- The text on this page might not match with the most current version of the translation (translation file last updated on 11/13/2010). A download link for a Word document of the original translation can be found on the discussion page.
Shimohara Sadako's New Assignment
Winter 1943; Petersburg, Orussia
Shimohara Sadako was standing in front of the main gate of the base for the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing. It appeared to be a remodeled fort built in the 18th century. After a bow to the Staff Car that brought her there, she followed the guidance of the military orderly and made her way towards the control room of the base.
Established thanks to the achievements of the Suomus Volunteer Air Squadron, a “Joint Fighter Wing” is a unit that employs witches from various nations. I could not help but feel doubt and anxiety over why I was selected to join such a unit. Being called an “elite member” of the Fuso Navy as a member of the Libau European Dispatch Fleet was a thought that made my body tense up. I had heard that Sakamoto, the “demon instructor” who trained me during my time in Libau, had joined the 501st Joint Fighter Wing that had recently been established in Britannia. Wondering if Sakamoto was doing well and things of that sort, I arrived at a door adorned with a plate that read, “502JFW Command.”
I knocked on the door, and was greeted with a, “Welcome,” that sounded like it came from a cheerful yet dignified woman. When I opened the door, I noticed a comfortable-looking chair covered in leather and a brown-haired woman with a relaxed mood. I also caught sight of the figure of a silver-haired woman with a small build standing beside that woman.
“I am Shimohara Sadako, Pilot Officer of the Fuso Navy here to report my assignment to the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing.”
“Alright. Very well. There is no need to be so stiff. Please, feel at ease.”
Sitting in the chair and enjoying some coffee would make it seem that this woman was the leader, Wing Commander Rall.
“I am Wing Commander Gundual Rall, the person in charge of this place. This is Flight Sergeant Edytha Rossmann.”
Wing Commander Rall introduced the silver-haired witch with a small body. I wondered if she was around the same age as me or perhaps younger. Despite that, she looked like a sort of school teacher who possessed an adult-like air about her.
“Even though she is a flight sergeant, she’s much more valuable than a lot of the people ranked above her. Please get along with her.”
“Commander, please keep your jokes in moderation. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Pilot Officer Shimohara.”
I shook the tiny hand that was outstretched to me.
“By the way, I actually wanted to introduce you to my cute witches, but unfortunately they’re in the middle of a sortie. I believe it should be about time for them to come back.”
Just as I had heard that, I noticed the sound of a knock at the door I used earlier.
“Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin, entering.”
Entering the room was a beautiful girl who could get your heart beating. She had lovely, long, blond hair that parted revealing her forehead. She was the Orussian Army's leading ace who was instructed by Commander Rall to be the 502nd's commander for combat. This was Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin, but she seemed to look displeased about something. I wondered if there was a problem with the battle that took place that day.
“Good work, Flight Lieutenant. How was our business today?”
“At 1000 hours, we entered combat as planned. The targets were: one large unit, three medium units, and from what I could tell, 16 small units.”
“Confirming the number of large units is accurate enough. Well, what were the results of the battle?”
“At 1020 hours, we confirmed that all enemy units were destroyed.”
“What were our losses?”
“Flight Sergeant Katajainen experienced engine trouble. Pilot Officer Kanno collided with a Neuroi while conducting hand-to-hand combat. They both had to make emergency landings, but they are safe.”
In a voice that seemed to be mixed with a sigh, Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin continued her report.
“We have already sent the local army out for recovery. As a precautionary measure, I have also assigned Pilot Officer Lemare to accompany them.”
“I see. Still, 20 kills is a great result, isn’t it?”
“Our own losses were too great.”
“The witches are safe aren’t they? You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
“But still...having a total loss of two Striker Units in only one sortie is...”
Just then, the thunderous roar of something falling down could be heard on the other side of the control room's wall and seemed to come from the base's runway.
“Our losses just became a total of three Striker Units.”
Everyone went out to the front of the building. On the side of the runway was the spectacle of the wreckage of a Striker Unit with one of its sides still engulfed in flames. At the spot of that emergency landing, fire-fighting and recovery operation staff worked franticly. I caught sight of a witch in a blue uniform weaving through that crowd of people and walking casually towards where we were standing.
Looking at the uniform stained from soot, dust, and oil from a Striker; it was obvious that this person was the cause of the emergency landing incident. Though that is what it would seem, the woman herself mysteriously did not have a single scratch on her body. I wondered if she had either incredible luck or amazing skill.
“Flying Officer Krupinski!”
Growing irritated, Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin angrily marched toward the witch in the blue uniform. When the two met, I noticed that the woman called “Flying Officer Krupinski” was considerably tall.
“Where exactly have you been until now? Please give your report!”
The agitated Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin demanded in a threatening tone, and Flying Officer Krupinski responded in a light manner.
“You heard about the appearance of a detached force of Neuroi on our way back, right?”
“The witches in charge of that region were dispatched. Flying Officer, you surely heard that over the radio, did you not?”
“Yes, I did hear it. And that’s when I realized something. Concerning the witches in charge of that area, today’s rotation included two new recruits: Anna and Emily. I was a bit worried about today being their day to sortie, so I thought I’d check up on how they were doing or something like that.”
“Haah...” Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin let out a sigh.
“And before I knew it, it became quite an intense battle. I tried every trick in the book to get my engine to survive flying back here, but things ended up like this.”
“Haaah...” Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin let out an even bigger sigh.
Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin seemed to be exhausted, and understandably so.
Without hesitation, the Flying Officer continued,
“I can’t say it’s much in exchange, but I scored five solo victories and two assists. Observation units in the area can surely confirm those results.”
To say something that amazing without hesitation made me believe that this person was definitely an ace. Then, Flight Sergeant Rossmann, who had been calmly standing beside the Commander up till now, walked up to Flying Officer Krupinski with an enraged expression on her face.
“Just one minute, you fake countess!”
A countess? It would seem that this was Flying Officer Krupinski's nickname. Of course, she didn't seem like someone who would actually hold that sort of court rank.
“What is it with you?! Why do you know about the sortie schedule of other units?!”
“What? You want to know? Alright, I give...you want me to tell you right here?”
Flight Sergeant Rossmann was in a bad mood, but I noticed her standing on her tip-toes with all her might next to the conspicuously taller Flying Officer Krupinski. I thought it was rather cute the way she seemed like both a child and an adult at the same time.
I suddenly looked in the distance towards the road that led to the base, and I could see army vehicles approaching. I was curious, so I concentrated my mind, and my sense of sight changed from mere “seeing” to “inspecting”.
“Is that your Magic Eye?”
Commander Rall knew about my Magic Ability, so I took the opportunity to give an explanation about it.
“Correct. It grants me long-distance vision as well as a small degree of night vision.”
“At that distance, how specific of an explanation can you give on what you see?”
“I see an Army Kübelwagen. Based on the uniform, the person sitting next to the driver is perhaps a witch from the Suomus Air Force. There are two people in the back seat who I believe are witches.”
“That’s a remarkable ability. For me, it doesn’t look like anything other than just a grain of rice.”
As it came closer, I continued to investigate further. There was no mistake about it; the person in the passenger seat was wearing a sweater with a color that represented Suomus. It was a girl with blond hair in a short-cut style. She had an expressionless face as if she had given up to the sorrows of a cruel world. The girl was watching the scenery pass by with an absent-minded stare.
Looking at the back seat, the girl on the right was wearing a flight uniform and was most likely a witch from the Fuso Navy. She had her arms folded with her mouth turned down at the corners, and she was staring straight ahead. The young girl seemed to be emitting an aura of displeasure from her small body.
Next to that girl was another young girl with brown hair tied up on both sides of her head. I could not tell where she was from, but I could see that she curled up her slender body with all her might. It wasn't a long drive, but she could not wait for it to be over. The girl occasionally tried to start up a conversation, but since the driver only seemed to listen to military matters, it became a futile route.
Seeing the accuracy of my report, Commander Rall nodded in satisfaction; and with a smile, she said, “Welcome to the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing. With this, you’ve already met everyone.”
Flight Sergeant Nikka Edvardine Katajainen, Pilot Officer Kanno Naoe, and Pilot Officer Georgette Lamare were the 3 riding in the Kübelwagen, which had just finished pulling up to the front of the hangar next to the runway. The Army truck that had followed behind it was unloading three sets of Strikers; one was intact and two had serious damage.
While the Kübelwagen was still on its way, Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin gave me a simple description about the three girls.
With her absent-minded face, Flight Sergeant Katajainen only performs duties that she's good at, and she easily handles duties that have to be done quickly. Seemingly working hastily among the maintenance crew, Pilot Officer Lemare looked like a housemaid frantically preparing for a party. With a morose look and her arms folded, Pilot Officer Kanno stood with an imposing stance. She looked like a head carpenter stubbornly watching over the operation.
Thoughts continued to go through my head when Commander Rall shouted in a clear, resounding voice,
“Nipa and Kanno, shower yourselves off and change your clothes, then give me your reports. You have 30 minutes!”
As I tilted my head to the side in confusion, Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin then explained,
“She’s referring to Miss Katajainen. It’s an interesting nickname she’s had since she was in Suomus.”
“As for me, please call me ‘Sasha’.”
When I saw the Flight Lieutenant’s charming smile, fuzzy sort of feelings began to develop within me. I can’t, I can’t. This person is Orussia’s number one ace and she has a higher rank than me.
Once the recovery work was complete, the Army vehicle left the base. The Army soldier who had gotten familiar with the witches looked reluctant to leave. Commander Rall went back inside the base, and Flight Sergeant Rossmann accompanied the seemingly exhausted Pilot Officer Lemare. Perhaps she would offer sympathy over the calamity that occurred today.
Flight Sergeant Nipa looked like thinking about her report for Commander Rall was quite tedious. Pilot Officer Kanno, always with her mouth turned down at the corners, stomped as she walked. It was as if she was trying to use her whole body to communicate her displeasure.
Flying Officer Krupinski walked and met up with the two girls.
“Nipa, Nao, are you guys okay?”
“Thanks to you,” replied Flight Sergeant Nipa.
There was a bit of a silence as Pilot Officer Kanno caught a glimpse of the Flying Officer, then she quickly went back to looking straight forward. Rather than looking displeased, she actually looked more ashamed, and she finally spoke.
“You saved us,” she replied.
Flying Officer Krupinski's appearance changed. Though it may sound childish, it was a warm and gentle smile. “This person can also put on such an expression,” I thought to myself.
“What about you? Why do you look like that?”
This change of topic was brought up by Pilot Officer Kanno.
“Oh, this? I paid a little visit to...ah, it’s a long story, so do you still want to hear it?”
“That’s too bad. Well, in short, I broke a pair of those ‘high-class boots’ just like you two.”
When she saw the Flying Officer smiling about it, Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin immediately cut into the conversation.
“It’s not a laughing matter, Flying Officer Krupinski.”
“Uh oh. The scary bear makes her appearance. Let’s get out of here, Nipa, Nao!”
Upon being called a bear, the Flight Lieutenant's porcelain-like white skin turned red even up to her ears. “Flying Officer!” Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin yelled as she stepped towards the Flying Officer, who seemed to have the advantage in speed. With her long legs, she created distance, and as her final act, she turned towards me and spoke.
“You’re the Pilot Officer who was to be assigned today, right? I’ll see you later,” she said while making her way back to the base. It was the first time a woman had ever winked at me.
“Honestly, that Flying Officer...” said Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin as she continued to whisper and mutter. Was she mad? Or maybe she was shocked?
“It’s a rather...hectic unit isn’t it?”
Thinking about the chaos that turned into a busy scene, did the words sound odd coming from such a reserved person as myself? Once again, the Flight Lieutenant put on a charming smile and replied,
“I guess that’s true. It really is a hectic unit.”
When the uproar at the runway had died down, Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin looked like she had just remembered something, and she said, “Now that I think about it, you haven’t been given a tour of the base yet, have you?”
I wondered if my luggage had already been delivered to my room by the base staff, but even before that, I noticed that this fort-like base was certainly spacious. Most of the areas were used as lodging for people like the regular members of the air force or civilians employed as military staff and used for storing raw materials. Since I could only remember a small portion of what I should have, I took up the Flight Lieutenant's offer to personally guide me around the base.
While being guided to rooms like the briefing room and recreation room, I boldly asked about something that had caught my attention earlier.
“Is there a reason why they called you a ‘bear’ earlier?”
The expression on her face made it look like I startled her. I thought that perhaps I had said something I shouldn’t have, and I thought about a way to change the subject. The Flight Lieutenant then gave be her response,
“...is a bear.”
“The thing that catches and eats fish like salmon? That kind of bear?”
“Yes, a bear like that. To be precise, it’s a polar bear...”
(TL Note: “Bear” is “kuma” in Japanese, and “kuma” can have different meanings, so Sadako was making sure what kind of “kuma” they were talking about.)
I was surprised, not only by the fact that a bear could be a familiar, but that it was paired up with this Flight Lieutenant whose lovely appearance was like that of a Western doll.
“She’s not a bad girl. She’s actually very kind, and she looks very kind as well. Here, look.”
The Flight Lieutenant spoke quickly, which made it seem like she was trying to smooth over the conversation. She released a small amount of magic energy, and then small, round, white ears and a fluffy, furball-like tail appeared.
To put it frankly, it was cute.
I felt guilty that my question caused the Flight Lieutenant to give it her all, so I also called forth my familiar: a Fuso rabbit. Large, pointed ears and a round tail appeared.
“The tails...are the same aren’t they?”
I thought I had just said something foolish, but the Flight Lieutenant blinked at me in surprise. She then gave an elegant giggle and said, “They are, aren’t they? They tails are the same.”
We continued around the rooms like the dining room and the kitchen; and the last stop was the area designated as the witches’ quarters, which is where I bid farewell to the Flight Lieutenant. It was a tasteless stone room. There were hardly any furnishings: a simple bed, a closet (I wonder where it was from), and an asymmetrical decorative table with some writing implements. At least there was a clock on the wall. I let out a sigh, and then sat down on the bed with a hard mattress. They say that simplicity is a virtue, but still...
I let out another sigh.
Thinking about it again, I laid out my things on the bed. Most of them were books and clothes from Fuso. I don't think I'll ever get used to living abroad, but these things remind me of my homeland. They give me a lot of emotional support. Come to think of it, when was the last time I slept in a futon on a tatami mat? Although I was thinking about things like that, I waited for dinnertime when I would get the chance to meet everyone.
Tired from all the walking I had done, I had dozed off, but then I heard a knock at my door. I panicked that I might have overslept, but when I looked at the clock, there were still two hours left until dinnertime. I felt relieved that I wasn't going to be late, but I was also wondering just what could be the matter. I was about to answer when none other than Commander Rall entered my room. My things were still spread out on top of the bed. Oh, no.
“I’m sorry. Relax. You can just stay like that.”
Taking up her offer, I rested my hips back onto the bed. I wondered what she was doing at the desk set. She pulled up the strangely-decorated chair and sat face-to-face with me, then she slowly said,
“I’m sorry for barging in, but Pilot Officer Shimohara, are you good at cooking?”
Ten minutes later, I was wearing an apron and standing in the kitchen of the base. That was the gist of it.
A Joint Fighter Wing is said to be a unit of international cooperation. For the sake of deepening their friendships, the witches periodically prepare traditional meals from their own countries for everyone to eat. I'd certainly prepare some Fusoan meals. The Commander asked so I couldn't refuse. Not only that, but I loved to cook, so I had no reason to turn her down. The problem would be with ingredients like miso and soy sauce, which are important ingredients in Fusoan cuisine.
“Does Pilot Officer Kanno not cook?”
“Kanno is an expert at eating. I didn’t think about it earlier, but Kanno cooking, huh? That would be a big gamble.”
I let out a sigh.
And so, I began to work on everyone's first taste of Fusoan cuisine. I heard that the miso and soy sauce were in the refrigerator, so there should be no problem there. Just to be sure, I tasted a bit of both. Right, no problems. As expected of the preserved foods that Fuso is so proud of. Today's menu will be the Fuso Navy's standard nikujaga (meat and potato stew) and miso soup. Just as I had thought, there was no tofu or wakame (edible brown seaweed), but I could use the potatoes and onions for the miso soup.
From what I saw during my tour, this wasn't the large cafeteria that would be used by a majority of the people at the base. It was a kitchen that was compact, built similar to a normal house kitchen. It would seem that this kitchen was for the witches’ use only.
I had just started preparing dinner when Pilot Officer Lemare entered.
Her voice sounded like she was about to vanish.
“What is it, Pilot Officer Lemare?”
She replied in a sort of surprised scream. Perhaps I said something I shouldn't have...
In any case, I have to introduce myself.
“I am Pilot Officer Shimohara Sadako of the Fuso Navy, and starting today, I have been assigned to the 502nd.”
“Georgette Lemare. Free Gallian Air Force Pilot Officer.”
With a look of acceptance on her face, Pilot Officer Lemare held out her hand. When I grasped her hand in return, I noticed that it was very warm. It was a fine hand that was soft to the touch and felt nice.
“I’m sorry. I seem to have startled you.”
“Oh, not at all.”
“Pilot Officer Lemare, is there something that you need to do in the kitchen?”
“Well, I was just thinking that maybe I could help you with getting ready for today’s dinner or something like that. And also, you can call me ‘Georgette’...no, ‘Jose’ is fine.”
(TL Note: Why Fumikane spells it “Georgette” when it sounds like “Josette”, I'll never know. But “Jose” should sound like “jo-zeh”.
Reader note: think of it like she's saying it with a French accent.)
“Are you sure? That would really be a big help! I might have said something without thinking it through, but I’m not sure where the tableware and cookware might be...”
“Ah, right. That would be here...This is the cupboard where you can find those things.”
Pilot Officer Lemare was working comfortably as if she were in her own home. It was like she was in her own element, which was a drastic change from how she was during the Striker recovery earlier today.
“Do you like to cook?” I asked suddenly.
“Then you can make Gallian cuisine? That’s amazing.”
“Oh, no...All I know comes from just helping my mother. It’s just countryside home cooking.”
That is what she said, but the way Pilot Officer Lemare prepared the vegetables was beautiful. And just like that, the preparations for the vegetables were finished and I added the flavoring. Mm-hmm.
“Would you like to give it a taste?” I asked. Pilot Officer Lemare's face lit up. Perhaps she was waiting for me to ask her.
Her smile expressed that I had gotten a perfect score. I was happy. And also, she was cute.
And after that, Pilot Officer Lemare and I discussed ways to prepare and serve all different kinds of food. The Pilot Officer's childhood home was an inn, so she had helped with cooking and cleaning ever since she was a child. In my case, I owe my cooking skill to my time in Libau. I wanted all of my seniors to like me, and things of that nature.
We did too well and finished long before dinnertime, so we had a lot of time to talk about our personal histories. During that time the atmosphere felt like we were able to speak completely from the heart with each other. With that said, the Pilot Officer is cute when she laughs.
There was still some time left until dinnertime. Pilot Officer Lemare asked if I could let her handle setting the table, so I kindly accepted. I opened a door in the kitchen, and it led right into the dining room, so I took a peek.
The room appeared to be decorated simply and created a family-oriented atmosphere. I wondered if those were Pilot Officer Lemare's tastes. The rectangular table could seat ten people, and it was draped with a spotless tablecloth. There was also a bookstand with a few magazines and newspapers.
Flight Sergeant Nipa and Pilot Officer Kanno were already seated at the table. Although they were sitting side-by-side, they weren't exactly sitting close to one another. It didn't seem like the incident about the Striker damage was a large matter. Compared to the time when they returned to the base, it looked like a relaxed atmosphere. The two didn't seem to notice me standing next to the door to the dining room. They were looking back on the battle that took place that day.
“I’m worn out,” said Pilot Officer Kanno, except she didn't look worn out. She was reclining with her arms crossed, just as they had been all the other times I had seen her. The threatening aura around her that could keep others away seemed to have disappeared.
“I’m so glad that she didn’t get angry,” said Flight Sergeant Nipa, and she sounded like she really meant it from the heart.
“Well, even the guys up top can’t complain when we take out 20 Neuroi, right?”
“That’s true, but I feel sorry for breaking the Strikers.”
“I think that if you worry about things like that, you won’t be able to fight.”
“Haah...Suomus is a lot different than Fuso. When it comes to people and equipment, there isn’t a lot to go around. If only I could be like Illu...”
Pilot Officer Kanno appeared to reflect on the Flight Sergeant's words when she heard them.
And right at that moment, Flying Officer Krupinski slid into the room.
“Oh! It looks like today’s heroines are all here.”
She forcefully squeezed herself into the space between where Flight Sergeant Nipa and Pilot Officer Kanno were sitting. The space looked only wide enough for half of a person, and while Pilot Officer Kanno's face clearly looked like she was annoyed, the Flying Officer didn't seem to pay it any mind. She settled into place and elegantly crossed her long legs as if she had been sitting there from the start.
“So Nipa took down four medium and small units, and Nao took down one large unit. You’ll surely get some sort of awards for that.”
“But it was thanks to your help, Flying Officer.”
When Flight Sergeant Nipa said this, Pilot Officer Kanno put on a stern expression.
“I didn’t have any problems by myself.”
(TL Note: Naoe uses “ore” to refer to herself, which is a very masculine form of “I”.)
“That’s what you say, but Kanno, weren’t you dazed after suddenly crashing into that big one? If one of the remaining little ones got to you, it would have been trouble.”
“It’s because it was the biggest one that I had to get rid of it quickly.”
“I’m not trying to start an argument.”
Sitting between them, Flying Officer Krupinski noticed their conversation heating up. She smiled as she looked at one girl then the other.
“And what about you? It’s because you weren’t able to follow me that things ended up like that.”
“I had engine trouble, so I couldn’t help it! And Kanno, you just charged too far ahead without looking behind you!”
“What was that, you?!”
“What was what? Why, you!”
“Hey, stop that at once!”
Flight Sergeant Rossmann had entered the room; and with her teaching wand, she lightly hit the two over their heads. She really looked like a school teacher.
“And you, Countess. Why are you just watching them with a silly look on your face?”
“What’s wrong with them showing a little spirit? Being young is wonderful. Don’t you agree, Miss Rossmann?”
Oh. So she really is a teacher?
(TL Note: Krupinski calls her “sensei”, which is what makes Sadako assume she is a real teacher.)
“Stop trying to make me sound old. There’s still some time left, right? Come with me.”
“Are you asking me out on a date? How daring.”
Flight Sergeant Rossmann began to hit the Flying Officer over the head with her teaching wand. She hit her even harder than when she had hit the other two girls.
“Ow ow ow ow. Miss Rossmann, corporal punishment isn’t good, you know?”
“There’s still some cleaning up left to do after that uproar you started with your emergency landing. Come on.”
“My my. Looks like I have no choice.”
The Flying Officer left the room with Flight Sergeant Rossmann. As they left, I could hear a little bit of their conversation.
“The commander of those two rookies you helped would like to personally thank you at the base in that area.”
“Do be careful on your way back; and next time, try harder.”
It seemed like all of the tension in the room disappeared. Flight Sergeant Nipa and Pilot Officer Kanno had been left behind. They looked at each other and began to laugh in amazement.
“That’s the Flying Officer for you. Let’s not be mad at each other either, okay?” Pilot Officer Kanno said.
Their laughing faces were a bit boyish, and their liveliness made them cute.
Dinnertime went on without any problems. Sitting along one of the long sides of the table were Flying Officer Krupinski, Pilot Officer Kanno, and Flight Sergeant Nipa. Flight Sergeant Rossmann, Pilot Officer Lemare, and I sat along the other side. Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin sat at one of the short ends of the table, and Commander Rall sat at the other.
It started with an address from Commander Rall.
“Ladies, today Pilot Officer Shimohara has been assigned to be a member of the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing. Our mission is of great importance. As you can see, our base is about as good as a hotel, but with the cooperation of the surrounding military units, we have to make our advances over the Neuroi in air supremacy. If that’s what we want, then there may be times where we’ll have to spend our days in run-down frontline bases. Ladies, your hard-fought battles are proof that the likelihood of humanity’s survival is growing. Everyone, please work well together, and I want you all to fight hard.”
Her words were rather ornate, but they definitely sounded like we should expect fierce battles from now on. Upon hearing them, I could see everyone's facial expression become tense.
“Well then. That’s enough of the formal talk. Today, I have asked our newly-assigned Pilot Officer Shimohara to make a Fusoan meal for us.”
Everyone's eyes turned towards me. Upon hearing the words “Fusoan meal”, the one who had the biggest reaction was Pilot Officer Kanno. She was looking at me as if she was wondering, “Is it really going to be Fusoan food? I can trust her, right?”
“Today’s menu will be like a meal that they serve in the Fuso Navy: nikujaga and home-made miso soup.” As I gave the explanation, Pilot Officer Lemare swiftly set the table.
I was worried about if they were going to like it or not. I would feel relieved if they could all enjoy it. Pilot Officer Kanno seemed like the biggest food critic; so when the food was served, I carefully observed her. She slowly began to eat. First one bite, and then another. Then she suddenly increased her pace and finished.
While Pilot Officer Lemare was serving a second helping of nikujaga, Pilot Officer Kanno looked at me and gave a small nod. I guess she was giving me her approval.
I wonder what Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin and Flight Sergeant Rossmann thought about me having to cook. They wanted to know about the recipes in detail, but without the proper ingredients from Fuso, I wouldn't be able to make anything anyway. When I explained this to them, Commander Rall made arrangements to accommodate the supply of these ingredients.
In the peaceful atmosphere, I was able to hear things that I didn't know about everyone. The reason why Flight Sergeant Rossmann was called a “teacher” is because she is a veteran Flight Sergeant who excelled at training new recruits. Her track record in the military is long, and despite her rank, the Commander and Flight Lieutenant seem to have placed their trust in her. This unit was planned to be comprised of mostly new recruits who showed promise. For that reason, Flight Sergeant Rossmann was assigned to be in charge of training them. Even now, they are apparently still in the process of selecting new members.
There were also a few little surprises. For example, the Flight Sergeant ended up being older than me after all; and Pilot Officer Kanno had asked the slender Pilot Officer Lemare for yet another helping of food.
After Pilot Officer Lemare and I had finished tidying up the tableware, we went our separate ways in the hallway. As I approached my room, I saw Pilot Officer Kanno standing in front of the door.
“You can call me Shimohara.”
“In that case, you can call me Kanno.”
“What is it, Miss Kanno?”
“The food was delicious.”
Her speaking style was very blunt, but I knew that she was serious about what she said. A feeling of happiness slowly welled up inside of me. Was she waiting here all this time just to say that?
“Thank you very much. I gave it my best. Although it would be nice if we could get some rice for later.”
“I know, right?!”
I was startled by her quick response.
“It’s only natural for people from Fuso to eat mainly rice, don’t you think?”
“Right. I mentioned needing some rice to the Commander, so we might be getting some soon.”
“When that time comes, please make some food, Shimohara.”
“It would be my pleasure.”
When I saw Pilot Officer Kanno's carefree smile, I began to feel fuzzy again. Honestly, what's with me?
“Oh, that’s right.”
“Please wait here for a bit.”
I returned to my room; and among my things that were still spread about on top of the bed, I picked up a small bottle. Inside of it was konpeito (a sort of small sugar candy that originated in Portugal).
“What do you say we have a little snack?”
Then she showed me the best smile of the day. I had heard that Pilot Officer Kanno was difficult to get along with, but she actually was very cute.
Around that time, a conversation like this could be heard outside of my room.
“I can’t believe it. Nao became like that so quickly.”
“I guess you could say that the power of food is strong.”
“Flight Lieutenant, it sounds like you want to hand-feed Nao yourself.”
“...That’s not what I meant!”
“Ha ha. It’s just a joke. But really, I think I get it now. An effective way to deepen a friendship with Nao is through sweets.”
“You dummy. You’re thinking about weird things again, aren’t you?”
“Deepening a friendship isn’t allowed?”
“I don’t think the things you call ‘friendships’ just stop at being cute. Just like all the other times.”
“You’re bringing up something like that right here? Miss Flight Lieutenant, you’re not worried are you?”
“No. Ah...Don’t mind me...”
Miss Kanno and I talked about our memories of Fuso for a while. We got excited talking about things like a person we were both acquainted with and the cultures of Fuso and Europe, including the differences in food. One of my old colleagues from Libau, who I had long since parted ways with, had actually visited this base. Thinking about that made me feel a bit uneasy, but I wonder if Miss Kanno thought the same way.
Our conversation naturally moved on to talk about our families. I came from a family of scholars. My father studied things like Fusoan literary history. I thought that what I was saying might be boring, but surprisingly, it looked like Miss Kanno was enjoying herself.
“In that one, the main character is an indecisive womanizer right? That’s no good at all,” she'd say. She was very direct in stating her opinions, but she also carefully restrained herself about parts that were too difficult to understand. I could sense that a part of her loved to read. It was surprising, and I felt sorry for being surprised.
On the other end, the topics that Miss Kanno talked about often brought up her older sister.
“Is your older sister also a witch?”
“No no. But she’s great at all kinds of things, like cooking and sewing. She’s totally different from me.”
It wasn't my intention, but she continued to charmingly boast about her older sister.
“You really love your older sister don’t you?”
Miss Kanno then looked like she got a little flustered, and she gave a small nod.
“I think your older sister really loves you too, Miss Kanno.”
“...You really think so?”
Miss Kanno looked like she was in deep thought, then she left my room with just a short, “Gonna sleep.”
I thought it was about time for me to go to bed as well, so I began to tidy up the things on my bed. While I was moving everything around, I realized that I had left my notebook in the kitchen. In it were Fusoan recipes that I had looked up and written down. It wasn't an amazing item, but I wouldn't feel at ease if I didn't have it with me. In order to get it back, I started my trip down the hallway.
Even though I was using protective magic, the winters in Orussia certainly aren't like the ones in Fuso. It was freezing. I walked through the dim corridor and slowly opened the door to the kitchen. This was going to be a problem: I didn't know where the light switch was.
From the way the room was made, the light from the corridor couldn't shine in, so the kitchen was pitch-black. If I'd at least had a candle, I could have used my night vision. I did remember the basic layout of the room, so I would probably be fine with just feeling my way through the dark since I had no other choice. That's what I thought, so I carefully stepped into the room.
The cupboard should be around here...Ah ha. Around here should be the sink... There it is. Then in that case, my notebook should be right around here. Relying on my memory, I stretched out my right hand. As I reached down, I felt something soft and silky.
“Huh? What was that just now?” I immediately thought to myself.
“Hya...! Wawaaa!” someone screamed.
In my surprise, I stepped back, stupidly tripped over something, and fell. Ouch...
Not knowing what was going on, I was in a bit of a panic. Then suddenly, the room lit up. I looked around the room, and there next to the light switch stood Pilot Officer Lemare.
We looked at each other in astonishment, then suddenly,
“Oh no, Miss Shimohara!” the Pilot Officer yelled as she rushed over to me.
I realized that I had gotten a scratch from my fall. It was bleeding, but it looked worse than it really was. The Pilot Officer held her hands over it, and shortly afterward, cat ears with long, soft fur sprouted from her head. From this, I expected that she was going to use healing magic on me.
“It’s not really that bad. It will heal fine even if you leave it alone.”
“I won’t leave it alone. Oh, it’s all my fault...”
Pilot Officer Lemare looked truly apologetic. It wasn't long before the wound was completely healed without a trace. Magic in general is miraculous, but healing magic really is the most miraculous of all.
Once things had settled down, one question came to my mind:
“Miss Jose, what were you doing in the kitchen?”
“Huh...? Um, I was...What about you, Miss Shimohara?”
It sounded like she was looking for help. To answer her vague question, I told her about my situation.
“So that’s what you were doing...”
Pilot Officer Lemare dejectedly dropped her shoulders. Not long after that, the Pilot Officer's stomach let out a cute growl. Ah, so that's what she was doing in here. When I was in Libau, my seniors would sometimes ask me to make some late-night snacks, so I didn't think something like that was unusual. However, for Pilot Officer Lemare and her reserved personality, it seemed like a very serious matter.
With a look of acceptance on her face, Pilot Officer Lemare slowly said,
“When I use my magic...I get very hungry...”
“You sortied today, didn’t you? It’s completely understandable.”
“Bu...but, it’s strange. I’m the only one.”
I didn't think she would get that embarrassed. The Pilot Officer's face then became flushed. Wait...if it's this red, then...
“Miss Jose, you have a bad fever!”
“Oh...please don’t mind it. Whenever I use my magic, I end up like this. It’s how my body works.”
“Then doesn’t that mean that it’s my fault?”
“Please don’t worry...I get a bit warm, but it’s not an illness. The effects subside quickly.”
I let out a sigh. Thank goodness.
“Don’t let anyone...”
“Don’t let anyone...know about this, please.”
She had her head down and looked up at me. Her eyes looked like they were watery from a fever. The words of her request sounded like she was about to vanish. As for me...
“Miss Shimohara...? Hya...”
I gave Pilot Officer Lemare a big hug. Ah! For my first day at the base, I really did it...
Whenever I see something cute, it's hard for me not to do something like this. The hair tied up on the sides of her head gently brushed against my cheeks. What a lovely scent.
“It’s okay. It’ll be our secret...”
She felt so warm when I hugged her. It felt nice. This temperature is the result of the Pilot Officer's kindness in using her healing magic. What am I thinking?
Standing frozen in the doorway was Flight Lieutenant Pokryshkin with a stunned look on her face.
“Miss Jose...Miss Shimohara...”
And then from behind her, I heard Flying Officer Krupinski and Flight Sergeant Nipa.
“I think we might be intruding on something here.”
Surely my fall must’ve caused some loud sounds, and then having the lights on in the kitchen at this hour probably isn't natural. If I think about it, those are all obvious things, but right now, I don't have the time to be doing that.
“Ah, no. This...isn’t what you think!”
“She says it’s not what we think...is it, Flight Lieutenant? What do you think about two girls hugging each other? Well, they’re not anymore but...”
“...! Don’t act like that with me, Flying Officer!”
“You didn’t just stop at Nao, but you even managed to make Jose surrender your first day. I think I’m losing confidence in myself.”
“They...what do they call this again? Um...something like ‘public morality’...”
In the end, everyone found out about the “secret” between Pilot Officer Lemare and myself.