Clash of Hexennacht:Volume4 Chapter 12
Chapter 12: Come Below the Moon
The destination of acceptance
Is a much more important crossroads
Than a home to return to
Shouko saw her enemy.
…Three of them!
She had researched the higher Rankers. After returning home from the family restaurant the night before, she had spent the time after waking up on research.
The people who had competed with her sister were now trying to defeat her just like her sister.
And those three all held the possibility of surpassing her imagination.
Since Fleur had left the rest in their hands, they must understand her circumstances.
That was fine.
She was mentally prepared for the possibility that she would be defeated by them.
She was also mentally prepared for the possibility that they would be no match for her.
Either way, something would be destroyed.
This was the perfect night for destruction.
This world contains the possibility of surpassing my imagination and I am fighting back with the power to manifest my imagination.
This is the world I created versus me.
My sister has been silenced.
So it’s only me.
Every part of me will settle things with myself. That is for the best.
When I defeated my sister, I placed a curse on her. Whether I am about to lose or win, that will count as the “Part 1 Ending” for this world and she will be excluded from it.
She will be sent back to our original world.
And I will either be destroyed or move on to destroy the next world.
That is for the best.
So I will face them. The sea is behind me and the city of Kamakura is at my feet. I remember the anmitsu at the Japanese café by the station being good.
But come to think of it, I probably stepped on it earlier. It was probably on my way here…
“Shouko! Shouko!” shouted Amaze. “You’re looking kind of down, but is it their fault!?”
“Hmm, only extremely indirectly, but kind of, yeah.”
Well, whatever. I can see the enemy. That’s the Rank 2’s Ira, right? That annihilation spell Magino Frame is out front and that over there is America’s Hedgehog. And that’s the Akerindou paired with my sister in the buddy system.
She could perceive it all.
Good, she thought as she pointed her sword forward.
“Bring it on.”
As soon as she said that, a blow struck her Satanic Frame at a somewhat diagonal angle from behind.
It was a missile strike from the ocean.
“Did it hit!?”
Song Café got up from the deck as the report from the observation fighters and confirmation via satellite came in.
She stood up and checked the details on her spell circle.
…So two out of five hit!
A cruiser had launched high-speed cruise missiles. The warheads were purely physical to slip past the enemy’s ether detection. After ascending and accelerating using the swing-by method, they had shut off their propulsion partway through their descent.
The fleet had calculated a position out at sea that could not be seen from the battlefield thanks to the curvature of the earth, but…
“Who would have thought the enemy would produce something 3km tall?”
They were glad they had received that information yesterday. That had allowed them to move the fleet out of view even from an altitude of 3km.
And their attack had made it through.
It was not as powerful as a blow from the Hedgehog, but it had to have done damage to the 3km Frame.
“All ships fall back!”
On A-un Silver Coin’s orders, all ships in view opened up their side hulls with the assistance of ether light. As soon as they took their accelerated cruising forms and confirmed their respective destinations, light flew toward them.
…So she isn’t going to let us escape, is she!?
Picture-perfect lightning descended from the deserted sky where the moon hung.
Song Café smiled at the thick glowing projectiles that raced across the ocean’s surface in search of them. A-un Silver Coin was using her management spell to control the entire fleet’s accelerated cruising, so Song Café…
She laughed and used her café menu spell circle to order defense spells for all the personnel and ships. She also ordered something else while she was at it.
…Will this make it in time!?
She did not know, but there was something else she did know.
“Our attacks can reach you. And that means you aren’t invincible, Black Witch!”
Shouko laughed as she sensed her lightning attack hit the target in the ocean.
Her Satanic Frame’s back armor had been lightly damaged. Two out of five missiles had hit. The remaining three had broken apart in midair and burst into light, but they had probably been on a timed fuse.
That meant they had calculated the timing of the hit mere moments beforehand. If she had taken just one step differently, this would have turned out differently.
The two missile hits had moved her giant Device slightly forward.
She could repair the back armor. In fact, she already had.
She could simply view this as a side show before the main battle, but…
“N-no, this is not good,” said Amaze.
“Oh, yes it is. …I hadn’t imagined that.”
“Well… I feel more like you weren’t cautious enough and got careless.”
“You can only be careless about what you didn’t imagine. Because that means you didn’t think about it.”
“Let it surprise you and you lose.”
“That certainly is simplistic.”
With that, she faced her enemy. The three Devices were in front of her.
“Now, let’s get this started.”
A moment later, five shots flew in from behind her again.
They sure are immature…! seriously thought Hunter just before the hit.
She had lost her connection to the 7th Fleet. She had thought there was nothing they could have done about the Black Witch’s attack, but she also felt like they would do something about it. And even if there was nothing they could do, she still felt like they would do something about it.
They had not spent the last ten years just sitting around. They could take care of themselves.
But at that timing, they should have been withdrawing. Those missiles had their trajectory inputted in advance, but they had still managed to fire them along a surefire trajectory while withdrawing.
Whether it was a surprise attack or not, they considered any kind of hit to be a win.
But Hunter saw a movement in front of her.
The Black Witch’s giant Device had turned to the right.
It was not worth asking when she had done that. The sword tip which had been pointed toward Hunter’s group was now raised overhead in one arm.
It was a natural movement, but that was what made it so hard to read. Was it her imagination that let her do that?
But that raised sword had another purpose.
As the black blade rotated behind her back, it erupted with a flame-like black light.
“That will not work a second time.”
Sure enough, the power exploded.
Just like before, two of the five should have hit, but those two were burned and detonated by the black flames.
The remaining three overshot the giant Device and detonated in empty air, but…
They had not hit, so Hunter moved forward.
She started the Hedgehog forward.
“Let’s go, Kagami’s sister…!”
…Am I overthinking this if I view it as a personal attack!?
Shouko clenched her teeth more as herself than as the Black Witch.
Her opponents were the witches of this world, so they would see her as the Black Witch. And yet…
“Why is she referring to me as my sister’s sister…!?”
“Isn’t that an accurate description?”
This book needs to be quiet.
But it seemed her first opponent would be the American Representative. They might have been letting the lower ranked ones go first. The missiles had been from America as well. But when she raised her sword to the right and stepped forward to intercept…
She had thought the American Representative’s Magino Device had moved forward.
But it had not.
When they had first appeared, she had seen three Magino Devices. From front to back, they had been arranged Ira, Hedgehog, and Akerindou.
But now there were only two. What did that mean?
“It can’t be…”
It arrived before she could look back.
It was behind her.
Ira suddenly appeared behind the giant Device and it collided with it at full power.
Mary had understood what America was setting up.
They had repeated the same material with the missile attack. Just beforehand, a text-only spell circle had arrived from the Rank 3 behind her:
“A second attack is coming.”
She had thought that was ridiculous.
It was true the high-speed cruise missile attack had hit the first time, but…
…This is the Black Witch we’re talking about!
She had the power of creation and she had originally wanted to be an author.
Repeated material would not work on her.
But the Rank 3 would have known that. They all had the same information and they had come to a consensus on their interpretation of that information.
So why had the Rank 3 sent her that spell circle?
Her doubts had been resolved with the arrival of another spell circle:
“Shooting you from the pole worked, didn’t it?”
Mary had gasped at that.
The second attack had yet to happen, but it would be happening soon. And in that tense situation, she understood just how much the Rank 3 trusted her.
There was something she alone could do.
…She’ll have predicted that we’ll think she won’t expect a second attack.
The Black Witch was clever. A second attack wouldn’t work on her. So what were they to do?
“A truly unexpected third attack…!”
Mary used her ability.
Her annihilation spell could do more than destroy and cut things. It could slice through space itself and let her fly into the opening.
“Which lets me move…!”
She did it at extreme close-range during the second attack.
In the instant the Black Witch was dealing with the repeated attack…
The Rank 3 moved forward. Mary moved back as if to use her as a shield and she narrowed down her annihilation spell and sent it behind a nearby building so it would not be detected.
And she made the leap.
Shouko realized they had entered new territory with this double-repeated material.
It was the same as a running gag. You could use it once and then twice, but after the second time showed that it would not work any longer, you used something else for the third time.
…Like a falling washtub!
This time, it was Ira. While it was not a washtub, the Magino Device was just as Ira-tating.
Looking back, the American Representative calling her “Kagami’s sister” had been setting this up. Calling her that had forced her to focus on that girl.
“And that created a slight opening…!”
“Isn’t that your fault for falling for it so badly!?”
Shut up. But the enemy’s action was clear. Stepping forward to strike the American Representative’s Magino Device had been a mistake.
As Ira stabbed into her from behind, its thrust pushed her giant Device forward.
Ira was not shaped for high speed. That might change if it had a bundled acceleration system, but each of the nine scythes used its own individual thrusters.
…But this type is more stable and has greater torque!
That proved accurate.
Shouko tried to swing her body to the left and right, but the nine scythes adjusted their thruster output as if steering her. In the worst cases, her movements had the opposite effect and were used to push her further forward.
In that case, she thought while swinging the giant Device’s arm inwards. She slammed its sword behind her.
The nine scythes digging into her had no way to evade, but…
Just as the enemy barked that warning, both her giant Device’s arms were severed.
Shouko was aware how confused she was.
She knew her opponent could use an annihilation spell. The European U.A.H. Representative she had fought earlier had used spatial cutting and Shouko’s giant Device had specialized defenses against it.
It used an ether bending defense.
Instead of being solid or absorbing the shock, it sped up the flow of ether on the surface so any ether attack would be deflected away.
Any damage done by attack power such as shells could be immediately repaired, but spatial cutting and annihilation would leave a “mold” in that space for a short period of time afterwards.
Of course, even simple kinetic energy would create a “mold” and if it damaged her, it would leave its traits in her “mold”.
But spatial cutting and annihilation altered ether in a much more powerful way. The traits they left on one’s “mold” were much more powerful.
They worsened the area’s omen, which made it harder to create or recreate things there.
Thus, she deflected the ether away so it would not affect her “mold”.
“Was she too close!?”
She was fortunate the enemy’s attack took the form of a scythe. The attack had needed to circle in from the outside, so it had only severed her arms. A sword would have split her torso.
…I can manage without the arms!
Think of it like that. And imagine a countermeasure, she told herself.
At the same time, she managed to look out ahead.
A lot was going on behind her, but that was not all.
“I told you to attack me all at once, didn’t I!?”
She remembered. And they would be doing exactly that. That meant it was not the Magino Device behind her she needed to focus on. It was…
“The American Representative…!”
The giant Magino Device looked like a shield and a high-speed shot was fired toward its wide-open lower chest.
“Will it hit…!?”
Koutarou’s asked his question as the attack pierced the air on its way toward the Black Witch’s giant Device.
…How did it turn out!?
This shot had been fired after Mary restrained her and kept her from resisting.
It was on course for an absolute bull’s-eye, so its path connected the two Devices.
“American Representative!” shouted the Head Maid. “Ready a second shot!”
Her imagination only took an instant.
Shouko had not expected this, but she had a flash of insight.
It concerned the whereabouts of the arms that Ira had severed.
The arms alone were larger than the enemy Magino Devices, but…
She held the Normal Device which acted as a controller.
And it was connected to…
“This can move as a Magino Device all on its own.”
The flying black sword stabbed in front of her as a shield.
At nearly 3km long, it was larger than the standalone Magino Device, but its functions were identical. So she only had to move it like she did in the Magino version.
“Its aim is accurate.”
With a pleasantly solid sound, light flashed beyond the standing sword.
A moment later, the scenery between the sword and her opponent grew distorted and the night grew all the darker.
The bursting shockwave tore apart and blew away the city below as if crushing, ripping, and piercing it.
Hunter watched from atop the Hedgehog as the blast tore up the surface and tossed the buildings and natural crust into the air.
Light shined below her in a graph paper layout.
The defense spell cast on the land for Hexennacht had activated to endure and weaken the shockwave.
Of course, it was not powerful enough to stop a wide-range impact on the level of a natural phenomenon, but it activated to weaken the shockwave and adjusted the output of each small unit of area to ensure the damage did not spread elsewhere.
Light covered the ground and the wind exploded.
The first thing visible beyond the power and light was a sword.
And that was not all.
Regenerated giant black hands held the enormous sword’s hilt.
That pair of decorated hands held the sword aloft.
That had to have worn her down some, but it had not reached the level of damage.
The giant Queen-style Device swung one arm around to smash Ira away with an elbow, and…
“I’ll deal with you first…!”
She took an instant step into the light.
The 3km colossus could apparently move at a scaled speed twice that of a human.
Its full body broke through the lingering shockwave and turbulence to arrive within three steps of the Hedgehog.
Hunter moved back at full speed.
“This isn’t over yet…!”
Everything in that airspace shook and roared and Hunter focused on preserving herself as she fell back.
The Hedgehog was designed to withstand the high mobility of the swing-by method, so it could easily resist an explosive blast on this level.
So what was she going to do from here?
A sudden transmission arrived from the 7th Fleet. She assumed they were going to ask about her situation, but…
She reflexively smiled.
And she made up her mind. She opened the Device’s muzzle even in this gale, and…
“What do you think I’m doing…!?”
She raised her eyebrows and bellowed that while the Black Witch’s giant Device raised its sword to mid-level and then swung it down at her.
This attack used the blade near the guard rather than at the middle. It was an ideal attack using the sharpest part of the blade.
Shouko gave an instruction while she swung her sword.
When stepping forward, she had made sure to keep her eyes on the enemy beyond the explosive blast and light.
So she had seen that Akerindou had disappeared.
…That annihilation spell!
This was the same thing Ira had used earlier. It had likely been done on Ira’s guidance. And that had sent Akerindou outside of her range.
The most dangerous location was behind her.
Ira’s annihilation spell had left a “mold” in space there. So it was possible Akerindou could have used the same path as Ira’s annihilation spell.
That would be why Ira had let itself be torn away without continuing the pursuit.
If the multi-scythe Device had self-destructed, the explosion of ether light would act as cover for Akerindou when it appeared there.
But if it was not behind her, what would she do?
…If I step forward, she can’t take aim!
So she did just that. She could leap forward and slice through the American Representative’s Hedgehog.
By doing that, this would no longer be a many-against-one battle.
So that was what she did.
The Hedgehog had activated its main cannon to resist her.
But it was too slow.
And even if it did fire its main cannon, the shell would be split by her sword’s blade.
As she swung down the sword, the guard end dropped down first and everything above it would reach the Hedgehog.
The sharpest part would slice the Magino Device and the heavy guard would defend her.
This would work.
The only thing left to worry about was Akerindou’s location.
If it did not simply appear in the same airspace Ira had appeared in before…
…Even further back!?
Akerindou was a sniper type. A bit more range would not have a significant effect on its power.
So she decided to move from this spot immediately after launching this sword strike.
But then the color vermilion filled her vision.
The vermilion resembled both a bird and a dragon. It was a bow-shaped Magino Device.
She had suddenly located Akerindou which had remained unseen until now.
It was not behind her, to the side, or far away in the distance.
It was quite close by. And…
“Behind the Hedgehog!?”
Akerindou’s location had not changed.
It had used the annihilation spell to disappear, but it had remained in the exact same airspace.
Hunter realized she had successfully coordinated with Mary and with Horinouchi.
It seemed those two had also understood the series of events that had begun with the 7th Fleet’s missile attack.
“This was the combination of everything that defeated us…!”
First, they had pushed from behind the enemy and fired a sniper shot there.
And when that missed…
“I used my Device as an extra acceleration barrel to strengthen Akerindou’s shot!!”
They had been assisted by Mary’s annihilation spell.
It had been used to move Akerindou.
Except that was only a feint to make the enemy think that had happened.
Because Mary had used her annihilation spell to circle behind her, the Black Witch had been wary of them repeating that material.
Would Akerindou appear behind her, on the way there, or somewhere else entirely?
Mary successfully severing her arms had increased her caution.
But they had not done that.
Akerindou had been in its original location. It had entered the annihilation spell, but it had not moved.
And Akerindou was about to repeat some other material.
It was the method once used to defeat Hunter.
Akerindou’s ultra-close-range sniper shot was further accelerated. Hunter knew the timing perfectly since she had been hit by it.
She felt the Hedgehog falling apart as the attack passed by directly below her and was launched further forward.
Mary watched the scene from atop Ira after it was smashed and torn away.
Ira was mostly destroyed. The explosion of air from impacting this airspace would be enough for it to fall apart.
And just as the Hedgehog fired while being destroyed from within, an ether explosion erupted between them.
The spreading blast formed several rings of ether light which all sliced the air.
The light was so bright that Mary shielded her eyes with a hand and that extreme light filled the space.
The explosion spread as if to consume anything and everything.
“Did I shoot her…!?”
Horinouchi did not bother with her follow-through movement even though a light-blocking spell automatically appeared in front of her face.
The shot had been passed through Hunter’s acceleration and then reached their opponent.
It had been a solid hit. After all, the projectile had scored a direct hit without even breaking through the sword first. That had been obvious from the sensation and the “pause” before the hit.
“What happened to the Black Witch…!?”
With that, she looked forward and past the Hedgehog which shattered and split in two along the central line.
And both inside and outside that abundant storm of ether light…
The Black Witch’s giant Device was not there.
It had disappeared.
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