Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 50
Chapter 50: Left Out in a Place of Gathering
Is to give your all for them
But you are actually relying on them
Point Allocation (Self-Confirmation)
The days until the armada battle passed while the participating nations prepared.
England used the festival to gather materiel and deploy troops to the coastal regions.
Tres España performed joint training for suppressing the English fleet while primarily training the Grande y Felicísima Armada.
Musashi was quickly arming its ships, training those in charge of the armaments, and working with “Musashi” to take a second look at its cruising system.
“Musashi” suddenly stated one piece of good news to Sakai.
“I have completed the analysis of the sound produced by the flight of the low-speed cannon shell that damaged the Musashi. Praise me. Over.”
“Oh, how manly, ‘Musashi’-san. Are you in a good mood today?”
The sound that had been extracted via process of elimination from “Musashi” and the other automatons’ massive memory was highly accurate, but they did not know what any alterations or the initial firing of the shell sounded like.
As such, they could not detect anything until the shell had already been fired, but the Musashi’s gravity barriers could be instantly deployed if it was detected at close range. Overall, it was being viewed positively.
“Musashi’s” analysis had revealed two things.
First, Tres España’s stealth technology was primary stealth which cut off sound, light, and ether reactions. To locate the ship after the cannon was fired, Musashi had put together a specialized detection team. Modifications to Asakusa and Shinagawa were complete, but they were being kept under individual stealth to allow the detection team to train.
Also, they had been able to predict the size of the ship that possessed the low-speed cannon and the stealth system. It was apparently a Jormungandr Class at around 800 meters long, which put it at roughly the same size as K.P.A. Italia’s Regno Unito. The details on the San Martín, Tres España’s flagship in the Testament descriptions, were not yet known, so they predicted the ship in question was the San Martín.
After gathering all that information, Mitotsudaira and Adele worked to put together a strategy.
“For some reason, I feel like I’m only coming up with defensive ideas and you’re only coming up with offensive ones, Adele.”
“Do we subconsciously know what it is we lack?”
For that reason, the planning headquarters became unofficially known as the “Lacking Headquarters”. They simplified and standardized the chain of command and form of instructions in the early stages to have a groundwork to handle the increased numbers of instructions that were sure to come later.
At the same time, some volunteers were gathered who would satisfy the ‘desire for self-destruction’ found in the Living Dead of England. A system was created to judge the aptitude of those volunteers.
However, that aptitude test was not meant to eliminate the inadequate people.
“From the beginning, they will be given a role as an attacker or defender and they will be divided into individual units,” explained Mitotsudaira. “That way, we can use everyone without any waste and we can ensure the quickest action with the fewest instructions. This is the method of a national army like the one Hexagone Française is beginning to develop.”
Throughout the day, she would help with trade or hold chain of command training. During the night, she would hold combat training with Naomasa and eat yakiniku. Despite the full schedule, everyone stuck with her. They all gathered for yakiniku in the name of a strategy meeting, the female teachers joined them, they fought over the food, and they ultimately caused the supplier to fear the acts of mankind. At the morning assembly the next day, Shirojiro and Heidi lectured them all.
Meanwhile on the political front, Masazumi and the queen held a few meetings together.
They discussed the mercenary contract with Musashi as well as some other things.
“England will promise the following things after our victory in the armada battle:
“First, England will return the Logismoi Óplo until after the Peace of Westphalia.
“Second, until that Peace, England will not ally with another nation for the purposes of attacking the Musashi.
“That should become the standard for other nations as well, so what do you think?”
That would require Musashi to provide support for other nations on the level of the armada battle when receiving their Logismoi Óplo, but Masazumi smiled and agreed. She then spoke to the queen who seemed doubtful.
“During the armada battle, Shakespeare will use England’s Logismoi Óplo to protect England, after all. And once the battle is over, we can negotiate some more.”
Musashi was giving a concession, but she had a few ideas of her own such as connecting the two nations’ divine transmission lines because the Musashi would be part of England during the battle.
Time passed as many others took a variety of actions, prepared, and trained.
While a large crowd was gathered for the closing ceremony held at the end of the morning on the final day of the festival, word arrived that Tres España’s Grande y Felicísima Armada had left port with no sign of its flagship.
The festival was hurriedly cleaned up and most of England’s major players had already left by the previous day, so the city felt quite empty as the day passed and evening arrived. To avoid giving away where to attack, a blackout was in place, but something large could still be seen moving.
It was the Musashi.
After the normal Musashi citizens were sent to IZUMO under escort from Hawkins and Cavendish, the Musashi shook England as it activated to leave port as England’s flagship.
However, a certain commotion occurred within the Musashi. Before continuing to their individual posts, everyone had gathered on the bridge in front of Musashi Ariadust Academy and a dependent sounding voice shouted out.
“Wh-what do you mean, Margot!?”
It was Naruze and she was currently trying to grab at Naito’s collar.
“Why can’t I join the battle as a part of Musashi’s Technohexen unit!? Is it because I’m useless!?”
When she heard she was not authorized to join in the battle, Naruze felt a weight pressing down in the bottom of her heart. It was a cold weight and it threatened to make her tremble if she let her guard down even slightly, so she spoke to eliminate it.
“Why!? Tell me! Is it because I haven’t trained enough!?”
Her heart grew icily cold, but her mind was filled with heat. She wanted an answer and she did not understand if her question was wrong, if she had not asked enough, or what.
“If it’s my wings, l-look! I can move them properly now and I can fly! Margot, you were the one that healed me, weren’t you!? So why are you telling me to stay inside!?”
She saw Margot smile with the ends of her eyebrows lowered.
“No, um… Ga-chan?”
She knew what Margot was going to say. It was the same thing she had said before.
“You’re saying that isn’t it, right!? But if that’s all you say, how am I supposed to understand!?”
Tears started welling up in the corners of her eyes, but she did not care. She took a breath and a step forward, but Margot stepped back. She did not want the other girl to run away, so Naruze took another half step forward.
“Is it because I’m weak!? Is it because I’m useless without Weiss Fräulein!? Is it because I’m just a burden on you!? Is it because I always lose and people insult me on the divine network, so you don’t want me to drag your reputation down!? Or…”
“Is it because my father…”
As she spoke, Naruze saw Margot’s expression change.
Her smile vanished and her eyes opened wide. Her eyebrows rose a little and she seemed to want to say something.
However, that expression gave Naruze an internal smile.
…Good. I got a different reaction.
It was Asama who spoke up and Naruze and Margot reacted at the same time.
They held their breath and something happened to the joy rising inside Naruze.
She belatedly realized that she had begun to say something terrible. A hole opened inside her joy, that hole filled with regret, and it all chilled the depths of her being even further.
But, she thought. Without even realizing it, I’ve become completely hopeless.
She had lost Weiss Fräulein, she was a burden on Margot at work, she had been useless and lost during the attack on the Musashi, and she had disgraced them by letting Tres España save her during her duel with one of England’s representatives.
By the time she had woken, the Musashi had been about to leave for the armada battle.
…But she says I should just rest.
It was true that she had not accomplished anything and would only trip people up on the battlefield.
“Do you not need me anymore?”
Had the battlefield developed to the point that she could not handle it? Was she now useless and only a source of worry despite her previous relationships?
“Are you saying…this is for both our sakes?”
“No, Ga-chan. Um…”
“That isn’t it, right? But… That isn’t it!”
As soon as she shouted out, Asama’s presence arrived from the right using the gap created when she took a breath. Naruze’s shoulders trembled and she took a half step away. She turned toward Asama and found her motionless with the ends of her eyebrows lowered, but Naruze could not grasp the meaning of that expression.
Her only thought was that Asama would advise she back down and that thought brought on another thought.
…If she does that, it will mean leaving Margot.
Margot would leave. In some unknown place, she would interact with some unknown people and on a deeper level than with her. That was likely a good thing for Margot, but…
“I don’t want that.”
“How much… How much do you think I’ve done to spend my time with you?”
So if the alternative was to be called useless…
“I don’t mind. Even if I have to act as your shield and die, I don’t mind as long as it will keep you alive.”
…Do you understand? Would anyone else go that far?
“I’ll do anything. Even if it means being beaten to a pulp or killed, it would be for you.”
As soon as she said that, something struck her left shoulder.
She felt careless for focusing so much on Asama to her right, so her caution and reflexes mixed together.
She turned around and found brown hair dancing through the air.
It was Kimi. The girl twisted her body and then untwisted it.
A slap accompanied by a tornado sent Naruze flying.
Asama reacted to both Kimi’s action and the sound she heard.
She gave a stiff mental comment and looked up at Naruze flying through the sky.
…Do big breasts increase the power of tornado strikes? Oh, but that probably won’t help with my bow and arrow, so I guess I lost out there.
As she thought, Kimi grabbed Naruze’s collar and forced her to her feet. Naruze seemed unable to react, but that was likely more due to the surprise of the strike than any pain it caused.
“You aren’t my brother or my sister.”
Kimi brought her hand back to slap the other cheek. With a clear sound, Naruze began to collapse to her knees, but Kimi would not allow it. She gathered strength in her hips and lifted her back up.
“So I’ll leave it at this.”
She pinched both cheeks and pulled.
“Hyah!” said Naruze. “Ouhhhhhhh!!”
“Ouch” became “ouh” because she could not close her mouth. Kimi partially closed her eyes to glare at Naruze’s face while pulling her cheeks even farther to either side.
Despite Kimi’s gaze, which was better described as deep than sharp, Naruze was undaunted.
“Wh-wha ih it?”
As soon as Naruze wrinkled her brow and spoke, Kimi brought her face to Naruze’s.
Before everyone could give noises of surprise, Kimi opened her lips a bit and lightly bit Naruze’s upper lip. There was a clear sound of tearing flesh and Naruze’s six wings bristled and rose.
Kimi then released Naruze’s shoulders.
Naruze fell and sat on the floor. The small amount of blood from her upper lip flowed into her mouth.
“They say drinking some warm milk can calm you down, don’t they, Asama?”
“How about you ask yourself instead of me?”
However, she understood what Kimi was trying to say, so she answered.
“Milk has similar properties to blood, so warming it up and drinking it can remind you what is flowing through your own body.”
“Oh? I was trying to say it represents a mother’s milk, so why are you giving the safer answer to protect yourself, Asama? We aren’t talking about cows! We’re talking about people! It’s philosophy!”
“What? You’re blaming me for ruining this!? Doesn’t the blame lie with the one who appointed me as director!?”
Everyone told her to calm down, so she and Kimi gestured for them to quiet down. On top of that, she looked at Kimi who stood in front of Naruze.
Kimi was looking at Naruze as the girl sat limply on the floor. She did not look down on her, but she did not lower herself to Naruze’s level either. The lightly crossed arms and the smile on the corner of her mouth were just her normal behavior.
…She only matches the height of her gaze when speaking with Toori-kun.
Asama wondered if she did with Horizon as well and decided to pay more attention next time.
Kimi then spoke to Naruze.
“Listen. I understand you’re on a losing streak and you’re getting desperate, but the battlefield isn’t a place to clear your name. Right now, you’re underqualified for the job.”
“Kimi! Kimi! You’re using some of those phrases in a wonderfully wrong way!”
“You’re being a bit confusing yourself,” cut in the others, but Asama ignored them.
Kimi danced to avoid answering Asama, so they were no different.
“At any rate,” said Kimi. “What was it you told Naito just now?”
Naruze reacted with silent eyes that looked both expressionless and hostile, but Kimi only raised the corner of her mouth.
…Naruze knows she can’t do anything.
Naruze was glaring at Kimi because nothing she did or said would change this, so she had no other choice. There was no reason to respond to the glare and no reason for Kimi to alter her own pace.
“Listen. You told her, ‘I’ll do anything. Even if it means being beaten to a pulp or killed, it would be for you.’ ”
“After all, that means if you died or were beaten to a pulp, it would happen because Naito was there.”
Naruze had not intended to listen.
An unpleasant girl stood before her. She had to admit she had known the girl for a long time, but she had little desire to be actively involved with her in any way. She could only get along with that girl by keeping her distance.
That was why she had simply thought she had to keep her distance from what that girl said.
No matter what the girl said to her or did to her, it would not change that she had been deemed unfit to remain in the place she wanted to be.
Of course, it would solve everything if she no longer wanted to be there.
…But that isn’t possible.
The fact that she could not accept this was her own fault.
But that was why she had no intention of giving in. No matter what was said, she had decided not to abandon her defiance. After all, abandoning that would be resigning herself to the goodness of the others.
However, she heard Kimi speak.
“Listen. You say you’re willing to be beaten to a pulp or killed for Naito’s sake. But then if you do die or are beaten to a pup, it means your death or injuries happened because Naito was there. If Naito had not been there, you wouldn’t have been hurt or killed. And what would you say to her then?”
The unpleasant girl stopped smiling as she spoke.
“ ‘Margot, I may have been hurt and killed, but it was for you.’ ‘I died for you, so rejoice.’ ‘But I was only beaten and killed because you were there, so remember for the rest of your life what it meant for that to happen to me.’ ”
She took a breath.
“Another thing, Naruze. Did Naito ever ask for your help? You aren’t helping someone who asked for it, so when you say you are saving her or helping her ‘for her sake’, you are being terribly insulting. It means you view her as someone who is lacking without your help. It is either one-sided charity or something you are forcing on her. You are simply trying to gain a temporary sense of superiority over the people who have the bare minimum of pride in being able to survive on their own. They are doing their best to survive, but you take that from them with an insulting sense of superiority and yet you pass it off as kindness.”
“If you are going to do it, say it’s for your own sake. Or perhaps because you can’t forgive yourself for being unable to save anyone. Forcing that on someone may be hypocritical, but at the very least, don’t expect any thanks for it. On that note, what were you thinking?”
“You were expecting the greatest reward of all. You wanted her to keep you by her side because you were doing it for her.”
The girl did not even give a bitter smile. She simply spoke in an indifferent tone.
“Do you think you can be with someone just because you devote yourself to them? That’s an insult to love.”
Naruze was not sure if her shout was directed at the unpleasant girl or herself.
If she was going to give a shout of rejection, what had she been doing up until now?
Naruze thought in a daze.
What had she been thinking and doing?
She had given a rejection to Kimi and herself, so she felt as if she had completely eliminated her feelings for Naito and the defiance supporting her.
After far too long, she began to tremble and tears filled the corners of her eyes.
She tasted blood and wondered if she was sensing that strong iron flavor because her tension was vanishing. However, that hinted at what was happening inside her.
“Everything is going away,” she muttered.
She tried to cover her face with her hands, but a sudden voice from behind stopped her.
“Sis! Sis! Can I ask a question here!?”
“Heh heh heh. Foolish brother, do you have something to ask for your wise sister’s Indiscriminate Lecturing and Bombing Corner? What is it?”
“Well,” answered the idiot. “Is it wrong to do something for someone’s sake? Is it really that terrible?”
“What’s this? Foolish brother, do you want a serious discussion?”
“Hmm.” Toori tilted his head and raised is right hand. “For example, when I’m playing porn games, I always have an ulterior motive when I’m working to win the girls.”
“But when you fail to win them, it’s because of that ulterior motive, right? Just make sure you save regularly.”
“Oh, that’s right! So my question was the true end! I guess that settles everything!”
“Don’t end this yet!”
Asama thought a bit about what Toori had asked and then huddled together with the others.
“I ended up chaotic, but Toori-kun actually asked a surprisingly decent question.”
The others nodded and turned toward Kimi as she shrugged.
“Well, when you aren’t asked to do something, you’re generally doing it for your own sake. It’s wonderfully egotistical, but human history has prepared something convenient for the ego beginners who find that too difficult.”
Asama caught on because it was something often prayed for at the Asama Shrine.
It was something human history had created that one could channel their ego into.
“Eros!! Heil eros! What a wonderful fusion with German! A hail of eros! It’s raining eros! Everything is for the sake of eros! Well done, mankind!! Let it wash over you!!”
“N-no! You’re supposed to say love or peace or something like that!”
“C’mon, Asama. Who would give a serious answer here?”
“Asama, you really can be boring sometimes.”
…I’m at fault here!? And does that mean I’m usually interesting!? Why!?
She had a lot of questions, but she felt responsible here and thus needed to correct this. She was embarrassed to speak again after that, but she did so while blushing.
“U-um… Basically, i-if you do it for l-love or…”
The two siblings nodded in unison.
“Asama-san, I can’t hear, so speak uuuup.”
She prepared her bow and the two ran away. She used that chance to take a breath and speak.
“So, um. Those things don’t have misunderstandings or their own thoughts like a person does. They’re formless and they have no responsibility or rewards. They’re also important to people, so I think it’s safe to use them as a driving force.”
Asama was proud of how well she had rattled off something that sounded straight out of the shrine’s collection of example sermons, but then she heard the others whispering.
“Are we being deceived here?”
“It is true that shrine maidens have persuasion spells.”
“And wasn’t this about me? Why is everything progressing so much without me?”
The comments annoyed Asama, but Naruze actually had a point.
She looked down and saw Naruze sitting on the ground with drooping shoulders. However, that was not due to dejection. She exhaled as if to let out everything that had built up inside her.
“What is it, Ga-chan?”
“It would be a problem to hold almost religious faith in a Technohexen, wouldn’t it?”
Naito momentarily looked to the others. The others exchanged a glance with her and for some reason Kimi gave a gesture of sticking something out from either side of her chest, but that was the behavior of a crazy person and could be ignored.
Naito merely nodded in response.
“I’m not sure I would call it a problem, but I might blush.”
“I can’t have you blushing because of my misunderstanding. I need you to answer who I truly am.”
“Do you need my help?”
Naito shook her head.
“No, not as you are right now, Ga-chan.”
Naruze lowered her head with the flavor of blood on her tongue and she felt that was not a bad answer.
“Judge. That’s right. I want you to give me what I want, but then we wouldn’t be equal and it would all be over.”
“Judge. I’m always the same way. After all…”
Naito sat down next to her as she spoke. It felt like forever since they had looked each in the eye from the same height, but that was likely because Naruze had been keeping everything so one sided.
But Naito did not abandon, slap, or the bite the lip of her partner. She only gave a calming smile and similarly calming words.
“We are the Zwei Fräulein because we stand side by side, not because we help each other. And you know the Far Eastern characters used to write the name, don’t you?”
“U-um, there are two crotches and then women surrendering to them… Um, it’s a metaphor! Only a metaphor!!”
“Ga-chan, I think you’re getting back to your usual self pretty quickly.”
“What’s wrong with that?” asked Naruze. “And will we always stand side by side, no matter where we go or what we do?”
“Didn’t we become Zwei Fräulein in order to make that happen?”
It could be a problem just how positively and conveniently Naito tended to view things.
However, there was important meaning in going along with it now.
…If she’s handling it like this, it means she’s trying to remain with me.
So Naruze decided to trust her without abandoning the dissatisfied part of her own character.
“Then…I’ll put my faith in that. A Technohexen has faith in her nickname, right? That has to be the best option for me.”
She took a breath, held up her right hand, and spoke to Kimi who smiled down at her.
“I’m too unsteady to stand thanks to a certain idiot hitting me, so can you help me up?”
As Naruze stood and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, the school’s front entrance opened and someone stepped out.
Everyone turned toward the person.
“Oriotorai-sensei, what do you need? If it is alcohol money, I can provide some on certain conditions.”
“Shirojiro, I’m afraid of any conditions you might give. But that’s not it. Um…is Tenzou here?”
Everyone exchanged a glance and Toori spoke up.
“Everyone! Everyone! How cruel can you be!? Just because Tenzou’s plain is no reason to not notice he’s missing!”
Everyone glared at the idiot until he curled up on the ground in a corner of the bridge.
“Good, good,” commented Oriotorai as she held an envelope up for everyone to see.
It had already been opened and she showed them the letter inside.
“This arrived in the faculty room from Tenzou, so take a look.”
To Whom It May Concern,
How are you enjoying your time in this world?
The Apocalypse is approaching, but I have recently been living a plain...a fulfilling covert life as a ninja.
Today, I must ask permission to drop out of the academy for personal reasons.
As I do not wish to cause any trouble for all of you horrible people, I must ask this one thing.
Also, the Black Death still remains in this time period, so keep an eye on your health.
Everyone lined up next to each other and spent a few seconds reading the letter.
“Doesn’t that old-fashioned way of speaking get really annoying?”
“He could’ve just rewritten that third line. Does it bother him that much?”
“Calm down, calm down.” Oriotorai closed the letter and looked across her students. “Listen. Do something about this before we leave port. (Point Allocation: Wasting Friendship)”
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