Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 92
Chapter 92: Condemner in a Place of Parting
Where is there a nice breeze?
Point Allocation (An Elevated Place)
To the west of the Musashi, several beams of light flew even further into the west.
Two people were rushing toward the stern of Musahino’s surface area as if to see those lights off. One wore a Qing-Takeda coat as a vest and the other wore a Qing-Takeda girl’s uniform and a skirt.
“Sure thing, Saizou. What about the others?”
To answer him, five sign frames appeared next to his face. The covert sign frames produced no light and drew their images with shadow. One of those shadow-drawn people was a woman with heavy makeup and a metal fan sword resting on her shoulder.
“#7, Riichi. I’m on my way there. I found a safe spot on the outer edge, so I can jump down at any time.”
A demonic giant priest shrugged in the next sign frame over. He scratched his cheek with a bitter smile.
“#3, Miyoshi Seikai. Diving really isn’t my thing.”
“#4, Isa. And you call yourself a ninja, Seikai? Oh, but I guess it’s about time to go home. And I was just getting used to getting three Western meals a day.”
After the short girl’s comment, a young man with closed eyes spoke from the next sign frame.
“#5, Anayama. Leader Sarutobi, I can meet up with you, but do you need any help?”
“Not from anyone who let the Reine des Garous treat them like a child.”
“Understandable.” Anayama nodded. “But that would be #10, Kakei, not me.”
They all laughed as a slender man shouted “No fair!”
“Anyway, don’t overreach, okay?” said Anayama.
“We won’t. …Oh, I think this is about far enough for you.”
With that comment, Saizou wrapped her arms around Sasuke’s back.
They jumped into the wind.
The two of them hopped up to the roofs of the surface business district.
Mist trailed after Sasuke as Saizou, a wind spirit, protected him, but he did not actually set foot on the roof. The two of them pulled up their knees and gently flew over the roof. A road came into view diagonally below them.
On that road, two people were rushing sternward, toward Okutama. One was a girl in a lab coat and the other was a man in a work outfit.
Sasuke nodded toward the man’s back.
“There you are, Musashi King.”
Sasuke rode Saizou’s wind silently down to the road.
Musashi King Yoshinao was positioned behind the lab coat girl to protect her, but he did not turn back toward Sasuke. He was too focused on the out-of-breath girl.
Aiming for the man’s neck, Sasuke drew a short sword and rode down on Kirigakure’s wind.
But a sudden kick flew up toward him from below.
Sasuke did not have time to catch it on the short sword, so he twisted his body around instead.
He held Saizou’s shoulders as she held him from behind and he sank down toward the ground.
He dodged by slipping below the upwards kick.
It all happened in silence.
The kicking foot flew over his lowered head and then leaped quickly into the air.
…Whose attack was that!?
As a ninja, he memorized the movements of every opponent’s weapon and body, but this kick was both familiar and unfamiliar. He had seen it before, but it felt somehow off.
So as he moved back and straightened up, he checked who it was from the corner of his eye.
He identified the individual who had leaped without making a noise and landed on a nearby roof.
…The inheritor of the Mito Matsudaira name!
Yoshinao continued running while returning his sword to his hip.
…So they got here in time.
Mishina Hiro must have noticed his action because she looked back at him.
“What is it, vice principal? Are you worried about the solitaire game you left running on your PC?”
“No,” Yoshinao replied without looking back. “I realized I needed to rethink a number of things after this battle.”
“That was a close one. We were so distracted by the sabotage that we left our VIPs unguarded. We need to be more careful.”
Sasuke saw the silver-haired girl standing on a rectangular wooden structure in the business district.
By that time, he was already jumping to the next building over, but…
…The Reine des Garous’s daughter sure has changed.
Back in IZUMO, she had seemed somehow restless, but…
“She has guts for this not to faze her.”
As soon as he landed on the roof, his comrades surrounded him.
Including him, this was seven of the Sanada Ten Braves.
But the Reine des Garous’s daughter only smiled at him.
“Is this your way of saying goodbye? If so…”
Her own comrades surrounded her: Musashi’s 1st special duty officer, Mary Stuart, the Tachibana couple, the half-dragon 2nd special duty officer, and an Indian holding a pot of curry.
The last one was a bit of an enigma, but he was probably some kind of secret weapon. A secret ingredient was an important part of curry, after all. Those not here were presumably protecting the other VIPs, but…
“Thank for your hospitality.”
The half-dragon replied with a nod.
“Noriki will be disappointed. You helped him repair the ships quite a bit. …Of course, then you destroyed all that.”
“Yes,” agreed Tachibana Muneshige while looking to Miyoshi Seikai. “Nyuudou, you played with the children a lot, so this is a difficult situation.”
“I also wish that could have lasted longer, but…”
“Sorry.” Saizou removed herself from Sasuke’s back and smiled bitterly. “We have to do our duty, so the next time we meet, we’ll be enemies from the start. I don’t want to hear any complaints if we kill you without warning, okay?”
“I don’t think they can complain if they’re dead.”
“Pipe down, you.”
Mary smiled at Saizou’s comment and then bowed their way.
As soon she said that, Musashi’s 1st special duty officer launched an attack.
He threw Ex. Collbrande as a projectile.
The goodbyes were over, so they would always face each other as enemies from here on out. This attack signaled the beginning of that, so Sasuke purposefully chose to block it.
He used a shallow strike of his short sword to produce sparks without breaking his weapon.
He had already leaped into the sky behind him.
He jumped and ran toward the outer edge of the ship.
“Honestly, this is not going to be an easy enemy to deal with.”
He jumped from the deck and into empty air. Sanada territory waited below, west of Kantou.
He spoke to himself as he fell into the dark mountains and to the depths of the forest and valley.
“What am I supposed to tell the young master and our teachers?”
Mitotsudaira sighed and lowered her shoulders.
They had driven off an enemy faction, but another faction was still attacking from the sky.
“Still, one of our enemies has left. We need to make repairs and fight back!”
She understood the situation, so she made instructions through a sign frame.
She checked the course information “Musashi” had sent the student council and chancellor’s officers.
…Currently, the Musashi is heading east while turning a bit north from Suruga Bay.
Instead of traveling along the coast as a provisional border, they were going to head straight to Edo.
…We’re recreating history, so we don’t need to worry about the provisional borders.
They did not have to follow the marker points, so they had an easier time of evading the Nagahama’s attacks.
Silver Wolf: “What will we be doing now?”
Novice: “The Battle of Mikatagahara ends when the Matsudaira side loses its pursuers and escapes to its castle, so we need to lose the enemy before reaching Edo and fly into our specialized dock at Kantou IZUMO.”
Smoking Girl: “The Musashi’s land port at Kantou IZUMO is the floating kind, so we can dock more quickly than when it’s on the surface. It’ll still be pretty rough, though.”
Me: “Um, does anyone need a joke somewhere? Anyone? Please?”
Even through the sign frame, Mitotsudaira could tell everyone was ignoring him, so she did the same.
At any rate, losing the enemy would be easier said than done. The large Nagahama was one thing, but…
That ship was following them using the ghost ship.
…But we have a way of dealing with that!
“All ships, begin gravitational cruising. Over.”
After the ship-wide announcement, ether light reached them from the outer hull.
The expanding components had been left idling so they could use gravitational cruising at a moment’s notice. Given the durability of the parts and the remaining fuel, they had to settle this soon.
“Sink the Sunomata before we reach Edo!”
Mitotsudaira’s words were accompanied by a great wind blowing across the Musashi.
They had accelerated toward Edo.
Toshiie saw the Musashi move forward.
Due to its great size, it creaked as if shrinking down and then shot forward.
No matter how many times he saw it, it seemed to have the strength of the crashing waves.
But if that great speed was viewed as a wave, then the Sunomata was a small boat riding that wave. Its small size let it ride above the wave without being caught in the middle.
And so it did just that. It was pulled forward by the Musashi, it circled above like a kite, and it borrowed the Musashi’s acceleration while looking down on it.
It rode that speed. The Nagahama was left behind as it flew to the north on their left, but the Sunomata only had to attack and force the Musashi to use the power of its gravitational cruising on defense. That would lower the Musashi’s speed and allow the Nagahama to catch up.
But something unexpected happened.
The Musashi gained a new color: white.
The color spread from the bow like a flower or sparks.
It was an ocean. The Musashi had created its ocean in front of it in the instant it accelerated.
The water seemed to be set thickly, so a massive amount of spray collided with the air the Musashi was carrying with it and it burst apart in the shape of a spindle. However, the Musashi itself was stopped by the water, erasing its acceleration.
The Sunomata danced.
The ghost ship’s speed had dropped in response to the Musashi’s actions, but the same could not be said of the Sunomata that had the ghost ship attached to the back as a source of thrust. As light as it was, it still had enough weight to create a tug-of-war between the stopping ghost ship and the coasting Sunomata.
As a result, the Sunomata was pulled back by the ghost ship and pitched forward.
It was forced into a midair dance that created a fatal opening.
Asama did not overlook that instant of opportunity.
Below Musashi Ariadust Academy’s bridge, she fired an arrow from the landing partway up the stairs. Her binder skirt was already holding her in place and Kimi was getting in the way by hiding behind her.
She had cast several ghost purification spells on the arrow and provided no homing reinforcements to focus on acceleration.
The Sunomata was trying to temporarily purge the ghost ship to stabilize itself, but it was too late.
Asama had abandoned her attack’s homing properties to focus on speed, so it transformed into a spear of light and scored a direct hit on the ghost ship.
The ship was broken. Its light scattered everywhere and the ghosts ascended toward heaven as glowing mist, but…
A moment later, the ocean in front of Musashi’s bow vanished.
Immediate reacceleration was launched backwards from the opened portions on the ships’ side hulls. The Musashi almost seemed to have grown wings as the most acceleration light that day was blasted into the sky to send them away from the Sunomata.
The Musashi used everything it had built up to push itself forward, and…
After passing a certain point, the eight ships raced forward.
The Musashi poured on speed as it flew alone to the east.
White mist exploded and trailed from every corner and point as the Musashi continued onward. It seemed to bend in agony as it slipped through the wind and dropped far down in the sky to pick up even more speed.
The Nagahama could not keep up and neither could the Sunomata now that it had lost the ghost ship. The Musashi simply headed east, leaving behind the roar of the air it broke through and split apart.
Qing-Takeda’s warriors looked up at that roar as they began exchanging fire with the enemy fleet arriving overhead.
“So they’ve gone.”
Yoshitsune had finished riding Shizuka up to Benkei’s lowered shoulder and she watched the leaving ship through the descending noise, scattering flames, and shrapnel.
…Okay, what to do now?
The Battle of Nagashino had already begun.
Takeda’s heavy mechanical horse cannons were exchanging artillery fire with P.A. Oda’s aerial fleet.
She was surrounded by light and noise. The fleet overhead was large enough to hit without really aiming and they sent a downpour of shells back their way.
Gravity barriers, defense barriers, personal barriers, large barriers, and countless other defensive spells scattered light as the exchange of cannon fire pierced up and down through the night sky.
But despite the shockwaves, explosions of light, and falling shrapnel, Yoshitsune asked a question.
“I’d like to know what you think, since you’re crazy enough to contact someone who’s supposed to be ‘dead’.”
She looked to the sign frame “Shizuka” had opened on top of Shizuka’s tank.
“Your ‘sweetheart’ is on there, isn’t he? You thought you could guide them, but it looks like they rejected you, Houjou Ujinao.”
“Qing-Takeda’s ruler keeps sticking her nose into other people’s business even after she is dead? I can see your nation is going to have an irritating future, Lady Yoshitsune.”
“You always have to have the last word, don’t you? …Hey! You over there! Show more care when you shoot those! The Satou Brothers put a lot of work into gathering all the catalyst material for the shells! You’re supposed to ignore that fact and fire them completely carelessly!!”
“Are they supposed to show more care or be careless?”
Only kids care about those little details, thought Yoshitsune as she moved Shizuka to the right.
In the spot she had vacated, a five meter square piece of armor dropped down, was knocked back up, and then dropped back down. She watched it fall and saw the Satou Brothers scramble out of the way below.
“Now, what do you want, Houjou? I’m busy being destroyed, so make it quick.”
“Testament,” replied Ujinao.
The Association of Indian States belonged to the Mlasi religion and was provisionally ruled by the Mughal Empire which belonged to P.A. Oda, so she normally would have used “shaja”.
“What’s got you using the Testament Union’s method? …Hey! Anti-air unit over there! Don’t let any of the ships fly above me!”
“You seem otherwise occupied, so should I wait until later?”
“What? I’ll be destroyed before long, so better do it now.”
“In that case,” said Ujinao as she sent some data over.
It was a map of the ocean near Mikawa and near the Sagami region.
“This is the course predicted by the Fuuma.”
When she saw the indicated course, Yoshitsune scratched her head and bared her teeth in a smile.
“Ujinao, of all the things you’ve said to me, shown me, and done around me, this is far and away the best! Did Satomi’s chancellor stay on the Musashi because he predicted this!? I can’t believe it…”
“I’ve been waiting so long to see the moment the world is set into motion! Well done!”
“Thank you very much. I will tell my subordinates you said so.”
“That’s the problem with you. You need to have more pride in yourself. More like me.”
“You just like to take credit for everything. I heard about the time you were woken up and were crazy enough to say, ‘Good job waking me up. You couldn’t have done it without my help.’ ”
“Honesty is the best policy, so can’t you be more honest with yourself? Life will be pretty boring otherwise.”
“Being honest is not always a good thing. It lets people deceive you again and again.”
Ujinao placed a hand on the side of her mouth and answered the question.
The people running around attacking the fleet above looked back and Mobile City Benkei’s sight devices turned their light Yoshitsune’s way, but she waved a hand outward to drive away their gazes.
“So are you saying we’ve already lost?”
“I don’t know how it will happen, but let’s just say this will not be our loss.”
“What has you so confident?”
“Testament,” said the demonic princess with an automaton body. “A loss due to the history recreation and a true loss are two very different things.”
“Agreed. And in that case…”
Yoshitsune crossed her arms behind her head.
“We’ll do whatever we can. C’mon, Benkei, get up. The enemy’s main fleet is here, so let’s show them what we can do.”
Houjou Ujinao sensed it from the roof of the Odawara school building she used as a castle.
With Mt. Hakone to the west, she could not see the battlefield plain, but with her automaton eyes closed, she gathered the visual data sent in from the watchtowers scattered throughout Odawara. What she “saw” like that was the movement of the P.A. Oda fleet as it hung in the sky like dark clouds.
…The fleet is split into three rows to fire in three stages.
The ships of the front row fired in unison and used the recoil to fall back. While those ships loaded their next shells and cleaned the cannons, the next row of ships moved forward and fired.
With two rows, they would have had a firing row and a standby row, but they had three. By the time the front row fired, the second row had nearly finished its preparations, so it could fire almost immediately afterwards.
The barrage itself was bad enough, but that attack had an even more frightening aspect.
…The other side can’t tell when a gap is coming.
The other side was also attacking with cannons, but no matter how powerful those cannons were, they never had a chance to fire when the enemy was firing so constantly.
They might as well have been focused entirely on defense. And…
“The three-stage firing of main cannons is from Nobunaga’s history recreation, so the other nations can’t use it against them.”
Yoshitsune’s unit seemed to be falling back and firing as a countermeasure. The Fuuma ninja unit observing from the peak of Mt. Hakone said Yoshitsune’s heavy cavalry unit was running back to open enough of a gap to negate the enemy’s shellfire.
The enemy had to move forward to pursue them, but moving forward left them unable to fire or at least to fire properly.
In the gap that created, Yoshitsune’s forces would fire their large anti-air cannons.
That had crushed the enemy’s front line and was working on the next line, but the enemy was still numerous and Yoshitsune’s forces were clearly being worn down. The ships that had been modified for higher altitudes were staying in those relatively safe altitudes as they fired.
Qing-Takeda was at a disadvantage.
Yoshitsune had not actually been preparing for the Battle of Nagashino, yet she had agreed to P.A. Oda’s request.
“You wanted to show off your ruler’s pride by protecting the Musashi and keeping Kantou from being conquered,” muttered Ujinao. “But I know the other reason. Mikatagahara is a smaller battle than Nagashino. If you complete Nagashino with the smaller unit you have here, you can leave behind even more forces despite the fall of Takeda.”
She could keep the loss of personnel to a minimum and that personnel would remain in Kantou as an anti-Hashiba force.
The nations protected by Qing-Takeda would not forget that.
“Honestly. And after all that talk about not caring if you lost your people.”
Ujinao clenched her fists as she realized something. If the Musashi traveled through northern Houjou land to Edo and Qing-Takeda was destroyed to the west, Houjou of Odawara would have been protected by both of them.
She made sure to keep that in her heart as she spoke.
“Lady Yoshitsune, you truly were fit to be a ruler. But…”
She could perceive the aerial battlefield, but the ground was harder to “see”.
She continued speaking without looking up at Mt. Hakone’s peak which rose into the night sky.
“But…you are still an idiot.”
As soon as she said that, a massive form rose above Mt. Hakone’s silhouette
The great form was tall enough to reach the fleet in the sky, yet it still looked short.
“That is Qing-Takeda’s striking-style anti-air weapon, Mobile City Benkei!”
The falling shells stabbed into Benkei as he used his backwards motion to stand up.
When standing upright, he was about three kilometers tall and at least two kilometers wide and long.
Gravity barriers opened below his feet to keep him from sinking into the crust.
“Stand!” he shouted.
On his vast shoulder, Yoshitsune raised a hand toward the P.A. Oda fleet that was now at about the same height as her.
A moment later, they fired.
“Ah! You intolerant fools!!”
Benkei’s armor was thick, but that was why almost all of the three-stage firing was aimed at his upright form. Countless armor panels broke and sparks flew, but he finished standing regardless.
“Face forward, Benkei! Isn’t that big one the Kiyosu!?”
Benkei answered Yoshitsune’s question.
As she rode Shizuka, he appeared in her hand as a warrior monk Mouse and stared into the distance.
The Kiyosu was a two kilometer striking ship in charge of the left wing of P.A. Oda’s fleet. It must have sensed danger in Benkei’s focus because it frantically tried to move back as it fired. But…
“Pull them in, Benkei!!”
As soon as Yoshitsune swung her left arm outwards, Benkei’s left arm – the front left fork normally used to keep him afloat – moved unbelievably fast.
It was controlled using Qing-Takeda’s Oat. This was an application of Oat’s thousand li travel spell.
The spell was said to let someone run one thousand li in a single night, but a great number of the spells were used to send the giant armored doll’s left arm forward.
Several circular emblems appeared on the outside of the arm. Instead of using internal motors, spells on the outside moved the giant arm around. The arm groaned under the strain, but…
“…! …! …!”
The two kilometer arm flew rapidly through a space of less than one thousand li.
The movement did not hit a single enemy ship. It missed, but the arm’s speed instantly broke the sound barrier.
“We’ve got you now, you fools!!”
An overwhelming amount of air was pushed out of the way and a vacuum was created in front of the P.A. Oda fleet. It initially struck the fleet as a shockwave, but then a pocket of air started to fill the vacuum.
“Pull them in close. Try not to make it too painful for them.”
An explosion of wind and a long trail of white water vapor appeared and the enemy fleet’s front line literally fell into them.
The small and even mid-sized ships were pulled into a gap or drop in the air.
A few of the ships collided and even the Kiyosu was sucked in as it tried to move away.
After judging the Kiyosu’s movement and distance, Yoshitsune swung her right hand from atop Shizuka and raised an over-the-top voice.
“Go for a punch☆, Benkei!!”
Copying her movement, Benkei made a horizontal chop with an over-the-top movement.
With a gravity barrier knuckle guard attached, the metal blow drew an arc with a two kilometer radius.
The small ships were mowed down, the midsized ships were knocked away, and…
The Kiyosu was struck.
A splendid sound of impact rang out.
A great noise and an intense noise blended together to send a single tremor through the sky.
The ships whose armor had been torn away during the battle were blown away by the shockwave and Benkei’s surface was also blown away like stains on its paint.
A moment later, the Kiyosu was destroyed as if it had been hit by all the forces built up inside it.
The front half was compressed to a third of its size from left to right and the entire ship tilted.
“Hey, support that thing.”
Benkei reached out both arms and supported the tilting ship. The crew cried out and jumped off, but Yoshitsune still pointed to the left and spoke.
“Go for another hit.”
Benkei responded by swinging the Kiyosu like a baseball bat.
He targeted the right side of the enemy fleet. They were still dancing about from being sucked in and then hit by the second vacuum created by the horizontal chop, so Benkei got a clean hit with the Kiyosu.
After innumerable sounds of destruction, the Kiyosu bent and the enemy fleet broke and scattered, especially the small ships.
“That was really more of a hit.”
“Don’t! Worry! About! It!”
As the wind blew in after the fact, Benkei’s Mouse tilted his head and Shizuka’s Mouse stroked his head. After seeing that, Yoshitsune faced forward.
The enemy’s left wing had been crushed, but…
“There’s still more?”
The enemy fleet was still plenty thick, so…
“Let’s go, Benkei.”
As soon as Benkei took a large step forward, their surroundings grew dark.
It was night, and yet darkness suddenly surrounded Yoshitsune.
The only light was her own sign frame and Benkei’s glowing sight devices.
…The fleet around us has vanished!?
No, she realized. They haven’t vanished.
“We just can’t see them!?”
She suddenly realized there was no noise either. Only one thing surrounded them.
Something swirled around her with occasional lightning racing along its surface.
The wind blew in.
“What is this?”
She did not know, so the corner of her mouth naturally rose.
She had no idea what had happened, but she knew what was here. The surrounding dark clouds were growing thicker and the wind wrapped forcefully around her.
“…! …! …!”
Benkei’s entire body shook. He corrected his posture and took a defensive stance while Yoshitsune sensed a presence around her.
…This was earlier than expected, but there’s no helping that!
She sent out her words.
“Listen, fools of Musashi!”
As the Musashi accelerated, Masazumi listened to the staticky voice coming from a sign frame.
“Head north! Make allies of Date and Sviet Rus!”
“Masazumi! I don’t know if this has anything to do with the Princess Disappearances, but there is one thing I can tell you.”
“Won’t you answer me!?”
She had, but it did not seem to have reached her. Even so, Yoshitsune sent out her words.
“The Princess presumably belongs to some kind of organization, so let’s assume that organization is an academy. But I’ve never heard of an academy with someone known as the Princess. However…”
“When the people descended to this planet long ago, they decided how they would keep the world moving. The old stories say the leaders gathered and created an ‘academy’ to guide the people. That must have been the beginning of the modern academies. And after the world was split between the real world and the harmonic world, the Emperor built academies across the Far East as places of guidance. Those academies no longer exist, but I do know what they were called.”
“The Divinely Ordained Prayer Academies. I believe they were the locations of rituals meant to pray to the environmental gods for rain in the harsh environment of early history. I’ve never seen one of them, but rumor has it they existed up to the Harmonic Unification War.”
“Go there. It may have nothing to do with the Princess, but if you’re searching out some hidden group, then searching out a hidden organization wouldn’t be a bad way to start. The lands up north have existed for a long time and the imperial army conquered the non-humans there in the past. There must have been a place of guidance there. I had no interest in it, but there must be traces of the past there.”
“Go children of Musashi Ariadust Academy, the newest of the Far Eastern academies. Challenge this oldest of academies and-…”
The divine transmission was cut off by static and Masazumi shouted a single name.
Yoshitsune thought she heard someone calling her name, but she was already preparing to fight.
She felt a power straight ahead in the darkness surrounding her. She sensed something approaching, so…
“There, Benkei! That’s it! That’s the enemy that crushed K.P.A. Italia…that crushed Itsukushima!”
She gave a smile of anticipation.
“Go! Benkei Throat Thrust!”
“Throat! ☆! Thrust!”
Benkei stomped forward with a rumbling roar and threw the strike.
As the tremor roared through the sky, something could be heard breaking.
Benkei’s outstretched arm was split into a top and bottom half, gravity barrier knuckle guard and all.
Benkei had been the one to attack, but something had torn into his arm even more quickly and powerfully.
Just as Yoshitsune wondered what it was, Benkei was sent flying backwards by an impact across his entire body.
…Well, this is simple!
Yoshitsune felt a tremor assault her body from the enemy’s attack. Benkei’s defense system had protected her as his master, protected Shizuka, and even cast defense spells on himself.
But Yoshitsune was still sent flying through the air with Shizuka’s broken pieces.
Everything on top of Benkei’s giant shoulder was knocked into the sky.
She was falling, but she managed to open a sign frame with a trembling hand even as the dark clouds swallowed her up.
Also, Benkei’s giant form appeared before her. He intended to protect her from the enemy, but…
“…! …! …!”
The giant armored doll’s body suddenly exploded.
He had been destroyed.
Benkei broke apart and even the fragments came apart in midair as if being devoured.
Yoshitsune laughed as she fell into the darkness.
“It’s been far too long since this world of mine was so interesting!!”
Masazumi looked at the sign frame sitting motionless in front of her.
It was filled with static and shook a little.
It broke into fragments of light and vanished.
As soon as she realized the divine transmission had been completely cut off on the other end, she heard a distant noise.
Beyond the darkness to the west, she heard a brief but distinct sound of shattering metal.
It almost sounded like something was breaking.
She spoke aloud without thinking, and…
“Masazumi! Up ahead!”
Mitotsudaira instantly ran up next to her.
“You can see Edo!”
The beginnings of cheers rose from the Musashi. It was a surge of hopeful doubt from the people moving and working on the surface of the ship. They had seen lights in the form of a bay far to the east.
They could not let their guard down yet, but the confirmation of their hopes coming true helped raise everyone’s morale.
Masazumi realized they were all reacting with relief and expectation.
Did it mean she was a worrier if she was already thinking about what came next? She also had to think about what had happened to Yoshitsune and Matsunaga, but…
…If the vice president starts getting depressed, so will everyone else.
She decided to steel herself for the time being, so she breathed in and corrected her posture.
But then she looked around.
She noticed the tense atmosphere of the others. She distinctly saw it on Asama, Mitotsudaira, Kimi, and the others.
“Ohhhh! Edo! It’s Edo! Akihabara! We’ve gotta go to Akihabara!!”
The idiot aside, no one had relaxed their expression.
Among them, Asama spoke as she looked east.
“Masazumi, I overheard what Lady Yoshitsune told you.”
Masazumi knew more or less what the girl wanted to say, but she asked to help with her own concerns.
“That’s fine. …Did anything stand out to you?”
“Yes. Why did she…?”
Asama hesitantly tilted her head, so Mitotsudaira nodded to urge her on.
“Right.” Asama faced Masazumi again. “Why did she start by telling us to head north?”
…You wondered that, too?
Masazumi realized she was thinking the same thing as Asama.
They probably all were and Asama looked around seeking confirmation.
“Isn’t that right? Wouldn’t she normally tell us to do that after the Battle of Mikatagahara? And Edo isn’t to the north. It’s to the east.”
Just as she started to ask why again, a sun blossomed above Edo Bay in the east.
It was a dragon line reactor.
It was the light of an explosion.
The ball of light was ten kilometers across. It turned to darkness as if peeling away from within, created a massive empty space, and swallowed up everything.
The air was consumed and erased, causing the sky to move.
The Musashi was heading east toward the Edo region and it was rapidly pulled eastward, but…
“Releasing upper power limits and turning to the north! Over!!”
As they made their forceful turn, all eight ships were thrown northward at full speed. However…
“Some of the accelerators have exceeded their load limit! Over!”
On Tama and Takao’s starboard side, the accelerators in the opened outer hull burst. Light scattered and the ships shook, but…
“We have broken away!! Over!!”
The air was thrown about seven hundred meters to the east as the Musashi flew in a sharp arc to accelerate north.
The wind blew in from behind. The air was sucked in to fill the ten kilometer gap, but that air collided as it filled the vacuum and ultimately slammed into the Musashi from behind.
That windy impact struck their stern after they had already finished their turn to the north.
The windows on the stern all shattered, the doors inside were broken, and the contents of the rooms were thrown violently about.
The stern of Takao, Okutama, and Oume hopped upwards.
“Everyone, brace for impact! Over!!”
The vertical movement as it fell back down was greater than fifteen meters.
To prevent an impact with those rearmost ships, the other ships moved forward.
The towing belts were removed so the front five ships and rear three ships could move into intersecting positions.
Okutama very nearly moved past Musashino, but…
“We rode it out! Over!!”
The ships caught up to the wind that had blown past them and they broke through it.
They broke through an explosion of mist and a great noise sounded out.
As the Musashi returned to its normal formation and continued north, the crew realized three things.
First, the great volume of water in Edo Bay had indeed been annihilated.
Second, the Sunomata and Nagahama were still pursuing them, so the Battle of Mikatagahara was not yet over.
And third, a new form had appeared in the windy sky above Edo Bay behind them. It was…
A giant ship had appeared there.
After breaking free of a primary stealth space, six linked ships came into view. Overall, it had a triple fuselage structure and it was a quasi-Bahamut class at just below seven kilometers long.
The red and black ship was equipped with cannons and its bow bore the emblem of P.A. Oda and a ship name: Azuchi.
Light raced across the entirety of the massive Azuchi. Some of it was meant to illuminate, some it was decorative, and some of it took the form of pulsing veins of energy, but it all throbbed in waves of bright and dim.
“The Azuchi will now open its outer hull. Shaja.”
After a ship-wide communication, sounds of splitting and of air rushing in accompanied the outer hull sliding apart.
Glowing mist escaped the gap between the outer hull and the inner hull.
That was the light of gravitational accelerators charging up.
The Azuchi began its preparations to head north after the Musashi.
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