-Third Person POV-
In Battle. Imperial Fleet - Flagship Leviathan.
As cannonfire was exchanged between enemy and ally, Sekrit's takes command with her violet eyes wide open.
On the deck of the Leviathan, in the command post protected on all sides by iron plates, voices shouting reports overlap each other.
「One enemy ship sunk! Two ships on fire!」
「Enemy mid-sized ship approaching on starboard side―― firing Neptune cannons…… direct hit! Enemy ship completely destroyed!!」
「Receiving fire on broadside! Damage is minor!」
The overwhelming firepower of the Leviathan sends many ships to the bottom of the river.
The hull of the large ship is over 100 m long and heavily packed with 150 cannons in total.
In particular, the size of the five Neptune cannons on each broadside are larger than the rest.
The ship was able to continue advancing after incapacitating two Federation ships which tried to pincer from both sides.
It was almost like the ship was enforcing itself as the sole ruler of the water.
「Looks like the battle is decided. As I expected, Her Excellency Sekrit and this ship are both invincible.」
The adjutant smiles at Sekrit.
「No need for pointless chatter. If the enemy does not want to be annihilated, they will run soon. Get ready to pursue.」
The woman remains straight-faced as usual and answers in a harsh tone.
Sensing in her voice that she wasn't displeased, the command post let out a collective sigh of relief.
「Federation ships are changing course, they are turning upstream and retreating.」
「Give chase. Get on their ass and shoot them full of holes!!」
A small cheer leaked out at the sight of victory.
However the next report would spoil the little bit of peace in the room.
「A new enemy upstream…… it's a large ship!」
Sekrit's eyebrows twitch in discontent as she directs her gaze upstream.
「……looking at it again, it's a transport vessel. It must be carrying a majority of the landing army. Send a few ships out and sink it.」
Everyone glares at the lookout as if to say "don't scare me', making the lookout curl up and get smaller.
But the situation did not end there.
「Battleship Hanuras heavily damaged!?」
「Battleship Okinus is on fire! Continuation not possible!」
Two ships that went ahead in pursuit of merit burst into flames and start to drift unsteadily.
Sekrit let out a rare expression of shock.
「From mere transport vessels―― what is that?」
When she saw that black ship crawl out slowly from behind the transport ships, she couldn't identify what the ship was despite having seen plenty of ships and having experience watching ships being constructed.
「I- I have no clue. It isn't that big……」
The subordinates also narrow their eyes and tilt their heads.
The black ship is slightly smaller than the large combat vessels and not as big as a battleship.
What was strange about it was the shape which only roughly resembles a ship, and also the fact it had no mast for the crow's nest.
Moreover the smooth hull is completely black.
「The enemy ship……? It looks like they're undoing ropes. Were the transport vessels pulling it?」
There were ten transport vessels and the same amount of those strange ships.
The black ships fell behind the transport vessels after being cut loose.
They were moving at a crawling speed, almost like they were standing still, except they were actually slightly cutting through the water upon closer inspection.
「So slow. They're just riding on the river's current. I guess that's to be expected without any sails or oars.」
「They're coming straight at us though. In any case, let's sink them.」
With the transport vessels already out of the way, the large Empire army attacks the black ships.
The battle was one-sided.
The single horizontal line of evenly-spaced ten black ships were surrounded on all sides by the ships of the Imperial fleet and each of them, after turning to the side, fired their broadside cannons.
The line of ships could not do anything against the tremendous amount of concentrated cannonfire of so many ships…… that should have been the case.
「The enemy ships―――― have not been destroyed! They are unscathed, no damage was done!」
The staff officers exclaimed "impossible" and "there's no way".
Sekrit's eyes also widen in surprise before strongly gritting her teeth.
The bombardment continues.
Over thirty Imperial ships have completely surrounded the ten Federation ships and are having a field day firing their cannons.
「Are they……deflecting everything?」
The noise could be heard from the Leviathan as well.
It was certainly different from the typical sound of hulls breaking. It sounded like the cannonballs were bouncing off a sheet of metal.
A black ship finally counterattacked after taking the countless projectiles head-on.
Numerous cannon barrels appeared on the ship's broadside.
「Battileship Inuris is being shot at! Fire has broken out――!」
An Empire ship is abruptly bombed and it retreats in a hurry while on fire.
Using that attack as a trigger, the other nine ships also launch their volleys, the sounds of destruction echoing throughout the river.
The 30 vs 10 quickly became 20 vs 10, then 15 vs 10.
「The high-speed combat ships don't stand a chance!」
「The cannonballs aren't working! They're being crushed one-sidedly!」
「Have the battleships come this way.」
Sekrit's orders were relayed immediately using smoke signals and flags.
The fleet of battleships rushes over, easily catching up to the slow black ships.
「Battleships begin firing.」
A bombardment of a greater magnitude than before is directed at the ten Federation ships.
The staff officers and adjutants smile thinking that this would be enough, only to stiffen their faces again not long later.
「The enemy's armor has been damaged. ……That's all.」
The lookout sounds forlorn as if he is witnessing an illusion.
The enemy fleet was dented in a few places after the attack.
Besides the appearance worsening, no significant damage seemed to be dealt, and the ships cruise along like nothing happened.
The Imperial battleships were greeted with a bombardment in kind.
「W-what is that ship!? Battleship cannons don't work on it!」
「Is it some sort of sorcery!? Is there a magician on the Leviathan? If so, bring him here!」
The staff officers start to panic.
It was something which probably happened on all the other ships too. With the fleet in disarray, the ship line began to shift apart.
The word 'defeat' is finally creeping into the minds of all the crew members, including even Sekrit.
（No, I can't lose. Think. There's no way the Federation would use something so uncertain as sorcery.）
Sekrit shakes her head to clear any weak thoughts before shouting.
Her voice resounded distinctly through the sound of booming cannons and stop the shaken individuals from speaking.
「It's not sorcery. Open your eyes and look carefully.」
Sekrit pulls out her sword and points the tip at the enemy ships approaching slowly but surely.
「That is the color of steel. The enemy ship has nothing more than steel armor.」
The staff officers are not convinced.
The important parts of the Leviathan are also covered in a layer of steel.
It was still unthinkable for steel to survive such a barrage without a scratch.
「Idiots, take a look at the draft.」
The waterline is extremely deep for all ten ships.
Seeing that, a few staff officers let out quiet comments.
「That sluggish speed, the thick draft, the incredible defensive strength, they're just a large mass of steel. The hull structure itself is made of steel.」
「That's not possible!」
「A mass of metal won't float in the water!」
Sekrit doesn't understand how an object made entirely of metal could float on the water either.
However she knew the Federation's technology is above that of the Empire's and the fact is it's being shown right in front of her.
Arguing is meaningless.
「Shut up. That phenomenon is happening right before us. It's not black magic or an illusion. Our enemy is a lump of metal. 」
Before they knew it, all the Federation ships have changed course and are heading towards them again.
With the black ships…… the steel ships in front, the Federation intends to challenge them to a decisive battle again.
「Close the distance. Blast them with the cannons at close range. Climb on board if you see the chance. They're nothing more than a mass of metal. We'll definitely wreck them.」
The staff officers look at each other, nod, then let out an enthused shout.
Their enemy might be powerful, but there is no reason to be excessively scared after understanding what they're up against.
They are also veteran soldiers.
「The first fleet will engage the enemy fleet.」
「The third fleet will devote everything to shoot the enemy and attract their attention.」
It was the start of the second act.
The endless chorus of booming of cannons created by the Imperial fleet's even more terrifying bombardment and the Federation fleet's own roaring cannons was loud enough to make it feel as if the end of the world was coming.
The countless cannonballs dropping into the river made it seem like the water was boiling.
The Imperial battleships close the distance as much as possible according to Sekrit's instructions.
Naturally the steel ships counterattack with a bombardment of their own, but the ship's own weight is too heavy for many cannons to be installed, so the firepower of the ships is not as outstanding as their defense. There was no way all the battleships would be slaughtered at once.
The battleships launch a volley at the steel ships at a range close enough for the ships to collide with each other, hitting the steel hull hard.
The armor was ruthlessly dented in all places and a part of the superstructure breaks off into the water.
Excitement rises amongst the Empire crew members after dealing the first signs of damage…… then a flower of blood blooms on the deck after suffering a counterattack.
The steel ships get damaged one by one, but the state of battle still tilts in favor of the Federation.
Damage was dealt. However it was exceedingly inadequate to stop the steel ships.
No matter how much the armor is dented or how much the superstructure breaks off, the ship itself doesn't sink and neither does it stop firing its cannons.
Meanwhile the Empire suffers heavy casualties from running so close to the enemy ships to fire, many ships burning up, filling up with water, and then sinking.
「Your Excellency Sekrit, we have dealt a blow to the enemy. But at this rate……」
Because the Empire's attention was focused on the steel ships, the Federation's other battleships are starting to apply pressure as well.
If they aren't cleaned up quickly, the Empire will surely suffer defeat.
「……even a close range bombardment from the battleships is not enough? Damn Federation, how annoying.」
Projectiles fly when an approaching steel ship gets close enough.
The cannonball that hit the Leviathan's right side digs into its armor.
「Counterattack. Show them this ship isn't your average battleship.」
The five giant cannons on the starboard align their sights.
「Target…… locked! Fire!」
The roar of the giant cannons is accompanied by a burst of flames and a speeding projectile.
Four of the cannonballs miss and sends pillars of water rising while the last shot directly hits the bow of the steel ship.
The loud metallic thunk and flying sparks was almost like a bolt of lightning hit the ship.
The black hull of the steel ship was shaken.
「Did we do it―― gugh!」
The moment one of the staff officers opens his mouth, the front of the steel ship glows and rains direct hits on the command post.
Iron plates surround the command post, but it isn't durable enough to withstand a barrage from large cannons.
The staff officer who leaned his body out lost his upper half and causes all the others, including Sekrit, to fall down.
「Even the Neptune cannons are no good……」
「We have no more options……」
Sekrit stands up in silence amidst the air of despair.
（I won't yield to the Federation. Until I die.）
The Leviathan was left in silence without anybody to take control for a brief moment when the command post was destroyed.
One smaller combat vessel realizes the abnormality with the flagship, closes in, and squeezes itself in between the steel ship and the Leviathan.
The corners of Sekrit's mouth lift up slightly.
「Signal Battleship Aguille with the flags. Hard to port.」
The signaller looks at Sekrit in surprise.
If Aguille cuts to the portside, it would collide with the steel ship.
「Can't you move faster?」
The signaller hastily relays the message and Aguille faithfully carries out the order…… and rams into the ship's side.
Cracking sounds like a tree snapping can be heard. Of course the one being destroyed is the solely the Aguille.
「Your Excellency, even if you crash the Aguille, the load on the ship is too heav――――」
Sekrit is not planning to listen to any opinions from her staff officers.
（This is my fight. Shut up and watch.）
Sekrit doesn't tolerate any objections and yells with the expression of a demon.
「Fire all cannons. Shoot the Aguille!」
Everyone was startled when they were ordered to shoot their own ally.
It was clear by Sekrit's ghastly face that dissent or hesitation would not be forgiven.
「B-begin the bombardment, fireー!」
The countless cannons concentrate on the Aguille and the pitiful battleship was shot to pieces by the flagship it was supposed to protect.
The ship was so far damaged that it couldn't maintain its shape and multiple fires started to spring forth.
――――and then Aguille, being a battleship with cannons despite its small size, naturally has plenty of gunpowder stored within the ship.
With a blinding flash of light and a pillar of fire, the gunpowder inside the ship ignites the Aguille and turns it into a giant fireball.
The shock crashes into the deck of the Leviathan.
The ship's crew takes cover while Sekrit clings to the iron plate of the destroyed command post and keeps watching the ball of flames.
Eventually the flames settled, and what remained was a steel ship that sank like a rock with the shattered Aguille fragments and bow destroyed.
「That's one down. On to the next one.」
Sekrit isn't listening to her subordinates anymore. She just gives out orders.
The Leviathan unfurls its sails to pick up speed, leaving the escort ship behind and heading towards another steel ship.
「Run into it. The enemy is slow, I won't forgive you if you miss.」
The helmsman looked like he wanted to say something but kills the thought and charges the ship into the steel ship.
The steel ship starts to desperately counterattack the giant ship coming in at full speed.
Cannonballs land with loud thuds, the cannon on deck is blown away, and the mast breaks, yet the order doesn't change.
「It will result in a draw if we run into the steel ship! Please reconsider―― gyaaaaaah!」
Sekrit pulls out her sword and slashes the staff officer who tried to offer his opinion.
It couldn't be more obvious that she wasn't willing to hear anyone's thoughts.
It was right before the moment of impact.
「Hard to starboard!!」
The turn at full speed tilted the Leviathan greatly to the left.
The ship was so slanted that everyone on board felt the fear of the entire vessel capsizing, and it was right when the bow of the steel ship scraped the left side of the boat when it happened.
All the cannons were unleashed at a close enough distance where someone could throw a rock across to the other ship, moreover the incline of the hull made the cannons aim at the opposing ship's weak point, the draft, instead of the upper portion.
Having their waterline destroyed, water fills the inside of the steel ship and the vessel rapidly tilts to one side.
「Turn the ship, port 30 degrees!」
The Leviathan moves like a hungry monster chasing after its next prey.
Bathing enemies crowding around with cannonfire, the ship charges at another steel ship.
「Charge with the naval ram, don't hit it perpendicular…… port now!」
The Leviathan approaches the steel ship like it will charge with a naval ram, then changes direction right before the collision.
No cannons were fired this time, it was a charge scraping the stern.
There was a dull sound and multiple soldiers fall to the deck, Sekrit herself also tumbled out of the command post.
「Naval ram damaged! Bow cannons lost! The enemy ship is……tipping over!」
（A head-on collision would sink us too. Their draft is thick and there is no distance between them and the water. If you run into their bow or stern and throw them off balance, this is what will happen. It's only possible with the Leviathan's weight though.）
Sekrit stands up, brushes the dust off her clothes and returns to the destroyed command post.
Both enemy and ally alike are astonished at the Leviathan's crazed fighting.
The Imperial fleet gives chase to protect their flag ship while the Federation fleet gives chase to prevent their trump card steel ships from being destroyed any further. The fight is only getting more chaotic.
「Hmph, looks like they didn't see what we did the first time.」
A battleship shoves itself in the path of the Leviathan which is sailing towards another steel ship.
Sure, the opponent is different but the situation is the same.
The Leviathan exchanges shots with and instantly pulverizes the Federation battleship.
Continuing forward into the ruins of the battleship, the Leviathan pushes the scrapped vessel into the steel ship trying to get away.
「You're so slow that you can't run away even if you know what's coming.」
The Leviathan tears itself away from the three-ship dumpling and fires the giant broadside cannons at the battleship, sinking the steel ship together with the battleship accompanied by fire and explosions.
A large number of cannonballs crash into the deck from somewhere, causing corpses of soldiers and splashes of blood to scatter everywhere.
The laugh of a woman cuts through that hellish scene.
「F-fourth ship annihilated……」
The lookout sounded stiff when he gave the report.
As cannonballs fly through the air, he could not help but think Sekrit is insane when she laughs while taking down enemies.
「What about the other ships?」
Sekrit stops laughing and only moves her eyes to look at her subordinate.
Not liking how her subordinate didn't reply immediately, she let out an angry yell next.
「Trash! Have the other ships destroyed the steel ships!?」
「Ma'am! One has been rendered powerless by concentrated cannonfire, two have been boarded by the soldiers who are engaging in close combat.」
「So there are three left.」
The battle is tilting in favor of the Empire again.
Having the reliable steel ships sink one after the other apparently had huge effects on the enemy morale.
「Damage status on the ship?」
「There is moderate flooding in the bow and starboard, the fires have been extinguished, two sub-masts and the armor on the portside have been lost.」
「Naval ram and 12 bow cannons lost, 8 cannons on starboard lost, 4 cannons on port lost, 3 Neptune cannons lost, 24 on-deck cannons lost.」
（So we lost only one third of our strength. I can still do this.）
Sekrit lifts her head up, and was about to give the order to head to the next steel ship.
「An enemy is coming, a single unit from the starboard side!」
「A single ship? A battleship or steel ship?」
The lookout hesitates briefly to build up his determination before closing his eyes and shouting.
「I-it's a single cavalry! An enemy is coming at us riding a horse on the water!」
Sekrit grabs the lookout coldly, throws him to the ground and pulls out her sword.
「Stop with the ridiculous――」
「It's true! Confirm with your own eyes!」
Sekrit, while still holding onto the man's collar, glances at the water.
After rubbing her eyes once in disbelief, her clenched teeth loosens and her jaw drops.
She certainly saw a single cavalry running on water.
Federation VS. Empire - Comparison of Military Forces (Current + Losses = Max Mobilization. In the case where numbers don't match, it means there are spare forces.)
Olga Federation 「Zabrela Naval Battle off the Coast」
Military Strength - Current: 1 090 000, Max Mobilization: 2 550 000, Losses: 1 460 000, Civilian Victims: 980 000
Military Strength - Current: 1 390 000 (460 000 of which are military slaves), Max Mobilization: 3 100 000, Losses: 2 170 000 (Military slaves not included)
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 24 years old. Early Spring.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.
Army under command: 105th Division Provisional Army: 5000 men
Accompanying: Celia (charge), Natia (charge), Leah (top), Marta (bottom)
Brynhildr (in poor physical health), Pipi (charge), Sofia (big-breasted)
Messerschmitt (worthless dog), Schwartz (horse), Mirumi (gathered), Yakov ( )
Assets: 13,000 gold
Sexual Partners: 450, children who have been born: 55 + 555 fish