Horizon:Volume 1B Chapter 28
Chapter 28: The Usurper in Town
By the love of money
How far can one go
Point Allocation (Miser)
Under the afternoon sky, above the bridge in front of the Academy where a light wind blows.
The steam and heat mirage Jizuri Suzaku exuded indicated a single blow by its arm.
But anyone in that area could hear a certain sound.
The metallic sound of the strike being blocked. The sound of a wanton fist hitting.
At the end of the strike that landed, where the wind made by the fist died down, there was a single person.
It was Shirojiro. His figure had received the blow, still…
Just as Naomasa said from Jizuri Suzaku’s shoulder while frowning her eyebrows, he was indeed unharmed.
At the end of her suspecting glance, Shirojiro, with no apparent wounds, lightly raised both his arms above his head. At the end of those arms, held out in a cross, Suzaku’s fist was there, in contact.
One could almost see that he had stopped its fist in its tracks.
At that moment the posture of the God of War was clearly leaning forward, its hips turned. Still, as if it had hit an invisible wall, the fist stopped halfway and its arm did not extend fully.
The attack was stopped.
While someone was whispering “Impossible,” a new sound could be heard:
The sound of the God of War regaining its footing and withdrawing the fist that had hit empty space.
Then, stepping back from its human opponent, the God of War took on a posture.
Shirojiro, on the other side, raised his gaze while retaining the position of his arms that had blocked the God of War’s fist.
He looked at Naomasa standing on top of the Heavy God of War’s shoulder.
Towards Naomasa, whose eyebrows were still frowning in doubt, Shirojiro slowly opened his mouth.
A sound could be heard. It was a voice, resounding quietly with a low tone.
“Now then, not minding however high a customer is looking down at him from is what a businessman does.”
“…So what is Mr. Businessman here going to sell me?”
Shirojiro did not answer.
Instead, Naomasa continued looking at both the God of War’s stopped fist and Shirojiro’s face.
“What kind of spell was that?”
“Hmm, you could say that it is a spell. It’s really something more simple…”
Shirojiro, placing the white fox on his head, said in a straightforward manner:
“The power of money.”
“See here; if we are to see war as an economic activity, the act of going into battle will most likely boil down to money.”
With Shirojiro’s words, the white fox on his head raised its forelimbs. In response, countless sign frames appeared. Making sure of the amounts that were displayed, Shirojiro said:
“Sanct, the god I am contracted with, is a commerce god associated with Inari; but gods of commerce hold a certain power towards other gods. That is, the power to use money in the exchanges between gods.”
“Just what are you trying to say?”
“Do you not understand?”
Shirojiro gestured to the back with his chin.
Behind him, over at the Academy’s entrance, seated on the ground was a group of people.
Those people, with torii-type sign frames in front of their faces, were…
“The vice commander of the Guard Unit, as well as 150 other people. I am ‘renting’ the power of the Guard Unit.”
The vice commander spoke, and the other members nodded; all of them closed their eyes.
They were not moving. As if ceasing to breathe, they were on their knees, not showing even the littlest movement.
However, Heidi, looking at them from in front of the entrance, let out a voice in their stead. Lightly raising her eyebrows, she opened her mouth.
“We have borrowed the ‘manpower’ of the Guard Unit as a single bundle on an hourly rate basis. The members themselves have obtained the protection of their labor god, so the rest is easy. Transferring money over to Sanct’s shrine, we are able to buy the manpower of the Guard Unit from the labor god’s shrine using ours as an intermediary. Making intermediary transactions for the protection of gods outside the contract would probably go the same way.”
In front of Shirojiro the sign frames displayed currency amounts.
“Under the shrine’s assessment, we will have to pay five times the usual hourly wage of the Guard Unit to obtain their manpower. The wage itself will be 5,000 yen per hour, but because of the intermediary fee we’ll have to pay double: 10,000 yen. Borrowing the power of 150 people will cost 1,500,000 yen per hour. …Shiro-kun, use it well, alright? Because of the sudden transaction, this will come out of your pocket money after all.”
“Can we afford all that?”
“Hmm, I’ll just have the Guard Unit cut out our receipt and process it through the miscellaneous expenses of the Student Council’s budget, just to be safe.”
“Judge. Please also request for half of the payment to be from the Chancellor’s Officers budget.”
Shirojiro looked at the arms he raised and then turned to face Naomasa.
“Right now, I am able to concentrate the strength of 150 people of the Guard Unit into one point. In terms of weight, with 70 kilograms per person, about 15 tonnes, huh. It’ll be enough against your 10-tonne class Heavy God of War.”
With those words, several long, armor-type torii-shaped crests appeared on both his arms and legs.
Then, looking up to Naomasa’s face, Shirojiro said:
“Can you see how equal we are?”
Naomasa pulled both of Jizuri Suzaku’s arms back, and thrust them behind its hips.
Two long wrenches dropped into its hands. The red Heavy God of War spun them around once, then brandished them.
“So we’ll have no choice but to fight!!”
With Naomasa’s words, Jizuri Suzaku went for another strike.
The noise of heavy objects moving resounded in a room with many windows.
It was a long and wide room, like a classroom, but its size was that of two.
Located on the first floor of the building, on the side facing the left side of the ship carrying the Musashi Ariadust Academy, it was the staff room with the desks of the teachers lined up.
At that moment, reacting to the sounds of the wind, echoes of the land and the movements of machines resounding from the outside…
Wah, a voice could be heard to exclaim, along with the sounds of several footsteps.
The noise was enough to shake the building of the Academy; but the staff, positioned at their desks, seemed to pay no heed to what was going on outside. Many of them, with cups of tea to their mouths, were marking their tests.
However, on the seat near the right entrance to the room, one teacher’s body trembled at the sounds.
The glasses-wearing teacher, with her seat rotated to the side, faced the figure in a jersey next to her.
“Makiko-senpai… Shouldn’t we do something about that?”
“You think too much, Mitsuki. Besides, we’re not allowed to interfere with the students’ disputes per the academy rules, are we? You didn’t need to stand up to them back then as well. You’re not finished with the snacks Nakai-sensei gave, you know.”
Sanyou nodded while her shoulders moved with yet another shriek from the outside.
…They’re moving away, huh.
“Are they fighting in another place…?”
“Worried? About them fighting somewhere you can’t see, I mean.”
After a few thoughts, Sanyou turned her head down thinking she was really worried.
“Judge. …Makiko-senpai, are you not? Is your trust in them to that extent?”
“Hmm, I wonder how I should say this…”
Rather than a look of trouble, Oriotorai displayed an expression as if to examine the situation.
“Whatever the case, if we’re to go to all-out war with the Testament Union, things won’t just end like this, you know?”
At how easily the words “all-out war” were uttered, Sanyou felt a twinge of fear and suddenly raised her hips.
“M-Makiko-senpai, are you wishing for war!?”
“Oh my, do you think war will happen if I wish for it?”
Calmly and in the center of Sanyou’s field of vision, Oriotorai sat in her seat turned sideways. Leaning against her backrest, bringing her legs together, she focused her ears to listen for the whereabouts of the metallic sounds.
“Only a student can face off with another student. However, anyone knows that such a thing is just an idealistic thought. Battles will break and ruin the towns and farmland, and others will definitely be involved in them. Even if they take place in the forests and the seas, resources and the environment will take damage; and the economic pressure will throw people’s lives out of order. Especially for the Musashi, with both an Academy and a city; a student conflict could easily plunge this place into being a ‘helpless battlefield’. …Well, there’s always the option of turning the citizens into shields, though.”
“Makiko-senpai, is that what you teach them?”
“I did. How to use the citizens as cover, at least.”
Oriotorai said it nonchalantly. Despite losing her words at that declaration, Sanyou…
What a thing to do, she wanted to say; but she held back, tears welling up in her eyes.
She looked down. At that moment, Oriotorai grabbed the cup on her table and said.
“If the enemy chooses to use such a tactic, they’ll need to know how to deal with it, you know? If we’re trying to avoid getting the world involved all the time, the enemy’s cheap tactics will never give us the ideal situation. That’s why, in order to be able to deal with however low a method the enemy uses and take back control, we must start with knowing how to do it and obtaining the power to do so. With that thought, this is how I began… We will not use these unfair tactics, nor will they make us do so.”
I’m sorry, and then Oriotorai showed a smile with lowered eyebrows to Sanyou.
“Mitsukin’s way of teaching and mine differ quite a lot, after all. I’m sorry for saying such shocking things.”
…So it’s not like such unfair methods or any cruel things were taught positively, is it…?
How embarrassing it is for me who doubted that, even for a little. Still…
…Senpai, you were dancing so much when you were drunk back then, breaking Shinagawa’s transport elevator with your stomping…
Sanyou hung her head in her heart, but did her best not to let that show on her face.
The sounds they heard became distant echoes. Stealing a glance in the window’s direction, Sanyou spoke.
“Makiko-senpai, do you think we will go to all-out war with the Testament Union?”
“Judge. The Union, in my opinion, will eventually mobilize its forces to conquer the whole of the Far East after all.”
Oriotorai held the cup to her mouth, then let it part. Then, drawing a breath…
“As I see it, everything is possible. Whether their opponent is the Testament Union or whatever else, I taught those kids to return any unreasonable blows they receive. If I had to choose, I think I have taught them to act such that they will not be hit, as well as to find a way even when people are bashing them up.”
Sanyou was silent. Beside her, the woman in General Affairs had her head down even when she was placing her cup of tea on the desk; but her gaze was fixed in Oriotorai’s direction.
In response, Oriotorai put her cup back down onto the desk, faced Sanyou’s way and opened her mouth.
“My way of teaching is so that when circumstances demand the irrational, my students will still be able to stand up and look forward. Your way of teaching, Mitsuki, is so that when circumstances demand the unreasonable, your students will still be able to move in another direction. Still, you know? I think this way as well.”
Scratching her head, she laughed as if helpless. The words she gave away next were…
“To be frank, we shouldn’t have one without the other, right?”
“Don’t ‘eh’ me, think about it. To face chaos, one must first assert his rights, no? Receiving such a thing with a sidestep like ‘lower your head and stop fighting’ will not work. Even if your aim is to avoid conflict, their irrationality has still taken things away from you. The other party, thinking that their unreasonable methods will snatch them victory, will then continue to use them against you.”
“On the other hand, hitting and breaking things without thinking of the consequences is bad as well. It’ll all be over when things break after all.”
“The power to stand up and face them when the time comes, and the ability to find a new direction when you understand your inability to fight them… The person that does not possess these two things, unable to evade nor oppose irrationality, will merely become someone who can only placate himself with lies or someone whose only response to failure is death.”
“I wonder myself,” Oriotorai continued.
“Right now, with people talking about the Apocalypse, the world is losing its direction. For this world, there is a place where they think it’s alright to press irrationality down onto; the Far East. This is where the Logismoi Óplo come in, then. The weapons that may prevent the Apocalypse and present a new direction to the world. Therefore, to that extent, the world must have thought that it’s fine to unreasonably tire the Far East out… I wonder.”
“The princess of Ariadust’s suicide, is it? Unreasonable…”
“The foreign settlements, the provisional rule over various places, the decision of where Musashi will sail to, the election of people with weak influence for the positions of president and chancellor… Everything.”
Saying that, Oriotorai raised her voice and then turned it into a smile.
“Leave Japanese cuisine out of that. Irrationality has no effect on that after all, right? Japanese cuisine is good, right?”
“Makiko-senpai, all you eat is meat. With stuff like beer, at that.”
“With a teacup, rice and miso soup it’s Japanese, you know? That area. Safe line.”
She let her legs which she had been holding close together go, but her gaze did not leave Sanyou’s.
“Back then, at the library, you said some things to Shirojiro and the guys, didn’t you?”
“T-that is, well…”
Her face reddening, Sanyou cast her eyes down.
“Just what did I say, I thought…”
“Important things. I’ve been meaning to teach them those things as well, but things just come with the job. Having teachers with the same line of thought would have chipped away at their hearts. Also, Mitsuki, this is how I see it. There’s the politics involved in banning former students and staff who hold power higher than students from participating in disputes, but…”
As if to choose her words, with a slow tone, Oriotorai continued.
“The first and foremost duty of teachers is to act to allow their students to live on. Then, isn’t it that our not participating in student disputes is to make sure that such conflicts do not end in death and to preserve the world, I wonder.”
To Sanyou tilting her head in confusion, Oriotorai showed an affirmation.
“Judge. In this warring period, are we not the balancers that allow power and refuge to coexist, I wonder. With people like me, and people like you, either of us with a method to survive; teaching those things to allow everyone to make their own decisions. …Still, so that nothing is lost.”
That would have been nice, Oriotorai smiled bitterly.
Right then, a metallic sound shook the windows.
Beyond the window, looking at the students going down the stairs to follow the chaos, Oriotorai let out a murmur.
“I want to go there as well. They’re showing off a lot of things, you know?”
The sound of iron echoed in the streets.
It was coming from the left side of Okutama, by the town separated from a natural reserve.
Right now the noise traveled along the center of the roads, making its way to the bow of the ship at high speed.
The people did not waste any time in evacuating themselves from the streets. Over on the roofs of the nearby houses or under its outside corridors, all of their eyes were glued to the spectacle in front of them.
It was a clash of two powers.
On one side, a red feminine-type Heavy God of War. On the other, a lean figure whose uniform was clad in ether.
The red God of War swung both of its gigantic wrenches around, exhausting steam and heat; but the figure rode on its ether, blocked them and went for an attack.
The figure, Shirojiro’s movements, were that of a human. However, the ether that received its opponent’s blows and returned its own extended his actions to the limit, making them almost as huge as the God of War.
His fists, adorned in torii-type crests, continued to exchange blows with the God of War; and his legs accelerated further.
Clinging onto his shoulders, the white fox displayed dozens of torii-type sign frames from its tail; only for them to break and disappear.
From one of them, a voice rose.
“Shiro-kun! Don’t worry about the city! I’ve talked with the Engineering Club, and they’ve agreed to block any of Masa’s Jizuri Suzaku ‘labor’ towards the buildings!”
“I appreciate that. So it’s fine for me to go wild without worrying about breaking anything, huh.”
Said the girl with the mechanical arm, riding on the shoulder of the clothes Jizuri Suzaku was wearing.
While moving her, Naomasa’s fingers on her right mechanical arm linked to Suzaku as if to bring them together.
She shouted without pausing for the sounds of wind and metal from their attacks to die down, while still stepping forward.
“I want to hear your story. Why did you choose to make the Testament Union your enemy!? Even if they were to rule the Far East, a businessman such as yourself can just start your business over and return to your daily life!”
As the metallic sounds became a barrage, the heat mirages wavered in the wind and disappeared. Among them, Shirojiro chose to forcibly close the distance between them, then stepped forward, blocking the God of War’s attacks.
With a few high-speed steps, guarding against the metallic noises with his own, Shirojiro opened his mouth.
“The reason the Union is my enemy is simple. How about we talk money for a bit!?”
Ignoring his hair becoming disheveled from the wind made by the attacks, Shirojiro sprung forward and spoke.
“Whether it is under the Tsirhc, Mlasi or Buddhist religious principles, financial businesses are forbidden from drawing their revenue from interest! ‘One must not benefit without labor’ after all!
“However, the Far East is not bound under such a commandment, nor is the act itself seen as heretical. So, under the designations of the Tsirhc and Mlasi countries, the Far East has allowed Far Eastern banks to be made in the foreign settlements located in those nations. …But!”
Shirojiro gripped the right hand he used against Jizuri Suzaku’s attack. Pointing a finger with that hand in the land port’s direction…
“That is the case for Tres España and a lot of other countries, but… Each country is under the Far East’s provisional rule, and in order to allow historical recreation to progress, numerous expenses are covered by the Far East’s generated monetary circulation; becoming the debt we call ‘international loans’!
“Especially Tres España; after the Reconquista the nation had to unify itself by clinging to the Tsirhc religion, rejecting all other teachings, heresy and species to purify its doctrine. They could no longer continue the activity of monetary circulation left to themselves. …The nation known as Tres España has already declared bankruptcy for the second time, but even now their debt is piling up from securing their income from the New Continent. Under historical recreation, the time for their third bankruptcy should be near.”
“Similarly,” Shirojiro said. Like he stated earlier…
“Even for Hexagone Française and the M.H.R.R, the preparations for the Thirty Years’ War as well as their own surge in economic activity has shot their prices up through the roof! That, along with having to establish their forces and fund their political movements, have left them heavily in debt as well!”
“Just why in the world does that matter to you!?”
Driving a wrench in for a counterattack, Naomasa screamed while raising her speed.
“Spare me the business intros! Just what will happen if other countries are owing the Far East money!?”
“If the Far East comes under complete rule of another government, all of that will become void…!”
A tinge of sharpness made its way into Naomasa’s expression.
Even from the people surrounding them, voices like a commotion spilled from them as if in hesitation.
Still, Naomasa did not let her movements slow. As if concerned by the accumulation in the atmosphere, snapping the fingers of her mechanical arm loudly, she made Jizuri Suzaku dive in for an attack.
“Answer me, businessman! What will happen if all of that debt becomes void!?”
Both the people in town and those on the ships other than Okutama were observing the battle between Shirojiro and Naomasa through the ship’s broadcast. Live footage was shown on the monitors where houses and places had them, and the radios and broadcasting equipment were following every sound they made at that moment.
All of it was being recorded by the Broadcasting Committee over at the Musashi Ariadust Academy.
With video equipment on their shoulders, they were clawing through the crowds and reporting from the rooftops, doing what they could to pick up the images and sounds.
The voice that could be heard, Shirojiro’s deep voice, took the form of these words.
“What will happen when the debt becomes void? The answer is simple…!”
“The money left in the care of the Far East’s banks belongs to other countries’ investors and corporations, but the savings of consumers are also stored in the same places. Those things are what the Far East earned through honest work with other countries, as well as the tax offerings the foreign settlements’ people paid to their feudal lords. If the money stays where it is now, not where it should be, because of the voiding; what will the Far East have left!?”
People were looking at what was displayed on the monitors in their dining rooms.
In the middle of the image, ignoring the gigantic metal wrench grazing past the right side of his face, Shirojiro pressed forward.
“Other countries will recover their own money and take away that of the Far East, Japan. After that, they will return the banks to the Far East under their rule but only in form, so that they themselves can make practical use of them. The people may be absorbed into each of the nations after the takeover, but they will have no money of their own when that happens. Without any way to resist or do anything else, their future will depend on the country that they are in.”
People were listening to Shirojiro’s voice on the broadcast, in a state of enough confusion to stop their ascent to the surface through the stairs. The young businessman’s voice was accompanied by the sound of guarding, like metal piling up against metal.
“Do you understand!? People are already moving. In fear of the debts being voided through the Testament Union’s rule after last night’s destruction of Mikawa, Far Easterners have already gone to withdraw their money; but…”
“What will happen?”
“Regarding Mikawa’s destruction as ‘A Possible Act of Hostility towards The Testament Union’, the Union has already frozen the Far East’s monetary circulation to ‘Avoid any Possible Capital Investment towards Further Hostile Acts’! Right now, in all other countries and settlements, all the banks are sealed off such as to prevent money from going over to the Far East’s side.”
“However,” everyone heard Shirojiro’s words.
In the middle of the screen, he blocked an attack and swung his own fist.
“Right now, there is one place where money still moves in the Far East. That place is Musashi. As an independent territory under no direct rule of a country, Musashi preserves its own financial circulation. Then, centering around the foreign settlements, the trend is that Far Easterners are dedicating the money they have to their shrines, exchanging it for external Bless and leaving it in Musashi’s care. …Do you know what that means? Musashi is becoming the biggest fuel store and bank there is!”
“However, if we lose Horizon Ariadust and Musashi is transferred, everything ends. If that does not happen, Musashi will become a place where money and power gathers, and Mikawa’s Matsudaira will rule the Far East…!”
In the middle of the screen, Shirojiro let his fist burst forward.
In response to the gushing ether, the metal giant moved its wrenches for a blow.
The moment both parties’ attacks landed, Shirojiro’s voice reached the skies.
“Musashi can fight! So long as Musashi proves it can continue to fly and gather money, that is!”
The metallic sound caused Jizuri Suzaku to shake.
A number of figures remained on top of the bridge in front of the Academy.
From their position, a crimson figure could be seen in the town on the frontal left side of the vessel: Jizuri Suzaku’s upper body.
Towering above the rows of houses, its activity could be seen; the movements it made and the attacks it launched with both its arms. A sound could be heard with Suzaku’s every move, while the streams of steam it exhausted traveled like geysers and dispersed into the air.
The first two to watch over Naomasa and Shirojiro over in that area from the top of the bridge were Masazumi and Mitotsudaira.
Slightly behind them, Heidi and Toori were also there.
Heidi was standing, interacting with a number of sign frames, while Toori was seated on the floor.
Then, without notice, Heidi began to speak to no one in particular.
“To be frank, Shiro-kun and Masa have lost their initial motive and are just raging around, aren’t they?”
“Masa likes to party so it’s fine; but what about that Shiro? Sitting in the corner of the room, smirking and counting money all day every day must have made him into an idiot, I’m guessing.”
“Hmm, Shiro-kun will return to his true colors where money is involved so I think it’s fine.”
At least deny it! Masazumi tried to strike her down with a sidelong glance with half-closed eyes, but Heidi did not notice it.
As if to substitute, bringing out a parasol from her sleeve, Mitotsudaira opened her mouth.
“Still, I did not expect that. I knew Naomasa could ride on a God of War; but it surprises me how well-versed she is in hand-to-hand combat, to that extent.”
“Is that so?”
To Masazumi’s question, Mitotsudaira answered with a “Judge.”
However, it was Heidi that continued those words.
“But Masa came to Musashi before elementary school, you know? Considering that her homeland was a village along the southern border of Qing, it’s quite a big deal. Their enemies were always coming to raid, and even their allies were pressuring for payment, so they tried to become independent. She did say that she gathered the God of War remains in that village, no?”
“So that’s what that red thing is, huh.”
“Yes. Well, a lot of things happened and it came into Masa’s possession. The mech guys were attacking everything, whether ally or enemy, but ended up destroying the village as well.”
“Leave it at that. Isn’t it bad for you to say what Masa won’t?”
“Ah, right. Judge. I should apologize to Masa later.”
“It’s not that bad, you know? You should try saying sorry to me once in a while, instead. How about it?”
“Hmm… I’m worried that it’ll feel horrible, that it’ll feel like something else and that it’ll drive me insane.”
“Hey, do I have that frail of an image to make you crazy that quickly?”
“…Is that even frail?”
Masazumi drove another punchline, but her half-closed eyes were on Heidi.
“Are you not worried? Shirojiro is fighting against Naomasa and her God of War on his own, you know.”
“It’s fine, because I’m backing him up. Worrying about him will only show my incompetence after all. That’s why it’s fine.”
“And you know?” Heidi continued to Masazumi, her face in a smile.
“I find how super filthy he is with money rather wonderful, but he has other good parts you know?”
“Ah, that miser, he’s very dirty even with the stocks, his drafts, projections and trades, no?”
“No, Toori-kun, you must not praise him that much!”
Heidi was wriggling with hands to her cheeks; but listening to the metallic sounds of conflict in the distance, she lowered her eyebrows. Then, pulling out one of her own sign frames she said:
“They may say a lot about him, but Shiro-kun’s super dirty concerning my birthday, you know?”
A bitter smile.
“He always stops by the living room after work, turns his head at times to make sure I’m with him when we’re walking, listens to my problems, and a lot of other things. …He’s just plain super dirty to me. He’s always so eager to talk where money is involved, but he never says a word about me. Still…”
Heidi displayed something on her sign frame. It looked like a map of a part of the left ship of Musashi, the place where Shirojiro was fighting. Processing that image by writing rows of characters, Heidi said…
“I’m also super dirty towards Shiro-kun, you know?”
With a smile, she sent her input data on the sign frame.
Jizuri Suzaku and Shirojiro were actively contesting each other while cracking their fists.
“How naive, Shirojiro! No, should I use the nickname the Testament Union gave you, ‘Poker Face’?”
Naomasa swung her right mechanical arm. With that movement, Jizuri Suzaku’s upper body turned.
“Your weapon is nothing but ‘power’. However, every one of Suzaku’s blows…its arms, its legs, each of their movements has a ‘technique’ that lets its wrath or support come through!”
The fight between ether and iron slowly started to lean in the iron’s direction.
Jizuri Suzaku retracted its left leg, lightly tilted its body forward and took control of its balance. As if swinging him down from the right shoulder, the God of War pushed Shirojiro down in one movement.
Naomasa looked over in Shirojiro’s direction. Behind him were the residential areas on the surface of the ship.
She knew little of the land except the fact that the richer people lived there.
Still, Naomasa thought. I have the advantage here.
Right now, over here, because of the labor interference from the Engineering Club’s side, her strength would have no effect on the residences by this road. No matter how hard she tried, she would not damage her surroundings.
In reality, she had already acted several times in that assumption. She used the buildings as platforms to kick and increase her speed, as well as support for Suzaku’s foothold. Any building more than two floors in height would serve as good support that could withstand its body.
Aiming for that, Naomasa chose this very road for the battlefield. They had passed through here when they were shopping yesterday after all, so she knew that this was a good place to use in God of War battles.
However, no such labor interference was applied to Shirojiro. Without any platforms and supports on his side, he would have to hold back his power every time his back was against the buildings.
Acting against that handicap in battle, the God of War executed its “technique” associated with itself.
…I may be on par with your “power”, but everywhere else I have the overwhelming advantage!
Right now it was time for the technique. Studying under a teacher in a martial arts dojo where she worked part-time, Naomasa could understand: right now, her breaking the balance in their exchange of blows would mean the downfall of her opponent.
Therefore she acted to that extent. Naomasa suddenly tilted Jizuri Suzaku’s fist downwards, the one she was using to crash against Shirojiro’s.
Shirojiro tried to lower his body, but he didn’t make it in time.
As if to cover Shirojiro’s ether fist with its own, Suzaku’s iron fist came down from above. On the ground, Shirojiro was holding it back using his fists.
Drawing his own fists back, Shirojiro stepped on the pump and…
Facing that figure in school uniform, Jizuri Suzaku readied its left hand. It intended to push down Shirojiro, sprawled on the floor, from above.
“This will decide it…!”
However, the open palm of the iron giant that swung down with her shout felt a certain response.
Its fingers were spread, but they did not reach Shirojiro.
The moment Naomasa wondered why, she saw it with her eyes. The ground Shirojiro was on had a depression in it.
Its area was around two tatami mats. The woodwork making up the surface slid down around a meter in that area.
This is strange, Naomasa thought. The woodwork making up the surface was a very important part of the Musashi’s surface structure. It’s not something anyone can easily tear off. Her group in the Engineering Club would periodically be rounded up to maintain, repair and install new parts of the framework after all.
Still, it broke off and sank.
The reason it could was visible in front of her. On the sign frame displayed in front of Shirojiro’s face, the map of the neighborhood they were in was displayed.
“No, did you buy the land on this road!?”
“To top it off, I bought the labor force needed to perform this removal as well. It did hurt my wallet a bit, though.”
Shirojiro, standing inside that depression serving as his foothold, was out of reach of the God of War’s hands.
Realizing its shift in balance, Jizuri Suzaku panicked and took a step back.
Right then Shirojiro gave chase.
Jumping out from the hole with the power of 150 Guard Unit members, he swung his right fist with all his might.
“Jizuri Suzaku, protect the front!”
The God of War responded. However, even with both its arms up, the attack caused Jizuri Suzaku to shake.
A low metallic sound echoed. If she stepped to the back, buildings were nearby.
…Will I be cornered by the houses at this rate!?
The buildings may not break, but because of that, if he cornered her against the buildings she’d be forced to take the entire force of his attacks without any option to dodge.
…Just one more step!
In front of her roughly measuring eyes, Shirojiro landed and prepared his second attack.
In order to avoid being wall-slammed, she needed drop her guard and send forth a fist of her own.
However, at the same time the God of War swung its fist, the foothold Shirojiro was on sank suddenly.
“Another one!? …How much money are you planning on using!?”
Shirojiro entered a lowered position and went for another attack.
…Depending on the situation, he could also have the ability to take away my footing as well.
Therefore, to prevent that from happening, Naomasa made a choice.
Lowering down its hips, she entrusted Suzaku’s stature to the buildings on its back.
The logic was simple. Lowering down its hips will allow the God of War to execute low punches, and if she relies on the buildings, even if Suzaku’s footing is taken away, its balance won’t easily be lost.
Even for someone like Shirojiro, he would not be able to buy houses where people are living, so they would not break because of him.
She had the upper hand here.
That’s why Naomasa moved. Leaving its back to the houses, the God of War launched an attack on the level of its chest.
Right in front of her. She went for a smashing attack on the figure of Shirojiro sunken in the hole of the floor.
She’d win if it connected.
Then, aiming for Shirojiro under its eyes, Jizuri Suzaku sent forth its fist while leaning to the back.
The moment she screamed Shirojiro slowly spoke.
“It is your defeat, laborer.”
Right after that, Jizuri Suzaku became enveloped in a certain phenomenon.
On its back. The houses it leaned its back on did not stop its path of travel; receiving its whole weight, they broke down into pieces.
It was not only the buildings. Even the structural woodwork on the surface broke down all the way to the lower levels in one swing.
Pressured by Jizuri Suzaku, the houses against its back warped. They distorted, creaked, then finally broke down and crashed.
It’s impossible, Naomasa thought. Why did the houses still break when the labor interference was in effect?
Still, the creaking sounds of everything collapsing provided sufficient proof to her.
It’s all breaking down.
The house that should have supported Suzaku’s figure instead broke into pieces without carrying out its assumed role.
The bent structural woodwork recoiled, sending all the broken roofs, pillars and walls up into the sky.
With the sudden opening of space behind them, Jizuri Suzaku lost its balance to the back, and…
Trying to make it rise from the falling parts of the house, Naomasa made it struggle.
She couldn’t. Due to the crash onto its back, Suzaku was sunken from the waist up.
As if in response, the fragments of the buildings fell down into Musashi’s inner quarters. Following suit, the back of the crimson Heavy God of War started sinking along with pieces of wood; but in response, it automatically grabbed Naomasa’s body and held her up to the sky.
Right after that, with the sounds of collapse, the lower body and shoulders of the fallen God of War became enveloped in rubble.
Along with rubble, the God of War fell down all the way through one floor, underground.
Overwhelmed by the noise, Jizuri Suzaku could only let Naomasa get down on the ground.
The God of War tried to move, but it couldn’t win against the weight of the rubble and how bad its balance was. Looking at that, Naomasa clicked her tongue; and while starting to brush away the broken parts from on top of the God of War, she thought:
…So the other side won, huh!? Still…
She was in doubt while hurrying to pull out the large pieces of wood to save her God of War.
“What is this all about! Why did the buildings that should be under protection from my labor not get that support from my team… Even the floor broke down as well!”
“The answer is easy. I bought it, and made it a property of mine in regards to this battle.”
“You bought it!? This is a densely populated area, you know!?”
On the surface already above her, standing on the edge of the ruins, Shirojiro turned his gaze that was looking down on her up to the sky.
“I would not have trusted any information about real estate if it wasn’t in real-time. Look over there.”
In the blue sky, figures of aerial ships could be made out.
“There are non-citizens of Musashi that fled this ship after hearing the rumors of its transfer. As they leave, houses will be sure to become empty. Now, if I could find them…”
“The rest is simple. I show the people how rich I am and how omnipotent the power of money is. Everything is in my plan to serve that purpose.”
Hearing that, Naomasa noticed something about how she moved through the roads all the way here while taking on Shirojiro’s attacks. During that time he was talking about a lot of things, explanations or otherwise, but…
…So that was to draw attention to him!?
“You drew attention to yourself so that I wouldn’t find out that your target houses weren’t inhabited, was it?”
“Surprises are prerequisite in business after all. I do not spare any part in my efforts.”
Before those words finished, a tremor arose.
It was Jizuri Suzaku attempting to escape the rubble under automatic maneuvers.
At the sounds of the generator and the pulses of the God of War felt through her soles, Naomasa let out a sigh of relief. Brushing away the large pieces of rubble, she helped Jizuri Suzaku to its feet; and then posed a question to the businessman above her.
“So, what do you want? From the Engineering Club, I mean.”
Shirojiro’s reply was immediately heard amidst the spectacle, which was quieting down.
“For Musashi to collect money, it must continue to fly without problems. To that extent, the work of the Engineering Club will become essential. In other words, without the club, money will not come in; and for people like us, it will be as if all our weapons are lost. That’s why…you’re one of us, Naomasa.”
Shirojiro then opened up a sign frame. To the reflection of Heidi’s relieved face in the screen, he spoke.
“Heidi. Get the people around to help the God of War up, but keep the costs down.”
The surprised voices resounding in town, along with the movement of the people saving the God of War, reached the top of the bridge in front of the Academy.
On that bridge, off which the voices spilled out below it, Heidi let out a sigh; she wiped the sweat from her forehead and looked to her sides.
To her right, Toori was already gone. He was heading off to be with the others by the school building.
To her left, Masazumi was, along with Mitotsudaira, loosening their shoulders as expected.
“…It’s over, huh.”
Judge. Mitotsudaira affirmed, her shoulders lightly tapped by Heidi. She quickly went over to the stairs.
“Hey, get that part over there done first!”
“She’s just using others, huh. …In any case, it looks like it’s time for us to take over.”
With a bitter smile, Mitotsudaira saw Heidi off and turned her gaze to Masazumi at her side.
“So I’ll be going next, then.”
“Will you be okay? I know little about the position of knights in this day and age, so I cannot support you.”
“There’s nothing for you to worry about. No matter what happens, I will deal with it as a knight. Therefore… The rest is all up to my opponent.”
Saying that, Mitotsudaira looked to her back.
Towards the school building. She turned to face everyone in that direction. Sharpening the glance of her golden eyes, she began:
“Representing the knights of Musashi, I – Nate ‘Argent Loup’ Mitotsudaira – will now ask.”
Sticking out her chest, Mitotsudaira placed the pair of long cases she was carrying on the ground to her sides. The cases that were about her height in length hit the ground, their weight causing the bridge to creak a little.
Then Mitotsudaira placed her hands on the twin cases on the ground.
“Right now, the rights of the president and chancellor are in the hands of the king, meaning such positions are not present here and now. With a duty to stand by as he ordered, and no economic foundation to compensate for it, we knights are not able to abide by your actions. With regards to this situation… What does the Academy’s side hold that will make us follow your decision?”
She grabbed both of the cases, one in each hand.
They were thick cases. Her thin fingers looked like they were just touching the cases’ sides, as if they went behind them. However, as Mitotsudaira easily handled them…
Below her feet the bridge creaked and, as if to substitute for it, the cases were lifted up.
Taking up the load, she neither set up her shoulders nor did her hips sink; she just held them up. With neither pain nor fatigue showing on her body, as if holding pieces of twig, she lightly brought those twin cases to a horizontal position with her arms, as if clinging to them.
It wasn’t a technique. Around where her fingers held the cases, wrinkles formed as if they were cloth, distorted slightly in shape. It was raw strength.
“My mother was a werewolf (Loup Garou). I myself cannot perform a transformation (Bête de Modulation), but…that part aside, though, I can exert as much power as how it would have been at any moment. You do know about that, right, everyone?”
A moment passed. With a smile of inquiry…
“I was quite the mischievous child back then, was I not?”
Saying that, she placed both cases on her shoulders, and spread her legs shoulder wide.
“Now,” she prefaced, and then Mitotsudaira posed a question to everyone by the Academy.
“Who will be the one to make a knight submit?”
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