Chapter 36 – The Spirit Fleet
January 442 of the Monarchy calendar.
After devastating the Myrna system, the Royal Army made a detour into the Thor System, 110 light-years away. It is an invasion where they make it appear to the Coalition as if they were returning to the Solar System, but change course outside the Star System.
The Coalition’s main force, which had returned 150 light-years from the Hercules System to the Myrna System, received reports of the destruction of the Thor System during their rush to the Head planet.
“Was it really Fortress Kerviel that attacked the Thor System?”
“Fortress Kerviel was definitely confirmed.”
General Dexter, who commanded the rescue fleet, couldn’t believe his ears, but Lieutenant General Hawkins, the Chief of Staff, nodded heartlessly. Fleets and fortresses were also deployed in the Thor System, and the reconnaissance fleet was also actively searching. It is unlikely that the regular army could have mistaken Fortress Kerviel.
“Nonsense. It’s too soon.”
What the hell is going on? Dexter wondered.
A huge number of private trade ships come and go between the Myrna System, home to the Coalition’s head planet, and the Thor System, which is the closest to the Neutral Republic of Frodi.
The only possible reason why all of those ships did not report in was because Fortress Kerviel took a significant detour. However, by taking such a huge detour, their arrival should have been delayed.
Fortress Kerviel has three times the power output of a Coalition Fortress, and even if it could warp long distances in a single pass, there are restrictions to calculations in high-dimensional space. From a common sense standpoint, it was an impossible advance speed.
“Did they use drugs and keep moving with little sleep?”
“I don’t think so. If you lose consciousness during warp, you will be swallowed up by a high-dimensional vortex.”
Dexter’s imagination was immediately dismissed by Hawkins.
It’s not physically impossible, but doing so would be insane. Fleets and fighter crafts were also stationed in the fortress, and the losses would be too great.
“We have two Magic Engine Operators on every ship and are advancing 24 hours a day. But the only one operating Fortress Kerviel should be Viscount Amakawa.”
“A high magic power holder that can warp a 90-kilometer fortress is a genetic miracle that has occurred in the Monarchy. There can’t be two of them.”
Obtaining information on Fortress Kerviel is the first priority of the Coalition.
Information has also been gleaned from the Royal Army personnel that were taken prisoner by the Coalition during the Battle of Hercules, and the fact that there are three Operation Assistants, Yuna, Philine, and Colette, as well as their magic power values, was generally known.
They have multiple Magic Engines that operate secondary laser armaments and generate shields, but they cannot warp the entire fortress.
“Then why is it so fast?”
The secret to the advance speed of Fortress Kerviel, which Dexter wanted to know, was in Hart’s A-Class crystal.
The Coalition had also obtained information on the spirit crystals, but since the prisoners of war had mistakenly believed that C-Class crystals were the highest grade, the inconsistency was based on that.
It is 150 light-years from the Thor System, which the Royal Army has conquered, to the Freyja system.
It is 120 light-years from the Myrna System, which the Coalition Forces have not reached yet, to the Freyja system.
However, at this point, the Royal Army was not necessarily going to invade the Freyja system.
The Coalition of Humanity is a national group of multiple member states.
It was difficult for the fleets of the nations that were mainly in the Myrna and Thor systems to ignore the rescue requests from their home sectors and head for the Freya system, whose fate is currently unclear.
Then, after they reached the Myrna system and sent a rescue force to the Thor System while rescuing survivors deep underground and under the ocean floor of the hellish planet Fynn, a tragic transmission arrived from the Freyja system.
“Urgent report. The Freya System is under attack by Fortress Kerviel.”
“Damn it. Those frontier barbarians are going to destroy the entire Coalition system.”
In the present situation, Dexter fully understood the purpose of the Royal Army.
The goal is to destroy four of the Coalition’s five star systems, excluding the Hercules system, and drive the Coalition of Humanity to the brink of ruin.
The Freyja system has not fallen yet, but it is a rear star system with poor defenses. Its devastation was only a matter of time.
The population per system is 9 billion in the Myrna System, 6.2 billion in the Thor System, 5 billion in the Freyja System, 4.8 billion in the MacRil System, and 1 billion in the Hercules System.
If the 25 billion people of the four most populous systems are lost, even if only one billion people in the Hercules System, which cannot be said to effectively control the planet, remain, the Coalition of Humanity will inevitably be defeated.
“All forces, proceed to the MacRil system, where the Royal Army will attack next. ASAP.”
Dexter had no other choice.
And Hawkins, who received the order, could not make any other judgment as Chief of Staff.
“Shall we divert some of the fleet’s auxiliary ships to the Freyja system for rescue?”
“Do so. Also, dispatch additional rescue forces from the Hercules system. After the rescue, evacuate to the Neutral Republic of Frodi. If you carry even one citizen of the Frodi Republic on board, they won’t be able to refuse.”
“At the same time, order the battlecruisers. All ships to keep jumping beyond warp limit distance. Ignore fleet formations. Even one ship is fine. If we get there before the MacRil System is destroyed, we can put my family on an evacuation ship. Tell them so and drive each ship out.”
Dexter threatened the battlecruisers and rushed to the MacRil System.
From the Freya system where the Royal Army is located to the MacRil System, it is about 160 light-years.
From the Myrna system where the Coalition forces are located to the MacRil System, it is about 110 light-years.
Both forces chose the shortest flight course, but the Coalition began to move into the Freyja System from the moment it was attacked by the Monarchy.
As a result, the Coalition Fleet was able to reach the MacRil System ahead of the Royal Army, although a reasonable number of their ships dropped out.
When Fortress Kerviel appeared in the MacRil System, the Coalition Fleet, led by Dexter, had just joined the MacRil System’s defense fleet.
“Warp out complete sir. Multidimensional Magic Conversion Observation Wave shows no enemy shadow in the area surrounding 320 million kilometers. Numerous warship-scale magic reactions detected in the system.”
Valfrete gave his instruction while staring at the system chart when the Navigation Officer of the Command Center reported.
“Shut down the magic engine. All fleets, deploy immediately. Fighters crafts, stand-by. Re-accelerate the fortress, close the distance to the enemy before launching.”
On the main screen of Fortress Command, the search results in the MacRil system are reflected one after another. Meanwhile, the fleet jumped out and began to take formations around the fortress.
By the time the fleet had finished deploying, the blue and red enemies and allies were clearly separated and displayed on the star system map.
Royal Army: 4 fleet equivalent, 5.78 million Fighter crafts, 1 Attack fortress
Coalition Forces: 15 fleets, 8 mobile fortresses, Numerous civilian vessels
Force ratio 100:71
The MacRil system had an overwhelming majority of forces stationed in the System compared to the other two frontier star systems, except for the Myrna System, where the Coalition Head planet was.
It was easy, even for Valfrete, to imagine that the source would be the Hercules system.
“If we turn around now and head straight for the Hercules system, the fleet that came to rescue MacRil will not be able to catch up, so the second Battle of the Hercules Star System will be an overwhelming victory.”
As Hart smiled at Philine on his left, Philine smiled back.
“That’s true, but we also have the upper hand against the enemy before us.”
That was also the case. Hart agreed.
In the fourth star system, the final battle, although the Coalition fleet arrived on time, the enemy’s strength evaluation was half that of their allies, giving them an overwhelming advantage.
With no reason to miss it, Valfrete ordered the advance.
“When we crush that enemy, it’ll be a chokehold on the Coalition. Win this battle, and I promise you all promotions and special merits. With our hands, we will fulfill Diete’s long-cherished wishes. All forces, push towards the system!”
The officers and soldiers who received the order were inspired, and each ship’s Magic Engine emitted light with its output, and as a gigantic tsunami they surged towards the Coalition Forces. Fortress Kerviel also accelerated, preceding the fleet. In time with their advance, a group of missiles were also unleashed all at once.
Even if they do not defeat their immediate enemies, the Coalition has lost most of its ability to continue the war.
However, if the enemy fleet and mobile fortresses are left unattended, there remains the risk of another suicide attack on the Monarchy’s Star Systems, as in last year’s Capital planet defense battle. In order for the Monarchy to establish its security, it should choke the life out of them.
Fortress Kerviel, which was ahead of the fleet, shut down its magic engine outside the enemy’s range and released a large number of fighter crafts during inertial navigation.
“Fortress missiles swarm intercepting enemy missiles.”
Fusion rounds from both sides began to collide, increasing the number of stars shining in the night sky of each planet.
The optical observations of both fleets are deprived of their view by the cascading white light.
By the time the shockwaves of the stellar explosion rocked each ship’s shield, the two forces were finally within laser range.
“Fire, sweep the Coalition!”
“All ships, spread out and secure your line of sight. Repel the Royal Army.”
The warships of both powers did not vary greatly in performance, and both sides started firing from similar distances.
While the 4 blue fleets and the 15 red fleets collide with each other on the simplified star system map, the 192 blue masses representing 30,000 fighter crafts approach the red fleet.
An extremely useful fighter craft corps that can cut down enemy ships without damaging the fleet.
In three star systems, 220,000 vessels were dropped, but the losses are low compared to the 500,000 people in a fleet. And the semi-amateur pilots, who were estimated to be one-third of the original number, were also growing rapidly by experiencing three major battles.
In what is becoming a winning pattern for the Monarchy armed forces, the Royal Army Command was convinced of its fourth victory as well.
But the blue waves were counteracted by the red vanguard.
“Reporting status of the fighter crafts. The damage is too great.”
Valfrete, who had a strange feeling about the star system chart, checked with the Chief of Staff.
The Chief of Staff immediately instructed his staff to pick up the report from the command station of the Fighter Craft Corps to ascertain the cause.
“Enemy ships are equipped with a large number of Fusion Energy Conversion Electromagnetic Pulse Cannons. Fighter Crafts that continue to be attacked are shot down the moment their shield disappears. Moreover, even if the shields stay up, they are dropped by ship main cannons.”
“How many are equipped?”
“It’s the worst-case scenario our military had considered in advance.”
What was added to the Coalition ships was an auto-tracking electromagnetic pulse cannon.
Because warships are mostly disabled by the coding process, electromagnetic pulse cannons are only useful for anti-craft fire against fighter crafts. In addition, by attaching fusion converters to various places of the hull, it becomes a dangerous state like a bomb wrapped around the belly.
The enemy fleet with a large number of electromagnetic pulse cannons was too unnatural.
“The enemy must have jumped out immediately after reports of the Myrna system being attacked. Just because we used fighter crafts in the Myrrna system, they shouldn’t have had time to equip that many electromagnetic pulse cannons.”
The Chief of Staff recalled destroying factories and resources in the Myrna system, when considering if they had time to install them since the Mynna system.
And he also realizes that there was no way for them to be installed in the Myrna system in time to perfectly reproduce the worst-case scenario that the Royal Army had spent half a year studying when they introduced the fighter crafts.
“Clearly, classified information on our forces was leaked.”
Valfrete clicked his tongue at the Chief of Staff’s conclusion.
“We haven’t told the pilots themselves how many people have been recruited as fighter craft pilots. Or how many were taken on the expeditionary forces. Only the upper echelon of the Monarchy would be wise to what the worst-case scenario was. How the Coalition could know, the answer is clear.”
“It’s not something His Royal Highness the Sovereign’s Grandson can do on his own, is it?”
Valfrete also turns his murderous gaze toward the opposing fleet at the name the Chief of Staff blatantly put out.
“If it was just Leandre, we can replace his right to succeed the throne after this battle. But Langlois will have already destroyed the evidence. I’m not sure how to get rid of him… to begin with, I’ll have to get right in front of him. Lower the fighter craft’s evaluation from one-third to one-tenth and re-issue the force assessment.”
The force assessment of both forces changed dramatically, from 100:70 to 100:112.
Valfrete, who saw the figure, groaned in spite of himself.
The addition of fusion converters has also lowered the defenses of enemy ships. The next task for Fortress Kerviel, which is to unilaterally shoot down the Coalition’s mobile fortresses, could bring victory, but 5.78 million fighter crafts would have to be used up like hot water.
However, if the fighter crafts are accommodated, they will lose to the Coalition. It’s already a close range engagement, and they can’t withdraw from here.
Valfrete made a separate transmission from the Commander-in-Chief’s seat and contacted Hart.
「Lieutenant General Amakawa, I’ve run out of room. Can the Lord and the spirit crystals play a more active role?」
Hart was at a loss when Valfrete asked with a really tight voice.
Of course, Hart understands the figure of 100:112.
And in the story leading up to the ending that he saw in the maiden game “The Galactic Prince”, he also saw a way to reverse the disadvantageous situation. But it comes at a cost.
Realizing that he was standing at the turning point of the end of the war, Hart answered hesitantly.
「If it’s to win by a narrow margin, we can still do it as is, but in order to greatly improve the situation, the spirit crystals I am currently wearing will have to be sacrificed. Fortress Kerviel’s future performance will decline, is that okay?」
After hearing Hart’s explanation, Valfrete hesitated and eventually answered.
「If we win this battle, the war itself will be over. I’ll cover your loss in some way later.」
After individual communication with Valfrete was cut off, Hart’s line of sight shifted from the brutally scattered fighter crafts to his own terminal.
『High-dimensional lifeform… Spirit King Seraphina.』
『Something on your mind?』
Responding to his call, Seraphina’s light purple eyes widened like a cat’s in the night, and she raised the corners of her mouth in a fearless smile.
『I want you to make a contract directly, not through the spirit crystal. And I want you to connect this star system and the spirit realm, and turn this place into a white lily sanctuary. All spirits in this system should be placed under the influence of the Spirit King.』
It was information that Hart should not know, words that Hart should not know.
In the story that led to the true-end in the Maiden Game, this is the keyword that Yuna and her friends used to draw out the power of the Spirit King. Seraphina was the Spirit King attached to Colette, but Seraphina’s words also appeared in the work.
When Hart held up his spirit crystal, he imagined the large number of spirit crystals without contractors that he had brought into Fortress Kerviel.
『Will this and the spirit crystals in the fortress be sufficient to interfere with our world?』
Seraphina, who stared at Hart with light purple eyes, eventually answered with a determined expression.
『It’s more than enough. And the next spirit crystal you use should be a deep green one. Take them out of your pocket for a moment.』
When Hart took out six B-Class crystals from his pocket, Seraphina looked at them and said.
『Oh well. I’m sure Mira will get along with the cherry blossom Fleur and the yellow-green Rhea as well.』
『Three simultaneous contracts?』
As Hart stared at the spirit crystals, Seraphina turned to Hart with a gaze like a scientist observing laboratory animals.
Shortly after, Hart’s spirit crystals shattered, and Seraphina appeared in Fortress Kerviel instead.
Philine, sitting by the left, screamed at Seraphina, who suddenly appeared on Hart’s left hand side. Without acknowledging the scream, the blond, light-purple-skinned half-elf flapped a pair of white wings from her back and covered the Fortress Command Center with white light.
Seraphina’s light ignored physical obstacles and spread outside the Fortress Command Center, eventually shattering spirit crystals stored in the fortress.
Then, Fortress Kerviel itself emitted an intense white light, creating a shining fog-like phenomenon in the surrounding space. The glowing fog continued to spread faster than the speed of light, quickly covering the entire star system.
Both forces in combat were dazzled by the phenomenon that suddenly arose from Fortress Kerviel.
And in the fortress’s huge command headquarters, thousands of eyes were turned on the spirit who had vanished from Hart’s left side before they noticed, and then to the one who seemed to have caused it.
Regardless of attention from the Command Center, Hart operated the communication terminal, and after a pause, sent a transmission throughout the star system.
“Lieutenant General Hart Amakawa, Commander of Fortress Kerviel, to all forces in the star system. Just now, I activated a souvenir left by Dr. Kerman, the developer of spirit crystals. The spirit crystal performance of all forces has been improved, and on the contrary, the combat power of enemy ships has dropped significantly.”
Most of the people who were listening to the transmission could not understand the meaning of the communication from Hart.
But the scattered Royal fighter crafts began tearing apart the Coalition destroyers with a volley of white-light energy lasers, while avoiding the bombardment of electromagnetic pulse cannons.
The Royal Army destroyers irradiated rain-like lasers and smashed the shields of the Coalition cruisers. The Shield of the Royal Cruisers drowned out the lasers of the Coalition Battleships.
The arrows of white light released from the Royal Army shot through the Coalition Fleet in an instant.
The spectacle of single-handedly destroying a top-ranked ship type that would normally be impossible to overturn proved that the output of the Royal warships overwhelmingly exceeded that of the Coalition warships.
This phenomenon is due to the fact that the Spirit King Seraphina manifested in the MacRil System and connected it with the spirit world, which improved the movement of the spirits and prevented the Coalition from using the magic elements of the spirit world as they pleased. Hart understood.
Since a Spirit King resides in the area, such manifestations can only be used once with each Spirit King. This was where Hart said goodbye to Seraphina, who connected the spirit world to the MacRil System.
“The enemy should be unable to warp. Destroy every last one of them. That is all.”
After Hart, who finished the communication, took a seat, the Operation Command Headquarters remained silent. Still, only the force evaluation calculated from the output of the magic engine was recalculated in a disciplined manner and re-fluctuated to 100:22.
Hart thought that the war was now over, and sent a personalized communication to Valfrete just in case.
「I’ll leave the rest to you. It being Dr. Kerman’s gift is mainly an excuse.」
「You did it. Well good. We will have a meeting later. Until then, don’t explain it to anyone, claim that it’s a military secret.」
Half a day later, the MacRil System government, whose defense forces were unilaterally wiped out, surrendered unconditionally to the Monarchy of Diete.
After that, the Hercules System surrendered after learning that it had lost all its forces, bringing to an end the first interstellar war fought by humanity in 479 years.