Horizon:Volume 2 Chapter 03
Chapter 03: Travelers in the Sky
When you leap
Is it your body that arrives?
Or is it your reason?
Point Allocation (Control)
On the back end of Okutama, Musashi Ariadust Academy was shaken by ringing warning bells, the rushing footsteps of students, and the vibrations of the bombing.
The torii-shaped crests of the defensive gravity barriers deployed around each ship of Musashi were shattered by the bombing. Everyone rushed to their stations below the glowing fragments and mist created from the destroyed barriers. They all looked up into the sky.
“Wait ,wait. Isn’t that the flagship of Tres España’s sports couple!? That’s vice-chancellor class!”
“Just hurry! Don’t let those debt-loving reddish-brown track suit wearers board us for free!!”
“The enemy ships that can’t descend onto us are descending to the port of Murayama and Oume! The firing unit and spell reinforcement unit need to build a formation just as you were trained and hurry there!”
The central command position among all the voices flying about was the bridge in front of the academy. A male student in glasses stood there with an armband that read “Secretary: Neshinbara Toussaint”. A dozen or so members of the broadcast, athletic, and cultural committees stood behind him giving instructions in rapid succession.
“The firing unit and reinforcement unit should focus on Oume. Murayama handles diplomacy and has a large number of foreign residents, so the enemy should hesitate to target it. They should focus their fire on Oume to make up for their small numbers.”
Neshinbara paid no heed to the explosions, wind, and glowing mist as he placed his civil official Mouse on his shoulder and spread out several dozen torii-shaped crests. As he checked back over the information, he spoke.
“The land soldier groups need to spread out on Okutama and the central road of Musashino. The anti-air unit needs to divide the sky into blocks of three rows and assign each member one block, but they don’t have to fire until instructed to. Also, Honda should…um…”
Ohiroshiki appeared in a nearby sign frame. His eyebrows were raised in an insistent expression.
“Ahh! With Masazumi-kun and Futayo-kun, we have two Honda-kuns! To make this easier, we should call one Flat Honda-kun and one Large Honda-kun or maybe we can divide them up like monsters and call one Crossdressing Honda and one Spear Honda. But to me, they’re both old h-…Ah! What’s with that look, sensei!? Why are you reaching toward me with that smile!?”
The static-filled sign frame remained as a form of self-admonition and Neshinbara took a breath after giving Futayo advice on her attack. In no time, a sign frame appeared showing a female student running with another tall figure through a wide block used for transportation.
“Ah, Neshinbara? This is Heidi. We’re working on purging the transport ship and arranging another team. How are things going up there?”
“Well,” said Neshinbara as the falling glowing dust was swept away by the wind. He checked the countdown timer which said they had less than a minute until Tres España’s expected descent time. “They just announced their justification for the attack. Apparently, they are ‘capturing a ship transporting goods to England’ because that ship is currently in their territory.”
“Oh, maybe we should have stuck to the mainland more. I hear tours to view the wild unicorns and other creatures in the forests and coastal areas of Hexagone Française are popular right now. I wonder what location would have been best to look down on during battle.”
“Yes, we could have run a bird’s-eye view tour of magical beasts,” added the boy with Heidi.
It’s always money with those two. It’s just too wonderful, thought Neshinbara as he continued giving instructions.
“Listen, everyone. I will now discuss what the enemy is after and how we will respond.”
As everyone fell silent, Neshinbara opened his mouth. He began speaking as he thought on how troublesome the situation was.
“We may be under enemy attack, but I doubt they will enter the city itself. Judging from the ships that were unable to descend on us, they should only be able to send about 200 men down. If we view this as an attack on a fortress, Musashi is the same as a large city. If they send 200 men down into it, they will be in unfamiliar land and cut off from each other by the buildings and streets. We would eventually suppress them. If they stop Musashi, their Wyvern-class ships could ram us, but that isn’t enough to sink Musashi and I doubt they want to take prisoners of war while so close to England.
“That is why we need to think of this as an assault rather than an invasion. It’s similar to being attacked by pirates. They have no supply line, so we just have to survive their first attack. Our only goal besides that is to sink their ships. That’s the policy we’ll be going with.”
“Judge. But why would they attack us like this?”
“Judge. First, they are acting as a major Testament nation by showing their hostility toward Musashi. It will give them a definite right to negotiation at Westphalia and it lets them save face with the other nations.
“Second, they can gather information on Musashi’s combat abilities. That will help them in later conflicts and they can also sell the information to other nations. At the very least, information on an attack from above like this would be useful to any country truly wanting to invade Musashi. Most likely, their vice-chancellor class members and the representatives of their different units will attack us with different weapons and spells to gather data.
“And third, this is a warning to the people on Musashi. They want to cause a reaction by letting the people here know we really are ‘at war’. Bertoni-kun, how are things on that front?”
“Everyone currently aboard has signed a waiver of liability saying they themselves are responsible if they meet an unforeseen death aboard Musashi. The approximately 20% of those aboard who could not sign that contract were let off in Shikoku or Kyushu. Another 10% wish to be let off in their native countries.
“Fortunately, we did not lose anyone from the engine division or the commerce division, but it was recommended that any pregnant women and those with young children leave Musashi. Currently, students in middle school or higher are being encouraged to work part-time even at night, so there will be a rush of makeup classes once this war is over. We should receive plenty of refugees, people from the reservations, and other people who wish to become naturalized, so we should fill the gap eventually.”
“But didn’t Aoi-kun say that kind of one-sided waiver of liability isn’t a good thing?”
“Judge,” replied Bertoni with a shrug. “If something does happen, we have promised them three months of compensation money and the assurance that we will ‘listen to them’. But that is a small price to pay for some peace of mind for our citizens.”
“I see,” muttered Neshinbara just as a divine communications officer from the athletic committee shouted out behind him.
“I have word from the observers! Tres España has sent out a unit!”
Everyone in the command center let out voices of surprise. The reason for this was simple: The countdown timer before Neshinbara’s eyes said they should still have more than thirty seconds to spare.
But Neshinbara stared up into the advancing sky which was shaking and filled with sound and light.
“They’re using the bombing to focus our gravity barriers on the back while they leap over them toward the front. This is the strategy used by Tres Españan pirates. They usually target the bridge from the front, but this is just that in reverse.”
“But, Neshinbara, isn’t it dangerous for their unit to drop down into the city? Having prisoners taken now would lower their morale just before their battle with England… Not to mention that the bombing and the gravitational barriers are spread out across several hundred meters. How are they going to jump over that?”
“They have a way.” Neshinbara’s eyebrows rose slightly and he raised his right hand. “This will be bad if they’re confident in their ability to land accurately. Anti-air unit, get ready! Here they come!!”
He took a breath.
“Their vanguard is Tres España’s track-and-field team!”
“Okay, it’s time to go, track-and-field team!”
Fusae’s voice came from the bridge of Tres España’s command ship.
“Testament,” replied the students standing at the back of the command ship’s flat aircraft carrier deck.
The deck had eight lanes on the port side and eight lanes on the starboard side.
These sixteen lanes created courses approximately 30 meters long and one meter wide. The lanes continued from the back of the deck to the front.
“On your mark!”
The members of Tres España’s track-and-field team stood at the back of the lanes.
Their uniforms were made lightweight by cutting them off at the elbow and knee and they held shot put balls or javelins as halteres. As soon as they stepped atop the lanes, the lanes moved back. The motion was similar to a bow being slowly drawn.
The sixteen lanes stopped and a student standing at the front of the deck held a rifle into the air.
As if nodding, the sixteen students standing at the back of the lanes crouched down.
“Get set!” they repeated while taking the stance of a crouching start.
An instant later, three different actions occurred.
First, the student at the front of the deck fired his rifle.
Second, the students began running from the back of the lane as if struck.
The sixteen lanes shot forward at high speed with the students still running on them. The rails on the deck were used to catapult the lanes forward.
“Go, long jump unit!”
The Kraken-class command ship was approximately three hundred meters long. As the catapult lanes rushed across the deck with a clear noise, the trial runners accelerated even further. The air became a wall that attempted to stop the runners. However…
“Go!” urged Fusae’s voice. “You are from Ootomo, Oouchi, and the other long-lived families coming from Kamakura. Tres España holds Dan-no-Ura, so we specialize in the Hassou Tobi used by Minamoto no Yoshitsune!!”
“Show them that we can move freely to and from the eight ships of Musashi!”
Everyone cried “Testament!” in response and activated their acceleration Testament spell charms.
And they ran. As they moved faster and faster, step after step, they could no longer stop or slow down. Finally, they all stepped on the foul lines at the end of the catapult lanes.
The foul lines glowed with the activation of Testament spells and accelerated the sixteen runners.
“Leap, Hassou Unit!!”
With a roar, they were launched.
Aboard Musashi, Neshinbara at the command center, Mitotsudaira as she ran, Naito as she flew, and everyone else watched on either directly or via the footage sent out by the broadcast committee.
Students in the long jump pose were fired from Tres España’s command ship which was located directly above the front and center of Okutama.
There were sixteen of them and…
“They’ve broken the record of 800 meters! They’ve passed the gravitational barriers and are headed for-…”
The anti-air unit readied their bows and spells as they listened to the divine transmission from the command center. However…
“Do not fire!!”
They all stopped when they heard Neshinbara’s voice.
Fusae heard Neshinbara’s command because they were intercepting Musashi’s divine transmissions. She whistled on the bridge.
“I’m impressed any of them saw through this. So this is Ariadust’s secretary.”
As she spoke, several cadena firma appeared in the windows. A divine transmission officer explained the situation.
“The Hassou unit is being launched in order! The first group is landing now!”
A new light suddenly appeared beyond the current light and wind.
A single red beam of light stretched up into the air.
“Landing signal confirmed! Red means they arrived at their target destination!!”
Joyous cries of “testament” filled the bridge. The sixteen Tres Españan students they watched were not in Musashi’s city. They were…
“On top of the large transportation cargo yet to be brought inside Musashi!”
Trade between the ships of Musashi used the container transport loop created from the towing belts placed along the thick ropes spanning the distance between ships. Sixteen students stood atop those wooden boxes while wrapped in the shimmering of their acceleration spells. The containers they stood on were at least twenty meters tall and they were filled with…
“The materials being transported in the morning are mostly the food, drinking water, and resources needed that afternoon. If they destroy those, it will greatly affect their food supplies starting this afternoon.”
Fusae smiled and gave instructions to the ships, to the sixteen students who had landed, and to the additional students being launched in groups of sixteen. She sent them locations to attack using her stylus pen.
“Okay, that prevents Musashi from targeting you indiscriminately from below. So for now, attack with everything you have. To put it simply,” she said, “begin the throwing events!!”
On Fusae’s instruction, the leading group of sixteen dropped the free-fall bombs attached to the hard points on the back of their uniform’s shoulders.
The black bombs were approximately sixty centimeters long. They were hexagonal cylinders formed from wooden panels.
The sixteen students each had one on each shoulder, so a total of thirty-two bomb cylinders were dropped. As the sounds and light of the bombing washed over them, they began slowly but surely picked up speed and could be heard cutting through the wind.
“Begin intercepting the warheads!!”
On Neshinbara’s instruction, an anti-air spell formation was spread out. This was the same system used to intercept shells during the battle of Mikawa. The spell formation was used to track the enemy bombs and then they were intercepted.
However, another divine transmission arrived from the command center.
“A second and third group are arriving! They’re trying to reach beyond the range of our defenses!”
Tres España’s command ship was visible overhead, remaining perfectly stationary relative to Musashi. The eight lanes on the right and left of the deck opened in a fan shape starting from the base at the back.
Countless metallic noises and the sounds of wrapping wires and chains could be heard as track-and-field team members were launched above Musashi by the opening of the deck.
This group had decided where to land after seeing how Musashi spread out its forces. A group of sixteen reached a part of the sky not covered by the tracking spell formation and landed atop the cargo being towed.
This group began dropping their bomb cylinders while still in the air.
However, yet another attack arrived at the same time.
“Don’t forget about the sides!!”
As that shout echoed sharply through the air, a bombardment arrived from port.
It came from the three Wyvern-class ships flying perpendicular to Musashi on the left.
The three ships had backstop-style sails raised and a boy and girl stood on the deck of the central ship. They both wore brimmed hats and had a number and name written on their backs.
The boy with long bangs had the number I and the name Watanabe/P. Valdés on his back. The girl with short hair had the number XVIII and the name Watanabe/F. Valdés on her back.
Those preparing defensive spells on the port side of Musashi all gasped when they saw those two holding gloves and metal balls.
“Wah! Those are Tres España’s Valdés siblings, Pedro and Flores of the four deadly balls!”
The younger sister looked surprised to hear that.
“Oh, brother. They know us even though we didn’t make it past the best eight last year.”
Everyone on the port side of Musashi nodded, exchanged a glance, and spoke.
“When the brother pitched four balls, all four of them hit the batter, giving the other team one point. The sister laughed at him and pitched four balls of her own, but they all hit the batters too, giving the other team four more points. But the other team had lost eight players, so it ended in a no contest!”
“Sh-shut up! They tried to jump out of the way, but jumped right into my pitches! It’s all because my brother gave them the wrong idea about what I was going to do!”
“Sister, I have a large strike zone. Unlike you, I am a natural pitcher.”
“Brother, what do you mean by natural?”
“Sister, you hit them by accident. I hit them on purpose. That shows how much more control I have.”
“Did you have any intention of playing baseball!?”
The sister nodded in agreement with that shout coming from Musashi, but she suddenly entered a stance.
She was about to pitch.
The sister lowered her body in a right-handed underhand throw. The brother took the stance of a left-handed overhand throw.
A glowing mist floated from the Testament spell charms attached to their waists. Along with repeated sounds of metal being struck, the two of them readied their arms and 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 her body and gathered strength.
“Mouse ‘El Fuego’ – Receive.”
A bluish-white flame appeared between the two of them.
Cross-shaped crests appeared on the back of the hand holding the ball, the same elbow, their waist, and their legs.
“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 muttered. “Burn, oh flame!!”
Just as they uttered those words, they launched their metal balls. As if their tightly drawn bodies were being shot forward, the cross crests on their legs, waist, back, shoulders, elbows, and hands all burst.
The metal balls launched fire as they flew, but an instant later…
“Go, magic ball!”
The students on the port side of Musashi frantically activated their defensive torii-shaped crests.
They were located on the edge of the deck, in the sky, and by the door of the closing transportation zone. Their shields had been prepared to defend against pirates and to avoid fires and collapses within the different districts of the city.
“They’ll break through if you hold them vertical! Tilt them to deflect the balls!”
The two flying balls flew straight toward the edge of the deck.
The balls struck the torii-shaped crest shields.
Everyone expected a tremendous noise followed by a few of the shields disappearing. However…
Everyone standing where the balls were expected to hit raised a voice of question once a moment passed and the impact still had not come.
Nothing had happened.
All they saw in the sky before them was a large amount of Testament spell charm fragments scattering into the air from the waists of the two pitchers. Those two straightened their backs and seemed unconcerned that the flames had disappeared.
Everyone holding the spell shields heard loud sounds of destruction from behind them.
The city behind them had suddenly been destroyed by a metal ball.
The balls completely ignored the defenders and made their way behind them.
“A magic disappearing ball!?”
As everyone turned around, they saw more than just normal destruction.
Up in the sky on top of the large wooden containers, the enemy track-and-field team dropped their bombs. And when they burst, they spewed out certain objects. Bundles of paper scattered through the air.
“Those are combustion spell charms!”
The anti-air unit had intercepted a lot of the free-fall bombs, but over one hundred track-and-field team members had been launched. Over half of those had intentionally landed in areas where the anti-air unit could not intercept them.
The several dozen bombs that landed struck the ground or buildings. As soon as they did, their wooden frames would burst and those papers would scatter everywhere. This created one overall effect: fire.
They formed red pillars of fire.
And they burned.
During the initial stage, the fires were kept low by the fireproofing spells set up across Musashi, but the flames eventually flickered and rose up into the sky as if breaking through whatever was holding them back.
Pillars of fire over twenty meters tall and seven or eight meters wide whirled around and rose into the sky.
The flames vigorously shot up, gently fell as the pillar came apart, and enveloped the nearby buildings.
A wind blew.
The flames appearing across the city all at once consumed the air and formed a great wind along the streets. The wind picked up the heat of the flames and grew blazing hot.
As if gasping for air, the blazing wind shot along and gathered together in search of a wide open space. The wind eventually reached the central street and the outer edges of the ship.
The wind was already hot enough to scorch the surfaces of buildings and singe the leaves of the trees along the street. As it gathered together, the students who did not take cover were blown away. The shields they were holding up while crouching down were snatched from their grip and the wind continued to maddeningly scorch everything along the main roads.
The wind showed its fury.
On the central street, it formed a blazing tornado. On the outer edges of the ship, it formed a blazing waterfall spilling over the edge of the deck and into the sky.
Merely enduring the rampaging heat and wind was all anyone could do. They were in the sky above the ocean. More air flowed in right away, so the heat formed massive waves that refused to stop.
“At this rate…!”
Everyone clenched their teeth and groaned as the siblings off the port side prepared their second shot.
But that was not all. On the deck to the siblings’ left and right and on the other ships too, members of the baseball team held up metal balls or bats.
The Valdés brother in the center adjusted his hat and turned his head to the side.
“Do you know what Tres España is called?”
He held the ball up into the air. He held it toward the heavens and placed it over the sun.
“It’s the empire on which the sun never sets. The Far East, on the other hand, is the land of the rising sun. And even if the sun sets, Tres España is prepared to take a torch in hand and continue on. So let me say this.” He took a deep breath. “Each time a torch is lit to light the darkness, the empire that does nothing but rely on the rising sun is a step closer to defeat. Amen. Hopefully this next pitch will bring you a large step toward defeat. Yes, a very large one.”
As he spoke, the siblings began their pitching motions and activated their spells.
“Shit!” cried the defenders.
They had their hands full simply surviving with the waves of heat washing over everything.
And the metal balls were thrown toward them and the city. Tres España’s baseball team, including the second string players, joined in this time, so eighty or so metal balls flew toward Musashi. During their follow-through they cried out.
“Take this! Saint Elmo’s Fire!!”
The defenders remained motionless, but they heard another voice.
“Please take defensive positions against the enemy’s attacks!”
This sharply ringing voice belonged to a girl. At the same time, a single line of light shot into the air.
That light was an arrow strengthened by borrowing a divine sound. The attack targeted the bottom of the abandoned material transportation boxes overhead.
The arrow of light shot in a straight line and struck the 20 meter tall wooden box.
To prove her right, the container was pierced through and burst apart.
As the container shot upwards and came apart, sounds of creaking wood and pieces of wood striking each other could be heard and the contents of the container were dumped into the air. Those contents were…
The leader of the anti-air unit on the port side and the one who had fired that arrow was a girl with a nametag reading Asama.
She finished her follow-through, lowered her bow which was named Kataume, and looked up into the air with her eyebrows raised.
“That should put the fire out!”
The container had been destroyed approximately 200 meters above Musashi and the water opened up like a flower as it fell.
The water came from the water tank used in Musashi’s industrial zone.
As the flower of water spread out, it looked a bit like a jellyfish and flower petals bloomed as if sliding across the air. However…
As the defenders taking cover from the waves of heat and Asama both looked up at it, the flower shook in the wind and finally scattered.
What ultimately fell was rain. The wooden container had been over 20 meters tall and it had held over 40,000 liters of water.
That was enough water to cause ten centimeters of rain over a distance of approximately 60 meters square, so the rain covered an entire wide block on Musashi.
However, the anti-air fire producing rain did not stop at that single shot. Asama glanced to the sign frame next to her while nocking a new arrow and having her Mouse named Hanami announce her divine protection.
The red torii-style sign frame showed Heidi.
“In addition to purging the transport ships being towed and arranging the separate unit, we’ll send you the locations of the water tanks we have paid for! A-and Asamachi!” Heidi took a breath, clenched her fists, and swung them down while letting out a shout. “Take out these enemies or whoever they are!”
“Eh? Wh-what is it, Asamachi!? You’re acting really low-key. Are you okay!?”
“No, um… What do you mean ‘take them out’? Shrine maidens don’t shoot people.”
“Would you be willing to shoot them if you weren’t a shrine maiden?”
What kind of person do they think I am? wondered Asama as she aimed her bow toward the sky.
She was targeting the containers being towed, but some male Tres Españan students stood on top of them. They were dropping shells and throwing javelins down, but they suddenly froze in place when they saw her.
“Ee! Th-that’s the rumored trigger-happy shrine maiden!”
Asama smiled with veins popping out on her temple as she fired at the wooden containers.
“Would you look at that…”
With the light board in one hand, Fusae raised her eyebrows on the bridge of Tres España’s command ship.
As Musashi put out the fire by paying out of their own pocket, a few other actions were using that as cover.
“Captain! The containers the team members are on have started moving back from where they were initially!”
Fusae knew what that control member meant. The wooden boxes were indeed moving back toward them. This was due to…
“They cut the transportation towing belt sending the containers through the air, didn’t they!?”
The loop of thick ropes towing the containers travelled between the ships and wrapped around the ships to keep the containers circulating forward, backward, left, and right. However…
“If that loop is fixed at the front of one ship and they cut it from the back…”
The inertia of the advancing ship would cause the cut end to swing backwards toward them.
And on top of that swinging towing belt was…
“Captain! The enemy is coming!”
As the thick rope began to reach them, Musashi’s students charged toward them.
The instant Fusae saw Musashi’s assault unit, she gave orders.
“Track-and-field team, withdraw!!”
When they heard that shout, the track-and-field team members on the containers did not hesitate to throw themselves into the air. They leaped away from Musashi or between the ships. In this high-speed withdrawal, they would wait to use their descent slowing Testament spell charms until they had almost reached the ocean surface. Two of the baseball team’s ships off the port side began descending to pick them up.
However, Musashi’s students were approaching from atop the now deserted containers.
“Here they come! They’re trying to bring the fight to our ship!!”
That was the right decision, assessed Fusae silently.
The leading members of the group swiftly moving toward their target would likely have belonged to Mikawa’s guard unit. By going first, they would act as guides to show those less accustomed to battle what to do.
So far, Musashi’s fight had been centered on the anti-air unit and the shield unit. However, there had been a reason for that.
“The assault unit was on standby so they could attack the second the cut towing belt formed a bridge.”
They had withstood the initial attack using only their defensive units and were now going to counterattack. It was a basic strategy, but it had been the residents of Musashi that had managed to find a way onto their ship so quickly.
However, Fusae had nothing to worry about. Cleverness meant nothing on the battlefield. What mattered were the fundamentals needed to respond to any situation or environment and the ability to innovate. If one was led astray by a clever performance, one would lose one’s nerve and be defeated.
This was the same.
Musashi had spare towing belts and the port at England was not far away, so the decision to cut the belt would not have taken long.
…But they decided to climb aboard it and to accept some initial damages in order to have the assault unit on standby. They have a strategist who can look beyond what is right before his eyes.
“Yes, this is someone worth remembering. Also, I’ll be heading out, Taka-san.”
Takakane clicked his tongue within a cross-style cadena firma.
“Fusae, the members of the baseball team on this ship will do their best to hold them back. You always want to head out right away, but a ghost isn’t supposed to go out under the sun.”
“You go out there all the time.”
“I have a nice tan, so I’m fine.”
“Tes, tes,” said Fusae with a smile. She then took a breath, put on a serious expression, and addressed everyone on the bridge. “Open the ship’s gunports. We don’t have much ammunition because we intended to bomb them, but fire on their shield unit over a slow interval. Instead of trying to do damage to their city, try to keep as many people as possible concentrated on defense. Meanwhile, move the ship to a safe place behind Ariadust and start firing on the school building at the same interval.
“Taka-san, I’ll leave the deck to you. I will head out after speaking with the three in the back.”
Fusae brushed her back hair into position and everyone on the bridge turned toward her.
“Tes. Leave it to us, captain!” said the female managers of the bridge crew as they saw Fusae off with a smile.
However, their smiles quickly faded. A new noise was added to the sounds of battle outside.
This sound did not come from the battlefield. Rather than simply coming from the direction of Musashi, it seemed to be coming from Musashi itself.
As Musashi cruised toward England, its eight ships suddenly began rumbling and warning bells began ringing.
A single automaton stood atop the bridge in front of Ariadust Academy which had been made the command center.
It was “Musashi”.
She wore a maid uniform and seemed to be paying no heed to flashes of light coming from the bombardment still being fired on the back of the academy and the gravitational barriers blocking those attacks.
“On Neshinbara-sama’s suggestion, Musashi will now enter gravitational cruising mode. Once preparations are complete, we will leave the battle’s airspace. Output control of all ships is being centralized. Control rights are being transferred to me. Over.”
As she spoke, a few different lights appeared in front of “Musashi”. These eight blue lights took the forms of ships. Each light represented one ship and the sign frame next to each one displayed the automaton that acted as that ship’s captain. They all nodded in unison.
“Preparing for gravitational cruising. Transferring control rights to ‘Musashi’-sama. Over.”
The eight ship diagrams in front of “Musashi” all began to move.
First, a red dot appeared on the back of Okutama to indicate her own location. Then, green dots appeared at the center of each ship and pale green ribbon lines connected them.
“Centralized control confirmed. Over,” said “Musashi” as the eight ship diagrams changed form.
They bloomed into flowers.
The eight ship diagrams created eight flower beds filled with flowers made from ether light.
Each flower bed was about fifty centimeters across and a meter and a half long. They were small flower beds, but the flowers bloomed tall and densely to wholeheartedly assert themselves.
“Musashi” turned toward the flower beds and lightly spread her arms.
“Release each ship’s reserve ether fuel storage pool by twelve percent. Over.”
Just as she finished speaking, rain fell on the flower beds.
Rain made up of bluish-white light poured on the flowers and their stems and leaves trembled and grew.
But as if drawn on by that growth…
“Beginning auxiliary preparations for gravitational cruising. Over.”
All of Musashi’s ships suddenly shook as if shivering.
The eight ships of Musashi trembled.
The frame, the internal structure, the different circulatory pathways, and the reinforcing spells added into the important points of the air ducts and buildings all activated due to the supply of ether. The shaking occurred because Musashi’s strength was rising.
Normally, Musashi’s strength was not obtained simply from the rigidity of the ships’ frames. With ships as huge as Musashi’s, simply turning would cause the frame to break and warp, so a bending flexibility was needed. In Musashi’s case, that flexibility was obtained by giving each ship a large number of gaps and movable frames.
However, those movable parts were being reinforced with the extra supply of ether and with spells to reinforce public property. The movable parts’ lubrication was hardened with friction and the frame was further hardened with defensive spells.
This change produced the trembling which proved Musashi was strengthening. Finally, Musashi gave a lurch.
As if in response, the rain over “Musashi’s” flower beds let up.
“Please carry out the final check. Over.”
A number of sign frames appeared above the flower beds.
The important points across each ship were being checked.
The output, the stability, the safety of the people, and the safety of the air circulation all had to be checked, but those could not all be checked immediately. The checks had begun at the beginning of the entire process. This was merely a final confirmation.
“ ‘Tama’. A cat is sleeping on the road in the 6th wide block. Over.”
“Judge. Someone skilled has already been sent to retrieve it. 4, 3, 2…it has been retrieved. I can now confirm the safety on the streets of each ship. Over.”
“Judge,” replied “Musashi”. And, “We will now enter gravitational cruising mode. Gravitational cruising can be used for 32 seconds using the released surplus ether supply. Our objective is to leave this area and confirm our ability to travel by gravitational cruising.
“Each ship will switch from the standard cruising system ‘Susashizunami’ to the gravitational cruising system ‘Susashizukaze’. Please keep the ether extraction device ‘Kazearizuma’ fully open. Over.”
As she spoke, the flowers in the beds began to move. Some of the flowers opened wide to form a line and they stretched up.
“Beginning transformation into gravitational cruising form. Gravitational cruising will begin in three minutes at which point we will leave this airspace at full speed. As such,” she took a breath, “please survive the battle until then. Over.”
- Literally means “Eight Ships Leap” and refers to Minamoto no Yoshitsune jumping from ship to ship to escape Taira no Noritsune during the Battle of Dan-no-Ura.
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