Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 51
Chapter 51: Runners on the Grading Desk
Oh, don’t mind me
Don’t mind me and stay there
Please stay where you are
Point Allocation (No Wayyyy)
Muneshige leaped into the dark forest while ducking low and focusing on his own movements.
It had been a while since he fought alone in a battle.
And with so many enemies…
…I have plenty of opportunities to see how much I can accomplish.
Gin must have understood that because she was not supporting him. But it did make him happy to know she was waiting for him to return.
So he went on.
There were 20 enemies, but his goal was not just to defeat them.
…I must defeat them without letting them respond!
He had a reason for that: the enemy who had fought Yagyuu Munenori.
Gin was absolutely right. The enemy had definitely predicted the two of them would be climbing that cliff.
They could not let the enemy track their movements.
If they let that happen, the enemy would prepare some kind of interception.
So they could not hold a “battle” here.
They had to silently break through.
That would negate any way for the enemy to detect their presence. And…
…That is something that “Tachibana Muneshige” should be able to do.
He circled around most of the enemy group and leaped lightly through the night.
The enemy was hiding in the forest and they were on guard.
They were all facing outwards and holding their guns at the ready. They made sure a portion of their field of vision overlapped with the next person over to secure a field of vision larger than a single person could accomplish.
But Muneshige was already passing along the tops of the trees.
He leaped directly above the center of the enemy group.
And he dropped down.
He used the underbrush to ensure he landed silently. He placed his center of gravity on each individual blade of grass in turn to “ride” them.
He softened the impact using his toes, ankles, knees, and hips. He had entirely eliminated his body weight by the time his feet touched the ground.
This was much easier than walking on a blade.
As a result, he dropped into the center of the enemy without even whipping up the wind.
The enemy group had their bodies and faces turned outwards and he had dropped into the center.
He could see the seated backs of the enemy arranged in 360 degrees around him.
There were 20 of them and a sub-commander stood at the center of each cardinal direction. One man was crouched down while holding up a sign frame used to send orders to the others.
He would be their commander.
When someone discovered something, his job was to use that communication channel to inform the others instantly.
Muneshige crouched down behind him.
Now, he thought. How should I defeat him?
The others might notice if communications were cut off, so…
…In that case.
When he crouched down next to the man and called out to him, the man turned toward him.
The confusion on his face was plain to see, so Muneshige grabbed his divine transmission sign frame and pulled it aside.
It was a Catholic one. Muneshige had used that type back in Tres España, so he knew how to operate it. This is an upgraded version, he realized, but he knew holding down the shift key was probably still how you unlocked it.
Now the communications would not be cut off. He activated a silencing spell he had on hand to shut out all the sounds they would be making.
Okay, he thought while turning toward the commander with a smile.
“Judge. Everything is fine now.”
A blade was suddenly thrust toward his face.
The commander thought to himself while making an immediate attack on the enemy who had appeared next to him without warning.
…This is the exact opposite of fine!
To be honest, he felt more resignation than he did panic or surprise.
They had done everything by the book, yet someone had silently made it into the center of their formation. And based on the information from Asano Yoshinaga, who had told them to intercept the enemy here…
…This is Tachibana Muneshige!
He had been Tres España’s 1st Special Duty Officer.
Tres España’s Vice Chancellor was the defense type, so their main attacker had been this boy since he was one of the Logismoi Oplo users known as the Eight Great Dragon Kings.
Could a non-name inheritor like this man really stand up to someone like that?
The textbooks said he could not know without trying, so…
At the very least, he had managed to make an attack. That would buy them some time. However…
Tachibana Muneshige had vanished from the path of his right short sword.
He had dodged it.
But that did not make his attack a waste. Forcing him to move meant a time loss for that opponent.
Was that enough of an accomplishment against a name inheritor?
The commander knew he had at least completed one job while someone’s name came to mind.
She was a first year name inheritor.
The commander knew those first year name inheritors had probably only come to the Keichou Campaign to build up some experience.
And yet that girl was now fighting on the front line.
He knew why that was.
He and the other upperclassmen had not dealt with the enemy appropriately. That was why a first year had to pick up the slack.
That first year name inheritor was trying to make a surprise attack on Ookubo’s unit which was the enemy’s central command here.
According to the earlier communique from her, she was being pursued by Tachibana Muneshige, Tachibana Gin, and Yagyuu Munenori.
She apparently knew where Ookubo’s unit was, so now it was their turn.
But I’m pretty pathetic myself.
I lost my lernen figur, I allowed a silencing spell to be cast, and the others have no idea the battle is here.
But wait. We’re veterans too. They should notice that something isn’t right. Surely they will. Yes, notice it. Please notice it. You had better notice it. Turn around!
They aren’t turning around. This is hopeless. My men don’t know the first thing about looking after their superior officer.
He knew they were all watching Asano’s desperate run and the messages she sent.
They were pawns.
Even she would only see them as tools to slow down the enemy.
Of course she did. They were covering their faces for this nighttime battle and they had barely spoken with her. Only someone with considerable battlefield experience would let a connection like that affect their emotions.
He and his group had that experience.
Go, name inheritor.
He spoke aloud as he recalled seeing that first year running away from here.
Go, first year name inheritor. Even if you don’t achieve the result you want, you will eventually reach the level of the person we’re facing right now and then you can protect us and achieve those results.
They had watched her desperately run away from here.
No matter their relationship, anyone would side with someone who showed that kind of desperate effort.
…In that case…
He swung his body forward and swung back the elbow of his outthrust arm.
…Can I still be of some use?
He was the commander, so he wanted to keep at it longer than this. But…
When he threw his elbow back and turned around, he did not find the enemy there.
This was his limit.
Muneshige sensed the sharpness of his enemy’s action.
That man really was a veteran upperclassman.
…Hashiba’s superior officers really are quite well trained.
He could tell they had fought in many intense battles. And one of their roles here was definitely to teach and assist their rookie underclassmen.
If he had stayed in Tres España, he might have fought alongside these fellow Habsburg warriors against Hexagone Française.
After dodging the elbow strike that nearly caught him off guard, Muneshige readied Kamenuki.
He moved his body behind this enemy.
He jabbed Kamenuki’s blade into the commander’s shoulder joint from below.
He did not hit the bone because he did not want to make the man collapse.
It was a piercing blow. That opened the tendons, causing the man’s arm to go limp and dangle down. And…
The man tried to raise his voice, so Muneshige sent karate chops at both sides of the man’s back nearly up at the armpits.
The impacts were light, but they were timed with the breath meant to raise his voice.
…That will shake his diaphragm and give him trouble breathing.
That was exactly what happened.
The enemy lost his voice.
The rest was easy. The man quickly tried to move his legs, so Muneshige jabbed the blade into the back of his knees to make his legs go limp as well.
He grabbed the man’s back and shoved forward to get him to collapse onto the ground. But without making a sound. He silently controlled the man’s back so he landed on the ground using the same balance control he had when landing here.
He now had the man pinned.
Just to be certain, he made strikes to the outer edges of the man’s thighs. That was the starting point of the leg tendons, so numbing him there would leave his legs entirely unusable after the previous blows to the backs of the knees.
He could not use his shoulders either, so he could barely move with his four limbs sprawled out on the ground.
That left the enemy’s back. Muneshige dropped the butt end of Kamenuki into the center of the man’s back to knock the air from his lungs.
That sealed off his voice again.
But that was when Muneshige saw the commander man looking back over his pinned shoulder.
Muneshige saw a great power there, so…
Without nodding, he made a karate chop to the man’s brainstem.
There was no nod, sympathy, or praise there.
He simply defeated him. That was his courtesy to the man for not losing his fighting spirit.
His enemy had lost consciousness and that was enough.
He had needed to go that far with this opponent. They had both known it and it was the greatest praise he could have given him.
All of that was to suppress the one enemy.
Gin had taught him how to suppress others.
During the middle stages of their sword training in the past, he had repeatedly been suppressed by her after an incomplete loss.
…That really takes me back.
He reminisced while moving on to the next enemy. He decided to simply focus on defeating the enemy this time so he could speed up the process.
Gin counted the enemies Muneshige had defeated in the forest.
There were no sounds or movements for her to observe. Muneshige was a skilled martial artist. Not even the 1st Special Duty Officer was better than him at eliminating the wind that would produce sounds and movement.
So she was instead counting his timing.
They lived together, so she knew his body quite well. And that included his skeletal structure and muscle distribution.
So she knew how many steps it would take him to move a certain distance and how far his arms could reach.
She could make a pretty good guess of where the enemy vanguard and the rest of their unit were located. She also knew how many there were.
From there, she just had to measure it all out based on him. She pictured the movements he always made in training and predicted how long it would take.
She could imagine it all.
His movements were a lot like her own. Because…
…That really takes me back.
She had performed this kind of suppression technique on him from time to time.
In the beginning, the sword training had been enough to leave him unconscious, but once he learned how to block her attacks, things had grown more difficult.
He had started out unable to stand up to her with a sword, but once he had learned to hold his own with a sword, he had gotten cocky.
So to take him down a peg, she had shifted to grappling techniques once he blocked her swords.
Europe had close-quarters combat techniques too, but Muneshige had been young and worked as a newspaper and mail delivery boy.
She had often thrown him and he had often flown through the air.
After all, she had needed to convince him to never return.
But return he had. So she had slammed him against the ground even harder and pinned him down.
Once she pinned him down and got him to admit defeat, the day’s training was over. That simplicity may have been a lot easier for her.
Thinking back, she had felt a need to end it quickly. Because spending too much time on him would have meant admitting she was growing soft.
That may have been why she had decided at the time that she would only touch him with her hands. Even when grappling, she made sure never to touch him with anything else.
But one day, the training had come to a sudden end after she started grappling.
When she reached out to pin him down, he had grabbed her hand first.
He had grabbed her wrist. That kept her from holding a weapon, so it was a fatal mistake on her part. However…
She had used her other hand to slam him to the ground. He had rolled two or three times from the force of the impact, but she had left that place without even bowing to signal the end of training. She had tried to catch her breath and suppress her racing pulse at the well behind her estate and she had not admitted it to herself at the time, but…
…I was inexperienced.
She had refused to admit to herself that he had “suppressed” her when he grabbed her wrist.
She had only accepted it all when he had chopped off both her arms.
Stubbornness resided in the center of your body and it was worn on the outside. It was the armor worn when resisting something.
Only after he had cut away everything except her stubbornness had she found herself with no other armor to wear.
Her current wrists would be hard to grab.
She could also detach those arms, but…
…When did we learn how to suppress someone by holding them in your arms?
She sighed while thinking about that. And…
“Is your healing complete, Master Yagyuu? Then we need to get going.”
“Eh? But Tachibana Muneshige-sama still hasn’t left the forest.”
“The battlefield is on the move, so we do not have time to wait for him to leave the forest. Once he suppresses that group, he will attack the enemy who was pursuing you.”
By her assessment, Muneshige still had to defeat about two more. However…
“We can build up some speed while he defeats the rest. Do you see why?”
She stepped forward and started to run while speaking to the boy who followed.
“If we do not build up speed now, we cannot keep up with him.”
They got going.
In her imagination, Muneshige had just finished defeating the enemies and was starting to run.
He was looking back toward her and calling to them with a smile.
She did not need to see him to know. That was how it had always been.
Even when he grabbed her wrist and she had turned tail and fled.
Keep an eye on the path ahead.
Katou Yoshiaki saw two battlefields while viewing it all from the sky above the Uraga Channel.
One was a fleet battle and the other was a ground battle.
She was preparing to participate in the aerial one.
So she was waiting for an opportunity above the aerial fleet sticking half out over the Uraga Channel.
Kuki could order her to fly in at any moment, but as time passed, she began observing the surrounding situation using the Magie Figur open by her hands.
…This is a real pain.
Kuki had decided earlier that the enemy’s aerial fleet was primarily meant to delay them. They were meant to keep the Hashiba aerial fleet busy until the ground battle was complete, hence the delaying tactics.
That was of course a strategy they had to consider. After all, the other side had the greater quantity while their side had the greater quality. And with the ironclad fleet in a defensive formation akin to holing up in a castle, the enemy could not actively make an attack.
So the enemy had found a way to use that siege-like situation.
They had realized the Hashiba fleet could not move out and attack, so they were preventing the Hashiba fleet from firing in toward the land.
They fortified their defenses and handled all of the cannon fire meant for the surface battle.
And Ookubo, the commander of the ground battle, had banned any ground forces from firing on Kuki’s fleet as part of her negotiations.
Musashi’s ground unit had shot down one of their light warships.
“Although the snipers need a fairly stable position to pull that off, so who knows if they could do it a second time.”
Still, it had been proven on-site that they could do it.
And then they had banned themselves from doing it again.
After all, despite the enemy’s stance, Kuki’s fleet was not banned from firing on the enemy ground unit.
They were free to fire.
But firing would change the public opinion.
They would be firing on a non-resisting opponent who had stated they were dividing up the battlefield. Even if the negotiations never actually banned that, it would still harm Hashiba’s reputation. Especially in Kantou where anti-Hashiba sentiment was already common. They wanted to avoid stirring up more hatred than necessary.
But some situations would require they fire regardless.
…Like if our ground unit is about to lose.
If that happened, Kuki was sure to insist he made the decision to fire all on his own.
That was their insurance and a way of feeling some peace of mind about the situation.
“Although that also means we’ve been pushed to the point where we need that.”
That was the situation.
Their fleet had lost the Miura Peninsula warships that the gods of war had shot down and they had lost the fleet shot down by the god of war unit over the Uraga Channel.
Plus the one ship shot down by the enemy ground unit earlier.
Meanwhile, none of their ships had been shot down by the enemy aerial fleet.
That was because the ironclad ships were taking almost all of the enemy fleet’s shells.
They had defense barriers and thick armor.
And it was no coincidence that they had survived with just those two things.
“Hashiba’s instincts were correct in not allowing Houjou to participate.”
Yoshiaki considered Houjou’s fighting force.
Their nation had more or less fallen at this point, but most of their fighting force remained intact thanks to the duels that took the place of the Siege of Odawara. Their gods of war had been delivered to Hexagone Française, but they still had their mechanical phoenixes.
“If they had fired those Descending Light Bombs, even the ironclad ships would’ve been in trouble.”
They likely had the battle reports from Takigawa to thank for this. The Sanada ninjas had also sent them a variety of information, so Hashiba had been able to take that strategy into consideration during the pre-battle negotiation.
The real problem was the battles to come. Houjou’s technology was sure to end up with Musashi.
Curious, Yoshiaki sent a transmission to the Azuchi.
The reply was a little delayed. After a roar from the enemy’s cannons, she had to wait the span of two breaths.
Kuro-Take: “Oh, yes, yes. What is it, Yoshiaki-san?”
Kimee: “Houjou was under P.A. Oda’s rule, so did they share any of their tech?”
Kuro-Take: “Testament. That would be Niwa-san’s jurisdiction. After all, she was made the superior officer in Kantou when she was managing Date. She’s sure to have received and been left with a lot of things from Houjou. We needed that for Mitsunari-san, after all.”
“In that case,” muttered Yoshiaki.
Kimee: “Does that mean they started developing new weapons after leaving Niwa’s control? Just how strongly are they betting on Musashi?”
Kuro-Take: “Not on Musashi. On the nation that provided Houjou an ending.”
“So,” said Takenaka.
Kuro-Take: “Musashi took that spot and Hexagone Française was rejected.”
Yoshiaki paused before finally agreeing with her.
…Maybe I do need to have more confidence in how I talk about these international issues.
But, she added while looking to her Magie Figur.
Kuki had sent her a request to prepare to attack.
It would soon be her turn. But at the same time…
“I wonder what’s happening down on the ground.”
No one had been able to reach one member of her underclassmen for a while now.
Kani had told her about this.
“Asano Yoshinaga. …Will this be the first decisive move in the ground battle?”
Asano ran through the forest.
She was climbing a slope. It was a natural slope not packed down by feet, so it was more fragile than she had expected.
She had cast a physical strengthening spell on herself and she was using a lightweight mobile shell, but…
…This is rouuuugh!
She had trained outdoors a lot more over the past year, but she was still the indoorsy type. She could not keep running at full speed like this.
But she had to hurry.
She knew where the enemy – Ookubo – was.
As soon as the cannon blast had hit Yagyuu Munenori, the ninja samurai who had been pursuing her all this time, she had turned to the northwest. By reflecting the path he had taken in regards to the cliff, she could almost perfectly figure out the angle he had last been facing.
He would have been constantly aware of Ookubo’s location while pursuing her. He would have wanted to take the shortest route to attack her and then take the shortest route back.
When he had sped up to catch her, she had predicted where that “turnback” point would be. The spot where he had decided he would pass “the shortest route” was where his turning point would be.
So when he had sped up, she had guided him to the cliff.
It had worked.
But she had made a mistake in confirming Yagyuu’s opening, even if it had been from a distance.
“I caaan’t believe Tachibana Muneeeshige caught uuup to…me!”
First the Yagyuu family and now the Tachibana family. It was too much. Also, Tachibana Muneshige was faster than she had expected. She had looked up information on him and learned he did have experience moving through forests, but his speed was still greater than she expected.
This was bad.
That was why she had asked the upperclassmen team to intercept him.
But she had not heard anything from them.
She had given them that job, but she had not honestly expected them to stop the enemy. However…
The enemy was not immediately attacking her.
That meant those upperclassmen had done their job.
The enemy was only catching up because she was slow.
Honestly, she thought. This isn’t who I am at all.
Her grades in classroom subjects were the top in her year. She had used those grades as a shield to get by this far. So when she came to the battlefield, she had assumed a first year like her would be given a backup role in order to build up experience, but…
…Here I am fighting on the front liiine!
Also, she had already been given a task and she had already given a task to others.
She had to show something for this.
Yeah, that’s right. This is so much pressure. I’m already exhausted, so much expectation is being piled onto me alone, and the problem I’m facing has an S difficulty level. But…
I’m always under this kind of pressure, she thought.
She had always been top of her class and in the best 3 for her age in M.H.R.R.
At school, she made it look like she did not do anything special.
But once she got home, she would crawl into bed, curl up, and go to sleep.
She would only sleep for a mere hour and a half, but that was what she needed to reset herself after getting home from school.
Once she awoke, it was like being in another world.
She did not watch TV and she did not chat with her friends on the divine network. She would only study.
She did not do anything fancy.
She would simply reread the textbooks from the start to however far they had gotten.
If problems were given, she would solve them.
If she needed to learn something, she would do so.
If she was supposed to understand something, she would make sure she could explain the logic behind it.
She repeated the process every single day. And that put her at the top.
She felt that was the result of her daily practice, but she knew the real reason she did it every day.
She was repeating the same thing over and over.
She would eventually learn everything and repeat it more for the peace of mind it brought than to actually absorb the contents.
You might could call it an addiction. And at that point…
…You go forrr memorizaaation.
She would work to see how much of it she could memorize.
So before a test, she would challenge herself. She would see if she could recite the massive amount of content on the test and everything that came before.
If she forgot even a single thing, it filled her with unease.
She would not allow herself to miss anything at all.
She had lived like this for so long now.
Had she chosen to become a name inheritor as a part of that? Or had she gone crazy? She had always been the kind of person who only did karaoke on the weekend or in the first hour after school, and then she went and did that. But…
She was first at school.
But all those people who were not first were under so much more pressure than her, yet she was still doing her best, ordering them around, and trying to come up with an idea. Why was that?
No, she thought.
She was alone right now. She was in another nation, it was night, she was in the forest, and she was running fast enough to leave even her voice behind.
So she could think this.
She could think the thing she always felt when under the covers.
She moved her hand as she thought. The enemy was coming, so it was too late to worry about them noticing where she was.
She activated a spell and launched an attack while forming the words in her heart.
…How looong am I going to keep doing this?
Muneshige saw the enemy’s attack.
Bullets suddenly flew in from his surroundings while he ran through the dark forest.
…Does she use a gun?
He recalled the technique used by Kakei Juuzou of the Sanada Ten Braves. The bullets he fired were transported to a blind spot. That had given the Vice Chancellor and 5th Special Duty Officer some trouble, but his body movements had been impressive too.
Ever since the Battle of Kanagawa, all of their close-quarters combat fighters were showing signs of trying out more sideways movements.
Quickly sliding the feet, sliding them in a crisscrossing path, or making turning slides looked difficult, so had he been mistaken when he saw the Chancellor and his sister pulling it off quite easily during the Odawara festival?
…No, they are a different category altogether.
Right now, he was using a variation of a side step.
Sliding was difficult in the forest or on slopes. The Sanada Ten Braves and other ninjas could pull it off, but he instead performed a somewhat crisscrossing side step where he took a step and pulled his other leg toward and a bit past the first one.
It somewhat reduced the number of steps he could take, but since it brought his legs together and then past each other, he could move with more stability. This was especially good because it did not give his upper body much vertical movement and that allowed him to dodge with his upper body while he ran.
He swung his upper body to slip through the enemy bullets.
But another attack arrived soon thereafter.
He heard the gunshots. There were six of them.
And that was not all.
He was somewhat surprised by the rock.
A fist-sized rock suddenly rolled toward his running feet.
Dodging it would have messed with his pace, so he instead stepped on it.
He used a balancing technique to step over it and accelerate.
Then another rock arrived.
And this time, it was at face height.
It had not been thrown from the distance. It had suddenly appeared in front of him and had seemingly been launched.
…What is this?
Muneshige realized the rocks and the bullets were the result of the enemy’s spell.
“It seems Sir Yagyuu’s guess was correct!”
Just as he said that, he sensed a smell mixed in with the night air.
It was the gentle smell that moss and trees created in the night.
It came from overhead.
Three fallen trees had suddenly appeared in the sky.
After the rock was thrown in front of his face to distract him, these were dropped from above. With their size, they had the volume needed to crush him.
…So she came prepared.
Muneshige thought about the spell the enemy was using.
It was indeed what Munenori had told him it would be.
“A phase space spell!”
Asano stopped showing any restraint with her spell.
Her spell was a simple one. It only allowed her to partition and open up a phase space the size of a transport ship container.
It was not meant for combat. If she had learned a combat spell, she had feared she would be placed on the front line. Of course, her present situation showed reality was not that kind, but at the time, she had assumed this spell would be safe.
…And I thoughhht maybe it would come in handy at hooome.
Her family ran a fruit store. M.H.R.R. was a fairly carnivorous culture, so they ate some foods a lot more than others. That was why her family’s business was built around a primarily female customer base, but…
“I never imagined a spell I thoughhht might be useful for thaaat would come in handy herrre.”
The standard size of a container was 5x5x24 meters.
With a major contract, a person could possess a phase space of that size as a divine protection.
But she had made it so she could partition the space and manage the partitioned spaces separately. And she could partition it down to the centimeter.
That would be meaningless for the average person.
They would have no need to divide up, pack up, and transport so many things and they could not keep track of and manage it all anyway.
But she could do it.
She could memorize what was in that space and where.
That just left setting it all up.
She would load guns in just before they fired and she could also insert pseudo-anti-ship cannons. She also made sure not to forget a jamming spell to prevent her opponent from using divine transmissions. After that, she only had to load up the things she could procure on the scene.
…Then I partition them out and uuuse them!
She would predict any possible battlefields, any paths the enemy might use, the timings at which they would step, and the heights at which their bodies would rise and fall. She would also observe them directly as she set things up in the air or on the ground.
She had even placed observation spells in the air.
The enemy thought they were running through a dark forest, but they were essentially running through a long tunnel-like space filled with her traps.
She was close to her goal now.
She had crossed the ridge.
She had seen eastern Bousou through the trees for just a moment.
Past the descending forest, she had seen Edo Bay below and the aerial battle above.
What looked like white clouds in the distant sky had to be the stern of the Musashi.
She could hear cannon fire.
She realized the wind had changed. A night wind rose toward the ridge and reached her head-on.
She could smell it. If she descended the slope below her, she was sure to find Ookubo.
She knew what that girl looked like. She also knew what weapons she used and how she fought.
She had her own weapon, but pursuit was approaching from behind. So…
“Howww will this work out?”
She resumed running as if collapsing down the slope ahead of her.
And she sent one of her best traps toward the enemy pursuing from behind.
“If they’re smart, I hooope this surpriiises them.”
“I need to use my head here!”
Muneshige chose to avoid the falling trees without relying on his body.
This enemy was doing quite well at predicting his actions.
…But not as well as Gin does!
Confident of that, he used his chosen method of dodging.
It was a headbutt.
A rock had been thrown at his head as a feint, so…
He bent his head back and then headed it like a ball.
Tres España’s Chancellor’s Officers primarily came from the baseball team, but soccer was also quite popular among the people there. Back when he had primarily worked as a delivery boy, he had been invited to join corporate soccer teams a few times.
He had never actually played outside of classes and had grown much more hooked on sword fighting, which took things three steps past a sport with the very simple rule of “kill them and you win”. But…
…When heading a ball, you send it straight ahead or a little downward!
He actually remembered a lot from his athletic classes.
He felt some pain and the rock bounced straight ahead.
And he aimed Kamenuki toward that rock.
“Fly and pierce it, Kamenuki.”
Kamenuki activated its power to accelerate toward the targeted object.
Muneshige balanced his body to match and took a step with his hips out in front.
The rapid flight only lasted a few meters.
The long-bladed spear accurately pierced the flying rock.
As for the falling trees…
They fell behind him.
He had already moved out ahead. He swung his arm to slice through the rock with Kamenuki’s blade.
He ran. He was near the ridge and if he made it past that…
Something appeared in front of him.
It was water. But this was not just some drips or a trickle. It was a massive…
Asano’s trap became a flash flood that crashed down the slope from the ridge.
Asano heard the muddy current erupt out.
That had been her biggest trap to leave for a pursuer.
She had compressed water taken from a forest stream and filled all of the gaps left between the other cargo, so she only had to release all of that when needed.
It also worked well to clean the phase space.
Of course, this was not guaranteed to stop the enemy.
However, she had done what she could. So now…
…I keep going.
Please, my running feet, don’t stop until I reach the enemy.
I mean it. I beg of you, please don’t trip here.
But I’m still worried.
I haven’t memorized anything about this place. This isn’t a test and I’m not comparing myself to someone else.
Why am I still running when I’m feeling so worried?
She realized her running had grown sloppier. She had managed to dodge out of the way of all the tree branches before, but now they were scratching at her arms and cheeks.
Don’t worry about it. She had been climbing the slope before, so she had been moving slower and had more time to dodge.
Now she was moving downhill and focusing more on speed. Also, the enemy was up ahead, so she no longer needed to worry about dodging the branches.
Her breathing was heavy.
It isn’t possible, she suddenly realized.
…I caaan’t do it.
She always thought this while lying under the covers. She would curl up, tell herself she would not feel that way once she woke up, and fall asleep.
But now she could not go to sleep. She had to stay awake the entire time and the world would continue uninterrupted as she ran.
Darkness surrounded her.
She could only keep running through her worries. But that was why…
…Maybe I really caaan’t do it.
She was running, but pursuit was right behind her.
Tachibana Muneshige was after her.
He was at the level of a Vice Chancellor and his wife Gin was at the level of a Special Duty Officer. And for that matter, Yagyuu Munenori’s skill was real even if his inherited name was only provisional.
She had tried to act big with nothing but her grades to go on, so how were things supposed to work out for her with them after her?
Besides, would she even find Ookubo if she kept running this way?
What if she had misread her location or been chased in a different direction?
Her breathing grew even heavier. No, she had felt this kind of worry countless times before. It was nothing new.
Oh, come on, she thought. This was so painful, pathetic, and agonizing, so…
Why did she see a group of people down the slope from her?
Asano had spotted the enemy.
Fouuund them! she cheered while still wondering why. But she actually knew the answer.
…I knowww why!
Because I’m smart. That was why she found Ookubo’s unit. That was why she ran at full speed. That was why she prepared for a fight. That was why she readied her final spell.
She did not stop running. She could activate her spell on the move and she did not want to leave herself vulnerable to an attack from a pursuer or interceptor. She would activate her spell and run on through. She could check on the result afterwards.
She was 12 meters away. She checked for pursuit, but…
She activated the spell and pulled something from the air.
“A pseudo-antiii-ship cannon!”
Just as she opened her phase space, she saw the enemy.
That was the person Konishi had been negotiating with. It was a glasses girl wearing a Far Eastern summer uniform with light armor attached.
She was a year above Asano.
That was Ookubo. She had the unique aura of a smart person. And…
She had a boldness to her that Asano lacked.
And it was not a bluff. Her demeaner exuded a natural boldness.
Asano wondered if she would be like that next year.
She did not know.
But she had seen her target, so…
She gave herself her final rationalization.
“I don’t need a reason anyyymore!!”
She only had to fire.
So she did.
The cannon blast passed by her as it raced through the air.
But in that instant, she saw a short figure rush in between her and Ookubo.
It was Yagyuu Munenori.
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