Clash of Hexennacht:Volume1 Chapter 10
Chapter 10: A Will Fills the Distance
Overwhelming extraterritorial shellfire
Hunter smiled bitterly. Several magic circles from those back in the States had appeared around her.
They had quickly divided up the work and calculated out a solution.
…A force redirection spell derived from my foothold stability spell.
The Hedgehog’s armor was physically quite strong as well, but she had cast a spell on it to further increase its defenses. Instead of hardening the armor, she had used the “foothold” spell.
“I had the damage ‘step’ out and away.”
Damage had permeated the entire five hundred meter form, but it had been allowed to escape from every single component. It all had to be done at once, so it had been far too much work for a single person.
However, Hunter could do it.
“The US has poured all of its military technology into this. It isn’t about to lose to something that’s powerful in just one way.”
“Representative Hunter, we could only do this because of your initial instructions.”
She heard the witch who acted as her commander back in U.S.A.H. Next, a male operator spoke up.
“You are synced with the Hedgehog. Without your reflexes and decisions, we cannot calculate anything. It all comes down to the one who provides the initial instructions.”
“Thanks,” said Hunter.
They’re all such nice people, she thought.
“Can I fire!?”
“Taking the your coming movement into account, you will have thirteen percent power for that. You can fire a non-physical shell!”
“The enemy Magino Frame lacks its mobility system, so it cannot pursue you!”
That settled it.
“Kagami, you need to put up your defenses!”
Even before she was told, Kagami had started switching Dikaiosyne from cannon mode to close-range attack mode.
“You never can seem to decide how politely to speak to me.”
“Just hurry up!”
“Eh?” said Horinouchi just before light exploded from Dikaiosyne.
Kagami lacked her main acceleration system. If she could not hold her ground in midair, then…
“This could be a problem!”
The impact produced a metallic sound and Kagami was blown away along with Dikaiosyne.
Horinouchi listened to the wind.
It only lasted an instant. Ether light scattered through the sky like fireworks and the two massive structures vanished from overhead.
One had been blown away by a cannon blast and the other had accelerated using the recoil and…
“Wh-where did it go!?”
Koutarou, I didn’t mean you. You don’t have to raise your hand.
Kagami lost sight of her enemy, but that was not all.
“Where am I?”
How far had she been sent through the air? All she knew was that a few minutes had passed.
Lacking an acceleration system was troublesome, but Dikaiosyne was still functioning. Fortunately, the cannon blast had hit the closed blade. The blade was meant to double as a ram, so it had Dikaiosyne’s thickest armor and it was the first thing she had pictured in her head when making it.
…Heh heh heh. Isn’t it cool?
But the real problem was her location. She had assumed she was somewhere in Tokyo Bay, but…
The geography visible down on her right was somewhat similar, but the bay was not deep enough and the entrance to the bay lacked the Uraga Channel made from the Miura Peninsula and the Bousou Peninsula.
Also, the landmass visible on the far side seemed to be the Miura Peninsula instead of the Bousou Peninsula.
“So would Mount Fuji be behind me?”
It was and that was something of a relief.
It proved that this world was no different from the world she had come from.
…And it proves this is one of the worlds we created.
She opened two magic circles while she thought: one to search for the enemy and one that controlled optics.
The first one told her there were no other Magino Frames within an eighty kilometer radius and she used the optical one to look across the horizon.
“Where is she?”
Where was Hunter’s Magino Frame?
Hunter floated among the clouds.
“Already close to Hawaii. The Hedgehog may be an armored sniper weapon, but it isn’t slow.”
Several islands were lit by the setting sun below.
She was over six thousand kilometers away from Japan, but it had taken less than ten minutes to arrive. More than eight or nine kilometers per second was easily over Mach 20. She had moved faster than a shell fired by the average Magino Frame.
Needless to say, that kind of speed was impossible even with the Hedgehog’s acceleration.
However, the “foothold” spell made it possible.
The moon could be seen overhead and a few manmade objects were visible between it and the earth.
The United States alone had a thousand of them orbiting the earth to observe the moon and protect the earth. Those manmade objects made a full revolution of the earth in an hour and a half, so what would happen if she worked with the United States to use one as her “foothold”.
The answer was movement at extreme speed.
That forcible swing-by allowed her to move anywhere in the world in a very short amount of time. That also meant she could quickly move to a sniping spot where her enemy could not detect her.
The frictional heat the Hedgehog had been unable to fully eliminate caused its surface to shimmer.
Its armor was more meant to endure that acceleration than it was to defend against attacks.
For lower Rankers, she only needed to collide with them during the initial swing-by acceleration. If she was confident enough, she would provide a shell the extreme acceleration of the swing-by and blow away her opponent with the shockwave as it passed by.
But that was not enough at the upper levels. If they could teleport, then even her acceleration seemed like a joke.
…That’s the problem with magic.
She was a witch too, but her home country had led to her focus more on the scientific or engineering side of it all. She thought of magic as a type of technology. That was why the clearly bizarre magical powers she sometimes saw at Shihouin Academy made for exhausting opponents.
At any rate, she had arrived at a good position. Hawaii was the westernmost point in the Pacific where she could receive the full backup of the United States. Guam and Okinawa had been wiped out ten years before, not to mention the Japanese mainland.
“I’d rather not damage Japan here, but…”
“Representative Hunter, this is U.S.A.H. of the North American Aerospace Defense Command! We have synced with the seventh fleet deployed in the Pacific!”
“Output is at eighty-seven percent. You can now produce physical shells.”
“I see,” said Hunter with a nod.
The rest was simple. The magic circles surrounding her contained the calculations made by the others. Now she only had to act as the on-scene commander and the actual combatant.
“Cannon fully deployed. System all green. Full barrel open.”
“Finished inputting the enemy location. Coordinates confirmed. …Fire-time transformation and guidance processing confirmed. Swing-by trajectory path confirmed. Please fire the first shot within seventeen seconds!”
“You can fire, Representative Hunter!”
“Understood. Magino Frame Hedgehog…main cannon.”
Hunter thrust her right first straight forward.
Koutarou was the first to notice.
During a battle between witches, the international organization named U.A.H. would remain silent as it had been created to oppose the Black Witch. This was to keep the battle fair, but it also meant the forces supporting the witches had to use everything at their disposal.
Currently, those two forces were the United States military and the Horinouchi family. The overall strength of the one dwarfed that of the other, but the Horinouchi family had been chosen as the Shinto representative for Hexennacht.
That meant the Horinouchi family had the cooperation of the Shinto network of all local Japanese deities. That network covered all of Japan’s territorial land, sea, and airspace.
All of Japan’s Shinto shrines and the Buddhist temples working with them had spread their protective barriers to their full detection range and the powerful shrines around the country were using their ley line control systems to detect the enemy. They had learned two things: the foreign presence had left Japan, and…
“Lady Mitsuru! A flying object is approaching from the southwest! It has exceeded Mach 25!”
“That’s an upper Ranker’s shell, isn’t it!?”
Horinouchi’s Akerindou could rival that in its initial speed and tension, but this had already arrived off the coast of Bousou and was approaching Kagami at tremendous speed.
“Kagami, please dodge it!!”
Oh, she’s being more polite again, thought Kagami, but she had something else to focus on.
“What? All the way from Hawaii?”
This was Hunter’s cannon shot.
Horinouchi was Shinto, so she would be able to detect anything in Japanese territory. So if someone was going to target Mount Fuji, a shot from the south would be caught early by the Okinotori Islands and similar territories.
The best direction would be from the island-less east and Hawaii was a very American choice, but…
“This is not good.”
Mount Fuji was behind her.
She could avoid the shot if she tried, but…
“I do not like correcting something I have already written.”
As she said that, one of her magic circles reacted.
The circle could detect anything within eighty kilometers and this flying object was moving at more than eight kilometers per second, so…
“It is already here, Hunter!”
A moment later, power itself collided with Dikaiosyne.
Dikaiosyne broke. The blade had the thickest armor, but before it could even bend, the force of the impact caused it to shrink, peel away as if melted, and then break into a top and bottom half.
The impact then tore into the rest of the sword, randomly striking different spots. The five hundred meter sword was forced into a spin and thrown into the Sea of Trees east of Mount Fuji. The crust of the Sea of Trees was smashed and earth shot to height of a few kilometers.
It sounded much like a broken bell and the shockwave tore into the Sea of Trees and blasted the crust away like a crashing wave.
The air current forced up by that earthen destruction was caught by the wind descending from Mount Fuji and fell back to earth a dozen kilometers further along.
Hunter’s shell had hit Kagami’s Magino Device.
“I did it!”
Hunter viewed the situation using the satellite that had provided her shell the final swing-by.
From her bird’s-eye-view in the evening sky, the eastern slope of Mount Fuji and the Sea of Trees looked like a dark shadow, but one of the operators in their headquarters enchanted the imagine with an engineering control spell.
The image grew brighter and more focused.
She could now see the destroyed land.
She briefly gasped because she was bracing herself to see tremendous damage.
The shell had been made to apply buffering to anything outside a radius of two kilometers so it would only damage her enemy and that enemy’s immediate surroundings. This was a battle between witches, not a fight to the death.
However, the fragments could not all be eliminated and the collision with the other Magino Device had affected the surrounding area quite a bit. She refused to say she was “glad” it had happened in the Sea of Trees, but it was definitely better than in a populated area.
However, she saw something beyond the rising smoke and the massive amount of ether light.
It was a blade. It was badly broken, but it was definitely there.
On the dusk-lit earth, something was floating up from shell hit where it looked like something had gouged into the ground and then been dragged along.
The floating object was a sword.
No, it could no longer be called a sword. After all, the blade had broken, the guard had shattered, and ether light smoke was pouring from it.
However, Hunter knew something. No matter how damaged or injured they might be…
“A magic girl has not lost until her Phlogiston Heart breaks.”
She knew the individual named Kagami had to be struggling there. Even after all that destruction, her will was telling the sky she could still fight.
“The enemy’s Magino Devi-…Frame is still functional!” came the report.
Ridiculous, she thought, while also thinking, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
…I would do the same thing.
Hunter also had something to bear, so…
…How about you, Kagami Kagami?”
The analysis of the shell hit arrived. It showed her shell hitting a 3D model of the enemy Magino Frame. In the instant of impact, Kagami had tilted her blade as if twisting it.
“She slanted her Magino Device and kept it moving to reduce and distribute the damage!” reported an operator.
“So she avoided a direct hit? …Dammit.”
Hunter was angry and frustrated but also delighted.
This was a formidable opponent.
She raised her arms as if lifting the bird’s-eye-view footage before her eyes.
“I’ve already damaged you, so how are you going to escape this one?”
She did not know what Kagami would do, but she knew the girl would do something. She would do something just like she had done several times from the beginning of the battle until now. And so…
“Prepare to load the second shot! Let’s keep pushing and-…”
As she spoke, she saw something in front of her.
She was looking at Kagami’s sword in the satellite footage.
A figure was standing in the center of it.
It was Kagami Kagami.
That girl had chosen an outdated Holy Knight-style Form and its armor was broken in a few places. Perhaps to repair it, ether light was hovering around those spots, but that was not the problem.
…Oh, come on.
Kagami was looking up at her.
Her eyebrows were raised as her gaze turned directly toward Hunter.
This was a common sight. It was simply her enemy giving her an unyielding look.
“Eh? W-wait a second…”
Hunter could not blame the operator for being confused.
“Are you returning my gaze through the surveillance satellite, Kagami Kagami!?”
…How ridiculous is this girl?
She wanted to know, but just how much did that correspond with her own goals? However, she already had the means prepared.
“Representative Hunter! The second shot’s swing-by trajectory has been confirmed!”
“Please fire within fifteen seconds!”
“Thanks,” Hunter said from the bottom of her heart.
She prepared to say “fire”, but…
A sudden voice cut into the communication line.
It had to be someone with the authority to interfere in her communications with the United States.
“I, Shihouin Academy Headmaster Shihouin Cerisier, command both of you to stop. And…”
“I will determine the outcome of this match. …Okay?”
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