Horizon:Volume 3 Chapter 22
Chapter 22: Those who Participate in the Great Activity
What should be done
Before charging in?
Point Allocation (Criticism)
While using her silver chains and armor panels to deflect shell fragments on the outer edge of Tama’s deck, Mitotsudaira saw the land of IZUMO jump.
The crust had shot into the air.
This was due to a giant hammer filled with gravitational control.
This attack by Armand of the Three Musketeers caused the ground to sink down before shooting back up from the recoil. The effects covered a radius of two hundred meters and all that land floated up like a hopping frog and then broke apart.
Adele had been in that area, but Mitotsudaira could not see her anymore.
After bouncing up into the air and crumbling, the ground fell and buried everything under what looked like a small mountain.
Amid the roar of the collapse, Mitotsudaira took a dazed breath.
Just as she wondered what had happened to Adele, a sign frame opened.
Sanyou: “Waaaaah! Balfette-san! Why did one of us have to be buried!?”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh heh. Sanyou-sensei, what do you mean by ‘one of us’? Height? Chest? Marriage?”
Sanyou: “Kh! G-glasses! I meant that we both wear glasses! …And Adele-san was buried!”
Silver Wolf: “D-don’t worry! She’s fine!”
Mitotsudaira had spotted Adele.
Her trust that her classmate was safe and unburied had led her to the girl.
She was up above.
As she looked up into the sky, she saw Adele’s mobile shell hovering at eye level with those standing on the Musashi.
This was the same leap using the shell’s survival lockdown system that she had used in London.
Mitotsudaira breathed a sigh of relief at the vassal’s mobile shell flying high through the sky.
…An excellent decision!
The girl had likely activated it the instant the earth swallowed her up. She was rotating a little and her flight was unstable, so she would fall over and slam into the ground when she landed.
“She wasn’t buried! Someone support her when she lands!”
Mitotsudaira wished she could go help, but Neshinbara had decided this was her post.
…And because I’m slow enough that the Musashi might not be able to leave in time.
Those down below were primarily a diversionary force and Adele was a fast runner if she abandoned the mobile shell.
The same decision had been made about Shirojiro, Heidi, and the others and Naomasa had been left out of the fight because Jizuri Suzaku had yet to be repaired enough to actually fight. All of them were defending the ship just like her.
But Mitotsudaira thought while deflecting the shell fragments.
Even if she had not been so slow, she likely would not have been allowed down below.
…After all, I am a knight sent from Hexagone Française.
During their stay here, she had not descended to IZUMO even once.
And this was not new. She had done the same for the eight years since making a promise with her mother.
She compared the current situation to the reason and meaning of that promise.
Her heart filled with thoughts she could not speak aloud. But…
Her lupine hearing picked up a certain noise and her nose picked up a certain scent.
…The smell of burning god of war oil!?
Mitotsudaira realized the loud roar she heard came from god of war movement and the smell of oil was that of god of war activation.
The four enemy gods of war that had been hit by the initial stakes were recovering.
…This isn’t good!
She was filled with quite a few thoughts and doubts, but right now she had to defend the Musashi.
And to do that, she shouted out the fact she had just detected.
“Lookout to HQ! Hexagone Française’s god of war unit is recovering!”
But that was not all. The enemy had more than their gods of war now.
Henri and Armand’s musketeer units were circling around the south and north sides of the half-destroyed barricade. Letting them inside the barricade was dangerous. Futayo was currently battling the gods of war there, but the girl had her hands full with them and could not defend against the automatons as well.
The advance unit led by Adele was being slowed by the automatons’ gunfire and…
…The following automatons are attacking Adele’s unit!?
Mitotsudaira saw the enemy’s movements.
“I have a message from the starboard deck! The advance unit beyond the barricade is in danger! Isaac and his god of war automaton unit are beginning to fire!”
Heidi saw it while running around the deck and reinforcing different areas with money.
Isaac of the Three Musketeers carried automatons on his shoulders and arms while he stood in the central field that stretched from Tama’s starboard side to the west side of IZUMO. However…
The long arms providing footing for the automatons split apart and the lower part produced giant guns.
The end of the metal guns had a flower-like musket shape. But…
“Wait! Those things are clearly longer than a ship’s guns!! They’re not as long as the cannons on Tres España’s San Martín, but still.”
The long barrels expanded in stages and they had already reached thirty meters which surpassed his arms or body.
He had one from each arm and the automatons on his shoulders and arms were already loading giant bullets and pouring in cartridges of spell gunpowder that were the size of a human being.
Heidi knew that both the caliber and the barrel length were used to measure the power of a cannon.
The roar of both arms being fired burst through the south end of IZUMO.
The shockwave of the blast blew away everything within two hundred meters of Isaac.
The spreading pressure sent a rippling wave along the land of IZUMO. At the center, Isaac created a barrier with his gravitational control to protect the Belle de Marionnettes on his arms and shoulders and he braced himself and stabilized himself as the recoil pushed him upwards.
For just an instant, even the dust was cleared from his surroundings and he saw a truly clear space around him.
He could hear nothing and the afternoon sunlight was the only thing nearby.
In this perfect space with no waste, he felt he alone was impure.
He only had to fulfill his role as a weapon, but that brought so much unnecessary movement, shaking, and trembling.
I want to become pure function, he thought. Is that not the ideal for a machine?
He wanted to simply fire and nothing more.
If he continued firing, would he find the answer? Would he grasp some trick he had yet to learn and become a weapon of pure function?
He thought and rotated the external gyros on his right musket to stabilize the barrel.
“Hit confirmation desired.”
His high-speed vision observed his shells flying directly toward the Musashi.
Neshinbara made a single response as Isaac’s attack flew in lower and more powerfully than a ship’s shell. His voice carried over the divine transmission.
“Use the standard method to endure this, Mitotsudaira-kun!!”
“Judge,” replied Mitotsudaira, who had reported on Isaac’s attack, and the engine department’s work gods of war which were positioned behind her.
Mitotsudaira had soundproof torii-shaped emblems next to her ears and two work gods of war grabbed and threw something over her head.
“Musashi’s external armor!”
She sent two silver chains toward the five meter square panel of armor. On every side and behind her, “Musashi” and other automatons provided gravitational assistance while she grabbed the armor with the silver chains.
She swung the armor panel like a racket into the air off the Musashi’s starboard side.
That was the space “Tama”, captain of Tama, had predicted the shells would hit. A floating torii-shaped emblem marked the spot. “Musashi” and the others had opened a dozen or so torii-shaped barriers in front of that spot to slow the shells’ speed.
They tore through those barriers like paper, but their speed did drop slightly and Mitotsudaira was able to act.
Just before the cut-like strike, she released the armor panel from the silver chains as if placing the panel in the air with its surface pointing upwards.
It finally collided with the two high-speed shells.
As the shells burst and the sparks and explosion blew through the air, some people were watching it on divine television.
They wore vermilion uniforms and sat at a toshomen stand among a number of stands set up in a plaza. One of them, a man with transparent feet, raised his chopsticks toward the divine television.
“You idiots! You got my bunt backwards! Don’t do it upwards! If you’re gonna copy me, then do it right!”
“Taka, I think you’re getting too worked up. …Oh, wow. The armor panel just hit the surface of the ship pretty hard. Well, I guess they decided that was better than a direct hit.”
“Don’t you two have practice?” asked Segundo from another stand.
Fusae waved a hand his way.
“What’s that, chancellor? Do you want to be alone with Ju that badly?”
“Um, Juana doesn’t know how to handle that kind of comment, Fusae.”
Juana was blushing a bit next to him, but she kept her eyebrows flat and spoke.
“If it is necessary, I do not mind. But…” She turned back to the battlefield displayed on the stand’s divine television. “Chancellor, what do you think of this footage sent by the PR Committee?”
In place of Segundo who simply crossed his arms, Flores Valdés turned toward her with bowl in hand.
“Is that even a question? This shows just how good Musashi is, right? They’re having a firefight with Gran Muñecas, after all.”
“Sister, you are very kind to go along with Lady Juana’s desperate attempt to change the subject. …What is that sidelong look for, Lady Juana? Sister, do not say you only now realized what she was doing. You are only making her glare at me even more.”
“Well, I’m sure Ju can tell just how insufficient Musashi’s strength is in a lot of areas.”
“Really?” asked everyone.
“They seem to be putting a good enough fight to me,” said Flores.
“They are not.” Juana gave a small nod. “Looking at their individual strength, Musashi’s student council and chancellor’s officers are on the same level as any other nation. That was proven well enough in Mikawa, England, and with us during the armada battle. And when looking at the eight ships of the Musashi, their durability, size, and cruising ability make any military conflict meant to silence them a large obstacle indeed.”
“Hexagone Française has used the late timing of their challenge to analyze those previous examples ahead of time. If destroying the Musashi would be too difficult, they simply must avoid including that as a condition for their victory. Also, they can avoid an attack from the Logismoi Óplo by keeping their flagship out of range. And if Musashi’s officers are highly skilled…”
She looked to the screen where Musashi’s vice chancellor was fighting Hexagone Française’s Gran Muñecas.
“Oh,” said someone as Musashi’s vice chancellor defeated one of them.
Musashi had scored a small victory.
However, everyone stared at Juana whose expression was not at all moved by the cheers reaching them via divine transmission.
She then nodded and turned toward Fusae.
“Do you understand, 2nd special duty officer?”
“Hmm, I was thinking about retiring soon, though”
Fusae turned toward them all and crossed her blurry feet on top of her chair.
“For about four minutes, Hexagone Française has been advancing their pieces while assuming they will have to make some sacrifices.”
“First, they sent in their Gran Muñeca unit which prevented Musashi from settling this with duels. Look. Just look. It took quite a bit of time for Musashi’s vice chancellor to defeat just the one Gran Muñeca, right? But the pilot wasn’t their vice chancellor, was he?”
“Oh,” said Flores as she realized what Fusae was saying. “Hexagone Française’s vice chancellor hasn’t shown up yet. They’re an unknown newbie.”
“I thought we might get to see them here, but oh well. Anyway, Hexagone Française has managed to hold off Musashi’s vice chancellor for several minutes at the cost of a single Gran Muñeca. Meanwhile, their musketeer unit and main unit are completely untouched. To put it another way,” she said. “As long as Musashi can’t use their eight ships or bring in the rules of duels between representatives, they do not have the spare firepower needed to take on a large nation. I don’t know if proving that with the Gran Muñeca unit was meant as an insult against us, but it does mean they have a skilled tactician. I would guess this is the new vice chancellor they got the other day.”
“That’s right,” agreed Segundo while bringing the edge of his bowl to his mouth. “But Fusae-kun, you look like you have more to say.”
“Testament. I do.” Fusae lowered and relaxed her shoulders. “Musashi had this same insufficient strength when they fought us, didn’t they? England supplied them with weapons and helped them with navigation and manpower and they developed other methods on their own. In other words, they overcame their insufficiencies through negotiation and other artificial means.”
“I kind of hope Hexagone Française meets the same fate we did.”
Adele was still shaken, but she faced and ran forward nonetheless.
After landing, she had fallen and rolled a dozen or so times, but her mobile shell was unharmed. She was fortunate she had not had anything to eat or drink since an early lunch.
She had been shaking around where she was fixed in place inside, but she had been trained to control a fallen or rolling mobile shell in her standard defensive training as a vassal. She still felt a squeezing in her stomach, but she did not vomit.
…I need to keep going.
One hundred meters ahead, she saw the backs of the others who had started toward the Musashi but found themselves cut off by the barricade and the god of war unit.
Hurry, she told herself. I need to hurry and protect the others. That’s what a mobile shell is for.
The musketeer’s swords had told her she could take an attack on the god of war level, so she worked to catch up with the others and…
…From the left!
The female Musketeer automaton named Henri was circling to the right with her unit.
A bit farther back, Armand’s unit was circling to the left.
If she was to find a gap, the timing would work better on the left.
Hurry, she urged herself while gathering strength in her knees that threatened to give out.
The god of war automaton named Isaac had begun firing behind her. After avoiding the shockwave of those shots, the rear group of enemies began moving in from the left and right of Adele and her unit.
The enemy’s movement was clear.
The gods of war had formed a wall to stop Adele’s advance unit from returning to the Musashi.
Then, Henri and Armand’s musketeer units would charge the Musashi’s bridge from either side and the shockwaves of Isaac’s shellfire would pursue them from behind.
…It won’t be the automaton musketeer units that deal with us once we can’t return to the Musashi. That will be done with a pincer attack from the pursuing Royal Guards who are primarily made up of students.
Instead of giving the victory to their powerful gods of war or automatons, they were giving themselves a victory in a match between humans. Even if they did not reach the Musashi, that would increase the impression that Hexagone Française had won.
Ever since the gods of war had circled behind the advance unit, it had looked like Futayo was holding them at bay, but the exact opposite was true. Whoever had come up with this strategy had likely given the following instructions: if you do not achieve anything in the initial charge, shift your focus to allowing our human forces to achieve as much as possible.
They had a skilled tactician. So…
She was only one hundred meters from the broken barricade. Without her armored shell and with intact ground, she could have run that distance in no time.
…If only dad had made this thing move faster!
How strange it was to think that on the battlefield, how much it bothered her, and various other contradictory ideas pursued each other in her heart.
She could see the others up ahead as they hesitated over whether to circle around or pass through the broken barricade. And they soon noticed her.
“Hey, everyone! Musashi’s flat but hard shield is here!!”
“Oh, is she going to take the hits for us, as strange as that is!?”
“Is that what she’s into? How praiseworthy!”
…When did I become that kind of character!?
At any rate, I need to hurry, she thought while urging herself ever onward.
Suddenly, another color appeared between her and the others.
It was blue, it was quite large, and Adele gave reflexive shout.
“Stand back! An Hexagone Française’s god of war has recovered!”
As soon as she said that, the god of war began to move.
Only one of the four had managed to recover, but it swung its short sword toward the Musashi warriors.
The giant sword struck quick with wind wrapping around it, but it was stopped in midair.
However, that slash had not been stopped by the single recovered Hexagone Française god of war itself.
Something had struck and stopped its wrist.
The tip of a scabbard jabbed sharply into the wrist joint that was linked by wire cylinders.
The long red scabbard was wielded by a blue god of war encased in Far Eastern armor. It held the hilt of the sword and the exterior of its head was made to resemble a dog.
“I am Satomi Academy Student Council President Satomi Yoshiyasu. If this battle continues, the damage could reach our trade ship, so I have been sent out in Righteousness to provide a warning.”
The blue dog god of war asked a question after naming itself.
“Assume that I will decide how to handle this based on your next actions.”
A single noise gave the sign to oppose Yoshiyasu’s words.
Isaac continued firing his muskets without pausing in the slightest.
The roar urged the battle to continue and so Hexagone Française’s Lourd de Marionnette pulled back the wrist hit by the scabbard.
And it silently and swiftly tried to reverse its wrist for an attack of its own.
But it could not reverse its wrist. Its sight devices worked to determine why and they saw a certain fact: the red scabbard was still pressed against its wrist.
The scabbard had not grown longer.
The Satomi Lourd de Marionnette was pressing the scabbard forward with its left hand and pulling the blade toward its own shoulder with its right hand.
The movements of its hands had simply pushed the scabbard away from the hilt.
The action required a perfect prediction of the path and speed of the Hexagone Française Lourd de Marionnette’s wrist. That was why it had not noticed anything wrong when pulling back its wrist and why its wrist was perfectly pinned.
Before the pilot could even guess what was to come, Yoshiyasu spoke.
“A regrettable answer.”
An instant jab stabbed halfway into the right side of its chest.
“Should I say she made it on time? No, that may have been a little late.”
Neshinbara muttered to himself on top of the bridge in front of the academy. Next to him, Kimi was holding her hair in place due to the rough wind caused by Isaac’s shelling.
“Heh heh. You make it look like this was all according to plan, but should you really be using that Satomi girl? Prideful girls can really hold a grudge when they find you were simply using them.”
“Judge. It seems Lady Yoshitsune ordered this and Chancellor Yoshiyori wished for it as well. Satomi’s diplomatic ship arrived at Musashi last night, but it’s still moored on Tama. Sending them out due to side effects of the shelling and other attacks is really just an excuse, but in diplomacy, you can get by as long as you have some kind of reason. …Vice President Honda-kun just had to send a suggestion.”
“Heh heh. I was more worried about whether you would follow-through with that flat Satomi girl.”
“What?” Neshinbara tilted his head. “Why me?”
“Heh. You fool. Flat long-lived are your jurisdiction, aren’t they?”
“Wh-what do you mean ‘Heh. You fool.’? That’s no way to talk about someone’s life! And don’t make things up!”
Asama: “Um, Neshinbara-kun. Just ignore her. With her, you lose if you even acknowledge her. She’s a crazy person, after all. A-and, Toori-kun’s been that way a lot lately too.”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. What is Musashi’s giant breasts gunner talking about? And would that be Giant Bregun for short? Is that some kind of giant monster? Add in the shrine maiden part and it’s Giant Bregun Shriden. Is that a giant robot?”
Asama: “Nh! I-ignore her! I’m ignoring you!”
Smoking Girl: “This is hopeless.”
Meanwhile, the sounds on the battlefield changed.
Compared to before, the sounds of clashing and splitting metal grew much clearer.
This was the din of battling gods of war and Neshinbara muttered to himself as he listened to it.
“It is currently 3:07. That leaves eight minutes. The situation still has plenty of time to develop.
That was when he heard voices on both sides down below.
After circling to the south and north, Henri and Armand of the automaton Three Musketeers were beginning to charge the bridge leading to central Tama.
They’re here, thought Neshinbara with raised eyebrows.
He opened a few sign frame and spoke.
“Intercept them, everyone!”
Henri’s detour took her right alongside IZUMO’s southern forest.
Currently, three of Hexagone Française’s Lourd de Marionnettes had been completely taken out of the fight. Two had been defeated by Honda Futayo and the other by Satomi Yoshiyasu who had joined the battle.
…I have determined that Satomi student council president has been well-trained.
After all, she had stabbed her upward-pointed blade into the right side of the Lourd de Marionnette’s chest.
The fixed idea that blades were swung downward caused a lot of people to stab down at their enemy.
However, she had instead pierced upwards.
…She cut through it while swinging upwards as if to split the collarbone.
Henri thought that had been an excellent decision.
One could easily remove a sword from a human by lightly twisting it back and forth to loosen the flesh, but a Lourd de Marionnette was made of metal. Twisting a thin Far Eastern blade would chip or even break it.
And so she had used an upwards swing.
A cut to the side required a difficult diagonal angle and required a greater length to the cut, but a cut out through the top required a much shorter length and a straight-up slash would be perfectly stable.
This was the method of someone who understood how to fight.
“She is this skilled and yet a part of the student council rather than the chancellor’s officers. I would like to face her, but…”
The blue canine Lourd de Marionnette had already circled to the Musashi side of the barricade and started to fight.
With a total of five Hexagone Française Lourd de Marionnettes in the fight now that the recovered ones had returned, the blue dog and Futayo split them up and swapped out opponents as they fought.
Satomi’s student council president and Futayo seemed to be fighting a purely defensive battle, but that was not accurate. They were blocking the Lourd de Marionnettes’ attacks to draw their aim.
They were acting as bait to open a path for the Musashi warriors to return.
And that had to be stopped.
“Everyone, full speed!!”
With that shout, they fully rounded the corner of their detour and began to run.
They continued on around to collide with their prey.
But that was not what happened.
Henri detected a sudden sound with her auditory devices. It was a movement from the front of the Musashi.
Musashi had set up another bridge behind her unit and a group was making their way down it.
…Musashi’s second formation!?
There were approximately three hundred of them.
“Are they going to attack us from behind!?”
Tenzou and Mary stood at the front of the ranks. The two of them and Urquiaga had helped with the preparations and Mary now faced the others from the center.
She held Ex. Collbrande in its combined form and turned to the right.
“Now, everyone, as Master Neshinbara ordered, we will now attack the Hexagone Française musketeer unit led by Lady Henri. …It is a pleasure to work with all of you.”
She gave a quick bow and everyone frantically straightened their backs and lowered their heads.
But Mary gave a troubled smile.
“Um, I am not actually the commander. You should be showing your respect to Commander Tenzou, not to me.”
“Judge,” they all replied with a smile.
The instant their gazes moved from Mary to Tenzou, their smiles vanished and they relaxed their poses.
“So whaddya want?”
“Y-you all sure got casual in a hurry!”
Anyway, thought Tenzou. Everyone here is a student originally from England.
And that was England itself, not Scotland or Ireland.
He had actually been a little hesitant to send her out in front of them after she had opposed Elizabeth, but thanks to seeing what kind of person Mary was in England and seeing Elizabeth’s acceptance of her, they seemed not to have a problem with her.
In fact, they seemed to sympathize with Mary for trying to preserve the old England.
…That just shows what kind of person she is.
I need to do my best here, he thought before speaking to all of them.
“Anyway, everyone. I believe this will be the first actual battle against other people for some of you but I believe you can put in a great effort here if you remember that you are protecting the Musashi.”
“Judge,” they said with a small nod.
Mary then turned to him.
“Let’s do our best, Master Tenzou.”
“Judge,” he said with a nod of his own and turned his thoughts toward her. “I’m sorry, Mary-dono. It may have only been on paper, but you were once a resident of Hexagone Française, weren’t you?”
“Do not worry.” She lowered her eyebrows in a smile. “I am now a resident of Musashi. Isn’t that enough, Master Tenzou?”
“O-of course it is!”
Everyone in their ranks began to whisper.
“This is my first battle, but I’m already feeling a desire to kill someone.”
“Yeah, what kind of guy brings up the girl’s past like that? I can really feel the desire to kill welling up inside.”
“Why does he have to be an English royal? …Ahh, it’s welling up inside me! The desire to kill is growing!”
…Can I put a positive spin on this by saying I’m stirring up their desire to fight?
But Mary smiled and bowed toward them all.
“I have some snacks prepared for when this is over, so make sure you take some back with you, okay?”
They all frantically nodded and Mary nodded toward Tenzou before turning her back on them all. She raised Ex. Collbrande in her left hand and held Tenzou’s hand in her right.
He squeezed her hand and a faint strength squeezed back.
“Now, this is for the Justitia and pride of England and so that those virtues may be embraced and live on here in Musashi. The sword is a linchpin and the ship is freedom. Those aboard wield two powers, but they are no almighty saints.”
“Bless those desperate to live, Ex. Collbrande.”
She nodded and let go of the sword.
While floating, it quickly rotated and stood straight up in front of her.
She grabbed its hilt once more, placed her hand against her forehead, and inhaled.
Asama sighed at the overlapping war cries coming from Takao.
She wore her shrine maiden outfit and held her bow, but she did not prepare an arrow.
She was using it for spatial tuning.
Instead of an arrow, several charms were wrapped around the string and she would pluck the string to send vibrations through them.
“We need to tune the ship’s ether pathways and distribute the force of the shells across different parts of the ship! But the vibration will get really bad in anything related to the water pipes, so please tell me if they’re headed in that direction. I can work to avoid that!”
She was speaking to people holding arrows or wearing shrine maiden outfits who were positioned at set intervals along the outer edge of the ship. They all nodded and began plucking their tuning bows.
The most powerful of the attacks on the Musashi would be dealt with by the gravity barriers or armor rackets wielded by the powerful students like Mitotsudaira. However, they could not handle most of the smaller shells falling in parabolic arcs or the damage from fragments of shells.
And so the smaller shells were being intentionally ignored by the gravity barriers.
She plucked her bow to tune accordingly. The tuning distributed the impact to the armor.
The damage was still there, but it spread through the ship along the ether fuel pipes to lighten the impact and lessen the damage to light scrapes.
…It’s like distributing a terrible injury into light scratches across your entire body.
A bad enough injury would never fully heal and leave a bad scar, but scratches almost always healed on their own and left no scarring.
She was not sure if they could reduce the damage that far, but it was worth doing.
…Of course, if the attacks continue long enough, the entire ship will be destroyed.
Neshinbara had made this decision because it was a small-scale battle.
Novice: “A Tsirhc version of this has already been adopted using their authority to ‘distribute’, but with something as large as the Musashi, managing the distribution is difficult and it would be dangerous without someone at Asama-kun’s level in charge. If the distribution shifted too heavily toward the engine division or somewhere similar, it would all be over.”
That meant her actions here had real meaning and the people helping her would feel the same about their own actions.
All of those lined up and plucking their bowstrings had Shinto-related or music-related part-time jobs. Some were from different nations, but they all held their bows or analogous instruments.
“I see. Then feel the musical power of the Crossdressing Shrine Maiden Army ‘Yamato Takeru’!!”
“No, this is a job for the screaming gagaku punk of the Orthodox Doujin Shrine Maiden Band ‘White Cover’!!”
“Wait! It’s time for the Platonic Idealism Band ‘IDE-ON!’ to cross national borders!!”
…Our Shinto groups have reached unprecedented levels of chaos over the past few months.
With that earnest thought, Asama felt working to protect the ship like this was perfect for a Shinto worker who cleansed impurities. And the shrine’s protective charms have been selling like crazy lately! she thought while triumphantly clenching her fist in her heart.
Suddenly, a sign frame appeared.
Wise Sister: “Come to think of it, it’s been a long time since I saw Asama not shooting anything.”
Me: “You’re right, sis. It’s been so long since I saw her not shoot something that this is worrying me.”
Wise Sister: “That’s right, foolish brother. It is worrying. After all, she claimed shooting things to purify them was a way of fighting off bad luck, but she was actually shooting everything for the bad luck itself. …In other words, she’s a bad luck junkie!”
…Kh! I can’t type a response when using both hands to pluck my bow! Shinto has failed me!
No, this is fine, she pouted in her heart. No matter what they say, I don’t shoot anything while on the job. I need to stick to jobs like this and live a peaceful life from now on.
…Yes, it isn’t a shrine maiden’s job to shoot anything. For example…
Me: “Shrine maidens sure have it tough. Not only is shooting things part of their job, but they have to deal with all the tentacles too. I’ve been studying with porn games lately, so I know all about what shrine maiden’s do on the job!”
“No! That’s just in porn games! I promise!!”
She accidentally shouted her response out loud and messed up the distribution enough for water to rocket into the air from a fountain in Tama’s nature district.
She frantically made a correction and slowed her breathing.
We’re under attack and it’s my job to protect us. You could call this a shrine maiden defense, so…
At that point, she heard Naomasa’s voice from the right.
“Nwah! Mito! I messed up my control!!”
Asama turned to the right. Jizuri Suzaku had passed Mitotsudaira an armor panel, but the powerful wind of the shelling blew it off course.
The silver chains frantically caught it, but it would not arrive in time for Isaac’s next bullet.
Not good, thought Asama just as Mitotsudaira and Naomasa turned toward her.
“W-with what!? Why do you sound like you’re expecting me to do something without telling me what it is!? C’mon, Hanami, you tell them too!”
But when she looked over, Hanami was averting her gaze and setting up the usual shooting spell.
“See, Asama-chi!? Hurry up and intercept it just like your own Mouse predicted!”
Well, whatever, she thought. I don’t really want to shoot. That’s right. I’m only doing it because they told me to. And if this hits, it will do a lot of damage. I’m the only one that can do anything right now, so it isn’t like I want to or anything. Nope, not at all. I’ll just set up a fixed pathway for the dispersion and…oh, dear. It looks like I really have no choice. To say it like Masazumi, this is truly regrettable. Oh, it really can’t be helped. Not at all. Heh heh heh.
After a great roar and burst of light from the outer edge, Neshinbara muttered to himself.
“I’m glad to see Asama-kun is in top form today.”
“Heh heh heh. That junkie shrine maiden just fired a counter to the enemy’s high speed shell. Just how fast can she fire?”
Me: “She’s got to have researched how to strengthen her spell.”
“Probably,” said Neshinbara just before he heard voices from the southern end of IZUMO.
But these were not the voices of Tenzou’s unit as they pursued Henri’s musketeer unit. These voices came from the woods even further south.
“So they are here! This is the non-human unit of Hexagone Française’s regular army!”
Two hundred people burst from the woods like the wind and most of them were beastmen. They had their muskets on their backs, but they raced across the grassy plain while holding their specialized weapons or no weapons at all.
The beastmen were headed toward Tenzou’s second formation that pursued Henri’s unit. They were going to attack them from behind.
Neshinbara’s eyebrows rose when he saw their speed.
“Wow, they really are faster than humans! And it’s amazing they can keep that many people so organized!”
“Heh heh heh. War nerd, is it just me or is this making you happy!?”
“I-I am not happy about this! O-oh no. E-everyone is in so much trouble!! Th-they’re like living material for my novels!!”
“This guy’s hopeless,” muttered the others as Neshinbara finally gave an order.
“Second formation, split apart!”
The second formation obeyed Neshinbara’s order while the beastman unit pursued them.
Simply put, they split apart.
The back half suddenly applied the brakes. The split occurred just as they were taking the corner to pursue Henri’s musketeer unit.
Everyone in the back of the unit was non-human. They were primarily beastmen who were skilled at hand-to-hand fighting. They waved toward those continuing on who were either shadows or winged races.
“Take care of Lady Mary!! And keep an eye on that ninja so he doesn’t try anything funny and can’t get too close!”
“Judge!” replied those continuing on. “Make sure you hurry back! And don’t get too badly hurt!”
“Blades and bullets aren’t gonna kill us!!”
Those staying behind turned to the enemy charging from the southern woods.
“Honestly, I wish our secretary’s prediction hadn’t been so accurate.”
“Judge. It’s non-human vs. non-human. We don’t have any weapons that will work on us, so it comes down to our physical bodies. In other words, we’re acting as a wall here.”
“Well, that’s fine.”
They all took low stances and a half-tiger beastman bared his fangs.
“We’re the up-and-coming group that sank into the darkness of England, the land of monsters and spirits. They’re the group that claims to be the originals while working with the humans. Even after a hundred years of fighting, we couldn’t settle which side was stronger. If it’ll let us continue that fight, our stupid chancellor’s idea might not be all that bad. …Let’s see who’s the strongest.”
Meanwhile, the enemy roared. The Hexagone Française beastmen and giants charged forward in lowered stances of their own and they let out a shout.
“Enough talk! You have forgotten what it is to eat humans and you have lived in idle sloth! You have no right to speak of us as equals!”
“Is that so?” replied a girl with sheep’s horns on the Musashi side. She tied the sash on her armored uniform before continuing. “Listen. We’re a good judge of the people we see. After all…”
A moment later, the dozen or so people at the front of the charging Hexagone Française unit were knocked over and blown away.
“We happen to know some humans who people call demons.”
Some new figures appeared in front of Musashi’s non-human unit while wrapped in wind.
The four people wore modified Far Eastern uniforms.
The Hexagone Française unit stopped their charge and commented on the academy emblem on their chests.
“The six coins! Are you the Sanada Ten Braves!?”
“Indeed we are,” said the man standing at the head of the four.
He wore a long cloak and was of medium build. His narrow eyes were bent in a smile and he bowed his head toward his enemy while stroking the cloth bags attached to his uniform in places.
In that instant, a sudden change came over the front row of the non-human unit.
Blood sprayed from their necks and they flew backwards.
The large beastmen prepared for a fight, but the young man with the cloth bags only slowly raised his lowered head.
And he opened his smiling mouth.
“Now then,” he said. “It is time for us outsiders to join in.”
- Pronounced the same as a type of gagaku singing.
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