I’m running out of stuff to write for these forewords D:
Chapter 14 – Unwanted Trouble (2)
“What a mess… We’ve certainly stepped in it now…”
Foreign Affairs official Shimada was somewhat at a loss after observing the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japan Coast Guard suppress the squadron of unknown origin that showed up to attack the Kingdom of Fenn. They had somehow got involved in an international dispute… it seemed that Japan was horribly unlucky.
However, those unknown forces clearly attacked the coast guard’s ship first, hitting the stern and causing a fire. No matter how you looked at it, they had retaliated in self-defense, so the coast guard wouldn’t be penalized.
There were also many enemy units; if the SDF hadn’t intervened, it would have been difficult to drive them all off, and Shimada himself, who had been near the palace, would have been in serious danger. The SDF clearly also wouldn’t take any blame. Having this occur when they just happened to be in Fenn was simply bad fortune. Shimada cursed his own luck.
Before things settled down, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs canvassed the area and determined the following:
- According to the Kingdom of Fenn and the military officers from other countries, the attacking force was most likely from the Papaldia Empire, a country located 500 km to the west from Fillades. They belonged to the Third Civilization and were considered one of the world’s five superpowers.
- The squadron belonged to Papaldia’s so-called “imperial oversight army,” and they were probably dispatched by the 3rd foreign affairs department, which deals with countries outside of the civilized area.
- They must have been executing a punitive strike on the Kingdom of Fenn and chose the Military Festival in order to assert their authority over all the countries in attendance. In other words, this was gunboat diplomacy.
- As reported by the JMSDF, there was a fleet of 22 ships about 200 km west of Fenn that was currently sailing east at about 15 knots.
A confrontation was imminent. That evening, although there had already been an existing conference scheduled with Fenn, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted Fenn’s department of diplomacy with some urgency to set up an emergency meeting.
A group of officials from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs waited in a guest room. While the Kingdom of Fenn wasn’t very rich, the guest room for diplomats was elegant without being gaudy; it was overall a very pleasant room. After a short time, Knight-Captain Magreb came to greet them.
“Honored guests from Japan. Please allow me to express appreciation on behalf of the Kingdom of Fenn. During the ambush earlier, your forces were incredibly adroit at exterminating the enemy forces,” the knight-captain lauded solemnly with his head bowed low.
“Not at all, our intention was not to repel the attacks on your country, we simply retaliated against an attack on our forces.”
The delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to play off their involvement. The Kingdom of Fenn was chomping at the bit to become an ally of Japan, but with the recent incident…
“Before we open diplomatic talks… we’d like to discuss more pressing matters… Your country is currently in a state of war, is it not? This unfortunately changes the situation; we do not have the authority to pursue diplomatic relations with countries at war. I think it would be best for us to return to our country in light of your situation. Once we have reviewed things, we will contact you again.”
The officials all wanted to leave Fenn as soon as possible; each second they stayed brought the enemy fleet from the west closer.
“I understand. We await your reply with eagerness. However, I want to tell you a story. The invading forces that your troops cleaned up weren’t simply from the Third Civilization, they belonged to a superpower, the Papaldia Empire. They demanded to be gifted a piece of land from our country, and we refused. That was their only impetus to attack us. That’s the kind of country they are.
“In the past, there was another country like ours that Papaldia punished with their military. Papaldia ambushed their dragon riders and massacred them. They then invaded and conquered that country. Anyone who defied Papaldia was executed; everyone else was enslaved and sold off to other countries. The entire royal family, including anyone who had royal blood, was skewered and left to rot in front of the royal castle.
“The Papaldia Empire is not only strong, but also arrogant and proud. I hope you keep this in mind.”
After being sent off with that horror story, the delegation made their way out of the palace and headed for the harbor.
At the Amanoki harbor, the view of all the warships from all the countries outside the civilized area anchored there was magnificent. However, the Japanese escort flotilla wasn’t there. Countries outside the civilized didn’t have the harbor depth to accommodate their escort ships, so the Foreign Affairs officials used the Japan Coast Guard’s Inasa to shuttle back and forth. Helicopters would be faster, but they didn’t have flight authorization in the capital (Foreign Affairs didn’t want to inadvertently scare host countries, so they voluntarily did not seek authorization), so they traveled by boat. The Inasa was anchored at the harbor, engines off, waiting for the foreign affairs delegation. People at the harbor looked at them with shining eyes and waved their hands.
“Dad, that white boat took out those bad guys from before!”
“That’s right! That storm of light bullets was amazing, wasn’t it?!”
“Yeah! It was cool!”
The crew of the Inasa waved back at the people of Fenn with stiff smiles on their faces. This was the first time they had been received so warmly.
“Oh… the suits from Foreign Affairs are here.”
The officials were quickly making their way through the harbor to the Inasa, impatience plastered all over their faces.
“Start the engine!”
“What’s wrong?! Hurry up and get the engine running!!!”
“…The engine won’t start, sir…”
The Inasa had been attacked by Papaldia’s wyvern lords and took a direct hit from a guided fire blast. Because of that, it appeared the engine would no longer start.
“Why won’t it start?! What’s the problem?!”
“…We’re not sure, sir.”
There no were technicians, so they didn’t know what to do. The foreign affairs delegation had now arrived.
“We… we can’t leave?!”
“That’s correct, sir. We believe the engine was damaged in the previous battle.”
“Can the SDF tow us away?”
“The harbor is too shallow for that. We also can’t reel up the anchor.”
“What if the SDF sent a boat to pick us up and we just left the patrol ship here…?”
“That would depend on the New World Technology Outflow Prevention Act, sir.”
“Then, what about blowing up the Inasa…?”
“We’re docked at the harbor of another country’s capital city, there’s no way we could do that!!!”
They continued bickering over ideas, but, in the end, the Inasa still couldn’t move.
“Haaah… send an inquiry home.”
The foreign affairs officials lacked the authority to come to a decision.
The Japanese government decided to send the escort flotilla to the waters on the west side of Fenn. They would then try to hold talks with the Kingdom of Fenn before the Papaldia Empire attacked. While they wanted to somehow avoid being pulled into the battle, because Japan was in this new world, the government decided that it was also necessary for them to make progress in their diplomatic efforts.
Kingdom of Fenn, palace navy
The thirteen ships in the Fennese navy, under direct control of the palace, were patrolling the waters about 150 km west of the kingdom because of the imminent war with the Papaldia Empire. The crew was comprised of elites from the Kingdom of Fenn. Less-experienced members of the navy were left out of this patrol mission and allowed to attend the Military Festival.
The navy consisted of wooden ships relying on the inefficiency of sails in order to move. If it was necessary to move while fighting, they had oars they could use to row. These ships were equipped with wooden shields, set up at regular intervals for protection against fire arrows, and three ballistae for attacking enemy ship hulls. They also had a pot of oil for their own fire arrows. The navy’s flagship was bigger than all the other ships, and it had a cannon installed on the bow.
Commander Kushira, who led the fleet, was staring at the western horizon.
“Commander, I wonder if Papaldia is really coming…”
“They already sent their wyvern lords ahead to our country… they will come!”
“…Can we win?”
“Hm… even against a superpower, we just have to fight. Don’t forget, we’re all elites here. Furthermore…”
The commander pointed at the flagship’s cannon. “Look at that beauty! It’s a magical weapon used in the civilized area! It can fire a cannon shell up to a kilometer, and it rips through ships like paper. That’s what we have on our side!” he said to the captain.
He couldn’t be anxious in front of his subordinates. However, the commander was aware that the superpowers had ‘gunboats’ that were capable of destroying ships wholesale. This was classified information. In all likelihood, gunboats were just like this one, Fenn’s strongest ship, the Sword God, equipped with these magical cannons in the civilized areas. And the superpowers had fleets of them.
The gears in Commander Kushira’s head were turning.
(Is it possible…? For us to defeat them?)
“Enemy spotted!!! 22 ships!!!” yelled lookout from atop the mast. They were finally here!
They could see the shadows of the ships on the horizon. The ship they observed through a telescope was far bigger and more advanced than the palace navy’s ships. It had a mast that balanced both form and function, and it used wind created with magic to propel the ship much faster than Fenn’s ships. The enemy fleet slowly grew as they approached from the horizon; even in Commander Kushira’s eyes, they were elegant, beautiful, powerful. From how smoothly they each moved, it was clear how refined these ships were.
“All hands, man battle stations!!!”
The crew all moved about in a rush.
“…They’re approaching faster than I expected… Kh…! Ready the first shot! We’ll lead off with our most powerful attack, then charge right into them while continuing to fire with the magic cannon!”
“Everyone, prepare for battle! Form up with the Sword God at the front, we’ll plunge right in as a giant line!”
…We’re counting on you… Navy Commander Kushira prayed to their sole magic cannon.
“We’ve spotted some ships, their flag belongs to… the Fenn navy,” came the report to Papaldia’s admiral Poquetoire.
“Fenn, huh… Since we’ve lost contact with the wyvern lord squadron, keep in mind that they might have some kind of new weapon…!” Poquetoire shouted out. “You must not treat them as simple barbarians! Show as much ardor as you would when faced with another superpower’s fleet! Crush them with all our power!!!”
The fleet sped up and headed towards the Fenn navy.
“We’ll soon be within two kilometers of the enemy fleet,” came the report.
“One more kilometer until we’re within firing range of their gunboats…” Commander Kushira said, sweat beginning to form on his brow. “Maximum speed!!! Deploy oars!!!”
All ships brought out their oars. Using a drum to establish a rhythm, they all began to row. The Fenn navy accelerated forward.
“The enemy ships are turning!”
The entire Papaldia fleet turned their ships, revealing their sides to the Fenn navy.
“What are they trying to do?!”
Commander Kushira wracked his brain to discern the intent behind their movements.
Pssssshhhhh… The enemy ships became covered in smoke.
BOBOBOBOBOBOOM… A bit later, a burst of noise reverberated over the ocean.
“It… it can’t be!!! Magic cannon fire?!”
That wasn’t possible! Magic cannons from the civilized area had a range of 1 km, and they were currently 2 km away, far outside cannon range. What’s more, the Sword God only had a single cannon at the bow, yet the enemy had… many more installed on each ship.
WOOMshh, WOOMshh, WOOMshh…
Wherever cannon shells fell, big pillars of water streamed up into the air.
Argh… don’t hit us! Commander Kushira prayed to the gods.
A ship sailing behind the Sword God was hit by a cannon shell. The shell exploded, knocking over the ship’s pot of oil, which spread all over and caught fire, quickly immolating the entire ship. Fenn’s elite sailors, with all their training, their sword skills obtained through hellish effort, were now burning and rolling around the deck in horror.
“This can’t be happening!!!”
One after another, the ships in Fenn’s navy succumbed to cannon fire. Many of them went up in flames.
“I need to distract them, just a little! Fire the magic cannon—!!!”
The cannon at the bow of the Sword God roared as it shot a cannon shell. An instant later, the Sword God was hit by an enemy’s shell, which exploded and opened up a giant hole in the deck.
“So this is… a superpower…!!!”
The number of gunboats, the number of cannons on each ship, the range and power of their cannons, and the speed of their ships; everything was an order of magnitude higher than their own ships. Commander Kushira finally realized the truth. He never imagined that there was this big of a gap. He thought “superpowers” were only called that due to the size of their countries within the civilized area. However, reality proved to be far different. Not just their size, but also their quality and the level of their technology, everything far surpassed the other countries in the civilized area. Knowing that, they probably couldn’t have defeated even just a lone enemy ship.
Commander Kushira’s consciousness was lost forever at the same time the fire burning the Sword God reached the ship’s magazine.
“The thirteen ships in Fenn’s navy have all been sunk. We have zero casualties and no damage or loss of equipment.”
“…Maybe I was being too paranoid…”
“They’re just barbarians, after all. They fired only one shot from their cannon; they had one that’s common in the civilized area, but rather old-fashioned compared to our cannons. The shell completely missed our fleet.”
“Indeed… Set course for the capital of Fenn, Amanoki!!!”
The fleet, without losing a single ship or even receiving a single wound, headed for their next target.
Comments from Deer B: