Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 45
Chapter 45: Battlefield Decider
I can do what I want right now
All of what is happening here
Is what people call a battlefield
Point Allocation (Battle Negotiations)
“Now, then,” said Ookubo while taking a deep breath in the darkness.
She was somewhat northwest of the Bousou Peninsula’s center.
The enemy was preparing for a counterattack, but she could see their destination.
It was to the south.
The enemy base was on the southeastern coast, but before heading there…
“It’s time for negotiation.”
They had already begun to move. One unit led by Kanou was en route to a safe location on foot while Yagyuu Munenori had been sent out as a scout.
“Milady, Yagyuu-sama has sent word that the route is safe. We should start by heading 2km south.”
Kanou held up a sign frame that revealed the surrounding scenery with a night-vision guidepost spell. And she traced her finger along that sign frame to draw a line that looked like red ink.
“This is our route. It will give us a view of the enemy base, by which I mean the Satomi stronghold.”
“Then we need to split up our forces for now.”
Ookubo looked up to see the small transport ship they had flown in on.
It had forcibly landed in the middle of the forest and the enemy knew where it was. It had not been attacked because the enemy would be shifting to a focus on fortifying their defenses.
The enemy had concluded this group had no real aerial forces. However…
“I will be moving on ahead.”
With that comment, a few large forms began to move.
They were gods of war.
Their movements added four ribbon lines to the sign frame they were viewing. Two moved out ahead and three followed behind them. And the biggest line of all took up the rear.
The two taking the lead were Righteousness and Suzaku.
The following three were from the heavy god of war unit. They were equipped for long-range combat and were meant to protect and cover for the lead two.
All of them were protecting the largest line taking up the rear. That was the ground unit comprised mostly of the warriors.
Their plan was to use the gods of war for a powerful assault that expanded their controlled territory. Then the individual personnel could establish a more complete control.
Ookubo’s group was commanding the group while both exchanging and gathering information from one side of the ground unit. Plus…
“We’re handling all the administrative work needed to ensure our safety,” said Ookubo while climbing the ridge of Bousou with the Public Morals Committee’s elite unit.
Nagaya-Stable: “It’s time to negotiate, Konishi Yukinaga.”
Konishi watched the enemy’s movement.
She knew the enemy’s small transport ship had been landed and abandoned on the distant northern slope.
The slope itself obstructed her view of that area, but they would be able to climb up to the ridge to overlook this area.
The enemy invasion was a problem, but…
…What comes after that?
How much of a land unit had been inside that small transport ship? While it was called small, it was still 200m long. It could easily carry a thousand personnel and could carry as much as two thousand.
Two thousand nearly unharmed troops with high morale and some gods of wars between Hashiba’s main unit and the northern unit would be very bad news.
There was something else Konishi had to consider.
How was she supposed to bring this battle to an end?
There were a few different options, possibilities, and uncertain factors. As a merchant, she wanted to examine things much more closely before taking action, but she had actually already made some preparations and started to arrive at the situation she wanted.
“And I can predict more or less what’s gonna happen, so I need to go in strong to start with.”
The lernen figur by her hands had already received her opponent’s words, so she gave a response.
Koni-ko: “You will negotiate with me? I appreciate it, Musashi Representative Council Head.”
“But,” she added.
Koni-ko: “You said you recommend we withdraw, didn’t you? Who do you think you are?”
“Fair enough,” muttered Ookubo.
…Although from a history recreation perspective, the Hashiba forces really should withdraw.
But withdrawing when Musashi demanded it and withdrawing as a part of the history recreation would entail very different things and the other nations would view them very differently.
The sounds of the god of wars moving out ahead vanished into the forest. But not because they were growing more distant. The stealth spells that activated in time with their movements were beginning to mask the sounds.
Without the route information being sent to her map, even Ookubo would not have known they were there.
And while listening to those noises fade, she thought about what Konishi had just said.
…Does she really not intend to accept our recommendation to withdraw?
They could not openly accept it because these divine transmissions would remain in the records, but what about below the surface? She decided to ask.
Nagaya-Stable: “You refuse to accept our recommendation to withdraw?”
Koni-ko: “We still have the upper hand here. Shouldn’t you be the ones withdrawing?”
The other girl asked a probing question.
It was true they were on the losing end in the aerial fleet battle when viewing just the number of ships sunk.
They had taken the Miura Peninsula and the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay in the land battle, but they had not taken the Bousou Peninsula.
When it came to controlling Edo and Satomi, the enemy did indeed have the upper hand.
The ground units were finally about to clash. It was unknown how that would turn out, but the other side was sure to have prepared a large number of troops. So…
Nagaya-Stable: “Then you are saying your northern unit still intends to fight, I take it?”
Koni-ko: “Of course. No one in Hashiba would run away when they can still fight.”
…Do you really intend to do this?
Based on Konishi’s words alone, it seemed that way. And Ookubo also sensed a challenge in her words.
The northern unit had been worn down by their battle with the Reine des Garous and now their numbers were more of a hindrance than anything.
“I imagine their original plan was to have them withdraw unharmed and then pursue us from behind.”
Of course, the less-exhausted members of that unit could still be used for that purpose.
But if they did that, the exhausted majority would be left behind as prey for the Reine des Garous.
…That means their northern unit can’t move at the moment.
Then why was Konishi claiming that unit would continue to fight?
“She has something set up or has some kind of idea.”
“What does this mean, Masazumi?”
Asama asked that while calling up a map of the area around Edo Bay. Based on the positioning of the enemy forces and their own forces that Ookubo had sent them…
“The enemy’s northern unit is doing well when it comes to numbers, but they are exhausted. If they are still going to fight, does that mean they were ordered to fight until the bitter end?”
Masazumi’s initial response to that question was a tilt of the head. And then…
“Nagaoka did seem to be fighting that way, but…but in that case, they would have fought harder to hold the bridge. So I expect there is some hidden meaning to what Konishi is saying.”
“There must be some special meaning to the northern unit fighting to the end in some way.”
The simplest idea was for them to move south. They had lost the bridge thanks to Mitotsudaira’s mother and leaving their injured behind would be too dangerous.
“But,” chimed in Naito. “Whatever they might want to do, they won’t be able to keep up, will they? They’re moving an exhausted group, so moving through the forest at night would be pushing them too hard. Plus, transporting the injured and extremely exhausted will absolutely kill their speed.”
“That is true,” agreed Mary. “Even a single exhausted person will reduce the mobility of a unit.”
Silver Wolf: “I am ashamed to admit it, but I proved that well enough back in Hexagone Française.”
Then what are they thinking? wondered Asama.
That exhausted northern unit would be unable to fight or move very well.
…The only thing they could do is…
Once thinking it through that far, Asama noticed something about the arrangement of the forces on the map.
Something about the arrangement bothered her.
The individual elements were meaningless, but when she linked them together…
She tossed the contents of her sign frame to Masazumi. She had drawn a red line between the two worrying forces, but would that be enough for Masazumi to catch on?
She looked over to see Masazumi was already taking action. She petted Tsukinowa on her shoulder, and…
“Huh? It didn’t go through. Hey, Asama, how do you send a message to a specific person again? Don’t give me that look, everyone! I’m a divine transmission beginner!”
“Yes, yes,” said Asama as she gave herself access to Masazumi’s divine transmission controls using her assistance management setting.
…I had a feeling that was it.
That was Ookubo’s thought as she read the divine mail from the anteater.
The message contained the Vice President’s thoughts, which supported Ookubo’s speculation about Konishi’s plan. So…
Nagaya-Stable: “Konishi Yukinaga. …Do you have a moment?”
Koni-ko: “What is it? I will listen to you for free just this once.”
Nagaya-Stable: “I intend to win the Keichou Campaign.”
Konishi did not send a response.
That meant “get a clue”. Ookubo could tell that much at this point.
So she rejected Konishi’s advice.
She would not get a clue. And to prove it, she said more.
Nagaya-Stable: “The Mouri transport ships shot down by our Vice Chancellor’s Aides are located northeast of your northern unit, aren’t they? A lot of those ships are still functioning, but since quite a few were shot down, the entire group of transport ships is considered immobilized.”
Koni-ko: “True enough. What about it?”
“Judge,” casually responded Ookubo.
Nagaya-Stable: “You intend to have the northern unit fall back to the transport ships and preserve the battle line there with a focus on defense. That way, even if we do take the Bousou Peninsula, you can claim their presence means the Keichou Campaign is still ongoing.”
In other words…
Nagaya-Stable: “We will be unable to complete the Kantou Liberation even if we take Bousou. And while we are sending our main forces back to the northeast, Hashiba will arrive to retake Kantou. …That is your plan, isn’t it?”
Konishi smiled a bit at Ookubo’s words.
That idea was obvious enough when looking at the map.
Of course, the battlefield had changed a lot in just the past half hour. The Hashiba forces had not expected Edo to be taken so quickly and neither side would have predicted that would lead to a situation like this.
But she had noticed something.
She had noticed it when those ships being shot down had presented problems for receiving supplies from the northeast.
She had noticed that, if the northern unit did have to withdraw from the bridge, those transport ships would be to their northeast.
Most people would assume the battlefield would shift to central and southern Bousou.
…But I noticed it.
So she had made a few arrangements while the battle was underway on the bridge.
When the Satomi forces had been attacked by the launched gods of war, it had not been a coincidence or meaningless. She had thought that attack would guide the Satomi forces to central Bousou.
“Do you see now why I gave you central Bousou for free, despite the danger it posed?”
Konishi did not ask these questions over the divine transmission.
“You thought you could isolate our northern unit by placing yourselves there, didn’t you? You thought the northeastern transport ships weren’t a threat because they have no weapons, didn’t you?”
But you were wrong.
“Combine the unarmed transport ships with the exhausted combat unit in need of supplies and you get a powerful fighting force.”
Koni-ko: “Good job, Kasuya-kun and Kani-kun. Now we will win when they run out of time. The checkmate is in view.”
Then she lightly slapped herself on the cheek.
“I mustn’t get complacent.”
She smiled bitterly.
“All I’ve done is restore the one fighting force. Fortunately, I have already prepared a different checkmate for you. But have you noticed that yet, Musashi?”
Ookubo stopped on the mountain path.
Kanou soon looked back from up ahead.
“What is it, milady? Is something not to your liking?”
“I really wish I could complain about how tired my feet are.”
“It is because you say things like that that I cannot allow you to go to Satomi.”
While Kanou said that, everyone around them took up positions to monitor their surroundings.
No actual threat was approaching, but they were protecting and creating a spot for her to think on the battlefield.
She had told the Vice President that they could settle this quickly, so there was little time to think.
…Besides, I’ve got a good idea what they’re thinking.
Vice President: “Ookubo.”
Nagaya-Stable: “Yes, you can leave for Nördlingen.”
The Vice President must have realized what Konishi was thinking as well.
But it seemed like she had yet to get a good grasp of Konishi’s character.
Nagaya-Stable: “Please, Vice President. Can you leave this to me and complete your preparations for Nördlingen? To be honest, that’s more convenient when it comes to dealing with Konishi Yukinaga.”
Vice President: “How do you see her?”
Nagaya-Stable: “An adlibber always looking for a chance to get rich quick.”
The span of a few breaths passed before the Vice President responded.
Vice President: “Judge. …Ookubo.”
Nagaya-Stable: “What is it?”
Vice President: “Go get her. It looks like she has us in checkmate, but instead of letting her guard down, she’s already thinking up her next move, right? Then don’t hold back and go get her. You have my permission.”
“You moron,” said Ookubo while feeling some heat in her cheeks.
Nagaya-Stable: “I was gonna do that whether I had permission or not.”
Vice President: “Yeah, you are pretty mean.”
Nagaya-Stable: “I don’t want to hear that from a superior who abuses her power as easily as breathing!”
Vice President: “Huh? I only give you all that work because I know you can handle it, so that doesn’t count as abuse of power.”
She is the worst, thought Ookubo with a click of her tongue and a sigh. And…
Nagaya-Stable: “At least you’re quick to make decisions.”
A sound began to fill the sky.
The small transport ship above the ether forest to the northwest was starting to turn toward the Musashi.
The small transport ship was returning to the Musashi.
The right corner of Konishi’s lips curled up when she saw it.
The breath that left her throat was more of a choke than a bitter laugh.
“You figured out what I was thinking that quickly? You are quite the mean person, Ookubo Nagayasu!”
A commotion had broken above and below the small transport ship. The people remaining behind and those returning to the ship were moving in and out in time for the rushed departure.
Most of those headed down had always intended to participate in the Satomi Liberation.
They would stay on the ground while Futayo, Mitotsudaira, Narumi, Urquiaga, and others like them were returning to the ship to head to Nördlingen.
Toori asked Masazumi a question while the coming and going people greeted each other.
“Hey, Seijun, why are we calling it quits all of a sudden?”
“To dumb it down enough for an idiot to understand…our presence here will only get in Ookubo’s way. Do you get it now? Basically, we’re being used as bargaining chips.”
Toori started to nod and say he understood, but…
“Wait a sec.”
“What is it, super idiot?”
“D-damn you! But I’m fine being a super, duper idiot…maybe.”
“Toori-kun, you really will turn yourself into an idiot if you try too hard, so how about you stop?”
Asama’s response was half understanding and half exasperated. And…
Silver Wolf: “All the returners have boarded via the lower hangar. We are leaving around 1500 people behind.”
Silver Wolf: “Now we will not trip up the Representative Council Head. My king, that is what Masazumi is trying to explain, but do you understand it or not?”
Mitotsudaira was inside the small transport ship’s hangar. The main cargo hatch was open on the bow end, so she could see the night scenery spread out below them.
She saw the ether forest that was essentially a part of her mother and she saw the terrain near the foot of the Bousou Peninsula.
She was interested in the northeast area to the far left of the bridge’s end. Some scattered flame-like red lights could be seen in the sky and on the ground in that direction.
…That would be the transport ships Gin shot down.
The enemy was trying to get their northern unit to those transport ships.
They planned to create a single great fighting force that could continue the Keichou Campaign.
Mitotsudaira thought that was a fairly troublesome idea.
After all, Konishi’s plot contained a certain “checkmate”.
Silver Wolf: “My king, are you listening? The enemy Konishi’s strategy is to prevent us from going to Nördlingen.”
Me: “Nate, what’s that supposed to mean?”
Mitotsudaira listened to her king’s words while the wind blew in from the open hatch.
Me: “Seijun’s being a meanie and won’t tell me.”
Silver Wolf: “My, my, Masazumi.”
Oh, that sounded just like my mother, she thought while smiling bitterly at Masazumi’s response to her king.
…She’s too smart for her own good.
Although that was not too surprising when she was the one who negotiated with people like that and also worked to keep Musashi in line.
But she did often fail to explain things properly to her own people. She was likely aware of that, which was why she had gone to the effort of getting a consensus in the bath before this battle.
In a way, she may have been letting her guard down and assuming someone would always fill everyone else in when she was vague about things. If so, was that trust something they could be proud of?
“Then this would be a job for me.”
Mitotsudaira looked down below.
Those who were staying behind were moving through the ether forest to reach the end of the bridge. But…
Silver Wolf: “Listen, my king. The number of personnel down there cannot immediately defeat the enemy’s northern unit. They outnumber us there. And even if they are worn out, they have two name inheritors in Kasuya and Kani. Most likely, they will make it to the transport ships even as their numbers are whittled down.”
Me: “Huh? Your maman isn’t gonna attack too?”
Silver Wolf: “She must protect the bridge. If it is taken, the enemy can cross Edo Bay and reach the Miura Peninsula. She must stay where she is to keep that option off the table.”
“Also,” said Mitotsudaira.
Silver Wolf: “Just as our ground unit cannot immediately destroy the enemy’s northern unit, she cannot do so immediately when they are not crammed into the narrow space of the bridge. She is just one person, so if the enemy is spread out, she cannot destroy them immediately.”
Still Got It: “That is true. The best way to hold a large area is to expand my forest, but I have calmed down a fair bit and it will take time before I can do that again.”
Me: “Then what can we do?”
Silver Wolf: “There is a simple solution.”
Silver Wolf: “We send in more ground forces. In other words, we make another attack.”
That would end it relatively quickly.
…They have name inheritors, so Futayo and I could go.
It would be a lot easier if they could use Narumi, Urquiaga, and Mary’s MTL2H (Master Tenzou Love Love Homerun), but that last girl was busy treating the 1st Special Duty Officer’s wound. Naito and Naruze had to protect the ship, so they would probably have to send someone like Neshinbara.
They could also have Adele fight (or at least act as a weight), and…
Silver Wolf: “I bet it would be over in record time if my king and Kimi provoked Asama into acting.”
Asama: “J-just so you know, I would do nothing of the sort!!”
Everyone muttered “yes, you would” and Mitotsudaira had to agree, but if they had all that…
Silver Wolf: “If we left my mother on the bridge, we could probably clean them up in half an hour. But that half hour could end up being a critical time loss in regards to Nördlingen.”
Silver Wolf: “If we are there, the enemy is sure to use us in their negotiations. And even if we can break free of that, it will only waste our time. …That is why the Representative Council Head is telling us to leave as soon as possible.”
Konishi narrowed her eyes in a smile as the enemy’s small transport ship turned.
…That second year named Ookubo does not like to lose, does she?
“She is removing the ‘checkmate’ I was trying to set up.”
She was certainly decisive.
After all, Musashi’s main force could crush Hashiba’s northern unit, but they had a time limit if they were to reach Nördlingen.
Konishi had thought those two conflicting factors would make for a very tasty bargaining chip.
But Ookubo had eliminated that.
Was it meant as an expression of her intent? Was she saying she refused to let Konishi have her way?
Konishi could tell the girl was the strong authority type, but…
Konishi took a breath.
Their negotiations had more or less fallen apart.
Ookubo of the Musashi forces was recommending that Hashiba’s northern unit withdraw. She was negotiating to say that unit had no more purpose on the battlefield.
That was why Konishi had done the opposite. She had given that unit military meaning and also set up a means of continuing the Keichou Campaign.
Her orders and understanding were essentially adlibs, but there had been a meaning behind it all.
Koni-ko: “Sorry about this, Kuki-kun. You can scold me when I get back.”
Nine Horns: “About the Reine des Garous?”
“That’s right,” agreed Konishi.
The state of the northern unit – their exhaustion and their current formation and position – were all the result of the Reine des Garous revealing her true nature. Without that, they might have reached this situation eventually, but they would have been able to take up more time delaying the Musashi forces on the bridge. However…
Koni-ko: “That is why I am turning it all around.”
Nine Horns: “We do not yet know if that will work.”
He was a strict one, but she was prepared for this. That was why she had not let the negotiations break down. To be safe, she had to watch and see what the enemy decided on.
Nine Horns: “The battlefield can change in an instant and that is even more true for negotiations fought via words.”
“Which is why,” continued Kuki.
Nine Horns: “Make sure you consider every facet of this as you negotiate, Konishi-kun.”
Koni-ko: “Testament. I will interpret that as you leaving all authority with me.”
Just as she said that, words arrived from Ookubo.
Nagaya-Stable: “Hey, Konishi Yukinaga. Do you have a moment?”
The text continued without a pause.
Nagaya-Stable: “Five minutes from now, our ground forces on the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay will charge at your northern unit. …Got that?”
…Why is she announcing the beginning of their attack?
Koni-ko: “Are you saying negotiations have failed?”
Nagaya-Stable: “No, I am always prepared to negotiate. I am simply telling you what we will do in advance. …Think of it as a free service.”
Ookubo went on to say more.
Nagaya-Stable: “We benefit from this charge in the following ways:
“1: Reducing the numbers of the enemy’s northern unit.
“2: Expanding our held territory in the northern region.
“3: Covering the Satomi forces from behind.
“Combining #2 and 3 in particular will allow Musashi to take the large area between the bridge and the Satomi forces, which will greatly open up the battlefield.”
So that’s it, thought Konishi.
…She’s accelerating the negotiations.
By listing out the benefits of her actions, she was revealing her hand and her objective.
She was eliminating most of the “unspoken understandings” and “under-the-table dealings” so common in negotiations.
That would naturally accelerate the negotiation.
They both knew what the other wanted, so they only had to decide whether or not they would go along with that and play what bargaining chips they had on hand.
It was more like collusion than anything.
But this was a bit tricky for Konishi to deal with.
She excelled at negotiations built up from adlibs. Finding the crux of the situation and turning everything around with a split-second decision was unbearably entertaining in her opinion.
That was a lot trickier when everything was revealed from the beginning.
It felt like having her freedom restricted.
Ookubo was saying something by revealing her own hand.
…She’s saying she can see most of what I am trying at with my adlibs.
And that’s fine, thought Konishi. Working your brain in overdrive was a merchant’s special skill.
Whether she would endure this or go on the attack, this kind of battle was her forte.
Koni-ko: “Thank you for the information. In exchange, I will tell you something nice.”
Her opponent was trying to get the northern unit to withdraw.
Konishi was trying to send the northern unit to the transport ships and use them to keep the Keichou Campaign going.
And to do that…
Koni-ko: “I will have the northern unit leave a delaying defense unit while most of it moves northeast to reach the transport ships.”
Koni-ko: “The Bousou Peninsula base’s defense unit will move south and fortify our defensive line. …Got that?”
Masazumi drew the two announced actions on her map.
When she viewed it like this…
“The enemy is leaving the middle of the Bousou Peninsula entirely open?”
“Ho ho. So you noticed, Crossdressing Honda-kun! Yes, this means that…”
Neshinbara trailed off and then looked side to side in suspicion.
“Why isn’t anyone interfering?!”
“Do you want us to? …Now, what does it mean that they are leaving the middle open?”
“The obvious meaning is that moving south buys some more time until the group invading Satomi reaches them.”
Masazumi realized what that would mean.
“That delays the beginning of the Satomi Liberation, doesn’t it?”
“Not just that. …This will fortify their defenses, so our group will have a harder time conquering Satomi. And it will take longer to redirect our attention to the north.” Neshinbara shrugged. “They apparently have a sure thing in sending their northern unit to the transport ships. A fleet battle is underway in the southern sky and the ground unit is traveling south from central Bousou to make an attack, but Konishi Yukinaga is acting based on the assumption that all of that fails.”
“So she intends to win in the end, does she?”
If so, what were they supposed to do about it?
Neshinbara opened several sign frames and typed on his keyboard.
He spoke based on his observations of the overall situation.
“Even if we do send the god of war unit and the main unit south, I think it would be best to send the Tachibana Couple’s group north. Two fighters on a name inheritor level might be enough to crush the northern unit.”
“I see,” said Masazumi with a nod. But then…
Nagaya-Stable: “Then we will send the god of war unit and main unit south. The Tachibana Couple will also continue south and they will all form a solid barrier.”
Gold Mar: “So doing the opposite of what Bara-yan says is the right choice?”
Mar-Ga: “A simple and thorough policy. I like it.”
Novice: “Why must you reject everything I say out of hand!?”
Vice President: “Ookubo didn’t reject your idea out of hand, Neshinbara. …She took it under consideration and decided to do the opposite instead. This was a well-thought-out rejection.”
Novice: “Dammiiiiiiit! The dark shadow gauge in my heart is filling up!”
Me: “Got any normal gauges in there? Well, do you?”
The Musashi group is as lively as ever, thought Ookubo while focusing on her own work.
Nagaya-Stable: “I will continue with the original plan.”
The ground unit’s invasion would continue as planned.
There would be no hesitation in their movement.
Nagaya-Stable: “We benefit from this in the following ways:
“1: They are following their original orders, so there will be no confusion.
“2: Greater assurance of the Satomi Liberation.
“3: Following from #2, the greater density between different units will increase the density of defense and offense.”
And another benefit was found by combining #1-3. And this opponent was sure to know what that was.
But Ookubo went out of her way to state it out loud.
Nagaya-Stable: “Combining #1-3 creates a secondary effect:
“4: The Satomi Liberation will occur more quickly.
“Those are my reasons.”
“Hm,” said Konishi with a hand to her mouth.
…She really does hate to lose.
If Konishi had her troops pull back and increase the density between formations as a delaying tactic, the enemy would increase their own density in response.
That would eliminate her advantage.
But that would not change much in the big picture.
The northern unit would still leave behind a defense unit to delay any attackers while most of them moved to the transport ships.
Konishi saw that as a foregone conclusion now.
After all, the enemy had no way to stop them. Sending in the Musashi forces was their only way of doing it, but they had chosen to go to Nördlingen instead.
So how would they crush the northern unit? The enemy had no options outside of figuring that out.
Also, Konishi began in her heart.
Koni-ko: “I suppose I will present my plan to you as well.”
Koni-ko: “The surviving transport ships in the northeast will form a column and move toward the northern unit. The column will extend out so as not to actually leave the landed ships and the ships that reach the northern unit will collect them and return.”
She went on to explain what that would accomplish.
Koni-ko: “The benefits are as follows:
“1: It hastens the northern unit’s arrival to the transport ships.
“2: It ensures the northern unit’s safety, resupplies them, and helps them recover much earlier.”
Koni-ko: “3: It ensures the Keichou Campaign can be continued.
“That about sums it up.”
What a persistent opponent, thought Masazumi regarding Konishi.
Konishi bringing the northern unit and transport ships together would act as a form of insurance for the Hashiba forces.
It would allow them to continue the Keichou Campaign even if they lost their base in Satomi and the aerial ship battle.
And if they could buy time with that, Hashiba would be able to arrive.
She was making up for drawing out the Reine des Garous’s true nature, even if she had not done so intentionally. And for the Musashi side of things…
Still Got It: “Hm, to be honest, I think I overdid things.”
Tonbokiri: “No, if anything, it is the enemy that did quite well. It was thanks to the power of their name inheritors that most of them remain despite being so exhausted.”
Masazumi felt both of them had a point.
Without the Reine des Garous revealing her true nature, it would have taken a lot longer to take the bridge.
On the other hand, she had pushed them all back on her own.
And the valiant efforts of the enemy’s defenders had kept the damage minimal albeit widespread.
That would be because they had been ordered to withdraw.
If they had been ordered to defend the bridge with their lives, it would not have turned out like this.
And who would have given that withdrawal order? Nagaoka had been unable to function as a commander with the bridge more than half taken, so…
…Was it Konishi since she was in charge of the opposite bank!?
This is bad, thought Masazumi as she belatedly sensed the danger.
This opponent was most likely working to “restrict” them.
She restricted what factors could be used for negotiation, thought, and tactics and she put together adlibbed tactics of her own based on her understanding of those things.
And when a tactic looked promising, she would go all in on it.
She was a merchant.
She had a feeling some merchants had started producing udon of late, but not this one. This one would not. Well, our merchants can technically negotiate, but they side against us 80% of the time.
…Come to think of it, there’s something seriously wrong with our merchants!
Suddenly curious, she decided to ask.
Vice President: “Asama, what are Bertoni and Augesvarer up to?”
Mar-Ga: “Wasn’t their execution scheduled for this morning? I imagine they’re eating some fried tofu or something to go with it.”
Asama: “Why do you have to make such disturbingly realistic comments, Naruze? …Eh?”
Gold Mar: “What’s the matter?”
Asama: “Well, um, for some reason Shirojiro-kun and Heidi’s divine punishment is set for tomorrow morning. They were given a one-day extension.”
Vice President: “Did they perform some devout act to earn that?”
Just then, a sign frame popped up with a divine transmission from the Musashi group.
Marube-ya: “Wait, wait, Masazumi! Don’t make it sound like we kowtowed to that god!”
Vice President: “Huh? What other way was there?”
Marube-ya: “Judge! Just as the date changed, we used a bit of a trick to embezzle public funds again! And then, y’know, they needed time to calculate out the cumulative punishment, so we get to wait until tomorrow! Hooray!”
Flat Vassal: “Guarrrrrds!!”
Masazumi heard the Treasurer’s Aide doubling down.
Marube-ya: “What, the guards? Don’t be silly, Adele! We were long since arrested and Shiro-kun is doing the ‘if you won’t pay me, I will exercise my right to remain silent’ bit!”
“But,” said the Treasurer’s Aide.
Marube-ya: “How about that, Asama-chi!? Now we get a one-day extension on the udon! If we keep this up, our crimes will pile up, but the extensions will keep us safe. We don’t need to fear your stupid divine punishments anymore!”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. The merchants are going for an extreme record in cumulative crimes. But, Asama? What does Musashi’s Shinto Representative have to say about that?”
Five seconds passed.
Asama: “Oh, I just got confirmation. The update confirms exactly what Heidi said. …Um, Heidi?”
Marube-ya: “Huh!? What!? Are you finally ready to admit that Shinto has succumbed to our greedy merchant powers!? Yay!!”
Asama: “No, it’s not that. Your god contacted me to say the udon is going to be upgraded to the thick variety.”
Marube-ya: “Waiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! No one told us that!”
Of course they didn’t, silently commented Masazumi, but there was something she had to ask.
Vice President: “Asama, just out of curiosity, what’s that about?”
Asama: “Well, it starts at the thin and hollow Inaba udon, but their obvious malicious intent this time led the Inari Shrine to say ‘You really shouldn’t have done that, kon’ in fox language, so they were just upped to Ise udon.”
Me: “Is there ever a class change to kishimen?”
Marube-ya: “W-wait, Toori-kun! Don’t egg Asama-chi on! No kishimen! My shape will forever change if I start expelling that!”
Wise Sister: “Yeah, you probably would end up as something like a female version of a flathead screwdriver. So why not do it again to get the cross shape of a Phillips head!? And you can gradually go for something more complex, like a naruto shape!”
The boys fell to their knees when they imagined it, but that surpassing human language was the usual way of things for that girl.
Asama: “Anyway, Heidi, please be careful. …Do it again and it might be sara udon, which means the noodles are fried crispy.”
Marube-ya: “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow! I can almost feel it just from imagining it! And Asama-chi! What did we ever do to deserve this!?”
Asama: “This wasn’t my decision. It was the god’s.”
Marube-ya: “Th-then what would you do if it were your decision!? C’mon, your humanity is being put to the test here! Now, answer!”
Asama: “Since this is a punishment for cumulative crimes, I would probably give you an extra serving for each additional crime instead of making them thicker.”
Marube-ya: “But then it would never stop! Do you really want us turning into nonstop udon machines!?”
Vice President: “Anyway, Augesvarer, what’s your opinion of the current situation?”
Marube-ya: “Eh!? The current situation!? To be honest, it’s really making me sweat!”
Vice President: “Not what I meant! The battle situation!”
“Eh?” said Augesvarer. And then…
Marube-ya: “Judge. I think you can leave them be.”
Marube-ya: “One of the Representative Committee Head’s inherited names is Ookubo Nagayasu. According to the Testament, he was given rights to all the nation’s gold mines by Matsudaira and he was really good when it came to working with money. In fact, after his death, Matsudaira suspected he had illegally stockpiled money, so they executed his entire clan, dug up his grave, and posthumously executed him too.”
Vice President: “Yeah, that’s the one that the Testament says was probably secretly carried out by me and my dad.”
I see, thought Masazumi.
Konishi had said she was sending out the surviving northeastern transport ships so they could join with the northern unit more quickly. That would be a way to force her tactic through, but as a merchant…
“Are those two essentially making additional investments in their tactics?”
Masazumi thought about it.
…Konishi’s tactic is to get the northern unit and the transport ships together as soon as possible.
That would leave some insurance in case Hashiba’s main unit was defeated. Kuki and the others had agreed to it.
Musashi would have to respond quickly since it changed the initial layout of the Kantou Liberation. Ookubo was acting as the negotiator there, but…
…What will she do?
Just as Masazumi wondered that, two things happened.
The first was their small transport ship finishing its turn.
And the second…
Nagaya-Stable: “Now, how about we get moving too?”
It was Ookubo.
She gave a certain command.
Nagaya-Stable: “Satomi, have your small transport ship ascend.”
Nagaya-Stable: “The advantages of having this transport ship ascend here are as follows.”
She listed them out.
Nagaya-Stable: “Are you listening?”
“1: We can ram the transport ship into the isolated northern unit.
“2: The Satomi Liberation god of war unit can be brought back onboard to hasten their invasion.”
Nagaya-Stable: “3: The extra elevation gives me many more options.”
The roaring of the virtual ocean and the rumbling of mechanical parts came from the north as the small transport ship ascended.
Ookubo saw a 200m ship above the forest. That was small as far as aerial ships went, but it was quite large compared to a person.
It made a calm ascent. The movement of the air was clear and the forest’s air was sucked away to the north.
She spoke while feeling that slight breeze.
“Now, what will you do, Konishi Yukinaga?”
She knew Konishi was the type to make improvised decisions after gathering up a great many options. That was why Ookubo revealed everything she was doing and did not alter the original form of the invasion.
She would not give her opponent any options. And on top of that…
“This was the one option we had not used. …So how will you respond?”
The response arrived quick.
Koni-ko: “That’s an interesting move you’re pulling there. But…is Musashi really willing to ram a transport ship into people? I’d like to hear about that.”
I knew it, thought Ookubo.
Musashi had never rammed a transport ship into actual people. Even in the battle against the Shirasagi Castle, that had only been preparatory blasts meant to shake the Shirasagi Castle. And when leaving the Edo ruins, they had used it like a battering ram.
The Vice President had worked to give this kind of attack a dirty image.
The other side had of course noticed that, so…
…Konishi is here to call our bluff.
But there was one way to respond when someone called your bluff.
Nagaya-Stable: “Konishi Yukinaga.”
She said it.
Nagaya-Stable: “Are you really willing to test me here?”
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