Kidou Kishi Warviour
(Mobile Knight Warviour)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in Strike Witches, nor the initial setting.
Chapter 12: Knights and Witches
I.S.S. Buffalo. April 26, 1946; 2055 hours
"And that's all you have to say?" asked Otto Schneider in his office in the I.S.S. Buffalo with "Wan", whom he knows as "Kenta Aoi" beside him with Siegfried Bauer facing them both.
"Aye, Captain," replied Bauer.
"Very well," added "Wan". "You're to be confined to your quarters until we've talked to Vice Admiral Alon."
"Dismissed," ordered Schneider.
Bauer saluted with Schneider doing so in kind. The former began to leave the office of the latter.
"I hope you're happy?" asked Schneider as he turned to "Wan". "Bauer may have disobeyed orders but without him, how can I still accomplish my mission?"
"I suggest we wait until we hear from Vice Admiral Alon first," answered "Wan".
U.S.S. Mayflower. April 27, 1946; 1040 hours
"I can hardly believe what I'm seeing," said Shizuka Hattori, fourteen years old with long black hair tied into a ponytail at the rear of her head and brown eyes, as she saw the League of Nations' prototype Mobile Knights with Mio Sakamoto and Yoshika Miyafuji beside her.
"I was surprised too that such machines existed," replied Yoshika.
"And we intend on having these mass-produced in Liberion," added Sakamoto.
"But we're still fighting Neuroi," said Shizuka as she turned to face Sakamoto. "These Mobile Knights don't have a Magic Engine."
"I honestly don't know what will happen next but we best count on D- I mean, Khyber. Now get into your Striker, Hattori."
"Ryōkai," replied Shizuka.
The LNX-01 Warviour, the LNX-02 Wardier, and the LNX-03 Wardar were brought to the Mayflower's flight deck. Likewise with Sakamoto, Yoshika, and Shizuka. Sakamoto and Yoshika moved to the entrance of the carrier's island while Wardier and Wardar, respectively piloted by Chieko Oka and Kei Miyazaki, moved to other positions across the Mayflower's flight deck. Both Shizuka, armed with an orange-colored Type 99-2 cannon and in her N1K-J Shiden Striker Unit, and Shinta Himemiya, in the Warviour, waited until Sakamoto authorized their launch.
"Himemiya, Oka, Miyazaki, you're objective for this exercise is to hit Hattori with the paint rounds in your respective Mobile Knights' machine guns," explained Sakamoto while using her transceiver. "However, your paint rounds must hit Hattori and when I mean hit her, not her shield. In addition, you have to accomplish this in one hour. Is that understood?"
"Yes, ma'am," replied Shinta, Chieko, and Kei in unison on the other end of the transceiver.
"Hattori, launch!" ordered Sakamoto to Shizuka.
"Ryōkai," replied Shizuka before launching with Shinta paying attention as he knows that Sakamoto will contact him next.
"Himemiya, wait for my order," ordered Sakamoto to Shinta over Warviour's communicator.
"Ryōkai," replied Shinta.
Sakamoto saw Shizuka in the air. She looked at Warviour again as she knew that she's the only one who can authorize Shinta to launch. After looking at Shizuka again, Sakamoto turned to Wardier and Wardar, already waiting for her order to fire. Sakamoto then returned to the transceiver, ready to give her next order.
"Himemiya, now!" ordered Sakamoto.
"Ryōkai," replied Shinta on the other end of the transceiver. "Ikimasu!"
Shinta then moved Warviour. As he propels his Mobile Knight into the air, Sakamoto began to tune in to a particular frequency.
"Oka, Miyazaki, start firing but aim at Hattori only," ordered Sakamoto to Chieko and Kei.
"Ryōkai," replied Chieko and Kei in unison through the other end of the transceiver.
In the air, Shinta began to fire Warviour's anti-personnel machine gun yet Shizuka spectacularly evades Shinta's shots. Both Chieko and Kei are unable to fire as they know, even if Sakamoto hadn't told them, not to fire at Shinta even if it's accidental. Both Yoshika and Sakamoto watched Shizuka and Shinta with amazement.
Shizuka-chan's improved since last year, thought Yoshika.
Finding her window of opportunity, Shizuka turned and fired the paint rounds of her Type-99-2 but Shinta evaded. Shinta fired in kind but Shizuka summoned her shield and after blocking Shinta's shots, Shizuka fled again with Shinta pursuing her.
Plenty of room to improve for Himemiya, thought Sakamoto.
April 26, 1946; 1736 hours
"This seems to be in order," said Sakamoto in the Mayflower's lecture room while looking at a particular document with Shizuka before her.
"I apologize for this," replied Shizuka followed by a bow.
"It's alright, Hattori. I'll talk to the Captain. We'll be heading out for Liberion soon."
April 27, 1946; 1120 hours
Suddenly, Sakamoto was interrupted by Shinta, or rather Warviour, diving toward the Mayflower while Shizuka fired but to no avail. However, Shinta diverted Warvaiour away from the carrier, confusing Shizuka.
As a result, Chieko and Kei fired their respective Mobile Knights' machine guns toward Shizuka. The latter brought out her shield but she was unaware that Shinta, now above her, was aiming at her.
Shizuka flew upward to escape and caught Shinta. However, Kei saw that Shizuka left herself exposed and fired his machine gun with Chieko doing the same. Just as Shizuka aimed at Shinta, she heard that a paint round hit her Striker Unit.
I've been hit? pondered Shizuka.
The Fusoan Witch stopped pursuing Shinta to see what happened. She found that a paint round hit the left "leg" of her Shiden. Shinta stopped flying to see what Shizuka saw. Watching from the Mayflower, Sakamoto used her transceiver.
"Hattori's hit," announced Sakamoto. "We stop for now."
"Ryōkai," replied Shinta, Chieko, and Kei in unison through the other end of the transceiver.
"That was amazing" exclaimed Kei while having lunch with Shinta and Chieko at the mess hall for enlisted in the Mayflower. "You allowed us to take a shot at Hattori-san!"
"How did you devise that idea?" asked Chieko.
"Hattori Shoi may have fought in the last war but it's clear she can be too focused on one target," answered Shinta.
"Not exactly a polite way to put it but I guess that's kind of the truth," replied Kei.
"You know, it's gotten lonely ever since Yoshika-san re-joined the military," added Chieko.
"What can we do?" asked Shinta before putting the spoon he filled into his mouth, chewing the food from the spoon, and swallowing it. "Yoshika-san is a Witch. We're enlisted so we shouldn't talk to Witches too much."
"Shinta's right," added Kei with disappointment in his tone.
I.S.S. Buffalo. 1301 hours
In one particular room, Segismundo Padolina arrived to see Caroline Weber remove a tray with a plate and cup that were now empty.
"Sub-Lieutenant Padolina, what are you doing here?" asked Weber.
"Agent Aoi asked me to have Lieutenant Bauer brought to the bridge," answered Padolina.
"I see," said Weber before going the direction opposite of Padolina's.
Padolina then proceeded to knock. He straightened his arms because Bauer was still his superior officer despite being confined to his quarters.
"Who is it?" asked Bauer from the other side of the door.
"Sub-Lieutenant Padolina," replied Padolina. "Permission to enter?"
Padolina opened the door. As Bauer saw Padolina, he stood up with Padolina stopping to salute. Bauer did so in kind.
"I heard your conversation with Weber," said Bauer before Padolina opened his mouth. "Shall we proceed to the bridge?"
"… Yes, sir," replied Padolina.
Both Padolina and Bauer entered the bridge. After finding Schneider and "Wan", the former two saluted Schneider. Schneider stood up from his chair to salute in return.
"Agent Aoi and I have finished talking to Vice Admiral Alon," explained Schneider. "As a result of your insubordination, you'll be transferred to our supply base in Ceylon."
"Aye aye, Captain," submissively replied Bauer.
"Any clarifications we can entertain?" asked "Wan" with a smug grin.
"No, sir," answered Bauer.
"Then I suggest packing up now. We'll meet up with the Beluga for additional supplies tomorrow."
"Dismissed," said Schneider.
After the three Imperial Stavrosian Navy men saluted each other, Padolina and Bauer left. The former felt anxious but managed to keep it from Bauer.
That intelligence agent must have planned all of this, thought Padolina.
U.S.S. Mayflower. 2150 hours
That night, Shinta Himemiya practiced his martial arts again at the Mayflower's flight deck. Unbeknownst to him, Yoshika Miyafuji watched from the entrance of the carrier's island.
I know I shouldn't be doing this as I re-enlisted but why is it that I feel drawn to Shinta-san? pondered Yoshika. And what happened to me when I boarded the Shinden? Was it because I was scared of what would have happened had I didn't help Shinta in Victoria?
"There you are," said Shizuka Hattori, interrupting Yoshika.
Yoshika turned to her comrade and put her right index finger in front of her mouth, making a sound to make sure Shizuka kept quiet. The latter understood but opened her mouth.
"Why are you here?" quietly asked Shizuka.
"I honestly don't know," answered Yoshika before looking at Shinta again. "The way Shinta-san practices his Keiiken feels as if I've seen it before… "
"Keiiken?" asked Shizuka as she unaware of the martial art Shinta practiced.
"A Chinese martial art. I forgot how Shinta-san told me how it was pronounced in Chinese but Shinta practices martial arts to connect himself to his Chinese heritage?"
"Himemiya Nitosuihei's Chinese?"
"Dr. Himemiya took him in after the civil war in Nánguó."
"I can see the two of you," announced Shinta.
Both Yoshika and Shizuka came out of the island with their guilt evidently from their body language. Shinta crossed his arms as he knows he will be in trouble if caught talking to both Yoshika and Shizuka and that they interrupted him.
"Sorry about this," said Yoshika.
"It's alright," replied Shinta. "However, you better get out of here soon before Sakamoto Shosa catches us."
"Before that, I have one question," announced Shizuka.
"Yes?" asked Shinta.
"Why are you in the military?"
"… I feel as if being in the military can help me uncover my past. Hearing of the name 'Stavrosian Empire' gave me a feeling that I should fight and I want to know why."
"I see… "
"I best get going," said Shinta as he proceeded toward the Mayflower's island.
April 28, 1946; 1007 hours
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the I.S.S. Buffalo met up with the I.S.S. Beluga, the first of the supply submarines named after her of which the I.S.S. Hunchback belonged to before she was attacked by the forces of the U.S.S. Mayflower. After the conveyor belt connected the Beluga to the Buffalo, the catapult of the latter opened with Otto Schneider, "Wan", Siegfried Bauer, and two armed sailors leaving to meet their counterparts from the Beluga. From the Beluga, three men left their submarine to see their counterparts from the Buffalo.
The three men consisted of the Beluga's captain, a man in his mid-fifties with auburn hair. Behind him were his guards, wielding the same rifles as those of Schneider's guards. The two groups stopped upon making eye contact. Everyone but the guards saluted each other.
"Thank you for coming all this way, Captain Fitzgerald," said Schneider. "Also, I apologize for having to meet you."
"An order's an order," replied the captain named Fitzgerald. "Allow me to take custody of Lieutenant Bauer."
"Thank you," replied Schneider before gesturing his guards to give Bauer to Fitzgerald's guards.
After going to Fitzgerald's guards, Bauer faced Schneider one last time and saluted. Afterward, the three men proceeded back to the Beluga.
"Now then, Agent Aoi made a request?" inquired Fitzgerald.
"That I did," answered "Wan".
Near Toumika, United States of Liberion; 1249 hours
"We're almost there!" exclaimed Kei as he, Shinta, and Chieko saw the Golden Gate Bridge, one of Toumika's many hallmarks.
I never thought that I'd actually go to Liberion, thought Shinta.
"I suggest you three return to your respective rooms before we dock," said Mio Sakamoto as she appeared behind Shinta, Chieko, and Kei.
"Ryōkai," replied Shinta, Chieko, and Kei in unison after turning to Sakamoto and saluting.
Shinta, Chieko, and Kei rushed back to the Mayflower's island. Sakamoto then looked at the Golden Gate Bridge.
We're finally here, thought Sakamoto as she smiled.
Naval Air Station Alameda, Alameda; 1339 hours
The Mayflower, along with the U.S.S. Izard, reached Naval Air Station Alameda, operated by the Liberian Navy. As both ships were docked, the gangways were connected.
Mio Sakamoto, Gregory Tanaka, Shizuka Hattori, Yoshika Miyafuji, Shinta Himemiya, Chieko Oka, and Kei Miyazaki began to exit the carrier. However, two Marines stopped them.
"What's going on here?" asked Sakamoto.
"Please return to your respective rooms," ordered one Marine. "We need to secure this vessel and its cargo."
"No choice," said Sakamoto in defeat. "Everyone back to your rooms."
U.S.S. Mayflower. 1428 hours
At the Mayflower's briefing room, Sakamoto, Tanaka, Shizuka, Yoshika, Shinta, Chieko, and Kei were brought by the Marines who boarded the carrier. To their surprise, three men, two of whom were high-ranking officers, were in the room with Nicholas Kirkman and Koji Himemiya. A Marine stood elsewhere as he carried a wooden board with four pieces of paper tied by red strings.
"Please take your seats," ordered Kirkman to the men and women brought into the room.
As Sakamoto, Tanaka, Shizuka, Yoshika, Shinta, Chieko, and Kei sat down, Kirkman, Koji, and the three men they were talking to faced them.
"I apologize for what happened but we couldn't just let you leave," said Kirkman. "I will now allow these gentlemen to introduce themselves."
"Joel Forrestal," said the sharply-dressed man. "Secretary of the Navy."
"Lieutenant General Aaron Vandergrift," said the man in olive beside Forrestal. "Commandment of the Liberian Marine Corps."
"Fleet Admiral Clayton Nimitz," introduced the man in white to the left of Vandergrift. "Chief of Naval Operations."
"Allow me to apologize again for keeping you in this vessel," added Forrestal. "You did a wonderful job protecting this carrier and the prototype Mobile Knights. However, we still have things to go over before we let you disembark from this vessel. Admiral Nimitz will explain."
"Since this vessel left months before, its mission was to be a secret," explained Nimitz. "However, the attack on Fuso's South Seas Island has exposed the project to civilians. Then the attack in Victoria two days ago added additional exposure."
"We will now entertain questions," added Vandergrift with Sakamoto raising her hand.
"What will happen now?" asked Sakamoto. "We've delivered the Mobile Knights."
"They will be brought out of the Mayflower as they're to be delivered to Hill Air Field," answered Nimitz. "Most of you, including Dr. Himemiya, are to accompany the Mobile Knights."
Shizuka raised her hand next.
"Yes, Pilot Officer Hattori?" asked Forrestal.
"I was to rejoin the 501st Joint Fighter Wing in Europe," said Shizuka. "Would I still be able to go to Europe?"
"We've already arranged for that though you still need to accompany Lieutenant Commander Sakamoto and the others," answered Forrestal. "Next question?"
"Yes, Lieutenant Tanaka?" asked Nimitz when Tanaka raised his hand.
"You said 'most of you'. Does that mean all of us aren't going to Hill?" asked Tanaka.
"Yes. We've heard from Captain Kirkman about you dropping the bomb on that Stavrosian submarine. As a result, we've decided to re-assign you to Ault Field where you're to learn how to conduct torpedo bombings against Stavrosian submarines. Any questions about that?"
"No… Admiral," replied Tanaka.
"Next question, please?" asked Forrestal.
"I have one," said Sakamoto as she raised her hand again. "What of Private First Class Howard and Privates la Salle and Farnham."
"They will remain here in the Mayflower."
"Thank you, Mr. Secretary."
"Any more questions?" asked Vandergrift.
No one answered. The three men took the silence as a no.
"Very well," announced Forrestal. "Lieutenant Commander Sakamoto, as well as Seaman Recruits Himemiya, Oka, and Miyazaki, please come forward."
"Roger that," replied Sakamoto, Shinta, Chieko, and Kei as they left their respective seats and came forward to Forrestal, Nimitz, and Vandergrift.
"Due to your courageous actions from South Seas Island up until now, we have been asked by the Fuso government that you three be promoted," announced Nimitz with Vandergrift gesturing to the Marine with the board to come forward. Nimitz then got one piece of paper tied in red and faced Shinta.
"Seaman Recruit Shinta Himemiya, from today on, you're to be promoted to Petty Officer First Class," stated Nimitz before handing over the paper he carried to Shinta.
"That will be 'Ittoheiso' in Fusoan," added Sakamoto to Shinta followed by the latter saluting Nimitz.
"Thank you for this honor, Admiral," said Shinta before Nimitz saluted Shinta.
Vandergrift then got another piece of paper to give to Nimitz. The latter proceeded to Chieko.
"Seaman Recruit Chieko Oka, although you have no magical abilities, you have demonstrated your bravery time and time again," said Nimitz to Chieko. "You're government has deemed it necessary that you're to be promoted to Petty Officer Second Class."
"That's 'Nitoheiso'," reminded Sakamoto to Chieko.
"Thank you, Admiral," replied Chieko as she acquired the paper from Nimitz before saluting.
As Nimitz saluted in kind, Vandergrift gave the third paper to the former. Nimitz then proceeded to Kei.
"Seaman Recruit Kei Miyazaki, like with Miss Oka, you will be promoted to Petty Officer Second Class," said Nimitz before giving the paper to Kei.
"Thank you, Admiral," replied Kei before saluting.
"I congratulate all of you," added Nimitz to the three Fusoan teenagers. "I wish you all well."
"Salute the Admiral," ordered Sakamoto.
Sakamoto along with Shinta, Chieko, and Kei saluted Nimitz. The latter did so in kind along with Vandergrift and Kirkman. Forrestal then faced Tanaka, Shizuka, and Yoshika.
"Except for Captain Kirkman and Lieutenant Commander Sakamoto, all of you are hereby dismissed," announced Forrestal.
"That will be all," added Sakamoto.
Everyone, including those seated, saluted before leaving. Sakamoto, Kirkman, Forrestal, Nimitz, and Vandergrift faced each other.
"This is now in relation to Pilot Officer Hattori's question," announced Forrestal. "Lieutenant Commander, I ask that you keep this to yourself for the time being. We will send an update later on."
"Roger that," replied Sakamoto.
That night in the enlisted bunks, Kei looked in both directions before going to the suitcase he packed up for the journey since Shinkyo. As he opened it, he dug through the contents to find a calendar that contained revealing photographs of Federica Doglio, the commanding officer of the 504th Joint Fighter Wing, for each month.
Grabbing a pen, Kei found the page titled "Aprile", where Doglio posed a chef. Kei then crossed out the "28". Kei then put down the pen but instead looked at the calendar.
I really need to come up with a- thought Kei.
"What's that over there?" asked Tanaka as he appeared behind Kei.
"… Tanaka Dai-i?" asked Kei. "It's nothing!"
Kei hurriedly hid the calendar within his suitcase and faced his superior officer.
"Nothing, huh?" asked Tanaka. "Come on, please tell me!"
"Are you sure you want to look?"
"I may be your superior but we're both men. Come on!"
"… Fine," replied Kei in defeat.
Kei opened his suitcase again. Tanaka began to dig through the bag and found the calendar. What he found was a picture of Doglio with her red-colored dress shirt open. Tanaka then smiled and squinted toward Kei.
"Please don't tell!" begged Kei.
"Why would I!?' rhetorically asked Tanaka. "I promise to keep this between us men."
"T… Thank you."
"Just go to bed already. It's a busy day tomorrow."
Naval Air Station Alameda. April 29, 1946; 0948 hours
Sakamoto, Tanaka, Shizuka, Yoshika, the Himemiya men, Chieko, and Kei had already left the Mayflower. However, they had yet to board the US6 6x6 cargo trucks prepared for them. On a truck similar to the one Sakamoto helped steal in Orussia from the Stavrosian forces months ago were Warviour, Wardier, and Wardar. Another truck shorter than the one carrying the Mobile Knights, carried the Launch Units respectively carrying Shizuka's Shiden and Yoshika's J7W1 Shinden.
"Thank you for everything, Tanaka," said Sakamoto.
"If I may, Lieutenant Commander, I should be thanking you for taking me in until this moment," replied Sakamoto. "In any case, I hope we can fight together again."
"We hope so too, Tanaka-san," added Yoshika.
"Sarabada," said Tanaka before separating from the Fusoans.
"We best get going ourselves," reminded Sakamoto.
Sakamoto, Yoshika, Chieko, and Shizuka boarded one US6 as they were girls and it was needed for girls to be together. The Himemiya men and Kei had to board the other US6. Afterward, the trucks began to leave.
Ogden Union Station, Ogden. 1209 hours
The Fusoans had now disembarked for the city of Ogden in the state of Utah. As they stepped out of Ogden Union Station, they found two US6s waiting for them.
"How much longer to Hill?" asked Kei.
"After this," answered Koji.
Again were the Fusoans split with Sakamoto, Yoshika, Shizuka, and Chieko in one US6 and the Himemiya men and Kei in another US6. As the US6s left the station, they were joined by the trucks respectively carrying the prototype Mobile Knights and Yoshika and Shizuka's Striker Units. The three trucks proceeded out of Ogden to Hill Air Field.
Hill Air Field. 1315 hours
The three trucks made it to Hill Air Field. After a truck with Launch Units, each carrying a Striker Unit entered, the guards let the two US6s and the truck carrying Warviour, Wardier, and Wardar in. As the three trucks stopped, Sakamoto got off the US6 she rode on. In his US6, Shinta saw old planes, mostly P-40 Warhawk fighters, and turned to Koji.
"Dad, why are those planes left out here?" asked Shinta.
"Those?" asked Koji as he glanced to see the Warhawks before turning to Shinta. "If I remember correctly, this place was where old planes were to be relocated."
"Forget old planes, I spotted some Striker Units," interrupted Kei. "And they're not old."
"What do you mean?" asked Shinta.
"Mitte," said Kei as he pointed to another truck that had come inside the base.
Kei and the Himemiya men saw the truck unload the three Launch Units it carried. Two of the three Launch Units carried a Bf109 Striker Unit, one of which being a Bf109G-6 while the other one was a Bf109K-4, whereas one Launch Unit carried a Ta 152 Adler Striker Unit.
"Those are Bf109s," said Koji. "What are they doing here?"
"Not only that, there's a Ta 152," added Kei. "Other than the Bf109s, the Ta 152 is new and yet it's here in Liberion."
"What are you staring at?" asked Chieko Oka as she appeared with Yoshika Miyafuji with her, surprising Kei and the Himemiya men.
"Chieko, Yoshika-san, what are you doing here?" asked Kei.
"We've been assigned rooms," answered Chieko. "Come on out and get your luggage."
"… Right," replied Kei.
Kei and the Himemiya men prepared the belongings before joining Chieko and Yoshika.
"Where's Sakamoto Shosa?" asked Shinta.
"Sakamoto-san went to talk to the base's commander," answered Yoshika. "She took Shizuka-chan with her."
"Why is that?" asked Kei with suspicion in his tone.
"What do you mean?" asked Chieko.
"A bunch of Striker Units just showed up here," answered Kei. "Three of them are Karlsland-built."
"Why don't we continue on to where our rooms will be?" asked Koji. "I'm sure we can know further if we keep going."
"Dad's right," added Shinta.
The Fusoans were then joined by a Liberian Army soldier with blond hair and green eyes. As they continued on across the base, Kei and Yoshika took notice at more Striker Units having been brought to the base.
Wait, those Striker Units, they look familiar, thought Yoshika as she saw a Spitfire Striker Unit, a VG.39bis Striker Unit, and a G55 Strega Striker Unit.
The Liberian soldier then brought Yoshika, the Himemiya men, Chieko, and Kei to a particular room with a bunk bed and a normal bed. In addition, a bookshelf, a desk with pencils and other writing equipment, and an oil lamp were also provided.
"So who's staying here?" asked Chieko.
"This will be for Petty Officers Himemiya and Miyazaki, as well as Dr. Miyazaki," answered the soldier before facing Chieko and Yoshika. "As for your rooms, that will be up to Lieutenant Commander Sakamoto to sort out."
"I see," said Yoshika.
Suddenly, another soldier with brown hair and blue eyes appeared and rushed to the soldier who escorted the Fusoans. They began to whisper to each other with the Himemiya men, Chieko, Kei, and Yoshika curious as to what was being whispered. The two Liberians then finished and faced the Fusoans.
"We've been ordered to take you, except for Dr. Himemiya, to the briefing room," said the soldier with blond hair. "We have to be there by 1400 hours."
What's really going on here? pondered Shinta.
Shinta, Chieko, Kei, and Yoshika just before the door to the briefing room. Mio Sakamoto was by the door when the former four arrived. Both parties saluted each other.
"Good, you're here," said Sakamoto. "Before you proceed, I will entertain questions but please whisper them. I cannot tell you the specifics yet but you'll be working with another unit and that because it's a secret mission, the details cannot be divulged yet until you'll meet them beyond this door."
Shinta then raised his hand. As he whispered to Sakamoto's left ear, the latter whispered to the right ear of the former.
"Anyone else?" asked Sakamoto until Yoshika raised her hand.
Like with Shinta, Yoshika and Sakamoto whispered to each other. Afterward, Sakamoto expected Chieko and Kei to raise their hands but neither did so out of confusion.
"Very well. I can return to the room. If you do have questions, please ask either Himemiya or Miyafuji but again, keep it at whispers. Also, please stay back. I'd rather introduce you and seeing the unit you'll be working it will ruin that surprise. When I do call you inside, single file."
Without a reply, Shinta, Chieko, Kei, and Yoshika moved to their right. Sakamoto opened the door and proceeded inside the briefing room. As the door closed, Chieko, who was beside Shinta, intended on whispering to Shinta's left ear.
As Chieko made her whisper, which Kei and Yoshika assumed to be a question, Shinta whispered back. The answer shocked Chieko who in turn whispered to Kei what Shinta told her.
"The three of you may now proceed into this room," announced Sakamoto from the other side of the briefing room door.
Shinta, Chieko, Kei, and Yoshika whispered to each other that they were to go inside by single file. As a result, Shinta was the nearest to the door with Chieko behind, followed by Kei, and Yoshika behind him. Shinta then opened the door and in front of him was the unit Sakamoto told him about – the 501st Joint Fighter Wing.
I can see why Sakamoto Shosa told us to keep at it single file, thought Shinta. We're to be introduced.
Shinta managed to gesture to Chieko, Kei, and Yoshika to follow him. Miraculously, the latter three followed. The 501st members, however, were bewildered as to who are the two men and the one woman accompanying their comrade Yoshika Miyafuji.
Who are these guys? pondered Charlotte Yeager, an eighteen-year-old girl nicknamed "Shirley" with a voluptuous figure, long auburn hair stopping past the rear of her neck, and blue eyes. And why is Miyafuji with them?
Other than Miyafuji, there's a girl with these two men, thought Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen; seventeen years old with long sandy blonde hair and grayish purple eyes. I wonder how big she is?
Shinta, Chieko, Kei, and Yoshika then passed Shizuka Hattori, now seated beside Lynette Bishop. Seventeen years old, Lynette's figure distracted her character due to the size of her breasts. Her light golden brown tied into a Gallian braid. Her blue eyes were mostly focused on Yoshika, adding to her concern as to the company Yoshika graced herself with.
Why did you come here with these people, Yoshika? pondered Lynette. Did the mobilization notice not reach you in time?
Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke, the 501st's commanding officer, warily looked as Shinta, Chieko, Kei, and Yoshika reached the stage of the briefing room. As the latter four introduce themselves, Minna began to think of a conversation she had almost an hour before.
"I'm glad you're here, Squadron Leader Sakamoto," said Minna as she received Sakamoto and Shizuka in her office. "And I see you brought Pilot Officer Hattori. Thank you."
"You're welcome," replied Sakamoto. "In any case, the unit I'm temporarily in charge of is with me and I can imagine you've been told that we're to work together."
"That's correct. I'll have everyone gather at the briefing room."
"If you can, could you please have Hattori here tell everyone and not use the PA system?"
"I'm not supposed to tell my subordinates until they introduce themselves at the briefing room."
At the present, Yoshika had bowed after introducing herself. Minna then stepped forward.
"As Squadron Leader Sakamoto said earlier, we will be working with these men and women for a mission that cannot be publicly disclosed," announced Minna before Sakamoto handed to her a document. "Squadron Leader Sakamoto's unit, consisting of her, Petty Officer First Class Shinta Himemiya, Petty Officer Second Class Chieko Oka, Petty Officer Second Class Kei Miyazaki, and Sergeant Yoshika Miyafuji, are to continue testing the LN Armed Forces' prototype Mobile Knights until they are to be mass-produced."
"Wait a minute, we have Mobile Knights now!?" asked Gertrud Barkhorn, twenty years old with her brown hair tied into twin tails and brown eyes, as she stood up.
"We do," answered Sakamoto. "They're right outside but I suggest you return to your seat."
"I apologize," said Barkhorn before sitting down again.
"Now then, for our orders… " continued Minna until Sakamoto gave her another document. "We're to provide assistance and training for Squadron Leader Sakamoto's unit as well as evaluating the performances of the prototype Mobile Knights."
"Figures they would want us to do this," said Shirley.
"What's so great about these Mobile Knights anyway?" asked Erica Hartmann, eighteen years old with short blonde hair and blue eyes.
"Once we have them mass-produced, we'll be able to conduct a counterattack against the Stavrosians and the Neuroi," answered Sakamoto.
"And they've already started to mass-produce these Mobile Knights?" asked Pierrette-Henriette Clostermann or "Perrine" for short, seventeen years old with amber eyes underneath a pair of glasses and long blonde hair.
"At this point, yes," answered Sakamoto.
"Pardon the intrusion, ma'ams," said the blond Liberian soldier who escorted Sakamoto's subordinates earlier as he entered and saluted.
"What is it?" asked Sakamoto as she was focused on the Liberian soldier.
"Another truck has arrived and it has brought additional parts for the Mobile Knights."
"What's here?" asked Minna.
"At this point, we'll have to go outside," announced Sakamoto.
The 501st and Sakamoto's unit arrived at the hangar as to where Warviour, Wardier, and Wardar were kept. Two objects with wings were being delivered into the hangar.
"So these are the prototype Mobile Knights?" asked Shirley.
"They're big!" shouted Francesca Lucchini, fourteen years with light intermediate skin, her black hair in pigtails, and with green eyes.
"What's that dish at the back of the blue one?" asked Barkhorn as she pointed at Wardier.
"The LNX-03 Wardier," answered Kei. "Used for reconnaissance and communications support. The backpack uses a radome for those purposes."
"And I imagine the red one's for long-range bombardment?" asked Hartmann as she pointed to Wardier.
"Correct," answered Chieko. "The LNX-02 Wardier."
"And the white one's the LNX-01 Warviour?" asked Minna.
"Yes, ma'am," replied Shinta. "Built for melee combat."
"And how are these supposed to fight Neuroi?" skeptically asked Barkhorn.
"They will… if we can figure out how to fit a Magic Engine that is," said Koji Himemiya as he appeared.
"Dr. Himemiya," said Sakamoto.
"So you built these Mobile Knights?" asked Minna as she looked at Warviour, Wardier, and Wardar again.
"Generally, yes. However, the construction was done elsewhere in secret because no factory has yet to build such machines."
"Can't be helped," replied Shirley. "These things look too advanced to be built. I can imagine we must have conducted one hel of an operation to steal one from those Stavrosians."
"What are those?" asked Hartmann as she pointed to two objects with bent wings being brought to the hangar.
"Additional Wing Packs," answered Koji.
"Wait, we built more Wing Packs?" asked Sakamoto.
"Khyber did. He just simply had them delivered."
"Let me guess, he's the real inventor of the Mobile Knights, right?" asked Shirley.
"You could say that but someone had to assemble them."
"And that's where my father's company came in," added Kei.
"Can they fly even with the Wing Packs?" asked Lynette.
"They can," answered Sakamoto. "And that will be tomorrow."
"We're starting already?" asked Hartmann.
"The sooner, the better," answered Barkhorn.
"I can have the Wing Packs respectively for Wardier and Wardar attached tonight," added Koji. "And before Flying Officer Litvyak launches for her patrol."
"Dad, I'm seeing three Wing Packs, interjected Shinta as she pointed to the Wing Packs. "What's that about?"
"One of them is for Warviour," answered Koji. "The one you've been using was a prototype Khyber and I developed before the Mayflower left for Shinkyo. We built that one as an emergency. I'll explain more tomorrow."
"And I guess that's it," announced Minna. "Now that Petty Officers Himemiya and Miyazaki have been brought to their respective rooms, Sergeant Miyafuji and Petty Officer Oka will need to be brought to their room as well."
"And where will that be?" asked Chieko.
"With us," answered Shizuka, referring to the 501st as a whole. "You're not a Witch but Petty Officers Himemiya and Oka are already sharing a room with Dr. Himemiya."
"At 1600 hours, we'll have our first lecture in the briefing room," warned Sakamoto. "Don't forget."
"Yes, ma'am," replied Shinta, Chieko, Kei, and Yoshika in unison as they saluted.
At least Squadron Leader Sakamoto can keep them reined in, thought Barkhorn.
That evening, the Himemiya men and Kei sat at one table within the mess hall for Hill Air Field's enlisted personnel. As a result of Witches being stationed at the base, they ate elsewhere.
"Again we're separated from Chieko," lamented Kei.
"Can't be helped," replied Shinta. "Witch or not, Chieko's still a girl."
"That's too crude, Shinta," warned Koji.
"Gomen nasai," replied Shinta.
"Still, we're in the same base as the 501st Joint Fighter Wing!" excitedly added Kei. "Sure we can't talk to them too much but at this point, who cares!?"
"I thought you wanted to leave the military?" reminded Shinta.
"I do but this is a once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity. Time to live it up!"
"Shinta…. " said Koji with the inability to finish his sentence becoming obvious to his son and his friend.
"Hai?" asked Shinta.
"You really intend on staying?"
"But you were offered the opportunity to leave like Kei-kun and Chieko-kun."
"Warviour's my ticket so I intend on using it until this war's won."
Koji exhaled in frustration. Kei nervously continued to eat with Shinta joining him.
I wonder what those girls are talking about in their dining room? pondered Kei as he chewed his food.
"I can't believe you're friends with someone who's stupid enough to steal an armored car, break into a military base, and pilot a top-secret weapon!" exclaimed Barkhorn toward Chieko.
At Hill Air Field, a separate dining room was prepared for the female combatants within the airbase, particularly the 501st. Seated on one end were Barkhorn, Shirley, Hartmann, Eila, Sanya, and Perrine. On the other end were Sakamoto, Yoshika, Chieko, Lucchini, Shizuka, and Lynette. Minna was seated between one end of the table between Barkhorn and Sakamoto. Due to Barkhorn's question, everyone stopped eating to listen to the conversation that had started.
"It's true," answered Chieko to Barkhorn. "Shinta really did that just because he heard about Warviour from his father."
"And he thought he could join the military that way?" asked Shirley.
"I was surprised too," answered Sakamoto. "In any case, can we please change the subject?"
"I agree," said Minna before she faced Chieko. "Miss Oka, what do you intend to do after this war?"
"Honestly, I don't know," replied Chieko. "Shinta asked me that too. I told him I'd consider college if there was a Karate program?"
"You study Karate?" asked Barkhorn.
"My father owns a Karate dojo in Shinkyo. I hope to inherit the dojo when I'm older."
"Don't you have a brother who can do that?" asked Lynette.
"No. I do have an older sister named Ichiko who's studying music at Salzburg."
"I studied music in Vienna," replied Sanya.
"Really? I told Ichiko that she should have worked for Vienna but she and our parents told me that Vienna was too expensive."
"Why not try contacting Sanya's father when the war ends?" asked Eila. "I'm sure he can he-"
"Eila!" exclaimed Sanya with embarrassment already being evident from her face.
"In any case, I'm done," said Chieko as she stood up before bowing. "Thank you for the meal. Before I go, permission to clean up my plate and glass?"
"Miss Chieko, are you sure you don't need me to do it?" asked Yoshika.
"It's alright, Miss Miyafuji," said Minna before facing Chieko. "Permission granted. Thank you as well."
Alone in her office, Minna looked at a series of documents on her desk. Each one respectively contained photos and information of not only Yoshika and Sakamoto but also Shinta, Chieko, and Kei.
From what Mio has told me, Fräulein Oka and Herr Miyazaki only piloted Wardier and Wardar to help Herr Himemiya, thought Minna. But I'm most concerned with Herr Himemiya. He's exhibited an unknown power when he destroyed that Neuroi used to attack South Seas Island. Who is he?
A knock was heard on the other side of the door. Minna diverted her attention to the door.
"Who is it?" asked Minna.
"Petty Officer 1st Class Himemiya," answered Shinta from the other side of the door. "Squadron Leader Sakamoto recommended that I should come inside. Permission to enter?"
"Granted," replied Minna.
As soon as he came inside the office, Shinta closed the door. He and Minna saluted each other.
"You needed something, Petty Officer?" asked Minna.
"… Yes!" asserted Shinta. "In the U.S.S. Mayflower, I was permitted by Captain Kirkman that I can practice martial arts. Squadron Leader Sakamoto recommended that I should ask you for permission."
"I'll allow it. I don't see any harm in that."
"Thank you, ma'am."
"One last thing: you were in the Mayflower with Miss Miyafuji. I'm sure Squadron Leader Sakamoto told you but I just want to how what do you see her as?"
"… I see her as someone willing to do anything to help. While I train, she frequently watches me. I honestly don't know why but I don't think of it as a problem."
"… Very well. You're dismissed."
"Thank you, ma'am," replied Shinta before he saluted Minna.
After Minna saluted Shinta in return, the latter began to leave. When the door closed, Minna resumed looking at the documents she was looking at earlier.
Why us? anxiously asked Minna in her mind.
501st Joint Fighter Wing Headquarters, Kaiserberg, Empire of Karlsland. April 5, 1946; 0908 hours
"Why do you have files on Fräulein Miyafuji and Mi- I mean, Obersleutnant Sakamoto?" asked Minna to Adolfine Galland.
"Before I answer that question, I assume you're familiar with the raid on the Stavrosian supply line in Orussia?" asked Galland.
"In truth, the Orussians and the Manchurians conducted an operation to steal Stavrosian Mobile Knights and they succeeded. Obersleutnant Sakamoto was involved in such an operation."
"I don't know. That's as much as I could gather. After that, we began a program to build our own Mobile Knights. Obersleutnant Sakamoto, along with Hauptmann Tomoko Aiba and Hauptmann Mami Inagaki, were attached to the Liberian carrier U.S.S. Mayflower as that carrier was to travel to Fuso's South Seas Island to pick up the prototype Mobile Knights as they were manufactured in the Shinkyo branch of Miyazaki Industries. The day after the carrier arrived, the Stavrosians and the Neuroi attacked. Inagaki and Aiba were killed during this battle but the Stavrosians were driven back by three teenagers who recklessly boarded the Mobile Knights."
"And who are these teenagers?"
"Go back to the pages you skipped."
Minna did as Galland told her to do. She then found pages of information respectively concerning Shinta Himemiya, Chieko Oka, and Kei Miyazaki. The contents of each page shocked Minna.
"These three are just civilians!" exclaimed Minna.
"They were," corrected Galland. "Now, they've been conscripted into the Fuso Imperial Navy courtesy of Obersleutnant Sakamoto."
"That I don't know. You also wanted to know why Fräulein Miyafuji was mixed up in this. Well, from what I heard, she and her family were visiting relatives in Shinkyo when the attack happened. They fled Shinkyo with the Mayflower as part of a refugee fleet."
"And where's this refugee fleet going to?"
"Faraway Land. After that, the Mayflower will continue delivering the Mobile Knights to Liberion."
"If I may, Generaloberst, why did you come to tell me this?"
"Because that will be the 501st's new assignment?"
"… New assignment?"
"Once the Mobile Knights are delivered to Liberion, they'll need more information, or data as said in those documents, before the Mobile Knights are to be mass-produced for an eventual counterattack."
"But why us?"
"You contributed heavily in the liberations of Gallia and Venezia. By having the Mobile Knights pitted against the best Witches the LN forces as a whole have, that way, the information used for the mass-production of the Mobile Knights will be beneficial to the pilots willing to use them to drive the Stavrosians and the Neuroi back."
"I honestly don't know about this. We're still expecting Pilot Officer Hattori."
"I know. We're working on making sure she can reach you but truth be told, I'm not really going to force you to obey this order if you refuse. That said, if you wish to finish re-mobilizing this unit, I suggest taking this order."
Hill Air Field, United States of Liberion. April 29, 1946; 2107 hours
At the present, Minna had left her office in Hill Air Field. However, as she exited the main building, she caught Yoshika Miyafuji watching something, or rather, someone outside.
"What are doing up this late?" asked Minna, startling Yoshika.
"Wing Commander Minna… I apologize," replied Yoshika. "I just… "
"He's out there, isn't he?"
"What do you think of him?"
"I… I think he's kind… but at the same time, he seems sad despite the way he talks. Like as if there's something forcing him to do everything he does."
"I see… just return to your room."
"Roger that," replied Yoshika with a salute before doing as Minna ordered.
Minna then stepped outside and saw Shinta Himemiya practice his martial arts. To Minna, Shinta practiced as if he was the wind moving across the night. It was both a sight to behold and to fear.
"Curious about him, aren't you?" asked Mio Sakamoto as she appeared beside Minna while outside the building.
"M… Mio, how long have you been standing there?" asked Minna.
"Since you ordered Miyafuji to leave."
Minna gave no further answer. She then continued to watch Shinta with Mio joining her.
"I've read that file on Mr. Himemiya," continued Minna while turning to Sakamoto. "What do you think of him?"
"I'm glad to have him as a contrast to Oka and Miyazaki but… I am also suspicious about him."
"Why do you say that?"
"Minna, I think it's better you hear it from me now."
"What is it?"
April 30, 1946; 0914 hours
"It's finally done!" exclaimed Kei Miyazaki as he, the rest of Sakamoto's unit, and the 501st, saw that the Wing Packs that came to Hill the previous day were attached to Warviour and Wardier.
Unlike the one that was attached to Warviour, the Wing Packs for Wardier and Wardar were built differently. The one attached to Wardier was positioned further back from the backpack already attached to the Mobile due to the Particle Cannon. The Wing Pack attached to Wardar was directly above its backpack due to its radome.
"And as I promised, we had the Wing Packs attached before Flying Officer Litvyak launched for her patrol."
"And how will we have them tested?" asked Hartmann.
"That's what will be discussed in the briefing room," answered Minna.
"Now that we have the Wing Packs for Wardier and Wardar attached, we need to see if they can make those Mobile Knights fly," explained Sakamoto at the briefing room with every member of her unit and the 501st, sans Minna, seated. "Thanks to Petty Officer Himemiya's question yesterday, Dr. Himemiya himself will explain something about the new Wing Packs before we proceed further."
Both Sakamoto and Koji presented schematics and drawings related to the prototype Mobile Knights and the Wing Packs. Afterward, Koji faced Sakamoto's subordinates and the 501st.
"Unlike the Wing Pack Petty Officer Himemiya used for Warviour up until now, these Wing Packs have a newer ability," explained Koji. "They can float in the air."
"And how is that possible?" asked Perrine.
"You need to jump first," continued Koji. "Afterward, the pilot must command the artificial intelligence attached to the Mobile Knight into activating the vernier thrusters. That way, the Mobile Knight can remain afloat in the air unless the pilot wants that to stop."
"At this point, I'll be asking for volunteers," added Minna, standing beside Sakamoto.
"I'll do it!" excitedly said Shirley as she stood up and raised her hand.
"Very well then, Miss Shirley."
"I do have a suggestion."
"And what might that be?" asked Sakamoto.
Outside Hill Air Field. 1123 hours
"That damn Liberian!" shouted Barkhorn at the right front seat of the truck used to carry the prototype Mobile Knights with Hartmann, seated on the left, driving it. "This is probably just an excuse for her to show off."
"At least we're here to keep an eye on them," replied Hartmann. "And not only that, Miyafuji made us lunch!"
"Though why did Pilot Officer Lucchini have to come with us?" asked Barkhorn as she pointed at the motorcycle in front of the truck being driven by Shirley with her P-51H Mustang Striker Unit attached to it and Lucchini seated at the sidecar.
"She probably wants to watch too."
Bonneville Salt Flats. 1339 hours
The motorcycle and the truck then stopped just before Bonneville Salt Flats. In Wardier's cockpit, Kei found where they were now and began to contact Shinta and Chieko, respectively in Warviour and Wardar.
"What is it, Kei?" asked Shinta over Wardier's communicator.
"We're in the Bonneville Salt Flats!" excitedly answered Kei.
"What are you talking about?" asked Chieko as she interjected over Wardier's communicator.
"Flight Lieutenant Yeager once reached 183 miles per hour with her Indian motorcycle as it was under 1000 cubic centimeters."
"Are you three ready to go!?" shouted Shirley from outside the Mobile Knights.
"We are," replied Shinta as he opened Warviour's cockpit. "Sorry about that."
Everyone was now gathered at the "shore" of the Salt Flats with everyone facing Shirley. The Mobile Knights Warviour, Wardier, and Wardar were made to kneel.
"I imagine you all have questions as to why I asked that this exercise be here," announced Shirley. "Truth be told, I felt nostalgic about the old days, if you've heard about my exploits here that is. Enough of that, I will explain to you the exercise."
Took her a while, thought Barkhorn.
"Beyond this end of the Salt Flats is the abandoned town of Salduro," continued Shirley. "The objective of this exercise is simply to try to outfly me to Salduro and back. I decided on this because we're to also test how your Wing Packs work because I really want to see how they work."
Now she says it, thought Hartmann.
"However, I will begin the conditions on which this exercise works. First, it's one by one. Second, I did say 'outfly' but do not treat it as a race. I will, however, judge the one person who can keep up with me. Is that clear?"
"Yes, ma'am," replied Shinta, Chieko, and Kei in unison.
"Himemiya," called Shirley as she faced Shinta. "You're up."
"Yes, ma'am," replied Shinta with a salute.
Shinta then rushed back to Warviour. After he closed his Mobile Knight's cockpit, Shirley faced Kei.
"Miyazaki, you've handled the communications in Wardar," said Shirley. "I need you to patch everyone to my intercom."
"Roger that," replied Kei with a salute before rushing back to Wardar.
Inside Warviour's cockpit, Shinta put on his goggles. Afterward, he turned on Warviour, making it stand up. Chieko only followed with Wardier. Kei was the last one to stand up with Wardar. In Warviour's cockpit, Shinta turned on the Mobile Knight's communicator and immediately picked up Kei's frequency.
"Shinta, I've patched us all to Flight Lieutenant Yeager's intercom," explained Kei.
"Thanks, Kei," replied Shinta.
"Himemiya, are you ready?" asked Shirley over the communicator. "I've just gotten into my Striker."
"Ready to go, Flight Lieutenant," answered Shinta.
"That's more like it. I'm launching first."
Getting into her Mustang Striker Unit, Shirley lifted herself into the air. Shinta then saw Shirley through the main screen of Warviour's control panel.
"We launch on my count," instructed Shirley.
"Yes, ma'am," replied Shinta.
Shirley then faced the Salt Flats. She smiled as she thought of the days she used her Indian motorcycle that was destroyed the previous year during the operation to liberate the Empire of Karlsland that ended suddenly, along with the Second Neuroi War as a whole.
"One last thing: when ra- I mean, hauling it when coming from Salduro, each of you has to land back here before me," instructed Shirley as she uses her intercom. "Is that understood?"
"Yes, ma'am," replied Shinta, Chieko, and Kei in unison over the other end of the intercom.
"Now it's time! Himemiya, pay attention to my count but I suggest you lift off already."
"Yes, ma'am," replied Shinta over the intercom.
"Three… " said Shirley.
"Xiaoying, are you ready to assist me in jumping" asked Shinta across Warviour's cockpit.
"I am," answered "Xiaoying". "Dr. Himemiya has provided me with instructions for floating."
"Good. I'm jumping now."
"Two… " said Shirley just as Shinta jumped with his right leg, making Warviour do the same.
Afterward, the vernier thrusters, located below the new Wing Pack attached to Warviour, activated. This allowed Warviour to fly into the air vertically until Shinta stopped.
Now floating in the middle of the air, Shinta was now anxious to wait for Shirley's last count. Barkhorn, Hartmann, and Lucchini looked at the floating Mobile Knight with awe that technology they never imagined was now a reality.
"One!" shouted Shirley before going forward.
Shinta then followed. It then became a dance in the sky as one struggled to keep up with the other. Whenever Shinta altered directions to overtake Shirley, the latter followed aggressively. In their respective Mobile Knight's cockpits, Chieko and Kei anxiously watched as they knew Shinta couldn't stand a chance against an experienced racer and Witch.
This is going nowhere, anxiously thought Shinta while piloting Warviour. Flight Lieutenant Yeager is only overtaking me every time I divert from the original path and that's because we're traveling stra- That's it!
Shinta began to divert again from the direction he was traveling at. However, he began to fly in a literal circle, confusing Shirley.
"What's he doing now?" asked Barkhorn.
"I think he's hatched up an idea," answered Hartmann.
"Don't you lose, Shirley!" shouted Lucchini toward the contrails representing Shirley and Shinta.
Above the Bonneville Salt Flats. 1431 hours
How long is he going to do this? pondered Shirley as she continued to look at Warviour while it traveled as a circle.
I got Flight Lieutenant Yeager where I want her, thought Shinta. I just need to think of when to increased distance.
"Now!" shouted Shinta before he increased his distance from Shirley, managing to continue to Salduro ahead of her.
"Impressive!" exclaimed Shirley before following Shinta.
"At least they're heading back here," said Kei as he saw through the main screen of Wardar's cockpit that Shirley and Shinta returned from Salduro.
Again, it became a dance in the air between Shirley and Shinta. The latter began to feel exhausted as he was now out of tricks to use. Despite that, he continued to respond to every move Shirley made.
It was now evident to Barkhorn, Hartmann, Lucchini, Chieko, and Kei that Shirley and Shinta neared their end of the Salt Flats. For the three 501st Witches, however, it was hard to predict where either Shirley or Shinta will land.
I'm almost there, thought Shinta. I know Flight Lieutenant Yeager said it isn't a race but I need to think of something.
Shirley then saw Shinta moving normally without following her. She was now puzzled as to why Shinta appeared to have given up on keeping up with her.
Come on, Himemiya, give me something to work with, anxiously thought Shirley.
Both continued to fly. Now, they were at equal speed because Shinta was unable to decide quickly. Shirley then looked away with resignation as to what to do next.
Fine, I'm going ahead!
Shirley then increased her speed. Shinta, however, opened his cockpit to briefly see below as he developed an idea.
I know what to do now, thought Shinta.
Closing his cockpit, Shinta began to decrease Warviour's altitude. However, Shirley was almost to the end of the Salt Flats where Barkhorn, Hartmann, Lucchini, Chieko, and Kei were.
"Where's Himemiya?" asked Barkhorn. "Did he give up already?"
"I don't think so… " said Hartmann as she pointed Shinta, or rather Warviour traveling below Shirley.
Warviour almost neared the Salt Flats itself. However, Shinta made sure the legs didn't touch the salt and increased speed. Shirley began to realize what happened and saw Warviour below her.
I got you now!" thought Shirley before joining Shinta.
Damn it, thought Shinta as he saw Shirley decreasing her altitude while keeping her speed.
Again, it became a match of turns and direction shifts. Both were near where everyone else was but as long as they equally matched their respective paths, not much was done.
Wait, I've avoided touching the salt, thought Shinta. I think I know what to do.
Shinta decreased his altitude further. Everyone from Kei to Shirley was surprised by what Shinta thought of.
"Himemiya, what are you doing?" asked Shirley as she contacted Shinta through her intercom.
"Finishing this!" boasted Shinta before landing Warviour's legs at the salt.
Shirley decreased her altitude thinking Shinta was being reckless. However, she wasn't aware that Shinta had thought of something. Just as when she saw Warviour's legs almost hit the salt, the Mobile Knight suddenly launched from the salt, surprising Chieko, Kei, and the 501st members.
So that's what's going on, thought Shirley. You've done it now, Himemiya!
As a result of what he did, Shinta was almost out of the Salt Flats. However, Shirley looked on and only when she saw Shinta exit the salt did she move but at a rate far faster than what she was traveling at earlier.
"Incoming!" announced "Xiaoying" across Warviour's cockpit to Shinta.
It must be Flight Lieutenant Yeager, thought Shinta. "Xiaoying, please conduct emergency shutdown."
"I do not recommend-"
"Just do as I say!"
Nearing the edge of the "shore", Warviour's yellow eyes had disappeared. Everyone watching was surprised by what happened as Warviour's feet touched the ground. Shirley, however, got past everyone as she had used her Inherent Magic Speed Boost. She then looked back and saw Warviour touching the ground.
I'll be damned, thought Shirley. He actually landed before I did and even took advantage of my Speed Boost so that I wouldn't land ahead of him. Better go back and congratulate him.
Shirley then returned to join Barkhorn, Hartmann, Lucchini, Chieko, and Kei. As she returned, Shinta opened Warviour's cockpit and jumped down.
"You actually landed before I did," said Shirley. "I didn't think anyone would take advantage of my Inherent Magic like that."
"With all due respect, ma'am, I assumed you wanted it over as soon as possible so I tricked you into thinking I was endangering myself."
"Nicely done. Now then… " said Shirley as she faced Wardier and prepared her intercom. "Oka, you're next!"
"… Yes, ma'am," replied Chieko over the other end of the intercom.
"Himemiya, you best return to Warviour and get out of Oka's way," ordered Shirley as she faced Shinta again.
"Yes, ma'am," replied Shinta with a salute before rushing back to Warviour.
Inside Wardier's cockpit, Chieko turned on the Mobile Knight. She then turned on the communicator just as Shirley flew up again. Kei's frequency then appeared on the screen as Chieko knew Shirley would use it.
"Oka, you good?" asked Shirley over the communicator.
"I'm good," replied Chieko.
"I know this is the first time you'll be flying so take it easy. If you can't outfly me, don't bother. This is just a test to see if your Wing Pack works. Don't treat it as a race."
"Then get flying. Remember, we launch on my count."
Later, Shirley returned from Salduro. Unlike when she tested Shinta, she landed first. Chieko then followed suit but landed from everyone else as she knew Kei was last to test Wardar's Wing Pack.
"Miyazaki, you're next," announced Shirley over Wardier's communicator.
"Yes, Ma'am," replied Kei.
Chieko then opened Wardier's cockpit to watch. She now saw Shirley launch first but remained floating until Kei followed. Everyone heard Shirley count from three and as she reached one, she launched first with Kei launching after her.
Again, Shirley returned from Salduro. However, Kei had yet to do so as everyone noticed.
"Figures Miyazaki wouldn't keep up with Shirley," noted Hartmann.
"He's slow!" happily exclaimed Lucchini.
"We're still waiting," instructed Shirley.
"What on Earth for!?" asked Barkhorn. "I know you said this isn't a race but we have to return otherwise we'll miss dinner with the others."
"Fine," said Shirley with defeat evidently in her tone before using her intercom. "Miyazaki, just fly as fast as you can. It's over."
"Figured you would say that," replied Kei over the other end of the intercom.
Ultimately, Wardar returned and landed. Kei then opened the cockpit but as he reached the sand, he was exhausted with the way he walked evident to everyone.
"My apologies for being late," said Kei while saluting to Shirley.
"It's alright," replied Shirley. "In any case, Dr. Miyazaki will have what he needs. I'm sorry to say this but you need to return to that Mobile Knight. We need to have them loaded onto the truck before we leave."
"Yes, Ma'am," replied Kei before he walked back to Wardar.
"So, Miss Shirley, how did the exercise go?" asked Minna while she dined with her subordinates, Sakamoto, Chieko, and Yoshika before chewing her food.
"It was great!" excitedly answered Shirley. "I didn't say it should have been a race but that Himemiya kid provoked me and he landed before I did."
"I was surprised Shinta thought of that idea," added Chieko.
"Speaking of which… " said Shirley before facing Yoshika as she swallowed her food. "Miyafuji, you've been with him since the Mayflower. What do you think of him?"
"He can be surprising," answered Yoshika. "That's how we first met."
"That's how you and Mr. Himemiya met?" asked Lynette.
"Someone bumped into me while I was carrying a bag of medicine. Shinta appeared out of nowhere and prevented that person from going further. As it turned out, he stole a woman's purse and when policemen appeared, Shinta gave the purse to them. He helped me up afterward."
"And you enlisted back into the military because of him?" inquired Perrine, causing Yoshika to startle.
"… What do you mean?"
"It's not every day a random male stranger appears out of nowhere to help you. I mean, I'd feel the same way."
Minna then coughed, forcing everyone to be silent.
"I suggest we resume our meal," warned Minna.
"Roger that," replied Yoshika.
Shinta again practiced his martial arts. However, he saw Aleksandra Vladimirovna Litvyak or "Sanya" for short, fifteen years old with gray hair and green eyes. She was riding her i-225 Striker Unit and armed with her Fliegerhammer rocket launcher, leaving for her evening patrol. At the same time, Sanya saw Shinta just before getting into the air.
At that instant, Sanya's familiar began to manifest itself. It prevented her from properly flying but she got father away from Hill. As a result, Sanya began to fly properly.
What happened back there? pondered Sanya.
Aprile (Italian) – "April"
Strega (Italian) – "Witch"
Herr (German) – "Mister"/Mr."
Obersleutnant (German) – German equivalent to "Major" (in ground and air forces) and "Lieutenant Commander" (in navies)
Hauptmann (German) – German equivalent to "Captain" (in ground and air forces)
Generaloberst (German) – German equivalent to "General" (in ground and air forces; except for the British Royal Air Force in the latter as it's Air Chief Marshall)
Fliegerhammer (German) – "Flying Hammer"
I based Siegfried Bauer being transferred away from the Buffalo from Metal Armor Dragonar, where Meio Plato was transferred to a distant Giganos outpost because of his repeated failures to capture the titular Metal Armors, the Dragonars.
Unlike what I did with Dwight Eisenhower and Arthur Harris' cameos in "Reunion in the Snow Part 2", I had to come up with names for Chester Nimitz, John Forrestal, and Alexander Vandergrift and like in real-life, their counterparts for this fic have their respective positions by 1946. In the case of Forrestal claiming that Steven Howard, Peter la Salle, and Albert Farnham will remain with the U.S.S. Mayflower, that was a nod to real-life John Forrestal proposing to racially integrate the United States Navy while serving as the Secretary of the Navy until he was made the first Secretary of Defense, created by the National Security Act of 1947.
Naval Air Station Alameda was a real-life United States Navy installation where after clearing that wetlands that once stood, it was at first an airport that the United States Army Air Corps used as "Benton Field". That ended after the airport was ceded to the US government and in 1938 was it turned into an installation for the United States Navy. The B-25 Mitchell bombers used in the Doolittle Raid against Japan in World War II were brought to Alameda and loaded onto the U.S.S. Hornet (CV-8) with the Hornet supposed to leave Alameda for Japan and launch the B-25s. Only in 1997 was the base closed to increase the efficiency of the United States Armed Forces as a whole.
Ogden Union Station was built to serve Union Pacific for Ogden. Construction started in 1869 and finished in 1889 but a fire in 1923 forced the station to be rebuilt. It currently serves as the Utah State Railroad Museum.
Now this chapter is where we finally have Shinta, Chieko, and Kei meet the 501st Joint Fighter Wing. As to be expected, we already have the 501st members exhibiting skepticism at best that three teenagers, especially a girl without magical abilities, piloting highly advanced weapons. Then, you have Minna being concerned about Yoshika's relationship with Shinta. More about the ramifications of the 501st having to work with Shinta, Chieko, and Kei in future chapters.
Hill Air Field is an actual air base built near Ogden. Built in 1939 and named after Ployer Peter Hill, the United States Army Air Corps' Chief of the Flying Branch who died in 1935 testing the Boeing-built Model 299 aircraft that became the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, Hill Air Filed was used as a supply and maintenance base throughout World War II and as seen in this chapter, a disposal site for aircraft the US Army Air Force stopped using. After the US Army Air Force became the United States Air Force in 1948, Hill Air Field became Hill Air Force Base where supply distribution and airplane maintenance is still done to this day.
Remember how I ended "The Hunchback Hunt" with Adolfine Galland visiting Minna which kick-started the idea of Sakamoto's unit having to work with the 501st? Well, I expanded on that. I had to use German ranks to indicate that Minna and Galland were talking in German, or rather, Deutsche as I'll call it in this fic.
As to why I used Hill Air Field for the base where Sakamoto's unit (I will refer to the unit that comprises of Sakamoto, Shinta, Chieko, Kei, and Yoshika as "Sakamoto's unit" until further notice) and the 501st are stationed at, it was because I needed somewhere "near", for lack of a better term, Bonneville Salt Flats. Shirley having used her Indian motorcycle to reach 183 miles per hour, or approximately 82 meters per second, was brought up here and why she opted to go to the Salt Flats – to help test the Wing Packs attached to Warviour, Wardier, and Wardar.
Salduro is, or rather was an actual town in Utah near the Bonneville Salt Flats. Near the Western Pacific Railroad, Salduro became a hub for salt miners to use the railroad but eventually, a salt mill was established by the Capell Salt Company. In 1916, Capell was merged with the Solvay Process Company, known to produce potash. This made the Salt Flats a potash mine until 1944 where the potash mine closed. Salduro's history ended when a fire struck the town, forcing it to be evacuated.
Update: Forgot to bring this up but I'm doing so now. Kei Miyazaki owning a calendar with racy photos of Federica Doglio is a nod to the 504th Joint Fighter Wing-centered manga Kurenai no Majo-tachi. In one chapter (chapter 2 of Volume 3 to be exact), Doglio tried to get her subordinates to pose for a "Sexy Calendar" but was met with plenty of opposition. She posed by herself and that the calendar where the photos went were sold on the black market with the funds going to the 504th. Now it must be remembered that the calendar with the racy photos originally came out in 2011 (with the calendar dated to 1942) as they were originally drawn by Humikane Shimada and that Atsuto Shinozuka, the mangaka behind Kurenai no Majo-tachi, used the photos while having the in-universe photo shoot take place in 1945 (chronologically, it occurred after Operation Trajanus which was first depicted at the beginning of Strike Witches Season 2 and expanded on in Kurenai no Majo-tachi from the viewpoint of the 504th).
Update 2: Shinta, Chieko, and Kei being promoted was another Dragonar reference where its protagonists, Kaine Wakaba, Tapp Oceano, and Light Newman, were promoted. The difference is that in here, Shinta, Chieko, and Kei were promoted to Petty Officers (with Shinta at Petty Officer First Class and Chieko and Kei one rank below) whereas in Dragonar, Kaine, Light, and Tapp were promoted to Lieutenants.
Update 3: Forgot to bring this up but Yoshika found the way Shinta practicing martial arts being familiar to her. I will have to explain that in future chapters.