Horizon:Volume 2 Chapter 06
Chapter 06: Greeter on the Deck
When and where do you say
Nice to meet you?
Point Allocation (Battle Progress)
Someone on the towed transport ship groaned in response to “Musashi’s” request to prepare for battle.
Naito turned toward the bow.
“The problem is where the battlefield is. The bow is almost completely abandoned.”
“Judge,” replied Mitotsudaira with a nod. She turned her golden eyes toward Musashi. “Who will make it to the bow!?”
The transport ship was being pulled by the towing belt in the air behind Okutama. A glance into the sky reminded Mitotsudaira of this fact and she clenched her teeth.
Musashi’s primary combat force had gathered on the transport ship to fight back against Tres España.
Former guard unit member and current vice chancellor Futayo, special duty officers Tenzou and Naito, Mitotsudaira herself, and chancellor and student council president Toori were all there.
…And most of those down below are supporting members.
“I am heading down!”
“Please stop. I have determined you will not make it in time. Over.”
As Mitotsudaira began to run, “Musashi’s” face appeared in a sign frame.
“Judge. The ship cannot be stopped immediately yet will paradoxically arrive very near England in about three minutes. If England can stop us in that time, that is fine. If we can stop them for that along, that is fine too. The time limit is a mere three minutes, so you will not arrive at the bow in time even if you begin now. Also, your transport ship is being provided with buffering control distinct from Musashi’s. Heading here will result in removing or even destroying a portion of that. Working to control and protect the transport ship after that will delay our approach to England. Over.”
Just as Mitotsudaira began to speak, a new sign frame opened. This torii-style frame displayed Neshinbara.
“Then we have only one option: use those on Musashi to oppose England. That’s all there is to it.”
Mitotsudaira watched Neshinbara sigh in the sign frame.
“You have no choice but to leave this to us for the next three minutes. Could you focus on aiding the injured on the transport ship? Whether those injured can stand or not when you return to Musashi will change how the people view this battle,” said Neshinbara expressionlessly. He looked around at all the people on the transport ship he could see. “Sorry. A lot of people were injured.”
Those words worried Mitotsudaira. As a knight who was expected to take part in combat, she understood what role a strategist bore.
…This will only get worse for the strategist.
They had endured the attack, but it had resulted in a lot of injuries. The city had been damaged, some areas were no longer functioning, and cargo had been lost. Blame would be turned toward the student council and chancellor’s officers at the top, but the most blame would fall on Neshinbara who had given the instructions and authorization.
Every member of the main force on the transport ship understood this, so Mitotsudaira exchanged a glance with Masazumi, Futayo, Naito, and the others before turning back to Neshinbara.
“It is not yet time for the strategist to apologize, is it?” asked Mitotsudaira with a bitter smile.
Letting her worry show at this stage was rude to the strategist and a knight needed to show trust in her strategist.
“Once all of this is over, we can have a small victory celebration and meet up with England. That will give us an excuse to make up for the injuries and damage.”
“I see you knights love your glory,” commented Neshinbara while smiling bitterly.
Mitotsudaira suddenly noticed the background behind him was moving.
“Neshinbara? Don’t tell me…”
“Judge. I’m heading out myself. Bertoni-kun wants to have some fun, but he has his hands full dealing with the commerce and industry groups. And in a direct confrontation, I don’t have to worry about giving instructions to so many people.”
Mitotsudaira wanted to say it was dangerous, but he cut her off.
“You understand, don’t you? We were attacked, people were injured, and the city was damaged. Unlike the Battle of Mikawa, we didn’t gain anything, so people are going to be wondering what the strategist was thinking. I need to do my best as the strategist. I need to show them I gave it my all so we could pull through to the end. I want to avoid having the student council and chancellor’s officers criticized because of me. We’re on our way to England which has a neutral relationship with the Far East, so I want to rid us of as much uncertainty as I can.”
He took a breath which developed into a long sigh.
“Three minutes is a long time.”
A sign frame emitted light within a vast white sanctuary.
Someone sat at the top of the carpeted stairs leading up to the altar in the back.
“What is it, Innocentius? And after I went out of my way to bring the large and small metal balls.”
The elderly demon wearing a black uniform looked over at the Papa-Schola who also wore a uniform.
“Just as I was growing bored with the dull direction things were headed, something even less interesting happens,” said Papa-Schola Innocentius. “You heard that, didn’t you, Galileo? The emergency broadcast went out to everyone with an official post.”
“Yes, it seems England has gone out to intercept Musashi. It only just happened, though. As an excellent student, what do you think of England’s actions?”
“England has decided to show a more conservative face to the other countries,” said Innocentius.
He watched a sign frame showing Musashi and England in the distance. The footage was being recorded from the north coast of Hexagone Française. Booths were being set up to sell food to onlookers as a male Hexagone Française student began to speak. He wore the armband of the Catholic joint divine transmission organization named Divine Correspondence.
“Oh, look at that! It seems several people thought to be from England’s Trumps just boarded Musashi! The War Commentator Club provided the following report on those who boarded Musashi: their ages range from child to elderly; their sexes are male, female, and maybe something else; and their combat styles are offensive or maybe not. …Okay, can someone please execute the idiot who wrote this!? Anyway, over to the broadcast room!”
“I don’t see why they would board them. Hm?” muttered Innocentius. “Well, England had two options. One was to hold the Testament Union in check by accepting Musashi, clear the armada battles with ‘interpretations’, and work to resolve the Apocalypse along with Musashi. If they chose that path, they would not need to divide their exhaustion and war expenses between this and the armada battles. Then they could use the Apocalypse resolution to their advantage during the Peace of Westphalia. England could take the lead in bringing about the independence of their Protestant trading partner, Holland. Their influence in the Testament Union would have risen dramatically and they could have become a leading world power.
“However, England chose the other option. They are treating Musashi as an enemy of the Testament Union and reliably reproducing history by refusing their entry. If they do not disobey the rest of the Testament Union, the other countries won’t interfere or pull any unnecessary ‘interpretations’ during the armada battles and the Peace of Westphalia. They may even try to help England out some. Instead of aiming for excessive gain, they chose the reliable route. England may have the Logismoi Oplo of greed, but they’ve managed to restrain themselves this time.”
“But what led them to make this decision?”
“It was Tres España’s attack on Musashi. Musashi opposed the Testament Union, and Tres España chose to respond with an attack. In that case, what is England to do as a member of the Testament Union? If they protected Musashi, they would be making an enemy of every other Testament Union nation. And if England hadn’t intercepted Musashi, Tres España could have sent in their main force to scout out England’s strength and warn them that they were now the Testament Union’s enemy. England would have been charged with a crime and attacked before they had a chance to make any kind of excuse. And as long as Musashi stuck around, Tres España would have continued hounding them. At any rate, England can no longer act as an intermediary between Musashi and the Testament Union. Carrying out the attack so close to England rather than to the west of Tres España gave England less time to make their decision. That was probably Vice President Juana’s idea. The long lived race is a little too clever, don’t you think? Hm?”
Innocentius turned toward the sign frame. Musashi had already grown more distant, but something else had happened as well. The first starboard ship was wrapped in fog and that fog could be seen moving even from this distance.
“Well, even if Tres España’s attack brought this on, England must have resolved themselves to carry out the armada battles soon. If they want to go the reliable route, they’ll want to keep the adventures to a minimum. It’s probably due to how difficult it is to find a reliable path through these troubled times that no country wants to take any major steps toward resolving the Apocalypse. At any rate, now that England has made this decision, they must be planning to tackle the Apocalypse problem on their own. I hear England is performing research into the Apocalypse.
“Today, Tres España used Musashi to show off their strength and to display their loyalty to the Testament Union. And now England has displayed their own loyalty to the Testament Union and exhibited their intent to remain on the reliable path. As a man heading toward the Apocalypse, that is reassuring to hear and it is amusing to see them use Musashi as proof of their loyalty. Of course, it is always possible England’s hostility and refusal to accept Musashi are just for show, but the other countries are likely already working to pressure England away from that.”
“…And have you already done so?”
“Do you want me to say testament?”
“Testament,” said Galileo with a nod.
“We can’t let up. M.H.R.R. is preparing a Far East force and gathering strength toward the east. But even if we’re busy dealing with that, we still have to do what we can here as the Testament Union,” he said. “But England needs to execute a certain royal before the armada battles can begin. They need to execute Mary Stuart who attempted to assassinate Elizabeth. According to the history recreation, she is Catholic, the former queen of Scotland, and Elizabeth’s cousin. She had a close relationship with Felipe II, the leader of Tres España, so her execution was one of the factors leading to the armada battles.”
“But that Mary is in a complex position for England.”
“Yes. She has a double inherited name with Elizabeth’s older half-sister Mary Tudor, aka Bloody Mary. This Mary represents England’s ‘unfaithfulness’.” He took a breath, looked at the screen, and continued speaking. “England is prepared to start a war by executing a royal and Musashi is opposing them. Now that is a scene you never would have imagined not too long ago, hm?”
Suddenly, a noise burst from the sign frame.
An explosive noise reverberated through the sky as Musashi grew more distant.
“Did that do it!?” cried a girl with six black wings.
Large wooden containers covered the floor of that storage district at the front of the first starboard ship Shinagawa. The black-winged girl, Naruze, wore the armband of the 4th special duty officer. She held up her Technomagie pen and faced forward.
A storm of steam produced by her attack rose where the enemies had stood a moment before.
As soon as she had arrived on Shinagawa’s deck, she had made a surprise attack before even looking at the enemies.
The attack was recent enough that she could not see her enemies through the steam.
Naruze used the short time until that steam cleared to check her surroundings.
An archery unit stood behind her, but…
I shouldn’t expect them to be able to shoot someone if I ask them to, thought Naruze. They aren’t like Asama. No, I suppose Asama technically isn’t like that either. But she did suddenly start shooting people at our elementary school entrance ceremony.
The tradition was to hold a festival after the ceremony where the upperclassmen and their parents or guardians set up stands.
There had of course been an archery stand. Asama had been urged to play because they assumed a shrine maiden would know how to use a bow, but that had been a mistake. The upperclassmen and adults had been amused by how well the daughter of the Asama Shrine could shoot, so they had made the targets more distant and smaller. As Asama had continued to nervously hit all of the targets, focus on her had grown and her anxiety had reached its max.
“Okay, now let’s try some moving targets! Can you do it?”
That comment had been the biggest mistake of all.
Asama had been so nervous that she had started shooting everything in motion around her. The long combo she pulled off had turned the festival into a disaster. Ultimately, it had been the fault of the upperclassmen and adults egging her on, but Naruze still remembered running away from Asama, who Naruze had not known at the time, as she had targeted Naruze’s back. Naruze had later asked Asama why she had done it and Asama’s answer had been “I was nervous, so I wanted to end it all as soon as possible.”
…Yes, but I think you were trying to end more than just the archery, you stabbing shrine maiden.
However, Asama was not here. Once she gained her qualifications as a shrine maiden, she had been banned from shooting people. She would still playfully shoot her comrades, but she was not generally permitted to seriously shoot people. The restriction was due to the fact that the power of a god’s servant was meant to be used for purification. Probably.
At any rate, Naruze prepared her next spell.
The foundation of Technomagie spells was preparing internal Auspuff, but that Auspuff was then broken down into ATELL units. The creation of spells required formulas and a focusing device to influence the appropriate space. In some cases, a catalyst was also needed. Naruze went over the basic formula.
…To apply a change over one cubic meter for one second, I need 10 ATELL.
This was the smallest expenditure unit to operate a spell and each additional change added 10 ATELL. And each other factor included was another value needing to be added or multiplied in.
The rules governing the addition and multiplication of changes did not always match up with the physical laws and they could even change based on one’s level of understanding of the space the spell was acting on. But despite those difficulties, understanding those rules was what it took to perform magic.
Well, a lot of the knowledge can be troublesome, thought Naruze as she held up a bottle filled with water.
The bottle held a liter of water and she used her pen to draw a water thermometer on the bottle’s surface. To draw was to create. It could give life and it could take life away. The result of the spell she applied to the object she drew on was the same thing she had thrown before.
“A steam bomb using heat!”
Heating and acceleration were the specialties of Weiss Techno.
The steam from the previous spell began to thin.
However, she could clearly see the silhouettes of the people beyond it.
The enemy was there and they were approaching.
Naruze did not know if the previous blast had been effective at all, but she completed the second by using her pen to add red to the water thermometer.
As the color vigorously rose up along the bottle, Naruze threw it underhanded.
She targeted the silhouettes approaching through the steam before her. Not even she knew the exact timing, but once the water boiled and turned to steam, its volume would explosively expand. The bottle would compress it and finally burst, sending shards everywhere.
Steam spread out over a large area and dampened the movement of the wind.
After the burst of steam, Musashi’s movement caused it to move toward Naruze and the others as it gathered together. But Naruze received this rough, heated air with her wings rather than her skin.
“How about that!?”
She received a response from the comrades behind her rather than the rough steam-filled wind ahead. She heard victorious cheers as the groups waiting behind her began to move forward.
They all seemed impatient to achieve some great deed themselves.
“L-leave this to Musashi Ariadust Academy’s Body Building Research Group ‘Gol☆iath’!”
“D-don’t be ridiculous! This is a job for the Greek Sun God Research Club ‘Helio-ga-balus’!”
“No, the Buddhist Research Group’s Warrior Monk Unit ‘Buddhist Sentai Mikkyoger’ will handle this!”
Shut up. I hope my Weiss Techno kills all of you, thought Naruze as she prepared her next spell with half-lidded eyes.
The steam cleared up as if splitting down the center and a voice came from within it.
“Ohhhhh, dear. Do we only get the one opponent?”
A few figures stood approximately fifteen meters away.
There were four of them.
The steam explosion should have sent fragments flying everywhere. From as close as they were, they could not have evaded it, but the people standing there were unharmed. Also…
“There’s something wrong with them!?”
The person standing closest to Naruze was a very thin woman with giant metal balls chained to her legs.
Her flesh seemed to have been scraped away, her body seemed made of withered branches, and she wore heavy makeup. England’s female uniform was wrapped tightly around her and her right hand was lightly held up with palm out. She trembled, but her face twisted into a smile.
“I am one of Trumps’ 10s and Oxford Academy’s Vice Chancellor, Robert Dudley.”
Naruze had heard of them. The group that protected Elizabeth, as well as the entirety of England, went by the name Trumps and even had their own divine website.
The historical Robert Dudley was the cornerstone of the army and rumored to be Elizabeth’s lover, but he had left the political world due to suspicion in a murder case. So in England…
…They gave the name to a woman to avoid that confusion.
“Then that person behind you is...?”
The figure seemed to nod. Standing behind Dudley was someone a head taller than Dudley who was quite tall herself. Also…
It was a woman shaped like an egg. She wore England’s female uniform like an eggshell.
“One of the 10s. Vice President. William Cecil.”
She gave each statement slowly as if having trouble breathing.
Next, a man with black skin stepped forward next to Cecil. He had a slender yet well-trained body, wore a white tank top on his upper body, and had two long, narrow cases hanging down from his waist.
Naruze recognized him. Anyone involved in modern cultural works would recognize him. He stared at her through his glasses and noise sounded from the printing incantation devices attached to the bottom of his shoes, but Naruze spoke up regardless.
“I never thought the leader of England’s cultural clubs, the athlete poet Ben Jonson, would be here.”
“You. Trumps was my idea, so I want to be involved as much as I can. And today, I have brought this treasured girl.”
“Judge,” said Naruze with a nod.
She then turned to the girl standing behind Jonson.
…An otaku. No other word would fit
The girl seemed to have the long ears of the long lived race, her hair was tied casually back, and her bangs were long. Her glasses hid her face, she wore the uniform suit with no skirt below a white coat, she wore sandals, she wore a backpack over her back, and she carried a paper bag.
“You would never think she’s Shakespeare, England’s most famous author.”
“You. Does the charm of the real deal surprise you? Jewels are meant to be kept tucked away in boxes, are they not?”
As Jonson spoke while taking some light steps, Shakespeare stared down at the paperback book in her hand and occasionally muttered something. Naruze on the other hand waved a hand to those behind her.
“Eh?” they all asked.
Naruze responded without bothering to turn around.
“That group includes one of England’s Testamenta Arma users and their Logismoi Oplo user.”
Just like Tres España, they likely intended to use Musashi as a stage to show off their strength. In which case…
“We need to make sure we don’t end up being the underdog. Trainers would use weak underdogs that could not even fight back to give their fighting dog confidence, but what do you call them if they can and do fight back?”
“O-oh? If you fight back but still lose, doesn’t that just make you a loser?”
Dudley held out her right palm and began to move forward.
However, someone else stepped forward first.
“Here I go...”
It was Cecil. Despite the great size of her round body, her gait was light and silent. However…
Shinagawa violently shook and everyone toward the front of the ship was slammed to the deck in an instant.
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