This is a huge chapter, twice as long as chapter 4, so I decided to post the first half once I got to a good stopping point rather than waiting until I finished it. This is mainly because I’ve been busy lately with Christmas shopping and reading other books, so I’m not sure when I’ll actually finish the rest of the chapter.
Anyway, this chapter corresponds with the prologue from the light novel, according to a friend. It’s a lot more fun than all the war councils and descriptions of battles, to me, so I hope you enjoy it!
Chapter 7 – Side Story: Contact with Japan (Kua Toine’s side)
Rewinding the clock a bit…
Principality of Kua Toine, foreign affairs bureau
The foreign affairs bureau interacted with many countries. It was currently in the middle of preparing a delegation to visit Japan, an emerging nation, prior to establishing diplomatic ties.
“Yago! Sounds like you’re on the delegation to that new ‘Japan’ country! You lucky dog, I wanted to go too!” shouted a coworker.
International delegations were fairly common. There were many countries in this world, and rulers and country names changed often, especially in more moderate countries. Larger countries also sometimes broke up into smaller ones.
There were dangers on the road and while visiting other countries, so it was also not uncommon for there to be injuries or deaths while on a mission. The destination oftentimes had lower standards of living. (Kua Toine’s cuisine was, rare for a so-called “barbarian” nation, considered to be on the same level as the Third Civilization’s.) They also frequently had problems with sanitation, disease handling, and/or security. This made delegation work generally undesirable.
However, this mission was to a country that was attracting a lot of attention. The preparation materials given to the delegates contained completely outlandish stories: Marl Patima’s and the 6th dragon squadron’s accounts regarding the iron dragon that could outperform a wyvern in both speed and altitude; the navy’s report regarding a 230-meter metal ship with no sails.
“These can’t all be true…” Yago kept thinking over and over.
Wyverns were priceless weapons, and dragon knights were the cream of the crop, admired by all soldiers as champions of the sky. The same way an average soldier couldn’t compete with a mounted knight, an average knight couldn’t compete with a dragon knight; an entire cavalry regiment wouldn’t stand a chance against a wyvern. They could reach speeds of 230 km/h, fly out of bow range, generate fireballs that completely overpowered human-made weapons, and their scales could repel both arrows and knives. The only tamed beast stronger than a wyvern was the “wyvern lord” that was being bred in low numbers in the major civilizations.
Indeed, the only things humans could not tame were specific types of dragons, such as ancient dragons or holy dragons. These were basically considered natural disasters, so the thought of humans taming them were dreams within dreams. It would be impossible for even the Second Civilization’s Mu to create something the size of a wyvern yet superior to it in every way.
However, unbelievable as it was, Japan’s flying machine was in fact seen in action in the skies above the commercial city Myhak by numerous witnesses, so Yago had become quite interested in them.
(This delegation is a chance for me to make it big…)
“Let’s start the meeting.”
His thought process was interrupted by the sudden declaration. The five delegates, four of whom were various officials from the foreign affairs bureau as well as General Hanki from Military Affairs, sat together in a small conference room. The chief delegate provided a detailed explanation.
“Our primary objective this time is to evaluate whether Japan is a threat to our country. As you know, our aerial defensive measures are completely ineffective against Japan’s iron dragon. We lack any means to defend against that weapon.
Currently, Japan indicates that it wants to establish diplomatic ties with our country, but, in truth, we know nothing about their aims at all. Whether or not they’re a hegemony, or whether they’re like Rowlia and discriminate against demihumans, we need to determine the real reason they want to align themselves with us.”
Everyone nodded in agreement.
“We don’t know what kind of nation Japan is, but we do know for a fact that their military technology is very advanced. I believe you all already know this, but we need to be resolute in negotiations while at the same time trying not to provoke them. Keep this in mind when considering both your words and your actions.
One last point: be on the lookout for both Japan’s strengths and weaknesses. I would like us to identify at least one aspect where we can be considered superior to Japan. Now, please look at the handout being distributed.”
A new document was handed out to everyone. The delegates all furrowed their eyebrows as they read.
“This was very surprising to hear, but they told us that their entire island was sent to this world from their previous world. We have no idea what this means or how it happened.”
This revelation was somewhat plausible; Japan claimed their island was in an area previously thought to be unoccupied, but also full of dangerous navigational hazards. It was unthinkable for a typical emerging country to appear out of nowhere, let alone one with such an advanced society. An entire country transferring worlds… it almost sounded like one of Mu’s myths.
The superpower of the Second Civilization, Mu, had a myth saying that, 12,000 years ago, there was a “large continental transference.” This was said to be based on an official governmental record dating back to that time, and Mu’s people sincerely believed in it, but other civilizations simply considered it a fairy tale.
“As you can see in this document, Japan has offered to provide transport via their ships this time. We will depart around noon in one week’s time. Make sure your preparations are complete by then.
We arrive in the evening two days later at a city on the western side of Japan called Fukuoka, where we will be hosted at an inn. There, we will spend three days learning Japanese customs and rules to facilitate our time in Japan. According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if we were to go out on our own without understanding those rules, there is a high chance of being trampled to death by a kind of carriage known as a ‘car.’
On noon of our fifth day in Japan, we will use a transport system called the ‘bullet train’ to leave Fukuoka and travel to the capital city Tokyo. We will arrive in the evening, then meet with the Japanese government the next day.”
Hmm? This schedule seemed strange. According to the document, after 2 days at sea, we were landing in the evening in Japan on the south side of the island. Except… Japan was 1,000 kilometers from Kua Toine; that’s not a distance that can be sailed in only 2 days. Furthermore, the distance between Fukuoka and Tokyo was also 1,000 kilometers, but we would be leaving at noon and arriving in the evening? If we were traveling by way of the iron dragon that appeared in our airspace, it might be possible, but the document said that the ‘bullet train’ was a vehicle that traveled by land.
Apparently, our stay in this country would require us to relearn common sense from scratch.
One week later
The delegates gathered at the biggest dock in Myhak. The weather was very good that day; there were few clouds in the beautiful blue sky, and the temperature was cool. A man in a suit spoke to them.
“Honored delegates, it gives me great pleasure to accompany you on this trip to Japan. My name is Tagami, and I have been sent by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure that your journey is as comfortable as possible. I am here to provide any assistance you might require. If there are any inconveniences, please do not hesitate to inform us.”
“Are we traveling by boat?” one of the delegates asked gloomily.
“General Hanki, you seem to be unwell, is something the matter?”
“Yago, I’m with foreign affairs for today, so drop the formalities.”
“Ah, in that case—Mr. Hanki, is there a problem?”
“Well, it’s just, when I think of boats, I can’t be excited about it… ship voyages are rough, you know? You gotta worry about capsizing, for one, and natural light can’t get into the ship so below decks it’s dark, smelly, and humid. Then, for long voyages, you have to worry about diseases, and the only food to eat is preserved or salted.
Moreover, it’s hard to get clean water; we’ll have to ration water, so I won’t be able to wet my throat whenever I want. Well, this trip is only supposed to take two days, so I would be able to deal with it, but… only two days from the foreign affairs bureau to the country of Japan? There has to have been some kind of translation mistake, because that’s not possible unless we’re going at some kind of godly speed.”
“I was also thinking that there was something weird with the schedule. But, well, when you consider Japan’s iron dragon, maybe we’re using our own common sense too much when thinking about it.”
It would soon be time. From the shadow of a nearby island, an island-sized white ship appeared.
It was huge! And there weren’t any sails!!!
The gigantic ship laid anchor on the coast, prompting Tagami to speak.
“The ship laying anchor there is the one our country has sent to transport you all. In truth, we originally planned to dock here, but, unfortunately, the water level isn’t deep enough, so we have to lay anchor out there. If everyone will please board the speedboats, we will use them to get to the ship.”
Shortly afterwards, 3 small boats emerged from the ship, coming to the port at unbelievable speeds while roaring loudly. These boats didn’t have sails either.
“Excuse me, Mr. Tagami…” Hanki called out.
“Yes, what is it?”
“Um… that ship, as far as I can see, don’t have any sails, how does it move? The small boats as well, I don’t see any oars, so how are they so fast? …Are… are they like the First Civilization’s magic-powered boats?”
“While I am unfamiliar with the ‘First Civilization’s magic-powered boats,’ these boats are powered by a diesel engine.”
“Yes, it is a type of machinery. By igniting heavy oil and harnessing the resulting energy to power a propeller at high speeds, you can achieve propulsion.”
“I see… I don’t really get it, but that sounds pretty amazing.”
The group divided themselves among the speedboats and left to board the large passenger ship. Once inside the ship, the delegates were astonished. It was bright—there must be a light spirit on board.
“This… this ship… it’s made of iron, but how does it float…? And it’s so bright and roomy inside…”
Each delegate was assigned a private room, and they each passed the time relaxing.
Excerpt from Yago’s diary entry for that day
For better or worse, everything stunned me today. I’d never seen, heard, nor read of anything like this giant ship before. More than that, it was very comfortable inside; it was brightly lit, and the temperature somehow didn’t fluctuate at all. And even for a ship of this size, we sped through the ocean like an arrow. I wonder how the country of Japan was, seeing that they’re capable of making an amazing ship like this?
Within the foreign affairs bureau, everyone though they were barbarians from a developing country. Now though, while I won’t say it and would never admit it, maybe, to them, we’re the barbarians…
I wonder if Japan even has the power to rival a superpower from the major civilizations…
2 days later
“Everyone, Fukuoka has now come into view. Fukuoka is the largest city within the regions of Kyuushuu, Chuukoku, and Shikoku. You can see Hakata Port over there. We will take a shuttle from Hakata Port to the New Nikko Hotel, where you will learn basic knowledge about Japan.”
Hakata Port could now be seen from the deck. The streets were lined with high-rise buildings, and the city bustled with activity. The shuttle bus came after a short wait to take them to the New Nikko Hotel.
On the ship, we heard from Tagami that the thing called a “car” used a special device called an “internal combustion engine” to move, but we didn’t think there would be many of them in use. However, from what he said, nearly every household in the nation had a car. While there were some differences in the qualities of different cars, the average, working, twenty-something adult could afford to purchase a car. How luxurious!
We learned all about contemporary Japan at the hotel. There was the traffic light system; vending machines; the ticket turnstile system; the railway system; and, most importantly, common laws such as the one stating that picking something up does not mean it now belongs to you and you will be punished by the law if you are caught. They assured us that, while many things we encounter might seem miraculous, they were just based on scientific concepts so they would be easy to replicate once you knew the underlying mechanisms.
How interesting… so when these “traffic lights” are green, the “cars” are allowed to move however they want, otherwise they have to be stopped.
“Mr. Tagami! Mr. Tagami!” Hanki called out.
“How can I assist you, Mr. Hanki?”
“This city appears to be quite well-developed. Is the capital also as developed as Fukuoka?”
“Indeed. The population in the capital is incomparable to here, so the high-rise buildings will be taller there. The subway system also has more than just a few lines; they’re spread throughout the city in a giant network. The city center is also very large.
However, while it is shameful to admit, Fukuoka overall is more scenic and picturesque than Tokyo is. Compared to Fukuoka, Tokyo is much more… haphazard, and also not as clean.”
“Hm, I see… Mr. Tagami, another question, I would like the chance to observe the Japanese military, but I imagine that would be impossible?”
“Our country does not have a military. Instead, we have what is called a Self-Defense Force, but… hmm, may I ask you to wait for a moment?”
Tagami took out a small, blinking plank, put it next to his ear, and began speaking to himself. It appeared to be some kind of magical communication tool, but, if so, it was extremely small compared to our own…
“Mr. Hanki, as luck would have it, there will be an air show tomorrow at the Air Self-Defense Force’s Tsuiki Air Field. It’s something like a demonstration for regular citizens to learn more about the Self-Defense Force. I can arrange for your attendance, if that is amenable.”
“Ooh, if I’m allowed to attend, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you!”
Hanki seemed very pleased at the opportunity to observe Japan’s military.
“Is anyone else interested in attending the air festival? I can reserve additional seats if so.”
“I would also like to go,” Yago said, raising his hand. In the end, only Hanki and Yago would be attending the air show.