Chapter 15 – For Cat Ears
The Grand fleet of the Royal army and Coalition forces encountered each other.
The coordinates were 70 light-years from the Diete system and 40 light-years from the Loki system, and they inevitably encountered each other as a result of their advance to attack each other’s star system.
As a result of the search by the scout ships of both armies, the forces were generally found to be evenly matched.
Royal Army: 32,000 ships, 3 fortresses.
Coalition Forces: 28,000 ships, 7 fortresses.
The Royal Army has a greater number of ships and uses spirit crystals to increase the performance of its ships.
The Coalition forces have more fortresses, and their warships and fortresses are larger and more powerful than the Monarchy’s.
Both sides had fully grasped the scope of enemy forces, and were gradually closing their relative distance.
It is impossible to avoid battle at this point. If one runs away, they will be pursued, and the allies with slower ship speed would be captured and destroyed in turn. A head-on battle was the only way forward.
Hart, who had resolved himself, received an order from the General Headquarters.
[To the entire fleet, form a rectangular wall in accordance with enemy formation. Fortress Kerviel, along with the 14th Fleet, is to turn clockwise to the side of the enemy right wing and attack with long-range artillery.]
“Send an order acceptance signal. Fortress Kerviel, start moving”
Hart’s magic powers flowed into the giant magical engine of Fortress Kerviel, via spirit crystal apparatus. Then, the magic engine converts the magic into enormous energy, and the 90,000-meter-diameter fortress shines with a pale light.
The massive power generated by the propulsion engines pushed the fortress forward with explosive force, and the fortress began to move out of the royal fleet and toward the side of the enemy right wing.
“Lieutenant General Alchunian, Acting Commander of the 14th Fleet, has sent us the projected course. It includes the path of this fortress.”
“Bring it up on the sub screen.”
After confirming the information, Hart involuntarily clicked his tongue.
The final coordinates were only slightly protruding from the leftmost flank of the friendly forces, which was not enough to completely go around the enemy side. Even if it is overestimated, it is only in front of the starboard side of the enemy’s right wing.
Hart, who had his left elbow on the desk, his face on his left hand, and his cheeks bulging in frustration, complained to Philine when their eyes met.
“Apparently the commander of the 14th Fleet is a cautious man.”
“Being careful is not always a bad thing, is it?”
“Generally, that’s the case. With a diplomatic rupture of more than 400 years, the true military strength of both sides is unclear. Except for us, the entire army has no combat experience. I know you want to be cautious and fight over stone bridges, but it’s a bad idea to lose the opportunity to launch a preemptive strike at a fortress.”
Optical observation is still impossible at the current distance, but the magic element converted by the enemy ship’s magic engine can be observed. If the enemy’s magic is targeted and pinned with spirits, it is possible to hit it with artillery strikes.
If one enemy battleship is destroyed, one ally battleship can redirect its response elsewhere by simple calculation.
It’s not simply a battleship. With one battleship, half of the 46 allied vessels in the Frodi system could have escaped.
“All right, I’ve decided.”
After secretly making his decision, Hart appealed directly to the General Headquarters, maintaining the speed of the fortress.
“In the name of Acting Commander of Fortress Kerviel, report the instructions of the 14th Fleet Command to the General Headquarters and request permission. At the final coordinates instructed by the Lieutenant General, we cannot go around to the side of the enemy right wing as ordered by General Command. Request permission to move as ordered by General Command.”
“Copy that. Sending report to the General Headquarters.”
As a matter of fact, Fortress Kerviel belongs to General Command, not the 14th Fleet. If the orders of General Command and the 14th Fleet are different, it is decided that the orders of General Command should take precedence.
And, in the true sense, he judged that he had a different way of thinking than the commander of the 14th Fleet, and that he would miss an opportunity while persuading him.
It is highly unlikely that the commander of the 14th Fleet, who had his own clear ideas, will listen to Hart’s suggestion, as he is extremely young and of a lower rank.
Their ranks are that of a Lieutenant General, who was properly promoted in due course, and Wartime Brigadier General, who was promoted during the war.
Their ages are a middle-aged man, who has passed 80 years of his 200-year life span, and a boy who is only 17 years old.
It was only natural that he would be looked down upon in the military, which is a hierarchical organization, and it was not surprising that he was underestimated as a young man.
As the fortress crossed the specified coordinates without slowing down, a jam-packed inquiry was sent three times from the 14th Fleet. However, Hart replied that Fortress Kerviel was under the orders of General Command, and that he was checking with the General Headquarters.
As Fortress Kerviel jumped out of the left wing and continued to advance, a new order arrived from General Command.
[Fortress Kerviel is to go around to the enemy right wing and attack with long-range bombardment. The 12th Fleet will intercept enemies from the left rear of Fortress Kerviel. The 14th Fleet should secure the sector at the halfway point between the Main Fleet and Fortress Kerviel.]
Hart smiled as he was told that the support fleet had been replaced by the 12th Fleet and that the fortress and fleet would not have to move together.
“Send an order acceptance signal to General Command. The fortress will advance in a clockwise direction.”
“Copy that. Sending order acceptance signal to General Command.”
“………… 14th Fleet, Live Long! In a different sector from me.”
“Hart, I can hear you.”
Hart, who was scolded by Colette, dodged the issue with a deliberate cough.
The two forces continue to approach each other, changing their formation several times.
The Coalition forces stretched out in a horizontal line, trying to encircle the Monarchy Fleet from both sides at the edge.
Against this, the Monarchy fleet also extended its formation in the same way according to the enemy fleet.
Then, the Coalition Fleet reconfigured the horizontal line into two lines, top and bottom, and crowded together.
However, only the right wing fleet, perhaps wary of the amount of magic elements that Fortress Kerviel could convert, turned three of its fleets and three fortresses around.
Approaching the enemy in a clockwise direction, Fortress Kerviel finally set its sights on the enemy right-wing fleet and the enemy fortress, thanks to its long range and Seraphina’s capture capabilities.
It was out of the enemy’s range, the ideal coordinate for only Hart to unilaterally attack.
“Fix the fortress in the current sector. Philine will be in charge of the right side of the fortress, and Yuna in charge of the left, attacking with secondary armament and deploying shields. Colette is on auxiliary engine to propel the fortress.”
“Understood. What will you do, Mr. Hart?”
“It’s decided. Using the power of 4556 destroyers, I shall attack with the fortress’ main cannon. From this point on, begin irradiating energy toward the enemy fortress. Commence bombardment.”
Immediately afterwards, directional energy was irradiated toward the mobile fortress located on the enemy’s right wing via an irradiation device protruding from the thick composite fluid metal layer of Fortress Kerviel.
The attack of Fortress Kerviel was not a series of single-shot laser bombardments, but a powerful, uninterrupted laser irradiation.
The black canvas of space is strewn with a beam that looks like it is condensed with magnifying glasses.
The enemy fleet that was in its path had the shields generated by its ship instantly blown away, and was swallowed up in the turbulent flow of energy and disappeared.
Outer space is by no means empty, but full of interstellar gases such as hydrogen and helium, dark matter, and magic elements. Therefore, the irradiated energy was attenuated, but it still extended to the enemy fortress and hit the fortress’ shields directly.
Of the full energy laser bombardment, which was equivalent to 4556 destroyers, half was somewhat attenuated by the shields of 625 ships, and the remaining 1653 worth of energy struck the outer walls of the defenseless enemy fortress.
If this was the actual bombardment of 1,653 destroyers, the fortress might have been able to withstand it. However, the irradiated energy was agglomerated into a single beam of light instead of 1653.
As if stabbing a watermelon with a sharp spear, the fortress armor was mercilessly pierced without any resistance.
“Laser hit to enemy fortress observed via Multidimensional Magic Conversion Observation Wave. The enemy fortress has lost shields, and the energy penetrated through the enemy fortress!”
The enemy fortress, pierced through by the spear of light, continued to move by the law of inertia while being penetrated, and divided itself into pieces. The contents of the watermelon overflow into the black canvas of space, staining the beautiful world.
Then, the enemy fortress short-circuited the energy output from the magical element engine in the broken transmission circuit, and destroyed itself in a chain reaction with overflowing energy.
A huge explosion of magic elements occurred, and a fortress disappeared from the radar.
“Enemy Fortress, Exploded and Scattered!”
The 100-year-old warrior excitedly reported the observation results, and cheers erupted at the Operations Command Center.
This is not only the first spear, but also a tremendous victory in a unilateral attack by the allies. The enemy mobile fortress is estimated to be a force equivalent to 625 destroyers. It was obliterated with a single blow, and at least tens of thousands of enemy soldiers and more than 100,000 android units were reduced to cosmic dust.
The number of enemy ships rushing into the Diete system has been reduced by 625. The enemy fortress must have been filled with troops and weapons to control the star system. All the Monarchy troops who observed it should also be cheering loudly.
Three fleets and two mobile fortresses of the enemy right-wing, whose fortress had been destroyed, hurriedly began to advance toward Fortress Kerviel. It must be unbearable to be shot unilaterally from out of range.
“Fluctuation confirmed in the enemy’s Magic Element Conversion Protective Membrane. Presumed missile swarm launch is imminent.”
The enemy is not simply advancing, but also launching a large number of fusion missiles.
The missiles are equipped with artificial intelligence, and after reaching close range, modify the course with a propulsion agent and attack the enemy, so even if the observation accuracy is low at the time of launch, they will still likely hit the target.
In addition, fusion missiles, unlike lasers that use magic, do not attenuate energy even as they push through outer space. Missiles are much slower than lasers, but, unlike lasers, have the advantage of eventually being able to reach the enemy.
“Gunnery Chief, launch 500,000 fusion rounds at the center of the enemy fleet. Then launch counter-missiles to destroy the enemy’s fusion missiles. I’ll leave the number of counter-missiles to you. Show them the amount of missiles a huge 90,000-meter-long fortress can carry.”
“Copy that. Launching fusion rounds and interceptor missiles.”
Immediately after, 500,000 fusion rounds were released, crossing the enemy’s fusion rounds in the space between the two forces, and heavily rained down on the enemy fleet ahead.
The fusion rounds fired from Fortress Kerviel reach the enemy right-wing fleet, the enemy’s main force and the left-wing fleet beyond it, each of which creates a stellar explosion, engulfing numerous ships into a vortex of light and heat. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of fusion rounds fired from enemy fleets have been destroyed, most of them as a result of the 3 million counter-missiles fired as a second wave, splitting their warheads and eating them up.
“Enemy formation is in disorder. Advance to destroy the second enemy fortress while the enemy is unable to go on the offensive. Request support artillery fire from the Commander of the 12th Fleet deployed on the port side. Philine and Yuna, please assist with our secondary guns in a timely manner.”
“Mr. Hart. We’re not requesting the 14th Fleet?”
Hart grimaced at Philine’s confirmation, and inwardly muttered, “We don’t need it”.
“The 14th Fleet has been given an important task by General Command: ‘Secure the sector at the midpoint between the main force and Fortress Kerviel.’ They would be inconvenienced if contacted. Best wishes for the success of the 14th Fleet Commander’s mission. By the way, you don’t have to send a message.”
Hart reminded the communications officer, who was confused by the Acting Commander’s remarks.
The other party has the position and authority of a fleet commander, and can make his own decisions and report to the General Headquarters. There was no need for War-time Brigadier Generals of different affiliations to take care of each other.
With a shrug of his shoulders, Hart fired the main gun toward the second fortress within range. On the other hand, the enemy forces unleash a mass-wave cohesive bombardment toward Fortress Kerviel.
Lasers cancel each other out and shine between the two forces, and around them, fireworks of fusion rounds release tremendous heat and energy to color space.
The large number of fusion missiles flying between the two forces has the destructive power to burn a planet’s surface tens of thousands of times over. The storm of raging fusion rounds repeatedly stifled the advance of both forces.
However, Fortress Kerviel, which advanced, kept the enemy on the opposite bank across the fireworks of the fusion rounds within range. A second energy irradiation was performed, breaking the shield of the enemy fortress, melting the armor, and penetrating the fortress’ interior.
“Enemy fortress shield is extinguished, direct hit on the enemy fortress!”
After the report echoed in the battle command post, a loud cheer erupted again.
Both warship fleets are still out of range of the main guns, but a second enemy fortress has been destroyed. The second enemy fortress was cut into slices, and then exploded with a brilliant light.
The Coalition, which continued to suffer unilateral damage, began to make forced advances in the storm.
If they retreated, they would only be shot in the back. On the other hand, if they bring the battle into close quarters and the enemy and allies get mixed up, Fortress Kerviel will not be able to fire its main gun in a careless manner. As a large number of fusion missiles raged between the two forces, the enemy forced its way forward, enduring the storm.
“Fire on the third.”
Hart grew more than a little impatient with the enemy, who was charging at them with no regard for damage.
If the enemy fortress is destroyed from out of range, Fortress Kerviel will continue to produce results while remaining unscathed. However, at long distances, while it is enough to shoot at a huge enemy fortress with the main gun, it is not possible to get to the many enemy ships.
Valfrate is in command of the main force at mobile fortress, Zophiel, and although there is another mobile fortress, Raguel, beside it, there are a total of four fortresses in the center and left flank of the Coalition Forces. Moreover, the fortresses of the Coalition are larger than those of the Royal army.
If they concentrate their forces on the central army, the Monarchy’s mobile fortresses could be destroyed.
If that happens, the matter of Yuna becoming a Duke’s daughter, the birth of a new Duke’s household to support Hart, and the Cat-Ears plan, everything will be broken.
“Advance to the enemy’s right wing side. Once the third enemy fortress is destroyed, get in range of the central enemy fortress while pressing the enemy’s right wing. The target of this fortress is only the enemy fortress with high attack power.”
Immediately after Hart’s declaration, the main cannon of Fortress Kerviel was fired, and a spear of light was thrown at the third enemy fortress.
In the meantime, the Monarchy’s central and right-wing forces began to exchange fire with the enemy fleet.
The exchange of fusion missiles creates hundreds of thousands of momentary stars.
The bursts were small compared to the vastness of the space battlefield, but if they continued for hundreds of thousands of times, the heat would be enormous. The area around the two forces, approaching while shooting at each other, rapidly heated up from the extreme cold of minus 270 degrees Celsius.
Terrified as if plunging into a star, the officers and soldiers of both forces began to fire at the enemy in front of them in an attempt to forget their fears.
The continuous flashes of the fusion rounds disrupted the original optical observation distance. By the time the bombardment began, the two forces were much closer than initially expected.
The ships of both forces that got too close are torn apart by energies large and small. Damaged ships were swallowed up by artificially created supernova storms and destroyed one after another.
Reports of the battle continued to come in from all parts of the fiercely contested battlefield.
“Fortress Kerviel has destroyed the fourth enemy fortress. Advance is stopped due to the enemy’s fusion missile. Fortress Kerviel is currently engaged with three enemy fleets and one fortress.”
Fortress Kerviel was halted in the middle of a fierce battle.
Fusion missiles do not use magic and cannot be examined by Multidimensional Magic Conversion Observation Waves. Even at a distance where optical observation is possible, the flashes of fusion rounds exploding in the surroundings are too strong to observe.
Jumping into a torrential downpour of untraceable fusion bombs was reckless, even for the thickly armored Fortress Kerviel. As a result, they were forced to maintain a certain distance from the enemy fleet and concentrate on interception and defense.
Valfrate, who is in overall command of the Monarchy’s armed forces, did not see the current situation as a disadvantage.
Hart’s battle results far exceed Valfrate’s expectations. The enemy has seven fortresses, but Fortress Kerviel is likely to destroy them all.
[The 14th fleet is restrained, and the 15th and 16th fleets are deployed above and below Fortress Kerviel. Cut off the stationary missiles and move the left-wing forces forward. Retreat the central army to 7 o’clock. Retreat right-wing forces to 5 o’clock. Pull the advancing enemies into the crossfire point.]
“I will notify you immediately.”
Valfrate sought further results from Hart.
According to the testimony of Marcelino Salinas, who was captured, the Coalition fortress is a huge object of 30,000 meters in length, and the magic power of the operator is about 30,000 to 32,000. They are designer babies who have been genetically engineered from fertilized eggs of high-magic power holders, making it easier to increase their magic power values.
The success rate is only a few percent, and most children cannot inherit normal magic power. Even so, the Coalition, which can obtain a large number of high-magic powered people that are rarely born by leaving it to nature, can assign as many high-magic powered people as the number of fortresses it built.
If the Coalition, which can mass-produce high-magic power holders, and the Monarchy, which cannot, battle each other, the Monarchy will lose. It is a bad idea to smash allied fortresses against enemy fortresses. However, if Hart can unilaterally lay waste to the enemy without taking damage, there is no problem at all. The hand he got was a completely unexpected card.
“Left-wing forces have resumed their advance. Fortress Kerviel is now in range of the fifth enemy fortress. The enemy has stopped advancing. The auxiliary fleet in the rear is starting to break away ahead of us. The enemy appears to be retreating!”
Confident of victory, Valfrete smiled grimly.
[Immediately shift to pursuit. Damaged vessels are to remain and the second sub-commander will be in charge of reorganization and operations. The remainder of the fleet will pursue while avoiding the mines of the retreating enemy, and drop them in order from the slowest enemy.]
The communication officer in the General Headquarters also responded with courage to the Commander-in-Chief who gave the order with great enthusiasm. They also saw a path to victory in this battle.
However, even the best of them could not have imagined that the man who had achieved the greatest victory had been thinking about the Cat-Ears after the battle.