Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 80
Chapter 80: Pursuer of the Age
Shall we go?
Point Allocation (Takeoff Once More)
Cascades of light spread through the air.
There were eight in all and the light explosively erupted from the bottom of a white surface in the night sky.
The light originally formed a long straight-line jet from east to west, but it eventually spread out into a plane.
“This is ‘Ariake’ with a report. …I will assist the Musashi’s downward departure. After fully isolating your privileges, please board the Ariake’s ejection spell. Over.”
“This is ‘Musashi’ with a report. Upon our downward departure, the Musashi shall isolate all privileges. Then we shall board the Ariake’s ejection spell. Over.”
Two voices overlapped as an especially large cascade explosion appeared.
Light bloomed, sound shook, and it descended from the bottom of the Ariake.
With metallic sounds and the sounds of the atmosphere being pressurized, water sprayed out as it was pushed out of the way and the long black bottoms of eight ships appeared in the sky.
“Musashi here. We will now officially be named the Musashi Mk. 2 and will continue to be referred to as the Musashi. Over.”
A buffer spell transformed the splitting of the pressurized air into the sound of a wave. And as the glowing Orei Nero trailed down into the sky, the black and white ships came into view.
“Musashi here. We will now leave the Ariake. Over.”
The giant ship passed below the bottom of the Ariake.
At the same time, air rushed into the Ariake to make up for the massive volume of the Musashi.
“Ariake here. We have confirmed the Musashi’s departure. Beginning recoil buffering. Over.”
Metallic noises and spell sign frames coincided with the Ariake’s ceiling lowering. The composite truss frames folded down to push at the internal air and prevent the external air from rushing in.
As a result, the inner and outer air collided at the bottom entrance which acted as the largest vent, and a massive water vapor explosion formed a horizontal ring between the Ariake and the Musashi. The Orei Nero was caught in it, so a halo of ether light covered a vast area in the night sky.
Further motion was underway below that glowing ring.
While descending with the rear slightly lower than the rest, the Musashi opened the parts needed for gravitational cruising and reached the altitude needed to end its descent.
“Ariake here. Opening Musashi spell catapult Great Path of Wisdom Ver. 42.”
1200 torii-style acceleration spells large enough for the Musashi to pass through opened along a guiding path to the west.
“Destination: Novgorod, Sviet Rus. Adjusting for curvature of the earth. Adjusting for residual inertia from the Ariake to the Musashi. Observable Far Eastern weather until destination: good. Estimated final margin of error: less than 200m. Please make your own adjustments for this failure. Over.”
“Musashi here. That self-adjustment is plenty. Thank you for your excellent guidance. Over.”
“Continuing to descend. …Beginning gravitational cruising in 37 seconds. Over.”
A falling figure spoke about the mutual understanding of the giant structures far overhead.
It was Nezu. He lowered the effects of his fall buffer spell into the danger zone and let his body sweep northward, where Yuri had been thrown.
“Why isn’t Isa jumping down!? The Musashi has left port, so shouldn’t she jump off the side already!? Why is she still fighting!?”
“It’s simple. Just like with Yuri-kun, a ninja is not done until their job is complete.”
Anayama was unseen, but he could be heard.
“Her role was destroying the Musashi. There is a reason for her to stay there beyond simply seeing her sabotage take effect.”
“A reason!? What possible reason could there be!?”
“Surely you understand. To prove we are not Unneeded and to carve our names into history.”
Just as he said that, a noise came from various parts of the Musashi. The towing belts that held the ships together had been fired from ejection devices and then linked together. And…
“Musashi here. All ships beginning synchronization. Over.”
As the giant structure pushed down on everything in its descent, it filled with light.
And that was not all. Nezu heard one odd sound.
Something had been launched from an Engine Division ejection device on the rear of Musashino.
Based on the volume of the sound, something very heavy had been launched. And based on the timing…
“The 6th Special Duty Officer’s Four Sacred Beasts God of War!?”
In the wind of the descending Musashi, Isa collided with a power dropping from the sky.
She was in the elementary school schoolyard at the rear of Musashino. She was in the center of the heat after using Mikoshi Nyuudou’s cannon to set fire to the broken dolls made of wood and other building materials.
She faced a female god of war wearing vermilion armored clothing. And its name was…
“So you’re here, Jizuri Suzaku!”
Isa stored the left metal arm (the pair to the one she had launched with Yuri) in the air. To replace it, she summoned another arm, but this one had a spike on the end.
“My rock drilling arm!”
The tip could be ejected as it spun, adding three meters to the arm’s reach. But as the 6th Special Duty Officer on the heavy god of war’s shoulder stepped back…
“Go, Jizuri Suzaku. This is my old school. …But I’m not a kid anymore.”
The god of war instantaneously rushed past the steel spike on the inside.
…That was fast!!
No, this isn’t speed, thought Isa. The girl had drawn her in, ducked below the spike attack with the smallest possible movement, and then moved forward. Ducking down had briefly put her behind the spike and thus made the next movement look so sudden.
It was a lot like a ninja technique, but Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer was not a ninja. She used grappling techniques, martial arts, and…
“I’ve always helped that idiot with her choreography and worked part-time at Asama’s place, so I’ve picked up a fair bit.”
She sounded bored, but she was already right in front of Isa. Isa had no god of war. She was only a person. So targeting her would require the Suzaku to crouch down, but…
…It didn’t lose its balance!?
A deafening sound followed.
Naomasa sensed how troublesome this opponent was.
Her own attack had been made with the best timing for a first strike, but…
“…Because she’s so low to the ground!?”
Isa had summoned yet another metal arm. Instead of a spiked arm, this one fired a mallet-like hammer. Both types were likely meant for clearing and cultivating land.
…Weapons with their roots in normal life, huh?
Isa had crossed the log-like arms in front of her to block Jizuri Suzaku’s attack, but it was not the weapons that made Naomasa think she was troublesome.
“Hey, you…” said Naomasa. “You were planning to go right on in to Musashino’s engine division, weren’t you? If you used those metal arms to break through the long block elevator in front of the elementary school, you’d have a straight shot there.”
It was obvious what Isa wanted to do there, so Naomasa asked a different question.
“Why are you willing to go that far in your fight?”
Isa was illuminated by the flickering flames around her. Just like the metal arms, her own arms were crossed in front of her face, so Naomasa could not see her expression. But she did hear her voice.
“You wouldn’t understand. And I don’t want you to understand.”
With those words, something fell onto the schoolyard.
It was dark. It was absorbed by the schoolyard sand and spread out slightly. It was spilling from her body.
“My name is heavier than the blood I shed.”
“I see. But just so you know…”
“Oh, I know. My sabotage was found, wasn’t it?”
“Judge,” confirmed Naomasa. “I suppose this is going to end badly for you.”
“Are you going to capture me and have me tell you how to remove it?”
Naomasa did not answer that. Instead…
“That would be one option.”
Metallic sounds scattered and sparks rang out.
Momentum cried out and a voice controlled the motion.
The elementary school schoolyard was essentially a plaza and Isa fought Jizuri Suzaku there.
She immediately turned attack into defense and broke her own defense to make an attack. She had summoned six arms. She tried to grab the Suzaku with the normal ones, pierce it with the spiked ones, and strike it with the hammer ones.
But she could not catch the Suzaku. It deflected the arms, dodged the spikes, and guarded against the hammers.
However, it was the same for her opponent.
They had less than 30 seconds until the Musashi had to shift into gravitational cruising.
If she lasted that long and there was no explosion in the engine division, she would have to either break into the engine division or destroy the Musashi in some other way.
The Musashi was currently descending and boarding the spell catapult created by the Ariake.
The catapult would send the Musashi forward and accelerate it. Once it was launched by the catapult and the acceleration became inertia, the Musashi would open up its gravitational accelerators for further speed.
Isa’s sabotage would activate when the ether fuel was sent to the gravitational accelerators. She had chosen the accelerators carefully and sabotaged the linking ones, so if they forcibly stopped the sabotaged accelerators for fear of an explosion, it would render most of the other accelerators unusable as well. And if that happened…
…Musashino will lose its acceleration and the Musashi will collide with the atmosphere on the catapult.
That would damage the Musashi and their test voyage would be a failure. Even if they removed her sabotage afterwards, it would take time to recover from the damage to their reputation.
The Musashi had two options: explode or lose their acceleration.
Isa only had to last another 30 seconds to see that through.
After those 30 seconds, she could watch the result with pride. Whether they exploded or lost their acceleration, she could say for sure that she had done that.
She had to advertise to the world that the Sanada Ten Braves had left their mark on the Musashi.
…We need to show them that we have the power to do that!
She was hit and she could tell strength was spilling from her body.
She was being defeated.
It was Musashi’s 3rd and 4th Special Duty Officers. The Weiss Hexen’s final guided shot had not lost its homing ability even after she deflected it once. She would normally have easily dodged it and counterattacked, but then the Schwarz Hexen fired a shot.
She let Mikoshi Nyuudou’s one-eyed ether cannon handle counterattacking and she dodged, but it was too late.
The first shot pierced her side. If she could heal herself, it would only have been a minor injury, but right now she was running and fighting.
She was weakening. While exchanging attacks, she pulled a pain relief charm from her seven emergency tools and slapped it onto her sleeveless arm. The spell used a heightened subcutaneous effect, so after her heart pounded hard in her chest just once…
The pain vanished. But to make sure the pain reduction did not dull her senses, it also strengthened her senses. It was based on her vision and hearing and it worked by increasing the reaction speed of her nervous system.
The flickering of the surrounding flames grew a fair bit slower and the contrast between light and dark grew more distinct.
This isn’t like me at all, thought Isa. But…
“I’ll be the first one…”
If they were to ask this age of warring states about themselves as the Sanada Ten Braves…
If they were to ask the world about themselves as new identities rather than the Unneeded…
“I’ll be the first one at our destination…!”
After producing its effects, the charm scattered into light and vanished. At the same time, Isa gathered her strength once more.
How much of the 30 seconds had passed?
The sign frame controlling the metal arms said 18 seconds had passed.
Time was moving so slowly. What was she supposed to do for the remaining 12 seconds?
In 12 seconds, the Musashi would begin its acceleration. It would not look right for her to be blocking an attack when that happened. If anything, she wanted to be winning. So…
…It’s so slow.
She took action as if to count down the exciting seconds.
Naomasa sharply narrowed her eyes.
…She’s coming for me!
Her enemy had pressurized herself. She had used a charm for a quick and decisive battle.
Naomasa did not question the fact that the enemy was borrowing power from something else. Naomasa herself was borrowing Jizuri Suzaku’s power and ninja like Isa were known for using any means necessary to accomplish their mission.
12 seconds remained.
On the 1st second, they exchanged blows and Isa moved forward.
On the 2nd second, Isa swung her body and sent all three right-side metal arms forward.
On the 3rd second, Naomasa made a trio of attacks on the right. Suzaku’s left shoulder deflected the metal hand, its left elbow deflected the spike, and its left wrist deflected the hammer outwards.
On the 4th second, Isa swung her entire body to the right and launched her three left-side metal arms straight toward Naomasa.
On the 5th second, Naomasa dealt with those. A hook from Suzaku’s right wrist deflected the metal hand and an inward spin from its right elbow deflected the spike.
On the 6th second, Suzaku turned its right side forward to dodge the hammer, leaving Isa with no way to attack.
On the 7th second, Suzaku’s right arm threw a smash uppercut toward Isa.
On the 8th second, Isa held up charms in each hand. There were more than ten in all and she slapped them all onto herself.
On the 9th second, Isa received the blow with her flesh-and-blood body. Wounds opened across her body and a mist of blood sprayed out.
On the 10th second, Isa smiled and swung her right arm.
She summoned a metal arm. It was the opposite of the one that had thrown her companion. This was her final arm. It mimicked the swinging of her right arm and tried to grab Suzaku’s arm. And…
…Here it is!
On the 11th second, light filled Mikoshi Nyuudou’s ether cannon. It was going to fire just as it grabbed Suzaku’s arm.
On the 12 second, it was all over.
During the final second, Isa realized she had suddenly stopped moving.
She did not understand. But the movement of her right arm was linked with that of the metal arm trying to grab Suzaku’s arm and her own arm seemed to have caught on something, preventing it from moving. So…
Isa forcibly completed the swing of her right arm.
She saw something flying to her right. It was a forearm that seemed to belong to an automaton.
She did not understand why something like that would be holding her arm in place.
But Jizuri Suzaku was already moving to dodge her metal arm.
She could not let it escape. The ether cannon was already targeting the 6th Special Duty Officer. So…
Just as she fired, a gust of wind leaped between her and her enemy. The wind took a form familiar to Isa.
It was a work tool. It was a hammer. And the boy who held it raised his voice while producing a water vapor explosion around the hammer.
Without her right forearm, Kanou watched Yagyuu counterattack the ether cannon with his hammer.
Yagyuu was short, but he had physical strength to spare. As their bodyguard, he hid in the shadows, but he made sure to train his body. And most importantly…
…He is loyal!
Yagyuu of the Public Morals Committee had been the first to notice something was amiss after the Musashi’s remodeling began. It was only an intuitive sense that the flow of people was somehow off, but he had trusted that their job was meaningful and he had reported it to Kanou, his superior.
They had considered working with the Chancellor’s Officers, but working too closely with them would have seemed odd to the people once they began the special student general assembly. So Kanou had asked Yagyuu to investigate the issue and to protect the current Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers.
When the 1st Special Duty Officer had arrived after completing the investigation at the site of the attack on the Secretary, he had to have noticed Yagyuu’s presence. What had he thought of Yagyuu when the boy continued to hide?
Yagyuu had needed to protect those officers without being mistaken for an attacker.
He had trusted in and followed Kanou and Ookubo despite their secrecy, but how stressful had he found his inability to tell those third years anything?
That was why Kanou had suggested that boy go with the 6th Special Duty Officer when she had left to intercept Isa.
And as a result…
“First Year Yagyuu Munenori! Here I go!”
This was the truth he had been unable to reveal.
This was the thought he had been unable to voice.
This was the strength he had been unable to release.
He let it all out and raised his voice. Strength filled his eyebrows and he bent his eyes.
His blow overpowered the cannon of light. He let the piercing impact spin him around, and…
He brought down the metal body and head of Mikoshi Nyuudou that supported everything behind Isa.
Isa had no idea what had happened as Mikoshi Nyuudou was knocked through the air, and…
“Hit her, Jizuri Suzaku!”
Kanou saw Suzaku’s left hand held in front of Naomasa.
That pose was clearly protecting Naomasa from the ether cannon blast, but something was off about Suzaku’s movements. Kanou thought she knew what that was.
…Jizuri Suzaku protected the 6th Special Duty Officer on its own!?
There was no answer. Suzaku simply held its left arm out compactly and struck Isa head on.
Isa heard the sound of water being struck.
What is that sound? she wondered.
Then she realized it was coming from her own body.
She felt no pain thanks to the charms. She simply felt all of her wounds opening up from the powerful blow. And this new impact had caused blood to spill from her body.
…Oh, so that’s it.
Blood had sprayed from her entire body like a wet rag thrown against a wall. But…
“The 12 seconds have long since passed, haven’t they…?”
Once she thought that, her surroundings filled with light. Waves of light ran through the sky and along either side of the ship.
…The spell catapult is activating!
“Ha ha ha…!”
Isa laughed while pushing her arms against Suzaku’s fist to peel her body from it.
“How’d it turn out!?”
As soon as she asked that, she looked up at the light overhead. There were Far Eastern sign frames there.
As accelerating pressure and inertial power filled the Musashi, a single person was displayed in the many sign frames that opened above the ship.
It was Ookubo.
She gently bowed and then spoke.
“The Musashi will now shift into gravitational cruising. But first, I, Representative Committee Head Ookubo, will lead the final inspection with approval from the current Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers.”
“At England, we had to repair the accelerators damaged during gravitational acceleration cruising. That incident left the Musashi unable to pull off any long-term cruising. So with the new Musashi, we must prove that we can wipe clean that humiliation. …Thus, we will now use Musashino’s port accelerators to train ourselves in effective damage to unneeded accelerators and in repairing them inflight. This has the approval of every ship’s captain and we have taken the power adjustments into consideration, so it will not affect the coming gravitational cruising in the slightest. …Engine Division Chief.”
“Sure,” said the Engine Division Chief as he and his granddaughter were displayed on the sign frame. “Take it away, Hiro.”
“Judge.” Mishina Hiro’s cheeks were somewhat red due to nerves. “This was the task we were given. To be honest, some of it is kind of a cheat, but someone gave us this task.”
“How much damage can we and the Musashi itself take…and keep flying? Can we keep going like normal even after taking all kinds of damage and destruction? So this is to the person who gave us this task, our taskmaster who is no longer a resident of Musashi. Are you listening?”
Hiro raised her eyebrows.
“Here is our answer.”
Ookubo saw it.
She saw the engine division’s greatest resistance.
“It’s time to get stubborn! The engine division’s job is to keep things moving! If they’re trying to stop us, then we need to keep things moving all the more! Do you know what that means!?”
“Judge!” A team leader raised his hand from the team in charge of one of the accelerators. “We’ve strengthened the sabotage devices! With the 12 of them linked together, it should have an effect similar to a direct hit from a 33cm low-speed cannon fired from 3km!”
“You didn’t half-ass this, did you!?”
“I used to mess with blasting explosives in an M.H.R.R. coal mine! I’m not gonna hold back when it comes to strengthening explosion spells!”
Eh? thought Ookubo.
“W-wait, Engine Division Chief. You’ve made the sabotage even worse? Um!”
“Well done!! Now help out, everyone!!”
He was not listening. He clapped his hands and Ookubo found herself joining in with the others. Then the Engine Division Chief smiled with just the right side of his mouth and spoke.
“Listen up! This is the perfect opportunity! A gutsy technician from Sanada tried to destroy our Musashi. You know what that means, right? …Naturally, we want in on something that sounds like so much fun! Designs, management, and everything else are all made so we have plans telling us what to do if they break.”
“We can destroy the Musashi better than anyone. I mean, we’ve all stood on the side or back terrace and speculated what we’d do if this part or that part went boom, right? So let’s sabotage all those parts.”
Do you understand?
“Let’s do this thing.”
“The first bit of damage will be a recreation of the hit we took at England. Let’s do it. That’s the engine division’s greatest shame, so showing we’ve overcome it will prove this is the Musashi Mk. 2.” The Engine Division Chief showed off his teeth. “So I wanna see the Musashi blowing up! The Musashi Engine Division is willing to take that on! Let’s do this, everyone!!”
Ookubo heard them all respond with “judge!” Defense spell shields surrounded the sabotaged accelerators and the workers in charge of them covered their ears with soundproofing spells. They confirmed the explosion-resistant buffer spells and engine division power conduits were working, and then…
“The ether fuel supply is reaching the accelerators!”
“Judge! The Public Morals Committee Head girl was considerate enough to head on up. If we’re gonna break the rules, now’s the time!”
I’m the Representative Committee Head, so does it not matter that I’m here? wondered Ookubo.
Meanwhile, she heard the rumbling from the floor of the accelerators activating.
…Here it comes.
She tensed without even meaning to.
“The sabotaged accelerators will explode in 7 seconds! 6, 5, 4, 3, 2…!”
The explosion arrived at 0 on the dot.
As the Musashi began to accelerate along the catapult, the central ship of Musashino hopped up in a powerful vibration. A moment later, ether light sprayed out from the gap between the port gravitational acceleration wing and the ship proper.
The accelerators inside had exploded.
There were precisely 12 explosions.
The accelerators were surrounded by defense spells that acted as explosion-resistant shields. The explosion from the control device passed through the internal ether transmission pipe and permeated the engine. The entire machine became a powder keg and instantly burst into flames.
The explosion process worked perfectly. The ultra-high speed spread of the fire created a shockwave that pressurized inside the tiny passageway of the ether transmission pipe. The accumulated shockwave released its power on all of the various power release sections.
The accelerators split apart, starting from the acceleration power supply. They melted from the heat and they tore apart while spreading the shockwave outside. The heated metal fragments and the flames crashed against the inner surface of the defense spell shields. Before the sound, the shields glowed white and bent from the great burden.
“Here it comes!”
The next shockwave broke the shields.
The third and final shockwave from the 12 blasts directly hit the inside of the engine division.
The impact reverberated through that closed space. The temporary bridges giving passage above the power devices were knocked down and a few people cried out and jumped down. Then the flames raced and flickered across the floor.
Alarms and fire sprinklers were activated on the ceiling, but inside the unending wind, a few accelerators were hit by the blast spreading through the ether transmission pipes, causing new explosions.
The wind became power and the flames grew stronger, but…
“Okaaaay!!” someone shouted.
As the sprinklers poured down, they got up from crawling on the wet floor, pulled down the upwards defense spell bandanna they wore instead of a helmet, and spoke.
“This is what it’s like!! Remember this, everyone!!”
On Musashino’s bridge, “Musashino” gave a small nod after checking on the management of the accelerating Musashi.
17 of the accelerators on Musashino’s rear port gravitational acceleration wing had been damaged. Of those, 14 were completely destroyed. The other 3 were less severely damaged. But…
“ ‘Musashino’-sama! Our port power output has dropped by 7%! And it is holding steady there for now! If that exceeds 9%, it will affect our acceleration. It is slowly dropping at the moment, but if the engine division can make some repairs…” The automaton in charge of engine division operations looked to everyone. “Depending on the progress of their repairs, we can continue our acceleration as is. What should we do, ‘Musashino’-sama? Over.”
“Musashino” gave another small nod. And…
“Reporting to all ships.”
On Musashi Ariadust Academy’s bridge, Masazumi heard “Musashino” speak.
“After being launched by the current catapult, we will fly directly to Novgorod with gravitational cruising. Everyone, please enjoy our first flight in a while. Over.”
After that, Masazumi saw the Musashino move.
It lowered back down after being kicked upwards by the blast.
…Can we do this?
“We can keep going even after Sanada’s sabotage, can’t we!?”
The Musashi answered her by pushing her forward.
They were moving under their own acceleration rather than the catapult’s.
And then she saw a small form hop out of the bridge’s ditch. It was a black algae creature.
“What is it?”
“Are politics fun?”
Masazumi quietly but immediately answered. The black algae creature looked Tsukinowa in the eye, nodded, and then said more.
“I think that makes me happy.”
“What do you mean you ‘think’?”
When she smiled bitterly, the black algae creature said something else.
“Then,” it began. “That makes me happy.”
Masazumi paused for a moment and then nodded.
With that, the Musashi pushed even more on her back.
They were accelerating toward where they needed to go.
Yagyuu Munenori saw something come to an end.
He stood at the edge of the starboard schoolyard. He could see the entire elementary school schoolyard from there.
That schoolyard had been lit by flames earlier, but that fire was dying down and darkness was slowly falling over it.
The dolls fighting the guard unit on the outer edge were no longer moving. They became no more than parts and materials held together by strings and they collapsed onto the sand.
But there was still movement near the schoolyard entrance.
It came from seven giant metal arms. All of them had returned to the air in order to support a single figure.
The god of war in red armored clothing responded by pulling back the arm it had sent out low to the ground.
That left a single person. And…
“She’s so stupid…”
It was Isa. She was moving, but her shoulders were tensed and her movements were stiff. It felt like something else was moving her. Nevertheless, she was moving. She shrugged.
“Listen. That wasn’t all of it. I still have some explosion spells left.”
Munenori breathed in and started forward.
Defeating this ninja was his job. He was protecting the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers now, but he would eventually support Musashi’s defenses in both public and private. That was the role of the Yagyuu family.
The later opinion of his provisional inherited name was not exactly great. The essence of what he did was accepted, but his role in hidden political conflicts was focused on more than his behavior or skill.
…It’s an ugly job!
He knew that, so he had to be the one to do this. Their enemy was injured. She was likely near death and a single strike would finish her off. Yagyuu was the name for that role, and that meant him. But…
Someone ran out ahead of him. It was Kanou. She held her left arm out to the side to stop him and looked back over her shoulder.
“My life sign readings cannot detect any explosion spells. She is bluffing about self-destructing.”
“What do you-…?”
Just as he said that, Yagyuu heard Isa laugh quietly. The ninja girl hung her head up ahead.
“Oh, so you aren’t going to fall for it? Musashi doesn’t make anything easy, does it?”
“Musashi’s policy is to not lose anyone, right? So…I thought I could pretend to be blowing myself up to stop you by force and then make you lose something.”
Isa lowered her laughing shoulders.
“I used up all of the explosives. The Unneeded really can’t do anything right.”
“Then are you prepared to be arrested?”
Isa shook her head and Yagyuu knew why. She had been shot, she had applied an excessive number of charms to her body, and she had continued to fight. So…
“I’m not going to last… I’m only still moving thanks to the dregs of the charms’ effects.”
Isa doubled over and coughed up quite a lot of blood, but she had a smile when she looked back up.
“Sorry. I don’t want to die on the Musashi. Ninja are the ‘grass’ after all. So…”
“Are you leaving?”
“Testament. …Good luck. Life on the Musashi was fun. I laughed a lot. I’ll be leaving as I see you off…as one of the Sanada Ten Braves.”
As soon as she said that, the seven arms opened a spell circle on the ground.
It was the same ejection spell that the engine division used to launch gods of war.
Musashino’s bridge was directly above her.
“Sanada Ten Braves! #4! Isa! Time to complete my final job as a ninja!”
The wind burst and the enemy flew up into the sky while seemingly embraced by the seven arms.
She flew straight toward Musashino’s bridge.
Naito was already prepared to intercept.
She had taken a standing sniper position on the vertical back wall of Musashino’s bridge and Naruze held her hips from behind to support her. But Naruze spoke when she saw Isa flying up from below.
Mal-Ga: “Chancellor, we will watch over a ninja as she returns to the grass and leaves us.”
Me: “Is she smiling?”
“Yes,” said Naito while lowering her Technohexen hat a little. And…
Gold Mar: “She must be glad she came to Musashi.”
“I see,” he said.
Me: “Then see her off. …Tell her she never has to stop smiling now.”
Naruze pulled a black knife from her hip pocket. It contained the M.H.R.R. national emblem and she held it backwards with the blade pointed toward herself.
Naito pulled out a similar white knife and held it toward herself as well.
They matched their timing and breathing.
“She who shows no resistance in the fight. She who turns her back is the worst of the Technohexen.”
They reverse crossed themselves.
“Nema. I accept that everything was in reverse.”
They placed their hands on the brims of their hats and pulled them down. Then Naito looked at the enemy approaching from below.
She fired. The coin bullet raced out, but something happened below Musashino’s bridge before it could reach the enemy.
The enemy’s life gave out. The powerless metal arms stalled and Isa was swept away by the wind.
Isa found herself in Sanada Academy.
It was a dark night and she was alone.
She found all of her injuries were gone.
And she wondered if something was beginning again.
It had been like this in the past. Long ago. They had fled their old home and ended up at Sanada Academy. The place was supposed to be a hidden village, so Sasuke had probably been irritated when he noticed it. It had felt like a challenge, so they had forced their way in.
When they had opened the entrance to the dimly-lit school building…
“When we went in, our teachers were waiting for us and welcomed us.”
Their soon-to-be teachers had not expected them to break through the defenses of the hidden village. They had been delighted to have successors for the Ten Braves name, so they had served a feast and provided a place to sleep.
There had been light back then, so Isa placed her hand on the door now.
When she opened it, there was light.
In the final moment, the heartbeat that would be her last woke her up.
Isa saw something high in the sky.
It was a giant structure. It was the Musashi. It was leaving, it was great, and it was unshakeable. But…
“I must have done something to it…!!”
It was possible her attack had not had any effect on that ridiculous presence, but…
…With that attack, the Musashi made itself stronger!
That meant what she had done would be included in everything the Musashi went on to do as it made Far Eastern history. She had taken part in the great current of history. She could be confident she had intervened in the movements of the world. After all…
She could see something. She could understand something. She saw the newly constructed accelerators and the parts that looked like a ram. She had not understood them when she saw them inside the Ariake, but she understood perfectly now that she could see it all at once.
She understood that the Musashi had most likely equipped itself with the greatest power in the entire world.
She smiled. This smile came from the heart because nothing could be more enjoyable.
Yes. Everyone. Nezu. Yuri. You don’t have to worry about anything.
“We are on a joyous path!”
Isa walked through the school building’s door.
She stepped into the light. She was welcomed in. She felt like there was someone there.
Was it her god? No, perhaps it was the parents she had no memory of.
She did not know. But for some reason, she felt overjoyed. She smiled and did not even think about looking back.
“I don’t know how it’ll happen, but I’m sure they’ll be here eventually.”
She walked in without closing the door behind her. Isa walked into the light with a smile on her face.
Yuri awoke to someone crying.
She saw the night sky and found herself lying in some grass.
Parts of her body felt stiff. There were charms attached there. Her right hand was especially stiff, reminding her that she had broken it. When she got up, she found someone next to her.
He was on his knees with his head lowered. And beyond him…
…Isa’s metal arm…
Yuri knew what it meant for it to be here while Isa was not.
…And I can’t detect Isa’s life signs…
Someone else rested their elbow on the metal arm while looking up into the sky. It was Anayama. He was watching a giant silhouette flying into the western sky.
“Isa-kun did an excellent job.”
“How!?” asked Nezu with a tremor in his voice. “We didn’t…we didn’t accomplish anything! How can you pretend that was meaningful!?”
“I’m not pretending.” Anayama spoke slowly. “Isa-kun fulfilled her job as a ninja. It isn’t about the result. Do you understand? …We can end this as Sanada ninja rather than the Unneeded.”
“We are the real deal now. Isa-kun proved it. …So Nezu-kun and Yuri-kun, we no longer need to worry about being Unneeded and how we ended up that way. Isa-kun made us the real deal.”
Anayama spoke to Yuri who was at a loss for words.
“Now, we’re about to face the pressure of having to continually prove that we’re the real deal. It’s time to find out just how easy we had it being Unneeded. So let’s get back to Sanada to report back to the others. And…”
“Musashi has started toward Novgorod. Let’s head back so we can observe the battle between P.A. Oda, Sviet Rus, and Musashi.”
At 8:21 PM, the Musashi flew west as if to pursue the Jurakudai. In Novgorod, a fleet of black galleys began landing from the southern sky.
For the history recreation, the center of Novgorod was Nanao Castle.
Nanao Castle originally belonged to Uesugi, but it defected to Oda before being taken back by Uesugi once more.
Shibata himself would not land on Novgorod yet. Shibata’s forces would not land on Novgorod until after Nanao Castle was taken back by Uesugi. That would be the Battle of Tedorigawa in which they tried to take it yet again.
Someone else was sent out on the front line.
“Sakuma. …It’s me, Maeda. I’ll be looking after things here along with Na-chan.”
“Sure, sure. Nice to see you again. You only just got here, but it looks like the counterattack is about to begin. What do you want to do? Want some candy?”
A short girl in an M.H.R.R. uniform ran over to Toshiie on Novgorod’s southern land port. She held out a tin of candies, so Toshiie bowed and took two.
“Which one do you want, Ma-chan?”
“This one! This one!”
Matsu chose the red one, so Toshiie chose the white one. He popped it in his mouth while his summoned ghost warriors lowered something from his transport ship.
“…? Are those bags of flour?” asked Sakuma. “What are you gonna do with all of those?”
“That’s a little trick for defense. I hope I won’t have to use it, though. …So what are you going to do, Sakuma?”
“Testament. I was sent over here after pursuing the Prince of Orange. But that let me meet up with Mori here, which is pretty amusing. I’m really thankful for that.”
Something approached behind her as she spoke. As it crawled out from behind a moored galley, the surrounding people instantly took a step back.
Instead of wearing an M.H.R.R. uniform, it was more accurate to say the approaching thing was wrapped in one.
“Mori, I see you’re as wonderfully tentacle-y as ever.”
“Ah! Lord Toshiie, are you one the front line here!? I-I’m honored!”
He looked like a clump of countless worms.
He was part of a tentacle species and Sakuma looked up at his three meter height.
“You must be cold here, Nagayoshi. It’s a lot different from the Dark Continent where Hashiba rescued you. You’re not going to get chapped, are you?”
“Ah, p-please stop that, Lady Sakuma! R-rub me like that and I-I’ll transform! I’ll get all hard! Ah, here it comes, here it comes! I can’t control this!”
“Wa ha ha! You really are hilarious, Mori!”
“Please stop.” Mori flushed with embarrassment, twisted his body around to take a step back, and used his tentacles to hide his full form. “I-I told myself I wouldn’t live a lewd life! Look, it’s cold, so I’m wearing wool caps on all the tips! Aren’t they cute? If my slime freezes, I can’t breathe through my skin after all.”
“Ha ha ha. You look downright criminal in those hats, Mori,” said Toshiie. “I thought Shibata was insane to give you the name Mori Nagayoshi just because we found you in a forest and you were really long, but now you’re an entire wing of our main forces.”
“Well, you’ve all treated me so well… There’s a world of difference between life here and life when that Dark Continent evil god cult captured me and used natural drugs to control me and make me do awful things every day and night.”
“Want some candy? Oh, can you not eat them with that cap on?”
“Not to worry. There’s a hole at the very tip. Go right ahead.”
“Mori, you’re only making that look even more criminal, so I suggest keeping that hole closed.”
Sakuma flicked the candy into the air and Mori caught it. As she continued the process from different angles, one of the girls asked a question to the boys helping transport materials through the port.
“Can you do that?”
“Pft… Our guys aren’t even as good as some tentacles.”
“It’s biologically impossible!!”
Then Mori turned toward them.
“That’s right! Young lady, you should not expect the exact same abilities from entirely different beings. If you are looking for equality, then…”
“I suppose you need to look to something less tangible…like the heart.”
Everyone shouted their agreement, so Mori blushed and stiffened a little.
“Mori, just having you around is great, but how about we start our meeting? Sviet Rus will be here before long.”
“Th-that’s right! Lord Toshiie will-…oh, and Lord Sassa will be here later too, won’t he!? I-I’m so excited that I get to be on the front line with all of you…”
Mori embraced the top of his central mass with his tentacles as he followed Sakuma.
Instead of the city, Sakuma walked toward a plaza at the edge of the land port. When Toshiie saw that…
“Is Novgorod still not letting us inside the central city?”
“The hilltop city still has its gates closed with defense barriers on top of that. Marfa and her people have fortified the city hall. And the rumored world’s first academy is probably there.” Sakuma smiled bitterly. “As is the Prince of Orange who is going to spill the beans on our Genesis Project.”
“Wh-what an awful person!” exclaimed Mori. “I-I think that is just wrong! How can you give away something people are working so hard on? Oh, I just can’t forgive him!”
“Calm down,” said Toshiie while walking to the plaza for their meeting. “Once Tedorigawa begins, we can deal with that.”
And at 8:41 PM, a great quantity of ships from Sviet Rus appeared in Novgorod’s eastern sky.
In response, a fleet of black galleys began firing from Novgorod’s southern side.
The Battle of Nanao Castle had begun.
The State of Novgorod
Toori: Sis! Sis! We’re on our way to Novgorod on a Sviet Rus ship, but what are things like there!?
Kimi: Heh heh heh. Nov Brother, things are laid out like this.
1: P.A. Oda’s Sakuma Defense Fleet
2: Sviet Rus Fleet. From left to right: 1st Fleet (Naoe), 2nd Fleet (Saitou), 3rd Fleet (Kagekatsu), 4th Fleet (Shigenaga and Foolish Brother)
3: Novgorod’s North Land Port. West and south are cliffs.
4: Route for Saitou’s Landing Team
5: Novgorod City Hall
6: Novgorod City
7: Novgorod’s Eastern Field
8: Route for P. A. Oda Counterattack Unit
9: Approaching Jurakudai
10: Jurakudai’s Invasion Course
11: Shibata’s Fleet
Sis: There you have it. Sviet Rus wants to end the Battle of Nanao Castle by reaching the city hall on the north end of Novgorod’s hilltop city, but the cliffs prevent them from reaching the city from the north land port and they have to circle eastward. The fiercest fighting should be in the eastern field. And even if the Battle of Nanao Castle ends, the Battle of Tedorigawa will begin and Shibata’s fleet will arrive.
Toori: And I guess the Jurakudai will be there by then, making it all a giant mess. The history recreation is gonna make it impossible to have an exciting Tonga show, isn’t it?”
Kimi: Yes, that’s clearly not happening. Oh, and don’t forget that the Musashi is approaching from far to the east to the right of the Sviet Rus fleets. You should be able to see its silhouette in the distance.
- Mori means forest and the Naga of Nagayoshi means long.
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