Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 93
Chapter 93: Forerunner in a Gathering Place
We get so close
And without even noticing it?
Point Allocation (Looking Back)
It was Avalon.
Futayo was surprised when she continued below the entrance hall.
“What is this place?”
It was a circular space the same size as the entrance hall. The ceiling was tall and the passageway from the entrance hall was not a slope or stairway. It was a square black “gate” measuring 5 meters across. And inside…
“A grassy plain, a forest, and a stream…”
The greenery rising to ankle height and the forest giving off a leafy scent were real. The water of the stream audibly circulated and a light easily mistaken for the sun slowly revolved at the ceiling.
“What is this…?”
“It’s the main garden.”
She heard someone step on the grass behind her and turned to see a half-dragon, a mobile shell, Masazumi, and Asama step through the “gate”. And following them…
“So Horizon-sama, Mitotsudaira-sama, and Mary-sama are with us too.”
She omitted the idiot and the ninja. Masazumi tilted her head as she looked around.
“This is the same as Avalon’s system. …And what do you mean this is the ‘main garden’?”
“Well,” replied the mobile shell. “Our main garden is based on environmental construction technology cultivated since the Age of Dawn. I don’t know what this Avalon you mentioned is, but this is either the starting point of that technology or one of the places that inherited that technology from the Age of the Gods.”
“A good analysis,” said a voice.
A giant tree stood in front of the large curving southern wall and the trunk had a blackboard hanging on it.
They were indoors, but it still felt like an outdoor classroom. And someone stood there in black clothing.
“Come here. …We have no time.”
Futayo looked to Masazumi and Masazumi looked to the idiot. The idiot turned to Princess Horizon.
“U-um. …C-can we go? Is that okay?”
“What has you so scared?”
Princess Horizon called over a silver chain and had it dangle the idiot out in front.
And just as they started to walk, the ninja suddenly spoke.
“Everyone…look around you!”
Asama activated Konoha, her false left eye, just in case.
It instantly scanned her surroundings and confirmed there were no kinetic readings. As it did, it scanned the structure of the walls and placed line drawings over them. But…
The walls all around them had originally had some kind of pattern.
Images had been carved into them.
They formed giant reliefs far too large to see all at once even when viewed them from the center of the garden. The circular walls were decorated with a total of 8 engravings.
Mary said what they were as her eyes widened and she eventually tilted her head.
“That’s the story of the Age of Dawn, isn’t it?”
“It is. And there are 8 of them. That’s the same as the number of images on the partition screens last night. From what I can see, the distribution and order of the images is more or less the same…”
This was a great discovery from an academic perspective. But Asama noticed something else as she followed Toori who looked up at the ceiling while carried by the silver chain.
Konoha had not stopped working. There was something it had yet to scan.
She did not know what this was. Perhaps it was gathering some initialization information after visiting this unfamiliar place. But at the same time…
<Emergency: Class 1 Taboo Mysterious Phenomenon: Appearance – Underway.>
A sign frame appeared to inform her of an emergency situation and another appeared to provide support information.
They warned her of a mysterious phenomenon appearing.
Ever since Mikawa, Musashi had supplied all of its residents with divine protections to defend against mysterious phenomena. They had been installed in the residents’ hard point parts and Asama had put together all of Class Plum’s while using all of their different shrines as intermediaries. Considering the possibility of the Princess Disappearances or other mysterious phenomena that took people away, she had made sure she could forcibly purify them by cutting off the ether flow to provide temporary safety.
Light sprayed from the backs of everyone but Narumi.
One barrier’s worth of ether had been cut off in the space behind them.
Because she worked for the Asama Shrine, she first placed the strongest defenses on herself. Then the binder skirts on her left and right hips automatically switched to free mode. She pulled Katatsubaki and Kataume from the left and right, opened them, and…
“There!” declared Hanami. “Clap!!”
She could see 3 locations where mysterious phenomena were likely to appear, so she quickly checked them.
“Masazumi! Mary! …Horizon!?”
She quickly saw what appeared there.
…Rings of light!?
Red circles of light that looked almost hand drawn appeared behind those three. They all looked back in surprise and Asama saw a red glowing line extend left and right from the center of the circle. Which formed…
“The Double Border Crest!!”
Asama immediately synchronized Kataume and Katatsubaki and then prepared to fire. Mitotsudaira looked her way.
“I’m on it!”
She drew a purified arrow from her binder skirt and considered going for a rapid fire attack.
But at that very moment…
The Double Border Crests behind those three vanished.
Those symbols of the Princess Disappearances left as suddenly as they had appeared.
Asama stopped halfway through nocking the arrow.
…Wh-what does that mean?
The Double Border Crests had vanished. To make sure that was accurate, Hanami looked around.
“It’s okay. Clap.”
The Mouse smiled and clapped.
The Double Border Crests were gone. But it had been a sudden disappearance. There was no indication that anything had even happened. All that remained was everyone looking concerned and Mary clinging to Tenzou.
…Ohh, Mary-san has gotten pretty bold…
“And yet you did nothing at all to me, Toori-kun.”
“The chains! Can’t you see these chains!? I’m kind of tied up at the moment!”
As everyone ignored the struggling crossdresser, the Prince of Orange spoke from behind the large tree.
“The Princess Disappearances, hm? …I suppose you could call that a double captivity. Although you could also say it’s our responsibility.”
…A double captivity?
Asama questioned it, but she did not understand. But since Masazumi pointed toward the large tree, she turned in that direction too.
They all hurried over there, so she followed.
Masazumi watched Mitotsudaira release the chain and lower the crossdresser to the ground.
The crossdresser stepped out ahead of the others. He stood ahead of them on the grassy field with his back to them.
“Hey, Seijun. What will we do once we see what the Genesis Project is?”
“Think about whether we should stop it or cooperate. …We still don’t know how the Logismoi Oplo are supposed to stop the Apocalypse, so this will hopefully provide a hint.”
“Neshinbara would probably love this,” said the idiot with a smile. But…
…What was that just now?
The Double Border Crest had appeared behind her. In fact, it had appeared behind more than just her.
…Does it just appear indiscriminately?
Mary had lost her father Henry VIII to the Princess Disappearances, so she had enough of a connection for the Double Border Crest’s appearance behind her to make sense.
The same was true of Masazumi herself.
…So is that how it works?
There was no point in confirming that here. Especially when Horizon had no memories of her past. So she focused on following the idiot as he walked out ahead.
She heard a voice from the large tree. It was the Prince of Orange.
“This is a story from the past.”
His words rang out.
“We once tried to become friend with the Princess.”
“Eh?” said Asama and Crossunite, but the Prince of Orange continued.
“But we failed at that, so we decide to come up with another method. And…”
“We received an ugly sort of salvation.”
The Prince of Orange’s words stopped there like he was taking a breath.
Masazumi gulped as she listened.
She did not know what he meant, but she understood what must have happened.
Just as Masazumi muttered that word in her heart, Mitotsudaira asked her a question.
“Um, Masazumi? Who exactly is the Prince of Orange?”
It was a little late for that, but it was worth going over, so she nodded.
“His name is actually William, Prince of Orange. His Urban Name is the Resisting Chancellor. There are a number of reasons given as to why he goes by his title as Prince of Orange instead of his name: to avoid assassination or to ward off name-seeking curses sent by Tres España or the Catholics, his enemies in his war for independence. But…”
“Looking at his results, he is a very skilled Chancellor. So if he’s here…”
Just as she said that, she realized the crossdresser had stopped walking. And his unmoving back spoke.
“Uqui, Tenzou, take care of this.”
While the others came to a stop, Crossunite and Urquiaga rushed out. Crossunite went in low from the right and Urquiaga went in high from the left. And their paths intersected at the giant tree.
Finally, they straightened up and beckoned the others over.
…What is it?
“I’m not sure, but let’s go. My king, I will make sure you are safe.”
After Masazumi, Horizon, and Asama watched the crossdresser being wrapped in chains again to keep him safe, they jogged over to the giant tree.
The light shining from the sky created a deep shadow below the large trees branches, but as they entered that shadow.
“What happened!? Where’s the Prince of Orange!?”
Urquiaga gestured over with his chin.
Masazumi kept jogging and looked over to see what he meant. She saw the blackboard hanging on the tree.
A Double Border Crest was drawn there.
Masazumi gasped when she saw it.
It was just like with her mother. The Double Border Crest was drawn in blood red and the Prince of Orange was nowhere to be found.
And something was written next to the crest.
As usual the Princess Disappearance came with a message left by the Princess. And it said…
“…What’s keeping Mitsuhide-kun?”
…What does this mean?
Asama asked herself that as she watched the Double Border Crest gradually fade from the blackboard.
Next to her, she saw Tenzou gently hug Mary from behind after she ran up. Ohh, thought Asama again. Tenzou-kun really has gotten better. But that odd impression aside…
…I need to focus on the Double Border Crest right now.
“Why was the Prince of Orange taken by the Princess Disappearances?”
No, he had given a possible reason earlier. And Horizon pointed that out.
“In other words, if you get too friendly with the Princess, you go bye-bye. That would be the reason.”
“Can you try to treat this with more weight!? Please!?”
Horizon gave her a thumbs up, but if she was right…
“Does that mean Masazumi’s mom and Mary’s dad were friendly with the Princess?”
Mary’s gaze wandered when she heard that. She could not give a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and she finally looked to Tenzou as if to say “I don’t know”. Tenzou responded with a nod.
“Mary-dono, you will not be taken away. I guarantee it.”
He had no proof of that, but it did seem to help Mary calm down. “Judge,” she said with a smile.
But Masazumi was still not moving.
She did not respond even when spoken to, but when Tsukinowa rubbed against her cheek from her shoulder…
“Eh? O-oh. Um…”
It looked like she had only just noticed Asama. Her face was pale and Asama felt apologetic.
…Her mom was only just taken by the Princess Disappearances last year…
The memory would still be raw and she would not have had time to come to terms with it.
Asama decided she could not ask any further right now, so…
“I will take some evidence that the Prince of Orange was taken by the Princess Disappearances. He is a nation’s Chancellor, so we don’t want anyone thinking we did something to him.”
“Oh, right. Judge…”
Masazumi replied weakly, but then…
“Oh, honestly! I can’t be like this! Sorry!”
Masazumi slapped both her cheeks.
…I can’t be zoning out!
Musashi had decided to continue toward the future, so she could not let her memories of the past overwhelm her when a mysterious phenomenon appeared in front of her. That might be fine if she was alone, but that was not the case here or now. So she slapped her cheeks again and…
“Horizon! Gather your strength and give me a punch!”
She gritted her teeth, saw Horizon raise her right fist, and quickly stopped her.
“Wait, Horizon. That’s too much strength. That would be dangerous.”
“Heh. I have determined I still have much to learn if my excessive talent is causing people to fear me.”
“Okay, Horizon! Then gather your strength and give me a- gfh.”
As the idiot ran over, he received two lazy kicks to the crotch, flew straight up, and fell back down onto his knees.
“Now, then,” said Horizon. “What shall we do, Masazumi-sama?”
“Well,” said Masazumi as she looked to the fading Double Border Crest and the writing next to it.
…What’s keeping Mitsuhide-kun?
“Does that mean,” she said to help calm everyone down, “that the Prince of Orange is just Mitsu-hiding?”
It was too powerful and everyone froze over.
“Hey! Seijun! We’re okay! We distributed the damage over everyone here, so it didn’t do much to any one of us!!”
“Dammit. And I thought that was a pretty good one too!!”
For some reason, Mitotsudaira spread her mouth to the sides and wagged her raised finger.
“Well, um, how about we investigate the place a little?”
“Eh? Right. Asama, can you start by recording the situation in-…”
Asama and Hanami were already using a heat detection spell to draw out a human-shaped line to record where the Prince of Orange had been. That looks pretty professional, thought Masazumi while she checked her sign frame.
Novice: “The English forces are up above, so I’ll have them look over Asama-kun’s results as a non-Musashi witness. I’ve also spoken with the Provisional Council and they will be telling Holland that ‘just as we tried to hold an anti-P.A. Oda meeting with the Prince of Orange, P.A. Oda attacked and he was taken by the Princess Disappearances’.”
Vice President: “Thanks. …I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it would be best to keep nothing hidden and to get this information out there as soon as possible.”
“Asama, did he leave anything behind?”
“Oh, yes. His coat is on the ground here. Oh, also his inner suit and his under…wear?”
“…Did he strip?”
For some reason, everyone simultaneously turned toward the crossdressing nudist. Due to the damage from the kicks to his crotch, the nudist hopped back like a shrimp to escape them, but…
“Wh-what’s that look for, everyone!? Sunbathing! He was probably sunbathing! Right?”
“Don’t ask me,” replied Tenzou. “Anyway, this was probably history’s first nudist Princess Disappearance, but did he leave anything else behind, Asama-dono?”
“Yes. This pen had fallen to the ground. It was probably in his coat pocket.”
Asama had Hanami hold it up so as not to get any fingerprints on it. And…
Four Eyes: “Wait! That looks a lot like the graduation gift from the 13th Mutsugoirei Academy!!”
Shakespeare must have seen it through the sign frame, but it was Urquiaga who responded.
“Wasn’t Neshinbara’s school a new one?”
Hanami tilted her head and spun around at that. The pen she showed off was a cartridge-style ink pen and it had the number “01” engraved on the bottom. Also…
Novice: “That looks pretty old. There are traces of it being repaired. The design uses a cross with the corners removed, so it’s probably Tres Españan. But the Prince of Orange was originally a leader in Tres España, so it would make sense for him to have something like that. Then again…”
Neshinbara said more.
Novice: “We fled that academy, but there was a custom of giving out pens like that at the graduation ceremony. So it’s possible that…”
Vice President: “There was an academy like that in the past too?”
Masazumi nodded when Neshinbara answered with “most likely”.
She did not understand what any of it meant, but she felt like they had gathered a few of the pieces needed to reach the answer. Losing the Prince of Orange was a big deal, but it would also give them a chance to contact Holland in secret.
I need to stay positive, she told herself while taking a breath.
She was not zoning out. She was not focused on her past. So…
“Asama…is already ready it seems. Then let’s leave the rest to Novgorod and get out of here. They’re fighting up above, but once they learn we won, that will qualify as the defense of Uozu Castle and should signal the end of the battle.”
To preserve the scene, Asama laid out thin warning shimenawa.
And she followed the others while creating the paperwork to request that Novgorod preserve and continue to investigate the scene.
In front of her and wrapped in a silver chain, Toori looked up at the ceiling.
What is he looking at? Or is he looking up toward heaven to pretend he’s a prisoner? He never does change, does he? she thought.
But then Konoha drew a diagram of white glowing lines in her vision. It had been working even after the scan of her surroundings earlier and now it was doing more work she did not understand. However…
…Could it be…?
The giant walls had been engraved with the events of the Age of Dawn, but…
She looked up to the giant domed ceiling and she saw something there.
A large engraving took up that entire space.
Asama saw the ceiling diagram that Konoha had scanned.
“Something that was erased…and people?”
The outside edges of the domed ceiling were carved with people looking to and extending their hands toward the center. There were enough people to circle all the way around the ceiling. Regardless of race or species, they all looked like they were celebrating what was in the center. And when Asama looked to the center…
…There are marks showing that something was scraped away.
As she had said, there were scrapes on the ceiling showing that something had existed there, surrounded by the people.
It looked like everyone was celebrating whatever had been carved there.
“What in the world was carved in the center there?” asked Mitotsudaira.
Just as Asama started thinking about that, the ground shook beneath her feet.
No, thought Asama as everyone exchanged a glance. If this was indeed an Avalon and the system worked as Masazumi claimed it did, then it was cut off from the outside crust. Even if Novgorod shook, it would not reach here. But they were definitely feeling a small shaking and trembling.
“Ah,” said Mitotsudaira. “Are you feeling that?”
Horizon nodded at that and placed a hand on Tenzou’s shoulder.
“Are you feeling ‘that’ again? …Please try to avoid doing so at mealtimes, Tenzou-sama.”
“I feel like I’ve been wrongly accused of something lately. I have, haven’t I?”
“Hey, hey. Calm down, Tenzou,” said Toori. “And don’t even think about using this shaking to help with that, okay?”
“So I have been wrongly accused! Whatever it is, I’ve been wrongly accused!!”
Asama ignored those weird people and checked on her surroundings. And…
“Something’s coming from above…no from outside!!”
As soon as she shouted that, the ceiling split apart. And a beam of light dropped from the split like a wall.
It took a blade produced from the ley lines to interfere with the space inside of an Avalon and that was exactly what split this garden in two.
Novgorod appeared to cover the heavens in the western skies of Sviet Rus, but a bluish-white ether blade pierced it from top to bottom.
Its wielder was on the roof of the city hall in northern Novgorod.
It was Katou Kiyomasa.
She had launched a massive light sword from the combined Caledfwlch. She could not see what was below there, but she felt the tactile feedback through the blade’s light. She raised her eyebrows.
“That wasn’t easy, but I pierced Novgorod’s central power system!”
Kiyomasa reached into her skirt and pulled out a reinforced reed tube measuring more than a meter. It was not an ether fuel tank. It held Orei Nero which contained a program. That program would be used on the power system below Novgorod.
“It will self-destruct with a spell! This is meant to bring down and destroy Novgorod! …Instruct everyone in this region to evacuate!”
With that, she shoved the tube into the combined Caledfwlch’s pommel and removed the upper release plug. That would normally cause the ether to leak out into the air, but…
“Finish this, Caledfwlch…!!!”
The blade’s width did not change, but the amount of light grew.
“Fire straight through!”
The sword of light was sticking out the bottom of Novgorod, but its tip pulled back inside. And a beat later, something else arrived.
It was a cannon blast. The tip of the sword burst apart and became a muzzle. Novgorod’s lower hemisphere portion swelled out in an instant and then Novgorod violently shook up and down.
A 300 meter wide area at the bottom of that lower hemisphere collapsed.
All that remained was Novgorod’s underground bedrock and a torrent of yellow ether light leaking from the central region that supported Novgorod.
That was proof that the power system that kept it afloat had been partially destroyed by Caledfwlch’s blast. The ether extracted from the ley lines overheated and burst into flames.
But Kiyomasa did not hold back. She removed the program tank from Caledfwlch’s pommel, shoved another one in, and shoved a fuel tank in over that.
“Time for another…!”
Once she yelled that, she saw someone jump up onto the southern end of the roof.
It was a pale demon woman. A hornless one.
Shigenaga prepared her Honjou Shield on the roof.
She had a 16-layered one in front of her.
She tried to strike from behind and hit Kiyomasa, but…
It was a noise that told her something was amiss. It had not come from below the roof. She heard it along with something like blowing wind from the nearby skylight, the windows on the outer walls, and the passageway exits.
It was a voice that sounded like a never-ending “oh”. So…
Kiyomasa was defenseless after firing, but Shigenaga saw the girl opening a sankt okno and looking her way.
The decision she made after being seen determined everything.
Instead of sending her Honjou Shield forward as an attack, Shigenaga slapped it with her open hand. The force of that impact caused the 16-layer shield to come apart and point downwards. And just as they seemed to pierce into the city hall’s roof…
“I was right!”
The roof grew scorching hot and swelled out. The area from where Kiyomasa stood in the center to the north end remained intact, but the part of the reinforced wood roof directly above the hall was struck from below.
The roof creaked in resistance for a short time, but this was too much for it to bear.
It exploded in a cannon blast from below.
Shigenaga saw the cannon blast pierce the city hall from underground.
The powerful attack seemed to combine multiple demon spells.
The Honjou Shield was not so much broken as it was melted and scattered.
And the roof did not so much collapse as erupt. The overheated roof broke apart and flew up into the air, so the city hall’s central hall was visible below the shimmering heat and wind.
The floor had burned and collapsed and the giant blade of light had pierced a large hole straight down from where Kiyomasa stood.
Shigenaga saw her Sviet Rus comrades in the northern entrance to the hall. Kagekatsu was there, Marfa was in his arms, and Saitou was there too. After a nod from Kagekatsu, they started down the passageway.
They were escaping.
Saitou gestured for her to come too, but…
…What happened to the Musashi group!?
The large hole leading below Novgorod was currently burning away.
Even the stairway tunnel leading to it had collapsed. The half-dragon and Date Narumi’s mobile shell could fly, but were they in any state to do so? And…
“I must stop them.”
She saw two people in the open hole in front of her.
One was Kiyomasa who was piercing Novgorod with the glowing sword coming from her twin spears named Caledfwlch.
The other was a girl wielding a spear and she stood next to Kiyomasa.
“You’re Fukushima Masanori, aren’t you?”
“We must be leaving soon, but listen: Novgorod is falling and it will be utterly destroyed.”
“That’s true,” agreed Shigenaga.
The enemy was right. Novgorod was already tilting slightly and a low, deep noise was beginning to sound from the bottom.
The fall was too slow to sense yet, but that massive area was pushing down on the air and producing a rumbling noise.
“At this rate, it should take about 4 minutes before it truly begins to fall. Once it strikes the ground, all of the power system’s heat will circulate to the accumulated ether. I believe Novgorod will be destroyed in an explosion. This is the end of the fiercely fought Siege of Uozu Castle. …We will be leaving. We leave it to Sviet Rus to secure this ‘land of Novgorod’.”
“Is that so?” Shigenaga nodded. “Prepare yourself for a rematch.”
“But there are no more history recreations in which Sviet Rus battles P.A. Oda.”
“Not us. …Musashi against you.”
“Ridiculous.” Kiyomasa raised her eyebrows. “How are they supposed to escape this-…”
“You’ve fought them once or twice now and you still haven’t figured it out? Or do you not want to figure it out? Do you want to think you’ve beaten them and thus you don’t have to fight them again?”
“You could stand to learn a thing or two about persistence, resistance, and comebacks. After all, Musashi is already our comrade.”
Once Shigenaga said that, the light shattered. The light sword being fired from Kiyomasa’s Caledfwlch was suddenly broken. At the same time, the fuel tank in its pommel exploded.
“Don’t look so shocked. …They’re alive and they destroyed your light sword from below. I don’t know if that was Excalibur or some other power, but I know one thing for sure: No matter what kind of battles they find themselves in from now on, they will never forget that you are their primary enemy. There is no changing that now.”
“Th-that was a close one…!”
Masazumi sighed inside the entrance hall below Novgorod. That 200 meter room had a giant hole in the center where Caledfwlch’s light sword had stabbed through it. At the largest point, that sharp hole was about 2 meters wide and 15 meters long and darkness was visible through it, but…
“It was lucky that was a ley line style of ether sword… That allowed it to interfere with the Avalon and pierce the ley line reactor below, but it failed to directly destroy the Avalon and allowed us to destroy the blade.”
On the south side of the hole, Mitotsudaira held one of the Excaliburs and she exchanged a glance with Mary and the 1st Special Duty Officer who held the other one on the opposite side.
Futayo looked up with Tonbo Spare in hand.
“That is a long way up.”
A point of light was visible far above them.
That was not the light of Novgorod’s city hall. It was the night sky beyond it. There were piles of smashed stone and stairs around the outer edge of the hall, so…
…Fukushima must have destroyed them.
“Hey, Seijun, what are they trying to do right now?”
Novice: “Wait, Aoi-kun! Don’t forget about me! …Are you listening!? So you want to know what P.A. Oda is trying to do here in Novgorod!? Well, I can only give my best guess, but-…”
Hori-ko: “It sounds like he won’t start for a while, so should we change the channel?”
Smoking Girl: “I’m already on the transport ship back to Musashi, but are you all still wasting time inside? It’s probably going to fall and go boom in about 4 minutes.”
Flat Vassal: “If you don’t get back soon, I’ll eat all of the snacks I brought back from Mogami.”
Asama: “They’re already almost gone!? And shouldn’t you be more worried about us!?”
Vice President: “Seriously though, everyone back on the Musashi needs to think about what’s going to happen to Novgorod and how the Musashi needs to respond. …Mukai!”
Vice President: “I leave control and approval of the Musashi’s response with you, our Acting Captain. Aoi, Horizon, that’s fine with you, right?”
Horizon nodded and Aoi opened a sign frame.
Me: “I know you can handle it, Bell-san, so just do it like normal. I know you’ve been away from the Musashi, so enjoy yourself now that you’re back.”
Bell: “R-right. Judge. And Vice Principal…Yoshinao…?”
We: “Not to worry. We have already provided our authorization.”
Me: “We, you’re real quick with that stuff but slow with doing things for real, so try to work on that. You still haven’t finished fixing Adele’s mobile shell, right? Adele, you’ll just have to resist the urge to be a shield this time.”
Flat Vassal: “I-it’s not like I want to be a shield! It just tends to happen!”
“Isn’t that the same thing in the end?” everyone muttered, but Masazumi could only sigh since it was the usual way of things. And…
Shigeko: “I’m staring the enemy down right now, but my escape ship has arrived. Can you all get up from down there?”
Vice President: “Yes, we’re fine. We’ll be up soon.”
Narumi’s mobile shell raised its hand on Masazumi’s right.
“If I change my power settings and armor placement, I can carry three people at my ascension escape speed. …What about you, Kiyonari?”
“I suppose I can handle three as well.”
“Then,” said Mitotsudaira while returning Excalibur to Mary. She smiled and made a suggestion. “2nd Special Duty Officer, please carry Mary, the 1st Special Duty Officer, and Futayo. That will be your three. Narumi can carry Masazumi, Tomo, and me while I use the silver chains to carry my king and Hori-…”
Mitotsudaira seemed to realize her mistake as she made it.
She froze in place, so everyone else did as well.
Musashi: “Even if you transfer some of the passengers to the chains, won’t the weight remain the same? Over.”
Principal: “There have been a lot more tests like that lately. Y’know, where you have to think outside the box.”
Asama: “You’re not worried! You’re not worried about us at all!? That’s what this is, isn’t it!?”
Wise Sister: “…”
Novice: “Aoi Sister-kun, why are you glaring at me!? I didn’t do anything!”
Isn’t you not doing anything the problem here? thought Masazumi, but then Narumi placed a hand on her centipede mandible.
“Weight-wise, four people would probably be my absolute limit. And even that would be pretty unstable…”
Mal-Ga: “Then leave it to us! …We’ll be right there!”
Vice President: “Naruze!? Are you free?”
“Judge,” replied Naruze and Naito’s voice followed.
Gold Mar: “Shibata’s fleet is starting to retreat to the south and Shibata’s forces are escaping Novgorod! …If you don’t get out of there soon, you’re in real trouble!”
Naito and Naruze embraced in the night sky.
Schwarz Fräulein and Weiss Fräulein were combined. Now that they were literally Zwei Fräulein, they could use their greater acceleration to rush to Novgorod’s city hall.
…We need to hurry.
The Sviet Rus fleets in the north were also leaving Novgorod and descending. They were ensuring they would not be hit by the powerful winds and air currents created when Novgorod exploded.
The bottom of Novgorod was already surrounded in light where the power system was.
And in their great speed, Naruze asked something of her partner in this embrace.
“Margot. …Can you tell it’s started to fall?’
“Judge. According to my reduction detection, the power system’s ether is only partially escaping. With nowhere to go, I think it’ll overheat and sublimate. At this rate, the remaining fuel really will detonate when it crashes.”
As they flew through the wind, they could see the giant floating city. Several curving pillars of light burst from the bottom like flares and they began circulating within themselves.
That process would reach the internal fuel when it crashed and then Novgorod would be blown away as a giant bomb.
Musashi: “Novgorod’s internal power system is of an unknown type, but given its size, Novgorod’s own destruction will be the primary damage, but the secondary damages of scattering fragments and shockwaves will be much greater. Over.”
Mal-Ga: “So it’s like a bomb with shrapnel placed inside to make it more lethal? How far will the damage spread?”
Musashi: “The only records of such a large structure exploding are abstract ones from the Age of the Gods. But based on what data is available…its maximum radius will be about 70 kilometers. The effective range of the blast will likely reach a radius of 21 kilometers.”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. They’re done for! They’re done for yet again! My clever brain has been thinking: whenever someone decides to destroy an entire city, they like to make sure it ruins our lives as well, don’t they!? Asama! I’m about to head to the Asama Shrine and infiltrate your room, but is there anything you want me to do before the end!? Like disposing of some sexy underwear!?”
Asama: “I don’t have any of that, so don’t bother. More importantly, there’s a stack of porn games waiting to be poison tested next to the PC on the right side of the room. Could you have them all incinerated in Toori-kun’s name? Also please delete the ‘poison testing’ folder on the PC.”
Me: “S-stop! Those are my…my…! Sob, sob. You’re so mean…”
Mal-Ga: “I’m having second thoughts about rescuing them…”
Gold Mar: “Ga-chan! Ga-chan! Lose motivation and your piloting gets pretty rough!!”
I guess we need to hurry, thought Naito. As the floating island grew in their vision, they took a rising parabolic arc to arrive directly above the city hall.
But at that very moment, something shot by below them and toward Novgorod.
Naito was briefly confused because she recognized the shape.
But before she could think any further, Naruze shouted the answer.
Gold and black wings. White and black wings.
That was what Naruze saw. The multi-wing shape looked a lot like her and Naito flying in combined form, but there was one clear difference.
…It’s held together with gravity!
The wings and outer hull were not held on by bolts and expansion joints like they were for Naruze and Naito’s Weiss Fräulein and Schwarz Fräulein. The thrusters and wings were held on with gravity and the overall device was sharp and large.
“What is that…!?”
She did not know.
She could not see the pilots from above, but since the wings contained the emblem of Edel Brocken…
“Is that a different version of Schwarz Fräulein and Weiss Fräulein!?”
That was likely. Their versions had been proven effective, but they were still in the prototype stage. So it would make sense for there to be competing versions.
But the problem was whose side these belonged to. The rail wings and schale besen had M.H.R.R.’s emblem drawn on them several times. And there were also emblems saying SPEER-04 and SPEER-05.
That meant this was #4 and #5 of the Ten Spears.
And as the enemy Zwei Fräulein flew by below them…
“Ga-chan, they’re transforming!”
The gravity construction meant it had no frame or expansion joints, so the position of the thrusters and wings could be freely altered.
So the enemy focused most of the thrusters on the back and made use of their powerful acceleration.
They instantly shot out ahead.
Naruze and Naito’s ascending trajectory was no excuse. The other pair had gained a powerful kick of power and they left a line of acceleration in the sky.
White mist and a line of residual ether light split the air.
The sound of the splitting air arrived a moment later, but the flying enemy was already passing over Novgorod by then.
They had completely shaken Naruze and Naito.
Shigenaga was there when it happened.
Something flew by at such low altitude that it was better described as “overhead” than “in the sky”. It was low enough that she felt the need to duck.
…A mechanical phoenix!?
No. She had seen gold and black wings, but those were Technohexen thrusters attached to the top, bottom, and center of the schale besen.
The metal wings slammed into the wind like it was a solid wall and hopped up in the air. The next thing Shigenaga knew, they were ascending straight up into the northern sky.
Fukushima and Kiyomasa were no longer in front of her. They had been snatched away by the owner of the ether light that had risen into the sky and was now circling west to disappear into the south. And in their place…
“Musashi’s Technohexen are here!!”
The pair known as Zwei Fräulein dived into the hole in the city hall’s roof without slowing down.
The wind scattered and the roof swelled out, peeled away, and flew. Within that destruction and noise, Shigenaga decided to leave instead of watching it through to the end.
She would hurry to the transport ships still waiting to the north. Or she intended to. However…
…Will we make it!?
The northern transport ships were slow to leave port.
Because Novgorod was slowly beginning to fall, people had to board using suspended nets instead of piers. But the bigger problem was the shell fire from Shibata’s fleet. That fleet had already withdrawn, so as they fell back to the east while Cavendish’s ship fired on them from the west, they were still within range of Sviet Rus’s main fleet.
They used physical shells. A hit from such a long range was more about the density of shots than about targeting, but the occasional hit prevented the Sviet Rus fleet from leaving for the northern sky and everything was brought to a standstill.
“That main force protected everyone as they escaped, but now they’re blocking the way like a giant lid!?”
Then something else happened.
Shigenaga felt a floating sensation at her feet.
Novgorod had begun dropping all at once.
The giant island instantly fell about 100 meters.
The sky roared, the air below spread out in the shape of Novgorod, and white fog formed.
The transport ships at the northern land port lost their stability. If Novgorod had just started plummeting, that would be one thing, but it almost immediately returned to its previous falling speed, so the air bounced back.
The transport ships were shaken up and down and the people climbing aboard desperately tried to hold on.
Then light raced out from below once more.
It was a second explosion and it was far larger than the previous one. So…
Novgorod shook and started to fall again. This was devastating for the collapsing fleet.
A rumbling sound continued without end and the rubble exploded and cascaded down. But…
The Sviet Rus transport ships wandered a bit, but they did not fall. The boarding warriors were thrown about, but none of them fell off.
The expected blast of turbulent air never arrived.
The demons yelled “Yes!” or “We’re saved!” to express their relief, but a few voices all asked the same question.
They were looking below Novgorod.
Something was supporting the crumbling bottom of the floating city.
“Why is the Jurakudai supporting Novgorod!?”
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