Horizon:Volume 5A Chapter 4
Chapter 4: Foreseers of the East and West
If a new battlefield is a container
What is poured into it?
Point Allocation (Tactics)
“Did the first shot hit!?”
With the setting sun and eastern sky behind her, a tall girl in an eboshi-style M.H.R.R. hat shouted a question.
The girl on the green grassy plain wore a heavily-armored version of a blue-dyed M.H.R.R. girls summer uniform. She was Katou Kiyomasa. She waved her hand so the fleet of 8 ironclad ships that could see her from the sky.
“Use that as the basis and focus your fire on the enemy’s front line!”
Kiyomasa could see a shadowy wall far ahead of her.
It was the enemy troops.
The wide-open field had nothing to block her vision, so all she saw were the distant mountains and the enemy.
“Begin engaging the Hexagone Française and Mouri forces in battle!”
Kiyomasa’s voice was answered by shells flying forward in the sky.
The 8 forward-facing ships each had 2 main cannons on the bow for a total of 16 shots. They stopped as if to breathe, but just as the shells were about to hit…
“Kiyomasa-sama! Each ship has now adjusted its aim! They will fix their spatial position in reference to their bow and begin firing!”
Kiyomasa now looked behind her.
There was a great mass there.
It was not a wall. Partially due to how close it was, it looked thick and seemed to extend forever.
“M.H.R.R. Mobile Shell Unit and P.A. Oda Wind God Unit. All 32 thousand of you prepare to charge!”
She breathed in.
“Our enemy is Hexagone Française and Mouri’s main forces: their heavy god of war border defense knights and their Three Musketeers automaton unit! If we can secure this corridor, we will have secured the majority of the way to Paris. Thus…”
Kiyomasa drew the two scythe-spears from her back. She grasped each one in a hand and held them forward.
With Kiyomasa in the lead, the entirety of M.H.R.R.’s warriors shook the air with a roaring cry.
16 streams of rapid-fire shellfire began in the sky.
The ground troops first crouched low.
And then they charged toward the enemy formation with their weapons at the ready.
But their charge was not made by running across the plain’s grass. The M.H.R.R. students glided at low altitude using the Holy Spell-controlled flight devices installed in the shoulders or back of their mobile shells. The P.A. Oda students let the charm cloths wrapped around their legs sweep behind them like banners to create panels of wind, which…
…sent them gliding along the grassy plain in a surfing pose.
While passing above the grass, the mobile shells scattered light from their Holy Spell charms and zigzagged as individual platoons.
While blowing the grass below them, the charm cloths trailed the glowing wind of Unique Spells while surfing as individual platoons.
Moment by moment, they gained more ground and quickly filled 1/4 of the distance between east and west. And as they travelled west, they were supported from the east.
There was an easterly morning wind.
But it was not the chilly wind of early morning. It was the final easterly wind of the time just before the change from morning to day.
That wind headed west with the heat of the approaching midday.
The wind pushed the troops from the east.
The mobile shells floated up ever so slightly and gently accelerated.
The charm cloths rode the wave of the wind and accumulated speed.
Both groups rapidly flew westward.
The easterly wind blew and roared as it carried the troops with it.
The cannon fire in the sky passed over their heads as it shot westward.
They could no longer see the Hexagone Française front line that had been waiting on the grassy plain to the west.
The shock of the shells hitting had blasted the ground into the air, stirring up plenty of dust.
The green grass and dark damp dirt scattered in tiny pieces and created a wall passing north to south on the west side of the battlefield. But more shellfire arrived from the east as if to increase the thickness of that wall.
The shells smashed everything in their way.
And as the wind flew in from the east…
“Ohh…!” shouted Kiyomasa as she used the acceleration of both Caledfwlchs. “Everyone…prepare your defenses!”
There was still a large gap between the two sides. They were only now reaching the halfway point of the grassy plain.
Their side’s cannon fire had not stopped.
But she still shouted for defenses and ducked low.
“The enemy is unharmed!”
Before the further shellfire could arrive, the black and green cloud obscuring the west was blown away from what lay beyond it.
And the rising wind and dirt revealed…
“Hexagone Française’s musketeers and gods of war… All 24 thousand of them are counterattacking!”
Henri saw them on the grassy plain.
On both of their flanks, 30 gods of war were lined up at 50 meter intervals.
They were brand new but mid-sized. And…
“From the looks of them, I can determine they are quite heavy.”
Their legs were thick and their heels extended straight back along the ground as far as they were tall. The bodies supported by those legs had a streamlined design that extended forward and the arms had launching spikes attached instead of hands.
The arm spikes had been fired vertically into the ground.
And the shoulders supporting the arms were also bizarrely shaped. Instead of a humanoid shape, they formed long launchers extending to the front and back. And they contained…
“Holy Spell defense barriers. And anti-warship ones at that.”
The countless shards of light scattering through the air were proof that those barriers were continuing to receive impacts from the eastern sky.
Henri and the others were on the west end of the grassy plain.
The grass had already become a pile of disturbed gravel and the grass floated above that.
But the shellfire from P.A. Oda did not break through the defense barriers held toward the sky by the gods of war.
These were middle gods of war built for defense.
They had protected the Hexagone Française forces from everything after the enemy’s initial shells.
Strategically, they should have been out front, but this was different.
That was because their strategy was different from normal.
…And it’s thanks to them.
These middle gods of war were in the “heavy” class when it came to their weight and Henri knew they had been designed to create a new form of war for Hexagone Française.
“Let’s see that then.”
Once she said that, she saw movement.
As the middle gods of war continued to endure the shellfire, they pulled their arm spikes from the ground and leaned their bodies forward.
They were not lying down.
As their bodies moved forward, the long heels digging into the ground stood up. And as they stood on their pick-shaped toes, they balanced themselves while leaning forward.
Shells could be heard slamming into the barriers.
And beyond the impacts and shattering light, the M.H.R.R. and P.A. Oda troops could be seen charging toward them.
“This battle will make a sensational change to every country’s military value.”
The battlefield moved forward. The defensive middle gods of war advanced.
Their pointed pick-like toes moved in unison with the long heels raised behind them.
The long heels were spikes, so…
On that command, the heel spikes were driven into the ground with a bursting sound. And…
Their heavy bodies used the recoil of the pile-driving to move forward with their anti-warship defense barriers still opened over a wide area.
The defensive wall maintained its power as they moved forward to clash with the enemy formation.
Henri thought as she was hit by a heavy and solid wind.
…All battles from now on will allow mobility and defense to coexist.
So she looked into the sky straight ahead.
She spoke as she faced Hashiba’s aerial fleet fixed in place there.
“What they are using will become an outdated tactic.”
“They use a great aerial force to eliminate their enemy’s aerial forces and front line on the ground. Then they send in their own ground forces. And those ground forces perform a high-speed suppression using mobile shells and other troops specialized for high speeds. That is the current standard, isn’t it?”
The ground warriors made an ultra high-speed charge and suppression while receiving support from their aerial forces.
That tactic made effective use of mobile shells which could move at high speeds and M.H.R.R. specialized in it thanks to their plentiful warriors.
The form was different, but P.A. Oda used the same method except with spell-supported speed and striking power.
…Their tactics take their nations’ advantages into consideration.
It was far cheaper to build mobile shells than gods of war.
And as a mercenary nation, M.H.R.R. could freely replenish their supply of warriors.
Thus, M.H.R.R. had used these tactics to build up their military value in Europe.
But, thought Henri.
“That will end on this battlefield.”
The wave was shattered.
As the human wave rode the wind and raced in from the east, the breakwater charged in from the west and shattered it.
The anti-warship defense barriers of the middle gods of war were a little narrow for use against ships. Each god of war could only protect an area 50 meters across and 20 meters high.
But that was a massive wall for the humans on the surface.
Even if these were mobile shells charging in, it was still on the human level.
They were not the same as gods of war.
When the mobile shells hit the defense barriers, they were smashed by their own speed. The armor-detachment and wearer-ejection functions activated just like they had been hit by a shell. With no chance to avoid it, they lost their weapons and lost some of their speed, but were still broken against the wall of ether.
The sound of destruction was like that of bone being struck.
The next sounds were of scattering mobile shells and bending frames.
No voices rose from the crashing wave. When the people had hit the wall, their lungs had been shaken and they could not breathe. The next wave realized something was happening by the wall but could not decelerate in time, so in the brief period before their wave crashed against it…
But their enemy was different. The enemy was pushing through all of the impacts.
The god of war heels fired their acceleration spikes.
Those 30 reached their top speed even as the enemy waves resisted them. Their feet dug into the dirt like hooves as they essentially stampeded forward, but their momentum simply pushed the enemy straight forward…
…and blew them away.
Their speed swept the enemy army forward as if they were stuck to the defense barriers.
Humanoid shapes flew in great numbers and they finally became an attack against their own comrades behind them.
The sound of human impacts rose from all across the battlefield, as did cries of confusion, terror, and anger.
It was all pushed and crushed by the 30 walls.
They could not be stopped.
As the sun’s angle changed from morning to day, the human sea surged in, was broken, and flew through the sunlight.
The M.H.R.R. troops had been hit first, but they understood that they had been destroyed. Their charge’s sudden stop had been clear to see.
But the nimbler P.A. Oda troops were not so lucky.
Because they were so light, they could not break through the air resistance and had thus been weaving back and forth as a diversion during the charge. That meant the unstoppable wall crashed into them from a diagonal angle.
In a desperate attempt to escape it, they first tried to use their charm cloths to surf along the surface of that wall.
But the charging gods of war crushed those human movements. The defense barriers were supported by bodies larger than a human’s, so they swayed with movements larger than a human’s.
The defense barriers swayed several meters forward and back, so when the P.A. Oda troops attempted to surf on them, the wall pulled away and then slammed back into them.
Most of them were sent tumbling through the air and then along the ground before they were hit again by the defense barriers that caught up to them.
Even those lucky enough to briefly manage to surf on the wall were struck by the wreckage and people falling from above, so they were slammed to the ground and then knocked away by the wall.
Every last one of P.A. Oda’s warriors gave up on advancing. But even when they tried to dodge, they were crushed from ahead or above.
Before they could figure out what to do, they were destroyed by those arriving from behind.
But some of them were lucky. Enough wreckage from those ahead of them had piled up for them to use it as a ramp toward the defense barriers.
The defense barriers were about 20 meters tall, so if they used their acceleration for a jump…
“We can clear them!”
Instead of a jump, it was more like a combination of speed, angle, and martial arts that got them over the defense barriers.
The panels of bluish-white light were more than a meter thick. The warriors performed midair flips as they flew out into the space beyond those individual lights.
But then gunfire sounded and the P.A. Oda warriors were knocked higher into the air.
They had been shot.
A few forms stood on the shoulders and arms of the middle gods of war.
They were maid automatons.
16 of them clung to each god of war and they kneeled down with rifles at the ready. But they were not just on the god of war’s upper surface. Some used their gravitational control to stand on the side of the arms and shoulders to send oil into the running god of war’s motors and to operate the heat exhaust devices.
And the middle gods of war continued their charge while supported by those automatons.
Their wall arrived from the west and was approaching the midway point of the plain.
The battlefield was being pushed back to the east.
The morning sunlight shined on it all from the sky.
“This is going surprisingly well.”
Henri walked quickly across the grassy plain as she listened to the great roar of the god of war footsteps up ahead.
The ground was broken below her feet. She occasionally trod on scattered grass or stepped over mobile shell wreckage as she hurried after the advancing wall.
The walls had already pushed the battlefield nearly back to the halfway point.
Henri spoke quietly as she viewed that great wall out front.
“An anti-warship defense charge performed on the ground by gods of war. This is a suppression attack that is defensive in name only. And,” she continued, “it is nothing more than defense and a charge, so the pilot training can be reduced to the bare minimum. Previously, god of war forces were primarily heavy gods of war and the lighter varieties were only used for industrial work, but now they can do the same work as the main forces.”
“And the best part is that even the vassal ranks can pilot the middle gods of war,” replied Armand as he walked alongside her.
He grabbed his hat and swung it forward as if to sweep the blowing wind and scattering dirt away from him.
Then the maids fired from the left arm of a god of war up ahead.
They shot back a few enemies trying to cross over the wall.
The human shapes flew back through the air and fell beyond the wall.
Then they were pushed back by the advancing wall.
Armand commented on not letting even a single enemy through.
“An excellent job, don’t you think?”
“Testament. They must be plenty satisfied as well. But stop using visual signals. Just in case.”
“The maid automatons seem to like this better.”
“Then there’s no helping it.”
Just as Henri nodded and continued forward, a light raced by up ahead.
An attack flew in a horizontal line as if to break through the advancing wall, and a voice accompanied it.
A dignified girl’s voice rang across the battlefield.
“Finish this, Caledfwlch!!”
…Everyone is moving too slowly!
Kiyomasa was on the south end of the grassy plain.
Just before the enemy’s defensive charge, she had ordered for all troops to break to the left and right.
It had been a split-second decision based on her past experience.
But there were simply too many of them. The command had reached the company on the far left and right and they had managed to avoid the enemy’s charge, but the central company and those following had been too slow.
The central troops had contained a lot of freshmen warriors and that had increased the amount of damage they took. Even if the command had reached them, they were inexperienced on the battlefield, so they did not know how much speed to use or were too worried about others. And that led to this.
This battle would be an important experience for them. And as for Kiyomasa…
“I can do this…!”
She was one of Hashiba’s Ten Spears. In fact, she was the #2.
No matter the battlefield.
No matter how outnumbered they were.
No matter how mismatched their tactics were.
They existed to overturn that.
…We are known as heroes.
According to the Testament descriptions, her namesake of Katou Kiyomasa was one of those.
They were outnumbered here.
And their opponent’s strategy was one never before seen.
…But I must overturn that…
So she used Caledfwlch’s acceleration to race forward.
30 defensive middle gods of war were spread out across the grassy plain. She circled around on their southern end. She intended to reach the back of the enemy’s wall like that.
Of course, the enemy came to stop her. 4 platoons of 8 rifle-wielding maid automatons arrived from behind the gods of war.
They were 200 meters away and they fired without delay. Their arms were synced with their sight, so they would accurately pierce anyone they held in the center of their vision.
And that was what they tried to do. Kiyomasa was still controlling her position in midair, but…
The armor attached to her summer uniform was more than just spell reinforced. It would change its angle of defense to match the direction she locked onto with her gaze.
And it did so.
Immediately, sparks swept across the armor. This was a rapid-fire series of shots. With 32 automatons firing individual shots, they achieved a rate of fire exceeding 30 shots per second.
But Kiyomasa let her armor handle it.
Defense was dealt with automatically, so she spun the two Caledfwlchs around in her arms.
The edge of the grassy plain was a cliff. There was a forest up top. This had likely been a riverside or a long lake originally. She kicked off the cliff face that reminded her of a riverbank and she spun around to face the center of the grassy plain.
She could see the side of the defense barrier wall being pushed forward by the middle gods of war.
It was a meter thick and 1.5 kilometers long.
She wanted to target the middle gods of war, but…
…The automatons’ barrage is too thick!!
She could not get around to their side or back.
They had predicted her actions and were prepared.
But there was something she could target from her position.
“That thick defense barrier wall…”
She had a way to destroy it all at once, so she ignored the scrape of bullets stroking her cheek and raised her voice.
“Finish this, Caledfwlch!”
The 1.5 kilometer wall shattered into light.
From south to north, a straight line wave exploded.
A glowing sword pierced through the center and immediately disappeared, but the expanding shield split apart and shattered in the sky.
The troops being pushed back to the east saw the destruction in front of them.
Beyond the solid sounds of destroyed light, they saw the defenseless line of middle gods of war.
The enemy was in view.
The enemy gods of war were crawling with automatons who were already firing back.
But the enemy was in view, so even as they took fire and were injured…
They roared at the top of their lungs as if to draw out everything inside them.
“Hurry,” someone said. “If we don’t, they’ll get the next defense barrier up!”
“That’s right,” someone replied.
The lernen figur for activating the defense barriers were already appearing from the shoulder launchers of the enemy middle gods of war. Once those were up, it was all over yet again. After all…
“The enemy middle gods of war haven’t slowed down any!” shouted a girl on the front line.
They all raised their defenses because they knew the enemy was prepared to do this.
And so they had to respond in kind.
They had to pass between the middle gods of war and continue forward. Westward. To the enemy’s main forces. Straight ahead. In a direct line.
They could see the enemy in the center. Two of the Three Musketeers were walking their way beyond the middle gods of war.
It was Henri and Armand. They were both dangerous opponents even when unarmed, but if the remaining forces on the east rushed in…
They all nodded and said “testament” or “shaja”.
And then they all relit their mobile shell thrusters. They faced the two members of the Three Musketeers in order to…
A moment later, the exact opposite happened.
Before they could begin running, they saw an enemy suddenly charging toward them.
There was still distance between them.
But that distance was meaningless to what appeared without warning: gods of war.
It was 13 of Hexagone Française’s heavy gods of war. They appeared unexpectedly between the middle gods of war.
They were all running forward.
Their speed, weight, and weapons were all far superior to the middle gods of war. And their pilots were far better trained.
To those resuming their charge from the east, the heavy gods of war became an obvious counterattack.
They had been outdone.
The silver heavy gods of war prepared anti-ground assault spears down low as they charged in.
The enemy had taken the initiative in this charge.
Kiyomasa saw it happen from the side.
The enemy gods of war had appeared out of nowhere. It was as if doors had opened on the ground.
That was the only explanation.
However, she had to add a “but” in her thoughts. After all, she had never heard of stealth equipment being built small enough for gods of war.
IZUMO existed in Hexagone Française territory, so she naturally suspected they had provided this new technology. But…
…IZUMO will have preserved its neutrality.
That may have been a naïve expectation. Whatever the case, she could not deny the truth before her eyes and it was further proven as time passed.
As her troops attempted a second charge, they were blown away by this counterattack.
“We’ve finally managed to confirm one thing,” said Henri as she walked along the grass.
She saw 2 powers charging eastward in front of her: the defensive charge of the middle gods of war and the offensive charge of the heavy gods of war.
They ran toward the morning sun that had already risen too high to reach.
“This is a tactic that the Reine des Garous thought up…and the Princess and Exiv put together.”
Simply put, they functionalized and split up the duties of the front line gods of war.
At IZUMO and Magdeburg, they had only been able to use the heavy gods of war and those had simply charged in, suppressed the enemy, and maintained control. Just like the development of mobile shells, they would make a high-speed charge for fear of ship’s guns while also making a traditional “knight’s charge”.
But at IZUMO, barricades had been launched and Musashi had been allowed to construct their front line.
And at Magdeburg, the enemy’s great numbers had robbed the gods of war of their mobility.
Even if they did not lose the battle, that loss of mobility would rapidly reduce their military value.
So they had changed their tactics.
A change to those traditional tactics should have received complaints from the knights who piloted the heavy gods of war.
But they had just suffered through 2 difficult battles and most of the gods of war had been prepared by the previous Chancellor. Most importantly, this idea came from the Reine des Garous and had been improved upon by their two leaders, so they had agreed to this new tactic.
In this case…
…The vassals in the middle gods of war take the lead and then the knights in the heavy gods of war charge in to destroy the enemy formation.
A high-speed charge by the heavy gods of war could not suppress a wide area and could be ended if it was obstructed.
So the middle gods of war had first suppressed a wide area and secured a safe zone. Then just as the enemy was recovering and stalled, the heavy gods of war charged in at close range.
Also, the middle gods of war carried musketeer automatons and the warriors who followed extended their front line.
The previous tactics had entirely relied on the god of war charge, so the automaton musketeers and the nonhuman unit had only been able to follow after them.
But this time, the younger generation mostly made up of freshmen could move out to the front and gain battlefield experience.
They had only sent attackers to the battlefield in the past, but now the attackers shared the battlefield with the ideal defenders.
As the modern battlefield continued to move, the different units moved in and performed the job they were most suited for.
“According to the Testament, Hexagone Française had history’s first modern national army. This is our interpretation of that. You could call this a ‘god of war shell’ meant to bring down a castle or conquer a fortress city.”
Henri looked forward and saw the middle gods of war already preparing their new defense barriers. Her gaze pressed on the backs of those charging forward.
“Go. And show them the power of those promised victory by the history recreation.”
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