The Orbal Shutdown Phenomenon - Year 1203

S.1203, February - The southern reaches of the Sutherland Province.

All orbal power came to a sudden stop in the area around Parm and Titus Gate. It had been a relatively mild winter, but without lights, communications, or heaters, the people of Parm found themselves subjected to cold and darkness for an entire week.

The Sutherland provincial army was called in to provide aid. After a short investigation, the source of the outage was determined to be a city-sized airship that appeared over Valleria Lake in Liberl, the neighboring kingdom to the south.

The floating structure had a height of 5,000 and a length of 3,000 arge. The ancient Zemurian structure drew in nearly all orbal energy from the entirety of Liberl into itself. Thus, the southern reaches of Erebonia were affected as well.

Three days after the incident began, the Imperial Army's 3rd Armored Division moved with surprising speed from Dreknor Fortress to Parm, and then on to Titus Gate, giving support to those affected along the way.

Though the army's orbal tanks ceased to function near the empire's southern border, they also had a large number of steam-powered tanks available. Using the combustion-driven models allowed them to get around without relying on orbal energy. Even the cannons themselves used gunpowder ammunition. Though it wasn't ideal, it was enough to allow them to respond to the situation.

The leader of the 3rd Armored Division was Lieutenant Zechs Vander, a member of the family tasked with guarding the Imperial family and a moderate in an army led mostly by war hawks. He felt conflicted as he led his division south into Liberlian territory. The government's stated reason for his current orders were to protect the citizens during the power outage and assist Liberl during the current crisis.

The strange part was that the steamipwered tanks--which were vastly inferior to the orbal powered models--had been commissioned by the Imperial government and provided to army only a month before the incident.

Though the 3rd Armored Division was the first to make it to the border, a number of other divisions were on their way.

In the end, the military intervention was stopped thanks to Prince Olivert of Erebonia's Imperial family and Brigadier General Cassius Bright of the Liberlian Army. With the arrival of Liberl's functioning airship, Arseille as proof they could handle the situation without Erebonia's assistance, they were given the time they needed to restore power to the region. As orbal energy returned to the southern reaches of the empire, it signaled the end of the tension between the two nations.

To certain individuals, however, it was clear that the Faceless--the anguis of Ouroboros responsible for engineering the incident--had connections to Erebonia's Intelligence Division.

The small, autonomous weapons the Faceless utilized during this period of time would later come to be known as combat shells.

『導力停止現象』 S1203

七耀暦1203年2月——サザーラント州の最南部、パルム市とタイタス門周辺で"導力の停止現象"が発生した。

折しも真冬の時期、例年よりも暖冬だったとはいえ、照明・通信・暖房器具などの導力機器が使用不能となり——

紡績町パルムの住民は一週間に渡って寒さと夜の暗闇に震え、現地のサザーラント領邦軍は対応に追われることとなった。

原因については南の隣国、リベール王国の中央部に位置するヴァレリア湖上空に出現した"浮遊都市"と目されている。

全長5000アージュ、全幅3000アージュにもなるゼムリア時代のその古代都市は、リベールのほぼ全域から導力を吸収するという超越的な力を発揮し——

その範囲内に帝国南部の一地域まで入ってしまったのが導力停止現象が発生した"源因"であった。

——異変から3日後、正規軍第三機甲師団はドレックノール要塞から驚くべき早さでパレムに到着、現地住民を保護しつつ、タイタス門を越えて国境へと至る。

第三機甲師団が擁していたのは大量の蒸気戦車——現役を退いた旧式戦車に、蒸気の力を利用する外燃機関を搭載した"導力"に頼らず稼動する改造戦車だったのである。

その主砲も導力式ではなく旧時代の火薬が使用され、運用自体は難しいものの十分"実用"に耐えうるものだった。

第三機甲師団を率いるのはゼクス・ヴァンダール中将——皇室守護職の一門に連なり、正規軍内で中立の穏健派として知られる智将は、進軍しつつも強烈な違和感を感じていた。

『導力が停止した南部地域の住民を保護しつつ、混乱の極みにあるリベールの治安を()()()に回復せよ』

明らかに"侵攻"としか受け取れない政府の指令書。

異変の一ヶ月前に、政府から直接、蒸気戦車などという現行戦車よりも劣る改造兵器の運用を押し付けられたこと。

そして第三師団に続いて、同じく蒸気戦車を配備した数個師団がリベール国境を目指しているという状況……。

——最終的に、ユーゲント皇帝が一子、オリヴァルト皇子とリベール軍総司令力シウス・ブライト准将の機転によって帝国軍の介入は一時的に保留となった。

そして王国の飛行巡洋艦《白き翼》が向かったことで浮遊都市の機能は停止し、南部の導力停止現象も収まって、帝国とリベールの緊張も終了したかに思われたが……。

異変を主導したと目される結社の使徒《白面》が、()()()()()()()()()を通じて帝国軍情報局と連動していたのは一部の関係者の目には最早明らかであった。

———なお、 《白面》が使用していた自律制御型の小型兵装は、 《戦術殻》と呼称されている。

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