They returned from the United Kingdom of Roa Graecia to the Giad Federation. The convoy ferrying the Strike Package back home one again drove past the darkness of the tunnel beneath Dragonhusk base.
The screams echoed, the bellows howled. While moving along with the others, Shin listened in on the noises subconsciously as he suddenly recollected the past. How he, in his childhood, was escorted to the Concentration camp, how the soldiers were being violent to them on the trip, along with the words and actions of his brother and parents.
But as the memories were too vague, he could only recollect a fragment of those memories.
He looked around, and found many lying about, resting. There were fewer passengers abound compared to before.
Nevertheless, the survival rates were much higher than being in the 86th district. Countries, army, such things did not exist in the battlefield of absolute death. It was surreal to them, for this was the first time almost everyone made it back alive.
One day, they might think it was natural for everyone to return safe and sound.
They had to return alive. Surely, everybody wished to return alive. Most of the Eighty-Sixers, not all, would have such a notion
Such a day would surely occur.
A breeze blew by, and silvery thread-like hair grazed by the corner of his eyes.
“Lena…what’s the matter?”
He looked up, and found Lena, who should be in the first-class carriage meant for officers. While this second-class carriage was not cramped in the slightest, it was filled with crates for combat purposes. The outstanding beauty raised her lips.
“I just, want a breather…mind if I sit here?”
Saying that, Lena hurriedly sat opposite him.
Shin was a little incredulous, seeing her like this. Given the difference in standards, the officers’ carriage she was in should be a lot more spacious.
Lena seemed relieved, and let out a sigh looking as though she was really there to relax. She then stretched herself out like a kitten.
Finally, she showed a hearty smile.
“Good work there, Shin.”
Shin would have typically dismissed it as nothing, and shake his head. This time however, he did not.
“Yeah. It’s a little tiring this time.”
He shrugged at her, and she narrowed her eyes happily.
After all, he was told to rely on her, and not to bear everything by himself.
He did not forget those words. Clearly they had reached him.
“Once we return, there will be a long vacation, and you can have a good rest…though we cannot visit the sea, no?”
The Federation had no seas.
The closest coast was a military port to the North, currently unapproachable as it was within “Legion” dominion.”
“Hm, but Lena, if there’s a place you want to visit, I’ll go with you. You aren’t familiar with the Federation streets after all.”
“Really? Then please lead the way!”
Her smile was blooming like a flower.
Suddenly, the dazzling sunlight shone upon it.
The train passed through the tunnel beneath the base, and entered Federation lands. Shown beyond the windows was the scenery of anxiety brought forth by the early summer.
Having been used to the silvery grey and white of the snow and the battlefield, their eyes were glittering. Captured within their sights were the deep blue skies and the blue cornflower fields.
They gasped in unison.
And in doing so, Lena said.
“Yeah…it’s really pretty.”
Beneath the azure skies, the train raced down the tracks like a breeze.
Yes, they were on a high speed railway. Time seemed to pass by in an instant while they chatted, and they were close to the Federation’s Krulberk Terminal.
They ended their conversation with much reluctance. As tactical commander and battalion leader respectively, they had to do their duties while allowing thousands of Processors to disembark.
The train silently arrived at the terminal platform.
Both of them stood up in unison.
While they did not know when, it seemed someone took a photo of them while they were alighting.
“…The Publicity Department asked if they can use these for promotion, but,”
Grethe slipped two photos across the coffee table. Lena froze once she saw that, and Shin too was silent.
Naturally, the parties in the photos were the ones questioned, Shin and Lena. Lena was wearing a formal cap, dressed in the blue Republic uniform. Shin was in the standard steel-colored Federation uniform, and given the background of Krulberk Terminal, one could imagine which direction the photo was taken from. It was unknown when the photo was taken, but Lena was giving a somewhat bashful look, and in contrast, while Shin looked extremely quiet, he was giving a sharp look.
Shin and Lena were soldiers, and the enemy were not humans. At this point however, even a reporter could not simply aim a camera at soldiers without obtaining permission to interview. The Strike Package in particular had lots of classified operations, the objective to combat and suppress the “Legion”, so there was no way an interview would be granted. The train station was in fact closed, and all citizens, including the press, were unable to enter.
Nevertheless, it would be another case altogether if it was promotional work by the war department itself.
The Strike Package in particular was a promotional force proclaiming the justice of the Federation, granting aid to other countries.
“Colonel Wenzel. This…erm, the aim of taking this photo with Shin…Captain Nouzen is…”
“By publicizing the Strike Package’s accomplishments, we can raise the morale and proclaim the Federation’s justice. Saving the United Kingdom and destroying the “Legion” base is something great to be boasted of. By promoting the Strike Package without revealing classified information, it does seem like an intent to recruit volunteers. Let the people hear that young soldiers are fighting hard on the frontlines.”
Grethe nevertheless shrugged.
“Due for the circumstances of the Eighty-Sixers, while they are soldiers devoted to the cause of their countries, there is a view that no personal information, including photographs, should be revealed, Captain Nouzen. The decision lies with you two. This is not your fault, Colonel Millize, but more because of the Republic.”
Lena nodded halfheartedly, and pondered.
Shin stared blankly at the photo before him, without saying a word.
If promoting their actions could raise the morale of the soldiers, perhaps that should be done, but that would be still be embarrassing…so Lena thought.
Shin never cared about what the military thought, but even he too felt it would be too much of a hassle.
And more importantly.
He had a distinctive sereneness, his unique bloody red eyes were chilling as he stared sharply like an ancient, famed blade. So Lena observed.
So cool…she thought.
The silvery white hair scattered like light. She looked bashful, smiling like a flower blooming for the first time. So Shin observed.
So pretty. He thought.
What was going on?
Shin. Lena. Though it was a mere photo, they did not wish for anyone else to see them in this, not everyone, at least.
They did not want to be seen by others.
Despite that, it would be pushing it trying to give an excuse beyond their beyond feelings, and they could not say it out loud. So both of them remained silent.
They were perturbed by the strong feelings borne out of their selfishness.
And upon realizing the internal conflicting feelings of the two young fellows, Grethe smiled wryly.
“…I see. Then, I shall refuse…how about a commemorative photo instead?”
They were not hiding it.
They immediately answered in sync.
And then, they realized what they said. Lena’s face turned beetroot as she froze.
Next to her, Shin was averting his eyes awkwardly.
Grethe smiled wryly.
Goodness me, these two are too easy to read.
“I shall print it out in the best quality then.”