Horizon:Volume 5A Chapter 16
Chapter 16: Higher One on the Stage
This is where it truly begins
It had not yet truly begun
This is where it truly begins
It has to truly begin here
Point Allocation (Show up and you’re the star)
Maska Orge was fired in a surprise attack.
As screams of surprise and shouts of confusion rose from the top of the Ariake, Muneshige viewed the enemy’s actions. A question rose to his lips on reflex.
“Did it hit!?”
“Master Muneshige, why don’t you sound very hopeful?”
“Gin, the Logismoi Oplo…are not easy to hit with.”
Gold Mar: “Is that a new universal interpretation?”
Vice President: “If only I was that mentally tough…”
Righteousness: “You have some guts saying that…”
He did not entirely understand, but it seemed he had risen to the top of Class 3-Plum’s mental caste. Amore.
But he was more interested in the result of firing the Logismoi Oplo.
“Gin, what are Maska Orge’s effects again?”
“Judge. It does not hit your allies and it hits your enemies.”
That was wonderfully simple, so Muneshige asked a further question to hear Gin’s thoughts on the matter.
“Gin, what do you think about the scene before us here?”
“Judge.” Gin nodded. “They have collapsed.”
“…Is that so?”
It actually feels kind of sad when it does hit, thought Muneshige.
Is this what it is like to have deep love for a problem child? But…
“Master Muneshige,” said Gin. “That is…one of the dolls we saw the other day!”
As Gin’s shout raced out, the first to catch on was Tenzou.
Naruze noticed a moment later, thanks to her own experience.
And from behind her…
“This is one that Isa left behind. It was going to be ejected because there was no way to maintain it, but it can be of some use like this.”
She heard Kakei’s voice.
Then she heard a mechanical voice followed by something other than one of Kakei’s bullets.
Explosions erupted at close range.
Explosive flames burst in the night.
After some cannon blasts from the sky, flames and smoke rose from the floating floor.
But something happened to the explosive fire launched toward Musashi’s main force.
“Into the sky…!”
The flames and smoke flew through the air like they had been hit up by a racket.
The roasting and bursting noises illuminated the night sky like a bonfire.
All of the explosions had been knocked back up. And it had been done by…
Urquiaga spoke to Date Narumi. She wore a dark green track suit over her prosthetic limbs and she held a mandible sword in each hand. As she viewed Mochizuki in front of her, the objects that had sent the enemy explosions skyward fell back down.
They were several dozen mandible swords.
Narumi had spatially ejected them and instantly attacked with them.
They vanished before they could hit the Ariake’s upper surface.
“I appreciate that you’ve come to me. That means I can take you on even after leaving Date.”
“Narumi,” said Urquiaga. “You could draw those swords without Unturning Centipede?”
“…Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever introduced myself.”
“…Why do you always answer me with such sarcasm? That is no way to treat a holy man, you know? Didn’t you know defying a holy man is a good way of ending up in hell?”
“If that happens, the holy man will come save me.”
“The trouble you put me through,” said Urquiaga before looking forward.
The automaton named Mochizuki was there. The half-dragon then faced Narumi.
“Need any help?”
“That is some trouble I will not put you through.”
“Is that so?” Urquiaga sighed and looked at Narumi in her track suit. “I am currently playing an elder sister porn game from the gym clothes genre.”
“That’s quite the complimentary excuse there.”
“No,” he replied. “That genre had never quite clicked with me. But…”
He patted her shoulder from behind.
“I just realized it can be pretty nice from time to time.”
“Unturning Centipede is being repaired after I burned out the joints in the Seiryu battle, so I’ll be dressed like this or in my uniform for the time being.”
“Then I need to purchase something from the school uniform genre.”
Narumi sighed and leaned forward.
“It would seem I need to buy some more clothes.”
With that, she raced forward.
Explosions signaled the beginning of the battle and clashing swords signaled the continuation.
Of the Musashi group surrounding the crossdresser, Mitotsudaira, Gin, and Muneshige took the defensive role.
They all hurried toward Naomasa’s sniper god of war unit. They escaped behind the armor panel shields held by the gods of war and below the defense barriers prepared for the sniping.
But a few of them had chosen to remain in the center and fight.
One of those was Futayo.
…Explosion spells are quite troublesome!
She took a combat stance as several explosive flames rose from the Ariake’s upper surface like walls.
And a moment later…
She sensed a sudden presence and swung her head half its width to the right. The deer horn sensor she wore in her hair swayed, informing her something was approaching.
And she sensed something where her left ear had been a moment before.
She sensed the pressure and heard the blowing of wind. It suddenly appeared along a straight line and passed by.
It did not fly past her. An unexpected noise had split the air.
“This is…!” shouted Futayo. “A ghost!”
“It’s a shot from a ninja technique, you idiot!”
A tall and slender figure stood beyond the flames to her right. They were 7 meters away and facing her.
One of the Sanada Ten Braves, she realized.
…He had a hard-to-write family name, didn’t he?
I think he had a number in his name, but I would feel bad if I got it wrong.
Then he spoke to her.
“I’ll take you on, Honda Futayo. I think we’ll be a good match.”
“Is that so?” Futayo nodded. “In other words, you think we would be a good match for having sex.”
“Hold it, Azuma. Where do you think you’re going?”
“Eh? Oh, u-um, just to get more tea. Ha ha…ha ha ha.”
“Papa just spat out all his tea.”
The entire battlefield ground to a halt.
Other than the automatically controlled ones, even the shellfire from overhead stopped. All focus was on Kakei who was frozen in place and sweating profusely and Futayo who stood in front of him.
“I am still inexperienced, but doing it with someone skilled will allow us to work together, give it our all, and have a more fulfilling experience.”
“…That would need to be censored.”
“Yes, there would be some blood. But…” Futayo looked satisfied. “Feeling yourself reach greater heights like that is a wonderful thing. Personally, I see it as a kind of sport that lets you work up a sweat.”
“Fulfilling, you say?”
“Indeed. Lately, I have been kept very busy having sex with Kimi-dono. Isn’t that right, Kimi-dono?”
“Kimi! Kimi! This is where both Naruze and Masazumi failed spectacularly, but let’s try to use this to negate your usual behavior! Okay!? Okay!?”
“Heh heh. Asama, you’ve been having sex with me too, haven’t you!? Along with my foolish brother, Horizon, and Mitotsudaira! You often come to our place to have sex, don’t you!? And when my foolish brother gives you what you came for, you say, ‘N-no, it’s so hot. It’s so hot, Toori-kun.’ or ‘Um, I want some bigger meat than this.’ ”
“Waaaaiiiiit!! How could you say that on an international broadcast!? How could you!?”
Asama grabbed the collar of Kimi’s track suit and shook her, but the idiot sister did not care. Mitotsudaira was trapped in a state of equal parts blushing and dumbstruck, but Kimi spoke to Futayo.
“Futayo, we had sex in front of everyone during the special student general assembly, didn’t we?”
“Judge.” The samurai girl lightly raised Tonbo Spare. “I was reborn by that sex. I may have that to thank for what happened at the end of Novgorod the other day. Fukushima Masanori-dono and I repeatedly swapped positions and traded spears as we had some very fulfilling sex.”
Kiyo-Massive: “…Fukushima-sama, what were you doing back there?”
Llaf: “I…honestly do not remember that happening… Perhaps I hit my head and forgot all about it when I was slammed into the wall at the end…”
Kakei heard Unno and Mochizuki’s voices far behind him.
They were keeping their distance and speaking with a ninja technique.
“Kakei may not look it, but he’s quite lewd.”
“Is he a beast?”
“I didn’t say this!” he shouted back at them. “And I don’t understand it any more than you do!”
But as he frowned below his hat, he asked a question.
“Just out of curiosity…what do you intend to do with me?”
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor answered him with a deep nod. And…
Futayo sensed that she had cut the smoke and air before her eyes as well as the figure beyond them.
She did not see it with her eyes. The hit was confirmed by something more like tactile feedback or a sensation that should not have been there.
But she kept moving. She turned to face behind her.
…He circled around…!
There was a skinny person there.
It was the enemy.
The ninja had already made his way behind her.
There was no point in asking when. The enemy was a ninja. Attacking from beyond their enemy’s senses was their specialty.
…Of course, that is only against someone who is too dangerous to face head-on.
Did that mean she was somewhat dangerous to them? In that case…
…I need to be even more dangerous!
Kakei arrived behind Musashi’s Vice Chancellor.
…She has speed, but…
Her bodily control at high speeds was still poor. Or so he thought.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor had spun around in front of him.
The movement looked slow, but it was anything but. Not even he was sure how to perceive it, but this movement was nothing like how she had moved back at IZUMO.
All he knew was that she had acceleration spells shining from all across her body.
None of them shattered and she was definitely guiding them.
The movements looked so slow he could reach out and grab her.
But they were precise.
Kakei watched his opponent. His ninja technique was fired like a gun. That meant to draw a line between him and his enemy. And so…
…I can understand her movements!
He watched and he reached his conclusion.
Unno saw Kakei quickly slide-step to the right to shift his position from Musashi’s Vice Chancellor.
He did not move away. That was his pride as a ninja. But…
…What is that?
Unno saw something at the end of Kakei’s evasion.
It was a dance.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor was dancing.
As someone who worshiped an entertainer god, Unno found her footwork and movements sloppy and amateurish.
But the girl was definitely pursuing Kakei.
She was precise.
When she saw the girl’s line of movement, Unno realized these were the movements of a beginner dancer on the cusp of reaching the intermediate level.
This was the joy of realizing what it meant to express something through dance. Musashi’s Vice Chancellor demonstrated that joy of understanding in the way she bent her body and the way she moved her hands, legs, elbows, knees, and hips.
It was sloppy.
But that was why its essence showed through.
This was the essence of combat.
It was a dance of nothing more than defeating the enemy and keeping yourself alive.
“Kakei! Don’t underestimate her!”
Of course, he would not do that.
That was exactly why he had shifted his position.
Kakei had an innate sense for shooting. That was why he was in charge of guiding Nezu who also used a firing technique. From his perspective, Musashi’s Vice Chancellor’s movements must have looked like she was going to “shoot him”.
And so he had shifted his position.
And because he had dodged his opponent’s first shot…
…Now he attacks!
Kakei took a combat stance.
He stuck his hands back in his pants pockets.
With that word, a gunshot rang out.
Mitotsudaira saw Futayo sent flying.
It looked like she had been shot. And behind her…
Horizon raised her eyebrows and started forward from the group.
Mitotsudaira was briefly surprised by that reaction.
Horizon had the emotion of anger.
That had been a reflexive emotion upon realizing Futayo had been taken out. It was an impulse that moved her body before she could translate her thoughts into words. Horizon had that now.
That’s wonderful, thought Mitotsudaira.
…Horizon does not lament, cry, and feel sad when one of us is taken out.
She would also have the emotion of sorrow.
Beyond that was her greed for being with the others. When viewed as a desire, it was a triflingly small and thus difficult to obtain luxury. And when that desire was broken, Horizon grew angry.
After her anger, Horizon would probably feel sorrow.
So Mitotsudaira spoke.
“Horizon, it will be okay.”
She gestured with her chin for Horizon to look forward.
Futayo was spinning her body even as she flew backwards.
“The Soaring Wings on her body have not shattered. Futayo is still fighting.”
Futayo had taken immediate action against Kakei’s attack.
She had first defended by raising Tonbo Spare’s blade right next to her right ear.
But nothing came there.
Something did arrive in the 2 or 3 centimeter gap between the blade and her ear.
It was not a noise. It was a stillness faster than sound, like an aftershock in the air.
She sensed danger, so she twisted her head and then her entire body.
She leaped using her upper-body weight, starting with her head.
She ended up leaning backwards, but it was not enough. The still aftershock spread to cover her cheek as well, so…
“The extension device…!”
She launched Tonbo Spare’s bottom end toward the ground to accelerate herself.
She more powerfully spun backwards and made a compact midair backflip.
As soon as she flipped onto her back in midair, something passed by in front of her chin.
It was a bullet. Her night vision was not perfectly clear, but she saw the bullet as it briefly reflected the light of the shellfire.
In that case, thought Futayo. His ninja technique had to be…
…I have no idea!
How had he sent a bullet into the space between Tonbo Spare’s raised blade and her face?
Isn’t that a little too convenient?
If he had something that convenient, she would really like to know how to do it. That kind of ninja technique would really make fighting easier.
So she thought: Could he teach me that technique?
…Do I need to prostrate?
She was performing a midair backflip, so it would be possible to land in a prostration.
If she did so, would it surprise him?
But was there any point in surprising him?
Just as Futayo tried to figure out what to do, she sensed the enemy moving. The second shot was coming.
Wait, she thought. You still haven’t taught me that ninja technique.
So she raised her voice.
Kakei was initially confused by Futayo’s words.
…Eh? No fair?
No, wait, he thought. Isn’t that how ninja techniques are supposed to work? After all, a ninja was someone forced to fight while outnumbered and it was their job to steal information from enemy territory and get back alive.
When you were an individual fighting multiple samurai, how could you hope to play fair?
But once he thought about it, he realized he only had one opponent here.
Logically, this might indeed be unfair. After all, ninja techniques were meant for when one was outnumbered, but he was using them against an individual.
But, reconsidered Kakei while making an excuse to himself.
You’re a Vice Chancellor, ain’tcha?
And I’m Unneeded and at the same level as a Special Duty Officer… No, a little higher than that. Just a little, little bit higher! That’s what I am. So if I’m up against a Vice Chancellor…
“It isn’t unfair at all.”
He aimed his second shot.
He aimed for her lower stomach as she made her backflip and prepared to land. He was reluctant to target a woman’s stomach, but a bullet wound to the stomach could pierce the internal organs and the bleeding was hard to stop. He concluded that dying from blood loss would be cleaner and feel better than having her head smashed apart.
And he fired.
Mitotsudaira saw Futayo move.
For some reason, she had been trying to decide whether or not to fold her legs underneath her in midair. And then Kakei prepared to fire at her lower stomach.
Mitotsudaira had no idea how, but his attacks occurred at point-blank range.
With Futayo’s reaction speed and with Soaring Wings still active, she could dodge it, but…
…Her landing pose is a mess!
Like this, trying to dodge after landing would cause too great a time lag. And any lag here would be deadly.
Mitotsudaira thought about intervening, but Kakei was poorly positioned for that. He was somewhat hidden from her by Futayo.
Perhaps that was his ninja sense at work.
In that case, she thought. I’ll knock Futayo out of the way with my silver chains the instant she lands.
Mitotsudaira saw something happen.
Futayo looked down with an “Oh?” on her face.
Of course, the only thing below her was the Ariake’s roof. That was obvious.
But Futayo’s expression made it look like she could not figure out why that surface was there.
…Don’t tell me she got distracted!
Kakei’s gunshot rang out.
Futayo landed at the same moment, but it was not a landing.
As she fell with her knees and hands first, light exploded between her and the Ariake’s upper surface.
The acceleration spell lost control as she failed to connect her landing into her next action. And as a result…
Futayo was blasted high into the sky, effectively jumping over the bullet fired downward.
Inside the Ariake and on the Musashi, Heidi was inside the basement of the Marube-ya Musashino Shop on the Musashi’s surface.
This was a sturdily-built block that would likely survive even if the Musashi fell apart. It was used to store deeds and seals, and for Heidi…
…It’s a safe place for work even during battle~
Of course, she had not told the others about this place. Only Asama who managed the Musashi’s interior would know about it, but the modifications had been made confidentially and Asama would only think it was a basement.
Yes, they shouldn’t know about it. Probably. Surely. I hope they haven’t found out…
At any rate, it was nice having somewhere for work during battle. Shirojiro was up above driving hard bargains on the expendable goods needed during battle. Heidi was supporting him from here, but…
“Heidi! Did you see the footage from up top!?”
“Eh!? Shiro-kun! Did someone die!? There aren’t any of them we won’t get insurance money for, are there!?”
“No, it isn’t that! Look at this!”
She saw recorded footage sent with a 5 second delay.
It showed Futayo being launched into the air. She seemed to have messed up her landing, but some kind of force had launched her back up and she managed to correct her position. And…
“That’s one of the Top 16 Merchant Prostrations! The Launch Prostration!!”
Kakei looked up in the air.
A prostration flew through the night sky.
…What the hell is this!?
I have no idea what’s going on, he honestly admitted. I came here to fight, but I feel like it’s just been one weird thing after another.
Oh, right. Before leaving, Anayama said Musashi is a dangerous place, but it looks like he was right.
This is so strange.
But then a dancer with gaudy hair spoke from the Musashi group.
“She’s tightened up her body’s axis, so she can correct her position even when she’s sent flying. She used to get stuck in a wild spin. …Heh heh. Heidi and Shirojiro must be freaking out right now.”
Then the dancer looked to Kakei.
She winked and mimicked a handgun with her hand.
“Watch out, or I’ll say ‘bang’ or something!”
Kakei did not think, What are you talking about?
Nor did he think, Ridiculous.
He did not even think, That doesn’t even mean anything.
…I’ve more or less figured it out.
He had boarded this ship once before at IZUMO. He had mostly been a guest then, so even on the inside, he had only thought of it as a “lively place” as if viewing it from the outside. But…
“So that’s it.”
He made a turning slide to the right.
It was a quick rotation. The force of it swung around the bottom of his summer uniform’s shirt.
A spear tip flew into the position his head had just left.
It was Tonbo Spare.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor had landed behind him in her Launch Prostration and then she had attacked.
Kakei dodged the spear tip to the right.
He spun his body, looked back over his shoulder to view the enemy, and indeed saw Musashi’s Vice Chancellor.
In that case, the plan must have been for the dancer to distract him long enough for the Vice Chancellor to attack from behind. But…
…That’s not it.
It was an adlib.
The dancer’s distraction and the Vice Chancellor’s attack had seemed coordinated, but they had not been. Most likely, the dancer had either noticed or predicted the Vice Chancellor’s attack and decided on her own to distract him.
The end result was the same as coordination, but it was an adlibbed assist.
In other academies, that was done by firing at the enemy, not distracting them with an idiot.
“But you all don’t have weapons.”
The Far East had been disarmed.
As a ninja, he knew very well how people would fight under those conditions.
First, they would lure the enemy onto a battlefield that gave them an advantage, such as a forest with lots of obstacles or their home village.
There they would use decoys and traps to disturb the enemy, prevent them from taking another step forward, and place them in a convenient point to attack them.
Only then would those with means of attacking be sent in, but even that would be done with the others’ assistance.
These people were the same.
For the ninja, fighting in the forest or their home gave them an advantage.
But these people used something else instead:
…Each one of them is like a tree in the forest.
None of them were incompetent.
They placed the incompetent one at the top.
And to keep that incompetent one alive, they created a forest from themselves, disturbed the enemy, and occasionally attacked.
It could look like they were being silly due to the person at the top, but…
…That’s just the kind of forest it is.
The Far East had no weapons and everything had been taken from them. So when they had joined together and started for the battlefield, they had to have had a single thought in mind: We’ve got no choice.
Some of them were not used to fighting and some of them were utter amateurs, but they still did everything they could to intervene.
It was all supported by Shinto. They had the power of substitutions and their individual skills.
So there was a lot of waste, but they were fearsome indeed when it fit together properly. When viewed as a fighting style, their unusual actions could take them to great heights.
What is this? thought Kakei.
It was not Sanada’s “forest”. Nor was it P.A. Oda’s “battlefield”.
I have no idea.
So he moved. He reminded himself this was enemy territory and that the enemy had made sure they would have the advantage here.
As he turned around, light arrived from the corner of his left eye.
It was Tonbo Spare. The racing tip gave a twist and reflected the left side of his face. And a moment later…
“Bind! Tonbo Spare…!”
Futayo realized her attack had failed.
She saw Kakei moving. And he was continuing his previous path around her.
He was trying to move behind her.
…Did I miss!?
No, Tonbo Spare’s cutting had worked. But…
Bullets had struck the left side of Tonbo Spare’s blade.
The tactile feedback reaching the shaft told her it was 5 shots. They had not been fired simultaneously, she felt a slight time lag between them, and each of them had struck at a different angle.
They had hit and shook the blade just before the judgment was made for the cutting power.
As a result, the cutting lock had been disturbed.
“Requires effort,” said Tonbo Spare.
The cutting was produced in a broken form. So…
“Well, I’m not exactly unscathed.”
As Kakei slid his feet around in the right corner of her vision, she saw a cut in his hat, face, and cheek.
But that was all.
And he said more as he moved behind her.
“I said we’re a good match, didn’t I?”
…Indeed you did!
Futayo tried to turn around, but…
Another point-blank series of bullets slammed into Tonbo Spare’s tip.
She was delayed getting the tip back in place.
Futayo sensed danger from the left side of her back. That was the opposite side from Kakei, but she sensed a bullet there.
Futayo immediately dodged and raised her voice.
“I still have no idea!”
Kakei could tell Musashi’s Vice Chancellor had dodged his bullet when he heard it graze her.
…That’s pretty amazing.
But now he was in danger.
After all, this was an away game in enemy territory. The enemy would coordinate through adlibs.
And this was not an official duel. Sanada was making an attack and Musashi was fighting back.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor had just dodged his attack.
There would be a short delay before she attacked him next.
Normally, he would be left alone in that time. But…
“You all are different, aren’t you?”
He heard a very familiar noise behind him. It was the sound of several rifles aiming his way. An anti-personnel formation had been put together in response to Sanada’s arrival atop the Ariake.
Based on the sound, it was 27 Far Eastern IZUMO-made muzzle-loading matchlock FMG-0071 Kaede-Uchi. 11 of the gunners were amateurs. And the number who properly had him in their line of fire was…
…Well, I’ll manage.
As soon as he thought that, he heard the firing spells open behind him.
“This is more like it. A ninja’s gotta be outnumbered.”
Several gunshots were fired toward his back.
Asama saw the result brought about by the enemy.
She too had a good firing sense. Well, maybe a little. Not all that much.
In her opinion, the Musashi firing squad had demonstrated fairly accurate marksmanship. The rifles that Musashi IZUMO supplied for the guard unit had longish barrels, but that helped increase their accuracy and reduced the number of wasted bullets.
To supply divine protections, the Asama Shrine helped control the targeting spells and some of the internal structures, so of the 27 bullets, at least 19 flew toward Kakei’s back 30 meters away.
That was certain.
But what happened next was different.
Sparks flew from Kakei’s back.
And not just from one spot. The number was exact:
Kakei was unharmed.
She knew what had happened. He had deflected them with gunshots of his own.
Asama realized that this ninja could fire more than one bullet at a time.
His back stood in the battlefield as if to say that singlehandedly taking on a multitude was what made him a ninja.
“Heh heh. That, um, Isa girl from the other day was the same. …For someone calling herself Unneeded, she did quite well.”
“…And those people are going to be our enemy.”
“I think they already are,” pointed out Mitotsudaira.
Just as Asama nodded in agreement…
Kakei’s back vanished.
He had moved. Futayo was already changing her stance.
She resumed fighting too quickly to follow.
Asama’s eyes had trouble seeing the movements of this ground battle. Her left eye, Konoha, gave her additional information, but she could see nothing beyond that. Their movements were fast and tricky, so they were never in the position she expected.
But that meant one thing:
…Futayo is moving at the same level as him!
Futayo had chosen to disturb her own movements.
What she did was simple: swing her body at high speed to make sure her opponent could not target her.
She was adding an unpredictable element to her dodging and feints.
“Moving at random!”
Kakei answered her shout.
“What idiot explains their technique?”
“I prefer to play fair!”
“…Hah. Then bring it on, honest girl.”
She brought it.
Her father had been good at this. He would readily distract her in battle by suddenly looking to the side and shouting “Ah!” or taking two right steps in a row and saying “Oops”.
Kazuno had been good at seeing through those tricks. Whenever he had tried one during practice, Futayo recalled her glaring at him and hitting him as hard as she could with the shaft of her spear.
That was so nostalgic.
And now she had to do that nostalgic thing herself. After all…
…My goal is to inherit the name of Tadakatsu!
So she moved forward using Soaring Wings.
She pursued him.
He tried to circle behind her. No, more accurately…
…He is moving to my combat blind spots!
Beyond her arm’s range of rotation. At an angle her spear could not reach. Even if he was not outside her field of vision, he would circle around to a spot where her attacks could not reach him or pursue him.
In that case, she thought. A samurai must strike her enemy.
In that case, she thought again. What must I do to strike an enemy who is staying out of reach?
In that case, she thought a third time.
…I just have to create a location where I can strike everything!!
She accelerated to keep him out of her blind spot.
She sensed his presence trying to circle behind her.
Not behind her.
He was running in a wide arc to remain outside of her range.
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