Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 30
Chapter 30: Searcher for a Destination
Instead of searching for yourself
Instead of testing yourself to learn about yourself
Accept yourself for having been tested
Point Allocation (Self Test)
The originator of my name, Nabeshima Naoshige, is known for overthrowing his lord, thought Nabeshima while fighting.
When people spoke of Nabeshima Naoshige, they described him as someone who essentially ended up hijacking the Ryuuzouji clan.
But while fighting, Nabeshima thought he must have originally been a faithful servant of Ryuuzouji.
After his master’s clan lost its heir, he had supported it and everyone had gradually started to follow him.
Naoshige had held connections with Hashiba and had maintained the Ryuuzouji clan in Kyushu during the rise of Shimazu.
He had indeed overthrown his master, but he had generally been faithful to his master’s clan.
What about her?
She had gone to Kyushu on Hashiba’s orders so she could learn Ryuuzouji’s mechanical dragon construction techniques.
Hashiba was guaranteed a secure future and she had been a messenger from there, but she had not been naïve enough to think she would be welcomed.
She had been an outsider placed in a position of authority. Plus, she had been a child. She had assumed they would look down on her and she would have to prove how hotblooded she was.
She had been nervous about a lot.
She had passed quite a few reviews before being chosen. She had ended up an exchange student, but she had not really accomplished much of anything before that. So…
…I thought I might not accomplish anything there either.
When hanging out with her friends in her hometown, she had felt like she could accomplish anything, but she had known that was simply bluster.
But once she arrived, she found Ryuuzouji to be very different from what she expected.
After all, there were almost no young people there. And almost all their work was as a subcontractor for Tres España. Most of the young people had apparently gone to Tres España or the New World.
The academy had been full of middle-aged and elderly people and it was closely connected to the reservation there, so they had actually welcomed this girl from the mainland like she was an urbanite.
“If you want our techniques, then take as much as you want!”
She had heard that a lot back then. In fact, it had been the overall trend at the time.
They worked as mechanical dragon construction subcontractors, but every nation was doing R&D for that. During the Warring States period, secrets did not provide a long-term advantage. Ryuuzouji in particular would become part of Hashiba through Nabeshima Naoshige and the other nations had no real access to them.
Once someone from Hashiba arrived, they had intended to leave everything with that person.
So they had taught her so many technical skills and given her technical documents. Those older people had also taught her many new ways to look at the world. She had learned so much there and she had gained much more than she had expected.
Primarily, she had gained real maintenance and piloting skills.
Back then, she had feared she would never accomplish anything, so those real results had meant so much to her, even if they were not some major event in the history recreation.
She could accomplish something.
But while she realized that, she had received a different emotion from the others as they celebrated her accomplishment.
“Now our future is safe too.”
Nabeshima had wanted to say something in response to that.
They had taught her that she could accomplish something when she feared she could not.
But why could they smile like that when they thought things were over for them and thought they could not accomplish anything?
They were wrong.
They had all accomplished something.
…Their accomplishment was allowing me to accomplish things.
She felt like saying it out loud would be meaningless, but she still felt like she should do something about it. And before she could find an answer, her time as an exchange student had come to an end.
She had been there for half a year, but after returning to M.H.R.R. with so much to show for it, she had asked her hometown friends for advice.
She had told them she was thinking of going back to Ryuuzouji.
Asano had been a voice for the displeasure lurking somewhere in her heart: “Ehh? Aren’t you just letting them influence youuu?” Ikeda had supported her decision: “If that’s what most of you wants to do, then go do it.” Kani had given her a weird sort of confidence: “I know you can do it, Nabe-chan!” Nagaoka, who had only just joined their group back then, had told her to “just do whatever you want”, but she wondered if he could tell his wife that now.
Halfway through the second term, she had returned to Ryuuzouji as a transfer student instead of an exchange student. That was when she had begun designing a new mechanical dragon.
Instead of just maintaining Ryuuzouji’s technical skills, she had wanted to develop them further and take them beyond the standards.
The Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji had been in charge of the development site and all five of them had opposed the idea. They had said it would only be a burden on them and that it was pointless to start on that this late in the game.
She had known how selfish she was being. She had simply been dragging those people back to their old ways instead of letting them have the peaceful ending they wanted.
But she had done it anyway.
“What, you can’t give me the power I need to fight in the future?”
She had argued back against their protests and sometimes even dueled them, but that was where it had all begun and the result was in her hands now.
So in the end, Nabeshima Naoshige had hijacked the Ryuuzouji clan.
She was literally holding the controls of a Ryuuzouji dragon.
And that was why she felt the beginning of her history recreation could be found in actually giving Ryuuzouji a meaningful future instead of some history recreation interpretation.
That foreign land had taken in a delinquent middle school girl and shown her a new way to look at the world. But…
“That place taught me I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and gave me the power to do it, so now I have to do the same for them!”
She would demonstrate Ryuuzouji’s might.
Those old and friendly people had given her anything she wanted, but…
…Don’t give up.
Don’t say there’s nothing left for you and you can’t accomplish anything.
I thought I was all bluster and couldn’t really accomplish anything.
…But you gave me strength!
With that thought, she swung the mechanical dragon around.
She rotated and swept along the surface to move down the slope from north to south. That route took her toward…
“The god of war leader!”
She first blew away three of them and the dragon cannon definitely reached the remaining white one.
Mouri-01 realized she had taken a direct hit.
The dragon cannon attack was fast.
With a machine like a mechanical dragon, swinging around the dragon cannon was not the optimal action. That would place a heavy burden on the power system and the inner shell that supported the attack.
It was a reckless action. And more than that…
…That was not the act of a dragon.
It was a forcible action of a human pilot.
Even though the enemy had been a “dragon” until now.
That was how Mouri-01 had seen it up until the dragon cannon blast, but something had changed partway through. Instead of someone who had become one with the dragon, this was someone who harnessed the dragon’s power. In other words…
“A mechanical dragon pilot!”
Was this that opponent’s completed form?
That uncertainty brought a slight disturbance to Mouri-01’s reaction. And…
The data from some of her fellow Belle de Marionnettes had been cut off.
Until now, she had been following the enemy mechanical dragon’s movements using the information from the supporters.
The six Lourd de Marionnettes of the rear guard each had two Belle de Marionnettes with them, but that total of 18 assistants had been lost.
She only knew what could be seen by her, the other three main fighters, and the two Belle de Marionnettes that had withdrawn from each of them.
Those 12 viewpoints were enough to grasp the situation, but it was not enough for a detailed scan.
She had been the one viewing the enemy, so…
Just as she raised her voice, one of the assistant Belle de Marionnettes spoke.
When her name was called, she realized her vision had opened up.
The withdrawn support Belle de Marionnettes could see the enemy.
That mechanical dragon was sweeping its dragon cannon down from farther up the slope in order to hit her.
Now she could see the instantaneous swinging motion.
She had lost her chance to evade and she had seen her fellow Belle de Marionnettes hit by the blast, so…
She thrust her right sword toward the dragon cannon that approached like a great wall of light.
There was an explosion.
Mouri-01’s ether sword had shattered after stabbing into the dragon cannon.
But that was not simple destruction.
It had broken while extending. The exposure to the powerful ether cannon blast triggered a reaction in the blade. It was influenced by the dragon cannon.
The ether meant to form the sword instead took on the traits of the dragon cannon.
The traits of sword and cannon conflicted with each other inside the ether sword and reached saturation at the midpoint.
This caused an ether explosion.
Mouri-01’s Lourd de Marionnette was blown away by a bursting power similar to a small dragon cannon but also similar to a giant sword slash. Mouri-01 used that force to move herself.
But it was not enough. The sweeping dragon cannon was still quite large and threatened to swallow up her Lourd de Marionnette like a great wall.
So she did something else.
She extended her sword three times in quick succession.
She fired it.
The resultant sound was like the previous blast multiplied four times or played four times back to back. The multiplied flash of light and multiplied rumbling reflected and echoed off of the dark slope and blew away the torn-up ground.
And her Lourd de Marionnette flew.
Pushed four times by the explosive blasts in midair, the white metal giant took flight.
The dragon cannon shot by so close in front of her it seemed to graze her.
She had dodged it.
Her wide-range vision saw the color white pass by from right to left. Then she saw the black of the night. But she did confirm the enemy’s location.
The mechanical dragon was no longer on the Miura Peninsula’s eastern slope.
It was up above.
It had bent its entire body to make a great leap as if slamming its front legs against the night sky.
The metal dragon had fired a dragon cannon, but it had continued attacking without even checking on the result.
Fire, thought Nabeshima.
To make sure the enemy could not escape, she leaped over to crush them.
Now was her chance. The enemy had just used up their sword magazine. She had heard four sword extension blasts while leaping.
The enemy had no way of attacking with their magazine used up.
Of course, the enemy would now fall back in order to reload.
She could not let them escape, so she spread her front legs and moved to crush them.
She would make sure this attack reached the enemy and she would win.
…I’ll prove here that we have a place in this world!
She would show that you could fight using a mechanical dragon.
After all, the Warring States period was based around experts instead of machines like gods of war and mechanical dragons.
Individual fighters who were familiar with the use of ether and had trained themselves could influence the outcome of a battle even if they were not a nation’s combat-oriented Vice Chancellor.
In other words, experts.
Experts could fly, fight, and protect.
To prevent those individual fighters from tipping the power balance too far, mechanical dragons, gods of war, and warships gave power to the people and nations that needed it.
The powerless needed weapons.
But, thought Nabeshima.
…This Warring States period and Thirty Years’ War period has reached a point where non-experts can be proud of providing supplemental power!
The times were changing.
As intense fighting grew more frequent across the land, there simply were not enough experts to go around.
That had led to the use of replacements who could use weapons to reach an equal or at least similar level as the experts.
So now a new type of “expert” was being recognized: the pilots who could control gods of war, mechanical dragons, ships, and other sorts of weapons.
She was a mechanical dragon pilot. She belonged to the Ryuuzouji clan which was a factory for mechanical dragons.
And now she felt like they were climbing onto the stage of “experts”.
That nation had gathered their power around her, so now the fighting was her job.
She was a first year in high school. When she looked above her, she saw nothing but monsters. And the automatons continuing to attack her here were literally superhuman fighters.
That was what she was up against, but…
“I’ve just gotta do it.”
We’ve both got cutting edge equipment here, she thought. And we’re both using the latest tactics.
If she was going to prove they had a place in this world, now was the time.
She would prove them capable of accomplishing something to repay them for everything.
She would prove their accomplishment through her own accomplishment.
With that, she slammed the entire mechanical dragon against the enemy.
On the east side of the Miura Peninsula, she finally caught the enemy down the slope from her.
She crashed into them.
Got them, realize Nabeshima.
There was a loud crash and powerful impact as the mechanical dragon slammed into the god of war with unstoppable speed.
The god of war was caught on her spread-out front left leg. From there, she used her great weight and speed.
She would not let herself slip away. She had to make sure the weight and solid armor did nothing but damage her opponent.
She hit them.
She heard components breaking and the earth crumbling below her. They bounced in a tangle for a bit, but that was all. From there, it was all the sound of breaking metal along with a loud straining sound.
…Yes. I got them!
The lernen figur displaying her lower vision showed the damaged enemy god of war lying sprawled out on the ground.
The chest armor had been stripped away, the right arm had snapped, the right shoulder had been crushed, and…
That cry was followed by an even louder metallic sound.
Nabeshima felt the enemy break. The vibration reaching her through the mechanical dragon’s left side was definitely from the enemy god of war’s frame breaking.
The god of war below her stomach was in a blind spot for her secondary cannons, but the main dragon cannon could still hit it. She could also just crush it like this. At this point, she could do whatever she wanted. However…
The cockpit suddenly went dark. The lernen figurs were colored black so the displayed images were easier to see, but that was not what this was. Several of the lernen figurs themselves had disappeared.
…What the hell!?
Her question was immediately followed by lernen figurs opening all around her. They all contained the word “warning” in orange. Then an alarm began sounding and she saw something in the left side of her vision: light.
Something jutted up toward heaven from within the crouching dragon’s left shoulder.
It was a blade.
It was 20m long. The enemy god of war’s ether sword had pierced her left side from below.
She heard a metallic sound from the left. Instead of coming from the enemy, this was her own left side. The warning lernen figurs told her of damage to the shoulder power system.
What happened? she wondered.
No, she knew what had happened. She had been hit by an attack, but she did not understand how.
“They should have been out of ammo, so how’d they fire their sword!?”
“Was that their teamwork!?”
Magoichi was listening to the battle on the Miura Peninsula while she fired Yatagarasu.
…The enemy was a step above!
That god of war unit led by Mouri-01 was using ether light swords. The swords had originally been pseudo-anti-ship cannons. By abandoning the barrel of the cannon, they could be used to produce disposable ether blades instead.
Their fuel came in four-round ether magazines, so after four shots, they had to swap out the magazine.
“Gods of war can’t swap out magazines with their limbs pinned down. Nabeshima-san was right about that. That was why she leaped in and crushed the enemy’s leader. But,” said Magoichi while opening a divine transmission lernen figur. “Hexagone Française’s gods of war have a way to swap out magazines without using the god of war itself.”
Magoichi shouted over the divine transmission to reach Nabeshima who likely did not understand the situation in which she found herself.
“The withdrawn automatons ran back onto the battlefield and swapped out the magazine with their gravitational control! Withdraw immediately! The enemy can still move and attack you!”
“Lady Mouri-01! I have completed the magazine swap!”
Mouri-01 heard an ally’s voice while her thoughts reinitialized and adjusted after the impact she had received.
Everyone had run over to her in the middle of the battle and were shouting while the mechanical dragon’s secondary cannons fired on them.
“Please get out of there!!”
Mouri-01 heard a dragon’s roar as she reawakened.
Her Lourd de Marionnette was lying on its back as if looking into the sky and it was badly damaged in several places. She found it fascinating how she felt heat from the damaged areas, but now was the time for action.
The dragon was preparing to fire its second dragon cannon.
It likely intended to hit her with it and use the recoil to fall back.
Meanwhile, her right shoulder on down was crushed and held in place by the dragon’s front left leg. The sword in that hand had pierced the mechanical dragon’s left side with a glowing blade thanks to the magazine the others had swapped out for her.
Her right arm would be crushed soon, but there was something she had to do before that happened.
She instantly lifted up her wrist and squeezed the sword’s trigger.
She fired all three remaining light swords in quick succession and at different angles.
She heard more sounds of breaking metal. From both her and her opponent.
Her right shoulder had been crushed, but the enemy’s left side had been sliced through.
The mechanical dragon’s front left leg was purged with a sound of impact. The dragon leaned back, which meant…
“Lady Mouri-01! The dragon cannon is coming!”
Hearing that, Mouri-01 made up her mind: We must win this. So…
…I will make it in time!
She could not swing her arm, so that sword could not get a clean hit on the mechanical dragon’s body and thus could not stop the dragon cannon.
But she could still use the functioning right hand and the magazine connected to her left hip hard point. That was all she had. And the others had taught her how to swap out the magazine. So…
Mouri-01 purged herself from the Lourd de Marionnette.
She released her connection and leaped out of the cockpit.
Nabeshima saw the enemy’s decision.
She saw an automaton. Blonde hair fluttered around a tall figure wearing a combat maid uniform.
The automaton emerged from between the collapsed god of war’s back and the ground and she hopped up onto the unmoving god of war’s chest.
Her left arm was not moving, but she spread out her right hand and swung the arm while removing the decorative patterned visor that had connected her to the god of war.
In sync with the action of removing the visor, the magazine on the god of war’s left hip moved.
Nabeshima was just about to fire her dragon cannon.
…It doesn’t matter if she swaps out the sword’s magazine!
If she could not swing the arm, the sword could not accurately target the mechanical dragon’s body. Even if the attack did hit, that blade made pinpoint attacks. That would not stop her from firing the dragon cannon while leaning back.
But the automaton was still moving.
Her blonde hair fluttered as she swung the giant magazine around.
The four rounds would be inserted into the base of the sword. After purging the old magazine, the sword’s lights went out.
At the same time, it released Nabeshima’s left shoulder, freeing her body. Now the only problem with aiming down for the dragon cannon was the weakness in her left side. The enemy was going to insert the new magazine in the sword, but…
“That blade can’t stop my attack!”
She could do this, so she did.
She fired the dragon cannon. Since she was aiming down, the energy could not take straight path down her throat and that weakened it. However…
Then she saw something at the base of the enemy sword where the new magazine had been connected.
“Switching to pseudo-anti-ship cannon mode. Firing barrelless pseudo-anti-ship cannon. How would you like four blasts not shaped into blades?”
Mouri-01 fired the pseudo-anti-ship cannon into the mechanical dragon from point-blank range.
The blast hit her too and the idea had come from a certain memory.
When the Musashi Chancellor had been abducted by the Reine des Garous, she had fought the Musashi group pursuing those two.
At the time, Musashi’s Schwarz Hexen had done something very similar to take out Mouri-03.
Using a cannon spell in barelless mode was guaranteed to hit.
She gave no thought to her own damage and fired that great force directly into her opponent from point-blank range.
This was not the optimal method.
It was not a tactic a Belle de Marionnette could have come up with.
But there it was in her memories. That had been the optimal method for their enemy at the time.
Knowing that was enough for a Belle de Marionnette to select it as an inconvenient tactic.
She could say this was the optimal choice for them here.
So she unleashed the four optimal shots in quick succession. And while she used her gravitational control to squeeze the trigger in the Lourd de Marionnette’s hand…
The metallic noises were deafening.
Parts and lubricant flew skyward. The heated liquid threw steam into the summer night air. The sounds of destruction chained together and the metal bones rained down with a sound like splashing water.
Below it all, Mouri-01 continued the attack and watched the light.
The color white burst in the sky.
That was a dragon cannon.
It had been meant for her and a direct hit would definitely have utterly destroyed her.
The enemy had not hesitated to fire it and fall back.
That was a dragon tactic and a human tactic.
Ryuuzouji had indeed built a mechanical dragon capable of keeping up with an elite Hexagone Française Lourd de Marionnette unit.
And more importantly…
The cry in response to the impact carried the pilot’s anger.
Mouri-01 had praise for her as well.
Ryuuzouji had not just created a mechanical dragon. In that pilot…
…They created the kind of person who should use that dragon.
That enemy was sure to strengthen herself after this battle. Mouri-01 felt pursued by that, so she decided they needed to strengthen themselves as well. With that thought, she pulled the trigger one last time.
She fired the final shot.
“Vive la Annnne!”
A great noise burst in the sky and light exploded.
The cannon’s destruction had reached the mechanical dragon’s body and damaged the dragon cannon’s power system.
The dragon cannon exploded.
A great roar scattered everywhere and the wind crashed into everything.
Mouri-01 was blasted a good ways down the slope.
In the instant before she was slammed down onto the dirt ground, she saw the mechanical dragon broken from the left side by its own dragon cannon. The recoil blasted it toward the sea and it splashed into the water there.
Then Mouri-01 hit the ground.
“I did it…”
She rolled, could not get up, and continued rolling a few more times before finally ending up on her back.
She looked up at the night sky lit by the raging battle, raised her right arm, and spoke the proper words.
“The Mouri Maid Lourd de Marionnette Company has taken the Miura Peninsula!!”
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