Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 91
Chapter 91: Negotiators at the Crossroads
Do you desire chaos?
Or a monopoly?
Point Allocation (Setup)
An aerial ship continued to evade and attack as it remained above the Musashi, never moving further or closer.
The ship constantly firing homing shells and using the attached ghost ship for speed was the Sunomata, a P.A. Oda high-speed striking ship.
Toshiie thought about his enemy as he stood on the front deck.
“Are you going to cut in, Musashi Vice President?”
…This is the second time.
He had already spoken with her in England once before.
His enemy was located directly below. No, since the Sunomata was in constant motion, he could only say she was somewhere on the Musashi. She was somewhere within the physical blows he fired and they deflected.
Where was she?
If not for the exchange of attacks, he would be able to see her and speak directly to her, yet the attacks were precisely what gave them a chance to exchange words.
“This is very strange, Ma-chan. Distance is meaningless.”
“What a pain.”
Then, the enemy’s voice reached him via Qing-Takeda’s divine transmission network.
“M.H.R.R. Treasurer, I believe the Musashi’s movement within M.H.R.R. never left the categories of ‘firing’ and ‘towing’. We simply traveled in a shallow parabolic arc.”
“It looked to us like a long horizontal course. That is well within the range of interpretation.”
“Precisely,” declared his enemy.
…Is she going to force this through?
As soon as he thought that, the enemy said more.
“Anyway, M.H.R.R. Treasurer, as a representative of Musashi, I, Vice President Honda Masazumi, would like to clear up a misunderstanding M.H.R.R. and the Hashiba forces seem to have.”
Toshiie chose not to play along and ask what that was.
What mattered here was asserting that he was not interested.
But after a pause, Musashi’s vice president resumed speaking.
“In the early morning two days ago, you sent scouts to test our strength, but according to the history recreation, Hashiba and Matsudaira do not become enemies until after Nobunaga’s assassination. For that reason,” said the enemy, “Musashi Ariadust Academy wants it to be known that we have no intention of opposing M.H.R.R.”
Yoshitsune created a blank space in her mouth.
…Since Maeda’s using the history recreation here, she’s using it against him.
Maeda was using the history recreation to punish Musashi, but Musashi had countered that Hashiba and Matsudaira’s histories contained no battles needing recreating at this point.
Musashi had accepted that their invasion of M.H.R.R. airspace fell within the range of interpretation and then changed the subject. Now, they were using the history recreation as a shield.
The Satou Brothers spoke up behind her.
“She’s rushing this.”
“If you two can tell, then she’s still got a long way to go.”
Yoshitsune crossed her arms and looked to the sign frame.
“You’re going too far on the offensive to defend yourself. Everyone can tell, Masazumi.”
Masazumi faced forward at the bottom of the stairs.
Light scattered through the sky and sound reached her ears. Instantaneous flashes of light cast her shadow on the stone pavement ahead of her.
This was Remorse Way.
With that name in mind, she filled her lungs with air to cool her body. And…
…How about that?
She had reversed the argument. She knew that was dangerous. Her opponent could grow stubborn and he could also give up on her and reach his conclusion with no further argument.
Was she a coward or was she rushing this due to inexperience?
She saw some people up ahead.
That’s two people with large breasts and one with none. No, wait. That’s Asama, Kimi, and Yoshiyasu. And there’s Adele and Mitotsudaira approaching from the left. Including me, that’s four with flat chests and two with large ones. The fraction reduces to 1/2.
Don’t distract yourself. I need to think about what the enemy will do here.
Light continuously exploded to port which was north and a ship-wide announcement was made.
“P.A. Oda’s Nagahama is pursuing us from behind and port! They are firing! Over.”
Another ship had caught up. And before they began Mikatagahara.
Just as the others stopped their running feet and turned to port, the enemy spoke.
“The Nagahama is an armed trade ship. It has been made quite fast, but its weaponry is light. Still, its toughness is its selling point. It will take time to take it down.”
The intangible pressure weighing down on Masazumi aligned with this visible threat.
“I have command here and I will continue to pursue you at this rate.”
She listened to the enemy.
“So what will you do now, Musashi Vice President?”
“What do you mean?” She raised her eyebrows. “The Musashi has no intention of opposing you!!”
“Then let me say this,” continued the enemy. “I can only conclude that you do intend to oppose us.”
Toshiie spoke slowly as he instructed the Nagahama to fly alongside the Sunomata and to continue firing.
He was speaking more to Yoshitsune than Musashi.
“You invaded our airspace, you actively assisted the Protestants, and you are currently fleeing. How is any of that in accordance with the history recreation? Musashi Vice President, you greatly assisted the Protestants in the Sack of Magdeburg which will determine the course of the Thirty Years’ War between the M.H.R.R. Catholics and Protestants.”
“Not many died in Magdeburg and, even though the city was flooded, the damages were far less than expected. The M.H.R.R. Catholics are requesting an investigation by a representative of the Testament Union.”
He said “listen” once more.
“Depending on that investigation’s findings, it is entirely possible the Sack of Magdeburg could be redone.”
“Impossible!” shouted Mitotsudaira. “The city and its walls were destroyed! Do you have any idea how much preparation would be needed to redo it all!?”
That was exactly right. Masazumi knew this had to be no more than a bluff, but…
…It’s enough to hold off the M.H.R.R. Protestants.
The negotiation was being held over Qing-Takeda’s divine transmission network, so only Toshiie, Masazumi, and Yoshitsune could listen in. Still, they would all be recording it, so even if it was a bluff…
…If I ignore this bluff, he can release the records to make it look like I abandoned the Protestants.
And without Guericke and the Protestants here, she could not check with them what to do about the bluff. She was forced to treat Toshiie’s bluff as legitimate.
“Then what would you have us do?” she asked.
“I would like for Musashi to prove it has no intention of opposing us. …Oh, I know,” said Toshiie. “If you truly think that we will not be enemies as long as Nobunaga lives, then disarm the Musashi once more and, to ensure you never arm yourselves or begin any more conflicts, I would like to place a Testament Union inspector on the Musashi. One from M.H.R.R., of course.”
That’s not possible, thought Masazumi. We’re on the way to Kantou to do exactly those things.
They would gain the strength they needed, work with Europe, and head to Westphalia. That was the entire point of their eastward journey.
…Hashiba knows exactly what we’re doing.
She pretty much knew who would have leaked the contents of that secret meeting in Magdeburg. This meant Toshiie was here now to hold them in check.
The one frowning at Toshiie’s words was Adele.
She walked up to Masazumi’s side and tilted her head.
“…? What does this mean? Hashiba may have joined with the M.H.R.R. Catholics, but why is he assuming the Testament Union will do exactly what they want?”
Masazumi thought about that and reached a certain idea.
It’s hopeless, she thought. I screwed up, she added.
…I shouldn’t have used the history recreation as a shield!
A groan worked its way up from the bottom of her gut. She managed to force it back down and opened her mouth to release some words from her stiff throat.
“Have the M.H.R.R. Catholics and Hashiba taken control of the Pope-Chancellor who you could call the representative of the Testament Union!?”
“What? How would they do that?”
Terumoto sat on the tatami mats laid out on the deck of the Pension Versailles, Hexagone Française’s flagship. Louis Exiv was resting his head on her lap.
“That’s impossible, isn’t it!? How would the M.H.R.R. Catholics take control of the Pope-Chancellor!?”
After realizing how loudly she was speaking, Terumoto opened a signe cadre.
It was a Shinto version and she typed on the simple keyboard.
Former Delinquent: “The pope is elected by the cardinals, so how did Hashiba do that?”
Still Got It: “But the cardinals themselves can’t do anything. In fact, most of them are missing, given the state of K.P.A. Italia. In that case, who represents the Catholics? No, who is their defender?”
Former Delinquent: “What? Wouldn’t their defender be the Holy Roman Emperor?”
Still Got It: “Sorry. I’m going to apologize in advance on this one.”
Terumoto tilted her head at the Reine des Garous’ post.
…Why is she apologizing to me?
Did she do something? she wondered as she thought about the conversation.
“Wait, the Holy Roman Emperor? Don’t tell me…”
Mouri-01 responded from where she stood to the side.
“Testament. Chancellor Rudolf II held the position.”
It all clicked into place and the man lying in her lap slowly explained.
“Heh. I see. I only heard bits and pieces of that, but I think I get it. After his battle with the Reine des Garous’ daughter, Rudolf II used the Sack of Magdeburg to disappear. Therefore, Student Council President Matthias became the provisional chancellor and thus the provisional Holy Roman Emperor. As the cardinals could not be gathered, he designated the new Pope-Chancellor in their place.”
Exiv gave a quiet laugh.
“They’re placing provisional positions on top of provisional positions to create nothing but fakes.”
“Don’t steal my lines.” Terumoto sighed. “But anyway, that means this isn’t a joke. It’s for real.”
She looked back to a certain signe cadre sent from K.P.A. Italia. It informed them of the new provisional Pope-Chancellor and it was signed by a certain individual.
“Olimpia. Historically, she was Pope-Chancellor Innocentius’ older sister-in-law. Currently, I believe she is actually his younger step-sister, but did they place her in the position?”
“Are you comparing her to yourself, Terumoto?”
“I took my position for myself, but I’m not so sure about this woman.”
After grabbing his head and correcting its position, Terumoto pulled the signe cadre in close.
“Sleep some more. Don’t force yourself to wake up. We’ll probably be busy starting tomorrow and the Roi Soleil needs to sleep at night. As Mouri of the setting sun, I’ll have things ready by then.”
“Heh. I think you are the one forcing yourself, Terumoto.”
“Not as much as you.”
She let her shoulders droop and looked east.
“Now, what will Musashi do? It’s possible they’ll be forced to do what Hashiba wants.”
Yoshitsune’s eyebrows moved as she thought.
…So Hashiba defeated K.P.A. Italia and set up a puppet in the position of Pope-Chancellor.
She had heard Pope-Chancellor Innocentius was missing, so they must have placed someone else in that spot.
…They’ll probably claim this is only a temporary Pope-Chancellor meant to keep the Testament Union from falling into chaos.
That would probably last until the Peace of Westphalia. Until then, they could still use the “chaos” excuse due to Europe’s Thirty Years’ War.
In that case, thought Yoshitsune with a sigh.
“Satou Brothers, this has taken an annoying turn for politicians like you. And…this is a pretty fatal blow for Musashi. Every last one of the Testament Union’s interpretations is going to benefit Hashiba from now on.”
That of course affected Qing-Takeda as well.
…Trying to make a mockery of us, are you?
The word was out that the Pope-Chancellor was missing, but they had quickly set up a replacement.
…And then there’s this Toshiie guy.
He had started negotiating without even hinting at that fact in order to trap Musashi’s vice president.
“Satou Brothers, what’s going to happen to Musashi at this rate?”
“Testament. They will be placed under the Testament Union’s control. After all, they claim to show no hostility and yet they have taken actions that can be ‘interpreted’ to be hostile. The Testament Union will make sure that they take no more hostile actions. And since Musashi has declared they will preserve the history recreation and that they will not oppose Hashiba they have no reason to reject.”
“Yeah, they never would have imagined Hashiba was in a position to control the Testament Union.”
If the link between Hashiba and the Testament Union was weak, Musashi could negotiate with the Testament Union and get any inspector kicked out.
But if Hashiba and the Testament Union were close, nothing Musashi said would help.
“They’ve made a Testament Union you can’t negotiate with. That’ll definitely hold the other nations in check. But they’re asking for inspections and disarmament, huh? That’s no different from what the Testament Union did in the past. Pathetic.”
Yoshitsune smiled bitterly, but…
“Then I guess we need to get moving, Satou Brothers. Let’s go take control of Maeda’s plan. And…”
She corrected her posture.
“Tell all of our men to stay carefree as we do this.”
Masazumi tried to speak.
…What do I do?
To keep Toshiie away, she had said they had taken no hostile action against M.H.R.R. and Hashiba.
And she had claimed they would not oppose Hashiba because of the history recreation.
…He refuses to believe our intentions.
So he was asking them to convince him by taking on an inspector and disarming.
However, the inspections and disarmament would be carried out by the Hashiba-led Testament Union. If they accepted, there would be no compromise or reduction.
Musashi’s power and freedom would be suppressed by Hashiba.
She could not allow that.
After all, they were on their way to Kantou in order to gain more power.
As everyone watched her and shells landed on the port side, Masazumi spoke quietly.
“I understand one thing now.”
“What might that be?”
She nodded and answered him.
“Our negotiations have broken down.”
Masazumi heard confused voices around her, but she shook her head.
…I screwed up at the very beginning.
To avoid Hashiba’s pursuit, she had tried to demonstrate their lack of hostility toward Hashiba.
That had been wrong.
Hashiba was trying to crush them, so they had taken advantage of that.
…No, they were trying to trap me like that from the beginning.
And they had gotten her.
Given the urgency of the situation, she had leaped at the enemy’s bait.
She should have behaved differently. Instead of only trying to escape the current situation, she should have fought them head on. So…
“These negotiations have broken down.”
“This will leave a blemish on your record.”
“As long as it’s only on my record. I lost here. You can rejoice.”
This was far better than having them take control of the Musashi due to her mistake.
And with that in mind, there was something she had to say.
…You are our enemy.
That was why she would reject their inspector and their disarmament.
That would truly mean making an enemy of Hashiba. Nobunaga had not yet been lost, so she would be ignoring the history recreation. It was her own mistake that had led to this, but…
Could she declare their hostile intentions toward Hashiba?
Could she really reject the history recreation and make an enemy of the Testament Union?
She closed her eyes and breathed in.
She had built up her resolve.
Everyone was looking her way and she knew what she had to ask them.
“Is it possible to lose the Sunomata and Nagahama here?”
If they brought a Hashiba force with them to Kantou, Matsudaira would be neither a protector nor a barrier for the cautious Kantou forces. That meant they had to shake off those two ships here.
“It wouldn’t be impossible.”
Neshinbara walked up from the road on the right.
He then turned to look toward the bow where two people were walking down Remorse Way.
“Aoi and Horizon?”
“Hey, I don’t know what’s going on, but it sure is exciting. Can’t you do something about those noisy guys flying above us?”
Don’t sound so carefree, thought Masazumi, but she was pretty sure all would truly be lost if he was ever anything but carefree. So she turned to Neshinbara who nodded.
“We can use Ariadust-kun’s Logismoi Óplo on the Nagahama and Asama-kun’s arrows on the Sunomata. That just leaves how we fly. The Sunomata is staying in motion so we can’t aim at it and the Nagahama is keeping its distance. The Musashi will have to be prepared to run into them a little.”
“Heh heh. You can only choose to be so rough because you know you can fix everything at Kantou IZUMO later. Choosing to put up with some pain now for what comes later is an important decision for a girl, you know?”
“I suppose,” agreed Masazumi.
“You can’t,” cut in the idiot. “Seijun, what are you freaking out about?”
He hit the bull’s-eye.
…I can’t believe him.
Not only because of how well he observed people but also because he had no reservations about saying it.
He’s pretty dangerous even as an ally, thought Masazumi with a bitter smile in her heart.
Still, she gave a large tilt of her head.
“What? Me? Freaking out? What are you talking about?”
I really am bad at lying, she realized.
The others were watching her and the situation was still underway.
The Musashi was already flying above the ground and about to enter Qing-Takeda.
She needed to make a decision in order to maintain Qing-Takeda’s trust.
…I need to say we’re their enemy.
They would ignore the history recreation and oppose Hashiba. Then, they had to enter Kantou after losing the Sunomata and Nagahama.
Of course, if they created a hostile situation with Hashiba and then went to Kantou, the Kantou forces would accuse them of bringing trouble with them, but she could bear that responsibility alone. So she hurriedly spoke up.
“Look at the situation here. We need to break out of this, so…”
“I said you can’t.”
Aoi stepped in front of her and said “listen”. He then pulled the pads out from his chest.
“Put these in for a sec.”
Silence reigned for about three seconds. Afterwards, Masazumi quietly breathed in and glared at the idiot.
“What are you trying to say?”
The idiot tilted his head and held the objects out toward her again with an entirely serious expression.
“It only has to be for a sec, okay? Just a quick sec, okay?”
“I’m serious. What are you trying to say, you idiot?”
As soon as she said that, he removed his wig and placed it over her head without bothering to turn it around.
The back of the long hair hid her face entirely.
Surprised, she saw golden locks swaying in front of her. She frantically reached up, but found it was a tight fit. It latched onto her real hair and would not come off easily. But…
“Hey, anteater, are you sending that divine transmission to Yoshitsune? I saw her a moment ago.”
“What is it, you fool? Do you need something?”
“Hey, that you, Yoshitsune?”
“Stop that,” muttered Masazumi, but the idiot grabbed her head and pushed her away from the sign frame.
He then completely ignored her as he spoke.
“Can you hear this, Yoshitsune? We’ll have to wait until later to play with my dick. I’m cross-dressing right now.”
“What the hell are you trying to say!?”
“L-Lady Yoshitsune! Tolerance! You need to demonstrate tolerance!” shouted the Satou Brothers.
“I don’t envy your job, you two. …Now, Yoshitsune, can you see this right here? It’s not my dick, so actually look, okay? This girl’s a blonde, right? That’s because she isn’t Seijun.”
Masazumi wanted to protest, but the idiot said more to Yoshitsune before she could.
“Some idiot disguised herself to trick you. That’s gotta be what happened. After all…”
“Our vice president always grins like an idiot when she negotiates. Whenever things seem so bad you don’t think anyone could enjoy it, she’s got the most satisfied look you’ve ever seen. So…”
“If this girl can’t do that, she’s clearly not Seijun. You saw me reveal her disguise, didn’t you?”
What was he doing? How was he planning to do this?
…How is he planning to escape my mistake here!?
“Yoshitsune,” said the idiot. “Shoot everyone, even us.”
Yoshitsune clearly heard what the idiot said.
“I heard a bit about that Battle of Mikatagahara stuff earlier. We get beat up pretty bad in that, right? So…that’s the normal outcome here. I dunno what’ll happen to the Musashi and I do know Seijun was doing everything she could to avoid it, but…”
“That means not avoiding it is just the normal outcome. So…”
Outside the frame, the idiot shook the hand holding Masazumi’s head. He seemed to be sending strength to her.
“So shoot us, Yoshitsune! We’ll do something about it, so don’t worry about us!”
The new shout came from Toshiie.
“Are you going to drag us into this, too!? That is an undeniably hostile act!”
“Eh? What’re you talking about? Hashiba and Matsudaira are best buddies right now, aren’t we? But I was thinking. We keep saying how good friends we are to you, but you keep saying we’re not. I’m finding that a little hard to believe, so how about we test our power of friendship?”
The idiot scratched his head as he continued.
“You’ll stay by our side and get shot up during the Battle of Mikatagahara, won’t you?”
Oh, Ma-chan made a joke! noted Toshiie in a corner of his mind.
…This is insane!
He was saying he could not trust Musashi’s claims of non-hostility, so now they wanted to test their friendship in the same way. And…
“Why do we have to join you in the Battle of Mikatagahara!?”
Toshiie tilted his head at the unexpected name and the idiot looked to the left of the screen.
“Shiro, this guy’s a mercenary, so let’s hire him. We’ll buy his friendship and then use him as a shield as much as we can. Isn’t that a great plan?”
“Wait, are you a complete moron!? What are you talking about!?”
Toshiie nodded several times at what the merchant shouted from out of frame. That plan was simply ridiculous.
Musashi’s treasurer stepped in from the left of the screen. The tall boy gave Toshiie an expressionless look before turning back to the idiot.
“Listen, idiot. Listen very carefully. I cannot believe you would suggest we buy friendship.”
Yes! That’s right! It’s wrong, isn’t it!?
“That trash is not worth a single yen.”
“Ehhhhhhh!?” shouted Toshiie.
“Could you quit taking my shtick in an entirely different direction like that?”
Ignoring the idiot’s head tilt and complaint, the merchant faced Toshiie once more.
“Now then, M.H.R.R. Treasurer. Friendship is a form of free service. Did you hear that? Free. It comes with no future obligations, so it allows you to rip someone off without giving them any way to track you down! …On that note, go die for us and do it for free.”
“Wait, wait, wait!!”
Something had gone wrong at some point and a certain thought came to mind. He was pursuing the Musashi because they had violated the history recreation, so…
…Our history recreation takes priority over Mikatagahara since that battle hasn’t even started yet!
That meant they could not begin that battle.
…It comes after us.
He had tried to use that reasoning to ignore what they said, but then he heard a sudden voice.
It was the idiot again.
“Hey, Maeda whatever-your-name-is? Yeah, you in the red. You’re about to enter Qing-Takeda.”
The boy asked a single question.
“But did you get Yoshitsune’s permission?”
Toshiie sucked in an icy gasp.
When entering Qing-Takeda he had meant to first get permission by stating his need to punish Musashi, but as Yoshitsune pointed out…
“I’ve heard a lot here, but I haven’t actually given permission yet.”
…They got me…
Normally, he would have gotten permission from Yoshitsune at the beginning of the discussion.
In fact, he had started the discussion toward that end.
But as he was negotiating for that permission, someone had interrupted.
“Musashi Vice President!!”
Masazumi was hanging her head with the wig forced on her head by the idiot, but the discussion over the sign frame made her realize what she had done.
Interrupting at that crucial point had been an elementary trick, but it had paid off.
Preventing Yoshitsune and Toshiie’s discussion from continuing had been fortunate in and of itself, but…
…Can I really be proud of drawing Maeda’s attention to me?
Suddenly, the hand shaking her head lifted her head instead.
“I don’t really get it.”
The idiot tilted his head and asked a question.
“But can you smile now?”
“I’m a fake, aren’t I?”
That was all they had accomplished, so Masazumi let her shoulders droop again.
…From here on, the harsh results are going to be forced onto both of us equally!
Toshiie looked at the course Matsu displayed on a map.
They were about a minute away from Qing-Takeda territory and the anti-air cannons there.
Even if they were punishing someone for violating the history recreation, the Sunomata would be violating someone’s airspace without permission. He could not complain if they fired on him then.
…But if we leave the Musashi, they’ll negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Battle of Mikatagahara.
The Musashi would not be damaged and would slip from his fingers.
Toshiie made up his mind.
He opened his mouth as he looked to Yoshitsune and the idiot visible on the lernen figur.
“I am sure you already understand this, but I will say it anyway.”
He spoke to Qing-Takeda.
“My ship and its partner ship are pursuing the Musashi on the orders of the Testament Union. Any hindrance to our mission will be deemed a hindrance to the Testament Union and the history recreation, so you will be deemed an enemy. And if you are deemed an enemy of the Testament Union…”
I’m essentially making a gamble without thinking of the consequences, he thought as he continued.
“The Testament Union will conquer your academy’s territory, disarm you, and set up a provisional rule.”
“That is an abuse of power! Are you trying to use the Testament Union’s name to conquer the world!?”
Yoshitsune heard one of the Satou Brothers shouting, but she lightly raised her right hand and waved backwards.
“Don’t worry about it. He probably thinks that’s actually a threat. Even if he did conquer the world, he’s probably only got about fifty years of life left.”
…Honestly. He thinks forcing troubles onto us counts as a threat.
If they tried to protect Musashi, the Testament Union would attack Qing-Takeda.
Qing-Takeda was a powerful nation, but she doubted it would last if it made an enemy of every Testament Union nation plus P.A. Oda.
The real problem was what happened after it was destroyed.
…So P.A. Oda would set up a provisional rule in Qing-Takeda’s territory, would it?
The ruler that had protected Kantou from P.A. Oda would have destroyed itself protecting Musashi and also summoned P.A. Oda into Kantou.
That was why Maeda was asking her to compromise with him. He wanted her to allow his pursuit of the Musashi.
“Don’t take me so lightly.”
As long as she did not protect Musashi, Takeda would not be destroyed and Takeda land would not be placed under the Testament Union’s provisional rule.
Most of the Kantou and Tohoku academies would want that. Most of them, including the Date clan, were struggling for supremacy and would want to avoid allowing the future rulers of Matsudaira into Kantou.
What was she supposed to choose as the empress who ruled over most of Kantou?
Interesting, she thought.
Musashi was certainly interesting, but so was their enemy, Hashiba. It took some guts to use the situation in Qing-Takeda as a bargaining chip. So…
“Maeda, I think I’m going to play along with your little threat there.”
“Then will you allow us to pursue the Musashi in accordance with the Testament Union’s orders?”
Yoshitsune gave a smile that did not reach her eyes.
“Why would I do that? I don’t give a damn about the Testament Union or P.A. Oda.”
“Eh!? So Yoshitsune really is on my side!? Is it because I put it on her head!? Does that mean- gfh!”
The idiot was sent rolling along the ground by a short hook to the side from Horizon.
Everyone shrieked and backed away, but Horizon asked Masazumi something with the light of cannon fire washing over her.
“What is the meaning of this, Masazumi-sama? Did she really fall for him because he placed his penis on her head? Is such a frightening thing really possible?”
“That’s how you want to start this discussion!?”
“Calm down, calm down.”
Horizon held out her hands and faced Masazumi who had parted the wig’s hair to either side.
“Masazumi-sama, we can assume Yoshitsune-sama’s decision was the best possible decision for the Kantou nations, correct?”
“Most likely. She definitely chose the course of history that would give people the least to accuse her of.”
“Really?” asked Asama as she looked back and forth between Horizon and Masazumi. “If she lets the Musashi through, won’t the Testament Union and P.A. Oda set up a provisional rule in Qing-Takeda? Isn’t that the worst possible outcome for the Kantou nations?”
“There’s a way of preventing that. She can protect the Musashi and let us through to Kantou while also preventing the Testament Union and P.A. Oda from setting up a provisional rule in Kantou. Of course, it’s going to force a pretty heavy burden on us.”
Just as Masazumi was preparing to explain, Yoshitsune’s voice reached her from the sign frame.
“Maeda Toshiie, I will allow you to pass through Qing-Takeda territory on one condition: become our mercenary.”
“I grant you the right to carry out the Battle of Mikatagahara. Your employment lasts until…well, since Matsudaira lost their headquarters at Mikawa, let’s say it lasts until they reach their next headquarters. The two of you will carry out the Battle of Mikatagahara until then. The Testament Union can judge Musashi based on how well they complete this. You can see here whether they intend to uphold the history recreation or not. …And since the Testament Union vows to strictly uphold the history recreation, you don’t have any reason to refuse, do you?”
Silver Wolf: “So we have to fight the Battle of Mikatagahara until the Musashi arrives in Edo!?”
Gold Mar: “Um, but what happens with Ga-chan’s death as Naruse Masayoshi?”
Mal-Ga: “Margot, are you worried about-… Crap, I imagined it for a second and got a bloody nose!”
Worshipper: “Is it just me or are you getting more and more fast-paced, Naruze-kun?”
“Anyway,” typed in Neshinbara.
Novice: “This actually helps us a lot with the history recreation of Naruse Masayoshi. After all, Lady Yoshitsune has hired Maeda as a mercenary for their side of the history recreation.”
Do you understand?
Novice: “There’s no way the Sunomata alone can pursue the Matsudaira clan as Mikatagahara requires. Since Maeda is accusing the Musashi of interfering with the history recreation, Lady Yoshitsune is making him fail to recreate Mikatagahara properly so he too can be accused of failing in the history recreation.”
Smoking Girl: “That means we win if we reach Edo, right? Naruze, don’t get so excited you go flying ahead of us.”
Mal-Ga: “I know that. How rude. I just have to stay put and draw up some storyboards, right?”
Flat Vassal: “I’m not sure I like the sound of that either.”
That was when the Musashi passed by the cannons on the ground below.
They all used sign frames to check the footage recorded by the bottom of the ships.
“Ah,” said Asama. “The Qing-Takeda people are waving toward us.”
Yoshitsune looked up at the massive form passing by overhead.
She had no intention of waving. A ruler did not see people off. So instead…
“Satou Brothers, wave to them.”
That was all she said before facing west again.
Maeda was dutiful. He had stopped firing on the Musashi and would only begin again after passing by.
The sign frame footage was still coming in even as the Musashi and Sunomata grew more distant. Musashi’s vice president and Maeda must have both known what was about to happen.
“What are those stiff looks for?”
They did not respond. A slight period of silence was all that followed.
And that was why Yoshitsune opened her mouth as the fires and sign frame illuminated her below the darkness and rumbling of the Musashi’s passage.
“That ends my role as Takeda Shingen.”
Shingen died of illness during the Battle of Mikatagahara, so…
“Now that Mikatagahara has started, I’ve lost my right to command. And…”
She narrowed her eyes to stare far into the western sky. She could see something like dark clouds slowly approaching in the dark sky. When she saw them, the corner of her mouth rose in a smile.
“Maeda, if I’d shot you down, you would’ve attacked me with the P.A. Oda fleet waiting behind you and with Kuki’s ships that survived the battle with Matsunaga, isn’t that right?”
She looked at Toshiie on the screen and spoke to his stiff expression while maintaining her own smile that did not reach her eyes.
“I’m guessing you had already decided what to do if I set up Mikatagahara like this. Now, what history recreation are you planning to begin with the fleet you brought?”
“What history recreation do you think we might be planning?”
Don’t pretend you don’t know, she thought with a smile. After all, the distant fleet was growing larger even now.
It looked like the entirety of P.A. Oda’s existing Ottoman fleet had to have been mobilized.
Some ships were large and some were small, but they were all old models. They wanted to attack with all of their forces from the Lepanto or earlier, just like Tres España had.
What was worth going that far?
“I’ll take you on. This is the decisive battle between Oda and Takeda that began after Shingen’s death. This begins the fall of the Takeda clan.”
The time had finally come.
“Yes, this is the Battle of Nagashino.”
Masazumi heard Yoshitsune’s determination over the divine transmission.
“Listen.” Yoshitsune raised her eyebrows in a smile while looking to the left, toward Maeda’s sign frame. “Hashiba, Maeda. You’ve lost this confrontation and I’ve won. You prepared your strategy, set up your tricks, and tried to steal this nation I’ve made. But I’m just going to obey the history recreation and let this Qing-Takeda land follow the course of history.”
At that point, she turned toward Masazumi.
She said “listen” again.
Then, her smile deepened as she looked up toward the Musashi in the sky.
“Do you know what happens to Takeda territory after the fall of Takeda? The land and the remnants of Takeda all eventually end up under Matsudaira’s rule. That might not be possible yet, but there are two ways I can support you now, fools of Musashi.”
“Go east and grow strong. If you can do that, it will be our strength too.”
“Finishing Nagashino will be a large step forward in the history recreation concerning Nobunaga. I can more or less guess what you’re trying to do, so this should help you a lot.”
She said “listen” yet again.
“Heaven and earth belong to the gods. While the clever tricks of men might steal what belongs to a seemingly divine ruler, the world belongs to that ruler. As a ruler, I will not be swayed by anything you do. You can live however you like and advance the current age however you like. So let me say one thing, fools of Musashi.”
“While I will not be swayed by anyone, I will give this age to you, Musashi.”
…Is she telling us to advance the age?
She had called them Musashi instead of the Far East or anyone’s name in particular. Masazumi carved that into her heart and saw Yoshitsune looking up on the sign frame. She was looking up at the Musashi.
And suddenly, she looked to the idiot standing next to Masazumi.
Her mouth spread in a smile.
“Live a free life like I do. That’s the one lesson I have for the one who called my name, nudist.”
“Well… I’m a little more into cross-dressing than nudism right now.”
“You damn fool.”
After a single bitter laugh, the sign frame vanished.
As if to say a ruler did not see anyone off, she had ended the divine transmission.
The sudden parting left everyone speechless and motionless.
In that instant of silence, the Musashi began to shake.
It was not an attack from outside and it was not due to acceleration. The shaking was coming from within.
“Emergency! Saboteurs are destroying the interior of the ships! There are seven in all!”
The warning was from “Musashi” and everyone remembered the number she mentioned.
“The seven are from Sanada Academy! They are fleeing while destroying the interior of the ships! Over.”
“Given how much pressure they’re under every day, I guess it isn’t surprising Sanada got to work so fast. They need to teach those complacent kids that this is the age of the warring states.”
Smoke rose from the Musashi as it was pursued by the Sunomata and Nagahama in the eastern sky.
The Sanada forces on board had sabotaged it.
…After Takeda’s fall, Sanada joins Hashiba.
They were a small power, but they were still useful as a watchful eye on Kantou, as messengers, and as guards. Here, they had gone ahead and started fulfilling their role.
“But they sure are naïve. They were given a place to stay and this is how they repay Musashi? They might as well be telling them not to hold back next time they see each other.”
They were useless.
“They’re supposed to be ninja, but they don’t put any emotion into their plans and end up starting an attack they can’t complete. That would be why everyone calls you ‘unneeded’.”
As she spoke, she heard another explosion and the Musashi grew more distant.
The eight giant ships grew smaller in the east as they received a variety of damage.
But Yoshitsune moved them from her gaze to look to the western sky.
A massive fleet was coming her way.
“Satou Brothers, you two take command.”
“Testament. But what about you!?”
“With Nagashino beginning, I can’t take command. Command goes to the next generation, so Katsuyori’s name will go to…”
The Satou Brothers both nodded.
“Due to your emergency retirement as Shingen, we split the name between the two of us. We have already begun dealing with everything from the rebellion of the Kokujin to Takeda’s destruction.”
“That’s a lot of responsibility. Make sure to lament that we have to recreate Nagashino. And as for Katsuyori’s suicide, try to use the split name inheritance so you only have to beat each other half to death. Also…”
Yoshitsune looked up at the Benkei, the large floating city in the east. The sight devices on its bow glowed and turned their red light her way.
“Just like old times, do whatever you want.”
- Matsu means wait in Japanese.
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