Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 17

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Chapter 17: Usurper in the Street[edit]

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Something that holds not the figure of a human yet is a human

Something that takes the figure of a human yet is not human

What can we call the chance meeting of the two

Point Allocation (Battlefield)

In the nighttime sky, the sky where two moons hovered, a ship had moored.

It was an aerial ship emblazoned with the emblem of the Far East, Musashi Ariadust Academy; the leading ship of the group that had been advancing towards the west. It only had one cannon, which was mounted on its bow.

The ship had stop signals created with an illumination spell placed by its flanks. It stayed unmoving in the sky.

The lights in the bridge, which was located towards the stern of the ship, were lit up.

A flight map was spread out on the work table in the middle of the bridge; and several people, the ship’s captain included, were speaking to each other as they stood around it.

A single girl stood amongst them. Her hair was tied up behind her head.

The captain spoke to her.

“Futayo-sama…what should we do? Should we go on ahead to the border or go back? According to the Testament Union’s divine communications, Mikawa is currently in an emergency situation. The ley line reactors have started to overload, and the Testament Union has tried to ascertain the cause. The automatons are resisting their efforts.”

“I see.”

Folding her arms, Futayo nodded.

I want to reach a decision concerning what we should do now, but we cannot simply move when the Testament Union is involved. I wish there was someone here that was both decisive and good with politics.

If only Masazumi was here…

Such a wish will never be fulfilled. Even as she thought of her classmate, Futayo understood this.

If she is a vice president at Musashi, then as always, she is probably doing her best using her knowledge and decisiveness.

However, at this moment, she was not here.

“Well then,” Futayo said. Though she was interested in the fates of Kazuno and her father, she did not show it.

“The important thing is what we should do for the good of the Far East. However, I am unfamiliar with this. Is there someone who could tell me?”

Hearing Futayo’s question, the captain looked around at everyone. His gaze landed on the vice captain of the escort squadron.

“Under your role as an adviser, do you have any opinions, Vice Captain?”

The well-built vice captain nodded in response to the question.

“If the overloading of the ley line reactors is intentional on Mikawa’s part, Mikawa’s status as the Far East’s representative will be taken away; but Mikawa won’t disappear.”

“If what you’re saying is true…”

“Judge, there’s the possibility that Mikawa has parted with the Far East and will come under the control of the Testament Union. In this event, Musashi will also eventually come under their control, and any real substance of the Far East will be gone…”

Hearing those words and seeing his gaze covertly flick from face to face, everyone looked at each other.

Seeing all those expressions enter her field of vision, Futayo realized that everyone was thinking the same thing. As such, in order to ascertain this, she said this:

“…As regards the current situation, what are the advantages of the Testament Union taking control of the Far East and Musashi?”

“There are many.”

The vice captain started by saying this.

“This could be the solution to the division between the people of the Far East and other countries living within and without the harmonic territories. In addition, due to the circulation of money and their complete control, the people of the Far East will be concentrated in certain locations. Also, they’ll be able to usurp Musashi’s trading powers and technical skills… This depends on the level of their control, but the worst case scenario for us is their best case scenario.”

“If so…” Futayo said.

“Then we are the ones that can step between the Testament Union and Musashi… We are people of Mikawa, and because of this we have the strength to support Musashi’s views without colluding with them.”

“Then…”

The ship’s captain said. He exchanged looks with the on-board head of divine communications.

“Contact the Testament Union. Tell them that we want them to use us if there’s an emergency. Even if the Testament Union does something to Musashi, they won’t want to commit the mistake of bringing people from other countries aboard.”

“Judge.”

The head of divine communications turned towards the divine communications systems. It was then that the ship’s captain said this.

“Well then, this vessel will wait. We will await the Testament Union’s response. Futayo-sama, according to the situation, this may seem like we are going against how we truly feel, but…”

“Judge.” Futayo nodded and smiled. A smile that she herself felt was forced. In addition to this, she spoke thus:

“Loyalty…it is in such behavior that we see its meaning.”

Hearing those words, the ship’s captain nodded after a moment. Besides him, the sailors and the vice captain of the escort squadron also nodded and bowed.

Thank goodness.

Futayo felt relieved that at the very least she had not said something wrong.

It was at that moment.

Having intercepted a divine communication, the head of divine communications screamed its contents at her.

“—Tres España’s vanguard has entered Mikawa! They’re heading towards New Nagoya Castle, gods of war in tow!”

A breath.

“According to their estimates…there’s 15 minutes until the overload of the ley line reactors is set!”

The nighttime village was painted with light and darkness.

The darkness had two forms: the darkness of the night and the shadows of the houses and cracks in the earth.

There were three types of light. One was the light coming from within the houses. Another was the light of the ley lines, coming forth from the depths of the vast cracks that split the crust, where the roads, the waterways, and the houses were built. The last light was this:

“—!”

The light of shots continually fired along the surface.

Of course, there was a certain sound that accompanied the barrage of bullets.

This was the overlapping sound of guns and cannons.

Finishing off the confluence of sound was the sound of a heartbeat, reaching out from below the earth.

Every time the periodic pulse rang out with a noise that shook all things, the fissures that ran through the surface spread, moving as if they were in search of air; and the light that could be seen in the depths of the earth grew stronger.

Darkness and light painted the village, and sound traveled within them. Something was moving as if to cut through the pulse, that pushed upwards.

“a1, we’ve started to take point!!”

Shouting and accelerating down the streets, the god of war was an armored figure in white and crimson, half its height again taller than the roofs of the village. Four wings in the style of a cross were on its back, and a rifle the size of a cannon was wielded by its right arm.

The leader of the god of war squadron, a1, looked forward. At the end of his vision was the straight line that made up a street; and beyond it, the colossal New Nagoya Castle that lay in the depths of the town.

He went.

Because it was originally meant for aerial usage, the crimson and white mechanical body had no legs. However in its stead, the god of war extended graviton particles from its legs, running on the virtual feet that this created.

The street was the shortest path. Despite this, it was the path that the enemies were targeting.

However, the warriors of the assault team were behind him and starting to advance with a2.

Going first and drawing the enemy out was his duty.

“—!”

a1 expelled the air that had been stored to the limit within its wings.

Pressed forward by the resulting explosion of air, a1 burst forth in a straight line forward. Chaining some shots from his cannon, he blew apart the enemies that came within his automatic targeting sights. Even as he did this, he simply continued straight on, scattering white papers in his wake.

For the sake of clearing the path that led to the success of the operation…

He gusted down the road at the lowest of altitudes.

Maintaining his initial velocity, a1 led the way, ahead of the main group by a few hundred meters.

He was within the support range of his comrades, so it should have been within the range that the land divisions could advance. Behind him, a2 should have started up immediately, performing his duty as the land divisions’ escort. As such, all he could rely on now was aerial support from a3 and his own power.

He went.

Looking at the displays of information overlaying his vision, a1 confirmed the route he was to take. Nagoya was the remains of a town. Every road, street and name was left in the state it had been found when the ruin had been discovered during the the Age of the Gods.

It was roughly three kilometers before they reached New Nagoya Castle. Currently he was nearly directly west of New Nagoya Castle, on highway 79.

If you left the town of Jinmokuji to the north and the town of Ouharu to the south and continued traveling east, you would reach the rivers Shinkawa and Shounaigawa, that flowed to the west of New Nagoya Castle.

The bridge that crossed the two rivers had a north-south orientation, but the road on the opposite bank went eastwards. If you traveled it for one kilometer, you would reach the side of New Nagoya Castle.

Heading there, his duty was similar to acting as bait. Using his speed, defense and firepower, all superior to a human’s, he would lure out the enemies lying in ambush and blow them apart.

He had a rough idea of the enemies’ weapons.

Compressed lumps of metal.

Automatons have the ability to control gravity. Using that power, they harden and fire scrap iron.

The manner in that they did this could be likened to how children throw clumps of mud. However instead of dirt the ammunition were blades, nails and clamps that had been twisted and crushed into a hard mass; and their firing speed was nearly supersonic.

Of course, this work puts enormous strains on the automatons. He had already shot down tens of automatons.

“——”

No. Standing ready on the rooftops, they were in a state that could be likened to his own busted automatic firing mechanism. Smoke and heat spewed visibly from their shoulders and wrists.

Depending on their state, there were already some that had become unable to move and were toppling off the walls of the houses, smoke rising from their arms and chests.

Why?

Why is it that the automatons are fighting without fear of their own destruction?

And this is happening in spite of the ley line reactors overloading.

Why—?

As he thought, a1 went. Not only was he taking care to renew his vision and the targeting sights of his automatic firing mechanism, which controlled the right arm that held the rifle, he aligned the order of his shots to the swaying of his body and feet.

There were enemies. As he went further in, their number increased.

Because of this, a1 cut through the wind, flipping his armored body and firing.

Shoot, spin, accelerate forward to dodge.

From time to time his sights would be off and he would think that he wouldn’t hit.

When this happened, a shot would come from the skies and he would be saved. It was a3, in the high skies. The reason he was able to fire the long range air-superiority weaponry against the surface was because he was sharing targeting information with a1. a1 was also using a3’s audiovisual information to roughly calculate the enemies’ positions before firing.

He went. Even while supporting and firing, a1 simply chose to move forward.

“——”

A crossover entered his vision.

a1 evaded the cannon-fire coming from the left and right by accelerating forward, returning fire with his rifle.

The rifle was made in the short-barreled style of Tres España’s government-managed industry, ‘San Mercado’. It was muzzle-loaded, according to the technical specifications of the Testament’s descriptions. The gun’s defining characteristic was the fact that in order to reduce the charge the barrel of the gun was cut as far down as possible, and in its place it deployed a virtual barrel made with Clásica Firma in the shape of a cross.

Its load came in a magazine, 32 steel bullets in every one. Because of the large-scale Testament Sign contract used to accelerate the shot and the automatic loading mechanism, it could continuously fire six shots in the space of a second.

He went full auto.

The Testament Sign contracts that had been used were ejected and scattered. He had hit seven times. He had taken a bullet in the shoulder of his armor. The lump of metal had deeply gouged into the cross armor that Tres España was so proud of, but…

It didn’t reach the core.

Several other parts had also been pierced, but he went straight ahead, relying on his speed and concentration.

Continuing to shoot, a1 flapped his wings twice.

Directly behind him, warning sounds erupted from the audiovisual mechanisms situated directly behind his head. Warning signs appeared to the left and right of his vision.

ADVERTENCIA!! (Warning)

The meaning was clear. Behind him, the automatons had appeared from the houses on the left and right where they had been hiding.

They were most likely thinking of surprise attacking him from the back.

However, they were naive. a3 is in the skies. The information from the sky is being sent almost in real-time. If a1 could obtain the information of the enemies behind him, his automatic firing mechanism would adjust for them. In this case he was unable to confirm by sight; but there should not be any problems with pursuing bullets.

There were none.

Leaving it to the mechanism, his right hand, which held the rifle currently swung behind him, squeezed the trigger.

Three direct hits rang out, and the warnings disappeared. He could see the pieces of paper scattering in the corner of his vision.

At that moment, a divine communication came.

“a1! —The enemy has moved! She has horns!”

He had already entered a battle situation with the enemy. Ignoring that, the person that should be designated as his “enemy” was…

Could it be—!?

A warning sign flashed into being at the right of his vision. The sign transmitted the name of the hostile machine’s name.

“—Kazuno!!?”

Above the streets of Nagoya, which had been protected by the environmental gods during the Age of the Gods, a god of war and an automaton clashed.

In terms of their relationship to each other, the god of war was accelerating and chasing Kazuno who was ahead of him and drawing further away.

However, though an automaton’s athletic ability is high, it cannot match a god of war.

If the god of war went all-out it would not take even one minute to reach their destination, New Nagoya Castle.

Despite this, the ether disturbance was swirling around the skies like a storm and the god of war could not fly to its full capacity. As if she had expected this, the automaton braked, challenging the god of war to a land battle.

Kazuno was using two weapons.

The first was her skill in battle, kept in her mind.

The second was gravity control and the multitudes of weapons and battle techniques that could be created with it.

“—!”

Kazuno shouted while running backwards.

“—By the luck of my fingers, a sword!”

Running in a manner where it was almost like she was leaping, Kazuno shouted. She brought both her hands downward.

Simultaneously, the ground erupted because of her gravity control.

And what had been made was a pair of broadswords built from the road, no less than seven meters in length.

The twin swords instantaneously rose up into the air, following the movements of her arms.

However, the god of war she was facing moved.

The white and crimson god of war readied his rifle, not slackening his speed.

He fired directly after.

The shot that could be said to be an artillery shell barreled towards Kazuno’s chest as she was in the midst of raising her swords.

The muzzle sound rang out and the shreds of the contract scattered into the air.

The bullet hurtled down a straight line. Yet…

“—By my gaze, a shield!”

Responding to Kazuno lifting her chin, the ground between her and the god of war leaped upwards.

It was a shield.

However, the road’s structure was based on gravel so it was weak against impact.

The 10 cm thick shield-wall hovering in the air was torn through by the steel bullet.

The piercing bullet continued to come.

It did not pass all the way through. Since that was the case, countermeasures should be simple. Kazuno quickly forced her gaze, which had been turned upwards, down.

“—Placing an additional order!!”

Seven shields stood up in succession and flew between Kazuno and the god of war.

The metal bullet collided with the seven shields floating in midair. It hit. It broke. It burrowed. It pierced. It shattered, it ripped apart, it went in, it pierced through, but…

“I have judged that it has stopped!!”

As her voice rang out, the shell, having been stopped by the succession of shields, ricocheted behind her. Lowering her arms as if to flap a pair of wings, she thundered the two swords hovering in the air into the god of war, attacking from the left and right of the half-destroyed shields.

As they came hurtling down, the blades lost half their thickness. As if being crushed by a steamroller, the swords were flattened from the base to the tip.

This was compression done by gravity control. By doing this, she increased the hardness of the swords.

And they sliced into the god of war.

In response the god of war brought the rifle up, connecting it to the link on its back. Both his arms free, he grasped the short swords in his waist. Still running, he drew the short swords into both of his hands. Holding them in a backhand grip he swung the swords upwards, completely breaking apart the shields that lay between them.

He broke through.

The gravel stained with black scattered into the air, and the two short swords collided with Kazuno’s twin blades.

Sparks flew.

“—!”

The sound of metal clashing screamed twice. It was certain that Kazuno’s twin swords had slowed the god of war’s movements.

Even as they matched blades, Kazuno and the god of war continued to sprint.

Sparks flew between the weapons of the two as they locked blades, lighting up the night.

Immediately after, the god of war stopped low.

“A marionette playing the puppeteer to a bunch of swords? Like hell!”

An explosion of air burst from behind the god of war. It was the acceleration of its four wings.

He came.

Keeping a slight distance between them the god of war deflected Kazuno’s twin blades outwards not with the strength of his arms, but the strength of his entire body; thrusting her forward.

“…!”

Continuing onward the god of war swung his body, moving it forward in a tackle headed towards Kazuno who was hanging in the air.

They were facing each other. Kazuno pulled back her two airborne swords, bringing them to bear again.

But she was too late. In order to swing the broadswords, she had to pull them back extremely far. Afterward, it would take time to slash with them. As she was withdrawing the broadswords, the god of war’s short swords were stabbing towards her left and right.

At that moment, a clear sound rang out.

It was the sound of Kazuno’s broadswords cracking, splitting directly in the middle into two pieces.

Kazuno shouted the reason that caused both her weapons to crack in two.

“—I am recreating them!”

Split into two pieces, the broadswords on her left and right were reformed by her gravity manipulation.

Their shapes were altering towards that of a short sword. Four of them.

At the same time Kazuno swung both of her arms even while sprinting, catching the four blades in her gravity control.

All she had to do was swing. These weapons, able to be handled in a more compact manner than the broadswords, were now headed towards the god of war’s short swords; challenging them to a direct confrontation.

The god of war accelerated to meet the attack. The first round of blades collided.

“…!”

However, after the space of a heartbeat a chain of attacks commenced from both sides and the shrieks and sparks of swordplay continued.

“Ooooohhh…!”

Something that went down the street and someone who pulled back along the street. Even as each of them were receiving their comrades’ support, they were trying to consume the flow of battle, the attacks and counterattacks as the main course.

The four short swords scratched away at the god of war’s armor while his pair ripped the automaton’s clothing to shreds.

The sparks flying off illuminated the damage and results of their exchanges before fading away.

Kazuno’s body was visible beneath the remains of her shredded clothing. Her skin, made out of a material like porcelain, was wrapped with something that looked like bandages. It was a cloth charm imbued with a Shinto spell giving it a cooling effect.

Kazuno accelerated further without her body heating up. Despite this…

“…!”

When she increased the number of her attacks, the god of war went all out on speed.

And the result could be visibly seen; all their movements and their speeds were closely matched.

Both of them would step in and out, leaping here and there; and layered onto these movements were the dance of their blades.

Their speeds increased every time the sparks of deflection and sounds of rejection came into being.

They sprinted forth.

They spun, they swept inwards, they leaped backwards.

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The trail of their opponent’s swords would dart into the air that they had been occupying just a moment before, cutting through the air.

This held for both of them.

They went. They passed under the overpass. And they entered into its shadow.

“—!!”

The moment they did, the overpass above them was sliced into by the collateral damage from their slashing and it collapsed.

However, the two of them had removed themselves from the space that the building materials were falling on after being shredded.

They continued to run, their attacks unending.

Direct attacks were deflected. When attacks were slightly off, they were dodged. She spun, twisting her body as if dancing.

“—!”

She launched a flurry of blows. However…

“—a1, this is a2! Seven minutes have passed! Only eight minutes are left!”

“I’ll leave the rest to you and a3! Also…don’t talk to me until the order to retreat is given!”

“Yeah!”

That voice spilled from the god of war.

He went.

The god of war thrust himself forward, cutting through the wind. He jabbed the short sword in his right hand at Kazuno.

In response Kazuno thrust her arms outward, counterattacking with her four short swords.

With two of the four short swords she deflected the god of war’s right-hand sword upwards, the other two heading to smash his right arm down. By slipping her swords under the god of war’s right arm, the movement would strike them upwards.

Directly after, the god of war exhibited a single judgement. Just before his right-hand sword was snapped upwards, the god of war took his hand from the blade.

The god of war’s short sword was flicked away, dancing through the air as the sound of metal accompanied it. However, his left arm was left where it was.

And then the god of war did this.

“Uooo…!”

He extended the fingers of his now free right hand.

“…oh!!”

Before the blades could cut into him, his own right hand grabbed hold of them.

He had grabbed them such that his wrist and forearm armor were the first to be hit; but the two blades dug into his hand, piercing about halfway into his steel palm.

Still, he was able to do it. It was a rather forceful method, but it could not be denied that he had sealed half of Kazuno’s blades.

The god of war did not stop there.

Adjusting his grip on the short sword in his left hand, he threw it at Kazuno. Snapping his wrist from below, it was a high-speed underhand throw.

An action similar to discarding his weapons.

Yet, Kazuno had to react.

She used the two swords that had not been pinned down to repel the throw.

Simultaneously, the god of war used the left hand that he had swung up from below to grasp the rifle on his back.

The cross-model virtual barrel had already been deployed.

The distance between them was short. She was in a location that he was sure to hit.

The tip of the rifle caught hold of Kazuno’s face.

The god of war’s optical mechanisms definitely saw the automaton’s face.

It was frowning.

It would work.

Even if shields were brought up from the surface of the road, he had held the right hand that pinned down two of Kazuno’s swords below his rifle. His right arm would probably be fractured by the shields that sprung up, but he would be able to fire while he was able to stand it.

As he predicted, the ground between the god of war and the automaton burst upwards in the same manner as the shields had before.

It was too late.

The god of war squeezed the rifle’s trigger.

White scraps of paper were ejected from the slot for paper disposal.

“…Hit!!”

Kazuno saw the shell come.

However, in response to the warhead flying her way, she did not choose to dodge or in fact, anything of the like.

She chose to perform a two-pronged attack.

The first attack used the two short swords that were still living.

“It is possible to judge that it will hit…!”

She jammed them into the barrel right before her eyes.

She melded the blades she had used in the attack, compressing them. By making the two into one, she further hardened it.

“As my hands have directed!!”

The shell impacted the blade.

Due the explosion, the air ruptured, and the melded blades were shattered.

The shell was still alive.

However, the barrel had bent because of the impact.

To the right. The shell flew past Kazuno’s head.

Kazuno’s black hair scattered into the night, but the bullet did not hit.

However, the shots did not stop at one. There were still bullets left in the magazine, and the god of war’s rifle could fire six times in one second.

Before her eyes, the second shot was about to be fired.

At that moment, Kazuno thundered in her second attack.

It was not an attack using short swords. What she used were the fragments of the road that had burst upwards below the god of war’s right hand.

And what she had constructed was a single weapon. It thrust upwards, as if it had been thrown into the air.

“This is…!?”

Between Kazuno and the god of war, a cannon made of the road’s construction materials had been created.

The tip of the cannon was aimed towards the god of war’s stomach.

Ammunition had been prepared, sitting ready at the other end of the cannon. This was the shot that Kazuno had stopped with the succession of shields, and had been deflected behind her. However, the fact that the bullet was now here meant one thing.

“—Could it be that you hadn’t thrown it away but had instead kept it behind you using gravity control!?”

“…Judge. My possessions are dear to me!”

The shell which had been stopped by the successive weak shields had not undergone a large change in its shape.

She loaded. The bottom of the cannon closed, and Kazuno’s right hand was flung downwards.

The next instant, from the bottom of the cannon to its tip an undulation burst forth.

It was accelerating.

Using gravity control to chain together multiple bursts of acceleration at high speed, Kazuno drove the shell forward multiple times.

The god of war faced this.

“—!!”

Before he could squeeze the trigger…

“—By my gaze, hit!!”

It impacted him.

The god of war realized that he had received a heavy blow to his stomach.

His whole body rocked with the impact, and he was left unable to put power into any of his limbs.

His fingers fell from the rifle, and his knees dropped. Warnings notifying him of the destruction of his stomach armor and the heavy damage to the exoskeleton were being displayed in his optical mechanisms.

Despite this, the god of war screamed.

His words were released into the air.

“Shoot…!!”

As his voice rang out, something appeared behind the god of war.

It was the mechanical body of the other machine, a2, who had been following from behind.

a2 stood up from behind the god of war who was kneeling and readied his rifle.

a2 went.

This is our fight!

He had been advancing together with the assault team, but he had left them behind and went ahead.

There was a reason for this. When he had told a1 that he would support him, a1 had stopped. However, at that time a1 had definitely said this:

“I’ll leave the rest to you and a3…”

Why did he ask this of both of the people supporting him?

This was not a battlefield where he had the time to ask him about what he meant.

Therefore, a2 acted on his own decisions; and as a result, a1 shouted a plea for him to fire without even turning back to look at him.

And a2 was where a1 wanted him to be, doing what a1 wanted him to do.

He had dropped his waist, leaving his body in a crouching position. His rifle was placed against his hip, ready to fire.

It had accurately placed Kazuno within its sights.

Behind a2, the surface forces were coming. All seventy-one of them were using Clásica Firma that enhanced their physical capabilities, and were following him. Some distance had opened up between them, but as a result of a1’s advancement the enemies up till this point had almost all been dealt with.

That being the case…

the problem lies before us!

Our time limit before infiltration is seven minutes. As our current position is a kilometer and a half from New Nagoya Castle, we don’t have the time to stop. Therefore…

“a3…! Support me!”

His aural mechanisms heard the footsteps of the surface forces, who had come running up from behind.

Sending a scout to run ahead of them, the platoon had formed an elliptical formation and was approaching at high speed.

a2 depressed the trigger. The automatic firing mechanism had entered its adjustments, but he kept aware of his own movements.

He squeezed.

At that moment…

a2’s aural mechanisms heard a voice. It was a man’s voice.

“A heavy god of war from Tres España, ‘El Azor’, huh. Also, the surface forces are over there. Kazuno, don’t move, alright? …I’ll bind them.”

The next instant, the god of war ‘El Azor’ a2 saw this:

A man holding a spear was standing behind Kazuno.

Apparently having realized that a2 was looking at him, the man swung his spear to the right.

A movement that cut nothing but air.

Yet, two strange things occurred.

The first was this: many miniature signframes displaying several words could be seen around the tip of the spear that the man had swung.

The second was this.

My finger.

It wouldn’t move. The finger touching the trigger of the high-powered rifle in my hands could not, no matter how much I tried, squeeze it.

That was not all.

Behind me. The footsteps of the assault team that had been approaching until now came to a stop.

What’s happening? Why is that neither my fingers nor their footsteps are moving?

The instant the question entered his mind…

A voice spoke one more time.

“—Bind, Tonbokiri.”

The man who had swung the spear spoke.

Immediately after, a2’s eyes saw that his right hand and leg had split.

“—!?”

As Kazuno watched, beyond a1 who was already on his knees and unmoving, a2, the other machine, fell to the ground.

a2 fell, still unable to comprehend why he had been taken out. His right elbow and knee had been torn apart.

It had been caused by a single blow that had cut halfway into the afflicted areas from the front.

No strength entered the arm that had wielded the rifle, and there was no longer any support in his knees which had held up his crouching position. The artificial tendons unique to heavy gods of war from Tres España were made out of fine wire coiled into cylinders. They had been severed more than halfway through, and all the winding Drive Tool did was make the dry noise of a whistle.

The wire’s lubricant spilled from his two legs like blood, forming a viscous puddle on the ground.

He fell. A voice spilled from his external vocal mechanisms.

“This is…”

I can judge that you do not understand. Within the confines of her artificial brain, Kazuno thought thus.

Tonbokiri.

The weapon indicated in the Testament’s description, carried by Honda Tadakatsu. It was named thus because a dragonfly that landed on its tip was sliced in half; and the Tonbokiri that Tadakatsu wields possesses a similar power.

“It severs names that reflect upon its blade.”

Everything in this world holds a name in tandem with its existence. Whether it might be an undefined name, or whether it is unnamed, it is still a name; and it is something that indicates the body that holds the name.

By severing the name, it slices the body.

Because it cuts names, when the name it cuts does not directly indicate the body or the name is plural, the effect is lessened. The reason that it was not the god of war’s body but his legs that had been severed was because that which had been cut was not the pilot’s name, but the name of the god of war; and Tadakatsu was also unable to specify the god of war’s individual name.

However…

Kazuno looked behind a2.

Several figures had fallen onto the road.

The seventy one names of the surface force that had been running this way.

All of them had one knee severed.

Not one of them was an exception.

They were the same. In that all of them were clutching their knee, in that they wriggled as they tried to stand though they were unable, and in that they squirmed about, they were the same.

This was the result of the instant severing of the title “surface force”.

Behind her, Tadakatsu’s voice could be heard.

“—Well, that’s how this is. Six minutes are left till the time limit to prevent this is over. This ended with a lot of time to spare, huh.”

Standing in the middle of the nighttime street, filled with the pulse and light, Kazuno sighed, the breath full of waste heat.

She did not turn back to look at Tadakatsu.

“You are rather late. I am especially troubled.”

“Sorry for being late… The Lord has finally finished the final preparations and entered the center.”

“I was thinking about following the Lord to protect him. More bugs are probably going to come, after all. What will you do? …This is your last chance to pick up the souls of your comrades and run to the outskirts.”

In response to Tadakatsu’s voice, Kazuno straightened her posture and turned towards him.

Tadakatsu stood there, Tonbokiri at the ready. Looking at his face, which made her feel his ease, Kazuno nodded at him.

“Tadakatsu-sama…we are owned by Mikawa. All that is left for us is to serve the will of the lord of Mikawa, Motonobu-sama. And Motonobu-sama…”

“Told us to protect the castle. And protect it we did. Also, I’ll take this opportunity to ask since we’re talking about it already; but do you listen to what I say or what the Lord says? Even though you’re in my family, you don’t really listen to me.”

“If I listened to what Tadakatsu-sama said, my status as an automaton would be lowered. I would not clean up. I would not do the laundry. I would go to buy unnecessary weapons, books, and meat that was not even planned for dinner, and immediately after I would bring back a dog or cat and say: ‘Isn’t it pitiful!? From now onwards this is ours!’ I would explode from having become such a failure as a human.”

“I mean, wasn’t it pitiful!? Are you a devil!?”

“Yes, yes, judge, judge. This is a response well used by Tadakatsu-sama towards me, but… I wonder about that?”

“Woman…”

Hearing Tadakatsu’s words, Kazuno tilted her head. She straightened her shredded, mussed clothing, even if only the hem was left.

“I do not have experience with being blown up by a ley line reactor’s overloading, so I cannot speak accurately; but if we start running to Motonobu-sama now…”

“We won’t be able to survive, huh.”

“…Really, I cannot understand your line of thought. Tadakatsu-sama, are you a human? Are you not actually an automaton?”

“Shut up,” Tadakatsu said, replacing Tonbokiri on his shoulder.

He looked around at the area; and matching his movements, Kazuno also confirmed her surroundings.

Throughout the entire area, the sound of the pulse was becoming stronger. The distention of the surface was reaching its limit; and rather than rising up, it was time for the surface to collapse into fissures.

With the sound of buildings everywhere collapsing and the sound of the pulse in the background, Tadakatsu looked at the light all around them.

“Mikawa’s become a pretty bright town while I wasn’t watching.”

“Judge. Tonight is the first time I have noticed. When you listen to the pulsing of the ley lines for a while, it starts to sound like trance music. I can judge that it is a fine feeling.”

“Be a little more sad, won’t you? Also…you’ve decided to stay? You’re not going to go out?”

“Judge,” Kazuno nodded in answer. Exhaling, he turned his back to her.

Behind Tadakatsu, who slowly started to walk towards New Nagoya Castle, Kazuno checked whether his clothing was disheveled.

“If it were possible, I would like to change.”

“That’s because you’re wearing that kind of frilly western clothing.”

“This is a serving maid’s clothing, the racial clothing of automatons. As such, it is a grand thing. I wanted something that could be used in battle, but the Testament Union did not comply.”

Kazuno stepped forward, going to walk beside Tadakatsu.

“————”

She suddenly moved.

Tadakatsu heard footsteps.

Kazuno’s footsteps. Though she had been walking up next to him, she suddenly turned to the left.

?

Thinking that she had found some part of his clothing mussed, Tadakatsu turned to Kazuno.

Kazuno was facing left, towards the northwest.

She was not moving.

Looking closely, Kazuno was raising her left hand. Kept horizontal, it pointed towards the west.

“Kazuno?”

“What’s wrong?” Tadakatsu asked as he drew closer to Kazuno.

Kazuno moved. She lifted her right hand.

A movement that instructed him not to come her way.

“Hey…?”

Despite this, Tadakatsu avoided Kazuno’s right hand as she stood there expressionless, moving towards her left from behind.

He looked at Kazuno from beyond her upraised left hand.

A hole had opened in Kazuno’s chest.

By Kazuno’s chest, in her maid uniform and the skin made of pottery below it, a hole the size of a fingertip gaped open.

Tadakatsu, who had taken a look at her in order to check on her, grasped yet another fact.

There was a small, black hole pierced through the middle of the palm of the left hand that Kazuno had raised.

Furthermore, Kazuno’s head moved slightly, turning to face him.

“There is an enemy.”

Her words halted there.

Directly after, Kazuno’s body shattered into fragments from her chest to her stomach, as if she had been crushed by a colossal claw.

“—!”

Moreover, across a vast area before Kazuno, countless fragments of Mikawa’s earth had been chipped off.

The power to fragment attacked Mikawa in a barrage.

The range covered three kilometers in width and one hundred kilometers in length. There were multiple cuts, and it continued for several seconds. In effect, the crust, the surface, the streets, the waterways, the atmosphere, the night sky, and everything included within them were fragmented into pieces over a few seconds.

Sliced into as if to engrave, they were cut into and torn to shreds.

Carrying a hint of freshness, the short sound caused by the cutting and the grating sound of tearing screamed from everything within the area of effect.

The trails of the cuts changed, dependent upon the size of what was being sliced into. The crust and surface of the earth was gouged out of the ground meters at a time. Diagonal lines akin to claw marks ran across every pillar and wall of each house.

In its current state, the entirety of the town had received slashes that left gashes running throughout.

The atmosphere was the same. Accompanying the sound of tearing cloth, white lines cascaded in midair covering several meters. The next instant, those lines ruptured.

“—!!”

They screamed.

Comparable to the sound of applause, the sound of air rupturing drowned the surroundings; and the gusts of wind it raised echoed, the noise sounding like cheers.

The gashes assaulted anything and everything; the fragments that had been sliced off danced into the air, carried by the wind.

Because of clashes with the atmosphere, the portion of the town that had been sliced into faced further destruction. As if being crashed into by the waves of the sea, it was folded and crushed, cracked and burst. Embraced by the wind, the remains were blown away.

Yet it did not end there.

Even as they coalesced as waves, the air that had burst open had the duty of filling the vacuums they had left behind.

The air around the vacuums was stretched as if being torn into pieces before streaming in.

However, this too happened instantaneously. The air that accompanied this flow was cooled, wrapped by microscopic ice particles akin to mist. The next instant, it exploded in all directions.

Sound and fury reigned.

The space that had been sliced into was dyed white by the cold air.

The white faded into all directions as wind, creating a thin mist in the west of Mikawa.

Below it, within the village where the mist swirled, there were shadows.

Even as the wind howled, even as the atmosphere trembled, two figures stood within them:

Tadakatsu, who embraced the remains of Kazuno; and the figure of the young man facing him.

Tadakatsu avoided the spatial slicing and fell back toward the Shounai River. He held Tonbokiri up in his right hand and embraced Kazuno’s upper body in his left.

Someone was facing him.

It was a single young man.

He was tall and had short blond hair. His clothes fluttering in the wind were embroidered with the school emblem of Alcalá de Henares, the primary Academy of Tres España.

And he held a single weapon in his right arm.

It was a sword over a meter long and made of black and white metal. A cannon was attached to the bottom of the sword and the needle of the analog meter located at the joint between the two was pointed about halfway up from zero.

He held the weapon such that the sword was pointed down and the cannon muzzle was pointed up.

However, that gunblade had a single unique characteristic.

Countless lines of light ran up from the muzzle and created a single holographic figure.

That figure was a barrel approximately five meters long.

The light creating the barrel slowly thinned.

The young man checked the gunblade’s meter beyond the fading light and closed his eyes a bit.

“…”

He lowered the sword to the right and looked behind him.

There he saw the people Tadakatsu and Kazuno had defeated earlier. What appeared to be a withdrawal unit was supporting the injured men and helping them retreat. They were being commanded by a girl with two false arms.

She nodded toward the young man while holding a god of war pilot in one arm and a member of the assault team in the other.

The young man nodded back as she left and then he turned back toward Tadakatsu.

As Tadakatsu held up Tonbokiri and embraced the automaton, the young man opened his mouth.

“I do not recognize you.” He took a breath and spoke in a clear voice. “I am Tachibana Muneshige, member of Tres España and inheritor of the name ‘Velocidad de Dios’ Garcia de Ceballos. My battle style is Strike Forcer.”

Tadakatsu spoke up when he heard that name.

“The inheritor of the name Tachibana Muneshige who is said to be the Peerless in the West!?”

“Testament. I have also inherited the name ‘Velocidad de Dios’ Garcia for gaining a reputation as a mensajero. Also…”

Tachibana held up the hilt at the center of the gunblade which had a cross-shaped shield.

And he spoke.

“I have been given Lypē Katathlipsē, one of the Logismoi Óplo given to Tres España. I am one of those known as the Eight Great Dragon Lords.”

“Oh!” said Tadakatsu with a nod. “You’re really on-board with this!!”

“Tes.” Muneshige did not deny Tadakatsu’s words. His eyes were still slightly closed. “I apologize for arriving so late.”

When he heard that, Tadakatsu opened his mouth and, forcing blood from the scrape on his cheek, said:

“If you’re that sorry, how about you leave right this instant? But I guess that isn’t happening.”

As soon as Tadakatsu said that, Muneshige was standing behind him.

His movement had been instantaneous. Wind blew. That rough wind was proof that the young man had moved by at high speed. Low footsteps that also resembled a vibration sounded loudly.

And along with that wind and noise, Muneshige spoke.

“I must ask that you surrend-…”

He never managed to say “er”.

This was because the tip of Tonbokiri was thrust in front of his nose.

Multiple sign frames had already appeared in the air and Tadakatsu’s voice could be heard beyond Tonbokiri.

“Bind, Tonbokiri.”

Immediately afterward, the power of cutting shot toward Tachibana Muneshige.


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Study: The Internal Situation of the Far East


Toori: “Sis! Sis! This has gotten confusing, so quickly go over the current situation in the Far East!”

Kimi: “Heh heh heh. Foolish brother, I see you are forcing another troublesome task on me. Well, whatever. Make sure to rely on me, okay? This is more or less how it is.”


The Internal Situation of the Far East

  • Overview
WMD Disarmament
In the reservations prepared by each country, the Far East’s culture can be maintained; but they have little autonomy. (In each country’s provisionally-ruled territories, that country’s culture takes precedence.)


  • Territory and Government

-Independent Territory [Aerial City Ship Musashi]

The internal representative of the Far East.
The Testament Union actually controls it through restricting its route and interfering in the election of the king of Musashi and the Academy president.


-Neutral Territory [Mikawa]

The external representative of the Far East. Mikawa’s ruler negotiates with the Testament Union.
It is the representative of the Far East, but due to the Testament descriptions it is allied with P.A. Oda. As P.A. Oda has partially left the Testament Union, it is neutral.


-Non-Aggression Territory [Kyou]

As the emperor who controls the ley lines is here, it is off limits to not just the Far East but the other countries as well.
Kyou cannot interfere with the rest of the world.


-Managed Territory [Far East Reservations]

Reservations prepared for the Far East people by the other countries. They have little autonomy and are greatly influenced by the other countries.
Act as Musashi’s ports to the various countries.


-Provisionally-Ruled Territory

All Far East land not listed above falls here. These areas are under provisional rule by the other countries.
Looking at area alone, over 90% of the Far East is this.


Kimi: “Well, that is more or less it. Something exciting is going on in Mikawa right now, so this could be bad. After all, it stands at the top of the Far East; so if it starts a rebellion, the Testament Union might take away Mikawa’s authority and bring the Far East under its complete control.”

Toori: “Eh? Isn’t that bad!? Like, really bad!? Sis, I’m relying on you!”

Kimi: “Yes, yes. If there is anything your wise sister can do…”