Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 64
Chapter 64: Stubborn Ones of Both Nations
Is hopeless without that?
Point Allocation (Breakthrough)
Paintings were made on the battlefield.
They were hand-drawn with fairly rough strokes.
The subjects of the paintings were varied and the canvas was the battlefield itself.
Whether in the air or on the deck, sudden strokes would rush through and paint something. It could be a river, a sun, a forest, a wall, or a stone-paved ground.
However, the painter was not within the painting. He needed a spot where he could overlook the area being painted, so he was in front of the fleet of small Tres Españan ships that had landed on the rear starboard end of Tama.
The painter who held a long paintbrush and had what resembled a large wing or feather next to him was Velázquez.
His job was to protect the small ships behind him. An interception team from Musashi would occasionally approach, but he would always raise his brush and speak.
“It’s easy to mix the colors wrong at night, so don’t get too close.”
He would then swing the brush made by the Sakai business named Sakai Store. The reinforced art tool was a high-quality product that could handle differences in perspective. One had to allow the brush to learn their art style and create an accurate representation in the painting, but as long as that was done…
“The paintings act just like the real thing.”
He painted a pond beneath the feet of one defense unit and the eight students fell in with a splash.
Once his comrades returned or tried to escape, he would paint a bridge or net to gather them. Making a slide they had to use for an embarrassing retreat would also be fun.
As an artist, he was the rear guard. That was his role. Once they crossed Tres España’s provisional border, he could activate his Testamenta Arma, but he had no plans to actively fight.
…I’ve always been like this.
Twenty-five years before, he had been recruited for the Battle of Lepanto, but he had preferred painting to fighting.
Lope de Vega, who would later make a name for himself as a playwright, and Cervantes, a great novelist, had also been in his unit of delinquents.
…We would drink and party every night with the commander and the others.
“We would talk about how we were going to be big in the future.”
…Should I lament that most of them are gone or smile because we’re still alive?
“With Lope, Cervantes, Takakane, and me…how many of us are still working?”
Takakane and Fusae had died, yet they were still working.
Almost everyone else was from a younger generation. Being long-lived made the others seem even younger and he felt a need to help them out.
There’s a lot we’ve got to do, he complained to himself while a rumbling came from the distant center of Tama.
Someone had started to fight and most likely with one of Musashi’s main fighters.
“Honestly,” muttered Velázquez. “Live a full life, all of you.”
The color black soared through the night. A bluish-black Technohexen accelerated through the moonlight.
She was Margot Naito and she used her Verstärken Schale broom to roar straight toward the enemy fleet ahead of her.
She had already crossed Tres España’s provisional border.
Sporadic anti-air fire came her way, but the relative speeds and distances prevented them from perfectly targeting her much smaller form. The cannons were mostly meant for gods of war and other ships, so they were not quick enough to follow the movements of something as small as a Technohexen. Another anti-air method was to cover an entire area with ether cannons, but…
“Schwarz Hexen have plenty of reduction spells to use against that and we have spells to detect ether cannon blasts.”
Due to the persecution from the Tsirhc religion, Technomagie had a lot of spells specifically created to oppose Tsirhc spells. Those were a part of the common Technomagie that were learned before splitting between Weiss and Schwarz.
That training was also meant to make sure magical “curses” could not affect you.
“But I never thought they’d be useful in battle.”
She opened a small speedometer Magie Figur that appeared over her right eye.
It was a piece of perception Technomagie that displayed predictions of the paths of the distant fleet’s shells and ether cannons.
It was one of the common Technomagie spells called “A Thread of Longing for One who Dislikes You”. It was too small to capture anything not directly in the user’s vision, but with the fleet in front of her, it would use less auspuff than any other spell.
Suddenly, “A Thread of Longing for One who Dislikes You” displayed red text.
There was a large ether reading ahead of her. The actual object was god of war size, but the ether reading was much larger.
…This is Kraken-class.
As soon as she thought that, something blasted through the sky up and to the left.
It was a field and path made of ether. The scenery was somehow nostalgic and Naito recognized what ran through it.
Fusae brushed a hand through her hair in the wind as she stood on the female god of war’s shoulder.
As Michiyuki Byakko ran, its internal OS created a wheat field in the night sky.
She watched with a smile as countless cadena firma appeared and dealt with the structure.
“You sure are well-made, Byakko. I wonder what kind of people made you? The different parts can be taken off and repaired, but no one can touch the automaton-style self-improving OS.”
Its artificial brain seemed to be based off an automaton’s, so this was a semi-autonomous god of war that could make decisions and predict actions on its own. It was like a mechanical creature that she only had to give general guidance to.
“Good, good,” she said while stroking Byakko’s head.
For just an instant, she looked to the sky down and to the left and she saw a black wind quickly moving behind her.
“A Technohexen? I’d like to get back at you for blasting our team members before, but I’m worried about Taka and the others. I’ll be arriving right at the time limit, so I wonder if they’ll be leaving or if they’ll have it occupied.”
A cadena firma appeared as if to answer her.
“We can intercept their attacks, so you help out the captain and his group!”
“Tes, tes,” she replied while correcting the diagram of the fleet’s path that the team members had sent her. She made a note about leaving space for the people currently away on the Musashi and attached a small sketch of her head with her signature.
She then placed her hand on Michiyuki Byakko’s shoulder and faced forward.
The moonlit Musashi lay before her.
It was not unharmed. The many attacks it had received had likely damaged the internal frames of the smoking ship so that it started to tilt.
As proof of that, the bows of Asakusa and Shinagawa would occasionally shake as if they had been struck by a wave. The warping of the internal frames was creating periodic shaking. If she could see the shaking from her distance, the internal movement had to measure at least several meters.
…They shouldn’t have forced the ship on for so long.
Even if they could continue to fly the ship, the damage would not disappear. The shaking and warping of further movement would only add on more damage. Once it got bad enough, the ship would fall apart.
That meant they would try to finish this quickly.
…They’ll take any gamble as long as it will end this quickly.
They were in a state of desperation.
“But I’m still impressed they made it this far.”
Most likely, they could only use their gravitational cruising twice more. The ships with the outer hulls expanded were also shaking. She suspected they would wait to use it until they were in danger and needed to escape, but that would be in exchange for damaging the expanded outer hulls. Also…
…The two remaining San Martíns are pursuing them from behind.
The cannon fire she heard now was those two ships firing low-speed shells at Okutama.
Fusae realized she was frowning as she looked toward the Musashi that had endured so much and dragged the battle this far along. She then once more began to think about the reason the Musashi was so desperate and so solidary.
“What is this? Calling it a nation doesn’t quite capture it, does it?”
The word “academy” did not quite fit either. Neither did “club” or “team”. What was this desperation and solidarity? She felt Tres España had the same thing, but she also felt theirs was not as definite as Musashi’s.
…What is it?
As she thought, she and Michiyuki Byakko approached the Musashi.
“Michiyuki Byakko, board the Musashi from above the second starboard ship. We’ll act as the rear guard for Taka and the others.”
She had the god of war run up a slope. The distant ship that looked like a city caught up in war would eventually be directly below, but that was not her destination. She was headed to where her beloved person was.
“Let’s bring this to an end, Michiyuki Byakko!”
Battles, sounds, and vibrations continued on the Musashi’s deck and in the air.
However, a giant entered a large, dimly-lit space surrounded by all that shaking. This giant wearing a vermilion armored outfit was Jizuri Suzaku and Naomasa stood on its shoulder with her false arm.
With the vibration and sounds of shellfire behind them, Naomasa had Jizuri Suzaku quickly advance.
“Hiro! Bring out Suzaku’s equipment! I just got word that they’ve sent out Michiyuki Byakko!”
“What? Then hurry to my hanger! I just finished the proof, so I’ll put together the equipment for you! I haven’t slept for almost a week, so go get some results!”
She’s all over the place, thought Naomasa with a bitter smile as she had the god of war walk inside.
The dimly-lit area to the left and right contained metal hangers. This was where the gods of war waited on standby, but the others had all already left and the maintenance crew was waiting around for refueling and armor replacements.
A short girl in a lab coat was waving her hand in the very back.
As Naomasa approached, the girl, Mishina Hiro, put on a soundproof headset.
“I’ll be making a few slight adjustments, okay?”
“I do like how you always give the final check despite your habit of rushing things.”
“Ah ha ha.” The girl in a Qing-Takeda Kakura Academy uniform shook her ponytail and turned her back. “That’s what Grandpa Taizou taught me to do. Anyway, Masa, about Jizuri Suzaku…”
She trailed off and Naomasa sighed before making sure no one else was focusing on them.
“After repairing it and seeing inside, you understand why I can’t leave it to others, don’t you? I probably won’t have time to insist on that from now on, so I’ll leave it to you.”
“Judge. I’ll take good care of it. To be honest, there’s a lot I don’t understand even after messing with it.”
“Judge.” Hiro nodded and activated the hanger’s motor so it opened with a dull noise. “It’s a handmade machine using parts someone scraped together, so it’s full of differences from the normal gods of war people buy. It has no manual and, even if the basics use the standard methods, I can’t make sense of the other parts. …I’d really like to do a closer examination at IZUMO.”
“Actually using it comes first. …You’ve finished, haven’t you?”
“Judge. While modifying it, I tested it out a bit in a simple virtual space, so prepare yourself.”
Hiro gave a large yawn before finishing.
“I think you can get at least one good hit in on Byakko.”
Shells struck the Musashi as it travelled through the night sky.
The two San Martíns pursued it from behind and the god of war squadron was still firing on it.
At first, the defense units had tried to focus on the starboard side where battles were being fought on Tama, but the god of war squadron had moved to the port side and the San Martíns had also started concentrating their fire on the port side.
After confirming that the defense units were stuck where they were, Adele spoke up.
“Move the defense units on Musashino’s back half to Tama! Everyone else, please take care of your assigned posts!”
After giving her orders, she thought about how to handle what was to come.
…We only have about two minutes until we reach the enemy’s main fleet!
But they would cross the provisional border before then. Neshinbara had predicted they would enter within range of the main fleet’s attacks a minute after that, so the Tres Españan landing unit on Tama would likely leave before then.
…But instead, Tres España’s main fleet will be firing on us.
The closer they got, the greater the density of that shelling and there was a simple way of summing up what that meant.
“The danger rises and our odds of victory drop.”
…In that case, what can we do to raise our odds of victory?
As she thought, the darkness outside suddenly bothered her. It was dark enough to clearly see Tres España’s cannon fire in the distance. Darkness was only natural at night, so she wondered why it bothered her so much.
She realized why.
Adele stood up and spoke to the automaton next to her.
“Please clean the ships! The Holy Spell chaff is disappearing!”
“Musashino” and the other automatons looked outside in unison.
Due to being individually locked down, they had been slow to notice the change to the outside world.
From what “Musashino” could see, most of the Holy Spells caught in the air currents had vanished and only those attached to or caught on the ships’ surfaces remained.
If they swept those away, the automatons would be able to use their shared memory and that would make the coordination and control between ships much easier.
However, “Musashino” shook her head.
“No, it cannot be done. Over.”
Adele’s eyebrows dropped at that declaration. “Musashino” statistically understood that meant disappointment, so she lowered her head and continued.
“I apologize, but sending out personnel to clean would affect our operation of the ships and I have determined that would put the Musashi in danger. Over.”
“Musashino” saw Adele scratch at her head and “Musashino” determined they had let down the one who was attempting to make use of them.
At that point, a sudden voice came from behind as someone entered through the bridge’s door.
“In that case, ‘Musashino’, what if someone else took over for the personnel who would be sent out to clean? Then the chaff could be eliminated without issue. Over.”
These were the words of an automaton. Specifically, of the one automaton that ranked higher than “Musashino”.
“ ‘Musashi’-sama. Could you explain what you mean by that? Over.”
Adele also turned toward “Musashi” who stood just inside the rear door.
“If someone else took over for what the automatons do? Who will be taking over and what will they be doing?”
“Judge. I refer to the external information processing. As we cannot currently use our shared memory, the observations are being made based on the personal memories and decisions of the individual ship captains while also exchanging opinions via transmissions and manual labor. However… Judge. To be blunt, there is someone who can far outdo our speed and accuracy even at our best.”
“Musashi” took a step to the side and indicated someone else standing there.
“That person is Mukai Suzu-sama. Over.”
Suzu had been brought to the bridge, but she had not been told why.
The surrounding automatons were busily moving about and she had decided to stay still, but then she heard someone speak behind her.
“Judge. Suzu-sama, I will be connecting your Izumo-made Noise Neighbor perception system to the Musashi’s external information. That includes sound, gravity, heat, etc., but we will focus on the sound and attempt to eliminate as much noise as possible. …Will you try it for a moment? Over.”
Suzu nodded and sensed Adele nodding toward her.
…How will this work?
She could not see, but she could perceive what was around her to a certain extent even without her Noise Neighbor object perception device. She did so through sound, wind, scent, and heat.
…But isn’t that…something anyone can do?
Nevertheless, “Musashi” spoke.
“Suzu-sama, you were the first to notice the existence of the third San Martín earlier. And based on what you said, I believe you had more or less noticed the existence and location of the first and second ones. However, it was far too obvious a thing to you and you were unaware of our strategy and countermeasures, so you assumed everyone else already knew. Over.”
“Um, Suzu-san? Can you hear where the San Martíns are now?”
“Judge,” affirmed Suzu. The sounds of the shells were approaching, but she could tell where they came from. “Here and…around here? Yeah. They’re…far away, so I can’t…tell very well.”
She pointed to the area behind her head. The sounds of shellfire were loud, so she thought this was an easy question. Not only did the entire Musashi shake each time, but she could tell the shapes of the San Martíns and gods of war flying around.
“Musashino” took a step back for some reason.
“We can only reach a conclusion about echoing sounds after a thorough examination, so we cannot reach an immediate answer. I have determined this is a difference in our conjecture policy having to do with priority and estimations. Over.”
“Judge.” “Musashi” could be heard pulling out something like a long thread. “Judge, Suzu-sama. I will be attaching the cable. There is also a diagram of the Musashi in front. Can you use that to point out the locations you sense? If you do, we can add the indicated location to our battlefield map. Over.”
Suzu nodded and tilted her head to the left to point Noise Neighbor’s connection port toward “Musashi”.
After a small and solid sound, she felt the weight of the connection and returned her head to normal.
Adele saw Suzu suddenly raise her hands to her face and tremble.
The nearby chair fell over, but she stood up on her tiptoes.
She trembled and touched her own face as if to confirm the shape of her own body.
Suzu spread across the sky.
She suddenly felt as if she were not standing on anything at all. She next perceived the sea and sky continuing on forever in front of her, but she soon focused specifically on the sea down below that surrounded everything.
She subconsciously took a step back and felt a soft sensation on her back.
“Eh? A-a clean cushion?”
“Judge, Suzu-sama. This is ‘Musashi’. I am supporting you, so do not worry. I took the liberty of scanning your nervous system and I see your perception stretches in every direction. Over.”
Suzu did not understand what that meant.
“My body can…touch anywhere? And hear anywhere?”
When she tried to touch something with any part of her body, she could feel it. The same went for heat and sound. When she walked, she could feel the movement of the air on her back and head and the dirt beneath her feet. The light of the sun, the coolness of the shadow her body cast, and the chill of the damp ground were all things that reached every part of her body.
And sound came from everywhere. So why?
“Is everyone else…different? You aren’t…are you? I…I can’t see… I’m…lacking…in that way, but…”
“That doesn’t mean…I can sense this…more than everyone else, does it?”
She heard Adele’s voice to the left in the sky. The other girl could see her, so Suzu tilted her head and Adele spoke.
“W-we can all sense the same things you can. I-it’s just…u-um, you sense it a lot cleaner than we do! Because we’re all so filthy! Our hearts are clouded!!”
Suzu did not entirely understand, but it seemed how she sensed things was useful. That made her want to help, but she also laughed at Adele’s strange way of saying it.
“That was mean.”
“No, no, no. This much is perfect! Anyway, um, Suzu-san? Please help us out.”
“Right,” answered Suzu.
She wondered what the sensation in her heart was. It was possible that her own ability was truly necessary. It may have only been taking over a role someone else usually filled, but…
…I can trust that I have this ability, right?
It was not the size of her ability that mattered. It was whether she had it or not. So…
She faced the vast world beginning with empty space and spoke to the people there.
A short break arrived as Suzu helped on the bridge. The automatons were already working to clean away the chaff, but that was why a gap occurred until everything was shifted over to Suzu.
“So I need to eliminate as many of the enemy attacks as I can.”
Asama stood on the front starboard end of Takao and faced the Tres Españan fleet to the north.
She had already finished setting up Umetsubaki and was completing her follow-through.
She had fired an arrow. The large double arrow flew into the western sky. One of the arrows provided a special effect and the other one attached to the top allowed it to break through barriers. It was heavy and could not fly far, but…
“What do you think Shinto spells are for!?”
She gathered strength in her green eye and watched the accelerating arrow along with Hanami.
She nodded and sounds of destruction came from one of the Tres Españan ships in the western sky.
The double arrow had scored a direct hit and destroyed the defensive spells applied around it.
A cramped room with a low ceiling was surrounded by windows on three sides and had a bridge on the exterior of either side. It was the bridge of Ship 12 in Tres España’s main fleet and it shook due to the enemy attack they had been unable to stop.
The twelve square meter bridge had divine transmission and command equipment lined up along the windows and the man with a captain’s armband asked what had caused the ether light that had burst in the sky ahead of them.
“What was that attack!? Does the Musashi have a weapon with enough accuracy to hit at this range!?”
“Testament! It was their gunner shrine maiden! She temporarily reduced and eliminated the defensive spells around the ship. The lower arrow of the double arrow seems to have had a spell allowing it to penetrate low-level barriers.”
“What effect did the upper arrow have!? It wasn’t a fire spell, was it!?”
“Testament. I have detected no reaction in the ship’s firefighting spells, so there is no danger of explosion or fire!”
“Then what was it?”
The captain and everyone else tilted their heads and the ship’s alarm began sounding perhaps due to the temporary lack of defensive spells.
Warning signs with crosses began flashing on the message boards and divine transmission boards.
The captain sighed and instructed the navigator to end the warning.
“Was that meant as a warning? Or was she serious but didn’t manage anything more than a warning? I guess the infamous gunner shrine maiden isn’t all she’s cracked up to be. Look up the address of her shrine and send a divine text saying ‘thanks for the warning’. Then continue firing.”
Everyone laughed bitterly, but the control officer looking down at the stake-like arrow said something.
“Huh? That stake is hollow…and made to come apart.”
Confused, everyone focused on him.
“It was empty? Did she forget to put in the explosion spell?”
“I was thinking we would’ve been in trouble if it had hit the window, but if it was empty, the window’s defenses might have been enough.”
They all laughed and more laughter joined them.
“Ha ha ha! Isn’t it great that this didn’t turn into a disaster!?”
A pink naked man stood at the center of them all.
None of the people on the bridge knew how to react to the sudden turn of events and the naked man gathered the rest of his body that was leaking in through the ventilation as a gas. Once he finished, he raised a hand and showed off his white teeth.
“Good evening! I am no one suspicious! I am Itou Kenji, an obscene spirit known as an incubus! I have visited your ship this evening to make friends!”
“Um, so that stake was…?”
“Yes! I was crammed inside with a friend of mine! Now! Let us begin the friendship ritual!”
Itoken suddenly reverted to gas and the navigator frantically spoke up.
“What do you mean the friendship ritual?”
“Ha ha! I said I am an incubus, didn’t I!? We will of course be absorbing each other’s life force!”
All of them exchanged a glance before crying out and rushing toward the door or hitting the switch on the wall for the holy water sprinklers.
However, those that touched the door and those that touched the switch reacted in the same way.
The door’s keyhole and the sprinkler switch were filled with something sticky.
Neither would move and the sticky substance spoke.
“Trying to leave after a special envoy of friendship has arrived? How very rude! But do not worry! I, Nenji, shall lend a helping hand for the sake of our mutual friendship!”
Asama’s shoulders drooped as she listened to the voices coming from the sign frame next to her.
“Now, everyone! Follow Brother Itoken’s lead! It’s time for incubus exercising! One, two, one, two. Now with the person next to you! Okay, make a proper circle there. Oh, you need to put in a little more effort. Or do you need me to instruct you in Españan? Why are you crying?”
The screams could likely be heard the world over.
…I’ve helped with something horrible.
Then again, she had initially planned to fire a shot straight through the bridge. However, that would have caused a variety of problems, so she had gone with Kimi’s suggestion.
“See you next week in your hometown!!” said the voice on the sign frame.
…Are you announcing your future crimes?
Hanami tried hitting Asama’s lowered head to cheer her up.
At any rate, Asama looked into the distance and saw the enemy ship filled with screams had stopped firing. Also, the other ships were afraid of meeting the same fate as their fellow ship, so they surrounded themselves in walls of light.
They had strengthened their defensive spells with a focus on physical attacks.
…But that means they can’t fire as freely as before because they have to make sure they don’t destroy their own barrier from the inside.
That lowered the frequency of the shellfire. They would probably start firing again once they reached a stable position, but this still created a gap and Asama hoped it was enough to let Suzu get started.
Asama corrected her posture and spoke to the others.
“The rest is up to you.”
Suzu thought on Asama’s words.
…Asama-san is relying on me.
During writing class, she had relied on her, so it was time to pay her back.
Suzu sensed what lay before her.
She was borrowing the Musashi’s senses, so the sensation of the world spread out around her.
Waves covered the ocean as far as she could sense and the sky contained ships, clouds, and the wind.
…Here, here, and over there.
“Ship, wind, coast, cloud, sound.”
To her, everything in the world resembled some form of pain. Pressure, heat, and sound would all hurt if they were strong enough, so it was a little strange for that sensation of pain to continue on forever. The wind right next to her was connected to the wind far away and she could touch both those identical pains at the same time.
It was like lying in a futon. One could feel a warm sensation in their head or cheek at the same time as feeling the same sensation in their feet. The never-ending ocean was the bottom of the futon while the sky and wind were the blanket placed over her head. She was where her head was, but she could still touch the ocean and sky by her feet. After all, that painless pain was there and her senses brought it to her.
She understood it all. The sounds of shellfire were like a strong pain, but she could feel and hear a lot of it.
It’s like lightning, she thought. Yes. It feels a bit wrong, but I like thunderstorms. When I told Toori-kun, he said he did too, so maybe the world is painful for him too.
There were sea birds, what she guessed was a whale, and more and more.
Adele saw something unbelievable.
Suzu was smiling and creating a world with the ether light model.
She laid out the sea down below, lined up the Musashi and the enemy ships in the air, and occasionally shifted the location of the gods of war as if she had just noticed. To the south, she used stroking motions of her hands to create the northern coast of the mainland as well as the cities, villages, mountains, and rivers there.
Her fingers added clouds in the sky and she drew ribbons indicating the lines of wind. When handling a stealth ship, she hesitated for a moment which indicated it was not perfect even with her in control, but otherwise…
As Suzu happily created that world with a smile, “Musashino” spoke in a daze.
“She is perfectly perceiving everything within a range of thirty kilometers with only a slight margin of error. Over.”
The meaning of “perfectly” was likely a little different here. Automatons would carefully examine the entire area, so if they tried to perceive the ocean, they would be distracted by the movements of the waves and they would try to grasp everything about the changing sounds.
But Suzu clearly understood how to appropriately select what information to gather and what to let slide.
Adele then thought about the world taking form at Suzu’s hand.
Suzu was often in the academy’s reference room. The chancellor had pointed that out during writing class before.
According to Suzu, she enjoyed it because the reference room contained a lot of teaching materials she could touch with her hands. From that point on, she had always been in charge of searching for anything in the reference room.
However, that room naturally contained a certain large object.
…A 3D map of the Far East.
It was the size of several desks and was difficult to get out the door. If Suzu spent time in that room, she would have touched that map quite a bit.
“That means she’s memorized the shape of the Far East with her hands.”
As Adele muttered to herself, Suzu finished creating England and let out a breath. Adele thought she was done, but the girl then approached the model of the Musashi and smiled as she created something on Musashino’s bow.
Why am I not surprised, thought Adele as she looked at another model. It was of a Technohexen leading the wind toward the Tres Españan fleet.
Naito was about to reach her destination.
Naito soared through the night.
The anti-air fire had already grown denser and some spells and homing bullets were being fired now. The best way to deal with that was to…
…Come in from below!
Most aerial ships floated in the sky using a virtual ocean just like the Musashi did. Some used wind instead, but most used an ocean because the water also helped with defense and firefighting.
But that meant most ships did not have any weapons on the bottom.
Standard practice was to use homing bullets for anything below the ship.
That was why Naito checked on the enemy ships’ lines of fire and made her way down below them.
Whenever a homing bullet arrived, she immediately activated a defensive spell. The homing spells used motion or shape recognition, so if she reduced the light and vanished into darkness for an instant, most of the homing bullets lost sight of her. She was already wearing black, so it was easy for her to blend into the darkness.
…Now where’s the enemy ship I’m after?
She spotted it.
The enemy fleet had started to split to the left and right, but one ship in the very back had yet to move.
That mechanical phoenix aircraft carrier had an important reason to remain facing the Musashi.
As the Musashi approached in a straight line, the aircraft carrier could send out high-speed attacks with the phoenixes’ large stakes.
Of the surviving phoenixes, one was being taxied. Once preparations were complete, it would be launched for its attack on the Musashi, so Naito had to stop it.
Her targets were the flight deck and that first phoenix. If she could manage it, she would also target the bridge. But to attack the ship from above, she needed to ascend while evading the anti air fire.
And so she did so. She slipped between the shells and spells, passed through the gaps in the noise, and rose toward the twin moons.
Once she arrived, she looked down at the long flight deck and suddenly noticed something odd about her surroundings.
…They aren’t firing?
The aircraft carrier was preparing to launch the mechanical phoenix, but the enemy was not attacking her. Wondering why, she looked around and noticed all the shellfire was directed at the Musashi.
She tilted her head at why they were ignoring her and she looked back down.
As soon as she did, she sensed something massive behind her.
As she turned around, a god of war flew toward her.
During the early stages of the battle, a few of the gods of war had been intercepted and damaged.
They had supposedly returned to their ships, but the one behind her had its right arm hanging limply as proof of its damage.
She remembered it. It was the one whose right side she had fired through.
To a human, a shot to the right side would have damaged the arteries and severed the nerves and the limp right arm was proof of that. The pilot should be in need of emergency care.
“Is that not enough of an injury for you to fall back until the battle’s over!?”
She understood that this god of war was targeting her specifically. It had likely hidden below the aircraft carrier and circled around when she had ascended.
…That’s the same method I used earlier!
She was already attempting to evade. She used Schwarz Fräulein as a shield, raised her butt, and tried to drop straight down.
But she was too slow. She had opened an attack spell, so she was unable to open an acceleration spell quickly enough.
She thought that for a variety of reasons as the charging god of war swung its left arm at her. With one arm out of order, it could not keep its balance while holding a weapon, so it attacked barehanded.
The steel fist cut through the air as it flew her way.
It struck her like a lariat and she tumbled sideways through the air.
Schwarz Fräulein broke and the black Technohexen bounced through the air.
She went limp and fell to the depths of the night. Above her and beyond Schwarz Fräulein and its broken schale, the god of war saw her go limp, scatter feathers, and sink down.
On the Musashi, the members of the defense units were struck by a few different types of attacks.
Tres España’s landing team attacked them on the starboard side, the San Martíns fired on the port side, the main fleet fired on the front, and the gods of war attacked the entirety of the ship.
Not a single spot of the ship could go undefended.
A student yelled out from a defense unit on the starboard side that switched between firing from behind cover, charging forward, and defending.
“Can we really keep up this defense!?”
The enemy had arrived within eyesight of Tama’s bridge.
The enemy was in a bit of a hurry, but the defenders could not let them through. The loss of even one of them seemed dangerous as the boy shrank back from the enemy’s attacks. And that fear allowed the enemy to advance.
“I’m so pathetic!” shouted the boy who had cowered from the enemy bullets and could not fight back from behind cover.
However, no one could criticize him or even focus on him at the moment.
They did not have enough manpower or weapons and the enemy was numerous. There were a lot of reasons to complain.
Even now, another member of the defense unit collapsed. When the boy saw that, he gasped and yelled out once more.
“Dammit! Why!? Why are we doing this!?”
He shouted toward the enemy that actually seemed to increase in number as they fired on them.
“Even if we win, we’ll just be making an enemy of the world! So…”
He spoke his mind.
“Isn’t this enough!? Haven’t we done enough!? Let’s just quit here!”
The others around him were left speechless. Everyone was thinking the same thing, so they exchanged a glance. However, an upperclassman sporadically firing arrows spoke to the boy.
“It’s true I sometimes wonder why we’re doing this.”
He nocked the next arrow.
“But if you can’t find a reason, then go join another academy.”
The younger boy fell silent and the upperclassmen kept his eyes on the enemy while continuing.
“Listen. Whether it’s time to quit and whether this is enough are your own issues. Don’t ask us. Ask yourself and go where you can find your own reason to fight. After all, Musashi is moving on the policy set by our idiot of a chancellor and our princess who doesn’t know who she is. I don’t know how crazy you have to be to advocate both world domination and world peace, but…”
As soon as he said “but”, a bullet grazed his right cheek.
He gave a quick “kh”, but only shook his head once and looked to the right. The others began to move in concern, but he stopped them with a hand and drew the bowstring.
“You’ll be happier if you go while there’s still somewhere you can go.”
“Don’t ask. It’ll make me feel too important. …At any rate, just stick with the people like me for the time being. There are a lot of others like this. Of course, the most obvious example is over there.”
He rubbed his right cheek and used the same finger to point toward Musashino’s bow while still looking forward.
“Those two are there, aren’t they?”
The others turned toward Musashino’s bow.
The idiot on the bow held a microphone and the upperclassman frowned once he noticed as well.
“Okay, everyone,” said the idiot. “I have an important announcement to make.”
“There’s a lot to complain about in the battle right now, don’t you think? So if you find anything like that, how about I stop by to comfort you? My jokes are a lot of fun.”
Everyone across the Musashi cried out in fear.
“If we don’t work harder, that idiot will stop by to get in our way!!”
Toori and Horizon listened to the different reactions on the divine network.
“Stay away! Stay away, okay!? I’m serious about that!”
“Before, I thought our leaders didn’t understand all the trouble we go through, but actually having those leaders join us would be even worse! I never realized that before! This isn’t fair!”
“E-everyone, move forward! If we don’t look like we’re doing this properly, that idiot’ll sneak up behind us and ruin all our hard work!”
No matter what direction Toori looked, he saw people charging forward while raising battle cries. But soon…
“S-stop watching us, you idiot!” someone said. “Look up into the sky and hum or something!”
Horizon nodded twice.
“You are hated on the level of a national treasure. They are reacting the exact same way that elementary school did.”
“Don’t be silly. They’re just tsundere. They’re saying, ‘I-it’s not like I want you to stop by or anything!’ So what should we do? Should we start with the right since they’re doing the best job of pretending not to like me?”
“Stay away! This is a dangerous battlefield, so stay away!”
“What? But what’re you going to do? I’m supplying you with Blessings, but aren’t you having trouble?”
“If you show up, it’ll go from ‘having trouble’ to ‘completely hopeless’!!”
“Huh? Aren’t you missing like five levels in between there? If this was strip mahjong, it’s like someone got a Heavenly Hand in on you.”
“Yeah, and you’re the one that did it!!”
“What?” Toori frowned at that and started pointing here and there. “Who’re you saying did it, you idiot!? Hey, you! And you with the unpopular-looking face over there! Your voices are hurting my ears, so I’m gonna go quiet you down if you keep it up! While you keep complaining, I’ll sneak up behind you naked and hit you in the back of the knees!”
“I-isn’t the chancellor supposed to be on our side!?”
But everyone took in a deep breath and gave a clear response.
“Honestly,” they said all over the Musashi. “Keep quiet, you idiot, and leave the battles to us!!”
“Sure,” said Toori as he sat back down.
However, Horizon tilted her head next to him.
“Even so, I have determined the situation is not good. I have determined we simply have insufficient personnel and a determined spirit can only take them so far.”
“Then should we help?”
Horizon briefly froze in place at that sudden voice.
She exchanged a confused glance with Toori.
“What was that?”
“What should we do?” said the voice again.
It came from behind them, so they turned around and found a fifteen centimeter super-deformed dog-like creature standing upright.
Adele and the others on the bridge heard Heidi’s voice.
“It was kobolds! Yes, it was the ore kobolds live in! I was thinking of dropping the rocks on that glasses man’s house for free, but it looks like this was a good thing after all! I had the mercantile guild help out for free and place the ore on top of most of the Musashi’s ether fuel pipes!”
“The kobolds will accept odd jobs, so anyone who can fight should fight!!”
“Even so,” said “Musashi” while expressionlessly beginning calculations on a sign frame. “Kobolds require almost no pay, but saving up enough currency to pay them will still cause economic deflation. Also, the kobolds will consume our ether fuel and having fewer people assist will reduce the valuable ether dedications the Musashi takes as a tax, so…”
“H-how about we have the kobolds construct a 24-hour workplace where they can mass-produce products to sell cheaply but quickly?”
“That will be something else to work on in the future. Over.”
But the automaton then continued.
“Regardless, they will be useful in the current situation. I will approve it. Over.”
Cheers rose from the different ships as those helping with the work inside the ships rose to the deck. Adele thought while listening to their voices.
…The most meaningful part is making it possible to have actual shifts.
This went beyond those fighting on the deck. The automatons and people working inside the ships could leave most of the transportation and communication jobs to the kobolds.
…Do what you can.
Just as Adele prepared to say that aloud, she heard someone else speak.
“Okay, take care of this, all of you.”
A voice came from the leader sitting on the Musashino’s bow with a girl sipping tea next to him.
“I, Aoi Toori, and Horizon Ariadust are here and we won’t run away. So…”
Shells reached that area, but gravity barriers deflected them. Most of them made it dangerously close to him, but he showed no concern.
“I’m sure there’s a lot you can’t do or want to give up on, but…”
“Leave all those impossibilities to me for now.”
And in exchange…
“Please, tell yourself it’s possible for you.”
When that word was repeated like a nod, the people fighting on the Musashi’s decks took a breath in unison.
They exhaled, inhaled, and then exchanged a glance.
I guess we’ve got no choice.
Just this once, okay?
You’ll pay for this later.
All those things were written on their faces, but in the end, the corners of their mouths rose and their shoulders shook a bit.
“Judge!! You can trust in us, Musashi Chancellor!!”
An order came from the bridge.
“Everyone, line up!!”
This was the first thing they had learned in training, so they all checked each other’s locations.
A short pause.
“Everyone, begin where you left off!”
Judge, judge, judge, judge. We make our judgment here.
“Yes, we have already received holy judgment!”
“We are those who carry our king’s possibility and our princess’s emotion!”
“Yet we are those who will keep sorrow from our king and our princess!!”
As they cried out, they all tossed there tiny portable rations in their mouth.
“Defend! All we can do now is endure for a while longer!”
Everyone fired, endured, and pushed forward. As if restarting their training, they focused on what they had to do despite their exhaustion and injuries.
“We’re not so stupid…”
The enemy pushed back.
“…that we won’t listen to what that idiot of a chancellor asks of us!”
The two sides clashed yet again, but the vermilion armor and uniforms also endured while the metal spikes on the soles of their shoes groaned under the strain. They opened any gap as if thrusting their way in and they fired and attacked to break down the defenses.
“Don’t get carried away! We’re no idiots either!”
“That’s right!” shouted one of the students in a vermilion uniform. “We’ve come this far bearing our decline! We’re here to keep our sun from setting! It feels like the entire world is telling us to set, but we’ve kept fighting! Every day, we talk about it in the cafeteria, chat about it on the way home, and think about it while staring at the ceiling while going to sleep, and we’ve come this far to make it a reality!”
“Yeah!” replied another one while charging forward. “We’re filled with our own ruin!!”
As if in response, the shellfire from the sky ahead increased. The Españan main fleet was getting closer.
It was about time for Tres España’s landing team to leave, but for that very reason…
The vermilion ones held up their weapons.
“The empire on which the sun never sets has an announcement for the dead nation on which the sun never rises!”
First, one of them shouted into a voice amplification spell using a cadena firma.
The others repeated after him.
More voices joined in.
“Triiiiiiunfo! Tres España!!”
“Victoooooria! Tres España!!”
“Glooooria! Tres España!!”
“He! Na! Res!! Henares! Henares!! Henares!!!”
They all held their weapons forward.
And they charged.
The sounds of the clash were equal at first, but the Musashi side was soon pushed back on the starboard end.
The vermilion vanguard had determined the path they could travel down fastest and ran down the passageway in an arrow-shaped formation.
“Climb over them! Jump over them! We’re not the track team for nothing!!”
They took three-dimensional action. They even used their own teammates as stepping stones as they charged in.
But Musashi responded.
“Defend to the front!! Only worry about anything else once you’ve done that!!”
However, the enemy’s attacks were dense and they pressed forward even when those in front collapsed.
While pinned in place by the concentrated aerial attacks of the gods of war, they cried out.
“Hold your ground!!”
They recalled the greatest principle of their training, but the enemy’s attacks were overcoming even that.
“What good is that!? If we just hold our ground they’ll climb over us!”
Even as they said that, the enemy pushed in and tried to climb over.
But then a sharp yet awkward voice reached them. It was Suzu’s.
A moment later, a giant form appeared overhead from the rear starboard side. It was white, but it had the Musashi Ariadust emblem on the side.
“A transport ship!?”
As the transport ship quickly passed by overhead, a few shadows dropped down onto Musashino’s bridge.
They were the Musashi representatives who had gone to England.
However, they were not alone.
Far back on both the port and starboard sides, definite shellfire could be heard.
In the night sky, something was visible near England to the north and toward the mainland to the south.
“That’s…the English fleet!!”
The ships of the fleet had the Trumps emblem on the side. The ones to the north said 5-1 and the ones to the south said 5-2. The number 5-3 also arrived and it was obvious what this meant.
“Sir Drake is coming from the north while Sir Hawkins and Cavendish are coming from the south after sending Musashi’s citizens to IZUMO! But…”
England was supposed to leave everything to the Musashi and not take part.
“It is simple. A pirate that obeys his nation is no pirate. Rather than worry about what I think, a true privateer will ignore me and bring back results.”
The Fairy Queen spoke quietly while standing on the Tower of London’s Andamio de la Ejecución that would no longer be used. She used the drawn Ex. Caliburn like a cane as she watched the distant battle and addressed the vice chancellor and vice president behind her.
“Honestly, England may be ruled by the Far East someday.”
“Wh-wh-wh-why do you say that, Your Majesty?”
“Think carefully while you watch. If I hand my throne over to Mary and that ninja’s child, the child will be half Far Eastern.”
She laughed and snapped her fingers.
“Nicholas. Use the Great Seal to approve of the negotiation with the Far East concerning Mary.”
Just as Nicholas’s smiling face appeared in a sign frame, a great impact ran through London’s sky. Like an umbrella to the night sky and moonlight, England’s giant seal and approval for this attack was drawn in ether light.
Elizabeth looked up at it and gave a quiet sigh.
“Save you from anything.”
She took in a breath.
“In English, “you” can refer to more than just one person. So…” The queen snapped her fingers again. “So I am still keeping my promise. Have Howard send out the other ships. Also send out the pirates, Grace, and I’m sure there are others who can go. …I will scold them for this! I would scold them all, so tell them to escort the Musashi to IZUMO after the battle ends. Honestly, all of them are far too kind.”
The vice chancellor and vice president’s shoulders shook and the queen crossed her arms, gave a snort, and looked to Walter and Milton’s backs on the road down below.
“And so am I. After this battle is over, we all need to attend a meeting to rethink our actions!”
On the road in front of the Tower of London, Milton and Walter watched the battle to the southwest.
However, Milton was focused on something other than the transition on the battlefield.
Walter did not reply, but Milton did not mind.
“We lost our master twenty years ago and now it’s happened again. Why do I have to be stuck with this mute moron? If only Akiage Hisaie, the other survivor of the Amako Ten Braves, was here. But he parted ways with us twenty years ago and vanished after fighting in a number of battles against Mouri.”
Milton saw Walter give a small nod at that.
“If he had been with us when we were swept to England two years ago, do you think he would have stayed with us? If he had, he could have seen something truly interesting.”
“A ninja who loves well-endowed blondes is exactly what that idiot was when he was younger.”
“Go, you fools! Just as we did back then!”
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