Horizon:Volume 6C Chapter 50
Chapter 50: Two Skilled Ones in the City
Will it reach?
Of course it will
I’ll make sure it does
Point Allocation (Message)
Naomasa was the first to speak up.
She had reacted upon seeing Righteousness stand up from the southwest side of the Odawara city.
Two sign frames were opened next to her. One displayed Mishina Hiro who was on the way back from Suwa and had the transport ship sky in the background.
“Masa, is Yoshy’s Righteousness moving?”
“Judge. From the look of things, it’ll manage.”
“I see. …That’s good. That was my first big job here, so I was a little worried.”
“If you were worried, you still need more experience.”
Naomasa then looked to the sky visible behind Hiro. Based on the information from the engine division and the optical observations from Musashi…
…It’s going to take another 4 or 5 hours before they arrive.
What would happen with Noriki?
As part of the engine division, she was honestly more interested in how her classmate had “redone” his spell. She was a mechanic, but she still lacked knowledge and experience when it came to spells. She had modified Naito and Naruze’s schale besens in the past, but that had only made her painfully aware of her inexperience and it had only excited her.
“Okay, Masa! You take care of things there! I have some work to do below deck.”
“Being the team leader is a lot of work, isn’t it?”
“It’s not so bad,” said Hiro before ending the divine transmission. But the sign frame did not disappear. The transport ship was still sending her information.
And Naomasa looked to the other sign frame.
That one displayed Taizou who was looking at another sign frame.
“…Hey, Old Man Taizou.”
“Judge. I was listening in.” Taizou placed a hand on his chin. “Hiro has finally gotten used to how we do things and she’s focused on making a name for herself. That’s why she has that tomboyish way of speaking. She started out speaking in a completely masculine way, but my stupid son-in-law told her to tone it down some and only be a little masculine. He claimed that ‘tomboyishness’ made him happy.”
“Did you punish him for that one?”
“I had him produce some extra armor panels for the Ariake. Thanks to that, we should have enough for the front surface this time.”
“And it’s all thanks to Hiro, huh? …Anyway, she probably thought she had to ‘change’ because of how small she is.”
“The mess with Sanada’s Isa was tough on her so soon after arriving on the Musashi.”
“That is not a fun topic to talk about.” Taizou smiled bitterly. “And if something isn’t fun, you just have to laugh it off and tough it out. And when it is fun, what can you do but laugh? This is a good chance for her to learn both those things. …When she realizes how worked up she is right now, she’ll have finally grown accustomed to Musashi.”
“I feel like you’ve been raising her too well.”
“Most of the raising has been done by my daughter, so I can hardly say she was raised poorly.”
“Is that so?” said Naomasa with a nod.
Just then, the crossdresser raised his head with a bandage around his shoulder.
“Naomasa, Flatty’s god of war is moving, right? But she isn’t riding it, is she? Then how can it move?”
“It has an autonomous mode, so it can move based on what it’s learned.” Naomasa raised her prosthetic arm. “But now Righteousness has the same automaton support system as Jizuri Suzaku. …Transfer Ceremony is a heavy god of war external comprehension and response system. The god of war will move itself in sync with Yoshiyasu’s movements.”
Yoshiyasu heard mechanical movement rumbling overhead.
It was the familiar sound of Righteousness moving. But it was unusual to hear it overhead while in a city. This was very nearly a first for Yoshiyasu.
…Those are my movements.
Righteousness’s sight devices were watching her actions. Those sight devices were in more than just the head. They were also installed across the body, providing a wide-range field of vision.
…That way it can see me when I’m down by its feet.
This was not a problem. Her biggest fear had been being stepped on from behind, but…
When she started walking toward Genan’s mechanical phoenix, a slight wind moved behind her.
Righteousness was walking after her.
And its right leg moved by on her right.
But the following metal left leg was stopped. If it had swung forward, it would have kicked her.
The autonomous movement system was aware of her presence.
That was an amateurish way of carrying itself, but the focus was on safety first.
…It’s fine as long as I don’t position myself wrong.
She understood why Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer stood on her god of war’s shoulder. On top of the god of war was a safe position that gave the god of war the most freedom of movement.
In that case, thought Yoshiyasu while double-checking her own equipment.
She had a long sword on her back and a short sword on either hip.
She reached for the left short sword first.
“Ohh, will you show me what you can do?”
“Judge,” she confirmed while moving forward.
She drew the short sword into empty air while walking. And…
Behind her, Righteousness used the same motion to draw the sword on its left hip.
It was a yoroi-doshi capable of piercing god of war armor. And with that thick blade…
“It can chop off a mechanical phoenix wing.”
With that Yoshiyasu stepped forward.
Yoshiaki watched Righteousness moving through the distant street.
She stood on a roof to gain a view from above the city.
This was just as she had finished her break at the teahouse and said “now then” with Kani.
In that view of the Odawara city, Righteousness drew its sword.
This was her first time seeing that girl fight.
…Now, how will this turn out?
Yoshiaki placed a fan over her mouth to hide her smile.
Righteousness’s gait was definitely Yoshiyasu’s. At the same time, it made moves to protect her.
For Mogami, gods of war were associated with the neighboring nation of Date.
Yoshiaki had seen quite a few gods of war in her time, but Righteousness’s autonomous movement was very well done.
Great care had been put into it.
Care for the god of war and for the pilot, Yoshiyasu.
Autonomous movement experience came from how many different actions the god of war had repeated and learned. They also learned by taking in information on the outside world and creating links between the external situation and its movements.
That learning was generally done while the god of war was on standby.
The high level of Righteousness’s autonomous movement was the result of a fulfilling time during training and on standby.
The pilot combined with their god of war, but it was not just during that combination that the pilot’s traits were apparent in them. Traces of the pilot would also show themselves when the pilot was away. So…
“You were shown great care and you showed it yourself, Yoshiyasu.”
“Is that Satomi Student Council President Yoshiyasu-san’s god of war!?”
“Testament. I expect it is about to put on quite a show.”
Just as she said that, Righteousness moved forward.
The battle was beginning.
So, said Yoshiaki in her heart before saying it aloud.
She spoke directly to Kani who stood on the roof in front of her, checking the corner of the roof with the bottom of her foot.
“So let us begin as well.”
“Testament! …Thank you for this opportunity!”
At the same time, a blade filled Yoshiaki’s vision.
Kani had immediately launched a spear attack without a single motion to betray it.
And the very first attack was to the face, blinding Yoshiaki.
Yoshiaki also moved.
The two Mogami Representatives began their battles in the Odawara city.
The battle between a god of war and a mechanical phoenix came down to an exchange of shots and slashes.
The road was about 12 meters wide. That was plenty wide for the god of war to move around. It was also wide enough for the mechanical phoenix if it kept its wings folded.
The two forms were in constant motion in that space.
One was a golden mechanical phoenix.
Genan’s Gold Crown Bird had its wings folded but fired from their base and bottom side. It skillfully used its thick legs to move its body and fall back with movements unthinkable for its bird foundation.
It did not only use close-range shots to attack. It occasionally used something else against its enemy.
The tip had been made into a ram. The mechanical phoenix would thrust it forward like a spear to deter its enemy’s advance.
The mechanical phoenix’s enemy was Righteousness which acted as an enormous copy of Yoshiyasu.
The autonomous god of war dodged the mechanical phoenix’s shells and sliced through them with the blade in its right hand.
And while making quick work of the cannon blasts, Righteousness moved forward.
But each time Righteousness took a step forward, a series of cannon blasts attacked its giant form.
It was a close-range rapid-fire attack. The autocannons fired on Righteousness at a rate of 6 times a second. With the short sword striking them, the resultant noise was like a never-ending metallic scream.
The shells produced continuous sparks and occasionally left scorch marks in the roofs or walls of the houses bordering the road.
But Righteousness still managed to move forward and push at the mechanical phoenix.
There was a third figure who pursued the movements and scattering sparks on that battlefield.
It was Yoshiyasu.
Wearing a hat, she advanced while catching up to Righteousness and being passed once more.
The short sword in her right hand was shorter than the yoroi-doshi in Righteousness’s hand.
But Righteousness was copying her movements. The girl and machine used their identical actions to endure the mechanical phoenix’s cannon blasts.
“Oh, damn…!” shouted Yoshiyasu. “This isn’t working right…!”
Yoshiyasu felt a cold sweat on her back.
For a god of war pilot, standing on the battlefield outside of the god of war was just plain dangerous.
After all, they removed most of their equipment in order to board the god of war.
There was an emergency rescue pack below the god of war’s cockpit, but it only contained clothing and food, not equipment for survival on the battlefield.
Generally, anytime a god of war pilot ended up outside their god of war on the battlefield, it meant they had been “abandoned” there.
She was lucky to have the vest and few other pieces of equipment she did have.
…But once you’re outside, you can really understand the significance of a god of war.
With a god of war, you could fight another god of war, a mechanical phoenix, or a dragon.
The pilot was defenseless on the battlefield, but they were nearly invincible as a god of war.
That imbalance led to an understanding.
“People are such weak creatures…!”
Without surrounding themselves with a great power, they could not resist a great enemy.
But inside that great power, it was difficult to strengthen themselves.
She had seen that dynamic before.
She was inside Musashi. She was inside Mogami.
She was also inside something much larger and using that to face a great enemy. However…
Everyone could be isolated on the battlefield.
The great power surrounding her and everything that would support her would not help her with this duel.
Right here and now, she was alone.
This might be the last time she could be isolated like this. And yet…
…I can’t overwhelm him…!
Her enemy was Houjou Genan. He was the boss of Houjou’s mechanical phoenix unit which was their mechanized air force. His small body was well suited for piloting mechanical phoenixes and he had supported Houjou land from the air for many long years.
Satomi had possessed an air force and god of war forces, but they had mostly fought to protect their nation from Edo Bay. They had rarely attacked Houjou land.
Genan was one of the reasons for that.
When Satomi was intercepting Houjou attackers, his mechanical phoenix unit would fly in from Houjou land as a deterrent.
He would find a gap in Satomi’s defenses and do things like have transport ships drop strange tentacles.
And after finding the perfect method to discourage their actions, he would laugh loudly.
…Well, I don’t actually know that he laughed.
Maybe I just had a persecution complex. Maybe he was covered in a cold sweat the whole time. But I have a hard time imagining him sweating while dropping those tentacles. That was clearly just harassment. Well, that’s fine. Wait, no. It’s not fine at all.
But she had not faced him since leaving Satomi.
She and Righteousness were very different from back then.
But now that she had stepped out onto the battlefield…
“Damn…!” shouted Yoshiyasu while looking up at her enemy and moving along with Righteousness. “Has nothing changed…!?”
She focused her eyes, swung her arm, controlled her body, and moved forward.
Each time, an intense noise and a shower of sparks filled the air while Righteousness’s feet and Gold Crown Bird’s steps shook the ground. Their movements whipped up a wind which pushed her body toward the ground, but…
…What does that matter?
She felt the summer heat and the oil-smelling machine heat approaching like a wave, but she simply kept pressing onward.
Naomasa followed Righteousness’s movements with her eyes and opened a new sign frame by her hands.
Without taking her eyes off of Righteousness, she raised the sign frame to eye level with her right hand.
It was a telescope spell sign frame.
The magnified view of Righteousness was covered in smoke and the sounds of sparks.
…That’s about 3 kilometers away.
Aboard the Musashi, judging distance by sound was a common practice. And from that great a distance…
“Splendidly done,” said Futayo while looking to the watermelon sashimi Horizon was making. “Even if that is a mechanized rapid-fire attack, handling such a great density of attacks from such close range is no easy task. Also, I believe Yoshy…-sama is doing this while not aboard the god of war.”
“What do you…mean…?” asked Suzu.
“Judge,” replied Adele. “Aboard the god of war, the god of war’s processing power could be used to raise her perception speed. That means she could react to the enemy’s attacks, but the Satomi Student Council President is doing it while outside the god of war.”
“Is she not aware what she’s doing?”
“She has to have noticed,” said Naomasa. “Besides, this has to be the first time she’s done this.”
Naomasa watched Righteousness eliminating the enemy attacks with quick movements.
She kept her movements compact and she moved forward. There were no contradictions in her tactics. When focused on compact movements, she had to be close to her enemy if her attacks were to hit.
…That said, you could still call her actions inexperienced.
Keeping your movements short was a primarily defensive action.
When launching an attack, a longer movement increased the reach and the destructive power. This likely meant Yoshiyasu was still unable to switch between the two styles.
“Oh…so that’s it.”
It hit Naomasa.
The high level of the autonomous movements meant a lot of time had been spent on it in training and standby.
So who had she trained with to learn those defensive actions?
Just as Naomasa wondered that, she heard an unexpected voice.
The idiot spoke up as if breathing a sigh of relief.
“…Yoshiyori is there.”
Yoshiyasu’s sword slashes were directed at Ujikuni’s mechanical phoenix.
But the idiot said something else.
“Yoshiyori, that’s not going to cut it. …You never taught Flatty how to attack. That’s why she’s having so much trouble.”
She had left Satomi, gone to IZUMO, and lost everything except for herself and Righteousness on the way back.
She had moved to Musashi, built up a connection with Mogami, and learned her way around combat and politics, but…
“I can’t overwhelm him!?”
The enemy before her was not as strong as her sister.
Nor was he as strong as Yoshiyori.
Or so she thought.
That had to be the case. After all…
…Those two are the only ones I should be no match for…!
Wait, no, she thought.
Yoshiaki and the Musashi group also counted. Their Vice Chancellor and other combat officers were the wild type, but they were her allies. She found she no longer minded if she was no match for an ally.
That was an unexpected area of growth.
Still, she could now reproduce the movements from her training against those two people she cared for.
At the time, she had been unable to get a single attack in on them.
She did not want to accept that that also applied to this opponent. That would bring shame to the Satomi name.
Houjou would become a relic of the past here, so…
“I will win…!”
Genan gulped inside the mechanical phoenix’s cockpit.
But this was not a sign of concern. It was a joyous response.
…Now she’s going for it…!
Had that Satomi country girl – that child who was always hiding behind Yatsufusa – managed to improve this much?
She was more than ready to fight on the front line.
Of course, she was still not worthy of Yatsufusa.
Her attacks were insufficient and her movements lacked an overwhelming force
The Yoshiyori who was her sister had used elegant movements. Her sword fighting had possessed a flow that made it feel like there was no opening between her attacks and defenses.
The previous generation Yoshiyori had used intense movements. His sword fighting had possessed a strength that silenced his surroundings with the actions of his blade.
This girl lacked either of those powers.
But, thought Genan as he fired his cannons and thrust his ram forward. This may be this girl’s strength.
She merely dealt with his attacks and advanced. It was simple, but it was the most important thing to do in combat.
Attacks had to reach their target first and foremost.
Genan had fought both of the Yoshiyoris.
For a long-lived, he had lived only a fraction of a long life. But his age was quite high for his clan. Those two had been difficult opponents to face toward the end of his primary fighting days.
He had wanted to ask those two to stop making his old bones suffer from the burden of the high mobility and to stop making him spend all-nighters putting together detailed strategies.
It had been an honor.
And he had ended up living longer than those two who were younger than him.
Of course, Houjou land was what mattered to him. He knew the trends of other nations were a secondary concern.
But since he would be stepping back from this active role once Houjou was destroyed…
“It’s going to be lonely. Hey…”
“I feel a chill in my old bones when I think about how I have no friends outside of Houjou.”
If anything, he specialized in combat more than politics.
Everyone like that had to have had the same thought with Houjou’s fall approaching.
…Once Houjou is gone, could I visit my most formidable opponents and have a quick battle as a form of greeting?
But with Satomi destroyed, he had assumed he could never have them as an opponent again. However…
“So Satomi still has someone left who forces me to get serious when I challenge them just for fun?”
He changed the cockpit’s mode. He opened a sign frame and fixed his body in place. That solidified the position of not just his torso but his head and everything else too.
“Sight devices: eye synchronization. Link with sensory reaction spell.”
He did not touch the controls. Sign frames covered not just his hands and feet but his shoulders, neck, and closed eyes too.
“Sensory reaction. …Link to mechanical phoenix.”
This was a prototype system. It was a crucial test for the next generation machines.
“An open combination. …I will test this on you, new star of Satomi.”
Yoshiyasu noticed a change in the enemy’s movements.
Specifically, in the cannon blasts, ram attacks, and body movements.
…There’s a human element in them!?
This was not a machine. There was something uncertain in the movements, like when a person had combined with a god of war.
“It can’t be…”
“Oh, it most certainly can.”
She heard Genan’s scratchy voice. He sent an attack her way, and…
…Here he comes!
He pushed in.
Genan’s Gold Crown Bird had primarily been falling back as it attacked, but now it pushed forward as it attacked.
“The reaction speed provided by the combination system is the greatest advantage of a god of war. Meanwhile, a mechanical phoenix is shaped so differently from our bodies that the disadvantages of the control system are too great even if you do combine. However, Satomi Yoshiyasu.”
He fired at her blade.
He deflected it. But not forward. Backward.
The enemy was trying to move forward. Yoshiyasu raised her blade in response.
“Did you leave the control system in place but linked the sensory and control systems!?”
That’s ridiculous, thought Yoshiyasu. Combining with a god of war was meant to provide the pilot with the high-speed sensory processing, but that was only possible when combining with the god of war and receiving the support of the cooling system and other systems.
If you linked the machine with the sensory system while your body remained untouched, the burden would fall on your physical body.
That burden normally required a god of war’s cooling and support, so how much of it could be eliminated with just the divine protections placed on your body?
“Are you suicidal!?”
“I will not die. No, I will not die. Because there is a time limit,” said Genan while sending attacks her way. “But I expect this will be necessary in an upcoming battle. Don’t you think?”
“What do you mean?”
“Ho ho ho. …The Kantou Liberation.”
“See? It will be necessary.”
A moment later, Yoshiyasu realized she had been careless.
While firing some more, the enemy had sent in a ram attack.
She had been distracted by the simplistic pattern of the cannon blasts and her blade was not enough to block the ram arriving behind it.
…I’ll have to defend…!
As soon as she crossed her arms in a defensive posture, she heard a loud noise and Righteousness fell back.
Genan had taken control of the battle.
…This is rough…!
He had tested this several times already.
But real combat was different.
He had thought the limited environment of a duel would make it easier, but this may have been even worse than an actual battlefield. He had no allies here and he was forced to constantly focus on the enemy.
Also, Gold Crown Bird was meant for use on the ground. Since he had to be constantly thinking about the ground as he moved, he had to use a variety of muscles even more than his head.
…This is not good.
“I can’t keep complaining about my old bones as an excuse.”
But he was no longer piloting with his arms and legs. The signals sent from his brain and passing through his nerves were detected and responded to by the sign frames placed over the different parts of his body. Most of the responses came from his neck and shoulders, so the response was strongest there.
It felt like he had become the mechanical phoenix from his neck down.
He had never expected to test a system like this near the very end of his time as an active fighter.
This would surely become the standard for mechanical phoenixes in the future.
Even if Houjou was destroyed, the technology would remain. He could see the future in his hands. So…
“The present! This is about the present! Satomi!”
Not the past. Not the future.
The present would overwrite the past. And if he was to have peace of mind about the future, the present was what mattered.
And in that limited time…
“Show me the present, Satomi…!”
Just as he shouted that, Righteousness showed him something after having fallen back.
It had drawn the other yoroi-doshi in its left hand.
It was the length of a wakizashi. And the god of war’s stance was…
…Two sword style!
It knocked aside his attacks and moved forward. The enemy intended to carve a narrow path through the battlefield as a weapon of advancement.
“Don’t think you can reach me like that…!”
Genan smiled and made his attack.
Ookubo watched that giant battle from close by.
This was her first time seeing a god of war battle from close up. She had been below deck guiding the evacuation when Sanada’s Lindwurm had arrived, so she had not seen that.
A great power was running wild in front of her.
Metal arms swung, metal feet stepped, and both destroyed cannon blasts that would have blown away a person.
The sparks were pretty. The scattering noise continued without end, so she had started tuning it out.
There was simply the movements, the wind, the sparks, the smoke, and…
The god of war was pushed back. But immediately…
The god of war pushed forward.
The phrase “back and forth” came to mind and Ookubo belatedly realized she had stopped sweating. And…
She saw someone at the god of war’s feet.
It was Satomi Student Council President Satomi Yoshiyasu.
Instead of riding the god of war, she was controlling it remotely in an act that could only be described as prideful.
But that girl was moving forward in a position far more dangerous than Ookubo’s.
Even when the god of war fell back, she moved forward. She did not let herself fall back.
She found the answer as soon as she asked the question.
This battle was against Houjou.
It was a history recreation of the Siege of Odawara, but it was Satomi’s final battle against Houjou.
She could not fall back. She was the lone member of Satomi, but she carried a burden here.
Ookubo stopped thinking and reached that conclusion instead.
This was an important battle. It would be best for Yoshiyasu to ignore her pride and burden so she could do what was needed to win.
If she did not win, the rest was meaningless.
With that, Ookubo looked to the girl’s back.
She looked at the back of a fellow second year name inheritor who was only trying to move straight ahead.
Attacks were exchanged at close range.
There was nothing but movement and sparks between the two sides and they would sometimes alternately push forward and fall back, but other times, one side would push forward and then push forward some more.
But one thing was protected in this battle of constant movement and reversals of positions.
They did not destroy the city.
They both led a nation.
To Genan, this was a precious city even if it was to be destroyed.
For Yoshiyasu, it was a civilian city even if it was part of an enemy nation.
Some might destroy it, but these two were identical on this front.
These fighters would settle this through nothing more than fighting. So…
“That isn’t going to work…!”
With that short exchange of words, the sparks of cannon fire and sword strikes eloquently displayed their stances and willpower.
Genan sent his power out to pierce her.
Yoshiyasu sent her power out to reach him.
The two of them created a balanced exchange, but they were not attempting equilibrium.
Genan raised his mechanical phoenix’s hips to increase his charging power in what amounted to a bipedal dragon’s stance.
Yoshiyasu lowered her hips to lower her center of gravity so she would not be forced back.
As a result, Righteousness was exposed to a series of attacks from above, but…
Yoshiyasu spun her hat around backwards to secure her upwards vision.
She sent out her right blade to defend against the cannon blast.
Yoshiyasu did not choose simple defense.
She sent her blade vertically into the glowing ether cannon blast.
The blast was split and it scattered to either side as it exploded.
Yoshiyasu extended Righteousness’s right wing to the back and swung the head to the left. The bursting light cannon’s force passed through the location vacated by its lowered wing and tilted head.
But the blade passed through.
And Yoshiyasu moved forward. She first leaned forward and pressed her body into the raised right blade.
The fragments of light flew and light scattered through the air. Within that, Righteousness launched itself forward.
The base of the blade was up against her right shoulder now, so she could thrust it forward again with her right arm.
Of course, she had performed that action countless times before now.
If this played out like before, the enemy would fire a series of cannon blasts to deflect the right short sword. However…
Righteousness stopped pushing out its right arm. It let its right shoulder push the raised short sword while moving its entire body forward.
This surprise attack was made by using the previous pattern as a feint.
Of course, this was when the enemy would fire his cannons.
But this time, Righteousness would not deflect the enemy projectiles with a snap of its wrist or arm.
Its elbow was bent and its wrist locked in place. And…
Yoshiyasu switched to a backhand grip on the raised right blade.
She took a stance that allowed her to strike at the arriving cannon blast with the tip of the short sword.
She would pierce it. Even if the enemy made a rapid-fire attack, Righteousness could support itself with its body and push forward all at once.
…As long as I’m prepared for a certain level of damage!
She was prepared for that as she suddenly shifted into the new stance.
Meanwhile, the enemy’s cannon blast arrived.
The first shot did hit. But it hit the tip of the prepared blade.
A tremor ran through Righteousness and a clang of metallic impact came from the right of its back, but she did not mind.
A series of similar attacks was coming, so she leaned forward and thought about what was to come.
She had Righteousness step forward.
Immediately, Yoshiyasu heard an unexpected noise. Or rather, lack of noise. She heard nothing at all.
She had expected to hear the impacts from a series of cannon blasts, but she actually heard nothing at all.
No, she could hear the sounds of hers and the enemy’s movements. But…
…I haven’t heard any cannon blasts beyond the first one?
The expected rapid-fire attack had not arrived. Thus the silence.
Genan had stopped firing.
Genan had seen through Righteousness’s movements.
Yoshiyasu’s skill was not at the level of the previous two generations, but she had reached the Special Duty Officer level. And she went somewhat higher when it came to her specialty of simple advancement.
In the past, he would not have been able to see through her attack and feint.
He would only have been able to sense danger and move away.
But that had changed.
…My senses show it to me…!
Righteousness had shifted to a different defense and advancement method in battle.
He had seen through the instantaneous feint and advance because of his accelerated senses.
Of course, his human body remained unchanged, so his high-speed senses were not perfect. It only provided 1/10 – or in his case, 1/4 – of the benefit a god of war would have.
But he had seen it. He had grasped the initial movement of the enemy changing her movement.
The rest had been a gamble.
Should he move or not? It was the following thought that had made up his mind for him:
…Well, I guess I’ll do everything I can.
He was ending his time as an active fighter.
He would leave his results here as data for the next generation and he would retire at the Kantou Liberation.
During the Kantou Liberation, he would ride a “cutting-edge craft” constructed in the old way without sensory acceleration.
Even as Houjou faced its destruction, the new and old were in conflict. In the field of air force development, the old had been driven out. He was using this open combination system in order to acquire combat data and as a sign to the next generation.
Others had followed his example.
He used this machine to send new data to them. And if he was to achieve results here…
“Now is the time…!”
Genan was already moving.
He used the ram on the tip of the bow.
The pile bunk attack used the neck joint and it targeted Righteousness’s face devices. The way he swung his entire body a bit to the left was a gentle motion he could not have done with a traditional mechanical phoenix control system.
The force of this strike was harder to dodge than a cannon blast. His split-second decision had been to move his partially-combined “body”.
The attack avoided losing its initial momentum from cannon recoil.
Meanwhile, Righteousness had yet to extend its arm.
He would extend his neck first, so there was only one thing to think.
Genan used his body to strike strongly forward.
Yoshiyasu made her decision in an instant. She decided to stop her opponent.
But her current action put her at a disadvantage. She had charged forward herself.
How could she transform that into a “stopping action”?
And how could she dodge the enemy’s ram?
Yoshiyasu gave it no thought whatsoever. She simply reacted with what she needed to do.
She only had to collapse Righteousness’s stance.
And by moving it into the next action supplied by her subconscious. She would connect it to the next action that had permeated her body thanks to training.
Yoshiyasu swung Righteousness’s left leg forward as it advanced.
Righteousness left its left leg behind so as not to step on its master.
A moment later, Genan’s Gold Crown Bird pierced Righteousness’s face with its ram.
But the position had shifted.
Because Righteousness had left its left leg behind, its body sank down and twisted to the left.
The dog ear that functioned as an auditory device and the armor on the right side of the head were taken away.
After the impact to the head, the control system reinitialized for just an instant, but…
“Righteousness! …Stand up!”
Yoshiyasu’s voice reached the remaining auditory device on the left side.
Its master’s voice could be used as an activation signal. That took priority over all else, so all the unnecessary boot-up checks were canceled.
It moved with its master’s wishes taking priority.
Righteousness stood up with the mechanical phoenix’s ram resting atop its right shoulder.
Genan’s Gold Crown Bird had failed to destroy Righteousness’s face. And if its face was there…
The standing motion became an upper shoulder attack.
An intense noise rang out and a shock raced through both machines.
Metallic creaking came from the mechanical phoenix’s neck joints and head.
Righteousness wobbled, but it used that time to adjust the other settings that had been canceled.
Yoshiyasu moved while aware the timing was only just barely working out.
The short sword held to the right shot straight up.
The motion would lop off the mechanical phoenix’s head from directly below. And…
Yoshiyasu used a left-handed underhand throw to toss the other sword forward.
Genan’s mechanical phoenix was targeting her with the cannon on its right wing.
It twisted its body to launch the attack which collided with the thrown short sword.
There was an explosion and the repelled short sword stabbed into the ground.
The right sword continued racing toward the mechanical phoenix’s head.
Yoshiyasu saw the result of her attack.
The mechanical phoenix had let its entire body collapse backwards to evade it.
…I dodged it…!
The attack from below had been effective, but it had also helped Genan. Because she had been striking up at him from below, he had had an easier time leaning back to dodge.
The series of movements had worked well for him.
When the impact from below had hit, he had honestly given up. So this is it, he had thought.
But that resignation had affected the movement and control of the mechanical phoenix.
The relaxed mechanical phoenix neck had not opposed the impact from below. The multiple metal joints had been lightly wrapped back and then knocked straight up by the god of war’s shoulder.
The impact had left through the top, and…
Genan’s body had been released from the open combination system.
The impact and damage had triggered a safety which released the combination and the linking spell for the sensory acceleration.
He reached for the control sign frame. The pressure-sensitive sign frame did not change its feel as the craft attempted to change. It felt familiar in his hands.
So when he pulled back with all his might, the craft raised its head and…
And because he had twisted a bit to the left before, his left cannon was still aimed at the enemy.
Righteousness had ended up in a stance with both arms raised.
Its torso was wide open.
Throwing the left short sword had been a mistake on Yoshiyasu’s part.
She must have been unsure whether to respond to the distant left cannon with attack or defense.
She had trouble hitting attacks over a long distance.
This was another example of that.
He had bent and stepped back, so Righteousness’s stance and weapons could not reach him.
He would likely have lost if he had been up against the previous two generations. So…
“Let this be a lesson to you as we end this Houjou battle…!”
Genan raised his voice and used his hands to send a signal to the firing control.
Just then, he saw a certain color.
He saw a silver line in the sign frame displaying the skyward vision from the tip of the bow.
…A short sword?
It was the one Righteousness had held in its right hand. It had thrown it into the sky.
It had already lost the left short sword, so this left Righteousness unarmed. However…
“It can’t be…”
On the sign frame providing the view dead ahead, Genan saw Righteousness holding a new weapon.
It was a tachi.
But it had not worn this blade on its hip.
This long blade had been equipped on its back. Righteousness had placed both hands on its hilt.
She simply grasped the hilt on her back and sent her body forward.
Her primary attack techniques were limited to extreme close-range, so this was her only way of making a long-range sword strike.
Her stance and everything else forcibly required this long-range attack.
In other words, she had to draw the sword and strike from overhead.
But she could not just swing her arms for this.
She had to move her leg forward, lean her upper body forward, and swing the tachi with her abs.
She had to send it forward with her legs, hips, chest, shoulders, elbows, and wrists in that order. Only then could it…
“Ohh,” said Genan.
He was responding to the attack from overhead. And the extreme-close-range shoulder attack leading into it.
They had both been unrefined, but…
…She has not lost the connection…
The previous generation had possessed intensity and the generation before that had possessed elegance. Would this lead to a fusion of the two?
Would that be the end result of this small girl’s somewhat hesitant movements?
But for now, she had connected it all together. The enemy’s attack had reached Genan’s craft.
“Well done…!” he shouted while realizing his right wing’s cannon blast had been destroyed by the blade. “So Satomi was not lost…!”
The blast washed over Ookubo as wind.
Gold Crown Bird’s right wing had been sliced by Righteousness’s sword and then the explosive blast had caused even more damage. The metal split and, more than just sparks, scorched metal fragments burst forth like innards.
And the blast struck Gold Crown Bird’s body.
But the shockwave came from the wing’s base.
Since the frame was tough, the wing was not torn off and the blast had nowhere but the sky to go.
The sound of torn air lasted an instant. Gold Crown Bird’s wing was bent downwards. As for the main body…
It shook from the intense impact.
But that was all.
There was a creaking noise and the reverberation of the nearly-broken wing stabbing into the earth, but the mechanical phoenix endured.
Meanwhile, Righteousness crouched low while slowly returning the sword to its back.
While it sheathed its sword at such close range to the enemy, Ookubo heard a voice.
It was the Satomi Student Council President. Her shoulders rose and fell with her breaths as she spoke to her enemy.
“…I reached you.”
She took a deep breath and repeated the words she had taught to herself.
“I reached you…!”
Yoshiyasu heard a voice reply with “testament”.
It was the mechanical phoenix. Gold Crown Bird extended its head downward like the victor even though it could barely move. And it spoke to the crouching dog.
“I saw it for myself. Thus…”
She heard Genan’s voice.
“Is this your win? At the very least, my mechanical phoenix can no longer move.”
“No, I’m in a similar position.”
Yoshiyasu belatedly sensed her own inexperience and placed a hand on her right cheek.
“The previous attack caused issues with Righteousness’s right auditory device and right facial sight device. So…”
She raised her right hand somewhat out to the side.
Righteousness started to follow the motion, but…
“It can’t perceive anything beyond this.”
She tried waving her hand, but Righteousness did not mimic it. It did seem to follow the movement up to the elbow, so the shoulder to the elbow moved in a confused sort of way. Because…
“There is a blind spot between that and the flank sight device.”
When avoiding the ram, she should have moved the head to the left and back. Since she had only tilted it to the side, it had not escaped the impact and the devices had been torn away. That rushed decision was proof that she had yet to calm herself.
…I still have a long way to go.
She felt like she had gotten closer to her sister and Yoshiyori, but her method had been poor. Still, she really did feel like she had reached that level. So…
“This was a victory for Satomi.”
“It was a draw for Mogami as a part of the punishment of Houjou. …Righteousness cannot hope to match an expert in this state.”
Genan’s response did not come from the speakers.
She looked up to see the mechanical phoenix’s cockpit hatch had opened, revealing the old man.
He was resting his head in his hand and he spoke with a bitter smile in his voice.
“Are you going to go on and win, Satomi? …Some of our young people will miss the battles with Satomi, but others will be aggravated but accepting of the new state of affairs.”
“How happy for them.”
Yoshiyasu realized she was smiling a little.
As a member of Satomi, she had no future generation or companions the way Genan did. However…
“Tell the rest of Houjou that was an excellent battle. After all…”
She looked far into the east where a giant ship was visible in the sky.
It was the Musashi.
Yoshiyasu spoke as she looked up at its grand form.
“It was thanks to Houjou that Satomi accomplished what it did.”
“What Musashi needs more than anything in these duels is wins over Houjou, but they just lost twice in a row!?”
Masazumi shouted to Naomasa who was viewing the city through a telescope spell.
The information on her own sign frame provided essentially the same information that Naomasa had. But…
Tsukinowa tapped his large foreleg on the part that said “draw”.
He probably meant that as a correction, so she patted the anteater’s head. Regardless…
“This is kind of bad!”
“Okayyyy, Seijun-kun!” said the idiot. “We have strayed a fair bit from your strategy!”
“If you ask me,” said Horizon. “Masazumi-sama relies on other people too much.”
“Heh heh,” said the idiot sister. “It looks like she really should have argued for a flashier and simpler type of war yesterday.”
“If you ask me,” said Nenji. “Won’t this be a troublesome miscalculation for the other nations as well?”
…The real problem is how I feel like all of them are right…
After all, the rules said draws were invalid.
And if Houjou Genan could no longer use his mechanical phoenix, Genan would leave the battle without passing his rights on to anyone.
“That leaves 4 from Houjou. …But Ujiteru is taking a break and who knows what he’ll do from here on.”
“Judge.” Gin held a prosthetic hand over her eyes and looked to the Odawara city. “The battles last 30 minutes, so there will likely be some people whose rest times and battle times do not match up.”
“Judge. They can be on the same battlefield, but the timing of their breaks means they never meet each other.”
Masazumi held a hand to her forehead and sighed.
“Have this, Masazumi-sama,” said Horizon next to her.
The offered plate contained watermelon sashimi.
…Why did she slice it into blocks?
It was strange to see the rind curled up like peeled apple skin.
On the other side, the Tachibana Couple were politely picking up and eating pieces with chopsticks, while Futayo was piercing them with skewers to eat several at a time. Both options seemed right yet wrong, but what even qualified as “right” in this world?
Further away, Mary and Crossunite were discussing it.
“Oh? You were right, Master Tenzou. It is surprisingly good with salt.”
“Judge. The salt helps the sweetness stand out.”
Mar-Ga: “Can’t someone make a law to execute anyone who tries to earn easy points?”
Azuma: “…No matter what I say, Miriam says it isn’t good enough, so could you also make an assistance law?”
Gold Mar: “…I think you’ve earned more than enough points already… Yeah…”
Silver Wolf: “That situation sounds awfully familiar…”
Asama: “Wh-why are you looking my way, Mito!? You aren’t going to get anything out of me!”
Did everyone like earning points that much? That would be a product of their managed society.
But the issue here was the national points, not the personal points.
…Umm, how are Houjou and our forces doing?
“Houjou has lost once to Sviet Rus and tied once with Satomi. We have won once to Mouri and lost once to Date. And right now Mogami’s Yoshiaki and Hashiba’s Kani are battling, right?”
When she asked how that was going, a grinding sound came from the Odawara city.
Masazumi was not the combat type, but even she could tell something was being destroyed.
She turned around and saw something. The roofs in the northeast part of Odawara were being torn away. Across a few different locations, they were deeply gouged into and eliminated.
“What was that…?”
Had a multi-shell gravity pressure round been fired? No, more importantly…
“Who did that?”
Masazumi quickly had Tsukinowa open a sign frame.
Who was fighting in northeast Odawara?
“Mogami Yoshiaki and Kani Saizou…!?”
“Judge,” confirmed Mitotsudaira with her eyebrows raised in a smile. “Mogami should have only participated in the Siege of Odawara and the Keichou-Dewa Conflict, so by making an enemy of Hashiba here, they are siding with Musashi!”
“Hmm.” Masazumi glared at the Odawara city. “Kani is from Hashiba, but defeating Hashiba in this battle doesn’t really get us much… Oh, but I guess it will reduce the enemy’s numbers. …We’ll have to be happy with that…”
“D-don’t sound so sad! Let’s keep things bright! Okay, Masazumi!?”
Kani heard her heart pounding in her ears.
She stood on an Odawara roof and a giant hole was opened nearby.
…What is this!?
The hole had a diameter of nearly 30 meters. And the destruction took the shape of a sphere.
She had never seen this before. Which should not surprise her given her opponent:
A half-destroyed house stood 30 meters away.
Yoshiaki stood on its roof.
She raised a fan in front of her face, pressed the tip to her mouth, and kept a smile in her eyes.
“Ohh, so you dodged it. Good job.”
Kani could tell her pulse raced even faster when she heard those casual words.
If she had not dodged this, she would have been eliminated along with the houses and the ground.
She could instantly lose everything due to a single decision.
When that understanding hit her, sweat began pouring from her body. And…
“I quite like children who will continue fighting me.”
All of a sudden, there were giant breasts in front of her eyes.
They belonged to Yoshiaki. She had covered the 30m gap without showing any advance movement.
And she crouched down in front of Kani.
“Tell me if you’re scared, okay?”
She moved to lightly tap her fan against Kani’s forehead.
So Kani dodged. There was no chance the woman intended to make that sort of “contact” at a time like this, so Kani quickly pushed down with the bottom of her feet to distance herself from Yoshiaki.
But she could not.
The fan pressed against her forehead sent two lines racing to the bottom of her feet. That force seemed light, but it fully restricted her movement.
She had been counterbalanced.
“Are you scared?”
Kani tried to shake her head, but she could not.
Even that was suppressed and stopped.
Her upperclassmen might be able to escape these bonds, but for her…
“I don’t understand!”
That was her honest opinion. This went beyond fighting or not fighting.
But there was one thing she had to do.
“I will do my best!”
The opponent before her eyes may have been far beyond her reach. If she could be suppressed so easily, then she had all but lost already. But…
“…I will do my best!”
Kani shouted for the foundation of her power – for her weapon.
Yoshiaki saw the identity of the previous attack.
This was the attack that had filled her vision before.
…An ejected cowling spear…!?
A single cowling spear was ejected from the empty air behind Kani’s right shoulder.
The weapon responded to Kani’s voice. A straight-line attack was thrust toward Yoshiaki’s face.
She dodged to the side. She made an outward step which was hard for spear-wielders to handle.
But just as she circled to the left, which was to Kani’s right, Yoshiaki sensed the beginnings of a wind.
It came from Kani on her right.
She recognized the sound of pressure. It was the same ejection sound she had just heard. Which meant…
…A second one!?
She saw the glint of a blade in the right corner of her vision.
It was indeed a second one.
Could Kani’s weapons be fired in any direction from behind her? If so…
Just as Yoshiaki took a step, she struck the empty air with her fan.
She felt the definite tactile feedback of a hit. Sparks scattered and something flew trembling out into the air.
“A third cowling spear?”
Her question received no response.
The small girl was already charging toward her. And below the girl’s feet…
…A fourth one…!
Kani kicked off the ejected cowling spear to accelerate herself.
And that was not the end of it.
“Here I go!”
With that announcement, all of the cowling spears vanished from around Kani.
But that disappearance was only a temporary thing.
“Oh?” said Yoshiaki as she took a step back. In front of her, Kani swung both her hands.
In response, something was ejected like shells behind her.
“Eight Sasamura Spears…”
The cowling spears with bamboo grass blades were fired with the mobility of a powerful throw.
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