Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 56

Chapter 56: Optimizer in the Field of Acceleration

And you show me how much

Let us settle things that much

Point Allocation (Interception)

The battle intensified.

The white dragon named Sasuke released a dragon cannon of explosive light all around him and turned the other way without checking on the results.

The enemy had moved beneath him to use her spear’s cutting power, so he had released the dragon cannon to show her it was useless.

From the enemy’s perspective, the counterattack was sent down from above.

That should have been impossible to dodge, but…

Did she avoid it!?

He was almost certain of his prediction: The enemy had worked together to avoid his dragon cannon.

He followed that prediction by looking to the wall.

There was a hole gouged there.

The enemy was not there, but it clearly told him that the enemy had indeed avoided his dragon cannon.

How?

The method was simple and the sound he heard explained it.

It was the echoing sound of shellfire. It was a simple sound of the air being torn and split. But there was only one person on this battlefield who could produce it.

He turned around and looked over to see a girl wielding a long cannon by the opposite wall.

“Did you fire on your companion!?”

And he heard another sound: racing footsteps circling around behind him.

They belonged to…

The Musashi Vice Chancellor!

The enemy had definitely been knocked away by a shell.

That was a close one!

In the instant of her evasion, Futayo had seen the approaching shell and recalled the night before last.

She remembered her battle with Kakei.

Back then, she had kicked off of his bullets to leap.

But those had been bullets. She had caught the first shot on Tonbo Spare’s shaft to raise her speed like a running start.

This was different. It was an artillery shell and she could not use Tonbo Spare as a running start shield.

But there was a way to accelerate.

Take the ideal action like I did against Lord Shibata and Fukushima-dono.

She had to repeatedly open and control instances of Soaring Wings to add extra precision to her movements. She would use the acceleration spell to fine-tune and eliminate all hesitation from each and every one of her body’s actions.

Doing so required placing a great number of Soaring Wings instances on her body. If one of the spells on any part of her body were to break, it would create a ripple effect across her entire body and send her flying.

But what if she used that to accelerate?

I can do this, decided Futayo.

But…

Now that I think about it, that was a dangerous thing I did at Novgorod.

I trained with Kimi-dono beforehand, but that was with her support. Looking at it that way, I must have been really worked up when I fought Lord Shibata and Fukushima-dono.

Yes.

This is dangerous.

Very, very risky. Gin-dono is asking for a lot, expecting me to kick off a shell without warning like this.

This is different from the bullets the other night. This is so much bigger and more destructive.

So if possible, I would like to find some other method.

“Oh, the shell is right in front of me.”

A single thought entered Gin’s mind in the instant Futayo avoided the dragon cannon: That was a direct hit.

After all, the Musashi Vice Chancellor had been entirely defenseless.

Despite having a dragon cannon approaching fast, Gin slapped her forehead.

But the word “idiot” was not what filled Gin’s mind.

Die (just once)!

She added the parentheses in her mind because she had trouble deciding whether it was better with or without that part.

But then she saw something else.

An incredible number of spell sign frames appeared across the back of the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s body.

It looked to Gin like the girl’s movements slowed.

But that was not the case. The initial speed was slow, but it clearly accumulated. And by the time the shell arrived…

“——————”

The Musashi Vice Chancellor looked her way.

She lightly raised her right hand. It was like a casual greeting.

Gin had no idea what this meant, but…

“…!”

She leaped. And Sasuke’s explosive light burst across the hall as if to pursue her.

This was the same process as before.

“Honestly,” said Gin as the battle continued. “How much do I have to go along with your nonsense?”

Well done, thought Sasuke.

He had met several acceleration spell users in the past.

His power was light and speed, so people who wanted the same had always stood in his way.

They had faced him using Holy Spells, divine spells, other types of spells, machines, and martial arts techniques.

When avoiding his dragon cannon, this enemy had reached a rare level of speed.

He did not often see someone with that kind of instantaneous speed.

Not often. So Sasuke spoke.

“If that is all you have, I have faced others at your level.”

With that, he accelerated. He swung his entire body toward the Musashi Vice Chancellor who was trying to circle behind him.

“…Let us do this!”

He moved the other way to circle behind her from the center of the hall.

Well done!

Futayo was impressed by the white dragon who had run up behind her.

How much speed could he draw out of that giant body? And more importantly…

“What excellent positional control!”

The white dragon was running along the wall.

While making a high-speed turn to circle behind her, he had used the wall as a floor.

The hall shook while he accelerated toward her as she moved along the floor. And in the instant he descended from the wall and passed over the seam between the floor and wall…

“…!”

He swung his tail forward and toward her.

This was his two-stage acceleration.

He already had enough speed to use the wall as a floor and he accelerated again while descending from the wall.

And his mouth was opened. His running roar was a dragon cannon that used its great volume to attack.

Instead of being released from his entire body, this was a straight-line dragon cannon fired from his mouth.

Futayo raised her voice in response.

“Gin-dono!”

Sasuke saw a girl move in front of him as he pursued his enemy.

It was Tachibana Gin.

She was not just using her legs to run. She was using an acceleration spell.

“A pursuit type…!?”

A new challenger had approached using the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s acceleration.

He knew what she was after: The mouth he had opened for the dragon cannon.

He did not see it often, but the inside of his mouth was the color of flesh and his teeth and tongue were different from his exterior armor.

A shell could make it through and the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s spear attack would be effective. That was why…

They lured me into firing this dragon cannon!

Just as he thought that, he heard a voice. It belonged to the Musashi Vice Chancellor who held her spear in her right hand behind Gin.

“Bind…Tonbo Spare!”

The cannon and the cutting were fired toward his mouth simultaneously.

Gin’s cannon blast produced an explosion of wind in front of her.

The fog was blown away in an instant and the Musashi Vice Chancellor shouted out while holding Gin in her right arm.

“Did we get him!?”

They had launched two attacks on the pursuing dragon. Timing-wise, it had to have been a direct hit. However…

“Kh…!”

Gin quickly used the strength of her prosthetic arms to shove the Musashi Vice Chancellor toward the wall.

She used the recoil to escape to the center of the hall herself. And in response…

“Gin-dono!?”

There was no point in answering the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s question. She would see the answer soon enough. In fact…

“—————!”

Before she could catch her breath, a beam of light stabbed through the space between the two girls.

It was fast for a dragon cannon and resembled an attack from a master spear-user.

Then Gin looked back to check on the enemy.

There was a white dragon behind her. He was unharmed. She could tell he had used some kind of method to forcibly stop himself and avoid their previous attacks.

But how did he do it!?

She did not know. But staying still would be dangerous, so she immediately fired.

She was firing blind, but she had trained for this. She had a perfect grasp of where the dragon cannon had fired from.

So she fired.

She thought this would hit. Even if he was a high-speed and high-mobility dragon, his center of gravity would be shifted forward after braking so suddenly while pursuing them. That would force him to brace his four beast legs against the floor.

And she aimed her counterattack there.

There was no way this could miss. If he dodged this, it would have to mean he had no weight at all.

However…

“…!?”

Gin saw the dragon’s action.

He moved.

The white dragon had grown more distant behind her as she ran, but he suddenly leaped to the side.

And he did so easily.

At first, Gin did not understand how the enemy named Sasuke had been able to move.

That was because her mind had not allowed her any thoughts outside of “how?”

But her vision had calmly seen through to the principle behind his movement.

That white dragon could freely move because of…

His tail…!?

That white tail gave off a sense of length, weight, and speed. He had used it for a two-stage acceleration earlier, but…

Does he swing it to brake and slide as well!?

Before, he must not have dug his feet into the ground to stop his high-speed movement. He had used his dragon’s strength to swing his tail backwards, which pulled his giant body back as well.

And now he had used a swing of his tail to slide to the side, allowing him to…

“Dodge it…”

“Is something the matter?”

After landing from his sliding evasion, Sasuke slammed his strength and legs against the ground. He seemed to be kicking his claws and muscles at the dirt to accelerate toward her with his full-speed mobility.

He was coming.

During his sharply angled leap, he relaxed the tail he had swung sideways before.

“————”

And he reaccelerated.

The white dragon quickly approached.

“Is something the matter?” he asked again. “You’ve stopped moving.”

No, she was still running. She was using all her strength to get away from him.

But even that was nothing to this dragon.

As a dragon, he did not use his teeth against people. This white dragon simply fought by using his giant body to crush them.

“…!”

Gin fired a counterattack and used the recoil to leap back.

But he was still catching up.

Even Cuatro Cruz’s recoil was no match for the dragon’s reaccelerated dash.

He was going to hit her.

But Gin suddenly realized something.

She could see someone beyond the white dragon.

Eh?

It was the Musashi Vice Chancellor.

“Huh?”

This is odd, thought Gin.

Hadn’t that girl been running alongside her just a moment before?

And hadn’t Gin shoved her toward the wall?

But at some point, she had ended up running along the wall beyond the white dragon. She was running along the outside and toward Gin. She ran in a curve that pursued the white dragon’s back.

It can’t be…

It was a ridiculous prediction, but Gin allowed herself to make it.

She knew what the girl had to have done.

“Did she run the perimeter of the hall in that short time!?”

Futayo was thankful for the size and structure of this place.

If it was not a hemispherical hall, she could not have kept her acceleration up like this.

Soaring Wings was applied many times over to her knees and shoulders.

She had enough speed. Her exhaustion was reduced and everything felt clear. And…

“Sorry…!”

Just as she saw Sasuke dodge Gin’s shell, Futayo passed him by.

She moved forward. She reached out toward Gin as the white dragon threatened to catch up to her.

“Gin-dono!”

Her position shifted.

Before she could even say “oh?”, she had passed Gin by.

In another two steps, she would leave Gin behind.

Oops.

Letting up on Soaring Wings now would be dangerous.

But if I do not save Gin-dono, I have a feeling the others would be mad at me.

Should I make another circuit?

No, since everything feels so clear, it might be best to leave things as they are. In fact, I have no other choice.

However…

“There is no reason to reach out your hand.”

Gin was directly beside her on the right.

“Ohh, so you survived…! I was about to give up on you!”

“If I didn’t have this pursuit-type acceleration spell, I would have died! I’ve been running around all over the place thanks to you!”

I angered her. I need to actually grab her next time. But…

“You sure have a short temper, Gin-dono.”

Gin had grown sick of so very many things here.

Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! …I can’t stand this girl!”

<Divine Transmission Failure: The walls may be too thick: If correct, press “Y”. If incorrect, give up and smile: By, god.>

She did indeed give up on a variety of things while a strange smile appeared on her face.

And even if I hit “Y”, wouldn’t the divine transmission interference prevent my response from getting through? wondered Gin, but she concluded the response must travel via the local gods.

However, there was nothing she could do while reliant on the Musashi Vice Chancellor running alongside her.

That girl was about to decide this battle for herself.

And…

“Gin-dono!”

“What?”

“My Tonbo Spare is useless right now!”

“Impotent,” said the spear.

“That doesn’t mean you can leave!”

The look of astonishment on the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s face could not have been more blatant.

After another three seconds of running, she shook her head and tried again.

“Gin-dono!”

“What!?”

“My Tonbo Spare’s cutting power does not work here!”

“Ineffective,” said the spear.

“How is that any different from what you said before!?” shouted Gin. “Isn’t a Vice Chancellor supposed to find a way despite that kind of setback!? Weren’t you taught that when you joined the Chancellor’s Officers!?”

The Musashi Vice Chancellor proudly puffed out her chest.

“I was made Vice Chancellor in an emergency!!”

Oh, right. And that was our doing, wasn’t it?

Gin gasped and felt like she had been hit by the return of an extreme long-throw boomerang. Then the Musashi Vice Chancellor held Tonbo Spare up for her to see.

“I bet I know what you were thinking, Gin-dono. You thought I would awaken to a mysterious power during this battle. You thought I would finally be able to use Tonbo Spare’s superior drive to cut right through that dragon’s light and whatever-you-call-it armor!”

“No, I wasn’t thinking any of…” started Gin, but before she could get it out…

“But you see! Tonbo Spare does not have a superior drive!”

“Training needed,” said the spear.

Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! If I had a cursing card that let me kill whoever’s name I wrote, I would be justified in writing hers, wouldn’t I!? Wouldn’t I!?”

<Divine Transmission Failure: You may be too far away: If correct, press “Y”. If incorrect, do a dance: By, god.>

Why is it different from before!?

Since arriving in Musashi, she had learned just how laid back Shinto was. Catholicism was very strict despite being developed in the irresponsible land of K.P.A. Italia, so what was this?

But…

“Gin-dono!”

“I’m aware!”

The racing dragon had fired a dragon cannon behind them.

Sasuke saw the enemy split up to the left and right. The blue went left and the red right.

But the blue on the left had no means of attack.

And the red on the right had no speed.

So he knew what they were bound to do.

The blue pulls in the red and the red attacks.

His dragon cannon passed between them.

The red used a pursuit acceleration spell to bring them back together.

A moment later, the red and the blue worked together.

The blue launched the bottom of her spear forward and the red caught it on the palm of her metal hand.

Huh!?

This was the opposite.

Wasn’t the blue supposed to pull in and the red attack?

That was not what happened.

After the blue struck the red’s hand with her extended spear bottom…

“Let’s go…!”

She ran directly toward Sasuke.

“Bind…Tonbo Spare!”

Futayo controlled Soaring Wings in the midst of the rapid crossing of paths.

She was making a forced 180 degree turn. Even as she took the ideal movement for Soaring Wings, her body ached and was on the verge of being blown away by her speed.

“…!”

And she used that speed to send herself toward the white dragon.

Tonbo Spare’s activation had no effect.

But she wanted to see exactly how the cutting power was deflected.

Her technique did not work on him, so she would find a way of overturning that.

And as she traveled through the cold air, Futayo saw some light.

Before reaching the enemy, Tonbo Spare’s cutting power had been shattered into glowing shards.

It really could not reach him. That was unfortunate, but she had also seen something.

Tonbo Spare’s cutting power had not simply been destroyed.

It was fully reflected back…!

Tonbo Spare worked by reading the name reflected in the blade and cutting that. But this enemy reflected back that reflection, showing Tonbo Spare to itself.

Tonbo Spare could not attack itself, so its cutting power vanished.

That was a high-level defense used by people on her father or Muneshige’s level.

This dragon did that with the armor covering his entire body.

He was naturally resistant to this sort of weapon.

Futayo spun around in their rapid crossing of paths.

A giant foreleg had fallen where she had been a moment before.

It produced a tremor, but the dragon did not move past her.

She understood why.

The white dragon was performing a turn directly above her.

He no longer saw her as an enemy and was simply attempting to crush her underfoot.

But Futayo set up a chain reaction in her body. She chained her rotation and turn together so she could move between those falling and swinging objects.

Kh…!

She suddenly recalled her battle with Kakei.

Then too, she had spun around and taken up position behind her enemy.

“…!”

The two forelegs suddenly arrived overhead. Sasuke had swung his tail to control his position and lift his body up from the ground. And his raised forelegs seemed to be targeting her while he was at it.

Don’t look!

She would never respond in time if she looked up before dodging. To move around behind the forelegs, she moved…

To the side!!

She moved out from below the dragon’s belly as if launching herself.

Because he was making such a large turn, Sasuke’s forelegs slid in a large arc to pursue her.

She dodged. She spun her body, and…

Kakei-dono did this…!

She performed a turning slide.

It swung her body around more than she expected, and her empty hand…

“Oh.”

…touched Sasuke’s foreleg. But she used that contact to push herself.

One more time!

She felt like she had done a better job than last time, so she took her eyes off the enemy, rapidly launched herself across the center of the hall, and…

“Gin-dono!”

Gin did not overlook the opportunity provided by the Musashi Vice Chancellor.

When they had split up earlier, Gin had leaped toward the center of the hall.

And the Musashi Vice Chancellor had run straight forward to draw the enemy’s attention. Or so she had thought.

I can’t believe she charged forward to test the enemy’s defenses.

Tonbo Spare of course lacked any offensive power against this dragon.

As a dragon, he could not overlook an enemy running around at his feet. Especially for this white dragon who was so confident in his high-speed mobility.

He had somewhat overreacted in his attempt to crush her underfoot.

He had been turning toward Gin, but he continued to turn a little further and raised his forelegs.

That was enough. Because…

He has to lower his center of gravity to stomp!

This was not like his previous tail-controlled turn. Even if he tried to use that, his feet would slide along in a drift.

“Pierce him! Cuatro Cruz!”

Gin fired repeatedly.

Sasuke detected the enemy’s attack.

He saw eight shells in the center of his vision. The rapidly-fired series of shots was lined up horizontally.

She was likely trying to capture him along that horizontal line.

It was a good decision.

The enemy’s shells were meant to attack castles. A dragon’s armor was sturdy, but there was no avoiding damage from this. And the line of shots was meant to negate any evasive action on his part.

Of course, the shell velocity was inferior to his strength. If he reaccelerated with his tail, he could dodge it just fine.

So it all comes down to this!

With that thought, Sasuke jumped forward. And he immediately reaccelerated to the…

Right!

He launched his midair body to the right.

Or he should have. However…

“…!?”

He realized he had been thrown off the proper trajectory

His rightward momentum was somewhat lacking.

As he wondered why, he sensed something else.

Something had struck the tip of his tail in the very instant he reaccelerated.

Based on how solid it was and how much the blow reverberated through his body, it had to be a metal projectile. But it was not one of those large shells meant for attacking castles. It was…

“A sniper shot from a smaller cannon!?”

It had likely been fired from behind the larger cannon’s rapid fire. The hit slightly unbalanced his tail.

That created a small waver.

But that miniscule difference was devastating when he was trying to just barely dodge before charging in.

One of the large shells hit his left collarbone.

Gin looked directly at the great cloud of dust created by the hit of an accelerated object and the water vapor explosion created by the shockwave. In the distance, she could tell the stone forming the hall had broken and crumbled with a sound like scattering sparks.

I hit him!

She had sensed it connect. The shell had provided a solid blow.

She had set everything up to ensure it.

She had used an Arcabuz Cruz for that setup.

And she had lowered its initial speed as far as possible.

The shell she had chosen was setup with a focus on impact. That was all that mattered here.

After all…

This enemy primarily uses his vision!

She had noticed something when Sasuke dodged her triple Cuatro Cruz shots soon after the battle began.

Cuatro Cruz’s initial speed was greater than the speed of sound, but the white dragon had outdone that.

That meant he was not reliant on sound. He detected attacks with his senses of sight and touch.

So she had fired a low-speed shell high into the air while he was swinging his legs around to crush the Musashi Vice Chancellor.

On top of that, she had fired several times from straight ahead.

Since he primarily used his vision, he would see the eight shots flying in at eye level. Which way he would move had been a gamble, but she had guessed he would jump left due to the direction of his turn.

In the end, his swung tail had arrived in the position she had predicted.

“Now that we have struck back…”

Gin was about to finish her sentence with “this battle can truly begin”, but at that very moment, a yell reached her from the direction of the dragon.

“Gin-dono…!”

It was the Musashi Vice Chancellor.

“To the left!”

Gin did not look left.

She simply activated Racing Words toward the Musashi Vice Chancellor.

The Musashi Vice Chancellor also began running as if in response.

And as Gin ran, she saw something arriving from the left.

It was the white dragon.

He was unharmed.

How strange, she thought. The shell had hit his left collarbone, so he should not have been able to move at full strength. Plus, he had been right in front of her when…

The hit to the tail should have prevented him from reaccelerating!

So how had the dragon arrived to her left?

What was it she had sensed her shell hit earlier?

Is this…!?

Gin did not look left. But a large presence arrived from that direction and covered her vision.

These were wings that came into view. The white dragon had six wings on his back. He had not used them before this, but now they were fully spread.

He had used them for a third acceleration.

“Ohhh…!!”

There was clear anger in his roar.

“…!”

Gin was hit and sent flying.

Sasuke felt shame.

…I cannot believe this!

He had underestimated the enemy and been forced to use his wings.

Even if he had wings and could fly, he specialized in ground combat. Using his wings was normally unthinkable, but…

These opponents were enough to require it!

He was impressed.

They had repeatedly endured or dodged his attacks, come to understand the traits of those attacks, and then worked to destroy them.

They had used a small attack to produce a waver in the dragon’s giant body and great strength.

That was a truly human technique. And a sign of intelligence.

He could not simply trample over this enemy. So…

“To make up for the shame of using my wings, I must use my full strength here…!”

He charged toward the red enemy. He opened his jaws and held his mouth sideways to devour her.

Celestial Dragons did not really have to eat. As ether lifeforms, they only needed to remain in a place that matched their “mold”.

To “eat” someone was a dragon’s greatest sign of affection, as it meant allowing them to become a part of him. It was the highest praise for an enemy.

But an enemy arrived from the side in the instant he snapped his jaws shut.

It was the blue girl.

She raced toward the red girl, and…

“Gin-dono…!”

She extended a hand, but…

“Oh?”

The length of her pace did not quite match and she kneed the red girl instead.

Gin saw something completely insane.

Not only was that idiot idiotic enough to race across the hall so quickly, but after looking like she was going to save Gin…

She kneed me!?

Gin had fortunately managed to get her left arm up to guard in time because a direct hit would have broken a few ribs.

That was how much momentum the girl had.

She had wanted to work in a support role to help, but she could not even manage the most basic kind of assistance.

Not to mention that the Musashi Vice Chancellor was now in the same spot Gin had been.

Which meant…

“Ah.”

The approaching white dragon’s sideways jaws snapped shut on her.

Gin reached that immediate conclusion while she was flying through the air.

She felt both surprised and a little disappointed at how simple it had been.

She’s dead! That girl is dead, Master Muneshige! Eaten by a dragon!!

She did not know if she should rejoice or celebrate. That was because even a warrior girl was not accustomed to seeing a dragon eat someone.

But Gin heard an odd noise lingering behind the action.

It was a solid sound like someone climbing a ladder. And it came from…

“The dragon’s jaws…!?”

Once she realized that, she saw a blue form several meters up in the air.

It was the Musashi Vice President. And if she was soaring there…

That girl…

“Did she kick herself up from the closing jaws!?”

Sasuke was briefly confused.

He could have sworn he ate her. That thought was lodged in his mind. But the sensation in his teeth wiped away that confusion.

The enemy had rapidly run up the teeth of his closing upper and lower jaws.

Sasuke had never seen anyone dodge an attack like that before.

But that meant it was his turn. After all, the red girl was nearby and the blue girl was airborne.

Which meant…

“Ohh…!”

He fired a dragon cannon from his entire body.

Gin fired Arcabuz Cruz and accelerated, but she was still hit.

Futayo kicked off of the fired Arcabuz Cruz shell, but she too was hit.

After the light exploded, Gin was launched several dozen meters from the hall’s center and slammed into the wall.

Futayo crashed into the ceiling.

They took damage.

Gin used her left arm to soften the blow, but its surface armor shattered when it hit the wall. When Futayo hit the ceiling, her hair decoration broke away, leaving only the string below, and blood dripped down her face.

It only took an instant.

They both grew limp, Gin fell to her knees, and Futayo seemed to peel away from the ceiling before falling.

The dragon roared in the center of it all.

“…!”

The white dragon spread the wings on his back and roared.