Chapter 1 - Dark Clouds Over Suomus
Note: The dashes indicate missing sentences. Only a couple of them I couldn't translate at all, so most of them should end up here soon.
Note 2: Lines encapsulated by square brackets have been added by a novice translator filling in the missing sentences, and should be double checked.
“Everybody! Liiiine up!”
F/O Elma's voice echoed throughout the bitter chill of Suomus.
Her light blonde hair ruffled gently in the cold wind as she looked to the front, courage welling up inside of her.
Lined up in front of her were all the members of the Independent Volunteer Squadron.
Standing furthest to the right was a girl of small build from Karlsland – Sgt Ursula Hartmann. She was gripping tightly onto a large tube with both hands.
Concealed inside the tube she was holding were homemade air-to-air rockets.
Next to her was P/O Katharine O’Hare of the Liberion Naval Aviation force, her fair hair glistening. The winter uniform she was wearing highlighted her bountiful chest area.
On her legs shone the glamorous Brewster Buffalo Striker Unit – it suited her body shape well.
Following on from P/O Katharine stood grey-eyed P/O Beurling - the misanthropic beauty.
Her eyes were fixated on F/O Elma – her gaze lacking any interest. It wasn't as if she had a particular reason to be so unwilling... she just had a naturally miserable face.
Only one girl among them stood nervous before a sortie.
She was Sgt Sakomizu Haruka – adorable with her bobbed hairstyle.
She was staring lustily at the beautiful girl with gorgeous black hair standing next to her. The dignified looking girl stood a good two heads taller than Haruka, her body wrapped in a Miko uniform.
Following ancient tradition, she held a beautifully crafted katana. She thrust it into the ground with both hands - and then immediately looked to her front.
She was none other than Pilot Officer Anabuki Tomoko.
Her long black hair swayed softly in the bitter wind - leaving behind a trail as fine as silk. Her eyes were perfectly slanted. Her pupils held a look of deep resolve – glistening like black gemstones set against her pale white skin.
Stood upright in the ground was her Fuso-made katana – giving off an aura of dignity.
On her legs she equipped the Ki-27 Striker Unit. Haruka had been staring intently at Tomoko's figure, so fine in its execution that it was almost like a work of art – since they lined up.
“… Sergeant Haruka. What are you doing?”
Tomoko kept her eyes front as she asked Haruka, her lips pursed ever so slightly.
“I’m trying to grab hold of, and fondle your buttocks with my right hand.”
As she spoke, Haruka put her hand to her mouth as if she'd said something she shouldn't have.
“Pilot Officer Tomoko, ma’am. I am reporting that I am trying to grab hold of, and fondle your buttocks with my right hand.”
“Just speaking like you’re in the military isn’t enough – how about you act like it for once?”
Tomoko brushed Haruka's hand away – her body trembling as she did so. In response, Haruka shot Tomoko a dirty look.
“P/O Tomoko is a liar.”
“Didn’t you say you’d sleep with me if I put the glasses on? And yet, you switched places with F/L Ahonen and I was engaged in a despicable act. You don't catch commissioned officers of Fuso's Imperial Army doing things like that and lying now, do you?”
["Tha, That's because... it was also convenient..."]
I'd sleep with Haruka. '
If I hadn’t said that, there would have been no way we could’ve taken down that Diomedia.
I can’t do anything about it.
Well of course, there’s nothing to feel uneasy about in saying that I’d sleep with her in the first place.
After all, Tomoko was straight.
Subsequently, under the simple guise of keeping to her promise, Tomoko had switched placed with F/L Ahonen in the darkened bed. That was seemingly the sole reason for Haruka holding a suitable grudge against her.
Feeling she had the legitimate right to do so, Haruka began to fondle Tomoko's body.
“That doesn’t mean a thing. A promise is a promise.”
P/O Elma and the members of the Independent Volunteer Squadron that she commanded stared at the exchange between the pair – completely dumbfounded.
“If you’re gonna flirt, get a room!”
“We’re not flirting!” Tomoko shouted, balling her hand into a fist. Haruka snuggled up to her closely.
“This is a sign of divine love. To call it something like ‘flirting’, why, that's dishonourable.”
“It’s not a sign of anything!”
Beurling pointed helplessly to the front. The two followed her gesture, looking forwards. They stood confused as to why F/O Elma had become so tearful.
“Um…that is…um, this is a little hard to say but, from now, we’re meant to be going on a sortie…”
“Y-yes! Understood. Squadron commander, ma’am.”
Tomoko gave a stiff salute. F/O Elma was the pitiful, cowardly squadron commander.
That very squadron commander had been in the middle of giving the pre-sortie briefing.
Now wasn't the time to be mucking around.
“I-it’s alright if you don’t listen to my orders but, I mean, P/O Tomoko is an ace and all, sniff, but for the time being I’m the squadron commander…. Hic, sniff”At long last, F/O Elma began to cry.
“Ah, ah, ah, F/O Elma started crying!”
“Tomoko, don’t make the squadron commander cry.” Beurling said in a cold voice.
“I’m the one who wants to cry.” Tomoko muttered in a sorry tone.
“I want to cry too… P/O Tomoko really is stubborn…”The siren echoed throughout their otherwise peaceful exchange.
F/L Häkkinen’s bellowing voice gushed out of the speaker.
“How long are you going to keep standing around for!? The 1st Squadron are already well on their way to intercepting the enemy!”
Today, the usual sobriety in Häkkinen's always-calm voice was cracking.
The Independent Volunteer Squadron, led by Flying Officer Elma – danced along the runway.
With their magic engines painting a faint trail of light behind them, the witches flew into the vast sky.
Tomoko revved the engine at full throttle.
She felt light as the Ki-27 advanced ahead of formation.
As her wingman, Haruka followed on behind.
They were putting into practice the ‘lotte’ formation that they had used during their first training session. P/O Tomoko was paired with Sgt Haruka, P/O Beurling with P/O Katharine and finally F/O Elma with Sgt Ursula.
“Today’s enemy is a little different from the usual.”F/L Häkkinen’s voice could be heard through their wireless earpieces.
“Um… when you say they’re a little different um, what exactly do you mean?”
“Is it that Diomedia again?” Beurling asked.
The atmosphere amongst the squad members was that of relief.
“It’s nothing but a Laros formation of 30 units, unaccompanied by bombing armaments.” F/L Häkkinen spoke with voice so cold, it was as if it had ripped that relieved atmosphere to shreds.
“If that's it then it’ll be a breeze! I mean gee, we’ve got Tomoko on our side. We’re practically invincible against that kinda Neuroi!”
“It isn’t merely the Laros.”Häkkinen responded in disagreement.
The Independent Volunteer Squadron was moving at high speed along the border, with an altitude of 6,000 metres. After fifteen minutes, they began to see small black spots drop out of the gaps in the clouds bit-by-bit.
That was the battlefield.
It was from that point that Tomoko realised that the Neuroi's behaviour was indeed a little different. If it were an average Laros formation, then it wouldn't be lingering around at such a high altitude.
[1st squadron had approached from high altitude planning to use the sun and the clouds for cover, probably to chase off the Laros while diving from above.]
[Today however, 1st squadron and the Laros formation had both become mixed, and a large dogfight seemed to be unfolding.] “It looks like F/L Ahonen is struggling.” Tomoko murmured. Even if F/L Ahonen led her squad more like it was some sort of harem as opposed to an actual squad; she was highly skilled. It was largely thanks to the excellent leadership and great success of the 1st Squadron that Kauhava Air Base had been so well protected against Neuroi bombing raids up until now. Even with growing military success thanks to the likes of Beurling and Tomoko – The Independent Volunteer Squadron still had a long way to go until their squad-wide achievements could match that of the 1stSquadron. The successful, skilled 1st Squadron; who were currently struggling. Tomoko felt a single bead of cold sweat trickle from her hairline. It ran along her cheek and down past her jaw. In the instant that it dripped off her face and separated from her magic field – it froze. “Fuso Number One to Suomus Number One: I’m going on ahead.” “P/O Tomoko, please be careful! Somehow I’ve got a really bad feeling about this.”As Tomoko nodded in agreement, she told Haruka the following: “Sgt Haruka, whatever you do, don’t get separated from me. I’m not expecting you to take down the enemy – just stay focused on keeping me in your sights and nothing else.” “Yes ma’am! You can bet that I’ll do my utmost best to protect P/O Tomoko!” Haruka said heartily. Even though they were dependable words, it was hard to put any faith in them. [Haruka was completely out of her element in a dogfight with the melee neuroi that accompany the straight flying bombers.] The A6M3 was a decent Striker Unit, but it was Haruka who was the problem – being amateurish and having a lack of experience. She could forget about protecting Tomoko – for Tomoko was the one who had to do twice as much work, having to supporting Haruka and engage in aerial combat simultaneously. It was a difficult job. Even so, she couldn't just tell Haruka to lie idle behind her. That was because countless times before, in both training and real battle – Tomoko had to provide the squadron with the strength to fight. Throughout the battle with the Diomedia, Tomoko's driving motivation had been raising the overall military success of the entire squad – not just adding to her own achievements. The enemy was drawing closer. [She was feeling impatient] Tomoko turned her gaze towards one of the members of 1st squadron, who was being pursued by two Laros. Appearance wise, they seemed no different from the usual Laros. Their silhouette was like that of a squat fly. Short winds extended from both sides of the body. In a movement as delicate as linking as single piece of thread, Tomoko slipped behind the two Laros. “They really aren’t the usual Laros.” She equipped her 7.7 mm machinegun, setting her sights on one of them. It was in the middle of pursuing that member of the 1st squadron and therefore wouldn't notice Tomoko... or so she thought. “!”Tomoko let out a silent groan. The Laros she had aimed at began to swivel right around to face her. “Pretty impressive.” If they were anything like the Neuroi they’d fought before, Tomoko would have easily been able to start shooting at them from behind, and they wouldn't have had a clue... Tomoko deftly came around the rear of the Laros that had just pulled evasive maneuvers. However, it began to roll from side to side – making it difficult to get a good shot in. “To think that all they used to do was fly…” The Ki-27 was a first rate-fighting machine. Tomoko gave chase of the escaping Laros as if her life depended on it. Somehow she managed to fix her crosshair on the bulk, squeezing down on the trigger. [Just like before, it's behaviour was such that Tomoko was unable to aim at the engine or control surfaces.] The 7.7 mm rounds sunk into its squat body. Even if I can’t blow it’s weak spot clean off, hopefully it’ll go down just from being riddled with bullets… However, the bullets just scattered across the surface with a spark! “Defensive armour!? On a body this small!?”Tomoko's expression twisted into a mixture of frustration and shock as she carefully unsheathed her beloved katana from her waist. If the machinegun has no effect, then I’ll have to cut it down with the Bizen Osafune. Tomoko revved up her magic engine to full throttle, furiously drawing closer to the Laros that she'd lost sight of. In the instant that she raised her katana in position to bisect the wings... the enemy reversed – and did a nosedive! “Ugh!” As soon as Tomoko dipped down to chase after it, the Ki-27 let out a deep roar. For all its merits and finesse in movement, the Ki-27 couldn't maintain pursuit of the descending Neuroi. Tomoko chewed her lip out of aggravation, and then she suddenly heard Haruka yelling over the wireless: “P/O Anabuki! I’m being followed!” She swiveled around instantaneously, only to see that three Laros were in hot pursuit of Haruka! “Haruka! Turn hard!” Haruka turned her body 90 degrees, forcing herself into a sideways turn. For the duration of her movement, the Laros formation's kept its line of fire on the space that Haruka had now vacated. One of them turned its attention towards Haruka, with the other two going after Tomoko. Tomoko did a second loop-the-loop – bringing herself up behind the two Laros. She finally sliced through the wings of the Laros she had been after – letting the remaining one slip away in the process. I’m on a roll, so now’s my chance to make a daring attack. If things get bad I’ll have no choice but to withdraw. “… It clearly seems like today’s enemy doesn’t want to give me a hand-to-hand fight.” If you don't show that sort of resolve to your partner during a dogfight, you’ll lose. The Laros was hot on her tail, and even though her life depending on going in the opposite direction; her beloved machine, the world's finest fighting machine the Ki-27 – was failing to live up to its reputation. “P/O Tomoko! P/O Tomoko! I can’t shake off the enemy! Kyaa! Kyaa!” As she looked, two Laros were chasing Haruka around. One of them was the Laros that she had just let slip. As soon as she'd shaken it off, it had moved onto the counter offensive. Tomoko was trembling with trepidation. They weren’t kidding when they said today’s enemy was different! They won’t engage in hand-to-hand combat, but they sure are skilled at aerial combat! “P/O Beurling! Behind! Behind!!” “I know!” “Sgt Ursula! Pleeease help me! I’m being chaaased! Kya! Bullets! They’re shooting at me!” The squeals of the entire squadron could be heard; mixed together over the wireless. “We can’t carry on like this; everyone, retreat from battle! I’ll provide covering fire!” Tomoko cried out, rushing over to deal with the Laros that was pestering Haruka. During the 1st Squadron and the Independent Volunteer Squadron's desperate struggle against the Laros near the border... Back at Kauhava Air Base, a different kind of danger was unfolding. The first person to notice that danger was a soldier performing sentry duties in the watchtower. “A black spot just dropped from the clouds! It’s huge! 3, 4… 10! Whoa! There are more than thirty! What is that… looks like a Kefalas!?” The base siren rang out. [In the announcement room, F/L Hakkinen's expression was gracefully strained.] From the window the Kefalas formation could be seen fast approaching. The base defense squad had started firing with anti-aircraft artillery but... the Kefalas paid the barrage no heed and continued onwards. They received an urgent report from the watchtower: “It’s not just the Kefalas! There’s a Laros formation too!” The Laros began to drop out of a cloud so thick it looked as it if would burst – and started machine-gun fire. At the same time, they dropped small bombs one after another. And one by one, the anti-aircraft artillery were silenced by the Laros’ assault. “…. I suppose this means that the Laros formation from before was a decoy.” F/L Häkkinen murmured, her voice shaking with rage. The 1st Squadron and the Independent Volunteer Squadron had already left to intercept the enemy near the border. Right now, there wasn't a single mechanised air infantryman left at the base. They deployed a fighter squadron formation near the border, and subsequently drew all the witches away from the base. Once they’d done that, they deployed a separate squad at a lower altitude to assault the base… “A commendable trick.”Behind her glasses, her intellectual look was muddied with remorse. I had a bad feeling the moment I received the information: ‘Today’s Laros have a different air about them’ from the reconnaissance unit of the 1st squadron. I suppose this is what they mean. It’s unforgivable that we fell for the enemy’s trap. [Until now, they have only ever attacked directly; could the enemy also have steadily picked up how to fight us?] Moreover, is the enemy going all out, I wonder? Maybe all of the battles up until now were diversions to get us to reveal our hand. I’m annoyed at how reckless we are. 'We got ahead of ourselves after we took down that Diomedia… and that egotism is what brought about our negligence today. The Kefalas had arrived above the base – showering it in bombs one after another. 500-pound bombs obliterated the airfield, the mess hall, the hanger and the barracks into tiny little pieces. It seemed like the munitions store to the West had been taken down in a single hit. There was a deafening explosion sound, followed by small shards of glass shattering from the window. F/L Häkkinen immediately threw herself onto the floor – the blast wave roared above her head. As she lifted her head, she saw what an abysmal state the announcement room was in. All around the room, the cries of those injured by the broken glass echoed. F/L Häkkinen grabbed a hold of the overturned receiver. “This is the announcement room! We’ve been hit!” It was no use – the phone was dead. It’s likely that everywhere is disconnected. F/L Häkkinen shook her head, heading towards the injured to offer aid. Suddenly, one of the base's messengers appeared. “T-This is bad! Really bad!” “I know. In an instant this place ended up like some sort of hell.” Häkkinen’s voice returned to its usual sobriety as she tended to the wounded. “That’s not it! A Neuroi ground unit is invading Slussen! The enemies are wrapped up in a miasma – the army can’t even get close! It’s only a matter of time before Slussen falls!” Flight Lieutenant Häkkinen, who had earned the nickname of ‘Snow Woman’, had in an instant – lost front completely. Today was the second time. Slussen is a small town to the back of Kauhava Air Base. During the first time, the town had been victim to an aerial attack carried out by a bomber formation. And now there was news that the town was being taken over by a Neuroi ground unit. All the town has is the army…'The army is helpless against the Neuroi. That’s why the one’s who battled the Neuroi were the mechanised air infantrymen the ‘witches’ – their bodies were protected by their magic field, so they could get close the Neuroi’s miasma. The army was equipped with ordinary weaponry, and could provide no opposition to a bombardment. “… Which means it’s a threefold trap.” From outside the window, F/L Häkkinen observed the widespread damage done to the base. The coldness in her eyes was lost – instead they sparkled with burning fury. Throughout the town of Slussen, the siren echoed. Everywhere, soldiers were trying to direct evacuees. One of the soldiers spoke into a megaphone he was holding in both hands: “Calm down, and please evacuate according to the military’s instructions!” An old woman gripping onto a leather bag with both hands, and with a huge rucksack slung over her back stopped in front of the soldier. “What on earth is the military doing? Ever since the Neuroi started their attack it seems like they’ve done nothing but run away!” Nearby civilians joined in with the old woman's outburst. “Are you saying we’re supposed to leave the town we were born and raised in!?” “We’ve been tossed out of our houses, we’ve got absolutely nothing left, yet you’re telling us what to do!” The young soldier was flustered in the wake of the civilians’ outburst. “It’s just a temporary evacuation! It won’t be long until the military recapture the town!” Then go chase after the attacking Neuroi! The civilians burst into a fit of rage. “You say that, but you can’t even get close! You can think about wanting to help all you like, but the only ones who can get anywhere near the Neuroi’s miasma are the ‘witches!’” The civilians were enraged – what on earth where the witches up to! Just as the soldier had thought of some way to apologise to the civilians, a commissioned officer with the civilian evacuation unit came to set them straight. “If you’ve enough time to complain, then get a move on and evacuate!” The soldier gave a steadfast salute. The officer looked towards the commotion caused by the people of Slussen, and gave a warm smile. “Don’t worry. It’s just that it’s important that we have time to prepare. This is merely a measure to prevent any unnecessary injuries, so you have absolutely nothing to worry about.” The civilians gave relieved expressions at the words of the important looking officer. Suddenly, a deafening explosion sound reverberated from the now fully evacuated area. The soldier and officer looked over. The bulk of a single brickwork building looked as if it were going to collapse... before falling in on itself. The building that had just collapsed swallowed up the white plaster temple that had been standing next to it, destroying it cleanly. Cracked bricks and bits of debris flew up into the air – and dust began to fall as if from a raincloud. The evacuees and instructing troops stared blankly – words failing them. From the dust appeared a sinister, huge ‘Neuroi’; breaking the silence in an instant. “W-What the hell is that…” Seeing the Neuroi for the first time invoked trepidation in the officer. Its shape largely represented that of the tanks used by the Suomus Army. On top of its box like body was a turret, from which it could shoot large cartridges. The tanks used by the army moved using a track, but the Neuroi was standing up on four legs, which protruded from the four corners of its body. The most surprising thing was the size of its body. It was roughly around four times the size of a standard military tank. The body was around 20 metres wide in all four directions – the legs were each around 10 metres long. It made slow, crab-like movements as it moved closer through the desolate wasteland of destroyed buildings. As the legs moved with a sching! Across the ground, it began to shake as if there were an earthquake. The size wasn't the only thing that was surprising - from around the tank spewed a deep black plume of smoke. It was the miasma. Man's enemy, the Neuroi, used the miasma as a sinister means of exerting control – normal humans couldn't get anywhere near it. The appearance of the humongous Neuroi tank sent everyone in a wild panic. They refused to listen to the instructions of the troops, and it was every man for himself as they began to flee. “Please calm down and listen to our instructions!” The officer gave the soldier who spoke a rough pat on the shoulder. “Everything will be fine! I’ll try my best to get the civilians to listen to my instructions!” The officer shook his head. “You need to start running too.” “… Eh?” “… That Neuroi’s opponent isn’t a mere soldier like us.” The officer tutted to himself. Where the hell are those witches, and what on earth are they doing?
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