Horizon:Volume 6B Chapter 43
Chapter 43: Waiters on the Standby Platform
What should we name
The expectation of something beginning?
The world is about to change
Point Allocation (History)
Naruze was not participating in the duels, so she was managing the shipments to be sent out.
…This is a lot more exciting than the events or my usual work.
She had that fairly obvious thought while checking the cargo being carried down from the Musashi via transport ship.
Most of it was festival supplies for the Siege of Odawara’s spectators, and…
“There’s also a prefabricated pool, but the equipment for attack on Takigawa’s Kanie Castle looks pretty dangerous.”
They were transporting cutting-edge equipment and backups. She heard a voice behind her as she piled that up with the other cargo.
“…Oh, what’s the matter, Asama-san, 5th Special Duty Officer? You two look really tired.”
Within the Musashi battle formation bordering the ocean, Adele asked that question while setting down some cargo using Raging Beast.
The mobile shell carried the cargo on its tail ballast and arms while looking to the terrace made from one of the wide block packages for the Musashi’s surface. Everyone’s cargo and food had been brought to that terrace where Asama and Mitotsudaira looked nearly lifeless.
They were lying on top of the cargo, but Adele looked to someone else as well.
“The Chancellor looks pretty dead too. Did something happen?”
Looks like it wasn’t anything sexual, thought Naruze as she looked to Asama and Mitotsudaira.
None of them were scheduled to fight today. However…
“If things get bad, we’re supposed to force our way in for a rescue…so do those two need a healing spell or something?”
“No, we’re fine… We are.”
Asama, who was wearing her shrine maiden outfit, sat up. Next to her, Mitotsudaira fixed the hem of her summer uniform and also straightened up.
“Just out of curiosity, did something happen?”
“Well, last night, we had one of Kimi’s famous…y’know, photo shoots.”
“Oh, yeah. She did one of those for that Asama Shrine ad and for those body pillows. Did Mitotsudaira do it too this time?”
“Judge.” Mitotsudaira took a breath. “And, well, I got up a little early this morning, thinking I could cook some breakfast for my king. I was hoping to show off a bit since my parents are here.”
“Judge. The photos she took last night were blown up to poster size and pasted all over the restaurant’s walls.”
“Oh, so that’s why Kimi asked me about a 24-hour printmaking shop last night. I told her about Hemisphere Printing’s Musashi office.”
“So you helped her with this!?”
Naruze decided not to mention that she got a discount for referrals.
“But wait. You’re exhausted because there were posters everywhere?”
“Yes. The two of us hurriedly tore them all down, but there were even more below them…” said Asama.
“And she had devilishly set it up so the more we removed, the less clothing we were wearing in them…” added Mitotsudaira.
“I can see why you couldn’t just stop partway through…”
“Yes. And the last 5 layers were woodcut boards bolted to the frame. We couldn’t just fold those up, tear them apart, and throw them away, so we had to smash them up in the backyard…”
“You’ve had an exciting morning.” Naruze scratched her head with her pen. “Now, what happened with breakfast?”
“Judge. My father ended up making it.”
“Huh? Then why’s that idiot collapsed over there?”
“Well,” said Asama as she began to move.
She opened a sign frame over the idiot lying on the cargo. It was a large, light-blocking one.
The sky was cloudy, but the sun was shining through the clouds. Asama placed the idiot in the sign frame’s shade.
“Toori-kun…well, to give us space for our room, Horizon squished his room a lot smaller, so all he managed to do last night was clear enough space to sleep.”
“What is it, Naruze?”
“At times like that, you’re supposed to invite him into your futon.”
“Huh?” asked Asama.
After a moment, she realized what that meant and began stammering along with Mitotsudaira:
“N-no, that’s, um…”
She frantically glanced over at Mitotsudaira.
“That wasn’t really an option last night. Was it, Mito?”
“J-judge! We had a lot to deal with after the photo shoot, like pinning down Kimi when she came to grope us or capturing Horizon’s arms as they crawled around.”
Horizon raised both arms where she was sorting through cargo on the other side of the terrace.
Seeing that, Naruze had no choice but to sigh in exasperation.
“Are you two going to survive living there?”
The two girls answered by sitting on the cargo shoulder to shoulder.
And like before, they collapsed into a heap.
Naruze had apparently said something she should not have.
But, she thought. Mary looked over at them and smiled while counting the cargo shipments with Tenzou.
Mary could see emotions, so she must have been able to tell they were enjoying this.
…Then I don’t have to hesitate here.
She knew what her next doujinshi would be about. She would discuss it with Margot while viewing the battle today.
Okay, she thought to build her excitement. Just then, someone arrived from the western path leading to Odawara.
It was Neshinbara.
“Hey.” He waved and called out to them. “It’s about time to get the participants ready. After you enter the city, Houjou says they’ll send you some information on a sign frame!”
Yoshiaki set foot on the ground for the first time in half a day.
She was alongside the Musashi group, but she was below the Yamagata Castle which had landed. She watched the students unloading cargo from the transport ship and preparing it all.
She stretched and then spoke to Shakenobe next to her.
“It has been so long since I set foot on land away from home. I never actually descended to the surface when we attacked the Ariake or went to watch the Battle of Kanagawa.”
Someone spoke to her as she removed her jacket.
It was Yoshiyasu.
The girl had a “Satomi Clan” armband attached to her waist hard point and she raised a hand from the direction of the Musashi group.
“Are you ready yet? They’re calling for us down there.”
“Hurrying will not hasten things if we are not all on the same page. I would like to ensure a means of food distribution on the battlefield.”
“Do you think this will be a long battle?”
Yoshiyasu stopped at a point 5 meters away and Yoshiaki nodded.
“When people this powerful gather, each battle will wreak havoc on the land. And since you cannot draw out your full strength on ravaged land, the individual battlefields will scatter early on. And…”
“Later on, anyone who finds an advantageous position on the ravaged battlefield will wait there.”
“…So we need to make the first attack and challenge them there?”
“No.” Yoshiaki smiled. “Once the initial battles are complete, we will see some political moves. While I can make all the decisions for myself, the other nations will need to discuss things with their leaders. …So about halfway through the afternoon, I expect some individuals – and perhaps the entire battle – will call for a temporary cease-fire. …And that is when I need a supply of food.”
“…So you don’t think you’re going to lose at the beginning?”
“If I thought I would lose, I would not take part in the first place. Good grief,” said Yoshiaki. “I will go all out from the very beginning. But unless I am knocked out early on or the entire battle concludes quickly, I need a way to safely reach the temporary cease-fire.”
Yoshiaki began walking in the middle of her statement.
And once she passed Yoshiyasu by…
“Hey! Where are you going!?”
“Yoshiyasu, where is your Righteousness?”
“I have the autopilot set to come to me if I call for it. Carrying it onto the battlefield would give away my position and its fuel consumption means it isn’t exactly suited for long-term use.”
“Being a god of war pilot does not seem to be worth the costs. …Now, you said they were calling for us, didn’t you? Let’s go.”
“Wait!” Yoshiyasu ran after her. “Where’s your equipment!?”
“My fan is both a gun and a sword.”
“You’re planning to take them on using that? What about Onikiri?”
“Onikiri cuts my opponent’s dependents, but does not cut that opponent themselves. It is useless for a duel like this. Of course, whether or not I am actually taking it with me is something I wouldn’t tell even you.”
“You sure are crafty.”
“I am a fox after all. Besides…”
Yoshiaki gave a “ko ko” of laughter.
“On occasion, it is nice to show off the power of a Nine-Tails. Don’t you think?”
That question brought Yoshiyasu to a stop and Yoshiaki reached a hand out to her.
Yoshiaki rubbed the black hair on that short head and laughed in her throat again
“Ko ko… I am glad you’re worried for me.”
“Of course I am.”
Yoshiyasu sounded exasperated as she walked out ahead of Yoshiaki.
Yoshiaki followed behind her with a light step.
Below the cloudy summer sky of late morning, Yoshiyasu looked back a few times to make sure Yoshiaki was still following.
“Let’s go. It’s this way. …The Musashi group has already entered Odawara. If you’re right, we might be in trouble if we don’t hurry up and get ourselves some good spots.”
“…So the Siege of Odawara has begun.”
Noriki spoke quietly on the gravel-cleared shrine land surrounded by forest.
“Everyone is probably enjoying themselves.”
“How are you doing?”
“Judge,” said Noriki to a sign frame. The screen showed Hiro with the sky and a transport ship deck in the background. She looked sleepy. She had apparently spent the night loading and unloading cargo so they could leave after just the one night.
Noriki commented on her appearance.
“The engine division is always busy, isn’t it?”
“I appreciate that you didn’t apologize like it’s somehow your fault.”
“I’m familiar with the engine division’s schedule. I’ve seen how busy Naomasa and the others are.”
“Masa is really tough.”
Hiro said that with a smile, so Noriki smiled a little too.
“Do you like Naomasa?”
“I’m saying it isn’t normal to put together the Suzaku like she did. From what I heard, it barely needed any balancing or tuning by the time she came to the Musashi.”
“But it needed some, didn’t it?”
“…It was tuned for combat, so it had to be adjusted for work. That means she didn’t make any mistakes; it simply needed to be retuned for the Musashi. Although she’s apparently changed it back to the combat tuning recently.”
“You sound happy about that.”
Hiro smiled, but she did not elaborate.
She must have meant it went without saying.
“Trust based on skill is a good thing.”
With that, Noriki struck his left palm with his other fist.
A solid sound rang out and Suwa sign frames began opening around him.
<Suwa Shrine: 7th Sector: Requesting test strike>
<Requestor: Noriki-sama from City Name “Musashi”: Thank you for using the Suwa Shrine>
<Shrine Divine Protection: 30-Meter Square: Defense, Soundproofing, Recoil Suppression>
“I don’t need the suppression. I don’t want any discrepancies from an actual battle.”
Noriki sent his voice back and to the right. At the edge of the dirt area of shrine ground, the shrine maiden standing on the stone pavement bowed and canceled that setting on her sign frame.
“You can begin preparations for your test strike whenever you are ready.”
“Judge,” replied Noriki while Hiro spoke from her sign frame.
“Is it ready?”
“The basic alteration I requested last night is ready. …I suppose that’s the main shrine for you. Compared to the January I put together, it activates…”
He clenched his right fist.
Immediately, a long and narrow Suwa spell sign frame opened from his fist to his elbow.
But he opened his hand and canceled the spell before it fully opened.
He did not use it.
Twice more, he lightly struck empty air while only half-activating the spell.
He did not fully activate it, but the speed of his strikes grew.
“How much faster?”
“Before, I had to activate it before pulling back my fist, but now I can wait until I send my fist forward.”
“What does that mean?”
“I can make more compact strikes and increase my attack speed. …They said they placed an efficient mainframe on it instead of combining multiple spells…”
Noriki smiled bitterly at the sign frame describing the spell setting.
“But it’s got fairly bad fuel efficiency.”
The shrine maiden raised a sign frame from the edge of the area:
<Test Strike Preparations: Confirmed>
Noriki nodded and raised his right hand. He signaled his understanding.
In response, there was a sound in the air. It came from the main Suwa Shrine a good distance away through the forest.
“Oh, something was just ejected,” said Hiro.
“I can see it,” said Noriki just before a boulder crashed into the ground 5 meters in front of him.
<Test Strike Target: Natural Stone: 12-Ton-Class: For Beginners: Confirmed>
“That was pretty incredible, but are you sure about this?” asked Hiro.
“It’s for fine-tuning the spell. Don’t worry about it. …I’ve asked for another 9.”
“That wasn’t what I meant. …Oh, the order just arrived.”
“The order of battles at Odawara. I’ll send it your way.”
“Judge,” nodded Noriki as it was displayed.
It listed the participants by nation:
- Houjou: Ujinao, Ujiteru, Genan, Kotarou, Yoshiaki
- Musashi: 3 people
- Mogami: Yoshiaki, Yoshiyasu
- Hashiba: Kani
- Uesugi: Honjou, 1 other
- Takigawa: Takigawa, 3 from Sanada
- Date: Narumi
- Mouri: Seki, Reine des Garous
“Some of them haven’t been named yet,” commented Noriki. “It’s mostly ours, though.”
“They said there was no obligation to announce it before the battle begins, so they want to hold back until the last second.”
“When does it start?”
“One o’clock. …Oh, and that’s now.”
The kanji clock in the right corner of the sign frame said it was one in the afternoon.
The order written on the sign frame was automatically rewritten. It now included the previously unspecified names.
“Honestly.” Noriki spread his mouth horizontally. “This was Neshinbara’s idea, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, I can sort of tell that kind of thing these days too…”
Noriki took Hiro’s comment to mean he was not obligated to explain. He sighed, struck his fists together, and faced the stone in front of him.
“I’ll finish this up soon enough. …When are we headed back?”
“It’s a descent so about 6 hours. 4 hours at the fastest, maybe? …But what will you do once you get there?”
“Judge.” Noriki nodded, took his attack stance, and steadied his breathing. “Go save my old home.”
The Siege of Odawara was cloudy.
Below the blowing wind and dull light of the cloudy sky, battlefields developed at a water source, at a castle, and at a city.
They were duel battlefields.
At precisely 13:00, the Siege of Odawara began and the participating nations observed the first battle begin at 13:07.
That beginning was signaled by explosive destruction in the center of the city.
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