Horizon:Volume 6A Chapter 19
Chapter 19: Lip Service Girls on the Deck
It can't be helped
So I will hit you
Point Allocation (Negotiation)
The Suwa-bound transport ship soon received a notification that the meeting with Mouri and Houjou had begun at the Musashi. Noriki received the report from Hiro as he helped clean the deck.
"...So they've started."
Musashi was far to the southeast.
He could see a dark blue shadow in that direction.
That would be the Musashi.
...It seems almost insignificant from a distance.
Noriki looked to the girl who had opened the sign frame for him.
"Hiro, was it?"
"What is it, Noririn?"
"...Did you get that from Naito?"
"Judge. That's what they call you at home, right?"
"At home, they call me brother."
Hearing that, Hiro's expression stiffened.
"...Do you...like jokes?"
"...I do watch divine TV variety shows with my younger siblings."
"Well," said Noriki with a nod.
His younger siblings knew a lot about those shows from their friends in elementary and middle school.
But he only watched them because they did.
Still, he knew which show his younger brothers and sisters most enjoyed.
"Teacup Dash, where 5 people get into a serious fight over tea supplies."
"Oh, yeah. They did one on a Mediterranean desert island recently where they were chased around by the primitive tentacles, didn't they? It takes a show like that for no one to accuse it of being staged."
"Yes. ...I'm still trying to figure out why people enjoy that show."
Hiro's expression froze. After a while, she hung her head with sweat pouring down her face.
Noriki could tell this was bad, so...
"...Ah! Sorry! Sorry, okay!? Let's get back on topic!"
He was troubling an underclassman.
He did not really mean it as a way to make up for that, but he decided to ask what he had intended to earlier.
"Are you familiar with Suwa?"
"Somewhat. I've never actually lived there, though. ...How about you?"
"I apparently went there long ago. And I've sent a few divine transmissions there and gathered information from their sites using Musashi's Suwa via the Asama Shrine."
"Then this physical visit will be a good thing for you. ...Don't worry. They're trying to run a business, so it won't be too complicated."
"I see," he said while getting back to mopping the deck.
But then Hiro asked a sudden question.
"What do you think of Houjou Ujinao?"
"I can't really say." He responded immediately. "Our positions are different. Any thoughts would have to come after our positions are the same. Otherwise, it is irrelevant."
"You really aren't the joking type, are you?"
"If you get that, then don't do it again."
But Noriki had another thought.
...I don't talk much, do I?
He felt like he had talked a lot today, but it was still nothing compared to Toori and the others.
So he kept speaking to avoid an awkward silence with Hiro.
"The first thing you have to keep in mind is that my father betrayed Houjou."
"That sure is a heavy change of topic... But just out of curiosity, what do you mean?"
"He tried to prepare an heir and someone to support that heir, but luck was not on his side."
"Oh." Hiro nodded. "And so your position changed."
"When my father came to Musashi, he hoped we would be able to make ourselves at home in our new life there."
"...I think you've managed to do that."
He could not decide if he should thank her for that. But...
"I cannot return to my position there. ...Because I am of Musashi."
"Then how about you bring Houjou Ujinao to us?"
"That is for Masazumi and the others to decide."
"Then," said Hiro again. "Why are you going to Suwa?"
"To return with greater power."
Noriki knew she was going to ask what that power was for, so he continued before she could do so.
"Power to destroy Ujinao's position. ...I cannot say anything to her if I do not do that."
"I'm glad you came, Musashi Vice President. We only have a short time before this battle in which our respective positions are clear, so let us make good use of it."
"Judge. Let us discuss something meaningful to all three of us."
Masazumi viewed her surroundings and Terumoto responded with her arms crossed.
"There's nothing worth seeing around here. It's all just for show."
"Lady Terumoto! That's what makes it so cool!!"
They were in an open-air meeting room and the diplomatic ship's girls shouted over at them.
The Mouri diplomatic ship had a flat deck with a flat roof built on top of that. It was quite different from the Far Eastern standard for diplomatic ships that placed a Far Eastern style mansion atop a sled-like flat ship.
...Is that for defense?
They currently stood on that roof. It was 300m long and 50m wide. It had wood flooring and there was indeed nothing there, but...
"This would normally be used for open-air concerts or plays. You can see the foundation for tiered audience seating behind you, right? And the stage is erected on the bow here."
"Yes." Masazumi nodded. "We have similar ships. We call them theatre ships, but does this double as one of those?"
"Testament. Exiv likes that kind of thing. He can't seem to part ways with those fantasies and stories."
"Louis XIV loved plays enough to write scripts and perform in them himself, right?"
Terumoto smiled bitterly at that.
"He sees the whole world like that. ...That's what you call pride. He insists everything will play out the way he wants it to."
"That certainly is prideful."
That was Masazumi's honest opinion. And it seemed Terumoto was not joking either. There was no falsehood or affectation in her nod.
Hexagone Française had pride, the power to back up that pride, and the history as well.
The Testament promised that king he would be a conqueror. Thus the pride.
...I guess that's what it means to be both a large and powerful nation.
It was simply the truth.
Terumoto, one of that nation's leaders, turned toward the maid Belle de Marionnettes that carried in a thick table by making it hover. She spoke to the maid in the lead who had long blonde hair.
"We don't need any chairs for now. We can sit once we've reached more of a decision."
"Testament, princess. ...What about tea for our guests?"
"You stay here and prepare some, Mouri-01."
"Testament," said the maid named Mouri-01. She then looked to the rear deck.
Masazumi also looked back and saw a cargo lift that descended into the ship.
The lift was piled high with flower-laden side tables and sweets-filled buckets.
Mouri-01 beckoned toward a side table with a tea set on it.
Immediately, the side table bearing a pot and cups slid across the deck.
Masazumi understood this was gravitational control.
But it was very precise. The table did not wobble and its speed was unwavering.
Mal-Ga: "That's too accurate. ...Want to try sniping her, Margot?"
Gold Mar: "Maybe if it takes a collision course toward Seijun. Oh, but..."
Masazumi soon realized what had caught Naito's attention.
At the lift, the pile of tables, flower pots, sweets, and snacks had all floated up.
Terumoto's word acted as a cue. It all slid toward them, circled around, gently lowered its speed, and danced through the air.
The flowers were piled up, the tablecloth laid out, and partitions and decorative plants lined up around them. And with one last wobble...
"I hope this is sufficient."
Mouri-01 spoke and it all came to a stop.
In an instant, the tea party was prepared before Masazumi's eyes.
A gentle wind blew through. It was a wind of the open sky, but the ship's buffering reduced it to a light breeze.
This wind wasn't here before, thought Masazumi.
She realized Mouri-01 had begun pouring the teapot's contents into cups. She used her gravitational control to serve them on the table, and...
"Would you like some as well, Lady Terumoto?"
"Pour me a cup too. This won't last long, but I know I'll be thirsty."
Masazumi focused on the people behind her.
Vice President: "Horizon, Asama, and Mitotsudaira. That's a fair number of people."
Me: Me too, me too, me too. Can you not see me? I'm here. Right here."
Without even looking over, Horizon hit him with a punch to the side.
It produced a decent sound and Terumoto nodded.
Horizon also nodded.
"I can also do joint locks. I learned them from a site on the divine network."
"Umm, does that mean you've been attacking me with moves you only ever saw written about on the divine network?"
I imagine so, thought Masazumi as she faced forward.
"What about you? Who else did you bring to this meeting?"
"Mouri-01 will be supporting me, but we've got plenty more people below deck. Also..."
Terumoto looked to the lift.
A few figures were visible where the table sets and flowers had been lined and piled up before. The chairs had been left behind and a person had a small ninja Mouse with her:
"Testament. ...It has been a while, Musashi Vice President."
"Me too! Me too, me too! We met before too!"
Ujinao turned toward the idiot but then frowned.
Hori-ko: "Does she not remember you? I suppose we could not expect an unpopular entertainer to leave more of an impact..."
Me: "Wait! You can't count me out quite yet!"
Fine, then, thought Masazumi. She decided to help him out here because leaving him to his own devices would be far more dangerous.
So she thought back to that previous meeting and spoke.
"You remember there being a weird nudist around when we met with Yoshitsune and the others at that IZUMO bar, right? He did the topknot."
"Oh, that's right."
Ujinao nodded and the idiot shouted down at the Musashi visible off the port side of the deck.
"Did you hear that!? My nudity is like my calling card! We can't even start the diplomacy until I strip!"
After about 3 seconds, a bullet flew from the Musashi and grazed the idiot along the side of the head.
Mal-Ga: "Ah, I missed. Margot, why did that happen? Did I setup Schwarz Fräulein wrong?"
Gold Mar: "Hmm, the height was correct and you took the earth's rotation into account, so it was probably their atmospheric buffering that sent it off course."
Me: "Wait! Are you trying to kill me!?"
Tachibana Wife: "No, I think that would only have caused three flips."
Tachibana Husband: "Ha ha. Gin, that is a rather low assessment."
They never, ever change, do they? thought Masazumi.
"Anyway," said Ujinao as she removed two swords from her shoulders. She placed them on a chair sitting on the lift and she reattached the ones on her hips to their hard points.
...Is that to show she does not intend to fight but is not letting her guard down?
Houjou had to have their thoughts on this too.
Masazumi decided she might as well ask about someone else.
"Where is P.A. Oda's Takigawa?"
"She is acting independently of us." Terumoto shrugged. "P.A. Oda is supposed to be the enemy of both Mouri and Houjou. But what we've done will probably be seen as assisting Takigawa's history recreation. ...Of course, that is more than worth it if some of Musashi's forces are diverted to deal with her."
Mouri really was their enemy. In that case...
"What is your reasoning for having us play Hashiba's role in the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle?"
"They are currently attacking Hexagone Française. That is a violation of the history recreation. Because it ignores that we wanted to do the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle here, you see. And so we hoped Musashi would fill in for P.A. Oda in the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle we have prepared. ...Seeing as you're Matsudaira, who should be part of Hashiba's forces in this time period."
...That was fast.
Masazumi realized the meeting had already begun.
The others must have noticed too because words appeared on her sign frame.
Novice: "She's trying to restrict our actions here, isn't she?"
Flat Vassal: "Eh? What do you mean? Wasn't that just stating the current situation?"
It was more than that.
Vice President: "Mouri Terumoto just said that Hashiba did not show up for their Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle, so Mouri chose Matsudaira as a replacement because we 'work for Hashiba in this time period'."
The implications of that must have gotten through to them because everyone briefly fell silent.
Eventually, Mitotsudaira spoke.
Silver Wolf: "So...she's saying we are supposed to be working for Hashiba?"
Vice President: "Precisely. ...Basically, she is pointing out that we are somewhat ignoring the history recreation in our actions. And she is implicitly telling us to turn a blind eye to any minor issues on their side."
She is a forceful negotiator, thought Masazumi.
"It would seem everyone is here," said Ujinao.
She now stood across the table from Masazumi and some distance to Terumoto's side. That distance showed they were not united but they were on the same side.
Terumoto crossed her arms when she saw Ujinao's positioning.
"Then let's keep this simple. I don't like complicated things."
She took a breath and said more.
"Anne said a lot at Magdeburg, didn't she?"
"Judge. ...We heard a lot from her then."
The present situation was thanks to that.
Terumoto gave a deep nod when she saw Masazumi was aware of that.
She raised her eyebrows a bit, crossed her arms, and then slowly opened her mouth.
"How about we throw all that out?"
Eh? thought Mitotsudaira.
...Aren't we supposed to be reaching a consensus about the battle tomorrow!?
Why would they suddenly bring up that secret meeting at Magdeburg?
"Listen carefully, all of you." Terumoto uncrossed her arms and pointed into the western sky to the left. "You said you were going to stop Hashiba or whatever, but Hashiba is already at our doorstep."
Bell: "A neighborhood...friend...?"
Flat Vassal: "It does sound like it, but that's probably not what she means."
Wise Sister: "But come to think of it, Hashiba really is attacking them, aren't they?"
Hori-ko: "Now, Masazumi-sama, how will you respond to this brutal attack right off the bat?"
Vice President: "Must be nice not being in the hot seat!!"
Righteousness: "Wait just a second. ...Oh, and I can see all this. That's not a problem, is it?"
Vice President: "No, that's not a problem. This has to do with Kantou, so it's best for you to see it, Satomi Student Council President. ...So what it is?"
Righteousness: "Musashi became Hashiba's enemy because of the Magdeburg meeting. We said we would fight back against Hashiba, who had become a threat to Europe, in order to gain European support as Westphalia approaches. That was the reasoning, right?"
Yoshiyasu voiced her objection.
Righteousness: "So why would they criticize us on that now? Hexagone Française is Hashiba's enemy as well, so why would they use that to bind us?"
Masazumi knew what she was trying to say and understood why she was saying it.
Terumoto was essentially saying that Hexagone Française had set them up.
Hexagone Française had pushed them to action and was now using that action as a shield to attack them.
Yoshiyasu was calling that unfair. However...
Vice President: "That is what we call international politics. Got that, Satomi Student Council President?"
Vice President: "We agreed to their suggestion. From that point on, all responsibility lies with us. If you agree to something while fully prepared for anything that might mean, then you must also be prepared for the proposer to backstab you. If a mistake was made, it is my responsibility for not preparing any kind of insurance against betrayal."
"So," said Masazumi.
Vice President: "This is no more than some light jabs. Think about it. They are asking us to not question the areas where Mouri has gone too far. This is not a threat or a warning from Mouri. They are going in strong and giving us a hint of how harsh international exchanges can be, but they are effectively lowering their heads to us. Do you know what that is called?"
Vice President: "It's vainglory, you idiot."
Me: "Th-the person who resorts to calling someone an idiot is the real idiot. Heh hehh. Seijun, you idiot!!"
Responding would only encourage him, so she focused on ignoring him.
But, she thought. The night before, she had decided to claim they had cornered Hashiba as per Anne's request. She had intended to use that as a bargaining chip against Hashiba in Europe. But now...
...They want us to do away with Anne's negotiation entirely.
Now, then, thought Masazumi. Why did Mouri change their mind?
...I mean, it is true they're under attack by Hashiba.
That was blatantly obvious.
...So is that the motivation behind this?
She tilted her head and tapped her sign frame.
Vice President: "Hey, Treasurer, are you ready to prostrate?"
Marube-ya: "Huh!? Prostrations are the product of one's ever-changing mood and can't be forced, but money could always overcome that issue! How much!?"
Vice President: "Never mind then."
Worshiper: "That was fast! That was a fast decision, Flat Honda-kun!"
Masazumi concluded that the Treasurer was useless.
But if Mouri was here to protest the Hashiba invasion...
Vice President: "Does that make this a protest negotiation...?"
Silver Wolf: "Masazumi! Good job getting the right kanji for that one!"
Getting it right is normal.
But, thought Masazumi. If they were doing away with the negotiation between Anne and Musashi, it meant they no longer thought Musashi could corner Hashiba. Also, the Roi-Soleil was on the verge of a battle with Hashiba back in Hexagone Française. Which meant...
...They have no intention of negotiating with Hashiba to stop Hashiba's attack...
"So...what does that mean, Mouri Terumoto?"
"Testament, surely you already know that: you failed to hold up your end of the bargain. ...You didn't stop Hashiba. It's no more than that."
Not what I meant, thought Masazumi with a mental click of her tongue. Terumoto had just dodged the question.
...You're hiding your real purpose here, aren't you!?
But Terumoto moved her fingers. She lightly flicked the table.
"You have not kept your promise, so I would like to retract the promise Anne made with you. ...The promise to side with you at Westphalia."
The surface of Musashino had rows of student housing at the center.
Most of them had been destroyed when the Sanada Terrestrial Dragon named Torahide went on his rampage the other day, so largescale repairs were underway.
The overall plan was to remove wide block segments down to the third level belowground and replace them, guide frames and all. The initial removal had taken some time for fear of unexpected accidents, but...
"Once the replacement work begins, it doesn't take long."
Ookubo viewed the construction site with a protective yellow kanzashi in her hair.
She heard the clanging of metal and the crackling sparks of welding. The attachment of the guide frame and wide block segments required moving the damaged materials out of the way, so starting from the outer edges would delay construction. That was why the construction customarily began from the center.
Currently, a transport ship was using a suspended pallet to lower a portion of an atrium nature park into place. The segment already had trees growing from it and it was lowered into a large hole opened in Musashino.
The bottom was visible when the sun shined down it, but it was still a further hole at the bottom of an atrium.
"It's so big," muttered Ookubo as she looked up into the sky.
The Mouri diplomatic ship was in the sky, although not quite overhead.
Their Vice President was holding a meeting there. She would be debating Mouri and Houjou's representatives about the battle beginning tomorrow.
Ookubo was not following along with the divine chat.
The Representative Committee Head only worked for the high ranking officers. She was said to be equal to the Special Duty Officers, but she actually worked for them and her authority was technically lower than theirs. Also...
...If I read the records of the Vice President's meeting, I know I'll see a lot that makes me question her sanity again...
She would listen to the report once a decision was made. The real-time commentary would drive her insane.
Besides, no matter how much she complained...
"I know the Vice President can work this out..."
With that, she reached for the bamboo bottle hanging from her waist hard point part.
It was summer.
The construction site was quite sunny, so she was thirsty.
She listened to the pounding of hammers while drinking the yuzu sports drink her mother had made at home.
She tasted the tartness of citrus and the unique flavor of yuzu followed by a honey aftertaste deep in her throat.
She heard the cicada cries and realized, Yes, it is that season, isn't it?
"Milady! Excuse me, but it's Kanou! The Vice President just screwed up at the meeting up there! She was told we will not receive support at Westphalia because Hashiba attacked Mouri!"
Ookubo spat out her sports drink.
Nagaya-Stable: "Vice President! What are you doing!?"
Ahh, I wish she hadn't noticed this, thought Masazumi.
Ookubo tended to notice small details, but she had a bad habit of expecting others to do the same.
So Masazumi ignored the sign frame of complaints and faced Terumoto.
...It is true that Hashiba's invasion means we ran out of time to uphold our end of the bargain.
So what were they supposed to do?
At this rate, they would receive no support at Westphalia, which had been their initial goal.
That would leave them in a disadvantaged position for the Peace of Westphalia, but...
Nagaya-Stable: "You've screwed up a political decision, Vice President! You're in trouble now! All of the fighting you forced on everyone since Magdeburg has been a waste! You should think about what this means for your future!"
Vice President: "Yes, and since you accepted my decision, you should think about what this means for your future as well."
Vice President: "What do you mean 'eh'? ...This should be obvious. At the special student general assembly, you challenged my position but ultimately accepted it."
So to sum up...
Vice President: "When I go down, I'm definitely taking you with me. ...And if you don't like that, you'd better think up three different ways of combating public opinion."
Nagaya-Stable: "Y-you are the worst! That is unnecessarily cruel!"
Ookubo complained, but she would still do her job.
Having a capable underclassman really took a load of your mind.
They had to do something about Mouri.
For now, she had to think up a few different excuses. But first...
"I have a question for Mouri." Masazumi chose her words carefully. "Let us say, hypothetically, that Musashi has not upheld our promise from Magdeburg."
"Ohh, ohh. You have guts. And?"
Masazumi swallowed a groan of indignation and continued.
"In that scenario, what would Mouri demand of Musashi?"
Going with that, are we? thought Terumoto.
If Musashi's Vice President had asked what Mouri would do in that scenario...
...I would just bluntly say I'm not telling her Mouri's plans.
But that was not the question. Musashi's Vice President had chosen her words such that Musashi was involved. And she had made sure to ask what they would "demand" in "that scenario".
She was asking if Mouri intended to demand some kind of repayment for Musashi failing to uphold their promise.
If Terumoto said nothing here, there would be no demand made of Musashi.
If she did make a demand, Musashi would be able to put together a countermeasure against it.
It was a decent form for a two-option question.
They had whittled away all excess so they could determine their opponent's intent while they were attacked.
...That's how a small nation responds.
They stuck with it to the bitter end and never once let their guard down.
They attempted every last method of survival.
In a positive light, it made them persistent.
In a negative light, it made them desperate and stubborn.
This could be troublesome, thought Terumoto with a deep sigh in her heart.
"I have to hand it to Anne."
Matsudaira would become a large nation, but they primarily took a defensive stance. They negotiated by latching onto their opponent's statements and stripping them of value.
...No, it isn't just that.
A large nation could not be run by defense alone.
When a large and expanding nation negotiated, they would always have periods of attack.
So when would that arrive?
Terumoto spoke with that in mind.
"There is one thing we must demand of the Far East for failing to stop Hashiba."
"We ask that you give Hexagone Française rights to the history of Matsudaira, rulers of the Far East."
"You have not stopped Hashiba as they attempt to conquer the Far East, so we cannot entrust you with ruling the Far East."
The Roi-Soleil listened to Terumoto's voice from the roof of the Louvre Palace, a mansion in the center of Paris.
"Tomorrow, our stupid sun will defeat Hashiba. Once that happens, Anne's promise with Musashi will lose all meaning."
She did not follow that up by asking if they understood, but the Roi-Soleil spoke quietly all the same.
"I understand, Terumoto. This is what you are telling us."
"Hexagone Française and Mouri are the strongest. We have overcome the worries of the previous Chancellor, Anne, and we are advancing to the next stage. That is what this means."
"Leave the world domination to us and hand over all your rights, Musashi."
Masazumi heard what Terumoto said.
...I can't believe this.
If who got to control the world was decided by how they handled Hashiba, they would be at a severe disadvantage.
That would instead give an opportunity to Hexagone Française as they fought Hashiba in Paris the following day.
That meant Hexagone Française had the advantage at the moment.
Novice: "We don't have tomorrow's results yet, so they can say whatever they want. They can puff themselves up with impunity."
Hori-ko: "Ho ho? ...This means we should root for Hashiba-sama tomorrow, doesn't it?"
Gold Mar: "That is quite the interpretation there."
But they were right.
Terumoto's negotiation was a problem at the moment. She was supporting her side using the future, which did not allow for immediate confirmation or denial. And...
...Vainglory is difficult to work with.
Masazumi thought about that word.
If Terumoto was puffing herself up and stating things about someone else, her statements could be rejected.
But she was puffing herself up and stating things about herself. Since it began and ended on her side, there was no room for Masazumi to interrupt.
There was only one effective thing she could say to Terumoto now.
Vice President: "If only I could say we wait and see what happens tomorrow."
Asama: "We're fighting tomorrow too, so our situation could change again."
Silver Wolf: "Also, this meeting is about the present."
That was exactly it.
This vainglory had time and the situation on its side.
"How about it, Musashi? Hand over your power. The power that Anne left with you."
"Let me ask one thing."
Masazumi tried speaking to Terumoto, but...
"No. ...I don't think so, Musashi."
"Listen," she began. "Before, you asked a question and I gave an answer. So now it is time for you to answer my question. ...So what will it be? Will you hand over your rights? Well?"
"...I will not," replied Masazumi. "We were to ensure Hashiba retired from the history recreation and we were to support Westphalia. ...Those roles are not yet over. So, Mouri Terumoto, we have no intention of transferring our rights to you."
"What are you talking about?"
Masazumi listened to what Terumoto said.
"Hashiba is attacking us. Don't you get that?"
"Let me ask one thing."
"Again with the questioning?"
"Yes. ...It's to ensure you don't make a fool of yourself."
Terumoto frowned at that.
But she must have been curious because she crossed her arms and lightly nodded.
Masazumi took that as permission to speak and did so with a tone of question in her voice.
"Where is Mouri at the moment?"
Ujinao mentally nodded at the Musashi Vice President's words.
...So she is making her attack there.
The standard negotiating tactic would be to invalidate Terumoto's use of the future as insurance by saying Mouri and Hashiba had yet to settle things between them.
After all, Terumoto's display of confidence was based on Musashi failing to stop Hashiba's invasion, but that assumed a victory on their part the following day.
Advancing things based on an uncertain factor was a gamble.
So the standard tactic would be to point that out and rebuke Terumoto for it.
...But doing that would mean war.
Mouri was here to fight.
Terumoto had set up this meeting to see if they could possibly resolve this through negotiation instead of war.
If that was not possible, they only had to continue with the war as planned.
But the Musashi Vice President had avoided that risk.
Instead of trying to invalidate Terumoto's claim, she attacked a deficiency from a different viewpoint.
"Where is Mouri at the moment?"
The meaning of her question was simple: Mouri was here.
"That is Hexagone Française in the west, not Mouri, correct?"
The Musashi Vice President had more to say.
"And if that is not Mouri in the west...then it is also not Hashiba in the west. Isn't that right?"
That was sophistry.
Ujinao knew the Musashi Vice President was trying to establish a falsehood using conflicting logic.
If Terumoto was going to lie, then the Musashi Vice President would twist the gap in that logic to establish a falsehood of her own.
...That is ridiculous...
But Terumoto had a simple response.
She shook her head and spoke.
"Sorry, but that isn't going to work."
Terumoto spread her arms in front of the Musashi Vice President.
"Listen. I am here speaking with you because you are here in place of Hashiba. ...Do you understand what that means?"
She stared at the Musashi Vice President.
"That situation no longer applies if that is not Hashiba in the west. Are you sure you understand that, Musashi Vice President?"
She took in a breath and then let out words. She was speaking to this opponent who was taking the current situation too lightly.
"Listen." Strength filled her eyes and her words rose from her gut to her throat. "Our Roi-Soleil is actually taking this seriously for once. He insists that he will defeat Hashiba. And his preparations are quite good for something an idiot thought up. ...In other words, Hashiba is ignoring the history recreation and attacking Paris. Since Hashiba won't take it seriously, we've come here to complete the Invasion of Mouri against you. No, I guess we're the ones asking for it. ...To be attacked I mean, not something dirty!! You can only do this with us because that idiot is being an idiot in the west. Keep that in mind when you speak!!"
Masazumi hid a gasp when she heard Terumoto's shouted words.
...She actually gave a legitimate response to my sophistry!
Tsukinowa trembled on her shoulder and tried to pull back, so she supported him and reassessed her opinion of Terumoto.
Terumoto was not the type to force through a false accusation or irrational argument.
Her vainglory was backed by solid defensive and offensive arguments.
By the time Masazumi realized her mistake, it was too late.
Terumoto clapped her spread hands, producing a pleasant noise.
That loud sound seemed to be her cue to speak.
"Listen." Terumoto viewed Masazumi through the gap between her parting hands. "Our meeting here and the Invasion of Mouri are all thanks to my idiot. ...I am vainglory and he is pride. This time is a product of both, but are you going to waste it all, Musashi Vice President? ...Well, are you?"
"Then let me say this."
Masazumi held Tsukinowa.
Not because he was cute, but because she could not have him running away. After all...
"Are you stupid, Mouri Terumoto...!?" She raised her voice. "Hashiba has attacked you!? I know the truth of that nonsense! You have barely put up a defense against Hashiba's invasion over the past few days!"
Unturning: "Oh, so our analysis from the day before yesterday came in handy."
Tachibana Husband: "Isn't that great, Gin? ...The Musashi Vice President is using it as a weapon."
That was exactly right.
They had been monitoring Hexagone Française's actions recently.
They had been worried about Hashiba's invasion, but they had never expected what they found:
"You let them attack you while barely defending? Are you stupid!? I'm guessing you were diverting some of your forces to come here and luring them deep inside Hexagone Française so they wouldn't notice your trip to Kantou!"
Tsukinowa bristled in fear, but she rubbed his back to get her thoughts through to him.
Sorry, Tsukinowa. But this is definitely my only choice with her.
In other words...
This was an exchange of blows.
Masazumi clenched her right fist as she spoke.
"All you did was expose your headquarters to danger! If you didn't even understand that, you have no right to speak of ruling the world!"
"So you can talk tough, can you?"
Terumoto lowered her spread arms to her sides.
And she pointed her right hand at Masazumi.
"Do you want to rule the world that badly after you needed Anne to save your lives!?"
"You were in range of the dragon line reactor explosion too! Asama!"
A sign frame appeared by Mitotsudaira's hands and it displayed a map of the situation back then.
The area around Magdeburg was covered in red.
"Look! This is the estimated range of that dragon line reactor explosion! You were here! So you were protected by Anne as much as we were!"
Asama: "W-wait, can you give me a heads-up next time!? I about had a heart attack."
Vice President: "Well, I really just made that claim before even checking. Good thing I was right."
Almost Everyone: "Stop making that kind of gamble!"
But it was all about momentum here. It was now Masazumi's turn to swing her clenched right fist and point at Terumoto.
Umm, what should I say? Oh, I know.
"We are still in the process of cornering Hashiba, but you allowed them to invade deep inside your territory because of this unnecessary plotting of yours. We cannot take responsibility for your actions! That is our opinion!"
Flat Vassal: "Huh? Wasn't our whole deal that we would accept anything in our international relations?"
Novice: "That's why she called it an opinion. The international rules can create unreasonable situations, so then we provide an 'opinion' for why we can't accept it. ...To put it another way, stating an opinion is a way of ending a topic of discussion."
Four Eyes: "Toussaint, can I search the divine network to see what site you pulled that from?"
Mal-Ga: "Oh, sorry. I already did. ...I'll send you the link."
Novice: "Why are you two messaging each other!?"
I'm glad to see they get along, but they really need to stop doing diplomacy without me.
Anyway, thought Masazumi with a sigh.
...I can't use an opinion like this too often.
If she used an opinion for everything, it would mean she was not following the proper international rules.
Using an opinion was the most unfair method available to them, but she had given a clear reason for using it.
They would not take responsibility for Mouri's self-destructive action.
That would be enough of a reason to excuse this opinion.
But that would make it more difficult to use this method in the future. So...
"If you object to our opinion, we can discuss it at a later opportunity."
That ended the discussion of Hashiba's invasion. If Terumoto objected, she had to wait until some other day. That would allow them to discuss what mattered at the moment. And...
"...How about that?"
She had used the enemy's own words to negate their claim about Hashiba's invasion.
Or she thought she had.
But Terumoto smiled.
"Hashiba invaded because we let them in? ...Of course we did. We had no other choice and we have a legitimate reason for doing so."
What possible reason had Mouri had for their self-destructive action?
Masazumi prepared herself for whatever was coming, but someone suddenly stepped up beside her.
It was Horizon.
The girl raised her right hand.
"I know the answer to that one."
"You do, Horizon?"
"Judge." Horizon nodded and spoke to Terumoto. "It was because of summer break, wasn't it?"
"Testament," confirmed Terumoto. "That's right. Summer break. Musashi, you can see why the Roi-Soleil is so excited, can't you? It will soon be summer break for you, for Hexagone Française, for Mouri, for Hashiba, for P.A. Oda, and for every other nation! Once that happens, school events take priority and all international politics will stop. But...with the exception of the history recreation."
"We let Hashiba in because that was the history recreation of the Invasion of Mouri and we concluded we had to finish that before summer break began. ...Once we realized we could use the Siege of Odawara to double as the Invasion of Mouri, we changed the battlefield, but Hashiba apparently did not grasp our intention and seems intent on invading Paris."
She knew this argument only worked because she made her claim first.
But that was why she said it.
...That's what vainglory is for...!
Terumoto mentally clenched her teeth and played her role.
She had to justify their actions and demand Musashi take responsibility for not restraining Hashiba. Meaning...
"Up to a point, Hashiba's actions were an official history recreation of the Invasion of Mouri. They were Testament Union approved. And that happened because Musashi failed to stop Hashiba, correct?"
Terumoto slammed her right hand on the table.
A nice sound rang out and she roared her next line.
"Well!? Don't try to weasel out of this, Musashi! ...How are you going to take responsibility for Hashiba's invasion!?"
The Musashi Vice President was not moving.
But that stillness was not born of fear or nerves.
She calmly spread out a sign frame, breathed in, and looked to Terumoto.
...Is she gonna do this?
That sign frame apparently had a lot of information written on it. That was obvious enough from the way she occasionally looked down at it as if keeping time.
The enemy still intended to fight.
Terumoto fought to resist the smile she felt tugging on the corners of her mouth.
Just then, the Musashi Princess, who had stepped up next to the Musashi Vice President, pushed aside their Chancellor and raised her right hand.
"May I say one thing, Terumoto-sama?"
"Huh? What is it?"
"Judge," said the Musashi Princess.
She expressionlessly opened her mouth as Terumoto and the Musashi Vice President watched.
"You just posed a question and I provided a response: summer break. That was the correct answer."
"The Musashi side has won one point in this negotiation."
- The word Masazumi used for protest is pronounced the same as the previous chapter's "oral techniques", but uses different kanji.
|Back to Chapter 18||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 20|