Horizon:Volume 7A Chapter 4
Chapter 4: Single-Minded One in the Night Sky
People’s actions are others’ actions
What happens when
You divide them between enemy and ally?
Point Allocation (Cooling Down and Firing Up)
Wakisaka Yasuharu, aka Angie, loved the night sky.
…The best part is how clear the air is.
When she flew above a city during the day, she could smell food cooking and ironworking and ether smoke sometimes affected her schale besen’s flight. And even when she flew above a forest, there was a lot of pollen and dust during the day. That meant flying higher up, but flying at such great altitudes used a lot of fuel. So…
“Testament! Leaving after 10 at night is so great!”
She said that on the outer edge of Paris. She was on the eastern wall.
A festival was underway inside Paris and the victory celebration was reaching its peak.
The streets were filled with light and inundated by music, but unlike a normal festival, there were not that many people dancing in the roads or plazas.
Everyone was cheerful but exhausted.
And as the festivities continued for the Paris residents, others did something else.
Those others were the Hashiba forces.
Wakisaka saw people in M.H.R.R. or P.A. Oda uniforms raise a hand toward the Parisians they were speaking with and then leave the festival stands. People were standing up from the festival fires as well.
“Bye. I guess we’ll be fighting the Thirty Years’ War for real next time, huh?”
“Testament,” replied someone from the Paris side. “It was always supposed to be that way. But the late night is when evil demons come out to play.”
“What, so you’re calling us evil demons?”
“Of course. To Catholics, the people of P.A. Oda are nothing but evil demons and the people of M.H.R.R. are unsophisticated barbarians.”
“You have guts saying that, you kingdom of farmers.”
“Oh, you wanna fight?”
Wakisaka watched from above as those two rolled up their sleeves.
…If this goes anywhere, I guess I’ll stop them.
She could not help but add “with a cannon blast”. And if that led to more conflict, that was someone else’s problem.
But then everyone below suddenly lowered their shoulders and lightly raised their hands.
“Oh, right. We’ve already ended everything here.”
“Yeah. I guess we’ll be fighting the Thirty Years’ War for real next time, huh?”
“It was always supposed to be that way.”
“Wait! We’ve started looping!!”
“Since it was you and not a cute girl who noticed the loop, I think I’ll just stay in the loop and eat a ton of meat.”
“I’d love to do that too, but come on! They’re ready to transport us back to the Azuchi!”
“That’s right,” said Wakisaka while raising her schale besen and looking south.
She saw wildly moving lights in the dark distance there. The transport ships were ready to bring their personnel back to the Azuchi.
Kuro-Take: “Okay, listen up, everyone. We’ll be leaving all the fuel and materials behind. Making a quick departure matters a lot more.”
□□凸: “What’s the matter, Hachisuka-san? Why are you so quiet?”
AnG: “Oh, Shouroku wanted to go to the festival, but the Genbu’s really heavy, right? So she had to leave early to get it loaded on a transport ship.”
□□凸: “Th-then I can bring her something from the festival.”
Llaf: “Then could thou buy me three ginger-flavored pork skewers?”
Kuro-Take: “I’d like some pain d'épices with berry sauce.”
Kimee: “White wine. The finest they have. Angie can get it to me.”
Kiyo-Massive: “Calm down, everyone. You’re troubling Katagiri-kun. …One item per person.”
□□凸: “That doesn’t change anything! Oh, Hachisuka-san, they have a Paris pennant! It shows the Roi-Soleil rising from the eastern sky!”
□□凸: “Th-there are nicer ways to refuse, you know!?”
Why does Kacky always get so worked up describing the situation? wondered Wakisaka.
But Fukushima and Kiyomasa had climbed the stairs onto the wall while she read the divine transmissions. Fukushima had bandages and charms all over her body.
“Wakisaka-dono, thank thee very much for carrying me.”
“Yeah, yeah. I hope you appreciate it.”
“Again with that?” said Kiyomasa with a bitter smile while looking at Wakisaka’s equipment.
The schale besen called Schwarz Fürstin had an extra ether tank attached. It was borrowed from one of the mobile shells loaded on the transport ships, but it allowed her to reach the Sakuma relay ship while flying full speed without refueling.
The device was also loaded with supplies for the Kantou Liberation group.
“This is the wine Yoshiaki-sama asked for earlier. The bill goes to Katagiri-kun.”
“You’re surprisingly merciless, Kiyo-pin.”
At any rate, it was her job to fly out ahead and return to Kantou. However…
“I want to get back ASAP since Kime-chan is waiting, but I really don’t like the sound of doing the Keichou Campaign.”
“No, I would think not.” Kiyomasa’s bitter smile grew. “The Testament says you lose badly in that, doesn’t it?”
Fukushima saw Wakisaka cross her arms and nod with a satisfied smile.
…Not even talk of her upcoming defeat can faze her.
That may have just been her laid back personality.
“I don’t entirely get it myself, but apparently the original Angie pursued the enemy too far, got hit by a counterattack, made a raft, and desperately paddled back. That’s one hell of a survival lifestyle, isn’t it?”
“The original was not called Angie,” pointed out Fukushima.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said while waving a hand dismissively. And, “That apparently made Monkey Girl really mad, but that doesn’t sound so bad.”
She bent her eyes and showed off her teeth in a smile.
“She’s cute and she can’t get too mad if she doesn’t expect anything from me to begin with.”
“Thou are a braver girl than me.”
“That said, if we can use an interpretation, I’d really like to win it. I’m not the type to just accept defeat because you tell me to. I’m like Tres España there,” she said. “If I always choose the more positive and fun option, we can find interpretations to use and I’m sure it will save some people.”
“Is that a different outlook from the rest of you?”
Fukushima considered that question.
When she exchanged a glance with Kiyomasa, the other girl nodded.
Fukushima was confident she was thinking the same. And…
“Kiyo-dono and I – and all of us, I would think – are the same,” she said. “If we do not keep a positive outlook and do not think our actions will lead to a better future, we could not possibly keep going.”
“Fukushiman, you’re making this way too serious.”
…Yes, I am.
Wakisaka saw it that way, so even if she saw it differently herself…
“I will keep that in mind.”
If she ever started taking things so seriously she got lost in her own thoughts, she could recall what Wakisaka had just said.
“My, my, Fukushima-sama. I wish you had been this honest with yourself when you were sparring with me.”
“I have changed my mind on that just a bit.”
Saying that reminded Fukushima of her battle with Danzou.
Her fears and worries had been transformed into illusions. One illusion could be seen as her own indulgence and it had taken a certain form:
…It was Kiyo-dono.
Fukushima thought, Does a part of me want Kiyo-dono to treat me like that?
Kiyomasa realized Fukushima had frozen in place next to her.
While standing entirely still, Fukushima stopped before saying something.
She silently held her breath.
…What is this about?
She had been so badly injured.
And in the city lights positioned somewhat below them, her face looked either feverish or flushed.
“Wh-what is it?”
“Are you coming down with a fever due to your injuries?”
“Yeah, Fukushiman got beat up pretty bad. And once you can finally relax, the fever can suddenly hit you.”
“That’s right,” said Kiyomasa as she tried to get a good look at Fukushima’s face. However…
Fukushima averted her eyes and turned her head to the left.
“Hm?” said Kiyomasa with a tilt of her head. “Let me see your face, Fukushima-sama.”
She bent over and pursued the girl’s face, but…
Fukushima turned to the right this time.
Kiyomasa was unsure what this meant, so she moved her bent-over upper body to the right. And…
Fukushima turned back to the left.
This felt very childish to Kiyomasa. It was like she was trying to avoid being scolded, but it was so very unlike Fukushima.
Kiyomasa was certain the girl was feverish now.
Fukushima was #1 of the Ten Spears and she was their leader. It would cause a number of problems if she could not participate in the Keichou Campaign due to a fever.
Kiyomasa figured that was why she was avoiding further questioning here.
“I understand, Fukushima-sama.”
…Being too responsible can be a problem too.
There was no point in trying to get Fukushima to relax when she felt cornered like this. Although Kiyomasa did wish Fukushima would relax around her and just be honest with herself.
“Please look after your health as best as you can.”
Fukushima probably tried to look at her, but her head was lowered and her eyes directed at the floor.
She was not ignoring Kiyomasa, but she was not looking at her either.
When Kiyomasa called out to her and pursued her, Fukushima ran away.
After repeating the process a few times, Wakisaka spoke up.
“Fukushiman, did you do something you feel guilty about?”
“N-no, I have done nothing like that.”
But she still would not look at Kiyomasa.
Kiyomasa could not stop the “hmm” rising from her throat. After all, she kind of wanted Fukushima to look at her.
She could not call it “just a moment ago” anymore, but Fukushima had swept her off of her feet to rescue her as she fought Henri. She had ended up losing that battle, but she did not regret that result because it led to Fukushima’s recovery and it had provided the excitement of being picked up and carried by the girl.
If Fukushima was injured, she only needed to tell Kiyomasa.
…Then I could help her again.
To try to get her to ask, Kiyomasa placed her hands on Fukushima’s cheeks.
She did so to prevent the girl from avoiding her again.
She smiled bitterly at Fukushima who did not know how to react to this gesture.
“That was a rough battle, wasn’t it?”
Fukushima realized the heat she felt inside came from a multitude of thoughts.
It came from being touched.
It came from being spoken to.
And most of all, it came from the fact that she had worried Kiyomasa.
She was embarrassed.
She had failed to contain her inexplicable confusion within herself. She had completely lost the composure of a warrior and she had revealed how shaken she was inside.
But there had been a temptation inside her earlier.
Her own fears and worries had tempted her during the battle with Katou Danzou. They had told her she could stop fighting and urged her to relax and rest.
They had used Kiyomasa’s form.
That meant Kiyomasa was someone she felt she could relax and rest around.
And what had she done then?
…I accepted my fears and worries.
She had accepted that desire to relax and rest.
She had embraced those worries and fears to contain them inside her.
So if she viewed that illusion in terms of the real world…
…Does it mean I want to hug Kiyomasa-dono?
That was not really a question.
She had only seen that illusion because she wanted to or because the idea appealed to her.
But that presented a problem.
The girl smiling her way did not know what had happened in the illusion.
Fukushima had hugged Kiyomasa, but she did not know if the real girl would accept that.
She could not believe this.
She felt like she had defiled Kiyomasa to achieve self-awareness in that illusion.
The Kiyomasa in front of her here was free to choose who she wanted to be hugged by, but Fukushima had ignored that and had her way with her while safe in her own imagination.
Only now did she realize how troublesome Danzou’s illusions were.
…No, this is not Danzou-dono’s responsibility. It was my indecent action.
But now that she was aware of this, she could not bring herself to look at Kiyomasa.
Everything she saw in front of her was too similar to what she had seen in the illusion.
Kiyomasa was smiling at her while ignorant of what Fukushima had done to her in the illusion.
She fully trusted Fukushima.
And yet Fukushima had defiled her.
What was Fukushima supposed to do?
If she came out and explained what had happened in the illusion, she felt like Kiyomasa would think less of her for it. After all, it seemed unlikely Kiyomasa would want to do something like that and it was too sudden regardless.
And yet Fukushima could not stop her own selfish thoughts.
…What would it feel like to hug Kiyo-dono for real?
Would she feel the same sense of peace and self-realization she had in the illusion?
The girl was at the perfect distance and position for it right this instant.
Fukushima just about started to do it, but…
She instead averted her eyes from Kiyomasa. If their eyes met and she saw her body, she was fairly certain she would do it. And she knew doing that would make a mess of their current relationship.
I really can’t believe this, she thought.
She was happy to have Kiyomasa’s hands on her cheeks, but she also had a different feeling.
She wanted Kiyomasa to stop teasing her like this.
She knew Kiyomasa was only worried and trying to be considerate, but it was only making things worse.
Although if Kiyomasa saw the same thing she did, then she would be willing to accept this touch and every other action that would follow.
But at the moment, it felt more like Kiyomasa was tempting Fukushima to detonate.
She heard a voice, but it did not say she had a fever or was acting weird.
“You must be tired, but keep up the good work, okay?”
Fukushima dragged her thoughts up from the pit of confusion.
Oh, no, she thought while feeling a mental splash of cold water.
There was no point in analyzing and confirming her own thoughts here. Because her thoughts could not reach the real Kiyomasa in front of her now.
And Kiyomasa was being considerate.
That was why she had said “keep up the good work”.
She would not say their work was complete.
Unlike the illusionary Kiyomasa, the real one would not let her stop. She knew their situation did not allow for it.
Their fight was still in progress. They had to get to Kantou in time for the Keichou Campaign.
And Fukushima realized just how cold Kiyomasa’s hands were on her cheeks.
It was a serene chill, but it was very soft.
When those hands were warm, just how much softer and more pleasant would they be?
…No, wait. Kiyomasa-dono might just have cold hands.
She had never asked, but why would she have? But in that case, she could never enjoy the touch of Kiyomasa’s warm hands. Wouldn’t that be a real tragedy? But…
It is true I have realized how I feel, thought Fukushima. I now know how I feel about the person who has been by my side for so long.
She had no experience with this and was hopelessly confused about what those feelings meant, but Kiyomasa had given her an out.
“Yes, I am very tired.”
She still could not look her in the eye, but she did manage to nod.
She wanted to grab Kiyomasa’s hands to put her at ease, but she had no idea how she would respond if Kiyomasa pulled her hands back in surprise.
So she lowered her head to nod, but did not raise it again.
She took a half step forward so Kiyomasa would bend her arms and remove them from her cheeks.
“I am in thy debt for so many different things.”
She was not sure if that was the right thing to say here.
She had thought she had left the fight with Danzou a stronger person, but there was so much she did not know.
And she knew she would realize exactly what she should have said in a few minutes once it was too late.
But this was the best she could manage now.
“I will get some rest ahead of everyone else.”
With that, she did her best to smile and stepped away from Kiyomasa.
She felt certain Kiyomasa was smiling too. She felt a little guilty for imagining that as she made a jump.
She leaped outside the city wall.
She made her way outside Paris to where the battle had been fought and where the Hashiba transport ships were landing.
The few dozen ships would carry everyone to the Azuchi and Fukushima launched herself out to where they waited.
“Um,” said Kiyomasa while watching Fukushima running outside the city wall.
She could see Fukushima avoiding the ditches as she ran into the distance thanks to the glowing blue feather in her hair.
She had no proof, but she felt certain that blue light would protect Fukushima. So…
“She will be fine.”
“Eh? She didn’t seem anything close to ‘fine’ if you ask me.”
“She must be tired. I don’t think she knows how to gather her thoughts after everything that happened.”
“It looked to me like she suddenly realized some mistake she made and was searching for the best way to respond.”
“It did,” agreed Kiyomasa.
Kiyomasa did that sometimes too.
“It was like when you realize ‘oh, I shouldn’t have done that’.”
“When I do things like that, Kime-chan always pretends like it didn’t happen.”
Was Wakisaka telling Kiyomasa to do that here? But…
“I’m pretty open about everything, but it looked like Fukushiman isn’t used to this kind of thing.”
“She will calm down if you give her time.”
“Really?” Wakisaka gave her a thin smile. “Even though you knocked her down so hard?”
“W-we were both careless.”
“I only sparred with her because I knew she could handle it.”
“Then I guess she can handle it.”
“Together, we can handle anything.”
“Even though we just lost?”
“Our opponent was just that good. …That does not mean we could not handle it.”
Kiyomasa viewed the lights of Paris and then turned toward the transport ships lined up in the darkness outside and the lights of the Azuchi floating in the inky distance.
“Or are you saying none of us could handle this?”
“Kiyo-pin, your optimism is way too bright.”
Just as Wakisaka said that, a lernen figur appeared next to her face. It was a countdown until departure.
“Oops, I need to leave soon if I’m going to make it in time.”
“Then you take care of that, Wakisaka-sama. We will do what we can, but this will come down to Musashi’s decision in the end.”
Once she said that, she heard voices from Paris.
A combination of cheering and shock followed something in the sky.
It was a wind. Kiyomasa looked up into the night and saw something flying east at high-speed.
“Swarm Dragon Bernard!”
Wakisaka spoke while viewing the bluish-black dragon already flapping his wings to the east.
“That’s Hexagone Française’s sun nudist for you. He’s already harassing Monkey Girl.”
“I’m not sure you should call it harassing. This seems like the natural thing for Hexagone Française to do now that they’ve announced their entrance into the Thirty Years’ War.”
“Nari Nari will be going there from our group, right?”
Nari Nari Nari: “Testament. If possible, I would like to recover my structural data as quickly as possible.”
6: “Katagiri, link together the processing power of every ship waiting on the Azuchi so they can support Mitsunari. Data stuff is your job and ‘Azuchi’ will have an easier time of it with some human management, so take care of that.”
□□凸: “Testament! I will arrange that immediately! That said, I don’t really know how to manage the physical machinery, so can you take care of that part, ‘Azuchi’-san? I will give you authorization.”
The intellectual types were growing busy just as everyone else was starting to get some rest.
And after seeing all that, Wakisaka took action.
“I think I’ll chase after the Swarm Dragon along the way.”
“That might be a good idea if you can scout out how he moves while he flies.”
Kiyomasa watched Wakisaka straddle Schwarz Fürstin while raising it vertically.
…The world is still in motion.
Summer break was coming up, but they still had work to do.
“I wonder what the Protestants…and those in Kantou are doing right now. Of course, while we lost here, we are still leading the world.”
“When we joined with M.H.R.R., we took control of most of the House of Habsburg, the Catholics, and the Testament Union. And we already controlled P.A. Oda.”
“In that case,” said Kiyomasa. “Will it be Musashi or Hexagone Française that fulfills the work necessary to direct history the way Hexagone Française wants?”
“Either way, you and the others are going to pass by Musashi on your way to Kantou.”
“Testament,” agreed Kiyomasa while she heard the transport ships powering up east of Paris.
The virtual oceans appeared and their lights grew bright.
It was time to go.
Kiyomasa would be joining them to reach the next battlefield.
“I’m going on ahead!”
The Technohexen tore through the air as she took flight.
She was chasing after the dragon, but she first made a quick vertical ascent and vanished into the night sky.
She accelerated too quickly for Kiyomasa’s eyes to keep up, so only the noise lingered before vanishing into the east.
The morning sun would eventually rise from that direction.
Kiyomasa spoke to herself while staring in the direction Wakisaka had gone.
“Is the world going to change or fall stagnant?”
“Now, then. I’m excited to see what Musashi will do.”
The southerly night wind carried a voice.
It blew across a Mouri diplomatic ship moving slowly through the sky. Another voice responded to the first.
“Princess, are you confident Musashi will do something about this?”
“We can figure out afterwards whether or not this is vainglory, Mouri-01. It’s about time I threw out that stuff anyway.”
Terumoto stood with her feet spread to shoulder width as she viewed the Musashi’s massive form up ahead.
“It’s almost summer break, but the world is still moving at breakneck speed. There’s even more energy than when the exams are handed back. This is more like the middle of the exam period itself.”
“Then we need to avoid getting a failing grade, Princess.”
“Testament,” said Terumoto while spreading her arms.
Diplomatic ships from other nations lined up on either side of her as if in response.
Mogami, Date, Uesugi, Houjou (whose national emblem remained unlit since they were approaching their ruin), and more.
This was their largest diplomatic formation yet.
“Hey, Mouri-01. Is it vainglorious to feel like I made all this happen?”
“That is not vainglory. It is hubris. …Princess, if you are going to throw out vainglory, you should make an effort to learn these distinctions.”
“Testament,” she said with a smile and a forceful clap of her hands.
It made a nice sound, so she placed her hands on her hips and stared straight at the giant ship in front of them.
“At any rate, this is the beginning of the end. The Kantou Liberation and settling the outside world. I hope you’re on board with the future Mouri and Hexagone Française want, Musashi.”
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