Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 60
Chapter 60: Postwar Approval
If you say the past is important
And look only behind you
What happens to the present?
Point Allocation (Looking Back)
“You idiots! Why would you leave the commander!?”
A scuffle had begun on the deck of one large ship within the descending Tres Españan fleet.
They had already reached the ocean surface far below, but one white galley was spewing flames into the heavens while too high for them to reach.
It was Segundo’s ship and he alone remained onboard.
The other crew of the ship had boarded another ship to evacuate and that ship’s crew and the evacuees from other ships were confronting them.
“What are you doing!? Why would you leave him on a sinking ship!? And why did he destroy his own ship!?”
“We didn’t leave him! He said he wanted to descend on his own ship, so he sent us on ahead.”
The elderly generation and the middle-aged generation glared at each other and pointed up into the sky.
“He said he had forgotten something. You laughed when you heard it too, didn’t you!? You cracked a joke about how our commander hasn’t changed! That’s why you saluted to say you had his back!”
The surrounding people were left speechless at that and the other nearby people began to shout.
“We want to ask why…why he would remove us from the game board as much as you do!” He took in a breath. “We want to tell him the rules of the game don’t allow giving up by sinking your own ship!!”
Segundo sat cross-legged on the sinking ship’s deck.
The galley had caught fire. The other men who had descended ahead of him seemed to have noticed, but it was too late. The small-scale explosions caused by the fuel had already reached the inside of the ship and ether fuel was leaking from the bow of the ship as a mist. The buoyancy of the bow had risen, so the ship would eventually burn up or explode with the stern sinking down.
Even if the other men tried to return from below, they would not arrive in time.
Through the shimmering heat, he gave a nod to the now distant Musashi and his comrades down below.
“I’m sorry, but I have to let the world see this.”
This was not a part of the history recreation and it went against the Testament descriptions.
“I must show them that Tres España is willing to die and oppose the Testament descriptions when we have an objective we must achieve. If I do this as the old generation, those of the new generation can use it as a diplomatic card. They can threaten to use the same methods as ‘that foolish chancellor’.”
In other words…
“When the king vanishes, the game board is reset. I must make myself into ‘the old king’.”
Between him and the distant Musashi was the galley’s ram.
“We didn’t ram anyone or use the bow cannon here.”
He thought back to twenty-five years ago.
According to the Testament descriptions, the Tres Españan galleys used their rams against the Ottoman fleet in the Battle of Lepanto. In the recreation, that meant using the ships’ rams and bow cannons to destroy the Ottoman fleet threatening the Mediterranean Sea.
However, the history recreation had not been followed. The Ottoman fleet had had armored ships meant to form a wall in the center of their fleet and thus protect their primary force, but they had sent them forward to receive the galleys’ rams. Once the galleys had been stopped, the armored ships had been used in place of a fortress and the other ships had performed a pincer attack from the outside. The Tres Españan fleet had been outnumbered and unable to retreat due to their ramming tactic. They had still put up a fight, but…
…We were almost entirely wiped out. We sunk a lot of the Ottomans, but all of them but the armored ones were old-style ships.
The Ottomans had used the Battle of Lepanto to get rid of the old ships they had needed to replace anyway and that was how it had turned out.
Segundo thought back to what he had done back then.
The others had charged forward on the higher ups’ orders, but he had sensed something odd about the enemy formation and had lingered behind.
It was often said that he had survived the battle, but the truth was that he had not fought at all.
“But my comrades back then always said I was weak and that I had nothing going for me but my family.”
For that reason, he had told himself that he had always lingered behind and that battle had been nothing out of the ordinary in that regard.
However, the consequences had been unavoidable.
He had not been lost, but so many others had.
“On the battlefield, they would smile and tell me to leave it to them.”
Before leaving for war his wife had told him…
“ ‘We would be in trouble if you weren’t like that.’ ”
“I’m sorry. And I even promised to go to the falla together after I got back from the Lepanto.”
He lowered his head and spoke within the shaking and the sounds of the ship’s self-destruction.
“I’m sorry, everyone.”
He thought of a certain girl who had grown up wonderfully.
…I gave her nothing but painful memories, didn’t I?
He heard the flames reach the bridge behind him. The heat reached his back and the ship tilted all at once. The engine had likely been taken out and the buoyancy would be lost soon. But at the same time…
“This will mean the end of those painful memories.”
He no longer cared about himself, so he called out to someone else instead.
And he received a sudden reply.
“Did you call for me, chancellor?”
Segundo looked at the person standing before him.
She stood on the shaking deck between him and the Musashi which remained on its departing trajectory.
“Testament. I am here to retrieve you with the San Martín.”
She gave a definite nod in the shimmering heat and sparks.
“What do you need, chancellor?”
Juana had replied to the call of the man sitting before her, but…
…What am I supposed to do now?
She hesitated. After all, he had attempted to abandon everything, including his own life. It was nothing but complete desperation, but she understood that he had his own reasons in mind.
His past letters had given her a hint that he was keeping his distance from everything current.
She understood that anything she said here would not mesh with his current line of thinking, so she decided to not say anything more than necessary.
…Yes. Just for the moment, I need to avoid my usual harsh responses.
She reflexively replied as usual when he interrupted her thoughts.
“Please be silent, chancellor. I am trying to-…”
On the surface, she remained expressionless, but on the inside, she turned her back and ran about three steps away. When she hesitantly looked back at the man, he had the expression of someone waiting to be scolded. He was telling her to hurry it up.
…G-good. Thank goodness!
“Now, chancellor, let us return. The others have come to get you.”
Juana silently sighed at how she made it sound like she did not approve of it.
…Why did I turn into such a disagreeable woman?
But then he spoke up.
“But… If I return, it will harm Tres España.”
Juana understood that. If he returned, it would not create a new Tres España. It would instead create a Tres España that had renewed its aerial firepower but had still lost a war. With him in command, doubts would remain about their ability to command aerial battles and their firepower would be less useful as a card in diplomacy and trade.
“It is best for all of you if I am gone and everything is handed over to the rest of you.”
Juana just about replied to that line, but a thought stopped her.
…It’s so painful.
The next thing she knew, tears were falling down her cheeks. They would not stop and new ones joined them.
…Can anything be as painful as this?
“What can I do!?”
She replied to his question more loudly than she had expected.
“What can I do to make you care more about us than your past!?”
Despite thinking it was a lot like a fight between children, Juana clenched her fists.
“Are you saying the rest of us aren’t capable of recovering from any possible losses if you’re around!?”
She tried to wipe away the tears and found her glasses in the way, but she could not be bothered to remove them before rubbing her eyes and letting out a small breath.
“Will you not allow us to save you!?”
“Why are the people you lost still more important than me, who you saved? If you hadn’t saved me back then, would you have actually cared about me!?”
“I have thought about the person who saved me all this time! I want to assist him in the future. I want to help ‘mister’. And…”
“I want to be by your side!!”
“Why do I need to pretend to be who I used to be to talk with you? How can you save me back then but throw me aside now? Nothing…nothing could be more painful!”
She could not bear to look him in the eye. She felt she had merely let out what had been bottled up in her heart, but she also felt bad for growing so accusative when she had meant to save him.
She did not know what to do and she simply shed tears at the pain and her own weakness.
But he suddenly looked up.
She did not manage to reply before an explosion occurred on the bow behind her.
She was thrown into the air before a single thought could enter her mind.
A moment later, Juana realized she was lying face up on the hot deck.
“Are you okay, Juana?”
She saw him covering her with his own body.
She understood what had happened: he had pulled her toward himself, protected her, and saved her.
“I’m sorry,” she said blankly.
He smiled just as he had so long ago.
“This is all I can do.”
He said the same thing as well. That same exchange had occurred countless times after he had saved her and she now knew what it meant. This was the one thing he was capable of, so…
She embraced him from below, pulled him to her, and clung to him.
“Please! This much is fine, so please keep doing it forever!”
“This much was enough to save me!”
She did not let go and she lowered her head slightly to look him directly in the eye. She felt she was forcing this onto him, but if this was what it took to keep him from turning back toward the past, she would do it.
“Do you not like me? I asked the secretary about your tastes in women…and I did my best. I can’t do anything about my personality, but do you not like how I appear on the surface?”
“I…um… That stupid man… How inappropriate.”
“As repayment for saving me, you can do whatever you want with me.”
“W-wait. Let’s calm down for a mo-…”
While Segundo was struggling to find something to say, someone suddenly arrived from the side of the destroyed bridge.
It was Gin and she was looking around.
“Vice President, you need to bring the chancellor with you and leave. In another half minute or so…”
She froze in place when she saw the two of them. Segundo did as well, but Juana did not. She lifted her head and placed her lips on his.
He was clearly confused, but she did not let go. She clung to him and desired him by force.
After a few seconds, she took a breath and he frantically spoke up.
“Juana!? Oh, um, Gin. This is, well…”
“Testament. We can leave it at that.”
“That was fast! And wait, Juana! Th-this is hardly fair!!”
“Then,” said Juana while forcing as large a smile as she could manage. “Will you give us a proper answer this time instead of running off on your own?”
Segundo was left speechless and a ship appeared in the sky to the side. However, it did not appear by travelling through the sky. Its vermillion form appeared bow-first as if erasing a portion of the night sky.
“This is the San Martín, a Tres Españan stealth ship and the chancellor’s ship.”
“My ship?” asked Segundo as he stood up with Juana still clinging to him.
However, he soon shook his head.
“No, it isn’t. I gave the order to remove my inherited name and transfer it to you.”
“Testament. But when I later revealed my lie, you said ‘what was said here doesn’t count’, remember?”
“Testament. I did, but…”
He seemed to realize what that meant and Fusae used a cadena firma to speak from the bridge of the main fleet.
“You could ask just how much the ‘here’ of ‘what was said here’ covers.”
“That is the most convenient interpretation at the moment. More importantly, look at this.”
While still embracing him, Juana looked from the tilting deck to the eastern sky. The Musashi could be seen there, but its eight ships were taking a certain action.
“Testament. It seems the Testament Union has… No, it seems M.H.R.R. sent a notification to the Testament Union. They claim Musashi’s presence as mercenaries goes beyond what the Testament descriptions allow and that our arrival to rescue you means that the armada battle is not yet over.”
She just about summed it all up by apologizing, but she shook her head.
“At the very least, my lie has come to its end. But it is my turn to save now. And you please continue saving. This will merely bring us back to the original plan we made together. Isn’t that right?”
“So we’re finally back to this footage. The way England restricted it to audio left the events there almost completely incomprehensible.”
In a dimly-lit cathedral, Innocentius watched the conflict between the Musashi and the Tres Españan fleet on a widescreen cornice firma.
The others had all gone home, but the names of those connected to the divine chat were displayed at the upper right of the cornice firma. The one belonging to a woman named Olimpia lit up.
Pope Sister: “Brother, why did the Testament Union pass on M.H.R.R.’s notification?”
Pope: “That is the normal state of things. During a peaceful time with no meetings, the Testament Union is merely a communication organization.”
Professor: “Allowing Musashi to participate as mercenaries would be a problem for M.H.R.R. which forms its military with mercenaries. Their emperor is Catholic and there is a danger of Musashi siding with the Protestant principalities that wish for independence, so this could give their enemy a lot of firepower. During the Thirty Years’ War, Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. are enemies, so it seems Hexagone Française is firmly protesting this notification.”
Pope Sister: “You’re amazing, Professor.”
I knew all that too, thought Innocentius.
However, he checked the different nations’ reactions based on a list of notifications. He was most interested in England’s reaction, but…
“England is refusing to acknowledge the complaint about their use of Musashi as mercenaries, but I suppose they have no choice but to accept the continuation of the armada battle. If they don’t, we could claim the battle never happened and they would lose the advantage they gained by using the Musashi. M.H.R.R.’s notification really is cruelly made. To accept the use of mercenaries, the armada battle must continue. To not accept it, the battle is erased altogether. It’s all perfectly logical, but it’s so very like Hashiba.”
Professor: “Which option do we support?”
Pope: “The same as England. Since Hashiba is planning to invade K.P.A. Italia using the Far East’s history recreation, the option of hiring Musashi as mercenaries is quite interesting. Their religion is completely different which means they are not heretics, so K.P.A. Italia could hire them. And if Tres España manages to destroy the Musashi, that’s fine too.”
All that remains is seeing which side wins, thought Innocentius.
He went on to think about which one he predicted would win and finally gave a sort of conclusion.
Pope: “Tachibana Dousetsu, as the former Peerless in the West, how would you say your daughter, Tachibana Gin, is doing?”
Lightning Cutter: “Testament. She is still inexperienced and easily manipulated by strength, but I believe she is doing well enough. Muneshige’s arrival and my choice to leave seem to be leading to an excellent result.”
Pope: “Your adoptive son being badly injured is an excellent result?”
“Testament,” sent the Tachibana father.
Lightning Cutter: “Those with strength have a tendency to forget that they always have room to improve. If you recall, I displayed my skill as the Peerless in the West even after being rendered hemiplegic in an accident. Her husband is injured and she has lost both her arms, but…”
After the span of a breath, the former Peerless in the West continued.
Lightning Cutter: “Losing more while young seems to be the Tachibana style.”
Tres España’s main fleet and the Musashi’s eight ships faced each other at a distance of approximately twenty kilometers. They checked each other’s position, situation, and firepower.
Both sides had attempted to end the battle with normal fighting, but M.H.R.R.’s notification and the other nations’ harsh reactions were forcing the battle to continue.
This was due to the other nations – especially the Catholic ones – understanding what it meant for the Musashi to be used as a warship and diplomats had contacted Tres España to say their nations would support Tres España after the war if they sunk the Musashi.
The continuation of the battle had been directly caused by M.H.R.R.’s notification, but the other nations had seen it as a good opportunity to have Tres España and Musashi destroy each other.
Having accepted that decision, Tres España was holding a rushed meeting within San Martín.
The San Martín was shaped like a large galley and its bridge had a fairly low ceiling to make room for the giant low-speed cannon on top of it. However, that strengthened the bridge’s defenses and Juana currently spoke with a model of the battlefield in the center of that bridge.
She pointed at Tres España’s main fleet deployed south to north within Tres España’s borders and the Musashi which was within England’s borders to the east.
“The Musashi is partially destroyed already, so it should aim for a victory through recreating the Testament descriptions rather than a military victory. In other words, they will attempt to establish the battle with the retreating Tres Españan fleet at the final stages of the armada battle. In other words, they will attempt to force us to retreat.”
“What are the conditions for establishing that retreating battle, Juana?” asked Segundo.
“Testament. It will be established if the Musashi sinks one of our ships within our borders. That will be viewed as our fleet ‘fleeing back to its home and being sunk by its pursuers’.”
She took a breath and indicated the models of their fleet as if stroking them.
“If possible, I would have liked to send out a sacrificial ship to have sunk and therefore receive the fewest losses, but the Testament Union is monitoring us more closely than before. The Musashi is partially destroyed, so they can say they fought a battle, but we are unharmed and thus are seen as not having fought. I doubt just sending out a sacrificial ship would be enough for the Testament Union to accept the armada battle recreation.”
“My efforts only messed with your plans, didn’t they?” Segundo sighed. “It’s all ended up the way it was originally supposed to be, so now we have to be damaged as much as I damaged the Musashi.”
“What you did was not a bad thing, chancellor.”
Juana displayed a cadena firma that showed Fusae with the rest of the main fleet. Fusae shrugged, smiled, and continued where Juana had left off.
“That’s right. That damage to the Musashi means a lot. After all, it allows us to get off with less damage. While we do have to fight the Musashi again now, there’s another way of establishing the armada battle that’s quite convenient for us. Chancellor, you’ve realized what that is, haven’t you?”
Segundo sighed in response.
“Testament,” he said to everyone on the bridge. “Sinking the Musashi or having the Musashi fail to recreate the retreating battle would prove that the armada battle ‘happened’ much like how we ‘won’ the Lepanto despite losing so badly.”
“This situation came about due to the Testament Union’s instructions. If it leads to failure, we can say it was due to their interference. But they aren’t about to admit to their own failure, so they’ll create a convenient interpretation to say the armada battle was a success.”
“Testament,” agreed Juana. “We will achieve victory over the Musashi and to do that we will attack that partially destroyed ship. Our basic strategy is to use the main fleet as the ‘rear guard’ and have them fire from within Tres España’s borders. That long-range shellfire will guide the Musashi’s gravity barriers and other defenses to one side while the Santiago Caballero god of war unit attacks from above. The vice chancellor and the others will then board them from an open position and occupy one of the ships. The Musashi’s ships have lost their surface armor, so we do not need to think about the possibility of the Musashi ramming us. They also cannot use their stealth cruising while the chancellor’s chaff is still in effect.”
“Testament. It would be best to settle this while that remains true. But be careful, everyone. You can never know what is going to happen in a modern battle. I was taught that anew tonight. The people of Musashi tend to do whatever they want, so they can take a while to get moving, but once they do, they are quite frightening. Make sure not to let your guard down.”
As everyone on the Tres Españan side all replied “testament”, the people on the Musashi side were holding a quick meeting.
The main force of the Musashi was gathered on Musashino’s bridge, some through divine transmission.
On the Musashi’s bridge, conflict had broken out over the food prepared as battle rations.
“Hey, when did my milk get swapped out with curry!?”
“Um, did the yakiniku meals from my merchant’s office get sent there?”
“I think I saw our teacher eating them all herself.”
“S-stop that, Toori-kun! Don’t touch my shrine’s kudzu leaf meal ‘Leaf Me Alone’!”
“What? You just don’t get it, Asama! This kind of local specialty is the best! And Asama! Why does your meal have sake with it!? Is it fuel for your Shinto boob beam!?”
“N-no! It’s a local specialty! Just like you were saying!”
“Oh? So you like local specialties, Toori-sama? Then why not try this Blue Thunder specialty I made? It is called the Croq Bento. It is entirely made of butter croquettes, leather croquettes, and grass croquettes for three kinds of ‘croq’. They are all the result of choosing the best option, so it should be delicious. Even the clothing.”
“Wait!? I don’t think these are croquettes. They look more like impossible-to-describe fried foods.”
At any rate, everyone agreed to pile the Blue Thunder products in front of Toori and the meeting with the transport ship arriving from England began via divine transmission.
First, “Musashi” spoke while preparing some tea.
“I have gathered the opinions of the ship captain automatons and we have enough fuel for about three more short gravitational accelerations. Even if we attempted to use those to reach IZUMO from our current coordinates, the Tres Españan fleet would catch up to us in three hours before we arrived in IZUMO. Over.”
“In that case, we have to keep fighting. Balfette-kun, can you continue as commander?”
“Hmm… Well, I guess we don’t have time to switch over, so I’ll do it.”
The look in everyone’s eyes asked if she was sure and Neshinbara’s voice did the same.
“Can you handle it? If it would be too much trouble, I can take over while communicating with “Musashino”-kun and the other automatons.”
“No, no.” Adele gave a bitter smile. “I have some ideas about this and I need to repay you anyway.”
“Repay him?” everyone asked.
Adele looked at the sign frame sending in Neshinbara’s voice.
“When England’s three officers and Shakespeare attacked, the final direct weight was meant for me, but you took it instead. It wasn’t falling into the cargo hole that broke your leg. It was from looking after me. I’m sorry I never had a chance to say it before, but thank you.”
Everyone exchanged a glance and poked at the sign frame from England with their fingers or chopsticks.
“Someone’s trying to show off…”
“Heh heh heh,” said Kimi through the divine transmission. “This history nerd is trying to raise flags with all the glasses girls, isn’t he!? And he only just finished setting up a diary exchange with Shakespeare! His youthfulness is out of control!”
“That was more like exchanging malice. Besides, if Balfette-kun had taken a direct hit during England’s attack, Shinagawa would’ve been in trouble. That’s why I did it. But if I or anyone close to me had pointed it out, it would’ve sounded like an excuse, so I decided not to say anything about it.”
Everyone gave quiet and bitter laughs and Neshinbara must have heard because he sighed.
“Our overall goal is to achieve victory in this naval battle by establishing the Tres Españan fleet’s retreating battle, but here are some smaller goals leading up to that:
“Silence the aerial god of war unit.
“End the shellfire from the enemy’s main ships.
“Intercept the enemy’s landing unit.
“But the biggest one is this:
“Sink the enemy flagship, the San Martín.
“I expect the San Martín to show up if we push toward their main fleet to establish the retreating battle, so we need to crush it somehow.”
“From a Weiss Techno perspective, this is a pretty offensive strategy. Do we really have to fight that stealth ship?”
“Judge. After all, it managed to damage the Musashi. If we don’t crush it here, we’ll have to prove our military superiority in future negotiations with other nations. Also, Tres España is currently a top-level Testament Union nation. If we survive a clash with their aerial forces and even sink their flagship, it will greatly strengthen our position in the future.”
“Then do you have an idea of how the battle will likely progress?” asked Adele.
“Yes,” answered Neshinbara. “Their main fleet will primarily fire on us at long range and send their god of war unit in for an attack. If we make it through the god of war attack, the San Martín is sure to show up. Before that happens, we need to sink it or at least locate it and have a definite method of dealing with it. Only then can we make our way toward their main fleet. The Musashi can’t move until we’ve dealt with the San Martín. Moving will make it harder to locate the stealth ship by sound and prevent us from avoiding any shots it fires back at us. You need to rely on the gravity barriers for defense and work to locate the San Martín. Once we locate it, we’ve won.”
Once the two approaching sides arrived within fifteen kilometers of each other, they took certain actions.
First, Tres España’s main fleet began firing and fifteen fully-equipped El Azors from the aerial god of war unit were launched into the night sky from the standby chambers on the side of the aircraft carrier.
Meanwhile, the people on the Musashi took their positions on the deck while two people stood on Musashino’s bow.
Those two were Musashi Chancellor and Student Council President Aoi Toori and Princess Horizon.
With those two positioned in front, everyone else prepared for the coming battle.
While the Musashi pointed its bow toward the enemy’s main fleet to reduce the surface area that could be hit, the San Martín entered stealth cruising as if being erased into the air. The god of war unit approached through that now empty area of sky and the enemy ships’ first shots shook Asakusa’s bow.
The second armada battle had begun.
The Second Armada Battle
Toori: Sis! Sis! Everyone’s making a huge fuss over this second round, but I don’t really get it. Can you explain what’s going on!?”
Kimi: Heh heh heh. Fussy brother, your wise sister will explain it with a diagram. And since you probably want an outline of the ships at this point, I’ll add that too.
Top right: Battlefield Diagram
Line of ships: Tres España’s Main Fleet
Text: Once the Musashi locates the San Martín, it will ensure its safety and charge toward the Tres Españan fleet. Sinking an enemy ship in Tres Españan territory will establish the retreating battle.
Bottom right: San Martín in Stealth Mode
Bottom middle: The Musashi
Top left: Musashi Diagram
First Port Ship – Asakusa
First Starboard Ship – Shinagawa
Front Central Ship – Musashino
Second Port Ship – Murayama
Second Starboard Ship – Tama
Rear Central Ship – Okutama
Third Port Ship – Oume
Third Starboard Ship – Takao
Toori: So for now we’re just floating around, huh? But the San Martín sure is considerate! If it spelled its name a little differently, it’d sound pretty dirty!”
Kimi: The name isn’t in Far Eastern, so there’s nothing dirty about it.
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