Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 33
Chapter 33: Jumping Girls Above and Below the Arch
Point Allocation (Should I Have Done That…?)
Adele saw the transport ship slam into Futayo.
“She was hit!”
That was clearly a direct hit. The transport ship had been flying in at extreme low altitude to fire on them, so there had not been room for Futayo to fit below it.
She was hit.
She flew through the air while leaning backwards. The back of her head collapsed backwards, her navel pointed up toward the heavens, and she formed a large curve with her body.
Something isn’t right, thought Adele as she stood up. And then…
“Like this, Adele.”
Kimi lightly struck her hips. Or so she thought.
At the same time, Adele flipped back starting from her feet.
The next thing she knew, she was standing up.
The world was back to normal with her legs below her. But the hem of her summer uniform was falling from the tug of gravity. And more than that, her pulse was racing.
…What was that?
“Heh heh. Futayo just did that same thing. In the instant of impact, she lifted her knees and lightly kicked off the transport ship’s bow. From there, she spun herself around in a 450-degree backflip.”
Kimi pointed toward the enemy transport ship. There was a straight line path up from the bow.
“Is the Vice Chancellor trying to run up the bow to reach the top of the transport ship!?”
That was exactly what she saw happening.
After swinging her long ponytail in a 450-degree circle, Futayo landed on the approaching transport ship’s bow.
And she suddenly ran straight up the bow.
Futayo entered a fighting stance the instant she hopped up onto the transport ship’s deck.
But that stance was meaningless when it came to intercepting attacks and she could not afford to lose her speed, so she left the stance again. Adapting to the situation is an important skill.
So her charge was done freestyle. There was a good chance they would shoot at her, so she angled her body to the side and relied on her shoulder and skirt armor while holding Tonbo Spare up as a shield.
And she realized something while flying across the enemy ship’s bow.
“There is no one here?”
Was the ship deserted? It was still firing and the cannons were making minute adjustments to remain aimed at the Musashi transport ships.
But the ship could be controlled remotely, so if there was no one on the deck…
“Do they intend to ram us!?”
Tonbokiri: “You need to figure out what to do in a hurry! Thish ship…this sip…this ship intends to ram you!”
Asama heard Futayo struggle to get the right words out.
And she exchanged a glance with the others on the transport ship.
“So what do we do?”
They all gasped as the enemy ship arrived right in front of them.
But despite the pressing situation, Asama heard Narumi while she tilted her head and tugged on Urquiaga’s sleeve.
“The two of us will be fine either way, won’t we?”
Incredible! thought Asama just before something other than a collision happened.
Their transport ship was blown away. All on its own.
Suzu focused on the movement of the ships.
The ship debris had disturbed her senses a lot like chaff, but that was gone now. The long distance meant her senses were a little rough, but the models she had were plenty clear for her purposes as she moved the transport ships.
She had a single goal.
Of course, the transport ship had fairly low buoyancy. Even with the thick virtual ocean surrounding it, it took time for it to float. So if she was going to do this, she had to use speed.
There were three methods necessary.
First, she caught the enemy’s cannon fire on diagonally-oriented defense barriers to knock the bow down.
Next, she created a diagonally-oriented virtual ocean with the lower end toward the bow and the higher end toward the stern.
That would cause the rear of the transport ship to float.
The next part was kind of rough. She sent forward the transport ship following the lead one.
“Suzu-sama. We will control the hits, so you need not hold back. Over.”
Suzu jabbed the lead ship’s raised rear with the next ship’s bow.
This caused a rear-end collision.
The second ship crashed into the bottom of the lead ship’s raised stern.
Instead of a roar, this simply caused a heavy noise and two things happened afterwards.
The lead ship skidded up and forward with its back end raised and the rear ship pitched forward.
Then the process repeated.
The second ship’s forward tilt lifted its rear and the third ship hit there and tilted forward as well. The fourth ship hit the third’s raised back end and the fifth and sixth ships did the same.
Soon thereafter, the first through fifth ships hopped up as if thrown forward.
The Musashi ships passed by above the enemy ship that had tried to ram them from head on. And those five ships all performed a flip as they did so.
But the sixth and final ship had no one to ram it from behind, so it could not jump.
But the sixth ship had time instead. Unlike the ships in front, it had time to float up normally.
So it did.
That would allow the sixth ship to pass by above the enemy ship as well.
But the enemy ship made a hurried action.
From the moment the lead ship had hopped up, the cannons on its deck had been aimed upwards.
It did not have time to take aim then, but that would change when it came to the sixth ship. All of the enemy ship’s cannons were aimed skyward in order to target the lead ship.
And it opened fire.
Everyone saw it happening from the large boxy structure that was the flipping lead ship.
The cannons meant to target them opened fire.
The cannon turrets fired from close enough for a kiss.
“Hey! Adele! That’s your cue!! Become a shield!”
“A direct hit from that will peel off a lot of the armor! And what if I get stuck in the deck!?”
That’s your worst-case scenario? everyone muttered while two overheated shells flew toward them.
Everyone cried out and started to move, but then a brief but definite change came over the two shells.
They were split down the center to create four total pieces.
“Bind! Tonbo Spare!”
The cutting power destroyed them.
Futayo looked up at the spinning transport ship from the enemy ship’s deck.
The rotation had already moved the deck out of view.
Everyone was safe. She could not see any sign of damage from here.
…That cut must have reached them.
Although, she thought. That one was a freebie.
“I know I am not the only one of us who can intercept shells!”
There was something else she needed to focus on while on the enemy ship.
“I must destroy the cannons!”
With that, she accelerated. She ran across the enemy ship as if pursuing her allies’ ships passing by overhead.
She provided herself further acceleration to move forward.
Futayo first destroyed one of the enemy cannons with a surprise cutting attack.
The enemy ship had three main cannons and a few secondary cannons on its deck. The main ones were the real threat. The secondary ones could be easily blocked with defense barriers, so she could ignore them.
Meanwhile, her allies could not get in any solid hits with their own defense barriers in the way.
That was why she had boarded the enemy ship.
I must hurry, she thought.
Her race across the deck arrived at the second cannon installed at the center. The cannons had been attached to the transport ship’s deck in a hurry. The base was built up as a package and a 15cm cannon was affixed to that. The barrel appeared to be around 38 calibers long.
That cannon was attempting to fire on the transport ship passing above it.
She could not overlook that. Even if the enemy did not fire here…
“You never know what will happen as the battle continues!”
She ran and leaped past the cannon while activating Tonbo Spare.
She slammed the cutting attack into it. And in that same instant…
She sensed something like wind approaching from the stern ahead of her.
She knew what it was.
…A flying shell!
This had the same intensity as the ones Gin had fired at her.
And Futayo saw the rearmost main cannon aiming at her rather than up.
Just as she had predicted, two of its shells were flying her way.
Narumi saw something atop the rotating ship as it passed over the enemy ship.
She saw the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s decision.
The girl took a certain action when the shells were fired at her from the stern.
…Will she dodge out of the way? Or will she jump over them?
No, in the records of her battle with Sanada’s Celestial Dragon, she had used one of Tachibana Gin’s shells as a stepping stone and jumped off of it.
That was insane.
But the Musashi Vice Chancellor would do things like that.
Narumi could tell just how troublesome an opponent that girl would be if she ever had to fight her.
…I really though she would dodge out of the way.
If she had done that, she would have been safe.
But that would have put the rest of them in danger. Even with defense barriers, this was far too close.
Narumi had thought the Musashi Vice Chancellor was that sort of person.
Heroes who made the battlefield their own had existed since antiquity.
They would run whichever way they pleased, bring down enemies wherever they passed by, and never take any damage themselves. They were heroes because they were an exceptional force on the battlefield.
Of course, that fighting style did not take those behind them into account. The others would have to protect themselves in order to respect the hero’s results.
The Musashi Vice Chancellor tended in that direction.
She would always rush forward, ignore the plan, and singlehandedly adlib her way through.
But that was not all she did.
She had prioritized protecting the others over herself.
That decision may have looked like she did not even consider the danger to herself.
But looking at the big picture, she had done the right thing. Their overall goal was to reach the end of this road.
If she had protected herself but the transport ships had not made it through, they would have lost the battle.
But perhaps the Musashi Vice Chancellor had simply not forgotten something else.
…The Satomi Student Council President asked us to show her the ocean.
Narumi shut her eyes.
The transport ship’s rotation settled down and the bottom descended to the road once more.
The enemy ship was already behind them.
The two shells would have flown the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s way from the stern of that ship, but…
“She really is troublesome.”
That girl was troublesome for more than just her grasp of their battlefield objective. She had such exceptional power and she fought as an individual, yet…
“She does not forget she has allies with her.”
Just as Narumi said that, an explosion erupted behind them.
The two shells flying toward the Musashi Vice Chancellor had exploded.
But not because they had hit her.
“They were destroyed.”
Something had torn into and eliminated the shells.
“The Mito Lord’s Ex. Collbrande.”
Futayo spun herself around while destroying the central cannon.
Smoke and scorched metal shards scattered below her flowing hair and swinging arms.
The shells aimed at her had been destroyed. That was thanks to…
But more than one voice responded with that word.
First, Mitotsudaira landed on the stern as if chasing after the Silver Chains and Ex. Collbrande.
She looked back a bit while Futayo spun herself around to build up acceleration.
“I will be going on ahead.”
She was not speaking to Futayo alone. The wolf was addressing her and…
“Naito-dono and Naruze-dono?”
“Judge! It can be hard to tell whether you’re moving too fast or lagging behind.”
With that, the Schwarz Hexen stepped up beside her.
And the Weiss Hexen lined up on her other side, placing her between the two Technohexen.
“How did you end up behind everyone after running out ahead?”
Fair point, thought Futayo as she ended her spin and moved forward.
As she kicked off the deck, the rear cannon up ahead suddenly transformed. The silver wolf had used her chains to spread and bend the cannon to either side.
This transport ship was no longer a threat. With just one exception:
…It could ascend, turn around, and ram us.
That just left escaping.
The fourth ship was spinning by overhead. If she ran to the stern now, she would have plenty of time to reach the sixth ship as it landed.
The Technohexen called out to her while accelerating behind her.
“Are you hopping aboard, Nida-yan!?”
“You two go on ahead to guard its surroundings!”
The Technohexen left. Up ahead, Mitotsudaira launched a Silver Chain toward the descending sixth ship.
The silver fingers grasped the back of the transport ship and the wolf looked back as the chain grew taut.
“You can jump on by yourself, can’t you!?”
Futayo raised her eyebrows at that.
…No help for me!?
But she was Vice Chancellor. Even if Mitotsudaira was the Mito Lord, she was still only the 5th Special Duty Officer, so Futayo could not get her help when she did not need it.
In other words, she could jump on by herself. So she responded with her eyebrows raised in a smile.
She had learned how to do this while training with Kimi.
She corrected her axis, aligned her center of gravity along a straight line, and passed her strength through a single point to leap.
She unleashed enough jumping force to fly a few dozen meters in a single bound. This was her version of the Hassou Tobi.
The silver wolf flew off ahead of her as the chain pulled her. Futayo matched her pace as she pursued.
…Right, left, right, left.
When she prepared to leap to the right again, the deck moved faster than her.
Mitotsudaira saw Futayo trip and fall off of the enemy ship.
…What are you doing!?
The girl had screwed up.
No, it was Mitotsudaira who had screwed up, not Futayo.
Urging her to jump out some weird concern for her position as Vice Chancellor had been a mistake. Because…
…Futayo is useless when she tries to use her head!
If Mitotsudaira had said nothing, Futayo would not have tried to think and would have used her wild instincts to jump, but Mitotsudaira’s words must have made her think something. And as a result…
She extended it, released it, and sent it out straight, but…
…Will it not reach her!?
Just as she thought that, Futayo spun herself through the air and prepared her spear. She aimed it backwards, toward the stern of the departing enemy transport ship.
She deactivated Soaring Wings during her fall, and…
“Bind and cut…Tonbo Spare!”
The rear of the enemy ship was cut through.
Mitotsudaira saw what Futayo had accomplished.
She had cut.
A horizontal line was sliced diagonally down into the stern.
That shattered the ship’s rear armor.
Next, some light was destroyed.
The rear virtual ocean scattered and the ether forming it burst and exploded in the air.
The enemy transport ship left a trail of light behind, its rear shook, and its bow hit the road.
Sparks flew and a creaking sound echoed through the canyon created by the ruins while text appeared on Mitotsudaira’s sign frame.
Musashino: “I have determined that worked well. Without a stable current in the back, there will be a disturbance in its acceleration and it will be unable to fly properly. Over.”
That was not the only effect.
The explosion’s shockwave hit Futayo and sent her flying toward Mitotsudaira.
Futayo’s hand reached the end of the Silver Chain that Mitotsudaira had sent out for her.
She had it grasp the girl’s hand and pull her up.
“That was not how I expected that to go, but you did make the jump.”
Gin heard her husband’s voice.
They had just taken a break and were preparing to begin the invasion of Satomi. Their transport ship was already on fire.
Their break was complete and they had shot down lots of enemy ship.
…Master Muneshige appears satisfied and I am satisfied too.
After all, it had been so long since they had fought with no sign of the Musashi group nearby. It felt a little lonely to be the only ones fighting, but it was also a valuable time.
And Gin saw Muneshige look back at her on the burning deck.
“Gin, it seems the Vice Chancellor just sunk an enemy transport ship.”
“Maybe so, but I just sunk-…”
Gin started speaking, but decided to stop. The daughter of a warrior family was not some barbarian who could be dragged into a contest of destruction. Besides, that girl was a close-range fighter and she was an all-range fighter who could even bring down castles. Of course she had the superior results when it came to destroying transport ships. So…
…You did well using that cutting power, Honda Futayo.
She was certain and not just guessing that the girl had used Tonbo Spare’s power. That girl had the strength to do that and to use herself as part of a larger strategy.
So Gin spoke.
“You cannot let her get ahead of you, Master Muneshige.”
“I hope I will I have the chance to prove she has not.”
He meant a chance to face a transport ship like that. The fact that he had responded so quickly made Gin smile on the burning deck. She used her knees to absorb the shaking of a small explosion in the engine division.
“Hee hee. This reminds me of the Armada Battle.”
“I did not have the opportunity to join that one. But it did bring me back to you.”
“Judge. That was also when Sir Segundo and Madam Juana exchanged a passionate kiss (initiated by Madam Juana) as their ship burned and prepared to sink.”
“Was it that passionate?”
“Yes, their passions burned just as hot as the flames around them.”
“What a coincidence. I believe that was the same night when I shouted amore to you five times.”
She told herself not to look back on the past, but she also felt like it was relevant to their present situation. And she also also thought she was truly hopeless if she had started making excuses like that. But…
She called her husband’s name again and then looked around them.
“I just wish these flames had some practical purpose for us.”
“Spain is known as the nation of passion, so we tend to go over the top in everything we do,” he said. “But being with you is more about giving life meaning than about practicality.”
“…You do have a way with words, Master Muneshige.”
She could feel heat rising in her cheeks, but she decided to blame it on the fire surrounding them. Otherwise, she would be reacting like he had asked her for a kiss or something more.
Honestly, she thought with a sigh. And then…
Tonbokiri: “Gin-dono, we just made it through, but what about you?”
Tachibana Wife: “We have long since finished.”
Tonbokiri: “I would expect no less from you! Oh, and, Gin-dono! I just incapacitated a transport ship!”
…She’s clearly angling for my praise!
Be strong, Tachibana Gin. You stayed calm while discussing this with yourself, so you need to give a proper response now that she herself has hit you with a surprise attack.
Tachibana Wife: “W-w-well done.”
Oops. I stuttered a bit because that is not what I really wanted to say. I hope she does not think I am weird.
Tonbokiri: “No, no. I am still no match for you, Gin-dono. And I couldn’t have done it without a memory of you putting me in the right mood, Gin-dono. I am in your debt.”
After a short silence, Gin clung to Muneshige.
“Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! Am I a narrow-minded girl!?”
“No, no. You are open-minded enough to take in a boy you barely knew.”
“I am fairly certain that used up what open-mindedness I had! My mind is like a tiny single-person room, so I am just sure of it, Master Muneshige!”
“In that case,” he said with a smile. “Together, we have a great castle, so that is not a problem at all. Keeping that in mind is what matters most. And once you have settled in some, you can clean things up and put things away to clear out some space.”
“…You really do have a way with words.”
“Now, now.” He placed a hand on her shoulder and then viewed the sea of flames around them. “Let’s go save the people who see meaning in these flames.”
“Judge. But disembarking would be a pain, so how about we do this instead?”
She pulled Cuatro Cruz in with her right hand and spun it around with her fingers. She aimed it at the deck as a siege hammer. She pressed the striking portion against the very surface they stood on.
“Now, let us head down.”
Gin added another transport ship to her kill list.
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