Horizon:Volume 5A Chapter 11
Chapter 11: Both Sides on the Stage
It is seen and not seen
It is hidden and not hidden
It is dancing and not dancing
Point Allocation (Light and Darkness)
The damage to the Ariake was visible from the sky.
It was a mountain of light spreading horizontally at a point about 2 kilometers above Mito.
The explosions of light dropped by the mechanical phoenixes were dissolving the Ariake’s upper armor.
Someone viewed that light from beyond the stealth barrier hiding the Ariake from the bottom and sides.
“Due to the angle we are viewing it from, the edges look very bright, Ujinao-sama.”
“Even my senses can tell that, Kotarou.”
They were 20 kilometers south-southwest of the Ariake. The Houjou fleet and the Association of Indian States warships it commanded were monitoring the results of their attack in the night sky.
“Now, then.” The shoulders of Ujinao’s white track suit rose and fell as she took a breath. “Houjou’s…or rather, India’s sublimation bombs can be dealt with using specialized methods, but Musashi has been involved with the Testament Union’s European nations for so long that they will likely have some trouble.”
“Yes, because that is simply ether light,” said the ninja Mouse girl at Ujinao’s feet. She looked up at Ujinao. “Gravitational defense barriers use gravity to repel forces and objects, so they detect the ether and stop it. But our sublimation bombs are powerless. They are no more than light. However, they include a spell that reacts to whatever it is they illuminate.”
Instead of a spell that affected things from the inside out, this kind of spell left the interior untouched and caused a change in the exterior the light shined on. These were known as…
“Influence spells. …The Musashi Chancellor’s propagation spell is the greatest example of a leader’s spell that produces effects from the inside out, but in India, spells are made to indicate those who are influenced and awoken by the leader’s words and actions.”
“Even after a great leader’s death, even in a multiracial nation, and even if we are ruled over by another nation, our religion will continue. The teachings of Dunhi tell us to sense the gods and change ourselves accordingly. I think the other religions are much the same there, but our spells do things through the influence of our gods.”
The third wave began.
The sky rumbled and explosions of light spread waves through the sky. Ujinao placed a hand on her cheek and sighed.
“Ujinao-sama! Ujinao-sama! I’m not sure what that reaction means!”
Tenzou escaped the path of the explosions with Mary in his arms.
Surprisingly, there was no heat or wind, only the scattering light. But the dull sounds he occasionally heard from the floor were proof that the primary armor was being consumed and stripped away.
Musashi was not actually engaging in battle with Houjou.
This was a unilateral attack.
Even if they tried to give more meaning to this battle, Houjou could simply say they were only testing Musashi’s strength.
Hori-ko: “How are we supposed to begin the war Masazumi-sama wanted so badly!?”
Vice President: “That’s technically accurate, but nuance is important!!”
But what were they to do?
…The real problem is that we can’t defend against this!
The Oushuu fleet still needed some time to leave the danger zone.
But during that time, Musashi had no way of defending against these light bombs.
Shells were still arriving from the southwest with perfect aim, so they had their hands full returning fire there.
347: “The light does seem to be settling down. I don’t think just a single blast can reach the tertiary armor!”
Sticky King: “The problem is that the enemy crafts are still coming!”
That’s right, agreed Tenzou as he set Mary down. The enemy mechanical phoenixes were still attacking in turn. They were unlikely to let up on the attack until Musashi fought back or at least appeared to be preparing to fight back.
…What do we do!?
Just as he wondered that, a sudden light appeared nearby.
…Did they drop another light bomb!?
He quickly turned around but found something else: Mary.
Her shrine maiden outfit was white. And the fabric had dissolved away from the bottom of the breasts where the light had been reflected.
“Master Tenzou? Is something the matter?”
Her underboob was exposed, but that was a blind spot for Mary. She could not see it.
She tilted her head and he briefly hesitated over whether to tell her he could see or to hold his tongue and continue his manly observation. But…
Mary-dono does not like lewd ninjas, he told himself while punching his mental dick.
That switched it off, confirmed the ninja. Tenzou then prepared to tell Mary her blind spot was exposed.
“Wh-what is it?”
He just about said, “That surprised look is wonderful too.”
But he quickly told himself that was not what he had to say and prepared to say something else.
“D-do you like lewd ninjas?!”
“Hee hee. If it’s you, I don’t mind.”
That switched it right back on, confirmed the ninja. Especially when she said it while holding her hands together like that.
…I-is staring my only option now?
Just as he started falling into deep meditation, Mary noticed something.
“Ah. Master Tenzou, your pants.”
He looked down to find his pants had turned to light up to just below his hips, making them something like a grass skirt.
“Wh-why did that happen!?”
“Um, is it because black things reflect more light?”
He felt pathetic, but he had to retreat. Student and shrine maiden clothing had protective effects, so now that those had fallen apart, they were on the battlefield literally and figuratively naked. He might be fine, but…
“Eh? …Oh, right. Judge!”
She smiled and held out a hand, so Tenzou grabbed it and started toward the hatch behind them.
That was when someone appeared from the hatch.
“Hey, Tenzou, what are you doing with Mary?”
The idiot was there. Hearing his voice and several people following him, Tenzou looked to Mary.
…I can’t let them see her boobs!
Tenzou immediately pushed at Mary’s chest with both hands.
Asama had a stockpile of defense and reflection spells in the Asama Shrine databank, so she managed and arranged those spells while arriving atop the Ariake with Toori’s group.
And there she saw…
A pantsless ninja was groping a shrine-maiden-dressed English princess’s chest.
Toori, Kimi, Mitotsudaira, Horizon, Naruze, and everyone else around Asama came to a stop.
They all remained motionless and said nothing.
Sensing their silence, the ninja looked back and gasped.
“Everyone! It’s dangerous here!”
“You are the worst,” said Naruze while beginning a sketch.
That clued Tenzou into how this had to look.
“W-wait! There’s a good reason for this!”
“Heh heh. And is it ‘I was feeling really horny all of a sudden’? It was, wasn’t it?”
“That would be an excuse, not a reason!”
Oh, no! thought Tenzou.
This was dangerous. How was it dangerous? If he let go, Mary’s breasts would be visible. Am I being too possessive if I don’t mind them being visible but don’t want anyone else to see them?
However, he had done nothing wrong. Yes, this was the act of a pure heart.
“Tenzou-kun, I didn’t think you really were that kind of person.”
“You might as well be saying you kind of thought I was, Asama-dono!!”
Then a look of sudden realization came to Mary’s face. Everyone’s reactions seemed to have told her what this situation looked like.
She quickly turned her head toward their awful friends.
Her breasts jiggled, so Tenzou changed the angle and strength of his hold on them.
He only had one shot at this and it was playing out in real time. But Mary gasped a little and brought a hand to her mouth.
“Ah, Master Tenzou. Not so rough…”
Everyone put on a serious expression. For some reason, Asama held her bow and opened it up and Mitotsudaira pulled out two silver chains.
“You’re preparing to fight back against Houjou, right?” asked Tenzou.
“Eh? Why would you think that?”
“I-I don’t like that answer!!”
However, Mary had more to say. She raised her eyebrows a little and wrapped her hands around his.
“No, everyone. This is a misunderstanding.”
Oh, heavenly salvation…! thought Tenzou as he looked at Mary.
“Judge. Isn’t that right, Master Tenzou? Everyone is definitely misunderstanding this.”
“Judge! Indeed they are!”
“Yes. After all, you asked me earlier if I liked lewd ninjas and I said I did if it was you.”
“This was not forced. It is a consensual act.”
Tenzou heard everyone take a deep breath.
Uqui: “The tension of the battlefield led you to grope your wife’s breasts?”
Asama: “He took advantage of Mary’s inability to refuse anything he asks of her. This was definitely a crime.”
Gold Mar: “Enough debate. What are we supposed to do about it?”
Hori-ko: “Yes, discussing how to deal with him comes first.”
10ZO: “Wait! This is progressing far too quickly!”
Smoking Girl: “The 4th wave is coming!!”
Mitotsudaira saw the light and sound approaching.
Her sign frame displayed the courses of the enemy crafts and the trajectories of their falling light bombs. One of the latter lines ended where they were standing, so she quickly grabbed the Chancellor and Horizon with her silver chains.
“We need to fall back to safety!”
One of the silver chains swung the Chancellor up toward one of the enemy crafts, but it was not long enough.
…C’mon, silver chain. Did you pick up some bad habits on our trip to Sviet Rus?
“Ujinao-sama! It seems the enemy is threatening us by swinging their Chancellor around!”
“…Kotarou. How many times do I have to tell you to ensure the accuracy of your reports?”
Kotarou turned around and opened a divine transmission sign frame. She held a conversation and nodded a few times.
Then she turned back toward Ujinao with her eyebrows raised.
“Ujinao-sama! …It seems the enemy is threatening us by swinging their Chancellor around!”
“Kotarou, I have no idea what you mean by that.”
“This is accurate! Please believe me!”
“Then draw me a picture of it, Kotarou.”
Kotarou used her fingers on her sign frame to draw a picture of a stick figure attached to a string and swinging around the sky. The Garudas were also drawn in a simplified fashion.
“Ujinao-sama! Like this! Like this!!”
Ujinao opened a sign frame next to her head. With her eyes still closed, she raised her hand next to her right temple and transferred the information to herself.
She looked away from Kotarou for about two seconds.
Afterwards, she looked back with her usual composed expression.
“Kotarou, you really are cute. I think I’ll hang this drawing in my living room.”
“P-please don’t! And please stop referring to the top floor of the castle tower as your ‘living room’!”
“I’m only using the modern terminology, Kotarou.”
“Why do you take everything at your own pace, Ujinao-sama!? Are you craz-…oops, that’s getting a little too relaxed!”
“I can’t exactly help it. We know the castle will eventually get flooded, so I’ve made my living room and bedroom-…hee hee. Oh, how indecent of me.”
“Ujinao-sama! Ujinao-sama! Please come back to us! Your automaton calculation speed is moving your thoughts too fast to keep up! Are you that upset that you have to follow Hashiba’s orders in this attack!?”
As soon as Kotarou said that, a change occurred in the sky.
It was the light. The flat, bottomless wave of light in the sky above the Ariake…
“Provide a more accurate report, Kotarou.”
“Testament.” Kotarou nodded and raised her voice to a yell. “Our Descending Light Bombs have vanished…along with their area of influence!”
Naomasa saw the disappearance of the light that had been shining on them and tearing apart the Ariake’s roof.
It had happened when the 4th wave of enemies was approaching.
Just as the light bombs had been dropped…
“The stealth barrier?”
It had been done on an order from “Ariake”.
There was now no light above the Ariake and a thin fog instead. That fog had been created to let the Oushuu fleet escape to the north, but…
“Did they extend it over here too?” “Yes,” confirmed Asama. “Yoshy-chan instructed us to.”
Asama looked below them where the night sky was melting away beyond the thin fog.
“How does this work?”
Righteousness: “It’s simple. Satomi once gathered some traces left behind when those light bombs were being tested. We could only guess, but we concluded that stopping the light would stop the influencing effect that turns things to light.”
Novice: “So since anything that reflects the light is dissolved, you only have to erase the light itself? But it is nearly impossible to erase a light when it is its own source.”
Righteousness: “We use the stealth fog so that we ‘can’t see’ the light. Since we ‘can’t see’ the light, it loses its power. That’s the trick. I believe they’re called Descending Light Bombs and their effect lasts about 3 minutes. If we maintain the stealth for that long, they won’t do anything to us.”
Scarred: “You can do the same thing with water, can’t you?”
Righteousness: “Satomi considered that countermeasure too. But be careful, okay?”
Obscene: “Ha ha. Be careful of what?”
Silver Wolf: “Of what it means for them to use light bombs that can be negated by a stealth barrier against the Ariake which can put up a stealth barrier.”
Me: “So are they actually tsundere and they wanted us to negate their bombs?”
Hori-ko: “Aaaand he’s gone. Next person, go ahead.”
Unturning: “Strategy-wise, I would assume they wanted to have the Ariake close itself up in the stealth. Because in stealth mode, the Ariake can’t put up a defense barrier or make any large movements.”
Narumi’s words continued on everyone’s sign frames.
Unturning: “Hashiba’s instructions to Houjou were probably to stretch the attack out as long as possible while also keeping us from turning it into a mutual ‘battle’. And while we’re stuck dealing with Houjou, the Azuchi Castle can leave port to indicate that Musashi could do nothing to them.”
Naomasa looked out and saw the lights of Edo beyond the stealth fog and incoming shells.
She had descended to Edo a few times. She only viewed it as a harbor with tasty fish, a shopping district, waterways, and rivers, but there was currently a giant ship in the sky above it.
…So that’s the Azuchi.
I don’t want to let it get away if possible, she thought.
During the Battle of Mikatagahara upon arriving in Kantou, that Azuchi Castle had pursued the Musashi while they were unable to fight back.
Satomi Yoshiyori had done everything he could, but he had entrusted everything else to them.
That Satomi Chancellor had been a god of war pilot her own age. She had originally lived in Kantou and she wanted information on the Suzaku, so there had been a lot she wished she had been able to talk with him about. But…
Smoking Girl: “After everything they’ve done, the Azuchi is just going to run?”
Naomasa spoke while firing back at the enemy and having Jizuri Suzaku swap out the sniper rifle’s overheated barrel.
Smoking Girl: “Once again, there’s nothing we can do.”
Worshiper: “Could we send the Musashi out and charge at them?”
Novice: “We’d be a sitting duck for Houjou while descending from the Ariake. After destroying Novgorod and driving back Shibata’s forces, the other nations see us as a victor. I want to avoid damaging that reputation here.”
Uqui: “But if we hide in the Ariake’s stealth bubble and let them escape, we’ve utterly lost?”
Unturning: “Exactly. …Musashi’s task here is finding a way to turn this around to our advantage.”
Righteousness: “That’s right.”
Those words arrived just as a blue heavy god of war rode a lift up to the Ariake’s roof.
It was Satomi’s Righteousness.
And Righteousness drew the sword at its hip.
“I will take care of half of Houjou’s cannon fire. But…”
Righteousness turned toward the idiot among those standing in the center of the roof.
“Musashi Chancellor, to be honest, I want to get an attack in on the Azuchi.”
Horizon looked to the idiot.
The shrine maiden crossdresser faced the blue god of war.
The crossdresser lifted up and lowered his fake breasts.
“You understand what it means to seek that answer from me, don’t you?”
“I thought I did until that weird motion just now!!”
“Don’t be silly. I was only showing you I have something you don’t. You should thank me. …Also?”
The idiot pointed southward with his thumb. He did not look back that way himself.
…I have determined that means he does not consider it worth looking at.
He was indicating this was a foregone conclusion. And he opened his mouth to say so.
Horizon slapped the back of the crossdresser’s head. It was a tsukkomi. But…
Her blow had a metallic feel to it.
The idiot laughed beyond his blonde crossdressing wig that fluttered in the air.
“Too bad, Horizon. I currently have the beauty god’s c-c-cu-cu-cutic-…oh, I can’t say it right! Well, anyway, I raised my defenses with a blonde helmet I got from that god!”
“Yoshy-sama, you may ignore this idiot and go.”
“Wait! Please don’t just ignore what I’m saying! It’s important!”
Horizon sighed through her nose and placed a hand on her ear.
“Yes? What is it?’
“D-dammit. I won’t lose this time! …Anyway, Flatty?”
“Don’t just expect me to answer to that, you idiot. But I don’t feel like messing with this any longer, so what is it?”
“She sure is cooperative,” commented the others.
Horizon had to agree and then she listened to what the idiot had to say.
“You’re not ready to go attack the Azuchi yet.”
Good, thought Yoshiyasu inside Righteousness.
She was inside the virtual cockpit, meaning she was seated on a small tatami-mat tearoom.
“You think so?”
“Judge. I mean, you have no goal for attacking the Azuchi.”
“Avenging the previous Chancellor.”
“You dummy. That’s a reason, not a goal.” The idiot looked up at her with a smile. “Reasons are in the past. Goals are in the future. Even I know that much.”
“Are you saying there is a goal for attacking the Azuchi?”
She wanted to defeat this opponent. But while she had a reason for that, was there also a goal?
Yoshiyasu just about passed that question off to the idiot.
There was a goal.
No, she did not have a goal herself. But…
…Yoshiyori had one.
“Protecting the future creation of a nation where people wouldn’t have to live like us…”
Eh? thought Adele.
She was sending Raging Beast out on the lift. She had been listening to the Satomi President and their own Chancellor’s conversation thanks to a divine transmission sent by Asama, but something about the conversation had not gotten through to her.
But as the lift’s hatch opened, the foggy night sky came into view, and cannon fire rumbled, she definitely heard their Chancellor’s next words.
“You too will be able to do that before long.”
“…What do you mean?”
“I’m saying you became Student Council President when you’re only in the 2nd year, Flatty.”
As the crossdresser said “trust me”, he looked behind all the others.
A blue god of war stood beyond him.
And he spoke to Righteousness while Horizon held a hammer next to him for some reason.
“I’m sure Yoshiyori and the others made someone as flat as you their President because they knew you could do it.”
“Are you looking down on my skill?”
“Then are you saying you’re better than our Seijun? Seijun’s pretty strong, you know? She recovered even with a whole crowd seeing her underwear, she turns everything into war, and her flat chest power is greater than yours.”
“Oh, and I thought she was a normal one. But if she’s special too, then she doesn’t count.”
Vice President: “What was that!? What did you just start and end there!?”
Obscene: “It means they respect you, Honda-kun!”
Sticky King: “You could also say they are in awe of you! Well done, Masazumi.”
Glad I’m not her, thought Adele, but then Righteousness lowered its shoulders as if sighing.
“You’re overestimating me.”
“Tell that to Yoshiyori.”
“Are you telling me to die?”
“No, I’m not.” The Chancellor pointed down, toward the Musashi inside the Ariake. “I’m telling you to get onboard eventually.”
Yoshiyasu was briefly confused by the idiot’s gesture.
But after a while, she got it.
Instead of working out its meaning, she seemed to drag out the meaning that had already existed inside her.
It would be too kind to call it an awakening. The thoughts awoke inside her like a sudden blow to the head.
“Judge. That’s right.”
Yoshiyasu turned her back on the idiot, lowered her sword, and moved forward to accomplish her current job.
Her goal was to protect Musashi’s future. Her reason was the same.
If her reason and goal were in alignment, then that was her righteousness.
So she looked away from the Azuchi Caste.
“Since I’m still inexperienced, this is my loss. I’ll accept you’re still out of my reach.”
“One day for sure…Yatsufusa and I will bring you down to the earth.”
Northwest of the Ariake, a Mogami fleet was deployed to the provisional border between Mogami and Shirakawa.
A nine-tailed woman stood atop the Yamagata Castle to welcome the Oushuu trade ships returning from the Ariake. She closed the large fan she held.
A giant sign frame floated in the air in front of her. It was a telescope spell using night amplification processing to display the scene atop the damaged Ariake.
The salmon Mouse next to her spoke.
“Yoshiaki-sama! What is excellent, mon!? I’m no good at riddles, mon!”
“I never have to be alone with my thoughts with you around, Shakenobe.”
Yoshiaki laughed in her throat.
Then she watched Righteousness use its wings to fly from the Ariake. The blue god of war faced the incoming cannon fire.
And it turned half of the shells into sparks.
The intense sound came from far to the southeast instead of from the sign frame. The loud rumbling made it sound like the sky was falling down on them. Yoshiaki nodded a few times as she listened.
“It would seem she has no doubts. Is she facing the future more than she was before?”
“Yoshiaki-sama, what does that mean, mon!?”
“That girl is unsure whether she will become a cowardly dog or a fighting dog.”
“In her position, no one would complain if she became a cowardly dog who only receives food and love. So no one would criticize her if she only ever wandered around and around, showing that she was small and powerless and others are large and powerful.” Yoshiaki held her fan up to her mouth. “Becoming a fighting dog is much the same. She must know herself and know her opponent, but the bite only takes an instant. And to bring about that instant, she must wander around and around to search them out, to get them to lower their guard, and to make bluffs. But…”
“But? But what, mon?”
The corners of Yoshiaki’s mouth rose at that question. And she let them stay that way as she responded.
“But you see…”
She repeated herself and focused her ears on the distant sounds of battle.
“A fighting dog seeks their final place. A place of rest. For the dogs who must take the longest journey to reach the place they most need to be, even if they learn how to fight, to defeat their opponent, and achieve a temporary home, they will always feel alone.”
“Do you know any dogs like that, mon?”
“Satomi’s previous Chancellor was one.”
“Will you be the same, Yoshiyasu? Even if you complete the preparations, complete the journey, and complete the cleanup, the path of a fighting dog is a long one. And…”
Yoshiaki laughed bitterly.
“I like the kind of child that goes to have some fun after doing what she must do.”
“The Ariake has begun moving forward at very low speed! Their trajectory is taking them toward our fleet!”
Ujinao placed a thoughtful hand on her chin at Kotarou’s report.
“Have us move back. After giving us 2 kilometers of space, maintain that distance as we move back toward Edo. …We will have the Azuchi pass behind us. With 2 kilometers of space, Righteousness should be able to strike back against us and the Azuchi.”
“Testament,” said Kotarou as she sent those instructions to the fleet.
Meanwhile, Ujinao opened a few sign frames around herself. On those, she lined up her instructions from Hashiba.
“The instructions document was made by Hashiba’s Ten Spears #9, Takenaka Hanbei. I’m not sure if I should call this method persistent or inescapable.”
Ujinao brushed a hand through her hair and looked up into the sky.
“But I have my own thoughts on the matter.”
“Kotarou, use high-precision long-range cannons. We have lost our chance for the mechanical phoenixes’ Descending Light Bombs. Tell Hashiba we will be wearing down the Ariake’s upper surface.”
Ujinao intertwined her fingers and looked to the Ariake in the sky.
“Now, I would appreciate it if you accepted my present to you.”
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