Clash of Hexennacht:Volume2 Chapter 14
Chapter 14: I’m Made to Look Back
That which can be restored with anger?
That which wells up from memories?
Kagami noticed a familiar scent in the air.
This was Tokyo Bay.
Fresh water and salt water mixed together here. The northern end was shallow and the water temperature rose easily, so the smell of water grew stronger there. The scents of the nearby shopping and industrial districts mixed in to create a unique local aroma.
That characteristic seemed to have weakened with Tokyo half-destroyed in this world, but…
“It seems the North Pole was just too clean. …Isn’t that right, Tokyo? It is nice to be back.”
She looked down to the dark water below and saw a giant school island and the moon reflected next to it.
She had been ejected as if being thrown toward that.
Akerindou next to her turned back toward Mary’s Magino Device behind them.
“Give me the results of this scan!”
The witches of Shihouin Academy ran out of the dorms and school buildings when this battlefield appeared in the night without warning.
It was still early, so a lot of them had been eating dinner.
Most of the school buildings and dorms had lowered their explosion- and spell-resistant shutters and warnings were telling no one to go in or out, but no one obeyed those. They all moved out into the late summer night air and ran toward anywhere with a view as they listened to the cicadas and other insects chirping in the night.
Some unlucky ones were too slow and thus trapped inside the buildings, but they displayed a video feed from the broadcast committee or attempted to force their way out with spells, only causing more alarms to ring.
Regardless, they all looked up to the night sky. This did not just apply to Shihouin Academy. On the coast of Tokyo Bay, from Shinagawa to Yokohama, in Shonan, and even across most of Kantou, people opened their windows and doors to point into the sky.
“What is that!?”
It was the battle for Rank 2.
This would decide the second defender of the world, so everyone looked up into the night.
The battlefield was primarily situated at an altitude of four kilometers.
With the grim reaper’s Magino Frame at the center, the great sword and great bow took opposite sides and raced clockwise through the sky.
They revolved around it.
The grim reaper’s scythe targeted and pursued the two Devices, but they kept their distance and continued firing their secondary cannons.
The three seemed to twist around above Tokyo Bay, creating wind and clouds.
The wind roared, the night roared, and the cannons and engines created an ensemble of bells and chains. The vibration tossed up spray from the water below and the trees shook their branches as if in applause.
Then the great sword took action.
It had likely decided it had the momentum it needed. While it revolved around the black scythe, it faced that Device, spun through the air, and aimed its main cannon.
“Milady, Lady Kagami and Lady Mary are placing each other in their line of fire!”
“I can see that!”
Mary had to be focusing on Kagami at the moment, so…
…How about this!?
But Horinouchi’s secondary cannon shots were erased just before they collided with the black scythe Device.
She also heard Mary’s voice.
“I learned my lesson yesterday!”
Mary had already corrected for the guided attack Horinouchi had sent her way from below her field of vision. She had likely placed sensors on the Device itself, but that would mean she had altered her Magino Device overnight.
…I guess she is the top of the Spell Division!
But Horinouchi recalled her discussion of strategy with Kagami and Hunter the night before. Kagami had made a certain suggestion based on her combat experience.
The girl had obeyed her great hunger by asking for another plate and she had said the following:
“Mary is controlling her annihilation spell. Do you know what that means?”
“Well, she would be controlling it, wouldn’t she?” Horinouchi had answered. “She chooses between homing or guided rounds, right? What about it?”
“You mean her interceptions aren’t set to automatically respond, right?” asked Hunter.
That had clued Horinouchi in and Kagami had nodded at that apparent understanding.
“Horinouchi, you do not have your secondary cannons automatically respond much either, do you? Is that because drawing the bowstring and firing is more your style?”
“If I set them to fire automatically, the ether consumption gets pretty ridiculous.”
Hunter had spread her mouth horizontally and muttered “Just how much power do you give those things?”, but she had decided to ignore it.
“Mary’s Magino Device is most likely the same. Her annihilation spell eats up a lot of power and she could lose control if it reacts automatically. She is likely afraid of that.”
“Then if they don’t react automatically…”
She had recalled the lack of defenses when she had fired her attack the day before.
“That is why she did not respond to your attack from her blind spot. Simply put, that Magino Device’s weakness is any attack from her blind spot.”
“But she’ll have a way of dealing with that tomorrow, won’t she?”
“Yes,” Kagami had agreed. “She will have learned that a buddy system pair can send one partner to her blind spot while she focuses on the other.”
“That does not change the fact that she is controlling her cannons. And those scythe cannons must fire along a certain path from their base. Even if she can react to an attack from her blind spot, her control of those bases should not be perfect. …So I will charge in early to draw those paths toward me. You record that and pierce her when you find a hole.”
That had been their plan, but things had turned out differently in a good way.
…I can’t believe this.
During the battle above the North Pole, Kagami had already recorded the paths of the scythes. Horinouchi had just left that scan with Koutarou and sent some extra data as well, but…
“Milady! The scan is complete! Please take this!”
“Excellent job, everyone!”
In the spell circle, Koutarou bowed and the maids cheered.
I have such wonderful allies, she thought while opening another spell circle. The information sent there showed a 3D model of Mary’s Magino Device and a spherical barrier surrounding it.
The barrier was a mesh made up of countless scythe paths. A close look showed some gaps, but…
…They’re so narrow!
Nevertheless, this was her job.
She had been told to snipe through those gaps, so…
“Here I go!”
Horinouchi flew forward as the Suzaku shouted on her shoulder.
She could perceive her opponent’s annihilation. Akerindou was constructed by the Suzaku servant. It had been a little Suzaku-y(?) lately, but this should still work.
In the middle of her revolution, she moved in toward her opponent and quickly circled down below. The spell circle in front of her eyes showed her the gaps in her opponent’s blind spot. Then she only needed to forcibly face upwards toward one of those.
The Suzaku gave a strange cry from her shoulder as the pressure of acceleration grew.
A sumo referee!? she wondered while making her descent. She passed down through the wind and one of Akerindou’s wind shield panels was torn away on the upper port side.
Mary was targeting her, but…
…I made it into her blind spot!
Her sights fit right into the gap between the scythes. And…
What? Isn’t this her blind spot? she wondered just as she saw something.
The night sky had vanished from the ocean surface below and she saw something else instead.
She saw the bottom of Tokyo Bay. The water had been forcibly removed over a radius of about a kilometer.
It was the annihilation.
Mary had predicted the attack from her blind spot and made a certain decision: since she could not control the cannon bases for a precise counterattack, she would make a large scale attack over the entire area.
There was no real need to hit. Even if it was fired blind, such a large attack would include a lot of the sea and the atmosphere.
When the annihilation spell removed a large chunk of the atmosphere, it would create a sudden air pocket. Of course, floating divine protections could deal with a vacuum, but the air current would start to suck her in.
Before she could say anything more, Akerindou vibrated as it fell into the kilometer and a half gap.
Hunter saw it happen as she rode atop an FA-18 conveying data from the 7th Fleet to Atsugi.
In the night sky, the vermilion and white Magino Device had fallen vertically into an air pocket and collided with the wall of atmosphere below.
Akerindou had fallen into a vacuum, but air was immediately drawn into it and the shockwave battered the Magino Device.
It was only momentary, but Akerindou still lost control. And a high level Ranker was not going to overlook that.
Mary’s Device had been pursuing Kagami, but now it turned Horinouchi’s way.
Hunter sensed it facing downward and firing an invisible blade. Three scythes combined into a single tip that was swung straight down toward Horinouchi’s Akerindou.
Mary saw her attack fired a kilometer and a half below. It instantly flew toward the great vermilion bow, but…
“A shell from the side!?”
Before her annihilation could break the bow, something broke it from a diagonal angle.
It was Kagami.
She had fired her main cannon on Horinouchi’s Magino Device instead of Mary.
…An excellent decision!
Mary’s spell could erase anything. It was only natural for combat, but a direct hit would have erased Horinouchi herself. So to prevent that, Kagami had chosen destruction over annihilation.
The vermilion Magino Device was broken and falling. Ether fragments were scattering from the expanded part of the bow, so it could not fire its main cannon. Mary debated whether she should fire another shot to be extra sure.
She had a more important opponent.
“Brigadier General, you have lost sight of the situation!”
Kagami’s Magino Device was tilted downward in front of her. Its main cannon was not aimed Mary’s way.
She had chosen to save her companion rather than firing on her enemy.
Mary felt her eyebrows rising because of her thoughts concerning Kagami’s action. She was comparing her own abandoned world to Horinouchi, and…
She shook off her feelings and prepared to reap that Magino Device with her main cannon. She would pierce it with the tip of the scythe and then slice it apart while pulling the scythe back.
The blue and white sword was trying to change course in midair. It was trying to use the recoil of the cannon blast to slide back and to the right.
But it was too slow. Mary had already fired her annihilation.
Mary saw her shot score a direct hit.
That was to be expected given her position and the distance.
The close range made it a quick shot and the explosion of wind enveloped it after the fact. White clouds raced along the curving path and struck Kagami’s sliced Magino Device.
The following shockwave sent the shards of the Magino Device scattering through the sky. The collision of wind broke and shattered the sliced areas.
“I did it…”
She had finally pierced it. Her annihilation blade had finally reached the target of her grudge.
It had been a solid hit. It had seemed a little anticlimactic, but a single hit from her attack was enough. This was just how it was when it hit.
But then she saw a white and blue sword rising beyond the wind and scattering fragments.
She had pierced it, she had sliced it, and she had scored a direct hit. So why?
“It wasn’t a direct hit!?”
It was half destroyed. The port side of the blade cannon’s outer armor was split and scattering, but the barrel itself was unharmed.
You could not hope for someone to miss at such close range. No, it simply could not happen. Which meant…
The servant was trembling on her shoulder. A spell circle appeared to show her the bottom of Magino Device Ira.
She could not see that area on her own and something was stabbed into the three-scythe structure there.
It was an arrow. An arrow-style ether shell had been fired from directly below.
She could see the great vermilion bow aimed up at her from far below, almost to the ocean.
However, that entire Device should have been destroyed by Kagami earlier.
But it had not been.
She did not know why, but Akerindou had fully recovered. The bent base, the bow shape, and the wings needed for flight and stabilization were all back. Everything was back to normal.
The second main cannon shot tore into a gap in Ira’s structure, but then pierced straight through.
…That Magino Device has a lot of gaps!
Akerindou’s structure also had a lot of empty space, but Mary’s bundle of scythes had so many gaps that one could see through to the other side.
However, Horinouchi could fire now.
“Honestly.” Hunter sent a transmission after descending to the Special Equipment Division in her Normal Frame. “I can’t believe you would use a cannon blast to do the kind of Frame restoration I did.”
“We are high level Rankers, you know? This was safer than what we did in our battle against you.”
The shell Kagami had fired earlier had not been a normal shell.
“She fired a spell shell rather than a physical one. It temporarily destroyed Akerindou, but I was able to capture the shell’s ether with my willpower and use it to repair Akerindou.”
They were no longer inside the Arctic Ocean barrier with such thin ether density. Partially due to being in Shihouin Academy’s territory, the sky above Tokyo Bay had excellent ley line flow. It had been easy for Kagami to secure and form a shell out of enough ether to guide Horinouchi to recovery.
She could tell Mary was looking down at her from the edge of her Magino Device.
Horinouchi simply looked back up at her and made the appropriate announcement.
“There are some tactics you can only use when you have a partner.”
Then she fired repeatedly.
Mary felt Ira shake from the repeated direct hits of the main cannon below her.
To intercept, she swung down three scythes, but she realized one of them would not move properly.
It had been hit.
As she quickly sent down one from another section, another one stopped functioning.
Two was good enough. Including the previous hit, she could not use three of them now.
She used the remaining one to respond to Kagami’s attack.
“I can’t let this happen! If I lose, everything I lost will be-…!”
But then she saw Kagami’s Magino Frame finally aiming her way and firing its main cannon.
She sent the remaining three scythes forward and devoured Kagami’s main cannon blast, but…
She reacted on reflex to that announcement from below. She could see Kagami in front of her, but she could check on Akerindou’s position in her memory. So…
She annihilated the three flying main cannon blasts as if reeling them in.
She devoured them. Three splits appeared in the air and she felt her interceptions hit.
Akerindou was aiming vertically up at her. Horizontal movement would be difficult like that, so she could predict the girl’s line of fire. Even if she was in her blind spot…
“I can still deal with you!”
“Oh, is that so?”
She heard a voice.
“Time for three more shots.”
As soon as she heard that, she swung the three lower black scythes. She sent their full power straight down. The triple blade had enough power to annihilate both the shells and Akerindou.
Mercy and logic no longer mattered. She would simply erase everything in her way. So…
She never managed to say “gone”.
Three main cannon blasts struck Ira’s port side.
Mary heard the three scythes on Ira’s port side being pierced through and utterly destroyed.
Those collections of attack power used their tips to pierce and then sent a great impact across the whole.
However, the three arrows had not come from below.
They had flown from the southern sky.
“I can’t be…”
“But it is,” replied a voice.
It came from below. It was indeed the shrine maiden controlling the great vermilion bow that answered.
“Did you think all I did was take penguin photos when you sent me to the South Pole? After making plans for the next battlefield, I just had to fire from there. And…yes, I have one lesson for an outsider like you.”
“Tokyo is a scary place.”
Three shots from below and three more from the south struck Ira.
Vibrations, fragments, and impacts burst vertically toward heaven. And above that, Mary saw something.
The great sword with the half-destroyed blade was charging tip-first toward her.
The hits continued. The scythe was half shattered. She could not fight back or move, but she did use one remaining blade.
She sliced the upper armor of the great sword. That was because an arrow from below had sent Ira’s tip hopping up.
As Ira floated up as if from an uppercut, something collided with its starboard side.
The great Sword’s broken blade had stabbed into Ira’s tip with just its unharmed lower portion. And…
A main cannon blast from point-blank range struck Ira and the connecting arch that supported it.
Koutarou sent Horinouchi the footage from an F-23 that had begun flying around Tokyo Bay. She was still firing her main cannon, but that was to prevent the annihilation from being aimed Kagami’s way.
After all, a battle had begun atop the enemy Magino Device.
Kagami had jumped down from her Magino Device and approached Mary atop the great scythe.
She had desired a clash and gone in for hand-to-hand combat.
“She really is stupid…”
Horinouchi honestly thought that, but there was no helping it. She also thought the same thing about herself.
The footage showed the two girls fighting with sparks flying everywhere. Mary’s Magino Device was unlikely to hold up for much longer, but those two did not stop each other in this battle of willpower atop it.
But, she thought. Go do it.
“If you aren’t going to tell her, then you have to do this, Kagami.”
Yes. After their discussion of strategy the night before, they had left sleepy Hunter to doze off and they had discussed something.
It was about the destruction of a world that had been lost.
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