Horizon:Volume 3B Chapter 51
Chapter 51: Tangled Winged One in the Sky
What do people call it
When one chooses
To step forward?
Point Allocation (Challenge)
Below Musashino’s bridge, a demonic long-lived and a young man both chose to clash.
“Demon Shibata” Katsuie reacted to the name Tachibana Muneshige.
…Tres España’s former 1st special duty officer and the inheritor of the Peerless in the West’s name!
Katsuie had heard he had transferred to Musashi but had been removed from the battlefront due to a leg injury.
“Were you drawn out by me!?”
With that shouted question, he tried to turn Kamewari around and strike again despite just having swung it.
His enemy was faster.
Katsuie bragged that no one could compare to the speed of his blade, but this enemy was faster.
He could make any number of excuses, but it came down to letting his guard down.
Meanwhile, his enemy moved in. The young man leaped up on top of the airborne steel bars.
He threw the steel toward Katsuie, but this was not an attack.
…Is he correcting the path of the falling steel!?
The enemy was not attacking him. The smashed steel bars had flown off course, so the young man was simply correcting that.
The Testamenta Arma’s effects did not come into play.
And the corrected paths took the steel right in front of Katsuie. They fell like rain and interfered with his approach by hitting him or obstructing his path.
Instead of a direct victory, the young man was interfering with Katsuie’s plan and seeking a battlefield victory.
“You’re thinking about this as someone weak, aren’t you!?”
Muneshige continually corrected the paths of the steel bars.
The two hundred bars had been broken into four hundred by Kamewari. They were all about two meters long. If they were seen as short spears, this was the same as producing four hundred spears in midair.
They acted as shields to hide him and he constantly made them into weapons.
His job was simple: place his hand on them and throw them back to their original position. He would use the reactive force of the throw to flip back and he would use that rotation to throw the next one.
By continuing the pattern, he moved through the air while spinning from bar to bar and he started moving upwards.
In no time, he had launched seventy-one of them and he felt heat in his arms.
…It produces this much heat without holy spell cooling!?
He felt that was a problem to solve in the future, but his arms were moving well even after his long break. He guessed that was partially due to focusing on strengthening his upper body when he could not use his legs.
He was satisfied that he could feel his actions in the back of his upper arm more than before.
At the end of his repeated spinning and throwing, he arrived at the top of the falling steel bars.
At the same time, the spears of corrected steel crashed into the straw roof.
The first thirty or so formed a standing barricade and the rest fell on Katsuie.
…Will this stop him!?
Each one weighed just below thirty kilograms and that had been seventy-one of them. It would have been more of a collision than a hit.
But Muneshige heard a voice.
“Thaaat should do it.”
Katsuie did only one thing as the seventy-one steel bars crashed into him.
As he ran, he spread his arms, caught the steel, and held them between his arms.
Katsuie wrapped his arms around the seventy-one steel bars as if pushing them forward as he ran.
He held Kamewari in his right hand and Animus Caritas in his left, so he could not hold them with his full strength. However, he hooked them with the inside of his elbow and moved toward the ones sticking up from the floor up ahead.
He caught them in his chest.
All the metal clanged together and did not stop. He blew away the straw of the roof while adding a dozen or so steel bars to those in his arms.
His legs were spread wide to bear the weight and he passed through it all in two steps.
He held a bundle of steel too large to fully wrap his arms around, but he held it even tighter.
He moved his right arm down and his left up to twist and compress the bundle.
He had twisted together the steel until it was fused together by the pressure. The two ends were still separated, but it was now three times the length.
He had created a massive metal club.
He then pressed the clump of steel against his chest and threw it forward.
“You can have it back!”
His running feet gave a kick straight up toward Muneshige. The movement was light and casual, but the metal club accelerated so quickly that it seemed to vanish.
It flew up toward Muneshige.
Muneshige made a spilt-second decision.
He would evade.
But any evasive action would be stopped by the Testamenta Arma.
…So I will simply run!
For that, he moved. He stood on the steel bars that remained in midair like a raft and he ran straight forward.
This would be much easier than his past feat of running along a blade. Or so he hoped.
His legs were still not fully healed and he had been out of action for so long. However, he needed to evade and quickly, so…
He stepped on the first bar.
He felt it below his foot, but he felt more tension than relief. He was painfully aware that he was not fully recovered, but he shifted that from fear to caution.
After his first step, he leaped to the second bar of the airborne steel raft.
He realized that his leg was weak as he pulled it back, but he still stepped onto the third. The massive metal club crashed into the steel bars from below.
It precisely struck the area Muneshige had previously been in. All of the steel rose up like a wave and surged toward him.
The steel flew upwards and jabbed in from below like blades, so…
Without rushing or evading, he changed positions simply by running.
But he had a thought.
…This is too slow!!
His movements had no speed behind them. He was acting based on his balance and instincts, but he lacked the mobility needed to be called a martial art.
He was simply moving across the midair steel bars.
When he kicked off one of them, an unpleasant sensation reached the bottom of his foot. The feeling underfoot was lacking as if he had broken through the floor.
He had used too much strength, rushed himself, and failed because of it.
Muneshige realized he had made a mistake on the battlefield. And when facing a powerful enemy.
That would have been unthinkable in the past.
But that fact did not fill him with surprise or fear.
He felt something like anger and it was directed at himself.
But emotions would not accomplish anything. He fully lost his balance in midair and heard a voice. It came from almost directly below the steel bars.
“Get him, Kamewari.”
The breaking and smashing was fired in a straight line toward his escape path.
At the same time, Muneshige gave a shout while feeling his own inexperience at being unable to resolve this on his own.
As soon as he cried out, Muneshige saw an explosion strike Katsuie below.
It was a shell shot.
The bursting sound and blast of water vapor crossed paths with Kamewari’s strike.
He turned around and saw Gin and her Arcabuz Cruz on the roof of a viewing platform on Okutama’s front deck.
Muneshige had drawn Katsuie’s attention upwards. Once Katsuie had used Kamewari and left himself open, she had fired from outside Animus Caritas – Novum’s range.
A series of five shots were fired into the area around Katsuie.
After seeing that fact and hearing the series of five solid sounds, Muneshige understood he had done his duty. And as soon as he saw Gin nod toward him, Kamewari’s smashing arrived from below.
The thirty meter slash exploded out toward him when he was unable to evade.
Gin watched with her eyebrows slightly raised. Above the explosive blast she had created on the next ship forward, Kamewari’s attack was going to hit Muneshige.
At the very moment that she judged it had struck, Asama – who was here to assess the situation and heal the injured – let out a shout. She brought her hands to her cheeks and Gin assumed she was going to voice her worry.
“Kyaaaah! He was smashed to pulpy bits!!”
Is she really a shrine maiden? wondered Gin before speaking up.
“Do not worry, Lady Asama.”
The half-dragon was there. Urquiaga had passed by Katsuie once, but he had waited until the timing was right and had flown back in to snatch Muneshige out of the air. He was already flying in a downward arc toward Gin and Asama. Held to the half-dragon’s chest, Muneshige noticed Gin.
And he gave a bitter smile.
He only forced a smile when things were not going well for him or he was feeling down.
…Do not worry, Master Muneshige. We are still thirty-seven away from all fifty times, so let’s keep trying.
Gin faced forward to the enemy who was already halfway through the area below Musashino’s bridge.
“Did that stop him?”
It had not. The smoke of the six shells burst apart and someone ran out. It was…
No. Narimasa was indeed out front, but he was floating off the ground.
He was a shield.
Katsuie had grabbed his collar from behind with the hand holding Kamewari and he was holding him out front as a shield.
Katsuie’s voice reached Gin and he breathed out smoke as he left the rest of the smoke.
“That was a close one!”
That one really was close, thought Katsuie as he ran.
…That gunner wife seriously targeted my solar plexus.
She knows the weak point of someone who just ate. If that had hit, I might have been enjoying Lady Oichi’s lunch and love in reverse. That would just be too much of a waste.
But, he thought.
“Narimasa, I’m glad you were here!”
He recalled the moment of danger and the valiant deed of his underclassman.
Narimasa had jumped in from the side to intercept the gunner wife’s first shot.
He had opened his Lily Flower emblems and splendidly crushed the shell.
I’ve got a great underclassman. I never thought he would be so worried for me he’d come back. Maybe he’s gay.
Regardless, after intercepting the first shot, that idiot posed in front of me and shouted, “Hell yeah!”
I just about ran into him, so I grabbed his collar and picked him up.
He then gave a tremendous effort against the rest of that wife’s shells.
Long story short, I’m safe.
“And that’s all that matters.”
Also, Narimasa was heavy, so he swung him around to throw him away.
The small fry was waving his hands around after using Lily Flower to repeatedly punch the shells.
“Hey, wait! You’re an upperclassman, aren’t you? At least say thanks. I saved your life, you know?”
“And I just saved your life from my bad mood, so we’re even!”
“That’s not fair!!”
He was annoying, so Katsuie swung him once and tossed him aside.
Katsuie then spoke to Ichimasu. Behind him, her galley had already arrived above the Musashino.
With its acceleration, it would catch up almost immediately.
They were entering the most important time, so…
“Ichimasu! Align your cannons! I’m almost at the end of Musashino’s bridge!”
“It’s just gotta be your way, doesn’t it?”
On the tilted bridge, Ichimasu smiled bitterly and spoke to Katsuie via divine transmission.
“Shiba! We’re going to align our front starboard cannons with you! Make sure to keep straight!”
And, she thought while swinging her right hand toward the crew on the bridge.
“Prepare to pilot us on an escape path! But don’t rush it until we’ve fired around the vice chancellor all we can!”
The gunners placed their sights on the gaps in the gravity barriers around Katsuie.
…This is our last chance to fire!
Just as she prepared to give the command, a sharp voice reached her from the control officer.
“The Technohexen is forcibly approaching from the rear! She intends to settle this!”
“I’m not about to let you fire!”
Noticing what Katsuie and the galley were up to, Naruze made a final barrage of attacks.
Her tower of coins was nearing its end, but…
There was a large dent in the galley’s starboard armor. It was toward the front and just above the center. Naruze’s efforts to concentrate her fire there had paid off. To motivate herself, she had named that spot Margot and rewarded herself with a pantomimed grope for every hundred hits on that spot. So far, she had earned seven gropes.
But her own upper and lower armor had already been worn down.
One shot from the front had been especially bad. A fragment from a shattered shell had flown right toward her. She had used her wings to raise her hips so it escaped below her crotch, but it made her thankful she was a girl. She wondered if she could use that same situation to naturally make a girl out of a boy, but she concluded it probably would not work.
“Regardless, that was a close one!”
The galley’s cannons showed no sign of slowing.
She had destroyed a few of the secondary cannons, but they were replenished from within since the inside was divided into blocks. This was why non-turret cannons were so difficult to deal with.
And she had assumed they were small ether cannons, but they fired a physical shell as a core. Her shots were coin bullets given homing and acceleration, so the physical core was too good at counteracting them.
But even so, she ducked below, had her black wings grazed, performed an ideal evasion, and forced herself to continue forward.
She felt pain in her right arm because it had been grazed on the way here. She had cast a spell to stop the bleeding, but the defense spell covering her body had shattered into scattering light and she felt a chill from within. She wondered if the wound reached the flesh, but she chose to focus on moving.
She continued on to break their armor.
If she did, it would disturb the enemy at least a little and that would surely help the Musashi at least a little, so…
“There!! Eighth grope!”
She predicted the timing of the enemy’s shellfire and fired twice as a decoy and twice for real.
With that cry, the side of the galley exploded.
The sound of the hit was the loud tone of breaking metal.
…I finally broke it!
The damaged armor bent and twisted. It seemed to lean back and was finally peeled away when the base exploded.
Naruze had destroyed it, but…
“That’s your trick!?”
While slipping below the giant piece of armor that flew off the ship, the Weiss Hexen looked forward.
A large secondary cannon existed below the destroyed armor.
The large secondary cannon was a four-gun turret-less cannon.
On the galley’s bridge, Ichimasu crossed her arms with a Garuda on her head.
“It was only just delivered and it came with a cover to avoid any damage. I knew you’d target it if you could see it and I didn’t want you to judge its power, so I was planning to keep it hidden until just before we used it. …Still, I’m impressed you destroyed that cover. It was no different from the standard armor.”
She bent her eyes but looked away from the Technohexen.
She gave a bitter smile as she looked past the bow and to the surface of the Musashino.
“Well, whatever. The cannons are set for use against K.P.A. Italia, so I knew they would be a little rough. Cookie said he increased the density to help battle the small ships of the Murakami Navy, but they’re still pretty useless against an individual who gets up close. It’s pretty lame to talk so big when all you can do is graze them.”
She had the Garuda on her head give a squawk.
“Fire the four-gun secondary cannon. Blow away the camouflage along with the Technohexen.”
A moment later, all noise vanished from Naruze’s surroundings. The small cannons had suddenly stopped firing.
The secondary cannon in front of her had a caliber of fifteen centimeters, but the three meter base suggested it was an ether cannon. Instead of firing a shell, it was sure to fire a straight and thick beam of light that would scorch the sky.
It transformed as it prepared to fire.
The entire four-gun secondary cannon slid back and the muzzles grew white with heat.
Naruze began to evade downward. She could not use Weiss Fräulein as a shield against an ether cannon blast and she wanted gravity’s assistance, so…
She grabbed the acceleration panel and pressed Weiss Fräulein down on top of her.
As soon as she evaded, she would attack. She would fire four homing bullets between the enemy’s beams.
She opened a Magie Figur to setup the homing bullets while preparing to descend, but…
Her right hand suddenly slipped from the control panel.
It was so sudden that her right chest slammed into Weiss Fräulein. It struck the right side of her jaw and her vision briefly wavered.
She quickly realized what had caused this: her blood. Her right arm was injured and the charm applying the hemostatic spell had peeled off due to the blood and her continuous quick movements. The blood had then wet her hand.
The injury and blood loss had numbed her senses.
The blood had dripped from her sleeve to her glove and made the grip slippery.
It only delayed her for an instant, but it was still a deadly opening.
She gave up on evading, pressed her body against Weiss Fräulein and tried to move herself downwards.
But as soon as she noticed heat straight ahead, the four beams of light shot out into the air and toward her.
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