hide, and building any sort of base for the fleet is also impossible. Since they're weaker than their enemies, it is less likely that they will take risks so they're in vain. Here with nothing to say, it seems rather obvious.
"Yes. They'll more than likely to require our assistance."
"And they still continue to regard us as dependent fledglings~"
"In reality, the comparison of flying in a vanship..." Tatiana trailed off, and did not finish her sentence.
It seems she still hasn't given up her dream of becoming a captain. But whatever that was, if they missed the movement of their enemy, they'd all be in trouble.
2. Disith Fleet
The heavy silence that reigned on board the Aigle was suddenly interrupted by a voice:
"Commander, obstacle ahead!"
The ship immediately began to buzz with noise. As if waking from sleep, the crew began to bustle. Wanting to stop the begun turmoil, Commander Horthy loudly said:
"Several small ships."
"Spotted across the width of the strait."
"The ships are interconnected via cables."
Reports from the vanguard came one after another. Anatoray ships were placed across the strait, with cables between them to connect them all, thus creating a boundary. If crossed without warning, an alarm will sound, or they could run into mines.
"It's dark," says Horthy, "so be extremely careful."
"We will carry out this task with honor!"
"All forces stop movement, the vanguard will attack immediately."
"Not a single ship should retreat, if there are any difficulties, please inform the main ship."
Giving those orders in clear sequence, Horthy's voice, similar to screeching metal is heard throughout the ship. The ship's gun is rotated toward the target.
"Main caliber at full readiness - artillery reports."
Compared to the former Disith fleet, preparations were now reduced by 10 seconds. Hearing this, Horthy smiles and gives the order to attack the enemy.
"All ships - full speed ahead. Begin the offensive."
"Roger, beginning offensive."
In contrast to the previous models of the "Reparation" class, these ships can conduct continuous artillery fire. Targeting accuracy is low because of the darkness and the rain. Yet despite the fact that the shooting is aimed at thin targets, the small ships are destroyed one after the other. Among several ships, motion and an attempt to disconnect the cables are detected, but shots immediately ring out in their general direction.
"If this continues, it's only a matter of time before all ships are destroyed," reports the first mate.
At this moment, there was an explosion heard before the ship Aigle, one unlike the roar of cannon shots, which had only been heard until now. From where the sound came, a ship was now visible, completely enveloped in flames.
"What is it?!"
"On the left side, the first class ship 'Believe' came into contact with one of the mines."
"Report the damage."
There is an exchange of light signals. Simultaneously, the attack of the first line of the blockade continues.
"Received report: 'There is no damage in the main bay. The ship's engine power is at the same level'."
"Excellent. Beware of mines and continue the offensive."
It seems like the effect of the surprise will be crowned with success. Now the task is to destroy the enemy's vanguard. Then - to destroy the enemy's port. When the port is captured, damaged ships will be sent to the repair dock. All of the surviving ships will apply the decisive blow.
If everything goes fine, this battle will be over. Through the entire Disith fleet, this feeling became increasingly stronger.
I woke up with a sense of anxiety. A hell of an unpleasant sensation. But soon I have to give a status report on the border. Through the rain, thunder can be heard from far away, but is it thunder...? An enemy invasion of Otranto is unlikely, but I still can't stop thinking about it.
Disith has had little patience as of late, haven't they? I hear from time to time, that in their struggle, Disith has forgotten the spirit of chivalry. However, is there such thing as "knightly honor" when it comes to a real battle? Rules that must be observed by everyone exist even in battle, that much is true. But what if Disith refused to comply with them? I've heard from the surroundings around the Prime Minister that Disith was seriously preparing for war. It is no longer about fighting in accordance to the rules of the Guild, but rather a real battle. So if it comes to that, what will happen to us who still follow the rules of war like a game?
"Deputy," I call through the intercom.
"Nothing unusual going on?"
"Everything is fine."
"Good. The dimming system is also activated."
"That's right. But because the port side is illuminated, it does not make much sense," Rumolt's gloomy voice spoke.
And yet, despite the fact that it feels like the rest of the crew is still absolutely calm, I still can't shake that bad feeling.
"If something happens, it wouldn't be desirable to have to compensate for the damage."
"I agree, Captain."
"Well, keep vigilant."
In saying this, I seem to pass Rumolt the unexpected concern which I myself am experiencing right now. If something does happen, all we can do is to bring the ship to full combat readiness.
The current situation is being reported through the communication cables. Apparently, the second group has discovered the enemy.
"Tatiana, the second vanship. They found the enemy."
After hearing the report, Tatiana sighs disappointedly and turns the wheel sharply to the right. After receiving preliminary instructions, we rush to the site of detection of the enemy. It seems that the second group has already entered the strait of Otranto. So it was true, Otranto was the target of the enemy from the very beginning. But how did Disith find it? Moreover, learned of their weak points. It seems that they weren't without some sort of spy.
"As expected. The strait was the most likely target for an attack."
Suddenly I want to ask whether or not Tatiana thought the same thing.
"That's right. In any case, it's nice to know that the situation has finally started to move forward."
"Aha-ha, excited for a fight, Alis?"
"Do you think so? I thought that if there was anyone who couldn't wait, it would be you, Tatiana."
We both laughed. All is well, all is okay, so now we can completely relax.
5. Disith Fleet
Even through a wall of rain, the bridge of the flagship Aigle was clearly visible due to the light that flooded from Otranto's port. They are not even aware that the enemy is near.
"Are these Anatorians in there asleep, or what?"
"The invasion was a success!" the first mate's voice was full of delight.
After barely breaking through the Grand Stream, they finally reached their goal. This should have been expected. If they're able to break through there, then nothing will be able to stop them.
"Good. Transmit to all ships to continue to act according to plan, and..." suddenly, a shrill noise on the bridge stops Commander Horthy short.
"What's the matter? Why was the commander interrupted?!" yelled adjunct Makarov.
"Enemy ship behind us!" rather than shouting, the watchman answers him with a loud voice.
Noise rose on board the ship. At that moment, the Aigle already activated a beam searchlight.
"We've been deceived?!"
"I see we made it in time," relief was heard in Alex's voice.
"Yes, we followed them for a long while. However, I'm still a little worried."
Indeed, keeping track of the enemy while remaining undetected was not easy. If you keep too much of a distance, you lose sight of them. And on the contrary, if you get too close then you reveal yourself. Therefore, we use vanships for search operations because they can keep the right distance from enemy ships. Though the complexity when the enemy's speed is so high was greater than we expected.
"Hm. In order to break through the blockade line, they attacked the narrow line of ships, one after the other. They spent the time and effort to destroy all of the ships, but now the tides are turning on them," Alex spoke quietly, but with a contempt that criticized the tactics of the enemy.
It's true. If the enemy had not hesitated before the blockade line, we would not have succeeded in catching up with them. In Otranto's territory, pursuit of the enemy in a vanship would also be a difficult task. Now, before our eyes we could see the Disith flag, caught in the spotlight.
"The vanship teams have done well."
"Yes, very well."
They had flown before the second group had entered the territory of the military port, and then the searchlights quickly discovered the enemy. Apparently they warned their allies to attack the enemy.
"Well then, open fire!"
Alex's order sounds over the silence in the bridge of the Silvana. The crew is on full alert. Soon, rapid-fire guns move forward and a series of shots of flaming arrows are fired, rushing toward the Disith ships.
"First series of shots - hit. Technical report - no changes. Begin preparations for the second series of shots," bridge officer Greyhound calmly reports as the fire continues.
I wonder what the enemy will do now? Their ships are now behind their flagship, so they can not attack. If this goes on and they start to get shot down one by one, will they turn back? Or will they still try to achieve a fast speed toward the port or Otranto? In that case, what will Alex do? I catch myself thinking that I'm looking forward to it, when Alex finally announces his strategy. Although it seems to me that the battlefield is not a place for such expectations.
7. Disith Fleet
"Where is the enemy?" Horthy turns the binoculars toward the stern. But the only thing that comes into view is a vanship flying next to the ship.
Moreover, having flown quietly alongside the ship, the vanship now approached the bridge, preparing to attack from a low-level flight. Horthy rushed toward the adjutant, knocking him to the floor and thus moving him away from the line of fire. The bullets did not hit them, but now the bridge is in a terrible state.
Perhaps Disith could have been victorious, but the precious last moments have been lost. Perhaps if they sacrificed the rearguard to bring the Silvana down while the rest of the remaining ships were able to destroy the enemy's port, regardless of the damage sustained from that, they could make it closer to the Imperial capital, which could then be destroyed. Perhaps it could have happened without this "if"... Now, the enemy was in a position of being untouchable, the flagship is under fire, and giving strict orders would not work - so the opportunity had disappeared.
The vanships flying nearby release colored smoke, completely blocking the view of the Disith ships. Meanwhile, the enemy ship behind them resumes its rapid-fire attack. Reports of the situation were more like screams echoing through the bridge, much like a death knell.
"The "Crown" is hit, and losing altitude!"
"The Unit of the "Invincible" has been detached."
"Commander Horthy, further instructions please!"
There was no answer to this death knell. The ringing continues, as people continue to die. This was the death knell for the fallen Disith Fleet.
"Hey, Lucciola, look! What's that?"
The beautiful, pure voice of Lord Dio is heard in the empty, wide hall. He seems to be excited - his voice sounds a bit intense. The Lord points to a small, awkward looking object flying in the sky that has just emerged from a plume of white smoke.
"It looks rather awkward."
"Really? I think it looks really funny!"
"I do not quite understand."
"I wish I could fly in one ... because surely you can freely fly anywhere," Dio says happily, looking at the object.
But aren't the starfish and observer ships enough to fly?
"Perhaps that is the case. However, the starfish appear more suitable for free flight."
"The starfish? I can't stand them. When you're in them, there's that constant feeling of being monitored," Dio says with a scowl.
If Lord Dio says such a thing, then that is the way it is. For me, what Lord Dio says is the only absolute truth. This faith is my entire existence.
"Lucciola, learn everything you can about it."
"Someday I'll fly in one. Then, I'll try to perform that Immelmann Turn that I've read about recently."
"Yes, that will be enjoyable."
In the old book that Lord Dio found, there were various flight techniques described. The Immelmann Turn was the flying pattern that the Lord liked more than the others. The pilot's name has been immortalized in that maneuver. If Lord Dio was the pilot, there would certainly be acrobatics, and a "Dio Turn" would be named in his honor. I'm sure of it.
"Then, Lucciola, you'll be my navigator!"
"Understood. Please accept my sincere thanks."
The desires and whims of Lord Dio always appear so suddenly. And yet, when I try to guess what his next whim will be, I notice in the depths of my heart that I look forward to every one of them.
"Lucciola, do you think when flying in one of those, you can touch the clouds?"
"... The clouds?"
"Yes, the clouds!"
"Presumably, that will be difficult to do."
"I see... I wonder if I'll ever be so free to fly high above the clouds, and touch them with my hand?" The Lord's face darkens.
Such things for us simply do not exist. No, that's not it. It should be rephrased: there is no such thing so long as we are in the Guild.
... But, where else but the Guild could we live?
<— Chapter 1 | Chapter 3 —>