Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 47
Chapter 47: Debaters at the Water’s Edge
Hurrying up and down
Tilting west and east
Point Allocation (Nature)
The sounds of water fell a great distance and spread out over a wide area.
It came from the water dropping off a valley waterfall and passing over a stony riverbed.
The current was weaker in the waterfall basin, but that led to another waterfall. As the riverbed rose, the river widened and the current quickened.
The rocks kept the current from being even, so the water murmured as it churned.
Those small sounds of spray were joined by voices.
“Here I go.”
Swimsuit-wearing Futayo swung Tonbo Spare around in front of the waterfall basin.
She tried a few times to position the angle so the basin was reflected in the blade, and…
The basin was split.
Some fish had been hiding near the bottom after descending in preparation to climb the waterfall, so they desperately leaped into the air to avoid the attack. Adele and Mitotsudaira caught them while another two girls stored them.
“Heh heh. I have a live-box over here. And there was a hot spring over there, so Naomasa is setting up a girl’s bath.”
Those two were Kimi and Horizon who sat on a large riverside stone with their legs soaking in the water.
Nearby, Naomasa was checking out the sturdiness of a fence set up around a hot spring bath built from stones. Next to her, Asama had a sign frame open with a long bamboo spear sticking into the riverside rocks.
Mitotsudaira walked over from the waterfall basin while carrying fish in the summer uniform shirt she had removed.
“It looks like we’ll have enough for one per person.”
Mary was also carrying fish next to Mitotsudaira and she had some kind of spirit light around her.
Mary nodded toward that light a few times.
“It looks like we can still catch some more river fish. The water is teeming with life this year, so it looks like they will have a lot of fish making the journey upstream.”
Then she saw a few people who had their feet soaking in the live-box: Masazumi, Narumi, and Gin.
They were inspecting several sign frames.
“Date Vice Chancellor, Tachibana Wife… Which of these two reports do you think is true? One is from Hexagone Française and the other from M.H.R.R. I’m having a hard time deciding, so I could use your help.”
“Good question,” said Narumi as she looked at her own sign frame.
Date was a combat-oriented academy, so their former Vice Chancellor would be used to reading this kind of intelligence.
Narumi was comparing two texts that had been sent to her with Asama’s authorization. They were the original text taken from newspaper extra editions, so they were written in French and German.
They both provided an HQ report on the result of the battle fought that morning. However…
…There’s quite a difference between the two nations’ reports.
Then Gin spoke up next to her.
“Hexagone Française’s announcement says two god of war aces sunk two of Hashiba’s advance ships and defeated two of the Ten Spears, doesn’t it?”
She can read foreign languages too, realized Narumi. And…
…Not that it’s a competition.
Narumi spoke before Gin could say anything more.
“And the M.H.R.R. one says they defeated two of Hexagone Française’s god of war aces and protected their advance ships.”
Gin realized something from the Date Vice Chancellor’s comment.
…So she can read German too.
I would expect nothing less from Date’s Vice Chancellor, she thought while honestly impressed.
She had no intention of turning it into a competition.
That girl was a former Vice Chancellor and Gin was a former 3rd Special Duty Officer. Their positions were on entirely different levels.
She could not hope to compete. Thus…
Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige, which do you think is better: a Vice Chancellor or a 3rd Special Duty Officer?”
Tachibana Husband: “Eh? Are you talking about yourself?”
Tachibana Wife: “It is a hypothetical question.”
Tachibana Husband: “Oh, I see. But I really don’t think you need to worry about this, Gin. I mean, you’re a former 3rd Special Duty Officer. That means you’re a normal student.”
Tachibana Wife: “Former?”
Tachibana Husband: “Only because I screwed up, though.”
Tachibana Wife: “…Then former is fine. Just fine.”
That’s right, thought Gin. With the “former”, the position of 3rd Special Duty Officer no longer mattered. And the other girl was a former Vice Chancellor.
They were both normal students, so there was no need to worry about all that.
Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige, you always show me a new way to look at things.”
Tachibana Husband: “What do you mean by that?”
Tachibana Wife: “Judge. …You make sure I do not sully the Tachibana name. That is what I mean.”
Gin looked to the Date Vice Chancellor.
A smile naturally formed on her lips.
The other girl also seemed to be exchanging words over a limited divine chat. She seemed to be connected to the 2nd Special Duty Officer.
Unturning: “Hey, Kiyonari. Hypothetically, what would you do if I fought someone who had two prosthetic arms?”
Uqui: “You have prosthetic legs too, so you’re cooler.”
Unturning: “What if it wasn’t about the simple organic-to-inorganic ratio? What if it was about what’s on the inside?”
Uqui: “On the inside? Oh. you mean your organs! I do like things to be soft and juicy on the inside, but if you’re going to put anything in there, make sure it’s pointy and metal.”
Unturning: “Your values certainly are something else.”
Gin saw the other girl finish her conversation.
She did not know what that conversation had been about, but since the Date Vice Chancellor sighed quietly as the sign frame vanished, she must have received a satisfactory response.
Then that other girl looked to Gin and smiled.
The smile did not reach her eyes.
Oddly, the two of them spoke at the exact same moment.
They breathed in.
“Let’s try to get along.”
Gin said, “M.H.R.R.’s primary national trait is their reliability. So the odds are slim that anything in their report is an outright falsehood.”
Narumi replied, “But the M.H.R.R. Catholics are known for their ostentation with things like indulgences and for worshiping temporary objects in their idol worship. Plus, Hashiba used to be Mlasi. We can assume they would not hesitate to release information that gives them an advantage.”
“Hexagone Française is the future ruler of Europe. They are currently fighting to determine what direction their nation will take. And yet they are preserving their forces. That means Hexagone Française has the advantage. That makes me doubt their report would contain any falsehoods.”
“I’m not so sure. The Logismoi Oplo left with Hexagone Française were of vainglory and pride. And the battlefield was within Hexagone Française. They would never let word get out if things had gone poorly for them.”
Narumi placed a hand on her side and raised the corners of her lips.
Gin also placed a hand on her side and lifted the sides of her mouth.
They each reached for the other’s sign frame.
The first to ask a question was Narumi.
“What do you think this means, Tachibana Gin?”
“In the interest of fairness, how about we both answer at the same time?”
“Good idea,” agreed Narumi.
Then they both answered at once: “Both are false.”
With that conclusion, they relaxed their legs inside the live-box.
That’s what I thought, agreed Masazumi.
She first leaned toward Gin and asked a question.
“What do you think M.H.R.R. and Hashiba accomplished?”
“They probably drove back the enemy gods of war. If they had destroyed them, they would have taken the pilots prisoner and Hexagone Française would be using international public opinion to pressure them. They would say a nation that does not return POWs is barbaric.”
“Then,” said Masazumi while turning toward Narumi. “What do you think Hexagone Française accomplished?”
“They did significant damage to two of Hashiba’s ironclad ships. They also managed to escape from two of the Ten Spears. And possibly injured them. …After all, Hashiba’s ironclad ships are hurrying toward Paris. If any of them take significant damage, they would have to be scuttled and abandoned while the others hurried on. So Hexagone Française can pass that off as ‘sinking’ them. …And defeating some of the Ten Spears would mean robbing M.H.R.R. of a few commanders, so M.H.R.R. would have stopped their invasion. Since they haven’t, we can assume that the Ten Spears were not truly ‘defeated’,” said Narumi. “Most likely, the supposedly-defeated Ten Spears will make an appearance and show off that they’re just fine either tonight or tomorrow.”
“Then what kind of fight do you think it was?”
“Good question,” said Gin. “M.H.R.R. was apparently holding a festival on their deck for the history recreation, but they would have been strictly monitoring their surroundings thanks to the attacks over the past few days. And if the Ten Spears ended up fighting gods of war…”
Masazumi listened to Gin.
“The two gods of war must have charged the deck from close in and then escaped.”
“…Just to be sure, could it not have been an attack from the ground below the ships?”
“Aerial ships are indeed weak to attacks from below, but breaking through the bottom of the hull would require aiming a cannon perpendicular to the bottom. I doubt they could perform a high-speed charge, fire straight up, and also take on the Ten Spears who would arrive along the horizontal plane. Also, firing through the bottom of the hull is not enough to sink an aerial ship. If they were going for a hit-and-away attack, they would aim for the bridge. …On the Oda ironclad ships, the upper deck is a flat and straight line. And with the festival set up, they would have had the perfect runway with cover on either side.”
…Wow, I’m completely ignorant about this kind of thing…
Masazumi realized she could only nod in understanding.
She felt she had gained a lot of knowledge and understanding from reading all sorts of books, but…
…I can’t keep up when they’re using the latest information and then making speculations based on that…
The girls in front of her were at the Vice Chancellor and 3rd Special Duty Officer levels. It was only natural for their thoughts and knowledge to be superior, but…
Vice President: “What are our Vice Chancellor and 3rd Special Duty Officer doing?”
Tonbokiri: “I just caught a big one!”
Gold Mar: “Hey, Ga-chan, adding in censor bars is so much better while listening to the valley river, isn’t it?”
The word “freestyle” came to Masazumi’s mind.
But Narumi suddenly said something.
“This means Hexagone Française can reuse gods of war for anti-ship attacks, doesn’t it?”
“It means they do not have to build exclusively aerial gods of war like Tres España does. Most likely, Hexagone Française has built stealth god of war transport platforms.”
“Those would be devastating if used against a ship like the Musashi that has a city on the surface.”
“Did you conclude that from these articles?”
“Judge,” replied Gin. “Two gods of war made a charge down the decks. If they had flown in from long range, they would have been intercepted. Most likely…”
Gin recalled the past. It had only been about two months ago.
“Hexagone Française has the same class of stealth technology used by Tres España’s San Martín during the Armada Battle. But while Tres España used it for a warship, Hexagone Française has used it for a god of war launch platform.”
The Date Vice Chancellor nodded at that question.
“In this case, you can think of it like an aircraft carrier. Isn’t that right?”
She turned around to look at Gin who observed her face.
She was not smiling. This was the look of someone who had years of experience in strategy meetings.
Excellent, thought Gin as she nodded.
“To destroy the bridges of M.H.R.R.’s ironclad ships, they have to use anti-ship cannons or a penetration spear. This was the debut of that strategy and, since this is Hexagone Française, the nation of gods of war and knights, they likely used spears. That means they would have used ground gods of war equipped with quasi-anti-ship cannons and spears along with aerial combat equipment.”
“…Spears and…quasi-…anti-ship cannons?”
“Quasi-anti-ship cannons are used to destroy the structures built on top of a ship. That equipment provides them the optimal weight for performing an aerial charge. Carrying them along with the spears is necessary for the success of the mission with two gods of war.”
A clear question mark appeared on the Vice President’s face when she heard that.
How should I explain this? wondered Gin, but Date’s Vice Chancellor did so for her.
“If they’re willing to make it a suicide mission, they could use a single god of war armed with a spear. And that stance can work to increase the fighting spirit of your own forces. …But if you need to be absolutely certain that this mission will be completed, the odds of success and survival increase considerably if you send in two or more gods of war so they can cover for each other.”
“Right?” The Date Vice Chancellor leaned forward. “That’s how insane a feat it was to leave a stealth platform and board the enemy deck. And the enemy’s deck was prepared for a festival, but that could have been camouflage. They boldly charged down the deck while using their spears and cannons to destroy the ship-top structures. …Instead of building aerial gods of war, Hexagone Française is sinking the enemy ships by challenging them to a ground battle while in the air.”
“Judge.” Gin nodded. “And from that we can conclude Hexagone Française’s platforms have a total length of-…”
The Vice President interjected with a word and a hand.
Gin was confused by the sudden interruption.
She had no idea why she was being stopped with a hand.
But the Date Vice Chancellor spoke before she could say anything more.
“Date’s gods of war are aerial, but they are heavyweights even among heavy gods of war. Hexagone Française generally uses middleweights, but they should rival Date’s in weight when so heavily equipped. And Date’s god of war carriers launch the gods of war with 300m catapult lanes.”
Hearing that, Gin realized why the Vice President had stopped her.
…Oh, that’s right.
She had not yet lost the inherited name of Tachibana Gin and she was being handled as a transfer student from Tres España.
Muneshige had lost his inherited name and moved here, so he was a student of Musashi Ariadust Academy.
Gin was different.
So she could act as an adviser here, but she could not reveal more of Tres España’s information than necessary.
Her estimation of the god of war firing platform was based on the specs of Tres España’s god of war carriers and aerial gods of war.
That was information she could not provide.
And it would be dangerous for Musashi to hear it.
After all, that would mean they knew classified Tres Españan information.
So Gin lowered her head toward Musashi’s Vice President and Date’s Vice Chancellor.
“Judge. Thank you very much.”
“No, I was careless there. I can casually say what I want since Date is allied with Matsudaira, but Tres España is different,” said Date’s Vice Chancellor. “But given Hexagone Française’s god of war flight ability, how much do you think they could shorten the platform?”
Gin immediately opened her mouth when she realized what that question meant.
The Date Vice Chancellor’s question was one almost anyone in a high-ranking combat role in Tres España could answer. After all…
“Tres España borders Hexagone Française, so they buy food from España and own a lot of España’s debt. We simulated countless battles with them and fought actual skirmishes on the provisional border,” she said. “But here we are talking about taking off at the end of a runway. Since they would want enough speed to take off from just within the effective range of the defense barriers, 100 meters should suffice.”
“This really changes the battlefield,” interrupted Naomasa while putting together the stones for the hot spring. “With a 100m platform and two gods of war, they can do significant damage to two warships. That kind of efficiency is going to make me cry.”
“El Azors can perform long-range fire, but they are lightly equipped and a direct attack on the bridge is only thought of as a last resort. …This attack uses fairly heavily-equipped gods of war to directly board an aerial ship and charge the bridge. And if it comes from a stealth platform, no nation will be prepared for that.”
“Really?” Naomasa smiled bitterly. “We will, won’t we?”
Hearing that, Masazumi lowered her shoulders in a deceptive sigh.
“I guess we’ll have to be…”
“Oh, then we’re going to lose a ton of money again…”
That comment came from Heidi who was staying out of the river and instead picking plants from the slope and putting them in the basket on her back.
Naomasa glared at her.
“What are you doing?”
“Eh!? S-some of these are worth a lot! …And these ones here are extremely poisonous, so they’re great for backroom deals!”
She sure hasn’t changed, thought Naomasa, but she decided to ask regardless.
“So what’s this about losing money?”
“Well, we can contact Oushuu a lot easier now, right? So we can have the IZUMO HQ produce a lot of equipment for use against Hexagone Française’s tactics.”
“That’s true enough.”
“Really?” asked Masazumi and Narumi silently stared at her, so Naomasa nodded.
Gin started to stand up to be polite, but Naomasa held out her prosthetic arm to stop her and explained to Masazumi.
“Listen. Musashi has Musashi IZUMO on it. And we also have the Asama Shrine, right? The Asama Shrine is closely related to Shirasago Enterprises, which can be seen as an IZUMO branch family. That said, the facilities in Musashi are small and they don’t have much personnel, so they can’t perform any major development, experimentation…or production. So…”
“After completing the planning and verification stages on Musashi, the actual development and production are left to the IZUMO HQ or Shirasago Enterprises, right?”
“Judge. We can also have IZUMO only do the development and have the production done in a surface reservation nearer the Musashi. …That system has existed for a while, but it’s become a lot more important since England. And in a case like this, it’s especially useful.”
“That’s right,” said Heidi while sitting down on the slope. “If we can’t stay in close contact with IZUMO, the various machinery and materials have to be procured on site or replaced with some kind of substitute. When that happens, there’s a lot of room for merchants to intervene. But if using IZUMO to develop equipment for new tactics becomes the norm, the merchants who bought up a lot of materials in advance are going to be in trouble.”
“I see,” said Masazumi with a nod. Just then, she heard a voice from below the second waterfall located downstream.
It was Toori.
Mitotsudaira placed the fish in the live-box and walked to the second waterfall.
The edge of the waterfall was stone with a thin layer of moss growing on it. She got on all fours to make sure she would not slip and she peered down along with Adele and Kimi.
It was a drop of eight meters.
There was a wide river below. It was contained within the valley, but the rocks forming the river were small and the riverbed was deep.
A few tents were set up on the sand and gravel riverbank.
And there was a swimsuit crossdresser in the light green waterfall basin.
Even if she was wearing a swimsuit, Mitotsudaira was hesitant to reveal so much skin to her king.
“What is it, my king?”
“Oh, Nate. Is that Adele and Sis with you?”
Adele gave an affirmative yell and waved her hand while Horizon approached her from behind.
Horizon suddenly crouched down and performed a tackle.
“Watch out, Adele-sama! …is the name of the gag.”
The automaton slipped on the moss and her weight pushed both of them off the waterfall.
They fell. And in that instant, Mitotsudaira grabbed the back of the hard points on Horizon’s hips.
She pulled the two girls back up.
She got them to safety, but now she was slipping forward.
She fell. And in that instant, Horizon and Kimi grabbed the back of the hard points on Mitotsudaira’s hips.
They pulled her back up.
But due to the lack of a harness connecting the two hard points along the back of her hips, the swimsuit pulled past her butt and slipped down to her thighs.
The water flowing toward the waterfall gathered between her slightly spread legs and pushed her further forward.
“Kimi-sama!” shouted Horizon to her right. “Grab her butt, not her chest! There’s nothing to grab there!”
“I’m supposed to grab the left side, right!? And I massage it, right!?”
“What are you two doing!?”
Meanwhile, Mitotsudaira really did start falling.
She stuck her hands down toward the rock wall within the waterfall.
She was lucky the moss was so thick. She could dig her nails in for enough of a grip to push herself up.
She made it back on top.
Once back in a sitting position, she fixed her swimsuit and looked to the left and right.
On the right, Horizon did not hesitate to give her an expressionless thumbs up.
On the left, the idiot sister did not hesitate to begin a smiling dancing.
Why doesn’t she slip and fall? wondered Mitotsudaira, but then Asama walked up next to them. She looked to Mitotsudaira with a bow and arrow in hand.
“Oh, thank goodness. People don’t often take a plunge from a waterfall while bottomless, so I wasn’t sure how to stop you.”
“What were you planning to do with that bow and arrow?”
Naruze, who was soaking her feet in the hot spring along with Naito, drew and held up an image of a fish pinned to the top of a waterfall by an arrow piercing it from above.
After looking back at it, it took Asama three seconds to realize what it meant. She quickly waved her hands back and forth.
“N-no! I was trying to fire it between Mito’s legs so her half-stripped swimsuit bottom would catch on it!”
“I don’t like the sound of that for several reasons!”
But Asama told her to calm down and looked to the bottom of the waterfall.
“Yeah, I wanted to know if we can start a fire. There are a lot of local gods around here, right?”
“Yes,” confirmed Asama. “I asked the local gods to temporarily rent us this area. They agreed as long as I brought some divine sake from the Asama Shrine.”
“…You sure are thorough.”
“I have to be when we’re visiting the ruins and battling Celestial Dragons. Greeting the local gods means we don’t have to use any extra substitutions when routing through these gods to use our contracts.” She lowered her shoulders. “That said, I had actually already reached an agreement with the mountain spirits. Since the mountains here are connected to Asama. They all wanted the blessing of Asama.”
“Do you mean sake, Asama-sama?”
“Pretty much, yeah…”
Asama smiled bitterly.
Just then, a bamboo spear launcher fell from the sky and stabbed into the ground in the middle of the group of boys constructing tents down below.
Mitotsudaira watched as Neshinbara immediately dashed away and only later looked back. Once he noticed the shape of the launcher, he struck a pose with enough force to produce a snapping sound from his sleeve.
…He’s come up with another weird game…
Behind Mitotsudaira, Kimi lifted up Mitotsudaira’s back hair which was being pushed toward her by the water. She could tell what the girl was doing without even looking back.
Adele, your laughter boiling points is way too low.
But turning around would only make things worse, so she let Kimi do as she wished. She looked down and saw a torii-style indicator displayed on the side of the launcher.
It was labeled “Sake Amount: Drink in moderation” and the colored bar indicating the contents was shrinking.
“Won’t the land reek of alcohol after this?”
“They’ll drink every last drop, so that won’t be a problem. Once they’re done with it, it can be shared with the local people.”
“Heh heh. Being part of the Asama Shrine can’t be easy. This wasn’t really necessary for the study camp, after all. …Yes, I know what this was! Asama’s outdoor spirit has opened up! Yes! Opened! Open, my outer door! Bring your euphemistic pickle and enter my hidden land! You lover of hidden lands! …What are those looks of scorn for!? You want to see that badly!? Yahoooo!!!”
Your voice is echoing, so please stop that.
Mitotsudaira knew that turning around would be a very, very bad idea.
But Asama walked up next to her and spoke.
“Toori-kun, once the sake is gone, you can start a fire.”
“Sure. I’ll tell Tenzou. …Horizon, the tent for all of you is ready, so go put your things in there later.”
“Judge. Toori-sama, that would be the tent for the two of us, wouldn’t it?”
The atmosphere froze.
Mitotsudaira realized everyone nearby had stopped moving.
That was of course only the ones close enough to have heard Horizon’s answer. Masazumi’s group was still debating something and Mary and Futayo could be heard fishing back at the waterfall basin.
…Oh, I can hear cicadas in the distance…
Behind her, Kimi moved around a bit and stuck her butt into Mitotsudaira’s hair.
Mitotsudaira really wanted to kick her away, but she was afraid it would make her slip and fall again.
Down below, Noriki gave the crossdresser a serious look.
“Y-you sure are direct!”
But it was Kimi who answered him.
“Now, now. He isn’t going to die. I mean, he has Mitotsudaira and me with him.”
Mitotsudaira felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Her face rapidly paled, but then it grew bright red even more rapidly. And when she opened her mouth…
“Calm down. This is the same as coming to our house.”
“Yes, it would be the same environment,” said Horizon.
The automaton looked to Mitotsudaira and then looked behind her.
“You too, Asama-sama.”
Asama felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Her face rapidly paled, but then it grew bright red even more rapidly. And when she opened her mouth…
“N-no, um, wh-what are you talking about!?”
“Calm down. This is the same as when you stayed at Toori-sama’s house.”
“Yes, it would be the same situation,” said Kimi.
The idiot sister looked to Asama and then to Mitosudaira.
“But Horizon wasn’t there when Asama and Horizon slept over the other day.”
“Ah,” gasped Asama.
“The other day… That would be the night when Neshinbara-kun was flattened. And the night before Tenzou-kun was feeling himself in a questionable way.”
10ZO: “Wh-what!? What is with this bizarre treatment I’m getting!?”
Scarred: “Don’t worry, Master Tenzou. Everyone understands.”
Almost Everyone: “Yeah, we understand all too well!!”
10ZO: “Enemies! You’re all my enemies, aren’t you!?”
The ninja grew suspicious of them all, but Asama ignored that.
She came to a belated understanding about Horizon. There was a lot they had to think about with the sharing and whatnot, but as they were…
…Horizon sees us as the ones with a deeper connection to Toori-kun.
Romance was not the only possible relationship between two people. So that made them more experienced than Horizon.
“You don’t have to worry about us, Horizon.”
Mitotsudaira stretched her leg out below the water to lightly kick Asama’s shin.
She was probably scolding Asama for being so withdrawn.
Asama appreciated the concern, but her foot slipped and she tripped.
She landed on top of Kimi and Mitotsudaira, so all three of them slid along the rocks at the top of the waterfall.
Mitotsudaira forcibly held her ground and Horizon pulled them back.
After seeing Asama fall to her knees and gasp for breath, Horizon placed a hand on her shoulder.
“I find it hard to know what to do when you are trying to be considerate, Asama-sama.”
“Is that so…?”
Meanwhile, Hanami opened a sign frame. The local gods were finished drinking the sake down below.
So she brushed back her newly wet hair and peered down.
She spoke to the crossdresser.
“You can prepare a fire now. Also…”
She hung her head in exasperation before continuing.
“…I’ll leave the rest to Horizon.”
“Sure. I don’t really know what this is about, but if you wanna divide up the rooms like we’re living together, then let’s have fun with it. Also, Asama?”
The crossdresser pulled something made of cloth and string from the river and placed it over his head like ears.
What is that? she wondered just as Kimi stroked a finger down her back.
Once she caught on, Asama swallowed a scream and wrapped her arms around her body.
The wind blew across some wood flooring.
An evening sky was visible overhead.
The people on that floor sank into the evening colors provided by the sun which was now level with them to the west.
The floating floor was a ship’s deck.
This was the fourth ship of Hashiba’s Hexagone Française invasion fleet.
A festival was prepared on the deck and the stands were open for business. But their lights of activity illuminated uniformed students. The stands were preparing some light food, but they were also fully equipped with anti-god of war rifles and targeting spell charms.
“So the festival is continuing after preparing for enemy attack. Or is this meant as a night festival? I’m not sure. This is Katou Yoshiaki. I’m here to watch over the scuttling of the first and second ships.”
Gold wings danced across the bow plaza while holding a paper plate of dumplings.
She was flying toward someone positioned to face the setting sun.
“Takenaka, you explain it for me.”
Yoshiaki looked to Takenaka who was only wearing a P.A. Oda summer uniform.
She had her back to Yoshiaki and she was resting her elbows on the deck’s railing.
She must not have had to worry about her skin with the sun nearly set because she was not wearing the M.H.R.R. coat she normally wore like a cloak.
Yoshiaki viewed the tall girl’s bare back which, unlike her own, had no wings.
“Are you thinking?”
“Eh? Ohh, umm, I’m always thinking.”
“I see.” Yoshiaki stood to Takenaka’s right and held up the paper plate of dumplings. “Want some?”
Takenaka said that with a smile and took one.
Just one. She placed it in her smiling mouth and…
“Now, what is it you wanted to ask me?”
Takenaka must have had a good guess because she continued speaking.
“I think I’ve told you most everything about the invasion of Paris. Oh, and don’t bother asking about what Hexagone Française is planning. I wouldn’t have time to explain now, so I’ll explain only after it happens.”
She had always been like this, but it could be a problem how readily she kept secrets even from her own team.
But the thing was…
“If you say there wouldn’t be time, then there really wouldn’t be.”
“I’m glad you understand. But is there something other than that you want to ask?”
“Why didn’t you order us to join in while the gods of war and those two idiots were fighting?”
“You were asleep, weren’t you!? Fast asleep!”
“Everyone should get eight hours of sleep a day,” said Yoshiaki. “But if you had woken us up, we would have joined the fight.”
“Are you sure?”
“Testament,” confirmed Yoshiaki before eating a dumpling.
It was sweet. Specifically, a round sort of sweetness. She placed it in the back of her right cheek and savored its resilience as she bit into it.
“Sure, we would have been in a bad mood, we would have grumbled, we would have glared at you, we would have complained about it endlessly, and we would have ignored you for about two days…but we would have happily joined the fight.”
“And I don’t want any of that.”
“But you’re prepared to accept any high damage directed at you, aren’t you?”
“Well, yes,” replied a smiling Takenaka.
Yoshiaki sighed in her heart.
This was what made this tactician so fearsome.
When she had left her master’s house, she had calmly pretended to take over that house in a way that made everyone there her enemy. It had been an insane way of giving a warning to that lazy house, but it had to have been the most obvious method to her.
Takenaka did not hesitate to take extreme measures or to bring harm to themselves. If she was ever afraid to lose her own forces…
…It’s when she needs to hold them in reserve so they can be lost later.
So there was one thing Yoshiaki knew she could trust about this enemy attack.
“High damage. …Why were Fukushima and Kiyomasa so badly hurt? You have them sleeping in the recovery room, don’t you? I just hope they aren’t still half asleep when they make an appearance to show they’re fine.”
“Yeah, those two were raised a little too well. They’re too strong for their own good.”
Takenaka opened a lernen figur. Since she did not let Yoshiaki see, it was probably the order to scuttle the first and second ships.
In the distance, the first and second ships were ascending while also loaded with wreckage from the third ship. The surviving turretless cannons on the port and starboard sides were aimed straight up.
Takenaka spoke while looking up at their movements.
“I need everyone to be even stronger?”
“Why is that a question?”
“Because the part that requires you all to be stronger isn’t really my duty. I’m the tactician. If all of you are nice and strong, then my strategies will be really easy for you. But more than that…”
She said it.
“You all are a unit meant to oppose Musashi.”
I see, thought Yoshiaki.
“And those two lost.”
She knew what Takenaka was thinking.
“We’re strong, but we’re a bit lacking in experience. So Fukushima and Kiyomasa didn’t feel the proper impact of their losses at Mito and Novgorod. …That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”
“Is it because you’re so kind that you understand that part, Yoshiaki-san?”
“Keep saying creepy things like that and I’m going to demand you pay for that dumpling.”
“Then I’ll have one more.”
Yoshiaki was reminded how fearsome a girl this was.
“To make sure they understood the meaning and reality of defeat, you had them fight someone other than our intended opponents and you had them lose.”
“You made sure they felt just how inexperienced we are and that we’re not even at the level of some unintended opponents. That is amazingly condescending, but I suppose it’s all over for a tactician if she starts looking up to others.”
“That’s more or less what I was doing. …Although to be honest, it didn’t work out as intended.”
“They actually defeated the gods of war,” quietly said Takenaka. “They were up against Hexagone Française aces while frolicking around in swimsuits and carrying spears. Is that supposed to be the bonus content for an RPG or something? I never thought they could win without any support. …Especially Fukushima-san. Ichinotani can attack and defend if she uses it right, so it’s completely overpowered. But the greater the enemy’s firepower, the better it is. And then she starts using it during a battle with a god of war…”
“I can’t tell if you’re praising her or angry at her, so I’ll just say this: serves you right.”
“That is so not cute.”
Yoshiaki smiled bitterly at Takenaka who laid her head down on the railing.
“But I hear someone really dangerous showed up. Katou Danzou, was it? …Couldn’t he be even more trouble than Musashi?”
“He’s definitely working with Hexagone Française,” said Takenaka. “Okay, I guess I can tell you. He has a connection to all of us. He’s pretty much a monster, but that’s exactly why he’s the perfect opponent for Fukushima-san and Kiyomasa-san.”
Takenaka straightened up.
She looked to the setting sun. The damaged ironclad ships were rising in front of that light.
“That should do it.”
With that, Takenaka reached for a corner of her lernen figur.
As soon as she did, a waterfall of light rose from the night sky with the purple heavens in the background.
The first and second ships had fired their turretless cannons into the sky.
The light rose several hundred meters.
“Ohh, exactly as I calculated.”
The launched light projectiles changed direction as if they had stalled.
They started down and fell right toward the first and second ships that had fired them.
“Enjoy the fireworks.”
The collision destroyed the two ships.
The first and second ships were scuttled.
To increase the effect of the shells, the material below the deck and other structures had been removed. So when the light hit the two ships, the internal power readily escaped from the hull and they split apart.
They shattered with a deafening roar. Yoshiaki sighed and spoke as she looked up at the light.
“…Are you showing that we can do this to attack any gods of war that might board us in the future?”
“Nooope. Fireworks. These are fireworks. After all…”
Takenaka spun around.
She looked to the people returning to the rebuilt festival. They were here to watch the explosive destruction of the first and second ships. Everyone in the stands cheered, too.
They all raised their right forearms to salute the scattering ships.
“I see.” Yoshiaki ate the last dumpling. “In the Far East, a festival is used to summon that land’s god and have it purify all of the impurities in the land and in the participants.”
“This would’ve been perfect if Nagayasu was here.”
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