Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 52
Chapter 52: Someone Looking up From the Gap
Just how easy
And hard is it
To pursue someone
And catch up to them
Point Allocation (Depends on the Person)
…I made it!!
Munenori had squeezed out every last ounce of strength.
Yagyuu Munenori had run here with the intent of draining his stamina.
He was not alone.
Tachibana Gin had accompanied him part of the way and had managed his incomplete healing spells to fully heal him.
Tachibana Muneshige had pursued the enemy and altered her route ever so slightly.
That just left him.
He had given Gin a nod before rushing forward and hearing a battle in the distance.
Two warriors at the name inheritor level had supported him, so he was not going to screw it up like last time. Besides…
…I’m in front of Lady Ookubo!
Her #1 bodyguard could not afford to make a mistake.
He was out of breath, but moved his entire body all the same.
A great many things had allowed him to come this far. But, he thought.
His words became a shout that continued from the “that’s why”.
“I have to do this!!”
A giant hammer was summoned into his raised hand.
His target was right there in front of him.
He used his full body to throw acceleration into the Golden Hammer and send it toward the enemy’s artillery blast.
Asano saw something like sparks.
The ether cannon had been intercepted almost directly in front of her.
“Thaaat’s not good.
Based on past records, this enemy’s attack could fully deflect her own.
It created sparks, a roar, an impact, and a blast of air.
He had launched his attack.
It was the blast of air more than the impact that hit Asano.
Her body was immediately struck and her mobile shell was damaged. By the time the defense spells had opened across her body, she had been tossed into the forest where she found herself rolling along the ground.
But she had definitely seen Yagyuu Munenori looking straight at her from beyond the sparks.
His body had been covered in scrapes.
How hard had he pushed himself to pursue her?
She did not try to stop her roll. She only hoped she would end up on her back once she came to a stop.
Ookubo looked to her left while fixing her hair after the blast of air blew it.
She saw Yagyuu Munenori gasping for breath while down on his knees.
She breathed a sigh and spoke to the heavily-breathing boy.
“Well done. You have changed the state of the battlefield.”
“Don’t force yourself to speak.”
“B-but,” he said while letting his upper body fall a bit forward. “Why didn’t you…move elsewhere… You must have heard…my Golden Hammer…”
“Judge, I did hear it. And I knew you were telling me to withdraw.”
After hearing him ask why she had not moved, she responded while typing on her sign frame.
“I knew you would get here before the enemy. So that seemed like the better option. And since that is what indeed happened, Kanou-kun is over there laughing.”
Yagyuu’s upper body really did collapse now. He supported himself with his head and knees.
He must have been exhausted, but he was gradually catching his breath.
…I would expect no less from him.
Just then, someone approached from the underbrush near his head.
“The Tachibana Couple.”
She saw the husband carrying the wife as he stepped out onto the grass with a smile.
“Oh? Looks like you held off the enemy well enough.”
“What were you two doing?”
“Judge.” Tachibana Gin descended from his arms and nodded. She glanced over at Yagyuu before answering. “Master Muneshige was certain that boy would do his duty, so he went surfing.”
“Well, when that flash flood arrived, I looked behind me and noticed a large fallen tree there, so I figured that was a good a way of escaping as any. …I had seen Sir Yagyuu running off already, so I decided to let that job return to him.”
“Master Muneshige, you are trying to regain your inherited name, so please stop letting other people take the credit.”
But thanks to that, a new battlefield situation had been established.
“I didn’t expect our unit to get the first victory.”
Ookubo wrote up a report to inform the other units of Yagyuu’s success. After hearing the Tachibana Couple’s conversation, she added a note that their assistance had played a major role in that success.
“Yagyuu-kun, can you stand?” she asked while sending the report.
He stood up next to her. He must have been really desperate to get here because his body and clothes were scratched up by branches. However…
“When did you get so tall?”
He was a head taller than her. But he took a breath, and…
“Milady, I will make sure to arrive before they do next time.”
“That means I’ll be in danger, right? Do something before it reaches that point.” She smiled bitterly and pointed forward. “Onward. The god of war unit will also be advancing along this line, so let’s make this something of a charge. But make sure you don’t provoke the fleet having a shootout in the sky to the right.”
The enemy unit was on the move in the distance.
Asano could hear it over the sound of her breathing and pulse which had yet to settle down.
She was lying on her back.
She was fairly certain her left shoulder was dislocated. The elbow may have been broken too, but the broken power assist divine protection of her mobile shell was the main reason she could not move most of her body.
The standard divine protections in her hard point parts were working hard to stabilize her condition. She operated a lernen figur with her right hand to prioritize healing. She left just enough of the physical buffing to endure the healing and then focused on a sedative effect.
She purged the moving parts of the mobile shell. She freed herself from it while leaving only the hip part and the back part which contained her survival kit.
Then she felt a chill.
Her body had been released from the armor restricting it.
The armor had held the heat inside, so once it was gone, her body touched the forest night air and a damp chill reached her skin.
She took a breath and finally looked up into the sky.
She could see the night sky through the valley formed by the leaves of the summer trees.
She saw the stars there.
And her ears detected the thunder-like rumbling of distant cannon fire. It reminded her of festival fireworks.
She exhaled and then filled her lungs with the chilly air. And…
Her vision blurred and heat dripped from the corners of her eyes toward her ears.
She knew this situation was a good summary of everything for her.
She knew all too well why she had failed.
Because I’m smaaart.”
Because I’m really, really smaaart.
That allowed her to come up with excuses for her failure. These were the thoughts she always had while curled up in bed with her eyes shut, except her eyes were open this time.
The footing had been poor.
There had not been much light.
The enemy had been in hot pursuit.
She could think of all sorts of reasons for her failure. And she was confident she could convince people of those reasons.
So I can protect myself even when I fail.
But why did it frustrate her so much?
She had more than enough excuses to protect herself. Hadn’t she continually thought them up and memorized them while fleeing from pursuit?
She had done what she was supposed to do. The problem was the situation and her own inexperience.
See, I’m even placing some of the blame on myself. That means I’m being rational. Now no one can complain. Everyone is sure to say I did my best.
Why did her left arm refuse to move? Her right hand was not enough to wipe away the tears.
It was so frustrating.
She thought back to that final moment when she saw the enemy’s eyes on her when he charged out in front of her.
What was with him? He’s bound to have worse grades than me and he was even more desperate than me. But…
That would be exactly why she had lost to him.
Had she actually returned his gaze back then?
She was not confident she had.
She tried to build up an excuse inside herself, but she could not.
Instead, she found a single word.
Asano asked a question.
This was not a reason beginning with “because”. It was the question used to find that reason.
Why did I lose?
She could come up with any number of reasons for it, but that was not what she wanted. This was a more fundamental issue. And…
Why am I crying when I have so many reasons to explain it away?
Yeah, she said while placing her right hand on her weeping eyes and slowly removing it.
She could see the night sky through the dark valley above her.
This was not the utter darkness below the covers. It was dark, but there were sounds, everyone was moving, and she could see into the distance.
She realized she could also hear the summer insects chirping.
She breathed while listening to that distant chirping and thinking to herself again.
That would normally have been unthinkable.
She moved. She sat up with the mobile suit removed.
She felt an awful ache in her chest. Had she broken a rib too? She could see an anesthetic spell lernen figur on her chest.
She let her body fall forward to lift her hips.
She grabbed the nearby grass even though it would provide no support and she tried to stand on her trembling legs.
She managed it.
The tears would not stop. There were bound to be tear stains on her cheeks when she regrouped with the others.
But she did not care.
She asked that of herself again as she took the first step.
She was better than other people at some things and she could protect herself, so why?
She did not know. She did not, but this had to be her first time asking this question.
She had failed, but she had gotten over the fear and anxiety and she was not thinking about quitting.
“Why does it frustrate me so much?”
She wiped away the tears as she walked off.
If she crossed the ridge to the east, would she arrive at the coast by the time the tears had stopped?
Word of Asano Yoshinaga’s defeat arrived along with notification of Ookubo’s unit’s advance.
The Musashi forces reported it as the first real victory in the Satomi Liberation, while the Hashiba forces reported it as their first real loss.
And the owners of two giant forms received those differently-framed reports on Bousou’s western beach.
“Musashi Ariadust Academy 6th Special Duty Officer – Naomasa.”
“Hashiba Warrior – Masaki Tokishige.”
The god of war Integrity spoke to Naomasa who was riding Jizuri Suzaku’s shoulder.
“Sorry,” said Tokishige through Integrity’s external speakers. “It took me until this shift in the situation to make up my mind here.”
Naomasa nodded in response.
“Well, I’m sure you have your reasons. Some idiots out there are already fighting and getting fired up over it, but you’re different. Is that the right takeaway?”
“Are you close with Yoshiyasu?”
That question brought a certain thought to Naomasa’s mind.
…I get the feeling she’s going to be a pain to deal with.
I’ve developed good instincts for when a person or a situation is going to be a pain, thought Naomasa.
She would really prefer not to deal with this. Unlike Tenzou, Toori, Urquiaga, and the others who had already reached the end of the sugoroku board and started on their second time around…
“I just want to live a normal life.”
“Then stay off the battlefield.”
Tokishige had a point.
But that had successfully dodged the question. A logical leap like that was a good way to change the subject. That was another skill she had learned while dealing with her classmates.
…They can come in handy that way.
But as soon as she thought that, she realized she would not even need those skills if those awful people were not around her all the time.
I live in a really difficult place, she realized, so…
“Your life has been difficult too, hasn’t it?”
“That is why I have already decided to fight.”
“Do you want to fight Yoshiyasu?”
After a pause, the enemy shook her head.
“Explaining would take too long.”
“That’s nothing to apologize for.” Naomasa readied Jizuri Suzaku for battle. “So let’s do this.”
She looked behind Integrity to the flight devices visible there.
Those had originally belonged to the Suzaku. And…
…If I had had those wings…
If the Suzaku had been equipped with that flight device…
…I bet I could have stopped Satomi Yoshiyori.
Then that idiot would not need to occasionally stop and stare into the distance while he was teasing Yoshiyasu.
Honestly. It was because things had worked out that way that they were in this situation, that those idiots were the way they were, and that she was the way she was. But still…
“You can’t help but feel the weight of the things that were out of reach, can you?”
“No, you can’t.”
Did the enemy have something like that too? In that case…
“Let’s do this. I want to extend my reach just a bit for next time.”
Naomasa moved the Suzaku forward.
“So I’ll be taking those wings.”
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