Horizon:Volume 7A Chapter 7

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Chapter 7: Off Duty Ones at the Workplace[edit]

Horizon7-A237.jpg

Work-life balance is important

So

Point Allocation (Play)


“Delay the Keichou Campaign until Masamune arrives and the Siege of Odawara can officially end?”

He really knows how to get to the point, thought Narumi.

The Musashi group had been physically fighting each other and she could tell the sign frame tackles were accumulating, but…

What do we do about this?

“Ootani Yoshitsugu. This sounds like a pain, so I have a suggestion.”

“What might that be?”

“Judge,” replied Narumi.

She made what felt like a perfectly natural suggestion.

“Could we get around that by beating you up?”


Gold Mar: “Is Narumin kinda mad?”

Uqui: “That was wonderfully direct and to the point, Narumi.”

Vice President: “Hold on. I didn’t see this coming.”


Narumi called out to the cartoonish figure on the screen.

“What will you do?”

“What do you mean?”

“This sounds like a pain, so it would be a lot easier if we handled the negotiations with a duel.”

Caretaker: “Narumi-sama, I think you should try harder to keep your thoughts hidden.”

Unturning: “I am prepared to take responsibility for my thoughts.”

“Now,” said Narumi while looking up into the sky instead of at the sign frame. “What will you do?”

“We do not accept that the history recreation can be bypassed by using the outcome of a duel in place of negotiations.”

“So you’re going to run away?” she asked with a slight tilt of her head. “What a loser.”


Hori-ko: “Splendid job, Narumi-sama. It would seem this was the time to be aggressive.”

Azuma: “Wow, that’s incredible! You actually found a way to pick a fight with him!”

Vice President: “…”

Silver Wolf: “Masazumi! Positive! Stay positive! We need to keep a positive outlook, okay!?”


“Wait! Don’t assume you can provoke me into a fight!”

Narumi did not direct her attention toward the voice coming from below. She kept her eyes overhead. She knew his visual recording spell was there, so she knew how to look him right in the eye.

So she kept her eyes on him as she spoke.

“So you say,” she said. “But all this bluster is just a way of hiding your weakness.”

“I will interpret that as an affront to my honor.”

“But it’s true you aren’t very strong.”

“My position and our policy prevent me from fighting now.” Ootani held his head high on the screen. “But I will make you eat those words one day.”

Just as he said that, an animal paw entered the screen from the right and swatted him away.

It was a feline right hook.


“Hey, stop that. Ootani is trying to work, so don’t play with him. Oh, c’mon.”

“P-please wait! Yoshiaki-sama, what is that cat doing here!? Ow ow ow ow ow!”

Yoshiaki nodded and spoke to Ootani as he was pummeled by the cat.

“He grew attached to me in Shimoda. He didn’t seem to be anyone’s pet and they say cats act as a ship’s guardian deity.”

Ootani was deteriorating as she spoke, but when she reached toward the cat…

“…!”

The cat picked Ootani up in his mouth and ran away from her. She lowered the ends of her eyebrows at that.

“Ootani, looks like he likes you.”

“He does not like me! He thinks I am his prey just like a cicada or a mouse!”

“Oh, excuse me, Big Katou! Mind if I help out!?”

Kani approached from the side and picked up one of Yoshiaki’s feathers that had fallen to the deck.

“Here, kitty! Over here!”

Kani got down on all fours and waved the feather in front of the cat. And instead of waving the end, she used a flicking motion. It did not take long for the cat to let go of Ootani.

“Oh, he’s coming to you. Kani, you know how to deal with cats, don’t you?”

“My family home is next to the market, so you’d be in a lot of trouble if you didn’t know how to handle cats!”

Kani scooped up the cat in her arms and Yoshiaki rubbed her head. The girl narrowed her eyes but also stood tall.

“If you’re ever having trouble with cats, just leave it to me! It’s my specialty!”

Yoshiaki looked down to see Ootani prostrating himself at Kani’s feet. But now was not the time for that. She sighed and gave a push on Kani’s back as the girl entered bashful mode.

“Ootani, get back to work.”


“Anyway, let us get back on topic, Date Vice Chancellor!”

“Judge.” Narumi nodded. “Were you playing with a cat?”

“The cat is irrelevant to this discussion!”

Everyone responded to that with an “eh?”

“He shows off how much fun he’s having and then says it’s irrelevant?” said Terumoto.

And from the Musashi group…

“What’s wrong with him?” asked Naruze. “It looked to me like he was asking for it.”

“If so, should we not release the images of him playing with the cat?” asked Tenzou.

“Probably not,” agreed Adele. “If you ask me, a dog lover would be more honest about how they feel.”

“Heh heh heh. What about with wolves?” asked Kimi. “Hey, Mitotsudaira! Don’t you wish you had been as aggressive as your mom?”

“C-can you not use the past tense there!?” protested Mitotsudaira. “It’s an insult!”

“I-I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m just going to assume it is an affront to my honor!” cut in Ootani.

“You’re wrong there,” said Narumi. “This is how it always is with Musashi. Do you know what that means?”

“No.”

“You don’t?” she asked. “It means the whole world will be like this if Musashi takes over.”


Asama: “Sorry. That was a little too much of a shock even for me.”

Scarred: “Um, what does this mean?”

Gold Mar: “If the Chancellor conquers the world, then the entire world will be watching over you and Tenzou and cheering the two of you on.”

Scarred: “My!”

'10ZO: “I-I have a feeling it won’t quite turn out that way!”

Vice President: “…”

Mar-Ga: “Look at her. You can tell she never thought this through before.”

Vice President: “How can you people take this in stride?”


Ootani trembled.

This is dangerous!

They lived in the Warring States period, but once history shifted in Matsudaira’s favor, the Edo period and its warrior culture would begin.

The Testament did talk about Hashiba’s defeat followed by Matsudaira’s rise. The real question was how much they could resist it before it happened.

But once the coming age arrived…

“Are you saying you will create a world in which people are constantly sent flying, framed by wicked plots, and scorned!?” Ootani pointed at the lernen figur and shouted. “We are fighting for our vision for the world, so you need to have your own clear vision for the world when you face us! Got that!?”

“Wait,” said the Date Vice Chancellor. “So you say we should face each other with our own clear visions for the world?”

“Exactly!”

“Then.” She took a breath. “I can only assume you oppose Hashiba’s involvement in Date’s role in the Siege of Odawara. After all, Date and Hashiba have not shared a clear vision there.”


“Wait!”

Narumi looked back when she heard Ootani’s words.

“Are you ready to do this?” she asked.

“Are you trying to quibble your way into safety for Date!?”

“No. Which is why I asked if you are ready to do this,” she said. “If you take issue with what Date is doing, Date is prepared to battle Hashiba at any time. It is those very preparations that give Masamune a need to apologize for the late arrival and go visit Kyou. So what do you hope to accomplish by provoking me?”

Narumi looked around.

She turned her body southeast and looked far into the distance.

“Date is not looking for a way to protect itself. Even if we reproduce the late arrival, send Masamune to Kyou to apologize, and have her used as a hostage to stop us, the Seiryu has already decided who it will protect and those who serve Masamune are willing to die for her. They would tear down Kyou from within if it would make up for Kojirou’s mistaken thoughts. However…”

However…

“Kojirou and Komahime left with happiness in their hearts. So we will spare you this time, Ootani Yoshitsugu.”

“Then what do you suggest?”

“If you insist on a recreation of the late arrival, we will give it to you. But you might not like the method we use.”

Narumi narrowed her eyes while viewing Hashiba’s Odawara fleet traveling east and the fleet in Edo beyond that.

“We will make sure arrive late when ‘joining the Hashiba forces in Kantou’. And we will do so with a rapid attack from the north. They should arrive in four hours’ time. And that Date attack will be the late arrival. We will be able to start the Keichou Campaign immediately afterwards. Lovely, isn’t it?”

She took a breath and spoke to someone else when she opened her mouth again.

“Rusu-san, do you know the formation of Hashiba’s Kantou fleet?”

“Testament. I can see most everything, including predictions of what they will do next.”

“What would be the most effective way to attack them?”

“I will send out the Aoba Castle. …Or the entire fleet if Hashiba insists.”

“You can’t say it like that,” warned Narumi. “Say you are sending out Masamune in burial garb.”


Yoshiyasu gasped at what Narumi said.

This girl.

She had changed a lot.

As Masamune’s aide, she had never strayed from her duty of guarding and protecting Masamune.

But this Date Narumi was different. She now trusted in Masamune’s strength and used her words to prepare a battlefield for Masamune.

Masamune changed and Narumi changed along with her.

Masamune no longer feared her own power and Narumi had been freed.

Narumi now viewed Masamune as the clan leader and someone with great strength. She was someone who could make decisions and take responsibility for anything that was left with her.

If some dragon food was tossed to her, she would choose the choicest morsels and devour them. And now that Narumi had left Date, her job was to search for the food that only she could reach but would benefit Date.

That had to be how Narumi felt she could repay her clan for letting her leave and have her freedom.

Honestly, thought Yoshiyasu.

In the past, she had met Masamune and the others from Date during festivals focused on the European groups and other events. They had not exactly been friends, but she had spoken with her.

And based on that, she could tell Masamune was moving ever higher.

One must never grow complacent. Yes, that was best. You had to stay focused.

Gold Mar: “Hey, Narumin is clearly pissed, but how do we calm her down?”

Novice: “I think it would be neat to just let the world collapse!”

Uqui: “At this point, Narumi can still be calmed down with words. No weapons will be necessary if we act now.”

Flat Vassal: “So how did the 2nd Special Duty Officer persuade her to stop at Date?”

Bell: “They hit each other, he grabbed her boobs, um, he gave her some panties, they hit each other with hammers, everything blew up…and it all got better?”

10ZO: “If that’s the best explanation Suzu-dono can give, it must have been an absolute disaster.”

Did none of them know how to stay focused? But…

“Wait, Date Vice Chancellor.”

Someone spoke up, It was the Musashi Vice President.

She raised her right hand and then spoke to Ootani.

“You two are parallel. In other words, at an impasse. So I would like to provide help as an outside mediator.”


Masazumi took a step forward.

The Date Vice Chancellor turned to look at her. And the look on her face was…

The same as always.

Naito had said she was pissed, but Masazumi felt it was more accurate to say she reacted differently depending on the problem she was addressing.

At the Vice Chancellor level, it was possible to choose battle as an option even while entirely calm. Futayo did that a lot, so Masazumi was familiar with it.

“Date Vice Chancellor,” called out Masazumi. “I appreciate the swift decision since we can’t afford to have our actions restricted between battles like this, but I have no intention of wasting Date’s forces and future. Besides…”

Besides…

“Look how calm you are. You shouldn’t go to war at the drop of a hat.”

When she said that, all the national representatives and the Date Vice Chancellor looked behind her.

“Eh?”

Masazumi turned around to see Horizon pointing her palms down and then raising them.

“Three, two, one.”

Then everyone pointed at her.

“You’re one to talk!!!”


Vice President: “What!? When have I ever gone to war at the drop of a hat!?”

Mar-Ga: “Someone! Anyone! Call a brain doctor!”

Tachibana Wife: “Do you have any of those on the Musashi? If not, it would explain a lot.”

Tonbokiri: “Judge. Some people here do a lot of very strange things.”

Tachibana Husband: “Ha ha ha. Gin? Why not spar with me instead of punching the wall like that?”


They’re all so rude, thought Masazumi while raising her eyebrows and crossing her arms.

“Just to be clear to the other nations, Musashi acts as independent Far Eastern territory and its actions are meant to further the causes of peace and stability. And after some conflicts with other academies, we have won-…”

She counted up the number of victories in her head. And…

“Hm, this isn’t the time to discuss that. Forget I said anything.”

“Don’t try to deny it!” they all shouted.

She held up both hands to stop them and faced forward.

“Hold on. …Listen, Date and Hashiba. If you recreate the late arrival now, I believe neither of you would like the result.”

“I don’t mind,” replied Narumi.

“If you simply ‘won’t mind’, then you have no reason to insist on it happening, right?”

After some thought, Narumi looked up into the sky.

“I suppose so.” She lowered her head again and nodded toward Masazumi. “You handle it. So I don’t have to mess with it.”

“Judge. I appreciate it. Now, Hashiba…Ootani.”

“Testament, what is your suggestion?”

“Judge,” said Masazumi again before stating her thoughts. “We will have Masamune’s late arrival done, but we will let Date choose the method and have it be a standalone history recreation. And we will not set a deadline.”


“The Musashi Vice President is here to strike a balance,” muttered Katou Yoshiaki in the sky with the Musashi visible to the west.

The cat sat on the cannon pedestal next to her and Kani had put herself at eye level with the cat. She used a feather to play with the cat while turning to look at Yoshiaki.

“Strike a balance!? What does that mean!?”

“By making Masamune’s late arrival a standalone Date history recreation, she has separated Date from the Siege of Odawara discussion. Since all the other groups have completed the Siege, nothing else will stand in the Keichou Campaign’s way.”

However…

“By making it a standalone Date history recreation, Date can no longer ‘join the Hashiba forces’ with an attack like the Date Vice Chancellor suggested earlier. They can only arrive late in the normal way. Then Masamune will be summoned to Kyou, triggering the second apology. Do you know what that means for Date?”

Kani wrinkled her brow at that.

“Hmm,” she groaned while staring meaninglessly toward Date territory, but then she looked back at Yoshiaki again. “Date can’t participate in the Keichou Campaign today!”

“More accurately, they can’t participate in any battles until their late arrival is complete. That probably means until Kyoto is safe. I wonder if this means the Musashi Vice President doesn’t want Date to do anything until the Honnouji Incident is over.”

“But isn’t that in…in…inexpedient for Date!?”

“Well done finding the word. But is that how it seems to you?”

“Testament! If they fight in the Keichou Campaign they can show Kantou, Oushuu, and the neighboring areas just how much butt they kick!”

“You mean it gives them influence.”

“Yes, that!”

“In that case,” began Yoshiaki. She also approached the cat and raised her main wing for him to see. She closed the feathers to keep any air out so it would not lift her from the deck. The cat responded to the wing’s movement by raising and turning his head. When she made a feint to the right and pulled it back, the cat got up but then crouched back down.

He may have thought she was hiding something big and fluffy behind her back.

While playing with him like that, she patted him and continued speaking.

“The Musashi Vice President has given Date an important role to play.”

“What is it!?”

“The intermediary between Kantou and Oushuu. …Think about it. Date doesn’t have to start summer break while recreating the late arrival.”

Which meant…

“While Date is recreating the late arrival, Kantou, Oushuu, and the related nations can more easily reopen their own history recreations via Date. And for anything that can only be resolved with a history recreation – such as anything left over from the Siege of Odawara or the Keichou Campaign – can be dealt with by involving Date.”

“Isn’t that cheating!? They’re abusing the history recreation!”

“Yes, if you did that under normal circumstances, the Testament Union would say you were gathering power through abuse of the history recreation and the other nations might use that ruling as an excuse to attack you.”

However…

“We were the ones that demanded they recreate the late arrival. We effectively are the Testament Union now and we asked Date to do this, so we would have a hard time finding fault with their actions.”

Of course, Musashi had said Date’s late arrival would be an independent history recreation. So it would be a problem if they tried to include other nations partway through.

But responsibility would fall on Date and the other nation.

Besides, P.A. Oda would be busy with the Honnouji Incident and preparing for and executing other matters.

Even if Date involved other nations in small, independent-level history recreations, they would not have the spare forces needed to stop them and accuse them each time.

“Date might be shut out of the Keichou Campaign, but they can still act as the glue between Europe and the Kantou nations. Musashi probably sees that intermediary role as a way of making up for canceling out Date’s victory with a mere prostration.”

With a “now then”, Yoshiaki turned to look at something else.

Ootani stood on the deck with his head hanging and his shoulders drooping.

“Ootani.”

“Sorry. I never imagined it would turn out like this.”

“It’s fine. And we were the ones who chose you as a negotiator. You might be an id-…no, I can’t call you an idiot…but we were the ones who chose you. Now, the end result here is that Date gains their freedom and independence, but they can no longer fight against us. You did well for an id-…no, I can’t say you did well for an idiot.”

“You’re still saying it! You’re still saying it over and over again!”

“Well, not like it matters. …This prevents Date from fully participating in the Keichou Campaign.”

With that, Yoshiaki looked down, reached for the cat, and picked him up.

“This could have gone better, but we reduced the enemy’s power. You did well. So…”

She placed the cat in front of Ootani.

“You can play with him.”


For a while, Masazumi heard a wild mixture of screams and meows from outside the blank screen’s frame.

What are they doing?

Hori-ko: “Is this a sinister enemy plot to leave us with no time to rest?”

10ZO: “Wouldn’t that leave them with no time to rest either?”

A few seconds later, the color gold appeared on the screen.

There were 6 gold wings and hair of the same color.

The girl wore an M.H.R.R. summer uniform and she nodded once before looking to Masazumi.

“I am Katou Yoshiaki of M.H.R.R. Hashiba. Ootani is taking a break, so I will negotiate in his place.”


Katou Yoshiaki.

Masazumi heard everyone stir when that name was given.

Were they raising their guard against an enemy?

They’re all ready to fight.

Looking past the Kantou Liberation, they would also face this opponent in their longer war against Hashiba.

Masazumi understood why everyone was so cautious here, so she looked back at them.

“Everyone.”

And they all formed a quick scrum.

“So it was losing to her that left Heidi-dono with udon coming from her butt.”

“I believe so, yes.”

“Y’know, the divine punishments are under my authority, but it’s still pretty scary.”

Mar-Ga: “Where are Heidi and Shirojiro anyway?”

“Running around trying to find some way to raise the money they need before dawn.”

“Sounds about right,” muttered Masazumi. “Wait, why is that where your impression of her comes from!?”

“Well, it’s kinda hard for us to join this conversation,” said the idiot. “It’s about losing during that Ho-Joe battle, right?”

“More or less. But if this is going to follow the history recreation, we know how it will go.”

“True enough,” said Yoshiaki without trying to hide the sigh in her voice.

When Masazumi looked back toward her, she saw a short-haired girl behind Yoshiaki. The girl was holding Ootani up in both hands, laughing, and running away. There must have been something on the floor they were playing with. Yoshiaki continued speaking with that going on in the background.

“Houjou will break apart and we have already received Ujinao’s request to retire her inherited name. Same for their other representatives and officers. Which means…”

Yoshiaki opened a Magie Figur and read some information from it.

“Houjou Genan? The Testament Union’s demand for Houjou is to actively complete every last part of the Siege of Odawara.”

“Hm, that seems light as far as these decisions go.”

“If a nation as large as Houjou is collapsing, we would like it to occur as calmly and swiftly as possible.”

Someone responded to Yoshiaki’s words: Yoshiaki. Mogami Yoshiaki, that is.

She flipped her fan around and caught it again while it was pointing straight up.

“What are you after with that light decision?”

“Could any decision be lighter than overlooking Mogami in this situation?”

“How about overlooking Musashi?”

The fox gave a bitter “ko ko” of laughter.

Then she opened the fan, held it up to her mouth, and closed it once more.

“Telling Houjou to actively complete every last part of the Siege of Odawara makes it sound like you’re trying to curry their favor.”

“It does,” added Narumi. “With those conditions, Houjou can draw out their collapse to continue with their history recreation until Masamune has completed her late arrival to the Siege of Odawara.”

Masazumi knew what Narumi was trying to say and what Mogami Yoshiaki had hinted at.

Is Hashiba giving Houjou time to secure their rights in the very end?

Novice: “Hashiba’s suggestion is very interesting. I mean, Houjou can’t send any of their forces to the Keichou Campaign while their collapse continues. The Testament says their forces joined Matsudaira after their collapse, but since the Siege of Odawara is not entirely complete, they can’t do that yet.”

Righteousness: “Does that mean both Date and Houjou can’t participate in the Kantou Liberation?”

Me: “What happens then?”

Still Got It: “Nate! Hurry! C’mon! Raise your hand! Now!”

Silver Wolf: “What is this, bring your parent to class day!?”

But the wolf cleared her throat.

Silver Wolf: “If Date and Houjou do not participate, it will create two problems besides the simple difference in fighting force.”

Namely…

Silver Wolf: “First, there will be a supply problem. In Kantou, Houjou is to Edo’s west and Date is to Edo’s north. Even if the Kantou Liberation will be a short battle, a supply line is crucial. But with the nations to the west and north not present, we can only rely on Mogami and Uesugi, but Mogami is a little too far away and Uesugi is much too far.”

Me: “Then what’s the second problem?”

Silver Wolf: “Judge. Houjou is to Edo’s west, so without them, there will be no one to stop Hashiba when they arrive from the west.”

Uqui: “True. But if Houjou did attack Hashiba, it would mean Hashiba had also participated in the Kantou Liberation. Do we really want that?”

Musashi: “Using the Azuchi’s estimated speed based on the previous pursuit, if Houjou does not delay them, the Azuchi can arrive behind the liberation forces around Edo in about 20 minutes after first arriving in Houjou territory. I have determined that would be very dangerous. Over.”

That it would, agreed Mitotsudaira’s mother.

Still Got It: “It’s a tough call. If Houjou could participate, they would have two choices: do not intercept Hashiba and use their forces end the liberation in 20 minutes, or use their forces to intercept Hashiba. But without Houjou, only the former is possible, just without the Houjou forces to help.”

Hori-ko: “Fwee, fwee! Mitotsudaira-sama’s mother! Parents are not allowed to answer questions!”

“Oh, dear,” said the Reine des Garou, but an outside opinion was helpful at times like this.

This means Mouri views this situation the same way we do.

But there was something they needed to check on.

“Houjou.”

Masazumi asked a question of Houjou Representative Genan.

“Will your nation and academy accept Hashiba’s terms?”


Yoshiyasu saw Genan nod.

“Yes, that is probably the best choice for us.”

He indicated the sky behind him.

In the southwest, several lights floated shallowly in the sky above Odawara where they had been fighting half a day before.

“Those are the transport ships carrying Houjou’s people. Most of them were already prepared for this when the Siege of Odawara happened. Prepared to go to some other land or simply prepared to leave.”

“Then, Genan. What are they doing now?”

“They are using the evacuation for the Siege of Odawara as an excuse to leave Odawara.”

Genan opened a sign frame. It displayed a map of the area around Odawara, but it provided more information on elevation and harmonic territories than cities and roads.

“Even if Azuchi is in a hurry to reach Edo, it must resupply on the way lest they arrive in Kantou with no ammunition. I imagine they will do so at Lake Biwa Azuchi and then take a route through north Odawara. But if Houjou intercepted them at Odawara when they did so…” Genan reached for the sign frame and traced his finger across it from left to right. “We would fire on them from the front and both sides while they attempted to take a straight line to the east. The Azuchi would of course place the rest of its fleet around it as a shield, so it would become a fierce battle between that escort fleet and Odawara.”

What would happen then?

“As the Siege of Odawara is not yet officially over, we can evacuate the people, but they cannot move too far away from Houjou Land. If the aerial battle in Odawara grew too large, it would harm our people and damage the city of Odawara.”

“And in the long term, Matsudaira would be losing what they would otherwise get from Houjou land?”

“Precisely, Satomi. …In the long term, it would be best for Houjou to not take action here. It would be better to allow the Azuchi through and remain as reinforcements in case the need arises.”

“Judge,” someone said. It was the Musashi Vice President. “I agree with your suggestion from a long term viewpoint. Houjou is supposed to be Matsudaira’s enemy when it collapses, so do not worry about us and prioritize the safety of your people.”

“Are you sure?”

Genan narrowed his eyes toward the girl.

But she simply nodded and crossed her arms.

“I am. After all…”

Yoshiyasu listened to the answer as intently as Genan did.

“We are looking to the future. Planning to acquire something in the future is our specialty. Houjou has been looking to the past and trying to live in the past, but now you are handing us some power in the future. That means you are one of us.”

So…

“We will grab that outstretched hand in the future, Houjou.”


How childish.

Genan could not keep the bitter smile from his lips.

Children always believed the future belonged to them.

It probably helped that the Testament promised the future to Matsudaira. Of course, he felt certain that future would end at some far off point, but…

“Will you give us the present, Musashi?” asked Genan. “Then we will accept Hashiba’s proposal…and now that the present is ours, we will send our entire past to the bearers of the future.”

And…

“This ends the Siege of Odawara. This ends Houjou. Is that acceptable, Hashiba?”


Katou Yoshiaki viewed her Magie Figur.

Anti-M.H.R.R. divine transmission defenses had been set up from Odawara and across the entire Kantou region. She could only get information through that thanks to the efforts in the P.A. Oda controlled region of eastern Koshinetsu, Sakuma’s cruising supply fleet acting as a relay point, and…

“Ikeda Terumasa’s unit has also made for an excellent relay point.”

“Ah! Ikeda-kun! He’s actually doing his job!?”

Yoshiaki appreciated it. It meant a lot that she had this information and these instructions, especially the mission instruction document created by Hashiba and Takenaka.

Everyone knew Kantou was within Hashiba’s reach.

Transport ships loaded with equipment for relaying and amplifying divine transmissions were being sent to the eastern edge of P.A. Oda territory. They would provide divine transmission backup during the Keichou Campaign, but they would also deter the nearby nations from trying anything.

Hashiba and the others would be rushing in past them soon. No…

Angie’s probably already flying through there.

Yoshiaki was not cut off from her companions. She kept that in mind as she read what the instruction document from Hashiba told her to say.

“Mouri.”

There was something she had to say.

“First, the Testament says Mouri Terumoto stayed behind during the Keichou Campaign due to health problems. Therefore, you are banned from participating in the fighting during the Keichou Campaign.”

“Yeah, testament, testament. We’ve got someone to command our troops, so I can just sit back and watch.”

“Very good,” replied Yoshiaki. And, “The Mouri forces handled the transporting of supplies during the Keichou Campaign, so that is what we will have you do. …In other words, we would like for all of Mouri’s supplies to be handed over to the Edo Hashiba forces.”


Masazumi frowned at what Yoshiaki said.

So she’s reducing our supplies to lay on the pressure.

Novice: “Not bad. Keeping Date and Houjou out of the fight doubled as a way of cutting off our supplies. To then steal Mouri’s supplies means they’re trying to starve us out. It’s a very Hashiba method.”

Four Eyes: “Why would you explain it if you haven’t come up with a solution? Are you just trying to worry everyone?”

Worshiper: “Um, uh, can I say something?”

Ohiroshiki addressed the sudden concerns and questions.

Worshiper: “The Kantou Liberation will be a short-term battle, right? Even if Mouri hands over all their supplies, Musashi’s reserves can cover things for a day or two. If you ask me, they would need at least a week before they could hope to starve us out.”

“Judge,” agreed Masazumi.

Vice President: “I think Ohiroshiki is right.”

Worshiper: “Eh? My assistance is finally being acknowledged!? You’re finally noticing the brilliance of my thoughts which are as shockingly lovely as a little girl!?”

Vice President: “Okay, does anyone disagree?”

Worshiper: “W-wait! Wh-why would you do this!? How could you invite abuse upon my opinion while it trembles like a poor little girl!?”

Gold Mar: “Oh, I’ll abuse it all right. Juuuuudge.”

Vice President: “Judge. Then take it away, Naito.”

“Sure thing,” began Naito.

Gold Mar: “This is based on my experience in the delivery business, okay? It takes at least 3 days for Musashi’s reserves to reach 10 days’ worth…so how long do you think it would take to send a days’ worth to Mouri?”


Naito explained her concern as a deliverer.

Gold Mar: “It takes 3 days, or 72 hours, to transport 10 days’ worth, so that’s 7.2 hours for a day’s worth, right?”

Flat Vassal: “Yeah, and before you can even start on the actual work, you would have to gather transport equipment and personnel and then provide them with instructions. That means adding about 2 hours of preparation on top of that.”

Mar-Ga: “We have to be at a land port to make full use of Musashi’s transport district. Because the hull structure is weakened when the side is fully opened like that.”

Musashi: “Thank you for your concern. When trading with another nation’s ship, it takes time to set up the hub for their transport ships, so that is another unrealistic aspect of that idea. Over.”

I had a feeling.

There simply was not enough time. However…

Me: “Gold Mar.”

Gold Mar: “Eh? What is it, Chancellor?”

“Well,” replied the Chancellor.

Me: “Can’t we just have everyone from Mouri board the Musashi? With descent spells.”


Masazumi saw some lights.

They were on Musashino’s bridge. Lights were coming on all across that bridge-shaped structure.

Asama: “Oh, you thought this through.”

Musashino: “The tentative plan is complete. It would be possible to accept Mouri’s estimated 20,000 fighters onboard. Since we would have to consider the ship and fleet balance, rapid gravitational cruising would not be possible, but that should not be a problem for the localized Kantou Liberation. Over.”

Me: “You can do it? Awesome.”

Musashino: “We can do it. It is no different from taking on a heavy object. And if they descend from above, it should be possible to get 20,000 onboard in 30 minutes to an hour. But to be honest, the balance calculations considering hull strength and movement of personnel would take 5 hours based on-…”

Musashi: “…”

Musashino: “Would take 3 hours.”

Musashi: “…”

Musashino: “W-would take 2 hours.”

Musashi: “I have determined that is fine. Over.”

Naito calmly posted “quite the balance of power they’ve got there” in the divine chat, but was this really okay?

At any rate…

Musashi: “Please assume we can always welcome anyone on board without issue. Over.”

“That’s good to hear,” said Neshinbara. “Of course, this doesn’t mean Hexagone Française will agree to it and we still need their warships’ cannons. But if we send their ships out to attack while their normal fighters reinforce the Musashi’s fighting force, I think we can put together a decent strategy.”

“I see…” said Masazumi while turning to look at the idiot.

It was crazy, but it would still work. But when she looked to the idiot who had provided the idea…

Huh?

For once, the nudist was wearing clothes and the crossdresser was dressed like a boy.

“What’s wrong, Aoi? You’re dressed normally and it’s weirding me out.”

“Wh-what the hell is wrong with you!? I went to so much effort to charm people with my act itself instead of my fashion, and yet you still have to cast as-asp-aspers-…well, you know what I mean!”

While standing next to the idiot, Horizon pulled a teacup out of nowhere, held it in one hand, placed her other hand on her hip, gulped down the tea, and then looked down on him from above.

“What part of your reaction just now was supposed to be funny? Explain it to me.”

“She’s a messenger from hell,” muttered the others and Masazumi could only agree.

But she was curious about the way the idiot had been acting before this reaction.

“Hey, Aoi.”

“What is it, Seijun-kun?”

“You don’t have to act all serious just because no one thought your reaction was funny.”

“Dammiiiiit! Why is life so unfair!? Anyway, what is it?”

“Well, uh, Aoi? You’ve been thinking about something for a while now, haven’t you?”

Asama and Mitotsudaira agreed with that and his sister spoke up.

“Has something been on your mind, foolish brother?”

“Yeah, just a little something,” said Aoi. “Are they going easy on us?”


Masazumi refocused her mind when the idiot pointed that out.

She had been relieved that Hashiba’s demands were all things they could deal with, but she cast aside that relief.

Are we in trouble?

The idiot’s response had contained a nuance of “we can probably get by either way”. They still had strength to spare, but in addition to that…

“Is Hashiba plotting something else with this supply problem?”

If so, thought Masazumi as she hurried onward.

Vice President: “I don’t care who, but can anyone guess why Hashiba’s suggestion just now could be dangerous?”

There was some trick there.

There had to be. That was why it felt like Hashiba was going easy on them.

And if the trick was not an immediate danger, the danger would have to come later. What felt like “going easy” now would become anything but at some point. That was what the idiot feared. So…

Vice President: “Can anyone figure out what Hashiba is thinking?”

Someone responded.

Mar-Ga: “I have something to add to Margot’s opinion concerning the delivery business side of things.”

It was Naruze. She was up on the bridge and she sent them a video.

It showed the Mouri fleet landing at Odawara during the night.

Mar-Ga: “Hashiba’s request comes with another troublesome factor. They’re trying to wear Mouri and us down in Kantou after the battle.”


Naito agreed with Naruze.

It was summer and the Musashi had atmospheric defenses, but when up on the bridge at night, they could get chilled by the night breeze circulating around the Musashi. She and Naruze sat there with an improvised tent over their heads.

Gold Mar: “After losing the Keichou Campaign, I bet Hashiba will go thoroughly burn down Edo and Satomi once more. That will prevent them from having enough food at either location.”

Mar-Ga: “But with Date and Houjou off limits, they won’t be able to get through the recovery period with back-and-forth transportation from the neighboring nations. And Mouri will be handing their reserves over to Hashiba, so those supplies are off the table too. …Musashi will likely be forced to send food to the people of Edo and Satomi after the battle, but that won’t last even a full month. So what happens then?”

Silver Wolf: I can send food from my territory. I have built up decent reserves. If I have it sent directly to Edo and Satomi, the distance shouldn’t be much of an issue. And we can more efficiently distribute the food to individual areas by using the Ariake as a relay point.”

Novice: “But if that happens, Kantou will no longer be a threat to Hashiba.”

Neshinbara cut in.

Novice: “If the reserves in Mitotsudaira-kun’s territory are released, Musashi will no longer own anything in Kantou. And Kantou won’t be able to withstand an attack. Then we won’t have any kind of insurance or backup no matter what we choose to do next.”

Flat Vassal: “Then, um, there are smaller nations in and around Kantou, right? How about we rely on them?”

Vice President: “Mouri came here to show Kantou what they can do and I think they planned to get Houjou’s support in doing so. But what happens if they can’t provide any of their supplies and have to rely on the smaller nations instead?”

Naito groaned in thought.

Gold Mar: “Mouri will be indebted to the Kantou clans, when they wanted it the other way around.”

This is a real pain.

Of course, Hashiba had assembled this pain of a situation. And they had included Date and Houjou as pieces of the puzzle.

Eh?

Just as she realized that something about this felt off, the Chancellor spoke up.

Me: “Gold Mar. I have a question. I said it was like they were going easy on us, right?”

Gold Mar: “Eh? Yeah, you said that, Chancellor.”

“But,” he continued before he and Naito said the exact same thing: “It’s a pain.”

Why was that? Why did it feel like Hashiba was going easy on them while also feeling like a pain? Naito realized the answer.

“Ah.”

“What is it, Margot? Please don’t tell me you caught his idiot germs.”

“Oh, no, well, um.”

Margot shook her head before continuing.

Gold Mar: “Seijun! You should set this issue aside and ask Hashiba if they have any other conditions! And I mean as soon as possible!”


Flat Vassal: “Eh? Set aside an issue and move on to the next condition? Won’t they forcibly give us some awful condition if we do that?”

Scarred: “No, this is to prevent some kind of cumulative effect from the conditions. Right, Lady Naito?”

“Judge!” confirmed Naito.

Gold Mar: “I think Hashiba’s entire negotiation here is a trap! It looks like they’re taking it one negotiation at a time, but I think they’re taking the condition agreed to in the previous negotiation, eliminating it in the next negotiation, and ultimately trapping us somewhere!”


So that’s it! realized Masazumi when Naito’s words gave her thoughts the push they needed.

The idiot had been right. Ever since Katou Yoshiaki had taken over, it felt like Hashiba was going easy on them with their demands.

But that was not because Hashiba’s attacks were actually weak.

They make it look like that to put us at ease while using some kind of trick against us!

First, they had used the late arrival to seal away Date.

Then they had used the late arrival again to seal away Houjou.

And after sealing away both of them, they had placed restrictions on Mouri.

With each one, they were restraining a single nation so the interests involved could be clearly seen.

But altogether, it created a powerful restraint.

Even if the issue with each nation could be solved, it had a cumulative effect on every connected nation.

These conditions ultimately did nothing but harm, so as they built up…

We’re in trouble.

Masazumi had been slow to catch on because the negotiation was separated out between nation.

They had already done Date, Houjou, and Mouri, so next would be…

Righteousness: “Us?”

Vice President: “No, Satomi owns the peninsula, so you’re a necessary part of the Keichou Campaign. And Mogami has already shown their hostility toward Hashiba, so there would be no point in negotiating with them. …So we’re next.”

That’s right, thought Masazumi.

Vice President: “Hashiba’s goal here is to remove Musashi from the Kantou Liberation. If they can do that, Satomi loses their backup.”


The idea of removing Musashi from Kantou caught Mitotsudaira’s attention.

Silver Wolf: “Wait, Masazumi! You said ‘removing’ Musashi from the Kantou Liberation, right? Why that and not restraining or restricting us?”

She received an immediate answer to her question.

Vice President: “Because Hashiba went along with our provocation.”

“In other words,” said Masazumi while tapping her sign frame. Then she addressed Yoshiaki in the sky. “Hashiba, if you have any Keichou Campaign conditions for Musashi outside of the ones between you and Mouri, I would like to hear them.”

You have something, don’t you?

“You have some impossible history recreation, don’t you? Let’s hear it, Hashiba.”

“Testament.”

This reply came not from Ootani or Yoshiaki.

A staticky image appeared on the floor. It displayed…

“Hello. Th-this is Hashiba.”