Clash of Hexennacht:Volume1 Chapter 15
Chapter 15: There Lies a Rebuke
A second meeting
Is known as a reunion
Koutarou stopped just before leaving the headmaster’s office.
The support maids had sent a report informing him that Kagami had arrived on the battlefield.
…Honestly. Very well done.
He had already known she was on the way to the battlefield. After all…
“Lady Headmaster, about that paperwork…”
A few pieces of paperwork were lined up on the headmaster’s desk.
They included an application to join the school and an acceptance form. The headmaster smiled bitterly as she commented on them.
“Yes, well…she is a silly girl. Just look at this.”
She pushed forward a paper containing the details needed to purchase a uniform.
“She said she needed to ‘officially become a student’ before going to save her, so she even had her measurements taken for the uniform before leaving.”
The noise in the sky had increased considerably, so the windows rattled and the ceiling creaked as the headmaster said one thing more
“But I’m glad they seem to be having so much fun.”
Horinouchi asked a question of the person before her eyes.
She did not know what answer she would get and that made her uneasy.
How could she have decided to come here?
…How could you ever think to come save me when I didn’t join the battle yesterday?
That was what her question had meant, but the holy knight crossed her arms and nodded.
“It is simple, Horinouchi. Your battle was producing an awful lot of stray shots.”
Something about that answer seemed off, but Kagami kept going with her gaze focused far to the east.
“As I was approaching the battlefield, I decided I needed to understand the struggles you two had gone through, so I got myself worked up, let your stray shots hit my Normal Frame, and accidentally filled up my transformation gauge.”
…Now she’s bragging about how weird she is!?
That was not what she had been asking.
To be honest, both Hunter and Kagami fell into the “weird” category as far as she was concerned, so she had just assumed they could make the shift to Magino Frame somehow or another.
But that was not what she had been asking.
“Then let me change my question.”
With that opening, she changed the question word to leave no room for confusion.
“Oh, that is obvious, Horinouchi.”
Kagami’s tone seemed to say “Oh, is that what you were asking?”
“Yesterday on the pier, you listened to and believed what I said, and you worried about me despite putting on a mask of displeasure.”
She had no distinct memory of whether she had been worried or not, but…
…Isn’t that the obvious reaction?
Kagami had claimed to be a resident of another world who had gone beyond reckless, made several mistakes, and came to see the destruction those mistakes had caused. She had claimed her mission was to stop that destruction even if it meant killing her own sister.
The power she had demonstrated supported those claims and left Horinouchi with no choice but to believe her. And when looking at it from her point of view, how could one not worry for her? But…
She had not said that.
In fact, her actions had told a different story when she had not helped her.
She had shown her own cowardice back then, and yet…
“You were worried for me,” said Kagami. “And I am not about to overlook that.”
“I heard your story as well.”
Koutarou had told her what had happened to Horinouchi and her mother ten years before, so…
“I must take responsibility for bringing you such sorrow.”
“I don’t need you to-…!”
Kagami turned toward their enemy on the great sword that acted as a barrier.
“This is an issue of what I feel is necessary.”
Now then, thought Kagami as she faced Hunter.
This was her first time seeing the girl’s completed Magino Frame.
…It looks a lot like a fighter jet. That’s pretty cool. Well done, America.
“Heh heh. What are you going to do, Hunter?”
“This just means there’s going to be one more injured person in the end, so it doesn’t matter much to me. …Are you sure you want to do this?”
Kagami tilted Dikaiosyne horizontally.
The light visible at the back of Hunter’s Magino Device likely meant the thrusters were ready to go.
…This is about to develop into a high speed battle.
Kagami spoke while opening up her own main thruster.
That girl was a good person. She had believed the story of Kagami’s past even though it sounded like nonsense. So…
“Horinouchi, if you are willing to trust in what I told you.”
…I don’t even need to ask.
“Then I hope you can trust me now, too.”
Koutarou drove his loaner car northward around Tokyo Bay.
His destination was Chiba and the destroyed Bousou Peninsula.
Most of the region was nothing but ruins, but it was still a useful location as the “southeast” of the Japanese mainland.
…Yesterday, her shell got through because she aimed for the eastern gap.
He had communications equipment and spell strengthening devices inside the car, so by driving there, he could fill the hole in the country’s detection and perception network. He also received word from their headquarters.
“Head Butler! Lady Mitsuru is currently travelling east at 270 kph from 120 km west of the United States! But the readings for the Rank 3 enemy and Lady Mitsuru’s partner have pulled away at even greater speed and have arrived over the United States!”
That isn’t good, was his view of that.
…Miss Hunter is probably on her way to a starting point for her swing-by movement.
That method gave her truly unmatchable speed. The one flaw was the need to use a satellite as a foothold.
…To increase safety and accuracy when moving, the coordinates need to be as even as possible.
That meant she had to be very exact in her actions.
Sometimes she would be able to move from one swing-by to another and other times there would not be any around. This was the latter case.
Kagami had caught on and started pursuit. She was trying to drive Hunter off course before she could reach the starting point.
The information from headquarters displayed the three witches’ movements inside a spell circle. They had all arrived on America’s west coast and Hunter and Kagami were moving far out ahead. But Hunter’s course would waver at times.
“Is Lady Kagami battling that heavy armor?”
She was using an outdated Holy Knight-style, she was fighting on her own, and yet she was taking on someone with the backing of the cutting-edge US military.
…Just how many battles has she fought in?
A smile appeared on his lips as he did some adlibbed driving along the destroyed road.
The headmaster had been exactly right.
This was fun. After all…
Now that he had grasped the situation and where it was headed, he spoke to the maids working in the support base below the headquarters.
“Change Lady Mitsuru’s partner’s designation to ‘Miss Kagami’. I have a feeling we’re going to be working with her for quite some time.”
“Understood,” replied a maid as the label on the spell circle changed.
After confirming that, he gave additional instructions since the enemy had the support of the US military.
“Measure their locations using our group’s industrial satellites or other nations’ observation points. If the United States is supporting the enemy with their military power, then…”
Theirs would not be military power, but…
“We will provide the support of the Horinouchi Group from the entire surface of the earth.”
“Kagami! I’m getting support from my people, so I’ll send that to you!”
Kagami nodded at the transmission arriving over a spell circle.
She saw a map of the west coast and central region of the United States with their trajectories added on. Also…
…Are those the paths of as many satellites as they could find!?
“You have some excellent people, Horinouchi.”
“They don’t have any military power, but they have joined with the IZUMO conglomerate to spread a Shinto-based trade network to every part of the world. So as long as we’re over the land, our non-spell observation and trajectory predictions can sometimes surpass even America’s!”
“That is much appreciated,” muttered Kagami as she continued firing.
She was using her secondary cannons.
Currently, Hunter’s Magino Frame and Kagami’s Dikaiosyne were fighting a high-speed battle while moving faster than the speed of sound.
They did not have time to use their main cannons, so Kagami was using her secondary cannons to fire beams of light with a high-level homing ability. The bluish-white lines of light curved through the air and took punching trajectories toward Hunter.
Hunter used her own secondary cannons to scatter countless bullets.
They were slow, but they made for dangerous obstacles.
Kagami opened a spell circle to track the entire barrage at once. She swept them all aside with the homing beams of light and then aimed at her opponent again.
For both defense and offense, Hunter alternated between scattering her barrage and sending out rapid-fire sniper shots.
They tore and stabbed at each other while both trying to gain as much ground as they could.
Kagami’s weapons were accurate and powerful but few.
Hunter’s weapons were numerous but weak.
To gain the best position, they both circled around, occasionally collided, and then moved away again.
Kagami felt the need to praise Hunter’s adlibs.
Even with such heavy armor, the girl had not taken any obvious hits. Kagami had assumed she would have difficulty with defense since she was used to attacks and charges, but she was actually avoiding it all with the smallest amount of evasion needed.
“Well done, Hunter!”
“That’s right!” shouted Hunter as their collision scattered sparks and she accelerated away. “I don’t get America’s help just for my cannon shots! I use them for my evasive actions too!”
“In that case…” Kagami shouted a question as she pursued and moved Dikaiosyne through the barrage. “If you have this much power, why don’t you lend it to everyone else!? Isn’t America supposed to be the world police!?”
“Then,” shouted Hunter.
She broke through a morning cloud, let the light of her bullet wash over her as it broke one of Kagami’s blasts, and waved her right arm down below.
“Then look at this!”
In an instant of wind, Kagami saw something as she exchanged fire and hopped up as part of her evasive action.
As they moved from America’s west coast, the ground below should have contained a large city and the natural majesty of the Grand Canyon.
But it did not.
Kagami looked down while forcibly passing below a barrage yet immediately ascending afterwards.
There was nothing but destruction.
A several kilometer wide hole sat in the middle of the city and the Grand Canyon had mostly collapsed like a sand castle crushed by a child.
The worst part was the kilometer wide craters connecting east to west. And more could be seen far to the north and south.
“Do you understand now?”
Hunter arrived by her side. She punctuated her question by ramming her five hundred meter long Device into Kagami’s.
“This is the damage from Hexennacht ten years ago! This is what the Black Witch did with the power that leaked from the seal. In other words…”
They reached more ruins as she spoke.
The central United States, an area known for its industrial cities, was only a series of great gashes in the land.
“In other words, this great nation is not so great anymore.”
Horinouchi flew through the sky as the battle fought by the other two continued pulling away.
Even so, she could hear Hunter’s voice.
“Ten years ago, our most skilled witches were killed and we lost our strength.”
“So America made a certain decision. To take responsibility as the world police and as the nation with the greatest military force, we decided to settle it all by ourselves.”
Horinouchi heard her.
“Do you understand now!?”
A powerful light shot by to the starboard side.
The Hedgehog must have entered firing mode and used its main ether cannon. Several points of light linked together far in the eastern sky, but they were most likely Kagami’s secondary cannon blasts being swept away.
Hunter had great strength, but…
“Do you understand now!?”
Hunter’s voice seemed to be pressing her for an answer.
“My dad was a pilot and he loved flying. But…”
Horinouchi wondered why it was she did not want to know what followed that word.
“But ten years ago…he went missing.”
She’s the same, realized Horinouchi. She’s fighting with the same feelings in her heart.
Yes, that’s right, thought Hunter. We must all be the same. We all have the same feelings in our hearts.
“That’s why I became a witch. And that’s why I fly.”
She had had no other choice. After all…
“By doing that, I thought I could see the same things my dad did. But you know what I saw there instead?”
She could even see it now. It was spread out below her cannon blasts and her speed.
“This ruined land!!”
“That moon that never vanishes from the sky!”
She rammed Kagami again. Sparks flew and a great shaking reached her. She briefly gasped at the gaze viewing her from behind, but she managed to draw out her voice.
“So I made a decision of my own!”
“And what was that?”
“Well,” she answered amid the collision, pushing, and scraping. “I decided I would make sure I was the only one that had to feel like this.”
With those words, she saw Kagami’s shoulders relax.
The girl hung her head and spoke.
Horinouchi looked up at what Kagami said.
…I was wrong.
She had thought everyone felt the same way, but there was one person here who did not.
There was a single reason for that which made so much sense: that girl was not from this world.
And that was why she was wrong and yet right.
From an outside perspective, Kagami was exactly right about their conflict and stubbornness. So…
She heard those two simple words that Hunter spoke.
There was a lot she wanted to say. She wanted to speak with and exchange thoughts with this opponent. And if they could continue on together…
Several thoughts came together to form a single thought. It did not matter how powerful this opponent was…
“Let’s win this!”
You make it sound simple, thought Kagami with a bitter smile.
But she agreed. They had to defeat this opponent. But…
A sudden impact reached her. Hunter had been continually ramming and pushing her, but now the girl moved away. She started forward quite forcibly.
“Is she using her main cannon!?”
Hunter’s Device used the air resistance to make a half-turn with a loop-the-loop. She was going for a close-range charge while flying upside down.
It was far too forceful. As things were, she did not have the speed necessary to destroy Dikaiosyne with a collision.
…What is she trying to do!?
Kagami hurriedly shifted Dikaiosyne into firing mode. She already had a shell formed, so…
With a great roar, light exploded out.
It would be nice if it hit, but it would still wear down her armor if it only grazed her. Except…
…She moved out of the way!?
Hunter’s Device had moved down below Dikaiosyne.
Kagami immediately prepared her secondary cannons and fired down at the other girl during their slow passage.
Hunter also opened her secondary cannons and fired from close range.
Explosions of light and shockwaves burst between them.
In that instant, Kagami realized what her opponent was really after.
Hunter fell from the sky and landed on top of Dikaiosyne as it shook.
Hunter had a single goal.
…I need to force her away!
Kagami’s Device was sturdy. Secondary cannons and a light hit from the main cannon were not going to be enough. Plus, Kagami knew where the swing-by starting points were and was keeping Hunter away from them.
As things were, they would wear each other down and Hunter would ultimately have trouble dealing with the nearly undamaged Horinouchi.
So she had jumped over.
She had given her Magino Device instructions to continue onwards, jumped off of it, and ran along Kagami’s Device.
Kagami quickly raised her Normal Device to defend, but Hunter hit her, sword and all.
The Hedgehog’s pile bunker was prepared on her left arm. She came in low, planted her feet on the Magino Device’s armor, and based her movement on the rotation of her hips in order to…
…Hit her upwards!
She scored a clean hit on the Normal Device that Kagami held up as a shield.
The girl floated up from the Magino Device and Hunter felt the tactile feedback of the blow.
With that groan, Kagami vanished from before her eyes.
The hit from the Hedgehog had blown her away and she crashed into the guard of the great sword.
A roar and smoke rose from where she landed and the five hundred meter Device shook.
But Hunter did not care. She simply ran forward without losing the momentum of her strike.
She jumped down to the Hedgehog passing by below.
Kagami peeled herself from Dikaiosyne’s guard while feeling both impressed and worried.
She wanted to praise Hunter’s tactics. She had known the girl was a close-range fighter, but…
…I never thought she would jump from her Magino Frame to challenge me to a close-range fight.
Kagami realized she was still too close-minded and decided to try it herself if she ever had the opportunity. However…
She looked back where Hunter’s Magino Device was twisting around.
Its main cannon was aimed her way and light filled its barrel.
She could not avoid being shot, but the half-charged blast could not destroy Dikaiosyne. Also, firing in the direction she was traveling would slow her down.
A quick glance at the spell circle answered it all.
There was a swing-by starting point right over there, so…
With that word, Hunter fired.
Dikaiosyne shook from the blast and it was shifted off course. A moment later, the wind was whipped up.
Hunter’s Magino Device had gained the speed of an orbiting satellite.
It was a sheltered form of high-speed travel. The wind and everything else was deflected by the Hedgehog’s divine protection.
“I’ve done it now…”
Kagami’s word of scolding remained in Hunter’s mind.
…I’m a fool, huh?
In that case, Horinouchi must be as well, but…
“I just parted ways with them. And…”
After pulling in the communications spell circle from the ones opened in front of her, she took a breath and faced only forward.
“HQ, this match is officially only against Horinouchi, so I’ll target her. …Is she over Brazil right now?”
That was perfect. That plus Hunter’s current swing-by direction produced an interesting result.
“I’m returning to the coast of Japan.”
What would happen if she targeted Horinouchi who would have lost sight of her?
“Yes, it’s time to snipe her from halfway around the globe.”
When Horinouchi received a report that Hunter’s location had been lost, she quickly shifted Akerindou’s course. She moved over the southern ocean to make sure no damage would be done to any cities.
Plus, she knew her enemy would know her location, so continuing in a straight line would only make her a sitting duck. But…
“Where did she go…?”
“Lady Mitsuru, I believe we can determine the enemy’s location.”
“She already knows where I am, right?”
It was possible the girl had already fired from far away, so when it came to firing an attack or an interception…
“Can we make it in time?”
“Yes, but to do so…” Koutarou spoke sharply. “I would like your help.”
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