Horizon:Volume 6B Chapter 22

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Chapter 22: Justice Bringer in the Open Heights[edit]

Horizon6-B019 019.jpg

Where did you come from?

Where are you going?

Point Allocation (The Destination of Your Will)


Light split in the wind.

On a long deck floating in the blue sky, light would burst at set intervals.

The shattering objects on the Mouri diplomatic ship were barrier sign frames that gathered on a certain point.

There was also noise. A great downwards din rang from the center of the shattering barriers.

They were footsteps. The pace was leisurely, but they were so loud it sounded like they would break through the deck.

The shattering barriers moved forward with the footsteps.

The barriers clung to something as it broke through them and continued forward.

It was walking.

Or was it trying to run but slowed to a walk?

Either way, the footsteps made definite progress while sounding like those of someone climbing a mountain.

The barriers shattered and turned to spray, like they were being tossed aside by the footsteps.

A noise much like shattering brass instruments scattered through the air in the footsteps' wake.

And another sound joined those.

It was an alarm.

A female voice joined the continuous blaring of a whistle.

"An enemy has appeared on the upper deck! Bodyguards, secure and evacuate the diplomats! Rear guard, return fire on the enemy!"

The barrier was broken.

The barrier that appeared to take its place was also destroyed.

As the light repeatedly shattered and dispersed, a figure walked through the center of it all.

"The enemy is Hashiba's Ootani Yoshitsugu! He is Special Duty Officer class!"


Masazumi was protected along with Terumoto.

Mouri-01, who had stood by Terumoto's side, walked around the negotiation table and stood in front of her.

...Is she fighting back?

No. She held a hand toward Masazumi, and...

"Fall back! ...Princess!"

"Yeah, I've got it."

Terumoto grabbed the nearby idiot by the collar, tossed him backwards, and turned back toward Masazumi.

"Let's fall back."

"Hey, hey, Asama," said the idiot. "What is that? Is it history's first whatever-it-is?"

"Yes. It is definitely an ether lifeform, but my scans indicate it is a pseudo-program. The mold and everything else are artificial, so it seems to be an artificial personality created by programizing ether."

Despite their frantic movement, Horizon held a pot of tea as she asked Asama a question.

"So is it something like an automaton made of ether?"

"It has a personality, so whether it counts as an automaton or not would depend on whether it has a 'core' to act as a soul. If even that was created artificially, then it would be history's first data entity automaton."

Masazumi did not understand at all.

Vice President: "What does that mean?"

Asama: "Um, to put it simply, he's a doll. Mouri-01-san and the others protecting us here are physical dolls, but that Ootani Whatever-san is a data doll made from ether."

Vice President: "Data...made from ether?"

Wise Sister: "It's the difference between your real wife and your wife in a porn game! Now do you get it!? You can brag about a real wife, she'll do things for you, and you can do plenty of lewd things with her, but you can't brag about a porn game wife, other people can complete her route too, and the lewd is self-service! It's an important difference! Got that?"

Vice President: "No!"

10ZO: "In the past, I would have responded to Kimi-dono only for her to say something 100 times worse back, but now I actually agree with her..."

Mal-Ga: "Are you saying you do plenty of lewd things with Mary?"


In a blue Far Eastern summer uniform, Mary found Tenzou on Musashino's deck.

She held a paper cup in each hand.

"Here, Master Tenzou. I bought us some drinks. You like the watermelon candy kind, right?"

"Oh, j-judge! You didn't need to do that!"

"It was nothing, Master Tenzou. And you're on the job by keeping an eye on things up above, aren't you? But why does everyone look so concerned?"

"Yes, that," said the two Techohexen equipped with Scharz Fräulein and Weiss Fräulein.

Of the white and black, Naruze asked Mary a question.

"Tenzou just said he does plenty of lewd things with you."

"Why would you tell her thaaaaat!?"

Tenzou shouted at the Technohexen and Mary said "my" and placed a hand on her cheek.

She smiled and started to say something, but then she blushed.

"Like I said during the Battle of Kanagawa, I'm fine with a lewd ninja as long as it's Master Tenzou," she said. "Also, it makes me proud as a woman that he is viewing that side of me as well. It means he likes me on the outside and not just on the inside. And in a way, the outside is simpler to alter than the inside, so I can kind of cheat there."

"Cheat? What do you mean, Ma-yan?"

"Judge. I can use makeup."

Smoking Girl: "Tenzou, you haven't been giving Mary a life that sends her to the samples corner, have you?"

Flat Vassal: "It's unusual for the 6th Special Duty Officer to get involved in these discussions!"

10ZO: "Up above! There's a bit of an emergency underway up above!"

Scarred: "Oh, I-I'm sorry, Master Tenzou. You're trying to work, aren't you?"

Almost Everyone: "Tenzou's bullying her...!"

10ZO: "How could you possibly reach that conclusion!?"


"That's just how we do things," typed Mitotsudaira as she moved away from her king.

She did so to protect that king and the others.

She moved behind Mouri-01. That placed her across the table from Ootani.

They were on Mouri's diplomatic ship, so she courteously allowed Mouri-01 to lead the defense.

But that automaton's top priority would be Terumoto.

While falling back, Mouri-01 entered a quick command into a signe cadre. And as her light footsteps sounded on the deck...

"I am supplying a new barrier!"

It was a Holy Spell. A long, narrow signe cadre that resembled a spear pierced Ootani vertically. In quick succession, 16 of those cross shapes stabbed down with audible striking sounds. They pierced not just through Ootani's torso but from his shoulders to his sides, from his upper arms to his elbows, and from his thighs to his knees.

"I have restrained his joints!"

Mitotsudaira saw Ootani stop moving beyond the table.

...Did she restrain him!?

The question in her heart was soon answered.

"This is entirely meaningless. I know how to respond to most all of it."

All of the signe cadres shattered.

16 lights scattered through the air after the signe cadres piercing Ootani were destroyed.

A large movement of his had done it.

The warrior made of light had taken a pose for running toward them instead of just walking.

A new signe cadre dropped from overhead to pierce Ootani once more. The cross-shaped barrier accelerated down instead of simply dropping and he responded by further lowering his preparatory stance.

...Here he comes!

Beyond the table, Ootani was attempting to use his brief moment of freedom to race forward.

But then Mitotsudaira saw Mouri-01 move.

While falling back such that she covered for Mitotsudaira, she used a long step to lower her hips.

She had turned to the side with her left knee forward.

She slid back a bit and took a seated firing pose.

Mitotsudaira realized she was unarmed, but...

...She's going to produce a gun, isn't she!?

Automatons could launch or fire bullets with their gravitational control.

According to the records, the Honda family's Kazuno had used her gravitational control to fire cannons and wield swords during the Battle of Mikawa.

Now, metal components spilled from the inside of Mouri-01's skirt.

They were the parts to a rapid-fire matchlock pistol.

There were multiple rapid-fire mechanisms and chambers among the pieces she sent individually into the air.

And while she sat in preparation and swung her hand out...

"————"

The components came together in an instant, like they were being pulled into place by strings.

They fit together with the sound of lightly vibrating metal.

And Mitotsudaira heard a voice. It was Mouri-01's and it was used to confirm her enemy.

"Master Ootani Yoshitsugu," she said. "According to the Testament, you are one of Hashiba’s great commanders and a Ministry of Justice official in charge of trials and executions. The fear brought by that role gave you the Urban Name 'Slayer of a Thousand'. ...You have a close friendship with Ishida Mitsunari and fight fiercely for the Western Army at Sekigahara," said Mouri-01. "But after the betrayal of an ally, you are surrounded and your forces obliterated. You ultimately commit suicide on the battlefield."

Mitotsudaira thought about what she said.

...Isn't that going to be a really short career?


Mitotsudaira reminded herself they had just held a meeting with Mouri and Houjou.

As a result, they would be fighting the Siege of Odawara, the Tensho Jingo Conflict, and the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle. It also looked like they would be fighting the Keichou Campaign against Hashiba's forces.

If they completed the history recreation to that point, they would be in striking distance of the Honnouji Incident, in which Nobunaga was assassinated, and the Battle of Sekigahara, which occurred after Hashiba's death.

Sekigahara was not that far off.

And yet here they had a combat data entity that would see his end at Sekigahara.

...My king.

Mitotsudaira glanced over to see her king looking at Ootani.

He squinted a bit and scratched his head at what Mouri-01 had said.

He looked somewhat displeased, or like he could not accept something. That filled Mitotsudaira with relief. Part of her thought he was being too kind to an enemy, but that was best for their king.

It was her duty to protect that kindness.

Yes, she thought. It might be inappropriate to look at it like this, but I'm closest to him right now and he needs me more than anyone at times like this. So...

"...!"

She saw attacks intersect before her eyes.

Mouri-01 and Ootani faced each other across the table.

The first to move was Mouri-01 as she crouched down and fired below the table.

Ootani responded by diving below the table.

...That's crazy!

He was moving toward the bullets.

But he had already swung his blade.

The sword at his hip was made of light, and...

"It's growing...!?"

It clearly grew.

As he swung the blade with a snap of his elbow, it extended to about 5 meters.

The sword was made of the same bluish-white light as his body and it sliced through the table's legs. Specifically, the two on Mouri-01's side.

Ootani placed a hand on the other end of the table.

He had the momentum of his run, so this slammed the legless side of the table diagonally against the floor.

From Mitotsudaira's side, the table looked like a ramp and light burst from its surface.

That was Mouri-01's bullets. They had anti-ghost spells applied and they were deflected by the slant of the thick table.

The sound of a hammer on wood sounded six times, but it accomplished nothing.

Mouri-01 raised her gun and looked back toward Mitotsudaira.

"This is the problem with bringing along valuable items."

"True enough."

Mitotsudaira replied, but the battle continued.

The momentum of the table's collapse sent it sliding along the deck.

Then barrier signe cadres dropped from the sky and pierced the table.

It was an anti-ghost barrier, so it had no effect on physical objects. It would have an effect on Ootani who was below the table and pushing it toward them, but...

"...!"

Seven of the barrier spears shattered.

But the other nine remained in the table. They had not shattered.

Asama: "The auto-targeting somewhat missed because he was hiding below the table!"

The nine crosses had their minimum altitude set at the deck and they all approached Mitotsudaira and Mouri-01 while shaking from the table's movements.

Hori-ko: "Our anti-ghost attacks don't work on him, but he can interact with physical objects? Isn't that cheating?"

Novice: "Well, Ootani Yoshitsugu has always seemed pretty overpowered, so it's kind of unavoidable."

Vice President: "That's not what I want to hear when he's chasing after me!"

Imagine what it's like on the front line.

Just then, the accelerating table gained an even larger speed boost.

Mitotsudaira knew what that had to mean.

...Did he kick the table!?

Mitotsudaira did not know how strong a data entity would be. In fact, no one here did.

But if he could push that heavy table, build up its speed, and kick it away, his strength far surpassed that of a human.

And Ootani came into view once more.

A warrior decorated with wrapped paper stood beyond the table.

His body was leaning horizontally after unleashing a sideways kick. He had swung his arms to keep his balance.

The accelerated table was a counterattack against Mouri-01 who had taken a seated firing pose.

Mouri-01 remained in that seated firing pose. She could not dodge like that and the table acted as cover, hiding Ootani from her.

What is she going to do? wondered Mitotsudaira.

But then she heard a quiet voice. It was Mouri-01's.

"Everyone, I leave this to you."

She called out to someone with an almost carefree tone.


Mouri-01 formed many thoughts in her artificial brain.

She did not know all of what Ootani Yoshitsugu could do. But there were two areas in which she was certain she had an advantage.

...My thought speed and memory capacity as a Belle de Marionnette!

She knew that Ootani Yoshitsugu was an ether lifeform and a data entity. From a theoretical standpoint, his thought speed would be equal to the greatest speed at which ether could be constructed: infinite speed. Automatons were the same in that regard, but since he was made purely from ether, he would have less thought speed resistance.

But he was a program and an individual. His thought logic was supplied entirely by the program constructing him. That meant he had to calculate everything himself and could not have someone else handle it.

Belle de Marionnettes were different. Their artificial brains were equipped with circuits for calculating several thoughts separately and they could use their shared memory to leave processing tasks with other Belle de Marionnettes.

He used serial processing that was like running quickly down a long road.

They used parallel processing that was slower but allowed them each to rush down a short road.

Looking at the time from the beginning to the end of the processing, he could never outdo them.

Then there was the issue of memory capacity.

The amount of data that could be used for remembering things was controlled by their memory devices and the size of those devices.

Ootani Yoshitsugu was humanoid, so his memory capacity could not leave human-sized territory.

Meanwhile, the Belle de Marionnettes had shared memory, so they could stock up their decisions.

That meant they could use their high-speed thoughts to make many decisions and select the best one from their stock.

Mouri-01 had already informed her fellow Belle de Marionnettes of the current situation and been given a stock of many decisions.

They used simple words as a key, so she listened the others' suggestions:

"Lady Mouri-01, you should jump over the table and make an aerial attack!"

"How about you and Lady Terumoto dodge and let the table sweep aside the other nations' leader!?"

"Staying there, clinging to the table, and sliding along with it would probably feel great!"

These were split-second decisions. Some gave consideration to actual tactics, while others were more absurd. But she would not know whether or not any one of these was truly useless until the situation played out.

So Mouri-01 stocked up all of those thoughts in her shared memory.

And she used her high-speed thoughts to judge the time limit.

...The table will reach the critical collision point in another 20 seconds within my accelerated thoughts.

She had to make a decision by then.

She used her high-speed thoughts to calmly view the moving scene before her eyes.

...Now, then.

I need to choose, she thought.


The decision that Mouri-01 made in her high-speed thoughts was one that allowed her to dodge and attack.

She would raise her hips but swing her body backwards.

...I will stand on the table...!

She would fall back because she had no reason to move beyond the approaching table.

If she could stand on the table and fall back along with it, the expensive furniture would act as a shield. It would be especially effective as a barricade against Ootani Yoshitsugu thanks to the barrier signe cadres piercing it.

This was not a problem.

In order to match her speed to the table's, she would need to adjust how quickly she raised her hips.

She would use the standing motion to leap backwards.

If she had been standing, she could not have immediately leaped backwards. She would have needed to lower her hips first.

But while sitting, she could use her knees and hips as springs to launch herself backwards.

She had not planned for this.

She had just so happened to remain seated while gathering everyone's opinions.

But, she thought. I did not panic and immediately reach the decision that I needed to stand up. Does that mean I am developing some combat instincts within me?

...This is interesting.

She had gone through training and fought in battles, but she had not expected for a machine like her to use her "instincts" against someone on the level of a Special Duty Officer. Henri was often thinking about humans, but what was wanted of Belle de Marionnettes may have been surprisingly similar.

"Now, then."

Mouri-01 ended her high-speed thoughts.

She moved. The command she had decided on was sent to her body.

She matched her speed to the table's.

"..."

And she kicked.

Just then, Mouri-01 saw light grow from the approaching table.

It was a blade.

Ootani Yoshitsugu's glowing sword stabbed through the table and raced toward her chest.


Ujinao sensed it all.

Ootani and Mouri-01's attack and defense intersected in an instant.

Ujinao understood what had happened.

It was a strange battle.

Their locations were impossible to predict based on their starting points and the result.

...Oh?

First, Ootani kicked the table forward and Mouri-01 attempted to fall back while standing on that piece of furniture. The table had been kicked with enough force for Ujinao to adjust the speed at which she fell back.

But a moment later, things shifted.

First, it was Ootani.

Ujinao's senses detected him shattering while still in his kicking pose.

This was not the result of cumulative damage from the barriers. She knew that thanks to the Asama Shrine Representative who had retreated to the side. The girl spoke up with a sharp voice:

"The enemy's ether reading has not diminished!"

Ootani had not shattered.

What had shattered was his shell – his lingering traces.

The contents were elsewhere after taking a different form.

Where were they and what form had they taken?

...A sword!

Ujinao was familiar with swords, so she caught on quickly.

When Ootani had kicked the table, his hands had been empty.

Then where had his sword gone?

...The bottom of the table!?

The table was clearly thick since it had withstood Mouri-01's gunfire.

Ootani must have stabbed his blade of light into the underside.

That meant he had not kicked the table so it would hit them.

It was to transport his body after reshaping it into a sword.

Ujinao stroked the sword on her right hip as she fell back.

"That does sound like something a data entity would do..."

Ujinao now knew what the enemy was.

...The warrior part is not his true form!

Most likely, he was a program made of ether without a fixed form. He had only taken on the warrior form and equipment so he could move around more easily.

He could compress his data into whatever body part or piece of equipment he liked so it could be transported. So where was he now that he had abandoned his other parts?

...The bottom of the table!

Ootani would appear from the sword like water welling up from a spring. So what would he do next?

"Mouri-01!"

Before Ujinao could provide a warning, a glowing sword pierced the table and raced out.

It stabbed into Mouri-01's chest.


Mitotsudaira saw Mouri-01 receive the attack.

The automaton had just raised her hips to fall back.

The glowing blade stuck out from the right side of her back.

It was a direct hit.

The sword entered below her right breast and left through her back.

It accurately stabbed out below the shoulder blade, so that attack would have split the lung and sliced through the heart.

At this rate, the table would crash into her, but...

Asama: "Kyaaaaah! Zubyaaaaaaaah!!"

Novice: "No, Asama-kun! That was more of a 'stab!' or 'shnk...!' "

Four Eyes: "I see you're going with fairly normal onomatopoeia now."

Novice: "Well, when I wrote 'ndozpubryazorizori———!', someone on an anonymous site said it was incomprehensible and took especial offense at the 'zorizori' part. And come to think of it, that was you, wasn't it!?"

Four Eyes: "That sounds like me, but I've posted things like that so often I don't remember that one."

Unturning: "You two sure are close."

Four Eyes: "...Are we?"

Novice: "Not again! Not again!! And there's kind of a battle going on!"

That is true.

But there was new movement beyond the sign frame Mitotsudaira had glanced at.

Mouri-01's right arm had been severed at the base.

Her summer uniform's sleeve was partially torn and her right arm flew through the air, but...

...Eh?

Mouri-01 was moving. And not because she was wobbling from the injury or unsteady from the force of the attack.

"Too bad."

Mouri-01 got up. She matched her speed to that of the approaching table, placed the sole of her right foot on it, and stepped onto the diagonal surface.

She did not falter as she began surfing on the table and Mitotsudaira realized something.

...This is the same as Walsingham and Horizon...!

"She removed her right arm before the attack hit, didn't she!?"

That was exactly what had happened.

Mouri-01's right arm rotated itself through the air.

With the inner shoulder connector exposed, it sent itself out at a height of 3 meters.

This was gravitational control.

Her right arm aimed its pistol toward the blade sticking out of the table.

At the same time, she swung her left hand out.

The components of a second pistol spilled from the left side of her skirt.

The metal firearm was instantly assembled in her left hand and it aimed at the blade protruding from the table.

Ootani Yoshitsugu was a data entity, so the blade was a part of him and he would take damage if it was shot.

"You are mine!"

Gunfire rang out.

However, it came as a surprise to Mitotsudaira. First, it was only one shot. And second...

...That was fast!

The timing was wrong.

Mouri-01's right arm had fixed itself in midair and its pistol fired a beat too soon.

And not at Ootani Yoshitsugu.

"Mouri-01!?"

Her own arm fired her own pistol at her own body.


Asama could not follow all the action.

She was a student and a shrine maiden. She did not understand the subtleties of close-quarters combat or the meanings of the various actions.

But there was one thing she understood better than Mitotsudaira or Ujinao.

She understood why Mouri-01's right arm had fired on her.

...I know what that is...

While falling back, she saw Mouri-01 knocked to the left.

Asama watched her long blonde hair fluttering through the air and her right arm fixed motionlessly in the air.

"That is a virus program!"

That was Ootani Yoshitsugu's true form.

"He is not a mere data entity! He is a virus that uses divine transmission pathways to mess with and hijack divine transmissions devices and program-controlled machines!"


Mouri-01's right arm had been hijacked by Ootani Yoshitsugu.

Someone made a decision as soon as they saw that.

It was Asama.

She quickly confirmed the Musashi's purification information.

"...Any reports or records of an intrusion!?"

External virus programs attacked the Musashi on a daily basis. Nations, corporations, and individuals would attack them in the hopes of gaining the data within the Musashi.

To defend against those attacks, checkpoint gates were set up at various points around the divine network. On top of that, the divine transmission pathways were purified.

The daily tuning of the divine transmission and ether pathways did more than maintain the ship's infrastructure; it also eliminated any viruses that had made it through. The process was performed periodically, but Asama tried to do her own check whenever she had some spare time.

...In addition to viruses, it also prevents stagnation, mysterious phenomena, and divine transmission interference.

The Asama Shrine had been in charge of this for many years, so they could generally perform the tuning with a single command.

Everything impure or malicious was purified and most of it was returned to ether.

At the same time, people's personal divine transmission histories were checked for anything "extra" that had made it in from outside. For example, there was an idiot who kept hitting the "enter" button for a European uncensored religious art site which was clearly a scam, an idiot who viewed a porn game walkthrough site crawling with viruses, and an idiot who regularly browsed a porn site that stole your personal information. Of course, it was all the same idiot.

Recently, she had installed Hidden Nobility, stealth monitoring software used by shrine experts, on his sign frame and PC, but she was a little worried she was turning their national representative into a porn spy.

At any rate, she had confirmed that Musashi was safe. But had they only won because they could pour so much more power into their defenses? It was possible Ootani had appeared here because he could not touch the Musashi.

...But we should probably inspect all of the transport ships.

She immediately sent word to her father.

Asama's Dad: "Okay! I'll head to the port and check it out!"

How many do you think there are?

But the situation was still underway.

Mouri-01 had been sent flying and the table had accelerated toward them.

And up above, Mouri-01's pistol aimed their way.

"Watch out...!"

Asama activated a defense barrier and started to move forward.

With him and Horizon falling back, she thought it was her duty to move in front of them. However...

"Wait, Asama," he said. "You can't move out in front."

"You mustn't, Asama-sama!"

Two hands reached out from behind to stop her.

They were Horizon's.

And as she wrapped her arms around the shrine maiden, her hands grabbed ahold of her breasts from behind.

...Eh?

Asama did not often experience such a solid grope.


Ootani heard a scream.

It came from beyond the table he had pushed forward as a barricade and weapon.

He thought it had to be Mouri-01's, but...

"Kyaaaaah!?"

...Why is the Asama Shrine Representative screaming!?

Hashiba had informed him that infighting was extremely common for Musashi, but he had never expected it here.

He was glad he belonged to the peaceful Hashiba forces. He had heard Shibata's forces were also quite cannibalistic, but...

...Musashi is frightening indeed if their "survival of the fittest" attitude is stronger even than the Shibata forces!


Laughter echoed from the Musashi's deck.

It was Kimi. She was lying on her side atop her bench and she had one arm over her bare breasts and one holding her stomach.

"Heh heh heh. Now that's a nice and deep groping! Can anyone do that for me!? Oh, I'm sure you can, Mito's mom, so you don't need to try! C'mon, Adele! Or Suzu! Come here and start groping!"

"Eh? Eh?'

"Why me!? And things are looking dangerous up there!? What are we supposed to do!?"

"Good question."

"An excellent question."

"A good question."

"A very good question."

Kimi, the Reine des Garous, Narumi, and Gin all spoke at once.

Kimi looked to the Reine des Garous, who looked to Narumi, who looked to Gin, who...

"Master Muneshige."

"Judge. ...That ship is under Mouri's control, so we cannot jump onto it from outside. It would automatically take defensive actions against a foreign intruder. ...And Mouri probably wants to avoid owing us a favor when we have a battle tomorrow. So we can only entrust this with the people already there."

"A very good summary."

"A good summary."

"An excellent summary."

"Good summary."

After hearing their answer, Adele finally shouted up at the diplomatic ship.

"5th Special Duty Officer! Good luuuuuuck!!"


Ootani saw Mouri-01 fly out from behind the table and into the air on the right.

Her flight would be partially due to her kicking off of the table. With an automaton's thought speed, reducing the impact to minimize the damage would be a simple task.

But Mouri-01 held a gun in her left hand.

From his perspective, it was the outside arm. She would have difficulty turning around enough in midair to aim his way and, even if she did manage to shoot him, whether it was a devastating hit or not would be entirely up to luck.

So he decided now was the time to act.

He would kick the table again to slam it against the opponents who were falling back.

He aimed left, toward the Houjou and Mouri representatives.

He had to stop them with the table while he took care of his true target.

His true target was Musashi's Chancellor.

...He is Hashiba-sama and Mitsunari-kun's greatest foe!

He would be an enemy of Hashiba's forces at Sekigahara and the Osaka Campaign.

Slaying him here would be a valuable result.

"Mouri! Houjou! You are attempting to toy with the history recreation for your own futures! So I intend to exterminate that playful attitude at the root!"

With that, he pushed hard on the table.

While lifting his body forward, he struck the table with his shoulder and...

"Here I go!"

He kicked the bottom of the table.

In that instant...

...Huh!?

His control system for visual data saw something.

The Mito Lord was charging straight toward him.


It only took an instant.

Ootani thought the Mito Lord was going to jump over the table. Either that or use it as a stepping stone to circle behind him.

But he was wrong.

The Mito Lord matched his pace from directly ahead and then raised her right knee.

And...

"Here...!!"

She hit the table with a crushing kick immediately after he kicked it.

And her kick sent it down toward him with enough force to break the two remaining legs.

As a result, the table lost all support.

"...!?"

And it rapidly snapped shut.


Ujinao sensed something unbelievable.

...Huh?

The table lost its legs and became no more than a board.

That was the Mito Lord's counterattack against Ootani's kick.

And she did more than just kick it back.

She dropped her heel down on it like an axe.

That blow struck the thick table and smashed the two legs supporting it. And as the sound of destruction filled the air...

"How about that!?"

There was nothing more than the tabletop below the Mito Lord's foot.

Ootani was below there.

He had to have been crushed. The table had been instantly flattened to the ground, so there was no way he could have escaped.

But she soon had her answer.

There was light.

A crushed wind whipped up from the gap below the tabletop the Mito Lord stood on, but...

...That isn't it!

A humanoid figure grew from the center of the tabletop.

That warrior was Ootani Yoshitsugu.

As a data entity, he had deactivated the setting used to interact with the tabletop.

The table had not crushed him.

Ootani Yoshitsugu forcefully jumped up.

"Impressive...!"

With that, he swung his sword toward the Mito Lord.

The weapon grew as he swung it. It extended to several meters in order to slice horizontally through the Mito Lord's torso.

It hit.

And light shattered at the slash's destination.

The solid sound provided the answer.

Ootani's sword had shattered.


Ootani Yoshitsugu saw the shards of light scattering in the wind.

...It shattered!?

That was exactly what had happened.

The sharp point made from his own body had grown long enough to easily reach the enemy, but it had been broken.

Why? he wondered. I did not have the blade judge a hit until it was right on the verge of hitting.

"————"

To answer his question, he looked to the enemy.

His high-speed vision saw the Mito Lord standing in front of him.

He knew she had Loup-Garou blood. Reading the Chancellor's Officers Almanac was enough to find that information.

But even with Loup-Garou blood, she should not have been able to touch a data entity like him.

...Then how...!?

Just as he asked that...

"————"

He detected an attack from behind.

It was the wind.

Some of his body had been scattered as a side effect of passing through the table.

It was that scattered portion of his body that sensed it. Ether and writing escaped the wrapped paper that seemed to contain his body and the wind carried it toward something.

...Cross-shaped barrier lernen figurs!?


Mitotsudaira moved forward.

She did so because Ootani had quickly ducked down.

He stayed low like a bug as two lines of light raced above his head.

They were blades. Cross-shaped ones made of ether.

They were two of the cross-shaped barrier sign frames that had been stabbed through the table.

They were anti-ghost and humans could not touch them.

Yet they flew through the air to reach her hand.

...I have a way to hold the unholdable.

The trick was simple.

"Silver chains!"

The silver chains were a divine weapon. They were made from ether metal and they retained that power even after being formed into physical chains.

The two obelisks attached to her hip hard points had ejected a silver chain each.

But she wanted to avoid grabbing Ootani Yoshitsugu with the tight arms on the end because she did not know how much of an effect Ootani's virus would have.

So she grabbed the two barrier sign frames with the silver chains' tight arms.

When she had slammed the table down, the barrier sign frames had floated up from the table due to their minimum altitude setting. After they fell out, she grabbed two of them and launched them at Ootani.

He had dodged the slashes she made at his back using the silver chains, but based on his timing...

...He's reliant on sight!?

Was there a reason why a data entity would insist on using a human form?

Asama would probably tell her if she asked, but the explanation would probably be quite lengthy.

For now...

"I can finally take you on!!"

Mitotsudaira pulled back the silver chains and sent the twin swords toward Ootani.