Horizon:Volume 7A Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Preparers of the New Battlefield
Lan la lan la
La la loo la
Laa laa la la la la?
Point Allocation (Please stop!)
Takenaka was on the Azuchi’s deck as it began to rise.
The ship was currently facing north, but as it rose, it slowly turned right to face east.
There were a lot of people on the spacious deck. The supplies for the coming battle had been placed on the deck and it all had to be tied down.
The inside of the ship was much the same. People were preparing for combat in different ways and some corridors looked more like storerooms now.
Thus, a lot of people used the deck as a corridor. Those from P.A. Oda used spell cloths to whip up the wind and run back and forth along the side of the ship.
Takenaka looked down at them from the edge of the deck, and…
“Ero ero ero ero.”
And from directly below her…
“Waaaah!? The front starboard hull is too dangerous! Stay clear, everyone!”
“Oh, sorry, sorry. I forget to check below me beforehand.”
Those in the way dashed upwind to the bow of the ship and clung to the metal hull there.
“Well, next time make sure you check before ero-ing!”
“To be honest, if I see you beforehand, I end up aiming for you.”
“It’s like a trap from an old video game!” someone shouted. Yeah, pretty much. At any rate, turning the ship while I’m on the bow is a bit much. I really wish they wouldn’t do that.
“Anyway, I see Hashiba-kun has made her first appearance in a long while.”
As a strategist, she really wanted to be by her master’s side at a time like this.
She turned around to see everyone seated around a short figure on the center of the bow deck.
That figure was Hashiba.
Hashiba had several lernen figurs opened by her hands and she was rapidly typing to deal with them all. She was sending strategy instructions to everyone on and in the ship and also paying out the rewards for the battle at Paris.
She did not hand deliver the rewards, but she processed each of them individually and the rewards did reach them all.
The attached signature was an automated one, but when people received it, they held the lernen figur up in the air, forwarded it to their parents, and quietly listened to what Hashiba had to say.
“Umm, I have a message for everyone from Musashi.”
A certain history recreation was beginning separate from the Kantou Liberation they were headed toward.
“In the southern M.H.R.R. city of Nördlingen, th-the M.H.R.R. Catholics will soon hold the history recreation of the B-Battle of Nördlingen!”
Asama did not know what Hashiba meant, so she asked about it.
“Umm, what is the Battle of Nördlingen? And why is she bringing it up out of nowhere?”
Hashiba had suddenly brought up a history recreation.
It was Naruze who responded to Asama’s confusion.
Mar-Ga: “The Battle of Nördlingen is similar to the Sack of Magdeburg in that it acted as a turning point in the Thirty Years’ War.”
Asama thought back to that battle in M.H.R.R.
…The Sack of Magdeburg left the Protestants with no choice but to go to war with the Catholics, right?
Catholic forces had sacked the Protestant city of Magdeburg and that had gathered the previously neutral Protestant principalities and regions into an anti-Catholic force.
So what turning point would come after that?
Asama: “Is it a major victory for the Protestants?”
Gold Mar: “Quite the opposite actually.”
“Eh?” asked Asama.
Naito must have heard her because she clarified.
Gold Mar: “Nördlingen was a rare Protestant city in the southern M.H.R.R. region of Bavaria and it was besieged in what is known as the Battle of Nördlingen. The Imperial Catholics ended up winning like crazy against the Protestants. The Imperials had a pretty bad name for themselves because they’d been doing a bit too much sacking since Magdeburg. Things weren’t looking too good for the Catholics, but this battle ended up encouraging them.”
“That is correct,” said Mitotsudaira.
Silver Wolf: “And after the Battle of Nördlingen encouraged the Imperials, a certain major nation decided to officially join the war.”
That major nation was…
Silver Wolf: “Hexagone Française. The Battle of Nördlingen led them to join the fight and it was also the biggest and final defeat for the Protestants.”
“I knew you’d be sending a disaster our way.”
Terumoto spoke to Hashiba who was displayed on the floor.
Her eyebrows were raised, but she kept the smile on her lips.
“Let’s see if I’ve got this right: If we want to protect the Protestants, we need to head to Nördlingen instead of the Kantou Liberation.”
But there was a problem there.
The Testament did not have Hexagone Française officially fighting in the Battle of Nördlingen. They were allied with the anti-Imperial faction, but they were not present as a major force.
But what would happen if they could not send anyone to fight?
“What do you think, Mouri-01?”
“Testament, a section of M.H.R.R.’s forces will likely attack Nördlingen. Then the Battle of Nördlingen will in fact end in an M.H.R.R. victory.”
Nördlingen was a major city with a close connection to the Far Eastern reservation, so they wanted to avoid a devastating attack there.
“What about the M.H.R.R. Protestants?”
“The Catholics are already on the move, so the Protestants are responding. A Protestant force centered on Tomoe Gozen is expected to arrive in Nördlingen before the battle begins. Of course, the M.H.R.R. Imperial faction has a much greater force.”
“Who will that be?”
“Testament,” replied Mouri-01. “We expect the Shibata forces, who came down from Hokuriku as defenders, and the Niwa forces, who came down from the center.”
Still Got It: “Anyway, that is who the enemy should be sending.”
Mitotsudaira frowned at the information from her mother.
Silver Wolf: “What do they hope to accomplish by sending #1 and #2 of the Five Great Peaks?”
Still Got It: “It’s a good way of showing you how much trouble Nördlingen is in, isn’t it? You could say Hashiba is summoning Musashi to Nördlingen.”
Her mother was very clear about that.
But what did that mean?
Still Got It: “Since Hexagone Française cannot fight in the Battle of Nördlingen, Hashiba is telling them to hire Musashi as a mercenary force instead of having you fight in the Kantou Liberation.”
Silver Wolf: “And that’s how they’re telling Musashi to go to Nördlingen!?”
Still Got It: “Testament, that is how they will remove Musashi from the Kantou Liberation. That is ultimately what Hashiba wanted from interfering in our negotiations here. …Do you understand now, Nate?”
“Judge,” said Mitotsudaira to show she now understood everything.
…Hashiba is trying to use these consecutive negotiations to crush the Kantou Liberation in advance.
This was how Hashiba had set up their negotiation:
“First, they removed Date and Houjou from the battle and then they left Mouri without supplies. But those restrictions could be overcome with help from the Musashi, so now they are sending Musashi to Nördlingen to remove us from the Kantou Liberation. It all falls apart. That is Hashiba’s plan.”
Masazumi had used the word “remove” because she had predicted this. However…
Vice President: “This is more than just removing us. …They’ve made it a lot more complicated.”
Still Got It: “But your prediction was good for being so quick. Although before we left Hexagone Française, we had a few witnesses, did a fair amount of research, and thought up a few different patterns.”
“But,” she said.
Still Got It: “The problem with Nördlingen is its location in southern M.H.R.R. The only Protestant forces that can arrive in a hurry are Tomoe Gozen’s front line unit who were deployed to Magdeburg.”
Silver Wolf: “Um, mother? You can have fun getting us all worked up if you like, but aren’t you forgetting something?”
Still Got It: “Oh? Am I?”
Why is she like this? wondered Mitotsudaira while tapping her divine transmission sign frame.
Silver Wolf: “One of the commanders of the Protestant forces that lose at Nördlingen is named Bernard. That name was inherited via Hexagone Française recently, so he will be headed to Nördlingen, won’t he?”
A silhouette raced through the night.
The figure breaking through the clouds with thruster light trailing behind his tail was a bluish-black dragon.
And far behind him, a black Technohexen soared through the night sky as if in pursuit.
That was Wakisaka.
She pressed her six-winged form against a schale besen seemingly made of black rectangles. She used that to reduce air resistance as much as possible.
“Wow, he really does have the higher top speed in cruising mode.”
Kimee: “Angie, can you hear me?”
“Yeah, there’s a lot of static, though. I can’t actually open a communication Magie Figur, but can you hear me?”
Kimee: “I can. So how are things going?”
“Testament.” Wakisaka looked forward. “I could send you the range data, but I’m currently headed east to southern M.H.R.R. I think I’ll pass 7km south of Nördlingen in 20 minutes. Oh, but that’s my trajectory. I think that Burnyard, or whatever his name is, is headed straight to Nördlingen.”
Kimee: “I can use that data on my map. Can you see to the east?”
She could not.
The south was a forest region, so it was dark at night.
She could vaguely see the borderline between the night sky and dark land up ahead, but…
…I sometimes see the lights of mountain villages.
She could see two things.
They were on the distant horizon.
There were two points of light to north, which was to her left. The two lights were only a short distance apart, but…
…That’s an illusion due to the distance. They’re actually really far apart and the left one is a lot closer to me.
And as she continued east, the two lights grew farther apart and the right one seemed to grow more distant.
She was pretty sure she knew what those lights were.
“The Protestant forces are going to reach Nördlingen first! The Catholic representative is arriving from the northeast…but is that who I think it is? Shibata and Niwa’s warriors?”
Kimee: “Testament. The Shibata Unit and Niwa Unit are headed to Nördlingen. The Niwa Unit is really in the lead here. Mitsunari is headed out to visit them and explain what’s going on.”
“Testament,” she replied just as the Swarm Dragon moved away from her.
He was headed to Nördlingen.
Wakisaka was headed to Kantou.
She slowed her eastern travel as she used a Magie Figur to amplify the brightness as much as possible as she took photos of the Nördlingen region.
She was headed straight east, but she glanced north for just a moment.
“We’re counting on you, Nari Nari!”
“And so we are counting on you, but do not feel too much pressure, Niwa-sama. I, Ishida Mitsunari, am here to greet you and explain the situation, but I have determined Hashiba-sama will send you a divine transmission once she is done negotiating with Kantou.”
“She must be busy,” said Niwa with a bit of a sigh.
She was in a ship’s cafeteria. This was her flagship, the Sawayama Castle, and the cafeteria was plain but clean with pale blue walls and a wooden floor.
“Mitsunari-kun, I know you’re a data entity, so are you fine with this floor?”
“Testament. My primary data is still being repaired, but with a transmitted data entity, that actually means I contain less data.”
“Still, I don’t want you to push yourself. Oh, but this ship will eventually be yours, so do you want to take a look around?”
“Eh? …Oh, um, no thank you. I do not have Hashiba-sama’s permission.”
“You’re such a Hashiba girl, aren’t you?”
Just as Niwa said that, a voice called from the counter.
“Niwa-sama! Your white vomit is ready!”
“We have a guest, so call it a doria.”
“Um, I can get that for you.”
Niwa stopped Mitsunari with a hand and stood up.
The cafeteria had already filled with people. There were no seats reserved for the higher ranks, so it felt a lot like they were surrounded. However…
“Excuse me, everyone. Coming through.”
With those few words, the crowd parted. A direct path to the counter was cleared and a student focused on carrying their food started to cut through there before quickly backing away.
“Don’t worry about it. Filling your stomachs before a battle is important. …You come here too, Mitsunari-kun. A data entity can eat Mouse or Djinn food, right?”
“No, thank you. I do not have Hashiba-sama’s permission.”
“I still outrank Hashiba-kun.”
“You need to loosen up a little.” Niwa smiled as she walked to the counter. “Okay, come with me so we can keep talking. You will be our commander for Nördlingen I assume?”
“Testament. But feel free to treat that as a technicality. I was only just completed and commanding a fluid situation is beyond my current abilities, so please assist me as an aide, Niwa-sama.”
“What do you mean ‘eh’?”
Niwa placed a hand on her forehead.
…Oh, this might mess with my plans.
“I would really prefer to head out there and do whatever I want…”
Mitsunari briefly froze when she heard that. And after a moment, she belatedly jogged to catch back up.
“P-please don’t say that. I need your assistance as an aide.”
“Why are you so afraid?”
Niwa’s forces were honestly pretty much ready to go.
Her warriors were primarily non-officers, but they had gone through extensive training.
After all, the Testament had most of the name inheritors under her command ending up with Hashiba.
So if she gathered a bunch of officers in her forces, she would lose a lot of her name inheritors as time passed and her warriors might even be forcibly disbanded.
An enemy nation could take advantage of that whether Hashiba wanted it or not. And they had to be especially compliant with the Testament when they were working as an M.H.R.R. force since M.H.R.R. had become the Testament Union representatives.
That was risky.
So Niwa had made the decision to send most of her name inheritors to Hashiba to fill out their committees.
She did have a few officers still with her, but…
…I generally move out ahead and have them follow behind me to sweep the battlefield clean.
That method was simple enough for even a rookie commander to use them effectively as long as they could grasp the situation.
There were no prominent heroes here.
They fought using only Niwa’s large-scale destruction spell and everyone else sweeping across the battlefield.
That may have been why Hashiba had prepared the outskirts of Nördlingen as the battlefield. An outdoor location with a good view assisted in that sweep of the battlefield. The map of the terrain showed a single hill, so Niwa knew it would all come down to a fight over that advantageous terrain. However…
“Why are you so worried?”
Mitsunari answered her question while lowering her gaze.
“I failed to produce the desired results in our attack on Paris.”
“You don’t want to command without experiencing a victory?”
“No, it isn’t that…”
A name suddenly occurred to Niwa, so she spoke it to Mitsunari.
“Oh, this is about Bernard.”
Bernard. Mitsunari gave a quick nod in response to that Celestial Dragon’s name.
“Makes sense,” agreed Niwa when she saw that reaction. “The report I saw said he destroyed you and he’ll be coming here. In fact, he’s already on his way.”
“According to the tracking data from Wakisaka-sama, he should have just arrived 4km southwest of Nördlingen.” Mitsunari raised both hands a little. “I thought I could fight at least a little bit, but I failed due to my lack of experience and data. I do not have a physical body and I was not designed for offensive purposes like Ootani-ku-…like Ootani, so not even my attack program was enough against that Swarm Dragon.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll get some lessons about that in time.”
“There is a lot you can learn and come to understand through combat.”
Niwa had stopped walking at some point, but she resumed approaching the counter now. She intertwined her fingers and stretched her hands toward the ceiling.
“Personally, I like the freedom to do what I want.”
“A-again, please don’t do that. I beg you.”
“Freedom is so nice. I can go wherever I want and just blow everything up.”
“In that case.” Niwa arrived at the counter, rested her elbow on it, and pointed into the kitchen. “What would you like to eat?”
“Nothing as I do not have Hashiba-sama’s permission.”
“I didn’t realize programs could be so stubborn.”
“I do not want to introduce any stray thoughts into my mind. Please understand.”
“You inherited this refusal to bend from Hashiba-kun, didn’t you?”
“You mean I’m like her!?”
…Is she happy about that?
Niwa had imagined program data entities were more unemotional than this, but maybe they were more human than automatons.
Like Mitsunari herself had said, she had no body. So unlike an automaton, she had no gravitational control and little physical attack power.
She could quickly travel long distances as long as Hashiba had a divine transmission route set up, but she did not have much going for her as an individual fighter.
Niwa honestly did not know why Hashiba had created her. She could make a pretty good guess, but…
…Well, that’s not for me to say.
She stopped thinking there and accepted a tray of food.
“Suit yourself. Still, we are under your command and plenty of reinforcements are coming, so don’t worry too much.”
“Testament. That just feels like even more pressure…”
What a weird program, thought Niwa on the way back to the table.
“Again, don’t worry. The main Protestant force is probably headed to Nördlingen right now, but Shibata-kun and the others have enough forces to match. And beyond that…”
Niwa smiled at Mitsunari.
“Big battles can be fun even if you lose. …If you make a show of it and enjoy yourself even when you lose, then the god of combat will smile your way. I feel like Musashi understands that pretty well.”
…What kind of battle is this going to be?
Masazumi rearranged Hashiba’s negotiating conditions in her mind.
They had restricted Date, Houjou, and Mouri and now they were demanding Musashi participate in Nördlingen to remove them.
With all that in place, only Mogami, Satomi, and Uesugi could participate in the Kantou Liberation.
But, thought Masazumi. Uesugi’s hands are tied.
Uesugi had to consider their alliance with Hashiba. That was why their participation in the Siege of Odawara had not included any anti-Hashiba actions.
Hashiba was placing restrictions on all the other prospective participants and Uesugi would want to avoid similar restraints.
…Which leaves Mogami, Satomi, and Mouri minus their supplies for the Kantou Liberation.
That was not possible.
The difference in fighting forces was simply too great. And Mouri would gain nothing even if they won. If the other nations had to provide them with supplies, they could not build their reputation among the Kantou clans.
“How about it?” asked Hashiba. “Mouri Terumoto-san, will you send your supplies to the Hashiba forces?”
Azuma: “Um, how do you make a decision at times like this?”
Uqui: “A good question. At times like this, you should consider the issue from a political perspective and make a clear decision about what is right and what is wrong for you and the other nations. So Mouri needs to carefully examine Hashiba’s words and behavior to determine whether she is an elder sister or a younger sister who has an elder sister.”
Flat Vassal: “Someone! Someone please! This is normal for our 2nd Special Duty Officer, so someone call a brain doctor!”
Obscene: “Ha ha ha! So in this case, what would be right and what would be wrong for Mouri!?”
Novice: “Judge, just leave it to me. This could get long, so I hope you’re ready.”
Silver Wolf: “Judge. For Mouri, the Siege of Odawara was part of an ambitious endeavor of theirs that included that battle in Paris. In other words, they have started down the path of European conquerors that will eventually take them into the outside world. Isn’t that right? And with that in mind, the support of the eastern nations while in the outside world is an absolute necessity. So…”
Hori-ko: “Okay, Neshinbara-sama, Mitotsudaira-sama has set the stage for you. If you can make a pointed comment now, you will gain 1 Horizon Point.”
Novice: “Eh!? Um, for their future plans, Mouri needs to get the eastern nations on their side, so…”
Silver Wolf: “So Mouri would normally refuse Hashiba’s demand here. They should either find some excuse to not send the supplies or only send a small amount and weasel out of sending the rest.”
Novice: “Y-yes! Exactly! That’s what they’ll do!”
Mar-Ga: “Margot? Let’s edit the Musashi network so anyone looking up the word ‘pathetic’ will get the definition ‘acting like Neshinbara’.”
Four Eyes: “Why do you love being famous for things like this?”
Novice: “I don’t love it! These things just happen when you live on Musashi!”
Can’t really argue with that, thought Masazumi.
At any rate, Mitotsudaira was right and the best option for Mouri was to either refuse Hashiba’s demand or find a way around it. However…
Vice President: “What happens then? And what do we do if it happens?”
Silver Wolf: “They will have cut off negotiations with Hashiba and that will be taken as a hostile act. The Hashiba forces in Edo might take action, so I think it would be best to make a preemptive strike before that.”
Flat Vassal: “We’re never getting a break if that happens, are we?”
Bell: “Eh? I laid out…everyone’s futons.”
Me: “Hmm, we’d still use those after the battle, so we’d be set as long as you had a bath ready for us, Bell-san.”
Bell: “Okay. I-I’ll do that…if that happens.”
It was looking more likely that the Kantou Liberation would happen right away.
The lack of any rest was painful, but it did have an advantage.
…Mouri’s supplies wouldn’t be necessary and the sooner we start the battle, the longer we have to complete the Kantou Liberation.
But there was still one question remaining.
…What will Mouri actually do?
Terumoto had not reacted in any noticeable way to Hashiba’s tricks.
She had simply gone along with everything.
Did she have an idea, or didn’t she?
However, Mouri could not remain silent on this matter. She would have to react this time. After all, if Hashiba was not stopped here, Mouri could lose their future.
So to prompt a statement, Masazumi spoke to Terumoto.
“What will you do, Mouri Terumoto?”
“Testament, there’s only one response to a ridiculous demand like that.”
Terumoto wrinkled her brow and spoke toward the floor.
“We’ll do what you say. We’ll give you all our supplies and whatever else you want,” said Terumoto. “But you know what? I swear to you we’ll complete the Kantou Liberation, so don’t you cry when it happens, Hashiba.”
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