Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 42
Chapter 42: Boy at the Boiling Point
Master Tenzou did it again!
Point Allocation (How Many Times Is That Now?)
Mary placed her hand on her cheek when she heard the gunshot coming from the tower ruins above the ether forest.
“Yeah, that wasn’t a very good gag.”
The Far East really was strict about their gags. As for Mary…
“Is Master Tenzou okay?”
“He’s a ninja, so a single hit probably isn’t enough to kill him. What do you think?”
“Toori-kun? Tenzou-kun has been raising way too many death flags lately, so from a Shinto perspective, he’s gathered a lot of bad luck. He’s in a bad enough state that I was thinking about getting our god to physically purify him here.”
“U-um, is Master Tenzou all right?”
“Eh?” Asama turned toward Mary and waved her hands side to side with a smile. “He’s fine, he’s fine. As long as you’re with him, all his back luck is eradicated, so you just have to stay with him. And that will make everyone else happier too.”
“Um, but I’m not with him right now.”
“Hmm.” Asama crossed her arms before smiling and providing her answer. “He’ll still be fine. Probably.”
Shinto could seem a little too careless at times.
Tenzou was alive.
…That was a close one!
He was lucky the bullet Nagaoka had fired had not had a homing or guidance spell applied.
He was pressed against the wall. That was the standard evasive maneuver for enemy bullets while on a wall.
Even if the enemy moved from the edge of the roof and onto the wall, they would have to aim “down” at the wall to hit him there.
It was the same concept as ducking down on the ground to make yourself hard to hit.
But Nagaoka was indeed a skilled shooter.
While leaning out from the roof, he pressed his elbows against the edge to fix his upper body in place.
Then he used his right hand to support the barrel of the rifle from below to fix the barrel’s height. He had held the stock under his arm to stop the line of fire on Tenzou.
He had instantly taken that firing pose and he had used both the current situation and his own body to their fullest.
The unspoken compliment was answered by a gunshot.
Mary placed a hand on her cheek when she heard the gunshot coming from the tower ruins above the ether forest.
“Yeah, sounds like he’s having trouble.”
“U-um, is Master Tenzou all right?”
“Judge.” The Chancellor’s sister turned toward Mary and pointed at Ex. Collbrande at her hip. “Heh heh. If you’re worried, why not solve all of this by sending a Master Tenzou Love Love Homerun toward that tower?”
“Master Tenzou Love-…wh-what is that!?”
Asama: “Um, Kimi? I don’t think Mary knows the name of that technique.”
Wise Sister: “Oh? Really? I thought everyone knew.”
Musashino: “It has in fact been added to Musashi’s internal dictionary and registered in the weapon deployment list. Over.”
Vice President: “The automatons already have it all listed up and everything, huh? That can’t be fun.”
Musashino: “Judge. Masazumi-sama, your army-destroying puns are being recorded as Shoten Ogiri, so feel free to use as many as you like. Over.”
Vice President: “I didn’t expect that comment to come back to bite me!!”
Mary was embarrassed.
After turning her back on England and coming to Musashi, she had tried her best to behave in a modest and reserved fashion while doing what she could to help out the boy who would be her husband. So…
“I never imagined I was behaving in a way that would earn such a bold name.”
“I think you’re looking at this wrong, Ma-yan.”
“No!” said Mary while brushing away the flowers appearing around her. “I defected and I am trying to look to the future in how I live my life, so how could I end up with a M-Master Tenzou L-Love Love…Lo-…”
“Love Love Homerun,” supplied Naito.
“Wh-why would you say the whole thing!?”
“Sorry, Ma-yan, but the way you’re shaking me has me confused about some things. What are you saying is the problem with all this?”
“Good point,” said Naruze while turning to Mary. “Say it.”
Mary breathed in while confused.
…Master Tenzou Love Love Homerun!
This was fine. She could say it in her head without issue. So she should be able to say it out loud as well.
That was as far as she got. When she touched her cheeks, she felt nothing but heat. She could also tell she was smiling.
“You’re all so mean…”
She wanted to hide everything, so she crouched down.
And she heard a gunshot.
…That was a close one!
Tenzou had rolled along the wall to dodge the first gunshot.
He had placed his palms on the wall for a shallow cartwheel for the second.
This was dangerous.
Nagaoka’s rifles used a standard rifle format, so each shot had to be muzzle loaded. Tenzou had assumed he would be fine as long as he avoided one shot, but…
…I didn’t expect him to pull out another rifle so quickly!
That would be the results of his training. Since he could manage all that without looking, he must have trained shifting between and using his guns while blindfolded.
The boy could look a little delinquent-y, but he was a hard worker deep down.
But now was not the time to be impressed.
That had almost gotten Tenzou shot before.
Besides, Tenzou was here to bring the boy back to the Musashi, so getting shot at was meaningless.
So he chose to call out to the boy to negotiate. He spread his arms to show he had no intention of fighting and decided to call out to the boy in a casual and friendly tone.
“What’s up, Nagabuto!?”
He was shot at.
Mary placed a hand on her cheek when she heard the gunshot coming from the tower ruins above the ether forest. She was crouching down, so the flowers on her head and shoulders scattered as she stood up.
“What is he doing?”
“I am pretty sure Crossunite was trying to negotiate with Nagaoka to get him to surrender.”
“Man, Tenzou really sucks at negotiating.”
“Th-that is not true!” Mary took a step forward and placed a hand on her chest to defend Tenzou’s honor. “Master Tenzou convinced me to defect!”
“But.” Naruze placed a hand on her chin. “What did Tenzou even do back then?”
“Well,” said Naito. “He convinced her by telling a whopper of a lie, groping her boobs, and fumbling the most crucial line.”
Mar-Ga: “You’re the worst.”
10ZO: “Wh-what is this about, Naruze-dono!?”
Tenzou spoke into the sign frame while rolling along the wall to dodge the bullet.
10ZO: “I am engaged in some crucial persuasion at the moment!”
Asama: “Um, Tenzou-kun? I am going to phrase this as kindly as I can since that is a crucial job, but if Mary was not madly in love with you, you never would have gotten away with what you did. You normally would have gotten a slap followed by the person’s special move.”
10ZO: “That’s phrasing it as kindly as you can!?”
Vice President: “By the way, Crossunite, how is the negotiation going?”
10ZO: “Hm, it certainly isn’t going as well as it does for you, Masazumi-dono. …I mean, I really am not sure how I am supposed to start a war with this negotiation.”
Vice President: “No one asked you do that!”
Tonbokiri: “Masazumi, it is not healthy to bottle up your feelings. Be more honest with yourself like I am and you can live a stress-free life.”
While running through the mountains on the northwestern end of the Bousou Peninsula to support the Satomi forces, Muneshige saw Gin suddenly punch a tree in the forest.
The summer insects briefly stopped chirping and the birds cried out and took flight.
That would normally be dangerous, but they were moving quite quickly. The different units of warriors were also on the move and some stray shots from the fleets in the southern sky were falling on Bousou.
They did not need to stop and Gin was back by his side before long.
“I apologize for that ugly outburst, Master Muneshige.”
“Ha ha ha. I know that is who you are on the inside, Gin, so don’t worry. It means you are living a stress free life around me.”
“You do have a way of taking a positive view of things, don’t you?”
Gin sighed and lowered her shoulders, but…
“Judge,” he immediately replied.
The mountain path they were on took them down the ridge.
They were following it from central Bousou to the eastern slope, but…
“I see it.”
There was some fierce fighting in the distant southern sky.
They could see light past the leaves of the trees and chirping of the summer insects.
The southwestern coat of the Bousou Peninsula seemed to lift the battling fleets into the sky. The lights of a city were visible on the inner side of Bousou once inside the Uraga Channel.
That was Satomi.
The city was maybe a kilometer across, but the coast gouged inland into it, giving it a thick crescent moon shape.
“That would be due to dragon line reactor.”
“It was damaged that badly? I am impressed they recovered at all. …The local representative must have sided with Hashiba and worked to minimize the chaos.”
That was not all.
There were silhouettes visible on the Satomi side of the forest between them and Satomi.
Those would be the warriors defending Satomi from the ground. And…
“Those are our opponents, Master Muneshige.”
“Judge. Finally.” Muneshige could feel the smile on his face as he said it. “Finally, I can let you take it easy, Gin.”
“That would be careless, Master Muneshige. But,” said Gin while running and glancing toward Edo Bay behind them. “The Musashi should be departing soon. …I wonder if they managed to get Nagaoka Tadaoki to surrender.”
“I am also curious what the enemy behind us – the ones that were on the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay – will do now.”
The southern battlefield’s atmosphere has really changed, noted Tenzou.
…They must be figuring out how to arrange their ground defenses.
He was curious about a couple of things, but he had to leave that to the people on the scene. Anything he said now would only make him a nosy outsider.
Plus, he had to focus on Nagaoka right now.
He had to persuade the boy to come with him, but…
“Dammit! You were part of that too!? You were one of the ones to color my dick black!?”
“Wait! The dick was a one-man job!”
“What guy has the lipstick to use on something like that!?”
“It is a long story and you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway, but he definitely does!”
Me: “Heyyy, Tenzou! What’s the hold up?”
10ZO: “Y-you are!”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. But really though, Tenzou, what are you doing? This is taking forever. Mary is half in tears, you know?”
10ZO: “I-it’s as much your fault as Toori-dono’s!”
Mar-Ga: “Oh, you’re not dead?”
10ZO: “You don’t have to be so blunt!”
Vice President: “Okay, Crossunite, quit responding to every little thing. Oh, but do respond to me.”
10ZO: “J-judge! It is true responding to all the nonsense those crazy people say would kill me!”
He was shot at.
He quickly side-stepped along the wall to dodge it.
Me: “Tenzou, quit responding to every little thing. It’ll kill you.”
10ZO: “You know exactly what you’re saying there, don’t you!? Don’t you!?”
Vice President: “Anyway, Crossunite, how is the negotiation going?”
10ZO: “To be honest, not well.”
Hiding that would only make things worse.
So he was forthcoming about his situation and asked Masazumi for advice.
10ZO: “Nagaoka Tadaoki is currently focused on his job for Hashiba. He does not respond when I ask him to surrender and it only inflames his hostility. I intend to continue my attempt to talk it out, but I do not see it going well.”
Vice President: “Why did we send you?”
10ZO: “D-do you have to question my very presence here!?”
Vice President: “Well, whatever. Crossunite, you did tell him what you’re here for, didn’t you?”
Oh, no. Come to think of it, I showed up without explaining why.
Mar-Ga: “Did this guy just get shot at several times before even saying hello?”
10ZO: “I got shot at for saying hello!”
Uqui: “In that case, we can only conclude the problem lies with you.”
10ZO: “Enough with the personal attacks!”
Vice President: “Start by introducing yourself and then persuade him.”
10ZO: “A personal introduction then!? That I can manage!”
Tadaoki saw the ninja suddenly stand straight up in his sights.
The ninja spread his legs to the right and passed his arms in front of his chest.
Allow me to introduce myself! I am Musashi Ariadust Academy Class 3-Plum 1st Special Duty Officer Tenzou Crossunite! My favorite thing is busty blondes!”
Mary heard a distant gunshot.
“W-was Master Tenzou just shot!?”
“No, no, no. Logic holds too much sway on your thoughts, Ma-yan. Life’s a lot easier if you don’t allow that. Life with us is, anyway.”
“Aren’t you giving up a little too quickly there? And Mary, how could introducing himself have gotten him shot at?”
“Well.” Mary thought for a moment. “Maybe he is speaking with a very violent person.”
“W-whoaaaa! Nagabuto’s super scaryyyyyyyyyyyyy!”
Wet Man and his sister suddenly stood straight up and raised their voices, prompting Masazumi to raise her fist. Mary placed a hand on her cheek while watching the two of them let out some mock screams and flee.
“Is Master Tenzou okay?”
“Are you that worried?”
“Judge. It is a wife’s duty to worry about her husband when he is fighting on the battlefield. Even when you trust him and yourself, it is times of crisis that draw those things out. It would be better if those times never came, but that is not always possible. So I am worried.”
Everyone exchanged a glance.
And they applauded with straight faces.
She did not really understand why, but she blushed because it felt like they were complimenting her and him.
Then she asked Masazumi a question.
“Does that gunshot mean Master Tenzou’s personal introduction did not work?”
“How is it even possible to be bad at personal introductions?” asked Wet Man.
“W-we must not judge people based on first impressions,” said Adele.
Naruze raised her right hand.
“Isn’t ‘busty blonde’ a first impression?”
“M-Master Tenzou made the right decision, so it worked.”
She responded immediately.
Uqui: “Yeah, it’s kind of hard to misjudge whether or not someone’s a busty blonde based on a first impression.”
Unturning: “So when a certain idiot I know asks people if they are an elder sister, does it mean he does not trust his own judgment?”
Uqui: “Being an elder sister is not a visible trait. It is part of the character profile.”
Flat Vassal: “This just took a weird turn, didn’t it!?”
Gold Mar: “So, uh, what’s Tenzou going to do now, Seijun?”
Vice President: “Hmm, that is a good question.”
Tenzou heard Masazumi’s voice. He was pressed against the wall after leaning back to dodge the bullet and Masazumi’s voice had an admonishing tone to it.
“Listen, Crossunite. I have some advice since you are incapable of saying hello or introducing yourself properly.”
“Wh-why must you make me sound like an incredibly incompetent person!?”
“Just listen, okay? …You need to draw him out with bait.”
“Judge,” confirmed Masazumi. “Like money, land, or special privileges. It has to be something we can actually give him of course, but it’s still worth showing him the value of negotiating. I mean, it’s gotta be better than counting on your social skills.”
“Y-you didn’t have to add that last part!”
At any rate, Tenzou got up.
…Offer him something, huh!?
Tenzou turned his right side forward and raised his right index finger toward cautious Nagaoka.
The boy did not respond. He was refusing to give Tenzou any control.
But that was fine. Tenzou had some bait to lure him in.
“Here in my pocket, I have ‘Ero-izu!’ a porn game rated R-Coming-of-Age. I will give it to you if you surrender! As you can tell, the title is a play on words between the name Eloise and all the erotic things that happen in the Izu hot springs over the course of the game! It has the busty blondes I like and the older woman you like! And it even comes with some preserved gator meat from the famous Banana Alligator Park ruins found in Izu!”
“What do you say!?”
Mary heard a distant gunshot.
“M-Master Tenzou really was shot, wasn’t he!?”
“Ma-yan, you’re getting used to this, aren’t you?”
“And does this mean Crossunite just got shot at for offering some kind of reward? What did he offer?”
“Hmm,” everyone said while hanging their heads, but Mary placed a hand on her chest and spoke.
“D-do not worry! Master Tenzou is…”
Mary was unsure how to phrase this.
She knew firsthand how strong Tenzou was when it really mattered.
He would always act when the time was right.
She wanted a good way to describe that.
She recalled one phrase Tenzou had used to say he had acted too rashly when making a shot in a soccer video game he was playing. He had then showed her how he should have done it. She did not know anything about the culture of video games and she only accompanied Tenzou a bit when he played, but the images on the screen looked like real people and it felt a lot like watching a real game.
The in-game match had been between Scotland and England. He had been playing as Scotland and she belatedly realized that may have been his way of thinking about their future together. But England was a difficult team to beat in the game because an Ex. Caliburn beam would sweep across the pitch when they started to lose. And her sister very well might do that if she got too caught up in the game.
The phrase he had used literally talked about doing something halfway, but she was pretty sure it would mean what she wanted if she changed the “half” to “full”. Far Eastern was a tricky language and she was not entirely sure this was right, but it had to be close.
She continued once everyone was focused on her.
“Surely you all know how Master Tenzou is.”
She spoke up in order to allay their fears about him.
…Yes, he does not go off half-cock.
“He goes full-cock in everything he does.”
“Is he still pulling that crap!?”
Flat Vassal: “What has he been doing in front of Mary-san?”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh heh. He has it really bad. But, Asama! Is there a Shinto divine punishment for this? You know, like pulling your full cock out in public gets you castrated?”
Asama: “Hmm, there are nudists in Shinto mythology, so I don’t think castration would work there. Plus, that would probably apply to Toori-kun as well.”
Vice President: “Wait! That can’t be right! Someone double check!”
Novice: “But the person who brought it up should have to do it. …Okay, go.”
Masazumi stepped forward while everyone stayed silent.
She spread her arms in front of Mary as a welcoming gesture while working to keep a smile.
But the idiot and his sister mimicked her pose behind Mary.
Still, Masazumi put the completion of her job first and foremost.
“Um,” she began while standing in front of Mary. “L-listen. Mary? Umm, it’s about Crossunite.”
“Oh, judge. What about him?”
“Well, uh…so Crossunite was, uh, pulling out his c-c-…well, um.”
She could tell she was blushing and that reaction embarrassed her more than what she was saying.
“H-he really was doing what you said!?”
She did not hesitate to answer. It was a nice, confident answer. But everyone began whispering behind her.
“I was really hoping we would get more of a chance to enjoy Seijun’s reactions.”
“Either way, what kind of useless politician can’t even say one measly dirty word?”
“Seijun’s not being any fun this time.”
…Oh, shut up, all of you!
But Masazumi saw Mary nod in front of her.
“Judge, he showed me what it means to go full-cock.”
“It was while he told me the best way to kick his balls.”
Me: “Wouldn’t that hurt?”
Mar-Ga: “Wait, was he kicking his own or was he having Mary kick them? Which was it, Masazumi?”
Vice President: “Please don’t expect me to ask things like that!!”
Mary was a little confused by how much everyone was whispering.
A thought occurred to her.
“Um, did I get my Far Eastern wrong somewhere?”
“Eh? No, I think you got that all right.”
“Good.” Her shoulders drooped in relief. “I am glad you all understand that Master Tenzou likes to go full-cock. When he did that during the ball-kicking, he would cheer loudly and throw his hands in the air when he won.”
“When Tenzou ‘wins’ while going full-cock, he throws his hands in the air!?”
“Yes. When he puts his balls in the net.”
Everyone froze in place and eventually Ohiroshiki looked asked the others a question.
“Does that mean Tenzou-kun likes wearing fishnet stockings?”
“Shh, quiet. We need to watch and see what happens, Ohiroshiki.”
That reaction worried Mary once more. She had her translation spell turned off, but…
“Um, I really think I might be getting my Far Eastern wrong…”
“No, I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong, Ma-yan. Tenzou’s the one in the wrong here.”
“Master Tenzou is!? What is wrong with him going full-cock?”
It took three long seconds before anyone could say anything. Finally, Naruze commented without looking Mary in the eye.
“That’s love for you, I guess…”
“Yeah. They do say love is blind… She even accepts it when Tenzou goes full-cock…”
She was not quite sure what they meant, but she did enjoy the time she spent with him.
“Maybe so… It is true that he can be really childish and adorable when he goes full-cock like that.”
“Asama, could you look at my foolish brother so warmly if he went full-cock?”
“Well, um, he’s not allowed to be a nuisance to others, hurt people, or do anything that leaves a mark.”
“Man, Tenzou is a lot different than I remember him…”
“Wait, wait,” said Masazumi. She waved a hand toward the others and then turned toward Mary again. “Um,” she began while slapping her flushed cheeks. “Mary? Well? I really don’t think your Far Eastern is wrong.”
“Seijun-kun, which word are you referring to there?”
“Shut up, you! …So. Just a word of warning here. It isn’t wrong, but I do think it’s a little too direct.”
“Direct!? Saying Master Tenzou does things full-cock is too direct a phrasing in Far Eastern?”
“Is it even possible to be more direct than that!?”
“By drawing a picture, obviously.”
Naruze started to demonstrate, but everyone stopped her.
But after a bit, Asama smiled toward the others.
“I know what this is. Mary is from one of the uncensored countries, so she probably doesn’t know how we handle things here.”
“By the way,” added Naito. “We’re about to interact with Sweden, but they’re known as the most extreme nation in Europe when it comes to those things.”
“Anyway,” continued Masazumi. “Why did Crossunite start doing that? I would like to know what caused it. He might be a victim of the stressful conditions on the Musashi.”
“Oh, I don’t think he was doing it because of stress.”
Mary was certain about this.
“One day, he said ‘the season has started’ and he has been doing it after dinner ever since.”
Masazumi listened to Mary’s testimony.
“I mean, um, remember when I told you he has been feeling himself down below in the mornings lately?”
“It’s an extension of that!?”
“Judge. So to give himself a change of pace, he used his spending money on what he called a gaming PC. And on the days when he is feeling himself down below in the mornings, he tends to go full-cock playing that in the evenings.”
Uqui: “So he’s just playing with himself all day long, huh?”
Smoking Girl: “Stop having such interesting conversations when I’m about to head into battle.”
I’d call this distracting background noise myself, thought Masazumi. And…
“So he does it a lot, does he?”
“Oh, judge. But, well, it’s more like he started doing it a little bit but has been getting more and more into it.”
“And what do you do during all this, Mary?”
“Judge. At first, I sat next to him and had some tea ready for when he was finished, but he got so worked up with it, it didn’t really seem like the time for tea.”
Silver Wolf: “Yes, that would be an awkward cup of tea.”
“That it would… So what happened then, Mary?”
“Judge,” she said while placing a hand on her cheek and lowering her eyebrows in a troubled look. “I made the mistake of calling out to him when he was trying to focus.”
“Oof. That couldn’t have been fun for him,” said the idiot.
“I-I feel bad because I may have been feeling a little jealous that he was so focused on his activity. And then he got carried away and accidentally kicked his ball really hard.”
All the boys nearly fell to their knees.
But Masazumi asked a question while watching them recover. She wanted to get Mary to continue while staying uninvolved in this topic of conversation herself.
“And what happened then, Mary?”
“Judge. He did manage to recover from there, but I still felt like I had interrupted his fun. And when I told him as much…”
“Judge.” Mary shook her head with both hands on her cheeks and flowers scattered all around her. “He said, ‘It is true I got a little too focused there, but do know that you were on my mind the entire time, Mary-dono.’ ”
Yoshiyasu ordered them to abandon the landed transport ship while quickly preparing to disembark. But…
She realized Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer, who had put her kiseru in her mouth for “one last smoke”, was breathing in smoke fast enough for the end of the pipe to glow red.
What was that about? Yoshiyasu grew worried when the girl continued inhaling for more than ten seconds.
“Hey, we don’t need to hurry quite that much. Are you trying to get all the smoke inside you now?”
“Don’t say anything,” said the 6th Special Duty Officer while holding out her prosthetic hand’s palm.
While narrowing her eyes, she finally turned to the side and blew out all the smoke. And she spent twice as long exhaling as she had inhaling.
“Hey, are you okay?’ asked Yoshiyasu.
“Hm? Yes, I’m perfectly healthy. It’s sometimes nice to run across a need to smoke like ‘this is so embarrassing I think I would fall over dead if I couldn’t smoke’.”
Is that how it works? wondered Yoshiyasu with a tilt of her head. Then she looked to the sign frame by her hands.
“It’s about time for the next stage. Hurry!”
Mary reached her conclusion while aware the white flowers around her spoke her innermost thoughts.
“Master Tenzou is unbeatable when he goes full-cock. So he will be fine.”
A gunshot rang out.
Tadaoki was irritated.
He was a skilled gunner. He had even earned an inherited name with that skill. It was true he was distracted by the trouble with his wife in that western country, but still…
“Why can’t I hit!?”
For some reason, his bullets would not hit the ninja standing on the wall. And that ninja raised his right index finger.
“Hah ha ha ha! Did you really think your attacks could hit a ninja who has spent his whole life dodging unearned attacks!?”
“Hey, you’ve been jumping and rolling all over that wall! Quit ignoring gravity!”
“Don’t be silly! Are you unfamiliar with the refined culture of triangle jumping and midair triple jumping!?”
The ninja pointed and shouted at Tadaoki.
“As far back as the Age of the Gods, Asian martial artists and Far Eastern ninjas have been allowed to ignore gravity!”
10ZO: “Hm? What is it?”
Gold Mar: “Well, I really thought you had proven yourself to be scum on a truly impressive level, but you made yourself look pretty good at the end there. Maybe we should give you a second chance after all.”
10ZO: “Wh-why do I need a second chance!?”
Asama: “Hmm, but we really have Mary to thank for this, don’t we? I mean, just think how crazy Tenzou-kun would have gotten without her.”
10ZO: “I really have no idea what you are talking about!”
Wise Sister: “Cocks! We’re talking about cocks! And not just part of one! Full cocks!”
10ZO: “Now, I know that can’t be true! Tell me the truth already!”
Vice President: “We touched on a subject none of us wants to pursue, so I’ll leave it at this: rethink how you live your life. …Now, then.”
10ZO: “Wh-what was that pause for!? What was it you were talking about!? Tell me!”
Vice President: “Please don’t make me think about that anymore. …Anyway, Crossunite, we have a new strategy for you since you screwed up saying hello, introducing yourself, and gift-giving.”
10ZO: “Can you stop insulting me as a way to start a conversation?”
Vice President: “Calm down. …Now, Mary actually came up with this idea.”
10ZO: “Mary-dono did? What is it?”
Vice President: “…”
10ZO: “Wh-why aren’t you saying anything!?”
Vice President: “It’s well…you know? Um…I guess you could call it a game you play with yourself. Yes, a game. A game that makes you cheer and throw your hands in the air. Yeah, try doing that.”
Tadaoki saw the ninja change the way he moved.
His stance was less stiff now.
“He’s going for it.”
Tadaoki could tell that much. In training and sparring, he had learned what different changes to the atmosphere meant.
…This is a duel.
And the ninja spoke.
“Judge,” responded the ninja while crossing his arms and reaching into his pocket. “I challenge you to a match in the soccer game Winning Eleven 48!”
Tadaoki used his voice to fire.
…That was a close one!
That shot was especially bad, thought Tenzou while side-flipping out of the way.
He had not expected his video game challenge to be rejected.
“W-wait! Nagaoka-dono, are you the type of person who does not own a game system and whose sign frame is not set up for games!?”
“I prefer watching baseball!!”
That was a fundamental failure! thought Tenzou.
“B-but I already summoned two of the controller sign frames, so how about it? Why not try it out? I am willing to give myself a major handicap.”
“I don’t know the rules! And I know there’s a ton of picky little ones like that you can’t take three steps while holding the ball!”
“You are confusing it with another sport! Besides, the assist mode in Eleven is super helpful, so you’ll be fine! You can just hold down the button and watch your points rack up all on their own!”
Yes. Games these days went a little far in assisting new players. None of his friends were willing to play Eleven with him, so he had been thinking about having Mary do it and finally tried it out the other day.
The way she had linked arms with him while they played had pressed her chest into his arm in the most wonderful way, but the game screen had shown hell itself. He had set all the handicap settings to the setting above “Nightmare” which was called “Apocalypse!”, so the field grew 3km long when he was dribbling the ball, the ball was suddenly filled with iron when he kicked it, breaking his player’s foot, the shots made by Mary’s center were on the level of a warship’s main cannon, and his goal grew 80m wide. The handicaps were definitely on a different level.
…The worst part was how Mary-dono’s goal jumped straight up into the air to dodge the ball when I made a shot.
The final score had been 72-to-2 with his 2 points being own-goals on Mary’s part, but she had been the type to move around when she operated the controller sign frame, so…
…Her boobs squished against my arm and shook all over the place. Plus, she made the cutest grunts of effort, so it was a good time overall.
He was shot at again.
“N-Nagaoka-dono! Surprise attacks are cheating!”
“Quit wiggling around in midair like that!”
“I was only expressing my emotions! I am a very expressive ninja! Got that!?”
After making that claim, Tenzou took a fighting stance.
…Well, despite everything, I have to do this.
He had to win here.
He had wanted to avoid fighting with Nördlingen coming up, but he had no choice. He would do what had to be done and he would achieve the necessary results. That was what it meant to be an officer.
He controlled his breathing.
He kept his hips a bit low, but lifted his heels.
He gathered strength in his downward-pointing toes to support himself on the wall. And…
“Bring it!” shouted Nagaoka.
That’s the spirit, thought Tenzou.
This was the same as the boy’s duel against Honjou Shigenaga. That had happened just a few hours before. It had been a painful loss for him, but he had not let it get to him. So…
Tenzou thought, This boy named Nagaoka Tadaoki carries within him a version of himself that can continue looking to the future no matter how badly he loses.
It was possible most of the people now known as freshmen were like that. After all, they would all live past the Warring States period and fulfill themselves there.
…They can walk the same path as us.
With that thought, Tenzou stepped forward.
The next gunshot signaled the beginning of their battle.
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