Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 16

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

Chapter 16: Those Who Prepare in the Courtyard[edit]

Horizon1A 375.jpg

Will the festival eventually end

And, will the festival start

Point Allocation (Density)

In the courtyard one could see the tremors running through the Academy.

The mayhem seemed to have been noticed by others; an audience stood outside the Academy’s outer fence.

“Ahh, again…?”

No one entered the school grounds, though they all spoke.

Azuma, standing in the courtyard, had gathered everyone who had run away from the disturbances happening everywhere in the school. He heaved a sigh as they all stood there atop the lawn.

Somehow, it seemed that inside a fight had broken out between the students and the mercenary groups. From time to time some white thing, or people in bodysuits, or cosplay that was hard to even describe would be ejected from the emergency exit or windows of the first floor.

They’re really going at it, he thought. Beside him, Ohiroshiki shoveled the snacks he had brought with him as a late night stack into his mouth.

“Mmm. I am of the humble opinion that we should call the teacher on night duty. Will she be alright?”

“Oriotorai-sensei…? When I went to see her just now, she was sleeping soundly, a sake bottle in her arms.”

The person who answered him was Adele. Using her handkerchief, she was fanning Asama who was lying on the lawn face up.

“So we can’t…” Everyone muttered this, Azuma included.

As they muttered this, another person in a black bodysuit fell after being blasted through the wall. He looked their way, thrusting out his chest, on which the word “Love” was written in red. Afterward, he disappeared to the starboard.

“…Anyone know him?”

Hearing Noriki’s voice, Naomasa folded her arms and tilted her head to the side.

“That guy who left just now was probably Koide Ou from Shinagawa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. That pillar before was wavin’ at Asama-chi, so… Asama-chi, your father didn’t leave the shrine tonight without tellin’ you where he was going, did he? …Hey, why’re you glarin’ this way. It’s time to accept your father’s true end.”

“T-this isn’t over, t-this hasn’t been decided!” Asama said before she collapsed. It was Suzu’s duty to lay the handkerchief out under her face.

And looking at everyone, who was doing this, Azuma thought:

It’s just like always, huh.

He nodded in his heart; but today, he felt this way again.

Everyone’s in a good mood?

Tomorrow, Toori will confess to the girl he loves. Everyone’s in good spirits because of that, right? Because I came to Musashi after secondary school, I didn’t know what they were like before then. It seems like many of them have been with Aoi since elementary school. Because of this, I wasn’t excluded, but the way I feel during these times is different.

He thought this as well.

Hassan took a drink from the curry he kept inside a thermos.

“Ah, it’s the Schaeder couple. They’re always a big help at our stationery shop.”

A skeleton couple ran out of the emergency exit on the first floor, clutching the suspension platform used to hold samples. While they were dashing out, the husband’s rib bone fell off. The wife grabbed it out of the air and inserted it back, bowing to the group as she did so.

“It’s gradually become the sideshow of a carnival…”

Looking closely, there was a mummy on the roof.

“Ah, that’s Mishra the Third. He runs the dried foods restaurant, ‘Horus’.” [1]

He hung his bandages from the edge of the rooftop and started to rappel down, his movements hurried. As he did so, when he was around the second floor, Aoi’s sister ran to the edge of the rooftop. She grabbed the edges of the bandages.

“Teeheehee, there are some nice dried goods here! What do you want me to do with this lifeline, your bandages!? Should I cut it!? Take it off!? If you don’t want to fall, then worship me! If you don’t, not only will I drop you, I’ll spin you around like a handmaiden!”

“That girl really doesn’t know how to threaten people. Or rather, Mishra the Third can’t talk, can he, since his throat’s dry?”

Azuma nodded at those words, which everyone spoke. But really, amongst everyone, it seemed that it was Aoi’s sister that was devoid of energy.

If things were normal, she would have definitely said that she’d drop him and still order him to worship her.

Something about her is strange tonight. Well, she’s always strange; but the way she’s being strange is different, or should I say, not dropping him immediately is in itself strange.

It’s a difficult question to answer, Azuma thought. As he watched, Mishra the Third, dangling in the air, had put his arms over his head, making a heart shape with them.

Seeing this, Aoi’s sister put her hands on her cheeks and shook her head.

“Hehehe, it’s wonderful to be so beautiful that even dried goods acknowledge it~!”

Because she had released the bandages, Mishra the Third fell.

However, below them, Nenji had come from behind the school building.

“Hrmph, no one was behind the school building! It must have been because of the invincibility of my party’s majesty!!”

His invincible majesty was blown apart by the dried humanoid that came falling from above.

Everyone watched as Itoken, a refreshing smile on his face came from behind Nenji. He was completely naked.

“Hiiii! Everyone! The back of the school is fi— Waitwaitwait, Nenji-kun! Are you alright!?”

While he was speaking, Mishra the Third rose. Wrapping his bandages around himself, he raised a hand to gesture sorry several times before leaving. Nenji, left behind, slowly reformed.

“He, Hehe…that was dangerous.”

He’s serious, as usual.

Azuma thought.

It would be perfect if Oriotorai were here; or rather, if she were here the mayhem would be quelled with overwhelming levels of violence. But if that were to happen, it would definitely become a bigger disturbance than it already was; so it was a matter of whether to go with “quality” or “duration”.

Suddenly, there was a movement beside him.

Suzu had stood up.

“U-um, w-water, A-Asama-san’s…b-breath is, r-ragged.”

She was going to draw water. The tap that sprinkled water to the school from the waterways was close to the entrance, but it wasn’t drinking water, as this was the water that circulated throughout the interior of the ship. The drinking water was inside the school.

“Bell-san, um, if you go there now, you’ll get drawn in.”

Adele tried to stop her, her tone suggesting that she had no idea what she was doing. At that moment.

A large voice boomed out nearby, coming from the direction Suzu was trying to go.

“—What on Earth is this outrage…! This disturbance in our town!!”

Everyone turned to look up at Yoshinao, who had stood in front of Suzu at some point in time.

He, Yoshinao, seemed to realize that everyone had fallen silent at his shout. He looked around.

“This is completely inexcusable! Who started this! Get out here!”

“He’s got a point.” Everyone nodded; but one person reacted differently.

“—Hyaah…!”

That sound, a breath filled with fear, came from directly in front of Yoshinao.

“—Hy…aaa…ah…”

Her arms clutched before her chest, Suzu was trying to keep her trembling back.

Ah, Azuma thought. This is bad.

If a large voice suddenly comes at you while you’re nervous…

Suzu, who was blind, had entered a state akin to one where she had been punched.

Her breath caught; but when she tried to breathe out, she felt like vomiting.

And apparently, Yoshinao had just noticed her.

“—? What is the matter with you? If there is something you want to say, then come right out and say it!”

At his insistence, Suzu opened her mouth wide and screamed.

“Uwaaaaaaaaaaaah!!”

Suzu burst into tears.

Everyone reared back at the sound, which seemed to blow away all the noise that had been happening till then. Yoshinao stood there, panicked.

“H-hey, you, w-what…”

“I-I-I-I d-don’t like, t-this guy…!”

“Wow, Suzu-san, you’re completely in the right.” Everyone nodded. However, Yoshinao heard this.

“A-all of you! Causing such a disturbance is—”

“Hyaaaaaaan!!”

Her voice rang out. As might be expected, the crowd had started to panic. But despite this, Azuma, in the midst of them, waved his hands about attracting attention to himself.

“U-umm, about what we should do now…”

Hassan nodded at Azuma’s proposal. Taking a medicinal pouch from his chest, he poured white powder from it into his magic bottle, which he had only drunk a little curry from. Replacing the lid, he shook the bottle.

“Well, if you drink curry, all your worries will fly away~”

“W-what did you put in there just now!?”

Hearing Naomasa’s question, Hassan nodded, his face expressionless.

“Spice.”

“That can’t be right! That was definitely a drug!”

“You’re wrong. Curry is made out of several different spices. So what you put in curry is spice. It’s only logical.”

“Somebody take a dump in his curry next time!!”

“We am trying to say that you kids have been ignor—”

Yoshinao said. Just as those words left his mouth, all the windows of the school opened at once. The people inside the building thrust their heads outside.

For a moment, they all looked to the left and right; but not long after they noticed Suzu, who stood there crying.

“Nuuah—! Warning! Warning! Musashi’s cutest bangs has been brought to tears!”

“Damn it, how did this happen! Whatever the cause, we seek everyone’s opinion concerning the offender’s punishment!”

Everyone who had their head sticking out the window stuck their fist out, thumbs facing downward. All of them nodded.

“Alright! Unanimously decided to be the death penalty! No problems, no questions, no mercy! The offender is…”

Toori, who had stuck his head out of a window on the top floor, found Yoshinao.

Yoshinao’s eyes met his.

“Y-you! Chancellor and student council president! The disturbance this time is—”

“Hey, guys, everyone look! There’s an idiot who’s cosplaying as a king, right over there! He must be the culprit! Seriously, that’s a douche move, dressing like the king so he can lower everyone’s inhibitions!”

“W-what are you saying!? We are the real thing! We are the true King of Musashi, Lord Yoshinao!!”

“Huh? What did you say? The king’s got no friends, so he wouldn’t come here. As expected, the fake doesn’t know anything about the king. The real king’s playing minesweeper on his PC, alright? Didn’t you know?”

“You bastaaard—!!”

“Uwaaaaaan!!”

Suzu’s voice resounded again.

The instant directly after…

“——”

Suddenly, the sound of Suzu’s crying halted.

She fell silent.

Almost as if her voice itself had been stopped.

“Eh?” Everyone looked at Suzu, who stood in the middle of them. She softly closed her mouth, which had been wide open.

Suzu touched her ears with her hands.

“Eh…?”

She spoke the question that everyone had been thinking.

As she stood there frowning, a voice came from above her.

“Hey, King, move! And get down! You’re getting in Bell-san’s way!!”

Hearing these instructions, Yoshinao felt lost. But matching everyone’s movements, he lowered himself.

Left in the middle of the crowd, all of whom had knelt down, Suzu tilted her ears to the left and right without even wiping the tears from her cheeks.

After a moment…

“—O-over there.”

She looked towards Musashi’s port. The east.

Located there was Kakamigahara’s mountain range.

However, in the depths of night, all that was there was a pitch black, bottomless space. Beyond the mountains, towards the south, should have been the town of Mikawa; but from Musashi’s point of view it lay in the mountain’s shadow, so you could not see the light from the town.

Black. It was even unclear whether the mountain itself was there. There was just a darkness that seemed like a black fog, beyond which nothing could be seen.

Despite this, the darkness suddenly shattered. Within the embracing dark, a light shined.

It was the light of a fire starting.

Flames. On the peak of Kakamigahara’s mountain, an inferno was born.

“Huh…”

Exactly as Suzu spoke, a sound which seemed like distant thunder could be heard.

Hearing that noise, Naomasa muttered, her body still kept low.

“Isn’t that an explosion?”

As if responding to her, Neshinbara, whose head was thrust out of the school building’s windows, said this.

“Of the watchtowers the Testament Union set up to maintain surveillance of Mikawa, there should be one at the top, around there… It’s true that they should be packed with Tres España’s students now, but what could it be? An accident? Maybe it’s just a fire…the watchtower below it can’t be seen from here, but I wonder…hasn’t it noticed?”

As the flames in the distance became stronger, small voices began to break out from within the crowd.

“What’s wrong?” “What’s going on?” People were saying. There were also people who had started trying to make calls with their phones.

“Oookaaaay! We’ll have to wait till next time for the continuation!!”

Hearing Toori’s voice, everyone besides Yoshinao nodded.

They started to move. Everyone left the windows, exiting the building from the entrance. Everyone stood up and started to walk off.

They started to move.

As they started to move out, Yoshinao gave the crowd a glance before lightly bowing his head to Suzu.

In response, Suzu drew back slightly. However, Yoshinao dropped to one knee, right before her eyes. He did this even as the people in the crowd were headed towards their homes or the places they needed to be. Upon kneeling, he said this.

“We had no intention of scaring you. Please forgive us. Also…”

He stood up and pointed to Toori, who was above them.

“We play solitaire, not minesweeper. Understand?”

He corrected him before turning his back.

He left. Seeing his back start to walk off, everyone in the class heaved a sigh.

Pushing her glasses back up to the bridge of her nose, Adele clutched her practice lance.

“It seems like we managed to cover it up somehow, but…what could those flames be?”

Shirojiro exited from the entrance of the building. He spoke with Heidi.

“I can’t contact the Mikawa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. There should be automatons there, though.”

“Even looking at it now, the light coming from Mikawa isn’t increasing… Could it be the town isn’t working?”

All around, they could see that all the cosplayers and the real monsters had left, following the spectators out of the Academy. Only the people who had gathered on the bridge at the beginning and Azuma were left behind.

Shirojiro cast his gaze upon everyone before folding his arms. He took his Mouse, a white fox, out of the armor by his neck.

“…The phones’ circuits are probably scrambled. The effect should be reduced if we use the Mouse’s direct divine communication or written divine communication. If you’re in a hurry, everyone do it themselves. That’s fine, right? In general, the fees for sound divine communications are high…”

“Shiro-kun, Shiro-kun, you’re starting to lecture.”

Hearing Heidi’s warning, Shirojiro nodded. After a while, he raised a hand lightly.

“I’ll be busy. Heidi, please use Erimaki to enable the opening of divine communications to all of the Far East residential areas in each country. I’m going to pull a step ahead of the other people in Musashi’s merchant group. Please prepare the introduction of hard currency for all countries into my finances within Musashi. Not just yen, the common currency.”

“Judge. Haha, I think we’re going to be glared at after this, but that happens every time… Then, everyone, it’s time for us to dispe-…”

“P-please wait…”

Suzu formed that voice.

She had noticed the flames first. Hearing her words, everyone opened their eyes and stopped moving.

Suzu shrank back a little, but she stretched her right hand forward, as if to grasp at something.

“U-um… Excuse me…”

Everyone looked in the direction Suzu was pointing. At a single boy, who stood there. It was…

“—Me?” [2]

Having been pointed out by Suzu, Azuma tilted his head to the side.

What?

Did something happen? Suzu pays attention to sound. So, if something happened…

“Um.”

I’m still wearing my uniform. There’s nothing on my head, chest, or my waist. Despite this…

“——”

By the time I realized it, everyone was looking at me. Looking up, I could see that even Toori was.

Azuma leaned his head forward and looked at his feet. Yet, there was nothing there.

What’s going on? Inclining his neck again, he searched his sides.

Seeing this, everyone spoke.

“You![3] Not there! Behind you! Behind you!!”

“Behind me?”

Having been told this, Azuma asked this question. He turned to look at the direction the question was directed and his eyes fixed upon the first thing they saw.

It was a small hand holding the hem of his uniform.

There stood a girl. Her long white hair was mussed, her skin was white. Azuma didn’t know this girl.

Her face was on the brink of tears.

“——”

Her feet stepped onto the lawn, their owner staying silent. Suzu must have noticed those footsteps. Despite this…

“She’s transparent…?”

The girl’s body, not even one meter tall, was half transparent. Even the ground and the grass looked transparent because of the flickering. The cloth on my hem that she had grabbed could also be seen through.

Everyone held their breath upon seeing this. At that moment, the girl spoke. Her black eyes looked at me.

“Daddy isn’t here…”

And looking down…

Horizon1A 389.jpg

“I can’t find Mommy…”

Is she lost? Azuma thought. However, before considering that, there was something he had to say.

Instead of Azuma, it was everyone else who shouted the words.

“It’s…”

They took a breath.

“It’s heeeeeereeeeee!!”

He heard a sound.

In the middle of the study in Sakakibara’s estate, Sakai had indeed heard a sound.

It was a sound he had become familiar with. A sound that echoed in his gut before dropping. It was the sound of an explosion. That, he knew. In that case, what he now thought was this.

Why? Why is there an explosion?

I don’t know. There’s no way I would know. There are so many things that I don’t know.

Ii has disappeared. Sakakibara has also disappeared. He told me to chase after the Princesses and the Genesis Project. And now…

An explosion?

What’s going on?

Ten years ago, I was transferred to Musashi. Even when I disembarked, nobody would face me. But when we met today, we were able to talk, just like we used to.

Why is that changing as the night grows older?

“Damn it…”

Sakai moved. He went. He exited the study, moving into the hallway, and ran to the entrance. Behind him, the maid automaton was asking him where he was going, but there was no point in answering. He just went outside. In order to reconfirm the fact that he knew nothing, in order to just look at what was happening.

He went outside.

Sakai opened the entrance’s sliding door by throwing his body against it, simultaneously thrusting his body out.

The garden was formed from stone and pine trees. There were stepping stones lined up and formed a ‘Ç≠’. With such momentum that he only touched the first and the last one, he bounded over them.

The gate was open. Beyond it, the streets on which darkness had descended could be seen.

He went. In order to pass through the gate, he leaped. In the air, he lowered his hip, preparing to hit the ground.

That instant. Sakai saw two colors.

The first was the mountains in Kakamigahara. The Testament Union’s observatories for Mikawa on the mountain were the color of blazing flame.

The second came at his right leg as if to trap it.

A butt of a spear!?

His right foot shrank back, but it was too late.

From the out to the in, he was driven to the side, the butt catching his foot. Sakai lost his balance in the air.

“—!?”

Sakai forced his body to struggle against the movement which led his right shoulder to fall towards the floor.

By thrusting his left hip up, he added another half of a revolution to his movement.

A full turn. He landed in a crouching position.

His feet touched the ground, stepping onto the sand.

Simultaneously, he drew the dagger kept behind his waist halfway out of the scabbard, preparing for an attack coming from above.

While bringing his left hand inward to restrain any attacks coming from the left, he hauled himself up with the same hand.

He stood. By dropping his hip, he was able to take a stance where his right shoulder was sticking out, his hand holding his knife in a backhand grip.

Sakai swept his gaze through and focused his hearing on his surroundings.

“—Who is it?”

At the place his question was directed, two figures appeared on the street.

They appeared from within the shadows of the buildings, dyed darker than the already dark street.

“Da-chan and…”

“Judge, I am the controller of all automatons linked to the Honda family, Kazuno.”

As Sakai watched, Kazuno clasped her empty hands in front of her and bowed.

Tadakatsu stood next to her. He held a spear in his hands and was looking at Sakai.

Sakai looked at Tadakatsu before his eyes locked onto the spear. The spear with a blade tipped like a bamboo’s leaf.

“…Tonbokiri. A divine class weapon. A weapon with the power to slice even matter itself…”

“—You’ve gotten older. You can’t avoid it anymore.”

Tadakatsu spoke, bringing up Tonbokiri, which he had used to hook Sakai’s foot by stretching it outward. Having done this, he shortened it. Tightening the socket which controlled Tonbokiri’s lengthening mechanism, he took a straight pipe from his chest.

An instant. As Kazuno stood beside him, her wrist flicked up, flicking the tip of the pipe with enough force to send it jumping up.

Along with a muffled thump, a fire was lit in the crushed leaves stuffed inside the tip of the pipe.

“—I apologize for my discourtesy.”

“Don’t worry ’bout it… Then, Sakai, about you.”

Three noises rang out as Tadakatsu spoke.

The first was the sound of the Testament Union’s aerial gods of war taking flight in the skies high above, going from the west to the east in order to maintain air superiority.

The second was the sound of of the Testament Union’s escort ships rising from the western continental port and heading towards the flames at Kakamigahara.

And the final one was this.

“Hey, Da-chan… This sound is…”

A faint noise, but a noise with real depth. A noise that seemed to soak into and through all that it touched.

“…Coming from the ground…no, from even deeper…”

Sakai was able to predict what it was beneath the ground that was causing this noise. However…

This is reckless…

Despite this, the noise came slowly. An “oh” here, a “do” there…these sounds could be heard. This was not because the ground was shaking, but because the crust, the earth above it and the air itself was being shaken.

It was floating up.

“——”

A long, long beat was struck.

It was a pulse.

The periodic pulse that you could feel when pressing down a vein, except stretched out for a long time, for tens of seconds.

The earth pulsed.

This is…

Gulping down a breath, I directed my gaze forward, and in front of me, next to Kazuno, stood Tadakatsu.

The edge of Tadakatsu’s mouth was curled upward.

That crook in his mouth slowly opened.

“It’s the ley line, Sakai. You remember it, don’t you? When we constructed Old Nagoya Castle during our time of service, the ley line reactor, which filters ether, was made badly and it often would come to the brink of overload. When it did, this sound would fill the air.”

I remember. What he’s saying is true. This was from more than ten years ago, when I still served as one of the Matsudaira Four Heavenly Kings.

Ley line reactors were interdicted by the countries of the Tsirhc Testament, but since Mikawa didn’t fall under their jurisdiction, it continued to run. Because of this, Mikawa was relied upon by the countries of the Tsirhc Testament for the manufacturing of aerial ships and arms, and these countries would then order them from us. We somehow managed to keep the old style ley line reactors running and fulfilling their function.

Ley line reactors’s function is to disaggregate ether from the ley lines, purifying it into ether fuel. By spending exorbitant amounts of money on its costs of operation, it is possible to acquire higher levels of ether fuel. However, because this drains a ley line, the ley lines in the vicinity will narrow and become unstable.

As such, it is feared that the appearance of the pulsing noise of the ley line, which indicates the instability of the ley line reactor, calls out monsters and phenomena.

“We were the ones calmly eating and smoking as this sound boomed out, weren’t we, Da-chan?”

“Yeah. But Sakai…you, who were called the Grand Head, have become old.”

As he spoke, a thunderous roar ripped through the sky above Tadakatsu, which was already pulsing.

The Testament Union’s gods of war. Robotic bodies with four wings, spread in the style of a cross. They had originally come to keep watch on Mikawa, but they had been deployed by the Testament Union, who had seen the flames from the watchhouse.

Each of the three units circled clockwise through Mikawa’s airspace, striving to preserve their air superiority.

If anything were to happen, Tres España, in charge of Mikawa’s surveillance, would be held responsible. The gods of war traversing the sky and the fact that they had even mobilized their aerial ships to control the watchhouse were both shows of force as well as manifestations of their impatience.

However, there were probably people in the Testament Union who had not noticed this heartbeat.

Tres España had started to move out. Their attentions were drawn by the diversion by the mountain range. As such, they should not have noticed the real danger, which lay on the ground, at the ley line reactor in New Nagoya Castle. Therefore…

“…The gods of war above us aren’t armed for anti-surface but anti-air warfare. The ships are filled with infantry armed for mountainous warfare, so they can take over the watchhouse. In other words…they’ve come into Mikawa unsuitably armed.”

“Yeah, that’s right. They’ve made the worst possible adjustments, or in other words…they’re entering Mikawa with a disadvantage.”

Still, Tadakatsu said this.

“The enemy hasn’t grasped the situation yet. They’re communicating with New Nagoya Castle in order to inform them of the incident’s details. The automatons receiving their messages should be buying time.”

“Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious? If they just marched right in so simply, we’d get rolled.”

Tadakatsu puffed out smoke.

“Three of ’em are going, so the balance’s tipped, and the pulse’s started. It’s probably been noticed by now, so the diversion’s over. Now, it’s time to get inside and hold out till the other two start up.”

“Wait.”

Sakai spoke. He asked about the numbers that Tadakatsu had told him.

“By three and two, you mean…”

“I’m obviously talking about New Nagoya Castle’s ley line reactors, right? The four in the rectangle and the unified one in the center. We’re carefully making them overload right now.”

Hearing Tadakatsu speak, Sakai’s thoughts stopped for an instant.

Overloading the ley line reactors?

It’s easy to do. All you have to do is run the mechanism that extracts the ether at a higher setting. If you do this, the extracted ether will be captured in large amounts inside the reactor before heading to the storage and preparation chambers, and it will erode the reactor from the inside.

Unrefined ether is able to freely cause variants in space. Because it has no tendencies towards a certain direction, continual accumulation will begin interferences and erode the surroundings. Eventually, they will cause “alterations” in each other.

When it reaches that stage, it will come to an end. It will devour the reactor, and the “alterations” will reflux in the ley line reactor, expanding at high speed. The effects of erosion will continue to spread until it mixes with other space and its individuality is diluted.

Once, before the Divine States were oppressed, a ley line reactor in the Harmonic Divine States’ Rus’ had overloaded and self-destructed. In the same way, eight years ago, directly after his inheritance of the name, Nobunaga of P.A. Oda destroyed all remnants of the Mlasi rebellion’s military power with the overloading and eventual self-destruction of a ley line reactor. They hunted them down until they were gathered in Mount Hiei, where a temple was built, and they annihilated it.

In both of these incidents…

“Everything within a radius of a few kilometers was obliterated… If you start five of them, Mikawa, let alone Nagoya, will be destroyed!”

“That’s why I’m saying, you’ve gotten old.”

Tadakatsu told him, a smile on his face.

“There is nobody left in Mikawa. Just the automatons and us. Because of this… Hell, I really want to see it. The destruction of Mikawa, caused not by that piece of junk during our time of service, but by the collapse of the ley line due to the overloading of this new model of ley line reactors.”

“——”

“Since you’ve come from Sakakibara’s mansion, you were asking him, weren’t you? About why we were doing this?”

“Sakakibara’s disappeared… He was spirited away by the Princesses.”

“Oh?” Tadakatsu said. He looked up at the shadows of the gods of war flying around in the sky.

“So, you haven’t asked why. That’s a shame…there were a lot of things I wanted to ask. A disappointment.”

“Disappointment…?”

“I’m talking about myself, alright? I’ve just been following the orders of my lord. Ii and Sakakibara seemed to know something, but I don’t really know anything, let alone what’s happening. All that the Lord told me was that this…”

A breath.

“That this was the start of the Genesis Project.”

“Didn’t you realize?” Tadakatsu said.

“The Genesis Project is something P.A. Oda began. But, you know, don’t you? That Mikawa is allied with P.A. Oda? And P.A. Oda won’t release the details of the Genesis Project. Why? The answer is simple, isn’t it?”

“—The Genesis Project was brought to P.A. Oda by Mikawa!?”

“You finally know one thing. Information that even I know, but at least it’s something.”

Indeed.

“The Lord hasn’t yet made everything clear to P.A. Oda. Neither has he told us. The only thing we asked was: ‘Can everything be saved by this?’ ”

In response to Tadakatsu’s words, Sakai moved. He drew the dagger from his waist and took a step forward.

“Stop this now…or I’ll bind you.”

Tonbokiri’s tip pierced the air before my eyes.

No. In terms of distance, there were still three meters between him and the blade and I.

However, because Tadakatsu was aiming along the line that traversed the shortest distance between them, the blade felt close.

“…You haven’t lost your intuition as much as you’ve lost what you know.”

“And if I had?”

“Can’t do anything but stab you, right? That’s my job. ‘Loyalty’ and ‘victory’ make up Tadakatsu.”

Even while speaking, the tip of his spear moved not an inch. If I move, I’ll be pierced where I stand.

As he stayed there unmoving, the heartbeat rumbled, and the sounds of the ships and gods of war in the skies echoed.

Tadakatsu spoke, as if to further stack up the sound.

“Go, Sakai… I don’t have the time to care about you. Now, I have to go intercept the land forces that K.P.A. Italia and Tres España will send, while they’re unable to completely grasp the situation.”

“You idiot, if the ley line reactors overload while you’re doing that…”

“To be victorious in the name of my lord’s wishes. Without asking his reasons. Merely abiding. This is what the name Tadakatsu means to me. So, Tadatsugu, how does your devotion take shape? Wasn’t it ‘loyalty’ and ‘to link to the next’?”

“Go,” Tadakatsu told him.

“This is no longer the place you belong. Just like how the place you are to go isn’t the place we belong.”

“…Sakakibara said that we’d always be together as the Four Heavenly Kings, you know?”

“Yeah,”

Tadakatsu withdrew Tonbokiri.

“We will always be together in the past. And we are always heading into the past together.”

Saying this, he snapped his fingers and turned his back to Kazuno.

Kazuno bowed to Sakai over Tadakatsu’s shoulder and started to walk towards the center of Nagoya.

In the same way, Tadakatsu turned in that direction. However, he turned his head back.

“Now, I am going to become the past, together with my lord. Come too, eventually. And when you do, tell me what the hell the Genesis Project was. Also…”

He smiled.

“If the thing I am to do is the first step in order to save us from the Apocalypse, praise me then.”

“Da-chan.”

Sakai called out to Tadakatsu, who had already turned his back.

“What about your daughter!? There’s a lot of other things too, you know!? What are you going to do about—”

His words stopped there.

The shaking was…

The heartbeat had turned to quaking.

Simultaneously. As if the sky had lost its support, everything was pushed down.

“…!?”

Directly after. Mikawa cracked apart.

The overloading of the ley line reactor interfered with the ley line running through the crust and space, and space split open like a blood vessel bursting.

Sound shattered, the atmosphere fell, the ground was torn off.

“—!?”

The collapse had started.

On the second ship on Musashi’s starboard, Tama, murmurs were starting to rise at the bow. These murmurs were the first stage of an uproar.

The reason for the crowd’s voices being brought forth was the inferno burning in the eastern mountains, and…

“Mikawa is…”

From the ship, Mikawa was in a direction where it could not be seen because of the mountains. In the same direction, the skies beyond the mountain were lit up by light shining from the ground. It resonated with the sound that could be likened to a heartbeat.

The air swayed. Not wind, but a swaying that came and went. The swaying of air maintained constant pressure, reaching the ships from Mikawa.

Following the rumor of fireworks, a crowd was gathered on the deck of the surface layer. Stalls had been set up along the length of the crowd, and the lights had come on. However, it was still dim, and within that dimness, the people watched the flames and the light shining from Mikawa.

In the midst of them was Masazumi, dressed in her school uniform. Masazumi was looking in the direction of Mikawa.

“This is…”

The moment she wondered whether President Sakai had returned.

“—Masazumi-sama.”

Masazumi turned back to face the woman whose voice had called out to her from behind. She caught a white-haired automaton at the tip of her vision, P-01s. A thick book clutched under her arm, she was hiding black algae creatures behind her feet.

“It has been a while. I did not really understand what fireworks were, so I read the book that you gave me. I have finally finished reading it. To speak bluntly, P-01s has done well.”

Masazumi listened to her quiet voice as they stood within the murmurs that ran back and forth through the crowd. However, P-01s’s words stopped there.

Masazumi felt lost at the break in the conversation, but after a while, she noticed why.

“Ah, yeah, you did well. I can’t believe you read the whole thing.”

“Judge, I am honored to receive your compliments. This book was extremely informative concerning the response patterns of the people acting as politicians and leaders. It seems to be a recent trend that the greater the person, the more they suddenly—in agony, or by drowning, or in fits of anger—take responsibility by committing harakiri.”

What on Earth was she interested in when she was reading, Masazumi thought. Despite this, she let it alone.

Maybe the fact that she wants to know about humans’ behavioral patterns, is because of that.

As an automaton who doesn’t know where she comes from, what does she want to think of herself as? Isn’t she looking at humans’ judgements from books in order to learn from them? Masazumi thought.

Where had P-01s come from this time? She had brought a few black algae creatures with her, but because of the darkness, they didn’t stand out.

“Worked hard. Did well.”

Crouching down to look at the black algae creatures, who were saying things like that, she showed them a lightly clenched fist.

“Judge, there is a proverb about this. Persistence is a form of strength. No matter the difficulty, it is possible to overcome it.”

Was the book that difficult to read? Masazumi thought, but for now, there was something that she was able to judge.

The light shining into the skies wasn’t that of fireworks.

Something is happening. It’s probably possible to watch from here, but we’d eventually be unable to move around. After all, even now there are people coming up from below, and the density of the crowd is increasing. Therefore…

“I’m thinking about moving away from here, but what will you do, P-01s?”

“Are there no fireworks?”

“Probably not.”

“A shame. Regret.”

“Judge,” P-01s nodded down at her feet. Looking up slightly, she thought about it for a moment.

“Where are you going?”

“Where?”

Somehow it seems like I’m gradually being excluded from the conversation, Masazumi thought.

“Well, first of all, let’s leave this place… There’s a monitor at the Blue Thunder, right? I don’t know if the shopkeeper’s there, but if she is, I think she’ll know a lot about it.”

“Judge,” P-01s nodded. Pushing her forward once, Masazumi started to walk. Her footsteps were a little hurried, but the automaton was walking at her own pace. So, she thrust her body outward, moving through the crowd of people, in which there were still gaps, and creating a path for P-01s. Having done this, the black algae creatures said this.

“Going first.”

They hid themselves in a nearby gutter. P-01s waved and saw them off.

Right now, the paces of those around them were slow and perplexed.

However, there was a doubt in Masazumi’s heart, a vague suspicion that came close to impatience. The suspicion was this.

This couldn’t be the ley line reactors in New Nagoya Castle overloading, could it…?

There were four basic models and one unified model. If the ley line is drawn in and explodes because of the overload…

In the reactor core explosion that had happened in Russia, just one had annihilated tens of kilometers.

The events surrounding the overloading in Russia are unknown. In any case, everything, let alone evidence, had disappeared.

But having used that explosion as a basis, the countries of the Tsirhc Testament no longer had any ley line reactors.

The fact that Mikawa was allowed to have them meant, for the countries of the Tsirhc Testament, that they would be borrowing this forbidden power from Mikawa. Because of this, they became debtors in exchange for the ability to mass produce goods that had undergone ether treatment through the output of the reactors.

The output of the modern ley line reactors had been heightened, and the area of the ley lines it affected was also bigger.

If several of them overloaded…

Masazumi did not say those words, but she said this instead.

“…Let’s hurry to a place where we can ascertain the truth.”

The moment she said it. Suddenly, a light came from behind her.

“!?”

Turning to face the voices of surprise from the crowd, she saw that the light shining from the ground of Mikawa was stronger. It looked like moonlight, but it was clearly some luminescent phenomenon.

“Are those fireworks?”

No, that word wouldn’t leave her mouth.

A sound came. The sound of the entirety of space screaming, as if the atmosphere itself had a voice.

The next instant, the thunder of Mikawa cracking apart made the world quake for the space of a heartbeat.

In the midst of the night, Mikawa started to split apart.

Only one place hadn’t split apart. It was the black rectangle in the heart of Mikawa, New Nagoya Castle.

Of the rectangle that made up New Nagoya Castle, the area around three of the corners, the southwest corner excluded, was shining brightly.

The light erupted outwards from the three points on the castle. The castle at its center, the surface of Mikawa burst out over an area ten kilometers in diameter, bringing light into being. It was a movement that brought the pulsing to the surface, like capillaries popping up.

The vast amounts of light ran across the surface in an instant, and leaping into the air, it gave rise to a mist and forest of beams of light.

It climbed.

The three gods of war that flew through the nighttime skies stalled as soon as they came into contact with the mist of light that formed a half-sphere in the skies above Mikawa and the clumped up beams of light that was shaken by the heartbeat.

Gods of war are armored warriors that move using artificial joints and the drive system. It is piloted, so upon insertion, the armor disaggregates the pilot into information, and it moves through the streaming of information into the machine’s drive-management systems and nerves. By doing this, the pilots can handle the machine body as if it were their own.

However, the altitude of the three machines dropped suddenly. Panicking, they flipped their armored selves over, taking control of their posture.

“…My energy output’s suddenly been consumed! The unification has been canceled!”

In a panic, the three machines beat at the wind with their wings, straitening themselves. They had opened up divine communications to each other.

“—When you touch that light, your energy output is drained…! This is because of the core of the light, New Nagoya Castle’s ley line reactor! The ley line reactors are sucking up ether from the ley lines without any limits!”

“If that’s true, does that mean that this light isn’t being emitted from the ley line reactor but being absorbed by it, and is converging there…!?”

“That… Isn’t that the representative pattern for the collapse due to the overloading of an ley line reactor…!?”

Currently, the ether running through the ley line around Mikawa was streaming towards New Nagoya Castle. As such, the assembled ley lines were shining, expanding and splitting the earth.

The three machines fled, flapping away from the expanding light.

“The protective layer of the molla benzina and the vestido made for aerial usage are thin, so they are more easily interfered with by the ley lines! —HQ, in this situation, we cannot go in. Please review our orders.”

“This is Base1, head towards the god of war squadron, Gran Muñeca. Currently, it is proposed that the god of war squadron takes point for the batallion responsible for the destruction of the ley line reactors. Do the field operatives have any suggestions?”

“If we’re going in, then we’d like to be fitted with equipment buffered against the ley lines, but we don’t have time to exchange parts. Just prepare the weaponry and upper layers of armor able to cover our entire body. Equipment that’s able to destroy New Nagoya Castle is…”

“Because it’s impossible to completely destroy New Nagoya Castle’s ley line reactors with god of war class armaments, the probability of an explosion of the accumulated ether has been identified.

“To release the ether accumulated in New Nagoya Castle’s ley line reactors, we have judged that we need to completely and instantaneously destroy the reactor or interrupt the purification process by setting a large number of explosives.”

“Gods of war are unsuitable for both, huh. Please prepare weaponry to clear the path of the infiltration team. Since the air superiority guns we are currently equipped with are specialized for long-distance battles and have as such very low tracking capability in close ranges, we’re unable to respond appropriately to the mid or close range battles that dominate street battles. Also, blade-type close range weaponry and equipment to move through buildings is necessary. You’re able to arm us so that we can get through the walls of New Nagoya Castle, right?”

“Tes.” The answer came over the divine communication.

“We will do as you request. In the current situation, as regards the interference from the ley lines…”

“Cover the upper plates of the anti-ley line interference armor with kinetic dynamos. We’ll deal with it by raising the isolationist properties of the armor’s mobile state. Because the power output has lowered, we are unable to perform anything but anti-surface combat, but safety is confirmed. We should be able to fully fulfill our roles as long as we’re just acting as the vanguard and assault support. We’re changing our upper plates and rearming, so we’ll finish that up and meet up.”

“Tes, then, a1 and a2 will act as the vanguard and assault support. a3 is armed for information warfare, so please stay above the ether light and collect information while supporting from that location.”

“—Tes! Come, a2! The faster we are, the longer our turn will be! a3, circle around up here! Since you’re a newlywed, a place at the top of the world is just right!”

“Being in a place where he’ll die if he falls is a married man’s life, isn’t it?”

“Haha.”

The sound of laughter echoed through the divine communication, and two gods of the war flew to the west.

The person on the divine communication from headquarters took a breath.

“—Attention, all units. 2036, the objective of the Tres España battalion stationed in Mikawa is the stopping of the ley line reactor in Mikawa’s New Nagoya Castle. After the god of war squadron has secured the way forward, the battalion, centered around the assault team, will infiltrate New Nagoya Castle. They will then destroy a single ley line reactor and use the ensuing leakage of ether in order to forcefully dissipate the accumulation of ether, which is reaching levels of overload. In this way, they will stop the overload. Furthermore, this is something that has not been recorded in history recreation, but…we judge that this is the most dangerous incident of the Tres España battalion stationed in Mikawa. Everyone, please obey the contents of the communiques coming from your superior’s divine communication.”

And…

“Tes!”

As if to respond to the nods through the divine communication, a movement from the west was born.

Two of Tres España’s escorts ships approached the stable stretch of land and air that ran along the waterway in the west of Mikawa.

“Assault team B, team C, disembark onto the stable ground—”

However, before the divine communication could receive confirmation, the two ships suddenly received a response from Mikawa.

The leading ship took cannon fire to its port, and it sunk instantly.

That which had fired the cannon that had pierced the hull was a single automaton, standing above the rooftops of the village, which quaked as it split and collapsed while light shone from it.

The information officer of the ship that had been sunk confirmed the identify of the automaton of unknown model, who carried a long shadow which seemed like an anti-cruiser cannon, as “Kazuno”. He sent this information to all his comrades, including those that had evacuated the ship right before it impacted the ground.

After a few minutes, the two gods of war that had secured their equipment at the headquarters came hurrying from the western skies. In order to check the safety of the trailing ship and the assault team members, the two machines entered the battleground of the automaton platoon that Kazuno commanded.

They moved out.

The battle between the collapse of Mikawa due to the ley line reactor, Tres España, who was attempting to stop it from happening, and Mikawa’s automatons, who were hindering Tres España, had opened.

However, there was a question going through Tres España’s divine communications. The question was this:

“Why are they doing this?”

They were screaming.

“This overloading of the ley line reactor, which will most likely annihilate Mikawa… Why are they doing this!?”


Notes[edit]

  1. Written with the verb meaning “to dry”.
  2. The pronoun used here indicates that the speaker is Azuma.
  3. The pronoun Azuma uses to refer to himself is pronounced “yo”.