Horizon:Volume 6C Chapter 64

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Chapter 64: Impeacher Along the Trajectory[edit]

Horizon6-C694.jpg

Oh, honestly

It doesn’t matter

If you think

It doesn’t matter

Point Allocation (Memory)


A battle had begun below the night sky.

It was fought in three directions: east, west, and south.

To east and west, Hexagone Français’s god of war units clashed with the Hashiba warriors who were preceded by an aerial bombardment and a charging unit. To south, the warriors of both sides clashed head-on.

The Hashiba charging unit applied their Weight of Life divine protection to all their warriors. That allowed 2 platoons to fight back against a single enemy middle god of war.

The Hashiba forces fought back against the heavy god of war units using the aerial bombardment, but the enemy attack was still wearing down their ground units. The highly-mobile heavy gods of war had begun striking the Hashiba warriors from the side.

The light warships acting as barriers for the transport ships were being hit and becoming no more than walls.

Cannon fire, god of war movement, clashing metal, and wind rang loud. And amid it all…

“How much longer!?”

“It’s only been 3 minutes! That’s just a tenth of the time!”

“But keep at it!” someone shouted. “The enemy officers can’t get here! The commanders are stopping them! So we’re only up against ordinary students! We’re the same, so what good are we if we can’t hold them back!”

Everyone agreed and fought against the god of war clash using defense barriers strengthened by divine protections.

“I wish the commanders would get back soon…!”

“You idiot! They left this with us! And…can’t you hear that!?”

A sound shook the air as if in response.

Loud and heavy noises rang out from much closer to Paris.

Fukushima and the others were stopping and fighting back against the approaching enemy officers.


Koroku was engaged in combat with Isaac of the Three Musketeers.

He was a god of war automaton specialized for artillery. And he was a large unit at about 30m tall.

Koroku had thought she would gain an advantage if she approached while he fired from long range, but…

He’s fast.

He looked hulk-like with feet solidly planted on the ground, but he could move around quite quickly.

That was thanks to the fin-shaped multi-legs on the bottom of his feet. He seemed to crawl like a bug and the fin shape allowed him to cross the wasteland and any bumps or dips with smooth, flowing motions.

“This isn’t good.”

Isaac used a wide area of the battlefield and he fought much like an aerial ship, albeit on a flat surface.

Genbu was designed for defense. Its gravity-based attacks were all for close-range use and poorly suited for a moving opponent. Also, the figure riding on Isaac’s shoulder was in the way. That figure was…

“Armand of the Three Musketeers!”


“Hm, so they know who I am too.”

“Only natural,” replied Isaac.

“Is that so?” Armand swung his right arm. “Now, then.”

His power was wide-range gravitational control.

He could tear up the crust and use it as a wall to prevent the enemy’s approach. It was also crucial for dodging. His power could hide Isaac’s initial movement from the enemy.

He and Isaac had been working together this whole time.

They still were. Armand would raise an earthen wall and the enemy would have to choose either left or right. They would use that moment to take their next action and get a step ahead of their opponent.

Their weapons were the secondary cannons on Isaac’s legs and waist.

He continually fired quasi-anti-ship class and anti-god-of-war class secondary cannons.

Meanwhile, the Genbu had excellent defenses. Not only did it have plenty of armor, but it could use a system known as Excessive Jab to create gravity barrier shields.

From what I’ve seen, those can deflect and strike down Isaac’s secondary cannon blasts.

But the ability to defend was not the same as the ability to fight.

“They’re gonna have a hard time against us. Don’t you think, Isaac?”

“Affirmative.”

With that word, Isaac raised his left arm. That was one of his main cannons, but he did not aim it at the Genbu.

“Target: enemy light warship. Fire.”


Koroku reacted to the enemy’s movement.

It happened just as she prepared to sit on the bench below the eaves in the virtual cockpit.

“Light warship, raise your defense barriers to the south! You’re being fired on!”

Isaac fired the main cannon built into his arm.

That left arm rivaled a warship’s main cannon.

He can shoot it while moving?

He must have been able to instantly calculate out the effects of inertia and momentum on the shell.

That was probably because the gunner was an automaton and his body was the cannon.

The surface of the crust was blown away in front of him as the force raced out.

Isaac’s entire body floated up a bit.

And noise struck the entire area.

All the dust and dirt that got on Isaac’s armor during combat was instantaneously blown away.

Immediately, the shell flew along a rising curve.

Genbu’s rear vision saw the light warship open as many layers of defense barrier as possible and adjust the angle.

“…!”

The shell was deflected upwards. And the shockwave raced out along its path and shook Genbu.

Koroku had screwed up.

She needed to do some serious soul-searching about this. She would always say whatever she wanted to say, but that was what led people to treat her like a child. However…

I can’t leave this to the light warship.

If Isaac moved side to side with his feet, the light warship would be unable to respond in time.

Koroku could not let herself be shot either, so she had to move forward. However…

“…!?”

An earthen wall appeared right in front of her.

Dammit.

She had to dodge to the left or right.

But a presence approached before she could do that.

The stillness preceding a great power ruled the atmosphere like an alarm.

She knew what had happened. The right main cannon, the opposite of the previous one, had been fired at her.


Isaac blew away the dirt with an explosive blast and saw Armand’s earthen wall shatter as well.

He had fired his main cannon while moving. His right half floated up a bit.

Attitude control.

If possible, Isaac wanted to repeat this.

He would master a single function as a machine.

So he wanted to become a machine that only fired artillery.

But that was a machine’s selfishness.

Perhaps as a kindness to that selfishness, Armand was accompanying him this time and the Belle de Marionnettes were constantly sending him lots of ranging data from Paris’s walls.

They were assisting his defense and confirming the enemy’s location. He only needed to move and fire. He could not enjoy the feeling of being a stationary turret, but he appreciated being able to accomplish something with just his own ability.

And right now, he used the recoil to fall back while staring through the explosion of dirt.

Due to his size, he did not need to fear using passive sight devices when searching for the enemy.

The airborne dirt and rocks filled the space before his eyes like a low-resolution fog.

“Isaac!” shouted Armand.

Isaac’s shell should have scored a direct hit on the enemy.

He had heard the sound of bursting armor from the direction the shell had flown. And he had heard it more than once.

That meant the shell impact had caused all of the Genbu’s armor to burst.

At most, only the enemy’s lower half would remain. So…

“Isaac! Back and to the left!”

Isaac responded to Armand’s voice by focusing on his left sight devices. And behind him…

“—————”

He saw the Genbu.


Unclear, thought Isaac as he spun around and kept his distance from the Genbu’s approach.

It was unclear.

He did not know when the Genbu had moved behind him or how it had moved.

Besides, his senses had failed to detect any sound of an approach. Also…

Audible hit.

Why had he heard the sound of multiple pieces of armor bursting?

His thoughts led him to just one conclusion:

“Multi-layer movable armor.”

“You think so too, huh?”

Hexagone Française’s heavy Lourd de Marionnettes had autonomous armor equipped at their waist and shoulders.

Was the Genbu using that for all its armor?

That would explain what the enemy had done. The impact of his main cannon had been propagated to other armor like a wave and ultimately driven into the ground.

But once you knew the trick, there were ways around it.

“Autonomous armor reacts to an initial attack,” said Armand. “So you just have to start by firing a secondary cannon at it and then fire a main cannon while the armor is dealing with the first one. Or just get real close before firing.”

“Affirmative.”

But the enemy had another defense: a shield made from a thick gravity barrier.

It had used that the day before yesterday. When Bernard had attacked the approaching transport ship as a swarm of small dragons, that had to be the technique used to fully deflect the dragon cannon.

Depending on the output and accuracy, the initial secondary cannon shot might not work.

In that case…

“Well, it’ll work out. We know what we need to do to win…so the rest is figuring out how to do it.”

Isaac agreed while switching from attitude control to a sprint.

He took aim at the Genbu while constantly moving and firing his secondary cannons.


“Kh…”

Koroku clenched her teeth inside the Genbu.

There’s a lag before the armor can recover after opening.

Jumping forward when avoiding the previous main cannon blast had been a mistake.

She had been unable to immediately move and he had gotten away.

It hurt that she had revealed a lot of what she could do, but on the other hand…

There is still a good side to it.

After all, Isaac was aiming at only her now.

That was a good thing for the others behind her. So as an individual…

“Don’t run away, me.”

Isaac was keeping a set distance and firing secondary cannons.

Of course, that was not enough to break the Genbu’s armor. The multi-layer armor would shift position when hit and the rest of the armor would work in unison to let the force of the impact escape. She also used some gravitational control buffering, so an anti-god of war shell could only shake her but not damage her, assuming it was not used as a counterattack.

Besides, she knew what the enemy was trying to do.

“He clearly plans to fire a main cannon after the secondary cannon.”

When Hashiba had given Koroku the Genbu, she had told her to “be on the lookout” for that. Thinking back, that seemed awfully casual, but that was just how that superior officer was.

And it felt wrong to have an enemy going for that in her very first battle using the Genbu.

On divine TV shows, those weaknesses aren’t exploited until the middle of the season.

Perhaps this meant reality was not so kind.

Koroku was currently seated on the bench in the virtual cockpit.

She had a hand on her chin while she dealt with reality, but she liked to be rebellious enough to wear a white dress in here.

“Hm…”

She moved the Genbu around while thinking. She took a circular path that pursued Isaac who was moving around in a circle. However, she ran in zig-zags and if possible…

“Reach him.”

Her outstretched hand was 10 meters short. But she thought to herself while making a few circuits and deflecting shells.

This should do.

She would change the current situation. It was a boring method, but she would go for it. And…

“Now, then.”

She viewed the scene in front of her.

Beyond the virtual space’s garden, she saw a vast field and a path cutting through it. There were cart tracks along the path and no summer grass grew there. She walked right up to it.

“I’m not sure if I’m allowed to call this nostalgic.”

She tilted her head a bit and closed her eyes.

“That’s enough. …Let’s go, Genbu.”


Armand visually tracked the enemy’s movement.

The Genbu suddenly stopped pursuing them.

It stopped!?

No, that would only make it a target. That meant the enemy must be…

“Isaac! It’s taking a shortcut!”

Instead of pursuing them along the circular path, it would cut them off by taking an arc through the circle.

The Genbu did indeed begin running. Its right side was turned toward them. They could see it on their left. Like that, the Genbu leaned forward with both arms lowered. With the tail-like ballast raised behind it, it looked like a two-legged dragon.

But cutting along that arc would slightly distance it from them.

They had the advantage in long-range combat. Moving away from them only worked against the enemy.

So that was what they would do.

Isaac spun his upper body around. The enemy was running alongside them and preparing to pass them, but…

“Lock.”

Armand’s rotating vision shook just once. There were ballast anchors at the end and middle of the cannon barrels and those controlled the bending caused by the shaking and also fixed the barrels in place.

Then Isaac fired secondary cannons toward the enemy trying to get ahead of them.

They pierced the air.

The secondary cannons pursued the Genbu starting from the lightest one.

Sparks flew and the Genbu’s right shoulder armor shook.

But then Isaac moved away.

Continuing along the circular path would only bring him to the point the enemy was headed, so he instead took a path that gave the Genbu’s destination a wide berth.

Armand assisted Isaac’s movements while he was shaken by an inertial force in the opposite direction of before.

While the Genbu approached the original circular path once more…

“…!”

He raised several earthen walls in front of it.

That blocked the Genbu’s vision, so it would be unable to see them.

“Isaac! If you fire from straight ahead, you’ll hit it dead center!”

“Understood…!”

They had gotten themselves where they needed to be.

Isaac spun his body around while piercing the center of the earthen walls. First with a secondary cannon. And then…

“The main cannon!”

With a deafening roar, he fired the right main cannon.

It was such a powerful blast that the cannon seemed to float up from Isaac’s side.

Instead of shaking, it swung backwards. And just as the barrel slid backwards to reduce the recoil, an explosive blast pushed the shell forward and launched it.

The straight line of destructive force followed the path of the secondary cannon.

It arrived at the earthen walls which had a hole in the center thanks to the secondary cannon shell.

The main cannon shell arrived as if to bore a hole.

And it punched through.


Talk about accurate!

That’s just like Isaac, thought Armand. Henri would say it was too accurate and question the nature of Belle de Marionnettes.

Armand did not care either way. He thought accuracy was great and inaccuracy was very human.

And this was Isaac’s time. Accuracy was apparently a wonderful thing. But…

“…!?”

Armand suddenly thought the world had shifted.

Isaac had moved to the right without warning.

His sight devices failed to keep up with the rapid movement and his brain’s comprehension of what he was seeing had been distorted. He made some adjustments to his noisy vision and raised his voice.

“What is it!?”

But there was no response from Isaac who was still moving forcefully to the right.

Something else acted as a response.

It arrived from dead ahead.

“…Huh!?”

It was Isaac’s main cannon.

The enemy had bounced it back at them with a reflective defense. And based on the timing…

“Was it going for this from the beginning!?”

The Genbu was there beyond the obliterated earthen walls. Its arms were raised and thick ether light fragments were scattering around it.

Just as the shattering sound reached Armand, the shockwave of the ricocheted main cannon hit quite close to Isaac.


I missed!

Koroku clenched her teeth at that instead of celebrating the successful deflection.

One of Koroku’s tactics was to accurately deflect Isaac’s main cannon for a reverse direct hit.

The earthen walls in front of her had been a stroke of luck. The secondary cannon hole through them had accurately shown her the trajectory the main cannon would take.

So she had let the secondary cannon hit her and prepared herself.

In the end, the Genbu’s defense barrier had deflected Isaac’s main cannon. However…

“He dodged, huh?”

The enemy had seen her reflection defense now, so she could not expect it to go better next time.

In that case, she thought.

I need to think up another plan!

A concern reached her. The two great pressures of the direct hit and reflection hit the Genbu from the front.


Isaac moved forward.

He had seen the Genbu knocked backwards by the double shockwaves.

That black god of war’s reflection defense could probably deflect any attack depending on the power, but it could not fully eliminate the secondary effects.

The shockwaves created by the hit and reflection had just hit the Genbu.

Of course, Isaac had also been hit by the secondary effects of the reflected shell flying past him.

The main cannon caused a lot of shaking.

But Isaac saw that the Genbu’s armor was greatly shifted to the back after landing again.

The autonomous armor had buffered against the shockwaves.

He could finish it off with a main cannon right now. However…

Shaking!

His entire body was shaking.

That was an unnecessary element for a machine. It only got in the way of the simple task of shooting.

But he had to shoot right now.

Now was the time to shoot even if he was shaking and not in the optimal stance.

“——————”

Strange, thought Isaac concerning that.


It was strange.

Isaac was always thinking that he wanted to be a simple machine.

Thus, he thought he did not need anything that was not needed to shoot.

But all sorts of things were being sent his way to prevent him from shooting.

So why was he so aware that this was the time when he needed to shoot?

“Duty…!”

Isaac saw that four-letter word as a necessity.

It was not a function.

It was a necessity.

Was there any way to ignore the shaking and everything else so he could keep going?

There was. Namely…

“Approach!”

Isaac had sent himself to the right in order to dodge, but now he swung his body forward.

He used all his strength to aim his right main cannon toward the Genbu.

He focused all his movement on his right side. The multi-legs on the sole kicked his right leg forward and his left leg backwards to send him forwards with his right side turned forward. That directed his body’s shaking forward.

“Fire…!”

That was the moment to shoot.

But Isaac realized his vision was shaking.

Footing!?

His right foot’s location was the problem.

The multi-legs under his right foot slipped and his right leg slid to the right.

He saw what had happened as his vision tilted left at high speed.

A great pressure had packed down the ground there.


Did the Genbu set that up!?

Armand checked the ground below Isaac’s feet while working his high-speed thoughts.

Isaac’s weight had caused the ground to crumble, but the angular marks the multi-legs had left in the crumbled ground showed it had been solid in the instant he stepped there.

That was proof the ground had been packed down.

The Genbu had likely done it while moving in that arc. It had followed the same arc several times while making meaningless attacks.

What if all of that was only meant to intentionally pack down the ground here?

The answer was obvious: the enemy had guided them here even if that meant being targeted by a main cannon.

The initial response had been reflecting the main cannon. And if disrupting their stance here was the next response…

“Isaac! This is the enemy’s second attack!”

Blatantly using the explosive blast to fall back had likely been part of the trap.

It had been bait to get them to move forward. If so…

“The enemy is coming!”

The black god of war approached through the vortex of explosive wind and the scattering summer grass.

The Genbu raised its right arm and charged in toward Isaac’s left side since that main cannon was still being adjusted and could not be used.

There was not enough time to turn to the left. The secondary cannons fired repeatedly at close range, but…

Will that not be enough to strip away that multi-layer armor!?

Just as Armand wondered that, he saw Isaac’s response.

Isaac swung his non-functioning left main cannon at the Genbu.


A few different decisions intersected.

The Genbu had not dodged the left main cannon swung horizontally at it by Isaac.

Instead, it had swung its left arm up from below.

Immediately afterwards, Isaac’s left main cannon transformed.

The exterior was twisted like it was being wrung and it shattered.

That transformation instantly raced up to the shoulder and the armor burst starting from the other end.

The sound was a lot like spray falling into a body of water.

The barrel bent and swelled outward. The transformation caused it to intensely hop upwards. But he pulled his arm back to the left.

“Execute release!”

Isaac’s left main cannon detached from the shoulder.

It had not been destroyed. He had purged it himself.

The Genbu appeared to be using its left arm to swing up the spiraling main cannon.

That main cannon was only an impediment to the Genbu, so it tried to throw it backwards.

“…!?”

But it could not. The main cannon heavily weighed down on the Genbu.

That was thanks to Armand.

His companion’s arm was only a component now, so he had used his gravitational control to increase its weight. And…

“Isaac!”

Isaac rotated his upper body.

He used the outward twisting of his left arm to spin his right arm inwards.

He aimed that right main cannon at the Genbu while it was held in place by the destroyed main cannon.

A secondary cannon hit first.

The multi-layer armor was already out of place in some areas and a large wave ran through it this time.

Isaac aimed his right main cannon there.

He targeted the center of the enemy’s chest at just about point-blank range.

And in that position, he made an announcement.

“Fire.”

He did so.


Not good.

Koroku thought in that instant.

How was she supposed to get out of this one? She had an idea, but…

“I guess that won’t work.”

No matter what she did, returning alive was not going to be easy. But she had never had too much of an attachment to life, so…

I guess this is fine.

She also decided to get a good view of the scenery in her final moments.

She was currently inside the virtual cockpit.

There was a garden, fields beyond that, and a path through the field.

She stood on the path, but where was she to go now?

What’s programmed beyond here?

This is complete escapism, she thought with a bitter smile.

She turned toward the rows of fields and cast her gaze beyond them.

“————”

She saw someone there.

They were smaller than she was and they sat on the bank of a stream with their back to her.

Is that…?

Just as she thought that, she felt her vision grow dark.

She feared her life had truly ended, but it soon cleared up.

There was a straw hat on her head. And…

“They’re gone.”

The person she had seen had disappeared.

After confirming they were nowhere to be seen, she took a breath.

“Where can I meet you?”

And…

“It isn’t over until I do.”


Koroku opened her eyes.

Inside the god of war, her high-speed thoughts were still functioning.

She was pinned down from above while exposed to a main cannon blast. So…

“Ahh, this is so lame…!”

She stopped worrying about appearances.

She actually let the main cannon wreckage crush her from above.


An explosion hit the main cannon wreckage.

Bursting air consumed Isaac’s left leg and right main cannon while also striking the Genbu’s lowered back.

“…!”

And everything within a 50 meter radius was hit and crushed by a shockwave.


Armand endured the force of Isaac’s landing.

Isaac had floated up several meters and been blown away.

He had been right to not worry too much about his left leg.

With the armor panels crushed in and the multi-legs embedded into it, the left leg was nothing more than dead weight.

Of course, that dead weight could be used as a shield, but…

“…Oh!!”

Isaac collided with the ground on the left and then right. The impact was enough for the central waist area to bottom and strike the ground once.

While riding on his shoulder, Armand saw the damage to the right side of Isaac’s face. He reached for Isaac’s head and turned it to face the enemy.

Then dirt and metal shrapnel poured down.

The ground torn up by the explosive blast and the broken main cannon components and armor were falling back down. It was too heavy to be called rain and produced a great cacophony, but Armand kept his eyes on the enemy.

The Genbu was there, but it had changed form.

“A woman…?”


Armand saw the Genbu drop all its armor down to fully negate the impact.

The armor removal stopped at the waist. The collection of arches made by the many armor panels looked like a skirt. And a figure extended up from that upside-down flower of blossoming armor.

Is that the Genbu’s true form?

The frame was worn by a feminine inner shell.

It looked like a slender woman wearing a black dress. The face visible below the Genbus’ head armor was shaped with a thin smile below the nose.

And the Genbu moved.

Both its arms were broken. Most likely, it had “reflected” the explosive blast when Isaac had fired his main cannon. Both arms’ armor had shattered to reveal a slenderness that matched the newly revealed body.

But the Genbu brought its hands to its head.

It did not grab an armor panel. The act was much like placing something on one’s head. Perhaps a wide-brimmed hat.

After appearing to fix such a hat, the Genbu lowered both arms.

Immediately all of its armor was adjusted. With overlapping metallic sounds, it regained its original form. However…

“I endured it. And it looks like you can’t move.”

There was exhaustion in the voice Armand heard. But she was right, so he nodded once and replied.

“You are surprisingly mature. I am glad I saw that.”

The Genbu gave her immobilized opponents a definite nod and turned her back.

She began to run toward her next battlefield.

All that remained were the rumbling of the running god of war and the sound of waves much like what one would hear at the beach.

Armand looked up into the night sky and spoke.

“So it isn’t over yet. I wonder what the others are doing right now.”


On the road in front of Paris, someone had fallen to their knees.

This figure who still appeared large even on their knees was Seikai.

Ether light surrounded his arms as he pressed his hands against the ground and shook his head.

Someone was walking to his left and he looked up at them.

“Fukushima Masanori…”

But he did not get the full name out.

That was because he coughed a large quantity of blood from his mouth and onto the dry dirt ground.

He had suffered a blow worthy of being called fatal.

He had engaged Fukushima in combat and this was the result of the very first attack.

“Miyoshi-dono.”

Fukushima looked ahead to the wall and light of Paris as she spoke.

She viewed a former opponent, an enemy she had been no match for: Katou Danzou.

“Thou should receive medical treatment as soon as possible. Our connection to thy group is not a shallow one. At the very least, this is not where thy life should end.”

But Seikai did not nod. Danzou raised his voice as if in response.

“Seikai! …Do you really think you’re important enough to bring me trouble!?”

“No…!”

Seikai produced a bloody voice and stood up, albeit unsteadily.

And he took a deep breath.

If he breathed out, blood would spill with it, so he breathed in and stopped.

He could move as much as the lung capacity of a demonic long-lived allowed. So after gathering his strength like that…

“————!”

Seikai launched an attack on Fukushima’s back.


Seikai realized he was no match for her.

When did she reach this level…!?

She was nothing like the other day.

Even during the battle in that waterway, he would have been no match for her in a proper duel. But the battlefield was a factor and a ninja would use that in every way possible. They had not been dueling in a ring.

So he had thought this would be the same.

He thought back to when he had approached her just now.

I was…

Careless.


Earlier, Seikai had charged at Fukushima.

They were east of Paris and there were wheel tracks in the road, so he had rushed straight in and fired his Sermon Cannon. And he used the 3-way version.

He had not wanted to hold back and had gone all out from the very beginning. Or he had meant to.

If his preemptive strike had been successful, Danzou could have taken care of the rest. He had hoped an unworthy student like him could at least support his teacher.

That was why he had gone straight in.

If his opponent had dodged, he could have circled around her with even greater movements.

There was a trick to that: the wheel tracks in the road.

The slopes created by wheels made for good footholds when moving left or right.

That was all it was, but knowing how to move around the battlefield meant a lot. Especially when his opponent had never been near Paris before. He had already checked over the possible battlefields the day before, so he was more familiar with it. However…

“——————”

Fukushima had dodged his Sermon Cannon to the right.

It had looked like she only lightly swayed her body, but that was inaccurate.

Fukushima had slipped through the gaps between the rapid-fire ether bullets.

Impossible, Seikai had thought.

But she had gotten through the bullets as if simply walking.

Meanwhile, he had moved too far to her right. So he had swung his right hand while jumping. He had made a leap to circle around to Fukushima’s left.

“Seikai!”

That was when he had heard Danzou’s voice.

He had wondered what that was about and that was precisely when the attack had come from dead ahead.

It had been Ichinotani.

How!?

Fukushima had been passing him by, so why had the attack come from in front of him?

Only then had he noticed she had let go of Ichinotani.

And she had placed the butt end against one of the wheel track slopes at an angle that would pierce his gut.

His gaze had followed Fukushima, so he had not seen Ichinotani stab into him like a pike.

No, it was not that he had not seen it. He could not see it because it was hidden behind his right arm’s Sermon Cannon.

This is…

It had been almost the opposite of what he had done in the waterway the other day.

Then, he had made a feint shot hidden behind an arm.

This time, she had done it.

His leaping motion had shifted him from Ichinotani, but…

“———————”

He had not lasted. He had tried to keep his legs firm, but Ichinotani had escaped his movement and spun through the air.

“So thou have returned.”

He had seen it fall right into Fukushima’s hand while she kept her back turned.

Oh.

What have I done? he had thought.

I have undoubtedly helped this monster grow.


“…!”

Seikai activated ether bullets on both his arms.

If he could not reach her and she would dodge, he would have to drag her into it.

He took the Internal Blessings of a demonic long-lived, solidified them in his hands, and ran.

He jumped from the wheel track slopes to accelerate as if running up the road.

Here I go!

There was Fukushima’s back in front of Paris. Her ponytail was blowing in the battlefield wind.

How poetic!

With that thought, he moved his arms as if to embrace her from behind and clasp his hands together.

If he had the ether bullets collide, they would burst and trigger an explosion. Even with her acceleration spell, he could not see how Fukushima could escape the blast.

For an instant, Seikai thought of his companion’s faces.

Everyone…!

But no matter how much he tried to remember, nothing appeared in his mind’s eye.

He was focused on the moment right now. He had no time for his companions. And he wondered if they had accepted him specifically because he was so heartless.

A moment later, he did not so much stop as he did throw himself forward to embrace her. And…

“Seikai-dono.”

He realized the scent of flowers had reached his chest.

It was Fukushima.

She took a light step into his closing arms.


What!?

Seikai came to a stop without thinking.

He realized an impact had hit both his arms.

It was not that the ether bullets had come together and exploded. A horizontal rod had entered between the inside of his elbows.

It was Ichinotani.

The blade end pierced the inside of his left elbow and the butt end shattered the inside of his right elbow.

Her first attack had also harnessed his demonic strength so he would self-destruct.

“Kh,” he groaned while Fukushima’s voice reached him.

“Seikai-dono, how about we put it like this?”

This being…

“Thy mistake was not being more thorough in thy initial attacks.”

In an instant, Fukushima grabbed Ichinotani from between his arms.

Oh.

The floral scent was on the move.

It was the scent of her hair.

She opened Ichinotani, slammed the blade against the ether bullets in his hands, and absorbed them.

“Here I come.”

She had turned around in his arms.

That put her at extreme close range, so he responded.

Ohh!!

His elbow was shattered, his Blessing ether bullets had been taken, and he had received a fatal blow to the core of his body.

What more could she take from him?

If a battlefield blossom would steal anything, would it be your heart? Or…

Seikai sent his entire body forward. He swung his arms, head, and everything else down to strike Fukushima.

“————!?”

He saw a light below him.

It was a blade. Fukushima’s Ichinotani was standing up from the ground with the blade open.

When did she do that!?

He knew. She had done it in the timing you could call the instant of attack.

She could slip an attack into the gap between attack and defense.

She is dangerous, thought Seikai. But he also realized the meaning of the light being fired from below.

He had poured all of his Blessings into those ether bullets and they were now being fired as a cannon. And it would not hit his jaw or face.

It would hit his demonic horn.

“…!”

A powerful impact knocked his forehead upwards.

The ether light scattered, the impact tilted his head up, and the horn on his forehead broke with a solid sound.

Seikai found his vision wavering. The blow to his horn had shaken his brain.

His vision was going dark as he lost consciousness.

But he understood one thing: he had tried to pick that battlefield blossom and instead had his “demonicness” broken.

Teacher, I am sorry.

He thought while falling to his knees and collapsing.

It seems I am still no more than a lover of literature.


Fukushima took a breath after Seikai collapsed and shut his eyes.

She decided against having any thoughts about this enemy.

Seikai had made his decision when he came here.

“Honestly…”

Only now did she come to understand many things.

She muttered to herself while thinking back to her defeat and the path she had walked afterwards.

“If I had understood this earlier, this would have been a very different story.”

She did not feel apologetic. What she had done had been the best option for who they had been back then.

That would never happen again.

And from here on, she could only count on the future.

So she turned to face Paris.

“Katou Danzou-sama.”

“Giving me the ‘-sama’ treatment, are we?”

“Because thou are at a position higher than me.”

However…

“I must reach a position even higher than thee.”

“And what position is that?”

“The Peerless in the East.”

Hearing that, Danzou’s expression changed while backlit by Paris.

“Ha…!”

He laughed. Flying Katou puffed out his small body and laughed loudly on the battlefield.

“You would reach for the strongest of the Warring States period!?”

“Testament.”

Fukushima nodded and stepped forward.

She was a challenger, so she continued forward.

“Here I come…!”