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Chapter: 6


The Independent Magic-Equipped Battalion finally caught sight of the camouflaged vessel that served as the enemy base.

The enemy invested approximately 20 large APCs with wheels, 60 bipedal tanks, and 800 combat personnel that included large numbers of Magicians.

Although this was insufficient to capture territory, this was more than enough firepower for one battle. However, they were currently mired in a state of annihilation where all APCs and bipedal tanks were destroyed and infantry losses exceeded 70%.

The force on the front line responsible for routing them was the same 40 man flying unit.

The Yokohama Incident was approaching its final stage.

◊ ◊ ◊

Completing his role as the commanding officer for the volunteers, Katsuto received a communication from the Magic Association side branch.

"The enemy vessel is departing our shores!"

Hearing that report, Katsuto's brows slightly furrowed to portray his astonishment.

"The enemy should not have been able to retreat yet."

Currently, there were no longer any enemy combatants still fighting anywhere in sight.

The unit they were fighting just a moment ago had fled after leaving a rear guard behind.

Even the surviving members of the rear guard had surrendered.

Even so, they couldn't possibly have boarded all the remnants on such short notice.

There should be still be enemy forces remaining along the coastline.

"The enemy appears to have abandoned any attempt at recovering their remaining forces. Shall we turn to eradication?"

The communications officer, whose age was roughly the same as Katsuto, asked Katsuto this question with his eyes sparkling. After bitter, continuous fighting with lots of allied losses, a vengeful spirit was only to be expected.

That being said, it was precisely for this reason that Katsuto shook his head.

"That is not our responsibility. We do not have to take unnecessary risks, so leave the rest to the JSDF."

"--Understood!"

He probably wasn't satisfied with that answer, but he didn't disobey the Magician from the Ten Master Clans responsible for leading them to victory.

From the young man's mouth, the order was issued to all volunteer units to cease combat operations.

◊ ◊ ◊

The battalion from Tsurumi came from the north, whereas a unit from Fujisawa was finally on approach from the south. From the west, there was the garrison from Tsuchiya with elements from the Fujisawa units.

Unable to sustain the pressure exerted from all three fronts, the enemy abandoned all attempts to recover the amphibious units and began to retreat.

Not that Yanagi ever intended to allow the enemy vessel that was frantically hoisting anchor to escape.

"Leave the enemies that haven't escaped to the squads behind us. We're taking the fight to the enemy vessel and taking it down!"

While it was possible to use the Mobile Suit's aerial mobility to fly over the enemy remnants on the ground and board the enemy vessel to directly assault the interior, Yanagi opted not to use that strategy due to the inherent risk and waste of time.

Using the soldiers armed with rifles that had amplified penetration power as escorts, he pulled the soldiers armed with guided missiles tipped with directional gas detonators into the center and formed an assault unit.

However, just as they were about to take flight, a voice called for him to desist.

"Captain Yanagi, please do not launch a direct assault on the enemy vessel."

"Fujibayashi, what's going on?"

Fujibayashi was the one who interjected over the intercom.

"The enemy vessel is using hydrazine fuel batteries. Sinking that vessel in Tokyo Bay would negatively affect the water quality too severely."

Yanagi lightly clucked his tongue. He wasn't going to ask why she knew something like this.

Grasping the streaming beam of electrons and using magic to backtrack the target was one of Fujibayashi's favorite magic tactics.

Fujibayashi was able to tell the difference between normal Magicians and "Boosters" simply by reading the weak brain waves from up to 1 km out. Thus, identifying the molecular composition of the massive store of fuel without any radiation screens posed no challenge for her.

"So what are we going to do?"

"Fall back, Yanagi."

"Commander?"

The transmission target suddenly changed, prompting a surprised outburst from Yanagi. This did not originate from the alteration to the change in target, but to the order itself.

"Do not misunderstand. We are not ending the battle here. Leave the cleanup of the enemy remnants to the units from Tsurumi and Fujisawa, your group is to return immediately."

"Understood."

He must have managed to organize his thoughts while receiving the message, but this time there was no hesitation in his voice.

Soldiers using the Mobile Suits to achieve flight were excellent for blitzing the enemy headquarters or launching surprise attacks on the enemy rear, but they were ill suited for combat situations like cleanup that required massive manpower and time.

In addition, even though they raised efficiency by gathering the elite troops for this, prolonged use of magic would still lead to exhaustion.

Yanagi gave the order for his troops to Return To the Base.

◊ ◊ ◊

After handing command of the battalion to Yanagi, Major Kazama led Captain Sanada, Lieutenant Fujibayashi and Tatsuya to the roof of the Bay Hills Tower.

The cleanup process (sweeping out the last of the enemy remnants and returning the combat zone to a non-combat zone) was largely finished. Although there were scattered flashes and gunfire dotted across the landscape, everything should fall silent by nightfall. In regards to the collapsed tunnel and the subsequently buried underground shelter, initial estimates believed they would be able to open a route to the shelter tomorrow.

The people in that shelter were actually in a more comfortable environment than the ones living in temporary shelters erected on the surface.

Right now, the time was 6 in the evening. Dusk -- the hour of the devil.

"Enemy vessel is at Sagaminada and heading south at 30 knots."

Lieutenant Fujibayashi reviewed the portable observation device she carried and reported this to Kazama.

"That's in the middle ground between Oshima and the Boso Peninsula. There will be no problems if we sink it there."

Nodding at Fujibayashi's words, Kazama turned to Sanada.

"Release the seal on Third Eye."

"Understood."

Receiving the key card from Kazama's hands, Sanada unlocked the seal on the large case next to him with a rather incautious, even delighted, expression.

This was a case hastily shipped to them from the headquarters in Kasumiura.

The complex lock consisted of a card key, blood pattern verification, password, and voice-print verification.

"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity"

[Password Confirmed]

The vocal response was originally unnecessary but happened to be one of Sanada's hobbies, despite the fact that this seal was no joke at all.

Inside, there was a large rifle-shaped Specialized CAD.

Sanada personally removed that CAD, "Third Eye", and handed it to Tatsuya, who was still decked out in the Mobile Suit with his helmet on.

Tatsuya pulled out the cord from the gun stock and connected it to his right wrist. The connection would run through the lines in the interior of the Mobile Suit and link directly to the helmet.

"Special Lieutenant Oguro." Kazama called out Tatsuya's alias.

"Activate Material Burst and sink the enemy vessel."

"Yes, sir."

A trace of anxiety was mixed within Tatsuya's voice.

Although the last time he used "Material Burst" was in combat 3 years ago, the success of the magic itself was not in question.

That anxiety came from his eagerness to give it another go.

Tatsuya turned to face the south and set the rifle stock against his shoulder.

"Establishing connection with observation camera in the stratosphere."

Keeping an eye on the observation device in the shape of a notepad, Fujibayashi reported to Kazama.

There was no need to inform Tatsuya.

That was because an image from the connection appeared on Tatsuya's visor -- the infrared image of the enemy vessel.

A platform equipped with cameras to watch the national border that was in the stratosphere over Japan sent the image through Third Eye's antennae.

Using the same image that Fujibayashi saw to verify the target, Tatsuya began to search for the enemy vessel's external status from the information dimension.

There were countless water droplets covering the hull. Among them, he selected the water droplet clinging to the deck that was directly above the hydrazine fuel canister.

The camera's magnification was unable to identify each individual droplet, so he used Third Eye's remote precision targeting auxiliary system and finished aiming by visually perceiving the information.

"Material Burst, activate."

Tatsuya murmured and squeezed the trigger.

The enemy vessel traveling south from Sagaminada was lulled into a sense of security.

"As expected, the Japanese military did not attempt to pursue."

"Hmph...... Those guys don't have the balls."

"Because they're afraid of a hydrazine spill?"

"It's the same thing. They could only watch as the enemy retreated to safety because they're still stuck on hypocrisy like environmentalism."

Surely soldiers from any country would resist adopting a defeatist mentality.

While they believed that they were still being observed by artificial satellites or platforms in the stratosphere, they had faith that they were no longer in danger of further attack.

This didn't exactly constitute carelessness on their part. Generally speaking, if something were to happen then the attack would have happened by now. At the very least, there should be pursuit from naval ships or aircraft.

"......Remember, we will avenge this humiliation in spades."

More than one or two officers present had already taken a fresh assault for granted and vowed vengeance.

Right now, they were just about to pass east of Oshima. Abruptly, the alarm klaxons wailed.

That was the alarm for fluctuations in psion waves, indicating that they were being targeted by a CAD's auxiliary targeting system.

"What's going on?"

The captain of the vessel must be calling for a sitrep.

That was only natural, given that there wasn't even a hint of the enemy within a 10 km radius.

Yet, the captain of the camouflaged vessel wasn't even able to finish that short sentence.

A scorching ball of light manifested on deck.

Shock waves were created because the air was rapidly being heated and the deck melted to create a flow of metallic steam, instantaneously setting alight anything flammable, which included the hydrazine, as the colossal fireball devoured the entire vessel.

The burning hell born of Material Burst could be verified on the rooftops of the Bay Hills Tower through the observation cameras from the stratosphere.

The ultimate in Decomposition Magic, "Material Burst". Magic that could decompose matter into energy.

This was not an annihilation reaction. Since this was directly decomposing matter down into energy, there was no loss of energy from the collision between electrons and positrons that would be seen in annihilation reactions. Based on Einstein's Formula, the energy created was mass multiplied by the speed of light squared.

The energy released from one drop of water, a paltry 50 milligrams of matter, was equivalent to 1000 tons of TNT.

That much heat energy was immediately released from the space that one drop of water occupied.

"......Confirmed explosion at location of enemy vessel. Visual confirmation impossible due to the steam created by the explosion, but the ship is expected to be sunk."

"Vessel confirmed to be sunk. Any danger of a tsunami?"

Tatsuya corrected his posture and inquired of Fujibayashi as she was making her report from the observation device.

"Don't worry. There's no sign of a tsunami."

"We were able to hit a 50 mg drop of water from approximately 80 kilometers out......

'Third Eye' has fulfilled its designed purpose."

Sanada gleefully reported.

Kazama silently nodded in regards to Sanada's report and congratulated Tatsuya.

"Excellent work."

"Yes, sir."

Nodding in response to Tatsuya's salute, Kazama announced the end to combat operations.

◊ ◊ ◊

Sitting alone in the bar, Zhou Gongjin received word that the vessel that attacked Yokohama had been sunk. He received a secret communique from his master who had tabs on information from all across the world.

Zhou Gongjin smiled thinly. He was not melancholic about their deaths in any way. In the end, they were only people who happened to share ancestors who dwelt in the same country. Their country didn't provide an ounce of protection at any point, but they still had the gall to demand others to slave away and provide resources for them as if it was a matter of course. He had no reason to hold a favorable impression of them, just as he bore no positive feelings towards this country's government.

It was an excellent thing that the country's strength had been weakened, Zhou thought. A decrease in national power implied a rise in economic value. If every country's national power decreased, binding laws would weaken as well, which would allow him more freedom of movement.

This time, the goal was to reduce this country's magic power by drawing large numbers of combat Magicians to their death in battle, which appeared to have ended in failure. However, the other country suffered considerable damage. Furthermore, that country was predicted to mobilize their Strategic Class Magician. His master had already arranged everything. This way, this country would undoubtedly dispatch their own Strategic Class Magician.

Which side is going to win? Or was this going to be mutually assured destruction?

Zhou gently shook the wine in his glass and revealed a malevolent smile.

◊ ◊ ◊

Returning home, Miyuki spent the night alone. It wasn't a rarity for her to be by herself.

Due to exercises with the Independent Magic-Equipped Battalion, there were times when Tatsuya was not at home.

At those times, she would definitely receive a line from Tatsuya, and today was no exception.

Also, Miyuki and her brother would always be connected no matter how great the distance.

This was no abstract or ideological concept, her brother's strength was always watching her surroundings and guarding her against all threats.

Just as he was now.

Even if she halted her interference towards her brother, her brother's guardianship would never cease.

Tatsuya would always be subconsciously watching Miyuki.

Despite his lack of choice in the matter, this idea still delighted Miyuki.

Just then, the melody from the phone rang out. Typically, this melody would not ring out.

-- Fate is beckoning --

Just as the phrase goes, this melody always decided the siblings' destiny.

She hurriedly got to her feet, and lightly groomed herself before standing in front of the camera and accepting the video call.

"Long time no see, Oba-sama."

"I apologize for the late hour, Miyuki."

"No, that's hardly the case."

Raising her deeply bowed head, there was an elegant woman dressed in a pitch dark dress smiling warmly on the other side of the screen.

While her actual age was over 40, her appearance gave the impression she was in her 30s.

Not only was the image like this, her actual appearance was the same.

Unlike Miyuki's beauty that defied description, this was a woman full of feminine charms and enchanting mature beauty.

She was the twin sister of the siblings' mother.

The current head of the Yotsuba Family.

One of the strongest Magicians in the world.

Yotsuba Maya.

"Is that so

......? Still, today was quite the hectic day."

"Sorry for making you worry."

After the concise response, she once more bowed gracefully in front of the camera.

Maya nodded leisurely at her niece's posture.

"I'm more at ease now that I've seen your face. Well, not that there was anything to worry about since Tatsuya was with you...... Speaking of which, where is Tatsuya right now?"

As if suddenly recalling this, or maybe she just happened onto this subject as Maya made her inquiry.

However, Miyuki was not fooled.

She understood very clearly that this was her aunt's true question.

"My sincere apologies. Onii-sama still has to handle some post operation duties and has not returned."

"Ah! I can't believe Tatsuya, leaving behind his cute little sister, where has he run off to squander his time?"

What a headache, Maya pressed a hand to her face and used this exaggerated motion to portray her bemusement.

"I am mortified that we have caused you to worry. I don't always know where Onii-sama is at any given time......"

In comparison, Miyuki remained in her impeccable posture and respectful attitude.

"However, Oba-sama, there is no need to worry. Onii-sama's power is always protecting me."

"Ah, that's true. Miyuki, even though you have unlocked the seal, Tatsuya can never abandon his oath."

Maya said with a small smile. That smile seemed to reprimand Miyuki for unsealing Tatsuya's shackles without Maya's prior approval.

"Indeed, it is just as you say, Oba-sama. No matter where Onii-sama goes, he will never relinquish his duties as a guardian of his own will."

Despite this, Miyuki's earnest attitude had no openings to exploit.

"Hearing you say that certainly eases my mind. Oh yes, why don't the two of you come home next Sunday. It's been a long time since I saw the two of you face to face."

"I am overwhelmed by your invitation. I will convey this message to Onii-sama when he returns."

"I look forward to it. Then, good night, Miyuki."

"Good night, Oba-sama."

The screen vanished and Miyuki let out a deep breath after making sure the link was severed before collapsing on the sofa.

She was under enormous pressure whenever facing her aunt. For some reason, she always picked the times when her brother was absent -- actually she might be intentionally picking this time -- to call in.

After this, this was their aunt she was talking about here. She must comprehend things beyond Miyuki's understanding.

Even so, Miyuki could not afford to get careless in front of Maya. Any inappropriate statement on her part would lead to further restrictions on her brother's movement.

She pulled open the curtains and gazed towards the western skies where her brother was.

In order to finish this incident once and for all, her brother was probably accompanying Kazama to Tsushima.

At least, that's what the message Miyuki had received said, and Tatsuya would never lie to Miyuki.

Her heart told her that this was necessary.

For Miyuki, nothing pleased her more than Tatsuya being needed by others.

But today, Tonight,

Her heart yearned,

And desired for Tatsuya to stay by her side. Right now, Miyuki was alone in their house.

It was far too lonely and difficult to bear the burden of the lives she took all by herself.

(Onii-sama......)

Calling out to her brother in her mind, she gently wrapped her arms around herself.

As if feeling the residual warmth from her brother's gentle embrace earlier, Miyuki's hands tightened around her body.

◊ ◊ ◊

October 30th, 2095 AD.

Today was Halloween, but since Tatsuya wasn't a Christian, the day bore no special meaning to him.

Right now, he had arrived at Tsushima Base.

Thirty five years ago, during the Third World War, which was the tumultuous period where countless wars broke out over a 20 year period, this island was attacked by the Great Asian Alliance's autonomous regional forces from Korea and 70% of the residents were massacred.

The reason was that they didn't want to provide any reason to antagonize their neighbors, leading to a situation where an island on the national border was bereft of even the minimal garrison troops.

The Korean Army also had their reasons. Simply put, that was just how those times were.

Regardless, 70% of the residents were lost, the 20% that fled incurred injuries both severe and light, with the remaining 10% of the residents captured. The simple fact of that matter was that the island had been captured.

After reclaiming Tsushima, the Japanese government converted this island into a fortress.

This was a front line base with large scale military harbors and solid walls, complete with cutting edge anti-aircraft and anti-ship weaponry.

This was Tsushima Base.

"Special Lieutenant, please come to the War Room."

The summons came over the transmission device he wore on his left ear.

From the roof, Tatsuya returned to the interior of the base.

He watched one side of the sea where traces of the Korean Peninsula could be seen.

"You're here."

Seeing Tatsuya enter the room still decked out in the Mobile Suit with the helmet down and salute, Kazama returned the salute and gestured for him to take a seat.

Although several individuals looked askance at him wearing the pitch black combat uniform with the helmet and visor down, Tatsuya didn't care in the slightest and sat in a chair near the corner of the War Room.

Slightly behind Tatsuya, Yanagi and Sanada appeared. "As expected,"

Once everyone was gathered, Kazama started speaking without any forewarning.

While Tatsuya and company were accustomed to this, many within the base were unable to hide their confusion.

"The enemy fleet is preparing to launch. Please examine this image."

A large display screen that took up an entire wall lit up and displayed photos that must have been taken from satellites. There were ten large vessels with two times as many destroyers and torpedo boats making preparations to launch.

"This photograph was taken 5 minutes ago. Based on this estimate, the enemy will launch two hours from now at the latest. Based on the scale of mobilization, rather than being a single strike, their aim appears to be occupying the Kyushu, Sanin, and Hokuriku regions."

"Are they actually planning on going to war?"

Hearing Kazama's words, one of the young lieutenants piped up. Based on his age, he must have recently been transferred to this installation.

"I do believe they've always been at war with us since 3 years ago." The slightly mocking reply came from Yanagi and not Kazama.

Flushed red with shame, the lieutenant who asked the question quickly backed down.

"My apologies. My subordinates are lacking in decorum." At the very least, he should allow the other side to save face.

"Still, the conclusion is just as Captain Yanagi said. Forget a peace treaty, there wasn't even a ceasefire negotiated between our country and the Great Asian Alliance. Seeing that there is no message detailing their fleet mobilization, it would be safe to assume that they are preparing for an offensive against our country."

Kazama once more supplied additional details.

According to international convention, large scale naval mobilizations that were for non-military purposes required notification for countries within the navigation range.

During an armistice, or simply when both sides stopped fighting, any undisclosed naval mobilization with unclear motivations could be interpreted as one country preparing to commence hostilities once more.

The atmosphere in the conference room grew tense.

"While the enemy has already finished mobilizing their fleet, regrettably, our navy only started mobilizing yesterday. Right now, we are forced to use land or air-based power to hold off the enemy's naval forces."

The atmosphere grew heavier. "A tough battle is inevitable." No one could muster a response.

"Thus, in order to break through the current situation, the Independent

Magic-Equipped Battalion will deploy Strategic-Class magic weaponry. This combat operation has already been approved by the Joint Chiefs."

The personnel from the base examined Kazama with curious and expectant gazes.

"In addition, please allow my unit to requisition the First Observation Room. Furthermore, under the assumption that the attack is successful, then at the same time......"

Kazama's explanation continued.

However, Tatsuya felt that there was no need for him to continue listening in.

His mission was to commence the attack as the 'Strategic-Class magic weaponry', nothing more.

He had already reviewed the fortress's data en route.

The First Observation Room was one of the facilities that used low altitude satellites to observe the enemy shores.

Based on that fact alone, Tatsuya understood what was being done there and what was required of him.

Just like yesterday, Tatsuya was armored in the Mobile Suit, with "Third Eye" in hand, as he stood in the center of the First Observation Room.

The screen before him rendered the images from the satellites into 3-D and allowed observation of the enemy formation from any angle. Based on Tatsuya's specifications, the current projection was from 100 meters out at 30 meters above sea level.

"Special Lieutenant Oguro, are you prepared?" Sanada asked.

"Preparations complete. Satellite link in good order."

Tatsuya used his helmet to modify his voice before replying to the orders.

"Material Burst, prepare to fire."

Along with Kazama's voice, Tatsuya hefted "Third Eye". Zhènhai Naval Port.

The Great Asian Alliance fleet gathered on the other side of Geojedo Base.

On the central battleship, a flag fluttered in the wind on what must be the flagship.

He took aim at that flag.

Using the 3-D image from the satellite as a clue, he began to seek out the information body.

The weight of the battle flag was approximately 1 kg. "Preparations complete."

He softly whispered.

Within the utter stillness of the room, that was more than enough. "Material Burst, activate."

"Material Burst, activating."

Repeating Kazama's order, Tatsuya pulled the trigger on Third Eye.

From within Tsushima Base, across the strait, directly into Zhènhai Naval Port.

Tatsuya's magic transformed 1 kg of matter directly into energy.

In accordance with Einstein's Formula, the heat energy equated to approximately 20,000,000 tons of TNT.

The screen darkened.

The excess light caused the safety features on the satellites to kick in.

Which was why they could not see the claws of hell tearing through the earth.

On board the flagship moored at Zhènhai Naval Port, the sun suddenly appeared.

This heat defied any other means of conveyance, not that anyone lived to pass this to future generations.

High temperatures that ran off the charts evaporated the metal hull into metallic steam.

The rapidly swelling air surpassed mach speed.

Amid the gushing infrared rays, shock waves, and metallic steam, the naval and port facilities vanished.

Anything within the vicinity, be they man or object, was evaporated.

People and objects slightly farther off either detonated or were burnt to ash.

The surface of the ocean was roasted by the scorching temperatures, causing countless steam explosions.

The resulting hurricane and tsunami swallowed Geojedo Base on the opposite shore.

If not for Geojedo serving as a levee, even Tsushima Base and Kyushu would have suffered the wrath of the tsunami.

The destruction was not limited only to Zhènhai Naval Port.

The shock waves struck the neighboring military facilities. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, there were no civilian cities near Zhènhai Naval Port.

After the tyrannic inferno passed on, absolutely nothing remained.

Once satellite imaging was restored, everyone in Tsushima Base held their breath without exception.

Some of the younger officers fled to the toilet to retch. No one could mock them for their weakness.

Even members from the Independent Magic-Equipped Battalion could not hide the paleness of their faces.

For the first time, they beheld with their own eyes what Strategic- Class Magic truly meant.

"Enemy situation?"

After Kazama asked, Fujibayashi frantically swept her eyes back to the observation device.

"Enemy fleet destroyed......

No, completely annihilated. Shall we attack?"

True, occupation would be a simple task now. However, Kazama shook his head.

"No need. Cancel all subsequent procedures. This operation is over."

"All units, prepare to return!"

At Kazama's order, Yanagi gave the order to retreat. Tatsuya set Third Eye on the ground.

Hidden beneath the helm, his eyes never wavered in the slightest.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Scorched Halloween.

Future historians would look back upon this day and refer to it as such.

It was a turning point in military history, just as it was a turning point in history.

This was the day that magic was proven to have surpassed mechanical, nuclear, and biological arms.

Bared before all was the truth that magic alone determined the outcome between victory and defeat.

This was the true dawn of history for the race known as Magicians, in all of its high glory and darkest suffering.

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