Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 38
Chapter 38: Approachers at the Crossing
If the howl of rebuke
Is shouted to the earth
Then the scream of accusation
Is released into the sky
Point Allocation (What a Pain)
Mitotsudaira lightly swung her right hand and continued speaking.
“This is the battlefield – the survival of nations is at stake and lives are taken here. But when the previous Satomi Chancellor set the stage for this, he faced the battlefield to bring life.”
She had been helpless then.
Even though her king had told her to stop him.
But was even the greatest speed and strength no match for the speed of willpower?
She decided to stay by her king’s side whenever he was reminded of that time.
And she decided she could never become someone who would remind him of it.
She also gave her response to the previous Satomi Chancellor’s willpower.
“Everyone, carry your own willpower. And I want every last one of you – enemy or ally – to live and to win.”
“We are a group. We are not alone. We are all here because of our connection to someone, be it the person standing by our side, a classmate, our academy, or our nation. Even if you feel powerless, those connections will not leave you. You can keep living without needing to think about buying victory with your death.”
That was what the Satomi Chancellor had taught them.
They could not rely on heroes or geniuses and they could not reject them either.
…We all must work together and do what we can!
“If you are trying to sacrifice yourself or you insist that the battlefield is a place for you to die, then leave this place!”
Asama listened to Mitotsudaira’s words and turned toward Kimi’s bitter smile next to her.
Kimi leaned against Toori and rested her chin on his shoulder.
“My, my, foolish brother. Your knight is saying some bold things there. …Are those the kind of things you’re always thinking about? Are they?”
Asama saw him scratch his head. His cheeks were faintly flushed as Kimi watched him with eyes narrowed and lips smiling.
“Wait, no, no, no. Nate’s the one saying it, so I’m only telling her.”
That seemed to give away the answer right there and Kimi likely saw it too. She embraced his head from behind, pressed her cheek against his, and spoke.
“We will reclaim what was taken.”
That was the kind of life they had decided to live. And that may have been why…
She heard several voices. Everyone on the battlefield replied with that word.
Yoshiyasu heard the voices of everyone on the battlefield with her. It was not just Class Plum.
They were above the bay and headed toward the center of the Bousou Peninsula.
The starboard bow of their transport ship was a flurry of defense barriers opening. However…
On the current front line atop the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay, voices cried out as they charged.
The sound of collision reached her from across the bay and she could tell the enemy was being pushed back.
Of course, the enemy was not just going to take it. They were working to withdraw in a way that retrieved their freshmen while they fought back to slow the advance of the Musashi forces.
Everyone was desperate to fulfill their role.
The Musashi forces were clearing the area behind the Satomi forces and securing a front line.
The Hashiba forces were leaving some fighters behind while regrouping with their main forces on Bousou.
When viewed as the actions of nations, the Musashi forces were assisting the retaking of Satomi while securing Edo as their future home base.
Meanwhile, if the Hashiba forces lost Bousou, they would lose a Kantou foothold for suppressing Musashi.
Musashi was trying to grasp the future.
Hashiba was trying to stop Musashi’s future.
The future and the past. While Yoshiyasu considered that comparison, she suddenly thought of a certain boy.
She also thought deeply about her sister.
She was currently trying to reclaim the home of those two older leaders.
She was still no match for those two, but she wanted to work toward reaching their level someday.
And now those idiots had cleared the way for her to reach them.
Of course, this was all part of Musashi’s political plan. She was only allowed this because it was convenient to those plans.
That was why Musashi would also go to Nördlingen in accordance with their policy.
Musashi was Satomi’s guardian, but they were not Satomi’s sword or shield.
If they were traveling the same path, they would walk side by side. If they were walking different paths, they would help each other out until they absolutely had to part ways. But in either case, they would approve of each other’s destination.
Right now, they were securing a front line.
Once they finished with that, they would leave.
But, thought Yoshiyasu.
“The two of you are still a distant goal I can’t hope to reach.”
“I am certain this is what the two of you would have wanted me to do.”
Those two were so sociable and had so many friends, while I was so narrowminded and never branched out from those two, but at some point, I’ve built up relationships with more nations than they ever had and I’ve found so many people with whom I can share my goals.
I might never be like them, but…
She stopped thinking there. Because she had heard a familiar noise. It was…
“Enemy attack! Open defense barriers overhead to both port and starboard!!”
After that response from “Musashino”, the defense barriers opened like a ceiling covering the left and right sides of the ship.
Then two things happened.
Figures took curving approaches toward the ship from the left and right in the sky. They were…
“Gods of war!”
But these were not just any gods of war. Yoshiyasu recognized them. She knew this enemy arriving on a hit-and-away course.
“One of the Eight Dogs gods of war and a composite of them!?”
Naomasa could see the enemy.
Two gods of war flew swiftly in to attack the small transport ship.
They looked a lot like Yoshiyasu’s Righteousness and Yoshiyori’s Loyalty.
But while one of them looked normal enough, the other looked wrong. Its arms and legs seemed to match, but the silhouette of the torso and other parts did not fit. It was probably a collection of different parts, so…
…They must’ve added a hub or drop tank to force it to work!
Their original specs must have been quite high because they approached with acceleration the likes of which she had never seen.
Their own god of war unit’s counterattack tore into the enemy.
They were hit while moving at high speed. Sparks flew just off the ocean surface and pillars of water rose.
But the enemy looked up toward the attack, and…
The starboard unit had a sword cannon.
It could be used as a sword, but air could be compressed within the blade and fired as a shockwave cannon. Satomi Yoshiyori’s Loyalty had used a sword-shaped one, but this unit’s was machete shaped.
Naomasa saw Yoshiyasu’s expression change when she looked up from the deck and saw the enemy and their weapon.
“It can’t be…”
“Do you recognize them, Satomi Student Council President!”
“Judge! That is Integrity, the assault unit of the Eight Dogs that excelled at aerial combat and was piloted by our 3rd Special Duty Officer! And since it remains intact…”
Her next words came only after observing the way the god of war moved through the air.
“Masaki Tokishige!? You survived!?”
The enemy did not respond, but this told them one thing.
“The Satomi survivors have sided with Hashiba!”
There might be some annoying internal affairs at play there, so Naomasa wondered what she should do about that.
…No, it doesn’t matter right now!!
There was no time to think. Another enemy was approaching the port side. And that one had a unique shape.
That distorted shape came from using the parts of several Eight Dogs gods of war.
The misshapen craft raised both its arms and opened a spell sign frame between them.
Novice: “The god of war that fell into darkness’s grasp! Right, Satomi Student Council President!? Its name is Hell!”
“…the spell-specialist god of war Filial Piety!!”
Just as Yoshiyasu corrected Neshinbara, the enemy’s attack exploded out.
Suzu was honestly flustered.
The appearance of the enemies around the Satomi small transport ship had simply been that sudden.
She could see the general flow of events and most everyone was having an exciting time on the bridge. The bridge was half cleared of enemies at this point. And earlier…
Suzu had noticed something.
There was a ruined building at the center of the bridge. It stood tall like a tower and she had found a familiar presence there: Nagaoka Tadaoki.
He was alternately using two rifles to take aim and fire.
He was an enemy.
But he was carefully choosing what he would shoot before he took aim.
His sniper targets were not the captains and officers of the Musashi forces.
He was primarily targeting anyone who tried to further attack his withdrawing allies. He was prioritizing his allies over any possible credit.
…He really is a good person.
Bell: “Toori-kun, Toori-kun. Um, look at this.”
Me: “Eh? …Ohh, would you look at that. Pretty badass there, Nagabuto. Nice find, Bell-san.”
Asama: “Oh, that’s incredible, Suzu-san. Nice job noticing that.”
Wise Sister: “That’s right. Only Suzu could have noticed it. You don’t see talent like that every day. Heh heh.”
Bell: “N-no, not…me. Nagaoka…-kun.”
Me: “Yeah, we know.”
He had paused before continuing.
Me: “Time for our official bonus mission: Kidnap Nagabuto.”
“Judge!” they had all replied.
…Okay, this part…is going to be tough.
They really had to take the bridge and remove him from the top of that tower. But…
Me: “Thanks, Bell-san. We had a general idea of his location with Asama’s spell, but if we couldn’t find him, we would’ve had to leave after only helping out Flatty.”
“Right,” Suzu had said with a small nod.
That was when two giant humanoid forms had taken off from the bay coast.
They were the gods of war attacking the small transport ship.
They had appeared from the Bousou coast. Specifically from an enemy light warship landed in a position overlooking the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay.
She had assumed it was abandoned since it had not done anything this whole time, but she had been wrong.
And the gods of war flew really fast.
Suzu had created models, but they had unfortunately been on the west side of the bay where everyone else was. By the time she had frantically arrived at the small transport ship carrying the Satomi forces and tried to control its evasive action, the enemy gods of war were already right on it.
Suzu made a flustered decision.
“W-we’ll draw them…in and…dodge them!”
“Musashino” nodded. And…
“A rapid descent, correct? Then, Suzu-sama, give your instructions using that model. Over.”
“Musashino” looked her in the eye and answered her confused voice.
“We cannot judge the vaguer aspects such as how quickly they should descend. So, Suzu-sama, we will use the action you provide that model to guide the actual small transport ship. So go ahead. Over.”
Umm, she thought.
How was she supposed to make the ship rapidly descend?
After some hesitation, she placed her hand on the small transport ship model.
She gathered some strength and pushed it down so it would not float up. However…
That was apparently not quite what the bridge automatons had been expecting.
They all gave “Musashino” a look, so the automaton held out both hands in a “wait” gesture.
…Wh-what am I supposed to do?
“Suzu-sama. To be completely honest, that descent does not really qualify as ‘rapid’. Over.”
“Um, th-then…how should I do it?”
“Well, to use our statistical expressions, something with more of a ‘thud’ to it would likely be more welcome given the small transport ship’s situation. Over.”
Suzu said that while lightly tapping the top of the small transport ship, but “Musashino” brought a hand to her forehead.
“No, um, Suzu-sama, it is your hand movement that matters, not what you say. Hold it with your wrist held in place like this…oh, and it might be good to spread your legs to shoulder width. Yes, and then drop your hips straight down. Oh, yes, very good. That is exactly it, Suzu-sama. Go at it with all your strength like that, okay? Ready, set…go!”
She did so.
“Suzu-sama! Well done! Now that was a thud! Yes, I can practically hear the trailing ‘d’ lingering in the air, so I have determined it was a splendid attack. We have just received an order for a nice thud. It has arrived in our shared memory! Thank you very much! Thank you very much! Over.”
They applauded, but she was unsure if she had really done that right.
Yoshiyasu felt the small transport ship take evasive action by “dropping with a thud”.
The virtual ocean rising to the ship’s waterline had transformed.
Instead of disappearing, it had flipped upside-down.
“You can do that!?”
The virtual ocean was created by the emblems placed on the surface and inside of the armor panels. Generally, aerial ships were only installed with that kind of armor up to the waterline. Especially with transport ships.
Smoking Girl: “We wrap the ocean vertically around our ships to support them from above, right? So our ships can do this.”
347: “That’s right. Musashi’s transport ships are a different beast. The Testament Union ordered us to apply emblem processing to all of our armor because we might be attacked by other nations.”
Smoking Girl: “And you only learned that recently yourself when you came to Musashi.”
“You didn’t have to mention that!” protested Mishina while Yoshiyasu chose to trust in the rapid descent.
“Maintain this descent! Drop us to the bay’s surface!”
The virtual ocean hopped up into the sky around them. That ether ocean sprayed into the air.
…Can we dodge it!?
Just as she wondered that, the god of war attacks from either side burst through and split the virtual ocean that stood up like canyon walls.
But the two of them crossed paths in midair and passed by with ether shards surrounding them.
At the same time, the transport ship slammed its belly into the bay without lowering its speed.
For the span of a breath, the air caught between the ship and the sea gently carried the transport ship, but it did not last long. The sound of exploding wind rang from below the ship on either side and the bottom of the ship entered the water.
The ocean resisted as if rising up around them and that slowed the small transport ship.
The structures atop the ship groaned, and everything on and in the ship was nearly blasted toward the bow.
The ship began to tilt as if pitching forward. At this rate, either the bow would pierce the water or it would fail to pierce the water and the impact to the bow would crush the ship.
But Yoshiyasu saw Musashi’s god of war unit make their move.
The Suzaku and the other three leaped to stern and positioned themselves in the air.
The Musashi was a giant transport ship that spent almost all of its time airborne. Countless transport ships flew all around it on a daily basis. And gods of war had to move between those ships. Even when they had no flight devices.
The way those four leaped made it clear they had predicted the descent of the ship.
And as if to say this kind of ship movement was perfectly normal for them…
On the Suzaku’s instructions, the four gods of war grabbed the jib crane hooks hanging from the mast.
Then they landed on the very edge of the stern. The ship shook with a great roar as it started to tilt forward, so…
The four gods of war planted their heels on the edge of the stern and leaned into the space behind the ship. Their hands held the hooks and hardened hemp cables they had pulled from the crane.
“Show ‘em what you can do!”
The four activated their arm motors. The Far East’s unique gravitational control rails overheated and smoked. The ship’s forward tilt did lose momentum, but it did not stop.
“Give it 120%!!”
Just then, the dodged enemy shells fell into the sea on either side of them.
They were near the middle of the ship and their blasts pushed up on the ship from below.
The god of war unit’s hiking pulled the bow from the sea all at once.
Of course, it had lost the momentum needed to move forward with any kind of speed, but the stern bounced once on the ocean.
The ship hopped forward while seemingly leaning backwards.
To preserve the ship’s positioning, the gods of war and everyone else moved forward. The god of war unit used the mast hook cables to fly through the air like pendulums. And while doing that, Naomasa shouted into the sky.
The Suzaku emitted her voice and it received a definite response via divine transmission.
That was enough.
Water sprayed all around the ship. And it sprayed from top to bottom instead of upside-down like before.
The transport ship’s full weight was supported by the virtual ocean created thickly up to the waterline.
At the same time, the upside-down ocean that had existed on either side of the ship shattered into light.
The small transport ship moved forward as if shaking off the canyon walls of breaking ether light.
Shortly thereafter, the god of war unit landed on the deck and quickly picked up the long cannons they had placed there in advance. They took seated firing poses to aim for Bousou from the bow, and…
Smoking Girl: “We dodged it! Give a word of thanks to the Testament Union while launching those bullets!”
They immediately fired on the two gods of war fleeing toward Bousou.
Yoshiyasu listened to that cannon fire while thinking about everything the ship had just done.
…Give a word of thanks to the Testament Union, huh?
That was exactly right.
Having Musashi apply emblem processing to the full surface of their transport ships had to have been a way for the Testament Union to place an undue burden on the Far East and Musashi.
Yet here it had come in handy.
The god of war unit fired and the two leaving gods of war turned back to raise their defenses.
Those two who whizzed past each other on the way to Bousou were based on Filial Piety and Integrity. Their specialties had made them both frontline fighters among the Eight Dogs.
She could confidently say that they were more powerful than her Righteousness.
Those two would be her enemy here. But…
Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer spoke to her via divine transmission.
“Let me handle that one on the left! Integrity!”
Me: “Hey, isn’t Flatty the type who won’t get it if you don’t explain? She doesn’t get by in life on nothing but guesses like we do. Right, Sis?”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. That’s right! You need to stop eating all the time and do some studying, Yoshy!”
Righteousness: “Don’t join the conversation after just guessing what we were talking about!!”
Asama: “Um, Toori-kun? Kimi? We don’t get by on nothing but guesses either. It’s just that most of us do and say things that are difficult to explain using logic.”
Gold Mar: “And what makes you so sure you’re not one of those?”
Their cannibalism had begun.
Yoshiyasu decided saying much of anything in the chat would only drag her into it, so she sighed. She began to talk while listening to the artillery battle in the distant southern sky and the clash on the northern bridge.
“6th Special Duty Officer, why is that?”
“Judge,” said the girl directly rather than via divine transmission. “I just remembered something about when I first got Suzaku so long ago.” She added “honestly” while covering her face with her prosthetic hand. “I woke up one morning to find some nation’s transport ship had crashed in Takeda territory where our village was. Its cargo had been scattered across 70km. The transport ship had flown in from P.A. Oda, so Takeda did not want to make any careless actions and P.A. Oda was watching over it all. So people interested in such things gathered from all over and made off with the cargo.”
“And that’s how you got the Suzaku?”
“It was hard to judge its quality as a god of war. It was almost entirely dismantled, so everyone assumed it was just the spare parts for the work heavy gods of war loaded on the transport ship. I figured I could get it working by the time I entered high school and use it to expand the village’s cultivated land after I graduated.”
“One of the fallen parts was too badly damaged to salvage and had to be thrown out. At the time, I assumed it was a multi-binder that attached to the hips to help carry things.”
“Was it a flight device?”
“Judge,” confirmed the 6th Special Duty Officer. “A portion of the design data from the scattered parts made its way to Satomi, didn’t it? That would explain the flight device I saw Integrity using there.”
“There are some made for female gods of war, but I bet they’re based on the Suzaku’s.”
Yoshiyasu did not know how to respond to what the 6th Special Duty Officer said.
She could not bring herself to say “I see” or “understood”, but a thought did come to mind.
…I’m not the only one.
Satomi was a small nation. Its leaders and citizens had been almost entirely separated, but there was still someone here with a connection there.
This was probably as important to the 6th Special Duty Officer as the retaking of Satomi was to Yoshiyasu.
She carried the past with her.
Yoshiyasu tried to figure out what to say to someone like that and then it came to her.
She simply had to show what connection they had here.
So this is what she said:
“Then take care of it.”
That was all.
What the 6th Special Duty Officer wanted to do and what Yoshiyasu wanted were aligned, but Yoshiyasu had much, much more she had to do for herself. So instead of taking what that other girl had to do…
“I’m counting on you.”
She worried saying it like that was making it too convenient for herself.
But the 6th Special Duty Officer looked down at her from the Suzaku’s shoulder. Even in the darkness, Yoshiyasu could see the smile in the narrow eyes glimpsed between the fingers covering her face.
“I want to study that flight device along with the Eight Dogs. …Wait for the results, underclassman.”
That’s right, thought Yoshiyasu. They were walking the same path here.
…Yes, I’m the same as the Musashi group here.
She was the same as that group who were helping with the Kantou Liberation but also headed to Nördlingen to follow their beliefs. She was guiding Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer but still prioritizing the personal goal of retaking Satomi.
They were the same.
She took a breath atop the transport ship that had turned its course toward north Bousou.
…I need to do this right.
She felt all sorts of meaningless reassurance surrounding her tonight. And just then…
She heard a voice.
It came from near the center of the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay to their north.
It was a bestial roar.
An obvious wolf cry traveled through the night air and across the bay.
Mitotsudaira viewed her enemy.
#8 of the Ten Spears. A werewolf girl with black hair.
But Mitotsudaira saw and heard something odd.
It was Kasuya’s howl.
She did not know why, but as Kasuya turned her throat toward the sky…
An extended “oo” followed.
However, this howl was not very loud. As something more like a flute, it quietly pierced the air and reverberated as a definite howl.
They were on the battlefield. They had arrived on the front line as the flow of battle continued.
But the black wolf extinguished her voice at the center of that fighting.
That quiet cry sounded like she wanted to continue forever if the breath would have kept coming from her throat, but she suddenly ended it.
Mitotsudaira saw the black wolf staring right back at her.
However, she saw something in those eyes directed her way.
Weak and almost blank-looking eyes looked her way.
Almost like she wanted to say Mitotsudaira’s previous words had been a lie.
While Mitotsudaira returned the look, Kasuya Takenori’s expression changed. Her mouth twisted, her eyebrows shook, and her eyes grew damp. Those were tears.
But Kasuya hung her head. Her fang-like row of bangs swayed down and her arms lowered.
This time, the howl continued with an extended “ah” and Mitotsudaira knew what that meant: battle.
The girl had made some kind of decision.
Mitotsudaira’s slap must have reminded the black wolf of something, but she had made up her mind and chosen to continue fighting. And…
…Here she comes!
She used a burst of acceleration at close range.
Mitotsudaira picked back up the mandible sword with a Silver Chain and then grabbed it.
As soon as her right grasped its grip, the enemy lightly pulled her body back as if nodding. Both her arms launched three silver nails.
Mitotsudaira belatedly realized those were the same as her Silver Chains.
The crosses on the black wolf’s arms were supply devices.
Mitotsudaira did not know that much about the werewolf species, but perhaps each family had a silver weapon or even one of the weapons with its origin in Joan of Arc.
She hoped she would have a chance to ask about it once the battle was over. But…
She made her own a burst of acceleration. And a moment later …
Her attack intersected with the approaching enemy’s attack.
Or it should have.
The next thing Mitotsudaira knew, she was looking at two black surfaces: the night sky and the night bay.
At some point, she had been thrown into the air.
Kasuya all of a sudden found herself in the air. And she had likely been thrown such that she would flip two or three times.
…U-um, when did this happen!?
She had no idea why her vision was flipping around like this and she could not figure out which of the two black surfaces she saw was the sky and which was the sea. Before she could figure it out, she felt like the deeper black one was approaching.
She chose to trust that that one was “down”. She somewhat spread her arms, thrust them out ahead, and pulled her knees forward. And…
She used the fluttering of her hair to determine which way she was rotating. Then she moved her full body weight in that direction.
Immediately afterwards, she landed arms first.
…On the bridge!
Landing on all fours meant hitting her knees, but she felt more relief than pain. And the surrounding noise returned to her ears.
She was on the front line, so she was surrounded by a cacophony of pounding footsteps and clashing weapons.
But when she hurried to her feet, she found two figures ahead of her.
One was curled up as if sleeping in midair.
He had silver hair, he wore an Hexagone Française boys uniform, and he looked like a skinny boy.
Behind where he floated in the air, a woman had both her arms somewhat spread and raised.
Kasuya realized what had happened: this woman had thrown her and the silver wolf into the air.
She had intervened in the moment of their clash and tossed the boy she was holding into the air. Then, all in the time he remained airborne, she had tugged on the black and silver wolves’ attacking hands to knock them off balance and sent them flying.
Even after knocking them off balance, it was far from normal to fling them into the air just by grabbing their hands like that.
But now the woman caught the boy she had tossed up, held him tight, and took a breath.
Kasuya knew the name of this woman whose great quantity of golden hair swayed around her.
“The Reine des Garous!”
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