Clash of Hexennacht:Volume2 Chapter 5
Chapter 5: If It’s Just for Fun
You don’t have to say anything
Yet you even act on it
“Are you okay, Hunter!?”
As Kagami shouted back, she sensed something odd about her opponent’s attack.
She had caught it on her blade. Or so she thought.
She felt and heard the impact, and she should have stopped the opponent.
But there was an odd slipping sensation coming through the large sword.
…What is this?
It felt like sticking a knife into a slab of meat and cutting it with a pulling motion. It was the charming sensation of the meat’s elastic pressure trying to hold the knife in place inside it.
But if she was feeling that here…
Mary roared her name and raised her triple scythe.
That was when Kagami noticed something about the front armor of Dikaiosyne that could defend against Hunter’s attack even in Normal mode.
…It was cut through!?
She could not see it from where she was, but she could sense the reduced internal pressure due to the split armor.
A spell circle appeared and Dikaio informed her of the emergency. That told her how far the blade had gone, but…
…What is this?
Mary’s scythe had indeed been stopped by the armor.
Dikaiosyne had been split by a power emitted by the scythe blades.
Three attack lines ran diagonally up and to the left like claw marks.
What if that spell had been fired as a projectile instead of emitted from the blades? In fact, most witches would be able to convert such a power into a projectile. In that case…
“It would seem luck is smiling my way, Mary!”
With that announcement, Kagami saw Mary’s back.
The girl had spun around after launching that full-power attack.
Her hand was reaching into the sky.
The scythe-like curves of her fingers were pointing toward the Magino Device with its giant nine ring arrangement that almost resembled a wind instrument. That weapon fired something in response.
“Kagami! A secondary cannon is coming!”
“I can see that for myself, Hunter!”
It was a direct attack.
Horinouchi spoke to herself.
“She said she was heading out to get Hunter, but she certainly is taking her time.”
As soon as she stepped out of the General Division dorm’s front entrance, she saw a nine scythe Magino Device sticking up from the courtyard. She immediately spat out the iced coffee she was drinking from a cup.
“Wh-what in the world is that!?”
“Milady! That is Lady Mary Sue’s Magino Device!”
“I know that, Koutarou!”
“Yes, but the thing is…!”
Just as Koutarou prepared to send her a further explanation…
“Heyyy! Horinouchi! We’re in a battle!! At the ocean!”
She heard Hunter’s yelling voice. So…
“Later, Koutarou! I’m heading to the pier!!”
The Head Maid saw the Head Butler punching the floor as alarms blared throughout the mansion.
The Ranker battle had begun so unexpectedly that U.A.H.J. within Shihouin Academy had been slow to react. The assessment of the situation, approvals, and evacuation requests were all running late and an alarm sounded from the residential area at the base of the mountain. But as for those here…
“You should have acted more quickly, Head Butler.”
“Dammit…! I so wanted to provide commentary for Lady Mitsuru!”
“Head Butlerrrr. Can I send the data straight to Lady Mitsuru?”
“No, you may not!”
He shot to his feet and his car keys were already spinning around his finger.
“The battle is at the pier! I will hurry there, so send all information to me! And make sure Lady Mitsuru does not notice!”
“Head Butler.” The Head Maid pushed up her glasses. “There is something severely wrong with your mental health.”
Hunter flew through the air.
Her arms held onto Kagami in Normal Frame mode.
As soon as Kagami had been hit, Hunter had grabbed her from behind and leaped to the right.
That had shifted the blow a little, but it had not completely erased it.
They had been sent flying in a certain direction.
“This is right toward eastern Tokyo Bay!”
Her instruments said their initial speed had exceeded Mach 4. It had taken a short time for her body tuning divine protection to bring her back from a brief blackout, so once her vision had returned, it had looked like they were flying south of the secondary cannon’s direction.
But that was inaccurate.
Kagami had probably held Dikaiosyne diagonally, so the direct secondary cannon hit had sent them flying southeast into Tokyo Bay.
She could see their destination shimmering in the distance, but…
…That’s the abandoned industrial district on Tokyo Bay’s eastern coast!
“America’s tuning divine protections must be excellent indeed!”
As Kagami spoke within her arms, they began skidding along the ocean’s surface.
They were just like a stone skipping on the water. It felt more like ricocheting off a sticky wall than off of water.
Their bodies rotated vertically at high speed.
Hunter wanted to use her foothold spell, but that would actually be dangerous with her feet alternating between the earth and sky so quickly. Even if Tokyo Bay was relatively shallow, their speed would convert the water’s mass into a powerful blow. Also…
“Here it comes!”
She looked up to the sky as she spun and saw several curves of light.
“It’s that secondary cannon!”
When Horinouchi ran out onto the pier, she saw a giant black scythe floating in the sky.
…This is the Rank 2’s Magino Device!
Scythes were arranged together into a circle. The black scythes varied in size with a single large one and two small ones forming a set. Three such sets were attached together.
As it floated, it produced a noise reminiscent of a heavy chain rattling. It was the sound of a chain in a spinning pulley.
“The tone of judgment as the condemned is hanged?”
“Head Maid! Lady Mitsuru just said something poetic!”
“That happens a lot with witches. You did that while you were students, didn’t you? Something about hellfire and dark freezing.”
“P-please stop that, Head Maid! That attack is super effective against me!”
“…Hey, where is the Head Butler?”
“Milady! Please come with me to safety!”
Horinouchi saw a car slipping along the pier as it tried to brake. It bore the red emblem of the Horinouchi family and Koutarou beckoned to her from the driver’s seat.
“Milady, this is already a Ranker battle! It is too dangerous here!”
“B-but I’m also the Rank 3.”
“No, this Ranker battle is between Lady Hunter in Rank 4 and Lady Mary in Rank 2. Lady Kagami may have joined in, but she will be treated as an intruder and there is a chance the outcome will have no influence on the original two’s Ranks.”
In that case, she thought.
“If I joined in too, it might be counted as a Ranker battle between Mary and us?”
“Yes. And even if you won, Lady Mary could protest the outcome because you joined as intruders! So…”
“I do not know what Lady Mary wants, but if this becomes your Ranker battle, she will have an advantage whether she wins or loses! It would be best if you did not join in.”
“B-but then what do I do?”
“Please allow me to carry you to safety in this car! It contains level 2 ether concealment, so they will have difficulty detecting it!”
“My, that must have been expensive. How did you convince my family to pay for that!?”
“I was having difficulty finding any insurance that would accept me, so I paid for it myself!”
Horinouchi gave the car a closer look.
It had the Horinouchi family crest on the hood, but that meant…
“Did you paint it yourself?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, milady! That is a sticker!”
“I’m watching this via satellite,” cut in Hunter. “But is this what you call a corporate slave?”
“Hunter,” replied Kagami. “In this case, he would technically be a shrine slave.”
“S-stop that, you two! I don’t need you saying everything I’m thinking!”
“Anyway, milady! You need to evacuate!”
Just as Koutarou pointed at the car, a secondary cannon shell fell right on top of it.
“Ahhhhh! I only just got that car three days ago!!”
Come to think of it, ether concealment isn’t much use when it’s plainly visible.
But more importantly…
More and more pillars of water rose from the ocean.
The two witches could not move freely after being blown away, but they managed to skid along the ocean’s surface and randomly change their trajectory. Secondary cannon shells dropped into the ocean to pursue them.
“Their precise homing ability actually gives us a chance!”
Hunter was the one dealing with them.
Due to their speed and rotation, she could not just move at random. So…
…My foothold spell!
She created several footholds around her but did not use them. She just left them there.
The foothold spells would remain in place for a set period of time and they were made to endure the reaction of her step. They used a fair bit of power, so if their opponent’s shells were pursuing the ether they detected…
“These will work as chaff!”
Her plan showed results almost immediately.
The shells began tearing into and devouring the foothold spell circles placed away from them.
Even so, a few of the shells still followed their proper target. And…
…Here it comes!
Hunter checked the live footage from an American surveillance satellite and saw Mary’s Magino Device floating over Tokyo Bay in a shot from low to the south.
“Hunter! Can you send us flying at satellite speed?”
“Sorry! There isn’t one overhead right now! Wait a little longer!”
“I think our opponent is the one who will refuse to wait around.”
Sure enough, it was coming.
…The Magino Device!
Mary’s multi-scythe Device was aiming its nine points their way.
The secondary cannon shells were being fired from each of the scythes, but…
…Here it comes!
Even when a witch specialized in ground combat, their Magino Device’s flight speed would be at least Mach 3. There was a distance of less than ten kilometers between their position on the coast and Shihouin Academy in the center of the bay, so it would catch up almost instantly.
If possible, Hunter wanted to summon her Magino Device and put more distance between them, but…
“Kagami, until our spin dies down…”
“Oh, not to worry, Hunter.”
As soon as she said that, Kagami grabbed Hunter from the side.
The world spun. A spell circle desperately worked to tune her inner ear and organs. She saw an incredibly familiar spell circle next to Kagami’s face.
“Y-you copied me!?”
“I started with a copy and further developed it on my own. That is a virtue for the Japanese, Hunter. Now look behind you.”
Since they were rotating, she could only assume “behind you” meant to the west.
The Magino Device there was scattering acceleration light behind it.
It was coming.
She had no idea what kind of range its main cannon had with that strange cutting power, but…
“It seems surprisingly focused on the closer ranges. The secondary cannons have poor homing and does this mean the main cannon cannot reach this far?”
As soon as Kagami said that, the ocean split to their right.
A straight line opened in the water for about two kilometers.
“Oh,” said Kagami. “She seems quite narrow-minded.”
“Can I be a little narrow-minded too!?”
“Save that for later, Hunter.”
The secondary cannon fired behind them, but the trajectory was different from the earlier homing ones.
“These will be guided! That one was for calibration!”
Kagami swung Dikaiosyne around and struck downwards with the back of the blade.
“Hunter, you were born on the West Coast, weren’t you?”
“Yes, I was…”
She had a feeling she knew where this was going, so she decided to ask.
“Kagami, have you ever done this before?”
“Leave it to me. …I saw plenty of people doing this when I visited Shonan.”
“Y-you’re the worst!”
As the barrage pursued them from behind, Kagami placed her feet on Dikaiosyne.
They were spinning through the air, but the five meter sword crashed into the water, maintained its orientation despite skidding, briefly cut deep into the water, and stopped all of the water that reached it. After that…
“I was right to create an acceleration system the other day.”
They cut through and across the ocean surface using the sword as a surfboard.
American U.A.H.F. received word that American Representative Hunter was taking part in a Ranker battle. As soon as they realized no satellite would make it to the swing-by point in time, they scrambled two F-23s from Atsugi.
They would be criticized if they took part in a witch’s Ranker battle, so…
“We have arrived! Just you wait, young lady! Marvel at our uselessness!”
“A man’s gotta make an immediate appearance when a witch is in a bind!”
The two planes on the apron switched the digital optical paint on their wings from a defense emblem to an acceleration emblem. Even including standby time, they took off quickly.
The first did not wait around for the second, but they both almost instantly broke the sound barrier and shot through the sky.
The spell circle opened on the HUD showed a busy sky. Various witches and organizations had set up security barriers to mark out their territory and the aircraft course schedule was visible for the air routes that witches from major organizations used. The two fighters avoided only the ones that would cause a collision and hurried to their destination.
In the sea off of the Uraga Channel, the Seventh Fleet was working with the JSDF’s Yokosuka Fleet to quickly grasp the entire situation.
They were also working with the Shinto Horinouchi family.
And at the center of it all…
“It’s creepy how we know next to nothing about the Rank 2.”
“That old hag from the Seventh Fleet’s Song Café is warning the Rank 2 with every communication method she can, but she’s being completely ignored. The Rank 2’s got to have some guts. …After all, she’s ignoring a warning from the world’s greatest military force, from Shinto, and from the witches.”
“Out of context, you would almost think we’re bullying her. …What’s the academy doing?”
“They’re viewing this as a Ranker battle for now and will intervene if it proves necessary.”
“Ha,” laughed the other. “Shihouin Cerisier of the Three Sages. Even if the Ranker system wasn’t as defined back then, she was the Number 2. She sure is nice to the current upper Rankers that are below what she once was.”
“I don’t get it… Oh, and I can see them! We’ll be able to see them for twelve seconds with our spell vision!”
The two fighters parted to the left and right.
“Don’t get close! We’re only gathering intel! Once we pass by, circle back around the bay and leave the rest to the photographer! They can be more use here than just snapping some pics of the moon!”
Hunter was swung around.
Kagami held her while surfing along the ocean with Dikaiosyne. And she was forcing them through slaloms as they went.
“Ha ha ha. Summer may be over, but these are the best waves this year!”
They skidded along the water. A secondary cannon shell landed below them, blasting them forward. Another shell targeted the spot where they would land, but…
“Hunter, swing your legs to the left!”
She did as she was told and they tilted down and to the right, allowing for a slalom to the right as soon as they landed. To ensure they did not move too far over, she swung her legs in the opposite direction to keep their balance. The ocean to their left exploded a moment later, but that no longer mattered to them. She was fairly certain the shell had grazed the tips of her toes, but she did not have the heart to check.
Two F-23s were flying through the sky, but she did not have time to look up at them. Mostly due to the dangerous person right next to her.
“I never knew surfing was so invigorating! I had my doubts when I saw those people shouting ‘cowabunga’ out on the summer waves, but I think I will be joining them next year, Hunter!”
You already are, you idiot.
Regardless, this was definitely more dangerous than the explosions. However, the idiot gave Hunter a cheerful look and performed a three-sixty to avoid a shell on their right. The shockwaves blasted even the ocean spray away.
“This is working pretty well, Hunter!”
“Just fly! Wouldn’t that be a hell of a lot easier!?”
“The sky may be open, but don’t you think that mean she is luring us there?”
Hunter realized she had experienced exactly that earlier.
Then a series of sounds arrived from behind. It was a barrage of secondary cannon blasts. However…
“Hold on! That’s a full volley!”
“Not to worry, Hunter! We are already at the edge of Tokyo Bay!”
The bank was visible up ahead.
The map in her spell circle also showed them arriving at the eastern coast of Tokyo Bay.
“Why’s it still called Tokyo Bay when it’s in Chiba Prefecture?”
“You do not know, Hunter!? It was to create a laboratory to hold the mice and wild beasts with developed intelligence that were sent over from America!”
“Really!? Tokyo sure is full of awful people!”
“Indeed. Tokyoites and mice are both awful people, Hunter! Now, might I ask one thing?”
“Eh!? There’s more!?”
“Yes.” Kagami smiled. “As someone who has done this before, do you perhaps know how to stop this thing?”
Horinouchi opened the connection linked to in an email from the US military that said “This is secret, but please take it” in suspicious Romanized Japanese.
She sipped on her cup of iced coffee while sitting on top of the totaled red car.
“Why does this live feed show those two messing around?”
From a shallow southern perspective, the two of them were surfing and jumping up onto the slope of the bank. They crashed into an abandoned factory and broke right through it.
Horinouchi spat out her coffee and wiped her mouth with a handkerchief.
“Wh-what are they doing!?”
“Milady! I believe breaking through seventeen abandoned buildings in a row is a new world record, so should I spread this information online!?”
“Wait, Koutarou! That was nineteen and a half buildings! The information needs to be accurate!”
“Well done, milady!!”
So even abandoned buildings have materials inside, noted Kagami.
She was on a coastal factory’s transport platform. The corporation had likely sheltered their vehicles there before the Hexennacht ten years before. She and Hunter had crashed into and knocked aside the row of trucks, but that had cushioned them enough to stop them.
Regardless, their summer surfing had come to a physical end. But now she and Hunter sat on the concrete floor behind the smashed trucks.
“Ha ha ha! My, wasn’t that dangerous, Hunter!?”
“Yes! Yes, it was! Yes, it was was was!!”
Her vocabulary seemed to have dropped, so Kagami was worried she had hit her head too hard.
But then the girl sighed.
“Is something the matter, Hunter?”
Hunter smiled bitterly and looked over at Kagami.
“Yeah, sorry. I thought that girl would be more understanding than this!”
“I see,” was all Kagami could say as she adjusted her grip on Dikaiosyne. “Hunter, you fight with backup from America. I assume you fought on your own this time to match your opponent’s style, but you should avoid doing that in the future.”
“And what am I supposed to say to the idiot that matched my style and still won?”
“Why not praise her?”
Kagami stood up and faced the hole they had opened on the western side of the building.
…I can hear the American fighters.
If their opponent’s Magino Device was used at close range, it would move quietly. It may have been based on the idea of creeping up and chopping off the enemy’s head.
Hunter stood up next to her and swung both arms to release her Frame.
She once more wore her uniform that was cut in places and ether light scattered around her.
“I’ll return this to you.”
“Yes,” agreed Kagami.
There was one thing she had to say as she held her hand out to the scattering ether.
But just as she prepared to do so, Hunter lifted the corners of her mouth and spoke.
“You should thank me.”
Her Phlogiston Heart was heating up inside its spell circle.
The speed of that process had just shot up, so…
She stepped toward the destroyed opening showing the late-summer sunlight.
“Summon Magino Frame!”
Horinouchi ran from the pier to the artificial island.
She was headed west toward an artificial hill.
…That’s the only spot I can see the eastern coast from!
Alarm spell circles had popped up around the artificial island to provide information, but they were not informing people of the Ranker battle.
…Mary’s previous Magino Device attack split the island?
A long crack had been created from the center to the south.
The southern end was still connected, but the island rose and fell with the tides. The stress of that process might just break the island apart along that line.
The two fighters in the sky were making their second circle to gather intelligence.
Voices and metallic sounds were coming primarily from the western end of Shihouin Academy. The Special Equipment Division witches were often sent out to perform repairs, so they were out repairing the artificial island.
In that case, Horinouchi could only leave it to them. She had to hurry as well, but…
“I’ll have to summon my Frame.”
“What do you need?”
Koutarou drove up alongside her in a white light car, but…
“You had a spare car!?
She peeked inside and saw a maid in the passenger seat. She was a shooter-type from the Middle East and she raised a hand in greeting, so Horinouchi nodded back and gave Koutarou a warning.
“No destroying this one, okay?”
“I am aware of that.”
“In that case,” she began before getting to her instructions. “Gather information on Mary and track her location. I especially want to know her attack range and attack power. Focus on the spell information because the US military will be recording the physical reactions and speeds from the air. We can compare the two information sources afterwards, so gather the information you imagine they would be unable to. Can you do that?”
Meanwhile, she heard a rumbling from the east.
“Milady, that was…”
She knew what that ringing of a large bell meant. She did not even need to turn around.
“Kagami summoned her Magino Frame!?”
The witch in the passenger seat spoke up before Koutarou could.
“Milady, well done!”
Koutarou, is that really worth shaking your fist at her for?
The battlefield was located above Tokyo Bay.
A set of nine giant scythes and an incredibly long sword faced each other in the air while drifting in circles in an attempt to reach the other’s side.
They were both five hundred meters long. They looked heavy and slow, but they were actually quite fast and trails of clouds formed as their various tips tore through the air.
Tokyo Bay was about twenty kilometers across, so when five hundred meter magic wands faced each other from a distance of ten kilometers, their movements ruled over the entire bay.
Along the coast from western Shinagawa to southern Yokohama, people closed the waterways among the alarms and strengthened the ley line defenses at the various shrines and temples.
“A wall of clouds is forming over Tokyo Bay!”
The two circling Magino Devices altered the weather after only two circuits.
The sunny late-summer afternoon was now covered in a vortex of clouds that looked like cumulonimbus clouds shredded horizontally. Those clouds were forming something like a torn dome.
Inside that, everyone looked up at and listened to the giant weapons that scattered ether light as they moved.
The black multi-scythe Magino Device produced the sounds of rattling chains.
The giant sword produced the ringing of large bells.
The two sounds would not blend together, and…
The muzzles of secondary cannons opened.
A battle was beginning.
Everyone who lived in this region knew the standard method witches used to fight: holding their opponent in place with secondary cannons in order to fire their main cannon. So if those secondary cannons were opening…
“A volley of secondary cannons is coming!” someone shouted.
Immediately, the sword’s blade opened wide and fired its main cannon.
“Oh, dear. Miss Kagami is quite the rule breaker.”
The headmaster placed a hand on her office’s windowsill and looked up into the sky.
“But Miss Mary is a very troublesome person. Just as much as you.”
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