Horizon:GT1 Chapter 4

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Chapter 4: Power and Contemplation

HorizonGT1 103.jpg

What is that?

None of this makes any sense

Or maybe I’m just not used to this

Point Allocation (You’ll Get There)

Adele was on the front line.

Although in this case, that means the diplomatic port of Murayama.

Musashi’s defense barriers handled her defense and the Asama Shrine’s spell field kept the enemy from approaching.

“It’s almost like playing with god mode on.”

“Except, Adele-dono, we have no clear way of attacking,” replied Tenzou who was here with her.

They were both in middle school, but they were in the reserve unit that assisted the high school.

The reserve unit was a shortcut to later joining the Chancellor’s Officers, the vassals, the warriors, and the rest of the Musashi combat jobs.

She wanted to be a vassal and he wanted to join the Chancellor’s Officers, so they were on the same team and worked together a lot. However…

“We’re really the only ones on the communication support team.”

She really wished she could join the defense team, what with hoping to be a vassal and all. A vassal’s primary jobs were to clear a path for the knights, to act as a shield to protect the whole of the fighting force, and to solidify their battle formation. So…

“I really want to start on my shield training.”

“You say that, Adele-dono, but your position already gives you subordinates.”

Tenzou turned back toward the “subordinates” behind them.

“…!”

He was answered by the barking of a pack of dogs.

They all wore torii-style collars and were accompanied by communication sign frames. There were at least 20 of them in all.

“I mean, yeah, but I’m only borrowing them from their actual owners and I’d be in serious trouble if they got hurt. That only adds to the pressure.”

“True. You can’t exactly ask the owners to accept their pets will be injured.”

“Judge. Which is why I really wish we could give peace a chance.”

Ether light splashed into the air fairly close by.

A shell had landed close enough to elicit a shout from the students out front.

The artillery fire was very scattered. It was plenty powerful, but the density was lacking. However…

“I get the feeling their aim is improving,” said Tenzou.

“Oh, you think so too?”

He nodded while a few communication text sign frames appeared by his hands. He bundled them together and held them between his fingers.

“I will go measure the attacks while moving around to better judge their aim.”

“Oh, thanks. Once I can move, I’ll do the same.”

“Yes, this is our job since we are the only ones who can move around so much right now. I imagine the upperclassmen have already noticed, but it can’t hurt to send them some solid data.”

With that, the ninja disappeared.

He’s fast, I’ll give him that.

He was good at his work and he was a considerate person, so why couldn’t he find a girlfriend?

Rumor had it he was into busty blondes, but he would have a better understanding of himself once they were in high school. And if that did turn out to be what he wanted…

I guess he’ll be forever alone.

That line of thinking was cut off by another beam of white light shooting by overhead. Its path was veering aft.

Huh? That would take it toward…

The Asama Shrine, right?

Scarred: “I see Master Tenzou was a hard worker even back then.”

Gold Mar: “Oh, what’s this, Ma-yan!? Falling in love all over again?”

Scarred: “No, because falling in love again would require falling out of love with him first, which I will never do.”

Flat Vassal: “I-I didn’t even think about you listening to this when I mentioned my thoughts about busty blondes and him not having a girlfriend. But am I getting away with that one!?”

Wise Sister: “By the way, where is Tenzou?”

Scarred: “Judge. He is already asleep, so I will let him rest his head on my lap later.”

Asama: “Okay, let’s get back to the flashback before my blood sugar reaches critical levels! Mito!”

Silver Wolf: “Um, I am not a memory retrieval device, you know?”

Mitotsudaira ran through the forest, kicking off the height differences between crust blocks.

What in the world is going on!?

A ghost fleet was attacking the Musashi.

The Musashi had excellent defenses, but disaster could still strike and separate problems could occur at the same time.

This emergency could manifest itself in ways other than the attack on the Musashi.

“Like this I see in front of me!”

Ahead on the right, she saw a group of shadows moving through the foggy artificial forest.

They seemed to be pursuing someone. The group of 10 or so had an apparent leader at the front.

The leader was quick, but the others…

Are slow enough for me to catch up!

She felt excited, which was partially an instinctual response to pursuing a prey, but also…

This is a direct order from my king!

Her heart danced. It had been so long since she ran through the forest at night. Before her home nation of Hexagone Française had sent her to Musashi, she had often played in the mountains behind her home. And she had occasionally gotten lost.

Her mother had taken her hunting with her before and she recalled walking through the forest to view the stars.

She was far from an expert at forest travel; she simply did not fear the forest night.

She kept moving with her king’s command in her heart.

Mitotsudaira had made a personal vow to only use her strength when it was necessary. It was her way of showing she had learned her lesson after that wild period of her life.

“Use it on me,” her king had insisted. “Cause I’m sure to do some rude things!”

And he really would treat her like a dog, which gave her a chance to release some of that stress. Not that I am always fighting an urge to go wild or anything. It is more like…

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. You want to frolic with and sniff your king, but your pride won’t allow it, which builds up a lot of stress?”

Mar-Ga: “And your king treating you like a dog gives you an excuse to do just that, so you count yourself lucky?”

Hori-ko: “Mitotsudaira-sama, they are scoring bull’s eye after bull’s eye against you today.”

Silver Wolf: “Stop making things up!”

Asama: “Then what is really going on there?”

Still Got It: “That’s right, Nate! As my daughter, you need to be very, very clear here! A true lady wolf will lick all over her beloved and frolic with them, leaving herself all hot and bothered! Age has nothing to do with it!! Now, be true to your instincts: three, two, one, go!”

Silver Wolf: “Why are you getting involved in this!?”

Mitotsudaira was a knight.

She was Rank 1 within Musashi’s Knight League and she was a knight of her trusted king.

She was a knight in both her public and private lives, but she had been neglecting the former part of her knighthood of late.

She felt reclaiming that public position would be difficult after that wild period of her life.

I honestly would not complain if they stripped me of the title.

But her name was more trouble than she had thought.

Mitotsudaira was an abbreviation of Mito Matsudaira.

The Far East’s representative was Matsudaira Motonobu in Mikawa.

She belonged to a Matsudaira branch family. The history recreation had not reached that point yet, but she was second in line to the Far East since Matsudaira Motonobu had no heir.

Her home nation of Hexagone Française had gotten her that inherited name and sent her to Musashi since the name would let her interfere with the future of the Far East.

Her name and Hexagone Française’s wishes may have been the only thing preserving her position as a knight.

Others probably saw her as coasting by on that name and on Hexagone Française’s backing, but she had decided to throw out everything except for being a knight and work to redo things there.

She had managed that because her king had wanted her as a necessary part of his life instead of “taking her in” or “rescuing her”.

Her king’s orders came above all else because they would lead to the future she wanted.

And he had said, “If things look bad and you think you can do something about it, then do that something.”

She had not lost enough of her wolfishness to think this qualified as bad.

She had lived wild for a while.

She was now simply restraining that wild side, so it had not faded away. And her king must have known that since he had assumed she would “think she could do something about it”.

So she approached the mystery group from the back right. To discover who they were, she focused on her sense of smell as she ran through the artificial forest.

Interesting.

She noticed something.

“This is a group of ghosts!”

Asama nodded at the divine transmission coming from Mitotsudaira.

They had stopped at the aft entrance to the Asama Shrine and were checking for any movement in the vicinity.

With the ghost fleet to port, the personnel on the central and rear ships had moved to the port side. That included the students, the guards, and the youth organization.

That made it hard to find personnel to divert to the issue here.

“Why won’t the guards show up like they always do to arrest me? Oh, do they only do that cause they love me so much?”

“I will be ignoring your jokes since this is an emergency, but a legit attack from a ghost fleet is a rare thing, so I think no one is sure if it’s safe to leave the front line right now.”

That was not too unusual.

But Mito’s report just now changes things.

Asama trusted Mitotsudaira about her opponent being ghosts.

The girl had Loup-Garou blood, so she had a sharp nose and it was unlikely she would mistake a biological being for an ether one.

“Mito, do you mean they have no scent?”

“Judge! Exactly! Unlike the ghosts who live on the Musashi!”

“What does that mean?” he asked.

“Well,” said Asama. “Mito figured this out by running around smelling and tasting things, but…”

“I did not!”

Mito, please don’t butt in.

But if Mitotsudaira was going to complain, she must have made a poor choice of words. So…

“Then let’s say she figured it out by sniffing and licking things.”

“Again, I did not! It just means no scent is reaching my nose!”

“Of course. Yes. That’s what I thought you meant. Absolutely.”

Mitotsudaira ended the divine transmission there, but she needed to work on her short temper, so Asama forcibly reconnected it. Don’t even try to outdo the divine transmission master. Anyway…

“Even ghosts are influenced by the things they interact with in their everyday lives. They also wear clothes like living people. So a complete lack of that means all of their clothing and equipment is part of their ghost being, which is generally the case for low-level ghosts.” Asama made sure to hedge her next statement. “Most likely, this is a vengeful spirit or something similar with almost no intelligence.”

“So why’d they appear?” he asked. “This is the Asama Shrine’s forest, isn’t it?”

“To be honest, I don’t really know.”

Asama found herself wondering that very thing.

The Musashi’s spell barrier was functioning just fine. The high-density ether cannons were one thing, but if a vengeful spirit arrived from outside, they would have weakened and disappeared well before reaching the Musashi.

Then did this vengeful spirit already live on the Musashi?

No. If it did, Mitotsudaira would have detected its life on Musashi in its scent.

Asama’s intuition told her this had appeared suddenly.

But how had it managed to appear in the Asama Shrine’s forest?”

The inability to accept a fact you did not understand was a bad habit of the intelligent. Especially when you only had to view the truth before your eyes and act accordingly.

So she nodded and turned toward Toori as he spoke into his sign frame.

“Nate, Asama says it’s a vengeful spirit.”

So…

“Sic ‘em. Ignoring a moving grudge is never a good idea.”

Hori-ko: “Asama-sama, did he really say something so cool?”

Asama: “Eh? I-I think so? R-right, Mito?”

Mitotsudaira received her king’s divine transmission.

“Nate, I have a command for my knight. Allowing a grudge to grow more powerful is never a good idea. But I know you can handle it, so I’m counting on you.”

Asama: “Mito! Mito! The past is powering up as we speak!”

Silver Wolf: “B-but that really is how I remember it. I think?”

Smoking Girl: “So we’ve already discovered a discrepancy in our memories, huh?”

Scarred: “But you will accurately remember the things that truly matter. For example, I remember every word Master Tenzou and I said to each other when he came to rescue me.”

Gold Mar: “Yeah, Ma-yan tends to take words at face value, so that doesn’t surprise me.”

Mar-Ga: “Oh, my thread is going places today.”

Mitotsudaira did not bother observing her opponent.

She had the Asama Shrine’s assurance that this was a vengeful spirit.

She was strong and, at the moment, she was faster too. She only had to keep running as she raised her arms and used the movement to wrap her longish sleeves around her forearms. That helped her move more easily, but it also increased her defense. Now she only had to move forward, and…

“…!”

She broke through a white fog created from the chill and the ether.

Its currents were bent and broken by her charge, but that was not worth stopping over.

She slammed into the enemy.

She was unarmed, so she made a jab with her hand in a karate chop shape. That was a basic attack for a Loup-Garou.

It hit. And…

Okay!

It pierced through.

The opponent appeared to be wearing light armor. They were made of ether, but their shape was in flux, making their overall appearance hard to make out. She could see the hard point parts on either side of the neck and hips, and they looked rectangular. Did that mean they were from the Far East, England, or M.H.R.R.?

She jabbed her hand through their back.

She first thought they felt hard, but then they felt more resilient.

Her fingertips sank into something like a taut cloth, but it had a hardness that deflected her.

That did not matter.

She swung her running legs forward to continue on with the attack.

The “cloth” tore.

She broke through the resilience, but she felt it wrapping around her fingers and arm. Her sleeve was already wrapped around her arm, but the chill still reached her skin. It was a terrible chill, even though it was spring. However…

“Sorry,” she said. “But high quality Far Eastern uniforms have defensive abilities and divine protections woven in!”

This opponent would have known that about uniforms before becoming a ghost.

The combination of an inner suit and outer clothing had been standard since the Age of the Gods. It had been designed for functioning in the emptiness of the heavens, under bands of heavy gravity, or under the effects of foreign concepts, but they were primarily designed for combat nowadays.

A name inheritor like her would have defenses and anti-ghost divine protections woven into the base material.

“–––––––”

As the ether body wrapped around her jabbing arm, it came apart and spread out like a ripple.

The pattern stitched into her wrapped sleeve glowed to show a divine protection was at work.

Then her opponent came apart.

She had defeated the first of them.

Mitotsudaira rejoiced at her success.

I can do this!

It had been a while since she had fought in a real battle, but her body still knew what to do.

She was grateful it had been a weak ghost. Once they took clear form, a ghost’s parts would begin to gain the abilities of their real equivalents.

Then it would be the same as facing an actual person or weapon.

But this was different. They looked like multiple people, but it was all just the one ghost. And they were slow to move and react. They would only ever think about fulfilling the regret that had led them to become a vengeful spirit. So…

“One down!”

Ether light silently but forcefully rippled and burst at the end of her arm.

A glowing ripple spread out and scattered.

Then it vanished.

All that remained were the disturbed fog and fragments of ether light.

Finally, the others noticed her. First, one ahead on her right turned toward her.

“…!”

This ghost was not powerful enough to speak.

But a vibration of the air was enough to convey their anger.

“Mito!” Asama must have been monitoring things. “They seem to be roaring, so are you taking any ghost damage!? That can forcibly inspire an urge to panic, so be careful! I will deal with it if you feel it coming on!”

She was fine. Because…

“A Loup-Garou like me is a more powerful ether being!”

Loup-Garous were spirits of fear. They had been born from the human fear of the dark and of wild animals.

The panic urge produced by these human-based ghosts could not affect a Loup-Garou.

But they were unable to figure that out at this point, so they simply tried to attack. They raised an ineffectual ghost blade in their right hand and tried to turn to face her while running.

Unfortunately for them, they were too slow. She briefly held her right arm – the same one she used earlier – up to the left.

“You’re mine!”

She sent a backhand blow to the right, which looked a lot like an elbow strike.

It hit.

The enemy must have panicked. Since they were holding something like a sword in their right arm, they attempted to block the blow with their left shoulder’s armor.

The movement was well done. After stopping their opponent with the block, they would jab their blade in from the side.

But Mitotsudaira had a trick up her sleeve: power.

The instant her right arm hit…

“…”

She placed her center of gravity on the sole of her running right foot and lowered her right hip. The weight of her upper body was instantly sent to the bottom of her right foot, allowing her to sink down as a single mass.

That stomp made her attacking arm the leading edge of all that downward-directed weight.

“–––––”

She pushed her power through, so the impact smashed the enemy from their left shoulder to their left chest.

Her anti-ghost divine protection could permeate a foe through a physical blow like that.

Damage spread across a wider portion of them than she had actually struck, so their entire left side was blown away.

Light scattered everywhere.

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But the enemy was not bound by the rules of biology. They attacked with their sword even with only their right side remaining.

In an instant, Mitotsudaira ducked even lower down.

She lowered her knees forward as if dropping her body downwards.

“Oh.”

The ether blade passed by above her head.

At the same time, her body dropped even lower than her right arm from earlier.

She was leaning forward as if preparing to launch herself in that direction.

And her right arm happened to be raised just a bit higher than the shoulder.

Now she only had to launch her entire body forward.

“You are wide open.”

She slammed her right hand toward the enemy’s remaining half.

It hit.

Humans generally had difficulty touching ghosts. Ghosts used most of their ether on creating their bodies, so the actual density of ether was too low.

But Loup-Garous were different since they were spiritual beings. Mitotsudaira was only half Loup-Garou, but even she could…

Tear through them!

The enemy’s remaining half tore down the center as Mitotsudaira charged on through.

Ether scattered and Mitotsudaira emerged on the other side.

She took a breath while facing forward.

She was slow, so preventing her speed from dropping was more important than speeding up. She trained herself in such techniques long ago and she still remembered them.

She could do this, so she faced the less than 10 remaining.

“Here I go!”

“Oh? Something’s disturbing the fog by the Asama Shrine.”

Hearing Margot, Naruze looked toward the bow.

They had descended from the sky onto the rear of Okutama’s starboard side. A lot of the school’s people lived there.

Several beams of light tore through the dimly-lit evening sky above and the repeated sounds and lights of shattering defense barriers reached them from port.

Their job was to cast divine protections on the surface city, block by block. They provided defense, soundproofing, and ether infrastructure preservation all at once.

Other members of the delivery business and students who could fly had been tasked with the same job, but the Technohexen were in charge of Okutama’s surface city. They could see upperclassmen and unfamiliar student Technohexen, who were probably important, flying above the cities outside their area.

They had all been given divine protection spells provided by Musashi during emergencies.

“Things really are weird over by the Asama Shrine. Asama-chi sent a message about a vengeful spirit earlier, but do you think that’s true, Ga-chan?”

“I don’t know, but I imagine this will be over before the guards even show up.”

“Why do you say that?”

Naruze nodded at Margot’s question.

White fog filled the bow end of the Asama Shrine’s nature district. Musashi and the Chancellor’s Officers had sent out a notice that no one was to enter that area since it might be dangerous.

But the fog only covered a limited area. Because…

“Okutama’s nature district only covers about a kilometer even though it runs from bow to stern. They’ll reach the end soon enough running like that. I don’t know what those vengeful spirits are thinking, but Mitotsudaira will catch up to them soon enough.”

“Then what do we do, Ga-chan?”

“Good question,” she said just as the Musashi did something different.

Until now, they had been traveling straight in preparation for a descent, but now they began sliding to the right, which meant to the north.

They were putting space between themselves and the ether fleet to port.

“The Musashi must be worried if it’s moving off course for our docking at the landport.”

And just as she said that…

Eh?

She saw a sudden light.

A single beam of light flew in a shallow diagonal line from the southern sky in order to reach Okutama’s surface.

It was on a collision course.