Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 93
Chapter 93: Traveler in a Sky of No Return
Where should we go?
Where can we go?
Point Allocation (Flee)
Beyond the wind blowing in from the east, Houjou Ujinao sensed a giant ship moving north.
“It bears the name Azuchi, doesn’t it?”
It would technically be Azuchi Castle. That was Oda Nobunaga’s castle on Lake Biwa and it had been the largest castle of the historical warring states period.
While the Musashi represented several cities as “the land of Musashi”, the Azuchi was a single castle.
…Was it built inside the giant stealth space surrounding Lake Biwa?
She knew why it had been brought here and launched a dragon line reactor.
“Did you want a test flight? Now, then.”
Ujinao faced her opponent.
In the magnified visual information she was receiving, several figures stood on the Azuchi’s central bow.
She brightened and further magnified the image.
The P.A. Oda maid automaton in the very back was likely the Azuchi’s captain automaton.
A group of ten and a single individual stood in front of that captain.
“Is that Hashiba and the Ten Spears?”
They were a mix of genders and not all were human, but their most noticeable feature was how young they all were. They already had skilled leaders, so these roles may have been filled with promising younger individuals.
Then there was Hashiba.
The short girl wore her M.H.R.R. uniform impeccably.
However, she had two noticeable features besides her small build.
First, she had mechanical wings that resembled folded fans.
And second, she wore a hood and the kind of monkey mask used in stage performances.
The monkey-masked girl seemed to breathe in a bit and a wide-area divine transmission was sent out.
“I am M.H.R.R. Vice President Hashiba Toukichirou Hideyoshi of P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R. I am performing a test flight of the P.A. Oda flagship Azuchi as well as assisting M.H.R.R. Treasurer Maeda Toshiie,” she said. “We will be providing support for the Battle of Mikatagahara and performing an early history recreation of the Bunroku Campaign.”
That shout from the stairs in front of Musashi Ariadust Academy came from Satomi Yoshiyasu. She stared into the distance from the stairs, as if looking up at the unseen Azuchi.
“They’re doing Hashiba’s first Korean expedition now!?”
It sounded ridiculous to Satomi Yoshiyasu. The Bunroku Campaign was an expedition to the Korean Peninsula carried out after Hashiba Hideyoshi unified Japan. The invasion had been meant to gain a foothold from which to invade Ming China, so…
…I thought this was going to happen a lot later!
They could only recreate it so early because they could control the Testament Union. And…
The southern sky grew bright and a great noise supported that brightness.
This was the roar of exploding shellfire.
Yoshiyasu moved on reflex. She ran down the stairs on her way to Righteousness.
But a naked idiot ran up the stairs and slammed into her.
Yoshiyasu was almost floating in midair.
Just as she had tried to descend the stairs, the idiot’s face had slammed into her chest from below, pushing her upwards.
The idiot had been trying to ascend the stairs, but his upper body was knocked backwards.
“Oh, no, no, no, no, no!”
They managed not to fall by moving down a single step as a compromise. Yoshiyasu then peeled herself away from the idiot.
“Wh-what do you think you’re doing!?”
But the idiot was not listening. He placed a hand on his forehead and then touched her chest.
“You sure you’re okay being like this?”
She threw a hook at the idiot, so he made a full rotation and rolled down seven more steps.
Allies immediately lined up alongside her and spoke up before the idiot could get back on his feet.
“Why would you say something like that, Toori-kun!? Of course Yoshiyasu-san isn’t okay with being like that! She tried her very best and this was all it got her! This is just who she is, so you have to accept it!”
“Heh heh heh. That’s right, foolish brother. This flat girl has unbelievable talent at being flat!”
…Wait. I’m the one being attacked here, aren’t I? That’s definitely a look of sympathy in their vice president’s eyes. And isn’t anyone going to ask why that idiot is naked all of a sudden?
As she wondered what to do, Yoshiyasu looked to the sky behind her. She saw the Bousou Peninsula burning and returning fire.
“Look! My nation is under attack! I have to go save them!”
“C’mon, Yoshy. What could you do if you went there?”
“You have to ask?” she shouted while turning around.
She found the idiot wearing the blonde wig on his crotch after getting it back from the vice president. Yoshiyasu stared blankly at the scene for a moment, but finally came back to her senses.
“Take this seriously!”
The idiot looked taken aback.
His expression grew serious as he made some quick movements to adjust the blonde wig’s position on his crotch.
“Sorry about that! Is this better!?”
She threw another hook, he rolled some more, and he hopped back up and faced her.
“Y’know,” he began. “If you can make it in time and come back alive, then go. But if not, don’t go.”
“You idiot! I’m the Student Council president! It’s my duty to go!”
“Don’t change the subject.” The naked idiot struck a pose and pointed at her. “Can you make it in time and come back alive? Who can you save? Answer that first.”
She did not stand a chance. She knew that all too well.
Crushing Satomi was not Hashiba’s only reason for beginning this Korean expedition.
…They’re here to hold Kantou in check.
Since Musashi was on its way to Kantou, they had eliminated Edo and begun their Korean expedition to give themselves a foothold in Kantou. And once that happened, there was nothing Satomi could do.
Hashiba would have brought more than just the Azuchi, so if Yoshiyasu tried to fly over with Righteousness, she would be shot down before she even reached Satomi.
She heard Masazumi’s voice. The other girl brought a hand to her forehead as if searching for the right words.
“Duty under impossible circumstances is not duty. It is an imposition. In my opinion, at least.”
As she wondered what she was supposed to do, she heard a great noise in the sky behind them.
The rumbling of wind was a greatly amplified version of a very familiar sound. It was something accelerating through the air.
The Azuchi had accelerated after the Musashi.
She looked back, but the school building blocked her view. However, she did see someone standing on the rooftop.
The girl’s silver hair blew in the wind and she held a gunblade in her right arm.
The enemy was coming. The enemy tore through the wind in pursuit of the Musashi.
The ship was firing and several gravity barriers broke before her eyes, but Horizon did not take a single step back. After all…
“The enemy is coming.”
The enemy was slowly catching up, unbothered by how much time it was taking.
The enemy’s was a cutting-edge warship. The Musashi had been remodeled ten years before, but it was only a trade ship and the Azuchi’s existence meant it was an outdated model.
The first to reach the rooftop were the white and black Technohexen.
Mitotsudaira came next, the Tachibana couple soon followed, and then the idiot burst through the door to the roof running in a girlish way.
He came to hug her, so she stepped out of the way.
The idiot spinning around and falling down seemed to be the cue for the enemy to enter attack range.
Several sign frames appeared with crosses combined in a torii-shape and Horizon fired Lypē Katathlipsē straight at the Azuchi.
She targeted the bridge of the Azuchi’s front central ship. That location was a lot like the ship’s face.
The thick black line produced screams of tearing as it flew in a downwards angle.
But just before the blackness hit, color appeared on the Azuchi.
A white breath burst widely out from the ship’s bow.
It was an ocean barrier. The Azuchi suddenly used the same braking method the Musashi had used.
The wind roared backwards and the creaking of the Azuchi filled the sky.
However, its speed dropped.
The path of the black cannon blast had shifted. By increasing the distance between them, it was falling on the bow instead of the bridge.
Still, the black tearing was going to reach the ship.
“It’s going to hit!!”
Twelve figures stood on the deck there. They seemed unconcerned as the deck shook below their feet and the black attack vanished when it struck them from above.
It had been erased.
“What was that?”
Nothing remained except for the Azuchi’s pursuit of the Musashi and the wind blowing between them.
The Logismoi Óplo’s strike had been completely eliminated.
Horizon had lost her attack power.
As the wind blew around her, she looked down at the gunblade in her hand.
She finally faced forward, but everything aboard the slowed Azuchi remained entirely unscathed. She frowned and tilted her head.
“Don’t look down the barrel!!”
But then they all saw movement on the Azuchi’s deck.
It came from Hashiba, the foremost of the twelve.
She lowered her raised hand and Asama commented on the action.
“Did she have some kind of weapon?”
“I see.” Horizon nodded and looked at the gunblade in her own hands. “This truly is a useless weapon. And after it was introduced with such fanfare.”
“M-Master Muneshige! Why did you fall to your knees!? A-are you okay!?”
But as they watched the Azuchi and Hashiba, Hashiba did something else.
She pulled a microphone from her pocket, held it up in both hands, and tilted her monkey mask up so it would not get in the way.
“G-good evening. …I am Hashiba Hideyoshi. I am technically under Master Maeda Toshiie’s command here.”
A voice reached them as they moved away and that voice contained a slight tremor.
“Um… Please make up your mind before the Azuchi accelerates again and catches up. Make up your mind about surrendering to us, that is. But…i-if you don’t surrender, um…”
“On Master Maeda Toshiie’s orders, I will shoot down the Musashi for the Battle of Mikatagahara. …The Musashi has not arrived at its headquarters yet, so, um, sinking it will…end this.”
No one on the Musashi knew how to respond, but…
The naked idiot stepped out onto the edge of the roof. After performing a full spin, he pointed at Hideyoshi with both hands.
“Who do you think you are!? Who says you get to act so self-important!?”
“Eek. Um, uh, well… Aren’t you…cold?”
“That’s a good point!” muttered the others, but the idiot only tilted his head.
“Let me ask something.” He crossed his arms with his head still tilted. “Why are you asking us to surrender? Have we done anything wrong?”
That’s very true, thought Tenzou as he pulled Mary’s hand on the way up to the roof.
…For one thing, the Battle of Mikatagahara does not end with Matsudaira’s surrender.
“And we are guaranteed to become her enemy, so why would she ask us to surrender when she could destroy us?”
Also, he thought just before Horizon spoke.
“Why? Why are you asking us to surrender after using a weapon of mass destruction like the dragon line reactor? That is contradictory. Why are you forcing loss onto others while giving us a choice?”
Hashiba was growing more distant and her voice grew weaker, but her trembling voice still reached them through the shared wide-range divine network.
“That is…my duty.”
“Your duty?” asked Horizon.
“Testament,” replied Hashiba. “E-even if it is contradictory, even if it has to be by force, even if it is unfair, and even if it is done through fear, I-I will rule the Far East. And to accomplish that, um, I-I will take away anything that opposes me.”
“Oh, is that what they call a terrible rain?” asked the idiot.
“Do you mean a reign of terror?”
When everyone expressed their amazement that Hashiba could figure out what the idiot meant, she tensed her shoulders a bit and laughed proudly.
“N-no, that isn’t it. Or rather, um, y-you can call it a reign of terror, but…the warring states period and the Thirty Years’ War will be over before long,” she explained. “So how about it? If it will end this sooner, I am willing to use a dragon line reactor and…to show you what happens when you oppose me. If anyone is lost, I can do the math and show that it was the smallest possible sacrifice and that it shortened the war by as much as possible. And once all of that is settled…Master Nobunaga and I will deal with the Apocalypse.”
Tenzou noticed Mary squeezing his hand when she heard that.
Hashiba was arguing from an idealistic standpoint. Even if she did show off her dragon line reactor and tried to crush Satomi for the history recreation, she could not eliminate all desire to oppose her. Yoshiyasu’s desire to rush in and fight was the perfect example.
But to keep the rebels to a minimum, she could have her opponent surrender by using the dragon line reactor as a negotiation tool.
…That previous dragon line reactor may have destroyed Edo Bay, but it didn’t directly hit the land.
She had used the blast to preemptively break their defenses and demonstrate her power. It would have caused a lot of damage, but she could still claim it was only a warning.
She had likely concluded that would reduce the number of victims in the long run. So…
“This is one form of a war economy. And it is one way for a leader to build her resolve.”
He understood all too well why Mary nodded at his comment.
Their methods were different from Hashiba’s and they probably had different visions of the future, but there was a time when a leader needed to resolve him or herself to accept everything that came with fulfilling their dream.
Mary had done so and so had Horizon.
…I’m not so sure about that idiot, though. Well, he probably has. Maybe. No, wait. I need to question him about that.
“…Master Tenzou? Why do you look so serious?”
“Oh, um, I was just thinking about how wonderful you are, Mary-dono.”
Gin looked over at them with a look of disbelief, but Tenzou felt that was unfair given how those two acted from time to time.
At any rate, he heard a voice. It was Hashiba’s trembling voice and she started by breathing in.
“I believe that…that the world will need you afterwards. So I want to…keep you alive. But…”
“You are not needed yet. We will unify the Far East and deal with the Apocalypse.”
She gave her ultimatum.
“So p-please surrender.”
Masazumi gasped as she wondered what to do.
The decision fell to her, but…
…Ahh! I’m so useless!
She could only think of things that did not matter in the slightest here: the procedures of negotiating, how to get the best deal, how to find common ground, and how to choose the best person to negotiate with.
…Why am I so pathetic? Hm?
But no matter how much she judged herself while mimicking the Pope-Chancellor, it was still her duty to actually do something here.
…Whose decision do I need to act on?
Her eyes found the naked idiot first, so she ignored him.
“Wait, wait, wait! Seijun, you just looked right past me, didn’t you!?”
“I’ll look at you once you put on some clothes. …Anyway, can you make a decision here, Horizon?”
The naked idiot kept complaining, but he quieted down when Horizon glared at him. After that, Horizon sighed and spoke to him.
“Do you have anything to say?”
“Eh? Oh, yeah.”
The idiot casually raised a hand toward Hashiba.
“Hey, monkey girl, how are you gonna deal with the Apocalypse? If it’s a secret, I promise I won’t tell anyone else.”
Everyone shouted at him.
“He just asked what I decided I probably shouldn’t!!”
Masazumi saw the idiot pout his lips.
“Ehh? Why shouldn’t I ask? If their way is something we can do, then why not do it?”
“Y-y-y-y-y-y’know? You’re pretty much telling everyone that we have no idea how to do it. You’re killing our credibility for Westphalia.”
“Hold on, Seijun. You’re the one that’s doing everything you can to tell them we don’t have a real plan. And if you think about it, they claim they’re on a test flight, but while we were having fun in Europe, they were flying around in stealth mode saying, ‘Eh heh heh. Let’s sneak over to Kantou. Everyone there’s gonna have a heart attack when we pop up out of nowhere.’ They’re clearly gung-ho about all this.”
“W-we were thinking nothing of the sort.”
Everyone nodded at Hashiba’s denial.
“Aoi, don’t assume everyone’s on your level. Everyone else is much higher than you.”
“Y-you really can be cruel sometimes!! …Anyway, um, Hashiba?”
“Y-yes?” replied the divine transmission.
Then the idiot asked his question.
“What are you going to do once you deal with the Apocalypse?”
Hashiba paused for a moment.
She was at a loss for words, but then a smile appeared on her lips.
She muttered something under her breath and then lifted her mask which had started to slip down.
“I can’t say.”
She told them she was unable to tell them that, so…
He looked to Matsudaira’s princess, they nodded to each other, and he smiled.
“Then we can’t surrender at the moment.”
He brought a hand to his chin, leaned forward, and placed one foot on the rooftop railing.
“We’ll have to be your enemy.”
“That settles it.”
The Reine des Garous heard the boy’s voice coming from a signe cadre.
“I need to take this more seriously. And…”
The Reine des Garous urged him on with a smile and the signe cadre continued.
“I’ll make sure to give you a proper response so I won’t bring any shame on you.”
“Oh, my.” The Reine des Garous’ smile deepened and she placed a hand on her cheek. “Can I brag that I was the first one you told that to?”
Hashiba gave her response.
She lowered her head toward the boy and the girl.
“I-I look f-forward to, um, being your enemy.”
She breathed in and took a step back toward the others behind her.
“I-I will conquer the Far East and…deal with the Apocalypse. If that comes to a fight, then…um…I will be the one to win. After all, uh, I come first. My rule comes first in history, so…”
“I will teach you that, um, there is nothing you can do…at the moment.”
Tenzou saw their distance from Hashiba growing. The Musashi was accelerating, but it could not use its full power at the moment. They seemed to be pulling away from the Azuchi, but it would close in as soon as it accelerated again.
Something moved in between the Azuchi and the Musashi.
“The P.A. Oda fleet.”
That fleet had arrived here after finishing the battle with Qing-Takeda. Most of the ships were damaged, but there were enough of them to change the color of the sky. They had circled in from Edo to the south and they surrounded the Azuchi, but…
…Doesn’t this mean the Azuchi can’t speed up?
The Nagahama and Sunomata also hung in midair as if protecting the Azuchi. The Shirasagi Mk. II was as well.
Tenzou thought about what this formation meant and came to a sudden realization.
“Neshinbara-dono, is this what I think it is?”
“Judge,” replied the boy who had arrived on the rooftop. “This is the Battle of Mikatagahara.”
“Um, are you listening?” Hashiba’s voice reached them again. “I-I will teach you what a sacrifice is. And, um, to do that…well, uh, I have an idea of how we can end the Battle of Mikatagahara.”
“We will end M-Mikatagahara with the, um, charge and death of Naruse…Masayoshi.”
And if they did not want that…
Naruze saw the others turn toward her.
…What is it now?
Margot was still looking at Hashiba, but she was squeezing Naruze’s hand. That definite strength said she was not letting go.
…But Margot can’t say no if I ask her.
Margot knew that and that was why she did not turn toward Naruze. She only stared at Hashiba as if ignoring Naruze.
But even an idiot could understand the situation. Even if they tried to run, the enemy would continue pursuing them no matter where they went.
The chancellor’s officers had been sent data on the Musashi’s status, so Naruze knew they were almost out of fuel. But despite that, something else filled her heart.
“All I can think about are ideas for doujinshi about running away!!”
“I can’t believe you can say that out loud.”
Four Eyes: “I just hope the event hall in Edo wasn’t destroyed.”
When she saw those words on her sign frame, Naruze looked around and found Neshinbara.
“Come here a moment. I have something important to discuss with you. Yes, stand next to me like that.”
She wrapped an arm around Neshinbara’s neck, pulled him close, and opened a sign frame.
“Say cheese. Aaaaand sent to Shakespeare. …Oh, you can go now. I need to put on some perfume to cover up the nerd-stench on my arm.”
“Wh-what have you done!? Did you really have to make my life more dangerous than it already is!?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Naruze took a deep breath, and…
“Margot, will you go with me?”
Margot must not have expected that because she turned around. Naruze was glad to finally look her in the eye.
“Weiss Fräulein won’t be fixed until tomorrow, so can I ride on the back of Schwarz Fräulein?”
Margot fully turned her way at that question.
“Y-you can’t, Ga-chan! Aren’t we always saying we’re going to keep living together!”
“That’s true and that’s why I’m prepared to drag you into this by saying this: let’s keep living together.”
She faced Margot as she continued.
“I have no intention of dying. I’m just bad at living on my own and I’m not sure I can do it.”
If she needed to apologize to anyone, it was to all of them, but she said what she did to make sure she did not have to apologize.
“Let’s charge in, attack Hashiba, and end their invasion. This is the perfect opportunity. …Isn’t that a positive way of looking at this?”
“You cannot,” said Horizon. “We know we are outnumbered and we do not know what exactly the enemy can do, so if the alternative is giving them you, then I will order the Musashi as a whole to attack.”
“You really are stupid. …If we do that when we’re this outnumbered, we’ll lose a whole lot more. Listen. When it’s just the two of us, we can make a run for it and escape if it comes to it.”
“I-if you do that, we will demand a substitute,” cut in Hashiba.
“She sure is thorough!!” complained the others.
“Umm,” thought Naruze. “If a substitute will do, is there anyone in Musashi we’d be fine with losing?”
“Wait, Naruze!” shouted Urquiaga. “In self-defense, let me make one thing very clear! We must not allow anyone on the Musashi to be lost. Isn’t that right, Ohiroshiki!? All life is valuable! You pedo!”
“Ha ha ha. I agree! We shouldn’t accept anyone’s death! Isn’t that right, you elder sister loving nonhuman!”
A few of them started heating up, but it never spread to Tenzou because he had Mary with him.
Naruze watched the others loudly attack each other.
…Well, whatever. It’s always like this.
She smiled a little and shrugged.
“We just have to win is all. …And Horizon, covering for us by sending out the Musashi and all these horrible people would be an awful plan, so be careful.”
“That’s exactly what they want. They knew how you would react, so they set this up to have you say this. They don’t want us to surrender. They want to defeat and conquer Musashi. So we can’t let them use you. Your ideals are your own, so we can’t let someone else abuse them. …And that’s the job of those of us who follow you and that idiot.”
“Hold on, Black Mal. If we let you do that, Horizon’s and my policy will fall apart. No one will be able to trust Musashi anymore.”
“And,” said Naruze. “That’s why we’re planning to live. We aren’t heading out to die or to be killed. So order us to hunt down Hashiba. Tell us we can pull it off. Isn’t that enough?”
She wrapped her arms around Margot’s arm as she asked. And…
“Yes. Planning to live. That’s exactly what this is.”
A voice reached them from above.
Naruze looked up and saw a giant figure standing on the roof of the rooftop’s entranceway.
The God of War had its flight devices on its back opened and it was facing the Azuchi.
It had canine head armor, but unlike the blue Righteousness it was green.
The word Loyalty was written in white on its waist armor, so that had to be the God of War’s name.
It raised a pole bearing the emblem of Musashi Ariadust Academy and the individual waving that school flag spoke.
“I, Satomi Yoshiyori, have temporarily inherited the name Naruse Masayoshi, so I will be going.”
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