Dear Anabuki Tomoko,
Firstly, Happy New Year. I thought I’d start this with a New Year’s greeting. Tomoko, have you been keeping well? I’m sure you’re doing your absolute best. The battle in Karlsland today has been fierce. It was fierce yesterday, too. Despite the struggle, the Karlsland detachment I’m with have overwhelming fighting spirit. We were dispatched today to drive the Neuroi threat back. We managed to take down around 30 Neuroi of varying sizes. Even still, the Neuroi get stronger and stronger every day.
Well then… you probably hate me right now, don’t you? Of course. I’m the reason that you ended up getting sent to Suomus. I want you to know that I didn’t do that for my own gain. I thought that if you and I were together, you’d be too concerned about advancing your shoot-down count and would lose sight of the whole situation.
But… I have to say I’m relieved. I read the newspaper. I read about how you took down that huge Diomedia. We had no luck in taking it down, so it looks like that makes you number one. Congratulations. You must be really happy about it. I think it would have been impossible to take that thing down on your own. In other words, you must have made some special comrades. Friends that you can fly in line together with. I look forward to the day that we will be able to fly together again.
When that time comes, don’t hold back; give it all you’ve got.
Please keep trying your best.
Suomus really is a freezing cold place, so try not to catch a cold. Well then, see you. Stay safe.
Until the day that we can battle together again,
Tomoko stroked the letter longingly. It was a letter from Takeko, who was in Karlsland. Tomoko was genuinely happy that Takeko had written to her so that she could ease her negative thoughts.
The day before… there was one more new friend. They were standing there drinking coffee elegantly.
“What’s wrong? Is there something on my face?”
It was Beurling.
“No… it’s nothing like that. It’s just that… well I thought you were dead.”
“No-one said that I was ‘dead’. That was just something you made up in your head.”
Beurling continued to drink coffee with her usual uninterested expression adorning her face. She’d been shot down by the Diomedia and sustained serious injuries… but it hadn’t proved fatal. It was definitely P/O Elma’s fault that Tomoko had thought her to be dead. Despite that, Tomoko was brought back to her senses remembering the sense of companionship she had felt fighting against the Diomedia…
“You really are a twisted person.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“You’re Britannian, so you should be drinking tea right?”
“I drink tea too. I just think it tastes weak.”
Beurling drank the rest of her coffee down in one gulp. Tomoko lowered her head at Beurling.
Beurling said nothing. Then she spoke, shaking her head a little: “Well, I guess tea is good once in a while.”
Just then… The door slammed open suddenly, making a loud noise. Haruka stormed into the mess hall – where Tomoko and Beurling had been talking.
“Pilot Officer Anabuki! You are a liar!”
Haruka stood there, her body covered in nothing but a bedsheet.
“You promised to sleep with me so I… I was lying alone, shrouded in darkness in the bedroom to invite you! To think that you’d found yourself a replacement, I can’t believe it!”
Tomoko squealed in embarrassment, her cheeks flustered.
Suddenly, F/L Mika Ahonen appeared from behind, leaping towards Haruka’s naked body to embrace her.
“Oh my! Don’t worry, I’ll join you! Our playtime is just beginning!”
“Please let go! Unhand me!” And just like that, Haruka was taken away.
“Is that alright?”Beurling asked.
“It’s not like I’ve lied to you, is it? If necessary, please forgive me. After all, it’s said in the orient that: ‘the end justifies the means’.”
Tomoko’s words were soon followed by the appearance of Katharine.
“Tomoko! We've got trouble!”
“You always seem to be in trouble, Liberion.”
“Ursula’s making a mess again! This time it’s a 50 kilogram explo-“
As soon as she spoke, the sound of a huge explosion echoed throughout the room.
“Ah, this is the third day in a row that’s she’s blown up that room...”
Pertaining to the success of her rocket, Ursula had graduated from simply reading all the time. She spent all her time conducting new experiments on rockets instead. She’d changed her focus from education to experiments.
“If she does it inside then it’s perfectly safe. Now bugger off.”
Beurling said in a cool voice.
I wonder if that girl really is safe… Tomoko murmured in a worried tone. As she did so, Ursula entered the room, her face completely blackened. Without saying a single word, she drank some water and left again. Katharine followed her out.
“Oh geez! At least do this stuff outside!”
The sound that came from the adjacent room was… the siren.
“Air raid warning. Air raid warning. A Neuroi bombing formation of about 40 units, at an altitude of 400 metres. Prepare to intercept.”
F/L Hakkinen’s chilling voice announced.
P/O Elma burst in after the announcement.
“Hey you guys! You can drink tea afterwards! We’re dispatching! I’ll go on ahead, hurry up and get ready!”Elma rushed ahead in a flurry.
“Shall we get going?” Beurling said as she stood up.
Tomoko smiled broadly as she too stood up.
“What is it?
“What’s your shoot down count?”
Tomoko looked as if she were in thought for a while, and then answered. “The squad’s shoot down count is 217 units!”
“Individually…?”“I forgot!” Tomoko said with a bright smile adorning her face.
Tomoko and Beurling looked up at the Suomus sky.
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