Horizon:Volume 7A Chapter 23
Chapter 23: Officer of a Redone Foundation
We are not redoing this
We are simply
Point Allocation (Stubborn Man)
The artillery fire and explosive flames gave the wind a metallic smell as it washed over Motoyoshi.
…This really takes me back.
The wind seemed to caress the scars on his face. Those were from the lacerations he had received in the previous battle. He smiled bitterly at the hard, chiseled feeling he felt with his fingers.
“These scars are the lesson I learned last time. But…”
Looking at the makeup of this battle showed that he had proper warships this time.
But the enemy was a major problem.
The ironclad ships had been sinking his ships left and right already, but now their main cannons had been powered up even further. Mouri’s warships were above average when compared to other nations, but their enemy was a superpower with a primarily aerial fighting force. This was not an opponent they could defeat in a direct fight.
Plus, Motoyoshi honestly thought these 400m warships were too big and heavy to use well.
I’m too used to making do with smaller ships, he thought while opening a signe cadre by his hands.
It displayed the overall layout of his fleet.
…That looks fantastic.
He was originally a pirate, so he had to think of this as a major promotion.
“Hey, Motoyoshi.” His current ruler, Mouri Terumoto, appeared on a signe cadre. “Win this.”
“Testament. That is the only acceptable outcome.”
“Got that right.” Terumoto nodded on the screen. “These delaying tactics take a hell of a lot of patience. Accepting each of these sacrifices as they come is something only you and your highly-trained warriors can do.”
“Thank you very much.”
“Testament. So keep on harassing the enemy.”
“Wait, Student Council President. This is not harassment.”
“C’mon, you don’t need to hide it.” She waved her right hand back and forth with a wink of understanding. “You got your ass handed to you by Kuki last time, so make sure you get back at him with all this harassment. Man, you really are good at these nasty, never-ending tactics, aren’t you?”
“No, um, I…”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ve all got our own style! Keep it up!”
She ended the divine transmission.
While he simply stood there hanging his head, his aide called out to him.
“W-we like your tactics, Motoyoshi-sama! Um, like how you toy with the enemy.”
“No, you don’t have to cheer me up…”
Motoyoshi gave his next instructions while muttering to himself.
“I kind of had a feeling I was doing that too…”
“Um, Princess? Murakami-sama’s subordinates are sending us a whole bunch of protests via divine transmission.”
“Sounds like his subordinates like him. That’s great.”
“Princess, what did you say to him?”
“Nothing really. Just something about harassing the enemy until we win.”
“…Princess? I think you should give him a proper reward after the battle.”
That man had been missing ever since the Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi in K.P.A. Italia, but…
“I didn’t expect to find him commanding an aerial fleet for Hexagone Française.”
Three Legs: “Um, Kuki-kun?”
Nine Horns: “What is it, Suzuki-kun?”
Three Legs: “Why didn’t you research who your opponent would be?”
Nine Horns: “Make no mistake. I did my research. But during the Siege of Odawara, Mouri had listed their commander as Mouri Terumoto.”
Three Horns: “Oh. So it’s like when I was excited to go to the kabuki theatre because Okuni was listed as the director, but it turned out she only oversaw the production. It was especially frustrating since it was the Ne-no-Kuni play.”
Nine Horns: “Except this time it’s a more exciting result! Like thinking the attacking general is Sakuma Morimasa and finding out it’s actually Sakuma Nobumori!”
A transport aircraft carrier hovered in the night sky above the Shinshu region.
In the control room, which had a good view of the clear night sky, Sakuma Nobumori grabbed the divine transmission mic.
She glared into the distance.
“Hey, hey. Kuki. Flattery isn’t getting you any of my candy.”
“Um, Sakuma? We need attackers for this battle, so we do not need transporters and defenders right now.”
“Hey, hey, hey. Just do it right, okay? I can see the flashes of light from your battle, but it doesn’t seem like the stealthed Musashi has passed through here yet. Why do you think that is?”
She occasionally saw some small lights in the southwestern sky. The audio sensors were apparently picking up explosive noises, but there was no point in investigating further.
“Now,” muttered Sakuma while relaxing her shoulders and ending the divine transmission. “Kuki is an attacker even when he uses defensive tactics. I really think he’d be stronger if he just shut up and fought, though.”
“His opponent, Murakami Motoyoshi, is a defender even when on the attack, huh? Those two are going to make for a tricky combination, don’t you think?”
Magoichi retrieved the Yatagarasu guns when they returned from the sky.
The weapons were worn out after firing their cannon for so long.
…I was right to go for the big initial shot.
If she swapped out the barrels and gave them time to rest, she could return to the fight.
That was where she had screwed up during the Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi. She had been focused on responding to the enemy’s actions, so she had gradually worn down her weapons before firing the cannon on Tachibana Dousetsu.
Firing a wide-range cannon on a major opponent in a highly mobile god of war had not been a mistake. But since her goal had been to slow him down and not defeat him, she could have used the concentrated fire of the three Yatagarasu guns instead.
Of course Yatagarasu had been worn down at the time, so they would have had a hard time continuing the rapid and concentrated fire for long. So…
…This time, I wore down the enemy with a big initial shot.
She did not wait for the enemy to act first.
She did not simply react to their actions.
Her side was stronger, so she just had to go in for the attack.
That was why Kuki kept attacking and preventing the enemy from approaching even as he formed a defensive wall.
But the enemy was gradually drawing the Hashiba fleet into their way of doing things.
“I was hoping to put a stop that, but it looks like Murakami Motoyoshi wants to keep doing this.”
“That it does, Suzuki-kun.”
“Honestly,” muttered Magoichi. “The way he persistently keeps up these nasty techniques really is creepy.”
“Why do women have such trouble understanding the romance of two men locked in a tactical battle of wits?”
“Who gives a crap about romance? I just want to end the enemy attack and win this ASAP. Sniping is so much simpler. It’s usually over as soon as you put a bullet through the enemy’s head.”
“Can you hit Murakami Motoyoshi’s head from here?”
“If only I could see where he was.”
Kuki had to fall silent at how casually she said that. But after a moment, he resumed speaking.
“Suzuki-kun, why do you think the enemy has not changed their tactics?”
“Probably because they think they can win with their current tactics.”
“Even though we are wearing down their numbers?”
Kuki was right and she understood that.
But understanding it did not allow her to predict what the enemy was doing. However…
Magoichi sensed an odd contradiction between the enemy’s tactics and what she saw in front of her. And…
Koni-ko: “Hey, Kuki-kun, Magoi-chan? What are you doing? You need to crush them.”
Nine Horns: “Yes, but we still do not know what the enemy is doing, so we are considering our options.”
Koni-ko: “Hmm, then aren’t you in trouble?”
Three Legs: “How so, Yukinaga?”
Koni-ko: “It’s a simple calculation. …Magoi-chan, you blasted them a bit ago, right? And that sunk a bunch of them, right? So isn’t it weird for them to keep doing the same thing?”
“What I mean is,” said Konishi.
Koni-ko: “How are they making up for their reduced numbers?”
Nine Horns: “Tactics.”
Magoichi just about agreed, but then something occurred to her.
It was not tactics. Or rather, it no longer was. Because…
Three Legs: “It’s not that. I mean, we fired Yata’s cannon to change their tactics, remember?”
Nine Horns: “But they are still using the same tactics as before.”
“That’s the point,” said Magoichi while viewing the flow of intersecting artillery fire.
The enemy ships were forming a downward-angled column. And they were filling in the holes opened in it.
But that column was not what they had to focus on. The real threat was…
Three Legs: “Hidden troops!”
Magoichi understood the reason for the enemy’s delaying tactics which seemed oddly confident.
Three Legs: “The enemy is hiding some of their troops. That is how they will make up for the ships they have lost. These delaying tactics must be a shield and a way to buy time to hide those troops!”
Nine Horns: “Wait just a moment, Suzuki-kun. Where would these hidden troops be?”
Three Legs: “I don’t know.”
That was unclear.
But that was the only consistent explanation for the situation.
The enemy had to have enough troops hidden somewhere to make up for those they had lost. So…
…Where are they?
Magoichi saw something just as she looked beyond the overlapping cannon fire.
Far to the west, clouds appeared to be flowing toward her position in the east.
No, they were not flowing toward her. Something was creating those clouds as it traveled west.
It was the bow of Shinagawa, the Musashi’s 1st starboard ship.
The long and pointed bow was sticking out of the stealth barrier.
It was accelerating westward.
The stealth barrier was just about being torn away in their haste. Which meant…
Three Legs: “It isn’t the Musashi they have hidden!”
Ikeda Terumasa viewed the scene almost directly overhead of him.
He had been seated on the Shirasagi Castle’s wreckage and watching the progress of the Keichou Campaign in the southwestern sky. He had been viewing the divine chat that Asano and the others were using while participating from the Edo side of things. Below that, he could hear the tearful complaints of Shogyobu Daimyojin, the Shirasagi Castle’s management program which had taken on a Mouse form.
“Come on, what even is that…that…that cheater of a ship! Wahhhhhhhhhhh!”
Shogyobu tilted her head back and screamed. They had seen something shortly before she rolled right off the wreckage.
“The Musashi, hm?”
He could hear that giant structure’s virtual ocean from here.
It had to be several kilometers to the south, but its great size made it seem like it was falling right on top of him.
A large ship would produce a lot of wind, but that pressurized sound did not reach him now. They had buffering spells active to avoid being a nuisance to the surface.
The visual information was the only thing to show him its great size.
…It’s so big.
He had seen it several times before, both in recorded images and in person.
But this time, he was looking up at it as an enemy.
He was not participating in the Keichou Campaign, but what if he was?
What if they noticed his presence here as an enemy? And what if he launched an attack on it?
…No, I guess that wouldn’t happen.
His spells were not offensive in nature. And they were so unique that he was quick to decide what to do and those around him learned how they worked pretty quickly.
He knew that he and the Musashi would never exchange attacks.
“But I guess I should send this data over.”
He started up a filming lernen figur and began recording the image of the Musashi passing by overhead.
He could see Shinagawa, the 1st starboard ship. The port side had yet to show itself, but it had to be headed west just like this one.
“I wonder if they can see this from P.A. Oda.”
“The Musashi is headed west after entering stealth mode to avoid the Keichou Campaign?”
Koroku was reading a weekly magazine someone had left in the dining hall when she heard Takenaka’s question.
She had her shoes off and her knees up to fit her whole body on the chair, but now she looked away from the magazine she was holding up toward the ceiling as she read it.
“Where did you hear that from?”
“Sakuma-san apparently saw it. And Ikeda-kun – Ikeda Terumasa-kun, I mean – sent the same information from Kantou, so we could work out their speed and direction of movement.”
“I see,” said Koroku before continuing. “But why do you sound confused? Weren’t we expecting them to come this way?”
“Well, based on the timing, I was expecting their acceleration to come a little later.”
“Wouldn’t they want to rush to Nördlingen?”
“Testament, they would. It is true they need to hurry up in order to end the Battle of Nördlingen and prevent Lady Nagaoka from blowing herself up.”
“So why the confusion?”
“Hmm.” Takenaka leaned back as if resting her shoulders on the back of the chair. She also stretched her arms back over her head. “Does this mean Musashi is coming here without resupplying? I really think they’re going to regret that. Maybe I should recalculate our payload.”
“If they were waiting longer, it would only extend the fear of them hiding somewhere.”
“That is true, I suppose. Whether or not they were actually doing it, there’s less stress in Kantou if the Musashi is on the way here.”
“Testament,” agreed Koroku. “I’m getting some tea.”
“Oh, sure, sure. I think I’ll take a quick break too. Also…”
“Yes, I get it.” Koroku got down from her chair. “I’ll get some for you too.”
“You’ve been putting off your predictions for Nördlingen, haven’t you?”
“Well, um, yes.”
She probably did not want to make any predictions about Lady Nagaoka’s death without a careful examination of the available data.
This could lead to someone’s death.
And they did have their issues with accepting deaths like that. So…
“I’ll go get our tea.”
“You can order something else while you’re there.”
“Of course,” replied Koroku.
The Musashi was moving in response to their trip to Kyoto.
How would this play out and where would they clash? And the Musashi’s movement would also affect the Keichou Campaign in Kantou.
…It’s going to intensify again.
Kuki made an immediate decision.
He opened an insha kotob and displayed a map of the combat region.
“Move the Uraga Channel aerial fleet to the southwest!”
He had the Bousou Peninsula fleet break apart to fill the hole above Uraga and strengthened the anti-air fire at the entrance of the Uraga Channel and above the Miura Peninsula.
Just as he gave those orders, a point of silence appeared on the flat land of the Miura Peninsula.
He also saw something on one of his divine transmission insha kotobs.
He had screens open to provide reports on the results and condition of his own forces, but now one of them showed a noise-filled void.
The screen belonged to a ship landed on the western slope of the Miura Peninsula.
That ship had been providing anti-air fire, but it had suddenly stopped doing anything.
All of the cannons had stopped moving and gone silent.
“Abandon ship! Hurry to your assigned escape route!”
There was no response. He was unsure if they could even hear that, but there was one phrase in his heart.
…They got us!
A moment later, the wooded slope shook from an explosion.
The aerial warship ruptured as if it had been crushed against the mountain.
Magoichi saw it happen from above the ironclad ship.
Their own forces were being taken out for the first time.
They had lost a single warship.
The explosion had been caused by the ether fuel igniting. That had been caused by a series of artillery hits.
But, thought Magoichi. This is odd.
There had been some scattered artillery fire before, but none of it had been this successful.
That meant this was the work of those hidden troops.
The enemy was hidden somewhere and they had concentrated their fire on that one ship.
It had not come from above. It took an anti-ship cannon or pseudo anti-ship cannon to destroy a warship, but they were difficult to aim from an unsteady aerial ship.
This enemy was on the ground. And they were most likely being controlled by accurate gunners.
When Magoichi checked the divine transmission, she saw the people who had escaped the ship being hit by the blast. The signal was almost entirely obscured by static, but…
A voice got through.
“The enemy fire arrived horizontally! Most likely, pseudo anti-ship cannons fired on the base of our turrets!”
That’s ridiculous, thought Magoichi.
Pseudo anti-ship cannons were fairly big and long. It was not possible for a human to carry them around. She had once fought someone who had carried a main cannon, but they had been a demon. I’m a demon too, of course, but I couldn’t do that.
The most obvious guess would be a ship’s cannon, but the horizontal angle suggested otherwise. The enemy column had not descended that far. So…
…Could this be…?
Magoichi had an idea that she would have preferred not to think about. And just then…
She sensed something flying below her ship and toward the ground to the right.
And she heard two things go silent.
Of the warships stationed on the Miura Peninsula, two of them stopped firing their cannons.
And they exploded.
Magoichi looked down below.
She saw what happened while holding the overheated Yatagarsu guns in her hands and feeling their exhaust heat wash over her.
“Looks like I was right.”
The enemy that had fired on their ships was flying just off the ground.
She could not see them, but she could still tell. The emptiness created by the enemy’s successful shots was similar to killer intent.
That emptiness was created when the enemy took the shortest and most optimal route to their target.
There was only the wind created by the high-speed projectiles.
So Magoichi could sense a sniper there. She did not actually want to sense their presence and position, but the reality of the situation and her experience told her everything. She knew exactly what had happened.
“The enemy is using gods of war to fire on our ships!”
Their position was clear now.
“The enemy is located on the Miura Peninsula’s beach! They came from transport ships camouflaged by the others being shot down!”
“If they have caught on, then we have no choice. Everyone, it is time to crush them.”
Mouri-01 moved out ahead.
She saw a dark wall directly ahead of her. The only light arriving through that wall came from the wide and narrow gun port for the pseudo anti-ship cannon. But the scene visible through there was filled with red.
Explosions and firelight were illuminating the beach and hill.
Mouri-01 moved forward as if pushing that light out of the way.
Others did the same on either side of her. The dark walls in front of them were attached to arms. Those were attached to the hard points extending from their shoulders.
Mouri-01 used the wall as an armor panel shield as she continued onward.
Kuki saw it happening.
A PR Committee member on one of the landed warships was sending footage of the beach from the Miura Peninsula.
The dark night sky and sea were currently ablaze.
The scarlet flames and blue ether light from the wreckage of the crashed transport ships was being whipped up by the wind.
Silhouettes were approaching from beyond that.
The giant humanoid silhouettes arriving from the beach were…
“Gods of war!?”
Just as he shouted that, the footage filled with static and shattered.
The warship providing the divine transmission had been destroyed.
Mouri-01 was walking outside.
Her left hand held the shield attached to the extra arm on her shoulder.
Her right hand held the cannon attached to the extra arm on her side.
Both were set up to auto-aim based on where she directed her gaze. The cannon would accurately fire on the enemy warships when she crouched down.
…This is going well.
She shook the knight’s lance at her hip as she left the fiery beach and crossed the coastal road. Her metal feet now trod on the peninsula’s soil.
“I have arrived on land, Princess.”
She knew what she had to report via divine transmission.
“Mouri’s Belle de Marionnette-piloted Lourd de Marionnette company will now liberate the Miura Peninsula.”
“Okay, did you hear that!?”
Terumoto shouted out from the Pension Versailles at the rear of the column.
“We’re gonna liberate the Miura Peninsula!!”
That was the first objective they had aimed for.
They had sent in gods of war via transport ship and lowered those ships to the beach by using the sinking ships as camouflage.
Mouri had only provided the equipment for the Lourd de Marionnettes. The actual machines were Houjou’s. They had always planned on doing it this way, but a lot of Lourd de Marionnettes had gone unused after they settled the Siege of Odawara through negotiation.
…It’s a good thing it was the Mouse-controlled Lourd de Marionnettes that fought Seki!
The Lourd de Marionnette piloting system was built for human use. Since the control system was closely linked to emotions, it was difficult for Belle de Marionnettes to join with them and they could not pull off very accurate movements even when they could.
That was why Belle de Marionnettes would use a conversion device to link their own senses with the Lourd de Marionnette’s. The converter was placed in the cockpit and the Lourd de Marionnette became an extension of the Belle de Marionnette’s body.
The technology used to create Isaac and the other two Musketeers had come in handy. Their senses needed some adjustment afterwards, but the Belle de Marionnettes said it felt a lot like moving around in armor.
The only question had been how to get them to the front line.
“Well done, Murakami Motoyoshi.”
It had taken the sacrifice of many transport ships and warships, but he had successfully disguised the descent of these transport ships.
Their column was definitely fragile, but he had put on a show to hide that fragility and he had used several different tactics to keep them moving forward.
The transport ships loaded with Lourd de Marionnettes had landed within a 50m margin of error of their target location and not one of them had been lost. So…
“Go, Mouri-01 and the rest! Show them what Mouri’s Belle de Marionnettes can do!”
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