The Italica Crisis
← Chapter 8
Chapter 10 →
Chapter 9 of the Gate - Thus the JSDF Fought There! manga chapter title "The Italica Crisis." Note Sekai translates "Crisis in Italica."
Just as his car was travelling along the road in front of Tiananmen in China, the president of China discussed with his aide of his idea to send half of China's current population through the Gate to lessen the burden on the country; maybe even colonize the Special Region and make it an extension of the current China. Back in Japan, the mass media was throwing all kinds of accusation towards the JSDF concerning the death of the refugees from Coda Village, trying to pin it down as a failure of JSDF. The news eventually reached the ears of Hazama Kouichirou and Yanagida Akira of Alnus base. Hazama was ordered to present Itami Youji and some of the Special Region residents involved in the incident back at Japan to explain the incident. However, Itami himself had left Alnus and headed towards Italica with the Third Recon Team and the three domestic people who had volunteered to join them; Lelei La Lalena, Tuka Luna Marceau and Rory Mercury.
Lelei was fascinated with the many new things the JSDF were equipped or provided with. Taking notice of her fascination as he's giving navigation to Kurata Takeo, Kuwahara Souichiro took some time off and began explaining how to look at the map and how to discern the direction using a compass. Kurata was a bit irritated at the scene of how Kuwahara was enjoying himself like how a grandfather was lovingly explaining things to his granddaughter since he had once suffered greatly under him when he was a cadet, particularly with Kuwahara's unhealthy command of making them run high port all the time. He was briefly distracted by Itami when was asked what he thought what Rory and Tuka had been talking about while blushing furiously at the back of the vehicle. He simply said that they were more probably talking about something indecent, something which Itami seemed to agree with.
Before long, the Third Recon stopped their vehicles somewhere along the road to Italica when they saw clouds of smoke rise up in the distance. Itami asked for Lelei's thoughts whether they should continue along. Confused at first when she couldn't see clearly through a pair of binoculars, Lelei quickly understood that she had been looking through the binoculars the wrong way and confirmed that it was indeed smoke that was rising in the distance. Itami wanted to know about the cause, to which Lelei replied that it's not the season of harvest and the smoke was too thick for a "key". Itami didn't quite understand what she had been getting at with her key remark initially until Kuwahara mentioned that the smoke was evidently rising from where Italica should be. Finally grasping the idea that something bad might be happening at their destination, Itami gave an order through the radio telling the Third Recon to be on the lookout of their surroundings as they approach Italica. Just as he had finished, Rory looked at the smoke and happily spoke that there's smell of blood in the air.
Italica had been the realm under the rule of the Formal Clan of which the current head of the family was an eleven years old girl by the name of Myui. Because of how she was too young to even govern, her two married sisters fought with each other for her guardianship which eventually resulted in the troops from the Formal Clan pulled out from Italica and the security worsened in the end with the added problem of rise in criminal activities and on the day Itami and the Third Recon were to arrive, the place was under siege from an army of bandits that were formed from the collective survivors of the decimated armies which had fought against the JSDF at Alnus Hill. Pina Co Lada took the mantle of command during the time of siege, aided by Hamilton Uno Ror, Norma Co Igloo and Grey Co Aldo.
Pina was frustrated to find that the surviving armies turned to banditry when she had initially came to Italica in hope of learning more about the enemies of the Empire that came from another world. What's left of the people of Italica after the siege were so tired that most of them couldn't stand on their feet. They didn't feel joy from surviving the onslaught but fear that they would not hold on till Pina's Rose-Order of Knights arrive three days later. Taking the short moment of peace, Pina decided to take some rest back at the mansion of Count Formal after assigning watch duties to Norma. With her armors taken off, Pina stretched her fatigued muscles before taking a bite from the meal served, something she considered to be insufficient to fill her empty stomach as she had hoped for meat. The head maid of Formal Clan, Kaine, said that it was not advisable to have meals that have strong taste when the body was tired. Pina asked if she had been in a siege before. Kaine answered that she was was once in a siege in Rosa thirty years ago. After the meal, Pina wanted to catch some shut eyes and reminded Kaine to wake her up should anything happen. Kaine assured her that she would do so with a bucket full of water.
Lying on the bed, Pina couldn't even catch a moment of shut eye as her mind wandered through the dilemma she and her men faced at the moment. There was just a handful of battle worthy soldiers standing guard in Italica while Italica's people who had been fighting back died in droves. Then, her thoughts returned to her early years. Pina Co Lada was the fifth child of Emperor Molt Sol Augustus, born from a concubine and stood as the tenth in line to the throne of the Empire. She began her fascination of knighthood at the age of twelve, after watching a stage play. It was something of a mock training at the beginning but after taking in a true military instructor, she and her knights who were children of nobles truly began the reformation towards military understanding. By the time Pina reached the age of sixteen and at the full bloom of roses, her contingent of knights truly became a reality. Even though seen as mere decorative members of the Empire, Pina herself had long yearned the taste of true battle and that had been the underlying reason Pina brought the Rose-Order of Knights towards Italica.
Before she could continue her train of thoughts, her attention was forcefully brought back to the present by a bucket full of water, courtesy of Kaine. Grey took the moment to inform Pina that there was an unknown group of people approaching the East Gate. Looking through a small opening, Pina could not recognize the ones who seem to have arrived in some metal vehicles of unknown origin. Norma himself said to Pina that there were no other hostiles in sight and ordered the unknown people to show their faces while having the ballistas put on the walls aimed at the metal vehicles.
Itami and Kurata both wondered what would happen then as the people of Italica didn't seem too hospitable from the vehicles. Itami first suggested that Lelei, Tuka and Rory to stay away at a safe place. Lelei rebuked by saying that she would instead try to talk to the soldiers in the Third Recon's stead. Tuka also volunteered to go with Lelei though she wasn't sure that they should actually go to Italica by the look of the situation. Still, she cast an anti ballistic spell just as a precautionary measure. Rory simply followed the two as they exited the vehicle and headed towards the gate of Italica with a devious smile on her face. The idea of letting three females go into danger didn't sit well with Itami and he decided that he should go with them, putting Kuwahara in charge of the Third Recon in his absence.
The sight of Lelei and Tuka put Pina on high alert as the combined magic of a Lindon sage and and an elf's magic would be disastrous to Italica at the time. When she saw Rory coming out of the vehicle, despair came down upon her as the disciple of Emroy who aged over nine hunded was an enemy she would not want to face. Though not knowing whether the death incarnate had actually allied herself with mere bandits, Pina decided it would be far more fruitful to try and coerce Rory to join her side. Wasting no time, she unbarred the door and swung it open to greet the three ladies only to find the three looking at Itami who was out cold at the entrance when slammed face first by the door which Pina opened in anticipation. Tuka wasted no time trying to bring Itami back to his senses by emptying his canteen onto his unconscious self while throwing angry scoldings towards Pina, calling the princess as someone who was no better than a goblin. Itami came to not long after, seeking an explanation to what had actually happened and Pina was forced to do it herself as everyone else backed away from the culprit who had knocked Itami out.