Horizon:Kimitoasamade 4A Chapter 6
Chapter 6: Blossoming Girls in an Enclosed Place
I said we would be back with that victory
But what do we do about this?
Point Allocation (Requires Effort)
Musashi’s sky felt so very high. That was because the inner diameter of the stealth barrier was based on the width of the Musashi.
It opened to a full width of nearly 2 kilometers, but the Musashi was only about 800 meters tall. The difference created a cylinder that measured about 600 meters top to bottom.
Currently, three figures were racing across the Musashi at high speed.
A Technohexen in black flew out front.
She was followed by black wings and gold wings.
The Technohexen in the lead was sitting up some and looked relaxed.
The pursuing two had the gold wings in front and the black wings following behind.
The three of them soared through the windy sky from the bow and to the starboard side of Takao which was to the back and right of the Musashi as a whole. The leading Technohexen made a shallow turn to the right, but she did not lose any speed.
She forcibly pushed her acceleration forward and slid to the side while moving through the air. As for the two behind her…
The gold wings broom bounced during the turn.
It looked like she had tripped over a rock despite being in the air. Her broom briefly lost power and bounced.
Each time it happened, the leading Technohexen would gain an even larger lead and the leftward-sliding brooms would bring them closer to the stealth barrier.
“Margot!” shouted the black wings behind her. “I’ll take the lead for this corner!”
The black wings flew out ahead, so the gold wings nodded once and cleared the way ahead without lowering her speed.
They switched who was in front and who was in back.
The black wings gave a twisting swing of her white broom and nailed the proper escape angle for the corner. The gold wings turned the tip of her broom forward as if to connect to that.
“Ga-chan! Move on ahead!”
The black wings accelerated. And…
On her white broom, the black wings drew a line with the pen in her right hand. That was…
“A similar spell summoning!”
With that, the line multiplied. There were now 8 of them.
The black wings scattered copper coins from her right sleeve so they reached that bundle of lines. And…
With that call of completion, the 8 coin bullets flew toward the leading Technohexen. And they did not fly in straight lines. The guide lines altered the trajectories of the octuple shots.
They flew. And…
Naruze watched her attack power fly toward the enemy.
The 8 flights drew separate arcs through the air as they pursued Wild Kamelie.
They were not homing shots. They were controlled shots that had their lines inputted in advance.
The 8 ether lines trailing behind them seemed to expand for a moment, and…
“Go at her all at once!”
As if responding to that cry, the 8 lights intersected and accelerated.
They pursued the enemy like hounds.
But Naruze did not watch them. She had something else to do within her high-speed movement.
…Adjust my broom!
Her broom was currently taking a right turn through the sky on the rear starboard end of Takao. Okutama and Oume’s sterns were visible up ahead and it would be a straight line from here.
It was not her broom’s stability that allowed her to safely move ahead on that turn.
It was her lack of speed.
She was drawing out her acceleration spell more strongly than usual, but it was being restrained by the cowling.
She of course had decent speed, but she could not catch up to Wild Kamelie in a straightaway. She needed Margot to pull her along.
So while she flew, she adjusted the aperture of the nozzle guard on the rear of the cowling. She compared a graph of the inertial forces on the broom with a graph of the acceleration necessary to escape them and she made sure there was no waste in the nozzle guard aperture.
“…This is a real pain, isn’t it?”
Generally, the guard was kept open at low speeds where she swung the broom around and closed at high speeds.
After all, fixing the nozzle guard open would expose it to air resistance.
Conversely, closing the nozzle guard would cause the acceleration spell to interfere with the inside of the guard while swinging the broom around in a turn.
But she did not have time to handle it manually. So she incorporated patterns into the spell data needed to automate it and she adjusted that.
…I’m in battle right now.
For now, she only had to create three patterns: low speed, high speed, and emergency evasive action begun from high speed. She also needed patterns to connect those three together. There were a lot of those in-between patterns and her speed would rise if she adjusted everything to make the best use of the broom’s power.
Naruze left those in-between patterns to the automatic processing and flew forward.
Margot would be doing the same thing behind her.
“Ga-chan! I’m moving out ahead!”
Ahead, the 8 lights were just about to reach Wild Kamelie.
Whether those would hit or not, this was their chance to safely swap positions.
So Naruze slid to the right to open the way.
Gold wings and a black cowling swooped into the position she had just vacated.
The movement was different from before.
It was more stable than when Naruze had passed her before.
…Way to go.
Her partner would not act unless she had decided it was okay.
She had to have been even more confident than before that it was okay for her to take the lead.
So Naruze gave her the lead and opened a Magie Figur to settle on her high-speed settings.
She heard Margot’s voice.
Naito opened three firing Magie Figurs and prepared to fire.
She targeted Wild Kamelie who Naruze’s controlled shots were pursuing.
Out ahead, Wild Kamelie was leaving the rear of Okutama on the Oume side.
Naito knew she needed to aim for the air a bit to Wild Kamelie’s right.
Wild Kamelie’s course would take her to the rear port corner of the stealth barrier, so she would eventually have to turn to the right.
So Naito would aim to the right.
Naruze must have predicted that because her controlled shots mostly attacked Wild Kamelie from the left.
Naito only had to fire three shots along Wild Kamelie’s course as she went right.
That was exactly how Wild Kamelie’s back moved.
It was a wingless back. Naito belatedly realized the woman was wearing a Technohexen outfit.
It was a black outfit, but it was not a Schwarz Hexen one.
It was the outfit of the old Technohexen who had worn black to hide their identity. It used unique M.H.R.R. hard points and it bore the Edel Brocken emblem.
That back had just swung to the right. She began the banking necessary for her right cornering.
…This will work!
That was what Naito thought while out ahead. But a moment later…
She saw Wild Kamelie fly out to the right of her schale besen.
Naruze looked forward when she heard Margot’s warning.
She saw Wild Kamelie’s body fly down to the right from her schale besen.
But she was not falling.
She held the broom under her right arm and only after swinging around to face them.
She now aimed the schale besen’s nozzle in a gunner’s style.
…It can’t be…
Naruze saw her bullets reach Wild Kamelie.
But she was unable to see the instant in which they actually hit.
That was because she heard a voice from the sky ahead of her.
It was a low voice. The familiar reverberation belonged to Wild Kamelie. And…
An explosion erupted in front of her.
Ether light burst from the nozzle of the enemy’s broom.
“That’s a firing spell that converts the broom’s acceleration power…!”
The extra push of the broom’s acceleration power made this more efficient and powerful than activating a new acceleration spell and firing with that.
Naruze was of course familiar with this usage. Technohexen broom techniques had centuries of history behind them. She could not do it herself because she used a feather broom, but Margot had trained in firing like that.
So she understood this used the same principle as the attack fired on them on the surface earlier. However…
“You aren’t supposed to do that in the air…!”
The recoil was incredible. When Margot had trained in it, Naruze had supported her from behind and been blown away.
It was not a technique for use during high-speed mobility.
But Wild Kamelie had done it.
The blast deflected the force of Naruze’s bullets.
The explosion of light spread out over a dozen meters and roared into the sky.
Only two things remained: Wild Kamelie who had entered a backwards somersault with the recoil, and…
Something was flying toward them.
It was a counterattack against Margot who had moved forward.
…A roll of coins!?
It was likely a 500-yen roll of 10-yen coins.
It flew in a straight line toward Margot’s chest.
Naito’s initial reaction to what had happened was awe.
Wild Kamelie’s attack here had been a firing technique known among Technohexen as a “special attack”. It was the greatest attack method for those who could use proper brooms.
Margot had of course trained in it, but…
…I never thought you could use it during high-speed mobility…!
But it made sense.
Aerial battles were decided by taking up a position where your opponent’s attacks could not reach you. In most cases, that meant placing yourself behind them, but…
“If she can attack from the rear nozzle, then behind her isn’t a blind spot…!”
But this was no time to be feeling awed.
The coin roll bullet was clearly going to hit her.
And if it hit her in the chest…
…This counterattack will break my sternum…
Actually, I think it might be worse than that. I might be in trouble. However…
A voice from the left got her moving.
Naruze’s hand had grabbed onto the back right of Naito’s schale besen. And…
She forcibly pulled it down and to the right.
Naito relaxed her body instead of fighting it.
Naito followed Naruze’s pull by flipping her schale besen to the right and down.
She rolled out of the way.
Naruze saw her partner rolling overhead.
She had pulled with her left arm to provide the initial movement. Margot had used that force to roll herself and her broom with her.
She first rotated her broom clockwise with herself as the axis. And before her broom had finished its rotation, she rotated herself as if pulled by the broom.
Instead of a simple barrel roll, she made a sideways rolling slide along a curved path.
After rapidly repeating the process about three times, she fell down below Naruze on the right.
That position would seal off the right hand Naruze used for drawing. She would have preferred to avoid that, but…
…This is no time to be picky!
The coin roll bullet that should have hit Margot had shot by on the left. However…
…It was covered in ether light!
The presence of light implied a spell.
Naruze moved before she could determine what would happen.
She flew down and to the right.
She was putting distance between herself and the area on the left through which the coin roll bullet had flown.
Of course, she was flying at high speed, so she could not move her body to the right so easily.
But she managed it.
She knew what came next. This time, Margot grabbed Naruze’s schale besen with her left hand.
…And she rotates it!
Margot had not rid herself of the momentum from her earlier roll.
She was rolling further down as if falling in a spin, so she grabbed at Naruze’s schale besen and spun it in the same way.
As soon as Naruze spun down, she heard a series of solid sounds behind her.
The coin roll bullet had burst after passing her by.
Naruze saw the group of light-enveloped coins when she looked back during her spin.
This was one of the best and most annoying of Weiss Techno guiding spells. If that had been placed on the roll of coins…
“She had this prepared…!”
50 bullets pursued Naruze. They drew wide arcs but then gathered back together on her location.
After spinning herself around and confirming the location of the enemy bullets, Naruze gave voice to the decision she had made.
“Margot! …Let’s dodge these!”
The black and gold evasive action was visible from various areas across Musashi.
Tenzou opened the door of Tama’s Blue Thunder, rushed out, and jumped onto the building’s roof.
Dangerous. That was the only way to describe the two moving lights with many lights pursuing them.
Several homing bullets flew along hound-like trajectories from the back of Okutama to the back of Oume. Tenzou knew who the two targets were.
His voice did nothing more than confirm what he knew.
His words and his power could not reach them.
But a sign frame sent Watanabe’s voice to him.
“Everyone, monitor the situation and remain where you are! If you believe damage is imminent in your assigned region, rapidly press the H-button which stands for ‘hit’! That will inform the bridge!”
“Watanabe-sama, I’ve always wondered. Why do we call it the ‘H-button’ instead of the ‘H-key’?”
There’s no arguing with it then.
But as he placed his finger on the sign frame’s H-button, Tenzou saw something in the night sky. Naito and Naruze forcibly took an evasive trajectory away from the gathering attacks.
They took a single evasive action. The enemy bullets were in pursuit, but…
“Are they going to let them pass by!?”
Naito took action while staying sharply focused.
…This has gotten annoying…!
Wild Kamelie had fired homing bullets.
This was not the first time they had been pursued by bullets like this. In their battles to climb the rankings, they had fought a few enemies with this sort of spell.
But that had usually been just one shot. At most, it had been three or four.
…50 at once!? What kind of final boss is this!?
They had to dodge.
Otherwise, they had no future.
And they knew how to avoid them.
The best method was to shake them with acceleration.
But they could not do that while in the process of fine-tuning their brooms.
They would have to force it.
The method was simple.
“Draw them in and either immediately shake them or dive down…!”
By gathering the enemy bullets together, they could be made to collide with or detonate each other.
To do that, they had to allow the bullets to arrive as close as possible and then use their acceleration to change direction.
So they flew.
The Technohexen pair split a bit to the left and right.
Naruze was worried about moving away from Margot, but…
…That will split the enemy shots in two!
Naruze also extended her main wings and support wings backwards. She relaxed her body as much as she could given the situation and let air enter her feathers.
That was to read the movements of the pursuing coin bullets as much as possible. She would detect the movements of the wind to seek out the flying bullets.
One of them altered its course as if it had bounced up from the back and it surpassed the others.
It would have been one of the later bullets, but it had changed direction fewer times, which made its movements sharper and faster.
…Can I guide it?
It would be dangerous if that bullet moved too far out front and left the group of bullets. When she made her dodge, she could end up exposing her body to the later coin bullets.
In that case, she thought while taking action.
She lowered her speed so her back would hit that one flying shot.
Naruze’s action only took an instant.
After lowering her speed, she shot downwards.
But she could not reduce her broom’s power.
If she did that, she could never escape after drawing in the bullet.
So she kept the power at full blast and used a different method to reduce just her speed.
She increased the air resistance so she and her broom slammed into the air. That was the only method she could currently think of to lower her speed but not her power.
So she did so.
She opened a Magie Figur and opened the rear nozzle guard. She opened the flaps both to the top and bottom to quickly increase air resistance. She also raised her hips to somewhat raise her body. However…
She ultimately chose to fly down.
She slammed her upper body down to force the nose down.
She pictured it like stabbing the tip of the broom downwards and she fully opened up the power.
She first felt the air washing back across the broom.
The broom had been slowed by the greater air resistance, but she was also trying to pass through a thick wall of air.
The broom pierced nose-first into the crossroads between stalling and accelerating.
At the same time, the wind hit her as well.
It was rough enough to make her gasp and it felt like she had jumped into cold water.
It was like being purified.
But the nose arrived beyond that crossroads of acceleration.
While she slammed into the wind and felt it press against her, the nose was calm.
The feeling of new speed reached her from the line of acceleration.
Naruze thought, I want this.
If she was to enjoy the seduction and flavor of this speed she felt in her hand…
It would be best to do as an Edel Brocken tester.
And at the moment, she could tell that crossroads of speed was slowly arriving within reach.
Her acceleration was passing through the air resistance.
But it was too soon.
The wings extended behind her were important.
Each of the feathers at the end was the same as her hair.
In the rough wind, her hair caught the pressure, was pulled back, and whipped behind her. And…
…There it is!
The one coin bullet arrived.
It shot forward in order to hit her, so…
The threat of that flying coin bullet was her ticket to acceleration.
So she drew it in as close as possible and allowed it to touch the end of her feathers.
She shot forward.
Mitotsudaira watched it happen while she instructed the Knight League to wait.
“It” being an explosion of light in the sky.
First of all, Naito and Naruze bounced and intersected in the air as if dancing.
Then the light pursing them drew out several lines as it curved and danced. However…
…It can’t quite reach.
The brooms hopped up as if laughing and escaping at the last second.
Those were dangerous actions. The tail end would sometimes carelessly rise up and the nose would sometimes start to enter a twisting, horizontal spin. However…
“They’re enduring it,” said Asama
The shrine maiden stood next to Mitotsudaira and worked to set up defense divine protections across the ship.
But just as the final few shots pursued them and tried to reject them, the old Technohexen in the lead took action. She hopped back on her broom and accelerated forward.
She also fired 8 bullets ahead of her.
However, they soon curved around backwards.
But those 8 movements were not just curving lines. They clearly pursued the enemy as a counterattack that would fly straight in toward them.
“…Those are homing bullets!”
The 8 impacts assaulted the two who were trying to avoid the bullets behind them.
We’re trapped between them, thought Naito.
…And this must be the real attack…
The enemy had attacked with homing bullets from the front just as they were dodging the ones from behind.
That was well done.
Evading homing bullets required a series of short bursts of speed. It was fast and looked fancy, but you did not move very far and you did not reach your top speed.
So their opponent had fired from the opposite direction just as they made those small movements.
It was especially nasty because it came just as they had worked out their evasion pattern.
But, thought Naito.
“I’ve learned a thing or two as well…!”
It was only a few patterns, but she had put together some settings for short-range acceleration.
From there, she had to link them together for the optimal max acceleration.
So she moved.
She flew down. She pointed the nose almost straight down as if taking a vertical descent, but…
“Here I go!”
She flew toward Musashi’s city from directly overhead.
Kimi and the others watched the battlefield as they hurried to the Blue Thunder.
They saw it in the sky above Oume.
The towing belt loop carried transport containers through there. The white light of bursting homing bullets appeared in the sky above Oume’s starboard stern.
“Huh…! Look at Naito-san and Naruze-san!”
Adele was pointing her hands in different directions.
One to the sky and another to the surface.
The two acceleration lights had parted vertically.
The Weiss Hexen and Schwarz Hexen were hard to tell apart in the dark night, but…
“Given their speed, I expect Naito went down and Naruze up,” said Naomasa while monitoring their power on a sign frame. She was hurrying her feet along, but she released a long breath of kiseru smoke. “Would it count as cheating if I made some adjustments?”
“Heh heh. Those brooms became their responsibility from the moment you handed them over.”
Kimi looked back from the lead and smiled with her eyebrows raised.
She looked up at the roofs of the buildings on either side.
“How about we climb up somewhere?”
“Kimi-san, this isn’t one of our teacher’s classes…”
“But we would have a better view up there, wouldn’t we?”
Meanwhile, a great noise rumbled in from Oume.
They all looked over to see glowing smoke rising from near the derrick mast at Oume’s port stern. And…
Kimi said that while stepping on a nearby firefighting water bucket and jumping from it.
She kicked off the eaves to land on the roof. She then held both hands toward Oume.
She pulled her arms together as if embracing the distant scene.
Just then, a second roar came from the Oume’s rear city.
But this rumble was different from the first noise.
It was an explosion of air.
Next, they heard a shaking.
It was the sound of wind produced by something flying at high speed. It flew in a straight line from Oume to where they were.
And it did so by flying through the city on Oume’s surface.
Kimi crossed her embracing arms below her breasts.
“Even in the surface cities, the central roads are only 2.4 meters. So be careful.”
Naito flew through Oume’s city at extremely low speed and realized the enemy was attacking again.
In addition to the 8 shots she had fired before, Wild Kamelie was firing more homing bullets.
And she did so while flying alongside Naito from a bit further back in the sky on the port side of Oume.
The homing bullets flew in an arc to attack Naito from behind at a diagonal angle.
Naito could not ascend.
If she did, the bullets fired down at her would be fired horizontally, giving them more speed. However…
…What a pain…!
Among the homing bullets were a few controlled bullets with a simple course change inputted in them.
They flew in from behind to prevent her from lowering her speed.
So she increased her broom’s power.
The wide blocks were 108 meters long and there was a guard station gate at each end.
She could fly over those by shifting the nose of her broom up just a bit, but…
…Being on her level is dangerous!!
She immediately lowered the nose again.
She just about crashed into the next wide block’s ground, so she frantically raised the nose.
…But I was moving just fine in the sky before…!
She thought she had pulled off the evasive maneuvers pretty well, but this was what happened when she had to move in units of just a few meters.
She was flying just off the ground. She was so close that the hands on either side of the broom’s cowling could feel the wind produced by the ground’s lift.
She could not extend her legs below the broom anymore. So…
She gave a flap of her wings. She jumped in the air while the broom seemingly slid across the ground and she used her arms to forcibly lift the broom with her.
It was heavy. That was the weight she was trying to send forward.
She had decent speed. She was currently moving at 240 km/h. That was about 67 m/s.
If she did not have to fly over the wide block gates, she could have cleared each one in about a second and a half.
The homing bullets changed their trajectory behind her.
…She can manually control them too!?
They had been fired diagonally after her, but now they pursued her from directly behind.
Wild Kamelie had altered their trajectory and then reapplied the homing.
…That’s completely insane…!
It’s cheating, thought Naito. But Ga-chan and I have both our spells, so I guess we’re cheating too.
So there was no helping it.
Naito responded by speeding up. She was making adjustments to her acceleration spell. While practically bouncing around at high speed, she was beginning to figure out the optimal power output for accelerating to top speed. So…
She used the broom’s full power.
She picked up speed and pulled away from the homing bullets on her way from Oume’s starboard city to the bow.
…This should work!
Her adjustments had given her stability. Also…
“Maybe I can pull it off now…!”
She took a glance back at the enemy bullets pursuing her from behind.
And just then…
She sensed a shadow.
It was night. And the Musashi was contained within its stealth barrier, so there would be no cloud shadows. The only other options were the derrick mast or…
“…The towing belt loop!?”
Naito did not look overhead.
She could tell what was falling without looking.
She was about to enter the transport district long block and there was something that could fall from above there.
It was Wild Kamelie.
She had fired on the towing belt loop to blast down a large wooden container so it would fall along Naito’s path of acceleration. This container in particular was 20m across.
If Naito slowed, the homing bullets would hit her.
But if she sped up, the container would crush her like a hammer.
And if she tried to escape to the left or right…
…There are buildings…!
She was not in any position to rapidly change trajectory.
And Naito realized something else.
Wild Kamelie was not targeting her.
The change in the homing bullets’ trajectory had been to drive Naito into the area below the falling container. But that meant something important.
…She didn’t have to be in firing position to change their trajectory like that…!
She had used that trajectory control instead of actually pursuing Naito.
Then where was Wild Kamelie?
…At a location and altitude from which she can fire on the towing belt loop’s containers.
Naito shouted what that meant.
“Wild Kamelie is there, Ga-chan!”
As soon as she did, she flew into the transport district long block.
The shadow of the container plummeted from overhead.
Naruze saw a rectangular object sticking up from Oume’s starboard bow.
The silhouette was clearly larger than the buildings around it and it was shaking.
She shouted just as countless lights shook violently. The homing bullets had slammed into the large wooden container.
She swallowed the “it”.
She had yet to confirm what exactly had happened. And at the moment…
She dodged a homing bullet right at the ceiling of the stealth barrier.
She flew upside down and grazed along the cylindrical wall that resembled white fog.
Still flying upside down, she tricked the bullets into detonating and dodged them.
But the many explosions behind her were no guarantee of her safety.
…They’re what allow me to reach Margot!
With that thought, her broom danced to avoid any further attacks from behind. However…
Naruze was unexpectedly aided by an enemy mistake.
All of the bullets pursuing her burst into light and disappeared.
The spells had been canceled.
A Magie Figur blossomed and shattered into light for each of the enemy bullets.
Naruze seemed pushed onward by those vanishing flowers.
And just as she wondered what this meant…
That did not come from the front. It came from ahead to the right, but down below. And since Naruze was flying upside down, that put it overhead.
Naruze’s reflexive combat instincts led her to take evasive action for homing bullets.
That saved her life.
To her, it was up and to the left, but she dropped upside-down toward the Musashi. At that same moment, something approached the base of her throat.
…A homing bullet!
Frighteningly, it was one given almost no speed.
This was different from before. It was a low speed shot that erased even the sound of the wind as it flew.
But she had dodged it.
Her burst of speed had removed her from the threat.
She had evaded, so now it was time to attack. She raised her right arm.
“Didn’t I tell you I was over here?”
Just as she heard that voice, Naruze saw the enemy.
…Down and to the right!
While flying upside down, that was overhead. Wild Kamelie herself flew in with her broom.
It was not from straight ahead, but for Naruze to immediately dodge it…
She could have managed another bullet or ranged attacks from two sides, but this close-range counterattack was different.
The immediate operation of the broom revealed the inadequacy of its fine-tuning.
The acceleration spell went off early in the feather broom’s brush.
The force was enough to throw Naruze from the broom. She could have just clung tightly to it, but she had lifted her upper body to view Wild Kamelie overhead and she had been holding the pen in her right hand to counterattack.
Wind rushed between her body and her schale besen and her right hand flailed.
Then an impact hit her.
It was not a bullet.
It was not a cannon blast.
It was Wild Kamelie herself as she rapidly soared in.
“Okay. Lose your broom and you’re out of the fight.”
A horizontal lariat hit Naruze diagonally up from her right side.
Wild Kamelie saw the Weiss Hexen knocked through the air.
…That was a solid hit.
Her assessment was accurate.
Having lost its owner, the white broom flew aimlessly away thanks to the malfunctioned acceleration spell.
But the Technohexen and the broom would not find each other again. The Weiss Hexen had passed out and was falling. So Wild Kamelie decided she had ended the battle.
The white feather broom shot past her tilted head from back to front.
It had supposedly flown off in a random direction just now. And since its rider had been knocked off, it was now empty.
So if it had returned and aimed for her from behind…
“Did you draw out a guide line at the very end?”
The Weiss Hexen had been holding a pen in her right hand when she was hit.
She must have drawn out a guide line with that pen.
A line that had it turn around, return to its owner, and nearly hit Wild Kamelie on the way.
…She has decent instincts.
“But it was not enough.”
Wild Kamelie fired a bullet after the white broom.
It was an accurate shot, so it hit the feather broom, destroyed the back end, and blasted it toward the ceiling.
Then she looked to the falling Weiss Hexen.
The hit to her right side had been effective because the girl really was unconscious.
A blow to the side from below would hit the diaphragm and stop the breathing. It would normally just knock the breath out of you, but during the tension of combat, the lungs would be unable to send oxygen to the brain and you would blackout.
So Wild Kamelie prepared her broom.
While in midair, she held the broom below her right arm and aimed the nose toward the falling Weiss Hexen.
And just as she was going to fire…
Wind blew in from behind her. It came from down and to the left.
…There she is!
Her opponent attacked from the air behind her and Wild Kamelie spoke to her without even looking back.
“I predicted this.”
And she fired. She used the broom’s acceleration to fire from the thruster on the back.
It was directed toward Naito.
Tenzou watched the acceleration light he assumed was Naito and saw it get hit by a counterattack.
His companions on Oume were tapping the H-button.
And in the sky…
…Has she won!?
Naito and Naruze were ranked second in the delivery business and they were up against the person ranked first.
They were currently fighting a primarily defensive battle. Asama had informed him that was because they were making adjustments to their schale besens.
But more than that…
…How much are their attempts getting through?
Naito’s attack just now had essentially been a surprise attack.
If not even that worked…
“What are they supposed to do?”
This commotion would not end until one side or the other was defeated.
So far, there had been damage to public property, but no people had been harmed. People were sending in protests about the noise, but that was because the Musashi and the Asama Shrine had been protecting the city.
This would determine the ranking in Musashi’s delivery business.
That was a ritual that would determine the distribution and standing of the personnel that transported goods throughout Musashi. Many interests were at stake here. That was why a lot was allowed. However…
…If this continues for too long, the Chancellor’s Officers will be forced to act!
Below, the automaton named P-01s had stepped out to view the commotion.
Is she going to make a complaint? wondered Tenzou as he looked down and she did indeed hold the Blue Thunder’s portable shrine.
“Yes, is this the guards? A ninja who did not buy anything at all has jumped onto our ceiling and he keeps providing commentary and shouting things like ‘What…!?’. He is being a nuisance, so please do something about it.”
“…Tenzou-kun, at least buy something.”
“That’s right, Tenzou. Of course, we’re only here to pick up an order, so we don’t have to buy anything.”
“Y-you’re setting up your defenses in advance!” he protested. “You’re oddly used to this, aren’t you!?”
But no one responded from below.
Only a sign frame appeared. It displayed Kimi who spoke while smiling with the ends of her eyebrows lowered.
“Hey. …A flower is about to bloom.”
Just then, a white flower did indeed bloom in the night sky.
It was a group of homing bullets. A cannon blast had been fired as a counterattack against Naito when she flew in from below earlier. After being dodged, it had burst into countless homing bullets.
…And those are pursuing Naito-dono!?
If they were in pursuit, then the battle was not yet over. Even if Naruze had passed out…
“Margot Naito must still be capable of fighting,” said someone who stepped out of the Blue Thunder.
It was a four-winged woman who wore an old-style Tres Españan uniform.
“…Who are you?”
“Delivery Union Rank 3, Marine.”
She spoke quietly and held a paper bag labeled “Newly Released Product: Silver”.
“The real question is how those two will endure Wild Kamelie’s attacks.”
Wild Kamelie realized the enemy below had dodged her attack.
The enemy Schwarz Hexen had used her wings.
She must have been on the lookout for an attack. So…
“Did you use your wings to fly from your broom and dodge it?”
The broom was below and the Schwarz Hexen was even higher than Wild Kamelie.
She dodged the blast fired below her, but just like before, it turned into a barrage of homing bullets.
To pursue the ascending enemy, the homing bullets rose into the sky ahead of Wild Kamelie, but it would not end with that.
The “enemy” was more than just the Schwarz Hexen flying overhead. There was also the Weiss Hexen falling below.
But neither of them had any means of dodging.
They had both let go of their schale besen and were unarmed in the air.
Even so, Wild Kamelie did not hold back.
“I guess I’ll go for one more.”
She fired again to create an uninterrupted wall of barrages instead of allowing a time delay between them.
On the fourth consecutive shot, she found all other light had vanished from her surroundings.
It was a flower of homing bullets. And that light overwhelmed Musashi’s night.
Wild Kamelie threw herself out the back of the blossoming flower to leave the light and enter the darkness once more.
The old Technohexen sent a flower of impacts to the new Technohexen. And…
“You have a way of enduring this, don’t you?”
With that question, Wild Kamelie indeed saw the enemy moving beyond the bright light.
First, it was just the Schwarz Hexen, but…
“Weiss and Schwarz. …That distinction didn’t used to exist. You need to remember that.”
Naito’s decision was more or less a gamble.
She did not think it had been a mistake to abandon her broom and leap into the sky to avoid Wild Kamelie’s cannon blast. If she had just flown on in, that counterattack would have hit her.
…And if I had tried to fly around it, Ga-chan probably would’ve been shot.
But losing her broom hurt a lot.
After all, she could sense the light of the many bullets behind her.
How many was that? She could hardly believe it.
But there was a way to dodge them. It was a gamble, but…
She reached her right hand out into what appeared to be empty air. And…
Something arrived there: Naruze’s feather broom.
…I knew it would turn around and come back if Ga-chan had given it a guide line!
That was exactly what had happened.
It was actually lucky that Wild Kamelie’s attack had destroyed the rear part. That had weakened the acceleration, which slowed it enough for her to grab it.
When she pulled the white broom in, it was in gliding standby mode.
She and Naruze shared most of their settings through their hard point parts. So…
<Rider: Approved: Confirmed>
This would work.
When she pulled it close and straddled it, she felt Naruze’s residual body heat on the seat.
The cowling had taken some damage, but she was here now because she had concluded she could do this.
So she raised her voice.
Something had to have reached Naruze as she fell down below: the Schwarz Hexen schale besen she had thrown down that way when abandoning it.
Its straight-line shape had lost its cowling in some areas, but…
…It reached her!!
The black broom had arrived under falling Naruze’s arm so that it was positioned between her wings and side.
The problem was Naruze.
She was still unconscious and falling.
Her falling speed was increasing and her black wings were beginning to flap in the wind.
The black broom under her arm could not keep up with that fall. The tail end was floating up and it began to peel away from Naruze.
Naito ignored the wall of glowing bullets approaching behind her and pointed the feather broom down.
The air resistance when pointing it up or down was surprisingly strong. That made sense given its flat design, but…
…Make it in time!
It isn’t possible, screamed a part of her mind. The distance between you is too great.
The wall of bullets would hit her before she arrived. She knew that, but…
Naito breathed in and chose a vertical descent.
She used the white broom’s full power to fly toward Naruze.
“Ga-chan! …Wake up!”
She thought while racing through the sky faster than freefall.
She thought about how to wake Naruze up.
…This is awful.
It was Ga-chan who invited me to this battlefield.
And here I am getting the most worked up over it.
But that may have been the normal way of things. It was not the battlefield that had her so worked up.
It was her desire to continue spending time with Naruze in the best possible way.
So she raised her voice and left the bullets to her left as they shined on both her and Naruze.
Wild Kamelie raised her eyebrows at what she heard.
…That’s the oldest trick in the book.
She silently criticized the attempt, but she still did not let her guard down.
Looking back, this enemy had never done anything for no reason.
Even while making adjustments to their schale besens, they had chosen precise evasion methods and endured all of her attacks.
This was the same.
After evading her cannon blast, they had tried to regroup.
“In that case…”
What would they do? Wild Kamelie spoke while keeping her distance.
“We are Technohexen. We are the users of magic.”
“You can do it, can’t you? You can make this the morning instead of the night.”
Wild Kamelie looked back as she spoke.
When she did, the morning arrived.
It arrived as a noise. The tone was distant but it rang with an undeniable depth and breadth.
This was not the alarms ringing within Musashi and in the surface city. Nor was it the dogs howling in response.
It was Musashi Ariadust Academy’s bell ringing to inform them of the time. And…
“That was a long ring. Just like the morning bell…!”
Atop Musashino’s bridge, an automaton slowly opened her mouth.
She just barely opened her eyes and looked aft to view Oume’s sky as she made a calm announcement.
“City residents. …Quasi-Bahamut-class Aerial City Ship Musashi is using Musashi Ariadust Academy’s bell to announce the time is 8:30. Over.”
“Huh? ‘Musashi’-san?” A divine transmission from Sakai arrived as the bell rang. “Don’t you usually say ‘8:30 at night’?”
“Judge. But the Technohexen seem quite lively today.” “Musashi” turned around and walked toward the stairs leading down inside the bridge. “I have determined that night is morning for Technohexen. Over.”
Naruze woke up.
She heard the bell.
She heard the bell.
It had to be morning.
But should she be hearing that bell?
…That’s right. If I’m hearing the bell, I must be late.
And yet she heard the bell. And…
She heard the bell. She also saw what seemed to be the morning sun. And she heard Margot.
“Wake up! Ga-chan!”
She heard the bell: kin kon kan kon. It was the academy’s bell. But at the moment…
She heard the bell on the battlefield.
Naruze woke up. She held a black broom that that was threatening to slip up and away.
She heard it, her vision was filled with light, and her precious partner was descending from the sky.
She heard the bell. So she spoke.
“Sorry, Margot. I fell asleep again.”
She heard the bell while she brought acceleration back to the broom she held.
“I’m fine now. So let’s get going…to the battlefield we sought.”
Masazumi saw the explosion in the sky as she rushed to the Blue Thunder with the others.
Flowers blossomed in the port sky while the Aoi Sister took a back step up onto the roof.
The large attack blossoms shattered from the center and exploded.
“What is that…?”
“Naito and Naruze keep forcibly dodging.” Naomasa sounded exasperated. “But I’m monitoring their brooms and both of them are pretty badly damaged, so how are they pulling that off?”
That was not something Masazumi could answer.
She was just a student. And one who hoped to become a politician. However…
…I can at least root for them, right?
“Someone.” She looked across the group that was gathered here. “I can’t really use divine transmissions, so can someone pass a message on to them? …Tell them to do their best.”
Wild Kamelie saw a certain fact.
She saw the enemy dodging her barrage in its entirety.
But their cowlings were broken in a few places.
The Weiss Hexen’s broom had been pierced through the tail end, so it should not have had much acceleration.
The Schwarz Hexen’s broom appeared to have damage to the nose, so it should not have had much stability.
It should have been impossible for them to dodge this many homing bullets like that.
Yet the two of them were scattering countless flowers of destruction. And they were approaching Wild Kamelie.
They were using their evasive actions to gradually close the gap between them. How had they done that?
“Did they combine their brooms…!?”
Naruze smiled when she saw Masazumi’s message relayed by Asama.
…Now this is nice!
A classmate was cheering them on. And this was support from someone she had thoughtlessly asked too many questions of the other day.
She hid her grateful and amused thoughts in her heart and she shifted the position of the white broom.
It was currently positioned on the bottom side of the black broom. The white and black brooms were pressed together, bottom to bottom.
The two were one.
Her broom had its nose sticking out a bit further.
…Because I need to provide the stability.
They had redone the settings so the two brooms were used as one.
Margot handled the acceleration and power control. Naruze handled the direction control and attack prep.
This was only possible because they used shared settings. And…
“Here we go, Margot. Everyone is cheering us on, so let’s show them some speed.”
She raised the pen in her right hand and drew a guide line out in front of the nose.
“We’ll catch up to her in no time!”
A bell rang through Musashi’s night sky.
Light blossomed high in the sky as if to join that noise.
And it had spread beyond just the sky over Oume.
It flew forward from Oume to reach Murayama and Asakusa. Then it turned sharply starboard to pass in front of Musashino and to Shinagawa. From there, it completed the circuit of Musashi’s sky by flying to Tama and Takao.
Homing bullet flowers bloomed along that path, but they were soon passed by and shattered.
The blossoms sounded like gunfire and the scattering sounded like the roar of acceleration.
The bullets sometimes flew in a straight line and the pursuing acceleration had to fly high or low. But those were evasive actions and the two Technohexen would immediately return to their original course.
“Hold on…” said one of the men ringing the fire bell as he viewed the scene from Okutama. “They can’t see us…”
Marine got up on the Blue Thunder’s roof to view the battle.
She realized one thing about this.
She had once tried to surpass that woman as an enemy.
That attempt had been stopped by Zwei Fräulein who had also defeated Almirante, but…
“You wouldn’t have accepted a challenge from me, would you have?”
“This power you’re showing here…is something you’ve never shown anyone before.”
She knew why.
They were Technohexen.
The old Technohexen could use any kind of power and the new Technohexen could only use the Weiss or Schwarz power.
Looking just at strength, the former would definitely be stronger.
In fact, the split between Weiss and Schwarz had been an excuse to allow Technohexen to continue existing. They had split their power in two so that the general public would accept them.
It was perfectly possible to say they had taken the easy road.
But, thought Marine.
…What if someone overturned that?
Edel Brocken’s new prototype for the year was “for two”.
No one knew what that Technohexen brand’s ultimate goal was.
But even the center of the Technohexen world was seeking a change to match the current age.
Wild Kamelie was their tester, but she was an old Technohexen.
“Is that why?”
This battle was a new starting line for her.
If she won, she would abandon the old ways. She would remain as Edel Brocken’s tester and move forward with a new partner.
But if she lost, she would abandon the new ways. She would lose the tester position and withdraw from the forefront so nothing got in the way of being an old Technohexen.
That was why she was going all out. And…
She was showing these new Technohexen what a Technohexen was supposed to look like.
She did so in how she fought, how she flew, and how she did everything else.
That generation had known nothing when they arrived at Musashi and they had chosen the path of a new Technohexen without any trouble. Those girls were now being shown the true form of a Technohexen.
That continued even now.
“Is she going for it?”
Wild Kamelie suddenly took a firing stance in midair.
She jumped off of her schale besen and fired a shot while turning around.
But by this point, Zwei Fräulein was keeping up with her. When the homing bullets circled around to hit them from behind, the two girls used a single feint to get them all to detonate each other.
If they followed the same pattern as the last few times, Zwei Fräulein would then fly forward to get even closer to Wild Kamelie.
That was exactly what happened.
But then something changed.
Before, Wild Kamelie had hopped back on her broom and flown to keep some distance.
…But not this time!
Wild Kamelie used the recoil of firing to give her entire broom a vertical half rotation.
The nose had been pointed forward, but now it was aimed at Zwei Fräulein.
“That was well done…!”
With forceful acceleration, Wild Kamelie passed right by Zwei Fräulein’s side.
Zwei Fräulein could not make an immediate turn in time. For one thing, they were using two brooms as one. They were just barely managing to force that to work, so a 180 turn was out of the question.
But the enemy had done it.
She circled behind Zwei Fräulein and from close range…
Just as Marine muttered that word to herself, she saw light fired from a few dozen meters directly behind Zwei Fräulein. In aerial combat, that qualified as close range.
Wild Kamelie had used a single blast instead of homing bullets.
It was a straight-line scattershot using the contents of a coin roll.
This was a tactic and bullet type she had not used until now. So…
“Is that your clincher…!?”
…This will end it!
Wild Kamelie fired.
This was her best attack.
She got the enemy accustomed to the homing movements and then used a scattershot.
Straight-line bullets were faster than homing ones. Scattershot even more so.
They could not react to or dodge this.
Those new Technohexen of Weiss and Schwarz would likely become their main fighting force eventually, but not yet.
“Musashi’s skies still belong to the old.”
“The Apocalypse and mysterious phenomena are still problems, but if anything happens to the Musashi, it is we who will protect it.”
The Technohexen had nowhere else to go, so in an emergency, they could battle other nations.
It did not matter that they were not students.
Because the other nations refused to recognize that Technohexen even existed.
They were delinquents.
So they were a fighting force that could choose to leave Musashi’s control.
…Doing the dirty work to protect the new generation might be nice.
She had only started to think that during this battle.
If she won, she would continue to work as Edel Brocken’s tester.
She would invite other old Technohexen and show the other nations that Musashi still had some people who could cause them trouble.
That was why she dropped a certain word from her mouth.
She was not speaking to the shot she had fired. She was speaking to herself for giving herself this shot at victory.
But then she realized something.
There was nothing at all in the airspace ahead of the bursting scattershot.
The black and gold forms of the two new Technohexen had disappeared.
Wild Kamelie was surprised.
…How did that happen?
Her very first thought was one of doubt.
But then she accepted the truth before her eyes.
The enemy had dodged her attack. And…
…They moved so quickly my senses couldn’t keep up…!
The rest was simple.
She heard a sound: a bell. The bell was approaching the end of its ringing, but it masked the sounds of an approach. An approach from…
Wild Kamelie swung up her schale besen and fired.
There was a white explosion in Musashi’s sky.
A white schale besen had fallen straight down toward Wild Kamelie and been hit by the coin roll bullet fired from directly below.
Wild Kamelie had fired the coin roll right into the nose of the schale besen accelerating straight down at her, but she did not watch its destruction through to the end.
…It was empty!
No one had been riding that white schale besen.
So it had been a decoy. The enemy was really…
She understood the tactic.
The enemy had rapidly flown over her.
It was the black broom that could accelerate so much. The white one had only been extra weight at this point, so they had abandoned it. And they had done so as an attack straight down at her.
After circling behind her, the black broom’s nose was charging toward her.
There were two people riding it: the black and gold pair. They sat alongside each other and embraced each other with the white one’s hand extended forward.
The front of the black schale besen was damaged. The white was correcting the instability with a guide line.
But that was not enough to explain their high-speed evasion.
How had they seemingly disappeared like that?
“Is that it…!?”
Wild Kamelie saw something as she looked back.
She saw the enemy flying at her without hesitation. She saw the acceleration spells used by the black Technohexen.
Before, she had used one in front and two in the back.
That had changed.
There were two in front and three in the back, for a total of five. That was more than Wild Kamelie’s four.
That would have given them plenty of speed even with two of them onboard.
The Schwarz Hexen had survived earlier when the container dropped on her from the sky. Wild Kamelie had thought she had messed up the timing on dropping it or the girl had fired a shot to escape, but that was not the case.
The enemy had forced her way through with her acceleration spells.
But a total of five acceleration spells was really pushing it. Wild Kamelie was an Edel Brocken tester and even she could only control four.
“Are you using that ridiculous number of acceleration spells so you can use Edel Brocken’s next prototype!?”
The enemy did not respond. They simply charged straight toward her.
She reacted by using her entire body to forcibly turn her broom around and aim the firing portion at the enemy.
She could do it. She would make it in time. She could fire a counterattack.
So she raised her voice.
Naruze saw the shot. It was flying in a straight line and aimed at their center. However…
They could not see each other’s face, but they could hear each other’s voice. They knew each other’s location, so they knew what the other would do.
When Naruze spread her left arm to the left, Margot did the same with her right arm and pulled her body in closer.
Naruze brought her left hand around Margot’s back and held her close. And together…
In that instant, Naruze gave a trajectory line to the broom.
They instantly hopped up and flew over Wild Kamelie’s head.
But they did not land behind her.
They made a vertical rotation of 270 degrees.
They were 12 meters directly below her. With the enemy visible overhead, they had one goal:
…A way of winning this!
From there, they could keep Wild Kamelie in their sights whether she moved to the front, back, left, or right. So…
Finally, the two of them hopped off of the schale besen.
They used their wings to lean back into horizontal positions.
Naruze was on the right and Margot on the left. They held the black broom from either side.
They took the position to fire a cannon blast in midair.
Needless to say, they had not planned for this. The stance and everything else were just mimicking what they had seen their enemy do.
But Margot opened the acceleration spells on the broom’s brush. That just left the cry:
Their voices rang out in unison.
Within an explosion of acceleration spells, Naruze lost sight of something: Wild Kamelie.
The enemy was no longer in front of them.
The old Technohexen had achieved a burst of speed never before seen with her four acceleration spell method.
And she did not end up to the front, back, left, or right of them.
She was behind their backs – directly below them.
Wild Kamelie felt her entire body protesting.
That movement had hurt. She normally moved around at high speed while properly riding her schale besen. But this time…
…You really shouldn’t do that while holding the broom under your arm.
She was lucky she had only needed to move down.
That had let her use the gravitational acceleration to assist her forced burst of speed.
As a result, the movement was rough and she had trouble stopping. But the cannon was aimed upwards. She could fire immediately after having the enemy circle around her.
Her entire body was shaking so much she was nearly knocked away, but she knew this opponent was dangerous enough to require this.
After all, these two could think.
Instead of responding to her actions by the book, they used adlibbed countermeasures. And not just as individuals. They thought up separate ideas and combined them.
I see, thought Wild Kamelie.
This must be the kind of new Technohexen that Edel Brocken is seeking.
Weiss and Schwarz. They followed the trend of the coming age.
She had to accept it. These two could do it.
But she had a chance to win this.
The enemy’s five acceleration spell method was not synced up with their attacks.
So they could not reaccelerate immediately after using it and then firing.
That meant they could not move after firing.
Wild Kamelie was different. She only used four spells, but they were synced with her attacks and she could accelerate instantly.
So she had taken the ideal position immediately after they had fired.
She was behind them and they were still unable to move.
If she fired, she would win.
A scattershot would be best for defeating them both at once. They might be badly injured at such close range, but…
“I will not apologize.”
She heard a voice.
“We would appreciate that.”
Just as she wondered what they were talking about, Wild Kamelie was hit by a close-range attack.
They had not fired their cannon.
The two enemies still had their back turned as they faced upwards, but they had launched an attack.
“Of course we couldn’t mimic that midair cannon so soon after seeing it.”
“We knew you would circle behind us, so we pretended to fire and launched the schale besen instead. …Launched it at you.”
Wild Kamelie smiled when she was hit.
The white schale besen had been destroyed.
So she had assumed they would never abandon the black one.
They had convinced her they would go for the symbolism of defeating her with the midair cannon she had used on them.
But their final attack was different.
“The midair cannon was a feint so you could crash the schale besen into me…!?”
Yes, thought Wild Kamelie.
Those two don’t have to hold onto their brooms.
Because they had those black and gold wings.
They were Technohexen who could fly without brooms.
I can’t keep on like this.
I’m not old-fashioned. I’m just hardheaded.
And she could not fire her own cannon in time.
The five spell schale besen would reach her on its straight line path. Light filled the wooden handle visible through the broken front end.
And just as she saw that guide line drawn by the Weiss Hexen…
Wild Kamelie was hit.
The direct hit sent her flying.
…So it’s over.
Tenzou watched the battle’s conclusion from the Blue Thunder’s roof.
The two winged girls pursued the Technohexen who began falling after leaving her broom.
As a Musashi resident, she would have divine protections and charms to reduce her falling speed, so Naito and Naruze were only catching her as a sign of concern and respect for their opponent.
“…Does this mean the ranking has changed?”
“That isn’t all,” said a female voice next to him.
The smiling voice came from Marine whose four wings were spread wide. She was facing the Technohexen.
“Musashi’s skies have new protectors now.”
With that, she took flight.
Tenzou realized the bell had stopped ringing.
The battle was over.
In the end, it took Naito and Naruze an hour to regroup in front of the Blue Thunder after collecting their brooms.
Asama smoothed things over with the guards and Chancellor’s Officers, it was decided the damage to the city would be repaired using the delivery union’s reserve funds, and “Musashi” gave the following conclusion:
“I just hope none of the city’s residents were harmed. …To clarify, you are not responsible for any injuries caused because the resident unwisely went outside to watch the commotion. Over.”
Meanwhile, a party to celebrate the win had to be postponed due to the Blue Thunder’s damage. According to the manager:
“Sorry, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow night if you want food to go with it. I’ll have something good ready by then.”
Thus, their gathering was just to greet each other. But Kimi laughed and made another suggestion.
“Heh heh. Tomorrow we also have the Spring School Festival’s opening ceremony, so for today, how about we head to Suzu’s bath and spend the night at the Asama Shrine? Also,” she continued. “Naito, Naruze? You showed me something nice, so I will give you something nice. …You could use the tuning data for the theatre ship, right?”
That concluded it. Everyone bought what food they could at the Blue Thunder and followed Kimi’s suggested plan. Except, that is, for Naito, Naruze, and Naomasa who headed home instead since they had to inspect the collected brooms.
Masazumi also chose to head home and Musashi’s night finally quieted down.
Once morning arrived, the Spring School Festival would begin.
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