Horizon:Volume 6A Chapter 21
Chapter 21: Debating Girls at the Debate Table
Point Allocation (One Day)
Flat Vassal: "...Eh? Why would a war with Mouri and Houjou liberate Kantou?"
Masazumi looked up when she saw Adele's question.
She took her eyes off of Terumoto and Ujinao and she stared into the distance.
...It really is summer.
With that thought, she lowered her gaze once more.
She was glad they were outside. Being able to stare into the distance allowed her to reset her mood.
She suppressed her exhilaration and looked to her sign frame instead of Terumoto. And...
Vice President: "That is a good question, Adele."
Why would Musashi fighting Mouri and Houjou bring about the liberation of Kantou?
Vice President: "Because an existence with great authority will be created here."
It was obvious if you thought carefully about it.
Mouri had been insisting that Musashi transfer them the rights to Matsudaira's authority. With war as the alternative.
But Musashi could do the same thing. So if war did break out and Mouri lost, Musashi could have the rights to Mouri's authority transferred to them.
...That means this war will result in Musashi, Mouri, and Hexagone Française merging or uniting in some way.
What would happen if Europe's conqueror and the Far East's future ruler were joined through the Siege of Odawara?
Vice President: "The result would be a nation carrying such a powerful history recreation that not even the Testament Union could restrain them. ...Hashiba will not like this war. If it qualifies as a history recreation, two powerful conquerors will be joined as one."
10ZO: "But what will Hashiba do about it?"
Vice President: "They will have to intervene."
It was a simple matter.
Vice President: "Hashiba is not present for the current Siege of Odawara. They are also failing to participate in the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle. That gives them the right to intervene in this war. And if they manage to defeat Musashi and Mouri in the process..."
Vice President: "With the Testament Union under their control, Hashiba can rule over Mouri and Matsudaira to become the greatest power in the Far East."
Novice: "This was a good decision. Because even if Hashiba has a large force in Kantou, that is not Hashiba's main fleet. I doubt Hashiba's control of them is perfect. So while Hexagone Française holds Hashiba in place, Mouri and Houjou will quickly complete their war. Once they absorb Musashi, they intend to use that triple union to crush Hashiba's Kantou forces."
Righteousness: "...So that's what you meant by liberating Kantou!"
Yoshiyasu's surprise was to be expected.
Righteousness: "Houjou was plotting this right under Mlasi P.A. Oda's nose...?"
Ujinao nodded at the Musashi Vice President's words.
That was a future they could bring about with this war. Meaning...
...To retake Kantou from Hashiba.
The great authority that would result from the Siege of Odawara would act as bait to lure Hashiba in to be attacked.
That was why they had gotten P.A. Oda's Takigawa involved.
She would not deny this was underhanded.
If they went this far, Hashiba was sure to have its Kantou forces intervene.
Given the exhaustion of Houjou's forces and Takigawa's situation, Hashiba would move in to take it all for themselves.
But that was precisely when Kantou would be liberated.
That was their plan.
The plan required the creation of such a great authority, so they had needed to push Musashi to war and urge them to transfer their authority.
It was certainly forceful.
But Mouri was prepared to risk their own nation's authority in exchange.
Hashiba would never overlook a fight for the combined authority of the Far East's future ruler and Europe's conqueror.
Hashiba would likely interrupt during the midpoint when the winner and loser were decided.
They would add to the large force occupying Edo and Satomi and they would send any free P.A. Oda personnel to Kantou.
This would be far greater than a battle on Houjou land.
But, thought Ujinao.
This is the only time at which we can liberate Kantou from Hashiba.
Their preliminary calculations said they could fight Hashiba if these three nations joined together.
Hashiba's main force would not be present.
So it would work.
...And we will have revenge.
She thought back to when Musashi had fought the Battle of Mikatagahara. She had seen Edo and Satomi devastated and occupied.
The Houjou Association of Indian States was Mlasi and close to P.A. Oda. That had prevented them from acting carelessly. And their actions would not have changed the overall outcome.
But Edo and Satomi had been occupied.
So Ujinao had made a decision.
She had decided it was her duty to take Kantou back.
And she had concluded that it was the Kantou way to hope Musashi survived to the end.
If possible, she wanted to protect the ship he was aboard.
Her public face stubbornly insisted on war while her private face hoped for the opposite.
Was it a good or bad thing that he was not currently on the Musashi?
If it was a good thing, this would be easier on her.
So she spoke.
"What will you do, Musashi Vice President? ...Your decision here could earn your nation the right to rule this entire world."
"I am aware of that."
The Musashi Vice President faced her and spoke clearly.
And she raised the hands she had placed on the table.
She turned toward the gentle wind – toward Terumoto.
Then she spoke to Terumoto.
"Do you still want war?"
Masazumi saw Terumoto nod in response to her question.
It was a solid nod. Her expression looked somewhat relaxed, but almost like...
...Like she's saying "if you insist".
Masazumi understood why that look covered her face. Because...
"Mouri and Hexagone Française. ...I understand now why you want the right to rule the Far East."
"Oh, do you now?"
"Judge," replied Masazumi. And...
...In a way, my next words will be the greatest "sign".
With that in mind, she slowly uttered the words.
"For the world. ...Not for 'the Far East', but for 'the world'. Isn't that right?"
Terumoto stopped moving.
She had intended to dodge the issue. She had intended to show no reaction whatsoever to whatever the girl might say. However...
She could not use her vainglory.
The Musashi Vice President's line was too straightforward for her to dodge and she could not block it with her vainglory either.
Terumoto covered her face with her right hand.
"Sorry!" she shouted. "My bad, Exiv! They caught on!!"
Laughter echoed from atop a mansion in central Paris.
It came from the Roi-Soleil. He sat on the roof, held his stomach, and laughed.
"Ha ha ha...! Oh, how funny!"
He allowed himself to laugh.
We may be facing a major battle, my subjects, but please allow me to laugh like an idiot. Because...
"Terumoto, to think our shared secret would be discovered by our greatest enemy! It seems your vainglory failed to mask your own joy!"
Honestly, Musashi's Vice President is something else.
"Terumoto, you are so cute. And pretty too. I know that brief look on your face in the instant your own unwanted joy removes your mask of vainglory."
The Roi-Soleil embraced the signe cadre and bent backwards.
"Just imagining it is making me tremble, Terumoto."
Asama saw Terumoto smash a nearby sign frame with a swift punch.
Silver Wolf: "What an odd expression of love..."
Hori-ko: "I see. I could learn from her."
Silver Wolf: "Y-you don't have to use that on my king! You don't!"
But Terumoto sighed while the light of the shattered sign frame washed over her.
"Hey, Musashi Vice President. What will you do?"
Asama did not understand Terumoto's question.
Asama: "Umm, Masazumi? What did you mean when you said 'the world' like you were turning into Neshinbara-kun?"
Novice: "No, Asama-kun! If it was me, I would say 'the world...!?' "
Four Eyes: "Oh? The next time I'm reading one of your books in front of you, I'll make sure to read lines like that aloud."
Novice: "Please no!"
But what had that meant?
Masazumi responded while her shoulders relaxed.
"Hexagone Française carries an incredible ambition. And they desire any and all power to make it a reality. This has led them to the right to rule the Far East, which can be seen as full authority over the current world."
What would they use that for?
Masazumi spread her hands and explained.
"Hexagone Française intends to leave for the outside world and conquer the true Europe."
The Roi-Soleil reached toward the broken signe cadre's shards.
Terumoto was beyond them. That was a fact. So on the rooftop, he grabbed the scattered shards of light and embraced them as if rubbing them on his body.
Another signe cadre appeared nearby and immediately exploded.
The people working down below watched as the Roi-Soleil flipped along the roof seven times and fell off.
"Okay, everyone. Back to work."
They all returned to their respective work.
"If you've figured it out, you've figured it out."
Masazumi heard Terumoto say that.
Mouri's leader moved her right hand as if to scoop something up within it.
"The future we picture in our mind's eye is one of fully conquering the outside world. Because once Matsudaira's rule begins after Sekigahara, it will be difficult for the other nations to do much of anything in the Far East. ...Part of it is dependent on the coming age and Westphalia, but there will be conflict over how the history recreation of Matsudaira's rule can coexist with the provisional rule of the Far East. So..."
"You plan to leave for the outside world?"
"Testament. If any nation can settle the outside world, it would be Tres España and us. After all, you can't hope to settle the outside world without aerial warships and Lourd de Marionnettes. And we have a lot of nonhumans, so we have greater odds of survival in that harsh land."
"B-but how much would really be gained by doing that...?" asked Asama.
Shinto provided support across the entire Far East, but they did not yet reach the outside world.
Asama could easily imagine the hardships of leaving those Shinto divine protections.
But Terumoto had an answer.
"How much would be gained? We could liberate the Far East from the provisional rule. And if we secure the land early, we get first pick and we can even take over the territory of other nations and lease or sell it to them. Do you have any idea how much we could profit from selling off pieces of the world? Also..."
"Well, from a more personal perspective, I want to see the world that Hexagone Française was meant to have. And from a more practical perspective, the outside world's Hexagone Française is nearly twice the size of the Far East. There is a desire to own at least twice as much land instead of ruling the Far East. If we became the true conquerors of Europe, our influence would reach much further. Especially if we implemented that land leasing strategy I mentioned."
I see, thought Masazumi. The nations were testing out different methods of settling the outside world. It was still unknown how much success they would have, but they were at least making the attempt. However...
"Mouri Terumoto. ...Where did you get this idea?"
Attempting to leave the Far East was an absurd idea.
But Terumoto frowned when questioned about it.
"Don't you remember your negotiation in England? You're the one that said Musashi would support anyone who attempted to settle the outside world."
...Oh, right! That!!
Masazumi felt a cold sweat in her heart. She had unwittingly pulled a trigger within an unexpected person.
But she did not deny her own words. And she understood what this meant.
She had been addressing the entire world back then.
So if any nation would settle the outside world, Matsudaira would support them.
But Hexagone Française wanted to avoid as much risk as possible in that endeavor.
So they wanted full authority.
They wanted the backing of the entire Far East as they risked their nation on it.
But Musashi could not support just Hexagone Française after what they had said at England. If they did, England would protest since the meeting had occurred there.
That had of course been addressed to all of the nations, but Terumoto shook her head.
"Hexagone Française cannot allow England to take the lead. So while we drive Hashiba's forces out of Kantou, I thought we could also take your authority for ourselves."
"What will you do, Musashi? ...If we fight over each other's authority, Hashiba is bound to intervene to take it all for themselves. If we ally ourselves here, we won't wear down our forces and we won't create a single powerful authority, so Hashiba has to act cautiously."
"There's a simple answer to that." Masazumi raised a hand. "We go to war with Hashiba."
Masazumi saw countless sign frames well up around her.
They displayed everyone's faces, including Ookubo and Yoshiyasu's.
Neshinbara's was in the center and he swung his hands down.
On a count of three, he swung them back up and everyone responded in unison.
"That's not the answer!!"
Wise Sister: "Heh heh heh. Masazumi, you just couldn't hold it in any longer, could you!? Now raze Kantou and subjugate them all! It's high time they trembled in fear of a warmonger's impatience!"
Vice President: "No, wait! I have a real reason for saying that!"
Mal-Ga: You do realize your reason will be entirely meaningless to people with a different set of values, don't you?"
Vice President: "No, it isn't about that! We'll work with Mouri and Houjou to liberate Kantou!"
Silver Wolf: "But...how? We can't form an alliance."
Masazumi sent her voice to them all in response to Mitotsudaira.
Vice President: "Have you forgotten that our home base at Edo was occupied? There is a perfect history recreation for taking it back, isn't there?"
Righteousness: "Hashiba's second Korean expedition. ...The Keichou Campaign!"
Yoshiyasu came to a stop as she walked along Okutama's bow deck to meet the others.
...It's finally happening! The Kantou Liberation is here!
She shivered despite standing in the summer sun.
"The Kantou Liberation. And the Keichou Campaign too..."
The Keichou Campaign was the history recreation of Hashiba's expedition to the Korean Peninsula that occurred at a later time.
The Hashiba forces had retreated from the peninsula when Hashiba died back in the Far East, but...
"We're doing the history recreation of that here...!?"
Masazumi heard Terumoto speak.
"Hey, how are you planning to liberate Kantou? We don't have the authority to take part in that history recreation. And we gain nothing from it. It would be a waste of our forces."
"Judge," agreed Masazumi.
There was an answer to both of Mouri's concerns. She began with the second one: what they would gain from it.
"Listen, Mouri Terumoto. Listen carefully. If you do everything in your power to help liberate Kantou, something otherwise impossible will happen: Every last Kantou nation will support Mouri. Do you understand what that means?"
"Huh? What does that matt-..."
Terumoto's expression changed.
Her eyes briefly widened and then she brought a hand to her chin and lowered her head.
After a while...
"So that's it..."
"Eh!? What, what!?"
The idiot started hopping side to side behind Terumoto, but Masazumi did her best to ignore him. Mitotsudaira, if you could remove him with your silver chains, that would be great.
Meanwhile, Terumoto looked up.
"That's not a bad idea. ...It's not the same as full authority over the Far East, but it's still significant."
"Yes," agreed Masazumi as a question reached her sign frame.
Bell: "Eh? Wh-what does...that mean?"
Wise Sister: "Heh heh heh. She's gone crazy! Masazumi's war power has filled her with a desire for war, so she no longer cares about the details! That's it, isn't it!?"
Vice President: "No, it isn't."
She heard a voice from below shouting "You're no fun!", but how far could that entertainer project her voice?
But one member of their class did understand.
Smoking Girl: "Suzu, think about the map. And not just of the Far East, of the entire world."
Yes. It was obvious when one viewed the full map of the world that was created from the records passed down since the Age of the Gods.
Smoking Girl: "The Far East is located east of the main continent. So if anyone tries to settle the outside world, the closest area is the east coast of that continent. Corresponding back to the Far East, that's Kantou. Meaning..."
Smoking Girl: "If Hexagone Française helps liberate Kantou, they will receive the support of the continent's eastern nations when they begin settling the outside world. ...Receiving the willing assistance of other nations can actually be less work than taking full authority and doing it yourself. Isn't that right?"
Vice President: "That's right. Traveling to the west end of the continent is sure to be a challenge, so having a bridgehead on the continent would mean a lot."
That just left one thing.
"Musashi Vice President, there is one problem."
Terumoto stated that "problem".
"How are we supposed to involve ourselves in the Kantou Liberation? Mouri has no right to do so."
"Then I have a request." Masazumi reached her right hand across the table. "I'm not asking for much and I won't ask for an alliance. But will you take my hand, Mouri Terumoto? Take my hand and I will tell you how you can participate in the Kantou Liberation. ...I apologize for acting all high and mighty when we're the ones asking you for help, but the decision is yours now."
Masazumi had spread her arms and held out a hand.
And she waited patiently for Terumoto.
Terumoto hesitated. Could she really be the one to decide everything here?
Her original plans had fallen apart and she was trying to work her way into the new flow of events.
Even if Mouri's forces would follow her command, this would greatly change their plans.
That was sure to cause some friction.
Damn, she thought.
...I can't find any vainglory at times like this.
A little vainglory would handle this with ease, but what could she do without it?
I'm kind of a pain in the ass, she thought while taking in a breath.
Just then, the person waiting by her side began to move.
It was Mouri-01. She held something up in front of Terumoto.
It was a signe cadre.
The message written there was from the idiot back home.
...Come on now.
She had assumed it contained instructions for her decision, since he was the national ruler, but...
"Terumoto, I would like a souvenir when you return."
"I want to hear all about everything you do there."
Terumoto swung her right hand.
With a snapping motion, she solidly slapped the Musashi Vice President's hand.
"This is how I show my agreement. I'm not about to shake hands like we're pals! Remember that!!"
Then she asked what she was most curious about right now.
"So how are you going to get us involved!?"
"We make a deal."
The Musashi Vice President's voice sounded dignified as she raised her hand which was red from the slap.
"Here, Mouri has asked Musashi for support because Hashiba's failure kept you from fighting the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle. In exchange, Musashi has a request for Mouri."
"As Satomi's protectors, Musashi must liberate Edo and Satomi via the Keichou Campaign, but our forces are not up to the task. So we would like to request Mouri's assistance."
This means war, thought Masazumi.
They were fast approaching a major war that would reshape the map of the Far East.
"First, the Houjou battle."
There was a bit of a process for that one. After all...
"We are basing it on the Siege of Odawara, but we must also hold the history recreation of the Tensho Jingo Conflict that precedes it."
The Tensho Jingo Conflict was a battle that occurred immediately after the Battle of Kanagawa.
Houjou and Matsudaira would fight over the portion of Kantou left open when Takigawa left and they would ultimately make peace.
That looked like a draw, but it would actually give Matsudaira an advantage.
Houjou would use that battle to approach Matsudaira, but...
"If we are going to use that as the opening battle for the Siege of Odawara duels, we need to think of some way of handling that. The problem is related to your personnel if we really do fight this battle using duels..."
"Testament. If both the Tensho Jingo Conflict and the Siege of Odawara are fought primarily via duels, it will put too great a burden on us. We mostly only have four fighters: me, Kotarou, and two others. I would appreciate it if we were given some reinforcements."
"Then I'll provide whatever you lack," said Terumoto as she looked left, toward the stern. "Those are our Belle de Marionnettes. Houjou has a lot of them too, but Houjou's mostly have identical, mass-produced personalities, while ours can act as individual commanders. So if we're gonna send you anyone, it should probably be them. ...How about it, Houjou? As the #1 Belle de Marionnette producer in the east, you'll probably be ashamed to ask, but do you want the help of our forces?"
Ujinao immediately nodded in response to Terumoto's question.
It looked like she had already given it deep thought, so she must have used the high-speed thoughts of a Belle de Marionnette.
So Ujinao lowered her head toward Terumoto.
"Testament. If you are willing to spare some in the name of cooperation."
"Sure thing." Terumoto smiled bitterly. "Think of it as our payment for letting us fight our battle here. And we can't fight too hard in the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle, so helping out like this means a lot. Also..."
"If we win those duels, it'll give us an advantage in the negotiations afterwards."
This was what war was.
Masazumi accepted it as the cruelty of reality, and...
"I hope you aren't thinking of holding back in these duels just because we hope to work together toward liberating Kantou."
"Of course not. ...My policy is to take every win I can get. You know what that means?" asked Terumoto. "Let your guard down, and we'll take everything for ourselves instead of working together with you."
"We will make an effort to ensure we can thank you for the warning."
Ujinao nodded and opened a sign frame.
She called up a map of Odawara.
"I will also call for the P.A. Oda forces in our territory to make up for our limited personnel. Their enemy is you, Musashi. And Hashiba's primary goal will be to protect Takigawa while she shows off here." She raised her eyebrows somewhat. "And now that our respective positions are clear, let me tell you something else. ...Sanada and Hashiba are working out a way to have the Siege of Kanie Castle double as Sanada’s 2nd Siege of Ueda."
...So that's what they're doing.
Masazumi was impressed by what Ujinao revealed. This was another major card played right at the end.
"Thank you for telling us that, Houjou Ujinao. ...Sanada is focused on the Osaka Campaign, aren't they? Completing the 2nd Siege of Ueda in advance will also benefit us, so we will accept that. And the Hashiba forces in Kantou are sure to take action during the Siege of Kanie Castle. When they do..."
"If Hashiba tries anything while we're fighting over each other's authority in the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle, we will respond immediately."
Just as Terumoto said that, an unfamiliar voice reached them.
"That would be a problem."
Except it was not even a voice.
It was a lot like hearing words formed from loudspeaker static.
"Shall I interpret that as a declaration of war against Hashiba?"
Then it appeared.
It was light. A blue light stood about 20 meters to Masazumi's left.
It had a humanoid form and it carried a weapon.
Asama saw the humanoid figure made of wrapped light. She also saw something react to it: sign frames.
They were from the Asama Shrine and the Mouri clan and they created something.
...A force barrier!
Those were used to capture ether lifeforms and prevent them from attacking.
The ship's defense system and Asama's own techniques swiftly activated two or three of them which bound this figure.
The light burst.
The figure standing in the center of the barrier held a sword at his hip.
The barrier sign frames all shattered at once.
But a few of Asama's barriers were still intact. And she saw that the barriers were restraining and slowing the figure down, but he was not stopped altogether.
...Wait a second! This barrier was designed to restrain something on the level of a small dragon!
Yet this figure could shatter that and continue moving.
He looked like a lightly-armored warrior. He was a young man wearing an M.H.R.R. uniform. But his entire body was glowing with a blue light and his arms, legs, and face were all covered by what looked like wrapped paper with writing all over it.
Writing of the same material scattered from the glowing paper. It rang like a small bell, but...
"...He isn't human! He's a program!?"
She questioned it because she had never seen anything like this before.
...Is this a lifeform made from a program?
That was similar to a Mouse, but the data density was greater than a Mouse's and he had human movements.
Then what was he?
Whatever he was, he spoke as he was pierced by several of the barrier sign frames.
"It is a pleasure to meet you. ...I am Ootani Yoshitsugu and I was sent here by Hashiba-sama to oversee the Siege of Odawara."
While shattering the barriers and with writing spilling from his body, he bowed with a strained motion.
"I arrived in advance of my companions, but this ship proved difficult to board."
"Well, yeah. We'd activated the security. But what are you? You didn't drop down from above when you appeared. It felt more like you rose up from within the ship," pointed out Terumoto. "Which means through the ether pathways. Or if you are a program...through a divine transmission."
"Testament." Ootani nodded. "Technically, I am not a program. Because I am...a virus. Now," he said. "Let me hear your decision. Will you or will you not make an enemy of Hashiba-sama?"
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