I am pleased to announce that I have been drafting a sequel to ASFoF, titled A Sky Full of Thunder, which has been released on the anniversary of the original. The sequel takes place seven years after the events of Fire, and is designed to address a number of areas that I feel have yet to be thoroughly explored in Gate Fanfics:
-The post-Civil War world order, the dynamics of Pina's new government, and the relationship with Japan and the United States.
-The effect of even limited access to Earth technology and money, and how it affects the Special Region.
-The implementation of known concepts from Weigh Anchor, limited in scope, but enough to start the conversation on how they can be applied to the world in the future.
-The reaction to a certain weapon being used, and how it would affect the public image of the people from Earth.
-...and, of course, the lingering challenge that Carol posed to Greta at the end of Chapter 21. Is the fusion of magic and technology enough to make home-grown spaceflight possible?
As before, it's a character-driven work with action only where appropriate, the culture clash takes center stage, and American military involvement will be heavily restrained. I currently have a few chapters worth of content in reserve, and I'll be releasing the story at a pace that's hopefully consistent with my real-life schedule. Will this be as good as ASFoF? Probably not, but I hope that it gives people things to think about.
For now, here's a flashback section that got cut from Chapter 3. It messed with the pacing and was from the wrong character perspective, but I had too much fun with it to want to discard it.
THE RAID: A Prelude to A Sky Full of Thunder
SEVEN YEARS EARLIER, THIRTY MINUTES AFTER MIDNIGHT
Above Telta, Falmart
Princess Pina Co Lada had practiced this particular mission two dozen times, the first twelve in daylight, and the last twelve on pitch-black nights. While she had grown more confident in her role since the first attempt, the fact that they were here, finally carrying it out, filled her with a measure of dread.
Since the first time they'd practiced, the raid had become increasingly refined. This time, her helicopter was loaded only with members of the JSFG, whose Japanese commands were more familiar to her than the American's barked English. As a result, she didn't see a single American until they had already been disgorged onto the roof the Royal Manor.
And the first, of course, were Captain Hines of the 24th STS and a pair of Combat Controllers. She had become aware of the men after their actions at the Second Battle of Alnus against Hardy, Giselle, and their army of monsters. They hadn't appeared shaken then, and they way they appeared now, quiet, gargoyle-like as they watched from the rooftop, was chilling. Hines spotted her through the alien green eyes of his night vision goggles, and gave her a curt nod before returning to his duties.
Around the walls of the building, she could barely make out the forms of more American "Deltas" as they cut through Zorzal's guards. She had never interacted with them, but knew from observation that the walls would likely be cleared in six minutes or less. Occasionally, one would radio to Hines and his Controllers, who would call upon the airmen of the 160th SOAR to tackle a particularly well-defended position with their "Little Birds" and "Black Hawks."
She had no time to watch, however, as Itami and the other Japanese soldiers drew her across a balcony and into the Manor. Here, a different team had been busy. The hall was already littered with the bodies of various guards and officers, and was remarkably empty, save for two men, who were covering a position by the balcony door. These, she had been told, were SEALs; if it wasn't enough that America had specialists for their Army and Air Force, they had them for their Navy too. Despite the fact that they were hundreds of leagues from the closest ocean, the Americans had seen fit to send this group into the Manor itself, and, seeing the results on the floor, Pina wasn't about to argue.
"Progress?" the leader of the JSFG, a man with the callsign 'Saber' asked.
"This floor and the one below us are clear," one SEAL stated. "Six is finishing up on the floor above us. They're preparing one of their guys for medevac."
"Stabbed by that rabbit woman we were warned about."
Tyuule is here? Pina thought, and was about to ask her condition before the SEAL clarified, "But now she's dead, so fair's fair."
The JSFG officer frowned. "That was not what we agreed to."
"Not what I heard."
"We'll discuss this later. Zorzal?"
"They have him, they're just waiting on you."
With that, they moved down the hall, up a flight of stairs, and to a large room at the end of the third floor.
This was also part of the plan; the windows had been blacked out by thick tarps, and the room was fully lit by bright LED lamps, which illuminated the room's eight occupants.
Seven of the men present were of America's Elites of Elite, SEAL Team Six. Pina had never had a chance to see these men in action, the practice operation was normally at this stage by the time that she had arrived. She was willing to believe that they were as dangerous as they claimed to be, however. Itami had recounted for her one instance where this same group had been flown into another nuclear-armed country to kill a dangerous tribal leader, which had been the point that she realized that there wasn't anything particularly special about this mission. In fact, for these men, it was ordinary.
Two of these men stood at the ready with handheld camcorders, while the others stood guards over the eighth man, her brother.
Zorzal was a pitiful sight, having been attacked in his nightclothes, beaten into submission, restrained with zip-tie straps, and, from the looks of it, injected with some kind of medicine that placed him into a daze. When he saw her, he looked up and, with swimming eyes, called out to her, "Pina!"
Weeks of practice had caused Pina to become detached from the whole mission, but that was the moment where everything suddenly became real. This time, the SEALs were not standing around a training dummy. It was really him.
With a signal from one of the camera-holding SEALs, Pina started into the old customary challenge. "In the sight of our God Emroy, I do challenge your right of the Throne of Sadera. If you ever valued that post, defend it now with your life."
In the old stories, the line usually preceded an epic duel of famous men with famous swords that would be sung about by bards for decades to come. Here, the fight was over before it had even started. "Pina!" Zorzal cried from his kneeling position on the tile floor, "Pina, please! I don't want to die, please, stop!"
She held out her hand, and Itami placed into it a Mineba 9mm pistol. With long-practiced motions, she disengaged the safety, spread her legs slightly to stabilize herself, and took aim at her brother's head. At this distance of a few feet, it was impossible to miss.
And yet, staring into Zorzal's face, it was not his words that echoed in her head, but a different set, spoken weeks prior.
Step Eighteen, in Launch Action at this time. Hands on keys.
"I surrender!" Zorzal said, "Isn't that good enough for you? I'm sorry!"
Turn on my mark. Her finger curled around the trigger.
"How could you do this!?"
"YOU'RE MY SISTER!"
The roar of the gunshot stayed with her for seven years.