Horizon:Volume 6A Chapter 3
Chapter 3: Closed Room Destroyer
Does the brightness of your singing voice
Come from the heart
Or from feigned courage
Point Allocation (A Tragedy Occurred)
"Now, Na-chan. Just because you can't join the fight and are building up stress, doing karaoke on your own just seems unhealthy to me. ...Oh, can I place an order? We'll have three raw piroshki tsubuan and...four? You want one too, Na-chan? Wow, that's surprising. C'mon, you don't need to glare like that. ...We'll also have a serving of ginger cookies and a chicken appetizer set. To drink we'll have four ginger sodas and four red wines. What do you want, Na-chan? You've already ordered? Oh, then add one green tea. ...Testament. We'll order more later, so that's good for now. Address the receipt to the 'Shibata Forces' and label it 'Meeting Funds'."
Toshiie closed the ordering lernen figur and faced forward from the fur sofa.
The low table contained fried vegetable chips, green tea in an insulated wooden mug, and a karaoke song-selection unit. The stage across the table had an acoustic lernen figur open and someone stood in front of the guitar and drum set that came with the room.
"Don't just track me down like this. It's creepy."
"What idiot would rent the room under the name Sassa Narimasa if he didn't want to be found?"
Narimasa was holding a guitar and Fuwa hopped onto the stage next to him with a microphone in hand. She wore an M.H.R.R. girls summer uniform.
"Anyway, what's with the guitar? Were you playing along with the accompaniment without even singing?"
"Shut up. And it's not a guitar; it's a bass."
"Huh?" Fuwa frowned and held the microphone to her mouth. "Is playing bass with the accompaniment any fun? Is it supposed to be some kind of training?"
"Are you mocking these heavy bass strings, you dumb girl!?"
"Only an insecure guy feels the need to call a girl dumb. Now let me switch on the reverb and say that again: insecure."
Narimasa glared at her, but Fuwa did not care.
Toshiie ignored it all and chose a song with Matsu on his right shoulder.
"Ma-chan, there's nothing quite like singing a duet, is there? Oh, how about Janissary Exercise #2? ...Part the Red Sea? You do like going for the tricky ones, don't you?"
"God, those two..." muttered Narimasa.
"Yes, yes," said Fuwa. "If you're worried about Takigawa, don't head out into town for karaoke. Stay in the ship and keep an eye on the reports. That at least lets you plan out your next move right away."
"Yeah, but Takigawa has ended all communication with us. And she's across the Houjou border, so there's nothing we could do regardless."
"Yes, we are pretty much just waiting for word from Houjou," said Toshiie.
He had already added 8 songs to the list and he grabbed a rice cracker from a plate on the table. He held it up as if to inspect the color of the cooked rice.
"It sucks that ghosts can only eat the local products which have their origin as 'offerings'. Hokuriku is fine with all the rice products, but I'd be opposed to visiting Kantou and the Toukai region without preparing some food first. ...Besides, I'm sure Takigawa is trying to turn this into her loss at Komaki Nagakute."
He split the rice cracker with his teeth and lowered his shoulders.
"You know what that means, don't you? Well, that's probably why you aren't actually on your way there already."
Fuwa thought as she heard the intro for the song she had chosen.
...Those two sure love poking at each other...
If they wanted to discuss something, she wished they would just do it like normal people, but they always drove each other directly toward certain self-realizations while openly insulting each other.
They had always been like that, but she had recently come to understand that these exchanges were a way of preemptively working through the damage that their present or future would bring.
Name inheritors were always at the mercy of the history recreation. So to prepare themselves mentally for that, they made sure they had realized what mattered and made insults while viewing themselves in that position.
Fuwa wished they could just enjoy the present, but...
The lyrics had started.
Oh, no. I didn't start in time. Perhaps to criticize her, Sassa glared straight ahead and played a single note on the bass that did not match the melody or chord. The sound really was completely off, but she chose to ignore it just as completely. She rushed the opening line a bit, but it started with a rap anyway.
"Leaving footprints in the snowy white, we march through the dark night."
She caught up.
"Dreams of romance dance before our eyes. The enemy force is ten or twenty times our size."
"We shout like a maniac and charge in to attack."
"Are you making fun of me!?"
"Oh, c'mon. This is the Cossack Enemy Footrace from 20 years ago. Stop being so self-conscious.
"...Once every last one has been knocked to the snowy grass, they get the vodka penalty: 120 proof up the ass.
"How about that? It's like a volcano in your pants. But don't blame us; just do the Cossack dance."
The lyricist had clearly gotten drunk partway through writing this.
It was cute how Matsu swung her arms and joined in for the Khorosho Chorus that followed. But during the interlude, Narimasa gave her a sidelong glance.
"Is that any song for a girl to sing?"
"Huh? Look, everyone. This feminine guy thinks he knows how girls work. Besides, girls sing this all the time when we're having a party. Stop living in a fantasy world."
Oh, the second verse.
"Setting our sights beyond the tower, we march through the festival hour.
"We gallop forth to claim our prize. Their sword troops are eight or nine times our size."
She checked the lyrics.
"We hit their infantry and trample them by horse."
"Hey, how is that fair!?"
"Says the guy who has a way of trampling people.
"...Once every last one has been flattened on the snowy grass, they get the piroshki penalty: hot spices up the ass.
"Can you feel it in your guts? The Tatars can really fight. If you can feel the battle, then it's tartar sauce tonight."
The end of the second verse did not have quite the same impact, so the lyricist must have sobered up by that point.
"Would a third verse have been the borscht penalty?"
"There isn't one?"
"No, it ends here. ...Okay, the next song is Maeda and Matsu's."
"What?" said Fuwa as she got down from the stage and roughly beckoned Narimasa. "Sassa, how long are you going to stand up there? You're in the way, so get down."
"Y'know, I'm the one who rented this room..."
"And now we're all here together."
He's such a pain to deal with, thought Fuwa before saying more.
"With the preparation, it's going to take at least two days before the Houjou battle is over. If you go all out right from the beginning, you'll run out of ways to kill time before then, right? And after Shibata bothered to stop at a hot spring town located back a ways from the front line."
"I wonder what Shibata's doing," said Narimasa.
Toshiie responded by opening a lernen figur.
"Hi, is this Shibata? What are you doing right now? ...Oh, ping pong with Lady Oichi in the hot spring break room? Isn't that just barely against the rules of the history recreation? ...That doesn't matter? Lady Oichi is really good at it? Oh, yes. ...Well, it sounds like Na-chan wants to join you there."
"I said nothing of the sort!!!"
Toshiie ended the divine transmission and turned toward the others with a smile.
"He says he's coming here. I hung up after he asked if we had a ping pong table."
"Maeda, Shibata's definitely going to bring one here after you hung up," said Fuwa.
"He probably is," said Toshiie with a smile.
...How does Maeda feel about all this?
Shibata's forces were attacking Hokuriku. At least in this land they were using as headquarters, Fuwa, Sassa, and Maeda were known as the Three of Fuchu.
That title was of course taken from the Testament descriptions. But since they had been given the same path, the three of them interacted a lot. By the time they had inherited their names, Shibata had already begun his invasion of Hokuriku, so Sassa and Maeda had always returned to Hokuriku after heading out to battle elsewhere.
...And lately we've always been together except when Sassa and Toshiie left on the Kyushu Campaign.
They had gotten into a pretty big argument when it had been decided Maeda would go to M.H.R.R. with Hashiba.
Given the fate of his Wallenstein name and his future as Maeda Toshiie, he had taken his own life and become a ghost.
Hashiba had performed the cremation of his and Matsu's bodies and both Fuwa and Shibata had attended.
Sassa had not.
That was just the kind of relationship it was.
And it had not changed.
"Do you think you'll go join Takigawa?" she asked.
"I'd just be a nuisance if I did."
Then he would not go.
At first, his anger had flared up and he had acted like he would go, but he was restraining himself now.
It was hard to say he was restraining his emotions with reason, but that may have been because he was not the reasonable type. But even he understood the situation.
...If he goes, this would not end the way Takigawa wants.
Takigawa was attempting to fight the Battle of Kanie Castle that was a portion of the Battle of Komaki Nagakute.
Komaki Nagakute was a wide-range battle fought between Hashiba and Matsudaira after Nobunaga's death and it ended with Hashiba retreating.
It could be seen as the only battle against Matsudaira during Hashiba's lifetime and the only battle where Hashiba lost to Matsudaira.
From the perspective of P.A. Oda, the Battle of Komaki Nagakute could do critical damage to P.A. Oda.
It was like the Battle of Mikatagahara was for Matsudaira.
During that battle, Takigawa's forces fortified themselves in a castle but were defeated by Matsudaira.
So Takigawa had an idea during the Battle of Kanagawa.
"By recreating one of Komaki Nagakute's losses here, she can cancel out part of the burden on P.A. Oda in the future."
"That must be what she's thinking. Right, Michi?" Maeda searched for an empty room they could use to safely escape Shibata. "Takigawa is taking part in the Houjou battle with very few troops with her. She intends to end her losing battle during Komaki Nagakute with as few losses as possible. Of course, she'll have a hard time arguing the few troops with her count as losing a full-scale battle, so if we run over there to help..."
"We'll be forced to 'lose' right along with her. Isn't that right?" asked Sassa. "What are Matthias and them doing? If they have control of the Testament Union, they should be able to let us win via interpretation."
"There's no helping that. The Testament Union's control has always been weak in the east and this requires intervening in a cooperative action between Mouri and Houjou. If anyone has control here, it's Mouri as Hexagone Française."
Hexagone Française was also a problem.
"If the Testament Union tries to intervene in the Siege of Odawara, we don't know what kind of anti-Hashiba action Hexagone Française will take," said Fuwa while passing her microphone to Matsu. "Also, Sassa, you side with Matsudaira during Komaki Nagakute because you don't want to work for Hashiba. ...Go there and you'll be Takigawa's enemy."
"I'm aware of that." Sassa looked to Maeda. "Toshi, you're the one Hashiba sends after me in that battle. ...After that, I'm sent off to Kyushu and then ordered to commit suicide when I can't suppress a local revolt."
Fuwa sensed that nuance in Sassa's words.
She knew what he wanted to say.
If he had to recreate his suicide, then he wanted to settle everything before then. So...
"Na-chan, no putting pressure on me, okay?"
"I already told you I'm not going. ...It'd all be over if I did."
Takigawa knew that as well.
And Sassa would know that Takigawa knew that.
...In a way, these two are the ones Takigawa least wants to show up.
Because they worked for Shibata, Takigawa had helped them out a lot in the past. So she probably had her own thoughts about these issues.
And that was why.
"I'm not going."
"No, you're not." Maeda stood up. 'But I think it's an underclassman's duty to see their upperclassmen off, Na-chan."
"Yeah, but how?"
Just as Sassa asked that, the door suddenly opened.
...Eh? Wasn't that fast even for Shibata!?
Fuwa was confused and Sassa armed himself with a plate from the table as he turned around.
"So you showed up after all, you dumbass!"
Sassa shouted toward the person in the doorway.
"H-huh!? What are all of you doing here!?"
It was a tentacle.
The first one to speak was Toshiie.
He looked to Mori who had come in through the room's entrance.
"Mori, you do karaoke?"
"Eh!? Oh, Testament! Singing is the pastime of a cultured warrior! I'm completely hooked on love songs recently!"
"Apparently this tentacle likes to make a lot of noise while mating."
"Y-you're mean, Lady Fuwa! I am not like those tentacles of the wild kingdom! I am an intellectual tentacle!"
"Right, right." Toshiie nodded along with Mori. And, "So why are you here?"
"Eh!? Oh, Testament! I've been so busy with work lately that I thought I would spend today studying the words and emotional expressions used to describe love and romance."
"Hey, tentacle, tentacle."
"My name is not tentacle! You always treat me like a joke, Fuwa! When P.A. Oda's Playing With Yourself Research Club was taking suggestions for their R-Genpuku game's title, you were the one that submitted Tentacle Crossing: New Leaf! And now they're putting out a sequel!"
"Oh, they chose that one? And it sold well? Isn't that great, Mori? You're popular."
"That tentacle that goes around attacking people isn't me! Besides, what does the New Leaf part even mean? I don't have leaves!"
"But Mori means forest and forests have leaves."
"Th-that's just an inherited name, so it isn't really me!"
"This tentacle is making excuses," said Fuwa. "But anyway, I've got a good love song here."
"Eh? What kind of song is it?"
Fuwa took the microphone from Toshiie's hand.
"Okay." She glared at Mori. "How about that? It's like a volcano in your pants. But don't blame us; just do the Cossack dance."
"Th-that isn't love! Besides, does it have to mention pants!? If you need those for love, what hope do I have!? Ahh, I want love! Not all this stickiness, but love!"
"Mori, you can slam yourself against the wall if you like, but why are you here?" asked Toshiie.
"Eh!? Oh, right. I asked for a karaoke room and they sent me here."
"Ohh." Fuwa briefly looked up at the ceiling and then faced Sassa. "Looks like they've grouped you with the tentacle."
"They only did that because the rest of you are here too!"
"Ah, Master Sassa just tried to distance himself from me, didn't he!? But don't worry, Master Sassa, I am a normal tentacle with no interest in guys! You have nothing to fear when you’re around me!"
Sassa tried to escape outside while acting fed up with it all, but Fuwa grabbed the hem of his uniform to stop him.
"Yes, yes." Mori nodded when he saw that. "You are such a nice person, Lady Fuwa. I'm glad we can all be together like this."
"It's more that I won't let him escape, but whatever."
Fuwa then looked up at the ceiling and thought for a moment.
"Mori, you're returning to your territory with Sakuma, aren't you?"
"Testament! I arrived here to help out at the Battle of Novgorod, but once Sakuma is healed and returned to duty, I'll be heading back to my territory for a bit!"
"Well, I'm sure you'll be back here before long. ...But, Mori, that means you can't be singing karaoke all on your own."
When Mori heard Fuwa's words...
...he went limp.
Everyone was somewhat disturbed by how much Mori looked like pasta.
And about 3 seconds later, he quickly lifted up his head, and...
"S-sorry! I was just so surprised by Lady Fuwa's unexpectedly kind words that I got anemic and went limp!"
"This tentacle just went flaccid when a girl said something nice to him."
"N-no, I was just surprised is all! These things happen! Right, Master Maeda and Master Sassa!?"
"Calm down," Toshiie said to both Mori and Fuwa. "You'll be back with us before long, won't you?"
"Testament! ...I have to return here after I finish the work I have back there!"
"Have to?" asked Fuwa.
It was Sassa who nodded and pointed at the tentacle with his thumb.
"He also has a rough time during Komaki Nagakute."
"Testament! I accomplish nothing, rush out onto the front lines in the hopes of doing something of value, and get killed instantly when Naomasa puts a bullet between my eyes!"
"Yeah, you really are useless," said Fuwa.
"Wh-what are you talking about!? Don't I at least get an A for effort!?"
"Calm down," said Toshiie again. Then he smiled. "Mori, you're going to have trouble finding a good time for your duel with Musashi, aren't you?"
"Testament. If possible, I would like to meet Naomasa as soon as possible and explain away our misunderstanding. ...Oh, b-but it isn't much of a misunderstanding."
"Why do you always say things like that, Lady Fuwa!? A girl should be more modest!"
"Sassa, this tentacle keeps lecturing me today."
"Mori pretty much never lectures me."
"Of course I don't, Master Sassa! You're so cool and I secretly wish I could be like you! You're actually pretty popular with the girls, you know?"
"Oh?" Fuwa spread her mouth horizontally in a smile. "It seems you're popular."
"I'm not popular with myself, so it doesn't matter."
"Yes! That's it! That's wonderful! I wish I could say those things so smoothly! I'm always so wet, but I want that kind of dry wit! Oh, but it's bad for my skin if I dry out. ...What am I supposed to do!?"
"Good question." Toshiie checked the lernen figur clock. "Now, I would suggest we flee, but I fear it's already too late."
Mori tilted his entire body just before they heard a loud impact from the karaoke shop's entrance.
Both the walls and the floor shook and creaked as a deep and booming voice reached them.
"Heyyy! Naru-Naruuuu! Let's play some billiards!"
"What happened to ping pong!?"
"Huhhhhhh? Naru-Naru, do you like hitting that flimsy little ball against the wall? You're a depressing guy. I mean, wow that's depressing. I bet you go to a karaoke place and play bass all on your own."
"God, you're so annoying!"
Sassa sighed in front of the door just as a billiards table broke through the door and wall.
"Okay. This has gotten rather troublesome, but I managed to contact Shibata-kun's group and I was given a lot of information and assignments, so it's time for a strategy meeting."
Someone spoke below the night sky.
It was a long-lived girl in glasses in the moonlight atop a P.A. Oda ironclad ship.
A few people were lined up alongside her, but she faced forward as she spoke. There was a smile on her lips and her tone was casual.
"Umm, after coming this far, I won't be using the name Takenaka Hanbei anymore. His Testament descriptions say he died of illness before the attack on the Chugoku region was underway. So you can still call me Takenaka in casual settings, but please use Kuroda Kanbei in formal ones. ...Oh, and don't use the new name when you don't have to. I'll be slow to react to it and might even ignore you."
With that, Takenaka opened some lernen figur. She opened 200 all at once.
Those lights spread out in front of the people sitting on the deck.
They were all leaders for the invasion of Paris. Takenaka displayed an additional 100 around herself and gave commands via eye motion control.
"Everyone, please forward this onto the kids under your command. ...Now, to review the situation."
She opened a terrain map of Paris. The center contained a star-shaped city.
"Paris's center is approximately 3km in diameter. Include the outer area and that grows to 12km. Trying to surround and flood all of that would honestly take way too much work, so we'll only be flooding the central 3km. The work will take all of tomorrow. ...Now, I already know the answer, but are you all set up for your tasks?"
No one responded to Takenaka's question.
But as she looked around...
There was no response, so she tried again.
"Koroku-kuuun, who finally matches her name since she’s in the 6th year of elementary school now?"
A lernen figur appeared next to her face and a voice came from it.
"I'm on my way there, so quit calling. And I used my technical accomplishments to skip enough years to be in high school, so don't call me that."
The image was a girl sitting on the bank of a small stream flowing through a grassy plain and below a morning sky. She wore a yukata, her shoulder-length hair blew in the breeze, and several lernen figur floated around her, displaying various gauges and diagrams with humanoid shapes.
She looked around her.
"The construction of the virtual cockpit is going well. Although I'd like to add in a bit more detail to better match my memories of where I was born."
"Hachisuka-kun? I really don't think you should say much about that."
"I know the limit," said the girl, Hachisuka. "I know just when to shut my mouth so I won't be taken away."
Then one of the people lined up alongside Takenaka spoke up. It was Wakisaka. She shook her black hair and wings and asked a question of Hachisuka in the lernen figur.
"Shouroku, how long until you arrive?"
"Looks like about 5 minutes."
Hachisuka sighed and pulled up her feet which were soaking in the stream.
She stood up. Then her yukata instantly transformed into an M.H.R.R. girl's inner suit. The boys on the deck responded to the scene on the lernen figur.
"Damn, that was too quick! The processing was too fast! At least drop 3 frames!"
"Ha ha... I guess I was naive to expect a long transformation scene like the Technohexen do..."
"Hmm." Takenaka nodded and looked to the others. "Do you want to see it that badly?"
The boys did not hesitate to respond and the girls did not hesitate to give them looks of contempt.
But Takenaka nodded a few times, and...
"Koroku-kuuun, could you maybe take life a little slower?"
"And cause high damage to my life?"
"It would give everyone here a high return."
Hachisuka gave them all a sidelong glance and even skillfully moved her targeting lernen figur so it was directed only at the boys.
"I won't forget what you all look like. And you sure are filthy for being that much older than me. ...You could learn a thing or two from Mori the Tentacle."
"Huh, huh? What does Mori-kun have to do with this?"
"Testament. He helped me when I was gathering materials in the east. He's a tentacle, but he takes things seriously."
"Ah, Master Shibata! When did you place these two billiards balls at the base of my neck!? You can't do that kind of joke when there's a girl present! You just can't! ...And Master Maeda, why are you pointing at me and laughing!? You're drunk, aren't you!? You must be drunk! ...Master Sassa! Quit playing nine-ball on your own and help me! Fuwa-sama, don't you dare get near me with those balls!"
"P.A. Oda's morals have been slipping since we joined M.H.R.R."
Katou Yoshiaki, Ten Spears #3, thought about what Hachisuka said.
...Koroku really does take things seriously...
Koroku was their youngest member if they did not count Mitsunari whose artificial personality was still under development. And even if they did ignore age...
"Kime-chan, Shouroku is at her wits' end again."
"I don't hear a smile in your voice, Angie."
Angie was a worrier. She seemed to casually move through their group like it was nothing, but that was why she noticed when anyone changed.
The rest of them understood quite well why Hachisuka was feeling the pressure.
"Okay, before Hachisuka-kun gets here and we start work on flooding Paris, let's take a quick look at what Mouri and Musashi are up to, since that too affects Hexagone Française's situation here."
Takenaka opened a lernen figur that displayed a certain location.
"Ah," said Fukushima when she saw the large map of Kantou.
That was far to the east of here.
The emblems of the Houjou Association of Indian States and Mouri were displayed at the southwest end of Kantou.
Musashi's emblem and ship icon were north of that.
A red ribbon line added a route to Houjou for the Musashi icon.
"Mouri has chosen to fight the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle against Musashi instead of us."
Her tone was light, but what she said was absurd.
And that may have been why Katagiri raised his hand despite already knowing that information.
"They can't just say Musashi is us. How are they going to solve that?"
"The trick to that is having the history recreation double as the Siege of Odawara."
Yoshiaki had a thought when she saw Takenaka's shoulders droop.
...Oh, that's the same reaction she had when explaining it to us in the dining hall.
Was changing it too much effort or did she think that reaction was the most effective? Either way, their strategist sighed.
"There is no real problem with a plan to complete Odawara and Bitchu Takamatsu Castle simultaneously. Here in P.A. Oda...oh, whoops. I mean M.H.R.R. That was a close one. ...Anyway, um, M.H.R.R. completed multiple history recreations at Novgorod and the Testament Union is supposed to seek the shortest and least damaging solutions, so we can't really complain that they're doing us a favor. When they use our position as the Testament Union against us, we have no choice but to agree."
She pointed her thumb toward the space behind her.
"Also, Hexagone Française claims what we're doing here is an invasion of Hexagone Française trying to masquerade as the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle."
"Since we ignored the history recreation and invaded someone else's territory, they want us to overlook something as 'small' as using Musashi in our place."
Hexagone Française had guts.
...They're asking us to overlook their violation of the history recreation because we're supposedly violating it too.
That sounded like something that delinquent President of theirs would say.
Yoshiaki sort of liked that way of thinking, but...
"Takenaka...but doesn't that mean Hexagone Française will view us as rule-breakers and seriously fight back against us?"
That was something Takenaka had not said in the dining hall earlier. In a way, it was a question Yoshiaki had been able to ask because she had heard everything in advance.
Kuro-Take: "W-wait, wh-what? This...this wasn't part of...we didn't plan for..."
Kimee: "Oh, sorry. Are adlibs not allowed?"
AnG: "Kime-chan, you really show no mercy sometimes."
Kiyo-Massive: "Um, is there a sink anywhere around here?"
But Takenaka held her palms out toward everyone.
As everyone on the deck leaned forward as if to ask "Are you okay?", she stepped back to the very front of the deck and turned around.
"Ero ero ero ero."
Fukushima called out to her as she choked a few times and her shoulders shook.
"Are thou okay?"
"Eh? Oh, yes, yes. I'm fine. Sorry if I worried you. Ah ha ha ha ha. The kanitama I had for dinner — ero ero ero ero ero ero — is still pretty sour — ero ero ero ero."
"Fukushima, you shouldn't try to talk to her," said Yoshiaki while opening a Magie Figur.
It displayed the Kantou map that Takenaka had been using.
She knew it was her adlib that had caused this trouble, so she took over the part of the explanation she could manage.
She showed everyone the Magie Figur and pointed to the Musashi icon.
"Our biggest task will be how to keep Musashi in Kantou."
Yoshiaki thought, Musashi's actions are beginning to have a clear influence on us.
...And after we thought we had put a stop to this at Mito.
Fukushima and Kiyomasa had attacked Mito as a warning and also engaged them at Novgorod.
But Musashi had chosen to stand back up.
"They are currently trying to hold the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle, which ends the Invasion of Mouri, on Houjou land. We were supposed to do that here at Paris, but Hexagone Française and Mouri have split apart and Mouri has chosen Musashi as an opponent at Houjou."
Was it childish of her to feel somewhat upset by that?
...It means we weren't chosen.
Oda, Hashiba, M.H.R.R., P.A. Oda, Catholic, and Mlasi all referred to major powers, but the future ruler of Europe had chosen to fulfill the history recreation with their enemy instead of them.
But this meant more than just their damaged pride.
"This means Hexagone Française wants Musashi's influence to affect the European war front."
The nation of Musashi was no longer an isolated existence.
No, that change had already occurred when they built trust with Oushuu during the Battle of Novgorod.
And before even that...
...At IZUMO and Magdeburg, they established friendly relations with Hexagone Française, M.H.R.R., Qing-Takeda, Satomi, and Houjou while also making a few promises with those nations.
It meant a lot that the previous night's Battle of Kanagawa had acted as a response to one of those promises.
With the attack on Takigawa, Musashi had taken Houjou into their post-Honnouji period. Which meant...
"P.A. Oda must set the Honnouji Incident in motion."
"The Genesis Project must also be set in motion."
Katagiri looked to Yoshiaki.
...Why is she bringing up the Genesis Project here?
The Five Great Peaks and any major retainers would be familiar with the Genesis Project.
But most of the people here would only have been told the general outline by their superiors.
"To end the world but not to let it end," said Yoshiaki. "That is the only way to break through the Apocalypse."
No one said anything. They simply waited quietly for Yoshiaki to continue.
And only one thing could be heard in the silence.
"Ero ero ero ero...urp."
□□凸: "You really need to stop that, Takenaka-san! And that last one sounded far too real!"
Kuro-Take: "Yeah, but it's not that easy. This is from the pressure, not motion sickness."
Kimee: "If you don't get back here soon, I'm moving on without you."
Yoshiaki looked to everyone and spoke.
"The entire world has begun to look beyond Oda and Hashiba. But that is not enough if the world is to survive like we want. ...For the people who will live on into the future, Oda and Hashiba are nothing more than a series of inconvenient battles. But we cannot be ignored," she said. "So we will use everything at our disposal to quickly complete the flooding of Paris and intervene in the Siege of Odawara. ...We will keep Musashi in Kantou until summer break begins and we will ensure the Genesis Project can advance."
Yoshiaki heard Katagiri's voice.
"If Hashiba intervenes in the Siege of Odawara, we risk beginning the Battle of Komaki Nagakute. We should select an intervention team that would not trigger that battle."
Katagiri had suggested that to Takenaka while preparing for this in the dining hall. He sounded more thoughtful now, so...
...He must have been able to gather his thoughts.
"Testament." Yoshiaki nodded. "I am sure they have their own plans, but anyone who took part in the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle in the Testament descriptions will remain here. Otherwise, Hexagone Française might claim we never even intended to do the Invasion of Mouri. ...So we will send in an advance intervention team made up of those with little to no participation in Bitchu Takamatsu Castle and they will obtain the right to battle Musashi. They will monitor the Siege of Odawara, to ensure Houjou and Musashi are not colluding together."
Who would be on that team?
"First, Angie and me. We came all this way to support you, but we will be using Zwei Fürstin to travel to Houjou. And in a high-speed transport ship following us..."
A girl stood up from the group seated on the deck. She was short and had short black hair. That unarmed girl in an M.H.R.R. girls uniform was an unfamiliar face, but...
"I am Kani Saizou! ...On Takenaka-sama's instructions, I will be joining Fukushima's team today! And starting tomorrow, I will participate in the Siege of Odawara in Fukushima-sama's place!"
Fukushima watched the girl jog over to her with excellent posture.
...She is just as energetic as Takenaka-sama said.
She was apparently just one school year younger, but her height made her look even younger than that.
However, she brought her feet together and came to stop in front of Fukushima without wobbling at all.
"Fukushima-san! I look forward to working with you!"
AnG: "They're both little, but her character is so different from Shouroku's. Is she the type to use her real name on the divine network?"
6: "I can already tell she would get on my nerves... #1, keep her away from me."
Llaf: "Oh, sure. But she does have an inherited name."
There were skilled people who did not have an inherited name.
But if she had one and was a fighter...
"How skilled are thee?"
"Testament! I hit Houzouin-sensei 3 times in a row!"
"3? Were 2 of those right at the start?"
"Testament! After I got 2 right away, he bowed down and said, 'No! I can't keep going at this rate! Please! Just once! You only have to do it once!', so I hit him right on the head!"
"I see that teacher hasn't changed."
Fukushima had done that, too. In a way, it may have been a standard gag with him.
But Kani took a breath and smiled with the ends of her eyebrows lowered. And...
"But! I was no match at all for Majority-sensei!"
Everyone was dumbfounded by the person Kani was referring to. And after a while...
Kimee: "It's unusual for her to do something."
□□凸: "It really is. ...I had heard she was living in seclusion since training all of you."
Kuro-Take: "She probably understands that Musashi is getting closer to us."
With that post, Takenaka had returned.
She waved hi to Kani before speaking.
"Okay, Fukushima-san, she'll be your underclassman, so look after her."
"Eh? Oh, Testament."
When Fukushima said that, Kani turned back toward her. And...
"Thank you very much!"
She bowed again. But for Fukushima...
Kiyo-Massive: "Isn't that great, Fukushima-sama. It's your first underclassman."
Llaf: "Even if I was informed in advance, this is far too sudden..."
She honestly had no idea how to handle this. She had always been one to mostly do things on her own.
According to the Testament, Kani Saizou was a wandering warrior who hopped around between Maeda, Oda, and others before finally working for Fukushima. He had been so skilled on the battlefield that he took too many heads to carry back with him and instead marked them by placing bamboo leaves, which were meant to be reminiscent of his spear, in the slain foes' mouths or spear wounds.
He had also been known for his courtesy and the other commanders had tried to model themselves after his behavior, but...
...The Ten Spears do not really handle courtesy well...
No, she thought they were courteous enough.
So why did she feel like they had something unique to them outside of courtesy?
...I hope this will work out...
Takenaka had said Kani would not actually be joining the Ten Spears.
She would start out as an aide to the Ten Spears as a whole.
After all, their unit tended to act independently, so even though they had junior members, those members ended up as no more than a rear guard. Even if they acted on Takenaka's instructions, they would not stand out much as a fighting force.
Thus, they needed an aide to give them a more active role.
Then why was Kani being sent to the Siege of Odawara for her own independent action?
"Use this chance to participate and experience the flow of battle. Thou will be commanding troops from now on, so it is crucial that thou see all there is to see on the battlefield and learn that thy decisions will be based on more than just thy own skill."
Her response and expression were bright. Fukushima also sensed some uncertainty there, but experience would fix that.
"...What is it?"
"On the battlefield, there is something like a monster that will devour thee no matter how much thou prepare for it."
"Is that...a specific enemy?"
There was curiosity on Kani's face and Fukushima shook her head.
"It is the flow of battle."
That was not an enemy, an ally, a specific person, or even oneself.
It was all of that intertwined.
Kani's expression was one of hearing something for the first time. She nodded, but she clearly did not understand. However, she did speak.
"Will I figure that out once I'm on the battlefield?"
"Testament." Fukushima nodded. "If thou cannot figure it out, it would be difficult to leave thee in charge of any troops."
The connection between going to Houjou and what Fukushima was talking about finally seemed to click for her.
"I'm supposed to observe the battlefield and come to understand the flow of battle, correct?"
"Realizing that is more than enough for now."
6: "It's time you ended that stuffy nonsense. I can already see you."
Hachisuka's lernen figur had moved. It was now to the southeast, placing it on the route they had taken.
And the moonlight shined on something approaching along that route.
Fukushima could see materials.
8 transport ships were overloaded with materials. The cargo was piled up higher than the height of the ships themselves and even stuck out from the sides. As they all viewed those ships, Takenaka nodded.
"Good. It looks like she got the gravitational control just right. They just have to fly along the route we took and..."
Takenaka suddenly nodded and turned toward the others with a smile.
"Now, a question."
Fukushima was confused and she saw Takenaka raise her right index finger.
This had not been a part of what they planned in the dining hall. But Takenaka had trouble adlibbing, so if she was doing this...
...Had she prepared for this even earlier?
Takenaka's voice seemed to answer her.
"Hachisuka-kun is approaching along the route I gave her with lots of materials in tow. Now, how long do you think it will take for her to arrive?"
Well... thought Fukushima as she worked a few equations in her mind.
But Kiyomasa took a step toward Takenaka.
"Um, Takenaka-sama? I really do understand what you're trying to say. But, um...is that really something to do here?"
"Ohh, you actually figured it out?"
...Oh, I get it.
Fukushima also understood what Takenaka was trying to say. But Kani in front of her was a different matter.
"Um! What does that mean, Fukushima-san!?"
"How should I put this? Do thou know what Takenaka-dono's Urban Name is?"
"Testament! It's High Damage High Return!"
Kani's answer was followed by two voices and one action.
The first voice was Takenaka's:
She was pointing at Kani. The other voice came from the grassy field on the lernen figur as Hachisuka frantically turned toward them.
"Ah, wait! #9!"
Then came the action.
One of the approaching transport ships was pierced through by a diagonal blast from the bottom left.
It was a white beam of light.
Specifically, a dragon cannon.
Kani saw it happen.
Everyone else on the deck also looked back with an "Eh?" of their own. The lead transport ship was tilted. It had been fired through from the bottom left to the upper right.
...Umm! From what I was taught, the shockwave will leave through the newly-made holes and its own weight will cause it to fall to the lower left!
That was exactly what happened. With successive explosions, the lead ship scattered materials and tilted forward. And...
Hachisuka's voice and an explosion that sounded like distant thunder reached their ears.
At the same time, Takenaka raised her arms and shouted with a smile.
"Hooray!! The decoy worked!!"
- The kanji for Koroku can be interpreted as an abbreviation of Elementary School 6th Year.
- An alternate reading of Koroku.
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