I injured myself pretty badly this weekend, and that’s been affecting my daily life in a pretty major way, so translations will be a bit slower for a few weeks.Chapter 36 - The Sunset of a Superpower (4)
Papaldia Empire, main navy forces, 3rd fleet, ship-of-the-line Addis
"The enemy has fired their cannon!!!"
Even though they were still 20 km away from the enemy ship, Japan's warship fired on them. The captain turned to the commander.
"They're still that far away from us but they fired their cannons… for what purpose? Is it a show of force?"
"I can't understand it at all. Even if their cannons have a longer range than ours, we're clearly still too far out."
They felt a slight sense of foreboding. It was a feeling they had never had before on any battlefield, a gut feeling of imminent death.
"Hard to starboard! Just in case, we should take evasive action!"
At the captain's order, the ship-of-the-line Addis languidly changed orientation. Suddenly, the ship shook violently.
There was an explosion. Various debris rained down on the captain and commander, including some human parts mixed in.
"Damage to the rear hull! There's a breach near the waterline!"
A large hole had opened up on the left side of the Addis's hull, quickly taking in water.
"This… This is bad!!!"
The Addis began to tilt, having suddenly been flooded with water.
"It can't hold! Abandon sh…"
The captain's words were drowned out by a burst of light and noise. Inside the capsizing ship, a large number of explosives were set off, inducing an explosion that erased the empire's ship-of-the-line Addis from existence.
Papaldia Empire, 3rd fleet, flagship Dios
"Ship-of-the-line Addis lost! We've… analyzed the enemy ship's attack! They have a range of over twenty kilometers, and they hit us with only a single attack!!!"
"W… wwww… what was that?! Twenty kilometers?! They have a cannon range of over twenty kilometers?! That's ten times our range…… Plus they hit one of our ships in only one shot?! If we wanted to hit a moving target, we'd have to fire a hundred times at a distance of two kilometers!!!"
"Their accuracy at twenty kilometers surpasses ours at two kilometers with a hundred attacks. So what happens when we're within two kilometers? In any case, we shouldn't jump to conclusions after just one attack."
"The enemy's cannon has enough power to sink a ship-of-the-line with only a single attack. They may simply have far more firepower than we can possibly imagine!"
The officers were shocked at the enemy's might, and they began to feel hopeless at their far superior capabilities. While they were discussing, another three ships-of-the-line had been sunk with only a single attack each.
"Our dragon knights will arrive above the enemy ships any second now."
"We're counting on you……"
Admiral Arkaon placed all his hopes on the dragon knights' assault.
Papaldia Empire, 3rd fleet, dragon knight order
"I found them!!!"
Having received direction from 3rd fleet command, the 250-strong dragon knight order spotted a fleet above the horizon. Having never seen anything so big or fast, they were completely stressed out. The enemy fleet was unconcerned with the fact that they were around 20 km away from the empire's fleet and fired their cannons, sinking a friendly ship. They didn't even use that "arrow of light" that was reportedly extraordinarily fast and precise.
The dragon knight order could no longer return. Their dragon carriers had all been sunk. Once they exhausted their wyvern lords, they would have to splashdown in the ocean. Dragon Knight-Commander Dyros prepared himself.
"All units charge! Wipe out the Japanese navy!!!!"
Believing in their status as the strongest dragon knight order, they raised a rallying cry. The 250 dragon riders of the 3rd fleet's dragon knight order dove at the guided missile destroyer Kirishima, heedless of cannon fire.
"What?! Did something backfire?!"
From what Dyros could see, the Japanese ship just blew itself up. But then, a moment later, arrows of light were coming at them at an incredible speed; it quickly dawned on him that they were being attacked.
"They have anti-air measures!!! Homing bullets of light are coming!!! Evade them!"
The dragon knights all dispersed high into the sky. The arrows of light closed the distance in the blink of an eye, hitting the dragon riders flying behind Dyros at an angle, shredding the riders and the wyverns into chunks of flesh.
"Dammit, they're too fast! We can't avoid them!!!"
Various curses flowed out of the magical communicator. The dragon knight order had been hurtling towards the enemy ship at over 300 km/h, but they felt like snails that couldn't even get into fire blast range. However, Dyros was faced with an even more disastrous situation.
It wasn't just from the ship in the front, but the one behind it, the one behind that one, and ones they couldn't even see, all of them shot lights at the dragon knights at blinding speed. Not a single attack missed, nor did any overlap with one another; they all found their targets and took down the dragon knights one by one.
"Fuck! You fucking monsters!!!!!!"
How could this happen… They were the dragon knight order, said to be the apple of the military's eye, belonging to the glorious Papaldia Empire, a superpower. At one time, it was rumored that they had even single-handedly obliterated seven armies, and they were feared as the strongest aerial fleet in the Third Civilization. Those fearsome dragons were right now being swatted by the Japanese navy like flies. War buddies with whom he survived countless battles, comrades who shared the joys and sorrows of strict training, close friends he had known since he was young, their lives were all being squashed as if mocking the work they put into their lives.
A mess of blood and muscle fell from the sky like rain.
An anti-air missile hit Dragon Knight-Commander Dyros a second later, and his awareness blinked out into nothingness.
"The… The dragon knight order has been annihilated. No damage to the enemy fleet."
The bridge was quiet. Everyone had fallen into despair. They were beginning to realize they had no hands to play.
"Ships-of-the-line Martus, Regeel, and Kamio have been lost, Tarrus has been hit…"
The only voice that continued to lifelessly break the silence was that of the communications technician. Even the 3rd fleet's Admiral Arkaon, a venerable war veteran, was speechless, sweat slowly accumulating on his brow.
The operation that imperial strategist Matal conceived would have been effective if they were fighting against Mu. However, this enemy had 100% accuracy and the firepower to sink a whole ship with just one shot of a cannon; they were basically cheating. This strategy became completely pointless, and their ships just kept sinking.
The enemy had a range of over 20 km, 100% accuracy, and their reloading speed was godly. In order to get in magic cannon range, they would have to travel at top speed for over 40 minutes. Factoring in the enemy's own speed, that time would obviously go down, but he wasn't naïve enough to believe things on the battlefield would go the way he wanted; avoiding cannon fire that accurate for 40 minutes was impossible.
Arkaon steeled himself. After all, the empire's main naval forces were the last bastion standing between Japan and the empire; there would be hell to pay if any imperial forces were to surrender or retreat. From the start, they never had any choice but to plow forward.
"All forces, charge at these invaders, these Japanese!!! We'll show them how stubborn the imperial navy is!!!"
Magic gems on every ship sparkled. Wind summoned with the Tears of the Wind God filled sails, and the fleet rushed towards the enemy's giant ships at maximum speed. Unfortunately, their ships continued being destroyed.
The Japanese escort fleet, in a single file, sailed right into the sparse, spread-out imperial formation like they were skewering it. The escort flotillas traveled 10 km into the imperial formation, demolishing and sinking every ship along the way, leaving wreckage drifting in their wake. The 3rd fleet was completely without hope.
"Japanese fleet, our warship will face you head on!!!"
The Papaldia Empire's 3rd fleet flagship, the super-F class 150-gun ship-of-the-line Dios, sailed right at the JMSDF's escort fleet. They had gotten within 20 km of each other.
"Admiral, we need to adjust course to port and get some distance from the Japanese fleet! We cannot lose command from the flagship!!!" one of the officers pleaded to Arkaon.
"Nay! Maintain our current course, the flagship cannot turn aside!!!"
"Enemy ship's main cannon is aiming at us!!!"
"Admiral! Please, hurry and change course!!!"
"I will not!!!" Arkaon roared.
Right then, the lookout shrieked a report. "We're taking enemy fire!!!"
Everyone tensed up.
"The shell is coming! Hard to port!!!" the captain yelled, and the helmsman worked the ship's wheel. The ship began to turn at an excruciatingly slow rate.
The sound of an explosion—
The ship rocked violently. Arkaon stumbled wildly, crashing into a pillar, causing fresh blood to flow freely from his forehead.
"Damage to the starboard hull! Fires have broken out! We're taking in water from the breach!!!"
The Dios clearly began to lose speed, and the ship's body slowly began to tilt. Inside the ship, gunpowder spilled all over the floor, and other objects on top of it. This ignited the gunpowder, causing a fire to light straight into the ship's magazine. The explosive pressure pierced through the ceiling and the topmost deck, creating a gigantic pillar of flame. The Papaldia Empire 3rd fleet's flagship, the Dios, split in half and sunk into the ocean.
Papaldia Empire, navy headquarters
Vice-Admiral Balus was looking out at the port. Ships were constantly leaving; pretty soon, the entire 1st and 2nd fleets will have set sail. It was reported that the 3rd fleet had already engaged with Japan's fleet.
The navy's leadership were gathered in a strategy meeting room, poring over a nautical chart. The empire's greatest mind, Matal, was also among them. As reports on the progress of the battle kept coming in, Matal became less and less able to hide his frustration. He could never have imagined this difference in ship capabilities. The Papaldia Empire and Japan, a superpower and an uncivilized country; there should have been an insurmountable gap between their fleets' abilities.
"……The third fleet flagship, the Dios, has been sunk."
"All right!" With a decisive exclamation, Matal began to speak. "Vice-Admiral! Have both the first and second fleets cluster together as close as possible and charge straight at the Japanese navy! I don't think they should be that far above our ships. Luckily, Japan only dispatched a small number of ships. In order to defeat them, we just need to crush them with numbers."
"……I'll permit it."
At Vice-Admiral Balus's order, the empire's 1st and 2nd fleets formed into a tight group and headed to intercept the Japanese navy.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, 2nd and 4th escort flotillas, flagship Ise
The bridge was receiving moment-by-moment updates about the state of the naval battlefield. Currently, the operation was proceeding smoothly. However, the number of ships currently departing from the enemy country's port made enough of a threat to cause some consternation. When they heard what formation the enemy fleet took, all the officers became tense.
"They've adopted a close order formation! But still, there are too many enemy units on our current course!"
The flotillas had already plunged into the enemy's spread-out formation like a spear, so no matter where they went there would be enemies. In spite of that, a dense cluster of enemies now appeared, intent on wiping them out.
"With the ground force's helicopters, we can attack ships outside of our main gun range, opening the way for us. To help save on ammo, we'll only fire at ships in front of us, any ships coming in from the sides we'll ignore unless they're within six kilometers. Focus on enemies in our way and keep going forward!" Fleet Commander Uchino decided.
"B-But, that's much too risky."
"With all these enemy ships spread out like this, the only way to press them hard is to destroy their core."
The discussion kept going back and forth. Other officers chimed in as well.
"I think we should sink all of their ships first, then go for their headquarters."
"The enemy's expanded way too much, that's not gonna work. Even if they can only go twelve knots."
"We should still sink as many as we can."
The officers continued debating strategy.
Papaldia Empire, ocean area 150 km south of navy headquarters
The JMSDF escort ships kept sinking more and more ships in the empire's fleet. The only sound on the ocean's surface was the constant thunder of cannon fire, and each blast corresponded to another imperial ship being sunk. Attack helicopters roamed the skies, increasing the frequency of attacks from outside of the range of the empire's ships. They used anti-tank missiles and rockets to set fire to enemy ships-of-the-line.
However, these were brave men.
Even though they knew that every blast meant hundreds of soldiers and sailors were dying, they courageously stood tall and continued forward. They truly were the guardians of the Papaldia Empire, heroically carrying out their final orders. The ocean was littered with the wreckage of the empire's ships.
"Enemy naval headquarters are now within missile range."
"Prepare three missiles, fire when ready!!!"
The sound of fuel flaring up was accompanied by flames as the SSM-1Bs on the escort ships were fired.
Papaldia Empire, navy headquarters' port
Cyrgaya, hired as a temporary worker, was cleaning around the port.
"Hey, you! You dropped trash over there! Cleaning is easy and simple, so make sure you're actually cleaning!!!"
Cyrgaya continued to work through the verbal abuse from the low-rank soldiers. Pathetic. As he was now, he was just pathetic. He gazed up at the Papaldia Empire's navy headquarters.
"That guy… he's got it made."
He felt his eyes tear up as he thought back to the class reunion the other day. Balus had showed up, revealing that he was a top officer in the imperial navy. During their student days, he and Balus were rivals. Their grades and physical training were nearly the same, he was just behind a little bit. That small difference from back when they were students accumulated over time and became immense. Now, it was the difference between the sun and the moon, heaven and earth, a god and an insect, that was what he felt.
Cyrgaya remembered Vice-Admiral Balus's words when the topic of dying in battle had come up:
"Hahaha! There's no way a vice-admiral from a superpower who never sees action in the front lines would die in battle. If it were to happen for any reason other than being assassinated, in my death throes, I would be lamenting the destruction of the Papaldia Empire itself."
"Someone who has everything in his grasp, and someone who let it all fall through his fingers…"
He grieved over the absurdity of life.
Suddenly overcome with a strange sensation, Cyrgaya looked out to sea; he had very good vision.
"?! What is that…?"
Skimming over the ocean, there were three objects closing in at an extreme speed. They passed right in front of him, heading towards the navy headquarters. He somehow understood that the empire was being attacked.
Vice-Admiral Balus may have been his rival, but he was also a good friend. He was proud of his friend.
Cyrgaya looked at the navy headquarters, concerned about Balus, and felt the need to yell out.
In the next instant, the anti-ship missiles reached the building and generated a blinding flash and a deafening roar.
The solemn, majestic navy headquarters and all its fancy decorations were consumed in an intense conflagration. Although at first it appeared to withstand the explosion, the building then crumbled to pieces, leaving no trace behind. The Papaldia Empire, who ruled other countries with fear, had one of the symbols of that fear, its navy headquarters, destroyed, and the sound of that destruction reverberated across all of Esthirant.
With this, the Papaldia Empire had lost all ability to command its naval fleet.
Boom… boom… boom…
The sounds of battle, which sounded like magic cannons being fired, could be heard from Esthirant. Aside from the few people who ventured out to see what was going on, all the residents returned to their homes, locked the door, closed the windows, and huddled together, shivering with fear from the attack on the ground base earlier.
Those who witnessed the navy headquarters at the port collapse into rubble were struck dumb.
Cyrgaya looked out to sea.
The sounds of battle were steadily, unmistakably getting closer and closer to the port. The sources of those sounds then appeared over the horizon. Gray, large, fast.
With every blast of an enemy cannon, another friendly ship sank.
"Shit! Those monsters are here!!!"
Cyrgaya froze. Nearby, the soldiers at the port ran around panicked, trying to operate the cannons installed on the port that were facing out to sea. Cyrgaya understood the threat these enemies posed and slapped his legs frantically, finally getting them to move. He ran, past the barracks, past the ammunition depot, past the all-important gun battery. He ran away from the port, got up onto high ground, then turned to watch.
The enemy's volley hit the gun battery numerous times in a row, turning it into a giant bonfire. Then, after the ammunition depot was hit, the entire port was enveloped in explosions and black smoke.
"Damn it! Damn it!! We're completely helpless!!!"
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's attack on the enemy port resulted in the complete destruction of the navy headquarters, the weapons storage facilities, and the barracks. Of the Papaldia Empire's main naval forces, 550 ships were sunk with 50 ships still at large, including some dragon carriers.
Due to this attack, the Third Civilization's superpower, the Papaldia Empire, had to consider its navy completely neutralized.
Imperial capital Esthirant, imperial palace
"We shall now begin the morning emergency meeting."
This meeting regarding the nation's crisis had no formal structure, it was simply a venue to exchange raw information. Everyone had a grim expression; there wasn't even a hint of a smile on any face. Attending the meeting were the country's top management officials, from Emperor Ludius on down. This included Remille, 1st Department Head Elto, 2nd Department Head Ranz, and 3rd Department Head Kyeos.
The meeting to decide the future of the empire, as well as determine countermeasures against Japan, was starting.
TL note: In chapter 18, the 2nd department head was named “Rius,” so I guess he died or got demoted sometime in the last 20 chapters…?
— — Chapter 37