Horizon:Kimitoasamade 3B Chapter 12
Chapter 12: Responders of the Twin Walls
Do you know
When you face each other
Even at a distance?
Point Allocation (Response)
The battle began with an intersection.
Marine suddenly leaped forward from a distance of seven meters.
She moved in a straight line, with no evasive action or feinting. She only lowered her body slightly, but she did use the thrusters on her shoulders and hips.
So it only took an instant for four-winged Marine to jump in between the Technohexen.
Meanwhile, the Technohexen responded to the sudden approach.
They took defensive stances and started to move, but then they stopped.
After all, Marine did not do anything.
If she had moved in close and attacked, the defenders could have dealt with it. But because they could do that, Marine’s action filled Zwei Fräulein with confusion.
It only lasted a short moment, but all motion came to a stop.
And it was Marine who started back up a moment later.
With a burst from her thrusters, she blasted wind behind her.
That wind blew the gravel away and the air pressure reflected off the ground.
And the Zwei Fräulein pair was blasted to the front and back of the shrine grounds.
Naruze scraped along the gravel by the shrine building.
She had been blown away and slid a few meters after landing on her knees. She had kept herself from rolling, but it still pissed her off.
After all, that attack had not been made by the enemy’s weapon. She had only used the air explosion of her thrusters to throw them off balance.
She was angry that she had been brought to her knees before the enemy had even produced her weapon.
She groaned and flapped the main wings on her back.
She attempted to pursue Marine with her broom in hand, but…
When she turned around, Marine was right there.
Hadn’t the blast that hit Naruze accelerated Marine in a jump to starboard?
But that estimation differed from reality.
And Marine pressed something cold against Naruze’s jaw.
It was the muzzle of a metal gun.
She had already squeezed the trigger and Naruze heard the automatic flintlock mechanism.
Mitotsudaira heard three sounds and she saw two movements and one reaction.
The three sounds were all of weapons-fire.
The movements were of Naruze on the grounds’ aft end and Naito on the fore end being blasted further to aft and fore respectively.
And the reaction was…
“In the sky!?”
About three meters above the Asama Shrine, the top of the barrier emitted light.
That was the defense reaction of something striking it from below.
Kimi nodded next to her.
“Naito shot Naruze to knock her out of the way and save her, so Marine also shot Naito and Naito blocked with her broom. Marine’s bullet that should have hit Naruze instead hit the ceiling. …That’s my guess anyway.”
That was probably about it. But if Kimi was right, then Marine’s weapon was…
“A pair of ether pistols…”
That was exactly what Marine held in her hands. The large double-barrel handguns had a somewhat outdated design. The one she held in her right hand was still aimed behind her toward Naito. And…
The one in her left hand was aimed at Naruze who had been shot out of the way by Naito.
Gunfire sounded once more.
Asama saw a sudden flap from some midair black wings.
The movement sent the wings back and to the right and that strike caused Naruze to spin in midair.
I didn’t know they could move like that in the air, thought Asama while Naruze swung her arm in the middle of her spin.
She held a pen in her right hand and the leftward rotation of her body allowed it to draw a long arc.
The drawn line was directed toward Marine.
And the coin Naruze fired from her left hand raced toward Marine.
Naruze saw an instantaneous explosion.
The smokeless and fireless blast was made of air.
Marine had accelerated.
The coin bullet Naruze had fired was deflected by the air explosion and scattered through the air. And Marine…
…Where is she!?
Naruze instantly checked all four directions: left, right, up, and down.
She continued facing forward and used the edges of her vision to check. She pursued the enemy with the confirmation method used by the warriors and guards of every nation.
And she found the enemy.
She was in an unexpected location.
“Right in front of me!?”
She was not in any of the four directions.
Marine had not used the high-acceleration blast to move.
…It was to rotate once on the spot…
Her midair rotation had become something of a side flip and she had even made sure to spread her legs for landing.
And as she flipped upside down, her left hand held a pistol.
The gunshot targeted Naruze’s legs.
Naruze’s reflexes chose defense.
But her action did not come from training. When the attack arrived, she lifted up her feet and embraced her body with her arms as if curling up.
And that movement saved her.
The first bullet passed below her lifted feet.
Marine’s gun had used the recoil to instantly lift itself up and it now targeted Naruze’s face.
But the next shot was blocked by the broom in Naruze’s right hand. She had pulled it in while embracing her body.
With a solid sound, her body was knocked back through the air. But she had used her broom as a shield and chosen what path she would be pushed along.
She had placed her raised knee against the broom’s upper surface to send herself backwards. And as she flew toward the main shrine, her right hand drew out several lines in the air.
Most of them were firing lines targeting Marine as her flip came to an end. Instead of a straight-line path, Naruze used curving lines to strike her enemy from above and below.
“How about that!?”
But Marine stopped.
She stopped while upside down in the air.
She must have realized she would have difficulty dodging and defending during her flip, so while upside down…
She charged toward Naruze.
Mitotsudaira saw an upside-down swordfight.
Not a gunfight.
Marine’s weapons were indeed a pair of guns, but…
…Those are ship-top sword combat movements!
Ship-top sword combat.
The fighter primarily fought while turned to the side in order to fight atop poor footing such as ropes or narrow bridges. In Marine’s case, she kept her left side forward. She kept her forward left elbow lowered and her rear right hand higher than her head and lightly swaying to keep her overall balance.
The Hexagone Française equivalent was known as thrust sword fighting and it allowed you to rapidly advance using thrusts.
The rear hand acted as your rudder while you made repeated high-speed thrusts.
But there was one clear difference from that sort of sword fighting: these were guns.
When thrusting a gun forward like a sword, it had penetrative power with essentially limitless reach.
This was high-speed sword fighting that ignored the usual reach limitations.
That was how Marine moved.
While Naruze fell back and fired, Marine lunged forward with no concern for her enemy’s gunfire.
She was upside down.
Marine had probably trained for this kind of movement. Most likely…
“She has been trained for actual combat, hasn’t she!?”
Marine’s actions provided an eloquent answer.
She avoided Naruze’s extreme close-range gunfire as if stepping over it.
Meanwhile, this had to be Naruze’s first time fighting in these conditions. Mitotsudaira had received a knight’s combat training, but even she had never fought while upside-down.
Marine’s gunfire accurately targeted Naruze and the Technohexen responded.
She desperately deflected Marine’s attack with the broom shield she pushed at with her knee and she continued drawing her attack lines.
But the number of coins she fired was noticeably reduced from before.
She was being pushed back. In fact, her wings bent as she fell back toward the main shrine.
Naruze was in trouble.
So Mitotsudaira looked to Naito on the fore end.
But when she looked in that direction, Mitotsudaira saw something unexpected.
Naito too was being fired on and kept from moving like she wanted.
It was the pistol.
Marine held her right arm behind her head to balance herself.
And the second pistol she held in that hand was firing on Naito.
While she gently swung the arm, the twin barrels tore into the ground at Naito’s feet.
Naito silently expressed amazement at Marine’s aim.
She had not been firing on Naito. The woman’s bullets were hitting the gravel near her toes.
That seemed like nothing. It looked like she had missed.
But that was not the case. Marine was accomplishing one simple task.
…She’s keeping me from taking a single step forward!
Winged species like them also had to move the wings on their back when they moved their body. Their wings were heavy and created air resistance, so a solid first step was important when moving.
Especially when she wanted to quickly pick up speed like she did here, she would be moving too slow if she raised her wings to flap them. She had to stay low as she stepped forward and then lightly pull back to more compactly lift her wings.
But her enemy had sealed off that initial step.
She could not move. Since she could not gain the initial speed she needed, the enemy could shoot her at any time. If she tried to move now, a shot would fly toward her body instead of the ground at her feet. So…
She had to maintain her defensive stance and she was held in place.
…I have to do something…!
As soon as she thought that, she saw that Naruze had been pushed all the way back to the main shrine.
The sounds of gunfire grew louder and Naruze was blown away.
Naito cried out as Naruze crashed into the shrine.
She heard the Schwarz Hexen cry out behind her, and…
Straight ahead. The Weiss Hexen crashed back-first into the main shrine.
But she did not actually reach the shrine building’s structure. The barrier set up for the battle formed a wall in front of the building and the Technohexen merely slammed into that cage.
The Technohexen’s friends and the Asama Shrine Representative were watching them from the pile of instruments to the side of the stairs leading up to the main shrine. But they could not assist the Technohexen. So…
…Here I go!
Marine moved forward.
She used repeated gunfire sword thrusts to hunt the Technohexen.
And in that instant, the Technohexen did something.
She kicked her shield broom toward Marine.
Marine’s movements were very slightly thrown off by the Technohexen’s choice to make herself defenseless.
A moment later, the Technohexen fired a shot with her left arm.
It came from the shield’s previous location. The enemy’s accurate shot was launched toward Marine’s face from the space she had been avoiding targeting.
Asama saw Marine flip once more.
Her upside-down body was flipped right side up.
And she used that to avoid Naruze’s bullet.
But Asama saw something else too.
Marine lightly twisted her body.
At first glance, she seemed to have carelessly lost her balance. However…
“Heh heh. She’s dodging that, isn’t she?”
What Kimi meant soon became apparent.
A beam of light from behind passed through the space Marine’s body had just occupied.
Naito had fired to take advantage of the disturbance in her movements. And…
There was a reason Asama mentally voiced her confusion a second time.
The shot Marine had avoided hit the broom Naruze had kicked away.
With a solid sound, the white wing broom returned to Naruze’s hands. And it had rotated ninety degrees so it pointed to the side.
It looked a lot like an acrobatic stunt, but…
…Was it a coincidence?
No. After all, Naito had called out to Naruze beforehand.
That had not said what she would be doing. However…
“That cry let Naruze accept that Naito would do something about it,” said Kimi. “So Naruze’s duty was to create an opening for Naito to act. And so they both played their role.”
A moment later, Naruze activated her broom’s thruster full blast and flew to port.
On the fore end, Naito also held her broom to her side and accelerated to port.
They would meet up on the port edge of the barrier.
“This is it…”
Asama thought the rest of her comment: Zwei Fräulein can regroup.
But a moment later, Asama saw something else.
A bit toward the main shrine end of center, the gravel was blasted into the air like a surging wave.
That was proof that Marine had launched herself at high speed.
Naruze saw something other than Margot in front of her.
She still had another four meters to go before regrouping with Margot.
But a four-winged figure with thrusters equipped had cut her off. And…
Naruze raised her broom to block the gunshot that rang out.
But that was not the only solid sound. There were two.
Margot had been deflected at the same time as her.
She had been shot downwards and Margot upwards.
Of course, a bullet was not enough to send their bodies and momentum flying. But to allow the incoming shock to leave them, Naruze had jumped forward and up while Margot had slid downwards.
They were still allowed a small exchange, but…
She and Margot were unable to regroup and they were sent flying away while passing above and below Marine.
This time Naruze was on the fore end and Margot was on the aft end by the main shrine.
They had been split up.
Naito felt a cold sweat in her heart.
…This is bad…
She was not certain, but she sensed a threat here.
If she let the feeling transform into panic, that threat would become a danger.
But, she thought about the threat she sensed.
…She’s keeping Ga-chan and me from working together!?
Calling out just their partner’s name.
Whenever they used movements or sounds, the enemy would detect it and intervene.
The reason why was obvious.
Naito formed the words as she fell back and caught Marine’s gunfire on her broom.
“You’re a battlefield warrior…”
“Marine” was an accurate description of the woman.
“Your equipment is meant for combat between and atop ships, but since so very few people can use that equipment, your training would focus on fighting against superior numbers. So you know how to detect the cues the enemy uses to work together when they outnumber you.”
“Judge. …Split up the enemy and then focus your attention on one at a time, starting with the most easily managed. That is the standard tactic.”
She was far more experienced. That was all it was.
…It really pisses me off…!
Back at the Blue Thunder, Naito had realized that titles did not matter and so she had wanted the challenge.
She had cast aside her doubt to reach for this higher level, but she was realizing now that it really was on a higher level.
She and Naruze had been split up when faced with the undeniable skill brought by experience.
And then she realized the gunfire was coming.
Marine had accelerated while making a straight-line jab with her pistol.
Naruze was held in place by Marine’s backwards gunfire.
The enemy had altered the previous setup.
Not only was she focusing on Margot this time, but instead of splitting them up between fore and aft, they were now split up between opposite corners of the barrier: the starboard fore and the port aft.
…This is not good!
Margot was being driven back into the corner.
If that happened, she would be unable to escape to the side like Naruze had before. She would simply be cornered and fired on.
Naruze sensed further danger because Margot’s attack spells generally used her broom as a cannon.
She could not attack while using her broom as a shield, so she would only continue to be attacked.
And currently, the number of gunshots accurately confirmed Naruze’s fears.
The one, two, three of the firing hammer striking was cornering her precious partner.
But she too had bullets aimed at her feet and…
“…My face too!?”
This was different from when it was Margot. To keep her from focusing on the gunfire at her feet, some of the bullets flew toward her face and throat. And if she carelessly fell back, she too would be driven into the corner.
But she could clearly hear the gunshots. And…
“A minute and a half has passed.”
She clearly heard Asama’s dignified voice.
The time limit was three minutes.
Marine only had to keep them in these positions for a minute and a half.
But if that happened…
…We can’t reach anything!
As soon as Naruze thought that, Marine took a step forward. Naruze saw it as an attempt to fully drive Margot into the corner.
Mitotsudaira did not know why Naruze had moved forward.
Marine had not moved.
She had thrust a bullet toward Naito while lightly crisscrossing her legs on the gravel and then returning them.
The movement of her sideways-turned body had simply made a false step and returned to her original stance.
And yet Naruze had moved forward. Kimi explained:
“That was a feint…but that might be exactly why Naruze acted.”
However, her action had been careless.
She had been unable to gain solid footing due to the gunfire at her feet, so she had tried to use her broom’s thrust to make a forced leap. But…
Before Mitotsudaira could cry out, Marine had used her acceleration as a weapon.
She seemed to collapse backwards, but she opened her back thrusters toward Naruze.
However, she was a fair distance away from Naruze. No matter how powerful her acceleration was, she could not directly use the air explosion as a weapon.
But she had something else to act as a weapon: the gravel covering the ground.
The 3cm stones were launched backwards like a scattershot and they struck Naruze.
And that was not all.
Hit by the stones, Naruze lost her balance and fell. That was when Marine launched an attack behind her.
It hit Naruze’s left shoulder.
The Asama Shrine’s censorship replaced the attack power with a relatively harmless concussive blow and Naruze’s body flipped upside down.
She had been hit.
Marine’s attack could be seen as a form of sharpshooting.
And Mitotsudaira judged the series of events on reflex.
This was their friends’ enemy, but her actions were worthy of that praise.
She was worried about Naruze who had been flipped upside down and slammed into the port side barrier wall, but she could not interfere.
Asama was acting as the referee and she too only watched the overall progress with her eyebrows raised. But Hanami also had her eyebrows raised while standing next to Asama’s face.
She must have been quite angry.
Regardless, the situation was not looking good for Naito and Naruze.
“Heh heh. That Marine woman isn’t half bad.”
“That’s true,” agreed Mitotsudaira. “When she intervened and prevented Naito and Naruze from regrouping earlier, she used her accelerating flap to launch the gravel to starboard. And then while she was driving Naito into the starboard fore corner, she hit Naruze with the gravel piled up from the previous blast. …I’m guessing the first blast was a test to see how much gravel she could launch.”
She would test out ways to take elements of the battlefield, build them into her tactics, and then use them.
That was only possible for someone with proper training and actual combat experience.
There was no point in asking why someone like that had come to Musashi. Musashi was a gathering place for people with interesting pasts.
And Mitotsudaira had a thought about what Marine was wearing:
…I’m pretty sure she’s from Tres España, but…
Before, she had mentioned her homeland’s decline and seeing herself in the same light.
What had that meant?
The instant the Weiss Hexen was hit, Marine felt immense relief.
…I’ve moved within a step of victory.
With that thought, she continued firing on the Schwarz Hexen while listening to the Asama Shrine Representative voice her approach to victory from outside the barrier.
That number was the ten count used to see whether or not a collapsed combatant could continue the fight.
If the ten count reached the end here, it would mean one of Zwei Fräulein was KO’d and Marine would be declared the winner.
Don’t stand back up, begged Marine.
She wanted this win so she could confirm her, Almirante’s, and the others’ positions.
She was one of the Tres Españans in Musashi. And she wanted that position to remain flat.
The Testament said Tres España would decline.
While they would domestically work to avoid that decline, the other nations would bind them in order to keep that powerful nation from growing too strong.
The Reconquista had only ended fairly recently, so it was a young nation. They leaned Catholic for the authority that brought and they had begun trade with the New World, but that led to an obsession with blood purity and the nation was being hollowed out.
And it was said the finishing blow would be their greatest loss in the Armada Battle against England. The Student Council was working to make sure that did not end as a simple loss, but…
…They can’t wipe clean their image of being a nation destined to decline.
After coming to Musashi, Marine had found her former commander Almirante and the others here, so she had intended to enjoy herself.
But the year before, when those two Technohexen had just entered high school, Almirante had fought them to test them out, but he had suffered an entirely unexpected defeat.
Those two had won and lost plenty of times since, but they had steadily risen in the ranks of the delivery business.
Almirante had never asked for a rematch.
He had stuck with his loss.
She could not ask him if he was really okay with that because it had to do with his individual feelings.
But Marine felt like she and Almirante had been driven out of Tres España.
And if even their homeland lost…
Marine thought to herself.
…How long am I going to keep losing?
Would she never have a time where nothing around her was facing defeat?
She would win.
She would win here and wipe clean Almirante’s loss.
She would restore her former commander’s good name and change her own destiny. And for that…
…Please let me win!
But Marine realized something.
The number zero did not arrive.
“I knew it…”
Marine heard the scraping of the gravel behind her as someone stood up.
Without even looking back, she knew it was the Weiss Hexen who had dodged, fallen back, and recovered despite being hit by the gunfire.
And she knew how the girl had recovered from the impact so quickly. It went back to when those two had crossed paths earlier.
“Schwarz Hexen, did you pass her a reduction spell?”
While desperately defending in a corner of the barrier, the Schwarz Hexen looked her way.
“I won’t tell you!”
The corners of her mouth rose. But…
With that, she took a ridiculous action.
“Think for yourself!!”
The Schwarz Hexen yelled and moved forward.
…What a stupid decision!
Marine fired a bullet at her.
The sound of impact rang out and the Schwarz Hexen was nearly knocked backwards.
But the Technohexen’s feet slid along the gravel while she held her ground.
She had caught the bullet in her left hand.
Naito felt no pain.
She had been hit in the palm of her outstretched left hand.
The bullet provided impact damage, so it would not pierce her flesh. So…
…A pain reduction spell.
That anesthetic spell was known as a Schwarz Hexen recovery spell.
It reduced the pain almost to zero in the affected area.
Of course, it did not eliminate the damage done and it did not hasten recovery.
And the worst part was how hard it was to move the body part properly with the feeling gone.
When used for healing, the absence of pain let you rest, but when used in battle…
“It lets you power through the damage you take…!”
She heard a dull sound from her left palm. She could not feel the back of her hand or the ulna.
She had apparently broken a few bones. She was pretty sure checking would tell her it was even worse than that, but she decided against it because it would put a damper on her excitement.
She simply moved forward.
But Marine was moving.
She adjusted her position to continue separating Naito and Naruze.
She moved her wings and moved quickly to create the same situation as before.
…What do we do…!?
The enemy could read their cooperation.
Their cooperative techniques had been fostered in training, so they were all things that Marine had already seen with her superior experience.
What were they supposed to do?
As she wondered that and moved forward, she heard Asama’s voice.
“One minute left.”
Marine thought, Get through just one more minute and I win.
The Technohexen were already worn down.
The Weiss Hexen had been hit. The pain reduction would keep her from using anything past her left shoulder.
The Schwarz Hexen had intentionally taken the hit, but Marine doubted the girl could use her left hand.
The enemy no longer had use of their left arms.
They were both right-handed, so that would not prevent them from attacking.
However, the loss of their other arm had an important meaning when it came to Technohexen that used coin bullets.
…It slows their loading time!
The Weiss Hexen in particular used her pen to fire. If she held her broom as a shield, she could not wield her pen.
If Marine continued firing, the Weiss Hexen would become no more than a shield and the risk would drop.
If she reduced the enemy’s attack frequency like that, she could get through the final minute.
She could endure, push forward, hold them in place, and win.
She could read the enemy’s attempts at cooperation. So…
…I will win!
She would win and wipe clean their “loss”. She could sweep aside the continued losses that were pushed onto her by others.
She could push back all of those things forced onto her by her nation, the organization’s development race, and her position.
Marine fired to accomplish that.
Asama realized Marine’s accuracy had increased.
Her aim and positioning were more certain than before.
Some sort of hesitation had left her.
Marine currently had the advantage. Asama had thought she would grow somewhat careless once victory was within sight, but she instead continued firing and intensified her attacks.
Mitotsudaira groaned quietly deep in her throat.
“What are they going to do…?”
She meant Naito and Naruze.
The silver wolf raised her eyebrows slightly as she viewed the battlefield.
“When the enemy has the greater strength and is reading your cooperative tactics, the prudent course of action is to withdraw or fall back while waiting for reinforcements.”
And just as she questioned the current state of the battle, they heard a sudden sound.
It was the strumming of strings.
Asama looked back and saw Kimi holding an instrument.
It was one of the guitars that Naruze had chosen.
But Kim was not looking at Naruze. Her gaze was directed toward a Magie Figur.
Naruze had placed it in the air when she was checking over the instruments earlier. And she had told them what it contained.
It was the Technohexen’s new song. That was when it dawned on Asama.
The notes Kimi had played were the intro to the song displayed there. But…
“…Why do that?”
Asama looked to Kimi who looked up.
But not at Asama. At Naruze.
Their Weiss Hexen classmate was standing sideways and pressing her left shoulder against her broom shield.
But Naruze was moving. Her right hand held her pen as it lowered and made another small movement.
…Is she operating something?
Just as Asama wondered that, a sudden sound came from the Magie Figur displaying the new song.
It was a light pop intro. Unlike the usual Technohexen songs, it could even be described as cute.
“Margot!” shouted Naruze. “Let’s do this…!”
Marine thought, Do what?
She could hear some music.
But it was not like the music that Zwei Fräulein would play while working or on stage.
…It’s very light.
Technohexen songs were a form of European folklore. And they more strongly represented Eastern Europe. They were dark songs that rang through the forest and ended there.
But this was different. And…
Behind her, she heard the Weiss Hexen firing.
She knew what this meant without even looking back. The Weiss Hexen had given up on her shield and focused on attack.
How reckless, thought Marine. Is this a desperate act because time is running out?
But just as she dodged the Weiss Hexen’s coin bullet, the Schwarz Hexen did something while using her broom as a shield.
She was not in a firing stance, but she still fired a coin bullet at Marine.
Did they have some Techno Magie they had kept hidden for use as a surprise attack?
…If you had that, you should’ve used it earlier!
But that was not what this was.
The Schwarz Hexen had not fired on her.
After all, when she looked closely at the incoming coin bullet…
“That’s the one the Weiss Hexen just fired…”
What did that mean?
It took Marine a moment to understand.
“Did she fire back the Weiss Hexen’s coin bullet with the repulsion gravity she uses for acceleration…!?”
That was not all.
She gave a quick glance back and saw the Weiss Hexen in action.
She used a line drawn by her pen to catch the coin bullet she had launched and her partner had sent back.
It bounced back and with even more speed than originally. Also…
“Ga-chan, let’s go for another!”
While the Weiss Hexen bounced it back, the Schwarz Hexen adjusted how she held the broom she had been using as a shield.
She used the gap in Marine’s firing to fire a shot of her own. Marine would normally have immediately dodged it, but she also had to worry about the one from the Weiss Hexen at the moment.
Marine used her full body to take evasive action.
Mitotsudaira watched and listened to the situation.
She could hear music, gunfire, and the repetition of coins being bounced back.
And she was pretty sure she knew what was controlling that.
…This is Naito and Naruze’s song…
Of course, the tempo and everything else was too slow when compared to their current movements. The lyrics had only just begun and, given the remaining time, the battle would end before the song even reached the halfway mark.
But the two of them were moving nonetheless.
They were moving according to the song. At least it looked that way to Mitotsudaira.
Why would they do this?
And it was not a type of cooperation learned from combat training or everyday life.
It sounded like a light song, but it still had its foundation in their previous songs.
It was a Technohexen song where one would call out, the other would respond, and then they would sing together.
The familiar division of parts and melody began with the song they could hear and gradually built up speed on top of that.
They would not stop.
They moved in perfect unison.
They called out, responded, and sang together.
They fired, deflected, and fought together.
“Heh heh. What is that? They’re not even looking at their opponent,” said Kimi. “But that might be what makes them Zwei Fräulein.”
Naito and Naruze sang within their great speed.
They had long since left behind the original speed of the song. But Naito fired.
“The bed late at night is so hard and lonely. The accommodation of love approaches a crossroads.”
Their song was not voiced. She simply isolated her part of the lyrics and tossed them to her partner.
But as if to catch them, Naruze would bounce back the shot. And…
“I will sing the music of dawn until morning. Everyone calls that a dream.”
The coin bullet flew.
Several bullets were already flying back and forth between them.
So the two of them bounced back the incoming bullets all at once.
Naruze used her pen to catch the additional shot coming her way.
“Come on in and bring your heart.”
In response, Naito used a spell to deflect the shot coming her way.
“The wings of arrival. Eisen.”
And they sang.
Naruze thought, Never a dull moment around here.
It was Kimi. That girl was just so hard to deal with.
Just when Naruze had been trying to come up with a way out of this, Kimi had given her a hint.
That hint was the intro to their new song.
That was a form of cooperation separate from their training and everything else.
Their exchange of attacks could be done through an exchange of song.
So they simply had to take turns sending something to the other.
And if they could not afford to make the other one wait, it would be based in an impatient yearning that led to a speedy response.
Naruze wanted to stubbornly insist that it had simply come to her and that Kimi had not clued her in
And Naruze sang. Margot did as well.
The shock of the deflected and fired shots felt good in her right arm.
“Ring the bell and I’ll be right there.”
“A hurrying heart. Eisen.”
“Even if you feel like giving up, don’t hang your head.”
“Don’t decide everything on your own. Raise your hand and look to the sky.”
That’s right, thought Naruze.
She was not alone.
“Black and gold wings.”
“White and black Gerade.”
“Twin skies and wings.”
“Morning and night can be bound together.”
She had a partner who would send back her shots. A partner who would take in her power and respond to it.
“The gift is a secret.”
Yes, agreed Naruze. The lyrics were embarrassing, but this was her part.
So she said it.
“The feelings that mend our love. Eisen.”
It was indeed embarrassing, but then they sang together and recovered that feeling.
“The gift is for you.”
“Let’s make our love with your Eisen.”
Asama watched the exchange of attacks and the lyrics scrolling by on the divine transmission.
Marine was pushing forward while also being pushed back.
Her strategy had been to separate the two Technohexen, but…
…They’ve made their separation a natural thing.
Their words could reach each other even while separated.
They could call out and receive a response.
They could receive a call and respond to it.
As those two variants were played out at high speed, the anxiety of separation vanished from their tactics.
Marine had split them up and repeatedly fired on them, but…
“I have six wings. Together we have twelve.”
“The geometric numbers of the Technohexen.”
They took advantage of that and set up an exchange of bullets.
“My Auspuff is limited. Together we are unlimited.”
That was true enough.
“The limitless Magie Herrlich.”
Both of them had lost use of one arm, but they were not at a disadvantage.
Their right hand seemed to take the place of the other’s left hand.
They both covered for the deficiencies in the other’s position and movements.
And Naruze looked to Naito.
“I am calling for you, Schwarz.”
Naito returned Naruze’s gaze.
“The gold wings of der Nacht.”
They both deflected a bullet at once.
This time, Naito looked to Naruze.
“I am calling for you, Weiss.”
Naruze clearly nodded at the lyrics. And with a smile…
“The black wings of der Morgen.”
Their attacks coincided.
Instead of taking turns, they bounced back bullets at the exact same moment, producing a song of complete unison that made even the word “cooperation” meaningless.
“Herein kommen. Let us spread all our wings and sing our love, your Eisen.”
“Herein kommen. Let us send forth the twin wings and sing our love.”
She was on the port side. The Schwarz Hexen was moving to port in order to assist the injured Weiss Hexen.
Marine accelerated toward them, changed direction, and blasted gravel. But…
…They can fight back!?
The enemy was positioned at equal distances on either side of her.
But it was the opposite of before.
She had not split them up.
The enemy had her surrounded.
This tactic would normally be unthinkable because it would lead to friendly fire.
But the black and white Technohexen could reflect and guide their shots, so it was possible for them. And…
They sang in their hearts a sped-up version of the music she heard.
The song controlled them like an incantation, but it was not the kind of Technohexen song heard in Europe.
She did not recognize the song. And as it sped up…
…What is this?
I’m being swallowed up, she concluded.
The music swelled like a large crowd. Marine realized that the current had the pattern of an uncontrollably stormy sea and was meant to surround her and sink her. After all…
“They aren’t even looking at me anymore…!”
This was what it meant to swallow someone up.
They looked away from her, took her into themselves, and left her there.
From there, she would be digested and suddenly find she had been sunk down to defeat.
This was the same as before.
The things she could not control were pushing her toward defeat and driving her out. So…
Marine moved toward victory.
There was a way. Specifically…
“Ten more seconds!” announced the Asama Shrine Representative.
Only ten seconds left.
Marine used that time to accelerate all at once.
She charged into the center of the shrine grounds to escape from between her two opponents.
If she could escape them for ten seconds, she would win. But…
The Technohexen were coming.
The Asama Shrine Representative’s voice rang through the air.
Marine saw that the Technohexen had abandoned their previous exchange and were pursuing her with the acceleration of their brooms.
The white and black pair held their brooms with their right arms and maintained their position on either side of Marine.
But while they had changed position, they had not fired bullets yet. The entirety of their previous exchange had collided with the port side barrier, producing a loud and solid sound.
Marine moved before the Technohexen could raise their brooms to fire or switch to their pen.
She fired on the two of them.
She fired at the black one’s feet and the white one’s face. And with that…
…I will win!
If they would pursue even when she dodged, she would have to fire. That was what this was. However…
Marine saw that the white and black Technohexen did not use their brooms and guns or prepare their pen.
They instead directed their brooms toward her.
The white and black intersected to avoid the bullets Marine had fired at their head or feet.
The black went up and the white down. The white flew fore and the black flew aft where the main shrine was.
Unlike their previous intersection, they were taking each other’s position. And…
The Schwarz Hexen twisted her body in midair.
She made a half rotation to flip upside down.
Marine saw her produce a firing acceleration spell in her hand.
That was normally used as her broom’s gun barrel. When used on its own, she could not specify a direction and the bullet could fly in any direction.
It would be dangerous if she got her broom up with that.
So Marine fired.
And just then…
The Schwarz Hexen fired several coin bullets while dodging below Marine’s bullet.
She fired directly from the acceleration spell in her hand.
Since she could not specify a direction, the coin bullets burst uncontrollably out of it.
Marine saw some of the silver color fly up and to the right and some of it fly down and to the left.
It was a failed attack.
It was obvious the girl had not had time to prepare her broom.
But Marine had to wonder why she had done this.
Was it simply a final desperate attempt as the timer ran out?
Marine heard the Weiss Hexen’s voice from behind her.
That was the sign of a Technohexen completing her spell.
However, Marine had not heard the Weiss Hexen prepare her pen after flying behind her.
Marine’s shot should have kept her off balance. So…
…It can’t be…
Marine saw a white curve appear between her and the Schwarz Hexen.
It was a guideline.
But it was not alone. Countless tracks appeared like lines meant to represent the wind.
She recognized it. At the beginning of the battle when she had driven the Weiss Hexen to the main shrine, that girl had drawn several of these lines. That had partially been because she had not had time to load any bullets and could not use them, but…
“Was it to guide me here!?”
It was for this final instant.
This spell created a surprise attack when Marine could not dodge in time.
And they had picked up all of the Schwarz Hexen’s stray shots.
Marine began her evasive action. She raised her thrusters.
And she received a direct hit.
It’s over, realized Asama as she opened the combat barrier.
No one inside remained standing.
Naruze and Naito had fallen to their knees and then sat down, facing each other.
With weak smiles, they raised their clenched right fists to reassure each other.
And Marine lay collapsed in the center of the shrine grounds.
She lay on her back despite how that could damage her wings.
Her right hand covered her face as she wept.
She had had her own reasons for this battle and this was the result. Asama stepped inside and spoke.
“If you need anything, the Asama Shrine will help you out, so I look forward to working with you.”
The woman did not acknowledge her. But Naruze sighed, and…
“I’ll contact Almirante, okay?”
Marine still did not respond, but she did move.
She sat up, took a deep breath, and stood up.
She brushed the gravel off of her clothing and equipment.
“I am leaving,” she said weakly.
“No, you aren’t,” announced Asama.
Naito looked back at that.
“Are you going to heal her?”
“No.” Asama shook her head. “You made a mess of the shrine’s grounds. All three of you need to level out the gravel. And do it properly; you’re in the presence of a god. You can’t leave until that is done.”
Marine glared at her, but Asama had no idea what she had said wrong.
Asama clapped once and said one last thing.
“That concludes the battle.”
|Back to Chapter 11||Return to Main Page||Forward to Final Chapter|