April 1945, Romagna. 501st Joint Fighter Wing base.
It was a normal morning as usual. Outside, rays of Mediterranean light flowed to the ground. Many flowers were blooming as they welcomed the sun light. No one could think this old building was a military base; everything was so tranquil. After 501st‘s victory and the destruction of Neuroi hive over Romagna, peace had at last returned to this country.
At that time, a Witch returned from her usual night patrol. Alexandra Vladimirovna Litvyak, called as Sanya by her friends, landed in the base’s hangar as she yawned tiredly. Slowly disengaging her Striker Unit and setting the Fliegerhammer into the launcher’s armory, she walked back to her room, or, in fact, her beloved friend Eila’s room. Openning the door, she striped her uniform off and landed on the bed, startling the sleeping Eila.
“Not again,” Eila murmured as she rubbed her hair. Then, she carefully did her daily job; covering Sanya with blanket as her friend started sleeping soundly. “Only for today, okay?”
Eila did some stretching after leaving the bed, then she gathered Sanya’s clothes and folded them neatly. She put the clothes on the bed and started dressing herself. After that, Eila walked out of her room, carefully closing the door so that she wouldn’t wake Sanya up. Finally, she headed to the dining room.
“Early, huh?” a brown haired Karlsland Witch named Gertrud Barkhorn greeted Eila as she entered the room. Sitting beside Gertrud was her companion, Erica Hartmann. The blonde was sleeping while waiting for breakfast.
“Probably so,” replied Eila. “You also get up early as usual. Hey, what are we having for breakfast, Lynne?”
“Usual Britannian breakfast,” the Britanian girl replied from the kitchen. “Eila, could you help me in setting the table?”
“Aye, aye,” said Eila, then she grinned mischievously upon entering the kitchen. Then, she suddenly grabbed Lynette’s breasts from behind, causing the poor girl to scream. “Kyaaa!!! What are you doing, Eila?”
“Hmm…” Eila kept groping as she said. “Although they are already big, you haven’t grown much. We haven’t engaged with Neuroi recently, so nutrition should concentrate on these two! Probably they lack of … Yoshika’s nutrition, don’t they?”
“Enough of that, please?” Lynette protested as she broke away from Eila.
“Okay, okay,” Eila apologized. “Let me bring the food.”
At that time, the 501st commander Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke with the Gallian Witch Perrine-H Clostermann entered the dining room.
“Good morning, Commander,” greeted Gertrud. “And Perrine, good morning as well.”
“Mornin’…” Erica tiredly followed Gertrud’s words.
“Good morning, Barkhorn and Hartmann,” said Minna. She took a seat next to Gertrud, and Perrine quietly sat beside Minna.
“Say, Perrine,” Erica started openning her eyes. “You are so quiet without Major around. This is not Perrine I know…”
“Wha…” muttered Perrine as she blushed. “I’m not like that.”
“Honestly, we have lost the two Fuso Witches,” Gertrud butted in. “Major Sakamoto is an experienced soldier, while Miyafuji has her own potential. If they were still Witches, they might achieve more success.”
“Hey, Trude,” said Erica. “You miss ‘em, right?”
“Sh-shut up!” Gertrud yelled as her cheeks turned red. “It is normal for me to be worried about this wing!”
“Hee hee, dishonest Trude is missing Yoshika-” Erica joked, but her words were cut off from a sound of dishes’ cracking.
“Please…” said Lynette, her eyes were turning red as tears flowed down her cheeks. “I don’t want to hear about this anymore… I… I was such a useless Witch… If I had been more useful, Major Sakamoto and Yoshika-chan wouldn’t have lost their magic…”
“Sorry, Lynne,” apologized Erica. “It is not like they were dead, right? They are just retired.”
“Erica is right, there is no need for regrets,” said Minna. “You should start the breakfast now, we will have emergency meeting right after that.”
“Emergency?” asked Eila.
“Yes,” Minna replied. “However, it may be good news for us.”
“Can you tell us what it is?” asked Gertrud.
“Wait until the meeting,” giggled Minna. “I fear that you won’t be able to eat after hearing that.”
“WHAT?!” the Witches asked in unison. “Major… Major Sakamoto is back?!” Gertrud, Erica, Shirley and Eila asked as they couldn’t believe what they just heard, while Perrine couldn’t hold her happiness. Sanya and Lucchini was awaken by the unbelievable news.
“But… but how?” asked Lynette. “Shouldn’t Major Sakamoto have lost her magic?”
“Apparently, she has lost her magic,” Minna continued. “However, as the Fuso scientists introduced their flying battleship called Nagato without using Neuroi technology, Major Sakamoto will be the second-in-command. Her leadership is too valuable for the Fuso Army.”
“Flying battleship?” asked Erica. “Is that a bluff? I have seen the failure of the Warlock and the destruction Fuso Yamato Battleship, so I wonder if their flying one could work.”
“No,” continued Minna. “Their battleship is operated by the Witches entirely, even their Admiral Yamamoto Yukiko is the ship’s commander. I don’t know much about how the Nagato works, but it seemed her maiden flight turned out to have some good results. The Fuso Empire will test its firepower in the war with the Neuroi on Kiev of Orussia. We will assist Major Sakamoto’s fleet in flanks and supports. If this test assault is a success, they will continue helping us in liberating Karlsland!”
“That is it!” Gertrud said happily. She was waiting until the day her homeland could be freed from Neuroi. “We will see if their big girl is another failure or not! I just wonder how the Fuso could lift even a battleship into the air without a Neuroi core. Is it as big as their Yamato?”
“I won’t doubt that,” said Sanya. “Since Dr. Miyafuji has created the Striker Unit, I’m not amazed if Fuso scientists could build a flying battleship.”
“I agree with Sanya!” Eila followed up on Sanya. “I meant, their technology is undeniably advanced…”
“I don’t care much about a flying ship,” said Shirley. “Unless it is fast, meh…”
“What… What about Yoshika-chan?” asked Lynette. “Is she with Major Sakamoto?”
“Yeah,” nodded Lucchini. “Will Yoshika come along? I wonder how grown she is…”
“I’m sorry to say that she won’t participate anymore,” replied Minna. “She has lost her magic, so she wouldn’t, and shouldn’t come.” Lynette solemnly gave out a sigh, and Gertrud seemed disappointed. “By the way, the ship will arrive at Kiev in a few hours. Air Commodore Galland will give us permission to sortie and regroup with Major Sakamoto when the Nagato is ready. You should prepare now, even pack yourselves. 501st JFW will join with the Fuso fleet during this mission. Any objection?”
“Okay. 501st JFW, dismissed!”
Somewhere else on the sky of Orussia, on board of Nagato.
The hovering flagship of Fuso was heading to Kiev, and she would start her first battle there. As the lead ship of her class, the Nagato still had the shape of a battleship but with a smaller size and had some differences to reduce most air resistance. There were four engines beneath the ship, each had magical propeller. There were also two 410 mm turrets, two 127 mm anti-aircraft guns with 6 mounted Type 1 heavy machine guns. Each battery had a Witch stationed there, and the Witches switched duty every 5 hours. Along with two commanders, eight engine operators, four flank-supporting Witches, the Nagato needed at least 34 Witches with 4 mechanics, which resulted in 38 complements in total. Compared to Yamato-class, of which the complements could reach over 2700, the Nagato could operate with fewer personnel. Not only that, Nagato could transport at least 100 fully armed Witches. Therefore the Fuso’s flagship received a lot of expectation. However, at that time, one of the two commanders wasn’t present.
“Suddenly Mio-senpai left the ship before departure,” sighed Yukiko. “Although she promised she would catch up with us, I shouldn’t have given her permission to leave.”
“What does she have to do?” a Witch asked, appeared to be Flight Lieutenant Takei Junko. “Mio has never done anything like this before.”
“I don’t know, but it seemed she was in a hurry,” continued Yukiko. “Luckily that you are here, Junko. Although you were supposed to be a flanking Witch.”
“Nah, Yukiko, it is my duty. Beside, to command such battleship, you will be stressed. About Mio, she cannot use her magic anymore, so it will be hard for her to be a second-in-command.”
“I agree, but she can be our strategist. Of course, along with you.”
Suddenly the alarm resounded. “What is happening?” asked Junko.
“Neuroi!” yelled Yukiko, as she put her legs into the Striker-like controller. She channeled her magic, then owl’s tail appeared as her hair became buff-brown, some owl tuft popped out from her ears. “I’m not used to fight in day time. Junko, get in position! I will start finding the Neuroi, it will take a while!”
“Yes, ma’am!” then Junko ran to the hangar. The other three flanking Witches had already entered their own Strikers.
“Flight Lieutenant Takei!” a Witch greeted Junko.
“Pilot Officer Suwa, Nakajima and Kaneyoshi!” said Junko. “A number of Neuroi is approaching us, and Admiral Yamamoto is trying to find their strength!”
“Ma’am!” the three Witches replied in unison and openned the hangar’s door, flying out and keeping covering for the Nagato.
“Nagato fleet attention!” said Yukiko through her intercom from the command room. “There are a large number of Neuroi at one o’clock direction, altitude 9000. They are approaching us from 150 kilometres away at the speed of 750 kph. Estimate that we will confront them in 6 minutes! All batteries must be locked and loaded! Slow the engines down and get ready for the clash! Enemies might outnumber us, but we have the Nagato on our side. Keep sticking to the formation, I have sent reinforcement request. Our companions from 501st JFW and 502nd JFW will soon accompany us!”
“Copy that,” Junko replied and flew out of the hangar, joining the three Witches. “Amaki, you go and support Nishiki! Kunieda, cover me!”
“Roger that!” the three Witches replied and they started dividing into two groups, covering both sides of the Nagato.
“Enemy in sight, their vanguards are four scouting Neuroi!” said an observer Witch on Nagato.
“Weapons free in thirty seconds,” said Yukiko. “I repeat, weapons free in thirty seconds. Nagato will draw their focus, meanwhile Flight Lieutenant Takei’s squadron will hit them from flanks.”
“Acknowledge,” said Junko, as she with Kaneyoshi hid themselves in the clouds on the left. Amaki and Nishiki also raised their altitude to get out of the Neuroi’s sight.
From the command room, Yukiko spotted the Neuroi coming from the front. Four large-type in the shape of fighters approached the Nagato at high speed, all covered with black hexagons, except the head and some parts on their wings with red ones as their firepower. The lead Neuroi, seeming to be the most aggressive, barraged the Nagato with its energy beams
“Attack head-on, heh?” said Yukiko as she channeled her magic into her controller. A huge shield appeared in front of Nagato, deflecting the hazardous blasts away.
“Attack!” yelled Yukiko. “AA batteries and mounted machine gunners, open fire!” As she finished her words, all Witches controlling guns and turrets started channeling magic into their weapons and fired at the Neuroi. The four lead Neuroi were quickly destroyed.
“Hold your fire,” said Yukiko. “I repeat, hold your fire. There are more awaiting for us, expecting to have more large-type Neuroi or even capital ones. Junko, keep staying on low profile.”
After the Nagato left the clouds, the Witches found what they expected. There were a lot of Neuroi: they consisted of three groups in V formation, while each group was in tight formation. The main group had a capital Neuroi taking the shape of a huge destroyer, which could be identified as a Soobrazitelny-class Destroyer of Orussia. The rest were about fifty large-type Neuroi and their drones covering them.
“So they use massive assault on us,” Yukiko muttered. “All batteries, try to buy time until reinforcements arrive. Junko, attack them from flanks and focus on their capital!”
“Roger that!” replied Junko through intercom, as she and the three Witches splited into two directions.
The battle between Nagato and the Neuroi became more and more violent. Although the Nagato’s shield could endure the massive attack from her enemy for the moment, the Neuroi were outnumbered the Witches. Neuroi drones kept intercepting the Witches’ lines of fire, protecting the capital and the large-type Neuroi from being damaged. Suddenly, the black destroyer – as the Neuroi’s capital unit – charged up its beams and released a massive blast of energy at the Nagato. Miraculously, in spite of her large size, the Nagato battleship dodged the attack by turning slightly to the right. A part of the magical shield got incinerated in the maneuver.
“That was closed,” said Yukiko. “Luckily that this big girl has high mobility, or we would have been burnt.”
“Admiral,” said Junko. “It seemed it will take a while before that Neuroi could fire again. As most of the drones were on front line, I will take this chance to clear some of their large-type units.”
“Okay, but don’t do anything reckless,” replied Yukiko. “All AA batteries and machine gunners, clear the sky for main turrets to back up Flight Lieutenant Takei!”
Junko and her squadron rushed from the flank of the Neuroi’s main formation. Four of them took down their enemy one by one, and for each large-type destroyed, their drones automatically shattered into crystal-like shards. However, as more and more drones spawning from their parents, it was hard for the Witches to continue the ambush. Meanwhile, the Nagato kept dodging the tremendous beams from the capital Neuroi.
“Admiral Yamamoto, this is Wing Commander Wilcke,” Yukiko heard through her intercom. “Excuse us for the late arrival, but the 501st is here to support the Nagato!” However, Minna heard some sobbing sound through the radio. “Eh?”
“Thanks goodness,” replied Yukiko, her voice was choked by tears. “I feared that my first mission with Nagato would end here…”
“Don’t worry, Admiral,” Minna calmed her. “We will cover the Nagato and somehow try to support Junko.” Minna and the 501st appeared from the south-west, expecting for the return of their Major. “Sanya, Eila, Lynette, follow me to attack their main formation! Erica, Perrine and Lucchini, head to the ship and help Admiral to clear the drones! Trude and Shirley, you two bring our luggages on board, after that your weapons are free!”
“Yes, ma’am!” the Witches replied in unison.
“Ha, I didn’t expect the Fuso Admiral could be such a crybaby,” giggled Erica. “It must be fun to tease her!” she said, as Lucchini moved her hands as if she was groping with her expression of "wonder how big she is".
“Frau, Lucchini, behave properly!” Gertrud yelled at Erica. “She is our superior!”
“’kay, ‘kay,” sighed Erica as she approached the swarm of drones. “Sturm!” she yelled as gusts of wind were released from her hands, cleared a huge amount of Neuroi and allowed the main turrets of Nagato to fire at the Neuroi’s main formation.
Meanwhile, Sanya with her Fliegerhammer released a barrage of rockets upon the large-type Neuroi. The crippled aliens gave out a shriek, then fired their beams at the Orussian Witch, though unable to hit her due to her movement. Her friend Eila flew nearby, giving cover fire.
Suddenly, Eila “saw” something, and she turned at Sanya. A drone was charging at her friend from behind, letting out a red beam of energy. She rushed at Sanya, but it was too late. Even Sanya didn’t have time to raise her shield. Everything was slow down as a slow-motion film under the eyes of all nearby Witches.