Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 74
Chapter 74: Attackers and Defenders of the Wall
What keeps you from thinking
That the preparation is the most fun?
Point Allocation (Result-Focused Thinking)
People formed ranks and travelled along the path south of Magdeburg and upstream of the Elbe River. The warriors wore a mix of M.H.R.R. and P.A. Oda uniforms.
The five thousand man assault unit kept a battalion of one thousand high-speed mobile shells in the lead.
They were marching for the downstream side of Magdeburg.
The mobile shells in the lead were all from the Holy Knights’ Steel Association brand. The unique white high-speed style shells had rounded corners and the Klassisch Kunst acceleration spell of their rear accelerators were idling.
Their footsteps rang loud and their raised guns and spears dully glowed.
The sky was covered in clouds.
Due to the dark clouds rising from K.P.A. Italia in the south, clouds had begun to cover M.H.R.R. from the south as evening had turned to night.
The great noise of raging water filled the darkness from downstream the dammed river. The mobile shells were upstream, but the Elbe’s width was fluctuating and a few waves were beginning to arrive from downstream.
The one who seemed to guide them all was a demonic man wearing a black M.H.R.R. uniform.
He was Katsuie. With Narimasa alongside him, he raised his deep voice as he ran.
“Shuuuuut the hell uuuuuup!”
His voice was loud enough to be heard over the raging river that was beginning to flow backwards. The following men repeated his cry.
“Shuuuuut the hell uuuuuup!”
The sunglasses-wearing man glared over at the demonic man running next to him.
“God, you’re annoying.”
The following men repeated him as well.
“God, you’re annoyiiiiiing!”
“Narimasa, you son of a bitch!!”
“Narimasa, you son of a biiiiitch!!”
“Shut up, Shibata! And shut up, the rest of you! Anyway, um, everyone stop!”
After a mixture of “Shaja!” and “Testament!”, the land warriors stopped their advance and lined up in step.
Katsuie turned his back on Magdeburg to face the others. The raging Elbe was to his left, Magdeburg’s south gate was far behind him, and he loudly clapped his hands once.
Next to him, Narimasa spread his knees, crouched down, and raised a hand toward the others.
“Okay, just stay where you are. Let’s see… this annoying upperclassman is going to tell you a bunch of stuff, so listen or whatever.”
“Dammit, don’t you have any motivation at all!? Look!”
Katsuie opened a large insha kotob for them all to see.
“Lady Oichi sent me this worried divine mail! It says, ‘Master Katsuie and everyone else, please do your very best so none of you get hurt’! Isn’t she a skilled writer!?”
“Not in the slightest! Isn’t that the hiragana font the Protestants made!?”
“What!? It only looked like crap when you used it because it was your writing! You just don’t get it! Besides, she was even kind enough to mention all of you small fries as ‘everyone else’!”
“Are you picking a fight with the rest of us? …And don’t all of you get all teary-eyed over it!”
“Oh?” Katsuie twisted around and looked down at Narimasa. “It looks like you only count as ‘everyone else’ to Lady Oichi. Doesn’t it, Naru Naruuuu?”
“G-god, you are the worst superior imaginable!”
“What’s wrong with this?” Katsuie placed a sheathed Kamewari over his shoulder, turned back to the others, and continued. “I learned a lot about the river bottom from fishing around here and when I gave Hashiba that information, I got this plan back. …If we fail here, it’ll count as Hashiba’s failure.”
“You just made it clear who wants to look out for Hashiba the most, you know?”
“The boss, right? And anyway, you worry about her too, don’t you?”
“She can push herself too hard.”
The others nodded in agreement with Narimasa, so Katsuie nodded back.
“Do this right, everyone. …This is the plan desperately thought up by the person I have to be defeated by eventually. If we can’t complete this, it’ll mean the struggle between Hashiba and me is only on that level.”
He then pointed Kamewari behind him where the water was beginning to press up against Magdeburg’s outer wall. The metallic sounds of the dam ships bumping into each other sounded like distant thunder, but he commented on that noise.
“The dam sure is shaking. …Anyway, Magdeburg has a height difference from its upstream end to its downstream end. In another ten minutes, the downstream end will be five meters deep, but by then, the defensive barrier will have reached its limit and been destroyed thanks to the water and a few other tricks of ours. We’ll use that to conquer the inside of the city, but Hexagone Française will arrive afterwards. To make sure we can actually leave, our limit is about fifteen minutes, so make sure you clean up the inside in that time.”
“What? Didn’t you say we could break the wall in five minutes back at the earlier meeting? Did you lower the average time because you aren’t confident we can do it?”
“Don’t be stupid. They’ve started working against us.” Katsuie clicked his tongue. “One of them has good instincts. Probably Musashi’s secretary. They took the defense spell systems set up along the river bank and moved them to the second story of some nearby houses. They alternatively put them either high or low. Do you get what that means?”
“Yeah. Instead of sitting in a straight line, it crisscrosses. It’s weaker to attacks from the side, but it has some flexibility to a direct push.”
“Oh, is that how it works? …Hey, everyone, if you cram your head full of little facts like this small fry, you’ll never move up in the world. You need to live in the big picture like me.”
“Shut up.” Katsuie waved a hand dismissively. “This means they’re taking this seriously and that sounds good to me. Right!?”
Another mixture of “shaja” and “testament” reached him.
Their responses brought a smile to the corner of his mouth.
“That’s what I like to hear,” he commented. “Okay! Don’t any of you forget that Lady Oichi was worried for you!”
Are you listening?
“Don’t waste your life! It may be an easy job, but when you die, make sure you do something useful first! Just in case, by some coincidence on a universal scale, Lady Oichi were to come across your grave, make sure you died in a way you can tell her with pride!”
They all nodded and held their weapons straight up. Then the man on the left end of the front row looked up in the sky and gave a shout.
“A sword in the right hand, the Testament in the left!”
The others yelled the same thing.
“A sword in the right hand! The Testament in the left!”
This time, the woman on the right end of the front row cried out.
“Courage in the right sword, justice in the left Testament!”
“Courage in the right sword! Justice in the left Testament!”
From there on, they all shouted in unison.
“Victory in the right courage! Tolerance in the left justice!”
“Peace in the right victory! Blessings in the left tolerance!”
“Protection in the right peace! Eternity in the left blessings!”
After a cry of “shaja” or “testament”, they took a breath. Next, they all looked into the sky and gave a roar.
“A sword for protection! The Testament for eternity!!”
They all prepared their weapons and Katsuie opened his mouth.
“All right! The water hasn’t reached us yet, but the barriers downstream are apparently sparking! …Mobile shell unit! Form three groups to attack in waves! Open the gate just as Hashiba instructed! From there, the solid and the nimble begin an urban battle in the submerged city!”
He gave one last order.
“Let’s finish this up in fifteen minutes!!”
Those inside Magdeburg held a strategy meeting with a sign frame opened in the center of the cathedral plaza. It displayed a map of Magdeburg that extended more north to south than east to west.
First, Naruze stood at the orchard on the southern end of the map.
“This orchard forms a slope from the outer wall to the river, doesn’t it? It has some hills and our Technohexen unit can stick it out firing from the sky, so I’d like to ask anyone who can’t fly to fire from the western wall.”
She swept a borrowed spear across the map’s orchard and a red line appeared along its path. She was indicating that they would concentrate their fire to stop the warriors advancing from the southern gate.
“We’ll guide them. Instead of driving them toward the outer wall, we’ll send them to the river.”
Guericke then raised his hand.
“Guiding them to the outer wall would take them along the western side where there are more hills, so it would be more difficult for them to advance. Wouldn’t it be best to fight them there instead of by the river?”
“More hills means it’s harder for us to target them. The outer wall is kind of like a mountain. And once the enemy has climbed the mountain, what do you think they’ll do when they realize they have a hilly way down to the northern urban area? Since there isn’t a set path, they’ll split into small units and move toward the city separately. Then the gunfire from the outer wall won’t be able to keep up.”
Naruze used the spear to indicate the path along the river.
“We’ll use our concentrated fire to keep them from the outer wall as much as possible. In the worst case, the high-speed mobile shells will rush in at quick but subsonic speeds, but they’ll be like sitting ducks on a straight path. We can fire horizontally at them from the city’s buildings. Once the water rises enough, the mobile shells will be out of the fight, but that will mean the lighter fighters who can travel through the mountains are coming. Those will be from P.A. Oda.”
Naruze continued from there.
“When that happens, those of us who can fly will fire on them from above. I’d like permission to use explosion spells.”
Guericke’s eyebrows moved at that.
“Those are the tactics of the anti-nonhuman mountain unit.”
“It’s officially known as the anti-witch unit, right? My father was a part of it.”
After Naruze sharply gave just the main points, Guericke finally nodded.
“You have permission.”
“Judge. I’ll be asking you to print my summer works, so make sure you’ve reconstructed by then.”
Only those behind Guericke saw him clench a fist in celebration behind his back.
This new voice belonged to Tomoe who looked at the interception formation Naruze had drawn.
“There are only a little over twenty Technohexen while the enemy is led by an assault unit of five thousand with twenty five thousand staying back to secure their escape route. With a difference in numbers that great, we should assume they’ll make it to the city pretty quickly.”
“And then it will be an urban battle.”
Futayo spoke up from the city portion of the map and she addressed what she held in her hand.
“I am very grateful for the repairs to Tonbokiri.”
“Thankful,” added Tonbokiri which now had Western decorations.
Using the spear, Futayo drew a line between the city and the orchard.
“I and Magdeburg’s three hundred crossdressing warriors will be waiting here to slow the enemy’s advance along with the gunfire from the city. And on top of that…”
She looked to one corner of the plaza where Neshinbara sat on the ground, leaning up against a bench. He was covered in oil and dirt and he waved a hand her way.
“While we buy some time, the noncombatants will be evacuated to Magdeburg’s transport ship in the nature park behind the cathedral. I would also like to ask that the hemispheres and other equipment are taken aboard. Once our defense line and the loading of the equipment is complete…”
She drew a line along the river.
“We will release the defense barriers bordering the Elbe River. By then, the water will likely have already flooded a fair bit, but by letting the water in ourselves, we can stop the enemy from advancing too far.”
In other words…
“We will flood our enemies along with Magdeburg and escape on the transport ship.”
They would submerge Magdeburg themselves.
After hearing that plan, it was the silver god of war on the north end of the map who nodded in agreement. Anne leaned forward on its shoulder.
“Yes, and we can escape to the Hexagone Française fleet arriving from the west. They will protect us. I’m not sure I like the idea of flooding the city, but when the other option is having it destroyed, I supposed it’s the better one. …Can we estimate how long until that happens?”
“We can.” Mazarin opened a signe cadre from where she stood next to Anne. “In approximately ten minutes. Thanks to the adjustments to the defense barriers by Musashi’s secretary, M.H.R.R. is likely expecting a full flood after ten minutes, so they will probably try to break through then.”
“But we will do it for them ahead of time? That will only confuse the enemy at first, but since we know the flood will come early, we can arrange our personnel and secure our escape routes accordingly. If you are one of the fighters and anything happens to you, you can escape west from the city walls. Hexagone Française will protect you.”
They all nodded and one of them, Masazumi, stood up. She then looked to Naruze and Futayo.
“As vice president I leave all immediate decisions to you two. The only remaining problem is the Musashi and our idiot.”
“My foolish brother will be here. As will the Musashi.”
Kimi crossed her arms while leaning against one of the plaza’s trees.
“Isn’t that right, Naruze?”
“Judge. Margot is with him, so they’ll definitely be on their way here. As for the Musashi…”
Naruze pointed to the northern sky with her spear.
“Hashiba gave a new warning against cruising here. Isn’t that right, Asama?”
“Yes,” said a long-haired figure walking from the cathedral.
It was Asama. She had changed into her shrine maiden outfit and several sign frames followed her around. She gave a sigh and then raised a hand toward Masazumi.
“I somehow managed to pick up the records from just before the divine transmissions were cut off. Hashiba did send a warning to the Musashi. Simply put, they said ‘we’ll be mad if you fly’.”
“Heh heh. How silly. If they say that, of course they’re going to fly.” Kimi looked at Asama and then the northern sky. “Horizon already tried to go save my foolish brother, so if you try to stop her here, she’ll definitely be coming.”
“My theory is Hashiba was trying to provoke them.”
“Go to sleep, nerd. We all know you’re half dead after rearranging those barriers.” Kimi took a step forward. “Heh heh. My foolish brother is coming, so is Horizon, and we’re about to go to Kantou. This should be a fun trip, but…”
She turned back to Neshinbara who was still sitting.
He nodded toward her sharp gaze.
“We already went over it, so you say it yourself, Aoi Sister-kun.”
“Judge.” She took a breath, shook her shoulders, and looked across everyone there. “Boys and girls of Musashi, once the city begins to flood, make sure to withdraw and come here. Don’t even think about waiting for my foolish brother or protecting the city. After all…”
“As soon as the Musashi arrives and takes us onboard, we will leave for Edo even if my foolish brother is not with us.”
Someone frantically spoke up when they heard that.
It was Asama.
Asama quickly walked over to Kimi.
…We’ll leave Toori-kun and the others behind?
She knew what Kimi meant. If waiting would place the entire Musashi in danger, they would have to leave even Toori behind.
That also means leaving Mito, Mary, and Tenzou behind, but…
…It’s a lot like Kimi to take on that role by only mentioning Toori-kun.
But, thought Asama. Are you really okay with that, Kimi?
She took a few more steps toward the girl.
But after moving that close, she realized something.
Kimi’s lowered right hand was clenched so tightly it was growing pale.
The girl was acting composed, but she was not. She was holding back and suppressing something to keep control of herself.
After taking a deep breath and gently moving her shoulders up and down to calm herself, Kimi spoke.
“What is it, Asama?”
She was smiling and she added a quiet sigh of a laugh.
“Don’t worry. Even if that does happen, Mitotsudaira’s mother, Anne over there, and the rest of Hexagone Française will protect them. So…we won’t be abandoning them. We’ll only be leaving them here. Right?”
Hearing that, Asama mentally lowered her shoulders in relief.
…I can only say that this is a lot like Kimi.
After all, when she said “don’t worry” or “right?”, she was not speaking to anyone. Unless she said “Asama” or “you” afterwards, she was speaking to herself.
And so Asama asked a question to see just how little her childhood friend had changed.
“Kimi, aren’t you worried about Toori-kun and the others?”
Kimi’s smile shook a little, but…
“I am. But a woman who doesn’t trust in you is nothing but a bother.”
Asama placed her own hand over Kimi’s clenched right fist, looked the girl in the eye, and pulled on her hand.
“Let’s wait together as long as we can, okay?”
Kimi initially resisted to having her hand taken, but then she acquiesced. She gave her hand to Asama.
“C’mon now. Two girls holding hands in public?”
“If I’m not holding your hand, I have a feeling you’ll try to be the last one to withdraw or even return here.”
“Heh heh. That’s really not fair, you know? You shouldn’t assume other people would do what you’re thinking of doing.”
“S-stop saying things like that!”
Had Kimi angered her to make it easier to hold her hand and keep her from letting go?
While wondering that, Asama squeezed Kimi’s hand. She then looked around and saw Magdeburg’s men and crossdressers nod her way. The commander lightly raised his hand.
“We will do our utmost to defend until Musashi’s king can return… Oh, dear. I’m sounding too manly.”
The crossdresser laughed bitterly and the rest laughed along with him. Anne did the same from the shoulder of the silver god of war sitting in front of them. She made even the god of war shake a little in laughter before speaking.
“Sister of Musashi’s chancellor? I also have a brother, but I wonder if I can really say I’m the ‘same’.”
She looked to Asama and to the hand holding Kimi’s hand.
“Make sure not to let go of that hand.”
“Eh? Oh, right. Judge.”
“Eh? Oh, dear. This well-endowed shrine maiden just agreed to become one with me! She wants us to bring our bodies together!!”
Please shut up, thought Asama as she glared at the idiot’s wiggling sister.
Suddenly, a noise reached them from the south.
The heavy sound as if from something striking stone sounded again and again. Everyone there brought up their guard as soon as they heard it.
“The enemy is here,” said Anne. “Just ten more minutes. It’s time to show our endurance.”
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