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Nihonkoku Shoukan Chapter 35

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A couple things. First, Minorou split this chapter into two, i.e. “part 3, first half,” “part 3, second half.” Because this miniarc was already split into parts in the first place, I'm just going to call this chapter “part 3” and the next one “part 4.”

Second, it seems my aggregator countermeasures were slightly lacking in the last chapter of MS, so I'll try some more stuff here: once again, no sites have my permission to copy and/or post my translations. If you're paying to read this, or reading on a site with ads, you're being ripped off. You can read for free on my blog: https (colon slash slash) mobofdeer (dot) wordpress (dot) com. Here's a picture too!

I don't solicit donations, and you can use an adblocker to bypa.s.s WordPress's ads, so I hope you'll bear the slight inconvenience of not being able to read everything on a single site in order to stop giving money to sites that are ripping off Minorou, the author, and my translations, which I provide for free.

One last thing, I typically add reference links for both interest and in lieu of providing additional explanations. In the case of interest, I'll only add the link the first time it appears in the story. For explanations, though, I've decided to link again since anyone unfamiliar with a term/acronym will probably have to look it up anyway.

Chapter 35 - The Sunset of a Superpower (3)

(It's so dark… my whole body hurts… What happened to me…?)

Imperial Capital Defense Army magical technician Paie regained consciousness. She was a bit alarmed at how much pain her body was in, but she thought hard, grasping at the threads of her memory. After they had heard those shrill noises, that sounded like flutes, she had been blown off her feet, hitting someone else, then she blacked out. Then she remembered hearing what sounded like the building collapsing. The Imperial Capital Defense Army's base had been attacked by j.a.pan. Much to her misfortune, one of the bombs. .h.i.t the building she was in.

"Light!"

When she looked up, she saw a bit of light s.h.i.+ning down. Her body hurt, but it could also move. She didn't think any bones were broken.

"All right!"

She concentrated, then tried to put some strength into lifting the rubble on top of her. It moved a little!!!

"Someone, help!"

There should still be a lot of people in the base… so if she yelled, someone should come running… however, no one responded.

"……Ah, I see."

They were probably wary of the enemy's second attack and running around frantically, hoping to repel it.

"Ur… gh!!!"

Paie put as much strength as she could into her entire body. There had to be a crack or a hole somewhere that she could use to get outside. With a ripping noise, her clothes rubbed against the bricks, tearing in various places. Once she got out, she'd probably draw looks from everyone and get embarra.s.sed, but her life was paramount.

"Just a bit mo… yes!!!"

She got out! Then she looked around.

"N-No way!"

All she saw was the destroyed wreckage of buildings, the ruins of what once used to be a military base. Nothing else moved aside from her.

"How did… How did this…"

The superpower Papaldia Empire's strongest fortification, with its dominant ground army, its proud land dragons with their unparalleled offensive power, its magic cannon squad capable of suppressing entire countries, its wyvern overlords that ruled the skies… it was all gone, vanished without a trace.

She didn't know what could possibly have done this such a st.u.r.dy, reinforced base. Magical technician Paie could only stand there, shocked silent, as she took in the horrifying scene.

Papaldia Empire, imperial capital Esthirant, Remille's mansion

Remille was lying on her back on the bed in her room, her comforter wrapped over her body. She was remembering what happened earlier.

She had woken up from a horrible dream. That had put her in a bad mood, so, to change things up, she had gone out onto the balcony. The sky was a clear blue, the morning breeze felt a bit chilly against her skin, and little birds were warbling. She took a deep breath… it felt extraordinarily good. When she looked to the south, she saw the Imperial Capital Defense Army's wyvern overlords flying in formation, monitoring the skies over the capital. They looked so powerful, so proud, that she couldn't help thinking how fitting of the Papaldia Empire's, a superpower's, main forces.

"Maybe I was overthinking things…"

Perhaps she allowed herself to be swayed by the words of Mu's amba.s.sador. There were no shortcomings with regards to the wyvern overlord's aerial combat capabilities; they could even defend against Mu's latest weapons. No matter who their enemies were, even if they came from another world, the empire wouldn't be destroyed so easily.

Those were Remille's thoughts as she gazed at those majestic wyvern overlords.

"Hm?"

All of a sudden, the dragon knight formation broke up, each one speeding up and spreading out in a different direction.

"Are they doing some kind of training exercise?"

The dispersed dragons were suddenly engulfed in smoke. After a slight lag came the loud booms.

"Ahhh!!!"

Letting out a rather feminine scream, Remille leaned forward, her eyes glued to the sky. She couldn't tear herself away from the sight of the shredded dragon knight order, pieces falling to the ground like rain.

"Is it j.a.pan?! Is j.a.pan attacking?!"

Sweat poured out of every pore in her body. Then she realized.

(It can't be! Am I… quivering? Me?!)

Her hands, clutching the balcony's banister, were shaking; she looked down and her legs were clearly trembling as well. Then, arrow-shaped somethings flew by at tremendous speed. She had never seen anything move so fast in her life, and the baseless confidence she had built up earlier, the thought that "Our dragon knight order couldn't possibly lose," was smashed into pieces.

Shortly afterwards, the sound from the shockwaves reached her, as well as the sight of arrows of light heading for the military base.

"No, that's the Imperial Capital Defense Army's base!!!"

After the sound of the enormous explosions pa.s.sed, the ground base's highest level alarm began to sound. Remille realized that the imperial capital had just been attacked and intended to make her way to the 1st foreign affairs department, but her legs were shaking so much that she couldn't even move.

HYUUUuuu…

Right then, a piercing noise came from the sky, and j.a.pan's aircraft disappeared into the clouds with a thunderclap. It seemed that more aircraft had joined the offensive.

There were more explosions, then smoke started to surge up from the military base. Another large explosion. There would probably be many casualties. Then…

RRRRRRRRRRRRR…

There was a very low humming noise, and more aircraft with enormous wings appeared… there must have been more than fifty of them, descending on the capital. The aircraft earlier were much smaller, but the bombs they dropped were already this destructive.

"Gh! What am I supposed to do!!!"

Each large aircraft dropped a preposterous number of bombs… It was literally a shower of bombs.

HYUUUuuuHYUUUuuu…

The sound of j.a.pan's bombs dropping out of the sky drummed up fear, then the military base erupted in intense flames. They had probably taken incredible damage. Remille sank down and hugged her knees. She couldn't stop shaking.

She was in a position of responsibility; she had to get to the 1st foreign affairs department as soon as possible. But the j.a.panese army had just dealt out an act of crus.h.i.+ng violence on the empire, and, in truth, she herself had caused it.

(j.a.pan… j.a.pan is furious, they must be looking for me…)

The more that thought revolved in her head, the more stricken with fear she became, and the less she could move. The city was filled with unsettling clamor, and she could hear angry cries from people all over. Remille somehow crawled back to her room and dragged herself into her bed.

"Mistress Remille! Mistress Remille!!!"

Someone banged on the door calling for her, knocking her out of her reverie.

"Mistress Remille!!!"

There's no way she could allow the family maid to see her like this.

"I'm coming!!!"

Remille steeled herself mentally and stood up. Still shaking profusely, she came to stand in front of the door.

"What is it!!!" she asked through the door.

"An urgent request has come for you to contact the first foreign affairs department."

"I understand. I will head out as soon as I've changed!"

She had absolutely no idea what they could do next. Her mind was completely occupied with fear of j.a.pan.

Imperial capital Esthirant, southern port

The cornerstone of the imperial capital's defense was the naval base on the south side of Esthirant. That same base was currently crowded with s.h.i.+ps-of-the-line, which could be considered the navy's main force. The Papaldia Empire imperial navy headquarters were located in this base, and there were many there who would describe the sight of all those s.h.i.+ps-of-the-line arrayed in the water as stunning; there were even some who would find the sight emotional.

Vice-Admiral Balus was in his office looking out the window.

Upon hearing the report that the ground base had been a.s.saulted, he immediately commanded all s.h.i.+ps to set sail. The s.h.i.+ps-of-the-line expedited their preparations as soon as they received the emergency order.

A third of the fleet was already in formation, ready to intercept enemies. Having learned from the previous battles where they tried to lean on their numbers, this time each individual s.h.i.+p was spread out from any other in order to counter long-ranged attacks. Balus and the empire's greatest mind, Matal, were confident in this strategy.

s.h.i.+p after s.h.i.+p left the port, each one of them far stronger, far bigger, and far faster than the average s.h.i.+p in this world. The strongest navy in the Third Civilization, the superpower Papaldia Empire's main fleet, was departing to defend against the probable attack from j.a.pan's navy, and they were prepared to destroy them.

Papaldia Empire, imperial capital Esthirant, southern coast

The sea bustled with s.h.i.+ps as a third of the main force of the Papaldia Empire's imperial navy was spreading out. Each s.h.i.+p was one kilometer away from any other s.h.i.+ps, presenting a gigantic front line. If any enemy s.h.i.+ps pierced that line, they would be a.s.saulted from all sides by several imperial s.h.i.+ps. Even if they had the same quality and quant.i.ty of s.h.i.+ps, they would never be able to defeat every line of s.h.i.+ps. This formation was conceived using the concept of attrition; with their overwhelming number of s.h.i.+ps, even against long-range cannons, the formation would guarantee that their side would be dealing damage to the enemy.

For a Third Civilization country, with the quality and quant.i.ty of s.h.i.+ps that they had, for the superpower Papaldia Empire who had continued to outperform any other country, using this strategy at all was a disgrace. However, their enemy was strong. They could no longer afford to look down on them.

Arkaon, admiral of the 3rd fleet, was on board the Dios, one of only three 150-gun s.h.i.+ps-of-the-line in the empire, looking out to sea. The enemy fleet would probably be coming for the imperial navy's headquarters.

"I have an update," called a communications operator. Because he sounded rather fl.u.s.tered, the other officers all turned to see what he had to say.

"The Imperial Capital Defense Army's ground base has been destroyed by j.a.pan's aircraft. Based on that report, headquarters is commanding us to declare the highest alert to our fleet. They are also dispatching both the first and second fleets from Esthirant port."

"My… My word!"

"This is the first time in history that our entire imperial navy is being deployed."

"But… the imperial capital has been attacked!"

All of the officers on the bridge expressed their astonishment.

"There is an extremely high possibility that j.a.pan's fleet will invade next. Triple the number of scouting wyverns!"

"Yes sir!!!"

Wyverns from the 3rd fleet's dragon carriers flooded the clear blue skies, flapping their wings to catch the wind. It was a powerful, exalting sight. Admiral Arkaon smoldered with animosity at the incoming j.a.panese forces.

The j.a.pan Maritime Self-Defense Force's 2nd and 4th escort flotillas were sailing north. They had located the enemy fleet on radar, they believed they knew the position of their carriers, and, using satellite imagery, they previously identified the enemy's naval base.

"What an amazing number of s.h.i.+ps. They've got an interesting formation, too. I think this'll be the first time in j.a.pan's history for this many modern s.h.i.+ps to be entering real combat," Fleet Commander Uchino mumbled.

The enemy carrier flotilla was located about 120 km northeast of the escort fleet; they were already within anti-s.h.i.+p missile range. The radar showed that a large number of flying objects just flew up into the air from the carrier flotilla.

"All right! Fire anti-s.h.i.+p missiles, target the enemy carrier flotilla!!!"

The missile tubes installed on the s.h.i.+ps were slanted upwards; inside one of the tubes on each s.h.i.+p, solid- fuel was ignited, generating smoke that flowed into the air. The missiles launched with a loud bang. Twenty-five Type 90 s.h.i.+p-to-s.h.i.+p missiles (SSM-1B) accelerated through the air using their first-stage rocket boosters. After achieving sufficient acceleration, the rocket boosters detached and the missiles switched over to turbojet propulsion. At a low-alt.i.tude speed surpa.s.sing 1150 km/h, the missiles made a beeline for the enemy carrier flotilla.

Papaldia Empire, main navy forces, 3rd fleet, the skies about 50 km south of the dragon carrier flotilla

Dragon knight Rakami was riding his wyvern lord on patrol when he felt that something was off about the sea. He concentrated all his nerves into figuring out the discrepancy.

"What the h.e.l.l are those?!"

He then noticed a large number of arrow-shaped objects flying low at extremely high speeds.

"Patrol squad to rear admiral! I've spotted unidentified objects traveling at high speed toward the dragon carrier flotilla! More than twenty of them! Be on alert! I repeat…!"

>

"I can't! They're already past me! They're too fast, pursuit is impossible!"

>

The connection cut out. Rakami veered south to instead try to find the enemy.

UUUUUUU—!!!

The alarm for the highest level alert went off within the dragon carrier flotilla.

"All dragons launch!!!"

Wyvern lords, the empire's air force, flooded into the sky from each dragon carrier, forming into squadrons higher up. The 20 dragon carriers were each transporting 12 knights, so in total there were 240 dragon knights flitting about in the sky, evacuating from the s.h.i.+ps. The dragon knights all faced the direction of the magical communication that called in the report, preparing to shoot their fire blasts. The extremely-fast unknown objects were most likely an offensive action from the j.a.panese navy, so they prepared to intercept it.

"I bet there's never been this many dragons sent to defend against a mysterious attack in all of history," Rear Admiral Bhan muttered while watching the dragon knights take off.

"Probably not. Let's go watch what this enemy can do," responded Amoll confidently. He was the strategist for the dragon carrier flotilla.

"Oh? Looks like they've started."

He could faintly make out the flashes of light from the fire blasts being shot out as numerous commands of "Fire!" came in from the magical communicator. Over 200 knights from the elite dragon knight order were shooting fire blasts; watching from far away, the consecutive bursts of flame sparkled brilliantly like something out of a fairy tale.

Amoll the strategist spread his arms out wide and began delivering a rather pretentious speech.

"Rear Admiral Bhan, feast your eyes on this beautiful sight. The brilliant lights, the devastating firepower being released!!! Hahah, with this battle, we have already surpa.s.sed the limits of man. This is truly a battle of divinities!!! Having taken this many fire blasts, there is no doubt that our unknown, flying a.s.sailants have departed from this realm of existence."

Even more fire blasts were being fired.

"Reporting!!!" a magical technician suddenly yelled. "All of the dragon knight order's fire blasts missed! There was not a single hit!!! The flying objects are still heading for the flotilla, unharmed!!! There are twenty-five of them!!!"

"Wh… What…? That's, that's not possible!!!" Amoll stuttered.

One of the anti-s.h.i.+p missiles that was skimming over the ocean suddenly swerved up and plunged into the s.h.i.+p neighboring the rear admiral's s.h.i.+p, the Abys, at an angle. With a blinding flash… the explosion that consumed the Abys was several times larger than the s.h.i.+p itself. Milliseconds later, the sound of the blast reverberated across the surface of the ocean.

"Hiiiiiiiih!!!" shrieked Amoll, the pitch of his exclamation conveying his terror.

There was nothing left of the Abys; it was like it had evaporated from the sea. Everyone was shocked… no one could say a thing.

"……Dragon carrier Abys, lost," the magical technician whispered hoa.r.s.ely into the communicator.

BAM!!!

The deathly-quiet bridge jumped at the sound of something slamming into a table. Rear Admiral Bhan's fist was now stained with blood.

"Im… Impossible… Those d.a.m.n…! Order all dragon knights on standby in the air to go south! If they find the enemy, all squadrons are to attack as they see fit!!!"

"Yes sir!"

The orders were relayed to the dragon knight order.

"Dragon carrier Gargaon lost! Dragon carrier Sirene lost!!!"

The enemy's a.s.sault continued to sink s.h.i.+p after s.h.i.+p with each and every hit.

"Grah! So this is it."

Rear Admiral Bhan saw the enemy arrow flying towards his s.h.i.+p. The arrow pierced the s.h.i.+p. Bhan departed from this world along with a fierce burst of light.

Papaldia Empire, main navy forces, 3rd fleet, flags.h.i.+p Dios

In the bridge of the flags.h.i.+p Dios, the 3rd fleet's Admiral Arkaon glared out to sea before him. Any minute now, they would engage with j.a.pan's navy. He just had that hunch.

"Reporting!" a magical technician called out.

"What?"

"Our third fleet's dragon carriers were just attacked by unidentified objects and annihilated!!! Two hundred and fifty dragon knights were launched prior to that and have headed south. Their orders are to search for and eliminate any enemies they find."

"Wh… What?!"

"That can't be! The dragon carrier flotilla is even further behind our main forces here! There's no way an attack could reach them!"

Various words of shock rang out across the bridge, the officers expressing their disbelief. Admiral Arkaon raised a hand, silencing the room.

"This means that the enemy has a weapon capable of precise, long-range attacks," he explained firmly. "However, instead of challenging our s.h.i.+ps-of-the-line directly, they aimed for the most important core of our navy, our dragon carriers… That's proof that there is a limit on the number of long-range attacks they can perform. Don't panic."

At Admiral Arkaon's calm a.n.a.lysis, the officers on the bridge, who were on the verge of being overcome with panic, regained their cool.

"Report from the s.h.i.+p-of-the-line Addis!" the magical technician continued. "They've spotted a fleet about forty kilometers ahead! Number of s.h.i.+ps unknown!"

"Hoh, they've found them!!!" Arkaon raised his hand again and made a declaration. "All s.h.i.+ps, battle arrangement one! The dragon knight order is a bit further away, but tell them to attack as well!!! Maintain this fleet formation. Head for the enemy fleet at top speed! We'll attack them in waves from the air and from the sea!!!"

"Yes sir!!!"

The orders were relayed precisely to all other s.h.i.+ps.

"It's a good thing the dragon knights were already in the air… In all of history, no one has ever dealt with a simultaneous aerial and naval attack on this scale before. Can you withstand it, j.a.pan?" Admiral Arkaon asked out loud, his eyes focused on the sea before them.

j.a.pan Maritime Self-Defense Force, 2nd, 4th escort flotillas

The two flotillas cut through the sea. There were twenty s.h.i.+ps in total, all of them already ready for battle, lined up single file and heading for the enemy's large fleet. The guided-missile destroyer Kiris.h.i.+ma was leading from the front, while the guided-missile destroyer As.h.i.+gara took up the rear. In the middle, the helicopter destroyer Ise was the acting flags.h.i.+p and carrying both the JMSDF's helicopters and seven helicopters from the JGSDF (AH-64D Apaches and AH-1S Cobras), which were now taking off from the deck. When the Kirishma and the closest enemy s.h.i.+p were 20 km away from each other, a single order began repeating throughout the fleet.

"Commence attack! In accordance with each s.h.i.+p's range, attack in sequence!"

The 127mm single-mounted rapid-fire gun installed on the front of the Kiris.h.i.+ma began to move. The FCS calculated the enemy s.h.i.+p's relative speed, the flight speed of the sh.e.l.l, trajectory, and predicted the point of impact, then made adjustments to the gun barrel's angle and positioning pointing up into the sky.

"Begin firing main gun!"

A moment later, the gun roared and a sh.e.l.l flew at the the Papaldia Empire imperial navy 3rd fleet s.h.i.+p-of-the-line Addis.

Later on, the world would come to know of the country j.a.pan as simply "powerful," and the naval battle that was about to begin would be memorialized in history books as The Naval Battle of Esthirant.

—  — Chapter 36

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