Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 41
Chapter 41: Interceptor in the Wild
When the clang of interception rings out
You are not alone
Point Allocation (Pierce and Stab)
Kani used every single Sasamura.
This was clearly not an opponent she could handle by focusing on just one or two of them. She had to be using all of them at all times while predicting the enemy’s actions as much as possible.
Currently, she could only eject the seven less-damaged ones.
None of them had managed to reach the Musashi Vice Chancellor, but she felt they were necessary here.
Sasamura was currently set to provide powerful impacts. But…
…They were deflected!?
She felt like this had to be some special something-or-other that nonhumans had. And that something-or-other reflected Sasamura’s impacts.
Wow! she thought. There are kinds of strength out there I don’t even understand!
The Reine des Garous was Hexagone Française’s Vice Chancellor.
However, her strength was entirely different from the Musashi Vice Chancellor that Kani had fought earlier.
Her strength was also different from Mogami Chancellor Yoshiaki.
This was an incredible experience.
Kani smiled at the bristling emotion filling her heart.
…I need to do my best!
If she did that, she could see even more. She could experience more of these ridiculous forms of strength. And she could make herself stronger and gain more stories to tell her parents and the others back home.
This is so cool! she thought. There was so much she could gain by fighting so many Chancellor and Vice Chancellor level fighters in a little over a day.
She could barely believe any of it was happening, so everyone back home might not believe it either. But…
“It’s all true!!”
She swung her hands in the air to send out a combination of blows.
Those blows tore through the fog approaching Kasuya and eliminated the wolves there with metallic sounds.
She broke them.
And she considered the skill of this upperclassman named Kasuya.
Kani had only managed to return here thanks to Kasuya’s strength.
It was Kasuya’s attacks that had created a wave-like difference in density within the fog. Kani had only needed to slice through the fog with her attacks while running down the path created by the density differences.
But there were still some dangerous areas and Kasuya was taking on the densest of those.
Her attack power was impressive, but so was her ability to endure the pressure.
Kani could see why she was a member of the Ten Spears just like Fukushima.
“Kasuya! I’m here to help!”
“Does your weapon have divine protections applied!?”
“It does! The other upperclassmen applied them before I came here!”
“The other upperclassmen?”
Sasamura was meant to provide physical blows. She did not install ether interference spells for spell destruction unless she knew she would be fighting an ether species.
But this was different.
“The ones who had already withdrawn! They asked me to help you out since you saved all of them!”
Kasuya did not look back in response.
But Kani felt like she saw a smile on the one cheek that was angled toward her enough to see. And…
“Testament! What is it!?”
“Could you please fill in the gaps? I will not demand that you do it. Because…”
“Testament! I will do my best! I’m good at doing my best!”
“That is what I like to hear. So…”
Kasuya swung her left arm.
The shield on that arm transformed with the sound of scraping metal.
It returned to its drill form just like the right one.
She had abandoned defense in order to double her attack power. So to make up for that…
“I need to do my best!”
The black wolf did not give a verbal response.
Instead, she swung her arms and brought destruction to the enemy.
The Reine des Garous saw the enemy breaking through her manifestation of fear.
Her “devouring” created an impenetrable fog that swallowed people up and her “seduction” filled them with resignation so they would let it happen. Yet these two girls were not being devoured and felt no resignation as they charged through it all.
They were good fighters. In the past, she had run across similar youths who hoped to be a hero or at least acted like it. They had come at her as an individual, in a small group, or sometimes in a full army.
Of course, she had not been in this spirit-like state back then and her barrier had not been this thick.
But modern equipment and techniques had not existed back then.
Humanity had a way of increasing their overall combat techniques whenever they found themselves in a crisis. And sure enough…
“The Warring States period and the Thirty Years’ War seems to have worked well in that regard.”
Two figures were rushing toward her within the current of fog.
One was the black wolf from before and the other was the girl who had watched the Reine des Garous’s ping pong game against Mogami Yoshiaki. That girl had also fought the Musashi Vice Chancellor earlier.
This teamwork reminded the Reine des Garous of her daughter.
…My daughter got help from a friend for the finishing blow, didn’t she?
These girls were the same.
They already had what had been so hard for the Reine des Garous to acquire.
“Let’s do this!”
Strength and technique were not the only ways to resist a great power.
These two subconsciously understood that as they resisted.
How lucky they were.
They were not solitary or restricted to a single pack like with an animal. These two were not part of the same pack, yet when they saw the need, they used their strengths to make up for the other’s weaknesses.
“They work together. Hee hee.”
The Reine des Garous laughed.
Because she was the same now.
The Siege of Odawara had primarily been fought with individual duels, but she was doing things differently tonight.
She had been left in charge of this area as someone halfway between Mouri and Musashi.
She had comrades, allies, and family behind her waiting for her results.
In the big picture, the Mouri fleet, the Satomi forces, and she were acting as diversions for each other while attempting to accomplish something.
…This is nice.
She was acting as an individual, but she was not alone. So she had one thing to say.
“Show me what you can do.”
Mitotsudaira hurried through the expanding ether forest with the others.
She could hear the deep and carrying sounds of battle coming from beyond the dark blue shadows of the forest.
She hurried forward while her father sat on the stage the Silver Chains had created behind her. Narumi ran up alongside her without Unturning Centipede on and Urquiaga was with her.
When her father saw the two of them…
“Are you Nate’s friends?”
Mitotsudaira was a little worried about how they would respond, but Narumi gave a quick nod and answered.
“It is a pleasure to meet you.”
…A safe answer, but a good one!
Naito or Naruze would probably have made some kind of joke that would only lead to misunderstandings. Naomasa probably would have said “Huh!?” which was an even more frightening thought.
But what scared her most of all was her king. She knew for a fact he would have said “No, I’m her king!”, but her father would use that to start a conversation that would reach some dangerous areas real fast. She was glad she had gotten that initial meeting out of the way the other night.
But her father seemed satisfied with Narumi’s response.
“Thank you,” he said with a smile before facing forward.
Then Narumi continued the conversation.
“Prince of Condé.”
Mitotsudaira was curious what she was going to say.
“How could someone defeat the Reine des Garous in that state?”
Uqui: “Well done, Narumi. Her husband would be the most reliable source.”
Wise Sister: “My, my. Such a cement-like girl. I almost feel bad for Mitotsudaira. Heh heh heh.”
Silver Wolf: “I didn’t miss those last three words, you know!?”
Me: “So is it even possible to beat maman when she’s like this?”
Asama: “Well, she does have a bit of a weakness. Or one should have been added to her.”
Unturning: “I would love to hear what that is.”
Asama: “Right now, Mito’s mom is in a state very similar to a spirit, but that means her physical body is very thin. So…”
Me: “So she’s all see-through!? Oh, sorry. Ignore that overly serious look on my face right now.”
Asama: “Um, she is a lot like a data entity right now, so her entire body – clothes included – should be see through. It is possible that her clothes and body would have different levels of transparency or that we could see her internal organs through her, but that really comes down to how she views herself as a data entity.”
Me: “What does that mean?”
Asama: “It means you aren’t going to get what you were hoping for, Toori-kun.”
Me: “Are you mad?”
Asama: “N-nooo, I’m not. But I do think you need the usual, so I will be telling Horizon about this later.”
Silver Wolf: “I-isn’t that a bit much, Tomo!?”
Mar-Ga: “We’re talking about your mom here.”
Asama: “Kimi, I’m not mad, so stop dancing around singing about jealousy. Anyway, um, the point is that Mito’s mom is somewhat physically unstable right now.”
Silver Wolf: “Are you talking about the fog she has around her?”
Asama: “I think you should be able to do that yourself, Mito. …But until her conversion to a physical body is complete, her strength, physical durability, and speed will be reduced from normal by the special traits of that fog. …What is it, Adele?”
Flat Vassal: “If this is the reduced version, then how physically strong is she with her normal body?”
Silver Wolf: “I-it’s best not to think about it! Now, we need to hurry to the front line!”
I see, thought Narumi.
She was pretty sure she mostly could tear through the barrier if she used Paths of Countless Hundreds’s compression twice. It would take a truly stupid opponent to let her hit with that twice, but she was confident she could do it once.
So afterwards, she only needed to use Countless Hundreds of Paths or several mandible swords in quick succession to manually break through the rest.
For the battle after that, she would have to remember that Unturning Centipede was primarily made for physical attacks. It did have some defenses from special spells like lightning resistance, but she would need to include some special settings to deal with that “fear” which was essentially a raw ether attack. And she needed to gather data to make sure she got those settings right. That would require others to go in first as if sacrificing themselves.
Facing the Reine des Garous in this form seemed little different from facing the Seiryu. To sum it up…
…What a pain.
“In that case,” she said. “Kiyonari.”
Forcibly restraining the Reine des Garous in a direct attack would be a huge pain, so she decided to look at this differently.
“I know how to cook curry and the rules to ping pong. Which one do you think would be faster and less of a pain?”
“Wouldn’t it be easier to let Mitotsudaira handle it?”
Narumi turned toward Mitotsudaira running alongside them and raised her right hand.
“You heard him.”
Silver Wolf: “What!? What was that about!? Are your brains breaking!?”
Asama: “You’re in luck, Mito. Toori-kun can teach you how to make curry.”
Me: “Yeah, but I can never beat sis at ping pong.”
Wise Sister: “Well, if you insist, I can help you practice using the same rules I use with my foolish brother: remove an article of clothing after each set.”
Gold Mar: “Aren’t those the rules that brought Adele to her knees after she was so confidant she could win?”
Flat Vassal: “I-I’m a lot better than I was in middle school!”
Mar-Ga: “Sounds like she’s setting herself up to lose again three years later. …Okay, Mitotsudaira, will it be curry or ping pong? That will change what I have to draw, so let me know soon.”
Silver Wolf: “Have you all forgotten they’re fighting over there!?”
Kasuya clashed with the Reine des Garous.
She received Kani’s support while rapidly moving herself side to side and sending out a drill wherever she saw an opening.
Each attack was powerful enough to bring down a city wall.
The wolf danced.
She swung her arms, bathed in the ether light pouring down from the trees of the forest, sometimes moved into the shadows, and kept her dance steps going in the night. She occasionally lightly grabbed her skirt and swung it around.
Her dancing hand and body movements worked to deflect Kasuya’s attacks.
She supposedly existed as something similar to fog.
A blow from Argent Clou’s cross drill should have been enough to scatter her, but she must have already gained a physical body because she deflected the weapon with a solid noise and spun around.
And that was not all.
The same happened to Kani’s cowling spears. Kani had been rapid-fire launching them without rest this whole time and she was targeting the Reine des Garous while scattering the fog around her, but they were all deflected by the woman’s dance.
How was she doing this?
After a few of her blows were deflected, Kasuya understood what she was feeling in the moment of deflection.
She used the tactile feedback to determine what this was.
“She’s spinning them, isn’t she!?”
Kani understood what Kasuya meant while she wiped the sweat from her brow.
It was the fog.
The Reine des Garous was sending her fingers of barely-physical fog crawling across the drills and cowling spears.
It was like wrapping the thread around a top. Once it was in place, only a snap of the wrist was needed to briefly stop their attacks for just a moment. It should not have mattered since she was made of fog, but the instantaneous recoil was so intense that it deflected their attacks.
But was it really possible to touch all of her rapid-fire attacks and redirect them like that?
This opponent was in fact doing it.
She was Hexagone Française’s Vice Chancellor. And she was also the leader of the Loup-Garous, so she would be more powerful than Kasuya here.
But battles were not decided by those kinds of titles. In fact, at the Siege of Odawara…
“Curry! You can beat the Reine des Garous with curry!”
“Like, throw it at her!?”
“I will beat you up if you do something that rude.”
“That would be rude, wouldn’t it, Reine des Garous!? See, Kasuya!? You shouldn’t waste food!”
“Why is our enemy joining our conversation!?”
At any rate, that told Kani that curry was not an option.
She did not have time to explain to Kasuya, so…
“Ping pong! You can beat the Reine des Garous with ping pong!”
“Like, throw the balls at her!?”
“I will beat you up if you break the rules like that.”
“That would be against the rules, wouldn’t it, Reine des Garous!? See, Kasuya!? You should follow the rules!”
“Why am I being lectured here for no reason!?”
That told Kani that ping pong was also not an option.
She did not have time to explain the rules to Kasuya.
…And Yoshiaki-sama is a Chancellor, so it makes sense she could beat a Vice Chancellor like the Reine des Garous!
That left just one option for them:
“Let’s do our best!”
They had to figure something out on their own.
So Kani went for it while her sweat scattered into the air.
“Let’s beat her on our own!”
Kasuya responded to that while leaping up and forward.
“Testament! That was my plan from the start!”
She went for it too.
She moved forward with a burst of acceleration. There was one thing she needed to do.
Her own attacks had been deflected this whole time, but it was now time to do the deflecting herself.
She had both cross drills rotate inwards.
She sent them in and they were deflected.
Like usual, there was a loud noise and her arms were nearly knocked outwards, but…
“Bear with it!”
Her arms strained and an unpleasant floating feeling reached the underside of her shoulder blades, but she sent her arms in the opposite direction with a burst of acceleration without even wiping off the sweat soaking her.
She returned her arms back the way they had come.
Her fists reached her shoulders, so she immediately threw them out in front of her.
She unleased a combo.
Of course, each individual strike was deflected by the Reine des Garous, but Kasuya restrained all of the impacts with bursts of acceleration.
Her arms started to widen at first, but the more she did it…
…the more they moved together.
She would strike and then return her elbows to their original position as soon as the attack was deflected.
She used bursts of acceleration both for the attacks and to keep her arms in position.
…A high-speed combo!
Kasuya pushed on.
Her body cried out in protest as the impacts rang loud, but the black wolf moved forward.
She was deflected, but in exchange for some bursts of acceleration, some exhaustion, and some straining, she suppressed those deflections and advanced.
As strong as the Reine des Garous’s deflecting power was, she was essentially made of fog right now. Kasuya could resist strength of this level.
So she pushed on. She breathed heavily and swung her entire body around to leap in toward the Reine des Garous.
And she struck.
In that instant, the Reine des Garous took a certain action.
Until then, she had been spinning her body as if dancing, but now…
She made a light step to stop facing straight ahead.
“Did you want to take my hand?”
She accepted Kasuya’s counterattacks with both hands.
A deafening noise rang out.
Kasuya had made two strikes simultaneously and the Reine des Garous had worked to deflect both at once.
…That was a nice combo.
The woman gave that assessment while reaching out and lightly spreading the fingers of her outstretched hands.
Her hands touched the launched cross drills.
And deflected them outwards. The drills were briefly stopped, threw sparks into the air, and…
Something was deflected from the outer edge of her hands.
There were four things.
Two were the silver cross towers that had been equipped on Kasuya’s arms. The two of them had been purged from the girl’s arms and thrown into the air.
The Reine des Garous had not torn them away. Kasuya had removed them herself in the instant of deflection.
…I bet I know why she did that.
Until now, Kasuya had used a burst of acceleration upon deflection to put up a powerful resistance.
That was why the Reine des Garous had used both hands to intercept her this time.
But Kasuya had prepared a trick up her sleeve.
Even as she attacked with the cross drills, she had stopped resisting the deflection in any way.
It was obvious what she had gained by abandoning her weapons: the other two things that had flown out from the Reine des Garous’s hands.
Those were her two arms which were no longer attached to the targets of deflection.
Simply put, the Reine des Garous’s defense had failed.
Kasuya saw her trick succeed.
The Queen’s arms were not spread wide, but they were spread a little, like she was carrying some flowers.
…So it all comes down to this!
Kasuya left her fighting stance, turned to the side, and lowered her hips.
She left as much space on either side of her as she could while yelling a single word.
A moment later, something was ejected forward from behind her on either side.
They were cowling spears. Three shot by her on either side to reach the Reine des Garous’s arms.
Kani realized this was the key moment.
She pushed her hands forward along with her arms to control Sasamura’s ejection.
She used both speed and precision to aim for the Reine des Garous’s arms.
She did not target the center of their opponent’s body.
Those spread arms would soon return to their original position. Seeing that nonhuman wife ping pong game was enough for Kani to grasp this woman’s speed.
This enemy would never do what she expected, so first…
…I have to stop her arms!
She slammed the spears into them.
They hit. However…
She saw something frightening.
The spears had been launched with almost zero time lag after Kasuya’s attack, but the Reine des Garous moved to grab them.
And she was already eliminating the outward motion given to her arms by Kasuya’s attack.
She used a burst of acceleration.
Kasuya had worked so hard to learn how to return her arms to the center like that, but this monster managed it in a split-second adlib.
But Kani’s spears had a power of their own.
A total of six sounds of impact rang out as they reached the Reine des Garous’s arms. They sounded like the loud notes produced by throwing wind instruments at someone. There were enough impacts to disturb the Reine des Garous’s acceleration, so…
…I slowed her down!
And she was not going to let it end here.
It was only for a moment, but she had stopped the Reine des Garous’s arms.
But that was not the same as getting an attack in on her.
To get a definite strike in, she had to aim for the center point between those spread arms.
She had one cowling spear left.
However, her own arms were spread.
She could launch the spear like this, but she could not control it without her hand.
Even if she did send it out, it would be moving slowly enough for the Reine des Garous to have time to return her arms to normal.
But Kani still decided to do it.
She launched her final spear directly ahead of her.
Kani heard the acceleration and saw the cowling spear split the air as it was launched.
The Reine des Garous was already moving in response. She made a new burst of acceleration to try and grab the spear coming for the center of her body.
If she caught it, it meant they had lost, so Kani raised her voice to keep that from happening.
Reach her, my will.
“Do your best!”
Her shout raced through the ether forest to reach a black form.
The black wolf had crouched down while turned to the side, but she now sprang back up.
She used a burst of acceleration. Plus, her standing up, the arm she raised behind her, and every other movement was part of a single action.
“You did exactly what I predicted you would!”
She said that while taking a javelin-throwing stance.
The sequence involved springing up, swinging her arm, and throwing her entire body forward with a snapping motion.
The black wolf poured her bursts of acceleration into every part of it to grab and throw the cowling spear.
She did not hesitate to aim for the face.
Not bad at all, judged the Reine des Garous.
Bearing with pain, making feints, and performing multiple simultaneous attacks were all human techniques.
And the trust-based coordination produced by those things was also distinctly human.
That this girl had aimed for the face was especially wonderful.
The Reine des Garous was in an uncertain state similar to fog, so aiming for her torso would not do any real damage. That part of her would be scattered and then be remade.
But things were different if she lost her head.
At the very least, she would lose the ability to think clearly and she would lose her senses of sight and smell.
She would not cease to exist, but she would have to regenerate herself from the ground up.
Of course, the face was one of the first areas one considered when it came to dodging, but that was not so easy with her arms temporarily stopped. She had fixed her central body in place to accelerate those arms back to their normal position.
The enemy had made no mistake in their split-second decision.
It was wonderful.
Those two were using their relationship as comrades to fight appropriately against a beast. And one of them had werewolf blood.
The Reine des Garous had once considered dying to eliminate the werewolf species, but she could now tell how much that emotionally-driven action had been about self-satisfaction.
Even if she was destroyed, there would still be more werewolves and they would even work with people who had been her enemy.
Should she thank her precious husband for her change of heart? Or should she thank her daughter who was the first evidence of it? Or should she thank these enemies here? Or…
“This is such a fantastic night.”
“It is fine if I give myself a compliment, isn’t I?”
Kani saw the spear on course for a direct hit.
She could tell Kasuya was letting go of Sasamura’s shaft.
Kasuya even used a burst of acceleration on each finger holding it to thoroughly accelerate it to the very end.
But the Reine des Garous worked to resist even an attack with that much speed.
Her arms were still not back in place and she should not have been able to move her body, but…
There was still something she could move: her chest.
She leaned back for a bounce of her chest. It was not so much a jiggle as a…
Kani could not help but think of it in term of sound effects, so she decided she should try to read less manga.
But the next term that came to mind was a dangerous one.
…Was that the Giant Breasts Defense!?
She had heard of this before.
When Fukushima and Massive Katou had attacked Mito, the Musashi Chancellor’s sister had blocked Fukushima’s attack with the Giant Breasts Defense. But if that was what this was…
“That isn’t high enough!”
Kasuya had already accounted for this.
…Oh, I get it!
Aiming for the face had also been a way of avoiding the Giant Breasts Defense.
Kani realized that the records of Fukushima’s battles had laid the foundation for this.
…The Ten Spears are incredible!
AnG: “What’s wrong, Kime-chan?”
Kimee: “Well, we’re receiving the battle records in real time, but…how should I put this? Um, Kasuya has, well…hmm. It’s not a bad thing, but I’m not so sure about this. Or maybe, hmm…”
AnG: “Kime-chan, it’s best not to think about these things too much.”
The Giant Breasts Defense was not going to reach the attack. That much was certain.
So Kasuya raised her voice while sending the final acceleration into the shaft using her index finger.
“Our attack will reach you!”
She looked up to see the spear and the bottom of the enemy’s bouncing chest.
What she saw there seemed like it should not have been possible. It was a miracle the woman could manage any footwork or make downward attacks.
But then Kasuya heard a voice. It was Kani’s.
It was going to hit.
Kani had seen it.
When the Reine des Garous’s boyoinging breasts rose to their peak and fell back down, something floated up from the cleavage.
The movement of her breasts had tossed it upwards. The airborne object was silver and boxy.
“It’s the silver cross!!”
The Reine des Garous caught the spear on the silver cross box she had essentially pressed against her forehead.
But she could use the full strength of her body. She could not move it side to side, but she could move it forward or back. So…
She was capable of jumping into a spring without producing a splash, so she could stop that swift spear as long as she had something to act as a barrier.
So that was what she did.
She bent back and absorbed the force with her head.
She twisted her forehead a bit to sweep the cowling spear behind her after it started to dig into the silver cross.
Then she shook her head.
“Pierce them, silver cross.”
With those words, the cross opened up and she bit the shorter segment between her teeth.
The silver cross cannon had gained the momentum of the spear, so it was trying to move backwards, so she bit the shorter segment and swung it forward.
…To cock it.
The rest was simple. She swung the bitten cross forward as if dragging it through the air. And…
She used it like a pile bunker.
She sent a blast with a diameter of 15m toward the enemy.
The striking blast made of ether was released in an instant.
It expanded just as quickly as an explosion.
But the Reine des Garous saw something just before it struck and blew away the enemy.
She saw more people.
Those people rushed through the forest and leaped between her two enemies and the blast.
They were Hashiba warriors.
Some were boys and some girls, some were unharmed and some injured, some were novices and some experienced.
“Show you’ve got the guts to arrive in the nick of time!”
They used bodily strengthening spells to run, they activated defense spells, and they moved in between.
Of course, most of them did not arrive in time. They were too late and were simply hit by the blast. But a few did arrive in time.
“Focus on defense!”
The barriers they readied were destroyed by the impact.
The silver cross was a divine weapon. And a high level one at that.
Mass-produced defense spells could not defend against this ether impact. The barriers were instantly blown away by the difference in ether density.
Even so, they took defensive stances.
“Brace for impact!”
They crossed their arms in front of them to resemble crosses, they turned their hips to the side, and they adjusted the direction and angle of their body by swinging a leg behind them.
The attack hit.
The expanding blast easily blew away the warriors taking low defensive stances.
The dry sound of straining bones and the deep noise of struck flesh rang out simultaneously from several different people.
Their defensive formation collapsed, but their formation had somewhat slowed the expansion of the blast, allowing Kasuya and Kani to fall back at the urging of the others.
That had been the correct choice.
Because something was flying in the air on either side of Kasuya: Argent Clou’s cross towers.
Kasuya grabbed both of them out of the air and did not bother to properly equip them.
“We made it in time!!”
She moved forward with them both in shield mode. She spread out her arms and threw herself toward the blast.
The first year was breathing heavily and practically coughed out the words as she pushed on Kasuya’s back. And…
The two Argent Clou shields produced clangs of interception against the silver cross attack.
AnG: “Are they dead?”
Kimee: “Angie, don’t just come out and say it.”
AnG: “Then I’ll say it euphemistically. …Did Kanitama reach her expiration date?”
Kimee: “What about for Kasuya?”
AnG: “Did she become a dog?”
Black Wolf: “I did not!”
AnG: “Sorry, I’ll find a better way of saying it. …And wait, you’re alive!? How!?”
Kanitama: “By doing our best!”
AnG: “FYI, Kanitama, if you write that in your report, the higher ups will not be happy. You should’ve seen how mad they were when Angie just used the word ‘skill’ as an explanation in one of hers.”
Kanitama: “Okay! I’ll do my best!”
AnG: “I’m kinda worried…”
Kani viewed their situation.
She was on the front line.
She was in the ether forest and she could see Kasuya’s back in front of her.
The Argent Clou shields were gone. The cross towers were now emitting ether light mist like smoke.
Around them, some of the others were still in their defensive stances and others had collapsed. Some had lowered their hips to catch their breath but could not get back up.
But they had all stopped moving.
They were all looking straight ahead.
The Reine des Garous was there.
Space had opened up between them, so there was about 20m there now.
But not because the Reine des Garous had fallen back. It was obvious this was due to her tearing up the forest ground toward them.
The silver cross’s blast had caused them to pull back. And…
“This battle is over, isn’t it?” she said while wiggling her animal ears.
Kani knew what that meant.
Two things were visible below the ground torn up by the silver cross’s blast.
The original ground was split between two varieties in between them.
On the Reine des Garous’s side, it was a floor made from orderly boards of hardened wood.
On their side, it was a paved road.
“Do you understand?” asked the Reine des Garous. “I am on the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay and you are on the Bousou Peninsula. In other words, the Musashi and Mouri forces have taken the bridge.”
She added a “so” while spinning a silver weapon in her hand.
It was the silver cross.
The scene around them changed as it spun.
The ether forest faded, turned to mist, and receded toward her. It moved just like a pack of wolves gathering around its leader.
Kani could see Kasuya take a deep breath. That breath was meant to let her take action no matter what happened.
Kani realized her own knees were lightly trembling.
She did not know if it was from fear, exhaustion, or accumulated damage.
Regardless, it made it difficult to gather her strength. But when she looked to Kasuya in front of her…
…Her knees aren’t shaking at all!
Impressive! she thought. I can temporarily fight alongside her, but I’m still no match for her true potential!
How could she help out with whatever was to come? She started wondering that as the forest vanished toward the bridge.
The city returned.
She had not been here long enough to call it a familiar sight, but they were now on the Bousou Peninsula’s coast. They were on a coastal road in the ruins.
There was a forest in front of them and the Reine des Garous stood at its edge.
“Now,” said the woman while propping up the silver cross with the Loup-Garou forest gathered behind her. “I will not allow a single person though here.”
She sure knows how to talk the talk, thought Mitotsudaira. Her group was in the forest. They were close enough to the edge to see her mother’s back.
Her mother was currently threatening the enemy, so it would lay on the pressure if the rest of them stepped out, but…
Novice: “It would be best not to provoke the enemy too much. Most of them were worn down by all this, so it would be better to let them reach a standstill here. We don’t want to provoke them into fighting some more or heading to Satomi.”
That was true.
And their group could not head in any deeper anyway. Also…
…Satomi’s small transport ship should have landed in northern Bousou by now.
She opened a sign frame and saw the small transport ship carrying Yoshiyasu and the others was indeed landing in the center of the Bousou Peninsula. If they could attack and take the Hashiba ground base there, they could claim the Satomi Liberation a success.
Of course, they also had to do something about the enemy’s aerial forces, but that was a separate issue.
Mitotsudaira’s group could not participate in all of that. After all…
Me: “Hey, what’s going on with Nagabuto?”
Scarred: “Master Tenzou, um, went to get him.”
Wise Sister: “Oh? You’re not with him, Mary?”
Silver Wolf: “That would have been difficult. Because…”
Mitotsudaira looked up while lowering her father from the Silver Chains stage.
She could see something between the trees when she looked up from the ether forest.
The ruins of a tower jutted up into the night sky.
“Nagaoka Tadaoki was probably sniping at us from the top of the tower ruins in the center of the bridge.”
But that had ended when her mother created that forest. There would have been too much cover to snipe at them.
So if the 1st Special Duty Officer had gone for him…
Tachibana Husband: “Is he going to scale the wall? That sounds like the 1st Special Duty Officer.”
Smoking Girl: “Are you saying everything’s settled on the bridge? How are you doing, Tachibana Couple? We’re going to be attacking central Bousou soon.”
Tachibana Wife: “We will attack from the northeast. If we decide you require support, I will fire on your enemy, so please dodge it.”
Tonbokiri: “Gin-dono’s aim is accurate, after all.”
What did she mean by that?
But they did know one thing now.
…The 1st Special Duty Officer should be arriving at the top of that tower soon.
“Bringing Nagaoka Tadaoki back to us is the 1st Special Duty Officer’s job.”
Tadaoki faced someone.
They were right in front of him.
But the angle was different.
This person was positioned perpendicular to him.
The enemy stood on the wall of the tower ruins rising from the ocean.
He was aiming his rifle at that perpendicular opponent from a distance of 16 meters. He leaned out over the edge of the roof and readied one of his Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry.
He aimed at the center of this opponent’s torso and then asked a question.
“Who the hell are you!?”
“H-huh!? We met not long ago!”
Several lernen figurs opened around the enemy and Tadaoki asked a further question while watching his opponent persistently break each one.
“We met!? Got any proof of that!?”
“Judge!” The opponent crossed his arms while standing on the wall, raised his right upper arm, and raised his index finger. “I was the one who wrote ‘Abs!’ on your stomach!”
Tadaoki responded with a bewildered “huh?” and a gunshot.
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