Horizon:Volume 3B Chapter 58
Chapter 58: Warrior of the Lightning Sky
None can oppose
Point Allocation (Victory)
Light shined diagonally down from the setting sun.
Eight great shapes filled the sky. They said Musashi on the side and many transport ships moved back and forth between them and the city below.
The Musashi was sending the Magdeburg evacuees down to a Protestant city near the border between M.H.R.R. and Holland. As the evacuees on the deck were being ferried down by transport ships, the number of people on its surface shrank.
The festival died down as the number of people dwindled, but new movement was filling the Musashi.
Repairs were beginning on several of the ships.
Repairs had begun en route for the damage done to Musashino by Shibata and the galley that morning, but the damage from the battle in IZUMO and before had yet to be repaired.
The repairs generally began with the main frame and the exterior connected to it and the people began moving and working on the scaffolding set up on the outside of the ships.
However, two people stopped moving on the scaffolding for the Musashi’s starboard side.
That was the site of the repairs for the armor damaged in the battle with Hexagone Française the previous day. A blond young man held a large repair charm next to the railing. He and a girl with two large false arms viewed a sign frame.
The sign frame contained divine mail from Tres España labelled “To Tachibana Gin and Muneshige”.
Tachibana Muneshige turned to Gin who stared intently at the sign frame.
“Gin, Master Dousetsu has…”
“Judge. My father has entered the battle,” she said. “How troublesome.”
Gin sighed and silently lamented how childish her father could be.
“Once you came here, Master Muneshige, my father visited K.P.A. Italia claiming it was a retirement trip; but I never thought he would fail to act his age and become a student. And their vice chancellor no less. He can be viewed as a guest there because Tres España lent some of its fighting force to K.P.A. Italia during the Age of the Gods, but otherwise he would have been tarnishing the Tachibana name by ignoring the history recreation.”
Based on the message from Fusae, he seemed to be having a lot of fun.
“All he did was bring down one measly warship, but it sounds like he is jumping around like a monkey to celebrate. A gentleman should really restrict himself to simply relaxing one cheek. …Ah.”
She turned to Muneshige and stared directly at him.
“You are always smiling regardless, so you get a pass.”
The people working around them all froze in place. Naomasa, the site supervisor, looked like she had seen something unbelievable, but Gin ignored it because Muneshige did not seem to mind.
At any rate…
“Do you think my father’s strange behavior is his way of relieving the stress of not getting a TV show made about him? The stupider of the two Honda families really is a thorn in our side.”
“If you say so,” said Muneshige. “But I think Master Dousetsu joined K.P.A. Italia so the Testament Union would accept our inherited names.”
“You are too soft on my father,” she declared expressionlessly.
“Um,” he hesitated as she sighed.
“Honestly, the original individual from the Age of the Gods was said to have cut a bolt of lightning with his sword, so he was known as the ‘Lightning Cutter’. What kind of overpowered nonsense is that? And after his hemiplegia, he had to be carried onto the battlefield with a palanquin, but everything got even more exciting for him then. Talk about insane. …Of course, my father managed to recreate all that, so I suppose that means there have been two people that insane throughout history. And that is why he was made the enemy in Cutting World Hondalia. …Master Muneshige, you should stay on the proper path. Do that and you can be the protagonist.”
“If I’m the protagonist, will you be the heroine? Then I need to work hard.”
Mishina Hiro was passing by just then and she gave Muneshige a frightened look. She grabbed her lab coat’s collar and fanned herself with it, but Muneshige ignored her and smiled.
“If that happens, Master Dousetsu will be jealous, won’t he?”
“That is not…what I was trying to say.”
Gin hung her head a bit and clasped the fingers of her false arms, but she looked up in realization and faced the sign frame again.
“M-Master Muneshige, let’s focus on contacting my father. We can wait until later to discuss everything else in depth!”
Tachibana Dousetsu was surrounded by smoke and the setting sun washed over him.
Intermittent explosions and rumblings filled the rear port iron-clad ship as it slowly began to fall. From that second ship he had brought down, Dousetsu looked around while used his four legs to turn like a horse.
The boxy ship of the warship-controlling automaton sat on the deck. The automaton inside had lost its synchronization due to the ship’s destruction and it was in an unmoving state of shock.
Dousetsu looked to the automaton and the kanun-style controller it was connected to.
With a swing of his large sword, he severed the base of the boxy ship from the deck.
He suddenly turned west and saw something falling from the deck of the front center ship he had destroyed not long before. As the ship tilted and sank toward the ocean, one of the same boxy ships for the automatons that controlled the warships fell from it.
Dousetsu did not watch to see if it would safely land in the ocean. He looked back to the ship he was on now and saw strength filling this automaton’s eyes. Once she grasped the situation, she spoke.
“I am not showing you pity. I am simply removing you from another’s grasp and returning you to a state in which you can rely on god. Will you rely on god, will you share the fate of this ship, or will you fight that fate? The choice is yours.”
With that said, he raced across the deck, his four legs moving just like a horse’s.
He held the large sword Kaminarigiri in his right hand and its blade shined a bluish-white.
The repeated lightning strikes had already ethereally electrified the surrounding air.
…I guess I’ve used it a little too much.
“I want to avoid dulling the blade, but this battlefield leaves me little choice.”
The enemy commander, Kuki Yoshitaka, would be aboard the enemy command ship at the center of the rear ships.
If he brought down their command ship and defeated Kuki Yoshitaka, they could hold off this invasion by the iron-clad ships.
From there, they could continue as they had. The remaining ships of the Murakami Navy could support the Seto Inland Corridor and M.H.R.R. could be pushed back. If they then quickly worked out a ceasefire or truce, they could buy some peaceful time.
Dousetsu faced the command ship and took a great leap.
Two iron-clad ships remained: the rear central command ship and the rear starboard ship to its right.
In midair, Dousetsu realized those two remaining ships were picking up speed. He could not tell whether they were trying to move away from him or trying to crush the Murakami Navy as quickly as possible.
…Do they have some sort of plan?
He did not know, but he could still catch up from where he was. Even so, a change came over the battlefield as soon as he began to descend.
His enemy took the form of crows. Three long virtual gun barrels wrapped in black light horizontally drew countless circles high above him.
Those were the weapons of the demon girl who had just barely avoided his attack earlier.
He spotted her on the bow of the command ship he was currently jumping toward.
The demon girl was looking his way with both eyes opened.
Her voice reached him from the depths of the intersecting shellfire and explosions.
“Peck and devour him, messenger of heaven!”
A moment later, the attack arrived.
However, this was not the beams of light she had used before.
“Fire a great cannon!”
At Magoichi’s command, a great cannon took shape in the sky.
The black circles revolving at different speeds slid vertically and linked together.
This created a massive cannon barrel created from accumulated black light.
At the base, the three Yatagarasu rotated with their virtual barrels deployed. The great cannon was thirty meters across and at least one hundred twenty meters long.
Three Garuda birds were created atop the cannon and they gave three cries to indicate the completion of the barrel.
Upon hearing their cries, Magoichi’s false bird eye glowed and looked up to its prey.
She stared at the giant four-legged warrior falling toward her.
“Go, Urban Destruction Yatagarasu! Open your three beaks!!”
The three Yatagarasu roared.
Their virtual barrels burst and the black cannons of light literally exploded.
Their cry resounded through the sky.
The three blasts filled the black muzzle in the heavens above and a thirty meter wide pillar of black light dropped straight down.
The crow light crashed into Tachibana Dousetsu’s four-legged god of war.
Magoichi saw the black light slam into Dousetsu like a hammer and swallow him up.
This attack did more than fry the Yatagarasu’s barrels; most of the frame would need an overhaul. It required a lot of preparation time, so it was only usable for sniping or lying in wait as she had done here. However, it was an important technique for anti-ship or anti-city battles.
…I never thought I would have to use it against an individual!
But with this, she knew she had lived up to the expectations held by M.H.R.R. Student Council President Matthias. The Yatagarasu were now unusable without an overhaul, so she had to withdraw and leave the rest to the strategy Hashiba had prepared.
However, something happened to the black pillar exploding from the sky.
Magoichi saw the color black burst open.
Magoichi watched as the rotating pillar of light was torn to pieces.
She also heard three sharp noises as the three black wings scattered. The Yatagarasu had been deflected.
Before she could wonder why, a black surge filled the sky.
As the pillar of black light dropped from the heavens, a four-legged god of war split it open and burst out.
Its blade was made of lightning itself and the splitting light tore through the black pillar.
Magoichi knew what had happened.
…He let the pillar of light hit him.
“He sent lightning down before the beak could fall and that lightning pierced the pillar of light from above!?”
She saw exactly that overhead.
Dousetsu cried out and sent the black light flying in every direction.
The crow light exploded in the heavens. For a finishing blow, the lightning raced in every possible direction and even swept across the deck on which Magoichi stood. As the attack reached the bow…
“Kuki! I did what I could! The rest is up to you!!”
She flung herself into the air just as the net of lightning swept through it.
The four-legged god of war dropped to the command ship’s deck.
Rather than land, he slammed his legs onto the deck.
The giant ship shook, but Dousetsu maintained his balance and raised his lowered upper body. He checked on Kaminarigiri and…
…That was an intense discharge.
Kaminarigiri had two stages in its destruction process.
First, the blade emitted a prayer-style ether resonance that replaced the surrounding space with “lightning”.
And second, Kaminarigiri cut through that space because it could cut through “lightning”.
The second stage produced a reverse-resonance in the blade that had called in the lightning. This reversed the “calling” into a “rejection” and allowed it to “cut” the lightning.
However, repeatedly calling in the lightning caused the space composing the blade itself to grow accustomed to “lightning” and it was unable to produce its full power even with its reverse vibration. The ether composing that space would overheat. Once that happened, he could only wait for the ley line to flow in and cool that space.
That was his current situation.
…That gunner isn’t half bad.
When Magoichi had fired the Yatagarasu’s full power at him, she had been doing more than simply attacking him. She had likely been trying to overheat Kaminarigiri to protect the command ship.
Well done, thought Dousetsu, even as he took action toward robbing the command ship of its ability to fight.
He started by rushing across the deck.
He sliced the boxy automaton ship from the deck and let it drop.
It only took one strike and the ship shook. With the control automaton removed, the ship could only drift from inertia and it could not control its cannons.
…That should take care of things for now.
Dousetsu turned toward the bridge deck where Kuki had stood.
No, he was there. However, he was in midair rather than on the deck.
Kuki had abandoned the command ship by leaping to the other remaining ship.
As soon as Dousetsu noticed Kuki, he heard shouting voices from below.
They came from the crew as they abandoned ship. However, they were doing more than just flee. Some descended to the shore below while equipped with land war equipment while others flew small escape boats to the same remaining ship as Kuki.
None of them were giving up the fight.
They were abandoning the command ship and continuing the fight either on the surface or on the remaining ship.
To accomplish this, that last ship sped up as Kuki jumped to it. They had only done so once seeing that Dousetsu had severed the control automaton. They would leave him behind on the command ship as they went on to crush the Murakami Navy and open a path through the Seto Inland Corridor.
Dousetsu’s vision devices showed him Kuki landing on the rear deck of the accelerating iron-clad ship. His demon body endured the hard landing and turned toward Dousetsu.
He had great strength in his eyes. He had not given up the fight and he demonstrated it with his ship’s acceleration. Dousetsu could not yet use Kaminarigiri and he was being left behind, so he gave a yell.
“1st Special Duty Officer, the enemy only has a single ship left! Finish this with your shellfire!”
As soon as he landed, Kuki instructed the ship to direct its defenses forward.
The ship was preparing to plunge into the diagonal wall formed by the Murakami Navy.
The enemy’s tilted net was set up to sweep them out toward the sea.
Piercing into that net held a risk of mutual destruction, but…
…The enemy is not as thick as before!
If they directed their defenses forward and pushed onward, they would be able to reach the other side. And if they fired to the sides as they passed through, they could strike the Murakami Navy’s diagonal net from the back.
“What’s our distance!?”
“Less than eight hundred!”
The collision was near, so he made his decision.
“Watch the enemy’s movements carefully! Most likely, they’ll change their formation at the last second!”
The enemy’s current formation put them at a disadvantage. Everything that had happened told Kuki they were not an opponent that would let that stand. They had gone through detailed training that gave them a wide variety of options to choose from.
…They’re luring us in.
Despite that thought, Kuki gave his instructions.
“Continue forward and break through! We can’t reach Aki without surpassing them, so do not hesitate here! Focus only on moving forward!”
Kuki could feel the acceleration of the ship as he braced himself for their approach on the enemy.
Not long now, he thought. And not long until I finish Kuki Yoshitaka’s role in this battle.
He was close to completing his history recreation.
Once he did that, his deeds would forever remain in history and people would even speak of them if the chance arose.
My desire to complete this is nothing more than a desire for honor, he told himself.
…Pouring all of my being into this opportunity is the true desire of anyone living in this age!
An insha kotob appeared next to his face.
Three Legs: “Kuki! You take care of Hashiba’s strategy!”
Magoichi must have landed because a divine chat message reached him. However, Kuki had to correct her.
Nine Horns: “No, Suzuki. This was not Hashiba’s strategy. This came from the one who is your great master and my master. Hashiba prepared this on Chancellor Oda’s instructions.”
Nine Horns: “That is another reason why I must fulfill my role here.”
With that said, Kuki instructed the ship to accelerate. He wanted to pick up enough speed that breaking through the Murakami Navy’s diagonal net would not slow them down.
The wind blew as the ship accelerated. Shellfire flew in from straight ahead, but the iron-clad ship’s armor could endure it. Even if the enemy tried to ram the ship, they were now too few in number. If they acted carelessly and created an opening the iron-clad ship could pass through, they would have made a grave error.
…They can no longer rely on their numbers to attack!
In the port sky, the command ship ascended away from the battlefield.
Kuki had given it a fixed course before abandoning it. It had lost its ability to fight, but it moved away with Dousetsu onboard.
…Just as we had planned!
He watched his previous ship disappear into the sky and instructed his current ship to accelerate even more.
“Go! Our destination is Itsukushima of Aki! K.P.A. Italia’s headquarters!”
As he commanded the Murakami Navy, Murakami Motoyoshi realized the battle would be decided right here.
The enemy had a single iron-clad ship remaining. Another was ascending out of control, but it could no longer fight and Dousetsu had taken it over.
…That leaves this one.
He could not allow the ship carrying Kuki to reach Aki. To the west behind him, the guard unit and anti-air equipment had been deployed around Itsukushima, but a lot of them required his guidance and keeping the enemy away would be ideal.
So, he decided. This battlefield is reliant on my performance here.
He reminded himself that he was originally from Hexagone Française but had been sent here because K.P.A. Italia was shorthanded.
At times, he had viewed it as being removed from his clan’s main force and he had heard people calling it a demotion.
“But it’s strange. …Now, the former pirates of the Murakami Navy are standing at a great watershed for the world.”
One of the nearby people giving instructions to the gunners and pilots spoke up.
“Don’t call it a watershed, boss. Pirates can’t be climbing mountains. …Call it an oceanic front instead.”
“Testament,” agreed Motoyoshi with a small smile as he looked to the iron-clad ship charging straight toward them. “Well done. The strong can be cautious of the weak, but they need not fear them. That is a wonderfully bold charge.”
He raised his right hand again.
“Answer the enemy by switching to the final stage of our formation. …Let’s pull this oceanic front our way.”
The enemy had yet to show a second wave of ships. They may have been showing their faithfulness to the Testament descriptions by not sending in any more until the iron-clad ships had finished fighting.
Whatever the reason, it was convenient for Motoyoshi.
If they could hold their line here, the pope-chancellor and the others would work out a ceasefire or something else before any new ships could reach them.
“Just as in history, the Murakami Navy will be destroyed here. I thank all of you for the work you have done.”
When he raised his right hand, everyone turned his way and nodded back at him. They gather their resolve quickly, he thought.
…I suppose I trained them that way.
With a bitter smile, he swung down his hand and spoke.
“No ship is flying back. That is all.”
- Means “Lightning Cutter”.
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