Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 88
Chapter 88: Waiter at the Corner
In what relationship do you not say goodbye
And simply pass each other by?
Point Allocation (Consideration)
In the sky west of the Kii Peninsula, Toshiie moved his ghost ships quickly to the right.
The Shigisan had started firing from the Kii Peninsula to port.
With the Musashi in the center, the two ghost ships raced toward the Musashi’s starboard side.
The ghost ships borrowed the Musashi’s own speed, so they were swung around the Musashi as if revolving around it. They flew in a wide arc to the Musashi’s right side.
And just as Toshiie could see the Musashi ahead and to port, he raised his eyebrows in a smile and gave a shout.
“So you decided to help, Lord Matsunaga! I’ll leave the inner corner interference to you!”
A wall of sparks scattered from the entire port side of the Musashi. That was the light of the Shigisan’s shells colliding with the Musashi’s gravity barriers.
The shellfire continued and the close range allowed a few shots to slip past the barriers.
They hit the Musashi’s surface area.
Warning bells immediately started ringing and a few lines of smoke trailed after the ship.
But Toshiie could tell the Shigisan was not letting up. It continued firing its main cannons without a break, but…
…Is he hiding the marker point!?
The Shigisan was slowly moving toward the third marker point.
It was trying to move in front of it.
That would completely block the inner corner for the Musashi, but Toshiie raised his voice as he watched from his ship.
“That’s quite a twisted decision, Lord Matsunaga!”
…This has taken a troublesome but welcome turn!
On Musashino’s front deck, Neshinbara displayed a map and watched the Shigisan’s movement.
Visibility was poor. The attacks were focused on the port side and the light of the destroyed torii emblems was too bright to see his sign frame very well.
The Musashi was currently taking the turn to port while focusing its defenses in that direction.
After learning their lesson in England, they were first defending the outer shell. For gravitational cruising and other reasons, they had to avoid damage to the outer hull.
…From now on, we need to plan for small ships with abnormal speed like those ghost ships.
While recording his thoughts, Neshinbara checked the sign frame map to see what was happening beyond the protective light and sound that was focused on the outer hull even more than in the past.
The Shigisan was approaching from ahead and to the port.
Its intent was clear: it would hold the inner corner and force the Musashi into the outer corner.
That showed a lack of fear over the Musashi hitting the ship. The Shigisan was trying to take the position between the Musashi and the marker point at the entrance to the provisional border cutting across the Kii Peninsula.
It was putting itself in danger to stop the Musashi, but the corner of Neshinbara’s mouth rose and he gave a shout.
“Honestly… He’s just as much of a contrarian as I’d heard!”
Matsunaga had promised Masazumi a battle on the border to his territory, but he was currently moving out beyond that provisional border. He was breaking his promise, but…
…If we can get past the Shigisan, we’re free to move along the border!
He was opening up the provisional border for them, but he was not abandoning his job as a member of P.A. Oda either.
Then, thought Neshinbara.
“Let’s stubbornly force our way through and travel that border.”
He spoke it aloud to make a promise to himself. He also gave instructions to the port side defenders and the damaged surface areas.
“Let’s go! It’s time we left Europe!”
Toshiie saw something as he circled around in his pursuit of the Musashi.
The Musashi accelerated.
They had already been moving too fast to make the turn, so if they accelerated now, they would fail to check the marker point and would officially be ignoring the course designated by the Testament Union.
That would give plenty of justification for attacking the Musashi as well as a means of preventing other Testament Union nations from allying with them.
So after a gasp of realization, Toshiie corrected himself.
“No, please don’t be kidding! Please don’t! Accelerate even more and fly on through!”
He could guess what Musashi was thinking.
…Are they trying to accelerate away from the battlefield!?
They would likely escape to Kantou and either have the Kantou forces protect them or hide themselves there. Even if the Testament Union accused them of ignoring their designated course, that Eurocentric organization had little influence in Kantou. Also…
“K.P.A. Italia has lost its power.”
So did they choose a more forceful solution? he wondered as the Musashi accelerated. The ghost ships were swung in their arcing path by the Musashi’s acceleration.
Something isn’t right, he realized. This is weird.
…What is this?
The Musashi had remained visible to port for a while now. Even as his vision was swinging around in an arc, he had remembered to keep his eyes on the enemy. That was his intention anyway.
But the scene beyond the Musashi had changed. Before, he had seen the Kii Peninsula running parallel to the eight giant ships, but now he saw the Shigisan and…
“From Sakai to Osaka!?”
They were turning.
The Musashi was making the turn despite its excessive speed.
“Are you going to do the impossible, Musashi!?”
A single figure could be seen on the Shigisan’s central ship which looked more like a disk with a lid than a boat.
The man sipping a teacup of sake on the edge of the tatami-covered roof was Matsunaga.
He sat with his legs crossed and the teacup of sake held to his lips, but he still watched it all.
The Musashi was turning.
His ship was firing from close range and a blizzard of light blew between them.
But the Musashi was turning even as it accelerated. It made a rapid turn as if scraping up against the Shigisan’s extended legs.
Watching from above, the trick behind their high-speed turn was obvious.
“So you used our shellfire, did you?”
That shellfire had occurred on the inside of the Musashi’s turn, so they had opened a massive number of gravity barriers on the port side.
But the Musashi had done something else to strengthen those barriers: they had weakened the atmospheric buffering on the port side.
The ship creaked and the metal wept, but the unbuffered port side felt the resistance of the wind and slowed down.
“And at the same time, you accelerated with only the starboard side.”
As he watched, acceleration light exploded on the starboard side.
It slowed on the left and sped up on the right, thus it made a rapid turn.
It was a modification of the technique used to jump over Kuki’s fleet. They braked on one side and accelerated with the other. They had used the front and back sides with Kuki, but now they used the left and right.
…That was quite a leap in logic there.
“But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The Musashi currently looked like a group of boats breaking through glowing rapids. Matsunaga confirmed its path as he heard the eight ships creaking from the port and starboard speed difference, felt the wind they whipped up, and saw the glow from the fragments of light.
…At this rate, they’ll just barely pass through the marker point.
Musashi had won this round, so he slapped his knee and gave a shout.
“Okay, get the Shigisan moving! Start moving to the south! Let’s push the Musashi to the outer corner!!”
Those instructions meant one thing.
“This is getting interesting!!”
As he swung around with the Musashi, Toshiie saw the situation continue to develop.
The Shigisan was moving. The Musashi was circling around its outer edge, so it was going to push them southward.
The Musashi had no way of fighting back. They were pushed right up to the edge of the Shigisan’s circular shape and the Shigisan had made itself the arc of the inner corner.
The Musashi would have just barely hit the marker point.
They would have been able to angle the marker ejector to fire into the marker point.
But if they could not move in any closer than the Shigisan, they could never reach the point.
The point at the entrance of the provisional border fired its red light into the sky. It was telling the Musashi where it was and where to fire their marker.
It was located ahead and to port of the Musashi, but the Shigisan’s presence would keep the Musashi away. The light rising from below was shifted far to the left from where the marker ejector on Musashino’s bow would pass by.
As he was powerfully swung to the outside, Toshiie saw the straight line of the Kii Peninsula’s western coast.
From his vantage point, he could see the Musashi, the scattering light, the Shigisan, and then Osaka in the distance. And at that very moment, he saw a few silhouettes backlit by the shattering light.
Some people were standing upside down below Musashino’s bow and working on the course marker ejector.
They were trying to remove the ejector so they could manually aim and fire it.
The work was being done from the outside.
The marker ejector was a light emitter with a diameter of about two meters. It was embedded in the bottom of Musashino, but it still had a limited range of movement.
They needed to remove it from its base and aim it at the marker point on the surface.
The work was being done by Persona-kun, whose feet were plastered to the outer hull by Nenji and whose waist was held in place by Itoken. He was using a giant Phillips head screwdriver to quickly remove the bolts locking it to the base. He placed all of the removed bolts in a bag hanging from his waist hard point, but he was working so quickly he removed all eight in no time at all.
However, he ran into a problem even after removing all of the bolts.
“Is the creaking and bending of the ship squeezing it in place!?”
As Nenji had said, the ejector would not come out.
The outer shell had been badly bent as they took the turn. The light emitter was about five meters long, but the ship’s frame had squeezed around it, preventing it from coming out.
Persona-kun grabbed and pulled on the hook used to remove it for repairs, but…
It shook and he heard the cry of straining metal, but it only moved out a few centimeters. Having Itoken pull on his waist produced the same result, so Itoken gave a dashing smile.
“This is difficult, isn’t it!?”
The color red began to fill their surroundings. The red light from the surface was starting to pass by in the sky to port. Once they passed the light, they would have failed, but…
“A ghost ship!?”
One of the ships was approaching from the south to ram them at full speed.
Persona-kun briefly glanced over at its rapid approach, but…
He resumed his work. Nenji raised his eyebrows and Itoken gave another dashing smile.
“We will help!”
“We’re all in this together!”
As soon as they said that, a voice shouted down at the charging ghost ship as it whipped up the wind.
“Even if you have converted from Protestantism to Catholicism, a ghost is still a ghost. So…”
It was a half-dragon. Urquiaga was flying down with a giant metal rod. The metal rod was over ten meters long and he swung it down in a straight line.
“Catholic Inquisition Set #452: Ghost Ship Sinking Tool ‘Palo Bautismo’!”
The strike more bisected than crushed and light scattered everywhere.
The ghost ship was chopped in two and instantly destroyed.
Light scattered and rose to heaven.
Their demise was accompanied by a voice from the inside end of the ejector.
“Move out of the way. I’ll hit it through the padding.”
The voice was Noriki’s and he could be heard preparing to attack.
“I’ll hit it thrice and open the path forward.”
Matsunaga distinctly saw the red lights cross paths.
It had been forcefully done. If the Testament Union learned how they had done it, they were sure to protest.
But they had done it all the same.
They had not made an excuse, let time take care of it, ignored it, or run away.
“So those idiots pulled it off.”
The course the Musashi would use was the same one it had used to escape from Mikawa. Back then, it had traveled east to west, but this time it was west to east. And…
…Back then, they were being pursued by armed Portuguese trade ships and other Tsirhc Testament Union ships.
Now, they were pursued by P.A. Oda.
When would they realize what that meant and the value of what they had gained in Europe?
“Well, they are idiots, after all.”
Beyond the passing light, a crossdresser raised his hands on the front deck of the central rear ship.
The idiot shouted over with a bowl of seaweed on his head.
“Old man! We promised to lend each other porn games, but you thought you could bully a cute kid like me just because you’re an old man, didn’t you!? I’ll seaweed you with everything I’ve got! …Listen! My seaweed is horrifyingly lukewarm! So do as you’re told and let me borrow the limited edition Far Eastern history version of ‘Soapy Conquest – Bathtime with Luís Fróis’! …Ah, stop, stop, Horizon! Don’t pile on more bowls! Wait, is that three with trays in between? Four? Wait, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t!”
It was a mystery what the crossdresser was trying to say, so…
“You really are an idiot, aren’t you?”
As the idiot raised his hands again to say something, they passed by and the bowls toppled over.
That idiot knows how to keep things noisy to the end, thought Matsunaga as he looked to the academy on the central rear ship.
He spotted a familiar face on the bridge out front.
It was Sakai.
The man waved a hand in greeting next to an automaton tending to an ether flower garden.
…He hasn’t changed.
He had been the same in the past. When that kid had arrived on Suleiman’s introduction, he had approached casually with an excellent spear on his back.
Matsunaga had heard he had picked a fight with the pope, so he had always thought of Sakai as an idiot.
…I’m trying to stay smart myself.
Matsunaga had moved between many different factions, actively changed the flow of events in the world, and made new discoveries. The long houses used in the Musashi’s residential districts were based on the defensive structures he had thought up for his castle.
Idiots were quick to rely on the smart.
They sure can be annoying.
But, he thought. I’m smart, so I can tell how much different idiots might change the world.
And he had seen the greatest of those.
“Nobunaga the ‘fool’.”
As he spoke those words, the Musashi finished passing by. The light scattered and the wind vanished, but…
He heard the Musashi accelerate. He was worried about their fuel consumption, but hurrying was probably best since P.A. Oda would continue to pursue them.
But instead of looking back, Matsunaga kept his gaze facing forward. He saw the dark ocean and dark sky of night and Shikoku between them. And in the background…
“Kuki’s managed to organize…looks like about three hundred ships for the pursuit.”
In the dark woods, Masazumi stood on the stone pavement and dealt with two sign frames. One was with the idiot.
“Honestly, I won’t go easy on that old man next time I see him!”’
“Sure, sure. Go right ahead. You’ll see Lord Matsunaga at the – do you call it an event? – in Edo, right?”
“Yeah! But I’ll be lined up for all the new stuff there!!”
“I see, I see.”
She nodded and turned to the other sign frame. This one displayed Neshinbara who was sending a few pieces of information along with the video.
Novice: “We’re on a stable course for now. It’s the opposite route from when we escaped Mikawa, so we thankfully know what’s coming.”
He then added a quick “but”.
Novice: “Lord Matsunaga has gathered in a defensive formation behind us.”
Vice President: “Why? Well…I can actually make a pretty good guess.”
Novice: “I won’t ask whether that guess is about his reasons or what’s about to happen.”
Four Eyes: “I see you’re showing off again.”
Novice: “I was not! That’s what I actually thought!!”
Mal-Ga: “Ow, ow, ow, ow…”
I can’t argue with that, thought Masazumi as she checked the divine transmission settings. Asama was recording the conversation but not sending it to Aoi. She had likely decided to wait until things were a little calmer.
…Asama’s getting stuck with all the worst jobs.
But at the same time, she was worried about Matsunaga. He had been a hard man to understand, but he had seemed to have a unique direction to him. And now…
“Why is the Shigisan blocking the way for the Oda forces?”
Neshinbara was naturally the one to answer.
Novice: “I assume you know that Matsunaga Danjou Hisahide rebelled against Nobunaga twice. He was forgiven the first time, but he holed up in his own castle the second time. Nobunaga offered to forgive him if he handed over a famous tea kettle known as the Hiragumo, but he refused and blew himself up along with the kettle.”
Novice: “Lord Matsunaga has already rebelled once. It was right after he was appointed Nobunaga’s attendant.”
Flat Vassal: “Then…does that mean this is his second rebellion!?”
Masazumi understood why Adele was shouting, so she chose to speak up.
Vice President: “He moved the Shigisan beyond his provisional border and let the Musashi pass. If they criticize him for that, you could say letting us onto the Kii Peninsula’s border was his rebellion.”
Vice President: “I said at Magdeburg we would defeat Nobunaga and Hashiba. He let us go, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see that as an acceptance of Nobunaga and Hashiba’s destruction.”
Vice President: “If he opposes the pursuers from P.A. Oda, this will definitely be a rebellion.”
Masazumi let her shoulders droop when she realized no one was replying.
Then, a sign frame appeared next to her face.
Asama: “If Toori-kun says anything, please tell him I told you not to tell him.”
“Judge,” replied Masazumi as she closed Neshinbara’s sign frame.
Yeah, don’t worry about it, she thought while walking toward the academy.
She had a feeling going there would not accomplish much of anything, but…
…What is this?
They had lost Anne.
And now something similar was about to happen.
…What is it?
A boiling feeling sort of like irritation filled her stomach.
She had never felt this before.
As she wondered what it was, she hung her head and continued toward the academy.
You must be a smart person, so…
“Please don’t make a mistake here.”
At the entrance to the Kii Peninsula, Matsunaga faced Kuki’s three hundred aerial ships.
They had all stopped in front of him in a fan formation.
All three hundred ships had their cannons trained on him.
…And is that Shirasagi Mk. II managing them all from a distance back there?
Toshiie had continued in pursuit of the Musashi and another fleet would have left P.A. Oda’s stronghold in Kinki to move south to Mikawa, but he was facing the fleet put together by M.H.R.R.
“Lord Matsunaga! No, let me call you my upperclassman!” Kuki addressed him via divine transmission. “Our rightful enemy at the moment is Musashi! They are Matsudaira who become an enemy of Hashiba and threaten P.A. Oda! There is no reason to fight amongst ourselves here!”
“You really are an idiot, Kuki. …There is a reason.”
Kuki did not reply. He’s a smart one, thought Matsunaga. If he’d replied, I might’ve dragged him down my line of thinking.
“The thing is, I like idiots. The idiots will do things no one else would ever think of and that has a way of changing the world.”
“You have villains, traitors, and backstabbers, but what’s the difference between them and the people who actually change the world?”
“Please stop stalling for time, upperclassman!”
“Just listen.” Matsunaga stood on the Shigisan’s roof to view it all. “Villains, traitors, and backstabbers are those who destroy the traditional bonds but fail to become an absolute victor. They’re the ones who end up losing somewhere along the line or were found lacking at some point.”
“Then…!” said Kuki. “If you disappear here, you will only be known as a villain!”
That’s fine. After all, Nobunaga’s still around.”
“I serve Nobunaga.”
On the high-speed ship’s deck, Kuki understood what Matsunaga was saying.
…So that’s it!
Matsunaga Hisahide had done quite a lot. He had slain his lord and called in the chaos of the warring states by killing a shogun, the leader of the warrior class. He had also burned Todai-ji and its Great Buddha, a symbol of faith.
He was the individual who had risen to power by destroying the nation’s previous values.
That was why he had a poor reputation among those who did not know him well, but…
…He led the people of his territory well.
Kuki knew someone else who was similar.
“Nobunaga… Our chancellor.”
“That’s right.” Matsunaga smiled. “Nobunaga is the Demon Lord of the Six Heavens who burned Mt. Hiei, seized control of the shogun clan I tried to crush, and fought the Ikkou-Ikki. …Nobunaga did even more than I did.”
“That was all the work of a ‘fool’ taking what I did even further.”
“Kuki,” called Matsunaga. “After everything I did, I found an even greater destroyer than myself. And I even realized that destroyer would take good care of me. According to the history recreation, my first rebellion would be forgiven, right? And, well, I’m smart.”
“A while back, I was thinking of making some random rebellion, using that as an interpretation, and retiring. If Nobunaga conquered the world, then it was the same as me conquering the world.”
Yes, thought Kuki.
“Lord Matsunaga! You are truly a loyal retainer!”
“You found someone who might be able to destroy the chancellor! But you chose not to crush them! Instead, you gave them the room to grow and let them live!”
He gave his conclusion.
“You intend to let Chancellor Nobunaga defeat them and become a true destroyer who can face any kind of destruction!!”
“Yes… That seems like the most interesting result. For a destroyer like me, anyway. Now, listen.”
Masazumi listened to the intercepted internal P.A. Oda divine transmission the PR council sent to her.
She heard what Matsunaga said.
“P.A. Oda and especially Hashiba, listen very carefully. Nobunaga is a ‘fool’, yet also tries to do things the proper way. So it’s possible Nobunaga will be properly slain by Akechi.”
“Listen, P.A. Oda, Hashiba, and all others who will continue on after me and after Nobunaga. …You are to defeat the ones who will destroy even Nobunaga. Do you understand what that means? I’m telling you to defeat the history recreation, or destiny, or whatever you want to call it. The destruction I’m leaving to you is the destruction of Matsudaira’s victory.”
“If Matsudaira grows, they will become our greatest enemy, both militarily and historically. I want to see whether those who follow after me can destroy the greatest assignment I prepared for them. If you can do that…”
Masazumi heard him give a quiet laugh.
“Then even if I’m known as a villain, I’ll know that I didn’t make a single mistake in how I dealt with the past or the future.”
The Shigisan spread out before Kuki’s eyes.
The spidery ship pointed its eight connected ships his way.
“I’m gonna leave behind something that can destroy even me,” said Matsunaga.
“Then we will destroy you here and crush that future destruction because we are not as great as you!”
“Shaja. That’s fine. That just means you’re loyal.”
Matsunaga opened an insha kotob.
“Musashi Vice President, you’re listening to this, aren’t you?”
Masazumi heard Matsunaga’s voice from the sign frame that suddenly opened.
“I’m sure you were listening to all that, so listen to this too.”
He did not give her a chance to speak, so it probably was not a two-way connection.
“First, tell that naked idiot that I was a monstrous liar. I hate being called a good person more than anything else. To me, nothing’s cooler than being known as the villain of this chaotic age. Got that?”
Masazumi nodded and thought about him again.
…He’s our enemy.
That intercepted conversation had clearly treated Musashi as an enemy, but…
…He’s definitely an enemy that stands parallel to us.
They were two mutually exclusive sides.
He had decided to step down and leave the fight to the next generation, so…
“I will use you as an example of a direct opponent.”
He had left all of the important things unsaid, but he had surely been a straightforward enemy.
He had judged them and always faced them head-on to bring it all to his side’s next generation. When she thought back to the meetings shared with him, Masazumi was certain of it.
He had a single purpose in having things his way.
He had guided and supported P.A. Oda, so he had given them the ultimate enemy. He would then judge whether he had done the right thing by seeing whether P.A. Oda could defeat that enemy or not.
…He’s seeing whether he did the right thing or not without allowing for any compromise.
That was all. That had been important enough to build his resolve and he would have his way here.
Masazumi thought on the word “enemy”.
But Matsunaga suddenly said more.
“Listen. You’re at a bit of a disadvantage, so I’ll do you a little favor, okay?”
Her confusion was immediately answered.
“I’ll tell you one thing about P.A. Oda’s Genesis Project.”
“It is to end the world but not to let it end.”
Masazumi frowned at Matsunaga’s words. What kind of phrasing was that?
She would have understood if he had said “end the world and reset it”.
…That would mean to end it and then begin anew.
But that was not what he had said. Nor had it been a loop where they would “end it, redo it, and repeat”.
“To end the world but not to let it end?”
The positive and negative forms of the verb were used together. It was a contradictory and incompatible phrasing.
It was a parallel phrasing.
That was why she questioned it, but…
“Wait! Lord Matsunaga!”
Nothing had yet been made publicly known about the Genesis Project. She had concluded only the high-ranking members of P.A. Oda knew what it actually was. Yet now he was leaking a small portion of it to Matsudaira, their future enemy.
“Is this your excuse for rebelling!?”
The answer came in another form. She heard a rumbling like distant thunder from the sky behind her.
That was the sound of battle and she ground her teeth when she heard it.
“Don’t choose to die! Fight it, Lord Matsunaga!”
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