Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 32
Chapter 32: Leader at the Intersection
I spin around
What comes next?
Point Allocation (Bind)
Suzu performed some work with her hands and gave some instructions on Musashino’s bridge.
There was a lot of movement at and around the transport ships she was controlling, so she had to manage and comprehend it all while delegating what she could.
That was why she had a sign frame saying “Work Complete / Transfer” next to her. When she had finished something herself, she hit “complete” and, when she was delegating it to the automatons, she hit “transfer” to control each movement in turn.
“Musashino” was the most reliable one when it came to this. When the enemy transport ships arrived from the sky on the left and right, Suzu was unsure what to have their transport ships do, but…
“Suzu-sama, let those on the ship deal with that one. Over.”
“Those on the ship…? B-but…the lead ship…is going to be caught between them?”
Did that mean the enemy was doing a good job?
The two ships charging in from either side were trying to destroy the lead Musashi transport ship instead of just acting as an obstacle. The enemy did not have automatons to handle the data processing for the timing, so all the work would have been done by their navigation students. With that in mind…
“Suzu-sama,” added “Musashino”. “Machines were created as a form of assistance to allow the less experienced to produce decent results. And unlike experienced people, machines do not grow tired and can provide the same level of results indefinitely. With machines like us assisting you, you need not view the experienced enemy as a threat. Over.”
“Oh, um, uh.”
That was not quite right.
Will this hurt her feelings? wondered Suzu as she spoke to “Musashino”.
“Not a…threat. I was, um…i-impressed.”
She finally found the word she was looking for.
“I respect them?”
She could see the automaton’s expression change. Her eyebrows rose a little and she nodded toward Suzu.
“My apologies. You are correct, Suzu-sama. When faced with an opponent’s skill, we should pay them respect rather than view it as a threat. Because…”
“I have determined we wish other people to respect rather than fear the power we are offering you. Over.”
“Musashino” then changed the subject.
“Now, Suzu-sama. Let us show something worthy of respect to the experienced enemy responsible for this timing. I will present you with some options, so please choose whichever plan you like. Over.”
Naito was unsure if she should take flight.
She was on the lead transport ship which really looked like it was going to get squished from either side.
She would rather not be squished, so it would be much less nerve-racking if she just flew away. But…
“Hey! Everyone! We’re all about to die! Adele! Can you get in the middle with your mobile shell and save us by taking those big things from both ends for us!? Oh, but don’t do a search on ‘taking big things from both ends’, Adele!”
“I-if that’s how it’s gonna be, Chancellor, then I’m getting in the mobile shell to save myself and you can get squished together with the 1st Special Duty Officer so you two have the flattest chest of all!”
“Why did you have to drag me into this!? I will be evacuating with Mary-dono!”
“Tenzou… This is why you have no friends.”
But as nerve-racking as staying would be, Naito felt like leaving this group to their own devices was a bad idea in general.
Plus, she would probably feel a little guilty if they were all squished, but…
…I’m pretty sure they’d survive just about anything.
She felt like it would be harder for them to die. There were normal warriors on the other transport ships, but this lead one was being controlled almost entirely remotely. That was so it could be disposable, so…
“What is it, Margot?”
“Judge. I was just wondering what it would take to actually kill all of us. Is that a dangerous thing to think about?”
“Even if something like that happened, there’s Trigger Happy Gin and her group up there, so it wouldn’t be all of us.”
“Good point,” said Naito. “Then I guess I won’t fly. I’m not really ready for it anyway.”
“Eh? What do you mean?”
“Well, you see,” said Naito just before the transport ship entered the intersection. “Oh,” she added as the enemy ships rushed in from either side.
They’re going to hit us! thought Adele.
The large enemy ships were on a collision course in the left and right sides of her vision.
She was not in her mobile shell. Her reasoning was fairly dull: it’s too hot in there. After all, cooling spells were expensive, so they simply were not an option for her.
Also, was there any real reason for me to be here at all? she belatedly wondered.
They were originally only supposed to abduct Nagaoka Tadaoki, but she also had her connections with Yoshiyasu and Yoshiaki to consider. Still, if everything was going to happen on this transport ship…
“There’s no real reason to have me or Raging Beast here, is there?”
When she looked back at where Raging Beast was fixed to the deck, she saw Persona-kun wildly gesturing toward the back hatch he had opened.
…Yeah, I’m grateful, but it’s a little late now.
Then she remembered the situation and turned toward Asama.
“A-Asama-san! We’re about to be squished or splattered or whatever! Don’t you have to do your running gag!?”
But while Adele tried to distract herself from their impending doom, Asama had opened several spell sign frames. They were directly linked to the transport ship’s divine protection system, so…
“Everyone! Please get down!”
As soon as Asama said that, Adele felt a hand on the back of her neck.
“Now, now, Adele. This isn’t the time to panic.”
Kimi pulled her down into a sitting position. And…
With that, the transport ship did something.
It dove into some water to stop itself.
The transport ship crashed into the water.
After being sat down on the deck by the Reine des Garous’s hand pushing on her shoulder, Masazumi saw a wall of water rise from the bow like an arching bridge.
That was the virtual ocean.
That virtual ocean had already been active to support the ship from directly above it.
This arch of water had probably made a full circle of the ship to surround the bow.
It was thick for a virtual ocean. That was why it caught the ship and rapidly slowed it.
And Masazumi belatedly realized something about the way the water was placed.
…It’s like at England.
After the transport ship had crashed on England, they had needed to stand it up so it would not fall over. That had been accomplished by focusing the virtual ocean on the stern to keep the ship vertical below it.
But this time, the thick ocean had been created in front of the ship.
Musashino: “The calculations and control for the virtual ocean buoyancy are being completed with a 2% margin of error. Over.”
Unturning: “This is nice and exciting.”
That’s your only reaction!? thought Masazumi in shock, but perhaps this was not enough to let it surprise her.
After all, the virtual ocean was a mass of buoyancy. So…
Bell: “You will soon be…launched forward!”
That was the natural result.
On the diagram, she could see the rest of the transport ships approaching from behind this lead one that had come to a sudden stop.
The speed calculation at the top of the sign frame showed a reacceleration after the virtual ocean braking. The speed of the lead ship quickly shot up to 240km/h.
But just as she sensed the ocean growing even thicker, she saw a collision in front of her.
With their timing thrown off, the enemy ships collided head-on with each other.
The attack had not hit.
Adele saw the enemy ship hammers crash into each other at about 400m ahead of them.
Her joyful cry was drowned out by the din of breaking metal.
The shockwave and light produced by the collision struck their ship and the ruins. The dust coating the surface of the ruins was blown away and the buildings of a former age were revealed.
Novice: “Data! Precious, precious data!”
Mar-Ga: “Couldn’t you see this by visiting the mine at Akihabara?”
Novice: “No! The buildings at Akihabara are too strongly influenced by the weird religions they had back then! Just the other day in the west area, they discovered a statue of High Priest Onoden riding a moving wooden horse with an elephantine nose attached, so we have to question the validity of our findings regarding the great faith of Soft Map even though that research had even managed to recreate their primary hymn!”
Worshiper: “They have found ridiculous things in the older layers! They just recently reached a layer from an era where life worship was banned! Honestly, what were the people from the Age of the Gods thinking!?”
Flat Vassal: “So life worshipers were heretics back then too, huh?”
Vice President: “Can we please focus on the danger right in front of us!?”
She saw it there.
There was a wall right in front of them.
A metal wall. They were facing the thick metal created by two ships crashing together like two long paper boxes. The crushed and bent portions stood out because their great heat caused them to glow a dull red.
But as they flew toward that metal wall, the ring of virtual ocean raced toward the stern.
Some wind blew in from the front with the force of a surprise attack.
No, that was not wind.
Their own transport ship was accelerating forward thanks to the virtual ocean ring. And that metal wall was still right there in front of them.
“We’re gonna crash!”
“They are going to crash, aren’t they?”
Mitotsudaira threw herself in between the accelerating transport ship and the colliding enemy ships.
The border between the two ships was right there in front of her, but there was no prying them apart now. The pressure and heat of the crash had fused them together and their frames were sticking into each other.
However, there was a reaction to their collision.
But instead of being a reaction to their own hit, it was a reaction to the other ship hitting them.
Mitotsudaira saw all of their armor panels strip away toward the bow.
The armor on the stern was stripped from the frame by their own weight and it flew in the direction of the collision.
Each time the armor panels left the frame and slid, she heard the metallic sounds of welds and connections breaking.
But the destruction was not limited to the exterior. The interior structures like walls and floors would either act as weights that bent the frames or break loose and form an avalanche toward the bow.
And something happened once the armor panels and interior structures pushed in toward the bow, giving the ships a wrinkled appearance.
The force of their mutual collision exploded.
While the armor panels and other detritus piled up, the frames at the core carried the force from the other ship.
An instant later, the metal frames forming the ships ruptured. Instead of a solid impact, it was more of a wing-like tearing sound. The ships’ metal bones could not bear the force passing through them and they burst.
Next, the detritus struck.
The armor panels and interior structures applied pressure to the bow like a single great mass. That force had tried to follow the frames to each ship’s bow, but not all of it had made it through and it instead accumulated.
In an instant, everything in the crashed ships seemed to stop.
But that stillness and silence did not last long.
The energy rapidly filling each ship’s bow resulted in something like dual detonations.
Both forces were accompanied by voices. And those voices had the same timing and intensity.
“Bind! Tonbo Spare!”
“Slice through, Silver Chains!”
From the front, the Silver Chains threw Ex. Collbrande in to slice through the right ship.
From behind, an attack from Tonbo Spare sliced through the left ship.
Futayo saw it while running further ahead.
She looked back while moving. That meant making a spin step to preserve her acceleration spell while checking behind her and she saw the enemy ships crashing there.
She targeted the one on the right from her perspective. Since she was holding Tonbo Spare in her right hand, she was confident that was the fastest and best choice.
But she only sliced the right one. She did not slice both.
Because she knew one of her classmates would do something about it.
One of them would find it natural to slice through that left ship. Even if every single one of them missed the best timing because they assumed someone else would do it, they would still do it.
This was the same.
Someone made their attack on the left ship from Futayo’s perspective.
Excalibur had two Silver Chains wrapped around it. The sword of English royalty initially flew straight up in the night sky before swinging down along a scythe-like curve.
It only took an instant. Futayo saw Excalibur slam into the bottom of the bow, which was sort of like the ship’s throat.
Then the Silver Chains moved.
She gasped in her heart because that was not just a slicing blow.
The Silver Chains holding onto Ex. Collbrande’s hilt slashed all the way around the exterior of the enemy ship.
It was almost like slitting someone’s throat, but this slash was extremely precise.
This technique would not be possible for person or beast. It was only possible with the combination of Silver Chains and blade, so Futayo felt blessed to have seen it up close.
And just as the sparks scattered from that arc of a slash around the ship, Futayo’s own cut collided with the other ship.
Both ships were sliced into. The gashes their attacks left were split further by the force built up within and the ships sliced themselves the rest of the way.
A tearing roar shook the dark city, but Futayo turned her back on that.
She had completed her spin step. She had built up enough speed to cover the length of 70 paces in a single step, so she had to face her next enemy.
She did not look back because she knew what was happening behind her.
The bows would have been bisected and the colliding forces within would burst out there since they could not escape through the back of the ships.
“The two severed bows will explode.”
She heard the cacophony of destruction behind her.
Her words became reality and the path was cleared while debris flew everywhere.
All she had done was lower the transport ship’s speed.
The rest had been a combination of adlibs by those on the scene. And as a result, the bows of the enemy ships blocking the way forward had exploded.
She honestly did not understand what had happened.
…Futayo-san looked back, Mitotsudaira-san moved forward, and then it all blew up?
It scared her how she was tempted to just say “sure, why not” when it came to those two.
The gap those two had opened was about 47m wide. That was barely enough space for a Far Eastern transport ship.
Suzu hurriedly directed the lead ship toward that gap.
It had already started to reaccelerate and the other ships were arriving behind it. Also…
She briefly leaned back and covered Noise Neighbor with her hands. The high-resolution sensory data she was receiving had just increased considerably.
It was the debris.
The pieces of the two exploded bows was essentially pummeling her with data.
The ability to quickly cut through to the gist of things was a major strength of humanity, but this felt a lot like facing up toward the sky in the middle of a downpour.
Of course, she could handle this if she mentally prepared herself first. It was a lot like taking a breath before diving underwater.
Gold Mar: “Hey, Bell-rin? We’re gonna clean things up out front, so cover your ears.”
Eh? thought Suzu when Naito suddenly spoke to her, but she soon remembered something.
Everyone in their class had a way of doing crazy things. And if they gave warning, it was best to do as they said even if she did not understand what they meant.
…I-if you try to ask what they mean…it never ends well!
So Suzu quickly lowered Noise Neighbor’s auditory sensory power.
A moment later, a sudden explosive roar rumbled through the lowered auditory device.
Someone had fired an attack forward from near their transport ship’s bow.
It was a Technohexen blast.
Mitotsudaira used her instantaneous acceleration to move forward.
She slipped below the falling debris of the two shattered bows and looked back over her shoulder to see an attack launched from the front of the deck by the two Technohexen.
Two blasts were fired in quick succession. The first one was a scattering cannon blast made by Naito.
She placed the end of her schale besen on the bow so all the recoil would be absorbed by the transport ship.
“Is this gonna be too much for the brush!?”
The Schwarz Hexen had fired the blast with the rear nozzle almost fully opened and five rolls of coins exploded near the flying debris.
With a sound like a ringing bell, the enemy ship debris was pushed away from the center.
That blast cleared the way.
There was still some wreckage there, but…
“C’mon, Margot, you can’t leave so much behind.”
The Weiss Hexen pressed the back of her schale besen against the bow to absorb the recoil and fired several homing shots.
Some large pieces of wreckage were still floating in the air after the push from the Schwarz Hexen’s attack, but the Weiss Hexen’s attacks struck them like a kick to the rear.
Technohexen schale besen were capable of taking on warships, but here they were used to clean up the air.
Suzu’s words were everything. The obstacles in the air had been swept away.
The transport ship’s armor could handle what debris remained.
Mitotsudaira saw the Technohexen pair high five while standing on the edge of the bow.
And as the transport ship moved forward…
“You two!” Mitotsudaira called out to the Technohexen. “There’s still an obstacle up ahead!”
An enemy transport ship had turned the corner past the intersection. And…
The long cannon installed on its deck released white spray visible even in their night vision.
An initial shot was fired straight at them.
Yoshiyasu clicked her tongue at the enemy’s decision.
…They’re so damn clever!
First, the enemy had tried to crush them using the transport ship hammers from either side.
Whether they were hit by or slipped past that, this attack was ready for them from straight ahead. Meanwhile, their path through was restricted by the enemy ships forming walls on the left and right.
Of course, they could guard against the cannon blast with their defense barriers, but while they repeated that process…
“The enemy will crash into us!”
They could not ascend using the blast this time. In fact, these head-on attacks actually lowered their speed. That would make the lead transport ship an obstacle for the others behind it.
…What do we do!?
Yoshiyasu considered sending out Righteousness.
Righteousness could cut down the enemy cannon blasts and destroy the enemy ship itself.
But she heard a certain voice.
“Flatty, it’s not your turn to fight yet.”
An enemy shell burst in front of them. The lead ship’s defense barrier shattered and the ether light dust turned to wind and blew around them, but the idiot was smiling beyond that.
“We’re still doing Operation Kidnap Nagabuto, so you just go snack on a potato and enjoy the show,” he said. “I mean, the ocean’s right past here, so we’re all in an Edo Bay mood already!”
The ocean, thought Yoshiyasu while hearing the next shot shatter another defense barrier.
She definitely felt impatient given the situation, but more than that…
…I can’t believe this.
This was her response to the idiot’s words: Yeah, I guess so.
“None of you are taking this seriously enough.
But taking things seriously did not necessarily mean they would turn out any better. She had learned all too well recently that taking things seriously was not a necessary part of accomplishing something.
If you had skill, then attitude and method did not really matter.
But what about with her?
She felt like she understood, but she did not really.
However, she had taken things seriously, failed to reach her goal, and lost. So…
“Hey, Musashi Chancellor.”
“Yeah!? What is it, Flatty!? Feeling lonely? Hm?”
“Oh, shut up. But for now…”
Yoshiyasu spoke while listening to the cannon blasts and shattering barriers from up ahead.
“Show me the ocean. The ocean leading to Satomi.”
Futayo received the Satomi Student Council President’s instruction via Masazumi.
The Satomi Student Council President had asked them to show her the ocean.
Futayo honestly wanted to see it too. She wanted to see how Edo’s bay differed from and resembled Mikawa’s bay.
It did not matter that it was nighttime. She had often seen the ocean ahead of or behind her while training at night back at Mikawa.
But when she tried to do that here, there was an obstacle approaching from up ahead.
“You are in the way.”
The armed transport ship was in the way.
It blocked her view, her actions, and her mood. That last one was especially important.
…Because your mood is everything in combat!
A good mood means good results. Masazumi and Mitotsudaira-sama clearly understand this. When Masazumi really gets into her negotiations, she starts wars. And when Mitotsudaira-sama gets into her ‘loo loo loo’ wolf mode, it never ends well for her opponent.
…But then how do I explain Gin-dono’s serenity in battle?
That was strange.
Futayo spoke to Masazumi while running along the straight road as shells passed by overhead.
Tonbokiri: “Masazumi! Can I hear what is going on with Gin-dono’s group!? I would like to check on their battle excitement!”
Masazumi turned toward Asama.
The shrine maiden had been teaching the idiot how to follow Mitotsudaira’s battle progress on his sign frame, but she managed to respond while performing that task.
“Oh, Masazumi? You can check on Gin-san if you want, so go ahead.”
Her skill really is impressive, thought Masazumi while having Tsukinowa open a sign frame.
While she did that, a defense barrier shard passed by right next to her. She was used to seeing that by now, so she did not even flinch. Soon, her sign frame displayed the Tachibana Couple’s status.
…Their battle excitement, huh?
The Tachibana Couple were very much the combat type. The wife remained clam and serene throughout. Following their fighting would probably be pretty exciting.
Futayo must have some kind of idea, figured Masazumi while viewing the Tachibana Couple’s conversation.
Tachibana Husband: “Oh, look, Gin. That ship over there looks about ready to sink. Yes, and it’s in a good position too. I’m starting to figure out how this works, I think. Your artillery fire seems so much more vivid than usual. …What a wonderful night this is.”
Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige, please do not get so excited. By the way, this is a new armor-piercing shell I developed in secret, so would you like to see it in action? Or would you prefer I opened up the bento I brought to eat during a break in the fighting?”
Tachibana Husband: “Oh? Gin, were you storing that bento box in the space meant for your weapons? What a wonderful surprise.”
Tachibana Wife: “Which shall it be? The armor-piercing shell, or the bento?”
Tachibana Husband: “Ha ha. Why not fire it while we take a break, Gin?”
Tachibana Wife: “You are much too pure, Master Muneshige. But if you insist, I will up the recoil reduction so we can drink some tea while firing it. …Is that the ship you had your eye on?”
Tachibana Husband: “Indeed it was! …Oh, look at it burn. It’s so pretty, Gin.”
Tachibana Wife: “ ‘Pretty’ will get you nowhere with a warrior woman. But more than that, I am glad you enjoyed it. Now, I have some other newly developed shells with me, so would you like to try them out as well?”
Mar-Ga: “Why are those two flirting on the battlefield with their commando mentality intact?”
Gold Mar: “And aren’t they doing that on a transport ship that’s taking hits?”
Flat Vassal: “They’re a real stereotypical battle-happy couple, aren’t they?”
Uqui: “Hm? What is that look for, Narumi?”
Unturning: “Why is that common enough here to be a stereotype?”
Gold Mar: “Narumin, they’re doing it with a cannon, so do you want to do with your swords?”
Vice President: “I’m pretty sure this is more disturbing than exciting!”
Futayo listened to the couple’s intimate artillery session via the divine transmission.
…Leave it to Gin-dono to take things to another level!
She was firing on enemy ships while having a couple’s talk with Muneshige. Did that mean firing on ships was such a common occurrance for her that it was not worth getting excited over?
The Tachibana clan could be frightening sometimes.
Then I need to take things to the next level too, thought Futayo before realizing something.
…Gin-dono always has a way of putting me in the right combat mood!
She felt a smile on her lips as she gave a deep nod. Then she faced forward.
“Oh, when did the enemy transport ship get so close?”
She crashed right into it.
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