Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 35
Chapter 35: Messenger from the South
Such a troublesome direction
The circle narrows in on something
Point Allocation (The Cast Has Gathered)
“Wh-what is going on!?” asked Asama of the sign frame sent to her and the explosions of sound and light overhead. “We just sent our ambassadors to the three nations and everything was looking fine, so what’s with this stuff whooshing by and going boom and then all the danger coming in from Edo!?”
“Ahh, I more or less understood that, so is it too late for me?”
On the land port terrace, Masazumi somehow managed to keep herself from hanging her head and instead looked up into the sky.
Bright lights were scattering there as evidence that ether cannons were striking the Ariake.
After a short delay, the sounds of impact arrived like distant thunder.
She could feel the overlapping rumblings in her gut and she heard the columns and walls of the control building creaking a little below her.
Alarm bells began to ring in the town of Mito. Sign frames opened around the town to guide people to evacuation sites. Five larger sign frames opened in the town’s sky.
“Hello. I’m Mishina Shouichi, manager for Kantou IZUMO. Sorry about all the troub-…”
Voices erupted from the town.
“Don’t display a guy in Mito’s sky!”
“Don’t waste that high resolution divine monitor on a close up of a guy!”
“Any married men can get lost!”
Asama looked to the town visible past the forest and below the hill.
“Yes, yes,” she nodded. “Mito might be one of the Far East’s provisionally ruled lands, but they’re a lot like us, aren’t they?”
“They also responded well to Mitotsudaira’s transport ship surfing earlier, so I’m glad they can handle a panic.”
The sign frame’s image switched over to an automaton. She had long light brown hair, a narrow face, and closed eyes.
“Good day, everyone. I am Ariake Captain ‘Ariake’. Over.”
A cheer rose from the town.
“Eight shots are about to hit. Over.”
Explosions of light filled the sky and fear filled the people’s voices, but “Ariake” and the interior of the Ariake behind her remained motionless.
“My ship is nine kilometers long, four kilometers wide, and two kilometers tall, so ultra-long range cannon fire from Kraken-class escort ships is simply not enough to harm-… What is it, Mishina-sama? Oh, the Date clan has sent out a god of war unit. Yes, I have detected them, so it would indeed seem they have. I have determined this puts even the Ariake in danger. In other words, there is a possibility of damage. …Everyone, please follow the original plan and head to the evacuation sites. Over.”
The people raised a cry of agreement while evacuating from the town of Mito. They were moving southwest, toward the sea.
“That’s Kantou IZUMO for you…”
Masazumi wondered why Asama sounded so serious yet did not look back her way, but to understand the current situation, she described the situation before her eyes.
“Sviet Rus, Mogami, and Date are being monitored by Hashiba, so they’ve turned on Musashi.”
“Shift the engine division to standby!! Men, give each other a kick in the rear and get to your posts!”
The engine division’s chief shouted over the running pressurizers and everyone replied with “judge”.
As Unneeded #4 of the Sanada Ten Braves, Isa had infiltrated the area and she nodded with her disguised face.
While some took off running and some instructed others to follow them, she too began to run. She took up the rear position of a group of those following someone, but when they came across a different group that seemed to be heading below ground…
“Oh, I’ll go this way.”
She switched groups and started below ground.
She wanted to get below the engine division.
…Where they have the gravitational acceleration equipment.
Gravitational acceleration was the cornerstone of the Musashi’s high-speed mobility. If she could set up some sabotage there and trigger it at some important moment, the giant ship would be nothing more than a heavy hunk of metal.
However, something interested her beyond simply setting up the sabotage. The Musashi was entering standby mode, so…
…The engine division has decided the Musashi is capable of leaving port!
The Musashi could take flight at any time.
Of course, it was not in a perfect state just yet. The residential areas were not complete and a lot of the armor had yet to be added on. However, this situation told her something.
“The Musashi’s expanded combat abilities are ready enough that they think they can finish them up after leaving port.”
What kind of weapons did they add on? wondered Isa.
Since the night before, she had seen the ships’ surfaces, including the covered areas. The combat improvements were primarily expanded armor and added cannons.
But that would not be enough to take on Hashiba’s Azuchi Castle. The Musashi’s added cannons were single cannons added to the edges of the surface areas and the dual main cannons on the first starboard, port, and central ships while the Azuchi Castle had triple main cannons and more than double the cannons overall.
Isa was interested in the line of gravitational accelerator pressurizers stretching front to back along the bottom of Musashino’s bridge and she was interested in the ram-like object on Musashino’s bow.
The former was likely to increase overall speed by adding accelerators to the bridge that became dead weight during gravitational acceleration. And the latter…
…They sliced the Regno Unito in two at Mikawa, so are they planning something similar?
Like with a galley, they may have been planning to skewer the enemy with a ram and then begin hand-to-hand combat or close-range cannon fire.
…But P.A. Oda’s ships are generally galley types, so the Azuchi has the upper hand there too.
And, thought Isa. They didn’t have enough time.
In Isa’s opinion, they needed heavy armor and a large main cannon to compete with the Azuchi Castle and Hashiba’s fleet. Equipping something like that would require more than just changing the ship’s exterior. The interior would need to be reinforced and quite a few design changes would have to be made.
But Musashi had not even spent a full month at the Ariake.
She doubted they could make such fundamental changes in that time. Of course, it was possible that was only a failing in her own imagination.
…But the materials moving around inside the Ariake and the exterior I’ve seen doesn’t point toward such major reinforcement work having been done.
What work had been done as the foundation of their ability to fight?
“Hey, is the Musashi still not going to fight, even with all this going on?”
She spoke to the worker in front of her as she followed the group below ground.
The young man looked like someone who had recently graduated and he must have seen Isa as his junior. He and the adults running with him all looked back her way.
“I don’t really know. I don’t know what’s going on up above.”
“Yeah, we all have our posts,” said one of the adults. “The exterior group was the one that attached the cannons and we’re the power system group. I haven’t seen you around, so are you with the boss?”
“No, I came from below to do some odd jobs. …I thought I might be more help here than with the other group.”
She then added an “oh” of realization and feigned being a newcomer to all this.
“I can do wiring and stuff. I was doing that up above.”
The men laughed while running past a sign frame sounding an alarm.
“Then maybe we can have you crawl into some tight areas. The gravitational acceleration sector has gotten pretty cramped.”
She wanted to ask what they meant by that, but she resisted. She only wanted to ask because she could guess what things were like inside, but there was something else she had to say now.
“Slipping into tight spaces is my specialty. But is it really that cramped? Is something stuffed in there?”
“It moves now. No, really it’s that the movable range has been expanded.” The previous young man grabbed at a square space of empty air with his right hand. “The gravitational acceleration sector is lined with accelerators like this and they all turn in the direction of pressurization while accelerating, you see. Before, they were only made for moving straight ahead or turning left and right, but we’ve removed that restriction.”
While wondering what that meant, Isa tilted her head and asked a question.
“So it’s easier to change direction now?”
“It’s probably easier to control while drifting too. The piloting group – that is, the bridge automatons and my underclassmen – thought it up.”
“Quit trying to act like their superior,” cut in the adults with bitter smiles.
Isa saw the young man give a similar smile.
…Oh, whoops, whoops.
This place isn’t all that bad, she thought.
“Ah ha ha.”
She was allowed to laugh during conversations like this.
She let the laugh come naturally and the adults called out to her.
“If you’re free, then learn the ropes here and then head to the back.”
“Are you already done here?”
“Mostly. Takao and Oume are taking a bit more time for the inner hull.”
“There are gravitational accelerators in the inner hull of Takao and Oume?”
I didn’t know that, she thought.
Musashi’s gravitational acceleration was generally done from the outer hulls. The inner hulls were only used as auxiliary accelerators to avoid needing any buffering between ships. But according to the young man…
“Judge. I think they’re for more mobility. Before, pretty much only the accelerators in the outer hull were used during gravitational acceleration, but I think they’re going to have some open up from the inner hull too. I doubt it will be easy since Musashino and Okutama will have to manage the buffering, but it should increase our speed. Also,” he said slowly. “That should increase our odds of survival too.”
What that meant changed depending on how she took that word. That may have been why he forced a smile.
“Well, that’s only if we’re unlucky. The Musashi has some tough defenses, after all.”
“Hey,” cut in the adults while sending nods and the remnants of smiles her way. “Leave it at that. Part of our job is to, well, increase that luck. And it’s time to get to work on that.”
They pointed forward and a long, dull sound came from above.
“That was the third barrage. The gap between was shorter than before.”
“The three nations surrounding us are getting closer and attacking more seriously.”
While the Musashi sat motionless inside the Ariake, Musashino’s bridge cut off all footage from outside to become a space surrounded by white walls. During the recent remodeling, the bridge had become an information processing control room, but…
“Enter standby mode! After confirming internal connections, release all divine transmission pathways and synchronize all ships under the defenses of the Asama Shrine’s divine protections. Over.”
“Musashi’s” voice reached them via voice divine transmission and the light of sign frames glowed from the four walls and the floor.
Text began to scroll by and several images began to play.
A portion of one white wall slid slowly inwards to reveal the torii-style program chip within. An automaton entered from the corridor with the program chip for leaving port loaded on a cart.
“Make the switch. Over!”
On “Musashino’s” signal and command, an automaton on the bridge used her gravitational control to pull the old program chip out. The automaton with the cart stuck the cart and its chip into the opened hole. After pushing it inside, she exchanged a glance with the bridge automaton.
She tilted the cart before pulling it out. The previous chip was placed on the now-empty cart with gravitational control and the automaton pushed the cart back out into the corridor.
Meanwhile, the wall closed with the new chip inside and many more sign frames appeared on the bridge.
“We have the engine division’s authorization! Shifting to standby mode! Over.”
A model of the Musashi appeared in the center of the bridge. It was an enlarged version of the model Suzu had made. It was made of white light and blue light gradually covered the bottom.
“Hull-style Special #06 Susashizunami Mk. III. Output is slightly lowered but within acceptable ranges in the third ships. Activation possible in five minutes twenty-seven seconds. Over.”
The automaton handling divine transmissions by the wall suddenly turned back toward the others.
“While checking Naito-sama and Naruze-sama’s information, a divine transmission arrived from Kashima Shrine on the surface. Connecting to the main screen! Over.”
With those words, a torii-style sign frame appeared on the front end of the ceiling.
It displayed a fleet flying calmly above the southern plain.
“That is a Hashiba fleet. There are seventy-two belonging to Hashiba, sixteen belonging to Houjou, and twenty-four belonging to P.A. Oda. The warships have moved out to the front, so I will zoom in while providing commentary. Over.”
The ship in the very lead was a Kraken-class diplomatic ship that could also be seen as a decorated warship.
The top was a white boxy structure supported by four pillars. The bottom was a white P.A. Oda galley-style ship.
When the automatons saw the cloud decorations with gilded edges, they matched the image to their memories.
As they all worked to retrieve data on the ship, one on the starboard side raised her right hand.
“According to my data, that is the Jurakudai, a Hashiba diplomatic battleship. According to the history recreation, it belongs to Hashiba Hidetsugu, Hashiba Hideyoshi’s nephew. Over.”
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