Horizon:Volume 7A Chapter 12
Chapter 12: Joiner of the Stage
I want to say
I can do it even though I’m small
But why does it matter in the first place?
Point Allocation (Younger)
Futayo viewed the boy from a distance of 20 meters.
He was an M.H.R.R. student, but the short boy walked straight to Terumoto’s side with his arms held stiffly at his sides.
…Who is that?
There was no answer to Masazumi’s previous question, so…
“Are you going to use some other method to provide the answer?”
“Exactly. Oh, and he’s a middle school name inheritor, so use that as a hint. Now watch carefully.”
Once Terumoto said that, a light appeared in the sky.
It was a reflected light. When Mouri-01 raised her right hand behind Terumoto, several blades flew up above the boy’s head.
…A group of swords.
Futayo could tell there were 36 of them, they varied in size, and they had flown up to a height of about 30 meters. And that they were directly above the boy.
Mouri-01 smiled and spoke to everyone while light was reflected from so high in the air.
“I will now let them fall.”
Fall they did. Almost all of them took a deadly downward course toward the boy’s head and shoulders.
Futayo read the paths of all the blades and concluded that staying put was his best bet if he had no way to resist them.
Where he was, he would only be stabbed 28 times, but if he moved, he would be stabbed an average of 32 times.
…Moving increases your upper surface area compared to standing straight up.
But the boy chose to move. This was not hesitation or an attempt to escape. He lowered his hips to fight back. And his chosen method was…
“A sumo stomp?” Futayo wondered aloud.
“No, Honda Futayo.” Gin gave her a sidelong glance. “Look carefully!”
Gin-dono, you are always so intense when it comes to me.
At any rate, something left the boy’s hands.
They moved in curves, but Gin was absolutely right.
…That is not a sumo stomp!
The two weapons he had drawn from his hip had serpentine movement, but they also had grips.
And when he swung the grips, he dragged around some links of metal with a metallic sound.
“No again, Honda Futayo. Look more carefully.”
“…You are being mean, Gin-dono.”
Gin wrinkled her brow, turned the other way, and stomped hard with her right foot. That’s the Gin-dono I know. A truly resonant stomp.
When Gin turned back around, she frowned and glared with a smile that did not reach her eyes.
“They are guns!”
Once Gin mentioned it, Futayo could tell she was right.
The guns were little more than a barrel. A frame linked several gun barrels together like a chain and they were extended into the air like a Nankin Tamasudare.
Perhaps you could call them gun chain swords.
“Impressive analysis, Gin-dono! When did you figure it out!?”
“From the very beginning!”
There is no need to shout, Gin-dono.
But the boy opened his mouth.
He crossed his arms, sent the curves out into the air, and spoke.
“Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry.”
The boy had two gun chain swords. Each one was made of 18 barrels chained together and they produced a metallic clatter as they moved.
The boy only had to swing them. He sent waves of motion through the series of guns to play them like instruments.
His voice was the trigger.
With his vocal burst, the barrels fired.
But not all at once. Bullets flew out into the air starting from the guns at his hands and working out.
They responded to the firing of his voice.
The dual series of guns sent out a spray of sparks as if in time to a drumbeat.
He swung the grips a second and third time, sending further waves of motion though the gun blades and releasing a spray of silver into the sky.
They brought destruction.
He was not just firing wildly. Each shot was accurate and it all smashed the blades and shards falling from overhead. He was not satisfied with a single hit to each blade, so he sent bullets toward the broken shards as well.
This was a thorough destruction.
As a result, none of the scattering metal fell directly onto him.
Once his voice fell silent, everyone there saw a silver ring around Terumoto and the boy.
That was all that remained of the swords he had destroyed with gunfire.
Gin could tell how skilled the boy was.
…He is an expert sharpshooter.
The shocking thing about those gun chain swords was not their thorough destructive power. It was the accuracy displayed to achieve it.
After all, the shattered blades had not simply been sharpened pieces of metal.
Far Eastern swords were made by using a core piece of metal called the shingane, surrounding it on all sides with different metal, and forge-welding it together into a single blade. While it might look like a single blade, it was a collection of different metals, so instead of just being hard, the metals complemented each other to make a more persistent overall blade.
Breaking those blades with a bullet required the sharpshooting skill to accurately fire at the points of overlapping metal.
This boy had done that.
And not just once. He had done it enough to fully destroy those 36 blades.
Gin’s own experience as a sharpshooter told her how impressive that was.
“Is something the matter, Gin?”
“No, I just have a question is all.”
But that was not something to ask now, so she chose to speak with Muneshige about something else she had noticed.
“Judge, that’s right. Something about that caught my attention too.”
He took a step forward, and…
“Excuse me! I am Musashi Ariadust Academy Vice Chancellor’s Aide Tachibana Muneshige!”
After loudly introducing himself, he bowed toward the boy and opened his mouth to speak.
“By any chance, are you Nagaoka-…”
But he was cut off by a sudden scream from Mouri Terumoto.
Gin and Muneshige exchanged a glance.
…What was that about?
However, Gin knew what Muneshige had planned to say, so…
“Lady Terumoto, I am the Vice Chancellor’s Aide’s Aide. I apologize for interrupting, but is that Nagaoka-…”
When Terumoto cried out again, Gin and Terumoto exchanged another glance.
“What does this mean, Master Muneshige?”
“Judge, I am baffled.”
“You are baffled?”
Master Muneshige is so wonderfully straightforward. But…
“Lady Terumoto, is that Nagao-…”
“Nao? What’s Nao supposed to mean?”
“Nothing, I was merely seeing how you would respond. Although it seems to have been unnecessary.”
Still, she more or less understood what Terumoto’s bizarre shouting was about.
“We are not to speak that boy’s name, are we?”
Asama: “Incredible, Gin-san. You actually figured it out on your own.”
Gold Mar: “Most of us would just have fun with it for a while. A long while.”
Mar-Ga: “It wouldn’t end until the enemy self-destructed or someone else made a victim of themselves.”
Tonbokiri: “Hm, since that did not happen, Gin-dono must not have fully adapted to Musashi yet.”
Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige! This girl…this girl is ruining my moment!”
“But,” said Masazumi while turning toward Muneshige. “Tachibana Husband, why do you think he is Nagaoka-…”
“Eh? Oh, sorry, Mouri Terumoto. …So, Tachibana Husband, why do you think he is that individual? It didn’t look like you realized it as soon as you saw him.”
“Judge.” Muneshige nodded. “”I realized he must be that individual because of the current situation. Back when I was still a name inheritor, Nagaoka-…”
“My apologies, Mouri Representative. …Now, back when I was still a name inheritor, the Testament Union gave me some advice on ‘how to be Tachibana Muneshige’.”
“Right. Some rules they were insisting you follow.”
Masazumi knew about that because she too had tried to inherit a name.
Nagaya-Stable: “Vice President, you were told to keep an eye out for me, weren’t you?”
Vice President: “Well, you are related to that name’s downfall. History recreations with an emphasis on relationships can’t be fulfilled on your own, so it helps to have some connections in place ahead of time.”
In that case, what had it been for the Tachibana Husband?
“Tachibana Husband, what connection is there between you and Nagaoka-…”
“Sorry, Mouri Terumoto. This isn’t easy.”
Masazumi asked the Tachibana Husband a question.
“What connection is there between you and him?”
“Testament. According to the Testament, we were quite close.”
“Oh, so that’s it!” exclaimed Futayo. “So Muneshige-dono and that boy are meant to have se-…”
“Are you okay, Vice President?”
“Um, well, I hope so. Anyway, you were saying?”
“Judge.” The Tachibana Husband nodded. “But I never received word that his name had been inherited while I had my name. However, he was a part of the Keichou Campaign. My research had shown that most of the Seven Generals only received their names this year, so I was curious about his.”
“Using the process of elimination from there would be a bit of a gamble. But the talk of Lady Nagaoka clinched it, didn’t it?”
“Judge. When a middle school name inheritor arrived while we were discussing that, I concluded this had to be the explanation. And he must have been given the name in a hurry.”
“Hey, hold on a second, Seijun and Muneo.”
“Yeah? What is it, idiot?”
“Hmm.” The idiot tilted his head. “You keep saying ‘he’ and ‘that boy’, but can’t we come up with some other name. Y’know, since Teruko’s gone crazy.”
“I have not!!”
You are acting pretty crazy. Well, maybe you were just crazy to begin with.
But it would not be that easy to come up with another name like the idiot requested.
“What kind of name were you thinking of?”
“Well, what’s his actual name?”
Vice President: “Tadaoki.”
Me: “Hmm, you could read the kanji as Chuukou, but we already have Chuuko.”
Unturning: “Who’s that?”
Uqui: “That was his nickname for Torii Mototada, the previous Student Council President.”
Hori-ko: “Then why not use a misreading of Nagaoka instead?”
Tachibana Wife: “I hate to interrupt, but since Lady Nagaoka is a part of all this, using the family name alone would probably lead to confusion down the road.”
Horizon nodded at the Tachibana Wife’s comment.
“We can start by taking the Naga from Nagaoka as a general classification, but the problem is what comes next. I would like some kind of abbreviation or imagery that would clearly distinguish him from Lady Nagaoka.”
She opened a sign frame.
“Asama-sama, please connect me to our teacher. Everyone should be satisfied if I receive a hint from her.”
Asama transferred Oriotri and Horizon’s conversation to everyone else’s sign frames.
…She’s our teacher, so this should be fine.
After all, she would execute the crazy people during class. That sounded a little wild when put it to words, but the reality was even wilder, so she did not mind. However…
“There, you’re connected. Go ahead, Horizon.”
“Oh? Did something happen?” asked Oriotri. “Aren’t you in a meeting? Is Masazumi working hard?”
“Judge, Masazumi-sama has been itching to get started ever since hearing there is a religious war involved.”
“That said, I believe we are still in a lull, so you need not investigate further, Sensei.”
Masazumi shouted in protest, but Asama felt this much was to be expected.
But then Horizon looked everyone in the eye and nodded to say she was getting down to business.
“Sensei, we have an important matter to discuss with you, so do you have a moment?”
“Huh? Teachers can’t get involved in our students’ actions. …And I am kind of busy right now.”
“Busy with what?”
“I’m having a late dinner. I mean, we’re in Kantou, home of toshomen, right? So I’m having thick noodles today.”
“I see,” said Horizon as she closed the connection.
Terumoto saw Honda Masazumi raise her right hand.
“Musashi has decided to call that boy Nagabuto.”
“Why the hell would you do that!?”
“Our teacher gave us the idea, so just give up.”
“Your teacher, huh?” sighed Terumoto.
Name inheritors in the Far East had little external influence, so the presence of their teacher’s union meant a lot. Not even the students of other nations could defy the teachers.
That was likely what she meant here.
“Then I’ll play along. …Hey, your name’s Nagabuto from now on.”
Nagaoka gave her an accusing look, but she did not care. Then Musashi’s idiot called out to the boy.
“Hey! Don’t let it get to you, Nagabuto! It’s better than being called short and skinny, right!? So rejoice!”
Musashi’s princess sent a fist the idiot’s way without even looking to the side. “Ahn!” he moaned while collapsing to the deck with their princess glaring at him.
“Do not be silly. Now Nagabuto-sama must go by Nagabuto until the day he dies and that will be a life of hardship. After all, if he removes his pants and does not live up to his name, he will be deemed in violation of contract.”
“M-man, the Nagabuto Manifesto sounds rough!”
Nagaoka gave Terumoto an even more accusing look.
“Hey, I don’t want that name.”
“Don’t say that. …Because arguing with them is useless.”
But she did have something prepared, so she patted Nagabuto’s shoulder.
“Hey, Musashi! I have something else to say.”
“He actually has another inherited name too!”
Vice President: “A double inherited name!? Ookubo!”
Nagaya-Stable: “He might have inherited it this month, but the Testament Union hasn’t updated their site yet.”
Vice President: “Did you try a…direct search, I think it was called?”
Nagaya-Stable: “Who taught you that term…? Listen. There isn’t a double inherited name system or anything like that. It’s just a term used to describe a situation. Even if someone inherits two names, it’s unusual for the double nature of the inheritance to receive a special mention.”
Novice: “Ookubo-kun? In that case, search for any P.A. Oda or M.H.R.R. name inheritors from the past month or so who participate in the Keichou Campaign and have a connection to Lady Nagaoka.”
Nagaya-Stable: “I already did that!”
Nagaya-Stable: “Eh? Oh, sorry, Secretary Upperclassman. I snapped at you like you were the Vice President.”
Four Eyes: “Your underclassman got there ahead of you and you even had her apologize when she complained about it? How slow and incompetent are you?”
Mar-Ga: “By the way, this Ookubo is a short and flat girl with glasses.”
Four Eyes: “Ha ha. Oh, is that what this was? Did you want someone to replace me, Toussaint?”
Almost Everyone: “Eeeek!”
Now, then, thought Masazumi as she viewed the narrowed-down information sent by Ookubo.
The sign frame displayed a list of name inheritors. Ookubo must have thrown this together in a hurry because it only had the names and a percentage providing what she thought were the odds of them being a double name inheritor.
There were a few candidates, but one had a percentage far above the rest. That name was…
As soon as Masazumi said that, a few of her classmates reacted: Crossunite, Neshinbara, the Tachibana Couple, Futayo, the Technohexen…
…It would be faster to list the ones who didn’t react: the idiot, Horizon, Asama, the idiot sister…
That was also a long list, so she realized this too was a mistake. But all those who reacted spoke up as one.
“Yes, I know what the name is, but why do you sound so shocked?”
Mar-Ga: “You don’t know who that is!? He’s an incredible person!”
“Eh?” said Masazumi as she turned to look at Nagabuto. The idiot behind her must have done the same because…
“The incredible Nagabuto.”
“Stop! Don’t call me that!”
“Ahhhn, noooo! This Nagabuto is increeeeedible! Just increeeeeeeeeedible!”
“Masazumi-sama, this is not an act meant to entertain. He has simply been harassing people lately.”
“Heh heh. Listen up, foolish people! Now is your chance to tell me what this means in order to make me an even wiser sister than I already am! Now! Bring it on! Splaaaash! Ahh, it’s an ocean of love!”
“I’m not sure what they’re going on about, but…Masazumi-dono? Inadome Sukenao is indeed an incredible person. After all…”
Masazumi tilted her head as Crossunite explained for her.
“He almost always makes the lists of the top three pathetic people in the Warring States period.”
“Hey! Nagabuto! So all you are is long and thick!? Hey, everyone! I think we should give him another kanji to help increase his stamina!”
“Suzu-san! Suzu-san! Do not think about what he means! Clear your mind!”
“Tomo? Is this some kind of Shinto training?”
But while the Musashi idiots had their fun, Nagabuto was clenching both his fists.
“Stop it! Don’t just make up names for people! That’s not very mature!”
“Eh? …Hey, Nagabuto! Have you had your coming of age ceremony?”
“Not till next year! I’m still a middle school 2nd year!”
A stir ran through everyone upon hearing that.
“I can draw this, right!?” asked Naruze. “He’s chuuni, a name inheritor, and a pathetic Nagabuto, so he’s gotta be a bottom! Right!?”
“Hey, Naito!” shouted Masazumi. “Restrain your girlfriend!”
“I would, but it’s faster to let her draw some to get it out of her system,” said Naito. “Kind of like you with wars, Seijun.”
“What is that supposed to mean!?”
But there was something she had to ask.
“How is that Inadome person pathetic?”
“Judge.” Like before, it was Crossunite who answered. “He generally had unbelievable results in training, but during actual battles, he would either achieve nothing or run away. And the worst example of that was…hmm.”
Crossunite scratched his head in hesitation, but finally continued.
“When Lady Nagaoka blew herself up, he was working as a guard for the Nagaoka clan. But when their estate was surrounded, he ran away to save his own hide.”
Gin turned toward the Vice President when she heard the 1st Special Duty Officer’s explanation.
“I believe I know more or less what is going on, Vice President. The unmarked transport ship accompanying the Hexagone Française diplomatic ship before this meeting must have belonged to him.”
“Then is this what Mouri Terumoto is saying: despite the particulars of his history recreation, he has a connection to Lady Nagaoka and was at the site of her death, so we should take him to Nördlingen?”
“Judge,” confirmed Gin while opening a sign frame.
She had done a fair amount of research into name inheritors with a connection to Muneshige.
“In the period leading up to Sekigahara, Naga-…buto marched north to deter Uesugi. He did not return in time to prevent Lady Nagaoka’s suicide and Inadome Sukenao fled instead of protecting her. Nevertheless, he does have a connection to her and he was nearby. Taking him with us would provide a reason for Musashi’s trip to Nördlingen.”
But right as she said that…
“Wait just a moment.”
Someone spoke up and stepped forward.
“I am Sviet Rus Representative Honjou Shigenaga.”
This meeting had felt meaningful for Shigenaga. After all…
Terumoto shouted and then smacked the boy on the head.
“Wh-why does it even matter if my name gets out!?”
“They’ll claim it’s my fault you came here, idiot!”
“Heyyy!” Musashi’s Chancellor raised his hand. “Teruko, didn’t you bring him here?”
“What? Yeah, I brought him here.”
“Then it is your fault!!”
Despite everyone shouting at her, Terumoto spoke to the boy.
“Listen, you can sing, can’t you? Then try shouting. Got it?”
She glared at the boy and inhaled.
“Hey, Nagaoka Tadao-…hey! You’re supposed to shout!”
“Huh!? Don’t spring it on me like that! Give me another chance!”
“Fine, then. …Here I go, okay? Nagaoka Ta-…”
Terumoto karate chopped the boy’s head.
“You don’t have to match my voice’s pitch. That was kind of creepy. And do it a little sooner than that.”
“She sure is demanding…” everyone muttered. Shigenaga agreed, but…
…There isn’t any vainglory there.
Another nation’s leader was growing as a person, but should she be glad or wary? Shigenaga thought about that as she looked to the boy.
“Sorry about that. Sviet Rus has a question concerning the boy.”
“Nagabuto! His name’s Nagabuto!!”
Quiet down, Musashi Chancellor.
This was an important matter for Sviet Rus.
“Just as the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s Aide’s Aide said, he deters Uesugi in the lead up to Sekigahara. So would it be possible for us to settle that with a duel here?”
“Huh? What’re you looking at me for, Seijun? Am I just that cute?”
“No, we need your approval for this. …That boy goes to Uesugi as part of the Punishment of Aizu and it was Matsudaira that ordered that. In other words, us.”
“Really?” asked the idiot, so Masazumi nodded.
“So even if Uesugi wants this, we need your approval.”
“What’s the deal, Nagabuto? Can’t do anything on your own? ‘What Nagabuto Can Do On His Own’. Hey, Black Mar, how’s that for a title?”
“Oh, sorry. I’ve already designed logos for ‘Naga-Butt-o’ and ‘Tada-f*ck-i’.”
“Two doujins!? He’s gonna be a big seller, huh!?”
“Stop! Wh-what is with you people!?”
“We’re going to be your sponsors eventually,” said Masazumi. “So just give up now.”
“Huh!?” he shouted back at her, but she stopped thinking about it since it was hopeless.
“So how about it, Aoi?”
“If Shigeko’s fine with it and we’re fine with it, then why not?”
“Hm, to be honest, we could use this as a bargaining chip with Uesugi.”
“That’s true,” said the Date Vice Chancellor via divine transmission. “If we let them settle Nagabuto’s deterrence of Uesugi here, Uesugi will owe us one. But we might later find we want a history recreation we can interpret as a battle between Uesugi and Matsudaira, so it might be better to not do Nagabuto’s invasion of Uesugi just yet.”
“So it’s like that, huh?” Aoi crossed his arms and tilted his head, but he soon looked back up. “Seijun. A while back, you told me about the people who die when we don’t fight a war, right?”
Masazumi frowned at this sudden change of subject. She probably should have been happy, but she mostly felt surprised.
“You…can actually remember things?”
“G-go to hell!”
“Masazumi, just to be clear, Toori-kun has an excellent memory for the weirdest things.”
“Hold on, hold on. It’s not about ‘the weirdest things’, Asama. I take all the important things to heart.”
The idiot pouted his lips toward Asama, so…
“But, well, um…”
She stammered for a bit and blushed.
As she hung her head and her fingers wandered aimlessly through the air, the Aoi Sister rested her elbow on the girl’s shoulder.
“Heh heh. Every little thing is important, isn’t it?”
“D-don’t tease me right now, Kimi!”
Well, even without thinking about it too much, that boy was who he was because he remembered his remorse.
But Masazumi knew what he was trying to say, so she spoke.
“Let’s have that duel.”
“We’re doing it, Seijun ?”
“Judge. If we avoid conflict here, it will eventually lead to the harm caused by not fighting. And once that happens, it might require more than just a duel like this. If it costs money or our rights to resolve, that will of course be taken from the people’s tax money. So…”
“With a duel, the worst case is needing to pay for medical fees.”
“Yes, Masazumi,” said Urquiaga. “With a war right in front of you, I can imagine it would pain you to delay it or resolve it with money.”
“W-wait!” interrupted Heidi via sign frame. “We’re talking about money here! So send that money the Treasurer’s way!”
“Sorry, Augesvarer, but we can buy money with war.”
“You have that backwards, Masazumi! Let’s face reality here! C’mon, we have to plug our butts up with money to keep the udon from coming out!”
“Um, Masazumi?” said Asama. “This conversation is taking an incredibly ugly turn.”
And whose fault is that? She had given it some thought, but now she had her answer.
He’ll shout on his own now? That was pretty well done. Still, that was careless of me.
“You’re clearly not sorry if you’re calling me that!”
“It’s easier this way, so deal with it. …Musashi is ordering you to fight a duel.”
He was a middle school name inheritor and one who had only recently received his name. This might be his very first battle.
But, thought Masazumi.
“Listen. There’s a good chance P.A. Oda will view your presence here a breach of trust since they’re trying to do the Keichou Campaign. And we aren’t sure we can trust you yet.”
That was true. But she had to clearly state this because the boy was likely unfamiliar with diplomacy.
“I know it’s a pain, but listen. You must have been at least vaguely aware of the breach of trust against your master’s clan and that we would distrust you. Isn’t that why you hid and had Mouri transport you?”
After a while, the boy gave a small nod. And he looked her in the eye.
“I will entrust this with you. I mostly understand, but whether our interests align is not for me to decide.”
“Judge. So for now, work your butt off for our interests. That means a duel against Uesugi. You can use that to demonstrate your resolve and earn our trust.”
Mar-Ga: “Using his butt to work for us? Yes, I like the sound of that. I’ll allow it.”
Gold Mar: “Ga-chan, I can tell you’re enjoying this, but how good a fighter is he really?”
“That’s a good question,” muttered Masazumi as she thought to herself.
…He’s probably a pretty good one given that gun demonstration earlier.
His opponent was Honjou Shigenaga. She used shields, so she primarily attacked with physical blows. A gunner should have an advantage there.
Isn’t that right? she thought while looking to Shigenaga who was already checking her equipment.
“Okay, I think I’ll go with the small cannon style I used at Odawara.”
“That’s not quite what I expected, but whatever.”
Masazumi pretended not to hear the comments of “are you sure about this?” He was a name inheritor, so he would figure something out.
Then she gave the boy his instructions.
“As Vice President of the Far East and Musashi, I command you to carry out an advance history recreation. Your mission is the pre-Sekigahara attack on Uesugi. Neither side is required to win or lose, so just think of it as an extension of your training.”
“Training, huh? Then that’s how I’ll do it.”
With that, Nagaoka looked toward Shigenaga.
He crossed his arms in front of his hips, grabbed the grips on either side, and raised his voice.
“Bring it on!”
That signaled the beginning of the battle.
- Means “long and thick”.
|Back to Chapter 11||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 13|