The battle was on with the sound of a whistle from the Ustians side. The firsts to move were the H.39 and AMC.34 YR tanks, followed by squads of infantrymen. Fortifications on both sides of the battlefield opened fire, suppressed, and did whatever they could to cause as much damage as possible to the opposition. Though it was easy to tell from first glance that the Belkans were losing, badly, when the cannons of the Ustians sang along with the cheers of their soldiers.

Things weren great for the Belkans defenders since they only got two Pak 37mm AT guns and a few handheld AT weapons. Not nearly enough to stem the tide of ten tanks.

As the Ustians barely accomplished 1/4 of their way to the Belkans trench, both forces heard the rumbling sound of aircraft engines. They turned to look up only to show panic when they realized a large aircraft is about to crash in front of them. Especially the Ustians when one of the H.39 noticed they were stuck in the crash zone of the airborne threat. Having no time left to dismount, the tank commander ordered his driver to brace himself for impact.

” Viva la Usti-! ” The crews cries were cut short as the tank took the brunt of an aircraft engine and flipped three times before stopping 20 meters away from its last position. Miraculously, the crew survived albeit they wouldn be fighting any battle soon.

As for the aircraft, after flinging a tank flying, it lost its left wing and skidded along the field, only stopping after passing the hundred meters mark. The battlefield turned silent at such a dramatic entrance until the Bf-109s started their gun run on the Ustians line.

Having regained his spirit with the timely arrival of the 109s, Aleph had his men use almost half of their arsenal of smoke dispensers. With Aleph leading the charge alongside his Mp-28 and a squad of infantries towards the downed Condor. It was but a short distance with smoke covers but to Aleph, it was the longest run he have ever had. By the time he reached the Condor, the Ustians shook off their stupor and suppressed the hell outta smoke clouds. The tanks were slowly cranking their turrets when a whistling sound from high above was heard.

” Artillery! ”

Like the wraths of Gods, a cacophonic of explosions decimated the previous Ustians attack wave. Their infantries got hit the hardest due to the lacking covers with many of them either dead or disabled for the rest of their lives.

And while the 88th were doing Gods work. Aleph managed to pry open the jammed door of the Condor. The sight that greets him shocked him to the core.

” H-Hail! Hail the Princess! ” He hastily performed a proper military salute in the middle of the battlefield. While he knows that the grey hair lass in front of him is only 15 years old, he heard of tales and stories about this young genius of the century. Not to mention her title itself, granting her power second only to the Empress of Belkan.

” Save it for when we get to safety Lieutenant! Help me deal with the wounded here. ” The Princess beckoned so he quickly had his men carry the wounded back to the friendly trenches. He breathed out, in relief, when he saw that the Princess was being escorted by a Valkyrie.

Should anything were to happen to the Princess, don mention him being court-martialed, he would have killed himself in guilt when that happened.

” Please follow us. ”

Luckily the entire group of dozens made it back to allied control territory without further complication. Having fulfilled their task, Rigel squadron RTB for some R&R, readying up for the day after. The Ustians also canceled their attack for the day, having incurred a loss of one H.39, two AMC.34s, and many infantries had crippled their morale for the assault. At the very least, both sides will have a good rest for the night.

—————————————————————————-

” Ha… ha… ha… Made it, ” I said in between labored breaths. ” We actually made it this far. ”

I look at Bryn, she looks at me, and for whatever reason we both laugh. While it draws the eyes of my fellow cadets, we couldn help but laugh out loud. Maybe it was because of the adrenaline of surviving multiple attempts at our lives, all the while piloting a metal coffin in the air, that finally got to us after all this time.

” … That was, exhilarating, to say the least. ” I commented.

” Though not a trip I want to experience again any time soon. ” Bryn returned a wry smile to which I followed with one of my own.

While it was great that we managed to catch a breather, we
e still at risk here. Such was why I turned to the Lieutenant that has been standing stiffly to the side. The guys got balls, Ill give him that.

” Name, rank, and affiliation? ” I questioned.

” Yes, maam. First Lieutenant Aleph Morrick of the 7th Motorized Infantry under Kruger Division, reporting for duty. ” He saluted. Taking a closer look, he is your standard Belkan male with blonde hair and brown eyes. His service uniform had seen better days but that could be said for all of us here.

” Have the injured ones sent to the field hospital while you stay here and give us a full report on the situation here. ”

” Yes maam. ”

The Lieutenant then proceed to instruct his men, while Bryn sorted out the surviving cadets. Of the survivors, only three remained while the rest went to have their wounds taken care of.

Now that I have time to think about it… Couldn Bryn survive all of that on her own? Well, yes. She is a Valkyrie with outstanding magical prowess after all. Though this is a topic for another day.

” Madams and gentlemen, if you please, follow me to our command post. ”

Lieutenant Morrick led the ragtag group to the 7th command bunker. In the map room there, he filled us in on the situation at hand. To which I uttered an audible groan.

” This is even worse than I expected. Though its still salvageable. ”

” Maam? ”

” The comm line issue can be taken care of, we managed to bring two Enigma machines with us from the Condor. ” I then glance at the last three cadets in the map room. ” Shepard, right? Can you three handle the communication line? ”

” You can count on us, Princess. ” A boy replied.

” Good, thats one issue down. And with the Air Force at the standby tomorrow, we should have no issue holding the line and reorganizing our force. ” I crossed my hands, frowning while looking down at the map.

” …Ok. ” Ive decided.

” Lieutenant, congratulation, you
e now being promoted to Captain. I expect much from you during our time here. ”

” Maam? ” Still haven caught up to my pace, the former Lieutenant asked agape.

” I will hereby take direct command of the Kruger Division as the Princess of the Belkan Reich. Due to your outstanding bravery and talents on the battlefield, youve earned yourself said rank of Captain. What? Do you question my decision now? ”

” No, maam no! Hail Princess! ” Finally realizing the grace he has been bestowed, Captain Morrick saluted under the cheers from the staff in the command bunker.

” At ease, this is not the end yet, you know. Should you perform well in the next few actions we
e about to take, I can assure you will reach the rank of Major at the very least. Said opportunity in promotion is also extended to all the people here. What we
e about to do is very risky but can determine the course of our nations path to greatness. I want all hands on board on this and when we succeed, I give you my word that the rewards are worth every single blood, sweat, and tears, you poured for this place. ” I stopped and took in a breath.

” So, are you all with me?! ”

” ” ” YES, MAAM! HAIL PRINCESS! HAIL BELKA! ” ” ” Cries full of spirit rang out of the command post, and soon, it infected all the soldiers in the trenches that they also raised their own battle cries.

The second issue, improvement of morale, done.

” Ok, everyone pays attention. ” I signaled for the place to quiet down, then I conjured an interactive map based on the battle map on the table. While I have limited magic capability in almost all aspects, I could do something as simple as that easily. The staff marvel at the blueish map while Bryn curved her lips upward with a nod.

” We are here, ” I tapped on a spot with a cross symbol on the map, it then enlarged into detailed information of our current combat strength. ” with only the combat effectiveness of slightly above a platoon, its doubtful we can hold out with our limited arsenal. And thats why… ”

—————————————————————————-

It took an entire afternoon to formulate a combat plan and by the time it was done, the sunset had already set. I slumped down on a foldable chair, massaging my temple to alleviate some of the fatigue, which didn work at all. It was a blessing that Captain Morrick found me an unused room in the CP to let me rest, far away from the commotion.

” Exhausted? ” A canteen appeared in front of me, following the snowy white hand holding it, I gazed upon Bryn.

” Thanks,… Bryn. ” Now that we
e alone I have no qualm about calling her by her name.

” It was interesting, hearing you laid out the plans and preparations we have to make for tomorrow. Im impressed by your ingenuity, once again. ”

I took a sip of the refreshingly cool water in the canteen. ” Was this cooled by magic? ”

” Oh? You noticed that? ”

” Its infused with mana, after all, the refrigerator here couldn make water that is this… soothing to ones tired body. ”

” A keen observation, and here I thought you don have that good of an aptitude with magic. ” Bryn showered me with an inquisitive gaze while she sat down lightly on the table. ” Your display of magic earlier was very impressive, innovating, and possibly revolutionizing. Such a simple usage of light magic to create an in-depth map of the battlefield had granted us a new way to infer details of an ongoing battle. Though simple, one needs to have very fine control of their magic power, and extensive knowledge to pull it off. ”

I could easily tell that Bryn left a question unsaid.

” Its true that I don have good talent in offensive or defensive magic. But I guess conjuring is my strong point in return. Making holograms or illusions isn hard for me. ”

” I see. Thank you for satisfying my curiosity. ” Bryn gave me a nod.

” Its no big deal after all. Though I also have a question of my own, if you don mind me asking. ”

” Go ahead. ”

” It eludes me how I never see large-scale attack magics, best Ive ever learned of is a fireteam-scale frost bomb. With which the power is comparable to a handheld grenade as best. Is there a reason why? ”

” Ah, I get what you mean. Though this calls for a history lesson to which we don have the time nor the equipment to properly show you the answer… Instead, I can give you a short answer. Imagine our world is run by a system, a system that never saw a glimpse of magic until 29 years ago. ”

” … Ulysses. ” This piece of lore is very crucial and interesting because it was never widespread knowledge. Not even the piece of media from where I came from included this.

” Thats right, Ulysses, or as I and the rest of the Belkan administration call it, Ragnarok. That asteroid, infused with dense magic power, was carrying Yggdrasils seed when it landed on Earth. When the cataclysmic event died down, mana flooded the Earth, giving birth to things that were once thought to be mere fantasy. First, exotic minerals proliferated, then came the monsters next was the Time of Demons, and lastly, us non-native to the world. ”

Letting that sink in for a bit, Bryn continued.

” We, as in Gods, Valkyrie, Angel, Devils, Elf, and so on,… are the last vestige of many worlds that disappeared when Yggdrasil regressed into a seed. To protect us, Yggdrasils seed brought us into its body and released us when the seed sprouted and we
e safe to leave. Appearing in a post-apocalyptic time, we ushered in order and stability on the surrounding region of the new Yggdrasil, the World Tree, and established the Belkan Reich. ”

” And history as we know it happened. ”

” Correct, the Great War happened shortly after. All nations further plunged themselves into a quagmire of chaos. Through this period of strife, we discovered that we
e unable to use our magic to the fullest extend. Since we
e otherworlders, the law of this world limited our magic power to maintain balance. Only when Yggdrasil fully matured and modified the world laws can we unleash our potential. ”

” So thats why science is still relevant on Earth. Magic is capable of creating miracles or devastation. Should an otherworld mage deems a nation a hindrance, they can just blink and erase said nation out of existence. Is this a blessing or a curse for our nation, however? ” I couldn help but ponder. The explanation makes sense, Belka could have dominated the world with otherworlders alone if Earth hasn put a stopper to their strength.

” I would say that its a blessing. We were used to the thought that its by right we should lord over Earth and rebuild the lost glory of our worlds. With such limiter, instead, it allows us to see and learn from the perspective of the common folks. We acquired knowledge and traits that benefit us in ways we could have only dreamt of before. I.e. science, management, humility, and patience,… Gradually, we came to accept that to progress, we must co-exist with humanity. But humanity is very, very dangerous. They
e too easily swayed by power, too fond of conflict, and too arrogant to acknowledge their faults. Lest we fall into the old ways and cause Yggrasil to fall, we have taken the helm and guided Belka forward, granting the people under it a noble purpose. And owing to their superior number and outstanding ingenuity, humanity serves as the driving force behind Belkas progress and also as our balancing factor. To prevent us otherworlders from misusing our status. ”

” Mutual dependency, right? ”

” Yes, to quote the words of the Empress: Without humanity, us otherworlders are nothing. Without us, humanity is just a headless chicken. ”

” Thats a sentiment I can agree with. ” Bryn raised an eyebrow at that.

” You spoke like you
e not a human. ”

” To be fair, Belka was treated as an outcast of Earth for making a nation that is, and I quote: Harboring the treacherous freaks of nature. ” I took another sip from the canteen. ” And as one of many humans in Belka, I also got lumped as traitorous existences of humankind that should be burned on stakes like the witches before them. So do spare me the need to associate myself with the rest of the humans that are not from Belka. ”

” … I am surprised. Never saw you spoke like this before. ”

” Don be surprised just yet, more are still to come. Though for what its worth, I do apologize for us, humankinds, follies. While the apocalyptic event caused us many losses, it also wasn right for us to point fingers at you when you
e also trying to survive in your own way. Thankfully, some portions of humanity chose to live peacefully with you guys, and here we are. ” I grandly waved my hands across the room. ” Trying to have the rest of our brethren to see and acknowledge the differences of the two sides so that in the end, we may not be so… differences, after all. ”

” … ” Bryn and I fell silenced. We both have something on our minds. Me, remembering past events, and Bryn mulling over what I said. Suddenly, Bryn lifts her hand and caresses my right cheek.

” Thank you… It was a very touching thing to hear and I do not doubt that the Empress agreed to your sentiment as well. In the end, its like a battle of two ideologies. One seeks spotless purity while one seeks harmonious complexity. Its my… our hope that in the war of nations and worlds, Belka will emerge victoriously and bring true peace to all. And with talents like you backing us up, I can rest assured that such a notion is not far-fetched at all. ”

Her warm hand stopped then gently grabbed the canteen I was holding.

” You must be tired from all the rambling of an old lady. ”

” To me, you
e not old. Don belittle yourself like that. ”

” Haha, fine, I won … Get some rest, I will bring supper and drink for you later. Wait for me, ok? ” Bryn gently coaxing me, I felt a shift in her attitude though I couldn quite put my hand on it.

” Ok then, this room is too big for me alone and since you don have accommodation yet… Do you want to share it with me for the time being? ”

” Fufu, I will take up on the offer then. Get some shut-eye, my little commander. ” Bryn smiled at me, her words reminded me of my fatigue.

With Bryn heading out of the room and drowsiness overtook me, I closed my eyes.

” You heard all of that? ” I questioned.

” Yes, master. To answer your unspoken question, we don have such limiter imposed on us. ” A soothing, smooth voice was heard in my head. If Bryns voice was like the warmth of the morning sun, then this voice is cool and attention-grabbing like a priceless ice sculpture.

” Its my thought that this world treated us as native since your current body was born on this planet. ”

” So nothing is amiss, Im glad. ” I breathed out a sigh of relief.

” If theres one thing you can trust, then thats Yggdrasils promise always stay true. ”

” Thats correct, huh… You can focus on the task at hand now. And thanks, a lot, for everything. ”

” Fufufu, Master, its our duty and dearest wish to serve and protect you. On behalf of others, I offer you my heartfelt congratulation in fully regaining your memory, power, and most important of all, us. ” The voice, trying to control their excitement, gave me her tribute.

And just like that, with a smile and unburdened shoulders, I drifted off into dreamland.

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