Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 27

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Chapter 27: Sensor of Corners[edit]

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Gwooooooosh

Squeeeeeal

Grooooooar

Point Allocation (Mental Sound Effects from Noriki Back on the Musashi)


We did it! thought Suzu while breathing a sigh of relief at the comparison between the predicted world ten seconds into the future and the reality ten seconds later.

What they had done was simple enough.

They had put the transport ships into a high-speed drift and controlled that drift.

They had used the artillery shots the enemy had fired on them from above.

The combination of a 5-second delay and the automatons’ calculations had managed to analyze the explosive blasts they produced. From there, they only had to turn the transport ships in the direction of the blasts instead of trying to fight it.

They turned the ships 270 degrees. They began a reverse drift around the corner with the bow turned toward the Choufu Landport. That meant the shots from Choufu came from ahead and below, so they only had to shift the defense barriers forward and down to catch them.

The problem was the different time lag for the turning of each ship.

They had to start their turn at different times, but the shells aimed at their sides would hit very nearly simultaneously.

They handled that by selecting the explosive blasts to use 10 seconds in advance and by altering the speed at which the drift’s understeer began.

The spacing between ships was a bit of a problem, but the slower turning ships poked lightly at the faster turning ships to speed up the turning process. That was a dangerous form of control, but she had given them a warning.

“Sorry.”

Flat Vassal: “Eh!? For what!? For moving to the next hook up on your chest fastener!?”

She poked at the ships.

Her senses showed the poked ships turning faster while everyone onboard either danced or rolled around.

Asama: “W-wait, Adele! Don’t say things that make Suzu-san want to try out dynamic new forms of tsukkomi!”

Wise Sister: “Heh heh heh. But it isn’t often you get to spin on a stage this big! Oh, dear. I’m just like the food on a Chinese restaurant’s table. How cute! I’m a century egg! C’mon, Mitotsudaira! Bring me an appetizer! Hurry! And not wolf brand roast pork or cubed pork! I want a chocolate cornet! You know, those lovely things with chocolate shoved right up the ass! Take a turn in the opposite direction and you have chocolate left up the ass!”

Silver Wolf: “What kind of Chinese restaurant is that!?”

Gold Mar: “The Blue Thunder, probably.”

An automaton on the far right side of the bridge muttered to herself.

“Those lunati-…oh, um, never mind. Over.”

Suzu followed everyone else’s lead in pretending not to hear it. Besides, that was the normal reaction.

But the battle was still in motion. They had survived the shellfire from the Choufu Landport, but…

“Suzu-sama! The extreme high altitude ballistic attack is coming! That includes multiple homing shells!”

“Okay,” said Suzu.

What happened next was crucial, so she slapped both her cheeks once before speaking.

“Everyone…let’s do this!”


Tenzou felt their transport ship end its drift by completing a full rotation.

The 300m transport ship spun around while moving rapidly down the highway.

And it used the surrounding explosive blasts to do so.

This is unbelievable!

He was generally aboard the Musashi when on the receiving end of artillery fire. The size of the ship provided more stability, the blasts were further away, and…

“This ship turns a whole lot faster! Make sure to keep your balance!”

When he raised his voice and warned the others, Kimi smiled at and high-fived the idiot.

“C’mon, foolish brother, let’s spin!”

It looked all the world like she tripped him.

The idiot spun around.

“My,” said Mary in surprise, but Kimi continued to spin her brother around while she too spun. She spread her arms and danced while continuing to catch the idiot with her legs to spin him through a variety of silly poses.

“Here we go!”

The ship began spinning even faster.

The next attack from the warships was arriving from above and up ahead.

But the transport ships were already spinning and could not catch this attack on the front. However…

“Excuse me, Mary-dono!”

“Eh?” said Mary while Tenzou snatched her up in his arms. He picked her up and used the momentum to make a jump.

He jumped straight up. It felt like Mary was sinking down in his arms, but he managed to hold onto her. Then the ether cannon light from the enemy warships arrived in front of them.

It happened just as the transport ship’s drift turned its side forward.

The enemy attack was targeted at the bow, so the drifting turn meant there was nothing in the spot the bow should have been in and the blast erupted just in front of the ship’s side.

They used that blast for something.

“To jump!?”


Naito saw the transport ship hop up exactly like Tenzou said it would.

Those of them with wings had already flown up a bit within the transport ship’s airspace, but now the air pushed up at their feet and backs.

The transport ship had hopped up.

Bell-rin and the automatons are controlling this from Musashino, right?

They had made a great choice there.

The transport ships were originally aerial ships, so there was nothing wrong with having them fly.

But they were not built to make a rapid ascent at high speed as a form of evasive action.

That was why Suzu had used the enemy’s explosions.

“She had the ship drift and then let the blasts ahead of us hit the ship’s side from the bottom.”

The defense barriers were open. Three of them were open on the side, but they were angled down instead of up.

That was meant to guide the coming blasts below the ship.

That lifted the transport ship from the side, starting from the front, and the ship used that pressure to hop upwards.

“Whoa!”

The floor suddenly hit the bottom of Naito’s feet.

She nearly tripped, but Naruze descended behind her, took her hand, and gave it a tug.

“Margot, the ship has a lot of momentum, so be careful!”

This was not an ascent. It was a jump made using an explosion.

And the rotation of the ship had not stopped. Tenzou stepped across the deck while holding Mary, Asama and Mitotsudaira braced themselves, and Kimi spun the Chancellor around while dancing, which was honestly kind of impressive.

But Kimi’s movements were precise.

As the ship rotated and ascended, she made swimming motions while keeping her hands constantly turned in the direction of the ship’s movement. It looked like she was spinning, but she was actually facing the same direction the entire time.

“Heh heh. The world revolves around meeee!!”

As soon as she yelled that, an explosion erupted directly below them.

It was a cannon blast from one of the enemy warships. Their transport ship had jumped straight over it. And not just that one.

All of those were aimed at the surface, so jumping over one means jumping over all of them!

The rest was simple.

The transport ship rode the series of explosions below it to leap ever higher as if climbing a set of stairs. And…

“Here we go!”

Suzu’s voice reached them via divine transmission.

At the same time, the glowing downpour of ballistic shells arrived overhead.

Their homing ability had them clustered in a V-shape and they looked almost within arm’s reach.

Wow!

A hit from these would be no joke, thought Naito as the floor moved below her feet.

Just as Suzu had said, the transport ship began maneuvering through the air for the first time.

It forcibly stopped its own spinning dance.

It landed back on the rising explosive blasts and lifted up its bow.

“Are we making a backflip while continuing forward!?”


Suzu sent the forward-flying transport ship through a flip.

It was a vertical backflip. It made a full 360 degrees while continuing forward.

The forced flip made use of the explosions below, but there was a purpose behind it.

“The homing shells!”

She had learned how this worked during the mock battle against Oriotri while running across the Musashi.

Homing spells were generally divided into two types.

The first recorded an object’s ether reading and followed that.

The second recorded the object’s shape and movements and followed those.

There was a crazy amount of ether flying around on this battlefield, so these shells would never use ether readings. That meant they used kinetic tracking based on shape and movement.

In that case, thought Suzu. Breaking free of their kinetic tracking is as easy as changing the object’s shape.

There was a way of doing that: spin the transport ship toward the shellfire raining down from the heavens.

That meant turning the bow toward the falling shells. That would change the ship’s rod-like shape into a dot.

Then the kinetic tracking would lose sight of the transport ship.

So that was what she did. She spun the transport ships in midair and pointed the bows toward the enemy shells coming from above.

Miss them!

Despite her wish, the enemy shells continue to fall and cluster together.

Would they hit or not?

Would the homing ability fail or not?

The answer had yet to be revealed, so she did not know. She could see 10 seconds into the future, but she still did not know if the spell’s effects would work or not.

But she did not just watch. She refused to simply do nothing. Sitting still was not an option. She had learned that during everything that happened from Mikawa to the Battle of Mikatagahara.

So she provided an instruction.

After making a full rotation, the transport ships were starting to point their bows skyward once more.

She gave one additional instruction to help them survive.

“All ships, ascend!”


Oh?

Kimi saw the color white as she danced and moved her body.

It was mist.

Mist spread out horizontally as if taking a cross section of the ship at the bow.

A virtual sea was forming at the front of the ship to pull up the bow.

Some ether side effects had been appearing around them for a while, but that would be Suzu’s work. She was not just trying to send the transport ship through another rotation.

“Time for a vertical ascent!”

Transport ships were not built for rapid maneuvering.

But the second time the ship rotated to face the heavens, the virtual sea pulled it skyward. Also, the shellfire launched at them exploded at the ground below.

“Oooooonce morrrrrrrre!!”

After standing up vertically, the transport ship was pushed up by the explosive blasts and made a second leap upwards.

This one movement was directed straight up, but due to their previous speed, they actually moved diagonally up.

The ship bounced.

And the momentum sent it soaring right through the gaps in the bombarding downpour of shells.

Suzu has guts.

“We’re passing above the barrage before they can cluster together!”

By reducing the ship’s hittable surface area and allowing the homing spells to adjust, the one quick leap took them right through. Kimi knew this evasion method quite well. Because…

“That was the same as Mitotsudaira’s Flat Chest Evasion!”

“You don’t have to shout!”

After the wolf protested what Kimi had yelled while striking a Y-pose, the idiot sister noticed a change in the view.

She saw the glowing wasteland below and the black heavens above.

After passing through the barrage, the transport ship had arrived in the sky.

The barrage had lost sight of their target, so they collided with each other, triggering an explosive chain reaction. That shook the air and launched a cascade of light into the sky.

The series of roars pushed on the transport ship and Kimi viewed their opponent while the ship soared with the wind.

When looking out ahead of the transport ship, she could see the enemy down below.

While viewing those warships and light warships, she grabbed her brother’s arm and stood him up.

“Heh heh. Fine, then. Let’s show all these warships and light warships what we can do!”

The transport ship’s movement changed as she said that.

It had been standing up vertically, but now it tilted forward and even angled downward as it faced toward the warships. It was moving fast and showed no sign of slowing, like it was traveling downstream.

“Yeah! Let’s get this show started!”


The transport ships rapidly ascended and then charged toward their enemy.

The Hashiba ships quickly responded to those actions.

The warships re-aimed their downward-pointing main cannons upwards.

The light warships in the back had already been aiming up, but now they aimed even further up.

They were targeting the transport ships soaring toward them.

“Do not allow those transport ships to score a direct hit!”

They were still about 12km away.

All of the warships hurriedly backed away to give them room to fire and to prevent the enemy’s charge.

They were not withdrawing. The Hashiba ships backed away calmly to strategically readjust their distance. The tactical commander gave new instructions as the transport ships arrived in the distance.

“Aim their way!” shouted the tactical commander. “Add new data to the kinetic tracking while you re-aim! Fire as much as possible before they enter the great ruins! Light warships in the rear, send them another attack from above!”

“Testament!” they all replied while aiming at the descending transport ships.

The enemy ships were getting closer and their shape had been recorded by the kinetic tracking spells.

“We’ve included multiple patterns this time! We can continue tracking them no matter which direction they turn or what shape they have!”

“Really!? So it’ll work even if they’re shaped like this or like this!?”

“I’m not up to much in the way of acrobatics, but if it’s possible for the human body, then yes!”

The firing control officer ignored the voices asking “Wait, what?” and shouted instead.

“Readyyyy! Fire!”

Their ship shook.

They had launched a volley of artillery fire toward the enemy transport ships.


The Musashi transport ships took a defensive formation while gliding.

The seven ships moved close together.

“This will overlap their defense barrier ranges. Over!” explained “Musashino”.

The defense barriers were packed in together while the ships lowered their bows.

That increased their defenses.

The enemy shells arrived with a time lag of about seven seconds.

Light shattered into sound. The sound of breaking glass continued over and over, but new barriers opened each time.

Explosions pounded on the ships from above and buffering spell sign frames opened.

But Kimi moved atop one of the ships. She swung her arms around as she danced alone.

“I see. I see. I see.”

She spun around, took smooth sliding steps, and moved forward along the deck.

The sound of crashes and collisions repeated ad nauseam, but Kimi only let her hair blow in the wind.

“La…”

She passed through the wind while humming.

Her hair danced in the night breeze, but the pressure of the wind did not reach her. And as she danced near the bow…

“Suzu! Over here!”


Suzu heard Kimi’s voice. And she read the instructions in the girl’s movements.

Incredible…

Suzu could sense Kimi’s dance from here.

And she quickly realized that these movements were more than a mere dance.

Those movements were predicting the shellfire.

It was similar but not quite the same as how Suzu and the automatons were checking the shell trajectories to predict where they would land.

Kimi was giving evasion instructions before the shells were even fired.

“What is this? Over.”

“Musashino” seemed to have noticed as well.

Something happened now that Kimi was directing the transport ships with her movements.

The enemy shells and their explosions stopped hitting the ships.

The barriers were shattering and countless explosions were occurring, but not one of those was breaking for defensive purposes.

The barriers could not keep up with the ships’ evasive actions and some had the misfortune of being hit by the enemy shells.

The ships themselves did not have much speed. They had risen high and were now gliding down toward the Great Kantou Ruins.

That was why they had tried to forcibly use the explosions to accelerate, but…

“Kimi-chan!” said Suzu. “Are you using the barriers!?”


Mitotsudaira saw Kimi spread her wings within the wind.

They were fans.

She opened a feather fan made of ether in each hand. Each one had seven movable feathers and they represented the barriers on either side of the seven ships.

Kimi was already using her spell…no, her “technique” to tell Suzu what evasive actions to use.

The result was clear.

The ships aren’t being hit by anything at all.

There was noise and the air was shaking. There was also a wind that seemed to forcibly wash over everything. But no shells scored direct hits on the defense barriers. Because Kimi was predicting the enemy attacks.

“Is this that thing?” asked Adele. “Y’know, that thing Kimi-san used when fighting the Vice Chancellor at Mikawa.”

“This is not the Summit Dance.”

The Summit Dance was a spell, but what Kimi was using now was not.

These were her combat instincts that formed the foundation of the Summit Dance.

It was a form of harmony.

It was used to predict an audience’s intensity and respond appropriately when on the stage.

“The audience is always sending some kind of action your way. They are a part of the performance in that sense. Kimi is predicting how the audience will respond to her actions.”

When using a theatre ship or a special stage in a nature park, a performer could be dealing with an audience in the thousands or even tens of thousands.

“By being aware of the massive audience and focusing on their responses, Kimi can control the stage. If she simply responded in kind, the audience’s excitement would send her out of control, but she instead controls the audience’s excitement and transforms it into a single giant audience participation event. So…”

So this was the same.

It probably helped that the enemy was mostly fixed in place and had the same gunners continually firing on them. For Kimi, that created a battlefield with a minimal number of unknowns. From there, she only had to read and predict the enemy’s reactions.

When compared to the vast audience at a theatre stage where a lot of adlibbing would be required, the number of gunners here was like the cheers of a small scale concert audience.

So she only had to focus on their actions. And…

It’s just like Kimi to only get started after we “stepped up onto the stage” with that ascent.

The first things she had worked out were the trajectory and timing of the shellfire.

Each cannon took some time to reload and could only turn so far when aiming. She read all of that and incorporated it into her actions.

Then she had the transport ships evade while guiding the pursuing “audience”. All while they moved ever forward. She predicted the enemy’s actions two steps in advance and set things up to lure them in, break free from them, and advance.

Kimi was probably guiding the enemy in the still unseen future.

The enemy would have no idea what was happening. That consternation could be seen in the shells that resumed falling from directly above and the beams of light approaching from straight ahead.

“Yeah!”

But none those attacks could touch the dancer. They only lit her up as she danced and sent sweat flying. And…

Ah.

The ships were beginning some occasional acceleration.

The light was scattering everywhere.

Kimi danced with control sign frames on top of her feather fans and she used those to direct the defense barriers.


“Ehhh?”

Kani heard Asano’s confused voice.

They were on the east side of Edo Bay. They had started a bit further north, but now they were hurrying eastward along the coast on instructions from Konishi, who was in charge of the Bousou Peninsula.

Asano was viewing a lernen figur in a cart pulled by running mechanical horses.

“Did something happen, Asa-chan!?”

“Yeahhh, just look at this.”

Asano tossed over the lernen figur and Kani caught it two steps up onto the canopy.

After sitting next to Asano to view it, she saw footage of the counterattack against the Musashi transport ship taking place in the western sky.

Asano held up a portable snack, a Delectable-Bou – Fruit Flavor.

“Want one?”

“Testament! Thank you!”

Kani took it while looking at the screen. Something had been visible in the center for a while now.

A bird!?

A phoenix was flying through the night sky while scattering light.

No, it was too big to be a bird. Given the scale of the footage, it would have a wingspan of nearly a kilometer. Also, it looked like it was made of several things stacked on top of each other.

Wait, is that what I think it is!?

“Is that the Musashi transport ships and their defense barriers!?”

“Yup, it iiis. We can see it from herrre, but see that exploding light? It’s pretty coooool, but this is what it looks like when you zoom iiin. They’re opening their defense barriers like wiiings to accelerate from the explosions,” explained Asano. “And the thing iiis, they’re coming this way.”


Yoshiyasu saw a change come over the stage.

The transport ships they were riding began to ride atop all the noise in order to slowly move forward.

They were pushed on by the reverberation of explosions, destruction, and…

Song and music!

The flapping defense barriers kept audibly shattering and the dancer controlled those noises like a drumbeat.

“La, la la…la la la, la.”

The movements of her fingers controlled the scattering of the light. The glowing fans in her hands also shattered, but…

“Ha ha.”

She laughed while bathing in that light and spinning it around her like she was wearing it.

And the ships used the explosions to move forward. Giant wings flapped in the sky. The wind always came from the front. Light was everywhere, but the waves of it were all headed toward one point in particular.

They’re targeting that dancer!

Ether cannon beams flew in to the front of the transport ships.

There was no longer any time lag from the sound of them being fired.

But the dancer used even those approaching sounds as a drum section. And…

“————”

She raised her voice.


“It is such a simple, simple thing.”

Kimi sang. She flapped her wings and stroked her own cheeks.

“I rest my head upon your lap.”

She seemed to move her head toward the approaching beams, but she avoided them.

“Will the signal of my gaze reach you or not?”

The wings met the wind and shattered. An explosion pushed on their back.

“Just tell me this isn’t necessary.”

They moved forward. Suzu kept careful control of the seven ships and Kimi spread her wings once more.

“That simple statement would change everything.”

She looked straight up where a downpour of ballistic shells was approaching. She placed them all in her field of vision.

“When I look up, the signals of our gazes intertwine.”

She raised her arms as if to embrace herself and she stepped forward.

“I will not pretend to sleep.”

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She kept her arms raised and spun around.

“Because I know what will happen.”

Immediately, she cast the two wings out into the sky and clapped her hands once.

“I can tell you’ll say something while I sleep.”

She slowly raised her palms toward the sky.


The Hashiba fleet saw wings of light thrown up into the heavens.

The abandoned defense barriers rose like scattering feathers. They hit the downpour of falling ballistic shells and created a spray over a wide area.

The night sky was adorned by an explosion of light that looked a lot like a rupturing waterfall.

But the gasps were not in response to their artillery fire failing to hit.

Just before that glowing mist covered the enemy like an umbrella, they had seen something on one of the enemy transport ships. It was at the bow of the lead ship.

“Was that a firing spell!?”

“Oh, no!” someone yelled. “Close up the main cannon! It’s Musashi’s Eraser Shaman!!”


The warning was too late.

Light flew into the main cannon of the warship just a bit right of center.

An arrow measuring more than a meter had accurately followed the path of a cannon blast back to its source. But instead of showing off its power, it slipped smoothly into the muzzle.

“Abandon ship!!”

A voice reverberated through the ship and alarms blared just before the warship’s main cannon exploded from an ether overload.


“Hit,” muttered Asama while watching a silhouette slanting in the sky far to the east.

That Hashiba warship was spewing yellow glowing smoke after a hit from her arrow.

The ship was not actually sinking. The explosion of the main cannon had triggered a secondary explosion from its internal fuel, but it would survive. The crew was starting to evacuate to nearby ships and the surface, so she had successfully neutralized it.

I meant that as a warning, but it seems to have worked well enough.

A shrine maiden shooting down an enemy ship was a ridiculous thought, so she wanted them to let it descend naturally.

However, they had only avoided the enemy cannon fire thanks to Kimi’s evasive maneuvers.

Silver Wolf: ‘Is that the same thing you did against the Tres Españan light warship back at Mikawa?”

Asama: “No. That time, I used a targeting spell to aim at the front of the enemy’s attack. But this time, I used reverse homing after the enemy’s ether cannon blast had already passed us by.”

Kimi turned toward her while spinning around out front. Then she bent back to look Asama in the eye.

“Heh heh. Well, Asama!? Feeling better now that you’ve sunk a ship!?”

You aren’t helping…

Asama decided to argue her case.

“I didn’t sink it, you now? All I did was take out the enemy’s main cannon as a warning. To be clear, I was never targeting a person.”

Asama closed up her binder skirt while she spoke. She lowered the tail ballast in ballast mode and cancelled the fixed position spell. Then she gestured into the eastern sky with a smile.

“See? All I did was neutralize the enemy ship.”

At that very moment, an explosion erupted in the sky there.


“Eh?”

Asama looked back to see the warship’s deck blown off from an internal explosion. Ether light erupted upwards and the ship finally split in two as it fell.

Everyone watched in awe.

“Incredible, Asama Shrine Representative.”

“That takes a lot of skill, Asama-chi.”

“Big explosion, Asama-sama.”

She did appreciate how excited Tonbo Spare seemed with that last comment.

“Umm,” she began. “N-now, it is true that their ship sank, but that was due to the secondary explosions and such, so it wasn’t my fault. I only destroyed the main cannon and then they, uh, exploded all on their own?”

“Why don’t you sound convinced yourself?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“Heh heh heh. In other words, you don’t need to bother yourself with the destruction because your very presence brings down enemy ships, right!?”

“Why do you have to spin it like that, Kimi!?”

Asama raised her eyebrows while gesturing as if pushing Kimi forward with her palm.

“C’mon, Kimi. Aren’t you guiding the ships? Please continue your dance.”

In truth, she was interested in Kimi’s song. It had sounded all adlibbed, but she must have had a rough draft of the song in the works already.

I’m a little curious where those lyrics were headed!

Kimi’s songs were generally based on her personal life. If she was resting her head upon “your lap”, that “you” had to be him. Which meant…

She “knows what will happen” and that “you’ll say something”. What does it mean?

Asama knew she was only so curious because she had moved in with them. She could not make any excuses to herself about this desire to know more, but she did come up with an excuse for everyone else.

“Y-you have to continue the song, right? So keep going to protect our ships!”

Just as she hurried Kimi along, Toori looked back while using a sign frame to fine tune his sister’s audio spell.

“Huh? Sis, is there more to that song?”

“Eh? What do you mean, Toori-kun?”

Since Mitotsudaira turned around in sync with Asama, she must have been curious too.

He responded by nodding and sticking his little finger in his right ear.

“Sis came up with that song while having me clean her ears. That’s a monthly thing and she’s so ticklish she ends up wriggling around like a cat, but that time, she sat up and shouted ‘eureka!’, so I nearly stabbed her in the ear.”

“Kimi, what do you make my king do!?”

“Heh heh. The opening came to me while he was doing my right ear and I thought I could come up with the rest when he did my left ear, but it wasn’t quite enough.”

“I see,” said Asama as she looked to the others.

The look in their eyes said “you ask her”, so she decided to do so.

“Um, Kimi? Does that mean the song is over?”

“Judge, it does. Is that a problem?”

“Then what about the evasive maneuvers for the ships?”

Still smiling, Kimi grabbed the air to her left between her hands and then threw it to the right.

“All – done.”

“Waaaaaaahhh!!”

Everyone made a mad dash for the rear of the ship.

“Enemy attacks incoming!”


“Damn!” someone cursed on the Hashiba divine network. “I didn’t expect Musashi’s Genocide Archer to sink one of our ships by blowing up the cannon with a reverse homing spell!”

“I-I’ve heard of her! If you defy Musashi’s shrine, their divine punishments shove stuff up your ass!”

“Eh!? Ah, waaahh! I-I wasn’t firing on you! I wasn’t doing any defying!!”

“Silence, all of you!” shouted the strategic commander in the command center full of lernen figurs. “All that about having things shoved up your ass is just superstition!”

“But commander! There were rumors of a thread on Musashi’s divine network called The Fate of a Loser’s Butt: Udon!”

“Rumors are just rumors! That couldn’t possibly be…no, I refuse to believe it…”

“Y-you just considered it for a second, didn’t you!? And I didn’t miss how far your tone dropped at the end there!”

“Just get back to firing!” shouted the commander while punching a lernen figur. “The enemy is right there! So fire!”

However, he could not continue speaking for long.

The lernen figur displaying the enemy transport ships showed them taking an unexpected action.

“Huh?”

The sensor officer saw it first, but everyone else was not far behind.

The transport ships had maintained their momentum with their bows aimed this way, but…

“They’re rapidly descending from their glide!!”

“Was their ascent just a feint meant to put us on our guard!?”

No one could answer that question as the transport ships descended, leaving the bright explosions and raining light behind. They were following a straight line down.


Mar-Ga: “We were really just running away in a panic, but I bet the enemy will read too much into it.”

Uqui: “Yes, like Neshinbara always does.”

Novice: “Ha ha ha. Don’t be ridiculous. I never read too much into anything.”

Gold Mar: “Is he going to his grave without ever doubting all that nonsense he says?”

Four Eyes: “Hm, that was quite the indirect way of confessing.”

Laborer: “I’m not sure that-…eh sure, why not?”

Novice: “Noriki-kun! I feel like you’ve really lowered the bar recently! And it might be nice getting to sit at home while on standby, but wipe that weirdly refreshing smile from your face! Please!”


“The enemy ships are accelerating! They’re headed for the Great Kantou Ruins!”

“Damn,” groaned a voice in Hashiba’s North Edo Command Center.

The Great Kantou Ruins were a forest of tall structures. Once the enemy flew into there, they would be difficult to see from above. And…

“This is a message to Hashiba’s North Edo Commander!”

A staticky voice arrived via divine transmission.

“This is the Musashi Vice President with a warning for Hashiba!”


Masazumi saw a forest of giant shapes ahead of their descent.

That was the Great Kantou Ruins.

This was her first time seeing them.

A vast city of steel beams and other long-lasting materials covered her field of vision from one side to the other.

These giant buildings had been built long ago during the Age of the Gods.

She opened her mouth before that grand sight.

“We are entering the Great Kantou Ruins which will eventually belong to Matsudaira as a part of Edo!”

However…

“Due to the value and contents of the materials found here, preservation of the ruins is guaranteed by a pact formed between every nation! After all, you can supposedly find plenty of legend-class porn games and manga here! So any hostile action that will harm the great ruins is banned by the Testament Union!”

She swung her right hand.

“So you are not allowed to fire on the ruins from the outside, Hashiba! Keep that in mind as you continue this battle!”

With that said, Masazumi closed the sign frame, clapped her hands, and relaxed her shoulders.

“Now, that should buy us some time.”

“Seijun? Is that true? About the legend-class stuff I mean.”

“You’re focused on that!? Anyway, pretty much everything I said is true.”

The Date Vice Chancellor nodded at that.

“Judge. ‘Pretty much’ is a good way of putting it. They are allowed to attack if they have confirmed someone is inside the ruins and they take measures to not destroy the ruins in the process. Meanwhile, we can’t fire on them from inside the ruins because that would count as using the ruins as a shield. We need to think of a way to fight back while inside the ruins.”

“Most likely, the enemy will gather near the exit to lie in wait,” said Tenzou.

“Judge,” replied Masazumi. “Stay alert and prepare to fight back.”

She focused her ears while the wind washed over her.

Has the bombardment from above stopped?

The rows of tall structures functioned as a ceiling for the ruins and they had already matched their altitude to that. The ruins would shield them from any cannon fire now.

“This is the opening phase of our journey though the ruins.”

So…

“Now we see how long the enemy’s carelessness will last.”

Just as Masazumi said that, the color red appeared in the night sky.

The enemy warships were now overhead and one ship to the left of center had erupted in flames.


No one inside Hashiba’s North Edo Command Center understood what had happened.

The enemy had descended already, yet the attack that sunk their ship had come from somewhere else.

“It was a horizontal shot!?”

How? they wondered. Had an enemy homing shot circled around to attack them?

There had been no sign of any new enemies, and yet…

“It’s a transport ship!”

A voice reached them from the west.

It came from Ikeda’s unit repairing and inspecting the Shirasagi Castle. Ikeda Terumasa contacted them to explain. But what he said should not have been possible.

“A transport ship fired on you after staying up in the air!”