As Long As We Remember is a short story included as part of TSFiA, article #51.
On a hill where nature was still preserved, two girls looked towards the sea, towards the ongoing battle taking place beyond it.
For the two of them, who had been excluded from participating in the large operation as they were cadets, the sea breeze blowing at the hill was heavy, and it seemed that one could perceive the stink of gunpowder on it.
One of them, with anger in her heart from the frustration of being unable to join her comrades in battle, glared at the the opposite shore, which was enshrouded in black smoke.
The other, with a sincere prayer in her heart from the vexation of being unable to defend alongside her comrades, gazed up into the sky of this midsummer’s morning.
While the colors of their emotions differed, the thoughts of the two girls, who stood on this ground that resembled the hill of their hometown, were one.
They made a wish to the stars up high; for their comrades, who had left from the same training school as theirs, their cherished friends, and for the survival of their sole loved one, a secret that they both kept to themselves. “Please, be safe...” But.
To the shooting stars from the westward skies that swallowed their prayers, that glittered ominously with the colors of the rainbow, and which were about to make landfall...
Dashing over the red-dyed rubble of the streets were two blue Shiranui.
They strove on, over the black fragments that were once roads, kicking through the wreckage of what was once someone’s house, from within the stalemate of surrounding units for whom any advance was beyond their control, cutting through the chaotic battlefield with sharp movements that as of yet only valuable, 3rd-generation units were capable of.
“I won’t die - I absolutely won’t die - !”
Concentrating all firepower forward, smashing the Tank-class, slicing the Grappler-class, firing at the Fort-class; above the precious blood of humanity that permeated into the depths of the land, the dark-red body fluids of the BETA were heaped on, as though as an offering of atonement.
“Dellingr-8, Dellingr-9, didn’t you hear me!? Stop your advance immediately! Standby orders are out for the whole squadron! I repeat-”
The controlling voice of the command post gradually took on a hysterical tone at the charge of a mere single element of Shiranui that seemed to be gripped in madness.
However, the both of them no longer took any notice of the transmission. Their expressions were not of madness; they streaked through the battlefield with a calm gaze, even though their blood boiled with zeal, turning minimal possibility into hope as they annihilated a grouping of Laser-class signals with a successful line-breaking pincer attack.
“Forward, forward, FORWARD!!”
The rubble that was their hometown streamed behind them. The devastated hill that was their alma mater neared. A dark hole was bored uglily into a section of its front, and they dashed forth towards a point at the Gate...
1998, August 6. As the dawn of the second day approached Objective 22, a scene that was literally indistinguishable from hellscape, was the battlefield for the capture operation of what had been termed the Yokohama Hive, “Operation Lucifer”.
“Sensor echo confirmed! The Yokohama Hive Stab is not at Phase 2! I repeat, the Yokohama Hive is not at Phase 2 - it’s estimated to be proportionate to a Phase 4!”
Starting from the shocking announcement brought by the leading Orbital Divers when the capture operation was still progressing favorably, the BETA reinforcements that burst forth one after another had driven their haphazard defence into a corner.
And as a final blow to the ongoing critical situation, the vital operational HQ had been thrown into disarray. Since the start, Operation Lucifer has had various powers and nations forcibly push their political agendas into it; to continue the battle, or to retreat - even a decision on a basic plan of action was slow to be handed down due to the opposition in the upper echelons.
“Dellingr-8 to CP, requesting that you authorize the reinstatement of D flight’s initial observation mission! There’s no more time left!”
“CP to D flight, we cannot authorize the reinstatement. HQ is currently reviewing the matter. Maintain your current observation position.”
While following the IJMDF and COSEAN forces that were fighting back against the BETA that were surging forth from all the Gates, those of them in the UN-blue Shiranui had been dispersed for an encirclement - but the various flights of Dellingr Squadron were not permitted to attack, and their high-capability machines were wasted on minimal-force responses merely to protect their current position.
“Damn! Just for something like this?! I… I…!”
Dellingr-8, 2nd Lieutenant Narumi Takayuki’s anger caused him to unintentionally strike the blameless control stick. But the irrational pain that traveled through his right fist, was a result of carelessly denying this irritation ever since the start of this Operation Lucifer.
The UN special forces unit, the A-01 Regiment. They were the rapid-reaction force under the direct control of the 4th Alternative Plan, an elite unit that was the closest to martyrdom for the victory of humanity; but contrary to that glorious reputation, the given orders for 2nd Lieutenant Narumi of the A-01 Regiment’s 7th Squadron Dellingr prohibited open warfare for a special observation mission.
My comrades and allies are being slaughtered out there… and you’re telling me to watch helplessly from here…?!
Prior to the operation he had replied with a single line, “I agree”, to the words his squadron commander had expressed. In addition, they were blocked from their observation target when the BETA re-started their offensive, and were switched over to battlefield observation on the comparatively safe outer regions aboveground, as though they were to wait for orders.
‘Though, immediately following the elimination of a sporadic BETA attack, encrypted communications using shortwave was started with the wingman unit.
“Hey, Takayuki, don’t you find it funny, after all?”
An expression of impatience rose onto the face of Dellingr-9, 2nd Lieutenant Taira Shinji, as well. The two of them had grown up together in Yokohama, had come out from the same pilot training school that had existed here, and had been assigned to A-01 at the same time.
“Even if the combat situation was getting terrible, there wouldn’t have been a need to hesitate for our life-or-death, given that it’s Professor Kouzuki there.”
“I know… in the first place, they had suddenly said to wait! At this rate, it would all have been for nothing…!”
Takayuki looked towards the data-link readout. That display was authorized only for the A-01 Regiment, showing them the radar signals that surely was the bitter combat that had befallen the interior of the Stab right now.
“The professor would have understood something about this situation - that is how I see it...”
Murmuring that while not listening much to his comrade’s words, Takayuki forcefully ground his molars, immediately glaring at the battlefield situation once more. While the Yokohama Hive was confirmed to be Phase 4 in scope, the range of its surrounding Gates were just at Phase 2. While their current position was at the outskirts, the actual distance was-
“Takayuki. Shall we go?”
With those words from Shinji, Takayuki looked up from his deep thought in surprise. Projected in the communications window, in the instant that his sight darted, like an arrow, to meet Shinji’s gaze - Takayuki instead felt a sense of relief.
Seriously… there’s no way to stay hidden and discrete...
Takayuki, with a small smile, answered his close friend with a wordless gaze. Their mutual exchange of wills thus ended.
“It’s not much if it’s just us. What can we do?”
“That’s right. The moment the the BETA move and congregate towards here… they’re superior by nature, they’ll definitely bite a hole through and break out.”
Ever since they were posted to A-01, they had surpassed countless missions that tested them to their limits together; as the two of them had operated in synch with the other, it was easy for them to share their thoughts on tactics - an absurd matter, but not impossible.
“That’s why we can’t die.”
“Eh… what to do… what about you; do you think this is going to be easy?”
Both of them smiled at Shinji's words.
Together with mutual agreement in their hearts, it was the moment where they decided on their intent as an element.
“That’s not going to be the case, is it? I just…”
Before Takayuki, whose words faltered from embarrassment, Shinji laughed again while gripping the control stick.
That which reflected adherence to the Empire’s close-range tactics in its airframe, and the world’s first third-generation TSF in live combat deployment - the Type-94 tactical walking fighter craft, the Shiranui.
Right now, these mainline Imperial units, provided as a special case to the UN Forces, and which had inherited the determination of the A-01 Regiment’s young pilots, began to rage.
“Takayuki, you’re really are a person who can’t let go on anything!”
“My bad. Well, you can consider giving up this lousy friendship.”
“If I wanted to, I’d have never been your wingman.”
Time had run out. There was no more time to hesitate.
Immediately after the two of them exchanged their last smiles, the two Shiranui kicked off the ground with all of their strength - leaping off.
“Forward! Forward! Forward!”
And thus, the two Shiranui in blue dashed forth.
In their hometown that had become ruins and broken streets by both the BETA and human hands, the blue blaze of Jump Units heated the land of Yokohama that had greedily soaked up the blood of their numerous friends and acquaintances, and cannon fire sparkled in the direction of the nest of the invaders that towered over the place called Hakuryou; a blade was swung as he followed right after his wingman.
“Screw off! Get out of my way-!”
Takayuki's unit leapt through the space in-between the writhing bodies of the BETA, scattering the enemies in his path into pieces of flesh in a storm of 36mm. Even the usually-composed Shinji had yielded to the flow of battle, committing to a reckless razor-thin slashing attack.
“Takayuki, you’re slowly beginning to resemble Captain Isumi!”
“What? In what way do I take after that iron woman of the 9th Squadron!”
“When I look closely, this is the same type of recklessness she does! Seems like you may get along unexpectedly well with her?”
“... Spare me, just Hayase alone is enough for that type!”
Despite the occasional exchange of banter, they both believed in only one possibility, to push forth through an opening in the midst of this free-for-all. It wasn’t just the capabilities of their units. To be selected by the 207th Training School, and to have received Instructor Jinguuji’s hellish training, was definitely an expression of true strength.
Before they noticed, the squadron commander and the restrictive voice of the CP stopped getting through. Whether they had given up, or whether they had given approval for some reason or another; in the next instance such thoughts disappeared into the corners of both their minds, as a red visual window was projected onto their retinas amidst a shrill siren, courtesy of a wide-area priority warning.
It was the immediate evacuation order Code 666; without even the time to wonder about it, the mechanical voice of the automatic translation edged in to interrupt.
“This is US SPACECOM to all forces deployed around Hive 22. Fall back immediately - ”
Why are the US Forces… and furthermore, SPACECOM...!?
“We have decided to deploy a new anti-Hive weapon. Evacuate from the range indicated on your data-link immediately-”
To any who looked around, they would see the TSFs of the IJA and COSEAN commence a retreating battle, seemingly in a confused manner. However, it would be impossible for something like a sudden retreat to take place in the middle of such disordered combat, and the damages caused by the chaos to the theater of battle would be significant.
“They’re telling us to retreat now?! … ”
Once again their eyes met, and again there was but a moment of hesitation. Dellingr-8’s speed did not fall or slacken, and Dellingr-9, again, followed without faltering.
“We won’t die…!”
The twin barrels of their Assault Cannons shone red-hot, as if to say that there was no need to keep track of propellant or for the aftermath of battle, as they switched over to horizontal boosting, their consecutive jumps grazing the heads of their enemies.
Takayuki was no longer considering anything; everything else apart from the a group of Laser signals that he had set his sights on had vanished.
As allied units all around retreated in succession, or had perhaps went under while amongst the pursuit of the BETA, two units in striking blue pushed forward into the center of the chaos.
Narumi Takayuki roared.
It was just a single wish.
A single, simple, and for that reason was excessively distant, prayer that was worth betting a life on.
“No one else will have to die from now on!”
August 6, 1998. The occupation of the Yokohama Hive by humanity was a success, thanks to the 5th-dimensional effect bomb, termed the G-Bomb, dropped at 8:15am on the same day. Operation Lucifer, jammed with the political motives of various governments, thus came to an end.
The existence of the A-01 Regiment in the operation, as well as the results caused by the unauthorized deeds of part of the regiment’s Dellingr Squadron, are still locked in shadow and secrecy.