Maiden Game Hard Mode – Chapter 88

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Chapter 88 – Counter-Invasion Operation

In the Tenka star system, it is possible that the realm of the Daemon King could be born.

In a critical situation where the previous year’s Battle of Athena could be reenacted, with the offensive and defensive forces switched, Commander-in-Chief Hart made a quick decision.

He withdrew the Solar System Invasion Army, reorganized it into a large force consisting of seven regular army fleets and one aristocratic fleet, and launched a counter-invasion operation against the Ōizumi System with all his might.

The reinforced Royal Army was estimated to be equivalent to 174,000 Tenka cruisers, which is on par with the Ōizumi defense force.

The fortified force of seven regular army fleets and one aristocratic fleet sortied for Ōizumi ahead of Fortress Kerviel, which was returning from the Solar System.

This was so that after Fortress Kerviel makes a high-speed advance into the Ōizumi system, it will deploy Israfel crafts and then return to the home country for the second wave. The augmented fleet was to arrive earlier at the outer edge of the Ōizumi System and deploy the Israfel’s supply base.

From the MacLir Star System to the Ōizumi Star System, tens of thousands of light spots blink repeatedly, extending the arrow of light.

During the advance, Hart informed the Ōizumi Invasion Army of its objective.

“The first wave is to stick to the Ōizumi Star System and try to buy time for about a month or so. In the meantime, Fortress Kerviel will travel back and forth between MacLir and Ōizumi to ferry the second wave of Israfel. After merging both forces and gaining overwhelming superiority, we will destroy  Bunsui(Wén shuǐ), the head planet of the Ōizumi Star System.”

Deputy Commander, General Listner, was appointed to act as General Commander while Hart was away from Ōizumi. In addition, General Carneus was nominated as the next in the chain of command.

Since the Head of the Royal Army Command Office is Hart and his Deputy is Colette, it is a reasonable appointment for Colette to be Acting Commander in Hart’s absence.

In the case of Philine, the Israfel crafts, the largest force in the invasion force, were under her command, and her peerage is also effective in joint operations with the aristocratic army, so she was suitable for the position of Second-in-Command.

“If the fleet is likely to be defeated before the arrival of the second wave, the fleet is to retreat and rejoin Fortress Kerviel, even leaving the Israfel behind. The objective is the destruction of the enemy’s head star and the birth of the Spirit King, not the defense of the sector. Don’t make unnecessary sacrifices to a fleet that cannot be replenished.”

Hart ordered the fleet to withdraw temporarily in the event of defeat, even abandoning the Israfel, which could not warp.

It was a heartless order that would be condemned by the majority of the people, something that could never be issued in a democratic country, and required the determination to be condemned even in a constitutional monarchy.

That is why Hart, the highest-ranking military officer, who had accumulated tremendous military achievements, and who was in sole control of the spirit-related matters directly linked to the victory or defeat of the war, gave the order with his own mouth.

The alliance between Tenka and Hercules, which destroyed Nephthys, the head planet of the Frodi System, are closing in on Horus, the third system, after further destroying Isis, the second system.

Hart reiterated his orders to the entire army.

“If we fail to achieve our objectives, the entire star systems of the Monarchy could be overrun by the Tenka-Dwarven alliance in the future. We have a responsibility to avoid a final defeat, even if it means a temporary retreat. Don’t get the priorities wrong. That is all.”

Ruthless decisions were made not only towards the fighter crafts, but also towards the Solar System and each Republic Star System.

The Monarchy’s top priority was to attack Ōizumi, and the rescue of other countries was secondary. The Monarchy, which was fully committed to the Ōizumi offensive, did not spare the warships of the regular army and the aristocratic army for the rescue of the Solar System and Republic Star Systems, each of which had produced billions of refugees.

The purpose of Tenka’s scorched-earth campaign in the Solar System was to place a huge burden on the Monarchy.

The enemy’s purpose was known, and for the safety of the Monarchy there was no reason to give priority to rescuing the Earthers or the neutral Republic, who would only do harm to the Royal citizens even if they were rescued.

As a result, the Monarchy sent a minimal number of transport ships, and civilian vessels were hired to transport supplies as an alternative.

Although some people may have died of starvation on Mars, since Tenka’s destruction of the Earth’s surface and Martian food plants with fusion munitions is the cause of the food shortage, there is no reason to complain to the Monarchy… that is what the Monarchy claims.

The rescue operation for the people of the Republic was handled better than that of Mars due to Yuna’s Royal edict.

The reason why they had no choice but to issue the royal order even if it became a burden was because the Artemis Star System, which is close to the Republic, had a large fleet of immigrant ships immediately after the immigration of the Kyūyama people from Fukashiro, and all the National Mages of Kyūyama were assembled there.

Even without Yuna’s edict, the Duke of Takrham was ready to rescue the people of the Republic with large convoys of immigrant ships and National Mages.

If the Duke of Takrham independently helped the unfortunate people who have been attacked unreasonably, the ducal family will make a name for itself.

If the Duke, the supporter of the Second Prince Josslan, gains a reputation through the rescue work that Yuna had failed to perform, the battle for the throne for the next generation will almost certainly be settled.

In anticipation of that development, Hart immediately ordered a rescue operation in Yuna’s name.

Hart was not happy about the fact that the crisis in the Republic had given the Duke of Takrham a cause that allowed him to use the National Mages as much as he wanted.

While Hart was worried about the rear, Colette of the leading fleet informed him of the problem ahead.

[Urgent report to the Commander-in-Chief. We have been captured by enemy scout unit. I guess we were too direct.]

The image projected on the communication screen with Colette showed a single red light dot representing an enemy destroyer, within range of the destroyer’s search range.

Three friendly light cruisers headed towards the enemy destroyer.

The selected light cruisers are those who are favored by the spirits, like Alois Khan, an Israfel Captain who achieved unusual results, and all of them were given various flexibility by the contracted spirits. A forcible short-range warp is also handy, and it will be possible to capture and drop the enemy destroyers.

However, it is much faster for the enemy ship to send a communication than for them to drop the enemy ship. The enemy should have placed another ship within reach of the communication, or a relay communication satellite, and the invasion information should be considered to have been sent.

Hart, who understood that they had been captured by the enemy, nodded lightly and answered Colette.

“Very well. The leading fleet will continue its advance, destroying the enemy ships with selected ships.”

[Understood.]

In order to escape from the enemy’s search network, it is necessary to avoid the route between star systems where private ships come and go, and make a large detour by jumping up and down toward the zenith of the galactic reference plane, or crawling in the nadir direction and then surfacing.

This time, the Royal Army could not afford a detour advance. This is because they must settle the matter before Tenka, who was rampaging in the Republic, returns with the Daemon King they have created.

Already in the Republic, Isis, the second star system, has been destroyed.

The Tenka invasion army should be heading for Horus, the third star system, and by the time Fortress Kerviel arrives at Ōizumi, the inhabitable planets in the Horus system should also be destroyed.

By the time Fortress Kerviel returns from Ōizumi to MacLir, packs the second wave and returns to Ōizumi, the Tenka invasion army would have also reversed course and be rushing through the former Coalition territory. With little time to spare, there was no leeway for a detour in the invasion of Ōizumi.

“After arriving at the outer edge of the Ōizumi System, form up in a cluster of celestial bodies that cannot be warped to at close range, build a bridgehead and a supply depot for the fighter crafts, and prepare for interception. Don’t go too deep into the enemy system and be unable to leave.”

[I understand. If the fighter crafts enter battle-friendly celestial group, I will consult with the spirits and act accordingly.]

“Yes, please.”

While Hart and Colette exchanged words, the lights of the enemies and allies that had been projected with Colette intersected, and the red light spots shone loudly for a moment before disappearing.

As soon as Colette, who was ahead of them, cut off communication to enter the next warp, Fortress Kerviel also entered the next warp.

As the Royal Army approached Ōizumi, the number of enemy ships increased. Colette’s leading fleet continued its advance, sending out selected ships to drop the scout ships.

The leading fleet had already penetrated deep into Ōizumi’s sphere of influence.

If it was only Colette’s leading fleet, Ōizumi would be able to intercept with ease.

After the arrival of Fortress Kerviel, Ōizumi would have the upper hand, but it would be a battle in which they could not let their guard down.

Furthermore, if the Monarchy fleet from the Solar System arrives, the forces of the two opposing armies at Ōizumi will be equal, and Ōizumi will request reinforcements from Ten-to and Honyō.

With regard to the irregular advance in successive jumps, Hart, who prefers the concentrated use of forces, wore a somewhat disgruntled expression.

Eventually, 16,000 ships of the Royal Army’s leading fleet arrived in the Ōizumi Star System.

The reaction of the Ōizumi Star System was immediate, and the equivalent of 62,000 Tenka cruisers, which had been equipped with Daemon crystals to increase their strength, launched as an interception fleet.

The total strength of Ōizumi is estimated to be equivalent to 174,000 ships, including Daemon crystals, of which 51,600 are mothers of the National Mages, and will be re-conscripted only in the event of an emergency attack on the home planet.

Ōizumi’s original force was equivalent to 124,000 ships, including the addition of Daemons, half of which was used to intercept the preceding fleet led by Colette.

Curious for a moment at the lack of enemies, Colette sensed that the Ōizumi side had not discovered Fortress Kerviel as a result of the leading fleet advancing while destroying the scout ships.

To Tenka, Fortress Kerviel was facing conflict in the Solar System.

Perhaps they never imagined that it had reversed course from the Solar System and was advancing toward the Ōizumi Star System at an extraordinary speed.

Seeing the enemy, which was reluctant to put up a fight, Colette was instantly struck by an idea.

If Fortress Kerviel joins, it will be possible to fight in a situation where the Royal Army has 155,380 ships and the Ōizumi Army has 62,000 ships, a Force Evaluation of 100:40.

[The defense fleet is holding back. This is a chance to destroy them individually.]

Upon receiving the report from Colette, Hart abandoned the original plan altogether.

“Understood. [All fortress personnel are hereby notified. The fortress will continue to warp to the Ōizumi Star System, and together with the leading fleet, destroy the dispersed enemy interception fleet. Upon reaching the system, immediately engage in all-out warfare. Stationed fleet, all Israfel crafts, prepare to engage!]”

As soon as the order was issued, Fortress Kerviel glowed faintly, and began to leap towards the Ōizumi Star System at explosive speed.

After dozens of hours of Ōizumi’s interception fleet heading for Colette’s leading fleet, Hart and Fortress Kerviel, who had been jumping without a single break using medication, reached the Ōizumi Star System just before the leading fleet and the interception fleet came into contact.

Traveling from the Solar System to Ōizumi at a speed impossible with conventional wisdom, Fortress Kerviel caught Ōizumi’s defense fleet by surprise.

Fortress Kerviel rushes toward the interception fleet, which was confused by the sudden appearance of Fortress Kerviel.

From Fortress Kerviel, which had gained explosive acceleration, a full salvo of fusion rounds was fired. Fusion munitions can be produced inside the fortress and replenished after returning to the MacLir System. The attack from the fortress, which can be used up without any problems, was extremely fierce.

The saturated missile swarm pushed into the interception fleet, vastly exceeding the amount of missiles fired by the interception fleet.

From behind the missile swarm, 1,125,000 Israfel crafts that launched out of the fortress spread out in a fan shape and pounced on the interception fleet.

After releasing all fusion munitions and Israfel, Fortress Kerviel reversed its course to the outside of the star system at that point.

The inverted Fortress Kerviel continued to move toward the star system for a while due to the Law of Inertia, and then the regressive force prevailed and it began to head out of the star system.

The fusion rounds released from the fortress mercilessly burned down the interception fleet as Hart, who couldn’t rest while operating the magic engine, felt a sense of fatigue.

The brilliance of the giant photosphere created by the explosion of the fusion rounds is arranged in a rosary shape in the space sector of the Ōizumi Star System. One after another, the spheres of light and shock waves that were created engulfed the interception fleet and greatly disrupted the line of ships.

Eventually, towards the crumbling defensive fleet, a million light spots created by Israfel were thrust up in rapid succession from the front, top, bottom, left and right.

The information integration system of the Fighter Craft Command Center, which has been transferred from Fortress Kerviel to Collette’s leading fleet, and the battle interlocking system are guiding a million Israfel to the optimal position while reading the positions of enemies and allies.

The battle in the field is conducted in a complex and mysterious manner by androids, which are designed to be pilots during construction but in reality respond with a reaction speed that is impossible for humans, and spirits, who read the surrounding magical elements and activate the magic element engine.

Arrows of light shot from several Israfel crafts were thrust into the Tenka Cruiser-class ships, increasing the number of light spheres shining on the battlefield. The Tenka Cruiser-class ships also counterattacked, hunting down the Israfel, which had inferior defense.

As Fortress Kerviel approached the warpable sector, Bertrand raised a report.

“Your Excellency, Fleet Admiral, I have received a preliminary assessment of the battle results on the front lines. Enemy cruisers have greatly improved their strength rating. Not only has the output of the magic engine, but also the performance of the enemy ships improved as it would under the spirits support.”

Hart accepted the fact that Tenka had caught up with the unreasonable technology of the Monarchy.

The Daemons are lending their power to the Tenka National Mages that operate the magic element engine.

As if to prove this, an Israfel’s bombardment from the blind spot was being repelled by a local deployment of a shield, which is impossible for humans. Immediately after the attack was prevented, the bombardment from the Tenka ship that counterattacked pierced the Israfel.

“The C-class crystals that Janet mass-produced are like androids to humans. Most of the other party looks the same, so although it is a battle of energy, it is not a conflict between Spirits and Daemons. It was a blessing in disguise that they were not promoted.”

Hart asks for Mira’s assessment of the battle between the Spirits and Daemons.

『The pilots of the Israfel were the pilots of the Salamander, who were originally contracted with D-class crystals. What will happen to the D-class spirits if the Israfel are destroyed?』

『They will use the imitation as a shield to escape to the spirit world. Think of it as an instantaneous phenomenon in which androids buy time to protect humans. There are some individuals who fail, but no worries, that’s just natural selection.』

Hart, who was not so bold that he could remain unconcerned when told not to care, ordered Bertrand.

“Alert all troops to the improvement in the performance of enemy ships due to attaching Daemon crystals. Alert the contracted spirits through the pilots.”

Even if the danger of the enemy harming the spirits is understood, a battle is inevitable.

Hart understood after the announcement that Mira’s words and deeds, which she advised him not to worry about, would have accepted the fact.

Soon after, with the first wave fiercely clashing with the enemy fleet, Fortress Kerviel leapt out of the star system to pick up the second wave.

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