Chapter 30 – The Crown Prince, Explosion!
Just 21 hours after the invasion of the Heracles system and 16 hours to the arrival at moon Cades, which is considered to be the final battlefield, a state of emergency was announced from the rear sector.
“Emergency transmission from a reconnaissance ship. [Numerous enemy fortresses advancing on a detour route].”
The staff shouts to the report of the communications officer and asks for more details.
The information from the reconnaissance ship was that in the sector one light year towards the star Spica, the magic reactions of 12 Coalition mobile fortresses were observed entering high-dimensional space.
The expected emergence sector is 4.1 billion to 4.4 billion kilometers in the outer edge of the system. The expected arrival time is about 2 hours later.
A map of the star system’s perimeter was projected onto the main screen of the Fortress Command Center, and 12 red light dots rapidly approaching from beyond the peripheral map were added to the arrangement of enemies and allies, shown in blue and red.
“What was the reconnaissance fleet around the system doing? It was positioned to search for enemies.”
The staff yelled, but Hart calmly gave instructions.
“It must have been an ultra-long range warp from outside the reconnaissance ship’s observation range. Calm down and deal with it. Chief of Staff, add the 12 enemy fortresses to give us the updated strength assessment.”
“Yes. Adding the current known enemy detours and recalculating latest strength assessments.”
When the Chief of Staff hurriedly recalculated, the 100-65 force was rolled back to 100-77. The Coalition had gained the upper hand compared to the start of the battle, but the Monarchy would still prevail. The staff members regained their composure after seeing the assessment.
“Just in case, report the information of the enemy detour force advancing into the star system to the friendly forces, along with the strength assessment. In addition, report that the convoy will continue moving toward the zenith to avoid engagements with the enemy separate until otherwise ordered by General Command.”
The staff immediately executed Hart’s order.
Upon learning of the enemy’s reinforcements of 12 mobile fortresses, the Central Army’s General Headquarters fell into some confusion. General Bödeger, the second-in-command of the entire army at least, stood up involuntarily and reviewed the numbers.
The Coalition’s mobile fortress is one size larger than the Monarchy’s and boasts a total length of 30 kilometers. It is a scale that only two people in the Monarchy, Hart and The Sovereign’s Grandson Leandre, can operate.
With the addition of 12 mobile fortresses, they couldn’t help but be convinced that the Coalition’s magic powered individuals had been in mass production for over 15 years.
“General Bödegar, how do you plan to respond?”
When asked by Prince Gracian, who is unfamiliar with the military, Bödeger returned himself and reported.
“Yes. There are 12 fortresses in the detour unit, but the strength evaluation is equivalent to 7,500 destroyers, and 2.4 fleets. If we divert 3 fleets from the center and both wings, we’ll have an advantage of 100 to 75 in front and 100 to 67 behind.”
After seeing the results of the three fleet extraction, Gracian asks Bödeger for another deployment.
“I’d like to know what the strength ratings would be if I were to send my fortress to the rear as well.”
“Eh… Your Highness Gracian, will be joining?”
Bödeger was stunned to hear that the Commander-in-Chief himself would confront the enemy.
But Gracian explains his intentions.
“Yes. I want to destroy one enemy fortress. In one battle, if you defeat an enemy with a higher evaluation of strength than yourself, will earn you a Medal of Honor. If you have one, you will be recognized as a royal aristocrat who risked his life against a stronger enemy. With this, I will fulfill the obligations required of royal aristocrats, and the issue of succession to the throne will be settled.”
Bödeger was convinced, thinking about the political effects of the next Sovereign earning a military decoration.
Valfrete, a former third prince who is a rival to Crown Prince Gracian, won a crushing victory at the Battle of the Loki Star System as Commander-in-Chief, but did not receive an individual Medal of Honor. If Gracian earns the Medal of Honor, the issue of succession to the throne may easily be settled.
The problem is that the Crown Prince will be at the forefront. If the enemy were to target Gracian in desperation, such was a possibility.
Bödeger operated the console himself and reported the results of changing the conditions.
“Your Highness is the Crown Prince. The extraction from the center will be increased to 2 fleets, and the extraction from the left and right will be changed to the aristocratic army with a high strength evaluation. The front will temporarily be rated 100 to 83, but the rear will be overwhelmingly dominant at 100 to 53, and we will be able to defeat them quickly. The main force will halt its advance, and resume once Your Highness rejoins after hitting the enemy detour corps.”
Gracian felt he was being overly cautious, but he also thought that it would be a way to come to terms.
“For good measure.”
Orders were sent to the Central Forces and both Left and Right wing forces, and two regular army fleets from the Central Command to protect the Crown Prince, and aristocratic army from both the left and right forces triumphantly began to move toward the rear sector.
During that time, the 12 Coalition fortresses had warped out and began advancing from the outer edge of the Hercules system toward the Monarchy Army.
The battlefield was in a lull, and 14 hours had passed.
The Monarchy army was poised to intercept the enemy in a semicircle, with 4 fleets led by Gracian, rolling about 1 billion kilometers to avoid being caught in an enemy pincer attack.
With the Coalition’s detour forces looming, Fortress Kerviel was timed to switch shifts from Hart to Yuna’s group and back to Hart again.
“It’s time for a shift change, so take a rest.”
It will be terrible from now on. Hart added in his mind.
However, Colette complained about the situation with a mysterious look.
“The Crown Prince’s unit is already in contact with the enemy’s separate unit.”
Do the deep-rooted aristocrats, Colette and Philine, feel they have to witness this? With that thought in mind, Hart decided to let the three be free.
“I understand. Just make sure you don’t consume too much of the break time and don’t let it affect you.”
With Colette and Philine nodding, and Yuna, who seems to be going along with them, Hart watched the Royal Prince and 12 enemy fortresses at the command center.
In the sector behind the Monarchy’s main force, a billion kilometers away, Prince Gracian’s mobile fortress and 4 fleets enter the 300 million kilometers range of 12 enemy mobile fortresses and the main gun.
Then, the 12 enemy fortresses shut down their magic engine all at once and performed a 6-minute inertial navigation.
With a distance of 30 million kilometers in just six minutes, the 12 enemy fortresses immediately restarted 12 magic engines. And around the 12 fortresses, 20,000 new magic element reactions appeared.
“Emergency. A large fleet has appeared around 12 enemy fortresses. Estimated 12 fleets!”
Hundreds of people in the fortress command center stared at the main screen in unison as the communications officer shouted.
On the star system chart that the astonished people looked up at, a dark red sphere was generated near the displayed 12 mobile fortresses, dying a part of the star system map red.
The dark red spheres gradually morph into 12 lumps while being bathed in the Multidimensional Magic Conversion Observation Wave of each ship.
“Magic element reactions, mostly combat ships. The force is 12 fleets. Auxiliary ship sized vessels presumed to be escort ships. Shields are fluctuating, it appears missiles have already been launched against the Crown Prince’s detached force!”
The twelve red photospheres displayed on the star system chart began shooting missiles in unison.
“The 12 mobile fortresses will serve as shields for the 12 fleets and go straight for the Crown Prince’s Fortress Raguel!”
The detour unit, which transformed with the dexterity of a magician, became a great force and pushed through the empty sector toward the flagship Raguel.
The 100-77 rating was reevaluated to 100-136, changing to the overwhelming dominance of the Coalition. Even with the addition of Fortress Kerviel and the convoy fleet, they were outnumbered 100 to 116. Moreover, 100-53 changed to 100-316 if limited to the battlefield of Gracian.
The Monarchy side has 4 fleets and 1 fortress.
The Coalition has 12 fleets and 12 fortresses.
Moreover, the Monarchy is exhausted from the long battle, while the Coalition side has just reached the battlefield and is unharmed.
Inside Fortress Raguel, where the battle situation had taken a sudden turn, Bödeger was desperately screaming, urging Gracian to retreat.
“Your Highness, you must flee. The enemy is three times larger.”
“Where are they!?”
Fortress Raguel, on which Gracian was aboard, performed a sudden braking with the magic engine in full operation. However, due to the laws of inertia, it was not reversing, but continuing to decelerate. Moreover, the Gracian response force was thin in the center because the two wing forces were attempting a semi-encirclement from the sides.
Immediately after the Coalition released its 12 fleets, the Monarchy was in motion.
However, the aristocratic army, which moved to help Gracian, foolishly turned from the battlefield facing the enemy’s main force, showing its back to the enemy.
The friendly ships on either side turned their bows 180 degrees around and rolled forward, each punching a holes in the battle line.
Naturally, enemy bombardment would focus on the holes through which the aristocrats have left.
The Royal army, which stayed on the battlefield while the aristocratic army left, lost the firepower of the aristocratic army and was also forced into a battle to protect the back of the aristocratic army that turned around, and being unable to endure the enemy’s offensive, was destroyed.
The right-wing force was suddenly overtaken by the ally fleet and the fortress, and was struck by an enemy facing the place where the formation collapsed, and faced the danger of the front collapse.
“Lord Laurent, come back. If you break rank without permission, the formation will collapse and various sections will be divided.”
General Jhering, commander of the right-wing force, stopped them, but Laurent, who commanded the Duke of Mauriac’s army, replied.
“What are you saying? His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and many aristocrats are participating in the detachment. General Yelling, are you asking us to just watch as they die?”
“I’m not saying that. But if you move on your own, the battle line will collapse.”
The aristocratic army, which accounts for half of the Monarchy expeditionary force, began to turn around one after another as if hit by an avalanche, each household at its own discretion.
The detached force, led by the Crown Prince, contains 2 aristocratic fleets.
The right-wing forces consisted of the Apollo and Machaon aristocratic army. The left-wing forces are Artemis and Podalley aristocratic army.
Aristocrats have relationships with each other. Even the newly emerged Hart would not easily abandon the Marquis of Carneus and the Dukes of Strani. Aristocrats with hundreds of years of interaction could not desert their peers.
But the distance of one billion kilometers was too far to save lives.
The two central fleets defending Gracian shoot their guns at the approaching 12 enemy mobile fortresses and 12 fleets, desperately trying to resist. But for the larger enemy force, it was only a modest resistance.
12 large beams of light extended from the 12 Coalition fortresses that broke through the resistance of the Monarchy, four of which pierced Fortress Raguel. The skewered Fortress Raguel shined with the magic light, and exploded with a tremendous flash.
“Fortress Raguel, has exploded. The fortress’s magic element engine was in operation and has been destroyed. There was no sign of escape from His Royal Highness the Crown Prince. The General Headquarters of the Expeditionary Force has also disappeared!”
It was an event so tragic that it was enough to stun the entire Monarchy army. Despite the remaining forces, the Commander-in-Chief and General Command were suddenly erased.
But the tragedy for the Royal army was not over yet.
The detached force of only four fleets, which were led by Gracian, is in direct contact with 12 enemy fortresses and 12 fleets. The headless force is retreating to join the rushing aristocratic army instead of simply conducting a decisive frontal battle, but since the aristocratic army is moving at the discretion of the senior aristocratic households, an organized response cannot be expected.
“Communication from Major General Rendano.”
Immediately after the staff reported, Rendano, who was stationed in the fortress, appeared on the screen.
[Major General Amakawa, what are we going to do?]
Hart, who was briefly asked, thought that he would have no choice but to withdraw.
“The objective of this operation was to conquer the Hercules system, take the foothold of the enemy invasion, and on the contrary, make it a stepping stone for us to invade. At present, the forces are at a disadvantage of 100 to 116, including this convoy, and getting worse. If you cannot achieve your goal, you should withdraw before the damage spreads.”
Rendano immediately nodded in agreement to Hart’s idea.
[Do you have any opinions on specific methods?]
“The Central forces moves up and down, avoiding the dangerous space behind them, the right wing retreats to the right, the left wing retreats to the left, while facing the enemy, and once they reach the warpable sector, flee via warp. The detached force and the aristocratic army will muster as much as possible and evacuate to the outer edge of the system while avoiding the enemy detour force. That’s how I see it.”
What Hart presented was a conventional strategy.
If you conduct conventional operations, you cannot expect remarkable results, but you can get common sense results. What the Royal army should do now is not a groundbreaking comeback with a 20% success rate, but a solid withdrawal, with a 100% success rate at the cost of sacrifice.
Hart pushed for his own strategy, believing that a certain amount of casualty would be reasonable.
“The enemy’s main force will pursue the retreat of the friendly main force. In other words, we can predict the enemy’s course. Then, we will fire several million fusion rounds, with a time delay. We will also fire long-range artillery from Fortress Kerviel at the enemy’s detour units that are facing the detached force and the aristocratic army.”
Rendano himself, who was the one to ask, was surprised that Hart immediately offered a countermeasure. But Rendano had another concern.
[The General Headquarters is gone, but will they listen to our suggestions?]
The Monarchy Army has lost its General Command and is moving in pieces. Also, the aristocratic army no longer listened to what the Royal army said.
The senior aristocrats were treated as fleet commanders at the direction of General Bödeger. As such, the senior aristocrats really misunderstood themselves as commanders of the fleet and divisions.
The senior aristocrats also obediently listened to the Crown Prince, who was the Commander-in-Chief and the next Sovereign. But now they’re rampaging as much as they want, like the animals that have escaped from the zoo. Meanwhile, the Royal army are the keepers scrambling to put out the fires in the burning zoo.
To Rendano, who expressed unease, Hart deliberately turned his gaze to Yuna, who was standing to his right, and then disclosed his plan.
“If you have Colonel Strani standing next to the communications officer, the ones who see it will assume our intentions. The military will see the daughter of their Chief Commanding Officer acting as a messenger. The aristocrats will see His Majesty’s granddaughter standing on the battlefield in his name. Military personnel follow the Commander-in-Chief, and aristocrats obey His Majesty.”
Yuna’s gaze was directed at Hart, and a silent protest was appealed.
Rendano agreed with Hart, who pretended not to notice it and waited for a response.
Hart’s suggestion was immediately sent to the entire Monarchy expeditionary force. In addition, as if it was a definite matter, it was accompanied by the arrival time of millions of fusion rounds.
It is unbearable to have millions of fusion rounds rain into the sector you are occupying. The Monarchy’s forces hastily began to prepare for the retreat, as if driven to the brink.
However, the aristocratic army, which was engaged in battle with the enemy, was not moving fast enough.
The large fleet of the aristocratic army, which had a high ratio of battleships, and the 12 fleets of the Coalition forces, which had jumped out from 12 mobile fortresses, were dropping each other, shattering each other’s shields in a fierce bombardment that went in all directions. The red and blue blobs of the star chart were blending together to form a huge purple battle sector.
It’s unclear whether the aristocratic army will heed the withdrawal order or not. At least they didn’t show signs of withdrawal.
And there were other aristocrats who didn’t listen.
“The Harvist fleet is departing the fortress. Projected course, the battle sector. They intend to rescue the friendly forces.”
Hart was stunned by the report of the staff. He was telling them to withdraw, but what would they do if they joined the fray?
In the meantime, Rendano, the fleet commander, called out to the Harvist fleet.
[Harvist Fleet, turn back. The convoy will give support with missiles and long-range artillery fire from the fortress. We are not ordering a raid!]
The Harvist fleet, which flew out of the fortress, began to fall one after another, perpendicular to the galactic reference plane. The fleet formation stretches like a spear, among which the fortress ship of Alisa, the granddaughter of the Count of Harvist, stands out.
[Our allies are in danger.]
Alisa responded to Rendano’s call in a short and unassuming manner. Rendano desperately tried to regain control, but Alisa refused to budge, saying only that she was trying to save her allies.
Colette, who couldn’t see the situation, reached for the communication terminal.
“Alisa. You must save as many allies from danger as you can, do not just assault the enemy. The best way is to stick to the outer circumference of the battle sector with your fleet, keeping a certain distance and hit the outside enemies on the outside to let them escape. If you get results, you can receive a Medal of Honor. If you have a Medal as proof that you have defeated a superior enemy, your honor will be fully restored. Fleet personnel of the Harvist fleet, move in that form.”
Alisa, staring at Colette through the communication screen, chewed the instructions over time, then slowly swallowed and digested it.
At the end of Alisa’s statement, communication from the Harvist fleet expired.
Immediately after, Rendano questioned Hart.
[Major General Amakawa, what are your intentions?]
Colette’s action was a clear violation of her authority.
Hart made an excuse in his brain and pleaded in defense of Colette.
“The Count’s young lady, the commander of the Harvist Fleet, became enthusiastic while she was stationed in the fortress, where I am responsible. Therefore, I sent advice on the battle from the Fortress Headquarters. I’d like to ask Major General Rendano to take command from now on.”
The excuse was so terrible that the one who made it was amazed at himself.
As expected, Rendano set the conditions for accepting his poor excuse.
[It appears Major General Amakawa makes a lot of money from Second System stock dividends. When we return, do share some special wine. All the officers and soldiers under my command will appreciate it.]
Currently, Rendano has a total of 500,000 people, including the nine squadrons of the aristocratic army assigned to him.
Hart assumed 100,000 rhodes a bottle to 500,000 people and calculated that it came to 50 billion rhodes in his brain, remembered the amount of savings, and complied with a half laugh.
“I understand. Please look forward to it.”
[I’m looking forward to it. Transport fleet, to all hands on the field. One fleet will stick to the outer circumference of the enemy and support the retreat of our allies. If you can make it back home, we’ll have a big banquet, courtesy of the Viscount of Amakawa!]
After Rendano’s communication was cut off, Hart threw a sideways glance at Colette.
“…… Um, you owe me one.”
Hart nodded mechanically to Colette, who had an unusually twitchy smile.
As the transport fleet entered the battle, Fortress Kerviel also began to rush into action. The torrential rain of the fusion rounds is poured down from the galactic zenith direction in the expected course of the enemy main force chasing the ally main force.
Fortress Kerviel is 74 kilometers long inside the thick armor, with more storage space than 50 million transport ships.
The weapons held inside the fortress are not comparable to those of the enemy fleet, as the 54-kilometer defense fortress on the planet Diros was dismantled and added.
Fortress Kerviel, which released a vast barrage of missiles, considered the support to the main force sufficient and followed the transport fleet ahead into the battle sector.
“The fortress will go around outside the battle sector, and drop all enemies within the range unless friendly fire is likely. The target priority is in descending order of the magic engine output. This has a longer range. Shoot before you are shot.”
Explaining the fortress’s combat policy, Hart deviated from the deployment space of the convoy and jumped into the base space where the enemy detour force maintained a clean formation.
The star map showed a blue planet-like mass attached to the hemispherical, almost red half of a purple star mass.
From the planet, huge spears and arrows were thrown at the stars.
The giant spears pierced 11 red light points one after another, shining brightly even in the red part of the star. The red spots pierced by the giant spear were swung around by the pierced spear and scattered with a fierce flash of light.
Arrows fired from the planet trace the surface of the star cleanly and gradually scrape the hemisphere of the star into smaller pieces. With each spear and arrow, the star gradually lost its red glow, winding up a red flare.
As the color of the star began to change from red to purple, a blue light emerged from its brilliance.
“The Duke of Mauriac fleet. Confirmed the mobile fortress Ophaniel. Also three fortress ships of the Duke’s army around… 1 has dropped. They are being swarmed by enemy ships.”
What the staff appealed for was the plight of the Duke army, who engaged in a battlefield that had finally changed from a space that was unilaterally overrun to a turbulent battle sector.
The main gun on Fortress Kerviel is not weak enough to fire into the battle sector.
When Hart was wondering whether to release the combat ships, a flock of blue light broke in from the outside of the sphere.
“Friendly fleet, it is the Count of Harvist’s fleet”
Hart felt uneasy upon hearing the staff read out the affiliation. However, the Harvist fleet did not rush into battle.
Alisa’s fortified ship slammed its main gun against the enemy ship from the zenith direction, destroying two large enemy battleships one after another as they tried to drop the mobile fortress Ophaniel.
In the surrounding area, the Harvist fleet, which is lined with artillery, dropped enemy ships by laser bombardment like heavy rain from above the Coalition force fighting the Monarchy’s aristocratic forces.
Alisa and the Harvest fleet pierced the enemy forces that were confronting the Monarchy forces and rescued the allies from the brink of death.
“The allied fleet in the battle sector, with the support of the Harvist fleet, is exiting the battle sector.”
Alisa’s advance was an unexpected huge gold star. She rescued many allies from the battle sector and had even pulled up Royal-class magic power holders and mobile fortresses.
Hart suddenly turned his attention to the number dropped by Fortress Kerviel.
Fortress Kerviel destroyed 11 enemy fortresses and 4,431 ships, equivalent to a total of 14,344 destroyers.
Although the enemies who were fighting with their allies will not be one-sidedly defeated, they are attacking the sectors that the enemy was systematically deploying while maintaining fleet formations, and even on a low estimation, they can earn a rating of about 70%.
Even if the rating is lowered to 70%, the equivalent of 10,040 ships will be recognized as destroyed, and the battle results will be above the 8,137-ship rating of Fortress Kerviel. Hart, who himself judged that the criteria for the Medal of Honor had been exceeded, issued an order to withdraw.
“Retreat out of the system while supporting the withdrawal of our allies and the transport fleet through the battle sector. Keep shooting fusion rounds at enemies who have taken a distance.”
From Fortress Kerviel to the Coalition Detachment, an endless rain of fusion rounds began to fall.
The Coalition forces trying to pursue are exposed to a huge muddy stream of energy and are roughly pushed back into the star system. On the other hand, the Monarchy army was swept away to the outer edge of the system, their shields bathed in intense energy.