Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 63
Chapter 63: Donators on the Mound
It is always after the fact
That you realize
It was important
Point Allocation (Receiving)
The wind ripped through and the mist danced about.
The moons were visible in the sky and their pale light illuminated all. Down below, a boy faced a boy and girl.
They were Noriki and the Valdés siblings.
The mist surged like waves and scattered, but the brother and sister took their pitching poses. The sister threw underhand with her right arm while the brother threw overhand with his left arm.
“A three-pitch game?” asked the brother. “We will be trying to hit you with all three. But what will each side give the other if they lose?”
Noriki lowered his stance as he answered.
“If you win, I’ll smile. I won’t smile.”
“Testament,” agreed Pedro, the brother.
The sister raised her eyebrows.
“We’ll make you smile five times as much as my brother always does.”
“Sister, there isn’t enough time in a day for that. I am seriously worried about your poor arithmetic skills.”
“Call it math,” replied the sister while she and her brother continued their pitching motion.
A glowing mist came from the Holy Spell charm activators attached to their waists and enveloped them. The brother spoke first.
“We of the Bungo Navy and the Watanabe family offer a prayer to the saint of sailors, Saint Elmo.”
The sister bent and twisted her body in response.
“Mouse ‘El Fuego’ – Receive.”
Cross emblems opened in the space between them, on the backs of their hands, on their elbows, and on the other connected parts of their bodies.
“Oh, holy flame. Put the wind to our back, our target in front of us, strength in our shoulders, and a will in our hearts. Please let us remember our strength and bring light to the darkness even if there is no light in the heavens.”
“Yes,” they both nodded. “Burn, oh flame!!”
They both released their bodies. It looked less like they were throwing the metal balls and more like they were stretching themselves a step forward. The foot they brought forward rang out as they slammed it to the ground. The cross emblems over their bodies burst and flames flew from the two metal balls they threw.
“Go, magic ball!”
As soon as they shouted, a certain phenomenon occurred: the two balls vanished.
A metal ball suddenly appeared right in front of his chest.
And it hit.
Flores, the Valdés sister, saw the enemy knocked backwards. While still doubled over, his back broke through the barricade of wooden containers behind him and he rolled along the deck afterwards, so Flores swung down her clenched fist.
“Strrrrrrrike!! Batterrrrrrr out!!”
“Sister, you have gotten quite good at rolling your r’s recently, so I’m beginning to wonder if you have become a resident of Hexagone Française. Also…”
“Also?” asked Flores as her brother prepared to pitch again.
She understood what that movement meant.
“Look, sister. He is not out.”
The enemy had stood up. It was not quite to the point of casual, but he shook his head, rolled his shoulders, and slowly but surely stood.
Flores wondered how it was possible, but he reached into his work vest and pulled out a metal panel that had bent by about seventy degrees. Her eyebrows slowly rose when she saw that
“Do you put those in your pants and shoes too when working in dangerous areas?”
“If you understand, there’s no need to explain it.”
He threw away the metal panel and took a stance again. However, this stance was different.
“Oh?” muttered her brother.
The enemy was turned to the side with his left shoulder leaning forward. His center of gravity was pushed forward onto his left knee.
This stance left little area for their balls to hit and allowed him to thrust his fist out in a straight line.
Flores understood he was serious now, so she prepared for her throw. She made the same motions as her brother but from below and the cross emblems appeared all over her body.
All the while, she kept the enemy in the center of her vision.
“Burn, oh flame!!”
While looking to starboard, Horizon saw Noriki slammed into the barricade once more.
She sat on a cushion she had brought to the bow and she produced a cup of tea from her storage space.
“I have determined life does not progress as one wishes.”
“How many cups of tea did you stick in that space, Horizon?”
“Amazingly, it preserves the heat. I have determined it is a surprising ability.”
She reached behind and passed a new teacup to Toori.
“Roasted tea! Horizon, did your love circuits have you guess my must-have favorite!?”
“Oh? So your favorite is the same as the shop owner’s? Like mother, like son. She must have influenced you.”
“D-dammit. You just have to find a way to defy me, don’t you!?”
“Quiet,” said Horizon.
She was watching the broken barricade where Noriki stood back up, even if he was unsteady on his feet now.
“Are you sure this is not a problem?”
“Judge. Noriki’ll be fine, so don’t worry. When you work in construction on the Musashi, falling from double-digit meter heights is pretty common.”
“That is not what I meant. Should we really leave this fight to him?”
“There’s even less reason to worry about that.”
Horizon tried to listen to Toori’s reasoning, but the idiot reacted to her silence instead.
“U-um, are you mad that I kind of talked back to you there? Are you mad? Are you legit angry?”
“I have already told you countless times that I do not have the emotion of anger, so I will omit that explanation here. Now, please continue.”
“I think I’m losing confidence in myself as a student entertainer… Anyway, you don’t have to worry about Noriki. It’d be rude to him if you did.”
“Yeah.” Toori sat casually next to her, rested his chin on his hand, and looked toward the battle. “Ever since he came here as a kid, he’s worked every day.”
“My memories do indeed contain observations of that scene at least a few times.”
“See? Anyway, that’s naturally given him some pretty decent physical strength. But it’s a lot of work for him to support his family on his own, so we never invited him to this kind of commotion.”
“Once we entered the second year, he was always there with us. I’m sure he’d thought up all kinds of excuses, but we could tell. He wanted to hang out with us just as much as he wanted to work and support his family, so it’s just stupid to ask if it’s a problem for him to be here. If it was a problem, he wouldn’t be here in the first place.”
“Just watch, Horizon. We’ve got the perfect seats here.”
Pedro, the Valdés brother, saw the enemy spit bloody saliva to the deck.
He had lost the metal panel from his vest, so the damage had to have gotten through.
“Brother, we would’ve been in trouble if we hadn’t noticed.”
“Testament,” agreed the brother while truly meaning it. “He took a step back at the instant of impact.”
With the first hit, the enemy had memorized the timing with which the disappearing magic ball reappeared and he had taken a step back just after they had thrown the balls.
But the step back made it harder to hold his ground. That was why he had leaned forward to help hold his ground as much as possible.
“That was an excellent decision, but we’ve seen this method countless times. Right, brother?”
That was right. They had fought many such people in the past and so the Valdés brother spoke to Noriki.
“We set the magic ball to reappear one meter back from your stance. That is why it scored a direct hit despite you stepping back. Do you understand now that your efforts here are wasted?”
“They are not wasted,” said the enemy. “A method either works or it doesn’t and thinking about when it doesn’t is not worth my time.”
At that, the sister glanced over at her brother.
Neither the first pitch nor the second had scored an absolute direct hit. That had been made clear with the second pitch.
The enemy had hit them with his fist.
Of course, he had not gotten in a perfect hit. After all, they were reappearing less than thirty centimeters in front of his chest, so he was unable to fully extend his right fist for a clean hit. The real reason he had stepped back for the second pitch was likely to have room to extend his arm properly.
But even if they were not clean hits, his fist had still touched both pitches.
He had deflected them, but the first pitch had hit the right side of his chest and the second had hit near his right shoulder.
That difference in location meant something.
…His timing is improving.
If a foul ball flew directly backwards, it meant the timing had been spot on. The second pitch had been close to that.
“Let me warn you,” said the enemy. “I understand the trick behind your vanishing magic ball. I’ll punch it next time.”
The brother prepared for his pitch without turning to his sister.
The enemy’s spell strengthened his punches and had a dispel effect on an opponent’s spell that it recognized. In other words, he would see through their magic ball system and then score a hit. This enemy was close to being their natural enemy.
“Sister, there are no intentional walks in a three-pitch game.”
He continued his pitching stance and the enemy pulled back his fist.
The boy turned to the side and raised his forward leg.
…That’s the flamingo batting stance!
He would take a step forward as he made his strike. He revealed his intentions ahead of time, but he received his maximum strength in exchange. He was planning to take back the strength he lost in the dedication of the first and second pitches.
Splendid, thought the brother.
No one would face them back at home and very few other people wished to face them even in battle, so it was wonderful to have an idiot willing to go all out against them like this.
“Sister, if we are true baseball players, we must respond in kind. Give this your all and I will do the same.”
The two of them simultaneously launched their pitches.
Noriki stepped forward with a throbbing tempo in his support leg.
It resembled the timing of his pulse, but a moment later…
His foot crashed onto the deck and he launched his right fist.
He twisted his entire body, bent his knees, and slightly raised his lowered hips.
As the Valdés siblings entered their follow-through, they reacted to his quick step forward.
That meant one thing.
He could not step back and hit. And if he moved faster, he would be able to hit.
As if to say he understood, Noriki added in more speed. His left arm was pulled behind and its elbow shot up above his back and his right leg kicked off the deck behind him.
He forcefully spun his body forward.
He moved toward empty space, but his fist tore into that emptiness. He twisted a half rotation more than usual to increase the force of his punch which he sent…
With the sound of shattering glass, light scattered between him and the Valdés siblings.
A moment later, something else appeared between them: two metal balls.
One was a high line drive and the other one was on its way to hop up from below.
As the two began to overlap, Noriki punched the one coming from below.
And he hit.
…He punched them at the point of unification!? Well done!
The Valdés brother saw the ball he pitched hit the barricade over the “batter’s” shoulder.
And the ball his sister had pitched was hit back at them.
This was the result of the enemy fully seeing through their magic ball.
Part of him could not believe it, but a part of him had known this moment would come eventually.
Their magic ball made use of the donation of charity that was mentioned in the Testament. As a way of providing what they had in excess to those in need, the two of them would simultaneously “donate” the ultimate pitch to their enemy.
…But two simultaneous pitches is not the best donation for them.
The enemy could only receive one pitch at a time because a donation that would fill both their hands was not allowed.
That was why the siblings combined the two with a spell. The spell caused the two trajectories to cross and the paths and strengths of the two balls would combine into a single “donation”.
This spell pitch was only possible with a brother and sister who could perfectly match each other’s timing.
Also, the pitch combination occurred in a dedicated space created by the spell.
As a result, the single pitch would appear at the point of intersection where the two pitches had been altered into the optimum pitch.
And the other would be returned as if to say it had never happened.
The brother looked to his feet. The balls he had supposedly thrown during the first and second pitches lay there.
That was because the optimum pitch had used his sister’s ball.
This was not because he was trying to make her look better. He had always helped her out in little ways.
…But that is why something has started feeling off in my left shoulder.
He had not told his sister because the timid girl might very well quit pitching if she knew.
However, they had been defeated just now. He had had a bad feeling when their enemy had deflected the second pitch upwards.
That had meant the boy was targeting his sister’s ball that rose up from below.
He had unnecessarily removed the metal panel from his work clothes after the first pitch, but that had likely been to check the angle the pitch had hit him from. And if he worked in construction…
…When he was fixing the city behind him, did he research the buildings our pitches hit!?
A splendid enemy, thought the brother.
The boy had almost certainly shown up specifically to face them.
…I doubt he could have smiled even if we had won.
Meanwhile, the ball that was hit right back at the pitcher flew toward his sister.
She was standing there in a daze, but he could protect her by shoving her out of the way. However…
The brother took action.
Horizon saw the result.
“Noriki-sama has lost.”
As she watched, the Valdés brother had brought the game to an end.
He had used his left hand to stop the ball Noriki had hit back and Toori muttered what that meant.
“He’s out with a line drive catch. But…
“Brother! Your hand!”
Blood was spilling from the dominant hand he used to pitch. Catching the metal ball with his bare hand had caused a few nails to practically burst off the hand.
“Kh,” groaned the brother while forcing the corner of his mouth to rise and raising the ball in his hand. “Victory goes to our magic ball!”
“Judge,” muttered Noriki.
The Valdés brother turned to Tama with his sweat scattering in the wind.
“Captain Takakane! It looks like this is as far as we can go!”
The Valdés siblings’ ship forcibly removed its anchor from the Musashi.
The Musashi was already raising its speed, so the small ship would be knocked away at any moment. The other ships also removed their anchors.
“The bombardment team will begin pursuing the Musashi! Fight well, the rest of you!”
As the ships left all at once while battered by the wall of air, Noriki raised a hand down below. Blood was flowing down from the gauntlet on his right hand and he pointed at the Valdés brother’s raised left hand with that bloody hand.
“If you start now, you can still make it in time for the next Olympics.”
The Valdés brother nodded and spoke while vanishing into the distance.
“Keep an eye on the daily newspaper’s sports section.”
“You just lost your covering fire. Are you sure you want to continue? We have also sent out one of our uncontrollable Technohexen.”
Takakane shook his head at the merchant’s words and he looked to the bridge ahead of him.
“You’re the one that’s in trouble. You’ve only got 300 meters left.”
“As long as I defeat you, the distance makes no difference. …None of this is going to make any money.”
“Then are you gonna stop fighting?”
“No.” The merchant shook his head. “If Musashi wins here, it will be a good business opportunity. As long as we collect the Logismoi Óplo, money will come pouring in for me. What a wonderful time to be treasurer.”
“Even though your ships were damaged and your people injured?”
“None of that has anything to do with money. Damage to the ships and injuries occur due to the strategy we use, the actions we take, and the situation we are in, but that also means they will not occur in certain situations. However, the situation known as battle assures that money will pour in for me. Yes, I love money, so this is wonderful.”
“You really love gathering money, don’t you?”
The merchant lowered his hands and expressionlessly replied to that question.
“Make no mistake. The best part about money…is spending it.”
With that, something flew from both the merchant’s hands.
Takakane reflexively held his long bat in both hands to block them.
Two solid sounds later, the two objects were lying on the ground.
“Ten yen coins? How cheap can you be?”
“I wanted to use one yen coins, but Heidi insisted that would lower our store’s reputation.”
“That’s a hell of a way to maintain your reputation.”
“Don’t say that,” said the merchant while flicking more coins.
He sent them up and down this time to target Takakane’s head and legs.
“That ain’t gonna cut it.”
Takakane rotated the long bat vertically and two more solid sounds filled the air. The two deflected coins once more fell to his feet.
“My defense won’t let anything through. I’ll knock it all to the ground in front of me. This is how I attack too. My role as vice chancellor is to perform the ultimate squeeze play.”
“So you love loss. I find that difficult to fathom.”
“Don’t say that,” said Takakane as he began to run forward.
The merchant flicked two more coins at him, but…
“That attack isn’t gonna work on-…”
His words were stopped by two loud blasts.
Takakane stopped running and lowered his hips.
…What were those impacts just now?
Two ten yen coins lay on the ground before him, but white smoke was rising from his bat. The smoke came from the heat caused by the friction of the impacts.
“Did you use an acceleration spell on the coins like Technohexen do?”
“Technomagie is a relatively effective system of spells, but it cannot compare to the magic of money.”
The merchant brought his hands together as if praying and a clear sound rang out.
“Take a look at this.”
He pressed his hands together, lightly snapped them, and then spread them to either side. Between them, sign frames appeared with the same density as pages in a book.
“These are the contracts of all the students participating in this battle.” The merchant looked toward Takakane. “These say that one-tenth of the student’s attack power used in this battle will be supplied to me and, in exchange, I will pay them an amount equal to one-tenth their pay. On top of that, I have used a merchant’s distribution spell to divide that power among all of my coin attacks. This process requires the power to pass through several spells and gods, so the strength drops by about 50%, but…”
The merchant opened the side cover of his side tail and pulled out a small pot. He held it under his left arm and stuck his right hand inside up to the wrist.
“This is a money safe with the inside space expanded. When I need to clear my mind to think, I simply stick my hand inside and let it swim through the ocean of money. But at the moment, it is the storage space for the bullets among which I have distributed my attack power.”
Takakane held his bat up defensively while the merchant waved the hand inside the pot as if to brush something away.
This launched around a dozen coins at high speed.
“According to the Testament descriptions, the Far East had a tradition of throwing money outside in order to drive off evil. And in ancient times, spirits of the dead and the like were apparently referred to as ‘oni’. Can you stand up to this oni-repelling attack?”
“No man wouldn’t like being called an oni!”
Takakane swung his bat and began repeatedly knocking down the merchant’s bullets. Solid sounds and the glimmer of coins continually bounced up from the ground and he slowly made his way forward.
“We’re out on the ocean, so this isn’t Far Eastern airspace! We’re in the land of the oni now!!”
|Back to Chapter 62||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 64|