Gate – Jietai Kare No Chi Nite, Kaku Tatakeri - Volume 3 - Chapter 5
The hegemonic nation called the Empire did not have a name.
Names were tools used to differentiate oneself from others. An Emperor was one who ruled all the peoples, all the tribes, who held sway over all his allied kingdoms, a king of kings and lord of lords. He was matchless in his domain and military might. He was a singular, insuperable existence. By this line of arrogant thinking, the Empire would need no name.
The river that flowed from the glaciers to the sea was called the River Ro. It would take two days to travel on foot from the sea to the Imperial Capital.
Shipping vessels travelled back and forth along the River Ro.
The Imperial Palace was situated on the easternmost side of the five hills of the Imperial Capital, and the hill called Sadela had an expanse of flat ground on one of its slopes. There was a beautiful alabaster building on each of its sides, and all of them were surrounded by a broad stretch of forest. This beautiful green color was the dominant tone throughout the Palace.
The mansion on its southern ward belonged to Zorzal El Caesar, the oldest son of the Emperor, and Piña Co Lada's brother from another mother.
He was pressing a woman down onto a chiffon-veiled bed. He grabbed her neck from behind and pulled it up, enjoying the interplay of pain and pleasure on her face, his grunts and her moans mixing together as he lost himself in his bliss.
’’My, my Prince, please, please forgive me...’’
’’Hmph, is that all the queen of the Warrior Bunnies can handle? Hm, I'm sure you can make better sounds than that. Moan for me.’’
However, as he looked down on the Bunnygirl whose body was already twitching as she passed out, Zorzal slapped her buttocks with a ’’Hmph!’’ and dumped her onto the bed like a used toy.
The white-skinned woman rolled off the bed like a broken doll. The impact returned her to consciousness, and her body shuddered.
Her hair was as white as snow, and two fur-trimmed ears stuck out from the sides of her head. However, her body was covered in bruises, bite marks, and many other signs of violence.
’’If you pass out from just that much, you won't be able to satisfy me...’’
’’Please forgive me...’’ the woman moaned in a trembling, small voice. Her red eyes looked over to him as she climbed off the cold stone floor and back onto the bed.
’’Try harder, then. Your people's fate depends on it.’’
’’Please show mercy, my Prince, my people...’’
’’Enough! I'm going back!’’
Zorzal did not even bother to answer her as he turned his muscled body away and ordered his attendants to dress him.
His Warrior Bunny lover sobbed as she rose naked from the bed and wrapped herself in its sheets. Then she limped away, supporting herself against the wall as she left the man's room.
Zorzal clicked his tongue. ’’I'm getting sick of this toy.’’ He wondered whether to dispose of her.
A voice responded to his muttering.
’’Your Highness, even if it's for fun, you shouldn't couple with a filthy beastwoman like that.’’
The speaker was Count Marx of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
’’What do you mean, I'm an enlightened man. I treat all people the same regardless of species. That Warrior Bunny's body is among the best I've seen.’’
’’But, if she gets pregnant...’’
’’That's fine too. She's the queen of the Warrior Bunnies. Having my child be their leader is a good thing too.’’
’’But hasn't the kingdom she ruled long been destroyed?’’
’’Shh, quiet... Tyuule's ears are very big. She might overhear you.’’
Marx shook his head.
She had sacrificed herself to protect her country and people. She had endured this terrible abuse for a full three years, but her home was long since destroyed and her people were nearly extinct. What few survivors remained were scattered throughout the land and lived in misery.
Worse, those survivors mistakenly believed that she had betrayed her people, and swore to exact revenge on her. That was cruel, even for a Beastman. The thought of what Zorzal would do when he became Emperor sent a shiver down his spine.
’’Speaking of which, Count Marx. Why did you come here today? Peeping? Or do you want Tyuule despite your age? That's fine too. She might be a bit dirty now, but she's pretty when she's cleaned up.’’
After Zorzal was dressed, his attendants left the room. Now only Zorzal and Count Marx were left in the room.
’’In truth, I have a matter to report.’’
’’What is it? Speak.’’
’’Recently, there have been some unsettling moves among the Senators.’’
’’And by unsettling you mean...?
’’Yes, my Prince. Meetings in the night, secret trade deals, that sort of thing. At first, there were only a few of them doing this, but their numbers have steadily increased.’’
’’Hmph. Is my brother up to something again? He must be stirring up the Senators. It seems Diabo has finally pulled out all the stops in his bid for the throne.’’
’’No, that does not seem to be the case. The ones meeting with the Senators appear to be the people who have unlawfully laid claim to Arnus.’’
’’What, how could that possibly happen?’’ Zorzal said as he shook his head in disbelief.
’’Could they be emissaries? After all, we're at war, having envoys going back and forth is common. Usually the enemy negotiates with the Empire for peace or surrender. Could it be they can't fight any more?’’
’’However, it seems many of the Senators have already been bought off.’’
’’What did you say?’’
’’Until now, everyone who has gone to war against them has died, but it seems quite a few people are still living as prisoners. This gathering of the Senators should be to negotiate the terms of their release.’’
’’How could this be?’’
Zorzal punched his fist into his palm.
’’To think, Imperial Senators would buckle under this sort of intimidation.’’
’’Using one's kinship as a weapon seems like something the despicable enemy would do.’’
’’Well, it can't be helped. After all, their own relatives are being held hostage. That must have clouded their judgement. Very well, I know what to do. I shall inform the Senators of the enemy's despicable methods and wake them up.’’
’’If your Highness goes in person, I'm sure they will.’’
’’Still, Count Marx. Why did you not inform my father about this, but me?’’
’’There are many things to be considered, and if this news reaches the Emperor's ears, I fear something irreversible will happen. This cannot be a good thing for the Empire. Thus, I reported directly to yourself, as the heir to the throne.’’
’’Well, that's true. We need to avoid conflict between the Senate and the Imperial family. Only Diabo will benefit from that. If that's the case, then we need to resolve it ourselves. Then, where are they meeting?’’
Marx told him where they were meeting.
’’What? So close to us?’’
Zorzal furrowed his brows, and then said to the patrician youths outside. ’’We're moving out!’’
As Count Marx watched him leave, he muttered to himself, ’’You idiot. Go as grandly as you like.’’
The name for this sort of thing would be a ’’garden party’’ or ’’garden festival’’. The word conjured up impressions of large tents and roasting meat. It was located on the outskirts of the Empire, and many guests were invited to enjoy it together.
The garden was so vast that it contained parts of the forest that seemed to stretch to the horizon, as well as small hills, miniature forests, and even a little stream that led to a pool, in addition to enough grassland for a 36-hole golf course.
A large white canopy was spread over one corner of this garden. Below that, master chefs were barbecuing fish and beast meat over a large fire. They made heavy use of those spices that were rare in the Empire, and the smell alone was enough to make people drool.
Some of the young girls in maid outfits could not help themselves and tried some, for which they were scolded once the old maids found out.
A short distance away, a group of musicians were playing a piece. It was not enough for people to consider it noise, but their music livened up the scene.
The pies filled with soup gave off a delicious herbal scent. Beside them were heaps of fruits stacked up from various countries.
After the guests filled their bellies, they would move on to the desserts.
These were frozen treats nobody had ever eaten before. The people here were happy enough just to have crushed ice drizzled with honey and fruit juice. However, the dish making its debut was called ’’ice cream’’, which was made with milk.
They tried the ice cream which was packaged into small cups out of curiosity, but then people started gathering because of the delicious taste.
’’If you eat too much cold stuff, you'll have a stomachache,’’ the patrician ladies chided their children from where they were sunbathing. However, it was not very convincing given they had cups of ice cream in their hands as well. Therefore, the kids just chorused ’’Kay~’’ before running off and pestering the maid in charge of ice cream for more.
The maid did not have enough ice cream for the children who wanted third and fourth helpings. In the end, the children began showing their bad attitudes and saying, ’’You're so petty!’’
However, when the maid calmly replied, ’’I'll tell your mothers,’’ the kids dropped the act. Instead they pressed their hands together and begged, ’’Pleeeeeease~’’. Brats would be brats no matter where they were.
It was not just the food that was ready.
When evening came, an archery range had been set up.
A middle-aged patrician man pressed his belly against his daughter's back as he taught her how to aim. However, this strange pose only served to make her miss completely, which in turn embarrassed him and drew laughter.
There were many others enjoying ball games and frisbee games. The kids ran around playing tag, and their mothers looked on as they enjoyed themselves.
Carp and goldfish swam in the small pool, while the ones who enjoyed fishing cast their lines. It was probably a form of entertainment to turn their catches into their meals.
As Piña watched this, she took a fruit out of a basket and chewed on it.
’’Sugawara-dono, inviting the families as a whole like this was more fun than I thought it would be. I like this feeling as well. Perhaps future events for the knight band can be like this too...’’
’’Is that so? Thank you for your praise. However, having the head maid here helped a lot. I didn't think of hiring musicians either.’’
’’No, that was House Formal's idea. After all, the treaty stipulated full cooperation, so future events like this will not be a problem. Italica is doing well, and they say that the finances of House Formal are on the upturn. The House was quite clear about that being the result of trade with you.’’
’’However, it seems they've only sent over Human maids...’’
In order to reach an agreement with House Formal, he had visited them in the past, and there he had met people of various races, like the Cat People and the Warrior Bunnies. They were signs that this world was a different one, but yet the head maid had only brought along human maids to the Capital. It seemed wrong, somehow.
’’Well, the Capital...’’
Piña's answer was not very clear, but she got the meaning across to Sugawara.
After attending parties hosted by various powerful patricians, and after visiting several patrician households, he realised that they only had Human maids. It would seem only House Formal was an exception. The other families accepted it, even as they disliked it, probably because the previous Count Formal was an open-minded man.
Piña and Sugawara headed for the garden, where everyone was, in order to see if anyone was feeling bored and if there were any problems to solve.
Sometimes, they greeted guests, or were greeted by guests in turn.
At times, he spotted an interesting character, and then he would ask ’’Who's that?’’ to learn about that person's name and family. That job required a good memory.
Piña's eye went to a Japanese man giving the master chefs tips on how to use spices.
’’Sugawara-dono, who is that man?’’
’’Ahh, he's one of Itami's men, called Furuta. He used to be a chef at a first-rate restaurant before he enlisted.’’
’’I see, is that why he makes such delicious food?’’
One could not make such sublime flavors by randomly tossing in spices. His name is Fu-Ru-Ta, Piña thought as she made a mental note of him.
’’Your Highness, it's been a while.’’
’’Ohh, Tuen-dono. Are you well?’’
’’Yes, my family is doing well too.’’
The introductions that he had requested at the beginning were taking place.
’’Sugawara-dono, this is the third son of House Mare. His elder brother's name is on the list of prisoners to be sent back.’’
And so, Piña introduced Sugawara to several members of the nobility.
All of the important guests here were already familiar with Sugawara, and some had even brought their relatives along, for instance, their wives and children. To them, Sugawara was not a messenger of a fearsome enemy nation, but a bringer of wondrous gifts from another land.
Halfway through the introductions, a daring young girl ran over and grabbed Sugawara's arm, pressing her budding breasts into it in a teasing manner.
’’Sugawara-sama, I saw my cousins' beautiful jewelry and I'm jealous. Could you help me?’’
This was quite rude, after all, and so she was promptly scolded by her parents.
The girl who clung to Sugawara was roughly 11 or 12, so she probably was not acting for greater benefits. It was kind of unsettling, but he did not shake her off. However, it would be difficult to be a diplomat without knowing how to handle situations like these. But there was a good way of dealing with young children.
As she watched the mother scolding her daughter, she whispered, ’’She's from the Tueri family, and a relative of Marquis Caesar.’’
Marquis Caesar was the leader of the Imperial Senate and by extension, all of Imperial politics. To the Japanese government, that meant that they needed channels to him at any cost. Naturally, Sugawara immediately responded appropriately.
First, he stood before the girl's parents, who were angry about her rudeness, with a genial expression and asked them to kindly not scold her any more. Then, he remembered her name Sherry and promised to give her a pearl necklace. This way, they would form a bond, and in future he could ask them to introduce him to other people.
This was what the diplomats' superior had meant when they said, ’’Gifts are our ammunition’’. Personal benefits could not be allowed to conflict with the well-being of a country, and sometimes people were attacked by the mass media on it. However, for the sake of diplomatic efforts, they could not afford to be stingy. Being too miserly might lead to relations breaking down.
What happened was that Sugawara adorned Sherry with a necklace from a velvet box, and she promptly ran off like an innocent child to show it off to her cousins.
Of course, after receiving a gift like this, one needed to repay it in a fitting way. That was the way they did things in the Empire. Soon enough, the repayment took place they helped to connect him to Marquis Caesar.
As an aside, because of this arrangement, the almost 30 year-old Sugawara was beginning to warm up to the 11 year-old Sherry. Her calculative parents noticed this and began enthusiastically pushing them together, and the way things were developing began to worry him.
Piña smiled bitterly to the panicking Sugawara and the overjoyed Sherry, and then let her eyes wander around her surroundings.
For now, it was impossible to fully monitor the activities of all the guests.
As a host, she could not simply play around. To be precise, as a host, one could not enjoy oneself at the expense of one's guests. Still, it was better this time round. She did not have to introduce ladies to gentlemen and vice versa.
Events like this created a chance for young men and women to mingle. Although it was only natural for young patricians to flirt with each other, doing so out of the blue was very rude. There needed to be proper introductions first, and much of the time, the host would arrange for those.
Piña was the leader of a knight order which contained many young men and women. If she had to arrange for all of them to meet each other, she would be too busy to so much as take a drink.
And this party was attended by the relatives of many patrician families, as well as their children who had not made their social debut.
In front of her parents' eyes, they could not do anything overboard. And if they were to spend time on introductions, they would not have any time to enjoy themselves.
Because of that, most of the guests decided to enjoy themselves as families. They split into two groups of males and females and had fun by themselves.
The ladies had obtained beautiful clothes courtesy of someone related to Sugawara, and they competed to outdo each other with displays of their brilliantly colored dresses and jewellery.
Since the materials and fabric were equivalent, then the only way they could complete was through the design and stitching of their dresses, which sparked their respective jealousies and competitiveness. In addition, the minute differences in quality of the accessories and decorations on their clothes ate at their hearts, which was why they wanted to maintain good ties with Sugawara and his fellow diplomats, who had not yet entered the scene.
There were also some ladies clustered around Sergeants Kuribayashi and Kurokawa.
Kuribayashi was very obvious in her women's JGSDF uniform. However, similar to how Piña and her subordinate knights dressed, the guests could quickly accept her status as a female soldier.
While she chatted with them, Kuribayashi chose Sergeant Tomita as a demonstrator to teach the ladies self-defense techniques.
’’Grab his arm, bend it inward, just like this.’’
As she explained, the tiny Kuribayashi brought the tall Tomita to the ground by way of a kokyu-nage. Her audience applauded her swift and crisp movements. In addition, some of them were charmed by Tomita, who looked strong and fierce, but remained calm and reserved.
(TL note: kokyu-nage is an aikido move, ’’breathing throw’’.)
On another side, Kurokawa was displaying the ways that Japanese used makeup, and basking in the admiring gazes of the audience. As a nursing student, she had studied makeup therapy, and it was a happy coincidence that it could be put to use here.
Makeup therapy was used to help with the depression suffered by people suffering from chronic illnesses. Maintaining a happy mood had a positive effect on their treatment.
’’If you apply too much eyeshadow, it'll be too dark, therefore you need to apply it evenly. Also, you need to half-close your eyes to finish it smoothly. You also need to be careful with the lines of your eyebrows. A small change can produce a big effect.’’
Kurokawa picked several ladies to demonstrate her skills on, and her hands wrought a great change on them. Though they did not quite look ten years younger, it brought out the cuteness that they should have had at their age, or perhaps she just made them prettier, and the women gasped in awe.
’’Itami truly has a host of talented people under his command!’’ Piña said in praise.
Sugawara agreed that he was a lucky man. 3rd Recon had only arrived a few days ago, and now that there were more recon teams who could effectively use the Special Region's language, it was much more convenient for their activities. 1st Recon, which had been called back to Arnus, was not quite suited for this sort of work.
’’The people from before were too rude, and lacking in humor.’’
’’As expected, it was because of their commander. No, if Itami-san were to become a regular soldier, we would be in trouble. He's a very special case.’’
Although Piña did not know Japanese people like Sugawara did, she could understand his meaning after seeing his serious, dignified appearance. In contrast, Itami was a... lazy? Easygoing? Or maybe a liberated being? In the end, what saved them was his nature.
No matter the circumstances, a normal man would be filled with resentment after being beaten up by a group of people. However, Itami knew that Piña owed him a debt she could not possibly repay, but yet he had not taken advantage of it. That was a very rare case.
It would be simple enough for Itami to get back at them;simply not allowing them to speak to Risa would be revenge enough.
To Piña, who thirsted for ’’art’’, cutting her off from her supplies would break her spirit. In order to avoid this, she had to grow a culture of ’’artists’’ in the country, and the first step in that was the language classes. Right now, she had to stay on Itami's good side no matter what.
Piña was prepared to do anything in order to accomplish that.
She had already picked out an appropriate girl from the knight band and sent her to Arnus for language classes. Although she was still dormant, on her command, she would take action.
Although it might be sad for the ’’lucky’’ girl, Piña had already thrown all restraint out of the window. She would use any means, no matter how subtle or high-handed.
After reaffirming her resolve, Piña nodded to herself, and then asked Sugawara, ’’Then, where is Itami-dono?’’ She had to make sure he was happy.
’’He's over there.’’
Sugawara pointed to the main square, and specifically at an area that was walled off by sandbags and forbidden to the children.
The guests there were their main objective... in other words, they were Senators, and the young men who would become new Senators. The JSDF had set up a shooting range here for them to experience the feeling of firing guns. In addition, they would also understand the terror of the guns that Japan possessed. That was the main objective of organizing this garden party.
In order to ensure bullets would not go astray, they set up targets in front of a big pile of sandbags. The targets in question were cheap pots of fired clay, bought in vast quantities.
Behind them were berms of dirt. This was what Itami and the others were setting up beforehand.
The Senators were lined up at the firing line, and under the supervision of 3rd Recon's troopers, they opened fire on the targets 50 meters away, to their hearts' content.
The twenty or so Senators took turns firing.
Cicero stood at one of the firing positions. He followed directions, and firmly held his rifle, took aim, and then pulled the trigger. The loud report of the firing and the kick in his shoulders made his eyes water.
Piña wanted to ask, ’’So how does a gun feel, Lord Cicero?’’ but she did not. If anyone had asked her that question, she would have thought they were trying to intimidate her. Therefore, she kept quiet. After all, they had experienced and had enough time to think about it.
The first shot made him jump.
The second shot awed him with its power.
The third shot let him feel that power with his body.
By the fourth shot, he wanted to own the gun he had in his hands.
And then, after ten rounds, he realized what it meant to fight an army that was fully outfitted with these weapons.
Next, they demonstrated the Minimi (a light machine gun). After they saw a line of pots shatter in an instant, they understood why the invading army they had sent beyond the Gate had been defeated. They also knew why the Coalition Army that attacked Arnus had been wiped out.
After that, there was a question.
’’How do you make these things?’’
Of course, they could not teach the Senators how to make them. Then again, even if they told them, they might not be able to understand it.
What the Senators could understand was that these weapons called guns were a collection of countless intricate parts. They were the product of a technology more advanced than the ones which had produced the gifts which Sugawara had given.
And after that, the question was, ’’How can we buy these?’’
But they could not give them the answer they desired. They could not. How could anyone be so stupid as to sell weapons to their enemies in the middle of a war? The Senators knew that too.
In fact, if they had agreed to sell them, the Senators would have suspected some sort of scam or trick. Then why had they asked? It was because guns possessed a power which could not be ignored.
In order to prevent their theft, each gun was secured by two chains and each one had a person supervising them.
The kind instructors, who explained how to load, how to aim and how to pull the trigger, did not allow their vigilance to slacken in the slightest.
Then a voice from behind suggested, ’’How about buying them all off?’’... But judging from the way they spoke and their actions, it would be impossible. In the end, they had to end it with, ’’...As if.’’
Cicero returned his rifle to the soldier in front of him, and left the firing range after thanking his instructor for his time.
After that, they began demonstrating even more things that frightened the Senators.
’’Ah~ we're beginning the 81mm mortar demonstration, please come this way.’’
Itami led the Senators to a new firing range.
Some distance away, there was a cylindrical object standing slanted on two legs. The cylinder looked like a tube made of metal. This tube pointed out to the grassland in the distance.
As the audience started to crowd in, Itami shouted, ’’It's very dangerous, please stay back!’’ and the Senators had no choice but to stop.
With an order from a commander, the three-man mortar crew began their tasks.
One of them fitted the sighting unit and began aligning it with the horizon and a red and white aiming post.
Another person loaded the mortar round with its fuse and its propellant charge.
After that, the person standing behind him took the round in both hands, and slid half of it into the mortar barrel, but did not let go.
The commander folded his fingers as he counted down, ’’Five! Four! Three! Two!’’
’’Fire!’’ ’’One!’’ the two voices rang out together.
The man holding the mortar round let go, and immediately ducked his head down to avoid injury.
After that, the round slid down the barrel as it was pulled down by gravity.
The tail end of the round was loaded with a propellant charge. The distance it flew could be adjusted by changing the amount of propellant. Once the charge hit the firing pin at the barrel's base, it triggered a small explosion. The shockwave produced by the detonating propellant launched the round from the tube.
First, a tongue of flame spouted from the mortar's mouth, and then the round flew out. This was the strange thing;there was almost no gap between the round and the barrel, yet the flames and shock wave emerged first.
After seeing this, the audience was frightened by the bang which was far louder than those of the guns. And then...
After that, a huge plume of black smoke bloomed from the target, followed a second later by the gut-churning sound of an explosion. In order to amplify the visual effect, they had fitted the round with a long-delay fuse, so it would explode on the ground. This would create a spray of dust and sand like in the movies.
And then the mortar continued firing.
The rounds dug huge chunks out of the earth, and the sounds of the explosions roared like thunder. They fired over ten shots in the end.
The Senators who saw this also imagined their cavalry and heavy infantry being blown to smithereens. In addition, they also envisioned their fortresses and castra engulfed in these explosions.
’’Sorry to trouble you, but... what is the maximum range of these weapons?’’
Itami did some mental calculations and replied, ’’Hmm, from the measurements of this place, I'd say 3 leagues or so (1 league = 1.6km).’’ This was a conservative answer;there was no need to accurately describe their weapons to their enemies.
’’Did you say three leagues?’’
In the Special Region, even the battlefields were not that large.
’’Ah, I have another question. How many of these weapons do you have?’’
’’I'm sorry, I can't tell you the exact details. You can assume that every man has one.’’
The Senators each reached the same conclusion. No, in truth, they had already known this. They just did not want to admit it to themselves.
If we fight them, we will lose.
They had experienced it firsthand. The Empire's soldiers, the Empire's weapons, the Empire's tactics, none of them could hope to defeat Japan.
Who was the idiot that suggested declaring war on a foe like this? The Senators looked at each other with hateful eyes, but all they saw was the pained expressions on each others' faces. Everyone had the same thing on their minds.
After that, they saw Piña and Sugawara watching them.
The Senators understood.
They knew why Piña had so enthusiastically volunteered to be a mediator. Indeed, it was for the sake of the captives... but she knew, before all of them had discovered now, that if the Empire continued fighting, it would be defeated. No, not defeated. Destroyed.
They were surrounded by women and children who knew nothing of the terrifying enemy they faced. And there were many other patricians other than them. None of them were on their guard. They lived in leisure. Before this day, Piña thought she might have been one of them.
After exchanging looks, Marquis Ducie and Lord Cicero stepped out of the group.
Cicero forced out his question.
’’Sugawara-dono. May I ask why Japan wants peace? It's clear that as long as they fight, they will be victorious.’’
’’Peace is exactly what my country wants.’’
Marquis Ducie replied in a voice that matched his distinguished station.
’’Peace... I see. What a pleasant-sounding word. But this word has many meanings. The peace attained through victory is sweet, but the peace of being defeated and cast aside is bitter. Both are peace all the same, but this old one is aware that they have completely different meanings. Until this day, this old one has only tasted the peace of victory.’’
’’But your Excellency, there is still some time before the armies of Japan come for us.’’
After hearing Cicero's words, the Marquis nodded.
’’You are correct. Peace talks are essential. However, we must verify the conditions of the peace treaty with Japan.’’
Sugawara nodded, and then he coldly stated the basic stipulations:
One: The Empire must admit its guilt in starting the war and hand over the persons responsible for punishment.
Two: The Empire must pay the appropriate damages to Japan. This amount is 500 million suwanis.
Three: The Empire must cede the territory around the Gate for 100 leagues around the Gate to Japan. A demilitarized zone will exist for 10 leagues around this border where both sides are not permitted to station military forces.
Four: The Empire must sign trade agreements with Japan.
’’Five... five hundred million suwanis?!’’
’’There wouldn't be that much money in the world even if you gathered it all together!’’
’’Asking to punish the responsible parties, on top of ceding territory, this is asking too much!’’
’’Exactly. Do you intend to destroy the Empire?’’
After seeing the panicking Senators, Sugawara hurriedly clarified the conditions.
’’There's no need to pay it all at once. Also, the sum can also be paid with mineral rights.’’
’’Even... even so... Don't you think it's a bit much?’’
’’It's, it's impossible. We won't be able to convince the other Senators of this.’’
’’How can you say you desire peace when you say this?’’
Piña was also trembling when she heard the conditions of the Japanese government.
To think, the peace proceedings she was presiding over would turn out to be a death sentence. Sugawara's words about paying in instalments and paying in mineral rights went in one ear and out the others.
Sugawara, who had been a pleasant diplomat who was building ties with Japan, was suddenly turning into a gigantic monster before Piña's eyes. The strength fled her body, and in the end, she could not even remain standing and sat down. In a voice filled with despair, Piña asked:
’’Sugawara-dono. May, may I ask how this is different from an unconditional surrender? Rather than this... wouldn't it be better to just kill us all and save the time?’’
’’Indeed, 500 million suwanis was probably too much of a shock,’’ Sugawara said after a brief pause to think.
’’That amount is basically one year's worth of our budget, and a little bit extra.’’
The Senators sat down one by one.
All the gold objects on the continent... starting from the crowns of their vassal kings, their treasure, their currency... if you gathered them all up and reforged them into suwani, they could not mint anywhere near 500 million of them. And to think, this huge sum was roughly equivalent to a year's expenses for the enemy. How big was this country called Japan?
Regarding the problem of payment, the Japanese government had already verified the Special Region's economic situation and identified potential problems before drawing up the agreement.
For example, the sum total of all the gold ever mined throughout the whole of human existence was around 160'000 tons. Granted, this was due to advances in mining methods over the recent two or three centuries.
Judging by the technological level of the Special Region, they probably still extracted gold by hand, using pickaxes and shovels. Even with the help of ogres and goblins, given their undeveloped methods, the total amount of gold extracted would be around 10'000 tons.
In addition, even the Empire could not completely administer the whole of the Special Region.
And within all this, the suwani was this world's most valuable currency.
A suwani contained roughly 60 grams of gold and was roughly the size of a Japanese 500 yen coin. It was very thick and heavy. Besides using it in circulation, it was also used as a form of investment, similar to the gold koban coins of Edo-period Japan. As a result, very few were made and almost none of them appeared on the market.
One thousand of these gold pieces would weigh 60 kilos. One million (one thousand thousand) of them would weigh 60 tons. 500 million of them would require 30'000 tons of gold... that was to say, it was impossible to pay.
Then there was the most commonly circulated gold coin in the Empire, the sink. It was slightly smaller than the suwani, and its gold content was slightly under ten grams. As a trade currency of the Special Region, its value was commonly subject to fluctuations depending on local conditions. Therefore they could not simply equate 6 sinks = 1 suwani by gold content alone.
Sinks were quite valuable because of their convenience in trade. Therefore, the exchange rate was 5 sinks to 1 suwani.
If the Empire bought back large amounts of currency to pay off the debt, it would cause hyperinflation and make buying things difficult. This would also affect other currencies.
The average citizen used silver denarii, and a soldier's daily pay was in soltas (a day's pay for a soldier was one solta). If gold currency was gone, then the importance of silver and copper currency would increase as well. This would lead to explosive inflation and eventually a large-scale halt in trade.
If they did pay this huge sum, it would not just be the Empire whose economy was destroyed, but the entire Special Region's. In addition, if they tried to bring so much money back through the Gate, the Americans, Russians, Chinese, French, Italians and other nuclear powers would most likely order a nuclear strike on Japan as well. With the gold market in freefall, the entire world's economy would collapse as well.
Therefore, actually paying 500 million suwanis was out of the question. If they actually paid it, it would cause a lot of headaches. Circulating inferior currencies with lower gold content would also be very troublesome. These poor currencies would cause a market crash if they were used in the Empire.
That being said, they could not actually tell them that the amount was ’’being decided’’.
On Japan's side, they were simply following the example of their neighbors after battle. They had asked for 1.4 times their yearly national budget, so Japan had instead asked for their yearly budget instead.
These funds would be used for compensation paid out to the victims, various other forms of compensation such as for loss of income caused by the Ginza Incident, in addition to the cost of the JSDF's ammunition, manpower, fuel, and so on.
Sugawara tried his best to explain these details to the Senators (of course, some things could not be said), and in spite of his clumsy command of the language, he finally managed to make the Senators understand.
The important thing was that the reparations they demanded could be met in ways other than by currency.
They would decide on the punishment of the responsible parties later. Similarly, the details of the trade agreements.
In other words, what Japan wanted was...
They wanted the Empire to apologize and say, ’’We were wrong, and we're sorry.’’
And then, they wanted someone to be punished.
The Empire had to pay reparations, as much as they could.
Because they could not possibly clear the entire debt in one shot, they would need to pay in instalments, and they could pay with valuable goods, or with the rights to underground minerals.
Everything around the Gate belonged to Japan, and the Imperial Army could not approach it.
And then, trade. Or rather, they could make more money with trade.
...Those were the details.
These terms were quite reasonable to the loser. In addition, they would not need to become a vassal country and pay tribute in perpetuity.
In the worst case scenario, after being defeated, the whole country would be conquered. Its rulers and nobles would be executed or exiled, and after its land was taken the people would become slaves and there was a chance there would be rampant looting in the cities and streets.
Therefore, this request for mere currency was incredibly lenient, in a sense.
The Senators who understood this point sighed in relief. Their shoulders were heaving, as though they had just finished a sprint.
’’Let, let's discuss this properly...’’
’’Y-yes, that's it. Let's sit down and talk about it. Especially the reparations. If we learn about each other's situations, we can find a solution that's satisfactory to both our sides.’’
Although it was not exactly what Sugawara was aiming for, it would seem the preparations for talks would go swimmingly. The dates, the participants... all these were settled in a flash.
At this point, Piña collapsed.
Perhaps she had fallen from shock, because she would twitch from time to time. Itami picked up a branch and poked her, and then Piña's entire body seized up.
’’Ah, Piña-dono. Are you alright?’’
Next, he patted Piña's face. Then, Piña suddenly threw open her eyes and grabbed Itami's hand.
’’Itami-dono... I... I don't think I can make it any more. So I must tell you right now. I'm very sorry about what happened back then. Please, please, I pray you will forgive me!’’
Back then? ...Ah, what happened back then. When Bozes and the others beat the crap out of me... As Itami recalled that incident, he gently lifted up Piña's upper body.
’’Oh, it's fine. Humans don't die so easily.’’
’’No, I can't... I'm not going to make it... please. Please forgive me, please...’’
’’I got it, I forgive you, I forgive you, so get a hold of Waah!’’
Piña was hugging Itami tightly.
And then, she muttered ’’Really? You forgive me... thank you, thank you so much...’’ before bursting into tears.