After the conclusion of the events at Iserlohn, the Empire launches an offensive on the 30th anniversary of Friedrich’s coronation. Reinhard is pleased that he’s able to participate in an expedition, but at the same time he’s reach a new level of cynicism because of how they got there. On the Alliance side, Rear Admiral Holland sees himself as the new Ashbey and the higher-ups pretty much let him have their way. When the battle gets underway, he impresses everyone on the Imperial side, except Reinhard and Kircheis who are unimpressed by his abandonment of tactics.
The episode began with the announcement of the expedition, which was driven more by Friedrich’s terrible domestic record as a ruler than anything else as he reached the rare milestone of 30 years of rule. Muckenburger, for his part, was hesitant to push for the move into Alliance space, but he could do nothing other than look dignfied while powerless. This was something Reinhard picked up on as the fleets launched from Odin.
On the Alliance side, there was already anticipation of an invasion, so fleets had been moved in to intercept. However, they had not adequately supplied them, so private merchants were hired to do some of the work. Unfortunately, Lobos had told the escort ships not to take too many risks before the big battle, so they generally abandoned the merchants at the first sign of trouble.
This came to a head in one incident where a group of merchant ships were left with one cruiser to protect them against a pair of Imperial cruisers. The Grand Canal protected the civilian ships, but the crew lost their lives in a massacre. This was seen as a triumph by the Alliance military who held a ceremony to celebrate the sacrifice that was made.
The promising Rear Admiral Holland was on hand to tell the media how they would make amends for the lives lost by beating the Empire. He was also being compared to Ashbey before the coming battle, which he also welcomed. Yang was also there, and gave a quote about how they should have given the Grand Canal some help rather than posthumous medals. The press officers were quick to usher him away, though.
The preparations for the battle progressed. Holland had his obvious plan to choose Tiamat as the battlefield approved by saying he would replicate Ashbey’s total victory. On the Empire’s side, Reinhard was giddy with the disagreements taking place between Muckenburger’s subordinates, but he would have to attend a strategy meeting with him to his regret. At that meeting, Reinhard could only think about how both sides were incredibly stupid in how they fought battles, but when asked he intentionally gave no thoughts on strategy. He also thought it was rather silly that champagne was brought out to celebrate a victory in the battle that hadn’t even started yet. The commanders on each side were a perfect match tactically from Reinhard’s point of view, in a bad way.
Just as the battle was about to get underway, Holland sent communications to the other Alliance commanders asking for autonomy from the rest of the fleets. While Bucock argued with him over the idea, Holland’s insults of his age and more generally his charisma won him the argument.
The battle began with Reinhard’s fleet stationed safely in support, much like Grimmelshausen’s was at Van Fleet, but the potential to get involved and earn a promotion to Admiral was definitely there. Holland, meanwhile, went on the full offensive with his fleet executing brilliantly fluent movements through the Empire’s front line fleets which had them in a state of panic.
Reinhard, though, was rather unimpressed. He saw the other commander as someone who thought they were being brilliant by blowing up all tactical theory, when real creativity is coming up with a new theory. However, one of his subordinates was impressed by Holland and made it a point of highlighting that Reinhard was just observing at this point while the other guy was wreaking havoc. Reinhard needed every fiber of patience in his body to wave him away, and though he knew waiting for Holland’s fleet to use up all its energy before moving in. Reinhard wanted to be praised by Kircheis for what he was doing, but he knew that if it worked out Kircheis would ask for Reinhard to forgive them.
Thoughts: Whoever commented all those months ago about the next coming of Ashbey was definitely right. I do like how silly it is that someone could get to the point of commanding a fleet while having absolutely no clue about tactics. It does actually seem somewhat plausible, like a businessman who blows up companies but has a fantastic handshake. The conclusion to the battle will surely come as Holland’s resources run out and Reinhard moves in. That’s probably the command opening Yang needs.