Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 01

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

Chapter 1: Anticipaters of Unseen Footing[edit]

Horizon4A 0047.jpg

Even if your footing is uncertain

You are fine as long as the horizontal remains level

Point Allocation (Restraint)


The afternoon sun was artificially created in a certain place.

That place was the vast interior of the Ariake. The metal space was large enough that the four walls looked hazy in the distance.

It was longer lengthwise than widthwise and eight docks were carved into it. On the docks sat massive Goliath cranes and girders even larger than the cranes; and each one contained a ship bearing the name “Musashi” followed by an individual name.

The Ariake had no windows. Instead, sign frames displaying the view outside were lined up along the ceiling, walls, and around the docks. Artificial environmental light based on the time of day outside was created by lamp spells.

As the Musashi was remodeled within, the Ariake contained the light of an early summer evening.

Most of the sounds inside were from moving cranes, or linked wagons carrying materials, or from the work taking place between the canopies covering parts of the ships or inside the wooden prefab construction buildings.

There were sounds of hammering, welding, saws, drills, and cargo being set down or dragged. There were also the occasional cheers when some piece of work was completed.

But another sound was added in.

It came from the rear of Okutama which had a few wide blocks removed and had holes filling its surface. Musashi Ariadust Academy’s bell was ringing.

It was already past time for school to be let out, so this bell was informing the ship that it was now 5:00 PM.

The artificial light illuminating it from overhead gradually began to dim, but the sounds of work continued. No one went home or even grabbed an early dinner. If anyone did leave, it was to buy some food for the entire group they were working with.

They all stubbornly remained at the work sites.

“Hey, you got a moment?”

A certain conversation would occasionally begin at one of the work sites. Even if no one said “yes”, the person would continue as if asking themselves.

“We can win once we finish this, can’t we?”

They would receive a few different answers, but the most common were the following two:

“Of course we can. What are you talking about?”

“Stop thinking about that and just do your duty.”

Sometimes the other person would reply with a silent bitter smile or try to avoid the issue with a joke, but it always ended in the same way:

“If we don’t do whatever we can, we’ll regret it later.”

“Yeah.”

Then, they would begin to chat. They would distract themselves from what lay ahead and what future awaited them, but they would keep those things in the corner of their vision.

Once a certain place started chatting, people found it hard to leave; so they all ended up chatting cheerfully.

“Hey, did Satomi’s Student Council President end up transferring in?”

“I always thought we had the same taste, but it looks like I was wrong.”

“I-I didn’t mean it like that! Wait, are you making crazy accusations in a plot to steal my AsaShoots collection!?”

“Hey, could you two quit drawing swords on each other and help carry these materials?”

As that conversation played out on Takao’s surface, a light God of War activated.

“Okay, East Ship Team 3B-26. Let’s go!”

They all followed the God of War and climbed from its tail ballast to its head.

“Hey.”

Their conversations always started with that word.

“The Satomi Student Council President sure is great, isn’t she?”

“What!? You aren’t overlooking the perfection in glasses that’s a year older and maybe even flatter, are you!?”

“But Naomasa’s been in the engine division so much lately that my points in the large religion nearly got to the point of a class change. I’ve been playing this minigame in between trips to carry supplies to her unit. This Musashi remodeling minigame sure has a lot to it. You just keep playing and playing, but it never ends.”

“Chief! Everyone but me is dangerous!”

But once they arrived on top of the dock, they all looked around.

The Musashi’s ships rose higher than the dock’s floor, but…

“About twenty percent to go. …We need to hurry up and stuff everything inside.”

They were definitely making progress on the remodeling and they could hear sounds of construction even now, but…

“We’re gradually focusing more on the most important parts. Is this what you call the last spurt?”

So…

“What do we do?”

“Yeah, what do we do once the remodeling is done? We need to figure that out pretty soon.”

As soon as someone said that, two objects passed by far overhead. They were people.

“The Tachibana couple? They go for a run while fighting each other every morning and evening, don’t they?


Recently, Tachibana Muneshige had decided to eat dinner outside.

Their residence in Musashi was on Tama’s second belowground floor. That was a part of the student dorms and the next wide block to the right was an underground nature district. The English Queen and the 1st Special Duty Officer lived nearby, so they got along with the neighbors well enough.

It is such a nice place.

But they had something to do besides spend their time there.

This was not training. It was a form of discipline.

They were eighty meters up from the dock’s floor off the starboard side of Musashino, Musashi’s front central ship.

Muneshige was going through rehabilitation with Gin’s help. He checked the feel of his legs as he ran on the reinforced wooden deck, clashed pieces of metal shaped like swords with Gin, and held combat training as sparks flew.

“…”

But as he ran alongside and exchanged attacks with Gin, Muneshige consciously held back his body that wanted to test his full strength.

He had not fully recovered yet. His muscles had not returned to their pre-Mikawa levels. If he tried to use his full strength now, the discrepancy between his memories and the present reality would place an unnecessary burden on him and confuse him. So…

I will hold back!

Impatience stewed inside his body, but he tamed it by telling himself he was controlling himself. If he could control himself, recovery would be a simple task.

He ran. He jumped over one of Gin’s attacks, flipped to avoid it, and sent out his own attack.

Even if they were only going for a run, Gin showed no restraint in her attacks. If he let his guard down for even a moment, attacks quick enough to leave him with a new injury would fly accurately into the places where he knew he was weak.

She only did so because she trusted him and because she was trying to rid him of his weaknesses.

And because she wants me to…

She wanted to return him to his position as the Peerless in the West.

And because he understood that, he did not go easy on her.

With each and every step, his footsteps traveled up his entire body and he spoke the words that came most naturally to him.

“Gin.”

“What is it, Master Muneshige?”

“Compared to when I could barely move, I am incredibly happy now.”

“You have not recovered yet. You still have a stiffness in your step.”

“Oops.”

He made sure to step rather than just let his foot drop. And as soon as he took a leap, a metal sword pierced the spot in which his foot had been.

“My attack was too slow because I warned you first,” Gin was entirely expressionless. “I have room for improvement too.”

She wore a vermilion track suit and gave a small nod.

“But I agree that this is a happy time.”

“Judge.”

Muneshige nodded in agreement, avoided an attack to his head, and reminded himself that victory was the only option from now on. After all…

This is the Far East and Musashi’s last chance.


Musashi lost so much during the Battle of Mikatagahara three weeks ago, thought Muneshige.

Hashiba had sent Azuchi Castle to Kantou and it was still sitting above Edo and Satomi. That giant aerial warship belonged to the same class as the Musashi and it was holding southern Kantou while receiving supplies from Sagami.

You could probably say it’s in top form.

Meanwhile, the Musashi sat above the territory belonging to 5th Special Duty Officer Mitotsudaira’s clan. It was inside the Ariake, a giant dock designed specifically for the Musashi that had created a stealth defense barrier around itself.

The residential districts had been rearranged into transport ships and most of Musashi’s residents were living at the land ports in Mito territory. The eight ships had been split up between the eight land ports, so…

The people can’t set up a chain of dissatisfaction or plot to rebel.

“But,” muttered Muneshige to no one in particular as he ran and deflected Gin’s jab with the pommel of his sword. “This is their last chance.”

The same could be said of the members of Class Plum. Given the situation, they were all moving around busily, but each one of them would occasionally stare into the south even though there was nothing to see there.

Muneshige had grown accustomed enough to life on these eight ships that he hoped that was a sign of their will to fight Hashiba and not of their fear.

But it was true this was their last chance. And so they kept moving. Gin had only been using one hand before, but she finally moved her second to send out both her metal swords at once. And so Muneshige deflected them with both of his.

The two of them were moving as well.

But even if they were moving, it was not actual movement. Their current movements were preparations to ensure they won once they did take actual movement. That was what they had to do now, so…

“Gin, pour on the killer intent.”

“Judge.”

Gin nodded, narrowed her eyes, and sent out constant attacks.

These were not gentle attacks. They were serious attacks that targeted his legs when he landed or the backs of his joints. Muneshige avoided or dealt with them all.

“Nice killer intent, Gin!”

She smiled. It was a cold smile filled with killer intent.

Wonderful, thought Muneshige. He had not had many chances to see that look on her face since they had started living together, so he was truly glad they had moved to Musashi.

He felt real accomplishment as he ran, leaped, and moved his body. This would continue even after they returned home. They would read books or divine websites on cutting edge combat techniques and check on the most cutting edge weapons.

Yes, I am so thankful we have so much to do.

All of them had lots to do. Those repairing the Musashi were pursuing that, those supporting the first group were pursuing that, and those “keeping the Musashi moving” were pursuing that.

It all went back to three weeks prior.

Muneshige had seen something during that loss three weeks ago, although he was not sure if it was a good thing or not.

These were the people who were moving the current world, but he had seen them desire even more and pursue themselves.

Muneshige had once been an inherited name holder like them.

He was not any longer.

Would he be able to become like that again? Would he be able to do something like that or do something even greater? He restrained his doubts with the sensation of his feet pressing against the ground.

He used his mind to restrain his stewing body and he used his body to restrain his stewing mind. And as he repeated that process…

“Gin.”

“What is it?”

“I will grow even stronger than before. Just like when I confessed to you.”

“That was not so much ‘growing strong’ as it was ‘refusing to give up until you won’.”

“That had not occurred to me.”

“You were so strong it did not need to occur to you.”

She nodded, suddenly put away her swords, and lined up alongside him. She then opened the wicker basket attached to her waist hard point and showed him the water bottle and rice balls wrapped in bamboo grass contained inside.

“Master Muneshige, it is about time for dinner.”


Gin picked up the wrapping with her giant false arm.

These were special rice balls. She had not made them with these false arms. Before Muneshige had woken that morning, she had brought out the false arms based on her original arms and made them.

She felt she should not hide those arms from him since he had given them to her and she had used them in her battle with Musashi’s Vice Chancellor. The arms were beginning to feel less special to her, but…

Am I being oversensitive when I hesitate to use them in public?

But since they and Musashi were coming up on their last chance, hesitating to use anything available to her would be dangerous. So she was gradually trying to accustom herself to using them in public, but she could not change the part of her that still needed a reason to use them.

So it is all for Master Muneshige.

He made for the all-purpose excuse.

I would expect no less of Master Muneshige.

Currently, she used those false arms for combat and rice ball making, but she felt that was evidence of the changing nature of all things. All things and people would sometimes do what one expected and other times would not. Her relationship with him was a perfect example. The future destined for her by her inherited name had greatly changed with his interference and Musashi’s interference, but…

“Today, I mostly made the soft-boiled egg and chicken ham rice balls you like so much.”

“Are you sure you should have done that? The egg supply is pretty limited.”

“Please thank me.”

“Judge. Thank you very much. …I can’t wait to try them.”

“Judge.” Gin nodded and glanced around the area. “About what the 1st Special Duty Officer contacted us about…”

“Judge. I wasn’t sure whether he should have told us about that. …It sounds like things are finally beginning to move. A representative of the Date clan will arrive tonight for an unofficial meeting.”

“Judge. And we were all asked to gather tonight in preparation. Master Muneshige, does this mean we are one of them now? I do not recall giving our consent.”

“I have a feeling those people think everyone is one of them.”

“True.”

Gin sighed because she could not understand that way of thinking.

But as she recalled the information on the surrounding nations she and Muneshige had been gathering lately, she raised her head as emotion filled her face.

“Oushuu had its foundation in Qing-Takeda’s power and in the stability Matsudaira will bring in the future, so they had completed their history recreations in a relatively peaceful manner that nearly qualifies as a mere discussion. But…”

“But the Mogami clan in west Oushuu, Date in the east, and Sviet Rus have all stopped everything they were doing.”

That had happened only a few days before. As Gin ran, she looked up at the sign frame reproducing the external light.

“That means Oushuu has cast aside its trust in Matsudaira’s future stability after the loss three weeks ago.”

“It means the real history recreation and the real Warring States era has arrived in Oushuu.” Muneshige smiled. “So now it’s our turn to crush the future someone thought was set in stone.”

He had once done exactly that to her, so she could only trust him when he said that.

Gin took a slow breath and nodded once to convince herself.

“Then let us eat dinner.”

With that, she placed the water bottle and bamboo grass wrapping on her false arm.

“…!”

And she forcefully threw them high into the air ahead of her.


Muneshige saw his dinner hang in the air for an impressively long time.

The throw from Gin’s false arm refused to fall back down. Meanwhile, he nodded her way.

“Please go on ahead, Gin.”

“Judge. I have my own route, so go on without me, Master Muneshige. I need to greet a few people afterwards, though.”

When he spotted some sweat on her brow, he smiled her way.

“I told you to go on without me, Master Muneshige.”

“Oh, I was just realizing how lucky I was to have moved here since it lets me see you so full of life, Gin.”

She wrinkled her brow, but her mouth moved in a slight wave. Her cheeks also flushed.

“I should have thrown it so high and far you couldn’t see it.”

“Not to worry. I have excellent eyesight.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

But then she nodded again and jumped to the right.

She did not hesitate to throw herself into the air at a height of eighty meters.

As she fell, she stretched out and gave a midair bow to the transport Technohexen flying by.

And then…

Arcabuz Cruz.

She fired blanks to launch her body through the air. She directed herself to the thick rope passageway leading starboard to Tama.

At the same time, Muneshige began to run.

He did not use his full strength. He focused on the soles of his feet and took each step with care. First, he set his heel down, bent his knee, and pulled his body forward. Then, as he tilted his balance forward, he would use the arch of his sole to stand on his tiptoe. From there, he would place his big toe on the floor and press down like he was tearing into the floor.

“…!”

He filled himself with reliable acceleration.


Without rushing or hurrying, Muneshige simply accelerated forward as if memorizing each and every step.

He could see the transportation district on the port-most long block to his left.

His dinner was falling and…

It is falling off the edge of the ship.

That was too far to reach and there were no thick rope passageways in the area.

“I’ll have to go for some interesting footing on this one. I would expect no less of Gin.”

He accelerated and leaped.

He lifted his left leg and jumped.

His initial destination was the first floor roof of a warehouse in the transportation district. First, he placed his left leg on a small wooden box left on the ground and used it as a stepping stone.

“…”

As if stepping over it, he leaped toward the warehouse roof.

He made a midair flip as he passed over the heads of the transportation workers helping with the remodeling.

“Excuse me.”

He raised a hand of greeting as they gave shouts of “Oh!” or “That’s amazing!” and he landed on the rooftop.

He used the motion of his landing to briefly sink forward and used his body like a spring.

He felt the momentum building in his body.

“Toh.”

So he kicked sideways and made another flip in midair. Just as his feet circled downwards again, he leaped toward the third floor rooftop of the warehouse across the way.

He landed, leaned forward, moved his right leg forward, and ran across the roof toward his dinner.

He did not stop and he quickly reached the edge of the roof leading toward the edge of the ship.

“Now, then.”

He jumped from the elevated roof and flung himself into the empty space beyond the ship’s edge.

Everything vanished below his feet and the movement of the wind changed.

This was a dangerous action, but it felt almost nostalgic to him.

I helped prepare the Grande y Felicísima Armada after all.”

Knowing how to move between ships in a large fleet and being trained in naval hand-to-hand combat were both necessary for Tres España and their history recreation of the Armada Battle.

He reached a hand out in midair while recalling older times.

The dinner Gin had made was there.

He reached it, grabbed it, opened the bamboo grass wrapping as he pulled it in, grabbed one of the handmade rice balls, and put it in his mouth.

Oh, soy sauce tortilla flavor.

Wonderful, he felt while flipping around in midair and pointing his legs downward. He maintained a falling stance as he dropped toward his destination.

“Excuse me.”

A tugboat was there in order to move transport ships alongside the Musashi. Gin had likely thrown his dinner only after noticing the boat’s presence. Muneshige landed on the Shinto rope that provided shock absorption on the sides of the bow and he crouched down to prepare for his next jump.

“Thank you very much.”

He raised a hand in response to the crews’ raised hands and he made his jump.

His target was Musashino’s outer hull.

I need to land on the wall and then…

He had to run up it. The 1st Special Duty Officer had taught him this form of training and he had improved enough to pull this off. However…

“Oh?”

He spotted a familiar face on the work scaffolding halfway up Musashino’s hull.

It was Honda Futayo.


Futayo placed a foot on Musashino’s wall-like outer hull.

She was forty meters from the deck at the top, so if she was to climb that height with only her feet…

It truly becomes a “wall” at about the ten meter mark.

But…

“That means I cannot actually climb this wall.”

If she could not climb the wall after losing her initial speed, that meant she could not climb or balance on the wall with only her initial kick.

It sounded simple, but it was actually quite difficult. The ninja who had taught it to her had raised his index finger and told her the following:

“Muneshige-dono trains this way every single day.”

It had sounded like something from a bogus mail-order advertisement. But…

“————”

She looked up and really did see Muneshige there.


Futayo watched Muneshige.

It looks like he jumped to the wall from that tugboat passing by overhead.

He was approximately fifteen meters above her.

He placed one foot above the other on the wall and stood there. He was looking at her, but he was not looking down on her. He turned his definite gaze in her direction.

Was she being conceited if it looked like he was challenging her to climb up after him?

She had planned to climb the wall regardless.

She wanted to train. She was always completing her own sort of training, but she had recently started wondering if she should try adding on some different or extra training, whatever that might be.

But she was not sure what kind of training she should add on. Part of her felt she could add on a few more programs derived from her normal training, but…

Would that really work?

She was not sure how to put it.

What can I do to get stronger? That was a vague question. She did not know what it was she lacked.

She knew she had to avoid any training that had no direct connection to her strength. Her time as the Far East’s Vice Chancellor and the time Musashi would remain safe were both short. So she had asked the ninja. She had asked him to tell her what kind of training Muneshige and Gin did, since she had fought both of them.

“—————”

Futayo looked up. Muneshige stood fifteen meters above her and he was looking at her.

If it was only due to her conceit that he seemed to be challenging her, then why was he looking at her?

She did not know, but…

“Here I come.”

She filled herself with initial speed.


Muneshige saw Futayo coming up.

She’s serious, was his initial impression.

Her acceleration spell, Soaring Wings, purified away everything extraneous to her acceleration, but it was not active at the moment. She intended to make the climb with her pure strength and skill.

And she started up.

She rose with the speed of a fall.

She immediately covered about seven meters. She seemed within arm’s reach, but that was an optical illusion. The speed of her approach had caused an error in his judgment of her position relative to his.

But she was definitely approaching.

She placed her feet on the wall and let her knees sink forwards to press her weight against the wall.

“Hoo.”

With a single breath, she relaxed her strength and pulled her body up with the foot caught on the wall. Instead of kicking down, she needed to pull herself up.

She covered three more meters with a single step, so she would reach Muneshige in another two steps.

So he began as well.

Now, then.

He could not just watch. This was his time to train.

When he had noticed her and realized what she was trying to do, he had felt something.

If he had spoken that feeling aloud, it could easily have been viewed as conceit, so he had left it unsaid and sealed it deep in his heart.

He knew what he needed to do now.

“…!”

He began running up the wall as a standard part of his training.



Futayo saw Muneshige start climbing up ahead.

He seemed to be testing her, he seemed to be ignoring her, and he seemed to be telling her to follow him.

And…

She did not understand, but she did know that the person running out ahead of her had held an inherited name.

She thought on the term “inherited name”.

She had fought inherited name holders a few times and had barely scraped by with victory. Her father had held an inherited name and he had trained her and taught her quite a bit. But…

What does it mean?

She asked herself what meaning an inherited name held.


Until recently, Futayo had thought of inherited names as the textbooks had taught her to.

According to the textbooks, their holders bore the responsibility to move history and the world. Her father had held one, so she had seen that for herself several times. They lived according to the history recorded in the automatically-updated history book known as the Testament.

Recreating the Testament’s history was everything to them.

The Testament’s history was long.

Long ago.

When the people had descended to this planet, every part of the world save the Far East where the Environmental Gods were had been given too great a recovery; so the Far East had been the only livable place. So the people had started a war over that land and nearly wiped themselves out again. Having learned their lesson, the people had known they could not leave the state of the world to people and had decided to obey proven history instead. That was what Futayo had been taught in class.

The rules concerning inherited names had been developed back then. And when they had made the Testament to provide instructions, they had made sure it automatically revealed only the next hundred years of history to make sure no one tried to get their hands on too much power.

That way, the people could once more develop to the point of ascending to heaven without destroying themselves.

That was known as the Anti-Decline Pro-Tuning Movement and, due to the environmental issues, another Far East in an alternate space had been created. Everyone but the Far Easterners had moved to that Harmonic World and fulfilled the Testament’s instructions there.

And before history was enclosed within the Testament, the different copies had been distributed to those that were determined to be the ancestors of what would become great nations in the future. That way, the inherited name holders could fulfill their duty to protect the world and to help it redevelop.

Futayo had once asked her father why they even bothered going through with the inherited names and history recreation. She had asked why they didn’t focus on technological development so they could ascend to heaven as soon as possible.

This had been her father’s answer:

“Hey, Kazuno, why is that?”

My father truly was honest about the things he did not know.

After Kazuno had given her father a look of pure scorn, she had sat politely down and said the following:

“Any kind of competition brings conflict. And some people were in better positions than others. After all, the Far East was the only safe land. Everywhere else had been so recovered so much that no one could live there anymore.”

“Couldn’t they have all worked together?”

“That’s a good question, Futayo. I was thinking the same thing, Kazuno. …Wait, why are you only glaring at me!?”

“Futayo-sama.” Kazuno had gestured toward Futayo’s father. “Even this house has a head of the household. Technically.”

“Judge. That would be my father.”

“Judge. Now, Futayo-sama. If everyone were to work together in a single group with the fate of the world at stake, how would they select the ‘head of the household’? And even if they found a way, would everyone really be satisfied with that selection? Would everyone feel confident that selection would allow them to ascend into heaven? And…”

And…

“The technological development would surely take many generations of work. But if they had to select a ‘head of the household’ for their group, could they really continue to select a satisfactory individual for generations?”

“They wouldn’t know until they tried…”

At that point, it had hit her.

If they had tried that, it would have caused conflict and they would have wiped each other out. When she had trailed off, Kazuno had given her a rare smile.

“Do you understand now? Out of a sense of responsibility for the future generations, the people back then cast aside their ambitions to name themselves the leader and instead left their fate in the hands of something else. They decided to reference the history of the past age, when the people truly did ascend into heaven.”

That was the basis on which her father and the others had been moving the world.

Her father’s friends in Mikawa, the automatons with inherited names, and everyone else had done so. But…

Why?

The destruction of Mikawa that had taken her father away had not been a part of the history recreation. What had they been thinking? And…

“—————”

Futayo thought about her father who had opposed the history recreation and about those who had obeyed it.

They’re gone.

Anne and Luynes of Hexagone Française, Matsunaga of P.A. Oda, Yoshitsune of Qing-Takeda, and Yoshiyori of Satomi had either obeyed or disobeyed the history recreation, but their decisions had all led them to disappear as her father had.

What does it mean?

Inherited name holders were supposed to have a responsibility to obey the Testament and move both history and the world, but…

“What does it mean?”

Futayo asked a question under her breath as she watched the back of the former inherited name holder moving up ahead.

“When one inherits a name and follows the world and its history,” she asked. “Is their death assumed?”


Futayo accelerated.

She swung her body upwards to run straight up the wall.

She could see Muneshige’s back up ahead.

She could catch up. She only needed to move a little further. But she felt heavy. The object in her right hand felt heavy.

It was not Tonbokiri. It was a spare provided by Kantou IZUMO. It artificially reproduced the weapon’s functions and its artificial intelligence was only based on the original.

However, its weight and the distribution thereof were identical to the real one.

Even though it is a fake.

It was a fake, yet the weight alone was real.

It’s almost like…

What was it like? The thought reached her for just a moment.

“——————”

And in that moment, her feet failed to grasp the wall.

“…”

Balanced on her heels, her body bent back on the wall.

She could not recover.

She was going to fall with her back pointed down.

“Kh…”

In that instant, Muneshige looked back.

He reached out his hand and she tried to grab it.

No.

She did not know what she was rejecting, but that thought definitely reached her.

And a moment later, she fell.

She had failed.


Gin saw it happen from Tama’s port deck after crossing the thick rope passageway.

Futayo fell and her back slammed into the scaffolding below.

The people on the scaffolding turned around and the tugboat stopped moving, but Muneshige stopped on the wall and raised a hand toward them all.

He was telling them this was just a part of their training. That was true and preserving the reputation of their Vice Chancellor was important for Musashi at the moment. But…

“She has seemed somehow exhausted ever since Mikatagahara.”

Gin frowned.

“If this continues, she has no future.”


Futayo lay face-up on the scaffolding of hardened bamboo and wooden boards.

She was out of breath and her pulse was racing. Both were caused by this unexpected mistake and by the fear of falling backwards without being able to see where she was headed.

I can’t believe this, she thought in the back of her mind.

Something seemed to be catching at her heart and it would occasionally take over her entire body. At the most crucial moments or when she was making a decision, something seemed to cut across in front of her, obscuring her vision.

What was it?

She did not know.

As she lay face-up, she could see Musashino’s starboard hull and the Ariake’s ceiling supported by trusses. The boards behind her back swayed with her breathing and the pain gradually reached her as heat.

She belatedly realized her hand was touching something.

It was Tonbokiri’s spare. It contained the extension capability and had an artificial cutting power that used a spell, but she had yet to use the latter. Its OS was made to be compatible with the real one, and…

I cannot use this Tonbokiri until it recognizes me as its master.

It was a troublesome authorization function, but restraints like that were necessary for a weapon that could hurt someone. Also, she was currently living in the Ariake rather than facing an enemy.

She intended to eventually have the Tonbo Spare recognize her as its master and then wait for the real one to return. At that point, she had planned to have the spare’s memories transferred to the real one so it would know she had never parted with it.

But will that actually work out?

For some reason, she was not so sure since Mikatagahara.

“Am I…?”

Had she become a coward?