Horizon:Volume 5A Chapter 13
Chapter 13: Right Holders in the Heavens
What is it
That moves me?
Point Allocation (Yourself)
“I will hit it…!”
Asama used her entire body while wearing her shrine maiden uniform to fire her bow.
…I need to hurry.
She had to shoot something.
It was harmful to both the Ariake and Musashi.
Someone had to shoot it and expose it.
…And I can do it!
She opened Kataume and Katatsubaki, the two longbows attached to her left arm, and connected them as the single large longbow named Umetsubaki. And while she aimed it toward heaven and nocked an arrow…
Her binder skirt lifted up like clawed toes and pierced the spatial fixation spell circle displayed in the air. Then directionally-fixed spell circles appeared in torii form around her and spun with her gaze.
The continuous sounds reminded her of a musical instrument.
After that, picks were driven into the floor from either side of her shoes to fix her body in place. The tail binder on the back of her hips blew out some exhaust wind as it received an ether supply from the Asama Shrine sent to her via the Ariake.
Her false eye, Konoha, activated while linked with Umetsubaki. A targeting sight appeared, but she generally viewed her target with both eyes when firing.
There was nothing in the sky. But…
…It’s there, isn’t it?
Just as she took aim as if to ask that question…
Me: “Asama, give us one of your specialties.”
Her heart leapt in her chest as she glanced over at the sign frame producing Toori’s voice.
She actually wanted to tell him not to speak to her when she was trying to concentrate, but…
Hori-ko: “Asama-sama, if you are low on power, I can provide a battery for you.”
Asama: “Eh!? N-no, that won’t be necessary! I couldn’t ask that of a contracted member of our shrine!”
Silver Wolf: “But will you be okay? This is a pretty big one.”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. Don’t force yourself and then fail, okay? Right, foolish brother?”
Me: “Well, I bet Asama can handle something like this with ease. Right? You can, can’t you?”
“O-of course I can!”
She replied loud enough to reach them without the voice input, but that was fine as long as it got rid of their worries.
Before she could sigh, Hanami sensed her thoughts and began operating the sign frame.
“There’s nothing to worry about.”
She had made him worry about her during the meeting with Lady Yasuhira. But this was different. That had been about her position and personality, while this was simply about her ability and the Asama Shrine’s power.
To put it another way, that incident had told her that he truly trusted her.
So she knew what she had to tell him now.
“You’re telling me to go all out, aren’t you?”
“Yeah. Asama, you’re Musashi’s Shinto representative. So you’ve got this, right?”
“Yes. And I have never failed to fulfill my role during a formal bow firing. This will be no different.”
“But, well, if everyone’s expecting a lot from me, I guess I’ll dial the power up a bit.”
“Tomo! Tomo! You’re going that way!?”
You’re the ones that expect this of me.
Okay, Hanami, please raise the power. A 30% increase? Hmm, can we go even higher? A 35% increase? No, no. More than that. …40%? Hmm, let’s go with 50%. Yes, the others won’t accept it if we don’t go with a nice round number like that. Yes, yes, yes. If I make some adjustments, I can handle that just fine. Yes.
Oh, but if it looks like I’m trying too hard, it’ll look like I’m not confident which is the opposite of saying I’ve “got this” like Toori-kun said… Ah, what do I do? I can’t worry Toori-kun. I definitely can’t worry him in my position. Lower the-…I can’t lower the power now? It’s too late for that? I really can’t, Hanami?
Hmm, then what am I supposed to do…?
“Oh, Asama, it really does look like you’ve got this!”
Um, so Toori-kun sees cranking up the power like this as a part of saying I’ve “got this”? Yes, yes. That’s right. That’s right, isn’t it?
In that case, Hanami, everything is fine. A 50% increase is just fine.
Hee hee. Don’t you worry, Toori-kun. Horizon, Kimi, Mito? You three could learn a thing or two from Toori-kun about not worrying. Okay?
“Tomo! Tomo! What is that satisfied smile for!?”
Oh, c’mon. This is a job. Only a job. I just happen to enjoy my job.
A line of light raced diagonally through the night with no reduction in speed or altitude.
As the beam traveled into the night sky, it looked like a star from the Ariake.
Someone spoke up when they noticed something.
In that instant, several lines ran through the sky. They were definite cracks of light.
The crooked lines radiated outwards from the location of the previous “star”. And…
The sky suddenly broke apart.
It shattered like glass.
“A stealth barrier!?”
That was exactly what shattered and split.
Shards of the night collapsed and rotated as a large section of the night shed its white foggy shell.
There were 7 large falling shards and countless smaller ones.
Something previously unseen appeared in the sky.
It calmly hovered high in the dark blue night sky.
“A white three-hull ship…!”
Everyone knew its name and shape. It had 4 other ships with it, but the giant white ship in the lead looked down on them.
“Hashiba’s Shirasagi Castle!?”
A ship viewed the 2 white shapes in the southern sky.
It was the Aoba Castle, a half-god of war aircraft carrier aerial warship bearing the Date clan’s emblem.
A horned girl in a blue track suit stood on the deck. She gathered up a jump rope and wiped off her cheeks with the towel draped over her shoulders.
She looked to the southwest and gave a quick nod toward the Mogami fleet that was here to meet the Oushuu trade ships.
“I knew P.A. Oda’s Takigawa had been sent to monitor Houjou, but I didn’t think they would be watching from the sky during battles too. And keeping the additional ships with her during wartime is a very ninja-like level of readiness.”
Katakura-kun: “Poor, naïve Masamune-kun! You truly are naïve! You’re a sweet little thing! Sweet Masamune! When you’re that sweet, everyone’ll want to lick you, Masamune-kun! Now, you can lick me if you want, poor Masamune-kun! C’mon, take a lick of my Sendai beef…”
One-Eyed Dragon: “Did you make sure to drain the blood, slice it up nice and thin, and rub salt on it?”
Katakura-kun: “H-how could you suggest something so horrifying!? You’ve really said it now! Now I have no choice but to say something harsh as well! Like that your waist sticks out a fair bit.”
One-Eyed Dragon: “I don’t feel like dealing with you, so should I call my mom?”
Katakura-kun: “What kind of academy lets its Chancellor and Student Council President call for her mommy!? This kind!? It’s this kind, isn’t it? Is this the world’s first academy that lets the parents carry out executions!? I suppose I should expect nothing less from Sendai Castle’s Principal for 1000 generati-…eh? What is it, Principal Yoshihime? You’re only 10 years old? Splendid! Then let’s have a chat, 10-year-old Yoshihime-chan!”
“Listen,” said Katakura.
Katakura-kun: “Based on the perfect accuracy of the shot from below, Musashi’s Secretary most likely realized they were being monitored from above. Houjou’s reluctance to move their fleet up or down when falling back must have helped clue them in. And the previous exchange would have confirmed it. While Musashi was behind their thick defense barriers, Houjou fired on them and avoided the vital points.”
Katakura-kun: “There were barriers in front of those vital points and their stone spikes would only have been deflected, so they avoided those coordinates when firing. But those barriers in front of the vital points were not on the Ariake’s outside edge. They were on the inside.”
“So only someone looking down from above could have seen them? In that case…”
On the deck, Masamune raised her eyebrows a bit.
“Well done. That would be why Musashi’s Vice President said they wanted a friendly relationship with Houjou, wasn’t it?”
Katakura-kun: “It’s the perfect example of harassment diplomacy.”
Katakura spread his arms on the sign frame.
Katakura-kun: “Now, Houjou and P.A. Oda cannot ignore Musashi any longer. …The battlefield is about to change, Masamune-kun.”
“Ujinao-sama! Let’s support the Shirasagi Castle! We can ascend and attack the Ariake!”
Ujinao had a single response to Kotarou’s words: silence.
She said nothing, raised her eyebrows. And…
She opened a sign frame by her hands. It displayed the visual footage sent to them by the Shirasagi Castle. That footage had been surrounded by a white defense barrier before, but…
…That has changed.
The image she sensed through the hand on the sign frame showed the night sky and the Ariake’s upper surface down below.
The white color came from the fog, not the armor. Several students and gods of war stood atop that thin fog.
The Shirasagi Castle had been sending them their coordinates before. The automatons on the ship had exchanged that data with their Houjou comrades and reconstructed an image of their opponents using the coordinate data. And the resultant diagram of enemy positions had been taken into account during their attack.
That meant this was Ujinao’s first time to truly sense those on the opponent’s battlefield.
He was not there.
Of course, even if he was a student, he was a normal citizen without an official position. He was not in a position to actively participate on the battlefield.
But Ujinao sensed a self-deprecating smile on her lips in response to the mixture of relief and disappointment she felt.
“Ujinao-sama!” shouted Kotarou. “We need to do a favor for P.A. Oda here!”
But Ujinao could not respond to her. After all, her own senses could already see what Musashi would do now.
Musashi was flying along the coast of Kantou and they could make an attack which would affect Houjou, P.A. Oda, and Mouri.
…And they forcibly set this up by saying they wanted a friendly relationship with us!
Ujinao used the Shirasagi Castle’s sight devices.
Atop the rectangular cloud of fog down below, someone launched an attack on the Shirasagi Castle.
The distance was about 2km.
The attack that covered that distance was not a god of war cannon blast.
Nor was it a shot from a Technohexen broom or a beam from their hunter shaman. The attack that would move the world came from…
“Mito Lord Nate Mitotsudaira!?”
Silver chains and great strength were used to swing something up and around at extremely high speed.
The silver wolf threw…
“One of our stone spikes!”
Mitotsudaira accelerated her entire body.
She poured speed into the silver chain she held in her hands and she ordered the silver chain itself to accelerate.
She gave her body a burst of speed and repeatedly accelerated within a radius of 30cm.
She seemed to be pursuing her hair as she swung it around.
…I look like a dog chasing its tail…!
But that amused her.
While this looked like a child’s game, she was confident this action would leave its mark on the history of the world. It amused her that she could sense that weight in her hands.
Setting the world in motion might be surprisingly easy.
Each time her vision sped up, she whirled around once more. That vision looked out to the Houjou stone spike held by the silver chain. She had caught one after “Musashi” had deflected it with a defense barrier.
“Lu lu lu.”
With a singsong howl, Mitotsudaira shifted her axis.
She tilted her heels, passed by where her king and the others were watching, and yet let her skirt flutter up while she stretched her arms and legs into the air as if to show off her entire body.
She poured on the last burst of speed.
Her hair, body, and clothing pierced the wind and split the air.
She threw it.
In an instant, an explosion of water vapor appeared at the tip of the thrown stone spike and a great roar burst out.
Within the high altitude fog, Mitotsudaira exited her spin by landing on just her right heel.
“How about that!?”
On the Shirasagi Castle’s bridge, Acting Captain Takigawa Ichimasu had to make a decision.
The bridge looked deserted, but it was run by a covert ninja unit. Several Garudas and Djinns ran around, carrying insha kotob, using spells, and disappearing.
But Takigawa crossed her arms at the back of the bridge.
What would she do about this pressing decision?
She had two options: defend against the enemy attack, or take the hit.
There was one thing she had to ask before deciding.
“Can our defense barrier stop that stone spike!?”
“Shaja! It can!”
I see, she thought while opening an insha kotob by her hands.
It displayed a simple map of the Far East showing the arrangement of P.A. Oda’s primary Kinki forces. On there, she saw Shibata, Hashiba, Akechi, Sassa, Maeda, some others, and herself.
Most of them had taken up positions near Kinki. Shibata in particular had pulled back from his invasion of Sviet Rus and was returning to M.H.R.R.
But she was in Kantou.
At the moment, she was the only officer-class commander in Kantou. So…
…Should I defend this position with my life?
She considered it, but her decision did not take long.
She raised her right hand and gave her instructions.
Ujinao sensed Takigawa’s decision as well as the result and beginning of everything.
The Shirasagi Castle took a direct hit from the stone spike.
After a thunderous noise, there was the great roar of the giant metal structure being struck.
The Shirasagi Castle took damage to…
…The bottom of the central ship’s port bow.
The external hull had been pierced, but it would not have reached the internal hull. A warship of the Shirasagi Castle’s class would be structured to eliminate the force of a blow between the external and internal hulls even if it was hit by an armor-piercing physical shell.
But damage to the external hull was a problem for an aerial ship. If they did not deal with it in some way, The Shirasagi Castle would be unable to make use of its high-speed cruising or ultra-high altitude ascent.
“Ujinao-sama! A second one…!”
The information from the Shirasagi Castle’s sight devices grew black.
The Musashi had launched a second stone spike into the sky.
And that second one had slammed into the Shirasagi Castle.
Alarms blared within the Shirasagi Castle’s bridge and central ship.
…That was my decision.
She had taken the hit without raising any defense barriers.
She faced forward without lowering her raised right hand.
The night sky lay in that direction, but the insha kotob on the front end of the bridge’s ceiling displayed the Ariake down below.
She saw the Musashi group there.
Instead of looking down on them, she looked straight at them.
“Shaja. We took hits to 2 locations on the bottom of the port bow. By using buffering spells, we can cruise at our semi-top speed and semi-greatest altitude. It will take 2 hours to fully repair the damage.”
“We don’t have that kind of time.” Takigawa smiled. “Main cannon, other cannons, shift aim from Houjou to the Ariake.”
Hearing that question, Takigawa waved her raised right hand forward.
She laughed before continuing.
“I still have some desires. I want to stay with you all and I hope I can be involved with our master’s end.”
“If they want us to be indebted to them, we need to show Musashi what exactly that means.”
An elderly voice rose from the center of the bridge. It spoke clearly.
“We shall accompany you.”
A few footsteps and presences moved to the center of the bridge. They lined up while unable to see each other.
Takigawa nodded. Then she raised her right hand and her voice.
“This ship shall now join the battle! Our enemy is the Ariake and the Musashi. We are fighting because they attacked us in Houjou’s place. Meaning…”
“I, Takigawa Ichimasu, and my subordinates shall begin the history recreation of the Battle of Kanagawa! Once this battle is over, we shall return to P.A. Oda and take up position as our master’s guardian!!”
Sounds of cannon fire raced out.
High in the sky, the white three-hull ship fired several times as many cannon blasts on the flat plane of white fog.
The sky became an expanse of great noise and the plane of fog became a garden of protective walls and the light of their shattering.
The three-hull ship had greater altitude.
But the white plane had far greater size.
And a single pair of eyes watched them. In the northwestern sky, a nine-tailed fox stood on a three-hull ship called the Yamagata Castle. She viewed the progress of the attack.
“They both have excellent resolve…!”
“Yoshiaki-sama! What do you mean, mon!?”
“Testament. The Musashi placed the future on the scales for all to see.”
Yoshiaki laughed from her throat.
“There is another battle leading up to the Tensho Jingo Conflict fought between Houjou and Matsudaira. That is the Battle of Kanagawa in which Houjou drives out Takigawa Ichimasu who Oda sent in to observe them. So once they realized Takigawa’s Shirasagi Castle was monitoring them and sending information to Houjou, Musashi must have made a certain decision: Even if they pursued Houjou and attempted to start the Tensho Jingo Conflict, it might not count with Takigawa Ichimasu still around.”
But Houjou could not drive out Takigawa. After all, Houjou and P.A. Oda were currently allies, and…
…Houjou cannot make the first move with P.A. Oda and Hashiba’s forces in Edo.
If they betrayed that alliance, they could not complain about any retaliation they received.
“Hashiba likely gave thought to this. They intentionally used the southern route when sending the Azuchi to the invasion of Mouri in order to place Houjou in the middle.”
“And that’s why Houjou can’t attack Takigawa, mon?”
“If they can, it is only when Hashiba wants them to. While they control Houjou from Edo, they will defeat Mouri and then wait until the time is right for Nobunaga’s assassination. Only after that would they give Houjou permission to defeat Takigawa.” Yoshiaki narrowed her eyes and looked into the southern sky. “Until then, Matsudaira would have essentially been trapped inside Kantou.”
But now Takigawa had begun a battle with Musashi.
That battle had been begun by a single statement by Musashi’s Vice President.
“You wish to enter a friendly relationship with Houjou, hm? Those words certainly have a wide range of interpretations.”
“Indeed,” said a voice.
It came from a sign frame that had opened by her side. It was from Date.
“Masamune? Is Yoshihime doing well?”
“Thanks to you. But about the Battle of Kanagawa that is beginning…”
“Testament. You understand, don’t you? …Words are worth a thousand pieces of gold. Perhaps even 10 thousand or a million pieces.”
Musashi’s Vice President had concluded that Houjou could not attack Takigawa and then reached a certain decision.
“She decided they would ‘assist’ Houjou by attacking Takigawa as a separate unit.”
That was very vague, thought Masamune.
When Musashi’s Vice President had said they wished to enter a friendly relationship with Houjou, it had been a hope not supported by actual ability, so it had been easily written off as unimportant.
Musashi had used that vagueness to make an attack on Takigawa. They had meant it in a very specific way…
…They will take care of driving out Tachikawa Ichimasu as a sign of their friendship with Houjou.
And they had used a certain something to do that: Houjou’s stone spikes.
By declaring friendship with Houjou and then using Houjou’s own weapons, they were taking over Houjou’s driving out of Takigawa.
That held two meanings.
Katakura-kun: “Musashi was able to measure whether or not Houjou viewed them in a friendly fashion and whether or not they wanted to drive out P.A. Oda! And when Takigawa brings the fight to them, Musashi can handle it themselves to leave Houjou indebted to them! That’s some nice wordless understanding! They show their intentions with their actions without speaking a word. Don’t you think that’s great, Masamune-kun!? You may never say you like me, but you can show it with your actions! C’mon, c’mon, bring it oooon!! …Why won’t you bring it on!? Why not!?”
“And the other reason is to search out Takigawa’s true intentions, I suppose.”
What a pain. Without Narumi and Oniniwa here, I have to deal with him more often, thought Masamune.
“Takigawa hesitated, didn’t she?”
“P.A. Oda must be an excellent nation,” said Yoshiaki over the divine transmission.
Masamune nodded. After all…
…Takigawa didn’t have to take those stone spikes.
But she had done so anyway. And not just that…
“There was also a pause before the cannon fire.”
She had hesitated. Because firing on Musashi could easily establish the Battle of Kanagawa.
…Even if it’s no more than an empty claim from Musashi, it will cause sparks.
As long as she remained in Kantou, the Kantou and Oushuu forces could use “whether or not Musashi’s attack counted as the Battle of Kanagawa” as a bargaining chip against Takigawa and the Edo Hashiba group.
Masamune would do the same.
It was a small chip when it came to the battles from after Nobunaga’s assassination, but that would change if more forces accepted it as the Battle of Kanagawa.
Takigawa had likely hesitated because her role was to keep Musashi in Kantou.
“The vagueness of the Musashi Vice President’s statement is a problem. If she had definitively stated that they would enter a friendly relationship with Houjou, Takigawa would have ended it by saying Musashi was forcibly intervening.”
But that was not what had happened.
And so Takigawa had decided to start the Battle of Kanagawa. But…
“As you said, aunt, P.A. Oda must be an excellent nation.”
“Who is this aunt you speak of?”
“You are something of an older sister to my mother. Then again, my mother is apparently only 10 years old, so my aunt must be young too.”
“I like honest girls.” Yoshiaki laughed bitterly. “Takigawa must have decided to return to P.A. Oda.”
“Testament. According to the Testament, after Takigawa loses the Battle of Kanagawa and returns home, she joins the Battle of Shizugatake, but she loses again. After a cold reception from Hashiba, she joins the Battle of Komaki Nagakute, but loses after holing up in a castle and receiving no supplies. After that, the rest of her life is uneventful.”
Even so, Takigawa wished to return to P.A. Oda.
“This will be the history recreation of the Battle of Kanagawa. This battle is the beginning of the end for Takigawa. If she understands that and wishes to return home, she will make it a triumphant return instead of a defeat. …Let your guard down and you will be devoured, Musashi. After all, Takigawa’s position as an observer has given her the Urban Name of Demon Guardian.”
Amid the din of cannon fire, Takigawa ordered the engine division work team to fix the stone spikes in place where they had pierced the hull. At this point, the ship would have more stability with them fixed in place than trying to remove them and repair the damage.
She spoke her strategy to the ship secretary and had them hurry to write it down and carry out the initial actions.
She also gave direct commands to place their personnel.
…Now I’m headed for the end of my enjoyable time as an active commander.
Once she returned to P.A. Oda, only defeats awaited her. She might be able to forcibly involve herself in other battles just to remain on the battlefield, but everyone had their own troops. So…
“This is the last real battlefield for me.”
She placed her hand on the command platform and gave her orders.
“All hands, including the 4 accompanying ships, prepare to attack. …The enemy is the Ariake and the Musashi down below. Sinking them both would be ideal. Our goal is to make a triumphant return to P.A. Oda.”
“Do not hold back. …Do not hold back with yourself. Got that?”
|Back to Chapter 12||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 14|