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Zuihou LN - The Fortunate Seas, the Phoenix's Sky
Zuihou LN - The Auspicious Seas, the Phoenix's Sky
Prologue: You and I
The evening sun submerged gently into the horizon.
As always, I make my way to the Destroyer's aft deck to watch the sea and sky, dyed alike with the crimson of sunset.
As always, I made my way to the Destroyer's aft deck to watch the sea and sky, dyed alike with the crimson of sunset.
Thud thud thud; the sound of light footsteps reaches my ears.
Thud thud thud; the sound of light footsteps reached my ears.
"You're here again. Is the sea that pretty?"
"Yo, so it's you..."
This fellow, clad in stark navy white, is a colleague from my graduating year, Iwahashira.
The kind of lighthearted fellow who'll start singing with just a bit of alcohol.
His personality is like his name - a stone pillar, neither easily bent nor easily broken, ready to openly retort to teachers and peers alike. Being in the same class, I often found myself running penalty laps with him as collateral damage.
Having thus been provided the training of a marathon runner, this Iwahashira and I proceeded to shatter quite a few long distance speed records at the Naval Academy.
He walks alongside me, leaning on the railings as he looked into the sunset.
He walked alongside me, leaning on the railings as he looked into the sunset.
"Mhm...Well, the view is actually bretty gud, but don't you get bored doing this every day?"
"It's not like I'll be able to see it once we're back landside."
"Ahaha, I quite like shore leave! Whoo-hoo~ Love ya, red lanterns~"
"You haven't even drank yet, so don't you start with your singing. The Lieutenant Commander's going to beat you again."
The so-called Red Lanterns, of course, indicate the small bars/Izakaya found landside. Izakaya are indicated by red lanterns hung at the entrance.
To be quite honest, they're a little too noisy inside for me.
Iwahashira broke into laughter:
"Aren't you being a little too uptight? Those things won't show up in waters so close to the homeland. Of course, it's not like I've run into any in the outlying waters either."
"I kind of really want to see them..."
"Don't be silly, you know what happens to the fleets and crews that end up engaging them, right? A lot of people have died already."
"I know, that's why I want to see our 'enemy's face."
"I think you'll be fine with photos."
"...I'm not going to refute that."
Humanity's "enemy;" on a certain day, they had emerged from the deeps, indiscriminately attacking both ships and planes. Their goals remain unclear, and negotiations have proved impossible.
Since their appearance, they have proved undetectable to the newest radar, and invulnerable to the most modern armaments. Since then, all major shipping lanes on the seas and above them have been cut, and quite a few cities had also ceased to exist.
——Our world is currently facing a massacre.
Iwahashira vindictively pounded that railing.
"But you know, we can't just give in like this. Y'know, I heard from a drinking buddy over in R&D...hey, lean in a bit...apparently, the higher-ups are running trials on some secret weapon."
"Tch tch tch, looks like our nation's deepest secrets have already been infiltrated by Izakaya spy rings."
Given, this isn't something funny.
Sighing, I felt perturbed.
Iwahashira, that secret weapon you're talking about...does it work on those things?"
"Eh, according to the R&D mekboyz, they've managed to sink one or two of 'em."
If they had truly found a way to fight back, it would be a great boon for all humanity.
And then, with a rumble, the ship reared.
It must have impacted something in the front.
——Did they get bached? No, that couldn't be right; there should be no sandbars or formations ni these waters.
——Did they get beached? No, that couldn't be right; there should be no sandbars or formations in these waters.
I begin to look around.
I looked around.
From my position on the aft deck, I can see that the two destroyer escorts starboard were now positioned in diamond position behind the capital ships.
A defeaning blast next to one of these ships threw up a pillar of foam and mist, taller than the ship itself.
A deafening blast next to one of these ships threw up a pillar of foam and mist, taller than the ship itself.
"Awww shit! Did it get hit?!"
He stared with wide eyes, tightly clutching the railing.
The waves intensified, a giant one rocking the hull back and forth.
That is the "Enemy."
Sirens on the intercom--all hands, prepare for combat.
We would need to hurry over.
Just as we begin to dash for the bridge, Iwahashira calls out:
Just as we began to dash for the bridge, Iwahashira calls out:
"Oy, behind you!"
And as I turn my head around, a giant——thing—— nearly the size of a warship floated onto the surface.
And as I turned my head around, a giant——thing——nearly the size of a warship floated onto the surface.
It looked like a giant female human.
But its height surely exceeded a hundred meters, and giant turrets rested upon its shoulders.
In each hand was some kind of structure nearly as tall as itself, bristling with guns and turrets that looked like they belonged on a battleship.
The details and components are closer and more detailed than anything seen in the photos--we're far too close.
That surface couldn't be made of iron or concrete or anything organic--it was tough and yet motile, beautiful when wet.
Based on previous data, this would be the Battleship Ru-class, considered one of the enemy flagships.
In the face of this terrifying specter, I am immobilized.
In the face of this terrifying specter, I was immobilized.
Yanking me from my trance onto the deck, that would be Iwahashira.
Almost immediately after, the aft turret on our Destroyer opens fire with its single gun, a roar of defiance.
Almost immediately after, the aft turret on our Destroyer opened fire with its single gun and a roar of defiance.
Though the cannon is pretty small as far as naval guns go, the roar is enough to echo through the stern. If I had been standing at the railings, there was a chance I would have been blasted into the sea.
Iwahashira and I lie sprawled on the deck as we waited for the smoke to clear.
We were covered in soot.
"Sorry about that, Iwahashira."
"As long as you're alright."
At this range, there should be some kind of damage even if it's not all that effective.
I looked behind me.
But the sight that awaited me was unbelievable.
Firing at this range, there should be no doubt that the shell hit!
And yet Battleship Ru-class was unharmed.
How can we fight such an enemy? We are like ants, against an enemy far greater in strength than stature.
"That bastard, is she shooting at us?!"
This time around, the enemy vessel erupted in gun blasts.
The sound hit before the shells did——it was only when the gun blast had penetrated the body that the bridge of our destroyer was sent flying.
The unsociable captain, our strict superior, and our cheerful seniors/senpai, everyone——"
Another sharp blast tore away the rear turret. A moment later, a shard of mangled steal fell, leaving tendrils of flame and smoke in its wake. In spite of crew's best efforts, the fire seemed to be intensifying. Terrible howls and anguished moans filled the air.
The destroyer had taken a mortal wound. The fire was creeping towards the barbettes——and, underneath, the ammunition storage.
And we on the deck had run out of cover.
Could we be saved if we jumped into the sea? Though the ship was now pitching such that standing was near-impossible, it should still be possible to roll off the railings.
But, our comrades were still fighting desperately against the fires.
——How could I just flee like this?!
"Ahhh, that's right!"
I ran for the rear barbette.
"Oy! Do you think you can put out that fire? Or do you have a death wish?!"
"Iwahashira, you're running?"
"W-what'chu talkin' about, you?! Me, run away alone? I'd die from shame!"
He, too, stood up, following after me——
The third volley hit.
The target must have been the destroyer's stern——in other words, the coup de grace.
Iwahashira was caught in that flash.
We were sent flying by the impact.
I'm going to die here, huh——I prepared for that possibility as a new shockwave racked my body.
I felt a sharp impact to my head.
Was it a second, or was it a moment...? Either way, I tumbled into senselessness.
When my eyes opened again, I lay on the deck, my up to my waist in water. It must have been the cold that woke me up.
The destroyer was now tilted as a shocking angle--the entirety of the stern was now under the waves, and yet the ship clung onto the surface.
Even so, it was clearly and slowly sinking; but it looks like the ship's design had saved me from a death by drowning.
That's some good luck.
The third volley had blown away the remnants of the turret entirely. Thanks to this, the fires around the ammunition storage were quenched——or, perhaps, the storage had already become submerged before the fire had reached.
"Ahh, where's Iwahashira?!"
I look all around me.
It appeared that he shared the same good luck that I did——like me, Iwahashira was also half-submerged, collapsed on the deck.
I let out a sigh of relief.
He seemed to have been knocked unconscious as well. But I'm fine——surely he would be as well.
Carefully moving to avoid slipping on the wet deck, I inched closer to him.
"Oy! Get up! Iwahashira! If you're a real stone pillar...eh?"
A lot of blood.
I grabbed Iwahashira's bleeding shoulder and shook, shouted, called his name.
But not once did those closed eyes open.
Cold, like the sea.
That face that had always been laughing, was now transfixed in an expression of pain.
"W-why?! Why you?! Iwahashira——"
The sound of water being displaced reached my ears.
I clutched ice-cold Iwahashira and glared at it.
That bastard that was now closing in on the sinking destroyer.
With its huge body.
Reflecting the glow of sunset, it gave off a metallic feeling, even as it moved with the dexterity of a sea creature.
I forced my parched throat to spit out the "Enemy"s name.
"The Abyssal Ship"
That is the existence that is slowly exterminating humanity.
The gunfire from the support ships...was gone.
What's going on?
Were they holding their fire to avoid hitting the crippled, sinking destroyer? Even so, it was far too quiet.
Could it be, that our fleet was wiped out?
I felt as if I had swallowed a stone.
There must be others who survived like I did. But, if there are no functional ships remaining, we're out of luck.
"Sorry, Iwahashira...it looks like there's no way I'll be able to bring you back to shore..."
A few drops of blood fell onto his face.
It must be because I was hit in the head. It's leaking from behind my ears.
My vision is blurring.
The Battleship Ru-class is now heading towards this destroyer, the guns on its arms all trained in this direction.
We're about to sink anyway, and yet it comes to deliver the deathblow...does it hate humanity so...?
I prepared for death.
But it was in that moment that a tinny sound reached my ears.
The sound of a fan, strong enough to shake the air.
"What is that?"
While it wasn't a common sound, it wasn't alien to me.
An electric fan? That would be my first thought, but that wasn't it——is this a prop plane? The sound came from above.
I looked up once more.
From the Destroyer's Engine room billowed a cloud of smoke. But, silhouetted in that shadow was something headed this way.
It was a prop plane!
I had seen data about that in the academy.
"But, why...that's a...Type 99 Dive Bomber?"
This bomber, with its water-drop landing landing gear, was an anachronism in this day and age.
The Type 99 Dive Bomber dove from above my head, dropping the bomb clutched to its blely.
The dark tube of metal plunged at the enemy Ru-class.
As expected, an explosion that shook the destroyer once more.
Clutching Iwahashira in my right hand, I covered my face with the left.
——Were the higher ups now using this kind of thing?
But, against creatures which were proof against the newest weapons...
The air shook once more.
That a howl from the creature.
That was the first time I heard it, an Abyssal's scream.
"D-did it actually work?!"
Immobilized by my shock, I could only stare blankly at the scene.
That enemy, which had taken a point blank shot from the modern product of man's ingenuity and lived, was now retreating, clutching a wound on its face.
Was now, retreating?
Could it be, that that explosion from the Type 99...had caused those wounds?
I began to truly question whether I was dreaming.
That "enemy" we had taken to be immortal had just been wounded by an obsolete, anachronistic prop plane's attack. Who would believe that?
As if to fuel my doubts, the shrill voice of a young girl spoke out over this messed-up, hopeless sea.
And, that voice spoke as if in song, as if it were singing some kind of happy tune.
"Those Type 99 Bombers, their feet sure are cute."
——Am I dreaming? Is this some kind of hallucination?
That's a young girl.
Dressed in white robes, with a red Hakama, she was dressed like some kind of priestess.
Long grey hair bound with a red-and-white cloth, blown by the wind in her wake.
In her hands was an ancient sort of bow, with an arrow topped with a decoration like a prop plane.
What is htat?
Could it be, that she has something to do with that type 99 Dive Bomber?
Moreover, that girl was standing on the water's surface. No boat or equipment was visible——she was deadass straight up standing on water.
That's no normal girl. (literally: she's not simple)
Maybe that impact to my head knocked a few screws loose.
But either way, I could not tear my eyes away from her.
She drew her bow as she let fly with her arrow——
A burst of dazzling light.
With that, the arrow transformed into several Type 99 Dive Bombers, their Kinsei air-cooled engines roaring as they raced for the skies.
Lost in the sight, I could only exclaim,
Did she hear my voice? With an expression of shock, the young girl hurried over with an expression of shock.
In the distance, the dive bombers rushed in, attacking the other abyssals. Several enemies, smaller by far than the Ru-class, let out shrieks of anguish and explosions as they began to sink.
Sinking?! Bretty Gud :DDDD!
For reasons I myself could not understand, I unconsciously reached out with my hand. Even so, I knew that no matter how hard I tried, I would not be able to cross that gap.
"You...what is your..."
"Eh?! U-um! Head! You're bleeding?!"
My senses faded away.
It might be relief from seeing the enemy destroyed; alternately, it could just be that I've lost too much blood.
As my vision faded, I felt myself hurtling into the darkness.
Why did I bother asking her name? Asking that mystery of a girl.
To be able to destroy all those abyssals, that girl must have been far stronger than I. But to have such a cute face——how shocking, how unbelievable.
Ah, Iwahashira...if this isn't just some elaborate illusion, maybe I'll be able to get you back on shore after all.
Sorry, you're going to have to wait a while in the afterlife.
There's still a bit of something I need to do on this side.